Saturday, December 31, 2016

The New Year's Strikes Back

Began the last day of 2016 with very early work. Pretty much the same deal as yesterday - quiet when I came in, busy when I left. I rounded up carts when I first arrived. A second bagger took that over later, leaving me free to do indoor chores - clean the bathrooms, gather baskets, bag for people.

When I got home, I ran some Max & Ruby while eating the last of the leftover Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip for lunch. "Ruby's Gingerbread House" will be beautiful, if she and Louise can ever get it to stand. Max just wants them to consider his gummy worms. "Max's Christmas Passed" has Ruby taking down the Christmas decorations. Max finds a way to use the decorations to relieve her Christmas blues. It's "Max's New Year." Grandma and Ruby are celebrating with games, fizzy drinks, and party hats. Max just wants to eat the clock-shaped cookies Grandma baked.

Worked on my story for several hours. As the bear begins to create stories with this odd assortment of animals and birds, she finds one animal especially fascinating. A handsome falcon shares her wit and gift for storytelling, but he keeps apart from the others. Though he loves to tell stories, right now, he mostly builds nests for other birds and for his own family. One day, he saves the bear from hunters. She's not grateful at first, until the Falcon shows her kindness. The two become very close, the best of friends, but he has a mate and fledglings, and besides, he's not a bear. She knows she can't keep him.

Got up around quarter after 4 for a walk. I was originally going to go to Common Grounds or WaWa for a treat, but I had enough food at home. I just strolled down to the concrete boat landing on the end of Goff Avenue. It wasn't the nicest day by that point, very windy and mostly cloudy, but I generally enjoyed my walk.

When I got home, I figured I'd have an early dinner, since my lunch was relatively early. I finally came up with Country Boneless Pork Ribs with pineapple-apricot sauce, spinach salad with home-made honey mustard dressing, and the Red Lobster cheese biscuits that Lauren gave me back at the beginning of the month.

Ran a bunch of New Year's specials and shorts as I worked and ate. Rudolph's Shiny New Year has the famous red-nosed critter saving the Baby New Year when he runs away, due to people laughing at his very large ears. Rudolph shows the little fellow that his ears are nothing to be ashamed of.

Charlie Brown's having an even more difficult New Year's Eve in Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! He's supposed to be doing a book report on War and Peace. Peppermint Patty invites him to her New Year's party...and he invites the Little Red Haired Girl. Sally wants to be asked to the party by her Sweet Baboo Linus, Peppermint Patty is convinced Charlie Brown will ask her, and Lucy is waiting not-so-patiently for Schroder to ask her. When the party does roll around, Chuck brings the book with him...and spends his New Year's Eve snoring over it.

Did a few shorts while cleaning up from dinner. Mickey Mouse is the original party animal in the 1932 black and white short "The Whoopee Party." His shindig gets so crazy, even the furniture dances along! Bluto tries to sabotage Popeye and Olive Oyl's act in "Morning, Noon, and Nightclub." Popeye finds a way to turn the tables on him. Popeye's saying "Let's Celebrake" when he, Olive, and Bluto go out on the town for New Year's Eve. Popeye gallantly invites Olive's grandma along. Spinach gives her enough energy to keep her and Popeye dancing.

Switched to Holiday Inn while trying my new popcorn maker and munching on the tasty results. Bing Crosby plays a singer who opens an inn that's only open on holidays. Marjorie Reynolds is the girl he hires as his main act, then becomes smitten with. On New Year's Eve, his former partner (Fred Astaire), who was just abandoned by his girlfriend (Virginia Dale), shows up at the inn looking for someone new to dance with. He thinks Reynolds is perfect, and the two men find themselves in a love triangle all over again.

I actually kind of like this one better than White Christmas. For one thing, the romantic complications don't seem quite as forced. For another, it has a surprising dark side. It's fairly realistic about the grind of show business and what many performers, even now, have to give up to be able to do what they do. For the most part, the small numbers are quite charming (with the exception of a blackface routine to "Abraham" that likely won't go over well with many people today). If you're a fan of Astaire or Crosby, or want to know where the song "White Christmas" really came from, this is well worth your time.

Ended 2016 the way I began it, with Star Wars. In A New Hope, desert farmer Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) wants a life of adventure, far from his dull chores. He gets more than he bargained for when he intercepts two droids with a message from the kidnapped Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) for Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), a former Jedi Knight. The duo eventually set out to rescue her from the evil Darth Vader, with the help of roguish smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his hairy buddy Chewbacca (Peter Mahew).

The Empire Strikes Back in a big way in the second film, destroying the new Rebel base on Hoth and sending everyone fleeing. Han and Leia take his ship the Millennium Falcon to Bespin, home of Han's buddy Lando Calarissian (Billy Dee Williams), and fall deeply in love along the way. Meanwhile, Luke goes to the swampy planet of Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi Knights from Yoda, ancient master of Jedi wisdom and scrambled syntax. Vader is determined to get his hands on Luke no matter what and use Han and Leia as bait to trap him. Their blossoming relationship and Luke's training are threatened when Luke falls into the trap...and Vader lets loose with a bombshell that shatters everything Luke believed about his parentage.

Yes, I still love these movies. The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie of all time, and has been since it started turning up on cable in the mid-80's. If you love fantasy, space opera, swashbucklers, or just good storytelling, these are still highly recommended, in whatever version you prefer.

As Han and Leia landed on Bespin and greeted Lando, sirens started going off all around me. I hurried over to my front door, and got a perfect glimpse of beautiful red and green fireworks being set off across the creek from me. It couldn't have been a better beginning.

Here's hoping that you have a safe and happy 2017, no matter which galaxy you celebrate it in.

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