Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Monsters "Monster Mash"


(General Mills Records) The cereal came out a few weeks earlier, with the song links dormant and teasing, so we were building this up in a little too much I fear, because I sure wanted this to be better and funner and funnier. The "Behind the Music"-style promo video was kinda koooky and had some good moments, but the voices seemed off (there must be Rich Little Youtube tutorials on Lorre, Karloff, Lugosi impressions...and if not, you know General Mills has the the Caliendo coaching cash!) and I just expect more from these Saturday Morning TV commercial legends. Even if the record was this meh and they had it be a cardboard cereal box cut out record I woulda been appreciative enough of the effort to give this four skulls. Then again, original "Monster Mash" is in many ways a more perfect record than anything the Beatles made, so there was no chance of living up to that legacy no matter how many late nights in the lab they worked on this. I am still glad they made this.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Frankenberry cereal


 (General Mills) Best monster cereal character design by far (the strawberry fingernails are magnificent) but at best a decent tasting fruity cereal. This is appropriate for a seasonal cereal but does not merit year round bowl time. That said, get excited about this every Fall!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Boo Berry cereal

 


(General Mills) Of the Big Three of Monster Cereals this is the most exciting in that it doesn't seem to be guaranteed the annual re-release his more corporeal living dead colleagues enjoy, thus is a rare-er treat, but it tastes the worst of all of them. Definitely not particularly blueberry flavored. And not even blue, more purple-ish. I suppose they never said "blueberry" anywhere. Also, I hear they got rid of the chemicals in Monster Cereals that turned kids' poop colors...boo indeed!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Count Chocula cereal

 

(General Mills) "Count Chocula" is the only Monster Cereal that tastes good enough to be a year-round table treat and Count Chocula the character has a funny enough design and a good enough personality that if he'd had his own cartoon it woulda made Groovy Goolies look like Drak Pack.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Monster Mash cereal

 

(General Mills) As we enter the pre-Halloween spooky season it is tragic and depressing and impossible to ignore that we live in an age of true horror when the actual non-fake news of the brutality, stupidity, injustice, and hatred of our neighbors, countrymen, and government feels like a hopeless beacon of actual, inevitable doom. So we have never needed moments of dumb, absurd, genuine joy more than now. I only hope that others got as much excitement as I did out of the simple perfection of this whatever the grocery industry equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize is-worthy achievement. To celebrate a half-century of monster cereals General Mills put all the flavors and marshmallow shapes of their five monsters (including their appropriately maligned 80s entry Yummy Mummy) in one box and called it, sublimely, "Monster Mash." And did I mention that they are now an Archies-esque cartoon rock band? This doesn't even taste that good. Yet it is the cereal I needed now. And I love it. True thanks to whatever god or devil is responsible for making monsters in cereal form. And the band is even releasing a song! Thanks to this I now truly believe that the world could be worse!

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Wonder Years


(ABC, 2021) Pilots often try to throw a lot in to lay out the scenario/hook you in/show what they are about, and this episode did A LOT. But that might just be the pilot, I will decide later if I want to watch this show. But I will say, no doubt, when Dule Hill shows up at the baseball field in this suit it was nice. This still does not do justice to how slick this outfit looked on TV. As of now, this is not the funniest sitcom going, but fuck it, Best Dressed is worth points.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Chicago Party Aunt

(Netflix, 2021) I was not being a bitchy negative nelly, I wanted to like this. But it's just not funny. I don't care to nitpick about Chicago details, or that it's in Wrigleyville when she seems more South Side-ish, or this or that...I actually want to watch to see Chicago stuff, and chuckle at, and have warm nostalgia for,  pee troughs in stadia...but it's just not funny. I think many people involved in the show are funny; I almost always laugh at Ike Barinholtz. But damn, something about this boring designed, striving for mediocrity show clearly sucked all joy out of whatever they were trying to do. Just not funny.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Eddy Grant "Grandes Exitos Vol. 2"

(Ice, 1982) Eddy Grant is so great. I think the Equals songs are equal in greatness to the Rolling Stones and his solo take on Island/African roots pop has as many solid songs IMHO as almost any artist rom the 70s and 80s other than Lauryn Hill's Father In Law. This record has "Living On the Frontline," "Hello Africa," and "Can't Get Enough of Yo," amongst other grand exits, and I keep flipping this platter over and over...Can't Get Enough of You, EG!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ritter Corn Flake (full size)

 

(Ritter) OK, I've previously only had these in mini size, like 3/4 of an ounce or so, and never knew they came as big, thick-assed candy bars. This is still good but it's too good and too much and I can't even deal with it. There is so much milk chocolatey wonderfulness that it's kind of disgusting. The sublime mini is the way to go, Johan.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Rocky "Wadda Ya Wanna Be...When You Grow Up?"

(Roulette, 1983) I have either lost my ability to find what I want in the corners of Internet or in zines of yore, or no one has figured out what the hell this is yet. And I ain't the one to do it: the very very odd "grow up" collage on the cover seems to imply he is from New York (he dreams of growing up to be on [a Sunday softball team called] The Yankees; he appears to have Italian heritage (that face in the baby pic! Plus his mafia job fantasy); he was kinda hooked up (Frampton does a solo); and he had serious pop promise ( there are tunes that sound exactly like XTC and a story song that falls halfway between Billy Joel and Gas Station Dogs). Figuring out the who, hows, whys and where are they nows of this must be a WFMU DJ or a Norton intern's persons task, I do not have the tools or proximity. And how can this be on Roulette in 1983, complete with the orange checkerboard label? It is on every streaming service so someone involved still believes in it, but who is that person? WHAT IS THIS? WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HE GREW UP?!? Brag:  I paid $1, a full 56 cents below the average price on Discogs (where there is so little info on this record that they don't know Frampton is on it). 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Monkees "Missing Links" Volumes 1-3


(FridayMusic, 2021) In a very Record Store Day move these three absurdly overpriced single LP, non gatefold records add collectible colored vinyl to these late 80s/early 90s rarity comps. They do not add any liner notes or explanations of the songs beyond recording year and city of recording. And they opt to not improve upon the inept CD cover designs (which I guess is historical and OK, but weird when you are paying like $40 for a record that looks like a truck stop bootleg). In a very me on Record Store Day move I bought them all. These feature dozens of genuinely weird, quirky, oddball rarities, with each Monkee presenting songs/singing/weirdness very typical of them, and that so many of these songs/takes did not make the cut for their bubblegum pop and TV excursions is an asset, not a flaw. i mean, they sing about a gnome! These are great and obviously coulda been greater, but more obviously did not need to be. And I guess the vinyl colors are pretty!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Willie Nelson "Island In The Sea"


(Columbia, 1987) Tastefully produced mostly by Willie (with three very slightly more popping tracks helmed by Booker T. Jones wrapping the record), this is a low key, mellow, and incredibly solid record from a year (heck, a decade) where many, many artists were betrayed by production and trends.The most outstanding achievement on here is one of the frequent re-recordings of his own 60s compositions that feels like it exceeds the original in quality. The at-risk-of-mawkishness child custody sing-talker "Little Things" was solid in 1968, but the tasteful, spare arrangement here and the seasoned vocals make this the best version. Also, there are no prevailing standards, philosophies, or quality control for Willie Nelson LP art, and this van art sleeve is definitely a step down from the cover of the album the originally hosted  "Little Things."



Thursday, September 2, 2021

Moms Mabley "live at the greek theater"

 

(Mercury, 1969) Moms is very funny on this, but it's relatively polished and audience is less raucous than on some of her earlier, more thrilling Chess records. But coming out the same year s her serious vocal LP this is elevated by having a fine funk song, and better yet, a straight novelty song, "Hide the Whiskey," featuring a weird in-song laugh track. I love Moms Mabley.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Willie Nelson "Born For Trouble"

(CBS, 1990) Willie's first LP of the 90s featured no Willie compositions, but it was pretty solid, especially because there's lots of upbeat stuff and a genuinely dumb honky tonker predicated on the wordplay, "I went to bed at 2 with a 10, and woke up at 10 with a 2." Enjoyable! There is no decade of Willie failure, just some that are great and some that are merely really good.

Monday, August 30, 2021

White Castle Veggie Slider


 (White Castle) The Impossible Burger at White Castle has been kinda bitter the last few times I got it. I am not vegan/vegetarian, I just like to mix it up, so I don;t have to take this as serious as some, but sorry to say the science of faking meat seems to have slipped.  On the other hand, the veggie slider has improved, and has embraced non-meatiness. There are just whole peas and carrots in this, and it tastes great.  Happy 100th White Castle.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Mad Magazine presents Up The Academy OST

(Capitol, 1980) This movie was supposed to be a high school version of National Lampoon's Animal House, except National Lampoon provided source material and creative and on camera talent for their movie and MAD provided a poster illustrator, permission to depict a statue of Alfred E. Neuman, and (eventually) $30K to remove the statue and MAD's name from the movie when it aired on TV so MAD's perennially soiled name would not get that soiled. Also, an R-rated movie attached to a magazine with a core readership whose enthusiasm and loyalty usually wane a couple years shy of R-movie age wasn't a genius movie move. That said, I know I went to see it and I was barely half old enough to get in. But I don't recall anything, not even any boobie scenes. This LP did not jar any memories, but it is pretty good. Mostly ringers (Blondie's "X-Offender," Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner," and even Hagar!) with prime real estate given to (brief) Bomp darlings Blow-Up and two cuts (released as a single) by an at par pop band called Cheeks that I don't think existed beyond this. According to IMDB King Coleman acted in this movie, so the soundtrack coulda been better, but considering multiple parties had their name removed from this mess, this is a pretty boss platter.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Johnny and the Hurricanes "s/t"

 

(Warwick, 1959) While I understand the "Otis, my man!" Animal House fantasy of being cool with the soul men on the beach party circuit, to me actually being at the party with these honking sax white boys with weird jackets and ties playing ranks only two notches below being at the party Rodney Dangerfield presides over in an 80s movie (though well above the Uncle Buck-crashed teen party).

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Willie Nelson "Laying My Burdens Down"

(RCA, 1970) This LP is perhaps most notable because Nelson does not embarrass himself at all playing around with Summer of Love-era flower generation balladry ("Where Do You Stand?" and "Minstrel Man," the former of which he composed), a man-of-all-the-people position to which he proved committed over the next half-Century. Bit I like it best for the soulful grooves of his original gospel-ish title track. This is just really good, as most of his pre-outlaw breakthrough albums prove to be when you track down the justly, but sadly, expensive LPs.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Eddie Arnold "Have Guitar Will Travel"

 

(RCA, 1959) I went thrifting in a Roswell, NM strip mall Salvation Army. I kind of wanted to get a record from 1947 that might have been spinning while aliens were (allegedly) crashing. But no way a 78 was gonna make it back to Chicago intact. The closest I got was a somewhat otherworldy Harmonicats 10" from 1950. This find barely even was even from the 1950s, those aliens were well-decomposed by the time this was purchased. But IT IS SO GOOD! That dude could just sing! And the theme is air travel, sort of (it is all US city songs like "Georgia On My Mind," with a great airport LP cover) so it is sort of space ship themed, in a way. And there were genuine weirdos in the thrift store. So i rate this record "Thrift Score!"

Friday, August 13, 2021

Bob's Red Mill Peanut Butter Jelly & Oats Bob's Bar

(Bobsredmill.com) Why is the Bob's Red Mill Peanut Butter Jelly &n Oats Bob's Bar like close-minded critics assessment of John Waters' early work? Tasteless!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Stoogemania

 

(Atlantic Entertainment, 1986) This bizarre film came to my attention when I looked into the career of Josh Mostel  (son of comedy legend Zero) whose role as an educator with a dark secret is a highlight  of Billy Madison. I was further intrigued upon learning that the obscure film featured Mousie Garner, an actual stooge of sorts (the Three Stooges have a long, complicated pre-and-post classic shorts-era history). I was certainly not disappointed upon finding the film, but it would be accurate, and appropriate, to say I was decidedly dumbfounded. The premise is that Howard (Mostel) is afflicted with a disorder called Stoogemania, which causes him to experience and manifest actual Stooges scenes (which we see, all from public domain Stooges shorts) which result in his life being plagued/blessed by surreal slapstick (including a popcorn tsunami and a human Frogger crossing the street sequence). His romance with a gal that finds him a hoot (played by Melanie Chartoff of Fridays) and the quest for approval by her haughty, though just shy of dowager-level, mother and father, lead him to try to conquer his affliction. He ends up in a very specific ghetto/funhouse/arcade awash in Stooge impersonators whose violence seems at least as dire as it is funny, all leading to his being institutionalized in a de-stooge-ifying rehab hospital where the medical staff (Sid Casesar is the diagnosing doc, Victoria Jackson is the off kilter nurse whose performance invokes industrial work harassment videos, nurse porn, and that Marvel Alice Cooper mental hospital comic book). Does it culminate in a wild, chaotic pie fight. Maybe, I can't really trust my senses as far as what I saw, this movie makes you feel like you have a disorder. But let me be perfectly clear, this is a positive review and throwing pies in stoogemaniacal joy has no relationship to throwing rotten tomatoes for any reason!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Old Style by Dmitri Samarov

 


(Pictures & Blather, 2021) This series of tavern-based vignettes and character studies and fucked up scenes with dim lights illuminating the unifying magic of a certain late night hour and level of inebriation where rich and poor, hipster and regular guy, old and young, all show their asses (sometimes literally). But unlike Dmitri's collections of cab driving vignettes and character studies and fucked up scenes with dim lights illuminating the unifying magic of a certain late night hour and level of inebriation where rich and poor, hipster and regular guy, old and young, all show their asses (sometimes literally), this is a novel. Because names have been minutely changed, and Dmitri is a character, not himself. And it is great. Is there an apposite of FOMO called something like GAFIWT (Glad As Fuck I Wasn't There), because reading about these bar shifts I am not envious. But I am intrigued. This is not romanticized or heroic like Bukowski (mainly because "Dmitri" is rarely interested in sinking to the depths of his cohort) but it's not the opposite of that either. And as an object this beautiful, generously illustrated book, is the perfect size and shape and you can take it anywhere! Even rehab!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky Hickory Mesquite Lime

 

(primalspiritfoods.com) Are they just making up flavors now, or have a missed a flavor?

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky Hickory Smoked

(primalspiritfood.com) This is hard to chew and stringy like real meat (though not exactly like real jerky), but it is also unnervingly moist, like no jerky ever. But the flavor is fine, and it is weirdly its own thing.

The Doors “R-Evolution”

 GUEST REVIEW BY GARY PIG GOLD

(Eagle Vision, 2013)

Now, whilst viewing, Gary suggests you pay particular attention to…

1.  The Doors as German (as in Astrid Kirchherr circa ’61-photographed) existentialist beat-group musicians, moodily half-lit and rockin’ in near darkness, for their delightfully low-budget “Break On Through” video from 1967. Nevertheless, making their television debut a mere eight weeks later, mimeing “live” to said song on Casey Kasem’s Shebang, J. Morrison seems so utterly stiff and scared he’d be fortunate to be taken for one of the Pre-fab, let alone actual Fab Four.  


2.  The late, often great Ray Manzarek, chatting with a surprisingly respectful Dick Clark between numbers (“Crystal Ship” and “Light My Fire”) on American Bandstand, already has mastered down pat his trademark gobbledygook interview style. And I quote: “Well, it’s impossible really to put a label on it because of where we are in the music being on the inside, you’re only of the music, and all categories have to come from the outside so, someone else is going to have to say what our music is, rather than us, because we are our music.” Dick wisely shifts immediately over to John Densmore. 


3.  Bringing things considerably back down to earth, The Doors – well, three of them (Robby’s brother Ron had to fill in for an AWOL Morrison for most of the footage) – climb aboard a beach blanket bikini-festooned antique fire engine for a Malibu U performance of, yes, “Light My Fire” which is absolutely one of the most ingenious clips this side of the Bonzos’ “Canyons Of Your Mind.” Most unfortunately though, Malibu dean Rick(y) Nelson’s post-song commentary is also absent. 


4.  As the camera pans semi-cinematically off a still-not-ready-for-prime-time Doors, unwanted down the uneven streets of Battery Park for a Murray the K (!) lip-sync of “People Are Strange,” we are suddenly confronted with an above-motley collection of pantyhose-headed characters direct from Beefheart’s Strictly Personal inner gatefold. Why these exact bystanders weren’t utilized further for the Strange Days cover shoot is a question for the ages …or at least for Elektra Records’ art department. (I guess no one remembered their names?)


5.  “Now I don’t want anybody to come unglued, but it’s GANGBUSTERS time!” So enthuses none other than Jonathan Winters as he welcomes The Doors, and “Moonlight Drive,” to guest on the Christmastime 1967 debut of his CBS Television variety show extravaganza. Far from surprisingly though, even the dry ice-clouded, sub-Star Trek …no, make that Lost in Space set, not to mention Jimbo’s quite ill-advised choice of John Kay-style Ray-Bans, can’t hope to compete with the ultimate born-to-be-wildness of Maude Frickert et al (…who, according to Messrs. Krieger and Densmore’s R-Evolution commentary track, kept the entire proceedings in stitches that whole day, even after the studio audience had long returned home to their leftover turkey and cranberries).  


6.  We are next whisked from the sublime to the ham-fisted for the band’s own “visceral film” …as in a friend with a 16mm spending $5,000 of Elektra’s money on the beach one afternoon to shoot, literally, “The Unknown Soldier.” They say it was the anti-war, extreme social commentary which scared even Canadian television from airing this naughty short subject back in the day. Personally, I think it had more to do with the sight of a dirty-jacketed Morrison being tied, Christ-like (by Ray’s girlfriend) (with a handful of colored twine) to some rotting old dock support, then vomiting up what appears to be a mix of cherry Jell-O and tomato juice over some strategically placed roses as he’s symbolically (?) executed. Or crucified. Or something. No wonder half of this band never made it out of UCLA Film School alive.


7.  Come Christmas of ’68, the Smothers Brothers – now there’s entertainers who know how to protest the Vietnam war on television! – present a festive, fully orchestrated “Touch Me,” complete with Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra and completely wailing sax solo by Curtis Amy. Jim has by now wisely left all Bigger-Than-Jesus aspirations behind and donned his iconic black leather pants and Elvis belt, with golden microphone and maracas to boot. But that’s not all! R-Evolution finally reveals the source, perhaps, of Robby’s great big shiner, which I admit has always intrigued me about this clip: John claims Robby was actually the victim of an en-route-to-Smothers car accident. No, wait! Maybe it was an altercation with some backstage, training-for-Altamont Hells Angel that caused the flaming black eye? Alright, John can’t remember. Robby has on other occasions put the cause a bit, uh, closer to home. Tommy and Dickie Smothers aren’t talking …and, for once, neither is Ray either.


8.  The more than obvious change – and not for the good – between the vividly hued recording studio footage of “Wild Child” (July 1969) and the drudgingly monochrome’d rehearsal footage of “Crawling King Snake” (just seventeen months later) shockingly demonstrates just how soft this band’s particular parade had become as Sixties turned Seventies, and pop/rock’s intelligentsia had duly moved on to all things Wishbone Ash and King Crimson. The “Wild Child” shoot, which almost managed to completely hide all signs of bassist Doug Lubahn, shows four enthused musicians a bit crusty, but still completely confident and supremely creative. On much the other hand however, even the most catatonic Let It Be footage of those Beatles, for instance, can be tons more fun to watch than the 1970 Doors (bassist du jour? no less than Jerry “TCB” Scheff, completely hidden) desperately trying to fulfill duties to label and lawyers before calling it a wrap as Jim escapes, permanently it turns out, to the other side. 


9.  Of course the post-Morrison Doors never were much to listen to, and despite all the MTV-era technological advances still aren’t much to watch either. Wholly late-night-cable caliber clips of “Gloria” (lotsa teasingly blood-red-nailed, slo-mo back-and-belt-scratching), “Strange Days” (featuring a boom-box-totin’ cameo by R. Manzarek) (not to mention cardboard cut-out Morrisons galore, I kid you not), “L.A. Woman” (wherein director Ray hires protégé John Doe to attempt his best John Densmore impersonation over Josef von Sternberg’s Hollywood Star) and “Ghost Song” (surviving Doors “re-unite” with their old singer via the wonders of nascent digital video and, as Robby still tries to explain it, extremely posthumous “poetry and jazz, kinda” from the American Prayer, um, album). You mean there wasn’t enough space left in this collection for more Malibu U out-takes ?!!  


10.  Which reminds me: Pay real close attention especially to the Bonus feature Love Thy Customer, a miraculous half-hour 1966 Ford Motor Marketing Institute training film with music by a moonlighting Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger. This is a band who may have once turned down the chance to license “Come on, Buick, Light My Fire” for commercial use, but it seems, on quite the sly, they cashed all the way in corporately nevertheless. A trend which, apparently, they continue to embrace to this very day …if the Official Cyber Doors Store with its “high-quality light-weight terry-lined hoodies with distressed Doors logo,” “Ladies’ Hello I Love You T-shirt,” “Doors Logo Beer Glass” or “Dusters California Doors Skateboard Collection” is of any indication whatsoever. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

George Kranz "Trommeltanz (Din Daa Daa)"


(Personal, 1983) This was such  a classic dance record in Chicago (and around the world) and at Whitney Young high school in Chicago there is an African choreography dance that the dance team has done for decades that is legendary, and the song re-peaks in popularity every few years. Yet I can't help feeling it has a joyful Dr. Demento novelty aspect to it. You can seriously dance to it, but the nonsense words and robotic music spurts and stops seem so fun and funny that I do not take it seriously in the pejorative sense of "serious." This is such  a good record that it makes me feel religious fervor, even if it is silly fervor. This is my gospel music!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis "Two Men with the Blues"

(Blue Note, 2008) I know some fine, smart music fans who do not Willie Nelson as a jazz singer doing covers, But they are fucking crazy. Nelson's phrasing and vocal timbre is magical. Sure, it's not his boldest stuff, and doing standards reduces his super power by cutting out his songwriting from the mix, but still, they are almost always great. Some of these same (seemingly hypothetical strawmen) folks also knock Marsalis at times for his sometimes conservative approach to traditional jazz, but screw them too. W & W getting together with a swinging combo and doing vocal and horn duets on jump and jazz and countrypolitan standards live at Lincoln Center is musical heaven. That they even get some Willie tunes in (including "Night Life") and that they clown on "Caldonia" and "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" with wonderful chemistry, and that Willie getting some Big Easy in his Texas is a welcome new strain makes this one of the Redd Headed Strangers best 21st Century LPs. And he has released over 40 (!) since 2000, so that's saying something!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Hub's, Hub's sketch



GUEST REVIEW BY JAKE AUSTEN 
(Real Life, 2021, NBC, 1993) In 1993 Robert Smigel created a skit for Saturday Night Live that recalled his days in Chicago and paid tribute to the 1970s Billy Goat Tavern "No Pepsi, Coke" sketches. It remains a minor classic for three great reasons: it is a relatively memorable sketch (Rob Schneider's "You like-a the juice" is a good enough catch phrase); it features an all star lineup being silly in a classic way (Sandler, Schneider, Farley [with Superfan-era Smigel thrown in] in dumb mustaches with dumb accents); and it's meta-ending, where they admit the sketch is too long and pointless was notable. They also wisely only did it twice, to my knowledge, the weaker second version involving a visit to Mt. Olympus to get more gyros juice (Kevin Kline cannot get the timing of the catchphrase down, and ,insanely, they forego using the line, "You like-a the Zeus?"). Anyhoo, last night my son and I went to actual Hubs, in part to see the ugly weird paintings of the sketch (of which they oddly chose to quote the second sketch, in which the rancid juice necessitates the Mt. Olympus trip meaning comedy legends are immortalized saying customers "no lika da juice" at Hubs, instead of the original sketch's endorsement of their product). We also ate everything they mention in the sketches, including an OK gyros sandwich (certainly not the most flavorful in town), some fine fried mushrooms, solid french fries, and of course, extra juice. And, of course, in my experience, there is no such thing as extra juice that anyone serves with gyros, only with Italian Beef, so we were dipping gyros in au jus and it was great. The Olympics (not from Greece this year, but still Greece-centric in theory) were on and the USA had a track triumph. I like-a the experience!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Tony La Russa

 


(whitesox.com) People really wanted to hate Tony La Russa when he got hired to manage the White Sox, mainly because he is old as hell. That seems like a shitty reason to dismiss him. He definitely drove drunk at least once and he certainly did not stop some of his players from steroid-ing up in the late 80s/early 90s, though no one else did, either. That his players took more seems immaterial. Some folks think he is racist, which he may be, who knows, and the thing he has done this year that I hate the most is using the "no racist bone" line is a presser. Don't invent a bone to defend yourself! But to me the loudest critiques when he was hired seemed to be super racist. How could young Black players like Tim Anderson relate to this old White man?, many asked. As if Anderson (at the time the only American-born Black player on the roster, La Russa has added and regularly played two more) was some kind of undisciplined hip hop wildman that did not know what a coach was. Anderson has the highest batting average in the league since 2019 and is as disciplined and mature as anyone; wearing nice sneakers and listening to hip hop does not change that. The two things the White Sox, with all their talent, needed in a manager was a Spanish speaker (check) and someone who would not fuck things up. I guess La Russa possibly lost one game this year because he (and many others) did not know a new complicated rule for extra inning ghost runner substitutions in the case of a pitcher being placed on 2nd automatically to start the 10th. People also act like he ruined Yermin Mercedes because he criticized him for something not unreasonable (nor was Yermin doing something unreasonable humiliating a fake pitcher with a big homer). Well, the Sox won April because La Russa put Yermin as an opening day starter when no other manager in the league woulda done that. The team had a bizarrely challenging injury onslaught this season and La Russa has helped some ragtag lineups win a lot of games, so I'm all in. Just take Ubers when you drink and don't say anything racist out loud and you are a Hall of Famer baseball person in my book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Pringles Wendy's Spicy Chicken

 

(Pringles.com) Not so hot. I don't mean not good, just not particularly spicy. This has poultry seasoning flavor but nothing distinctly Wendy's-ish (no mayo profile, not to mention tomato, which is a reasonable expectation, or lettuce, which I get that you can't do). And Pringles dude is acting like this is hot AF on the package, and it ain't. Loosen the bowtie dude, you are doing too much.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Marvin Gaye "More Trouble"




(Motown, 2020) I was kind of expecting this to be like the 2019 "You're the Man" release, where instead of presenting an outtakes/rarities comp this would be presented as a self-contained album that could have been released at the time. It turns out this extra material from the Trouble Man sessions cannot quite carry that load, but I did listen to this fifty times. There are really only a few songs here being repeated in alternate take sor edits, but they sure are good. The best thing here is the "worst" thing here, a rather lo fi vocals sketch with Gaye dueting his high voice against his low voice. I have never seen the movie, but this soundtrack is probably Top 5 Black action movie 70s soundtracks (a VERY competitive field), and the more I hear of it the more I believe that.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

M&M's Mix


 (mms.com) C'mon, this isn't even trying. This is just throwing leftovers in a box.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Frida Kahlo Timeless exhibit/catalogue


(CCMA 2021) This exhibit, held kind of insanely at the College of Dupage's art museum, has been criticized because the town did a bunch of Frida Fever weird things, and because possibly the auxiliary parts of the exhibit (including the children's area, complete with a docent in Frida drag and one of those things where your stick your faces into Frida and Diego's cutout picture) seem weird. While I actually think the curatorship and even the family activities at the museum seem pretty deftly executed, and have no comment on the Frida-fying of an affluent suburb, the actual art on display here is incredible and eye opening. The exhibit opens with an historical context section that walks you through Kahlo's life and career with recreations of her outfits and her bed in which she was confined so often and some actual artifacts and archival magazines in which she appeared, and the most eye opening parts of this were examples of Mexican popular art that really informs and contextualizes some of her work. But the heart of the exhibit, the paintings and drawings, are so wild and varied and special that it is revelatory even to super fans. There is one with a spider web rendered so magnificently that it is hard not to be floored. There are sketches and studies of women that capture magnificent beauty with profoundly lusty appreciation. There is a painting of a dead child that can be stared at for eternity. There is genuine surreal insanity. I loved seeing this, and anyone who reduces Kahlo to the greatest purveyor of pain or to a fashion genius will have their opinions expanded. If you can't make it the catalogue does a great job presenting the works.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Deception by Selena Montgomery

(Avon, 2009) Stacy Abrams saved America and might have to do it again and the least we can do is read her books. But it ain't easy. I read some detective books, which appaently are not that different than romance books, except the cold, objectifying, cringey sex scenes in most detective books still seems more romantic than the few dirty parts of this romance book, and there are descriptions of kissing here that make me never want to kiss again. Still, this is corny and fun and wild and campy in so many ways and she saved you, so read it!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Aretha Franklin "Oh Me Oh My: Aretha in Philly, 1972 Live"

(Atlantic/Rhino, 2009, 2021) I guess this was a CD a while back but I'm a vinyl goon so I never considered listening to it, and that's on my dumb ass. This performance at the National Association of TV and Radio Announcers convention, a Black broadcasters organization, is a pristine, flawless performance. The big, fancy band definitely had some ideas (or went along with Franklins') about making these hits almost jarringly uptempo (though always soulful, just speedily so). And obviously in 1972 her voice could not be better. And you really hear that he most on the closing gospel number which is astounding. Obviously, we should all listen to Aretha sing at any opportunity we have so please listen to this.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Karen O & Willie Nelson "Under Pressure"

(BMG, 2021) Willie Nelson's voice imbuing Queen lyrics with more weight and humanity than you can imagine, and Karen O thrown in for greatness, means this overpriced one-sided single was worth the overprice!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Fruity Cereal Kit Kat


(Hershey) An absolute triumph in that I did not realize fruity cereal was so distinct a flavor and I did not know it could be captured so well and who thought it would work perfectly as a crispy candy bar? And I cannot think of any reason I would want to eat another one of these again. But it's a winner!

Monday, July 26, 2021

STYX "Crash of the Crown"

(Universal, 2021) I have been a loud, proud proponent advocating for the greatness of contemporary STYX, as the veteran members seem to be a full power and the replacement members are fabulous (or scab-ulous, depending on your Dennis loyalty). And theor last space-themed album was really strong, and even the recent EP of live classics and odds and ends hinted at top quality. So I am sorry to say that new album is, to my ears, a bore and a chore. To be fair, it is executed well and sounds exactly how they want it to sound and there are going to be many fans of kind of dry, technically proficient semi-prog that will be thrilled with this, but to me it had no life and wasdifficult to get through. I would still go see this powerful band in a heartbeat, but in the year of new White Sox glory, this is one South Side institution that did not bring it.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Champignon Mushroom Snack

 

(Trader Joe's) I believe in the past I have referred to Trader Joe's as purveyors of snack porn, but I think it woould be more accurate to say that they positioned themselves to be the headquarters of stoned shoppers in the age of legalized weed, with scores upon scores of snacks meticulously crafted to appeal to munchies/altered mind sensibilities. Around these parts mushroom consumption seems on the uptick, and I feel these genuinely delicious treats may be a declaration that TJs is ready to take on a whole new headspace of snackers!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Dark Chocolate Drizzled Plantain Chips

 


(Trader Joe's) That's just too much going on.

Willie Nelson: American Outlaw All Star Concert Celebration


(Blackbird, 2020) This is a Willie tribute/85th birthday party concert, with Don Was leading the music. For some folks this entire thing must be magical, but I don't have huge investments in MargoPrice, Chris Stapleton, Avett Bros, Tedeschi and/or Trucks,  but still appreciate how much they appreciate Willie. Everyone does fine on this thing (even Dave Matthews...even Jack Johnson singing a song he write about Willie) but the real treat is around a dozen tracks with Willie on them. Is there anything I want to hear more than Willie and George Strait sing "Good Hearted Woman?" Not really, and it was decent, if not thrilling. Willie and Emmylou have great chemistry, and Willie and Jimmy Buffett singing Jimmy Cliff is probably almost as good as Willie and Jimmie Cliff singing Jimmy Buffet (we will have to wait for 90th B-day for that one). With Willie songs you can't lose, and with his seasoned voice and the tangible sense of camaraderie he brings to all collaborations this is obviously worth a listen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Love "Everybody's Gotta Live" EP


(High Moon, 2021) This is a small batch of bluesy outtakes, alternate takes, and one track from the 1974 "Reel to Real" LP, which is not a particularly known, coveted, or beloved release, but these Arthur Lee grooves made me go back and take another enjoyable listen. Damn, it's bluesy in here!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Beastie Boys "Aglio E Olio"


 (Grand Royal/Universal, 1995/2021) This Record Store Day reissue of this 1995 7" blpown up to an expensive 12" by adding 5 mkinutes of incongruous bonus tracks is still OK. Mid-90s hardcore not as funny as their 80s hardcore which was not good enough for them to remain hardcore is fun but not essential, and adding the Cibo Matto lady's pretty Doors cover just confises matters, which is not a bad flex.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate Revel Berry

 (Guayaki.com) I am not even sure what this is. When there are a lot of words in some new drink's name and it's not obviously an energy drink that looks like drinkable Axe Body Spray and there's some health phrases thrown in I assume it's some nasty tasting kombucha. But this, upon drinking and still being confused, seems to be some nasty tasting tea of some sort. It tastes nasty.