Tuesday, August 06, 2013

In the Not-So-Merry Land of Oz

I was awoken by a shrill siren downstairs. The men who are painting what was Miss Ellie's apartment must have accidentally set off her alarm. I was up until 3 last night. The alarm woke me up at 8:30. I tried to sleep, but finally just got up an hour later. I read Sleeping Murder and wrote in my journal until I was ready to greet a sunny, hazy, humid but not hot day.

My first stop on today's errand run was the Oaklyn Library. The adult and kids' DVDs badly needed to be organized. I did it as quietly as possible while a group of senior citizens watched Barefoot In the Park with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda at the main table. The kids' books weren't nearly as bad. I just fixed up the board books. I took out Pal Joey and Oz the Great and Powerful and was on my way.

The sunshine earlier in the day had been replaced by heavy clouds by the time I arrived at Simply Soups in Audubon. Evidently, I wasn't the only one who felt the day called for soup. It was about 12:30 when I got in, and the place was packed. I took a table in the front, next to the window. I had a good view of a train choo-chooing by as I ate my breadstick, Spinach Tortellini Soup, and drank my can of Diet Coke for lunch. It had quieted down considerably by the time I headed back out.

Rode across-town to the Haddon Township Library to volunteer there. It was also very busy, possibly because of the weather. There were little kids looking for DVDs and big kids looking for books to read for school assignments. There was plenty to organize and shelve, including pulling a pile of kids' DVDs and foreign titles from the adult rows. I took cartoons out here - the newest Mickey Mouse Clubhouse title Quest for the Crystal Mickey, the Dreamworks film Rise of the Guardians, and (almost) the complete series for Care Bears Family.

I cut through Newton River Park going home. Despite the gloomy, chilly-for-August day, it was busy there, too. I saw kids wandering in groups and fishing off the small stone bridge near Collingswood High School. I dodged joggers, other bikers, and families out with their smaller children. The wildflowers and deep green flora gave off a heady, earthy perfume as I went by.

I went straight down to the end of the park and over to the CVS on the border of Oaklyn and Collingswood. I mainly needed brush picks. They didn't have them the last time I was there. CVS's generic 100 oz laundry detergent was on sale for $2.99. I bought a hanging organizer for the American Girl dolls' shoes and small items. Grabbed scrub sponges from the dollar bins.

It finally started to rain as I went outside. It stopped as soon as I made it home, of course. It didn't rain very hard, more like a pleasant-smelling shower. To my knowledge, it hasn't rained since. In fact, the sun looked like it was trying to come out around 7ish.

When I got home, I put everything away, then started re-organizing the American Girl dolls' clothes and accessories. The hanging organizer really worked well. It was just the right size for their accessories and smaller shoes. I was able to consolidate all those boxes in the plastic container I use for their clothes, too. I'll have to see if I can get more at Dollar Tree when I'm over there on Thursday or stop at CVS again.

I put on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set as I made gingersnaps from the Pillsbury cookie cookbook Anny gave me a few years ago. In the title episode, Kansas City Mickey and the rest of the Disney gang find themselves on the quest to save the Crystal Mickey, the source of the Clubhouse's magic. If it stays away forever, the Clubhouse will disappear, too! They all go after Pilferin' Pete, dodging his traps along the way.

The other episodes were even more fun. Donald mildly spoofed Beau Geste and other Foreign Legion tales in "Donald and the Desert." He and the gang find Genie Pete on their journey to pick up sand for their sandbox...but Pete's wishes don't always come out as planned. The next episode, "Genie Donald," goes even further into this. Donald takes over Pete's job for a day...with results that don't seem appreciated at first. Goofy has his own go-around with fantasy when he plays knight to retrieve some Bubbly Bubble Water to help Willie the Giant's tummy ache in "Goofy's Giant Adventure."

Opted to stick to fantasy as I made pasta and beans (with added farm market vegetables) from the Clara's Kitchen cookbook for dinner. Switched to Oz, the Great and Powerful.  This prequel to The Wizard of Oz begins, as the 1939 movie did, in Kansas and in black-and-white somewhere around the 1910s. Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a con-artist magician with a traveling circus. He romances local ladies, verbally abuses is only friend, and allows the girl he loves (Michelle Williams) to marry another. When the women he's seduced bring husbands around, he speeds away in a balloon...only to end up in a tornado and find himself in the Land of Oz. Nothing in this colorful land is as it seems - not the sweet little China Girl who is a lot less dainty than her fragile appearance lets on, or the three witches (Rachel Weiz, Mila Kunis, Williams) who help and hinder Oscar after he arrives. When he's attacked by the evil witches and learn that the people of Oz are counting on him, he discovers that, while being a great man can be important, what really makes you great is a caring heart.

It's pretty easy to tell that this was made by the same group that did the Tim Burton Alice In Wonderland a few years ago. I loved it. The visuals were absolutely drop-dead stunning. Franco had a ball as the huckster who sheds the tin around his heart, and the three witches were marvelous. This has gotten mixed reviews from people and critics who found it too elaborate or complicated or just too far from the source material. As with Alice In Wonderland, I recommend it to families and Oz and fantasy fans who are open to unusual interpretations of classic literature.

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