Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, November 24, 2017

Weird Wednesday

I've blogged before how hitting that deer with my car almost-5 years ago has made me kind of jumpy when it comes to winter driving.  So, needless to say, when I woke up on Wednesday morning to all kinds of traffic reports telling me that a slight skiff of snow in the night had made the roads extra-slippery and that everyone needed to be super, super cautious when on the roads, I was thinking twice about heading into Edmonton that day.  But, with my week-long vacation still going on, I'd set aside Wednesday to do more Christmas shopping.  I knew if I did what the guy on the radio was telling me, I could be extra cautious and still make it in. 

And I did!

I made my way down to West Edmonton Mall, and I always forget how wonderfully quiet West Edmonton Mall is on a weekday morning.  You don't get swallowed up by any crowds.  You've got lots of space to move and breath.  Store are wonderfully quiet, so you're not struggling to get a clerk's attention.  But, sometimes, the quiet can make the clerks a little stir-crazy.

As I discovered when I went into the Disney Store.  A blog entry or two ago, I blogged about some new Disney Store exclusive Star Wars action figures and though, "Eff it, I'll get 'em."  I was also browsing through their Christmas tree ornaments.  When I was a kid, we had this Bambi Christmas tree ornament on the tree.  It was Bambi wearing a little Santa toque, and darn it, I was feeling nostalgic for it.  So I was hoping to find a Bambi Christmas tree ornament. 

And that's when the clerk came up to me.  She was carrying around a Duchess plushie.  (Duchess is the cat from The Aristocats, for those who don't know their Disney lore.)  Now, it's not like she was stocking shelves and just carrying it over to the plushie section.  She was lugging this around and manipulating it like a puppet.  Duchess was her helper for today.  As I explained what I was looking for, she was nodding, and Duchess was nodding, and when we couldn't find any Bambi-related Christmas tree ornaments, both she and Duchess were heartbroken.  They were heartbroken in that way you act heartbroken to a five-year old as they tell you about some great injustice that happened to them on the playground.  The whole exchange was somewhat surreal.  But what you can do?  It's Disney.  No doubt, Disney Store clerks are true fans, and true fans of anything always have their own brand of crazy. 

Then I got a massage from one of those mall kiosks that specializes in such things.  The social custom when it comes to those mall kiosks is as long as you don't make eye contact, you can make it out OK.  But this clerk was so weirdly aggressive.  There I was, just walking down the mall, when this woman jumps in front of me and goes, "YOU!" 

I stop in my tracks.  "Um...yes?"

She points to the massage chair.  "SIT!" 

"Ooookay...."  I sit down.

"$10 for 5 minutes.  Is that OK?"

"Um...yeah?  I guess?" 

And I got a five minutes massage.  Followed by a 10 minute sales pitch for all the various personal massagers that I could take home with me.  All the while, I'm being as polite as possible just to get the hell out of there.  Eventually, after I said "No" enough times, I was allowed to leave. 

But it wasn't all stir-crazy clerks as I tried to get some Christmas shopping done.  Part of the reason why I was so determined to go on Wednesday because it happened to be the opening day for Coco, the latest animated offering from Pixar.  I loves me some Pixar, so I had to check it out.

Coco Poster

It seems like we've been waiting for this one for a long time, as Pixar originally announced it at the start of the decade in the same news conference where they announced Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur.  There was a fear there that it had been cancelled because it looked awfully similar to the 2014 animated film The Book of Life, but other than both film drawing their inspiration for the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead, they are two very different films. 

Young Miguel loves music.  He craves to be a musician.  He feels a certain kinship with Ernesto de la Cruz, one of the greatest musicians in all of Mexico, who just happens to hail from Miguel's hometown.  But there's one big roadblock to Miguel's aspirations.  Many years ago, Miguel's great great grandfather walked out on his great great grandmother to pursue his musical ambitions.  Because of that, to this very day, Miguel's family has banned all music from their home. 

Undeterred, Miguel decides to enter his towns Day of the Dead music festival.  But in order to enter, he swipes a guitar from de la Cruz's tomb.  Stealing an offering for the dead on the Day of the Dead curses Miguel, and he becomes a ghost and crosses over into the Land of the Dead, where he gets to meet his deceased relatives...including his great great grandmother.  Miguel can return to the land of the living if he gets his family's blessing, but his great great grandmother will only grant her blessing on the condition that he give up his musical aspirations.  Teaming up with a man named Hector, who becomes his guide through the Land of the Dead, Miguel goes on a quest to find his great great grandfather, perhaps the only one who'll give Miguel his blessing with no strings attached. 

We've got all the Pixar hallmarks here.  The animation is beautiful.  In a film where music plays such a prominent role, the music is amazing.  And there's a lot of raw emotion revolving around the theme of family.  That being said, I've probably seen one too many of these films, as I know the formula by heart and could see every shocking plot twist coming from a mile away.  But a formulaic plot can be forgiven when everything else is just so good.  3.5 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

Olaf's Frozen Adventure Poster

And, as has become the Disney and Pixar tradition, it opens with an animated short film.  We're keeping the Frozen franchise alive with Olaf's Frozen Adventure.  Now, this originally began life as a Frozen Christmas special for TV, but Disney thought it was so good they thought they'd release it in theatres.  And that explains why this short film is 20 minutes long...about twice the length of an average short.  (And also why there's a little, "Please stick around for Coco!  We worked really hard on this!" featurette between Olaf's Frozen Adventure and Coco.)

Anyway, it's Anna and Elsa's first Christmas since Frozen.  Anna and Elsa are lamenting that, because of Elsa's very sheltered upbringing, they don't have any family traditions at Christmas time.  Wanting to cheer up the two special ladies in his life, Olaf heads out into the kingdom to find out what various family traditions the people of Arendelle have, and bring them back to the castle. 

And all I can say is...meh.  Even at 20 minutes, you can feel the padding.  It's just an excuse from some new Frozen songs and to push some new merch, until we finally get Frozen 2 in 2019. 

That pretty much wrapped up my Wednesday in the city.  I think I can also safely say I followed through on my goal to get my Christmas shopping done this week, so I'll be relatively relaxed this December.  All I had to do was make the drive home.  And I did.  Yay! 

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