From the Couch Hole: Sat by the River and It Made Me Complete

Previously on FTCH, there was a zone of interest about the rise of the planet of the apes who said, “This is the day.” The Shogun responded that “Tomorrow is tomorrow in our dream scenario.” The week was relatively uneventful. We need more eclipses. May is going to be a busy month of visits and travels, so it feels good to spend a couple of weekends home with baseball, Aresenal matches, and my books. This week The Martian Chronicles somewhere only we know. There was a civil war at the dawn of the planet of the apes over hot honey mini pretzels. Remember, FTCH lasts a good long time!

Pop Culture Ephemera

“Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.”
  • Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles (1950) (Doubleday): “We earth men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.” This was one of the first science fiction books I read in my early teens. It’s not a novel or even a short story collection. As the title suggests, it is a “chronicle” that tells the story in macro and micro of the colonization of Mars. Told through a retrofitting of Bradbury short stories that shared similar themes with new connective tissue, it’s one of my favorite genres. The best example (and due for a reread soon) is Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919). This strikes me today as more fantasy as science and more philosophy than fiction. I love his writing style, and there’s no doubt of it having an influence on mine. The stories manage to cover our own inhumane treatment of Native Americans and Black Americans. They have even more to say about isolation and our connection to “home”. Even as we settle Mars, our future is informed by our past. It’s an easy read and one of the best introductions to Ray Bradbury that I can imagine.
Buy The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • The Martian Chronicles – “The Expeditions” (1980) (S.1 E.1) (NBC): “Us Earthmen have a talent for ruining things. If there are any Martians alive in those hills, they’re going to grow to hate us.” The early ’70s were the height of the Made-for-TV movie. The budgets grew to afford the more extensive productions called the Television Mini-Series. This format of adapting books mostly would last just past the turn of the century until the cable television and streaming services would develop the Limited Series that dominates today. This NBC adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel would last over three nights. The first night covered the first trips to Mars up until the eradication of the Martians from Chicken Pox and the start of our mass immigration to the planet (1976-2001). Adapted by Richard Matheson with assistance from Bradbury, Ray would end up distancing a bit from the final product. The episode, close to the events of the book, is mostly like three separate Twilight Zone stories. The cast of Rock Hudson, Darren McGavin, and Bernie Casey, among others wasn’t cheap. The special effects were. I can overlook the scientific errors in the same way I could in Doctor Who and Star Trek, but it’s hard to overlook most of the wooden acting. Even just a slightly better level of acting or special effects would have lived up to what is a pretty decent script. As it aired, I’m only able to recommend it to people who have read the book.
Buy Keane: Hopes and Fears CD
  • Keane – “Somewhere Only We Know” (2004) (from Hopes and Fears): “I’m getting old, and I need something to rely on.” I had to double check the info on this single because I thought for sure it was a 2000 or 2001 song. It occupies a mental space for me of that early 2000’s Alt Rock sound. I can hear a “David Bowie meets early Elton John” influence (especially noticeable on the role of the piano on this tune). I probably like it more now than I did in its original release. There might be an actual place that this is written about, but I love that idea of the connection you have with another person where this is a special place and time that connect you both.
“I’m getting tired, and I need somewhere to begin.” – Keane
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) (Directed by Matt Reeves): “I always think… ape better than human. I see now… how much like them we are.” – Caesar. Much like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), this sequel intersperses elements of the original series. The original series was a satire of human culture. This series is a more sweeping hero story with Caesar at the core. Caesar is our Paul Atreides leading his underdog tribe against their oppressors. The hero journey is complicated by a wife and children and a rebellion among the apes. Andy Serkis as Caesar is even more layered than the first film. The emotions are as good as any other mainstream film. There are moments that could be snipped out of an early Spielberg film. Unlike the first film that felt like a human film with apes, this is 100% an ape film with humans playing the supporting roles. It’s surprisingly much more entertaining than even the most non-ape fan might imagine.
  • Civil War (2024) (Directed by Alex Garland): “Once you start asking those questions you can’t stop. So we don’t ask. We record so other people ask.” – Lee. There have been plenty of great films about war journalists. I’m thinking about Salvador (1986) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) as good examples. Those were about watching the conflicts in other countries through the vision of Western journalists. This film turns the camera (literally) upon our own citizens. How long can you keep that journalistic distance when it is your own citizens being killed? It’s purposeful to make Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and Jessie (Cailee Spaeny) photojournalists instead of videographers. Filmmaking is itself a nod to their being a viewer, but adding the power of the still image within that message is important. The photograph is meant to be studied and not just viewed. The film is politically agnostic in a way that might disappoint people who assumed something different from the trailer. There is subtext within subtext within subtext through much of the film until Jesse Plemons arrives to send a message that there can also be surface evils. That kicks the film into the final act that is full of death and inevitable consequences of fascism. There’s also more of the symbolism of the viewer watching the journalists who are witnessing the violence. Is their only duty to show us what they are seeing? Or can there ever be someone who is guiltless for just witnessing? It’s a thought-provoking two hours.

Best of the Rest

  • There are songs that change with the different ways they are covered in different eras. Then there is a Lily Allen cover in the 2013 John Lewis Christmas Advert with a heartwarming/heartbreaking story of a rabbit and bear friendship. It’s just a different song. I can’t explain it. Listen and tell me that it isn’t.
“I knew the pathway like the back of my hand.”
  • The Lily Allen version is so powerful that it made another heartwarming ad in 2019 in Portugal for Samsung with a Lily-inspired cover by Renee Dominique.
“Where have you gone?”
  • Now I’ve gone down the 2013 rabbit hole of Christmas ads other than that brilliant John Lewis one. It was a really good year for nostalgia and family-based advertising. This Apple ad has been revamped slightly differently over the years to show that the misunderstood teen wasn’t just brooding but using the technology to create something for the family.

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 10/19/2008, the crazy terrible football season continued. The high school teams remained without a victory, Michigan lost terribly again, North Texas continued to lose, and the Cowboys lost the game and Romo for a long stretch. It was really incredible how it all came together. My #9 Favorite Movie of All-Time was Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). I was still having a hard time applying “A New Hope” to the film title. I knew this was going to be a Top Ten film and it’s almost always ranked around here for what it meant to my life. I can watch it for the 50th time today and it still makes me feel good. You can draw my love of science fiction back to this first viewing in May of 1977. I was excited about the seasons of Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles (Fox) and Fringe (Fox) (speaking of my love for science fiction). My list of the week reflected TV because there wasn’t true “streaming” at the time. It’s interesting to look back on it.
      • 10. Wonderfalls (FOX) (2004) : Never watched it, but it looked clever and interesting.
      • 9. Firefly (FOX) (2002/2003): I came to this late, but it deserved a better fate.
      • 8. Undeclared (FOX) (2001/2002): This suffered most from not being Freaks and Geeks.
      • 7. Battlestar Galactica (ABC) (1978/1979): One full season (24 episodes) just wasn’t enough. Broke my young heart.
      • 6. Square Pegs (CBS) (1982): Jami Gertz should have been a mega-star.
      • 5. Action (Fox) (1999): I really slept on this Jay Mohr show.
      • 4. Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (Fox) (1993): One season was not enough.
      • 3. American Gothic (CBS) (1995/1996) : This should be on Season Thirteen instead of cancelled after Season One.
      • 2. Invasion (ABC) (2005/2006): Did I ever fall in love with a show more quickly? That’s why the cancellation hurt so much.
      • 1. Freaks and Geeks (NBC) (1999): Like watching some home movies of my life, if it was played by more beautiful and funnier people.
      • 10. Police Squad! (ABC) (1982): Hard to imagine they could keep matching the gems of these six episodes, week after week. I would like to have seen at least a few more attempts.
      • 9. Firefly (FOX) (2002/2003): I still watch this over again every few years. It’s the launching point for an impressive number of careers.
      • 8. Watchmen (HBO) (2019): I was doubtful of the ability to make this series into a structured show. The changes worked well. I would like to have seen where they took future seasons.
      • 7. Breaking Away (ABC) (1980/1981): Just a year after the success of the film, this prequel of sorts combines actors from the film and Shaun Cassidy takes the lead. It suffered from lots of bad breaks including a Writer’s Strike, but it’s not bad at all.
      • 6. Undeclared (FOX) (2001/2002): Seth Rogen needed some help and this could have been a multi-season classic.
      • 5. Bakersfield P.D. (FOX) (1993/1994): This was a great quirky police comedy show that got cancelled for ratings that would make it a hit today. Brilliant work from Giancarlo Esposito and Ron Eldard.
      • 4. American Gothic (CBS) (1995/1996): I haven’t watched this since probably 2000, and I would be interested to see if it holds up to my memories. Shaun Cassidy created this and another show I loved but didn’t make my updated list, Invasion (ABC).
      • 3. My So-Called Life (ABC) (1994/1995): Claire Danes and Jared Leto mine the great source of so many television shows, the teenage years. This falls more into the drama side than some of the others of the era, but it holds up well as a slice of life of the ’90s.
      • 2. Freaks and Geeks (NBC) (1999): Talk about a launching pad for some incredible actors. This still holds up as the best example of the high school of my generation.
      • 1. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (ABC) (1974/1975): How did this not make my original list? Two made-for-TV movies and one season left behind a big cult following among people my age. It was a huge influence on me, and it was the show that gave Chris Carter the inspiration for The X-Files (FOX).
    • The 2008 list is definitely influenced by the lack of availability of these shows (except for the wonderful Trio channel umbrella of shows called “Brilliant But Cancelled”) and the lack of streaming. TV on DVD was just starting to become common. This leaves off some “short lived” shows that had multiple seasons like Twin Peaks (ABC/SHO), Arrested Development (Fox) and even Sports Night (ABC). I think we will still need another decade to really grasp which shows of today are “cancelled too soon” because the rescue rate is so high. Would you be surprised to not see more of Lovecraft Country (HBO)?
“This nut thinks he’s a vampire.”

1974 in Review

“This time it’s a fight to the finish!!”
  • April – Avengers #122 (Marvel): Cover by Rich Buckler and John Romita. Written by Steve Englehart. The Avengers battle the Zodiac Cartel.
  • April 14 – Gary Player of South Africa wins the Masters Tournament by two strokes over Tom Weiskopf and Dave Stockton.
  • April 22 – Time Vol. 103 No. 16: Alcohol consumption is up 26% as young people turn away from hard drugs towards alcohol. There’s a celebration of The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester) and the $3.5 million opening weekend.
New Victims, New Treatments

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Hostess Baseball Cupcakes

We are a few weeks into baseball season. I’ve watched at least part of all but one Texas Rangers game so far this season. That already qualifies for more than I watched all of the past five years combined, probably. These are the Day Game version with yellow cake and white creme. The squiggles don’t particularly give off a baseball vibe but I’ve always enjoyed the Hostess Cupcake even with that rubbery frosting on top. These were good during the three day games last week with the Detroit Tigers.

Utz: Mixed Minis – Mike’s Hot Honey

Hot Honey being the flavor of the year and Mike’s Hot Honey being the #1-selling Hot Honey, this team up made sense. Utz is a very underrated brand in your snack aisle. I like other flavors of the Mixed Minis and the Utz Hot Honey Potato Chips are really good. This mix doesn’t work as well as I had hoped. The coating made my hands too sticky for comfort. There was too much of the hot honey flavor compared to the subtle flavors on the potato chips. I still enjoyed the bag but I’ll stick to the other flavors for now.

Lay’s Salsa Fresca

Another sure sign of summer is the new bags of Lay’s hitting the shelves. Salsa Fresca is a nice break from versions of BLT chips. There’s some good fresh salsa flavor here without overwhelming heat. It’s easy to keep eating these for lunch. I like that the tomato flavor is right up front and that the onions and garlic are more subtle. These won’t be my best of the year by December, but it’s still a good bag of chips.

“And if you have a minute, why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So, why don’t we go?” – Keane

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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