Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Winds of Adventure

Began the day with breakfast and a little Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Dan, Katerina, and Elania take "A Trip to the Crayon Factory" with Daniel's dad to see how crayons are made. Poor O the Owl has a bad cold and can't join them. Daniel suggests that his father take pictures, so O can still see the factory.

Work was a bit of a pain in the rear today. We didn't have enough help to handle even what little business there was. The woman behind the customer service counter went home sick, and a manager took her place...and that computer just plain didn't schedule enough help. I was stuck in a register for over an hour before they finally sent me back out to do carts.

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. While it was gale-force windy, it was also sunny and not nearly as cold as it's supposed to get later in the week. It was only around 2 at that point. There wasn't much traffic, not even near the mall entrance. The wind whipped across the stark black trees and the dried golden reeds along the road on the hill into Oaklyn. Oaklyn too was quiet. Most people were probably still at work or school at that point.

Spent the next few hours dusting the living area and making popcorn for a snack while watching the rest of Daniel Tiger. Dan is disappointed when he's assigned to be the one who gathers lunches, rather than the line leader, in "Line Leader Daniel." He realizes just how important everyone's jobs are when he forgets to bring the kids their lunch boxes and they complain about being hungry.

The kids also learn how to deal with disappointment in "The Class Votes." Teacher Harriet lets them choose whether they want a rabbit or a turtle as their class pet. Daniel and Elania are upset when they're voted down, but Teacher Harriet encourages them to find something good in the other choice.

"O Builds a Tower" using all the blocks at school. He's frustrated when it doesn't stay up, but Teacher Harriet and Daniel tells him to keep trying. He gets the inspiration he needs from a book to try again...and make his tower much sturdier.

Teacher Harriet brings the kids something special for playtime...a cardboard box. She lets them "Play Pretend" and imagine it as anything they want it to be. O only sees it as a box...until he's finally encouraged to use his own imagination.

Prince Tuesday takes the class on a "Safety Patrol" to learn about the traffic signs in the neighborhood. The kids find out what the "Stop" sign and traffic signals mean, and why it's important to obey traffic laws to keep us safe. ("Be a Vegetable Taster!" was also included in this set, but I've done that one before.)

Worked on writing for a while after the cartoons ended. Started Robin Hood today. Han is the famous outlaw, who here meets up with a moor named Chewbacca in Jerusalem when he's thrown into his cell. They trick the guards into thinking Chewbacca is hurting Han, then escape when they open the cell door.

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Had leftovers while watching Ready Player One. This is technically another teen dark future story, this time with a twist. In 2045, most people spend their lives escaping into an Internet role-playing game called The Oasis. It was developed by the owners of Gregarious Games, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg). When Halliday dies, he sets up a contest to find an "Easter egg" in the Oasis in the form of three keys. The people who find the keys will get his fortune and control of the Oasis. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is hoping that the money will get him out of "the Stacks," the stacked pile of metal that most people live in, and away from his aunt (Susan Lynch) and her abusive boyfriend (Ralph Ineson).

Wade's not the only one after the egg, both in and out of the Oasis. Innovative Online Industries is the number two Internet company in the world. Its CEO, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), wants control of the entire gaming industry, and will do anything to get that Easter egg, including using slave labor to attack Wade's avatar Parzival and his friends Aech (Lena Waithe) and Art3ms (Olivia Cooke). The latter is the head of a rebellion that wants to stop Sorrento from taking over the Oasis. It'll take finally emerging into the real world, and Wade's discovery of the importance of real-life connection, to give him the strength to push past Sorrento and find what Halladay was hiding.

I've been running into some incredibly strange movies lately. I'm going to add that I've never read the book this is based on; supposedly, there were a lot of changes from the source material. Most of the performances are all right. I especially like Waithe as the player who looks the least like her avatar, and Pegg as Morrow, who signed away his friendship, then stuck around after his friend's death to oversee his legacy. There were some amazing special effects, especially in "The Oasis." You will never see the Iron Giant fighting Mechagodzilla ever again (except in fanfiction).

I do wish the movie's Aesop about living in the real world and how we can only rely on escapism for so long before we have to make actual connections hadn't been so heavy-handed. It's forced across with all the subtlety of the aforementioned Mechagodzilla. This is also another in the long line of teen "dark futures" novels, and while it has a better pedigree than most (Steven Spielburg directed this), it's still dark and filled with some rather bland characters (both on and offline). Plus, if you don't recognize a lot of the pop culture the movie refers to, you may be even more lost than I was at times.

Recommended for young teens who love dark young adult sci-fi and major pop culture or Spielburg nuts.

Finished the night on YouTube with the first of several Robin Hood movies I'm hoping to watch for inspiration this week. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. made his version of Robin Hood in 1922...and it's huge. Everything about it is huge. The castles and forests are huge (and reportedly cost 1 million to build). The literal cast of thousands is huge. It ended up being a huge hit, too, one of the biggest hits of 1922. Honestly, I think it's a little too huge. It spends over an hour on Robin in the Crusades with King Richard (Wallace Beery) and his courting Maid Marion (Enid Bennett) before they even get to Sherwood Forest. In fact, there isn't a lot of the traditional robbing antics at all. As awesome as those massive sets are, they overwhelm a story that really feels a little too big at times. Not one of my favorite Fairbanks swashbucklers - he did better when he got more involved in the action later in the 20's.

Robin Hood (1922 silent) 

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