Monday, August 17, 2015

Berry Dark Fairy Tales

Spent the morning finishing out Into the Woods. This is a musical retelling of four famous fairy tales - the original Brothers Grimm versions of "Cinderella" (Anna Kendrick), "Little Red Riding Hood" (Lilla Crawford), "Jack and the Beanstalk" (Daniel Huddlestone), and "Rapunzel" (Mackenze Mauzy). Cinderella still wants to go to the ball and dance with the prince (Chris Pine), but she gets help from her mother's grave, rather than a fairy godmother. Red Riding Hood is still dealing with a very hungry wolf (Johnny Depp). Rapunzel is still in a tower, thanks to her evil adopted mother, who also happens to be a witch (Meryl Streep). Jack is still annoying his mother (Tracey Ullman) and climbing beanstalks. The characters who tie this all together are the Baker (James Corben) and his wife (Emily Blunt), who have to get iconic items from each of these characters to break a curse and have a child. Everyone does get their wish eventually...but wishes have a way of not turning out the way you hoped they would. Happily ever after isn't always happy, even in fairy tales....especially when angry giant's wives come down and decides to destroy everyone and everything...

I'm a fan of musicals and fairy tales, and I do like some of Stephan Sondheim's work. (Though some of his stuff gets too dark or pretentious on occasion.) I adored this excursion into fantasy, and how sometimes the wish you thought you wanted ends up not being what you need in the end. The entire cast was great, but I give special kudos to the two kids, particularly Crawford's tough little Red Riding Hood. The set design, special effects, costuming, and make up were nicely done as well - the witch's final exit was downright amazing.

I will add that, like Les Miserables from a few years ago, this is a very dark musical and a very musical musical. There's more dialogue than in Les Mis, but most plot points are still presented in song, with very little dancing. If you don't like musicals and/or fairy tales, don't come within a quadrillion miles of here, no matter how much you like the cast. A lot of critics complained about the amount of music and the extreme length. The latter is somewhat justified - the middle does drag (but it did in the Broadway show, too). Broadway purists may be upset that a lot of songs and characters were apparently cut from the show, including a few big ones.

I loved it, but I love musicals, no matter how dark. I say your mileage may vary on this one, depending on whether or not you like musicals and how dark you like them.

Headed out for today's errands as soon as Into the Woods ended. Started at the Oaklyn Library. They were fairly busy for them; a group of autistic teenagers were leaving with their mentor as I was arriving, and a mother and her sons came in later. A volunteer worked on organizing craft items while I went over the DVD shelves, fixed the series books again, and shelved children's books.

Had lunch at Jalapeno's Grill. Despite it being around 1 when I came in, it was dead as a doornail. The only other people there were two college-age guys chatting at a corner table. I had a grilled vegetable quesadilla with chips and a tomato-and-shredded-lettuce "salad." Not bad, other than I think they overloaded the cheese. (And they took their sweet time delivering it.)

Made a quick stop at Thriftway next. I was hoping they'd have Fig Newtons on sale, but the prices were actually worse than the Acme's. Settled on their version of the fall spice wafers instead. Popped into Tuesday Morning after that to see if they had any Ever After High dolls. Nope, nothing new. Same dolls they had last time, including the original release of Cedar Wood.

The Haddon Township Library was bustling today! I guess everyone decided to hit the libraries to avoid the heat. The DVD return carts were overflowing, with kids and adult titles. I couldn't fit a good stack of both in. The adult shelves were an absolute mess. I had to fix a lot of slots before I could get anything put away.

Due to my busy schedule this week, I limited the live-action titles to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I did take out new releases for the 13-episode Scooby Doo sets (this one with a beach theme) and the 2009 version of Strawberry Shortcake.

Stopped at Dunkin' Donuts on the way home for a much-needed Oreo Vanilla Bean Coollatta. Pretty much the same deal as the Chips Ahoy Coollatta I took out earlier in the summer, but obviously cookies-and-cream themed. Sweet and tasty...and chilly, which is all I cared about.

Spent the rest of the afternoon hiding in air conditioning and working on my story. Nasty sea witch Ruth Geddy sends Betty's four siblings off to find the ingredients for the potion that'll change their sister back into a mermaid. In truth, she cares nothing about Betty or her family. What she wants is to gain an immortal soul of her own, so she can rule the concert halls on land as well as in the sea...and she thinks Betty's sailor may be the key.

Meanwhile, on land, Scott has taken Betty home with him. His servants Eugenia and Mr. Foley wash her and make her feel welcome. Maple fixes her hair and finds her some clothes, promising to take her shopping in town the next day. Betty's delighted to take it all in, especially things she's never heard of, like pianos and bathtubs.

Ran the Strawberry Shortcake set Berry Best In Show. These episodes bring in pets for the other girls besides Strawberry and introduces token boy character Huckleberry Pie to this incarnation of the franchise. In our first story, Huck and Blueberry are 'Partners In Crime" when they try to write a mystery together. Huck has some new ideas, but Blueberry wants to imitate her favorite detective, Patty Persimmon. When she sees Huck writing a song with Cherry Jam, Blueberry gets a bad case of jealousy, dealing by trying to act like Cherry.

The second story brings in Huck and the new pets. Huck is "A Boy and His Dogs" who needs a place to stay when his van breaks down. He's mortified when the puppies he's taking to the city to get adopted destroy Strawberry's guest room. The girls board the pups while he fixes up the room. He tries to like what they like to fit in, but they like him already, just as he is.

(And this episode is interesting in another way. It's the first time I've ever seen this series address Huck being a lone boy among anywhere from six to twenty girls. Talk about not fitting in - he's even a different gender.)

The dogs get involved in the third story, "The Mystery of the Disappearing Dog Show." Disappointed that their mystery story was rejected, Huck and Blueberry decide to put on a dog show to earn money for Huck's animal shelter instead. The girls try to make their pets the best, but their suggestions make things harder instead of more fun. Meanwhile, Huck and Blueberry work on another, more original detective story, set at a dog show. They may need to do a lot more than fancy detective work to figure out why no one came to the show and no tickets were sold!

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