Reviews – Cascade Farms Graham Crunch Cereal, Kroger Simple Truth Organic Orange Juice

Cascade Farms Graham Cracker Crunch – If you have been thinking “Gee, I have a real hankering for a cereal that resembles Golden Grahams but isn’t very good,” Cascade Farms has just the cereal for you.

Although the box does not say so anywhere, I have always suspected that Cascade Farms is owned by, distributed by, or somehow otherwise affiliated with General Mills. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The top of the carton sports Box Tops for Education.
  2. Every product Cascade Farms offered seems to be very similar to a General Mills product.

I rather like Golden Grahams in sort of a guilty pleasure way. It was one of my favorites as a kid. It isn’t the healthiest cereal out there, but it isn’t exactly Captain Crunch either. It’s just sort of a sweet, crunchy, curiously glossy cereal. Based on how similar Cascade Farm’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch-style cereal is to the real thing I had high hopes for this one.

Nope. This looks and tastes like you’d expect Trader Joe’s attempt at a Golden Grahams-style cereal to taste like. The cereal, which is more matte than Golden Grahams, is heavily coated in visible sugar, whereas with the real product the sugar seems to be blended into each nugget of cereal product. Somehow it tastes less sweet, more dry, and less flavorful all around. Yet it still leaves the cereal consumer with the same empty, guilty feeling he or she would have after eating real Golden Grahams. C-

Kroger Simple Truth Organic Orange Juice (with pulp – not from concentrate) – This is almost as good as Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Orange Juice, which is by itself entirely worth the price of an annual Costco membership. That stuff seriously tastes almost as good as the stuff from one of those automatic orange juicing machines.

It is definitely not the same product repackaged though. The jug is a little different. It doesn’t have a plastic protector seal under the cap, and it tastes only perhaps 92 percent as delicious. It is also available in “no pulp” and “with pulp” varieties. The pulp level in the “with pulp” variety is similar to the “some pulp” or “homestyle” varieties of Tropicana/Florida’s Natural/Simply and certainly less than Tropicana’s absurdly pulpy “Grovestand” variety. It is also better than anything made by those brands – or the non-organic version of Kroger’s not-from-concentrate OJ. Somehow this orange juice tastes fresher than it probably actually is, lacking in any kind of discernible “packaging” taste. The pulp also adds some refreshing zing. When stacked up against Kirkland Signature’s masterpiece of an organic orange juice, at $3.49 at Fred Meyer, this one is a whopping $1.50 cheaper per unit item, and you only have to buy one at a time. A

Reviews – Tacocat / This Mess is a Place, Huggies “Special Delivery” diapers

Tacocat/This Mess is a Place (2019) – In the tradition of “fun” Seattle bands like the Young Fresh Fellows and the Presidents, the less silly, more political, surf-tinged Tacocat return with their third and best (poppies, catchiest, and most cohesive) album so far, recalling 90s acts like the Cranberries, Ace of Base, and Velocity Girl across its ten tracks. This is also mastered noticeably quieter and is thereby better-sounding than their previous record. A+

Huggies “Special Delivery” N-size diapers – These are packaged in an attractive black box, which is 99 percent of why I bought them. For reasons that probably have everything to do with anatomy, our similarly-sized son got along with Pampers but not Huggies, but Huggies are the better match for our daughter. These have cute slogans like “hello, world” on the diaper and a little dip-down for the umbilical stump. They are also unscented, which is a big plus. They aren’t terrifically different from regular Huggies, but the black box is hard not to buy. By the way, the first food product packaged in black was Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Why not? A

Review – TBASA / Caffeinated Funeral Songs (2019)

Much like me, TBASA, who I met about ten years ago playing in a Michael Jackson cover band, releases a solo album about once per year, generally playing and recording everything himself. Much like Beck, who may follow a textural, organic record like Morning Phase with the glossy pop of Colors, genre-hopping TBASA makes albums that are quite different from each other but share the same songwriting signature, rendering the backwoodsy Brevity is its Hallmark and the poppy, tuneful Don’t Say Sucks roughly equally good albums.

Caffeinated Funeral Songs, like its predecessor, showcases Tim’s acoustic guitar-and-voice side very well with minimal yet fully textured and dreamy landscapes created by reverb and soft sonic touches. There are no full drum sets, house arrangements, or rapping this time around. (But there very well might be on next year’s album. Next year’s album might feature piano on every track too. Who knows? That’s the great thing about these albums.) At least three of these songs are older, including “Downward Slide,” which happens to be the first TBASA song I ever heard. It works well as the opening cut here as it is, probably more than any other song I can think of, the prototypical TBASA song. Don Farwell, who my pals in the Stereo Creeps record with, recorded this track, and the seriousness of Farwell’s craft is evident year. What surprises me is that, with the transition to the second song, which is recorded by Tim himself and features a prominent electric bass alternating between steady root notes and some cool little runs, probably in some kind of non-studio setting, there isn’t any kind of noticeable drop-off in production quality, which is a testament to both Tim’s growing production chops and the improving quality of home recording technology. The sound and feel remains consistent throughout the album.

I was not disappointed to hear three familiar songs. Sometimes when I am recording a new record I find that some older song that I had never recorded, never recorded well, or never really “finished,” is a perfect song for the current project. I also don’t think I have heard a recorded version of “Wishful Fisher” until now. When I was in Marnie with Tim we rehearsed the song early in our formation, I forgot about it, and towards the end of our run it briefly became part of our set list. (There is YouTube footage from the Can Can to prove it.)

Maybe I’m biased due to an immediate “Hey! I recognize that song!” reaction with three songs, but Caffeinated Funeral Songs has more of an immediacy to it than The Empath and the Hypervigilant. Although they are similarly dreamy acoustic sets, I would say Empath was more of an “alone in a cave” quality, whereas Funeral Songs feels more “intimate” or “at home.” (Similarly, to my ears Good Good Good is Tim’s “space” album.) It has a heavy dose of catchy, with songs like “Mrs. Succubus” featuring a heaping helping of TBASA’s special catchy sauce.

Having not written reviews on a regular basis since lapsed a couple years ago I struggle to wrap up this review, saying something along the lines of “This is a good record. You should listen to it. There are also many other sides to TBASA, so you should listen to his other records, including next year’s, and the one from the year after that, too.” A couple years ago I probably could have said more than I just said in one paragraph. The new version of WordPress also has a lot more paragraph functions and such that pop up unexpectedly. I’m rusty and out of it. Anyways, my five-year-old son just yelled from the living room “Dad! I am thirsty for the last of the milk!” with hilarious prosody. There is actually a tiny bit of milk still left, but I will have to hit up a grocery store, hopefully Safeway or Trader Joe’s (the stores with the best milk, for completely explainable reasons that are a lot more objective than “this milk has more of an at-home quality than this other milk with its alone-in-a-cave quality,” which could be the topic for a further review), and get some more milk.

Anyways, keep ’em coming. I’m a middle aged dad now, and I need the inspiration!