Would you pay $2.99 for a record album – an LP! – in this day and age, when we’ve long ago transcended such antiquated audio technology and moved on to
compact discs?… MP3s?… MP4s…?
…some other sort of digital format the specific name of which none of us are quite sure of anymore?
Okay okay okay – but what if it’s this album:
…and you have to go up and pay for it eating a Jell-O Pudding Pop and humming the ‘Fat Albert’ theme and wearing a colorful sweater and and and the cashier is a laaady?!
Like I said, overpriced!
LIKE you, I’m not a joiner.
But even though I have never worn one myself, I guess I once sort of vaguely liked the concept of ugly Christmas sweaters – before it became an actual thing. But once it became a thing, brother, with more and more people throwing Ugly Christmas Sweater parties and more radio stations and bars and the fun-loving gang in the event planning department at Human Resources holding Ugly Christmas Sweater contests, I was over it. Last year I read an article about a seasonal store (in Brooklyn, maybe…?) that sold nothing but second-hand ugly sweaters.
Others picked up on it, presumably got to work scouring thrift stores far and wide, and now we’ve got at least three online retailers selling hideous holiday apparel (based on a cursory “ugly christmas sweater store” Google search):
So I’ll grudgingly concede their savvy business acumen: They saw a potential market and exploited the hell out of it.
However, if I was going to enter such a contest or attend such a party, I’d either raid my grandmother’s closet (in vain, I can assure you – the woman had taste and did not go in for kitsch. Also, she’s long dead.) or pick through the racks of my local Goodwills and Salvation Armys myself. Because, really, what fun is it to simply log onto a website and pick a used sweater from a gallery of hundreds that was specifically snatched up from a secondhand outlet based on its cheesiness – knowing full well you’re just one of countless others (including, perhaps, your very competition in the contest at next week’s Christmas party down at the bingo hall) doing the same thing? Where’s the thrill of the hunt, man? You’re sitting at your desk scrolling through a webpage!
Then, last night, I see Groupon (remember them?) has further homogenized the whole seasonal craze by offering these mass-produced pullovers:
Not sweaters, mind you – but cotton sweatshirts – with the “ugly Christmas” motif printed on the front to resemble a knit design.
“Ideal for holiday parties and ugly-sweater-themed events” reads the Groupon description. But how? They’re not sweaters!
But it gets worse! They also offer these:
Call me a prude, or maybe I’ve just inherited Grandmater’s patrician demeanor, but I don’t think “fugly” on holiday apparel is appropriate. (Or really, anything you wear out in public, unless it’s to one of those fetish events, where you’re intentionally misbehaving, using bad language, wearing inappropriate clothes and wanting to give the person in charge a reason for paddling your bare bottom with a modified Wiffle Ball bat- I mean, after all, why else would you pay $600 in addition to booking a room on the same floor at the Golden Nugget for the weekend? By the way, Susan and Larry – we’ll see you in February! Should be a good turnout this year. Vera says she’s in, too, if her hemorrhoids aren’t acting up too bad.)
You know what’s also not appropriate? Announcing your sweater is ugly on the sweater itself. If you have to tell people your sweater is ugly, what’s the point? Oh, and yes, there’s still the niggling problem that these things aren’t even sweaters in the first place! They’re sweatshirts! Sweat! Shirts!
And just when you thought we’ve reached the nadir of this ugly Christmas (non)-sweater craze, we see that also available are these:
So here we’ve got ugly Christmas sweaters that 1) again, aren’t sweaters but sweatshirts, 2) again, have the knit design printed on, and 3) really, just completely destroy any rapidly waning illusion that maybe from a few feet away, they could possibly be mistaken for sweaters – by having a very obvious screened design printed on top of the fake knit pattern!
You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatshirts? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal Ugly Christmas Sweater contests. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'”
MANY of you have chided me for misrepresenting lovely Virginia, USA, as an arachnophobe’s nightmare.
“Ted,” you chide, “Ted, every time you go there, you whine like a little girl about the spiders supposedly therein.
“And then how you do go on about the stink bugs and centipedes and those so-called ‘enormous’ hornets and all other manner of creepy-crawlers, and so why wouldn’t we chide you, man?” you continue to chide.
Anyway, you have my schedule, you know I’ve been visiting the family, but what you didn’t know was the first day I’m there, as I’m bringing my luggage into Dad’s guest room, as a welcome, what comes charging out at me down the hall is a wolf spider. Had the leg-span the diameter of a manhole cover, it did – and the pedipalps on this thing…! As long and thick as those inflatable noise-maker sticks people in the South bring to their sporting events, but even more insidious!
…Okay, so maybe they weren’t as big as those, and perhaps the entire creature wasn’t quite manhole-cover-sized. Still, the damn thing was big.
Father directed me to “Just step on it,” and I did as I was told, but brother, something that size I was bound to feel, regardless of how tall the soles of my vinyl platform boots were. Crrrunch.
After I scraped it off my shoe into the toilet, attempted flushing in vain, and then used a plunger to help send the profusion of hairy legs sticking out of the now-clogged commode back down to the depths of hell from whence the beast came, Dad noted that “Oh, that little thing, that’s nothing.”
Yeah, well to me – to me, it was something. Something out of a nightmare I’m going to have every night for months now, where I’ll wake up screaming each time and probably begin peeing the bed again, and after all those years of hypnotherapy…!
“That’s nothing,” Dad continued, or reiterated, or something, regardless that he didn’t actually repeat himself yet I’ve written it that way for dramatic effect. “A few months ago I had a mouse in here so I put down a couple of glue traps.”
Then he made his way to a bookshelf and pulled a flat board off of it.
“This is what I caught instead.”
“It was actually quite a bit bigger before it died and the legs curled in a bit.”
Okay, then! Just get me my cell phone so I can book my flight back out of here right now, today, five minutes after I’ve arrived, and hand me that baseball bat, too, just in case any more appear while we wait for the airport shuttle to rescue me and I contemplate why Dad’s starting a trophy room for vanquished arachnids.
HERE’S something that the one-post-every-eight-months cereal blogs are too lazy to cover, but not me, brother! Not me! You’ll find new content here (such as it is) that you can set your watch by, on schedule, right on time, precisely every once in a while!
So I was in my local discount grocery store…? You know the kind – the produce is cheaper (and more mottled with blemishes and fæces from the hands of whoever picked it)…and all the other stuff is the exact same price if not higher, but they give you the illusion of it being a bargain by displaying everything in the cardboard cartons they were shipped in with the front cut off…?
Anyway, that’s when I saw this – a new member of Post’s Pebbles family of cereals:
And like you, I thought it ridiculous!
Why, these “Poppin’ Pieces” that “fizz in your mouth with burstin’ berry flavor” are nothing but glorified Pop Rocks! Over-sweetened candy commingling with nourishing rice cereal – someone thought this was a good idea?!
No thank you, I’ll stick with my healthy breakfast ritual.
A great big bowl of Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Circus Peanuts.
It’s a delicious part of a balanced breakfast.
RECENTLY, I gave candidate for LA County Supervisor (and inveterate clotheshorse) Sheila Kuehl some free publicity via one of the 1,800 or so flyers she’s arranged to have crammed into my mailbox over the last month.
In the interest of fairness, here’s one of the 1,200 or so from her opponent in the race, Bobby Shriver.
“Isn’t it Time We Invested In Our Infrastructure?”
…But only if it doesn’t cut funding for that Superhuman Fireman program they’ve evidently been having some success with.
DOES there exist anyone less politically aware yet who enjoys election season more than me?
Well, of course – why, we’re a nation of uninformed voters! – but I do enjoy the flyers I get. At least when they’re not clogging my p.o. box to the extent that the good stuff – i.e., postcards, letters and provocative photos in various states of undress from (and of) you, my readers – ends up getting mangled and folded and bent.
Why, here’s one now:
[–A flyer, that is, not a nude photograph of one of you folks you’ve graciously submitted by US Mail, hang the decency laws! No, those go on my other site – TedParsnipsAfterDark ]
Anyway: Why, here’s one now:
For those equally politically clueless, and/or not living in Southern California, Sheila Kuehl is a politician who spent fourteen years in the California State Legislature – eight years in the senate and six years in the assembly – before being termed out. She’s currently running for LA County Supervisor.
However, like me, you remember her as Zelda Gilroy from the, ahem, classic series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” which you saw when it aired on Nick at Nite between 1990 and 1993 – and despite really hoping to appreciate the show, never being able to get into it.
…We all tried liking it – didn’t we? The fact that some aspect of the show always comes up in trivia games – the Thinker statue, pre-Gilligan Bob Denver as beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, the kids on “Scooby-Doo” being modeled on the cast – means there really was something magical there at CBS, from 1959 to 1963, right? Well, maybe not so much.
Anyway, that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here because of this:
Maybe we need some closeups. Yes, I’m thinking a few closeups – that’ll do, right?
Whether you’re busy authoring yet another law producing innovations in education or just out for a midday stroll, you’ll look smart n’ stylish in this navy blue number with mandarin collar and deep breast pockets for tucking in sunscreen or a notebook where you’ll jot down ideas about safeguarding our drinking water. Buttons that go on for days let you customize your look from serious to sassy.
Button, button, who’s got the button? You do, with plenty to spare in this fabulous yellow top, equally apropos for tirelessly working to reduce congestion in the 101 corridor, legislating to prohibit gender and disability based job discrimination, or heading out for a fun & fancy-free night on the town. You’ll turn heads with deep, pleated breast pockets – both fun & functional! – offset by a daring mandarin collar.
This dream in light blue is just the thing for a casual jaunt to the seashore, or even a day at the office looking up important briefs as managing attorney of the California Women’s Law Center. Mandarin collar celebrates exotic fashions from afar while playful breast pockets evoke a youthful whimsy. And oh those buttons!
Oh, settle down, Kuehl supporters – judging by the number of flyers she’s been sending out (two different ones came today – and there’ve been about half a dozen others before that), she’s already won her election.
And she’s certainly got my vote – I respect the fact that she’s extremely practical and doesn’t have a lot of time to waste shopping for different outfits. Sheila Kuehl finds something she likes, and orders the same thing in multiple colors.
It’s like me and those thongs I keep buying. I just wish they actually came in my size.
The headline and lede from a news story posted at 2 pm on Sunday:
Now, I’m hopeful that these four dozen people are all healthy and Ebola-free, and will continue to be so tomorrow, but if the “three-week watch period” ends on Monday, shouldn’t this article start with “Four dozen people who had contact with the original Ebola patient in Dallas will complete a three-week watch period on Monday presuming they continue to show no signs of having contracted the virus”…?
Or maybe just wait until tomorrow when they’re all given clean bills of health to file the story?
But perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe the NBC News Department now employ seers & fortune tellers – and the ubiquitous little reporters’ notepads, digital recorders and little press cards stuck in the hat bands of fedoras have been replaced with crystal balls, ouija boards and gypsy head scarves.
Yes, yes, I know it’s nit-picky, but frankly, if it’s not bad journalism it’s at least solppy writign.
Okay, okay, fine – I got it – I’m not allowed to eat here any more…or my membership will be revocted.
But I can still warm up my Fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli in the steam room, right? I tell ya – set it on the upper tier of benches in the back next to those two guys who always sit next to each other, go work out and 45 minutes later, you’ve got perfectly-cooked pasta, every time!
[And here I do that, what would you call it?, Italian Chef Kissing Motion, I guess.] Mmwuh!
…Or do you just need them taken in a bit?
Well, it’s a two-sided sign. I’m sure they got it right on the other side!
All kidding aside, this place does great work. All the local baseba teams bring their uniforms here to get cleaned.
COVERING Halloween goodies from the 99¢ Only Store has become as much an October tradition here at the Parsnips household as sitting in the bushes on Halloween night itself with the porch lights off; and whether I’m at the dollar store focusing my camera or in the privet aiming my garden hose, someone’s bound to call me a creep and notify the police. I don’t quite know where I was going with that, so let’s just get started!
Haunted House Napkins!
I like ‘em. Neat vintage looking artwork, but since it’s intentional, they’re barred from the next installment of “Delightfully Anachronistic Package Design,” which, yes, horror of horrors, will eventually rear its head again. And a pack of 20 is just 99¢ only. Even if you’re not having a party, you’ll want them around for handing out your delicious homemade, unwrapped treats to little ghosts & goblins which parents will immediately throw out.
Incidentally, as you’ll see, that stylized haunted house napkin design is also the logo for all of the Halloween stuff at 99¢ Only this season.
They’ve also got these Día de los Whosis skull napkins that are pretty snazzy, or, as they say in the particular culture that celebrates that cheap Halloween knockoff holiday (I believe it’s the Norwegians), “muy snazzio.”
By the way, you’ll find a number of items in the 99¢ Only Store’s Halloween aisle which are not 99¢ only; instead ranging in price from $1.29 to $2.99. However, I refuse to recognize 99¢ Only store items above their trademark 99¢ only price point regardless of how bueno they seem to be. So you’re on your own for any of that; rest assured, everything denoted as bueno here is 99¢ only.
Here’s some fun eyewear that challenges hipster girls to discard their retro 60s-or-earlier cat glasses for actual cat glasses; i.e., glasses made from real cats, or, if not that, made from plastic in China. (But it’s China, so there’s a good chance maybe at some point a stray cat fell into the vat of molten plastic in which case I’m vindicated for at least part of the previous sentence.) And just what happens when a hipster girl tosses aside her old cat glasses and puts on these new cat glasses? I believe she immediately incinerates in an intense and fiery flash of blinding white-hot irony.
Eh…is there a new word for “hipster”…? I feel like an old man here, all, what?, six of you quietly mocking me for using “hipster” like it was 2006 or something. But let’s face it, those cat glasses-wearing types still exist, so unless you have a better name for them and their bearded male counterparts, we’ll stick with “hipsters.” But we’ll try not to use it so much, hmm?
Though they consist of a plastic “wooden stick” and a bunch of plastic “straw” which is attached by a “cable tie” (also, yes, made of plastic!), I have to say, they look pretty good. They resemble a real witch’s broom, albeit a short one. (Still, they’re almost a full yard long!) And that tree branch handle is gnarled and crooked – a nice touch. Pretty good deal for a buck, if you ask me. And most importantly, such an accessory encourages and reinforces traditional Halloween costumes, which is something this country has, sadly, strayed away from in recent years, thank you liberal media!
These came in a one-web-per bag regular size and a multiple web-per-bag mini-size (seen above). Anyone who’s been to Casa Parsnips knows such decor would be wasted here – you wouldn’t be able to see ‘em for all the real cobwebs covering every corner and the arachnids that are constantly climbing walls and/or dropping down from above. Still, these phony ones seem pretty neat. Looking at them up close (i.e., in person, not in the photo), one could see that these webs are actually machine-knit or weaved – that is, it’s not just wads of diaphanous cottony floss you just tear into thin wisps and string anywhere – presumably these things can be stretched out and give the appearance of actual spider webs. Presumably.
Well, these certainly aren’t my idea of What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store, but I bet stupid kids just love ‘em. Unfortunately, it’s also proof that year after year, the relentless zombie pop culture apocalypse continues to shuffle and shamble and literally drag on, with no end in sight. The 4.25 ounce brain candy is particularly disgusting, and looks potentially messy as well. Not shown: Candy blood bag, with sugary red corn syrup standing in for blood – that you just suck out of a tube. Look, ordinarily, I’m a big supporter of corn syrup – but as a nourishing ingredient in other fine foods – never on its own! You might as well be doing shots of pancake syrup like I do at IHOP with their deliciously artificially butter pecan flavor. Perhaps the lesson here is not to judge.
Spider Web Felt Doily!
As with last year’s spider web bowls, these otherwise great items would have been much better had they been manufactured in white. Of course, even if they were white, I’d probably complain that “Oh, sure, the web is white, but so are the spiders! Are we to believe these are, what, some sort of albino cave spiders? Bah!” Though in that case, I’d advise you to take a great big Marks-A-Lot pen and just enblacken the spiders yourself. However, it’s a moot point because these felt webs are available only in orange, black and green. They’re still arguably bueno because they’re just the special decorative touch to put under your plastic skull pitcher. Speaking of which…!
Plastic Skull Pitcher!
Available in clear and in smoke. Looks like it holds about two quarts. You can’t go wrong for 99¢ Only! Fill it with margaritas and drink until you no longer care that the decorative felt web it’s sitting on would look better in white. With black spiders.
Skull Shot Glasses!
The photo’s from last year, but they still have ‘em. I even bought a set, because – four skull shotglasses for 99¢ only – I’d’ve been a fool not to pick these up. They’re plastic, yes, with a frosted sheen to them, and like the pitchers, come in clear-ish and smoke-ish.
Solar-Powered Haunted House!
These little sun-powered toys are all the rage at the dollar stores these days – the most ubiquitous ones are (non-Halloween) flowers, but I’ve also seen really cool (non-Halloween) sharks (below).
Each of these moving toys has a little solar panel that makes some element of the figure rock back and forth. Whoopee. In the case of the little (4″ tall) haunted house, the two pie-eyed Pac-Man-ghost-like spectres pop up and down and the attic shakes.
Like you, I am charmed by the lopsided, angular, asymmetrical cartoony look of the house. And so I bought one. All of these little solar-powered dealies come with a two-sided adhesive disk so you could mount them to, say, the dashboard of your car, but as that particular area of the Parsnipsmobile is covered in bean-and-cheese-encrusted Del Taco wrappers, Mexican head-shaking dogs and Virgin Mary statues (all ironic, except for the Del Taco garbage), there’s no room. I’m afraid the Haunted House stays here at home. And speaking of irony – isn’t it ironic that the only way to get this dark and dreary haunted house to work is through the power of a sunny day? Don’tcha think?
Believe it or not, that’s the same skull photographed three times due to an elaborate multiple exposure process achieved by me standing really still with the camera over an interminable 40 seconds or so while the skull cycled through a rainbow of colors, and then there was the whole Photoshopping-them-together process, and by Photoshopping, I mean, of course free online photo editor-ing. According to its label, this 3-1/4″ tall plastic skull is technically called COLOR CHANGING LED LIGHT, and it’s pretty neat, although I wish I had gotten a shot where it’s glowing green as well. 99¢ only and the batteries are already included? You’d have to have a thick skull not to buy one of these!
Regulars visitors to this blog (ha!) will remember that I prophetically announced two years ago that these pull-over nylon masks would be the Halloween staple of the future! …Annnd it turns out I was wrong. They’d pretty much disappeared after 2012. But I did find one lone leftover Unlicensed Frankenstein(‘s Monster) Mask in a Simi Valley 99¢ Only store a few weeks ago, and just as you would have done, I quickly snatched it up. (Unlike you, I actually paid for it, though).
No, these great masks, which I still think are awesome, sadly never took off. Instead, they’ve got these knit, pull-over ski mask-type things this year:
…which I would really like to say are bueno, but at $1.49 each, they’re over 99¢ only, so I cannot legally or morally or ethically recommend them. However, I must say I am looking forward to the first news story I see where some criminal robs a bank wearing one of these since they’re pretty much tailor-made for such an activity.
…And my attorney tells me I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form you should do anything illegal, whether wearing one of these or not. He goes on to say that I look forward to this winter when extreme and law-abiding young people will be wearing them snowboarding or whatever it is law-abiding and extreme young people do in the snow these days, and he’s right, I do look forward to that. And he further doubts an actual professional tailor had anything to do with manufacturing these.
Speaking of hoods…
These are great. There are other ninja items, too for 99¢ Only, but these hoods are particularly cool. I mean, a ninja hood for just 99¢ only – even I’m on board and ninjas are not on my list of pre-approved traditional scary Halloween costumes – witch, ghost, vampire, Frankenstein(‘s Monster), hobo. (Yes, hobos can be scary – just ask late 19th century teenage runaway Jimmy ‘Pretty Punk’ Burrows, author of the disturbing 1893 narrative, “Long Winter In The Chicago Rail-Yard Hobo Jungle or: Anything To Keep Warm!”)
While we’re on the subject of headware, check out this fine selection of molded hats, all for just 99¢ a piece!
And here’s a surprise: No Heisenberg porkpie hat knockoff. True, 2013 would have been the year to have unlicensed “Breaking Bad” costume elements, but one expects the dollar store to be about a year behind the times; and such a hat would still have been a big seller this year, labeled “Cancer-Ridden Drug Kingpin Hat” or “Say My Name Hat” or “I Am The One Who Knocks (For Candy) Hat.”
The other hats are mostly unapproved (by me), unscary, non-traditional costume hats, except for the colorful cowboy hats, which look like they might be worn by strippers. And if you don’t think strippers can be scary, ho ho, brother, you ain’t been to that gentlemen’s club up on Canoga Avenue on a non-holiday weekday morning when they’ve got their C-team working the pole!
Comically Long Mustache
Every Halloween aisle needs to have at least one item to get oversensitive folks’ panties in a knot. I’d like to think that for the 99¢ Only store, it could be this comically long mustache – or as I like to call it, this “comically wrong” mustache. (And if you see me in person, ask me to pronounce that for you, to get the full effect.) Yes, yes, I know: “oversensitive” nothing – some people just have an allergic reaction to synthetic hair, that’s all. Actually, to be fair, it wouldn’t be the actual mustache that would probably set off the Easily Offended, it’s the card it’s packaged on. Of course, I think it’s a riot, so please don’t ask me to sign your internet petition.
I saved my favorite What’s Bueno item for last. It’s these…
Small Glass Skull Bottles
Just under 4″ tall, these bottles are available in clear and black. I avoid any glass items that are painted – the color eventually chips off – so I recommend you go with the clear, as I did, and then fill with a dark liquid. If we could go back in time some eighty-five or ninety years, or so, I’d introduce you to young Master “Teddy” Parsnips, little lonesome nerdling who spent much of his free time in the woods surrounding his fabulous New England estate, Wintersnips, digging up discarded bottles from 19th century garbage dumps. (True, mostly!) Anyway, I, uh– …that is, he would tell you he especially enjoyed finding old ink wells and poison bottles, both of which he noticed were particularly decorative.
It’s with that nostalgic thought in mind that I bought a quantity of India ink from the blogging supply store, filled up the little skull container with same and actually composed this entire post by hand, as our forebloggers did centuries ago. I’ll probably have a devil of a time getting all the words off the screen once I publish this, and AppleCare tells me I’m not covered for indelible ink and palladium silver pen nib scratches, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it.
So there you have it – my picks for What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store for this Halloween season. Your local 99¢ Only store has tons more Halloween items – some bueno, some not, some goofy and fun, and some scary.
…But, while we’re at it, speaking of ‘scary’…?
Halloween Fright Tape
Other variations include “Infection Zone,” “Do Not Enter!” [with biohazard symbol] and “Danger!” [with skull & crossbones]. Given recent news stories of alarming emergency room “missteps” in Dallas, nurses nationwide saying they’re underprepared, and the CDC’s recent stellar track record, let’s hope these things remain mere Halloween novelties in the weeks ahead.
Parsnips, you say, How dare you instigate fear-mongering, encourage unrest, suggest panic in the streets!
If I wanted paranoia, chaos, panicked masses (if all, what?, six of you readers constitute a mass), if I wanted to monger me up some good old-fashioned monger-flavored fear, I’d have made a much bigger deal about the 99¢ Only store unleashing this on an unwitting public!
Now is the time to start panicking, folks!
Oh, and, yes, of course I bought some! Just call me Patient Zero in the coming Canned Chicken Bologna Plague. Either that or I’ve discovered some sort of marvelous cure-all – a mechanically-separated chicken elixir of life! – which is frankly what I suspect. Do try it fried!