From the Couch Hole: There’s a New Sun Arisin’

Previously on FTCH, the heat was on Indiana Jones and we were holdin’ onto yesterday. We said what we would do for love and it didn’t involve Cookie Rojas or cookie dough ice cream. Unfortunately, it was more down to the bone. This week felt more like we’ve already entered August in the work world. This afternoon I look forward to lunch with my friend since 7th grade, Heather, as she rolls through Dallas with her boyfriend. This week the Pickwick Papers tell the story of the return of the Killer’s Hook. The biggest part of me loves froot loops, chocolate Twinkies, and says, “Thank you for smoking.” Remember, with FTCH your mileage may vary.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“What was over couldn’t be begun, and what couldn’t be cured must be endured.”
  • Charles Dickens – The Pickwick Papers (1836) (Chapman & Hall): “When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.” Dickens was only 24 when he wrote his first book (serialized), the story of proper Englishman adventurer, Mr. Pickwick; his cockney servant, Sam Weller; and his clueless confidantes, Tupman, Winkle, Jingle, and Snodgrass. I’ve previously read two books by Dickens and neither prepared me for how funny and charming I would find this book. It’s long, really long at over 800 pages but probably read much better as serialized adventures. I was amused at the satire of travel and everyday life that still ring true almost 200 years later. The serialized nature and the travels of the characters allows for lots of variety, and as it was written over multiple years, Dickens was able to take into account reactions to the story and make a point to shock the reader with some of the twists. Of my recent reads of books from the middle portion of the 1800s, this has to be the biggest surprise. The style is accessible and the characters feel very relatable.
  • Nancy Drew – “The Return of the Killer’s Hook” (S.4 E.4) (CW) (2023): “Filming on this movie is postponed until further notice.” – Chief Lovett. The series gets back to a single-episode mystery. They are good palate cleansers to the more intense ongoing stories. An old friend of Nancy’s is in town directing a remake of Longhook, the most famous film ever filmed in Horseshoe Bay. The set is cursed and Bess almost becomes a victim. The return of Lacey is nice because she’s a good Yin to Nancy’s Yang about the supernatural. The mystery ends up being a bit of a red herring in that the conclusion ties back into the ongoing stories. Fans have to enjoy seeing George and Nick together again because their breakup never felt like a forever breakup.
  • Ambrosia – “Biggest Part of Me” (1980) (from One Eighty): “Well, make a wish baby / And I will make it come true.” David Pack wrote this song in about the time it takes to sing it. This has to be Ambrosia’s biggest hit and their most known song today. I made that AM Radio / Yacht Rock list last week and the only reason it didn’t make the list was because I didn’t want to double-up artists. This song drops on the decline of the Yacht Rock wave but that’s not to say there weren’t some great moments. That sax hides behind the melody but when it hits I smile every time.
“You changed my life / You made it bright.”
  • Tully (2018) (Directed by Jason Reitman): “If I had a dream that didn’t come true, I could at least be pissed off at the world. Instead I’m just pissed off at myself.” – Marlo. Director Jason Reitman had come a long way in 11 years of feature films. His third teaming with writer Diablo Cody shows off that maturity. Their first film together, Juno (2007), covered pregnancy and the teenage experience. Tully (2018) is one of the more mature portrayals of later-life pregnancy and parenthood. Charlize Theron is amazing as the mother, Marlo. She put on 50 pounds for the film and isn’t afraid to not be “movie star glamorous”. The cast is an embarrassment of riches for Reitman with Mackenzie Davis as Tully, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass and more. The chemistry between Mackenie Davis and Theron is what really gives the film energy. It’s easy to see Davis as the younger version of Theron. The film shows once again that Reitman has a good eye for editing and is able to tell a powerful story in just over 90 minutes. Definitely worth your time.
  • Thank You For Smoking (2005) (Directed by Jason Reitman): “My job requires a certain… moral flexibility.” – Nick Naylor. Based on a well-reviewed Christopher Buckley book, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. The movie is a satire of more than just smoking culture (no one ever actually smokes a cigarette in the film); it’s about our culture where if you can make an argument, then there are “two sides”. This is Reitman’s first feature and he’s already collecting an amazing cast of actors including Sam Elliott, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, and quite a different role for Katie Holmes. The satire is clever and a little broad in places. I think that having a number of stars and probably filming them for only short periods of time leads to some shortcuts and pulling punches at times. I feel like his message would be more targeted at politics and prescription drugs if it was made today. The filmmaking skills are all there that he will get a chance to show off with even bigger stars in the next few years after this. In the end, it’s a good first effort. It wears the literary influence on its sleeve with great attention to set detail and it’s always a pleasure to see actors we love stretch out a bit in small but meaty roles (Macy and Elliott in particular).
“That’s the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.” – Nick

Best of the Rest

  • It’s hard not to continue to brag on the Apple iPhone ads. This way to tout the battery length of their iPhone 14 by showing the farmer driving his tractor two miles per hour down the road is a pretty clever setup and execution.
“Two miles an hour so everybody sees you”
  • The reach of Yacht Rock is strong in 2023, It’s been over 20 years since this Soft Rock ruled the airwaves, sharing space with Disco on most charts. The acapella group Straight No Chaser has released an album of Yacht Rock covers this year. Their cover of “Biggest Part of Me” changes the tone without that smooth jazzy bass. The choral background gives it a Gospel tinge, which actually fits the lyrics if seen as a higher being bringing love down to the singer.
“She’s the light that breathes in me.”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 2/3/2008, the basketball season was half over and Christian’s team of 3-2 so far. I was preparing for chicken strips, nachos, and beer for the Superbowl with a halftime show by Tom Petty. On that same night is a new show just getting some good reviews called Breaking Bad (AMC). My #74 Favorite Film of All-Time was Sunrise (1927) by director F.W. Murnau. I had recently watched it for the first time and that might be why it made the Top 100. Upon reflection, it’s probably not in my Top 100 anymore but it’s certainly a Silent Film that is worth a watch for anyone who doesn’t imagine that Silent Films can be as creative and artistic as sound films. I am going to come clean here with an embarrassing list that I made.
    • Shawn’s Favorite Beers in 2023
      • 1. Luponic Distortion (series) (Firestone Walker): This series seems to have been discontinued but there wasn’t a bad release in the 17 or so versions that came out. Makes me wish I had hoarded some of the early releases.
      • 2. Stone Enjoy By (series) (Stone Brewing): This series comes out 3-4 times a year and it is consistently still the best Double IPA with each release.
      • 3. DDH IPA (series) (TUPPS Brewery): Another series of IPAs that continues to impress with different combinations of hops with each release.
      • 4. Velvet Hammer (Peticolas): A nice strong Red Ale that shows up at enough local taverns to stay on my mind.
      • 5. Mosaic IPA (Community): A very acquired taste. This is for experienced IPA lovers only. It’s that skunky hoppy taste that people who don’t like IPAs say that they all taste like.
      • 6. Juice Pack (TUPPS Brewery): A Pale Ale that never disappoints.
      • 7. Temptress (series) (Lakewood Brewing): There simply isn’t a better series of Stouts out there. Don’t even @ me about your favorites because this series is above whatever else has been poured in a glass for me.
      • 8. Hopslam Ale (Bell’s): I don’t know if this is still being brewed but when it was out this 10.0% ABV was a perfect sipping beer and had some incredible flavors.
      • 9. Sculpin (series) (Ballast Point): To this day I won’t turn down a Grapefruit Sculpin and for a long time it resided at the top of my list. The Pineapple was a decent entry also.
      • 10. Oberon (Bell’s): It’s officially summer when you pop open your first Oberon of the year. That’s the tradition. Don’t mess with it.
  • Let’s be clear that this 2008 list was seven years before I did my 2015 Project of 500 Beers when I really expanded my knowledge of the different styles and the micro-breweries. Here’s what I was suffering through (unbeknownest to me back then) in 2008.
    • Shawn’s Favorite Beers of 2008
      • 1. Third Coast Ale (Bell’s): At least I had some taste back then. This is still a pretty good beer.
      • 2. Molson Golden Ale: This is a leftover from all the nights at The Harrison Pub in East Lansing.
      • 3. Dos Equis Amber: Not sure I’d even order one now. I don’t even remember liking it then.
      • 4. Guiness: The Irish Dry Stout has a decent flavor and I would order it on draft still.
      • 5. Foster’s Lager: Been eight years since I could stomach one of these cans.
      • 6. Corona: Who was this guy?
      • 7. Modela Negra: Not terrible but I wouldn’t go out of my way for one.
      • 8. Beck’s: I liked a Pilsner???
      • 9. Amber Ale (Bell’s): It’s not as good as I used to think.
      • 10. Boston Lager (Samuel Adams): For years I probably had this in my fridge more than any other beer.
  • There was a clear evolution. By some point about 2010-2011, my favorites would have been Shiner Bock, Blue Moon, Samuel Adams’ Octoberfest, and sometimes a local Texas brewery ale. By the end of 2015, my tastes resemble what I still drink today.

1973 in Review

The Thunder God breaks free!
  • July – Thor #213 (Marvel): Art by John Buscema. Written by Gerry Conway and Len Wein.
  • July 20 – Bruce Lee dies of what was likely an allergic reaction to a painkiller. The release of Enter the Dragon is just one month away.
  • July 1973 – Ebony magazine and Geoffrey Cambridge bring on the Kool-Aid smile.
Geoffrey Cambridge

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Mountain Dew: Baja Caribbean Splash

The guava-flavored release has a nice light summer flavor. What’s more remarkable is that there really isn’t an equivalent previous release to compare it to. Mountain Dew has explored most of the citrus fruits with success. I wouldn’t have picked guava out as a winner but with a bag of chips or a BLT sandwich and we are good to go.

Twinkies: Chocolate Lovers

Chocolate on chocolate would seem like a great idea. In practice, the cake is more like a Hostess Cupcake not a Twinkie cake and the filling is not nearly as filling as it looks in the pictures. As I’ve said, Hostess can keep combining and recombining their fillings and their cakes and other than the shape, not much changes. There’s nothing to set these apart from the crowd.

Froot Loops: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

I’m filled with confusion over this release. It is a tie-in to a movie released 50 years ago, not the new version coming out later this year. And then you read that Willy Wonka owns a Chocolate Factory but the cereal turns the milk “berry-licious”. The snozberries don’t even taste like snozberries. The milk was slightly fruity but I didn’t taste much to suggest Willy Wonka flavors.

“Need your lovin’ here beside me
(Shine the light) Need it close enough to guide me
(All my life) I’ve been hoppin’ you would find me” – Ambrosia

Stay Hard.  

Shawn Bourdo

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