Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Little Spring In Winter

Got a quick start this morning with more Rick Steves as I ate and got ready for work. We head further inland to Switzerland to explore its lovely cities. I especially liked the charming old pedestrian bridge with artwork going back to the 1500's, and the river that you can swim down.

Work was...once again, pretty dead for most of the day. For one thing, we're now between holidays. The next holiday isn't until the middle of next month. For another, it was absolutely gorgeous today. The sun was high and warm, and the wind had gentled into a breeze. It had to be at least in the lower 70's, ridiculous for late February. I cleaned the bathroom for an hour, then spent the rest of the day gathering carts and baskets. It didn't really start picking up until around 4...by which time I was almost done. Grabbed toilet paper and shampoo (the latter on clearance) on the way out, along with a soft pretzel.

When I got in, I went online for a little while. Didn't do much with the story. I expanded the role of the khyber crystals. People of Coruscant are being conscripted to work in Lord Vader's khyber crystal mines and the factories that refine them. Luke mentions that Han is a recluse. He'd rather be working with his chemicals and new inventions for hauling goods than out at fancy parties.

Broke for a quick dinner around 7:30. Tossed together canned chicken with Mandarin oranges and McCormick spices on a bed of spinach. Added honey, red wine vinegar, and olive oil to the juice from the oranges for Orange Honey Dressing. Oh yum. Tangy and chewy and so flavorful.

Ran Cats Don't Dance while I ate and set up to go online. In Hollywood in 1939, animals can do a lot of things...all of them bit parts. They're just considered to be another pushed-aside minority. Danny, a barn cat from Indiana (Scott Bakula), wants to change that. He's determined to prove that animals are as good at song and dance as humans. Most of the animals in town have been worn down by years of being treated like second-class citizens, including the lovely cat secretary Sawyer (Jasmine Guy). When he gets a part as an extra in a Darla Dimple musical, he thinks this could be his chance to shine. But Darla Dimple is far from what she appears to be...and she has no desire to let anyone steal her spotlight, especially animals!

Unique animated tale from Warner Bros got lost in the shuffle of Disney imitations in the late 90's, but I think it's an underrated gem. Some of the songs are cute, there's an interesting commentary on Hollywood's treatment of minorities during it's Golden Era, and Darla Dimple is so over-the-top, she simply has to be seen to be believed. If you're a fan of animated musicals or the Golden Age of Hollywood, this one is worth seeking out.

Oh, and my birth certificate showed up today. I have no idea when I'm going to see a doctor, and until I see a doctor, I don't want to try signing up for anything. I do need to update my ID under any circumstances. I'll see if I can get back to Cherry Hill on maybe Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mall Madness

Bright sunshine was already filtering through the living area windows when I sat down with breakfast. I did two Good Eats episodes on desserts and candy while eating, getting organized, and recharging my iPod. Alton tried to show how the Arabic dessert baklava can be made easily. Honestly, I think it's still too fussy and takes too long for me to try. Marshmallows, on the other hand, are mostly sugar and plain gelatin, and might be worth giving a shot one day.

Finally headed out around 12:30. My first stop was the Haddon Township Library. I was mainly there to return DVDs. It's just as well. Turns out there wasn't much for me to do, anyway. They're in the midst of reorganizing their DVDs. Instead of having them face outwards on the shelves, so you riff through a bunch, then go to the next ones, they turned them horizontally in an attempt to fit more in. On one hand...this does make sense. You can see the titles of the actual movie without having to move every other one, and yeah, it does make more room. I mainly shelved audio books and new releases.

As soon as I was done, I hurried out to catch the bus...then went back in. I'd read the schedule wrong. I did finally make it on the bus to Cherry hill around 2. There was a little traffic in Westmont where they're still working on buildings. Otherwise, no problems traveling either way.

I needed to make a few quick runs to a couple of big-box stores at the Market Place...but I needed to eat first. My original thought was 1,000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, where Lauren and I ate when she visited last June. Alas, the store was empty. They were likely a victim of way too much competition in Cherry Hill. There's not only at least ten restaurants in the mall itself, but tons of other places to eat (including local pizzerias that are much cheaper) within walking distance. I ended up enjoying a cup of French onion soup, half of a turkey-greens-apple sandwich, a green tea, and a crusty roll at Panera Bread.

Was in and out of a few stores for the next two hours. I couldn't find my usual New Balance sneakers at Dick's. I badly need new work sneakers. (I have the feeling the state the old ones are in are one reason I turned my ankle.) Had more luck at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Grabbed a new can opener (I've had mine for at least 15 years or more) and a shower curtain, along with cherry cola Tic Tacs, for $20, thanks to two of those 12 coupons I had sitting at home. Peeked at the Hallmark down the way from Panera Bread, but didn't see anything totally necessary. Browsed around Barnes and Noble. Found Bloodline, one of the latest Star Wars novels, in paperback.

Finally got a pair of Easy Spirit sneakers at DW Shoes. I really love the ones I bought for running errands a few months ago. They weren't a bad price, either. The salesgirl was really enthusiastic. Turns out she's not only a huge fan of Harry Potter, but Star Wars as well. We had a nice talk about fandoms.

It was late when I got in, past 5:30. I did some quick writing. A young maid named Sabine helps Leia prepare for Mon Mothma's ball. Her mother appears, praising the maid for the beautiful up-do that she did for Leia. Sabine explains that she's an artist and is hoping to save her paycheck to attend art classes. Leia and Breha see Sabine meet a young man out in the hall as Breha helps her daughter with her jewels. Breha says it's sweet that Sabine has a romance, but Leia thinks their faces look more concerned that romantic.

Finished out the night with leftovers and episodes of Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater. Tuxedo Sam is "Robin Penguin," who robs bubble gum from rich Princess Catnip and Sheriff Grinder and gives it to the poor of Knotty-Pine. He also gets to be "Pinocchio Penguin" and learn a lesson in telling the truth when he and Chip are lured by two gypsies (Catnip and Grinder again) and end up being swallowed by a whale. Chip is the "Ugly Quackling," whose feathers are very different from his siblings. They learn to never judge a bird by its color when "Ugly" grows up to not only be beautiful, but stop the hungry fox (Grinder) from harming his family. "Hello Mother Goose" has quite a mystery on her hands when famous items go missing in Mother Goose Land. The solution to the crime may lie in the whereabouts of My Melody Bo Peep's runaway sheep. Melody is the lead of a western-themed "Little Red Bunny Hood." She has to rescue her grandmother from Belle Catnip while avoiding the Big Bad Wolf (Grinder).

(And this might be a good time to get a few things Star Wars related off my chest, given that Bloodline is about how the New Republic fell apart and at least one recent book is on Han and Leia's break-up. So many people have been whining and crying about how horrible it was that the "Golden Trio" from the original trilogy were allowed to have a child that wasn't perfect, livest that weren't perfect, and were permitted to separate and be unhappy.

As my stepfather used to say, horse marlarkey. People don't stay together for 30 years. That's not how life works. Sometimes, parents do neglect their children, even when they don't mean to. They have lives, too. Sometimes, friends do break apart, even close ones. Sometimes, bad things do happen to good people. Of course, Han would go back to smuggling. That's what he does. What he's always done. My stepfather's been doing the same job for 50 years. That's not called "character derailment." That's called "being realistic." I'm wondering if people just weren't ready for that level of realism in this franchise, especially after the knights and queens and melodrama of the Prequels.

Also, allow me to point out that we've only had one movie and a prequel that amounts to a flashback. Unless there's real Jedi out there, the average person doesn't know what's going to happen yet. We don't know why Luke is on that island. He very likely has some plan he doesn't want anyone knowing about. We don't know how he's going to react to Rey. Han's likely dead, but one never knows, especially in science fiction. There's also the matter of how they're going to deal with Leia after Carrie Fisher's death. (I say...I'm sorry, but grab a reasonable look-a-like and recast Episode 9.)

I don't think Rey and Kylo Ren are going to fall in love and become the next Twilight like many teens and young adults want, either. That's hormones (and their own parental issues) talking. The guy killed a whole school of kids and his own father, and he practically mind-raped Rey. And no, having a bad childhood doesn't excuse him. If Kylo Ren is redeemed, it's probably going to be a lot messier than Vader simply tossing his boss off a ledge and dying in Luke's arms.

And all the screaming over the Han Solo movie is a whole other can of fish. Look, Harrison Ford is a great guy. I've had a crush on him since I was four. The fact of the matter remains that he's also in his 70's. He doesn't look 74, but he is. I don't mind the recasting. I think this sounds like it's going to be a fun intergalactic crime caper, sort of like the book Scoundrels. Once again, I'm willing to give a different story and different people a chance.

I don't believe in "canon." Canon means something is set in stone. Stories aren't set in stone. Stories are flowing, organic beings. They change and evolve. Everyone has their own way of telling a story. Mine is different than yours, which is different from everyone else's. Star Wars is stories...and stories change with time. Maybe this isn't the story people would have told in the 70's, or ten years ago, but it's the one being told now. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm starting to think I'm not cut out to be involved in big fandoms. I ran into the same problem in the American Girl fandom. I'm really laid-back about most things. For me, stories are stories and dolls are dolls. They're fun...but they're toys and fiction. In the end, they're nothing to scream over.

I think we're also starting to get an inkling of the can of worms that open when studios revive franchises that are in some cases as much as 50 or 60 years old. Sure, some people want to see the story continue and are willing to give anything a shot...but most have had their own casts and their own ideas in their head for years, maybe decades. They're not only loathe to give that up, but highly offended when the studios' stories don't match the ones they've already created or that were created by others in the interim.

I'm hoping finding conventions to attend will help me meet people who are willing to enjoy all aspects of a franchise, from the very beginning to the most current offerings. I'm just glad that we're getting more dolls and more movies and cartoons and books. Just knowing that we're going to get one Star Wars movie a year until 2019 (and likely beyond that, seeing how Disney loves its franchises) is enough to make me happy.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Bare Necessities

Began another sunny and breezy day with more Rick Steves. This time, we headed west towards the Spanish peninsula and Barcelona, a city steeped in history, tapas bars, and truly amazing architecture. (Including a church so massive and intricate, it was started over 130 years ago and won't be finished for another decade or so.)

After breakfast, I tried calling Camden County. Still no luck, with either voice mail or their phone service. No one picks up. I've been calling these people for over two weeks. Don't they ever erase their voice mail box? No one called me on the day of my appointment, either, despite the two letters I got stating that someone would call me on the day of my appointment. I give up. I'll just let this lapse and try again next month when I've got my ID updated and more of this figured out. I was able to leave Rose a message telling her to get back to me about the rent agreement.

Decided I'd test my new bandages with a short trip to the laundromat. I'm glad I got it done early in the week this time. They were really quiet, with only a few people around. I didn't have much laundry to do at any rate. I worked on story ideas and listened to news and soap operas. I was in and out in less than an hour.

Put everything away, then had leftovers for lunch. Did another Rick Steves episode as I ate. We made a second trip to Vienna, this time focusing on the history of Marie Theresa, the Hapsburg empress whose 16 children and amazing business acumen allowed her empire to flourish. There was also a visit to a monastery and the Viennese Opera House.

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing various things on the computer. I looked up area psychiatrists to get a good idea of what's available. I did research on a couple of mental problems, notably General Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder, along with more on introversion and shyness. Rose called me back, told me she's working on a letter to address the rent raise as well as a few other things, and confirmed that Dad-Bruce's middle name is Charles. (Mom did get back to me, BTW - hers is Ann.) That allowed me to finish ordering my birth certificate. Called Dad and Jodie. Jodie said she's been sick (and was in the hospital for a while) and hasn't been able to talk to her friend's sister about that doctor. She'll get a hold of her this week.

I even managed to squeeze a little writing in before and after dinner. Ben explains why Han reacted so badly to Breha's comment. He was once a notorious pirate...until he had to jettison a shipment after being caught by the police. A gunshot wound in his right leg during that altercation shattered his leg and ended his career at sea.

Breha's not happy with him, but she is happy to see Luke and Leia getting on so well. She rather obviously tries to nudge Leia towards Luke. Leia protests. She barely knows him, and she only sees him as a friend. Besides, there's something...familiar...about him...

Broke for dinner around 5:30. I decided to try a tasty, simple recipe that was pretty much dark beans, light beans, and vegetables. Replaced the lemon juice with lime juice and the green peppers with celery. Used chick peas (I had a can that was almost expired) and dark red kidney beans; replaced the water with chicken broth. Oh, yum. Nice and tangy, and the chick peas gave it a chewy, nutty taste.

Did The Jungle Book as I ate, and later as I set up for going online. Pretty much the same deal as the animated version. The animals of the Indian jungles want to protect Mowgli (Neel Sethi) from a ferocious tiger that hates humans. They try to send him to the nearest village with Bagheera the black panther (Ben Kingsley), but Mowgli wants to stay in the jungle. He finds a good friend in lazy, laid-back Baloo the bear (Bill Murray)...and enemies in Kaa the python (Scarlet Johanssen) and King Louie the ape (Christopher Walken), the latter of whom is determined that Mowgli make fire for him. But it'll take a concentrated effort from all the animals in the jungle, including Mowgli and the stand-offish elephant herd, to stop Sher Khan for good.

I can see why a lot of people like this better than either the 1967 cartoon or Disney's earlier live-action Jungle Book from 1994. While still not a 100 percent accurate adaptation, it does get a little closer to the spirit of the Kipling books than the other two. Johanssan particular does well with her brief role, and even sings a rather nice "Trust In Me." Murray's "The Bare Necessities" with Sethi was fun, too. Walken does less well with an out-of-place mob boss spoof and a darker "I Wanna Be Like You." And I had no problem with them ditching the Beatles-esque vultures from the cartoon. As much as I like the song "That's What Friends are For," the British Invasion allusions date the animated film rather badly.

What people will really come for is the special effects. Wow. No wonder this got a Visual Effects nomination at this year's Oscars. Everything except for Mowgi was done with CGI...and very little of it looks fake. They even went easy on the motion capture so it wouldn't look too waxy or uncanny, like some of the motion capture animated movies from the 2000's tend to. Even the animals talking doesn't come off as fake.

While not as dark as it could be, it's still too violent for very young kids, despite the PG rating. Try them on the animated version first. For older kids who love animals or computer animation, give this one a whirl.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Swashbuckling President's Day

Began a sunny President's Day with some Colliers' Harvest of Holidays. I did a short biography on Abraham Lincoln and two on George Washington, along with poetry about their life and times. I also went back and did the one Valentine's Day story, The Valentine's Box, and the poetry, since I forgot to do it on Valentine's Day.

Did two episodes of Jack of All Trades while I made Apricot Pancakes and a grapefruit slice for breakfast. Another early American president, Thomas Jefferson, makes a cameo appearance in the series pilot, "The Return of the Dragoon." Jack is less than thrilled when Jefferson reassigns him to a small tropical island to keep an eye on the French. Worse, his contact is a very smart British woman, Emilia, whose steampunk-esque inventions keep their spying under cover. Jack finds a cover of his own when he dresses as "The Daring Dragoon," a local myth, to ward off suspicion from the French Governor Croque.

Benjamin Franklin is "The Floundering Father" when he's taken prisoner by none other than Blackbeard the Pirate. Jack and Emilia are at a loss on how to get to Blackbeard's ship, until Emilia suggests her latest invention, a ship that can float underwater.

Listened to the first few songs from the Broadway musical Hamilton while I got ready for work. I can definitely see why this has become such a smash. Start with a good script and racially diverse casting; end with genuinely good music even people who aren't normally into rap and R&B can enjoy.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - on and off busy all day. Except for a few quick rounds of gathering baskets, I did carts the whole day. This time, though, I had less help. The one woman who was with me in the morning took an hour to get outside and was out for 15 minutes when she did finally make it. The other bagger was in the register for most of the early afternoon. When they let her go, the crowds had just begun to slow down. By the time it began to get busy again, we were both done.

I had a little shopping to do on the way home. I was hoping they'd have an ankle brace. My old one is too small. It gave me a huge blister on my heel. They didn't have an ankle brace, but they did have tape bandage. That'll have to do until I can get an ankle brace. I also found these new cheese crackers shaped like actual cheese slices. They remind me of the Nabisco Swiss Cheese crackers my sisters and I ate a ton of in the 80's. (We loved the bacon ones, too.)

Spent the rest of the evening working on my story. Actually, I revised the opening, and will probably revise it further. The refugee thing was too dark. Leia and her aunt and uncle are now merely visiting Mon Mothma to celebrate the coronation of Prime Minister Palpatine as the king of a united Coruscant and Naboo and the country's Diamond Jubilee. I also updated the Crimson Hawk and his band of criminals' costumes to make them closer to the era (1877) and the steampunk aesthetic.

Made a quick meal of spinach, eggs, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese while watching another Rick Steves episode. We went back to Austria for a trip to Innsbruck and the Austrian and Italian Alps. The lovely towns, lively squares, and elaborate castles are the perfect inspirations for my story.

Finished the night with a much-needed bath. Ahhh. I can't remember the last time I had one. I read You are a Badass while listening to George Winston play music by Vince Guaraldi (including iconic pieces from the Peanuts specials) and just enjoyed the chance to relax and soothe my sore muscles.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Everyone Says "Don't"

I woke up with just enough time for grits and a half of a grapefruit and some music before I headed out. Among the songs on Barbara Streisand's Back to Broadway album are two of my favorite Stephan Sondheim numbers, "Everyone Says Don't" (cut from Anyone Can Whistle) and "Children Will Listen" (from Into the Woods). "Don't" is encouragement to try, even when you might fall, and I could certainly use that right now. "Listen" is a lovely ballad about raising children, what you learn from them and what they can teach you.

Work was, once again, very busy. It was even nicer than yesterday, probably in the upper 60's. It was so warm, despite the wind, I was outside in my long-sleeved work shirt, and I was too hot. I spent the first half of my shift running around, bagging and doing returns. It wasn't too bad when I arrived, but by noon, people were starting to come in droves. I practically had to beg to go on break at a decent time. I'm glad I did, seeing how I was on my feet the rest of the afternoon. There were two baggers out with me, and we still had a hard time rounding up all the carts.

I was so pooped, I went straight home afterwards. Opened the window, changed into a t-shirt and capris, and worked on writing. Leia and her family are taken across the River Corel to the palatial home of Senator Mon Mothma, the main representative for the district. Mon Mothma is an elegant, outspoken older woman who is much-involved in Coruscant politics.

Also visiting her home are ruthless Coruscant military leader Governor Tarkin and Luke's guardian, handsome, roguish shipping tycoon Henry "Han" Solo. Solo turning down an offer to ship steel for a "special" project of Tarkin's when they arrive. While Mothma argues with Tarkin about the state of the roads, Luke helps Han to his feet. Turns out he didn't rise for the ladies because he couldn't. His right leg is crippled. When Aunt Breha makes a careless comment, Han gets defensive. Leia defends her aunt, and they end up arguing.

Broke for dinner around 6:30. I had leftover chili while listening to my Reader's Digest collection of various operettas. The swashbuckling Naughty Marietta, with its romantic old New Orleans plot, is my favorite of the three on the disc. There was also the Northwest Canadian adventure Rose Marie, and the bittersweet tale of doomed romance in old Europe, The Student Prince.

Read for a couple of hours before going online. Went over the Rogue One material first. It's...different, I will say that. I like that it has a grittier feel than most Star Wars media. One of the major complaints about the prequels was that there was too much of the Jedi and politicians and not enough "normal" folk, like Han and Luke's aunt and uncle. The recent Star Wars films have done much to restore this, including bringing Han back (if only briefly).

Also read You are a Badass, at least the first few chapters. I don't know why I'm so afraid of breaking out of my comfort zone. I've been hedging on things I should have done ages ago, like order that birth certificate, renew my non-driver's ID, make the list of needed improvements for Willa (she's the landlady, not Charlie - he just lives here), upgrade my cell phone, and get food stamps and rental assistance. I'm proud of being able to live on my own. I'm proud of my independence. No one during my childhood ever thought I'd be able to live independently. I just get used to things.

I don't know why I'm so nervous about going forward. I don't mind seeing a doctor, or getting assistance. I know it's important. It's just such a pain to deal with. I know paperwork is a part of adulthood, but I hate doing it. Part of me wants to run and hide and keep hiding, so the pain will all go away. The other half of me craves control over my life, but is afraid of what that'll entail. I don't want to lose what I already have.

My heart's been hurt for a long time. I feel like every time I open it, it just gets kicked again. There's still that little girl in my heart who is afraid that someone will come and take everything away, because she's weird and different and that's the worst possible thing anyone can be.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ice Cream In Winter

I heard the alarm at 8 AM, closed my eyes for five minutes...and when I opened them, it was 10 after 9. Not good. I had work at 10. I hurried and scurried, eating, dressing, and getting organized as quickly as possible.

Ran an episode of the original late-80's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon while I ate. Shredder acquires "The Ninja Sword to Nowhere" when the boys try to buy it for Splinter. Turns out the sword can cut through time and space, allowing its owner to travel back and forth through dimensions. When Shredder traps Splinter between dimensions, he tries to use the sword to force the Turtles to surrender to him.

Work was very busy early on. This is a holiday weekend, and it was a gorgeous day to boot. I'm actually glad I was outside rounding up carts almost the entire time. It was too sunny to be inside, especially after I spent most of yesterday in front of a computer. It was in the lower 60's, windy but not as much as earlier in the week. It did start to slow down a little by 3, by which time I had at least two other baggers outside with me.

My schedule is...exactly the same as last week, right down to the hours and the days off. Fine by me. I'm thinking I could use at least one other day to rest and get things done at home, probably Tuesday. I may see if I can get my driver's license and if my foot is up to a short trip to the Market Place by Friday.

It's a good thing it did slow down by 3. I had a lot of shopping to do. The clearance shelves were back, and this time, they were lined with many light bulb variations. I've been meaning to get some new round button lights for the inside of the closets. Both of the old ones are long dead. Found Crest toothpaste on clearance as well. Restocked grapefruit, apples, bananas, spinach, whole wheat flour, ground turkey, 2% evaporated milk, tomato sauce and paste, canned pineapple, cake mix, and Oatmeal Squares. (Quaker cereal is still on that huge Re-Opening sale, even though the re-opening was weeks ago.)

It was such a nice day, I decided I deserved a treat. I've always wanted to try Sonic's milkshakes. It was too early for dinner, but too nice of a day to not enjoy their patio. I ordered a simple small pineapple milkshake. It was tasty, with maybe a few too many chunky pineapple pieces (they kept getting caught in the straw). Not surprisingly, since it was 4 PM and still between meals for most people, the patio was empty. I saw a few people in cars and one girl who kept hemming and hawing over what to choose, even after she started her order.

Headed home next. I changed and did a few things around the house, including putting away the groceries. Ran another Turtles episode involving swordplay as I got organized. A bump on the head has Leonardo thinking he and his brothers are "The Four Musketeturtles," April is the queen, and Shredder is the wicked Cardinal. His antics get in the way of the boys trying to rescue Irma, who found a priceless gem that Shredder's after.

Worked on my story and my Pinterest for a while next. Maz and Ben finish their conversation by the woodpile. Does Han know about Luke's history, she asks him. Yes, to a degree, Ben explains. He knows what Luke is, but not who his parents are. Ben isn't sure Han is entirely trustworthy, due to his shady past and associations with people like the grotesque crime lord Jenkins Huttman.

They take Mon Mothma's yacht across the river to Coruscant. Luke tells Leia about Mon Mothma's huge estate by the river. They're lucky they can hold onto their estate. Vader has raised taxes again, to the point where half the country is starving. Leia's incensed and wants to do something about it. Luke does, too, but Han isn't interested and would rather the boy concentrated on business.

Finished the night with a variation on "Kit's Cincinatti Chili" from Kit's Cooking Studio. I replaced the ground beef with ground turkey and added a bit of home-made chicken broth and chopped two stalks of celery. Mom always added celery to our chili when I was a kid. Yumm. Came out very rich and flavorful.

Did another Bob Hope swashbuckling spoof while I ate and after I took a shower. Casanova's Big Night has Hope as Peepo the tailor's assistant. He finds himself impersonating the Great Lover (Vincent Price) when he runs out on his bills, including that of the beautiful grocery woman (Joan Fontaine). If he can get a certain petticoat from a young woman engaged to be married, he'll be given 10,000 ducats, more than enough to cover their debits. Not only does Peebo end up liking the girl and admiring her devotion to her lover, but he uncovers a plot by the evil Doge (Douglass Dumbrille) to take over Venice! It'll take all of Peebo's skills, as a lover and a tailor, to avoid detection and help the young lady get her petticoat back.

Less swashbuckling and more comedy than The Princess and the Pirate, including a hilarious scene where Hope has to fight a duel, and another in the end when he and Fontaine end up in drag. Otherwise, if you're a fan of Hope's brand of humor or action spoofs, you may enjoy this one as well.

Oh, and it turns out there's a few local conventions that might be of interest. The big one is a sci-fi convention in the fall, Philcon. A smaller one next month for toy collectors may be better for my level of socializing and my wallet. I'll see if I can get the day off.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sunny Day at Home

Began a sunny day with one of two Remember WENN episodes to spoof popular old movies. Radio station WENN's head writer Betty Roberts is coerced to reading a new play "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece," the station's harried receptionist. The play is a take on Casablanca, with Betty as Ilsa, cheerful organist Eugenia as Sam, mercenary actor/manager Scott Sherwood as Rick, former manager Victor Comstock as Victor Lazlo, Maple LaMarsh as the cafe singer, Mackie Bloom as Major Renault, Mr. Eldridge as the German waiter, Jeff as the matre'd, his ex-wife Hilary as a bar customer, C.J the Technician as the bartender, and Mr. Foley as a Nazi. A sponsor has two letters of "transmit" that'll allow free passage from the country. Trouble is...as with the real Casablanca, Gertie can't figure out an ending for her play. She and Hilary suggest a few before Betty decides Gertie would be better off figuring out her own ending.

I ended up spending most of the day on the computer or the phone. I tried calling Camden County again. I still got either hold or voice mail. This is ridiculous. I'm going to try again on Monday, then just let it lapse. Started my birth certificate, but realized I didn't have some of the information. I e-mailed Mom; haven't heard from her yet. I'll call Dad tomorrow.

I've been organizing and adding two a few more Pinterest boards.Since the trio from the Original Trilogy and the current one had boards, I figured it made sense to give Padme, Anakin, and Obi-Wan from the Prequels their own board as well. (Especially since I'm hoping to do my first prequels-based fics sometime this year.) Also started one on children's books, and one for Disney characters spoofing various franchises (including ones from Disney).

Padme, Anakin, & Obi-Wan - The Prequels Trio
Children's Books
Disney Satire and Crossovers

Actually, the biggest news today was my tax refund finally appeared. I put some money in both savings accounts. I may put more in, depending on what I have left after I pay the rent (on time) next month.

Got so caught up working, I didn't break for lunch until around 4! Watched another episode of Rick Steves' Europe while eating. Munich and Bavaria, with its ample beer gardens, massive palaces, imposing Gothic cathedrals, towering Alpine mountains, and fanciful castles, is the perfect aesthetic for Coruscant in my story.

I finally got around to making that list of repairs that need to be done here after I finished eating. We can start with that cracked window in my bedroom (which has been cracked since I first came here) and end with Charlie's attempt at re-cauking the kitchen sink not having stopped it from leaking. Like the sink in the bathroom, I think the faucet needs to be replaced. Some of the heating grates in the living room are falling apart or falling off the wall. (The heat itself works fine.) Charlie never replaced the tiles around the toilet when he did the plumbing last spring. There's wood panels under the bathroom rug that I'm afraid are going to break. I also mentioned the wardrobe and the dresser falling apart. They're cheap pieces and it's not their fault, but they did come with the house. The sink in the bathroom wasn't entire re-attached and pulls out when I lean on it. One of the shelves in the kitchen cabinet is coming loose. Charlie never fixed the light on the porch after his attempt to attach the Christmas lights to it left it unable to work at all. The shelves in the pantry are old, uneven wood.

Began The Pirate Movie while making Ally's "Snappy" Ginger Snaps. Mabel (Kristy MacNichol) is rather nerdy young woman in Australia who's thrilled to attend a pirate festival with her more glamorous girlfriends, where she gets a crush on a hot guy giving sword fighting demonstrations. Her friends take off with him before she gets a chance to really know him. She goes after them on a pontoon...and when she falls off and hits her head, the resulting dream turns into The Pirates of Penzance. Now, while dealing with a Modern Major General of a tipsy father, archaic rules of whom can marry whom, and her love for a handsome pirate bound by duty to his fellow men, Mable discovers that, when we stand up for ourselves and take control of our own dreams, we're all heroes.

Another long-time childhood favorite of mine. This odd cross between Pirates of Penzance, Pirates of the Caribbean, Moulin Rouge, and the Mel Brooks spoof films wasn't a hit when it debuted in 1982, but it's since picked up an audience on cable. With its feisty, action-oriented heroine and ample rock mixed in with more traditional Gilbert and Sullivan, it might actually have been ahead of its time. If you love action-oriented musicals or want to see an action film with a strong female lead (and aren't a Gilbert and Sullivan purist), this one is worth looking around for.

Did some writing as well. Luke and Leia chat in Maz's small gardens and discover they have a lot in common, including having been raised by an aunt and uncle. Luke had lived with his aunt and uncle until they died and he was taken in by businessman Henry "Han" Solo. Luke has nothing but praise for his guardian, gushing about his intelligence, brilliant engineering abilities, and business prowess.

Ben and Maz finally send the two along to dine with Leia's family. Maz tells Ben about a raid on the Coruscant Armory. Spies stole the plans for some secret weapon...but they weren't the Crimson Hawk's men. They were members of a secret society that is also going against Prime Minister Palpatine and his right-hand men Lord Vader and Govenor Tarkin. Ben says they need to find out more about this society and its aims. They have their own plans to restore freedom in Coruscant, including a "secret weapon" of their own.

Had the last of the leftovers for dinner around quarter after 7. Finished out Pirate Movie, then did Mask of Zorro. This slightly more serious swashbuckler is actually something of a reboot. The original Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) teaches a young thief (Antonio Bandares) how to be the dashing man in the black mask in order to regain all he lost when he was arrested, including his daughter (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The wicked Governor has been hoarding gold and keeping it from the people...but he may have something even more sinister in mind for the workers...

I enjoyed this when it came out, and I still do. I will warn you that, being a late-90's movie, this is a lot more violent than the Tyrone Power or Disney versions, including a severed head being kept in a jar. Otherwise, if you're a fan of the cast or of swashbucklers like me, this is still a lot of fun to watch.

And...I found my old ankle brace, which went far in helping it feel better. I think I'll at least be able to go grocery shopping and work tomorrow.