Monday, May 29, 2017

Barbecues and Cartoons

Kicked off Memorial Day with excerpts from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. All of the material in Colliers reflects it's origins in the Civil War, including the one short story, Light Bread and Apple Butter. A starving Union soldier does work for a woman and her daughter who have been alone on their farm since her husband went to war, even though she said she'd give him apples for free. Most of the other pieces were poems or hymns, like Barbara Fretchie and The Blue and the Gray.

I also did the last couple of chapters from Happy Birthday Addy! After having to deal with some nasty prejudice in Philadelphia, Addy's thrilled to learn that the Civil War has ended. Like many born in slavery, she doesn't know when her birthday really is. Proud of the war's end, she chooses April 9th as her big day.

Today was my second early work morning in a row. While I did check the bathrooms to make sure they were clean (they were) and did a small cart of returns, I was mostly outside with the carts. Maybe it's just as well. We were busy for most of the morning. The one time I ran across a manager, he grouchily ordered me to clean up some litter without so much as a "please," "thank you," or "how do you do." I would have been happier to help him if he wasn't rude about it.

Needless to say, I was very happy to hurry home. It wasn't a day to be lingering outside. Though the heavy rain ended well before I went to work, it sprinkled lightly on and off all morning, and the clouds and cool temperatures would remain for the rest of the day.

Ran a couple of wartime shorts while eating a quick lunch of peanut butter and raspberry jam on a hot dog roll. Donald Duck debuted about five or six years before the war started, but his brash personality proved to be far more in temper with the times than laid-back Mickey's. He starred in eight war-related shorts between 1942 and 1944, six of which I ran today. "Donald Gets Drafted" and "Sky Trooper" has Donald joining the Army, mainly because he thinks being an Air Force flyer would be a great way to meet girls. Sergeant Pete would rather drill him than actually let him in the air...and when he does put him on a plane, the results are explosive for both.

"The Vanishing Private" is my favorite of Donald's Army shorts. It's the only one where he really gets the best of Pete in the end. Donald is a camouflage painter who's covering a new cannon. He takes Pete's orders to make the artillery "hard to see" literally when he stumbles across an invisibility paint. He first uses it on the cannon...and then accidentally on himself when Pete has a fit over the disappearing cannon. The amused duck leads Pete on a merry chase all over the base to catch "the little man you can't see."

"Der Fuehrer's Face" was the Oscar-winning animated short of 1942. Don dreams himself into a surreal Nazi Germany, where he's forced to work making shells for bullets...and almost cracks from the strain. Some stereotypes in the beginning aside, I can see why this one won awards. The imagery and use of color is amazing, especially towards the end, when Don loses it. The catchy theme song was a surprise hit for comic orchestra Spike Jones and His City Slickers.

Worked on my story for a few hours after lunch. I mainly went back and revised and cleaned up a few places. Langdon leads Leia, Charles, and Cedric to the stables, but they're too late. Fettson bursts out of the gates in his armored paddy wagon, Henry imprisoned within. They can't catch him on the ground...but the Falcon might be able to in the air. Langdon insists that the Falcon isn't ready, but Leia goes to get it anyway.

Headed out around 4 for a Memorial Day barbecue at Dad and Jodie's. Rose and her boys and Dana were already there when I arrived. Jessa and Joe and a couple of neighbors, including Khai's buddies Chloe and Bree, came around later. I saw Jodie twice today at the Acme buying groceries. Along with the burgers and hot dogs, she had pasta salad, Bacon-Caesar Salad, corn on the cob, her vinegary cucumber salad, and baked beans and weenies. The neighbors brought a Buffalo chicken dip, a bag of blue and white corn chips, and a vegetable tray with hummus and Triscuits. Rose had lemon cupcakes to go with the mini versions Jodie picked up at the Acme.

I had the pasta salad, lettuce salad, corn, blue corn chips, vegetables, two burgers, and two lemon cupcakes. Tried the Buffalo dip, but it was way too spicy for me! The hummus was more my speed.

I mostly kept an eye on the kids. Chloe, Bree, and Khai first played with Khai's Pokemon miniatures. When they got bored with that, they dumped out the plastic bin of Beanie Babies that used to belong to Jessa. There's so many of them, Chloe was literally able to make a mattress out of them at one point.

Watched the second half of The LEGO Movie while the kids threw stuffed animals around (despite their parents repeatedly telling them not to). This salute to creativity introduces ordinary LEGO construction worker Emmett (Chris Pratt), who has only ever followed the instructions to build normal skyscrapers. When he gets a strange orange cap stuck on his back and a wise old man (Morgan Freeman) declares him to be "The Special" who will save them all. He's doubtful at first. He doesn't seem to have the ideas that all the Master Builders from the various lines have. He does posses one ability they lack - the ability to work with others on a job from start to finish.

Went home around quarter after 6. Played Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars for an hour or so before hitting the shower. Further explored the main ship hub and discovered several more levels, including one for Sith (dark magic users) only, collecting lots of studs on the way. I also discovered at least two more levels and a game are waiting to be discovered, after I've gotten enough bricks.

Went backwards to "Battle of Geonosis." This is a Jedi-only affair, as Mace Windu leads a squadron of knights to blow up machines creating battle droids. Once I found the right vehicles to shoot the buildings down, this one was a lot of fun. (And the first round I got True Jedi on.) Tried the Anakin-Obi-Wan round again, but didn't get far. I finally looked it up online tonight. I'll try again the next time I play.

Finished the night with the remaining wartime shorts from Donald and others. "Fall Out, Fall In" has a weary Don on a long march with the rest of his troupe. First he can't eat because his tent is giving him trouble, then his noisy troop keeps him awake. He's "Commando Duck" when he's sent to contact the (stereotyped) Japanese. He somehow manages to, wash...out the enemy.

Mickey Mouse may have been too benign for the 40's, but he did do a war-related short in 1929. "The Barnyard Battle" pits him and his fellow farm animals against a platoon of tough Hun cats. He may be a skinny rubber-hose mouse, but he still manages to take them on and come out on top.

The Pink Panther has less luck in Vietnam in "G.I Pink." Unlike Donald, who was swayed by the glamour of the recruiting posters, Pink was swayed by the power. He proceeds to drive his sergeant crazy with his antics, when they aren't both out-running an angry mascot dog.

And I salute all those who fought and died in all wars on this Memorial Day. I hope yours was as much fun as mine ultimately was.

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