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!

An Ode To Decorative Spider Webs

Yes, Halloween is very, very over, but there are so many posts I didn't get to post, because I ran out of time, so you're just going to have to imagine it's not November. (I find drinking helps me forget*. Try that!)

This post came from hubris.

One of my joys is walking around the neighborhood simultaneously admiring and judging people's decorations. Since a child, I would look at all of those trees and front-yard shrubs covered in clumpy, stringy fake spider webbing and rant, "They're not doing it right!" and "Ya gotta pull it! PULL it!" So, after 37 years of hands-off critique, I decided to show the world how it's done and go hands-on!

PS - I decided this, oh, about three days before Halloween, so all the regular spider webbing was sold out, leaving me with:

Though I usually like my decorations to be scientifically accurate, I was in a pinch, so this day-glow, fluorescing, ersatz spider-butt product would have to do.

But let's take a closer look at the bag!

Don't worry, guys, I didn't pay $2.99 for this. Being a Rite Aid Wellness Card Member has its perks!

You're really testing my "I like things scientifically accurate" stance, here, six-legged "spider"! Or maybe this is just "insect webbing", not "spider webbing"? Is there such a thing and would I find that more or less disgusting than spider webbing. I'll consider it and get back to you.

They do not qualify it being a Halloween party, so be sure to stock up for your cousin's QuinceaƱera. Also: Ever see this stuff after a Halloween outside, exposed to the elements. Even the most frugal of us are hard put to wad it all up, dead bugs and leaves and all, and put it somewhere in our house for another year. Nope. Best to join the Rite Aid Wellness Card Club and save on purchasing all new spider webs next year! Rite Aid: Where we do spider webs right!

If you're wondering how that math works out, to have 165 square feet, with one side being 13 feet, the other side would have to be 12.69" wide. That sounds weirdly accurate. Were they worried parents wouldn't buy it of it was 13 feet on each side, making the bag say "169"? NSFW webs.

 And now ... the BACK of the bag!

The Fun World division of Easter Unlimited, Inc. I can only imagine how the receptionist answers the phone, there. A droning, I-hate-my-job monotone of "Fun. World. How can I *sigh* direct your call?"
Still, made in the USA! We're still #1 in fake spider web innovations!

A quick Google search shows me that I am just a few minutes over six hours away, walking distance! Road trip!

No spoilers, but I'm going to test that black light claim, later in the post. (That right there is called a "teaser". It's meant to keep you reading ... wait, you just scrolled down to the bottom, didn't you. Ugh.)

I take issue with them calling that first illustration "weird web ideas", because they're showing us places where we normally see spiderwebs appear on unkempt houses: corners and nooks.

I like the smiling pumpkin very much, though. Hey buddy!

"Web curtains"?

Boy, I documented the hell out of this bag, for some reason, huh? After I'm dead, I hope the living remember me as being very thorough in my picture-taking and decoration documentation. Then I hope they cover my corpse in fake spider webs, to create an "ominous scene".

Really? The SAME web used by professionals? I find that hard to believe ... though, I guess if the props department has a tight budget and a Rite Aid Wellness Rewards Card...

But also: See, I was right! The more you separate them, the more realistic they look ... in other words, "You gotta PULL them!" It's looking good, for my hubris!

And now, here are the instructions that I followed, to the letter:

Here is step 1:

All other steps requires the use of my camera-holding hands AND those of my beautiful wife, so they won't be documented.

I dunno if it was just in my mind, or what, but this stuff sure gets in your throat. I was coughing and gagging by the end. All those filaments are probably in my lungs, making them look spooky. "He died of 'haunted lung'" says the doctor.

BUT, what you really want to know is: Do I know better than everyone else at how to use these fake webs?!

NOPE! They are frustratingly impossible to work with. I mean, look at that! What spider weaves a web like that?! Clumpy spiders? Well, I guess THAT puts to bed the old saying "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." Should re-word it to be, "No one can do anything right, ever; especially fake spiderwebs."

And, as promised, here's what it looks like under a black light:

It's not exactly a black light, though ... it's a small UV flashlight we bought to find where the cat pee stains (left by the former resident of our apartment's cats) were located, so we could eliminate the smell. Nothing about that story wasn't gross, but, ey, it's Halloween, right! (Or, almost a month after Halloween, I guess. The best scares are the ones you don't see coming!)

So, it does kinda fluoresce, but it really just looks more like a blue flashlight on it, than anything else.

All told, I think spider webbing is way more gross than insect webbing (if it exists).

*Please don't drink to forget. Drink to be AWESOME**!
**Responsibly awesome***
***Not awesome at all. Actually, forget* I said anything.

I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam.