Armagideon Time

My sixth grade yearbook is a stack of mimeographed sheets stapled between two pieces of colored construction paper. My entry for the front cover illustration — a row of inelegantly rendered arcade cabinets with “GAME OVER” scrawled above them — didn’t get the top prize but did make it onto the final page.

The document resurfaced while I was clearing out my grandmother’s house. I assumed it had been lost to history (and probably would’ve been happier if it had) but there it was in a pile of old report cards and other personal effects, stained and dogeared and chock-full of mnemonic landmines.

With a fair bit of trepidation, I flipped the yellowed pages to the one which contained the profile of one “Andy Weiss,” rendered as a list of favorites.

Favorite book? “New Mutants Graphic Novel.”

Favorite TV show? “WKRP.”

Favorite song? “Photograph by Def Leppard.”

A couple of months forward or backward, and that honor would’ve gone to either “Modern Love” or “Mr. Roboto.” It certainly would’ve been less embarrassing, though neither would’ve reflected the utter primacy of “RAWK” in the cultural landscape of my early adolescence.

In the scene’s primordial days, “rock” was the jump blues equivalent of “whoopie” on the Newlywed Game — a euphemism for sex which didn’t fool anybody. While the raunchy overtones lingered into rock music’s second and third decades, the meaning of “rock” shifted into the realm of abstraction. “Rocking” was less about knocking boots than some general notion of liberation, the type one would experience by practicing air guitar instead of doing algebra homework or blasting a Boston song on one’s car radio after a shift at the widget factory.

Nobody pondered the specifics. That would defeat the entire point of rocking out. Irony and any introspection beyond the sentimental level were right out, which is why rock-as-we-knew-it no longer exists.

In the North Woburn neighborhood where I grew up, rock was a borderline religion among the kids whose highest goals were scoring a sweet muscle car, custom van conversion, or supply of domestic beer. Adolescent gods lurked on the street-corner near the leadburning shops or convenience store parking lot, acne-anointed idols sporting denim jackets, feathered hair, patchy ‘staches, and the residual odor of dank weed.

They didn’t have much time for us younger kids, which made the few occasions when they did acknowledge us much more epic. Mostly we raided the curbside piles they left behind after they’d graduated (or enlisted) and shed their old issues of Creem, Zep-branded coke mirrors, and beat-to-shit Sabbath LPs.

By the time may pals and I had begun to age into the roles the “teenagers” had grown out of, “RAWK” had become dominated by a newer crop of acts. The bands sported a hard rock sound which managed to straddle the borders of both pop and metal. Videogenic yet not as photogenic as the glam metal which soon supplanted them, they served up unironic anthems about “rock” as specifics-free challenge to adult authority and clean living.

I didn’t own any recordings of the stuff. There was no need, due to their ubiquity on radio or as part of some acquaintance’s music collection. By the time I started buying music in earnest, I’d moved on — both figuratively and literally. In the autumn of 1984 my family relocated to the other side of my grandparents’ duplex in the center, which removed me from the daily (and increasingly dumb) antics of my childhood pals. This was further reinforced by the rigid academic hierarchy of junior high, which segregated the “smart kids” from the “burnout set” outside of lunch periods and phys ed classes.

I drifted into Sixties rock and soul, they drifted into the Crue and antics with increasingly serious consequences. The old anthems became a punchline to self-deprecating anecdotes about my wayward youth before punk-alt-cynicism purged such frivolities from my system. Or so I wanted others to believe.

“QUIET RIOT?” I’d utter too loudly as “Metal Health” showed up on a VH-1 Eighties retrospective. “Soooo cheesy! Can’t believe I was into these guys as a kid,” as I checked to make sure no one could see the goosepimples rising on my arms.

One benefit of hitting middle age is no longer having to give a shit about being cool. If “Turn Up The Radio” comes on satellite radio while I’m driving, that shit is getting cranked to the max. If I’m scanning some Discogs seller for cheap soul 45′s and I see a cheap copy of “Photograph,” I’m going to throw it into the order.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve acquired a number of these ol’ fist-pumping favorites on vinyl, with the (mostly observed) understanding that they are not to be spun while Maura is in ear shot. Accepting my white trash background is one thing, accepting its musical manifestations is another.

Getting to know her

July 17th, 2019

The kid likes leaving notes for people.

The kid likes Dig Dug, and wears a Tiny Arcade machine I got her on a lanyard.

The kid likes throwing one of my flannel shirts over me when she finds me napping on the sofa.

The kid likes sequins. And glue guns. And canvases to which she can apply the two.

The kid likes spooky stuff, and possibility of spotting a a real live(?) ghost.

The kid likes craft stores, with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm I used to approach a Toys R Us action figure aisle when I was a kid.

The kid likes my 60s freakbeat compilations, dancing to them before dinnertime and encouraging me to dance with her to the groovy beats.

The kid likes comics, reading them next to me on the sofa before breakfast and reading favorite stories aloud to Maura on long car rides.

The kid likes hugs, and looks for excuses to give them (though no excuse is required).

The kid likes Oliver the Rock Stupid Puppy, because someone has to.

Gaming the cube

July 9th, 2019

In November 2001, Lil Bro issued me an ultimatum regarding the fate of his former ride, a rusted out 1990 Olds Cutlass. The car had previously belonged to our grandmother, and had seen Lil Bro through his grad school years and a cross-country road trip. After he got married and moved into neighborhood where parking was in short supply, he offered me the old beater as a creaky but reliable “get around” machine.

I hadn’t been behind the wheel in a decade and wasn’t sure if I wanted to assume that responsibility (and associated expenses). The Cutlass sat in our grandmother’s driveway from late summer through mid-autumn while I hemmed and hawed my way around committing myself to taking custody of it — until my sibling cornered me into making a choice: Either I get it registered and on the road, or he’d scrap it.

Maura thought having a car might make things easier for us, so I went down to my family’s insurance office of choice (with Lil Bro escorting me) and assumed ownership of one rusty-ass Cutlass.

Owning did change everything, pulling my orbit away from the Boston-Cambridge axis I’d roamed in since enrolling at UMB and putting it back in the Metro Northwest suburbs where I’d grown up. So long CafĂ© Aventura, hello Antonio’s Pizza in Medford. Goodbye Million Year Picnic, greetings Webheads. Farewell Newbury Comics in Harvard Square, hello Newbury Comics across from the Burlington Mall.

A few weeks later, my grandmother slipped while crossing the street and shattered a kneecap. She was admitted to a rehab facility on Woburn’s West Side, and I would drive over to visit her after work. Maura went with me on the first visit, only to pass out and crease her skull in an overheated elevator, requiring a long night in Winchester Hospital’s ER. After that, I flew solo, with only some mix CDs and my thoughts to keep me company on the long depressing ride.

The rehab’s parking lot overlooked the Woburn Plaza shooping center, which happened to host a (now tragically shuttered) Toys R Us store. Staring down at it after finishing a visit with my grandma, I thought to myself “I could buy a Gamecube. I should buy a Gamecube.”

I don’t know where the notion came from or why it hit so forcefully at that moment. All I know is that an hour later I was exiting the store with a console, extra controller, memory card, two games, and a non-insignificant bump to my existing debt load.

The two games were Metroid Prime and Phantasy Star Online I & II. The former I bought because of the hype and the latter because I’m a pathetic mark when I comes to the Phantasy Star franchise. Both got a pretty decent amount of play for about a month before I forgot about them and the Gamecube in general.

The system never really fit into my gaming ecosystem, which was drifting more towards the PC platform in those days. Lil Bro wasn’t around to boost its profile, as he’d done for the N64, and there weren’t many “killer apps” to pull me away from Baldur’s Gate II, GTA III, or Knights of the Old Republic. Metroid Prime was fun, but hampered by having to a joypad after getting used to keyboard ‘n’ mouse FPS controls. PSO was alluring, but also an expansion-slash-sequel of a Dreamcast game I’d already played the hell out of. I picked up used copies of the Skies of Arcadia and Tales of Symphonia when a local shop was clearing out old inventory. Neither has ever left their cases, not even when Maura bought a back-compatible Wii unit a half decade later.

There was no space to set up the Gamecube when we got married and moved into the House of the Hillside (another major life event facilitated by owning a car), so it gradually succumbed to dust-laden entropy in the spare room’s storage area until I gave Maura the go-ahead to chuck it out during the earliest stages of converting the space into the kid’s future bedroom.

The story would have ended there, but over the past year or so I began thinking about the damn thing again. Some of the games turned up while I was reconfiguring the front room, and gave me a weird sense of nostagia for one of the last “pure” gaming consoles ever released. No hard drives or internet updates or streaming apps or subscription services — you just loaded the mini-discs into the machine, powered the sucker up, and went to town.

Plus, it hosted a lot of titles that have since fallen into the memory hole — X-Men Legends, Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance, a decent selection of Sega’s millennial era arcade offerings — and aren’t available on non-console platforms. Yeah, I could’ve dusted off my PS2 or Dreamcast, but the Gamecube had that “missed potential” angle going for it, adding an additional aura of novelty to the experience. Used consoles weren’t that expensive, either, leaving the murky RCA to HD resolution the only real hurdle to overcome.

Well, that, and my reluctance to indulge in another impulsive whim. The past two decades have drawn a clearer mental boundary between “could” and “should.” Questions my younger self would never have asked, such as “where will I put the damn thing” or “how often am I really going to use it,” are given a great deal of consideration by present-day Andrew —

– until I spend a week busting my ass in the sweltering heat cleaning and renovating the house and decide “fuck it, I’m going to treat myself.”

The console arrived yesterday, along with a cheap signal converter, memory card, and copy of Crazy Taxi. I played enough of that last one to put in an order for a higher-end HDMI adapter, because the lowball one works fine for arcade-type games but is still a bit too muddy for RPGs or FPS offerings. A used copy of the Dark Alliance has been ordered, though I still need to figure out where PSO I & II ended up during the big attic clean-out.

Besides the early Aughts nostalgia aspect (which has also manifested through the purchase of some White Stripes singles and Fischerspooner’s debut LP), revisiting the Gamecube and its era of gaming has been a nice change of pace from the AAA live-updated rut I’d fallen into. I don’t know whether it’s the new responsibilities of fatherhood or just overdue feelings of burnout, but I just can’t embrace the all-consuming grind of titles like Destiny 2 or even Fallout 4 like I used to be able to do. I’m looking for something that’s immersive yet doesn’t feel like a second job, and the Gamecube Era’s offerings occupy that bygone sweet spot.

(In case you were wondering, the Cutlass managed to serve us admirably for about two years before the rust did her in. She was replaced by a 1997 Lumina, which was the biggest cash sink I’ve ever owned and was traded in for a 2007 Malibu which got totalled when a dump truck rear-ended us and replaced by our current 2010 Malibu.)

It was the week that put the work in “working vacation — eight days to finish getting the house in order before the Kid’s first overnight stay with us. It was also the first truly sweltering stretch of the season, coming right on the heels of having four of my teeth extracted.

By the time it was over, I’d shed ten pounds through my sweat glands, inhaled enough cleaning fumes to fill a tanker truck, and assembled so many pieces of Ikea furniture that I cursed the inventor of the hex wrench.

It was a hellish ordeal, but the weekend with the Kid more than made up for it. Ever since 2014, it felt as if I’ve been rotting in place. It wasn’t depression, but a prolonged stretch of living for the moment and not contemplating any long term goals. The early stages of the adoption process were unfolding, but distantly and at a pace so glacial it became a theoretical abstraction.

I don’t wan’t to sound like one of those parents who treat their roles as the highest calling, with the implication that childless folks are missing some essential human experience. We all have own hearts to follow, so you gotta go with what works without some asshole shaming you from the peanut gallery.

In my case, these recent developments feel like some loose bit of the cosmos has been snapped back into place — which, in turn, has motivated me to start looking for other frayed edges to fix or trim away. Having breakfast with her while Maura slept in, playing co-op videogames on the sofa, watching Match Game ’75 with Maura while the Kid sprawled on the carpet with a craft project — the vibe was simply “this is how it was supposed to be.”

And now it is, with the best daughter a parent could ever hope to have.

A stack of packages arrived shortly before the Kid did, a mix of household items and some presents for myself. Among the latter was the 7-inch release of this classic dance jam…

…”The Only Way Is Up” by Yazz (with the two z’s, not one) and the Plastic Population.

I bought it off the Discogs marketplace after watching the Top of the Pops Story of 1988 special during my post-extraction convalescence. A late 80s techno-pop cover of a Northern Soul stomper would’ve been irresistible even without the Vicodin haze clouding my judgement. It was just another impulse purchase, yet over the course of the weekend transformed itself into an anthemic affirmation.

“This is it. This is happening. This is real. This is good. This is how it was meant to be.”

When Maura drove the Kid back to her foster family, I spun the single at least a dozen times as my mind processed the events of the past couple of days. And I kicked out my leg Van Morrison-style after every “up” in the chorus…which would explain why my knee feels completely wrecked today.

Twist and grind

June 20th, 2019

Rotten teeth have been part of my brand since the earliest days of this site, when I live-blogged my way through an abscess and subsequent root canal (while a bunch of regular commenters begged me to stop).

I didn’t visit a dentist until I was almost seventeen, and only inconsistently after that. Either money was tight or the trauma from the previous visit loomed too large or I resented being lectured about stuff I already knew. Combine that with hereditary gum disease and some dentally destructive lifestyle choices, and you’ve got a general picture of where things stood for the past fifteen years.

Every couple of months, another tooth would break and I’d deal with it by changing up my mastication routine and swigging down another can of tonic. Occasionally things got bad enough to require another root canal, which I’d have done before ghosting on the follow-up procedures. It was during the last of those visits that I got a rough estimate of what it would cost to set things right, which was well beyond what I was willing or able to spend at the time.

This pattern held up this past year, when I series of events forced me to reconsider the state of my dental health. My grandma passed away and left me a decent amount of money. I watched my father — whose teeth and health habits were worse than mine — wither away and die. The previously glacial pace of the adoption process began to pick up speed, matching us with a truly incredible child.

And, honestly, I got tired of trying to deal with workarounds that kept me from eating foods I enjoyed yet did nothing to remedy the underlying problem.

I finally had the means and motivation — as well as a pretty harrowing cautionary example — to step and and finally take charge of my dental destiny.

So I spent last Monday morning getting four broken teeth (including a failed root canal on a wisdom tooth) extracted and a temporary partial fitted.

It was…not fun. I bled like a motherfucker and they tore the side of my “unusually narrow” mouth open while getting at the wisdom tooth. A black eye and and ugly bruise developed on the right side of my face. But the painkillers have been doing their job and the constant throb of background pain I’ve lived with since the turn of the millennium is gone.

The temporary denture fits well enough, though it feels weird when I try to chew and it will be a while before I learn to speak properly while wearing it. Three of the “anchor teeth” in front need crowns to better support the plate, but that seems like a breeze considering what I’ve already gone through.

Anyway, that’s why the site hasn’t been updated in a week. There probably won’t much in the way of new content until the start of next month, because we’re getting the house in order for the kid’s first weekend stay with us. Please kind to each other until I return.

By my entirely subjective standards, there are few albums as “essential” as Belly’s Star. The fancy-pants 180-gram double-LP reissue of the band’s 1993 debut was one of my first “new” vinyl acquisitions, which was covered (among other tangential ramblings) in a previous post.

It has also been spun a grand total of four or five times since it arrived. That’s well below the number of spins other Most Favored records have received and very much at odds with my affection for the album.

The blame resides on two-disc treatment the reissue got, where the commitment to maximum fidelity created a situation where the listener has to flip or change the record after every other track . This might sound like another chapter in the “Andrew is a lazy motherfucker” narrative, but that’s not the problem in this case. I will gleefully cycle through a stack of singles or cherry pick from compilation cuts when the mood strikes me. The physicality of phonograph listening tends to get mythologized to absurd levels, but it certainly is part of the charm. I was amazed by how much muscle memory I’d retained when it came to pulling/placing/flipping/shelving records, despite a twenty year hiatus.

Breaking Star into a four-sided affair broke the way I experienced the album. Since the moment I first brought the cassette version home in 1993, it has been something I threw on with the intent of listening from beginning to end, a warm (and occasionally disturbing) dream pop soundtrack for cranking out college essays, reading on the couch, or easing into an late afternoon nap.

Star has been an album to luxuriate to, but it’s hard to maintain that level of immersion when you know you’ll have to get up in five-to-ten minutes to flip the record. I knew that a single-record LP version of the album had been released for European markets back in the day, but asking prices ran on the high side and “re-buying shit I already owned” didn’t rank to high on my record purchasing priorities. I threw it on my Discogs wishlist, more as a reminder to myself than anything else. It remained for the better part of a year before a listing popped up which hit the sweet spot in terms of condition and sale price.

It arrived yesterday, and has already racked up more spins in twenty-four fours than the reissue saw in eighteen months.

An 1982 article about John Carpenter’s reaction to The Thing‘s disappointing box office results has been making the social media rounds, with all the “what fools those ancients were” commentary one has come to expect on these occasions.

The gist of it is true. The movie — along with fellow Class of ’82 alums Tron and Blade Runner — got a lukewarm reception during its initial theatrical run, only to be hailed as a stone cold classic a couple decades down the line. It’s easy to spin that turn of events into an inspirational narrative about unrecognized genius (and how superior one’s tastes are compared to their clueless elders) but at the expense of historical context.

I was ten in 1982, old enough to appreciate the year’s unprecedented bounty of high profile sci-fi/fantasy/horror flicks yet not old enough to actually watch most of them. Besides the predominance of R-rated fare and distance to the local cineplex, I was also constrained by my belief that three dollars — on the rare occasions I possessed such a princely sum — was better spent on a new Star Wars figure than on a matinee show ticket.

As a result, I experienced most of those movies through the reactions they inspired — MAD Magazine parodies, hearsay from older kids, novelizations owned by teenage relatives, Sneak Previews clips, and printed reviews. The immediate goal was to sate my curiosity and pick up enough details to convincingly bullshit during playground discussions, but this “negative space” approach also gave me a rudimentary understanding of critical and other biases in the realms of geek-centric media.

Any review of a remake is going to be lensed through perceptions of the original version. It’s inevitable, despite the critical dictum about judging a work for what its and not what the reviewer thinks it ought to be. In the case of The Thing, the previous go-round happened to be one of the most acclaimed sci-fi/horror flicks of all time. Fucking Howard Hawks was involved in the production! My mom spoke about it as if it was a Ming vase or Van Gogh painting! Even if it reduced the cosmic-chimeric contagion from the original John W. Campbell story into Marshal Dillon as Frankenstein’s Carrot, it was held up as an example of how to do this type of thing (meaning sci-fi/horror) right.

And that notion of “right” held a significant amount of weight, even in 1982. “Genre” material — meaning horror, sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, and what have you — was seen as dwelling on a lower tier by default. Getting plaudits from mainstream critics meant proving itself twice over. Any rare words of praise were qualified by “…for a [genre] movie” or “more than just a [genre] movie.”

Among the critics within the scene, there tended to be a tone akin to “respectability” politics. Works which took a “highbrow” approach were held up in opposition to the vast seas of lurid trash. “Suspense not gore, Hitchcock not Hooper, and please don’t lump us in those splatter flick knuckledraggers.” The horror scene is where I first encountered it (thanks to Twilight Zone Magazine) but spans the entire geek spectrum. It also persists to the present day by way of arguments about “elevated” horror, whether videogames can qualify as “art,” or any time some dipshit comes up with an “edgy and mature” take on Superman.

Humanities programs are dropping sections on Alexander Pope to make room for symposiums about Secret Wars II, but god forbid a geek feels like their consumption choices aren’t constantly validated by the universe at large.

It didn’t help that The Thing or Blade Runner or Tron or Dark Crystal happened to drop into an incredibly crowded field for genre flicks. 1982 was to “genre” movies what 1979 was to pop music — a mind-boggling wave of outstanding and influential works hitting within a very short space of time. It was the year the seeds planted by Star Wars and Superman, and nurtured by Alien and Raiders of the Lost Ark, went into full blossom.

“An outpouring of talent” only covers half of the equation. The other half was “an industry willing to bankroll these works based on perceived audience demand.” The volume of material wasn’t as much of an obstacle as the expectations set by those perceptions of demand. Stuff that would’ve normally been aimed at the drive-in market (or shelved for budgetary reasons) got pushed into the upper-echelon midlist or lower-tier blockbuster territory, with box office projections scaled to match.

The competition didn’t make things easier, but the truth is that the “decent” returns films like those could’ve realistically expected were no longer decent enough.

The general gist of 1982 reviews for the The Thing went something like this:

“How dare this guy remake a classic by a renowned filmmaker. It places too much emphasis on special effects and tries way to hard to be contemporary and ‘relevant.’ They should’ve put their talents towards creating something new instead of this pointless nonsense.”

Yep, those folks certainly were foolish and totally unlike the sophisticated breed of fans we have these days.

Past as prologue

June 5th, 2019

I really wanted to write a detailed analysis about how the Cool World soundtrack manifested from a space-time fold which curved above and below the temporal brane of the Grunge Era, past and future coexisting as pits on photonically agitated polycarbonate…

…but I can’t stop wincing about the separate listings for the Thompson Twins and Tom Bailey.

“There is always a disco version.”

That qualified truism became a recurring in-joke in our house last autumn, as my excavation of childhood nostalgia hit a rich vein of film and TV soundtrack singles from the latter half of the 1970s.

The film-score-to-dance-floor phenomenon didn’t start with Meco’s “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” but the stratospheric success of that boogified medley inspired a host of imitators. Even if the source material lacked the overwhelming presence of George Lucas’s space opera epic, the “disco” half of the equation was a marketplace juggernaut in its own right — and could theoretically have enough propulsive force to drag the rest of the package along in its wake.

The truth is, however, that Star Wars did do it, which left a lot of industry folks feeling that they were obligated to follow suit. It also helped that the prevailing trend for soundtracks gravitated towards either Williams-esque symphonic arrangements or experimental blippity-bloop tones, both of which shared a significant amount of genetic material with the late Seventies’ disco scene. Up the tempo, foreground the beat, use a little looping to pad out the length, add some effects, and — voila — the conversion into a dance jam is complete.

Because it bubbled up out of a franchise with spaceships and aliens, it tended to hover around similar genre fare. Again, it was an expected part of the package. If you were going to bite Star Wars, you weren’t going to leave any unchecked boxes on the sympathetic ritual list.

It applied to the most blatant imitations and it applied to even the most tangentially related efforts.

One afternoon last October, I somehow got to wondering if the In Search of… theme had ever been released on vinyl. The woo-heavy “documentary” series spanned the entirety of “the Cusp” (1977-1982), providing a whole sub-generation of impressionable kids with “true” accounts of UFOs, cryptid beasts, supernatural phenomena, and historical mysteries. The show terrified me when I was a kid and highly receptive to theories of a nightmarish invisible world.

Going back to it as an adult (thanks to a DVD box set generously gifted by pal Matt Maxwell) has instilled a different type of wonder, the kind that marvels at how stock footage, testimony from dubious “experts,” unsupported speculation, and stiff re-enactments can be given the semblance of a narrative by Leonard Nimoy’s familiar voice.

Well, the former Spock’s voiceovers and one of the most evocatively haunting TV show themes of my childhood.

Spacey yet spooky, the piece was the macabre cousin to the scores used in every low budget commercial or PBS moral education program from that era. And like them, it evoked some abstract universe outside my cozy domestic realm. (I blame my mom for introducing me to modern art while I was still a toddler. And brutalist architecture. And growing up in the Seventies, full stop.)

I did a little googling to see if had ever been issued on record, and once again discovered…

“There is always a disco version.”

It was a 12-inch and dead cheap, to boot.

While I was thrilled to add it to my collection, the actual product is a bit overwhelming. The dance version blunts haunting minimalism of the original by burying it beneath industrial-grade wakka-chikka guitar, a wall of brass, and an extended drum solo.

It’s not without it’s charms, but it doesn’t evoke “a child’s terror of the Loch Ness Monster” as much as it does “boarding the Pacific Princess’ gangplank with Larry Storch and Barbi Benton.”

(Which is terrifying, to be fair, but in an entirely different way.)

Eff your vescence

May 30th, 2019

It’s always bizarre to me when financial analysts act gobsmacked when a faddish commodity experiences a sharp correction. Regardless of one’s opinion about flavored seltzer water, it was pretty clear that its white hot trendiness would eventually experience some form of reversion to the mean.

For every one of these darlings which does manage to cause a permanent paradigm shift, there are countless also-rans where the best case scenario is “gaining enough market share to become an attractive meal for a bigger fish. For most, though, there’s simply insolvency, followed by an afterlife as an era-evoking reference in light comedy routines.

You’d think that “the public is fickle as fuck” would be automatically factored into any rational assessment of hype-driven consumer goods, but the same class of prognosticators continues to get shocked over events that were clearly apparent from the onset of the buzz. The problem with a speculative economy is that it habitually rejects sober evaluation out of fear of panic-driven over-correction. Neither the manufacturer or the consumer wants to hear that Beanie Baby sales have plateaued and the kids have moved on to some other disposable wonder.

The shit seems pretty obvious to me, but maybe my geek background has helped hep me to the jive. Check out enough toy clearance aisles or fish enough of the previous decade’s funnybook darlings — still sporting $15 pricetags on the mylar — from quarter bins, and you start to realize that all glitters will return you pennies on the dollar if you’re lucky.

The article attached to that snippet above cites a “beverage analyst” cites the company’s “lack of meaningful or disruptive innovation.”

In the field of underflavored canned fizzy water. Really.

Also, how does one get a job as a “beverage analyst?” Because it sounds like a pretty swanky gig and doesn’t seem to require that much brainpower.

Recommended listening:

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