From the Couch Hole: With Parts Made in Japan

Previously on FTCH, don’t look now but there was a photograph of the masque of Red Death that led to the fall of the House of Usher. Who saw her die in Twin Peaks? It might be in the honey butter biscuits. I’m in San Antonio for the weekend to celebrate some belated spooky times with some friends. The weather has turned to fall and we can start the countdown to the best eating holiday of the year. This week the wind blows all five nights at Freddy’s. The sinner is Dolores Roach and we’re enlightened by Mr. Roboto. Remember, FTCH is perfect this season with runners in scoring position.

Pop Culture Ephemera

“My good mood felt like an endangered species.” – Isabel
  • Maggie Stiefvater – Sinner (2014) (Scholastic Press): “It was like when you had been unhappy and didn’t know it until you weren’t anymore.” – Cole. This is Book #4 in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy. Yes. That’s correct and it’s how the book felt the whole time. The YA werewolf trilogy takes place in Mercy Falls, Minnesota. This book ditches the two main characters and moves two secondary characters, Cole and Isabel, to Los Angeles. Cole is trying to relaunch his music career on a web-based reality show, and Isabel has moved their with her parents to go to college after the death of her brother in the original trilogy. The biggest problem is that the author has relegated the werewolf elements to the back burner. To make matters worse, the love story just isn’t that interesting because of the negative attitude of Isabel. It isn’t just a matter of Cole and Isabel finding love and becoming more positive. It is Isabel continually shattering any good moment without any reward. I’m disappointed because I like Steifvater’s writing and the trilogy was very entertaining.
  • The Horror of Dolores Roach – “They Called Me Magic Hands” (S.1 E.1) (AMAZON) (2023): It has “horror” in the title and the title character shows up as a ghost in the first couple minutes of this episode and begins by telling us her story. Dolores Roach (Justina Machado) is released from years in prison and returns to New York City to try to find her ex-boyfriend, get an empanada, and start her life over. The Sweeney Todd references are all over this first episode so I have an idea where this is headed. It’s off to a good start and while there are some production values lacking, it’s a compelling cast and I’ll watch all of this season.
  • Styx – “Mr. Roboto” (1983) (from Kilroy Was Here): “For helping me escape, when I needed to / Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Kilroy (Dennis DeYoung) is put in prison by Dr. Everett Righteous (James Young) of the Majority for Musical Morality. He escapes by overpowering a robot and escapes inside the robot as a Roboto until he is unmasked by Jonathan Chance (Tommy Shaw). This song and album was a reaction to the rise of the Moral Majority and what would eventually be a larger attempt to ban record sales to minors. Styx was already suffering backlash because of the mythological ties to their group name. With the great keyboard work on this song, it almost becomes a Dennis DeYoung solo song. It’s been pointed to as “jump the shark” moment for the band. Listening to it now and the album as a whole, this is a solid album that isn’t a step down from their albums previous to this release. I did distance from this song for decades but I’ve come to embrace the power of the vocoder and keyboard combination.
“I’m just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control.” – Dennis DeYoung
  • The Wind (2018) (Directed by Emma Tammi): “I don’t suspect God has much business out here.” Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) and Isaac live in a remote area of the Western plains in the late 1800s until neighbors settle in a hose across the prairie. There isn’t much of a plot other than the loneliness and the never-ending wind. This is a horror film at heart. The setting alone suggests a gothic Western if such a genre exists. Emma Tammi has a good eye as a director for some seriously creepy scenes and great jump scares for the few true elements of horror here. This is one of those films that starts with a creepy vibe and it never lets up. It’s told all through Lizzy’s point of view and frustratingly non-linear narrative. If you can fight through that, there’s some really great stuff here.
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023) (Directed by Emma Tammi): “Just keep your eyes on the monitors and keep people out. Piece of cake.” – Steve. Mike (Josh Hutcherson) takes a job as a night security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and discovers that there are dark secrets. The likable cast including Piper Rubio as his little sister, Matthew Lillard (who just feels at home in horror films) as his boss, and Elizabeth Lail (You) as the love interest. This film is held back only by the fact that it had to have a plot. Director Tammi has shown me this week that she has the chops to create creepy scenes with great camerawork, edits, and sound design (like the Romantics song refrain at key points). I’m surprised how much you can put into a PG-13 horror film these days. I’m not familiar with the videogame and I’m sure that I’m missing some inside references. If anything, this creepy film drops enough hints at other disturbing events that it feels like a prequel to a franchise of other stories with the same setting and group of characters. I’d be remiss not to give a shout out to the Henson’s Creature Shop for some really great character design.
“I hear the secrets that you keep.” –

Best of the Rest

  • This song by the Polysics isn’t a cover but it’s not not a cover either. This re-appropriates the Japanese language lyrics and turns it into a fun robot J-Pop song from 2002. “Fun” being the appropriate word.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
  • Ocean Spray doesn’t take the cranberry seriously. We are the biggest benefactors of their wacky sense of humor. Don’t show this to anyone who might be making your Thanksgiving dinner.
Power Your Party
Power Your Holidays
  • Gustave Dore was one of the most in-demand artists of his age in the late 1800s. He illustrated Milton and Dante editions but he is most famous for his illustrations in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. His illustrations on Poe’s The Raven fit his style more than any of those in my opinion. It’s still one of my favorite poems to be heard read by a talented voice.

Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback

  • On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 5/25/2008, it was Memorial Day weekend and the heat was on. After Caleb’s t-ball, we were going to find time to see the new Indiana Jones. My #82 Favorite Film Of All-Time was Pulp Fiction (1994). I have kept waiting to tire of this film and drop it down my ratings. It hasn’t happened and I think it’s closer to a #50 ranking for me now. There are so many things that this film did right that I can look past any of the faults. It was a terrible week as the summer television season started except for the finale of Lost (ABC). The trash was plentiful but there’s one that still catches my eye.
    • Heatstroke (2008) (SCI-FI) (Directed by Andrew Prowse): “Welcome to Hell on Earth.” – Tagline. I wonder if even in 2008 that “From the team that brought you Farscape” made any difference. The temperature of the Earth is rising degree by degree so that velociraptors from Space can take over the Earth. Their nefarious plan is about to be ruined by Capt. Steve O’Bannon (D.B. Sweeney) and supermodel Caroline (Danica McKellar). While you can usually count on some entertaining dinosaur fights in these Saturday night Sci-Fi films of this era, it just isn’t here. It has the trifecta of terrible acting, terrible effects, and terrible script. The only remarkable thing of note is that Danica McKellar is fun and should have been cast in more projects in the 2000s. You really got to push through four bad Sci-Fi films to get to an entertaining one. This is not one of the good ones.

1973 in Review

“Only the Shadow knows!”
  • November – Batman #253 (DC Comics): Written by Dennis O’Neil. Art by Dick Giordano. A relatively basic team-up where the Shadow helps Batman break up a counterfeiting ring.
  • November 5 – The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco starts service under San Francisco Bay from Daly City to San Francisco.
  • November 10-16 – TV Guide: Nov.10-16. Art by Charles Santore highlights a week ahead of movie debuts and specials for the important Sweeps Month.
A very special week.

What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?

Enlightened: Vanilla Dark Chocolate (Metallica Ed.)

The guitar-shaped ice cream bar helps the Metallica charity that provides food to local food banks. This is my first experience with Enlightened and it was a pretty tasty ice cream bar. The dark chocolate does not come across as a “diet bar”. It’s a clever design, good flavor, and helps a charity. Boom.

Ruffles: Flamin’ Hot Queso Cheese

The proper order of operation in the title should be Queso Cheese and the maybe something like Sour Cream and then finally Flamin’ Hot. There is a Lebron James bag out now that is Flamin’ Hot Cheddar Sour Cream that is almost indistinguishable from these. Despite the red color, this is overwhelmingly queso cheese and not enough flamin’ hot to make a difference.

HEB: Holiday Stuffing Ridged Potato Chips

The Holiday Stuffing chips are back at HEB. My first tasted of these was last year and now it’s becoming as much of a tradition as Sugar Cookie creamer, Holiday Oreos, and Christmas Crunch cereal. I’m more convinced this year that there’s a chicken broth taste underlying the initial flavor. Salty? Yes, but not in an overpowering way that would deter me from finishing the whole bag in a couple sittings.

“I’m just a man who needed someone and somewhere to hide to keep me alive
Just keep me alive, somewhere to hide, to keep me alive” – Dennis DeYoung

Stay Hard


Shawn Bourdo

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