The 'Shroom:Issue 171/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Shroom2017 Anton.png

Welcome to June, when the summer heat starts to turn up and melt everything, and if you're in the southern hemisphere everything will still probably be melting. This month we bring you a lot of our usual sections, but a couple of guest sections as well, so read on to check them out!

🗳️🗳️🗳️ Polls are now open for the annual Mario Awards! You can vote via the main page polls or on our Anniversary page to help select the best and worst of all kinds of Mario things, from characters, to locations, games, and media! And especially, don't forget to vote in the Community Awards as well, where you can help highlight achievements here within our community! Several tournaments are also available to participate in or watch on for forum in the Awards Board. Keep an eye out for presentations to open up, which will be on July 1st at this page that will become active soon.

Thank you for voting Half-Baked Reviews as May's Critic Corner Section of the Month!! Be sure to give your love to all of our sections here, and give a shout out to our writers whether in chat or in their forum threads dedicated to their sections. Be sure to vote vote vote!


And now for my regular announcements: We've decided to implement in Critic Corner something similar to News Flush over in Fake News, where no formal sign-up application process is required for one-time or limited sections. From now on if you just want to send in a single review for something you just read, watched played, tried, whatever, you just have to send me your review privately either to me directly in chat, or in a message to me on the forum at least one week before each 'Shroom is to be released! There's no commitment or obligation to provide a full monthly section (although you absolutely can shift it into one if you so choose), just send us your thoughts on a thing and we'll feature it here! If you have any questions or curiosities about this, please feel free to ask!

As always, if you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have openings for more writers! You are free to write for sections such as Character Review and Movie Review, or really anything you'd like to do! There's no pressure to have a huge section; they can be shorter and concise! The application process is very simple, starting with reading the Sign Up page, and sending your application to Ninja Squid, our Stats Manager on the forum. Any idea you have is welcome, and if you have any questions or need help signing up, please feel free to reach out to myself or other 'Shroom peeps!

Section of the Month

Critic Corner SECTION OF THE MONTH
Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 10 45.45% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd Pokédex Power 9 40.91% Yoshi876 (talk)
2nd Book Review 2 9.09% FunkyK38 (talk)


Shoey's Roundup

Written by: Chester Alan Arthur (talk)

Lawman's "Yawkey"
Lawman.jpg
Genres Western
Release date October 23, 1960
Starring John Russel, Peter Brown, Ray Danton
Runtime 30 minutes
Ratings PG

Hello 'Shroom readers. Welcome to Shoey's Roundup, The Shroom's first and probably only western-themed review section! In this section - that might be a one-off and might be more - we will be looking at television westerns (and maybe even a movie!) that I happen to enjoy. When it comes to westerns, there's no western I love more than ABC's Lawman, starring John Russel as Marshal Dan Troop and Peter Brown as deputy Johnny McKay. Running for four years and four seasons, Lawman is a show about the trials of Marshal Dan Troop as he strives to uphold the law in Laramie Wyoming in the late 1800s. In many ways, Lawman is the prototypical sheriff western, with a lantern-jawed veteran Marshal and his young deputy protecting a town from all sorts of murderers and thieves. But where Lawman really shines is the acting and chemistry between its leads, who commit to their roles as veteran Marshal and young deputy. This month we're going to be looking at one of my favorite episodes of the series: season three's "Yawkey," a story of a legendary gunslinger named only Yawkey who has come into town looking for a gunfight with Marshal Dan Troop.

The episode begins with a mysterious man dressed in black entering Larime's premiere bar, The Birdcage (run by the lovely Lily Merrill, who is played by Peggy Castle). The man sits down at a corner table and is tended to by a series regular, Jake the bartender (played by Dan Sheridan). The man introduces himself as Yawkey and, right off the bat, I think this episode does a masterclass of character acting. As soon as Yawkey tells Jake his name, Jake's demeanor changes from cheerful and friendly to terrified. Yawkey tells Jake to bring the Marshal a message, saying that at half past three he's going to meet the Marshal and kill him and requesting that he bring him a bottle of whisky before he does. Terrified, Jake ignores both customers and his boss Lily as he goes to tell the Marshal that Yawkey is here for his life.

From here, the episode turns into a great episode of telling but not showing. For the rest of the episode until the climactic gunfight, Yawkey simply sits at the bar table drinking as everyone reacts to his presence and tries to figure out a way for Dan to not fight him. Lily reveals to Johnny that she once saw Yawkey kill three professional gunfighters in the same fight, and even the Marshal admits to Johnny that he doesn't think he can outdraw Yawkey but that he has to try because it's his job and he has no choice. Lily attempts to reason with Yawkey, and it's in this scene that we learn a little bit about Yawkey. We learn that he's been fast with a gun since he was seventeen, and we learn the reason he can't be defeated is because he isn't afraid to die so he never makes any mistakes. Realizing Yawkey can't be reasoned with, Lily then tries to get Yawkey so drunk that he'll pass out, but Yawkey simply replies "you thinking I'll get drunk? You thinking I'll pass out? I won't. It won't make no difference, drunk or sober, your Marshal's gonna die". After this, Johnny McKay attempts to force Yawkey to leave town at gunpoint, but Yawkey, without even getting up from his table, tells him that he can pull his pistol, fire twice, and put both bullets between the deputy's eyes before he even thinks of pulling that trigger. Before Johnny can test Yawkey, Marshal Dan Troop arrives and tells Johnny to go back to the office and to not come back out. We also get a great scene after this of Dan and Lily having a tender conversation about how stupid this fight is. But sadly, there's nothing Dan can do; he has to face Yawkey even if it means throwing his life away because it's his job and that's what he's paid to do. After this, Dan and Lily embrace in a moment that really sells their implied romance (it was the 50s, they weren't even allowed to kiss). After this, Dan returns to the office to await his showdown with Yawkey.

A central theme of this episode, and one that I really appreciate, is that nobody knows why Yawkey wants to kill Dan Troop. Usually in westerns, the bad guys have pretty clear cut motives like avenging somebody the Marshal killed, some sort of robbery, or furtherance of another crime. But with Yawkey, it's different; they both acknowledge that Dan's never met Yawkey and, while Dan theorizes it could be any number of reasons, he doesn't know for sure. When pointing out to Yawkey that they've never met, Yawkey simply replies that they've met now. Lily also attempts to find out why Yawkey wants to kill the Marshal and is first told by Yawkey that it doesn't concern her. Later, when begging Yawkey as to why Dan needs to die, she is simply told "because I say so ma'am". Even as Dan and Yawkey face off, with one of them about to die, Yawkey still refuses to reveal why he wants Dan dead. Upon being asked one last time - and in perhaps my favorite line of the episode - Yakwey simply says "it's a nice day to die Marshal".

Finally, we get to the gunfight that this episode has been building up to, and, sure enough, Yawkey draws first. But nothing comes out of his gun as Dan draws and kills Yawkey. And here is where we finally learn why Yawkey wanted to fight Dan; he didn't want to kill Dan, but he wanted Dan to kill him. Yawkey reveals that he's tired of killing and that he's sent twenty-seven men to their graves, many of them boys who threw their lives away challenging him. Knowing that he could never get out of gunfights as long as he was alive, and knowing that he couldn't go through with killing himself, he decided to take the route of suicide by cop. The reason he chose Dan was because Dan had a reputation as somebody who is fast with a gun. He apologizes to Dan for making him the man who killed Yawkey and the trouble it will surely bring, then asks Dan not to let his body be photographed. Dan soberly agrees and Yawkey dies in Dan's arms, his last words lamenting a lost love. Our final scene is Dan refusing to let a kid keep Yawkey's gun, perhaps hoping to keep him off the path that Yawkey took.

Truth be told, "Yawkey" is one of the finest episodes of anything that I've ever seen. Ray Danton is tremendously skilled at acting as the terrifying Yawkey. His performance is made even better by the fact that, until the big showdown, all Yawkey does is drink at the bar. But his voice and presence, as well as all the characters treating him like he's more of a force of nature then a man, make him a credible gunfighter even if we never seem him do anything. Throw in some great tender moments between Lily and Dan, and what you've got is a fantastic episode of Lawman and a great example of why I love this show so much.


Final score: 10/10

Character Review

Written by: Waluigi Time (talk)

Hello 'Shroom readers! We're in June already, and that means it's time for the Mario Awards once again. After looking at the results of past awards, I've noticed a disturbing trend - Hammer Bros. have won Worst Enemy the past five years in a row! What have they done to deserve this? If anything, they've only become less of a nuisance since their debut. Unfortunately, it's simply popular to hate Hammer Bros., and the YouTubers certainly aren't helping. But I'm not here to complain about Hammer Bros. taking home undeserved Worst Enemy awards, I'm here to offer an alternative solution. Enter the Porcupuffer.

Look at this spiky doofus.

Admittedly, when Porcupuffers were first introduced in Super Mario World, they weren't that bad. All they did was skim the top of the water and follow you across the level, so they were really only a threat if you fell in the water, and even if you did, you could safely ride them by spin jumping. Afterwards, they disappeared from the franchise for quite some time.

Fast forward 19 years to the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Rather than retaining their old behavior, Porcupuffers now act the same as the Spike Bass from the previous game. They follow you across entire levels, quickly swimming back and forth across the screen, and lunge out from the water to attack you every few seconds. Avoiding them isn't an easy feat thanks to their large size. There's no way to get rid of them either, since no matter what you do to defeat them another one will appear a few seconds later. It retains this behavior unchanged in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U.

However, if you prefer 3D platformers, you're spared from how awful Porcupuffer is. They only appear in Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, where they're not really anything special. They're effectively just larger Cheep Cheeps in these games.

For their appearance in Super Mario Maker 2, I guess the developers decided that Porcupuffers weren't awful enough already, because now they're an instakill enemy. No longer satisfied with just damaging you if you're unable to dodge them when they jump out of the water, now they just eat you. They can also be placed in lava, which catches them on fire and makes them immune to fireballs. When placed in the underwater theme, they actively chase you and try to eat you like Cheep Chomps. Thankfully, the developers do throw the player a few bones this time around. Porcupuffers don't respawn after being defeated anymore, and if you hit them with a single fireball, they'll at least stop trying to eat you even though they keep chasing you. They're also limited to only the Super Mario 3D World style, so you're not going to be seeing them everywhere.

And that's it for Porcupuffers in the platformers. So, are they deserving of the title of Worst Enemy? Obviously I think so, and I hope that I was able to convince you that they are. They're not on the ballot this year, so if you agree with me, be sure to put in Porcupuffer as a write-in vote on F7 Worst Enemy. Justice for the Hammer Bros. and down with Porcupuffer!

Rose's Quarantine Reviews

Written by: Roserade (talk)

Greetings, beautiful 'Shroom readers, two months no see. Welcome back to another edition of Rose's Quarantine Reviews. We are still in quarantine, and I continue to review.

Welllll, we're kind of still in quarantine. Quite a few things have changed since the last time I reviewed. Firstly, on May 21st, Washington state governor Jay Inslee declared that masks would not be mandatory in all public businesses. While some locations still require a mask, such as shelters and schools, it is up to the discretion of business managers to determine whether people need to wear masks inside. This has drawn some ire, but there is still a sense of having to take these steps sometimes, and with a majority of Washington state adults now vaccinated, I suppose then was an appropriate time to do it.

The other piece of news to share is that I became fully vaccinated! My second dose didn't hit me nearly as hard as I thought it would; I really only had a headache for a day or two and then I was completely well. I haven't been rushing into the middle of crowds and making out with people, but there's a feeling of comfort in knowing that I can be generally more relaxed about seeing others. If you haven't received your vaccine already, please do. It doesn't magnetize your skin, trust me.

With those updates out of the way, it's onto those reviews. How much longer will I consider them quarantine reviews? Who knows.

Cuphead (on Nintendo Switch)

I used to rooollllll the dice...

A long while ago, I picked up a certain special indie game on the Nintendo eShop. I've always adored the aesthetic of early animation, with its rubberhose qualities and expressive, slapstick humor, and for that reason, Cuphead appealed to me completely. There has never been a game quite like it in terms of presentation, and after watching a few Let's Play's of the beginning levels, I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, I downloaded the game around a period when I didn't have the time or energy to commit to video games. With everything I took on in my personal life, both inside and outside of school, I lost my ability to sit down and enjoy games the way I did before. So I played through most of Inkwell Isle 1, and... didn't touch it again until about five days ago! But in the past week, I've taken up the game again, and am nearly to the final area of the game. I figure this is enough to give my thoughts so far, and I'm going to assume that the final area isn't a flaming pile of cow regurgitation that ruins my entire opinion of the experience.

Cuphead's greatest strength is, clearly, its appearance and style. The graphics are absolutely stunning, painstakingly hand-drawn animation that pulls together an entire world filled with colorful, lively characters. This style permeates in every aspect of the game, impacting not just the character design, but also the background design, the menu design, and the text the game uses. Not only is the visual look reminiscent of those old cartoons, but the audio design is filled with big band compositions and cartoonish sound effects. The soundtrack for Cuphead is absolutely jamming, and I'd easily recommend it for any jazz fans.
Phase 3 of the Grim Matchstick fight

The greatest part of this stylistic direction is what it does for the actions of the bosses. One of the defining traits of classic slapstick cartoons is how much the characters can change from frame to frame. When a character gets mad, their head turns into a train whistle and lets out steam; when they get extremely frightened, an angel flies out of their body. I'm excited to announce that this concept of "anything goes" for character animations is utilized in every boss fight, and it's absolutely wonderful. Grim Matchstick, a dragon character, has his head turn into a flamethrower for one attack; the bee Rumor Honeybottoms turns into an entire fighter plane after reading a book; local giant mermaid Cali Maria gets shocked by eels and suddenly turns into a Medusa siren. This fluid form of boss design creates compelling, unique, and surprising fights, where anything can against those you're facing off with in a "swell bout!".

But how about that gameplay? Cuphead is a satisfying game to take on and conquer. Taking on a sidescrolling shooter form, it follows the games of yore with its difficulty and complexity of bullet patterns. The boss fights follow a "learn by error" form, where you're expected to fail a number of times before beating the bosses. Because of this, each fight has several different obstacles and phases to keep track of, and they only get trickier as the interaction continues. The game is certainly challenging at times; specific bosses and projectile patterns have left me exasperated. However, I've found that once I'm honed in and focused, the game actually isn't too hard. Even some late-game bosses, such as Sally Stageplay, only took me a few tries, since I had my brain unlocked by then. The trickiest part of Cuphead is making sure that your frustration doesn't cloud your judgment, or otherwise you will start making stupid mistakes and pay the price for it. I was stuck on the level Mountain Ascent much longer than I needed to be because of this. Mountain Ascent is a sideways platformer level, called Run & Gun levels in-game, and some of the enemy patterns and placements felt devious. That level was probably the roughest Cuphead has become for me; otherwise, the gameplay has been thoroughly enjoyable. These Run & Gun levels are few and far between, so it's a good thing that the meat and potatoes of the game, the bosses, play so well.

My one singular note about the game is performance. Usually, the game has plenty of polish, but occasionally character frames stutter, or animations play at the incorrect time. I noted in the title of this section that I played on the Switch, because I wasn't certain if this is a general issue with Cuphead or just a Switch-exclusive situation. It was never enough to pull me out of the game entirely, but it is something that catches your eye and can momentarily break your emersion. Small details like that matter more than people care to admit.

Cuphead isn't a perfect game for everyone. If you aren't partial to trial and error games, and you don't believe the sidescrolling shooter gameplay is right for you, Cuphead might not be worth your investment. In my experience, though, as somebody who has hardly played 2D shooters before this, Cuphead's design and general charisma sells it for me, and I'd recommend anybody who thinks it looks just a little bit interesting to try it. I'm sure it'll be worth your trouble.

Grade: A-, a New Record!!

My High School Graduation

I graduated, and that's no cap.

This section won't involve too many pictures, or otherwise I run the risk of doxing myself! Fun!

Yeah, so, two nights ago at the time of writing this, I had my high school graduation! I'm finally out of public schooling and can move on to bigger and better things, like college and sleeping all summer. What better way to cap off my graduation than to review it? I mean, public schools have been reviewing student performance for as long as I can remember, so it's only fair.

Graduation, just like everything else this school year, was pretty lame. I don't intend to sound ungrateful for all of the effort that's gone into this school year and trying to make it enjoyable for the seniors, but the key word here is trying. This school year was never going to be the final year we all envisioned, and I really wish the adults in charge had just let it go. There was so much stuff that happened this year that shouldn't have, so many halfhearted attempts at making this school year "one to remember!" I'm excited to say that I will remember this school year, but only because it was awful!

Okay, sorry, tangent aside, back to graduation. Our school has a special auditorium built into it, so while other schools are holding their ceremonies at much larger, open venues, our ceremony took place in a small theater. This caused a few issues, like how, while other seniors get the opportunity to invite up to six people to their graduations, each of our seniors only got two tickets. Probably the biggest issue goes like so: our graduating class was small, 64 seniors, which meant that 128 people needed to fit into our theater. Our seating isn't that large, which meant that, to fulfill the 6-foot protocol, seats needed to be spaced out appropriately. Chairs were paired up in two's, then established six feet from one another, all the way to the back of the auditorium, and with some added chairs in the aisle, it was just enough to hold the 128 invitees. "So great, Rose," I hear you say, "but what about those 64 seniors?" I'm so glad you asked, reader, because we had to be split into groups of three, moved into separate classrooms, and had to watch a livestream of the event!

That's right, no sitting there and watching each other graduate in person, we had to witness it all from a YouTube livestream. Fantastic. We also had to run a system of lining up by name, in the hallways outside of the theater. Our school has a tradition where every senior got to do a special "handshake" or other performance with the person awarding their diploma, BUT what this lineup system meant is that I hardly got to see any of those handshakes. Most of my peers were out in the hallway when I did mine, and I was stuck in the hallway when they did theirs. Really glad I got to celebrate my fellow seniors, guys.

There were also a few performances throughout by seniors, but I had seen literally all of them in the previous two days for other senior events. The only original work for the show was a piece I was a part of, with the rest of the seniors in my theatre class. We performed the monologue "Our revels now are ended" from Shakespeare's The Tempest, and because it was only like twelve lines between six people, we were finished in thirty seconds. You could tell the audience was confused, but I didn't really have the capacity to care at that point. If you want to hear more about how badly my school's theatre department flubbed absolutely everything this year, just let me know. The monologue was certainly the final cherry on top.

But that was graduation. I walked across the stage three times, I got my fancy diploma case, I performed a bad monologue, and now I'm at home, two days later. It's pretty wild to think that it's just... over now. My high school is a joint middle and high school, which meant I had gone there for seven years. Seven years dedicated to its programs and its people, and now I've simply moved on. And yet, despite this accomplishment, all of this hard work and will that I poured into everything I did, it ended with hardly more than a shrug. Another underwhelming event in a final year of underwhelming results. I'm reminded of the classic quote,

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”
T.S. Eliot

At least I got some cool photos with my friends afterwards.

Oh and I just remembered that our 4'8" white woman principal had a Black student say his name for his diploma instead of just learning how to say it. Wew.

Rating: 3/10 times I had to walk around the theater during the morning rehearsal

i'll figure this out later if i have time

You'll notice that the heading up above is in a different form in the others. When I have the time, I like to dedicate myself to three reviews per month, but I only had two ideas at the initial time of writing, so I just plugged in that sentence. But here we are now, in the slight future, and I believe there's only one thing to do: I'll review my ability to figure this out later.

This review is a bit tricky, because there's some serious nuance to be considered. By technicality, no, I did not figure this out later. The other two reviews were about specific concepts, while this is just me rambling about me not figuring something out to review. But then, by deciding to review myself not figuring out this review, haven't I figured out the review? In which case, I succeeded in what I set out to do. Is this a satisfactory conclusion, or is it not? I'm the one who gets to decide the success of this section.

I believe this to be true of success in general. We are the ones who decide what success looks like for ourselves. We uphold the standard by which we hold ourselves to, and though they may be influenced by outside opinions or influence, it is still up to us to determine how we view ourselves. A success for somebody could be going to Harvard, while another person could see simply getting out of bed as a great success. No matter what, though, every day, you are succeeding. You succeed every time to talk to someone, you make food, you step outside, and yes, every time you breathe is your body succeeding. So keep that in mind, no matter where you are in life or what you're pursuing. You're succeeding every day you're alive, and maybe every day after you're alive, too!

With this in mind, we return to our original review. How well did I figure out this part of the review, and how should I score myself on my measure of success? The answer: I doubt anybody cares that much.

Rating: Whatever you'd like this number to be/10


That's all I've got to review this month. Thank you for reading, and if you have any suggestions for what I should review next, feel free to let me know on the forums! Take care, and much love to you all.

'Shroom FM

Written by: MrConcreteDonkey (talk)

It's June. I'm very tired. Here are some albums from "May 2021". Not sure that was even a month.

MAY 2021
SFMcavalcade.jpg BLACK MIDI - CAVALCADE
I was a bit worried about this one – Black Midi’s debut, Schlagenheim, was one of my favourite records of 2019, but after hearing the main single from this album ("John L"), I wasn’t really blown away by it. It’s all very dramatic and chaotic but there’s not much to the main hook, and while Geordie Greep’s weird vocal performance works most of the time, here it feels completely unengaging. I think in general it just feels like a generic, average track from the band – and it’s right at the start of the album, too, which didn’t give me a lot of confidence. Thankfully, the rest of Cavalcade does deliver. Most of the tracks feel like they're trying something different and interesting - in only the first few tracks, you go from the tumultous, noisy "John L" to the summery, guitar-led "Marlene Dietrich", then to "Chondromalacia Patella", which is a lot jazzier, backing the complex guitar and drum lines with a laid-back piano, then later descending into chaos. The album generally sounds a lot smoother than Schlagenheim, which does enhance the lighter moments, but unfortunately often dulls the more abrasive elements, which are a key part of the band's sound. I'd also say as a result Greep's vocals on the whole don't stand out much, just fading into the background most of the time. That said, Cavalcade is still a fun and engaging album on the whole, and worth checking out whether you're familiar with the band's earlier work or not.
Best tracks Chondromalacia Patella, Marlene Dietrich, Diamond Stuff
SFMuncantopormexico2.jpg NATALIA LAFOURCADE - UN CANTO POR MÉXICO VOL. 2
I reviewed the first volume of this back in June last year - it's a very fun celebration of Mexican folk music and a real joy to listen to. This second volume pretty much continues along that theme - including new versions of songs by Lafourcade and other Latin American artists, traditional songs and even "Recuérdame" ("Remember Me") from Pixar's Coco (which Lafourcade performed for the film's credits). Everything I said about the first volume applies to this one too - it's consistently high quality, warm and intricate. Among the guest appearances, Mon Laferte's harmonies with Lafourcade on "La trenza / Amor completo" are gorgeous, Carlos Rivera gives one hell of a performance on "Recuérdame" - every performer here does a fantastic job. Interestingly, the folk song "La Llorona" appears twice on this album - once as an acoustic verison at the start, and then again later in the album with a fuller backing; the acoustic version works very well as an opener, using the minimalist instrumentation to bring Lafourcade's voice to the forefront, and slowly introduce the album's instrumentation. All in all, Un canto por México vol. 2 is another fun, jubilant album from Lafourcade, and whether you've listened to the first volume or not there's plenty to enjoy here.
Best tracks La llorona (versión acústica), Recuérdame, Para qué sufrir (versión acústica)
SFMbrightgreenfield.jpg SQUID - BRIGHT GREEN FIELD
I'd heard a few of the singles from this album before listening and generally thought they were okay - I liked Squid's Town Centre EP back in 2019 a lot, but didn't gel much with any of their newer stuff I'd heard, a bit like how I felt towards the new Black Midi stuff. "Narrator" was the Bright Green Field's, with the full version lasting 8 minutes. The main part of the song's a bit static, but listenable - but then after two and a half minutes it descends into chaos. The problem is, it doesn't feel like there's any reason for any of this to be happening. It feels irrelevant to the song and overdramatic, and lasts for over five minutes. And it's not the only song on the album with this issue - "Boy Racers" gives up around the three minute mark to fade into an 'ambient' section that just sounds like someone mindlessly playing around with a keyboard, for over four minutes. These are the two most grating songs on the album - there's some others that last longer than they should, but mostly they just end up feeling bland rather than actively annoying. On the topic of the vocals, they feel a lot more forced here than on the band's older material, like the singer's trying too hard to sing in a 'weird' or 'unique' voice. There's a few songs here that I did like, though - even a few of the longer ones, like 'Pamphlets', which is eight minutes long but does actually feel like a whole, satisfying song. Sadly, the good elements don't save this album from the average pile.
Best tracks Pamphlets, Paddling, G.S.K.
SFMdaddyshome.jpg ST. VINCENT - DADDY'S HOME
Hate to say it, but I really didn't enjoy this album. Of the two other St. Vincent albums I've listened to, neither are perfect, but they both have a lot of charm and at least one absolutely incredible song (Now, Now for Marry Me and Los Ageless for MASSEDUCTION) - and most importantly both feel unique to Annie Clark's style and personality. Daddy's Home, on the other hand... I was aware it was a different sound from her last few projects, but I didn't expect this retro soul pastiche. It's a concept that could work, but the execution is bland and flavourless. The album sometimes has a bit of a surreal vibe to it, such as the first track with its weird synth line, rickety percussion and awkward charm of the vocals. Unfortunately that doesn't count for much when the song itself doesn't go anywhere; after it nothing else in the first half did anything for me, and by the fourth track I was just bored of the whole thing. The only song here that I liked was "Down", where all of the album's good elements combine into a huge, fun chorus with a lot of power behind it. As for the rest of the album, "Somebody Like Me" is likeable enough, "My Baby Wants a Baby" interpolates Sheena Easton's "9 to 5" but doesn't do anything interesting with it, and the rest completely passed me by. I guess if you're into retro-sounding stuff with modern elements you could have a good time with this, but personally I just found it tedious and sluggish.
Best tracks Down, Somebody Like Me
SFMatinyhouse.jpg SWEET TRIP - A TINY HOUSE, IN SECRET SPEECHES, POLAR EQUALS
A Tiny House is only Sweet Trip's fourth album since forming nearly 30 years ago. Their 2003 album velocity : design : comfort is one of my favourite albums of all time - it takes you on a journey through these dreamy, almost-mechanical soundscapes that even now sound like they're from the future, amd combines sharp, jittery electronic noises with dense guitars. 2009's You Will Never Know Why is also a superb album, even though it loses the glitchier elements and as it moves more towards dream pop. This new album, A Tiny House..., is sort of a halfway point between the two; still leaning towards dream pop, but the IDM/glitch elements are much more prominent, and it works very well: take "Snow Purple Treasures", for instance, where the lush vocals and synths fit perfectly with the fast, intricate drum line. The band's sound doesn't sound like it's aged at all (in a good way) - many of the songs here do already feel like 'classic' Sweet Trip songs. You could say that A Tiny House... plays it slightly safer than the other albums in their catalog, not really reinventing the wheel but more refining it, but the band have such a fresh and unique style, and release so rarely, that it's easy to overlook. I don't have a lot to say here besides that Sweet Trip are incredible and any of their albums are very much worth your time - and this new one doesn't disappoint at all.
Best tracks Chapters, Walkers Beware! We Drive Into the Sun, Snow Purple Treasures, You
EP OF THE MONTH
SFM4newhitsongs.jpg DOSS - 4 NEW HIT SONGS
Alright. When I said I'd "never do this again" last month, I'd already listened to this and knew I wanted to write about it this month. I was actively lying to you, which is the last thing you'd expect from a former Fake News director. Anyway, here's 4 New Hit Songs! It's Doss' second EP, following on from her 2014 debut Doss, a collection of four deep, bright trance songs that are very easy to get lost in - and that's pretty much exactly what you'll find on 4 New Hit Songs. Here are four new songs, and they're all hits. Each track has a small vocal segment which is repeated and edited throughout each track, which manage to feel fresh and catchy. The tracks also do different things with the album's style by incorporating elements from different genres - "Puppy" is a dreamy trance song, "Look" is a more club-oriented house track, "Strawberry" brings in shoegaze-esque guitars which work surprisingly well with the trance elements, and "On Your Mind" is a fairly straightforward house track. It's a superb, lush EP with a very cool atmosphere; I'd highly recommend both this and her debut, as you can listen to both in well under an hour.
Best tracks Strawberry, Puppy, On Your Mind
FURTHER LISTENING
😉 CHAI - WINK 😉
💬 Czarface & MF DOOM - Super What? 💬
🥑 Daði Freyr - Welcome 🥑
🌄 Sam Gellaitry - IV 🌄
💞 Rochelle Jordan - Play With the Changes 💞

Pokédex Power

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

It's a Numb Pokémon, which matches so many of my emotional states.

Hello everyone, it's me, Yoshi876 again with a new edition of Pokédex Power, the section written by the person who has yet to take their first picture on New Pokémon Snap, mainly because I don't own it. I feel like I will pick it up at some point, and get some enjoyment out of it, but on the same level as Pokémon Link or Pokémon Rumble Blast in which I played for a bit, but then never really bothered to get around to finishing.

The concept seems fine, and I've enjoyed seeing people's pictures online and the gameplay clips which show the Pokémon world as a thriving ecosystem, with predator / prey relationships and Pokémon hanging out in their habitats just being themselves. Though anyone else notice how all the regions in the sidegames never manage to have their own new Pokémon?

But this week's focus, Numel, is not a new Pokémon, as it's been around since Generation III. I feel like I remember using Numel on my original copy of Ruby and evolving it into Camerupt, so I clearly liked this Pokémon, even though I don't really have many memories of it, and it hasn't really appeared in a lot of the games for me to make new memories. So, have I been missing out on its Pokédex entries? Let's find out…

Generation III

Pokémon Ruby Numel is extremely dull-witted – it doesn't notice being hit. However, it can't stand hunger for even a second. This Pokémon's body is a seething cauldron of boiling magma.
Pokémon Sapphire Numel stores magma of almost 2,200 degrees F within its body. If it gets wet, the magma cools and hardens. In that event, the Pokémon's body grows heavy and its movements become sluggish.
Pokémon Emerald A Numel stores boiling magma in the hump on its back. It is a hardy Pokémon that can transport a 220-pound load. It has served humans at work since long ago.
Pokémon FireRed Magma of almost 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit courses through its body. When it grows cold, the magma hardens and slows it.
Pokémon LeafGreen Magma of almost 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit courses through its body. When it grows cold, the magma hardens and slows it.

What is with the first three generations and having just oblivious Pokémon, we have Slowpoke and Quagsire, and now there's Numel who won't notice getting hit, but will notice getting hungry (not that we learn what it eats, presumably Berries)? That said, we do get a general gist of this fire camel, with it storing hot magma within its body. I do like the entries about how it grows sluggish when wettened, which makes sense with this being a camel Pokémon that presumably lives in the deserts where there's hardly any rain. It might be an annoying ability to have, but it would also have been nice to have seen this replicated someway in the games, with rain slowing this Pokémon down. We also learn how the Pokémon and humans interact very early on, with it acting as some form of pack mule, presumably they might have helped build ancient Pokémon pyramids if there were any. Perhaps it might be nice to know whether in places with a rainier climate whether Numel still work, or if they get shelters to make sure they're able to continue with work once the rain clears.

Generation IV

Pokémon Diamond Its humped back stores intensely hot magma. In rain, the magma cools, slowing its movement.
Pokémon Pearl Its humped back stores intensely hot magma. In rain, the magma cools, slowing its movement.
Pokémon Platinum Its humped back stores intensely hot magma. In rain, the magma cools, slowing its movement.
Pokémon HeartGold The flaming magma it stores in the hump on its back is the source of its tremendous power.
Pokémon SoulSilver The flaming magma it stores in the hump on its back is the source of its tremendous power.

The only entries worth examining come from the Johto region, but only for the briefest of glances. Is a 60 base stat attack and a 65 base stat special attack really deemed as tremendous power? Unlike last month's entry where we got ridiculous examples of its power, nothing here even hints to what Numel's tremendous power could be. Can its magma burst through solid rock, evaporate small streams, cook a microwaveable pizza for the right amount of time?

Generation V

Pokémon Black Its humped back stores intensely hot magma. In rain, the magma cools, slowing its movement.
Pokémon White Its humped back stores intensely hot magma. In rain, the magma cools, slowing its movement.
Pokémon Black 2 The magma in its body reaches 2,200 degrees F. Its hump gets smaller when it uses Fire-type moves.
Pokémon White 2 The magma in its body reaches 2,200 degrees F. Its hump gets smaller when it uses Fire-type moves.

Again, there's only one part of this entry worth examining, and I think it's a neat little detail. As Numel depletes its magma stores by using its attacks, its hump slowly grows smaller. Presumably this might also help with escape should it be fighting a stronger Pokémon, as a lighter Numel should make for a speedier one. But then the question is how does it fill back up, does Numel naturally produce magma inside it (likely), or does it drink magma from volcanoes in order to fill back up? It is a Fire-type, so the latter is within the realms of possibility.

Generation VI

Pokémon X Its humped back stores intensely hot magma. In rain, the magma cools, slowing its movement.
Pokémon Y The magma in its body reaches 2,200 degrees F. Its hump gets smaller when it uses Fire-type moves.
Pokémon Omega Ruby Numel is extremely dull-witted – it doesn't notice being hit. However, it can't stand hunger for even a second. This Pokémon's body is a seething cauldron of boiling magma.
Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Numel stores magma of almost 2,200 degrees F within its body. If it gets wet, the magma cools and hardens. In that event, the Pokémon's body grows heavy and its movements become sluggish.

Much like a Numel, Generation VI Pokédex entries are just stored from other games. Nothing new to see here folks.

Conclusion I like Numel and am disappointed it doesn't appear in more Pokémon games, but I am also disappointed with its entries. Other than its introductory generation, it only gets one new entry worth talking about each time we go around. To give credit where it's due, they are mostly neat little factoids, but generally Numel's entries just revolve around it storing magma and nothing else. Emerald had a great entry, and I wish we could see more of what Numel does in a real-world environment and how it can help people, I'd also like to know its diet considering it can barely go without food.

Anton's Half-Baked Reviews

Written By: Hypnotoad (talk)

words.

Buffalo

After that brief interlude, we’re back with another multi-part review because I just can’t stop diving DEEP into themes! This one I have a good reason for, too, as I’ll be reviewing Buffalo! No, not the national mammal of the United States, the other city that’s in New York that no one cares about! Buffalo, New York! These reviews were almost not possible as my flight had been cancelled due to a rapidly incoming lake-effect snow storm, in typical Buffalo fashion. Luckily I was able to find an earlier flight, leaving at 10:30pm a day earlier than planned and set to arrive at 1:05am, thanks to my vast pre-planning and packing powers, I was already set to get on it and go.

Shockingly accurate, I would like to see more.

In this review I’ll be prioritizing food, of course, but will include some key places and experiences as well. “But Anton,” you think, “didn’t you live in Buffalo for like 25 years?” Why, yes, I did, imaginary person I talk to to fluidly bring up a point, but I never really...lived it. There’s this phenomenon that I have yet to find fully described or named where you just don’t experience what’s in your home town in the way someone visiting it would. Think of cities or places you go on vacation or as a tourist, you map out all the top places to go, right? The best restaurants, what makes the area unique, the cool things to do, all the things, but you just don’t treat your own town like a tourist would. When I moved to Florida it was to get away, to try something new, be something new, but the pangs of homesickness crept in as realization hit that things I just took as part of everyday life just weren’t there anymore. The blustery chill on a crisp fall afternoon, delicate snowfall piling up more and more until everything is shut down, the smell of grapes swirling through the air, seasonal ice cream parlors with endlessly creative sundaes, demolishing a 40 pack of chocolate glazed TimBits, my beloved pizza logs, cup-and-char pepperoni, I couldn’t take it anymore, a trip back up was in order. But what would I do there? Surely not sit on the respective couches of my parents and do absolutely nothing, but of course absolutely load up my schedule with unique things to do around the area like a tourist would! Take in all the things that makes Buffalo a surprisingly rich and treasured cultural area that I just never saw necessary to take in. What was I missing, what was I neglecting, what will I regret to have moved away from? Seeing meme after meme of Buffalo starter packs and whatnot just filled with instantly recognizable things, but yet a lot of stuff I just never tried. What a good starting point!

Ted's Hot Dogs

There's not too many other pictures that look more Buffalo than this.

Ted’s is a small chain of hot dog restaurants, specializing in charcoal broiled hot dogs, hand-made milkshakes, and its famous hot dog sauce. Most locations are in Western New York, eight of them currently, with one of them curiously located in Tempe, Arizona, because the original owner’s son had moved there. With its pretty standard New York immigrant beginnings, Ted’s has been completely and warmly entered into the Buffalo pantheon as a staple synonymous with daily life.

Cute.

I kept my order simple, a Loganberry Milkshake with whipped cream for $4.29, and a Footlong for $4.59, topped with relish, mustard, onion, and what I thought was bbq sauce but ended up looking like runny ketchup (spoiler alert: it’s their Ted’s Hot Dog Famous Hot Sauce). The Loganberry Milkshake was shockingly accurate in flavor, mildly tart raspberry, but with a pleasant sweetness; not so much standard berry flavor. The milkshake itself was thick, creamy, filling, and refreshing, everything you could ask for. The Footlong is pretty much what I expected from a Buffalo classic: Sahlen’s hot dog, charred and crispy, blackened and blistered, with a nice snap when you bite into it, on a plush doughy potato roll. They put most of the condiments on for you as they prepare it in front of you, while still allowing you to pick and choose how much of whatever you want. For me, I don’t like an abundance of condiments, as I find they just all end up falling off and making a mess, and I’m not a fan of getting unworkably sloppy as I eat, and especially when I was conducting this review as it was seated in my car on my way up to visit college friends. Other than being charcoal broiled, they have a pretty standard menu not unlike any other basic hot dog joint you may find in the north east.

Condiment application could've been better.

So what made Ted’s different for me? I’ve had Loganberry before, charbroiled and chargrilled hot dogs are pretty much all I knew growing up and I can still smell it if I close my eyes and think about it, even the brand of hot dog, Sahlen’s, is all we used; heck, I used to play soccer on the Sahlen’s field. Well I just had simply never been to a Ted’s Hot Dog before. Yeah, I lived in the Buffalo metropolitan area, but really like 30 minutes away from the suburbs and city proper, which was really too far to go just to get a hot dog. What made this unique to me was the atmosphere; it felt like a food truck or a gameside stand, but operated like a fast-paced but homey diner. I don’t know, it just felt comfortable, bustling but at peace, the natural order; no big business or corporate feel to it, just a bunch of humble larger-than-life workers proud of what they do. You can absolutely prepare all of this stuff yourself right at home, barring access to the specific Sahlen’s hot dog that’s not available everywhere, but what Ted’s does is make it perfect in a comforting nostalgic setting. Just simply superior to Nathan’s, no other way to put it.

Next time, I’ll try the onion rings.

PJ’s Crystal Beach Loganberry

Can you guess which month I was there?
“Wait wait wait, Anton, what even is Loganberry?” It’s a real berry, yes, a hybrid of blackberries and red raspberries. Originally, and accidentally, cultivated in Central California, it’s available throughout North America and the UK. The reason it’s such an indispensable part of Buffalonian gastronomy is because of its prominence as a flavoring of a drink sold at Crystal Beach Park, a now-closed amusement park near Fort Erie, Ontario, just a quick skip over the Niagara River from Buffalo. After the park had closed for good, the drink remained popular. PJ’s Crystal Beach Loganberry, a non-carbonated drink, is bottled by Coca-Cola and available throughout Western New York, along with Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry, owned by Pepsi. This specific brand has its own history but I honestly really don’t care. They seem to go a bit heavy on how important they are to all this, with flavor text on their bottle that briefly brings up the history of Crystal Beach Park before going right into very careful and manipulative wording, “PJ’s unique Crystal Beach Loganberry (...) originally sold only at PJ’s Famous Bar-B-Que restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York.” Nevermind that Saratoga Springs is about as far away from Crystal Beach as you can be while still being in New York, but yeah of course your own recipe for the drink will have only been sold at your restaurant; this has nothing to do with you and the connection to the park only exists as a fictional narrative, co-opting a legacy that just simply isn’t theirs. While this doesn’t matter in terms of the actual liquid product, I just am physically unable to let bullshit get by me.

While I’m coming into this already being familiar with Loganberry, it’s purely through the lens of having it available at the soda fountain at the pizza shop I worked at, which was the Aunt Rose’s brand, and I pretty much exclusively mixed it 1:1 with Sprite because I wanted it carbonated, and can’t recall having a full serving of the regular non-carbonated one. The smell of it is very sweet, fruity, and syrupy, and lo and behold, various syrups are what make up this drink. The taste is not much of a stretch past that, much like a melted popsicle. I expected a really syrupy taste and feel as it's not carbonated, but it was really smooth and refreshing, like a fresh juice, but this isn’t to cover up that it does ultimately taste artificial. Word around town is that it tastes better from the fountain, but honestly, what doesn’t?

Mixes well with white wine, by the way. I think I’d be more willing to use this as a mixer, rather than straight. I was about to say it kinda tastes and functions like Ribena, and it turns out I totally said the inverse when I reviewed Ribena. A nice berry flavor without the awkward tartness, but in the case of Loganberry I’m convinced it’s because it’s absolutely loaded with sugar.

Ted's Hot Dog Famous Hot Sauce

What a unique fursona.

So far I seem to be simply waxing poetically about things I already mostly know and didn’t realize I fondly treasured, but Ted’s is also famous for its hot sauce, aptly named Ted’s Hot Dog Famous Hot Sauce. Apparently I had this on my Ted’s Footlong, but couldn’t exactly pinpoint it as a star flavor in the mix, perhaps being drowned out by stronger pickle relish, so here’s to trying to avoid that happening again!

It’s originally known as “Ted’s Famous Hot Chili Sauce”, a rename I’m wondering if was made more out of selling what sounds like a more basic product rather than a more accurate name. A LOT of ingredients are listed, but top ones to name are ketchup, vinegar, sweet relish, hot pepper relish, pepper relish, Worcestershire sauce, and more peppers. Peppers, peppers, peppers, relish, chili, relish, peppers, relish. Seems a lot like just a sweet Thai chili sauce to me, and with the words “Hot & Spicy & Sweet & Delicious” right on the label, that’s exactly what I’m expecting.

Following suit, it’s sweet and spicy, very reminiscent of Thai chili sauce, but slightly smokier, more like a hybrid between it and a weak bbq sauce. Good thick viscosity without being too lumpy and clumpy; graced a hot dog pretty well.

Texas Brand Hot Dog Sauce Instant Mix

Seeing this package triggers ancient memories.

While we’re on the topic of hot dogs and various goops you can lather them up with, Texas Brand Hot Dog Sauce Instant Mix is something that was just simply ubiquitous when I lived in New York and never thought anything of it. There it was, just always sitting on a little overhanging rack on a bunch of shelves in Tops, never failing to keep watch over the store brand mustards.

Texas Brand is actually just one of several brands of Pellicano’s, a Buffalo-local manufacturing plant focusing on various sauces, rubs, spice blends, mixes, and serves as a private label co-packing facility. The Texas Brand Hot Dog Sauce Instant Mix doesn’t have much to do with Texas, but rather is for the Western New York (and New Jersey, Philadelphia, Connecticut area) style of hot dogs, Texas Hots, a hot dog dish with a spicy beanless beef topping meant to (inaccurately) evoke Texas chili. The sauce is apparently Greek-inspired, which makes sense as a Buffalo product as there is a significant Greek population with Greek Orthodox churches being quite significant community hubs. What makes it Greek? I...can’t really tell, it’s just what everyone says about it, so let’s go with it. Is it the paprika? Garlic? Onions? Well the dude who made it in the 1920s was Greek so let’s go with that. While Texas Hots are something you can find throughout much of the Northeast US, this specific Texas Brand mix you’re only gonna find in the 716 and 585.

Ted's (left), and Texas Brand (right), a well-rounded dinner.

As the package says, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil, remove from the heat and add 3 oz of ground beef, then add the contents of the package, and finally just mix it up and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. It’s just like...ok, I guess? It’s just a packet of seasoning. Anyone can just do it themselves but I guess this takes any thought out of the process. OK so what’s in the ingredients that matters: bread crumbs, onion, ‘spices’, salt, garlic powder, and, probably most importantly, modified food starch to get the texture just right. All that for about $2 per packet, which can get you around 6-7 hot dogs depending on how sloppy you like them. Eh. I mean. Sure. I just feel that once you understand the base components you can then just go to a big-box warehouse retail store like Costco and just get those handful of items for like $20 and be able to make enough mix for 300 hot dogs, give or take depending on how sloppy you like them. Plus I feel that the quality of the ground beef you use, as well as your ability to boil water, heavily impacts the end product here. To comment on the spices, it’s not quite as hot as I was expecting it to be, instead rather mild. Perhaps this is simply a taste of home that I didn’t have growing up (because I was a picky eater and refused it) and just never developed the feel for it.

Just use your own spices, but don’t forget the starch.

Paula's Donuts

Here we are, Paula’s Donuts. Not many places in Buffalo, or even my experience across the country, are as iconic and viewed with such reverence localized sanctification as Paula’s Donuts. The three-store chain has even been declared as having the best donuts in New York state by Food & Wine magazine, absolutely shaking the boots of every Western New Yorker and pumping more undiluted pride into their local spirit.

You can almost see them getting stale even though it's a jpg.

They sell a lot of what you’d expect to see in any other bakery kinda place, with coffee, deli sandwiches, bagel, but very clearly specialize in and prioritize donuts. Food & Wine specified Paula’s cannoli donut, and others recommend their ‘angel cream’ filled donuts, but I instead went for personal standards that I could quickly compare to others I have tried, and also maximize my shot at not blowing my money on some snacks for myself for the day on a risky venture. From the picture I have so graciously provided, from left to right, top down: Chocolate Honeydipped, Honeydipped, Powder Bavarian, Peanut Butter, Peanut Stick, and Chocolate Peanut. Let’s-a go! Chocolate Honeydipped is a glazed cake donut, and it’s my premier choice of donut, there’s nothing that can stop me from consuming a full dozen of a chocolate glazed cake donut if it’s just right. Unfortunately, this one seems pretty dry and hard, almost as if it was burnt, not so much stale. The glaze was also pretty thick, which is often alright, but with a donut that was just so stiff it was uncomfortable and messy. Honeydipped is just a basic glazed yeast donut, and was nice and soft, tasted not-too-sweet and fresh. Powder Bavarian, honestly, wasn’t my choice and was for my brother, who seemed to like it. My one bite of it didn’t cause me to wither or rot, it was fine, sure was a powdered donut with a cream filling. Peanut Butter is a peanut butter ‘angel cream’ filled yeast donut with a chocolate frosting; was nice, neither flavor overpowered the other and stayed in their lanes. The donut was filled to the point of bursting with peanut butter cream which...I respect? I would’ve liked some more dough, but I can’t complain about that while living in a world where filled donuts almost always have the most meager amount of filling. The angel cream, which is just their name for their secret recipe whipped cream, was nice, airy, and smooth, but almost so light that it made biting into the donut a risk towards having it all explode out the other side. Peanut Stick was also a cake donut, dipped in glaze and covered in crushed peanuts, but seemed to be more like actual sheet cake mix than donut. It was much softer, moist, and overall better than the Chocolate Peanut as a result, which seemed to use a similar, if not the same, type of mix and batter as the initial Chocolate Honeydip. Overall, fine. BIG disappointment with the Chocolate Honeydip, what is normally my ultimate favorite ended up being such a disappointing dud, but the others held their own and earned their worth being a selection in a half-dozen that cost me like $12.

Probably the most beautiful donut I've ever seen, but looks deceived me.

The Peanut Stick is probably the single donut that holds the weight of Paula’s Donuts on its back, a local delicacy that I’m astonished doesn’t exist much of anywhere else in the country. It’s just a simple cake donut, cut into a bar shape rather than a ring, dipped in glaze, then rolled in crushed peanuts. I’m personally aware of their lack of physical range because they’re my brother’s favorite donut, as he has a chocolate allergy; every other crushed peanut donut uses chocolate glaze or frosting, except for the prevalence of peanut sticks and similar-in-spirit within Buffalo. Otherwise, they didn't really have the plethora of options I was kind of expecting, only really had the basics and some general variations on those. Leaning a bit on deeming it overrated; sure, cool donuts, but Dunkin and Tim Hortons has better taste and costs less, whether they’re frozen or not I don’t really care. A local shop by me, Donut King, has a larger variety you can find on their main page, plus a whole bunch of specialty ones not listed, yet don’t seem to have attained such a mythical status here in Orlando as Paula’s has in Buffalo. Paula’s offers like 4 or 5 funky flavors no one else really does and I think that’s what does it for them, but if I want a Peanut Stick I’ll just get it for $1 at Tops and be on my way, apple cider donuts being made available seasonally at any number of orchards and farms around, and then with Tim Hortons selling a 40 pack of Timbits for like $8 with a consistently stellar chocolate glazed cake, I just really have no reason to consider Paula’s.

There’s so many other shops around Buffalo, but to point out one in particular are the Duper Donuts from South Dayton Supermarket. I acknowledge that they’re at a disadvantage, being located in a small rural town about 45 minutes south of downtown Buffalo, while Paula’s has a spread throughout the highly populated suburbs. I initially suspected the hype for Paula's in Buffalo is simply due to a lack of other options, clouding the locals' judgment that what they have must be good, a similar phenomenon I’ve experienced in Florida with Publix Chicken Tender Subs, but that’s clearly not the case. Maybe it’s a media-based recursive praise; they’re the best because they’re said to be the best, a tourist focal point or a digestible bite of tradition and nostalgia. I may be going a little hard on them, I don’t know, they’re fine. They’re not worth their cult status by really any measure, but that shouldn’t degrade what donuts they do offer, and I don’t always need the fanciest ones; their more plain options that they do offer is really all that I need. They’re just fine. If I’m in town and nearby, sure, ok.

Paula’s Donuts, where they sure do have some donuts that you can buy with money.

Bison French Onion Dip

Bison dip is another household name in Buffalo that, growing up, just seemed to be in the same family as Kleenex, Aspirin, and Jell-O as just what those products are called (keep saying ‘photoshop’, destroy Adobe), but, much like growing up to learn Santa isn’t real, Bison is actually the brand name. There just simply was no other dip, nothing compared to it, no one wanted anything else, no one bought anything else. Every single party had Bison dip, and no other Bison dip tops the list like Bison French Onion Dip.

Matches my mom's countertop.
Bison, acquired by another Buffalo company, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. in 1983 which also owns Upstate Farms, probably the most pervasive and omnipresent milk brand in Western New York, introduced their award-winning Bison French Onion Dip in 1958, quite a perfect time for a regional staple to blossom and enter the pantheon. There’s certainly other flavors, but it just doesn’t seem right if it’s not that purple and blue. Now that I’m older and have realized that creamy dips will not cast certain death upon me, this became a must-have, but before I could even go and list off things I needed to get for this planned review to my family my sister-in-law had already got her hands on some because she required it that much.

Grade A Real milk, with an emphasis on fresh dairy and that it’s made with real sour cream, I can kinda get a feeling of what this will be like. With a handy dandy pretzel crisp I dive in. It’s pretty much what you’d guess it would be like, a sour cream based dip with seasonings, but it’s noticeably creamier, smoother, with a gentle onion flavor. Most importantly, it was not thick and rigid enough to snap my chip, and instead light and smooth.

In true l’esprit de corps, Lay’s, Kraft, Heluva Good, simply no other chip dip compares, and thanks to the corporate spread of Wegman’s you may not have to travel all the way through to snowy New York to get it.

Oh, grease cup pepperoni, I shall return to you one day.
The 'Shroom: Issue 171
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