Friday, November 11, 2016

Saluting Our Veterans

This is the first day in ages I've been off with no real plans. Decided to get some things done at home, starting with the cleaning. I gave the kitchen a quick scrub, then vacuumed and washed the windows. I'll do heavier cleaning at the end of the month, after Thanksgiving. Wanted to scrub the one window that was holding an air conditioner for ten years again. Even after washing it yesterday, it still came up black.

Ran more war-oriented shorts as I cleaned. Mickey Mouse didn't figure heavily into World War II-era cartoons, but he did do one war-related short in the late 20's. Mickey finds himself caught up in "The Barnyard Battle" that pits Hun-like cats against other farm animals. Mickey may be a skinny rubber-hose mouse, but he still has no problem taking on the enemy and winning.

Donald Duck replaced Mickey as Disney's biggest animated shorts star in the early 40's. His brash temper was more in line with the times than Mick's every-mouse persona. It was probably inevitable that he would appear in the most wartime shorts of any Disney character. "Donald Gets Drafted" and "Sky Trooper" tell how Donald is swayed by the glamour of recruiting posters and the desire to fly...and finds himself tussling with Sargent Pete. "Der Fuehrer's Face" takes Don into a surreal nightmare that has him working at a Nazi factory, then going crazy. "Fall Out, Fall In" has an exhausted Don wrestling with his tent, then trying to ignore his snoring fellow privates. Donald and his nephews are trying to spot air craft but end up attacking a bee, in "Home Defense." "Commando Duck" takes him into the heart of Japan to, wash...out the enemy.

My personal favorite of Donald's war shorts is the hilarious "The Vanishing Private." Donald is supposed to be camouflaging a new cannon. He finds "invisible paint" and proceeds to take Pete's orders to make the cannon "hard to see" literally. When Pete accidentally lands him in the paint, he takes advantage of his situation to drive Pete up the wall.

Tom & Jerry's only war-related short was their first Oscar-winner, "The Yankee Doodle Mouse." The duo get some explosive results when they take their usual antics to a fireworks factory!

The Pink Panther lands in the Vietnam War-era army without a paddle in "G.I Pink." By the late 1960's, the Armed Forces recruitment posters had apparently gone from offering glamour to offering power. Pink gets neither when he joins the army, and ends up dealing with land mines, cranky drill sargents, crankier mascots, and wild obstacle courses.

Did a couple of Three Stooges shorts while having leftovers for lunch. "Higher Than a Kite" has the trio on the run when they accidentally destroy a top military officer's plane. They hide in what turns out to be a bomb and literally drop in on the enemy. Larry dresses in drag and the other two as officers to get the goods on the Nazis.

They're "Dizzy Pilots" when they create their own plane in order to avoid being drafted. They have a far easier time getting Moe in the air than keeping the plane there.

Did some writing for the next couple of hours. Rey and Ben's friends are arriving. Poe Dameron brings Rey an adorable calico kitten he's named Bee Bee 8. (She's the eighth kitten in her litter.) Jess and Snap give her a book on machines. Kaydel gives her a fashionable brown velvet cloak. Hux and Ben are more interested in impressing the attractive Gwen Phasma, the chief of police's intimidating daughter.

Broke at quarter after 4 to stretch my legs and talk to a few family members. Called Cape May County to confirm Thanksgiving; got Dad-Bill. He seems to be fine now. He was eating popcorn and watching TV.

Went for a bike ride next. I stopped at Dad-Bruce's house to wish him a happy Veteran's Day (he was in Vietnam), but no one was home there. Ended up just riding around, enjoying the day. Stopped at the little playground in one of the neighborhoods to enjoy the view. The trees are finally looking like fall, all pale green and gold and bright red. It was windy, but sunny, with a bright blue sky. The air had that crisp wood smoke smell it gets in fall and winter.

Got in around 5:30. Had tuna salad on a bed of Boston lettuce and pasta tossed in Parmesan cheese and herbs for dinner while watching one of the four Bowery Boys armed services comedies. Here Comes the Marines is the only one of the four where they get into the Services normally - they're all drafted. When Sach discovers that the general who is in charge of their barracks knew his father, he takes advantage of the relationship to get more promotions than the others. He ends up in charge...and driving all of his men, including his friends, crazy. Meanwhile, Slip discovers a badly beaten Marine lying in a ditch, a playing card laying next to him. When Sach ends up losing his money at a shady casino, Slip wonders if there might be a connection.

Tried something new for dessert while Marines was finishing. Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book has a couple of recipes for pudding cakes that I've always wanted to try. Hot Fudge Pudding Cake was the simplest. I was going to replace the melted shortening with canola oil and forgot, so my cake came out a bit lumpy. Next time, I may also lower the sugar content. It has a cup of white sugar in the batter and several tablespoons of brown sugar in the topping! Tasty, but a bit too sweet. Also, it says that it needs to cook for 45 minutes. Maybe ovens were slower in 1950. It started burning at 35. Thankfully, it being a little burnt didn't affect the taste. It was delicious, even without the canola oil. I'll definitely try it again, and maybe some of the other pudding cake recipes they have listed.

Did some Lego Star Wars next. Finished out "Secret Plans" and the last Bonus Room. Couldn't get that last piece on "Speeder Showdown." Had more luck with "Battle of Hoth." Got True Jedi, the red brick, and all but one piece there.

Ended my night with the last five episodes of She-Ra on the disc. The remaining episodes on the series added segments with Loo-Kee, a little rainbow-colored creature who hides in every episode, then relates the moral of the day. This was annoying in every 80's cartoon it was done in. Loo-Kee's grating voice doesn't help matters.

Some of the episodes here were pretty interesting. "The Sea Hawk" is a handsome, Han Solo-like pirate who will work for anyone who pays him, including the Horde. He's forced to give up Princess Adora when Catra attacks him and threatens his ship. His first mate talks him into going after them, reminding him that, yes, they have their ship, but at what price their freedom?

I actually remember "The Missing Ax" from my childhood. Two boys lie when they lose their father's ax and say a man stole it. Bow goes after it, only to be captured by the Horde. She-Ra rescues him and teaches the boys a lesson in trust.

"The Red Knight" is a man in bright crimson armor who constantly comes to the aid of Etherians and the Rebels. Bow's upset when he bests him in a race...but then his friends are captured, and She-Ra reminds him that there's no one better with a bow and arrow. Interesting that the Knight never reveals his true identity...and Queen Angella seems to recognize his voice...

And I salute all the veterans in my life today, including Dad-Bruce (Vietnam), my late Uncle Ken (World War II), and two who are in the Navy now, my friend Jen Waters and my brother Keefe Jackman.

Oh, and I came up with an idea. I haven't taken my third vacation week yet. I was going to wait until February or March...but I need that extra money now. I think I'll take it either the week after Thanksgiving, or the week after that. We're usually pretty quiet after Thanksgiving and before the Christmas baking season kicks in, plus I'm supposed to meet Amanda on the 6th.

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