Friday, November 30, 2018

Tales of Fantasy

Began a cloudy, blah morning with breakfast and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Yes, this is the original 1966 animated version of the tale of the furry green fellow who so hates how much his tiny neighbors get into the holidays, he vows to steal their Christmas goodies. It takes seeing how they react without them to make him understand that "Christmas doesn't come from a store. Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Managed to squeak in a little writing after the cartoon ended. Lando and Finn meet the elder Ben Willkins (Kenobi) on their way to Han and Leia's party and offer to walk with him. They reveal that Scrooge holds the mortgage on their tavern and has threatened to throw them out. Lando wishes Ben would talk with Anakin, but Ben's certain that his former friend can't, or won't, change.

Headed out to work just twenty minutes after I got off the computer. It wasn't bad when I got in. I gathered carts and baskets and did the inside trash. It got busier as the afternoon went on. We were really short on help! I got stuck in the register several times, including once for almost an hour. Thankfully spent the rest of the day after that doing returns and bagging.

I'm not entirely happy with my schedule next week. In good news, all morning work and three days off, including Wednesday for Amanda's visit. I'll get a lot done with the holiday cleaning and decorating. In frustrating news, even fewer hours. This is why I took this week off last year. The two weeks or so following Thanksgiving are usually quiet, and our hours get severely cut.

Even so, I did have some things I needed to buy. Ground turkey was on a good sale; bought it for dinner tonight. Restocked yogurt, apples, butter, bananas, cranberries, cereal, skim milk, peanut butter, and jam. Picked up my annual advent calendar with the chocolate in it. This year's has a group of wide-eyed children watching Santa and his reindeer ride past their window. Bought a present for my friend Amanda, who will be visiting on Wednesday.

As soon as I got home and put everything away, I started dinner. Made Cincinatti Chili from Kit's Cooking Studio. Replaced the water with home-made chicken broth and added celery with the onions. Mom always put celery in her chili when we were kids, and it adds a bit of bite to it. Oh, yum. It came out beautifully, even if I probably didn't cook it for as long as I needed to.

Ran Barbie In the Nutcracker as I worked on the chili. The very first Barbie movie once again has her opening the film with a story she's relating to her little sister. This time, she tells Kelly the tale of Clara, a young girl who is chafing at the bit to see the world with her beloved Aunt, but her grandfather thinks she's still too young. She gets more adventure than she ever dreamed when she sees mice fighting her new nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. The Mouse King (Tim Curry) shrinks her to the size of a doll to keep her from interfering. The Nutcracker insists that only the Sugar Plum Princess can restore both their forms...but the Mouse King has no desire to give up the control of his kingdom that easily and dogs them at every turn.

I first saw this years ago, but I thought it was silly and badly animated and wasn't impressed. I like it a bit more nowadays. Yes, the CGI animation looks waxy and hasn't dated well, especially the rock monster, and the ending with who the Sugar Plum  Princess turns out to be is a bit of a cop-out. I do like Clara, though, who is resourceful, brave, and good-natured, and Major Mint and Captain Candy have their funny moments in the middle half. If you remember seeing this on video or TV in the 90's and early 2000's or have a Barbie fan around, this isn't her best vehicle, but it isn't bad, and it is where the movies started.

Finished the night with another fantasy, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen. We move from the Land of Sweets to the Land of Reason. A town in the late 1700's is being attacked by the Turks. Even as they bombard them outside, a theater troupe is putting on a version of the life of famous mercenary and liar Baron Munchhausen. An old man claiming to be the real Munchhausen (John Neville) arrives half-way through, saying that his adventures were real. The town's mayor (Johnathan Pryce) is aghast. This town runs on reason and nothing but.

Balderdash, says Munchhausen. Everyone needs a little fantasy in their lives. Determined to stop the Turks, he and Sally (Sarah Polley), the daughter of the head of the theater troupe, take off in a balloon made from women's undergarments to find all of his old friends. He does manage to round up the others, after encounters with the King of the Moon (Robin Williams) and Vulcan (Oliver Reed) with an enticing Venus (Uma Thurman). Even when they do take on the Turks, Munchhausen may not survive an encounter with none other than Death himself.

This has been a favorite of mine since it first started to show up on cable in the early 90's. It may have been a pain to film, but it was worth it in the end. Neville's having a blast as the dashing, charming Baron, who may not be telling the whole truth, but sure as hell knows how to make it entertaining. If you're a fan of unique fantasies or director Terry Gilliam's other work, you'll absolutely want to take a look at this one.

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