1. 99 Tears!

    AS though it wasn’t enough to find out Bahooka is closed. Now, just a few days later, I learn we’ve also lost Dave Gold.

    “Who was Dave Gold?” you ask?

    Bite your tongue, sir or madam!  Dave Gold was the founder of 99¢ Only stores, the discount retail chain providing fodder for what seems like 99% of my posts! They’re also responsible for 99% of the food in my refrigerator and 82% of the clothes in my closet (I pick up that other 18% – used socks and underwear – over at Goodwill).

    I was going to link to his obit on the LA Times, but you hate the LA Times as much as I do – so instead, you can read about him on USA Today, a newspaper about which I am largely ambivalent. For now.

    In memory of Mr. Gold, here’s a 15-product salute of shopping suggestions for the next time you find yourself in one of his stores or better yet, reason to head there even if you weren’t planning on going!


    Some of these items may no longer be available, but you’ll agree that posting them anyway is a fitting tribute to the man who started it all back in 1982 and loved nothing more than finding great bargains to share with the rest of us.

    And it’s more of a eulogy than the 99¢ Only store website is doing! 99 lashes with a wet (ramen) noodle for them for not even mentioning his passing on their site!



    Life Savers Heritage Tin
    Can you believe they sold these things for 99¢ Only? The Pep-O-Mint and Wint-O-Green tins held oversized, individually-wrapped Life Savers, while the Wild Cherry and Butter Rum tins held six individual rolls each! Six rolls of Life Savers and a collectible tin to further clutter up your house?! Sold! 


    Sara Lee Chocolate Creme Cupcakes
    Wow! Eight cupcakes for 99¢ Only. And nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee! You couldn’t buy a two-pack of those disgusting Hostess cupcakes for less than a buck! No wonder they went out of business!


    Barbie Fun Yo Yo
    Like you, I was surprised to find the Barbie Fun Yo Yo here. Now, the Barbie Mundane Yo Yo – that’s what you expect to see closed out at the 99¢ Only store.


    Post Good Morenings Frosted Flakes
    This is a huge box of cereal for 99¢ Only! 22 bowls worth – says so right on the package! And it’s a good American name brand, not that crap from Argentina that tastes like it was sweetened with tapir piss. Why is this at the 99¢ Only store? If I were to guess, I’d say it was a new product launch that failed because the name “Good Morenings” just looks weird. What was wrong with “Good Mornings” spelled correctly as God Himself intended? “Mega Pack” at the top already tells us that we’re getting an enormous amount of frosted flakes. And even if we missed that, the box is gigantic!


    Rice Dream Rice Nog
    Are you kidding me?! Cartons and cartons of Rice Nog for 99¢ Only, available in late April? I’m glad I brought the pickup!


    Hasbro My 3D Viewer
    Judging by the quantity of  these Viewmaster-shaped 3D viewers (which you attach to your iPhone or iPod) that cluttered up the aisles at a bunch of 99¢ Only stores, someone at Hasbro thought this was going to be the next Cabbage Patch Kid. I imagine that person is now out of a job.



    Ritz Crackerfuls
    Ya hungry? How about peanut butter & chocolate on a crisp Ritz cracker! Or classic cheddar cheese on a crisp Ritz cracker! Everything tastes great when it sits on a Ritz, and when I tell you these elongated Ritz dealies go for about $3 at the regular grocery store, you’ll join me in shaking your head in delighted disbelief and saying, “Mmm-mm!  Good cracker, good cracker!”


    Musco Family Olive Co. Mediterranean Pearls Garlic Stuffed Queen Olives
    99¢ Only for a jar of garlic-clove stuffed olives: Oh, big deal, you say – until you realize these aren’t those nefarious olives imported from mysterious China steeped in a toxic brine of formaldehyde and terracotta warrior dust where you’re just as likely to pluck out an unfortunate factory worker’s eyeball from the jar as you are a withered olive! No sir, these are big, delicious, California-grown olives!  And at 99¢ Only for seven ounces, you can afford to pop ’em on all five of your fingers as seen in the company’s logo. (Or all three of your fingers if you’re a one-eyed former Chinese factory worker).


    Chicken of the Sea Coastal Cuisine
    99¢ Only on a product with $1 off coupon?! They’re literally paying us to take these things! Or they would be if 99¢ Only stores accepted coupons.

    The process required to cook these products is far too complicated – since here in the 21st century we’re all used to Rosie the Robot punching up something on the Foodarackacycle for us – and surely doomed them to the 99¢ Only store. That’s unfortunate, because they’re really pretty good. To prepare: Take both pouches out of the box, tear open the top of each half-way, add 2-1/2 tablespoons water to the rice pouch, put both pouches in the microwave on high for 60 seconds, then tear off the tops of both pouches completely, pour the contents into the handy box they came in (or a “plate,” there, Mr. Fancy Pants!), mix ’em up and eat. You, what, six regulars followed that no problem. I lost everyone else at the “Jetsons” reference.


    California Gold Prune Juice
    If you’re like me, and you are, you buy prune juice for one reason. This stuff does the trick, so why pay three times as much for the big name brand in a regular grocery store? I enjoy mine in a vintage early 1970s Apollo 13 juice glass as it reminds me of my youth – I’d have a great big helping right before leaving for school when we had Field Day. Believe me, there’s little that’ll motivate you faster across the 50-yard dash finish line than that tell-tale rumbling. I was good at the sack race, too, until the year I fell down – my lower body being mostly concealed in a burlap bag was both a blessing and a curse. Sadly, I could never get a partner for the three-legged race, but I know we would’ve taken first place as long as whoever I was tied to understood that all important stride/clench rhythm.


    Jans Escargots
    “In brine, ready to serve hot,” “high protein & low fat,” “perfectly cooked.” What more do you need to know? Besides, that should be plenty to keep your mind off the fact that you’re eating the same thing that crawls up the vinyl siding by your front door after a rain.


    Mattel Apptivity Angry Birds & Fruit Ninja
    I neither own an iPad nor had any interest in downloading the apps you’d need to play with these toys, but I couldn’t say no to King Pig and Sensei figures for 99¢ Only.


    Then I realized they’re essentially Happy Meals toys, which we all stopped buying when we grew up back in our mid-30s.


    Kraft Roka Blue Brand Spread
    They still make this stuff?! you ask, incredulously. According to Kraft’s website, they do indeed – this and four other flavors, throwbacks to the 60s all, and each still sold in its own tiny 5-ounce jar that, once emptied of its cheese spread contents, became little juice glasses that your grandmother couldn’t bear to throw away, having lived through the Depression.

    Believe it or not, I ran out of crisp Ritz crackers, so what you see above is Roka Blue spread atop Ritz’s cheap Mexican ripoff, a “Tosta.”  Mmm-mm! Cracker bueno, cracker bueno!

    Ritz or Tosta, the cracker is unnecessary – this stuff is good enough to eat right out of the jar with your finger. Or in this case, my finger.


    Wish Bone Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Your choice: 99¢ Only for 16 ounces of basamic vinaigrette dressing from the private label brand you’ve never heard of  – or for 36-ounces from the  national name brand you’ve trusted and enjoyed since you were a baby?


    Nabisco Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies
    Like you, I always thought Lorna Doone was a stupid name for a cookie. Even when I took AP English in kindergarten and discovered it was named after a 1869 romance novel that takes place two centuries earlier, it only made me wonder what the hell the cookie-naming team at Nabisco was smoking when they came up with that one (I said as much to Miss Hamilton, and was made to sit in the corner and miss snack that day).

    For that reason alone I hated Lorna Doones as a child, and believe me, they were the last cookies eaten from that Nabisco sampler collection box (with the red wax paper lining and the brown VacuForm tray with individual cookie-slots, remember?).

    But a funny thing happened since then: I had me some ‘Doones again, and by Godfrey, as an adult, they’re delicious. And they’re quite a deal for 99¢ Only: Two of the 5-ounce packs will set you back just a couple of bucks at the 99¢ Only store – but buy them in their standard 10-ounce package at a regular supermarket…


    …and you’ll be strapped for cash so fast you might as well take Henry Winkler up on that reverse-mortgage deal he keeps going on about, and shame on him.

    99 thanks for creating the 99¢ Only store, Dave, and may you rest in peace!


    And I’m sure that your successor – whoever he may be! – shares your unique vision to ensure the chain’s continued success!


    Posted by on April 30, 2013, 9:17 AM.



    BAHOOKA is closed! Forever!

    I was out in Rosemead today and headed there for lunch – a lunch, it turns out, that I would never eat!

    A moment of silence – or three minutes and fifty-two seconds of Quiet Village – to honor yet another tiki torch that has been permanently extinguished in the ever-diminishing world of 50s-60s polynesian-themed restaurants.

    You’ll remember, of course, my last (and, alas!, my last) meal there.

    But the gang over at LA Foodie gives you a much better feel for the Bahooka with this video:

    It seems I missed the final days of Bahooka by a little over a month: the restaurant – which opened in 1967 – served its last mai tai on March 9th. I probably would have heard about this if I was on your precious “Facebook” or was friends with like-minded individuals, but as you know, I don’t really like people – well, aside from you, what, six regulars. I’m kind of a lone wolf, or ho’okahi ‘hala-kahiki.  

    Besides – between you and me – most other tiki enthusiasts are even more annoying than yours truly – if you can believe it! I haven’t sported a goatee since my 20s and sure, maybe I own a few aloha shirts, Christ almighty, I never actually wear them!


    Above: My own little Bahooka souvenir – a plastic palm frond stolen from the boarded-up front entrance area. Jealous? Of course you are. By the way, my attorney would like me to mention that by “stolen from” I of course mean “found by.” On the nearby public sidewalk. Sure.

    Anyway, perhaps the Bahooka – its tiki torch flame doused here on earth – makes a little part of heaven burn that much brighter.

    Also, that same section of heaven now probably stinks of musty aquarium water. Look, I know it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead, but now that it’s closed, let’s be honest:  for all its magnificence, the windowless Bahooka could have used an air freshener or two.

    Posted by on April 26, 2013, 2:01 AM.

  3. #805: Dogs in Grocery Stores!

    857 Reasons and Counting!

    “THANK YOU, Paris Hilton.”

    That’s what a pal mutters when he sees someone with a dog in grocery store. Lately he’s been muttering it with increasing frequency.


    Like you, he remembers a time not so long ago when people did not feel compelled to bring their pets into businesses that sell and/or serve food. He places the blame squarely on the bony shoulders of the heiress/socialite who turned the annoying rat-dog from a yapping backyard nuisance into a fashion accessory before she eventually disappeared back into wealthy oblivion.


    Sure, California Retail Food Code section 114259.5 prohibits live animals in a food facility (i.e., any place that sells food for human consumption).

    But c’mon, irresponsible dog owners argue.  This is L.A.!  We’re both laid back and progressive here! So what if little Fido lifts his leg on a display of casaba melons?  Relax! It’s not like you’re going to eat the rind, right? So wash it and quit complaining! Or if Fifi can’t hold it any longer and lets loose a steaming pile of Tootsie Rolls by the Frosted Flakes? Clean up in Aisle 3! Get the new kid over there with a broom and dustpan and maybe a paper towel – problem solved!

    I love dogs. But they don’t belong in food stores. Or restaurants.


    (Wendy’s in the Platt Village Shopping Center in West Hills, I’m talking to you.)

    Of course, seeing-eye dogs or other legitimate service animals are the exception.


    It’s the pets that are the problem – and it’s a slippery slope. Not long ago it was a tiny, yipping ball of fur in a hand bag. Today it’s a pit bull with no leash stalking through Ralphs on Ventura in Woodland Hills while his thug owner tries to hold onto the collar.

    (Ralphs seems to be particularly dog-friendly: Aside from that incident, I’ve seen dogs in their stores in Sherman Way in Canoga Park and on Devonshire in Chatsworth. Shh!  Don’t tell the Los Angeles County Department of Health!)


    Unlike my pal, I don’t blame Paris Hilton, who I imagine is an idiot. And I don’t blame the self-absorbed pet owners who, too, are morons. The fault lies with the stores.

    It’s not like the employees are afraid to say something when they see a customer walk in with a pet. Often they do.

    Unfortunately, what they usually say is “Oh! How adorable! Can I pet him?”

    Posted by on April 22, 2013, 3:12 AM.

  4. A “Tree”-mendous Adventure!

    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.

    Posted by on April 17, 2013, 4:13 PM.

  5. Who’s Been Drinking Asparagus?

    SO THE OTHER DAY, a pal was telling me, “Ted,” he was telling me, “Ted, you’ve got to see this episode of TLC’s feel-good series ‘My Strange Addiction!’ There’s a gal on there who drinks pee!”

    “Oh, that’s not so strange,” I countered.  “Why, most everybody knows that current FDA regulations allow Grade A milk to contain up to 37 ounces of cow urine per gallon.”

    “No, Ted – she drinks her own tinkle!”

    “Oh, Christ almighty! Why’ncha say so?! This I gotta see!”

    So I found it online. But I had to sit through an ad before I watched it…


    …and while I hope Ragu got a good deal on the ad placement, I think maybe the Minute Maid Lemonade advertising people made a good call passing on this one.

    Posted by on April 16, 2013, 3:52 AM.

  6. A Trip to Dollar USA!

    LIKE you, I do most of my dollar store shopping at the 99¢ Only store and Dollar Tree.

    But when the opportunity arises to visit another dollar store, oh boy, count me in! Don’t think me disloyal to the Big Two, as you like to call them. But you just can’t get everything you need there. So I was particularly excited when I found myself in the Southbay recently and came across this treasure trove of discounted delights:


    First item on my list: Salt & pepper shakers. Yes, I know, both Dollar Tree and 99¢ Only sell them, but they don’t carry a brand I trust.


    But Homebee Cook? That’s right up there with Rubbermaid. But even Rubbermaid can’t be bothered to put their brand name in  a fan-made freeware Disney-esque font. That’s why Homebee Cook gets all my salt shaker business. Yours too now, I reckon!

    And speaking of kitchen storage, I’d been looking for one of them new type store boxes, dere. You know, to store stuff. Not one of them old ones. A new type store box, sure.



    Perfect. I can mark that off my list!

    I don’t know if it’s a mid-life crisis or if I’m bipolar or what, but lately there have been times when my life just feels as empty as my walls.


    Not any more, brother! With this set of three press adhesive bond type hooks, I’m guaranteed a better life! And, hell, if that doesn’t work, nails have been thoughtfully included that I can drive into my skull for a self-lobotomy!

    We could all stand to lose a few pounds, am I right, gang? And for a buck, this waist trimmer is one hell of a better deal than Marco, that stupid trainer at my gym who charges fifty bucks an hour and asks that I shower before our appointments.


    I’ll shower when and if I want now that I’ve got Waist Trimmer.  I trust it ! It’s already making me Beauty Healthy just like the gal on the package!

    These Loving Gloves saved our marriage! I bought a pair for Marisol to wear and now I don’t have to wait for her to down her usual six-pack of Smirnoff Ice and accompanying Jager shots before she’s comfortable touching me. Plus they’re made of latex and I don’t have to tell you what that does to me…!


    And look at the girl on the box with the enormous fivehead. I’m glad to see Mena Suvari’s still getting work.

    As I’ve discussed here before, I desperately wanted a boy but Marisol wanted a girl. She won the first round by manifesting the baby’s gender in her womb (though I suspect the dark arts of Santería had something to do with it). But once she popped the kid out, I started gaining ground by giving my little bundle of joy an androgynous name and raising Vojtek as a transgender. (They’re very trendy right now!)

    Here’s the next step:


    I got “him” these! They’re girls’ boxers, if there is such a thing (There’s not, I looked it up!) yet the label features the masculine, unlicensed countenance of Spongebob Squarepants.

    Oh, they may say they’re for girls, but a closeup of the tag reveals the subliminally hidden truth:


    Ah ha!  Boys briefs!  I knew it! I’ll have little Vojtek identifying as a male by the time we enroll him in kindergarten next year.

    Finally, it’s my old Italian barber Nuncio’s birthday next week. And what do you get the barber who has everything?


    How about a Japanese fighting fish swimming in Barbicide! Done!

    Yes sir, my trip to Dollar USA has been a magnificent experience. Why, if they weren’t selling these there, I’d have bought one elsewhere, and presented them with it.


    …on behalf of me and the Committee of Awards, that is.

    Posted by on April 9, 2013, 3:38 AM.

  7. Help! I’m Being Cyberstalked By A Hot Plate!

    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.

    Posted by on April 2, 2013, 8:30 AM.

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