Monday, July 09, 2018

Waiting for the Sister Upstairs

It was so nice in my apartment when I woke up this morning, I decided it was the perfect day to make Ally's "Snappy" Ginger Snaps from The Beanie Baby Handbook. It's a hearty, simple drop cookie recipe that doesn't require much in the way of time or ingredients and uses oil in place of butter or shortening. (I might use less oil next time. The batter is fairly oily, and the cookies taste a bit oily as well.)

Listened to Follies while I baked. My favorite Stephan Sondheim musical is an original story about two couples, one rich and living in Manhattan, one middle-class and living in Phoenix, at a party for former performers in the Weisman Follies. Delicate Sally still has feelings for dashing diplomat Ben. Frigid Phyllis wishes Ben would pay more attention to her than to his work. Buddy does love Sally, but he also has a girl he's seeing on the side. While they try to figure everything out, the other guests recreate their old Follies routines. Passions ultimately explode into a real Follies show, complete with showgirls and boys in tuxes with canes. All the while, ghosts of the past wander through, visually commenting on the action.

I listened to the 1971 original cast with Dorothy Collins as Sally, Gene Nelson as Buddy, John McMartin as Ben, Alexis Smith as Phyllis, and Yvonne DiCarlo as Carlotta, who performs my favorite song from this, "I'm Still Here." I generally prefer my more complete Paper Mill Playhouse recording from 1998, but there's some good performances here, too. DiCarlo's "I'm Still Here" is fun, and Collins knocks "Losing My Mind" out of the park.

Headed out to work as soon as the cookies were out of the oven and I'd gotten organized. It was pretty quiet for most of the day. I helped with the carts once, for about 40 minutes early on. Spent most of the rest of the day doing returns, gathering baskets, and cleaning the bathrooms. I did end up spending part of the last hour on the registers. I literally got thrown in mid-way through an order on one. (Thankfully, it was a short express order.)

Worked on writing when I got home. Leia's not happy when Luke tells her he's going to talk to Yoda Chiang in San Francisco. He appeases her somewhat by revealing that he's a foremost expert on the Jedi and Alderaanian culture and that he's hoping to get him to join the expedition.

My writing session ended early when Rose arrived with the new air conditioner. It took us a while to adjust, thanks to the older windows in this house, but it is in. It looks a lot like the one that originally came with the house, only with more buttons. It shuts off when it's cool enough, and you can program when it turns on. I'll figure that part out tomorrow.

Miss Willa gave me another letter today. Once again, she mentioned the rent (even though I paid it on the 4th of July). She did mention having talked to Rose...but also said that she didn't believe Rose when she said I was just walking up here and that footfalls are magnified. I can't help it if Charlie goes to bed early and I stay up late. I try not to make a lot of noise. I've already moved my nightly chats into the living room because he complained when I did them in the bedroom. I really have no idea what these people want. And why didn't Charlie come to me directly, instead of to his mother?

I gave Rose the letter even before we finished with the air conditioner. She isn't thrilled, either. She said she's going to do some research and talk to Miss Willa in a few days, and that I'm to avoid talking to her or Charlie before then. Fine by me. That's pretty much what I have been doing. The only member of that family I would prefer to discuss anything with is Richard, who is the only one who has always been helpful, shown up when he said he would, and has never given me any problems.

Gave up on writing after Rose left and moved on to leftovers for dinner and Lego Clone Wars. Picked up another piece on "Innocents of Ryloth," then returned to the Separtist ship to work on the Bounty Hunter mini games. Buying Bail Organa opens up the last mini-round. I had no more luck finding him than Anakin. Even three minutes isn't long enough to get through that "Hostage Crisis" round.

Finished the night with Quest for Camelot. Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig) is the daughter of a knight of Camelot who was killed by the exiled Ruber (Gary Oldman) while defending King Arthur (Pierce Bronsonan). Kayley dreams of becoming a knight who is as brave and valliant as her father was. She gets her chance when Ruber attacks her family, and she learns that the sword Excaliber was lost in the Forbidden Forest. Fleeing into the Forest, she meets Garrett (Cary Elwes), a blind youth who lives by his wits, and Devon (Eric Idle) and Cornwall (Don Rickles), a two-headed dragon who really wish they weren't so stuck together. This strange group must find the sword and get it to Camelot, before Ruber and his army of half-metal, half-human henchmen (and odd ax hench-chicken) take over the land.

This is another troubled production that took several wrong turns on the way to the theater. It was originally began as a more serious Arthurian tale, based after the book The King's Damosel. The tale of a young woman who fights an evil lord and an ogre to save King Arthur might have made for an interesting fantasy film...if, like every other animation studio in Hollywood in the late 90's, Warners Feature Animation wasn't so darn determined to imitate Disney. Rickles and Idle are funny enough, but their characters are mostly unnecessary. Bladebeak the ax-chicken is even more annoying. (Him being played by Jaleel White in Urkel mode did not help.) Kayley is bland and forgettable, the knights even more so. Gary Oldman's Ruber seems to have walked in from another movie entirely, in both design and acting.

Like Paint Your Wagon, the movie has no idea what it wants to be. Kayley and Garrett are playing Beauty and the Beast, the dragons fall somewhere between Timon and Pumbaa and the gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Gary Oldman thinks he's in Air Force One. It does have a genuinely good soundtrack, including the Oscar-nominated "The Prayer" and the top-10 hit "Looking Through Your Eyes," but the numbers are undercut by poor placement (the lullaby "The Prayer" is set during an action scene) or an overabundance of gags (which makes a hash of "Looking Through Your Eyes").

This was Warners' first actual feature film that didn't involve the Looney Tunes...and they really just tried too hard to make something that was "in" at the time. That said, a lot of people who grew up in the late 90's-early 2000's, especially young women, seem to have fond memories of this one. I actually went to see it in the theater shortly after it came out...and was very disappointed. Of the many movies I saw in the theater in the 90's and early 2000's, this is one of only two I flat-out did not like. (Batman & Robin was the other.)

Nowadays, I'm afraid my opinion largely remains the same. Unless you have girls who are really, really big fantasy or Disney fans, I say look up the soundtrack online and skip the rest.

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