Monday, January 01, 2018

May the New Year Be With You

Began a bitterly cold first day of 2018 with New Year's stories and poems from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. My favorite was the very first story in the book, about a group of kids who get their small New Hampshire town together to gather firewood for an elderly couple, then ring the bells on New Year's night for the man when he's unable to.

Also did two American Girl stories. Changes for Addy is set during Christmas and New Year's in 1865, several months after the end of the Civil War. Addy's delighted to finally find her beloved aunt and baby sister after they escaped to freedom in Philadelphia. But freedom has a high cost, and that includes losing loved ones. Addy's upset that she'll never have her full family together in freedom, but when she's asked to read the Emancipation Proclamation in front of her church on New Year's Eve, she realizes that her family is still with her, even if only in spirit.

Really Truly Ruthie moves across the Ohio Valley to Cincinatti in 1932. Ruthie Smithens is Kit Kitteridge's frilly best friend who loves fantasy and fairy tales. When she realizes that her father's bank may foreclose on the Kitteredge's house after Christmas instead of after New Year's Day, she becomes determined to go to Kit's Aunt Millie in Kentucky and get the money herself!

Ran one last New Year's episode during breakfast. "New Year's Eve - 1960" starts out fairly well for Laverne & Shirley. Things quickly unravel at Shirley's party when Laverne's date dumps her for his old girlfriend and Shirley gets a cold. At the very least, they're able to watch Lenny drop Squiggy down their apartment building, instead of the ball.

Did a quick animated short while chopping ham, potatoes, and onions and shredding cheese for Crock Pot Ham & Potatoes. Mickey Mouse gets Minnie's shindig hopping in the black-and-white tale "The Whoopee Party." His shindig gets so wild, even the furniture joins in the fun.

Spent an hour and a half writing. They finally pull around back of the tall, black Gothic-esque Crooked Castle. As they're trying to figure out how to get in, they're attacked by troll sentries. Well, all but BB. She finds another way inside...

Broke for lunch at 12:30. Did a few cartoons that spoofed the original Star Wars trilogy while I ate and got ready for work. Plucky Duck is "A Quack In the Quarks" in the first season of Tiny Toon Adventures. He brags about his non-existent physical and mental prowess to two "foreign exchange" students. They turn out to be aliens from Planet X who duck-nap Plucky to save them from the evil Duck Vader. Buster, Babs, and Hampton go after him.

If you think a duck Luke Skywalker is strange, how about a penguin? Tuxedo Sam takes the Luke role in "Cat Wars" from Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater. He's supposed to get Princess Hello Kitty and their seal and bunny droids home to Catern, but a blast from Darth Catnip throws them off-course. It'll take some help from wise Grandpa Catnobi to set them back on the right track.

Dad drove me to work at quarter after 1. It was too cold to ride the bike. I wish I'd stayed home. Work was, once again, a pain in the rear. I stayed outside doing carts for two and a half hours, on a windy day where the temperatures didn't even make it into the 20's. Granted, it was crazy-busy when I came in, but that only lasted for about an hour or so. By 4 PM, we were dead, and only became steady later in the evening. I still stayed outside. I never did get to the four overflowing carts of returns, but I did do the outside trash, the inside trash, gathered baskets, and I wound up back outside again anyway when the other bagger went on break.

Put on an episode of Fairie Tale Theatre while eating my delicious Ham and Potatoes, with Caesar salad with home-made dressing for dessert. I managed to find half-price Christmas Yorks at work for dessert, then made a Sweet Vanilla Cake from a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding, and the rest of the bottle of sparkling grape juice from last night. "The Dancing Princesses" was the series' final episode. Leslie Ann Warren is the eldest of six sisters who manage to wear out their dancing slippers every night, despite their father (Roy Dotrice) locking them in. A soldier is determined to find out their secret and win one of their hands in the bargain, with the help of an old lady and her invisibility cloak.

Finished the night after my shower with more Star Wars. Return of the Jedi picks up a couple of months after Empire. Luke, Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca rescue Han from the nasty gangster Jabba the Hutt, only to learn that the Empire is building another Death Star. Luke has one last confrontation  with Vader and his boss Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDermid) while Han, Chewie, and Leia enlist Wicket (Warrick Davis) and the bear-like Ewoks to help them, and Lando Calarissian and Wedge Antilles (Dennis Lawson) lead the Rebel fleet to take out the Death Star.

The Force Awakens begins over 30 years later. The First Order has now taken over the galaxy, lead by nasty Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his mysterious apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) has been seeking Luke Skywalker for the now-General Leia Organa. He gives his adorable droid BB-8 part of the map and manages to get him off before he's captured by Ren. The hotshot pilot is rescued by a runaway stormtrooper he dubs Finn (John Boyega). Meanwhile, BB-8 encounters hopeful scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) on the desert planet of Jakku. She, BB-8, and Finn end up taking off in the Millennium Falcon when they learn that the First Order is on their tail, only to run right into its former owners, Han Solo and Chewbacca. They make it to Takadana, where Maz Kantana (Lupita Nyong'o) tells Rey she's the inheritor of Luke Skywalker's sword...and the Jedi destiny. Meanwhile, hot-tempered and spoiled Ren has connections to Han and Leia that prove to have heartbreaking consequences for all involved.

While I'm not as fond of these as I am of Empire, they do have their moments. Jedi starts off well with the hilarious and action-packed opening in Jabba's palace. I like the Ewoks, too. I think they're a lot of fun to watch. And that intense duel between Vader and Luke in the finale almost manages to top the one in Bespin. But it's too long, the second longest of the series after Last Jedi, with too much dry exposition and slow pacing.

The Force Awakens benefits from fine performances from Boyega, Ridley, Driver, and Harrison Ford (looking happier than he has in years) and far better pacing. Other characters, like Poe and General Hux (Denhall Gleeson), are underused and under-written, and there's no escaping that feeling that you've seen a lot of this before.

Once again, not my favorite entries, but fun for casual viewers and necessary for fans.

Here's hoping your beginning of 2018 went a lot better than mine did!

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