1. Noisy Birds!

    NEXT DOOR there’s a stand of eucalyptus trees. And at the top of one of them is an aerie. Do you know what an aerie is? Well, most importantly, it’s a crossword puzzle word, like “tor” or “Ida Lupino.” But also, it’s a nest for a bird of prey.

    And living in this aerie is a couple of red-tailed hawks.

    Now, these birds are largely benign, I guess. They don’t hunt around here, which is both good and bad, because there’s a lot of cats in the neighborhood, but there’s also a lot of filthy squirrels and that’s a population that you agree we’d all like to see decimated.

    Often you can hear the hawks’ signature call as they approach their home, and my God, suddenly you think you’re back in the Andes hunting Nazi war criminals with Jonny Quest.

    Now they’ve been there a few years and we’re all getting along fine, and then this year, last week, suddenly, they decide – without so much as mentioning anything to anyone – they decide to have babies!

    And since then it’s been wall-to-wall high-pitched screeching from dawn to dusk! It sounds like some obnoxious kid blowing on a toy whistle! But here’s the difference: You can smack some obnoxious kid blowing on a toy whistle! You can smack ‘im hard! But you can’t smack a baby red-tailed hawk! Oh no, they’re protected by Federal and State laws!

    Here’s an illustration I commissioned myself to draw so you can more easily understand my dilemma:

    As you can see, my enormous muscles here help my situation little. (I didn’t draw my abs in because to be perfectly frank when I’m wearing a muscle shirt, you really can’t see them.)

    I can’t even use my wrist rocket (not a euphemism; get your mind out of the toilet; it’s a slingshot) because even just pelting the holy hell out of the aerie with rocks just to get them to shut! up! is considered “harassment.” And I don’t need to sit through another court-mandated class, especially after – when I was apartment manager a few years ago – letting myself into #2-H’s place when I thought she wasn’t home and it turns out she was taking a shower.

    Anyway, I hope they grow quickly and get the hell out of our neighborhood. Which, interestingly, is the way I feel about most of the human children around here, too.

    Posted by on May 23, 2011, 2:42 PM.

  2. A Treat for the Mouth!

    BIG fan of peanut butter, hmm?
    Sure, of course you are – we all are! Check this out:

    Yes, it may look like an ordinary jar of peanut butter, but look at that label closely! Much like you, it’s whipped!

    It’s also got 1/3 less sugar, but don’t let that scare you off! Notice it doesn’t say what it has 1/3 less sugar than!

    Oh, wait, actually it does.  In smaller print.

    Anyhow, a pal turned me onto this stuff and now I’m hooked.  You can get it at the 99¢ Only store! And of course that begs the question, “Did this stuff not sell in regular stores and the Peter Pan Peanut Butter people are just dumping it at the dollar store before it expires to recoup some of the costs from what was presumably an enormous new-product roll-out (industry jargon), or was it made specifically for your dollar store retailers?”

    I suppose I could look into this, but c’mon, neither of us really care. How much more interesting do you expect this damn thing to be? It’s a post on a blog, for goodness sake! Let’s not kid ourselves here!

    The point is that the stuff is light and fluffy, and incidentally, that’s where the  “1/3 less sugar” notation comes from. Essentially, a standard jar of peanut butter this size, unwhipped, would contain 1/3 more condensed peanut butter…and the sugar that comes with it.

    So you’re paying for a smaller amount of peanut butter that might otherwise come in a jar this size…if it wasn’t whipped up all frothy and light. So is 99¢ a fair price for a 9.3 ounce jar of peanut butter?

    Let me answer that for you…by sticking a spoon in it…

    …and then offering you a taste:

    Go ahead, don’t be shy. I haven’t had an outbreak in weeks.

    Now, I ask you, isn’t that something? This is peanut butter you can eat right out of the jar! And according to my pal, it has erotic applications as well! Well, actually she said you could frost a cake with it and I just presumed that was some sort of euphemism.

    But if she wasn’t talking dirty, if I were to take what she said literally, then yes, you could absolutely frost a cake with this stuff. It’s just that light and fluffy.

    And remember those 1970s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials with the “You got my chocolate in your peanut butter!” and the “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!”…?  Well, finally, thirty-five years later, the fatal flaw of those commercials has been erased. The improbability has been significantly lessened. The suspension of disbelief formally required to embrace the ads’ message is no longer necessary: It now makes perfect sense to walk around eating peanut butter right out of the jar, and I mean walking around town, not around the kitchen in your underwear at three in the morning.

    See that you do.

    Posted by on May 20, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  3. Cheese Glorious Cheese!

    AS Mark Twain once famously quipped, “Everyone talks about government cheese, but no one does anything about it.” Well, the fact is, up until now, no one knew what it looked like! It was something we’d all heard about but never seen, like the effects of global warming or Chet Bono’s penis. Well, no more, folks! Here it is, in all its glory!

    By the way, that’s government cheese, not Chet Bono’s penis. As far as I know.

    Now you’re asking me, “Ted, you’re independently wealthy. You’re not a drain on society.Why have you a brick of government cheese?”

    Oh, not a brick, folks. Four bricks!

    That’s eight pounds of reduced fat pasteurized process goodness!

    Look, it’s a long story. They were given to me as gifts, and really, how do you gracefully decline a wonderful gesture like this from a pal of a pal who is presumably defrauding the government one cheese brick at a time?

    The bottom line is I have no idea what to do with them. That retaining wall project you promised to help me with comes to mind, sure, but the ol’ ball & chain may want fondue later and I’m not going to destroy all our hard work removing the potential keystone after we’ve finally got the pachysandra planted.

    Posted by on May 19, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  4. An Unlikely Find!

    HERE’S some pleasant tomfoolery that’ll soon have you clutching your sides!

    It seems yours truly was going through the medicine chest in the bathroom today and came across this:

    A handy tube of Cutter brand Sport Pack Insect Repellant, sure. Where’s the payoff, you ask?

    Keep your shirt on, Pagliacci, it’s coming!

    So it occurs to me, Gee, Ted, you’ve had that forever, it seems.

    And then I turn it around and look at the date on the back – and I haven’t had it forever, but I have had it…

    ...since 1993!

    How about that! Through three apartments and a house, two divorces and an aborted attempt at a “domestic partnership” (Don’t ask!), six months in a commune and fourteen months in County, somehow, I kept this thing with me!  And here’s the kicker – it just keeps getting better, folks! – through about a dozen camping trips, where I’d’ve actually used it, I never brought it with me!

    Yet the question remained: Eighteen years later, is it still good?

    And how!

    Feel free to share this one with the boys at the 19th Hole at Fairview on Sunday afternoon.

    Posted by on May 18, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  5. A Hearty Meal!

    GUESS where I had lunch the other day!

    No, go ahead, guess!

    I’ll give you a hint!

    I wiped my face with one of these!

    That’s right, I had lunch at Wienerschnitzel.

    Hey, they’re celebrating 50 years of good food this year! How often does a fast food place print on their napkins? Never, I reckon. You know this one’s going in the ol’ scrapbook. Don’t worry – it’s not the one I used to wipe my face with – that one was all greasy so I threw it away!

    The uninitiated are probably saying, “Well, if it’s called Wienerschnitzel, why does their coat of arms have a D/W on it?”

    I’ll tell you, if you’ll settle down for a moment! Jesus Christ.

    Originally, it was called “Der Wienerschnitzel.” But at some point they dropped the “Der” because it made everyone who eats there sound stupid.  “Hey, where you going for lunch?” “Der…Wienerschnitzel.” “What are you, stupid?”

    I hear tell of a Wienerschnitzel in Burbank where they serve beer. I hear tell of it, but I’ve never been.

    Look, you can probably copy and paste that napkin image up there a few times so it repeats and make yourself some new desktop wallpaper. Why don’t you do that? Then send me pictures of your desktop, and maybe you’ll win a prize.

    Posted by on May 17, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  6. Smokey the Bear!

    YES, YES, I’m well aware there’s no “the” in Smokey the Bear! It’s just “Smokey Bear!” Believe me, nothing pisses off forest rangers as well as Smokey Bear memorabilia collectors more than inserting “the” between “Smokey” and “Bear.” But forget about all that for now.

    The important thing is you’re finally here!

    Listen, I started noticing these ads last year…

    …and like you, I hoped they’d just go away if we ignored them.

    But they didn’t! In fact, last week I noticed a great big billboard by the freeway with this same slogan on it.

    Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?!

    And how exactly does one get one’s Smokey on?  What the hell does that mean?!

    Get your drink on, I get. Get your freak on, sure – why, it started the whole unfortunate “get your [whatever] on” craze. But “Get Your Smokey On”?! It doesn’t make any sense, man!

    And what’s up with Smokey’s fingernails? Was he fighting a forest fire, got clobbered in the hand with a fire shovel, the nail turned black and is now on its way to falling off? I guess if you’re going with bad decisions here, you might as well go all out. “Hey, we’ve come up with this slogan for the new PSA – Get Your Smokey On – and we’re going to give Smokey fingernails.  And they’re going to be black.”

    Come on! He’s all furry! He doesn’t need fingernails! That’s like giving a Muppet fingernails. Does Cookie Monster have fingernails? Does Grover? I rest my case.

    It might have been worse, though. They could have gone with

    got only YOU can prevent forest fires?

    I’m pretty sure that was next on the list if the US Forest Service nixed this brainstorm.

    Why is “Get Your Smokey On” so offensive to the likes of you and me? Because in 1994, they offered us this…

    …which was inspired. Here we all expected Smokey to do some awful rap in what would have been a very misguided attempt at reaching kids, but then he stops mid-rhyme, grouses about the whole affair, and then just delivers his standard “Only You…” message. This was perfect.

    And then, sixteen or so years later, they hit us with “Get Your Smokey On.” Why? For God’s sake why?!

    Smokey, when did you lose your way?

    …Next up!

    What the hell have they done to Woodsy (the) Owl?!

    Posted by on May 16, 2011, 2:36 AM.

  7. Sayonara, Sahara!

    SAD news today from Vegas!

    It seems the venerable, or if you’ve stayed in one of their rooms, the venereal disease-able, Sahara Hotel and Casino is closing!

    Where were you when you found out? Right here? That’s awesome! I love sharing bad news!

    Anyway, I got this in my inbox today:

    May 16! That’s Monday!

    Anyway, say what you will about the Sahara, but it’s among the very last of the casinos on the Strip from the Rat Pack era. It’s got history, baby! It was featured in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” from 1960! And at one of the snack bars, it sells dollar hot dogs, also from 1960!

    No, I’m kidding. But this is sad news indeed! The Sahara had a buffet (until they closed it three years ago!) that was cheap and good! They had these chicken croquette things that I enjoyed! You, too, would have enjoyed them!

    The Sahara is where I first lost four hundred dollars playing a Monopoly slot machine! Oh, sure, later I lost six hundred, seven hundred, twelve hundred dollars playing Monopoly slot machines at other casinos, but you never forget your first. You never forget your first.

    It’s also where the lady running the roulette game admonished me not to touch my chips until she’d taken her little marker thing off the table, and me, drunk (of course!) forgot and touched my chips again, so she grabbed my wrist and said, “You do that one more time, I’m ripping your arm off!” And, brother, she would’ve! Lucky for me, I soon lost the rest of my money and was asked to leave the table anyway.

    I played in my first slot tournament at the Sahara! You ever play in a slot tournament? Oh my, that’s some fun there! What you do, see, is you sit in front of a slot machine and tap a button continuously for about ten minutes! That’s it!

    I lost! But it’s not about winning. It’s about the camaraderie. At least it was with the other players who all seemed to know each other. No one talked to me.

    Now, a few years ago, a pal and I were staying at a competing casino nearby, and we went into the Sahara to try our luck at some of the machines, sure. Said pal ordered a drink from one of the hostesses and said drink subsequently never arrived. So who should wander by but a fellow named Phil, an employee of the Sahara organization. My pal, he mentions the errant cocktail, and Phil tells him in no uncertain terms that it’s not his problem! I like that!

    I recently spoke with my pal, and I asked him about that day. He remembered the incident this way:

    “I really don’t want to have anything to do with your blog, even if you’re not using my name.”  So that’s the last word on that.

    They also had this NASCAR themed roller coaster you could ride, and I rode it! Only, this was shortly after Italian supermodel Fabio’s face got goose-pummeled on Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens, and I was paranoid I’d get taken out by a wayward pigeon or sparrow, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. Clearly a case where I should have been drinking more and smoking less, if you know what I mean! But not drinking too much! (Roller coaster, after all.) Everything in moderation. Even in Vegas.

    How much of a fan of the Sahara am I? Absolutely yes! They don’t hand these babies out to just anyone!

    No, you have to have a valid driver’s license to get one!  Tough luck, illegal aliens! Oh, wait…

    Anyway, after Monday, it’ll be completely useless to me other than as a rudimentary burglar’s tool.

    You’ll notice I digitally removed my member number. Yes, well, that email up there says my accrued slot points are still valid through Monday and frankly, I don’t trust you. I love you, but I don’t trust you.

    I’ve searched the internet for memories of the Sahara, and I’ve found this fond recollection, courtesy some guy named Stanley in the comments section of a story about the casino’s closing:

    Have you been to the Sahara lately? The lobby floor is a mosaic of spent bodily fluids, that extra starch that stiffens the sheets is not starch, and a quick trip downstairs to grab a dollar beer makes you more nervous than a Baghdad valet. We were there last year and someone had crapped in the elevator. The shady characters that make up the check-in line resemble a Folsom Prison riot, with pants on the ground, enough piercings to fill a tackle box, and more tattoos than the Yakuza. Yeah, that pool is heated alright.

    Awright, so now you’re excited! But we’ve only got until Monday!

    Who’s up for a road trip? Shotgun!

    Posted by on May 12, 2011, 2:29 AM.

  8. Tie Shorts!

    GOOD NEWS!  Old Navy’s summer line is here, and thank heaven above, they’ve got tie shorts in stock!


    So what in God’s name are “tie shorts” you ask?

    Well, they’re pushing them like they’re something we’re all familiar with, so if you’re asking that question, pal, you’re part of the problem. Old Navy don’t like it, see, when people like youse start nosing around like dat!

    My guess…? The original pattern for these shorts was maybe photocopied wrong, like folded on top of itself or something, sent out to all their garment factories and next thing you know, six million pairs of normal shorts with a little extra strip of fabric sewn onto the waist show up in a container ship in Long Beach where some Old Navy vice-president in charge of quality control notices the screw-up and immediately messes his lightweight poplin beach pants.


    Quickly come up with a new name and write a catchy little jingle to get those idiot “Glee” fans in the stores to snatch them up! Crisis averted!

    What’s interesting, though, is that the commercial clearly suggests that “tie shorts” are available for women and men (“starting at just ten bucks for everyone” which is in itself a lie – $10 will only get you the kids’ shorts).  Anyway, the guy’s shorts do seem to have some sort of tie ends visible on them.

    And yet! Over at the Old Navy website, these are the only men’s “tie shorts” available – featured prominently on the main page for the men’s section, no less!

    Now let’s look at a pair, hmm?

    You seeing any ties on these shorts?

    Oh, maybe we need one of my patented closeups, hmm?

    And these shorts, featuring – according to the Old Navy Website – “button closure and zip fly,” what are they called…?

    Men’s Summer Tie Cut-Off Shorts.

    “Cut-Off?!” Whatever. But where’s the goddamn  tie?  Why the hell are these things called “tie shorts”?!

    This is precisely why you and me, we stick to our shorts with the elastic waistband.

    No improving on perfection!

    Posted by on May 11, 2011, 5:59 PM.

  9. A Necktie!

    HERE’S proof that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, or even in a book that one of those so-called “animation historians” write!

    According to (ooh la la!) “Wikipedia,” the only time Speedy Gonzales and the Road Runner ever appeared together was in the admittedly classic and justifiably beloved cartoon from the golden age of Warner Bros. theatrical shorts, 1965’s “The Great Chase.”

    Ha I say!  HA!

    Well, then, all you Jeremy Becks and John Cainraisers, explain this!

    Do I need to go in for a close-up?
    Oh, yes, please, let’s get a close-up so there’s no mistaking here!
    So there’s no “Well,  I couldn’t see it so you must have been lying again!”

    It’s all there, blue and green, clear as crystal!

    We’ve got, left to right, someone with a thyroid condition, three similar-looking fellows of unknown origin, and, yes, a morose Road Runner and a cheerful Speedy Gonzales. Together! Together in the same goddamn project!

    Pay up!

    Also, there’s someone (a ninja?) strung up in a tree…

    A wide swath of Charles Schulz-type humiliating laughter – the kind that has bedeviled poor Sally when she’s said something stupid in front of the class…

    And that guy from Asterix.

    And where can you see this?  Oh, not on whatever slightly repackaged collection of the same 600 or so cartoons Warner Bros. is offering on DVD this month, oh no!  Don’t hold your breath waiting for W-B to release this ultra-rare team-up!

    Much like Disney only allowing “Song of the South” for sale to the home video market in Japan where apparently there aren’t any black people, Warner Bros. doesn’t have the cojones to release this tie here, so good luck getting it unless you live in Italy or China (depending on whether you want to believe the embroidered label or the paper tag).

    However, you can probably score a bootleg copy at Comic-Con this year (if Warner Bros.’ legal department doesn’t catch wind of this first).

    Or do what I did, which is pick one up at the 99¢ Only Store next to the loose underpants.

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

  10. Good Advice from Beetle Bailey!

    I wonder if Sarge has a special sock like you do.

    Posted by on May 9, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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