THE CRITIC: A Little Deb Will Do You -S01E05- (1994)

There are a number of jokes that have been stuck in my head for years, but this one joke from the animated show THE CRITIC — a show created by some of the best writers and producers involved with the heyday of THE SIMPSONS — is one of my absolute favorites.

This is all you need to know going in: A young woman is being fitted for her debutante reveal. She is Margo, a liberally-minded teen who eschews this blue-blood practice she was born into but feels pressured to participate in. While being fitted for her reveal dress, the following exchange occurs between the dressmaker and herself.

“We dressmakers have a very strict code, so I need to know: Do you deserve to wear virginal white? Because if you don’t, you’ll have to wear an off-white, what we call a ‘hussy white’.

“So, which will it be? White-white?”

“…yes. Um, except for the gloves.”

I watched this episode when it first aired and was old enough to realize just how smutty the joke was and could not believe it slipped through broadcast standards & practices. I will not spell the joke out for you, as I give you enough credit to have a prurient imagination.

This joke has everything I could ever want: it’s far filthier than it initially sounds, it has a rare sense of specificity, it is loaded with cultural and sexual commentary, and the voice reading cleverly underplays all of the above. It is a brilliant twenty seconds of animated network television.

(If you don’t believe me, check out the YouTube comments on the link at the bottom, as I’m not the only one who fondly remembers this joke!)

I am in the thick of National Novel Writing Month and my novel this year is specifically focused on a bridal dressmaker and her clients. While this is a debutante reveal dress, it works in very much the same way as a bridal dress in that it is often meant to visually exemplify the best of you, as well as make the person wearing it feel imbued with the best of themselves.

I previously only thought about this joke once a month. Now I think about it every fucking day. (Don’t worry, I don’t even come close to involving any ‘hussy’ notions in said novel.)

(Eventually I’ll write a more involved post about THE CRITIC. For now? This will do.)

Unfortunately there’s no single clip available of it, but you can see it via tubi or on YouTube before a DCMA claim takes it down:


Did you have a house in your neighborhood that, whenever October 1st rolled around, it went from being what looked like a normal abode to a creepy funhouse?

That is BROKEN PEACH in music video form.

I’ve posted about BROKEN PEACH before and this was meant to be a repost, but I’d like to extoll them more. They’re a rock & soul band that has built up quite the following since forming in 2009.

When Halloween rolls around they get out their garb and spend a hell of a lot of time crafting some of the finest covers with the most engaging choreography to make the punkiest, gothy videos ever.

As someone who has a significant number of compilations solely dedicated to goth covers of pop songs, I can safely say that they put most of those covers to shame. BROKEN PEACH are endlessly inventive; they take twists and turns when they didn’t need to! I endlessly wonder how they find the time to plan and practice all of this out, while still putting out their own original work, as this feels like it’s on the level of drumcore work.

Granted, over the years I’m sure it has become somewhat easier as they have found their very signature look and uniforms — which I’ll note, they had pretty much out of the gate with their earlier videos — stance, choreography, personality (in a great sort of goth group way), and cadence. However, they’re always upping their game, and I’m always in awe of the results. They’re endlessly engaging, amazingly energetic but still tightly maneuvered, and their production and costume design is so finely tuned. Most importantly? The music always is fist-pumping, boundless fun.

They just released their latest Halloween work, their cover of BLONDIE’s One Way or Another. Please, click their YouTube links to check out their full song history. My personal favorites are Personal Jesus. Tainted Love and Don’t You Want Me and now, of course, One Way or Another, but they’re all great! Also, check out their non-spooky works, especially the soulful automaton-centric video for I Miss You!


PROM NIGHT is one of those franchises where several of the sequels are better — or at least more interesting — than the original. The first PROM NIGHT is a rather by-the-numbers slasher centered around, naturally, prom night. It’s perhaps best known for a barely post-HALLOWEEN Jamie Lee Curtis as final girl Kim Hammond who has a rare nude scene, as well as Leslie Nielsen as Kim’s father. That said, it’s visually more striking than most slashers of its time.

HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT 2 is probably regarded as the best in the series, as it is far more inventive while having a sense of humor about itself. It has some fantastic set-pieces and stellar performances from Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou and Michael Ironsides as the cop investigating a series of murders.

However, I believe PROM NIGHT III: THE LAST KISS (PROM NIGHT 3 going forward) is woefully underrated. It goes full horror-comedy while managing to straddle both expertly. PROM NIGHT 3 continues the murderous, wanton adventures of one Mary Lou Maloney (Courtney Taylor) haunting the same high school, and she finds herself obsessed with Alex, an attractive school bum who has aspirations to become a doctor and marry Sarah (Cynthia Preston), his high school sweetheart.

Mary Lou has a sort of succubus quality to her, and Alex finds her irresistible, and the two fuck almost immediately. (Yes, this is a very horny film, even for a high school slasher.) Mary Lou becomes extremely possessive, using her somewhat vague supernatural powers to elevate Alex’s school standing while killing off anyone in the way of his dreams, or her obsession. Matters escalate, becoming more and more outlandish, culminating in what can only be described as a Ripley-esque confrontation.

The gory set-pieces are in the vein of Sam Raimi — there are a number of shots that ape the first-person racing camera perspective he leans on so much, although there’s one scene where Mary Lou is absolutely crashing through doors; windows shatter, and it’s incredibly effective.

The film still makes time to pepper in dialogue that you’d expect to hear in a dark comedy like JAWBREAKER:

“Alex, she wasn’t a person. She was a guidance counselor.”

They also utilize the high school’s PA system to intersperse quite a bit of irreverent, silly but pointed announcements.

Granted, despite receiving a theatrical release in the production’s home country of Canada, it does have that cheap video sheen to it. Nonetheless, the makeup is great, the effects above-average, and it’s a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, finding a copy of the original version of PROM NIGHT 3 can prove to be difficult. While the VHS version was the same theatrical edition Canadians watched, the U.S. DVD release was heavily edited. There’s a copy of the uncut version on YouTube that you can seek out, as this is not the kind of film that benefits from an ‘edited for content’ version.

“I don’t get mad; I bake.”


If you aren’t familiar with TILLY AND THE WALL, they were a brash Omaha, Nebraska band from the early naughts. Sadly, they dissolved about a decade ago (~2013) but goddamn they had a good run. They were the absolute perfection of idiosyncratic indie-pop, featuring a a number of tap dancers in a way that actually didn’t feel cloying but emphasized the backing work. Hell, they were even featured on SESAME STREET!

I think I faked it, oh did I fake it?

I managed to see them at Lincoln Hall — if you’re ever in Chicago, I can’t recommend the venue more as they’re so accustoming and their sound system will blow your mind — and it was beyond fantastic. It’s one thing to hear them tap, but it’s another thing to see them tap, and they even had pedestals for them!

I’m tugging at the seatbelt; I’m jumping out the saddle.

This is a remix, based off of their remix album ‘That Remix Sucks’ but obviously, none of them suck. This song is an endless parade of beats and echoes and awkward pauses and physicality and bodies and more, and I love it so much.

This is the original, not the NO CONTENT remix, but still great:


Similarly, from the same album, CSS’s remix of “The Freest Man” from the same EP endlessly floors me.

THOSE DARLINS – “The Whole Damn Thing” (2012)

THOSE DARLINS were two women who created the band they wanted to hear in the world. Then one died of cancer — Jerri, the front-person, on the far right — far too early, but before she died they released three amazing albums: a self-titled one, “Stick it In” and “Screws Get Loose” (with the helping hands of two others).

As you might expect, the band is done.

“The Whole Damn Thing” is a song about unapologetic appetites, all wrapped in under three amazing alt-country minutes, and — no pun intended — it is aural comfort food for me. I can never get enough of it.

I was lucky enough to see them at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall — a fucking amazing, but oddly endlessly pristine, venue — when they were touring their poppier album “Screws Get Loose” and goddamn it was so much fun.

I’m burying the lede here a bit, but if you have the chance to see a band perform? See them. Make the effort. Life is short and you never know what will happen and you never know how a performance will impact you. (Also, you can always just walk out if you don’t like it! That’s a thing you can do!)

“I’d like to let you I ate the whole damn thing!”

SNOG – “Old Atlantis” (1999)

This was it, this was the song. The first dance at our wedding, but also one of the first songs I danced to my with my future wife. I convinced a DJ friend of mine at the club, while I was with my girlfriend/future betrothed frequented to play it, despite it being a total floor-killer. We slow-danced, entangled together. I felt we were alone, luxuriating in the club’s limelight.

It was magical.

You can’t ask for a better moment than that.

(Yes, I realize that we were dancing to a nihilistic anti-capitalism song in a queer club that didn’t prioritize cleanliness, and that was perfect for us.)

“Old Atlantis” — via the album Third Mall From the Sun — is absolute bittersweet melancholy with amazing vivid imagery. The build is incredible; it’s an intensely emotional song. I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and I doubt I ever will again. It’s a singular work, something that works with the cadence of a quintessential prom song but also feels like it shoulders the weight of the outside world.

I cannot emphasize how much this song means to me or the feelings it evokes in me. The aural punctuation — the fire — in the latter third of the song devastates me every time. You’re encircled in an audio attack while the two of you are holding each other tightly, protecting each other through the aural maelstrom. It’s exhilarating, and then the clocks descend and the house lights flicker awake, and you can let loose your breath.

For as sensitive as this song is, Thrussell himself? Not so sensitive when initially dealing with fans. SNOG performed at a tiny-ass club just a stone throw away from us in Chicago many years later, and while buying merch, my wife and I gushed to him as to how much “Old Atlantis” meant to us, how much we loved the song, how we knew immediately that it would be our first dance for our wedding, and how formative his work was for us. He essentially hand-waved us away, which hurt, but we rolled with it because we knew this kind of shit can be tiring when you’re on the road! One of these days I’ll recount our times as bookies.

However, his partner later elbowed him into seeking us out before the show and he did apologize and thanked us for our kind words, which meant the world to us. Also, he is a consummate performer, and the show was incredible.

It’s not often you get to meet the artists who move you, who create indelible life moments, much less get to personally interact with them and, while that experience was a bit of a rollercoaster, it’s a memory I’ll always cherish, although not as much as our first dance.

“Let’s do it. You and me. Let’s do it. Together. Let’s. Burn it. All. Down. Again.”

I’ll close this out by noting that one of the most often exclamations I hear from folks are: “You used to be a DJ?!” I don’t know why, because hasn’t everyone considered themselves a DJ at some point in their life? (That said, unlike most, I was paid for the privilege.) Anyway, every time I’m like, just wait until you find out my wife and I had our own club night for years, and that we both helped to set up a collective to book underrated electronic bands. We’ve done a lot! We spent our twenties exactly how you should: by throwing around money you don’t have and shouldn’t be spending on efforts that very few folks will appreciate but will be extraordinarily memorable for those who do attend!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that SNOG wasn’t a major impetus for that; I wasn’t exaggerating when I said SNOG was a formative work for us. We earnestly and honestly wanted to bring the same feeling we had with “Old Atlantis” to others, and we did all that we could to do so.

SNOG – “Cheerful Hypocrisy” (2015)

While SNOG can compose devastating works — see “The Ballad” and “Old Atlantis” — “Cheerful Hypocrisy” from the album “Compliance” aurally bounces. It’s pure bubblegum until the lyrics pop.

While the songwriting is quite progressive, although it does contain satirical use of slurs that I’m not too keen on, I’m not sure I can say the same for the video, which seems like a bit too much fetish well-wishing.

I’ll be honest: Despite the obvious STARSHIP TROOPERS riffs, I don’t love some of the phrasing, and I hate some of the lazy ALICE IN WONDERLAND tropes, but it’s still one hell of a song. Just be glad I didn’t extoll the song where he’s basically being spanked for four minutes straight.


SNOG – “The Ballad” (1997)

You may have noted that all of these music-themed weeks have included at least one spaghetti western-themed work, and this week is no different.

“The Ballad”, from his album (aptly named) Buy Me… I’ll Change Your Life – is certainly the most melancholy track, and could easily be slipped into any western. It’s expertly executed, and the depth of his voice only exacerbates that. It’s a brilliantly evocative work that made me realize that Thrussell was more than just a musical engineer.

“When the working day is done, I refuse to belong to anyone.”