Come Listen To A Rabbit Hole Of A Tale (TAIL?!)

Did I tell you?
I'm on this show, once a month, now:

It's a podcast in which I and a panel of funny people try to click our way from one Wikipedia page to another, stopping to chat about whatever topic we land on.

I had fun. I hope you do, too.

I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam.

CVS Halloween Junk Update - Part 1!

I told you there would be an update to my last CVS piece ...
THIS is that update!
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Guys, my local CVS does it right. They don't just sell Halloween stuff, they decorate in an extravagant manner that says to me "someone who works here cares". Alternately, it could say "someone who works here would rather spend a day decorating than actually working the register". To me, the ends justify the means.

More evidence that they care: Their widow-wide display includes items that you can't buy at CVS. This just reinforced the fact that Halloween is a labor of love, here. Some worker goes out and spends their own money at another store, to make sure the window display is on point! I certainly don't have that kind of chutzpah.

More evidence that they care: No one who works here has dared to suggest that over-covering the aisle signs with fake spider webs would "detract from the customer experience" by obscuring the signage. Who cares if some sick old lady never finds the minute clinic? Nope, it's all in service of the great god Halloween!

Some day, one of the workers is going to strip this mannequin and wear the clothes, themselves, to scare the b'jezuz out of entering customers. My only wish is that they "spring the trap" on the person who enters the store right BEFORE I do. That way, I get to enjoy the experience, but my pants stay dry.

No foolin', there are at least 56 varieties of these skeleton hang-y doll things. Every time I thought I'd seen them all, I'd round a corner and there was a new one. Best I could figure, there was a crew of "world builders" walking just ahead of me, creating my custom experience.

Above are two of my favorites. I like the devil version because A) who doesn't like a quaint stereotype devil costume? but also B) is this supposed to be the skeleton OF the devil?! Is that even possible?
I love the "moonshiner" because beards on skeletons are hilarious. The beard SHOULD have fallen off when the corpse's face rotted off... yet it didn't. Maybe the skeleton picked it up and reattached it ... or bought a fake beard?! Either way, it tells a story. I like my Halloween decorations to have hidden depths.

No one has ever picked anything up in the weird way that the hand model on these boxes is. That aside, it looks like people are finally getting on board with the "Teal Pumpkin" movement of offering non-food treats to kids. And by "on board" I mean "they smell money to be made so they'll market their thing slightly differently, this year". For Halloween, I'm going as a Conspiracy Nut.

I can't remember if I enjoyed getting "alternative treats" when I was a kid. On one hand, I think I'd have liked getting something that I could keep forever - and agonize over where the "perfect" place to put the stickers would be ... until I took so long to decide that I literally went off to college. On the other hand, Halloween was the one time of year my mom allowed me unfettered access to sugar, so I probably would have seen non-candy as a waste of an exhausting climb up the five stoop steps of the neighbor's house.

To my recollection, I never used anything other than the free trick-or-treat bags that a police officer would hand out at our school (you know, the ones that said "CARRY A FLASHLIGHT OR DIE!" on them, somewhere), so @#$% these pails.

These "pumpkin stands" say "I'm too good to put my Jack 'o Lantern on the stoop, like my low-rent neighbors!" Simply place your pumpkin on top of one of these decapitated bodies and create a delightful character for all to enjoy! Once the gourd starts rotting and creates a hard-to clean mess, deep down inside there, it'll be less delightful, sure, but think of the joy you brought to your classless neighbors!

Here's an actual Teal Pumpkin that you can buy to set out and attract all the little kids with food allergies. A great idea in theory ("Oh boy, this year I don't have to find teal paint and buy an extra pumpkin!"), I'm just worried that a lot of unaware people (eg, most people) will buy one simply because they look "interesting". Ignoring the little informative tag that's included, these dum-dums will display it, resulting in a lot of disappointed - and possibly anaphylactic shocked - kids.

I spend a lot of time worrying about "worst case scenarios". It's what's kept me alive this long, so I'm not ever going to stop, regardless of how many "interventions" people want to spring on me.

There's a lot more to show you, but I'm stopping here. I have a feeling that you're all at your limit of hearing about CVS Junk, for today.
But I'll do another update soon. Thanks for reading!

Please share and tweet about this, as I'm trying to fill this bucket I have that's labeled "love". It's always slightly emptier than I'd like it to be.

PS - I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam 
AND all through October, I'll be doing a series of 31 Halloween-themed stick figure drawings on Instagram @StickFigureHeros

OK OK OK... NOW you can go...

Halloween Comes To Rite-Aid Town - 2016 Edition!

I continue to document cheap, pharmacy-sold, holiday garbage in the hopes that this will lead to Internet fame and fortune. Or at least a modicum of attention from strangers.
* * *
Previously, I showed you the first Halloween items to arrive at CVS ... now it's Rite-Aid's turn.
* * *

As you'll see, Rite-Aid is a little more "dollar store" than they are "Grandin Road". (Would that sentence have been better if I'd said " 'Skid Row' than 'Grandin Road' "? ) I mean, just look at those peg boards! But I don't mean to shelf-shame Rite-Aid! There's a whole lot to love, here, if you can look past the ugg-o shelving units... and the fact that they keep bothering us to sign up for "Plenti", despite no clear value in doing so. But I digress.

Here's some Halloween ephemera, with hilarious comments:

As you'll see, much of Rite-Aid's Halloween decoration is sign-based. Why sell a spooky witch, when you can sell a sign that talks about something a spooky witch might have to do?

More signage! This one, I feel, is a bit misguided. At worst you're going to realize that your children already know the originating expression, when they find this sign just a bit too funny. At best, you don't have any children, so your family name dies with you.

Bonus: Draw your attention to the cheap makeup kit, off the side, there. How many of us bought those things, thinking we could recreate the sample looks on the package, only to wind up looking like Susan from the Sprockets Dating Game skit?! (Not me, I have always -- and will always -- hate wearing makeup... yet I'm OK with having a beard. Takes all kinds!)

More signs! Though, technically "stickers? "Clings"? I don't know if you can zoom in on the image of the 'frige cover, but if you could, you'd see that there are brains in a crisper drawer. Which makes a lot of sense, because nothing I put in the crisper drawer stays crisp. Guess I should take a page from this Halloween decoration and not keep my veggies in there, either, but, instead, murder people!

BTW: "Black Hat Convention" is already a thing. It's a meeting of security experts and oh my god it's really a meeting of witches isn't it?! I've just blown the lid off of something. Expect me to mysteriously disap

"Mayday mayday mayday. Uh this is uh Witch fifteen forty nine hit birds, we’ve lost thrust on both brooms we’re turning back towards LaGuardia. I’m not sure we can make any runway. Uh what’s over to our right anything in New Jersey maybe Teterboro?"

BONUS: Look very closely on the right of the witch sign and you'll see someone hanging themselves.

Pretty sure the one on the right did some acting in Labrynth. She's retired now; selling herself in Rite-Aid for $7.99. Hollywood is a meat grinder, people.

QUESTION TO PONDER: When we depict a ghost, is the sheet something the spirit is wearing, or is that "sheet" actually their skin? The answer could turn this adorable "raggedy ghost" with a second-hand sheet into a monster who repairs her own skin with swatches from an 80's interior decorator's sample book.

For brevity, I won't talk about the witch, but I am staunchly refusing to talk about the scarecrow people.

 I love these bulb-signs (more signs?!) I want all three. Even the ghost swallowing / regurgitating a light bulb is cool by me, as it evokes Uncle Fester. I did NOT buy them, because my lovely wife was not with me and I like her to "ok" all my Halloween purchases, as I have questionable taste and I know it. Being self aware is awesome, you guys.

Despite it having a tissue paper and balsa wood feeling of whatever-the-opposite-of-"sturdy" is, I would have bought the one on the left (checking with my wife be damned!) had it not been illuminated with one of those cheap LED lights that randomly cycles through a rainbow of colors. Seriously. When has that type of bulb EVER enhanced a decoration?! Maybe during pride parades. Ok, I take it back, I want a pride haunted house.

I don't really "get" what these bottles are supposed to be, and I don't like them. Are they a play on a "ship" in a bottle? More like @#$% in a bottle. Are they supposed to be mimicking / mocking those home decor magazines that tell you to spruce up your Halloween by putting things under a cloche, even though who the @#$% has a spare cloche just sitting around?! Cloche but no cigar.

"We're taking a BATH on these "red Solo cup" light strings. Can we repaint them for other holidays?"
--Guy who just got himself a promotion.
That's it! You're free to go about your business...

Actually, hang on! Would you please tweet about this post, or share it on Facebook, or just email it to all your friends with the subject line: "Number 9 will melt your heart!" ? It would mean so much to my, a person who just wants attention probably because of something my parents did/didn't do when I was a child.


PS - I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam 
AND all through October, I'll be doing a series of 31 Halloween-themed stick figure drawings on Instagram @StickFigureHeros

OK OK OK... NOW you can go...

Halloween Comes To CVS Town - KINDA! (2016 Edition)

A few days ago, my lovely wife and I walked past our local CVS. Outside was a giant CVS truck. My astute wife remarked, "I'll bet that's full of Halloween stuff!" WAS SHE RIGHT? OR IS THIS GOING TO BE THE SHORTEST BLOG POST EVER?!


To be sure, upon visiting the store yesterday, she was proven (mostly) right. Though there were Halloween items on the shelves, there was still plenty of Back-To-School stuff, too. So it's more of a transition time, not full-blown Halloween. An AMUSE-BOUCHE. (Editor's Note: I spelled amuse-bouche correctly, on y first attempt, so that's pretty cool, too!)

As CVS throws away more of their marble notebooks and fills in the vacated spaces with spooky do-dads, I'll do another one. Until then, enjoy this appeteaser:

At the time I took this photo, I found the juxtaposition of the creepy butler tray table and "Better Bites" sign super hilarious. Looking at it now, it's barely slightly amusing.

Plus, I am reminded that "portrait" pictures make a blog look weird. I have not blogged in a while. Forgive me.

 This thing doesn't light up, play music, or make spooky sounds. It does nothing but "exist". It reminds me of a few people I know. (Don't worry, I'm not talking about any of YOU.)

This one was supposed to light up - or something - because there was a "TRY ME" button hanging off it. Pushing the button yielded no results -- OR DID IT? If a creepy man delivers me a million bucks, I'll know that pushing that button actually caused someone I didn't know to be killed. There should've been a warning on the tag.

 Plastic animal skeletons suggest that either A) you have killed an animal and are displaying its bones or B) the animal died (possibly not by your hand), but its bones are still somehow walking around. OR, I guess, C) that you have been blessed (cursed) with X-ray eyes, and you will, from now on, only see animals as skeletons. Imagine THAT world!

 Some earlier Halloween fun-ster set up this tableau and my wife and I were delighted. Did the skeleton bird eat all the flesh from the demon skull? These are questions that so rarely get asked aloud.

Wow, so far, this blog piece has given you a LOT to ponder. I hope these questions help when you're meditating and doing your zen exercises.

 After seeing the above display, my wife and I decided to double down and put another bird into the mix. Now it looks like the demon skull has googley eyes. It could be argued that our interpretation is both better and worse than the original.

I hope the person who set up the initial tableau returns, sees our handiwork, smiles inwardly, then adds something new to it. In a perfect world, this back-and-forth would go on all season. In a realistic world, I'll have forgotten all about this challenge as soon as I hit "send" on this post.

As much as I desire a giant, light-up pumpkin, I am faced with the reality of diminishing closet space. What if I bought a lamp shade and placed it over the top, so it looked like just an ordinary lamp during non-Halloween seasons? Though, it'd probably look less like a table lamp than it would a "Jack o'lantern who's had one too many at a New Years party and is doing a classic gag".

Do I want a drunk-looking pumpkin (drunkin) as decor? Some would say "yes" without batting an eye. My eyes are bats. (Now consider a world where eyes are bats.)

 I liked the care taken by a CVS employee to alternate wraith statue, evil jack o lantern, wraith statue, evil jack o lantern, etc. The overhead sign's suggestion to "stock your locker" (though meant to apply to the next aisle over) would make a great suggestion for these Halloween decorations, too.


Hi! I'm Mingo, what's your... 

Awkward Teen opens her locker, is immediately buried under an avalanche of plastic wraiths. 

(Several scenes later, these two crazy kids get married.)
Oh, Hollywood!

 Touch this thing and the eyes light up and it goes "a-wooo". BUT ENOUGH ABOUT MY SEX LIFE!!!

 So many scented candles - or as I like call them: headaches in a jar!!! BUT ENOUGH ABOUT MY SEX LIFE!!!!

 Let's pause to consider the "Halloween support materials" that usually get short shrift in these kinds of blog posts. Look at all a' them LED candles! Without 'em, so many people would burn down their Halloween Mood Tables. THANKS, LED CANDLES!!!

Has anyone ever bought new batteries for an LED candle? Or do we all just assume it's cheaper to buy a whole new candle? The answer to this question explains modern living in a way that no textbook can.

 My lovely wife and I were excited to see an acorn dish. "TWELVE DOLLARS!" I exclaimed, a bit too loudly for a CVS store. I guess the high price is because you're paying for the dish to be filled with unwanted candle wax and a wick, too. Most people want the candle, though. Why must I be so contrarian? BUT ENOUGH ABOUT MY SEX LIFE!!!

 Remember when I said that there were still aisles of Back-To-School stuff and you totally didn't believe me? Guess THIS picture makes you feel pretty bad about yourself! Or do i just have a subconscious desire to always be right, and I'M the one who should feel bad? Like, all the time?

Golly, we've explored a LOT of emotions, today! Exhausting!
That's all for now! I hope your BOUCHE was AMUSE'd!

Thanks for reading!
Why not follow me on Twitter @sommerjam ?!

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, December 31, 2015!

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...

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.)

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!

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!

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."

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.

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.

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!)

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 


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!