Pop Culture Ephemera
- Carl Hiaasen – Stormy Weather (1995) (Knopf): “’Jail will not make an impression on this woman. Don’t waste your time.’ That’s a quote.” – Skink. I picked back up with the crazy crime scene in Florida with the third entry of the Skink series. This time a hurricane hits Southern Florida in the middle of tourism season. The hurricane happens just as the book begins and is just a catalyst to bring together our usual crazy cast of characters including the aforementioned Skink and his straight man, Florida State Trooper Jim Tile. It was a bit longer than the previous novels and there aren’t too many redeeming characters. The “good guy”, Augustine in this book, is different than previous novels in that he doesn’t have a previous connection to private investigation or the police. There’s a delicious Elmore Leonard-ish moment as all characters are drawn for different reasons to a hotel in the Keys. I enjoyed the book but it’s hard to put it into words because you are really just a passenger along the way. It isn’t a crime novel in any traditional sense, it isn’t a caper novel, and it isn’t a thriller except in spurts. Therefore, when the book ends, it just feels like a timer ran out and not that there was a logical conclusion. Eventually I will pick up the next book in the series to follow our favorite ex-governor in a shower cap.
- Doctor Who – “The War Games Ep. 3” (S.6 E.37) (BBC) (1969): After three years, over forty episodes per year and, over five million viewers per week, it was time to give the show a boost before the actors were completely burned out. The end of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions, Jamie (Frazier Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury), is a ten-episode monumental story that changes the show forever. The writing by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks is remarkably forward thinking. The show had been stuck on a soundstage for most of the past few seasons. This story moves the action outdoors to a planet that has “time zones”. These “time zones” are times of world conflict in history, including landing in the middle of WWI to start the series and later fall in the American Civil War. The B&W era will also end here but it fits the era of the wars perfectly. This episode is where we finally get some perspective as to what is happening on the planet and we are now in a world with Time Lords. This story gives the series a much needed boost and even at ten parts, doesn’t feel padded after a slower two episodes to start.
- David Bowie – “Space Oddity” (1969) (from Space Oddity): “Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare.” The first song on the first side of Bowie’s second album is where Bowie as we know him was born. Because of the timing of the release, it was natural to assume it was influenced by Apollo 11 that summer. It’s much easier to feel the weight of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) on the concept of the song. It’s the ultimate song of isolation (forever) and going into yourself with introspection. Is it about heroin? It very well could be but there’s a more universal message about being alone. His 12-string guitar has such a beautiful tone here, it transport me to a peaceful place.
- Taken – “Taken” (Ep.10) (SCI-FI) (2002): “Life, all life, is about asking questions. Not knowing answers.” – Allie. The pitch from Steven Spielberg to Dreamworks had to go something like this.
- “I’ve got this story that will go from1944 to 2002. It will follow three families, one who are frequently abducted, one who protect the crashed aliens from Roswell, and one who try to hide the alien existence from the public. Have you seen my movie Close Encounters? I’m going to pull lots of imagery from that. Remember my movie E.T.? I’ve got this child actress, Dakota Fanning, who is going to narrate the series and star in the last third. You’ll forget Drew Barrymore, trust me. And did I mention The X-Files? I didn’t do that show, that was Chris Carter, but lots of people seem to like it and I’ll make sure that Matt Frewer and Heather Donahue serve as your Mulder and Scully but with more awkward love. Heather Donahue? Remember The Blair Witch Project? I didn’t do that one but she was in it and I’ll include some spooky things because people liked that movie. The last episode will be a real tearjerker. Oh yeah, and it’s going to be about 20 hours long.”
- Then I imagine that Dreamworks took a second to whisper amongst themselves and then said, “Steven, you get 10 nights in December of 2002 on Sci-Fi Channel. You know that channel? The one that repeats Earth: Final Conflict and Earth 2 every night. No? Oh, you mean you don’t know the difference between those two shows? Neither do we. And unfortunately, your show will be lost and forgotten in popular memory before 20y years have passed.” I’m guessing but I think that’s close.
- Moonshine War (1970) (Directed by Richard Quine): I read and reviewed this book by Elmore Leonard last Summer. I found the plot of the government and a bootlegger both trying to steal Son Martin’s dead father’s hidden whiskey stash to be closer to Leonard’s Westerns than his Crime novels. Leonard was given the opportunity to turn the complex twists and turns of the novel into a screenplay that could tell the story in ninety minutes. I knew there would be a problem right away as they tried to summarize the setting and first part of the story in a song over the opening credits. The overall problem is that director Quine is trying to turn a script that has a good balance of humor and action into a Bonnie and Clyde style film. That ends up turning it into a film with humor that isn’t allowed to develop and action that highlights the dark elements of the story. The last worst part is that the casting is mixed up for what it was in my head. Alan Alda is Son Martin with a terrible Southern accent when he should have been the Frank Long character. Patrick McGooohan is Frank Long and turns him into too much of an anti-hero. Lee Hazelwood doesn’t have the same evil electricity as Dual Meaders that I imagined in the book. The adaptation could have benefited from another thirty minutes to let the characters develop and find the humor of the book. As it is, it’s mostly just a cruel spirirted B-movie.
Best of the Rest
- Inserting Kumail Nanjiani into viral internet videos to tell folks they are going to need more Tide is my favorite new ad of the week.
- I have next to no interest in all the press coming out of SXSW over Evil Dead Rise. I do get excited when I hear Bruce Campbell say he’d return to the character if Sam Raimi was directing. I know that it’s the press trying to create a story to pit Tapert against Campbell and Tapert wants to make money, but this current film doesn’t appear to have the heart that I love about this series.
- Now he’s just teasing us. Mike Flannagan is moving ahead with his Dark Tower adaptation even though we don’t know where it will air or exactly the format. Now he drops that maybe we’ll see some Doctor Sleep characters. I love Dandelo and Rosie the Hat but let’s just get ourselves through one season before you start talking about characters that would be in the seventh season of the story.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 10/14/2007, still temps in the 90s but this was a weekend that changed our family for the good. A runaway Westie (we would later know to be named “Sully”) ended up at our home for the weekend and we fell in love with him. That would lead to us getting Miles, the good boy. And that would lead to my girl, Rigby, joining the household in 2019. I called Dial M For Murder (1954) as my #76 favorite film. That’s just wrong. I’ll have to see the Hitchcock films in front of this but I know there’s a better choice and while this is interesting, it’s no longer even a Top 200 for me. I was amused that Cavemen was still on and that I wasn’t watching Pushing Daisies yet. There was a new show debuting that I had an eye on.
- Viva Laughlin – “Pilot” (S.1 E.1) (CBS) (2007): A remake of the BBC series Blackpool (2004-2006) that was aired here on BBC America as Viva Blackpool. The original was a murder mystery with musical interludes that centered around a casino in Blackpool and I remembered loving for David Tenant’s police investigator character. This had initial promise with Sebastian Tilinger (The Wolf of Wall Street) as a star and small roles for favorites like Madchen Amick and Melanie Griffith and even Hugh Jackman. The result is a mess of karaoke versions of popular songs (“Sympathy For The Devil”, “Let It Ride”, and “One Way Or Another” here) and an uninteresting plot when moved to Nevada. This is no Glee and it certainly doesn’t belong on CBS where they tried to team it with C.S.I. The Pilot doesn’t have anything to sink your teeth into and I can see why it was cancelled after two episodes and generally wiped from our collective memories.
1973 in Review
- March – QuikTrip gas stations debut fountain soda options.
- March 24 – Andre the Giant (26) debuts in Philadelphia after being signed by the World Wide Wrestling Federation by Vince McMahon.
- March 20 – Roberto Clemente is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame just months after dying in a plane crash on December 31, 1972.
What the Hell Did I Put in My Mouth?
Prime: Ice Pop
I dipped back into the Hydration Drink world recently. I like Ice Pops but it’s not a liquid item. What happens when the Ice Pop (we called them Rocket Pops) melts is just a fruity mess of flavor. This is pretty much that mess. Whatever blue, white, and red are separately, it tastes like a generic fruit punch to me. I’m not as happy with this as I was with the lemon-lime.
Tostitos Rounds: Three Cheese
I didn’t look at the ingredients but I had to look at the front to make sure it it said “Three Cheese” and not “Chemical Cheese”. What I taste is still chemicals. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be three different cheeses but “three cheese” is a cheese made in a laboratory? I don’t know but dang I expect more from Tostitos. I didn’t dip these in salsa because I didn’t want to ruin a favorite salsa. I hate being disappointed by tortilla chips.
Blue Bell Ice Cream: I Heart Cereal
The correct question should be “Do you heart Fruity Pebbles?” There was obviously some branding issue that they couldn’t use the “Fruity Pebbles” name. This isn’t just a vanilla ice cream with Fruity Pebbles. This is fruity cereal ice cream with “Fruity Pebbles”-ish cereal in it. It’s all subtle and has a pleasant flavor. The cereal stays fresh and has a distinct cereal crunch as you eat the bowl. If you like the cereal, this is a winner.
“I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today.” – David Bowie