From the Couch Hole: Sunshine in Our Eyes

Previously on FTCH, we talked about things we can’t explain like being John Malkovich and our blind spots. The week ahead is a short one with lots of reading, TV, and eating on the agenda. This week we dive into three King properties and share some sweet candy while we do. We encounter mushrooms and a monkey with a gun. Remember, like we say, things go better with FTCH.

Already in vacation mode.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.” – Stephen King
  • Stephen King – Joyland (2013) (Published by Hard Case Crime): “All I can say is what you already know: some days are treasure. Not many, but I think in almost every life there are a few.” This novel is portrayed on every level as a hard-boiled crime novel from the cover illustration to the description on the back. It reads as a hyrbrid of haunted carnival, coming-of-age (those two showing a real Ray Bradbury influence), and murder mystery story. The story is told by Devin Jones of the summer in 1973 when he worked at an amusement park in North Carolina. The ghost of a murdered girl hangs over the park in the Horror House where she was killed but it’s also the ghost of Devin’s past that he is writing down from current time. It’s an interesting combination of the recent books I have read. The outlook on the life of a young man and the amusement park pull from Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Then there’s young Mike and his mother Annie. Mike is the only real supernatural element of the story and we are led to believe that he has something equivalent to the shining that we see in Doctor Sleep. Annie’s father is right out of his next book that I’m currently reading, Revival. Not to mention the use of the term “rubes” that is used in both King books. Devin is a very likeable character who embraces with shortcomings and feels very genuine. The story is simple but never do you feel cheated.
  • Marvel’s Hit Monkey – “Bright Lights, Big City” (S.1 E.2) (2021): This new animated Marvel show on Hulu isn’t canon like the Disney+ shows and that allows a freedom with language and story that makes this new show work. It’s hard to describe the show in a way that makes sense. The first episode is strictly prequel that sets up the series. There’s an American assassin, Bryce (Jason Sudeikis), who comes across as a slightly more serious (emphasis on “slightly”) spy than Archer from the FXX animated series of the same name. A spoiler for the first 10% of the show: the show is the teaming of a Japanese snow monkey out for revenge with the ghost of Bryce in the seedy underworld of Tokyo. I enjoy the anime style artwork and you aren’t here for in-depth character development anyways. You are watching a show where a monkey uses a gun to violently kill bad guys. Other characters are voiced by George Takei, Olivia Munn and Ally Maki. This is entertaining enough for me to maybe check out the also out of canon show on Hulu, Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.
“Revenge Goes Primal”
  • Lindisfarne – “Together Forever” (1971) (from Fog on the Tyne): This English folk band from Newcastle is named after the Holy Island (aka Lindisfarne) located off the Northeast coast of England. We discount the folk movement these days because so many other genres from the era (Heavy Metal, Funk, Guitar Rock) have survived into today’s music. This album released in November 1971 became the eighth best-selling album in the U.K. in 1972. This is a deeper cut that I feel sums up the sound of the band. The title song “Fog On The Tyne” is probably the only one that anyone might have heard in passing over the years. And I love the sentiment of these lyrics as a celebration of sitting around and observing the world with someone you love.
  • 11/12/63 – “The Kill Floor” (S.1 E.2) (2016): “A price must be paid.” This episode far outweighs the premiere. The book isn’t really about saving Kennedy, that’s just the impetus of the time travel. The theme is about time and history. Time takes a long time to pass and things happen on your way to your goal. So many books would have him land in 1960 and then magically end up in 1963 ready to save the President. But the beauty of the book is the way it meanders in and out of that story and that real life takes over for Jake Epping (James Franco). This episode focuses on the story of Harry Dunning and his family based upon a story that Jake reads from Harry in the future. Frank Dunning (Josh Duhamel) makes an excellent bad guy. The slaughterhouse scene (not in the book) is an example of capturing the character in a show in a way that accomplishes what interior monologue does in the book. There are real consequences here. This isn’t simply an episode of Quantum Leap where he gets to leave the scene once things are solved. Jake has a journey and this stop is important for us as viewers to understand that the stakes are life and death.
  • Big Driver (2014) (Starring Maria Bello): Adapted from the Stephen King novella by the same name from Full Dark, No Stars, the story is about author Tess Thorne (Maria Bello). who is a writer of mystery novels starring a knitting club that solves crimes. In short, Tess is raped on her way home from a book signing and decides to take the lawn into her own hands. The setup is done well but the logic runs a bit off the rails as she seeks her revenge. This is a Lifetime movie production, so the violence is held to a minimum to the benefit of the final product. There’s a good supporting cast including Olympia Dukakis (as a knitting society ghost) and Joan Jett as a bar owner. If you remember my review of the novella a couple months ago, it was quite the same. The shock of the rape at the beginning was hard to overcome as we had to fall into detective mode and then quickly turn into revenge mode. The movie follows the written work very closely (even more than A Perfect Marriage which was a close adaptation from the same book). It’s hard to recommend that you go out of your way to track down this film but if it comes your way, it’s an easy way to spend 88 minutes.

Best of the Rest

  • I’ve always loved the Snoopy the Author strips as much as any other character he plays. His novel does start to come together over the years but the first line of “It was a dark and stormy night” is such a cliche that I wondered the source of the quote. Turns out that it is most often credited to Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford. I would have guessed more of a Charles Dickens-era novel setting of London on a bad-weather evening. The book seems to be a social commentary on the penal system of the time (another reason maybe I’d associate it with Dickens). But as early as 1665, poet Edward Herbert used the line “Our life is but a dark and stormy night.” This article from MentalFloss goes into much great detail of the history of Bulwer-Lytton’s works and usage of the phrase.
  • I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about mushroom culture as many that I follow. The one thing I have in common is the love of seeing their photos of these interesting plants. I was impressed this week coming across some beautiful pictures drawn by botanist and historian of Haiti (known in his time as Saint-Domingue), Michel Etienne Descourtilz. His illustrations of mushrooms are works of art in themselves and you can find out more about him in this OpenCulture article.
Illustration by Michel Etienne Descourtilz.
  • “This is why we do what we do”. A little more cheesy than last week’s ad but I love the simple sentiment that this is a time of year to come together. Meijer doesn’t make many of my top ten lists but this was a solid effort from 2015.

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 7/2/2006, I was prepping for a 4th of July the upcoming week. There wasn’t much to be seen on TV and I didn’t have time then to make a list. The most interesting comment was that of all the shows I wasn’t watching at the time including The Sopranos and Deadwood. The show I thought had the most promise was one called The 4400 airing on USA Networks. By the time I wrote that, the show was two seasons done with what would be a four-season run. I decided to sample the start of The 4400 instead of starting the other two shows that I still haven’t watched. The first couple episodes feel very 2004 television. We liked people disappearing, alien conspiracies, and musical interludes towards the end of each episode. The concept is solid. From the 1940s forward, 4400 people disappeared and then in 2004 showed up out of nowhere all together and not having aged a day since they disappeared. What seems more science fiction / fantasy in description appears to be more drama based with elements of horror and science fiction mixed throughout. I don’t have much of a handle on it through the extended “Pilot” (three parts) but I’m willing to see how this plays out. Lead agents Tom and Diana (Joel Gretsch and Jacqueline McKenzie) aren’t exactly Mulder and Scully.

Flash From The Past

“The little car that can.”

What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?

Northern Butterscotch Root Beer

This Twin Cities-based company produces some good products but this doesn’t happen to be one of those. They make a great root beer and butterscotch is an interesting flavor. Unfortunately, they don’t mix well together. It’s not a strong root beer flavor. And the butterscotch overwhelms it. So it’s more like a butterscotch cream soda. Not really one that I would pursue or even know how to make it better than maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Stone/Deschutes – Let’s Bee Homies

What do you do when two of your favorite breweries team up to make one of your favorite styles of beer? Yep. Bought the six-pack. Deschutes brings the blackberry honey from Oregon and Stone shows up with orange blossom honey from California. Mix in about five different hops and the result is one of the best IPA releases of 2021. The smooth smell itself is worth the pour. The taste is a great blend where you can taste each of the flavors in the mix and yet neither dominates the other. This would be incredible with some of my Fries Project offerings.

Twix Salted Caramel & Snickers Cinnamon Bun

Summer is the time for new salty snacks and sodas. The holidays are owned by candy. Making a Salted Caramel Twix isn’t venturing too far off the straight and narrow for Twix folks. My initial taste didn’t give me much flavor behind a normal Twix. The salted caramel is very subtle. The Twix is a good bar anyways but it’s a hard sell to think this is too different except a slight salty aftertaste. The Snickers is also not too far from the normal issue. The bar tastes very familiar until you get to the nougat which has a distinctly cinnamon bun flavor. The cinnamon is relatively heavy compared to the salted caramel of the Twix. This definitely is a different bar and tastes like a sweet fall treat.

“You and me by the side of the road
In the morning feeling bright
Oh, looks like we’re sticking together
Ah, looks like lasting forever” – Lindisfarne

Stay Hard.  

Shawn Bourdo

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