Pop Culture Ephemera
- A Woman Under the Influence (1974) (Directed by John Cassavetes): “Mabel is not crazy; she’s unusual. She’s not crazy, so don’t say she’s crazy.” – Nick. From his first film Shadows (1959), Cassavetes established his unmistakable style of realism that is uncomfortably real more often than not. In 1974, it all came together for this brilliant film with Peter Falk (a construction foreman) and his wife Gena Rowlands who may be mentally ill or just incredibly empty inside. There’s a scene around the dinner table where Mabel (Rowlands) asks her father, “Will you stand up for me?” and he stands instead of really understanding the question. That tiny moment shows so much about her loneliness and need for love as well as showing us the surface relationship her father has to her. Rowland was nominated for an Oscar for this role. It’s ultra real in a way that turns it into an emotional experience more than a story. I can’t imagine this being greenlit by any studio today and yet the feelings are relatable. At one point, Mabel tells Nick (Falk), “Tell me what you want me to be. I can be anything.” Is there a more 2023 statement of yearning to find a place where you fit in than that? File this under “they don’t make ’em like that anymore.”
- What We Do in the Shadows – “Exit Interview” (S.5 E.10) (FX) (2023): “I wish they had Bravo here.” – Guillermo. An excellent end to Season 5 of the series, but we are left with some interesting questions heading into Season 6. The episode turns away from the traditional sitcom tropes that they have expertly woven into the vampire stories. It’s also the most introspective and intelligent that Nandor has been in the series. His thoughts on Guillermo turning into a vampire and what it means to the house gives the episode a much more serious bent. I loved the season and this finale maybe less so because the consequences were removed. The reason for so many of the stories of Guillermo wanting to become a vampire or serving as their servant is gone. How does the story exist with Guillermo neither as an equal or subservient familiar? If it means more Colin Robinson, then we are all the better for the changes. If it means a return of Jackie Daytona, then this is the miracle we’ve always wanted.
- Python Lee Jackson (feat. Rod Stewart) – “In a Broken Dream” (1972) (from In a Broken Dream): “The promises you gave / From the grave of a broken heart.” – Python Lee Jackson. Australian Blues Rock band needs some guidance on vocals for their song and Rod Stewart is kind enough to perform some guide vocals and it is instantly brilliant. The guitar is so influential that I’ve heard it alternately assigned to the likes of David Gilmour or Jeff Beck. Gilmour definitely because the band has that same era Pink Floyd about themselves. Beck probably because the interplay with Stewart and guitar mirrors what he will do later. I have no source that can claim that either of those are attributable and I tend to believe it’s the Python Lee Jackson crew playing behind Rod’s wonderful soulful vocal. Bonus points for excellent use in Lars Von Trier’s Breaking The Waves (1996).
- The Enforcer (1976) (Directed by James Fargo): “As I remember, the last time we played as a team I got the cue stuck in my ass.” – Harry. The third (rumored at the time to be the last) outing as Dirty Harry Callahan for Clint Eastwood teams him up with a new partner in Tyne Daly. While this allows for some very dated and uncomfortable attitudes towards women in the workplace, it also serves to turn the Dirty Harry series in a different direction. In Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973), Eastwood was a true vigilante: judge, jury and executioner. He was portrayed as almost mentally unhinged to catch a killer. Here, he’s more of a bend-the-rules detective who is doing his job to defend other cops and the city of San Francisco. Tyne Daly brings out more of a human side to the character, especially in their interactions in the last third of the film. It’s not a true buddy-cop film. It’s still solidly in the neo-noir genre. The plot isn’t to the level of the first two; this has too simple and generic of a story, but as entertainment goes, this is the best to date.
- The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) (Directed by Clint Eastwood): “‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.” – Josey Wales. Clint directs and the script is put together by Phillip Kaufman (originally tapped to direct) who would later help Spielberg create the Indiana Jones character. With an opening scene where his home and family are wiped out by the military “Redlegs” from Kansas, it’s easy to think this will be a film of vengeance in the vein of his Dirty Harry films of the era. This film turns into much the opposite as Josey Wales just wants to protect those around him so they can have a peaceful life. Clint picks up travelers at every turn along the way including the great Chief Dan George who should have won an award for his role. His ragtag band become a funny kind of family and it echoes the Western tradition going back to the 1930s. This might rightly be called the peak of Eastwood’s Western persona that he has cultivated since the Leone films. Each Eastwood Western film from here on out will only be able to reflect on the older gunfighter as a shadow of Josey Wales.
Best of the Rest
- Two Wes Anderson movies in a year? Another Roald Dahl adaptation by Wes Anderson? That’s yes to both. Kinda. Asteroid City (2023) is still a Best of the Year list contender. Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) is among his most beloved. The adaptation of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar will debut on Netflix on September 27th. The running time is said to be 37 minutes, so I’m not sure we can call it more than 1.33 movies for Wes in 2023. One of my top-ten authors directed by one of my current top-ten directors has the formula for success. Add to that a cast with Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade and it’s hard to imagine a downside.
- I am reluctant to even write about this ad for fear that it will be banned from YouTube before this blog even publishes. It’s an advertisement for the new Prism+ Q Series Google TV and it’s cringeworthy and memorable. I don’t know if “television” is what I’m going to remember about this ad. I’m waiting for the Human Centipede ad for Jared Jewelry next Christmas.
- The Python Lee Jackson song makes sense for a sample of a chill beat song. I hadn’t figured it to make such a perfect sample for A$AP Rocky on his “Everyday” song. On second thought, it’s still a chill song. Bonus credit for giving Rod Stewart credit in the title.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 3/30/2008, other than baseball practice, it was a pretty free weekend and I was looking forward to the following week’s Final Four, wondering if I should watch Kitchen Nightmares, and concerned that Paris Hilton was guest starring on My Name Is Earl. My #13 Favorite Film of All-Time was Psycho (1960). This might not be my highest-rated Hitchcock but this is a fair rating for such an important film to every horror film that would come afterwards. The Hitchcock interview with Truffaut brings so much respect to how groundbreaking it was at the time. My list of the week is going to cause me to think for a few moments.
- TOP TEN SODAS OF ALL-TIME (March 2008)
- 10. Cherry Coke.
- 9. Stewart’s Cream Soda.
- 8. Surge (replaced at that time by Vault).
- 7. Grape Crush. It’s the sweetest soda out there and I’m not sure I can even finish a can.
- 6. A&W Root Beer. For floats only.
- 5. Mr. Pibb (now known as Pibb Xtreme). This was here strictly from nostalgia because I didn’t drink it any longer.
- 4. Faygo Rock n Rye.
- 3. Mt. Dew. “Do The Dew”.
- 2. Dr. Pepper (preferably the Imperial Sugar version). Is this the most universally liked soda? I rarely meet people who don’t like the flavor.
- 1. Coca-Cola. This won on flavor and on nostalgia as part of my life for as long as I can remember.
- TOP TEN SODAS OF ALL-TIME (September 2023)
- 10. Cherry Coke. This is the perfect placement for a soda that I only have at theaters with popcorn.
- 9. 7-Up. Not sure how this ultimate mixer didn’t make it on the previous list. Also the soda of every sick day from school or work.
- 8. Grape Crush. It still sits here by reputation more than how often I drink it. This is the King of Grape Sodas.
- 7. A&W Root Beer. This makes an appearance here just for the nostalgia of getting it from the restaurant.
- 6. Vernor’s Ginger Ale. I’ve always liked this but as I get older it’s become a big favorite even just to drink on its own when I’m not sick.
- 5. Sprite. Surprised this wasn’t on my list previously. It might be the only soda on this list that is almost always in the pantry or garage.
- 4. Faygo Rock n Rye. Great memories and I don’t get to have it much here in Texas. I think of it as a summer drink with a sandwich like a BLT or Club.
- 3. Dr. Pepper. Still best with the Imperial Sugar but just a go-to classic. I like the Dark Berry but the original is still a winner at restaurants with a burger.
- 2. Mt. Dew. My weird obsession. I just love the flavor of the original and most of the alternative releases.
- 1. Coca-Cola. It’s got the best flavor of any of the sodas. It tastes good in bottles, cans and from the fountain. It’s still best with the real sugar. It goes well with just about any meal and it’s loved around the world.
- At the time, I had Pineapple Fanta as my worst soda of all-time. The one that has me the most confused nowadays is the love that Sunkist gets. I just don’t find it to be an enjoyable experience. If you need an orange soda, the go-to is Jarritos Mandarin. There’s still no love given here for Pepsi and I’ve turned my back on RC Cola for good.
- TOP TEN SODAS OF ALL-TIME (March 2008)
1973 in Review
- September – Marvel Team-Up #13. Written by Len Wein. Pencils by Gil Kane. Peter Parker is still trying to deal with the death of Gwen Stacy. The team-up is to fight the Grey Gargoyle but it’s really closer to a S.H.I.E.L.D. story.
- September 8 – Margaret Court won her fifth U.S. Open Tennis championship (her 24th Major Championship in total) over Evonne Goolagong. On Sunday, September 9, John Newcombe will complete the Australian dominance with a victory over Jan Kodes.
- September 15 – Cover art by the popular artist of the decade, LeRoy Neiman.
What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?
On The Border: Jalapeno Ranch Dip
This has been out for about a year, if I recall, and yet it still says “New!” on the packaging. I was disappointed that this wasn’t more queso based with jalapeno and ranch flavors. It’s much closer to a sour cream and onion taste and even with my own jalapenos, it didn’t pack the punch that I had hoped. Just disappointing on so many levels. Not the snack way to start the football season.
Taki’s: Dragon Sweet Chili
The Taki brand is synonymous with “too much heat” for my snacking enjoyment and I don’t often purchase even their new offerings. I was worried about the dragon on the cover. What I got was a hot but not overly spicy combination of sweet and heat in a roll of crunchy corn chip. Like good Asian food that heats but doesn’t overwhelm, these are surprisingly enjoyable and not going to raise a sweat with a bowlful for snacking.
Monster Cereal: Frankenberry
I’ve dipped into the second Monster Cereal of the season. Frankenberry has never been my favorite but I don’t have a specific complaint about them other than I can’t seem to capture a picture where they don’t look orange. My only observation in 2023 is that I think we are getting fewer marshmallows in this and in the previous Count Chocula.
“I sit here in my lonely room
Don’t push your love too far
You know your wounds won’t even leave a scar
Right now is where you are
In a broken dream” – Python Lee Jackson