Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Raiders of the Lost Russians

Though it was sunny when I rolled out of bed this morning, it was also gale-force windy. It was no day to be going anywhere. I had breakfast and cleaned up while watching my first Valentine's Day special of the year. Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers mashes bits and pieces of several shorts together in a thin story that has Bugs insisting that an Elmer-like Cupid is meddling. Also ran one of the two full shorts included as an extra, "Holiday Happenings," a spoof of holidays throughout the year.

Went right into trying something different next. I found a recipe for cinnamon rolls at the Acme on Monday. As it turned out, the recipe required microwaving, which I can't do. Found a simpler recipe for Basic Sweet Dough in one of my older cookbooks. I updated it with two cups of whole wheat flour in with the regular flour. Gave it a nice, nutty flavor.

After I put the dough to rise the first time, I cleaned the bathroom. Figured I might as well get to it. It wasn't terribly bad (except the sink), but it needed to be done sooner or later. Now was as good a time as any.

Checked on the dough at quarter of 3. It hadn't risen a lot, but I figured it was enough to proceed with rolling. I rolled it into as much of a square as I could, then brushed it with butter and sprinkled it with sugar. I guess I didn't make it big enough, because I had way too much butter and sugar. I added some of the addition sugar to the tops for a little crunch before letting them rise again.

Watched Doctor Zhivago while I worked. The title character is Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif), who is taken in by friends of his family after his mother dies. By 1913, he's studying medicine, but really prefers poetry. He's not the only one who can't follow his heart. Lovely teenager Lara (Julie Christie) is having an affair with older nobleman Komarovsky (Rod Steiger), but she really loves Pasha (Tom Courteney), a devoted revolutionary. She tries shooting him after he rapes her, but she only gets his hand. Zhivago treats him. Eventually, Yuri married his adopted sister Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin) and had a son with her, and Lara marries Pasha and bears a daughter with him. The two men end up in World War I with Yuri's half-brother Yevgraf (Sir Alec Guinness). Pasha goes missing in action; Lara takes up nursing to find him. She and Yuri work together and fall for each other, but he eventually returns to Tonya.

He comes back to a much-changed Moscow. The Communists have banned his poems and subdivided his adopted father's former home. They flee Moscow in a car filled with men intended for slave labor. Yuri runs across the mysterious Revolutionary "Streinkov"...who turns out to be a very-much-alive Pasha. Pasha does let him go back to his family. They move into a cottage on a former family estate...until Yuri discovers that Lara and her daughter live near-by. He has an affair with her that he ends when he learns that Tonya is pregnant. Unfortunately, just as he's about to return to his family, the Red Army comes by and forces him to join them. The moment he can, he deserts them and flees back to Lara. His family having been sent to Paris, he's able to stay there happily with her, until the government once again catches up with them over his "counter-revolutionary" poetry. He and Lara part again, this time for good...but he never forgets her and dies trying to get out to see his Lara one more time.

While I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the more over-the-top Cleopatra, it's still a big, beautiful movie. The grand cinematography (mostly filmed in Spain - as you can imagine, Soviet Russia wasn't too happy with the story), with many wide shots of devastation and very cold winters, won an Oscar, as did the adapted screenplay and the stunning costumes and set design. Julie Christie did win an Oscar that year, but not for this movie, despite her own touching performance here. Courteney was nominated as the earnest young man who goes from idealistic youth to ardent revolutionary. It definitely deserved Best Score for its sweeping music, including "Lara's Theme."

I liked this, but didn't love it. If you're more into doomed romances and heavy melodrama in a historical setting than I am, you may find much to swoon over in this tragic tale.

Worked on writing for a while after I drizzled the rolls with icing and got them in the oven. Han arrives just in time to save Luke from being slashed by Vader. Luke manages to kill Tarkin, while Han, Leia, and the others drive his men off. Han gives Vader's horse one last parting slap, saying it's from the mythical "Robin Hood." Leia insists that they make "Robin Hood" real. They're going to rob from rich Norman nobles to pay for the poor, for the ransom for King Bail, and to get the land back for former Saxon nobles.

It was almost 7:30 before I broke for dinner. Watched a quick winter-related special while making taco salad for dinner in honor of the tiny bit of snow I'd seen earlier. Frosty's Winter Wonderland brings back everyone's favorite talking snowman, but he's feeling a bit lonely when the kids go home. They make him a "snow wife," a snowwoman, to keep him company. Trouble is, she's not "all livin'" like him. Meanwhile, Jack Frost is jealous that the kids pay more attention to Frosty than him and will do anything he can to get rid of the snowman's magic.

Finished the night with a more upbeat epic, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is searching for the lost Ark of the Covenent in 1936. He's joined by his good friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and ex-girlfriend Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). The Nazis, including Indy's rival Belloq (Paul Freeman), are also after the Ark for the amazing power it's said to contain. Indy goes from Nepal to Egypt in search of the golden container, and though he does manage to get it first, the Nazis steal it from him. He and Marion go in pursuit, only to be captured by Belloq and his men. When Belloq insists on opening the Ark to see its power for himself, he, Indy, Marion, and everyone around them learn that some mysteries are better left undisturbed.

While not my favorite Indiana Jones movie (that's Last Crusade), this is the first and probably the most famous of them. My dad didn't buy the video for this until sometime in the early-mid 90's, and I didn't grow up with this one the way I did the other two. There's a lot of things I like about it, though, including Allen as the most feisty and interesting of Indy's love interests. If you're a fan of action, Ford, or director Steven Spielburg, this one is a no-brainer, and one of the best adventure movies of all time.

Oh, and while most of the sugar fell out of the dough when I tried to cut it, otherwise, my first try at cinnamon rolls were perfect. They tasted just sweet and moist enough and smelled incredible while baking. Though they didn't take long to bake, they did take a while to rise and put together, meaning this will be an only occasional treat.

And yes, I called Jodie for a ride to work tomorrow. I'm afraid I'm not going to avoid the 15 degree temperatures this time. And I got another bite on the American Girl bed and bedding that I'm still trying to sell. Hope it goes through this time.

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