"Did Ding Dongs always taste like crap?" and other pop culture musings

“Did Ding Dongs always taste like crap” was my original title AND subject of this post. But then I thought to myself, That can’t be your whole post, OSM. You’re a grown-ass woman with a writing degree. You can’t just write about Ding Dongs, silly lady.

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So I decided, instead, to use this week’s column to write out some thoughts I’ve had about pop-culture stuff.

(But before I begin - seriously. DID Ding Dongs always taste like a waxy Mr. Clean eraser? I bought a box of them this weekend for my son's soccer team.

As excited as I was about the kids getting Ding Dongs, I may have been even more excited for myself because I was about to indulge in a childhood taste memory. DING DONGS, y’all! Those delicious little chocolate hockey pucks wrapped in thin chocolate wrapping paper? So great.

They smelled the same, but….Jayzus. What the hell happened to Ding Dongs?)

On to more serious things.

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Some thoughts on American Idol

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    • I think Katy Perry is awkward and hilarious and doesn’t take herself too seriously and I want her to be my friend.
    • I would like to thank the producers for  - so far - leaving the embarrassing group dance numbers out of the reboot.
    • It’s not goodbye, Ada Vox! Don’t worry, sweetie. I'm sure you'll have a bright future in the TV landscape. You're definitely one of the biggest winners this season.
    • Just No to the a cappella group ABC was hawking last night. D Cappella? By-cappella. Even if the AI exposure gets you some momentum, you will always be the Color Me Bad to Pentatonix’ Backstreet Boys. We can’t handle more than one a cappella supergroup per generation.
    • Where can the American Idol sets even go from here? Y’all remember Season One? Those sets were sub-low-budget, man. I think the pendulum might have to swing back at some point. I’m not saying I hate the sets. I think they are beautiful. I’m just saying Whoa, partner.  Whoaahhhh there, there with those sets. That’s all.

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(What was different about the Ding Dongs this weekend? Were they even different? Were they the same Ding Dongs I had as a kid, but back then I LIKED that waxy coated chemical disk? Or have they compromised the Ding Dong recipe in the last forty years? Either way, eating the Ding Dong was like a kick in the nostalgia ding dong. I ate three to make sure I wasn't missing something.)

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"I Feel Pretty" - a mini review

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I had been so psyched about this movie. And I didn't NOT enjoy it. It was fine.

But never in a million years did I think that the previews would give away the best bits in this film. I usually have a pretty good radar for those trailers.

Turns out, not only were the best bits of the movie in the trailers, those bits were better edited for comic timing than they were in the movie!

I don’t think it was Amy Schumer’s fault. I don’t even necessarily blame the screenwriter, as I allow ample wiggle room for highly unlikely denouements in comedies. Writing a third act with integrity and adult sensibility is extra challenging since comedy relies so heavily on our enthusiastic willingness to suspend disbelief. (SURE, Mom and Daughter switched bodies in Freaky Friday. SURE the spy movie send-up on Pitch Perfect 3. SURE, all of Forrest Gump. Ridiculousness is often the price we pay to feel comedy in our bones) 

So the flimflam storyline of I Feel Pretty was not its Achilles' heel.

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(Okay…I don’t mean to harp on those Ding Dongs, but: did they get hella smaller since I last had them? And no, it’s not because my hands have gotten bigger. My Tracey Gold hands haven’t grown since fourth grade, and Ding Dongs used to cover my entire palm. Now look.)

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Okay. Back to the mini review.

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The problem with I Feel Pretty, IMHO, was the directing/editing. The pacing was...off. 

If comedy is timing, then film editors have all the power. It was cut like a rom-com, but needed to be cut like a comedy: more reactions from the ensemble, quicker banter, less time to reset between bits. etc.

Also, I suspect a better director could have also pulled a stronger performance out of its star. I think many talented, super-funny people have it in them to rock dramatic roles, for I believe super-funny people are extremely in touch with the super-sad in life. It’s that awareness that drives them to not only seek the funny things in the world but also to share them with others.

Amy gave it her all. I could see that. She probably should have been encouraged to riff a bit more, but regardless, that girl’s got more in her and I believe her best work is still ahead. Maybe not this year, and maybe not the next, but it’s coming.

(Hey. Ding Dongs, again. One of the soccer parents pointed out that they used to be wrapped in foil. Heck yah!!  Remember how you had to peel foil off the ding dongs? That was part of Dong Dong awesomeness. Everyone had their own unique peel style, much like an Oreo-eating style, or a “toy in the cereal”-discovery style. Now it’s just the same boring-ass clear wrapper that contains every cheap piece of jewelry I buy from China.)

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Finally: Can we talk about how crazy dark Handmaid’s Tale is???

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It took me a long time to finally take the plunge. When that Netflix show premiered, I heard everyone say it was so scary because “it felt like it could happen,” and that wasn’t my idea of entertainment. Not when I truly believed (still do) that there is a dangerous current in the water that threatens to wash away whole beaches of freedom in this country.

It took a TV mentor - a trusted friend - to persuade me to return to The Handmaid’s Tale.

I almost didn’t make it through the first episode. No spoilers here, but no decent mother can watch that show without looking away from the screen and/or turning it off to collect themselves before continuing.

But the level of artistry going on in that show was undeniable, and Elizabeth Moss is a tour de force. If you’ve ever worked in TV/film production, you know what hella acting chops someone has to have to be present when “action” is called in those scenes. 

So I binged on Season One, watched it with one eye open, and was happy for the break.

(Real quick: Did Ding Dongs used to have real sugar but then switch to high fructose corn syrup or something? Is that why they taste like that?)

The Handmaid’s Tale is back, now. and Season 2, episode 1 is the darkest piece of “entertainment” I've seen since Roots.

Even more disturbing to me than the kitchen scene, the stadium scene, the Boston Globe scene - any of the scenes - is the relative proximity of the premise to the ideological endgame for many in power, today. To think that we may have been given a symbolic crystal ball and could still end up...Handmaidened? It's a thought as terrifying as the Colonies. It doesn't happen overnight. It happens bit by bit...

(I mean…I knew back then that Ding Dongs weren’t necessarily good for us. Of course not! They were mass produced snacks that were conceived, created, and delivered without direct contact with the hands of one real human being.

Even so, once upon a time, Ding Dongs were…. good.)

Come on, America! You ruin good things, then call it “progress.” Just, stop.

Ding Dongs.

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That's my piece, and that's my peace. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my silly words. It truly means the world to me. Carry on...

OSM

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