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!!!

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]
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!