Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Lost Princess

It was raining at a pretty good clip when I got up this morning. I brightened the day with some more Chuck Jones Jungle Book tales. Mowgli's Brothers takes us into the jungle, as the title character struggles with being a lone "man cub" among wolves. At first, the animals ignore the warnings of tiger Sher Khan and let the wolves raise him...but eventually, they decide he's too much trouble. It takes Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther and a little thing known as "the red flower" (aka fire) to make the others hear Mowgli's feelings on the subject.

After breakfast, I pretty much spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon writing. Han tells Leia that the key to all of the locks in the house, including Luke's cell, are kept in the treasure room at the end of the second floor hall. The key also unlocks the silver box Leia saw earlier. The box is filled with rings. She's to bring the plain one to his friend the falcon after she frees Luke. She can't yell or speak or make any noise while she does this.

Palpatine's waiting for them in the kitchen. He drops logs on the old man's foot in order to distract him and let Leia and Chewbacca the dog get away. The duo have to fight their way through the red-clad demons that work for the evil warlock. When they manage to make it upstairs, they do find the key...but the ring isn't in the box.

The old warlock calls Leia down to check on the oven and make sure it's hot. Leia shakes her head, indicating that she doesn't know how. Palpatine crawls into the oven to show her...and the second he does, she locks him in. There's a huge explosion that knocks her and Chewie to the ground. When it subsides, the oven is gone, leaving only a warlock-shaped gingerbread man.

Leia frees Luke from the carriage house and the falcon from the cage Palpatine locked him in. The bird has the plain gold ring in its beak. The moment Leia slides the ring on its wing...the wing turns into a human finger. Han stands behind her, beaming. He now wears the clothes Palpatine wore when the two arrived...but they fit him perfectly.

When he transforms, so does everyone else. The trees turn into servants, including one fellow named Wedge Antilles who has his eye on Luke. The gingerbread people turn into travelers lured into traps by Palpatine's magic. The gingerbread house becomes a real manor house. Chewbacca turns into an especially hairy and very tall man, Han's bodyguard and best friend Charles.

Han explains that he's the missing merchant their aunt and uncle had mentioned. Palpatine wanted his help in stealing money from wealthy travelers and cooking their innocent young. Han wanted nothing to do with it. Angry, Palpatine took his money and his home, casting an evil spell over him. By day, Han was his silent puppet, doing everything he was told to do. At night, he could regain control of his mind, but only in the form of a falcon. His headaches came from him fighting the warlock's power.

Eventually, Leia and Luke do make it to university and restore their father Anakin's fortune. Leia marries Han and becomes his partner in his shipping business. Luke marries Wedge and joins the King's Guards. The warlock cookie is fed to the bird until not even crumbs remain.

It took me a little longer to do this one than I thought, I suspect partially due to the holidays. At least it came out much better than Luke and the Beanstalk.

Leia and the Old Warlock In the Woods at Archive of Our Own
Leia and the Old Warlock In the Woods at Fanfiction.Net
Leia and the Old Warlock In the Woods at My Writing Blog

Ironically, I posted the story at Archive of Our Own just minutes before noticing a headline on a Han/Leia/Luke-centric Tumblr blog indicating that Carrie Fisher had passed away...and my stomach dropped into my toes. I felt numb, even as tears overflowed in my eyes.

Like I said at my writing blog, I'm not good with death. I don't know what to say, even in writing. Leia was one of my favorite Star Wars characters along with Han, Lando, and Chewie. The girls and I loved how badass she was. She called the shots. We used to argue over who got to play her. (Rose usually won.) I'm almost ashamed to admit I never really tried Fisher's books, though I appreciated her as a writer and especially as a script doctor.

I had to get out of the apartment. It was 1:30 by then, too late for a run to the Oaklyn Library, but I could still do some errands, eat, and hit Haddon Township. At least the day had turned absolutely gorgeous...maybe a little too much for late December. It was sunny, windless, and in the 60's by the time I made it to the PNC Bank in Collingswood. They were quiet, and I had no trouble depositing the money Dad and Jodie gave me on Christmas Day.

Cafe Antonio, a pizzeria a block down and across the street from PNC, wasn't much busier. There was one other family eating snacks when I arrived around 2. I ordered a slice of cheese, a slice of white broccoli, ricotta, and tomato, and a Diet Pepsi. I ate the whole broccoli-tomato and half of the cheese before I gave up and headed back out.

The Haddon Township Library was even quieter. I thought there would be a lot more going on. I guess it was just too nice to be in a library. I mostly just shelved DVDs and audio books. Took out a few movies for the first time in weeks. I really needed fun stuff to take my mind off everything. Ended up with Minions, the Lego Scooby Doo movie Haunted Hollywood, and last summer's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

Made a few stops on the way home. I took a peek at Tuesday Morning to see if they had any Ever After High dolls I didn't already posses. Nope. I saw Melody Piper and Bunny Blanc, and I have both of them. Grabbed sponges at a busy Dollar Tree.

I wanted to go for a ride on the way home to clear my head, but it didn't do much good. My mind wasn't on the road. After two near-misses, I decided I was probably a menace to the road while in shock and just went home.

Baking always makes me feel better. I made the gingerbread cake from Samantha's Cooking Studio as comfort food when I got in. Yum. It always comes out well, and this time is no exception. Just what I needed.

Finished out the Chuck Jones Collection with A Cricket In Times Square as I baked gingerbread, as well as Italian sausage for my dinner. This is the original story of Chester, a cricket from Connecticut who gets stuck in a picnic basket and finds himself lost in a Times Square subway. He's taken in by a little boy named Mario and by best buddies Tucker the Mouse and Harry the Cat. The latter two are the ones who discover that Chester can play any melody after hearing it once. Chester becomes the talk of New York, especially after a music critic writes a review praising his talent...but he misses the country, especially as the fall nears.

(Note that I'm skipping Yankee Doodle Cricket. I actually caught that one when it was on YouTube a while back. I'll discuss that further when we get to the Fourth of July.)

Overall...thank you, Linda. Seeing Cricket and Rikki Tikki Tavi again brought back some wonderful memories of when they occasionally showed up on cable during my childhood. I'd never heard of Mowgli's Brothers, The White Seal, or the Cricket sequels until recently. The White Seal was probably my favorite, a simple and touching Lion King-esque story of one seal trying to find a place where his kind will never be hunted again.

I will add that there's a fair amount of violence in the Jungle Book-based shorts, and they're relatively dark, as per the original stories. The Cricket specials are a bit lighter in tone and kid-oriented, but they're still pretty realistic for Jones' work. If you have older kids who are fans of animals or classic animation (or loved the darker live-action Jungle Book that came out earlier this year), try these on them.

Put on Haunted Hollywood while enjoying a dinner of baked Italian sausages, green beans, gingerbread, and Cranberry Flummery. When Fred wins a tour of a major Hollywood studios, most of the gang's excited. Brickman Studios makes some of Shaggy and Scooby's favorite horror films. Daphne's just hoping to break into movies. As it turns out, the studio is on the verge of foreclosure. They're hoping a romantic comedy will put them back in the black, but someone posing as the ghost of their most beloved star seems to be sabotaging their efforts. Undaunted, the gang joins a tough-minded horror hostess (Cassandra Peterson) in making sure that the show goes on...and the mystery does, too.

This one ended up being quite a bit of a surprise. Unlike the Star Wars and Justice League Lego movie and animated shorts spoofs, this one...was pretty much a typical Scooby movie done in Lego form. Even Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, fit right in. (Considering her regular gig, I'm surprised she's never made an appearance in Scooby media before.) I thought this was absolutely hilarious. If you're a fan of Scooby or the other Lego character movies, this one is really fun.

Ended a long day on a high note with Kirby's Epic Yarn.  I had previously played this game only when Lauren visited. This was my first time doing it on my own. I did pretty well, actually. Missed a few things and only got the extra rounds on Hot Land (World 2), but not Grass Land (World 1). Othewise, I did much better than I thought I would. This game is so unique and fun. (And a lot easier than the yarn-based Yoshi game that's available for the Wii U.)

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