From the Couch Hole: Good Things in Life Take a Long Time

Previously on FTCH, the Lord of Light arrived in his midnite cruiser with maple syrup grahams. On Dune, the color of purple thunder, we said, “Welcome home, Franklin.” A crazy weather week has become just what is now normal. Two days over 90 and then back to almost freezing for a couple of days. Our extended family grew this week with the birth of baby Chloe for my niece, Madison. I’m biding my time until baseball starts and until I head up north to visit my children. This week the masters of the air have been searchin’ such a long time for war and peace. Inside Llewlyn Davis the drive-away dolls found Coca-Cola spiced with hot honey. Remember, no one out pizzas the FTCH.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
Buy War and Peace (Vintage Classics)
  • Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867) (Vintage Classics): “Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.” I was going to leave a simple concise review that said “It was better than Moby Dick (1851).” I started this push to read some of the “classics” that I’ve missed back in November 2022. The 1200+ pages took me since July 2023 to get through. Often ranked as one of the most important novels of all-time. It’s about the Napoleonic Wars from 1804-1813 in Russia as we follow a dozen or more characters through marriage, birth, death, and everything in between. Characters will just disappear and then show up again hundreds of pages later. Others will fade away with little to no closure. The book has the reputation as the Everest of books that you should conquer at some point in your life. I’m not sure you couldn’t feel that way finishing another long book like King’s The Stand (1978). It’s not difficult in terms of language. I would have been served to keep a notebook of character names and relationships. In the end, it’s difficult because just when the action captures your attention, Tolstoy feels the need to talk philosophically about war for 30 pages at a shot. There’s no sense of pacing. I’m glad I read it and finished it, but once again, I don’t know that I would tell you, constant reader, that it’s a necessary use of your time.
  • Masters of the Air – “Episode One” (2024) (S.1 E.1) (AppleTV+): “The unicorn is my favorite extinct animal.” – Major Bucky Egan. In the early spring of 1943, Major Buck Cleven (Austin Butler) and Major Bucky Egan (Callum Turner) arrive in England as part of the 100th Bombardment Group of B-17s to help out the English RAF. The show is visually and spiritually a companion to Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010). The pedigree is excellent. Created by John Shiban (writer and producer of The X-Files) and executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The pacing on this first episode felt off, but that’s to be expected as the characters are introduced and the historical location is set. The action is without current comparison. The flight and bombing sequences are top notch and show a huge leap forward from even ten years ago. The more difficult problem for the show is getting the viewer to care about the lead actors and supporting cast. Austin Butler and Callum Turner are handsome and deliver their lines well. They just aren’t emotionally engrossing performances. I love historical dramas, and I’m going to continue to finish this trilogy. I just hope that the acting is more than just decoration for the visual effects.
Buy Chicago VII (Expanded & Remastered) CD
  • Chicago – “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long” (1974) (from Chicago VII): “There’s a strange new light in my eyes / Things I’ve never known.” What pop song would ask the question, “Who am I?” Songs from 1974 would be your best place to start looking. This song features Peter Cetera on vocals. It’s my first memory of hearing his soothing voice on a single. The song fits into a odd mix of prog rock sound with a structure not unlike longer ballads like “Stairway to Heaven.” The strings set an introspective and dark mood as the singer looks for meaning in life. As he finds his answers, the strings rise in energy. It’s a really lovely song that needs to be rediscovered.
“Feeling very free / Life is everything.” – Chicago
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) (Directed by Coen Brothers): “If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.” – Llewyn. This was a week to catch up with the one of the two Coen Brothers film I have missed. The film is deceptively simple. It’s a week in the life of folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac, Dune Part One) in 1961 New York City. Llewyn is a sincere man who is having a bad week. He’s our protagonist but he doesn’t seem to be well liked by the supporting cast, including memorable performances by John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and Carey Mulligan. There isn’t much of an actual plot, other than an incredible journey of an orange cat. The film is a collection of events that happen to Llewyn, which under the direction of many others would be a true sign of failure. The Coen Brothers are able to link it all emotionally by the end. It’s a film that feels like it could be a missing Billy Wilder movie in parts. I don’t imagine I’ll forget this one very soon even if it’s not as story driven as their previous films.
  • Drive-Away Dolls (2024) (Directed by Ethan Coen): “Love is a sleigh ride to Hell.” – trunk of the Dodge Aires. The Coen Brothers spirit is alive and well, even though we only have the director half of the brothers. The lesbian road-trip film is anchored by Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan). Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Booksmart), Pedro Pascal, and Bill Camp provide supporting roles in Coen Brothers “types” that we expect from their films. The plot could be from an alternate universe season of Fargo told in 90 minutes instead of ten hours. It’s a caper film without having much of a caper and it’s a road movie without most of the road movie tropes. It breezes along at a good pace, the 1999 setting allows for some knowing nods to the world that will be in 2024 and the lesbian presence is so pervasive as to become an afterthought at times. The reveal of the caper isn’t groundbreaking or even important to the film. Ethan Coen has fashioned a film that feels like a tribute to the best Coen Brothers films at each step, but I’m finding it hard to call that a negative. It’s a sweet love story at the heart of it all and never shies away from letting women tell their stories.

Best of the Rest

  • When Murders In The Building (FX) returns for a fourth season, Eva Longoria will be part of the cast. The new season will address the murder of Sazz (Jane Lynch), Charles-Haden Savage’s (Steve Martin) identical double from his Brazzos television show. Longoria and previously announced Molly Shannon will join the return of Meryl Streep and Mabel’s (Selena Gomez) boyfriend from last season, Tobert (Jesse Williams). I’m looking forward to this as much as the return of Poker Face (Peacock) and Beef (FX).
  • We aren’t a quarter of the way into the year and the first nomination for Ad of the Year is here. I call it oatmeal, but I guess much of the rest of the world refers to it as porridge once it is prepared as a meal. Directed by Charlotte Wells (Aftersun), commercials have no business looking this good.
You got this.
  • I wouldn’t be doing my Couch Hole duties if I missed mentioning the announcement of Sam Mendes (1917, American Beauty) directing a four movie Beatles biopic. There can be lots of debate until they start to drop in theaters in 2027. It will be told with a single film per Beatle. You could easily have divided it chronologically by era also. No casting so far but relatively unknowns would make the most sense for Mendes telling the story of such iconic stars. My personal preference for release order would be Lennon, Harrison, Starr, McCartney. I don’t like Lennon being last because of Paul’s legacy of peace and love that continues on to this day.

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 8/31/2008, I had just finished the first week of classes at UNT. It was a three-day weekend for Labor Day. The RichRod Era at Michigan started with a loss (so many more to come that I couldn’t fathom at that point). I was finally watching Season Two of Curb Your Enthusiasm. My #85 Favorite Film Of All-Time was The Apartment (1960). This is such a wonderful Billy Wilder film. It’s probably ranked well at this spot, but it’s one of those that you can get people with who say, “I just don’t like classic movies.” Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are inspiring. Prison Break (Fox) was coming back for a new season and the final season of The Shield (FX) was starting. There was a list that I made that I’ve improved my sourcing on since then.
      • 10. Children Of The Corn (1978)
      • 9. Quitters Inc. (1978)
      • 8. Rainy Season (1993)
      • 7. The Boogeyman (1978)
      • 6. Apt Pupil (1982)
      • 5. Survivor Type (1985)
      • 4. The Body (1982)
      • 3. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (1982)
      • 2. The Raft (1985)
      • 1. The Mist (1980)
      • 10. The Jaunt (1985): This rare science fiction story is a combination Twilight Zone episode meets Robert Heinlein concept.
      • 9. The Sun Dog (1990): This Castle Rock-set story tells a powerful symbolic story of the power of photographs. The story outside of the photographs reveal another childhood that King nails spot on.
      • 8. Jerusalem’s Lot (1978): The epistolary story tells the origin story of Salem’s Lot (1975). When adapted as Chapelwaite (MGM+), the story leaned too hard on the vampire angle and lost the excellent haunted house story.
      • 7. The Library Policeman (1990): There’s so many times during this novella that I thought I was reading an excerpt from IT (1986). There’s a really good vibe to the horror elements of the story and how they are balanced by idyllic childhood memories.
      • 6. Survivor Type (1985): At the time, I couldn’t imagine it being adapted to a film. Now I’m more convinced that this “torture horror” won’t see an official adaptation. It’s one of those where you have to laugh to not be completely horrified.
      • 5. The Last Rung on the Ladder (1978): This story of childhood guilt carried more weight when I read it as an older adult.
      • 4. The Raft (1985): A powerfully creepy story made for a very disappointing adaptation in Creepshow 2 (1987).
      • 3. The Body (1982): King writes best when he writes about childhood. This feels more like a dry run for some of the novels to follow.
      • 2. The Mist (1980): The H.P. Lovecraft touches of this essentially science fiction tale make it almost impossible to film as written. I read this at age 13 and I can still recount the whole experience.
      • 1. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (1982): The story is as much about a friendship as it is about a prison escape. Remember that hope is a good thing, Red, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
    • After all of that, I still didn’t pick a story or novella written after 1990. That’s not on purpose. He’s still writing some excellent short stories and he’s practically the only author who regularly publishes novellas (arguably one of my favorite formats of storytelling). Most of the one’s written in the last decade would probably fill the spots from #11 to #20. From 2019 to 2022, I read just about every single one of them again or for the first time. You can’t go wrong with any of the collections, each has two or three stellar entries.
The poster of the king four past midnight

1974 in Review

Vampire in the White House!
  • March – Prez #4 (DC Comics): Written by Joe Simon. Art by Jerry Grandenetti. Dracula and the Wolfman are working together on some plan to release rabid bats over Washington D.C.
  • March 1 – Seven former aides to Richard Nixon were indicted by a grand jury. Nixon was later confirmed to be one of the unnamed co-conspirators. John Mitchell, John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, and Charles Colson would serve jail time.
  • March 2 – Jimmy Stewart tried television again on Hawkins (CBS), a country lawyer investigating crimes with his brother, Strother Martin. This show ran in a 90-minute format, rotating with Shaft movies and another CBS Tuesday Night Movie in a popular format that was used for Columbo also.
Things we never knew about Astronauts

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Coca-Cola: Spiced

This raspberry soda confused my mouth. My brain is partially to blame because I swear I read that this was going to be a cinnamon-flavored Coke. What we got is a soda that has raspberry flavor to cover a vaguely medicine aftertaste It’s not unpleasant, but it just leaves me yearning for the regular non-medicinal Raspberry Coke from years back. This isn’t even salvageable as a mixer. Pour yourself a Raspberry Coke at your local cinema’s Freestyle Machine and you’ll taste what this should have been.

Lay’s Sweet & Spicy Honey Potato Chips

This is a collaboration with the folk of Love Is Blind, but I’m not familiar enough to know if there is a connection to honey. This year PepsiCo is determined to get rid of what must be tanker trucks full of hot honey flavoring. There isn’t much noticeable heat, but the sweet works well with the salty chip. I’m just not a big fan of the consistency of the regular Lay. Utz has a hot honey that is better from a heat standpoint. Wal-Mart has a kettle hot honey that has better crunch.

Pizza Hut: Hot Honey Pepperoni Pizza

Hot Honey is one of the preeminent flavors of 2024. The flavor is solid. This pizza is a mess. There is no shortage of the two types of pepperoni on each slice. The honey flavor overwhelms each bit. The heat of the “hot” in the honey is lost, and the honey makes the dough too mushy. This would be good on their wings, but it just ruins a perfectly good pepperoni pizza.

“As my life goes on I believe
Somehow something’s changed
Something deep inside
Ooh a part of me” – Chicago

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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