Friday, September 1, 2023

There's Nothing That A Hundered Men on Mars Could Ever Do

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for September is called, "Lost in the Mondegreen." A mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a song lyric in a way that gives it new meaning. Here are illustrations of the song lyrics I most frequently get wrong. 

"Excuse me, walleyed discus guy."
"Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix

"There's a Batman Underoos."
"Bad Moon Rising" by Credence Clearwater Revival

"He's good and fat and tall, rolling Kennedy."
"Rolling In the Deep" by Adele

"Cause I'm just a Steam-age turd-backed baby."
"Teenage Dirtbag" by Weatus

"So let's set the world on fire, weakened worm rider, dentist's son."
"We Are Young" by fun.

"I rented nudes today, oh boy!"
"A Day In the Life" by the Beatles

"Drunken troll to Major Tom."
"Major Tom" by David Bowie

"I've got sunshine, and a Clown D-Day"
"My Girl" by the Four Tops

"A little bad harmonica in my life,"
"Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega

"Tommy's used to Wakanda dogs."
"Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi

What are your favorite mondegreens? Comment below. 


(Just kidding! Please keep them to yourself. I have no interest in community engagement.)


With warmest regards,


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The Extraordinary F-Word

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for August is called, "Wish I'd Spent More Time In the Office."

This song is noteworthy because it contains the rarest of curse words: The F-word! 

The F-word is vanishingly elusive in the wild, especially when it comes to song lyrics, owing to just how explicit and irreverent of a word it is.

It's also very taboo. 

Some might quiver at the thought of a word this vulgar escaping their lips, but not me. Cuss words are like my secret spice rack. I just sprinkle them into conversation as if they were regular words. I have an indecent word or phrase for every occasion. 

The incidence of profane words in Hard Taco songs will demonstrate the magnitude of my swearaholic tendencies:

  • The D-word: 20 songs
  • The H-word: 16 songs
  • The C-word: 7 songs (The other C-word. I'm not that much of a potty mouth.)
  • The A-word: 6 songs
  • The S-word: 5 songs
  • Bitch: 4 songs
  • The F-word: 2 songs, one of which was bleeped out.

The obscenest words on this list have proven to be the most boundary-pushing AND envelope-pushing. I unleash a deluge of D-bombs with minimal provocation, but the F-word? I save that for when I really need to raise some serious eyebrows. 

Do I have your attention now? Are you shocked by these naughty bits? 

Deal with it, because I'm not toning it down for anyone, no matter how hard they blush. The world needs to know that Zach is not taking this nonsense lying down, and the only way to show them all is by cursing like a filthy ninja. 

You think ninjas don't talk? Clearly, your sensitive brain has repressed the widely acknowledged truth that ninjas swear constantly. It's part of their code. Ninjas are just a frenetic flurry of inventive expletives and shuriken, and hanging around me is the same experience. (Minus the shuriken, of course. Safety first!)

Sometimes, I say a cuss word when I first wake up, just to get going. 

If you need someone to throw some colorful linguistic grenades with zero remorse, you know who to call. Spoiler alert: It's me. 

With warmest regards,


Friday, June 30, 2023

Gently Down the Steam

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for July is called, "Two and a Half Stars," but I think it is being too modest. This is definitely a three star song. 

Good morning, Zach's Bucket List. My, you're looking a slimmer today. Have you lost weight?

Oh, I see what's going on. You're smaller because we finally FINALLY made the entire Hard Taco catalog available on all major streaming services! For years, this was just a far-flung dream, just out of smelling range. But Lauren and Malcolm teamed up to get this done as a combined Birthday/Hannukah/Birthday/Hannukah present from Lauren and Malcolm, insomuch as it took two years of birthdays and Hanukahs to get it together.  It includes 32 albums recorded from 1993-2022, with plans to add one year's worth of songs every year in December!

Here's what the library looks like right now in Spotify (with one album still mysteriously missing):

Having anyone expect you to listen to one new song a month is already too much, let alone 419. But if you've been holding off on checking out the music all of these years because you hated having to go to the proprietary website to hear it, your day has come. To make this less overwhelming, I put together a few playlists of songs that fall into some of the more accessible categories.  Let me know if you have new playlist suggestions!

Acoustic/Folk Favorites

Rock Favorites

Rap Favorites

Sound Like They Should Be Part of a Musical but Aren't

Weird Time Signatures


With warmest regards,


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Auguries, Omens, and Presages

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for June is “Let Me Get My Readers.” I never uttered this phrase once in my life until a few years ago, and now I find a reason to say it nearly daily. Often, I preface it with an impassioned pleas, such as “I beg of you…” or “I’ll tell you anything you want, just…”

In other news, I just discovered that I'm a prophet. 

Biblical prophecy is easy to master because it's all Mad Libs. 
"Lo, for the (plural noun) shall (verb) upon the (noun)." 
- (Amish-sounding first name) (2-digit number):(1-digit number)

But I found that my talent lies not in speaking on behalf of God, but in predicting the news in song lyrics. Here are some recent world events that were foreshadowed in Hard Taco songs. 


Event: The Capital Riots, January 6. 2021
Eerily prescient song: “Run Randomonium” October 1, 2019.

“It’s a wise uprise, it’s a blest unrest, it’s a true-blue coup, and the riot in The Capital’s joyous.”

This quote makes it sound like I was pre-emptively supporting the January 6 riots. Come on, Jake (if that's your name.) It's called prophetic satire. There is a long history of satirical prognostication, like when Nostradamus predicted that Napoleon would exist, he'd be super tall and wouldn’t be ashamed to show both of his hands when posing for portraits. 


Event: The destruction of Sanibel Island by Hurricane Ian, September 28, 2022.
Eerily prescient song: “Scrapbooking” March 1, 2021

“Mushroom clouds in pastels, seashells, wedding bells for your Armageddon-themed wedding on Sanibel.”

The destruction of Sanibel Island was so complete, it was described as “Total Armageddon” by local business owners. In the aftermath, couples have continued to tie the knot among the ruins


Event: The death of Gordon Lightfoot, May 1, 2023
Eerily prescient song: "Blankety Blank” May 1, 2009

“And the ghost of Gordon Lightfoot sang Oh Canada Our Home.”

Sure, you could say that this wasn’t particularly uncanny because everyone dies eventually, and the Canadian National Anthem is so catchy, we'll all be singing it in the afterlife. But the remarkable thing is that "Blankety Blank" was released exactly 14 years before his death. TO THE DAY. 


Event: Artificial intelligence taking over our jobs, every day since November 22, 2022 
Eerily prescient song: “Turing test” August 1, 2020

“My every move brings me closer to your human job.”

The remarkable thing here is not that song lyric, but the accompanying Hard Taco Digest. If you've made it this far, I encourage you to revisit that essay. It included a story called "The Dingo Ate the Baby," and a series of questions designed to distinguish a human from AI. I declared that if a robot could correctly answer all 13 questions, I would concede that it deserved to replace us in the workplace and wedding bed. This morning, I ran the test through ChatGPT... and I'll be sleeping on the couch from now on. 

With warmest regards,

Monday, May 1, 2023

A Bunch of Terrible Pharmaceutical Puns. Look Away.

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for May is called, "Please Don't Pet Me While I'm Working." If there was a primordial demon that fed on funk, it would positively feast on this song! Okay, fine, maybe not. But if started to get peckish at 4 pm, it would nibble on it enough to tide it over until dinner.  

Did you know that if you mix Dayquil and NyQuil in just the right proportions, you get cold medicine that you can be taken at 7 pm without disrupting your normal sleep-wake cycle? It's called Twiquil.

Not only is that unfunny, but it is a chilling harbinger of the diaphragmatic spasms you will soon experience. For the remainder of this digest consists only of riddles about over-the-counter medications, each calibrated to induce progressively harder groans.

First, try to solve them on your own. If you're still stumped, you can use the picture, which includes all of the correct answers. When you're ready to give up, scroll to the bottom. 


1. What do you call an airport that is no longer in Los Angeles?

2. What do you call a draft beer that only costs 10 cents?

3. What's the best thing to put on an April bagel?

4. What did the pseudoephedrine do when it was unfairly slandered by a government officer? 

5. Last night, I had lemons, sugar, and water. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to mix them, so when I became thirsty, I... 

6. You need to console a friend who is currently suffering through life as an electrical tool. Tell them, "It will get better. I know what you're going through because I, too, have..." 

7. Pickled ginger and wasabi just make sushi better. I guess you could call them...

8. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert for forty years, one of them (who was an emergency medicine physician) became suddenly hungry, and shouted, " "Nurse! I need..." 

9. When I was in tird grade I finally quit sucking my...

10.  No! You can't play with that Barbie. She's...

11. I realize that Arthur Curry is a man. I get that part, but I don't understand the purpose of the prefix. What is the... 

12. What do you call a town best known for simple arithmetic?

13. In my estimation, Daniel Craig gets the bronze and Pierce Brosnan the silver, but Sean Connery will always be the... 

14. Sorry for giving you COVID, Bullwinkle. I feel bad that I... 

15. Why did the acetaminophen stay at an aviary in Bangkok? Because it's a...

16. What did Humphrey Bogart hurry home?

17. A wanted to make an omelet, so I bought a dozen grade-A jumbos. But when I cracked them open, they all had little pieces of Terpsichore, Calliope, or Euterpe. I immediately called the grocery store and informed them that they inadvertently sold me... 

18.  I can't stop coughing and the only cure is 12 androids. Please let me have my... 

Answer options:

Answer key:

1. Ex-LAX

2. Dime Tap

3. May Lox

4. It sued a fed

5. Lacked Ade

6. Been a drill

7. Roll aids

8. Manna, stat!

9. Tums

10. My doll

11. Aqua for?

12. Addville

13. Gold Bond

14. Made a moose ill

15.  Thailand Owl

16. To see Bacall

17. Muse in eggs

18. Robot dozen

With warmest regards,


Saturday, April 1, 2023

How to Craft a Winning College Application

Dear Friends,

This month's Hard Taco song, "Write Your Own Book," is a love letter to a kid who is grown up enough to know that parenting is imperfect. We will never stop wanting to give Scarlett advise, and never stop having opinions about her choices, but half of those lessons and opinions are are complete garbage. This song is about hoping she has the wisdom to recognize the good half. 

This has been on my mind this week because we are in the final throes of college admissions season. After hundreds of hours of work and worry, she has a bouquet of acceptance letters in her inbox, and some tough choices to make in the next few weeks,

Along the way, she learned some effective strategies for presenting your best self in a college application. If you are a rising high school senior, I suggest you commit the rest of this digest to memory, preferably by chanting it word-for-word in a mystical drone over the school's PA system. This will obviate the need for you or your classmates to obtain a guidance counselor, a private college admissions consultant, or any other earthly companions.

Foremost, your common application must feature evidence of leadership experience. If you don't have a position in student government, consider taking a position in student shadow government. In most schools, the elected student body officials form a subservient front organization through which a cryptocratic cabal of dissidents exercises true power, shielded from scrutiny of the puppet administration. There are plenty of leadership opportunities within these covert student societies. The Student Freemasons organize school dances and assemblies. The Central Bank Club is responsible for Spirit Week. The Young Globalist Elites plan community outreach activities. And of course, the Senior Class New World Order manipulates bake sales to achieve world domination. 

The next thing to focus on is your GPA. When a teacher grades your test and puts a big red F at the top, you can just get your own red pen and turn it into an A before posting the test to your refrigerator. This continues to be the #1 method to fool parents, but the F will still be on your transcript. A better solution is to leave the F, but write "cool a" in from of it, then upload the test as supplementary material to the application. The admissions reviewer will then say, "Well, this student failed a lot of classes, but shouldn't we take a chance on someone who is cool af?"

Some schools still rely on standardized test scores, even though the SAT and ACT are poor indicators of a student's readiness for college. They unfairly benefit students from wealthier backgrounds, and fail to measure problem-solving skills, critical thinking, or creativity. Recent evidence suggests that SAT scores have a strong correlation with only one thing... how delicious and tender the student is when cooked on a rotisserie. You should be wary of schools that put a lot of emphasis on standardized test scores. They are probably just trying to boost their rankings or reinforce cannibalistic fraternity hazing rituals. 

Finally, you will need to solicit letters of recommendation from a trusted adult who knows you well enough to describe your skills, accomplishments, and personality. If you're hoping to pursue a humanities major, aim to get a letter of recommendation from Malala Yousefzai.  If you're going for a a degree in the social sciences, a personalized letter about your character strengths from Jane Goodall will go a long way. If you're not sure what your academic focus is going to be, you should cover your bases with letters of recommendation from both Frederick Douglass and Vincent Van Gogh. Just be sure to ask for the letters at least a month before you need it, and preferably before they have been dead for over 130 years. 

With warmest regards,

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

One Nice Thing about Each Michigan Corporation

Dear Friends,

A major ice storm hit southeast Michigan last week. Like most Ann Arborites, our home was bereft of electricity for several days. With my self-imposed song release schedule in jeopardy, I had an important decision to make: Do I postpone recording until DTE, our energy company, repairs the power lines? Or do I record the song on a hand-cranked electricity-free Edison wax cylinder phonograph? 

By the second day of the blackout, the decision had been made for me. Home Depot was completely out of hand-cranked Edison wax cylinder phonographs. Everyone else in town must have had the same idea.

The power came back on Friday night. Phew! DTE used to be called the Detroit Edison Company, so in a way, it was still Thomas Edison who saved the day for me, and provided for this month's Hard Taco song, "Explain It To Me Like I'm Fievel." 

DTE is just one of the many Michigan-based mega-corporations to whom I owe a great debt. As a way of thanking these companies for their contributions to our local and global economies, I have decided to write something nice about each of them.

DTE - Like I said, they used to be called Detroit Edison. So, what does the T stand for? I called the company to ask, and they didn't know, but they estimated they would have the answer for me by Monday. On Monday morning, I called again, and they said they had teams working on my question around the clock, and now estimated I would have an answer by Friday. The take home point is that T probably stands for Terrific, and they're just being humble. 

Ford - I've heard rumors that the eponymous founder of Ford Motors was an unabashed anti-Semite. That is demonstrably false, and these pictures should provide all the evidence you need. 

Kellogg's - The factory in Battle Creek is known worldwide as the #1 destination for elementary school field trips. Kids get to put on goggles, stand behind a one-way mirror, and watch mechanical arms violently smash high fructose corn syrup into the shape of brown flakes.

Whirlpool - This appliance company gained market share by naming themselves after a seafarer-killing natural disaster. So audacious! I would like to see some of these other languishing organizations follow suit: 

  • LifeCycle Fitness should become Life Cyclone Fitness
  • Outback Steakhouse should become Drought-back Steakhouse
  • Lunchables should become Avalunchables
  • The US Postal Service should become Mail-strom
  • NATO should become TorNATO

Little Caesar's - The pizza chain came under fire for failing to disclose that their meats were tainted with antibacterial agents, hormones, and bacterial hormones. (Testosterone squeezed out of amoebas gives their pepperoni that appetizing luster!) In response to this backlash, the company launched a publicity campaign to convey their commitment to transparency about the sources of their ingredients. 

General Motors - America's largest automaker boasts an extraordinary portfolio of defunct and discontinued cars: Pontiac, Saturn, Geo, Hummer, Saab, Oldsmobile, and many more. In fact, it's hard to think of a non-existent line of cars that was not made by GM!

Wiccan Loans - A great option for refinancing a triple moon pentagram altar, soy spell candles, and low-interest obsidian rune spheres.

Domino's Pizza - Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's, is an avid pro-life philanthropist. This ideology permeates the entire Domino's corporate culture. One time, I accidentally ordered a pizza before I was ready to eat one, so I called Domino's right away to cancel the order. The employee admitted that the pizza had not been prepared yet, but she still refused. "People who cancel pizza orders are haunted by it for the rest of their lives," she told me, "Just wait for Delivery. If you still don't have room for this little miracle when it arrives, you can give it to someone else who does."

Dow Chemical - The plastics giant is your one-stop shop for anything that starts with poly- and ends with -ene: Polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, polytetrafluoroethylene, polyps causing gangrene, and polyester dipped in kerosene.

What if the Power Goes Out Again?

It has been nearly 20 years since I failed to have a song ready by the first day of the month. It has been a good long run, but it's only a matter of time until some unanticipated conflict derails my pathologically obsessive and inconsequential schedule restrictions. It might be a power failure, a hardware failure, or a family or medical emergency. Whatever the cause, you will know when it happens, because I will release a song called, "Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs." I recorded that tune in 2006, and it was so bad, I decided it was better to bury it in the archives rather than give it the undue honor of monthly song status. But it's sitting there in the vault, waiting to be called up as soon as I cut both arms off in an angle grinder or have a mild case of writer's block.

With warmest regards,