M E L V I N * R E C O M M E N D S



Ectoplasmic Reticulum pays tribute a period in life when it was socially acceptable to pick scabs, wipe your nose on your sleeve, and say "wipe me." Proud member of the long line of toys banned by parents everywhere, ER is a non-toxic mucusy mess capable of stripping the finish off mom's prized woodwork. In its heyday--the "come as you are" 70's--Ectoplasmic Reticulum was known simply as "Slime" and sometimes housed spiders or eyeballs. Now, in the "smaller's better" years of the 90's, lucky shoppers can find pocket-size goobers of slime in select vending machines. MELVIN recommends faking a sneeze, placing the slime on your palm, and squeezing it between your fingers. Enjoy the squeals of disgust and looks of pity from onlookers.



Melvin Operatives spent many an afternoon watching Land of the Lost and noshing braunschweiger sandwiches, celery stalks, cottage cheese, and sugar wafers as young children. It is a sign that all is right and good in the world that braunschweiger is still a viable part of this operative's lunch. While some prefer the "jab and carve" method of removing the stuff from the wrapper, we opt to slice clean through it with a serrated knife, creating neat braunschweiger disks. The best part, though, is the little bit that's left at the end of the tube. Braunshweiger to this day remains a comfort-food...always a reminder of the hazy days of youth.



Any whippersnapper who ever drank a big ol' glass of Kool-Aid knows about the Kool-Aid mustache. A rite of passage, a sign of maturity--your first Kool-Aid mustache gave you just the authority you needed to run around all day like a spunky little Hitler. But hey, kiddies, guess what? This is the nineties, and facial hair above the lip is just not too Kool anymore. Plus, dad takes his belt to your powdery rump every time you spill Rockin' Raspberry on the carpet. But don't worry, because now there's a tasty drink that you could pour right in dad's bed without staining it. Yessir, it's one of those new magically colorless products most of which have no purpose whatsoever aside from cornering the lucrative easily-impressed-idiot market. But surprise--Wyler's avoids aiming at that same market. This clear soft drink has no intent but to provide mustache-free drinking and shame-proof spills.



It's high time you got blitzed but alas, you have but a few thick nickels jangling in your pocket. Why not forego that bitter sixer of Old Mil for the sweet redolence of the Boone's Farm family of wines? Boone's Farm is Kool-Aid for grown-ups and comes in a myriad fruity varieties, provocatively named things like Strawberry Hill and Sangria. Even more appealing than Boone's taste is its poor-man's price tag. For about two measly bucks, a bottle of Boone's will set you straight, guaranteeing a blissful buzz in no time. Plunk down the cash for a pair of bottles and you'll feel no pain. The only drawback is the payback--the distinct possibility of a vicious hangover. But when you're pinching pennies and raring to get blasted, such foresight is unbecoming.



Everyone needs a sidekick, a reticent but endearing someone who can deliver dependably whenever the fit hits the shan. That's why Melvin recommends you pick Millennium Falcon co-captain "Chewie" to be the Tonto to your Lone Ranger. He's the friend everyone wants, Snuffaluffagus with a lion's roar and a lumberjack's gusto--not to mention a keen appetite for hair-raising adventure. Who else but this lumbering carpet could penetrate the rugged demeanor of the streetwise Han Solo? He'll amuse you by intimidating the foppish likes of C3PO; he'll rouse you in stand-offs with slicksters like Lando Calrissian; he'll drink you under the table; and he might just treat you to a televised Christmas with his wookie kin. Sure, he may be bug-infested and surly, but consider the camaraderie you'd feel strutting into seedy bars with the Mr. T of wookie. We can only hope that space is indeed bespeckled with the dazzling likes of this prize gem of the Falcon cockpit.



Think of Books on Tape as aural Cliff Notes--they might be hopelessly bourgeois, but they imbue the works with panache, bringing even the pseudo-literary comic-book gore of Stephen King to life. Decrepit English professors beware: Books on Tape make published texts look as outdated as the Pony Express. With Books on Tape you can vent commuter frustrations listening to Tom Clancy protagonists blast ex-commie spies or mindlessly pull weeds to Henry James's The Golden Bowl. Books on Tape even free both hands for "listening" to Anne Rice's flaccid eroticism. You no longer need to stumble over abstruse foreign words as a professional actor carefully enunciates all the troublesome polysyllabics for you. But don't throw away your hardcovers and paperbacks quite yet. If you like to impress fellow coffee house aficionados by leafing through thick tomes while sipping cappuccinos, Books on Tape make a poor substitute--for all anyone knows, you're listening to Pearl Jam.