From the Couch Hole: In This Life I’ve Seen Everything I Can See

Previously on FTCH, last week on Star Island, the Shogun smelled old books and sizzlin’ cheese burgers. Godzilla and Kong were servants of two masters who both said to “Get Down Tonight.” This week felt like the start of the run towards summer. I’m excited for Caleb and my parents to be over today for an Easter lunch. Baseball season started, and I’ve moved on from my team’s terrible basketball season. This week the mysterious stranger might be Kong. We make a call to the Ghostbusters to fight the teacher’s heavy pet and they ask, “Do ya like Cajun chips.” Remember, FTCH is two great mints in one.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“I do not like an injurious lie, except when it injures somebody else.”
  • Mark Twain – The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories (1916) (Signet Classics): “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” I reported earlier that I had finished all of the Twain novels over the past decade. This is considered a part of his canon despite being unfinished at the time of his death. Culled together from a couple different versions, it’s more of a novella. When it’s combined with some of his classic stories, it makes a novel and also a great comparison. Twain has always found wry humor in the greed and dishonesty of people. You can see it in a story like “The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg” (1899) that leads off this collection. The title novella is about Satan, the nephew of the more famously named Satan. With very few humorous observations, this story is mostly just cruel and bitter about religion and humanity. This is written by an old man who has won and lost many fortunes over his life and doesn’t see a positive future for humanity. I really liked the short stories that only served to highlight the cruel outlook Twain had at the end of his life.
Buy The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories by Mark Twain
  • Family Guy – “Teacher’s Heavy Pet” (2024) (S.22 E.11) (FOX): “As someone who only listens to the first half of sentences, nice.” I don’t watch this on the regular anymore. It took me a couple months to realize that it had moved to Wednesdays. I know that The Simpsons were a Thursday night show for part of their series, but the Animation Domination run has been super impressive for FOX. Moving this to Wednesday is probably a good sign that they just need to burn off some episodes before cancelling it. This is a “Chris and Lois” heavy episode. Lois gets a job as a substitute teacher at Adam West High School, and Chris ends up with the popular crowd because they think he is sleeping with the new teacher. A small sampling of a few episodes aren’t impressive. Sadly, this one had a few more laughs in the cutaways than the others that I watched. The show has lost whatever edge it had, and I don’t imagine we’ll see this on the schedule a year from now. Things are not well when you are replaced by Grimsburg (FOX).
Buy E.L.O. A New World Record CD
  • Electric Light Orchestra – “Do Ya” (1976) (from A New World Record): “And I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above” – Jeff Lynne. Originally a song by The Move (Jeff Lynne’s previous band) in 1972. The sound of the original was more Glam Rock-influenced than the final version of the song in 1976 by E.L.O. Todd Rundgren had been performing it live in between there, giving it a Guitar Rock sound. Once the song was given the E.L.O. treatment with orchestration, it really brings out the Beatles sound and influence. Lynne’s vocals are some of his best here.
“I’ve seen lovers flying through the air hand in hand” – Jeff Lynne
  • Kong: Skull Island (2017) (Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts): “Kong’s a pretty good king. Keeps to himself, mostly.” – Hank Marlow. Having watched the latter appearances, I self-spoiled knowing who would and wouldn’t likely survive this film. It’s a retcon of sorts for the Kong legend. We move it into the early 1970s and draw the connections to Monarch and the Godzilla films of the Monsterverse. When dozens of Special Forces (along with their leader, Samuel L. Jackson) are dispatched with scientists to map this island, we know that we’ve set up the genre specific version of Aliens (1986) with our very own Colonial Marines in place. As we get further into the jungles of the planet, there are a number of nods to some of the best Vietnam War films in our history. The soundtrack folks have gone out of their way to keep reminding us of the time setting also. Don’t worry that you came to see a big ape film because you get plenty of Kong and other oversized animal monsters throughout the film. Any chance that the director wanted to make some political themes to the forefront are set aside every few minutes to make sure that the special-effects folks earn their salaries. It’s better than his next appearance with Godzilla, and I can almost say this was a properly entertaining film. I would like to see this on the big screen someday.
  • Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024) (Directed by Gil Kenan): “But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate, To say that for destruction ice, Is also great, And would suffice.” – Robert Frost. Starting the film with a quote from one of our greatest poets sets an expectation that the film was never going to live up to. The fifth feature film with Ghostbusters as a title and the fourth in the current continuity doesn’t pretend from that point forward to even pretend to break new ground. In fact, it seems determined to rehash old business (and jokes). Back in New York City, back in the firehouse, back with the same mayor and even the original (living) cast, this isn’t much more than a comfortable two hours with an old friend who has repeated the same stories since 1984. Like Ghostbusters II (1989), the story is slowed to a stop multiple times with backstory about the ghost mythology. I’ve long yearned for a turn towards horror as a genre for the film, but this isn’t that film. Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt are predictably funny, but they can’t lift it to the comedic status of even the reboot. It’s time to turn it over officially to the new generation if there’s another entry in the franchise. Let Sam Raimi direct too.

Best of the Rest

  • This live version of ‘Do Ya” by Todd Rundgren from 1975 shows how he turned the tune into a straight up rock song with the wailing guitars. The vocals take a backseat to the guitar riff. It is a testament to the song how well it works here and for Electric Light Orchestra.
“Never seen nothing like you.”
  • The good news post-Oscar victory is that Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone are teaming up again. Fresh from the Poor Things (2023) accolades, their new film is just as confusingly described. The best thing to keep in mind is probably just the title, Kinds of Kindness (2024) for June 21st. Few directors are working quickly enough to have two movies in two years. I appreciate keeping it simple enough to churn out movies often enough to build a filmography.
Buy Poor Things Blu-ray
  • I love these mega-mixes. The Hood Internet do a better job than most of finding just the right needle drops to bring the song to your mind. There are some brilliant transitions in this (check out “Don’t Leave Me This Way” morphing into “Don’t Fear the Reaper”). It ends with the “Do Ya” riff appropriately.
“They were asking if you were around.”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 9/28/2008, I had just ran my first 5K and finished 13th in my age group. Christian finished 4th in his age group. The same day I finished 3rd in the town’s salsa contest. My #91 Favorite Movie of All-Time was In The Heat of the Night (1967). The film won five Academy Awards, but I don’t think I’d put it in my Top 100 any longer. I haven’t watched it in a decade. I don’t think it’s nearly a shocking as it was in 1967. Still well acted and a funky Quincy Jones soundtrack but not Top 100 material. The Simpsons (FOX) was starting their 20th season and The Amazing Race (CBS) was on their 13th season. I was saddened by a recent death that influenced my Top Ten list of that week.
      • 10. Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
      • 9. Absence of Malice (1981) I always liked this forgotten film.
      • 8. Fort Apache: The Bronx (1981)
      • 7. The Hustler (1961)
      • 6. The Sting (1973)
      • 5. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
      • 4. Nobody’s Fool (1994): Old Newman is just damn cool.
      • 3. Slap Shot (1977)
      • 2. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
      • 1. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969): So many things come together perfectly in this film.
      • 10. Slap Shot (1977): Director George Roy Hill and Newman are linked forever. This raunchy comedy hasn’t aged well. I overrate it because of how much it meant to me as a young hockey player.
      • 9. Hombre (1967): Based on the Elmore Leonard novel, Paul is at home in the Revisionist Western genre.
      • 8. The Verdict (1982): Sidney Lumet directs the David Mamet script. Paul sizzles in this one.
      • 7. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972): Directed by John Huston with a script by John Milius. I know I didn’t understand what they were trying to do here even back in 2008. I’ve since learned an appreciation for the chaos of this film that I can’t even call a Revisionist Western. It’s just a great film.
      • 6. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958): Newman accomplishes so much with the way he delivers lines and the looks on his face in an era where Tennessee Williams couldn’t say exactly what he wanted to say.
      • 5. Cool Hand Luke (1967): Set in the late 1950’s, Newman’s search for freedom is reflective of the social awareness happening in the late 1960’s. He’s just as cool as they get here.
      • 4. Nobody’s Fool (1994): I’ve had a soft spot for this film since its release. I think it’s the best of his late life films.
      • 3. The Sting (1973): This moves up the list because of “based upon further review.” A recent watch of the film showed me so much more subtle brilliance to his performance that I never noticed before.
      • 2. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969): I guess the top three are pretty interchangeable. Redford and Newman are incredible together and the Western needed this star power in 1969 to kick off the next decade of creative stories.
      • 1. The Hustler (1961): Some actors just have “it”. In 1961, how could you not see that Paul Newman was just different than regular actors? His rivalry with Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats” is iconic. I marvel at his acting in this film.
    • There has to be a limited number of actors who have worked with Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, and the Coen Bros. I have been a big fan of his since I can remember. I was probably too upset about his death in 2008 to give a proper thought to my Top Ten. I still have his dressing on my daily salads and he makes wonderful popcorn.

1974 in Review

In The Issue: M*U*S*H
  • March – Cracked #115 (Dell): Cover artist John Severin.
  • March 30 – Little House on the Prairie airs as a television movie on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies. Directed and starring Michael Landon, it is the third highest rated show of the week and will premiere as a television series in the fall. It would run nine seasons until 1983.
  • March – National Lampoon is going strong with their “Stupid Issue.” Cover art by Charlie White. The “Stupid News and World Report” brought to you by writer P.J. O’Rourke.
Stupid News and World Report

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Wendy’s: Orange Dreamsicle Frosty / Pretzel Baconator

The smooth orange cream flavor makes this the best alternative Frosty flavor that they have made (yes, better than the vanilla that has a weird aftertaste). The pretzel bun pretty much makes every burger a better burger. It’s no different here. I’ll say that my age is showing when I declare that it’s a little too much of a burger as part of a meal with fries. Credit to Wendy’s for never skimping on the bacon or cheese.

H.E.B.: Cajun Wavy Potato Chips

I have only had an H.E.B. near me for over a year, but to my knowledge, these are new to the shelves. I like Cajun flavoring, especially on wings. These bring a nice subtle heat that’s mostly onion and garlic upfront. There’s a hint of cayenne, salt, and pepper. They aren’t salt heavy, which was my worry. They are a very pleasant chip. My only issue with the Wavy Chips from H.E.B. is that they don’t have the same crunch as a Wavy Lays. Other than that, this is a great chip with sandwiches.

Mountain Dew: Baja Laguna Lemonade

The summer soda season is officially upon us when the new Mtn Dew flavors drop. I know we are only at Easter but this combination of mango and lemonade makes for a sweet but refreshing beverage. Mango is a good fruit to offset the citrus of the lemonade. This is a good flavor to get us through until the true mid-summer release of this year’s Liberty Brew (hopefully).

“Do ya, do ya want my face?
(I need you)
Do ya, do ya want my mind?
(I’m saying)
Do ya, do ya want my love?” – Jeff Lynne

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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