1. A Candle In The Thrift!

    ONE of the things that’s great about this whole new modern digital age, especially for someone like me who’s — surprise! — just a floor-to-ceiling stack of old newspapers or two short of being clinically diagnosed as a hoarder, is that these days, with my trusty EBC, or expensive blogging camera, I can go into a thrift store, see something neat (as you kids today say) and capture it on film, and by “on film” I of course mean digitally, sans film, all without having to waste money buying the damn thing that ultimately I would have no use for.

    Case in point? This candle I just saw a week or two ago:


    I mean, look at this thing — it’s great, right? Here’s how much of a freak I am — I did a double-take when I saw it, because I was excited to find what I thought at first was an honest-to-goodness vintage old tin can!

    “What a hypocrite!” you shriek. “You’re really no different than the people on Flickr that you make fun of!

    Yes, well. You got me there.

    Anyway! I soon realized it’s not an empty spaghetti can from the 60s, but rather…


    …a candle made to look like a can of spaghetti, sure, as the label says.

    Like you, when I see things like this — can or candle — I wonder to myself, and sometimes aloud (if a stranger’s nearby and I’m looking to make someone uncomfortable), “Where did this once mundane, now magnificent item reside for the past half-century? In an attic? A garage, a basement? In the bedroom of a beloved child who died tragically at an early age, and then Mom & Dad kept the room intact, as a shrine, maybe, for the rest of their days, until they, too, shuffled off this mortal coil, and some unsentimental realtor boxed up everything in the place and delivered it to a thrift store? How is it that something as commonplace as an empty spaghetti can or, yes, a bit less commonplace as a spaghetti candle avoid the trash bin for so long? Why is it here now, in front of me?”

    And speaking of the two items — Which would have been the better find: An actual empty can that decades earlier once held Franco-American spaghetti? Or this sort of Mad Magazine / Wacky Packages take on Franco-American spaghetti that’s not empty, and still has much of its original candle inside?

    I’ll leave that up to my, what?, six readers, as that is something only you can decide. If you’re done shrieking at me, I mean.

    “Does it smell like spaghetti when you light the candle?” you ask with a bit more restraint, using your indoor voice, and your question’s a valid one. Yet we may never know, since I left it there, unboughten. I did sniff it, though, and I couldn’t really detect any scent. But someone probably knows — it was gone when I went back to this particular thrift, less than a week later.

    How close to the original label was it? Pretty damn close, as you can see:


    On the right we have my candle — and by “my candle,” I mean a candle that is mine in spirit only: I do not actually own it but merely photographed it, and I refer to it as such because it’s the same candle I was talking about before; it is “mine” in that regard — but on the left,  we have an actual vintage empty Franco-American spaghetti can I found online that is not mine but belongs to a fellow who purchased it full of nails at a yard sale a couple of years ago.

    The question remains: Did he at first glance think he’d happened upon a Finko-American spaghetti candle and only upon closer inspection realize it was in fact an actual old empty can — empty, that is, of spaghetti but full in rich, nourishing nails?

    And if so, was he disappointed?

    We may never know.

    Next time:  I hypothesize at length about the unlikely set of circumstances that, in late 2013, placed two half-filled books of 1960s S&H Green Stamps on the ground in the middle an alleyway a block from my house and directly in my path…


    …and whether it’d been better to have found these books or the 50-year old merchandise that such stamps could have been redeemed for. (Presuming said merchandise would have been in as surprisingly good shape as these alley-books.)

    That, or maybe I’ll just pound out something quick about crap I bought at the dollar store. Either way, it’s sure to be compelling.

    Posted by on February 19, 2015, 11:01 PM.

  2. Dollar Days at Goodwill — Not!

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    If I had a nickel for every item I’ve seen at 99¢ Only for 99¢ only and then later at Goodwill for a much higher price, I’d be a rich man, indeed. And not just rich in good health, family and friends as I am now, but rich in nickels which is of course what I prefer.

    But I’ll be generous and cut the people who price the donations at Goodwill some slack on that, because not everyone can be as well-versed in 99¢ Only store merchandise as you or I.

    However, I won’t be as magnanimous with this:


    It’s a Kitchen brand Microwave Splatter Screen. Brand new — never been used, by the looks of that label! Not sure where it came from originally — could be a dollar store item, could be from one of your larger retailers. Who’s to say?

    Regardless, we all can see this on the label, can’t we?


    And then, a few inches away, we’ve got Goodwill’s price:


    Now, I think the problem here is that at least a while back — from what a cashier told me — the Goodwills in my area weren’t pricing anything lower than $1.99. Which, frankly, doesn’t make a lot of sense (especially for this area, hoo boy!), but if that was their policy, then stuff like this shouldn’t even make it out to the sales floor [industry term].

    Goodwill oughta just re-donate such merchandise to thrift stores — good thrift stores — that do price things lower than a buck. Or just give this stuff away. Or throw it in the garbage.

    Because when you, Goodwill, try to sell something for two bucks in a thrift store that retails for half that (and is marked as such), you’re going to end up with customers at the counter arguing with the cashiers and trying to get them to sell it to them for the original price — and then when the cashiers don’t, you’re going to end up with customers using filthy, filthy language, possibly throwing things, and probably invoking some sort of peasant curse against the employee. (Most customers other than me in my area thrift stores, I’ve noticed, are pushy, awful, awful people who, I think it’s safe to assume, dabble in black magic.)

    What’s worse — you’re going to end up showcased on my popular “Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week” feature and mocked mercilessly by my, what, six regular readers. Probably.

    Posted by on February 7, 2015, 8:06 PM.

  3. Pucker Up And Open Your Wallet!

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    LOOK, I know I haven’t done one of these babies in a while – and believe me, brother, it ain’t due to a lack of surprisingly expensive merchandise down at the local Goodwill.

    So my promise to you, dear readers, is to feature a new What’s Bueno Overpriced Goodwill item each and every single day week of the year right here on this blog.

    Oh, look, it’s more than two weeks nearly three weeks into January. Well, I’ve already screwed up this one. I guess there’s really no reason to waste my time trying to bother with the, what, 49 weeks left, is there?

    …And yet: How hard can it be? Between you and me, most of this “blog-writing” just ends up being me copying and pasting text from previous posts and then editing it ever so slightly. Shh!

    So with that in mind, let’s get started:

    Oh lookee here!  Lip gloss! Thrift store lip gloss!


    I’ll point out that you’re not just getting one novelty mouthal item, but two: Flip over the blister card [industry term] and you’ll see that your $5.99 also entitles you to this lip balm.

    They’re by the good folks at Lotta Luv Cosmetics – the first (and, presumably) only name in licensed candy and soda stocking stuffer glossenbalms, which is a word I think I just coined, though there’s the distinct possibility it’s borrowed from the Germans.


    And I guess it should be noted that you’ll also be receiving a generous length of packing tape binding these two items – the yin and yang of lip decor and emollient – together to ensure they are sold as a set – and potentially remain so forever and ever and ever.

    …On account of there’s no one who’s gonna pay six bucks for this.

    Posted by on January 19, 2015, 11:12 AM.

  4. Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week: Comedy Album from 1963!


    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?

    You would?!

    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?!

    Awright then!

    Like I said, overpriced!

    Posted by on November 26, 2014, 3:46 AM.

  5. Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week: A Modern Day Masterpiece!

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    Hold onto your Swiss Rolls, folks – it’s a fan painting of spokescake snackperson Little Debbie!

    Wait a minute – strike that! Reverse it.


    Looks like someone was eating some Cosmic Brownies – if you know what I mean! – when they took paint to canvas for this nuttier-than-a-Nutty-Bar portrait!

    Judging by those lopsided old-lady-eyes, lack of bottom lashes, asymmetrical arrangement of her features, and somehow wrinkle-free skin, this is not of the original, iconic four-year-old Little Debbie, but rather an imagining of Little Debbie in her mid-eighties after she’s had some work done and suffered a stroke or two.

    $14.99 at Goodwill!

    And frankly, for a painting this size (it’s at least 18″ x 24″) and this bizarre, I almost have a hard time naming it our Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week.


    But then I think of all the Zebra Cakes you could buy with that money…!

    Posted by on January 17, 2014, 11:48 AM.

  6. Six Goodwill Posters, Seven Grammy Nominations!

    Congratulations to Ryan Lewis and Macklewhosis!


    While they were just Grammy-nominated for song of the year for “Same Love,” perhaps they’re better known for “Thrift Shop” –  whose lyrics Goodwill cleverly co-opted for use on posters in their Southern California store windows earlier this year:

    Coppin’ it, washin’ it, ’bout to go and get some compliments


    I’m gonna pop some tags


    Only got twenty dollars in my pocket


    I-I-I’m hunting, looking for a come-up, this is f—ing awesome


    I wear your granddad’s clothes.


    I look incredible.


    And so on.

    Surprisingly, there’s no corresponding posters for the lyrics “What up, I got a big —-!” or “I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that mother——” or even “That’s just some ignorant b—-.”

    Still, (used, unwashed) hats off to Goodwill for having their finger on the pulse of pop culture.

    By the way, for you folks over the age of, what?, twenty-five, “pop some tags” means removing price tags after you’ve purchased the item. But don’t feel bad! Judging by all the discarded paper stubs and price stickers on the floors and tucked into the walls of Goodwill dressing rooms, I think a number of their shoppers may have misinterpreted the song as well. goodwilltags

    Posted by on December 7, 2013, 4:54 AM.

  7. Bizarre Sighting: Ceramic Toad Swallowing Cheap Novelty Bat Caught On Camera!

    LOOK CLOSELY and you’ll realize that this is a rare, and perhaps first, sighting of a sink toad feeding on a rubber bat. Yes, this happened.


    This amazing photo was taken over the kitchen sink by me. What happened was I was trying to get a head start on decorating the house for Halloween. I hung the rubber bat on a hanging plant hook in the ceiling. Evidently the cheap elastic string broke and the bat fell down into the waiting maw of the hungry sink toad.

    Sink toads usually feast on scouring pads or sponges, but they are notoriously opportunistic feeders, even swallowing the occasional dish rag or Clorox wipe.

    After struggling with the meal for quite some time, the toad eventually gave up and spat the bat out. The bat recovered enough to have its elastic retied and rehung in a different part of the house.


    The toad, or hideous ceramic frog as it is technically known, is an invasive species from a local thrift store that took up permanent residence in my house two years ago after it was listed on eBay with no bids.


    I guess I overestimated the online market for ugly scouring pad holders. I’m sure I won’t make that mistake again.

    Posted by on September 26, 2013, 10:39 PM.

  8. Overwrought Goodwill Article of the Week!

    NOW HERE’S some fun: A good pal of mine, sure – that handsome devil Scott Maiko – recently had a piece published in MAD magazine.


    MAD #523, to be exact – on stands now!  It’s an hilarious spoof of the Williams-Sonoma catalog. And though he makes such hilarity look easy, he admitted to me that it was difficult coming up with an angle.

    “I just couldn’t think of the right approach,” he tells me. “I was going crazy trying to think up how to handle it. I even began talking to myself, that’s how crazy I was going.”

    “You talk to yourself? I do that too!” I told him.

    Eventually, he explained, inspiration hit when he was wandering through a local thrift store – just like I do!  (Surprised I don’t bump into this guy more often.)

    Instead of Williams-Sonoma, he thought, how about…


    …and write up the catalog as a ‘mash-up,’ if you will, of actual Goodwill thrift store merchandise, and hoity-toity Williams-Sonoma-style catalog copy!

    The rest, as they say, is history: His editors hated it so he ended up writing something better for them.

    However, they were kind enough to let him take his original misguided, half-assed, mean-spirited, scattershot, who-did-it-and-ran attempt and “piss it away on his blog,” as he likes to say. Turns out, he doesn’t have a blog on which to piss it away (which begs the question ‘Why does he like to say that?’ and I’d ask him but he, uh, left).

    Anyway, it seems I have a blog and he asked me to post it here.

    Click on each image to see it larger in a new window/tab.



    Pages 1 and 2. (Descriptions of items on p. 1 appear on p. 2)



    Page 3:


    Page 4:


    Page 5:


    Page 6:


    I think we all agree MAD made the right call by passing on this especially because this works out great for me: I’ve bought the entire concept, lock, stock and second-hand barrel from Maiko for three dollars worth of food from Del Taco’s Buck & Under menu! Heh heh…sucker!

    Those of you, what?, six regulars who have been coming here for my popular Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week feature can now look forward to, oh, perhaps the occasional new catalog item as well! So how about that!

    By the way, to subscribe to MAD, click here.  Or you can get it on your iPad now, so there’s no excuse!

    Posted by on September 12, 2013, 3:06 AM.

  9. Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week: Especially For the Woman of the House!

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    LADIES, we’ve all been there, haven’t we…?

    You’re in Goodwill, standing there in your drawers and about to try on someone else’s discarded, unwashed fleece lounge pants with that hideous Paul Frank monkey on them.

    Suddenly you realize that although it seemed like a good idea at the time, ordering Lunch Special #4 (spicy red curry pineapple/carnitas-stuffed chile relleno with extra jalapeños, steeped in Sriracha sauce) at the Mexican Thai place on Reseda (with the ‘C’ rating in the window, no less!) proved to be a serious mistake.

    That ominous rumbling down there is signaling you’ve got mere moments to decide whether to crabwalk from the dressing room to the unisex bathroom with the broken lock on the door or to secrete yourself into the middle of a densely-packed circular rack of blouses, sweaters and various other stained, out-of-season tops and make do with the uncertain privacy it may or may not provide before Mother Nature hits you full force with your monthly visit from, yes, your period!


    (That’s what happens, right? I’m not a woman myself, so I’ve had to cobble together bits of information I gleaned when I was a boy and brought in the mail the same day we got a bunch of takeout menus from local restaurants and my 13-year-old sister received a big box from Kotex that I fixated on but no one would talk about.)

    Anyway, what to do?

    I’ll tell you what to do: Head on over to Goodwill’s bric-a-brac section and pick up yourself some Sure & Natural Maxishields!


    A box of five pads with superabsorbent fibers will stem any tide, from neap to tsunami. Like Josephine the Plumber used to say, they’re the quicker-picker upper!


    And how much would you pay for this box of free samples from the mid-1980s in your hour of need?


    Damn the cost! Those hot peppers want out! Believe me, brother, it’s $3.99 well spent!

    And there go the last of the women to ever visit this blog, I reckon. Likely the rest of you, too.

    Posted by on June 24, 2013, 2:41 PM.

  10. Personal Hygiene and Enema System! Available Now at Goodwill!

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    LIKE YOU, when I’m out and about running errands and I need to feel fresh down there I head to my local Goodwill, snag an old threadbare washcloth from the linens section, wait until a homeless person is causing a scene using one of their dressing rooms as a toilet (you never have to wait long) and then take advantage of the distraction by flying through those double doors at the back and heading to the employee bathroom. There I’ll run the hot water, drop my drawers, soak the washrag and proceed with what the poor people of Puerto Rico call “taking a Slovak shower.” Ugly, ugly term. Racist! Shame on you, poor people of Puerto Rico! No wonder your filthy island paradise will never be a state.


    Sometimes there’s a dearth of washcloths! Sometimes there’s a cart blocking those double doors, or someone’s already in the employee restroom in the back! Sometimes a homeless man is crapping the floor in the dressing room but no one cares! Or he’s doing it so quietly and non-odorously and politely that he and his shopping cart are long gone – two, three alleys away – before anyone realizes! Then you can’t perform your mid-afternoon toilette, and pal, you’re screwed!

    It’s times like these that you really appreciate finding items like this at Goodwill:


    It’s the Cara Number 3 Economy Water Bottle Combination 2 Quart Personal Hygiene and Enema System!

    And it’s got all the bells and whistles!

    Look!  Look!


    For $2.99, you get it all: Tubing! Shut-off clamp! Water bottle! Adaptor! Enema pipe and vaginal pipe! Stopper! And hook!  (Presumably for retrieving any of the other bits and pieces you might lose up there!  Hey, happens to the best of us.)

    With this baby you can effect any necessary freshening-up in the privacy of your car’s backseat, right there in the parking lot! Just be sure you’ve brought along a thermos of piping hot water. Maybe some plastic sheeting, too, if you have fabric upholstery. Definitely if you have leather.

    And for God’s sake, don’t forget to feed the meter! Believe me, brother, you don’t want to be standing in the middle of a municipal parking lot wearing nothing but a long t-shirt and arguing with a meter maid with a long piece of white tubing dangling out of you, especially if you’ve neglected to engage the shut-off clamp! Then you’ll get the parking ticket and whatever citation they give street vendors for pouring unsold horchata in the gutter at the end of the day.

    Anyway, I’m not sure how the 10 Year Limited Warranty is impacted by buying this second hand in a thrift store, but I have a feeling that the good people of Cara, Incorporated would probably work with you on that.


    …because they care.

    Posted by on March 16, 2013, 4:22 AM.

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