Thursday, May 29, 2014

Around the Clubhouse In a Half-Hour

It was a chilly, gloomy day when I ate my cereal and grapefruit for breakfast. I ran two Rick Steves' episodes to warm up the cloudy morning. I didn't really know much about Greece until I watched Steves' shows on modern Athens and the Peloponnese peninsula. While most people are likely familiar with the art, architecture, mythology, and philosophers of ancient Greece, many probably don't realize that Greece's history goes back thousands of years to before the philosophers...and has been just as tumultuous in recent times, including their hard-won independence from Turkish rule in the 1820s.

I volunteered at both libraries today, starting with a quick run at Oaklyn. They had a little more to do than they have, including more in the children's section. They weren't terribly busy, but their business was being blocked by road repairs on their block of Newton Avenue. I was there for about a half-hour before moving on.

Newton Lake Park was surprisingly busy for a cold day. I dodged dog-walkers and joggers. A flock of Canadian geese looked for an early lunch. A grandmother played with her grandson at the playground behind where the remains of the stone pavilion are. (Those remains are still there, looking the same as they did last week. The demolition uncovered a block that said the pavilion was built in 1939.)

The Haddon Township Library was a little busier than Oaklyn had been. I had to sign a paper to update my information. They've had a sign-in sheet for ages, but I stopped using it after the librarian who used to be in charge of volunteering retired and no one ever asked any questions. I'm going to have to use it again and wear a volunteer badge when I'm there.

Otherwise, I did the usual things. There were a ton of DVD returns, for kids and adults. I did manage to squeeze all of the kids' titles in, including that huge pile of "S" titles. Shelved even more adult movies, and a small stack of non-fiction titles. Cleared a few foreign films and one kids' title to where they belonged. Took out two cartoons and two adult movies. The library just got the newest titles for the Barbie fantasy series, Barbie as the Pearl Princess, and the most recent Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set, Around the Clubhouse World, in. I was inspired to try My Week With Marilyn, on Marilyn Monroe and the troubled filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, after I enjoyed Bombshell. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones flopped last year, but it has an interesting premise, and I thought I'd give it a shot anyway.

Went to Friendly's for a nice, warm lunch next. I had the basic All-American Burger and fries. It surprisingly wasn't busy for 1:30, which is still lunch for many people. There was one older woman reading, and two elderly female pairs chatting. I ate quickly and was out by two.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I tried a recipe for half-fat Chocolate Chip Cookies while watching Barbie as The Pearl Princess. Barbie's fourth mermaid story once again takes us under the sea, this time to the home of Lumina, a good-natured teenage mermaid who has the power to light up and manipulate pearls. Her protective Aunt Cilla forbids her from coming to the Palace with her, but when Lumina and her shy seahorse friend Kuda find her aunt's invitation, they try to bring it to her. Lumina inadvertently picks up a job doing hair in a salon near the palace, where her pearl-strewn creations become the talk of the ocean. The King and Queen's evil head captain wants his nerdy son to be king, but the boy would rather be a botanist. The King and Queen's daughter apparently disappeared years ago. When Lumina shows up at the ball, the captain begins to wonder just who this girl is, and how she has that power...

Something of a throwback to the more girlie-princess Barbie stories of the late 90s and early 2000s. It was ok, nothing really special other than some decent water animation. Not horrible if your daughter is really into Barbie or mermaid or princess stories, unnecessary for anyone else. Hopefully, this fall's Barbie and the Secret Door, which apparently involves Barbie walking into a world ruled by a princess, a mermaid, and a fairy, will be a lot more interesting.

Switched to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as I gave the bathroom a needed scrub. Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto drive around the "world," or at least see four modern wonders represented by different characters, in "Around the Clubhouse World." Donald and Daisy introduce them to the delights of France and the Eiffel Tower. They rescue Goofy and Clarabelle's runaway gondola in Venice, Italy. Pete reminds the gang that the Egyptians revered his cat ancestors when he plays pharaoh at the pyramids in Cairo. The last stop is in China, as we see Chip & Dale's adorable dragon dance at the Great Wall.

Some of the other episodes were pretty cute as well. "Donald and the Beanstalk" is something of a modern version of Mickey and the Beanstalk. Here, they're after Donald's beloved Boo-Boo Chicken. Mortimer Snerd would be happy to know that Willie has a far happier ending here! The "Handy Helpers," robotic hands that act as maids and repair-machines in the Clubhouse, break down in "Mickey's Handy Helpers." Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto try to figure out what's making the squeak and causing the gears in the main machine to jam, while Professor Ludwig Von Drake and Donald and Daisy keep an eye on the Handy Helpers.

Moved to a fourth season Moonlighting episode while making salmon with spring vegetables for dinner. "Eek! A Spouse" takes place later in the season, after Maddie has returned to LA. While Maddie tries to figure out why David won't talk to her, much less argue with her, the two work on solving the case of a wife who wants to try to buy off her husband's mistress. The husband seems to get violent, but Burt and David think there's something else going on.

By the way, those lower-fat chocolate chip cookies came out pretty well, tasty but a little dry. I think I'll take that tip in the book and add applesauce next time.

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