1. Yet Another Product with Delightfully Anachronistic Package Design!

    EVER SINCE I CAN REMEMBER, I’ve enjoyed looking at grocery items packaged in cans, boxes and bags that somehow seem like they’re from a bygone era.

    In fact, this little obsession of mine goes back so far that even as a strapping, ebullient boy I was fascinated with the anachronistic look of various grocery products when they were perfectly contemporary – yet I was so preternaturally forward-thinking that I envisioned how out of place they would be if for some inexplicable reason, decades later, they retained that same package design.

    I also visualized myself as an adult keeping a blog and writing at length about this, though of course at the time, I had no idea what a “blog” was. I presumed it to be either some sort of farmable swampland or a hybrid frog/animal that starts with “bl,” though what really confused me is why the hell I would be writing about package design when surely my marshfarm with its unholy crossbred amphibimammals would be much more interesting.

    Knowing this, it came as no surprise to anyone in my family when I was blessed with precocious puberty, though it wasn’t without its drawbacks. I recently bumped into my kindergarten teacher who confessed to me while it was handy having me around to rearrange the heavier classroom furniture, she was happy to advance me on to the first grade at the end of the year (She found the chest hair that peeked out of the collar of my striped Zoom rugby shirt “disconcerting.”) – this despite the fact that I had a lot of trouble differentiating lowercase p and q. I still think if she had bothered to sqend a little more time with me, I might have turned out puite differently.

    Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.  This is what you came here for:

    This box of Nabisco Grahams looks like it’s from…the late 1960s.
    Proof of Its Modernity: “NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP” on side panel.
    Where You’d Expect to See It: On Miss Gibson’s desk – for snack.

    I got these in the 99¢ Only store – no surprise there. What’s startling is that they were really good and I wish I bought ten boxes. (Too late! They’re gone!)

    Like you, I prefer my graham crackers to be liberally coated in cinnamon and brown sugar. But as a nude graham cracker goes, these are the best I’ve had. How did they end up in the 99¢ Only store? It’s a mystery. The bigger question is why Nabisco decided to give this the bright, bold package design look of the late 1960s. Am I complaining? No!

    …Well, a little bit, but only because I just read the other side of the box and it turns out they were made in Mexico. Well, that clears up the first mystery, anyway.

    Posted by on September 10, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  2. It Was So Hot Here Yesterday…

    IT WAS SO HOT here yesterday…

    How hot was it?

    It was so hot here yesterday, that our cat, Mr. Whiskers, got sick and puked on the patio table where it attracted a fly or two.

    And the bad part is the gardeners just came the day before, so this is just going to have to sit here until next Tuesday, stinking up the whole backyard. I was hoping to barbecue this weekend.


    However…this just might keep the little buggers away from the potato salad.

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

  3. The MDA Telethon!

    Above: Two well thought-out comments below one of the countless Jerry-Lewis-Not-Hosting-Telethon articles we were bombarded with over the last month that make the argument that Jerry somehow convinced us to give millions of dollars to fight a disease that we had no idea existed. Tell that to everyone who’s living with MD.

    AS YOU KNOW, two things that annoy me are 1) those stupid articles in “Entertainment Weekly” where the 20-something gals writing for the magazine decide they know how to “fix” some television show that’s past its prime and then outline their hopelessly fannish we-know-nothing-about-television-production process step-by-step, and 2) cashiers soliciting donations for anything when I’m trying to check out at the grocery store.

    Do they still do that in “Entertainment Weekly?” The fix-the-show articles, that is…? Like you, I haven’t read it in years, but they used to do that all the time. Also, you know who’s the worst on the whole “Would You Like To Donate A Dollar To Help Fight Some Disease” thing? Every single retail store in the state of Florida. Don’t believe me, go down to Florida and do some shopping.

    Anyway, with that in mind, that up there, two paragraphs up, with that in mind, I’m going to tell you how MDA can fix their telethon.

    First of all – did I donate anything to MDA this year?  No. But let me tell you why. Because my donation would in fact cost them money.

    I’ll explain:

    Whether or not I actually have any money, I’m always crying poverty so none of my deadbeat pals will hit me up for a loan. So all I would be able to pledge, as far as they know, would be $5.  Say I call in, pledge my five spot. Then they’ve got to send out an envelope to me, for me to send the money back in to them.

    Cost of mailing this to me? 44¢ Plus the cost of the return envelope, whatever paperwork they include, and the envelope they use to send it to me – another 17¢, easy. Already, 61¢ of my $5 donation shot to hell.

    Okay, then I’m on a mailing list, and they’ll be sending me these pleas for donations all year round, probably, and we both know I’m not going to send them any more money until next Labor Day, so after only eight more of these come-ons for donations, now they’re operating at a deficit as far as my donation was concerned.

    No sir, better for me and MDA to not even go down that road. I’ll save them the money.

    But what I will do – for free! – is fix their show so next year, they make a bunch more loot.

    First we need to address the elephant in the room with the new-sock fetish: Jerry.

    I love Jerry Lewis because he’s such a complete jacka–  …delight. Seriously, if you know anyone even on the very fringes of show biz,  you’ve heard at least one Jerry-Lewis-Acting-Like-A-Complete-Asshole story. And as my attorney points out, I’m sure none of them are true. But you’ve heard them!

    That’s why those of us who do watch, watch. No one tunes into the telethon to see Jerry act sincere about “His Kids.” We tune in to see him berate the band leader, bitch out the cameraman, and call the stage manager “Eva Braun.” We’re watching because here comes some poor schmuck from the St. Louis branch of the Knights of Columbus, proud to have been selected to go to Vegas to hand Jerry, on-camera, a check for six hundred thousand dollars. He’s nervous as hell being up there, he’s been practicing his speech and doesn’t want to screw it up. But he stumbles through it anyway, largely because he’s bewildered by MDA’s spokesman who has gone cross-eyed and  is sucking on the mouth of a drinking glass. It doesn’t get any better than that. Though the annual Eva Braun comparison is a close second.

    But, aaah, he’s gone so you move on.

    So here’s what they need to do:

    Give the telethon to someone else, like Will Ferrell or, maybe Steve Carell, or – God forbid, Adam Sandler, or God in heaven forbid, Jimmy Kimmel. And yes, of course they’d love to do it, probably. MDA need only ask them.

    You get someone like Ferrell or Sandler or Carell in there, they’ll bring in every other comedian around and suddenly doing the Telethon is hot again. Goodbye Norm Crosby, hello Lisa Lampanelli!  For the record, though, I’ve always enjoyed Crosby’s act. It makes you think.

    Also, Muppets, lots of Muppets.  You cannot go wrong using Muppets.

    So you’ll have all these hot talents, and even if they just submit some sort of taped bit, it’ll be something that the entire country will be tuning in for each year. The donations will be through the roof!

    …Except we all have DVRs now, so we’ll be doing other stuff on Labor Day and we’ll just scan through the hilarity later, after it’s all over and everyone’s gone home. So I’m not sure about the “raising money” end of it.

    But people’ll watch, and that’s the important thing, right?

    Next I’ll be setting my sites on two other serious problems our once-great nation is currently facing: The bankrupt dinosaur that is the US Postal Service with its greedy, over-pensioned employees and rampant, unchecked illegal immigration. And while I don’t want to give too much away just yet, I have worked out a solution that solves both problems at once and only requires you learn how to address an envelope in Spanish.

    Posted by on September 4, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  4. A Worrisome Find!

    I KNOW HOW YOU KNOW how much I like dollar stores – not just the 99¢ Only store (admittedly, a favorite!) and Dollar Tree (a close second!), but also your filthy, rundown, Mom and Pop (or around this neighborhood, Mama y Papi), independently-owned, non-chain, one-off dollar stores.

    By the way, I hate that stupid phrase “one-off.” Never use that around me. It disgusts me almost as much as “spot-on.”

    Any chance I get to wander into a dollar store I hadn’t visited before to see what cheap trinkets, unlicensed toy knockoffs and expired food they might have, all tainted with melamine, probably, and imported from China, well, brother, I’m there! Hoo boy, I’m there! Can’t keep me away! Sure. Also, these places usually have good deals on baby clams and condensed milk. Often in the same can.

    Recently I found one such store called “Dollar J” or “J Dollar” or something like that. It had a letter of the alphabet in the name, that much I remember. In fact, now that I think about it, the entire name was comprised of letters of the alphabet.

    Anyway, they had these! For a buck!

    Above: The thing I got at the dollar store. I have put a Toolie Bird by it for scale.

    In case you can’t quite make out what it is, I’ll tell you! It’s a “Universal Lock Out Tool.” A slim jim!  The kind you use to break into cars, not the kind you nab from the counter at 7-11 when the cashier’s momentarily distracted printing out your weekly $60 wad of quick picks in an increasingly desperate attempt to win the lottery and get out of this disgusting city before the last of your money finally runs out.

    Where was I?

    Ah, yes – the slim jim! For a buck! Christ, at that price, you almost can’t afford to not start robbing cars!

    Hm, is that right…? ‘Almost can’t afford to not start robbing cars’…  Yes. Yes, that’s what I wanted to say.

    Now, you know the sort of people who shop at dollar stores (aside from me). You know what I’m getting at.  You know the type. Eh? Ehhh…?  Mm-hmmmmm.

    Poor people! I’m talking about poor people!

    Seriously, do we really want to give poor people – who have much more reason (and propensity!) to rob and steal than you or I – such easy, ridiculously inexpensive access to a device like this that has such a potential for misuse?


    So I bought them all and I’ll be selling them for two bucks a piece this Saturday on that little strip of lawn in front of the Food 4 Less parking lot in Winnetka.

    Posted by on September 1, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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