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.