Tuesday, February 07, 2023

While Strolling Through the Park

Wanted to start the morning with breakfast and Mickey and the Roadster Racers, but Disney Plus still gave me trouble. I ended up watching Match Game '75 by default. Dorothy continued to win rounds, even when the panel changed and we got singer and actress Julie London, and in his first week, Lou Grant himself Ed Asner. Ed was delighted to help her get the winning answer for "__ Breath" in the Audience Match, while Richard helped the nervous Dorothy with "Nervous ___" on the Head-to-Head. Fannie got a crack at Brett when she joked about  her American flag shirt in the second episode.

After the show ended, I went for a walk. I'm tired of sitting inside. The weather wasn't spectacular, but it did look a little nicer than yesterday. It remained cloudy, but it was neither windy, nor that cold. I strolled down to Newton Lake Park for a while, admiring the bare black branches of the trees reaching for the pearly clouds and the rippling bottle-green waters, before I turned down Lees Lane and went back up the hill, past the children running around on the playground at the Clyde S. Jennings Elementary School, and across the White Horse Pike to WaWa. Grabbed a rich, tasty chocolate banana smoothie before heading home.

I updated the app and the TV itself when I got home. That did it. I had lunch while finally watching the Valentine's Day episode of Roadster Racers. Cuckoo Loca wants to take part in "The Impossible Race," a course with obstacles that are so difficult, none of the racers have ever finished it. Donald is determined to be the first, but Cuckoo Loca sets out to prove that bigger isn't always better. 

"The Happiest Helpers Cruise!" takes Minnie, Daisy, and Cuckoo Loca out to sea for Valentine's Day, as they organize a 70's-themed disco dance contest. Mr. Doozy is looking forward to dancing with a pro to win. When the pro is in an accident, she drops out, and the girls replace her with nervous first mate Emmy Lou. Emmy's never danced with anyone but a mop, but the girls remind her that you shouldn't let stage fright get in the way of doing something you love.

Spent the next few hours trying to figure out what to do next. I sent Karen a letter with the lists of what I'm good at, what I want from a new job, and what jobs I'm interested in. It's just a matter of finding jobs willing to take someone whose experience is in retail...and my dealing with the interview. I haven't had an interview since 2004. I'm not sure I how I'd handle it. I get so nervous talking to people! 

Worked on writing for a while around 5:30. Jo Ann pushes her way in, tellling Allen she just encountered the Ace and the Master Magician's henchmen and barely lived to tell the tale. Richard first tries to pull away, then teases her about seeing a shadow to divert her from the fact that he was there...and he, in fact, is the Ace who keeps rescuing her.

Broke for dinner at 7. Ate while watching Match Game Syndicated. The contestant called Patty Duke his favorite actress...prompting most of the other panelists to walk off! After they went back, Debralee Scott complained about having problems with her chair. Patty has to figure out "Can't Buy __" in the Audience Match, while Dick Martin has a rather unique answer.

Finished the night with House Party at Amazon Prime. I go further into the original wild rap shindig from 1990 at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

(And those clouds did finally break...around 11-12 am, when I was long online.)

Monday, February 06, 2023

Shopping Harts

Started out a late morning with breakfast and The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About That. Nick and Sally wonder if they can "Pick Your Friends" and disagree on how to decorate their Valentine's Day cards. The Cat takes them to meet Sheldon, a tortoise whose best friend is a finch. The two teach the kids that friends don't always have to think the same, and our differences are what help us work together. When the kids run out of milk and cheese for breakfast, The Cat takes them to "Finola's Farm" to show them how farmers get milk from cows, and how dairy products are made.

Switched to Match Game '75 as I looked up a few things online. Dorothy's still weeping with happiness when Clifton gets her the top answer for "Draw ___" on the Audience Match and Richard helps her with "Trail __" on the Audience Match. Meanwhile, Betty White is shocked to discover that Gene is married (and his wife Helen is hilarious on Tattletales). 

I went online to find out if my tax return went through. Sure enough, it did. I put part of it into my savings account, then decided to use another part to pick up a few more winter clothes. Now that I've lost a little weight, most of my clothing is much too big for me! 

Called Uber to take me to the Gloucester Outlets in Blackwood. I haven't been there since right after Lauren visited last June, and I really like them. Plus, they have the only Dave & Buster's in this area as a free-standing store in the parking lot. Got a driver in less than a minute; he picked me up in seven.

The Gloucester Outlets are a lot different than the ones in Atlantic City or Lee. They're a fully pedestrian mall, with no roads to cross in the mall itself and ample seating space. There's even metal roofs over the outdoor lanes to keep out the rain and summer sun. 

They were more like a ghost town today. I barely saw anyone when I arrived at around quarter of 2. Strong winds whipped across barren paths and empty fountains, past stores where the workers were often the only people to be seen. While the biting chill from over the weekend vanished with the morning sun, the wind remains cold, and the jagged silvery clouds continued to hide the sun. 

I peeked at Go!Toys and Calendars, but saw nothing I really needed, and lamented that I have no kitchen of my own anymore for Corningware dishes. "Toys & Socks" mainly sold stuffed animals and novelty socks. The stuffed toys were cute, but for the most part, they weren't anything I couldn't find elsewhere. Guess didn't seem to carry my size. 

Did far better at Eddie Bauer. I have a fleece jacket for work that's great for days when it's too cold for the jean jacket or sweater, but not cold enough for my heavy winter coat. I like the orange, tan, and turquoise striped print I found. I also picked up two long-sleeved t-shirts in dark red and coffee brown, the latter on a good sale. 

The only thing the Gloucester Outlets lack is dining amenities. They have a Starbucks, a Friendly's, an Aunt Annie's, and a combination Ginny's Ice Cream and Cinnabon, and that's it. No fancy restaurants like Atlantic City or food court like Lee. Since I could eat at Starbucks anytime, it ended up being Friendly's for lunch by default. I think they're the only location left in this area. 

Given it was past 2:30 by the time I settled down to eat, the only other people in the dining area were a young couple on a date and two older ladies enjoying a shopping day. Friendly's now has a lunch and dinner option where you can order a drink, soup or salad, and one of six entrees for a fixed price, with ice cream as an add-on. I went with unsweetened ice tea, a delicious crock of broccoli cheddar soup, and a small but tasty chicken quesadilla. Dessert was two scoops of Hunka Chunka PB Fudge with whipped topping and a cherry. The stuffed animals in their crane near the entrance had been replaced by rolled-up Eagles and Phillies jerseys. No luck this time.

After lunch, I poked around in Lane Bryant and The Loft, but I only had luck in Old Navy. I found a really cute blouse with the prettiest pink, peach, and bright green floral print for $10. I almost bought a sage-green shirt with a strawberry print, but it turns out I didn't read the signs right - they were for little girls. 

By this point, I was cold and tired of walking. Headed across the parking lot, and then across the street to Dave & Buster's. They're pretty much the same thing as Round 1 Entertainment with no bowling alley, fewer cranes with less-elaborate prizes, and the ability to tap your card, not just slide it in a slot. I ran around for an hour, rolling skee balls, spinning pirate's wheels, whacking clowns, bouncing balls, and leading my cars through Mario Kart Deluxe and Crustin' Blast. 

Between what I already had from my visit with Lauren in September and what I earned today, I had over 2,270 points! I found a strange stuffed critter sitting on a high shelf who intrigued me. He wore a blue Dave & Buster's "Ding Ding Ding" t-shirt and reminded me a little of the Shirt Tales characters from my childhood. I'd never seen an animal who looked like him, though. He had ears like a fox, a face like a mouse or a squirrel, and a bottom that was more like a muskrat or kangaroo. I picked up him and a much smaller stuffed hamster intended to be a duster for pads and laptop screens. My rooms get so dusty, and my laptop is the worst. It always looks terrible. And I still have 120 points left to build up when Lauren visits in the spring!

(Oh, and according to his tag, Dave is a quokka. Online research reveals he's a mouse-like relation to the wallaby from Western Australia that are known for being extremely happy and upbeat. No wonder Dave & Buster's wanted him for a toy mascot! Cool. I've never seen a stuffed quokka before.) 

Strolled back across the street and parking lot to pick up Uber. Considering it was past 5 and the height of rush hour, I was extremely lucky to get a driver who came in 4 minutes. The cheerful Hispanic girl chattered with a friend on a cordless phone all the way back to Oaklyn. Thankfully, there was no traffic whatsoever either way, not even on the highway.

Put everything away when I got in, then went online. Truth be told, while I wouldn't object to doing office work, I know I don't want to work in a medical office. I know how stressful anything involving medicine is, and it doesn't interest me in the slightest. Trouble is, I'm not sure if the things that do interest me would be hiring, or how I could bring all of my weird interests and skills together. 

I do know what I want from a job. Either I work at a set time Monday through Friday, or I set the hours. I want to use all of my skills, not just dealing with customer service, but writing, reading, organizing, researching, proofreading, and editing - the things I actually enjoy doing. I want to feel more at home around my co-workers, or have no co-workers at all. I want to do a job that has some meaning. Yes, I want health insurance and a better paycheck, but I'd actually like to earn those things and not come home stressed out, angry, and depressed. 

Broke for dinner at quarter after 6, just in time for an episode of Match Game '74 Buzzr previously skipped. I don't know why they didn't show this one before. Maybe they were offended by the very skimpy yellow halter top Louisa Moritz wore. Gene's more interested in wondering why Richard was attempting to grow a rather thin beard. (For the record, he actually grew it for a movie role that never materialized.) 

The next episode is even wilder! While Louisa does cover up a bit more, things get really crazy when Jack Carter sticks markers in his mouth and pretends to be a walrus, then runs off the set all together. Meanwhile, Richard insists his chair is broken and that Betty White is all tied up (with duck tape). 

Finished the night on Tubi after a shower with Hart to Hart. Jennifer intends to celebrate Valentine's Day by giving her charity committee special heart-shaped chocolates from a local chocolate store. It turns into "The Hart-Shaped Murder" when one man is killed by the smuggling ring who needed one of the chocolate hearts for their operation, and a CIA agent dies in the Harts' living room after eating poisoned candy intended for them. Johnathan and Jennifer have to figure out how the store ties into this, and what the kindly old lady owner's son is really up to. 

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Lovers and Games

Started off a sunny morning with breakfast and Unsung Musicals III. This is the last of three CD collections put out by Verasce Sarabande in the 90's that brought together material from shows that either closed quickly on Broadway or never made it there. The CD opens with the witty ensemble number "Nothing to Do With Love," from the off-Broadway revue Personals. This does sound like something that would have been performed on Friends - apparently, the writers of this show would go on to create that one. My favorites are the charming title song from a musical It's a Wonderful Life and "At the Same Time," from an earlier stage version of Freaky Friday

Headed off to work even before the CD ended. Work was no more fun today than it was yesterday. People just aren't in good moods. I hate explaining why they can't mix and match the soda brands or why their government cards don't cover everything they want. People don't listen, and I get tired of it. I'm sick of their whining over high prices and forgetting their reusable bags. None of that is my problem. I was so glad when it slowed down enough by 7 for me to leave with no relief and no need for one. 

After I got home, I went straight upstairs and into writing. Allen insists on calling a meeting about The Ace, who's been spotted at several high-profile warehouse burglaries and arsons of late. Richard tries to deflect  his interest onto the warehouses or the Master Magician, but Allen doesn't trust this strange person who seems to be wherever the Master Magician and his crimes are.

Broke for dinner at 7. Listened to Unsung Sondheim as I ate. This one focuses on music cut from Sondheim projects like "The Old Piano Roll" from Follies and "Multitudes of Amys" from Company, from shows that didn't come to fruition like the original Saturday Night, with its title song lamenting nothing to do on a Depression era weekend, or from little-known projects like the sweetly goofy "Truly Content" from an unproduced version of the modern Cinderella short story Passionella. I'm fondest of the gentle ballad "What Can You Lose" from Dick Tracy and the scolding "No, Mary Ann." 

Finished the night on YouTube with the great romantic couple of game shows, Allen Ludden and Betty White. Normally, Buzzr runs at least one episode featuring them for Valentine's Day. With them focusing on The Newlywed Game for the holiday this year, I decided to do a whole night dedicated to the pair. 

Allen first encountered Betty when she began playing Password in 1961...but he didn't really fall for her until a year later, when he'd begun to recover from the death of his first wife. Betty resisted his advances at first, but Allen and his three children finally convinced her she belonged with them. She and Allen were married in 1963. Appropriately, they made their first appearance as a married couple on Password, joined by their long-time friend late night host Jack Paar. 

Betty continued playing Password with her husband when the show went to color in 1967, in the now-rare ABC version from the early 70's, and during Password Plus when Allen was on in 1979 and 1980. In fact, Betty appeared in one of the first weeks of Plus with Dick Martin. They were always a delight together, whether Jack Paar teased them about their relationship, or Betty joshed Allen by dancing with handsome John Phillip Law in the beginning of Plus

They appeared together on other shows, too. They were on the panel together on To Tell the Truth later that year. Their friend Arlene Francis had no trouble figuring out they were the mystery guests on an episode of What's My Line

They're one of my favorite couples from the original 1970's Tattletales. They never failed to have a funny story or do something that would make me - and the audience - roar with laughter. And more often than not, they'd win, too, as in this episode from near the end of the original run where they're joined by Bill Anderson and his wife Becky and Patrick Duffy and his wife Carlyn. 

I really wish they appeared together more often on Match Game. The week they did in 1975 is probably the best from that year. The final episode of the week had Allen offering his fancy watch to anyone who would listen, Gene Rayburn saying "I've had Betty" in response to the Audience Match, and Betty and Brett running out and doing their own versions of belly dancing to the Star Spangled Banner! All this, and Dolly Martin puts in her first week, too. 

Sadly, their second week together during the syndicated version in 1980, and one of their last appearances on TV together, is currently lost...but the nighttime episode survives. Allen and Betty clearly enjoy sitting next to each other for the first and only time on the show. Jonelle Allen and Jimmie Walker join in for jokes about what job would be useless in an nursing home and what Dumb Donald takes when he thinks he's going "up the river." 

They were among the celebrities appearing on some of the few currently circulating episodes of the original 1980 Chain Reaction. Their long stint on Password made them a natural for this game that involved creating chains of words. They both do very well, with Allen getting his contestants to the bonus round three times in the three episodes seen here. 

Celebrate the season of romance with these shows chronicling the relationship between the most loving couple in game shows! (Chain Reaction is actually three episodes strung together.)

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Baby It's Really Cold Outside!

Got a late start with breakfast and the Valentine's Day episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Mickey almost forgets to make "A Surprise for Minnie" for Valentine's Day...and Donald does forget something for Daisy! They ask for help in making Valentines, then getting flowers for the girls...and getting around Pete guarding the entrance to the flower garden in Mickey Park. 

Worked on writing for a while after breakfast. After Richard finally deflects Betty's suspicion by praising her ham recipe. Allen insists he's hired, though he'll have to fly it by his boss, and reminds him that there will be a meeting for him to greet the staff that evening. Richard's more interested when Allen starts talking about how the network's reporters were trying to learn who attacked a certain fireworks warehouse in town and why...and what made the fissure in the center of the warehouse...

Broke with enough time to eat a quick lunch and call Uber. The high today was 27. Though the wind did die down quite a bit since last night and the sun was out, it remained too cold for bike riding. They driver going to work was slightly late, but nothing horrible; the one picking me up was on time. They both got me there within five minutes. 

Work was a pain in the rear. I hate ending up in the express lane. I can never keep up with the line, and I end up frustrated when things go wrong and the line's not moving. Thankfully, we had more help today, enough that there was someone to come in for me when I finished at 7.

Took Uber straight home. Ate leftovers for dinner and watched Match Game Syndicated when I arrived. There were several jokes about Richard Paul's "Show Binnis Is My Life" t shirt in the opening. Brett's so happy when the winning contestant gets her own answer to "Save __" right, she hugs her anyway! ("I want them to think I came up with it!" Brett claimed.)

Finished the night on Tubi after a YouTube Match Game marathon with The Trumpet of the Swan. I go further into this so-so animated adaptation of the E.B White children's novel at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Walk In the Wind

Awoke to a ringing phone. It was PNC Bank. They had one of those papers they mentioned yesterday for me to sign. When could I get down there to do it? I told them I'd be there this afternoon, then went back to sleep until quarter of 11. 

Finished with the journal in time for Match Game '75. Had breakfast as the Audience Match began. Gossip queen Rona Barrett and R&B singer Clifton Davis helped Betty White and the others with "Clara ___," while Gene joked about his suit and the champion's being identical. 

The second episode featured sweet Dorothy, a lovely woman in a pretty fall-colored zig-zag sweater who wept tears of joy every time she won. Richard and Betty helped her with "__ Fountain" in the Audience Match. One of the last questions revolved around whom Richard Dawson was marrying. Rona said Raquel Welch, but everyone else (including the contestant) said Brett or Charles. This is hilarious if you know anything about the show. Richard and Brett reportedly did not get along, and though I don't think he had any problems with Charles, Charles was gay, and Richard was very straight. 

Headed out on foot as soon as the episode ended and I was properly bundled up in my coat and new fleece-lined blue hat and gloves. The wind howled too hard today for a bike ride. Besides, I'm not really that far away from Collingswood anymore. Strolled through Newton Lake Park, admiring the ripples on the gray green waters and the bare brown branches as they waved in the gale and shivering in the 30-degree temperatures.

Stopped at PNC first. The young woman at the front desk grabbed the paper work right away. I signed it, and we chatted a little bit about my trouble job hunting and finding a place. It shouldn't take anyone twenty years to find a decent job. I wish I knew more people to ask about work, but I don't know anyone who is a writer or works in an office. No one in my family does it anymore. 

Cheered myself up with lunch at Sabrina's Cafe a few blocks down Haddon Avenue. By this point, it was past 2:30. I'd missed the worst of the lunch crowd. They seated me in a corner of the main room, near the entrance. I had Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes and peppermint hot cocoa. The hot cocoa was messy, with chocolate syrup and whipped cream spilling over, but very tasty. The pancakes dripped with whipped topping, lemon syrup, and berry compote. They were also tasty, but a little dry...and huge! Three fluffy pancakes were nearly the size of the plate. I barely finished half of them. 

Went straight home after that. I'm not in the mood for shopping right now, and I don't really need anything, anyway. Besides, it's too cold to linger. I walked again, this time passing equally well-bundled kids on their way home from various schools.

Settled down in bed for a while and tried to read the job books I took out the Haddon Township Library while listening to The Best of the Big Band Era, but I was too tired to focus. I need to stop staying up so darn late! I ended up taking a nap instead.

When I got up, I did some job hunting. I wish I knew what I could really do. How can you go from retail to a writing job or an office job? I have no idea what I have to offer anyone, besides writing, reading, editing, and organizing. I'd prefer a smaller office or place with fewer people. That's one of the things I hate about the Acme. I hate dealing with all those demanding people. I never know what to say, and I end up panicking. I can't multi-task, either, and I'm no good at switching gears. I'm either bored to death, or totally overwhelmed. Isn't there a job where I can have something in between? 

Finally did a little bit of writing around 6:30. Betty insists that she recognizes Richard from somewhere, possibly on TV. Richard blows it off, trying to deflect the fact that his "Ace" persona may have been caught on camera.

Oh, and I got my schedule at this point, too. In good news, more hours. Sunday's the only one that isn't late, though, and I still don't have that many of them. 

Broke for dinner at quarter after 7. Watched Match Game Syndicated while I ate. They've already started repeating episodes, having gone back to the first ones. The very first episode had Charles antagonizing the camerapeople, who focus anywhere but right on him. Charles makes fun of Brett's cheap jewelry in the second, even wearing her beaded necklace as a headband. (And I'd like to know how he got that off without ruffling his toupee.)

Moved to Jack Frost on Tubi after dinner. I went further into this Rankin-Bass Christmas/Groundhog's Day special about the title winter sprite wanting to become human at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog in February 2020.

Finished the night at PBS Kids with the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Valentine's Day episode. "It's Love Day!" and Daniel gives all of the kids at school and Teacher Harriet hearts to show them how much he cares. He can't figure out who gave him a special boat-themed card, though. "Daniel's Love Day Surprise" at home is hiding hearts for Grandpere to find. He's upset when his baby sister Margaret finds a heart, but Grandpere reminds him she did that because she loves him and didn't know better. He does even better helping his mother make a heart-shaped pizza. 

Thursday, February 02, 2023

The Groundhog Saw His Shadow

My alarm went off at 8. I closed my eyes for a few minutes...and when I opened them, it was 9:30. Yikes! I had to be in Collingswood at 10. Even with eating quickly as possible and rushing through dressing, I still arrived at PNC Bank ten minutes late.

Ironically, as it turned out, they weren't ready for me anyway. The financial manager's early appointment ran overtime. Even when I did talk to him, he didn't really have much to say. He'd only been able to make a few phone calls before being swamped with first other work, then the holidays. He did mention I'd have to sign some paperwork to get my money out of John Hancock or make it so it'll collect more interest eventually, but didn't have much else to tell me. He said he'll call back next week with more information.

Had enough time to stop at WaWa for a quick treat. Went with a simple Peppermint Pattie cappuccino. It tasted more of mint than of anything else. I grabbed it, then drank it quickly on the way home. At least the weather's still pretty decent. It was windy, but sunny and probably in the mid-upper 30's, about what it should be at this time of year. A little chilly, but nothing like it's going to be for the next few days! (In fact, considering what it is supposed to be for the next few days, I'm not surprised the groundhog saw his shadow.)

Went straight home and upstairs. I did my journal and read two chapters of A Dark and Stormy Tea, then looked over a book on finding jobs and changing careers from 40 onwards. Grabbed lunch really quick after I put the book outside, then raced out for work.

Work started out busy this time. It's the second day of the month, and between the cut hours, people getting better jobs, and several people on medical or emergency leave, we simply do not have enough help. I was often the only regular cashier open, and my line would be going down an aisle. We were so short on help, my break was a half-hour late because they had to wait for someone to arrive who could come in for me. (They did manage to pull a guy from the deli to help later.)

Went straight into grocery shopping soon as I finished my shift. Mainly wanted pads. Took a minute to find them; they were among the things rearranged early in December. Picked up grapes, granola bars, and peanut butter wafers...but forgot the yogurt. 

Had dinner after I got home while watching Match Game Syndicated. Came in just in time to see the audience give Bob Barker's answer a standing ovation. He's so delighted, he promises cars and refrigerators to the whole crowd. 

Bob had far less luck in the second episode when his chair broke and shrunk down beyond the desks. Betty White lowered herself down in solidarity with him. Meanwhile, Charles teases Bob about his studded leather vest, Gene chats with a Hungarian gentleman, and Charlene name-drops her fellow Dallas star Patrick Duffy and his then-new sci fi show The Man From Atlantis

Finished the night on Tubi with Juke Joint. I go further into the last B "race movie" made by pioneering black director and writer Spencer Williams Jr. at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Of Dolls and Superheroes

Started out the morning with breakfast and Match Game '75. Richard's delighted to show off a puppet one of their fans made that looks like him. He treated that thing as well as he did his own beloved sons. Meanwhile, Gene praises their young producer and scorekeeper Roger Dobowitz for actually spelling the words on their cue cards right for a change. (Poor Roger! He was such a sweetie, and Gene teased him so much.)

Switched to The Backyardigans at Paramount Plus as I got organized. Tasha, Pablo, and Uniqua are a biker gang who call themselves The Do Gooders and go around helping people out. Mail-moose Tyrone has a Valentine's Day "Special Delivery" for them, but he loses his bag. The other three try to return it to him, but he thinks they're a stereotypical "bad" biker gang and attempt to out-ride them.

Headed out to run errands after that. Not only was it sunny and bright, but starting tomorrow, it's going to be too cold for walks for the next few days. Headed to Dollar General first. I mainly needed thin pads. Grabbed Valentine's Day cards and a gift for a friend, too. 

Debated what to do about lunch. Truthfully, I wasn't up to even pizza. I opted to drop by the pretzel shop about a block down the street from me. They sell cheesesteak pretzels and hot dogs wrapped in a pretzel. The gluten-free pretzel dogs were the only one left, so that and a can of Diet Pepsi were what I bought. I also wanted to pick up one regular pretzel for later...but the lady said she had too many and gave me three! 

Had lunch while watching Frosty's Winter Wonderland in honor of the cold weather arriving tomorrow. In the Rankin-Bass sequel to their Frosty the Snowman, the local kids build Frosty a wife after he admits he's lonely. Trouble is, they have to figure out how to make her "all livin'" like him...and then Jack Frost decides  he's jealous of Frosty and goes after his magic hat.

Dressed the dolls for February next. Samantha's dusky pink Talent Show Dress is so authentic, it's based on a real little girl dress from 1904 that exists in a museum. Whitney gets a pink and white felt poodle skirt with a white Peter Pan collared blouse I found on eBay and a knitted pink sweater with pearl trim from a yard sale. The pretty pink and red flowered Empire waisted gown and lace wrap Josefina's wearing also came from eBay. Felicity's in her Laced Jacket and Petticoat (which I laced up with a velvet ribbon I've had for a while). Ivy's Chinese New Year Dress doesn't really fit Jessa that well, but I like it better for her than the current Lunar New Year dress at American Girl. She wears it with Josefina's black mules. Molly wishes she could wear something more glamorous than her plaid School Jumper and white blouse! 

Barbara Jean gets the gold and white Sweet Spring Dress with the pink flower and ribbon trim, which does look something like a minidress from the mid-late 60's. I struggled to get a pink ribbon to stay on her head, maybe because it's larger than average for dolls nowadays. Ariel's in Julie's Calico Dress with the red tights and boots and bandanna to wrap around her masses of copper hair.

Switched to job hunting after I finished, but I'm still not having much luck. I'm just so nervous. Can I really do any of this? What can I do? Would all these people who want experience take someone who's worked at a grocery store for 20 years? I need health insurance, but writing jobs don't have that. Can I write and have a job that'll provide health insurance and help me make enough money to buy a condo? 

Moved on to writing around 5:30. Betty admits she's seen Richard before, but he tries to hide his face from her. He's worried she may recognize him. Allen doesn't. He introduces Richard to Betty as a member of the group and says he's hired...as long as the boss approves...

Broke for dinner and Match Game '74. Jokes abounded about the sweater Fannie Flagg wore with hands in strategic places and Gene's monumentally ugly patchwork pants. (Richard got them all singing "She's Got the Whole World In Her Hands" in the opening.) 

Returned to writing during Match Game Syndicated. Baby-faced and busty Charlene Tilton of Dallas made her first appearance on the show...but I'm not sure it was the smartest idea to put her next to Bob Barker, who spent the week ogling her. Needless to say, Gene was thrilled to give a kiss to the "new kid on the block." There were jokes later in the episode about pairing her with announcer Johnny Olsen!

The second episode kicks off with Bob showing off his orange jacket advertising his "Bob Barker's Fun & Games" road show plugging The Price Is Right. Charles plays director and insists that they show off how smoothly the turntable and wheel drop in the transition between the regular games and the Audience Match.

Finished the night on Amazon Prime with the three-part PBS documentary Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle. This look at the history of superheroes details their rise during the later Depression years and World War II, when they were patriotic blues-chasers. The enormous success of Superman in 1938 inspired scores of imitations, from the powerless vigilante Batman and his kid sidekick Robin to ultra-patriotic Captain America to kid-turned-hero Shazam (originally Captain Marvel) and the first major female superhero, Wonder Woman. 

They fell out of favor after the war in favor of darker horror, romance, and crime comics...but all comics became suspect in the 1950's after intellectuals denounced them for their violence and lack of morals. By the early 60's, all but the most popular titles had vanished, the crime and horror was gone, and comics were  considered kids' stuff. That changed thanks to Marvel hiring artists like Stan Lee, who created Spider Man, the Fantastic Four, Nick Fury, and the Incredible Hulk. Whether they were born with their powers, or gained them on accident, they were far more human and relatable than the gods and aliens at DC. This era also saw the first flowering of diversity in comics with the creation of Black Panther and the amoral mercenary Luke Cage.

DC responded by bringing Wonder Woman back to her roots, sending Batman and Robin off on campy pop art TV adventures, and throwing Green Arrow and Green Lantern together for a revealing trip across a changing American landscape. Other notable creations from this era include Black Cat, Valkyrie, Iron Fist, and the original Ms. (now Captain) Marvel. Marvel even brought Captain America back after being frozen in ice to join their own superhero team, The Avengers. 

I was born just four months after the release of the first Superman movie in December 1978. Christopher Reeve was one of my first crushes, and I loved seeing his first three movies and Supergirl on cable as a kid. My sisters and I were big fans of Wonder Woman, Spider Man, and the Incredible Hulk on TV, too, and we never missed the Spider Man and His Amazing Friends and Legendary Powers Super Friends cartoons on Saturday mornings. 

The darker characters and movies of the late 80's and 90's didn't do much for me, though. Ultra-violent titles like The Watchmen, The Crow, Spawn, Lobo, Hellboy, and Blade delighted my guy friends who went in for blood and gore, but disgusted and bored the heck out of me. The only superheroes I was interested in during the 90's were The Rocketeer, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

That finally started changing as superheroes reemerged in the early 2000's. The X-Men movies were such huge hits, even I had to check them out. (My crush on Hugh Jackman at that point may have helped slightly.) As the world reeled from terrorist attacks and new wars, superheroes once again reemerged, this time on a larger scale. I saw movies and TV shows for characters I'd never heard of before like Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Harley Quinn, Deadpool, the Teen Titans, and Pakistani teen Ms. Marvel. Others, like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, The Flash, and Nick Fury, got total rehauls to make them far more relevant to modern audiences. Even during the worst of the pandemic, local mothers told me they got their kids through binging on superhero movies on Disney Plus and HBO Max. (Which reminds me, I need to catch up on the newest ones.)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Angels at Home

Rolled out of bed in time for breakfast and the second Match Game '75 episode. Gene gives Esther Rolle of Good Times an introductory kiss after forgetting the day before while bass-voiced Joe Silver wonders who's gonna give him a smooch. Meanwhile, Fannie jokes about her handicap when she and Brett go golfing, and there's some fairly amusing answers as to what President Ford went down the slopes on when his skis were repossessed. 

Switched to Hit the Ice while vacuuming and dusting my rooms. I go further into this wintry vehicle for comedy team Abbott and Costello at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Had lunch and took my laundry downstairs while moving on to my first Valentine's Day special of the year. Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers is another collection of random bits and pieces of cartoons grafted into a thin story. Bugs thinks an Elmer Fudd-like Cupid is meddling. Cupid attempts to prove how important he is via sequences involving Daffy, Pepe Le Pew, Yosemite Sam, Granny, and the Tasmanian Devil falling in or pursuing love. 

Switched the laundry to the dryer, then tried to do some job hunting. I wish it wasn't so fruitless. I go on Indeed and Linked In, and I see nothing that's right for me. Everything wants more experience and skills than I have. Am I really that worthless? I wish I could find just one simple data entry or editing job who needed someone fresh and new and were willing to take a chance on a new trainee! They all want two or three or four or more years of experience and tons and tons of skills I don't understand. 

It rained late this morning and early in the afternoon, but the rain disappeared by the time Match Game began. When I looked out the window again around 3:30, I thought it was rain, but it was snow. Fine, light snowflakes drifted past my window. They didn't stick and didn't last more than a few minutes, but at least I can say I saw some snow this season! 

Switched to writing by 5. First of all, I went back and re-wrote the opening sequence slightly before returning to Allen and Richard. Betty reminds Allen that they're going out to dinner after she finishes her cooking show. Richard admires their relationship and points out that he'll need to be home at night for his sons. Allen understands - he'd been a single parent at one time before he married Betty and knows what it's like to be the only caretaker for your children. (True in both cases. Richard largely raised his sons on his own, and Allen reared his three children alone for about three years or so after his first wife died of cancer and before he married Betty.)

Broke for dinner and Match Game Syndicated at 7 PM. Started off with a question about the strange positions an archaeologist found cave people remains in. Half-way in, Gene gets a whole musical number going with former bassist Bill Daily...and they get so into it, Gene almost forgets about the question! Bill doesn't have nearly as much luck with "__ Rolls" in the Head-to-Head. In the second episode, Charles and Brett spend the time giving each other Worst Answer Awards. The others have more luck with the Audience Match for "Hooray __" than with "__ Leave."

Finished the night with Charlie's Angels at the Roku Channel after a shower and finally remembering to take my laundry upstairs. Two wealthy sisters come to the Angels and Bosley after a con-man strung along the younger sister and took them for over $100,000. "He Married an Angel" when Kris poses as a fellow con-artist to get close to him. Meanwhile, Kelly befriends his next victim, a mousy woman who owns an art gallery...and Julie learns that they're all playing with fire, including the con man, when it turns out the lady's father is a powerful mobster. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Just a Little Bit of Sunshine

Started off my day with a very late breakfast and Scooby Doo & Scrappy Doo on Tubi. "The Scarab Lives!" is the first episode of the series, and the one that introduces Scooby's pugnacious puppy nephew Scrappy. Shaggy is horrified when his favorite comic book hero The Blue Scarab appears, threatening his creator to stop making stories about him. He robs local businesses, following the pattern set in the Scarab's newest adventure. Shaggy's despairing of his hero turning bad, but Scrappy doesn't believe it, and the others think that someone else wants to destroy the character.

Headed out to run errands after the cartoon ended. Stopped at the Haddon Township Library first. My books were due today. Found an interesting Russian fairy tale-based trilogy by Katherine Arden; grabbed the first one, The Bear and the Nightingale. Also picked up the most recent Laura Childs Tea Shop Mystery A Dark and Stormy Tea and A Step So Grave, a recent book from an Irish series about an older female detective named Dandy Giver and her family. Finally figured out where the rest of the job hunting books were. Took out one on job hunting for people with disabilities, another on changing careers for people over 40, and another on women thinking bigger and gaining confidence.

At least the weather's considerably improved. There were still a few clouds lingering when I awoke; by 3:30, the sun was out, the sky was icy blue, and those few clouds were down to fleecy bits scuttling across the sky. I dodged traffic on Cuthbert and took the long way across Collingswood to PNC Bank. I mainly wanted to take out money for the rent, but I also made an appointment to see the guy who was supposed to be helping me with John Hancock on Thursday.

By that point, it was past 4:30, way too late for a big lunch. I stopped at WaWa for a pretzel and Matcha Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie instead. I wasn't really all that hungry anyway, or in the mood for a big sit-down lunch.

Went straight home after that. Had an orange while watching Charlie & Lola. Lola wails "I Can't Stop Hiccuping!" when she starts up hours before she's to sing in a spring concert for school with Lotta. Charlie, Lotta, and her friends think of everything possible for her to get rid of them.

Worked on writing for a while after that. Allen's not sure he trusts Richard, whom he knows has larger ambitions than just being a co-host. Richard wants to be a host on his own, but Allen thinks he needs more experience first.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Watched Match Game '74 while eating. Allen Ludden made his first appearance on the show, mainly to promote the then-new Password All-Stars. Richard and Gene admire Fannie Flag's Match Game '74 shirt...and Fannie gets Brett back when she makes a crack about Richard being the only one on the lower desks who doesn't have dark roots.

Things get even wilder on the syndicated episodes. In the first episode, Gene puts Bill Daily to sleep yammering about California...and everyone else but the contestants walks out, including the crew and camerapeople! (Which gives us an extremely rare view of behind the turntables and cameras.) Patty Duke kicks off the second saying "hi" in sign language. (Which she remained fluent in for the rest of her life after doing The Miracle Worker twice.) Bill's more interested in stripping off his beige plaid jacket for Charles to try on. 

Finished off the night with Condorman on Amazon Prime. Woody Wilkins (Michael Crawford) is the creator of the popular Condorman comic books. He won't write anything that isn't "realistic"...which is why he's visiting Paris and testing out his own version of his character's wings. His friend Harry (James Hampton), a desk clerk at the CIA, knows how much he wants something new for his comics and suggests he make a simple paper exchange with a CIA field agent. Despite Harry's claims that the CIA isn't glamorous, Woody encounters a KGB agent named Natalia Rambova (Barbara Carrera) when she tries to get the papers. He's so smitten with her, he writes her into his comics as "Laser Lady."

When she defects, he's the only one she'll meet with. Woody insists on the CIA creating the actual gadgets from his comics, including a cool car and boat and disguises for all of them. Natalia's ex-boyfriend, her boss Krokov (Oliver Reed), manages to grab her back anyway. Now Woody and Harry have to use all the gadgets and all of what little cunning they have, before either the KGB or the CIA or both reminds them that this is no Marvel movie!

This ran frequently on The Disney Channel and elsewhere on cable in the early-mid 1980's. My sisters and I loved it. Despite the superhero pedigree, it's really more of a James Bond/spy spoof, with Crawford trying for suave and coming off as adorably silly. Carrera makes an excellent Russian temptress, and Hampton has a good time reminding another would-be superhero about the responsibilities of his role. 

Too bad Disney's first try at the superhero genre wasn't a hit in 1981, and they don't really have much love for it today. The copy at Amazon Prime is badly grainy and washed out. The special effects haven't dated well at all - you can see all the wires when Condorman flies. Despite it being a comedy, it's still a little too violent and mildly dark to be on Disney Plus. I still recommend digging around for it if you love Crawford, have fond memories of catching it on cable or video like we do, or are looking for a superhero comedy for older elementary school kids who won't mind the obvious effects. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Eagles Outrun the 49ers

Started off the morning with breakfast and my original cast CD of It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! Debuting in 1966 during the height of the Batman pop art superhero craze, this proved to be a little too campy for Broadway and fizzled within four months. It didn't do any better updated for TV in 1975, where it was dumped on late-night and barely seen. Too bad. There's a couple of good songs in this story of Superman doing battle with a mad scientist and a jealous gossip columnist. "You've Got Possibilities," performed by the columnist's (Jack Cassidy) secretary (Linda Lavin) when she tries to seduce Clark Kent, is the big standard here. I also like "You're the Woman for the Man," the columnist's unsuccessful attempt to flirt with Lois Lane (Patricia Marand), and "We Don't Matter at All," where Lois explains to an amorous colleague (Don Chastain) why people - and relationships - do matter. 

Headed off to work shortly after breakfast. I rolled into total chaos. Between the beginning of the month and the Eagles playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship game at 3, there were lines down the aisles and not nearly enough people to deal with them. Thankfully, the beginning of the game and the arrival of rain slowed the flood of customers to a trickle around 4 PM. They pulled me before my break to help with carts. I ended up spending the rest of my shift pushing carts and sweeping when the night bagger called out. It rained a little while I gathered carts, but nothing too heavy, and it was done by the time I finished.

Went straight home and online to see the game. One of my co-workers mentioned the Eagles were up 21-7. By the time I got in, the game had just ended. The Eagles scored 10 more points and apparently ran rings around the Niners. They won 31 to 7 and will be going to the Super Bowl in two weeks for the first time since 2018.

Had dinner, then did some writing. Allen explains to Richard that he'll be doing reporting for the morning show as well as hosting. Nothing too heavy for the morning, of course. Richard wouldn't mind moving on to a more important desk job, but for now, he understands that he's only to give lifestyle reports and discuss that.

Took a shower after I finished and spent the rest of the night watching Game Show Network shows. Game Show Network debuted in 1994 as the home for re-runs of older game shows. The re-runs were usually accompanied by live variety shows often featuring commentators or surviving hosts. These went over so well, they began filming their own original game shows around 1997. 

The earliest Game Show Network program I could find on YouTube is Inquiztion from 1998. The sarcastic, gray-haired host, seen only from the back, drills four contestants in colorful smocks with a (fake) hangar behind them in difficult multiple-choice questions. The contestant with the least points in end of each round bowed and dropped out. The winner was told they won $500 and their freedom. 

Dang, this was a weird one. The quiz aspect was almost annoyingly boring. What works here is the air of mystery and formality. The Inquizitor calls everyone "Mr." or "Ms," and you never do learn their name. In fact, to this day, no one knows who the host was. 

Russian Roulette from 2002 was equally creative and a lot easier to take. Contestants stand on four circles within a circle, called "drop zones." They each get $150 to start. Host Mark L. Walberg reads a question, and the contestant has to challenge another contestant to answer it. If they miss it or run out of time, they pull the Roulette lever. If the lights stop on their circle, they drop through and are eliminated from the game. The second round ups the money amount, and in the third, the challenger can now answer it themselves or toss it to the other contestant. The bonus round has the survivor answering multiple-choice questions for $10,000; if they avoid being dropped one more time, they can win $100,000.

This one was surprisingly fun, with its intense game play and challenging questions. It's too bad like many early Game Show Network programs, it didn't last a year. 

They did somewhat better with revivals of earlier shows. Their biggest hit revival was Lingo, which started in 2002 with Chuck Woolery and went over so well, it ran until 2007. Lingo originally turned up in syndication in 1987, but barely ran a year. Here, contestants play what amounts to a cross between Bingo and Chain Reaction. They're given a card on the screen with letters filled in and have to spell out the words. After they correctly guess the word, they draw balls from the machine in front of them. The balls have numbers that correspond to numbers on teach team's board. Red balls stop the game entirely.

I can see why this was so popular, it's still well-remembered by many who grew up watching it. In fact, it had a brief revival on GSN in 2011, and a third revival with RuPaul on CBS just started last week. It's a breath of simple, colorful fun during an era where most game shows tended to be tension-filled neon quizzers.

Chain Reaction has an odd history. It started on NBC in 1980 with Bill Cullen hosting and celebrities making chains of words with contestants. That didn't even last a year, thanks to then-head of programming Fred Silverman clearing it and two other shows to make way for David Letterman's daytime show. A Canadian revival with Geoff Edwards hosting and no celebrities did far better on USA Network, running from 1986 to 1991. GSN is so fond of the format, they had two short-lived revivals in 2006 with Dylan Lane and 2015 with Mike Catherwood. I found an episode of the current revival, which started in 2021 with Lane again and seems to be doing a bit better.

GSN also acquired programming from elsewhere. They continued Hollywood Showdown in 2000 after it was dropped by PAX TV. Seven contestants spent a week answering media trivia questions. One winner would continue on, while the others held cards with a dollar amount or "Box Office" in them. The "Box Office" card allowed the current champ to choose one category from two to answer questions from. If they guessed all five questions, they would win the current pot. Missing one question added their winnings to the pot. Despite its short run, it was one of the network's earlier successes and was constantly re-run throughout the 2000's. 

Camouflage from 2007 has more in common with the 70's flop Now You See It. Contestants figure out words from jumbles of letters as host Roger Lodge reads a clue. The "Final Camouflage" has the remaining contestant solving as many puzzles as they can in a certain amount of time; they may or may not get some help depending on their performance in a speed round. While not the most exciting show, this is at least a lot less complicated than Now You See It, and a bit more challenging. 

Bingo America is what it says on the tin. Basically, it's "bingo, with trivia." Host Richard Karn calls the numbers and reads off trivia questions. The first person to fill their board and spell BINGO on their card wins. The winner moves on to the bonus round, where they select numbers in a row and hope that they win prizes and don't run into a "wrecking ball." Not bad, but once again, it didn't last a year in 2008-2009.

In fact, GSN became notorious in the 2000's for focusing on endless versions of blackjack and poker and less on their own game show programming. They would have been far smarter to put their money on wacky originals like Cram. Here, a man and woman pair stay up all night studying for the show. They start off by reciting a paragraph for 40 seconds while running in a hamster wheel. The second round is more like Make the Grade, with them doing non-messy stunts while answering trivia questions. For the third round, one partner would do a running or fitness test, while the other answered questions. Winners went on to take a nap while a Miss Pickwick read them information. If the could answer questions based on the info while doing some activity, they win $10,000. 

Goofy and cute, this feels more like a college version of Nickelodeon's BrainDrain than a GSN original. Once again, the sets are colorful and creative, and host Graham Elwood is having a great time with it.

Test your knowledge, outrun your opponent, and challenge your friends with these shows from the early years of GSN! 

(Oh, and the Eagles are going to play the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. They barely beat the Bengals in the last minute of the fourth quarter 23-20.)

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Memories In the Dark

Started the morning with breakfast and the Doc McStuffins episode I wasn't able to get to on Thursday. Emmie, Doc's best friend, is delighted to be sleeping over Doc's house. Her new squirting elephant Hazel isn't as thrilled. Turns out she's worried about her trunk leaking. Doc reassures her that leaking happens, and she needs to clear out the water so "Hazel Has a Sleepover" that stays dry all night. Donnie's brontosaurus toy Bronty is also scared to tell Doc his problem when he gets syrup on his legs during "My Breakfast With Bronty" and is worried Doc will be angry. Doc's more worried that he didn't tell her what was wrong right away.

Spent the rest of the morning writing. Allen Ludden admits he's heard that Richard has a temper and is prone to egotism...but so is their morning show host Gene Rayburn. Richard assures him he can keep up with Gene...just as Allen's wife, cooking show hostess Betty White, pokes her head in to see if he wants to go out to lunch.

Had a really quick lunch before heading out. Got to work in plenty of time for once. That turned out to be a very good thing. We were busy as heck for most of the afternoon and evening. We're almost at the beginning of the month, and the Eagles play their big championship game against the 49ers tomorrow at 3 PM. We frequently had lines down the aisles because there wasn't nearly enough help to deal with them. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 7 for me to shut down without a relief. I even treated myself to a container of Acme generic ice cream on sale in Mint Moose Tracks (aka, mint with chocolate cups and fudge ribbons).

After I got home, I went straight into dinner while watching Charlie & Lola. "Can You Maybe Turn the Light On?" Lola asks after Charlie reads her a book about a scary ogre before bed. Trouble is, Charlie needs darkness to sleep. He finally finishes the ogre book to show Lola the dark isn't so very scary after all.

(Wish that worked with my sisters. I know exactly where Charlie's coming from. I still can't sleep in anything less than total darkness...and Rose always needed a nightlight. It drove me crazy when we shared a room.)

Finished the night with Breaking the Ice on Tubi. I go further into this odd vehicle for boy soprano Bobby Breen at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.