Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spring Cleaning Mysteries

It was cloudy and a bit cool when I got up this morning. Ran more Be Cool, Scooby Doo while I ate breakfast and got organized to cheer things up a bit. The gang is "Eating Crow" when they find themselves on a farm that's being terrorized by a moving scarecrow. Fred's attempts to show off for a pretty farmer's daughter, Velma's hay fever, and Daphne's obsession with finding a pet of her own distract them from finding clues. Good thing Shaggy and Scooby are paying attention to the behavior of Beth's father and their neighbor...

Headed out to do the laundry around 11:30. I probably should have left the load in the dryer longer - I was doing towels and a bath mat this week, along with the usual clothes - but I didn't have the money. I had to get quarters off a man there when my dollar bill was too crinkly for the change machines.

As soon as I got home, I put everything away, then headed back out. I wanted to go for a walk, hit the Oaklyn Library, and have lunch. The first part went very well. It sprinkled slightly while I was in the laundromat, but by quarter after 1, the sun was trying to come out. The tulips and daffodils are gone now, replaced by irises, azaleas, and lilacs. Their heady scents perfumed the air as I strolled down Manor, kicking up constant tumbleweeds of fuzzy seed pods from the trees.

The Oaklyn Library was closed when I arrived. Turns out they closed at 11:30 for some senior luncheon. Darn it! I strolled down to WaWa to buy a hoagie for lunch instead. Took my turkey and Swiss sandwich and bottle of lime Bubbly sparkling water to the picnic tables on West Clinton Avenue, where I enjoyed my lunch while enjoying the warmer, windy weather. (And this is the first time I've seen Bubbly in bottles. The Acme only has the cases of cans. It's not bad. The lime flavor comes across pretty well, anyway.)

Spent the next few hours after I got home dusting the living and dining area. Twice a year, in May before Lauren visits and late November before Christmas, I remove everything in the house - books, knick-knacks, CDs, DVDs, records - and thoroughly dust under them. Thanks to my bad thumb, I couldn't move the records, but I did manage to get pretty much everything else one-handed.

Finished the remaining Be Cool, Scooby Doo first season episodes as I worked. "I Scooby Dooby Do" has the gang taking part in the wedding of two friends of theirs. The groom is nervous about the legend of a bride who lost her groom on a cliff. The bride is superstitious about everything that might go wrong. The mothers hate each other. Shaggy's trying to figure out what he's supposed to say for his best man speech. Tomboy Velma hates the ridiculous Disney Princess bridesmaid gowns they're wearing for the ceremony. Shaggy's the one who eventually figures out how to bring the lovers together after the Ghost Bride destroys the wedding and nearly tears them apart.

The gang have their own Coco-esque encounter with the Mexican holiday The Day of the Dead in "El Bandito." The title character is the ghost of a legendary local bandit who supposedly left behind a fortune in gold. While Fred tries to become a legend in his own right, Daphne attempts to communicate with a long-dead relative, and Shaggy and Scooby freak out over there being a holiday celebrating skeletons and the dead.

They enter "In the Mouth of Madcap" while babysitting at a local amusement park. Daphne tries to focus on getting quiet Wayne to enjoy himself, something Shaggy and Scooby have no trouble doing. Fred would rather investigate the rumors of a killer clown operating out of a dilapidated fun house. Velma still has the same problems with clowns that came up in an episode of What's New, Scooby Doo? and tries her best to avoid the mystery.

Mystery Inc is off on a camping trip in "The Norse Case Scenario." Their trip is disrupted by the ghosts of vikings whose remains were found in the area. Fred and the others investigate as Daphne tries to prove her outdoor skills to get her own make-believe nature badge and keep them all out of "forest jail."

"Norse Case Scenario" isn't the last time the group is threatened with prison. The season finale "The People Vs Fred Jones" has Fred on trial for supposedly being the Toxic Mutant, a creature who roams a town that was abandoned in the 50's after it was flooded by sludge from a local factory. The district attorney is determined to prove that Fred is guilty. Too determined, if you ask Fred's lawyer Daphne, who got her "law degree" on a video game. That DA is definitely hiding something...

On one hand, some individual episodes were really interesting. "Norse Case Scenario" and "People Vs. Fred Jones" points out that a lot of the kids' breaking and entering would likely get them jail time in real-life, something fans have called the show on for years. "Sorcerer Snacks Scare" briefly revives the idea of bribing Scooby and Shaggy with Scooby Snacks...and points out how annoying the constant bribery got after a while in the original series. (Despite Fred saying they had something there, they never do it again after that episode.) My favorite episode was "I Scooby Dooby Do," which was surprisingly touching and sweet. And there's some interesting callbacks to other Scooby series, such as Velma's fear of clowns and some of the designs of the monsters resembling earlier shows.

While the show does follow the spirit of the better Scooby entries, it still has problems with tone. It's the opposite of Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated, which tried way too hard to be dark and edgy. This one is trying way too hard to be snarky and goofy, like a kid-oriented version of Family Guy and The Simpsons. Neither tone really suits this franchise. I can kind of understand why it barely made two seasons. They do get Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby right, but Fred comes off as obnoxious and Daphne as much too silly.

If you're already a fan of the Scooby franchise, Be Cool is worth checking out. Younger kids and newcomers will want to try the original Scooby Doo, Where are You? or What's New, Scooby Doo? before they get anywhere near here.

Worked on writing for a few hours after I finished dusting the living room. Sir Wedge Antilles and his fellow guards lead Ahsoka, Leia, and the others to the palatial home of Counselor Mon Mothma. Wedge and his men were once the queen's personal guards, but when she died, Palpatine reassigned them elsewhere. Despite the town being in mourning for the lost royal Solo family, the activities of the Mid-Summer Festival are going to continue...including those revolving around the Great Confluence...

Moved onto Badlands while making tacos and steamed asparagus for dinner. Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) is a 15-year-old in a small South Dakota town in 1959 who is tired of her dead-end life and her estranged relationship with her crusty father (Warren Oates). She finds excitement and acceptance when she falls for Kit (Martin Sheen), a young garbage man who is ten years her senior and as charismatic as her favorite actor James Dean. Her father disapproves of her running around with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks...and after Kit learns that the man killed her dog, he shoots him. They burn the house down and go on the run. Their tree house home in Montana provides Holly with a relationship to nature she's never known before, but it ends when they're discovered by bounty hunters, whom Kit kills. A visit with a friend of Kit's named Cato (Ramon Bieri) also ends with Cato and two others dead. The duo take off across Montana, stopping at a rich man's home to gather supplies and steal the man's car. Holly is not only tired of being on the run by this point, she's starting to realize that she no longer has the same feelings about Kit that she once did. He's looking less exciting and more like a sociopath. She wants to give up...but he's ready to keep running for that ever-distant mountain somewhere.

I think I ended up enjoying this one a lot more than Bonnie and Clyde, and not because it's a tad less blood-soaked. There's a gentle, gritty realism to this film that the slicker, slightly more glamorous 60's movie lacks. It was director Terrence Malick's first movie, and he hit it out of the park. The cinematography is beautiful, highlighting the contrast between the spectacle of nature and the down-home darkness of the troubled lovers. Sheen and Spacek have a wonderfully odd tenderness about them that makes it all the harder when their relationship begins to deteriorate towards the end.

This wasn't a hit with audiences or critics when it came out in 1973. Most critics have warmed up to it since then, with many calling it a masterpiece. If you love crime movies, Malick's work, or Sheen and Spacek, the Criterion DVD is absolutely worth looking around for.

Ended my night on a much lighter note with Hot Shots! Part Deux. This one goes for parodying the Rambo movies and other bloody action films of the 80's and early 90's. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is called back into action when several platoons of men go missing in the Persian Gulf, including his old sergeant (Richard Crenna). He finds himself pulled back into the war, and into a relationship with Ramada (Valeria Gollino) who left him after the first movie, despite her being married to a prisoner of war (Rowan Atkinson). Their group has to rescue the hostages and find out who's behind the sabotage on the first missions.

I actually like this one much better than the first movie. The gags are even funnier, and Lloyd Bridges has more fun as the now-President Tug Benson, continuing with his "lost a body part in every major war" gags from the first movie. Some of the cracks at the ridiculously bloody war movies of the 80's are especially funny. (And I loved Sheen family reference to Apocalypse Now.) If you liked the first one, you may enjoy this one even more.

No comments: