Best Stuff On My Desk At The End Of 2015

Well, 2015 is over! And whenever a year dies, that means that blogs make lists of things. I, however, did not plan ahead for this, so, as I threatened on Twitter, here's the only last-minute "best of" list I could think of:
The 10 best things currently sitting on my desk today, January 31, 2015!

10 - ALMOST-EATEN OATMEAL
On first glance, you might be thinking, "Is that Quaker's cinnamon and spice?" On any other day you would be right! But on this, the final day of the year, it is McCann's Irish Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar. It's delicious. The only downside is that my local grocery store only carries the variety packs, which means I have to throw away 3 packets of gross, plain oatmeal out of every box I buy, just to get the flavor I like.

So far, this list is amazing, right?! And, check it: Quickly-cooling oatmeal (above) is only the TENTH best item on it! It gets SO much better...

9 - SHARPIE PEN
There are two types of people in this world: Those who have a favorite type of pen and those who are looked upon with disgust by those of us who are pen-particular. Seriously, what do you mean "I just use any pen at hand?!" Have you no shame?!

The Sharpie pen has been my go-to stylus for several years, now - ever since my office started buying them, and I realized I could save money on pens by just using what they had in the supply cabinet. Five stars! (This is not a starred list.)

 8 - EITHER THE BEAKER COFFEE MUG OR THE COFFEE IN IT
A present from a good friend of mine, many many years ago, I love this coffee mug so much. I use it every day. It's also one of those special mugs that you can drink coffee OR tea from. (Always pay extra for this feature.)

The coffee in it is pretty good, too. I get it from a place up the street that leaves their big bags of coffee beans out all day and night. I try not to think about the vermin that probably crawls all over it, after hours, or the unwashed hands that dip into it, when being scooped into bags by patrons entrusted with that task. Can't beat the price of $6.99 per pound, though!

 7 - VOICE CHANGER
One of this year's Xmas gifts to me, from my lovely wife (hey, does that make this one of those "Xmas Haul" lists?! This post is doing double-duty! That means I have to charge you double the fee, for reading it.) Anyway, this new acquisition has a setting that makes me sound just like Kylo Ren. I love intoning, "Where is the map?!" at my patient, but bewildered wife who has yet to see the movie. NO SPOILERS!

 6 - DARTH VADER CHECKBOOK COVER
In college, my buddy Chris received a pair of these checkbook covers... either from opening a new account or for buying a car. I don't remember. Anyway, this was in, oh, 1998? That's long before having Star Wars stuff was cool. He offered his spare to me and I've been using it ever since. Has it really been 17 years?

These days, I write about 13 checks a year (12 for rent and one for my tax-prep guy), so he doesn't get much use. "I find your lack of check-writing blah blah blah."

 5 - TEN-SIDED DIE
I really like having a d10 on my desk, that's why it makes the list. (I get to call it a "d10", like a cool kid, because I grew up playing D&D, like a cool kid. A Cool kid who had to walk blocks out of his way to avoid being made fun of by actual cool kids!)

This die is also the thing I am most likely to be fidgeting with, while recording appearances on Nerd Lunch, Classic Film Jerks, or my own YOUR Weird podcasts. PLUGS! (Listen for it's appearance in any one of those shows when I accidentally drop it and it makes that classic "die rolling sound" that only a rolling die can make!)

PLEASE note my use of the singular "die" throughout this description. Incorrect usage of "dice" for the singular is one of my pet peeves. So much so, that I once found myself shouting "DIE! DIE!" into a phone at a stranger. But I'll share that story some other time.

 4 - CYCLOPSES
Most X-Fans hate him, but I love this guy. He's an uptight stickler for rules... JUST LIKE ME! Pictured here in his classic 90's over-the-top, belts-and-pockets look (right) and 2010's mutant freedom fighter look (left), they will soon be joined by a Funko Pop version. Which, I swear, will be the only Funko Pop I buy. (Outside of the one I already bought for my wife for Xmas - it's Ice King, if you must know.)

PS - The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that the Scott Summers on the left has an unbent paper clip around his forearm. I am just as confused by this as you are.


 3 - BAKERY TWINE
I highly suggest that you all carefully cut the string off your next bakery cookie purchase and keep it handy. You'll find so many uses for it! Like... fancy string for new ornaments that you make out of Shrinky-Dinks. Or... leaving it on your desk in a jumble and forgetting about it, like I did. So many creative uses.

The only thing keeping me from throwing it out is that I just KNOW I'll need the very next day. (Because I'll receive a surprise shipment of ornaments that need hanging, STAT!)

 2 - NYCC TMNT EXCLUSIVE RAPHAEL MINIMATE
Taking pictures of things in plastic bags is the worst. It was so frustrating trying to get an image without glare that I almost took it out of its packaging. Good thing I decided to check eBay, first, because I can unload this, unopened, for about $20! That's a free $20 for me, simply for attending an event that I was going to go to anyway. Twenty sixteen is looking up, already!

1 - BB-8
Ho. Lee. Crap, guys! This little doofus was an Xmas present to myself this year and I am not disappointed. He looks great as a display piece, and that would be enough, but then you connect him to your phone and he starts speeding across your floor, bashing into things at such a speed that he's probably going to dislodge something, internally, and will be broken, soon. No regrets.

TRIVIA: The "BB" in BB-8 stands for "Big Ball". Repeat this to all of your friends (especially those who read Wookiepedia or whatever, because they'll totally try to "ACTUALLY..." you with the real facts and you can giggle at them like a obnoxious troll.)


So, there you go, it's a hastily-written year-end list, just to say that I wrote one! It's the blog equivalent of Roger Corman's Little Shop Of Horrors: quickly and cheaply done, regardless of the horrible results.

Happy New Year!

I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam 

Podcastin'

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
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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!"
"OK"
"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:


PUN!


PUNS!!


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!"


SNAP.


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!