Monday, May 31, 2021

Doritos 3D


(Frito Lay) 

Draft 1: Hey Doritos 3D - Bugles called, they want their chip shape, general flavor profile, and mouthfeel back!

Draft 2: Hey Doritos 3d - Bugles bugled, they want their chip shape, general flavor profile, and mouthfeel back!

Draft 3: This seems a lot like Bugles.

Sunday, May 30, 2021



(Trailervision, 2003) I am hesitant to call this the worst movie I have ever seen as that might intrigue people to watch it. But I believe it is. Just an awful, pointless, confused, ugly, punishing collection of quotes about nothing by non-experts and man on the street interviews about nothing all while horrible, irritating music ruins everything and a visual cacophony of uninteresting footage that means nothing is vomited on screen. To paraphrase a film featuring Adam Sandler (who appears in shitty found footage for a second or two), At no point in this rambling, incoherent film was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone is now dumber for having watched it.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Lanterna "Hidden Drives"

 (Badman) To me these pretty instrumentals are the audio equivalent to a soft color, morphing screen saver that I wouldn't notice. So I assume these are not directed to me.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Steve Dawson "at the bottom of a canyon in the branches of a tree"

(Pravda, 2021) I don't know if Steve is related to Richard Dawson, but I do know that, much like Richard's M.O., these 70s California-style sweet Americana nuggets make me want to kiss him on the lips!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

George Jones "First In The Heart of Country Music Lovers"

(RCA, 1972) Not the best George Jones record, but George Jones records are like pizza and sex...even when it's bad it's good! Except there's Domino's and sexual assault, so that  saying is meaningless, and this record is not bad at all, just a little bit along the lines of elevating Porter Waggoner B-material with the best singing and picking you could ever want. So better than pizza and sex in some ways.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Keiler Roberts "My Begging Chart"

(Drawn & Quarterly, 2021) Roberts is one of the funniest, best cartoonists in Chicagoland, and has been for a long time. Her vignettes about her honest, cutting, absurd takes on mundane day to day family stuff is just a rich joy to experience. The only reason she does not have a full room at the MCA's new exhibit on Chicago comics is that the museum is defining art as "visual art," and Roberts' expressive, yet simple and diagramatic artwork might not jump out when framed on a gallery wall, but as comics- married with perfect words, powerful funny, and honest emotional expression attached, these are perfect drawings. This book is good.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Benjamin Jayne "Theater"

(, 2021) Somber much? JK everybody, this is great, and if history had not already burnished memories of Karen Carpenter with a patina of deep sadness this brother-sister act would be the Carpenters of Misery...if you played the Carpenters records at a slow speed so Karen sounded like sexy Lurch.  

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sid Yiddish & the Candy Store Henchmen "Until Further Notice Every Day Seems Like Sunday"

(2021) Sid is a masked experimental theoretically-prolific outsider beautiful noise maker. This sounds like a cartoon orchestra tuning up for an hour. I Yid you not!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Gordon Thomas "Brown Baby"

 (Samoht, 1985ish) Obviously rock n roll has little meritocracy involved, so when a band you like doesn't hit the big time there's no surprise. But when a deserving ac can't even hit outsider artist novelty minor cult status something is wrong with this system! A few years back Thomas, a veteran Harlem jazz fringe figure who made a series of strange but groovy private press releases in the early 80s, had a seeming moment. A documentary was produced on him, he was mentioned in Irwin Chusid's "Songs in the Key of Z" book, he was even on Chic-A-Go-Go. But somehow his records are still available at $5-$20, and there is no chatter about him online, and the lead single from this LP has less than 200 views on Youtube. I hope he is still with us, but I wouldn't know, because he fell back into the cracks after he should have gained Daniel Johnston-ish fame! Not demented enough for Dr. Demento, and not mentally ill enough to laugh at like Wesley was, this album instead offers warm, sincere, off kilter (and sung off time and key) takes on life, love, and getting by. So get and buy while it's still dirt cheap, you will not be sorry.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Doug Clark & His Hot Nuts "Rush Week"


(Gross, 1964) Had I been around in 1964 I probably would not have been a student at a Beach Music circuit college, so I would not have been the main audience for these awkward PG-13 rated dirty jokes set to semi swinging R&B. But I definitely would have played this record more than "Meet the Beatles."

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime TPB

 (DC, 2013) This 1975-76 series was something I loved as a kid and re-reading it now I can see why. The 1970s fandom-influenced writers like Denny O'Neil and Eliot S. Maggin were bringing new voices and sensibilities but also were working within the DC framework of continuity-adverse, decidedly dumb storytelling and conventions. With a project like this -- the Joker and his goofy gang teaming with/or opposing guest villains and heroes while perpetrating ridiculous, absurdist campy crimes (while still murdering people with his Joker gas) -- what you get is not a New Age of Comics, but the dumb old age of comics done just a little bit better in a way that makes the silliness more tantalizing. Why would Joker care about Willie the Weeper, the crying crime lord? Because it would be a fun story! Why would his sense of humor get brain swapped with Lex Luthor's stern cerebralism? Because this is comic book! Why would an actor who portrays Sherlock Holmes become Sherlock  Holmes to have a golf club sword fight with Joker and crack the case of the Hamburger King? I don't know, but I'm glad he did! This Joker's wild! Which is a joke made many times in this collection.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Grace Jones "Fame"

(Island, 1978) The contemporary take that 70s anti-Disco sentiment was all homophobic and racist carries some weight, in that many 70s anti-Disco people were racist homophobes, but that doesn't mean the reason they hated disco was because of their sicknesses. When club dance music got commodified and mainstreamed there were really low-quality things that happened. The flood of soulless, overly orchestrated, cookie cutter records that came out literally pushed other records out of stores. That the Stones, KISS, and other rock stars did disco-influenced tracks to cash in on a trend (or in the case of the Bee Gees, embraced new production techniques and styles as an extension of the craftsmanship) certainly irked a lot of rock fans. But f-word, some of the records were bad! And the fact that Grace Jones' early disco records are so bland and boring and lifeless feels racist and homophobic! How could anyone working this amazing artist not recognize how special she is and how important it is to make music that addresses and breaks accepted views of race and sexuality. Thank Grace Jones that this glitch in the matrix was fixed soon after and she began making the best records ever. But it is hard to hear why she is special on this placid platter.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021

Milky Way Salted Caramel

(Mars Wrigley) Milky Way is a respectable candy in that it is not quite good enough, but is dependable in its disappointingness. By successfully adding some better flavor this variation makes a stalwart candy decidedly less disappointing!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Drumstick Cereal


(General Mills) Just terrible. One of the most powerful cereals I have ever encountered, in that it made me genuinely sad to eat these.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Kit Kat Key Lime Pie

 (Hersheys) Science has figured out the exact chemicals that make a Kit Kat bar taste convincingly like a slice of Key Lime Pie and you are questioning vaccines? Getthefuckouttahere, science rules!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Snickers White


(Mars Wrigley) So I guess this is special because of the white chocolate (with mostly other regular Snickers stuff inside, i think) but I honestly can't tell you how it tastes because it is .45 ounces smaller than a regular Snickers and that is so disconcerting and insane that my taste sensors were drowned out by how wrong it felt in my hand, how I was biting something too skinny, and, I swear, even during chewing it felt like I could tell this was wrong. A tiny funsize is a thing and a King Size prepares you for the majesty of excess volume, but apparently .45 ounces is the exact figure to enter an uncanny valley of candy mis-sizing. Also contains this phrase on the wrapper: "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering." But I can live with that, it's the weirdo size thing...are they trying to claim that white chocolate is some valuable truffle-expensive ingredient that can't be stretched over a regular Snicker nut-skeleton? Is the genetic engineering so costly they couldn't afford to make this the size of a chocolate bar? This is a candy disaster.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

YumEarth Organic Bop


(Yumearth) Noticably, but not profoundly, worse than non-organic, GMO-abundant lollipops. So that's a win! Though my kids actually wont eat these. Made in Mexico and Kosher, so two more wins, and two more Ls for my picky kids.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Toggi Wafers


( Obviously the very odd, heroic woman working (often seemingly by herself) the 3AM Walgreens shift is not someone whose tastemaking I should allow to blindly re-make mine. When there are co-workers around I have heard her say some crazy, crazy-assed shit. Plus, that shift, where 71-84% of customers seem to be losing one or more fights to some form of addiction, including a few mentally ill stragglers who basically move in for the night on occasion, is enough to push anyone to the brink of not knowing ass from elbow. But she was enthusing so hard on this candy bar, and despite the fact that is is so big and was so cheap and was parked in the reject lane bordering the queue where they try to get stupid people to impulse buy alcohol wipes with pictures of emojis printed on them and chargers for iphone 3s, I felt, essentially, I owed this essential worker at least enough to commit to trying the candy she loved. Granted, her analysis was not sublime ("I think it's the wafers that are good, but you know, it's chocolate!") but a 99 cent candy as big as a TV remote is worth a try. Well, it was not terrible, but it definitely tastes off. Not like it was turning bad, or like Europeans have different palettes, but like someone in the wafer factory was bad at math and they just made this wrong. But not so wrong as to be inedible. But not right. However, if they make this hero happy, god bless Toggi!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Johnny Thunders "Official Tape Archive D.T.K. Live From Zurich 1985"

(ChunkletIn 1985, Johnny's career was on a high note. He'd released a fine solo album, ''Que Sera Sera," and was touring all over the world with it, even Russia. He had a strong rhythm section in Keith Yon and Tony St. Helene (who later played with Keith Richards.) and, on a good night, he still had the spark. This live radio set finds Johnny in solid form, not slurring, with his eyes on the prize. He's rockin' as good as he did with Heartbreakers, even without Walter Lure for a safety net. Set opener, "Blame it on Mom" explodes with righteous fury. "MIA" roars like a lion, and "Personality Crisis" hits the listener with a one-two punch. Johnny sounds focused, but savage as ever. The same goes for "Countdown Love" and the charmingly titled "Little Bit of Whore (In Every Girl)", ''EVEN YER MUTHER, EVEN THE VIRGIN MUTHER, EVEN YEW MUTHAFUCKAS!!" It wouldn't be Johnny without the occasional F-Bomb. The first five songs are killers, but this whole album was not recorded at the same time. The remainder of the LP appears to be circa '89-'90, with The Oddballs, his last backing band, playing at a nightclub in Zurich. Singer Alison Gordy and saxophone player Jamie Heath were not, to my knowledge, working with Johnny as early as 1985. They're good performances, but the band sounds more off the cuff, though. Johnny's vocals show remarkable growth, he was singing with more of a Bluesey growl in the late 80's (the one saving grace of a dismal set in Chicago in '89, where he barely touched his guitar), and his guitar playing still sounds good. The weeper, "Disappointed in You," is considerably rocked up from it's acoustic beginnings. An unrepentant Thunders proclaims, "I'M BACK ON MY FEET, I BEAT THE ODDS ! HA HA HA HA!!". One of my favorite solo Johnny songs, "Just Another Girl," an MC5 Cha-Cha-Cha, isn't the best version I've heard, but it's good. Likewise for the "Too Much Business "/ 'Pills"  medley. I've heard better and I've heard worse. Johnny's Version of "Wipeout" always lacked the personal touch of his iconic version of "Pipeline." It's all right, just nothing to write home about.''Born To Lose" contains some of the best, most fluid lead guitar work on this set. All in all, this album comes recommended to collectors, the sound quality is very good, and it works as a whole. But I'm writing this review under the influence. Of pizza. Johnny would have wanted it that way.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Willie Nelson "That's Life"

(Sony, 2021) Willie Nelson puts out an album or two a year and they are all somehow great. This is his second Sinatra tribute, and his voice, while as reserved and subtle and nuanced as always, incredibly seems more robust than the last Sinatra tribute, even as he is eyeballing nonagenarianism. I keep waiting for the some kind of extra fragility to emanate from his veteran vocal cords, confident that he will work that with beautiful, soulful technique the way Little Jimmy Scott did in his latter years, but it just ain't happening, so I need to stop waiting. The cover (by Paul Mann) resembles the Sinatra-era painty painting illustrations of George Bartell or Jim Jonson, and it's definitely his best cover art in decades.  "Nice Work If You Can Get It" is great, "I've Got You Under My Skin" is fun, and his Diana Krall duet is nice. Red Headed Stranger captures Old Blue Eyes' ease and natural delivery but does not tackle the underlying pathos of Frank at his best. But that's 2021 some swing is not a bad thing.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sha Na Na "Hot Sox"

(Kama Sutra, 1974) Despite being on a bubblegum label and having slick production, Sha Na Na never could figure out the great glam approach to 50s material that the 70s Brit nostalgia groups hit upon, and this is mostly just OK 50s covers that are neither authentically old sounding or excitingly new sounding. But the original title cut, with Bowser clowning/talk-singing about the new fad of wearing colorful socks instead of shoes (Donny Osmond also did a lot of colorful socks bits...the 70s!) is Novelty Bronze (not gold, but if you squint, maybe)! And you know what some hot Sox are? The 2021 White Sox, first place BABY!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Mickey Katz "Sing Along with Mickele"


(Capitol, 1962) The cover is a pretty funny parody of a "Sing Along with Mitch" LP, with Mickey, the Yiddish Weird Al, making a face funnier than Joel Grey's best Muppet Show sketch. But this is a non-parody album, with Mitch actually leading earnest sing-a-longs of Jewish classics, including such Passover hits as "Da-Yei-Nu." But I suppose if he had just made a funny face on the cover it would have been enough. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Wanda Jackson "salutes the Country Music Hall of Fame"

(Capitol, 1966) Rockinest Country singer. Best songs ever written (at the time, Willie and Dolly were not enshrined yet). Duh! Listening to this all day is productive.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Masqueraders "Everybody Wanna Live On"

(Hot Buttered Soul, 1975) I love the Masqueraders because I met them busking in Memphis, had them on Chic-A-Go-Go, arranged for the Dept. of Cultural Affairs to bring them to Chicago for an amazing concert, and because they actually wore masks for a while! But I knew their following two LPs and their 60s singles, and somehow overlooked this gem. Despite settling in Memphis, and being the only group other than Ike I have ever seen on Isaac Hayes' label, they were not a gritty, funky, Southern soul group, they were a sweet harmony soul act, with an amazing lead vocalist (Lee Hatim) and a more Philly sound than you would expect from a Hayes-produced record. This is a warm, comforting hug of an LP. "Traveling Man" is so good, and the title track is a grand, great theatrical statement. This album may be the most buttery of any on Hot Buttered Soul!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Twin Snakes


(Haribo) I have been eating these conjoined snake gummis for a long time without realizing that one snake was supposedly sweet and one supposedly sour. They taste pretty close to most Haribos, meaning damn good, but I mainly appreciated that these connected snakes were actually twins, siblings working together to bring joy to candy eaters. This is a family candy! And a snake candy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tcho Dark Milk Chocoalte


( Dark chocolate is wonderful because it answers the classic question, "Can something taste like chocolate yet taste terrible at the same time?" Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is the simple son whose unquestionable deliciousness begs no such question. So what if you mixed milk chocolate with dark chocolate? What would happen? Is that even possible? Well the tchentlemen at Tcho have answered that mystery for us, and the result is unsurprising: it's half good!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Saturday, May 1, 2021



(The Universe) I hate Mondays.


 (INFINITE self esteem, 2021) This is my preface to this magnificent book. All first editions come with a poster featuring all of the excised punctuation:

Celebrating The Great Gatsby’s entry in the public domain, Derek Erdman has transformed America’s most American literary classic into…something (and I don’t take the prior sentence’s ellipsis for granted after spending my morning reading dozens of pages of text that is without punctuation, paragraph break-free, in All Caps, single-spaced, and justified [nor do I take lightly opportunities to utilize an Oxford comma and inter-parenthetical brackets {though I should note that Mr. Erdman surprisingly did not omit italics}]). 

While this work seems to fall more purely into the Batman-villain realm of prankster project than into the high art transmogrification lane (less Rauscheberg’s erasing de Kooning and more “All Star by Smash Mouth but it gets 15% faster every time he says “the””), I feel the artist may underestimate what he has created here. “(D)on’t read that thing!,” he responded when I requested the full text in advance of composing this preface, “You're going to loop your brain!” Clearly Erdman sees this more like “Nyan Cat 10 HOURS,” a work to conceptually admire, but not to ingest in whole. And in keeping with the Youtube theme, admittedly I entered this endeavor wishing my head had a 15% faster modification to get through this more easily. However, it actually proved a brisk, if semi-comprehensible, read.  Being liberated from the tyranny of being able to know what the fuck is going on freed my inner Evelyn Wood. While many people actually know Hebrew, and others truly learn it for their Bar (or Bat [or Bas, if you’re Ashkenazi]) Mitzvah, for many American Jews who reach a Baker’s Dozen age, the experience involves learning just enough of an ancient written language to be able to phonetically sing your way though a few minutes of text without really understanding the words at all. For much of this book Erdman manages to make a revered tour de force of English-language literature seem like a mysterious set of symbols and inner-head sounds that have little or no meaning to the reader.  

However, it is a tribute to Fitzgerald’s craftsmanship that narrative and nuance sometimes survive this Formategeddon. When a turn of phrase breaks through this bastardization to jump out and tickle the reader (as does “the burden of the banjo,” or to be more accurate, THE BURDEN OF THE BANJO) it is a genuine triumph. I would even argue that the chaos and jumble and pre-COVID human density of the infamous party scene is actually enhanced by this word salad (bringing to mind the pandemonious late acts in Robert Coover’s metafiction masterpieces).

Ultimately, despite Erdman’s warning, my eyes ached a bit, but my brain is no more looped than on average. Easy on my eyes were Erdman’s illustrations, with rich, textured crayon line work that may not be perfectly period appropriate, but certainly called to mind Richard Merkin’s late-20th Century New Yorker illustrations, that recalled jazz age dandyism, making Erdman’s revival of a revival the more virile Stray Cats’ 80s’ version of the 50s to Merkin’s Fonzie’s 70s’ 50s. Overall, this work can be summarized in one ellipsis preceded word…GREAT