From the Couch Hole: Where Do We Go Now?

Previously on FTCH, from me to you the Earth Mama makes the best root beer floats. The Road Warrior was going to adopt a highway except for being on a ghostwatch. As you read this on Sunday morning, Christian and I are navigating from Houston to Corpus Christi on our Minor League Baseball adventure. I hope everyone enjoys a bit of R&R this long weekend. This is the 150th issue since I rebranded as “From the Couch Hole.” Thank you to everyone who has made it this far. This week Madame Web was a sweet child o’ mine. The kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was in the ring of terror beyond Thunderdome with cheeseburger melts. Remember, FTCH comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best of buddies

Pop Culture Ephemera

“What a wonderful day!” – Proximus
  • Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024) (Directed by Wes Ball): “Apes hunt humans. That is the law, but the law is WRONG!” – Noa. This film moves forward enough years that Caesar is just a figment of history. This set-up feels like the start of another trilogy, Planet of the Apes: The Next Generation if you will. You have to start every review by saying that these are the best visual effects in years and they better win all the awards at the end of the year. New director Wes Ball takes over effectively. He makes this story his own while honoring the previous three films. What did Noa see through the Griffith Observatory telescope? That and the “Fort Wayne” reference at the end leads me to believe that we are returning to space like where we first entered this world with Charlton Heston. This continues to be one of the best written franchises. There were a few “convenient” moments towards the end, but in general, there’s a good balance between the personal stories of apes and humans and the overarching political fable. To that end, I find the “Do we learn the correct lesson from history?” to be the most compelling. There are at least two interpretations of Caesar’s message, and by the end, there might be a third. I can easily make an argument for this being the best franchise of the last two decades.
Buy Planet of the Apes Trilogy Blu-ray
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 – “Ring of Terror” (1990) (S.2 E.6) (COMEDY): “Aw, she’s the ginchiest. Life does begin at 40.” – Joel. The film Ring of Terror (1961) is worse than most that are a part of this show. It doesn’t lend itself to much more than jokes about how old the “college” students look. The short here is The Phantom Creeps (Episode Three) with Bela Lugosi. It’s the only time I can recall where the short comes after the feature in the show. I find these hilarious mostly because of my age and interests. I do wonder if the younger generations get some of the references like to Bob, The Church of the Subgenius, Joe Franklin, and Lyndon LaRouche. I don’t like to say this about any entry in the series, but it’s a clunker.
Buy Guns N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction Deluxe CD
  • Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (1987) (from Appetite for Destruction): “Her hair reminds of a warm, soft place / Where as a child, I’d hide.” This song reached #1 on the Billboard charts in September of 1988, which happens to be the month I moved from Michigan to California. From the trip there through my first couple of months trying to find my way around, this song was a constant background. In Southern California, I feel like this song was even more ubiquitous. It’s their biggest hit, and I think it’s the most representative of their neo-Led Zeppelin-meets-Cream fusion. This song still takes me back to those days. It might have been 1988, but this song starts the end of the ’80s for me that will officially end in 1991 with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain.”
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) (Directed by George Miller, George Oglivie): “Remember where you are – this is Thunderdome, and death is listening, and will take the first man that screams.” – Aunt Entity. This film was popular upon release but has suffered over the years as a “joke” sequel (somewhat because of the title). It’s a continued evolution of the genre-spanning journey from Mad Max (1979) to The Road Warrior (1981). Four years down the road and Mel Gibson is much more of an International movie star and Tina Turner is one of the Queens of Pop Music. This film starts off looking like a gladiator film until Max is exiled from Bartertown (think of this as their Casablanca). It becomes a biblical epic as Max turns into Moses to lead the Lost Tribe of children through the desert to their homeland. Turning back to what got us here, the last quarter of the film is a chase that could have been lifted from Buster Keaton’s The General (1926). George Miller is a genius at using every inch of the frame. The details given to Bartertown and the home of the Lost Tribe are impressive. This doesn’t deserve the disdain given to it from some fans of the franchise. I would have liked to have revisited the Thunderdome later in the film, but it’s a fun time that overcomes Tina Turner’s cardboard acting abilities.
  • Madame Web (2024) (Directed by S.J. Carlson): “When you take on the responsibility, great power will come.” – Santiago. Is this what has become of the Spider-Verse? It’s not the worst Marvel Universe movie ever, as some reviews made it out to be. In fact, what’s worse than being bad is that it’s boring. The feeling you come away with is that from a story and level of danger perspective, this could have just been a Disney+ miniseries. Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim) has some Terminator qualities that could have made this a much darker film. The scene on the subway where he stalks Cassie (Dakota Johnson) and the three Spider-Girl wannabes (Celeste O’Connor, Sydney Sweeney, and Isabela Merced) is the best part of the film and shows what could have been. The need to make this a standalone film also makes it the least compelling of the Marvel films. The action scenes, including the final battle (sponsored by Pepsi) are the least interesting parts of the film. That’s a problem when the genre is defined by how creative you can get with your fight scenes. I fear that the negative reviews won’t be enough to get them to stop this Spidey Universe.

Best of the Rest

  • In 2009, the John Lewis Christmas ads found the formula that they would repeat for (at least) 14 years. Swedish indie band, Taken By Trees, cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” highlights the combination of song and visuals meant to capture the nostalgic joy of Christmas that is the hallmark of the ad campaign. It’s an effective ad and quite charming. It’s interesting to watch the evolution as they continue to hone their skills over the years.
  • There might not be much more 2024 than Red Lobster goes out of business from Endless Shrimp. Offering $20 Endless Shrimp to the vastly overweight and hungry public caused an $11 million loss for the company. The days of the all-you-can-eat buffets are numbered. Once a prime unit of General Mills, Red Lobster is part of the same spin-off company Darden that owns Olive Garden and I’d expect a cut on your unlimited bread sticks after this downfall.
Buy Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys CD
  • It’s no secret that my #1 is the Beatles. I have quite a bit of love for the Beach Boys too. Just as our Endless Summer is about to begin, this documentary debuts on Disney+. I’ve got a busy couple of weeks so I might not get around to this until Independence Day. Feel free to work ahead of me on this one.
“I get around.”

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 11/23/2008, it was Thanksgiving Week ahead and I would be off work for the week with the kids. Michigan had lost to Ohio State the day before and the season was mercifully over. My #3 Favorite Film of All-Time was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). I was 12 when this film was released, and it brought together my interest in space, science fiction, and films in a perfect synchronicity. I’d probably put this in my Top Ten again. True Blood (HBO) was ending Season One (I rated it a “B”) and Heroes (NBC) was having some eclipse that I didn’t understand. My list for the week was holiday oriented but I think I should consider it again.
      • 10. Mouse on the Mayflower (1968): I’m cheating here but I couldn’t think of ten, and it’s an underrated Rankin and Bass.
      • 9. Alice’s Restaurant (1969): Only once a year do I want to hear this song.
      • 8. Pieces of April (2003): Clever little film. Katie Holmes looking cute too.
      • 7. The Myth of Fingerprints (1997)
      • 6. House of Yes (1997)
      • 5. Home for the Holidays (1995)
      • 4. Dutch (1991): Best Ed O’Neil film. Close to the plot of #1.
      • 3. Hannah & Her Sisters (1986): A bonus of two Thanksgiving meals to bookend the film.
      • 2. The Ice Storm (1997): Ang Lee goes off his usual track but tells a good story.
      • 1. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987): Maybe it’s because I was stranded in E. Lansing trying to get home for the holiday when I first saw the film. There are few films that make me belly laugh like this one.
      • 10. Dan in Real Life (2007): Steve Carrell and a strong script makes this Thanksgiving-weekend-set film a big winner.
      • 9. Knives Out (2019): I don’t know that they specifically call out this as set on Thanksgiving weekend but the weather tells you that it’s at least Thanksgiving adjacent. The family gathering adds to my perception of that.
      • 8. Pieces of April (2003): There’s a great balance of comedy and drama. I suggest you have some tissues handy.
      • 7. Alice’s Restaurant (1969) : At the very least it was made by people having a really good time making a movie.
      • 6. The House of Yes (1997): I had known Parker Posey before this, but this is the first time I really sat up and took notice of her as a dark humor actress.
      • 5. The Myth of Fingerprints (1997): Who knew that 1997 would be such a fertile year for Thanksgiving-based indie films. Noah Wylie is a movie star here.
      • 4. The Ice Storm (1997): Ang Lee is crafty about filling the screen with so many important clues as to what is happening inside of the characters.
      • 3. Home For The Holidays (1995): Jodie Foster shows off directing chops by handling a large cast of quality actors. Holly Hunter is perfectly cast.
      • 2. Hannah & Her Sisters (1986): One of the best written films about Thanksgiving. It will also make you want to queue up some Marx Brothers films afterwards.
      • 1. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987): Nothing has even approached knocking this film off its perch. In fact, it may have distanced itself even more as it has become a family tradition to view on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.
    • I was able to think of many more Thanksgiving-related films given the 16-year break between lists. It’s a holiday given much more to comedy as families gather together for a meal. I wonder why it isn’t more about the themes of returning home. The best ones on the list have that theme of “home” at their core.
“What you see is what you get.”

1974 in Review

“Your crazy crew fumbles Richgard Nixon!”
  • May – Crazy #4 (Marvel): Cover art by Frank Kelly Freas. Edited by Marv Wolfman. Stories include “Shafted”, “Mudge the Manicurist”, and “Celebrity Sportsman.”
  • May 19 – The Philadelphia Flyers defeat the Boston Bruins in Game Six to win the Stanley Cup becoming the first expansion team to win. On the same day, the Houston Aeros beat the Chicago Cougars in four straight games to win the World Hockey Association championship.
  • May – National Geographic Vol.145, No.5 (May.1974): Includes “The Incredible Universe”, “Amiable Amsterdam”, and “Beavers – Master Mechanics Of Pond And Stream.”
Dock Ellis tossed a no-hitter in 1970 while on LSD.

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Fruity Cheerios

These are hyped as “New” when they are really strictly “Returning.” I was a big fan of this release when I had my Cereal Project in 2016. The taste is very similar to Froot Loops. It’s been a boon for people who want that sweetness but need a gluten-free option. The flavor was discontinued just over a year ago but returns now with brighter coloring. It’s a quality product both dry and with milk.

Pizza Hut: Cheeseburger Melt

Life is sometimes about choosing between pizza and a burger. For a limited time, you don’t have to choose. It’s a thin-crust bottom with a Parmesan-crusted thin-crust top. Inside is ground beef, bacon, onions, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese. There is a “burger sauce” to dip it in that gives off the mustard, ketchup, mayo vibe. It’s not going to replace getting a tasty burger. It is a delicious to-go type of item that you can eat without fuss or muss. The melt isn’t as messy as a calzone and can be eaten without too many extra napkins. I had never had one until this one and I’d explore the other flavors.

Oreo: Sour Patch Kids

Let’s cut to the chase. The worse an Oreo combination sounds, there’s a higher chance that it’s not that bad. These aren’t as terrible as the presentation would lead you to believe. The graham-flavored biscuit is good and the flecks are more like sugar. The creme smells great and the flavor is slightly sour. I identified it as something closer to orange sherbet ice cream. I wouldn’t buy them again, but as a one-off, there are worse flavors that Oreo has attempted.

“She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky (Sky)
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long, I’d probably break down and cry” – Guns N’ Roses

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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