From the Couch Hole: We Can All Get Together and Ease Up Our Mind

Previously on FTCH, last week Morbius and Monsieur Spade narrated the anatomy of the fall. Venom didn’t give the best of his love when he said, “Let there be carnage and sour gummy worms.” It was a great ten days on the road to visit my children, relatives, and friends. Back to work for four days wasn’t too painful. This weekend is a relaxing few days with lots of basketball and snacks. This week on Star Island there was a servant with two masters, Godzilla and Kong. The Shogun smelled old books and sizzlin’ cheese burgers and said, “Get down tonight.” Remember, at FTCH, crunch all you want, we’ll make more.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“A quick puke, two rails of blow and she was solid.”
  • Carl Hiaasen – Star Island (2010) (Alfred A. Knopf): “His face appeared to have been massaged with an industrial cheese grater and then retouched with a glue gun.” The sixth entry in the Skink books by Hiassen has the simplest plot of the previous ones. Don’t worry there are a few familiar characters, a quirky bodyguard who is misunderstood, and consequences for people who are ruining the environment in the Everglades. Cherry Pye is a pop star in the 2010 way of Brittney Spears. Ann DeLusia is her stunt double that she’s unaware of because she is often in need of one because of her drug usage. Bang Abbott is an aggressive paparazzo who is obsessed with Cherry to the point that he kidnaps her to make his career. Except that he kidnaps Ann instead. There are so many pop culture references to stars of the 2010 era that it already feels very dated. Skink has a minor role, but he adds needed humor because the main characters don’t bring the same level of humor that I’m used to in his stories. It’s light on plot and humor. The saving grace are some of the little observational details he puts into the backstory of even the most minor characters.
Buy Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
  • Shogun – “Servants of Two Masters” (2024) (S.1 E.2) (FX): “I’m sorry, Father, I didn’t come all this way around the world just to die on a cross.” – John Blackthorne. We might only be three months into the year, but I’m ready to declare this the best series debut of the year. Certainly there won’t be a better filmed series this year. The first episode was more action packed and covered lots of ground. This second episode slows down and requires more attention to the dialog. The triangle that will be important in the future of Anjin, Tanaka, and Mariko is drawn more clearly. If there’s any drawback, the prison scene is a clunky way to ramp up the Catholic-vs.-Protestant clash and unlike the rest of the episode, the dialog is too much geared toward plot exposition. The lack of action is more than paid off in the final scene, and the political intrigue is dialed up to ten as we head to Episode Three.
Buy The Best of KC and the Sunshine Band CD
  • KC and the Sunshine Band – “Get Down Tonight” (1975) (from KC and the Sunshine Band): “I’ll meet you / Same place, same time.” Odd fact that this song was a #1 Billboard Pop Single, but it was only a #6 hit on the Disco charts. This is early in the Disco Era. There’s a crispness to the mix that disappears over the next three years in the genre. You can clearly hear the guitars, drums, and horns. I’m still in awe of the mix. It’s used as a symbol in Sid and Nancy (1986) before Sid’s death to signify the end of Punk and beginning of Disco. That’s convenient for a film but this wasn’t any death knell for Punk for many years to come and if anything, this song is only a twist in the road that points towards what we will come to know as Disco.
“Do a little dance / Make a little love”
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) (Directed by Michael Dougherty): “Sometimes… the only way to heal our wounds is to make peace with the demons who created them.” – Dr. Serizawa. I wish I had watched this before Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (2023) on Apple+. This gives much needed context to items in the Monsterverse that were new to me. Monster Zero aka King Ghidorah has always been one of my favorites, and he benefits from “Smaug Technology” to make the monster’s dragon qualities even better. Placed in the context of 2019, when DC was rushing out Justice League and Marvel was dealing with Avengers: Endgame, we had put too much weight on telling stories with a massive amount of heroes and villains. This story includes too many monsters. A sentence I never thought I’d have to type. The monsters are great, but the story just doesn’t hold. There’s too much talking, especially between Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and ex-wife Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) that serves to only say out loud that “we are building a Monsterverse in order to have more movies and television shows.” Despite the script issues, I can’t deny that smile on my face when Mothra spreads her wings for the first time.
Cinema Sentries
Buy Godzilla vs Kong Blu-ray + DVD
  • Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (Directed by Adam Wingard): “The myths are real. There was a war. And they’re the last ones standing.” – Ilene Andrews. Take a cue from both the original Godzilla films and the evolution of the MCU in the 2010-2019 era, the Monsterverse collides the two biggest stars (literally) to move forward the story into sequels and television series. Kong hasn’t been seen since Kong: Skull Island (2017) and dominates the screen time battle. The film brings back Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) and Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) for fan involvement. It also brings back insipid plots that make little logical or scientific sense. I know we are dealing with a giant ape battling a giant lizard, but I actually hope for some internal logic. There is a conscious effort to build up Monarch as the S.H.I.E.L.D of the Monsterverse. The final battle leads us to the end of all of the monsters that were fought through the original run of Japanese Godzilla films. The fight is reminiscent of those films in that the moves seem to come from the wrestling world also. It’s fun on the action level, but the plot had too much mumbo jumbo to be a perfect kaiju film.
Cinema Sentries

Best of the Rest

  • This jam from Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) by Beyonce was one of the best parts of a mostly non-funny film. It liberally samples from “Get Down Tonight”, but it serves as a tribute to the hits of KC and the Sunshine Band.
“He’s got the Midas touch, but he touched it too much.”
  • The good news of the past couple weeks was that The Bear (FX) is not just filming Season Three in Chicago now, but that they have been renewed and will film Season Four at the same time. I don’t see this excellent show moving beyond a fourth season because at least half of the cast are moving into solid film careers.
  • I was sad to learn about the passing of M. Emmet Walsh. He had a memorable role in Blade Runner (1982). I would illustrate his best work as a private detective in the Coen Brothers first film, Blood Simple (1984). These first three minutes of their first film and I knew I would love them forever. His speech could fit almost every project that they’ve done since.
“What I know about is Texas. Down here you’re on your own.”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 9/21/2008, a short weekend since I worked that Saturday. I was about to run errands and get back for the Sunday night game: Cowboys vs Packers. My #37 Favorite Movie of All-Time was M*A*S*H (1970). I worried that this might be too high of a ranking at the time. I still consider it one of Altman’s best, but I still think it’s more likely in the 40-50 range of all-time. The 60th Primetime Emmys were that night and I expected John Adams (HBO) and Mad Men (AMC) to be the big winners. I was loving True Blood (HBO), but I hadn’t watched Fringe (FOX) yet and was worried about the lack of great reviews (spoiler: I would go on to love it as much as any show of that year). The list of the week is an interesting revisit.
      • 10. Pumpkin Pie: Right out of the oven.
      • 9. Cilantro: Freshly cut.
      • 8. Chocolate Chip Cookies
      • 7. Clothes Straight Out of the Dryer: Tide and a dryer sheet do amazing things to sheets and t-shirts.
      • 6. New Baby: Fresh linen, baby powder, and new human all mixed together.
      • 5. Fresh Christmas Tree: Especially shopping the tree lot on a December evening.
      • 4. The Ocean: For some reason the Pacific smells better than the Atlantic.
      • 3. Fresh Cat: Not right after they eat their smelly dinner but when they want to cuddle when I’m reading.
      • 2. Chocolate
      • 1. Old Books: Not the musty old ones, but the old ones that smell like books from my youth.
      • 10. Coffee Brewing: At the time of the previous list, I wasn’t a coffee drinker.
      • 9. Any Cookie Straight Out of the Oven: Chocolate chip or sugar are my favorites but any will do.
      • 8. Cinnamon Toast: Bread and one of the best spice scents.
      • 7. The Top of the Head of a New Baby. That new human and baby shampoo mixture.
      • 6. Sizzlin’ Bacon: How did this not make the first list?
      • 5. Hot Sidewalk in the Cold Rain: It borders on a bad smell, but I can’t get enough of it.
      • 4. My Old Baseball Glove: The hours and hours spent smelling that glove outside with friends.
      • 3. Saltwater Spray from Waves Crashing at the Ocean: Once again, preferably the Pacific Ocean but I have recently found the Mediterranean Sea to have a pleasurable scent.
      • 2. Fresh Pizza at Your Table: It’s that great combination of bread, meats, and melted cheese smell.
      • 1. Freshly Popped Popcorn: Movies and sporting events throughout my life have shared this smell in their lobbies. It’s a scent of leisure and pleasure for me. And I know it tastes good.
    • I wanted to put “Freshly Mowed Grass” on the list, but my allergies have made it a painful smell more and more. Since that list was made, I’ve become a “candle guy” and my tolerance for some smells has changed. I prefer the more musky candles most of the year. This is the rare time of year that I enjoy the flowery scents. I have very clear scent memories. Some of them I can’t describe (Nana’s basement, my cat Azrael, my high school locker, etc.), but I’m a huge fan of clever combinations of scents. Vanilla is always at the top of lists like this. I think it’s a solid scent but needs another in combination to make it shine.

1974 in Review

Last Tangle In Paris
  • March – Crazy #3 (Marvel): Another effort to take on the popularity of Mad Magazine in the parody genre. I love the titles but never had a chance to peruse this issue. Art by Frank Kelly Freas. Written by Marv Wolfman.
  • March 23 – The N. Carolina State Wolfpack ended UCLA’s 38-game NCAA Tournament win streak with a double overtime victory in the Final Four. Trailing 67-74 in the last period, they would win 80-77.
  • March – The early influences of Punk Rock are evident with stories on The Stooges and New York Dolls. The issue features an article on an up-and-coming musical style called “reggae”.
The New York Dolls Storming L.A.

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Spring Fruity Pebbles

Happy Spring! It’s the same Fruity Pebbles as always with some more pastel colors and the same taste. I like the cereal, but I don’t buy it on any regular basis until I see such a cute box. Look at what a cutie Pebbles is here!

Sargento: Fiesta Pepper String Cheese

Now that the children are out of the house, I don’t consume nearly the quantity of string cheese that I did a decade or more ago. I thought that this was string cheese’s attempt to join the Flamin’ Hot movement. It is not. Hours later, I’m still awaiting the “kick” that was promised from habanero peppers. There’s a slight heat in the first bites that doesn’t rise to a pepperoni heat level and then that’s it. String cheese is still a quality snack but there’s no reason here to expect a hot time.

Doritos: Late Night: Sizzlin’ Cheese Burger

We aren’t lacking for flavor combinations for chips. We are lacking for creative names. There have been a number of Cheese Burger releases and I’m not sure what makes this one “sizzle” more than any other. I’m waiting for Late Night Grilled Cheese Burger with Extra Mayo and Dill Pickles on a Sesame Seed Bun. It’s nice to get a new release that isn’t Flamin’ Hot. The Loaded Taco release from this series was really good. These aren’t up to that standard, but you can grasp a meat and cheese flavor to the chips. I’m not sure the consistency of the bun or the mustard content. And at no point did the chips “sizzle” in my mouth (that was my initial fear).

“Baby, baby
Let’s get together
Honey, honey, me and you
And do the things
Ah, do the things
That we like to do” – KC and the Sunshine Band

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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