Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Golden Days

Spent most of the morning and early afternoon writing and avoiding both Charlie and his men working on the porch/roof and a hot, sunny day. After their kiss under the hood, Leia and Harry are feeling a little more kindly to each other. Harry tells Leia that he and his navigator Charel have a friend who knows the black market for artifacts inside and out. Laurence "Larry" Carlyle now runs a hotel and nightclub in Bespin on the French Riviera. No one knows more about the comings and goings of antiques than he does. Leia is a little wary, but with the Falcon stalling and Vader on their trail, they don't really have much of a choice.

They don't see Roberto Fettara, in his garbage-covered truck, hiding in the trees under them. He calls his "boss" - Vader - and tells him that the Silver Falcon is on its way to France...and he has a pretty good idea of where in France it's heading...

Broke for a quick lunch at 1. Writing Harry and Leia's kiss yesterday put me in the mood for something romantic. The Student Prince is an operetta about the unhappy romance of a bar maid and a prince in disguise in Heidleburg in the early 1900's. He falls for her as a college student, but they're unable to marry because she's a commoner. They end up marrying people from their own social classes...but they'll never forget the "golden days" of their romance.

It was sunny when I went to work, hot, hazy, and humid. It's probably a good thing that I only did the carts twice, and not for longer than 20 minutes either time. By quarter of 4, dark clouds had begun to move in. It showered lightly on and off while I was doing carts. The monsoon didn't start until I was on break in the back room. I spent the rest of the afternoon inside. Got stuck in the register a few times. Someone called out, leaving us short on help. Between the weather and the time of year, we were mostly quiet anyway.

Luckily for me, the rain was long gone by the time I got out at 6, though it remained cloudy and humid. I went straight home. There was a message on my machine from Charlie when I got in. Something about the electrician coming tomorrow morning. Great. I'll never get any writing done.

Cheered up with leftovers for dinner and more Lego Clone Wars. Completed "Liberty at Ryloth" and got three more pieces on "Weapons Factory" and one more on "Defenders of the Peace." Completing "Liberty" gave me a standard Original Trilogy Stormtrooper.

Ended the night with Sherlock Gnomes. Garden gnomes across London have gone missing, including all of the gnomes from the garden where Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) live. Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) and his assistant Watson (Chiwetel Ejofor) arrive and bring the feuding lovers along with them. Their trail takes them from a Chinese shop filled with hostile cat figurines to the park to a toy shop that's the home of Sherlock's resentful ex-lover Irene (Mary J. Bilge). While Juliet chats with Irene about the importance of love over duty, Sherlock mourns the loss of Watson, whom he believes was smashed, and Gnomeo finds the missing gnomes at the Tower Bridge. Sinster pie mascot Moriarty (Jamie Demetriou) has evil plans for the gnomes, if Sherlock, Watson, and the lovers can't get to them in time...

This is pretty much the same deal as the original film. It's not bad. The animation is colorful and cute, and there's occasionally some good lines or an interesting idea. But the "appreciate your partner" aesop is cliched and overdone, the mystery is telescoped from miles off, and some of the characters are annoying as heck (like Moriarty - and his design is ugly, too). Blunt comes off best as determined Juliet; Ejofor is also decent as Watson, who just wants his friend to give him his due.

If you have kids who may enjoy the colorful characters or really, really love the cast or the first film, this is worth seeing once. Everyone else can probably in all good faith skip it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Began a hazy morning with instant Cream of Wheat for breakfast and some Bowery Boys to drown out Charlie cursing over the sagging porch/roof. (Hey pal, it's not my fault your idea of "good weather" for working always seems to be during a heat wave.) Jungle Gents is one of the later movies that mainly focuses on Slip and Sach's antics. Sach has been taking huge pills that somehow allow him to smell diamonds. When he stops a robbery, the millionaire owner of the diamonds he saves offers to send the guys to Africa to find a lost diamond mine. The guys are about ready to brain Sach after he loses the map, but he's the one who saves them from an angry witch doctor and figures out who doesn't want them to find that mine.

Work was absolutely no problem whatsoever. We were totally dead all day. Never got even mildly steady. I did carts and gathered trash in the morning, put toilet paper in the bathroom, rounded up more carts, and scrubbed registers in the afternoon.

When I got home, I worked on writing and continued to ignore the guys working outside. Did some re-writing to add a scene where the Silver Falcon, Harry's plane, starts smoking. He brings her down in a valley in the Swiss Alps to check her out. While his co-pilot Charel takes a look at the cockpit with the help of nervous secretary Clarence, Harry and Leia check out the engine. They end up kissing under the hood before Clarence bursts in and ends their romantic rendezvous.

 Broke at 6 to have leftover hot dogs, cucumber salad, and the last of the onion rings for dinner. Made chocolate pudding for dessert. Played Lego Clone Wars after I finished eating. It took me almost an hour and a half, but I finally completed "The Hidden Enemy" and the epilogue level "The Zillo Beast," which netted me Greedo and Chewbacca respectively. I'm going to see if I can finish the remaining levels before I move on to other bonus rounds or finish the bounty hunter levels.

Finished the night with Annie. Based after the long-running comic strip, the title character (Aileen Quinn) is a spunky orphan living in New York City during the Great Depression. She's perpetually running away from the orphanage's soused manager Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) to find her real parents. During one such attempt, she acquires a mutt she names Sandy, whom she brings back with her. Both are taken in shortly after by Grace Farrell (Ann Renniking), the secretary for crusty British billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney). Annie loves her new life with Warbucks and his eccentric staff, but she still wants a real family and her real parents. Miss Hannigan, her brother Rooster (Tim Curry), and his girlfriend Lily (Bernadette Peters) want to exploit her wish and get the reward Warbucks is offering. Annie's friends at the orphanage sound the alarm, and Warbucks' diverse household, including mystical Indian bodyguard Punjab (Geoffrey Holder), go to her rescue.

I've loved this big, bright musical for literally most of my life. According to Mom, it's one of the first live-action movies I ever saw in a theater (along with Return of the Jedi). Critics have been rough on it for years, complaining that it's too far from the stage show (though they have softened on it a bit recently, especially after the modern remake in 2014 proved to be even more polarizing). John Huston may not have been the right choice for director (the movie moves at a snail pace and the action-packed finale is completely out of place), but the numbers are fun, and there's some great performances, especially from Burnett (whose "Little Girls" is a highlight) and Renniking.

If you have little girls who are fans of musicals and can handle the period aspects, give this one a whirl. (Girls looking for a more recent flavor and cast may want to try the 2014 film first.)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

I Can See Clearly Now

I awoke to a gloomy, damp morning. Brightened the day with Blueberry Pancakes and the K-Tel collection I found yesterday, High Energy. It's pretty obvious this is from the height of the disco craze in 1979, with tracks like G.Q*'s "Disco Nights" and "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches & Herb. Other favorites here include "Fire" by Bonnie Pointer, "Le Freak" by Chic, "Love Will Find a Way" by Pablo Cruise, "Renegade" by Styx, and "Knock On Wood" by Amii Stewart.

Spent the rest of the morning writing. Palpatine tells Vader that he wants the swords, and he's to get them by any means necessary...including killing those who have found them. Vader thinks the Skylark twins would make better apprentices instead and convinces his seemingly frail boss to hire them rather than kill them.

Meanwhile, the Silver Falcon is on it's way across Europe. Leia wants to find the Sword of Wisdom, which was stolen from the temple before her godfather Bail's ill-fated dig. Harry suggests they head to the South of France to talk to his friend Laurence Caryle, the owner and manager of a casino in the town of Bespin on the Mediterranean.

It had started raining while I was on the computer. There was even some thunder at one point. It continued as I broke for lunch and finished the High Energy album. Thankfully, it had slowed down somewhat by the time I left for work. I couldn't have gotten a ride. Dad and Jodie went on vacation this week, and I didn't want to drag Rose and her kids out in this. It ended all together just as I rode into the Acme's parking lot. I arrived damp but not soaked.

Work was surprisingly pretty quiet, much more than it usually is on a Sunday. Some folks may have been avoiding the weather; others are still on vacation. It got busy enough at one point for me to briefly end up in a register, and another to do some bagging. Otherwise, I helped the teenagers with the carts and rounded up baskets and trash.

A Tastycake truck parked itself on the patio as I was helping the kids with the last round of carts. They were giving away free Chocolate Juniors (cakes) and Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes. I opted for the latter. I figured they'd be easier to eat on my way home than the slab of chocolate frosting and sponge cake.

Started dinner when I got in. Finally made the turkey hot dogs, with steamed broccoli and brown rice. Yum. Simple and tasty. The broccoli was especially good, given how long I'd had it around. Listened to another K-Tel collection while I ate. Superstars Greatest Hits is from 1974, probably the earliest K-Tel album I own. By far my favorite song on this set is the lovely Oscar-winning theme from The Poseidon Adventure, "The Morning After."

Finished the night with a long Lego Clone Wars session. Completed the prologue "Geonosian Arena" (after I finally figured out how to "corral" the droids in the electric pen) and the bonus missions "Hostage Crisis" and "Castle of Doom." Completing the rounds released Emperor Palpatine, a Red Imperial Guard, and a Tusken Raider respectively. Got three pieces on "Jedi Crash" and one on "Shadow of Malevolence."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summertime Harvest

Started off an absolutely gorgeous morning with breakfast and more Scooby Doo. You can't get much more late 70's than "The Diabolical Disc Demon." Mystery Inc has come to a recording studio to make an album. The writer they were going to work with has vanished, however, leaving behind a half-finished song that a KISS-like ghost seems to be especially interested in.

Charlie appeared around 9, banging and hammering. Turns out, yes, he decided to start taking down the old porch/roof and putting up the new one today. I wish he'd given me some heads-up besides his mother mentioning in the letter I gave to Rose that he'd be starting it "when the weather was right." I'm to come and go via the steep stairs that lead through Charlie's side of the house.

Headed out around 10 to run errands. There was a big green sign for a yard sale on Woodland Terrace at the end of Goff Avenue. Yard sales are rare here in the summer. Alas, I saw nothing of interest and moved on.

Next stop was the Collingswood Farm Market. The summer harvest is in full swing now...and so are the crowds looking for produce for their barbecues and pool parties. I saw cantaloupe and spaghetti squash for the first time today, and the orchard booth finally had the little peaches I like. I also grabbed blueberries, a tomato, and two ears of corn.

I had no other major plans for today, so I decided to stroll around Collingswood for a few hours. I needed new heads for my electric toothbrush; picked them up at Rite Aid. Used the bathroom at the library, then went across the street to InnerGroove Records and checked them out. It took me 40 minutes, but I came up with:

The Story of Star Wars - Five dollars for this book-and-record kids' is cheap compared to what it usually costs elsewhere. The book's missing, but it's not like I don't already have a vintage picture book version of New Hope anyway.

High Energy - Another awesome K-Tel rock collection, this one from 1979

Linda Rondstat - For Sentimental Reasons (replacing a cassette copy I've had for years)

WIBG 30 Big Goldens - Classic rock collection, this one from what was then known as WIBG AM in Philadelphia (they're now WNTP, a conservative talk radio station)

After briefly peeking at Frugli Consignment, I decided some lunch was in order. I forgot how popular Collingswood is on Saturdays. Sabrina's Cafe had a long line; The Pop Shop was full to capacity. Ended up at Tortilla Press for their brunch. While they weren't as busy, there were enough groups there to keep the staff hopping. I watched them and the cars passing by the intersection of Collings and Haddon Avenues outside while having an egg sandwich with peppers and onions for lunch.

Took the long way home via Newton Lake Park across from the CVS, where I watched the fireworks on the 4th. I wish the park wasn't looking so dry. We so badly need rain. Most people must have been in town. I saw one woman coming back from the bus stop on the White Horse Pike and a couple of kids on bikes.

Went right into dusting when I got home. Put on the WIBG collection and turned it up to drown out Charlie's cursing. I shouldn't have put off cleaning for so long. The dust was really bad, especially in my bedroom where the window was open.

Worked on writing for a while after I finished as Charlie pulled ancient siding off the side of the house. Angry over losing his quarry, Vader strangles the officer who'd been in charge of capturing them, then gives the nearest officer, Admiral Piett, his job. He defers only to Palpatine, the dictator of Coruscant, who is also with him. He tells Palpatine that he knows who Luke and Leia are and that he wants to train them and Harry as apprentices. Palpatine thinks this is an excellent idea, especially if they want to get the Sword of Light back and find the other two.

(And I heard Charlie complain after he got the siding off that he found ants burrowing into the side of the house. While I do still on rare occasions see ants in the house, I haven't had a major infestation since that one year there were a couple of branches of old trees leaning on the roof. Charlie, of course, was more worried about them getting into his side than mine.)

Broke at quarter of 6 for a quick leftovers dinner and Lego Clone Wars. Completed "Rookies" and got the character for that round, Darth Maul. Found one more piece on "Shadow of Malevolence" and two on "Lair of Grievous." No luck with "Destroy the Malevolence," though.

Switched to the remaining episodes on the Scooby Doo disc to finish the night. "Scooby's Chinese Fortune Kooky Caper" is slightly less stereotypical than their first Chinese case, "Mystery Mask Mix-Up." A friend of the gang's who lives in China is being haunted by The Moon Monster, a creature so terrifying, it turns anyone who stands in its shadow to stone. The creature wants him to toss family's fortune into the Rampoo River or deal with a terrible curse...but Velma thinks there's more to it than that.

"A Menace In Venice" is a similar story, only this time, they're in Italy, and it's a necklace, rather than an entire treasure, the gang has to defend. A ghost haunts him, insisting that he give up the valuable jewelry.

A ghostly military commander in Puerto Rico warns them "Don't Go Near the Fortress of Fear." Shaggy and Scooby are more than happy to concede his request. The others would rather make a few inquiries as to what he really wants there.

"The Warlock of Wimbleton" frankly looks more like a super-villain from a bad 70's comic book than a warlock who tries to terrorize a young British tennis player into quitting the game. The gang hits Stonehenge to see if the warlock is the real deal.

The disc - and the series - ended in Canada with "The Beast Is Awake at Bottomless Lake." This time, they're on a fishing trip to the title destination when they discover it's going dry. A fishy Beast is driving tourists away from the town and drying up the water. The gang try to figure out what it is that the Beast really wants.

If you're a Scooby fan, these later-day Where are You episodes are just as much fun as the originals from earlier in the 70's. However, taken as a whole, they can get repetitive and a bit dull despite the changes in settings. I can almost understand why they brought in Scrappy shortly after - something different was needed.

The Scooby TV series, especially the earlier ones, are really best taken as they were originally intended to be - in small, bite-sized doses. Binge-watching reveals how formulaic they are; watching episode by episode lets you enjoy the settings and Scooby and Shaggy's antics without the feeling of sameness.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Meddling Kids on Friday the 13th

Began a gorgeous Friday the 13th morning with another Scooby Doo mystery. Skipping the oft-seen "The Creepy Case of Old Iron Face," we moved on to "Jeepers, It's the Jaguaro!" The members of Mystery Inc are on their way to Rio De Janaro for their Carnival when their private plane makes an unexpected stop in the Amazon jungles. They discover that the Jaguaro, a giant half-ape, half-jaguar creature, has been scaring the natives away from the river...and that the natives are head-hunters who are more interested in their noggins than in helping them solve the mystery.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning. Vader gets out of his majestic Duseberg just in time to see the Silver Falcon and Wedge's plane the Rogue fly off in different directions. He strangles one of the Imperials to death for not being able to stop him or to stop the fire from consuming an entire wing of the Armory, including Tarkin and their original blueprints for the laser guns.

Broke for a peach-brown sugar smoothie and more Scooby Doo at 12:30. Shaggy and Scooby would love nothing more than to "Make a Beeline Away from that Feline" when they discover that a strange green cat-like monster is robbing jewelry stores in New York City. Daphne's aunt is convinced that a medallion she got in the mail is transforming her into the creature. Velma and Fred think there's more to it than a fairy-tale spell, starting with her rather creepy doctor.

Headed to the Acme after lunch to get my schedule and do some grocery shopping. This week's schedule is once again...actually pretty darn good. Only two days off, next Friday and Saturday, but more hours, and nothing out of line for this time of year.

While I didn't need a whole lot more this week than I did last week, I did need a few pricey things. Ground turkey and turkey hot dogs were the cheapest meats I could buy. Picked up cherries on a good sale. The Acme's also having a big sale this week on ice cream in pints; went with Ben & Jerry's new "Moolatta" PB Dough ice cream, which I had an extra online coupon for. Several healthy instant hot breakfast cereals were on the clearance shelves. I grabbed Cream of Wheat's Mixed Berry with Almonds. Restocked butter, cheese, skim milk, yogurt, canned black beans, and canned chicken.

Ran more Scooby Doo while I put everything away. "The Creepy Creature of Vulture's Claw" is a giant bug-man who's terrorizing a historic garden. There seems to be too many suspects in this case, including a bumbling professor who wants to buy the place, a developer who wants to tear it down, a nerdy assistant, and the gatekeeper, who just doesn't want anyone on his land. Even Velma is confused...until she and the others figure out why the bug is really after the gardens.

Went right back out to do the laundry as soon as the episode ended. Maybe I should have done this earlier in the day. It was mobbed when I arrived. I grabbed one of the last two washers open, and there weren't that many dryers, either. I focused on my story notes and tried not to bump into too many people.

Once again, I put everything away, then went out again as soon as I was finished. I wanted to have a nice swim and talk to Dad and Jodie. One of the neighbors and their 4-year-old daughter Savannah were already in when I arrived. I swam around them and laughed as they chased each other and dove underwater and played tag and hit each other with foam noodles. The water was just perfect, warm but not bathwater-warm like it was on the 4th. A cool wind blew ripples across the water's aqua-blue surface.

I offered to pay half of my train tickets for my vacation now and pay Dad and Jodie back for the rest in the fall. The bike was a birthday gift, but they did mostly pay for the air conditioner. I felt pretty bad about that. They said they were fine with the tickets, and that I should save for my rent and for spending money on my trip.

Found out from Jodie that, after having lived together and having two kids (and two dogs) together for at least a decade, Rose and Craig got officially married in the winter. TJ even married them. Something about insurance purposes. I don't care that they didn't do a wedding, but it would have been nice if they'd told me.

After we all got out of the pool and the neighbors went home for dinner, Jodie ordered us all hoagies, onion rings, and hot wings from Amato Bros on the White Horse Pike. She was fit to be tied when she finally came in with the food. Evidently, they made her wait for it, and they forgot Jesse's hot peppers. (Good thing he didn't really care at that point.) I was just happy to enjoy my enormous roast beef and provolone hoagie and crispy and oily onion rings. There was so much of both, I took half the hoagie and part of the order of onion rings home with me.

Went straight in the shower when I got in, then did two quick rounds of Lego Clone Wars. I'm finally starting to wind down most of the main missions. Picked up three pieces on "Grevious Intrigue" and one on "Rookies."

Finished the night with a horror-oriented Bowery Boys movie for Friday the 13th. They think they're Master Minds when Sach gets a toothache that allows him to predict the future, and they set him up as a carnival swami. They're not the only ones who are after his amazing powers. A mad scientist kidnaps him and actually manages to switch his brain with that of his hulking monster. Now a giant hairy man is talking like goofy Sach, and Sach is acting like a brute. Gabe, Slip, and the other guys follow the monster to a spooky mansion to switch them back.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Busy Library Day

I awoke to a sunny, windy day. Spent the morning finally getting to this month's cleaning after breakfast. Scrubbed the kitchen, then made the bed and vacuumed the apartment. Did some dusting in the kitchen, but I'll likely save most of that for tomorrow or Saturday.

I also figured out how to program the air conditioner, which really isn't that hard. Just push the "Delay" button and set it to however many hours delay you want. As it turned out, I didn't really need it at all. When I opened the door to hang my rugs, there was a wonderfully cool wind. Ended up turning the air conditioner off and opening the windows instead.

Tried something for lunch around quarter after 12. I've really been enjoying the smoothies I've made lately. My lunch today was a Banana-Pineapple Smoothie, made with vanilla yogurt, honey, peanut butter, crushed pineapple, and a too-ripe banana that was in the fridge. Yum. Filling and just sweet enough. I appropriately had my good-for-you treat while listening to my Disney Mousercise record from the 80's.

Headed out for an errand and library run after I finished lunch. The Oaklyn Library was actually pretty busy for them. Along with people on the computers, there was a mom and child who were volunteering, wiping the chalk board on one wall of the kids' area. I settled for organizing DVDs and just took a cursory glance at the kids' books.

Hit Dollar Tree next. I'd been able to dig up enough quarters to buy a new shower curtain. I realized while cleaning the bathroom yesterday that the old one was disgusting. The mini-Target at the Westmont Plaza is very close to being done. The sign is up and everything. AC Moore is open; I'll check that one out the next time I actually have money.

The Haddon Township Library was also incredibly busy, especially in the kids' area. I heard something going on in the meeting room, a lot of adults talking. They must have all left their kids with the computers. I dodged them and shelved kids' DVDs. Despite the crowd, there wasn't really much else to do or shelve. I did take out the newly-arrived Sherlock Gnomes and the third season of Scooby Doo, Where are You?, plus the classic Robert Redford baseball drama The Natural, a book on feminism, and a book by JK Rowling on failure and creativity.

Took Newton Lake Park home to avoid the traffic on Cuthbert. Despite the still-nice day, there weren't that many people around. I mainly dodged Canadian geese. Their loss. The park, despite looking a bit withered thanks to our lack of rain, is still lovely. The light sparkled on the green lake, and the trees are at least still pretty green.

Went right on the computer as soon as I got home. Clarence finally says good-bye to Artie, who is joining Luke on his way to San Francisco. Artie knows Yoda well; he figures he might be able to help the kid. Everyone else who's leaving takes off in the Falcon...to the frustration of Vader...

Broke for dinner and a Lego Clone Wars session at quarter of 7. Completed "Ambush!" and "Gungan General." Got four more pieces on "The Hidden Enemy" and one more on "Liberty at Ryloth." I just can't figure out where that final piece on "Liberty" is. I'll look it up tonight.

Finished the night with a couple of Scooby Doo episodes. The gang says "Watch Out! The Willawaw!" when they see a strange wraith-like monster on their way to visit Velma's Uncle Dave. He's a ranger who normally lives in a cabin in the woods, but he's vanished. Shaggy and Scooby suspect that the two giant owl-men they've seen prowling around and the expensive items they found may have something to do with it.

Mystery Inc floats a bit into sci-fi territory for "A Creepy Tangle in the Bermuda Triangle." They're on a boat trip in the Caribbean when they see what looks like a UFO beaming up airplanes. Velma thinks there may be something more to this mystery than aliens and mother ships, especially when someone tries to scare them away from the island they end up marooned on.

They're visiting a friend in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night, only to discover that she and the town are being hounded by the ghost of a witch who looks just like her in "To Switch a Witch." The townspeople are convinced that the witch has returned for her revenge...and almost string up Shaggy and Scooby, whose trick-or-treat costumes look a lot like the real thing. (Skipped "A Scary Night With a Snow Beat Fright," which I have elsewhere.)

"The Tar Monster" is driving all the workers away from an archaeological dig in Turkey. Everyone says it's cursed, but Velma and Fred think there's another reason for the creature to want the workers away from the inner sanctum of the city they're unearthing.

"A Highland Fling With a Monstrous Thing" has a few things in common with "To Switch a Witch." Once again, the group is called upon to help a friend save her home from a ghost. This time, the friend has been renting her castle to tourists, but another ancestor's ghost can use bagpipes to call the Loch Ness Monster to drive them away. The gang look for a more realistic reason for the ghost to not want tourists snooping around.

Dark clouds had begun to build as early as my ride through the Park. By the time I was writing, we were in the midst of a soft shower. The rain cleared out the heat. It was cool after it left, enough that I've left the air conditioner off for the remainder of the night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Living In Interesting Times

Began a sunny, bright morning with a quick breakfast and Alice In Wonderland. This Peter Pan LP from the 70's is a condensed musical version of the classic fantasy novel. Alice is a normal kid who gets caught up in some pretty wild adventures, from playing croquet with a flamingo for a mallet and a hedgehog for a ball to listening to a Mock Turtle tell her about his school days. Some of the songs here are rather well-done for a children's album. My favorites are the dreamy title number and "The Queen Has Commanded" during the croquet game, as Alice tries to figure out how to deal with the Queen of Hearts' bouts of temper.

Work was...interesting. While I mostly spent the first half of the day outside doing carts and the second half doing returns and and emptying trash cans, what happened in between was a little more exciting. I found a dead beaver on the parking lot. Don't ask me how he managed to drag himself from the creek on the other side of Audubon Park and across several streets. One of the morning cashiers helped me get rid of him. I also cleaned up after a flood in the men's bathroom.

Read a chapter of The Wizard of London when I got home to cool off, then went into today's writing session. Luke heads off to Wally "Wedge" Antilles, a British pilot working for the rebels who'll take him and Artie to San Francisco. Harry takes Leia, Clarence, and Charel on his plane, escaping at the last minute as the Rogue One rebels take on the Imperial troops.

Broke a bit earlier than usual, at 5:30. I wanted to finally start cleaning. I put it off for way too long. The bathroom was gross, especially the sink and bathtub. Finished that, then made that black bean dip for dinner. Used the tomato sauce that's been around for a while in place of diced or sliced tomatoes. Yum! It actually came out really well, melding nicely with the vegetables, Monterrey Jack cheese, and taco sauce.

Ran The Rescuers as I worked and ate my meal. We're introduced to Bianca (Eva Gabor), the Hungarian agent for the Rescue Aid Society, a kind of mouse United Nations, as the organization reveals a message in a bottle. An orphaned girl (Michelle Stacy) was kidnapped by a pair of greedy pawn shop owners, Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page) and Mr. Snoops (Joe Flynn), who want her to crawl into a cave and find a huge diamond. Bianca selects Bernard (Bob Newhart), the Society's nervous janitor, as her partner in finding the girl. Bernard's not too sure about this, especially when getting down south requires riding an albatross (Jim Jordan) with dubious flying ability. Bianca's more optimistic, but even she has her doubts when they're faced with the nasty Medusa and her mouse-chasing alligators. It'll take all their wits and resources, as well as the help of several local bayou critters, to chase Medusa out of the swamp and rescue Penny and the diamond.

Moved on to Lego Clone Wars as soon as I finished eating. Did "Ambush!" and "Duel of the Droids" again. Found one more piece in the former and three more in the latter. I'm still having problems with the final bounty hunter mini-round. I just can't get Cad and Jango to fly high enough to throw the last thermal detonator.

Finished the night after a shower with the second Rescuers film, The Rescuers Down Under. This time, Bernard and Bianca fly with Wilbur the Albatross (John Candy), brother of Orville, to Australia to investigate the disappearance of Cody (Adam Ryen), a boy who is especially close to a rare golden eagle. The boy was captured by Percival C. McLeach (George C. Scott) and his pet goanna lizard Joanna (Frank Welker), who hope to use him as bait to trap the beautiful bird. The Rescuers are aided by Australian agent Jake (Tristan Rogers), a rugged kangaroo mouse who helps them find their way across the outback. He also flirts with Bianca, to the frustration of Bernard, who wants to ask her to marry him. The trio have to figure out how to get past McLeach without revealing where the golden eagle is, while Wilbur deals with a group of medical mice whose idea of back surgery would look more appropriate in a horror film.

Both Rescuers films are among the most underrated Disney ever made, and are high on my list of all-time favorite Disney movies. The first film was a huge hit in 1977; the second was a surprise flop in 1990. Both have excellent casts having a great time with the material, some enjoyable action sequences, and two of the darkest and most hissable villains in the entire Disney line-up in McLeach and Medusa. While the animation hasn't dated that well in the first film, it looks magnificent in the second. Rescuers Down Under was the first film to be shot entirely digital, without the use of a regular camera. The artwork is downright glowing, especially in the amazing flight sequences.

I suspect the second film ran into the same problem as Treasure Planet over a decade later; audiences were too conditioned to expect a typical light-hearted musical in the early 90's, especially after the runaway success of The Little Mermaid a year earlier. It also ran into stiff competition from a far more beloved family film, Home Alone.

Many critics at the time questioned the plot, complaining that it was too dark or convoluted, and that the Rescuers themselves don't appear until a third of the way in, and Disney itself pulled its marketing when it became obvious it was going to bomb. Nowadays, it's seen as something of a minor cult favorite among people who grew up in the early and mid-90's and got to catch it on home video. If you have older kids who enjoy animal stories ala Zootopia or action tales, they may want to sign up with Bernard, Bianca, and the Rescue Aid Society, too.