Previously on FTCH, your last regular episode featured a doggy named Bobby and cookies with a doggy named Snoopy on them. Then there was the three-part finale to the first season. This week starts the second season of FTCH; there will be some of the features that you have come to love and as the year progresses, there will be new characters to amaze and surprise. This week starts a really busy run at work for the month of January. This episode starts off the year with returning friends like King, Mountain Dew, and almonds. We also delve into some Sayer, Hitchcock, and Eastwood. Remember, in order to comply with local and Federal regulations, only one FTCH is allowed per household.
Pop Culture Ephemera
- Stephen King – End of Watch (2016) (Scribner) (Bill Hodges Trilogy V.3): “You play the game to the end” – Bill Hodges. Just as 2021 was ending, I finished the last of the Bill Hodges Trilogy. Not surprisingly, the books are an improvement over what was an enjoyable television series (currently on the Peacock app for those with 30 hours to spare). The third book is similar to the second season of the series but with some much better choices. Is it the weakest of the three books? Yes. But the fault is more in trying to revisit the events of the first book when the divergence from them in the second book was so much more interesting. Hodges, Jerome, and Holly make a unique detective team and I’d love to see where else these characters could have taken us. The biggest problem here is that we have a set of known characters, there aren’t any interesting new ones per se, so the plot has to be the star. It hinges upon a supernatural hypnosis angle that is flimsy at best. If you can overlook that minor annoyance, it’s comfortable to slip into conversations with characters we know. That’s where King excels (see The Dark Tower series, The Stand and IT).
- Saturday Night Live – “Fran Tarkenton / Leo Sayer” (S.2 E.13) (1977): The first show with an athlete as host. And this is pre-That’s Incredible fame for Fran. He’s just coming off a Super Bowl loss to the Raiders when this episode came out. Fran isn’t asked to do much other than be himself in any of the sketches. He’s awkward at best but is put in some really embarrassing circumstances including telling Garrett Morris that “Yes, black quarterbacks are not as competent as white quarterbacks.” Belushi is good as a Lombardi-esque football coach but he’s coming off his knee injury and isn’t in many sketches. Bill Murrray is still not an official member of the players but he stands out in every sketch he appears. Leo Sayer is such a favorite of mine, despite his awkward appearance. (See below) This episode feels like the cast is still trying to capture the “cutting edge” first season. Even Jane addresses Chevy not being on Weekend Update by throwing open her shirt in a defiant move to say “See we are still dangerous.” Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.
- Leo Sayer – “When I Need You” (1977) (from Endless Flight): “It’s not easy when the road is your driver / Honey, that’s a heavy load we bear / But you know I won’t be traveling a lifetime.” The white British guy with the afro is how most people remember Leo Sayer. In his younger days, he had a bit of a Roger Daltrey look. This song was a huge hit for Leo in 1977 and let me confirm that it was still a huge player in 7th and 8th grade school dances in 1979 and 1980. His voice fits perfectly to these lyrics about missing someone over a long distance. I love that opening line. You find yourself being driving by the road instead of driving it. But he’s telling his lover that it won’t be forever. It’s cold out but that soulful voice assures you that he can just close his eyes and feel the warmth of her love. In addition to Saturday Night Live (see above), the most memorable performance of this song was on The Muppet Show.
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents – “The Landlady” (S.6 E.19) (1961) (Directed by Paul Henreid) Original story written by Roald Dahl and adapted by Robert Bloch. Some of the very best episodes are written by Roald Dahl. He would later remake this for his own series Tales of the Unexpected. Our titular landlady, Patricia Collinge, you’ll recognize from her role in Shadow of a Doubt. A young Dean Stockwell is the lodger and you can see glimpses of his Quantum Leap future. Roald has a pretty dark sense of humor and this is no different. Robert Bloch has a style that fits the Hitchcock name brand. This is his third adaptation of the season and not coincidentally, they have been the most memorable of the season. This is just the type of episode that keeps me slogging through this series. “I stuff all my little pets when they pass away.” – The Landlady.
- Joe Kidd (1972) (Directed by John Sturges): “Walk a straight line through a cow pasture, you gotta step in some cow pies, but you get where you’re goin’. – Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood) John Sturges had directed some pretty straightforward Westerns like Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Magnificent Seven (1960). Clint Eastwood had spent the last eight years starring in some genre-busting Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars (1964) through Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970). They are teamed together here with a script written by Elmore Leonard who had written Westerns that defied the tropes of the genre. It’s a quick setup (typical of Leonard) to get the characters on their journey. Eastwood plays Joe Kidd, a tracker, who teams with a wealthy landowner (Robert Duvall) to track a Mexican revolutionary (played oddly by John Saxon but he pulls it off on the strength of a great mustache). The Revisionist Western is full of what we now call anti-heroes. These are men of questionable morals, not your morally pure heroes of the traditional Western. In fact, the most sympathetic character is Luis Chama (the John Saxon character). The lessons of the film are based upon our initial identification with title character, Eastwood. Joe Kidd is a silent observer through much of the film, like the viewer. Do we support his cause? Is he a bad guy with a good heart? Sturges finds the best scenery to frame the film. I swear most of it takes place just as the sun is setting. There is an obvious influence of the Italian Spaghetti Western here in the way the scenes are framed and the music score.
Best of the Rest
- It’s been correctly pointed out that my “projects” are my New Year’s Resolutions. I’m spent last year learning about french fries and this year I’m learning about food trucks, Clint Eastwood, and 1972. Kraft understands their corporate role in the most common resolution – weight loss. And their answer in 2022? Screw it, say “no” and eat that mac & cheese. Way to lean into it, Kraft!
- The “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” quote has floated around for years on memes. I had assumed it was a relatively modern poetry quote. On a whim, I looked into the author, Sarah Williams, English poet. Turns out that this is taken from the poem “The Old Astronomer” written in the mid-1800s. The thought that this was written when we barely had knowledge of the planets and our understanding of our own moon was severely lacking is even more amazing. More importantly, it is alternately titled “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil” as these words are by a dying professor to encourage his student to take up his work.
- My podcast listening needs a revamp in 2022. One that fits into my science brain is The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week (PopSci). A short breakdown this week of the weird things includes the fact that brussel sprouts tasted more bitter up until the 1990s. The one that took me by surprise was that there’s an island off the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil that’s so infested with snakes that the locals call it Snake Island. Surveys say there is one snake for every square meter. So if you run for Ezekiel Elliot’s average rush this year, you are likely to run into a venomous pit viper (not just a Philadelphia Eagle linebacker). Not currently on my 2022 travel list.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 8/5/2006, the temps were flaring over 100 degrees for the 23rd straight day and the air conditioning wasn’t working in half the house. I remember barely surviving those days. As unhappy as I was with the weather, I was bragging over a few of the Summer 2006 shows. I took time to revisit some of these to see if they held up.
- 30 Days (FX) with now-disgraced Morgan Spurlock was one of the most interesting docuseries on television. The first episodes still hold up really well but you won’t find his shows played anywhere anymore. The episode where he and his wife try to live on minimum wage for thirty days is truly eye opening and I wish more people could still see it. The episode that still fascinates me is the man he follows who took steroids for thirty days to lose weight and bulk up. It’s amazing how quickly one can mess up their life. I miss this show.
- Life on Mars (BBC) was one of my top rated shows of 2006. It’s easy to forget about the original with the U.S. remake more fresh in my head. Sitting back down with the first couple episodes of this show, I have to remember to still recommend this show to people. The time travel detective story that tries to solve mysteries in both 1973 and 2006 at the same time. This is simply excellent.
- Hitchcocked! (Encore) was essentially a long commercial for a Hitchcock marathon on Starz! and Encore. With some famous current director names on the cast list, I’d hoped for more. It doesn’t cover any new ground or have any clever insights. I didn’t miss out in 2006 when this passed me by.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Blue Diamond Xtremes – Carolina Reaper
The two and three flame offerings weren’t as hot as I had initially feared. So what does the “hottest” bring? There’s nothing here that’s going to make you miserable but enough to bring the average heat fan like me just a little sweat. This is a good snack to have with other nuts or in a snack mix. I found this to be the best of the three Xtremes and it’s still good for the spicy hesitant.
Reese’s Potato Chips Big Cup
This late year entry into the candy game was a big winner for me. I’ve been a big fan of the salty and sweet combos. Salty and crunchy. I loved these. I might want a bit of a bigger chip inside but it’s still a great combination. Maybe I could wrap a Ruffle on each side and make it just the right mixture.
Mountain Dew – Spark
This Raspberry Lemonade flavor debuted as a Speedway Gas Station exclusive in the Summer of 2020. I was able to get a couple back then but obviously that summer had some limited travel options. It’s back again as a non-exclusive and it’s an enjoyable flavor. I tend to think of it as more of a summer taste so this is an interesting time of year to release it. It’s a slight improvement upon the 2017-2018 Mtn Dew Spiked Raspberry Lemonade. That one didn’t have the same raspberry flavor and was more dominated by the lemonade.
“Miles and miles of empty space in between us
A telephone can’t take the place of your smile
But you know I won’t be traveling forever
It’s cold out, but hold out and do like I do” – Leo Sayer