Pop Culture Ephemera
- Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002) (Directed by Robert Iscove): “And fire and ice within me fight / Beneath the suffocating night.” – John Rainbird. Ten years after the original film, Charlie (Marguerite Moreau) is still dealing with the secrets of her powers. John Rainbird has changed from George C. Scott into Malcolm McDowell. He is still searching for Charlie to exact his revenge/obsession while training a cadre of children with powers (think evil, young X-Men). These children could have made a great addition to the franchise if the casting wasn’t so horrible that they stop the film with every line. Charlie is joined by James Richardson (Dennis Hopper) who replaces her father as someone also associated with the original experiments. This two part mini-series originally aired on the Sci-Fi Network. There’s some value in revisiting Stephen King’s child characters as adults. The best example being Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep. I’ve long championed this book as one deserving a longer deeper dive (not the 2022 remake). The dialog here is mostly terrible but the expansion of the science fiction ideas behind the plot are interesting. The plot has too many stops and starts to succeed. It’s not all bad and I’d like to see a future program that details more of The Shop and their creations (which ties in nicely to the plot of The Institute). You’ll notice that the one consistency is the flame background and flowing hair in both movies and this mini-series poster.
- Star Trek – “Metamorphosis” (S.2 E.9) (NBC) (1967): “Your highly emotional reaction is illogical.” – Spock. Aired three days before my birth. Kirk, Spock, and Bones are pulled towards a planet while taking Nancy (Elinor Donahue) back to the Enterprise in their shuttle. They find Cochrane (inventor of warp drive) and something called The Companion. The episode is one of the best love stories of the series. But it suffers from what many of these episodes do, the inability to fully develop the female-of-the-week. The episode brings up some really interesting ideas about inter-species love, loneliness, and aging. Much of it is in symbolic code to avoid the censors of the day. The episode points out the “need” to gender aliens for us to identify with them. That’s an interesting philosophical point but in their day, it was important for the show to make so many of these aliens that are involved in love stories to be female.
- Tears for Fears – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (1985) (from Songs From the Big Chair): “We will find you / Acting on your best behavior.” – Tears for Fears. You’re just lucky that at some point I didn’t turn this blog into a weekly Tears for Fear appreciation newsletter. This runaway hit was #1 in the United States in that all important Summer of 1985. The title comes from The Clash song “Charlie Don’t Surf” but it diverges from that song’s themes pretty quickly. The music video itself is a mess of images from California in the mid-’80s that don’t appear to tell any kind of coherent story. The lyrics, while mired in that Cold War theme of that need for control, still feel current. The musical structure is different from the rest of the album. Listen to “Shout” or “Head Over Heels” to get a better idea of what most of their music sounded like. But from a nostalgia point of view, this song represents the very middle point of the middle year of the Eighties for many people and you see it showing up in shows and films as shorthand for “this is set in Generic Mid-80s”.
- The Crown – “Lisbon” (S.2 E.3) (Netflix) (2017): “To our wives and sweethearts.” (Mike Parker) / “May they never meet.” (Prince Philip). I’m probably not alone in starting this series up again in the wake of current events. I had watched the first season years ago without love or malice towards it but general indifference. The casting of Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Prince Philip (Matt Smith) cover lots of historical inaccuracies. The behind the scenes conversations between the two are tense as they try to avoid scandal. It’s also these personal moments that make the series more than the Royal excesses. The lesson here that the Queen is willing to accept her brief unhappiness knowing that there could be much worse unhappiness that would make this seem like happy times. What other show can have a ten-minute scene discussing marriage? I’m buoyed enough to at least finish this season.
- Mid90s (2018) (Directed by Jonah Hill): “A lot of the time we feel like our lives are the worst. But I think if you looked in anybody else’s closet you wouldn’t trade your shit for their shit.” – Ray. Although made in 2018, Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is a great exploration of that period of the 1990s right on the cusp of ever-present internet. The issues of Big Brother and The Source, along with the Discman, the mix of Punk and Hip Hop CDs, and the skate culture clothing are easily identifiable for the time period. But there’s something else in the way the characters talk and interact with each other that feels nostalgic for a time that is forever ago and also just yesterday. We follow middle-schooler Stevie (Sunny Suljic) as he escapes his abusive older brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges). He finds a new family in the skating subculture. That subculture feels accurately portrayed and more positive than it is in any other film. The film meanders around a plot of sorts but don’t expect nice and tidy conclusions. Like that part of the decade, the answers were rarely clear; you just survived and advanced. I really enjoy the cinematography and improvisational feel of the film. The young actors are likable too. The scene of Ray (Na-Kel Smith) and Stevie skating down the median of the road between traffic as the sun sets behind them is the most symbolic and beautiful of the film.
Best of the Rest
- If they are going to feature Tears for Fears in all of the Budweiser ads for the FIFA World Cup 2022, then sign me up.
- Do you have a favorite spatula? Do you hate searching for container lids? This ad for Heinz Ketchup in the style of a Disney musical isn’t groundbreaking but the animation is inspired and there are some giggles.
- I can’t get the tune out of my head. I was caught off guard by this cover by Lorde. For The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, this song stripped down to a slow dirge took on the dark elements of the struggle against the Capitol. It plays so well as a more upbeat tune that it takes a special voice like hers to pull this off.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 5/6/2007, I was getting prepared to finally see Spider-Man 3 despite some bad reviews (they were right). I was getting ready for a week of Buyback and Graduation and five nights of baseball games for the boys. All the network shows were coming to an end and my favorites are Heroes, Friday Night Lights, My Name Is Earl, The Office, and Prison Break. There was a special that I wanted to watch but didn’t have HBO at the time.
- Assume the Position with Robert Wuhl (HBO) (2006): Robert Wuhl is a college professor teaching some “stories behind the stories” of American History. It’s mostly stand-up comedy and partially documentary. It’s startling to see then-MSNBC anchor Tucker Carlson talking about history. The students laugh at every single line. It’s a bit annoying. But the subject matter is interesting and mostly true. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” – Maxwell Scott in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Mountain Dew: 2022 VooDew
The fourth VooDew release is the sixth Halloween season release going back to two Pitch Black releases. My thoughts after trying the Zero Sugar version were a bit muddled. As I predicted, the regular version convinced me that as rumored this is certainly in the Sour Patch family. Although I’m getting a bit of the Nerds candy taste too. It’s not an unpleasant taste at all and probably the best since the Pitch Black releases (don’t get me started on the Candy Corn year).
Count Chocula: KAWS Edition
The cereal is the cereal. It’s truly fall when I get my first taste of the Monster Cereals from General Mills. After years of catering their artwork to more animated/younger children styles, choosing underground artist, KAWS, is a nod to the geek culture that surrounds these cereals. The X eyes are the signature but that nose and the eyebrows are wonderful changes to the usual design. Props to General Mills.
Cheetos: Bolitas – Chile & Cheese
I guess that Cheese Balls aren’t the acceptable term anymore. But these are Cheetos Cheese Balls. More crunchy than a Puff but not as crunchy as the Crunchy. The chile and cheese combination isn’t as strong as they are in the Fritos brand. In fact, I got a hint of lime aftertaste that covered any heat they might have had. I think these would be good for dipping but not sure how to handle the ball shape for salsa.
“There’s a room where the light won’t find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do, I’ll be right behind you
So glad we’ve almost made it” – Tears for Fears
Thought Mid90s was outstanding. Captured moments in time better than most films, both the titular years as well as that time when a boy begins his transition into a man. Also thought Hill made some great directorial choices. If he has that ability, he needs to make another film ASAP.