Saturday, January 20, 2018

Two for the Road

Began a gorgeous, sunny morning with breakfast and a round of baking. I was out of butter, so I just did my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that requires egg whites and oil. Ran Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit while I baked. England's favorite inventor and intelligent pooch are now in the pest business, using humane methods to rid local gardens of vegetable-eating rabbits. While this makes them the darlings of all the gardeners in their village, it also means they're constantly feeding a ton of hungry rabbits, not to mention dealing with Wallace's own fondness for cheese. Wallace creates a brainwashing machine to convince the bunnies to like other foods...but one bunny gets stuck in it, switching their brainwaves. Now there's a giant vegetable-eating bunny loose in the village! While Wallace courts animal loving gardener Lady Tottington, Gromit tries to figure out who this giant carrot eating menace is...and how to return it to normal.

Did a few episodes of another popular British cartoon, Danger Mouse, while pulling the cookies out of the oven and getting my grocery list organized. Considering I'd just done an Aardman cartoon, I couldn't resist a first-season short called "Chicken Run." In this case, DM and Penfold are tracking down a machine created by Dr. Squwakencluck that enlarges chickens to giant size. Baron Greenback stole the machine and has allowed giant fowl to trample all over London. "Ice Station Camel" has them heading to the North Pole, where Greenback has used the poles to stop the Earth's rotation. Our dynamic duo has to foil Greenback and figure out how to get it started again.

Headed out around 1 to run a few errands. It was too nice for the Oaklyn Library to be busy. I saw one other person there besides the library, a lady who came in to ask her to put the new Janet Evanovich book on hold for her. I organized DVDs in the adult and kids areas and shelved kids' books.

I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was this afternoon. The sun was out, the cloudless sky was a soft blue, and it was a windless lower-mid 50's. Since I was closer to Nicholson Road than the Black Horse Pike anyway, I took Nicholson Road down to the Acme, dodging the weekend traffic.

The Acme was pretty busy when I arrived, and had been all day. One of the reasons I put off doing my grocery shopping until today was the store was having an employee luncheon in the back room in honor of the Eagles championship game. The meatballs were gone by the time I got in, but I also saw stuffed peppers, sausages, potato salad, pasta and vegetable salad, taco dip, a moist chocolate cake, brownies with fudge centers, and chocolate cupcakes. I tried the stuffed peppers, pasta and potato salads, brownies, and chocolate cake. Yum. Loved everything but the potato salad, which was really rather bland.

After I ate, I went right into shopping. Acme's having one of their periodic "buck a back" produce sales. I was able to grab a container of cherry tomatoes and bags of spinach, celery, cut broccoli and cauliflower, oranges, and dried apple chips and baked peas along with my little apples and an onion. Picked up whole wheat tortillas to have tacos later in the week. Found a small container of shrimp for a good price in the seafood section. Restocked I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, mouthwash, stamps, pasta, cheese, honey, and cans of crushed pineapple, black beans, diced tomatoes, and mandarin oranges.

Did more Danger Mouse shorts as I put my groceries away and got organized. London has been infested by "A Plague of Pyramids" that threaten to sink the island. DM and Penfold head to the Sahara Desert to investigate the menace. Leaders around the world seem like they "Die Laughing" when hit by a certain bug. DM and Penfold go after Greenback's new hide out to find the source of the laughing gas, before the British Prime Minister is next.

Worked on writing for a couple of hours after I finished. Kylo Ren - aka Ben Boy Blue - orders Barnaby Snoke's arrest after he sees him attacking his mother. The deal is off. He's now the sole ruler of Toyland...or so he thinks. Santa's arrival puts a crimp in his plans, for Santa has bought the Toy Factory. Santa finally gets him to reveal the truth - Ben's family and Rey can't save him. The only one who can save Ben is Ben himself, but Ben isn't ready. He opts to return to Crooked Castle with the trolls, Hux, and Phasma.

Broke at 6:30-quarter of 7 for dinner. Sliced up the shrimp and added broccoli florets, green beans, and halved cherry tomatoes with a homemade vinaigrette. Oooh, it came out so nicely. Perfect blend of flavors.

Enjoyed my meal while watching Hold That Line. Though technically about college football, I thought it would still work pretty well with the game tomorrow. The Bowery Boys attend a prestigious college on a bet between older donors. The student body doesn't know what to make of them at first, until Sach creates a potion that gives him strength and stamina. His newfound abilities turns him into a hero on the football field...and makes him the target for gangsters who want Ivy to lose the big game against State.

Finished the night with Cars 3. Like the Toy Story films, this series acknowledges the passing of time. Doc Hudson may be gone, but Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) continues to race in the Piston circuit. After a horrific crash that sends him into seclusion, he worries that his days as a competitor may be numbered. There's a lot of newer, younger, faster cars out there, like cocky Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), who train with simulators and have never set tire on a dirt track. Encouraged by his new sponsor, millionaire Sterling (Nathan Fillion), McQueen joins a gym and even gains a personal trainer (Cristela Alonzo). He takes her to a demolition derby to get her out from behind her phone...and is surprised when she holds out long enough to win. Turns out she'd had ambitions to become a racer, but didn't have the confidence. After hearing stories about Doc from his longtime friend and crew member Smoky (Chris Cooper), McQueen not only thinks he has the right stuff to get back in the race...but to get Cruz on track, too.

Considering that the previous movie in this franchise is generally regarded as the worst Pixar's made to date, this is a considerable improvement. The story is actually quite touching, reminding me a bit of Luke and Rey's interaction in The Last Jedi.  Like that film, the plot about recapturing "Glory Days" and passing your joy onto the next generation won't be for everyone (and actually may fly over the heads of many in its target audience), but if you were a fan of the original film or want something lower-key in your animated movies, this is a really lovely tale of doing your any age.

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