Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Spirit of Christmas

It was still cloudy when I began an early morning with oatmeal and something a little different. One of the shows highlighted on my 100 Greatest Radio Shows CD set is The Six Shooter, a western starring Jimmy Stewart. Stewart narrates a creative wild-west version of A Christmas Carol for a young boy who has run away from his grouchy aunt on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is a miserly cattle baron, Bob Cratchit is his head foreman, Nephew Fred runs a livery stable, Scrooge's fiancee is a schoolmarm, and the ghosts are cowboys and ranchers. The boy and his aunt both eventually learn just how important Christmas and family are.

Work was actually not that bad. One of the managers said it was busy this morning as people came in before work, or got off work early. It was steady when I arrived at 9. By the time I got off at 2, it was dead as a doornail. I spent the first half of my shift rounding up carts. Did returns for the second half after another bagger arrived and took over cart duties.

The clouds had vanished by 2 PM and the sun was shining. It was absolutely gorgeous, probably into the upper 40's-lower 50's and breezy but not too windy. Though I was boring my landlady's bike, I still couldn't resist taking the long way home. I won't be able to the next two days. I have grocery shopping after work tomorrow, and the weather is supposed to be rainy on Christmas Eve. I'm glad I did. While it was busy down around Wal Mart and on Nicholson Road, it otherwise wasn't bad. I had a very pleasant ride.

There was a package waiting for me in the mail. My friend Rodney Walker had sent me two unusual gifts. One was a Pokemon he'd apparently gotten as a freebie from a convention, a real Japanese one, from the tag. The other was a Monkees tribute band CD that sounded interesting. I'll listen to it next week, after Christmas.

When I finally got in, I had a quick lunch, then went right into baking. I wanted to try making Candy Cane Cupcakes...but I only had Pep-o-mint Lifesavers to crush, and they didn't crush well. I thought they were supposed to go in the batter...but they were supposed to top them! The pieces were too big and crunchy to give away. I decided I'd keep them for myself for this week.

Ran It's a Wonderful Life while I baked. George Bailey (James Stewart) feels like life has passed him by. He's worked in the same loan company his father owns in the same town all his life. He wanted to travel, but something always happened, mainly involving the loan company and nasty Mr. Potter, who pretty much owns the rest of the town (Lionel Barrymore). On Christmas Eve, his forgetful Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses the money he needs to keep the bank open. With the threat of bankrupsy and a being arrested for fraud and a bank inspector breathing down his shoulder, he considers jumping off a bridge, but is stopped by a strange old man (Henry Travers). The man is Clarance, an angel, who shows George what the town would have been like if he were never born. George finally realizes what a wonderful life he has...and just how important his friends and family are to him.

I love this movie. This was one of Stewart's finest performances - Reed and Travers are also excellent. There's a great cast of character actors around, too, having a lot of fun with the material. However, this is also very pro-small town and pro-small business, and not all of its values have dated well. Not to mention, most of the second half of the movie, where George discovers what his hometown would have been like without him, was filmed like the shadowy film noir then in vogue...and it's so scary, I was 12 before I'd watch this movie without skipping that part.

This isn't everyone's cup of Christmas tea, but if you can handle the sentiment and the scares in the second half, you may enjoy George's wonderful life, too.

Went into writing as soon as the cupcakes were out of the oven. Leia awakens the next day to see a horrifying old man in the place of the elderly merchant. Palpatine has revealed his true colors - he's really the warlock who killed Luke and Leia's aunt and uncle and stole their father's money. He locks Luke in the carriage house, intending to fatten him up and eat him. He orders Leia to cook in the kitchen with his nephew and his dog. Leia and his nephew both try to attack him, but he knocks them back with his powers.

As soon as Palpatine leaves, the nephew tells Leia that his name is Han and his dog is Chewbacca. He can talk, but only in a whisper, and only when his "uncle" isn't around. Leia wants to ask more, but the moment the moon rises, he says he has to leave. Leia doesn't understand it - his "uncle" claims he's busy elsewhere.

Richard called just as I was finishing up my writing for the evening. While I was checking Amazon for rims, he checked Craigslist...and found a listing for a bike down the street that was less than most rims would cost. Turns out he really did find a nice one this time, a white and gray cruiser with shiny, very new tires and rims and covers over both front and back wheels. At the very least, I could tell there was no rust on it. If it gets me to where I need to go and holds what I need to carry, I'm fine. I do appreciate it - I hope he and Miss Willa liked the cranberry bread I made.

I'm glad I always try to keep two or three boxes of cake mix around. I decided I'd keep the first cupcakes for me and make a second batch of Chocolate Chip Cupcakes to give away. I did this and ate leftovers while watching It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special. Buster Bunny's not having a great holiday. The Toons' big variety show is going badly, thanks to a jealous Montana Max (in a wheelchair) doing his best to sabotage the proceedings. When the frustrated blue bunny wishes he'd never been on the show, a white rabbit who speaks in a familiar drawl and calls himself Harvey shows what it would have been like if he were never created.

Ended the night with the Faerie Tale Theatre version of "Hansel & Gretel," one of two stories that inspired the fanfiction I'm currently working on. Ricky Schroder is Hansel, who is lost in the woods with his sister Gretel after their selfish stepmother (Joan Collins) insists they'd be better off without them. They stumble upon a gingerbread house, but the lady who owns it turns out to be a witch (also Collins) who eats children. Gretel has to figure out how to free her brother and make sure neither end up being the witch's next meal.

Oh, and the Eagles played the Giants tonight...and finally pulled off a decent and much-needed win, 24-19.

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