Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures at the Moorestown Mall

Started a hot, sunny day with cereal, the last peach, and the second season of Sailor Moon. In the second season episode "A Charmed Life," Serena's hoping that a love potion will help restore her relationship with Darien. The Soldiers discover that there's a lot more to this shop than pretty trinkets when a jelly-like monster attacks them.

I headed out around 11. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. It remained sunny and very warm, but the humidity was gone, and there was a very nice breeze. I stopped quickly at WaWa in Oaklyn for money and a Blackberry Sparkling Ice, then headed for King's Highway. I wanted to pick up the 11:37 bus to the Moorestown Mall. I locked my bike at CVS and rushed across the street, making it with a minute to spare...then waited ten more minutes for it to show up. I forgot most of the local buses have to take a detour in Camden this week. They're demolishing a building near the Camden bus terminal.

The bus ride to the Moorestown Mall was perfectly fine. There was no traffic, and only four other people who went all the way. When I got off, I started at Boscov's, the closest store to the Mall bus stop. They were very busy with people taking advantage of big summer sales. I looked at shoes and blouses, but I was mainly there for work pants. I tend to wear them out quickly riding the bikes to work almost every day, especially the area around my thighs. It took me a while, but I finally found a decent pair of Sag Harbor khakis for $21.

My next stops weren't as fruitful. I did see Sailor Moon Season 2, Vol. 1 at FYE, but it was $39.99. Amazon has it for cheaper. Didn't see it at Barnes & Noble at all. I did end up getting a new journal (I'm half-way through the current one) and a hardback copy of the newest Diane Mott Davidson story The Whole Enchilada off the Bargain Priced shelves. Best Buy had the Sailor Moon set, but only on Blu-Ray.

By the time I got out of Best Buy, it was past 2 PM...and way past time for lunch. I ate at the Corner Cafe and Bakery again. This time, I had a half of a turkey club pannini, a mixed greens salad with very peppery vinaigrette dressing, and a black currant iced tea. The sandwich was pretty good, but that dressing was waaayyy too spicy! My eyes were watering when I finished.

Hiked across the mall parking lot to Sears after lunch. I looked at their Lands End clothes, but I just ended up getting my new sandals. They're leather I Love Comfort strap sandals, good and thick, with an adjustable strap on the toes. While they lack the elastic on my old Grasshoppers sandals, they're also made of better material with a thicker sole, and hopefully will last longer.

After a brief look at Play*Trade, I ended up across the way at Payless Shoes. The last time I bought sneakers there, I ended up turning my ankle in them and spending the next two months out of work. They were also a cheap-no-name brand that were worn-out badly by that point anyway. The pair I bought today were Champion sneakers. They were $19.99, still fairly cheap, but not too badly made for a sneaker from Payless. They're also a little narrow, but they were the best I could find that I could afford.

I took brief peeks at Hallmark and the toy store, but I was really getting tired. I needed to sit down and get some liquid refreshment. I settled for a water ice at Rita's. Thankfully, unlike in February, the line was more manageable. I was able to get my regular coconut cream and settle down in the dining court fairly quickly.

The dining court looks much better than it did when Lauren and I visited the Mall last month. There's now modern, simple tables and chairs. Islands with benches and plugs for various devices replace tables in the center of the room. (Unfortunately, they didn't seem to be able to do anything about the skylights. It gets beastly hot in the center of the food court, thanks to the overhead glass ceilings.) There's a lounge area with soft recliners and tables in the main entrance near the movie theater. They'll probably look even better once more stores start moving in - at this writing, it's still Subway, Saladworks, and Charley's.

I considered hiking to Macy's or taking another look at FYE, but I just wasn't up for it. I opted to catch the 4:07 back to Audubon. This one took a little longer, thanks to the beginning of rush hour traffic. The offices around East Gate and Cherry Hill were especially bad. I didn't make it in until nearly 5 PM.

Made a brief stop at the lovely little Italian bakery on King's Highway for a cupcake treat and a small loaf of fresh Italian bread before going to CVS and getting my bike. I went straight home after that. I was tired. It was still hot, if not humid. I did quite a bit of hiking today.

(At the very least, I got everything I needed except for new luggage. That and Sailor Moon will have to wait for better paychecks next month.)

Ended up spending the rest of the night looking over old journals and watching That's Entertainment III while eating leftover Turkey Pasta Veggie Salad for dinner. Songs that were cut from or previously unused, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage, are the thing in the third and final movie focusing on the heyday of the MGM musical. Actually, my favorite part of this one, besides some of the cut songs, is the opening. Gene Kelly explains the early talkie musicals and their demise well before YouTube, TCM, and the Warner Archives gave many of them a fresh hearing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fairies are Brave and Strong

Began a gloomy, humid morning with one of the earliest episodes of The Backyardigans. Uniqua is determined to prove that "Knights are Brave and Strong" when Queen Tasha sends her to deliver a message to King Austin. She has to get through the Misty Moose (Tyrone), the Guard at the Gate (Pablo), and the Swamp of Stinkyness in order to earn her own knight's hat with a pink feather.

I spent the rest of the morning working on my fanfic. While Scott's been traveling with the acting troupe, Betty's been getting soil samples with help from her friend, lawyer Doug Thompson. She likes Doug, but she's been wondering about Scott. She sees a poster for the troupe and remembers her discussion with Scott and having seen him at the show, and wonder if he's found what happened with his mother. Doug's not happy, but she asks him to see the show after she gets the reports on the land. She thinks Scott could help her figure out what Pruitt's up to...and she might be able to help him...

Work was the same as it has been the past month - quiet most of the day. I spent the afternoon working on story ideas. It cleared out even more once it started raining around 3 PM. I suspect we only had customers at all because we're getting very close to the beginning of the month. It was so quiet, I was able to shut down without a relief at the height of rush hour - they sent the college kid who was supposed to go in for me elsewhere.

It was still raining when I got out of work. I waited ten minutes, but it wasn't slowing down. I finally just rode home and got wet. Ironically, it did finally end about a half-hour or so after I got in.

Made a tasty, simple turkey-pasta-vegetable salad for dinner. It was just canned turkey, cooked whole-wheat pasta, and whatever sliced veggies I had in my fridge - one of the cucumbers, onion, the last of the cherry tomatoes. Topped it with a dressing of red wine vinegar, spicy mustard, and olive oil, and some onion seasoning. Yum, yum. Simple and savory and very summery.

Watched Maleficent while I ate. The title character is reworked as an anti-hero in this unusual take on Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was in love with Stefan when they were children. When she leads her forest creatures in defeating his king, Stefan steals the things she prizes most in order to take over the kingdom. Angry and vengeful, she takes her anger out on his daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning), cursing her to fall into a sleep that can only be awoken by true love. Like Elsa in Frozen, Maleficent discovers there's more than one type of true love in the world when she helps the other fairies keep an eye on the child as she grows up, and almost against her will, becomes fond of the girl. Now she has to find a way to help break her own curse, before the girl who has melted her heart is gone from her life forever.

Maybe it's because I always liked the original Sleeping Beauty, but I wasn't crazy about this one. I just like Maleficent better as a flat-out villain and didn't find her arc or her feelings for Aurora to be that believable. Wasn't fond of how they played the other three fairies as idiots, either. It was no fault of Jolie's - she was fine as the title dark woods creature. I also found the anti-war and environmental messages to be laid on a tad thick. The reason to see this one, besides Jolie, is the special effects. The fairies' world in particular is amazing, filled with colorful, detailed creatures. I also liked Maleficent's crow friend, who here takes on a variety of shapes and has a couple of nice comic scenes with Jolie.

If you're a huge Disney fan or Jolie fan who is willing to take a fresh look at one of their more famous villains, this is worth a rental for the amazing effects work alone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Once Upon a Heat Wave

I began a very humid and hazy day at work...and spent most of it standing around, writing down all the story ideas running through my head. We were on and off steady, but mostly quiet. It's a hot day in the middle of the week and the end of the month. If people aren't at the Shore, they're waiting for money to come in during the weekend and next week. My relief was right on time, and I was in and out with no problems.

When I got home, I had some of the Turtle Chex Mix I bought at work (it was a dollar), then made a fruit salad. Also known as "most of the fruit I had laying around cut up with a can of mandarin oranges mixed in." Listened to the soundtrack to Newsies as I worked. My favorite number from both the movie and the show is "King of New York." I haven't seen the show, but the number in the movie is hilarious. The newsies' strike just made the papers, and they're incredibly excited about it. Both the song and the number are just adorable.

Worked on my fanfic for the next couple of hours. Betty Prince, with help from kind-hearted lawyer Doug Thompson, is in Pueblo to pick up the findings of a surveyor who is a friend of Doug's. The two happen to see the show at the stage that the troupe is working at. So does Miss Cosgrave, who isn't happy to discover that the poisoned comb she gave Scott didn't work.

Pruitt's even less happy. He has his men take Maple away to be questioned. He writes a letter to invite the troupe to the town's rodeo and county fair. He intends to lure Scott into his clutches...and this time, take the job of doing away with him himself.

Needless to say, Scott does not want to go to the fair. The rest of the troupe convinces him it'll be great publicity. Hilary pulls out a blond wig and says he'll go in disguise...

When I finally got off, I had leftover Chinese beans and the last of the turkey tacos for dinner while watching Sleeping Beauty. When Princess Aurora is cursed by the wicked Maleficent in infancy to die on her 16th birthday, one of the three fairies who watch over the land gentles it down to merely sleeping. Despite the fairies best efforts, Maleficent is successful and the curse comes true. Prince Phillip, who met the girl in the woods when she was picking berries and fell for her, must make his way to the castle and kiss his slumbering love...if he can get past briar bushes and a dragon!

One of Disney's most beautifully-animated movies, done to look like a real 14th century tapestry. While the title sleeping beauty herself is a bit of a snore, the supporting cast is first rate - the fairies are hilarious, Maleficent is so famous, she got a live-action movie to herself, and Phillip is one of Disney's few really interesting princes. Recommended for fans of animation or the Disney Princess movies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tales of Old Arizona

I began a semi-cloudy, humid morning with Fort Apache. Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda) and his daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple) arrive at the title outpost to whip its troops (including Victor McLauglin and Pedro Armendariz) into fighting shape. He's joined by recent West Point graduate Lieutenant Mickey O'Rourke (John Algar), who falls for Philadelphia. Colonel Thursday disapproves of the match - O'Rourke's father (Ward Bond) is an enlisted man. When Thursday and his second-in-command Captain York (John Wayne) find that Indians have attacked some of their men and gone back on their treaty with their local representative (Grant Withers), he wants to bring their leaders from Mexico and slaughter them all. York, who knows that the Apache genuinely got a raw deal from the drunk and corrupt representative, wants to make peace. Thursday just wants to make war. He discovers the hard way that the Apache have their rights and know a lot more about fighting than he does. Thursday, however, finally opts to go down with his men, becoming a legend for better or for worse.

The first of three movies revolving around the US Calvary that John Ford filmed in Arizona's gorgeous Monument Valley. Fonda gets a rare chance to play against type as a snobbish, racist glory hound; Ward Bond also does well as Algar's dignified father who refuses to allow his superior officer to get to his goat. If you're a fan of Ford's westerns or anyone in the cast, this is a beautifully-shot and fairly mature western that's highly recommended.

Had breakfast and cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen while the movie was on. Neither of them were quite as bad as when I did them last time, but they did need to be done. I figured since I wasn't in a hurry, I might as well get both done in one swoop.

I finally headed out for today's errands around 1 PM. Started at the Oaklyn Library first. There was a little more to do there than there has been. The DVD's weren't too bad, but there was a lot to organize in the kids' section. The board books were in really bad shape. Even with that, I was out in a half and hour. I had to be. The Oaklyn Library closes at 2.

Next on the docket was lunch. I ate at the Westmont Bagel Shop. I hadn't had their Turkey Avocado Sandwich in a while. I had it on an onion bagel with fries. Yum! The avocado spread had been replaced by real avocado. They were still a little slippery, but not as bad as the spread. I listened to The Chew and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire while I ate. It was nearly 2 PM by then. The only other diners were one guy reading the local paper the Retrospect and two chattering women who finished their lunch shortly after I arrived.

The Haddon Township Library was also very busy today. There were piles and piles of DVDs to shelve, both from the adult and the kids' section. Tons of audio books and CDs, too. Once again, the kids' stuff all fit, but the adults' did not. I took some of the burden off the adult shelves and mostly took out new releases I'd wanted to see. I ended up with the animated movie Strange Magic, the comedy A Million Ways To Die In the West, the Disney retelling Maleficent, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. (I'm tired of dark, dreary futures in sci-fi movies too, but I figured, since I'd seen the other two, I might as well finish out the series.)

Stopped at Rite Aid after leaving the Library. I mainly needed contact lens solution. The big size was on sale for $9. Rite Aid already has out its back-to-school sale items. I picked up two tiny USB ports for $7.75 each (25% off). Also bought new dishcloths (mine are probably about four or five years old) and a pencil sharpener (it's about the same age and doesn't seem to sharpen the pencils all that well anymore).

Spent the rest of the evening at home. I worked on my Scott White fanfiction for a few hours. An old peddler woman sells Scott a comb that seems to be harmless. He passes out after using it in his hair. Hilary, Eugenia, and Mr. Foley find him on the floor. While the women revive him, Foley discovers that the comb was poisoned. Hilary swears they'll keep a better eye on him from now on. She can't afford to lose an actor.

Meanwhile, Pruitt now thinks Scott is dead. He can concentrate on Maple, who lied to him about killing Scott, and Betty, who is getting a little too close to the truth about his land-grabbing scheme...

Ran an episode of Moonlighting while making Chicken Legs poached in red wine vinegar sauce and sauteed Chinese beans for dinner. "Maddie Hayes Got Married" when she comes back from Chicago with her new husband Walter Bishop in tow. Walter's a genuinely nice guy whom everyone ends up liking, even David. Dave insists on having a wedding for Maddie and a bachelor's party for Walter. Walter doesn't mind, but Maddie seems rather reluctant to join in.

Maddie's not the only one who's having problems with her wedding. Shemp Howard's not happy about getting married either in the Three Stooges short "Brideless Groom." Shemp has to get hitched by 6 PM or lose an inheritance. At first, he has problems getting women to come near him...but after Moe gets his story in the paper, he has trouble getting them away!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stories, Stories, and More Stories!

I awoke to a cloudy, humid morning. It looked like it may have rained last night or early this morning (my porch was very wet), but by the time I was up and around, the precipitation was long gone. I had a quick breakfast while watching a couple of summer-themed shorts. Mickey and Minnie enjoy a summer of vaudeville acts, hand-cranked cars, and old-fashioned melodrama in one of my favorite later color Mickey shorts, "The Nifty Nineties."

Did some Max & Ruby while getting ready for work. "Max's Froggy Friend" wants to join Max and Ruby for tea. Ruby keeps trying to tell her brother froggies and tea parties don't mix. Froggy keeps following them anyway.

"Max's Music" is a bit different than his sister's. Ruby, Valerie, and Louise want to play as a trio, but it's Max who helps them harmonize.

"Max Gets Wet" when he tries to use the hose to fill his pool. Ruby would rather the hose be used to give her garden a drink. Ruby's the one who comes up with a solution that makes everyone - including her garden - happy.

Work was the same as it has been - off and on steady. During the down times, I worked on yet another Remember WENN fanfiction idea. This one has some real potential to become a big thing. It'll be my second, darker WENN fantasy story and possibly my second novel-length WENN story. During the mid-third season, Betty has to come up with a fantasy-based show for a new sponsor. As usual with Betty, her own problems keep intruding.

The show becomes the tale of a peasant woman (Betty) who has to save her home when it's on the verge of being devoured by the Shadow Realm and its King of Darkness (Pruitt). Its real king has vanished, and the warrior prince who had been defending the land in his place was proved to be a fraud. As the peasant explores the land, she encounters many creatures and strange beings who offer to help her. Her greatest ally is a mysterious black-haired stranger who only appears in the darkness and stays in the shadows, following her and protecting her from the evil King and his minions. Among those minions is another mysterious figure with a long face and thinning brown hair, one who can only stay in the light...

I definitely want to finish my current Scott "Snow White" story and do the Betty "Little Mermaid" story next. I've learned my lesson about not finishing things. I may start this one after the Betty mermaid story and wait on Hilary's "Beauty and the Beast" and the two Victor stories, Captain Victor, Man of Power and his King Arthur fairy tale, until the fall.

My relief was nearly late, which meant I was nearly late when I got out. It was a bit sunnier when I got out, not really that hot, but very humid. Thankfully, it looked like the rain had remained at bay. It was perfectly dry when I finally rode home.

Called Mom and Dad when I got in. I hadn't talked to anyone on their side of the family in a while. Dad's still recovering from his knee surgery, and it sounds like he and Mom are driving each other crazy being stuck at home together. And they are stuck. Mom revealed why we've been so dead lately. I was right - everyone did go to the Shore. The roads in Cape May County have apparently been a nearly impassable mess. They haven't been hit with nearly as much rain as we have. The rain that'll pour on us for a half-hour keeps rolling by them. Mom's been busying herself making pinafores and dresses for her new granddaughter Lilah. She was working on a pinafore as we talked. What she really wants to do is go back to the Ferry, but she used up all her hours for the year and might not get back until January.

Worked a little bit on Scott White and the Seven Actors after I let Mom go. Pruitt's incensed that Jeff and Mackie were able to chase his men off and save Scott. He decides to employ a more subtle method of disposing of his unwanted stepson. He recruits his secretary Miss Cosgrave to dress as a peddler selling combs...including one with poison on it...

Pan-fried some cod, onions, and tomatoes, then sliced the cod into strips for fish tacos for dinner. Watched an episode of Garfield and Friends while enjoying my meal. Garfield, Jon, and Odie hit the road for these two first-season tales. Cactus Jake, the old-fashioned cowboy, appears in his first of five episodes on the show, "Polecat Flats," in the first story. Jon and Garfield are visiting a dude ranch, mainly to impress women. The girls aren't impressed when the ranch's owner Cactus Jake keeps teasing Jon over his fancy outfits and city slicker ways. Garfield uses a wild horse to make Jake look even more foolish.

"Brain Boy" is the son of a very boring cousin of Jon's. Garfield would rather eat raisins than spend the afternoon with this bratty mad scientist. He makes his robots and machines attack the two pets, then whines that the animals ruined his machines. Garfield finally finds a way to turn the tables on him.

Orson the Pig also turns the tables on a bully in "Hogules." Orson is terrified when Roy reveals that his brothers are coming to visit. Orson's brothers are obnoxious bullies who pick on him and wreck havoc whenever they're around. Inspired by the Greek myths he was reading Booker and Sheldon, Orson finds a way to turn the tables on his brothers and scare them into thinking he's every bit as strong as the warrior in the stories.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Take Me Along

Began a hot, sunny morning with Blackberry Pancakes and some old-time music. Evidently, the Dorothy Provine Roaring 20's soundtracks were so popular, they dug further back and had her do an album of even older music from about 1890 to 1919, Oh You Kid! My favorite numbers are the comediennes' songs - "Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay," "Rings On My Fingers," "I Don't Care."

Work was busier than yesterday, but still not overwhelmingly so for a Sunday. Other than a few annoying people, there were no major problems. There was a bit of a mix-up leaving. I thought the manager said I had a relief; evidently, I didn't. I did get out on time.

I had considered doing the laundry tomorrow or Tuesday, but the weather is supposed to get hotter and more humid. I figured, since I didn't have any other major plans, I might as well get it done today. I'm glad I did. It was pin-drop quiet when I arrived. Even the golf on TV wasn't making that much noise. I didn't have a really big load, anyway. By the time more people started to arrive, my load was in the dryer.

When I got in, I put everything away, then went right in the bath. Ahhh. I really enjoyed that. It was nice to cool off and relax after work and an enjoyable week. I looked over more recent cake decorating catalogs and listened to one of my big band collection CDs.

After I finished, I had leftovers for dinner while listening to my LP of the original cast of Take Me Along. This is the stage musical version of Ah Wilderness! Sid, the drunk uncle, gets a little more stage time here, thanks to him being played by Jackie Gleason. Robert Morse plays the son who thinks he knows everything about life, until he finds himself in a saloon with a floozy one night. Walter Pidgeon is his newspaper publisher father. Not the greatest musical, but some of the music is cute, especially Pidgeon and Gleason on the title song.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Bear Called Paddington

Began a hot, sunny day with a couple of black and white Mickey Mouse shorts set around the beach or summer. Mickey and Minnie encounter some "Wild Waves" that pick up Minnie and carry her out to sea. Mickey rescues her, then cheers her up with the help of some friendly local animals.

"The Picnic" starts out as a lovely day for Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto (then called Rover). They have fun singing and dancing while Pluto chases the wildlife. A downpour spoils their meal, but Pluto does come up with a way to help them see their way home.

Mickey and Pluto are "Fishin' Around" in the middle of a pond, trying to enjoy a relaxing day. Things just don't seem to go right for the duo. The fish won't cooperate and steal the bait. Mickey ignored a sign that said "no fishing"...and a local cop doesn't like that one bit!

Headed off to the Collingswood Farm Market around 10:30. Even that late, they were packed elbow-to-elbow with people looking for produce, cheese, and meats for their barbecues and birthday parties. The fall harvest has just begun making it's debut; I saw the first yellow apples and spaghetti squash of the year today, along with the first sugar plums. I ended up with blueberries, blackberries, a beautiful olive green and brick red heirloom tomato, small peaches, and brown mushrooms.

Made a quick stop at WaWa for eggs and a Peach Nectarine Sparkling Ice before heading home. I had the other half of the chicken wrap from Chick Fil'A last night while watching a few more cartoons. "The Beach Party" begins well for Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Clarabelle Cow, and Horace Horsecollar. They go swimming in the ocean and enjoy a huge picnic lunch...until Pluto mistakes an octopus' leg for his sausages. Now they have to use the remains of their lunch to get rid of that pesky eight-legged critter!

Wally Walrus isn't having a much easier time with Woody Woodpecker in "The Beach Nut." Surfer Woody keeps disrupting his day at the beach. He chases him onto the boardwalk, where Woody poses as a mind reader to get to Wally's head.

Work was busier than yesterday, though still not overwhelming. Most people were shopping for parties or going to or coming from vacation. Other than a few grouchy people, there were no major problems, and my relief was actually early.

I went straight home. As soon as I got in, I changed into my bathing suit, grabbed my towel, and rode over to Dad's house to go swimming. Dad and Jodie weren't home, but I did wave to Jodie's son Jesse, who was reading on the porch. There was a family with two tiny children no more than two in the shallow end of the pool; they were likely neighbors. I swam in the deep end to keep from disrupting the little guys. It was once again almost 90 degrees in the pool, and it felt absolutely wonderful.

When I got home, I made turkey tacos with onion and cherry tomatoes while watching Paddington. An explorer once visited a group of very intelligent bears in Darkest Peru and taught them about London, English ways, and that tasty spread known as marmalade. Years later, the bears, having lost their home, sends the youngest member to take the explorer up on the offer and visit London. The Brown family finds him at the Paddington train station and take him home. They dub the little bear "Paddington" after the train station. The kind-hearted mom (Sally Hawkins) takes to him right away. The kids and the dad (Hugh Bonneville) have a harder time with him; he's clumsy and knows little about human or British ways. He finally starts to warm up to the family, even the overprotective Mr. Brown, when a house fire makes him look suspect again. When he heads out to find the explorer, the Browns realize how much they miss him. They're not the only ones interested in the sweet little bear, though. A nasty taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) thinks Paddington would be the perfect addition to her stuffed creature collection and will do anything to get him in her clutches.

This was a surprise hit last winter, with critics and audiences. I'm glad. I've always been a fan of Paddington. I have a two-foot stuffed Paddington my grandparents gave me when I was a toddler on my bed as I write this, and I found a treasury of all the Paddington books at a yard sale a few years ago. They did the source material justice. This is a really adorable movie, filled with just as much wonder and gentleness as Paddington himself. The performances were spot-on, especially Ben Whitshaw as Paddington. If you've got kids who are bear lovers like me, or are just looking for a really good family movie, this one is highly recommended and just plain sweet.