Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's a Beautiful Day, Charlie Brown

Started a gorgeous morning off with breakfast and He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. Chuck's off to summer camp with Marcie, Linus, and Re-Run. (Peppermint Patty, who can't stand that her best friend is having fun with her crush without her, joins in later.) There's a mean boy who is winning all the kids' marbles, including Re-Run's. Angry for once in his life, Charlie Brown opts to fight back, learning about marble-playing from Snoopy before going up against the kid. Chuck may be bad at baseball and kite flying...but he proves that he is good at standing up for his friends.

Spent the next few hours writing. Leia and Luke have their encounter on the bridge outside the village. Luke does reveal to Leia that she's his sister. He will go against Vader eventually...but not now. Vader's not in the area, anyway. He went back to Nabarrie Palace. When Henry comes out, he ends up holding both of them.

Broke around noon for a quick lunch. Started It's a Short Summer, Charlie Brown while I ate. In this earlier summer camp tale, Chuck and the boys just can't seem to beat Peppermint Patty and the girls at anything at camp, from swimming to softball. It doesn't help that the girls tease them obnoxiously about it. The boys' only hope to save face is the Masked Marvel (aka Snoopy) going up against Lucy in arm wrestling.

Headed out at 12:30, making my first stop at the Oaklyn Library. It was too nice a day for anyone to want to be inside for long. I saw one older woman who stopped to chat with the librarian and look over the piles of children's books they still have for sale after their big book sale a few weeks ago. I organized DVDs and looked over board books. Ended up buying two DVDs for 50 cents off the DVDs for sale rack, a public domain copy of the Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette and a Backyardigans set I didn't have, Robot Repairman.

Next up was a very short stop at Dollar Tree. I write my work schedule for the week and any chores or errands I need to do on a dry erase board. I started using them in college when I saw other students who had dry erase boards with their class schedules on their doors or mini-refrigerators and thought it might be useful. My current black dry erase marker was obviously dying, and it was the last one from the previous pack. Quickly grabbed a new pack and, despite a long line, was in and out in five minutes.

I'm actually pretty glad I had counseling today. This was a perfect afternoon for a ride to Haddonfield. Once again, the sun was shining, a cool wind was blowing, and it was dry and warm, but not overly hot for this time of year, probably in the lower 80's. I took the long way across Haddonfield and Westmont, down Crystal Lake Road and then up to West Park Avenue and West End Avenue to King's Highway. Briefly explored a small local bookstore when I arrived before heading down the road to Mrs. Stahl's office.

I had a lot to discuss with her, mostly good news. I'm actually pretty proud of being able to get the food stamps on my own, with minimal pushing from parents. The last time I had food stamps, when I lived in Wildwood in the early 2000s, Mom practically had to beg me to get them. I now understand how much they can help when you need them. I enjoyed Lauren's visit here last month and am very much looking forward to heading up to Pittsfield to see her in a couple of weeks. The 4th of July and my sister's impending birth are coming up soon, too. I'm not 100% happy with the new front door, but at least Charlie's actually doing something about the apartment instead of constantly saying "soon."

My only real problems right now are my troublesome managers. One is very fussy, but means well. He's not really mean, just a fussbudget. The other is mean and nasty and is not well-liked by anyone. I'm crossing my fingers that both move on within the next few months, and whomever we get after them is an improvement.

I was a bit hungry after my ride and picked up a gelati at Primo's on the way down Haddon Avenue. Gelatis are a dessert that layers water ice and soft ice cream. I had coconut ice cream with pina colada water ice. It wasn't bad. The coconut ice cream didn't really have that much flavor, but at least it was sweet and didn't overpower the water ice.

Rode back to Oaklyn across Newton Lake Park. Needless to say on such a lovely afternoon, I dodged a lot of people out for a stroll or a walk, fishermen, and other bikers. The park is truly beautiful right now, still green and fresh-looking. Some of the cooler temperatures we've had lately have largely discouraged the thick algae we had last year, too.

I'd been wanting to take a swim in Dad and Jodie's pool, but either the weather would be bad or too hot to ride over there, or I would be too pooped. Since I figured I'd be going by there on my way home, I just brought my bathing suit and towel with me. Khai, Ryan, and Savannah were already in the pool when I arrived, playing with Craig and a giant inflatable banana float. Savannah was a little upset that her brother wouldn't stay in the shallow end with her. (She's only about 4 and is still learning to swim.) I raced her and watched her splash around. The kids were having such a great time, they refused to get out, especially Khai. He gave Craig a terrible time about it.

Had dinner about a half-hour later or so with Dad and Jodie. Jodie made breaded chicken patties with mozzarella cheese on hamburger buns, noodles with garlic and butter, and steamed spinach. Yum. I'm not overly fond of breaded patties, but the cheese made it palatable. I had a ton of spinach and noodles. Dad and Jodie and I watched Law & Order re-runs and the news on Fox 29 as we ate.

Played some Lego Clone Wars when I got in. Did my second go-around on "Duel of the Droids." Disappointingly, other than picking up one more minikit piece and True Jedi, I didn't really do much here. A lot of extra areas require special characters or the dark Sith magic to get into. I did better in the spaceship hub. Used one of the R2 units to open another red brick, this one giving you the Minikit Detector.

Finished out the night online while watching last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. This version of the tale of a boy and his big green buddy moves from the New England seaside in the 1900's to the woods of the Northwest in 1977. Mr. Meachum (Robert Redford) dazzles local kids with his tales of a dragon who lives in the woods and breathes fire. His daughter, a forest ranger named Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), thinks his tales are silly...until she discovers a feral young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete swears he lives in the woods with his dragon Elliot and won't leave him. Grace, her lumber mill owner boyfriend Jack (Wes Bentley) and his little girl Natalie (Oona Laurence), take Pete in and teaches him about the modern world, but he still misses his friend. Jack's brother Gavin (Karl Urban) just wants to catch Elliot and put their small backwoods town on the map.

This was surprisingly sweet. It's not great, but the original wasn't, either. While it lacks the original's fun songs and roster of hammy character actors, it makes up for it with stunning visuals and a moving script. Howard and Redford play well off of each other as the father who tells stories and the daughter who only believes what she sees. Laurence and Fegley also do well as the kids who know in their hearts that Elliot is real. And the animation on Elliot is phenomenal, especially his furry body and expressions.

My main complaint is that Gavin's story seems a bit forced. Even in the original, the villains actually had a purpose for wanting Elliot. Here, Gavin just wants to show off, and it drags down the third act.

This isn't something I expected Disney to remake, or even thought they'd actually remembered they made the first time. I'm kind of glad they did. This is a rare remake that's at least on a par with the original. (And if they have to do remakes, at least in this case they picked something obscure that could actually stand for the updating.) Highly recommended for families or those just looking for a nice, solid drama about a boy, a dragon, and their love of nature.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hair-Raising Adventures

I started off my morning with writing. The guys have gone after Leia...and find themselves caught in a net. Turns out it was left by more of the same primitive, animal-clad natives who rescued her. They intend to eat Luke, Henry, Charles, and Rusty, but consider Cedric to be a god. Henry and Leia try to convince Cedric to free them. He doesn't think they'll listen...until Luke makes him float through the air! Leia explains that they've been mistreated by Coruscant. Many of their people were forced to work in the mines, and the blasts have scared off many of their usual prey. But the trio have a plan to fight back...

This time, I made sure to break around noon to have lunch. Since it was a beautiful day, breezy and much cooler, I figured I'd try the Ginger Molasses recipe from that cookie cookbook Lauren gave for my birthday. Oh yum. Chewy and spicy, maybe a little too sweet but not bad. I love molasses cookies, and these are pretty darn good. (I may just use less sugar the next time I have them.)

Finished Tangled Before Forever After, which I started during breakfast, while I ate and baked. Evidently, this is the pilot for Tangled: The Series, which debuted in the spring. Rapunzel is getting tired of being groomed as a princess. Her exuberance doesn't go over well with the snooty members of the court her parents have invited to the coronation, and neither does her friendship with Eugene. Her lady-in-waiting Cassandra is especially suspicious. Rapunzel's father is so worried about losing his daughter again, he's overprotecting her and the kingdom. She longs for freedom...but gets more than she bargained for when her and Cass' trip to where the golden flower used to grow ends with her hair long and golden again...and now, it's indestructible. While Rapunzel tries to figure out how to hide her regrown locks, Eugene practices to propose to her...and one of the guests plots revenge on the royal family.

I like but don't love Tangled, so I may not be the right audience for this. My main complaint is Cassandra. I know they're going for "tough sassy girl," but she comes off as more nasty and obnoxious at times, and her rivalry with Eugene doesn't help. Hopefully, they'll tone her down a tad as the series continues. The ending is almost sadly bittersweet, an odd choice for a Disney princess tale. I kind of wish her dad had been a little more understanding, but Rapunzel shouldn't have gone out, either. It's more than likely this is also something that'll change over the course of the series.

The DVD also contained a couple of shorts, mostly revolving around a member of the supporting cast. My favorite was the first one. "Checkmate" is a cute story told without dialogue. Pascal, Rapunzel's chameleon, wants Maximus the horse to play chess with him, but Maximus doesn't pay attention. He does everything he can to get the stoic equine to make his move.

Did an episode of Sailor Moon while getting ready for work. In the early second season, the Guardians are all going to appear in a local production of Snow White, featuring Mamoru as the prince. An desperately wants to be Snow White and kiss him, to Usagi's annoyance. She's not the only one who's jealous. Ali, An's lover, detests Mamoru and sends a monster to take him out. The Guardians jump into the spotlight to get rid of it.

Work was actually pretty quiet. While the carts were bad when I arrived, it wasn't really that busy. I was in and out all day. Bagged and gathered carts and trash along with rounding up carts. It was a gorgeous day for it. The sun was out, a stiff wind was blowing, and it was far cooler than it has been, a more typical for June lower 80's.

When I got home, I ate a quick leftovers dinner while finishing another Sailor Moon episode I started before I left. This time, An and Usagi are thrown together in detention. An is feeling weak and desperately needs energy. Vivacious Usagi is a perfect target...at least until another monster sent by her lover gets out of control...

Ended the night with more Lego Clone Wars. Shooting down enemy vehicles outside the hub spaceship opened up an "Epilogue" mission. This is another military mission, this time taking place at night. It took me a while to be able to earn enough money to buy the tank with the laser I needed to take out some of the gold-plated laser satellites. When I did, I had to earn more money in order to buy the tanks I needed to take down the huge Zillow Beast. Fortunately, every time the beast threw things around, the debris falling to the grounds created piles of studs, so money wasn't a problem. Building enough to finally get them to give me the tanks was more trouble. I made so much money from the Zillow Beast's tantrum, I was able to afford to buy another red brick, the x 4, which I had been saving for.

Next time, we'll start the Free Play rounds and explore the spaceship hub further.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Golden Oldies Summer

I awoke to a very different morning, windy, sunny, and dry. The wind felt so delicious, I turned the air conditioner off and opened the windows. Celebrated the lovely weather with Blueberry Pancakes and one of my oldies album collections, Golden Treasures. This was one of my better record yard sale finds. Three discs cover the early history of rock, from "Yakety Yak" to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," with several novelties ("Harper Valley PTA," "Tom Dooley") along the way. I accidentally bought even more good collections. Another oldies set came with this one - someone must have forgotten to put them back in the right sleeve before they were sold, and I was in such a hurry, I didn't even realize it until much later.

Worked on writing for the next couple of hours. Henry thinks they managed to sneak their group past Vader at an installment at the base of the Endor mountains. Luke knows better. Vader is all too aware that his son...and another Force-user - are on that carriage. He has his own plans for them and lets them go through.

Endor is miles and miles of forest and craggy cliffs. It's also home to several officers on smaller carts. Henry tries to get rid of them, but they hear him. Luke and Leia go after them. Leia runs one off a cliff, but gets flung off hers. When she comes to, she encounters a little man dressed in what appears to be a bear outfit, holding a spear. He pokes at her, but she gets him to calm down by giving him part of her lunch.

Broke for more Golden Treasures and lunch around 1;30...which was a mistake. It was ten of 2 when I looked at my schedule and suddenly remembered that I had to be at work at 2, not 3! I have no idea why I thought it was 3. I work at 3 on Wednesday and Thursday. I had to rush around like crazy, change, and get everything together before riding as fast as I could. And I still got there just one minute late! I'm still pretty annoyed with myself about it.

And I couldn't afford to be late. Despite what the customer service desk representative claimed when I called her, we were busy when I arrived, and there were no carts. The bagger who was out there said we'd been on and off all day, but it had picked up at 1. I did do some returns and bagging later to cool off, but I was mostly outside.

When I got home, I went straight in the shower, then had dinner. Tried Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings after I ate. Unlike the Lego games, which are more-or-less platformers with little use of the Wii's "motion controls," Staff of Kings has you swinging the controller around to do almost everything, from punching Nazis to cracking the whip. I just couldn't get the hang of it. Those motion controllers may sound good on paper, but they can be a pain to use, especially for people like me with poor hand-eye coordination. It took me a while to get the hang of punching and hitting, and even then, I was mostly swinging and pushing buttons and hoping something would land.

Flying the plane did me in. Indy escapes from the Nazis in a bi-plane, shooting down several in the process. I couldn't do it. It was impossible for me to keep it in the air and make the steep turns the game required. I spent a half-hour trying to get even slightly further and was in tears when I finally gave up and went online instead. (And I had the game on "normal!")

Sorry Indy, but this is a bit much for me. I think I'll return to Lego Clone Wars the next time I'm in a video game mood and figure this out another time.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

In the Aftermath of the Storm

A windstorm hit around 6:30 this morning, waking me up and roaring like a lion all over the county. I listening to the wind howl and the rain and hail fail like cannonballs over my roof. For all the noise, it didn't last long. By quarter after 7, when I was up and reading in bed, it was gone and the sun was coming out.

Did a couple of Danger Mouse season 6 shorts while eating breakfast. It's a "CATastrophe" when a mechanical cat kidnaps Colonel K. Danger Mouse and Penfold get quite a surprise when they go after him. DM fights with his evil side at Stonehenge in "The Good, the Bad, and the Motionless." When Greenback brings "Statues" to life, Danger Mouse and Penfold have to figure out how to return them to normal. 

While it was sunny and still very windy when I headed to the Collingswod Farm Market at 9, it was also still a bit humid. The fallout from the morning's storm became clearer the moment I walked out the door. Branches, some as thick as my head, were strewn all over not only the back yard and side path, but the street as well. Some roads on the way to Collingswood were blocked from trees that had fallen over and needed to be moved or cut. 

Despite the mess, the Collingswood Farm Market was busier than ever with people buying produce for their graduation parties and barbecues. Asparagus is gone, but eggplants, peaches, nectarines, spring onions, and green beans made their debut today. I just opted for cherries, blueberries, bananas, and cucumbers. 

Took the long way home through Collingswood to dodge a couple of park trees that had fallen on the road at the intersection of Bettlewood, Lakeview, and Linwood. Stopped at CVS, since I had time and I was going in that direction anyhow. Picked up honey, their generic Sparkling Lemon-Lime soda, and a buy one, get one 50% off three-packs of CVS' generic soap sale.

Did more Danger Mouse when I made it home and started getting organized for work. "The Clock Strikes Back" when a time-traveling clock brings a magician who wants to take over the world. DM and Penfold turn his spells on him. The duo's wondering "Have You Fled From Any Good Books Lately?" when the monsters in a book given to Penfold by an alien come to life and the two have to get rid of them. (And this is the first and only episode I've ever seen take place entirely in Danger Mouse and Penfold's home in London.)

While I did clean the bathroom when I got in, did some bagging, and briefly wound up in a register, I was mostly outside gathering carts. The store became more and more busy as the roads cleared and the lights started operating again. The damage from the storm was worse than I'd initially believed. Westmont, Haddon Township, and Mt. Ephram got it the worst, including widespread power outages and tons of trees down. I heard people even mention a tornado touched down in Westmont, leaving a disaster in its wake. 

There was a reason we were busy, and it wasn't entirely the nice day or graduation parties. Apparently, the Westmont Acme was among the buildings that had lost power. Customers could purchase dry items in the store, but not perishables. Many of their regular customers ended up coming to us by default.

My schedule next week is, other than a later day next Saturday, exactly the same as this week's. No major plans besides counseling on Tuesday. I'm saving money for my rent and for vacation. 

Did a little bit of writing when I got home. Everyone's going their separate ways. Langdon, his friend Niem, and Wedge are going to catch up with the Death Star II and take that out. Henry offers his friend the Falcon, the fastest tub in the air. Henry's not too sure about it, but Langdon's happy to accept his offer. Maz Kantana sees them all off, making sure to give her crush Charles a big kiss before he goes (to his embarrassment). 

Broke around 6:30 for dinner. I had no idea what to do with the bay scallops (mini scallops) I bought yesterday, so I improvised. Sauteed carrots, onion, zucchini, and garlic, then added chicken stock, the scallops, and white cooking wine for Scallops with Early Summer Vegetables. Ate it on a bed of tri-color rotini pasta.

Put on two more Danger Mouse episodes as I cooked and ate. London's saying "Ee-Tea!" when all the world's tea goes missing. DM and Penfeld literally go to outer space to find it. They're "Lost, Found, and Spellbound" when they go to China in search of Dr. Squawkencluck and end up against a witch doctor. 

Switched to Meatballs after dinner. Tripper (Bill Murray) is the laid-back head counselor of Camp North Star, a low-budget facility in Canada. While the counselors in training pursue each other, he befriends a lonely camper named Rudy (Chris Makepeace) and chases the head female counselor (Kate Lynch). His early morning jogs with Rudy prove to be more than good bonding when North Star plays Camp Mohawk, it's snotty rich rival, and they need a runner for the marathon.

Murray and Makepeace steal this summer camp tale wholesale as the wackiest counselor in the north and the kid who just wants to be liked. Director Ivan Reitman thought so, too. A lot of the C.I.T's antics were cut in favor of more of them, and it works pretty well. If nothing else, the low-budget production assures that this is as complete a time capsule of its era as you'll get outside of home movies - breathy ballads and disco tunes on the soundtrack, tight shorts and knee-high socks on everybody, Tripper's attack on the female counselor coming off more like harassment and less like him being annoying today. 

If you're a fan of Murray, the 70's and 80's "slobs vs snobs" comedies, or the era, you'll want to check this one out. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Secret Agents and Daring Detectives

Kicked off a cloudy morning with breakfast and some particularly strange season 4 episodes of Danger Mouse. DM and Penfold follow Baron Greenback from Gibraltar to the "Tower of Terror" in New York City. The tower isn't so much terrifying as it is plain strange, as it's the home of a group of practical jokers. Elephants randomly stampede, people climb around on the ceiling, and DM somehow manages to walk off the edge of the film strip.

"Four Heads are Better Than Two," or so Colonel K thinks when he sends robot versions of Danger Mouse and Penfold off to a pinball palace that Greenback is re-configuring to rule the world. One pair has to find Agent 57, the master of disguise; the other must secure Greenback. The robots prove to be a little too much like their originals...and then the mechanical Penfold is caught by the Baron...

I was about to head out to the grocery store when I happened to peek in the mail box to see if anything came for me. Sure enough, my new food stamp card had arrived! I went inside to call Camden County and set a password for it, then went back out.

The card couldn't have come at a better time. While I didn't need a lot of groceries, I did have to pick up a few that were fairly expensive, like whole wheat flour. Found a breaded flounder fillet pack and a small container of mini-scallops with manager's coupons. Restocked yogurt, butter, shampoo, canned pineapple, peanut butter, vanilla, and ground chicken. Had an online coupon for the new Halo Top ice cream; decided I couldn't resist the red velvet. Needed Liquid Plumber badly for the sink in the kitchen. They were having a dollar sale on small baguettes; bought a sesame seed-topped one. Bought a Dasani Sparkling Water for the way home.

Returned to Danger Mouse as I poured the Liquid Plumber down the drain and put everything else away. Moved ahead to the shorter episodes of the sixth season as I got organized. The dynamic rodent duo discover that "Alping Is Snow Easy Matter" when they have to stop Greenback from defrosting the ice caps and flooding the world. Penfold's yelling "Aagggh! Spiders!" when Greenback's crow assistant Silletto uses one of his boss' machines to create giant arachnids. "One of Our Stately Homes Is Missing" when a beautiful old mansion is stolen and held for ransom. DM and Penfold help a fellow government agency recover it.

Went back out again to run more errands, this time starting at the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. The "smokin' hickory" wrap I had - grilled chicken with cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce - was amazing, thick and sweet and just tangy enough. As usual, I ate the pickles and cole slaw but put the bag of chips aside. I'm not a fan of chips. It was busy with people coming out of offices, though at least one couple had gone by the time I was finished.

Next stop was the Haddon Township Library. Spent an hour organizing the children's and adults' DVDs. The kids' area was especially bad. I doubt anyone's done that for a while. Someone did finally realize that we have so many Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine titles, they don't fit in with the rest of the discs anymore. They've been moved to their own shelves.

Took out quite a few movies this week. Grabbed the last two Charlie Chan titles the library had, In Egypt and In Shanghai, and the next Star Trek title, The Final Frontier. One of Disney's newest shows is Tangled Before Forever After, apparently about Rapunzel and Flynn's adventures before they get married. I liked the movie enough to give this a chance. Also found last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. Took out He's a Bully, Charlie Brown in honor of the start of summer.

Made two quick stops on my way back to Oaklyn. Finally dropped Dad-Bill's Father's Day card in the post office, since I was going by there anyway. Went around the corner to Dollar General for sugar.

My last stop of the day was at Dad and Jodie's house. I haven't been over there since Dana's graduation party at the beginning of the month. They were watching an old Law & Order episode with a neighbor when I came in. I told them about getting my food stamps and about the repairs on the house. Jodie told me that they did finally call Greyhound. They won't be sending the tickets until likely next week. They don't want us to lose them before I go, which is perfectly reasonable. And no, she hasn't heard about the doctor. Rose and Mom apparently have to sign things, too, and Rose's focus is more on the baby that's due in a month at the moment.

We went out to the pool for a while and ate cheese and crackers while we talked. Mary and Emily and their mom arrived twenty minutes later to go swimming. I decided it was time to head home. It was a tad less humid, but the sky was still off and on cloudy, and the wind was getting worse.

Did a little bit of writing when I got in. Henry has been officially made part of the newly combined League of the Crimson Hawk and Rebel Society. He's going to lead the group that'll help out the people being forced to work the mines in Endor. Leia and Charles sign up immediately. Luke and Rusty do it the moment they come in the door. Leia realizes there's something different about Luke, but he says they'll discuss it later...

Broke around 6:30 to have a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and leftover snap peas for dinner. Did some crocheting while I watched Charlie Chan In Egypt. Charlie is asked to help out while on holiday when an archaeologist disappears, worrying his already nervous daughter Carol (Pat Paterson). Neither his assistant Tom (Thomas Beck) nor Carol's doctor (Jameson Thomas), nor his brother, a fellow archaeologist (Frank Conroy) know where he is...until he turns up murdered. His son Barry (James Eagles) insists it was a curse, but Charlie thinks there's something more down-to-Earth involved when he discovers that priceless artifacts from the late professor's expedition have been turning up in private collections and museums.

On one hand, this is one of the more interesting early Charlie Chan stories. It makes far more use of the setting than In Rio, with its shadowy tombs and bustling markets. There's a fairly involving plot, too, especially the ingenious way the son is killed later. This is also the first Chan movie I've seen with no number one or two son around to flirt or cause trouble.

Unfortunately, this one is marred by some heavy-handed stereotyping, and not from Charlie Chan. Stepin Fetchit, (in)famous for his portrayal of the worst kind of lazy African-American, plays Tom's helper on the expedition. His bumbling cowardice is likely supposed to replace Charlie's sons as comic relief, but not only is his character obnoxious, but he has the most annoying high-pitched voice, too. And those of you looking for Rita Hayworth in this will be disappointed. She only has a few scenes as a native maid under the stage name Rita Cansino.

Recommended if you love the Chan series or Indiana Jones-style mysteries, but do keep in mind that this is entirely a film of its time, up to and including Fetchit.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Galactic Sea Quest

Began a hazy morning with breakfast and summer-themed, black and white Silly Symphony shorts. "Summer" and "Night" are basic "animals dance and sing in time to music," in this case, frogs, bugs, and other summer creatures and nocturnal animals. "Frolicking Fish," "The Spider and the Fly," and the final black-and-white Silly Symphony "Bugs In Love" have small creatures rescuing a pair of lovers from a larger intruder - the spider in "Spider and the Fly," a crow in "Bugs In Love," an octopus in "Frolicking Fish."

Hit the laundromat after breakfast to get that done. I didn't have a big load; figured I might as well get it out of the way. I picked the right time. It was just me and the talk show on NBC when I arrived at quarter of 10. By the time Rachel Ray was explaining how to make the meal of the day and it was getting busier, my clothes were in the drier. I worked on story ideas and half-listened to Rachel.

Put everything away when I got home, then worked on my story. Henry's back on his feet and ready to join Leia, Charles, and the servants for the next mission. Mon Mothma explains that the Rebels and the League of the Crimson Hawk are now working together. Wedge and the Rogues and Langdon and his men will take down the Death Star from the air, after Henry, Leia, and the others pose as a rich couple and their entourage to get aboard the ship and shut down its defenses. But first, they have to find out where Vader's getting his supply of khyber crystals and shut that down, too...

Made turkey burgers and a green salad for lunch around 1:30. Watched an episode of Wonder Woman while I ate. "The Bermuda Triangle Crisis" from the early second season has the US claiming they want to make a nuclear testing ground on a certain island that's awfully close to Diana's homeland. While Diana decides what to make of her mother's words, she and Steve go into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle to figure out why planes are vanishing...and discover a master villain who intends to take over the world.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday, this time without the crazy storm shortly before break. It remained hazy, hot, and humid all afternoon. I rounded up carts for a half-hour when I came in and an hour before I left, but there really wasn't that much to do. Gathered trash and baskets inside and did a short test on the store's harassment policies. We were on-and-off steady afternoon, with many people likely either hitting the Shore after their kids got out of school or avoiding the heat.

Ran Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as I soon as I voyaged home myself. After being court-martialed for stealing a ship and disobeying orders in the last movie, the former crew of the Starship Enterprise, including the reborn Spock (Leonard Nimoy), discover that the only creatures that can communicate with a probe that's wrecking havoc on Earth are humpback whales. The creatures are extinct in the 23rd century...which is why Admiral James Kirk (William Shatner) takes his crew back in time to 1986 San Francisco to find examples of the species while they were still alive. While Spock and Kirk convince a marine biologist (Catherine Hicks) that they're from outer space and they need whales, the rest of the crew tries to find a nuclear reactor to power their ship and build a space for the enormous aquatic mammals.

This is one of three Star Trek movies my family taped off cable in the 80's and early 90's. (Final Frontier and Undiscovered Country were the others.) As a kid, I considered it to be too weird for words, especially compared to the grander Star Wars saga, and thought it pushed its "save the whales" message a little too hard. Nowadays, I see this as a breath of fresh air, and possibly one of the most unique science fiction films on celluloid. This is more of an action-comedy than a typical Star Trek entry, and it's actually rather charming, especially the crew's attempts to "blend in" in the already strange 1980's.

Not for hard-core action junkies or those who prefer their sci-fi dark and heavy, but if you ever wanted to see how the Star Trek characters would interact with the "normal" world, or just wanted to try the lighter side of Trekkie-dom, this is better than you might think from the plot description. (However, I do recommend seeing Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock first to get a better understanding of the characters and situations.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Surprise Summer Storms

Kicked off the first day of summer with a Backyardigans sports episode. Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, and Austin take part in a "Race Around the World," while Tasha's the judge and announcer. Each of the other kids have won a gold medal in an event before. Austin's worried that he won't get far. This is his first time racing. His friends may have the advantage of experience, but they're only good at one sport each. Not only is Austin a better all-arounder, but he has a fanny pack filled with everything he needs. He teaches the group a lesson in being prepared when he shares the things in his pack with them.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon writing. As it turns out, Rusty Arlington was once the repair man for the Jedi Guards and the royal family. Baron Anakin Skywalker had been a good friend of his, until he pledged himself to Prime Minister Palpatine and was maimed in a fencing match with Ben that ended badly.

This is when Ben also spills the beans about the rest of Luke's family. He has a twin sister. Luke figures it out instantly. His sister is Leia, whom he's felt connected to ever since her arrival back in May. Rusty explains that he and Padme hadn't wanted to separate them, but Ben, Bail, and Yoda felt it was for the best. Padme didn't live to see her daughter's first birthday. Most of Alderaan believes she died of her injuries from Anakin trying to throttle her, but Rusty claims it was a broken heart from her husband's betrayal that did her in.

The trio leave Ben, reassuring him that Luke will face Vader, even if he can't kill him. They head to the Takodana Inn, where the rest of the group is meeting, including crusty old Naval man Admiral Ackbar.

Broke around 1:30 to make salmon scampi and steamed green spring peas for a nice lunch. Watched Charlie Chan In Rio as I ate. Charlie (Sidney Toler) and his "Number Two" son Jimmy (Keye Luke) are in South America, hot on the trail of a woman who killed a man in Honolulu. Their trail leads them to the mansion of Lola Dean (Jacqueline Dalya), a popular singer. She was about to run off with her playboy fiancee (Ted North) and get married, but she's murdered before she can go anywhere. There's a house full of suspects who were there to celebrate her engagement, including her secretary Helen (Kay Linaker), her butler Rice (Leslie Denison), and her cute maid Lilly (Iris Wong) who flirts with Jimmy. The answer may lie with a broken broach and a psychic (Victor Jory) who hypnotized Lola and recorded her under his influence earlier.

Mixed feelings on this one. While I enjoyed the fairly unique premise and am happy Jimmy has more to do than fall in the water, I thought the whole thing with the psychic was a bit much. The biggest disappointment was the lack of use of the setting. This story could have been set anywhere without changing a thing. Nothing felt remotely tropical.

It's been nice to see the Charlie Chan movies again. I used to watch them with Mom on AMC as a kid, and caught them occasionally in college on TCM in the early 2000's. If you like classic detective stories (and don't mind Charlie being played by a white man), for the most part, these are pretty fun.

It was just a little cloudy when I headed to work. Though I spent most of the first hour and a half doing the inside trash and the bathrooms, I was outside for the majority of the evening. Even as I started gathering carts, deep, dark clouds were building up on the horizon. Once again, I got very lucky. I'd just finished getting carts from the side of the building when Mother Nature unleashed her full fury. It was windy, pouring - the whole works. I could barely control the five carts I'd gathered! Thankfully, I went right inside after that for break. By the time I came back out, the rain was down to showers. They were gone all together when I headed home, leaving a humid and slightly cooler night.

As soon as I got home, I jumped straight in the bath. I so needed that after doing more work than I'd originally planned this week. I listened to one of my Reader's Digest Operetta CDs and looked over vintage cake decorating magazines.