Previously on FTCH, we talked twins, made a bargain, and wondered how Wendy’s fit a spicy chicken into a Pringle. This week brought more of the same. August in Texas and at my work is very much wash, rinse, repeat. The stretch run of the month is at hand but I’ll do my best not to let it affect the quality of content that you’ve become accustomed in the past six weeks. As always, FTCH is brought to you by Ford and your network of Ford dealers.
Pop Culture Ephemera
- Diabolique (1955) (Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot): This French noir film is very likely the best Hitchcock film that he didn’t direct. With all apologies to DePalma’s Body Double. The plot of the movie isn’t the plot of the movie. The last shot implores the viewer not to give away the ending and I wouldn’t dream of that, just in case it has eluded you in the past 67 years. The plot would seem to be that a wife and her husband’s lover plot to kill the husband. Well, that’s good if it’s a 30-minute film. But the movie really starts after that and becomes a “this didn’t go as planned” film in a way that Hitchcock excels at his best. I’ve been watching Columbo episodes recently and little did I know that the trenchcoated detective character started with Inspector Fichet (Charles Vanel). The only thing Peter Falk added was “One more thing . . .” The cast is superb, especially the mistress, Nicole (Simone Signoret), who is straight out of the Hitchcock blonde casting of the same era. The roller coaster ride of the last hour of the film is best viewed in a single setting and once again “Mum’s the word” on the ending.
- Doctor Who – “Johnny Ringo” (S.3 E.36) (1966): This is the third part of a four-part Hartnell retelling of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Steven and Dodo (she wasn’t a companion long enough) and the Doc land in Tombstone, Arizona. There’s the Clanton Gang, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Johnny Ringo (Laurence Payne). This story threatens to undo all the good that Sergio Leone did for Westerns in the decade. It’s a painful Western shot on a BBC set with actors who all have British accents. The typical humor of the episode is the Clanton Gang mistaking the Doctor as Doc Holliday because he answers to the name “Doc”. Johnny Ringo is the best part of this story, especially his introduction in this episode, as a uncommonly evil villain. Often held up as the worst serial of the whole series, there are some painful moments but cringeworthy singing and acting aside, there’s enough to keep you interested as compared to some of the stories from this era.
- Shuggie Otis – “Strawberry Letter 23” (from Freedom Fight) (1971): Most people only associate this song with the cover by Brothers Johnson that was produced by Quincy Jones. That’s me – I’m “most people”. Only recently did I discover this original version written by Shuggie, a young guitar talent, for his second album. This version isn’t as produced as the Brothers Johnson. The stripped-down guitar sound really works to focus on the more psychedelic aspect of the lyrics. As far as I can tell, it’s a dude enjoying the strawberry-scented stationary love letter that his girl wrote him.
- Jellystone – “Yogi’s Tummy Troubles / Gorilla In Our Midst” (S.1 E.1) (2021): HBO Max debuts a cartoon series from C.H. Greenblatt (Chowder) that features a more modern irreverent take on Hanna-Barbera characters from what I call the Yogi Bear era. The stories revolve around Yogi, Boo Boo, Cindy, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, etc. There doesn’t seem to be a singular star to the show other than a city where the HB characters work and live. For us old fans, it takes a quick minute to adjust that the voices aren’t done exactly as the old characters and the same for the character designs. The comedy is a nice balance of slapstick comedy and adult conceits. I won’t fool myself that you’ll go find some classic Magilla Gorilla cartoons after watching this but it’s nice to see the characters in something that probably wouldn’t make Hanna or Barbera spin in their graves like the more recent CGI features.
- The Great Muppet Caper (1981) (Directed by Jim Henson): The second live-action feature film from the Muppets still has some classic laughs. Kermit and Fozzie play twin brothers who are reporters. It’s a great bit that people can’t tell them apart unless Fozzie is wearing a hat. They travel to London to track down the theft of jewels from Lady Holiday (the great Diana Rigg). They meet her brother, Nicky (Charles Grodin at his nefarious best), who is trying to frame Miss Piggy while he plans a bigger heist of the Baseball Diamond from the Mallory Gallery. There’s a fair share of breaking character that really tickles me each time. A long scene in which Peter Falk explains a long story of how Kermit got to a park bench and Kermit says, “You got everything wrong”. Then proceeds to tell him that they have a movie to get back to. The other bit that gets me every time is the ongoing joke — Kermit: “We’re going to catch those crooks red-handed.” Beauregard: “What color are their hands now?” The film suffers from trying too hard to be a late ’40s or early ’50s, Doris Day meets Bob Hope Road film. The musical numbers are a bit overdone for a 90-minute film.
Best of the Rest
- Me talking to my future grandchildren, “Grampy, tell me again why we didn’t send a woman to the Moon in 2024.” And I take a deep breath “Welp. We didn’t have the outfit ready to go.” There’s probably not a better summary of current days than the Inspector General’s report that the mission will be delayed a year or more while the 27 (that’s twenty-seven!!) entities who are building different parts of the suit work together. We’ve been told that “Space is hard” but it’s hard to imagine President Kennedy promising that we’ll get to the moon before the end of the decade “as long as we can get two pairs of pants and a vest with the suit for a low, low price.”
- Our race to self destruction via virus, climate change, nuclear war, or hot dog might have some competition from the Universe. Asteroid Bennu has an appointment at and/or near the Earth on September 24, 2182. They are saying there is only a .04% chance of impact but we’ve dealt with low percentages coming through for us in the past. The scientists are saying that if we start working on the space suits for our asteroid defense system, we should have them finished in 2195.
- The Sam Adams brewers had some disappointing sales with the rollout of their Truly brand of hard seltzers. Next year, the Boston Beer Company (owners of Sam Adams) are rolling out Hard Mountain Dew in 2022. My first impression isn’t that Watermelon should have clearly been about sixth on the flavor release order. No, my first impression is that releasing a 5% alcohol Mountain Dew really misjudges the typical Mountain Dew user. These are people who mainline their soda product for the caffeine rush. Is this a release for children? Because anything less than a 10% alcohol content would seem to be a waste for the faithful. I have no doubt I will try these. I mean, look at the cool cans. These won’t even hit the shelves before tattoo artists get requests for that snake or eagle.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- From time to time, I want to look back at what I wrote and reassess my thoughts and opinions from the previous iteration of this blog. This week, I’m looking back at Sunday Morning Tuneage from 4/2/2006. Back then I had this to say about a Sunday night show “Free Ride (Fox): The show’s kinda lame but I find myself chuckling through every episode. The love story is a beating but the crazy friend is priceless.” If you blinked in March 2006, you missed this series because that episode that aired on 4/2/2006 was the last of six episodes. The story of Nate (Josh Dean) returning home after college is full of awkward situations as he meets up with people he knew from high school. I nailed it that the love story is definitely a beating. The best bits are the improv staples and his friend, Dove. There’s no reason for you to seek this out unless you love 2006 flip phones and fashion.
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Cheetos – Mac ‘N Cheese: Cheesy Jalapeno
I believe this has been out a year now and judging from the new low, low clearance pricing everywhere, it’s probably approaching the end of its life cycle. If so, that’s too bad.
Boxed mac ‘n cheese has been a staple in my diet since before I ever learned the word “diet”. This Frito Lay’s team-up with Quaker Oats doesn’t vary from form. Boil noodles, milk, butter, mix. Eat the whole deal in four minutes before it gets cold.
The flavor isn’t too spicy beyond the first bite. The milk and butter help tamp down any lingering heat. The corkscrew pasta is a nice touch (the shape of the cheetah tail, I think) but still is a hard target for a fork. This is a nice addition to the boxed dinner market as a change of pace.
Lay’s Doritos Cool Ranch
The remix era of the potato chip is upon us. No long content to just add or recycle flavors that revolve around barbeque or sour cream and cheese, we are in the times of having to brand name the flavors. Not coincidentally, it works best to brand them within a corporate umbrella. Keep an eye out for McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese Mennen Speed Stick soon.
Cool Ranch has always been a concept more than a flavor. I understand the ranch but never really embraced the cool. If there’s supposed to be a cool aspect to the flavor, it’s been lost on me. Now having Lay’s potato chips flavored with Cool Ranch dust, I realize that it’s the corn chip that really makes the flavors happen. It’s unmistakably Cool Ranch flavor. The flavors don’t appeal to me the same way on a chip of potato that they do on a chip of corn. They might have benefited from being on a more crunchy Wavy Lays. In the end my mouth feels more like I just had a Sour Cream and Onion chip than anything else.
Apple Cinnamon Chex
Apple and cinnamon are not new flavors to the cereal aisle. Apple Jacks have held down the apple and cinnamon crown for decades. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, they did not go with the cinnamon basketball or apple baseball. They decided to just go with a sugary coating on the Chex (is one Chex a Chex or a Chax possibly?) The only issue here is that they went with a Rice Chex base instead of the clearly superior Corn Chex. The milk and Chex interaction just doesn’t let this hold enough flavor. Too much Apple Cinnamon ends up in the milk.
“If you arrive and don’t see me
I’m going to be with my baby
I am free, flying in her arms
Over the sea” – Shuggie Otis