Thursday 2 July 2020

Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist: Welcome to Coarsegold!

By Alex

In any good Western, the setting is more than just a place where stuff happens—it becomes a character in and of itself. Whether it’s the sun-blasted landscapes of a Spaghetti Western, a shining frontier hamlet menaced by bandits, or a run-down dump that the new sheriff needs to clean up, the rugged landscape, colorful characters, and ever-present danger of the Wild West provides ample storytelling opportunities.

It also provides ample opportunities for fart jokes.
Westerns often feature cattle rustlers, Indian tribes (both friendly and not), Chinese immigrants, Mexican banditos, poncy lawyers from back East, smooth-talking gunfighters, card-sharks, prostitutes, piano players, corrupt officials, virtuous lawmen, sweet schoolmarms, frontier kids, miners and gold prospectors, and anyone wanting to strike out away from civilized society to make their way in the wide, wide world.

Coarsegold, California, the setting of FPFP, is most definitely a dump. But it’s an interesting one, and good sized. I spent the vast majority of this session wandering the town, mapping it out, picking up what I can, and generally testing the limits of the game world before I did what the game intended me to do at this early juncture: head to Freddy’s pharmacy and open for the day.

Main Street

Freddy begins on the central-western section of Main Street, home to the Golden Balls Saloon, Mom’s Café, and the Dirty Sheets Hotel. Billy the town handyman is boarding up the latter, and when Freddy inquires, Billy confesses he doesn’t know why.

I don’t find anything else to do on this screen, and Billy doesn’t provide any useful information, so I decided to check out the two establishments that are still open.

Mom’s Café

Mom’s is a down-home diner run by Helen Back (get it?) a pretty nasty piece of work. She’s quick with a cutting comment and a threat to Freddy’s life if he dares touch things he shouldn’t.

She’s also quick with an Airplane! reference.

Mom berates Freddy for calling her “Mom,” for not being at his pharmacy, for trying to walk where he shouldn’t, and basically just for existing. Geez, don’t you think some players get enough of this from their actual moms?

Mom is assisted by her cook Hopalong Singh “from the Far East.” Based on his look and his name, he’s a Chinese-Indian, but not a Native American Indian.

He doesn’t provide any useful information at this moment, and seems to exist solely as a racial caricature of the typical denizens of an Old West town as popularized by Hollywood . . . but let’s take a moment to discuss this, shall we?

In the Year of our Lord 2020, Hopalong’s character portrait sure looks offensive. And maybe it did in 1993 as well (I was 12, so had I played this game, concepts like this would likely have eluded me). But let’s look at a few things here:
  1. The Nature of Comedy: This is a comedy adventure game, and I see caricatures of plenty of the white people in this game. Freddy is a stereotypically goofy white guy, and we haven’t even gotten to the barber or the sheriff (oh, the barber . . . a walking, talking Irish/Italian stereotype if there ever was one). I get the sense that Al Lowe, Josh Mandel, and their team of artists just wanted to make everybody look ridiculous, regardless of their race. And since I have both played other Al Lowe games, have heard from Al’s former colleague Corey Cole in the comments that Al is not a racist, and am also not in the business of judging other people’s hearts and souls without actually knowing them or having evidence to do so, I’m going to just roll with the caricatures here.
  2. Context: This game is a spoof of Westerns, and from what I can tell, a loving spoof at that. Even during my so-far short playtime, I already get the sense that this game is spoofing everybody and everything ever associated with the Western genre. And so, like classic spoofs of the past and presumably Blazing Saddles, a movie I have not seen but which seems to be this game’s main inspiration, everything here is done for the good-natured laughs.
  3. Times Change: It’s inevitable. Yesterday’s comedy becomes today’s heresy, and vice versa. The team behind FPFP could never have predicted the future, and I for one refuse to judge the content of a work’s creators by the social mores and taboos of the present. I am nearly 100 percent certain that everybody who worked on this game was a good, decent, kind-hearted soul who just wanted to make players laugh and not at certain ethnic groups or what have you. I’m giving the FPFP team the benefit of the doubt and I sincerely hope that anybody reading my posts or playing along with me does the same.
  4. And if you are offended?: Then my apologies only in the sense that me sharing this screenshot or blogging about this game bothered you. My intent is to write about my experiences playing FPFP, what works, what doesn’t, and maybe dig deep into what makes adventure games tick and why we love them.
Thank you for indulging me in this digression. This was the elephant in the room that stuck out to me a few minutes into exploring Coarsegold. But now that it’s out of the way, we can talk about more important, weighty matters. Like fart jokes.

See the two cans in the foreground of the screenshot? Looking at the can of corn reveals that it’s P&W brand corn, “The firm, crisp kernels that look as good coming out as they do going in.” The can of P&W beans—“The firm, crisp beans that smell as savory on the way out as they do on the way in” (Fart joke no. 1!)—is empty, and can be taken. As commenters on the introduction post have noted, actions which give Freddy points are accompanied by a sample of an old Western guy yelling “Score!” which is quite hilarious.

Helen does have some more intel about why the Hotel shut down: “Sheriff Shift and Phineas were there, talking about it being a fire hazard and something about there being back rent owed.” But she’s totally not a gossip, guys.

Golden Balls Saloon

Next door to Mom’s is the Golden Balls Saloon, an eating and drinking—well, drinking establishment run by one Sam Andreas.

Sam doesn’t have anything useful, or even friendly, to say and has no Ovaltine to give Freddy. Too bad, because I really want that secret decoder ring (yeah, that’s two A Christmas Story references so far in my playthrough—maybe there’ll be as many of these as there are fart jokes!). Anyway, this place is a dump. There’s a piano player named Neville Shute who doesn’t talk but who will play requests from the game music (I pick that hoary old chestnut “Revolucion Numero 9,”), some bandito-looking dudes who won’t talk to you, and old Doc “Dizzy” Gillespie, who is drunk off his ass.

And thinks he’s Lionel Barrymore.

Freddy comments to the good doctor that his prescriptions have been getting sloppier and sloppier, and wonders if the doctor has been writing them drunk. To which the doctor has some drunken ramblings peppered with various denials. I imagine that this becomes a plot point later on in the game. For now, there’s nothing to do in the casino save for click on everything (including the moose) and appreciate all the little jokes.

And before I forget, yes, the inventory is also a source of jokes, bad puns, and gags. As in Leisure Suit Larry V, you can click any object on any other—including itself—and get some sort of funny little message.

There’s a door in the back of the Golden Balls that takes you out back.

Behind the Golden Balls.

The area behind the Saloon looks out to bluff street to the North (here, the bottom of the screen). The Old Abandoned Synagogue lies to the west (the right) and the top of Reverend Sy Hallelujah’s house is visible to the northeast (lower-left of the screen). Local medicinal quack Dad Gumm’s wagon is back here, and a bottle of his elixir lies on the counter. There’s a staircase that leads to the Hotel balcony, but Freddy can do nothing but peer through the locked windows into the empty rooms—I have a sneaking suspicion born of countless years playing adventure games that this will be important later. The back window to Mom’s is open, and every once in a while Hopalong Singh walks by, but all he does is tell Freddy to get lost. Lastly, there’s an icepick stuck in a barrel.

I do the only sensible thing an adventure gamer would do, and grab the elixir and the icepick. The game comments how Freddy almost circumcises himself when he puts the icepick in his pocket, but that it’s no skin off of his nose (how droll). The elixir is basically super-powerful alcohol, and Freddy dies if he drinks it.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh. But it was only 190 proof!

In clicking things on other things in my inventory, Freddy uses the icepick to poke a bunch of holes in the empty can—which gives me points—and then throws the icepick away, so I guess that was something I was supposed to do.

Let’s keep walking along Main Street. West of the first screen we come to a stretch of road with a blacksmith and a bank. The road continues south. I see a small child walking (or running, in this case)—one of the many denizens of Coarsegold out and about. It adds a lot of flavor and life to the town. You can talk to them, but so far none have said anything useful. The street continues west and south.

The smith, Smithie, doesn’t have much to say except that he’d sell his shop in a second if he had a buyer, and that he really doesn’t like it when you click the Hand icon on him.

Otherwise, there’s nothing going on here, though Smithie does explain his rather odd-looking horse is missing most of its lower legs because neighborhood vandals stole them in the middle of the night. Looks like even sleepy Coarsegold, California, isn’t immune to petty crime.

The Bank of Bob

The Bank of Bob is a rather sad place run by a rather sad guy named P. H. Balance. There’s nothing to do here—Freddy can’t write in the register and he can’t go into the back area—but there are funny asides with nearly every interaction Freddy has with Mr. Balance and his bad hearing.

P.H. is always trying to get Freddy to open an account with a special holiday day, but Freddy wisely passes. There is a wanted poster that gives a close-up when I click the Eye icon on it; I’ll bet anything at some point Freddy’s skills as a gunslinger are going to come into play. This one is for some goofball named Bill the Barber.

West of the smithy I come to Robertson Cliffs and the mighty Blackwater Creek spanned by the Old Bridge and leading to the deserts beyond. What a view!

How old is this bridge? So old that when I walk across, a floorboard falls away and Freddy comments that he only has three more trips across the bridge left. I’m getting flashbacks to King’s Quest II and the suspension bridge leading to the three doors King Graham needs to find the keys for. If you remember correctly, you only have so many trips before the bridge gives way, so if you’ve walked across it too many times before finding the final key, you’re out of luck, chump.

I explore the desert beyond and see nothing but ants I can’t do anything with and a desert I can’t delve further into, so here I restored and continued my exploration of Coarsegold.

This one was so bad it didn’t even deserve a groan.

South of the smithy and the bank lay the brothel, run by one Madame Sadie Ovaree. I try to go in because, you know, research, but the game tells me it’s only open at night.

There are lots of specifically named plants around here, such as foxtail. There are other parts of town where the local flora is similarly called out, and I wonder if Freddy will need to gather some to make medicine.

East of both the smith and the bank and the hotel, we find an eastern stretch of main street with several buildings. The Post Office is closed, but Chester Field’s Mercantile Co. and O’Hanahan’s Barber Shop are both open.

Not much going on in the mercantile shop. The proprietor, Chester, heads into the back and never comes out so I can’t buy anything, and all I can do is swipe a paper bag from the counter. But hey! Here’s ol’ Whittlin’ Willy from the intro! He’s whittlin’ away and has nothing vital to say, but it’s cool that he’s an actual character in town and not just a narrative device.

There are some notices around with in-jokes, mostly referencing other Sierra games, so I head over to the barber shop instead of wasting my time further.

Walking Italian/Irish stereotype Salvatore O’Hanahan is busy working on a customer named Eb Sorbeen, Jr., a reference I do not understand. You can’t interact with Sorbeen in any way, but O’Hanahan has a lot to say . . . especially if you poke around his shop. I can’t take anything, but I don’t yet know if I have to. At least the game makes a comment about Freddy—and adventure gamers generally—propensity to take anything that isn’t nailed down.

O’Hanahan is worried about the tourist trade, and is concerned by the fact that the Hotel has been closed. He wants Freddy to come back when he has news about . . . anything, I guess. I make a note to do so.

East of here is a bit of road containing the Sheriff’s office and Freddy’s pharmacy, as well as the Tall and Thin Shop and PP’s Playhouse, both of which are shut down. Freddy’s helper/human cigar store Indian Dominick I decide to check out the Sheriff Checkum P. Shift’s office first.

The Sheriff is a nasty piece of work. He seems lazy and vindictive too, and those are his good points. He also constantly mispronounces Freddy’s last name, which is kind of funny.

The Sheriff pooh-poohs Freddy’s complaints about the town’s dwindling prospects, explaining that he shut the Hotel down due to it attracting the wrong kind of business. The playhouse was likewise shut down for showing “smut” like Chaucer, Rabelais, and Balzac. The Tall and Thin Shop, however, was not shut down for any prurient reasons, but because tall and thin people are sneaky and can turn sideways and disappear (the Sheriff’s concerns, not mine! Any sane person knows it’s short people you have to worry about).

This guy is useless, but there’s a wanted poster here, advertising potential heroes to be on the look out for one Mike “Stinky” Pickhinkie.

Freddy’s associate Dominick is standing outside of the pharmacy. He seems like a friendly enough guy, and tells Freddy about what he’s been reading lately.

Freddy wisely decides to just keep checking out Coarsegold.

The schoolhouse and the old abandoned Assay Office are next to the pharmacy. There are kids playing Freddie can try to talk to, and if you wait long enough the schoolmistress and Freddy’s love interest Penelope Primm walks out. Freddy can engage in some sweet, good-natured flirting that is obviously reciprocated, but there’s nothing else to do so I continue east.

Right next to the schoolhouse is a gross old swamp. The Abandoned Mine is to the north and an old broken down train at the old broken down train station is to the east, but I can’t get to either. Freddy dies if you try to walk on the swamp also, so don’t do it.

This seems like quite the hazard to have right next to a school, but that was the Wild West for you—full of danger and stupid design choices.

So that’s Main Street. Taking any of the alleys north, or walking off the bottom of the screen behind the Golden Balls takes you to Bluff Street.

In the center of Bluff Street is an old church. All you can do is open the door and snag a votive candle, which turns into a glob of wax, but it’s an inventory item so I think I’ll keep it. You can mess around with the coffin poking out of the old broken-down hearse next to the church, but that’s it for this screen. Neither Sy’s house in the lower-middle or the Old Synagogue in the lower-left can be entered, so I go to the west, first to check out the graveyard and then the rest of Bluff Street.

You can’t do anything in the western part of Bluff Street or the graveyard, aka Reboot Hill, though the game has the customary humorous headstone inscriptions. The undertaker’s house is closed, and the outhouse to the left has a missing wall. Freddy comments on how this really improves the ventilation. I also see the upper part of a gallows and noose—with luck, Freddy will never find himself hanging on the other end of this.

Finally, we come to the eastern part of Bluff Street. There’s a water tower, an old Grist Mill and an old Bakery you can’t do anything with, another entrance to the Old Abandoned Mine, one of the town’s water towers, and another outhouse. Freddy can turn the water on or off, but otherwise do nothing with it. Clicking my can-with-holes does nothing, and doesn’t even bring a special message up. This is good because at first I was worried that I’d made a mistake by not having a fully intact can with me here, but so far that fear is unfounded. There’s also the old Mayor’s house in the upper-right, but the Mayor retired and his house is, for the time being, not able to be interacted with.

In the outhouse we find fart joke no. 2: A cornucopia of sounds that I thought were the delicate music of flatus turn out to be an electrical joy buzzer under the outhouse seat. So not really farts per se, but I’m counting it.

So that’s Coarsegold! Here’s my map, comprised of screenshots.

I really like how the town is put together. It’s logical and never confusing.

But finally, my wanderings take me back to Freddy’s pharmacy, where I suppose the good pharmacist should finally get to work for the day. The game informs me that the game is half-over after I unlock the front door—I have my doubts, but I’ll bet you anything it’s sure to get interesting. I can’t wait to start poking around in here.

Session Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Inventory: paper bag, elixir, melted candle, can with holes in it
Fart Jokes: 2


  1. "let’s take a moment to discuss this, shall we?"

    The gag is absolutely racist; you don't give a Fu Manchu moustache-sporting Chinaman straight out of central casting a Sikh surname unless the joke is "I know so little about Asian cultures that I have no business writing jokes about them". Guruka Singh Khalsa produced Larry 5 two years previously, so Al ought to have known the difference.

    I don't believe that Al Lowe is a white supremacist; I think he was just stewed in the pervasive, everyday ubiquitous racism of his era that will play up negative stereotypes from all corners (not just racist ones, his jokes about women are even worse!) and apply them to all comers. So I don't think we can finger him as being worse than the baseline for his period, but we certainly can't celebrate him for not being one iota more progressive than he needed to be. And absolutely sharing the contentious content with these disclaimers is appropriate for 2020.

    (Inescapable as racist themes are in Westerns, comparisons to Blazing Saddles are a bit disingenuous because it was (partly) written by a Black man (Richard Pryor) and racism is one of its central themes; the racism is doing heavy lifting there. Here it's just part of the background noise.)

    Dominick is a similar case, but it's more complicated, since his depiction is clearly a racist fantasy while his dialogue indicates that the author is in on the joke.

    1. I agree with this comment and Alex's disclaimer and I think it appropriate to discuss these stereotypes without assuming that the people making them were "bad people". I am fairly sure from Moonmist that Galley was not anti-LGBT (for example), but he drew on hurtful tropes in the same way that Al did here.

      It is perhaps useful to note that there WAS a lot more Chinese immigration in the Old West than a lot of shows give credit for. Chinese immigrants built a lot of railroads and worked on farms and such. I once spent time studying Virginia City, Nevada (the real-world city near where Bonanza was set, for one) and was surprised to discover that it had Chinese miners and a whole Chinatown section that is more or less washed away in later depictions.

      (I have a short story that I wrote but will never see the light of day that features a newspaper reporter teaming up with a young Samuel Clemens-- actually a reporter in Virginia City during the period-- to fight dragons that were killing Chinese miners outside of Virginia City. It was Old West with Mark Twain and Dragons! Yeah, that sounds silly now that I write it out, but I was happy with it at the time.)

      One final aside: I am considering setting up a Discord or something temporarily. My idea would be that we set up a day to have regular commenters and reviewers watch "Blazing Saddles" and then pop on at a certain time to talk about it. I'm not sure that the idea would work, but I think it is worth finding a way to convince Alex to see the film because it swims and parodies some of the same tropes from this game.)

    2. "It was Old West with Mark Twain and Dragons!"

      My only question is: European Dragons, or Chinese Dragons?

    3. "Blazing Saddles" is also different because the joke isn't "ha ha black people are like this" it's "ha ha these backwater racist ignoramuses can't tell that their new black sheriff is smarter than all of them put together." It's using racism to poke fun at racists, not perpetuate stereotypes. Dominick here seems to be a similar case, though we'll see how it plays out (even though I played this when I was younger I cannot remember a single thing about its plot or characters).

      I'm glad you brought the issue up, though. Some other contemporary Sierra games had similar issues. Laura Bow 2, for example (it has a Chinese laundromat run by a man named "Lo Fat" who spoke in broken Engrish and wore a Fu Manchu mustache and so on). Even a classic like Quest for Glory III (aka White Man's Burden: the Video Game) was deeply problematic at its core, since it was mainly about two backwards tribes of dark-skinned savages warring with each other, whose problems could only be solved by the civilized white man swooping in to save the day. True, it was a 1990's send-up/homage to the pulp fiction stories of the 1930's and you can make excuses for it based on that, and I certainly don't think there was any active malice involved, but I was a little sad that the issue wasn't really addressed with that game's write-up.

      Putting that aside, I think the "Chaucer, Rabelais, and Balzac" line is a reference to "The Music Man," as those three authors are the ones Marian the Librarian reads which the whole town shuns her for.

    4. @Rowan - Mostly European because I was doing quite enough world building already and didn't want to cram "our dragons are different" in as well. Maybe I'll dust it off and post it somewhere at some point.

    5. There's nothing racist about him. He's a walking stereotype, sure, but so is every other character in this game. I don't see any complaints about doctors being drunks or sheriffs being 2 feet tall. If people would have stopped clutching their pearls for a second they'd realize its making fun of how old westerns just did not care about the Chinese.

    6. Agree with you, this is not racism, you are over sensitive

    7. At the risk of diving into sensitive subjects, it *is* racism. Whether or not it's meant to be offensive racism, or even deliberate racism, is another topic. Also whether or not Hopalong is the only racist caricature here is another topic too. But the fact remains that the only Chinese guy in the game is dressed in clothes that would make no sense for the setting. For example, Freddy may have (let's assume) English ancestry, but they don't dress him up with a monocle and bowler hat, having him natter on about teatime. They don't put the Irish guy all in green and give him a shamrock. (Dominick is a borderline case: it makes sense for a Native American to be dressed like that in the setting; it depends on what they do with the character later on.) If Chinese people actually wore those clothes and facial hair and had inexplicable Indian names in the Old West then it would just be a part of the setting. But stereotypes like these have hindered actual Asians in the real world because people make assumptions about them based on their race, and perpetuating those stereotypes, even in a comedy setting, continues to do so.

      I'm not trying to point any fingers and declare anyone evil, or clutching my pearls at the audacity of this 30-year-old game to not share current sensibilities. I think Alex did a good job in this post of addressing the issue as much as was needed. But let's call a spade a spade. It may not have been malicious, it may not be unique, and it may even be "justifiable" given its context, but it is racist. It would be irresponsible to ignore that.

      I know this is a hot-button topic and I don't wish to start any heated arguments, so I probably won't say much more on this.

    8. At least the game is self-aware: if you continue talking to the chef, he reveals that Mom asked him to behave like an "authentic" Chinese chef despite nobody, according to him, actually being like that in real life.

    9. @Laukku That actually makes me feel better about the gag. It's far better for a story to have a racist character (like Mom here) than it is to just have racist elements presented straight.

    10. Freddy Pharkas isn't half as clever or brave as Blazing Saddles, which to be fair had a lot of stupid humor in it, but Pharkas seems to only aspire to the level of Blazing Saddles fart jokes and caricatures. And maybe that's for the better; Mel Brooks had something to say about senseless racism, and if Al Lowe didn't, then it's better that he didn't try, but it still makes comparisons to Blazing Saddles ring a little bit false.

      That said, I can't see Hop Singh as offensive. The joke isn't "haw haw Asian immigrants are different!" but "haw haw old Westerns sure were insensitive!" This sort of joke does run the risk of just perpetuating the harmful stereotypes that they're trying to take the piss out of, but Hop Singh's design goes for maximum audacity to try to avoid this, and I'm certain the nonsensical mix of far-east tropes is on purpose exactly for this reason. This isn't the only (or most prominent) time FPFP does this kind of thing either. Mel Brooks did something similar as a Yiddish-speaking Indian chief, though his use of a racial slur here is a bit of a WTF moment given that he's supposed to be a good guy.

    11. @MisterKerr: I didn't write about the "white savior" issue in Quest for Glory III because it just wasn't there. Neither the Simbani nor the Leopardmen are portrayed as dumb or anything. They are very capable, and very respectfully depicted. The Simbani appealed to their friend Rakeesh in the hopes he could persuade his brother, the King of Tarna, so the Liontaurs could aid them. Rakeesh, being injured and feeling incapable of doing the legwork--no pun intended--due to his demonically-injured leg that never healed--asks the Hero for his help. So in QfG III, the hero is basically Rakeesh's agent. I didn't see it as "White man saves the day for dumb dark-skinned savages" at all.

      But in any event, I appreciate the thoughtful discussion.

  2. I can actually buy that it isn't a professional singer that's singing the theme song, since it comes off as someone singing outside his range a good chunk of the time.
    Ah, the barrel joke.
    I think the bartender's VA was in Spy Fox.
    In the speech version the barber changes between having an Italian and an Irish accent. Sometimes in the same dialog box.
    Whoever put down these area transition hotspots should be sent to Lago.

    1. I like the idea that the barber's accent changes. That's pretty funny.

  3. >In clicking things on other things in my inventory,
    >Freddy uses the icepick to poke a bunch of holes
    >in the empty can—which gives me points—and then
    >throws the icepick away, so I guess that was
    >something I was supposed to do.

    And so appears already one design goof, a backwards puzzle. Not promising.

    >The game informs me that the game is half-over
    >after I unlock the front door

    Seeing as that action nets you 500 points (of a total of 999), I'll have to give the game that one.

    1. Being halfway through the game after doing one thing (and logically the very first thing you're supposed to do) is one of my all-time favorite gags.

    2. Laukuu and Mr. Sack: You both make good points.

      I'm not a fan of backwards puzzle design . . . though so far this game has generally been well-designed.

  4. In lighter news, I have completed the fourth case in Moonmist! Now to write the review and onwards to "Hollywood Hijinx".

  5. Nice map, but those lines, oh my!
    As Laukku said, the chinese guy telling Freddy that Mon told him to behave like a stereotype speaks more more of a racist character than a racist game. If anybody saw that great HBO show Deadwood, the chinese stereotype is there as well, but at some point you saw that there was more on that character that what you thought at first impression

    1. You got a problem with my lines? What are you, the Line Police?

  6. The racist/ethnic stereotypes I think are pretty much satire and subverted, but you're right to put some "whoa, pardner" words around them.

    Next door to Mom’s is the Golden Balls Saloon, an eating and drinking—well, drinking establishment run by one Sam Andreas.

    Must be his fault.

    Aha. Ahaha. Aha?

    (Coarsegold is, like, 150 miles east of the San Andreas Fault, by the way.)

    But it was only 190 proof!

    Having personally repeatedly drunk 190 proof ethanol, I can vouch that it is quite survivable, if not terribly healthy or fun (for certain values of "fun").

    a rather sad guy named P. H. Balance.

    Eh, I'm pretty neutral on this name.

    1. @Lisa H.: Agreed! VERY strong pun game. I'm always up for horrible puns. And yes, this fondness for puns started BEFORE I became a father.

    2. Seeing as I will never be a father, I don't think it's really a prerequisite.

    3. @Lisa H.: Oh, I was just making a "dad joke" reference.

    4. Yes, I know. Tongue was firmly in cheek.

  7. "a customer named Eb Sorbeen, Jr."

    This is a play on Absorbine, Jr. -- a 1970s and early-1980s remedy for muscle (especially back) pain. It was widely advertised on television. My Father used the stuff It smelled quite foul.

    1. And here I was trying to anagram it! I suppose all the other joke names are soundalikes, so why would this one be an anagram. (Although it can be anagrammed to "been sober", if you wanna know.)

    2. @Jonathan: Thank you for explaining that reference! I love stuff like this.