Breakfast Cereal: A Kid’s First Con Job

When I was entering grade school in the late ’50s, breakfast cereal was established as the standard first meal of the day for young’uns. There was some vague haze about how it was healthier than bacon and eggs, but since both my parents worked I saw through that even as a kid. The key selling point was that it was a helluva lot quicker and more convenient than a real cooked meal (even, yargh, oatmeal). After all, this was a time when a can of Pepsi was considered better for you than a cup of coffee. (Certainly tasted better than the wretched coffee of the day. Bet they serve Folger’s in Hades.) After we got a TV, the incessant cereal ads planted the concept of brainwashing in my head. So, although I was disgusted, I was not surprised when cereal gradually dropped the pretenses to health and became out and out candy sold by cartoon characters. (Among the cartoon icons I’ve always hated — pure rip-off artists. And I must note that the first smash-hit cereal spokescharacter, “Sunny Jim,” was among the creepiest at the start. Real Howdy-Doody roots.) So the history of cereal is worth learning. And moreover, I remain appalled that the industry continues with the same moral indifference that tobacco companies used as they cash in on trends.

Toucan Sam — into the grave with Joe Camel!


cereal mashup

10-Second Movie Review: “Tales From the Darkside”

I checked out this 1990 item because of Deborah Harry and David Johansen. Yep, as much of a schtinker as all the reviews suggest. Harry pleases while she pretends to be a suburban super-homemaker, but she isn’t given enough else to do. Her big shot, of course, is in Videodrome, where she gets to be an electronic sex icon. Perhaps because Johansen was so into his Buster Poindexter routine, he got cast as a besuited hit man, which was no more than an okay vehicle, demon cat on his ass or not. Stood out in Scrooged, where he was allowed to cut up and blabber. As many have noted, the all-time horror-tale anthology is the original, Dead of Night.


The Number One Project, Vol. 1

This diggin’ through the crates before the snow flies does produce some interesting results. For the first time in quite a few months I turn on the cassette player, crank the amp up to 12 like you have to, and listen to a series of tapes I put together back in the early ’80s when I reviewed Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Book of Number One Hits. It’s all the Number Ones that I considered three-minute miracles, in chronological order.

Here’s the first tape (hey if I get a zillion clicks, I could list some more …)



1. Bill Haley, “Rock Around the Clock”

2. Elvis P.,”Heartbreak Hotel”

3. Elvis P., “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”

4. The Platters, “My Prayer”

5. Elvis P., “Don’t Be Cruel”

6. Elvis P., “Love Me Tender”

7. Elvis P. “All Shook Up”

8. Elvis P. “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”

9. The Crickets, “That’ll Be the Day”

10. Everly Bros., “Wake Up Little Suzie”

11. Elvis P., “Jailhouse Rock”

12. Sam Cooke, “You Send Me”

13. Danny & the Juniors, “At the Hop”

14. Elvis P., “Don’t”

15. The Champs, “Tequila”

16. The Platters, “Twilight Time”

17. Everly Bros., “All I Have To Do Is Dream”

18. Ricky Nelson, “Poor Little Fool”

19. Tommy Edwards, “It’s All in the Game”


1. The Teddy Bears, “To Know Him Is To Love Him”

2. The Platters, “Smoke”

3. Lloyd Price, “Stagger Lee”

4. The Fleetwoods, “Come Softly To Me”

5. Wilbert Harrison, “Kansas City”

6. Elvis P., “A Big Hunk o’ Love”

7. Fleetwoods, “Mr. Blue”

8. Marty Robbins, “El Paso”

9. Mark Dinning, “Teen Angel”

10. Everlys, “Cathy’s Clown”

11. Brenda Lee, “I’m Sorry”

12. Hank Ballard, “The Twist” (I know, I know)

13. The Drifters, “Save the Last Dance for Me”

14. Ray Charlies, “Georgia”

15. The Zodiacs, “Stay”

16. The Shirelles, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”

17. Del Shannon, “Runaway”


Tom Carson on “Pulp Fiction”

Seems about right. What surprised the doody out of me was that it was QT’s high point. Pulp Fiction was such a deft refinement/expansion of Reservoir Dogs that I was sure it was merely the end of the beginning. “Okay, he’s done pulp — what’s next?” The answer I did not expect was: “heaps and heaps more of the same, eventually with much more heavy-handed messages.” Isn’t just a matter of ego out of control (though there is that), seems to be that all Tarantino understands fully is “junk.” Remains pretty sharp with music, gotta say.

Pulp 1

Pulp 2

Pulp 3

Pulp 4

Pulp 5

Pulp 6

R.I.P. Ben Bradlee

Here’s his own paper’s obit, with a fine selection of photos.

But I’m particularly fond of this one by David Carr. And I agree that the creation of the Style section is his most overlooked accomplishment. The reporting on even Watergate would have had less juice and drive if Bradlee had not inserted the spirit of New Journalism into the Post.