Pop Culture Ephemera
- Dan Slott – Spider-Man: Spider-Island (2012) (Marvel): “Normal people are getting Spider-Powers! But not all of them realize that with great power must also come…you know the rest.” I enjoy Spider-Man. I watch the films and television shows as I can but my comic book reading of Spidey stories has been limited in the past 20 years. This story caught my attention as one I might be able to slip into without knowing much of the continuity. I was only partially correct. The Spider-Man of this timeline seems to be in two Avengers groups and involved with the Fantastic Four. Pretty quickly into the story, there’s something turning many of the inhabitants of New York City into their own versions of Spider-Man. I really enjoy Humberto Ramos’ art here but the sheer number of characters and New York scenes make the story feel very busy. I was excited to read updates to the Flash Thompson/Venom backstory and J. Jonah Jameson takes on a different spin. But it ended up being too many of the ancillary characters to save the day for it to be a Spider-Man story. Fun but I’m sticking with the films for now.
- The Twilight Zone – “Where Is Everybody?” (S.1 E.1) (CBS) (1959): “The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey.” – Rod Serling. Maybe a dozen years since I did anything but watch random episodes as they occurred on television. The series starts on a high note. A man walks into the town of Oakwood with no memory of who he is or where he is but the town is empty. There are so many intriguing little moments in the 30 minutes. It is beautifully shot with perfect use of score. The science fiction elements of the man losing his mind in isolation are more science fact. The show will improve over the next few seasons but all of the elements that will make this one of my favorite shows ever are present here.
- Jenny Slate – “Linger” (2022) (from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On): “Mmm-mmm, and come September / Mmm-mmm, I will remember.” The summer is coming to an end and I’m starting to look towards fall. This song is one traditionally sung at the end of Camp at the end of the summer. It’s about celebrating the love and friendship of the summer and knowing that it will last until the fall. And we linger just a little on all the positives in our lives.
- Hereditary (2018) (Directed by Ari Aster): “You know, Annie, you can always build a shrine to all the terrible things in the world, but it doesn’t mean that you have to destroy anything that is good.” – Steve. In a perfect world, I would have watched this before Midsommar. In the span of 10 days, Ari Aster has become one of my favorite directors currently working. The arc is like that of Midsommar in that the film starts with some disturbing scenes, there are scenes with a constant sense of dread, and then the film goes full throttle and ends with full chaos and some serious questions as to what the hell you just saw. I can see where this fits more into the traditional horror genre but still gets off course for viewers expecting the usual genre tropes. The Graham family is perfectly cast. Toni Collette plays Annie, the mother, and Gabriel Byrne plays Steve, the father. Alex Wolff as Peter, the older brother, and Milly Shapiro as Charlie, the younger sister are more than just props to further the story. The influences of Amityville Horror and The Exorcist are there in more subtle ways. The ties to Rosemary’s Baby are what tie this and Midsommar together. This could be an early Seventies film in many ways and plays like an early independent film of that age. I can’t wait to see what Aster comes out with next.
- Rifftrax Live!: The Return of Swamp Thing (1989/2022) (Directed by Jim Wynorski): “Immortality? Yuk! What did you do, sell your soul to the devil? (Abby Arcane) More like a lease with an option to buy. (Dr. Anton Arcane)”. The only Rifftrax Live! release of the year was well worth the wait. Kevin, Bill, and Mike are back celebrating the 16th Anniversary of Rifftrax. The 1989 return of Swampie is not exactly what Bernie Wrightson or Alan Moore envisioned for the character. Dick Durock reprises his role as Alec Holland / Swamp Thing and he finds a new love with Heather Locklear as the plant-loving, vegetarian Abby Arcane. The film was ripe for “riffs” on the day it was released. This is the type of camp that just doesn’t show up in superhero films anymore. There’s a level of serious humor that happens in superhero films and television shows now. I miss the days when a comic adaptation could be a low budget fun mess. The two kids, Omar and Darryl, are a product of their day and give the film just the right campy tone. This was just the laughs that I needed this week.
Best of the Rest
- Mark Hamill once fired by Jack in the Box for impersonating a clown at the drive thru has had a pretty good career doing voices of clowns and Jokers. This new ad gives me the giggles.
- MacKenzie Davis (Station Eleven, Halt and Catch Fire) is one of my favorite actresses and she paid tribute to one of the most underrated actors. She dressed as Stath Charalambos from Stath Lets Flats. That show is one that deserves much more attention outside of the U.K.
- What if a business took every suggestion they received for their upcoming ads and combined them all into a single commercial? Five Star Chicken of Bangkok, Thailand has done just that and the results are brilliant and hilarious.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 4/1/2007, a week of storms cancelled the sports on that Saturday. We were getting ready to go see Meet the Robinsons that afternoon (our first theater trip of the year). Prison Break was having a season finale and I was amused by America’s bit with Sanjaya on American Idol. The best show of that week was one that still excites me.
- Planet Earth – “Deserts” / “Ice Worlds” (S.1 E.5/6) (Discovery) (2006): “A hundred years ago, there were one and a half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet.” – David Attenborough. This show had aired on the BBC the previous year before it debuted in the Spring of 2006 on The Discovery Channel. Attenborough’s narration adds the proper British touch to the film and also makes it timeless. Watching it today feels no different than if it was in 2006 or 1976. Considering the age of the show, the production and resolution is incredible. This is one of those shows that you run to show off your new television to your friends. I have watched the series and the sequels multiple times. My favorites of these two episodes include the Atacama lions, red kangaroos, the walrus, and the emperor penguins. The “Ice Worlds” episode is rightly best remembered for the polar bear and her two cubs which still brings all the feelings that you need to have to want to save this planet from the ravages of climate change.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
The new Coca-Cola marketing program has succeeded at one thing. Making people shake their heads and say “What the?” both at the store and when tasting the product. The follow-up to “Starlight” is a release called Marshmello that you might mistake by the white can to be marshmallow but it’s an artist/musician and the flavor is watermelon strawberry with not much of a watermelon taste. So as far as a strawberry Coke goes, it’s not a bad effort and I’d seek it out. The comparisons out there to Pepsi Blue aren’t far off, if you remember that release.
Doritos: Tangy Tamarind
I had these a couple weeks ago and it has taken me that long to attempt to formulate how I think about them. I’m at a loss to define what tamarind entails. I imagine it’s either a fruit (because I’ve noticed it as a soda flavor) or a spice or maybe a Marvel Comics experimental character. The bag promises a bit of heat that it doesn’t deliver completely. There’s a hint of chili powder, onions, and garlic dusted on the chips. Maybe even a hint of lime in the aftertaste. Props to Doritos for trying something new but I won’t miss them when they are a distant memory.
Lay’s Kettle Cooked: Fritos Chili Cheese
Now we are talking. Summer might be wrapping up but these are about the perfect summer picnic snack. I brag that Lay’s Kettle Cooked very rarely ever disappoint. Add in one of the best flavors of Fritos and you have a combination made in Salty Snack Heaven. This mashup accomplishes one important need. The original Chili Cheese Fritos were too heavy on the chili flavor and this combination fixes that with just the perfect chili taste upfront. These need to come out every summer.
“Mmm-mmm, I want to linger
Mmm-mmm, a little longer
Mmm-mmm, a little longer here with you.” -Traditional Song