From the Couch Hole: When the Little Things You’re Doing Don’t Turn Out Right

Previously on FTCH, we started the new season with King, Mountain Dew (your constant writer’s weaknesses) and we spiced up our almonds with some additional Sayer, Hitch, and Joe Kidd. Coming off a busy week at work and looking ahead to the second busiest of the year (other than that last week in August). It was nice to take some of my free time for some more King and Dew. But there’s also Mercedes, Dodge, and a Coop. I sit down with a cluster crunch and a toffee crunch, and Cass says, “I’ll be there.” Remember, FTCH is the pause that refreshes.

Forever looking on the bright side of life.

Pop Culture Ephemera

The world is insane.
  • Stephen King, Richard Chizmar – Gwendy’s Button Box (2017) (Cemetery Dance) (Gwendy’s Button Box Trilogy V.1): “I am what you might call a rambling man, and America is my beat.” This novella written by King with Richard Chizmar combines quite a few elements of other King stories. The difference being the time frame that this story takes place from when Gwendy gets the Button Box at age twelve through her college years. The story is that of the traditional moral dilemma of a power that seems innocent and fun at first but is overwhelmingly powerful in the end. The moral implications aren’t fully explored as they could have been but it’s a short work. I really like the Gwendy character and I’m curious how she is developed in the next two entries in the trilogy. This is a quick read and I think you’ll enjoy this entry in the Castle Rock Universe too.
  • Seaquest DSV – “Treasures of the Tonga Trench” (S.1 E.6) (1993): First, let’s get this over with, the answer is “Yes, I am watching this show.” And let’s get to the second question. “I am watching it because of the Spielberg connection.” It’s a shame that this show couldn’t figure out how to take advantage of their circumstances. Steven helped create a show that is nothing other than “Star Trek Under the Water”. The cast carries with it all the tropes of Star Trek: Next Generation and the plots are liberally borrowed from other films. Previous episodes borrowed heavily from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and elements of The Thing. This episode recalls elements of The Abyss. Yaphet Kotto guest stars here as a hard-assed military man. This is a common theme for the show of Science vs. Military missions. Current favorites in the cast are Lt. Krieg (John D’Aquino) and O’Neill (Ted Raimi). I know this show will fall apart quickly but the start is very promising.
  • Cass Elliot – “I’ll Be There” (1972) (from Cass Elliot): “I’ll be there when all your dreams are broken / To answer your unspoken prayer.” Cass put her unique touch on this Bobby Darin song from 1960. No longer performing as “Mama Cass”, this album plays against some of the trends of 1972 but it proves that a good voice is a good voice no matter the time or place. One thing that has happened early in my 1972 Project is that I’ve fallen in love with her voice again. She would only release two more albums before her death. This song is one of my favorites because it recalls the glamorous artists of the 1950s and 1960s. How could you not melt at hearing her sing that no matter where you go and what happens that someone will be waiting for you when you need them?
  • Mr. Mercedes – “From the Ashes” (S.1 E.8) (2017) (Directed by Laura Innes): “You gave her the Universe” – Holly “They’re just stickers” – Bill. After finishing the book series recently, I went back to go through the series a second time. This is one of the episodes where the television show actually improves upon the book. The death at the start of the episode is one of the more gruesome that has ever aired on television. It’s a clinical way to set up a death with the viewer knowing the dangers, the prolonged build up, all the opportunities to stop it, and the final stomach-churning death. This was an event mostly handled “offscreen”. The other thing I really appreciate about this episode is how it deals with Bill’s daughter, a completely ignored character in the book. Her relationship with Bill helps explain more of his grief over the Mercedes Killings. This is some of the best acting of the first season with Holly (Justine Lupe) finding her voice to speak up for herself and Bill (Bendan Gleason) coming to grips with his own weaknesses after so much tragedy.
  • J.W. Coop (1972) (Directed by Cliff Robertson): “Second place is the same as last.” Cliff Robertson directs, produces, and stars in this non-traditional Western. He probably corralled some of the bulls in-between shots too. Set in the early 1970s, J.W. Coop (Robertson) is just released from ten years in jail in Oklahoma. This mostly quiet character piece deals with Coop rejoining society and trying to compete again as an aging rodeo star. The change in the world through the eyes of a rodeo star closely parallels the films that deal with the end of the West as the railroad and industry changed their world. Bean (Cristina Ferrare) as the nature-loving hippie serves to teach him the lessons he missed in prison. This is a fun film that juxtaposes an old fashioned world of rodeo in Texas with changing morals of the new generation. Has this world come to a point where not being first means that you are a loser? That’s the ultimate question of this film. I love discovering gems like this as I travel through 1972 again.
“Ridin’ for the money.”

Best of the Rest

The Batcave, like an Oreo, is chock full of creamy goodness.
  • The most interesting NFL / food product tie-in ever might be the upcoming Golden Grounds from Lay’s. The concept doesn’t seem to make any flavor sense in that the chips are made from potatoes grown from soil from 29 NFL teams. With only 200 bags for each team (with a pretty cool team logo on each bag), these won’t be for your summer picnic this year. No explanation why Cleveland, Denver, and Cincinnati didn’t participate other than all of their nicknames start with the letter “B”. If you want to even try to get one, you have until January 25th to jump through all the Twitter-based Golden Grounds sweepstakes to win a bag.
  • Two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausages, two pancakes, and hash browns for $6.99. Denny’s has brought back the Super Slam. Although I didn’t know it was gone because I am not a frequent Denny’s visitor, when you are on the road trip and can’t find a Waffle House, this isn’t a bad way to get all 865 calories that you need for breakfast at a cheap price. Bonus points given for people who know the difference between the Super Slam, the Grand Slam, and the Slam Slugger meals.
What? No toast?

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 8/12/2006, it was still hot and my nephew, Zach, was visiting from Michigan and we were headed to the Dr. Pepper Museum. A visit I’d like to repeat soon. The summer television season was pretty weak. The main thing dominating our psyche that week was the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There were a number of news specials trying to give some perspective to the experience. I mentioned wanting to watch Anatomy of September 11th (2002) which was a special episode of A&E’s show Investigative Reports narrated by Bill Kurtis. His voice is one of my favorites for documentaries. These interviews just a year after the attack concentrate only on the Twin Towers and the experience of the survivors. Lots of interviews and personal experiences. It’s still disturbing to this day but it’s also interesting to see how we viewed the story after only a year versus five years versus twenty years. Powerful and tragic.

Flash From The Past

Depend on it.

What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?

Reese’s Puffs Cluster Crunch

My children were the Reese’s Puffs fiends. I was a casual enough fan to enjoy them as a late night dry cereal snack or to have a bowl on the weekends. This iteration with peanut butter clusters and chocolate clusters of corn is not a huge leap in Puffs technology but it makes for a decent cereal. I might enjoy these as a dry snack because they are easier to grab and won’t make too much of a mess on your hands. There isn’t much else different to the cluster. It made more sense when Lucky Charms adopted the cluster technology. And this cereal has the brand name power but other cereals including Cheerios has brought together a chocolate and peanut butter taste better.

Oreo Toffee Crunch

I’m a huge fan of Toffee. There, I said it. Feels good to get it off my chest. Are these true toffee-flavored Oreo cookies? Not quite. The flavor comes across as a caramel with some coffee notes and the “crunch” that I love from toffee is relegated to the sugar crystals as it was in the Christmas releases. I knew it wasn’t going to be a Heath Bar inside of a cookie but these definitely need more of a crunchy crunch to them. As a sidebar, about half of the cookies were inside out with the Oreo side pressed into the creme. A bit of research showed that this is happening everywhere. I’m not sure why but it also took away from the visual pleasure of the Oreo.

Mtn Dew Spark Zero Sugar

I reviewed this Raspberry Lemonade flavor last week. This week I tried the Zero Sugar (which I guess has replaced the work “diet” across all the soda companies). For years, I touted Diet Dr. Pepper (now Dr. Pepper Zero, I think) as the best “diet” soda. But these recent Zero Sugar Mtn. Dew releases have been really good. This holds up really well against the full sugared Spark and I could envision this refreshing beverage on a sunny Spring day in May.

“There whenever you need to know
That there is someone
Who cares” – Cass Elliot

Stay Hard.  

Shawn Bourdo

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