Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Five questions. We just want to ask you five questions — or, rather, get five recommendations of things to read, listen to, watch, eat and buy from people who live, work or otherwise spend time in Cambridge. Here are some from Ken Reid, the comedian and storyteller behind “Ken Reid’ Shirt Tales” (“One man’s personal history via the medium of his t-shirt collection”) running Saturday at the Central Square YMCA.

Read: Reid exults in pop culture, so it makes sense his reading suggestions delve into comic books and television. He recommends Back Issue magazine, which is about “bronze age” comic books — those of the 1970s and 1980s, “stuff like The Micronauts, The Defenders — which is the better Avengers — stuff they’re not going to be making a movie out of anytime soon.” (Reid acknowledges that the magazine, while awesome, is “for a very specific market” and bears “the most generic name for a magazine, which makes it very difficult to search out on eBay.” But he discovered it on the racks at a comic book store, and current issues can still be found there.) He’s also reading the two-volume “Glass Teat” works by Harlan Ellison, “a long diatribe against television as only Harlan Ellison can write.”

Listen to: Lately Reid’s been listening to Shadoe Stevens’ “American Top 40” episodes from the early 1990s, the era he’s been focusing on collecting out of the DJ’s seven-year run. “You can listen to this week in 1992 and see what the top 40 was, you can listen to ‘Step by Step’ by New Kids on the Block and count how many times they say ‘girl’ in the song, and the answer is 17,” Reid says. “Because I did that yesterday.”

Watch: “Everyone should be watching ‘Fringe,’ which takes place in Cambridge and is the best show on television,” Reid says without hesitation. The Fox show launched in 2008 and follows an FBI team based at Harvard that investigates the unexplained — which may sound like another Fox show, “The X-Files,” but in Reid’s opinion surpasses it. He calls “Fringe” “the best show of the past 20 years, hands down the best sci-fi show we’ve had in decades.” The show just had its season four finale, but has been renewed for a fifth season.

Eat: Inman Square’s southern comfort food joint Tupelo, at 193 Cambridge St., gets Reid’s culinary recommendation, especially for its Cheap Date Night. The deal, offered every Thursday, is $25 for a small gumbo or salad, any entree and an order of crispy fried cheddar grits to be shared by two. “Their gumbo is particularly good,” Reid says.

Buy: Reid’s recommendation for purchase is timely and provocative: the Blu-ray edition of “Forbidden Zone,” which has a May 21 release date but can be pre-ordered, including with autographs by director Richard Elfman and brother musician Danny Elfman. The 1982 musical features the Mystic Nights of the Oingo Boingo (a quintessential 1980s band that went on to become Oingo Boingo, then Boingo, then the thing Danny Elfman used to do before scoring films for Tim Burton), Hervé Villechaize (Nick Nack from “The Man With the Golden Gun” and Tattoo from “Fantasy Island”) and Susan Tyrell, an Oscar nominee whose profile describes her “fearless attraction toward the dark side [portraying] various whores, harridans and grotesques.” Both stars were well-suited for this bewildering, appalling and all-around mesmerizing black-and-white ode (now also in a colorized version) to weirdness, performance art and the DIY aesthetic. It’s no wonder Reid explains that he saw it first as a 5-year-old watching the USA Network — “unsupervised.” But the film’s free-for-all poking at race, white trash and even the French is “in keeping with the cartoons of the time that’s it’s paying homage to. Plus you get these people who claim to be Danny Elfman fans who have not seen this, and that’s a shame. And you get Susan Tyrell singing songs of her own creation, and you can’t miss out on that,” Reid says. “Everyone can benefit from watching this.”

Send us your own five recommendations and your best big photo at [email protected].