Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's a Beautiful Day, Charlie Brown

Started a gorgeous morning off with breakfast and He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. Chuck's off to summer camp with Marcie, Linus, and Re-Run. (Peppermint Patty, who can't stand that her best friend is having fun with her crush without her, joins in later.) There's a mean boy who is winning all the kids' marbles, including Re-Run's. Angry for once in his life, Charlie Brown opts to fight back, learning about marble-playing from Snoopy before going up against the kid. Chuck may be bad at baseball and kite flying...but he proves that he is good at standing up for his friends.

Spent the next few hours writing. Leia and Luke have their encounter on the bridge outside the village. Luke does reveal to Leia that she's his sister. He will go against Vader eventually...but not now. Vader's not in the area, anyway. He went back to Nabarrie Palace. When Henry comes out, he ends up holding both of them.

Broke around noon for a quick lunch. Started It's a Short Summer, Charlie Brown while I ate. In this earlier summer camp tale, Chuck and the boys just can't seem to beat Peppermint Patty and the girls at anything at camp, from swimming to softball. It doesn't help that the girls tease them obnoxiously about it. The boys' only hope to save face is the Masked Marvel (aka Snoopy) going up against Lucy in arm wrestling.

Headed out at 12:30, making my first stop at the Oaklyn Library. It was too nice a day for anyone to want to be inside for long. I saw one older woman who stopped to chat with the librarian and look over the piles of children's books they still have for sale after their big book sale a few weeks ago. I organized DVDs and looked over board books. Ended up buying two DVDs for 50 cents off the DVDs for sale rack, a public domain copy of the Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette and a Backyardigans set I didn't have, Robot Repairman.

Next up was a very short stop at Dollar Tree. I write my work schedule for the week and any chores or errands I need to do on a dry erase board. I started using them in college when I saw other students who had dry erase boards with their class schedules on their doors or mini-refrigerators and thought it might be useful. My current black dry erase marker was obviously dying, and it was the last one from the previous pack. Quickly grabbed a new pack and, despite a long line, was in and out in five minutes.

I'm actually pretty glad I had counseling today. This was a perfect afternoon for a ride to Haddonfield. Once again, the sun was shining, a cool wind was blowing, and it was dry and warm, but not overly hot for this time of year, probably in the lower 80's. I took the long way across Haddonfield and Westmont, down Crystal Lake Road and then up to West Park Avenue and West End Avenue to King's Highway. Briefly explored a small local bookstore when I arrived before heading down the road to Mrs. Stahl's office.

I had a lot to discuss with her, mostly good news. I'm actually pretty proud of being able to get the food stamps on my own, with minimal pushing from parents. The last time I had food stamps, when I lived in Wildwood in the early 2000s, Mom practically had to beg me to get them. I now understand how much they can help when you need them. I enjoyed Lauren's visit here last month and am very much looking forward to heading up to Pittsfield to see her in a couple of weeks. The 4th of July and my sister's impending birth are coming up soon, too. I'm not 100% happy with the new front door, but at least Charlie's actually doing something about the apartment instead of constantly saying "soon."

My only real problems right now are my troublesome managers. One is very fussy, but means well. He's not really mean, just a fussbudget. The other is mean and nasty and is not well-liked by anyone. I'm crossing my fingers that both move on within the next few months, and whomever we get after them is an improvement.

I was a bit hungry after my ride and picked up a gelati at Primo's on the way down Haddon Avenue. Gelatis are a dessert that layers water ice and soft ice cream. I had coconut ice cream with pina colada water ice. It wasn't bad. The coconut ice cream didn't really have that much flavor, but at least it was sweet and didn't overpower the water ice.

Rode back to Oaklyn across Newton Lake Park. Needless to say on such a lovely afternoon, I dodged a lot of people out for a stroll or a walk, fishermen, and other bikers. The park is truly beautiful right now, still green and fresh-looking. Some of the cooler temperatures we've had lately have largely discouraged the thick algae we had last year, too.

I'd been wanting to take a swim in Dad and Jodie's pool, but either the weather would be bad or too hot to ride over there, or I would be too pooped. Since I figured I'd be going by there on my way home, I just brought my bathing suit and towel with me. Khai, Ryan, and Savannah were already in the pool when I arrived, playing with Craig and a giant inflatable banana float. Savannah was a little upset that her brother wouldn't stay in the shallow end with her. (She's only about 4 and is still learning to swim.) I raced her and watched her splash around. The kids were having such a great time, they refused to get out, especially Khai. He gave Craig a terrible time about it.

Had dinner about a half-hour later or so with Dad and Jodie. Jodie made breaded chicken patties with mozzarella cheese on hamburger buns, noodles with garlic and butter, and steamed spinach. Yum. I'm not overly fond of breaded patties, but the cheese made it palatable. I had a ton of spinach and noodles. Dad and Jodie and I watched Law & Order re-runs and the news on Fox 29 as we ate.

Played some Lego Clone Wars when I got in. Did my second go-around on "Duel of the Droids." Disappointingly, other than picking up one more minikit piece and True Jedi, I didn't really do much here. A lot of extra areas require special characters or the dark Sith magic to get into. I did better in the spaceship hub. Used one of the R2 units to open another red brick, this one giving you the Minikit Detector.

Finished out the night online while watching last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. This version of the tale of a boy and his big green buddy moves from the New England seaside in the 1900's to the woods of the Northwest in 1977. Mr. Meachum (Robert Redford) dazzles local kids with his tales of a dragon who lives in the woods and breathes fire. His daughter, a forest ranger named Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), thinks his tales are silly...until she discovers a feral young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete swears he lives in the woods with his dragon Elliot and won't leave him. Grace, her lumber mill owner boyfriend Jack (Wes Bentley) and his little girl Natalie (Oona Laurence), take Pete in and teaches him about the modern world, but he still misses his friend. Jack's brother Gavin (Karl Urban) just wants to catch Elliot and put their small backwoods town on the map.

This was surprisingly sweet. It's not great, but the original wasn't, either. While it lacks the original's fun songs and roster of hammy character actors, it makes up for it with stunning visuals and a moving script. Howard and Redford play well off of each other as the father who tells stories and the daughter who only believes what she sees. Laurence and Fegley also do well as the kids who know in their hearts that Elliot is real. And the animation on Elliot is phenomenal, especially his furry body and expressions.

My main complaint is that Gavin's story seems a bit forced. Even in the original, the villains actually had a purpose for wanting Elliot. Here, Gavin just wants to show off, and it drags down the third act.

This isn't something I expected Disney to remake, or even thought they'd actually remembered they made the first time. I'm kind of glad they did. This is a rare remake that's at least on a par with the original. (And if they have to do remakes, at least in this case they picked something obscure that could actually stand for the updating.) Highly recommended for families or those just looking for a nice, solid drama about a boy, a dragon, and their love of nature.

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