Friday, September 01, 2017

When the Going Gets Tough

Brrr! I was freezing in my thin summer quilt and cotton sheet when I awoke this morning. It was sunny, but breezy and very cool, probably in the upper 60's, more like fall than late summer. I actually closed a few windows.

Had a warm breakfast of corn meal mush and mandarin oranges while watching The Backyardigans. Austin is a "Robot Repairman" in futuristic Robot City in the last of the show's three hour-long specials. Robots never break down in Robot City, leaving Austin and his robot Roscoe without much to do...until bugs start making all the robots go haywire. Now Austin, Roscoe, and the other kids have to stop Professor Bug (Pablo) from controlling all of the robots and making them do his bidding!

Continued on to "Catch That Train" as I got ready for work. Tyrone is the Czar of Russia, on his way to the Winter Palace in the royal train. Uniqua is the conductor; Pablo is his ridiculously devoted and prepared servant. When Uniqua accidentally releases the breaks, the duo end up chasing the train all the way to Moscow, while Pablo still tries to fulfill Tyrone's needs.

Work was a pain in the rear today. Not only is it the beginning of Labor Day Weekend, but it's also the beginning of the month. We were really busy. I was outside early on, but I mostly bagged and did trash. I got stuck in the registers a few times as well, including for a half-hour right before I finished. That nasty head manager barged outside and demanded that I take the register, despite there being no carts and the head bagger needing help. He didn't say "please" and only gave me a very grudging "thank you." And of course, by the time I came in, there were no lines and it wasn't busy. I opened anyway, just to avoid an argument. (I wish they'd relocate that man, preferably far away from me. I heard Siberia is nice this time of year.)

The schedules were up by the time I finished. Mostly late hours this week, including Labor Day. Of course, one of the early days is Saturday, which means no Collingswood Farm Market next week. I may try to get to the Westmont Farm Market. I'm off on Tuesday and Wednesday, Tuesday for counseling.

Had a really big order this week to take advantage of holiday sales. Found a small container of shrimp and two breaded fish fillets with manager's coupons. Snared sugar and a can of organic vegetable soup from the clearance shelves. Bought strawberries for dessert later. Had good online coupons for the Acme's generic natural ice cream (went with Salted Caramel Butter Pecan) and organic snack food (I love blue corn chips). They no longer sell bubble bath; thought body wash might be more useful, anyway. Restocked skim milk, brown sugar, yogurt, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, grape jam (Smucker's Natural was on clearance), cheese, mandarin oranges, honey, ground turkey, and pasta.

Finished up the Backyardigans disc as I put everything away. "Attack of the 50 Foot Wormen" is the second Tyrone/Uniqua/Pablo story in the set. This time, Pablo and Uniqua are scientists working on a growth formula. They test it on popcorn...that's being eaten by a wormen, one of the cute worm-like critters who appear on the show from time to time. The formula makes the wormen grow and grow, until he nearly destroys the university grounds. While Uniqua and Groundskeeper Tyrone try to catch that wormen, Pablo works on a counter-formula.

Worked on writing for a few hours next. Vader's boys torture Hank by beating him with brass knuckles and whipping him with belts. Charlie gets stuck dealing with a nervous and angry Chip, while Vader forces Leia to watch Hank's beating. They all finally end up in the VIP Lounge, where Lance reveals that Hank's being turned over to bounty hunter Bobby Fett, while the others remain on Bespin Island. Hank tries to attack him, but Vader's boys get him down.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. After having my shrimp with green beans and tomatoes and homemade tartar sauce, I thought I'd try something different for dessert. I love shortcakes, grunts, and cobblers, any simple dessert that'll let you play with fruit. I was originally going to make a berry cobbler, but I saw a recipe for Summer Fruit Shortcake in the Farmer's Market supermarket stand cookbook Lauren sent me last year. It was so easy, I thought I'd try it. The shortcake was made largely the same, baked in a 9-inch cake pan. Strawberries replaced the peaches and raspberries, neither of which I had. Topped it with Salted Caramel Butter Pecan ice cream when it came out.

Oh, yummm! It was so delicious. I did have a hard time getting the shortcake out of the pan, but once I did, it was a perfect crusty base for the sugared strawberries. While the melted ice cream was a nice touch, I think it was a bit too much. I'll just go with the fruit the next time I have this.

Ran Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland while I worked and ate. This adaptation of the comic strip from the early 1900's introduces us to Nemo, a normal kid with an amazing imagination, and his pet flying squirrel Icarus. He dreams that he's been adopted by King Morpheous of Slumberland and his daughter Camille, who want to make him prince and the heir to their powers. Being a prince isn't as exciting as Nemo had hoped, which is why he lets the prankster Flip (Mickey Rooney) convince him to open the door to the Nightmare Kingdom. He seriously regrets what he's done when the Nightmare King kidnaps the kindly Morpheous. Now Nemo has to figure out how to use the king's scepter to rescue the ruler and his new friends, before he awakens for good.

Typical animated fantasy is livened by a few whimsical touches, especially in the Slumberland segment. If you're interested, the current DVD has the original soundtrack and a few extra minutes that were cut from the North American print.

Finished out the night online while watching The Jewel of the Nile. Romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is bored with her career and her relationship with Jack Colton (Michael Douglass). Hoping to bolster her portfolio, she accepts an invitation from a charming Middle Eastern ruler (Spiros Focas) who wants her to write about him. Turns out he's a nasty dictator, and very far from the benevolent king he claims to be. When Joan gets photos of his plots, he locks her in jail, along with a rather goofy holy man (Avner Eisenberg). Meanwhile, Jack is on the trail of a fabled "Jewel of the Nile" after his boat is destroyed, along with Ralph (Danny DiVito), one of the criminals from the previous film. But neither the Jewel, nor Omar's intentions, are what they appear to be...

On one hand, they had some good ideas here. The idea of a desert romance story is a sound one, and the plot with the dictator is actually kind of interesting. I also liked Ralph bonding with the Arabic tribe. The poor guy deserved something, after everything he went through. This also features one of my favorite childhood movie songs, the hit "When the Going Gets Tough."

Alas, while the idea of Jack and Joan tramping through the desert, rescuing a jewel from an evil dictator, sounds good on paper, the execution is way off. I don't think Joan would abandon her career to write a biography of some foreign ruler many people probably haven't heard of. The idea of the jewel being a holy man is just plain dumb. It would have made more sense for it to be a real jewel they could have split with Ralph and the tribe. That a lot of it comes off as a rehash of Romancing the Stone, to the point of making Joan a butt monkey again, doesn't help. (Sadly, the woman who wrote Romancing the Stone died in a tragic car crash shortly after this movie went into production.)

Though the movie was actually one of the bigger financial hits of 1985, it was lambasted by critics then and now...and yeah, they're mostly right. An interesting premise and the leads' excellent chemistry is wasted by lazy writing and a plot that's too often a repeat of the first film. Only of interest to major fans of the cast, the first film, or desert adventures.

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