From the Couch Hole: Or a Man Who Makes Potions in a Travelin’ Show

Previously on FTCH, the ring of terror was beyond Thunderdome over the cheeseburger melts. Madame Web took the sweet child o’ mine to the kingdome of the Planet of the Apes. This week I’m coming off a trip with my son, Christian, where we saw five baseball games in six days around Texas. I missed a huge storm here on Tuesday. Since then, it’s just been catching up all around. This week I played your song while I saw the TV glow in a quiet place. Endings are hard when you are stuck on Fury Road with Cool Ranch pretzels. Remember, FTCH is the official betting partner of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bird watcher

Pop Culture Ephemera

“Isn’t that a show for girls?” – Frank
  • I Saw the TV Glow (2024) (Directed by Jane Schoebrun): ” I- I- I think that, I like TV shows.” – Owen. In the late 1990s, teenager Owen is introduced to a television show called The Pink Opaque by a slightly older, Maddie. Whatever you think this film is going to be from the previews, I’m here to say that you are wrong. I can argue that it’s brilliant. I can more comfortably make a case for it being a brilliant mess. The show he and Maddie are obsessed with is a barely disguised Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) with a bit of Are You Afraid of the Dark (1990). What happens to children of that era who found more comfort in the characters of television shows than their real life? As a generation struggled, the stories of these shows filled a void. Owen is asexual (which I thought would be of more importance than it ended up being), and there’s an emptiness in him that he has filled with television shows. The film changes abruptly about an hour into it, and the elements of horror and fantasy enter not as genre elements but as symbols of larger issues. I came away with the question of “How do you be true to your authentic self?” If you fill your soul with other people’s stories, is there any room for your own experiences? What happens to Owen in his life is impenetrable to his life experiences. The show overpowers the horrific events of his life which are often just throwaway mentions. I can see where the twists and odd line delivery will turn off lots of viewers. I like it more now that I’m removed by hours from the theater.
Buy The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Sympathizer – “Endings Are Hard, Aren’t They?” (2024) (S.1 E.7) (HBO): “Why do I have this ominous feeling that the reviews are not going to be good?” – The Captain. The literary source material of the series is on show in the final episode. The Captain is back in Vietnam, and we are approaching the past of the show meeting up with the present of the narrative. The ending weaves in elements from all of the episodes including a funny callback from the movie the Captain was advisor on. The lesson of the program is that we tell and retell our own stories throughout our lives. That theme helps explain all of the Robert Downey, Jr. characters. We rewrite our lives daily and there is always an opportunity to write for ourselves instead of others. The real way to be a revolutionary is shown to be accomplished by being true to yourself. This was a challenging series that paid off with a more serious ending than I expected. I believe it might be even more rewarding to invest seven more hours to repeat and rewrite the story.
Buy Elton John by Elton John
  • Elton John – “Your Song” (1971) (from Elton John): “I don’t have much money but boy, if I did / I’d buy a big house where we both could live.” – Taupin/John. This was Elton’s second album (despite the deceptively self-titled name) and he and Bernie Taupin were starting to get into their groove. It’s a simple love song on the surface. The lyrics can be applied to a lover, family member, or even just a great friend. I don’t mind the lush orchestrations because that was the time. There is such a simple pleasure to the lyrics that it works wonderfully with just piano accompaniment too (see below). For a song that was never a #1 Billboard single, this is one of the best-known songs to come out of the ’70s.
“Anyway, the thing is what I really mean / Yours are the sweetest eyes oh I’ve ever seen.” – Taupin/John
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) (Directed by George Miller): “You know, hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll, uh… you’ll go insane.” – Max Rockatansky. Thirty years after Beyond Thunderdome, George Miller returned to his post-apocalyptic creation. He’s recast Tom Hardy as his Max (mostly still playing his Bane character and talking through a mask). The plot, as usual, is paper thin as Max is kidnapped, and then he ends up on a film-length chase as Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) escapes her tyrannical husband. The car chases are more frantic than any of the previous films thanks to better cameras and a higher frame rate. It borders on chaotic for most of the film. I can only think of my experience watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) as a film that was as chase centered. The future world of the film isn’t directly from the other films. There is a greater supply of gas and resources than in the previous movie. You aren’t meant to watch this for the plot and acting, although Theron does an amazing job with very little dialogue. The car-chase scenes are just better than anything coming out of Hollywood. There are small lessons about Max’s redemption and Theron’s quest for freedom, but this is a film you watch in order to see things crash and go boom.
  • A Quiet Place (2018) (Directed by John Krasinski): “Who are we if we can’t protect them? We have to protect them.” – Evelyn. The film starts with a title card, “Day 89.” In most films, that would require lots of backstory. This film covers the basics very quickly in the opening scene. We know that something bad has happened to society and that whatever is out there will attack if you make a noise. There isn’t much else to learn as the movie progresses about the previous 89 days (plus a year for the later scenes). Krasinski announces his Spielberg influences in the first 30 minutes. The “monsters are more scary when you don’t see them” theory of Jaws (1975) is well developed with the alien invaders. The back half of the film becomes more like Spielberg’s Duel (1971) with a faceless and relentless antagonist. I’m hard pressed to say if it’s a thriller with horror genre elements or if it’s a horror film that incorporates thriller tropes. We don’t tend to value silence in films. The blockbusters are full of explosions, monsters, and thumping soundtracks. It’s refreshing to have a film that relies on acting and visual clues to tell the story. Not a perfect film by any means, but it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
Cinema Sentries

Best of the Rest

  • In 2010, John Lewis chose an Ellie Goulding cover of “Your Song” as a tribute to the people who are givers who might wish they had more money. The hanging of the stocking on the doghouse still gives me goosebumps. Always credit to John Lewis for their Christmas advert choices.
“I’m not one of those who can easily hide.”
  • This Beach Boys cover of “Your Song” is really just Bruce Johnston showing off some amazing vocals. The song is sung more plaintive than Elton’s take on it. I find it completely endearing.
“My gift is my song.” – John/Taupin
  • We are going to be waiting a few years for the third and likely final movie of the Denis Villeneuve Dune series. He will likely tackle Dune Messiah (1969), although the real story is in Children of Dune (1976). In the meantime, the Universe that Star Wars borrowed from liberally is returning the favor by expanding to the past. Dune: Prophecy (MAX) looks to strike while the iron is hot and tell the story of the Bene Gesserit from centuries before the first film. I’m more than mildly interested although the Game of Thrones vibe might be too heavy here.
“Before the Universe knew them as the Bene Gesserit.”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 11/30/2008, November was coming to an end after a week off that I really needed. December was a super busy time at work and at home back then. My #62 Favorite Film of All-Time was The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957). Director David Lean was in the middle of an incredible run of films. I’m just not sure I would still keep this one in the Top 100. It’s beautiful but I have seen more films since this rating that I don’t hold it in the same regard. Christmas specials were starting as December started. Heroes (NBC) had me flummoxed and CSI: (CBS) guest starred Tippi Hedren. The list I made then definitely deserves a second look based upon the activity in the past six months.
      • 10. Godzilla Raids Again (1959): Second entry in the series is still one of the more serious ones.
      • 9. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1977): Underrated effort. This is a great combination of spy movies and Monster films.
      • 8. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963)
      • 7. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
      • 6. Godzilla 1985 (1985): The relaunch after ten years was worth the wait. It sets up all the movies to come.
      • 5. Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1970): aka King Ghidorah is back again for some campy fun.
      • 4. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004): Best of the latest crop.
      • 3. Gojira / Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956): The first one is still among the best. It’s more of a traditional horror film than the rest. The Japanese version really plays up the scary nuclear side. Even his presence makes you sick from the radiation.
      • 2. Godzilla vs. Mothra (aka Godzilla vs. The Thing) (1964): Best music of any Godzilla film! And twins!
      • 1. Destroy All Monsters (1969): Still the all-out king of Godzilla movies. Pure fun and destruction.
      • 10. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth (1992): My weakness for Mothra films is on display here. Godzilla is more of an afterthought in the plot. Topped off with some great battles.
      • 9. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991): I love this era of Godzilla films. The time-travel plot becomes too convoluted to follow, but this is lots of sheer fun.
      • 8. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974): There are some fun twists in the plot, you introduce King Caesar, and Mechagodzilla never runs out of explosives to fire.
      • 7. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004): I do like the films that throw in every monster available including some interesting upgrade redesigns of some favorites here.
      • 6. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021): Talk about just dispensing with plot in favor of monster battles. This wins on sheer entertainment of explosions and monster battles. Maybe the best of the American efforts because it doesn’t try to do much else.
      • 5. The Return of Godzilla (1984): This is the film that I knew as Godzilla 1985 (1985) which was badly dubbed and cut for America. The original language version plays in more of the Disaster Film genre. It’s an excellent return to form for the King of the Monsters.
      • 4. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989): I often forget how entertaining this entry was in the late ’80s. Biollante is sort of a Swamp Thing with Godzilla’s DNA mixed into his plant body. A pretty good plot surrounds the monster fights too.
      • 3. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001): Pulling out all the stops again to cram the screen full of monsters. Notable for having Godzilla be the evil one that needs to be stopped.
      • 2. Godzilla Minus One (2023): Maybe because I saw it in theaters is why this one affects me so much. It was awesome to see Godzilla on the very large screen, but there’s a combination of effects and human drama here that comes the closest to the original that sets it apart from the competitors.
      • 1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956): The destruction of post-war Japan here is scary and sad. A country that had just come out of the loss in WW2 was being punished again by nuclear warfare in the being of Godzilla. It’s a scary film in a way that the sequels have never completely figured out.
    • There are at least four distinct eras of Godzilla films, if we are including the current American Monsterverse. The characters have been in films, television shows, cartoons, video games, and comic books. It exists in movies that build upon previous one, as reboots, and as one-shots. The genre is hokey by definition, so it’s hard to say when it’s been terrible. I used to use ones like All Monsters Attack (1969) as an example of the cheap, low-budget ones where much of the footage was recycled. Upon watching again, I find some entertainment even in those today.
“The creature is an unknown organism”

1974 in Review

“Suddenly… the Stalker!”
  • June – Avengers #124 (Marvel): Cover by John Romita, Sr. Written by Steve Englehart. Art by John Buscema and Dave Cockrum. ” Mantis, I’ve said it before but never to you: You have a remarkable mind. – The Vision. The Avengers go to Vietnam.
  • June 1 – An article published in Emergency Medicine magazine by Henry Heimlich described a method of abdominal thrusts to clear obstructions in the airways.
  • June 1-7 – TV Guide cover by Al Hirschfeld. CBS cancelled The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour with the recent divorce of the couple. It would be replaced in the same time slot with The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show in the fall. The Sonny Comedy Revue would debut in the fall of 1974 on ABC but be cancelled by Christmas.
The day it all ended for Sonny and Cher.

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Kettle: GoChuJang – Sweet & Spicy

These are basically a BBQ-flavored chip with a slight aftertaste of a red-pepper saltiness. I’m a fan of the Kettle brand. If you have read my reviews, you know it’s the crunchy potato chip that is usually my favorite. I was surprised how much of a regular BBQ chip flavor that these had straight out of the bag. Maybe it’s the Korean spice that led me to believe there might be more heat. If you want something slightly different with your sandwiches or for a snack, these are a unique entry for the summer.

Rold Gold Selects: Pretzel Twists – Cool Ranch

This last of the three spring releases is the middle of the rankings. The best was the Garlic Parmesan, and the least best was the Dill Pickle. The Cool Ranch is just what you’d expect from a Pepsi product: it’s the Cool Ranch flavoring from the Doritos. It’s not ever going to match the brilliant mix that it has with corn chips, but on a pretzel twist it’s also addictive. I can’t eat much more than a bowl at a sitting, but these are also worth checking out.

Oreo Thins: Tiramisu

This spring, an Oreo flavor popular in Korea has made it to America. I am only slightly inclined to the Tiramisu flavor for desserts. The smell when you open the package is far too strong. It takes your breath away. It’s a vanilla and coffee type of combination that borders on unpleasant. The taste of the creme is also relatively strong. If you are a fan of Tiramisu, maybe these are for you. I’m going to struggle to find a way to finish this box.

“I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world” – Taupin / John

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Search & Filter