OH, sure, if you go by the calendar, it’s still nearly three weeks away.
Some wait until they see that the red, red robin has returned from her warm winter home in the south; others until the crocus and daffodils are pushing their way up through the soil. But here in the West San Fernando Valley, we have a different harbinger of the coming season. A most frightening omen indeed.
Last night I saw the first crane fly of spring.
Life size…? Not unless you’re somehow reading my blog on the screen of an IMAX theater.
There are those – renowned entomologists, smug Wikipedia editors, know-it-all neighborhood children, irritable 911 operators, and so on – who will naively insist to you that these obscene brutes are harmless. That the clumsy, nearly comical way they flap at you is merely due to their gangly limbs and weak wings and that they pose no danger to humans.
Don’t you believe it.
There’s a reason why the Mexican people have dubbed this creature chupacabra volando, literally “enormous evil flying goat-sucker from Hell.” Proof of the vicious, insatiable bloodlust of these demonic fiends? A distinct lack of goats in my neighborhood.
Now if these beasts could just develop a taste for rooster, maybe we’d all be able to sleep past four a.m. and the local cock-fighting syndicato would move their operation to Tarzana.
IT’S FUNNY how things work out sometimes. I was leaving the gym the other day and I came across this in the parking lot.
Can you see the seat covers in the car? They’re these:
I’d been looking for someone to take care of Nana Parsnips when I take off for Vegas for a long, lost weekend-slash-bender. What better In-Home Care-Giving Service than “California’s #One In-Home Care-Giving Service” that features the Grim Reaper as their unofficial automotive upholstery logo, right?
But it gets better, and unfortunately, if I were to prove it, I’d open myself to all sorts of litigation and even more people picking on me at the gym when they realize I’m the jackass taking pictures of vehicles in the parking lot.
Anyway: The website of their in-home care-giving service, which I ingeniously blacked out to minimize the inevitable settlement I’ll be paying for the sake of entertaining you, what, six regulars…? Well, when you visit it, and then click on the “About Us” section offering little bios of their employees…?
It plays the 1972 soul hit “Me and Mrs. Jones.”
Honest to God!
Sure, they’ll probably end up killing Nana, but at least she’ll die with a smile on her face.
They sure are thorough!
And to add insult to injury, the ticket this poor bastard got for parking in front of a fire plug was more than the cost to rebuild his truck!
LIKE YOU, in my travels around this crazy world we call the internet, I’m forever taking little screencaps (or “screengrabs” if you’re from Canada) of things that intrigue me. But enough about the contents of that folder I’ve got buried in another folder, in another folder, and so on, twenty folders deep, intentionally mislabeled “2008 Taxes.” (And yet it somehow seems to float to the top and open on its own to the delight of everyone behind the counter every single time I bring my laptop in to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.)
No, I’m talking about all these other screencaps that end up sitting on my desktop forever because I decide I need to do something with them. I need to hold them up to the light for all to see and address them somehow. Whether they’re odd, amusing or infuriating, I’m sick of seeing them here, so let’s get them off my computer and on my website, where no one will see them! Well, except for you, what, six folks, bless you. So gather ’round for the screencap clearance sale!
Did I say “sale”? My mistake! These are available to you at no charge whatsoever! All free today!
Let’s start with this one:
Oh boy, another Batman origin story! What’s it been, two months since the last one? “The origin of the Dark Knight as you’ve never seen it before!” I guess that means the overhead shot of young Bruce Wayne in short pants kneeling by his two murdered parents in the circle of light from the streetlamp above has been drawn from an exciting new angle!
I guess that’s a little, eh, esoteric if you don’t read comics.
Well, instead, try this one on for size:
Ignore the thumbnail in the middle – for now. It’s the two on the sides you need to worry about. Like you, I never noticed it before, either, until I saw this: Bill Maher looks exactly like Chris Cooper! Isn’t that weird?! I speak for all of us when I say now I’m kind of jealous of that photo in the middle! After seeing this, who wouldn’t want to be the meat in a Bill Maher / Chris Cooper sandwich?
See, this was worth a blogpost, right? Onward!
Now, this here – as you know, I’m an inveterate complainer, and I had some reason to bitch about some meal I ate at some fast food joint, so I got online and took their customer satisfaction survey. Upon doing so, I had even more to complain about! Namely, this:
It reads, in Spanish, “Click the flag to enter the Spanish version of the survey.”
“Ted, you racist bastard,” you’re saying, “How dare you have a problem with catering to those who refuse to help themselves by integrating into American society and learning English! How dare you!”
No! No no no! Dear God, no! That’s not my point at all! Jesus, no! No! ¡Dios mio, no!
No, my only point was that it seems to me a bit discriminatory of the good folks at the Yum! family of fine quick-serve (industry term) establishments to use the Mexican flag as a clickable icon for those who happen to live in America and only speak (and read) Spanish. I mean, if the language is “Spanish,” shouldn’t they use the flag for Spain? Isn’t it a little presumptuous for the Yum! people to imply that the Spanish-only-speaking folks in this fine, fine country of ours all came from Mexico?!
That was all I was getting at. Sheesh! Let’s just move on.
Came across this next one when I was on the Garmin website. As you probably know, you can update some GPSs to speak with different character voices – Muppets, Star Wars, Simpsons and, inexplicably, a Yeti that only grunts. Here, the pitch for the Cookie Monster bundle:
“Just don’t be surprised if he makes detours to the nearest bakery”…?!
Yeah, that’s what I want to read about a device whose sole purpose is to efficiently and accurately guide me to where I’m trying to go!
“Honey, my water broke an hour ago! We need to get to the hospital – I’m crowning here! Why did you drive us to Bundt Munch?!”
“I don’t know! Cookie Monster sent me here!”
“We arrive at destination! Now go in and buy me cookie! Ah num num num!”
And this – and I don’t even remember where I saw it, but like you’re doing right now, I fell in love with this sequence of images immediately:
That’s awesome! Shouldn’t this be some sort of meme? Who do you send these things in to be considered for memes? How can I nominate this one? It would totally be a cool meme, right?
This was on eBay a while back, for sale, as-is:
It’s missing seven pieces! The opening bid was $12.95! That’s crazy! I saved it as a screencap because I knew you’d think it was crazy, too! Five missing pieces – where’s the Buy-It-Now button, because I’m ready to drop forty bucks on this thing! Six missing pieces – I’ll put in a bid for twenty-five bucks and not a penny more! But seven missing pieces? Good grief! Get the hell out of here!
From the Unfortunate Choice of Words Department:
Not only will I help stomp out domestic violence, I’ll smack it around and give it a couple of black eyes while I’m at it, because it’s worthless and it was asking for it!
Hoo boy, there go half my regulars. Don’t worry, Ted, they’ll be back. They always come back.
Below a hard-hitting piece on the recent and then-trending sale of Don Knotts’ house, on the website of local hard-hitting news leader the LA Times:
Thanks for asking! Now I feel like I’m part of the story! However, the poll would have benefited from a third option, “I’m still holding out for Morey Amsterdam’s place coming back on the market.”
Last week it was time for Mr. Whiskers’ checkup and oil change. I wanted to see if he needed another goddamn rabies shot. So I did a search on it!
What an idiot I’ve been. I’ve been trying to prevent cat rabies, and here I could have been stocking up and saving on it!
Now here’s just a couple of examples of something I’ve been seeing all over the place for months. We’ve gone from the helpful, concerned-sounding “Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s” links which at least imply a modicum of concern and sympathy…to this: An alarmist, taunting, uh-oh, “good-luck-brother-you’re-gonna-need-it” angle:
Fortunately, I guess if you’re five for five on their checklist, you won’t remember how crass and cold-hearted this approach is.
This was at the top of Google News for a little while one day last week. I can’t be the only one who saw it, but here it is in case you missed it:
Later, when it wasn’t the top news item, but was knocked down on the page by a few stories, they still hadn’t fixed it!
It’s rare, but sometimes the obvious bias of the news media has delightful results. Though there are those – Leon Panetta, women in the military, and perhaps chimpanzees – who might have reason to disagree.
And speaking of Google News, from the Ya Think?! department:
Stop the presses! Stop the presses and give whoever wrote that headline a frickin’ Pulitzer! Jeez, I’m turning into Jay Leno here with the funny headlines and also the unbridled contempt and hatred all my peers have for me.
Recently, a pal without internet access (don’t ask!) asked me to go onto the IKEA website and look something up for her. Here’s a sign-up form I happened across:
Let’s go in for a closeup of the pre-checked box there, hmm?
Oh by all means, IKEA, yes! Send me inspirational emails and updates! My subscriptions to The Watchtower, Daily Devotions, The Word Among Us and Our Daily Bread have all run out and I need some spiritual guidance! Praise be to the almighty Billy Bookcase!
Like you, last month I spent some time going through my inbox, trying to stem the tide of all the time-wasting emails I get from companies when I enrolled in some store savings program. So when I clicked on the link to unsubscribe from CVS emails, I noticed two things: One, that when I signed up for the little savings card that is tied to these emails, it seems I was enrolled in the “ExtraCare Beauty Club” program. This actually makes sense because I am indeed a hideous monster and I need all the extra care I can get in the beauty department since it looks like I was beat with a club.
…And two, evidently there are enough people who consider unsubscribing from unwanted emails…but then take a long, hard look at their life and at their choices, have a change of heart and decide to give their relationship with a spam-sending company a second chance to try to make it work – there are enough of those people for said corporation to include an opt-out-of-opting-out button. These same folks, we must presume, don’t know how to close a browser window or use the backwards button. God bless them.
And God bless this guy, who seems to be a cross between Carol O’Connor and 60s character actor Liam Redmond.
“Parkinson’s, eh? This sounds like it could be a fun quiz! Maybe I’ll do better on this than I did on that Alzheimer’s one, where I only got three out of…three out of… …I wonder how late Woolworth’s is open.”
Did we find out who’s in charge of officially declaring things memes? Because, pal, I’ve got another nominee here! Or should I say “nomin-meme!” Or maybe I should really say “nom-meme-atee!”
Kind of makes you wonder just what sort of websites I’m visiting when I’m not writing this garbage, doesn’t it?
Here’s something fun I saw on a fireworks site last year. Kids love this!
You’ll pardon the “assorment” and “noveltiesi” typos. The four-year-old Chinese girl who typed this up only has seven fingers.
“At first I really wanted to be on Guy’s game show and win cash, but what am I going to do with money? An experience like this, however, is priceless.”
Five lucky second prize winners will receive a text message from Rachel Ray.
Last month I was on the disgusting City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation website. (Note here “disgusting” refers to the City of Los Angeles, not its Bureau of Sanitation nor its website.) I was trying to find out how our weekly trash pickup was affected by Martin Luther “King” Cole’s birthday, Jr. That’s when I happened across this:
Oh, sure they can have a Dead Animal Collection, they can collect dead animals free of charge, but you pick up a couple of flattened squirrels off Laurel Canyon for an art project, or for if you ever decide to teach yourself taxidermy, or just to have, and suddenly, your friends and family are quietly making calls to producers at “Confessions: Animal Hoarders.”
But more importantly: why would a website direct users to their “local yellow pages”?
We’ll end with my favorite screencap that features just two lines of text that some might say don’t go together at all:
But not me! I wouldn’t say it. I’m trying to figure out the significance of the photo they used. Is this little girl herself an evil socialist? Or is she patriotically ratting out suspected socialists in her class? I didn’t click on the image, so we’ll never know.
I think that’s plenty for today.
Man, did I pick the right elliptical at the gym today or what!
In the receptacle dealie on the left! Look! Look!
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – I couldn’t believe it either!
What’s more, there’s a good half inch left!
Couldn’t come at a better time, either – right now we’re in the middle of a dry, windy, cold snap here in Los Angeles, which has turned my usually luscious Slovak lips into a cracked, bloody mess!
WHY is it that if we’re so much more enlightened, if things are so much better here in the twenty-first century, there’s a dearth of fat, balding, middle-aged men willing to wear a diaper and put on a homemade sash for New Year’s Eve? Aside from that private club I went to once, I mean.
The festive gent seen here in a photo similar to a few hundred curiously specific 1950s New Year’s Eve snapshots floating around on the internet was identified by my dear great aunt – with a steel trap for a memory, she has – as the guy who lived across the street from my grandparents.
And now this treasured family photograph has been harvested by a handful of complete strangers for their Tumblr pages. You’re welcome! But if I see it on the cover of some awful “upcycled paper” journal on Etsy, I’ll sue you for every last hand-made knit hat with ridiculous dangly pom-pommed ear flaps that you own!
WE’VE ALL been there: You’re pals with a fan of Rachael Ray who has all kinds of Rachael Ray garbage, but you don’t know what to get her (or him!) for Christmas! Oh, pardon – or “Hanukkah!”
Head over to Target, friend, just a few aisles away from Space Mary and Joseph, and your problems will be solved!
That’s where you’ll find this!
It’s the official Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl®!
And boy, isn’t it a beaut!
“Beautiful and functional” its label says, and your Rachael Ray giftee will agree. Never has bright Cheetos-orange melamine dotted with leftover shards looked better or been more useful.
“Colorful speckled pattern is sure to add fun and flair to your cooking experience.” Hey, peeling these onions used to be a chore – since I got my Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl, I’m laughing through the tears. Got some fish to gut? Bring ‘em over! I want to keep the good times going!
And believe me, all the fun I’m having…? You know I’m packing this baby next time I go hunting and need to field dress a deer!
Someone named “Rul Ry” – a designer, perhaps, in the Rachel Ray Empire (Filipino, I reckon, by the name) – has signed off on this – with Rachael’s permission? We don’t know, but we hope so.
He tells us that “You’re going to love this Garbage Bowl!” – a short statement which offers us two important bits of information: one, that we’re going to love this Garbage Bowl and two, Garbage Bowl, a term we’ve never before heard, is now a proper noun. Don’t try playing it in Scrabble!
Rul goes on to let us know that this bowl “keeps you chopping and cooking rather than running back and forth to the garbage can.” Good news for you and me with our cavernous, airplane hangar-like kitchens with the prep counter by the east wall and, opposite, on the west – waaay over there – a trash receptacle permanently bolted to the floor. (Hiring that guy who designs ships’ galleys for the kitchen re-do seemed like a fun idea.)
Anyway, no surprise: I’ve fallen in love with this thing. I’m keeping it. As for my pal, she’ll get a Target gift card instead. But I will let her know where to find one for herself.
It’s on the shelf marked with this:
SO I was at Big Lots the other day finishing up my Christmas shopping.
I’ve taken care of the mailman, the dog walker, my pole dance instructor, the cat’s therapist, my wife’s electrolysis team, the nanny, my cane chair re-weaver, the nanny’s immigration lawyer, the housekeeper, my daughter’s pony’s ferrier, the gardeners, that airy-fairy woman who sages the doghouse twice a month, the paperboy, the baby sitter, my corset lacer, our pool guy, my haiku coach, the guy that hooked me up with free cable, my mani-pedi crew, the shoeshine boy, my personal watermelon, Bob from Sesame Street, the guy that hooked me up with my mani-pedi crew, the foreman on my ant farm, my corset unlacer, the garbagemen – pretty much everyone.
But like you, I’m always stumped: What do you get for your tattoo artist? He’s always the toughest person to shop for.
Thankfully, it was Big Lots to the rescue with a tasteful bottle of pinot grigio:
Now, this wasn’t any of that swill that Trader Joe’s peddles for two bucks. No sir – a quality wine like this’ll run you twice that.
Can we get a closeup of the label, please? Ah, here we go.
This will pair wonderfully with a 7-11 microwave oven-baked burrito in wrapper on a bed of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Or by itself, when relaxing with friends on a bus bench while wearing a trucker cap. Oh, this is perfect!
Last person crossed off the ol’ shopping list, I could finally unwind and really take in the sights of the season. Namely, hot sauce gift sets! Because, folks, what says Christmas more than the gift of hot sauce? I’ll tell you what: Nothing!
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Just a suggestion, gang…? Say you and a pal have agreed to a $20 limit and you’re giving him (or her!) the five, ten, or fifteen dollar gift of Big Lots hot sauce this holiday season…?
You can make up the difference with these.
AND Joseph went unto the city of Bethlemoon to be taxed with Mary his wife, being great with child.
And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling moon-clothes, and laid him in a space-manger; because there was no room for them at the starbase.