Monday, January 23, 2017

Day of the Storm

It wasn't raining when I got up this morning. It was cloudy and very windy. I drowned out the wind with Schoolhouse Rock. Having enjoyed the Best of CD yesterday, I thought I'd run some of the actual cartoons. Multiplication Rock is the very first segment from 1973. It features one of the biggest hit numbers from the entire series, the ballad "Three Is a Magic Number." "Figure Eight," "Elementary" (times two), and "Ready or Not, Here I Come" (times five) are also fun.

Money Rock debuted much later, in the mid-90's. It's not generally that well-regarded, but some of the shorts are fairly catchy. Along with the pointed "Tyrannosaurus Debt," I like "Dollars and Sense" (on banks and loans) and "This for That" (on bartering and the history of money).

Went on the computer for a little while. I did sign up for taxi service Uber...but I should have read further on the site. First of all, you do have to pay a fee to get where you're going, sometimes as much as 10 dollars or more to get a half-hour. Second, you need an app to call them when you need them. I have a very old cell phone that doesn't support apps. They may be useful for short rides to work when all else fails, but when I want to go further than a few minutes, I think I'll stick to the bus and train.

I also did a little research on NJ services. I don't think I can get Social Security, but there are other programs I could look into, including Food Stamps. I may try applying online, though I do want to talk to the family first. I'll need a ride to get to Camden for interviews.

Broke around 2 for a late lunch. Made Cranberry Flummery while watching Good Eats. The storm was in full swing by this time, with gale-force winds and heavy showers. I thought "Going Dutch" was appropriate. While I don't have a grill, a Dutch oven, or the patience to bake on the grill, that didn't stop some of Alton's recipes from sounding delicious (especially the cherry clafouti). "Going Crackers" proves that yes, you can make your favorite cracker recipes, from graham to seeded, without ever opening a box.

Spent the rest of the afternoon working on stories. Leia asks Commander Kes Dameron and two of his men if he saw Han and his carriage on the road. Nope, all they saw was a dirty servant in an broken-down hay cart pulled by an old horse. Obi-Wan explains about the time limit on his magic. Leia and Luke want him to take them to Han right away, but the old magician insists that they wait for morning.

The next day, Han is on cloud nine. Even if he never sees Leia again, at least he got to spend one night with her. Unfortunately, his behavior has been noticed by a suspicious Boba Fett. He's even more suspicious when he overhears two of Jabba's men talking about holding Obi-Wan and Luke for ransom and forcing Leia to marry one of them. He takes off on Falcon, but Boba Fett and the bandits he attacked a few days before capture him.

He's brought back to Jabba's cellar bound and gagged. Jabba has no desire for him to win his princess, or for her to recognize him. Fett gleefully cuts his face and chops off his shaggy red-brown hair. They're going to coat him in metal and make him into a statue when the royal carriage arrives. Jabba has him locked in an empty wine barrel instead.

I made a quick "spinach pancake" (spinach, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms) for dinner while watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. We skip ahead to 1957. Indy is still searching for treasures and still fighting bad guys, but otherwise, many things have changed. It's the Russians who are after him now, especially Lieutenant Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). She wants him to find a certain crystal skull that may lead to a lost temple where a vast treasure - including more skulls - is said to be hidden. Indy has to battle his way out of Russian jeeps, man-eating ants, and a temple that may be more out-of-this-world that he's ready for. Meanwhile, a greaser named Mutt (Shia LaBouf) is also after the skull...and he leads Indy to his long-lost former flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen).

I don't hate this as much as a lot of people do, but it does have its problems. LaBouf does feel out of place as Mutt. I have no idea why they even had the character of Mac, Indy's friend. This was his first appearance, and it feels hard to care about what he does or what he means to Indy the way we're supposed to. And yes, some of the action is a little over the top, especially the whole thing with the monkeys. As with the Star Wars prequels, the obvious CGI in places tends to take one out of the serial atmosphere, rather than add to it.

On the other hand, I actually like the sci-fi oriented plot. It's creative, it suits the era, and it's no stranger than any of the other stories in the series. Indy's reunion with Marion is beautifully handled, too, and I thought Cate Blanchett made a nice, hissable villain.

Is it the worst of the series? No. (I still think that's Temple of Doom.)  Is it the best? In all honesty...not really. It is an enjoyable sci-fi action tale with some really nifty fight sequences. If you're a fan of the other Indiana Jones movies, swing on over...but I'd recommend at least seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark before coming here to understand Indy's relationship with Marion a bit better.

Finished out the night with another campy sci-fi tale, the 1980 Flash Gordon. This one is a tad bit more straightforward. New York Jets quarterback Flash (Sam Jones) finds himself thrust into space with the lovely travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and the crazy scientist Zarkov (Topol). It seems the evil dictator Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydrow) is using a ray that's causing the major weather disturbances on Earth. Flash will literally fight to the death in order to win his lady love and bring together the Prince Barin (Timothy Dalton) and his people of the forests and King Vultan and his hawk men (Brian Blessed).

Candy colored lunacy is now a cult favorite, with an awesome Queen score. If you love unabashedly wacky space opera that doesn't take itself seriously for a second, you'll want to look up this one.

And...yeah. The rain and wind has continued all day. I never left the house. I work until 4 tomorrow. I'll have to put off the laundry until Wednesday again.

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