Mouth Dreams, as reviewed by the panic attacks it gave me

Neil Cicierega, also known by his band name Lemon Demon, is an internet sensation. In my opinion, he’s the internet sensation, because he and his friends basically shaped the internet as we know it today.

It’s hard to avoid his influence online, whether your feelings are positive or negative. That’s why when he released Mouth Dreams in 2020, it changed the trajectory of my life – for the worse or the better, I cannot say.

Mouth Dreams is the newest in his series of inexplicably Shrek-themed mashup albums, alongside Mouth Sounds, Mouth Silence, and Mouth Moods. You may remember Mouth Dreams as a funny novelty, or if you have a sense of chronological linearity not marred by trauma, you might even remember it as one of the few enjoyable things to come out of 2020. Unfortunately, I remember it solely as one of the largest and longest panic attacks I have ever had.

Today, I am here to take you on a tour of exactly what happened to me on the evening of September 30, 2020.

Things I didn’t know my local library had

I am ashamed to say that, up until last year, I had never been inside of a library. For most of my childhood, this was because my family didn’t seem to trust libraries for whatever reason, choosing to take me to the obviously much more expensive Borders for brand-new books. Into adulthood, I grew more comfortable going to other used-goods locations such as thrift stores, but just couldn’t quite jump the hurdle into just going to the damn library.

It didn’t help that they were frequently depicted as negative and hostile spaces in the TV I grew up watching. What was up with that? Between librarians being stereotyped as scary and controlling, to exaggerated tales of overdue fees, I grew up with the impression that the library was a terrible place that you only went to if you literally couldn’t afford anything else. Like the food bank. (The food bank is also fine, I learned.)

I started writing this article thinking of it as a collection of things that you could find at your local library, but that felt so broad as to be meaningless – or patronizing. I’ve chosen to narrow it down to things I have found at my library, as someone who only knew the library as a place where you could get a dirty old book that you’d forget about and accidentally end up paying $50 for.

Internet Archive: Music from Doom Vol. 1

As you may have heard, the Internet Archive has lost its first fight to defend their right to digitally lend books. This means, potentially, the loss of their millions of e-books.

It’s for these reasons that you should donate, if you can. But the people who benefit the most from a digital library are the people who don’t exactly have money lying around – so, in the Archive’s own words, actively using the archive is just as important.

That’s why I’m bringing back our Internet Archive series! Back in 2020 I had taken up the hobby of posting about things you could find on the Wayback Machine. I really do think it was one of the few things keeping me together back then, since it wasn’t like there was anything else to fuckin’ do. Tumultuous times like these feel like a good enough reason to bring it back, and why not branch into other parts of the Archive too?

Today, I’m looking at “Music From Doom Vol. 1”, ripped and uploaded courteously by “de usual archiver”.

KFC’s Double Down and the Skull of Doom

Against all odds, things have managed to get even worse for America in 2023. Prices for everything are going up while wages get cut. Our nation continues to divide against itself. In my most recent trip to the food bank (something I didn’t even need to go to until I moved out), I had to sit in line next to a working-class guy talking very animatedly about how the government was slowly killing us (true), while also taking forks in the conversation to say that he had heard Wal-Mart was putting reproductive sterilizing chemicals in their face masks (WHAT).

That is why I regret to inform you that, in this time of great catastrophe, KFC has had the audacity to re-release the Double Down.

Haven’t we had enough? Isn’t life hard enough? Isn’t America in enough strife, without having to remind us of our deepest shames? No. Now we have to deal with the Double Down, all over again.

Don’t confuse Rowntree’s Fruit Gums for anything good in the world

Food is one of the fundamental parts of any functioning society. That’s why I love to write about it so much. It forms the connection between us as people, it brings us closer together. It’s a shared experience that also happens to sustain us physically.

Where would we be without this? What a living nightmare it would be. Could you imagine eating food that does not replenish and nourish you, but actively attempts to harm you?

This is the story of Rowntree’s Fruit Gums, one of the worst ‘foods’ I have ever eaten.

How to waste your money and sticker paper

If you know me, it is not a secret that I absolutely love stickers, and labels and patches and all kinds of stick-on things. It was one of the first hobbies I got into as an independent adult and it has kept me sane in times of extreme duress, including and especially right now! So it only made sense to me that, as a sticker-lover and an artist who enjoys using printers, I would want to design my own.

Turns out it’s goddamn hard though. It takes a lot of time, and initial investment. I certainly am up to my shoulders in free time recently, but that is the same reason I don’t have money to spare.

So here’s my journey of trying to make my own stickers, all from the (relative) comfort of my own home. Did I succeed in my quest? No, I did not.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ Valentines donuts: a banal donut

It’s Valentine’s Day, and you know what that means! That’s right, it’s time for all the chain coffee shops to release their seasonal weird pink sludge!

This time of year, Dunkin’ Donuts has released the “Cupid’s Choice Donut” (Bavarian ‘Kreme’ filling, strawberry frosting, and sprinkles) and the “Brownie Batter Donut” (brownie batter filling, chocolate frosting, and sprinkles), both heart-shaped for the season.

Yeah, not very creative. Dunkin’ Donuts (it will never be ‘Dunkin’ to us) is not exactly the place where you get fine cuisine. It’s joked that Taco Bell’s menu is the same five ingredients shuffled around, but at Dunkin’ Donuts things are even worse. Only a fool would order anything except a donut here, and the only real variety is if you want a yeast donut or a cake donut. Frostings, flavors, fillings – it all blends to be one beige blur of ring-shaped pastry.

That doesn’t stop them from trying every holiday season, though. Back in 2020 they had their Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut, which seriously tested us. Last year, they had a Cookie Butter Cold Brew, which we weren’t around to review, but it was Just Fine. They also had a cookie butter-topped (filled? something like that) donut, which we did not get to try, because we currently live in an area where any seasonal fast food product is at least a dollar more than advertised and most of the time doesn’t even exist.

But hey, we managed to get the heart donuts this year. Let’s make the most of it, alright?

How to make Toy for Cat

Or, how can we set and achieve realistic goals?

In 2011 I decided to get into sewing, with the express and singular goal of sewing my girlfriend a life-sized plushie of Slowpoke, her favorite Pokemon. Nothing gave me this idea except my weird, strange little brain, that when she said Slowpoke was her favorite Pokemon I thought “I’ll make you one!”

I started practicing sewing, literally just the basic stitches, on scraps of old underwear I wasn’t wearing anymore. Then I eventually got that pink and cream fleece, and I started teaching myself how to draft my own patterns, with the help of many many online tutorials by the likes of much more accomplished people (Abby Glassenberg, I owe you my life).

My girlfriend didn’t just put up with my piles of unfinished projects, she encouraged me through all of it. I knew she was ‘The One’ because she believed in me no matter how often my hobbies shifted. I felt supported. We moved in together. We got married. We adopted a cat.

And, as it turns out, sewing is just a great basic life skill for me. Even as I stopped making plushies as frequently (after finding out most people are not willing to pay for the amount of labor that goes into a project), I could mend my clothes in a snap so I wasted less money on new shirts, I was much more dexterous with my fingers, I built up better pain tolerance, and – most thrillingly – I discovered that 3D art is just… my favorite thing ever. As I got better at sewing, I got more into 3D modeling, because 3D models helped me visualize sewing patterns. All of my disconnected hobbies constructed me, a fully-realized person.

I did not ever make that Slowpoke. I still don’t know if I could; the ears were always the thing that stumped me the most. Now I don’t even know if I should; she is no longer into Pokemon.

But that Slowpoke taught me a lot. And, as sort of a sappy thanks to my wife and all of the people who supported me (even unknowingly, like Abby Glassenberg), I am going to walk you through the internal process of me designing my latest sewing project: a toy for my cat. It’s about as much of a tutorial as my disordered brain will let me make!

Can I offer you an egg substitute in these trying times?

As you surely may have heard, a dozen eggs is currently worth $5 (five big ones) in many places in America. This may be the very thing tearing the fabric of our nation apart, as eggs form the basis of most breakfast foods, the most important meal of the day. It’s also testing our patience, since we have Egg in our goddamn name, for God’s sake.

But, since we have Egg in our goddamn name, you can trust us when we say that we’re Egg experts (eggsperts? huh that’s unfortunate – ed). We’ve assembled a top five list of quick, easy and fun substitutes for eggs in your day-to-day cooking, whether you’re baking, frying, or eating five dozen of them raw.

The Laundromat and the Single Red Die

There are a few known universal pains of being an adult: going to work, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry.

I am nearly 30 and yet, to this day, I have still managed to somehow avoid ever stepping foot inside a laundromat. I have always had access to a washing machine, whether it was in the basement or in a nearby room in the complex. Well, I guess people might consider that last thing a laundromat (especially because you have to pay for it) but at least I don’t need a car to get to it.

But recently, our apartment complex’s laundry room has been shut down, on account of the Big Plumbing Project that has been ruining my sleep recently. So, no washing machine. I have to go to… THE LAUNDROMAT.