Pop Culture Ephemera
- Carl Hiaasen – Native Tongue (1991) (Knopf): “The deceased was a well-known scumbucket and they don’t usually have the decency to kill themselves. Usually someone else does the honor.” This is my third Hiaasen book of the year and the second to see appearances by Skink and patrolman Jim Tile. I liked this one as much and probably more than Double Whammy. The plot revolves around the Florida amusement park, The Amazing Kingdom of Thrills, and the events that stem from the theft of two Blue Tongued Mango Voles. There are heavy doses of observational humor about Florida, life and a nod to environmentalism. The Hiaasen books attract me the most to their characters. Bud Schwartz and Danny Pogue as two low-level criminals are a hoot and could easily find themselves in a Home Alone film. Head of Security, Pedro Luz, steals the show for me and his demise is the best laugh of the year so far. He will be subtly transformed into the bouncer character in his next novel, Striptease. Skink and Jim Tile are used effectively and I like the development of their characters. Just an overall fun read.
- Fear the Walking Dead – “Amina” (S.7 E.15) (AMC) (2022): One episode until the end of the season. The show has reached 100 episodes, amazingly. This has been a good season. The post-nuclear season has suffered from too many orange filters and inconsistent use of gas masks. But our team is all together and we’re dealing with the shocking Alicia events that started this half season. The show has taken chances with the storytelling over the 100 episodes but this one is reminiscent of some of the best Walking Dead episodes where time and real vs. unreal are manipulated. Alicia is chasing after a girl that we quickly figure out is a younger version of herself. If it’s a fever dream or an actual chase is to be determined. But the filmmakers use her dreamlike visions to drop all kinds of clues to the upcoming season either literally or thematically. I hold it above the regular Walking Dead right now mostly for the creative chances they are willing to take. This is an emotional episode for those of us who have watched all 100 episodes.
- Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – “You’ve Got a Friend” (1972) (from Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway): “Ain’t it good to know / That you got a friend” Carole King (the writer) and James Taylor both did excellent versions of this song. But in the hands of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, the song becomes almost Gospel Soul. The “friend” becomes otherworldly. Dusty Springfield does a mean version of the song too. But there’s just something really special about this version that gives me goosebumps every time.
- Bon Voyage! (1962) (Directed by James Neilson): “How do you like Elliott’s new mustache, Dad?” (Skipper) / “I think I like the one on the girl’s mother better.” (Harry). This week’s a Disney Double Feature from 1962 by director James Neilson. First up is an entry into the comedic family vacation genre. There may have been more before this but this sets the bar for films like Vacation. Fred MacMurray and Jane Wyman are the parents of Deborah Walley (you’ve seen her in a number of beach films), Tommy Kirk (Shaggy Dog and Old Yeller), and Kevin Corcoran (Shaggy Dog and Old Yeller). Kirk and Corcoran played brothers in five films over their careers. The elements of the genre are all present and accounted for here. The father has planned the trip to the every detail; the family is more interested in doing their own thing and there are multiple love interests. A majority of the film takes place in France, making for a Capraesque feel as beautiful scenery is mixed in with the plot. The Americans visiting Europe for the first time doesn’t reach the level of Twain’s Innocents Abroad but it’s a charming Disney effort. The laughs are a bit dated but it’s still a fun romp.
- Moon Pilot (1962) (Directed by James Neilson): “I don’t have a real steady girlfriend, anyways” (Talbot) / “You don’t have an unsteady one either, understand?” (Vanneman). This 1962 Disney film is one of the first to show the Disney fascination with Space and play upon the American obsession with getting to the Moon. Capt. Talbot (Tom Tryon) is goaded by Charlie the Monkey to volunteer to be the first man to the Moon. A trip home to see his family exposes him to a possible spy who turns out to be an alien. Yes. An alien from planet Beta Lyrae (Dany Saval) helps provide Talbot with a paint that will stop him from getting the same “proton rays” that affected Charlie. Familiar faces are what make Disney films of this era so comfortable. Brian Keith is Major General Vanneman, Edmond O’Brien is McClosky, and Tommy Kirk plays Talbot’s brother. The film bounces back and forth between a parody of the American Space Program (mostly the government interference in such) and a drama about getting into space and what feels like a romantic comedy. Sally Field has a fun role as a beatnik. It’s very dated in almost every aspect but as a relic of its day, there’s some entertainment to be had here.
Best of the Rest
- Peloton’s exercise App has a new ad featuring Chris Meloni (Law & Order: Organized Crime). Naked ads with blurring are almost always funny. Naked exercising is even more outrageously humorous. Ads want to be memorable and this certainly fits the bill.
- Thanks to constant reader, Patti, for sending me some “non-snake animals on the loose” stories. What is going on in Wisconsin that I’m getting my second “alligator found wandering around town” story of as many weeks. This time the town is Kenosha, Wisconsin. The gator had been hanging out in his kiddie pool in his owner’s backyard and decided to go for a stroll. As if I don’t have enough anxiety watching out for snakes in this weather.
- The reemergence of Kate Bush “Running Up That Hill” thanks to Stranger Things has had many pleasurable unintended consequences. One of my favorites is finding covers of her music that I didn’t know existed. One that caught me this week is the Croatian Choir called Mozartine doing this cover from 2015.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 2/25/2007, I had finished a long day of inventory, Christian’s basketball was over, and baseball practice was starting right up the next week. I made sure to really miss on all of my Academy Award predictions. Yeah, I didn’t think Martin Scorsese would win a Best Director (I picked Peter Greengrass). And I picked Will Smith to win a Best Actor over Forest Whitaker. The usual suspects of Lost, Heroes, and Friday Night Lights dominated my recommendations to end Sweeps Month. The end of the month of Sweeps left this week with mostly repeats of the comedies. You can see what the networks think are the strong episodes of their shows based upon what they repeat. I decided to look again at one of them.
- The Office – “Branch Closing” (S.3 E.7) (NBC) (2006) The previous “real time” episode ended with Jim telling Karen he still has feelings for Pam. And Michael going to Staples to beg Dwight to come back. We step back to November sweeps with this episode. The announcement of the closing of the Scranton branch starts events into motion. Eventually, the Stamford branch will end up closing. In between, Jim accepts a position back in Scranton and convinces Karen to join him. The best part of this episode and of the early seasons is Michael and Dwight driving out to the CFO’s home to convince him to save the Scranton branch. Their relationship is really defined here for the friendship that it really has been. I watch the show from time to time in repeats but it might bear a full in-order rewatch to really appreciate the way these plot lines are drawn. This is a Top Ten episode for sure.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Jolly Rancher Gummies
I’m a fan, a big fan, of the hard candy Jolly Ranchers from my earliest candy memories. In a word, these are terrible. All of the promise of the great flavors of Jolly Ranchers is lost in a weird textured, dry candy that doesn’t leave anything but a waxy flavor that barely resembles the original flavors. These have a Swedish Fish type of exterior but that doesn’t even do justice to the weird taste. Skip these for the other 20 gummy choices on the shelves.
Pringles: Scorchin’ – Hot Ones: Los Calientes Rojo & Los Calientes Verde
Pringles based upon a popular YouTube show is an interesting combination. There is a Last Dab version but that won’t be in my mouth in this lifetime. These are some damn hot chips. I like some heat, especially in my potato chips but be warned that these are sweat inducing. The Verde version had a little more flavor for me but both overwhelmed with heat more than being enjoyable. These will be around because I can’t eat more than three to four at a sitting.
Dick’s Potato Chips: Salty
These chips have too many jokes for me to even start to cover in a small entry. Yes, I’m reviewing a bag of Dick’s Potato Chips that I ate. I don’t often review a plain potato chip. These caught my attention by the name but it’s a good chip. They remind me of the long forgotten Bemo Potato Chips of my youth. These salty Dick’s chips are really good. Eat a bag.
“You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running
To see you again” – Robert Flack & Donny Hathaway
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