Friday, July 01, 2016

Summer Holiday Weekend

Began a steamy hot and humid day with breakfast and Spectre. James Bond (Daniel Craig) is suspended by the new M (Ralph Fiennes) after going on a rogue mission in Mexico City. That doesn't stop him from investigating a video message from the late previous M (Dame Judi Dench) that leads him on a trail to an all-encompassing organization that all of the head villains from the other (Craig-era) films belonged to. With the help of a lovely psychiatrist (Lea Seydoux) and his co-workers Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), he tracks down the head of the group known as Spectre. Things get a lot more complicated when it turns out the the leader (Christoph Waltz) has a personal vendetta against Bond...and connections to C (Andrew Scott) and his new computer system that can track any information in the world.

I've mostly been a fan of the Daniel Craig Bond, and this one is no exception. I really enjoyed some nice action set pieces (especially in the first half of the film) and the return of some elements from earlier movies that had been missing in the Bond films of the 90's and 2000's (Spectre as the bad guys, Blofeld, wacky villain hideouts). I also love that the rest of Bond's coworkers (including the adorable Whishaw, who is just as charismatic as the previous Qs) get in on the action.

On the other hand, a lot of people have been kind of rough on this, partially because it is a comedown from the well-received (if slightly depressing) Skyfall. The Bond girls barely rate as anything besides dolls to be saved; Seydoux has no chemistry with Craig whatsoever. The plot, especially in the second half, really reaches to tie the previous films together and comes off as bizarre, even by Bond standards. The movie goes on for far too long and has at least two climaxes too many.

I'm going to say, if you loved the previous Craig Bond movies, check this one out, too...but start with the 2006 Casino Royale to get to know Craig's version better if you're new to his darker Bond or the Bond series in general. (Incidentally, the credits do say "James Bond Will Return." Given MGM's current financial problems, we'll see how long that takes.)

I headed out around quarter of noon, right after Spectre ended. Started this week's errands at the Oaklyn Library. Though there was a family with kids there when I arrived and a few other folks came and went, the librarian said it had otherwise been really quiet. She didn't even have the TV on. I organized the DVDs and the kids' books in silence.

Made a quick stop at WaWa for money after I left the library, then went across the White Horse Pike to Jalapeno's Grill for lunch. They either finally hired more help or replaced the other waitress. There was a different girl today who was much, much faster. My tasty chicken quesadillas came in record time and were nice and hot, with lots of shredded chicken and melted cheese. I was less fond of the mushy, box-mix Spanish rice and the refried beans, but at least it was filling. I was in and out in record time.

Dodged the tail end of the lunch-hour traffic on my way to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session there. There was actually less to do than at Oaklyn. I shelved a few DVDs, CDs, and audio books and organized the kids' DVDs. I took out a few movies. They finally had last fall's The Peanuts Movie in, as well as the original Jurassic Park. I've only seen bits and pieces of that - I figured I'd better check out the rest of the series before giving Jurassic World a shot. Air Force One is one of the last of Harrison Ford's big 80's/90's thrillers I have any interest in.

The sun had been in and out of clouds as early as my arrival at the Oaklyn Library. That didn't make things any cooler or less humid. I was sweating bullets by the time I finally pulled in at the Acme to get my schedule and do this week's shopping.

Mixed feelings on next week's schedule. I work at 9 AM all week, including on the 4th of July. Friday and Saturday off again. On one hand, this means I'll have plenty of time to write and check out the barbecues and fireworks on the 4th, not to mention avoid the 90 degree heat we're supposed to get late next week. On the other hand, working all this week was a literal pain, I have no idea when I'm going to get to the laundry, and I'll have to miss the 4th of July parade in Oaklyn for the second year in a row.

Grocery shopping went a little better. I didn't need much, anyway. I found ground turkey on a decent sale and chicken sausages with manager's coupons. Restocked milk, eggs, cereal (Quaker was on sale - went with Cinnamon Oatmeal Squares), crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, canned chicken, cake mix, brown and white sugar, and white flour. Found more rolls of the older generic Acme brand tape on clearance. The Acme has these adorable Finding Dory bags on the registers right now. I'm not the biggest fan of Finding Nemo, but I couldn't resist the one that had all of the characters done in a cute, flat cut-out style, showing off Dory's big smile.

It was too hot to linger outside, and the clouds were getting thicker and thicker. Thankfully, it waited until I had been at home for at least a half-hour to start pouring. We did get a nice, heavy shower, but it didn't last long. It was sunny again well before I finished my writing.

Leia catches this universe's version of the Han/Greedo incident. She's appalled that he would kill someone. He points out that he was defending himself, and in his business, it's kill or be killed. She asks Maz, the crusty old lady who owns the pilot bar, why he did that and is he trustworthy? She more-or-less says he's doing his job and yes, he's trustworthy. She then goes on to say Leia seems familiar. She's seen eyes like her's before...perhaps during the Great War era...

I had chicken sausages cooked in a lemon-wine sauce and steamed broccoli for dinner. Tried something different for dessert. I'm craving chocolate, but it's too hot to bake. I tried a variation on the "Frozen Hot Chocolate" recipe in the Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts cookbook I picked up a few months ago. It's just milk, cocoa, and sugar made into a paste, then cooked until the right temperature and thickness. Instead of freezing it all the way and breaking up the pieces for a smoothie-style drink, I let it freeze half-way and made my own version of Edy's long-gone Chocolate Sorbet. Wow, was this chocolate-y. It's so sweet and rich and decadent, you'd never believe it's made with skim milk. I think it came out even better than Edy's.

Watched Summer Holiday as I enjoyed my meal. This cute musical from 1948 depicts a typical family in Connecticut in the early 1900's. The dad, a newspaper owner (Walter Huston) is fed up with his middle son Richard's (Mickey Rooney) increasingly outlandish ideas about the rights of the common man. Richard just wishes his girl Muriel (Gloria DeHaven) would be less scared of falling in love. When his attempts to enlighten her get them both into trouble, he tries to prove he's grown-up enough for the real world when he courts a floozy (Marilyn Maxwell)...and discovers that maybe he's not quite ready for adulthood just yet. Meanwhile, Uncle Sid (Frank Morgan) wants to court Lily (Agnes Moorehead), but she disapproves of his drinking and inability to hold down a job.

One of director Rouben Mamoulien's last major projects, this does have some nice touches, including the use of his signature flowing dialogue-into-song in the opening. Though Rooney and DeHaven are way too old for their roles, the supporting cast comes off better, especially Huston as Rooney's (mostly) supportive father.

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