Pop Culture Ephemera
- Lars Kepler – The Nightmare (2010) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard): “Dying’s not a nightmare.” I really liked The Hypnotist but I wasn’t sure I was going to continue with the series. Much like the first book, there is a murder (in this case, two murders) that don’t appear easy to solve at first glance. A woman is found in a boat, with dry clothes, drowned, and a man hangs himself but the clues don’t match the result. Joona Linna starts to see a connection as he solves the two murders along with a new character, Saga Bauer, and the second half of the book turns into more of a arms dealing espionage story. The book has a great first half as a “cleaner” hunts down Penelope (who we are led to believe will be the main focus of the book). The second half goes off on some tangents (as did The Hypnotist with long flashbacks) with some musical connections that feel shoehorned in to make the backstories come together. A good character, Joona Linna, is a bit wasted towards the back half of the story when I want more Columbo and less Jason Bourne but overall a fun read.
- Star Trek – “The Paradise Syndrome” (S.3 E.3) (NBC) (1968): “It’s just so peaceful. Uncomplicated, no problems, no… command decisions. Just… living.” – Capt. Kirk. An asteroid is hurtling towards a planet that the crew finds to be populated by descendants of Northeastern Native American tribes. Capt. Kirk disappears and has amnesia. While he is declared a god (Kirok) and embarks on a romance, Spock pushes the crew to their limits aboard the Enterprise to stop the asteroid. I really had no memory of this episode. It’s not terrible and even has some decent Spock moments. I just can’t get past the dull portrayal of the Native Americans and a predictable love story for Kirk. The episode falls too easily into Kirk being the White Savior of the Native tribe and it just hasn’t aged well. The show works best when it keeps the science fiction elements foremost in the stories of each episode and they just faded into the background here.
- The Bird and the Bee – “How Deep Is Your Love” (2009) (from Please Clap Your Hands): “And you come to me on a summer breeze / Keep me warm in your love, then you softly leave.” I first heard the original version on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and it stood out among the disco powerhouse hits. I don’t know the statistics but I have to believe that this is the most covered Bee Gees’s song because it hits on such a universal feeling lyrically. This version by the Bird and the Bee takes a more jazzy vocal approach and has shown up in a number of commercials and films including Sex and the City. It’s a dreamy song about feeling that connection to someone who is far away. Inara George’s voice gets right to the core of the song by capturing the melancholy of missing but not falling over to emo sadness. It’s a song that feels like a breathy whisper in your ear.
- Yellowstone – “Meaner Than Evil” (S.3 E.9) (Peacock) (2020): “Karma comes in all shapes and sizes. Looks like it’s me today.” – Walker. There’s a noticeable pattern in many current shows. There’s a flurry of plot development and character introspection right before the final episode of a season. No different here with an unusually active episode that manages to still fit in a few moments of violence. Walker is back, Beth has lost her job after her recent shenanigans, Jamie confronts his father (really, why?), and there’s some revenge for what was done to Teeter. The show bogs down when it becomes a real estate saga. The Beth story about equities and stuff loses me and would probably play out better on a different show. The family moments and the running the ranch are where the show shines and there’s a calm moment of Costner having breakfast with his grandson that keeps me interested. I imagine we’ll wrap up the Roarke storyline finally as the Third Season ends but this show is lacking direction that I thought it had in the first two seasons.
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos): “He’s got issues. Serious psychological issues.” – Steven. Last year was my rediscovery of Colin Farrell. This 2017 film should have been a sign of things to come. Steven (Farrell) is a surgeon with a wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children, Kim (Raffey Cassidy, White Noise) and Bob (Sunny Suljic, Mid90’s). He has developed a type of friendship with Martin (Barry Keoghan) who is the son of a man who died recently under his care. This initial pairing of two-thirds of the Banshees of Inisherin shows some incredible chemistry between the two. This film is odd, creepy, disturbing, tense, and unnerving. The director creates a superficial and stilted way for the actors to deliver their lines quickly and flatly that can be annoying but helps set up this “perfect world” of the family that while sterile plays against the horrors that are happening in their lives. Much like one of the director’s previous films The Lobster (2015), this film operates most of the final half in a world of metaphor and symbols. The doctor may be the God or the Devil in regards to Martin’s father’s death and Martin might be a God or Devil in dealing out his ultimate punishment for his father’s death. It’s a beautifully shot film with a score that is unsettling at every turn. It’s definitely a film that will stick with you.
Best of the Rest
- I love the short story and I have a love for the short film (maybe from my first love of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies). I love the quote from Canal+ regarding the purpose of their current advertisement playing in front of some film festival movies, “We wanted to show that it’s not the size of the film that counts but the emotions that we feel while watching it.”.
- I don’t know if there are any lessons to be learned from the Stephen King remakes from the past few years including The Stand and last year’s Firestarter. Both tried to mostly lean on the source material with some balancing of the story with current movie trends. It’s interesting that Children of the Corn has had more films than almost any King source other than Carrie. I don’t find it to be even a Top Five story from the Night Shift collection. This new adaptation looks to flip the script a bit more by changing the gender of the main character and as far as I can tell from the trailer, maybe increasing the special-effects budget. I’m deeply skeptical of this based upon these two minutes.
- Who else would love inflation more than the Count from Sesame Street? This great character doesn’t get much traction in advertising and this is the perfect product. Although I’m not completely sure I can explain a NerdWallet. I got a giggle from this one.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 9/16/2007, it was another hot fall weekend in Texas. Christian had lost his football game but got an interception. It’s funny how I can totally remember those details. My #78 favorite film was The Great Dictator (1940). That’s in the right neighborhood because there are three other Chaplin films that would rate above it. There were Emmys coming up that promised to reward The Sopranos. There were some new shows starting up including Survivor: China and Torchwood. There was show starting on Fox that caught my interest on paper.
- K-Ville – “Pilot” (S.1 E.1) (2007): “So you’re into voodoo now? You know you white, right?” – Officer Boulet. This Fox police drama was paired with Prison Break on Monday nights. Officer Boulet (Anthony Anderson) of the New Orleans Police Department is paired with Officer Cobb (Cole Hauser) in the post-Katrina time. It’s hard to figure out from the first episode if it’s going to be a light buddy cop show or a hard-nosed, fight against corruption, crime drama. This isn’t the forum for high-minded social commentary (save that for HBO) and the Anderson / Hauser teaming would have lasted longer than two and a half months with more of the cliche procedurals that litter the network in 2023.
1973 in Review
- February 25. The debut of The Superstars (ABC) competition that pits ten athletes from different sports in unique events. Bob Seagren, a pole-vaulter, bests skier Jean-Claude Killy. Other participants included Johnny Bench, Johnny Unitas, Rod Laver, Joe Frazier (who is definitely not a swimmer), and Elvin Hayes.
- February 26. At the 8th Academy of Country Music Awards, Merle Haggard is the big winner of Country Music Male Artist of the Year. Donna Fargo – “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.” is the song of the year.
- February 28. The most postmodern of postmodern novels, Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow is published and now English Majors have something to struggle with other than Ulysses. I still haven’t had the pleasure of trying to deconstruct this novel but it will happen someday.
What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?
Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels: Cinnamon Sugar Seasoned Pretzel Twists
These were out around the Christmas holidays and I couldn’t find them. Cinnamon and sugar are good flavors all year around but especially good for gatherings at the holidays. Dot’s is a good brand of pretzel, even if more pricey than most. It’s a good mix of cinnamon, sugar, and hints of vanilla in the twists. I will warn you that there is a highly addictive quality to this product. Buy ’em when you can find ’em.
H-E-B Korean BBQ Ridged Potato Chips
Six years ago, H-E-B released a thin chip version of the Korean BBQ. I remember them having much more of a seasoned meat flavor. I can’t really identify the flavor but it’s in the ketchup family more than the BBQ sauce family. It’s not that they are bad. Trust me, the bag has progressed towards empty at a decent pace. I know they can do meat flavors because their brisket chips were magnificent. I’m not going to discourage weird chip flavors, so keep up the good work, H-E-B.
Dr. Pepper Zero: Strawberries & Cream
I don’t have a “favorite” Zero Sugar (formerly “diet”) soda. I appreciate most of the Mtn Dew Zero Sugars and the Coke Zero configurations, but consistently Dr. Pepper does Zero Sugar the best. This has good flavor but I found it better with potato chips as a snack than just drinking it as a separate beverage. This would be a solid addition to your summer picnics.
“And you may not think I care for you
When you know down inside that I really do
And it’s me you need to show
How deep is your love” – Bee Gees