Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Cold Day In Autumn

Awoke to an absolutely gorgeous - if rather chilly - fall morning. Ran an episode of The Monkees while eating corn meal mush and red grapes for a nice, warming breakfast. The early first season show "Monkee See, Monkee Die" has the boys heading to a spooky mansion to gain their inheritance from a late millionaire. Davy falls for the girl who inherits the mansion itself, to the disgust of the millionaire's other hangers-on. The hangers-on seem to vanish overnight after they're all stranded on the island...but the boys know there's something else going on here..

It was 11:30 before I finally made it out to the laundromat to get this week's load done. Good thing I didn't have a big one. It was fairly busy today, with a couple of other people getting comforters clean for the winter. I worked on story notes and half-listened to The View and Action News.

Went home, put everything away, had a really quick lunch, then went back out. I enjoyed my ride down the White Horse Pike and Cuthbert to the Westmont Plaza. I'm so glad I have the next two days off. It suddenly feels like fall, all blue and gold and sunny, barely in the 60's. While we've had too dry of a fall for the leaves to be beautiful, I'll take what I can get.

Stopped at Dollar Tree first. I needed sponges, which is pretty much one of the few things I buy from there anymore. There's now places around here where you can get nicer stuff that's almost as cheap, but sponges are still a good price, and they don't need to be fancy. Surprisingly for quarter of 2, they weren't busy at all. I was in and out. Everyone must be enjoying the weather. (I also noticed that the door to the former Thriftway was open. Looks like they're starting to work on the interior of the new Target.)

The Haddon Township Library was even less busy. It was too nice of a day to be hanging around libraries. There were no audio books or CDs or new releases to shelve, and barely any DVDs. I organized the adult DVD titles, pulled TV sets and put them where they belong, and pulled out hold items for one of the librarians.

Opted to rent lighter fare than I have been lately. They don't have Mission Impossible 3, so I went with the next one after that, Ghost Protocol. Never did get around to seeing the Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when it came out. While I've heard good and bad things about it, I did hear that this one is closer to the book (which I also enjoy). Since the next story I have planned after Summer Strikes Back is a Beauty and the Beast/Frog Prince fusion, I thought I'd try the teen Beauty story Beastly. The also had another movie in the Peter Lorre Mr. Moto series, Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation.

Made a quick stop at WaWa on the way home. I wanted a snack and to pick up orange juice for a cake I was going to bake later. Grabbed a soft pretzel and was glad to see that they still had Crystal Pepsi. I haven't run into that anywhere else besides WaWa and a few times at work.

Worked on writing for a few hours after I got home. Vader finally presents Luke to Palpatine aboard  his luxury yacht The Death Star. Here, Palpatine is a slick corporate monster in an expensive summer suit, offering Luke champagne and a chance to join the Imperial Gang. He rejects both, at least until Palpatine starts gloating about how he's sent some of the Imperials to burn the Marine Adventure Pier down, and have others stationed on the back deck of the yacht to shoot out his friends on the water. After that announcement, Luke tries to jump on him, but Vader grabs him back.

The folks on the water aren't doing much better. The Ghost and the Falcon are about to turn around and chase Palpatine's yacht when gunfire opens over their vehicles. Everyone hits the deck in a hurry. While Kanan angrily reminds the men that there's young teens on his boat, Lance and Wedge make their own plans for retaliation.

Had the last of of the chicken casserole for dinner, then made Zesty Cranberry Cake. This is what I bought that orange juice for. One of the lighter and simpler cakes in The Cake Doctor cookbook adds canned cranberry into a regular cake batter in lieu of oil or butter, with a little leftover for a cranberry glaze. I had a can of jellied cranberry sauce that was about to expire, so I thought I'd try it. Oh yum, it came out very well. A little too sweet, but not bad...though oddly, not as much cranberry flavor as I thought, with the sauce. Maybe next time, I'll use Cranberry Flummery instead.

Ran Mission: Impossible 2 while I ate and baked. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on vacation when he's called into work by his new boss (Anthony Hopkins). He's sent out to find a deadly virus that could destroy the world if it falls into the wrong hands. Rogue agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) forced a Russian chemist (Rade Sherbedgia) to create a biological weapon that would cause a pandemic...and create desperate need for the cure, which only Ambrose's company can provide. With the help of Ambrose's thief girlfriend Nyah (Thandie Newton), Ethan and his team (Ving Rhames and John Poison) have to break into the lab and steal the samples that could save the world. But when Ambrose figures out and injects it into Nyah, it may take all of Ethan's cunning - and spy gadgets - to save her, before the virus in her gets out of hand.

In some ways, I enjoyed this one more than the previous movie. First of all, the cast is mostly an improvement, including Newton as a far more interesting and proactive heroine. The story is a tad darker and a lot more involving. It's not just Hunt and the Impossible agents' necks on the line this time. It's the whole world. Charming Scott makes for a wonderfully nasty villain, too.

The success of The Matrix the year before is definitely felt here. The wild, colorful slow-mo stunts and action sequences felt innovative and daring at the turn of the 21st Century. Now, they just look dated. Some of them still work, though, especially towards the beginning, when they're initially stealing the samples.

This was a huge hit in 2000, in fact the top hit of that year, over even Oscar-winner Gladiator.  Despite the slightly dated feel, it's hard to disagree. If you enjoyed the first movie, the rest of the series, or Tom Cruise's other action films, you'll want to give this one a look, too.

Finished the night online while watching Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. Daffy's set to inherit the full estate of an eccentric millionaire - as long as he can provide a service to the community. Fed up with the ghost of the rich geezer taking his money with him, Daffy starts a paranormal elimination services to get rid of all ghost. He hires Porky and Bugs to help him out...but with possessed duck dames, haunted houses, and elephants in birdbaths as clients, Daffy may not stay in business long enough to keep his benefactor from laughing all the way to the bank.

The last of the Looney Tunes "movies" of the 70's and 80's that were mostly collections of bits and pieces of other shorts. This one does have some new material, including the Exorcist riff "The Duxorcist" and the opening with Daffy singing to a crowd of Universal's finest, "Night of the Living Duck." (Incidentally, this would be Mel Blanc's last time voicing the Looney Tunes. He died less than a year after this movie was released.)

This is my personal favorite of the Looney Tunes movies along with The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, and frankly a far more interesting celebration of Termite Terrace's occasional ventures into the macabre than Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special. If you're a fan of Daffy and can get past how different the voices are in the old and new shorts, you'll have a lot of fun with this.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Return of the Fall

Began a wonderfully cool morning with a quick breakfast before finally dusting the living area. I put it off last month to work on writing, but I just couldn't ignore it anymore. It was really bad, especially around where the records, record player, and CDs are.

Did a few horror-themed sitcom and dramady episodes while I worked. "I See England, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld" from the fifth season of Moonlighting starts with Maddie, David, and Agnes discovering a man who has died in their office. The next day, another fellow claims his late friend had the other half of a lottery ticket worth millions. Hoping to cash in, Dave takes Maddie around town to find the ticket. But someone else is after the ticket, too...and it turns out that this corpse had a lot more up his sleeve than winning the lottery. While the duo dig in a cemetery and dodge the creeps who are after this very popular corpse, they argue over death and the possibility of there being something on "the other side."  

"Weekend Vampire," from the first season of Get Smart, is only slightly less spooky. Someone's been killing Control agents during weekend shifts, leaving puncture marks like vampire teeth in their victim's necks. Max and 99 head to a creepy old manor disguised as newlyweds to investigate a former Control scientist who was fired for his unauthorized experiments.

Headed off to work shortly after Get Smart ended. It was on and off busy...but when it was on, the lines snaked around the store. We simply weren't prepared for how popular this 4-day sale was. While I did manage to clean the bathrooms and gather trash, recycling, and baskets, I mostly got stuck in the registers again. At least by this point, the sun had finally emerged and the clouds were gone. It wasn't warmer, but at least it wasn't damp and blahh anymore.

Worked on writing as soon as I got home. Hank leads Jyn, Leia, Cassian, and Bodhi back onto the pier to keep an eye out for trouble. Jyn sniffs out gasoline that isn't powering a ride, leading them to the Imperials attempting to set the pier's top roller coaster, the Kamakazi Star, on fire. They try to stop them, but there's too many there, and they're simply overpowered. 

Did two Scooby Doo, Where are You? episodes while eating roasted Brussels sprouts and the last of the shrimp for dinner and making Cranberry Flummery for dessert. It's a "Hassle at the Castle" when the kids are stranded on a deserted island. They end up in a creepy castle haunted by a ghost that can walk through walls! "What a Knight for a Knight" is the pilot episode. The gang runs around a museum at night, trying to figure out why the Black Knight armor is moving, and what happened to the man who originally brought it to the US.

Ended the night after a shower with The French Connection. Detectives Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy "Cloudy" Russo (Roy Schinder), members of New York City's narcotics squad, are after a charismatic French smuggler (Fernando Rey) who has brought millions of dollars of heroin into the US via his friend Henri Bordeaux (Frederique De Pascale), who has no idea what's going on. Popeye and Cloudy follow the Frenchman's trail from fashionable New York clubs to the elevated subways to grimy warehouses in Brooklyn, hoping to shut down the trail from its source. But this is one crafty Frenchman, and it'll take all of Popeye's determination and resources to track him down and dodge his hitman (Marcel Bozzuffi). 

I'm not normally the biggest fan of cops and robbers tales, but this thriller about a devoted cop and the crafty criminal he chases is really enjoyable, sagging only in the middle when exposition takes over. No wonder this won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1971. (Hackman, director William Friedkin, and the screenplay also won.) Hackman owns the role of the cop who will take down this drug ring, no matter what; Rey is also excellent as the charismatic French drug dealer. This also features one of the most famous and well-directed car chase scenes in cinema history under New York's elevated railway. Awesome cinematography shows off New York and Marseilles in all their early 70's grittiness.

If you're a fan of Hackman or love police procedurals, thrillers, or true-crime tales, this is a classic cop story absolutely worth checking out. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday In Camden County

Began a quick morning with Molasses Pancakes and two Peter Pan children's records. We had the Hansel & Gretel/Thumbelina/Blinky album as kids in the 80's. The first two are fairly accurate condensed versions of the fairy tales. The third is the sweet story of a little lighthouse ship who thinks he has no friends, until there's a huge storm, and the boats need his beam more than ever.

For some reason, the copy I picked up at a yard sale also has a Peter Pan Bugs Bunny disc. Bugs attempts to fix Porky's TV in the first story. The second has Bugs be the first rabbit on the moon. In the final segment, Bugs takes over Elmer's concert in a short riff on "Baton Bunny."

Headed to work after Bugs ended. I wish I didn't. We were even more mobbed than yesterday. There was no Eagles game for people to rush home to. They played (very well) on Thursday night. The only things I managed to finish today were mopping the bathrooms and shelving some perishable items. I was either stuck in a register, or outside trying to round up carts that were mostly inside holding groceries. The continuing blahh, damp, cloudy weather didn't help.

Went straight on the computer for a writing session when I got in. Hank, Leia, and everyone from the Cottages has lined up for the Boat Pageant. The Ghost, with a Return of the Jedi theme (besides the obvious reference, it was the blockbuster movie of the summer of '83), and the Falcon, made over into a pirate ship, are among the major entries. But the others are more interested in keeping an eye on the tropical-themed entry from Empire Industries, a sleek silver yacht called the Death Star...

I was so worn out when I finished, I was barely up to leftovers and my cast album for the 1944 musical Bloomer Girl. Though this isn't well-known today, I've sort of gotten a soft spot for it over the years, thanks to its fun cast recording. Celeste Holm is Evelina, the fictional niece of real-life suffragette and abolitionist Dolly Bloomer, has fallen in love with a handsome slave owner. She won't marry him until he frees his slave (Dooley Wilson). Their romance is further complicated by the start of the Civil War and by Evelina having taken up wearing her aunt's comfortable creation, bloomers.

Although the ballad "Right as the Rain" was the hit at the time, my favorite numbers are for dancer Joan McCracken ("T'Morra, T'Morra," "I Was Never Born"), Celeste Holm and the chorus ("It Was Good Enough for Grandma," and Dooley Wilson as the slave who knows he has the same rights to freedom as anyone else ("The Eagle and Me"). Considering that the show's racial and gender underpinnings are even stronger nowadays, this might actually be ripe for a revival, even just off-Broadway. (There's apparently an hour-long TV version with Barbara Cook as Evelina. I may have to look that up sometime.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Two-Time Galaxy Savers

Started off a gloomy and humid day with Tiny Toon Adventures while I ate breakfast. It's a "Hare-Raising Night" when Buster's ordered by Bugs to rescue animals from an insane mad scientist doing weird genetic experiments. He tells Babs, Hampton, and Plucky that they're going to the Emmys in order to convince them to help. Plucky's ready for his close-up...and the mad scientist is ready to use him for his next Franken-critter. One of those creatures, a monster named Melvin, gets a big crush on Babs, who isn't as amused.

I was going to go to the Collingswood Farm Market, but I finally decided that any fruit and vegetables I didn't already have, I could get at the Acme. I wanted to save my money this week for the Voorhees Library Book Sale starting Wednesday. Besides, my current story is three-fourths done. I'm hoping to finish it some time this week.

While preparing the Falcon for the Boat Pageant at Brentwood Marina, Lance and his Mexican friend Nino get a frantic phone call from Hank. Luke is missing. He told Leia he was going after Vader. Lance and Nino catch Vader shoving Luke below decks in Palpatine's luxury yacht. They call Hank, then say they'll follow them and keep on eye on them from the water during the Pageant.

It was quarter after 12 before I finally broke for lunch! Had just enough time for a Three Stooges short while I ate and got ready for work. Curly finds out he stands to inherit millions in "If a Body Meets a Body." His rich uncle may have left dough to all his family members, including him. Larry and Moe want to make sure he (and they) get his share. Trouble is, his uncle was murdered...and they have to spend the night in his spooky mansion!

Work was crazy-busy all afternoon, with the longest lines I've seen in weeks. I'm guessing it's because of that big four-day sale. The weather certainly wasn't encouraging. It was cool, damp, cloudy, and windy when I arrived. The sun threatened to break out once, and it started to get hot, but the clouds just rolled back in. Maybe it's just as well that we had a ton of help, enough that I only had to do the carts twice briefly. I mopped the bathrooms, then spent most of the day gathering baskets, bagging, and doing returns.

Had a few more things to pick up before I headed home. Took advantage of that 4-day sale to grab red grapes and a pint of Haagen-Daz ice cream. (I've never seen tangerine-vanilla-shortbread ice cream before.) Also got a green pepper, fresh cranberries (which I haven't seen at the farm market yet), and corn meal, the one thing I forgot yesterday.

Did a couple of mildly horror-themed episodes of the late 80's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while getting organized and eating leftovers for dinner. April becomes "The Catwoman of Channel Six" after she accidentally switches her matter with a cat, thanks to Shredder's matter transmitter ray. The Turtles have to find the cat to switch her back...and avoid her when she's under Shredder's control. The "it" in "It Came From Beneath the Sewers" is an alien plant from the Technodrome that was accidentally enlarged. Shredder and Krang enlarge it further into a giant mutant plant, sending it after the Turtles.

Ended the night online while watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The Guardians, lead by Peter "Star Lord" Quill (Chris Pratt) are supposed to be guarding valuable batteries for the Sovereigns, a race of beings that prefer creating their people in pods to birthing them...and, as Rocket (Bradley Cooper) points out, are really vain and snotty. They want Gamora's (Zoe Saldana) sister Nebula (Karen Gillian), who stole batteries...and aren't terribly happy when Rocket steals some, too. They're saved from their wrath by Ego (Kurt Russell), an alien being who claims to be Quill's real father. He's actually a living planet, raising a bug-like girl called Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and hoping to find his son. Also showing up is the blue-skinned alien who actually raised Quill, Yondu (Michael Rooker), after rescuing Rocket and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) from the Sovereigns. Gamora's more interested in tearing her wayward sister to shreds...until the duo discover the secret behind what Ego really wants with his son's powers.

 I really love this series. I think this has become my favorite Marvel sub-series along with Captain America. It's definitely Marvel's most unique series. While a little darker than the first one, with all the talk of the family who raised you vs the family you have, it's still pretty light-hearted for the Marvel Universe. Of the newcomers, sweet Mantis and her relationship with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), was my favorite. Liked Yondu, too. And Baby Groot and his dancing is just on a whole other level of cuteness.

If you loved the first one, you'll enjoy this just as much...but yeah, please see the first one if you haven't yet for this to make any sense.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fantastic Beasts on Friday the 13th

While it was cloudy and humid when I awoke late this morning, it was also much cooler, in the mid-60's. Celebrated an October Friday the 13th with more Scooby Doo, Where are You? Ran "Which Witch is Which?" from the first season during breakfast. This time, Mystery Inc is lost in a spooky swamp after a fishing trip. An encounter with a zombie and a frog hunter who claims a witch is casting voodoo spells makes them think there's more to this than old bayou legends.

Headed out around quarter of 12 for this week's grocery run. They weren't too busy when I arrived, which was a good thing. I had a fairly big order. Found shrimp and breaded crab cakes with managers coupons. Fished a small pack of really nice mechanical pencils out of the bins of leftover back-to-school supplies on the clearance racks. Took advantage of sales to restock soup (cream of chicken and two Progresso), chocolate chips, cereal (got Multi-Grain Cheerios for $1.88), yogurt, cooking oil (I like Crisco's Blend), eggs (the 18-count pack was on a good four-day sale), canned chicken, skim milk, powdered sugar, pads, another Last Jedi bag (this one representing BB-8), and more of those biscuit sandwiches (this time in Cocoa Almond Butter).

Since I was there, I picked my schedule. It's the best I've had in weeks, if not months. More hours, and good ones, with two morning days this time. Having Tuesday and Wednesday off will allow me to get to the Voorhees Library Book Sale, which is starting on Wednesday this year.

Rushed home, put everything away, grabbed the DVDs that needed to be returned to the Oaklyn Library, and rushed back out. The Oaklyn Library was closing at 2, and I got in there at around 1:20. While the librarians cooed over the very cute baby daughter of a regular patron, I took a quick look at the DVDs. Checked out Mission: Impossible 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

As I road up Atlantic, I discovered that yes, the train bridge was now closed. Turned off to the White Horse Pike and went around it, crossing a now-empty entrance to Nicholson Road. The traffic wasn't too bad at this point, a little busy but nothing out of line with quarter of 2 on a Friday.

Since I was going past it on the White Horse Pike anyway, I stopped at the Legacy Diner for lunch. Their counter was still filled with people getting a slice of cheesecake or a second cup of coffee, but the main room wasn't bad. I had a tasty "Hercules" omelet with feta cheese, tomatoes, spinach, and shaved beef made for gyros, dry hash browns, and whole wheat toast that was charred around the edges while half-listening to The Chew and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Took the back way out of the Legacy's parking lot and onto Audubon's side roads. Atlantic Avenue goes under the difficult-to-cross King's Highway and right to Barrington. There were a few collectibles stores I wanted to check out there, starting with that movie book and posters store I ran into at the Collingswood Book Festival last week. They were, of course, across the busy Chews Landing Road from where most everything else in town is. I had to park my bike at a rack and hurry over. Turns out that while they were filled to the brim with bric-a-brac, there were far more posters than anything else. I did see a few shelves of books and three boxes of records, but I decided to wait on the Library Book Sale for those and moved on.

I hadn't visited the Barrington Antique Center in ages. This is a barn of a collectibles store that functions as a warehouse for many small, local antique sellers. Along with the usual piles of records, vintage magazines, clothes, books, and toys, there were tons of vintage holiday items on display, from delicate 50's and 60's-era ornaments to giant plastic snowmen and witches.

Along with the usual array of Fisher Price toys and older cookbooks and magazines, I found several American Girls. A naked Kirsten and Kit lay in a pile in one room with a dressed Samantha and Addy. I think the doll was Kit, anyway. At any rate, she was a recent doll. Her pale blond hair was silky and smooth, but chopped unevenly. Kirsten's dark-blond hair actually looked rather cute shoulder-length and was less uneven than Kit's. However, it was also very dry, and she had wobbly legs. It's likely she's one of the older Pleasant Company dolls.

Unfortunately, at 48 dollars each, they were still too expensive for me to consider, especially with the hair cuts. I may go back and get Kirsten in a few months if I have the money and she's still there. Ended up getting some cute vintage Halloween cardboard decorations for a dollar each instead.

Took the same way home that I did going to Barrington, stopping at the WaWa on the White Horse Pike for a French Vanilla Cappuccino and a White Chocolate Reeces Pumpkin for brief snack. It was a little more difficult this time. Rush hour was in full swing by the time I started back. I turned off to Oaklyn as soon as I could to dodge the traffic.

Went into writing shortly after I got in. Though Luke appreciates winning the contest and earning the money for the Cottages, what he really wants is to bring Vader home. He follows him to Palpatine's yacht at Brentwood Marina, where one of the Imperials turns him in. The young surfer tries to convince his older sibling that he can change. Vader says he's too much under his boss' thumb...but privately, he's making his own plans...

Finished the night with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them during my shrimp and ratatouille dinner. Newt Scarmander (Eddie Redmayne) is wizard who specializes in the study of magical creatures. He arrives in New York in 1926 on his way to Arizona in the hopes of writing a book on magic animals and proving that they aren't dangerous if you know how to handle them. While listening to an anti-magic crusader (Samantha Morton) talk about how terrible wizards are, one of his critters gets loose. While chasing it into a bank, he accidentally switches his suitcase filled with critters with the case of normal guy Jacob Kowalowski (Dan Fogler). Jacob has no idea what in the case and accidentally releases the animals. Newt and Jacob pair off with determined government worker (Katherine Waterson) and her Bohemian sister (Alison Sudol) to find all the animals, before the nasty Director of Magical Security (Colin Farrell) can get his hands on it. But there's something even darker lurking in the tenements of the Big Apple...and it may take all of Newt's knowledge and abilities to handle it.

Oooh, I really loved this, more than the regular Harry Potter series in some ways. First of all, the basic plot of four characters chasing magical creatures across New York is far more creative and mature than hijinks at a middle/high school. Second, the period detail here was amazing, right down to the digital recreations of the Big Apple in the Roaring 20's. The movie was deservedly Oscar-nominated for production design and won for the spot-on costuming. J.K Rowling's first shot at a screenplay wasn't bad, either. I loved learning more about how different the wizard world was in the US than in England.

My favorite character actually ended up being the sweet, befuddled Jacob. Poor guy was an ordinary slob who just wanted to bake pastries and get out of bad job. For all that, and considering he's the one who caused the trouble in the first place, he actually handled the whole magic thing pretty well. Fogler gave him the right note of wide-eyed confusion. Wish the villains had been handled as well. Farrell was a tad bland as the head bad guy.

This will mean more if you're a Harry Potter fan, but even if you're not, it still works very well as a stand-alone story. If you love period fantasy or tales of the mid-20th century, you'll find a lot to enjoy here.

And after it was cloudy, windy, and humid all day, it did finally rain tonight. We may be getting a little more this weekend, then it's supposed to clear out and cool off even more. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Changes In the Air

My porch was wet when I got up this morning, but it was mostly just cloudy, damp, and deliciously chilly. Started off the day with a couple of spooky shorts from Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater. "The Phantom of the Theater" has stolen Catnip's candy stash and My Melody's teddy and cut the lines to the curtains. Who's behind these strange goings-on? Catnip is the mad scientist who creates a monster (Grinder) from spare parts in "Frankencat." She's also the milk-loving "Catula," who has guzzled everything milky in Catsylvania. Kitty and their friends are sent to investigate.

Worked on my story for the rest of the morning. The Imperial Gang are out-surfed at every turn by the Rogues. One gang member shoots a rock at one of the surfers and is ejected. Another sends a toy shark out to a Rogue to scare him off his board...but the guy is a practical joker who thinks the toy Jaws is a great prank and decides to keep it.

Vader is the only Imperial who is close to a decent surfer. In fact, he's an amazing surfer, doing far more difficult moves than anyone else, even Wedge or Leia. It looks like he may win...until Luke shows what he's learned about being one with the waves from Ben and Wedge. He finally wins the contest hands down, with Vader in second, Wedge third, and Leia fourth.

Broke at 1 for lunch and to get ready for work. Finished out the Hello Kitty disc while I ate and got organized. "The Pawed Piper" are Tuxedo Sam's penguin rock band, who have been invited to Hamlin by the Mayor Catnip to get rid of the fleas plaguing the town. When Catnip refuses to pay him, he takes their children instead...but he's really just helping them. Grinder is "Rumpledogskin," the strange troll who helps Hello Kitty spin straw to gold. Kitty promises to give up her first-born child to him (My Melody), but she finds she can't do it when he actually comes.

Work was, once again, fairly quiet. Rush hour was a little busier than yesterday, thanks to the Eagles game on later that night, but there otherwise plenty of help and not much to do. Rounded up carts and baskets, helped an old lady with her 24-packs of bottled water, and did the very few returns.

I also solved a mystery. A small puddle kept forming at the door to the women's bathroom all afternoon. After cleaning it up for the second time, I followed the water from the puddle along where the tiles met the wall. Turns out one of the sinks was leaking, and the water was running down the tiles to the door. I borrowed a clean pickle bucket from the deli to stop the leak and told the managers it needed to be repaired.

Tried something different for dinner when I got home. The Mickey Mouse Cookbook has a very simple recipe for Chicken Casserole. I used canned chicken, replaced the gravy (which I don't like) with chicken stock and condensed cream of chicken soup, and added carrots and onions along with the green pepper called for. (Actually, I used red peppers. I didn't have green.) Yum. A little salty and a bit too watery, but mostly very tasty.

Ran The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween as I worked and ate. It's Halloween morning, and Sally and Nick can't decide what they're going to be for trick-or-treat. The Cat appears to take them to the Spooky-Ooky Closet to find the costumes of their dreams. On their way, they explore a spooky dark forest and cave, help Nick with his fear of Thunder and Sally's with hers of noisy old houses, get lost in a corn maze, and discover that everyone is afraid of something...even the Cat.

Did more horror-themed Dr. Seuss as I cleaned up from dinner. Halloween Is Grinch Night is the second of three specials featuring Seuss' most famous grump. When a sour-sweet wind sends the Grinch a-prowlin' on Mount Crumpet, one small Who boy takes it on himself to make sure that the green menace never makes it to town.

Switched on the Eagles-Panthers game as soon as I got out of the shower. What a game! The Panthers got ahead in the first half, but the Eagles came back in a big way in the second. They finally out-ran them 28-23.

And two more important announcements. First of all, there was a message on my phone when I got home stating that the train bridge from Oaklyn into Audubon will be closing for 14 months to be replaced. Now I know why they only fixed the Oaklyn side. They were planning on tearing out the Audubon side all together. This means I'll have to cross Nicholson at the hill on Atlantic instead of taking the bridge, or will have to cross at the White Horse Pike. And no long rides home from work on Nicholson for a while.

Second, the closed Thriftway in Westmont is finally getting a tenant - a small Target! Considering how popular the small-format Wal Mart is in Audubon, I really have high hopes for this one. It would be awesome to have a Target of any size near-by, and across from the Haddon Township Library, to boot. Sounds like they'll be done by July of next year. Between the new Target and the Marshalls' and Ross Dress For Less in Audubon, I'll have to make far fewer trips to Cherry Hill and Moorestown to do my shopping.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Against the Wind

It was cloudy and humid, but a bit cooler, when I rolled out of bed this morning. Started my day with breakfast and an earlier Max & Ruby Halloween episode. "Max's Halloween" has him wanting to be a vampire and scare people. His sister keeps insisting he dress as her prince. "Ruby's Leaf Collection" will be the best in the class, if her brother stops burying it in his leaf pile. Ruby reads the spooky story "The Blue Tarantula" at Max's insistence, but it ends up keeping both bunnies awake.

First on the agenda today was getting the laundry done. Good thing they weren't busy. I had a huge load. Did towels along with any summer clothes I wanted to wash before I put them away. Listened to The View and Action News and worked on story notes.

As soon as I got home and got the clothes folded, I pulled out the seasonal clothes bin. Though it may briefly get back up into the 80's over the weekend, it's going to return to the 60's after that. Besides, I'm tired of waiting. While I have a lot more winter clothes than summer clothes, I do need a few things. I'd like to get a pair of jeans in a lighter blue. (I have indigo and black jeans.) I do have good winter pants, but my black winter skirt hasn't fit right in ages, and I haven't found an affordable winter dress yet. Also swapped out my woven summer purse for my leather-like winter one.

Had a quick lunch after I finished, then headed to the Haddon Township Library. Though it remained cloudy, the heavy wind felt nice and cool. We need even more rain than what we got over the weekend. The park still looks dry and brittle, though the remaining goldenrod and milkweed retain their color.

The Haddon Township Library was very quiet when I arrived. It didn't pick up until I was starting to organize children's DVDs. By the time I was shelving the stacks of adult titles, the place was as packed as a library gets. All the kids must have just gotten out of school. Dodged kids and adults looking for movies while putting new releases away.

Though I didn't get any books this week (I'm still working my way through Phasma), I did pick up a few DVDs. Enjoyed the Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That Halloween special last year enough to make it an annual tradition. Continued my exploration into the maverick filmmakers of the late 60's and early 70's with The French Connection.  Figured it was time to finally get to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (That was one of the movies I rented the week the DVD recorder died.)

Made a short stop at WaWa on my way home for a treat. They have a couple of different pumpkin spice smoothies and milkshakes this year. Tried the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Smoothie. Ooh yum, this was the best one yet! It actually tasted like a pumpkin cheesecake (even if the girl did overdo the graham cracker crumb topping).

Got home around 4:30 and went right on the computer. The surfing contest begins! The Imperials are clearly outclassed by the Rogues. Wedge manages to pull of several complex tricks before a rock shot at him knocks him off his board. The Imperial who did it is ejected, much to the disappointment of Mayor Thrawn. Meanwhile, Luke notices a huge, sleek yacht on the horizon that he doesn't recognize...

Broke at 6:30 for dinner. Had the big lemon-pepper tilapia fillet for dinner, along with Ratatouille made from a pile of older vegetables I had in my crisper. Made Coconut-Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins for dessert.

Watched Mission: Impossible while I ate and baked. Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) mission, should he choose to accept it, is to find out who framed him for the death of his team during a trip to recover a list of CIA spies. At least one member of the team, Claire (Emmanuelle Beart), survived and joins him as he gathers two former agents (Lee Rhames and Jean Reno) to find out who was the mole who sold the list to an arms dealer named "Max" (Vanessa Redgrave). Turns out she doesn't have the real list. Ethan and his group steal it from the CIA Headquarters in London, in return for the name of the real mole. Meanwhile, the head of the CIA, Kitteridge (Henry Czerny) is on his trail...and one of the members of his original group may not be as dead as he thinks they are...

Oh wow. This was much better than I thought it would be. I will point out that I've never seen either the 60's TV show that this is based on or the later films in this series, so I'm coming to this one with fresh eyes. Tom Cruise really threw himself into this role, and it's obvious he was having a lot of fun with it. I also liked Redgraves as the surprisingly tough arms dealer and Lee Rhames as one of the former agents Ethan recruits. Some spectacular action set pieces too, including the finale on a moving train. Danny Elfman's score was excellent, nicely incorporating the TV show theme.

I do wish the plot had been a little easier to follow. It was hard to tell who was backstabbing whom after a while. Not to mention, much of the hardware and special effects haven't dated all that well. (Those all-important lists are on the small floppy discs that were still common in the mid-90's.)

If you're a fan of action, Tom Cruise, or spy tales that are slightly more realistic than James Bond, this is one mission you should absolutely choose to accept.

Finished the night on YouTube. I found some utterly hilarious animated shorts that uses Nintendo characters, like Mario, Link, and Princess Peach, to parody other pop culture franchises. My favorite is the spoof of The Force Awakens. It manages not only to be one of the funniest online cartoons I've ever seen, but the scenes between the older Peach and Mario are as touching as the ones between Leia and Han in the actual movie. (If you're interested, there's also spoofs of the Original Trilogy, Ghostbusters, The Avengers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)

The Triforce Awakens Part 1
The Triforce Awakens Part 2