Thursday, November 19, 2015

Writing on a Rainy Day

It was still just cloudy, damp, and a bit warmish for this time of year when I started breakfast this morning. Ran Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse while I ate. Actually, I mainly have this "feature length" Disney direct-to-home-media movie for the hilarious Nutcracker spoof.

One of the cartoons Mickey shows Don to cheer him when they're snowed in up is a "Nutcracker" short. Minnie is Marie. Mickey is the title character, who has to fight the Mouse King (Donald!) with the dubious help of the Snow Fairy (Goofy) and Godfather Drosselmayer (Professor Ludwig Von Drake). John Cleese tries to narrate. This is an absolute riot; the goofy humor feels more like a Looney Tunes short at times than a Disney short. I especially love Goofy getting on Mickey's nerves over what he's doing in the short. It's one of the few times I've ever seen Mickey really annoyed about anything.

Since breakfast didn't take very long, I decided to get an early start out to the Oaklyn Library around 10:30. Needless to say, on a dull and gray day the week before a major holiday, they were dead as can be. There were one or two other people on the computer or reading the newspaper, one guy working on papers, and CNN's continuing reports on the Paris attacks going on in the background. I concentrated on the kids' section this week. It's been nearly a month since I've been able to give it a real going-over. Took out Cranberry Thanksgiving, a wonderful kids' book about a little girl named Maggie, her grandmother, and the two gentlemen they invite to Thanksgiving dinner. I make Grandmother's Cranberry Bread recipe to bring for Thanksgiving every year.

It was just starting to sprinkle as I headed back to West Clinton for a quick lunch. Common Grounds Coffee House really was quiet. There wasn't a soul there besides the girl in charge. I had a slice of bacon and sweet corn quiche and a bottle of water. Sat by the window and watched the few people on the street go by.

The rain was starting to pick up, even as I peeked at Studio LuLoo. I had before lunch, too. Nothing. I guess the weather scared them off. I just opted to go home early. I headed down Manor just as the rain was getting heavier.

Switched to Cricket On the Hearth as I braised chicken breasts dredged in flour for my Crock Pot Italian Chicken and Tomatoes and made Cranberry Flummery. This lesser-known Dickens holiday tale is one of Rankin-Bass' stranger early specials, and one of their earliest 2D animated stories. The insect of the title (Roddy McDowell) helps a pair of young sweethearts (Marlo Thomas and Ed Ames) when he's supposedly lost at sea and she goes blind from the shock. He and her father (Danny Thomas) have to keep her from marrying a miserly toymaker (Hans Conried) who makes Scrooge look like Minnie Mouse.

Even as the rain started coming down in buckets, I was sitting at the computer to work on my story. It's the night of the Summer Festival Ball. Betty first can't find Doug Thompson, then sees a familiar figure slinking down the hall to Jeff's office. Yes, it's Victor. He tells her he's on a mission as a double spy for Britanica and the Shadow Realm. She's worried about him. He could be killed for the second time in this war; Britanica has been talking about attacking the Shadow Realm. He kisses her, then sends her along, back to Doug Thompson.

Unfortunately, what he wasn't counting on was another guest. Miss Pavla Nemcova also saw him in the hall and followed him. Unlike Betty, her only interest is in pumping him for information. She sees his Air Talisman and realizes there's a lot he's not telling her...or the Shadow Realm.

Meanwhile, Betty has returned to the ball. After dancing with Doug and some of the other men for a few hours, she heads out to the lakeside. Scott meets her there and dances romantically with her. She wants to know why he took over the role of 'the Leader' along with being 'the King of Thieves.' He explains that, when his memorial statue for Victor fell through, he decided to honor the late Prince Regent in another way. He'd felt guilty about more-or-less stealing his life.

There's also the fact that he has no love for the Shadow Realm. Their knights murdered his father when he was an infant; the King of Darkness tried to force himself on his mother, then killed her when she wouldn't accept him. His moon pendant is all he has of theirs.

Scott kisses Betty deeply after they finish their second dance. He's about to say more, but hears Doug's voice and flees into the darkness. Doug finally leads a dazed Betty back to the ball.

I got so into writing, it was 6 before I had dinner. I had broccoli with melted cheese and whole-wheat pasta with my Braised Chicken with Italian Tomatoes. Since dinner didn't take that long, I made the Cranberry-Lemon Cupcakes for the Acme Thanksgiving Luncheon and for Dad and Jodie's wedding, too. I wish I had more lemon juice. They definitely didn't come out as lemony as I would have preferred. Otherwise, they tasted pretty decent. You just can't beat fresh cranberries.

Ran Barbie In the Nutcracker as I worked. The very first Barbie In/As movie has the famous fashion doll telling the story to her little sister Kelly to encourage her to keep improving her ballet steps. The story is pretty straightforward up through the arrival of the Mouse King (Tim Curry). Once he shrinks Clara and they get him out, they can't figure out how to get Clara back to her original size. An owl claims the only way to restore her size and the Nutcracker's human form is to find the Sugar Plum Princess. Trouble is, no one's ever heard of this magical princess, not even the Mouse King. Clara and the Nutcracker, with help from their new friends Captain Candy and Major Mint, travel around the Land of Sweets, searching for the princess and dodging the Mouse King and his transformation spells. Clara finally discovers that, when we have courage and stand up for our friends, we can all be true royalty.

I wasn't overly impressed by this when it first came out. In fact, I was so unimpressed, it was nearly a decade before I'd give the Barbie movies another chance. While the animation on this one hasn't dated well (it looks stiff and waxy, and the boxy rock monster is rather badly done), I otherwise kind of like the story, especially how Clara confronts the Mouse King in the end.

The rain didn't end until I was long online. Thankfully, it looks like it'll blow out by tomorrow and be long gone by Thanksgiving.

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