From the Couch Hole: Pulling the Puzzles Apart

Previously on FTCH, Holly was one of the warriors with poems, prayers, and promises. The Muppets were long riders on their way to get the cheesy pizza Chex. This week was a return to a full week of work and I started coaching 1st-2nd grade basketball (more on that later). The week Napoleon, the scientist, meets the boogeyman. The Muppet family encounters duellists and it’s a coldplay for the cherry cordial ice cream. Remember, move over bacon, FTCH is something leaner.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“I am destined for greatness, but those in power only see me as a sword”. – Napoleon
  • Napoleon (2023) (Directed by Ridley Scott): “Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide” – Napoleon. I watched Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927) in 1983 and I’m currently halfway through reading War and Peace (1867), so I can probably call myself a Napoleon enthusiast. You just can’t cast Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and expect to have a “normal” biopic. Its a movie about history that’s historically inaccurate. It’s the story of one of the most revered leaders of France without showing us why people would follow him. It’s an epic overview of European history of the early 19th Century without bothering to go into the political details of the day. This film tries to cover lots of ground. It glosses over some of the most important events in European history in the last 500 years. The battle scenes are amazing but they are missing context. This could have been four films. By the time we get to Waterloo, we know it’s going to be his Waterloo because he invented the term, and we just don’t understand the tragedy of it because we haven’t been prepared. I know there’s an extra hour when it hits home media, but I don’t know if that will be enough.
  • Muppets – A Muppet Family Christmas (SPECIAL) (ABC) (1987): “Careful of the icy patch!” It’s this running joke about the icy patch that endears the Muppets to me. Fozzie and the Muppet gang head to his mother’s farmhouse to surprise her for Christmas. She was planning on heading to Malibu for the holidays and renting the house to Doc and Sprocket from Fraggle Rock. They are later joined by other Fraggles, Muppet Babies (on film), and Sesame Street characters. This is one of the best specials that no one talks about. Henson always manages to balance some great jokes, self-deprecating humor, and some heartwarming touches (especially the care everyone shows for Kermit as he’s worried about Miss Piggy lost in the storm). The love that these characters show each other is great all year around, but it’s especially touching when it comes to the holidays. Fozzie’s mother nails it, “They’re weirdos. But they’re nice weirdos.” Happy Holidays. May your every wish come true.
  • Willie Nelson – “The Scientist” (2012) (from Heroes): “Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be so hard.” There is Johnny Cash covering “Hurt” and then there’s this Willie Nelson cover of the Coldplay. There’s something about the older and wiser voice looking back on life that hits the emotional beat better than the more youthful voice. I understand that the cover is from a Chipotle short film about ethical farming procedures. In Willie’s voice, it’s about a life where you’ve lost your way concentrating on something unimportant and want to rediscover an emotional connection to someone. This is a strong version of the song.
“Tell me you love me / Come back and haunt me.” – Coldplay
  • The Duellists (1977) (Directed by Ridley Scott): “General Feraud has made occasional attempts to kill me. That does not give him the right to claim my acquaintance.” – Armand D’Hubert. Gabriel Feraud (Harvey Keitel) challenges Armand D’Hubert (Keith Carradine) to a duel over a perceived slight on a day that Feraud has already killed a man in a duel. Starting in 1801 and lasting for 15 years, the two will duel in an increasingly serious selection of weapons as their paths continue to cross as members of the French army under Napoleon. While Ridley Scott’s Napoleon (2023) tells the story of the era from a macro point of view, this film illustrates many of the same points from a very personal point of view. Based upon a story by Joseph Conrad, the film addresses elements of loyalty, bravery, and masculinity. In that way, it doesn’t feel too removed from the Westerns of John Ford. It allows the hotheaded Harvey Keitel character to represent Napoleon and his passion for the fight, and Keith Carradine symbolizes the average French citizen of the era. It’s a brilliant and too often forgotten masterpiece that will soon be overshadowed by Ridley’s Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982).
  • The Boogeyman (2023) (Directed by Rob Savage): Will Harper (Chris Messina) is a respected psychologist. He recently lost his wife and his daughters, Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) are feeling ignored and having trouble returning to their previous lives. A patient shows up out of the blue at their house and commits suicide, leaving behind a boogeyman that had haunted him and his family. The phrase “From the mind of Stephen King” is loose at best. The short story of the same name from 1973 has the same title and a boogeyman but from there you’d be hard pressed to find any common elements. The film draws from many horror tropes. It’s a poltergeist story mixed with a haunted house story and there’s a little Slenderman thrown in for good measure. The few time the cast is allowed to ruminate on their losses, it’s a decent tale of parental guilt at not paying enough attention to their children. In reality, there’s just not enough new ground covered. The film plays out more like a director challenging how much of a boogeyman he can show in a PG-13 film.

Best of the Rest

  • I should probably include the original version by Coldplay for comparison. What haunts me almost as much as the Willie Nelson version is this duet by Boyce Avenue with Hannah Trigwell. The song works well as a duet surprisingly.
“Take me back to the start”
  • It isn’t just Amazon, John Lewis, and Apple that can make Christmas ads that tug at the heartstrings. This little bar, Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen (Northern Ireland), gives any high budget commercial a run for their money. Probably shot on iPhone but that is more endearing in this case. Even the John Lewis folks appreciated the thematic tribute and sent the pub some gifts.
“There are no strangers here. Only friends you haven’t met.” – Yeats
  • The song from that ad above has haunted me since I first saw the commercial. It’s by Birdy and called “People Help the People”. It might be from 2011, but it’s a great call out in 2023 to help those who need your help.
“No one needs to be alone”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 6/22/2008, it was a rather uneventful but hot week. I was in that weird in-between times where there weren’t many youth sports going on. My #93 Favorite Movie of All-Time was Platoon (1986). I’m not saying this is a bad film, but it’s not a Top 100 film for me and I’m surprised it was at that time. It’s likely only the third or fourth best Oliver Stone film. Wimbledon was coming up this week, and I said you should watch Roger Federer before he retires (in 15 years, I guess). Shows like I Love The New Millenium (VH1) and Wipeout (ABC) were filling the television schedule. I did a ranking that I thought would become more important as time went on, but revisiting it today, I’m amused at how time gives me perspective.
      • 10. “Green Eyes”
      • 9. “2000 Miles” (cover of The Pretenders song)
      • 8. “The Scientist”
      • 7. “In My Place”
      • 6. “Speed of Sound”
      • 5. “Fix You”
      • 4. “Yellow (The Alpha Remix)”
      • 3. “See You Soon”
      • 2. “Clocks”
      • 1. “Don’t Panic”
      • 10. “Warning Sign” (A Rush Of Blood To The Head) (2002): Not a single, this song hits all the lyrics/music combinations that appeal to me about this group.
      • 9. “The Hardest Part” (X&Y) (2005): I might harp on their U2 influences but this song is the best tribute to their love of R.E.M.
      • 8. “Charlie Brown” (Mylo Xyloto) (2011): Not a cover of any of my favorite Peanuts-related songs. It’s got a great dance beat from their dance music phase.
      • 7. “Speed Of Sound” (X&Y) (2005): Maybe musically their most complete song. I love the guitars and synth sound on this one.
      • 6. “Viva La Vida” (Viva La Vida) (2008): This collaboration with Brian Eno was a big hit but that doesn’t stop it from being a toe tapper.
      • 5. “Fix You” (X&Y) (2005): This almost dropped off the list because it’s been used in every single hospital drama that’s hit television since 2005. The piano is an example of less is more, and it can wreck your day if you are in a more down mood.
      • 4. “Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix)” (Ghost Stories) (2014): Coldplay has a Radiohead edge to them in this era and the original version of this song has that feel to me. I love the way the remix gives it a retro sound and highlights the beat that makes it so lovely.
      • 3. “Yellow (The Alpha Remix)” (Parachutes) (2000): This remix adds a bit of soul to the song that was needed.
      • 2. “Don’t Panic” (Parachutes) (2000): This song benefits from being featured in Garden State (2004). This is one of the great angsty songs of the early-2000’s. It’s the song that led me to believe this group would have staying power.
      • 1. “Clocks” (A Rush Of Blood To The Head) (2002): The piano on this song is my favorite of their releases. The song has had a lasting impact on usage in movies. This might be the band at their most U2. It also addresses my favorite topic: Home.
    • The group initially hit me in 2000 as in the “sad guys making music” genre. Subsequent releases showed a much more nuanced sound with varied interests in multiple musical styles. I made the bold statement by 2008 that Coldplay would be the Millennial generation’s U2. Turns out that U2 is the Millennial and Gen Z generation’s U2 still. Coldplay isn’t one of those groups that I seek out, they don’t make my Spotify lists, but I enjoy there songs when they cross my path. I’ll be interested if they have any cache as the Millennial generation gets into their Forties.
“You know I love you so.”

1973 in Review

“Let no man write my epitaph!”
  • December – Worlds Finest #220 (DC Comics): Cover by Nick Cardy. Bob Haney writes a Batman/Superman story and a Metamorpho story.
  • December 4 – Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) are crowned UPI and AP National Champions in college football. The championship was crowned before the Bowl season. Alabama would lose in the Sugar Bowl to #4 Notre Dame (11-0).
  • December 22 – Morning news shows are becoming a big thing. ABC is trying to get their own up and running with A.M. America (ABC) with hosts Bill Beutel, Stephanie Edwards, and news by Peter Jennings. Ten months later, it would morph into Good Morning, America (ABC) hosted by David Hartman.
Merry Christmas.

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Pringles: Chili Cheese Fries

Not to be confused with the older Chili Cheese Pringles. These have fries flavor added to them. I guess. It’s a bit of a mess. I get a faint taste of beef stew but none of the flavors of Chili or Cheese or Fries. These just aren’t very good for a flavor that should be top notch.

Little Debbie: Cherry Cordials Ice Cream

I’ve never had the Cherry Cordials snack cakes. I don’t even have a vision in my head of what the packaging looks like. This is a cherry-flavored vanilla base with cookie pieces, chocolate flakes, and a cherry ribbon. It’s a pretty safe set of ingredients. I liked it but wasn’t so impressed that I’d get it again. These Little Debbie ice creams have proven to be decent but not always related to the actual cake product. This ice cream does go well with an almond cake.

Cheetos Pretzels: Flamin’ Hot

I’m not going to claim that there’s any significant difference between the Flamin’ Hot and the Cheddar version that I tried recently. A little more garlic and maybe a tad more hot. Unlike the actual Cheetos, there isn’t much “flamin'” happening here. Maybe Cheetos Pretzels: Moderately Spicy didn’t have the same ring.

“I had to find you
And tell you I need you
And tell you I set you apart” – Coldplay

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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