Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Little Bit of Rain

Began the morning with a phone call. Rose got back to me after I called her last night. Evidently, she'd talked to Charlie in addition to Willa and had known about the porch being remodeled. She'd also gotten an earful of Charlie's complaints about me making noise in the apartment, specifically at 7:15 AM. (Um...I'm usually reading or sleeping at 7:15. If I move, it's to use the bathroom. Besides, that's not that early. And I still don't know why Charlie won't talk to me directly about this, instead of my sister or his mother.)

She had news from the Cape May side of the family, and not good news, either. Dad-Bill is dying of cancer. They give him two to three months to live, and his cheating on his diet isn't helping. He didn't sound good when I called him on Father's Day. She's talking about going down to Erma for the weekend. If I go with them, I'll likely have to take a two buses and a train home. I doubt I'll be able to stay down there all weekend.

I called PSE&G after I got off with Rose. Turns out there was already a electricity account set up for my apartment, and had been since July 12th. That's just wonderful. I love how I'm always the last one to find out anything. Willa said in her note that I had to set up the account.

After I finished with the phone, I switched to breakfast, some online research, and The Breadwinner. Parvana is an 11-year-old girl living in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban in 2001. She's horrified when her disabled father is arrested unfairly by a young Taliban member right before her eyes. There's no other man in her family who can earn money, and under Taliban rule, women aren't allowed out on their own. She cuts her hair and dresses as a boy to earn money for the family and to pay for the bribe to get her father out of jail. She finally makes headway when she starts reading letters for an illiterate member of the Taliban whose wife was killed. She and her fellow girl who also dresses as a boy are taking increasingly dangerous jobs to make money, which frightens her mother. Her mother finally agrees to marry her daughter off to a second cousin, but has second thoughts when the man turns out to be abusive. Meanwhile, the war against Afghanistan has begun. Pavara is frightened that her father will be killed with other prisoners who are too weak to fight. She's scared, but the story about a young boy who saves his village's seeds from the Elephant King gives her courage and hope.

Sad, touching tale of a girl's determination to help her family during a terrible time in recent history. This actually reminds me of the story of an Islamic-American girl I began right after 9/11 as therapy, but never finished. I love how the story-within-the-story is incorporated, first just as a way for Pavara to distract her little brother, but eventually as a way to give her and her family hope and courage.

A deserved Oscar-nominee for Best Animated Picture this year, this is absolutely worth seeking out if you can find it and have any interest in 21st century history, Islamic culture, or storytelling.

I went to work during a heavy rain shower. Thankfully, it didn't last, but it did return off and on all day. Good thing it was even quieter today than it was yesterday. I rounded up recycling, gathered carts and baskets, hung a small box of gift carts, and shelved loose items. The off-and-on rain continued throughout the afternoon. It did get heavy, but it never lasted for more than a few minutes at the most.

The sun came out briefly as I was on my way home. Once again, it didn't last, but it did wait to cloud up again until I'd long changed and gotten on the computer for some writing. They land at a small air field just outside of Bespin, a resort town in the French Riviera. Harry's dapper buddy Laurence "Larry" Carlyle goes from seeming a bit hostile to being too friendly in 0 seconds flat. Leia's hackles are raised, especially after Clarence goes missing...

(I did my best to ignore Charlie downstairs. He was screaming curses at the top of his lungs at one of the dogs again. He hasn't done that in months.)

Did an episode of Rick Steves' Europe on the French Riviera while eating dinner and doing more research on work-at-home opportunities. Bespin is supposed to be a small glamorous resort town between Nice and Cannes. I was originally going to set it in Paris, but I thought the laid-back glitter of the Mediterranean would suit this story's Lando Calarissian character better. In addition to being the home of Europe's favorite place for sun, sand, and surf, it's also a popular spot for modern artists like Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso who came in the early and mid-20th century for the light and stayed for the laid-back, hedonistic lifestyle, for car-race and film enthusiasts, and for jet-setters to see and be seen.

Ended the night with last year's version of Murder on the Orient Express. Inspector Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) finds himself on the famous train bound for London. He's hoping for a rest, but he gets anything but when American businessman Edward Rachett (Johnny Depp) tries to hire him, and is then found dead the next day in his compartment. Chatty Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pffifer) claims that there was a man in her apartment; her being stabbed (not fatally) seems to back up this claim. The inspector is up to his little gray cells in suspects, including British governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley), black medical man Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odam Jr,), the dead man's secretary Hector McQueen (Josh Gad), shy Hispanic missionary Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz), the dead man's valet (Derek Jacobi), and a Russian princess (Dame Judi Dench). Turns out that they all may have a motive when Poirot learns that Ratchett was once the criminal mastermind behind a kidnapping caper that left the victim, her parents, and a nursemaid dead. Poirot will have to do everything he can to solve this case before the Orient Express is dug out of deep snows.

There's a lot more violence in this version of the story, from a couple of shootings to Count Rudolph Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin) starting a heavy fist-fight in the beginning and Mrs. Hubbard being stabbed. Several characters are combined (such as the dated Colonel Arbuthnot and the old doctor) or have their nationalities changed (Cruz's character was originally Scandinavian). Branagh makes an excellent Poirot, though, with Pfiffer, Gad, and Odam Jr. also standing out in the all-star cast. The film is just as classy as its predecessor, with some truly stunning sets and costumes. (Though I still can't figure out why they felt the need to move the denouement outside. I guess they thought audiences would need a change of scenery by then.)

Fans of the 30's, Agatha Christie's novels, old-fashioned mysteries, or all-star movies will want to ignore the mixed reviews from late last fall and check this one out.

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