Halloween Comes To CVS Town! (2014)

Is CVS even a national brand? Will you all understand the concept of a large pharmacy that also sells Halloween goodies?! Hold up, let me Google that...
CVS Pharmacy (styled as CVS/pharmacy or simply CVS) is the second largest pharmacy chain after Walgreens in the United States,[2] with more than 7,600 stores,[3] and is the second largest US pharmacy based on total prescription revenue.[4]  --Wikipedia.org
So, if you don't live near one, it's your own fault!

WHAT AN INTRO, HUH?! Anyway, here are photos I took of the inside of my local CVS, with some comments slapped on in a hap-hazzard way. PS - This trip was inspired by my beautiful wife who, offhandedly, said, "Wanna go to CVS and look at the Halloween stuff?" It's suggestions like this that are why I married her and why I will never stop loving her.


The windows were festooned with those spider webs in a bag (the ones that, for some reason, no one follows the clear directions on the package to "stretch thin for best effect" and let them be all clumpy) and some make-shift ghosts. I didn't see these ghosts for sale, inside, so I'd like to think that they were the creation of some enterprising, Halloween-loving employee. I like to imagine that my local CVS workers enjoy their job enough to come up with original window decorating ideas.

Ichabod Crane shall run in fear of this 6-foot tall headless horseman ... that is, until the spectre slips on one of the several umbrellas left strewn at his feet. Or are they there as a lure? "It's raining outside ... come get an umbrella..." BEHEADED BY A HESSIAN!

It's nice that Star Wars fans finally have a way to express their Star Wars-y love at Halloween, via  plastic pumpkin.

Dead butler, offering a selection of light-up pumpkins and skulls (each sold separately). One day, I hope to own a dead butler ... but via natural means. (By employing a manservant who dies.)

In a couple of weeks, this will be a picked-over trash-heap, with winter items impinging on the skulls and spook-tacular-ness, but right now it's a glorious tableau that gives a thumbnail sketch of the CVS Halloween offerings. There's also a self-checkout station, there. A spook-tacular self checkout station.

These are Trick-or-Treat bags that can also be worn as backpacks. Cute. Well, in my day, we just used the thick plastic bag that the visiting cops would hand out at PS 42 (our school). They'd be white and have, like, a poorly-printed haunted house one side and a list of 15-or-so tips for a safe Trick-or-Treat on the other. Those bags made me terrified of being out after sundown ... and of apples. Good job, Officer Halloween! You did more harm than good.

Oh, glow-in-the-dark bag-o-bats. One of these years I am going to succumb to your wiles. Not this year, though. Not this year.... Leaving them on the peg was the hardest decision I ever made. Did I mention that they glow in the dark? I imagine that I'd hang these up all over my house, waiting for them to scare my mom and sister when they come home. Mom will pretend to scream. Sister will ignore it/me. It'll be such fun ... then I remember I'm 37 and live in my own apartment and I don't need 24 glow-in-the-dark bats.

This clown's hands are in "presentation mode" as if revealing that the prize is A NEW CAR! Put him next to your favorite Halloween decoration, as a way to showcase it. Showcase SHOWDOWN it. Remember to have your clowns spayed and neutered.

If the eye damage is on purpose, it's perfect. If it happened accidentally, it's also perfect.

Halloween Minnie Mouse Nutcracker can't keep this man's attention, when there is a sweet-ass plastic Jack-o-Lantern sitting right next to it. Want to be the belle of the ball, Minni? Find some ugly decorations to hang out with to make yourself look hotter by comparison.

Leg danglers are a "thing", I know, but I'm not sure who is choosing one over, say, the non-anatomical skeleton bird behind him, though. Plus, a decoration that is designed to sit precariously on a shelf should surprise no one when it falls and breaks.

Halloween Hunt is Helen's legal name. That joke is as good as it gets! But, seriously, yolks! You co-opt Easter Eggs by painting eyes on them and filling them with Lemon Heads? I'm not sure how I feel about holiday-specific traditions being applied to different events, but this one seems to work. After all, what with Trick-or-Treat, kids are primed to do a little extra work for their candy, so telling them that you hid it all over the house is par for the course. (Hiding candy all over the house is also a sign of a real problem, at non-holiday times of years. Consult a psychologist.)

"HI! I'm leading the Tim Burton Appreciation Day Parade! Follow meeeee!" (He leads you down a dark path, where serpent gods eat your soul.)

Donald is dressed like a pimp, right? I mean, he's totally a pimp, right? Or "Disco Uncle Sam"?

If a person wanted to fill these bottles with Bat Marrow, what would they fill them with? I'm not sure I'd know what that looks like. OR, are the people buying these putting them around to give their guest the impression that they are ALL OUT of Bat Marrow? (Because of all the Bat Marrow-needing incantations they've been doing?)

Branding is an amazing thing. Here we see the tools you use to create the Halloween mascot covered in franchise dressing. We're reaching some kind of saturation point. Or end of days. Star Wars coffins will be provided.

I usually start a Chia Pet in November and watch it bloom, then die, before Thanksgiving is even close. Traditions being iron-clad, immovable objects, I can not grow one of these in October! That's silly! (Add a second Chia Pet to the tradition? What, you think I'm made of money?!) Look, if you want to see what these are like, my buddy Matt, over at DinosaurDracula, bought one and is growing it. Read his review and stop bothering me!

Even though I detest drinking from plastic vessels (it has nothing to do with BPAs, I assure you) and, further, detest drinking through straws (except on very specific, logic-defying circumstances), I wanted each of these "Jazz Handers". They were not called that. Additionally, the pumpkin globe can be detached and used for your Green Goblin / Hobgoblin cosplay/roleplay, too. So this is the best thing ever. Ever. Except for it being plastic and that I'd never use it for its intended purpose.

Dog Skull With Floppy Bone Ears was created by someone with no concept of how bones work. Cat-In-Pumpkin, however, is scarily anatomically accurate.

Since everything is animatronic, these days, these guys also talk or sing or something; I forget what they did when the button was pushed. I've seen more life-like heads on the tops of real people's shoulders, though. C-!

Man, this thing would look GREAT with flames shooting out of it and thrown at a schoolteacher. Problem is, it's made of plastic and the fumes that would occur, if it touched an open flame, would definitely kill you. But that'd be in-line with the spirit of Halloween, right? Maybe you'd come back as a ghost and haunt CVS? There are worse places to haunt. (PS - it lights up red, when turned on. It looks great. This is the one I'll regret not buying / not having enough room in my tiny apartment to store it off-season, once it sells out.)

Made of some weird, space-age polymer (rubber) that I certainly did NOT like the feel of, these guys would, when activated, light up and do a little shimmy dance. (Remember the old dancing soda cans from the 80's? It moves like that.) The song it sings during its performance is great, too! Very reminiscent of Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion. I didn't catch enough of the lyrics to transcribe them (despite the fact that there was a kid pressing all of their buttons, multiple times, from the safety of his stroller, while his mom said nothing. NOTHING!!!!) The song goes something like, "Something something something ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT!" Catchy.

Don't you feel like, at other times of the year, these same things are sold in Spencers, but with the tombstone replaced with a toilet? I do. I'll bet they sing classic rock songs with "poop" substituted for lyrics. "Sweet Poop Alabama" or "Poop On You Crazy Diamond".

So, there you have it, a virtual walk-through of some of the Halloween stuff that CVS had to offer this year. I hope shut-ins and agoraphobics found this helpful.

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

Halloween Crane Game!

I probably told you before, but my neighborhood really goes "all in" for Halloween. Most of the stores along the major road "do it up" with decorations and get into the spirit. A perfect example of this, I feel, is this grotty old Treasure Chest crane game that sits outside of a run-down lotto store, next to a Quarter Horse (a horse your child can ride for a quarter).

It's covered in graffiti and has definitely been urinated on more than once. But whenever I pass it, I always take a peek inside. It's usually filled with grimy stuffed animals, they type you'd normally find at Goodwill. "Previously Loved" might be the perfect way to describe them. But REALLY think about that phrase, because I mean it in every possibly definition that you can think of.

Halloween Comes To Cracker Barrel Town

Yeeeeesssssss! Halloween creep!!!

July isn't even over! This is the time that stores are supposed to be putting out back-to-school stuff, so I was dead chuffed (that's British for "I'm the type that sprinkles British slang into my speech, but please still respect my opinions") ... I was super pleased to find a Halloween display so early in the season. Though, I guess Cracker Barrel isn't much known for their "back to school" items, so, unlike other stores, they don't have to give any shelf-service to Trapper Keepers or mechanical pencils and can get right to the good stuff.

For those who don't know what Cracker Barrel is, it's a restaurant that sells cheap food in huge portions. Though, to keep expenses down, everything that comes with your meal is served on its own plate. Oh, you want steak with a side of potatoes and, well, knowing the clientele, MORE potatoes? Here's your plate with a steak. Here's your first potato. And here's your second potato side. Who asked for lemons for their water? Here is the plate for that! Now, can I refill that gallon of sweetened iced tea for you?

But why, if I'm throwing such shade its way, was I at Cracker Barrel at all? Because when you're flying down a highway at 70mph, there's no time to casually peruse what POI food options the GPS is suggesting, because by the time you've browsed, you've passed them. So, with one Cracker Barrel at every exit, it was easy to make the choice of just pulling into the one that is 5 miles ahead (since we just missed the one that was 1.7 miles behind us).

Plus, my parents seem to like it. And it IS a good "value" ... as long as your definition of "value" means "I don't care what it tastes like, just as long as it's cheap and there is plenty of it."

But why am I talking about Halloween decorations on sale if Cracker Barrel is a restaurant? Because part of their "charm" is that they are also an "old country store". See, it's right there on their logo:

...along with an old guy with weird legs. It's quaint. WAIT ... is the old guy wearing a Civil War confederate cap?! Probably not, right? Riiiight?!

Tourist Trapped

Souvenir shops are for tourists and suckers ... and for people who find themselves with a lot of time to kill before a performance of "The Phantom of the Opera".

Disclaimer: I always feel awkward taking pictures in stores. I know for a fact that some proprietors don't like it (like the VERY un-cool grocery store in my neighborhood that hangs "NO PHOTOS" signs at the entrance), so every time I take out my phone to snap a quick pic, I think I'm going to get yelled at. Actually, I often think I'm going to get yelled at. There's a psychological reason for it but I don't know it, and that's not why you're here, anyway! Anyway, that's why this post is not jam-packed with photos, but I'll show you what I was able to get, without having a nervous break-down. I consider each photo a personal triumph.

Have I told you before about how I love seeing lots of the same thing, in one place? Like, piles of all the same thing make me weirdly happy. It's probably some kind of mental disorder (another one!) that a good psychiatrist could rid me of, but I'd rather keep it. So, this display, packed with Statues of Liberty really tickled my pleasure center. But not in a gross way, where the cops had to be called. I'm a weird-o, but I can make it in society.

Then: CAUGHT! A voice from a worker! "HEY!" (Jeff makes a cartoon GULP noise, turns toward employee) "There's a better picture on this side. Bigger statues. Very nice!" Relief.

My Mom's Glasses

Get excited, everyone, because you're about to have a peek into my mom's glasses cabinet.

Whenever I say things like "my mom's [whatever]", I feel like I'm giving the impression that my parents are divorced. They're not. I just feel like the contents of the cupboard that holds the glasses is strictly under the direction and purview of my mother. My dad could give a fig what's in there, as long as it holds water when he needs it to hold water and tea when he needs it to hold tea. I'll test this by swapping out all of the glasses and mugs with those little ice cream helmets you get at baseball games. His life probably won't change ... except it'll be 100% more awesome, as he drinks water and tea from a Mets hat.

Also: We're all clear that I'm talking about drinking glasses and not "spectacles", right? Otherwise, this post is about to really confuse you.

Now tighten your seat-belt, because here we GO!

Right off the bat we're off-topic, because these first items aren't even glass, but plastic. When will my lies stop?! They are sundae cups so old there's no way they are not 100% BPA. I don't really remember these, from back when I was a kid, so they're probably actually my grandmother's, and are now living with my mom. I've never used them and thanks to a building lactose intolerance, I probably never will. I wouldn't be afraid of the BPAs, though. Pretty sure I've drank enough Bisphenol A - or (CH₃)₂C(C₆H₄OH)₂ - to give me cancer-of-the-something, already, so a little more won't hurt.

The First Movie I Saw ... With My Sister

I have a ridiculous amount of stuff "stored" at my parents' house. I say " "stored" " (in quotes), because it wasn't a conscious decision to move it all there, it's just what's leftover after a life lived in the same house for my entire childhood - and beyond. It's stuff that never made it's way out of that locale. It's stuff that's a prisoner of my lethargy, laziness, and ... um, another "L" word (but not the one that was on pay cable, a few years back. That'd be weird!)

One day I decided to make an attempt to throw some of it out, so I started going through the gigantic box that included every (and I mean every) note I ever took in college. I think I made the right decision by throwing away all of my notes from college, but one never knows when one is going to have to refer back to an old ECON 101 talk about guns and butter. What if there's a test?!

Among the paperwork was this:

Not part of the approved Syracuse curriculum.

It's a "My Little Pony" flier with creases so worn-in that it must've come as an insert with one of the figures. I never played with "My Little Pony" as a kid, let alone in college. This must've been my sister's, but I have no idea how it ended up in this box. As I threw handfuls of old college-ruled paper away, I set this aside, thinking, "I'll make a blog post out of this, somehow." So here we are.

I don't have much to say about the flyer itself, other than it has two sides....

Frolicking like you only READ about.

... and that there are WAY more non-pony characters than I feel should be in a show called "My Little PONY" (emphasis mine).

The Strange Collecting Habits Of A Young Me: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Trading Cards Edition

I didn't play with toys like other kids. Take, for instance, my Transformers: A satisfying play experience, for me, was pulling the robot out of its original box, transforming it, transforming it back, then putting it all back into its box, neatly, and putting it away.

Why am I like this? I have no idea. I'm sure it's a mixture of respect for the toys, desire to keep things in as "mint" condition as I could, for later resale value, and the fact that I'm farther along the spectrum than the tests have so far revealed. (But don't worry for me, Argentina, I've gotten better! I actually play with my toys now. [I am about to turn 37. So this is not really that much better, I guess?])

ALL THAT just to say: I found my stash of Topps Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Trading Cards the other day, at my parent's house. (All my old stuff is there. I swear, mom and dad, I plan on clearing it out of there soon. That means more blog posts. So it works out for everyone.) It's an assortment of Series 1 and Series 2 packs from 1989 and 1990, respectively.