Sunday, September 24, 2017

Heat Wave In September

Whew! It was hot for September when I awoke this morning, already in the 80's by 8:30. I finished reading The Fire Rose before switching to breakfast. Made Pear Spice Pancakes with a pear that was getting soft while listening to The Happiest Millionaire. This is another Disney live-action musical from the 60's, mostly set right in Philly. The head of the rich and eccentric Biddle family (Fred MacMurray) is mostly concerned with his boxing and Bible class and alligators...too concerned to notice his daughter Cordelia (Leslie Ann Warren) blooming into a young lady before his eyes. She falls in love with a young man (John Davidson) from a wealthy new money family while away at school. Even as he beguiles her with promises of a new start in the automobile industry, her father's wondering if he can ever let her go.

The story's not that interesting, but this does have some nice Sherman Brothers music. Tommy Steele, as the new Irish butler, gets "Fortuosity" and "I'll Always Be Irish" and joins a wonderfully catty Geraldine Page and Gladys Cooper for "There are Those." Warren's best number is the wistful "Valentine Candy," as she wonders just how much of a tomboy she wants to be.

(And I wish my pancakes had come out better. I burned both of them, the first rather badly.)

Work was a pain early on. I got in at noon, just as people were starting to get ready for the 1 PM Eagles-Giants game. Every time I tried to get something done, I'd get pulled to do something else. I started the carts...then got told to do the bathrooms. I started that, then was told to do trash. Started the trash - got told to clean up a spill that was really more like black marks on the front end of the soda and snacks aisle. Thanks to a great game, it slowed down enough by the second half of my shift that I was able to spend it shelving returns and bagging.

(And it was a really good game. From what I gathered, the Eagles dominated the first half, but the Giants came back in the second. It was tied 21-21 when I peered in the back room right after finishing work. I later found out the Eagles won by an amazing 61-yard field goal at literally the last second of the game, 27-24.)

Went straight home after work and into writing. Jasper sends a couple of his men to get Luke out of his sight, including one very big goon with really big teeth. Luke manages to dodge the man and even knocks him into the bar, then into sandcastles when they chase him onto the beach. The boy gets to the boardwalk, only to run into more of Jasper's men than he can handle. One knocks him out and brings him to his boss. Jasper spares Luke because Leia's his sister...and because he has more fiendish plans for the young man and his friends.

Broke at 7 for a really quick dinner. Listened to La Cage Aux Folles as I ate. The Broadway version of the popular French farce would have been the hottest new show on the boards during late August 1983, when the Jasper Hutt segment of my story is set. Two gay men (George Hearn and Gene Barry) run a nightclub with a chorus of (mostly) men in drag in St. Tropez. They're thrown into a tizzy when their son brings home a fiancee whose very conservative parents want to meet them.

Jerry Herman's last major show to date is actually my favorite of his shows overall along with Hello Dolly!. It's been a hit all three times it's been on Broadway, most recently with Kelsey Grammar in 2010. While Alvin's anthem "I Am What I Am" is probably the best known number, my favorites are the charming "With You On My Arm," the touching ballad "Song On the Sand," and the rousing "The Best of Times."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Just Sing, Sing a Song..."

Started off a glorious blue and gold morning with breakfast and The Backyardigans. "Front Page News" is another Backyardigans tale of interpret journalists. Tasha is a photographer with a secret identity - she's also Super Snap, a Flash-like quick-running heroine. There's a giant robot loose in Bigopolis, and her boss Pablo wants her to get the front page photo. Trouble is, she's too busy helping Bubble Man (Tyrone) and Bug Girl (Uniqua) save the day to get the shot...but when the robot starts demanding "cheese," she's the only one who knows what he really wants.

Headed out to run errands around quarter of 10. Ran into Richard, who was getting ready to go on a trip. He was nice enough to fix the chain on my bike and pump up the tires further. I'm going to have to wait for a little while longer to get my other bike fixed. I'll probably order a tire this week, but he won't be back until next week, and the bike is in his garage to save room.

At least I was able to get to the Collingswood Farm Market and back. The lovely day brought people out of the woodwork, and so did the debuting fall produce. Watermelon's gone, replaced by hard winter squash and pumpkins. I bought apples, peaches (the pears I got last week never ripened), two small green and red peppers, mushrooms, a tomato, a zucchini, and an eggplant, along with this year's pumpkin for the house. (I never carve my pumpkin. I'd probably end up carving me along with it! I keep it on display in my living room until Thanksgiving or it goes bad, whichever comes first.)

Checked out a couple of yard sales, but they didn't have anything interesting. Headed home to change, put everything away, and have a quick lunch before riding back out to Audubon for their town-wide yard sale. It was kind of late by then, and I didn't have much chance to look around. Didn't see anything before I had to move on to work. I lingered a little too long and was almost late again, though I just made it under the gun this time.

Work was a bit of a pain in the first half. The manager kept dumping me in the registers every time there was even just one person waiting on the end of the line. I'm surprised I managed to get the baskets or the inside trash done. (Also did the bathrooms, but they really just needed to be swept.) I was late getting on my break because they were worried about that one person standing on the end of the line. It wasn't even really that busy.

Was happier spending most of the second half of my shift outside after I finally got my break. It was too nice to be inside the entire day anyway. While it was still hot, the humidity from earlier in the week had dissipated overnight, leaving a soft breeze and a sky so brilliantly blue, it hurt my eyes to look at it.

Grabbed some Turkey Hill Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream after work, then headed right home. Went right into writing as soon as I put the carton away. Luke arrives at the Oasis Bar and Grill, an exclusive restaurant on the beach that's popular with beachgoers and the rich and powerful alike. It takes the invitation - and a few carefully-placed bribes - for Luke to get in. He sits down with Jasper, reminding him of how Ahsoka and his brother Adam once helped him. Jasper considers the Jedi Knights to be dead and him to be a nonentity. Leia sits next to him, trying to look demure and like she drank the drugs Jasper gave her, but really getting angrier by the minute.

Made a tasty swordfish steak with Chinese beans cooked in a lemon wine sauce and very sweet corn on the cob for dinner. Watched Sing while I ate, and later while I worked on crocheting. Buster Moon (Matthew MacConaughey) loves show business with every fiber of his koala being, but his beloved theater, the Moon, is in such dire shape, he's stealing electricity from others and avoiding his bank creditors. Desperate, he holds a singing contest. Half the city lines up after his doddering secretary Ms. Crowley (Garth Jennings) accidentally adds a few zeroes to the $1,000 prize, making it into $100, 000. Among those auditioning are Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a housewife pig who wants to get away from the drudgery of caring for 25 piglets, Ash (Scarlet Johanssen), a porcupine who wants to get out from the shadow of her obnoxious boyfriend and perform her own punk-rock composition, Gunter (Nick Kroll), a free-wheeling pig dancer, obnoxious-but-talented Sinatra-loving mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane), and Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gentle gorilla who doesn't want to follow his father into the bank robbing business. Although Buster can be insensitive, he's also encouraging, especially to a very shy elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly) with an amazing voice. When disaster strikes the theater, this disparate group learns that one should never let fear or overwhelming odds stop you from doing what you love most.

This was a pleasant surprise. I really loved it. It reminded me a bit of Zootopia, to the point where I half-expected Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde to show up when someone threatened to call the police near the end. Sensational animation, too. Very colorful and fun. Wish there had been more details on some of the animals, but the effects animation was incredible, and the details on the theater itself were really nice

I didn't mind that the story wasn't the most original. I love stories like this. I did wish we'd spent more time with characters other than Buster Moon. Frankly, I found everyone but him to be interesting. Buster, for all his charm and encouragement, was a bit of a jerk who was lucky his theater hadn't been repossessed well before this. Ash and her boyfriend problems, Johnny and his father, Meena and her encouraging family, and Rosita's brilliant method of keeping her family going in her absence were far more compelling. I also wish we'd dived a little further into this animal world. You learn very little about the actual city or universe itself.

Some of the performances were surprises, too. Egerton in particular was a revelation - who knew the kid from the Kingsman films could belt Elton John like a champ? Some people complained that Witherspoon's big number was inappropriate for her voice, but I thought it was a riot. And MacFarlane's Sinatra number in the finale would have made the Chairman of the Board himself proud.

If you're as passionate about the theater as Buster and me or are a big fan of the cast or musicals, you may find yourself cheering along with this one, too.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trouble In the Fall

Got up earlier than I have been of late. Started the morning with breakfast and two black-and-white Silly Symphony shorts to celebrate the first day of fall. "Autumn" is one of the early music video shorts, depicting animals gathering food for the winter. "The Cat's Out" has a lot in common with the later "Pluto's Judgement Day," including some nightmarish imagery. Here, it's the feline who gets judgement from the trees, birds, and insects in the backyard after chasing a bird onto the roof.

Worked on writing through 12:30. Went back and added a scene between Leia being drugged and Leia awakening in the Royal Suite that has Hank ending up in a storage room. Charlie's tossed in with him and ends up holding him while he unloads the drugs - and whatever he last ate - from his stomach.

The next day, Arturro and Chip bring Luke the message from Leia. Chip gives Luke an invitation to a private tea luncheon at the Oasis Bar and Grill on the beach, where Jasper intends to show off Leia to his mobster buddies. Clad in his new black leather jacket with the Jedi Knights patch on the back, Luke tells the duo that he intends to crash the party.

Broke at 12:30 to do some decorating. With this being the first day of fall, it was finally time for the summer decorations to come down and the general fall items to go up. I only had enough time to put out the fabric leaf garlands, metal and wood garlands, the little "nuts and seeds" beaded wreath, the big bow wreath, and a few odds and ends like the embroidered pillow from JoAnn's and the dangling scarecrow Mom made for me when I was in college. (But the scarecrow bell broke. Boo! I'll have to fix him when I can.)

Ran an episode of Wonder Woman from the third season while I worked and had a really quick lunch. "The Deadly Sting" has been turning sure-thing football teams into losers and underdogs into winners. Diana's sent to discover just what it is that's causing this..and finds herself flung headfirst into the world of illegal sports betting and organized crime.

I was slightly late heading out, but I didn't think that would be a problem...until I realized the chain was off the bike. There was no one around to fix it, and it was too late to call for a ride or a cab. I just walked to work and got in ten minutes late.

After all that, work wasn't too bad. I did get stuck in the register for 20 minutes when we were a little busy. In fact, that was the only time we were really busy all day. I did trash and the few return that were there and helped the head bagger with baskets and carts, then did them on my own after she went home.

Not too bad of a schedule this week. Wednesday and next Saturday off and more morning hours than I have been getting lately, including an early day Thursday. Still wish I had more hours; otherwise pretty par for the course.

It's probably just as well that I didn't have a lot of grocery shopping to do this week, considering I couldn't carry as much while walking as on the bike. Took advantage of sales and online coupons to restock yogurt, skim milk, cake mix (Duncan Hines was on sale), mandarin oranges, toilet paper, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and cereal. Didn't need the dark chocolate chips or peanut butter, but they were both on really good sales.

It took me so long to get home and get everything put away, I didn't get to dinner until past 7:30. Watched an episode of The Backyardigans to cheer me up after all the trouble this afternoon. Tyrone and Pablo think their fields of exceptional corn is a "News Flash." TV reporters Tasha and Uniqua and cameraman Austin disagree. At least, until they mistake the boys' corn "decorations" for crop circles and think aliens are coming! Now the boys have to keep up the deception if they want their corn to continue to be the best thing around.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The End of the Matrix

It was still bright and sunny when I got up this morning, but not nearly as humid as it has been. It was a good time for some cleaning after breakfast. I finally got to vacuuming and washing the windows. I'll see if I can dust really fast tomorrow.

Ran a couple of episodes of The Backyardigans while I did my chores. "Samurai Pie" is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. You won't see a moose teach his purple kangaroo assistant how to make The Great Pie for a hippo Empress using moves of warriors of ancient Japan, scored to spaghetti western music, anywhere else. 

"Whodunnit?" is less creative but still pretty cute. Sherlock Pablo has to find out who stole Lady Tasha's jewels at Mystery Manor. Was it Tyrone the Butler? Austin Frothingslosh, who leaves suddenly for what seems like no reason? Or Uniqua Underhood, who knows about the robbery before it happens?

Headed out to run today's errands around 10:30. Started at the Oaklyn Library. Not surprisingly, given the nice day, it was just the librarians and me for the entire half-hour I was there. I looked over the DVDs, but mostly reorganized the picture books. Took out Batman Begins and The Matrix Revolutions (which I had out last week, but didn't get to watch before the DVD recorder died). 

Went home, put the DVDs upstairs, grabbed my iPod and coupons, and rested briefly before heading back out again. I picked up the bus at the White Horse Pike across from Merryfields Bar and Grill. It was touch and go around some road repairs in Westmont. Otherwise, there was no traffic and no problems. I was at the Market Place in Cherry Hill by 12:30. 

Pei Wei is the first restaurant you see when you get off a block from the Holiday Inn. I just went right in and was grateful that, despite the busy main room, the line wasn't too long. Had crab wontons in sweet chili sauce. The chili sauce was a little spicy, but not too horrible. The crab wontons were filled with an odd cream cheese-crab mixture. I did taste the crab, but not too much else. Washed them down with chai (lukewarm) tea.

First stop was Bed Bath and Beyond. I wanted to finally put a dent in that stack of coupons for them I've had laying around for over a year. It wasn't too hard to find a nice, plump brick red cushion for my dining area chair. (I like the kind that tie - the ones that stick on are harder to get off and make a mess when you try.) It took me a little while longer to dig up the magnetic curtain rod (which were on a rack near the back of the curtain area) or a curtain that would work and wasn't too expensive. Found a simple light brown weave on clearance that'll do for now. I noticed Miss Willa uses a suction cup hanger for her wreath; thought I'd try that.  Also grabbed conditioner. With the coupons, all of this cost $35.

Had no luck anywhere else. The only tire the had at Dick's that was close to the right size was way too expensive. I checked twice and didn't see anything. Couldn't find a box to plug in my Wii and my VCR with my TV at Best Buy, either. I may order both online. Saw a few interesting Mercedes Lackey novels at Barnes and Noble that the library doesn't have, but held off on buying them. Christmas is coming (and so's a lot of used book sales). (And they didn't have anything new on the Star Wars front besides some toys.) I did get rolls at a busy Wegman's for dinner, along with flavored water and money for the bus. Browsed briefly through Hallmark's just to kill time (and check out their Star Wars Itty Bittys). 

The bus showed up literally a second after I stepped up to the bus stop sign. Once again, there were no problems, not even around the road repair. I got to the White Horse Pike 15 minutes later, then rode straight home.

Hung the curtain and tied the pillow on the chair as soon as I got home. The curtain's a little long, but not as much as I expected. I can always crochet a rope to tie it back. Maybe I could buy lengths of fabric to make some seasonal curtains from yard sales and craft stores, or even crochet them.

Spent the next few hours writing. Leia awakens with a fuzzy head and the realization that she was drugged the night before. The maids put her shoes on and do her hair. They try to get her into frilly teddies before she vetoes that idea. When Jasper arrives, he insists on dressing her and choosing her clothes and accessories like his own private Barbie doll, including a gold and diamond choker as proof of "ownership." 

Arturro is among the waiters serving breakfast. After catching Jasper drugging her tea this time, she manages to hand it to Arturro to get rid of and hands off a note for Luke and Lance to him.

I got so into writing, it was 7:30 before I broke for dinner! The rolls became turkey meatball sandwiches. Ate them with Ratatouille made from the last of a lot of vegetables that were starting to get too soft in the fridge. 

Did The Matrix Revolutions while I ate, and later as I went online. We pick up where we left off, with Neo (Keanu Reeves) stuck in The Matrix. Or, more specifically, he's at a train station that's some kind of limbo, chatting with a strange Indian family and The Oracle (Mary Alice). The others, including his lady friend Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss), rescue him and bring him back to their ship. But Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is making clones of himself right and left, including one of the rebels. Neo and Trinity have to get back to the Machine City and stop Smith before he completely takes over both the Matrix and the "real world." Meanwhile, Morpheous and his crew hold back the metal squids in an attempt to save their own ships and bring peace to the Matrix for good.

And I...had no idea what was going on here. What the heck was this? The first half, with the Indian family and the others trying to get Neo back, was odd but not too far off from the other films. In the second half, all bets are off. Neo's barely in the second half of the movie! Did they want to make a movie about a war, or the journey of a god-like character, or what? The ending made absolutely no sense whatsoever and was both anticlimactic and boring.

I wouldn't come within a hundred miles of this one unless you've seen the other movies and/or are a huge fan of this series. 

(And now that we've come to the end of this series, I can safely say that, even more than Pirates of the Caribbean, this should not have been a series. The first movie is so much of its time, there's no way they could have replicated it in subsequent films. The original film is highly recommended for action fans, kung fu nuts, sci-fi enthusiasts, and those who just want to know what was cool in the late 90's. The other two are only if you really, really loved the first movie and can't live without more.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Golden Afternoon

I slept in a lot longer than I planned today! When I did roll out of bed, I kicked off a sunny, warm day with a quick breakfast and an episode of Sailor Moon's fourth season. "Forest of Illusion: A Beautiful Fairy's Invitation" proves to be nothing but trouble for Chibi-Usa and her new friend, the author of a book on the fairy world. He thinks he sees a real fairy in the woods, but she's far from what she appears to be!

It was past noon when I finally made it out to the laundromat to get that done. Everyone must have been at lunch. The laundromat was dead as can be when I arrived. I worked on story notes and half-listened to soap operas. Two people walked through the entire time I was there. I didn't have anywhere near as huge of a load as I did yesterday, anyway. I was in and out in less than 40 minutes.

(I noticed while I was there that they're finally starting to rebuilt the Amato Bros deli across the street after it was gutted by a fire last year. It must have been worse than I thought. They tore it down to the bare wood and are pretty much starting over. I hope they're finished soon. I miss their hoagies, especially the Mama's Turkey.)

As soon as I got home and put my clothes away, I went right back out again. First stop was Phillies Phatties for a quick lunch. It was almost 2 by this point, and they were relatively quiet, with a couple of college guys eating pizza while watching the Science channel. I took my slice of cheese, slice of mushroom, and can of Pitch Black outside to one of the benches to enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

Cut across Newton Lake Park to the Haddon Township Library. It couldn't have been a nicer day for a ride. It was warm and still a bit humid, but that deliciously cool wind helped. The park looks absolutely glorious at this time of the year. The trees are still mostly green; lacy goldenrod waved in the breeze. I've seen some algae down by the ramp at Kendall Boulevard, but none here. The water sparkled like a newly-polished antique glass bottle.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't busy when I initially arrived. Since almost everything had been shelved that morning, I worked on organizing the adult and children's DVDs and pulling TV sets that had somehow ended up with the regular titles. Dodged the kids who came in after school let out as I worked. Took out Sing (which I never got to last week after the DVD recorder died), The LEGO Batman Movie, and Divergent, the first movie in the series of that title. Found more Mercedes Lackey Elemental fairy tale retellings; opted for the World War I-based Cinderella story, Phoenix and Ashes.

Since it was past 4 PM when I left, I took the short way home down Cuthbert Road. Stopped briefly at WaWa. They used to carry plain rolls. I couldn't find any today, but I did buy the Perrier Watermelon Sparkling Water. (It's good - really tastes like watermelon.)

Richard was working on the outlet when he got home. Turns out it wasn't the outlet. Some wire downstairs was crossed or something. He gave up intially...then came back and said he'd try something. Whatever he did worked. The outlet's been running fine since he left.

While he worked, I went on the computer and did some writing. Leia is taken to the Royal Suite, a pink, gold, and white confection of feminine frills and pseudo-Victorian furnishings. Maids wash her in a huge sunken tub, then dress her in a lacy nightgown and tuck her into a massive silk canopy bed with gold trim. Jasper's second-in-command Babe Fortuna brings her tea and muffins. The tea is drugged; it drops her into a deep sleep. He doesn't like Jasper's interest in the girl, especially given how strong-willed she is, but boss' orders.

It wasn't until after 7 that I finally broke for dinner. Made a quick scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, and cheese while watching more Sailor Moon episodes. Ami jumps to conclusions when she sees Mamoru with an attractive woman in "Drive to the Heavens: The Dream Car Fueled With Love." Turns out he's just helping the woman with a vintage car that she and her late husband had dreamed of restoring. Ami's suspicion quickly turns to enthusiasm. The other Guardians are so delighted with her dream, they help out, too. Their dreams may end up off the road when a look-a-like of her husband shows up, trying to encourage her to give up on her dream. But some dreams are too good to be true...

Finished off the disc with "Aiming for the Top: The Pretty Swordswoman's Dilemma" while having Tomato-Spice Cake for dessert. The "pretty swordswoman" is actually a little girl Chibi-Usa's age who is learning the art of samurai swordsmanship. She trains hard and lives harder in order to impress her mother, who is also an excellent swordswoman. Chibi-Usa thinks the mother is abusive, but Usagi can tell she loves her daughter and is worried about how intense she is with her training. Her mother is right to be worried. The girl is so absorbed with her desire to be a warrior, she doesn't realize she's the Black Circus' next target...

Put on The LEGO Batman Movie while going online. In this homage to all things Dark Knight, Batman (Will Arnett) is the top crime-fighter in crime-ridden Gotham City. New police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) is fed up with his brooding, his vigilante ways, and his working outside the law. She's restructured the police department to eliminate the need for him. Things get worse when all the villains in Gotham break in and surrender. Batman just wants to dump The Joker (Zack Galafinakis) in Superman's Phantom Zone. He recruits his newly-adopted ward Dick Grayson, aka Robin (Michael Cera), to help him steal the Phantom Zone Projector. Unfortunately, the Joker gets it first, forcing Barbara to arrest the boys. She changes her mind when they learn the Joker has recruited all the villains in the Phantom Zone to help him destroy Gotham! Now Batman has to learn how to work with real friends if he's going to stop this menace...whether he likes it or not.

Cute take on Batman's lone wolf image and how it's evolved over the years, from Adam West to Ben Affleck. To be honest, I'd probably get more of this movie if I were a bigger fan of Batman, but even I enjoyed seeing Barbara take the "Caped Crusader" down a peg and how adorably nerdy Robin was. The animation was amazing, too, especially in the action scenes. It's incredible how they manage to do all those crazy Gotham buildings with plastic bricks. I was less impressed with the Joker. Galafinakis just sounds too...cuddly...to pass for Gotham's nastiest villain.

Your enjoyment of this one will depend on how big of a fan of Batman you are...but even those who aren't that into the Dark Knight will probably have fun with some of the gags and the bright brick-by-brick animation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Love and Mystery are On the Air Tonight

It was still cloudy and gloomy when I got up this morning and still humid, but not nearly as hot. I ran an episode of the original Scooby Doo, Where are You? set in San Francisco's Chinatown while eating breakfast. It's a "Mystery Mask Mix-Up" when Daphne buys a jeweled mask in an antique shop that a phantom also wants. Mr. Fong, a historian, claims the relic once belonged to an ancient warlord whose ghost wants it back. Velma thinks there's someone else behind the spooky goings-on.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. In the dead of night, after even the casino has cleared out, Leia and Charlie creep into the lobby. Leia, who swiped the keys to the cage from Jasper, frees Hank. Her kiss breaks him somewhat out of his drugged state, though he can't see her well. He lost his prescription sunglasses when he fell into the tank, and his spares are in the Falcon. Charlie dreamily compares it to the tale Jasper told earlier, insisting that it's the princess, not the evil wizard, who breaks the curse over the warrior.

Jasper catches them just as they're leaving. He orders his men to wash the powder off Hank, then toss him and Charlie in the basement. Leia is shoved into his lap. He'll keep her as his mistress and personal plaything, to her disgust.

Broke at 1 for lunch and to get ready for work. Ran the first special on one of my homemade DVDs as I ate. Rescue at Nightmare Castle was the very first My Little Pony special, from 1982. Firefly, the bravest of all the Pegasus ponies, brings Meghan, a normal human girl, to their world. Tirak, an evil demon, has been stealing ponies to transform into dragons to pull his chariot. If he gets enough, he'll create the Night That Never Ends! Meghan and the remaining ponies seek the help of the absent-minded Moochick and singing Sea Ponies to defeat the nasty creature.

Work was nowhere near as annoying as it has been lately. It began showering when I was riding to the Acme, and continued to shower off and on (sometimes heavily) for the rest of the day. It was hardly the best time to be lingering after work. We were never more than mildly steady the entire night. I mostly gathered carts and baskets; briefly did the trash later and mopped the women's bathroom (the men's didn't really need it) early on.

The rain had begun to pick up as I was riding home. I arrived quite damp. Ran Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, the next title on the disc, as I changed into dry clothes and tossed some vegetables into the leftover beef soup for dinner. While acting as a watchdog for Peppermint Patty, Snoopy encounters the poodle of his dreams and proposes. As the kids prepare the wedding ceremony, Snoopy's brother Spike tries to earn enough money to head east for the event.

Thought I'd try something a little different tonight. I love tomato soup, and I thought the recipe for Tomato-Spice Cake in The Cake Doctor actually sounded delicious. Since I used the non-concentrated Cream of Tomato soup, I eliminated the water and added brown sugar. Oooh, it came out soooo nicely. Who knew tomato soup could compliment spice cake so well, you barely taste the tomato?

Watched Radioland Murders as I baked. Love and mystery are on the air in 1940 as radio station WBN goes coast to coast to become America's fourth network. Writer Roger Henderson (Brian Benben) is only interested in getting back into the good graces of his wife Penny (Mary Stuart Masterson) after he had an affair with the vamp-ish Claudette Kasenbach (Anita Morris). He suddenly has a lot more on his mind than his love life when people begin dying backstage, including Claudette's estranged German husband (Larry Miller), the director (Jeffrey Tambor) and the station's owner (Ned Beatty). Roger has the bad luck to be near the crime every time, making the police suspect him. Now he has to clear his name, or he might be writing his final scene in prison.

The first half of this movie is fast and funny, with some great cameos (look for George Burns in his final screen appearance, among others) and delightful parodies of real-life radio shows. The trouble is in the second half, after the murders stop and Roger realizes it wasn't just a love triangle. This is where the slapstick and farce take over, seriously bogging down the remainder of the film and taking the spotlight away from the carefully crafted radio spoofs.

If you're a fan of the cast, old-time radio, or screwball comedy, you might be willing to give this kooky mystery a try.

Finished the night online while watching another little-known comic mystery. Clue is based around the famous board game that has six people accused of killing Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) in a spooky mansion. Here, they're joined by butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) and busty French maid Yvette (Colleen Camp), both of whom may know a lot more about the murders than they reveal at first. After Boddy's death, the bodies begin to pile up, and now the entire crew - goofy Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), sassy madam Miss Scarlet (Leslie Ann Warren), prim politician's wife Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), lusty psychiatrist Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), black widow Mrs. White (Madeline Khan), and clumsy Mr. Green (Michael McKean) - have to figure out who dunnit, before someone does it to them "in the hall, with the revolver."

This has been one of my favorite movies since my family taped it off cable around 1987. Mom always called it our official "stormy evening" movie - we watched it whenever there was an especially spooky thunderstorm. Like Radioland Murders, this is a fast-paced farce with a great all-star cast at the top of its game. Unlike Murders, it doesn't overstay its welcome or lose focus on its core cast and the mystery at hand. Everyone has a moment to shine, from Curry's breathless summation of the entire film to Kahn's "breathing, breathless" speech towards the end that was apparently improvised.

A big problem - and part of why the critics may have complained - are the multiple endings. All three are included on the DVD. You can either run one at random, or all three. (I prefer all three, as it is on streaming services and the original video. It's more fun that way, and really just what I'm used to.) Audiences at movie theaters, however, only got one random ending, something that baffled people then. Between the game tie-in and the multiple endings, I suspect this movie was simply ahead of its time.

If you love a good comedy or a good mystery, or are intrigued by the multiple endings gimmick, this is one of the most underrated comedies of the 1980's and is highly recommended.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Rain and the Sun Together

Started off the day - and continued to test the new DVD player - with a first season Backyardigans episode. Pablo, Uniqua, and Tyrone can't decide on whether to play something fast, thrilling, or funny. Tasha suggests a "High Tea" party. This is met with groans from the others. Tea parties are boring! Not the way Tasha does them. She takes the kids off an adventure to the jungles of Borneo, the palace of the Emperor of China (Austin), and the Gobi Desert to find the right ingredients for the perfect cup of tea.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Jasper tries to ask Leia out to dinner, but she refuses. He's flabby, sweaty, and vulgar, not to mention a gangster. She wants nothing to do with him. He has distractions anyway. He's about ready to unveil his newest act. 

To Leia's horror, two men pull off a canvas tarp to reveal Hank in a cage, mostly naked and covered in white makeup to resemble a living statue. He's in a heavily drugged haze, enough to obey Jasper's commands to dance for the crowd. Jasper calls him a Grecian warrior who was enchanted by a wizard...and as the wizard's "descendant," he is now the only one who can awaken the "statue." His bodyguard Babe Fortuna holds Leia back as he returns the "statue" to his cage, setting him up in the lobby to be displayed like a decoration.

Charlie and Lance meet her in a quiet corner of the casino floor. She's more determined than ever to get Hank - and all of them - out of there. The trio make plans as people begin to move elsewhere for the evening...

Switched back to a homemade DVD when I broke for lunch. (After getting a call for Charlie that he planned on turning off the water to work on a clogged sewer pipe. Whatever. I was going to have yogurt and muffins anyway.) The Muppet Babies Video Storybooks were what they said on the tin - a series of made-for-video shorts, each based around one of the Muppet Babies picture books of the mid-80's. They were made with minimal animation and look as cheap as they probably are, but the stories are charming, and they do feature wrap-arounds and narration by the adult Kermit, and in the episode I watched, Robin.

Kermit tries to read Robin stories to get him to go to sleep, but he keeps asking for more. The first has a bored Gonzo imagining he's a pirate following a "treasure map" on the back of a cereal box, and discovers how much fun creating stories in your mind can be. In the second story, Baby Piggy's holding a ball for all her dolls. Gonzo wants to play too, but she says no. He'd ruin the party. She learns just how snobbish she was acting when her beloved clown doll acts out and ruins things anyway...and she still forgives him, because she's his friend. The third has Kermit, who refuses to sleep, dreaming he helps a knight who didn't get a good night's rest rescue a beautiful princess from a fire-breathing dragon.

I ended up spending the first half of work in the registers. A cashier had called out, and they needed extra help. It wasn't so bad when I came in, but rush hour was insane, with very long lines. Today was the end of a four-day sale, and the Giants played Monday Night Football. (Incidentally, the Detroit Lions mauled them 24-10.) It was so bad, they finally pulled me out of the registers around quarter of 5 to do carts. I also ended up doing some bagging. 

(Incidentally, the weather was really weird tonight. It was sunny for most of the day, until around 4:30, when the clouds started to build...sort of. We were showered on by one big, thick cloud for about ten minutes. By the time I finished, the clouds were gone and the sun had returned.)

While it wasn't as hot as it has been, thanks to a nice, cool breeze, it was still really humid. I went straight into the shower when I got home. I bought two cans of soup that were on clearance (along with milk and bakery chocolate chip cookies) on my way home. I settled on having Beef Vegetable Soup for dinner. 

Since the book I'm currently reading, Mercedes Lackey's version of Beauty and the Beast titled The Fire Rose, is set in San Francisco just prior to the 1906 earthquake, I thought I'd watch the 1936 movie San Francisco tonight. Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald) arrives at Blackie Norton's (Clark Gable) Barbary Coast night club without a cent to her name, looking for a singing job. He hires her, and the two eventually fall for each other. Blackie's buddy Father Tim (Spencer Tracy) thinks Mary could do better. So does Jack Burley (Jack Holt), who wants her to sing at his opera house. Mary doesn't want to break her contract, but changes her mind when Blackie tries to push their relationship too hard. Meanwhile, Blackie's trying to get onto the San Francisco Board of Directors, hoping to reform fire codes and vice in the Coast. Burley, who owns some of those firetrap tenements, doesn't like this at all and arranges to have Blackie's saloon shut down. Mary sings in his honor at a local ball and wins a prize. Blackie turns it away...and instantly regrets it when the earth rumbles beneath them, the ground splits open, and all hell literally breaks loose.

Classic early disaster film set the mold for many that came after it. While Gable, Tracy, MacDonald, and Holt aren't bad (Tracy was Oscar-nominated; the sound recording won), the real stars of this film are the still-amazing special effects in the last 20 minutes. Even today, the sequence is incredible, with all the falling debris and cracked floors. 

If you love the cast, old-fashioned romantic melodrama, or disaster movies, this is one of the earliest and best of the genre. 

Oh, and first of all, as you may have guessed from the shower, the water's back on. Second, Richard said he was going to look at the outlet. I'm guessing he did. It's now covered by duct tape. He hasn't told me exactly what happened, but my guess is the outlet is old and finally died.