Pop Culture Ephemera
- Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) (Directed by John Cassavetes): “But the only people… who are, you know, happy… are the people who are comfortable.” – Cosmo. I’ve come to appreciate that Cassavetes might be the most unique director of our generation. Cosmo (Ben Gazzara) is a strip club owner, vet, and gambler. After paying off a large debt, he gets himself in trouble again, this time with the Mob in a poker game. This noir story is pretty much summarized in the title. The film is really about the long scenes where the characters breathe, talk, and live their lives. Cassavetes mentored Scorsese in his younger days and this has elements of gangster films that Martin will do in his career. Gazzara is an incredible actor. He has an exterior calm despite all the trouble he has caused himself but we feel the anxiety below the surface without him even hinting at it with his language. The closest I can compare to this film is the feeling you get watching Adam Sandler’s world fall apart in Uncut Gems (2019). There’s very little to describe what you would call a plot, and yet, when it was over, I felt like I had experienced a complex film.
- Archer – “30 For 30” (S.14 E.2) (FX) (2023): “‘I have a plan but I can’t share it’ is exactly what people say when they don’t have a plan and hope it all works out.” – Archer. Interpol agent, Zara Khan and Archer look to be the final season’s frenemies. The first two episodes continue the last few season’s dumbing down of Archer as a character. Zara has replaced Lana’s role as Archer’s fighting competitor. It’s a bit of recycled material in that area. The show feels back at home in the spy game, the supporting cast is entertaining, and I’m not about to bail for the final season.
- Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Everything I Cannot See” (2006) (from 5:55): “You’re the miles left to go / You are everything I always wanted.” The piano alone is worth the price of admission. Add Charlotte’s passionate, breathless voice and it becomes one of the most underrated songs of the ’00’s. It’s too easy to put her in the Tori Amos bucket and leave it at that. There’s something different going on here. I feel like I’ve been given a peek inside a relationship with a song only meant to be shared between the two lovers. Listen with eyes closed (after you finish reading your Couch Hole).
- White Lightning (1973) (Directed by Joseph Sargent): “You two are more fun than going to an all-night dentist.” – Gator. A Southern movie, made in the the South, for the people of the South. Curiously, it was close to being Spielberg’s first theatrical film before he passed it off to do a very similar car-chase-based film in The Sugarland Express (1974). This fantastic film gets written off as drive-in trash when there’s quite a bit of noir goodness at hand. Burt Reynolds establishes his macho persona as Gator McKlusky, recently released from prison and looking for revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of the local sheriff. Hal Needham directs much of the 2nd Unit scenes and he’s certainly making notes for his Smokey and the Bandit (1977). The score is wonderful and it’s doing quite a bit of work in the background to amp up the drama and speed up the action. Don’t write this off. These characters talk and sweat in a way that’s very relatable. The Little Rock, Arkansas setting only adds to the authenticity.
- Gator (1976) (Directed by Burt Reynolds): “That ain’t no ordinary boat he’s got there; it’s got some kind of damn rocket on it. Oh! Shit!” – Officer Talmadge. Three years after a tremendous debut of the Gator McKlusky character in White Lightning, Burt Reynolds ruins what should have been a solid 7-8 movie franchise with Gator fighting corruption and the law across Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Instead, it’s not White Lightning delivering justice and it’s not yet the playful movie long car chase of Smokey and the Bandit (1977). The elements are here. There are long chases in increasingly crazy vehicles to banjo music. There’s Jerry Reed, and there’s even Jack Weston playing what will become the Dom DeLuise role in Burt Reynolds’ films for the next decade. Lauren Hutton as the Sally Field character is a dud, and the plot just doesn’t hold any interest. This might be Archer’s favorite film, but luckily, he’s mixing it up with White Lightning. Burt will get more opportunities to direct and more cars to wreck in the ensuing years.
Best of the Rest
- Opening December 8th, we don’t deserve such beauty. The new Hayao Miyazaki film trailer gives me all the feels as a moviegoer who loves animation.
- On October 6th, we return to Ludlow, Maine in 1969 and Jud Crandall (David Duchovny) and the evil generational curse of the Pet Sematary. The film, Pet Sematary (2023), debuts on Paramount+ and Duchovny’s performance has been getting good reviews. King has admitted that the film takes some liberties with his original book but he isn’t completely trashing it. I’ve always thought that the book leant itself to more historical explorations and maybe this is a good place to start.
- The Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds team-up has brought pleasure to many of our lives. This Gator (1976) theme song / story song is the funkiest of the bunch. Jerry has always had a way with telling a story within the country genre, but this borders on the funk genre with that incredible guitar work. Nothing more funky than hanging out in the swamp.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 4/6/2008, it was solidly baseball season in Texas with both boys playing Saturdays and Christian on Sundays. Speaking of baseball, I predicted that the Angels would beat the Cubs in the 2008 World Series. Incredibly wrong, it was later the Phillies who would beat the Rays in October. For April Sweeps, there was the return of my shows like The Office and Scrubs. There were two Doctor Who Universe shows on my radar, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. My #43 Favorite Film of All-Time was King Kong (1933). This accurate rating was initially based strictly on the nostalgia of having to scan the TV Guide as a child to find the once or twice a year that it would air on local television. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate the story as much as the special effects. I followed up the Top Ten Sodas list with an even more impossible list.
- TOP TEN CEREALS OF ALL-TIME (April 2008)
- 10. Cap’n Crunch. On and off this has been a Top Three cereal and then I go years without having a box.
- 9. Cinnamon Life. A favorite of my children.
- 8. Cocoa Puffs
- 7. Fruit Brute. I was living off of a distant memory of this cereal back in 2008.
- 6. Wheat Chex
- 5. Cheerios
- 4. Frosted Flakes. This is influenced by my son’s love of these at the time.
- 3. Boo Berry
- 2. Cocoa Puffs. It was a shame to discontinue Sonny commercials.
- 1. Count Chocula. This list has the the look of Best Cereal Commercials too. The Count and Frankenberry had fun chemistry.
- TOP TEN CEREALS OF ALL-TIME (September 2023)
- 10. Rice Krispies. I don’t eat the cereal often but it does make one of the best sweet snacks when mixed with marshmallows.
- 9. Frosted Flakes. This has dropped a bit mostly because other cereals have upped their game while this has dialed back advertising and innovation.
- 8. Quisp Cereal. It was during my Cereal Project in 2016 that this made a brief comeback and all the nostalgia of my childhood. The flavor was just what I remembered.
- 7. Cap’n Crunch. This brand just chugs along with a new flavor once a year to keep you interested and to remember that the original is still a great choice.
- 6. Froot Loops. This might be Kellogg’s most active cereal for movie tie-ins and new flavor combinations these days. I like the crunch on this and recognize that I disrespected it back in 2008.
- 5. Cocoa Puffs. Another cereal with a good crunch that leaves a terrific chocolate milk in the bowl.
- 4. Honey Bunches Of Oats w/Crispy Almonds. I put a bit of sugar on it and it’s got both flavor and crunch to enjoy.
- 3. Cheerios. Maybe it’s the old man in me but it’s hard to imagine a better cereal for both snack and breakfast options that isn’t full of sugar.
- 2. Boo Berry. I can’t believe this was gone from my grocery shelves for much of the 1990s.
- 1. Count Chocula. When this was available year round, I still only typically purchased it at Halloween time. It’s still the best chocolate flavor and the best crunch and the best chocolate milk afterwards.
- You might be wondering where Cinnamon Toast Crunch is on either list. I know it’s a favorite and maybe a #1 for many people but the cinnamon on the crunch just never tasted right to me. It pains me that there aren’t Chex cereals on here but they don’t have the same taste to me these days. My least favorite list starts with Grape Nuts and Special K.
- TOP TEN CEREALS OF ALL-TIME (April 2008)
1973 in Review
- September – The Brave And The Bold #108. Cover and pencils by Jim Aparo. Written by Bob Haney. Batman’s life is saved by Hitler who is alive and hiding and being hunted by Sgt. Rock.
- September 12 – The British government approves construction of a Channel Tunnel. France and England start construction to be completed by 1980. It will be stopped by the English Labour Party in 1975 and not started again until 1988.
- September – Creem. Dave Marsh contributes a piece on the influence that Sly Stone has had on musicians over the past five years.
What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?
Papa John’s Garlic Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza
Pizza Hut has been stuffing crust since the 1990’s. Papa John’s has only recently entered the crust-stuffing game. They aren’t on my frequent pizza rotation. They aren’t terrible and I think based upon this and a side supreme pizza, they pack more ingredients on top of the pizza than any other chain. The crust isn’t “epic” by any definition, but it isn’t bad. The cheese is more in the Parmesan flavor than garlic. If it’s got garlic in the name, I want to smell it in the house for days. A good pizza but not epic.
Mtn Dew: Voo Dew 2023
The tradition of a Mystery Flavor for Halloween continues from Mountain Dew. This is the fifth incarnation of the “mystery flavor” which typically turns out to be a variation on a popular candy. This year’s is sweet and fruity and maybe the best so far. If I had to make a likely incorrect guess, I’d say that I’m getting a good dose of Cherry Airheads. Or maybe I could be convinced it’s Nerds. Either way, it’s a decent flavor that I will enjoy and then never miss again. Looking out for a Zero Sugar version.
Monster Cereal: Boo Berry
The third Monster cereal of the season is the one I look forward to the most. I’ve established that Count Chocula has the best flavor of the bunch but I can have other chocolate cereals during the year. I don’t get blueberry-flavored cereal anywhere else. I’ve continued the same observation here that the marshmallow content is significantly less than previous years. The monster art on the cover is way too toothy.
“But you will always be
My special friend
I will carry you with me
And we can love again” – Charlotte Gainsbourg