Friday, January 11, 2019

Feeling Pretty In Technicolor

Started off another sunny day with breakfast, then doing more organizing. I figured I might as well put up the rest of the winter decorations, at least until I decide what I'm doing about moving. Put out two of the three stuffed snowmen - kept the folksy angel snowman and the one with the red-and-white scarf and wooden spool legs, but got rid of the dancing Frosty that no longer worked. Taped up the cardboard hangings depicting snowmen participating in winter sports like skating and skiing.

After I finished that, I went through the American Girl books. I finally decided to split the difference and keep a little over half of the original picture stories, the ones for either the characters I actually have (Molly, Samantha, Felicity, Josefina) or time periods I'm interested in (Rebecca, Kit, Julie). Cleared out a few History Mysteries I wasn't interested in as well.

Ran The Adventures of Robin Hood while I worked. Errol Flynn solidified his stardom as the definitive rogue who robs from the rich to give to the poor in this much-loved 1938 adaptation. Once again, the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper) is downplayed in favor of stuffy Prince John (Claude Rains) and nasty Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone). Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn) is the only man who defends the commoners against the corrupt taxes of the Normans after King Richard (Ian Hunter) is taken prisoner in Austria.

John eventually outlaws him and his friend Will Scarlet (Patrick Knowles) after they invade his banquet. They recruit others, including Much the Miller's Son (Herbert Mundin), Little John (Alan Hale Sr.) and Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette) to help them rob Prince John's tax money and from Norman nobles who abuse others. Lovely Maid Marion (Olivia De Haviliand) is contemptuous of him at first, but gradually comes to understand why he's an outlaw when they take her party prisoner. She even helps them at a tournament, where Robin wins a golden arrow. Robin convinces her to spy for them...but when she's caught, it'll take all of the ingenuity and cunning of Robin Hood and his Merry Men to rescue her from being burned at the stake.

Almost everyone loves this colorful Technicolor version of one of England's most famous folk tales, and I'm no exception. It was one of the bigger hits of 1938. James Cagney, of all people, was originally supposed to be Robin Hood, but he walked out of his contract, and Flynn took over. I doubt anyone else at the time could have done it better. For many people, Flynn just is the dashing rogue who romances reluctant ladies and firmly believes in his own brand of justice. Rathbone and Rains make smashing villains, and Pallatte's Friar Tuck is hilarious. Check out the famous duel between Rathbone and Flynn in the finale. There's also Erich Wolfgang Korngold's sweeping score. It's symphonic sound would inspire many similar later epic soundtracks, including John Williams' work for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies.

If you love swashbucklers like I do or are a big fan of Flynn or classic action, you absolutely must see this one.

Switched to a more comic rendition of the folk tale while having a quick yogurt and Cranberry Flummery lunch. One of the stranger shorts from Seasons 5 and 6 of the original Danger Mouse was "Once Upon a Time Slip." A slip of the tongue from the narrator somehow transports Danger Mouse and Penfold to medieval times and turns DM into Robin Hood, Penfold into Little John, Baron Greenback in the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Colonel K into King Richard.

"Hear Hear" has Greenback devising a machine that will hypnotize anyone with the sound of his voice. Good thing Penfold's having a hard time hearing. "It's All White, White Wonder" when an experimental enzyme that turns things white gets into the sewer system and turns everything it touches white. DM and Penfold try to figure out where they can ditch him. DM's not saying "What a 3-Point Turn Up for the Book" when his car somehow develops a mind of his own and won't let him in. This time, it's Greenback who's messing around with time in "Tampering With Time Tickles." He devises bombs that turns DM into a cute little boy mouse and Penfold into a very old rodent. They have to try to get around their current ages and stop Greenback from doing further damage.

Headed off to the Acme to do my grocery shopping and get my schedule as soon as the last cartoon ended. While I didn't need a lot of stuff, I did have to pick up some expensive things, including butter, beef sausages for dinner tonight, and more of those crusted fish fillets. There were good sales on rice vinegar and peanut butter. Restocked skim milk, yogurt, apples, bananas, cereal, mushrooms, the bag of winter vegetables (in this case broccoli and cauliflower florets), canola oil, and a sweet potato. (Oh, and the bagged cranberries seem to be done for the season. Darn it. Hopefully, the Flummery will last for a little while.)

My schedule for next week is...vacation! Mid-January may seem like an odd time to take a week off, especially given that I'm not much for skiing and won't be going further than Cape May County. First of all, it's the mid-point between my previous vacation (September), and what will likely be my next one (May). Second, I'd like a little time away from the cold after the weather was terrible last January. Third, considering how bad my hours have been over the last few weeks, I'd probably get more money from my vacation paycheck than from actually working.

My only really major plans are going down to Cape May County with Rose and her family on Sunday (I hope - the snow is supposed to be worse there than here, though still not horrible) and counseling on Tuesday. Otherwise, things are pretty open. Along with the usual chores and volunteering, there's two fun things I'd like to do. I want to go to the movies at Somerdale to see Aquaman, probably either Wednesday or Thursday morning to avoid weekend crowds. Since the bus leaves from the Acme and I'll need to do my grocery shopping on Friday anyway, I'd like to check out the Gloucester Outlets in Blackwood. I had so much fun with Lauren at the outlets near her in Lee and found such good deals, I thought I'd finally check out our local version.

Started putting things away as soon as I got home. Ran another winter-themed first season episode of Sailor Moon while I got organized. "Paired With a Monster: Mako the Ice Skating Queen" puts the girls on ice as they receive skating lessons from Russian gold-medalists. The male half seems interested in Makoto, who is an athletic and graceful skater. Not only does that make his partner jealous, but it turns out they're both working for the Negaverse, and the free lessons are a plot to trap the Sailors.

Went right back out to the laundromat next. I picked the right time to get it done. It was dead when I arrived. By the time it started getting busier, my very big load was in the dryer. I had towels and a pair of jeans I hadn't washed in a while in there. Said "hi" to a co-worker who was also doing the laundry (she said she worked earlier in the day) and worked on notes, ignoring talk shows on NBC.

Put my clothes away while listening to the Dreamgirls soundtrack to drown out Charlie and his buddies gabbing noisily downstairs, then went into writing. Han has a close encounter with "Greedy" Green, the ugly bounty hunter who works for Baron Jasper Du Hutt. The baron has taken control of Han's family's lands via taxes. Han's hoping to buy them back, but he had to jettison his cargo. Greedy insists that Jasper may take his beloved horse Falcon as payment instead if he doesn't pay. Han shows him what he thinks about that on the sharp end of an arrow.

Broke at 6:30 to make dinner. Pan-fried the rest of the stir fry vegetables and some of the cauliflower and broccoli, then added beef sausage, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lemon juice, basil, oregano, pasta, and some of the water from the pasta to make Italian Sausage with Vegetables. Topped it with the last of the mozzarella cheese from the pizza. Oh yum. Savory and cheesy with just enough bite from the vinegar.

Finished the night with I Feel Pretty. Renee Bennett (Amy Schumer) does not feel pretty. She's cute and plump, but she lacks self-esteem and feels that she could never look like the models in the magazines and websites she devours. She works on the website for Lily LeClaire, a high-end cosmetic company, but what she really wants to do is be a receptionist at their headquarters. Desperate, she wishes on a fountain to be pretty, but doesn't get her wish until she falls off her bike at the gym. When she comes to, though she looks the same, she believes herself to be gorgeous. Her new confidence shines like a beacon, allowing her to not only land the LeClaire job, but attract the nice guy she meets at the dry cleaners, Ethan (Rory Scovel). She's able to help Lily (Lauren Hutton) and soft-voiced Avery (Michelle Williams) understand their new department-store clientele better, too.

Not everyone is impressed with her sudden changes. Her two best friends are annoyed with her ditching them for a fancier party and resent her attempts to make them seem sexier. Avery's hot brother Grant (Tom Hopper) goes after her, but she realizes that he's not really that interested in her. It's here that she hits her head again and thinks she's gone back to her old, plain self. It finally takes a chat with a friend at the gym whom she thinks of as prettier (Emily Ratajowski) to understand that it doesn't matter if you're what the media perceives as "pretty." What really counts is a beautiful attitude to life and how you treat others.

It's too bad the movie gets really annoying about half-way through, because as someone who also suffers from low self-esteem, I think the message of this film is really important. Listening to Renee go on and on about how pretty she is now and how great it is gets very wearying after a while, to the point where you wonder why no one pointed it out well before her illusion ended. I liked Williams and Scovel better as the squeaky-voiced beauty and the kind-hearted guy with self-esteem issues of his own. The girl-power ending means well, but kind of comes out of nowhere and gets a little too heavy on the messages.

This was a minor flop last spring, and while I appreciate the message, I think they tried too hard in the end. Ok if you're a fan of Schumer or any of the cast or are looking for a cute rental for girl's night in.

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