Birthday Greetings To Dad!
WHY IT SEEMS it was only twelve days ago when I had helped dear old Dad celebrate Father’s Day by the sending of a greeting card. Here, you can read all about that again right here.
And now it’s, what, twelve days later already and it’s his birthday. (They grow up so fast these days.) Anyway, I did what any decent son would do – I wandered into the 99¢ Only Store to buy a bunch of cheap groceries, and as long as I was there anyway, I realized, hey, I guess I can pick up a card, too. Kill two birds with one stone, right?
Ah, but to find the perfect birthday card for my Dad – the one that, through a careful marriage of artwork and prose, somehow manages to crystallize and convey the complex feelings and difficult-to-express emotions in the complicated relationship between father and son.
That’s why a place like the 99¢ Only Store is perfect for occasions like this! They only had one “father” birthday card! Literally!
So there was no tortured picking and choosing and comparing and searching for a goddamn envelope that fits and pondering and deciding and considering and passive-aggressively blocking a section of the rack for an extra three minutes just to piss off some probably perfectly nice old lady by preventing her from looking at a card that I happened to be standing right in front of. There was none of that at all!
So unless I wanted to stop at Walgreen’s on the way home (I did not), my choice was clear!
Now, the fact that there was evidently some sort of mix-up at the discount greeting card factory which resulted in the inside of this card having nothing even remotely to do with the image and phrase on the front…?
I don’t see this as a drawback. Rather I look at this as more of an asset.
At my father’s age, they’re always telling you that you’ve got to keep their minds active. So he’ll be trying to figure out this one for weeks.
On Novelty Flash Drives and Related Curios!
CONTINUING our recent Warner Bros. cartoon theme (Traffic on this blog has been up to almost the double-digits this week; I’d be a fool to switch gears now!) I offer up this little beauty:
Huh. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand that whole “Stylized, Miniature, Disproportionate Versions of Cartoon Characters Cast in Vinyl” craze that so many of our young people are embracing these days and subsequently pissing away their money on.
What, you don’t think I’m worth my $50 pricetag?! Bite my vinyl wooden ass!
Similarly, sort of, I’m completely baffled by Lego video games and now all this talk of a Lego Batman / Superman movie based on such games’ popularity. I mean that I just don’t get.
Like you, I played with Legos as a child, just like any red-blooded Slovak-American boy. I even pushed a few of the smaller ones up my nose and the noses of others and maybe even one of those little round white pegs into the back end of the dog and then ran and told Mom “Look! Look! Fritz has worms! Just kidding, Mom! Here, look – stand still Fritz! – see, it’s just a Lego!” Who among us didn’t?
And if I was still a boy – as opposed to just whatever it is I’ve become – why, I’d continue to play with Legos. But I don’t understand how if you’re a kid today, and you’ve decided to play a video game, why in holy hell you’d want to play as the same plastic, truncated, detail-lacking, limited-range-of-motion, barely articulated, stubby Lego version of the character you’re already playing with in real life right there in the middle of the kitchen floor while your mother is tripping over you trying to make dinner – as opposed to a more realistic version – which, today, video game technology allows for!
Now I realize each generation that came after mine is increasingly stupider, but are kids already this moronic? Really? Already? Really? That’s a shame.
That would be like me and Jesse and Trip and Steve play-acting on the playground behind the Round Hill Community House with our World’s Greatest Super-Heroes Mego dolls (This was before “action figures” had been invented!) and then going home and not watching Batman at 5:30 because Adam West’s portrayal was too lifelike for our mushy little pea brains to comprehend.
…Where was I going with this one?
Oh yes: If you’re going to make miniature versions of the classic Merrie Melodies characters, don’t use Sylvester because he ends up looking like his son Sylvester Junior. That’s all I wanted to say.
Look, sometimes I have to pad these things a little to compensate for all the butchering my syndicate does.
My Stardust Melody!
AS YOU KNOW, I’m in the “Silver Sneakers” jazzaerobacise class at my gym. Oh, it’s for women and men, that’s not the problem. But it is for seniors.
I get around this with a cheap white curly fright wig I bought at Party City and a pair of old glasses I fished out of one of those donation boxes at LensCrafters when no one was looking. (Which reminds me – I need to get a different pair because I’ve had four people mistake me for Stan Freberg and they won’t leave me alone until I autograph their boxes of Jeno’s Pizza Rolls.)
By the way, it’s not that I can’t keep up in a regular class with people my own age – I probably could. But why bother? In this class, Christ, I’m so much better than everyone else. I never get winded!
One of the exercises is moving your ankles, one at a time, around in a little circle and we’re all sitting on chairs! I’m serious! Then we do this marching thing, standing up, right? But we’re only moving our arms up and down.
Then there’s the little vinyl-covered weights we use. Everyone else uses the wussy little pink ones…? I use the next size up, the little blue ones, which are a full eight ounces heavier!
I tell you, I’m an iron man triathlete compared to these people! It’s doing wonders for my self-esteem!
Last week that pain-in-the-ass Vivian “Here I Go Again About My Shoulder Spur Surgery” Kovac gets wheeled out on a stretcher when she suddenly starts complaining about some tightness in her chest.
But me…? I’m ready for another go-round of toe-pointing. Fire up the Andrews Sisters CD and let’s get back to work! Ol’ Vivian’ll be fine!
So I got there early yesterday and the exercise studio was still locked so I had to hang out in the room with all the weight machines until our instructor “Luz” (She’s Hispanic!) got there. They’ve got TV monitors hanging from the ceiling in this room and one’s tuned to Fox News – yeah, yeah: boo, hiss, whee, hooray, whatever, I don’t care, this isn’t a political blog so knock it off, before I have you all deported!
…With free healthcare!
Anyway, they had this guy on there who I’ve seen before and I finally learned his name: Charles Krauthammer. And the thing is, every time I’ve seen him, he brings someone else to mind – and you know exactly what I’m going to say because you think the same thing:
The guy looks exactly like Hoagy Carmichael from that episode of “The Flintstones!”
He doesn’t look like the real Hoagy Carmichael, whose face didn’t seem so angular and craggy, but he’s the spitting image of the cartoon version!
Which brings up an important point: Why did Hoagy Carmichael retain his twentieth century monicker on “The Flintstones” while no one else did?
Here’s my guess: He was the show’s first guest star and the writers hadn’t yet hit perfected their stone-age celebrity naming algorithm as they would in later seasons with Jimmy O’Neill (“Jimmy O’Neillstone”), Jimmy Darren (“Jimmy Darrock”), and The Beau Brummels (“The Beau Brummelstones”).
But if they manage to renegotiate that deal with underused wunderkind (industry term!) Sean McFarling and finally reboot (“rebarefoot”) “The Flintstones” and then remake specific episodes, and then reanimate Hoagy Carmichael’s corpse so he can re-record his lines, here are some suggestions:
- Craggy Carmichael (since his caricature is so craggy, itself a “rock” word).
- Hoagy Carbonmichael
- Hoagy Carmichshale
- Hydroboracite Carbonmicashale (my favorite and I’m sure there’s plenty of petrographers out there who would appreciate the joke)
Or, instead of using Hoagy, when they redo the episode where Fred and Barney try to write a hit song, they could enlist the help of Charles Craghammer (Eh? Eh…?!) to get it airplay on the Rox News Network or something! See what I did there?!
Whew, all this brainstorming has me beat! I think I’ll have a pizz-, have a pizz-, have a pizza roll!
Man, these things are good but I’m going to be paying for all the extra calories on Friday’s class. (Tomorrow’s was canceled so we can go to Viv’s memorial.)
An Even More Most Unusal and Fascinating Piece of Memorabilia from the Golden Age of Warner Brothers Cartoons!
LAST WEEK I brought you a rare piece of memorabilia from the golden age of Warner Brothers cartoons! If you missed it, shame on you! Here it is again!
This week, I bring you an even rarer piece of Warner Brothers cartoon memorabilia!
It’s a pencil drawing of Michigan J. Frog! Chuck Jones’ once funny and clever amphibious creation – the star of a brilliant Looney Tunes one-shot (or a Merrie Melodies one-shot – who the hell knows or cares?) – who, much like the character in the actual theatrical short, was forgotten for years and then exploited beyond belief when rediscovered decades later!
But what makes this rare, unusual, fascinating? Keep your shirt on! I’ll tell you!
Animator Virgil Ross – who drew the best version of Bugs Bunny hands-down (don’t argue!) – is the fella what drawed this!
I know, I know – you’re saying, “Ted,” you’re saying, “Why, that’s preposterous! I’m an animation nerd and I know for a fact that ol’ Virg worked in Freleng’s unit, not Jones’s’s’s, and ol’ Virg, why, he’d have no reason whatsoever to draw a picture of a character that he never animated! He’d have no reason whatsoever to draw a picture of a character that he never animated especially in the exact same pose used for virtually all publicity materials of the character!”
…is what you’re saying!
Yeah, well, then explain to me how is it that this is an actual drawing of Michigan J. Frog, provenance provided by Virgil Ross’s distinctive and therefore impossible to copy signature in capital letters with a little dot in the ‘O’ – which appears on the very same paper!
The frog’s colored with colored pencils, I might add – a technology which in fact existed when Virgil Ross was alive! Explain that one to me if this is a so-called fake, there, Mr. Original Animation Art Authenticator Guy [or Gal]!
Yeah, I thought that’d shut you the hell up!
Fact is, you should stop arguing with me and instead bid on this beauty – a steal at only a hundred bucks American on the auction website “eBay”! This is the deal of the century, pal! You don’t find quality like this at your precious “Gallery Lainzberg!”
And the auction ends in just four days as I write this – so get that bid in now, if you know what’s good for you!
Who knows, maybe if it goes high enough, the seller can arrange for Walt Disney to sign it too!
Speaking of which, it’s being offered by the good folks at Gallery on Baum!
You can read about them here! And here! And here! And here!
Oh wait! No no no! Ignore all those links! Those are nothing but naysayers! Disbelievers! Jealous know-nothings spewing their bitter sour grapes all over the internet!
What do those people know, anyway?
But if Butch “Eddie Munster” Patrick’s a fan…
…well, that’s good enough for me!
Attack of the Swirly Design Things!
HERE’S a seemingly insignificant and arguably subtle phenomenon I’ve noticed for about the last eight years, and you have too, but you weren’t sure you should say anything. You thought maybe it was just you who noticed it – that perhaps it wasn’t as widespread as you suspected.
It is. In fact, it’s much worse.
Make no mistake, pal, this phenomenon is quite ubiquitous! Quite ubiquitous indeed! One might even say it’s very ubiquitous!
And not only that, I’m seeing it everywhere!
I’m talking, of course, about the unholy profusion of these things! These swirly design things! They’re everywhere!
What the hell are they? And where did they come from? Are these the spores of some sort of extraterrestrial organism from the planet Banal and we’re being invaded by aliens just like in that science fiction thriller about the pods and the snatching of the bodies and the dog with the human head? What was it called again…? “Steel Magnolias” you say…? Sure, why not!
Look, here’s a swirly design thing in one of its many natural environments: In an ad on the internet! It’s attaching itself to the young man’s legs; sadly, there will be no escape for him.
I say “many natural environments” because I theorize these things can adapt! Oh yes! Like any hardy invasive species, they’re doing what they can to survive!
I first started noticing them in commercials where they were animated and they’d grow near the corners of the screen like so many morning glories twine around my door. And of course now I can’t remember what the hell any of these spots were advertising so I can’t find any examples of them on YouTube to prove how they were all over the place. But they were! You have to believe me!
While the profusion of these animated things seems to have mercifully died down on their own, their more static cousins live on – thriving, I reckon, by virtue of having infected countless graphic designers. Once they attach themselves to such entities, the parasites then can reproduce thousandfold. Using some manner of not-yet-understood virulent mind control, they convey to their hosts that these designs must be used in all future assignments.
As is the case with Costa Rican bullet ants that have been infected with the fungus Ophiocordyceps, the graphic designer’s will is no longer his own. He is now compelled to put swirly design things on everything – everything!
More business cards!
And more business cards, yet!
In fact, suffice it to say if you’re getting your business cards from Vistaprint, you’re getting them with swirly design things on them. Believe me, I only scratched the surface! There was like twelve pages of these things on that site!
You’ll find them in your email, in the monthly printable coupons for that disgusting buffet place you deny going to!
Thanks to my pal, uh, Tad for…eh, forwarding the above image to me.
You’ll find them all over the place online! Like I said, in ads!
Ooh, a fancy green technology-themed one!
My God, these designers love those goddamn butterflies, don’t they?
You’ve hired a website designer. Little do you realize he’s one of Them. Doesn’t matter what you want, pal.
This is what you’re getting:
The worst part is even once the glut of these things have finally died out, if that ever happens, just as we’re ready to forget about them and put this latest long national nightmare behind us – immediately, they’ll be brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness once again by a bunch of unfunny comedians desperate for exposure on VH1s “I Love the 2010s.”
I can hear it now! “What was up with those swirly design things?!” “Those swirly design things were everywhere!” “I have to admit that I had a swirly design thing toilet seat because [begin air quotes] back in the day [end air quotes] I thought it looked cool!” Oh please, Michael Ian Black, you did not!
A Reusable Shopping Bag.
And even that won’t be the end! Don’t you believe it, brother! Since we’ve been dealing with these for at least eight years, and because nostalgia seems to operate in twenty-year cycles, in just another twelve years (or less) these will be everywhere all over again!
A Gift Bag with Matching Tissue Paper.
Then in the future, people will ironically embrace this crap like I ironically embraced my 1976 Hollie Hobby lunch box back in 1996, carrying it with me everywhere as I did. And while it’s taken me sixteen years to admit it, I can now say that perhaps I looked a little like a jackass and maybe it wasn’t worth getting cut out of Grandpa’s will just so I had a stylish way to carry all the stacks of free postcards I would grab from those racks in all the coffee shops I hung out in. (Remember when we all hung out in coffee shops? And there were free postcard racks? Remember those? Okay, okay, let’s not turn this into a VH1 show! Let’s stay on point!)
Like I was saying, you can’t get away from swirly design things!
They’re on this thing, whatever it is!
And on this thing, whatever it is!
Be careful! If you get them on your fingernails then they’ll just spread!
By the way, nothing says “sexy” like a photo featuring a few stray hairs from an unidentifiable part of the body.
Oh, this one surprised even me: You’ll find swirly design things on the bulletin board at Orcutt Ranch! Yes, even Orcutt Ranch! Where you hoped to be married someday!
Even your closet isn’t immune! They’re on your t-shirts!
In your local office supply store, you’ll find they’ve attached themselves to computer mice, disks, flash drives, and spiral bound notebooks!
Don’t worry, Ted, you say! We’ll be okay…so long as they don’t get into our food supply!
Too late, pal! Too late!
Oh no! This is going to be tough to watch but don’t look away! We’re seeing the first strangling tendrils of a swirly design thing just as it’s gotten hold of a package of Kellogg’s Special K cracker chips! Alas, its fate is unfortunately sealed!
Soon the entire box will be suffocated in a mass of vines, dots, blossoms, splashes, fern fronds, acanthus leaves, arabesque motifs and, yes, in a bizarre and sick twist, otherwise benign butterflies!
Apparently gum is particularly susceptible to Swirly Design Thing Syndrome (SDTS) as I have wisely dubbed it.
Like the Kellogg’s crackers, the package on the right is just in the initial stages of infection – just a few swirls of various widths so far. Ironic, isn’t it, that the gum is called Vitality – as it is now doomed.
It’s not just your sophisticated, “adult” gums, neither!
And it’s not just things we humans ingest, either! Look what’s happened to our dear Mr. Whiskers’ favorite dry cat food!
Even our hair care products aren’t safe! Those swirly design things have made it onto our shampoos, and once there, easily leapt onto our conditioners!
And from there it was a short leap to our detergents and, folks, this is where it gets absolutely terrifying:
…Because not only do we have the usual suspects – dots, leaves, inexplicable swirled lines and dear God above, the butterflies, always the butterflies – we’ve now got rendered images of realistic organic matter – blossoms, philodendron leaves, possibly a papaya, and a kiwi split in two. Can’t you see? It’s changing! It’s adapting! Mankind can’t keep up with this!
But maybe…maybe the others are right. Those that don’t see it. Those who don’t believe me.
Maybe I am over reacting. And there is no invasion of swirly design things on everything. Perhaps it’s just my imagination. And none of this is happening. I thought for sure I was onto something here, but perhaps I’ve worked myself into a lather for nothing.
Still, this little episode of mine has been exhausting. I’m beat. I…I think I’ll just go to bed. Things will look better in the morning, sure.
Movie Night for a Buck!
SO I WAS AT my local National Council of Jewish Women thrift store the other day and I happened upon a great deal!
A big ol’ box of DVDs – licensed ones this time, not those illegal pirated DVDs like last time – and for just a dollar a piece!
Here’s one I considered!
It’s called “Beeper” and it stars Ed Quinn, Joey Lauren Adams and Harvey Keitel – three of your favorites!
The exciting plot: “A doctor must follow the instructions on a drug dealer’s beeper to rescue his kidnapped son.”
Don’t laugh! You have to remember, this movie was made quite some time ago – 2002 to be exact. Back then, we didn’t have cell phones! So we all carried beepers! Hence the name of the film!
Though I understand it was written even earlier – in 1999 – and was originally titled “Answering Service.” (But they completely retooled the script to reflect the technological advances in communications the world had enjoyed since then. You know, to make it relevant for savvy 21st century audiences.)
It’s still there if you want it. I didn’t buy it. Harvey Keitel’s annoying, mousy, helium voice has always driven me up the goddamn wall.
Walmart Lights the Way!
I KNOW HOW everyone likes to give people like me a hard time for shopping at the “evil retail juggernaut” Walmart and by doing so, helping to put the so-called “little guy” out of business, but come on! The local Mom & Pop solar LED landscape light stores just can’t hold a solar LED landscape light to Walmart when it comes to selection!
Just look at this! Holy crap, it goes on forever!
God bless America, brother! God bless America!
Guys like me, we’re not going to let ourselves be hedged in by the lousy handful of solar LED landscape light options the small, independently-owned stores offer when it comes to making our solar LED landscape light decisions. I think I speak for everyone everywhere when I say it’s certainly not something we take (solar LED landscape) lightly – especially when purchasing something as important as solar LED landscape lights.
This despite the fact that none of us realized we needed them until they were invented a few years ago!
A Most Unusual and Fascinating Prop from the Golden Age of Cartoons!
From the rarely-seen 1958 Warner Bros. animated short “Irritable Fowl Syndrome” where Wile E. Coyote tries to best the Road Runner by exploiting the bird’s unfortunate chronic ulcerative colitis by pouring this over a bowl of FREE! birdseed.
Attention Leonard Maltin: Contact me directly if you want to include this in the next edition of “Of Mice and Magic.”
Happy Father’s Day!
Like you, I love my Dad – that is to say, I love my own Dad, and you love your own Dad.
(If you love my Dad, I’m probably in store for another talk like the one he had with me when he let me order anything I wanted at Friendly’s and then tried to explain to me why the woman who worked at the bar in the bowling alley would be picking me up after soccer practice from then on and also had keys to the house.)
And my Dad, like all Dads, is always telling me not to waste money on presents for him for Father’s Day – that a card is plenty.
Knowing his appreciation for thriftiness, I thought, “Why stop there? Why stop at forgoing the gift and just getting a card? Why not take it a step further by forgoing the gift and getting a really cheap card for him at the 99¢ Only Store?”
After all, it’s the thought that counts and by not spending $6.95 on one of those ostentatious luxury cards from the Hallmark Gold Crown Store I can afford to spend more time thinking nice thoughts of Dad and less time thinking terrible thoughts like how if I bought an expensive card, I wouldn’t have enough money left for a #1 at In-N-Out Burger.
So I considered all this over lunch and after I finished my Double-Double, fries and a Coke, I came to a decision and headed over to the 99¢ Only Store and perused their card selection where I found two that at first glance seemed ideal.
Ultimately, though, it wouldn’t have been efficient for my father to learn Spanish just so he knows how much I appreciate him always being there cuando I needed him, or (my second choice) a humorous take on how he’s always losing the teledirección in the cushions of the sofá.
But then I discovered there’s an English section!
Soon I found a perfectly serviceable Father’s Day card for 99¢ only. It was in masculine tones of brown and blue and had a picture of a fishing pole and creel on the front. (I opted for that over the one with the duck-hunting decoys on a bench with wood-working tools because that one was slightly larger and might have required additional postage.)
And while choosing just the right card, I noticed something disturbing.
Yes, we all know it’s the 99¢ Only Store; we’re none of us expecting to find high end Gibson Greeting-quality sentiments here, or poems that actually rhyme, or correct spelling and punctuation, or the inside of the cards typeset in anything other than Comic Sans. We know we’re getting crap. It’s not quality of the cards that bothers me.
However it would be nice if whoever actually stocks the cards in the racks makes a point of making sure they’re in front of the appropriate category headers.
Because this is kind of creepy.
An Important Update In The War Against “Decorative” Bottled Olive Oil and Vinegar in Thrift Stores: An Important Update!
CAN one person make a difference? If that one person is me, and the difference is negligible, you bet I can – and did!
Last weekend I visited a local thrift store – Goodwill Northridge, to be specific, there at Reseda and Devonshire. (And if you’ve never been, don’t bother going! I find that most folks who read posts about thrift stores on blogs are probably buying the same crap I am, so stay the hell away, you hipster bastards! Eh, stay away from my thrift stores, that is. You keep coming back and reading the blog, hm? Love ya!)
Folks, I am proud to report that I scoured that store from top to bottom and there was nary an outdated gift bottle of garlic-studded olive oil or chili pepper-infused vinegar anywhere to be found!
None tucked away behind stacks of Percy Faith and 101 Strings LPs, not a one sharing shelf-space with castoff breadmakers and woks, not even a single bottle amid the dozens of cheap glass vases flower arrangements come in.
I even barged into the back room like I owned the place and poked around there (Told whoever was pricing clothes that I was on a fact-finding mission from the head office in Naperville. Lucky for me she didn’t know where the company is based, either!) and guess what! Nothing in the back room! No jugs of vinegar! No casks of olive oil! Zero!
None in the donation area by the back door, neither! And I hit up the break room, too. I figured, as you would, maybe employees would be foolishly (and dangerously!) stockpiling it for their own use there.
Turns out we were wrong, you and I! I found none! Zip! Nada! Also, whoever had the little Tupperware container of potato salad in the fridge? Delicious. And next time you’ll know to put your name on it – lesson learned.
The enormity of this lack of bottled oils and vinegars (and potpourri and spices and everything else) is enormous! It means that through the Power of Blogging, I have personally shamed Goodwill into doing the right thing and throwing those disgusting things the hell out!
Personally! Me! I did all this! I helped effect change – for the good this time, for once in my goddamn life! At this one particular location! On this one particular day I happened to go in there.
Somehow, by writing an overly long blog post that, what, six people at most read, I have single-handedly succeeded in exorcising these demon bottles with their execrable substances out, out, out of Goodwill! Praise Jesus!
This thrift store is clean!
Oh, there’ll be plenty of time later to congratulate me for all my hard work and dogged determination in personally getting all this accomplished. But there’s also plenty of time now, so feel free to send me gift cards. (No iTunes, please. BevMo, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Lane Bryant or Red Lobster, preferred, in that order)
Or, even better – simply give cash (and if you do it through PayPal, it’s always a bit classier if you figure out the fees in advance and add those to the amount you want to give me so I get a nice round $100 or $250 rather than a slightly lower, odd amount after the fees come out of my end).
And by the way: Sadly, despite all that I’ve accomplished, my work is not yet done.
…And by that I mean I have a bunch more pictures of other bottles of this crap that I’ve found since writing that first post a month or so ago. And, well, since you people seem to enjoy looking at them, we’ll get to all that next week, probably.