1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. WD-40!

    HERE’S something you’ll offer up at the water cooler at the office and earn the respect of your peers for always having something fresh and lively to contribute:

    It’s an ad featuring Arly Emery, that fellow who’s always shouting and pointing.

    I don’t mind telling you I was leafing through a Do-It Center flyer over lunch the other day, maybe looking for a good deal on paving stones for that retaining wall project we’ve talked about when I saw this. I knew I had to let you know about it.

    Anyway, Arly is the new face of WD-40, and no one’s more excited than you and I.  “Lock & Load, Maggots,” he seems to say since that’s printed by his head with his (facsimile) signature below.

    It seems WD-40 has new collectible cans which I’m eager to add to my collection, and now you are, too. I was kind of ambivalent at first, but his peppy “Lock & Load, Maggots!” sealed the deal for me. That’s what really kind of encouraged me to pick these up.

    The ad says “Collect all 4 cans!” and you bet I will. They’ll look great on the shelf next to my Great Muppet Caper commemorative bottles that Simple Green offered some time ago.

    Posted by on May 6, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  6. Someone Call Iwao Benedictenbach!

    THIS one’s a real panic you won’t be able to keep to yourself. Try it – you won’t be able to.

    It seems a pal found a couple of packs of erasers, presumably shortly after being fingerprinted for heaven knows what this time!

    Let’s take a look.

    I did some research on this one and it turns out these were issued to H&B animators in lieu of model sheets for “Yogi’s Gang.”

    Posted by on May 5, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  7. Promotional Backpack!

    THERE’S this store in my neighborhood called “Pay 99¢ + or Less” and first of all, I want to commend them, with the mere inclusion of a plus sign, for covering all the bases with that one.

    Anyway, like me, you enjoy not only the dollar chain stores, but also the little independent dollar stores. And this is obviously one of the latter.

    So, for a buck, you can get one of these babies:

    What’s so compelling and newsworthy about this, however, is not that someone in charge of the promotional gifts for the IGCS meeting in 2006 decided that a backpack was the way to go, but rather that the unclaimed ones have now made their way into my community and are used to carry books to school by children who in all likelihood can’t read English. Whoops! Obviously I meant “yet,” not “English.”

    My point is, of course, any way that we can increase awareness is a positive thing.

    Posted by on May 3, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  8. 7 Wonderfully Contemplative Approaches to Dealing With the Disconcerting News of Osama Bin Laden’s Death

    LOOK, I get it. You’re confused. You don’t quite know what to feel about the death of Osama Bin Laden. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. He seemed to be a bad man, with that whole indirectly-responsible-for-the-deaths-of-thousands-of-Americans-on-9/11 thing that you might have heard about. But on the other hand, you want the world you live in to be the touchiest, feeliest, warmest and fuzziest place it can be. And how can it be that way if – even for a second! – you admit to having even the tiniest iota of schadenfreude for that poor soul?

    Lucky for you, I’ve gone and compiled a bunch of resources here – from the Internet’s brightest minds! – to help you work through your dilemma. (Don’t worry – didn’t take me too long. They’re almost all from – surprise! – The Huffington Post.)

    And when you’re all done reading them…? You come back here because I’ve got a great big hug with your name on it. We’ll get through this thing together.

    1. Why Are We So Happy Osama Bin Laden is Dead?
    Why indeed? ‘Tis truly a noggin-scratcher. But this piece serves as a good primer for the more advanced texts to come.

    2. Is It O.K. To Feel Happy About Osama Bin Laden’s Death?
    A nagging question undoubtedly. Fortunately, Time Magazine has a piece to help you sort out your feelings. And soon all of this unpleasantness will be behind us and the august and respected newsweekly will get back to the more important issues they cover these days.

    3. The Psychology of Revenge: Why We Should Stop Celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s Death
    All this partying had been going on far too long already when that piece was posted, at 9:43 Eastern Standard Time the morning after the news was announced.

    4. How Should We Respond to the Death of Osama Bin Laden?
    Now this is what I’m talking about! Real answers to our questions! Like you, I’m looking for guidance here. Author Jim Wallis will show us all the way.

    5. Osama Is Dead. Now What Should I Feel?
    Unsure which emotion you need to be dialing up after hearing the news? Torn between joy and mourning? No worries! This piece will give you the direction you seek!

    6. Should We Have Celebrated Osama Bin Laden’s Death?
    Author Susan Piver challenges us in her piece, “Look at your own reaction this morning. Was there even a hint of vengefulness or gladness at Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, that is a real problem.” Yikes! Now I feel terrible! Well, surely she can navigate us to a better place – let’s continue reading. “So what do we do? I don’t really know…” If she doesn’t, who does?

    7. Was Osama Bin Laden Evil?
    Here we go. Now there’s a question that’s inspired more lively debate than “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” And while we don’t get any kind of a definitive answer in the piece linked above, the author does use the word “paradigm.” So it’s got that.

    You know what? Maybe the Occam’s Razor approach is what we need here – you know, the simplest solution is the best. And who better embodied that in this situation than buxom singing sensation Katy Perry via Twitter?


    Finally! So perfect and succinct was her pronouncement that she had a full 81 characters to spare! And that’s with the naughty words!

    But wait! Later that same day, she offered us this:

    I believe in justice… but don’t u think that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind? :(

    Hey, didn’t she just say that—  It was her that wrote how America—  Her first reaction was the polar opposite of this later—

    …You know, this is why I have previously stayed away from these topical subjects. I’m clearly in way over my head.

    And now I think it’s me who needs that hug.

    Take off your bra first.

    Posted by on , 4:34 AM.

  9. On Location – with Sears!

    REMEMBER that issue of “Good Housekeeping” that we were talking about last week?* Well, there was this pretty big advertising section in the front from Sears. Sure, Sears – where America shops for value. They bought like ten or twelve pages! Look, I don’t remember exactly how many; I’ve since thrown the damn thing out, which is what you do with a magazine when you’re done with it. (Great, I’ve probably made Nana Parsnips cry again*.)

    *See previous post. —ed.

    Okay, so ten to twelve pages is an enormous amount of advertising in a national magazine. And Sears! Back in the late 1970s, they were still pretty big. They were the only game in town, sure! This section was page after page after page of home furnishings – bedroom sets and like that. But here’s what I enjoyed, and therefore, you will too: You see, they took some of the photogra–  Look, why don’t I just show you?

    Here’s what I, and now you, get a kick out of. They didn’t take these photographs in a studio and then superimpose them over an outdoor photo. They didn’t even dress an indoor set to make it look outdoors. No, folks, they actually took all this furniture, set it up, and then made the beds – outside!

    Look at that rug out there – they actually laid it down on the ground! On the sandy, dusty ground! Someone propped up those windows there on the rocks! And the beds, well, I’d like to believe someone, like a Teamster maybe, set up the beds and then someone else, like a housekeeper, came along and made them. Regardless, they shot all this outside.

    And you may not be able to see it as clearly in these photos as you can looking at the actual full-size pages, but I’m telling you, these were definitely shot outside.

    Oh, we’re not done yet – there’s more!

    Look at that! It looks like they shot this out at Vasquez Rocks! I was going to make “Vasquez Rocks” a link, but you’re either familiar with it or you’re not. In fact, it looks little like Vasquez Rocks, I just wanted to tie these pictures to a specific place to make this thing read even more interesting. Well, it looks like the desert, anyway. God only knows how many poisonous insects they brought home with them in all the bedding and mattresses when they packed up at the end of the day.

    Let’s continue, hmm?

    “Delightful” is right! They set up this stuff out in the middle of some stream! Some poor jackass had to tromp around, hopefully for him in hip waders, and carry that whole sink / window combo through the water, and then balance it out there in the swamp.One wrong step on a slippery, algae covered rock and your entire day is shot as your vanity with its ruffled valance and tiebacks go floating down the mighty Mississipp’ while you’re frantically pulling off leeches and toe biters!

    Okay, I saved the best for last:

    Look at that! So they set up the bed out in God-knows-where – I mean, it’s very pretty, of course, but it’s God-knows-where -and then they have a model get in it and pretend to be sleeping.

    You know what I’d like to think (and feel free to want to think this, too) – I’d like to think that she really is sleeping because there was no Teamster, there was no housekeeper – she’s the one that had to lug all that furniture off the truck and out into the meadow, the marsh, and the desert. The poor woman’s exhausted! But my God, to be able to add this shot to her professional portfolio!

    I wonder if she took off her hip waders before she got into bed? Me, I would have kept them on. Much less skin exposed to deer ticks. Take it from me: ten minutes after that bed was set up, the sheets were crawling with them. I mean, look, there’s grass right up against the dust ruffle. That’s where they wait for you (and deer). In the grass, not on dust ruffles. Don’t even get me started on the mosquitoes out there – I mean, it’s right by the water. And the horse flies, too, probably.  Big as your thumb they were, likely, and landing right on her hair and biting down right into her scalp. My head would have been under those covers, screw my portfolio!

    Who the hell okayed this whole ad campaign? My God, I love it.

    Posted by on April 12, 2011, 2:07 AM.

  10. Little Stacks of Rocks!

    WHAT IS  IT with these little stacks of rocks?

    Here, this is what I mean:

    That’s exactly what I mean.

    I don’t know where I found it.  I pulled it off some website.

    I can do that, right?  I probably should talk to my attorney about that, but for the time being, let’s just say that if it’s your image, and you want me to pull it down, you just let me know.  It’s up to you.  I would, personally, think it’s something of an honor to have your picture featured here, but that’s just me.  But you just let me know.

    Anyway, what’s up with the little stacks of rocks?  I’ve been seeing these things for about ten years now.  Is this some stupid zen thing?  Or some sappy one-with-nature Indian thi– Oh, oh, pardon me, some Native American thing?  What is it? Help me out here.  Because I’m seeing these things everywhere, and frankly, they’re starting to piss me off.

    I just got this in the mail:

    There it is again.  And, no, no, no, it’s not my birthday – thank you, but it’s not my birthday.  It’s a reminder from a chiropractor, sent to whoever lived here previously.  Must be his birthday.

    The point is, there it is again.  The little stack of rocks.

    Okay, let’s try something here.  Google images.  Ooh, let’s say…”stacked stones.”

    Holy crap.

    Clearly we’ve gone from mildly annoying trend to hackneyed cliché.  What is it with all the stacked stones?

    Is it supposed to be arty or something?  You’re stacking little rocks on top of each other.  How is that art?  This is suddenly something beautiful?  No.

    You know, it occurs to me the first time I saw this was when I was mountain biking a few years ago, and came up to the top of this ridge out in the middle of nowhere, and there was a little stack of rocks, maybe six, eight inches tall, just like in any of those pictures.  It didn’t annoy me then, but it annoys me now, and if it’s still there next time I’m out there, I’m kicking it down.

    Now, understand: I won’t make a special trip out there to kick it down, but by God, if it’s still there next time I’m out there anyway, it has a date with my foot.

    Same thing goes for any of these things I see at the beach, because now that I think of it, I always see them there, too.  So let’s just all calm down and stop stacking little rocks and then taking pictures of them.

    Posted by on March 31, 2011, 3:46 AM.

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