Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Rain Odyssey

It was pouring when I started breakfast. Watched an episode of Good Eats to counter the gloom. "Pantry Raids III: Cool Beans" covers three basic recipes for one of the lowest-cost and most nutritional sources of protein out there. Most of them involve dried beans, though. I'm not a big fan of leaving them to soak overnight. I have tried Alton's hummus recipe several times, though, and it's excellent.

As soon as the rain stopped, I headed out. I really had to get the laundry done. Meant to do it yesterday, but ended up finishing off that story first. On the other hand, a wet, dreary day might have been the right time to do it. The laundromat was empty when I arrived. By the time it started getting busy, my clothes were in the dryer. I worked on story notes and half-listened to Rachel Ray and The View.

Rushed home and put everything away, then got organized and had lunch. It started pouring again as I put on an episode of The Backyardigans. Tyrone, Pablo, and Uniqua are Coast Guard members who want to "Save the Day." Tasha would rather they just left her alone to catch a "whopper"...even as her attempts to fish lead her into increasingly dangerous waters.

I left a little early to take advantage of the end of the rain and the arrival of a sunny sky. While this did give me the chance to pick up the shampoo I forgot on Saturday, it otherwise wasn't necessary. We were pin-drop quiet almost the entire afternoon. Even with one of the baggers going home sick, we still had plenty of help. I was outside once to do carts when the outside bagger went on break. Otherwise, I mainly did returns, gathered baskets and inside trash (and that barely needed to be done), bagged, and tried to look like I was doing something. By the time rush hour started. It only started to pick up around 4...and I was done at 5.

Did another Backyardigans episode while having an egg wrap with spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and tomatoes. "Catch That Butterfly" is the first of three episodes that have Tyrone, Pablo, and Uniqua chasing something. In this case, we have a comic romp in the old west as Professor Pablo hires stagecoach drivers Uniqua and Tyrone to take him after a rare butterfly. They're sure it'll be an easy drive...but that butterfly takes them across some rough terrain that makes even them wonder if they're up to this task.

Spent the next couple of hours playing more Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Finished out the rest of the rounds for The Phantom Menace and the first two for Attack of the Clones. I actually managed to get past the Pod Race round on the first try, something I've never done before. Didn't do as well on most of the other rounds. Found the most pieces on "Escape from Naboo" (five) and only got True Jedi on "Discovery On Kamino."

Finished out the night with the truly trippy 2001: A Space Odyssey. After a brief visit to the dawn of time as early man learns how to use bones as weapons, we make a very famous jump cut to an unspecified time in the future. The same black monolith seen by the apes turns up again, this time on the moon...but the scientists who were supposed to inspect it go missing. Months later, astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) are on their way on an expedition to Jupiter. Their ship is controlled by the computer HAL 9000 (voice of Douglas Rain). Supposedly upset over their decision to shut him down, HAL severs Poole's oxygen line and lets him drift, then won't let Bowman back in after he attempts to rescue him. Bowman has had doubts about his mission from the beginning...and they're even worse after a recording by one of those lost scientists (William Sylvester) explains about the monolith and why they're really going to Jupiter. Bowman enters a pod to figure it out...and that's when things get really weird (and colorful).

This was one of the strangest science-fiction movies I've ever seen. I didn't understand a word of what went on here. A lot of it seemed dry and dull, and it moves at a glacier pace. The scanimate colors in the finale are gorgeous to look at and technically amazing, but they go on for way too long, and I have no idea what was going on with the ending.

The amazing special effects still make this worth seeing. I can't believe how they did some of this. It still looks good to this day, even that colorful finale. You really feel like you're in outer space with Bowman and Poole. Even HAL doesn't seem that terribly dated. Hell, you really feel for that computer when he finally "dies." They even use early versions of what looks like tablets and videophones.

If you're into sci-fi films that are more science than fiction, this is one of the most influential films of all time and is pretty much a must-see.

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