Previously on FTCH, we walked with Hendrix, Who, and Woo. There were hot almonds, sour corns, and gingerbread candy bars. This will be the final episode of 2021. There will be some FTCH specials over the next few weeks and we’ll start the second season in January. The holiday break looms larger with one more full week of work left this year. This week’s FTCH has a doggy, bugs, and there’s a sendoff with some of the best Xmas ads of the past twenty years. And we leave out some cookies and beer for good measure. Remember, FTCH works extra hard so you don’t have to.
Pop Culture Ephemera
- Greyfriars Bobby (1961) (Directed by Don Chaffey): Disney has had their share of wonderful dog stars in this era. There was Lassie films and Old Yeller that both pulled at the heartstrings in different ways. I don’t know why Bobby doesn’t get the same love. The story of Bobby, a Skye Terrier, is simple at heart. A shepherd and his dog, Bobby, come to Edinburgh. After the untimely death of his master, Bobby becomes the responsibility of the young people of the town and the caretaker of the Greyfriars graveyard where Bobby stands guard every night at his master’s grave. Disney knows just how to pull at the heartstrings. There’s a good mix of children, sick children, cold old men with hearts of gold, and lots of shots of the dog. This is a very likable movie even if a simple one.
- Doctor Who – “The Moonbase: Part One” (S.4 E.23) (1967): The TARDIS lands on the Moon in 2070 at a base that controls the weather on Earth. There’s a mysterious illness affecting the inhabitants of the moonbase that is blamed on the Doctor and his companions. The big reveal is that the Cybermen are the cause of everything going awry on the Moon. This starts what is one of my favorite stories of the early shows and certainly of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). This is only the second story featuring the Cybermen but it sets them up here as the worthy opponents they will become for the Doctor. The Second Doctor finally comes into his own here as smart and serious but with a decent sense of humor. In many ways, this story sets a template that we will finally see come to fruition with the current Doctors.
- Curtis Mayfield – “Keep On Keeping On” (1971) (from Roots): “Everybody gather round and listen to my song / I’ve only got one.” I didn’t make this week’s song a Christmas song but this is the next best thing for me. What better message could we put out there than to encourage each other to “keep on keeping on”? This song encourages you to remember that everyone has had a tough time but we can all look to the light. There are ups and downs but we can unite as one. I love how Curtis mixes some funk with his gospel background here. There’s that hint of Marvin and Smokey in the orchestration and vocals at the beginning. Then it falls into a church feel at the end. Happy Holidays, my faithful readers.
- Bug (1975) (Directed by Jeannot Szwarc) Written and produced by genre master William Castle, this is more than just your usual “animals attack” genre. The movie starts in a church when an earthquake hits that releases these beetle-type insects that can start fires with their legs and defy scientific classification. About half of the film is caught up with Professor Parmiter (Bradford Dillman) trying to figure out as much information as he can about the bugs. The feeling of unease with the bugs invading our normal lives is made more creepy with the main set being the Brady Bunch kitchen and living room (the series only recently being cancelled at this time). That feeling of normalcy is offset with some very creepy scenes of bugs setting fire to cats, cars, and eventually people. The story isn’t a happy vision of our future as Science actually makes the problem worse than it was to start. The director was a pretty good pedigree. Szwarc would go on to direct Jaws 2 (1978), Somewhere in Time (1980), and Santa Claus: The Movie (1985). The acting and effects are passable enough to make this a really disturbing and entertaining low budget horror.
- Hobson’s Choice (1954) (Directed by David Lean): “I’ve noticed that if you get one marriage in a family, it goes through t’lot like meazles.” – Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton). This year has become an accidental trip through the works of David Lean and I couldn’t be happier. Charles Laughton plays Henry Hobson, a boot shop owner in Victorian England who battles with his eldest daughter, Maggie’s (Brenda De Banzie) impending marriage to his best bootmaker, Will (John Mills). It’s easy to compare this comedy to Blithe Spirit since both are based on famous plays, have strong acting performances, and are both non-traditional romantic comedies. The difference here is the creative camerawork as we travel through this Victorian city. This doesn’t have the trappings of a single location play but much more of a cinematic sweep of a historical city. There’s a couple distinct films that are happening at once. The “romance” is first and foremost the viewer’s interest as the relationship develops first as a type of business proposition. The second film is that of the grumpy and usually very drunk father, Charles Laughton. He’s not always my favorite in films because he tends to overact and dominate lesser films. David Lean knows just the right level of usage for his character and I’m completely enthralled by this film. Lean is still working out some of the camerawork that he would later perfect in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Just sit back and enjoy this often forgotten comedy from a master of the craft.
Best of the Rest
- I’ve always been a fan of language. I love the meaning and power of it. I’ve never been a slave to the “rules” but I’ve followed the accepted ones to make sure that my meanings are not misconstrued (except when I want them to be misconstrued. But mostly I’m into being construed). This article from Merriam-Webster sets the world straight on some of the forbidden words. It appears that “irregardless” is a word even if Microsoft wants to throw a red underline on it. It’s a non-standard from of “regardless” apparently. I was told not to use “worser” but Shakespeare did in Antony and Cleopatra, “I cannot hate thee worser than I do, if thou again say ‘yes.'” Most surprisingly, there’s both a “funner” and “funnest” even though it’s still something that makes someone sound stupider when I hear it.
- I love the in-depth look that the folks at Atlas Obscura take at things that are hidden in plain sight. This article on the history of “dagnabbit” takes pages to even get to the word. It makes sense in the end that there’s the explanation of how we change words to avoid the perceived power of the language. The history of the word “bear” is interesting and detailed here. But back to “dagnabbit”. Spoiler alert – it’s a deformation of the taboo word “goddammit” that was forbidden. You change the “god” to “dag” and the “dammit” to “nabbit” and there you go. I’m sure someone initially came up with “dogmaddit” and that just wasn’t going to flow off the tongue of Yosemite Sam with the same humor.
- The Christmas ad season in the United States is always won by Apple. The rest of the world has a hard time competing with John Lewis. The 2015 ad of the “Man On The Moon” hints at a larger story I would pay money to see in theaters. The 2013 John Lewis ad of the friendship between the bear and the hare still resonates with me. John Lewis’ ad for 2021 created a pretty complete movie in two and a half minutes and I love the use of “Electric Dreams”. And we’ll end with the EDEKA commercial that hits at the heart of the holidays and family (cue the ugly tears).
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 7/29/2006, I was a week returned from the 2006 Comic-Con in San Diego. There was a Shark Week coming up on Discovery. I recommended Shark Hunter: Chasing the Great White. There were also some Summer X-Games from when I was watching those with the boys. I was looking forward to a new series, The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman (IFC) It had been compared to Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I never did catch up with it then. Too busy with Shark Week that I know I watched. I caught a couple episodes this week to see why that series didn’t break out.
- Somehow this show went under the radar for two seasons. I don’t know that it moves the needle in either direction. It’s not a terrible painful bit of comedy. It’s not subtle brilliance of Curb or Extras. The two leads, Jackie (Laura Kightlinger), a writer, and Tara (Nicholle Tom), a flunky at a film production company, try to be a Hollywood version of Absolutely Fabulous, at least in spirit. There’s a fairly predictable flow to each episode that I watched where the two discover a plan that will further their careers, they get into a situation that isn’t what they thought it would be, and then are either drunk or high as they extricate themselves, face humiliation, and then reinforce their friendship. I think this show was just a solid executive producer away from major accomplishments.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Blue Diamond Xtremes: Ghost Pepper
The three flame Blue Diamond Almonds Xtremes seemed scary at first. The Ghost Pepper was not nearly as flame worthy as the can suggested. There’s a good dusting of heat on the almonds but that’s an adjustable component if you find them too hot. Just brush off as much of the dust as you need to feel comfortable. These were not even sweat inducing. Not to say they don’t have good flavor. I finished the can pretty quickly. Now it’s time to consider if I’m ready for four flames.
Snoopy Shape Sugar Cookies
There isn’t a person reading this that saw these and didn’t think to themselves “Welp, I’m gonna see those on FTCH pretty soon.” I had been on the lookout for them for a couple weeks and found them at the local Kroger. I’m happy to report that Pillsbury still makes a great sugar cookie. The only disappointment is that they aren’t “Snoopy shape”; they have a Snoopy shape on a red background. It’s a minor quibble that I wanted a cute doggy-shaped cookie. You’ll also be surprised to know that Rigby approves of the cookies once they are cooled too.
Stone Xocoveza Tres Leches
What a perfect time of year for an Imperial Stout with the flavors of Mexican Hot Chocolate and Tres Leches. This is a creamy and smooth stout that is a comfort beer for the holidays. The initial scent is that of a cinnamon and chocolate beer. The aftertaste is that of a hint of coffee and vanilla. Pour it and let it warm up just a bit. There’s just a tiny bit of spice to the taste but I found it just a delightful beer. Stone has kept their top spot in my beer world.
“And there’s still a lot of faith, warmth, and trust
When we keep on keeping on” – Curtis Mayfield