Previously on FTCH, we went into Cream and KrispyKreme. The previous episode was pretty funyan and we talked about Love/Hate along with a Penny Dreadful. This week fall is on the horizon and promises of days finally not in the 90s. The slower days give me time to read and watch new shows. Fall has always been my favorite season. This week let’s talk about the Full Dark and the Starr, the monsters (cereals), and the mystery (science). And remember, FTCH is safe to read if you are a pregnant person or plan on becoming pregnant.
Pop Culture Ephemera
- Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars (Scribner) (2010): “Sometimes the only thing to do is to take the thing you must have. Even if someone gets hurt.” – Stephen King. This four-novella format had worked out for King in the past. The 1982 collection Different Seasons contains what I consider his very best collected group of stories and produced two of the best adaptations to film of all of his works in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Stand By Me (1986). The 1990 book Four Past Midnight wasn’t as strong but allowed King to tell stories that just need room to breathe more than the short story format. Full Dark, No Stars brings us a collection of four novellas that fit the “full dark” mode in that they don’t pull any punches on the descriptions of murder, sexual violence, and general horror situations.
- “1922”: The story of Wilf James; his wife, Arlette; and their son, Henry combines many elements of previous King works including Dolores Claiborne. Stephen pulls plot elements from similarly set Depression-era films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Grapes of Wrath. The dark themes are where the story works best and I would have liked more focus on the haunted parts of the story over the erstwhile plight of the children.
- “Big Driver”: The story of Tess didn’t strike a chord with me in any way at all. In fact, as a constant reader who finds enjoyment out of almost every piece of work King has written, this stands out as a novella with no redeeming value for me.
- “Fair Extension”: I love me a Derry story. Only slightly more than a Castle Rock story but this was a great after the previous one. The tale of Dave Streeter and his deal with Mr. George Elvid is right out of a good episode of The Twilight Zone or maybe more properly Amazing Stories. The only weak point of this for me is the sharp ending but there’s quite a bit of just plain fun here.
- “Good Marriage”: Darcy Anderson innocently heads out to the garage looking for batteries for the remote and discovers her husband’s deep dark secret. The premise starts off interesting enough and then continues to unpeel in a way that also brings to mind some of the great short stories adapted to shows like The Night Gallery. The plot is slightly based upon real events but not the internal debates or the final solution. The story does end about 25 pages before it actually ends. There are two and a half great stories here and all revolve around forms of revenge and retribution. If you haven’t read this before, it’s a good Autumn weather read.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 – “Gamera” (1965) (KTMA E.6) (1988): The KTMA era of MST3K is like hearing the demo tapes of your favorite band or seeing the first draft script of your favorite film. Joel Hodgson is having a great time doing these early shows for KTMA in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The crew with Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu, and Josh Weinstein are working out the formula that will later last a decade. There aren’t as many riffs per minute during the movies and the voices aren’t settled at this point. The robots are coming into their final design still. The phone calls are fun and lend that Public Access TV feel to the show. I love this Riff. Joel still calls the turtle “Gameron”. “Who’s got a head the size of a harvester silo? Gamera!” This is the Sandy Frank dub version and is worthy of a non-riff viewing if you get a chance too so you can make your own jokes.
- Ringo Starr – “It Don’t Come Easy” (1971): Ringo always believed in doing things “with a little help from his friends.” Ringo is the credited songwriter but there has never been any argument that this was pretty much a completed piece that George Harrison handed over to Ringo. The “Hare Krishna” is buried deep in the Ringo mix but it’s there clearly on George’s stripped down version. This hints at the future of Ringo’s All-Star bands with George Martin doing the production, backing vocals by two members of Badfinger, piano at different times by Stephen Stills and Gary Wright. There’s even rumors of some Clapton contribution on some of the takes of the song. I really started to appreciate this song a couple years ago when Peter Frampton did an acoustic version for Ringo’s birthday. The guitar line has such a peaceful calm to it. Released as a single only in 1971, it doesn’t get coverage in my 1971 Albums Project and I want to give it the love it deserves here.
- 1922 – (2017) (Netflix): Watching the movie adaptation right after finishing the written work is usually one of the worst decisions you can make. You are guaranteeing comparisons that very few films can live up to your expectations. The first thing that was a pleasant surprise was the Thomas Jane was much different than the character of Wilfred James that I had imagined but he was much better. “In the end, we all get caught.” – Wilfred. The movie skips explanations of some important plot points. I think the murder at the start is set up much better in the story and probably seems to come quickly out of left field here. At 131 pages, the novella probably has three hours worth of material that is just over half of that length. The relationship with the neighbors is very underplayed and I think that takes away some of the retribution part of the story. Where it succeeds is in keeping the haunting Poe elements that the story in print deviates from too often. The comparisons to The Shining are strictly born from the film adaptation and I never got the same sense of the character in the story. This ranks as a solid adaptation when all is said and done. It loses the weakest part of the story and embellishes the best, so while not better than the novella, it is definitely worth your time.
- Y:The Last Man – “Would the World Be Kind” (S.1 E.2) (FX) (2021): The second post-apocalyptic series based upon a comic book series that I read arrived this week. Earlier this year, a majority of the planet was wiped out by a flu that also created hybrids in Sweet Tooth (Netflix) by Jeff Lemire. FX has finally brought the Brian K. Vaughn post-apocalyptic series, Y: The Last Man to the screen after what feels like years and years of rumors about development. The series about the mysterious death of every person with an X chromosome except for Yorick Brown. Unlike some other shows where a worldwide event has happened previous to our main story, this show devotes an entire first episode to introducing our main characters and giving us a “before” with the whole rest of the series being our “after”. The Leftovers gave us a few minutes before “the event”, Sweet Tooth was also just a few minutes although some previous events have been covered in flashbacks, The Stand had killed off most of the population in the first half an hour and even Lost started on the beach before spending seasons in flashbacks.
- Episode 2: The show fast forwards past the first few days of apocalypse to a couple months into the disaster. It’s clear from the first episode and as this one starts that the series is not interested at all in staying faithful to the comic book. That will be a problem for some but telling a story conceived in 2002 will not play accurately now. The story moves along at an entertaining clip in these first couple episodes. The star is Diane Lane as President Jennifer Brown. She has the presence of a star in a Hitchcock film. I appreciate that they are willing to make changes to the source material to keep the plot current and not bogged down in some of the aspects of the comic.
Best of the Rest
- A story of a different stripe. When you think of animals roaming the wilds of the United States, I’m sure the majestic zebra is near the top of your vision. Twice this week, zebras came across my news feeds. Two zebras were found walking down the road in the Green Bay area. Those zebras were reunited with their owners. Things have not gone as smoothly in Maryland. Five zebras (with similar descriptions to the zebras in Wisconsin) are on the loose and have not been apprehended in over a week. It’s a bit hard to imagine where five zebras are going to hide. They aren’t exactly blending in with other horses or dogs. This has prompted the musical question “Who let the zebras out? Who? Who?”
- Are you feeling a bit parched? Would a cold, diet clam-chowder cola hit the spot? Cup Noodle has released four soup-flavored carbonated beverages. Those are a collection of words that I never expected to type into the same sentence. I love soup. I even like the Cup Noodle (despite seeming to miss the word “of” in their name and a plural). I’m curious about all the flavors and this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of odd soda flavors (looking at you, Jones Soda). I’d be curious to sip on curry-accented cola and chili-tomato soda.
- The headline reads “Astronaut blood can be used to make concrete on Mars, scientists say” The astronauts say, “Wait. What?” Then the scientists go on, “You’re going to add some pee in there to really hold the whole thing together.” The astronauts, “Ummm. Can we get back to the blood concrete?” The blood pee construction bricks are not going to be an encouragement for group construction projects.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 4/23/2006, I was raving about Brian K. Vaughn’s Ex Machina comic book. I said that I was initially disappointed that it wasn’t Astro City but that it was a book that was making me think. It has been so long since I read an issue that I dove back into the first few issues this week. It’s hard to describe the plot in any kind of way that translate to reading it. In short, it’s the story of a “real” superhero who helps save one of the Towers on 9/11 and becomes the mayor of NYC and his obsession with politics grows. It’s a great combination of superhero comics and political comics all in the same person. It’s not told in a linear fashion and we know it doesn’t end well from the start. It isn’t the everyman entertainment of Astro City books but I’m going to keep reading it again. Brian K. Vaughn is one of a dozen comic book writers that is on my trusted list. Not for everyone, this is worth the effort.
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Skittles: All Lime Skittles
The tale of the Lime Skittle is a long and winding story. In 1979, lime debuted as an original Skittle flavor along with orange, lemon, grape, and strawberry. In 2013, lime was relegated the Darkside Skittles and replaced in the original bags with green apple. In 2017, it returned to the original Skittle bags for a very short time and then was gone again. This fall the Lime Skittle has returned for a limited time in their own bag. I’m a top-tier fan of the Lime Skittle and I’ve stocked up to add to original bags for the next few months. Long live lime!
International Delight: Frosted Sugar Cookie
One of two entries of previously released products on this week’s blog. The September through December months are full of annual releases that bring me comfort. For the past few years, the International Delight Frosted Sugar Cookie release has meant cooler mornings and comfortable times around the table reading the morning newspaper. I only treat myself with it on the weekends. The arrival this year means that we should be feeling some cool weather and I can celebrate the taste of a sweet sugar cookie in my coffee.
Monster Cereals – Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry
I’ve been a pretty faithful Monster Cereal eater since their introduction in 1971. There have been years when not all of them have been available. Even Boo Berry went through some years of not being in the mix. Every decade or so, I can get some Yummy Mummy or the even more rare Fruit Brute. The designs went through some really questionable choices about a decade ago but recently they have returned to the classic look with the white box and the classic monster look. They might only be seasonal now and I kinda like the excitement of finding them just after Labor Day and have a big box of each. That first spoonful of Boo makes me feel young again.
“I don’t ask for much, I only want your trust,
And you know it don’t come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it don’t come easy.” – Ringo Starr