Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Love and Mystery are On the Air Tonight

It was still cloudy and gloomy when I got up this morning and still humid, but not nearly as hot. I ran an episode of the original Scooby Doo, Where are You? set in San Francisco's Chinatown while eating breakfast. It's a "Mystery Mask Mix-Up" when Daphne buys a jeweled mask in an antique shop that a phantom also wants. Mr. Fong, a historian, claims the relic once belonged to an ancient warlord whose ghost wants it back. Velma thinks there's someone else behind the spooky goings-on.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. In the dead of night, after even the casino has cleared out, Leia and Charlie creep into the lobby. Leia, who swiped the keys to the cage from Jasper, frees Hank. Her kiss breaks him somewhat out of his drugged state, though he can't see her well. He lost his prescription sunglasses when he fell into the tank, and his spares are in the Falcon. Charlie dreamily compares it to the tale Jasper told earlier, insisting that it's the princess, not the evil wizard, who breaks the curse over the warrior.

Jasper catches them just as they're leaving. He orders his men to wash the powder off Hank, then toss him and Charlie in the basement. Leia is shoved into his lap. He'll keep her as his mistress and personal plaything, to her disgust.

Broke at 1 for lunch and to get ready for work. Ran the first special on one of my homemade DVDs as I ate. Rescue at Nightmare Castle was the very first My Little Pony special, from 1982. Firefly, the bravest of all the Pegasus ponies, brings Meghan, a normal human girl, to their world. Tirak, an evil demon, has been stealing ponies to transform into dragons to pull his chariot. If he gets enough, he'll create the Night That Never Ends! Meghan and the remaining ponies seek the help of the absent-minded Moochick and singing Sea Ponies to defeat the nasty creature.

Work was nowhere near as annoying as it has been lately. It began showering when I was riding to the Acme, and continued to shower off and on (sometimes heavily) for the rest of the day. It was hardly the best time to be lingering after work. We were never more than mildly steady the entire night. I mostly gathered carts and baskets; briefly did the trash later and mopped the women's bathroom (the men's didn't really need it) early on.

The rain had begun to pick up as I was riding home. I arrived quite damp. Ran Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, the next title on the disc, as I changed into dry clothes and tossed some vegetables into the leftover beef soup for dinner. While acting as a watchdog for Peppermint Patty, Snoopy encounters the poodle of his dreams and proposes. As the kids prepare the wedding ceremony, Snoopy's brother Spike tries to earn enough money to head east for the event.

Thought I'd try something a little different tonight. I love tomato soup, and I thought the recipe for Tomato-Spice Cake in The Cake Doctor actually sounded delicious. Since I used the non-concentrated Cream of Tomato soup, I eliminated the water and added brown sugar. Oooh, it came out soooo nicely. Who knew tomato soup could compliment spice cake so well, you barely taste the tomato?

Watched Radioland Murders as I baked. Love and mystery are on the air in 1940 as radio station WBN goes coast to coast to become America's fourth network. Writer Roger Henderson (Brian Benben) is only interested in getting back into the good graces of his wife Penny (Mary Stuart Masterson) after he had an affair with the vamp-ish Claudette Kasenbach (Anita Morris). He suddenly has a lot more on his mind than his love life when people begin dying backstage, including Claudette's estranged German husband (Larry Miller), the director (Jeffrey Tambor) and the station's owner (Ned Beatty). Roger has the bad luck to be near the crime every time, making the police suspect him. Now he has to clear his name, or he might be writing his final scene in prison.

The first half of this movie is fast and funny, with some great cameos (look for George Burns in his final screen appearance, among others) and delightful parodies of real-life radio shows. The trouble is in the second half, after the murders stop and Roger realizes it wasn't just a love triangle. This is where the slapstick and farce take over, seriously bogging down the remainder of the film and taking the spotlight away from the carefully crafted radio spoofs.

If you're a fan of the cast, old-time radio, or screwball comedy, you might be willing to give this kooky mystery a try.

Finished the night online while watching another little-known comic mystery. Clue is based around the famous board game that has six people accused of killing Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) in a spooky mansion. Here, they're joined by butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) and busty French maid Yvette (Colleen Camp), both of whom may know a lot more about the murders than they reveal at first. After Boddy's death, the bodies begin to pile up, and now the entire crew - goofy Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), sassy madam Miss Scarlet (Leslie Ann Warren), prim politician's wife Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), lusty psychiatrist Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), black widow Mrs. White (Madeline Khan), and clumsy Mr. Green (Michael McKean) - have to figure out who dunnit, before someone does it to them "in the hall, with the revolver."

This has been one of my favorite movies since my family taped it off cable around 1987. Mom always called it our official "stormy evening" movie - we watched it whenever there was an especially spooky thunderstorm. Like Radioland Murders, this is a fast-paced farce with a great all-star cast at the top of its game. Unlike Murders, it doesn't overstay its welcome or lose focus on its core cast and the mystery at hand. Everyone has a moment to shine, from Curry's breathless summation of the entire film to Kahn's "breathing, breathless" speech towards the end that was apparently improvised.

A big problem - and part of why the critics may have complained - are the multiple endings. All three are included on the DVD. You can either run one at random, or all three. (I prefer all three, as it is on streaming services and the original video. It's more fun that way, and really just what I'm used to.) Audiences at movie theaters, however, only got one random ending, something that baffled people then. Between the game tie-in and the multiple endings, I suspect this movie was simply ahead of its time.

If you love a good comedy or a good mystery, or are intrigued by the multiple endings gimmick, this is one of the most underrated comedies of the 1980's and is highly recommended.

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