Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Perfect Spring

The weather continued to be utterly amazing. Sunshine poured through my window as I switched on this week's American Top 40 and finished out The Jedera Adventure. Late April 1985 brought in pop, power ballads, dance tunes, and charity albums to the fore, with hits like "Rhythm of the Night" by Debarge, "One More Night" by Phil Collins, "Night Shift" by a Lionel Richie-less Commodores, "One Night In Bangkok" by Murray Head (from the smash London musical Chess), "Some Like It Hot" by Power Station, "(Don't You) Forget About Me" by Simple Minds, and "Smooth Operator" by Sade. The #1 song that spring was one I remember well. "We are the World" was made by some of the most famous musicians in the business for a good cause, in this case providing food and medical aid for starving citizens of Africa. It ran constantly on the radio that spring, and I remember seeing the video on MTV.

I finished breakfast and got organized for an hour while watching Popeye cartoons, then headed out to run errands. My first stop was the Logan Presbyterian Church's thrift shop, which was open today. I wanted to bring one last small bag of donations, including that mini sewing machine I could never really get to work. Someone else might have more luck with it. I don't really have the room for huge sewing projects, anyway. For now, I'm better off with crafts that require less equipment and space, like crocheting. It was far quieter there than usual. I didn't see anything I really needed and headed out quickly.

My next stop was the Acme for this week's grocery shopping trip. I didn't need much there, either. I was mainly restocking fruits and vegetables, including asparagus, strawberries on sale, and those sweet little clementines. Found ground turkey with a manager's coupon; I'll make spaghetti and meatballs or meatloaf later in the week. Stocked up on canned fruit, including mixed fruit and peaches.

Also picked up my schedule while I was at the Acme. Pretty par for the course for late April-early May. There's one slightly long day and a few too many late days, but other than that, I have two days off (Tuesday a request for counseling), and nothing major to complain about.

When I got home, I put everything away, then went right back out. The sun was shining. The breeze was blowing gently through the brand-new, lime-green leaves. The gardens were bursting with irises, lilacs, tulips, and pansies. People were trying to start lawn mowers in order to shear grass that had shot to Amazonian proportions in some places, thanks to all the rain we've had lately.

It was a lovely day to run errands. I made a short stop at the Oaklyn Library first. Mainly concentrated on organizing a messy kids' DVD section and the board books. I actually took DVDs out from there. They have last year's musical version of Les Miserables (which the Haddon Township Library hasn't gotten in yet). I also grabbed two cartoon sets, a collection of Disney action-themed shorts and two two-part episodes from the superhero-based cartoon Justice League.

My next two stops were short. I treated myself to a frozen chai latte from WaWa, as the Icee machine was being repaired. It was nicely spicy, but way too sweet for my taste. I didn't finish the whole thing before I went across the street to Family Dollar. I wanted to find a beach chair to lounge in on my porch. All they had were those "camp chairs" with the polyester bottoms. I don't think they'd be sturdy enough to hold me, not to mention not all that comfortable for reading. I went home empty-handed.

I had leftovers for lunch while finishing out the Popeye cartoons, then spent a blissful hour reading Simple Abundance on a felt blanket on my porch. It was a little uncomfortable on the thin blanket, but I couldn't find anything else that would work. It felt absolutely amazing. The sun was warm, but not too hot, and the breeze kept me from feeling sweaty. Since I was out there, I also swept the porch, which needed it badly, thanks to all the recent storms.

Went back inside when it felt like the back of my legs were getting burnt. I crocheted and baked an Orange Butter Cake (a variation on the Simple Cake from Clara's Kitchen, with the additions of orange juice, marmalade, and orange extract) while watching the Justice League DVD. What a difference two decades makes! This had almost nothing in common with the slightly goofy cartoon of my childhood. In the first two-parter, the current Green Lantern finds himself in a galactic trial for destroying a planet with billions of people. The Flash distracts the courtroom, while the others find out what really happened to the planet. Aquaman debuted in the second story, which had most of the League helping him rescue Atlantis and his family from his battle-crazed brother. I saw a little of this show during my years in Wildwood when I'd visit my folks, but never a full episode until now. Very interesting; I may have to seek out more, including the Superman show most of the same team did before this one.

Switched to dubbing the original The Land Before Time after the League ended. Little Foot is a baby brontosaurus who has been separated from his grandparents by an earthquake and lost his beloved mother to a "sharp tooth" (tyrannosaurus rex). He's joined by four other dinosaurs who were separated by the quake as well to lead them to the lush Great Valley, where there will finally be enough food for all.

If you have grade-school age and older kids who love dinosaurs, they should see this at least once. It was a huge hit in the late 80s for a good reason. The characters are well-drawn and the animation is incredibly lush, drawing you into this primeval world. This isn't for younger dino-lovers, though. The death of Little Foot's mother is every bit as traumatic as the death of Bambi's, especially as it comes after a huge confrontation between her and the T-Rex. My sisters and I cried over that scene when we first saw it; even my big macho stepfather wept openly.

This is a touching tale for kids who can handle the death and separation, and one of Don Bluth's best movies. If your children are younger, you may want to try them on one of the numerous sequels first.

Moved to something entirely less traumatic as I made Beans and Rice with carrots and corn for dinner. Daffy Duck's Quackbusters is the last of the 70s and 80s Looney Tunes movies based around bits and pieces of older shorts. Here, however, we have two entire new shorts woven in along with the original material and far more plot than usual. After peddling gag items to no avail, Daffy finally earns his fortune by making a famously grumpy financier laugh. When his provider kicks the bucket, Daffy gets the dough...provided he can start an honest business. If Daffy doesn't stay honest in his dealings, the financier's ghost proves that he can take his earthy goods with him. Determined to get rid of the ghost, Daffy hires Porky and Bugs to help him ferret out all manner of paranormal parasites, from a monstrous Tweety to a female duck who has been possessed by spirits.

Along with The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, this is probably my favorite of the Looney Tunes "movies." For one thing, the mix of new and old animation is far more seamless than it is in earlier entries. Having an actual plot helps, too. Daffy's "commercials" sprinkled throughout most of the movie are especially funny. It's still no substitution for the real shorts (and I think most of these are on DVD), but if you're a fan of the Looney Tunes, Daffy, horror comedy, or the previous Tunes films, there's a lot to like.

(The copy of Land Before Time that I found at a yard sale last week was apparently taped off the Disney Channel, probably sometime in the early 90s, from the look of the logos. Since the movie is barely more than an hour, it came with two extra Disney shorts, the Goofy hunting tale "Tiger Trouble" and a favorite of mine, the sweet one-shot from the 50s "Lambert the Sheepish Lion.")

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