Monday, November 12, 2018

Little Tigers and Strong Young Ladies

Began a sunny morning with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood as I ate breakfast. Think Mister Rogers' Neighborhood crossed with the current version of Muppet Babies and you're not far off. The Daniel here is the son of the original Daniel, who lives with his mother, dad, and baby sister Margaret in a little grass hut just outside of The Land of Make Believe. He's friends with the children and relatives of the original members of the Land of Make Believe, and the show is about their adventures as they grow and learn.

The first two episodes revolved around snow days. Daniel and Miss Elania (daughter of Lady Elaine) want to make a snow astronaut on "A Snowy Day." Daniel refuses to put on his hat and coat in favor of his astronaut helmet. He gets so cold, he finally decides that astronauts need to be warm, too.

"Daniel's Winter Adventure" takes him, his father, and his friend Prince Wednesday (younger son of King Friday) to a snowy hill, and then ice skating. Dan and Wednesday are scared of the big hill and of skating at first. Daniel Sr. suggests they take it a little at a time. They both gradually get used to both the sledding and the falling down when they learn to skate.

The reason I rented this one was for "Neighborhood Nutcracker" to kick off my holiday season. The "try new things" theme is repeated here. I can certainly relate to poor O the Owl (nephew of X the Owl) when he's nervous about the big crowd in the Enchanted Garden. Big crowds sometimes make me nervous as well. Even after O gets used to the noise, Daniel is asked to step in for Wednesday as the Nutcracker in the ballet because his friend got a cold. He's understandably scared at first, but Katerina Kittycat and her mother Henrietta Pussycat (who are Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy) help him with the steps.

I can also relate to "Baking Mistakes." I've made quite a few of my own over the years! Baker Aker, Dan, and Wednesday make trolley-shaped sugar cookies. They each make mistakes, but figure out ways to fix them.

This was too cute for words. The Flash designs of the characters are adorable, and the stories are simple but fun. There's also the "Neighborhood" segment, where Daniel shows real-life kids taking part in the activities depicted in the episode. (Loved the older brother teaching his younger brother to ice skate. That was so sweet.)

While I did enjoy it, it's probably too cutesy for anyone who isn't a fan of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, are in the toddler-pre-school age range, or are the parents of toddlers. If you're like me and have fond memories of the original show, it's worth checking out. I'm guessing it's pretty popular. It's currently in the midst of it's fourth season on PBS, and the Haddon Township Library has at least 15 episode collections. I liked the show enough to want to take out a few more of those the next time I have the chance.

Headed out to work shortly after the cartoons ended. I was tossed in the register almost as soon as I arrived. There had been another call-out. One of my first customers was an older woman who kept fussing about double-bagging in plastic because she was walking...but she threw a cloth bag at me, too. She was such a grouch! I didn't double-bag one bag because it was light and could be carried easily, and she just growled at me. I ended up in tears, though I composed myself quick enough after she left. The other customers after her were super-sweet. One very old lady gave me a hug. I had no trouble after that.

Thankfully, I was only in the register an hour this time. I spent the majority of the rest of the day outside, gathering carts, doing outside trash and recycling, and sweeping up debris on the patio. I also cleaned up two broken jar messes. One was in the soda and chips aisle. Someone must have knocked over a jar of onion dip. Yuck, that was messy! Good thing onion dip is too gloppy to go far. The other was outside. An old man's bag broke, and a jar of artichokes broke. There was so little liquid in that small jar, I just had to clean up the glass and the artichokes.

There was a package waiting for me when I got home. I finally broke down and ordered those record needles from Amazon. I got two this time, so I wouldn't suddenly have to go around searching for them the next time one breaks. It took me a few minutes to finally slide in, but it's up and running again.

I listened to Merry Christmas Songs as my first holiday album of the year while I got organized. This is a somewhat older collection of Disney holiday tunes. It's mostly instrumentals and chorus numbers this time, but we do have an unusual version of "From All Of Us to All Of You" where Willie the Giant gets a solo on a third chorus. (We also have more of that squeaky mouse choir. I know Disney likes mice, but they sound more like Chip and Dale on helium than Mickey.)

Did a little bit of writing next. Anakin grudgingly allows Luke to have all of Christmas Day off. As he points out, the only other financial business open will be the First Order Savings and Loan, and even they won't be open all day. He also doesn't want to incur the wrath of Mara, Luke's very opinionated wife. Unlike Leia, he did approve of Luke's marriage to Mara, the ward of his late partner Sheev Marley...until they refused Marley's money and Mara revealed that she's not a fan of her father-in-law.

Put on my first Thanksgiving special of the season while making Wonderful Tuna Salad (tuna salad with crushed pineapple and celery) for dinner. Garfield's Thanksgiving doesn't start out well. First Liz the Veterinarian puts him on a diet, then Jon invites her for dinner! Jon wouldn't know how to cook a turkey if one bit him in the rear. Good thing Grandma from the Christmas special knows what to do.

Finished the night after a shower with A Wrinkle In Time. Meg Murray (Storm Reid) feels like a misfit. She doesn't fit in at school. Popular girls bully her, and her principal (Andre Holland) wonders why she's lashing out and isn't trying harder. Meg's reacting badly to the disappearance of her father, renowned astrophysicist Dr. Alex Murray (Chris Pine) four years before. She is close with her mother, Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and her gifted little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Her family is visited one night by chatty, white-clad Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), whom Charles Wallace seems to be friendly with. They meet up with a boy in Meg's class, Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller), before encountering Mrs. Whatsit again. She introduces them to two more witches, ever-quoting Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and the magnificent, towering Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). The witches claim they can find Meg and Charles Wallace's father, who is being held prisoner on a planet under the sway of an evil black force known only as "It." When Charles Wallace falls under the spell of this terrible being, Meg is the only one who can release him...and prove that love of all kinds is really the most powerful force in the universe.

On one hand, I can see what director Ava DuVerney was aiming for. This is a lovely girl-power tale, with Reid particularly strong as Meg. The cast is wonderfully diverse, something you don't often see in a family film of this stripe, and the special effects are just incredible. Check out the scene where Mrs. Whatsit reveals her true form. No wonder the kids are amazed.

She may have tried too hard. The movie feels preachy and a bit pushy. The "be yourself" and "love conquers all" morals are hammered home with all the force of the negative light of Camazotz. They also cut a few points from the book, likely for time, including the other two Murray boys and the sequence with Aunt Beast after Meg left Camazotz with her dad. Maybe this story really is better suited to the page, where you can use your own imagination to create what the witches, "It," and the Tesseract look like.

If you have older elementary school or middle school girls who have read the book, they may find more in this one than I did. For everyone else, I'd recommend a rental for the special effects and cast alone.

Clouds began rolling in as early as my rounding up carts at work. It did wait to start raining until I was eating dinner and watching Garfield. I hope it doesn't last all day again. I want to hit the libraries tomorrow afternoon.

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