Where have I been? Podcasting! Check out my guest appearance on The Nerd Lunch Podcast, right here:

More importantly, I'm also one of the regular panelists on Your Weird - a podcast celebrating what makes us unique. Please check it out!

I can also be followed on Twitter @sommerjam - which you should totally do right now!

Easter Comes To CVS!

Do I even need to introduce these posts, anymore? Like some superstar, being announced at an awards show, can I just say they "need no introduction"? In questioning the introduction, I have sneakily completed an introduction to this post. NOW SOME COMMENTARY ABOUT EASTER THINGS AVAILABLE AT CVS!

Like a Battle Cat action figure of old, these bunnies are "flocked". Flocking bunnies. You might want to rub their weirdly-not-fuzzy-fuzziness on your cheek, for the sheer sensation of it, but know that every runny-nosed child has already done so. This occurred to me too late. Too late.

What my picture doesn't convey is that they were very heavy. Like paperweight heavy. Which is what might keep them from being immediately thrown out, post-Easter: The fact that they can perform an actual job. (Even if they are competing for that job with literally every other semi-heavy object you already own, or can find in your yard.) But, also, who in 2015 is experiencing errant gusts of wind that'll blow away their manuscript? The digital age has eliminated yet another comedic trope.

Now these bunnies were not soft at all, I leaned as I rubbed my cheek against these. (I might have a cheek-rubbing problem.) The best way to describe them is that they are made of bristle block technology. However, the packaging prevented me from seeing if they would interlock, by pressing one against the other... so I rubbed my cheek against them, again, for good measure.

I have no idea what these things are supposed to be. A centerpiece? Something for your door? There was no indication on the packaging, so it's clear the manufacturers thought this thing's purpose was obvious. Yet it's not. Which is how a lot of us feel, as we go through life, right. So I guess it makes you think.

Also, their cheeks kinda look like butts.

"Bunny from Ork" was how I described this guy, on Instagram. (Follow me, I'm @Sommerjam!) Now, I only posted this on Instagram, because I didn't know if I was going to get around to writing this post. Ugh. That's too much back-story and revelation about insecurity / lack of time. You guys don't care! No one wants to know how the sausage is made, you just want to slice it and put it on a pizza, along with several other types of meat, and call it a "meat lovers".

I'll admit, I felt a gut-level sympathy for this bunny. There's something inherently sad-looking about it. I now understand animal rights a bit more. Correct destination, took the wrong road to get there.

Taxi Cab Confession: I love black jelly beans. However, I just read, somewhere, that they contain a chemical that causes an irregular heartbeat and other medical problems. Some little kid was hospitalized from eating them! Naturally, I got this shocking info from reading just the headline of the story... upon closer scrutiny, the kid in question was eating a handful of them, every day, for five years, or something. So there's a lesson, here: Stop eating handfuls of (the best) jelly beans... somewhere around the 54-month mark. I am not a licensed physician.

You can just imagine it saying "I WUV OO DIS MUCH!", right? (Then it poops out another Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cup into the tube it's sitting on. Uh, where did you think peanut butter cups came from?)

Your child will be delighted to wake up and find a rat gnawing on her new food-scented stuffed animal! Seriously, how can you make a toy smell like food and not have it attract vermin? It really did smell like chocolate, too. Dirty chocolate. Like the kind you find on your pants, the day after Easter.

I have nothing to say about these. They are perfect in every way. Five stars.

Peeps has really diversified, this year. Peeps-branded merch was all over the damn place and so little of it made any sense. Why fuzzy pink ears, lined with Peeps fabric? And if you just objectively look at the shape of them, they don't even look like rabbit ears... they're just ears! "Approve it all!" shouts the Peeps marketer, "We need MINDSHARE!"

Somewhere out there, a grade school kid's CCD (religion class) essay about "What Easter Means To Me" is a page and a half of double-spaced ramblings about this thing.

Marvel and their Avengers were approaching Peeps-like levels of saturation of the Easter aisle. You know how everyone's worried that, one day, there's only going to be one giant company called GoogleZon? What we should be worried about is that Disney and their properties are taking over CVS aisles, during the holidays. "Those willing to give up CVS aisles for Disney-brand items deserve neither!" Jefferson said that. (George Jefferson, in my fanfic titled "The Jeffersons Meet The Easter Bunny... In Space" - which was also the working title of Age of Ultron.)

Anyway, I guess these are plastic eggs, wrapped in plastic Avengers wrappers, full of Avengers stickers. These are way better than real eggs, because these eggs will never biodegrade and will be around for your children's children's children to find in the blow-hole of the last dead humpbacked whale. Also: No cholesterol.

As hollow as the sentiment of whatever relative bought you WHITE CHOCOLATE for Easter. Ugh.

Bounce them and an internal strobe goes off. Squeeze them and their "skin" gets super thin and bubbles out. Nothing about these is anatomically accurate to real rabbits. The one on the far right has boobs.

Ok, now go buy some of this stuff at CVS! (I am not paid to say that; however, I'd be a fool to turn down sweet, sweet CVS money, if it was offered. Heck, they could pay me in black jelly beans, really... until my heart gives out after five years.)

I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam
ALSO! I have a new podcast! It's called Your Weird and it celebrates people's weird quirks. It's funny. SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Valentine's Comes To Rite Aid!

Holy Cupid, Valentine's Day is tomorrow?! I've never felt more rushed to present a series of photos I took at my local Rite Aid, as I do right now!

Love means different things to different people. To some, it is a comforting emotion felt towards another person. To others, it's a ticket to "50 Shades of Gray". And to both of those groups, it usually also means picking up whatever garbage we find at the closest big-chain pharmacy. 

So here's a list of all that stuff that corporate America thinks your loved one wants to receive for Valentine's Day, that I found in Rite Aid:

Some things never change. It's comforting to know that these boxes of 32 paper Valentine's Day cards, meant to give a kid enough to give one to his entire class, are still around. And they still come with a special, larger "Teacher's Card". Outside of Mrs. Valentino (no foolin', that was her name), I never liked any of my grade-school teachers enough to give them a Valentine, let alone a special extra-large one. I wonder if I caved and gave it to my teacher's anyway? That sounds like the "must-please-everyone" type of kid I was.

Sounds more like a threat. Especially since it's not a finished sentence. "Wish I'd WHAT?!"

If you've ever really paid attention to the end of "It's A Christmas, Charlie Brown!", then the set on the left should come as no surprise. However, I was SHOCKED that puppies were so religious. "I'm glad god made us friends" is an exceptionally awkward message, especially when, in a few years, that "friend" steals your boyfriend. Confronting Stephanie about it, she whips out this card, given years ago, and you have to relent because this was all part of god's plan. Be VERY careful who you give these to.

This is the back of the god cards. I show it to point out that these boxes come with TWO teacher cards. One for your regular, secular teacher and one for your CCD class nun? Or is one of the larger ones already pre-filled-out to Jesus?

This picture is confusing, because it looks a lot like the previous picture, but this one has a different box in the middle. (It's the worst "spot the differences" game of all time.) My original plan was to blur out the boxes on the side, to highlight the one in the middle, but when I realized time was running out to get this up in time for V-Day, I quickly imported them all into Blogger, without doing that. Excuses make for interesting blog posts, right?

ANYWAY! Just keep staring at the paper valentine "dog tags".
"You know what kids love? Dog Tags! You know what else? Spooky things!"
"What holidays are coming up?"
"Valentine's Day."
"Hmmm... That's not perfect, but this is too good to wait on! What if a competitor thinks it up, before we're ready to go with this for Halloween?!"

The only other thing I will say is "Fang Time".

OK, the only other one last thing I'll say is: It only includes 16! For some of us, that would have been more than enough to cover our short list of friends. But for others, that wouldn't be enough to cover an entire class. Your child's first experience with "in" and "out" crowds will start with these paper V-Day dog tags. Never saw that coming, did you?

Shown to contrast the super-cook dog tags are these boring book marks. Think hard enough about it and ANY of these paper cards can be book marks, but you spent the extra money buying ones that were expressly for this purpose, so that everyone will know your kid reads a lot. Classrooms bullies LOVE the kid who's always reading.

I like the idea of Valentine's Day pencils, if only because I was the kid who never had a sharpened #2 when it was called for. What a day it would have been when teach was like, "OK, class, it's now time to take our Valentine's Day Exam!" And I'd be like, "SCORE!" And the teach would be like, "How many times do I have to tell you, Jeff, that you'll never amount to anything?!" (True story!) Yeah, had I had a sharpened #2, school would've been so much better. (Of course, there's no indication on these about what lead they use, so they might not have worked on the SCANTRON forms, anyway. Grade school is hard.)

These bears are gross. Misshapen and covered in tiny craters. Craters caused by a rare bear pox, which is why they are quarantined in this globe. The glitter is medicinal. Remember to get your bears vaccinated, people!

I won't have long paragraphs under every photo in this series, so don't worry.

I know what I'm going to be finding a LOT of, at yard sales, this summer!

Can you see me? Because I can see you! (PUT PANTS ON, GARY! GROSS!)

Frogs. Because: Valentine's Day.

That is one giant bear. costs about $70, too, if memory serves. Seeing giant animals like this only makes me imagine them out by the trash, in the rain, after all love has faded. The upside, I suppose, is that discarded giant stuffed animals function in the same way artificial reefs do: To give native wildlife a place of shelter. So many 5-foot stuffed bears are now how to thriving roach / rat populations.

When did monkey's become a Valentine's Day animal? I remember that being the case in the 80s, so this is nothing new. I dunno, it just always boggled my mind. I totally get the boa, though.

Of all the items in Rite Aid, this is the one that screams "Got this on the way home! I love you!" the most. A crumby 4" teddy bear (did you see the 5-foot one, which was just down the aisle?!) and what looks like 4-7 Sweet Hearts. I do love those sweet hearts, though. Half credit.

What's Valentine's Day without a little candy! Here are my favorite Nirvana-inspired heart-shaped boxes:



This one feels like portabella mushroom gills. My lovely wife questioned if it came with an actual key. One was not in evidence, and my curiosity over Valentine's Day candy only went so far. I walked on by, leaving the mystery unsolved.

You can't tell, but these are gigantic.

Go to hell, marketing team at Whitman's. Go. To. Hell.

It's fun to imagine that Whitman's has offered this box for over 50 years. "You're the rotary dial on my heart!"


Redneck Chic, or is this somehow zombie-related? See, that's the best thing about modern art: So many ways to interpret it! A+

Well, I've run out of time on my lunch break and I won't have time to complete this, before V-Day is here. I'll leave the rest of the photos, below, in the post, so you can imagine what I might have said about them. Aw, man, it would've been SO FUNNY! Disappointing.

hey, maybe my grade school teacher was right?!

Note the phrase "milkY and chocolatY", because neither of those ingredients are in this. We all know exactly what these taste like: A melted brown crayon.

I really enjoy our time together. Will you be my Valentine?

I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam DO IT!

The Six Worst Bath & Body Works Scented Hand Soaps

Working in the deal hunting game, as I do, I know a terrible deal when I see one. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop me from being suckered in. And that's why I found myself buying six different kinds of Bath & Body Works scented soaps.

It's weird. Neither I nor my wife like scented soaps very much. We're what you call "sensitive" and "allergic" and "annoyed by certain smells". Yet, again, we ordered six. Scented. Soaps. My thought was "Ooh, this'll be a festive way to celebrate the holidays!" Because smelling pumpkin spice, right after you poop is "festive". Sorry if that was gross.

The method to my madness was that I could buy a progression of scents. A "playlist", as it were of smelly soap that would tell a story. The story of the holidays, from October through the new year. Admittedly, it's not a GOOD story. In fact, it STINKS! BOOM! (I'll assumed you highfived the screen? Good.)

So now, after much ado, but with no further ado, here's what I bought, because there was ostensibly a "sale" on them and I wanted my hands to smell like food, so I could have an excuse to lick them and not seem weird.

This one was not bad! Bought to coincide with Pumpkin Spice Season (late August through October), it does not call to mind a Starbucks latte. But, if it did, you'd probably have seen news stories about kids drinking the stuff. According to the bottle, it is a combination of Warm Pumpkin, Fresh Cinnamon Sticks, and Sweet Sugarcane. I smell none of that, so I would make a terrible Smell Scientist. I guess I haven't made terrible career choices, after all!

When October started to wind down, I decided to switch over to Golden Autumn Citrus because it sounded the most obviously "Autumn-y". Now, because I think hands are supposed to smell cleaner after washing, I only used this one once. A blend of Sparking Citrus, Verbena Leaves, and Juicy Nectarine, it smells like lemon-scented cleaning products and dead leaves. Well, I guess technically it IS a "cleaning product", but you know what I mean. Surely none of the others will be worse than this one...

HOW WRONG I WAS! Ever visit that place where they make cider? Probably called a "cider house"? Me neither, but I imagine that the detritus and refuse from the cider-making process - heaps of apple peels, sitting around, clogging every corner and crannie - starts to ferment and really stink. It's like any industrial process, I guess ... YES, you get to have an iPhone, but you've just caused three pounds of mercury to be dumped in China's water supply. But I digress. What I mean is: This soap smells like discarded apple peels, mixed with bleach, so that the rats don't come around.

But, thankfully, I was through the worst of them. On to more wonderful-smelling soaps!

HOW WRONG I WAS! After quickly re-sealing the Autumn Citrus, I popped open this one only to pop it closed and pop it back into the closet where it'll stay for god knows how long. I paid good money for these, I'm not going to just pour them down the drain. Can I donate them? That seems cruel. "Here, under-soaped poor person, I HATE these, they smell foul, but surely your standards are lower than mine!" Everything about that sentence makes me sound like a terrible person, I know. Every day is a struggle to be a better person. Never forget that. And if somone holds a door open for you, always say "thank you".

For the record, this one is a blend of Tart Cranberry, Mulberry Citrus, and Crisp Orchard Air. I never really enjoy fake "air" scents. Maybe because I'm smelling real air all day, so I don't really need the fake stuff.

HOW WRONG I WAS! This one is heralded as "Frosted Cranberries Sprinkled With Iced Peach" - yes, it really says that. Can you sprinkle one liquid onto another? I feel they don't understand physics and that makes me even madder at this scent that, quite frankly, I cannot describe because I've been sitting here writing this post for about 30 minutes and huffing scent after scent trying to get a "bead" on how to describe each of them in interesting ways (and failing) and I have definitely overloaded my scent muscles and I'll never smell anything ever again. I think I'll miss the smell of pizza the most.

SIDE NOTE: For those of you who don't know what "foaming" hand soap is, it does this, when you pump the bottle:

Ick. I will never be a hand model.

Here's something else I've learned and I want to pass it on to you, so you can then pass it on to future generations, since I am not having kids any time soon: You can't trust the smell directly from the bottle. Unscrewing the cap and taking a big ole snort doesn't convey the true terror that awaits once the thing is aerated and rubbed onto your hands. In fact, the Winter Cranberry smells perfectly delightful, straight form the bottle, but like a nasal nightmare, when used correctly. Since that's the case, maybe I should just crack the bottles open and leave them around the house to "emanate". Nope. I just know I will abruptly knock every one of them over and ruin our floors, couch, bed, and - somehow - our ceiling. And we rent.

Having already had a bad run-in with one "frosted" scent (Winter Cranberry), I was hesitant. But this one is actually delightful! After the failure of all of the other scents, this is the one I am still using. My beautiful wife doesn't like it, though, so she has her own soap. Yes, our bathroom has more than one hand soap on offer. We're like the Rockefellers, up in this 1-bedroom apartment! After using our toilet, it's like a fancy hotel in there. Options! (For the record, my wife uses Sweet Clementine. It is a perfectly acceptable all-year-round scent that occasionally dabble in, myself. I'm not ashamed.)

A warm scents that is "Creamy Pumpkin Wrapped In Spiced Vanilla", it smells like a pumpkin cookie. Chewing my nails used to be a nervous habit, now it's a delicious nervous habit. Outside of taking umbrage to their use of "wrapped" in the description, the only other down-side to this soap is that I continually think "Pumpkin Frost/Nixon" every time I wash my hands. Then I giggle. Because I think I'm clever.

And there they are: A huge waste of money. Anyone want them?

Let's try this: In the comments, tell me what YOUR favorite hand soap "flavor" is! Let's "start a conversation"! Audience engagement!

I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam. DO IT NOW!