Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Way to Treat a Writer

If you've seen the news, you may have already guessed that I never left the apartment today. I awoke to a completely white world...and a phone call. It was Rose. The main roads were clear, but many back roads weren't, and visibility was next to nothing. I would have to call out. It didn't bother my managers when I called. The one I talked to said everyone else called out. It bothered the heck out of me. It was only four hours, but I needed them. My paycheck is going to be worthless next week. Rose said she was going to walk over to Dad's later with Khai. She invited me along, but if I couldn't get to work, there was no way I was going anywhere else.

I settled on a snow day instead. Started things off with breakfast and the rest of the live-action Disney Cinderella, which I began last night. If you know the original Disney animated film (or the Charles Perrault story that inspired both), you know the story. Cinderella (Lily James) is the put-upon servant of her selfish stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and two silly and stupid stepsisters. She meets Prince Kit (Richard Madden) on a ride in the country and falls for him. She'd love to go to the ball in his honor, but her mother destroys the only good outfit she has. Enter her slightly daffy fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), whose magic will allow her to attend the ball and step into the limelight. Her stepmother's not happy about that, though, and neither is the Duke, who wants the Prince to marry a princess from another kingdom in a political alliance. But true love will find a way...and teach everyone a lesson in the importance of being yourself.

First of all, this was a vast improvement over the badly botched Maleficent. The characters felt a lot truer to both the original Disney film and the Perrault tale they're based after. Kit, while a tad shallow, is still more interesting than the cardboard prince from the animated movie. Blanchett and Carter are even better as the two very different mother figures in Cinderella's life. The cinematography is incredible. I especially love the use of color. Cinderella's famous blue ballgown pops in a rich Technicolor tapestry at the ball. It felt like an exquisite fantasy of the 1940's and 50's. I also like the allusion to the Grimm's version as well with the emphasis on Cinderella's relationship with her mother. (And no, the animals don't talk here or rescue anybody.)

Ironically, my main problem once again was with the lead protagonist...but it's sort of the opposite problem from Maleficent. Where Maleficent seemed totally out of line with her original characterization, a little too updated, Cinderella could have stood for more updating. She actually seems more passive than in the original, often standing around and being mistreated, where in the cartoon, she would have had at least a saucy remark. And the ending is just a little weird, even for a fantasy.

The quibble about Cindy aside, I still highly recommend this, especially for princess-crazy girls. (It also gives me high hopes for the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast Disney's talking about for next year.)

I thought the day was perfect for trying something I hadn't made in years. It's been ages since I've made bread, real yeast bread. I don't really eat it that often, but the day seemed to call for it. Why run to the store for it when you can make it yourself? I kept forgetting it was rising. Otherwise, my Buttermilk Rye-Whole Wheat loaf came out pretty well, nice and moist and a bit chewy.

Stuck to fairy tales while I did lunch. "The Snow Queen" episode of Fairy Tale Theatre seemed rather appropriate. Gerda and Kai are best friends, but one day, Kai gets a shard of glass in his eye, sent to Earth by a mischievous goblin. The shard makes Kai discontented and nasty. He falls off the roof and is rescued by the mysterious Snow Queen, who takes him to his kingdom to teach him about love. Meanwhile, Gerda goes to literally the ends of the Earth to find her friend. Neither snow nor a lonely summer sorceress or a spunky thief will keep Gerda from finding Kai.

Moved onto sitcoms as I decided to try something a little different. One of the chocolate chip cookie recipes in the Country Cookies cookbook Lauren gave me last year includes pudding mix in the list of ingredients. I'd never seen that before. I only had chocolate pudding mix, so I added the coffee extract and mint chocolate chips I got on clearance at work and turned Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies into Mocha Mint Chip Cookies. Yum. Could have used a tad more chocolate and coffee flavor (if I make these again, I'll up the amount used for both). Otherwise, not bad at all.

A two-parter towards the end of the second season of Perfect Strangers was Balki and Larry's first of three encounters with bad vacations. "Snow Way to Treat a Lady" has the duo joining their girlfriends Mary Anne and Jennifer on a skiing trip. Trouble is, Larry can't ski, and Balki never has before. Larry lies to Jennifer that he's a great skier. He tries to show off, but he lands them in a cabin during an avalanche. The boys try to tunnel their way out.

When the cookies were out of the oven, I set the bread to rise a second time, then worked on writing and did stuff online. I finally finished out Babes In WENNLand. Lisa and Alan get a ride home with a mysteriously familiar Santa. They try to ask him questions, but fall asleep on the way. When Lisa wakes up, they're back at WENN, and their mother has arrived for them. Scott and Betty (who are going on a date) brings them to her. Lisa tells her mother she's learned a lot...and that she doesn't mind being a kid so much anymore.

Whew! I know that took a while, but life, illness, holidays, and my renewed interest in Star Wars got in the way more often than not. The next story I have planned is something totally different - an original fairy tale about a young woman who discovers a mysterious man half-dead in the forest. When the shy young storyteller takes him home to tend to his wounds, she finds herself on the adventure of a lifetime when he turns out to be far more than just an ordinary woodsman.

This one is really intended to be short and (cross your fingers!) shouldn't take more than a week or two, tops. After that, I'll move onto the Star Wars 80's story, then either do the Star Wars fairy tale or return to Once Upon a Time In the Land of WENN, depending on how I feel.

At any rate, Babes In WENNLand is now available at my writing blog. I'm not up to posting it at my WENN site tonight - I may see if I can get it up there tomorrow.

Ran the first half of That's Entertainment Part III while having leftovers for dinner. The That's Entertainment movies make great background music when I'm either not in the mood for something with a plot, or need background music, or just can't decide on which musical I want to watch. This was the third and final That's Entertainment documentary, focusing on cut or unused numbers. Among my favorites - Lena Horne's "Ain't It the Truth" in the bubble bath from Cabin In the Sky and Judy Garland's adorable "Doin' What Comes Naturally" from Annie Get Your Gun.

And...yeah, it's been snowing for most of the day, sometimes heavily. While the winds don't sound as bad as they did earlier, they were really going this morning and afternoon. If it's snowing at all now, it's nothing like it was when Rose called this morning. My porch is a sea of white crystal dunes. Miss Willa shoveled a path on my porch around 3:30; it's half-covered again now.

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