Thursday, April 18, 2013

Balance and the Warrior Maiden

I finally got to yoga for the first time in weeks. I almost wish I hadn't. I'm so out of shape! I had a hard time keeping up with the class today. It wasn't even a big class. I can do pretty well when we're in the standing poses, like warrior. I have a hard time lifting myself or doing poses that involve more arm work, like upward-facing dog and many versions of headstand.

After class, I went around the front to see if Yogawood had next month's class schedules out yet. They didn't, but I noticed something else just as interesting across the street. DiBartalo Bakery was in the midst of remodeling the last time I was in Collingswood. They appear to be done now...and from the outside, they're almost totally different. The building still reeks 70s (not much anyone can do with that boxy design), but the dark maroon, brown, and beige exterior seen on the website has been replaced with bright sky blue and lemon yellow paint with white trim and no overhang. The interior has also been painted in lighter colors, but otherwise seems to be the same. I bought a tiny cupcake just a big bigger than my thumb. It was ok...but the thick icing was rich and delicious. I'm glad I just bought a small one.

Rode over to the Oaklyn Library next. There wasn't much going on there. I organized a few adult DVDs and some children's books, but I ended up reading more. It was mainly older people on the computer or reading the newspaper. When the library's internet down and most of the patrons decided to head out, I figured I'd do the same.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment. I had leftover Ground Chicken Vegetable Soup and made chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies. The remaining items from my birthday order, the Disney movie Mulan and the second-to-last Vesper Holly story (and the last one that I needed), The Philadelphia Adventure, arrived while I was eating. I ran Mulan while the cookies were baking.

Mulan is usually marketed as a Disney princess, but she's neither a princess, nor a typical Disney heroine. She's the daughter of an Imperial Chinese farmer and his wife who is smart and sensible but a bit clumsy. Her clumsiness (and the "lucky" cricket her grandmother gives her for a good-luck gift) gets her into trouble with the local matchmaker, who tells her that she'll never be a traditional honorable Chinese woman. To add to her troubles, her disabled father is inducted into the Army, and she embarrasses him by trying to keep him from leaving. To spare him more shame, she dresses as a man and goes in his place. At first, the other men on the Army mock her, including her handsome captain, until they see what she can do when she's determined. Will Mulan's courage and guts be enough to save her homeland and its ruler, before the Huns invade and her secret is discovered?

Mulan is a bit of an oddity in the Disney canon. While it does use some of the expected elements, like wacky sidekicks (Eddie Murphy is Mushu, the dragon who is supposed to bring Mulan home) and music that moves the plot along, they're shoved into what for Disney is a fairly dark story. The Huns aren't playing games. This is war, as Mulan and the other members of her unit discover the hard way when they encounter a village that's been destroyed. There's more action here than in any other Disney "princess" movie. Mulan herself is a great character. Unlike the other Disney ladies, she's clumsy and tries a bit too hard...but she's also very smart, sensible, and determined.

My biggest complaint here is the music. As I mentioned, it feels shoehorned in. This war-oriented tale didn't need to be a musical, and even when it came out, I wasn't a big fan of the soundtrack. (I had it on cassette for a while, but got rid of it ages ago and never missed it.) I do have a mild fondness for the goofy "I'll Make a Man Out of You," performed by Donny Osmond for the troop training montage. Otherwise, none of the songs here are terribly memorable, including the drippy "Reflections."

Beautifully done and highly recommended; like Brave, this is great for older girls who don't go in for the girlier stuff, or for mothers looking for an animated heroine who'd rather save the day than the man (though she does manage to do that, too).

Work was mildly busy all night, with no major problems and, unlike yesterday, more than enough help. One of the managers is training three of our recently-hired teen baggers as cashiers. I stocked spices while they practiced with customers. My relief, one of the few older woman who works later, was right on time, and I was in and out with no problems.

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