Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer In Atlantic City

I slept in today - I won't be able to sleep in tomorrow! I work at 8 AM. Since I'll be working early for the next two days, I thought I'd have a little fun today. I rode over to the PATCO around 11 and took the 11:23 to Lindenwald. The train to Atlantic City was a little late, but not too bad. Good thing, too. The 12:02 was packed! Literally. The train conductor had to keep telling people to move to the back cars and the front cars. I'd never seen so many people on their way to AC.

The traffic was bad when I arrived, too. I assumed it was because of the nice day. It was hot, a bit hotter than yesterday, but not humid, and a heavy wind kept things from getting too warm. Had a quick lunch of those Spicy Chicken Wonton Tacos at Applebee's after I arrived. It was rather busy for 1:30. I assumed it was the tail end of the lunch crowd.

I browsed in the Tanger Outlets next. This large mall area is the first thing you see if you enter Atlantic City through the Expressway. I didn't do all that well. I did find a cute turquoise and black floral-print skirt at Layne Bryant, but they had nothing in my size at Eddie Bauer, and nothing of interest at Toys R' Us. Much to my disappointment, the Disney Store I bought my toddler Merdia doll at two years ago was gone as well.

I finally just dodged the traffic and the scores of people toting folding chairs and headed for the Boardwalk. I went in the opposite direction from my last couple of Atlantic City trips, towards the Tropicana and Trump Plaza instead of the Taj Mahal. Might as well go this way while the Plaza's still open. A stage area set up for a concert revealed what all the crowds and traffic was about, not to mention the balloons and ads all over the boardwalk for South Jersey country station Cat Country. A popular country star, Blake Sheldon, had a free concert on the beach tonight. Alas, the concert was at 6. The latest train I could get away with catching was the 5:52. There wouldn't be another one until 8:15! I wasn't staying in Atlantic City that late.

I wandered around the boardwalk for a couple of hours. Stopped at one of those 99 cent stores with ancient knick-knacks that Matt at Dinosaur Dracula loves. While I didn't find anything nearly as cool as he did, I did pick up a rather pretty lace-trimmed floral fan (I always loved fans as a kid - they seemed so elegant) and a can of Diet Rite, which I haven't seen since I was a kid. The Diet Rite was surprisingly tasty - I never remembered RC Cola and Diet Rite being that good in the 80s.

Played skee ball and some of the Wheel of Fortune machines at the Playcade. I also tried Pac Man for the first time in years. Got pretty far at it, too, up to the second peach screen. I ultimately won a small plastic trumpet and six peppermint hard candies. My American Girl dolls will get the trumpet.

I dropped by Steel's Fudge for my favorite fruit slices. They had flavors I'd never seen before, like apple, pear, pomegranate, and pineapple. I got a 1/4 pound of the latter two to save for a treat later or tomorrow, and a coconut macaroon for right there.

By that point, it was past quarter of 5. Time to head back. I first stopped at one of the numerous t-shirt shops for one of the main reasons I went there. The Atlantic City t-shirt I bought a few years was worn out. It was time to get a new one. I bought one with a simple red, white, blue, and yellow Atlantic City lettering that looked nicely faded. It took a while for me to buy it, as there were two women haggling over the cheap trinkets under the glass counter.

I wasn't originally going to check out the Pier Shops, a huge high-end mall, but I saw a giant, bright colored candy store and couldn't resist taking a peek. It'Sugar had every kind of confection you could imagine...ironically except for fruit slices. I didn't see any, and what I did see was pricey, including the giant stuffed Nerds. I just went in the main mall instead.

The main mall wasn't that much more exciting. While it was certainly prettier than it had been when I was in college and would occasionally shop there, the fancy stores carried nothing of interest to me. The fountains were lovely and soothing, but the whole mall was much too dark, especially around closed stores. I could barely read some of the signage. The upstairs was especially dark and foreboding, for all the blue lights in the ceiling that were supposed to look like stars. I hurried down a wide ramp, hoping to find my way back to the boardwalk.

I did not find the boardwalk. Instead, I strolled into a world of flashing lights, card dealers, and lemons and 7s. I forgot that Caesers' is connected to the Pier Shops and had ended up on their casino floor. I had neither the time nor the funds for gambling, so I just kept right on going, following the signs around the casino area and across the glass and carpet walkway over the street that connects one part of Caesers' to another. The walkway took me past several gift shops and to an elevator, which finally took me to a bakery and cafe and the lobby. I finally ended up back on the street near Bally's. I now knew where I was. I just followed the crowds straight down to the Rail Station behind the Sheraton Hotel.

This time, there were no travel problems whatsoever. The train to Lindenwald departed on time, was mostly empty, and was only slightly late getting in. The PATCO train to Collingswood somehow almost missed stopping at the Ashland station, but otherwise came and went on time. I rode straight home after I made it to Collingswood.

I was putting together a chicken pasta salad for dinner when the phone rang. To my delight, it was Mom. I sent her a card and a letter a few days ago, just to say "hi." I haven't heard from her much since she started her new job at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. She was in a good mood, though very tired. In addition to her job as a ticket taker and reservations assistant, she helped my sister Anny with her son Skylar's 10th birthday party earlier in the day. It was just his brother, his grandparents, his mother's fiancee, and a few local kids who were the children of Anny's friends. If the photos of them on Anny's Facbook page are any indication, they had a great time pelting each other with water balloons.

Ran most of 'Neath Brookyn Bridge while I ate dinner. We're back with the East Side Kids and a more substantial mystery. The boys help a young girl their age whose guardian was trying to force her to leave her paralyzed grandfather. When Danny (Bobby Jordan) goes back for her clothes, he discovers that her stepfather is dead. The police think he did it, but the Kids know better. Mugs (Leo Gorcey) goes undercover to infiltrate a gambling racket, while the others hide the girl.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Height of the Summer Harvest

I awoke to another amazing morning. It was perfectly comfortable in my apartment as I had cereal for breakfast and watched two more East Side Kids movies. Follow the Leader has Mugs (Leo Gorcey), out of the army due to bad eyesight, getting involved with a smuggling ring. Mugs is a jockey in Mr. Mugs Rides Again. When he's barred from racing due to a fixed race, he vows to find a way to help an elderly horse owner win the money she needs to keep her stable open, whether he races or not.

I didn't start today's errands until past 12:30. The Oaklyn Library was pretty quiet when I arrived. It was too nice of a day for a lot of people to be online. I organized DVDs - the kids' section was really bad - shelved a few kids' books, and headed out.

Next stop was Rite Aid. I needed a 9 Volt battery for one of the fire alarms in my apartment. I originally wanted to take out money, but they didn't let you take out as much as I needed. After I finished there, I went across the street for a quick, quiet lunch at Thriftway. They had a small cafe area. The sweet girl behind the counter made a tasty grilled cheese sandwich on rye with Swiss cheese, tomato, and bacon. I added a small Perrier for a great quick, simple lunch.

Next spent some time at the Haddon Township Library. There was a nice stack of DVDs to shelve today, both adult and kids' titles. This time, all of those darn "s" titles didn't make it onto the shelves. They have really, really at least got to clear out Scooby Doo titles. They don't need every single one of those three-episode monster-themed collections. I forgot something with my address on it, which meant I couldn't renew my library card today and didn't take anything out.

Just as well. After another brief stop, this time at the Westmont Acme to get money and a soft pretzel, I moved on to the Westmont Farm Market. The traffic was crazy on Haddon Avenue. Good thing there was a crossing guard this time that helped people get where they were going. Other than there were more food booths and the Sweet Pea Ice Cream cart was on the end of the block instead of the beginning, things were pretty much the same as they were last week. Cherries were gone, but the smaller melons had made their debuts. Squash is huge this year, some as long as baseball bats! I'd never figure out what to do with zucchini that size. I ended up with blackberries, blueberries, two much smaller yellow squash, one of the miniature cantaloupes, a tomato, a cucumber, and a smaller, pale white yellow pickling cucumber.

Went home via Newton Lake Park. It was a gorgeous day for it. It was in the mid-80s by 5:30, with a blue sky, a nice breeze, and no humidity whatsoever. Most families were probably getting dinner, but there were tons of people out for a walk, fishing, or riding bikes. I saw a lot of kids on bikes as I headed down West Clinton Avenue towards Manor as well.

Ran one of the later Sach/Slip-focused Bowery Boys movies as I put my groceries away. The Boys are Jungle Gents when it's discovered that Sach's sinus medicine gives him the ability to smell diamonds. Following an older man who is in search of a lost diamond mine, the four and Louie head for Africa. No one's happy with Sach when he accidentally burns the map. Sach has other things on his mind - he keeps encountering a gorgeous jungle native who seems to have fallen for him.

I did make it to Rose's for dinner around 6:30. Hark, hark, Toby and Kelsey did bark! Turns out Rose and the dogs and I were the only ones eating. Craig had to work (he's still a waiter at Anthony's in Haddon Heights), and Khai was tired and cranky after pre school and went to bed early. No matter. We both enjoyed an excellent meal of green beans, wild rice, and slow-cooker chicken legs that were so tender, they fell off the bone. We chatted and ate for a little while, until Rose decided she'd hit the sack early, too. I thanked her and headed home.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In the Cold Days of Summer

Started off a very cloudy, unusually chilly day with an early work shift. It was almost exactly the same as it has been during weekdays for the past month - dead as a doornail for most of the afternoon. I spent a lot of time standing around bored. Once again, there were no major problems besides some cranky customers. In fact, my relief was on time today, allowing me to head out right away.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes while watching one of the East Side Kids movies, Come Out Fighting. This series was the predecessor to the Bowery Boys, running from 1940 to 1945. Fighting was the last one, more-or-less a remake of the earlier Million Dollar Kid with a more sympathetic rich kid. The kid in question is the police commissioner's sheltered son, a dancer (Johnny Duncan). He wants the Kids to take him in and teach him how to be tough. The naive boy has gotten involved with some nasty folks, including gamblers. When the Kids try to come to his rescue, one gets hurt, and leader Mugs (Leo Gorcey) gets in trouble. It's up to the rich kid to win the boxing match for the Bowery and prove just how tough he is.

Dad-Bruce's birthday was yesterday. I tried to make him a Blueberry Butter Cake last night, but it fell apart. Oh well, it was edible. I cut it in half, glued together what I could with Cool Whip mixed with cinnamon, and took it and a birthday card over to Dad's house. Jessa and Joe were making a huge bowl of pasta with shrimp, scallops, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I ended up eating at their house. Even with five of us (and Joe's huge appetite), there was still more than half of that big bowl left after everyone ate, plus another bowl of plain pasta.

Heard from Rose when I got home. Rose invited me over her house for dinner tomorrow evening to celebrate her new job in a law firm in Camden. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't really seen much of her since Father's Day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Three Is a Magic Number

Once again, I began the day with an early work shift...and once again, it was dead for most of the day. It got mildly busy during the noon rush hour. By the time the dinner rush hour was just starting around 3PM, my (late) relief was arriving. There were no major problems other than some annoying or obnoxious customers, and I was in and out.

I watched more Schoolhouse Rock before work and as I was changing into regular clothes afterwards. Multiplication Rock was one of the earliest sets, covering basic math. Science Rock went into everyday science concepts, such as how the body works or how electricity is made. The sweet ballad "Three Is a Magic Number" is probably the most famous of the math episodes, but my personal favorite is the ethereal "Figure Eight," performed by cabaret singer Blossom Dearie. My favorite Science Rock number is Lynn Aherns' "Interplanet Janet," the catchy tale of an intergalactic baseball team traveling from planet to planet, looking for good places to play games.

I finally got out to the laundromat around quarter of 5. It was a gorgeous night for a walk. By 5, the sun was out, the humidity was lower, and there was a nice, cool wind. There were quite a few kids out and about, riding bikes or playing baseball in their yards, waiting for their parents to come home from work. That could be why the laundromat was busy, too. It wasn't bad when I came in, but by the time I left, I was dodging four people and at least one family with kids.

I was just happy to get home and make leftovers for dinner. Ran more Bowery Boys as I ate. They buy a detective agency and become Private Eyes after Sach is hit on the head by a local kid and gains the ability to read minds. Even Sach's newfound ability may not help them when a beautiful blond runs in their office and says she's being followed...and turns out to be involved in a fur-theft racket. The boys go undercover at a sanitarium to find the blond and the kid after the crooks kidnap him, too.

And while we had a whopper of a storm around midnight last night, we still haven't seen any rain today. It'll probably show up late again.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Put On Your Sunday Shows

I had a quick breakfast of Blueberry Pancakes while listening to most of Hello Dolly! Carol Channing was a huge hit in the original 1965 Broadway cast of the hilarious tale of Dolly Levi, a fast-talking matchmaker in the New York area in early 1900s. Resourceful Dolly manages to pair off most of the cast during one memorable Fourth of July in Manhattan...including herself with cranky but wealthy bachelor Horace Vandergelder (David Burns). I generally prefer Pearl Bailey and her later all-black cast, but there's some virtues here took, especially a very young Eileen Brennan as Irene Malloy (she gets to introduce the lovely "Ribbons Down My Back").

Work was more-or-less the same it has been on Sunday all month - steady but not overwhelmingly so. There were a few annoying or obnoxious customers. Maybe people were worried about the weather. We were supposed to get storms by later in the afternoon. It was hot and humid and, despite a nice wind, not very pleasant. It was still sunny when my relief came in around 3.

I changed into regular clothes when I got home, then took out a ton of recycling. I really shouldn't have put it off - the bin with the cans and milk bottles was overloaded. Spent the next hour cooling off in the air conditioning, messing around online and watching the squirrels and birds chasing each other on the porch outside my bedroom window.

Bored, I made a quick run to CVS for cards. Dad-Bruce's birthday is tomorrow. My oldest nephew Skylar has his birthday on the 31st. It was still sunny and humid, though a bit cooler, by quarter after 5. The ride wasn't too horrible, and CVS was quiet as can be.

When I got home, I sliced a tomato, a potato, and some green pepper, threw in the last of the mushrooms, added eggs and cheese, and had scrambled eggs and summer vegetables for dinner. Ran another Broadway cast album as I enjoyed a simple but hearty dinner. Plain and Fancy is a fairly typical musical from 1955 with an atypical setting - the Pennsylvania Amish country. Two normal sophisticated New Yorkers who have inherited land in the real-life Amish town of Bird-In-the-Hand find themselves among the Amish country folks. The "plain" folks of Pennsylvania butt heads with the "fancy" couple as both sides learn that love can be tough for anyone, no matter how plain or fancy they are.

Very cute if you're a fan of Barbara Cook or the musicals of the 50s and 60s. Hilda, the curious Amish girl who falls for the male half of the New York couple, was Cook's first role in a hit show. She gets a lot to sing for someone whose character doesn't really have much to do with the plot - she has two solos, plus joins in on two other numbers. This isn't something I'd go out of my way for (it's hard to find on CD), but is enjoyable enough if you ever run into a copy.

Oh, and at press time, it still hasn't stormed, or even put out so much as a raindrop. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Crosby's Island

It was cloudy and humid but surprisingly not hot when I awoke this morning. The American Top 40 took us ahead in the 80s to the summer of 1987. I was 8 years old, reading Star Wars novels or spending time at the beach with my family, when these songs were on the radio. Hits that July included "Shakedown" by Bob Seeger from Beverly Hills Cop II, "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael, "Girls Girls Girls" by Motley Crue, "Point of No Return" by Expose, "Something So Strong" by Crowded House, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2, and the remake of "Funkytown" by Psuedo Echo. That week's #1 hit was one of the biggest ballads in a year filled with slow, intense songs, "Alone" by Heart.

Work wasn't too bad. It was a little busier than it has been, but certainly not as bad as it usually is on a weekend. Though it did start showering on my way to work, the weather didn't seem to scare off the crowds. I suspect most people are probably on vacation. There were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

I ran a couple of Schoolhouse Rock shorts as I changed and settled down after work. The sun was shining, but I was too tired to do any running around. The America Rock shorts debuted in the mid-70s as the Bicentennial was looming. In addition to the familiar ones like "I'm Just a Bill" and "Fireworks," the 25th Anniversary set includes "Three Ring Government," which explains just how the government itself works. I also threw in "Tyrannosaurus Debt" from Money Rock, a rather pointed take on the government's fiscal spending.

I spent the next few hours napping. I feel guilty. I'm not used to working early. I should be. My sister Rose and my best friend Lauren both have jobs that require them to work normal hours. I wish I did. I wouldn't mind working early if I worked early every week, not just when the college students and high schoolers were taking the late hours. And I work at 8 AM next weekend! I feel like a teenager working their first job, not a real adult working their only job. All I want is consistency.

I ordered a set of some of Bing Crosby's lesser-known films that was on a really good sale on Amazon a few days ago. It arrived today. I started with one of several he did in 1934, We're Not Dressing. Crosby is Steve, a good-natured but mouthy sailor on a yacht owned by a snobby heiress (Carole Lombard). When the yacht sinks thanks to the heiress' drunk uncle (Leon Errol), she, Crosby, the two pampered princes who are courting her for her money, and her singer friend (Ethel Merman) end up on a tropical island. None of these people know how to take care of themselves...except for Crosby, who teaches them that maybe living "like the other half" isn't so bad. Meanwhile, the island isn't uninhabited. Two nutty explorers (George Burns and Gracie Allen) are searching for rare animals.

Oh boy, is this a weird one. A cross between a screwball comedy, a musical, and Gilligan's Island, this makes no sense whatsoever but has some fun moments, thanks to Merman chasing Errol and Burns and Allen's gags. Lombard has less to do besides look appropriately haughty. The big Bing song here is "Love Thy Neighbor" (which is worked rather well into the plot when Bing is scolding the others for not helping out and working with him).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Comedy This Afternoon

It was absolutely gorgeous today. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and it was probably no more than the lower 80s, with no humidity whatsoever. All of this added up to a very, very quiet morning at work. Other than a few annoying customers, we had no problems whatsoever. I spent a lot of the morning standing around bored. I got off as soon as my relief arrived.

I didn't leave right away, though. I had a little grocery shopping to do. There were a few things I needed to restock, like brown sugar, seasoned chicken fillets, and whole wheat bread. The Pepperidge Farm Goldfish are on sale for a dollar. I enjoyed the French Toast Goldfish Grahams so much, I bought two more bags, in Vanilla Cupcake and Fudge Cupcake. Since the Dr. Oekter mousse mixes and Cool Whip were on sale, I bought two boxes of dark chocolate mousse mix and a chocolate cookie crust to make mousse pie. The Acme is selling these tasty cinnamon twists for a dollar for a 4-pack, too. Thought I'd try that as my special Friday treat.

I'm not terribly happy with my schedule next week. While I have the same amount of hours I usually do at this time of year, they're all very early, as early as 8AM! On the other hand, I also have Wednesday and Thursday off. I'll be able to get to the Westmont Farm Market again and maybe do something else fun if the weather's nice.

When I did finally get home, I changed, then put everything away. I made a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie while as I watched more Bowery Boys. Bowery Battalion was the first of four movies where the Boys end up in the Armed Services. The boys join the Army after a mock air drill makes them think they're being invaded. They're not very good soldiers, but they find themselves having to get their act together when spies kidnap Louie in order to get his plans for a new military weapon.

Switched from the Bowery Boys to Laurel and Hardy as I made baked chicken breasts with molasses spices and Italian zucchini with tomatoes and onion for dinner. Stage actor Dennis King plays The Devil's Brother, an Italian outlaw who masquerades as a marquis in order to steal jewels from the nobility. While King tries to romance a huge payment out of the wife of a nobleman (Thelma Todd), Stan and Ollie act as his assistants...then decide they want to catch the Devil's Brother themselves.