Previously on FTCH, we spoke about sassy spirits, snakes in the spice aisle, and spicy sweet Dew. This week continued a busy time at work but the promise of a three-day weekend kept my head up. The plan is to spend some quality time in the couch hole this weekend, reading, shows, and the start of the college football season. And remember, FTCH is written in front of a live studio audience.
Pop Culture Ephemera
- Stephen King – Under the Dome (2009) (Scribner): “Never give a good politician time to pray.” – Big Jim. As a constant reader, I dove into this 1,039-page tome with some trepidation because of my disappointment with a majority of the TV series. As usual, my fears were proven wrong quite quickly. While the TV show and the book have characters with the same name, the similarities end at that point. Chester’s Mill is not Castle Rock or Derry but there’s a comfortable feeling of it being another Maine town that we can all identify with in just a few pages. Once the invisible dome is in place, the story becomes an under-the-microscope story of smalltown politics and the tenuous nature of our reality. It’s a fun ride that throws in some environmental lessons as well as the civics of a Maine town. It was well worth the journey and makes me sad that a more faithful television adaption didn’t happen. You’d have to nominate Big Jim as one of the best “bad guys” that King has written at least in the past twenty years. Does his power grab in times of trouble presage any particular President that we might have seen seven years later?
- American Horror Story: Double Feature “Pale” (S.10 E.2) (2021) Season Ten rolls out a year later than planned thanks to COVID protocols. Ryan Murphy is developing an amazing array of “American . . . ” shows that allow him to tell stories of varying fidelity to true events. The first couple episodes point to a serial killer, vampire story that is very loosely rooted in “real events” from the 1960’s. The hints of influence on the “Red Tide” story are initially The Shining, 28 Days, Cape Fear, and Fargo. The season already promises some moral reflections on opioid addiction, the price of fame, and smalltown politics among others. The biggest surprise out of the gate is the debut of Macaulay Culkin as meth head Mickey. This is one of the more inspired, out of the box, castings since Lady Gaga in “Hotel”. This season is off to one of the most promising starts for me since “Coven”.
- John Lennon – “Watching the Wheels” (from Double Fantasy) (1980): What should have served as a launching point to the next stage of John’s career would quickly serve as his epitaph. The idea of the autobiographical song has been around since as long as people have been singing songs from their hearts. John Lennon took it to a new level throughout his career. You can dial it back to him yelling “Help!” in the early days of the Beatles. John stepped away from his public persona in 1975 with the birth of his son, Sean. His exit from the “merry-go-round” was seen as the end to his musical career. The Double Fantasy album announced a new direction and the promise of new music for the next decade or more. Then John Lennon was murdered. The piano here is what I love about most of Lennon’s best songs. It’s comforting and feels like we are sitting in his living room and he’s singing us a new song he just wrote.
- Only Murders in the Building – “Who Is Tim Kono?” (S.1 E.2) (2021): I was sold on this series when I saw Steve Martin and Martin Short attached to the project. I was more curious when I saw the third star would be Selena Gomez. This limited series is at its heart a parody of the murder mystery podcast phenomenon. In just two episodes, I’m happy to say that this is going to likely be one of the best new shows of the year. Selena Gomez as Mabel has turned out to be a brilliant bridge between younger and older generations represented here. What Steve Martin and Martin Short understand is that the best parodies are built around a strong story that allows the humor to happen outside of the main plot. There’s a good mystery happening so far and that allows the characters to parody podcasts, apartment living, and a good dose of fun at the generational differences. Making this an over-the-top, crazy characters mystery wouldn’t have worked. This is one of those rare shows that has a good balance of humor and a fun mystery. “I mean, a murderer probably lives in the building, but I guess old white guys are only afraid of colon cancer and societal change.” – Mabel
- The Beguiled (1971) (Directed by Don Siegel): The third film collaboration between Seigel and Clint Eastwood is one that fascinates me. This film comes a year after the genre stretching Two Mules for Sister Sara. The premise of this film is John McBurney (Eastwood) as a wounded Union soldier rescued by a female Seminary school in Mississippi. The Beguiled falls under the auspices of both a Western and a War film because of the setting. The film plays out with multiple levels of psychological drama. McBurney tries to protect his own safety by adopting a Quaker persona. The girls of the Seminary each have a public and private persona as they fall in love in their own way with Mr. McB. The film is tightly scripted and doesn’t have many lulls. It’s often easily dismissed as a Civil War set misogynistic fantasy with all the women being attracted to the man who can’t escape. Viewing it through modern sensibilities, it’s easier to see a world where the women can embrace their sexuality despite the repression of the times. I’m not saying that it isn’t an odd film, because it really isn’t comparable to much else out there. But as a Southern Gothic psychological drama, this is one I can watch multiple times.
Best of the Rest
- One day we may all ask “Who is the Chris Bickell ’97 of your favorite team?” The naming rights to a job is something relatively unique in my experience. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility to have Coach Taco Bell Chalupa Fries Saban at Alabama. Having a coaching position named after a player is something just difficult for the brain. Then throwing in the year makes it even more of mouthful. So welcome to the team Chris Bickell ’97 Head Football Coach Pat Narduzzi.
- If you asked me to make a list of a million words that might be linked together in a news story in my lifetime, I still wouldn’t have come up with “hand-standing skunks“. These spotted skunks look to be about the size of a squirrel and they are as cute as a skunk can be. I’m excited to read that they may be in Texas! More to come.
- These stories of snakes “in every day settings” seem to come along weekly, if not daily, but as someone that wants nothing to do with them, I have noticed that Brisbane, Australia is often the offender. Removing a ceiling tile and having two male carpet pythons fall to the ground in combat is a combination of words that send shivers up my spine. I don’t put much stock into the “they aren’t venomous” portion of the story. Each of these Australian stories seems to end with the disturbing “the snakes were relocated to a nearby habitat.” In my mind, that means “the snakes were dropped in the backyard where they immediately re-entered the house after stopping to get spices for their pizza at the local grocery store.”
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 4/16/2006, I was very excited to check out Masterpiece Theater: Carrie’s War that night. Not only didn’t I watch it but I never bothered to record it. Sunday nights were so chock full of FOX, HBO, and Showtime shows that I probably didn’t have room for it. So I decided to see what I missed fifteen years ago. The film that aired that weekend in 2006 was released in Britain in 2004 and I wish I had watched it with my young children at the time. I know the book pops up now and then for young readers and if this adaptation is fair, then I can see the appeal. The story of Carrie and her brother, Nick, evacuated during WWII to a Welsh town has all the elements of a good YA story. You have smart but innocent children, cultural lessons surrounding the people of the town and a Jewish student, and even seemingly cruel parents they are sent to live with in town. The film exists in that invisible world of British films that make an appearance in our country and then are gone. It’s nice to know that my instinct based upon a review in 2006 was accurate.
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Oreo – Apple Cider Donut
The fall seasonal release from Oreo is out while it’s still 99 degrees here in Texas. The cookie is a basic Golden Oreo with a filling that tastes like apple cider donut. In theory. I don’t mind apple flavoring but this isn’t really apple like the fruit. It’s closer to a candy sweet apple flavor and the donut flavor is mostly cinnamon from what I tasted. Ultimately, it’s not a disagreeable combination of flavors and generally conveys an apple cider donut aftertaste. But I don’t imagine this being a flavor I would look forward to purchasing a second time.
Cheetos Crunchy Nashville Hot
The Nashville Hot flavor is not new to Frito-Lay products. Last year, we had a very tasty Nashville Hot potato chip so I was curious how that would translate to the Cheetos world. There isn’t a “hot” smell to these chips and the flavor is nowhere near any of the flamin’ hot options. It’s not an unpleasant blend of spicy fried chicken that is a tad bit too salty with a very understated burn afterwards. If you are looking for a spicy fried chicken taste, these are worth the trouble to track down.
Don’t be fooled by the cover picture. These seem to only be available in the fun sizes and you get about 15 Skittles per bag. Of those 15 only three to four of them are sour. Their level of sour is slightly more than the sour Skittles. Probably on level with Sour Patch Kids for flavor comparison. Spine-Tingling Tangerine is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a fun addition to the Skittles family but maybe not the Halloween fun that last year’s Zombie Skittles were.
“Ah, people asking questions
Lost in confusion
Well, I tell them there’s no problem
Only solutions” – John Lennon