Friday, June 23, 2017

Secret Agents and Daring Detectives

Kicked off a cloudy morning with breakfast and some particularly strange season 4 episodes of Danger Mouse. DM and Penfold follow Baron Greenback from Gibraltar to the "Tower of Terror" in New York City. The tower isn't so much terrifying as it is plain strange, as it's the home of a group of practical jokers. Elephants randomly stampede, people climb around on the ceiling, and DM somehow manages to walk off the edge of the film strip.

"Four Heads are Better Than Two," or so Colonel K thinks when he sends robot versions of Danger Mouse and Penfold off to a pinball palace that Greenback is re-configuring to rule the world. One pair has to find Agent 57, the master of disguise; the other must secure Greenback. The robots prove to be a little too much like their originals...and then the mechanical Penfold is caught by the Baron...

I was about to head out to the grocery store when I happened to peek in the mail box to see if anything came for me. Sure enough, my new food stamp card had arrived! I went inside to call Camden County and set a password for it, then went back out.

The card couldn't have come at a better time. While I didn't need a lot of groceries, I did have to pick up a few that were fairly expensive, like whole wheat flour. Found a breaded flounder fillet pack and a small container of mini-scallops with manager's coupons. Restocked yogurt, butter, shampoo, canned pineapple, peanut butter, vanilla, and ground chicken. Had an online coupon for the new Halo Top ice cream; decided I couldn't resist the red velvet. Needed Liquid Plumber badly for the sink in the kitchen. They were having a dollar sale on small baguettes; bought a sesame seed-topped one. Bought a Dasani Sparkling Water for the way home.

Returned to Danger Mouse as I poured the Liquid Plumber down the drain and put everything else away. Moved ahead to the shorter episodes of the sixth season as I got organized. The dynamic rodent duo discover that "Alping Is Snow Easy Matter" when they have to stop Greenback from defrosting the ice caps and flooding the world. Penfold's yelling "Aagggh! Spiders!" when Greenback's crow assistant Silletto uses one of his boss' machines to create giant arachnids. "One of Our Stately Homes Is Missing" when a beautiful old mansion is stolen and held for ransom. DM and Penfold help a fellow government agency recover it.

Went back out again to run more errands, this time starting at the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. The "smokin' hickory" wrap I had - grilled chicken with cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce - was amazing, thick and sweet and just tangy enough. As usual, I ate the pickles and cole slaw but put the bag of chips aside. I'm not a fan of chips. It was busy with people coming out of offices, though at least one couple had gone by the time I was finished.

Next stop was the Haddon Township Library. Spent an hour organizing the children's and adults' DVDs. The kids' area was especially bad. I doubt anyone's done that for a while. Someone did finally realize that we have so many Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine titles, they don't fit in with the rest of the discs anymore. They've been moved to their own shelves.

Took out quite a few movies this week. Grabbed the last two Charlie Chan titles the library had, In Egypt and In Shanghai, and the next Star Trek title, The Final Frontier. One of Disney's newest shows is Tangled Before Forever After, apparently about Rapunzel and Flynn's adventures before they get married. I liked the movie enough to give this a chance. Also found last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. Took out He's a Bully, Charlie Brown in honor of the start of summer.

Made two quick stops on my way back to Oaklyn. Finally dropped Dad-Bill's Father's Day card in the post office, since I was going by there anyway. Went around the corner to Dollar General for sugar.

My last stop of the day was at Dad and Jodie's house. I haven't been over there since Dana's graduation party at the beginning of the month. They were watching an old Law & Order episode with a neighbor when I came in. I told them about getting my food stamps and about the repairs on the house. Jodie told me that they did finally call Greyhound. They won't be sending the tickets until likely next week. They don't want us to lose them before I go, which is perfectly reasonable. And no, she hasn't heard about the doctor. Rose and Mom apparently have to sign things, too, and Rose's focus is more on the baby that's due in a month at the moment.

We went out to the pool for a while and ate cheese and crackers while we talked. Mary and Emily and their mom arrived twenty minutes later to go swimming. I decided it was time to head home. It was a tad less humid, but the sky was still off and on cloudy, and the wind was getting worse.

Did a little bit of writing when I got in. Henry has been officially made part of the newly combined League of the Crimson Hawk and Rebel Society. He's going to lead the group that'll help out the people being forced to work the mines in Endor. Leia and Charles sign up immediately. Luke and Rusty do it the moment they come in the door. Leia realizes there's something different about Luke, but he says they'll discuss it later...

Broke around 6:30 to have a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and leftover snap peas for dinner. Did some crocheting while I watched Charlie Chan In Egypt. Charlie is asked to help out while on holiday when an archaeologist disappears, worrying his already nervous daughter Carol (Pat Paterson). Neither his assistant Tom (Thomas Beck) nor Carol's doctor (Jameson Thomas), nor his brother, a fellow archaeologist (Frank Conroy) know where he is...until he turns up murdered. His son Barry (James Eagles) insists it was a curse, but Charlie thinks there's something more down-to-Earth involved when he discovers that priceless artifacts from the late professor's expedition have been turning up in private collections and museums.

On one hand, this is one of the more interesting early Charlie Chan stories. It makes far more use of the setting than In Rio, with its shadowy tombs and bustling markets. There's a fairly involving plot, too, especially the ingenious way the son is killed later. This is also the first Chan movie I've seen with no number one or two son around to flirt or cause trouble.

Unfortunately, this one is marred by some heavy-handed stereotyping, and not from Charlie Chan. Stepin Fetchit, (in)famous for his portrayal of the worst kind of lazy African-American, plays Tom's helper on the expedition. His bumbling cowardice is likely supposed to replace Charlie's sons as comic relief, but not only is his character obnoxious, but he has the most annoying high-pitched voice, too. And those of you looking for Rita Hayworth in this will be disappointed. She only has a few scenes as a native maid under the stage name Rita Cansino.

Recommended if you love the Chan series or Indiana Jones-style mysteries, but do keep in mind that this is entirely a film of its time, up to and including Fetchit.

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