Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Just Plain Tired

Started off the morning with a quick breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Katerina, Dan, and Miss Elaina are preparing for Dress-Up Day, the Neighborhood equivalent of Halloween. Daniel is delighted to find a costume for his favorite character, Tigey the Adventure Tiger, while Elaina makes her robot costume. Katerina can't decide what she wants to be...until she comes up with a very creative solution for "Katerina's Costume!" O the Owl is especially excited to show off his traffic light costume on "Dress Up Day," but when he rips his paper lights, he has to decide what else he wants to be.

Hurried off to work after that. Thankfully, no problems with the Uber drivers. The one who picked me up in the morning arrived in less than 7 minutes; the afternoon driver got to the Acme in 6. 

Wish work went as well. It wasn't so bad in the morning. They got one of the stock boys to do the inside sweeping and checking the bathrooms, leaving me to gather the carts and replace the trash and recycling. It helped that it was dead all morning, too. The day was sunny and warm, probably in the upper 60's-lower 70's, much too nice for shopping. 

The trouble started after the young man ended up in a register around 1. Not only did it start picking up at this point (though it never did become overwhelming), but I was now the only bagger. The evening bagger called out. Every time I tried to sweep or go outside to round up carts, someone would call me to take boxes to the baler or clean up a spill or put a cold item away, always at the same time. I tried to do the best I could, but I was so tired and frustrated, I was going crazy. 

There were a few sales on this week I couldn't turn down. Sugar was 99 cents with an online coupon, and I badly needed it; the new Silver Blossom raw honey was free with another. The Acme's generic brown eggs were on sale with a third. 

I was so worn out, when I got home, I changed and lay down with Match Game '75. Fannie Flagg continues her flirtation with that high school gym teacher, even dancing with him at one point. Meanwhile, Ethel Merman tries to get Brett to stop imitating her. 

Started watching Match Game '77...but I closed my eyes and didn't open them until the second episode was almost over. Made fried eggs with a green salad while watching Match Game PM instead. Foster Brooks and Lorna Patterson, along with sarcastic semi-regular Marcia Wallace, got to meet proud Brooklyn resident LeRoy. It's Marcia who has to help win 20,000 with "Twilight __."

Made "The Vermont" Maple Cookies with that syrup I bought in Vermont while watching Sale of the Century. There was a close game today, with the ladies neck and neck for most of the time and the man coming up in the end. The champ bought a lovely cedar wardrobe and still blew everyone away at the Speed Round. This was a 1988 episode, which means she didn't do quite as well at the guess-the-word puzzle bonus round.

Finished the night online with Too Close for Comfort. The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour premiers on YouTube have showed the week featuring the cast this week. This mid-80's sitcom had Ted Knight as a cartoonist whose two grown daughters Sara and Jackie move into the apartment downstairs. Nancy Dussault is his sensible wife. "Sara's Monroe Doctrine" brings in annoying and needy neighbor Monroe Ficus (Jm J. Bullock), who follows her everywhere after he's dumped. The two even end up in jail when they try to be street singers. Henry and Muriel have to bail them out...but Monroe ends up doing something sweet for them when he causes trouble on their anniversary

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Ride Captain Ride

We got an early start on the road today around quarter of 8. Lauren's parents had an appointment at the dermatologist's 15 minutes from the Albany train station. Listened to the Perfect Strangers Dance of Joy podcast discuss the third season episode "My Brother, Myself" while we waited for them. 

At least it was a lovely day for a drive. The clouds finally cleared out last night. Everything was sunny and clear, without a hint of mist. It was chilly and windy, but probably not abnormally so for the time of year. 

The Millers dropped me off at the station. Mr. and Mrs. Miller are still wary of going in public places, even with masks, so I hugged them in the parking lot and took my leave there. The Millers are very sweet people, and I always have a great time when I visit. Treated myself to a tasty butter crumb cake at the cafe, hit the bathroom, and read Guilty as Cinnamon until they announced my train.

This may be the easiest train trip I've ever had. The train to Albany left on time and arrived 20 minutes early. The New York to Philly train was actually going to Richmond and arrived about five minutes late, but nothing worse than that. The weather remained gorgeous, sparkling on the blue river waters along the Ethan Allen Express. For the first time in years, I got seats on both trains to myself. The stations weren't busy, either. I even got to experience a bit of a bustling New York when I crossed 8th Street passing between Penn Station and Moynihan. Bought a roast beef hoagie for dinner at Jersey Mike's, then got an Uber home within seven minutes. Hit a little bit of traffic, but was still home in about a half-hour.

There was a package waiting for me on my counter that definitely wasn't there when I left. I put everything away while watching Match Game '75, then opened the box. It was Sees Candies, chocolates in a pretty fall-themed tin. 

Had dinner while watching Match Game. The '75 episode was one of the best of that year. Fannie Flagg flirts with a handsome high school teacher, culminating in her fainting after he kisses her during the Audience Match. Things get even more wild after he picks her as his match for the Head-to-Head!

Called Mom as Match Game '77 began. Yes, she sent me the candies. She's having a rough time at the Ferry, too. They're not doing any better with hiring help than anyone else, and she's tired of having hours piled on her. She's leaving after the end of the season on October 30th and will take the winter off to figure out her next move. She has money from the sale of the house and Social Security. She just wants a small side job to compliment her income, and she's still looking to move in with Keefe and his wife once the pandemic and the housing market calm down.

I wish I knew what to do next like that. I've already decided I'm giving myself until Three King's Day, or January 6th. If things don't improve at the Acme, I am leaving and finding a better job. Unlike Mom, Jodie, and Rose, I do need to make an income...if only to have something to do. 

I'm sick and tired of everyone throwing the insurance and retirement fund in my face. I don't care anymore. I'm way beyond caring. I'm exhausted. I wasn't even able to relax when I broke my arm last year. I moved during those two and a half months off. And now I need to find another place to live, which doesn't seem to be working out. Other businesses offer insurance and retirement funds, have more positive employees who actually want to be there, and don't switch out bosses every few months. Beyond that and getting a credit card, I really don't know what my next move will be. I have to call the realtors again when I have time and find out what they say. 

They're also after me about the bike again. I can't always rely on the bus. That's not realistic. It doesn't go everywhere, and sometimes, you need your own transportation. 

Organized the new DVDs and CDs while Match Game PM was on. This 1979 episode started slow, but really picked up when Brett and Charles exchange quips and Gene reveals they had to do the tiebreaker three times before someone wins. Sweet Susan Richardson ends up having to help the winner with "Hot as ___" in the Head-to-Head.

Finished the night online with Everybody's Talking About Jamie. I go further into this joyful British musical about a teen who wants to be a drag queen at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Any Way You Want It

Began the day on the open road. Heavy dark clouds lingered among the rays of sunlight, and it was cold and windy, barely in the 50's. Even the horses wore blankets as we passed them grazing. Lauren took us over the border and into upstate New York, past lovely little hamlets and quaint farming communities with whitewashed churches and stately little libraries. We turned onto the highway, heading past downtown Albany and over to the off ramp for the Wolf  Road shopping area.

Crossgates Mall is one of the largest malls in New York State, and I believe the largest mall in Albany. Since we parked there, we started off at JC Penney. Alas, we didn't do nearly as well there as we did at Holyoke and walked out with nothing. 

Didn't find anything at Amazon 4-Star, either, but it's a neat store. This is Amazon's first shot at a brick-and-mortar storefront. Basically, they sell anything with really good reviews. I looked at the books, toys, and some of the electronics, but didn't see anything I really needed.

We were in and out of a few stores next. Lauren pointed out a yellow blouse with a pretty blue flower print at Macy's that was a plus-size shirt on the regular size racks. I loved the print, and not only was it the perfect size for me, but it was on a deep discount, too. Didn't find anything at the huge GameStop or the vintage game store shop Jay Street Video Games.

Uno Pizza and Grill just happened to be across the way from Game Stop, so we had lunch there. We thought the individual pan pizza and soup lunch special was perfect for us. I had a salty-but-tasty French onion soup; she went with broccoli and cheddar. Her thin crust Taco Pizza was a lot bigger than my deep-dish Farm Market vegetable pie. I finished all but one slice of mine; she didn't close to finish hers and ended up taking half of it home for a snack.

Returned to shopping to walk off that filling lunch. No luck at Burlington Coat Factory. This one was much smaller and narrower than the massive store at Holyoke. Even Lauren couldn't find anything. We did better at the huge Build-a-Bear Workshop. I bought a "love" t-shirt and long jeans for my tomboyish Cabbage Patch doll Carrie, and Lauren bought an outfit for her Cabbie Larry. 

Lauren didn't dig anything up at FYE, but I came up with a winner at the last minute. It took me forever to find the musicals in that large, overstuffed store. When I did run into them on the back of a shelf, they had the Criterion Collection Lubitsch Musicals Eclipse set I've wanted for years, but could never afford until recently. It has The Love Parade, Monte Carlo, The Smiling Lieutenant, and One Hour With You. Lieutenant and Love Parade have showed up on TCM, but I've never seen the other two anywhere. Also grabbed Supergirl: The Second Season and finally found Wonder Woman 1984 for a decent price. (I refuse to get HBO Max just for the DC media, and the CW only has the more recent seasons of Supergirl on their website.)

Hit up Dave & Buster's for an hour next. This is a huge arcade and bar that's pretty identical to Round 1, without the bowling and with tapping or inserting your card instead of swiping it. Fewer cranes, too, with less elaborate prizes. They also have more games that give you a ton more tickets. I did best with the spinning wheels that handed out tickets, including one pirate-themed wheel you spun yourself. Tried basketball and throwing balls into milk jug, but I have terrible aim. Had a lot more fun with skee ball and massive neon-lit versions of Centipede, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man, a faster-paced Galaga, and arcade versions of Crusin' and Mario Kart

Having amassed far more points than at Round 1 (Lauren had over 1,800!), we went to look at the prizes...and still couldn't decide what we wanted. We did better on the cranes. Lauren won a two-foot stuffed giraffe she named Jeffrey off one crane. We both got rubber ducks. She won a purple one. I got a peach duck and a duck wearing monkey ears. (I'll give the latter to Finley.)

Shortly after we left, I pointed out a small toy store a few doors down from Dave & Buster's. Heroes Hideout specialized in toys and games based after whatever's big in pop culture. One whole wall is covered in Funko Pops toys. Lauren bought four of those and a small Care Bears "mystery" figure in a box. I picked up a stuffed Cheer Bear in adorable anime-esque version based on the version of the show that just debuted a few weeks ago. Headed to Old Navy after that, but we didn't find anything there.

Running around that arcade throwing bean bags and skee balls really worked up a thirst. We made our way back down the hall to a small Orange Julius booth. The Orange Julius at the Cherry Hill Mall was replaced by Haagen Daas, and Lauren has none in her area. She bought a Tripleberry Smoothie; I got a Pina Colada Julius. Settled down on soft leather couches across from the booth with Jeffrey and enjoyed our treats.

At that point, we figured it was time for dinner, even though we weren't really that hungry. I bought a turkey, stuffing, and cranberry may pannini from a deli store, but could barely eat half of it. Lauren couldn't eat her second taco from Taco Bell, either. Plus, she'd been hauling a two-foot stuffed giraffe for over an hour. We packed up the rest of our meals and made our way back to JC Penney.

Once we finally remembered where the door we came in was, we had no problems. There was no traffic on the road going or coming. The mall wasn't busy, either, not even Dave & Buster's. The parking lot was very wet when we came out. It must have rained hard earlier in the afternoon, though the sun was trying to come out even as we climbed into the car. It showered a little bit when we were on the road, but nothing crazy.

We showed our finds to Mr. and Mrs. Miller when we got in and tried to find a place for big Jeffrey. (He ended up on a TV tray table.) While they got organized, I took a much-needed shower and did whatever packing I could. Along with my DVD finds, the Millers gave me Maude: The Compete Series, and I had to find room for that and the Lubitsch set. 

Finished the night downstairs with Lauren online after a shower. I was so pooped, I was barely up to more Match Game. Brett proved so popular during her first two appearances, by episode 26, she was officially a regular. Fannie Flagg, one of the most popular semi-regulars, made her debut a few months later. She became the first woman Gene welcomed with a kiss, albeit on the neck. 

Brett also figured heavily into two of my favorite episodes from 1974. Everyone went looking for her earring at the end of the show in one from early in the year. Later, she and giggling Kaye Stevens get to beat up on Gene when he accidentally yanks soap star Trish Stewart off her seat! (Thankfully, she was a good sport about it and laughed it off.) Meanwhile, Charles admires an especially pretty contestant in a very skimpy top in another episode. 

Here's still more of the early years of Match Game, to start off your week with a bang and a few naughty answers!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Rainbow Connection

It was gloomy, cold, and gale-force windy when we headed out this morning, Lauren in a winter jacket, me in that blue hoody I bought at Eddie Bauer. The damp weather made me appreciate we planned on staying in the area today. This was no weather for long drives.

Our first stop was in Lanesborough, down the road from the abandoned Berkshire Mall. Berkshire Mantiques is an antique shop and coffee bar situated in an old farm building. Despite the name, it's filled with all kinds of antique items, from ancient gas station signs to records to furniture. There's even an area for coffee and baked goods set up along a bar in the back. Lauren greeted the owners like old friends. Apparently, they're customers at the bank where she works. I didn't see anything I could carry home, but she found the cutest teddy bear-shaped bank. He has a slight chip in his base; otherwise, he's adorable.

It started raining as we headed down the highway to North Adams. The weather slowed down just as Lauren pulled into the parking lot behind Norad Mill. This 1898 factory complex has since been made over to houses offices and shops. 

Our first stop was Belltower Records. This tiny hipster enclave nestled in a whitewashed sewing room mainly sold new records and old CDs. It reminded me a lot of Sun Valley Records in Somerdale, without the DVDs and incense. We peeked around, but they were kind of busy, and neither of us walked out with anything.

We had far more luck across the hall at the Norad Candy and Toy Company. Stuffed animals and bins and shelves filled with penny candy lined the walls of the polished oak wood room. We have plenty of candy, but we found Halloween stuffed animals we liked. Lauren chose a cute black cat with an orange bow. I went with a sweet bat with orange-lined wings. He'll go great with the three stuffed bats I pull out for Halloween every year. 

Lauren originally planned for us to eat at The Norad Cafe, but they're closed on Sunday. She took us into downtown North Adams, eventually ending up at 413 Bistro and Taproom in the Holiday Inn. They were a small room consisting of a black wood bar and whitewashed brick. We each had sliders. The waitress said they were out of the beef brisket I wanted; I went with chicken and waffles. Lauren had siracha chicken. 

And so, we waited to eat. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. It took almost 40 minutes for our food to arrive. We waited so long, another group sitting in the room across from us got angry and left. Admittedly, our food was very tasty when it did come. The chicken was crunchy and the herbed cream cheese was delicious, but the waffles were too small to work as sandwich bread. I used a knife and ate the chicken and waffles separately. 

(Research reveals they're a brand-new business that just opened in July. They may have gotten hit hard with the current hiring shortage, and I can't imagine it's easy to find people willing to work on Sunday's at normal times.)

The Berkshire Emporium is across the street. This is another huge antique center, more of a jumble like the Barrington Antique Center. They had so much stuff packed into that building, shelves of books for sale lined the side wall of the bakery next-door. I couldn't take home anything that interested me, but Lauren found a cute mini-Nintendo that held over 600 vintage games. (Apparently, they're among the most popular items in the store. The owner told Lauren she sells one or more a week and can't keep them in stock.)

Our next stop was the gigantic WalMart in Lanesborough. We dodged lighter showers heading into the massive building, nestled between two mountains. Lauren found Father Knows Best: The Complete Series and a few things for her parents. Once again, I saw nothing I could carry home that interested me. 

Lauren's wanted to check out the Berkshire Scenic Railway in Adams for years. This volunteer-only local museum has short trips down tracks originally used by passenger trains and freight going from Boston and Albany to North Adams when it was an industrial hub. Truthfully, the scenery mostly consists of trees and houses, but there is the occasional lovely view of babbling brooks and rushing rivers. The trees are starting to turn glorious colors up here, too, golds and bricks and lime greens. (Oddly, despite talking quite a bit about the historic Hoosic Tunnel, we didn't go through it.)

It started pouring as we arrived at the station. The two of us dashed for the car as fast as our legs could carry us. We decided the weather wasn't appropriate for further travels. She ordered take-out dinner from her parents' favorite local restaurant the Highland instead. 

No sooner did she finish calling in the order, than we looked up over the train...and saw a beautiful rainbow stretching over the trains and the majestic Greylock Mountain. Even as we took photos, a second, fainter rainbow appeared, to our surprise and delight. 

We stopped briefly at a parking lot in downtown Pittsfield for Lauren to pick up dinner, then headed home. After we showed Mr. and Mrs. Miller our finds, we dug into dinner. I had a huge hot turkey sandwich dripping with (probably bottled) gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Lauren had a Chicken Parmesan sandwich and a small salad. Yum! The potatoes were probably a mix, too, but there's nothing like comfort food. 

After we ate, we moved into Lauren's room downstairs to try out that tiny Nintendo. Half of the 620 games were Japanese titles we never heard of, and many of the others were for one player only, but we did find a few we could do together. I got further on Super Mario Brothers, mainly because I remembered to use the secret pipes in World 1-2. Lauren killed me at Ice Hockey 7 - 2; I had trouble aiming. She also did better at Elevator Action, in which a secret agent rides a series of elevators down a building, shooting at bad guys and occasionally stepping into red doors. I couldn't get out of the first round; Lauren made it to round 3. Her Raphael just barely beat my Leonardo at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters

We did best at Galaxia. Each of us made it to the third round. She had the better score, but I had the higher aim-accuracy percentage. I've been playing that game all my life; it was common in the Cape May arcades during my childhood, and I believe they had it in Wildwood in the early 2000's, too. 

Finished the night online with vintage word game shows at YouTube. Rhyme and Reason was yet another attempt to clone Match Game in 1975. In the pilot episode, Bob Eubanks hosts a panel (including poet laureate of television Nipsey Russell) who have to match the word the contestant game to finish a rhyme. It's cute, but a bit complicated and slow-paced. I can understand why it didn't last a year, and this is the only episode known to exist today.

The Cross-Wits was more fun. It's basically a cross between Password Plus and crossword puzzles. Here, the celebrities help contestants figure out a crossword puzzle with a theme. The winners move on to the bonus round, where a celebrity helps the figure out a larger puzzle for increasing cash amounts. Nipsey Russell's in this 1979 episode as well, joined by Elaine Joyce, soap star Rosemary Forsyth, and character actor James Hampton. Gentlemanly Jack Clark presides over this one.

Wheel of Fortune originally debuted on NBC in 1975. It garnered good but not spectacular ratings on the network through the early 80's, until Chuck Woolery was replaced by Pat Sajak in 1983, Vanna White started turning letters, and the show launched a syndicated version later that year. Suddenly, ratings were through the roof, and they climbed even further when the show was packaged with a new version of Jeopardy! in the late 80's. The episode I chose from 1988 is pretty emblematic of the ones my family used to watch together after dinner. 

The success of Password in the early 60's spawned even more word association parlor games. Oh My Word was a short-lived San Francisco show that had celebrities making up descriptions of unusual words. Musicians Buddy Greco and Sal Mineo join Jim Lange (in his first major hosting assignment) here. Wordplay is a later version from 1987, only here, it's three celebrities making up the goofy descriptions. Roseanne Barr joins Ned Beatty and Stephan Furst over a year before her sitcom started to chew gum and revel in wordy wisecracks. Tom Kennedy keeps things moving. 

Lingo originally played syndication in 1987, but that version didn't even last a year. Game Show Network revived it in 2003; this time, it ran five years. Chuck Woolery watches over two teams of men and women attempt to guess a mystery word appearing bit by bit on a screen. The team who finally guesses gets to choose numbers for a bingo card. If they can fill a line, they'll be able to move on to the bonus round, where they guess as many Lingo words as possible. 

This seems to be especially popular with people who grew up watching it in the early-mid 2000's, and I can see why. Though the ladies didn't play too well, it's still fast-paced fun in an era where most shows were trying desperately to rack up suspense and mystery. 

Stump your friends and challenge your mind with these wild word games! (Oh, and Rhyme and Reason comes in three parts, but it's also the only copy of that show known to exist.)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Better Shop Around

This time, we started out a sunny, humid day on the road. We went back through Lenox and Lee, but turned on the Mass Pike. It was a lovely day for a ride. Nice and quiet, with no traffic anywhere. We listened to the Perfect Strangers podcasts Lauren downloaded that discussed the season 3 episode "Pipe Dreams" as we rolled down the highway.

Lauren said she took the wrong turn-off to the Holyoke Mall...but that took us into the parking lot of a smaller big-box shopping center just outside the main buildings. There was a lot more to that building than I saw two years ago when we passed by. In fact, we started in a beautiful, very modern TJ Maxx. Lauren didn't get anything, but I finally found socks with more than 50 percent cotton in them. I am not wearing polyester on my feet, no matter how soft it is. It doesn't breathe, not a good idea in my job. 

Next up was the Barnes & Noble across the parking lot. That place was HUGE! It's the third two-story Barnes & Noble I've seen, and the first outside of a major metropolitan area. Lauren went to explore the CD and DVD area in the back, and I went up the escalators to look at the children's area and mysteries. Picked up a Golden Book for Finley's Christmas gift and noticed two of interest to me, a biography of Betty White and an American Girl book on how each girl celebrates their birthdays. Didn't see more of the Spice Shop mysteries I bought yesterday, but I did pick up an earlier book in Kate Carlisle's Bibliophile series One Book In the Grave and a new series by Vicky Delancy set at a Catskills Resort in 1953. 

We thought the Red Robin next to Ulta Beauty would be a more-than-adequate substitute for the now-closed mall Ruby Tuesday's. She had a Caesar Wrap and garlic fries. I had a Tuscan Salmon Burger and steak fries. The "burger" was really a slab of salmon with the usual burger fixings...and it was amazing. Thick, hearty, perfectly grilled and seasoned, and very filling.

Lauren finally found the right turn-off to the Holyoke Mall after lunch. After much deliberation, we parked next to the entrances to Macy's and Spirit of Halloween. Since we were already there, we hit Macy's first. Despite some decent sales, neither of us found anything.

Made our way into the busy mall next. Holyoke Mall is the second-biggest mall in New England after the Natick Mall in eastern Massachusetts. I like that it retains the graceful and flowing 70's chrome-and-wood paneling design without feeling dated. It's far prettier and nicer to walk around in than either of the major malls in my area. 

Our first stop was Round 1 Entertainment, the arcade/bowling alley we checked out in Deptford last month. I paid for slightly more points than last time...and I still blew through them in a half-hour. Tried a "Waterfuls" game based after the old games that you had to try to push the rings into a plastic net or container. Here, you had to get them piled up on the edge for points and tickets. Tried a "Connect Two" basketball game, too. And of course, I played lots of skee ball. Lauren found a set of pinball machines and refilled her card to play them, which is why she was a little late rejoining me at the entrance. 

(And once again, neither of us got anything. Round 1 really requires more than a half-hour to an hour of playing a couple of video games to get anything out of it. It's made for parties and day trips.)

Were in and out of a few stores next. Holyoke has a much larger FYE that still has a big selection of DVDs and CDs. She bought two TV sets. I picked up Supergirl: The First Season, The Chipmunk Adventure, and the soundtracks for Frozen II and The Greatest Showman. Lauren spied Stateline Video Games rather appropriately near Round 1. It sells vintage games, ranging from original Nintendo and Sega Genesis to the current Nintendo Switch. Fun to look at and remember, but we didn't get anything there or at Game Stop. 

Since it's near FYE, our next stop was JC Penney. Lauren didn't find anything, but I grabbed a gold three-quarter-sleeves t-shirt and a Liz Claiborne flannel nightshirt in a pretty pink and red paisley print. That nightshirt looks so soft! I might have to see if I can find one of the plaids in my size when we go to the Albany malls on Monday.

Next up was Target. Once again, Lauren bought something for her parents, but I didn't get anything but lost. That store is ENORMOUS, with at least three exits. It took me forever to figure out which way I was going. 

After all that, we figured it was time for dinner. Holyoke's food court is in its lower basement level. They had two Asian food booths, a McDonald's, and a Charley's Steaks, but we just ended up getting slices of pizza from Sbarro's. She had a pepperoni and a mushroom. I had the bigger sandwich for lunch and settled for spinach and tomato. Glad I did. I generally haven't heard good things about Sbarro's, but my slice was delicious...and the size of two regular slices at home. 

Debated Burlington Coat Factory, but decided we had enough by that point and went back to the Macy's wing. Spirit of Halloween temporarily took over the first floor of a long-departed Sears. (You could clearly see "Lands' End Kids" on the walls over the masks and accessories.) Most of the costumes and decorations were too big for us to haul home, but it did give me some ideas for my fairy costume.

There were barely any clouds out when we hit the road around 6 PM, but Lauren's parents reported torrential rain and winds in Pittsfield. We didn't hit that until about an hour in. The rain did come down hard for a while; though it slowed down by the time Lauren turned off the highway into Lee, it didn't stop completely until well after we'd arrived home.

Showed Mr. and Mrs. Miller everything we bought, then settled down in Lauren's room for another round of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This time, we went with the tougher Lightning Rounds, including the infamous Rainbow Road. Some intelligent person actually added sides to that one, finally making it a race and not an attempt to see who can fall off the most. I had a harder time than Lauren with some of them. She came in first; I came in third.

Ended the night on YouTube with travel-themed Lawrence Welk Show episodes. Most of these were older shows; the most recent is from 1970. The 1965 "Summer Travel Show" is even in black and white, one of the last episodes to be filmed that way. The 1966 and 1970 shows feature variations on "Gotta Travel On," while Norma Zimmer and/or Jimmy Roberts sing "Harbor Lights." Jo Ann Castle gets in on three fun numbers in 1965. In '65, she and Jack Imel are wanna-be vaudevillians who serenade their well-wishers with "Powder Your Face With Sunshine." In 1966, The Blenders are pilots who ask "Come Josephine to My Flying Machine." Later in the episode, Jo Ann brings her piano and two Lennon Sisters along to convince big-shot Hollywood director Jack Imel that "All I Need Is a Break." 

Hope you have just as much fun traveling with Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra as I did!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Looking for the Good Times

Awoke to such heavy fog, I could barely see Lauren's front yard when I ate my cereal. It was still a little foggy when Lauren and I headed off this morning, waving "hi" to the horses grazing in dewy grass at the horse farm down the street as we passed. Thankfully, by the time we passed through Lenox and Lee, the sun was out, and it was warm and humid.

Clouds were reemerging, even as Lauren pulled into the enormous parking lot behind the Lee Premium Outlets. She and her parents normally love this mall...but a lot of their favorite stores have closed or moved online in the past few years, including The Dress Barn, Van Heussen, G.H Bass & Co, and Harry & David's. Not to mention, we got there at quarter after 10, and a lot of stores now open at 11.

Thankfully, Chico's and Eddie Bauer were open. Neither of us found anything at Chico's. Lauren didn't pick up anything at Eddie Bauer, but I found a cobalt blue hoodie on the half-price rack. I wanted to find a hoodie like this when we were last here two years ago and couldn't. 

By the time we got out of Eddie Bauer, more stores had opened...and so had the weather. We dodged a light shower as we made our way down the road. Lauren picked up a cute Nordic print sweater in the Gap and work shirts at Calvin Klein. Banana Republic, Talbots, and Brooks Brothers were beyond our budgets, even at outlet prices (and none of them really carried plus sizes). We were in and out of Nautica and Aeropostale. 

Headed to the food court for lunch around 12:30, after we left Nautica. They have a fairly nice variety for a small food court, including Subway, a deli sandwich shop, and a Chinese food booth. We went Italian at the Pizza Bar. They had strombolis that were a lot smaller than the one I had a few days ago, far more appropriately sized for one person. I had spinach and cheese again; Lauren went with pepperoni and cheese.

Hit the sidewalk again after a bathroom break, but we didn't do quite as well this time. Found nothing at The LOFT; Tommy Hilfiguer and Polo Ralph Lauren were also way outside of our budgets. We finally returned to the car with our finds around 1:30 and went back down the hill to Lee. 

Our next stop as a heavier shower began was a few smaller local shopping centers. The Allendale Shopping Center is on the top and bottom of a hill. We both made finds at the Goodwill in the top mall. Lauren bought several shirts; I found two paperback books in the Spice Shop Mystery series, Guilty as Cinnamon and Killing Thyme, that were barely touched, and the CD Summer by George Winston. Lauren picked up the Nintendo Switch game Super Mario 3D All Stars at the GameStop on the bottom level, Allendale Underground. Neither of us picked up anything at the TJMaxx across the street or the Marshalls a bit further down.

Went to the Target at the former Berkshire Mall next. Lauren said she needed a few things for her father. I looked at doll outfits, but all I got was a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash, the only thing I didn't have in my suitcase when I left. 

Lauren drove us into Pittsfield for dinner at Hot Harry's Burritos. This is a slightly larger and more upscale hole-in-the-wall restaurant that, as you can probably guess, specializes in Mexican food. They're not far removed from a smaller version of Tortilla Press. Lauren grabbed beef tacos. I tried the Baja Fish Burrito, with fried fish, Spanish rice, cole slaw, and salsa vinaigrette. Wow, was it spicy! I suspect the salsa vinaigrette was the culprit. I really gulped my root beer! There were tasty house-made tortilla chips that buried the wraps in the bag, too. 

By this point, the rain was long gone. In fact, the sun was attempting to emerge, temporarily pushing the clouds away. We got to enjoy our meal outside on a tippy wrought-iron table. 

We got in around 6:30. Showed Mr. and Mrs. Miller our finds, then had candy and granola bars for dessert. Lauren apparently had a hard time setting up Super Mario for two players, so we went back to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This time, we stuck to playing the computer and each other. The only one I had major trouble with was Yoshi's Valley. I couldn't figure out the many twists and turns of that track in the Nintendo 64 version, either. 

Finished the night on Tubi with an old childhood favorite, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico. Unico is a baby unicorn with the power to make everyone around him happy. The Gods are so offended by this that they order the West Wind to take him to a terrible place. She first leaves him on a lonely island, where Unico befriends feisty Beezel, the mini-demon who wants a horn. After the West Wind sees Beezel turn his island into paradise, she whisks Unico away to a dark wood. Here, he meets abandoned kitten Katy, who so badly wants to be a witch, he turns her into a human so she can help an old lady. Katy doesn't appreciate the gesture at first...until a handsome man sees her singing in the woods and carries her off. It's up to Unico and Beezel to rescue their friend from the evil forest and this frightening being who is far from what he seems.

My sisters and I used to love this fairy tale anime film when it turned up frequently on cable in the mid-late 80's. Unico and Beezel may seem cutesy, but the general plot of the Gods sending Unico away and the second half with the creepy man and what he turns out to be takes a sharp left turn into incredibly dark fantasy. (A sequel that debuted in the US in the late 80's is even darker.) Recommended for elementary-school-ate anime and unicorn fans who can handle some of the scary or sad aspects of the story. 

Switched to The Roku Channel for the Silver Spoons Halloween episode. It's "A Dark and Stormy Night" as Ricky and his best friends Freddy and Alfonso watch horror films. When the power goes out, Ricky's dad Edward suggest they tell ghost stories instead. They eventually concoct a wild tale with the boys rescuing a lovely lady (Kate) from a Jeckyl-and-Hyde mad scientist (Edward) and his Franken-Dexter monster (Edward's assistant Dexter). 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

In a Big Country

Awoke to a dark morning around 7. I hoped to sleep longer, but I guess I'm still too nervous about the trip. Read in bed and wrote in my journal, then watched another episode of Match Game '73 on my phone. Gene's wearing another wild suit, this time in a gray check with a pink shirt and magenta bow tie. Pat Harrington asks him where he's selling the used cars; Brett cracks that he looks like half of a vaudeville team. Pat's mouth also comes up again when he jokes to Richard about something being "more than Diana (Dors, his ex-wife) ever did." Far from being upset, Richard looked rather rueful and agreed. 

Finally ate my Honey Nut Cheerios around quarter after 9; Lauren came up shortly after. She hit the garage to slide two coolers in the back of her van for food purchases before we finally headed out.

I love our drives into Vermont. It's so lovely to get out and enjoy the country. The scenery is magnificent.; rolling hills, mountains carpeted in green and gold, weathered old rust-red bards, and dried corn stalks. The trees further up in the mountains were even losing most of their leaves. It's the only place right now that feels like fall. And even up here, it was unusually warm for the time of year, probably in the 70's. We listened to a podcast discussing episodes of Perfect Strangers during the entire trip.

The Vermont Country Store is actually a series of old clapboard storefronts in Weston. They were pretty busy, with a nearly-full parking lot, though Lauren said she'd seen it worse. She did find a space to park further back on the gravel lot before we headed over to the main building.

Whether it was due to the current virus problem or just the needs of their customers, the Vermont Country Store's done some remodeling since my last visit there in 2019. All registers are now up front, crowding the women's clothing section, rather than scattered around the store. The penny candy is in bags and can no longer be handled by customers; the fudge and chocolates are on two sides of the store. They still have the same 70's era shampoos and conditioners, vintage toys, books, and cleaning supplies, Vermont-made linens and blankets, bottles of maple syrup, cheese, baked goods, and hard-to-find tools and cooking utensils as ever.

I made my first finds upstairs, where smaller racks and shelves of clearance items are sold. Picked up a mint-green t-shirt for $15, a bit pricey but not compared to what clothing usually costs at the Vermont Country Store. They also had my favorite fruit slices this time. I went with the mini versions in a plastic container; they were cheaper and came with more. 

Sometime in the past two years, their sit-down restaurant next door The Bryant House was heavily remodeled into indoor seating for their outdoor burger booth, Mildred's Grill. I had a tasty turkey sandwich with fresh Vermont cheddar and cranberry mayo. Lauren went with a ham and cheese melt and a cup of soup. She had a maple lemonade. I went with a plain old lemonade that was very tart and not sweet at all. We ate at a booth in a little building next to Mildred's that had once been where more sale items were held. 

There are other stores in Weston besides the Country Store. The Christmas shop across the street features every holiday ornament known to man, along with a small section for Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations. The Weston Country Store is a more touristy version of their neighbor across the street. They sell toys, novelty gags, Vermont-branded clothing, food, and small maple syrup bottles, mostly at lower prices than across the street. We still didn't see anything we wanted at either place and ultimately headed back.

Lauren wanted to buy her parents fudge and chocolate for herself. I picked up a few more smaller items. They had this nifty, colorful scrub mini-towel I thought could replace the scrubbing pads I usually use on my pots and pans. Found cream intended for sore and cracked feet; took the smaller bottle. (The big one cost $15!) Discovered the Cookie Buttons I normally like were full of salt; bought some maple cream sandwich cookies made with real maple syrup instead.

We took the longer way home, going through New York and into Lauren's hometown North Adams. Jack's Hot Dogs is a tiny sliver of a hash house nestled in a row of fading old office buildings, but they have tasty burgers and hot dogs sold for the cheapest prices anywhere. Lauren bought hot dogs for her and her parents, fries to share, and a burger with peppers and onions for me. I got M&Ms from a quarter vending machine and watched two boys skateboard outside while listening to music on a Bluetooth boom box. 

I had my burger right away when we got in. I didn't have that extra soup with lunch. Lauren waited an hour or so. In between, we played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Lauren came in first on the two-player Shell Cup with Moo Moo Farms and Toad's Turnpike, among other twisting courses. We did far less well when playing online against other gamers from across the globe. Lauren's best showing was sixth; my best was 8th. 

After we got fed up with the online games, we switched to a video game version of Othello. We each won one game. I got the first one; Lauren really beat me in the second.

Finished the night online after a shower with Charlie's Angels. "Haunted Angels" was their season 3 Halloween show. When Charlie and Bosley are concerned about a friend of Bosley's being defrauded by a psychic institute who claims they can let her see her deceased nephew, Charlie gets the women on the case. Sabrina enters the clinic as a psychic, Kris as the secretary to the head man, and Kelly as a private detective looking into the death of one of their possible psychic cases. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

River Deep, Mountain High

Started off a gloomy morning with breakfast and To Tell the Truth. Anne Meara and Nipsey Russell joined Peggy Cass and Bill Cullen to figure out which of three men was a professional dog sled musher. I said one, because he was so darn funny. Everyone else said three, who knew all the technical terms for the sport...and yeah, they were right. The next contestant was more sober - he was an expert on the Lusitania, one of the most famous ship wrecks ever. I said three, but the others got the very knowledgeable number two right. 

Did dishes, made the bed, and gathered anything else I needed for the trip while What's My Line was on. No one got close to the first contestant, who had a plastic card used for parking tickets in Tokyo. The plastic could be attached to the side mirror so the owner would have to pay their ticket. Soupy Sales guessed Mystery Guest Jerry Orbach pretty quickly. Today, he's best known for his long run as one of the cops in the original Law & Order. In 1972, he was a Broadway star who was just finishing his run in the long-running hit musical Promises, Promises. I thought the lady who was a co-owner of the New York Jets at the time was really interesting (and they didn't close to guess what she did, either).

Jodie picked me up shortly after the show ended. There was no traffic going to Cherry Hill, and we got there with plenty of hear from a lady stepping off the platform that NJ Transit just canceled the 9:28. Checking my cell phone revealed the early morning trains had mechanical problems and were also canceled. We ended up driving right back home.

I ultimately decided to go with my first idea and took an Uber to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The driver was there four minutes after I went on the app. He was a cheerful older man with a thick white beard who happily told me stories of what 30th Street was like when he was younger. We hit a little traffic in downtown Philly, but still arrived at the station within 20 minutes. 

Thank heavens that was the worst that happened all day. I love 30th Street Station. It's a beautiful old Art Deco barn that more closely resembles one of the vintage hotels in Philly than a train station. I feel more elegant walking through there. While Wendy's, Au Bon Pain, Jersey Mike's, and the gift shop bordering the main hall remain open, anything bordering Market Street has closed. Looks like they might be doing remodeling down there. I opted to buy a bottle of water and a few birthday presents for Lauren from the gift shop instead. 

(Oh, and incidentally, the 11 AM Transit train arrived on time. I'm guessing they must have cleared up the mechanical problems shortly after the 9:28 was canceled.)

The train to New York left right on time and pulled in a minute early. It was full to the gills with commuters on their way to Newark, New York, and Boston. I slid in next to a young man who slept the entire trip.

Got off at Penn Station, but the train to Albany left from Moynihan Station. Moynihan is New York's newest train station, carved out of a former post office with lots of marble and glass. It opened to the public on New Year's Day...which means it's lovely and also Art Deco-inspired, but there's not much there. The food court and newsstand haven't opened yet. I joined a long line for the bathroom, then hit the only open Starbucks for a sandwich and Vanilla Bean Mini Scones. 

There's also no place to sit and eat at Moynihan yet. I hid behind one of the wide plaster pillars and ate my lunch while watching travelers stroll by with their colorful luggage. Admired the pink-lit vaulted glass ceiling showing a gloomy gray day until I got bored with standing. Sat and read The Curse of the Pharaohs in the wood-paneled waiting area until I heard the announcement for the train to Albany. 

The Lake Shore Limited was full until we hit the New York suburbs. An older businesswoman took the seat next to me. By the time we were held up due to congestion in Poughkeepsie, I had the seat to myself. Despite the conductor's claim that we were sold out, the car was only half-full. 

I love the view going to Albany. Going to New York, you don't see much besides graffiti and New Jersey suburbs. Upstate New York is all shining lakes, airy suspension bridges, sprawling old mansions, crumbling factories, cozy lighthouses and bobbing small fishing boats. The Adirondacks provide a majestic green backdrop rising behind the silken ripples of the Hudson. I colored in my old Care Bears coloring book, worked on a crossword puzzle, watched Match Game on my phone, and listened to music while admiring the scenery.

Lauren met me when the train rolled into the station 8 minutes late. When her parents picked her up last month, her dad noticed a new bar and grill so close to the station, we were able to walk there in two seconds. It's carved out of a former Victorian-era fire house, with a heavy bar, small tables, and a couple of bar flies watching ESPN discuss Sunday's NFL games. I caught her up with everything that went on between our trips, including all the trouble at work and with my family, while we waited for our cheeseburgers and onion rings. 

She drove me home across the darkened Albany landscape, listening to a Perfect Strangers podcast on the way. When we got in, we gave Mrs. Miller her cheeseburger and Mr. Miller his bacon cheeseburger and enjoyed our dinner while I discussed my journey and they talked about upcoming changes in Social Security. 

Finished the night online in Lauren's room, at the vintage red enamel and chrome table her family had for years that she uses as a desk. Since I missed the Buzzr Match Game showings today, I watched a few more '73 episodes. In one episode, Gene Rayburn sports a green and red plaid suit that's so hideous, even the panelists make fun of it. (Comedian Jack Carter says it looks like a "station break in Poland.") In another, Gene crawls across the floor to demonstrate a question about little people. The week Patti Deustch debuted, Gene's quip about getting her answer left her very flustered. Jack Klugman appeared with his wife Brett Somers in another great week. While Mama "Cass" Elliot wants to take a short nap, Jack takes off when he gets annoyed with a question.

Here's more of the best of Match Game's early years, for your enjoyment!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Day Before Vacation

I got moving so late, I ate quickly, changed, and called Uber for a ride to work. Thankfully, there's still no problems here. The driver going to the Acme took ten minutes; the one going home barely took five. No traffic or trouble either way. 

Work was off-and-on busy, likely due to this being the Acme's Senior Discount Day. All seniors get five percent off on Tuesdays...and we're two blocks from a senior housing facility. Pretty much the same deal as yesterday. I swept, checked the bathrooms, and did carts until the afternoon bagger arrived at two. I was then able to focus on outside, doing the carts and rounding up the trash and recycling. No real trouble here, either, other than I'm dead tired. 

I made the mistake of checking my texts after I called Uber. It was the realtor...and she said I was denied for the apartment. Something about my credit history not being good enough, or being non-existent. I don't have a credit card. Never needed one, didn't want to pay them off, and I wasn't sure I could trust myself with one. I've known too many people who got themselves into debt with those things. 

I've never had this much trouble getting an apartment, but the last two times I rented them, I went through family or a family friend. All the people who recommended my current and previous apartments are dead, and I don't know anyone else I can ask about them or who would have them for me. I might have to get someone to co-sign. 

Jodie met me when I came home, after I changed. She wanted me to do my laundry now. I did originally plan on doing it today, but then remembered I'll probably bring clothes home from my trip. She wants to sleep and is worried about more people wanting to see the house. Apparently, she can't buy a house at the Shore right away because she doesn't have credit, either. Dad told her not to get credit cards or trust them, so she didn't. 

Worked on writing as much as I could while nodding off. Brett angrily points out that, not only is Sir Richard not the most obvious of suspects, but there's still tarts on the plate. They aren't all gone. The Red King thinks she's in on the conspiracy...and that's when Brett remembers the mushrooms Nipsey the Caterpillar gave her that can make her shrink or grow...

Put the laundry in the dryer, then had leftover stromboli while watching Match Game '74. McLean Stevenson gets Brett Somers back for making fun of his red, white, and blue plaid coat by telling her to shut up when she talks over him. Brett's not happy about Ann Elder's answer to where Charles gets the hair for his toupee, either. 

Got organized and worked on getting my suitcase together while Match Game PM was on. The panelists celebrated one of the contestants' birthday and joke about how bad Joe Santos' answer is to what astronauts want when they ask for 120 pounds of recreational equipment. Later on, Dick Martin tries to figure out the Head-to-Head for "Off and __." 

Put on It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as I brought the laundry back and finished all the packing I can get away with today. Linus is looking forward to the annual "visit" from the Great Pumpkin, who supposedly brings toys to all the good little children in the pumpkin patch. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Chuck has a rough time trick-or-treating, and Snoopy looks ahead to Veteran's Day with a few Red Baron jokes and a rousing round of World War II songs. 

Finished out the night online with I Love Melvin. I go further into this charming romantic comedy with Donald O'Connor as a photographer who claims he can get movie star wannabe Debbie Reynolds on the cover of a magazine at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Exploring New Frontiers

Started off a cloudy morning with material on Columbus Day from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. The biographical essay on Columbus was surprisingly honest about what he did and didn't do for something written in the 1940's, including his near-mutiny on his ship and poor treatment of the Cuban and San Salvador natives. Even the poems were more satirical than admiring. 

Made the bed and tidied up around the apartment, then ate breakfast while watching Hogan's Heroes. The boys say "Look at the Pretty Snowflakes" when they note that an avalanche could stop a Panzer division from heading northward. When a general has them shackled together, they need to figure out how they can work as a team to make enough noise.

Once again, no trouble with Uber. The driver going to Audubon and the one going to Haddon Heights picked me up in less than ten minutes. No traffic, and both guys were really nice. 

Work wasn't bad for most of the morning. It finally picked up around 1:30-2 PM, when people got in from the Shore and the clouds tried hard to break apart. Ran into trouble when there were absolutely no trash bags in the back; I had to borrow one from the floral department for the front recycling container. They just can't get them right now. The afternoon bagger took over sweeping at 3; he and another bagger helped me with the carts for the last two hours. 

There were several people standing on the lawn of the small 50's-era house at Haddon Heights when the man pulled up to the curb. Turns out most of them were looking at the bottom apartment. The realtor arrived a little bit early, surprised to not see my bike parked out front. 

After I explained the situation with the flat tire to her, she lead me up steep gray-carpeted stairs to a small attic apartment. Like the Manor Avenue apartment, it had low vaulted ceilings and a small bedroom. Unlike Manor Avenue, it also had a slightly larger kitchen and far more closet space. There's a huge backyard and a shared basement with a washer and dryer for each tenant. I like it. It's in a nice neighborhood, and while I'd still have to pay gas and electric (and internet), it's not unreasonable. The realtor and her husband were even nice enough to drive me home.

After I got in, I changed, then ordered a spinach and cheese stromboli for dinner from Phillies Phatties. I was just too tired to do any kind of cooking, and I figured I deserved the treat. Plus, I don't want a lot of leftovers sitting in my fridge for a week. Even the small turned out to be enough for dinner tonight and tomorrow.

Watched the last episode of Hogan's Heroes while waiting for dinner to arrive. It's "Rockets or Romance" when Hogan discovers three mobile rockets are aimed for London...and one's being kept at Stalag 13. While Hogan romances a lovely underground agent giving him information on rerouting the rockets, the others try to avoid radio detection trucks and get word out to England.

And that is that. According to Richard Dawson (Newkirk) and Robert Clary (LeBeau), there was originally supposed to be a seventh season that would have ended with the Allies liberating the camp, but CBS cleared out most of its sitcoms by the end of 1971. Considering its strange and now fairly dated premise, I'm surprised at how good this show is. The writing and performances are much better than they have any right to be. Werner Klemper made such a wonderful Klink, he was nominated for four supporting actor Emmys and won two. 

I will add that I generally prefer the slightly darker later seasons to the goofier early ones. The final few seasons really mine the war setting, especially episodes like "The Experts" that show they're still involved in some pretty harsh stuff, even if there's slapstick along the way. It's honestly worth checking out if you can get past the odd "prisoners in Nazi camp run spy unit" premise. 

Finished the night with dinner and another bizarre premise, the unique 1945 musical Where Do We Go From Here? I go further into this wartime fantasy at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Rainy Days and Matches

Began a quick morning with breakfast and the cast album for the 1946 revival of Show Boat. This was the last show Jerome Kern worked on before his death in 1945. "Nobody Else But Me," a charmingly self-depreciating ballad originally written for Magnolia's daughter Kim, would be his last song. I think the song is lovely, but other aspects of the show don't wear as well, including some shortened and revised lyrics to be more racially sensitive. 

Headed off to work before the album even ended. Once again, no trouble with Uber. Both drivers came within 11 minutes or less, and I got to work right on time. 

Work wasn't bad when I got in, but it picked up around 10 and wouldn't let up until past 3:30. Between the rainy weather, the holiday weekend, and the big Eagles game against the Carolina Panthers, almost everyone had huge orders. I'm dead tired and didn't always handle them as well as I could have, especially later in the day when I was really run down.

(At least the Eagles did better than me. I found out later that they did beat the Panthers 21-18.)

When I got home, I discovered someone made my bed, or tried to. It looks all lumpy and thrown-together, but not like I slept in it. I didn't think anyone was going to look at the house until tomorrow, so I have no idea what was going on there.

Changed, had a snack, and went into writing, or tried to. Brett's son Adam angrily defends his mother. Ira hotly denies being near the tarts, but Adam points out everyone ate them throughout the croquet game, including him.

Didn't break for dinner until almost 7:30. Had the leftover chicken leg and rice with steamed green beans and made Minted Honey Banana Bread while listening to the soundtrack from Popeye. I've always loved this long and peculiar 1980 live-action version of the comic strip, with Robin Williams as the sailor title character and Shelly Duval as his fickle sweetheart Olive Oyl. Makes me wish Williams and Duvall did more musicals. Duval has two adorably odd ballads, "He Needs Me" after she meets Popeye and her assessment of Bluto, "He's Large." Popeye's best numbers are his introductory "I Yam What I Yam" and the lovely "Sweet Pea's Lullaby." I'm also fond of the touching ballad that was cut from the film, "Din' We." 

Finished the night at YouTube with Match Game '73. As Linda Young mentioned last week, the first few weeks of the show started out as a more staid affair, not unlike the early weeks of the 60's show...and like the 60's show, it didn't work until it started to be played for comedy. The laughs turned up as early as the fifth episode, the first time someone answered a question with "boobs." (For the record, it was Vicki Lawrence.) 

Charles, Brett, and Betty White made their debuts in the eleventh episode...and they proved to be a breath of fresh air. Brett was originally suggested by her then-husband Jack Klugman, who said she was dying to get out of the house. It worked. She was so funny and sarcastic and worked so well with Gene and Richard, she became a regular almost immediately. Busy Charles wouldn't become a permanent part of the show until the end of the year. 

Along with showcasing more familiar semi-regulars like White, Elaine Joyce, and MASH alumni McLean Stevenson and Loretta Swit, we get to see some folks who wouldn't pop up again after those first weeks. Michael Landon often appeared on the 60's version, but he was so disenchanted with the rules for the 1973 show, he refused to return after the first week. Others who would only turn up at this early stage include The Waltons stars Michael Lerned and Richard Thomas, Robert Culp, comedienne and voice actress Pat Carroll, Broadway star Nanette Fabray, comedian Stu Gilliam, and Gail Fisher of Mannix

Take a peek at the early years of this hilarious favorite, from the first naughty answer to how Gene got his beloved long microphone! (Watch out for a bad tape on the Batman and Robin episode - some now-offensive sexual language there have kept this off TV since 1998.)