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.

Super Hero Pizzas!

Let's take a break from all the awesome Halloween stuff that I've been covering and travel WAY BACK to ... September 13, 2014, where we will delve into pizza.

See, on a recent trip to Michigan, my beautiful wife and I went to Walmart. Why? Because we were in town for a wedding.

To many of you, Walmart is a commonplace thing that you take for granted. Many of you "own cars" or "don't live in the greatest city in the world (New York City)", and thus have easy access to that paragon of weird people. (Be real, ok? Everyone in there is weird. Including you.)

The problem is that our trip took place RIGHT as stores were ramping up for Halloween. (Thanks for planning your wedding so close to Halloween, cousin!) And once I started covering Halloween stuff, when was I going to find time to show off the Marvel-themed pizzas that I found in the semi-frozen foods section?

Now. The answer is RIGHT NOW!

Trying REAL hard not to just go with "HULK SMASH PIZZA" as a caption and calling it a day, but the grim reality of this post, that I only see, now, after having already written so many words for it - and importing the images - is that there is not much to say about each box. Each is a box. With a Marvel character on it. Inside is a pizza. The toppings don't really reflect the character, to my knowledge.

There, I've stretched that out, for having nothing to say! JEFF SMASH KEYBOARD!

Take a moment to think about which super hero you'd be most likely to describe as "ultimate meat".
The correct answer is "Chris Pratt". (Am I RIGHT, ladies?!)

If I were more of a "vlogger", I'd have bought this one, so I could film a v-blog post titled "WHAT IF... Captain America's shield were a PIZZA?!" Would it get mad views on YouTube? Only Uatu knows that answer, but wasting food is a sin (unless the video is REALLY funny).

<sings>When Captain America throws his mighty pizza / All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield ... izza!

This is, really, the only pizza tie-in that made sense at the time, since Guardians of the Galaxy was BLOWING UP at the theaters. (Cast your mind back to the time when we were all non-ironically listening to "Escape (The Pina Collada Song"! What a time!) That's Groot and Rocket on there, and I'd wager that Marketside Foods Inc is REALLY hoping you don't associate bark and raccoon hair with the pizza you're about to purchase and eat! Maybe that's why they were selected as the mascots for the plain cheese: So that you wouldn't think any topping bits were droppings.

Again, to many of you, there is nothing wondrous about seeing these pizza boxes, as you see them every god damn time you go to Walmart because your god damn kids won't stop whining that they want to god damn eat frozen pizza for dinner. This post is not for you. This post is for me - and those like me - whose bank accounts refuse to grow large enough to buy a car ... or who don't live in the greatest city in the world, New York City.

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

Halloween Comes To Dollar Tree!

Driving down some road in Michigan, I saw a sign for Dollar Tree. Off-handedly, I said, "I'll bet they have some good Halloween stuff." I felt the car swerve as my wife, who was driving at the time, jerked the wheel, pulling us into the parking lot entrance that we were just about to pass. This is why I love her and will be with her forever. So that's the advice I'd give young lovers: Will this person swerve dangerously to get you to a Halloween store? Ask yourself that question, before buying a ring.

 I didn't know how serious this trip was going to be until I saw the posters in the window. Not only is that mummy super-boss, rockin' the old-school "hands-out, wrists-limp" pose that went out of favor when zombies appropriated it, but then there was the OTHER poster:

 Holy. Crap. I found the Halloween Headquarters, guys! This is where all of Halloween's biggest decisions are made. Are vampires cool again, this year? Should ninjas be more of "a thing" in 2014? The fat-cats who covertly run Big Halloween do it all from here! I'm surprised they let us in without a pat-down.

 So cute it almost made me break my "never eat anything from a dollar store" rule. But rules are not meant to be broken. That's why they are rules. (And that's why, in my world, Santa drives a sliegh with ieght tiny riendeer.) So, I'll never know what that cotton kitty tastes like. Probably asbestos.

 The way they hung this guy up is just humiliating. You live your life. You die. And the level of respect that you are afforded is being hung up by your eye socket? No, sir. I hope I get more than that, after I pass on, next week, under mysterious circumstances. (Though, I have requested to be cremated, so ... just you TRY hanging my dead body on a peg hook! I WIN!)

 Albino Bat. Or was he white chocolate? Pretty sure he doesn't glow in the dark, which is a BIG mis-step. I'm also pretty sure he didn't taste like white chocolate. Again: Never put anything from a dollar store in your mouth. (This goes double for things that seem like food.) ((And triple for things that are food.))

 Paper decorations will forever mean Halloween to me. Growing up, we had paper cut-outs for every holiday and season, and I used to LOVE taping them up all over the house and on the windows. Even better were those paper ones that had the crepe paper accordion stuff attached. The stuff that let you, say, open up the bat and it'd have a fat little paper belly. Or open up the bit that turns into a stand and, viola, a turkey centerpiece for Thanksgiving! This paper chandelier is somewhere in between. a 2D decoration with 3D dreams. Don't stop believin'!

 When did purple become the official third color of Halloween? I'm not knocking it, I like it!. I just don't remember purple being in the color wheel of the holiday, when I was a kid. Well, if it's a new trend, then these spider web baskets are ON POINT. Who has this year's Halloween Look Book?

 Ah, see, now now now!!! In there is a green Spider Pop-Up and I guess I always thought green was the "alternate color" of Halloween. What with it being the color of witches, ooze, puss, and really old Halloween candy. Oh, and these things have a suction-cup-and-spring combination that lets you push 'em down, then they pop up, when you least expect it (often that means immediately, while your face is still over them and they "pop" into your eye. But then you get to wear an eye patch, like a pirate, so your Halloween costume choice is an easy one, that year.)

 I originally took this photo to show off the Skeleton Noisemakers. (Shake them and they beat themselves on the head, making a plastic-y clacking noise), but I'm more interested in the bracelets, off to the left. I totally didn't notice them, at the time. In my dreams, these are holistic bracelets that give you additional energy to celebrate Halloween; like Powerbands, but something that actually works.

 A glove that glows in the dark, because it has that glowstick stuff in there. Look close: The package only includes ONE glove. Rip off. That's like reading that a can of Coke is 2.5 servings. It's bullshit. Sorry for swearing, I get passionate about stupid things.

 Now, I've talked about the best Leaf Bag Bag I've ever seen, but I need to point out a few things on this one, anyway. 1) Both the spider bag and the little girl are Photoshoped onto that leafy background. Why? 2) Why did they choose to even Photoshop the little girl-of-unknown-hat-type onto this bag at all? For "scale"? 3) In French, these bags roughly translate to "SACKS FOR DEAD LEAVES"! Not sure why they had to specify "dead" ... were French people going around pulling leaves off of trees to fill their spider bags? It's all weird and disturbing.

 Skull & Partial Spine Bobble Head. I'd mount this in my car, like a hula girl in a convertable, so it could bobble along as I tool down the highway, following the speed limit precisely and being passed by everyone else, as I get more and more mad at them. "Guess rules are just for I-before-E!" I'll shout, to no one who cares. But perhaps having a bobble-skull would so enchant me that I'd crash, because I wasn't watching the road. Then MY skull would bobble on MY spine.

 I included this gum ball display NOT so I could bring up my disgust at eating anything from a dollar store (for a THIRD time!), but to point out the box! It's everything that's right about Halloween packaging, yet who ever pays attention to the display boxes that candy comes in?! I should (and will) do a future post on Halloween candy display boxes.

But, back to the box at hand: On the left you have scary ghost, on the right you have sassy ghost, then you have "bubble babies" under that! Each a grim rictus grin on their too-round heads. Also: "bubble babies" sounds like a term that doctors USED to use for some childhood condition, but then the world deemed it un-P.C. Oh, and don't for get the lightning trees, in the center. Those are boss, too.

And now we see one of the only two things we wound up buying: An assorted bag of plastic things. I'll probably go into detail on it, in a future post (posts makin' posts!), so i won't even tell you why I bought it. You'll never guess. But it's certainly NOT for the plastic cockroaches ... jibbleyshiver. Gross. You know, no matter how fake fake roaches are, they can still, at a glance, be mistaken for the real thing, if you leave them lying around - especially when you've lived in an apartment where you've seen real roaches, of similar sizes. (I live in New York City, it happens #ComplainBrag)

I will re-use that paragraph in my write-up of that bag of creatures, by the way, so get used to it.

So we end it here, with me promising two follow-up posts to this one, very lackluster post. Do you take the gamble that the future posts will really make up for it, or do you cut your losses, now, and never return? Meh, I'll still incessantly tweet at you about it on Twitter, so you can run, but you can't hide.

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

Halloween Leaf Bags!

Dollar stores are great places to look for weird Halloween stuff. It's all generic and probably full of lead ... but in a fun way. I never wind up buying anything, but it's fun to look. UNTIL NOW!

I found something amazing and amazingly useless: Leaf bags, in the shape of pumpkins!

There is no reason for me or my beautiful wife to buy leaf bags. We don't own a tree. We might never own a tree, if we keep renting ... but that's a discussion for another time. I'm just pretty sure that it will at least a few years before we have a need for leaf bags.

But holy cats, look at the design of this bag!

I will ignore the fact that they started the name with a numeral "2" and not the word "two", because the rest of the bag makes up for that one faux pas. Firstly, the font is perfect. It's the font that ALL of us "nostalgia bloggers" hunt down during our first year covering the Halloween beat. (The one I have is called "MATTER OF FACT", for some reason, which makes it hard to track down in my font list the first time I need to use it, each year. Why isn't it called "Spooky Town" or something?!)

As if you didn't know this is a product for Halloween. The manufacturer wants to make that clear. This is also helpful in separating this product from all those Easter leaf bags.

Or a moon-shaped tambourine.
Or he's using the moon AS a tambourine.
Or he's saving the moon from that giant space-spider web?

Whatever's happening, none of it's good. It's the end of days. Curl up inside your leaf bags and pray that saves you from Tambourine-Moon Ghost's wrath.

Better still, this bag has Complaining Trees! Man, these guys REALLY hate each other and bicker all the time. The sad circumstances of their rooted-to-the-ground tree lives means they are stuck in a terrible situation. Forever.

If you think of the branches as arms, it looks like this on'e all "AH SHADDUP, YA CRAZY OLD KOOT!"

And this one is like, "BAH!" (Because he's not good with witty rejoinders.)

Why can't they just put aside their differences and realize how similar they are?
(This is an allegory. Try, each day, to be less like these Complaining Trees.)

If this were food, this is the image that would have the "serving suggestion" disclaimer on it, because the manufacturer wouldn't want you to have the mistaken impression that all of this other cool stuff is also crammed in this thin plastic bag. Bags and boxes always lie, but "serving suggestion" disclaimers make it legal for them to do so.

The disclaimer that is needed, however, is one that says, "No matter how many leaves you put into each bag, they will never look as round as this". Leaves just don't lend themselves to "round". At best, your full bags will be lumpy and misshapen ... and then blow away with the first stiff October breeze.

Worse? Most homeowners won't even be able to throw these leaf bags out, at the end of the season, what with municipal laws stipulating that trash men can only pick up leaves that are in those special brown, recyclable bags. A new Halloween tradition that many kids will grow to hate will be the annual "un-bagging of the wet, rotting leaves from the pumpkin bags and re-loading them into the city-approved ones".
"Watch out for mice and slugs, kids!"

Look, I wrote all that other crap, above, because I wanted to be able to share this one image. Happy Witch-O-Lantern, standing on her own grave. The grave is inscribed "BOO!", because the government didn't want Witch-O-Lantern's grave to become a site of pilgrimage. If I was 10 years younger, this would have been my very next tattoo. Instead, I will just admire the image, like a grown-up. A sad, joy-less, no-fun grown-up.

ANYWAY! Can you believe all that art cost only a dollar? (Well, a dollar and eight cents, because the tax man is watching your Halloween purchases.) I want to frame it. I want to spend thirty times as much as it cost on that frame, in fact. A giant gilt job, with filigree and fluting. I hope I used those words correctly. This is art, people. Art put onto a plastic wrapper that the consumer was meant to rip open and throw away. Travesty!

I can't imagine many people buying this for the leaf bags inside, though.

Sad post-script: Don't bother visiting that website, it's a "Bad Request".
I didn't call them, because I wouldn't know what to say? Plus: Never meet your heroes, right?
I didn't fax them, either, because it's god damn 2014 and who faxes anymore?!

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