From the Couch Hole: Stare into Space

Previously on FTCH, we had three cheeses in our chips and fruity cereal in our ice cream. It was stormy weather and we were taken as a space oddity. This week brought some more chaos at work, and I’m ready for the roller coaster to come to an end. Spring is upon us and days like Friday even bled over into a summer feel for tacos on the patio. This week we go to the Garden State but reality bites there even with the stardust from the meta moon. No worries because even with wicked lips you are a good person. Remember, with FTCH, only use as directed.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“Every memory I cherish has you in it.” – Nathan
  • A Good Person (2023) (Directed by Zach Braff): “For the model-train enthusiast, we lord over a world where the neighbors are always kind, the lovers always end up together.” – Daniel. Zach Braff wrote and directed this small film where Allison (Florence Pugh) finds herself addicted to opioids a year after a tragic accident. She ends up befriending her would-be-father-in-law, Daniel (Morgan Freeman) who is trying to raise is granddaughter, Ryna (Celeste O’Connor). Florence Pugh is not Natalie Portman, the Manic Pixie Girl of Braff’s Garden State. I can already predict the criticism of this film and it’s that Allison has every stereotype and trope of a drug addiction film. This film isn’t about saving someone as much as everyone needing to come to terms with something and more often than not, failing. Pugh and Freeman are both so strong and hold your attention in every scene. The toy train metaphor is my favorite of the film and wish it had more screen time. Pugh is an early favorite for award season for me.
  • The Righteous Gemstones – “Wicked Lips” (S.1 E.4) (HBO) (2019): “When I was a teen boy, I danced nude in one of the cages near the DJ. A dark chapter I’ve put behind me.” – Keefe. I love all the Danny McBride shows from HBO but this show really gets to another level this episode as we flesh out the supporting cast. Kelvin and Keefe are a great pair and I love their relationship. Amber (Cassidy Freeman) as Jesse’s wife surprised me with more depth than I thought they would show. I’m not telling you this is Better Call Saul-level writing but the improvements from Eastbound and Down to Vice Principals to this show is pretty impressive. It’s ridiculous in the most entertaining of ways.
  • Cary Brothers – “Stardust” (2022) (from Stardust): “You’re the only thing that matters / You’re the stardust.” Cary Brothers is what we used to call an “indie artist.” He comes out of the Nashville scene but has full alternative and emo influences. His biggest fan, Zach Braff, has used Cary’s music in his works since the early 2000’s. This song plays nicely against the themes of A Good Person. While all the characters are falling apart, the lyrics are positive and full of hope. This song almost makes me want to catch up with “current” music.
“Out in the blue / My favorite place / Lying with you.”
  • Garden State (2004) (Directed by Zach Braff): “I know it hurts. That’s life. If nothing else, It’s life. It’s real, and sometimes it fuckin’ hurts, but it’s sort of all we have.” – Sam. Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns home to New Jersey after his mother’s death. He meets old friends from high school and falls for Pixie Girl, Sam (Natalie Portman). Andrew and Sam, along with his friend Mark (Peter Sarsgaard), make their way through a town that is generically Every Town. Andrew is a lost soul who gets all kinds of advice from friends and strangers. But it’s Sam who gives him inspiration. I get the criticism that her character mostly serves to move Andrew out of his malaise. There’s a progression to her that is much more subtle as she experiences the journey with him. The natural extension of a mid-twenties character like Natalie Portman in 2004 is the vulnerable character of Allison in A Good Person (2023). Braff’s use of music is tops in this film, including The Graduate recall by using Simon and Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy In New York.” The history of movies is always finding a way to capture the world of people in their early twenties trying to figure out who they are.
“You don’t realize, this is good, this doesn’t happen often in your life.” – Sam
  • Reality Bites (1994) (Directed by Ben Stiller): “Hello, you’ve reached the winter of our discontent.” – Troy. This has been on my mind to watch again since reading The Nineties last year. It bubble up as a precursor to the troubled early twenties of Garden State and A Good Person. This story about recent college graduates in Houston, Lelaina (Winona Ryder), Vickie (Janeane Garofalo), Troy (Ethan Hawke), and Sammy (Steve Zahn), is often confused with Singles (1992) (including by me often). The story is less about Lelaina than the time allotted to her story. Watching it again, I see how the journey is that of Troy from slacker to adult with more direction and less idealism. Troy is the only one that didn’t graduate from college but he is the one reading books and knowing the answers to definitions like “irony”. Lelaina serves as his Manic Pixie but with a veneer of being the college Valedictorian. It’s funny to see the superficial and shallow portrayal that here people ascribed to Gen X. But it’s more universal than that as films about this age group often are about the superficial view of the world that recent college graduates adopt. The pop culture references put this squarely into the Gen X generation but if you can look past that, it’s the same blank generation looking to find their own road and not just do what they are told.
“Honey, all you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.” – Troy

Best of the Rest

  • “Star gazers and space cadets” I’m as excited about the new Wes Anderson film as I am about any other film on the summer-movie horizon. The poster and trailer dropped this week. The colors are so unmistakably Wes! It’s odd to see Tom Hanks playing Bill Murray in a Wes Anderson film but that’s what COVID did to us. I’m in the seats opening weekend. “I’m a widower but don’t tell my kids.”
“We’re not there, the car exploded.”
  • In case you need any other reasons to head out to the ballpark this summer, the Texas Rangers have added heartburn and clogged arteries to the menu. The 2-foot-long Boomstick hot dog has been joined by the 2-foot Boomstick Burger. About the size of a Little Leaguer’s baseball bat, the Boomstick Burger ($34.99) has a messy blend of burger, nacho cheese, chili, jalapenos, and onion rings. Be sure to add the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Pretzel ($8.99) and get a triple helping of napkins.
  • Police find a dead 23-year-old man. That’s sad. Police find a 3-year-old still alive in a high chair near the man. Whew. That’s sad too. Wait. Police find 200 reptiles, including 60 venomous snakes with a cobra and black mambas. What the hell? I gather they were going to sell these reptiles but you don’t run your house like a McDonald’s Playland for them. This was in Missouri, not even Australia like most of these stories.

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 10/21/2007, my grandmother was out to visit and we were all going to the Arboretum that afternoon. My #45 favorite film of all-time was Dazed and Confused (1993). I apologized that I was probably ranking this film too high because of the timing of this in my life. A year before Reality Bites, this film might be set in 1976, but it’s a perfect comedy of the slacker generation. Over the years since its release, I have moved this film even higher up my list because of the ongoing influence it has on teen films. It’s probably at #25-#30 film these days. I propped up Heroes, The Office, and the start of the last season of Scrubs. The was a short film on Friday that I was interested in.
    • Bloodsucking Cinema (2007) (STARZ): This Anchor Bay produced documentary plays much more like a strung together “Behind the Scenes” of vampire films than a history of vampire films. After short references to the history of vampires in films, there are short interviews with directors and special effects artists about more current films. I wanted to hear more from John Carpenter but you get more Greg Nicotero as you do on every Walking Dead behind the scenes. Lots of Harry Knowles (Ain’t It Cool News) puts you back in 2007. Lastly, hurray for John Landis giving love for his Innocent Blood (1992).

1973 in Review

  • April – John Romita draws the cover to Creem magazine.
  • April 4 – The World Trade Center opens in New York City including the two tallest buildings in the world.
  • April 1 – Doraemon anime debuts on Nippon TV in Japan.

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Prime: Meta Moon

More samples from the hydration-beverage aisle. I’m fascinated by the tremendous growth of the Prime brand mostly because of the coconut water. As a standalone beverage, coconut water has never gained much traction. Meta Moon was the only one of the Prime flavors I saw on the shelves that didn’t have a flavor name. I believe this was a pink liquid when first released and now a white liquid that tastes somewhere between Jolly Rancher hard candy and Skittles. It’s not unpleasant but I don’t imagine this is a meta as my taste buds expected.

Frosted Cheerios: Lemon

I was very skeptical of this purchase just on name alone. Cheerios rarely goes wrong with their flavors. I worried about some lemonade or lemon pie flavoring. Lemon isn’t unknown to the cereal world. There are hints of Lemon in Trix, Fruit Loops, and a bit in Fruity Pebbles. This ended up being much much better than I anticipated. It’s a very subtle citrus taste that isn’t overly sweet or sour. I would buy this again as a mixer with other Cheerios.

Little Debbie Swiss Rolls: Strawberry

The Little Debbie line has had Strawberry Shortcake Rolls for quite a long time, so I knew what to expect from the new Strawberry Swiss Rolls. I find the package design very appealing. This is the first new permanent addition to the Swiss Roll line since their debut in 1967. The combination of strawberry and chocolate is a classic and this is a worthy new product. Strawberry is the flavor of this year and expect to see even more strawberry coming through the year.

“Rest of the world
They’ll never know
This kind of love
As high as it goes” – Cary Brothers

Stay Hard.  

Shawn Bourdo

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