Pete’s Dragon

I had to drag myself over to work.  I hated going over there on a Monday.  I returned home and watched “Pete’s Dragon,” not the 1970s movie that I barely remember, but the movie I kept seeing advertised last year.  The dragon had fur instead of scales, so that it looked like it came out of “Monsters, Inc.”  The movie had elements of “The Wild Child,” “E.T.,” and “The Iron Giant.”  Pete is the survivor of a car accident, and he has lived in the forest with the help of the dragon he names Elliott.  I thought that after six years, he would be incredibly dirty and smell awful.  Bryce Dallas Howard is Grace, a forest ranger who tries to help Pete after her daughter Natalie discovers him hiding and climbing trees.  Grace seemed a lot like Jessica Chastain.  Karl Urban, who is Doctor McCoy in the recent Star Trek movies, is a man who stumbles upon the dragon and sets out to hunt it and get rich from it in a King Kong way.  Robert Redford is now old enough to play slightly crazy old men.  He is known as the only person who has seen the dragon up until these recent events.  There are environmental and animal rights issues running underneath this story, so I saw this role for Robert Redford as a variation of things he did going back to “Jeremiah Johnson.”  Some bits don’t make too much sense, like how the school bus driver could continue driving, oblivious to what the children were seeing.  The dragon sure had a keen eye for people and their trucks, and he seemed nearly intelligent to read books for himself.  I saw that the Disney tradition of having the kids take action is still intact with this story.  It was remarkably easy for them to handle the chains that bound the dragon.  There was a touchy moment when the dragon finally does breathe fire.  He almost kills people.  This being a Disney movie, you would expect the dragon to be slit open and killed like the slimy creature at the beginning of “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.”  I don’t think the Disney people would allow Pete to live out the rest of his life in the forest, rather like the kids in “Captain Fantastic.”  I kept wondering about what the vocabulary of this kid would be at five years old, and how he could comprehend people six years later.  I read that the story was supposed to take place in 1977 and 1983.  I think that would explain the absence of cell phones and even CD players.  Natalie was listening to a record, and Pete touched the record as it was spinning.  One odd little detail is Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” on the radio.  I couldn’t think of any radio station in the world that was playing Leonard Cohen in 1983, and it was curious that a young girl like Natalie was listening to it.  I thought that Bryce Dallas Howard was likable in her role, even though Grace wasn’t the most fascinating character.  She was sentimental about her compass, tried to do good deeds with preserving nature, and had instant maternal feelings towards Pete.  I didn’t think there was much suspense over whether she was going to hand the kid over to Social Services.  Robert Redford left the audience with a better feeling than he did with “All is Lost” or “A Walk in the Woods.”  I couldn’t help thinking that this movie was another walk in the woods for him.  As far as your family movies go, “Pete’s Dragon” was an alternative to the very noisy entertainment kids get.  It was a variation on the movies about a boy and his dog.  Maybe a lot of people would prefer seeing “My Dog Skip,” but this movie was rather a pleasant surprise.  I went out browsing in the record store, and looking through the bargain bins, I saw a CD copy of “The Partridge Family Album” for three dollars, so I bought it.  One of my favorite songs on it is “Brand New Me,” because it brings back memories of that skunk episode and those times when I watched the show with my brother.  I heard a lot on the news about Giants ticket prices dropping because of their poor season.  These radio and TV reporters were late in telling us this, because it was a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday.  We were told that some tickets were going for $6, and the box office was selling standing room tickets for $9.  I should have been cleaning my apartment, but I spent too much time working on the puzzles in the newspaper.  The Sudoku puzzle was easy, even if I hadn’t done one in a while.  I got stuck on the Jumble puzzle for a while with “ARUBUE.”  I had to work on a separate piece of paper to discover that it was “BUREAU.”  The Challenger was a square made up of sixteen little squares with four of them with given numbers between one and nine, and the rows, columns, and diagonals were supposed to have designated sums.  The challenge time was 8 minutes and 37 seconds, but I didn’t know how to approach it.  I used math to help me.  I wrote down ten equations with twelve variables and used a 10 by 13 matrix and found the reduced row echelon form.  It didn’t give me the answer, but I found that variables 1 and 9, 3 and 11, and 8 and 12 had to be equal.  I was wasting an amazing amount of time on this question, but eventually I did come up with the solution.  Some of the people who died on June 27 include Albert R. Broccoli (1996), Jack Lemmon (2001), John Entwistle (2002), Shelby Foote (2005), Gale Storm (2009), Bobby Womack (2014), and Alvin Toffler (2016).  Today is a birthday for Tobey Maguire (42), J.J. Abrams (51), Isabelle Adjani (62), and Vera Wang (68).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for June 27, “Destination Moon” was released in 1950.  In 1959, “West Side Story” closed on Broadway after 732 performances.  In 1968, Elvis Presley taped his NBC television special.  In 1984, the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios in England burned to the ground towards the end of the filming of Ridley Scott’s “Legend,” although it would be rebuilt and reopened in January 1985, in time for the filming of “A View to a Kill.”  In 1987, Whitney Houston’s second album, “Whitney,” featuring “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” and “So Emotional,” became the first album by a woman to enter the Billboard album chart at Number One.  In 1989, The Who performed their rock opera “Tommy” in its entirety for the first time in 17 years at Radio City Music Hall in New York.  In 2002, John Entwistle died of a heart attack induced by cocaine in Room 658 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

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