Posted by: Jamie | December 2, 2014

Top 5 of 2014 – Jamie’s Favorite Music of the Year

Gather round children, take a knee and perk up your ear-balls. Uncle Jamie has some thoughts to share regarding recorded music from the year 2014. After careful thought, some applied science, basic math skills and a few shots of Fireball – I present to you my Best of list for the year in hopes that nothing comes out in the next month that will totally screw up this list.

1. Beck – Morning Phase 81coqLBpCWL._SL1400_

Pure California folk, this record was a balm i didn’t even know my soul needed until i dropped the needle. Not only is this my favorite album of the year, it might even be my favorite Beck record – and that’s saying a lot. Everybody likes “Party” Beck with his two turntables and a microphone, but sensitive-acoustic-guitar Beck is the guy I wanna hang out with on the regular. This album is just chocked full of beautiful melodies, spacious clean tones and a much more interesting palette of lyrical imagery than it’s often compared doppleganger “Sea Change”. Standout tracks include “Heart is A Drum”, “Don’t Let It Go”, “Blackbird Chain” and “Country Down”. Honestly, i put Side B on the turntable and let it stay there for days. A classic for the ages that i fervently believe will be praised 20 years from now. Staying power, baby.

2. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to LeaveThe_Twilight_Sad_-_Nobody_Wants_to_Be_Here_and_Nobody_Wants_to_Leave

This band wasn’t even on my radar until I walked into my local record shop on the day of its release and it was being blasted on their in store speakers. It sounded familiar, but still fresh. A lot like when I first stumbled onto Interpol’s debut many years ago. This Scottish band seems to pick up the torch of the post punk era of decades past, but forges on into new frontiers and attitudes. It’s stark, emotionally complex and sexy. How rock n’ roll should be. Standout tracks: “There’s a Girl in the Corner”, “Drown So I Can Watch” and “I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want”.

3. Rivulets – I Remember Everything

Rivulets-I_Remember_Everything1Nathan Amundson is indirectly responsible for a lot in my own music career. Through him I discovered Silber Records (who would sign me in 2002) and he graciously allowed me to cover one of his songs on my first record when i was but a wee pup. I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with him on numerous occasion. He also was the conduit to which i would be exposed to a slew of minimalistic artists that would help shape my creative approach. Naturally, I get excited when he puts out anything new. After a quietly consistent catalog of strong efforts, “I Remember Everything” might be his most ambitious, loudest but yet most brutally authentic yet. This record manages to balance the beam of self loathing and simple hope. It glides like a graceful hawk over a damn canyon, man. Not even trying to be cute. If you are looking for a piece of work that will help you transcend – you won’t need to go any further than two songs into this beauty. Standout tracks: “Into the Night”, “My Favorite Drug is Sleep” and “I Was Once a Handsome Man”.


4. The War on Drugs – Lost in The Dream

Thank God that someone is still making good guitar records. Needing some sleek and pretty six string tones in your life, then look no further than this release. Probably the best road trip album in the list, this one has both pays homage to great rock records of the past without sounding too much like it’s wearing its influences on the front of its lapel. Standout tracks: “Under the Pressure”, “Red Eyes” and “Suffering”. In promotion for the record, the bad recently scorched the faces of everyone that tuned into Letterman’s show. Check it out.

5. Warpaint – Warpaint


…and thank God there are still indie girl groups cranking it up. It seemed that long gone were the days of L7, The Breeders, Slant 6 and cool ladies punching out such volume and attitude. Then the Spice Girls thing happened, which led to Pussycat Dolls, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda,  and somehow we ended up with seemingly a lot less girl rockers on the scene. Enter Warpaint who has been hacking it for over a decade now and giving us this self-titled gem that’s moody, bold and a ton of fun. I had the privilege of seeing them roll into my hometown in support of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – which is a tough crowd to please. The band seemed a bit detached ( in direct contrast to an in-your-face-Cave) but still effortlessly cool as they banged out tunes from this new offering. I dig it. A great after-party LP when most of the loud folks are passed out, the lights are dim and you’ve got your eye out for the perfect chill conversation to cap the night off with. Standout tracks: “Keep it Healthy”, “Love is To Die” and “Disco/Very”.  Check out this promo video which helps me hold on to the desperate belief the spirit of the 90’s is alive and well. Hit play and dance your face off.

5 Tracks of 2014 that demand an immediate download

(I’ve included links to promotional videos so you can test and see that i’m telling you the truth)

1. Damien Jurado – “Silver Timothy

2. Broncho – “Class Historian

3. Ariel Pink – “Put Your Number in My Phone

4. David Bowie – “Sue (Or In A Season of Crime)

5. Alt-J – “Every Other Freckle

Posted by: Jamie | June 13, 2014

Greatest Years in Pop Music: 1994

Every generation says it at some point: “Music isn’t what it used to be”. Nostalgia often wins out over objectiveness or perhaps we just grow lazy in our searches for new stimulus. The truth is that good art is always out there. Some years you just have to dig deeper to find it. Other years, well, the gold rises to the top at the slightest shifting of the earth. Creativity bubbles over and it seems there is a never-ending supply of sweet, sweet aural honey. 1994 was unequivocally one of those years. It was the year “Alternative Music” went mainstream. It was the year we returned to Woodstock. It was the year of MTV2 where underground music videos (what are those?) got their due. It was the year we lost Kurt. It was one of the final years of good radio before the corporate giants swooped in and pissed all over the airwaves.

Looking back 20 years (holy schtuff, I’m old), let’s recount some of the great pop albums from a time that was pregnant with fresh sound. This isn’t a Top 10 list or meant to be exhaustive by any means. It would be hard to document everything that came out of the studios that year. This is simply my tribute to a year that was formative to me as musician and as a rabid fan of pop music. I had a newly acquired Fender Stratocastor, a not-so-great band that called ourselves “51 Pegasus” and a huge appetite for new sounds. 1994 had a pantry full of goodies.


In ’94, we were introduced to:


Beck – Mellow Gold

(Released 3/1/94 on DGC Records)

Mellow Gold was our inaugural handshake with a sonic genius. Though not his finest record, this served as the foundational building block for a unique career. “Loser” seemed to come out of nowhere with its’ slack-jawed, white boy rap flow and folky dobro slide riff. It was a weird marriage of styles and all of us wanted to dance at the reception. A few years later would come such efforts as “Odelay”, “Mutations” and “Sea Change” that were both miles apart from each other in style & focus, but singular in their brilliance and quality.


grace1Jeff Buckley – Grace

(Released 8/23/94 on Columbia Records)

Looking at how Beck’s career unfolded makes us longingly ache for what could have been for the son of 70’s folk icon Tim Buckley. Jeff’s voice was as authentic as it was acrobatic. Unpretentiously passionate and effortlessly cool, this record will always stand up as an emphatic statement of arrival. It’s just a damn shame the party ended so soon, as Jeff tragically drowned while swimming in the Mississippi River in Spring of ’97 while in the middle of recording his follow up to this stellar debut. Standout tracks include “Mojo Pin”, “Last Goodbye”, “So Real” and perhaps best known for the cover to end all covers, his sanctified take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Note to all performers out there: STOP covering this song. Buckley did it best and you can’t out-Buckley him. Quit it. Now. Second side note: Though most remembered for his daring vocal range, Buckley was a fierce guitar player. Some of the chord structures in his songs are puzzling, but work. The guitar solo on “So Real” is one of my favorites because it’s basically just frustrated, cacophonous feedback.

1820251-portishead-dummy Portishead – Dummy

(Released 8/22/94 on Go! Beat Records)

The same week Buckley’s “Grace” came out, this Bristol-based Trip Hop group unveiled their dark and sensuous sound to a whole group of listeners that had no idea they were thirsty for this kind of music. Led by some deep pocket drum grooves, mysterioso guitar twang and the slithering, serpentine singing of Beth Gibbons, it quickly became a critical darling. This record would go on to influence a ton of other up and coming bands and would win the coveted 1995 Mercury Prize. There’s still not a better record to put on late at night in an attempt to “get lucky”. Stand out tracks include “Sour Times”, “Numb” and “Glory Box”.


84364Low – I Could Live In Hope

(Released 2/18/94 on Vernon Yard Records)

Often hailed as the reluctant kings of the “Slow-Core” movement, this Duluth, MN trio ran in the opposite direction of every other band. They thought the most punk thing they could was to turn down everything to a bare minimal noise level and drench it all in wet reverb. Stark, shimmering and glacial, the music is primarily driven by the vocal harmonies of husband/wife pairing Alan Sparhawk & Mimi Parker and relies heavily on mood and atmosphere. 20 years later, this group is still making achingly beautiful music and is quite possibly my favorite band. I’ve seen them live 3 times in my lifetime so far and each time my heart grows bigger in my chest. Sparhawk’s guitar tone is the one I try to mimic the most as a six-string slinger…though I fall way short. One of the greatest 3AM records of all time, for your consideration, I Could Live In Hope.

Other notable ’94 debuts: Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album),  Sponge -Rotting Pinata, Oasis – Definitely Maybe, Bush – Sixteen Stone


’94 was the Year of Solid Sophomore Efforts:

MUDD3999Stone Temple Pilots – Purple

(Released 6/7/94 on Atlantic Records)

Finally developing a musical identity of their own and ditching the label of “Pearl Jam sound-a-likes”, Purple is possibly the best straight ahead rock record of a year that was chocked full of them. The DeLeo brothers were never more inventive in their phrasing and songwriting, and Scott Weiland solidified himself as one of the best frontmen of the era. ’94 was the first year I got an electric guitar and this was the first Guitar Tab book I ever bought and learned how to play from front to back. I still remember hearing the growl of the first notes of “Meatplow” and knowing I had to start a band. Standout tracks: “Vasoline”, “Interstate Love Song”, “Still Remains”, “Big Empty”.

no+need+to+argueThe Cranberries – No Need to Aruge

(Released on 10/3/94 on Island Records)

Following up a highly successful debut that combined the sounds of The Smiths and The Cocteau Twins, Dolores O’Rierdan and her Irish male companions took on the pressure with this offering. The biggest attention it seemed to get was them changing up their sound a little with distorted guitars and more aggression with the first single “Zombie” – aside from that the Berries don’t veer too far off course from what made their debut so great. Here, though, the songwriting is stronger and O’Rierdan seems more confident as a front-woman. Stand out tracks include: “Ode to My Family”, “Twenty One”, and “Ridiculous Thoughts”. I was 13 at the time of it’s arrival and I still have a mad crush on Dolores.

0000029362_500 Liz Phair – Whip-Smart

(Released on 9/20/94 on Matador Records)

Liz established herself as the indisputable indie-rock queen with her surprisingly suave and dirty-mouthed debut LP “Exile in Guy-Ville” the year prior and she doesn’t disappoint with this stellar sibling. Phair is just so stinkin’ cool. Maybe it’s her lack of musical proficiency or maybe it’s on purpose, but her songs are so unpredictable to the trained by-the-number musician – and that’s why I love it so much. Lyrically and musically, she always does what I don’t think she’s gonna do. Her sh00t-from-the-hip unpredictability is what makes this work so well. Also, my wife would throw a fit if I didn’t include this on the list. Liz Phair is her ultimate of ultimates. Stand out tracks: “Cinco De Mayo”, “Nashville”, “Whip-Smart” and “Supernova” which boasts one of the coolest guitar riffs of the decade.

c8a82f6e2615a3669e06ca074ca126593ffd7de7Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral

(Released on 3/8/94 on Interscope Records)

Taking nearly 5 years to follow up Pretty Hate Machine, NIN brainchild Trent Reznor scared the poop out of us all when this hit the airwaves. He is a dark, disturbed man making some dark and disturbed music and it hit a major minor chord with the growing youthful cynics of the day. Forging the way into the industrial and heavy techno genre, Reznor recorded this opus of angst in a converted studio where formerly the infamous Charlie Manson/Tate murders happened in the late sixties. If that ain’t F’ed up, I’m not sure what is. Reznor is known for his sonic de-constructionalistic approach to recording, which makes a lot of the instrumentation hard to recognize. The point being, this record is big, angry and violent and we would have it any other way. Stand out tracks: “March of the Pigs”, “Piggy”, “Closer” and “Hurt”.

Other Fantastic Follow Up Records of ’94: Tori Amos – Under the Pink, TLC – CrazySexyCool, Hole – Live Through This


Crowning Achievements by the Decade’s Musical Pioneers:

vitalogy-frontPearl Jam – Vitalogy

(Released on 11/22/94 on Epic Records)

There wasn’t an album I anticipated more in ’94 than Vitalogy. My best friend Matt (RIP) and I stood in line at the mall waiting for the gate to go up at Camelot so I could retrieve the cassette (YES! CASSETTE!) first. Pearl Jam had turned the music scene on it’s head earlier in the decade, placing a huge pushpin on the musical map smack dab in the center of Seattle, Washington. Vitalogy saw them spread their wings creatively and step firmly into the avant-garde with little hesitation. The result left critics scratching their heads and crying the word “self-indulgent”. To some, it seemed like a big middle finger to everything and everyone who had made them the rock idols they had become. Me? I loved every second of this record. The enigmatic inserts and liner notes made the mystery surrounding this release even more alluring to me. This will forever be my favorite PJ record. Standout tracks: “Last Exit”, “Spin the Black Circle”, “Betterman” and “Immortality”.

soundgarden-superunknownSoundgarden – Superunknown

(Released on 3/8/94 on A&M Records)

Holy moly this is a good record. Fellow Seattle residents and friends of the Pearl Jam fellas, Soundgarden finally made their impact felt with this offering, being their 4th studio release. Grinding guitars, thundering rhythm sections and the abrasive warble of frontman Chris Cornell rounds up this relentless rocking record. If you don’t have this in your collection, don’t tell anyone and then go find the 20th anniversary deluxe vinyl reissue. It’s an album worth celebrating excessively. Standout tracks include: “My Wave”, “Fell on Black Days”, “Spoonman”, “Black Hole Sun” and “The Day I Tried to Live”. Subsequently, the music video for the single “Black Hole Sun” has got to be one of the creepiest ever shot and it didn’t even have David Lynch in the director’s chair, thought it feels like it should’ve.


129936291.d3DRZAOG.Rem_MonsterREM – Monster

(Released 9/26/94 on Warner Bros. Records)

To be fair, REM had been influencing and heralding the way of awesome tunes since the early 80’s, which might fit them in the “elder statesman” category by ’94. But to me, REM was almost a different band when you find them in the early 90’s with such gigantic and gorgeous albums as “Out of Time” and “Automatic For the People”. Wherein those last two were reflective, melodic and primarily acoustically driven, Monster was a 180 in the other direction boasting big fuzzed out guitars and layer after layer of studio effects. It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Stipe and crew could sound hip and fresh while still hailing from a bygone era. Not my favorite REM record, but definitely the coolest. Standout tracks: “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?”, “I Don’t Sleep, I Dream”, “Star 69”, “Bang & Blame” and the touching tribute to Mr. Cobain “Let Me In”.

SonicYouth-ExpermentalJetSetTrashAndNoStarSonic Youth – Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star

(Released 5/3/94 on DGC Records)

Speaking of cool….I talk about this album a lot because I basically don’t hear anyone else talk about it. Which I call a shame. I’m not sure I wore out a cassettte tape more in ’94 than this one. It was strange. It was noisy. It was anti-precision. To me, it sounded like the after party wind down where everyone is passed out on the basement floor and you’re still looking for that one girl to kiss before you call it a night. Much like REM, Sonic Youth had been cranking the amps since the early 80’s, but were finally getting their due credit 10 years later with this release and its more succesfsul predecessor “Dirty”. Probably in my top 10 all-time list strictly because of its’ impact on me as a musician. It got me thinking outside of I-IV-V chord changes and the idea that beautiful sounds don’t come in the same packages all the time. I still remember hearing “Bull in the Heater” for the first time on a local radio station that was formatted to play the new “alternative” sounds, and thinking “wait…you can do that?” Standout tracks: “Bull in The Heather”, “Skink”, “Self-Obsessed and Sexxee”, “Androgynous Mind” and one of the best closing tracks ever, “Sweet Shine”.

Other totally firm releases in ’94: Nirvana – Unplugged in NYC, Beastie Boys – Ill Communication, Green Day – Dookie, Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies


’94: The Year of the Veterans

8525450030660_mainThe Jesus and Mary Chain – Stoned and Dethroned

(Released 8/15/94 on American Recordings)

The Scottish born Reid brothers had sorta invented a whole genre more than a decade earlier with their shoegazing tendencies. It wasn’t a complete surprise to hear almost reinvent themselves with this ’94 release where the voices came more to the foreground and the signature reverb wash had evaporated. Present still were the jangly guitars and speak-sing vocal approach, but somehow in a more comfortable and worn way than before. It certainly helped featuring Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval on the first single and it also helped they had the best track on 1994’s soundtrack of the year from the movie The Crow (which also should get an honorable mention for shaping up the year’s sonic landscape). As Jack Black’s character in the film “High Fidelity” said…”The Jesus and Mary Chain were always kinda awesome”. Dig it.

vauxhall-and-iMorrissey – Vauxhall and I

(Released 3/4/94 on Sire/Reprise Records)

Everybody’s favorite enigmatic, celebate, whiny-but-witty pretty boy dropped a heck of a record in ’94 with this one. Sure, he had some solid solo efforts after parting ways with supergroup The Smiths years earlier, but this one seemed to be more cohesive than it’s older brothers. Plus, the single “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” could easily be the best song of the decade. It’s more sombre than most of his previous work due to a lot of personal losses in the years leading up to it’s recording. Morrissey once stated he thought this might serve as his final recording ever, since at the time he felt like he couldn’t top it. I personally don’t believe he ever did – but I’m never opposed to more music from Mr.Morrissey. Stand out tracks: “Hold On To Your Friends”, “I Am Hated For Loving” and of the course the fore-mentioned single.

4Pink Floyd – The Division Bell

(Released 3/28/94 on EMI Records)

Decades and 13 prior studio albums under their belts, greying progressive rock champions Pink Floyd delivered what would be their final studio effort, albeit their second one without primary songwriter Roger Waters. With David Gilmour firmly in the role as captain, this record is actually quite pleasant and full of some inspired moments galvanizing the enduring legacy. They could still write a tune, create an atmosphere, and dang could Gilmour still play a guitar. Focusing on the theme of communication, launching an enormous world tour and mostly recorded on Gilmour’s houseboat (must be nice) this serves as the swan song of one of the most beloved rock bands of all time and certainly one of the most influential. Shine on, your crazy diamonds. Standout tracks: “What Do You Want From Me”, “Take It Back”, “Coming Back to Life” and “Keep Talking”

Other awesome releases from the old guys in ’94: Plant & Page – No Quarter, Tom Petty – Wildflowers, Johnny Cash – The American Recordings


This blog post might seem like sensory overload, but that’s what the year in music felt like to me as a wide eyed 13 year old wondering where to start first in the buffet line. I could’ve spent a million more words on other releases – so tell me what I’ve missed. What were you favorites of this unique year? Have a year in the 90’s that was more fruitful than ’94?

Don’t worry, soon I will devote a whole post to the most important musical year in the 20th Century…that being 1967.






Posted by: Jamie | February 27, 2014

When I was down, you just stood there grinning…

Posted by: Jamie | November 22, 2013

Music Review: Jubalson – “Don’t Remember Me”


Louisville singer-songwriter Brian Ott has been through his share of strife over the last few years since the last release of his musical vehicle Jubalson. Suffering from sickness that should be foreign to a man of his young age, the old cliché is true in that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Jubalson’s new full-length album “Don’t Remember Me” is a weathered work of sincere perspective and delivered ease that personal trial bestow an artist. Don’t misunderstand, the collected songs aren’t an audio belly aching session, but rather a confessional journey that is just as rewarding and cathartic for the listener as it probably is for the storyteller.

“Parasitic Drink” sets the mood, boasting tight male/female harmonies (shared with singer-pianist Allie Moisan) reminiscent of slowcore alums Low or Mojave 3 and pours you a glass of empathy that is meant to be nursed over the course of the next nine tracks.

“I think that I could hold on longer….”

A dark but gentle atmosphere is established throughout the record and hovers over each sonic offering, but without becoming stale or tiresome. This singular thread is carried and woven throughout the album’s entirety by slightly overdriven guitars, moody piano and gorgeous harmonies all draped in sparkling reverb. Here and there are tinier musical moments reprising melodies that reiterate the fact that each song is a part of a bigger narrative.

“Moon” shows Ott’s apt ability for melody with its arpeggiated acoustic guitar and ramshackle percussion. “The Lonely Group” feels like a lost page from the Graham Parson playbook without feeling too ripped off. “Suffocated” burns slow then emotionally exhausts itself through Phil Turner’s driven drum groove and soaring guitar solos – something that is often excluded from modern day folk rock for one reason or another.

The bottom line is Jubalson is quickly establishing itself as a part of long legacy of Louisville bands that demand ears and respect. The reviewer certainly wishes Ott improved health and for burdens to be lifted, but we are richer for him sharing his woes. “Don’t Remember Me” is a good enough record that, that despite it’s titular verbal request, listeners won’t soon forget.

Jubalson plays a CD release show tonight (Friday, November 22nd) at The New Vintage in Louisville at 8pm. Bombino is the headliner. Tickets at the door are $15. Check out more Jubalson news at and on their facebook page.

Posted by: Kelsey | October 31, 2013

Top Ten October: 10 Worst Halloween Candies

You return home from a night of walking door-to-door in your ninja turtle costume, exhausted by the redundancy of yelling “Trick or Treat!!!!” at neighbors you don’t know, but excited to finally uncover the fruits of your labor. You dump out your candy sack, be it a plastic pumpkin or an old pillowcase, on the living room floor, and immediately your eyes dart to The Good Stuff: Reese’s pumpkins, miniature Kit-Kats, tiny packs of Sour Patch Kids, little Twizzlers, and–is that? I think that’s a…? It IS! A full-size PayDay bar!!!!! God bless the beautiful soul that placed that treasure in your bag. Back when I was trick-or-treating, there was one woman who gave out 12-oz cans of SunKist orange soda to each child. She is the reason I was still TOTing at 20 years old. I couldn’t turn down my yearly free cola.

"The Good Stuff"

“The Good Stuff”

In stark contrast to these angels of candy mercy, there are those holiday curmudgeons who insist on filling your bag with pounds of inedible, unidentifiable crap. Unlike the Scrooges that don’t even turn on their porch lights, these guys draw you in like a moth to the flame with the promise of actual candy, but after you’ve walked the block to their cul de sac, they listen to your eager voice and reward you with a Trick, disguised as a Treat. These are the candies that aren’t even worth unwrapping. These are the bitter sweets that make you wish your neighbor had thrown you a rock instead.

"I got a rock."

“I got a rock.”

Be warned: As you purchase your Halloween candy this year, avoid these duds at any cost. Ignoring this advice will probably get your house egged or decorated with rolls of Charmin.

1.These thingscandy black orange

There is a time in your life, usually around age 2 or 3, that quantity means more than quality. But every child learns the hard and sad lesson that more isn’t necessarily better in the same exact way: They are tricked on Halloween by their big brother. “Hey, little sis,” he says in that trustworthy big bro voice you’ve always adored. “Don’t you want more candy?” You nod furiously! You knew he’d have a plan! He’s the best! “How about… I trade you… TWENTY-FIVE of these AWESOME… um… Halloween-specific candies–” (Twenty-five??? Is that a real number?! I can only count to 10!) “–for just TWO of your fun size Snickers?” Two? Only two? That’s not many. 25 for 2??!! Really?!?! I knew I had the BEST big brother in the whole wide world! And those sure do look like very Halloweeny candies, what with their festive orange and black wrappers. My, oh my, this seems like a great deal!!! … But NO. It’s not. As soon as you attempt to unwrap one of these nasties (a feat in itself, as the waxy paper leaves a crusty Bandaid-like residue) and you try (you’re not going to succeed–no one ever has) to bite into what is supposed to be a chewy nugget of… what? peanut butter? caramel? something? sorta? (WHAT ARE THESE THINGS??!) and it turns out to be a calcified dog turd, you know–you KNOW–that the world is in fact a horrible place, and everyone has LIED to you.

More ≠ better.

Small packages ≠ good things.

Big brothers ≠ friends.

2. Those Tootsie Roll-ish things that are fruit-flavored

candy tootsies
The Tootsie Roll is not a bad candy. I mean, it’s kinda an underachiever, and the super-sized versions definitely look like a fresh poop, but they are a decent treat. Distinct, craveable flavor, bite-sized, completely unadventurous yet steadfast. HOWEVER. Their fruity counterparts are just the opposite: unfriendly, vindictive little taffy-like chews with labels slapped on by a blind man. (You call this “orange” flavor? This is about as orange as blue.) Their small size is a curse, too: You pop the whole thing in your mouth–it’s tiny; how offensive can it be?–and it’s down the hatch before your taste buds can register the foulness and you can spit it out in disgust (the correct response). And–this is proven by Science–you have to eat, like, 6 regular Tootsie Rolls just to get the taste of the FauxRolls out of your mouth.

3. Strawberry hard candiescandy strawberryDo Grandmas go trick-or-treating? Do Grandmas? Go trick-or-treating?

No? Then why you gotta give out candy like you got Grandmas ringin’ your bell? Huh? And these little suckers have gooey, jelly-like innards, too. Insider info: It’s the tears of real strawberries who have seen what these impostors have done to their good name.

4. Smartiessmarties candyFreakin’ Smarties. If you go to the FDA website, you’ll find a hierarchy of foodstuffs that goes something like this (I’m paraphrasing, of course, to avoid copyright violation): Dog Bone < Sugar-covered Dog Bone < Smarties < Sweet Tarts*

*For the record, I don’t totally agree with the FDA on the Sweet Tart thing. The chewy ones especially are pretty darn rad.

5. Bit O’ HoneyBit-O-Honey-Bulk_smallWhen a Sugar Daddy and a Sugar Mommy fall in love, they make a Sugar Baby, and all is right with the world. When a Sugar Daddy decides to knock up his first cousin, Plexiglas, a Bit O’ Honey is produced. They are so ashamed of it, they don’t even give it a stick to sit on. Some people think this is really heartbreaking; I, personally, am a bit of a candy pure-bloodist, and don’t believe that caramel should procreate with things like rocks, sticks, dog turds, plastic, cardboard, or glass. Sorry if that’s offensive. That’s just where I’m at.

6. LifesaversLifeSaversMiniRollsMaybe you are just a kind old man who assumes that every TOTer on Halloween night has a bad cold. Maybe you just want to soothe their little throats, and maybe after 10 minutes you ran out of cherry-flavored Halls. In that case, it’s very considerate of you to pass out Lifesavers candies to the poor children who knock at your door. If, on the other hand, you’ve purchased these dull little rings with the intention of delighting perfectly healthy children, I regret to inform you that your lawn is covered with Lifesavers.

7. White candy stickscandy sticksThese are misleading for two reasons: 1) They come in awesome packaging with superheroes on the box, making every boy under 13 want to pick them out of your candy bowl; and 2) They are basically a rebranding of the candy cigarettes we used to know and love, which would make every boy over 13 want to pick them out of your candy bowl. The problem is, the younger boys open their Marvel boxes to find two pieces of chalk, and the older boys don’t know that there are sugar joints inside because they were too grown-up to grab the candy in the Captain America packaging. It’s a lose-lose.

8. Sixlets08sixletssnacksizeThey look so yummy–a rainbow of little BB’s in their own clear package–and so enticing. Oooh! Are they like Runts? They kinda look like Runts! Maybe kinda Skittles-y? I love me some Skittles. Oh, I think here it says they have a chocolatey center. I see, like M&M’s? That might be good! Public Service Announcement: Sixlets : M&M’s :: PRB : Home-brew. They might both be colorful, candy-coated pieces of chocolate, but Sixlets are an evil M&M impostor. I don’t even know what that extra flavor is (in addition to the low-quality chocolate-like substance)–malt? orange? soy sauce? antifreeze?–but it is an abomination.

9. PeppermintspeppermintsUnless your house is an O’Charley’s and you define “trick-or-treaters” as “people who have just eaten at my restaurant,” peppermints are not an acceptable offering for someone walking to your door.

10. Dum DumsdumdumsThese microscopic suckers are on this list for one reason: No filler. Okay, Dum Dum, it took me four licks to get to the center of your pop, and what do I find? A white stick?? Seriously. Where’s my Tootsie Roll sphere? Where’s my rock-hard bubblegum? (Only acceptable inside of Blow Pops, FYI–I’m looking at you, Dubble Bubble!) Dum Dums should be a prize you get for going to the bank, not for trudging blocks in the cold October wind begging door-to-door.

May your trick-or-treat sacks overflow with The Good Stuff.

Posted by: Jamie | October 28, 2013

Top Ten October: Lou Reed songs

Rolling Stone magazine rang the town crier’s bell earlier today reporting that songwriter, poet and visionary Lou Reed had passed away at age 71. The Barnes household has our black arm bands on because Lou was big in our house. It’s still a bit too raw for a verbose tribute, but for now we just want to mourn by listening to his work. Yeah, there were better singers and more precise musicians. But hardly none were cooler. What Lou brought to rock and roll was grit, attitude, ambience and swagger. Whether solo, covered by other artists or from the coolest of rock groups, The Velvet Underground -Here are some of our favorite tunes penned by the one of the most influential American songwriters of the last 50 years. Linger on, sweet Lou.

Despite all the computations
You could just dance to that rock ‘n roll station

10. “Cool It Down” from Velvet Underground / Loaded

This is just pure, unadulterated cool. Often the first song I play for the uninitiated. The album Loaded is a good place to start for anybody wanting to dip their toe into the velvety waters.

9. “Sweet Jane” as covered by The Cowboy Junkies / Trinity Sessions

The Junkies slowed this one down and stay truer to the 1969 Live version than the studio cut (also from Loaded), but they do a nice job capturing the opium den, after party feel the Velvets inspired.

8. “I’m Waiting For the Man” – from Velvet Underground & Nico

I can’t imagine what went through the minds of people, other than Moe Tucker’s relentless snare drum, when they first heard this in 1967. I mean, 1967! As my good friend Rocko said earlier today via social media, most bands were heading to San Francisco to sing about love and peace, and Lou was writing songs about the gritty, drug deal hand shakes that took place in the underbelly of New York city.Turn this up loud and allow it to kick you in your pants. I’ve never taken heroin, but I imagine it feels close to this.

7. “White Light, White Heat” – as covered by David Bowie from Bowie at the Beeb

This goes down as one of the great Side 1, Track 1’s. But I can’t escape how good Bowie made this tune sound when his band invaded the BBC. Bowie was known for beautifully paying tribute to his influences (Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things) and I think it’s safe to say, No Lou Reed= No David Bowie.

6. “Stephanie Says” – from Velvet Underground / VU

It’s so cold in Alaska. Some renewed interest was sparked when this tune was included on The Royal Tennenbaums soundtrack.

5. “Foggy Notion” – from Velvet Underground / VU

I told you, this band was just flat out cool. Even my 2 year old knows this is the bomb. He shakes his head and stomps his feet like a possessed child when he hears this.

4. “Satellite of Love” – from Lou Reed / Transformer

This was the second single released from his 1972 solo masterpiece. The record was produced by David Bowie, and ol’ Davey boy can be heard loud and clear on BGVs. Still sounds innovative over 40 years later.

3. “Who Loves the Sun?” – from Velvet Underground / Loaded

Sung by Doug Yule, the inner sad vampire responds to this one well.

2. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” – as covered by Beck from “Record Club Sessions”

What a gorgeous pop tune. Originally from the Velvet’s debut record, and sung by Nico, Beck and some friends did a full tribute to this incredibly pivotal LP for some kicks and end up capturing a magic moment with this one. Check it.

1. “Sunday Morning”
– from Velvet Underground & Nico

This is it. This is what caught our ears first. The opening clank of the glockenspiel, the laid back groove of the bass, the jangly guitar coming through the warm tubes of a Fender Deluxe and the gentle vocal delivery just make this a song that should start every grey and sleepy morning in your mind. Watch out, the world’s behind you.

Posted by: Jamie | October 16, 2013

Top Ten October: Closing Songs

tumblr_m1dmxn2dQ61qhnkvco1_500The final track of a good album is often overlooked or perhaps never reached by a casual listener. It’s a shame really, because just as much care is applied by an artist to end his/her work as it is to begin it. There is something special about a closing song that either allows you to drift off peacefully, or provide that last bang of energy to drop kick the listener into the atmosphere. We at this blog love and deeply appreciate a good final track and here our favorites:

10. “Leif Erikson” from Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (2002, Matador Records)

This dark, enigmatic closer signs off one of the best debut albums of the last decade. Many critics dubbed Interpol the new Joy Division upon their arrival. Truth is they are way more melodic and musical. On this track, lead singer Paul Banks seems to channel Jim Morrison more than Ian Curtis. The glacial moodiness of Leif Erikson reverberates in your mind long after the last chord is strummed. I have no idea what to make of it lyrically, but you can’t help deny the mystery is beautiful.

9. “When the Levee Breaks” from Led Zeppelin – IV (1971, Atlantic Records)

The greatness of this track boils down to one undeniable element: John Bonham’s drums. This is a groove that doesn’t quit and should never quit. Granted this album packs more classic rock radio fodder per square inch than most LPs, but this final track, clocking in at a little over 7 minutes, is the point where your ears realize that is album is a gift from above. Keep Your Stairway. Give me Levee. When the Levee Breaks makes me wanna wrestle a tornado to the ground and kiss it square on the mouth. “Go to Chicago”, you dummies!

8. “All Apologies” From Nirvana – In Utero (1993, DGC Records)

Somehow this seemed like a final letter from Kurt to the world. “What else can i say?” You can hear the pain in his voice that we all would later come to understand after his untimely death in April of 1994. The riff, the production of Albini, the vocal tracks…it’s all tops. Still, every i time i hear this, either on my own playlist or the radio, i still feel the only respectful response is to turn the stereo off for a moment and let silence give some space for whatever sound comes next. Anything else but Kurt’s voice will always feel wrong.

7. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from The Who – Who’s Next (1971, Polydor Records)

I could try and break this down mathematically or philosophically or whatever. The truth just remains that this song is simply bad ass. This is quintessential Who, all cylinders firing and caps off one of the best rock albums ever recorded. And Daltrey’s sceam at the end will forever be the best last word any band could ever hope to get in. Well, before he says “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss”. I mean, c’mon! If you aren’t doing Pete Townsend windmill air guitar by the end of the song, stop reading this blog. Go read something else because you probably will never get what we will ever talk about.

6. “Sweet Shine” from Sonic Youth – Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1994, DGC Records)

No one talks about this record because the world is ignorant. I got this on cassette when i was 13 years old and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. Not much has changed as I approach age 32. Like they took up the fallen mantle of indie chic from The Velvet Underground, Experimental Jet Set sounds like the ultimate after-party soundtrack. Everybody is passed out, the color lights are still flickering, and you are just trying to sneak one kiss from the girl you’ve been eyeing all night before you have to go home. This is the album for that electrifying moment. And this last track is pure indie bliss. Kim Gordon’s speak-sing approach has never been sexier or more alluring.

5. “Everything’s Not Lost” from Coldplay – Parachutes (2000, Capitol Records)

Whatever. I know we might lose some cred here because there is a faction that will say Coldplay is weak. And i hear you, I do. But this debut record was great. We aren’t going to try and deny it. And Coldplay was a much more special band when Chris Martin was a sad sack. Not sure if it’s the millions of dollars he’s raked in by now, or his Hollywood wife, but he seems to be a much more jovial guy and to us that has had a profound effect on how we relate to his music. This final track is an anthem for hard pressed optimist. “When I counted up my demons/ Saw there was one for every day”. Preach it, brother. By the time we get to the sing-a-long ending, you know Chris understands your pain and has got a way for you to express it by singing along to his whiny falsetto.

4. “Desolation Row” from Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965, Columbia Records)

This milestone of a recording is probably best known for its opening tune. And yes, I get about as excited as a schoolgirl at Sadie Hawkins dance when I hear that snare shot and opening C chord of Like A Rolling Stone. But one of the true poetic gems of Dylan’s entire catalog lies on the flip side in “Desolation Row”. The gentle acoustic guitars coupled with Dylan’s weary dustbowl snarl meet you with the first lines “They’re selling postcards of the hanging…”. You know you are in for a journey. Dylan, like a sinister tour guide, takes you through a land of misfits, cracked fairy tales and imagery only this master poet was capable of at the time. I mean, my goodness, this was in ’65 don’t forget. This is one good track that puts a nightcap on one of the most celebrated records of all time.

3. “I Dream A Highway” from Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator) (2001, Acony Records)

This song deserves an essay from a real writer and not my ramblings. Its simply some of the greatest musical poetry ever penned. The verses get more and more obscured into the ether as Gillian and Dave meld their voices close together returning again and again to the chorus that lays down rail after rail hoping to build a road back to lost love. My favorite line:

“I’m an indisguisable shade of twilight
Any second now I’m gonna turn myself on
In the blue display of the cool cathode ray
I dream a highway back to you.”

Nearly 15 minutes long, fade out with this slow burner on a summer night and you’ll see things. Beautiful things.

2. “A Day in the Life” from Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967, EMI/Capitol Records)

Do I really have to defend this one? Probably the most important recording ever released and the bow on this Heavenly gift is found in the closer as John’s piano chimes in as he reads us the tales from the daily paper. I’ll just let production genius Sir George Martin tell you about it:

1. “Find the River” from REM – Automatic For The People (1992, Warner Bros. Records)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my favorite song. Not just #1 on this list. But, my favorite song period. It sends you off after treading through a complicated album centered around loss and nostalgia. Its lyrical poetry, melodic structure and overall aesthetic never ceases to get me little weepy. Shut it. Not afraid to admit that. But seriously, this track is special to me, so if you don’t agree this belongs at the top of this list, then you can politely keep it to yourself. 🙂

“The river to the ocean goes,
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo,
Coriander stem and rows of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way”

Honorable mentions: “Holland Tunnel” off of  John “The Wolfking of LA” Phillips S/T, “Simonize” from Pete Yorn – Musicforthemorningafter, “Train in Vain” from The Clash –London Calling.
What are some of your favorite closing tracks?

Posted by: Kelsey | October 9, 2013

Top Ten October: 10 Coolest Movie Creatures

Hollywood can do amazing things with technology these days. Gone are the times of filming a tiny spaceship against a 4’x4′ black cloth backdrop to convince viewers they’re going where no man has gone before. Most kids’ movies of the past decade have been entirely digital, and special fX wizards can work magic in creating wild but believable characters. A great example of this is Davy Jones (played by Bill Nighy) from The Pirates of the Caribbean films. With his big tentacle beard and sad, vengeful eyes, he was creepy and real and so, so much fun to watch.


And yet, those twitchy tentacles were all CGI; and I can’t help but miss the days of latex appliances and stellar paint jobs, crafted by master makeup artists. One of my favorite TV shows currently is SyFy’s FaceOff, in which movie makeup artists compete in weekly “creature” challenges, where they begin by sketching an idea and within three days, have produced a totally unique creation, whether it be an alien or demon or (in my favorite episode) a character inspired by the world of Tim Burton. The contestants are undeniably inspired by the horror genre, but there are also obvious influences from Jim Henson to Guillermo del Toro. Henson’s work was absolutely incredible; who else could make a pile of fake fur and puppet strings into a loveable, thinking, feeling creature, able to captivate generations of children? And del Toro seems to have picked up where he left off, letting his actors (often the marvelous Doug Jones) appear on-screen, their movements all the more frightening because they are unnatural for a human. Not to belittle the work of artists creating believable characters like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, but this list is devoted to the coolest movie creatures created from physical elements–some puppets, some flesh-and-blood actors covered in a whooole lot of makeup. Whether heartwarming or fear-inducing, these are 10 memorable, non-CGI movie creatures.

    1. The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth
      pans_labyrinth_05_largeHonestly, I have hardly been more frightened watching a movie than I was during the Pale Man scene in Pan’s Labyrinth. If you haven’t seen it, this film is a MUST. One of my favorites. And you’ll know immediately after this scene why this guy got the number one spot. YIKES.
    2. Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi
      BibFortunaHS-ROTJI was trying to keep this a secret, but I watched the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time this summer. (If I lied to you about this, I’m sorry. It’s been a hidden source of shame for a long, long time, so I’ve frequently pretended to be a fan just to avoid the humiliation.) Anyway, there’s a lot of cool creatures in the trilogy, but this guy was BY FAR my favorite. More than Yoda, more than Chewy, more than anyone… I loved Bib Fortuna. His sharp piranha teeth, sick red eyes, and that big elephant tusk-like ponytail all make this guy so cool. “Nay Jabba no bodda.” ❤
    3. The Alien from Alien
      Part of the cool factor with this character is the wait. We watch most of the movie without seeing the titular creature. As film critic Roger Ebert noted, “Alien uses a tricky device to keep the alien fresh throughout the movie: It evolves the nature and appearance of the creature, so we never know quite what it looks like or what it can do…The first time we get a good look at the alien…it bursts from the chest of poor Kane (John Hurt).” At this moment, it’s only a fiery fetal alien (though a quick little sucker), but the full-grown alien (seen more in the sequel, Aliens) is a remarkable creature created by artist H.R. Giger, based on his drawing Necronom IV, and played by a man who was 7’2″. Unforgettable.
    4. The Angel of Death from Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
      This creature makes only a short appearance in the movie, but quite an impact. Like the Pale Man (#1 above), this creature has no eyes on her face, but she has many on her beautiful, swan-like wings. I love how this character is so dark but so pretty at the same time.
    5. ET from ET: The Extraterrestrial
      Which of us can say that we didn’t fall in love with this little wrinkly guy? He’s not conventionally cute, but boy, could this glowy-fingered dude tug some heartstrings. I still have a hard time believing he was just a puppet.
    6. The Predator from Predator
      As Arnold says when he first sees this nearly indestructible, dreadlocked monster, “You’re one ugly motherf***er.”
    7. Falcor from The Neverending Story
      I adored Falcor as a child. He was a flying “luck dragon” in the film, but his appearance is more like the cutest wittle puppy you’ve ever seen in your life. Look how adorable he is! Don’t you just want to climb on his furry back and fly through the clouds???
    8. Ludo from Labyrinth
      This sweet guy was being tortured by goblins when Sarah rescued him. He became the Scarecrow to her Dorothy, the best traveling companion a girl could ask for.
    9. The Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz
      Speaking of Dorothy… I had this movie entirely memorized by the time I was 5, and one of my favorite moments then and now is the Wicked Witch of the West releasing her winged monkeys and shouting, “Fly! Fly!” I was always thrilled by the scary parts. The actors in the ape suits do an amazing job with their movements, which is especially apparent in that great scene when they rip the beloved Scarecrow apart. That always made me scream at the TV. 🙂
    10. Jabba the Hut from Return of the Jedi
      My second favorite character from the Star Wars land is this giant blob. He’s a funny and disgusting combination of a slug and a big turd. Totally horrible yet totally popular.
    11. What are some of your favorite non-CGI creatures? I know I failed to include some great ones!

Posted by: Kelsey | October 8, 2013

Top Ten October: 10 Favorite Fashions from the 1990’s

Was there ever a better decade for fashion than the nineties? Probably. But I never loved one as much. Platform wedges. Butterfly hair clips. Blossom flower hats. Short pigtails. Everything–literally everything–from the latest delia*s catalog. If my mom had let me, I woulda dropped three Gs every time that liTTLe bOOk oF mAgIc came in the mail. Floral-print drawstring maxi skirt? I’ll take FIVE. Daisy flower necklaces? Only if I want to get mistaken for Drew Barrymore… again! (i.e. YES.) Spaghetti strap dresses? Ummm, what else am I supposed to wear to Lilith Fair??

Here are the top 10 fashions of the 90’s that left their mark like a tattoo-print choker necklace:

1. Baby Tees

From Kelly Kapowski to Gwen Stefani, the tiny tee was EVERYTHING to the 90’s girl. The ladies at Empire Records and Cher from Clueless preferred their mohair sweaters cropped, while grungy girls went for the plain baby tee under a long flannel shirt. But everyone knows the best way to wear a crop top was under…

2. Baggy Overalls/Jeans

If you were really hip, you wore these with one strap unhooked and hanging down by your side, despite the hazard of getting it entangled with the straps of your Jansport backpack. Baggy jeans were always super cute when paired with a tight little tee (and several of the accessories on this list…), but if you wanted to really freak out your dad, you’d brave the overalls with naught but a bra underneath, or even do the Winona.

3. Schoolgirl skirts
Gone were the days when Catholic girls complained about their uniforms… Even us public school girls hopped on this fashion trend. You could rock a miniature plaid skirt with a cropped sweater, baby tee, ringer tee, or even a normal sized shirt; but undoubtedly they looked best when paired with a hefty pair of…

4. Doc Marten boots

Whether you went with the classic black, got artsy with the deep red, or showed your girly side in a pink pair, these boots were essential to balance your otherwise girly wardrobe. For instance…

5. Floral-print babydoll dresses

Rarely in fashion history has there been such a fine line between hip style and your great-aunt Joyce’s couch. This popular fashion was made even more risky by its frequent pairing with a crochet vest. It could’ve been granny chic, but thanks to a sturdy pair of mid-calf lace-up boots and the mid-thigh length of most floral dresses, it could pass for grunge. Even our queen, Courtney Love, unabashedly adorned the floral print dress, and designer Marc Jacobs famously got fired after showing a collection of grunge-inspired flannel and floral dresses at Fashion Week in 1992.

6. Dark brown lipstick

It wasn’t just the girls who listened to Hole who loved this fashion trend. Even the preps (who were inspired by Courtney Cox) and the flower children (imitating Drew Barrymore) took to chocolate lips. I remember having a Jane lipstick called something-Cocoa-something, and it tasted as good as it looked.

7. Ringer tees

Skater girls (and those of us who wanted to be skater girls) resurrected this 70’s fashion trend and gave it a grunge edge. I loved this style on girls, but a retro ringer t-shirt was also the quickest way for me to find the cool guys at a party. If he was wearing, say, a white shirt with black rings and a faded Mickey Mouse on the front, I knew who I was going to spend the night stalking to.

8. Plastic jewelry/accessories
From jelly bangles to butterfly clips pulling back your hair, your look really wasn’t complete without a sh*tload of plastic things stuck to your body. Check it: Sarah Michelle Gellar has never looked better.

9. Dyed red hair

When Angela Chase colored her locks a deep auburn, I quickly followed suit. There was no better way to dramatize the move from middle school to high school, from childhood to what we thought was adulthood–and no better way to piss off your mom–than buying that Herbal Essences semi-permanent hair color foam in Deep Red. It felt rebellious, and it looked great–for a week and a half. Then it started to fade. Dramatically. Which explains why in 90% of my high school pictures I am sporting a frizzy  orangish-brown mop.

10. Chokers (esp. cameo chokers!)

This Victorian style became available to ALL in the 90’s. A black velvet choker with a baby pink cameo wasn’t just for Halloween costumes or vampire-wannabes, and I was really stoked about it. I mean, I probably would’ve worn them anyway, but in the 90’s I was able to wear them and fit in! For the ravers and the popular girls, there was always the option to wear your choker in plastic neon–and the more you wore at a time, the cooler you seemed.

Which other decade allowed you to adorn yourself with plastic and half a shirt and look amazing??? What fashion trends did you rock in the nineties? (Pictures encouraged.;))

Posted by: Jamie | October 7, 2013

Top 10 October: TV Show Halloween Episodes

Halloween is a special time in the Barnes house. Those of you who know us know that we are obsessed with all things macabre. Accordingly, we love the time of year where our favorite television shows take on the beloved holiday and incorporate costumes, ghosts and practical jokes into their story lines. Here are some of our favorite Halloween episodes that will help you get into the ghoulish mood and perhaps provide a few goosebumps along with laughs.

1. It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966)

While I realize this is a one time special that isn’t a part of a normal syndicated series, the fact that is have been broadcast every year since 1966 earns it the top spot on our list. Frankly, if there ever comes a time when this is taken off the air, I will probably send an anthrax laced letter to ABC demanding it’s return. (Just kidding Homeland Security). This sincere and heart warming 30 minute special always makes us nostalgic for a more innocent time, no matter what generation we hail from. We may have moved on to more gruesome and dark entertainment for the Halloween season, but part of us is still waiting in that pumpkin patch with Linus with childlike expectation.

2. Freak & Geeks: Tricks and Treats (1999)

This blog has expressed its undying love for all things F&G before, and every year we can’t let the Halloween season go by without sitting down to this episode. The shows ability to capture the pain and angst of adolescence while splitting your sides is paramount and this episode does a good job of juxtaposing what All Hallows Eve holds for both the geeks, who are admittedly getting too old for beg for candy door-to-door, and the freaks who’s brand of “grown up” fun is really just as immature when they decide launch eggs out of the car window and kick in Jack-o-lanterns. Classic.

3. Saturday Night Live: Various Sketches (1975-present)

The weekly late night sketch comedy program always seems to offer up some classics every year when the pumpkins and monster costumes come out. Like trick or treating in your neighborhood, it’s a mixed bag of laughs and near misses, but mostly it’s an7e31edce44b8026c10bc895a93681901 enjoyable time to tune in and see what the show and it’s cast of characters will come up with. Whether it was Wayne & Garth counting down the most babe-a-licious Halloween costumes, Kat & Garth tripping through one of their seasonal songs ,or Phil Hartman as Frankenstein, the goodies will usually delivered. Every year when we contemplate what we are going to wear, we can’t help but consider Adam Sandler’s advice when he suggested Crazy Pickle Mustache Guy as an option. While this blog’s favorite remains recently departed cast member Bill Hader doing a fantastic impression in Vincent Price’s Halloween Special, here is a good list of some of the most memorable Halloween skits from SNL.

4. Diff’rent Strokes: A Haunting We Will Go (1984)

Not every Halloween episode moves to the beat of just one drum. The movie Ghostbusters had just been released and seemingly had a big influence here. The big bonus to this particular episode was the guest star power of John Astin (Addams Family) and the incomparable Ray Bolger (Wizard of Oz’s Scarecrow). Basically Arnold and his annoying redhead step-brother Sam investigate a house that is supposedly haunted. Blah, blah, blah…slime, scare, ahhh!….”what you talkin’ about ghosts”….all of it makes for a spectacularly spook filled Diff’rent Strokes.

5. The Simpsons: TreeHouse of Horror (1990-infinity)

Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the Treehouse. These special segments have been airing annually ever since the 2nd season and always provide a ton of laughs, a lot of nerdy salutes to some classic and beloved cult horror films and a lot of cartoon gore. There are essentially no rules when these are written and brought to life, so the body count is always high in Springfield this time of year. To list and talk about all the various segments over the years would take forever to scroll through, so I’ll just list of a few of our favorites include “I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did”,  “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse” and this year’s twisted Dr. Seuss homage “Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh”. Above you check out this year’s wonderfully macabre opening sequence directed by horror master Guillermo Del Torro, with special appearances by many of his own creations such as Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth.

6. Community: Introduction to Statistics (2009)

Our favorite underachievers know how to trick or treat. Annie throws a Day of the Dead party, Jeff tries to bag one of his professors, Pierce (dressed as The Beastmaster) has a bad trip after ingesting some sort of psychotropic drug and gets trapped underneath a desk fort and is eventually saved by Batman. I mean Abed. This show is pretty consistent, and despite always seeming to be on the bubble at NBC, remains one of the most cleverly written comedies currently on TV. Let’s hope there are many more Community Halloween episodes to be had.

7. Roseanne: Boo! (1989)

Blue collar people do Halloween right. It’s just a fact. The tackier, the scarier and the more crass the better. And Roseanne was tacky. And loud. And they did Halloween right. This episode is more on target with how I remember Halloween being in the neighborhoods I grew up in.

8. How I Met Your Mother: The Slutty Pumpkin (2005)Slutty_Pumpkin

The writers at HIMYM started to gain some momentum into the opening season and this was about the time America started realizing Ted & his friends probably deserved a spot in our nightly viewing. Granted the references to the Peanuts special is another reason this one is endearing, but Ted abusing an old joke returning year after year as a “hanging chad” in hopes of being revisited by the sexy spectre that has haunted his dreams is pretty darn funny.

9. The Cosby Show: Cliff’s Mistake (1989)

The impact of this singular television episode would be huge on my life. Witnessing the Huxtable children construct a haunted house in their basement would from thereon be my ultimate dream. This is also a funny one due to the guest appearance by Wallace Shawn (inconceivable!) as a neighbor who reluctantly loans his power drill to Cliff who, of course, misplaces it. Check out the full episode below:

10. Quantum Leap: The Boogeyman (1990)

Sam leaps into the body of a horror novelist in 1964. Al has a devil twin. Honestly, my wife wouldn’t let me publish this list without including this one. Her obsession with Dr. Beckett knows no end. I could’ve listed the countless Home Improvement episodes where Tim “the Toolman Taylor” tries to construct some sort of scary project and fails, or the Webster episode where him, Georg and Ma’am move into the old house with the secret passage ways. But no. I love my wife. And she loves Quantum Leap. Besides, this is our shared Blog. you go.

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