Monday, July 21, 2014

Bowery, Gumby, and Beyond

Started a sunny, windy day with more Bowery Boys. Bowery To Bagdad is one of only two Bowery Boys films to feature out-and-out fantasy elements. (Ghost Chasers is the other.) Sach buys an old lamp for Louie's birthday. When he polishes it, he's surprised to discover it's a magic lamp with a genie (Eric Blore) inside. Slip eventually insists on being master for the Genie, too...but a group of none-too-bright gangsters and two Arabian men who have been searching for it for years also want the lamp.

I finally headed out around noon for today's errands. My first stop was at the Oaklyn Library. It was surprisingly busy for a Monday, with several families in and out to take out books. The adult DVDs were fine, but the kids' section was a disaster area, with almost nothing where it belonged. There were a lot of kids' books to shelve, too.

My original thought for today was a bike ride, but it ultimately got too hot. I took a (only slightly late this time) bus to the Market Place and Town Centre at Garden State Park...a long, fancy name for two shopping centers in Cherry Hill attached to condos. Since it was past 2:30 by that point, my first stop was Panera Bread for lunch. I was surprised at how busy they were well past the lunch hour. I was able to get a nice seat by a window, watching the traffic go by as I ate a tasty half of a tomato and mozzarella panini and a cup of French onion soup.

I was mainly at the Market Place to visit their Bed Bath and Beyond. I had a 20 % off coupon that was expiring in a few days. Though I considered buying a new rectangular cake pan, I decided it would be too heavy to carry home. Went with a new dish rack and dish mat instead. I've had my dish rack since I moved here. It was chrome and had rusted badly. Not to mention, the plastic cup that held the silverware broke off early on. I bought a smaller rack that was covered in white vinyl and a clear plastic mat. Easier to clean, and no more rust.

I was in and out of a few stores next. Wanted a wireless mouse at Best Buy. The wired mouse that I bought last year was nothing but a pain. It worked all right, but the wire kept getting in my way, especially on my desk. Also found Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! in the $4.99 family movie DVDs bin. Checked out Nordstrom's Rack in the hope of finding a nice pair of black shorts. My older ones don't fit very well anymore. Alas, I couldn't find anything I liked.

Finished at Barnes and Noble. I debated a couple of books before going with two mysteries, one for little girls, one an adult mystery about a little girl. A Growing Suspicion is an American Girl historical character mystery. Rebecca Rubin, a New York kid in 1915, finds out something strange is going on at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Fadeaway Girl is an adult mystery about Emma Graham, a 12-year-old girl who is a reporter and a waitress at her mother's hotel.

I waited for the bus on a patch of beautifully manicured grass by the bust stop sign. It was a lovely place to have my snack - some sourdough bread that had come with my lunch. What a difference it was from the last time I went to the Market Place in February, when the sidewalks were icy and messy and the grass covered in snow and ice piles from the street. The bus was on time, and there were no problems getting home despite the rush-hour traffic at 5:30.

I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for an Oreo Vanilla Coolatta to cool off, then headed home. Had half of a ham steak and sauteed Chinese beans for dinner while watching Gumby shorts. The highlight was the very strange Gumbasia, apparently Gumby creator Art Clokey's first shot at a claymation short. It was just clay twisting and turning and stacking itself into various shapes in time to catchy jazz music, and almost as odd as Les Escargots despite the scratchy print.

Some of Gumby's later adventures were only slightly less strange. Gumby and his horse buddy Pokey get into a "Robot Ruckus" when the robots they hired to do their chores end up destroying the family's yard instead. "Too Loo" and "Gumby Concerto" involve Gumby befriending two musical notes and first returning them to their home, then creating many versions of himself to play musical instruments. "Baker's Tour" has a rather obnoxious - and perpetually rising - piece of dough leading Gumby and Pokey through a stove. "Gumby Crosses the Delaware" have Gumby and Pokey helping George Washington and his men in Valley Forge out somehow with their very out-of-place walkie-talkies. Gumby's stubborn dog Nopey is "Stuck On Books" when Gumby and Pokey try to teach their pet how to walk through books like the other regulars in the series.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jersey Dolls

Thank heavens I didn't oversleep again, like I did last Sunday. I awoke to a perfectly pleasant, breezy July morning, with plenty of time to have Double Berry Spice Pancakes and a handful of cherries for breakfast while listening to the CD of movie theme songs I bought last month. Most of the songs were from the 90s (with the exception of Billy Joel's "Modern Woman" from the 1986 comedy Ruthless People). For some reason, throughout the 90s, there were a plethora of movies - mostly action films and romantic comedies, but also serious dramas, family movies, and animated films - that featured theme songs that could compete for Oscars and attract another market to the film. They were mostly syrupy ballads like "For the First Time" from One Fine Day or "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, but an occasional rap number (Will Smith's title song for Men In Black), heavy rock ballad ("Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen from the hard-hitting drama Philadelphia), or uptempo song (Sophie B. Hawkins' sweet "As I Lay Me Down" from the otherwise so-so coming of age tale Now and Then) would sneak in.

Work was on-and-off steady through most of the afternoon. Despite the nice weather, we had quite a few cranky customers, including chop-shop people who buy up sales to sell at marked-up prices in Camden and one of those people who somehow think 60 dollars will cover a 90 dollar order. I was so happy when it slowed down enough by 5 that I was able to leave despite my relief being late.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner while listening to the original cast album of Jersey Boys. If you're a fan of the Four Seasons or 60s rock, you'll want to at least give this a listen. Narration helps you get some sense of the story of how four guys from North Jersey met and formed a group in the late 50s and spent several years as backing musicians before hitting the big time with "Sherry." The narration has some adult language, so this is for grown-up Four Seasons fans only. Still...as realistic as this sounds, you're probably better off getting the real group first. Their records, CDs, and downloads can be found easily on and offline.

Since I had some time after dinner, I decided to change the dolls. The patriotic outfits were swapped for bathing suits or lighter gowns. Whitney wears the Springfield Collection navy polka-dot bathing suit and white espadrilles. Jessa sports the lavender floral bathing suit from the AG Island Luau set and holds the adorable pineapple-shaped ukulele. Molly wears her peach 1944 Bathing Suit and holds the towel that came with it. Samantha's 1904 Bathing Dress was layered over black Springfield Collection stockings. Felicity's in her lavender "Traveling Gown" (the second "meet" outfit) with the lovely hat from Elizabeth's Summer Gown. Josefina is cool as a cucumber in the beige Party Dress and her rebozo.

Ran Sail Away in honor of the late Broadway legend Elaine Stritch as I changed the dolls. This musical from 1961 about the social director on a cruise ship who falls for a wealthy millionaire was old-fashioned either then, and despite being Noel Coward's last show, sounds even more dated now. Stritch still has some good material, though, including the eleven o'clock number "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?"

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Naughty Number Nine

I had to work earlier than usual, so I got up earlier than usual for the American Top 40 re-run. I would have been a little over a year old in the summer of 1980 when this episode was new; many of these songs were a big part of my childhood. Hits in mid-July of that year included "Love the World Away" by Kenny Rogers, "The Rose" by Bette Midler from the movie of that title, "In America" by the Charlie Daniels Band, "Emotional Rescue" by the Rolling Stones, "One Fine Day" by Carole King, "Little Jeanie" by Elton John, "More Love" by Kim Carnes, "Let's Get Serious" by Jermaine Jackson, "Tired of Toein' the Line" by Rocky Burnette, "Take Your Time" by the S.O.S Band, and two hits from the Xanadu soundtrack, "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John and "I'm Alive" by the Electric Light Orchestra.

(I left for work before I heard the #1 hit, but research online indicates that it was one of my favorite Billy Joel songs, "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me.")

I had 9AM work today. It was dead for a lot of the morning. I worked on a full cart of returns. It started picking up around 10:30, even before rush hour. By noon, it was busy. I had some fairly annoying customers. One woman fussed because she wanted the Cheerios she found on an end display for the price there. It was the wrong kind of Cheerios and was in the wrong place, but I gave it to her for that price anyway to keep her from complaining. Later on, another woman also threw a fit over an end display, this one for a cleaning products sale that gives you five dollars off your order if you buy the products listed in the flyer. She bought the products on the display...most of which were not a part of the sale. A manager and a stock person tried to explain it to her, but she got mad and left rather than listening.

I wasn't up for anything else after dealing with that. The moment my relief arrived, I hurried home. I watched another Bowery Boys movie to cheer myself up while I changed into regular clothes and had a snack. Jalopy is basically No Holds Barred with a car having the special powers instead of Sach. The Boys hope to enter their beloved, broken-down Model T Lucy in a car race, but she can barely get one lap in...before Sach and a professor friend of his develops a special fuel that makes her run like a champ! Now a group of gangsters who have money on the race would do anything to get that formula, including sending their moll after the Boys.

My original plan for today was going swimming at Dad's, but I ended up napping instead. For one thing, the weather wasn't really all that conductive to running around. It was on-and-off cloudy all day, cool and windy and kind of blahh. For another thing, I was dead tired after my early work day. I passed out at 4:30 and didn't get up until two hours later.

I had leftovers for dinner while starting the last disc of that public domain cartoon set Lauren gave me last month. Fraidy Cat was one of the few funny animal shows created by TV animation studio Filmation, which mostly specialized in action cartoons and adaptations of popular characters. Unfortunately, it's a good example of why Filmation generally stuck to action. Poor Fraidy is a cat whose first 8 lives were killed off quickly. He wants to live out his remaining one, but every time he says a single-digit number, the ghosts of his past lives appear and makes things worse. When he says 9, a cloud in the shape of a 9 appears and tries to zap him! Though a few of the ghosts are pretty funny, the show is more annoying than anything. It gets pretty bizarre at points, especially the episode that consists of that pesky 9 cloud chasing Fraidy and trying to get rid of him.

I'm working on ideas for things to do this week. It looks like the weather on Thursday is going to be nasty, so Monday will be the outing day by default. I'm tired of malls, and I don't have that much money. Maybe I'll just go for a long ride and have a nice lunch or a real picnic instead.

Friday, July 18, 2014

It's a Beautiful Day

It remained absolutely gorgeous when I got up this morning. I took advantage of the nice weather to bake a Chocolate Raspberry Chip Cake while watching more Bowery Boys. Slip and Sach are in Triple Trouble after they and the others stop a robbery and are accused of the crime. Gadgeteer genius Whitey overhears another robbery being announced on his ham radio, which gives Slip an idea. He and Sach plead guilty and befriend the real robbers in prison in order to flush them out. But when their cover is blown and Whitey hears about a planned jailbreak, it's up to their friends and lawyer Gabe Moreno to save the day.

Work was pretty much the same as the rest of the week - mildly busy during rush hours, quiet for the remaining day. Most people are probably on vacation, enjoying the gorgeous weather while they can. I was in and out with no problems other than the occasional cranky customer.

I got out just in time to ride over to Sonic for a lovely outdoor dinner. I wasn't the only one who opted to eat in the fresh breeze and sunshine tonight. The patio was packed, with three families and two older people all in the midst of eating while I was there. I enjoyed a cheeseburger, tater tots, and my favorite cherry limeade while listening to the people chattering around me and the music over their station. (Heard "Snoopy and the Red Baron" at one point; can't remember the last time I heard that one!)

Grocery shopping was next on the list. I'm not going to make it to the farm market this week or next week, so I restocked produce I needed, like peaches, zucchini, and blueberries. Bought more of the Smart Balance butter on clearance. Picked up skim milk, which I ran out of this morning. Quaker cereals are buy one, get one - I went with my favorite Oatmeal Squares, in cinnamon and brown sugar. Replaced the box of cake mix I used this morning. Grabbed single fish fillet packs and chicken drumsticks (otherwise, the chicken sales weren't very good).

I'm not terribly happy with my schedule next week. Good news - Monday and Thursday off. Otherwise, it's all very late or very early hours. I work 2 to 9:30 on Tuesday, then 9 to 3 on Wednesday! I'm not looking forward to it at all.

I cheered myself up with one of the Garfield travel-themed specials when I got home. Garfield In Paradise takes the famous fat cat and his owner to Paradise Island. Their vacation doesn't begin well, with rough plane travel and cheap hotel rooms making Garfield wish he'd stayed at home. Things begin to look up when they rent a gorgeous vintage 50s car...that leads them right to a tribe of 50s-worshiping natives and a volcano that's about to explode!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goin' Up the Suburbs

I couldn't believe how nice it was when I awoke this morning. Started a gorgeous day with more Bowery Boys. Slip's In Fast Company after he agrees to help a taxi company owner after his vehicle is run off the road by the competition. The Boys have to get passengers and duck around the rival company, who wants to be the only cabs on the New York streets.

My first stop of the day was the Haddon Township Library. The head librarian (yes, the one I clashed with a few weeks ago) had a good suggestion. She wants me to stop trying to shove the overflowing titles onto all three shelves. Putting the letters out of order confuses kids. Just put the overflow on the return shelves. She's right. Maybe they'll finally start understanding that certain series have too many titles and need to be paired down, no matter how popular they are. I got lucky this time. A lot of kids must have taken out DVDs during the heat wave and storms; everything fit, even the S titles. I also shelved adult DVDs and newly released books.

Rode across Westmont and Audubon, dodging traffic coming back from lunch, and headed to Simply Soups for lunch. It was quiet for quarter after 1. I was the only one who ate in the main room. I had my favorite Italian Wedding Soup, with a good-sized slab of cornbread and a can of Diet A&W. Since they don't accept credit cards, there's an ATM machine right next to the desk where you pay. I took advantage of an older woman ordering soup for friends and used the machine instead of going to WaWa for money.

I just barely made it to the corner of King's Highway and the White Horse Pike across from the Shell station in time to pick up the bus to the Moorestown Mall! Good thing it was a few minutes late. The Moorestown Mall is the last of the area's four major malls I hadn't explored yet...because it's the furthest away. The bus ride was an hour, twice as long as the rides to Deptford, Cherry Hill, and Voorhees. On the other hand, it was rather pleasant, passing through attractive suburbs and wooded areas. The bus wasn't full to begin with. I was the only one who went all the way to the Mall.

The Moorestown Mall is sort of in the middle of the pack, compared to the other area malls. It's not as large as Cherry Hill and lacks its history and upscale stores, but it's bigger than the Voorhees Town Center and nicer than Deptford. What is does have is a nice selection of stores (including a good-sized Boscov's and the area's only remaining Lord & Taylor) and a gorgeous floor area with soothing fountains, dramatic curved ceilings, and lots of plants. No one will ever mistake this pretty mall for a hospital, at least from in the inside.

The stores in the main mall are an eclectic lot, too. The Moorestown Mall also has the last remaining mall FYE in this area. In fact, this is where the Cherry Hill Mall's FYE ended up after they shut down in 2011. They were only slightly larger than the former Cherry Hill store, but I did make a few finds. The used sale this time was buy one, get the second half-off. I finally grabbed the two-disc Schoolhouse Rock 30th Anniversary set, which I've almost gotten a hundred times since it came out, for $10.99 (not bad for a heavily packed Disney set). Wayne's World was the half-off title at $2.49. The first four Police Academy movies were on sale for $9.99; continued the 80s-early 90s vibe and grabbed that, too.

I wandered around for a little while longer, taking in the rest of the mall. Briefly explored two video game stores, an independent and Game Stop; didn't find anything in either. Bought a Rita's Water Ice for a snack. The marshmallow peanut butter was really yummy, creamy and sweet with good-sized peanut butter pieces. Considered seeing a movie at the huge new theater, but decided it was getting late. Managed to wriggle out of a survey when they discovered that I work in retail and they couldn't have people in retail doing testing for candy. I didn't have the time, anyway. I wanted to catch the bus home.

Despite it being rush hour, the bus was right on time. The only traffic we ran into was going into Haddonfield. Otherwise, we mostly just stopped to pick up office workers, hotel workers, and nurses and hospital clerks. Moorestown seems to be mostly the mall, tons of office buildings, and a series of large shopping centers that included an AC Moore and a Barnes and Noble. (Maybe I"ll do my birthday in Moorestown next year instead of Deptford.)

When I got off, I went across the street to the big CVS to pick up some much-needed conditioner. Herbal Essences was cheaper, but they didn't have their curl formula. I ended up with Pantene, which was also on sale, though not as much as Herbal Essences. Honey and peanut butter were also on good sales.

I finally went straight home after that, avoiding the rush hour traffic on the White Horse Pike. Spent the rest of the evening making tilapia with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a fresh garden salad for dinner while watching the first Police Academy movie. The mayor of a large city has just opened her police academy to anyone who wants to join. This brings in a wide assortment of motley characters, from gun-loving Tackleburry to determined rich girl Thompson to gentle giant Hightower and sweet but occasionally noisy Hooks. Forced to join the academy to avoid jail time, Mahoney (Steve Gutenberg) goofs off and tries to annoy everyone in order to get kicked out. Falling for Thompson makes him have second thoughts. A riot that gets out of hand finally gives everyone a chance to prove that they have the right stuff for crime work.

A surprise hit, this spawned a wildly popular series that ran throughout the 80s. (A final one set in Moscow came out in 1994.) This is a pretty typical "misfits thumb their noses at an institution" 80s comedy. It's a little raunchier and more scatological than the slightly toned-down later entries would be, including some nudity and racist epithets. The adult humor really makes this more for teens and adults who enjoy slapstick and other "misfits against society" 80s comedies.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hanna Barbara and Bowery All-Stars

Though it was still a little humid when I got up this morning, by the time I went to work, it was really nice out. Which could explain why we were fairly quiet for most of the day. It was the same deal as Monday - steady during rush hours, otherwise not bad. I shelved candy between customers. One of the teen baggers who doubles as a cashier came in for me so I could go home on time.

When I got in, I ran the remaining Hanna-Barbara cartoons while starting turkey burgers with cucumber and tomato and more sweet Jersey corn for dinner. Some of the shows on the second disc were pretty cute. I especially enjoyed a couple of the more exotic funny animal shorts, like Peter Potomus and Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole. Peter and his monkey buddy So-So have to dodge Caeser and Cleopatra on the Nile. Secret Squirrel and his buddy rescue the clock face of Big Ben from a giant who wants a really big cuckoo clock!

The action shows were more of a mixed bag. While Johnny Quest and Space Ghost remain icons of 60s animation, their shows haven't dated well. Johnny's somewhat better, with decent animation and less cliched dialogue. The story I saw had Johnny, his Indian buddy Hadji, Johnny's dad, and his friend Race Bannon being spied on by a mechanical eye on eight legs worked by an evil (and stereotyped) Asian overlord. Space Ghost had a faster and more action-oriented story. Unfortunately, the interesting, sleek animation is brought down by some rather cliched dialogue. Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles is a lighter variation - Frankenstein Jr. is a monster, the Impossibles are a rock group, and both fight crime with nifty designs and goofy dialogue (and another Asian tyrant stereotype in "Frankenstein").

While I enjoyed the rental, as I was born more than a decade after the majority of these shows were gone from Saturday mornings, I don't really recommend it to buy unless you really do want just a sampling of Hanna-Barbara's early shows. Most of the half-hour shows are on DVD; I think only about half of the funny animal shorts are, though they probably all turn up on Boomerang.

Switched to more Bowery Boys as I finished dinner. We skipped ahead to the early 50s movies, the ones with just Sach, Slip, Chuck, Butch, and frequently Louie. All five find themselves Loose In London when a lawyer tells Sach he's expected to inherit from a kindly British earl. The other members of the earl's family aren't happy with these vulgar American upstarts. They first try to scare Sach and the others off. When they just ignore it, they decide to take matters into their own hands and kill the earl and the Boys!

Positive Note...Even with all the negatives I noted above, it was nice to see those Hanna-Barbara shows, in a few cases for the first time. I knew Johnny Quest, the sitcoms, and most of the funny animals well from their appearances on cable and frequent revivals during my childhood. I never heard of Space Ghost until his talk show started on Cartoon Network, or Frankenstein Jr. and the Incredibles until I saw them mentioned online.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quiet Day Before the Rain

Thanks to an exceedingly hot and steamy day, I kept my errands light. Started around 11:30 with a quick stop at the Oaklyn Library. It was really quiet there. The only people around were the librarian and the older woman she was chatting with. I mostly organized DVDs and looked over the board books. I wasn't around even a half-hour.

My next stop was the laundromat. It was a hot, sticky walk. I was surprised there was anyone out and about. I did see a bunch of men in jeans and tank tops at a house a few doors down loading landscaping equipment into the back of a truck. They were all complaining about having to do lawn work in the heat. Not that I could blame them! I was dripping when I got to the laundromat. No wonder they were dead. There were only a few people there when I arrived...and by the time my small load was in the drier and I was listening to The View, the place was empty.

When I got in, I watched Hanna-Barbara cartoons while reading in the back room and putting my laundry away. We finally got away from Quick Draw with a Flinstones episode. It must have been a really early one - the opening was different, with no lyrics on the theme song. Fred's upset when he finds a stone tablet with romantic poetry to Wilma. He thinks his wife is cheating on him. Of course, this being an animated sitcom, what Wilma's doing is quite different from what he expects.

Top Cat was my favorite of the remaining funny animal characters. TC and his boys were basically the Bowery Cats - a group of street-wise New York alley felines who come up with schemes to get a meal and avoid the local cop. Here, they take another standard sitcom plot line - adopting an abandoned baby - and give it a rather sweet spin. The cats find the baby dumped on the doorstep of a condemned building. They take the child to their alley and do take care of it...but listen to reason when their cop friend reminds them that they don't have the money or home for raising children.

The last cartoon on the first disc was an episode of Hanna Barbara's other well-remembered animated sitcom, The Jetsons. I was glad to see this one, as it answered a long-time question I had - how the Jetsons got my favorite character from the show, their sassy robot maid Rosie. I always wondered how a guy who pushed buttons all day for a miser could afford a maid. They can't - Rosie's a rental. She tells George's boss Spacely off after he starts in on George, but when Spacely admits that Rosie was right about his big mouth, George has to retrieve Rosie, before she returns to the rental company.

It was 2:30 when I finally headed out for a really quick lunch. Thick, heavy black clouds were grumbling behind West Clinton Avenue, even as I ducked into Phillies Phatties for lunch. They have tasty pizza, and the cheapest deal around - $3.50 for a slice of mushroom, a slice of cheese, and a can of Diet Pepsi. I watched American Restoration on the History Channel with a couple of teen boys and a trio of adults who came in later.

I didn't like those clouds building up behind West Clinton at all. I spent the rest of the day at home. Thankfully, the rain waited until I was in the shower around 4:30-5 PM to burst. I was in the bath by then, listening to vocalists sing Rodgers and Hart tunes on one of my jazz CDs and reading one of the guides to Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. The storm was huge, with noisy thunder and lots of rain. It's since subsided. I think it's just wet out there right now.

I switched back to the human Bowery Boys while making a chicken salad for dinner. Inspired by Top Cat's adventure, I ran Hold That Baby! The Boys find a baby abandoned in their laundromat. Unlike the cats' foundling, this baby is the heir to a fortune. His greedy aunts don't want him found or returned to his mother. Even the Boys figure out that something's wrong when gangsters threaten them and try to keep them from revealing the whereabouts of the child. While Sach tries to romance a dummy in a store window, Slip and the others go undercover at the sanitarium where the child's mother is hidden to figure out what's going on.