From the Couch Hole: Beautiful Faces and Loud, Empty Places

Previously on FTCH, we returned to Dune for chocomania with the Shogun. The blade runner said, “Wish you were here” upon arrival. As you read this, I’m staying with my “more like a sister than a cousin” Mallory. I have been lucky enough to be able to spend time with my children. I’m forever grateful to be able to do things that others don’t have the money or opportunity. This week Venom said, “Let there be carnage,” and Morbius replied, “Give them the best of my love.” Monsieur Spade oversaw the anatomy of a fall that was rooty tooty fresh and dirt cake. Remember, FTCH, betcha can’t eat just one.

Pop Culture Ephemera

  • Anatomy of a Fall (2023) (Directed by Justine Triet): “Sometimes a couple is kind of a chaos and everybody is lost. Sometimes we fight together and sometimes we fight alone, and sometimes we fight against each other, that happens.” – Sandra Voyter. The titular “fall” happens in the first few minutes of the film. The only people present are Sandra (Sandra Huller) and her half-blind son, Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner). The trial starts about 15 minutes into the film. You’d be hard pressed at that point to imagine how this will be a 150-minute film. The relationships between the husband and wife and child are peeled away layer by layer. The film doesn’t lag or feel stretched as the tension builds and builds. The murder mystery / courtroom drama is just window dressing to tell the story about marriage and relationships. When you take snippets of conversations, hearsay, and events out of context, can you prove that someone was or wasn’t your true love? Few times have I watched a courtroom where I was genuinely able to see both sides of the argument. The witnesses are a dog who can’t speak and a son who can’t see. I think that’s appropriately symbolic for those of us looking in from the outside.
Buy Anatomy of a Fall (The Criterion Collection) Blu-ray
  • Monsieur Spade – “Episode Six” (2024) (S.1 E.6) (AMC): “Nobody wants to be reminded of their mistakes.” – Sam Spade. The previous five episodes took advantage of the French setting to show off sunshine sparkling pools, vineyards, and homes. Episode Six takes us to the dark alleys with shadows and fear. This series didn’t suffer from bad camerawork. The plot meandered a bit and then raced to a finish at breakneck speed, but the show always looked beautiful. It’s a little off-character for the final scene that pulls together the clues and reveals the killers to be run by Special Forces Agent Virginia and to leave Spade (Clive Owens) as a bystander. We end where we started with naked Sam swimming in his pool, but it’s hard to say if this is the retirement that he has imagined. There is an opening, especially with Theresa (Cara Bossom), the most intriguing character of the series and also showing some talents as a budding Private Investigator.
Buy Eagles – On the Border CD
  • Eagles – “Best of My Love” (1974) (from On the Border): “I’m going back in time and it’s a sweet dream.” Don Henley wrote these lyrics in the Dan Tana restaurant about the break-up with his then-girlfriend Suzannah Martin. It’s not about the break-up necessarily as much as a love from an earlier time. It’s funny that it shows up at weddings and celebrations of love. The simple beauty of the acoustic guitar and harmonies helped define their sound for a string of hits to come. This was their first #1 song.
“You know we always had each other, baby.” – Eagles
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) (Directed by Andy Serkis): “Eddie, we should be out there snacking on bad guys! I am a predator! I need to be free.” – Venom. My understanding of the Sony Spider-Man Universe is that after Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) (Andrew Garfield era), Spider-Man officially becomes part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaving the supporting villains and heroes to exist in a Universe where Spider-Man exists but not the rest of the Marvel Universe. That’s how I sort it in my own mind. I thought that Venom (2018) kicked off that era decently. Not great but good for a film that didn’t try to exist in a much larger Universe. The sequel doesn’t waste much time setting up Carnage (Woody Harrelson) and Shriek (Naomie Harris) as the villains in an extended battle against Eddie Brock and Venom (both Tom Hardy). The themes are just rehashes of the first film. It’s not good and it’s not bad. It’s flavorless. You liked the loud explosions of the first film? There are more of them here. You like the symbiote in the first film? We’ve got one in red this time. You like the bickering between Eddie and Venom? Be ready for seven times as many scenes where they are at each other like a rom-com stereotype. I wanted this Universe to have some worth, but without Spidey anywhere in sight, this movie leaves me wanting much more substance.
  • Morbius (2022) (Directed by Daniel Espinosa): “If you quote The Notebook, I’m going to turn and hobble very slowly in the other direction.” – Dr. Michael Morbius. The next entry into the Sony Spider-Man Universe brings in the conflicted, living vampire, Morbius. This is the bridge from Venom to the 2024 releases of Madame Web, Kraven the Hunter, and another Venom film. Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) has a rare blood disease that he cures with the blood from vampire bats. Then through the miracle of science stuff, he becomes a living vampire. That seems to just mean that regular vampire rules don’t apply because there would just be too many rules. The same process turns his best buddy, Loxias Crown (Matt Smith, The Crown), conveniently into the bad guy. Don’t try too hard to question the science happening here. Jared Leto was so good in Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and he’s so run of the mill here. It’s just an uninteresting performance. The whole product is just by-the-numbers. There’s a reliance on CGI effects, and the fights all conveniently take place in the dark so you can’t really follow what is happening. This Universe is on an arrow pointed in the wrong direction. I had a tiny bit of hope that this was going to move the superhero genre into the horror arena also. This is far from the Living Vampire that we deserve.

Best of the Rest

  • In 1977, Tanya Tucker covered “The Best of My Love” and the country superstar took some of the country out of the Eagles’ hit. The harmonies are buried in the mix so that it features just her voice (albeit a very soothing voice). The instrumentation is much more influenced by contemporary music of the decade. It gives off a TV Theme song vibe to me, or at worst, an “over the credits” movie theme. It’s saved by Tanya’s voice, but it’s a good illustration of how hard it is to recreate the magic of an Eagles’ song.
“Sweet darlin’, you get the best of my love.”
  • If there’s a consistent in Hollywood, it’s that “Enough is never enough.” This article from The Ringer, “Expanding The Dune Universe” covers many of my concerns. The success of the Villeneuve films will open up many doors for the Franchise. The Universe is already well established in print, but the reviews of subsequent books drop off quite noticeably. There will be videogames, miniseries on MAX, and other stories until the next blockbuster film drops. The concern over Star Wars-sized over exposure is very real. I’m going to go ahead with reading the third book, but I’ve been warned that there’s a mess ahead of me.
  • I have baseball fever. It’s still a couple weeks away. Coming off a Rangers’ World Series victory, I’m excited for the start of the season more than I have been in years. I read so much about baseball in my youth that I’m nostalgic for baseball players that I never saw play. This song tickled me to no end because I knew these players from the stories on paper.
“Rusty again is a Met”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 9/14/2008, Hurricane Ike was supposed to bring us more than just the few hours of rain that week. My #27 Favorite Film of All-Time was Rear Window (1954). My third Hitchcock entry into the Top 30 films. This is a pretty good spot for the film. I said that “this film still holds up well today.” I would reiterate that in 2024 also. I thought that True Blood (HBO) had plenty of potential after the first episode, especially Anna Paquin. I was excited for the finale of Big Brother (CBS) and the start of a new season of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles (FOX). The list of the week is one that I think about at least a few times a year.
      • 10. “Lisa’s Rival” (S.6 E.2) (1994): “I bent my Wookie.”
      • 9. “Duffless” (S.4 E.16) (1993): Homer and Marge riding off into the sunset to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”
      • 8. “Homer’s Enemy” (S.8 E.23) (1997): Frank Grimes in the darkest episode of the bunch.
      • 7. “You Only Move Twice” (S.8 E.2) (1996): The Denver Broncos and Hank Scorpio.
      • 6. “El Viaje De Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)” (S8 E.9) (1997) : The Annual Chili Cook-Off and Johnny Cash as a talking coyote.
      • 5. “Marge Vs. The Monorail” (S.4 E.12) (1993): Phil Hartman!
      • 4. “Team Homer” (S.7 E.12) (1996): Bowling with Apu, Otto and Moe!
      • 3. “Life on the Fast Lane” (S.1 E.9) (1990): Jacques the bowling instructor. It was at this point that I knew the series would last forever in my heart.
      • 2. “Cape Feare” (S.5 E.2) (1993): Homer Thompson, Sideshow Bob, and Terror Lake.
      • 1. “22 Short Films About Springfield” (S.7 E.21) (1996): The whole episode is a memorable quote. The Pulp Fiction parodies are among the best.
      • 10. “Barthood” (S.27 E.9) (2015): A parody of Boyhood (2014), this allows a rather poignant story of Bart’s transition to adulthood.
      • 9. “Rosebud” (S.5 E.4) (1993): A parody of Citizen Kane (1941), it shows a very human side of Mr. Burns and his teddy bear, Bobo.
      • 8. “Homer the Great” (S.6 E.12) (1995): “Why won’t those stupid idiots let me in their crappy club for jerks?” – Homer on the Stonecutters. Plus the song “We Do.”
      • 7. “Mr Plow” (S.4 E.9) (1992): Not just for the Mr. Plow jingle, but this is another episode where it feels like the series became iconic.
      • 6. “Flaming Moes” (S.3 E.10) (1991): “Moe, I haven’t seen the place this crowded since the government cracked down on you for accepting food stamps.” I love these episodes that are rapid fire joke after joke stories.
      • 5. “The Springfield Files” (S.8 E.10) (1997): The writers having a ball poking fun at the popularity of The X-Files (FOX) along with a Leonard Nimoy appearance for the show-within-the-show.
      • 4. “22 Short Films About Springfield” (S.7 E.21) (1996): Still one of the most watchable episodes ever. The layers and connections make this still one I love to rewatch.
      • 3. “You Only Move Twice” (S.8 E.2) (1996): Albert Brooks is unforgettable as Hank Scorpio. This episode is fun to watch more than once for all of the secondary characters and storylines.
      • 2. “Marge Vs. The Monorail” (S.4 E.12) (1993): Written by Conan O’Brien. Another Leonard Nimoy appearance tops off the guests. This episode doesn’t have a wasted moment.
      • 1. “Homer at the Bat” (S.3 E.17) (1992): Awesome guest stars that make me nostalgic for that generation of baseball. The song at the end “Talkin’ Softball” is just the topper on this cream of the crop episode.
    • There was only one episode that I added that was made after 2008’s list, so that’s pretty telling. There is quite a bit of turnover on the list as I’ve watched these in repeats over and over. The new episodes aren’t as bad as the “old school” fans would lead you to believe, but the heart of the series was in the 1990s. There is a noticeable lack of “Treehouse of Horror” episodes here. That’s partially because they might just takeover the list, and they are unique enough to deserve their own ranking at some point.
“Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw.” – Terry Cashman

1974 in Review

You are doomed like rats in the Death-Trap of Taurus!
  • March – Avengers #121 (Marvel): Written by Steve Englehart. Art by John Buscema and Don Heck. The Avengers have a battle over the Zodiac Death Ray at the relatively new World Trade Center. I hope nothing happens to the buildings in the battle.
  • March 16 – The Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the Michigan Tech Huskies for the NCAA Hockey Championship. Minnesota is coached by Herb Brooks who would win a Miracle on Ice in 1980.
  • March 28 – Rolling Stone #157. Articles include a story on the end of Bob Dylan’s current tour. Lou Reed writes a article called “The Beauty of Decay.” Future writer of Basic Instinct (1992) and Showgirls (1995), Joe Eszterhas writes a story about POW, Rick Springman.
Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide to the Committee of 38

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Reign: Sour Gummy Worm

I’m not sure where the transition exactly happens in the grocery store between the Energy Drink and Body Fuel sections. There is a line there but I’m not confident. I rarely venture that far. I ventured down there recently to find something called Reign with some interesting flavors including Sour Gummy Worm. It’s zero sugar, so that’s a challenge. The flavor is generically fruity and sweet but lacking the sour pucker I expected. I don’t imagine there will be a repeat trip to this particular body fuel station.

Lay’s: IHOP – Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity

Lay’s didn’t help the situation by presenting the announcement of this flavor with an “or will we?” Let’s get it out of the way, this is a wonderful meal at IHOP. The bacon, sausage, pancakes, and strawberry and blueberry compote. It’s possibly one of the more complex chips I’ve ever tasted. Can I taste all the flavors? Yeah. Does it all work well on a potato? Sort of, is the short answer. I’m left at the end with strawberry as the last flavor that sticks with you. I’m happy that our technology allows for this to happen, but I won’t likely buy another bag.

Oreo: Dirt Cake

I was suspicious from the get-go of “gummy worm inspired” on the packaging. I was right to be dubious. By “inspired,” they mean the color and not the flavor. The “inspired” is just bland-colored sprinkles that don’t impart any fruit flavor at all. These are a rehash of last year’s Blackout Cake Oreos. That’s not a bad thing; those were one of my favorites of the year. I’m not sad about them, just had hoped for more from Oreo, who usually come through with the creative ideas.

“Every night I’m lying in bed
Holding you close in my dreams
Thinking about all the things that we said
And coming apart at the seams” – Eagles

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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