1. Those White Things On “Wheel of Fortune” — An investigation!

    If there’s one thing that we, as a nation, have been confused about over this past year — no surprise it’s the number one subject of the cards, letters, and postcards you people have been sending into the ol’ blog — it’s this:

    What’s the deal with those white things on “Wheel of Fortune”?

    Now, if you haven’t tuned in to “Wheel” (industry term) for a while, let me get you up to speed: when COVITZ-19 hit, the staff over at “Wheel of Fortune” was at a complete loss as to how to continue production.

    The problem they faced was grim: How can you tape a program where central to gameplay are three contestants touching potentially the same 5.52 square inches (I calculated the surface area) of any of the iconic wheel’s seventy-three spikes? You don’t know where any of those players’ hands have been! Throw in Pat’s good-natured insistence in high-fiving the contestants after each win (or “solve” as they call it behind the scenes), and you’ve got an easy, delicious, make-ahead recipe for a super-spreader event.

    Solution: The folks in the prop department came up with the white thing — a comfortable, form-fitting sheath that slides down over the hard, sturdy peg much like a condom slips over a man’s (or, it being 2021, woman’s) erect penis. And much like a condom, it protects the contestant from the COVITZ.

    Pat calls them “those white things” and we catch a glimpse here and there of them, but never for very long, and never in closeups. But what exactly are they? Well, I aimed to find out. So I decided to go on the show.

    The fact is I was going to Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City anyway. I was kind of torn between just getting a full-time job on the writing staff (up to this point I’d just been sending in “spec” puzzles — they pay $3 for each one they use; $5 if it’s used in the bonus round — plus an extra $1.50 if it stumps the contestant and the show doesn’t have to pay out) or going on “Jeopardy!” and winning the “Jeopardy Showdown!” there. 

    They tape “Jeopardy!” directly across the hall and I considered going on that one, but Anderson Cooper was hosting. We had been involved in a Twitter war the prior week and I was concerned (and with good reason, I believe) that he would refuse to call on me when I raised my hand to answer one of the trivia questions that pop up during the show.

    Still, I hadn’t yet committed to one program or the other, so I stood in the contestant line for “Jeopardy!” — but just long enough to realize I wasn’t going to get on without a wacky costume. I gave up and headed across the hall to “Wheel.”

    Chuck Woolery hosting the pilot of “Wheel” in 1972, then called “Lo Cinnamon” for Japanese markets.

    As regular readers of this blog know, I have publicly proclaimed, loudly, often on municipal buses (including LA Metro’s #33 that brought me there that morning), that it would be a cold day in hell before I appeared on “Wheel of Fortune” if it was hosted by anyone other than Chuck Woolery, but even I’m ready to admit that maybe that ship has sailed. I’d made my peace with the infamous host shakeup/kerf_ffle of 1981 and I was finally ready to go on and come home with at least their famous life-size ceramic Croatian.

    “Wheel” it was!

    I won’t bore you with the details of the actual taping other than to say it happens so fast you barely know you’re on. I pounded one of these guys from the craft services table…

    …right before we started (they encourage you to do whatever you need to, to get relaxed — as long as you can still enunciate the letters of the alphabet clearly) and I was still good and buzzed by the time we finished.

    Vanna’s great as ever, turning the letters like a pro. And there’s an art to it. The rods those triangular letter “cubes” are mounted on are lubricated with WD-40, because otherwise the microphone picks up the metal-on-metal screech. She turns those things too far and America is treated to the never-before-seen third side — each one featuring an unflattering caricature of “Wheel” creator Merv Griffith’s arch-enemy, Todd Goodmark.  

    Of course, since the onset of COVITZ, Ms. White is required to stand six feet away from each letter as she turns it, so they’ve given her what looks like a mop handle to push them while properly socially-distancing. 

    There’s two ways to enrage the host, the genial Pat Sajak, and we’re warned against them — drilled, really — before the cameras roll: One is to refer to a beloved pet as though you’re its parent — like it sprang forth from your very loins and it isn’t just an animal living in your house, shedding hair everywhere, and occasionally tinkling on the carpet. (During the interview portion, there’s a stagehand just off-camera holding a huge cue-card that reads, in huge letters, “DO NOT SAY ‘FUR BABIES’!”)

    The second is to purchase, or “buy” a vowel — literally any of the letters A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y— by saying, specifically, “I’ll buy the [vowel].” 

    The presumption that it’s there — that you know it’s there — irritates the hell out of Pat, and frankly, it pisses me off too when I watch at home. “I’ll buy the E.” Okay, there, potential M.E.N.S.A. member Elaine from Rochester Hills, Michigan — “the” E. 

    Well, that buzzer telling you there is no “the” E in that particular puzzle is music to my — and Pat’s, I must assume — ears.

    During my taping, I was doing great in figuring out the answers (I didn’t even need the little memo pad & pencil they give you to jot down notes) but I kept phrasing the solution in the form of a question and they deduct points for that now.  Ultimately, I ended up with a big goose egg at the end of the show. (And not a Fabergé goose egg — available for $450 during the shopping portion — either.)

    However: A big goose egg at the end of “Wheel” is not zero. No, they have something that they like to refer to as “the pity grand.”

    “Well, Ted,” Pat said to me, “It just wasn’t your night, but we do have that pity grand for you.” I responded with a heartfelt speech about giving Chuck Woolery a second chance, maybe just having him fill in for Pat on weekends, but it was cut (you’ll see the obvious, jarring edit when it airs).

    Once the taping is over, in file a troupe of interns in hazmat suits looking for all the world like Oompa-Loompas from the Wonkavision scene in “Willy Wonka” — quite apt, it turns out,  since that movie was filmed on that same soundstage in 1963. They go to work with a power washer to clean the Wheel with some sort of industrial disinfectant, while others come over and collect all the “wedge swag” (industry term) that got pried off the Wheel during the show. In the case of my taping, this included a $550 space that I mistook for a Wild Card. That’ll teach me to forego wearing my spectacles when on national TV — vanity, thy name is Ted! 

    Side note: It was my intention, had I landed on the Million Dollar space, to bend that bastard in half if I hit a bankrupt because 1) what the hell does the Wheel of Fortune art department do all day? Making a new one for the next show would keep ‘em employed for another week — you’re welcome, fellas! — and 2) if I had bent it in half, you know the staff would be all, “well, it’s useless now — you might as well take it home — we’re just going to throw it out.”

    And then — craigslist collectibles section, here I come! $700 or best offer!

    Of course, they also collect the white things — and that’s what I was there for in the first place. So here’s what I did: I wisely wore loose-fitting basketball shorts to the taping, and slid that bad boy down the front of my chonies (ethnic term). 

    “I don’t know what happened to it,” I told the young p.a. in charge of collecting them. “I think it rolled under the Wheel.” 

    Well, while they were bringing in a forklift to lift up the Wheel and look, I got the hell out of there. They tape eighteen shows a day and after the last one, Pat and Vanna takes everyone out to Shakey’s for a pizza party. But they still had six shows to go, and I wasn’t about to wait around. 

    Long story short, I got the damn white thing, and here it is!

    The warning about the explosive dye is nonsense. It detonated, yes, but I was well off the lot — three blocks away! — when it did. Basically no stronger than a party popper, it shot confetti and streamers plus a few coupons for $1 off three skeins of Vanna White’s yarn (and those I will definitely use).

    The white thing is pretty solid and it weighs about ten pounds. Turns out it’s made of titanium with a kiln-fired powder enamel finish. 

    I’ll be putting it on eBay, starting bid $1,800, along with what will no doubt be some sort of cease-and desist letter from Sony Pictures.

    Oh look, here it is already.

    Posted by on June 11, 2021, 9:33 AM.

  2. Season 9: Going Forward!

    We’re back!

    We’re back for Season Nine!  There wasn’t a Season Seven, and Season Eight only had two episodes, or “posts” [blogging term], but by Godfrey, we’re back once again — for Season Nine.

    Ya ever notice how everything has “seasons” now?  What’s the deal with that?  Podcasts now have “seasons.”  Oh, don’t get me started on podcasts!  Don’t get me started on podcasts — right? YouTube channels have “seasons.”  YouTube channels!  You’re a YouTube channel — how do you have a season?  Aaah—!  

    Look, if those people can justify dividing their “creative” (and I use that term generously!) output into little subsets, arbitrarily parsing out said units in a piecemeal fashion over specific divisions of time — for no good reason, mind you! —  and then go on a “scheduled” hiatus, pretentiously calling the result “seasons,” then, dad-blast-it!, so can I.  

    Anyway, thanks for giving us a Season Nine!  Whooooo! Season Nine!

    We couldn’t have done it without your support!  You fans are amazing. You’re amazing! You’re brilliant. And those of you who cis-dentify as female?  You’re fierce.  (You love self-describing as “fierce,” right?  That’s like your thing, right? “Fierce!” Rrowr!  Good for you. You don’t ever have to feel less-than if you’re fierce!  I may put that one on a throw pillow.)

    That coordinated social media campaign and petition you folks grass-rooted for me really did the trick!  And sending all those bottles of rancid olive oil and vinegar (a reference to fan-favorite episode “The One With The Bottles of Crap I Keep Seeing in Thrift Stores,” Season 2, Episode 7, 4/16/12)  to the executives at the network, or as I like to call it, website hosting company, was the icing on the cake!  Well, not so much the icing. More like the rancid olive oil and vinegar on the cake.

    ——Rancid olive oil and vinegar on the cake?! Wow, flashback to my sixth birthday party, where Nana Parsnips already had her plate full with early-onset Old Timer’s, clinical term, yet was still put in charge of refreshments.

    Anyway! Much like the later seasons of a once-beloved show, especially after a long hiatus, or after it gets canceled and then picked up some time later for “first-run syndication,” it’s never quite the same, is it?

    And neither will this be. One of the biggest changes is that you’ll notice that Mabel King will no longer be appearing on my blog as Mama.  She’s doing well, and we wish her the best, but she opted not to return. “Creative differences,” she tells us. She opted not to return, citing “creative differences,” sure! She didn’t like the direction the blog was going in. [And here I rub my thumb across my curled index finger on my closed fist, as though indicating it was a matter of money.] 

    We wish her well. 

    But you may notice the tone may be a bit different now — a little more sensitive, a little more “awake” as you kids like to say, and, welp, a little more bespoke, as you kids who like borrowing terms and phrases from the British, wot!, without knowing what they bloody mean, also like to say.

    And that difference in tone? It’s because I’m not drinking. 

    Oh no, hold your applause, hold your accolades — I’m not drinking right now, writing this, right now, but brother, hoo-boy, you’ll know when I am.  Those have always been the fun posts to read!  Or at least write!

    And you may notice some other changes. First of all, all of the posts have been spaced, what, six feet apart. For the time being, I’ll be blogging for you outside under a canopy. You in turn will be required to read these out-of-doors or order them for takeout. Or, if you haven’t signed up with BlogHub or BlogDash or any of the other blog delivery apps, new posts will be available for curbside pickup. (Just call ahead!)

    We’re following federal, state and local protocols on this, but it’s important to realize that it’s for your safety. To that end, we’re keeping an empty middle seat until November 30. This is just one of the many things we’re doing to ensure your health and piece of mind, and also, just one of the many examples that will make absolutely no sense six months from now. Hopefully.

    We’ve disabled the comments, because they were too difficult to sanitize. Similarly, we’ve had to close the restrooms temporarily, so you probably should bring an empty Powerade jug [above] with you if you plan on spending any time on this site (and judging by Google Analytics, this only would affect 0.0000746% of the, what, six visitors we get here per month, and of that 0.0000746%, you tend to stay roughly 0.218 seconds, or the amount of time it takes you to realize your mistake in coming here and hit the back button on your browser. Still: It’s good to be prepared.)

    {Wow, I still love the impossible-to-follow, over-punctuated, obsessed-with-hyphens, run-on sentences, though, don’t I?}

    Now, there’s been a run on some of the topics I cover, so to be fair to everyone, we’ve had to put a limit (2) on the number of posts about delightfully weird and delicious food that I find in dollar stores…

    Weird food from the dollar store. Weird, but genuinely delicious. And a meal I can feel good about feeding my kids.

    …that you’ll be allowed to read. Know this: Our factories are up and running and we hope to get more of these posts to you soon. We don’t anticipate any long term issues with our supply chain, so, going forward, we’re going to meet the moment and be mindful about making these blog posts available to everyone.

    Furthermore, we listened. We listened.

    We’ve taken down the statue of General Pavel “Old Kielbasa” Andrusko, the only Slovak who fought for the South in the Civil War, that used to grace the courtyard, out by the reflecting pool. (Located just north of the April 2013 archives. Or it used to be.)  We understand that making references to swarthy Slovaks might seem harmless to the swarthy Slovak writing this, but that there’s a history of systemic swarthiness associated with Slovaks and Going Forward, we felt it was important to reflect, promote and evolve significantly sensitive engagement in our ongoing efforts to promote responsibly incoherent combinations of meaningless buzzwords.

    To that end, only posts mentioning swarthy Slovaks will be written by swarthy Slovaks, and if a reference is made to, say, a creamy Ruritanian with skin like alabaster, all efforts will be made to locate such a person to type up that particular post. It’s only right.

    [In his defense, though, Great-Great Grand Uncle Pavel thought he signed up for the other side. He couldn’t read or write a lick of American when he stepped off the plane. …Okay, when he slid down out of the wheel well where he had stowed away.]

    Back to more important matters. We’re defunding [popular concept] the web design team after a number of complaints about them, all from me. So in the future, Going Forward, if there’s a problem with the website, we’ll be dispatching a team of unarmed social workers to see just what in God’s name I did this time to screw up the site. These people will be specially trained to handle my mostly non-violent mental health crises that arise when once again I start babbling about “using up all my webspace for photos” or making other odd references that may or may not be inside jokes to 1/6 of my regular readers.

    Furthermore, while many of you will remember fondly this site as MrsBigChiefUncleEskimima[dot]com, we recognize the inequities that were associated with the name of this blog, and Going Forward, after extensive research, we’ve discovered the most inoffensive first name and the most innocuous vegetable and we’ve re-branded as the completely irreproachably named TedParsnips[dot]com. Going Forward.

    Finally, we understand that gender is a societal construct and we will no longer be using binary pronouns. We are in the process of changing, or transitioning every pronoun in older posts to the accepted “they.”  Please bear with they as they make these changes.

    Thank they for sticking with they and reading TedParsnips 2.0, Season 9!

    …Did I miss anything?

    Ooh! Pardon! Did they miss anything?

    Posted by on October 25, 2020, 8:47 PM.

  3. Delicious 5-Year-Old Cheese!

    YOU know, with all the great things at the 99¢ Only store all the time, there’s really no excuse for me to not post at least one such item a day no matter how busy I am, looming deadlines for actual paying gigs be damned!

    “That way,” as my blogging mentor, or blogntor, Sylvia Haynes-Darden advised us in her recent continuing education class Mommyblogging for the Childless, “there’s new content continuously, regardless of how uninteresting and/or esoteric your blog is.”

    And brother, my blog is nothing if not uninteresting and/or esoteric. I mean, there’s obscure references on this blog that even I don’t get, and I’m the one who wrote them. But don’t worry, you’re not missing much – they’re about as fascinating as Chapter XII (“Of the Motion of Water Issuing from a Cylindric Vessel”) in Colin Maclauren’s 1801 masterwork “A Treatise on Fluxions.”

    Eh, anyway, without further fondue (you’ll get it in a minute), I give you today’s item: Cheese!  See, now you get it.

    junebueno4

    Note: The preceding was written in 2014 but never posted. Folks, bear with me — I’m trying to re-find my blogging voice [industry term], and the first step in doing this is to go over the more than two dozen drafts I started to write but never finished and posted…and, eh, finish ’em and post ’em. You’ll agree each one is a fascinating snapshot of what it was like to live in American society as a disenfranchised* person back then — and yet today, somehow remain just as timely as ever!

    *They had, at the time of this writing, recently repossessed the Uncle Razmik’s Falafel Wads™ rolling kiosk I had almost paid off and barred me from the food court.

    Posted by on September 5, 2019, 11:34 AM.

  4. Oh, Look! Here’s That ‘Blog’ We All Forgot I Had!

    “SORRY I haven’t blogged in a while…”

    How many times have we all read that, after doing a search on something, finding an interactive hypertext underlined word, or link [blogging term], clicking on same and then “surfin’ on in” (as you like to say), onto someone’s personal website who happens to have posted an entry about the specific thing you’re trying to find out about? A lot of times, sure. Back when we all read blogs, that is.

    So your introduction to this person who you aren’t the least bit interested in beyond whatever specific information you were looking for — a scanned owners manual for a late 1940s Norge RB 66-L refrigerator, a review of that seasonal Kwanzaa Crunch cereal that Quaker releases in December, the rollout of a new font in the aisle markers for a southern US grocery chain, whether that new cheese store got in a shipment of desiccated pomelo cheddar (and if it, yet again, has special ‘holiday’ hours), etc. — that brought you there in the first place is…that he (or she! #MeToo!) is apologizing for not blogging more.

    How lame is that!  And like anyone cares!

    Besides — was the world really suffering from a dearth of poorly written pieces that go on and on and on about people who bring dogs into stores, or what the calcified old biddies at some incompetently managed San Fernando Valley women’s club are up to this week?

    No, certainly not!  I haven’t posted new material in over two blessed years, and rather than apologize, I expect your gratitude for not doing so!  Yeah! You’re frickin’ welcome!

    And what’s more — now you’re all going to pay, all, what, six of you, because I’m back, brother!  I’m back and more inane and out of touch than ever! If the posts I was banging out on this site were embarrassing to read before, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

    …Or who knows, maybe this’ll be the sole entry for 2019 and then this thing just withers here, swaying in the wind like a desiccated pomelo until I stop paying the cost to host this thing and it just disappears, forgotten as quickly as a reference to linoleum block-printing on a LiveJournal.

    Either way, be sure to check back every day and see! Maybe next time I’ll include an inside joke crafted just for you! 

    Posted by on September 3, 2019, 1:15 AM.

  5. Question: How Does My Local All-You-Can Eat Chinese Buffet Keep Its Prices So Low?

    Answer: No expensive restaurant laundry service for them — no sir!

    rags

    Posted by on February 24, 2016, 1:24 PM.

  6. Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Your Chances Of Receiving This

    thriftleftbanner

    Saw this ceramic delight in my local Salvation Army.

    IMG_0672

    A hand-painted Mickey Mouse ashtray!

    I think we can presume it is currently the record holder for speed in the Received-As-A-Gift, Donated-To-A-Thrift-Store category.

    Posted by on October 12, 2015, 2:32 AM.

  7. Experts Are Calling For Better Headline Writers

    allergies

    “Hang those who speak of less pollen! These mild allergy seasons are making us too soft!” —Experts.

    Posted by on March 21, 2015, 5:09 PM.

  8. Today In Exciting New Banner Ads That Inspire Confidence In the Consumer! Part III!

    thisguy

    Presumably that “unfair advantage” refers to those of us who don’t have the resources to have our heads surgically removed and then grafted onto the bodies of muscular men of a different race.

    Continuing with today’s head-grafting theme, which I imagine is a short phrase that has never been written before…

    littlepersonh20

    “Love your idea for the ‘Game of Thrones’-themed bottled water. Now, it’s not right for us here in Licensing, but we’re going to send your concept art over to the mortgage refinancing division of our corporation in case they can use it.”

    Posted by on March 6, 2015, 1:50 PM.

  9. Today In Click-Through Web Banner Ads!

    Finally! An ad that speaks to the advertising world’s most coveted demographic: Men who are looking to refinance their homes and who stylishly wear their wristwatch on their penis, though evidently a bit too snugly.

    wienerclock

    Posted by on August 15, 2014, 7:18 PM.

  10. Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

    Venerable newspaper / squeaky toy Doggy News

    doggynews1

    …launches digital edition!

    doggynews2

    Eh…get it?  It’s, uh, it’s all ones and zeroes.

    Maybe the real story here is how Hartz Mountain managed to let the copyright for their perennial best-selling squeaky latex dog toy – which dates back to at least the 1970s – lapse into public domain so that a poorly reproduced knockoff with a barely legible masthead (“Doggn Nems,” it seems to read; “Weather: Dog Days” and “Kennel Edition” are nowhere in sight) can be manufactured in China and sold at 99¢ Only.

    I mean, what’s next, an unlicensed Crinkle Fish cat toy?!

    Although…re-reading this post I’m wondering if perhaps an even bigger scoop would be why in God’s name I remember the specifics of a dog toy from almost 40 years ago.

    Posted by on July 15, 2014, 11:48 PM.

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