Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

The Procrastination Potpourri: Confessions 3

I’m really good at procrastination, not so good at getting this stuff put together.  Let’s see what’s led me astray lately!

The new A Prairie Home Companion is off to a Thile good start!

In other news, headline writers enjoy puns.

Yeah, I listen to public radio, what of it?  One of the shows that got me hooked was A Prairie Home Companion.

Damn your droll wit, Garrison Keillor!

Anyway, he’s retired and Chris Thile has taken over the show.  Thile is known for his work with several bands (Nickel Creek and not Nickelback, as Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me reminded us recently).  So far, after two episodes with him at the helm and no Keillor around, he’s made the show his own.  He hasn’t radically changed the format, although the show seems to be focusing more on music (and not just Garrison attempting to duet with actually good female singers a third his age) and less on the skits, although there are several of them still, like the game show skit where Thile and John Hodgman faced off over Star Wars trivia.  Guests from the first two weeks include Jack White, Lake Street Dive, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and Anais Mitchell, as well as comedians Maeve Higgins and Hodgman (who’s usually too fey for my tastes, but I enjoyed him more overall than usual.  Plus, he played the Modern Lovers’s “Roadrunner” on ukulele).  Also, musician Sarah Jarosz is a regular in the band, and she’s pretty good.

They’re trying some interesting things, like having the band cover a song they haven’t done before, and reaching out to a younger audience by having that song requested via social media and having guests that the young people might like (although Keillor did feature Wilco and Neko Case a few times).  I do hope that Sue Scott left of her own accord, and wasn’t forced out, because she was the secret weapon of the show.  She could do old ladies, sultry ladies, weird ladies, basically any female type you’d want (I particularly liked her role as Duane’s mom).  If she was kicked out, though, boo to you, Thile!

Anyway, if you’ve liked the show in the past, give this a try, because it’s still a good version.  If you haven’t liked this but you like good music and genteel comedy, try this.  Just try it, man!

Jack Chick is knocking back a pint with Steve Dillon, I assume

While Burgas took the time to tip a lemonade to Steve Dillon, we almost missed a nearly as significant death over the weekend.  Jack Chick, maker of those religious propaganda comics tracts, died over the weekend at the age of 92.

I know, you too are saying, “Jack Chick was a real person?  And he was still alive?”.  Yes, indeed.

The only thing I really have to say about this is that the only two times I’ve encountered Chick tracts were both, and I swear this is true, when I found tracts on the side of the road.  I was walking along, two different times, two different roads.  I think I picked them up to take a look (as I can’t pass any comic by!), but left them right by the side of the road when I stopped looking.

I hope Kevin Meaney is wearing some big pants in heaven

We also lost comedian Kevin Meaney, whom I didn’t realize I had absorbed as much of his stuff into my personal comedy thoughts as I have.  He’s done a lot of great stuff over the years (and I came across something that I’ll have to watch more of and type about in the future), but here’s a comics related video to feast your eyes upon.


I would rail about Christmas stuff coming out in stores before Halloween, but this is donuts, dammit!

Man oh man, do you all remember when I went on about neat flavors of food I could try and review?  Well the time is now!

Hostess put out several holiday themed flavors of their baked goods at the local big box store recently, and being the junk food aficionado that I am, I had to try some.

The Hostess Donettes Hot Cocoa and Marshmallow Mini Donuts (artificially flavored, don’tcha know) are tasty enough, but it’s just a glazed chocolate donut.  I can discern no real “marshmallow” flavor from them.

You know they're good because it's spelled "donettes"!
Hot Cocoa Donuts! Mmm, blurry!

That doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop eating them, though.

Looks like a turd, donut? HA!
Even though they look like this.

More awesome are the White Peppermint Twinkies.

So minty!
Mmm, crème filled!

Hells yeah!  I love peppermint stuff, so I was hoping this would be good.  And it definitely is.

AHGHGHGHAHGHGGAAAA (sound of me drooling)
Mmm, white peppermint Twinkie. So sparkly!

You probably can’t discern them from the picture, but along the top of the Twinkie are little red and clear sprinkly things.  They add a bit of a crunch to the Twinkie, a bit of a peppermint bark kind of a thing.  And that’s white peppermint frosting coating the outside of the Twinkie, and it’s quite good.  The filling is supposed to be peppermint as well — I’m not totally sure, though, because the outside is so minty.  I like it a lot.

So, if you like chocolate frosted donuts, Hostess is also putting them out in the “Hot Cocoa and Marshmallow” bags 😉 and if you like peppermint and Twinkies, definitely go for the White Peppermint Twinkies!  They both wash down well with chocolate milk!

This has been AtomicJunkShopTravis with a Weird Flavor Taste Test!

Brief Book Review!

Lawrence Block’s The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams is from 1994, and appears to be the sixth book in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series.  I think I’ve read the first one, another one in between that one and this one, and a later one.  Not necessarily in the order they came out, though.

It’s the story of our narrator Rhodenbarr, who’s something of a gentleman burglar.  He’s a whiz at picking locks, and enjoys going into places that he’s not supposed to be in.  He’s got a legit day job, owning and running a used book store, Barnegat Books in NYC, but even in ’94, that was looking less viable as a real gig.  Especially after Borden Stoppelgard buys the building his store is in and plans to raise his rent by a tremendous percentage, more rent for a month than Bernie had been paying for a year.  That’s not good!  To add insult to injury (or vice versa), Stoppelgard stops in Bernie’s store, looking for women crime writers as an investment, and manages to pick up a great deal on an early Sue Grafton book.  Bernie, price your books better, and maybe the rent wouldn’t be hurting you so!

And Bernie’s been trying to go straight recently, fighting the burgling urge.  He’s been dating a poetry therapist named Patience, but has to cancel the date when he’s getting drunk with his friend Carolyn Kaiser in an attempt to avoid a burglary.  Bernie is getting so drunk because he had earlier in the week overheard that the Gilmartins (Martin and Edna, and Block has some fun with the husband’s first and last names) would be out of their home for the night, so they’d be easy pickings.  He’s got to get himself drunk to avoid going out, so while he’s out with his friend Carolyn, a lesbian who’s also a dog groomer, he gets pretty out of it.  He decides to keep calling the Gilmartins to see when they’re getting home, so that he knows once they get home, he’ll no longer be tempted to burgle them.

Mistake!  Turns out Gilmartin’s had his valuable baseball card collection (ah, ’94, when trading cards were valuable!) stolen, and seems like Bernie’s the perfect suspect after the call is traced to him.  At least the cop that always bothers Bernie, Ray Kirschmann, thinks so.

Except Bernie didn’t commit that burglary.  Turns out he was restless after the Gilmartin call, so he went out, met the lovely Gwendolyn (Doll) Cooper, and after walking her back to her apartment building, goes into that building to burgle the Nugents, a couple that Doll had indicated were out of the country, and finds an odd bathroom door with a corpse locked into the bathroom.  Oops!

There’s a tangled web of relationships (turns out Stoppelgard is Edna Gilmartin’s brother, among one of the odd strands), complex deals involving a rare set of Ted Williams cards, and the customary gathering of the suspects at the end in order to lay out the solution of the mystery.

It’s a breezy fun read, because Bernie is such fun company.  You can’t help but root for him.  And Block has a lot of fun with the titles of fake Sue Grafton books.

I’ll definitely be reading more of these books, and you’ll see why I know that for sure below!

More hoarding, less sorting — why do I buy so much stuff?!

One reason I haven’t gotten anywhere with either sorting stuff or with typing stuff is that I’ve been busy with going to special sales around.  A short drive from my area is the Ithaca, NY area, and for the last 3 weeks, I’ve stopped at their big book sale.

There’s a warehouse full of books and records and cds and stuff.

so many books
One of the warehouse aisles at the Ithaca book sale
It's funny because they're books!
This is a section of the humor books. You can sort of see where the collection of MAD magazines are about in the middle there.
Old people music!
Boston, Chicago, and Cream. I did not pick up any of these records because I am not old.

There’s a collector corner as well, where they put the pricier stuff, although this year I didn’t decide to snag anything from there.  The prices are fairly reasonable for regular stuff — they start at, I think, 5 bucks max and gradually go down each day, 3 weekends in a row in the fall and spring, concluding with a bag sale (everything you can stuff in a bag for a buck, and boy did I stuff stuff in there!) yesterday.

So many books...
The paperbacks available at one of the tables at the Ithaca book sale.

Some of the cool stuff I picked up each week includes comics for a buck a pop (well, $1.08, they gotta charge tax) the first weekend.

The comics section at the Ithaca book sale. I cleared out a couple of these bins myself!

I snagged some Secret Wars crossover issues, issues of Sergio Aragones Funnies, Nervous Rex (a book I’ll have to talk about in the future), the first 5 issues of Gotham by Midnight, and the 12 issues of the latest Midnighter series, with #5 signed by Steve Orlando!  (I bet he’ll be thrilled to know someone donated a book he signed!)

Best deal of that day was this Walt Disney Treasures book.  It’s a GN collection of a bunch of Disney comics over the years from Gemstone, and it looks pretty good from what I’ve seen.

Sweet deal!
This is a 13 dollar book that I got for a buck! Sweet!

Week 2 I got a beat up HC of Kevin Huizenga’s Curses, some Comics’ Greatest World stuff, a bunch of Grayson and Robin Son of the Bat issues, and the first issues of the latest Dr Fate and Starfire.  The HC was only $1.55, and the comics were 27 cents each!  I also got 4 more of the Lawrence Block “Burglar” novels for $1.62 @!

So many trades!
The GNs at the Ithaca book sale week 1. I regret passing on the Demo and Daredevil Noir books!

Week 3 was the bag sale, and for $1.08, I got a ton of stuff.  CDs, tapes, 45s, books (including 2 Agatha Christie omnibi, 2 John Dickson Carr books, 2 Block books that aren’t “Burglar” ones, 4 Donald Westlake books…), and the first issue of a ’90s Wizard wannabe, Flux.  I’ll be talking about all this stuff in the future, but the amount of stuff I got meant each item was less than 2 cents each.  Hell yeah!

Man, I think that’s enough!

This was even more tiring than a regular column!

Next: some comics reviews coming next week, I think.  Hopefully the new Flippin’ with Burgas.  And maybe even a real column next time.  Who knows?  I bite off more than I can chew!  There was even stuff I was going to mention but didn’t!  Like the comics and pop culture collectibles show at a local gambling establishment!  And some music stuff! Damn, too much fun!







  1. tomfitz1

    I’m good at procrastination as well. I should do some vacuuming and get those leafy crumbs off the carpet, but I keep putting it off ’til the next weekend.

    I like those After Eight mints, and those twinkies, recently love those Hostess cupcakes. mmmm mmmmm

    I do like Lawrence Block’s Burglar books. Especially after I saw Whoppi Goldberg in Burglar. That was an awesome film.

    Still, I’m not as bad as T.P. in terms of hoarding. he he he 🙂

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    That bookstore premise is pretty much reality. A ton of used bookstores and mom & pop independents have gone away, starting in the 90s, due more to landlords raising their rent than the advent of superstores or Amazon. Retail rentals skyrocketed in the 90s, with greedy landlords buying into the economy hype and the unlimited ceiling for the stock market. That fantasy played out well.

    I had not heard about Kevin Meaney. I first saw him on a stand-up show in the very early 90s; funny, funny man. I later heard him on the Bob & Tom Show, talking about his one-man show, about coming out and things related to it. It sounded like a tremendous show.

    From what I’ve seen of religious tracts, I wouldn’t be so sure the writers and artists weren’t in for a rude awakening in the great beyond, if only to answer for the hate in many of them. I saw one once, onboard ship, while in the Navy, that mostly amused me. It was called “The Truth About Rock and Roll.” It attacked various song titles, obviously oblivious to to the actual lyrics, let alone even having heard them. The most absurd was Pat Benatar’s “Hell is For Children.” It condemned it and said “That’s not what I want to teach my children!” I would hope not; the song is about the “hell” of child abuse, with lyrics like “..They blacken your eyes/then apologize….”

    1. Le Messor

      I first got Hell Is For Children on a compie. I went through a few interpretations of it; ‘Are you saying kids deserve Hell?’ ‘Are you making fun of my beliefs?’… then I gave the lyrics a good listen. Then I understood.

  3. Le Messor

    “Jack Chick was a real person? And he was still alive?”
    I’ve been saying for a while now, there should be a word for learning something is true by learning something is no longer true. Like last year, me learning that Mohammed Ali was still alive – by learning he’d died.
    Or when somebody learns a girl really is willing to date – by learning she now has a boyfriend.

    1. Le Messor

      I’ve always found Jack Chick to be an embarrassment, too. I can’t stand what he does to the reputation of Christians everywhere – and now the world believes we’re all exactly like him.

  4. Simon

    I think someone claimed that procrastination at its finest is to do some chore to postpone another?

    – “Yeah, I listen to public radio”

    You said you couldn’t pass up a deal, does that include free radio?

    – “being the junk food aficionado that I am”

    Are Disney-Warner comics included?

    – “That doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop eating them”

    Remember that CEREBUS chapter, “When Curly had his stroke”?

    – “I love peppermint stuff”

    After Eight and Peppermint Patty rulez.

    – “More hoarding, less sorting”

    Wait, you have a whole wharehouse of books?!?

    – “One of the warehouse aisles at the Ithaca book sale”

    Oh, my bad! …Mm, this is kinda how I imagine that famous library in Brautigan’s THE ABORTION. (Maybe because of Paul O’Connell’s 3-page webcomic adaptation?)

    – “Man, I think that’s enough!”

    I always meant to procrastinate, but never quite got around to it… Next year, maybe?

  5. Hal

    A pleasing potpourri, Mr Pelkie! (Alliteration is almost always apposite! Um, or not! Heh heh.)
    Donettes? Female donuts?! Or are they like a donut version of the Rockettes? No? Oh well, never mind… ;))
    Years ago before I had read much mystery fiction or any Lawrence Block novels, I came across The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart which I enjoyed quite a lot; as there was no context the whole story had an engagingly different atmosphere, I had no idea if it was part of a series or not (no information about that on the book, although I *had* seen Burglar with Whoopi Goldberg, I didn’t remember the credits) and it wasn’t necessary *to* know, it was enough that the characters had a life and history before the book and that the story was compelling. In a way it was better *not* to know that it wasn’t one in a series as it made it more *special*. Now, years on Bogart is still my favorite Burglar or Block novel. Fascinating, I know!
    Travis, YOU MAGNIFICENT B*STARD THAT ITHACA WAREHOUSE IS AMAZING AND WHAT A HAUL FOR $1.08! THE ENVY BIRD ARE FLYING AGAIN! Bwahahaha! Such a lot of great things available there! Gah!
    Good work, kemosabe despite the procrastination paradox.

  6. Wait, so the Whoopi Goldberg movie Burglar is based on the Block books?

    (checks imdb)

    Holy shit! I’ve got to see that now!

    Although, strangely enough, it appears that this has a comics connection — Jeph Loeb wrote the screenplay! I’ll be damned!

    1. Hal

      J(os)eph Loeb? O, get thee behind me Satan!

      “You don’t know, man!”
      “Know what?”
      “You don’t know Jack Chick about me, man!”

      Alternative universe Sue Grafton titles: C Is For Colonoscopy (Kinsey Millhone investigates a series of murders carried out by a rogue proctologist using a razored fiberoptic cable shoved up the butt); L Is For Linoleum (When a body turns up in an a forty year-old roll of lino, Kinsey finds herself journeying into the dangerous world of linoleum smuggling); Q Is For Q The Winged Serpent (Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god wreaks havoc – Kinsey investigates); V Is For Velcro (Kinsey explores the connection between sabotaged Velcro fasteners and, yep, a series of deaths); and coming soon… Z Is For Zygote…

      Travis, when you encountered Roger Stern and had to request he move did he look at you – wait, for it… – *Sternly*? Ahahahaha! What?Why are you looking at me like that?! In the truth it wasn’t Stern, it was his identical twin brother; Roger was off elsewhere being a supervillain… Heh.

  7. Also, I totally blanked and forgot to mention something cool:

    On the bag sale day (damn, that was yesterday? I need to sleep more!), I had to excuse myself to pass in front of Roger Stern, who was looking at mystery books!

    And if I hadn’t been pressed for time, I might have chatted him up and told him about here at the AJS.

    Who am I kidding, I wouldn’t have!

    Actually, I believe our pal John knows Mr. Stern and his wife. Is that right, John?

  8. Filament

    Thank you for the information about Prairie Home Companion, Travis. I haven’t listened since I stopped working in WV. I am looking forward to hearing Thile host…I enjoyed him on Wait Wait. And more music, with more diversity of genres! That was the one improvement I always thought Companion could use.

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