1. ¿What’s Bueno? — Halloween 2015 Edition!

    What’s up with Halloween this year?  No one seems interested! Have we all finally grown up?


    There’s a Spirit Halloween store near me in a spoooky old abandoned Orchard Supply Hardware, or OSH — and it never looks the least bit busy. What’s more, I’m not even all that interested in checking it out, and I’ve always been interested in checking out the ol’ Halloween store.  But not this year, brother!  Not this year!  And I don’t even know why.

    Walmart’s selection is a bit lackluster, too, and as for Target — last night I saw this on my computer:


    The month’s not even half over and they’re already discounting costumes. What’s going on?

    Most surprising of all is what I saw at the 99¢ Only store.


    For the past three years, I’ve enjoyed checking out their Halloween offerings, as you can see here and here and here. This year was no exception, but a couple of things were unusual:

    • 99¢ Only held off longer than usual to put out Halloween merchandise. Usually, Halloween stuff is in full swing right after the “Back-to-School” push in late June — directly following their “Graduation” push. (The “Fourth of July” push is shoehorned in there around the same time.) This year, I don’t think I saw much if any Halloween stuff before September!  September!  Can you imagine! Has the retail industry finally taken leave of taking leave of its senses and decided to put stuff out at a reasonable time before the holiday in question?

    • Astounding but true: All of their Halloween merchandise was…99¢ only!

    “But Ted,” you say, “It’s the 99¢ Only store — of course it’s all 99¢ only.”

    What, are you new around here? The 99¢ Only store has become quite well-known for pushing the price well above 99¢ only, as I’ve blogged about — and linked back constantly to — here.


    So when the 99¢ Only store is in fact selling all of their Halloween merchandise for 99¢ only (despite some price tags of $1.29, $1.49, 1.99 and $2.49), why, that’s certainly blogworthy, you’ll agree!

    And it gets crazier: 

    I went in a coupla days ago — and all of their Halloween merchandise has been further discounted to the ridiculously bueno price of, eh, buy-one-get-one-free. (What happens is you buy one piece of Halloween stuff, and you get another piece of Halloween stuff of your choosing — of equal or lesser value, but that’s irrelevant because it’s all 99¢ only to begin with — for free, hence the term “buy one get one free.” My pledge to you: We don’t say “BOGO” here on Ted Parsnips [dot] Com, and we never will.)  


    So essentially, each piece of Halloween merchandise, or merchoween as I (and now you) like to call it, that they’re offering is now 50¢ only! 

    Folks, that can mean only one thing:


    The Halloween aisle at 99¢ Only gets a rare 7 Dollar Sign rating!  It don’t get no better than that! You head over to your local 99¢ Only store, and you do it now!

    Here’s a small sampling of the items I saw and liked, and please note that while our overall rating for 99¢ Only merchoween, as you insist on calling it, is 7 Dollar Signs, some of these items may rate slightly less — but still at 50¢ each, they wouldn’t rate much less!



    Crows! Over a foot long, they are, and about 7-1/2″ tall. Made of hollow plastic, they stand on a base and also come with a plastic spike, which frankly, confuses me.

    Still more baffling: the rectangular hole in its back. My guess is maybe the spike is to secure the base (which also has a hole in it) to the ground, so Mr. Crow doesn’t blow away on breezy October nights, but as to the hole on the back: No idea.

    These were originally priced at $1.49 each, so you’re getting three for that price as of this writing! My only wish is that the 99¢ Only store sold ground beef so I could have reenacted this scene from “Parks & Rec”:

    But who am I kidding?  Since when have any of us ever left the 99¢ Only store with just four items?


    Pirate Skull!  I know, I know, it’s clearly a Nosferwhosis-type vampire, or maybe a zombie, but it’s no pirate.  But “Pirate Skull” is what the label reads. They seem to be made of very cheap resin or maybe some sort of plaster, and a decent size at a little over 5″ tall and over 6″ at its widest. The tag read $1.49; I bought one for 99¢ and then picked up another for 50¢ yesterday.

    It’s pretty cool as-is but I’m toying with the idea of keeping the 99¢ one pristine, or mint-in-lack-of-package, and painting the 50¢ one in a sort of 70s dayglo Halloween scheme. That way, once I’ve completely ruined it, I’m only out half a buck!


    Severed Limbs an’ Stuff!  These don’t really do it for me, and I didn’t buy any, but I still know a great deal when I see one. Choose from hands, arms, legs, even spines, all pretty much life size. The ones on the left of the shot above are hollow, blow-mold plastic; the (smaller) ones more tinged with “blood” are stuffed latex. (Of the two kinds, go for the latex ones!)

    Me, I prefer “traditionally scary” rather than “outright gory” for Halloween (that time last year when I answered the door to trick-or-treaters without my Dearfoams on and they noticed that stubborn, pus-weeping scabby patch of dry rotting flesh I’ve got on the inside of my right foot notwithstanding), so you won’t see any on my front porch.

    Rats! Two varieties!

    This one, with the comical hands-resting-on-his-fat-gut pose:


    And this one, much more vicious:


    Both are pretty big — about 7″ tall, and pretty hefty.  But here’s the thing: They’re black.  Sure, they look good, but here’s how they look better: Paint ’em with cheap acrylic paints!


    And boy oh boy, don’t it look a thousand times better after I applied my heavy-handed artistic skills to it? Of course it does! Just agree with me, I’m very sensitive. “Yes, yes, they look much better, Ted, much better.” Thanks!

    Look, maybe it’s not exactly something out of Rick Baker’s workshop, but there are people in suburban neighborhoods putting together half-assed haunted houses in their garages in upstate New York that’d kill for this kind of prop.

    Anyway, one down, five to go. At the rate I’m working on them, they’ll be done by Thanksgiving!


    Zombie Outbreak Sign  Printed on stiff board, this sign gets high marks for the fact that neither the biohazard symbol nor the word “apocalypse” appears anywhere on it — both overused and all but requisite on almost everything “zombie” these days.

    Even better than that: the artwork and colors. Simplicity itself — red and yellow-green on a black background. Looks like something right out of a late 60s or early 70s Halloween display at, I dunno, Woolworth’s!

    Sure, let’s go with that.


    Bird Skeletons!  What is it with animal skeletons this year? Seen in various other retail establishments: dog skeletons, cat skeletons, even non-existent-in-real-life spider skeletons, as a pal recently mentioned he’d seen. It’s like the new thing, Halloween-wise. Well, I can tell you one thing: 99¢ Only wasn’t about to be left out, and the only thing they could offer us — their customers — and keep the price low enough to fit our budget was this bird skeleton.

    He’s approximately 8″ tall and, believe it or not, slightly articulated! His beak can open and close, his wings can be moved up and down, and his two legs (as a single unit), can be tilted both this way…and that. This bird is just begging for some young Ray Harryhausen to do some wonderfully crude stop-motion film with it.

    And like all the other animal skeletons I’ve seen for sale, they’ve gone and added some bones where there shouldn’t be. (On the dogs and cats, it’s usually the ears.) Here, it’s a series of 12 bones where the tail feathers would be. I get it, though: It looks a lot more avian with that anatomically-incorrect detail.

    Kind of a pity to cast it in black plastic, though. Looks like someone has a date with my paintbrush!


    Masquerade Skull Mask Brilliant! Someone had the bright idea of taking the old fashioned “mask you hold up to your face on a stick” like you see at them fancy masquerade balls in movies and making the mask part the top half of a skull, and the stick part hand and arm bones.

    Love it, looooove it!

    For even a creepier effect, have someone do scary skull makeup over your eyes and nose so when you do the big reveal at midnight and pull down the mask, everyone’s like “Oh no!”

    I’d offer to do this makeup for you, but I’ve got my hands full clumsily glopping paint onto rats.


    Owls!  Maybe my favorite Halloween item this year at the 99¢ Only store. These guys are 16″ tall!  That’s pretty much life-size, right?! Now, the thing is, they’re just the front half of the owl. But what do you want for $1.99  $0.99  50¢?!

    Most impressive is that the eyes each have a little piece of plastic on them that you have to peel off, as they obviously were stacked when shipped from the owl factory to your local store, and they didn’t want those peepers getting all scuffed up.

    Interesting that they ring up on my receipt as”Owl Halloween Garden Decor,” which made me more suspicious that it was probably just molded off of an owl decoy you’d get in a garden supply place that you’d use to scare off birds or small animals from a garden.


    Yep. A quick Google image search confirms it. I hope whoever molded the original gets royalties.

    Anyway, at 50¢ each, I bought six, just as you would. I have no use for more than one of them, really, but I know if I didn’t go crazy and buy six, I’d be kicking myself.

    And to answer your question: Even though it’s roughly half an owl, you cannot fit two of them back to back to make a whole one — like you, I thought of that, too. These owls lean forward, so the bases would match up, but not the rest of the figure, despite our eagerness to play God and create some unholy pushmi-pullyu bird of prey.

    Anyway, there you have it!  My top picks of bueno Halloween stuff from the 99¢ Only store.  And sure, there’s a lot more there — some bueno, some really not bueno — but at 50¢ each, it’s probably worth a trip there yourself. …If you dare!

    (I say “if you dare” because it’s the 99¢ Only store, and aside from us, you know what kind of people shop there — annoying, pushy people who stand way too close to you when you get in line and don’t respect your personal space and have garlic breath and b.o., and who buy a big stack of owls leaving almost none for anyone else. Why did you think I only bought six?)

    Posted by on October 16, 2015, 12:43 PM.

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