LIKE you, I’m a huge fan of the Netflix original series, “Orange Is The New Black.”
Oh my goodness, huge fan. Huge fan.
From the theme song that goes on and on and on and on and on for, I believe – and correct me if I’m wrong – the first twenty-three minutes of each episode’s fifty-five-minute run time, to the marvelously uneven writing that ricochets back and forth willy-nilly between intense drama to absurd comedy, to the cast of 1,200 characters we’re supposed to keep track of and care about, to – now understand I haven’t spent any considerable time in women’s prison – what I would guess are some rather unrealistic story lines, to a self-absorbed main character that, heaven help us all, the average female viewer is supposed to identify with, my God, I can’t get enough of this show!
Another reason I keep tuning in is that I like cartoons, and due to that wildly erratic writing, a good portion of the cast are required to play their roles as cartoon characters, at least half of the time.
Besides, I’m thrilled to see renowned Twitter wag Jason Biggs (Jim from “American Pie”) back here playing a new character, “Jim-from-American-Pie.”
[Side note: Deborah Rush, who played Jim’s future mother-in-law in “American Wedding” is back , too, playing a new character: “Jim’s-Future-Mother-In-Law-in-American-Wedding!” Hooray!]
Wait, OITNB fans argue, Bigg’s character’s name is Larry – and he’s playing a completely different character here.
Oh, my, yes. Yes, of course he is.
…And yet then there’s this, which directly references two iconic scenes from the first and third “American Pie” movies:
Sadly, I’m not Jason Biggs – though like you, I aspire to be him someday. But if I was Jason Biggs, why, I’d have taken one look at those lines in the script and say, “Nuh-uh. Nope. Change it.”
I’d probably even take the series creator, Jenji Kohan, aside and say something helpful like, “Okay, you’re trying to do a progressive, groundbreaking show about women in prison…and you’re going to squander it on references to my old movies…Really? Reeeally?”
But I’m guessing Jason Biggs was probably too busy crafting one of those delightfully mean-spirited Tweets of his to notice the details of the script.
Anyway – where was I?
Ah yes – cartoons. For a show whose writers evidently are cartoons fans as well, I find it shocking when they get details of actual cartoons wrong. Shocking!
Case in point:
Lead character Pooper Chapstick, returning from a little vacation to another prison, finds that in her absence, all of her stuff has been co-opted by the other inmates. While reclaiming a tiny radio, she’s called “Inspector Gadget” by Cindy, the girl who took it.
To which Pooper expresses over-the-top indignation, and replies with…
As many of you know, oh my goodness, I’m a huge fan of “Inspector Gadget.”
(No seriously, I am.)
So I find that last line inexcusable.
There is no “the” before the dog’s name in “Inspector Gadget.” It was never Penny and the Brain. It’s Penny and Brain.
There’s “Pinky and the Brain,” sure, but those are different characters from a different cartoon from a different decade.
If you’re going to make a point to derail a scene so the main character can spout some cute dialogue purely for a cheap laugh, you might want to get the details right.
It’s almost as bad as me somehow getting main character Piper Chapman’s name wrong up there.
Anyway, Cindy obviously agrees with me. She has no interest in being schooled on the minutia of 1980s cartoons and casually replies with a much more believable line that almost redeems the inanity of Piper’s dialogue:
Or maybe she was just more of a “Jem” fan.
…so, speaking of which, I think it’s time we have a discussion about offensive stereotypes so we can all move forward, eh, as a society. Sure.
And what better way to move forward than to turn the clock back fifty-four years and check out this 1960 ad from a chain of long-defunct Florida appliance stores:
Oh my. That’s something else, isn’t it?
The ad features “Chief Wag” creating a smoke signal to call his “Council of Braves” to “declare war on high prices.”
It’s unclear whether Chief Wag was specific to this ad or Tyree’s always ran Indian-themed ads, or, my guess – “Wag” was Tyree’s regular cartoon mascot, dressed in Indian garb for this ad. Although judging by his crow’s feet, maybe he was a caricature of the owner of the chain. Or maybe all that smoke just irritated his eyes.
They really, eh, heaped it on with the mock Indian talk. By my count, there are 19 instances of the ol’ favorite: adding the suffix “um” to a verb. Among them: “No messum up tepee,” “gottum two doors,” “savum wampum,” “fillum tepee with music,” “no needum two stick to startum [an oven],” “washum-dryum all in one.”
I think I speak for all of us when I say, “I didn’t realize they had washer/dryer combos in 1960.”
They didn’t skimp on the exceedingly tasteless visuals, either:
Left to right: arrowhead, tom-tom drum, deerskin pouch, tepee, tomahawk, and an Indian head that looks remarkably like it’s straight out of a Walter Lantz or UPA cartoon of the 1950s.
Regardless, the entire ad – from the tepee that reads “No payum for 3 moons” at the top to “Deliver um free” at the bottom – is highly inappropriate. With insensitive ads like this, no wonder Tyree’s is long gone! And, brother, if they weren’t already, this would drive ’em out of business much like the European colonization of North American drove Nativ– eh, nevermind.
But the question is, cherished reader, will you see at it through the eyes of a 1960 newspaper reader and chuckle at its-over-the-top goofiness, declare it somehow “harmless” and excuse it as “a product of its time”?
Or will you be brave (oh dear) and as an informed citizen of the 21st century world, glance at it only briefly – just enough to get the gist! – before becoming suitably outraged?
Oh, I hope for your sake you pickum the latter!
Next time: We’ll explore our feelings after binge-watching all 65 episodes of F-Troop.
Question: When is the 99¢ Only store not the 99¢ Only store?
Answer: When it sells things for prices other than 99¢ only.
Ah, the 99¢ Only store! Regular readers of this blog – all, what?, six of you, know I love it. But I’ve become a little concerned at some changes I’ve been noticing there lately…
A little history:
Founded in 1982 by savvy businessman Dave Gold, the 99¢ Only chain held the line at exactly 99¢ for twenty-five long years when in 2007, a slightly more flexible pricing structure was introduced allowing the store to sell items at prices lower than 99 cents (39¢, 49¢, 59¢ – you get the idea).
And of course prior to that, you could (and can) buy multiples of an item for 99¢. (Old-timers such as myself remember a time not too, too long ago, when full-size candy bars were 4 for 99¢ only.)
2008 rolled around and things changed significantly, if you can call a penny ‘significant’: In September of that year, they added 99/100th of a cent to their signature price, so countless thousands of shelf tags that read 99¢ Only were pulled and replaced with new ones printed 99.99¢ Only (with the last two digits a bit smaller).
Rounding that hundredth up, shoppers began paying $1 for each item, and the chain, through a niggling technicality, managed to keep their name (mostly) honestly.
The 1¢ increase even made the news around Southern California – not bad publicity for the discount chain who was then able to explain that they’d kept everything under a buck for more than a quarter century and this teeny-tiny increase would allow them to continue to offer great deals. One measly penny on every item purchased would add up sufficiently to cover increasing costs. Perhaps someone at 99¢ Only headquarters had just watched “Superman III.”
Up to this point, in-store pre-recorded announcements usually ended with a sunny voice reminding us that we were shopping at a place where there was “Nothing over 99¢. Ever.” Unsurprisingly, new messages omitted the sign-off.
Many locations had that same slogan painted along the wall above a top shelf in their famous purple, blue and green color scheme. One might assume Corporate sent a memo to store managers advising them to get a can of white paint and a brush to get rid of the evidence, because this disappeared at this time, too.
But if you look carefully in some stores you can still figure out where it was…
Over the last few years, more and more items started hitting the stores that were more than 99¢ only.
The first item I noticed was a great big bottle of wine for $4.99 in their Burbank outlet over two years ago.
Other items soon followed in all the stores.
Initially, the signs on these items had an almost apologetic explanation below the more than 99¢ only price, as though it was an exasperated response to the umpteenth literal-minded customer challenging them with a whining “But your name is 99¢ Only!”
(Incidentally, that “one exception” for the eggs was the same “one exception” they made for milk, toilet paper and wine.)
Then as they introduced more and more more-than-99¢ Only items to their shelves, they stopped bothering to justify it at all.
Though in one case, they even tried to make us forget about their store name by distracting us with an enthusiastically positive spin on the more-than-a-buck price:
And that brings us up to this week, when I saw this at the front of their Canoga Park location (as well as on big decals on their doors):
Ooh, that can’t be good.
While prices higher than 99¢ are nothing new throughout the chain, that they’re calling attention to it is in itself noteworthy. I see it as a harbinger of higher prices: I bet we shoppers will very likely soon be seeing more and more items over the store’s celebrated 99.99¢ price point.
Over the last few months, every store I’ve gone to has changed their shelving, too. All the locations used to have shelves that were about five feet tall. Those have been pulled out and replaced with much taller units – the kind you see in most supermarkets – that can accommodate that much more merchandise.
Which makes sense when I remember a conversation I had back in December with an employee at this newly-opened location – the largest 99¢ Only store I’d ever been in – on La Tijera in Westchester:
She told me that they took over the space where a grocery store had gone out of business, and that all future 99¢ Only stores would open in similarly-sized venues. If that’s the case, it seems to me that 99¢ Only is making the slow transition from discount store to supermarket.
I remain wary but for now anyway, none of this changes my affection for the 99¢ Only store. It’s discount chains like this that have forced some manufacturers to keep their products under a buck, at least at the dollar store. (Though now even that seems in jeopardy.)
Like you, I exist on the Helper family of products, and by Godfrey, I haven’t been willing to pay more than a dollar for them since 99¢ Only has started carrying them.
I’m not the only one who feels this way – and not just about the Tetrazzini Tuna Helper, either, but about a lot of their merchandise: Friends who used to make fun of me for shopping at 99¢ Only have finally seen the light and now tell me about the great deals they themselves find there! (They’ve since found other things to make fun of me for.)
The 99¢ Only store has had some amazing bargains over the years and hopefully will continue to do so, so that this blog can continue to celebrate “What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store.”
Store employees will continue to ask me not to take pictures in their stores.
I’ll continue to (surreptitiously) defy them.
And while it’s not quite the same, consider this: When I was growing up, there was an F. W. Woolworth’s in my hometown. Even into the 80s when it closed, everyone I knew referred to it as “The Five & Ten,” despite the fact that there was not – nor had ever been during my lifetime – any merchandise available at the cost of a nickel or a dime.
So it certainly makes this shopper think: How soon until we’re shopping at a 99¢ Only store where the only item labeled as such is the charmingly nostalgic and out-of-date sign out front?
AS regular readers of this blog know, back in my matriculating days, I was an accounting major at Valley Vocational College (Winnetka campus). My nickname was Mouse CPA – “CPA” for my chosen career and “Mouse” because I eschewed the standard dorm-issue bed and instead slept in a nest fashioned from bits of string I’d collected and cedar shavings that I bought by the bale from PetCo. (Hey, give me a break: I was only 38, I was on my own for the first time in my life – I wanted to be different.)
My best pal was Beto Nuñez-Waldemar – “Copy BNW” we called him – and he worked the graveyard shift at Kinko’s in that old bank building with the mural on Victory in Woodland Hills, yes, making copies. Hence his nickname!
Man, knowing someone who works at Kinkos – whoa. Let me tell you, we all exploited that connection whenever one of us had to make a xerox of a receipt to send in for an oil filter rebate!
Post-class, when we were often fired up by a particularly provocative lecture on Pre-Revolution French Bookkeepers by Prof. Morris Detzer (“Detz” we affectionately called him), some of us guys would head over to Baja Fresh for a “rap session” where we’d hold court in the back booth, cocks-of-the-walk, all of us, still sporting our green visors and elastic arm bands.
One day me and Beto, full of piss and vinegar, and – this being Baja Fresh – fire-roasted salsa negra, decided to leave our mark there at our favorite eatery: we scraped our names into the toilet seat in the men’s room with the edge of my all-metal Pickett N902-AF Bookkeeping slide rule. (I still have it! I use it to pick my feet now!)
That was, of course, years ago.
Well, I can’t tell you how stunned I was when I was in the neighborhood last week and find out that not only is the Baja Fresh still standing, but it’s obviously the same toilet seat, because, yes – our names are still there!
Can we get a closeup of the seat? We can?! Excellent!
I’d have thought the friction caused by innumerable gluteus maximi flopped on the seat would have worn away our inscriptions, yet it’s quite the opposite: Years of ass sweat, dried skin, miscellaneous butt-dander, and, yes, let’s not forget feces (plus other bodily effluvia) have worked themselves into the grooves and in fact made our names stand out all the more on this stark white background of molded polystyrene.
Sadly, I never realized my dream of becoming a certified public accountant – Father threatened to cut me out of the will unless I entered a field with a solid future. At his suggestion (read: demand), I “chose” the lucrative world of freelance writing for the robust and exploding magazine industry.
But to see that this horseshoe-shaped monument to our carefree college days has stood the test of time – well, it kind of brings a tear to my eye. Ah.
* * *
…Or, I guess the shorter, bullshit-free version of all this would be “Who the hell carves their initials in toilet seats?”
TED, where have you been? many of you, what, six readers have been asking, or, maybe thinking of asking, over the last month.
And then you continue, You’ve been even more erratic in posting crap no one wants to read here at Ted Whosis Dot Com than you usually are! What gives? What’s going on? Where ya been?
Well, I’ve been in litigation hell is where I’ve been!
Turns out some jackass who goes by the name “Canis Iratus” – which I don’t think is even his real name! – stole a few images from my website. Oh, believe me, I was as outraged when I found out as you are now just hearing about it!
Seems he snagged the images from my post “Reasons to Leave LA #805 – Dogs In Stores” and then took it a step further by somehow accurately describing the locations, dates and general circumstances of where, when and why I snapped each of the photos. And that’s not all, brother! Then he started a Tumblr account with it, the ridiculously named “Dogs Where There Shouldn’t Be Dogs.”
What’s more, the guy seems to have precisely mimicked my signature style of writing overlong, drawn-out posts where, really, just a photo and a caption would do – that is to say, an image and maybe a brief, short, concise cutline or description beneath would get the message across quickly and efficiently, with an economy, or parsity, of words, yet this guy iterates and reiterates and just goes on and on and on and on and pretty much just repeats himself or goes off on some absurd tangent until you’ve completely lost track of whatever point he was attempting to make.
Where was I?
Ah, yes: If that’s not a blatant ripoff of my signature style, brother, I don’t know what is!
So I got my attorney on it right away who sued the bastard – handsome devil, I’ll say that for this Canis Iratus fellow, anyway – and lost the case!
And somehow as a condition of the settlement, I not only have to talk up his site here, but put a link over there, up on the left, so you can click on his site every now and then and go visit it. The indignity! This guy steals my photographic property and copies my style – and I’ve got to promote his website?! Now you can see why I seem to be preoccupied with the threat of litigation, if this is how my idiot lawyer does with an open-and-shut case like this.
Before I forget: I’m also required to encourage my few Twitter followers to follow the devious son-of-a-gun as well, here – and I will grudgingly admit that if you like the rapier-like wit of my Twitter feed, well, pal, it’s more of the same with him. What’s most galling is I actually compose my own Tweets, such as they are, and his are auto-generated when he publishes a new post.
Oh, yes – lastly: I’m supposed to encourage any and all of you folks to take photos of non-service dogs you see in stores (or other places where they shouldn’t be) and send them over to him for inclusion on the blog. That is, of course, if you agree with his Draconian worldview. Now, you get into any fistfights (or dogfights) for surreptitiously snapping photos of strangers, you bring that up with him, not me!
Well, that takes care of all the terms of the settlement. Well, except for my 120 hours of community service cleaning public toilets at Lanark Recreation Center in Canoga Park. Which actually set a legal precedent because the whole thing was a civil matter that I initiated over a copyright issue.
But at least I’m avoiding jail time, right?