Monday, May 28, 2018

Something Even Better

Started off a cloudy, cool day with Memorial Day material from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. Since Memorial Day began as a holiday honoring those who died in the Civil War, the material all revolved around that time. The one story, Light Bread and Apple Butter, revolves around a Union soldier who helps a woman and her children who kindly let him take apples from their orchard. Everything else was poetry, like Barbara Friechie or The Blue and the Grey.

Watched a Three Stooges short that continued the Civil War theme as I had a quick breakfast. They're Union spies in "Uncivil Warriors" who are recruited to find out what a certain Confederate general has planned for the Union army...but they would really rather flirt with his pretty daughter and her friends.

Dashed out at 9, hoping to still make the 9:07. First of all, I forgot the schedule. Second, I also forgot that today was a holiday. The bus came at 9:09, but I was still late. I gave up waiting around 9:20 and went for a walk down to Dunkin' Donuts instead. It was still pretty chilly at that point, about 60 and windy. I ordered a vanilla chai and an apple-filled donut. The chai was too sweet and not spicy enough, but the donut was pretty good. I enjoyed my Memorial Day treat while watching people pick up their coffees.

Finally got on the bus at quarter after 10. It was busy but not full, and there was little traffic. I hopped off across from the Super Wal-Mart in Somerdale in a little under 15 minutes. Once again hurried down the road, this time to the Cinemark Theater in the small shopping center behind the Wal-Mart to catch the 10:30 showing of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

For a movie that people have claimed is a flop, the third Solo showing of the day was packed to capacity. I got in during the previews and gave up trying to find my seat after a few minutes of climbing around raised feet. (The Cinemark is relatively new and has recliner seats.) Finally plopped down in the fourth row after it turned out that a woman and her son had the seat I picked originally.

Thankfully, things picked up from there. I'm not going to reveal plot points in this entry because of spoilers, but I absolutely adored Solo: A Star Wars Story. While I didn't like it as much as Last Jedi or Force Awakens, it was a heck of a lot more fun than the dour and confusing Rogue One. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover were pitch-perfect as a young Han and Lando, and the guy playing Chewie was awesome. I liked Woody Harrelson as Han's mentor Beckett and Emilia Clarke as his first love Qi'ra, too. The cameo appearance by Qi'ra's real boss in the finale was a flat-out shock. All I wanted from this movie was a fun adventure with Han flying the Kessel Run and cheating at cards with Lando, and I got that and more.

Not that the movie doesn't have its problems. Three of its best characters are knocked off after ten minutes of screen time each in the beginning and middle of the movie. I really would have liked to have seen more of them. Interesting that most critics complained that the beginning was too slow. I thought the first half of the film, up through the Kessel Run, was far more compelling than the finale. Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) was a fairly dull villain, and the movie's end was tad anti-climatic. It also has the same problem as all Star Wars films of being at least 20 minutes too long.

I'm going to say that the current low box-office has less to do with the movie itself and more with intense competition from Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War. Plus, while I'd be happy with Star Wars content every month for the rest of my life, between the fuss over Last Jedi and the fuss over this, a lot of people may be tired of hearing about this franchise at the moment. As for the "We didn't want this!" whining, I keep thinking of what Uncle Fred said at the end of Arthur's Perfect Christmas: "Sometimes, the things we hope for aren't the things we get. We get something even better."

I wouldn't be surprised if Last Jedi and Solo get reevaluated somewhere down the line after the dust has settled, Episode 9 comes out, and we have a better understanding of where they stand in the scheme of things. For now, if you're a Star Wars fan with an open mind about the characters and where they came from and are just looking to have a good time, disregard the reviews and check this one out.

It was past 1 when I finally rolled out. Made short runs to Game Stop and Wal-Mart, hoping to find that elusive Kylo Ren/Rey set. No luck in either place. Wal-Mart didn't have much in the way of Star Wars merchandise. Game Stop did have some Forces of Destiny dolls, but only the Empire Leia, Force Awakens Rey, and Chewbacca.

Headed over to Pizza Hut for lunch. There's a Taco Bell and a Pizza Hut on the White Horse Pike in front of Wal-Mart. I haven't been to Pizza Hut since the one in Deptford shut down a couple of years ago. This one looked like the same brown 70's building with the peaked roofs on the outside. The inside was fairly stark, with plain brick walls and metal-and vinyl booths. The food was fairly stripped-down as well. I ordered the 3 for 6 lunch deal. Got a rather small personal pan pizza, three huge bread sticks, and a salad from the salad bar. The pizza was doughy but otherwise not very good, with very little cheese. The bread sticks, on the other hand, were amazing, crunchy and savory and seasoned just right.

Picked up the bus around 2:20 in front of Taco Bell. As soon as I got in, I grabbed my clothes and went right back out. I wasn't going to have the time to do laundry later in the week. I'm a bit surprised they weren't busier. There were several people there, but it could have been worse on a holiday. I washed my clothes, worked on story notes, and ignored soap operas.

After I put everything away, I headed out again, this time to Dad and Jodie's. The party was in full swing when I arrived around quarter of 5. My nephew Khai and a couple of his buddies had just been shooed out of the pool to eat dinner.

Jodie had a huge spread. In addition to the tender ribs and steak she mentioned yesterday and the hot dogs and burgers and macaroni salad and potato salad, there was cucumber-sour cream salad, another pasta salad with olives and tri-color noodles, asparagus with garlic, baked beans, two huge bowls of fruit, and a green salad. Jodie had picked up chocolate Enterman's donuts and Hostess baseball-themed cupcakes for dessert. (I love that the chocolate cupcakes were called "Night Games.") I had the fruit, a little steak, ribs, asparagus, and two cupcakes and a donut later.

The kids went back in the pool after they ate, but it was too cold for me to join them. While it was warmer than yesterday, probably in the mid-70's, it still wasn't warm enough for swimming. Some of the kids had blue lips and were shivering when they got out! They warmed up sucking nectar from honeysuckles and playing with Minecraft toys on the grass. Little Miss Finley was happier watching the water fall in Dad's little stone flower planter. I chatted with Emily and a couple of her friends for a while before heading home with a bag of leftover fruit and salads from Jodie.

Played Lego Indiana Jones after I got in. While neither "Free the Slaves" nor "Battle at the Bridge" took very long, they were both a lot more complicated than they looked. I missed two pieces on the first that I couldn't find during the mine cart chase and one in the latter that I missed because I couldn't out-run the rushing water. Moved onto Last Crusade for "Hunt for Sir Richard." That round took so long, I ended it before I got the last piece or True Adventurer.

Ended the night with a few more war-related cartoons. Donald became Disney's number-one short subjects star in the early 40's. His brash personality suited the era far more than good-natured Goofy or laid-back Mickey. It was probably inevitable that he'd make the most war shorts of any character.

"Donald Gets Drafted" kicks things off with him jumping into the army after being swayed by the glamour of the recruiting posters. What he gets is orders from Sargent Pete to stand still, even on an ant hill. He wants to fly in "Sky Trooper," but fails the test...and when he does finally make it into the air, he and Pete both end up seriously regretting it. He's "The Vanishing Private" after finding a new invisibility paint and using his discovery to torment Pete. "Der Fuhrer's Face" takes a left turn into seriously strange territory when Donald finds himself in a surreal Nazi nightmare. "Commando Duck" is sent into Japan to contact and, wash...out the enemy.

Superman also fought the Axis in several Famous Studios shorts. "Eleventh Hour" is a mature, shadowy story of Superman fighting off the Japanese while Clark and Lois are stationed in Tokyo. A beautiful "Secret Agent" has plans that must get to Washington quickly. Superman does everything he can to protect her.

And here's hoping that you had just as much fun as I did this Memorial Day!

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