Monday, January 23, 2017

Day of the Storm

It wasn't raining when I got up this morning. It was cloudy and very windy. I drowned out the wind with Schoolhouse Rock. Having enjoyed the Best of CD yesterday, I thought I'd run some of the actual cartoons. Multiplication Rock is the very first segment from 1973. It features one of the biggest hit numbers from the entire series, the ballad "Three Is a Magic Number." "Figure Eight," "Elementary" (times two), and "Ready or Not, Here I Come" (times five) are also fun.

Money Rock debuted much later, in the mid-90's. It's not generally that well-regarded, but some of the shorts are fairly catchy. Along with the pointed "Tyrannosaurus Debt," I like "Dollars and Sense" (on banks and loans) and "This for That" (on bartering and the history of money).

Went on the computer for a little while. I did sign up for taxi service Uber...but I should have read further on the site. First of all, you do have to pay a fee to get where you're going, sometimes as much as 10 dollars or more to get a half-hour. Second, you need an app to call them when you need them. I have a very old cell phone that doesn't support apps. They may be useful for short rides to work when all else fails, but when I want to go further than a few minutes, I think I'll stick to the bus and train.

I also did a little research on NJ services. I don't think I can get Social Security, but there are other programs I could look into, including Food Stamps. I may try applying online, though I do want to talk to the family first. I'll need a ride to get to Camden for interviews.

Broke around 2 for a late lunch. Made Cranberry Flummery while watching Good Eats. The storm was in full swing by this time, with gale-force winds and heavy showers. I thought "Going Dutch" was appropriate. While I don't have a grill, a Dutch oven, or the patience to bake on the grill, that didn't stop some of Alton's recipes from sounding delicious (especially the cherry clafouti). "Going Crackers" proves that yes, you can make your favorite cracker recipes, from graham to seeded, without ever opening a box.

Spent the rest of the afternoon working on stories. Leia asks Commander Kes Dameron and two of his men if he saw Han and his carriage on the road. Nope, all they saw was a dirty servant in an broken-down hay cart pulled by an old horse. Obi-Wan explains about the time limit on his magic. Leia and Luke want him to take them to Han right away, but the old magician insists that they wait for morning.

The next day, Han is on cloud nine. Even if he never sees Leia again, at least he got to spend one night with her. Unfortunately, his behavior has been noticed by a suspicious Boba Fett. He's even more suspicious when he overhears two of Jabba's men talking about holding Obi-Wan and Luke for ransom and forcing Leia to marry one of them. He takes off on Falcon, but Boba Fett and the bandits he attacked a few days before capture him.

He's brought back to Jabba's cellar bound and gagged. Jabba has no desire for him to win his princess, or for her to recognize him. Fett gleefully cuts his face and chops off his shaggy red-brown hair. They're going to coat him in metal and make him into a statue when the royal carriage arrives. Jabba has him locked in an empty wine barrel instead.

I made a quick "spinach pancake" (spinach, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms) for dinner while watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. We skip ahead to 1957. Indy is still searching for treasures and still fighting bad guys, but otherwise, many things have changed. It's the Russians who are after him now, especially Lieutenant Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). She wants him to find a certain crystal skull that may lead to a lost temple where a vast treasure - including more skulls - is said to be hidden. Indy has to battle his way out of Russian jeeps, man-eating ants, and a temple that may be more out-of-this-world that he's ready for. Meanwhile, a greaser named Mutt (Shia LaBouf) is also after the skull...and he leads Indy to his long-lost former flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen).

I don't hate this as much as a lot of people do, but it does have its problems. LaBouf does feel out of place as Mutt. I have no idea why they even had the character of Mac, Indy's friend. This was his first appearance, and it feels hard to care about what he does or what he means to Indy the way we're supposed to. And yes, some of the action is a little over the top, especially the whole thing with the monkeys. As with the Star Wars prequels, the obvious CGI in places tends to take one out of the serial atmosphere, rather than add to it.

On the other hand, I actually like the sci-fi oriented plot. It's creative, it suits the era, and it's no stranger than any of the other stories in the series. Indy's reunion with Marion is beautifully handled, too, and I thought Cate Blanchett made a nice, hissable villain.

Is it the worst of the series? No. (I still think that's Temple of Doom.)  Is it the best? In all honesty...not really. It is an enjoyable sci-fi action tale with some really nifty fight sequences. If you're a fan of the other Indiana Jones movies, swing on over...but I'd recommend at least seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark before coming here to understand Indy's relationship with Marion a bit better.

Finished out the night with another campy sci-fi tale, the 1980 Flash Gordon. This one is a tad bit more straightforward. New York Jets quarterback Flash (Sam Jones) finds himself thrust into space with the lovely travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and the crazy scientist Zarkov (Topol). It seems the evil dictator Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydrow) is using a ray that's causing the major weather disturbances on Earth. Flash will literally fight to the death in order to win his lady love and bring together the Prince Barin (Timothy Dalton) and his people of the forests and King Vultan and his hawk men (Brian Blessed).

Candy colored lunacy is now a cult favorite, with an awesome Queen score. If you love unabashedly wacky space opera that doesn't take itself seriously for a second, you'll want to look up this one.

And...yeah. The rain and wind has continued all day. I never left the house. I work until 4 tomorrow. I'll have to put off the laundry until Wednesday again.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I am the Model of a Writer Individual

I didn't mean to stay up as late as I did last night! I barely had enough time for some music and cereal. Continued last night's girl-power theme with the soundtrack to the 2000 version of Charlie's Angels. I actually saw this in the theater in college and loved it, although I wouldn't acquire the soundtrack until nearly a decade later. Destiny Child's "Independent Woman" is my favorite of the new songs written directly for this recording.

Work wasn't bad when I arrived. In fact, it was downright quiet. I spent the first half of my shift mostly bagging. This changed around 12:30. People must have heard the weather reports. We're supposed to get rain and wind all day tomorrow. We were mobbed from then on. I rounded up carts for most of the second half, even when we had at least two or three baggers outside with me.

I headed straight home after work. Changed and relaxed while reading books on current job hunting tips. Enjoyed some jazz while I read.

It was lightly misting when I went to and from work. Thankfully, all it did at work was look gloomy. By quarter after 3, the mist had returned, heavier this time. I walked to Dad's. It's a lot easier to hold an umbrella when you walk.

Jessa and Joe were already there with Dad and Jodie when I arrived. Jodie had her heavenly lasagna for an early dinner, along with Caesar Salad and French bread and butter. It was absolutely amazing. Really hit the spot on such a dreary day.

Wish I could say the same thing about the game. The Packers were absolutely awful today. I'm glad my cousin Mark, a long-time Packers fan, had to work. They couldn't keep their hands on the ball. I lost count of how many times a Packer dropped the ball at a crucial moment, or it went through their fingers, or they just plain lost the darn thing. I finally gave up and left in the 3rd quarter when it was 38-7. The Packers did get on the board a little more after that, but it wasn't enough to win. The Falcons won 44-21 and will be going to the Super Bowl in two weeks.

(The Steelers didn't do much better against the Patriots later in the evening. The Patriots crushed them. 36-17. Like they need to go to the Super Bowl again.)

I needed money for doing the laundry tomorrow. I was originally going to go to WaWa, but CVS is closer to Dad's. It wasn't even misting by the time I headed down the hill to the border between Oaklyn and Collingswood, just damp and chilly. I was really only there for money, but you can't take out money without buying something. I've been meaning to replace my rubber bands, anyway.

Finished the night at home, listening to CDs and working on things online. I thought two kids' titles I'd put off listening to would cheer me up and get my mind off the nasty weather. Animaniacs is music from the much-loved 90's Warners anthology show. My favorites are the educational numbers performed by Yakko Warner. I'll bet many 90's kids learned their US states and capitals from "Wakko's America," the countries on Earth from "Wakko's World," and the planets and galaxies from "Wakko's Universe" and "The Planets." For some reason, they were also very fond of Gilbert and Sullivan spoofs. "I am the Model of a Cartoon Individual" is the stand-out here.

The Best of Schoolhouse Rock features cherry-picked numbers from the four original Schoolhouse Rock segments (and the later Money Rock). Favorites here include "Figure Eight," "Three Is a Magic Number," "Unpack Your Adjectives," "Interplanet Janet," and "Tyrannosaurus Debt."

And thank goodness I have off tomorrow! It sounds like the weather's supposed to get really nasty. I won't have to be out in it, unless it lets up enough for me to do the laundry.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

All Kinds of Girl Power

I got a fast start this morning. Barely had time for breakfast and an episode of The Backyardigans. Uniqua is a librarian in Vejos, California, who really loves her work...but when a book is overdue, she becomes the Zorro-like "Masked Retriever" to get it back. The Masked Retriever has her greatest challenge yet in Don Austin, who will take his book over the border in order to keep it!

Work was a lot busier than it has been. The weather may have contributed. It was dark, gloomy, and slightly foggy all day. Thankfully, I only had to round up carts once, for a half-hour. There was plenty of help. I mostly bagged, gathered baskets, and brought out plastic bags.

My schedule next week is...odd. I work the same amount of hours, but I have three days off (Monday and next Friday and Saturday) and long hours when I do work. And even stranger, I'm off for the big open house on Friday! Which isn't entirely a bad thing. I won't need to buy the black pants they were requiring all employees to wear that day (it's more "professional," supposedly), and I'll get to see what the samples are like without having to rush.

I had a ton of grocery shopping to do today. And of course, one of the things I needed to restock was meat...which was not on a good sale. I ended up with the cheapest hot dogs they had. Also restocked white and brown sugar, canned pineapple and apricots, skim milk, yogurt, cereal (went with shredded wheat this time - the Acme generic cereal is still really cheap), cheese, peanut butter, mouthwash (buy one-get one on the Acme generic), bananas, and cranberries. Took advantage of a lot of dollar sales to grab soap, a bag of cut up vegetables, a bag of oranges, celery, and a bag of spinach.

Worked on a new story idea when I got home. I really wanted to do a straight "Beauty and the Beast" Star Wars story, but there's a bunch of ones out there, mainly for Anakin/Padme or Rey/Ben Solo. (Though I've seen at least one that was Han/Luke.) I considered doing it with Han and Leia...but I'd like to do more stories that have the Original Trilogy and Sequel Trilogy casts working together. I'm sick and tired of all the whining that one is inferior to the other, just because Luke, Leia, and Han's lives didn't work out perfectly.

The year is 1903. Social worker Leia Organya is seeking her brother Luke, along with her trio of wards, Rey, Jessica, and Kaydel. The four take shelter from a terrible blizzard in a run-down manor house in the Connecticut countryside outside of New York. To Leia's surprise, the snow doesn't extend into the lush, flower-filled grounds. Luke reveals that he was forced to stay by a hideous beast and three younger animals, merely because he took a rose for sweet little Rey. Leia insists that she should be the one to take Luke's place, but the girls won't leave their adoptive mother. In the end, the Beast insists that all the women remain.

As Leia and her wards further explore the manor house and discover its secrets, they learn that not everything in the manor is what it seems to be. The four creatures are under the evil spell of a nasty mayor who may or may not have evil powers of his own...and the oldest is familiar to Leia. Leia and her wards discover that they must look beyond the surface, of the manor and its occupants, to truly break the spell and reveal their hearts' desires.

Oh, and I've been working on a new project these last few nights. I joined Pinterest. Right now, it's mainly for story inspiration, ideas for fun with my dolls, recipes, and much-needed positive quotes. Here's my very full Star Wars Story Inspiration page, filled with photos that are either intended to give me ideas (or "feels" as fans say) for stories, or just ones that I like (humor and fan jokes included).

My Star Wars Story Inspiration Pinterest page

I continued the inspiration with some Girl Power during dinner and afterwards tonight, in honor of today's Women's March. (Which I support. I love seeing women come together, and I don't like politics and/or politicians, period.) Wonder Woman teaches the next generation, aka her teen sister Wonder Girl, to kick ass in the first season finale, "Wonder Woman In Hollywood." Diana is in Hollywood with Steve Trevor to film a morale-lifting move about the exploits of four military heroes, including Steve. Dru shows up to ask Diana to come home, but she sticks around when her older sister decides the youngest of the four heroes (Robert Hayes) bears watching. Someone has been kidnapping these heroes right off the set...and if the Wonder ladies don't act soon, their boys will be next.

Did last year's version of Ghostbusters after my shower. This time, it's four smart women (Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones) who get to kick ghost rear. Instead of all of them working at the same place, Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is the one working at Columbia. Instead of getting the tenure she wants, she's fired when she and her friend Abby (McCarthy) and Abby's partner Jillian (McKinnon) discover a genuine ghost in an old mansion. Trouble is, in this time of Internet hoaxes and easily doctored everything, no one believes them...except for subway worker Patty (Jones), who actually witnessed a haunting, and their hot receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). It takes a plot by a nut who wants to destroy humanity to bring these five together...and show them that your friends always have your back, even when the rest of the world doesn't.

Oooh, this was fun. While McCarthy and Wiig were the headliners, my favorites were brazen gizmo queen McKinnon and down-to-Earth Jones. Helmsworth is having a blast playing against type as a dim-witted hunk, too. The special effects are just as good as the original, allowing the Ghostbusters to interest more with the actual ghosts and to widen the scope of the action sequences. (And Slimer even returns briefly.) Look for a couple of actors from the previous movies in cameos as well (including Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson).

Biggest complaint? Some of the scatological humor doesn't always land, and the commentary on Internet hoaxes and what is real and what isn't seems a bit preachy and annoying after a while. Otherwise, I absolutely loved this. I may have to pick this one up after it's been out for a while and the price has come down. If you're looking for a fresh take on one of the 80's biggest franchises and can accept some changes, this is hilarious and fun and well worth your time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Magic In the Rain

It was raining when I awoke this morning...and that rain would continue in some capacity for most of the day. I cheered myself up with more Bowery Boys while I made the bed and did a few small chores around the apartment. Jungle Gents is one of the goofy mid-50's movies with Sach and Slip. Here, a larger-than-usual sinus pill somehow gives Sach the ability to smell diamonds. Slip senses an opportunity when a man offers to take them to a fabulous diamond mind in Africa. Things don't go well from there. Sach loses the map, they have a run-in with a lion and a hostile tribe, and there some members of their group are plotting sabotage. Meanwhile, Sach is more thrilled with the jungle maiden who has fallen in love with him.

Headed out to run a few errands around 12:30. The rain and the inauguration must have scared off most folks. The librarian was the only person at the Oaklyn Library the entire time I was there besides me. She didn't even have the TV on. I organized DVDs, shelved kids' books, and moved on.

Oh, and I took out a few movies. While the Oaklyn Library doesn't have the selection of indies and British movies that Haddon Township does, they not only get more new releases, they get them faster and usually have them around longer. I took out Captain America: Civil War and last year's all-female Ghostbusters, neither of which have turned up at Haddon Township yet. They also have the first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which I haven't seen in years. (For some reason, Haddon Township has every Harry Potter movie but the first one.) Grabbed a Star Wars reference book as well.

Had a quick lunch at Phillies Phatties while I figured out my next move. I wanted to go to the grocery store, but not only was it coming down a bit harder, but the zipper had broken off my green L.L Bean jacket. Ordered my usual slice of mushroom and slice of cheese pizza with a can of Mountain Dew Pitch Black. The inauguration was just ending on PBS as I arrived. I heard part of it at home. I don't have cable and didn't technically watch it, but Charlie had it turned up so damn loud, they probably heard it half-way across Oaklyn.

The rain was not abating. I finally gave up and just headed home. Finished an episode of Get Smart I started before I left while I got organized. I ran "Run, Robot, Run" from the third season in honor of Dick Gautier, aka Hymie the Robot, who just recently passed away. Hymie is recruited to replace the "Free World" team in a major track meet when CHAOS drugs all the regular athletes.

Spent the rest of the evening writing. Han can't dance and keeps stepping on Leia's feet, but that doesn't matter to either of them. Han's happy to be there, with a girl who doesn't see him as a servant. Leia's happy to have met a man who doesn't see her as a prize. She even introduces him to her parents and her Aunt Ashoka. Han, in turn, introduces her to Lando. Jabba tries to interfere, but Ashoka and Obi-Wan head him off.

Han and Leia are kissing on a moonlit balcony when the clock tower strikes midnight. To Leia's surprise, Han leaps over the balcony railing and takes off, vanishing into the night. Unlike the original story, Obi-Wan does know where he lives. He promises to take the twins there the next morning. For one thing, Leia still has Han's navy jacket, the only clue he left behind to his real identity. He draped it on her shoulders when she got cold and forgot to take it with him.

Moved to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone while eating fish cakes and leftover green beans for dinner, and later while making Chocolate Chip Muffins. (Which I forgot the eggs for.) Harry Potter (Daniel Ratcliffe) is a fairly normal kid, living with his resentful and unloving aunt, uncle, and cousin...until one day, he gets a letter, and then another. It seems he's a wizard, the last remaining member of a beloved wizard family. Hagrid, a friendly giant (Robbie Coultrane), takes Harry to Hogwarts, a school of magic where young wizards train for their futures. Harry and his new friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) inadvertently stumble onto a mystery when they find a huge three-headed dog guarding something major on the forbidden third floor. The trio have to navigate through the mystery...and figure out their first year at Hogwarts...before they find themselves in major trouble.

On one hand, it's the details that's the thing here. Harry's colorful world, even while not being as detailed as the books, still stands out with little things like the floating candles or Ron's wizard chess. The kids had great chemistry from the get-go, and they're working with an outstanding cast of British character actors. Richard Harris is beloved old headmaster Dumbledore. Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman are among the professors.

However, this is not one of the series' better entries. The CGI hasn't dated well in spots (especially in the troll sequence), and the story had plot hole problems, even in the book. Those of you who are new to the series will want to see it anyway. This is one series you really have to watch in progression to understand anything about what's going on...but rest assured, it does get better later, as the kids get older and the stories become more complex.

Ended the night with The Naked Gun. Having enjoyed Airplane! the other day, I decided to hit the other half of the 80's and stick with the Zucker Brothers. Nielson is back, this time playing cop Lieutenant Frank Drebin. Drebin returns from a major case to discover that his partner (O.J Simpson) was brutally assaulted while checking out a major narcotics ring. Meanwhile, the mayor would prefer Drebin devoted his time to the visit of Queen Elizabeth to LA. Drebin finds himself falling in love with the secretary (Priscilla Prestley) of an industrialist (Ricardo Montalban) who may have connections with both the drug ring and a plot to eliminate the queen at a California Angels game.

A hilarious parody of cop movies and thrillers. My favorite sequence is at the ball game. You've never lived until you've heard Leslie Nielson (try to) sing. If you love spoofs, Nielson, or the Zuckers' joke-a-minute style, this one is a no-brainer. (And the two sequels, both of which I have, aren't bad either.)

(And the rain did finally end...around 5:30, too late for me to go anywhere else. I'll have to hold off on grocery shopping until tomorrow after work.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Look for the Silver Lining

Began the day with work. Work was...really boring. We were pin-drop quiet for almost the entire morning. I rounded up carts once, when I first arrived. It took me 10 minutes. After that, we had plenty of baggers and not enough for anyone to do. I gathered baskets, did returns, and bagged when there were people around to bag for.

Went straight home after that. The sunny morning had become a gloomy, on-and-off-cloudy afternoon. It was no day for hanging out. I watched an episode of The Monkees to brighten the day while eating lunch and getting organized. The boys were swashbuckling in the very first episode of the series, "Royal Flush." Davy rescues the lovely princess of Harmonica from drowning. The other guys get involved when he suspects that her uncle is out to kill her, and they try to save her and her throne.

Went through several file folders after I ate. I was looking for the list of jobs I made a few years ago. I did find it. The trouble is...I have no idea how to get started. It all seems so big, so much. Other than calling Food Stamps, I have no idea what my first move should be. I  have no idea what company I want to join, or what job I really want to do that I'm suited for and would make me enough money to live. I just want to write and have a better job than what I have currently.

Gave up and finally did some writing. Leia dances with her brother for a while before Anakin insists she has to greet her guests. Among the new arrivals are Jabba and his "sons." Boba Fett dances with Leia, but he's rude and aggressive and tries to hard to force himself on her. Han arrives just as she stomps on his foot. Unlike the prince in the original story, Leia recognizes him right away, despite the family's butler announcing him as "Prince Harron." Han evades her questions about what he's doing there and just leads her into the dance.

Broke for dinner (finished out the "Baked Ziti Soup") while watching Sally. We jump way back to 1929 and the dawn of the talkies for this adorable Cinderella tale. Sally (Marilyn Miller) is currently a bus girl at a New York restaurant, but she'd give anything to become a great dancing star. Blair, the rich boy who's been flirting with her (Alexander Gray), recommends her dancing to her boss...which leads an agent (T. Roy Barnes) to encourage her to portray a Russian dancer who canceled out of a huge garden party. The party goes well at first...until her guy friend Connie (Joe. E Brown), a former duke, almost blows her cover, and then she discovers Blair is engaged. But true love - and true talent.- has a way of winning out in the end...

Miller had been the darling of Broadway for nearly a decade when she appeared in this film version of her 1920 stage hit. While most of it is static-y and stiff, as per the early talkie era, two delightful sequences would pave the way for movie musicals to come. Miller and Brown do a hilarious duet to this show's best-known number, "Look for the Silver Lining." They really throw themselves into the comic dance, and it's obvious they're having a wonderful time.

Sally was originally filmed in Two-Strip Technicolor. Unfortunately, the original color prints have disappeared...except for part of the movie's best ensemble number, "Wild Rose." The color gives Miller's dance with the chorus boys a Wizard of Oz-like sense of fantasy that the rest of the movie lacks, and Miller looks especially pretty here.

If you're a fan of early talkie musicals or of Broadway history, you'll want to "Look for the Silver Lining" and get to know Sally, too.

Stayed in the 20's with Ken Russell's pastiche The Boy Friend. The wrap around is basically Sally crossed with 42nd Street. Stage manager Polly (Twiggy) has to go on at the last minute when the star (Glenda Jackson) breaks her ankle. She's only interested in the handsome male lead (Christopher Gable), who may or may not have eyes for her, too. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast of a small-time touring musical about shenanigans in a girl's finishing school in France are bent on impressing a movie director who is in the audience, including an amnesiac tap dancer with a melodramatic back story (Tommy Tune).

Russell want to out-do Busby Berkley in this homage to the musicals of the late 20's and 30's. He went too big. The numbers (most of which are fantasy sequences in various character's minds) are a bit too overblown for such a simple tale. On the other hand, the music is fun, and the cast is really cute, including the first pairing of Twiggy and Tune. (They'd pair again on Broadway in the 1980's in another pastiche, this one directed by Tune, My One and Only.) This is currently on the Warner Archives if you're a fan of the music or the 30's Berkley-style musicals.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Flight To Adventure

Ugh. It was cloudy and gray when I awoke this morning. I chased off the gloom with two Three Stooges shorts during breakfast. Even the Stooges get the Cinderella treatment in two shorts about their attempts to enter high society. "Hoi Polloi" from 1936 has two professors making a bet that they can't turn three garbage men into gentlemen. Needless to say, given we're talking about the Three Stooges here, their introduction into society is disastrous..and quite memorable. We get more-or-less the same story in "Half-Wits Holiday," Curly's final short from 1947, only this time, the boys are house painters, and it ends with a hilarious pie fight.

Didn't get to heading out for a laundry run until around noon. Thankfully, I picked the right time to do so. They were quiet as can be. I only saw two other people the entire time I was there. I worked on story notes and listened to talk shows. Didn't have a big load, anyway. I was in and out in an hour.

When I got home, I put my laundry away fast, then ran a random Garfield special while eating a quick lunch. Garfield's Feline Fantasies take us into the depths of the fat cat's vast imagination and includes spoofs of everything from submarine movies to western showdowns. The second half of the film focuses on a James Bond/Indiana Jones riff, as Garfield and Odie imagine themselves seeking the fabled Banana of Bombay while dodging some extremely shady characters. But don't worry, Jon will be there to get them out of it in the end...they hope.

Started out to run errands around 2. First stop was a quick one at the CVS on the border of Collingswood and Oaklyn. I've been meaning to pick up brush picks for a while, but they're expensive and don't turn up everywhere. I also bought dish washing liquid on sale.

Despite the chilly and gloomy weather, Newton River Park was bustling when I made my way across. I must have hit the kids coming home from school. I dodged a lot of people out for strolls, fellow bike riders, and fisher-folk. The park itself wasn't exactly inspiring. It's all brown now, with brown brush-stroke trees leaning over dried sepia grass. At least the river's no longer frozen over.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't busy at all. I was a bit surprised, given the weather. There wasn't even much to do. I shelved the few DVDs, one CD, and a few audio books. They had teenagers doing the holds. I didn't take out movies this week - I have other things I need to focus on - but I did take out three books on job hunting in the current market, and one on finding your passion. (In my case, I'm pretty sure I know what my passions are. I just need help expressing them off-line and figuring out how they can lead to a real job.)

I got out so late, I just went straight home. When I arrived, I spent the next hour or so working on writing. Leia's not happy to be at the ball. First of all, she had to get Ashoka to make over her ball gown to be fancier and less kid-ish. Second, she's sure all the boys only care about her money, not her. She also envies Luke, who is already engaged to - and very much in love with - Duke Wedge of Corellia. She wonders if she'll ever find someone whom she'll be able to fall in love with and consider her equal.

When I got off, I realized I was craving cake. After dinner, I went through many recipes for chocolate cake, but none seemed right...until I looked at the back of the Hershey's Extra Dark Cocoa container. I ran Airplane while working on Extra Dark Chocolate Cake. This wacky parody of disaster films has ex-pilot Ted Stryker (Robert Hayes) pursuing his girlfriend Elaine (Julie Haggarty) onto the plane where she works. Then the entire crew gets sick with food poisoning, and ex-pilot Stryker finds himself having to land it with only the help of Elaine and the advice of a very dubious doctor (Leslie Nielson). Meanwhile, Stryker's ex-boss (Robert Stack) is helping the extremely agitated Mission Control (including Lloyd Bridges) talk Stryker down. And of course, there's the always entertaining Johnny (Stephan Stucker) who is...er, quite unique.

I was inspired to do this one after seeing the spoof in Garfield's Feline Fantasies. I figured I needed the laughs, and I was right. This was the first real Zucker Brothers hit and solidified their laugh-a-minute style. It also gave Bridges and Nielson second careers as unlikely but much-loved deadpan comedians. I will add that a lot of the jokes are very much of their time, while others are scatological and don't always hit the mark, Also, a lot of people might not get the "comically serious" vibe this movie is going for.

I've always gotten a kick out of this one, even when I was a kid and didn't get three-fourths of the jokes. I don't know how kids would react to it nowadays, but for young teens on up (especially if they have any familiarity with disaster films or Nielson), this is one of the most popular spoofs ever and is still a lot of fun to watch.

Finished out the night with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We jump to the other half of the 80's for the last of the three original Indy films. After introducing Indy as a kid (River Phoenix), we skip ahead to 1939. The adult Indy (Harrison Ford) is convinced to pursue the Holy Grail after learning that his father (Sean Connery), a notable Grail scholar, has disappeared while seeking it. The Nazis are also now searching for the grail, as is the treacherous beauty Dr. Elsa Schnider (Alison Janney). Indy finds himself reconnecting with his father - and learning a bit about faith - when the duo pursue the Nazis into the Grail's final resting place.

This remains my personal favorite Indiana Jones film, if only because Connery and Ford play so beautifully off each other. They're so much fun to watch, they really make the movie. There's also some great action set pieces (including the tank chase and Indy and Professor Jones' escape from Germany) and an interesting, thoughtful plot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Rainy Day Tale

Began a gloomy, damp morning with princess-themed Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater episodes while eating breakfast and getting ready for work. Hello Kitty is "Cinderkitty," who would rather be catching forward passes than being a cheerleader or slaving away for her stepmother and stepsister. She gets her chance to impress the quarterback prince (Tuxedo Sam) when a fairy godmother turns her into the most popular kitty at the big game. Hello Kitty discovers why you should never go into a stranger's home when she has a close encounter with woodland creatures in "Kittylocks and the Three Bears." She becomes "Sleeping Kitty" when a cursed TV puts her under a spell. Once again, Sam plays prince and awakens her. "Kitty and the Beast" teaches Hello Kitty and Catnip not to judge by appearances when they find themselves in a castle owned by a fearsome monster. Grinder is a mostly unlikely protector when Queen Catnip becomes jealous of her adorable white-furred ward in "Snow Kitty and the One Dwarf."

(Oh, and I called Mrs. Stahl while the cartoons were on and told her about Dad and Jodie coming to my session. I haven't heard back from her yet, but I doubt she'll have a problem.)

Work was pretty much the same as the last few days, on-and-off steady. Once again, the lines were only long because we were short on cashiers, not because we were that busy. I did briefly do returns, trash, and took boxes to the paper baler. Otherwise, I bagged almost the entire day. Never went outside. We had a lot more help bagging than cashiering, and plenty of people to do carts. By the time rush hour arrived and it did start getting really busy, I was done.

Oh, and I got really lucky today weather-wise. It must have rained earlier this morning. The porch was wet when I got up, but it wasn't raining. I don't think it ever really rained while I was at work, either. It didn't start raining hard until nearly a half-hour after I got in. It's been raining on and off ever since.

Spent the next few hours writing. Jabba has left Han a huge pile of hay to sort into good and spoiled. A bit of magic releases the horses, allowing them to do Han's job for him. Han stops his brothers from accosting an old man and stealing his money as they leave.

The old man turns out to be Obi-Wan Kenobi, King Anakin's court magician. He saw Han sparring with Leia earlier and think they had a real spark going. The Force transforms an old hay cart into a magnificent carriage. Falcon the horse, Chewbacca the dog, six mice from the house, and two lizards from the garden become Han's driver, horses, and servants. Han's own ruined outfit is turned into a gold-trimmed navy suit worthy of the finest prince, complete with crown. Ben gives him the warning about his powers not working past midnight and sends him on his way.

I had leftovers for dinner, then finished out the night making Cake Mix Peanut Butter Cookies while watching Winter's Tale. Peter Lake (Collin Farrell) is a thief in early 20th century New York who falls in love with the beautiful Beverly (Jessica Brown Findley) while stealing from her father's house. Problem is, she's dying of consumption, and he's being pursued by his evil gangster former boss, who actually raised him (Russell Crowe). He's head-over-heels in love with her, to the point where, even after she dies and he's knocked into the Hudson, he returns a century later to make sure a child who may be her reincarnated survives.

Strange but touching and quite beautiful fantasy tale. I can kind of understand why this didn't do well at the box office in 2014. Lovely though it is, it's hard to follow, and a lot of the fairy tale elements may be lost on non-fantasy fans. If you love fairy tales or early 20th century history like I do, are a fan of the cast, or have a romantic streak, you'll want to give this one a second chance and a second look.