Pop Culture Ephemera
- Moonage Daydream (2022) (Directed by Brett Morgen): “Rebel rebel, how could they know?” – Bowie. Summarizing the over 50-year career of legend David Bowie is difficult to imagine working in a two-hour documentary that doesn’t have a narrator to guide us. This is as much a Brett Morgen film as it is a David Bowie documentary. Morgen uses some amazing concert footage, interviews, and segments from television shows. The story is told in Bowie’s voice and through his music. It isn’t chronological (it starts with the amazing “Hallo Spaceboy” from the 1995 Outside album) and it doesn’t give you many facts about his life. What it accomplishes is to give you the feel for the man. You don’t get all the greatest hits or even all the eras of his life represented. Mixing the different time periods lends connections to his different personas. Do I know more about his life? No. But I feel like I learned more about Bowie the artist.
- Extras – “David Bowie” (S.2 E.2) (BBC) (2006): “The little fat man who sold his soul…” – Bowie. A couple years after The Office (2001-2003), Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant found new gold with this series about Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais), an up-and-coming actor. By Season Two, Andy has just had the debut of his sitcom, When The Whistle Blows. The reviews are terrible, it’s getting good ratings. and Andy is started to getting recognized for his catchphrase. Bowie’s appearance at the nightclub with Andy is highlighted by Bowie at the piano writing a song about Andy’s plight, “Chubby Little Loser”. I miss the sheer uncomfortableness of these shows when it wasn’t a sub-genre unto itself.
- David Bowie – “Let’s Dance” (1983) (from Let’s Dance): “Let’s sway / You could look into my eyes” With David Bowie, Nile Rodgers, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, this song had to be a hit just from pedigree. Almost 50 years of music and I’d venture to say this is one of the top three that the average person identifies with as a Bowie song. There’s a mix here that still makes this song exciting. The beat hints at the post-disco dance songs of the mid-’80s, very danceable, but Vaughan’s guitar adds the undercurrent of Blues Rock. Bowie’s monotone approach layers in the Hans Christian Andersen “Red Shoes” reference that thematically here would mean to dance even if times are tough.
- Comedy Lab – “Golden Years” (S.2 E.6) (1999) (CH.4) : “It’s A Wonderful Lie on Mars”, “Big Trouble In Little China girl.” They call it Comedy Lab and this is pretty much a 30-minute workshop for The Office and Extras. Clive Meadows (Ricky Gervais) is a Bowie-obsessed owner of Video Zone rental chain who is preparing to be on the Stars in Their Eyes show. Their is a fun mixture of documentary style with more traditional sitcom in the production. The documentary scenes shine and show off what will be a huge sea change in sitcoms the next decade. Gervais’ obsession with Bowie is fun and his “Major Tom” is actually really good.
- Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) (Directed by David Lynch): “Who do you think this is there?” – Phillip Jeffries. The film starts with a deceivingly charming FBI investigation into the murder of Theresa Banks by Agent Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Agent Stanley (Keifer Sutherland). It feels like they could drive comfortably into the Twin Peaks television show. Cut to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and the entrance of Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) who has been missing. Jeffries speech is done in the mode of a Hell and Brimstone Southern Preacher and quickly transitions the rest of the film to chaos and dread. This film is a prequel/sequel to the television show in the best way. It is informed by the events of the future as they were seen through the eyes of Agent Cooper. This gives a life to the dead body of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). The film adds nudity, language, and violence so that we know we are no longer in the world of the television show. Sheryl Lee is wonderfully nuanced for a character we all know is doomed. This movie was not well reviewed at the time of release. I confess to not completely getting the point of it. After 30 years, I appreciate the genius of how Lynch allows scenes to linger like no other director.
Best of the Rest
- By 2001, Bowie had mostly disappeared off the pop culture landscape as an artist and had become the icon called “David Bowie”. It was a straight walk off with Old School rules and my favorite scene in this ridiculous Zoolander film.
- Twenty-four years after “Let’s Dance” climbed up the charts as an iconic early ’80s dance song, Craig David put the 2007 spin on that sound that somehow takes all the soul out of the original song (mostly by neutering the amazing guitar work) and makes it into a song that doesn’t provide much wonder outside of that year. So much of the song is incorporated into the song that David gets a writing credit and hopefully a portion of whatever profits came from it.
- There was an earlier sample of “Let’s Dance”. In 1997, Puff Daddy released his No Way Out album and his “family,” the Notorious B.I.G. and Mase, rapped over just a few altered bars of “Let’s Dance” that was cleverly mashed with B.I.G. singing the chorus of Lisa Stanfield’s “All Around The World.” It’s also missing out on what makes the original so classic but I appreciate the effort to create a more unique work than Craig David later would.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 11/25/2007, it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and a long weekend of turkey, potatoes and leftovers was coming to an end and I was looking at a very busy few weeks ahead at work. My #84 Favorite Movie of All-Time was Babe (1995). This movie is so charming that I would be hard pressed to move it off of this rating despite their being enough more accomplished films I could put above it. Because of cuteness it stays in this spot. In an odd synchronicity, there was a Writer’s Strike also going on and there wasn’t much on outside of Christmas Specials. There was a new episode of one of our family favorite shows at the time.
- Mythbusters – “Pirates 2!” (S.5 E.23) (2007) (DISC): “Alright, pirate. Dig yourself out.” – Kari. Back in 2007, we were so crazy about pirates that this was the second pirate-related episode of this season. With more Pirates of the Caribbean on the way, they went to the well again. The previous pirate myths all were quickly busted. The first one here of turning the row boat upside down and using it like a submarine is also busted. The only myth that’s plausible is the Sand Neck Tie. I get a little anxiety watching Grant get buried to his neck in wet sand. This reminds me how much I did enjoy this show.
1973 in Review
- May – Fantastic Four #134 written by Gerry Conway and art by John Buscema. I feel like their son, Franklin, was getting kidnapped every third or fourth issue.
- May 5 – Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby.
- May – Columbo is part of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie rotation and is followed on Sunday nights by Night Gallery.
What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?
Kazbars: Triple Chocolate
My first trip into Hostess’ Kazbar Land was very positive. It’s hard to put the flavor into perspective. The best I can do it that it’s the Hostess Cupcake with a crunchy layer inside. The chocolate is familiar to fans of Hostess products, as is the thick frosting covering. The crunchy layer is like having a Rice Krispie inside. Put this one on your radar for your sweet tooth.
Mountain Dew Kickstart: Strawberry Start-Up
It’s easy to forget the Kickstart line from Mountain Dew. It’s a favorite of mine. It sits in a good spot of less sugar and less caffeine than the regular soda and the GameFuel releases. But when they haven’t released a new flavor in four years, I even see it being relegate to some remote shelves at convenience stores. The flavor here seems to just be the “announced but not released” strawberry lemonade. It’s got most a strawberry flavor and I feel like there’s another fruit that’s not lemon that has a spot in the mix. A good summer release.
Mountain Dew: Summer Freeze
Another sure sign of summer. In the tradition of popsicle style flavors of Liberty Brew and Dew-S-A, this Summer Freeze is more like what we used to call a Bomb Pop. There’s a mix cherry, lemon, and raspberry flavors here that come across as more of a blue raspberry when mixed. Ultimately, it isn’t a flavor you’d like to have all the time. It’s a bit too syrupy and the fruity flavor isn’t that great after the first few sips. It’s still fun and the can is one of their best designs yet.
“Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall into my arms
And tremble like a flower” – Bowie