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.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Movin' Right Along

Began another warm, sunny morning with simple Buttermilk Pancakes and mandarin oranges for breakfast. Listened to a couple of kid-friendly record soundtracks while I ate and made Apple-Butterscotch Muffins. The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper both have really fun scores. "The Rainbow Connection" was the hit from Muppet Movie, but my favorite number is the jazzy instrumental version of "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" on side 2.

While Great Muppet Caper wasn't as big of a hit, the music is almost as good. The lovely ballad "The First Time It Happens" was nominated for an Oscar. I also like the meta opening number "It's a Movie!"

In honor of the sequel due out late next year, I ran the soundtrack for Mary Poppins as I got ready to go to work. Great cast here, including Julie Andrews as "practically perfect" Mary and Dick Van Dyke as her jack-of-all-trades beau Bert, not to mention such character actors as Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert (singing "I Love to Laugh"). "Chim Chim Cheree" may have won the Oscar, but my favorite numbers are two gentle lullabies that demonstrate the Sherman Brothers' ability to write ballads for a musical without a traditional girl-meets-boy plot, the dreamy "Stay Awake" and touching "Feed the Birds."

It was crazy at work when I arrived. I was outside for most of the day. I did get stuck in a register again, this time only for about 20 minutes, and I did have to deal with some cranky customers. Otherwise, I stuck to gathering carts. Unlike yesterday, I had plenty of help from two teenagers and an older bagger who mainly works outside. Despite the Eagles game beginning a hour after I arrived, it remained fairly busy right up until I left.

(Oh, and while they actually played really well, the Eagles just couldn't out-run the Chiefs and lost to them with a respectable 27-20.)

The DVD player was waiting for me on the steps when I got home. It did prove easy to set up; just had to plug everything in the right place. I can't believe how much smaller it is than the recorder! Doesn't even take up a third of the space that the older one did.

Unfortunately, almost as soon as I did get it together...the light on the power strip died. Nothing worked in the corner where the entertainment area is. Not even the CD player, which wasn't plugged into the power strip. After spending over a half-hour trying to figure it out, I called Richard and told him that the fuse had blown.

Only got a little writing in. Lance, who is passing himself off as a gambler, comes to talk to Leia as she finishes her number. He can't find Hank...and Jasper is eyeing her. He warns her about dealing with the corpulent gangster, but Leia insists she can take care of herself.

Broke at quarter of 7 for a quick leftovers dinner. Richard showed up as I was finishing. I'd already moved the power strip to the outlet behind the shelves with the Christmas DVDs, where I keep the lamp for the entertainment area. It worked perfectly fine. Richard says there might be something wrong with the socket. He'll fix it tomorrow. Charlie can't do it - he's got a lot of other projects going on, including an out-of-town one.

Tested the new DVD player with Summer Magic, the movie I tried to watch when the DVD recorder died last week. This time, it played just fine (and a lot quieter than the previous one). Based after the novel Mother Carey's Chickens, this live-action Disney musical takes us to New England in the early 1910's. The recently-widowed Mrs. Carey (Dorothy MacGuire) takes her three children to live in a big old house in Maine after having lost all their money in a bad investment. Daughter Nancy (Haley Mills) in particular is delighted. She loves the country and the new house and especially Ossium Poppum (Burl Ives), the kindly general store owner who helps them repair the house. Even the arrival of her snooty cousin Julia (Deborah Walley) can't diminish her happiness. However, the arrival of the house's wealthy real owner may throw a crimp into her new life...

I consider all of Disney's live-action musicals to be underrated, and this one is no exception. The charming, meandering story makes it perfect to watch in late summer/early fall. (I usually put it on between late August and early October.) If you love other musical excursions into Americana like Meet Me In St. Louis and On Moonlight Bay, you may want to enjoy a little "summer magic" too.

Finished the night with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as I went online. I did it partially to see how a homemade DVD would work (this is one of the movies I dubbed), and partially because I haven't watched it in ages. (Yes, it worked just fine.) Gene Wilder is the title character, a mysterious candy maker who is opening his chocolate factory for the first time in years. He sends out five Golden Tickets to the general public, inspiring a buying frenzy. While most of the children who find them are spoiled, selfish, and bratty, Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) is a gentle boy from a poor family who is a genuinely good kid. In the end, the kids, their guardians, and even Wonka himself learn the real winners are those with a sweet heart, not just a sweet tooth.

Later versions, including the 2005 remake and the two current stage musicals, would emphasize the darker edges in the story and update most of the kids' faults. (Roald Dahl himself apparently hated this version.) I've always liked this one. It's just dark enough (with that crazy boat ride) and the music is wonderful. It's a family favorite, to the point where it was the first movie we rented when we bought a VCR around 1985.

Highly recommended to families with older grade school kids on up who love musicals and can handle the darker aspects. (Those looking for an adaptation that's closer to the book or is a little darker may want to try the 2005 Tim Burton version instead of or before this one.)

Incidentally, I moved both the VCR and the DVD recorder out to the back room for now. I may put the VCR back eventually, but the recorder's done for. That'll probably go out the next time I put out the trash.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Farm Market Before the Rain

Ugh. I don't know what it was, but I couldn't sleep last night. I was still tired even after laying in bed for a while, writing and finishing Anne of Ingleside. (Incidentally, my favorite of the Anne books is still the first story of Anne's arrival in Green Gables. While I also like Anne of the Island and Anne's House of Dreams, none of the sequels can quite surpass the original. Rilla of Ingleside was by far the best of the three books about Anne's family after she's grown and married, and possibly the most tragic book in the entire series, with its World War I setting.

The original is required reading, especially for young girls. The sequels aren't necessary for anyone but Anne fans, or those who enjoyed the first and want more.)

Listened to Alice In Wonderland while I had breakfast. The Peter Pan children's album I have from the mid-70's does have some nice music, including the dreamy title song and "The Queen Has Commanded," but the most unique thing about it is the artwork for the storybook. A very modern  Alice, complete with Malibu Barbie blond hair, cavorts through a still-Victorian Wonderland that looks more like it was drawn by Marvel Comics in the mid-70's than a children's record company.

Headed out for the Collingswood Farm Market around 9:30. At that point, it was still a nice day, sunny and bright, if a bit warmer and more humid than yesterday. The fall harvest is starting to roll out in earnest now. I saw pears, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and gourds for the first time this year, and leeks for the first time since spring. Made my way through the crowds well enough to buy Bosc pears, Chinese beans, a cucumber, and small Gala apples. 

Hunted up a couple of yard sales on the way home. First stop was Everett Avenue, a few blocks down from Collingswood High School. They had a box filled with recipe books from the 50's through the 80's. Thought I'd give Better Homes and Gardens Jiffy Cooking and Sunset Cook Book of Breads a whirl. Had less luck at a sale on Woodlawn Terrace a block from my apartment in Oaklyn. It was mostly furniture and vintage appliances, nothing I really need.

Worked on writing for a while after I got in and put everything away. Leia and one of Jabba's showgirls pass a new statue being added to the lobby as they're heading for the stage. She doesn't have much time to inspect how lifelike it is...because it's showtime! As she performs with the other dancers, she catches the arrival of corpulent mob boss Jasper "the Hutt" himself...who never takes his big yellow eyes off her. She's more interested in figuring out where Hank is...

Broke at 1 for lunch, this time running Mickey Mouse Disco. Yes, it's what the title says. The Disney gang spoofs the disco dancing phenomenon of the late 70's with original comic numbers and disco covers of songs from earlier films. My favorite of the new material is "Welcome To Rio," with it's catchy tropical rhythm. "Zip a Dee Doo Dah" is the best of the covers. 

Work was an absolute pain today. It wasn't bad when I got in. I was able to get all the trash inside and out done in the first hour. It picked up considerably after that. Every time I tried to do one of the full carts of returns or get to cleaning the bathrooms, I would be called up to take the register. Neither were ever remotely finished. One manager called me right as I was going on break. I figured it would do no good trying to explain it to her and wound up being more than 20 minutes late. I wanted to take my break on time because the other bagger was leaving early. And of course, I had no help with corrals that were bulging with carts for the rest of the evening. Thankfully, it did slow down enough by 5 that I was able to fill both sides before I headed home.

Clouds were starting to creep in, even as I was going to work. They grew darker and darker the longer I was outside. It did wait until I was long home and out of a much-needed shower to start raining. 

(Ran into Richard, one of my next-door neighbors, on the way in. He'd been tinkering with my bike this afternoon. The inner tube's shot, like I figured...but so's the tire. I have an inner tube, but not a tire. I'll see if I can get somewhere to pick up a new one this week.)

I had leftovers for dinner while listening to Introducing the Care Bears, one of several recordings featuring the colorful critters in the early-mid 80's. There's a number for each of the original Care Bears who debuted when the franchise did. Most of them were unmemorable and/or marred by the fact that several of the Bears' voice actors couldn't sing. The best of a bland lot were Wish Bear's sweet "When I Grow Up" (even if her voice sounds like it's on helium) and Funshine's appropriately peppy 50's-style dance number. By far the most interesting thing about this one is the "picture album." The LP itself has some lovely artwork of the bears against a yellow background, possibly taken from the original greeting cards or Parker Brothers picture books. 

As the record was finishing, I thought I'd try something I haven't had in ages.I had four big Macintosh apples leftover from last week. The Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book has a wonderfully simple recipe for Apple Crisp that sounded perfect. Sliced two of the apples, sprinkled them with spices, salt, and added a 1/4 cup of water. Rubbed flour, sugar, and butter together, then spread it over the apples. Oh yummm. It came out flavorful and just sweet enough, and it smelled amazing in the oven. 

Ended the night online with the soundtrack from Return of the Jedi on YouTube. I still haven't been able to find the LP for this. I've seen it twice in ten years offline, and it was expensive both times. I'm guessing this one sold far less than the other two. While the music is excellent, it lacks iconic tracks like the credits music and "The Imperial March." Given my fondness for the Ewoks, I'm partial to a lot of the numbers that involve them, including "The Ewoks Parade" and the "Battle of Endor" medleys. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

I've Got the Sun In the Morning

The sun remained when I got up this morning, to my delight. In fact, it was even nicer than yesterday, just warm enough, with a nice breeze. Celebrated (and cheered myself up after a long week) with corn meal mush, strawberries, burnt butterscotch chip cookies, and one of my K-Tel albums, the second disc from the Pure Gold collection.

Worked a little bit on writing this morning. Thought it made more sense for Leia to blend in as a showgirl. (Plus...even as a kid, I thought that infamous metal bikini was just one feathered and beaded headdress away from belonging on a stage at Bally's Wild West.) One of her fellow dancers informs her that Jasper Hutt, mob boss and owner of the casino, has his eye on her. Leia ignores her, even when she tells her what "the Hutt" did to his previous mistress when she spurned him.

Broke a little after 1 to eat a quick lunch and get ready for work. Listened to Frank Sinatra - The Duets while I ate. I remember this being a big deal in the early 90's. Sinatra was a legend by that point, and it was pretty cool just to hear some newer singers work with him. On the other hand, this was achieved by having Sinatra and the other singer record at different times, which garnered some complaints about lacking spontaneity.

My favorite numbers are the ones where the performers come closer to complimenting Sinatra's style. Among the better ones are the gorgeous "I've Got a Crush On You" with Barbara Streisand, a fun "You Make Me Feel So Young" with Frenchman Charles Aznavour, "Come Rain or Come Shine" with Gloria Estefan, and "What Now My Love" with Aretha Franklin. I can see the critics' complaints, though. Some numbers do sound like the other performer came in from some place entirely different. Particularly problematic are the bland version of "New York, New York" with Tony Bennett and "The Lady Is a Tramp" with Luther Vandross, whose laid-back velvet voice clashes with Sinatra's crooning.

After quickly sweeping the bathrooms, I spent the majority of the first half of my shift outside, gathering carts and trash. It was too nice to be inside, anyway. Yesterday's humidity had vanished, leaving blue skies and that wonderful breeze. It was still a bit warmer than it has been, but not out of line for mid-September.

It picked up considerably once rush hour started. The evening manager pulled me off returns to bag for her. Which I wouldn't have minded, if she hadn't stood behind the register and insisted on doing everything as fast as possible, even though there was already a cashier there. Neither of us could keep up to her satisfaction, and she wasn't terribly happy with me. I'm sorry, but as most of the managers have pointed out at one time or another, I am slow. I did the best I could. Not to mention, the managers are pretty much the only people who actually want to rush. Most of our customers are getting home from work or on outings. The last thing they want to do is rush through everything.

I was not up to cooking when I got out. Walked over to Arby's for a quick dinner. Despite it being the dinner hour, they were quiet inside when I arrived, with only two couples and a family with a toddler enjoying their meals. (The line was longer at the take-out windows.) I tried the Bourbon BBQ Turkey Sandwich, with curly fries and a Mountain Dew "Game Fuel" (cherry) soda. Oooh, very tasty, if a bit messy. The fried onions weren't all that crunchy, thanks to the sauce, but the sauce itself was just tangy enough, and the bacon was nice and thick.

Didn't really need a whole lot grocery-wise this week. Took advantage of a dollar for Jello boxes sale to restock gelatin and pudding mixes. Used coupons I'd gotten off a lady giving out samples earlier for the Yoplait Mix-Ins and online coupons for the generic organic blue chips and an already-on-clearance box of Puffs. Restocked tomato sauce, plain yogurt for baking, ground turkey, sugar, and actual chocolate chips (dark chocolate, in fact).

My schedule for next week is more-or-less the same as last week's, early or mid-afternoon hours and Wednesday and Thursday off. While the 12 to 4 on Sunday and next Saturday means I'll have to miss the Eagles game, it also means I'll be able to make a quick run to the Farm Market.

Listened to My One and Only while putting everything away. I have absolutely no idea what this 1983 Broadway show was about. Wikipedia mentions something about a barnstormer (Tommy Tune, who also directed) pursuing an English swimmer (Twiggy). I do know that there's some good Gershwin tunes ("Blah Blah Blah," "Funny Face," and "Little Jazz Bird" are especially fun), and that the show does lose something without its Tony-winning choreography.

Switched to Annie Get Your Gun as I went online. Did my later LP re-release of the 1946 cast album with Ethel Merman. I love her version of "Anything You Can Do" with Ray Middleton. (I give him credit for trying to hold a note as long as Merman!) Other good numbers here include Merman's versions of "I Got the Sun In the Morning" and "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun." Middleton's best moment is "My Defenses are Down" with the chorus.

And...thanks to extra money from working Labor Day, I was able to order a DVD player tonight. Went with a Sony on Amazon. It has most of the same capabilities as the top-selling Sony, but it's a bit cheaper and hooks up with a power cord rather than a port. My TV is an older model and doesn't have any fancy USB ports or anything like that.

By the way, to give you an idea of how old my DVD recorder is, the manufacturer is Toshiba. If their website is any indication, they don't make DVD and Blu-Ray players anymore. (They do still make laptops. Good. I like my Toshiba laptop. It's about five years old. I may need to replace it in a few years, but it runs fine right now.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How Can I Change My Luck?

I was so glad to be able to sleep in a bit this morning. After all the trouble I've had all week, I needed it. Started out the day with breakfast and the original Broadway cast of Half a Sixpence. Thought it was time to revisit this, with a very popular revival having just closed in the West End. Based after a novel by H.G Wells, this "local boy makes good" story has young Kipps (Tommy Steele) inheriting a fortune. He wants to climb the social ladder and marry a wealthy beauty, but he ultimately ends up with the girl (Marti Webb) who loved him all along. He loses his fortune, but though he does eventually regain it, he's also learned that money can't buy happiness or a girl who really cares about you.

Until last year, most people considered this unrevivable, due to its reliance on pop and stage star Steele's charisma (and skills with a banjo). However, it is a cute show, with some nice songs. I'm especially partial to Ann's lovely ballad "Long Ago." (There's a film version with Steele I may try to dig up somewhere along the line as well.) The revival that just closed was apparently a heavily revised version, with far more songs (and songs that didn't always feature Kipps). It was such a big hit, the limited run was apparently continued three times. This was also the last British musical imported to Broadway before Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows started to turn up in the mid-late 70's.

Cleaned the kitchen after breakfast. I really shouldn't have put off cleaning for so long. The sink in particular was really, really grungy, and the counter wasn't much better. I've just been putting more focus on the writing lately.

It was humid out, but the sun (with occasional clouds) remained. It was originally supposed to shower for most of today. I took advantage of the decent weather to hit the Oaklyn Library and test the borrowed bike. I pumped both tires...and the bike ran just fine, other than the seat was still a little high. I was even able to get my basket over the brake wires.

First stop was the Oaklyn Library, partially to return those DVDs. They were surprisingly busy for a school day with fairly decent weather. There were several people on the computers and a family with two small children who had toys scattered all over the kids' area. I concentrated on DVDs rather than trying to step over their playthings.

Wanted to hit WaWa for lunch next. Of course, I got to the counter with my roast beef hoagie and Crystal Pepsi soda before I realized I'd left my wallet in my lunch bag. It was so embarrassing, and the guy at the counter sounded so upset, I just walked out without anything.

Ate the last slice of French Bread Pizza and an apple for lunch, then hurried back out again. I desperately needed to get a huge load of laundry done, including towels and sheets. At least my luck held here. The laundromat was empty when I arrived at 2:30, other than two men who were putting in a new vent window at the back of the driers. Saw maybe two people who weren't construction workers the whole hour I was there. I worked on story notes while half-listening to Right This Minute and General Hospital.

Headed home and finally got everything put away, then worked on writing for a few hours. Chip and Arturro head into Jasper's exclusive lounge area, where they encounter Leia. She was originally going to be a tough female bounty hunter, but I think I'll re-write her into posing as a showgirl, which makes more sense.

Made that pasta and turkey meatballs I mentioned yesterday for dinner, along with green beans and tomatoes. It was too hot to bake, though. I opted for bread and butter instead of garlic bread.

Listened to my double CD cast album for two antique musicals while I ate. Leave It to Jane from 1917 is the great-grandparent of every musical that involves academia. The tale of a "college widow" who convinces a student from their rival school to join their football team, this was one of the biggest early hits for songwriter Jerome Kern. Oh Kay! is a Gershwin hit from 1926, about rum runners who take over a Long Island mansion. The sister of one of them falls for the mansion's playboy owner. Hits from this one include "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Clap Yo' Hands," and "Do, Do, Do." Both of these come from hit off-Broadway revivals in the early sixties. As such, they lack the orchestration that Kay's studio version has...but it's also a chance to hear some rare material, including new lyrics added to Kay by PG Wodehouse, the show's original book author.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On the Dark Side

It was humid, cool, and gloomy when I rolled out of bed this morning. Cheered up the gloom with breakfast and one of my K-Tel collections, Pure Gold. I really want to find more of these. It's fun to hear a lot of great older songs that just don't show up on the radio anymore. According to Wikipedia, the company is still around today, mostly focusing on online distribution. Good. I'd love to look around for their albums from the 80's, and maybe dig up the Hooked On Classics series, too.

Didn't have a lot of time for writing before work. I did manage to get in that Chip has now gotten a job at Jasper Hutt's sleazy Desert Sun Palace Casino as a translator and Arturro as a waiter. It was hard to concentrate with someone or the other screaming curses at the dogs downstairs for making a mess. Sheesh, it's not their fault they're old.

I got so tired of the noise, I ended up walking to work a bit earlier than planned. I did get stuck as a cashier all day. The cashier they originally had scheduled was really a produce worker and was needed for his actual job. As it turned out, they probably could have lived without both of us. We were as dead for most of the afternoon as we have been for the last few days. The gloomy weather wasn't exactly encouraging. Plus, most kids are now back in school full-time. Their parents and grandparents no longer have to entertain them or feed them all day.

It did pick up by the time rush hour hit at four, but even that wasn't as bad as it could have been. The worst thing that happened all day was my register decided to slow down, and then freeze. At least it did it as I was finishing an order, and the order behind them was small. Everyone was in decent moods for a dark, damp afternoon, too.

It was starting to shower when I was walking to the Acme. It did rain harder later on. I heard the rain on the roof after I got in. By 5:30, it was just down to clouds and humidity.

I was half-way home when I encountered a neighbor and her children on Kendall Boulevard. I'd told her about the bike tire dying when I was really upset over it yesterday. She offered to loan me one she never used until I could get mine working again. It was nice of her, but the bike wasn't in the best of shape. The handlebars kept moving downward, and I could barely get on the high seat. Not to mention, the tires were deflating on this one, too. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I likely couldn't use it. I tried to ride it home, anyway.

Tried something different for dinner. The Acme's having a big frozen pizza sale. Between that and the tasty frozen pizzas I had at Lauren's house in July, I thought I'd pick one up for a quick meal. I was looking at the Stouffer's frozen French bread pizza when I realized I didn't need to buy one. All I needed was French bread. (Or Italian bread - the loaves of French bread were too long for one person.) I already had tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese at home. Topped them with farm market-fresh mushrooms. The rest of the loaf will be made into garlic bread to go with pasta and meatballs tomorrow.

Listened to Bruce Springsteen while I ate. Born In the USA was one of the most influential albums of my childhood. "The Boss" was a big deal down at the Shore, a real "Jersey Boy who made good" who never lost his gritty working-class appeal. I lost count of how many times we played this record. I'm surprised it wasn't completely worn out by the end of the 80's. For all the hits from this one - the driving title song, "I'm On Fire," "Dancing In the Dark," "Glory Days," "Cover Me," "My Hometown" - my favorite number has always been the raucous 50's style dance ditty "Workin' On the Highway."

And I'm glad I got in when I did. The rain's been on and off for the rest of the night. (It's off at press time.) It looks like it'll be showering for the next few days as the remnants of Hurricane Irma blow through here. I'll try inflating the tires on the other bike, but if that doesn't work, I'm probably going to just walk to the laundromat, work, and the Oaklyn Library and skip the Haddon Township Library this week. None of my books are due, and I took the DVDs out of the Oaklyn Library.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Just One Thing After Another

Started off a cloudy morning with corn meal mush and strawberries for breakfast and the first Lost In Boston CD. We kick off with the rousing "An English Music Hall," dropped from Rupert Holmes' musical adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Other good ones here include "When I Went Home" from the Mary Martin Peter Pan, the delectably cynical "Ten Percent" from Chicago, "Where Do I Go From Here?" from Fiorello, "Fibbertigibbet" from 110 In the Shade, and "Take It In Your Stride" from Annie Get Your Gun.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning. Luke is now in the AtlanticCare hospital in Atlantic City. His hand is fractured, not badly, but enough to be in a cast. Lance has discovered via various contacts that Hank is being kept at Jasper Hutt's Desert Sun Palace Casino at the other end of the boardwalk, just beyond the Golden Nugget (now the closed Atlantic Club/Hilton, which in real life is the last casino on the southern end of the boardwalk). Luke asks Lance about options for men's clothing in the area, while Leia asks about dressing as a bounty hunter. The duo have a plan to save their friend...

The Acme called me while I was writing. Would I consider coming in tomorrow from 12 to 5:30? No, but I accepted anyway. I turned down hours last week to get things done. I have no choice in the matter. I need money.

Broke just after 1 for lunch. Did the first disc of Unsung Irving Berlin while I ate. Pushing beyond the relatively new titles we've heard so far, this set leaps into the Irving Berlin songbook, coming up with tunes cut from movies and Broadway shows, from projects that never came to fruition, from shows that didn't make it to Broadway, and even just old forgotten hits, like two of my favorites, the jaunty "I'm On My Way Home" and touching "Roses of Yesterday." Others I enjoyed included "You're a Sucker For a Dame" from the unproduced Wise Guys, the hysterical "I'm the Guy Who Guards the Harem" from The Ziegfeld Follies of 1919, and two delights from another musical that never got past the planning stages, Stars On My Shoulder, the chorus number "It's a Lovely Day For a Walk" and the lovely ballad "Nothing More to Say."

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - dead all afternoon. The weather, while hotter and a bit more humid, had cleared up by that point. It was just too nice to be in a grocery store. I did gather trash and baskets and mopped the bathroom floors, but once again, I was mostly outside doing carts.

I got a nasty surprise while doing my first round of carts. The back tire of my bike, which had been feeling low for ages, finally went flat. Someone suggested PepBoys. It was a nice idea, but first of all, they're for cars. Second, I'd have to cross the busy parking lots between the two sides of Audubon Crossings, which are a nightmare to navigate. Third, I had no money on me. I didn't think I'd need any. I didn't know if I'd have to pay for it. I just ended up walking the bike home.

Spent more than an hour when I got in trying to get that wheel off. I screamed and cried and pushed and pulled, but I couldn't move either of the lugnuts. They were just on too tight! I finally gave up and left it there. It was almost 8, and I hadn't had dinner or a shower yet. I may just walk or try to scrounge up money for a cab tomorrow.

Threw on one last collection of "lost" Broadway songs while finally eating tortilla-crusted tilapia and sauteed green beans for dinner. 18 Interesting Songs From Unfortunate Shows is a long name for pretty much the same idea as Unsung Musicals. The LP goes the more intimate route of having the songs performed on piano, with just three performers (former MGM favorites Bobby Van and Betty Garrett, along with then-Broadway ingenue Susan Watson) singing all the music. I'm not as fond of this one as I am of the CD sets, but there are some gems to be found, including "Everybody Leaves You" and "Anywhere the Wind Blows" from the much-maligned Broadway disaster Dr. Jazz, "Isms" from Vintage '60, a revue that never got off the ground, "If I Knew Now" from a reworking of The Blue Angel called Pousse Cafe, and "I Think the World of You," from another major flop (and Judy Holliday's last Broadway vehicle), Hot Spot.

Monday, September 11, 2017

There are Days and There are Days

The weather couldn't have been more perfect when I awoke this morning. I celebrated the fine day with one of my favorite series. Varase Sarabande released their Unsung Musicals and Lost In Boston collections in the mid-90's. I picked up all but the second Lost In Boston and the third Unsung Musicals titles at the wonderful Sun Rose Music and Books (now apparently Sun Rose Words and Music) in Ocean City about 15 years ago.

Did the first Unsung Musicals this morning. As you can tell from the title, this series collects songs from musicals that were major flops or short-lived on Broadway, or never even made it to Broadway, and were never recorded. My favorite song from the first collection is the absolutely ravishing ballad "Starfish," from a musical version of La Strada that closed on opening night in 1969 (despite featuring Bernadette Peters in one of her her earliest roles). Other excellent numbers include the delightfully desperate sales pitch "Postcards" from a show called The Bone Room, "There are Days and There are Days" from a failed stage biopic of Jackie Robinson, "Ragtime Romeo" from the Carol Channing vehicle The Vamp, the hilarious "Sherry!" featuring Christine Baranski and Jonathan Freeman being catty, and three numbers from the flop beauty pageant show Smile - it's title song, the touching anthem "In Our Hands," and "Disneyland," the last performed by none other than "Little Mermaid" Jodi Benson.

Pretty much spent work the same way I did yesterday - outside with the carts. Fine by me. It was a sunny, breezy, gorgeous day, into the mid-70's. Couldn't be more perfect for early September in Southern New Jersey. Probably due to the weather and to most area kids starting school full-time today. the Acme was dead all morning anyway. I did briefly mop the bathroom floors (they were genuinely dirty, for once), gathered trash, and got stuck dealing with that obnoxious head manager again when I was still finishing the bathrooms and couldn't get up front to help clean a spill quick enough. (At least it was just Sprite, nothing as complicated as yesterday!)

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. It was too nice not to linger, and it's supposed to rain later in the week. Other than slight traffic around the Wal Mart/Marshalls entrance, it was even more quiet than the Acme. Even Nicholson Road wasn't that busy. I enjoyed a quiet ride, admiring the last of the late summer flora.

Went straight into writing when I got home and changed. Leia calls Ben from a phone booth as soon as they get Luke into the hospital and Lance manages to get them rooms at the Claridge Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (now just the Claridge Hotel). He says he's glad they're safe and tells her that, while the police did arrest some members of the Imperial Gang, most are still at large, including Vader. Leia asks him point-blank if Vader is their brother Adam. Yes, Ben says, but he'll explain it when they get back to Ocean View. It's too complicated for pay phones, and he wants Luke to hear, too. Leia tells them that they're going after Hank. Ben doesn't like it, but he knows she's going to do what she wants.

Broke at 6 for dinner. Had leftovers and sweet corn on the cob while listening to more Unsung Musicals. The second entry in the series was the first I bought, and it's been one of my favorite CDs for years. Favorite songs from this one include the title song from Roadside, the ballad "Smashing New York Times" and the witty "Lawyers" from A Broadway Musical, the adorable "Everything In the World I Love" from a musical version of The Yearling, the rousing "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" from the magic show Merlin, and the duet "The Memory of Tonight" from a musical version of Arthur that has yet to play Broadway.

Switched to Lost In Boston as I cleaned the bathroom. This one spotlights songs that were cut from musicals that actually did run in New York. I have all of this series but the third one, which I could never find then (and seems to be equally hard to find now). Favorite numbers from the second disc include the gorgeous "Thousands of Flowers" and jaunty "Guess We May As Well Stay Married Now" from I Do! I Do!, "What am I Doing Here?" from Promises, Promises, "When Messiah Comes" from Fiddler on the Roof, and the devastating anti-war ballad "Just a Map" from The Rothchilds.

Moved on to the fourth and final Lost In Boston CD as I finished the bathroom. Songs cut from little-known flops and forgotten hits are spotlighted here. By far my favorite is the opener, "Thirty Weeks of Heaven," a comic ditty about the perils of being a traveling performer from By the Beautiful Sea. (They should have kept that in. It's funnier than anything on the cast album.) Other good ones here include "A Green and Private World" from the much-loved 60's flop Drat! The Cat, "If I Can't Take It With Me" from Golidlocks, "Hots Michael On the Piano" from Working (written and performed by Remember WENN creator Rupert Holmes), "Marking Time" from Pippin, "Have a Memory On Me" from The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, and three emotional character ballads from Ballroom, "The Job Application," "Who Gave You Permission?," and "Suddenly It's You."

Finished the night on a more sober note with The Rising by Bruce Springsteen, which I put on to honor 9/11. As a life-long Bruce Springsteen fan, I picked this one up as soon as I could in 2002, and I've loved it ever since. It's probably my favorite album of his. "Lonesome Day" and the title song were the major hits, but "My City In Ruins" may have meant even more at the time. Springsteen was talking about his beloved Asbury Park, which was still in economic decline in 2001...but it equally applied to a badly shaken and damaged Lower Manhattan. My favorites are the brighter uptempo numbers "Waiting On a Sunny Day" and "Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)."

And yes, I do remember them the 9/11 attacks. I was beginning my last semester at Richard Stockton College (now University) when the terrorists hit. I go into more detail in this entry from 2015, Memories On a Busy Day.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Began a beautiful morning with my Cyndi Lauper She's So Unusual LP and Butterscotch Chip Pancakes. I was hoping these would work better than the cookies did. Other than I burned one side of the first one, they came out pretty well. I don't know if I'll be using the butterscotch chips again, though. Clearance or no clearance, they're really too sweet for me. Had the last of the strawberry soup with them.

Worked on writing after breakfast. Leia gets Luke and Chip on board while Lance heads for the wheel house. Unfortunately, when he tries to start the Falcon, the motor won't turn over, despite Lance claiming he had people fix it. Arturro ends up repairing the engine, getting them out of the marina in the nick of time. Vader can only watch the boat speed towards Atlantic City.

Charlie showed up while I was writing. He said he wanted to store a really big box in the crawl space behind the couch and dry sink in the living room. I never use it. I have the back room. I don't know why he couldn't have called me and told me earlier, instead of ten minutes after. And now I find out that one of his men is living with him. Is there enough room for that? My apartment isn't huge. I can't imagine his is much bigger. Plus he has the dogs.

The first Eagles game of the season against the Washington Redskins began while I was writing. I continued with it as I ate lunch and got ready for work. The Eagles played great right off the bat, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter alone. Unfortunately, they lost one of their better players to a nasty ankle injury and made some major mistakes that briefly put the Redskins ahead as I headed off for work. (Apparently, this turn of affairs didn't last long. They made some major plays in the second half, including turnovers on quarterback Kirk Cousins, and won 30-17.)

I spent the first half of my shift doing returns and the second half outside. I wish the managers would get their acts together. I grabbed a cart and organized the returns, just like the head manager said to. The front end manager that was on when I got in said "no, don't do that, just take the whole cart." I can't win. If I do it one way, the head manager gets upset. If I do it his way, the front end managers aren't happy. Why can't they all leave me alone and let me do my job?

And I'm tired of everyone assuming I know where everything is. The back storage area is so unorganized! There was an olive oil spill on aisle 5 right before my break. It wasn't big, but oil and other viscous liquids require different handling than most messes. You're supposed to pour a powder on it and sweep it away. That would have been great, if anyone told me where the powder was. I had to ask another bagger. They threw me into this job last year with absolutely no explanation or preparation. Just "you're doing this now." No one told me how to do it. I didn't even find out why I was moved to a different job until three weeks after they did it.

Decided to cheer myself up and celebrate the Eagles' win with dinner at Sonic (after picking up brown sugar). It was too nice to eat inside, anyway. Surprisingly, despite the lovely evening, it was quiet when I arrived at the patio. Sonic has new, wider menus to order from, with some new selections. I just went with my favorite grilled chicken sandwich, cherry limeade, and tater tots. The tater tots were yummy, hot and crispy. The sandwich was not. The chicken was tough and dry, and the rest was limp. I think I'll go back to burgers if I eat there again this fall before it gets too cold for fast food picnics.

And of course, as I was checking my cell phone while waiting for dinner, I got a text message from Jodie inviting me over for chili. I had no idea they were even in the area. I thought they were on vacation! Nope, seems they're going later this week. I already had food, but I may try to stop by there on Wednesday to say "hi" before they go.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Late Summer of '17

A cooling breeze blew through my apartment as I awoke to another beautiful late summer day. Listened to the original cast album for 42nd Street as I ate a far more leisurely breakfast than yesterday. Jerry Orbach and Tammy Grimes were the headliners in this 1980 version of the 1933 Warners musical movie, but the real stars were the famous Harry Warren-Al Dubin songs and Gower Champion's energetic staging. My favorite number is "Lullaby of Broadway," cribbed from Gold Diggers of 1935. Orbach leads the cast in persuading former chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Wanda Riechart) to stay with the show and take over the lead.

Work was a lot easier than yesterday. I spent the entire day outside, doing the trash and rounding up carts. Fine by me. It was too nice to be inside all day, anyway. The sky was blue, and while the sun was warm, the wind had a slight nip of fall. It couldn't have been more than the lower 70's. I'd never seen a nicer day in early September.

Went straight home after work and on the computer. As soon as the group gets Luke in Lance's Lincoln Continental, they rush to his condo to pick up his and the others' things. Lance has decided Bespin Island is a little too hot for him at the moment. As they're leaving, they're chased by Vader and his boys. They manage to give them the slip at the marina, where the Falcon awaits them...if it can get started...

Broke around 6 for dinner and more music. I had leftover chicken legs and made a smaller batch of Cucumber-Tomato Salad. Made Butterscotch Chip Cookies while listening to my The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary CD. The first disc has all the Bond theme songs up to License to Kill. Along with the title songs from Live and Let Die, View to a Kill, and Goldfinger, "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me, and "All Time High" from Octopussy, I was surprised to discover two lesser-known gems. Shirley Bassey's last Bond theme, the title song from Diamonds are Forever, is a stand-out in that strange but fun Connery film. You're more likely to think of space than music when you consider the sci-fi-themed Moonraker, but it has a surprisingly decent theme song.

Finished out the night as I baked the cookies with a couple of orchestral scores. One of the Acme employees had "The Imperial March" as the phone ring on his cell phone this afternoon, inspiring me to put on the full soundtrack from The Empire Strikes Back. Digging around for more orchestral scores, I came up with my LP for Summer of '42. Most of the lovely score is actually from the film The Picasso Summer, but it does have the famous theme song "The Summer Knows." I thought it was a fitting way to end the summer season.

Oh, and I've been enjoying something I've looked up on YouTube. One of my earliest record finds was Satin Affair, by the George Shearling Quintet. I'd never heard of them, but I loved the luxurious, late 50's-early 60's feel of the jazzy music. It's perfect for listening to on a lazy afternoon or evening in late summer. The back listed four other fabric-themed album titles, Velvet Carpet, White Satin, Blue Chiffon, and Black Satin, that I could never seem to find. I tried looking them up on YouTube instead. I've so far found Black Satin and Velvet Carpet. Here's the latter in full:

Velvet Carpet on YouTube

And I'm a little annoyed with myself. I got caught up in a book and wasn't paying attention to my cookies. Some of them are fairly edible, but most got burnt. Darn it. I'll still eat them. I don't like to waste food. I'll just dunk them in tea or something.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Hard Times In Late Summer

I overslept and didn't get as quick of a start as I would have liked, especially since I had relatively early work. Since the DVD player was still acting up, I put on the original cast album for Grease while eating breakfast. There's a lot of music on this one that either didn't make it to the film at all ("All Choked Up") or were only used as background scoring ("Those Magic Changes," "Freddy My Love"). All of the performers sound equally too old for their roles, but it's nice to hear how the original started off (complete with the raunchy lyrics).

Work was a pain. I'd start one thing, only to be ordered to do three other things, and I got scolded over being frustrated about getting stuck in the registers. If they wanted me to be in the registers, they should have left me as a cashier. At least it was a nice day, sunny, breezy, and no more than the lower-mid 70's, and I did enjoy getting carts. (Other than they've somehow lost the mechanism that opens the locked carts. Again.)

My schedule for next week is, except for Monday, all afternoon work. That's fine. I'll get writing and cleaning done here, and I can do all the usual chores. Wish I had more hours, but other than that, no complaints.

Didn't have a huge grocery order this week, but I did need some expensive things. They had buy one, get one strawberries. Thought the second one could go into Strawberry Flummery. There was a good sale on the 18-count eggs and regular Cheerios. Restocked peanut butter, skim milk, yogurt, baking chips (they're still clearing out the butterscotch chips), cooking spray, white flour, apples, and tomatoes. Found a can of organic cream of tomato soup on the clearance racks and two packs of fish fillets with manager's coupons.

As soon as I got home, I put everything away, then went on the computer. Luke dodges Vader, finally climbing out the window of the VIP Lounge and onto a fire escape. Vader, however, corners him there. He smashes Luke's hand with his bat before revealing his true identity - he's Luke's adored, and supposedly dead, older brother Adam. He wants Luke to join the Imperial Gang. Luke jumps onto the hood of Lance's Lincoln Continental before his brother can try anything else.

Broke at 6 for dinner. I started a few Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater cartoons while I was putting things away and continued them before I ate. Tuxedo Sam takes on the title roles in "Peter Penguin" and "Tar-Sam of the Jungle." In the former, he fights Captain Catnip, rescuing My Melody-Bell with the help of normal kids Hello Kitty and Chip. "Tar-Sam" has him as the famous protector of the jungle, saving Hello Kitty and his ape family from poachers Grinder and Catnip. Chip steps up to the lead as the boy king Arthur in "Paws of the Round Table." Sam's his Lancelot who aids him in rescuing Lady Bunnyvere (Melody) from Witch Catnip.

Unfortunately, the DVD player stalled half-way through "Paws of the Round Table" and refuses to start again. I think I've banged on the thing one too many times. Yes, I know electronic equipment is delicate...but that seemed to be the only way to get it working again when it stopped. I'll have to buy a new one next week. I don't have the money this week.

Put on my London cast album for Copacabana instead while making baked salmon with roasted herb and garlic potatoes and sliced tomatoes with oil and vinegar for dinner. This is Barry Manilow's expanded stage version of his 80's TV movie. The show now has a more appropriate happy ending and a wrap-around sequence that depicts the whole thing as coming out of the imagination of a songwriter who's fallen in love with his creation.

While it's probably corny as heck, I have a soft spot for this one. I've had this CD for years, since I found it at the same (now defunct) North Cape May music shop where I picked up By the Beautiful Sea as a teenager. Along with Tony's "Sweet Heaven" and his "Who Needs to Dream/Lola" carried over from the TV film, we have the dynamic opening "Just Arrived," as Lola comes to New York, the stunning ballad "This Can't Be Real," and the hilarious number for the aging stage manager and cigarette girl as she's trying to convince him to take Tony to Havana, "Who am I Kidding?"

While I do like this better than the movie, it's still recommended mainly for fans of Manilow's work.

And...sigh. A frustrating day ended with my Strawberry Flummery coming out badly. It never gelled. I think I added too much water. I couldn't get the strawberries mashed enough, either. It's now more strawberry soup than jelly dessert.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Back to School Toons

It was still cloudy and cool when I got up this morning. Had breakfast and wanted to watch cartoons, but the DVD player wasn't behaving. Put on my 1983 Singin' In the Rain LP instead. Tommy Steele starred in this stage version of the famous 1952 movie. On one hand, "Temptation," which was only used as underscoring in the movie, has been added in full here as a number for Lina. More half of the remaining Nacio Herb Brown-Arthur Freed score has been dropped in favor of songs from other movies and shows of the 20's and 30's. I'll pass "Be a Clown," which despite being written in 1948, is the song "Make 'Em Laugh" was modeled on anyway. "Too Marvelous For Words," however, is from a 1937 Warner Bros musical, "Fascinating Rhythm" is a Gershwin number, and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" is from the stage revue Blackbirds of 1928.

Evidently, this did end up on Broadway a few years later, sans Steele but with all its original music intact. It seems to have done well enough but was no world-shaker. This looks like it's more popular in England, where the original film is probably not as well-known. It's been revived there twice in the last fifteen years, including in 2012. They're trying to get a French production on Broadway as I write this, once again with the original music.

Made the bed while the record was on. It's been too chilly at nights for my white cotton summer sheets and thin quilt for at least two weeks. Switched them out for my slightly heavier tan and blue sheets and blue and tan-striped comforter.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Leia, Charlie, Chip, and Lance make their way to the back of the building, only to find that Bobby Fett has escaped with the tank. Remembering that her brother is still in the building, Leia leads the others to rescue him instead.

Meanwhile, Luke is still fighting Vader on the catwalks. He manages to avoid being tossed in the tank, but he may not get around Vader's fighting skills for much longer...

Broke at quarter of 2 for lunch and two more school-themed Tiny Toons Adventures episodes. "Son of Looniversity Daze" has Plucky feeling incredibly guilty for cheating on a test, Hampton dealing with a new mechanical locker that won't give up his lunch, and the duo and Buster trying to get a piano down to Yosemite Sam from the Looniversity Clock Tower. "Test Stressed" goes further into tests, taking them, and types of tests. Plucky wants Shirley to channel Einstein into his brain, but he's not happy with the results. Furball has no better luck trying to catch Little Sneezer as a test for his teacher Sylvester. Fowlmouth wants to ask Shirley on a date. He can't do that without his curses being worse than Charlie's, until Buster comes up with a solution.

Work was actually pretty quiet, and never more than mildly steady. I spent most of the day gathering carts and baskets and doing trash. I did have to help clean up a major spill on the iced tea/powdered drink mix/nuts aisle right before leaving. Someone tried to pull the middle box out of a towering stack of 12-packs of Diet Pepsi. You'd think people would have more sense. I was barely able to do that and the trash and get out on time.

At least it was a nice day for all of this. Even as I was sitting down to write, the clouds were vanishing. By the time I was getting carts, the sun was out, the breeze was blowing, and it was a gorgeous mid-70's.

I wanted to watch movies when I got home, but the DVD player just would not work. It would play the first ten minutes or so, then stop. This has been happening more frequently of late, including when Lauren visited in May. I finally gave up and listened to music and watched YouTube for the rest of the night.

I'm going to have to replace the darn thing as soon as I have the money. I no longer need a DVD recorder, anyway. I dubbed everything I needed to dub ages ago. I can buy the least-expensive decent player on the market.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Rainy Day at the Libraries

BOOM!

I shot awake at quarter of 6 as thunder rattled my apartment. I hurried around as well as I could without waking up anyone downstairs, closing windows. As soon as I finished, I went right to sleep, listening to the sound of the rain patter on the roof.

It was 8:30 when I got up, but I was so caught up n finishing Rilla of Ingleside and just enjoying being in bed on a rainy morning that it was past 10:30 before I got to breakfast. Did an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures to honor the beginning of the school year as I ate. Babs and Buster, as Acme Looniversity's glee club, takes us from short to short in "Looniversity Daze." The first short has Buster having to face the school's mysterious and fearsome principal. Sweetie the Bird chases Bookworm in the library in the second short. In the third, Plucky gets out of Foghorn Leghorn's pop quiz by pretending to be sick. The cure proves to be far worse than the sickness when the nurse's assistant turns out to be Elmyra.

The rain had slowed down enough by 11:30 for me to head out to run errands. Started out at the Oaklyn Library. They were busy for them, with several people on the computers and a few families in the kids' area. Dodged people long enough to organize DVDs and take a look at the picture books and kids' series books. Took out a few movies here. For some reason, the Oaklyn Library is the only local library to have The Matrix Revolutions. Also grabbed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the animated film Sing.

It had started showering again when I headed out around quarter of 1. Since it's only two blocks from the library, I ended up at Capitol Pizza for lunch. They were really busy for them with kids getting out of school and teens and office workers and shop keepers picking up a quick meal. Watched Action News and The Chew as I ate my slice of cheese, slice of mushroom, and gulped a can of Pepsi.

My next stop was a fast one at Dollar Tree for sponges. Thankfully, for once, they were not busy. I had no problems grabbing what I needed and getting out in less than ten minutes.

The Haddon Township Library, oddly enough, wasn't busy, either. Other than shelve an audio book, there really wasn't a whole lot for me to do. I did find a couple of books, though. Took out The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey (I love fairy tale retellings), Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery (the last Anne of Green Gables book I haven't read), and one of the few Elizabeth Peters books I'd never seen before, The Night of the Four Hundred Rabbits. Also grabbed two beginners' crochet books.

The rain was down to sprinkles by this point. I took the short way down Cuthbert Road and across the White Horse Pike to dodge the weather. This was definitely no day for a ride through the park.

Went right online when I got home. Lance and his employees, including stoic, headset-sporting DJ Larry Botts and excitable Mexican Nino Numez, get unexpected help rounding up the Imperials from the local cops. (They were left an "anonymous tip" by Ben and Yoda.) Lance wants to get Leia, Charlie, and Chip out of there. Charlie's having none of it, grabbing Lance around the neck as soon as the cops are gone. This time, it's Larry who translates for his puffing boss that Bobby Fett is loading the tank with Hank Solokowski into a truck around back and is about to take off. Leia orders Charlie to let Lance go.

Broke for dinner around 6:30. Had leftovers, then made Lemon Bars for dessert. Watched the 1947 Good News while I ate. It's the Roaring 20's, and Tait College is filled with sleek Sheiks and feisty Shebas who are enjoying the era's newfound sexual freedom. Connie (June Allyson) is less interested in flaming youth than in her job at the local library. She's thrilled when football hero Tom (Peter Lawford) asks her to help him with French...until she finds out he's chasing the snooty new girl on campus (Patricia Marshall). Meanwhile, sassy Babe (Joan McCracken) is ardently pursuing bench-warmer Bobby (Ray McDonald), despite already dating a brainless football player (Loren Tindall).

The genesis of everything from Grease to the High School Musical films can be found in this spirited romp. The big thing here are the delightful ensemble numbers, the Oscar-nominated "Pass That Peace Pipe" and the finale "The Varsity Drag." Also look for an early appearance by crooner Mel Torme in "Be a Ladies' Man," "Lucky In Love," and a reprise of "The Best Things In Life are Free." If you like later musical school tales, you may want to visit Tait as well.

Finished out the night with the film version of How to Succeed In Business Without Even Trying while I went online. Robert Morse, Sammy Smith, and Rudy Vallee all reprise their roles from the original Broadway show, with Michele Lee an engaging addition as a far feistier Rosemary. I like how refreshingly modest this is, compared to other big-budget musicals of the mid-60's through the mid-70's. It bears closer resemblance to the sitcoms of this era than a typical musical, and it's all the more enjoyable for it. The director, David Swift, would concentrate on television after this, and it features actors like Maureen Arthur (as sexy bimbo secretary Hedy LaRue) who were better known for their appearances on the small screen.

If you're looking for a classic musical that's more about comedy and less about spectacle, are a fan of 60's and 70's sitcoms, or love the stage How to Succeed, this version is definitely worth looking around for.

And I'm glad I did get in a little earlier than I thought. It started to rain hard again shortly after I got in and has showered off and on for the rest of the night. (Though I haven't seen any more thunder storms like this morning at press time.)