Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Early Autumn Magic

Started out a gorgeous, sunny morning with some mildly spooky or fantasy-oriented episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Piglet is "A Knight to Remember" when he dreams that he's a mini-knight who has to fight a dragon, with the help a familiar rabbit wizard and "The Bishop of Bounce." "Rock A Bye Pooh Bear" has Piglet scared to go to sleep after a nightmare makes him believe he'll lose all his friends. The others try to prove to him that just because your dreams are scary, don't mean they'll come true. "The Monster Frankenpooh" is caught between Piglet's not-so-scary-story and Tigger's desire for something darker when their attempt at a horror tale gets out of hand.

Work was quiet for most of the morning. It's the last day of the month, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the big weekend sale ended yesterday. It did pick up later in the day, but by that time, I was almost done. My relief was right on time, and I headed out with no major problems.

When I got home, I made tilapia with leftover pasta and broccoli for dinner while watching Summer Magic. This 1963 musical details the adventures of teenager Nancy Carey (Haley Mills) and her family when they move from Boston to a small town in Maine during the late summer. Things go well at first, with the help of the town's kindly post master/general store owner Ossium Popum (Burl Ives). A snobby cousin arrives and makes a play for the handsome college student Nancy has her eye on. Even after that's settled, it turns out that the mysterious owner of the house the Careys are renting may not be so thrilled with them being there...

A sweet, if somewhat dated, nostalgic musical tale. I love the music for this gentle excursion into nostalgia, especially Ives' "On the Front Porch," Dorothy MacGuire's gentle title number with the kids, and "Femininity" with the girls. This is a lovely family tale, especially if you have girls or are a fan of other musical family stories like Meet Me In St. Louis or Summer Holiday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Boys In Stripes

Today was gloomy, cool and humid - the perfect day to sleep in. When I did get up, I ran the East Side Kids film Boys of the City as I had a quick Wheat Chex breakfast. The "boys" of the title are the East Side Kids, as Bobby Jordan, Leo and David Gorcey, and Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison make their debuts with the series. The kids are being taken to a summer camp to get them out of the country when they pick up a group of people stranded on the road. The group includes a judge who is supposed to stand trial for embezzlement. They all end up at the Judge's scary ancestral home...and when the Judge is killed, Jordan's brother (Dave O'Brian) is accused of his death. The Kids try to figure out who really killed the judge and rescue his missing ward, before they're the next victims!

I didn't get to the laundromat until around quarter of 1. Everyone must have been at lunch. The place was quiet except for one or two other people. I had no trouble getting my small load in and out while The Young and the Restless droned in the background.

I just barely had enough time to finish out Boys of the City and get started on more Bowery Boys as I folded and put away my clothes when I got home. Chuck (Leo Gorcey's younger brother David) gets a rare chance to have some importance to the plot in Jail Busters. The slender guy with the animated eyebrows has here moved up to reporter...and when he's beaten up on an undercover assignment, his pals Slip, Butch, and Sach get sent up the river to find out who blew the whistle on Chuck and what's going on.

Work was busy almost the entire evening. Not only is it almost the beginning of the month, but today was the last day of a big four-day sale. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 8 for me to leave with no relief. Mother Nature did her part. It was showering on the way home, though not heavily.

Oh, and I got the last retired outfit I wanted from Josefina's original collection from eBay. The Harvest Outfit features Josefina's only camisa (shift) with long sleeves at this writing. It's a really cute outfit, too, with nice embroidery on the yoke of the shift and a pretty, if rather thin, yellow-green skirt. Josefina's wearing the skirt with her new meet outfit shift now.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

I started a sunny, breezy morning with Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes and the soundtrack from Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure. This strange 1977 animated movie has Ann and Andy going after the new, rather bratty French doll Babette when she's kidnapped by a pirate captain. The duo encounter all sorts of strange creatures, from an old stuffed camel who was abandoned by his former owner, to a candy monster that keeps eating itself, to a pompous little king who inflates to enormous sizes when he laughs at other's misfortunes. I really prefer the sweeter songs from the early parts, including Ann and Andy's charming ballad "Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers," Ann and the toys' "I'm a Rag Dolly," and the Camel's touching "Blue," than the music from the bizarre second half. (Although like the sequence, the candy monster's song "I Never Get Enough" must be heard to be believed.)

I doubt this is on CD - the movie's not even on DVD, to my knowledge - but if the LP comes your way, it's worth a listen if you're a fan of the film or of cult animation or unusual musicals.

Work was crazy when I got in, with long lines across the store. It gradually slowed down as people headed off to barbecues and birthday parties and we got closer to 4:30, which was when the Eagles were playing the 49ers. Thankfully, there were no really major problems despite the craziness. It slowed down enough by 4:30 that I was able to hurry out without a relief.

I went straight home to listen to the game. I wasn't up to hurrying off to Dad's after the heavy crowds at work today. I had leftovers and made Carrot-Apple Muffins.

I'm glad I stayed home. The game was terrible. The Eagles' defense played great - and actually got all of the points. They just couldn't get their offense on the field, and when they did, they played badly. Despite a ton of penalties, the 49ers still went on to win 26-21.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Fair Day for Yard Sales

It was sunny and breezy, though a bit warmer than earlier in the week, when I woke up for this week's American Top 40 re-run. We jumped ahead two years to late September 1986. I would have been 7 then. While the rest of the US listened to hard rock, R&B, dance songs, and ballads, I tried to deal with my first month of second grade. Hits that early fall included "Friends and Lovers" by Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson, "Typical Male" by Tina Turner, "Throwing It All Away" by Genesis, "Words Get In the Way" by the Miami Sound Machine, "Two of Hearts" by Stacy Q, "When I Think of You" by Janet Jackson, "Dreamtime" by a solo Daryl Hall, "Don't Forget Me" by Glass Tiger, "Dancing On the Ceiling" by Lionel Richie, the remake of "Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C, and "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin from that summer's blockbuster movie, the action drama Top Gun.

One of my favorite bands of the 80s, Huey Lewis and the News, hit the #1 spot for their second of three weeks with "Stuck On You."

As I did last week, I spent most of the morning and afternoon roaming around, checking out all the fall events. I started out with a couple of yard sales. Didn't find anything in Oaklyn or on Belmont Avenue in Haddon Township, but I did make a score a few blocks away on Mansion. Two girls were selling various odds and ends. Laying in an old coffee can were three American Girl doll dresses. Two were Felicity outfits I already had. One belonged to Kirsten, the retired Swedish pioneer character; it was her summer outfit. I don't collect Kirsten's things, but I thought the Summer Dress was simple enough to work as a sundress for my modern dolls as well, and it was only a dollar.

The fall harvest was out in force at the Collingswood Farm Market. I saw the first chestnuts and large pumpkins of the year today. I dodged people buying food for fall festivals and parties and a man in lederhosen playing polka tunes near the Treehouse Cafe's booth. Picked up broccoli, apples, mushrooms, spinach, and this year's decorative squash and pumpkin. (I don't carve my pumpkin - I'd probably end up carving me! I use it for a fall decorations through Thanksgiving or until it goes bad, whichever goes first.)

I roamed around Collingswood and Westmont for the next two hours, but I didn't really have much luck. I saw the same group of AG dolls that were being sold at the Barrington Antique Store last week...for the same $100-125 dollars. I still say you could buy a doll new for that. (And by the way, Mia, Elizabeth, and Nellie are not Pleasant Company dolls. They were made years after Pleasant Company was sold to Mattel.) Found a cute pumpkin-shaped pan at a sale on Linden further along in Collingswood.

There was nothing interesting at a sale in Westmont. I did better at one in the neighborhood behind the Haddon Township Library and Haddon Township High School. I picked up a nice, really heavy plastic set of teaspoons (I bought the ones I've used for years came from a dollar store) and two records:

Herman's Hermits - On Tour

The original Broadway cast of The Boy Friend with Julie Andrews

Haddon Township had its Block Party on West Park today near the pool and recreational area. I hadn't been able to get over there in four years. I enjoyed it so much the last time I went, I thought I'd give it another try. It was twice the size it was in 2010, with far more food and craft booths, two musical groups, at least six bounce houses, a mini-Ferris Wheel and tilt-a-whirl for the kids, lots of local businesses doing advertising, and a "beer garden" in the rec area's pavilions. I had chicken tacos with tomatoes and cheese and a Black Cherry Bordeaux water ice from Primo's booth.

I rode down Park and into Collingswood, then across Newton Lake Park to the neighborhood on the other side of the lake from CVS. There were supposed to be yard sales down there, but I couldn't find them. By that point, it was past 2 PM. I was tired, sun burnt, and my knees hurt. I finally just headed home.

There was a large package waiting for me when I got in. I took advantage of a free shipping promotion to buy some smaller things I wanted for my American Girl dolls. I mainly bought Samantha's Hairstyling Set for the adorable flower-trimmed straw hat. (The silly little brush included is next to useless - barely gets through Sam's hair.) I bought the current modern Ballet Outfit set for my dancers Whitney and Molly to share because I thought it was a good price ($30) for everything it came with - a cute pink leotard with a skirt, a tutu, a pair of legwarmers, a pair of ballet slippers, two pink scrunchies and a pair of tights. I'm not a big fan of the leotard (that skirt just seems silly to me); otherwise, I really like this set. Whitney looks really cute in it. I also got myself an AG kid-sized coin purse that's been on the clearance pages for months.

Since I changed Whitney, I decided I'd change most of the other dolls into outfits appropriate for late summer - early fall. (Josefina is waiting on two outfits from eBay.) Sam wears her new Bicycling Outfit with the black boots from Rebecca's School Outfit and the Hairstyling Set straw hat. Jessa went 70s in a hand-made blue and purple paisley-print blouse Lauren sent me for Christmas, the embroidered bell-bottom jeans from the 2004 Ready for Fun "Meet" Outfit, and the black mules from Josefina's Dress and Vest. Felicity wears her original Rose Garden Gown that she came in. Molly wears her own navy blue "Meet" skirt, a hand-made blouse with lace trim that originally came with a 50s costume I bought on eBay, Samantha's new Mary-Janes, and the knee socks from Kit's School Outfit.

I listened to The Boy Friend LP while I changed the dolls. Julie Andrews fits in nicely as Polly, a wealthy young lady who hopes to find a "boy friend" at a fancy ball. She falls for a handsome messenger and invites him as her guest, but when he's accused of theft, she's worried he won't show. I'm very fond of this adorable spoof of fluffy 20s shows like No No Nanette, and this is far closer to the original smash London hit than the 1971 movie with Twiggy. "I Could Be Happy With You" is especially charming.

I ran another East Side Kids melodrama while I put the rest of my finds away and settled down. Bowery Blitzerkeg is the first of three East Side Kids movies to pit Mugs (Leo Gorcey) against Danny (Bobby Jordan). It's also the first to feature Huntz Hall as Mugs' goofy buddy Glimpy, and the only time in those three movies that Mugs gets the good-guy role. When Danny falls in with a young crook, the police turn to Mugs to be their representative in the local amateur boxing championship. Mugs feels bad about causing trouble with Danny...until Danny gets hurt and Mugs is the only one who can help.

I spent another fruitless hour after that trying to get through to UPS and the post office about that missing Warner Archives package. It STILL hasn't shown up! And the American Girl package not only got here just fine, but ahead of schedule! I tried to put in a lost package claim online, but both UPS and the post office insist that my tracking number isn't eligible for online file claiming! I can't do anything tomorrow, but I may try to call both again on Monday.

I put on Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation to cheer myself up as I made spiced chicken cutlets with pasta and broccoli for dinner. The second Care Bears film of the 80s is a personal favorite of mine. When three kids get into trouble with an evil, shape-changing demon at a summer camp, original Care Bear and Care Bear Cousin True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse try to come to their rescue. They do help twins Dawn and John, but their friend Christy falls into the clutches of nasty Dark Heart, who wants to eliminate the entire Caring clan.

Like the first movie, this is surprisingly dark for an 80s girl-oriented cartoon, almost an animated Faust. Dark Heart may be the most interesting villain ever in the Care Bears series, and probably the only one to show any kind of character development. Little kids may enjoy the animals' antics, but some mild violence and Dark Heart's transformations will require hand-holding and explanations. This is on DVD, but the copy isn't far above the one I dubbed from my parents' 30-year-old video. You maybe better off looking for this one on YouTube or elsewhere online.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lambeth Walks and Sudden Fortunes

Started out a beautiful day with Half A Sixpence. The Broadway version of the English musical brought over Tommy Steele in his original vehicle about an orphaned shop apprentice in the early 1900s who suddenly inherits a fortune. He originally wants to marry a society lady he met at a class, but finally settles on his long-time sweetheart...before losing said fortune. While some of the songs were quite charming  (especially the lovely "Long Ago" and the big wedding number "Flash Bang Wallop"), I suspect this loses something without the dances by Onna White that made this a big hit on Broadway in 1965. Steele can also be overbearing, particularly in larger numbers like "Wallop" and "Money To Burn. At least this seems to fit him better as a vehicle than Singin' In the Rain did. This is on CD and can be found for a fairly decent price on Amazon; charming and fun if you're a fan of Steele or fluffy boy-meets-girl musical comedies.

Work was busier than yesterday, but otherwise more of the same. People were rude and annoying yesterday and today. I thought it was the weather, but today was gorgeous, sunny, breezy, and in the mid-70s. I was so glad when my relief, one of the college boys, showed up early and I was able to get off quickly.

I got my schedule first. Looks like I'm back to having mainly weekends off now that the college kids are in school. On one hand, I have another 7-plus-hour day, this one Wednesday. Thankfully, it's only one this time, and not back-to-back. While it'll be a long wait for Friday and next Saturday off, I'm glad I'll have Saturday to myself tomorrow and next week.

I didn't really need a lot of groceries. Restocking brown sugar, cereal, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal were the big ones. I needed peanut butter and cooking spray, too. The Acme doesn't seem to have the Smart Balance sticks (again), so I bought I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

When I got home, I made broccoli and pasta for dinner with the last of the baked chicken legs while listening to Me and My Girl. The version I have is the original 1985 London cast with Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson as the title characters. I can't really tell what it's about; from the songs, I'm guessing it's another class-war tale. This was a blockbuster hit in the West End in the late 30s and early 40s. It's "Lambeth Walk" dance apparently became a craze; the sweet "Leaning On the Lamp Post" was also popular. The show was reconstructed and revived in the mid-80s. It was such a smash hit, it was the only comic musical imported from England during the height of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/epic European musical craze of the 80s and 90s. It did well enough in the US to have a Broadway cast album, apparently sans Thompson. The US cast is easier to find on this side of the pond, but you could probably pick up the London album for a decent price as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Singin' and Bakin' In the Rain

Today was my first of two seven-hour work shifts in a row. Maybe it was just as well. It rained almost the entire day. It was showering heavily when Jessa picked me up around 8:30. The Acme was dead pretty much the entire morning. I spent 9 AM through the lunch rush hour standing around. By the time things did start picking up around 1:30-2, the managers sent the third cashier to do stock work. They kept having to call him back every time the lines got long. Not to mention, my relief was late. They sent the self-checkout cashier in for me so I could get out on time. Jessa met me outside. She had things to get for a lasagna for dinner. It was still lightly showering when she drove me home.

As soon as I got in, I jumped in the bath. That felt wonderful. My legs are still kind of sore from all the running around I did last week, never mind today's work! I just kicked back for an hour, listened to the last of the shower, and finished As Time Goes By.

Since I just bought a ton of records, I spent the night spinning wax as I had leftovers for dinner and made a Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake for dessert. I started the Tommy Steele Singin' In the Rain before work and finished it during dinner. The original British stage version of the famous MGM movie expands one number in the film that was originally a background instrumental ("Temptation"), but also replaces several others with songs from other movies, or even other time periods. (I'll pass "Be a Clown," which "Make 'Em Laugh" was modeled on, but "Too Marvelous For Words" is from a Warners movie from 1937.) This was cute - "Moses Supposes" and "Good Morning" were especially fun - but I think it's out of print on CD and not exactly something you need to go out of your way for unless you're a really big fan of Steele.

Oh, Kay! is a bit closer to its source material. In fact, I believe this was done by the same producer, Goddard Lieberson, who also did my Roberta LP. This frothy Roaring 20s tale of the sister of a rum runner who falls for a society playboy while her brother hides his liquor in the playboy's mansion is only remembered today, if at all, for introducing some of the Gershwin Brothers' most famous music. The stack includes three lovely ballads, "Someone To Watch Over Me," "Maybe," and "Heaven On Earth," along with the bigger numbers "Do, Do, Do" and "Clap Yo' Hands." Jack Cassidy is the playboy; Barbara Ruick, who was Carrie Snow in the film version of Carousel, was Kay. It is on CD, but may also be out of print; check Amazon and used music shops if you're a fan of the Gershwins or Cassidy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Record Bonanza

First of all, congratulations to my younger sister Anny and her fiancee J.J! They just learned that their child is going to be a girl, the first girl any of my siblings have had. Everyone is excited. I'll finally have a niece, and Anny will have the little girl she's always wanted.

Second, I started a gloomy, cool, humid morning with some Bowery Boys. Sach and Slip think they've bumped into a windfall when they find $50,000 in a rolled-up newspaper. The cash turns out to be Jinx Money when a group of gangsters come after the dough...and they're killed one by one by a person holding an umbrella that only Sach seems to see.

My first day back at work was pretty typical. It was steady to quiet for most of the afternoon. There were no major problems, and my relief was right on time. I grabbed milk and multi-grain bread from the bakery and hurried out.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, put the milk and bread away, had a quick dinner of leftovers, and went back out again. My stepsister Jessa and her boyfriend Joe picked me up around 5 PM for another thrift shop/Goodwill trip.

This time, we drove about 20 minutes, dodging rush-hour traffic to hit the large Goodwill in Maple Shade. From there, we went to a thrift shop a few minutes away, Shade Thrift. We went past the Moorestown Mall and back to Cherry Hill to finish the night at the Cherry Hill Goodwill. The Goodwills had lots of Halloween stuff out. All three stores had tons of records; Shade Thrift had a small room that was nothing but records and videos. (And for some reason, the Maple Shade Goodwill had a lot of Russian videos and DVDs.)

I had my best haul in ages! I ended up with:

The soundtracks for Pete's Dragon and Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure

The original Broadway cast albums for She Loves Me, Half a Sixpence, I Do I Do!, Here's Love, Oh Captain!, the 1960s revival of Oh Kay!, the 1950s revival of The Threepenny Opera, and Promises, Promises

The original British cast albums for the 80s revival of Me and My Girl and Tommy Steele's stage version of Singin' In the Rain

Paperback "storybook" versions of The Great Muppet Caper and the 1982 film version of Annie

A Halloween costume! A red nylon dress with a floaty skirt and top trimmed in black lace and bows, with a wide-brimmed hat. The skirt is tight around the waist but passable; the top just doesn't work over my bosom. I think I can get away with tucking it in around my waist to make it look more like a Victorian skirt, which is kind of what I was going for. Either that, or a princess.

Thankfully, the heavy rain they'd been predicting all day held off until just about an hour ago. I hope it'll slow down by morning. I'm not going to be able to get a ride; everyone's working.