Thursday, July 02, 2015

Yankee Doodle Rain

It was raining when I got up this morning. It continued as I cleaned the bathroom. I put it off last week to write, but I couldn't put it off any longer. The whole room was really grungy. I'll see if I can get the kitchen, which is also a mess, done tomorrow.

The rain ended around 10; it was just starting again when I arrived at work. Needless to say, between the weather, some huge sales, and this being the beginning of the month, we were busy all day. Thankfully, the upcoming holiday had generally put people in decent moods. There were no major problems, and my relief was one of the few older women who work late and is usually dependable.

As soon as I got home, I went straight in the bath. Ahhhhh. I badly needed a bath. I haven't had a bath in a while. I know this is going to be a busy weekend. I won't be having my next day off until at least Tuesday, and that for counseling. I listened to my Rosemary Clooney 16 Most Requested Songs CD I bought last month and looked over cake decorating books for ideas for the Fourth of July.

When I got out of the bath, I made scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and the last chicken sausage while finishing Yankee Doodle Dandy, which I started this morning. James Cagney won an Oscar as George M. Cohan, stage star of the early 20th century who acted, produced, directed, and wrote plays and musicals. Today, he's best known for writing frequently patriotic-flavored songs that are still beloved today, including "Over There," "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Harrigan," "Mary's a Grand Old Name," and the title number.

What I like about this movie is, even though the biography is far from accurate (Cohan was still alive at the time and had the final ok on what could and couldn't be discussed), the musical numbers do capture the flavor and essence of the early 1900's. The "Little Johnny Jones" medley are my favorites - I feel like this is the closest I'll ever get to seeing a real musical from Cohan's time. If you're a fan of Cagney, Cohan's music, or theatrical history, this one is a stirring bit of musical patriotism that's highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Tales of A Cat, a Dog, and a Barnyard Crew

Started the day with a couple of Garfield and Friends episodes. This show loved to parody fairy and folk tales, especially in its later seasons. The two-part U.S Acres story "Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs" somehow casts Wade as Snow White, Lanolin as the Queen, Roy as the Prince, and Orson and the chicks as the hunts-animals. Roy, however, refuses to kiss Snow Wade. Garfield becomes "The Pie-Eyed Piper" when a lazy king makes Jon try to rid Hamlin of its rats problem. When the king won't pay Jon or Garfield, Garfield takes matters into his own paws. "Jon the Barbarian" falls in love with a nasty barbarian's lady. Garfield just wants his lunch. After Jon can't become a barbarian, Garfield figures out a way to trick the gluttonous warrior.

My original plan for today was to volunteer at Studio LuLoo. They weren't open when I arrived around 11:30. I wonder if it had anything to do with the sewer department working on the water pipes on my end of Manor? Phillies Phatties looked like they were open. It was too nice of a day to go home right away, though. While it was warmer and a little more humid than yesterday, it still wasn't out of line for the first day of July. I went for a ride around the neighborhood, then picked up contact lens solution at CVS.

I had just enough time for a really quick lunch when I got in, along with one more Garfield and Friends U.S Acres episode. "Once Upon a Time Warp" gives us a weird lesson in world history when Orson reads about great moments in history to Wade to inspire him to ask Roy for the five dollars he owes him. Roy doesn't want to give up the cash and sabotages Orson's efforts.

(Thankfully, the water seemed to be back on at this point as well. Everyone in the neighborhood got a paper yesterday that it would be off for four hours while they worked on the pipes.)

I was surprised that work was only on-and-off steady. Between huge sales and this being the first day of the month, I thought it would be a lot busier. I guess people are waiting for the holiday weekend. A lot of folks may have taken advantage of the nice weather and left for the Shore early, too. At any rate, other than some grouchy customers (and grouchy managers), there were no major problems, and I was able to get out quickly again without a relief.

When I got home, I did a quick Looney Tunes short that had fun with fairy tales while having leftovers for dinner. Bugs rescues Hansel and Gretel from being eaten by Witch Hazel in "Broomstick Bunny." Undaunted, Hazel decides that rabbit stew would taste even better! At least until the prince tries to kiss Bugs awake...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wild Stooge West

It was a little warmer and a bit more humid when I headed out on foot for this week's volunteering session at the Oaklyn Library. I mainly organized DVDs. They did have a couple of people coming in to take things out while I was there, including a family with a couple of little boys, but otherwise, it wasn't that busy.

I headed out around 12:30 for lunch. Decided to keep things simple and picked up a hoagie at a very busy WaWa. I noticed one of their Icee flavors was cherry limeade. I love cherry limeade anything. Despite it being lime green, it was really more cherry than lime. Pretty tasty, though. I settled on a roast beef classic hoagie, which I ate at home when I finally got in.

Watched The Outlaws Is Coming! as I ate. This western spoof was the Three Stooges' last starring feature film. This time, the Stooges join a dedicated nature reporter (Adam West...yes, the Batman one) who is trying to find out why the buffalo are vanishing so quickly from the prairies. They discover a foul plot by an outlaw gang to eliminate the buffalo and stir up the Indians, so the Calvary will be too distracted to stop their thefts. While West deals with wild Annie Oakley, the Stooges reform a motley group of outlaws who are among the most famous in....well, in kids' TV.

Though the Stooges get some nifty gags, including the whole deal with Curly Joe's animal-calling horn, this one is mainly of interest for baby boomers who'll remember the local TV hosts who appear as the famous bandits. (Including long-time Philadelphia host Sally Starr as Belle Starr.)

I decided to try something while the movie was on. The remaining peaches I bought from the Acme last week were starting to get soft. I tossed in some blueberries, sprinkled them with sugar, added a brown sugar-whole wheat flour-butter-oatmeal topping, and made Peach-Blueberry Crisp. Not bad. Tart and earthy and just sweet enough.

Work was on-and-off busy. Other than some grouchy beginning-of-the-month customers (and a few grouchy managers), there were no really big problems. I got lucky. It rained off and on, but the clouds hadn't arrived by 3, and it wasn't doing anything when I went home at 9.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Perfect Sunny Day

Began a gorgeous day with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and peaches sprinkled with sugar and a couple of public domain Popeye and Betty Boop shorts. It's Popeye-rella to the rescue in "Ancient Fistory" when Bluto goes after the fair Princess Olive. The two are "Taxi-Turvy" as they compete to see who can get Olive to her destination. "Betty In Blunderland" takes animation's sexiest flapper into the world of Lewis Carroll as she follows the White Rabbit down a subway hole to a surreal Wonderland. Betty is a legal stenographer, but what she really wants to be is "Judge For a Day" so she can pass sentence on all the people who annoy her on her way to work.

The first order of business of the day was getting the laundry done. I hadn't seen it so quiet in there in weeks. I guess the nice day encouraged people to be elsewhere. I listened to The Price Is Right and the news and read the American Girl History Mystery Shadows In the Glasshouse. I only got half-way through the tale of a young girl who is kidnapped to be an indentured slave at a glass works in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1621. I'll finish it next week.

When I got home, I put everything away, then went right back out. I was actually glad I had a lot to do. There couldn't have been a nicer day in late June. The sun was shining. The breeze was blowing. It was warm, probably in the upper 70's-lower 80's, but not that hot, and not at all humid. If the Acme could only give me one day off this week, this was the day for it.

Had lunch at Friendly's around 1:30. There were a few older couples and grandparents with grandkids enjoying a treat. Friendly's is having a five dollar meal deal...and the meal was finally something I'd eat. The other items they have as part of the deal this summer are either too spicy or have crispy chicken in them. I don't like breaded chicken. The Honey BBQ Burger is better - bacon and crispy onions with melted cheese on a brioche roll. The ranch and barbecue dressing was tasty but did make eating it a bit difficult. It was deliciously savory, but very slippery.

The Haddon Township Library was quite busy when I arrived, mainly with people using the computers. Once again, I actually managed to fit all the kids' titles onto the spinning racks, even the Scooby Doo DVDs. The kids volunteering that day did the overflowing adult titles, but I did get to the new book releases and the CDs and audio books. Didn't take anything out - I have a busy week ahead, and I have plenty to watch for the holiday and that I still haven't watched from vacation.

Made a quick stop at Thriftway next. Their generic whole wheat flour is cheaper than the brand-name prices Acme. I also picked up Mazola Canola Oil on sale for $2.99. They were dead as a doornail - I was in and out in 20 minutes.

Decided on a treat at Common Grounds Coffee House in Oaklyn on my way home. Unfortunately, their Frozen Vanilla Coffee Frappe had a little too much coffee flavor in it for me! I drank what I could of my indulgence outside at a wrought iron table, writing down notes for Captain Victor, Man of Power and the first of my Remember WENN fairy tales, Scott White and the Seven Actors.

I started Scott's fairy tale when I got in. Each fairy tale is based around a couple of episodes that spotlight the character - in this case, "Who's Scott Sherwood?" and "The New Actor." The prologue is set a few days after "Who's Scott Sherwood?" Scott is at home, wondering where to go next after his firing. He's listening to WENN and hears them doing "Snow White" on a kids' show. He thinks about Betty's strange behavior and Pruitt's gloating. As he listens to the story, he complains he'd never liked it - the prince has little to do, and Snow White is too passive. He contemplates how he would have gotten Betty to juice up the story....

Which takes us out west to Colorado. Scott is now a gambler who is on his way home to his mother's ranch. He encounters Betty Prince, a pretty reporter, on the train to Wennton. Seems someone's been buying up seemingly worthless land in the area and forcing people to leave their homes. Betty thinks there's something devious going on. Scott offers to help, but Betty can see him for the con-artist he is and brushes him off. He's still intrigued by her, though...and now, he's worried about his mother's own lands...

I got offline around 6 to have leftovers for dinner and dub Blonde Crazy. This pre-code comedy takes James Cagney out of gangster mode and into Scott Sherwood's world of con-men and smart ladies. Cagney is Bert, a bellhop with aspirations to make money, money, and more money. Joan Blondell is Anne, a chambermaid who becomes his partner in crime when the two start setting up cons together. She wishes he saw her as more than his business partner. When he does finally fall for her, it's too late. She's in love with a seemingly respectable broker (Fredrick March). They go their separate ways, but they realize they both made a mistake when she comes to him one last time to get him to help the broker out of a jam.

This breezy tale of con artists and the rich folks they fleece is such fun, it's really rather a disappointment when it takes a hard left turn into melodrama for the last twenty minutes or so. Cagney and Blondell always did play well off each other, and this movie is no exception. Today, this movie is mainly remembered for the scene where Cagney is sparring with Blondell while she's in the bathtub. (It's so famous, it's on the cover of the Forbidden Hollywood Warner Archives set this was released in.)

If you're a fan of Cagney and Blondell or pre-code movies, despite the dark ending, this is mainly a fun comic caper that's worth checking out at the Warner Archives.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Red, White, and Blue Dolls

I slept until nearly 10; I didn't get going until 11. I made some delicious Zucchini Pancakes while listening to Yankee Doodle Mickey. This Disneyland kids' record, probably from the early 80's, is a collection of patriotic-themed songs featuring the regular Disney characters, the Disneyland Chorus, and a very young Molly Ringwauld. "The Liberty Tree," the only original song, is fun; I also like Mickey, Donald, and Goofy's medley saluting the Armed Services.

Spent the rest of the early afternoon dressing the American Girls in red, white, and blue or patriotic summer outfits appropriate for next month. Molly now wears her Camp Gowanigan uniform and blue and white saddle shoes. Samantha's in her Sailor Middy Outfit and Tam (which she's worn every summer since I got her in 1993). Josefina looks very pretty in her Indigo Skirt and Camisa with her rebozo and meet accessories. Jessa's in the hand-made "antiqued"-look red, white, and blue print peasant blouse Lauren sent for Christmas and Springfield Collection capris and sneakers with no socks. Whitney looks adorable in the now-retired AG Revue Tap Dance costume from the stores with the red and blue sequined trim and glittery red tap shoes. I left Felicity in her outfit from last month - the blue and white floral print suits the holiday, and I really don't have much for her.

I listened to my 50's CD collection that I bought from Abbie Road last year. Most people think of the music of the 1950's as being either early rock or doo-wop. The truth of the matter is...most of it was just as likely to be tearful ballads, remakes of songs from as far back as the 20's, or exotic tunes based around ports of call like Hawaii. Some of those ballads could be really lovely - my favorites were the Platters' classic version of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," Rosemary Clooney's "Half as Much," "Fascination" by Jane Morgan and the Troubadours, and Pearl Bailey's zesty "Takes Two to Tango."

It took me so long to get the dolls dressed, I was almost late for work! Work was surprisingly steady for a Sunday. It's usually a lot busier than that. I'm guessing everyone's waiting for the holiday and the beginning of the month next week. They may also have fled for the Shore once the rain vanished. I did have some problems with break. I thought the manager said I could go on break, but she wanted someone else to. The other guy didn't have any problem with it, but I felt bad after I found out the manager wanted him to go first. And why do they have to kick up a fuss because people leave a minute or two early when it's dead as a doornail? That's just silly. Why hang around and do nothing when there's nothing to do?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rainy Day at the Farm Market

Started a gloomy, damp day with a run to the Collingswood Farm Market. I had to get it done today. I won't be able to make it to the Colllingswood or Westmont farm markets next week. It was showering lightly when I arrived. They were still busy with people buying food for their graduation parties and barbecues. Asparagus is gone, but I did see the last of the strawberries and the first of the Jersey tomatoes. I bought two pints of blueberries, a tomato, cherries, strawberries, two small organic zucchini and a small organic yellow squash (they were three for a dollar), and snap peas. I did see a few yard sales on my way to Collingswood, but they were shutting down even as I headed back to my place.

When I got home, I put everything away and finished out Scooby Doo, Where are You?, which I began during breakfast this morning. The gang discovers that "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair" when a ghostly Witch Doctor scares off the natives from a supposedly cursed village. Then their guide mysteriously disappears. They go to check out the village...and find that it's guarded by a gigantic living statue!

"Don't Fool With a Phantom" finishes out the second season and the show's original run. The kids are competing in a local dance show that's robbed by a creature made of wax. A former employee insists he made the creature come to life. A search at the wax museum reveals otherwise as the kids try to trick the phantom into getting trapped in his own wax.

Switched to more Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater as I made quick Zucchini-Coconut-Chocolate Chip Cookies from a cake mix. A horror-themed disc begins with the series finale, "The Phantom of the Theater." Someone is playing pranks on Kitty and her friends backstage. They're determined to find out who doesn't want the show to go on.

"Frankencat" and "Catula" are fairly straight spoofs of those two famous horror stories. Catnip is the famous mad scientist and Grinder her creation in the former; My Melody is the little girl Grinder befriends. "Catula" gives Catnip the chance to play a more glamorous villain as she terrorizes Hello Kitty, Sam, Chip, and My Melody in her castle.

"The Pawed Piper" plays a little looser with the famous poem about the musician (Tuxedo Sam) who steals away the children of a town when the Mayor (Catnip) won't pay him for getting rid of pests (fleas, in this case). "Rumpledogskin" has Hello Kitty as the daughter who has to spin straw to gold. The title character (Grinder) gives her a way out, but she has to promise him her first born child (My Melody)...a promise she can't bring herself to keep.

It was still spitting when I rode to work. I arrived a little damp, but not soaked. Work was very busy when I arrived. It gradually slowed down as the rain got harder on and off throughout the afternoon. By the time I finished, we were dead...and the rain was coming down in buckets. I got off easily with no relief. There were no major problems; I was in and out after I got milk and a cinnamon raisin bagel for a snack.

The shower was far heavier when I got out. I tried waiting for it to slow down, but after ten minutes, it didn't happen. I needed a shower when I got home, anyway. I just rode home and got pre-wet. It was raining heavily up until about a half-hour ago; it seems to have lightened considerably since then.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Time For Turtles and Fairy Tales

Started today with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time. The last of the 90's Turtles movies also has the most unusual premise. The Turtles and April O'Neal are sent back in time by a strange Japanese scepter. They land in feudal Japan, where a warlord may be receiving a shipment of guns from a nasty English soldier to help him quell a peasant rebellion. The locals regard the Turtles as friendly demons...and April as a not-so-friendly witch! While April spars with a familiar member of the Englishman's troop, the Turtles try to figure out where the scepter went and help the young woman in charge of the rebellion make sure those guns never end up in enemy hands.

By the time this one came out in the mid-90's, the shine had long been off the Turtles franchise. This was a failure with fans and critics alike. I'm inclined to disagree. I found the change of scenery to be a breath of fresh air and liked seeing the Turtles interact with a part of world history that isn't often discussed outside of Japan. The big problems here are occasionally stiff dialogue, some too-goofy situations (like the warlords in the bar towards the end) that clash with the history, and the lousy special effects. The Turtles' costumes look like they were rented from a cheap store in their native New York.

If you're a fan of the Turtles and are willing to go a little outside of the sewer with them, give this one a shot. If you can get around the poor special effects and the clashing tones, it's not really as bad as most people claim it is.

I made Chocolate Muffins from the Alton Brown baking book I'm Just Here for More Food. I replaced the white sugar with brown sugar and vanilla extract with peppermint extract (I was out of vanilla) and added dark-chocolate chips. Otherwise, this came out very well, moist and delicious and quite chocolate-y.

Work was a lot busier today than it was earlier in the week. Next week is the beginning of the month; some people may have gotten their money already. Thankfully, there were no really major problems. My relief was on time, and I got out quickly.

Mixed feelings on next week's schedule. On one hand, I have tons of hours and only one day off, Monday, which I could use considering my low bank account. On the other hand, I'm not thrilled with a late night on Tuesday, or working 10 to 4 on the Fourth of July. I'll get to see the fireworks...but I'll miss Oaklyn's parade and both farm markets.

I didn't have a huge grocery trip, but I did need a few things, starting with a major baking restock - white flour, cocoa. Needed cheese and canned black beans after last night's dinner. Found shrimp and crab cakes with manager's coupons. Took advantage of a sale on chicken to grab a package of drumsticks at a decent price.

When I got in, I had shrimp and leftovers for dinner while watching the Fairie Tale Theatre version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Vincent Price (as the Magic Mirror) narrates this very traditional take on the Grimm's story. Elizabeth MacGovern is the lovely lass who runs afoul of her vain stepmother (Vanessa Redgrave) and hides out with seven very funny dwarves. Meanwhile, a handsome prince (Rex Smith) has been hearing stories about this beauty from the smitten dwarves, and would like to meet her...if her jealous stepmother will give her the chance....