Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rewrite the Stars

I couldn't believe how warm it already was by 8 AM! I flung open all the windows, even before I had breakfast. Celebrated my birthday with two of the American Girl birthday books. Happy Birthday, Kirsten! opens with the Swedish pioneer getting ready to help her mother with a new baby. Once the baby comes, Kirsten is too busy for much of anything, including school and helping her friends with sewing a quilt for their teacher. Her friends and family finally come through with a barn-raising birthday party and a big surprise.

Kit also gets to share her party with family. In Happy Birthday, Kit!, we're introduced to her thrifty Aunt Millie from Kentucky. Kit loves most of her great ideas to save money, from gathering dandelion greens to raising chickens and selling the eggs. Some of them, though, like buying damaged goods from the grocery or making bloomers from a feed sack, seem more embarrassing to Kit than fun. She gets upset when it seems like the kids in her class are laughing at her aunt...but when she sees the beautiful dress she made from a feed sack, she understands just how useful her aunt's money-saving tips can be.

Ate a quick breakfast while watching The World of Strawberry Shortcake. The original 1981 Strawberry Shortcake special is set on the title character's sixth birthday. She's upset when she thinks the rest of the residents of Strawberry Land have abandoned her. What they're really doing is setting up a surprise party. The Peculiar Purple Pie Man is determined to spoil their fun and steal their berries for his own wares. When his watering can gift wrecks havoc on their home, it's up to the kids and an army of kids to steal back the berries and rescue resident toddler Apple Dumplin'.

Did a quick Disney short as I got ready to head out. A second "Mickey's Birthday Party," this time in color, came out in 1942. Once again, the entire gang joins Minnie and Mickey for the latter's big day. While we do get Mickey trying to play the organ and having fun dancing along, the focus is mainly on Donald rumba-ing with well-endowed Clara Cluck and Goofy's failed attempts to bake a birthday cake.

It was already in the 70's when I headed out around ten after 9. First stop was the Haddon Township Library. I wanted to return The World of Tomorrow (which I finished last week but forgot to bring back on Monday) and the DVDs. Thought they opened at 9 AM, but it would seem that the don't open until 10. I stuck the book and DVDs in the book drop, went for a short walk to watch the progress on the sign for the new Target that's replacing the shuttered Thriftway, and sat on the curb across the library and waited for the bus. Figured I'd pick up the bus at the library since I had to bring the books and DVDs back anyway.

To my surprise, the bus was almost ten minutes early! In fact, they had to honk their horn to get my attention and me off the curb. That was the worst that happened. The bus was busy but not full, and there was no traffic whatsoever.

The Cherry Hill Mall was also relatively quiet when I arrived. Decided to check out a few smaller toy and game stores first. Didn't find anything at Game Stop or Jay Street Video Games, but I did pick up something for Lauren and the cutest little stuffed chick off the discount rack at Build-a-Bear. The chick is actually a game. He "chirps" when you squeeze him, and will keep chirping until you "find" him and squeeze him again. Though The Lego Store had Solo: A Star Wars Story merchandise (including an awesome Millennium Falcon with Han, Chewie, Q'ida, and Lando), The Disney Store ironically didn't. (Despite the nice lady who greeted me when I came in claiming they did. Nope, just the barest leftovers from Last Jedi. They're gearing up for Avengers: Infinity War and The Incredibles 2 in Disney-dom right now.)

It was around 11 when I struck out across the street for the Hillview Shopping Center. The main reason I wanted to go to the Cherry Hill Mall was I got a 10 dollar-off coupon for Kohl's yesterday. There's a Kohl's at Hillview. After much hemming and hawing over blouses and pants, I finally decided to buy a new white t-shirt (my old white t-shirt got so grungy, I eventually cut it up into dust rags) and a jean jacket. I've been wanting to pick up a light jacket for cool-but-not-cold days in spring and fall for a while now.

Had lunch at the Silver Dollar Diner, overlooking the hill across from the Cherry Hill Mall. They were so busy by noon, I ended up at the counter. I had a tasty "western" omelet (omelet with green peppers, onions, and ham), a drop biscuit, and hash browns. The omelet was the perfect size, the biscuit was nicely flaky, and while the hash browns weren't as good as my stepdad's, they weren't bad, either.

Next stop was the small Target at the end of the mall. Though I looked at blouses and underwear here, I ended up with a Pokemon Raichu (the larger, more evolved form of Pikachu) for Khai's birthday next week, a "Rowdy" Roddy Piper figure that can talk to other wrestling figures for Lauren, and The Greatest Showman on DVD for me. I wanted to see that when it came out...but it came out right after The Last Jedi, and my Star Wars obsession won out at the time. The cashier who rang my order really praised it and Hugh Jackman. She and the lady behind me also gave me warm birthday greetings when I told them why I was there.

I was starting to get more than a little worn out by quarter of 2. Not to mention, it had soared into the lower 80's by that point, ridiculously hot for April in New Jersey (though a stiff, cool wind made things a little more bearable). I returned to the Cherry Hill Mall. Stopped by the Dairy Queen/Orange Julius booth for a cooling treat. I'd never had a Julius before; went with the Pina Colada. Yum. It was basically a creamy coconut-pineapple smoothie, with lots of pineapple pulp and coconut bits.

Since JC Penney is only two stores down from the food court, I ended up there next. Finally found a white lace-trimmed blouse to go with my good skirt for the wedding here, along with two three-packs of socks on sale and a pair of brown capris on the clearance rack. Also took a brief peek at Payless Shoes to find a pair of good flats, but had no luck.

Saturday may not have been the best time to hit up a popular local mall. The place was packed when I left Payless. Since I was tired anyway, I just ended up taking the 3:07 bus home. Once again, I had no trouble getting home whatsover. Traffic was sparse, even around Haddon Avenue and Cuthbert Road.

Of course, as soon as I got in, I realized I'd forgotten to buy one of the most important things - a gift card for Rose's birthday, which was last Saturday. Pulled in at the Rite Aid across from the Westmont Plaza to grab a Duncan Donuts card for her. They also had the last Tiny Toon Adventures DVD set I didn't have, Volume 3. Bought an orange Perrier to combat that heat.

Did a little bit of writing when I got home. Encouraged by Leia, Han/Prince Henry manages to escape the rack, but he's still not quite sure of himself. Leia and Luke  hold off the demons while he confronts the cloaked magician who haunts his nightmares.

It was so hot in my apartment (and Charlie was being so noisy with the dogs), I just left for Dad and Jodie's a little early. Jodie made a pot roast for my birthday dinner. We also had a spinach salad with bacon, sliced French bread and butter, carrots and potatoes, and corn. The roast was a little dry; otherwise, everything was delicious. Jessa and Joe were already there when I arrived. Rose came around with Finley a bit later. She'd gone to Khai's first baseball game of the season that morning and had completely forgotten about the dinner. (Khai was at a roller skating party in Cherry Hill; Craig had work.) Chubby, cute little Finley is starting to walk with help now. I played with some of the toys Dad and Jodie had for her.

Rose gave me a tarp to cover my new bike. She loved the gift card. Apparently, she stops at the Duncan Donuts down the street a lot and buys treats for Khai from there.

Put on The Greatest Showman as soon as I got home. Tired of a series of dead-end jobs, P.T Barnum (Hugh Jackman) comes up with the idea of starting a wax museum and cultural center to delight his two daughters. When one of his girls points out how dull the waxworks are, he adds unique acts - "freaks" like bearded lady Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), dwarf Tom Thumb (Sam Humphery), and trapeze artist siblings Anne (Zendaya) and W.D Wheeler (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) - to bring in the crowds. It becomes so colorful and outrageous, he eventually titles it Barnum's Circus. Though the museum/circus is making money, it's not delighting New York's elite, including the editor of the New York Herold James Gordon Bennett (Paul Sparks). Casting around for something more upscale, Barnum hires bored young playwright Philip Carlyle (Zac Efron) to help him out. A tour of Europe turns up gorgeous, refined Swedish soprano Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). While Barnum conducts an affair with Lind, Carlyle goes after Anne, despite their differences in race and class. Barnum's personal and private lives come crashing down when protesters burn the museum and his wife Charity (Michelle Williams), who has heard about the affair, leaves him. But a true showman never gives up...and as the Barnum Circus rises from the ashes, P.T and Philip learn that while show business may be make-believe, true love and friendship are as genuine as it comes.

The music and performances are the thing here. The plot is a storm of biographical cliches (and most of them are fictional), but Jackman, Williams, Zendaya, and Efron all play the heck out of them. My only real complaint is, fond though I am of Jackman, I really wish we'd seen less of Barnum and Carlyle and more of the actual "freaks." The movie talks about diversity, but it still focuses on the handsome white guys. In all honesty, the real P.T Barnum's career was far more interesting than this.

The music is a lot more fun. "This Is Me," Lettie's anthem at a fancy party, won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar, but my favorites are the duet "Rewrite the Stars" for Phillip and Anne and "Come Alive" for Barnum and his family as they recruit the "freaks." Ironically, the movie's fate was much like that of Barnum's Circus - critics didn't know what to make of it, but it went on to become a word-of-mouth hit.

If you think of it in the same way as the Danny Kaye Hans Christian Anderson movie, another "biographical" musical that's "a fairy tale about a spinner of fairy tales," you may find a lot to enjoy in this fanciful tale. Highly recommended.

Finished the night with a two-part Sailor Moon birthday tale from the third season. Usagi thinks she's not having a great birthday when her friends would rather study and Mamoru doesn't seem to remember. Like the residents of Strawberry Land, her friends are really having a surprise party...and she never told Mamoru when it was in the first place. Even when he buys her the glass slippers she wants, they turn into a monster who is bent on getting her pure heart crystal...and nasty witch Kaorinite finds out who she really is! And then there's the mysterious Sailors Uranus and Neptune, who seem to be determined to find pure heart crystals, at any cost...

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