1. ¡¿What’s Bueno?! – Halloween 2014 Edition!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    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.


    Skull Napkins!
    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.


    Cat Glasses!
    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!


    Spider Webs!
    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.



    Gross Candy!
    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?


    Color-Changing Skull!
    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…


    Ninja 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!

    Posted by on October 6, 2014, 5:39 PM.

Ted Parsnips: Too Many Kittens! © 2011–2023 Ted Parsnips. All rights reserved. Layout by Andrew Sylvester. All content property of Ted Parsnips or its respective owner, unless otherwise specified.