Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rainy Day Women

I slept a little later than I planned...and awoke to another downpour. I was up at 9; Lauren didn't roll out until 10. That may have been a good thing. The rain was starting to slow down by the time we headed out at quarter of 11. When we made it to Collingswood, it was down to a light shower.

Our first stop was the Farm Market. Between the late hour and the weather, it was the quietest I'd ever seen it. There was barely anyone there. It's still pretty early in the growing season, too. Some tables were even packing up to leave as we arrived. I did manage to pick up asparagus and a tomato for dinner next week.

We strolled down Lee Avenue to Haddon Avenue to check out some of the stores. Started at Frugli Consignment, which is on the next block over from the Farm Market. They occasionally have interesting things, but neither of us found anything there today.

Had lunch down the street at Tortilla Press. It was quarter of noon by that point, and they were very busy. We just missed a huge party, in fact. I forgot that Tortilla Press has a popular brunch on weekends. Lauren had the brunch burritos, with black beans and mango salsa. I had the brunch quesadilla, filled with cheese, bacon, and vegetables, with salsa, sour cream, and very tasty home fries. We shared a basket of cinnamon sugar-dusted home-made tortilla chips and very much enjoyed our meal.

The rain took a temporary leave of absence after lunch, just in time for us to stroll down Haddon Avenue and check out several stores that interested us. Lauren picked up bags of Tootsie Rolls and a box of blue raspberry ring gummies at The Candy Jar; I found a bar of chocolate/vanilla/strawberry coconut candy. I ended up at InnerGroove Records to check out their dollar shelves while Lauren headed to ExtrordinaryED, a toy store a few doors down. She bought a dice and card game to play with her folks. I dug two records out of the stacks:

Linda Rondstat - Greatest Hits, Vol 2

Walt Disney Studios Presents Merry Christmas Songs - Mainly bought this for "From All of Us to All of You"

Lauren wanted to check out Rocket Fizz again - we went there last year - so we made our way down Haddon Township to Westmont around 2. Phildelity Records just opened a block from that shopping center. It's basically the same thing as InnerGroove, but in a larger, lighter store, and with CDs, Blu-Ray, and DVDs in addition to records. Lauren bought a couple of CDs for herself and one for her dad. Along with a copy of the Jennifer Lopez/George Clooney thriller Out of Sight on DVD, I found:

George Benson - In Your Eyes (record)

WOR 96.7 Studio Solid Gold - Two-disc record collection of classic rock, including some good titles I don't have elsewhere.

Original cast of Donnybrook!, a 1961 musical version of The Quiet Man. It was a major flop at the time, but I do like The Quiet Man, so I'm willing to give this rare title a try.

Rocket Fizz was our next stop. This is technically a candy store, but it specializes in practical jokes, unusual sodas and candy, and imported candy from Europe and Asia. While I found several of the British candy bars to be intriguing, most of them were expensive. Lauren found a banana nut soda with a Monkees label. (She later said it was pretty good.)

Primo's Water Ice, one of the best ice cream/water ice shops in the area, is right next door. They have unique flavors at very cheap prices. I picked up a pineapple turnover water ice (basically a creamier pineapple). Lauren had a black raspberry soft serve cone. We sat at the counter inside, avoiding the continuing humid weather and listening to the chattering young teens on the other side.

Good Samaritan Thrift Shop is across the street. They're very narrow and very busy, a jumble of clothes, knick-knacks, and some books and DVDs. I admired two lovely vintage 50's 18-inch dolls for 10 each; I would have considered buying one if I could carry it home. (Maybe next week if I have the money.) Lauren bought a shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was 3:30 by that point. Not only was it rush hour, but the day was growing more and more humid. Figured it was time to head back to Oaklyn. We dodged traffic on Cuthbert and Haddon Avenue and headed back the way we came, past Newton Lake Park and down East Clinton.

Lauren wanted to stop at Comicrypt, the comics store next-door to The House of Fun on the White Horse Pike. Turns out we picked the right time to do it. They were having a half-price sale on their older titles. I did see some Star Wars, but I'm not that into the Dark Horse titles. I prefer the ones from the 70's and 80's when the movies were originally out, or the current Marvel run, neither of which were part of the sale. I settled for petting the black and white kitty who wandered between boxes. (His white sister was napping in the window.) Lauren did much better, picking up a stack of titles that she said filled in gaps in her own collection.

It started to rain hard again when we were in Comicrypt. Thankfully, the rain was slowing down, even as we crossed the White Horse Pike to West Clinton. In fact, we noticed a Crayola-themed bounce house at the very end of the circular drive between the park and the VFW. Must have been some kind of kid party going on there.

I made us Caesar Chicken Salad (complete with home-made dressing) for dinner while we watched Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The Toons are looking forward to their time off from school, but it doesn't turn out to be what they'd hoped. Plucky finds himself on the car trip from hell when he joins Hamton's smiley-happy family on their ride to Happy World Land. Babs, Buster, and Myron spend their summer on the river, avoiding larger animals who think they're on the barbecue menu. Fifi pursues a handsome star, with little success. Elmyra terrifies the animals at a safari park. Shirley seriously regrets her movie date with Foulmouth when he talks over the film and drives everyone crazy. Fun if you're a fan of the Toons or the fast-paced, reference-filled Warners cartoons of the 90's.

Played some Wii Sports after dinner. Tried some mini-games tonight. Lauren won most of them - she beat me at the batting practice by 1 hit! - but I finally won golf Target Practice and the baseball Spin Control. We finished Raiders of the Lost Ark in Lego Indiana Jones with the long and complicated "Finding the Ark" and "Opening the Ark" rounds. Having two people really helped on these - one could jump onto things, while the other pushed levers.

Ended the night after my shower with The Last Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is determined to bring former Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to his sister Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the Resistance. Luke insists that he's retired, but he changes his mind when he sees Rey's awesome powers. Meanwhile, her buddy Finn (John Boyega) is sent to the casino planet Cantino Bight with Resistance mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) to find a master hacker who'll get them onto the First Order's ship. What they find is the disreputable DJ (Benicio Del Toro), who does as asked...but turns out to not exactly be trustworthy. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is also struggling with his dark and light sides. He reaches out to Rey in the Force, and they start a tentative relationship that's threatened by the First Order's leader, Snoke (Andy Serkis). Rey thinks she can bring Kylo back to the light...but as Luke tries to point out (and as everyone has complained about), "this is not going to go like you think."

If you're a fan of this franchise, I say ignore all the fussing and give this movie a shot. It's not for purists or for people looking for a lighter and softer version of these characters ala Force Awakens, but if you're willing to try something different with these movies, this is far better than you may have heard.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Rain, the Mall, and Other Things

I was so excited about our first mall trip of the week, I couldn't sleep this morning. It was raining when I got up at quarter of 7, but not heavily. I finished Han Solo's Revenge, wrote in my journal, and messed around online until Lauren got up around 10.

Ran a couple of She-Ra episodes while I ate breakfast and we got organized. Adora and Bow find themselves in an "Enchanted Castle" when they're captured by an evil sorceress. They're rescued by an old woman they helped on the road, who teaches them a lesson in kindness and looking beyond appearances. Madame Razz, her broom, and Kowl are "Three Courageous Hearts" who must find the spell book that will release She-Ra from the Sixth Dimension.

We rushed out around 10:45 to catch the 11:12 bus to Cherry Hill. It was still raining when we left, a light shower that made everyone damp, but didn't do much else...and certainly not the torrential downpour everyone talked about for today. The bus was about five or so minutes late, nothing outrageous, and we had no trouble getting to the mall.

We took quick looks at Game Stop first, but neither of us picked up anything there. Lauren found t-shirts for her parents at the Disney Store and shirts for herself at work at Macy's. I didn't pick up anything from either store. They had Solo: A Star Wars Story merchandise, but not much, and nothing that exciting. (Too bad the giant Ewok honoring the 35th anniversary of Return of the Jedi was so expensive.)

Macy's is just a few doors down from The Disney Store. We walked around there for about a half-hour. I'm not the biggest fan of Macy's and didn't find anything interesting, but Lauren found several of her favorite style of blouses for work. We also ran into Jessa, who works at that Macy's, heading for another department. She was talking about her and Joe taking Lauren and me to see wrestling at Atlantic City...but Joe has a cold, and they may not be able to do it. That's ok. Most of our plans for tomorrow were in the morning.

By the time we headed across the pedestrian bridge to the Hillview Shopping Center, the rain was long gone. It was replaced by a cold, stiff wind that lingered for the rest of the day. Shivering, we ducked into the Silver Diner for lunch. They were very busy, not surprising for 1 PM. We both opted for their $9.99 lunch specials. I had the Tarragon Crabcake, cole slaw, and Old Bay fries. Lauren had a bowl of chicken soup and the half of a turkey club that I had a while back. Yum! The crab cake was even better than their fish and chips, perfectly cooked and seasoned just right. (The Silver Diner is a Maryland franchise - they know their seafood.) Lauren really seemed to love hers, too.

Hit Kohl's next. I picked up two much-needed bras. (Mine are very old and very worn.) Lauren found a couple of shirts she liked on a rack near the entrance at the last minute!

Target was just as busy. We explored the toy aisle, but neither of us found anything we couldn't live without. Lauren already had the "Rowdy" Roddy Piper figure on the shelves, and they didn't have the Kylo Ren/Rey doll set I've been looking for. She bought a bra; I picked up a box of Pillsbury Strawberry cake mix that was on a good sale. I'll make Lauren and me a berry cake later in the week.

Lauren and I headed back across the pedestrian bridge and though the mall. To our disappointment, Jay Street Video Games was gone. It must have just happened; I'm pretty sure they were there when I was at the mall for my birthday last month. Nothing either of us wanted at Build-a-Bear. We did better at JC Penney; we both picked up pretty blouses. I like the simple red print on the peach background on the shirt I found.

I met Lauren at the food court, which is almost right next to JC Penney. I had a wonderfully tart-sweet Orangeberry Julius. Lauren had a Cherry Coke and a huge chicken and cheese quesadilla, the latter of which she shared with me.

We finished our snack with just enough time to head upstairs and catch our bus home. The bus was once again five minutes late...and this time, it had a good reason. Traffic was pretty heavy around the Cooper River Bridge and the entrance to Haddon Township by Cooper River Park. A ride that should have been 20 minutes ended up being more like 40. Made a quick jump into WaWa for money on the way home.

After we got in and put everything away, we first played Wii Sports. Lauren killed me at everything we played; I got the closest to her in golf. Switched to Lego Indiana Jones around quarter after 7. We took Marion and Indy through the streets of Cairo and over its rooftops, smashing so many jars, we got our first True Adventurer. Didn't do nearly well on the very long and complicated "Well of Souls." We managed to get through it, and even get a few pieces, but we lost most of our money doing so.

Had leftover bean dip and hummus for dinner, then went online while watching the original, non Lego Raiders of the Lost Ark. Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) has been hired by the US Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, a biblical artifact of indescribable power. The Nazis are also seeking the Ark, lead by Indy's old rival Bellaq (Paul Freeman). In order to find the Ark, he needs to get a priceless medallion from his ex-girlfriend Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). She joins him and his friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) in Cario..but even when they do find the Ark, the Nazis are quickly on their tail. Indy, Marion, and the Ark are ultimately captured by the Nazis, who intend to use its power to take over the world. Indy's the only one who knows how to survive what comes out of the Ark...and why some mysteries are better left undiscovered.

First, and probably the most beloved, of the Indiana Jones films. This one introduced the character, Marion Ravenwood, and the premise of a globe-trotting archeologist/adventurer searching for artifacts in the 30's, 40's and 50's. A classic action adventure that's highly recommended.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Make Your Own Kind of Music

We both slept in a bit this morning. I was up around quarter of 9; read and wrote in my journal in bed until Lauren got up around 10. I had cereal and strawberries and she had a peanut butter oatmeal bar while watching a travel and British royal family-themed episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. "Europe In 30 Minutes" takes Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hamton across the pond for a whirlwind tour. They eventually end up at Buckingham Palace in London. Babs and Buster foil a plot to kidnap Princess Diana and Prince Charles; Hamton and Plucky avoid a royal chef who think they're on the palace menu.

It was lightly showering again when we headed out around 11 for a stroll in Oaklyn and Audubon. Our first stop was the House of Fun on the White Horse Pike. Lauren browsed in the wrestling figures and 80's action figures; I checked out the Star Wars shelves, DVDs, and stuffed animals. Lauren bought a "Rowdy" Roddy Piper figure from the 80's; I found Chewbacca and R2-D2 beanies from 1997 and a loose 12-inch C-3PO from the year before.

The rain was still coming down lightly as we made out way down the White Horse Pike and over to Market Street in Audubon. Our next stop was the used CD store Abbie Road, owned by kindly older music-lover Bob. He was having a big 3 CDs for five dollars sale. Lauren bought big band and jazz albums for her and her dad. I found:

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - Greatest Hits

Petula Clark - The Very Best of Petula Clark

Simon & Garfunkel - The Concert In Central Park (replaces a home-made cassette copy I've had since the late 90's!)

George Shearing Quintet - White Satin & Black Satin (Lauren found this one and offered it to me when she wasn't sure her dad would want it. I have their Satin Affair album and have been looking for the other "fabric" titles for years.)

The original Broadway casts for Pipe Dream, Anyone Can Whistle, and Monty Python's Spamalot

The rain was coming down a bit harder as we headed down Nicholson to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. I was hungry, and Lauren only had a Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Bar for breakfast, so next on the agenda was lunch at Sonic. Thankfully, the rain had slowed enough by this point to allow for eating outside...although needless to say, we were the only ones. Though the rain was slowing, it was warmer than expected and killer humid. Lauren had a double cheeseburger. I had a Breakfast Burrito. We both had tater tots and cherry limeades. I didn't realize my burrito came with pickled jalapenos. Yow! I drank my cherry limeade in a hurry! Next time, I think I'll get the Ultimate Burrito instead or try one of the other egg sandwiches.

We ducked into Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less to check them out. The weather must have scared people off - neither store was remotely busy. I didn't find anything, but Lauren picked up a nice lightweight yellow cardigan with flowing sleeves that can be draped around the arms at Ross. Peeked briefly at the Game Stop across the parking lot, but didn't come up with anything.

The rain was gone all together by the time we trooped over to the Acme to this week's grocery shopping. I didn't really need that much, anyway. Needed Scoops tortilla chips for dinner tonight, pie crusts for dinner next week, and bananas and the buy-one-get-one strawberries and raspberries for fruit this week. Had Monopoly coupons for yogurt and turkey pepperoni and a free coupon for Barilla pasta sauce. Restocked milk, cereal, and the inexpensive Acme generic Greek yogurt.

We were lucky. It was still just cloudy and humid when we finally strolled home. After we put everything away, we played an hour or so of Wii Sports. Lauren won both rounds of tennis and the bowling round, but I killed her at golf. We tied on baseball.

I made bean dip for dinner around 6. We had the bean dip and the leftover hummus from last week with the Scoops chips for a nutritious, simple, and tasty dinner. That bean dip always comes out so well! I don't think I've ever done a bad batch. I like adding just a little taco sauce with stock instead of the picante sauce called for. Gives it just the right amount of zip.

Ran the remaining two Garfield travel specials while I cooked and we had dinner. Garfield In Paradise takes Garfield, Odie, and Jon to a tropical island resort for some fun in the sun. They love their nifty 50's rental car...until it lands them among a tribe of doo-wop-worshipping natives whose volcano is about to go off!

Garfield and Odie get to show off their dancing paws in Garfield In Hollywood. They won a trip to La La Land after they came in first in a local pet talent contest. Garfield is determined to take first prize...but Jon is worried that winning might mean leaving him behind.

Since we still had plenty of time, we switched to the original Lego Indiana Jones. I got a walkthrough book at Jay Street Video Games a few months ago. Got through the first two rounds with Indy searching for the idol in the temple (complete with outrunning the infamous boulder!) and with Marion at her place and in the frozen landscape of Nepal.

Ended the night online after I got out of the shower while watching The Great Outdoors and streaming cartoons and vintage wrestling. Chet (John Candy) is looking forward to a relaxing vacation at a cabin in the woods with his wife Connie (Stephanie Faracy) and their two sons. That lasts for less than a day before Connie's rich investment broker brother Roman (Dan Ackroyd), his wife Kate (Annette Benning) and their twin daughters show up uninvited. Roman is determined to show up his brother-in-law with his posh lifestyle and constant investment schemes. Meanwhile, Chet's son Buck (Chris Young) is chasing a local girl (Lucy Deakins), but she gets upset when he breaks their date to watch his dad eat a massive steak. Matters come to a head during a thunderstorm, when Chet discovers that Roman isn't what he claims to be...and that family helps each other in times of crisis, even when they drive each other crazy.

Definitely an improvement on Summer Rental, this is a bit like like a cross between that film and screenwriter John Hughes' previous Candy hit Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...only here, it's the rich guy who is annoying the middle-class guy. Ackroyd's excellent comic timing is a big help here; his interaction Candy makes the movie a lot of fun. If you're a fan of Hughes or either actor, this is absolutely worth checking out.

Tomorrow, we're planning on hiding from the heavier rain in the Cherry Hill Mall and Hillview Shopping Center.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain

Got a fast start on a gloomy morning with breakfast and Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City takes her to the title city for the Big Bake Off. She's pitted against the Purple Pieman, who is determined to win that fancy gazebo. Good thing Strawberry makes a lot of new friends in Spinach Village, including eventual series regulars Lemon Meringue and Orange Blossom, who help her out.

It was just showering lightly when I headed out to the laundromat. They were surprisingly busy for 10:30 in the middle of the week, though I was able to get a washer and dryer fairly quick. I read The Women's Book of Courage and half-listened to Rachel Ray and The View. I didn't have much to do, anyway. I was out in 40 minutes.

When I got home, I put everything away, then watched two quick Disney shorts while having lunch. Chip and Dale's home tree is "Out of Scale" in Donald's model railroad. They initially settle in a miniature house on the set before finally coming to a compromise. They're "Two Chips and a Miss" when they compete for the affection of lovely chipmunk Clarice at a swank rodent nightclub.

Headed back out around quarter after 12. First stop was the Haddon Township Library. I was mainly there to return DVDs and Fortune's Fool, but I did do some volunteering. I put away one CD and as many DVDs as I could. The kids' and especially the adult titles were overloaded. They must have just gotten a ton back. I couldn't get half of them in.

Next up was counseling in Haddonfield. I pulled in to Mrs. Stahl's office just in time. I'd just sat down in her waiting room when her previous clients were on their way out. We mainly discussed my busy couple of months. I showed her the photos from the wedding and told her about what Lauren and I plan on doing during our vacation. I also explained that while some of the problematic managers at work are on extended leave or were moved elsewhere, I now have other problems. I panic badly when I'm just thrown into a register or pulled away from something I'm concentrating on.

Mrs. Stahl says to try to focus on breathing and trying to calm down when I get into the register, before I get crazy.

The rain showers, which had been falling lightly pretty much all day, were starting to pick up as I left Haddonfield, and the day was cold and gloomy. This was no day to linger. Instead of stopping for a water ice, I bought one of those tasty pecan logs at Dollar General instead. Lauren likes Pepsi - she says it helps with her digestion. I bought her a six-pack there. (They're cheaper there than at the Acme.)

When I got in, I made the bed, tidied around the apartment, and grabbed towels for Lauren. Tried some writing. Leia and the others head out to the busy Coruscant Marketplace. While riding by a booth filled with pets, Leia happens to notice cages holding furry-bear like creatures in leather head coverings that seem more like warriors than pets...

Gave up around 6 and ate tuna salad on a bed of greens and tomato for dinner. Watched One Crazy Summer while I ate and put a few things out for Lauren. Hoops McCann (John Cusack) is hoping to learn about life and love when he goes to Nantucket with his best friend. He falls for Cassandra (Demi Moore) on the way. Her grandfather's home may be lost to a snotty seafood restaurant owner and his spoiled son if they can't come up with enough money to pay them off within two weeks. With the help of the son of a military supply shop owner (Curtis Armstrong) and a pair of unalike twins, they do whatever they can to beat these jerks at their own game, including winning the local regatta.

While the finale is similar to the boat race in Summer Rental, this is otherwise a totally different movie, far wackier and more over-the-top. Fun 80's "slobs vs snobs" comedy if you're into director "Savage" Steve Holland's surreal brand of humor.

The rain was back to a light shower when Jessa picked me up at 7:30. I was late getting down, and we were slightly late picking up Lauren. No problems after that, though. She was right there when we picked her up, and there was no traffic anywhere. I'd kept up with Lauren via texting throughout the day. Despite the weather, she said she had no problems anywhere; the tracks were cleared by 6 AM.

Lauren settled down and I showed her the changes at my place (including my new doll Ariel), before we ended the night online with National Lampoon's Vacation. Clark Grizwold (Chevy Chase) is looking forward to a fun two-week car trip with his wife Ellen (Beverly Di Angelo) and two teen kids to Wally World, a theme park in California. Absolutely nothing goes the way Clark planned. Even before they leave, the car Clark ordered doesn't come in, and they're stuck with a clunker. They get lost in the bad part of St. Louis. Ellen's hillbilly cousins hit him up for money. A cranky aunt (Imogene Coca) hitches a ride to Phoenix. Clark keeps seeing a beautiful woman in a red sport car (Christie Brinkley) everywhere. He can only take so much before he snaps...and finally discovers that while no vacation is perfect, that doesn't mean they can't be memorable.

While this classic comedy is a bit dated, with some gross gags and the scene in St. Louis that don't come off well today, most of it still plays pretty well, including the ultimate fate of that cranky aunt.

Tomorrow, Lauren and I are likely going to go for a nice stroll in Oaklyn and Audubon, checking out favorite stores like Abbie Road Music and The House of Fun.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Getting Ready for Vacation

It was gorgeous when I got up this morning, hot and sunny. It was a wonderful day to tidy up the apartment! After breakfast, I aired out the rag rug in the bedroom and the welcome rug in the kitchen, vacuumed, covered the loveseat cushions with a sheet (Lauren sleeps on the loveseat when she's here), scrubbed the bathroom sink and toilet, and went over everything that showed with a dust rag.

Ran Summer Rental as I worked. Jack Chester (John Candy) is a burnt-out air traffic controller who is pretty much forced to take a month's vacation with his family after causing a mix-up at work. At first, everything seems fine - their house is gorgeous, with a private beach. Things start going wrong even before they realize they're at the wrong address. Jack gets sunburned badly, the actual house is a dilapidated hulk on a noisy party beach, and he gets into a feud with stuck-up local big-shot Al Pellet (Richard Crenna). When Pellet ends up owning the house and tries to throw them out, Jack insists they can beat him at the town's regatta. He turns to his friend Scully (Rip Torn), who has been teaching him the ins and outs of sailing. Scully and his crew own a parked boat/restaurant, the Barnacle, that's perfect for the race. The rest of the family finally joins Jack, Scully, and his renegades in restoring the boat and entering the race, proving that the family that works together, kicks snob rear together.

Very 80's comedy that's evidently based after a real-life bad beach vacation producer Bernie Brillstein had. While not as horrible as critics claimed at the time, it's nothing you haven't seen in countless other comedies about summer adventures or "slobs vs snobs." Necessary if you're a fan of Candy; decent time-waster for anyone else.

Switched to Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA as I moved outside to sweep the porch. The fuzzy seed pods - and the pollen - have been absolutely dreadful this year. I got a big tumbleweed of the things off the porch, then pushed another off the sagging side, climbing around the railing as best I could with the bad hand.

Had lunch and got ready for work while watching an episode of Moonlighting. "Money Talks - Maddie Walks" in the early second season when Maddie finds out that her accountant who stole her money ran off with his ill-gotten gains to Buenos Aires. She follows him to his new casino, hoping to win her money back. David goes after her.

Work was even quieter than yesterday. We weren't even busy at rush hour. For one thing, at that point, it was still a beautiful day, sunny, humid, and really too warm for this time of year, in the upper 80's. For another, we're between holidays. It probably won't get busy again until Memorial Day weekend. I did a few returns when I came in, but I spent the majority of the day outside gathering carts.

Got lucky a few times, too. One of the grocery managers had a birthday today. There was a cake with wonderfully sweet icing for him in the back lounge room that we all got to share. And the woman in charge of the self-checkout registers didn't want the other half of her turkey hoagie and offered it to me, as she'd been eating outside and I was still doing carts. That was perfect. I wouldn't need to cook dinner on a hot day when I was dead tired from being outside for so long.

(The only fly in the ointment today, so to speak, was that pollen. I spent most of the day sneezing, with watery eyes and a runny nose, even after I took allergy medicine.)

Grabbed a box of tissues on the way out, then headed home. Watched Garfield In the Rough while eating the hoagie and two strawberry muffins. Garfield is less than thrilled when Jon announces that they're going camping. Where's his TV and lasagna? He's no sooner gotten used to the idea of communicating with nature when they learn that there's a panther loose in the area...and they could be its next victims if they don't evacuate soon!

Spent a few hours writing after dinner. Everyone separates into different carts. Leia rides on Luke. Wedge and his men lead the groups that will invade Solo Castle. Ahsoka and the Rebels crew will create a distraction in the marketplace to keep the guards from the castle. Lando and his men will fight the guards at the castle's entrance.

Jyn asks Leia about Han. She sadly explains that he was kidnapped by Palpatine and taken to Solo Castle, and that he was the prince they were looking for. Leia can no longer feel Han's energy in the Force, and she and Luke are very worried about him. Chirrut, Baze, Cyril, and Artello (via flute) all agree that they'll help her find the missing prince, no matter what.

Broke at 8 for a shower, and then to watch The Great Muppet Caper while going online. Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo are reporters and a photographer for a big city paper who are sent to cover the story of London fashion designer Lady Holliday (Diana Rigg) whose diamond necklace was stolen. Kermit almost immediately runs into Miss Piggy, who is hoping to become a model. She lies about being Lady Holliday at first to gain Kermit's favor. He takes her out to a fancy nightclub (supper club)...where there's a second jewel robbery. Piggy is framed by Lady Holliday's dastardly brother Nick (Charles Grodin), who has an odd crush on her. It'll take all the Muppets' creativity and ability to work together to save Lady Holliday's "Baseball Diamond" from being stolen by the real thieves!

My personal favorite Muppet movie along with Muppets Take Manhattan is one of their funniest, with enough four walls broken to start a brick store. Grodin's especially having fun as the obvious bad guy with a thing for pigs. If you love the Muppets, comic mysteries, or are just looking for a good family movie, this is one of their better ones.

Thankfully, the dark clouds didn't arrive until almost a half-hour after I got home. It's thunderstormed for most of the evening. Lauren is worried about downed branches on the New York-Albany track. She doesn't leave until 11 - hopefully, they'll have them cleared by then.

Monday, May 14, 2018

When the Sun Came Out

The clouds from yesterday lingered as I rolled out of bed this morning. It remained cool and windy, though not as cool as yesterday. Ran some Backyardigans as I had corn meal mush and a half of a grapefruit for breakfast. Austin, Pablo, and Uniqua are on a "Mission to Mars" to find out what that strange "boinga boinga" sound is. Tyrone and Tasha are their Mission Control.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon writing. Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar outline their plan. Lando and Leia will lead two groups in an assault on Solo Castle to rescue Prince Henry, while the others will provide distractions and keep the guards away from Palpatine. Jyn and her guys and Artello and Cyril all agree to go with Leia; Hera and her family will go with Lando. Wedge and his boys will lead the group to a secret servants' entrance in the back of the castle.

Broke a little bit earlier than usual for lunch, around quarter of 12. Continued with The Backyardigans as I had a quick lunch and got ready for work. "Samurai Pie" is one of the most bizarre episodes this series ever did. How many kids shows have you seen with pie-baking samurai (Tyrone and Austin) creating the Great Pie for the Empress (Tasha) while avoiding pie-stealing ninjas (Uniqua and Pablo), set to spaghetti western music?

I left a little early in order to volunteer at the Oaklyn Library before work. I'm not going to have the time for them tomorrow or Wednesday! Maybe it's just as well. It wasn't long before closing, and the library was totally empty besides me and the librarian. I organized DVDs, looked over the kids' books, and moved on to the Acme.

Work proved to be no problem whatsoever. Not only are we now between holidays again, the clouds vanished as early as noon. It had suddenly turned into a sunny, breezy spring day in the mid-70's. Though we did get a little busy around the usual 4 PM rush hour, it was otherwise quiet for most of the night. I spent the day doing returns, bagging, and gathering carts; also helped cleaned up a broken pickle jar dropped by a woman organizing our displays. (She was so nice and helpful!)

It was so gorgeous, I took the long way home down Nicholson Road. We're supposed to get showers for the next few days, including while Lauren's here. I won't have too many more chances to enjoy a nice ride before she comes! It was a little busy on Nicholson Road; otherwise, the traffic wasn't too horrible. The trees are looking greener every day. Gardens are now filled with deep purple irises and azaleas in every color of the rainbow.

When I got home, I had scrambled eggs with asparagus and tomatoes while watching one more Backyardigans episode. Austin's ready for his first "Race Around the World." Uniqua, Tyrone, and Pablo have already won gold medals. Austin's ready to show that he can win his own medal...but what he really proves is how important it is to be prepared for anything.

Put on Dog Day Afternoon while I made Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Bars from the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies recipe in Kit's Cooking Studio, and later while online. Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) and his buddies Sal (John Cazale) and Stevie (John Springer) hold up a bank in Brooklyn...but this is their first heist, and in all honesty, they're not very good at it. Almost everyone in the bank calls them on it at one time or another. In fact, Stevie loses his nerve and runs out early. Sonny's even less thrilled when he discovers that the bank has already had their pick-up and doesn't have that much money left. Sonny grabs checks instead, then burns the bank's register...which alerts the police that something is wrong. They hold the bank employees hostage, even after Sergeant Moretti (Charles Durning) turns off the lights and air conditioning. Turns out Sonny is partially robbing the bank to fund his current wife Leon's (Chris Sarandon) change into a full woman. Even as events rapidly spiral out of control, Sonny's anti-establishment ranting and being relatively decent to the frightened employees turns him into something of a hero among the crowds.

If you ever wondered if a movie that's three-fourths Al Pacino shouting curse words and anti-establishment rants would be entertaining..well, here's your answer. This is an intense and darkly humorous stand-off between a guy who's not having an easy time and a cop who would rather he didn't do it around people. Durning and Pacino give career-best performances; Pacino and Chris Sarandon got Oscar nods, as did the film and director Sidney Lumet. (The original screenplay won.) If you're a fan of Pacino, heist films, or the movies of the 70's, this is absolutely essential viewing.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

More I Cannot Wish You

Began a gloomy morning with some Mother's Day reading from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. The short story was a really cute piece about a little Ukrainian girl who is lost while her parents are cutting wheat in the fields. She asks people where her mother is, claiming that "my mother is the most beautiful woman in the world!" She may not be to others, but to the little girl, she's all things comfortable and safe.

Made Banana Brown Sugar Pancakes for breakfast while listening to Gypsy. I have the original 1959 Broadway cast featuring Ethel Merman in her most famous role as Mama Rose, the ultimate stage mother. Rose is bound and determined that her daughters are going to be stars in vaudeville. She couldn't have picked a worse time to shove them into it. It's the late 20's, and the one-two-three punch of talkies, radio, and the onset of the Great Depression is killing vaudeville. She also tries to keep her younger daughter June in child roles well into her teen years and ignores her shier daughter Louise. The girls do eventually become stage actress June Havoc and mystery novelist and striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, largely without their mother's help. 

You can't go wrong with any version of this musical. It's one of the most beloved musicals ever made for a reason. Angela Landsbury appeared as Rose in a London and Broadway revival in the mid-70's. Tyne Daly was in a Broadway revival in 1989. Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone both showed up in Broadway revivals staged within a decade of each other in the 2000's. Imelda Staunton was in the most recent revival in England in 2015. Bette Midler starred in a TV version in 1993. (Rosalind Russell was Rose in the 1962 movie, but I'm pretty sure she was dubbed.) All should be on CD and/or online, and the Russell and Midler movies are on DVD and Blu-Ray. 

Called my own mother quickly after breakfast. Mom was at work, but she did say that she'd gotten the card she sent and she appreciated it. Mom works at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal in North Cape May, taking tickets. I imagine she was probably pretty busy this weekend, regardless of the weather. A lot of people may have wanted to take their moms to Lewes and the outlets in Rehoboth Beach for the holiday.

Headed out shortly after the CD ended. Work was a madhouse when I got in, with lines down the aisles. I started out doing returns, then got stuck in the registers for almost an hour. "It'll only be five minutes!" That's what the manager said. Then it really got crazy. At least most people were in decent moods as they shopped for (or sometimes with) their mothers. I panicked so badly, they finally took me off and put me on bagging. I spent the rest of the day bagging, gathering plastic bags, and doing the carts. 

I did get lucky in one way. It rained this morning, but by the time I went to work, the rain was long gone. It did shower a little while I was doing returns early in my shift, but once again, it was gone when I went home. I got in dry. 

I was so hungry when I got home, I had leftovers for dinner right away while listening to Donna Summer's On the Radio. Did a little bit of writing after I ate. Chirrut and Baze express their concern for Han, whom they'd become friendly with during the trip after Scarif. Leia is about to explain Han's real identity when Mon Mothma and crusty, fishy old Admiral Ackbar silences the room. Mothma, the most outspoken advocate of Palpatine in the Royal Council, has just learned that most of Palpatine's guards will be among the people during the Mid-Summer Festival, leaving Solo Castle and Palpatine himself unprotected. Ackbar takes over to explain their military strategy...

Broke at 8 for a shower. Put on the 1959 original cast album for The Sound of Music when I got out (and to cover Charlie screaming at the dogs downstairs again). Beloved stage star Mary Martin headlines as Maria here, winning a Tony (over Ethel Merman in Gypsy) for her work. The movie changed quite a few things from the stage show. "My Favorite Things" is sung by Maria and the Abbess when Maria's trying to explain why she's always such a clown; she performs "The Lonely Goatherd" to calm the children during that thunderstorm instead. Max and the Captain's original fiancee Baroness Elsa had two rather sarcastic numbers, "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It." Neither made it into the film version, possibly because they really don't jive with the show's optimistic tone. Maria and the Captain's big romantic moment was originally "An Ordinary Couple," also cut from the movie in favor of "Something Good."

I honestly prefer the film version. The cast is better, the music is better, and the placement is better. This is one of the very few musicals that was actually enhanced on the way to the big screen. The original cast is really for fans of Sound of Music, Rogers and Hammerstein, or Martin.

Ended the night with another favorite musical from earlier in the 50's, Guys and Dolls. The "guys" are gamblers who keep having to find a new place for their floating crap (dice) game. Head gambler Nathan Detroit makes a bet with smooth Sky Masterson, who will bet on pretty much anything, that he can take the lovely Sarah Brown, a member of the Save-a-Soul Mission, to Havana for dinner. Though she resists at first, Sky does manage to pull it off after he promises to bring the mission a full house of sinners. They fall for each other in Havana, at least until Sarah thinks he's been using the mission for gambling. Meanwhile, Nathan's stripper girlfriend Adelaide is dealing with a nasty cold, due to her boyfriend's inability to hurry up and propose.

I listened to the original cast from 1950 tonight...but despite some good performances (notably Vivian Blane and Sam Levene as the gambler and the woman who wishes he'd actually pay attention to her) I like the more dynamic 1992 revival cast with Nathan Lane and Peter Gallagher better. Blaine also appeared in the 1955 movie, with Frank Sinatra as Nathan and Marlon Brando as Sky, which is pretty good but is also missing music (a lot of songs were cut). 

Once again, the next round of thunderstorms didn't show up until well after I'd gotten home and online (and had gone downstairs to get a box of snacks Lauren sent for our vacation from Charlie). Hopefully, it won't be too bad for the next few days. I have a lot to do before Lauren arrives, including laundry, library trips, and counseling.