Wednesday, December 02, 2015

RECORD REVIEW: Tyranny is Tyranny

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

The fact that Tyranny is Tyranny took the subtitle of Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism for the name of their latest full-length gives you a pretty good idea where this band comes from politically. Musically, they come from a bleak post-hardcore region of noisy sludge. Geographically, they hail from Madison, WI, which has a fair bit of snowy sludge for a good chunk of the year. I lived in Madison for a stretch recently and was able to catch this band of raging lefties in action a few times. One show was at Mr. Roberts, which Chicagoans should imagine as the Mutiny only with Packers/Brewers garb and signage instead Bears/Cubs.

The album contains only five songs, but they are all either mini-epics or full-on multi-part tunes that push the album past the 40 minute mark. Throaty screaming about the ills of capitalism running unchecked and amuck provides much of the subject matter. The album opens with "Or Does it Explode" a reference to the poem "Harlem" with lyrics inspired by two other Langston Hughes poems, "Lenox Avenue Mural" and "Let America Be America Again". The second track, "She Who Struggles," concerns itself with J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO program. It opens slowly with sparse instrumentation before bursting into rage. The album is not all full-on metal plodding, "Pillar of Cloud Pillar of Fire" features a somber trumpet as it builds and collapses. "Victory Will Defeat You" ends the album over the course of  a nearly fifteen minute march.

Being in a band can feel like a long hard slog sometimes and Tyranny is Tyranny delivers a good forceful pounding which post hardcore fans will enjoy regardless of their politics,

Photo by Bronson Karaff

Happy 10th Anniversary to the Reglar Wigar Blog!

2015 almost went by without me realizing that this year marks the 10th Anniversary of "The Reglar Wiglar Electronic Blog featuring Comics & Music News, Reviews & Interviews" -- a.k.a. the blog you are quickly glossing over right now! This post will be the 1,562nd and it's just as uninteresting as all of its 1,561 predecessors. Special thanks to Mr. Shipping/Receiving for setting the RW blog up a decade ago. As of this posting, there have been over 98,400 visitors to this site, all of whom have left a better person having read it. I hope there are 98,400 more in the next ten years. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

ZINE REVIEW: Every Day Failures

Sarah B. (Punch Drunk Press)

Every Day Failures (meaning failures every day, not commonplace failures) is a perzine which recounts an eight-week period of time in the life of Sarah B. Shortly after Sarah's partner leaves her and their two young children for a job in the city, Sarah takes her daughters (ages 3 and 14 months) from the punk house where they've been living to her aunt’s much nicer home in the suburbs where she’ll be housesitting for the next two months. During her time of relative isolation in the 'burbs, Sarah cycles through periods of depression and decadence, shame in her poverty and annoyance by her surroundings. Like any good autobiographical zine, Every Day Failures provides a snapshot of Sarah's life and struggles to live according to her own principles. The temporary housesitting situation eventually ends and Sara presumably returns to the punk house where more every day failures await to become everyday failures. Hopefully there will be a few every day successes mixed in there as well.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

ZINE REVIEW: Think Tank DIY #1 & #2

Reggie Martinez (Punch Drunk Press)

Brevity is the soul of wit, said some guy one time, and Shakespeare was right. Brevity also makes for easy-to-read zines like Reggie Martinez’s Think Tank DIY. In these few pages of issues one and two, Reggie offers up his ideas for a number of movie, cookbook, novel and restaurant projects. He offers them all for free and wishes anyone well should they try to turn one of them into a profitable business venture. Reggie asks for nothing in return, not even credit for the idea. That said, many of these ideas would be impossible to pull off, or at the very least, not worth the time and money necessary in the attempt. A 24/7 doughnut delivery shop called Dough Not Leave the House (plausible) an Angry Birds parody titled Angry Nerds (I can see it) a parody artist called Natalie Merchant of Venice, who sings lines from Shakespeare (see above) to the tune of 10,000 Maniacs songs (pretty narrow demographic, but sure), these all could be accomplished, but at what cost in human suffering? Anyway, you get the idea about Reggie's ideas. The best idea he's had so far may be this zine about his cockamamie ideas. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

BUY: Zinester Trading Cards

Hey Zine Fans, 

Zinester trading cards from Billy da Bunny are here! You may know Billy from his zine (Proof I Exist) or from his old distro (Loop Distro) but perhaps you weren't aware of his more recent Zinester Trading Card project. Series 2 is now available through Billy's Etsy site and they're only three lousy bucks per set. 

FYI: yours truly has his own card in the new series, so if that isn't an added bonus, I'm not sure what is?

Friday, October 23, 2015

COMICS REVIEW: My Life In Records Chapters 3 & 4

Chapters 3 & 4 By Grant Thomas
My Life in Records is a comic book series created by Grant Thomas. The book details Grant’s personal history with music — his life in records. The comic is formatted in imitation of mini LP and 45 covers and Grant has thus far released four records, or chapters.

In Chapter Three, Grant recounts his childhood Star Wars fixation (movies, action figures, soundtrack, etc.) as well as memories of his grandfather's reel-to-reel player. Chapter Four is Grant's memory of getting an alarm clock radio as a boy and trying out the classical music station before settling on the Christian spot on the dial. He shares his memories of Sunday school lessons where the teacher shows his class videos about the dangers of listening to rock music — Satanic at worst and anti-Christian at the very least. While Grant is intrigued by the music discussed in class he decides to stick to his Christian station. Perhaps he remains a devotee of Christian rock on through adulthood and remains as such today. Maybe his world expanded to included other genres at some point. To find out we'll just have to wait until he throws another record on the comics turntableChris Auman

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

COOKBOOK REVIEW: Hot Damn and Hell Yeah

Recipes for Hungry Banditos: Vegan Tex-Mex & Southern Eats
Ryan Splint (Microcosm)

When Ryan Splint moved to the Land Down Under, or as they call it in the American South, the Land Down Yonder, he soon found himself missing the Tex Mex cuisine of his youth. His Aussie friends encouraged him to write a cookbook chock full of vegan versions of these Southern staples. And so he did. Hot Damn and Hell Yeah is the 10th Anniversary expanded edition of that effort. It contains all sorts of delicious recipes made 100% free of animal products. From "corndawgs" to "chili con non-carne," ya'll vegan doggies can cook up these vittles yourselves on prairies, patches, vegetable ranches or around any campfire you find yourself in front of.

The recipes are purposefully straightforward and easy to concoct. While a vegan diet is certainly healthy (if done correctly), this book does not aspire to be a healthy cookbook per se. The focus is on taste first and foremost. These recipes sure do look pretty goldang good and the ingredients should be easy to rustle up at your local, healthy, more whole foodier storesChris Auman

BUY: Hot Damn & Hell Yeah: Recipes for Hungry Banditos, 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (Vegan Cookbooks)

Monday, October 12, 2015


Hey Kids! It's official: Reglar Wiglar #23 has been prepped and is ready to be sent to your door. In this issue, I continue my long employment woes in "The Book of Jobs Part 2." Also: "The History of Music," "Forgotten American Music Masters,"  another edition of "Hungover Poetry," and more Donald Trump's record reviews, including Trump Versus Justin Bieber and Iggy Azalea. Also: much, much more (but not that much more). Buy ten copies today!

Friday, August 07, 2015

COMICS REVIEW: Snake Pit Gets Old

Diary Comics from 2010-2012 
Ben Snakepit (Microcosm)

Snakepit gets old, I get old, we all get old. I enjoy diary comics. From Jesse Reklaw’s 10,000 Things to Do to James Kochalka's American Elf and The Sketchbook Diaries. Can reading them get a little mundane after awhile? Sure. Can life? You bet, but the act of reading them (and creating them as well, no doubt) becomes a ritual. Life ain’t all cheesecake and raspberry smoothies, at least in my experience. I keep a journal myself. Been doing it for about five years. It reads much like this comic. There are plenty of fun nights and hungover days. There are hours filled with sucky work, but there are small victories and funny stuff in there too. Ben thinks he can’t draw. So what? Not the point. I enjoyed reading this compilation of daily strips and I liked seeing what song he listened to on a given day. Don’t always agree with his opinion of movies and he’s dead wrong about Hunter S. Thompson, but he's right about Hose Got CableChris Auman

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Burning Like a Heatwave: 20th Anniversary of the Summer of 1995

Boy, it sure got hot around Chicago in the summer of 1995. Not like the 66 degrees temps we have here today. Here's how I remembered that summer a few years later in 1997.  (Originally published in RW #9)

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Cassetty Stickers on Your Phone? Yep.


Get real super excited Cassetty Fans, 'cause everyone's favorite cassette tape finally has his own line of stickers from LINE. LINE is a Japanese communications app. that you can download for free! It's big in Japan, so get in now before it explodes worldwide.

Friday, June 05, 2015

ZINE REVIEW: Dwelling Portably

Bert and Holly Davis (Microcosm)

Dwelling Portably has been around awhile — dang near forty years, in fact. I remember receiving issues in my P.O. box back in the Nineties. Even then this zine was crammed to the margins with advice about existing off the grid and living off the land. I loved the idea of DP and the chaotic look and feel of it, but the information contained within never held much relevance to me as an urban dweller. It’s nice to see it compiled here, although the type is just as tiny and condensed as ever. DP is still jam packed to bursting with how-to's, advice and DIY guides for the nomadic life and is still dutifully put together by Bert and Holly Davis who have been dwelling portably in Somewhereville, Oregon for well past thirty yearsChris Auman

Monday, April 13, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Brew it Yourself

Professional Craft Blueprints for Home Brewing
Erik Spellmeyer (Microcosm)

Home brewing has come a long way since the the mid 90s when a roommate of mine brought home some ridiculous contraption called Mr. Beer. While Mr. Beer did allow you to brew your own suds back in the day, it sure produced an awful tasting end product. At least that was my experience. Not to be outdone, another roommate during this period also tried his hand at home brewing. Instead of some preformed plastic gizmo, he kicked it a little more old school with stainless steel pots, big thermometers, giant wooden stirring spoons and whatnot. His output tasted like crap too. Were either of these gents to read my description of their beer making efforts here today, they would undoubtedly, wholeheartedly defend their product and defy that it tasted anything but delicious. My taste buds don’t lie, however.

At any rate, we’ve come a long way from the skunky flavor, moldy basement aroma and horrendous aftertaste of Mr. Beer and his ilk, and Mr. and Ms. Beer Drinker appreciate that. It's too bad this book, Brew it Yourself, wasn't lying around the apartment back then because that certainly would have helped the situation.

Brew it Yourself  is a do-it-yourself guide that comes correct with info and how-tos on the how to of extract brewing, all grain brewing and the importance of sanitation to the fermenting process. Written by beer crafter and suds enthusiast, Erik Spellmeyer, this is an informative guide that will allow anyone with a little time, a little money and a passion for great hops to brew their own. You can make it as easy or as involved as you like. There are recipes for pales, ales and extra special bitter beers as well as a glossary, conversion guide and a brew log to chart your progress, or lack thereof.

I must confess that I do not plan on brewing my own beer, ever. I prefer getting beer the old fashioned way, I buy it already bottled. However, I am definitely going to pass this book on to Roommate #1 who has since returned to home brewing, this time employing a much more efficient system, and is no doubt brewing delicious malts and IPAs while the former Mr. Beer more than likely lies at the bottom of a deep landfill somewhereChris Auman

Friday, February 27, 2015


A Graphic Tale of Working Woes at NYC’s Strand Bookstore
Greg Farrell (Microcosm)

The retail book business has changed since the dawn of the Internet Age and organized labor has certainly seen plenty of shifts of its own since that time. A long recession followed by a sluggish recovery, the proliferation of ebooks, Nooks and that destroyer of worlds, have proven as harmful as the apocalyptic chain store threat of Barnes and Noble just a few decades ago. This is all evident in the graphic novel, On the Books, created by writer/artist/rapper and bookstore employee Greg Farrell. This is Farell’s depiction of the 2012 labor dispute between his UAW union (United Auto Workers? Don’t worry, that’s gets explained in the book) and his employer Strand Bookstore. His is the POV of the, perhaps stereotypical, “over-educated, low-wage earning hipster” — the kind Republicans care about only slightly less than the under-educated low-wage earner, hipster or otherwise. 

New York City’s Strand Bookstore, once a haunt of such punk literati as Tom Verlaine and Patty Smith, has been in business for 86 years. It purportedly contains 18 miles of books and is a bonafide New York institution. The employees think this family-owned business can let a little more money trickle down to them. The owners feel otherwise and therein lies the friction among the fiction. Nothing new there. The book details the events that occurred during the buildup to, and the aftermath of, the summer of 2012. That's when things got sticky with protests and the intrusion of outside agitators, who may have had good intentions, but whose one-size-fits all tactics did little to help the Strand workers' cause. 

Farrell gives us a history of the Strand as well as the United Auto Workers Union that represents the company’s 150 employees. Different points of view are represented, some opposed to a work stoppage, some accepting of its necessity and some falling right in between. Greg shares his coworkers opinions by including their own testimonials. 

With such a gung-ho, anti-union presidential contender like Scott Walker looking to establish his union busting street cred on the national stage, the tension between workers and owners will be something we can expect to see a lot more of on our various electronic devices, but comics are as good a medium as any to get the newsChris Auman

You can read the finale to On the Books here:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book/Zine Review: Slip of the Tongue

Katie Haegele (Microcosm)

Katie Haegele is a freelance writer and a research assistant at a linguistics institute. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications (Utne Reader, Adbusters, Bitch, etc.) and her travel column “The Dubliner” even won an award from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. She is also the creator of the long-running zine, The La-La Theory, which analyzes various linguistical (I want that to be a word) subjects. For someone so involved in language, words and the writing process, it was a shock to learn that she finds the act of writing so difficult. In the introduction to her recent book of collected writings, Slip of the Tongue, Katie states, "I don't find writing easy to do, not even a little. I don't even enjoy doing it most of the time." Writing is hard work, no doubt, but Haegele makes it look so easy, or maybe I should say, her writing is so easy to read one would think the process to be effortless. Not the case, apparently.

This book is broken into two sections. The first is a collection of essays, the second contains journalistic pieces. In the first section, Katie gives her thoughts on various subjects related to language, which includes selections such as "Who Gives a Fuck About an Oxford Coma,"* "On the Word Slut" and "The Prick with the Stick." Don't worry, these essays are not as bawdy as all that, but they are interesting. Section two features writings on the history of graffiti in Philadelphia, the origin of the word 'ye' (as in 'Ye Olde' this or that) and the logic behind the La-la Theory which posits that human language was developed as an imitation of music.

In these short pieces, Katie reveals a lot about herself as she ponders these many things related to language. Words are loaded, they are powerful and they can have a huge effect on us. It's hard work turning thoughts into words and getting them down on paper. It's hard work, yes, but somebody's got to do it and thankfully one of those somebodies is Katie HaegeleChris Auman 

*I personally only give a fuck about the Oxford comma in the sense that I hate them-CA

Saturday, January 17, 2015

RW #22 Reviewed in Zine Nation

From Zine Nation:

Reglar Wiglar was first published from 1993 to 2005. The zine’s title is inspired by an Errol Morris documentary and this is the first issue in almost a decade. Back in its heyday this zine was known for its playful satire. As Chris mentions in a note that accompanied the zine, Reglar Wiglar was “a parody and satire, and my reaction to the ‘alternative’ music frenzy occupying much of mainstream music press at the time”. I really enjoyed the first twenty pages that detail myriad jobs Chris had in his teenage and college years. There’s the paper route, lifeguarding, working at a pharmacy, working at a restaurant and a bunch more. Auman’s humor is crisp and understated. The second half of the issue is filled with short satirical bits and comics, most notably, Donald Trump reviewing an old Metallica album.