Pop Culture Ephemera
- Stephen King – Holly (2023) (Scribner): “Holly knows this is how addicts think and behave: they rearrange the furniture of their lives to make room for their bad habits.” Let’s address the most common criticism since this book dropped a couple months ago. I keep hearing “I couldn’t enjoy this because it’s too political.” I was sensitive to this as I read it. Holly Gibney is a character that exists in our society. Over five previous appearances, she has mentioned pop culture and current events. Her mentions of COVID, vaccines, and Trump aren’t out of character. It is probably that the people who espouse contrary points of view are victims is probably what needles other readers. I don’t imagine this would stand well for those not familiar with the character from previous books. The plot is as brutal as any of his books in a decade. The reward is the continuing adventures of characters like Holly, Barbara, and Jerome. The Universe isn’t greatly expanded, but the return to the familiar setting and characters is refreshing. Holly is my favorite character he’s written since Doctor Sleep (2013) and I hope there are more adventures still to come with this crew.
- John Denver & The Muppets – “A Christmas Together” (SPECIAL) (ABC) (1979): “Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat.” – Miss Piggy. It was not even six months since the groundbreaking release of The Muppet Movie (1979) and this special came out on ABC. John Denver and the Muppets would be linked forever with multiple specials and an incredible chemistry. The show opens with their oft-played version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” (Miss Piggy’s “ba da bum bum”). Like most Muppet offerings, the show is about the making of the John Denver special. Mostly, there are holiday songs structured around the casting of the show and Miss Piggy wanting a larger role. It ends with a heartfelt telling of the birth of Jesus by Denver that feels much more religious than would ever air on television today. The Muppets would go on to produce better holiday specials but this is a great start.
- John Denver – “Poems, Prayers and Promises” (1971) (from Poems, Prayers and Promises): “I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time / All the things I’ve done and how it’s been.” That little flute intro in this live version gets me right into the mood for this song. There’s something about the tone of his guitar and his vocals that bring a sense of peace to me. A young man at the time, this song has resonated as a song of strength for people going through tough times. This sweet outlook on life to find comfort in love, dreams, and tomorrow is sometimes exactly what the world needs. Rest your weary head and let John lift you up.
- The Warriors (1979) (Directed by Walter Hill): “The future is ours… if you can count.” – Cyrus. I love how this film is so full of contradictions. It looks like a pulp drive-in film but the production is top notch. It portrays a city full of gangs of which you know logically aren’t gangs. The decaying city serves as a set piece for a moral story on masculinity. The fights are so choreographed that you do expect the Jets and Sharks to break out into dance at any minute. Walter Hill is five years from Streets of Fire (1984) where this type of setting becomes more noir and more musical. Walter Hill has an incredible vision, and while this borders on style over substance at most turns, the thrilling challenge of getting back to Coney Island (the best home ever for a gang) makes for a compelling watch.
- The Long Riders (1980) (Directed by Walter Hill): “First getting shot, then getting married – bad habits.” – Cole Younger. When it was released, I thought it was a gimmick film with actor brothers playing the brothers in the film. The Carradine brothers playing the Youngers, the Keach brothers playing the James, the Quaid brothers playing the Millers, and the Guest brothers playing the Fords. What I got when I finally watched it was the third best film about Jesse James after The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). Like Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979), the only real female supporting actress is an afterthought. Ry Cooder’s score adds to the authentic feel of the film. The mood, setting, and dialog makes this feel like Hill is channeling his inner-John Ford (see Ford regular Harry Carrey Jr. in a small role). The men believe in the brotherhood of what they are doing and are reluctant to speak of their feelings. This film doesn’t have enough credit for being one of the best Westerns of its era that doesn’t star Clint Eastwood.
Best of the Rest
- You can’t bring up John Denver and I’m not going to think of his brilliant work with the Muppets. This performance from Rocky Mountain Holiday is when this song got imprinted in my brain.
- “Is that your cat?” The Temptations ad for the holidays with the orange tabby interrupting the holiday show makes me miss my Desmond and captures the orange kitty attitude perfectly.
- “Forgetting to give back / Isn’t it a pity.” – Harrison. The Apple Holiday film shot on iPhone is a mini-film that gives you the feeling of having watched an episode-long story. Use of the George Harrison song is perfect for the type of story they are telling. George was telling us that loneliness is a fixable situation if we take the opportunity to reach out to each other.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 6/15/2008, it was Father’s Day and I was excited to take my Dad and the family out on a boat for a ride on Lake Lewisville. My #67 Favorite Film of All-Time was Seven Samurai (1954). I would have initially thought of this as a Top Twenty film but upon further thought about the other Kurosawa films and the other films of the Top 100, this is a fair rating. Tiger was leading the U.S. Open if I had a chance to watch the end of it later. Weeds (SHOW) was starting a fourth season and Battlestar Galactica (SCI-FI) was finishing a season. There wasn’t much to watch but I had an intriguing list to revisit.
- BEST BEARDS AND MUSTACHES OF ALL-TIME (2008)
- 10. Charles Bronson
- 9. Hulk Hogan
- 8. Freddie Mercury
- 7. John Waters
- 6. Morgan Spurlock
- 5. Frank Zappa
- 4. John Oates
- 3. Robert Downey Jr. Best goatee sub-award.
- 2. Tom Selleck
- 1. Burt Reynolds
- BEST BEARD AND MUSTACHES OF ALL-TIME (2023)
- 10. Jason Momoa. His Khal Drogo character beard being the tip top example for him.
- 9. Idris Elba. Definitely the classiest salt and pepper beard on this list.
- 8. Dan Haggerty. How did I leave off Grizzly Adams on the first list?
- 7. Mr. T. You gotta love the lifelong commitment to the jet black beard.
- 6. David Harbour. Maybe a bit influenced by newness but his Hopper character on Stranger Things is one of the best current mustaches.
- 5. John Waters. The lifelong commitment to the pencil thin mustache is admirable. There are few other people that could make this work.
- 4. Tom Selleck. Moved him down the list after remembering the years that he abandoned his facial hair.
- 3. Chuck Norris. With all the roundhouse kicks, it’s easy to miss a pretty hard ass beard.
- 2. Sam Elliot. He’s become defined my his facial hair to the point of parody but it’s still pretty awesome.
- 1. Burt Reynolds. I have looked up and down and all around and I just can’t find a better one.
- This list of historical figures and legendary characters is one that I could have done all by itself. That would include Zeus, Leonardo DaVinci, Karl Marx, and Santa Claus. I’ve left off sports figures (sorry, Rollie Fingers) because there are just too many to choose from. I’ve left off Charlie Chaplin for what became of that style in the 1930s and 1940s. The hardest one to leave off is late life David Letterman only because, while impressive, it does have the appearance of someone who needs a State Agency to check up on him.
- BEST BEARDS AND MUSTACHES OF ALL-TIME (2008)
1973 in Review
- November – Tales From The Tomb V.5 #6 (Eerie Pub): Always a fabulous color cover and B&W horror stories inside.
- November 20 – A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (CBS) debuts on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving as the 10th Peanuts special and the third holiday special.
- November – Inside Wrestling. Jack Brisco was the NWA champion and would spend most of the 1973 and 1974 years feuding with the Funk Brothers (Terry and Dory Jr.) solo and with his brother. His biggest contribution to the future of wrestling was the discovery of Hulk Hogan in the late ’70s.
What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?
Mountain Dew Zero Sugar: Voo Dew
The Cherry Airheads soda received a mostly positive review from me around Halloween. I waited a bit to try the Zero Sugar version. I’m usually pretty happy with these Mtn Dew Zero Sugar versions. This had the sweetener taste that I remember from the previous century. The cherry taste ends up overpowered by the “diet” flavor. This is one of the few Mtn Dew disappointments in the past decade.
Little Debbie: Christmas Tree Cakes Ice Cream
The tasty cakes have been around since 1985. The ice cream first debuted in 2021 but this is the first time that I’ve been able to encounter it in-stock at the store. The vanilla base is surprisingly smooth. There’s a bit of a problem with the size of the pound cake pieces in there, but I enjoy the texture difference of the green and red sprinkles. It goes well with just a basic cake as it ends up tasting like a more mellow frosting.
Chex Mix: Remix – Cheesy Pizza
I’m less impressed with this as I was with the zesty taco. There are pizza sauce Chex, garlic and herb Chex, cheese puffs, and pizza bagel chips. I guess that the bagel chips are supposed to give a pizza crust sensation and the Chex to cover the sauce flavors. The cheese puffs don’t come with enough cheesy flavor to live up to the name of the mix. I’d like something else in the mix to give more of a cheese flavor. I want more of a crunch in my Chex Mix, even if it doesn’t fit the flavor profile they are going for. These just don’t make the cut for the price.
“The days they pass so quickly now, nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it’s cold
Changes somehow frighten me, still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old” – John Denver