Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mall Adventures

Began a hazy, sunny morning with breakfast and Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City. Strawberry's on her way to the Berry City that Never Sleeps for a baking contest. The Peculiar Purple Pieman is determined to keep her from winning and sabotages her every step of the way. Good thing she meets a lot of friendly locals who help her out, including eventual series regulars Orange Blossom and Lemon Meringue.

First on the agenda for the day was getting the laundry done. Good thing I had a tiny load, because they were busy again. Thankfully, it wasn't a noisy crowd. The young boy in the one family there sensibly spent the entire time reading. I took a page from him and spent the forty minutes I was there working on story notes and half-listening to Rachel Ray and The View.

After I got home and put everything away, I had a really quick lunch and got organized to run errands. Garfield and Jon are heading for a tropical resort in Garfield In Paradise. Their vacation doesn't work out well at first, thanks to the cheap hotel Jon booked. It's not until they rent a vintage 1950's car that things begin to pick up considerably. The car, however, eventually lands them in a village of doo-wop-worshiping natives...just as the island's volcano is about to go off!

Made a few quick stops first. I just returned the DVDs and Star Wars In 100 Scenes book to the Oaklyn Library. I'll volunteer there on Saturday, my next day off. Stopped at WaWa for a Gatorade and change for the bus. Locked my bike at the fence behind the former Camden Restaurant Supply Store on the White Horse Pike, then crossed the street to pick up the bus to Cherry Hill. They were right on time, with no traffic anywhere.

The Cherry Hill Mall was the busiest I'd seen it since Christmas, much busier than it was when I went there in May with Lauren. It looked like I wasn't the only person who wanted to avoid the 93-degree heat and stifling humidity. I did my clothes shopping during vacation, so I was mostly there to peek at the toy stores.

Browsed at Jay Street Video Games and Build-A-Bear, but didn't see anything I absolutely needed. The Disney Store had practically no Star Wars stuff left, likely cleared out to make room for the new merchandise for The Last Jedi. They did have some cute Animator's Collection Toddler dolls, though, including a new Flynn from Tangled, the third boy in the line after Aladdin and Kristoff from Frozen. (Flynn comes with the cutest stuffed grumpy Maximus and has an adorable little smirk like Toddler Merida's.)

(And I can name any number of boys I'd like to see in the line. How about a young Arthur from The Sword In the Stone with a stuffed Archimedes? Or Mowgli with a mini-Baloo or Bagheera? Or Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid with a mini-Max the Sheep Dog?)

I was really in Cherry Hill to hit their Target. Hiked across the street and over the pedestrian bridge, taking the elevator up instead of the stairs. (It was really too hot to be dragging my feet up steep concrete steps.) Noticed they're opening a second Layne Bryant location in the fall between PetSmart and the furniture store. Awesome! I like them. You can never have too many plus-size stores. (Plus, this is the first time I've seen that store in a regular shopping center, rather than an indoor mall.)

Target was even busier than the mall. I actually had a reason for being in the toy and sports section besides checking out dolls. I had no bike inner tubes. You never know when one will go on you. All they had was Schwinn. I just grabbed one; I'll get more when I had more money.

Of course I had to check out the toys. While Ever After High seems to be gone, they did have the new Forces of Destiny Star Wars dolls. I debated getting Sabine Wren, then decided I'd save my money for Ahsoka and Padme in the next wave. They did have Jyn and two each of Rey and Leia, including a really cool Leia that came with Wicket the Ewok and the brown dress the Ewoks gave her, but I already have perfectly good Leia, Rey, and Jyn dolls.

Otherwise, I didn't do very well there. They didn't have magnetic curtain rods for my new front door with the too-big window, and I couldn't find the chair pads for my dining table chairs. Their Halloween stuff isn't out yet, either. Not even the candy. They're still on Back to School. This did enable me to buy a red composition book for my next journal for a mere 50 cents. Also grabbed Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix (which I love - it's cheaper at Target than at the Acme) and a bottle of water for the way home. (And drats. Looks like my favorite toasted coconut covered marshmallows were discontinued again. They didn't even have a label for them.)

Tried looking for the curtain rods and curtain at Kohl's on the way back. Nothing there, either. The rods were all huge. Didn't even see any good American Girl stuff. They had outfits for Tenney Grant, the new musically-inclined modern character, and a few accessories for the little-girls line the Wellies Wishers. I don't have any of the Wellies and find Tenney and her line to be rather bland. I moved on. (To give Kohl's some credit, though, they did have a few fall displays out.)

Headed back into the mall for treats and a cool iced tea sample from Teavana before I headed home. Dairy Queen advertised a new Frosted Fudge Brownie Blizzard as their Blizzard of the Month. Yuumm! The medium cup I bought was delicious! Brownie chunks in vanilla ice cream with fudge swirls and chocolate chips. The fudge swirls turned it into Black and White Brownie Blizzard. I just wished they'd mixed it a little better. It was mostly vanilla and chocolate chips on the bottom.

Briefly checked out JC Penney before heading out into the heat to catch the bus. I got lucky. It arrived a few minutes after I came out, early for once. There was slightly more traffic around the Market Place and in Westmont. Otherwise, I once again had no problems getting home.

As soon as I got in, I went on the computer. Things get worse for Luke when the car he shares with Leia dies on the side of the road. He flags down an ancient old Asian man to ask him to use his phone. Turns out...yes, the old guy is Yoda, the elderly former surfer who has surfed with all the greats and knows many of the best tricks. Yoda's not at all certain he'll be able to teach Luke. Luke tells him he's not afraid. Yoda's not so sure.

Broke around 7 to have leftovers for dinner. Did more fourth-season Moonlighting as I ate. The only mystery in "Tale In Two Cities" is why Maddie continues to remain in Chicago. While she attends a party her parents put on to get her out of her funk, Dave tries to pull him and Burt out of their own depressions by going out on the town with some lovely ladies. But they can't get their women out of their heads...

Did a few more episodes after my shower. Maddie announces that she's pregnant at the end of the previous episode, but only to Agnes. Dave finds out from Agnes and Burt in the start of "Cool Hand David, Part I." He goes to Chicago, only to somehow get switched with a criminal and thrown in jail. While he tries to foil a crooked warden's scheme in Part II, Agnes and Burt attempt to find out what happened to him.

And wow. The humidity we've had all day has finally resulted in a massive thunderstorm that's going on even as I write this. Lightning, noisy house-shaking thunder, crazy wind, torrential downpours, the works. Charlie's not going to like this. He spent an hour cursing his brains out while clearing the massive piles of acorns off the other side of my porch and from around the yard. (And I don't think he can cut down the tree that's dropping the most acorns, despite his threats. I think it's in his parents' yard.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Began a sunny, hazy morning with breakfast and Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation. The Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins were raised as cubs by True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse, who fight the evil Dark Heart. True Heart's first assignment is helping a trio of kids at a summer camp. Twins Dawn and John and their pal Christy have been constantly bullied all summer because they're terrible at sports. True Heart finds Dawn and John and helps them out right away...but Dark Heart finds Christy. He makes her into a champion athlete, able to more than compete with the others, but also expects her to help him capture the entire Care Family. It's Christy who finally teaches him that, as she says, "Good or bad, you're still a person."

While the first movie had the scarier villain, this one has the somewhat more interesting plot. I actually like the riff on Faust here. The conversation between Christy and Dark Heart in the lake on the differences between them was rather mature for this franchise. Some nice music, too, including the gorgeous (if superfluous) ballad in the finale, "Forever Young." As with the previous movie, it's not as cutesy as you might think, especially in the second half when Dark Heart is capturing everyone. I didn't notice as many continuity glitches with the animation on this one, either.

The fairly dark storyline and atmosphere makes this for slightly older Care Bears fans and adults who enjoyed the franchise as kids.

Work was, frankly, a bit of a pain. The manager from a few Sundays ago was actually in charge this time. She called me to do carts...right as I was leaving for break. I was almost an hour late getting it. When another bagger came in, instead of having him help me with the carts, she sent me to do the outside trash, which wasn't really that bad. Got stuck in the register when I should have been doing returns. Thankfully, by the time the other bagger and I did get to the three overflowing return carts, it had slowed down somewhat. Everyone probably wanted to come in before that once-in-a-lifetime eclipse today.

(And...I don't know if I saw it or not. I never got the darn glasses, so I couldn't look up. Besides, there was cloud cover off and on all day.)

I rushed home as quickly as possible after that. Spent the next few hours writing. The fishing boat the Millennium Falcon escapes into the harbor, just as Vader and his boys arrive. Vader gets angry at the guy who showed up too soon. He gives the guy next to him the second-in-command job, then calls two other gang members to help him "take care of the trash" at the gas station next-door.

Luke, meanwhile, is lost in the small town of Dagobah, on the marshes around Delaware Bay. The guy who gave him directions on the phone had really weird syntax and didn't seem to speak very good English. He's about to leave when a strange little man on the street offers him assistance...

Did another fourth season Moonlighting episode as I made Chicken Stir Fry for dinner with green peppers, eggplant, carrots, scallions, and canned chicken. Dave's still recovering from Maddie taking off for Chicago in "Take a Left at the Alter." Bert hopes that a case involving a bridegroom who ran out on his wedding day will help get his mind off of her.

Finished out the night online while watching The 'Burbs. We take another left into semi-horror in this 1989 black comedy. Ray (Tom Hanks) is a normal suburbanite trying to take a relaxing week's vacation at home with his sensible wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) and their son. He starts wondering about his new neighbors, the Klopeks, when he hears strange noises at night coming from their basement. His buddy Art (Rick Ducommum), having heard a few too many urban legends, is paranoid that these people are killers who have murdered their elderly neighbor and buried him in their back yard. Enthusiastic teen Ricky (Corey Feldman) and ex-solider Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) are all for checking them out. Ray resists at first, until they actually meet the Klopeks and see just how weird they are. He bundles the rest of the family off, then joins the guys and Ricky and his friends to find out just how many skeletons the Klopeks really have in their backyard.

Hoo boy, this was always a weird one. I thought it was weird even when it was running on cable in the early 90's. My major complaint now is that the ending comes off as a bit of a cop-out. I kind of wish they'd just ended with Ray going in the ambulance. Not every family that looks weird are serial killers. (They actually planned a couple of endings, including one where Ray ended up getting killed, and another where Carol and the cops stopped the doctor from killing him.)

On the other hand, if you like your humor toasty-dark, there's a lot of fun to be found here. Feldman's hilarious as the teenager who's just enjoying all the lunacy, and Bruce Dern's a riot as the solider who never quite left Army life behind. I love it when Art and Ray find what they think is their neighbor's bone. Their reactions are priceless. (Classic sitcom fans will want to look for a cameo by long-time radio and TV grump Gale Gordon as the neighbor whose disappearance causes a lot of the trouble.)

This is now considered to be something of a cult classic along with director Joe Dante's other beloved semi-horror film from the 80's, Gremlins. If you're into the cast or black comedy, it's worth checking out.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer Breeze

Began the day with Raspberry Pancakes and classic disco. Donna Summer's On the Radio was one of my stepfather's favorite albums in the early 80's. When my sister Rose and I were really little, we would dance along to "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls," swirling around in the "fancy dresses" that were really our grandma's old lacy slips. Someone bought it for him again on CD for Christmas in the late 90's-early 2000's...and this time, everyone enjoyed it, even Mom. It played constantly all of Christmas night and the day after.

Work was relatively quiet for Sunday when I got in. There was another bagger doing the carts until 1. I mostly bagged, gathered baskets, and helped people to their cars, though I did get stuck in the register a few times when it started to get much busier around 11:30-noon. By the time I was on my own, the crowds were starting to subside. I wasn't alone for long, anyway. The afternoon bagger arrived at 1:30.

It was a gorgeous day, hot but not humid at all, with a really lovely breeze. Since I'd been inside for most of work and wasn't planning on doing much outside at home, I took the long way back to Oaklyn down Nicholson and Atlantic. Nicholson was a little busy. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing, all the way back to my apartment. Everyone must have gone to the Shore or backyard barbecues by then. (I saw a fair in the back of the Hispanic church on Nicholson as I went by. Wish I could have joined them. It looked like they were having fun!)

When I got in, I worked on writing for a while. Hank's big Ford truck is chased down the narrow streets of Ocean View, past Victorian summer homes and storefronts. He manages to lose the Imperial Gang long enough to pull in at Ackbar's Restaraunt. He's going to take them up north in the Falcon to Bespin Island, where a friend of his owns a condo and manages a dance club.

Broke at 6 for a quick cheese and Ratatouille omelet and to make Summer Fruit Flummery (peaches, raspberries, blueberries) while listening to Lionel Richie. Can't Slow Down is another seminal album from my early childhood. We loved this one. We must have listened to it hundreds of times in the mid-80's. While the major hits included "Hello," "Penny Lover," "All Night Long," and "Love Will Find a Way," my favorite song is the lovely ballad "The Only One."

I'd been inside for most of the day. I ended my evening with a pleasant walk and a treat from Phillies Yummies. By 7, the heat of the day had mostly dissipated, leaving a warm night cooled by a soft wind. I enjoyed my Watermelon Yum Yum (grittier water ice) at one of the wooden tables on the sidewalk. Oooh, it was good! Sweet and fruity. Tasted like real watermelon. Strolled home down Woodlawn Terrace, enjoying the breezy late-summer evening.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Sailor Man and the Pooh Bear

Started the day with Famous Studios' color Popeye shorts from the late 40's and 50's while eating breakfast and making my grocery list. Popeye is "Out to Punch" when Olive coaches him for a boxing bout against Bluto. Bluto does everything he can to make sure he's not at his best in the ring. It's "Assault and Flattery" when Judge Wimpy has to try a case between Popeye and a battered Bluto. Bluto insists Popeye beat on him (via clips from other shorts), but Popeye has his own version of events. He's "Taxi-Turvy" when Bluto's fancy rig keeps beating his little car to fares, but he's not going to let Olive get away! "Ancient Fistory" is a riff on "Cinderella," with Popeye as the scullery sailor who wants a chance to go to the ball, Bluto as his nasty boss, Olive as the princess, and Pappy as the fairy godfather. "Aladdin and His Magic Lamp" is another fairy tale, the last of the three "featurettes" featuring Popeye. He's the title character in this take on the  Arabian Nights tale. Olive is once again the princess. (No Bluto, though. This story sticks to the original version; here, an evil wizard is the villain.)

Work was, once again, busy when I arrived, steady but not overwhelming when I left. I did round up carts in the morning, but there were two other baggers who were able to help out. I mostly gathered trash and baskets, did returns, and bagged. At least it wasn't too horrible when I was out. It was sunny, hot, and humid, but not quite as hot or as humid as yesterday.

I did get stuck in the register for a little while when they needed the cashier to do another order, which I wasn't happy about. I just get so nervous in the registers! I wish people understood introversion better. Few people at the Acme, co-workers or customers, really get why I don't like dealing with so many people at once.

I was happier doing my grocery shopping after work. Took advantage of sales and coupons to pick up laundry detergent, two catfish fillets, the Yoplait Custard Yogurt, and the Chobani Flips. The Acme's having a big "buck a bag" sale for produce this week. Along with grape tomatoes and a container of small cucumbers, I found something that was basically a baked rice-pea snack. For a dollar, I'd try it. I couldn't get to the Collingswood Farm Market today, so I bought peaches, blueberries, and raspberries. Restocked skim milk, eggs, corn meal, toilet paper, canola oil, and sugar. Bought whole wheat bread from the bakery for sandwiches this week. It's too hot to bake muffins.

Found another magazine I've been looking for. Entertainment Weekly features The Last Jedi as the cover subject in their Fall Movie Preview. I grabbed the one with Rey on it, looking tough and determined with her lightsaber.

Changed my clothes, looked over my new magazine, and put away my groceries when I got home. Ran more Popeye as I worked. "Private Eye Popeye" is supposed to be guarding a huge emerald for femme fatale Olive, but butler Bluto takes off with it. Popeye has to chase him down to get it back for his lady fair. It's a "Fright to the Finish" when Bluto uses Olive's fear of Halloween and ghosts to make her think Popeye is playing tricks on her. Popeye doesn't need spinach to show Olive who the real trickster is. The election in "Popeye For President" is nearly as charged as last year's, bringing it down to just Olive's vote. Popeye and Bluto both help her with chores, but Popeye's strength and ingenuity gives him the advantage. "Greek Mirthology" returns us to classic folklore and fantasy. Popeye relates the story of Hercules to get his nephews to eat their spinach.

Did some writing for a few hours after I finished. Went back and added a more dynamic showdown between Vader and Ahsoka when he invades her DJ tent. She confronts him about why he's attacking them. He tells her he no longer believes in friendship, having been abandoned by Ben Kenobi in the fire that destroyed the Jedi Knights' hang-out and an adjoining hotel and burned him beyond recognition. She does hit him, but he has the advantage and beats her to a pulp before the Rebel and Rogue One crew and Ahsoka's crew from the radio station drag him away.

Meanwhile, most of the others have decided it's time to get out of town for a while until the heat dies down. Hank will be taking Charlie, Leia, and Chip up to Bespin Island, a party town about a half-hour north of Ocean View, to visit a friend of his, stopping to let Chip ask for time off from Maz Kantana. Luke and Arturro head east to Dagobah.

Broke at 7 for codfish and leftover Ratatouille for dinner and Acme bakery peanut butter cookie that were on the overstock rack for dessert. Watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh while I ate. This anthology features the original three Pooh featurettes from the mid-late 60's, starting with "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree." Pooh will do anything to get honey, including pretending to be a cloud and using a balloon to get up to a tree filled with bees, or eat so much of it, he gets stuck in Rabbit's door.

"Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" introduces Tigger and Piglet in the tale of a very windy afternoon that is so blustery, it makes Piglet fly like a kite and blows over Owl's house. The spooky, rainy evening prompts a nightmare from Pooh...and a surprising act of heroism later.

His tiger buddy is in the spotlight in "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too." Rabbit wants Tigger to learn how to have some consideration and stop bouncing everyone, but his attempt to get Tigger lost only ends up with him lost. Tigger eventually does it to himself when he bounces so high up a tree, he can't get down. The narrator helps him down, but Rabbit won't let him bounce...until everyone figures out that, as long as you're careful, a little bouncing now and then can be a lot of fun.

A fourth Pooh short released in theaters in the early 80's, "Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore," is a bonus feature on the Many Adventures DVD. Tigger's once again bouncing carelessly, this time landing Eeyore in the river. The gloomy donkey isn't happy, even when he's rescued. It's his birthday, but no one's remembered. Piglet and Pooh try to give him gifts to show how much they care.

I've always enjoyed the Pooh movies, shorts, and specials. The stories are just so much fun, and actually quite unique for Disney, with it's simple, innocent, bittersweet world. Speaking of Disney, this would be a great "starter" Disney movie for very young kids who are still a little too small for some of the more recent films.

Friday, August 18, 2017

On Really, Really Weird Tides

Spent most of a dark, gloomy late morning writing. The motorcyclists on the road are, indeed, the Imperial Gang, lead by one of Vader's top boys, Ozzie Ozzel. Han and Leia flee across the tennis courts. Luke and his friends manage to get some of them off their bikes with rope and surfboards, but the damage is done. The bikers have run roughshod over the party, knocking over tents and destroying tables and equipment. Luke and Wedge run to Chip and Arturro, who are hiding at the Tea Room. Luke's ready to head to Dagobah Bay to see Yoda Yamagachi. Arturro (translated by Chip) asks to come along - he has relatives in the area and no car.

Ran my Chip & Dale shorts DVD during breakfast and lunch. "Chicken In the Rough" has Dale mistaken for a chick by a mother hen. "Two Chips and a Miss" are the chipmunks and the nightclub singer they both pine for, Clarice. They try very hard to outdo each other, but their musical act works better when they all perform in harmony. Pluto's in the spotlight in "Food For Feudin'" when the chipmunks try to get their nuts back from his dog house. Their tree home is "Out of Scale" on Donald's model railroad. The duo take over a house instead, then the train it's on. They're all "On a Limb" when Donald attacks the chipmunks with his tree pruner and tar. He also teases them in "Dragon Around," making the two think his steam shovel is a dragon. But here, he has a real purpose - he wants to get rid of their castle-shaped tree for a freeway project. The two do whatever they can to defend their home.

Headed to work around 1. The weather was awful today, cloudy, hot, and thickly humid. Every time I went inside and out, my glasses fogged. I spent the first few hours doing returns. I should have been outside the whole day, humidity be damned. We were crazy-busy up until 5. Not only did I have no help after 3, but the bagger who was out there earlier shouldn't have been doing it all alone. The items that needed to be shelved could have waited. By 5, heavy dark clouds were gathering, and while it grew even more damp, it also got windier, which helped with the heat. At the very least, it cleared out the customers. I had a far easier time gathering carts than I had earlier.

I did get my schedule today. It's kind of odd. I mostly work fairly early, except for two afternoon-evening shifts on Monday and Friday. Tuesday and Saturday off, which is good. I'll actually make it to the Collingswood Farm Market next week.

By the time I got off at 6, it was thundering and lightning could be seen, though it hadn't yet rained. A manager said to wait until the storm had passed to go home, but I couldn't wait. I had no idea how long that would take. I did end up hurrying home. I was inside for ten minutes and had just started the next chapter of Double Fudge Brownie Murder when the rain finally arrived.

After my shower, I had a quick leftovers dinner while finishing out the cartoons and watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Well, the title's accurate, anyway. This is one weird pirate flick. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is ordered by none other than King George II (Richard Griffiths) to lead an expedition to find the Fountain of Youth in Florida. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is involved, too. They're not the only ones searching for it. None other than the infamous Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are after the Fountain as well (to Jack's dismay, as he and Angelica had once had a relationship). He's even less happy to learn that Blackbeard has shrunk his ship the Black Pearl down and inserted it in a bottle. Meanwhile, a missionary who is a prisoner on Blackbeard's ship (Sam Clafin) has fallen in love with a mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) who was also captured by the ruthless pirate.

Uh...yeah. I didn't understand a lick of this. While I love the idea of them searching for the Fountain of Youth and thought Cruz was a perfect partner for Sparrow's goofiness, almost nothing else worked besides some neat special effects. The missionary/mermaid romance in particular seemed shoehorned in to give the teen girls something to moon at. It wasn't really horrible, just...too much.

And now that we've gotten to the end of this series (for now - I'll catch the one currently in theaters when it shows up on DVD), I can safely say that while At World's End tries hard, none of the follow-up movies have ever really recaptured the magic of Curse of the Black Pearl. Curse is highly recommended and a lot of fun. I'd only do the others if you really loved Curse or this series' cast or pirate tales.

(The next series will likely be either The Matrix or the Divergence trilogy. I'm also considering the Transformers Movieverse.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Madness

Had early work first thing this morning for the first time in weeks. While I did do the carts when I first came in, I mostly shelved items. I might have finished this if one of the managers didn't send me in for cashier so they could go on break (we're very short-handed this week - a lot of people went on vacation), and if they hadn't sent me outside to gather carts ten minutes before I was scheduled to finish. (The carts really didn't need to be rounded up that badly.)

I was very glad to hurry home as soon as I finished. It was relatively cool when I got up this morning, but by 1 PM, it had gotten hot, into the mid-80's and fairly humid. I hid inside for the rest of the day. Had lunch while watching a Backyardigans episode. Having just finished my own cleaning, I thought "What's Bugging You?" was appropriate. Tyrone and Uniqua are bug exterminators. Tasha wants them to catch a wormen (one of the Technicolor worm critters who appear on the show from time to time) and get it out of her house! The house is being inspected by Mr. Spiffy (Pablo) to see if it qualifies for his Spiffy Club. The moose and the pink girl do everything they can to remove that critter.

I tried writing for a little while, but I was too tired. I yawned all through work. Finally gave up and took a nap for an hour or so. Gave it a second shot when I awoke. Leia's upset that both Luke and Hank are leaving her high and dry, especially since she's already had to take time off from school to help with the cottages. Hank tries to calm her down with lunch and a dance at the gazebo, where DJ Ashoka Tano plays Prince and Billy Joel and meets her admirers. Hank's almost ready to take Billy's advice and reveal his feelings to Leia, until he sees a line of familiar black and silver motorcycles on the road that belong to the Imperial Gang...

Broke at 6 for dinner. Made Ratatouille to go with the leftover Salisbury Steak. Watched more Backyardigans while I ate. "Who Goes There?" is a flamenco-fueled riff on the Night at the Museum films. Tyrone is the night watchman at the museum; Uniqua, Austin, and Pablo are the artworks come to life. Tasha is the curator, who once again wants everything neat and tidy the next day, especially in one certain room.

Did some more Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars as I finished the Ratatouille. Did most of the "Weapons Factory" level tonight. The minikit finder was a huge help here. I was able to pick up at least five more pieces and a ton more studs.

Finished the night online with The Money Pit. Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) is having some major problems. He just inherited a huge load of debt from his father, who scammed his company and left town. He and his girlfriend (Shelley Long) were thrown out of their apartment when her ex-husband Max (Alexander Godunov) comes home and wants it back. They ultimately buy a huge house in the suburbs from an old woman with a sob story (Maureen Stapleton), but it turns out to be a mistake. The place is in a shambles. Nothing works, from the wiring to the chimneys. The man they hire to do the work (Philip Bosco) turns a two-week job into four months. Max is also trying to get his wife back, especially as she keeps selling him their things from the divorce to get more money for the house.

Cute, but nothing special. A tad disappointing for all the talent involved. The script never rises above the level of an average sitcom from the mid-80's. Not bad for fans of Hanks, the cast, or 80's comedies, ok time-waster for anyone else.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beating the Heat

Began a much sunnier day with breakfast and another episode of She-Ra. Much like Han Solo, "The Sea Hawk" is originally only out for himself, delivering goods for the Horde and the Rebels. She-Ra gets him firmly on the Rebels side when he's forced to give up Adora to the Horde, then rescues her.

Did some writing for the next couple of hours. The day of the block party at Phineas Estate Park dawns sunny and beautiful. Leia, however, is not feeling as happy as she should. Not only does Hank still intend to leave as soon as the party's over, but Luke does, too. Uncle Ben got a hold of Yoda Yamagachi, who is willing to teach him a few things that'll make him a better surfer. Carl Rieekian, the owner of a local shoe store who also runs the Phineas Estate Museum and is on the City Council, assures her that he'll try to help.

As soon as I got off the computer, I rounded up my dirty clothes and headed to the laundromat. Thankfully after last week, the place was quiet the entire time I was there. I saw maybe two older men. I didn't have a huge load, anyway. I was in and out in a little over 40 minutes.

Went home, put my clothes and the clean dish towels from the kitchen away, then went right back out. It was late, past 2, but I still had some things to do. First stop was Friendly's for lunch. Needless to say that late in the day, they weren't busy. I only saw a few older people eating quick meals. I had a tasty Chicken Caeser Club Sandwich and fries, with cookies and cream ice cream and hot fudge sauce for dessert. The club was tasty, with maybe a little too much Caesar dressing (and not enough chicken and lettuce and tomatoes). Loved the bacon, though. They made it extra-crispy, just how I like it.

Next up was a very quick trip to Dollar Tree in the next building. All I needed was sponges. At least they weren't terribly busy, for once. I was in and out.

Volunteered at the Haddon Township Library for about an hour next. They only had a few DVDs to return, but I did shelve romance novels and audio books and CDs. Organized the kids' DVDs, too. They were surprisingly quiet for a day that was killer humid and in the lower 90's. Everyone must be on vacation.

I have movies at home to watch, but I did take out some books. They had the two most recent Joanne Fluke/Hannah Swenson mysteries, Fudge Brownie Murder and Wedding Cake Murder (Hannah herself apparently gets married in the latter). I also grabbed another Princess Academy story, as well as the final Anne of Green Gables novel, Rilla of Ingleside. (I wasn't that impressed with the previous book Rainbow Valley, but since I'm in the mood to finish up series at the moment, might as well do this one, too.)

Cut across Newton Lake Park going home. Despite the hazy sunshine, they were fairly quiet except for a few joggers and people out for a stroll. I took the cooler, shadier, narrower back path that butts up against houses. Had a nice walk through the woods, pushing my bike up a dirt path, past fields of wild Black-Eyed Susans, to the Haddon Township Environmental and Historical Commission. Stopped briefly at WaWa for a yummy Watermelon Perrier.

As soon as I got home, I dusted in my bedroom, completing the cleaning for this month. It needed to be done badly. I never got around to dusting last month because of vacation. The bedroom takes a while, too. That's where all my collections and books are stored. I have to dust under or around them.

Took a nice, long bath after I finished. Ahhh. This felt soooo wonderful after riding around on a hot day. I looked over Big Magic (on finding your creativity) and my two most recent Christmas With Southern Living finds and listened to one of my jazz CDs.

Continued the fourth season of Moonlighting as I ate Salisbury steak and cucumber-tomato salad for dinner. "Come Back, Little Shiska" has David dealing with the fallout from the season opener, while Maddie reconnects with her parents in Chicago. Meanwhile, we actually have a mystery this time. A rich man (John Goodman) wants David and Burt to find the woman he spent an amazing night with. The woman originally wants nothing to do with him, but nothing is as it seems. (Look for David's bizarre Will Vinton Claymation dream sequence.)

Ended the night with the 1987 Dragnet. This extremely odd spoof of the original 50's and 60's cop show has Dan Ackroyd playing the nephew of the original Joe Friday, Los Angeles' most by-the-book cop. His new partner (Tom Hanks) is anything but. The two are going to have to learn to work together if they intend to take down a cult that wants to take over the world. While Friday falls for the virgin the cult wants to sacrifice, his partner tries to figure out what the upstanding Reverend Worley (Christopher Plummer) is really up to.

Basically, this is "Dragnet if it were The Naked Gun." At the very least, it has a nice cast, including Harry Morgan as the duo's boss (moving up from his original role as Joe Friday's partner in the 60's show). If you're a fan of The Naked Gun movies, Ackroyd, Hanks in comedy mode, the original show, or goofy spoofs, you might have fun with this.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Pirate's Life for Me

I originally awoke at 7 to a gloomy, cloudy morning. Closed my eyes for five minutes...and when I opened them, it was 9:30, and the weather was still blah. Looked like it would rain any minute.

I ate breakfast, then did some things around the house. Went through my journals in the back room. Made the bed, which I hadn't done in over a month. Vacuumed the entire apartment.

Ran the last two episodes of Laverne & Shirley's third season I hadn't watched during breakfast and while making the bed. After overhearing her father worry that she'll never get married, Laverne has a nightmare that turns into "2001: A Comedy Odyssey." In the far future, she and Shirley are old women who still live together. She's desperate to marry anyone, even an elderly Lenny and Squiggy.

"Breakin' Up and Makin' Up" is the season finale. Mr. DeFazio is upset when Mrs. Babish's ex-husband arrives in town and she breaks up with him. The girls hold a big dinner at their apartment, complete with Shirley's attempt to sing Rogers and Hammerstein ballads, to try to bring them back together.

Switched to my Year of Your Life: 1982 Vol 2. CD by the time I was vacuuming as inspiration for my current story. I had been debating whether or not to run errands all morning. It wasn't raining when I put my rag rug and welcome mat outside to air. Figured I'd at least return the DVDs to the Oaklyn Library, even if the weather wasn't good enough to get anywhere else.

Indeed, it was lightly showering as I walked out the door. Walked and brought my umbrella instead of taking the bike. The neighborhood is just so green for this time of year. Grass that is usually brown only has a few little crispy spots. Flowers bloom in abundance, the only decoration anyone needed besides a few faded flower-print banners and wreaths. The leaves on the trees are shiny like green glass.

The Oaklyn Library was relatively busy for such a wet day, with a few families coming in to return items and a young teen girl looking for books in the kids' area. I organized DVDs and dodged the kid long enough to take a look at the picture and board books. Took out the remaining two Pirates of the Caribbean films, At World's End and On Stranger Tides. Also dug up a collection of three Tom Hanks comedies from the 80's. I have seen The 'Burbs and Dragnet, but not in a long time, and I don't think I've ever run into The Money Trap.

Hiked to WaWa to pick up lunch. I was delighted to learn that they still sell Crystal Pepsi. I always did like that when it was released in the early 90's, and the current version tastes exactly the same. Got a roasted chicken sandwich with lunch. (Which I couldn't use my food stamp card on. It hadn't even occurred to me that the chicken would be regarded as hot foods.)

It was still raining when I walked home. The rain was down to barely a shower when I got in. It would shower off and on for the remainder of the afternoon. I spent the day at home. This was no time to be lingering anywhere. In fact, it's just as well that Mrs. Stahl did change our appointment. This was definitely not a good day for a long bike ride to Haddonfield or anywhere else.

Put on an episode of She-Ra while eating my roast chicken sandwich. (Which was slathered with waaaayyy too much honey mustard. The chicken kept slipping out.) She-Ra, Madame Razz, and Castaspella have to rescue Bow and Sorrowful the Dragon when they're captured by the Horde. They're not the only captives there. "The Prisoners of Beast Island" are fellow-beasts who are behind bars. Sorrowful makes up for his cowardly behavior earlier by releasing the beasts and rescuing the rebels.

Worked on writing for a few hours after lunch. It rains for two days straight right before the block party is scheduled. Leia's worried that the rain won't stop, despite Hank's admonishments that the National Weather Service says sun for Saturday. Leia's even less happy when Hank announces that he and Charlie are leaving after the block party. She wants him to stay, but he doesn't want her to potentially be harmed by any other bounty hunters who are after him. Leia finally drags her brother away from an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard to talk to the other Cottage residents. Charlie doesn't like running out on the group, but Hank's determined to leave.

Broke at 5:30 to start dusting the living room. Started the fourth season of Moonlighting as I did. This is another season set I've mostly put off watching, mainly because...well, this is pretty much said to be the worst season of this series. Indeed, "A Trip to the Moon" was mainly Maddie and David discussing and arguing over their relationship after they slept together in the end of Season 3, with nary a mystery to be seen. There were some nifty fantasy sequences, though. Maddie gets love advice from Dr. Joyce Brothers; David gets it from Ray Charles. Maddie keeps dreaming their relationship into an episode of The Honeymooners.

The ground turkey I pulled out for dinner hadn't defrosted by 6:30, so I settled on scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms for dinner. Made Peach Flummery for dessert. Enjoyed my meal while watching Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Captain Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) are determined to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the clutches of Davy Jones' Locker. He's one of nine pirate lords who can take part in the Brethren Court and create an armada to stop the obnoxious Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), who has taken control of Tortuga. Even after they rescue Jack, they still have to convince him and the rest of the Court, including the even more menacing Captain Teague (Keith Richards), to help out. There's also Calypso (Naomie Harris), who helped raise Barbarossa from the dead in the previous film and had once been Davy Jones' lover. They hope she'll help them if they unleash her power. But you know what they say about a woman scorned...

I was pleasantly surprised here. I hadn't heard good things about this or On Stranger Tides, but it actually turned out to be a lot of fun. I saw bits and pieces of it before when it was first released on DVD, but not the whole thing. While still not at the level of the first movie, it's a slight improvement over the second, with some great action set pieces, cinematography, makeup design, and special effects. (It was deservedly Oscar-nominated for the latter two.) Everyone's clearly having a marvelous time, including Richards in his brief but memorable cameo.

The big problem here is length. This is notoriously almost three hours, and the padding does show, especially in the convoluted middle half. I had a hard time following who was double-crossing whom after a while.

If you have a lot of time of your hands and are a fan of this series, pirate yarns, or the cast, hop on-board and join the Court. This is likely the second-best film in the series after Curse of the Black Pearl. If you're new to the series, back up to Curse and start there. Like Harry Potter, this is a series that you absolutely must start at the beginning with if the plot is going to make any sense.

Monday, August 14, 2017

In the Mysterious Fathoms Below

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast. After I ate, I moved on to cleaning the kitchen. It really needed it. I put it off way too long. The counters and sink were especially grungy. There's cobwebs all over the place, too. All the weird weather we've had this summer must have driven the spiders inside.

Ran more Laverne & Shirley third season episodes as I worked. "The Mortician" is Laverne's newest date. She lies and says Shirley is dying to get further along with him. He figures out the truth when she overdoes it.

"The Slow Child" is Mrs. Babish's daughter Amy, who is autistic. Her mother's letting her help the girls get ready for their St. Patrick's Day party. She really hits it off with the equally slow Lenny, who takes her out on her first date...which sends the others all over looking for them.. He actually attacks his best friend when Squiggy calls the girl retarded. It takes a lot of talking to her mother and to Lenny to point out that Amy is really a sweet girl who needs her mother to start treating her like an adult.

Laverne and Shirley are excited to be in charge of "The Second (Almost) Annual Shotz Talent Show." Their excitement fades when the boss says he wants them to find a place for his son Max. The show seems to be the only thing that interests him. Problem is, Max seemingly has no talents. Even Lenny and Squiggy can't figure out what to do with him. The girls have to confront their boss to find out where Max's talents really lay.

The phone rang just as I was starting to clean up the kitchen. It was Mrs. Stahl. Turns out she had a family emergency and rescheduled our appointment again. Hopefully, I'll actually make it to Haddonfield on September 5th.

Had a far easier time today than I did yesterday. Having late morning-early afternoon work this time probably helped. I mostly gathered carts and baskets, shelved items, and mopped the bathroom floors. Wasn't too happy to get stuck in the register twice, including for someone going on break...when I should have been going on break myself.

Spent the rest of a gloomy, humid day at home writing. In a riff on the scene between Wolfman Jack and Richard Dreyfuss in another George Lucas film, American Graffiti, Luke comes to WMBZ in Atlantic City to ask Ahsoka "Fulcrum" Tano if she'll perform at the block party. Not only does she agree to it, but she lets a delighted Luke announce it on the air.

Finished out the third Laverne & Shirley disc while eating leftovers for dinner. Shirley's cousin is "The Dentist," whom she wants to fix Laverne's broken tooth. Her cousin isn't a very good dentist, having failed dental school five times, but she convinces Laverne to go to him anyway and help him finally pass. If he can find her tooth after they've inhaled too much laughing gas...

The girls are stranded at a "Bus Stop" when two medical students leave them high and dry after they won't go out for drinks with them. Shirley desperately tries to get money to sleep anywhere else, then mourns her lost dream of marrying a doctor. Laverne's fine with sleeping on a bench.

Took a shower, then put on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest while going online. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in a bit of a bind. He once bartered for the Black Pearl with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who is also holding Will Parker's (Orlando Bloom) father Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard) as part of his crew. Jack and his crew are on an island filled with cannibals, where Jack is worshiped as a god. Meanwhile, Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) and Will can't marry until they bring Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) Jack's magic compass. After rescuing Jack and the others, they discover from voodoo priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) that Davy Jones' only weakness is in his heart, which is kept in Dead Man's Chest on Isla Cruces. Now they have to get the key from Bootstrap Bill and find that chest, or the monstrous creature known as the Kracken may drag them down to Davy Jones' Locker before Jones can!

While not as good as the first one, this does have its charms, including amazing, Oscar-winning special effects and the awesome three-way duel between Jack, Will, and Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport) for possession of the chest.

I really wouldn't come here until after you've seen Curse of the Black Pearl. This is another series where you need to catch at least a couple of the movies for the plot to make any sense. If you're already a fan, or you really love pirate adventures or the cast, swing on ship and have fun.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Trouble With Managers

By the time I rolled out of bed this morning, the clouds and humidity were long gone. I opened the window to enjoy the breeze while eating Blueberry Pancakes. Listened to the soundtrack to Footloose while I ate. There's some classic numbers in this very 80's tale of kids fighting to dance in a conservative mid-western town, including "Let's Here It for the Boy," "Holding Out For a Hero," "Almost Paradise," and the title song.

Worked on writing for a little while after breakfast. While Leia and Hank dodge Bobby Fett, Luke's spending time with Ben in the hospital. The youth admits he hasn't had much luck practicing for the surfing competition with Vader on his own, thanks to all the distractions. Ben suggests he looks up his friend Yoda Yamagachi. Once one of the oldest members of the Jedi Knights, he's now living in Dagobah Creek, just outside of Dantoonie by the bay. He also admits that he knows Ahsoka "Fulcrum" Tano, the mysterious DJ at Luke's favorite local station, and may be able to convince her to appear at their block party.

Broke for lunch at 12:30. Put on my Tina Turner greatest hits CD Simply the Best while eating a quick lunch. Turner was one of my favorite singers in my early childhood, and is in fact, the inspiration for Ahsoka Tano in my story.

Work was an absolute pain. One of the managers told me to go outside and do carts as soon as I came in. Which I did...and was pulled back in after ten minutes by the actual head front end manger, who wanted me to take a register. It happened after I came in from my break, too. She saw me coming back and sent me out to do carts again. Not only did they not need to be done, but the actual head manager told me to do the trash when I came back. I did gather carts for about an hour eventually, but one of the teen boys took that over later. 

I hurried home after all that. Listened to Plain & Fancy in honor of Barbara Cook, who passed away a few days ago, while eating leftovers for dinner. This is a very typical 50's musical with an unusual setting - among the Amish in the real-life Pennsylvania town of Bird-In-the-Hand. A sophisticated couple from New York have inherited a farm in the Pennsylvania Dutch country and want to inspect it. Hilda, one of the Amish girls (Cook), falls for the male half. Meanwhile, a young woman is promised to one boy, but loves his brother. When the boy is "shunned" (thrown out) by the community, she can no longer see him. Now the couple has to bring the two together, help the community repair their barn, and fend off Hilda without hurting her feelings.

If you like Cook or the musicals of the 50's and 60's or are interested in Amish culture, you may want to look up this one.

Moved on to Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars after dinner. Tried exploring the main hub for a while. Couldn't get any more red bricks, but I did open a new mission...that I couldn't find on the mission map. Finally went back and re-did "Innocents of Ryloth." Having a wider variety of characters at your disposal was a huge help with this round. The clones could blast through piles of gold rock that hid minikit pieces. C-3PO opened a mini-game that had you trying to make the right number on the blackboard in a school of frightened Twi'leck children in order to get the piece. Jar Jar could jump to high places where studs hid. I was able to get seven pieces and more than three million studs. Started "Weapons Factory," but ran out of time before I wanted to meet Lauren online. 

Tried something different tonight. I've encountered the cast album for Happy Days: The Musical in stores before, but not anywhere else until I found it on YouTube. Yes, this is a musical version of the TV show, taking place around Season 4-5. Richie and the guys (and Chachi) are trying to earn money to save Arnold's. Mr. Cunningham wants Fonzie to wrestle a couple of local hoods, but he chickens out, trying to avoid his ex-girlfriend Pinky. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cunningham is looking for some meaning in her life. Joanie just wants a car and Chachi, in approximately that order.

This is too cheesy for Broadway, but it has been performed in several major regional theaters, including New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, and seems to fairly popular with high schools. Appropriately, it sounds like a typical 50's musical, with "I want" numbers for Mrs. Cunningham, Joanie, and the boys, plot numbers, and big dance numbers that have nothing to do with the rest of the show. 

Despite the blurbs on Wikipedia, this has more in common with Bye, Bye Birdie than Grease. If you're a fan of the show or musicals of the era it's set in, you may find this a pleasant listen.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fantasy Under the Clouds

While the porch was wet when I finally rolled out of bed this morning, it was merely cloudy when I got to breakfast. Ran She-Ra as I ate. "Enchanted Castle" is probably my favorite episode on the Season 1, Volume 1 set I have. Adora and Bow get into major trouble when a wicked witch imprisons them in her sorcery-filled castle. They have to put out the magic blue fire that gives the witch her power. An old woman they rescued on the road proves to be more of a help than she looks.

"He Ain't Heavy" brings He-Man in for his second crossover with his sister after the pilot movie. Hordak uses a Moon Mirror stolen from an elderly wizard to kidnap Prince Adam and hold him as bait to trap Adora. She-Ra has other ideas. She enters Hordak's home the Fright Zone to rescue him.

It was quarter after 11 before I made it out to the Collingswood Farm Market. Neither the late hour nor the clouds and heavy humidity could stop the crowds. Despite the crazy weather we've been having lately, the summer produce is at its height. Saw winter squash for the first time today as well. Ended up with mushrooms, scallions, blueberries (which seem to have returned this week), tiny apples, two ears of corn, a small eggplant, a tomato, a cucumber, and two onions. Checked out Rite Aid and CVS to find something; never saw it. 

When I got in, I put away my purchases and made Cucumber-Tomato Salad while watching more She-Ra. "Return of The Sea Hawk" brings back Etheria's own roguish pirate and his crew. He lends She-Ra and her horse Swift Wing a hand when they're captured by the Horde while trying to help a village of elves.

"King Miro's Journey" takes He-Man and his grandfather to Etheria. Miro wants to meet his granddaughter...but he ends up encountering Hordak, who is using a crystal dome to trap the Rebels.

It remained cloudy and sticky humid as I headed out to work. We were very busy, especially early-on. I suspect people may have been trying to avoid the rain that never came. The weather wasn't exactly conductive to a weekend trip to the Shore, either. While I did bag and gather trash, I was mainly outside doing carts. I did have help from a college-age and a teen boy early on. Thankfully, by the time I was on my own, the crowds had subsided somewhat. They were having a really good sale on Pepperidge Farm Cookies. I wanted to try the Caramel Apple Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake. 

As soon as I got home, I changed, then made a swordfish steak in garlic butter sauce and the Cucumber-Tomato Salad for dinner. Did another She-Ra episode as I ate. "The Peril of the Whispering Woods" is the poison the Horde's using to destroy the forest. Unfortunately, it's also hurting the elves who are a part of its magic. She-Ra manages to convince the young son of Horde Prime, Prince Zed, to understand the other side while Madame Razz works on an antidote.

Moved to the fifth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while having Ben & Jerry's for dessert. Thought I'd cool down a bit with "The Ice Mutant Cometh." BeBop and Rocksteady accidentally drop mutagen on the ice blocking the Technodrome, creating a 100-foot tall ice monster that responds only to BeBop. The Turtles have to figure out how to defrost this menace without flooding New York City in the process.

After enjoying She-Ra earlier in the day, I thought I'd watch another Filmation girl-power tale as I went online. Happily Ever After is supposed to be the sequel to Snow White. When the Prince is kidnapped by the evil Lord Maliss, the brother of the Evil Queen, Snow White goes to Mother Nature for help. She sends the girl and the Dwarfelles, the nature-controlling sisters of the Dwarfs, to Maliss' home to rescue him. 

Surprisingly fun cult animated fairy tale. The music's lousy and Maliss' hench-animals are useless, but the Dwarfells are pretty funny, and Snow White is slightly more pro-active than in most versions of this story. 

Finished out the night with another lesser-known animated film from my childhood, The Gnomes' Great Adventure. A fantasy writer (Christopher Plummer) narrates the tale of how David the Gnome (Tom Bosley) was called on to retrieve the Gnome King's stolen gold from a group of hungry trolls. He's aided by a shape-shifting wizard (Tony Randall), an odd Tibetan monk, and a group of mischievous flower fairies. 

Too bad the lovely World of David the Gnome cartoon is currently out of print and expensive on DVD, and I'm not sure if this was ever released on home video. It's an episodic but fun tale, especially if you're a fan of Bosley or Scandinavian fantasy. 

(And at press time...it STILL hasn't rained! A farmer said earlier today it was supposed to rain from 11 last night to 12 this morning. It may have rained last night, but I haven't seen any rain today yet.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Cloudy Day Dolls

Began a hazy late morning with more Laverne & Shirley. In "Shirley's Operation," the girls and their friends are rehearsing for a performance of Alice In Wonderland when Shirley faints. The others get her to the hospital, where they discover that her appendix is about to burst and she needs an operation. Shirley is having none of this and tries to run away.

After the show ended, I finally got around to changing the American Girl dolls into bathing suits and summer frocks. Molly's in her peach suit with the thick green towel. Whitney wears a navy blue and white polka-dot suit with a tiny red towel and white Swiss lace espadrilles, all from the Springfield Collection. Jessa's in the early 2000's American Girl modern line tropical-themed Island Luau suit, the adorable pineapple-shaped ukulele that came with it, and the purple jelly sandals from the 90's Birthday Outfit. Samantha's more covered in her dark blue 1904 Bathing Costume, black tights, and her ruffled cap with the polka-dot bow.

Felicity and Josefina represent time periods where swimming and bathing weren't considered ladylike. I put Felicity in her lavender-striped Traveling Gown (and her later meet outfit) and the hat with the pink and celery-green trim from (Elizabeth's) Summer Gown. Josefina sports her pretty floral Party Dress and the beige moccasins she came in with her rebozo.

Headed out as soon as I finished with the girls. I didn't have as much grocery shopping to do this week as I have the last couple of weeks, but I did need a few things. Ground turkey was on such a good sale, I bought two containers. The Acme had a good sale on Ben & Jerry's and an online coupon; thought I'd try their Strawberry Shortcake. Restocked skim milk, yogurt (had online coupons for the Oiko's and the Yoplait Custard), peaches, mandarin oranges, diced tomatoes, cereal (Quaker was on sale again and I had another online coupon - went with Cinnamon Life), and two cans of tuna.

My schedule is quite a bit different than it has been the past few weeks. The head bagger went on vacation (along with at least 8 or 9 other people), which means I have earlier and slightly more hours. Tuesday and Wednesday are the off days this time, Tuesday for counseling.

Ran more Laverne & Shirley as I got organized at home. Shirley sets them up in the plant selling business after they lose their jobs at Shotz Brewery. While they are somewhat better plant saleswomen than Fonzie was an encyclopedia salesman, they're still saying "Take My Plants, Please" when they can't make a sale at a big apartment building.

Went out again just as the episode was finishing. Had a slice of bacon-corn quiche, my favorite Deb's Spicy-Sweet Iced Tea, and a carrot cake pop for lunch at Common Grounds Coffee House down the street. Listened to the owner and some locals discuss the wars between the local food trucks at the Final Friday Festival and the Philadelphia vendors.

After a quick peek at Rite Aid to see if they had something I wanted (they didn't), headed over to Westmont for this week's volunteering session at the Haddon Township Library. Even the librarians were complaining about how quiet they were. There wasn't a lot for me to do, especially since they were saving the DVDs for other people. I organized the shelved DVDs and put away audio books, CDs, and new releases. Looked for new Star Wars books, but I guess the new items for The Last Jedi aren't ready for ordering yet.

As soon as I got home and went on the computer, I called my sister Rose. She called last night, but it was dinner time by the time I got in. Thought I'd wait until she was out of work to get back to her. Turns out she was taking the kids over to Dad and Jodie's house for dinner and a swim. Did I want to join them? Sure, why not? I worked on writing and rested for an hour before heading over.

Khai and Mary, one of the neighborhood kids, were swimming when I arrived. Not only was it too late for me to want to swim, it was a bit too chilly. The clouds and the wind had picked up by then, dropping it back into the 70's. I went inside and held tiny Finley Rose while Jodie put my stuffed pepper in a bowl. My new niece is such a little cutie, but I was nervous holding her. I really don't know much about babies. I did what her grandma told me to and rocked her a bit when she got fussy. When she fussed too much, I turned her back over to Jodie and ate my (delicious) dinner.

Sat outside at the pool with Rose, Dana, Jodie, and Emily's mom Sandy while Dana held Finley and Jesse swam with the kids. Rose and Dana were both talking about possible vacations. Dana and Jesse are leaving for a cabin in the Adirondack Mountains tomorrow. Dad and Jodie will be visiting friends down south next month. Rose mentioned wanting to go skiing in the winter with her family again.

When I got home, I finished out the writing I started before I left for Dad's. Hank gets Bodhi to show him and Leia out the back way. They dodge Bobby Fett in the parking lot, then take Hank's fishing boat the Millennium Falcon out for a cruise around the harbor and wetlands near Ord Mantell. Fett manages to catch up with them again, this time in his boat the Slave I. Hank loses him in the wetlands....but now he thinks it really is time for him to go, before Leia or someone else gets hurt because of him.

Finished off the night chatting with Lauren online while watching Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly), the daughter of a Caribbean governor, finds herself up to her perfectly primped hair in pirates when she's captured by a reckless band of buccaneers. Turns out these rogues are actually cursed ghosts who need to return the treasure they stole to its final resting place...and she has the last piece. Meanwhile, her childhood sweetheart Will (Orlando Bloom) enlists wily (and perpetually drunk) Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to help rescue her and get Jack his ship the Black Pearl back.

I love pirate tales, and this one is no exception. No wonder Sparrow proved so popular, most of the rest of the series was built around him. He's still the best part of this funny and action-packed adventure.

If you're also a fan of rousing sea tales, this will probably prove to be your mug of rum, too. (Watch out for some of the scarier sequences with the undead pirates and some of the darker action sequences, though. This is definitely for older elementary school pirates on up.)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Let the Good Times Roll

Started off the morning with breakfast and one of my two Barbara Cook solo albums in honor of her passing the other day. The Disney Album is from the late 80's, which is why it features nothing from the Disney Renaissance era. On the other hand, it does feature a few rarities that don't turn up much anymore, notably the original "Sooner or Later" from the not-often-seen live action-animation hybrid So Dear to My Heart.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning. Hank takes Leia out to Chirrut and Baze's Chinese restaurant. They get an update on Cassian Andor's condition from Bodhi Rook, a sweet Arabic youth who works as a waiter there. Though he doesn't live at the Cottages, he does agree to help Leia with her case against Empire Industries. He and Kris Taylor, a friend of Chip and Arturro, once worked for them..until they quit over their unethical business practices and their dislike of the new resort project and what it would do to the town.

Everything is going well until Hank happens to look out the window and see a familiar figure..that of Bobby Fett, the bounty hunter who is working with Empire Industries and is after him. He tells Bodhi to make their meal to go and drags Leia out as quickly as he can through the back door.

Had time for some Laverne & Shirley during lunch. "Laverne's Arranged Marriage" is to a wealthy mozzarella manufacturer who doesn't interest Laverne at all. She tells her dad she doesn't want to go through with it. Shirley has to get them talking again when he gets upset.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday. I did round up baskets and trash and did a little baggging, but I was mainly outside. It was still fairly nice, much warmer, but still dry. Grabbed peanut butter and cake mix on the way out while they were still on good sales.

Did another episode of Laverne & Shirley while eating leftovers for dinner. "Laverne & Shirley Meet Fabian" is what it says on the title. After they fail to get tickets to see Shirley's idol in concert, they lie to snobby Rosie Greenbaum and insist that they can see him in person. They dress as maids to try to get into his hotel room, but almost end up falling off a ledge when they end up hiding outside.

Hit the bath after dinner. Ahhh. I so badly needed that. It was nice to just lay back with Big Magic, a book on exciting creativity, relax, and let my poor sore legs soak.

Finished out the night online while watching Everybody Wants Some!!! Jake (Blake Jenner) has moved in with the rest of his baseball team in a college in Texas in 1980. The guys are all looking forward to their last weekend before school starts. Even after the coach says "no girls upstairs" and "no liquor," they manage to set up a place to meet girls downstairs and sneak liquor in anyway. They get kicked out of the disco they were hanging out in when one of the guys (Justin Street) starts a fight. They eventually end up at a country-western bar, then try out a punk rock club. While the other guys are all chasing women, Jake is making a meaningful connection with the sweet and adorable drama student Beverly (Zoey Deutch).

Not great, not horrible. Sweet story of guys just having fun before school starts. Heavy swearing, some sex, and that fight in the disco make this one for older teenagers on up. If you enjoyed director Richard Linklatter's other excursion into late 20th century nostalgia Dazed and Confused, or similar ensemble films like Pirate Radio, you may want to give this one a try as well.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Dark Times Out West

Began a lovely, sunny day with breakfast and Laverne & Shirley. I still haven't gotten around to watching more than half of the third season episodes. Having enjoyed running through Happy Days, I figured it was finally time to finish these off, starting with "Tag Team Wrestling." Laverne's more than happy to do a wrestling event for charity with a friend of hers...but when the friend doesn't show, Shirley takes over. And then, Laverne realizes they're wrestling the woman she'd insulted when she cut her off on the road earlier...

Spent most of the morning writing. The residents of the Cottage have begun preparing for their Block Party and the end-of-the-summer surfing contest. Sabine designs posters. Those who own businesses, or know business owners, display them in their windows. Luke and the Rogues make "stop motion" commercials for the community bulletin board and the local drive-in with Poe's toys and a borrowed camera. Ezra and his Ewok kid buddies from the Endor Estates development hand out flyers. Hank and Charlie work on their idea for the Boat Pageant.

Leia is busy leading all this and pestering the City Council into looking at Empire Industries' plans. Hank finally corrals her as he and Charlie help her repair the damages the Imperial Gang did on Jyn and Cassian's cottage. He wants to take her out to dinner. She tries to turn him down. She doesn't have the time. He wears her down by suggesting they discuss the Boat Pageant. All right, she says...as long as it's just business.

Broke at 1 for lunch and to get ready for work. Laverne's in a bind when the handsome, rich man who is dating Shirley also asks her out. She turns him down flat, but doesn't know how to explain he's a rover. When Shirley sees him trying again, she jumps to the wrong conclusion. They have an argument, before Shirley finally realizes what a sleaze the guy is. They make "The Pact" to never let a man come between them again.

Work was absolutely no problem whatsoever. I briefly took a look at the bathroom when I got in and gathered baskets, but I was mainly outside. Just as well. It was too nice to be inside. The weather was sunny, warm, and dry, probably in the lower-mid 80's, with a nice breeze. Actually slightly cool for this time of year. It was on-and-off steady all day, though never really overwhelming. I dodged the guy painting the yellow stripes on the curbs around the store and rounded up carts. Went home via Audubon Park, the development across the street, just to enjoy the day.

When I got in, I changed and had leftovers for dinner while continuing with Laverne & Shirley. A dubious lawyer encourages Laverne to put out a "Robot Lawsuit" on a toy company when their new robot attacks her and hurts her neck. Her neck recovers in time for the trial, but the lawyer wants her to ask for $100,000 anyway. The toy company ends up counter-suing.

Played more Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars after dinner. Redid "Defenders of the Peace" first. Held out long enough to pick up a ton more studs and a minikit piece. Did even better with "Storm Over Ryloth." I was able to get two more minikit pieces and more than a hundred million studs!

Finished the night with The Searchers. Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), just home from the Civil War, is living with his brother and his family. He helps his neighbor Lars Jorgenson (John Qualen) search for cattle, only to discover that the theft was a ruse. A Comanche tribe has burned his brother's home, killed most of his family, and kidnapped the two girls. He, the girls' adopted brother Martin (Jeffery Hunter) and Jorgenson's son Brad (Harry Carey Jr.) go after the Indians, only to find Lucy dead. Brad tries riding into the Indian camp and gets killed as well. They follow the trail for several years, discovering that a now-grown Debbie (Natalie Wood) has been taken into the Nawyecka band by its chief Scar. She's one of his wives, and to Ethan's horror, she'd rather stay with them. Martin protects her from Ethan's rage. Ethan's determined to bring Debbie home, whether she wants to go or not.

Whoa. An intense and beautifully shot western. One of John Wayne's finest performances. Despite my stepfather's love of Wayne, I don't remember seeing this one as a kid. He generally preferred Wayne's knockabout 60's comedies to his darker western dramas from the 50's. The treatment of the Native Americans here is interesting. They do terrible things...but so do the white men, and they have a dignity that makes it entirely easy to understand why Debbie wants to stay. Amazing cinematography, too. The stark desert vistas really stand out in the VistaVision widescreen format.

If you're a fan of Wayne or classic westerns, or only know Wayne from those later comedies like Dad, you owe yourself to see this one. Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Summertime Fairy Stories

It was a lovely day when I rolled out of bed this morning. Started off the day with breakfast and the fourth Happy Days disc. Fonzie and Mr. Cunningham are "Two Angry Men" when the roof over Fonzie's apartment breaks, thanks to a blizzard and his new pigeon coop. Their fight over who should pay for the damage ends up in court.

Cleaned the bathroom for an hour or so after I ate. I shouldn't have put it off so long. It was really, really grungy, especially the bathtub and around the sink. I did it as quickly as I could get away with. I don't do heavy cleaning in the summer.

Continued with Happy Days as I worked. Bored with their usual dates, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph hold a "Beauty Contest" at Arnold's. In order to entice more sophisticated girls, they claim the first prize is a trip to Hollywood. Fonzie is supposed to bring a girl who'll win...but when she doesn't show, the boys have to figure out how they'll explain to the contestants that the prize is a fake.

Fonzie's having problems with his younger cousin in "Bringing Up Spike." He thinks he can help raise the kid without the rules Mr. Cunningham suggests. Spike makes that difficult when he's caught trying to steal from the cash register at Arnold's. Now Fonzie may have to lay down the law, whether Spike likes it or not.

"A Sight for Sore Eyes" has Fonzie visiting Ralph's eye doctor dad to try to figure out why he's been getting terrible headaches. Turns out he has an astigmatism and needs glasses...to his horror. Glasses are not cool! But he quickly learns it's even less cool to drive your motorcycle into Lake Michigan because you can't see the road, or avoid reading the results of a "Biggest Fool" contest onstage at Arnold's because they're blurry.

Headed out around quarter of 1 to hit the Oaklyn Library. Given the lovely, relatively cool day, they were quiet when I arrived. I listened to the librarian and the one older woman on the computers chat while CNN droned on about North Korea's new missiles in the background. Mainly worked on organizing the DVDs, especially the adult ones. There were a lot of new ones that needed their stickers removed or to be shelved in the right place.

I finally found out why the Oaklyn Library has such a great collection of DVDs - including ones for sale - for a two-room building. The morning librarian volunteers at Samaritan Thrift in Westmont in the afternoons. She picks up their overflow DVDs for use at the Library, to rent or sell. Her son is also a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean...which is why they have all four of the movies currently available on DVD. I've seen the first two, The Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest, but not since they came out. With a new one in theaters, I thought this might be a great time to give the whole series a shot. Also found a Barbie movie I'd never seen, Mariposa and her Butterfly Fairy Friends. Grabbed a double-set of Men In Black and Men In Black II from the "For Sale" rack.

Made a quick run to WaWa for a snack on the way home. I love their Chocolate Banana Smoothies. They use real bananas, making it sweet, creamy, and very banana-tasting! Didn't get anything else. I had plenty of food at home.

Returned to Happy Days while having a quick lunch at my place. "Arnold's Wedding" has the owner of the kids' favorite local hang-out getting married to his traditional Japanese pen pal. He wants Fonzie to be his best man. Fonzie says "no" at first. He's convinced he's cursed after the last two weddings he attended broke up quickly, and he's not crazy about the traditional kimono he's expected to wear. Richie begins to wonder if he's right when the bride gets upset over her non-traditional bride groom.

Hit the laundromat to get my load done around 2:30. They were crowded for the middle of the afternoon! I worked on story notes and tried to ignore a family with very unruly and spoiled children. The eldest daughter was especially obnoxious, sitting on her brother when he wouldn't behave and whining and crying ridiculously for sodas from the machine. Her father did give in to her begging for soda, but not for requests for snacks, no matter how hard her brother threw himself against the machine. They were long-gone by the time I was finally finished, managing to dodge another noisy family as I left.

Finished out the third season of Happy Days as I folded and put away my clothes and towels. Though "The Second Anniversary Special" was originally presented as a regular episode in a normal time slot, I'm actually glad CBS-Paramount opted to move it to the end of the set as a bonus feature. This clip show episode revolving around Fonzie's birthday made more sense as a season finale that "Arnold's Wedding," especially as it featured clips from episodes that hadn't aired yet when it was originally run. (I do wish they'd cleaned it up, though. The copy they included looked terrible, especially compared to the other episodes.)

(Incidentally...for all Fonzie's popularity and pop culture osmosis, he was never my favorite character on this show. Ralph was the one who made me laugh the most, followed by the delightfully down-to-Earth Cunningham parents. Though there were sporadic later episodes featuring Chachi and Roger I liked, frankly, once Donny Most and Ron Howard left the show, it pretty much lost my interest. If Paramount ever releases past the sixth season, I will probably pick up through season eight. There's still some good material there, including a musical episode. After that, there were too many cast changes and turnovers for my taste.

I do intend to eventually buy the entire Laverne & Shirley series, though. Not only do I like that one slightly more, but Carrie Fisher, a close friend of Penny Marshall's, appeared in an episode of the Shirley-less final season as a waitress who joins Laverne in becoming a Playboy bunny.)

Worked a little bit on writing after I finished folding the clothes. Luke suggests turning Kanan's yard sale into a block party, complete with music from the mysterious DJ Fulcrum. Hank adds that he and Charlie will enter the Falcon into Ocean View's Boat Pageant (based after the one Ocean City has every year) to represent the Cottages. He also insists that this doesn't mean they're staying for good, just for the summer.

Meanwhile, Vader reports to "The Big Man" at Alderaan Manor, the corrupt CEO of Empire Enterprises, Simon Palpatine. Palpatine isn't happy with the recent loss of Tarkin and wants to eliminate the residents of the Cottages By the Sea...until Vader suggests they hire Luke and Leia instead of killing them. Palpatine thinks this is a sound idea. Leia's brilliant enough to work in his offices; Luke could join the Imperial Gang.

It was past 7 when I finally broke for dinner. Made a tasty ground turkey-noodle casserole while watching Mariposa and Her Butterfly Fairy Friends. This earlier Barbie movie is more interesting than the cutesy title sounds. Elina of the Fairytopia series tells the story of Mariposa, a shy butterfly fairy who prefers reading and searching the sky for constellations to parties and dancing. She feels out of place among the more outgoing, less thoughtful fairies, like her friend Willa. Her demanding fairy sister employers are desperate to go to a ball and meet the handsome Prince Carlos. This Cinderella-esque story turns into a quest when the Queen of the Butterfly Fairies is poisoned. She created the magical lights that keep their fairy-eating enemies the Skeezites away from their land. If she dies, the lights will die, too. While Mariposa and the sisters search outside the kingdom's limits for the antidote, Willa rescues Carlos and attempts to figure out who is behind the poisoning.

This one really hit me in a sore spot. As a fellow introvert who prefers reading to parties, I know exactly how poor Mariposa feels, especially early-on. I like that the Cinderella story that's originally presented is turned on its head. The sisters Rayna and Rayla have a surprisingly amount of character development, starting out as spoiled stepsister-types and ending up as Mariposa's friends who understand her worth. Not only does the Prince end up being the damsel in distress, but there's no romance presented, either (a rare thing in these early Barbie specials).

I remember liking the follow up Mariposa and the Fairy Princess, and I have to admit, I enjoyed this one, too. If you're a fan of the Fairytopia series or the earlier, more princess-y Barbie tales, you may find this one to be just as enjoyable.

Finished out the night on YouTube with another Barbie movie I hadn't seen, Barbie In Swan Lake. The third movie in the series also has Barbie telling a tale, this time to a nervous camper who feels scared of her new environment. She relates the story of Odette, a baker's daughter who follows a runaway unicorn into an enchanted cave in the woods. Here, she meets the Fairy Queen and a group of elves who were turned into animals during the day by the evil Rothbart. Angry at her invasion of the woods, Rothbart and his his obnoxious daughter Odile turns Odette into a swan. The Fairy Queen softens the spell to make her human at night. While a troll scholar named Erasmus searches for the solution, Odette falls for the handsome hunter Prince Daniel. Daniel wants Odette to come to a ball, where he'll declare her his wife...but Rothbart has other plans.

This one has a lot in common with another 90's-early 2000's Swan Lake retelling, The Swan Princess, including additional cute sidekicks, plotlines, and a happy ending. One one hand, it does have its charms, including some of the funny material for the "elves" and the use of the real music from the ballet. Alas, it's plagued with the same waxy animation that was a problem in Barbie In the Nutcracker and didn't really start to change until around the time Mariposa came out. Ok if you're a fan of the earlier Barbie stories or princess tales.

And a final send-off to two legendary musical performers, country star Glen Campbell, best known for his hit "Rhinestone Cowboy," and stage and cabaret legend Barbara Cook, who appeared in the original casts of The Music Man (as Marian the Librarian) and She Loves Me and had a second career as a much-loved cabaret and concert performer.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Wet Cold New Jersey Summer

I awoke to a gloomy downpour that would continue on and off for most of the day. Brightened the gloom with the next Happy Days disc. "They Call It Potsie Love" when Potsie practices his performance of "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" on Joanie, and she becomes infatuated with him. Taking Fonzie's advice, she writes him notes, insisting she's his "secret love." He's thrilled when this mystery girl wants to meet him...but not as much when he discovers who she is.

Ralph has less luck with the ladies in "Tell It to the Marines." He's shot down by a girl who isn't amused by his jokes and antics. Hoping to become more macho, he claims he's going to join the Marines. Richie and Potsie drag Fonzie from his Christmas photo shoot to talk him out of it.

Spent the rest of the morning writing and doing research online. The residents of the Cottages brainstorm ideas for earning money. Along with a yard sale, Luke comes up with a fair and dancing on the beach, music provided by mysterious local DJ Fulcrum.

There was no way around it. The showers showed no signs of abating by quarter of 1. I learned my lesson last Wednesday about taking the bike to work in bad weather. Called Dad for a ride this time. Thankfully, he was at home. He claimed he'd had no plans for today anyway and would be glad to bring me there.

Broke at 1 for lunch and a few more Happy Days episodes. The 50's really show on "Dance Contest." Most husbands probably wouldn't mind their wives joining a dance show today, even if they laughed about it, like Mr. Cunningham did.  Mr. Cunningham doesn't understand why his wife is bored with her chores. She partners with Fonzie when he won't take the dance contest seriously...but her family ends up convinced they're having an affair.

Fonzie becomes "Fonzie the Salesman" after a snooty rich man buys the garage he works for and makes too many changes for his taste. Trouble is, Fonzie can't find any other jobs that suits him. Richie tries to help him sell encyclopedias door-to-door. The women may be attractive, but sucking up to people and pushing merchandise (that has nothing to do with him) are some of the few things Fonzie isn't good at.

Dad picked me up for work at 10 of 2. It was pretty much steady on and off all day. The showers continued, sometimes heavily, through about 4. I did have to help the head bagger with carts when I got in, though the showers had lightened enough by then that my shoes and jacket were the only things that really got wet. By the time I went back out there around 4:30, the rain was gone, and it was just humid, damp, and chilly for this time of year, probably in the mid-60's. When I wasn't outside, I did returns, bagged, gathered baskets, and cleaned up the puddles of water left by dripping customers.

Dad picked me up slightly after 6. After I took out the recycling and changed into regular clothes, I had leftovers for dinner while finishing out the Happy Days disc. The Bears-Lions game is coming, and Richie, Potsie, and Ralph have no money for tickets. Ralph comes up with a babysitting service to earn money, but the little boy Laverne and Shirley leave in their charge proves to be too much to handle...at least until Fonzie and his cousin Spike arrive on the scene.

The girls also appear in "Fonzie the Superstar." Fonzie takes over for Potsie to sing at the Saturday Dance at Arnold's, to the delight of every female in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, he gets hit with a rather nasty case of stage fright right before he's scheduled to appear. Richie has to remind him that the show must go on. Laverne and Shirley are his back-up singers.

Played a little Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars around 7. "Lair of Grievous" was only slightly more complicated than some of the previous rounds. Still no minikit pieces, but I did get a pile of studs.

Finished out "Fonzie the Superstar," then switched to Snow White and the Three Stooges as I went online. This musical adaptation of the famous fairy tale features the Stooges as the "dwarfs" to Snow White (Olympic figure skating gold medalist Carol Heiss) when she takes refuge in their cottage. Their adopted son Quatro falls for her, but she's engaged to the missing Prince Charming. Meanwhile, her jealous stepmother the evil queen and her assistant are determined to find her and eliminate her, no matter what the cost. Then they learn that the Prince may still be alive, and things really get interesting. Charming fantasy music is fun for fans of the later-day Stooges or Technicolor whimsy.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

In the Summertime

It was still sunny but cool when I finally rolled out of bed this morning (after staying up late with Lauren last night). Ran Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on LP while eating Peach Brown Sugar Pancakes for breakfast. Along with her two singles from Xanadu and "You're the One That I Want" and "Hopelessly Devoted To You" from Grease, we get three of her most popular songs from the 80's, "Make a Move On Me," "A Little More Love," and "Physical." Other than slightly burning one side, the pancakes came out very well, moist and just sweet enough.

Worked on writing for a little while after breakfast. The residents of the Cottages meet in a picnic a few days later to celebrate expelling Empire Industries from their property. In good news, Leia says that she got Officer Madine to slap an injunction that'll keep the Imperial Gang away from them. Tarkin has been put in jail for a long line of infractions, though most of the Gang got away, including Vader. On the other hand, Luke admits that not only is the mortgage due, but they now need to make money for Uncle Ben's hospital stay.

Broke around 1 for a quick lunch. Ran the soundtrack to Streets of Fire while I ate. I haven't seen the movie, apparently a "rock and roll fable" about a guy who rescues his singer girlfriend from local hoods, but the music is fabulous. "I Can Dream About You" was the hit, but my favorite song is the epic dance number "Tonight Was Made for the Young."

Work was very busy with the tail-end of the beginning of the month folks and college kids preparing to return to school. I gathered baskets and indoor trash and did some returns, but I was mainly outside. I had help from a college-age boy and a teen boy early on, but for some reason, they kept them both inside later in the day. At the very least, it did slow down a bit later on, possibly due to the lovely day. It remained sunny and cool, and not nearly as windy as it was yesterday.

It was such a nice day, I once again took the long way home down Nicholson Road. This time, it was pretty quiet everywhere. There wasn't even the usual traffic around Wal Mart. Everyone must have gone to dinner.

(By the way, when Lauren and I were shopping in the Audubon Crossings Shopping mall behind the Acme in May, we noticed three empty stores, including the former Lucille Roberts, were being combined into what appeared to be one big store. It seems it was actually two big stores. I saw a Marshall's the last time I cut through there, and Ross Dress for Less has joined Wal Mart and Marshall's on the sign for the Wal Mart side of the property. I'm absolutely thrilled. The closest Marshall's to here is in Deptford; the closest Ross is the one Lauren and I visited in Moorestown. We could really use both, and quite frankly I prefer them for inexpensive clothes to Wal Mart.

I'm a little worried that they might end up taking out Avenue, though. I like them, too. My bathing suit and two of my favorite pairs of shorts came from that Avenue. Oh, and the mall did end up getting another gym in the former Staples building.)

Made a quick dinner of Tuna-Chinese Beans Salad when I got home. Switched to CDs for my favorite Billy Joel album, An Innocent Man. If you grew up in the early-mid 80's like I did, this is probably the album you most associate him with. "This Night," "Uptown Girl," "Easy Money," and "Tell Her About It" are some of my favorite songs by him.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Farm Market Summer

Though the porch was wet when I finally rolled out of bed this morning, the sky was sunny and bright. I must have just missed the rain. Celebrated the lovely weather with more Happy Days. Richie and the guys want to protest the new 10 PM curfew imposed by a super-strict cop. Fonzie thinks seeing the train Elvis is taking to join the Army would be a perfect way to protest it. But it turns into a lot more "Jailhouse Rock" than Richie planned when he and his buddies wind up in prison after getting stuck in Arnold's and being accused of breaking and entering.

I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was when I finally headed to the Collingswood Farm Market around quarter after 11. Though it remained a bit humid, it was also windy and much cooler, in the mid-70's. Even that late, the Farm Market was bustling with people enjoying the late summer produce. Blueberries and raspberries are gone, but I saw the first Chinese Beans, apples, and melons of the year. I bought a small cantaloupe, Chinese beans, tiny yellow apples, a tomato, and blackberries.

It was such a beautiful day, I rode home across Newton Lake Park. Despite the rain last night, the park is starting to show signs of the usual late summer dryness, with quite a few brown patches in the grass and more than a few yellow leaves, although it's not as pronounced as usual for this time in the summer. Stopped at the CVS on the border of Oaklyn and Collingswood for a drink and to pick up Dawn dish washing liquid on sale.

Continued with Happy Days while making Blackberry Flummery and having the last of the shrimp salad on a bed of red lettuce for lunch. Mr. Cunningham's birthday turns into "Howard's 45th Fiasco" when Richie, in an attempt to cheer his father up, reminds him of just how old he is when he turns his birthday party into a riff on This Is Your Life. He claims he's going to run off to Tahiti to be an artist, until Fonzie reminds him of how much his family loves him.

Everyone's favorite greaser is "Fonzie the Flatfoot" when the local cops recruit him to stop a rumble between his old gang the Falcons and a rival group, the Dragons. Fonzie recruits Richie and the boys to help him encourage them to try sharing the territory or doing other activities.

"A Date With Fonzie" launched Laverne (Penny Marshall) and Shirley (Cindy Williams) into their own show. They're the sophisticated women Fonzie brings over to jolt Richie out of a dating slump. That would be great...if Richie's parents weren't out of town and didn't suddenly show up just in time to see a "sophisticated woman" with their son.

Headed to work as soon as the girls went home. Work was on-and-off busy, when I came in, a bit surprising for a nice day. It slowed down considerably as the afternoon went on. I cleaned the bathroom, gathered baskets and the indoor trash, and did carts. Had plenty of help, too. A college boy did the carts when I arrived. A teenager helped me out later. The head bagger was around as well.

I went home down Nicholson Road and Atlantic Avenue, just to be able to enjoy the weather a bit longer. Though there was a little traffic around Wal Mart, it wasn't bad. Nicholson and Atlantic were practically empty. Guess everyone went to the shore once it was clear that the nice weather was here to stay.

Finished out the second disc of Happy Days when I got in. Richie, Potsie, and Ralph are "Three On a Porch" when they rent a cabin at a popular lake resort and discover they've only rented the porch. Their protests lessen when their neighbors turn out to be three cute girls. The trio pose as rich businessmen from Tunsia to impress them.

The racial climate of the 50's and the 70's is addressed for the second time in the series in "Fonzie's New Friend." Fonzie's enlisted his new buddy to play drums at Richie's Hawaiian-themed party. Everyone but Fonzie, Richie's family, and his two best buddies bail out when the drummer turns out to be black. Richie's determined to have his party, no matter what the guests look like.

Had swordfish fillet, sauteed Chinese beans, and corn on the cob for dinner while watching Mannequin. This 1987 comedy-fantasy takes us back to Philadelphia, where Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy) has been fired from a series of low-level jobs. He lucks into a position at a grand old department store when he helps out it's kindly owner (Estelle Getty). He's initially just a stock boy alongside the flamboyant Hollywood (Meshatch Taylor) when he encounters the mannequin he'd made during one of his other jobs. The "mannequin" is actually Emmy (Kim Catrall), an Egyptian princess fleeing an arranged marriage across time and space. They create windows that are the talk of Market Street...and attract the attention of the store's rivals, including Jonathan's jealous ex-girlfriend Roxy (Carole Davis) and her sleazy boss (Steve Vinovich).

Critics have always savaged this one, ever since it came out...and I've never understood why. I think this is a charming and creative romantic comedy, with a fine cast of character actors having a marvelous time on the big screen. Nice music too, including the massive hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." If you love high-concept romantic comedy, the cast, or the late 80's, you may have just as much fun with this one as I always do.

A very different McCarthy returns for Weekend at Bernie's. We skip ahead two years to 1989 and head an hour north to New York City. Here, McCarthy is Larry, the more party-hearty of a pair of normal guys working for an insurance company. The other is Richard (Johnathan Silverman), who insists they work overtime to discover who's been scamming the company. They bring their findings to the head of the company, Bernie (Terry Kiser), who invites them to his expensive house by the beach. Turns out it's all a ruse. Bernie's the one doing the scamming and wants to have him killed...but the mob boss he's really working for (Louis Giambalvo) orders him killed instead. When Larry and Rich show up at the Hamptons, they find Bernie stone-dead and a hitman on their trail. In order to avoid ending up in the same state as Bernie, they pretend he's still alive as they try to figure out how to escape the killer and convince the girl Richard has his eye on (Catherine Mary Stewart) that Bernie is dead and they're not crazy.

Like Mannequin, this is another old favorite of mine. McCarthy in particular is having a ball playing against type as the goofier of the two. If you like black comedy or the cast, you may have a lot of fun with this one.