From the Couch Hole: We Could Steal Time, Just for One Day

Previously on FTCH, way back in 2023, the boy and the heron went to a castle in the sky for a barbeque. There was a jug band Christmas in the valley of the wind with sizzlin’ bacon crackers. Since we last gathered together, it’s been good to be a Wolverine. Still in the afterglow of my team winning a National Championship for the first time since 1997, I had a busy week at work. I’m glad to be working from home this week instead of having to go into the store during our current Arctic Blast. Caleb leaves tomorrow to go back to school and my time with the children for the Holidays comes to an official end. This week the holdovers on Dune become heroes. Rose Red uses the Iron Claw to eat American Hot Wings because The Truth Is Out There. Remember, have it your way at FTCH.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.” – Herbert
Buy Frank Herbert’s Dune
  • Frank Herbert – Dune (1965) (Chilton Books): “The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” – Herbert. Turns out that the third or fourth time was the charm. I had started and stopped this book after a few chapters multiple times since first watching the David Lynch film. This title starts a project of working through some deep tracks in the science fiction genre. Certainly I’ve enjoyed films of this genre more than reading them. The world of Arrakis is a clever combination of mythology, history, religion, philosophy, and the budding idea of environmentalism. There’s a theory that every Science Fiction Universe is a reflection of the politics of their day. This story fits nicely into the Hippie world of Woodstock, Vietnam, and the “drop out” drug culture. I really liked this once I pushed through the first hundred pages. I haven’t read Asimov’s Foundation or Game of Thrones, I’d put this just under Lord of the Rings (and the rise of fascism). This story helped give birth the Star Wars franchise. I’m excited to pick up the next book in the series here soon.
  • Rose Red (three-episode mini-series) (2002) (ABC): “If we’re quiet, if we listen, we can hear houses breath. Sometimes, in the depth of the night, you can even hear them groan. It’s as if they were having bad dreams.” – Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis). A group from the university is going to investigate the abandoned and haunted Rimbauer house. I loved this mini-series upon release in 2002 as the run of Stephen King ABC mini-series approached their end. This initially feels like an extension of stories like Carrie (1974) and Firestarter (1980) with a powerfully psychic-powered child helping out adults solve a problem. Before the first of the three episodes is over it’s obviously an unnamed remake of The Haunting of Hill House (1959). In this case, Hill House becomes Rose Red. There are some scenes that start to drag on the story, especially in the second act, and I start thinking how would Mike Flannagan have handled this. Well, I don’t really have to because I have The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and Fall of the House of Usher (2023) to look at to see how he handles almost the same story. Having recently read King’s Danse Macabre (1981), I know how highly King regards the Shirley Jackson story and this adds a touch of Marasco’s Burnt Offerings (1973) that he also raves about. The acting and effects could use an update but this series, back on Hulu, is worth a viewing to remember the beautiful days of the ABC mini-series.
  • Moby – “Heroes” (2021) (from Reprise): “I, I will be King / And you, you will be Queen” – Bowie. This version of the David Bowie song popped back into my brain in 2023 when it was so effectively used at a funeral in Mayans M.C. Covering a Bowie song is dicey at best. Covering one of his most iconic songs can be even more troubling. There are exceptions to the rule. Nico has an interesting version of the song. Moby gets a pass because of his friendship with Bowie. Mindy Jones is a perfect voice for his version. It offers that funeral type of dirge that was called for in the television episode. Brian Eno’s lyrics are open to interpretation and this takes the urgency of the words and emphasizes the “could” of “we could be heroes.”
“‘Cause we are lovers, and that is a fact / Yes, we’re lovers, and that is that.” – Bowie
  • The Holdovers (2023) (Directed by Alexander Payne): “You see, history is not simply the study of the past. It is an explanation of the present.” – Paul Hunham. Is it fair to call Alexander Payne the Mike Nichols of his generation? No matter the actual setting of his films, they always seem to have the sensibility of a 1971 film. Setting this one over a Winter Break in 1971 at a boarding school in Massachusetts just fits. Paul (Paul Giamatti), Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) ,and student Angus (Dominic Sessa) are stuck at the school and each go through their growth. The trope of an unexpected family unit coming together could easily have veered into painful and predictable epiphanies. Payne’s direction and incredible acting keeps this one consistently funny and the plot unfolds more organically than I feared. Giamatti should be nominated for awards for his role and I expect that we will look back at Sessa’s role as the first in a long line of fine characters that he will play. Setting a movie in 1971 is meaningless unless the lessons are applicable to modern viewers. The film is about the small decisions and unpredictable events that can change life and how we deal with those changes. Payne’s films can feel nihilistic, but here he’s maturing and the characters are realistic and likable.
  • The Iron Claw (2023) (Directed Sean Durkin): “Mom tried to protect us with God. Dad tried to protect us with wrestling.” – Kevin Von Erich. Sports movies and arthouse films aren’t often mistaken for each other. The only problem with this film might be that the reality of the story is tragic on a Shakespearean level. Maybe it’s better to compare them to the tragic decade of the Kennedys in the 1960s. Director Durkin keeps the story very insular. It’s about the family and most of the film takes place inside the family homes or at family events. The wrestling is often just a plot device to move the story to the next emotional beat. If you love Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, you get it in full with the most physical scenes of the film. I think this would fall apart with a lesser cast. Zac Efron plays a huge character (muscularity wise) that has multiple levels emotionally. Jeremy Allen White differs the most from the real-life character in terms of size and looks, but he’s a powerhouse of an actor that you can’t take your eyes off of. I had hoped for more of a game changer in the sports-film genre. What I got was a high quality film that respected the original events to such a level that it overwhelmed the overall experience.

Best of the Rest

  • It’s hard to imagine a more iconic version of this song than Nico covering it. Her style is that of passionless to the point that it’s a passion of its own. The band is cranking away on the tune in this live version and she could be just reading words at an autopsy. It’s really hard to look away.
“Just for one day.” – Bowie
  • Mother Finds Snake in Son’s Underwear Drawer That’s a headline that could be from anywhere. Luckily, when they mention it’s the second most venomous snake in the world (the Eastern Brown snake), I know it’s in Australia. I also know that the snake will be released in a field outside next to a grocery store or school. Looking for the most venomous snake in the world? I’d probably check the sock drawer.

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

Buy The X-Files The Complete Season 1 on Blu-ray
  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 7/13/2008, it was summertime and it was hot. Like all week over 100 degrees hot. My #87 Favorite Film of All-Time was A Night at the Opera (1935). I love the Marx Brothers and I find this one to be as subversive as anything that they did in this era. I have a hard time picking my favorite but this is one that I would show someone who hadn’t watched their films. It’s a fair rating overall. The summer television season was bringing Big Brother 10 (CBS) and Generation Kill (HBO). The All-Star game was this week but my sons and I mostly loved to watch the Home Run Contest. I predicted a Josh Hamilton victory. This blog I gave you a list that has changed 123 times since then and I’ll attempt it again.
    • 10. “Anasazi” (S.2 E.25): Crazy Mulder, the Lone Gunmen, Cigarette Smoking Man, and Navajo translators. This is what kept bringing me back.
    • 9. “Humbug” (S.2 E.20): Jim Rose’s Circus Sideshow and you get to see Scully eat a bug.
    • 8. “Duane Barry” / “Ascension” (S.2 E.5, S.2 E.6)
    • 7. “Beyond The Sea” (S.1 E.13): Chokes me up every time because of the father/daughter theme. This nod to Silence of the Lambs (1991) is excellent.
    • 6. “Bad Blood” (S.5 E.12): Because every show needs a Rashomon (1950) tribute.
    • 5. “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (S.5 E.5): Did this show take chances? This is a B&W episode that is a retelling of Frankenstein ending with a Cher-lookalike singing “Walking in Memphis.” You tell me who took more chances.
    • 4. “Squeeze” / “Tooms” (S.1 E.3, S.1 E.21): Eugene Tooms! Trusting the audience, these two episodes didn’t even air next to each other during the season.
    • 3. “Jose Chung’s from Outer Space” (S.3 E.20): Television didn’t get more creative in the late 1990s. Plus the quote, “I didn’t spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons without learning something about courage.” Charles Nelson Reilly puts it over the top.
    • 2. “Ice” (S.1 E.8): Yes, it’s a complete ripoff of The Thing (1982). It was early in the series, and it was the actual moment that I knew I would watch this show until the end.
    • 1. “Home” (S.4 E.2): It’s not one of the “mythology” episodes. It just sticks with me. It’s this inbred storyline that creeped me out the most.
    • 10. “Pilot” (S.1 E.1): Very few series have hit the ground running like this show. We get an idea of how the show will play out for the next ten seasons. A majority of the elements that would dominate the show are present here.
    • 9. “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (S.5 E.5): It takes a long time to ramp up, but when this episode gets rolling, it is a lovely story that just feels good for the fans.
    • 8. “E.B.E.” (S.1 E.17): Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) goes all out and the episode introduces The Three Gunmen. If you love the conspiracy episodes, this is where it really takes off.
    • 7. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” (S.11 E.4): Darin Morgan who wrote “Jose Chung” revisits the satire of modern society. This is more about the end of “truth” and a bit about the Mandela Effect. I love this “truth” that there was always a third agent with Mulder and Scully but that he’s been left out of the history when it has been retold.
    • 6. “Memento Mori” (S.4 E.14): This emotional episode about cancer is the product of the best the show had to offer. Written by Chris Carter and Vince Gilligan and directed by Rob Bowman.
    • 5. “Tithonus” (S.6 E.10): Looking back, I really appreciate the more philosophical chances the show would take. This deals as much with the idea of love and loss as any hour of television on a network ever has when we meet the immortal Alfred Fellig.
    • 4. “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” (S.3 E.20) / “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (S.3 E.4): Both written by Darin Morgan, this show was never as risk taking as it was in Season Three. These stories play with unreliable narrator inside of unreliable narration. They are self referential without breaking the Fourth Wall. They are unique entries that make this show as groundbreaking as people say.
    • 3. “Ice” (S.1 E.8): This “bottle episode” traps Mulder and Scully in an Arctic compound with a alien that’s been discovered in the ice. It still holds up and provides a blueprint for what level the “monster of the week” stories were going to take.
    • 2. “Home” (S.4 E.2): It’s one of those hours of television that is best experienced without much prior knowledge. Just know that it will be an episode you want to watch again with a friend afterwards.
    • 1. “Squeeze” / “Tooms” S.1 E.3, S.1 E.21): This represents much of why I loved the show. Eugene Tooms is one of their best villains and they had the bravery to bring him back 18 episodes later and expect the viewers to remember the story. It works because he’s the best of what makes a good villain. He’s evil but sympathetic. This show could run that fine line of evil having a good side and good people having a bit of evil in their nature.
  • Since writing the first list in 2008, I went through at least one complete rewatch in 2015/2016. There have also been new episodes and films. I don’t think I had even watched the final season at this point. I could make a list of at least ten more episodes that are in the “must see” category. The non-Mulder seasons take quite a bit of criticism. In retrospect they are just different. I want to believe.
“The truth is out there”

1974 in Review

“A very special spy”
  • January – The Brave and the Bold #110 (DC Comics). Art by Jim Aparo. Batman and Wildcat team up in what appears to be a story influenced by the recent release of Live and Let Die (1973).
  • January 1 – Evonne Goolagong beat Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors defeated Phil Dent in the finals of the Australian Open.
  • January 12 – Maude was halfway through Season Two in January of 1974 and was consistently in the Top Ten with at least a 23 rating.
What’s behind TV’s crime wave?
Buy Maude – The Complete Second Season

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Frosted Flakes: Chocolate Milkshake

This is more like “new-ish”. There have been Chocolate Frosted Flakes previously. Last year, there was Strawberry Milkshake Frosted Flakes. This iteration is mostly just chocolate with a vanilla coating. The mix just isn’t as perfect as it could be. The flakes themselves have too much of a chemical taste. The positive is a very tasty chocolate vanilla milk leftover when you are done. Back to the drawing board, Kellogg’s.

Doritos: Late Night – American Hot Wings

(Courtesy of Mallory Bourdo) This is part of a series of foreign snacks I’ll be reviewing to start the year. The first entry from Asia (research says they are either China, Thailand, or Taiwan) is American Hot Wings. Not Buffalo Hot Wings for sure. The Asian Dorito is a thicker, more corn-flavored chip (in this case a brilliant lightning shape). Hot Wings to them seems to mostly mean chili powder. They aren’t hot by any means, only a mix of chicken-flavor dust (like you get with packaged ramen) and chili powder. Not unpleasant at all. I finished the bag quickly.

Burger King: ‘Shroom Swiss Burger

From this point forward, all my burgers should be ‘Shroom-based. I haven’t been to a BK in probably a decade. I broke my streak to go order one of these based upon seeing an ad on a football game. I had one in hand just minutes later. Have I been sleeping on these? The Texas Toast type bun with the melted Swiss cheese and the mushrooms all look like a mess. I wouldn’t eat this in your car, but it didn’t make as much of a pile of goodies on the plate as I had feared. This is simply a really enjoyable fast food burger. Their fries leave something to be desired, but I’d have one of these burgers again in a heartbeat.

“And we kissed as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame was on the other side
Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes, just for one day” – David Bowie

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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