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We had to take this on Thanksgiving because we weren't going to see each other on Christmas. Or kiss each other.

Another Kissmas in the bag,


Beth's love interest.

I know it may seem like I sit at home all day long, drinking beer and updating The Blarg, but the truth is I spend much of my day writing.

Lately, most of my writing has been on long-form projects. Because of this, I sometimes write a short (most times comedic, other times not so much) to break up the monotony of those longer projects. But while these shorts are fun to write as an exercise, nobody ever really gets to read them.

To remedy this, I’ve decided to share them here. I’m doing this for two reasons:

1. I like to share! That, and it’s better than having them sit on my computer.

2. It’s my hope that someone might be inspired to actually do something creative with them. Want to film one as a short? Awesome. Interested in animating one? Go for it. Feel like performing one live onstage? I dare you. All I ask is that you give me credit and send me a copy of the final product.

The thirty-sixth of Shady’s Shorts is called “The First/Last Kiss.”

Download it by clicking below.


Number thirty-five,


“The First/Last Kiss” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Created by Justin Shady, ©2017.

I recently came across some old photos I shot over the last twenty years or so.

But rather than let them sit on a hard drive forever I thought I’d save them to my desktop, dust them off, and share them with you one image at a time.

Hope you enjoy them.

"Mark Borchardt"

Mark Borchardt

I first “met” Mark Borchardt (over the phone) in 2000 when I interviewed him for Tastes Like Chicken (which, at the time, was named Chickenhead). The interview ran that July here.

A few months later—that December to be exact, while I visited my family for the holidays—Mark and I finally met in person at a screening of American Movie at the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse in Wauwatosa. We had both seen (or in Mark’s case, had lived) the movie before, so after he did a little speech at the start of the film we wandered across the street for a few drinks at Walters’ on North.

Fast-forward to 2004. I’m living on Milwaukee’s East Side (literally in the Tastes Like Chicken headquarters). In those four years since we last spoke, a group of friends and I had somehow managed to turn our monthly alt-weekly in Columbus, Ohio into an internationally-distributed, real-life magazine.

Yet we still weren’t making money. I don’t get it! How did Tastes Like Chicken ever fail?!? Hmmm….

But I digress….

After launching blindly with a “Best Of” issue for the magazine’s debut, we soon found ourselves in contract with multiple new distributors. While this was a great problem to have it was also extremely stressful. We now had to create another issue, and so we scrambled to line up interviews for what would become our second (and Summer 2004) issue.

We did pretty well, managing to nail down interviews with the band Teargas & Plateglass, Troma Films’ Lloyd Kaufman, and musicians Mike Doughty and Melissa Auf der Maur. Our cover interview—which was always considered to be each issue’s main feature—was an interview with Kiss’ Gene Simmons. To this day, this is the only issue of Tastes Like Chicken to ever sell out every copy.

To be read: If you own a copy of this issue, sign up for eBay now.

To round out the issue, I decided to contact Mark for a follow-up interview. Unlike our first interview, which was conducted over the phone, Mark invited me into his parents’ home for the follow-up. Having seen American Movie a million times before, I was already very familiar with this house.

We sat in his parents’ living room and talked for about an hour. Sadly, the interview that took place would become lost forever (the reason for this can be found at that previous link), but when the interview was over I shot a few images of Mark sitting in his dad’s recliner. The best frame of these photos is what you see above.

An interesting side-note: Mark had recently gotten sober, so the beer in his hand was an NA beer. Still, most likely in an attempt to keep some amount of beer-drinking cred, he asked me to shoot a few images with the bottle turned around so no one would know what he was drinking.

After the second interview came out, Mark and I saw each other a couple more times before I moved to Los Angeles in November 2008. He made an amazing cameo in our 2005 Tastes Like Chicken Video Christmas Card. (NOTE: He’s at the very end.) He (and Ken Keen) also showed up at a house party we threw after moving into our new house in Riverwest. Mark ended the party asleep in the middle of our staircase between the first and second floor, an uneaten cheeseburger still sitting on his paper plate.

He was also completely sober at the time. That’s 100% true.

I haven’t seen Mark since we moved, but lately I’ve been thinking about getting back in touch with him. Maybe the next time we’re in Milwaukee I’ll call him up and offer to take him out for a beer. NA, IPA, or otherwise.

Wishing I also had an old image of Mike Schank,


Yes, you read that correctly.

It started as a spur of the moment act of weirdness around (I’m guessing here) 15 years ago. Since then, it’s become an anticipated annual event known as… wait for it… Kissmas.

We’ve kissed every Christmas since then with the exception of only one year. In 2008, just after moving to Los Angeles, I didn’t go back home for Christmas. In my absence, my Uncle John kissed my Uncle Kevin.

Unfortunately, this Christmas, we also weren’t able to make it back, so Kevin and I improvised with a FaceTime smooch.

Uncle Kevin and Shady's Kissmas 2013!

The tradition lived on. That is, until my Uncle John sent me this photo of Kevin kissing my Uncle Bob after he already e-kissed me!


So, obviously, my Uncle Kevin is a cheating floozie who has no problem going around and kissing whatever family member he wants. I’m really gonna have to rethink this relationship before next Christmas.

Just kidding, I can’t wait to kiss him again!



…you’ll see this:

Gene Simmons reading a newspaper

People say I’ll eventually get used to this, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Los Angeles Rock City,


PS: The photo credit goes to Denise DuVernay on this one.

This is what a lady said to me yesterday as I walked by her on Main Street in Santa Monica.

I’m not sure what it meant, but I didn’t need an emergency blanket at the time and I DEFINITELY didn’t want to kiss her, so I just kept walking.

At least I know where to get an emergency blanket now should I ever need one.

Happy New Year!


Old Poop!