Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Winds of April

Started off the day with an early work shift. It was sunny, but windy and cold when I headed out this morning. That changed rapidly. By noon, the wind remained fierce, but the air was warm. That's also about when it started to get busier up front. I cleaned the bathrooms, shelved items, did the outside trash and recycling, and gathered carts and baskets...but I also got stuck in the registers for about a half-hour. Had just enough time to get a few more returns done before I hurried off.

The weather was so nice by quarter after 2, I took the long way home down Nicholson Road. There was a little traffic, but nothing really terrible. It's really spring in the neighborhood now. The first blossoms are starting to appear on trees. Sun-yellow forsythia, daffodils, and jonquils provide bursts of color in increasingly green lawns, mixed with the occasional white, purple, and pink of a newly-blooming hyacinth.

After I got home and had a snack, I changed and started cleaning the kitchen. The stove was really grimy, and I badly needed to dust after the window repairs. Tried opening the larger windows on either side of the house, but there was just too much wind. I opted to open the new living room windows just enough to get some air in.

Finished out the first season of The Flash while I worked. Wells - really Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash of the future - wants Barry to become "Fast Enough" to create a wormhole that'll allow him to return to his time and for Barry to save his mother. Joe's all for it, but Barry is worried that rescuing his family will mean losing the family he's created, including Iris, Catalin, and Cisco. Barry initially agrees to the idea, but changes his mind. Eddie's the one who eventually takes Wells down, but Barry has to do something about the wormhole that's become a black hole, or everyone in Central City will be torn to ribbons.

Yeah, I really enjoyed this. While it does have some relatively dark themes, it's mostly pretty lighthearted and fun, with some creative special effects, nifty villains, and good performances from Grant Gustin as Barry, Tom Cavanaugh as Wells/Thawne, and especially a delightfully nasty Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold. My favorite character by far was the wisecracking Cisco, whose goofy reactions and pop culture references provide a lot of the show's humor.

There are some problems. If you're not a fan of superheroes or science fiction, you'll probably be lost, especially in the exposition-heavy second half of the season. The whole time-travel plot with Wells/Thawne and whatever they were doing with Gorilla Grodd gets very confusing, and many threads from the first half of the season are ignored or not followed up on. And I really wish they hadn't felt the need to protect Iris from Barry's secret for so long. I understand that Joe didn't want her to get hurt, but she was the last major character to figure it out. Their attempts to hide it from her got very annoying in later episodes. No wonder she was angry when she did find out.

I liked it enough to not only want to take out the rest of the show eventually, but give other recent DC TV Universe programs a shot. Along with the remaining three seasons of Flash that are currently available, the Oaklyn Library has the first two seasons of Arrow and the second season of Supergirl. Next up, though, I'm going to backtrack a bit and take a look at an earlier DC show that was also focused around a young, up-and-coming version of a famous superhero, Smallville.

Switched to cartoons while finishing the cleaning and doing the dishes. The First Easter Rabbit is Rankin-Bass' second Easter special, and the only one done in 2D animation. The title character is Stuffy, a toy rabbit who was the favorite Christmas present of  little girl named Glinda. A fairy rescues him from being burned after she comes down with scarlet fever and turns him into the Easter Bunny, the symbol of the spring holidays. Stuffy may not get a chance to start delivering eggs, thanks to snow-making wizard Zero, who wants to make Stuffy's new home April Valley as snowy and cold as the rest of the North Pole.

Worked on writing for a while after I finished cleaning. Luke's Aunt Bertha is fine, albeit a bit shaken. She explains that she hid in the basement while men in white and black jumpsuits - the Empire's "Shadow Guards" - questioned Owen about a bag of tapes, then shot him and burned his shop when he couldn't produce them. She'd barely escaped out a window. She tells Luke she'll stay with a friend while she figures out what's left of the shop. He swears he'll find out who ordered those men to do this and make them pay.

When his aunt is lead away by the police, he goes to Ben and tells him that he's ready to develop his powers and learn the ways of the Jedi Knights. Ben agrees to it, and so does Aunt Bertha, once she breaks away from the police.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Tossed spinach in with the leftover sauteed cabbage and pasta and had it with leftover chicken fingers and my own honey mustard. Watched an episode of Good Eats while I worked. Alton gets back at a pretentious cupcake bakery by making his own chiffon cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate, with buttercream icing. Chiffon cakes can be finicky, but I have made the tube ones successfully before. Maybe I'll have to try their cup-based counterparts.

Played some Wii after dinner. I thought I'd give Kirby's Epic Yarn another shot after seeing a run-through of the Nintendo DS version on YouTube. This time, I got through Grass Land in a little over an hour, including the two bonus worlds. The only thing I missed was a couple of streaks and the music disc in one of the bonus rounds. I'll be moving on to Hot Land next time I play.

Finished the night after a shower with Starman. Recently widowed Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen) is shocked when an alien, who makes himself look like her dead husband Scott (Jeff Bridges), comes to her for help. He was shot down and needs to rendezvous with his people in Arizona. She's terrified at first and won't go, until he convinces her that he's friendly by reviving a dear. Trouble is, first of all, the government, lead by George Fox (Richard Jaeckel), are after him to dissect him. Second, unless Jenny's "starman" can get to his ship, he'll die. Jenny eventually realizes how gentle and kind he is when he gives her something precious that she never thought she'd have...even if she has to let her  "starman" go.

Awww. This was the sweetest science fiction movie I've ever seen. Bridges and Allen were lovely as the odd couple; Charles Martin Smith is also good as a sympathetic scientist. Hard to believe John Carpenter, the same director behind The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China, made this touching romance. Audiences came in expecting typical 80's sci-fi mayhem and were likely baffled by the slow pace and relative lack of action, making this a fair-sized flop in 1984. It's far better-regarded nowadays. If you're a fan of Allen or Bridges, romance movies, or prefer your science fiction slower and more character-driven, you'll want to hop on a baggage car and check this one out.

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