Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Out in the Sunshine

I had just enough time to get a pleasant walk in before work today. I worked at noon, the earliest I've gone to work in weeks. It was still really nice this morning, though a bit warmer than it has been. I strolled down Manor, then past the Oaklyn Library and up to the White Horse Pike and back down West Clinton. It wasn't too busy out. Most people are probably getting ready for Labor Day or their kids' return to school.

Work was quiet for most of the afternoon. It did pick up during the usual 4-6 rush hour, but it had calmed down enough by 6 for me to shut down and leave, despite my relief being the college kid who is always late coming in from his second job. I spent most of the day shelving candy.

The only major errand I got in today was picking up my contacts. They called me on Saturday and said they were in...but if I haven't been working late or busy, we've been pounded by hurricanes! I had debated eating out, but finally opted to just go home after I was finished.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miss Redmer and the Hair Day Adventures

Started out another beautiful, comfortable morning with a few Sailor Moon episodes related to vacations and to hair salons, all from the first season. "Nightmare In Dreamland" takes Amy, Serena, and Raye to an amusement park that turns out to not be much fun when it's discovered to be a Negaverse hide out. Raye wins tickets on the hot new ocean liner and invites Amy in "Cruise Blues," but it's Serena who bites off more than she can chew when she tags along. Mina tries to make Serena feel better about losing Darien to the Negaverse in "Bad Hair Day," but the cure may be worse than the sickness when the hair salon the girls try out ends up being part of an evil plot to capture the Silver Crystal. And in "Last Resort," Serena finds herself protecting her family from the evil spirit trapped in a lake...but can she do it without giving herself away?

Headed out after the last episode ended. I had a LOT to do today! The first stop was the Haddon Township Library. I shelved a few DVDs and books, but I mainly wanted to donate videos. I'm giving the Haddon Township Library half of my videos. The Oaklyn Library gets the other half for their Book Sale and Flea Market. (I'm also retaining some children's videos to give to my cousin Samantha's family.)

Since I had to go to Collingswood, I stopped at the Westmont Acme instead of the Super Fresh, as it's on the way. I needed vinegar and maple syrup, and I also picked up Drano. The bathroom sink has been clogged something horrible for almost a week now, and the usual vinegar and baking soda wasn't working. I've been doing my hair in there because the fan in my bedroom is blocking the full-length mirror. I think it's time to stop doing that. I suspect that the sink is jammed full of hair.

My next stop was a very quick run into the Collingswood Post Office to send off Lauren's DVDs. I dubbed her some things that I thought she'd like, along with two movies she wanted and didn't have. It's the least I can do for her, after everything she's dubbed for me over the past seven years or so.

I had planned on going to Haddon Hair Designs in Collingswood next to get my hair layered and trimmed. When I arrived there, though, they were closed and dark. I peered into the large windows, and noticed that most of the shelves, dryers, and salon chairs were gone. Sigh. I had no idea they went out of business. No one said anything about it. I didn't even notice, and they're a block away from the Collingswood Library.

I ended up strolling a few more blocks to the new Hair Cuttery that just opened in the empty space between WaWa and Rite Aid. I used to go to the Hair Cuttery in North Cape May when I lived there. This is the first Hair Cuttery to open near my current apartment. The girl who did my hair, Holly, was very sweet. She did a nice job. I just needed to get it layered and trimmed, as usual. It's been annoyingly frizzy all summer. Since I was there, I made a quick stop at Rite Aid for clips and pot scrubbers, too.

I was going to go out to lunch, but it was so lovely outside, it seemed a shame to waste the weather. I bought a turkey and Swiss 4-inch hoagie at WaWa and ate it in Newton River Park, near the playground. I wasn't the only person who wanted to take advantage of Mother Nature's good mood. A gaggle of boys played softball. A family with small children ran around the tree while the kids squealed over bugs and tumbled in the grass. Kids rode their bikes. Adults walked dogs and strolled together.

Made one more quick stop at CVS for Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner (Rite Aid actually had a better price, but they don't carry the curl formula I like), then rode home. I spent the next few hours sweeping the hurricane debris off the porch, then online. American Girl not only officially released their new historical dolls Marie-Grace and Cecile today, they also put out several new modern dolls and doll outfits and a mini-Ivy. My Mini-Julie can finally have her best friend!

But the beautiful day beckoned. I went for a short walk around the neighborhood around 5:30. Stopped at Leo's Yum-Yums for cherry vanilla water ice, then just walked in the neighborhood behind West Clinton Avenue. Most people have or are in the process of cleaning up from the storm. While some folks may have had flooded basements, I suspect the worst of it was probably fallen tree limbs. (I only saw one fallen tree near the corner of Beechwood and Lakeview Avenue in Collingswood, and it was a really old tree anyway.)

When I got home, I made flounder with fried peppers, red onion, and potatoes for dinner and watched Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Everyone's favorite British cheese-obsessed inventor and his brilliant canine companion are now in the rabbit-removal business, just in time for a huge vegetable competition in their sleepy village. Wallace comes up with a mind-altering machine to try to make the rabbits not like vegetables...but he accidentally switches minds with one of the rabbits! Can Gromit save his friend and the vegetable competition when a huge rabbit terrorizes the village? Fun horror spoof and a nice introduction to these two.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day

It remained absolutely gorgeous when I headed out to do my laundry this morning. Sunny and dry, with yesterday's wind replaced by a cool breeze. No wonder the laundromat was busy. This was added to a larger laundry load than usual. I had new clothes to break in and towels to wash along with the usual things. Thankfully, my timing was good. I just got a washer, but by the time my load was out, most of the driers were open.

Thankfully, what I can see in the neighborhood appears to be fine. There were trucks picking up the larger downed limbs, but all wires were in place, and there were no large trees on the street. There weren't even many puddles left. The underpass that goes beneath the train bridge on West Clinton looks like it may have flooded, but there's nothing but a puddle or two and dirt there now.

I had a quick lunch of leftovers at my place while working on the DVDs I'm going to send Lauren. The movie I taped ended just in time for me to head out. This time, I rode to and from work with no problems.

Work was quiet, especially for the beginning of the month. A lot of people may have done their shopping during the pre-Irene panic on Friday. It was steady during the 4-6 rush hour, but died quickly afterwards. It was so quiet by 8PM, the managers were originally going to ask me to stay when a cashier called out, but opted to send me home instead when there just wasn't enough to do.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Storm Blows Over

I was up late last night chatting with Lauren. It was 10:30 before I got up this morning. It was cloudy, cool, very windy, and still a little humid...but the porch was almost dry. It didn't look like it had rained in hours.

Despite the improving weather, I opted to stay at home and wait out the storm. Called Mom first thing after writing in my journal and getting dressed. Other than they were still getting rain, they were perfectly fine. Dad was home. He, Mom, and Keefe live in Erma near the Cape May County Airport, twelve minutes from Wildwood and well away from any beach or major flooding areas. My sister Anny and her son Skylar, who do live in the Villas near the bay, went to upstate New York near Lake Ontario to visit friends of Anny's. They had some downed branches, but otherwise had not lost power or had any other problems.

I ended up spending the day at home, which I haven't done in ages. I finally had Peach Pancakes for breakfast while dubbing Octopussy. A sentimental favorite, Octopussy is the only Roger Moore James Bond movie I have. I believe it may also have been the first James Bond movie I ever saw. Bond's pursuit of the killer of a fellow agent takes him to Germany and to India, where he encounters a suave businessman (Louis Jordan) who is working with a crazy general to ignite World War III and a gorgeous smuggler (Maud Adams) who trains her female gymnasts in circus work...and crime.

Along with The Spy Who Loved Me, this is my favorite of the Roger Moore Bonds. While he is beginning to show his age by this point, he generally handles the stunts well and looks more alive than he did in View to a Kill two years later. Jordan is one of the best villains in the entire series, and Adams (in her second Bond outing) is quite good as the dangerous title lady.

Went right into Tomorrow Never Dies while I dusted the apartment. The second Pierce Bronsonan Bond film is also my favorite of the four he did. The theme here is media manipulation. Bond this time is after a media magnate (Jonathan Pryce, who always was very good at scenery-chewing) who is trying to turn world powers against each other in order to drive the ratings on his news programs. He's helped by the magnate's wife (Teri Hatcher of Lois and Clark) and a tough Chinese agent (Michelle Yeoh).

Yeoh is probably the best Bond girl since Honor Blackman in Goldfinger, and she adds a great deal to some classic set pieces. My favorite is the amazing motorcycle chase in China.

I promised Lauren I'd make her two DVDs of movies and programs I have that she wants to thank her for all the DVDs she's made for me over the years. She requested Three Little Words and A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, and I decided to toss in two more comedies, an animated movie, and a bunch of animated shorts I thought she might like as well.

Made a cake while Three Little Words was on. One of the Cooking Light books I bought from a yard sale a few weeks ago had an intriguing recipe for Lemon-Rosemary Cake With Currants. I nixed the currants, since I don't have any, and made a light Lemon Buttercream Icing instead of the syrupy glaze originally called for. Other than that, I made the cake as described. It smelled marvelous in the oven and came out absolutely divine, sweet with a wonderful herbal fragrance.

Dad came over around 4:30 to bring my bike back. By this time, the sun was peeking through the clouds, the humidity was gone, and it was windy but nothing like earlier. In fact, it had become an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous day. I stood on the porch and enjoyed the last of the soft, cool wind after Dad left. It was so comfortable in the apartment, I was able to make Merlin's Magic Chicken (legs) for dinner without making the kitchen and living room hot at all. I also had Lemon-Garlic Chinese Green Beans and Marinated Potatoes and Tomatoes, with the cake for dessert.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eye of the Hurricane

It was just cloudy and humid when I switched on this week's American Top 40 re-run this morning. The Top 40 went back to August 1980 this week. Hits from late summer of that year include "All Out of Love" by Air Supply, "More Love" by Kim Carnes, "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, and "Let My Love Open the Door" in a rare solo hit by Who member Pete Townsend. The number one song that week was one of the prettiest and most peaceful ballads of the early 80s, the lovely "Sailing" by Christopher Cross.

I made a quick run to the bank and the farm market while the weather was still decent. The bank wasn't busy; the farm market surprisingly was. I guess everyone else wanted to get their vegetables while the going was good, too. Didn't see grapes this time, but plums were out, so I picked up a pint of those. The small Ginger Gold apples I like were back, too. Also grabbed peaches, tomatoes, red potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, a squeeze bear container of blueberry honey, zucchini, an ear of corn, romaine lettuce, and some unusual, very long green and purple string beans - Chinese beans, I think someone called them.

Obviously, with the impending storm, there were no yard sales today. I went straight home. When I got in, I swept the porch, did things online, and dubbed more James Bond movies. On Her Majesty's Secret Service, from 1969, is an oddity in the series for several reasons. First and foremost, it's the only Bond role for Australian model George Lazemby. While he's not quite Connery's equal, he isn't bad, either. What makes this one of the best Bonds is the supporting cast. Diana Rigg as Italian contessa Bond woos (and marries) is the best "Bond Girl," and Telly Savalas is a matchless Blofeld. The ski and car chases sequences are some of the best in the entire series.

Diamonds are Forever came out two years later in 1971. Connery was back for one of the most bizarre films in a series known for strange plots. This has long been a favorite of mine, and even I can't quite figure out the full plot, other than it involves diamond smuggling, a reclusive millionaire, and a super-laser. Once again, it's the supporting characters who stand out, including Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as a pair of hitmen with unusual methods of doing in their victims and Jimmy Dean as the aforementioned millionaire. The ladies, however, are a disappointment after Rigg - Jill St. John is annoying, and her character comes off as little more than a bimbo.

(The other awesome thing about this one is the theme song, the best of the three Bond title songs Shirley Bassey performed.)

It started raining around 11:30. It rained on and off into the afternoon. I was hoping it would slow down again by 2:30. It didn't. I was working late and didn't really want to drag anyone out in the storm, so I just rode my bike to work and got very wet.

It may not have been worth the trouble. It was steady when I came in, busier than I figured it would be but nothing resembling the mob from yesterday. As it turned out, all of our closest competition - the Shop Rite in Bellmawr, the WaWa a few blocks from us on the Black Horse Pike, and the Wal Mart in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center - closed early because of the storm. They may have done the right thing. By 9, we were so dead, the college kids (and one manager) were all crowded around some little electronic educational game for kids in an attempt to amuse themselves. No, we never closed. The Acme NEVER closes early. Everything outside was dragged in the store, including trash cans and all the carts that could be rounded up, but the store closed at 11 like always.

I got a phone call at quarter of 8. It was my sister Rose. Why didn't I call her or Dad when the weather got bad? Why did I ride my bike in a storm? Because I had no desire to drag anyone out in a hurricane. It's not fair to them. Rose insisted that she or Dad would take me home, and I wasn't in the mood to argue.

I did get out a few minutes early - not a great surprise, given the weather. Yes, the storm was going full-force when Dad arrived. We got wet just loading my bike into his car! Dad did drive me back to my place. I left the bike in his car. It's probably safer there anyway. I'm off tomorrow and wouldn't be needing it. I'll pick it up tomorrow afternoon, after the storm subsides.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Plus No Help Equals Panic!

It didn't start out that way this morning. It was sunny, hot, and humid, but not cloudy or unusually windy. I vacuumed the apartment and dubbed more James Bond. Thunderball and You Only Live Twice are very typical mid-60s Sean Connery Bond. Both are set in exotic locations (Nassau; Japan). Both have James involved with SPECTRE world domination plots. Both are filled with everything that people expect of this series - gadgets, girls, lots of explosions. Maybe too much. Thunderball in particular drags like crazy, and its underwater photography is a lot less exciting today than it was when it was new in 1965. Live Twice is mostly notable for introducing the first villain hideout (a volcano).

I had no idea the Acme tried to call me in until right before I left. By the time I got the message, it was right before I left. I shrugged, packed my lunch, changed into my work shirt, and left. How bad could it be?

It was AWFUL. The Acme was a total zoo all day long, with lines down the aisles until right before I was done. There's just too much going on. First of all, anyone who lives on the east coast probably knows that Hurricane Irene is coming our way. I doubt we'll get much more in this area than rain, wind, and minor tidal flooding, but everyone around here loooovvvvesss to panic! Second, it's almost the beginning of the month, and the weather may have prompted early deposits of many checks. Third, it's Friday, and a lot of people get paid and do their shopping anyway, no matter what the weather.

Sigh. And fourth, there were at least three or four people who called out because they wanted to get ready for the storm. That's ridiculous. Do that sort of thing AFTER work, not during it. We had absolutely no help all night.

Thank goodness things had begun to slow down a little by the time I got to my own shopping. I'm also glad I own a large Britta pitcher I filled with water, lots of D batteries, bought my milk yesterday, and only eat whole-wheat, rye, and multi-grain bread from the bakery in the summer. We were low on milk and bread, and almost every bit of water and every D battery had been cleared off the shelf. I bought whole wheat bakery bread, brown eggs, oatmeal, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter sticks, two single fish packs, organic chicken thighs that were on sale, flour, and peanut butter.

My schedule next week is much better. Sunday and Tuesday off, only one late day (Wednesday) and one long day (Saturday).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Earth-Bound Balance

Despite the cloudy and humid weather, I did make it to yoga this time. Tuesday's earthquake got Karin thinking of our relationship to the earth and the ground and how it influences us. We concentrated on back and leg movements, including a few bow-pose variations that really taxed my still-sore knee joints.

My stop at the Collingswood Library afterwards was a fast one. For one thing, there wasn't much to do. I organized the DVDs (the kids' section looked awful) and shelved a small stack. The clouds were getting worse by this point, too, and the humidity was thick enough to cut a knife through. I was barely there a half-hour before heading out.

It was showering lightly when I unlocked my bike. The shower picked up after a quick stop at WaWa for milk and a small turkey hoagie. Though I tried to wait out the rain under awnings and trees, I finally got bored. I rode straight home and got wet.

It would rain and occasionally thunder on and off for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I went nowhere else. I probably wouldn't have, even if Mother Nature was in a better mood. I had cleaning to do, my legs and feet are still sore from the weather and the last few weeks of work, and I wanted to continue my Video to DVD Project.

Ran New Moon, the last MacDonald/Eddy operetta I'm dubbing, while I ate my hoagie and then as I gave the bathroom a desperately-needed scrubbing. New Moon puts the duo back in Naughty Marietta territory. He's a scandalized Duke who was sent to Louisiana as a bondservant, she's the noblewoman who buys him. Their roles are reversed when the ship they're both sailing on crashes on an uncharted island. Feisty Jeanette has no interest in marrying anyone, especially an idealistic nobleman...but when too many men in the colony try to woo her, will she have a choice? And what will the entire colony do when the French finally appear?

For once, Nelson seems more comfortable than Jeanette does. They both have a great deal of witty banter, especially once they get to the island. Their forced marriage ceremony is hilarious - "Smile." "I am smiling." "Pardon me. I wouldn't have known."

Went into pure action as I cleaned the kitchen and baked Old-Fashioned Ginger Cookies. Romancing the Stone is a long-time favorite of mine. A romance novelist goes after her sister in the jungles of Columbia. She's helped on the way by a roguish mercenary and chased by a bumbling thief and a local dictator. I discussed this classic back in February for Valentine's Day, and I'm glad I was able to move it.

Finished the night with two of the earliest James Bond films as I had salmon in White Wine-Lemon Sauce, sauteed zucchini, and Marinated Red Potatoes and Tomatoes for dinner. Dr. No is the first "canon" Bond film and introduced the series and Sean Connery as Bond. Goldfinger is my favorite Connery Bond film - Connery pursues the gold-obsessed title character, who wants to attack the gold at Fort Knox.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Before the Storms

Though there's rumblings of Hurricane Irene coming this way starting Saturday night, today remained absolutely gorgeous. It was all bright sunshine and soft wind as I headed down the street to the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there.

It was pretty quiet this morning. There were a few kids in the children's area, but otherwise, it wasn't bad. There was either no Storybook Hour today or I missed it. I was able to organize the children's books after finishing the DVDs with no interruptions.

I went right into dubbing the next movie when I got in. I know I said I wanted to buy Bitter Sweet when it comes out in the Warner Archives next month, but I finally decided to save myself 20 bucks and add it to the list. Bitter Sweet is the second of two Technicolor movies Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy did together, and their second romance that ends in tragedy. MacDonald is a prim and proper young British woman in 1881 who scandalizes her upper crust family by running off with Austrian music teacher Eddy. They live in happy poverty in Vienna until they get a job working at a cafe. MacDonald is pursued by an amorous captain (George Sanders, in one of his many "cad" roles), but it's Eddy who may not survive his advances...

Yes, it's more-or-less Maytime in color. As such, it's really not their best film by a long-shot. Noel Coward, who wrote the music for the original show, really hated it, and MacDonald and Eddy supposedly weren't happy, either. There's some nice moments, though. I love Eddy carrying MacDonald up the stairs to their apartment in Vienna. Otherwise, unless you're as big of a fan of these two as I am, I recommend you try Maytime first for them in drama mode.

I baked Spicy Applesauce Cupcakes while Bitter Sweet ran. They came out very well, moist and nutty...and fairly low in fat. They came from one of the Cooking Light cookbooks I got from the yard sale in Audubon a few weeks ago.

After Bitter Sweet ended, I ran Danger Mouse until it was time to head for work. Work was on-and-off steady. I shelved candy during the off times. There were a few annoying customers; otherwise, there were no problems.

When I got home, I dubbed The Girl of the Golden West. Another lesser-known MacDonald/Eddy vehicle takes the two out to California during the Gold Rush years. She's a tough-talking saloon owner, he's a bandit with a lot of romantic ideas...and both of these urban creatures (she was born and raised in Philadelphia, he was raised downtown) are clearly out of their element in a western. Buddy Ebsen is a lot more comfortable than they are as the town blacksmith and an admirer of MacDonald's. Walter Pidgeon is the sheriff who is determined to capture Ramerez...and win a certain saloon owner's heart. Like Bitter Sweet, this is hard to find and is generally for fans of these two, Ebsen, or Pidgeon only.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

Started another gorgeous morning with a ride to the Haddon Township Library. It was a lovely day for a bike ride. Newton River Park was so busy, I rode on the street part of the way in order to avoid joggers, parents with strollers, couples walking together, and flocks of Canadian geese. It's so pretty out now, no wonder everyone's out and about. The grass is thick. The trees are much perkier than they were just a month ago. The wildflowers stand tall and brilliant. I'm so glad we've had this rain. It's been such a help, and we so needed it.

The Library was busy when I came in, too. The DVD cart and children's books carts were both loaded. I had plenty to do. Didn't see any DVDs I liked today, but I did take out two books on writing and one with small business ideas, along with a Calvin and Hobbes comic book.

Went straight home this time. I wanted to get to the Cherry Hill Mall and hit the end-of-the-summer-season sales. I had a really quick lunch of Peanut Butter and Peach Butter on a home-made English muffin and a peach, then hurried out the door to catch the 1:47 to Cherry Hill.

I just barely made it. Good thing it was a few minutes late! I hurried as fast as I could to the bus stop a block down from the entrance to the Wal-Mart section of the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. My heart was thumping when I finally made it to the bus stop sign.

Not long after I got on the bus, I heard someone mention to the driver that there had been an earthquake. I had no idea. I hadn't felt anything rushing to the bus stop but my feet and my pulsing heart. Nothing seemed any different...except for the people standing on the sidewalks in Westmont, looking a little dazed. Another man mentioned it when the bus stopped at the Cherry Hill Train Station behind the Shop Rite.

The Cherry Hill Mall looked just fine when the bus finally arrived. I didn't do quite as well as I did on my last mall trip, but I did find some things I needed. I picked up a pair of khaki capris for work, a bright gold Henley shirt, and a light green nightshirt with a book print that says "Never judge a book by its movie" at JCPenney. Bought Dick Tracy, The Last Starfighter, and The Shadow new on sale from FYE. Got a pair of cheap sneakers to run errands in at Payless Shoes.

My best find was a last-minute discovery at Lane Bryant. I've been looking for a nice, simple, inexpensive sundress to replace the red and blue dotted print that didn't fit for over a year now. Everything I've seen has either been too fancy, too expensive, or both. I found a sleeveless teal dress with three sweet ruffles on the hem of the skirt on a major clearance. Originally marked at 55 dollars, it rang up 18. Score! It's so sweet and lovely.

I also noticed that the 450 bus to the Cherry Hill Mall will let you off at the corner of Cuthbert Road and the White Horse Pike if requested. Good. That's a shorter trip than the hike to Audubon. It'll make things a lot easier on me when I want to go to Cherry Hill.

When I finally got home, I made pasta and chicken meatballs for dinner and continued my video to DVD dubbing. I'm working my way through my operettas that aren't on DVD now. Did the Arabian adventure The Desert Song during dinner and the MacDonald/Eddy Canadian romance Rose Marie after a much-needed shower.

Incidentally, the only damage that earthquake did here was knocking the Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets off the shelf. I've been meaning to move them, anyway. They're really too heavy for the flimsy Wal-Mart DVD rack I had them on. I swapped them and the animated movie DVDs to the heavier ash-colored DVD rack and moved the dramas and comedies to the Wal-Mart one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Chocolate Soldier and the Opera Diva

I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was this morning. The sun poured through the windows, but it wasn't the hot, hazy, humid sun of last month. It was soft, pure sunshine, with a hint of a cool breeze and no haze or humidity anywhere. I immediately switched off the air conditioner and fans and flung open the windows.

It was so nice, the air conditioner was off at the laundromat when I got there, too. The cooler weather also brought out the crowds. The place was really busy when I came in. I was just able to get a washer and a dryer.

When I got home, I put away my laundry and dubbed The Chocolate Soldier, a 1941 vehicle for Nelson Eddy and Rise Stevens. Though it uses the songs from the original 1909 operetta, the plot comes from the 1924 play The Guardsman - a Hungarian performer (Eddy) is so jealous of his wife's (Stevens) flirtations, he poses as a Russian actor to test her faithfulness. Nigel Bruce (Watson of the 40s Sherlock Holmes series) is his best friend.

I like the onstage portions so much, I kind of wish they'd stuck to the original story...but Stevens and Eddy both do fairly well with the fluffy plot. Eddy looks like he's having far more fun here than in any of his vehicles with Jeanette MacDonald (and his Russian accent is at least slightly more credible than that ridiculous Spanish accent of his from The Girl of the Golden West).

Went online to work on some ideas for an at-home business. I want to keep things very simple. I'm not buying into anyone else's idea. I want to run my own business and do things my own way. I'm tired of living by other people's (and companies') rules. I'm fed up with "The Company Way" - unlike Robert Morse, Matthew Broderick, and Daniel Radcliffe, I just can't live that way. I'm tired of the revolving door of bosses. (The head store manager who just came here in May already found a better job and is leaving within the next few weeks!) I'm sick of the stress, sick of the silly uniforms, sick of the hundred different rules that keep popping up for no good reason. I don't like shilling for things I don't eat or use, and I'm not crazy about the annoying customers, either. I wasn't meant to work for a big corporation.

Trouble is, now I need to figure out what it is I can do. I already have some ideas. I'd love to try copywriting, editing, database organization, writing newsletters for local businesses, website editing, or virtual assisting. I just need to decide exactly what I want to do and how to advertise it.

I just barely got off in time for work. It turned out to not be worth the effort. Between the beautiful weather and this being the middle of a holiday-less month, we were pin-drop quiet for most of the evening. It was only busy during the usual 4-6 rush hour, and then on-and-off.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Waiting for the Weather to Change

The clouds were going in and out when I got up this morning. It looked like Mother Nature didn't know quite what she wanted to do. I made Peanut Butter Pancakes and dubbed That's Entertainment III. The last of the four documentaries about MGM musicals focuses on behind-the-scenes footage and numbers that were cut or dropped from the films.

Called Mom after breakfast. She was also awaiting the storms. The rain finally found its way to Cape May County this week. She was no longer worried about her parched garden - it finally had plenty of water. Dad's coming home this week as well.

Work was steady for most of the afternoon. It thundered off and on all day, and rained lightly once, but the storm held off. I got to and from work with no trouble, and picked up cooking wine and chocolate chips quickly afterwards.

Made a tomato-mushroom-Colby Cheese omelet for dinner when I got in and copied Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall to DVD. This 1993 concert brings in some of the biggest stars of the time to perform music from the shows Sondheim had done through then. Among my favorite numbers are dancer Karen Ziemba and comic Bill Irwin's hilarious "Sooner or Later" from Dick Tracy, Dorothy Louden's medley of "Losing My Mind" (from Follies) and "You Can Drive a Person Crazy" (from Company), Madeline Khan's "I'm Not Getting Married Today" (also from Company), and Bernadette Peters' touching "Not a Day Goes By" (from Merrily We Roll Along).

Switched to The Great Waltz after getting out of a much-needed shower. The first in a series of operettas I have on video that have yet to make it to DVD, this is the biography of composer Johann Strauss. I don't know enough about classical music to be able to tell you what's fact and what's fiction...but I do know the cinematography's so sumptuous, it won an Oscar.

We did finally get that storm, too...around 9:30, and for all of twenty minutes or so. I think the worst passed us by this time.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to Have a Quiet Afternoon

For the first time in nearly a week, it was sunny and hot when I got up in the morning...and stayed that way all day. Turned on the American Top 40 as I opened the windows. I was four months old in August 1979, when today's Top 40 was new. Among the songs to hit the charts in the last summer of the 70s were "Mama Can't Buy You Love" by Elton John, "Let Me In" by Maxine Nightingale, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band, the title song from the movie The Main Event by Barbara Streisand, and "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer.

I ran the usual farm market-yard sale errands after the Top 40 ended. Stopped at the bank really quick before riding over to Collingswood. The Farm Market was packed, as usual. Blackberries and cucumbers are gone, but we're at the height of the summer harvest, and there were plenty of other tasty fruits and vegetables to be found. I ended up with tiny, sweet green grapes, peaches, Gala apples, golden beets (tastes like regular red beets, but a lot less messy!), garlic, an ear of corn, a tomato, and a jar of pear butter.

Along with the Farm Market, Collingswood is having their annual August Craft Show. The Craft Show is basically a less elaborate version of the May Fair, with the emphasis on the craft booths. There's food and music, but no midway or rides or classic cars. I didn't see anything I liked there and moved on.

Alas, for the first time in weeks, I had no luck at all with the yard sales. I hit two in Collingswood and three in Audubon and saw absolutely nothing of interest anywhere. I ended up riding home a bit early, around noon.

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing things around my place and watching movies. Ran The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band while making fish and ratatouille for lunch. This underrated Disney musical concerns the title family orchestra, who move to the Dakota Territory in 1888 from Iowa when their eldest daughter's beau convinces them that the rich land will be worth it. What he didn't tell them is the Dakotas at that time were generally Republican...and Grandpa (Walter Brennan) is a huge Democrat who has no problems stirring up trouble. Will the infamous contested Cleveland/Harrison election of 1888 come between the members of the Family Band?

Yes...this is a musical about an election. It's really a very strange plot for a musical, and the "family band" itself does occasionally get lost amid the political wrangling. At the very least, you can't say it isn't original. (It also seems to be a true story - based after the memoirs of youngest daughter Laura, according to the Internet Movie Database.) Critics have always been harsh on this one, but I love the Sherman Brothers' charming score (including the rousing "Ten Feet Off the Ground"). Lesley Ann Warren has a lot of fun as daughter Alice. John Davidson is her Republican suitor. Walter Brennan is the lovable, cantankerous Democrat grandpa; Buddy Ebsen gets a rare later-day musical role as the head of the family. Look for Goldie Hawn as a chorus girl during the "West O' the Wide Missouri" number and Kurt Russell as the oldest son. (The two met while doing this film.)

Went straight into dubbing How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying after Family Band ended. Like Family Band, this is a mid-late 60s musical. Otherwise, it's about as different as can be - a film adaptation of a modern, urban-set hit Broadway show that won a Pulitzer Prize for its biting satire. Here, we spoof the 60s corporate culture as J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) rises from washing windows to being Chairman of the Board and wins the love of pretty, sensible secretary Rosemary (Michelle Lee), all in less than a week.

While many things about office life have changed since the 1960s (rampant sexism, every executive smoking like chimneys, the secretaries' crazy hair and makeup), others - like brown-nosing, nepotism, and fear of anyone who may have anything resembling an original idea - sure haven't.

I agree with several people at the IMDb who comment on how refreshingly modest this is compared with other big-budget stage musical adaptations of the 60s. It helps that the director and producer, David Swift, mostly worked in television. In fact, the movie feels more like a very long episode of a TV sitcom from this era than a typical musical from this era, and even features performers like Maureen Arthur (the curvaceous Hedy LaRue) who were better known for their TV appearances.

Work ended up being pretty quiet, too. It was mildly steady when I came in. By 9PM, it was so dead, I spent a lot of the night doing returns and shelving candy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lightning Is Striking...Again

I spent a sunny, hot, humid morning crocheting and doing more dubbing. The Barkleys of Broadway is the last movie Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in together...and it happened on accident. Judy Garland was to have appeared in the movie as a follow-up to the massive success of Easter Parade, but her ongoing personal problems lead her to drop the role. Ginger Rogers, coming off of a decade of straight drama and comedy, jumped in.

Maybe it's just as well. The role seems to fit her better than it would have fit Garland. Astaire and Rogers play a married couple whose constant bickering lead her to break up the act and take the role of Sarah Berndhart in a new straight play. Oscar Levant is their ever-sarcastic songwriter buddy.

This is the only Astaire-Rogers musical filmed in color and at MGM. I like it, but fans who expect this to look exactly like their 30s romps will be disappointed. Doesn't help that the music is so dull, the Gershwins' "They Can't Take That Away From Me" was interpolated to provide the two with a duet.

After the movie ended, I realized that I was bored. Really, really bored. I think I've been bored for a while. That's why I can't think of anything to write and keep getting stressed at work. I feel like all I've done all summer is work, hide from the heat, and dub movies.

I ended up leaving for work early to pick up my paycheck and run some much-needed errands in the Audubon Shopping Center behind the Acme. I ordered new contacts from America's Best. I bought ink cartridges from Staples. I had pineapple and ham and broccoli rabe and caramelized onion pizza from Tu Se Bella's for lunch.

Work was steady up through about 6PM. It was still hot, sunny, and humid when I went shopping. The clouds had started building up again on the horizon even as I ate my pizza slices...and they burst around 6-6:30.

It was still raining when I finished work, and it continued to patter on the Acme's roof as I did this week's grocery shopping. Needed to restock quite a few things today, including brown and white sugar, vinegar, and cooking spray. Also grabbed things to make a pudding pie. Found Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit as a two-disc set for a very good price on the DVD rack. (I've had Chicken Run on video since it came out, but I'm trying to clear out as many videos as I can, and I don't have any Wallace and Gromit.)

Got my schedule when I finished. The good news - more hours next week and two days off, which I sorely need. The bad news - later hours, including a 9:30.

The weather remained stormy as I headed out. I stood around for a little while, watching the pouring rain and lightning. After about fifteen minutes, the lightning subsided...but the rain didn't. Oh well. I just rode home in the rain and got wet. I didn't really want to drag anyone else out on the weather, and I needed a shower badly tonight anyway. I kinda just got pre-wet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weather: It's the Greatest Show On Earth!

I never made it to yoga class or Collingswood. A massive thunderstorm woke me up for the second week in a row. It lasted long enough to kill any ideas I had about running anywhere. We've had storms on and off all day.

I spent the morning doing recording. The Secret of Nimh and Cats Don't Dance are unusual animated films from the 80s and 90s. Nimh is a stunning adaptation of the children's book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. Cats is an original animated musical about a feline tap dancer who comes to Hollywood in 1939 to make it big in the movies, only to discover that animals are barred from doing anything but...well, acting like animals.

Secret of Nimh may be the best animated film of the 80s; Cats Don't Dance is quirky and cute, with some decent music by Randy Newman and one of the strangest villains of any movie.

As Cats Don't Dance ended, the sun came out, the rain disappeared, and the sky showed soft blue. Since I didn't make it to yoga, I went for a nice walk. Strolled down to the boat launch at the end of Goff Avenue, the down past the school and back to Doria's Deli on West Clinton. I treated myself to one of their famous hoagies (Turkey and Provolone, my favorite), then headed home for lunch.

Dubbed two more movies while eating and crocheting. The Princess and the Pirate has cowardly performer Bob Hope matching wits with princess Virginia Mayo and Pirate Victor MacLaglan. Good News is a cute MGM musical about a college student librarian (June Allyson) who teaches the school football hero (Peter Lawford) that "The Best Things In Life are Free" when the gold-digging new flapper on campus spurns him. But when the flapper thinks he's got millions, will he realize who he really cares about?

Good News ended with literally no time to spare. I rushed to work. It was getting a bit darker at that point, but nothing horrible. I barely made it in, thanks to a RV and trailer trying to back onto narrow Kendall Boulevard.

The Acme was very busy tonight with tons of huge orders. Today is the last day of the big Giveaway Game promotion they've been doing since May, and everyone wanted to ensure their chances of possibly winning. One order came up to over $1,000 dollars!

It was storming again when I got out. I waited as long as I could, but the rain continued. It was neat to be able to watch the lighting from the Acme, though. The trees around my apartment block the view there, but there's no such distractions on the White Horse Pike. You get a perfectly clear view of all weather phenomenon...including massive bolts of lightning that criss-crossed the sky like tight wire. It was amazing. It did finally slow down long enough for me to ride home and only get a little wet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summertime...and the Livin' Is Easy

Generally a nice, quiet, lovely day here. The weather was perfect when I made my way to the Oaklyn Library. Sunny, breezy, warm but not more or less than it should be at this time of year, and not overly humid, either. While some patches of grass are still showing the effects of a mostly dry summer, the storms over the last few weeks have been a huge help. Gardens and trees mostly seem to be much greener than they were this time last month.

Mostly organized DVDs at the Oaklyn Library. The Storybook Hour started shortly after I did. I didn't want to disrupt anything, so I didn't do the kids' section today. I did poke around in the overflowing bin of older children's books they're getting rid of. I picked up vintage hardback copies of Johnny Tremain and A Cricket in Times Square.

It was so nice, I treated myself to WaWa after leaving the library. I bought a pretzel and a Coke Zero with chocolate and raspberry syrups and enjoyed them on the way home. I took the White Horse Pike and West Clinton, instead of going back down Manor like I usually do. Neither the people nor the scenery is as pleasant on the Pike, but it's something different.

When I got in, I continued the Video to DVD Project with Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird. The first of two theatrical Sesame Street feature films takes Big Bird on a cross-country journey when he's adopted by a family that turns out to be a poor match for him. I like this one, but it may be better suited to adults who remember this show in the 80s than current fans of the show. Elmo only makes a very small cameo at the end, and there's no Zoe or Rosita or Abby Cadabba.

I worked on Apple-Cinnamon Muffins while the movie ran. I also swept the porch. The nuts and acorns have been horrible out there this year! Most of the mess is debris and nut shells left by my wild "neighbors" who don't exactly have good table manners, or the leftovers from nuts that cracked falling off the tree.

Ran Sean the Sheep during lunch. This batch introduces a nasty fox who would love to get himself a lamb or chicken dinner. His first story, "Foxy Laddie," where he imitates a ram and out-runs a love-besotted Shirley, was my favorite.

Work was, once again, fast and fairly painless. I only worked four hours, anyway. The only problem was with a WIC Check customer who got the wrong juice; otherwise, it was steady, and I was in and out after picking up some buttermilk.

Dubbed Moon Madness when I got in. I found this rare video at the Audubon Acme, of all places, shortly after I moved here. Back in those days, they still had a shelf of videos for sale at certain registers. You never knew what you'd find there...including a tape of the dubbed version of a French animated film about the adventures of Baron Munchausen and his friends on the moon. I have fond memories of this film turning up from time to time on cable during my childhood. I remembered the catchy theme song "The Secret of the Selenites" better than the movie itself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All the Weather You Could Ever Want

I think the only weather we missed today was hail and snow! It started gloomy and humid when I climbed out of bed this morning. Not exactly inspiring, especially since I had plans to hit the Haddon Township Library and run errands in the morning.

My bike tires needed to be pumped a little. It wouldn't have been a big deal if the mosquitoes weren't eating me alive. They've been really bad in the area that leads to the steps to my apartment...and I knew why. Bits of debris from the trees and puddles of water have collected on the tarp covering my mountain bike that I never use, giving ample fodder for bugs (including a whopper of a spider that must have been the size of my thumb).

I was sick of encouraging the local wildlife and giving a home to feral cats. I felt bad about getting rid of the mountain bike because some of my co-workers at the Acme gave it to me about five years ago for Christmas...but all the thing was doing was propping up cobwebs. I rode it for a few years, but I didn't really need it. I don't like mountain bikes with gears, or how the handlebars made me lean over and feel uncomfortable. I prefer plain old cruiser bikes that you don't have to adjust into this and that. I don't mind pushing it up hills. It's not like I live in the mountains, like my best friend Lauren.

I finally left the bike by the curb, like I did with the TV and computers last week. Anyone who wants it is welcome to it. It's rusty and missing the seat (the old seat was moved to the cruiser bike when my neighbor and I started fixing it up), but someone might be able to do something with it. I gave the tarp back to my next-door neighbors. I borrowed it from them in the first place.

Headed for the Haddon Township Library next. It was about 11 when I arrived. They'd only been open for an hour, and there wasn't much to do. I shelved a small stack of DVDs and a few children's books. Took out two animated sets - more Little Einsteins, this time with a rescue theme, and the newest Sean the Sheep disc.

The clouds had been dark all morning, but it didn't start raining until I left the library. I was lucky I made it into Dollar Tree before the monsoon started. It was pouring like crazy as I wandered around the store. I was hoping to wait out the weather, but it didn't take me that long to buy a pack of Ivory soap and two packs of sponges.

I wasn't going far, anyway. I dashed across the mall to the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. I had a tasty Vegetable and Cheese Quesadilla for lunch. It felt rather cozy, with the rain pattering on the roof, All My Children on ABC, and people chatting in the booth behind me and in the main room. By the time I'd finished, the rain had ended, leaving puddles and clouds, but no threats of further storms.

The Rite Aid across the street was up next. They have the area's best prices on contact lens solution. I noticed they had half-gallon skim milk for cheaper than WaWa, too. I decided to save myself a trip and grab a bottle. I used up the last of mine on yesterday morning's cereal. Took out an extra 20 for the week as well.

With no more need to stop at WaWa, I just rode straight home. Put everything away and went right back out for a quick stroll around the neighborhood, just in case it started raining again. It didn't look like it would, though. The clouds were quickly breaking apart, and it felt far less humid and warm than earlier. I bought a Pina Colada Yum-Yum at Leo's to combat a dry throat on my way back and popped into Doria's Deli to congratulate them on winning an award from the Courier Post on having the best hoagies in South Jersey. (I must concede with that. They do.)

I spent the rest of the now-sunny and comfortable afternoon at my apartment. I've been having chocolate cravings, so I baked those wonderful Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies I got from a recipe in Prevention Magazine two years ago. They came out a little brown, but otherwise as sweet and chocolatey and chewy as ever.

Also continued the Video to DVD Project. I did Adam's Rib last night and finished off this disc with two more romantic screwball comedies this evening. Pat and Mike is Hepburn and Tracy's last movie together at MGM. Hepburn is a suburb all-around athlete. Tracy is the promoter who wants to make her into the Queen of Sports. Trouble is, Hepburn falters whenever her overbearing fiancee's around. Can Tracy help her admit this...and can Hepburn get the ever-tough Tracy to fall for an independent-minded woman?

Not my favorite of their movies, but cute enough. Probably best for fans of golf and tennis in the early 50s, who'll recognize the many stars from those sports making cameo appearance.

What's Up, Doc? is a homage to the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s. Barbara Streisand is Judy, a perpetual college student who wrecks havoc wherever she goes...and where she is in 1972 is a hotel in San Fransisco. She's set her sights on naive but attractive musicologist Harold Bannister (Ryan O'Neal), and she won't take "no" for an answer. Meanwhile, Harold's odd behavior is flustering his uptight fiancee Eunice (Madeline Kahn, in her film debut), and half of San Fransisco finds themselves embroiled in a wild chase across the city involving spies, jewel thieves, and four identical plaid suitcases.

If you're a fan of either of the ladies or the movies this pays homage to, by all means, check this one out. Streisand and Kahn come out on top as the flake who isn't as ditzy as she seems, and the female Tony Randall who screams when she's angry and just wants her fiancee to explain what's going on...if he can. Lots of classic gags, too, from a woman hanging on the ledge outside the hotel to the classic chase across Frisco.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Woman In the Rain

I'm glad I was able to get to the laundry when I did, around quarter after 10. It was crowded as heck with couples, mothers, elderly people, and one random skinny college student. I just managed to get a washing machine. Thankfully, by the time my wash was ready for the drier, almost everyone had cleared out, and there were plenty open.

It was cloudy and on-and-off showering when I was at the laundry. The sun came out after I got home, but clouds remained on the horizon. I put the laundry away, listened to CDs, and dubbed Brain Donors. A 90s take on the Marx Brothers movies, Brain Donors is hilarious if you can find it (to my knowledge, it's out of print on DVD, but it does turn up now and then on cable).

After the movie ended, I switched to Danger Mouse and had a blackberry omelet and cucumber and tomato salad for lunch. The rain was long gone when I headed out to work, but I still saw those stubborn clouds.

Work was steady through the usual rush hour. It was on-and-off busy afterwards. This is the last week for our big Giveaway Game promotion. Other than one customer at the very end who got confused with his WIC Check orders, there were no major problems.

When I left the Acme, the clouds that had been peeking through the haze all day were suddenly overhead...and VERY threatening. I literally raced home, trying to outrun the oncoming storm. I did a darn good job of it. It was just starting to shower when I got in, and I saw lightening on Kendall Boulevard. Most of the storm waited until I was already at home. There was some noisy thunder earlier, but all I hear now is rain.

I changed discs and put on Woman of the Year when I got home. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy's first movie together involves a war correspondent (Hepburn) and a sportswriter (Tracy) who start out in a column war when she questions the need for his beloved baseball during wartime...and end up getting married. Hepburn, however, is more devoted to her job and ideals than to Tracy and their relationship. Can these two find a way to make their marriage work?

Hepburn and Tracy began their three decade-long-affair doing this movie. Despite some dated discussions of what women should be allowed to do, it's always been a favorite of mine. The two had chemistry right from the get-go.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Here Comes the Rain...Finally

I awoke to heavy rain and a thunderstorm. Or, to be more specific, a thunderstorm and heavy rain woke up ME. We had one heck of a gullywasher around 6:30 this morning. I yawned, closed the windows, and went back to sleep until 10:30. I was THAT tired.

It was still raining heavily when I finally got out of bed again. I made Chocolate Chip Pancakes and continued with my Video to DVD Transfer Project. The next movie on the list was Troop Beverly Hills. This was one of my favorite movies when I was ten. Shopaholic southern California wife Phyllis Nefler (Shelly Long) has everything a woman could want...except for the love of her husband Freddy (Craig T. Nelson). He's filing for divorce because all she ever does is shop and start causes that she never finishes. Determined to show that she can change, Phyllis takes over her daughter Hannah's Wilderness Girls troop. Trouble is, these spoiled little rich girls are hardly standard Girl Scout material. Good thing Phyllis isn't, either. Can Phyllis show the girls, her family, and the Wilderness Girls brass that there's a lot more to volunteering than camping and "roughing it?"

This is still a really cute comedy, even if the attitudes towards the rich and slightly ditzy have changed dramatically since 1989. No matter how pampered and silly Phyllis seems, she's really a very nice woman who genuinely wants to help the girls be their best. I asked my mom why everyone made such a fuss over Phyllis' ideas when I was a kid. Mom told me that the important thing is a Girl Scout learns to cope with her environment...whether that environment is a seaside resort town, a campground, or a fancy city. I agree. Maybe Phyllis' ways didn't match the more extreme views of women like Velda Plundor, but they worked for the girls, and that's what matters in the end.

I called Mom while Troop Beverly Hills ran. Mom was very happy. Dad finally went up to New Bedford on a work-related trip, which means he was finally out from underfoot and she could do things around the house. Keefe got a good job at the Lobster House Restaurant in Cape May as an expediter (guy who stands at the end of the food line and brings the heavy things out) and bus boy, too. Not only do they pay well, but they're on a dock and have some of the best views in Cape May. My sister Rose's guy friends Jason and Joey Towns worked there when they were Keefe's age.

As happy as Mom is for her men, she's worried about Cape May County's lack of rain. It seems that the storms that have hit us have passed by Erma. Her garden is so dry, she rang up her water bill trying to keep it moist. She's afraid they may go into a real drought like the one in Texas if they don't get some storms soon.

The rain continued relentlessly into the early afternoon. It was raining too hard for me to ride to work. I ended up calling Dad. I got lucky. He and Jodie were originally going to help out at a local winery's wine-and-cheese tasting event, but the weather canceled those plans.

Work was short, fast, and sweet. They did try to get me to stay later, but I'm still pretty tired and sore and begged it off. I'm kind of glad. As it turned out, the rain stopped around 4, and by 6, the place was so dead, they didn't really need the extra help anyway.

Dad took me to his and Uncle Ken's place after work. Jodie was there; Rose showed up with Khai shortly afterwards. Jessa and her boyfriend turned up, too. (Jessa has the cutest new short hair-do.) Rose has been busy with working two jobs, taking the Bar, and caring for a baby and two dogs. Dad's talking about finding another cruise ship job, too.

Rose took me home around 7:30. I had a late dinner of salmon and leftovers. I was going to go online, but the internet was down. I opted to crochet and transfer more movies instead. My Favorite Year is the lovely tale of a young writer on a popular variety show in 1954 (Mark Linn Baker) who convinces the show's producer (Adolph Green) and star (Joseph Bologna) to hire an aging actor (Peter O'Toole) to guest-star on the show. Thing is, Allan Swann may have once been an Errol Flynn-type swashbuckler and Benjy's hero, but he's now a drunk and a lush. Can Benjy keep him on track for the show...and prove to him that once a hero, always a hero?

Peter O'Toole was Oscar-nominated for his marvelous performance as an aging rogue who is always "on"...even when he's a little off. Mark Linn-Baker (five years before Perfect Strangers) is a sweetly bemused Benjy. Along with O'Toole, this film is a fine showcase for character actors like Lanie Kazan (as Benjy's very Jewish mother), Green, Bologna, and Gloria Stuart (in a small but graceful part as an elderly woman whom Swann dances with at a club).

Switched to Working Girl next. We switched back to 1989 for this comedy about Tess, a secretary (Melanie Griffith) in New York who discovers her manipulative new boss (Signourney Weaver) has stolen her idea for a merger between a corporation and a radio network. Tess is determined to make the deal herself...even if it involves taking over her boss' home, office, and wardrobe when she's away after a skiing accident and getting involved with her businessman boyfriend (Harrison Ford).

Like Troop Beverly Hills, released the same year, the 80s do show on this major hit. Tess was right to want "serious hair." Hers and Joan Cusack's poofy permed dos in the beginning of the film may have been fashionable then, but they look AWFUL (and not at all right with the tiny Griffith's facial features) now. On the other hand, the looks at the business world don't seem to have dated quite as much. Harrison Ford is at his sexy best as Tess's love interest. Weaver is a terrific villain, and Cusack has so much fun as Griffith's best friend, she picked up one of the film's six Oscar nominations.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Sailin' Away to Key Largo..."

Started a warm, sunny day with this week's American Top 40 re-run. We went back into the 80s to explore August 1982. Among the hits that week were "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, "Take It Away," by Paul McCartney, and Toto's "Rosanna." The #1 single was the smash anthem from the third Rocky movie, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.

Headed out for this week's farm market/yard sale run right after the American Top 40 ended. I did very well with yard sales this week, much better than in previous weeks. That was with fewer sales, too. I ended up hitting five. I picked up two American Girl books for the 70s historical character Julie (Tells Her Story and Happy New Year) and a Magic Attic book, Alison Saves the Wedding, from a family in Oaklyn.

Came up even better at a multi-family sale at Cornwell Road in Haddon Township. The first thing I found was an American Girl Mystery Puzzles set, still in the plastic and never played with. It features four small jigsaw puzzles with Kaya, Kit, Molly, and Samantha on them, and has been discontinued for a while now. Found a cute Max & Ruby in two large boxes of stuffed animals.

Along with the puzzle set, my favorite find were five records, my first record score in ages:

Don't Shoot the Piano Player - Elton John

Two from the Rolling Stones, It's Only Rock and Roll and Goats Head Soup

Two holiday LPs, The Beach Boys Christmas Album and Merry Snoopy Christmas

The Farm Market was very busy today. It's the height of the summer harvest, and while blueberries are gone and cucumbers are fewer, there was plenty of other things to choose from. I was almost out of vegetables and definitely out of fruit, too. I ended up with carrots, blackberries, peaches, two tomatoes, an ear of corn, mushrooms, zucchini, green peppers, Cuban peppers, and the first red and yellow peppers and Gala apples of the season.

I did a lot of riding around this morning. By the time I'd explored my last yard sale in Audubon, I was dead tired. I'd had a long, busy week. My legs and feet were killing me. I rode straight home and spent the rest of the afternoon inside, doing things around the apartment and dubbing movies to DVD.

The first movie on the queue was an oddity, and the only other movie I'm dubbing that was taped for me by someone else. My best friend Lauren sent me Alice at the Palace during our shared Perfect Strangers phase around 2004-2005. This taping of a live show from the New York Shakespeare Festival in the early 80s features Meryl Streep as Alice, cavorting in a vaudevillian Wonderland where every character brings in a new music hall number, from Debbie Allen's showgirl Queen of Hearts to Mark Linn Baker's gentle mime White Knight and perpetually sobbing Russian Mock Turtle. Strange stuff, but kind of fun if you like Streep or vaudeville-style musicals.

The next two were quite different. Humphery Bogart's first major film, The Petrified Forest, and his last with his wife Lauren Bacall, Key Largo, both portray people being held in a remote location by gangsters. In Forest, Bogie is the gangster holding people at a roadside diner hostage. Poet Leslie Howard has been looking for a purpose in life, and may have found it in providing a way for hopeful young Bette Davis to flee the suffocating desert.

Key Largo moves from the desert to the famed resort town in the Florida Keys. Bogart is now the hero, a former soldier home from the war who is without prospects. He also finds a purpose when gangsters, lead by Edward G. Robinson and his alcoholic moll Claire Trevor, turn up at a hotel owned by the father of his war buddy (Lionel Barrymore) and his daughter-in-law (Lauren Bacall).

Petrified Forest is mainly notable for the duel of wits between Bogart and Howard. The noble ideals it puts forth and its staginess (it was based after a hit play) haven't dated well. Key Largo is somewhat better, even if Lauren Bacall doesn't have much to do. Bogart's battle of wills with fellow Warner gangster Edward G. Robinson is just as riveting, and Claire Trevor won an Oscar for her portrayal of the gin-soaked former singer.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Look Who's Working

The weather remained lovely today, warm and windy and dry. I took advantage of Mother Nature's good mood and went for a nice little walk. I strolled down to West Clinton, past the Oaklyn Public School, and into the neighborhood behind Kendall Boulevard. Though the grass is still a little brown, it does look better than it did this time last month, thanks to the storms we've had recently. The gardens, with their tall, slender phlox and bright Black-Eyed Susans, were much perkier, too. It was so nice, I saw someone fishing on the dock on the end of Goff Avenue.

When I got home, I spent the rest of the morning working on the last disc of movies I taped off of cable in college. A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum is an adaptation of the 1962 Broadway hit. Zero Mostel is the slave of innocent young Michael Crawford who promises to set him free...if he can get him the pretty young courtesan next door. This sets off a wild free-for-all of wacky jokes and wackier songs. Zero Mostel and long-time favorite of mine Jack Gilford shine as the slaves trying to make Crawford happy; Phil Silvers (who played Mostel's role in a 1972 revival) is the owner of the house of courtesans who has already sold the girl to a brutal warrior. This was the final film for comedy legend Buster Keaton, who plays the old man searching for his children who were lost to pirates.

(Actually, the best thing about this film may be the cinematography and art direction. The earthy, dusty Rome that's the backdrop for the movie is one of the most realistic uses of this famous Italian city I've ever seen.)

Went right into Look Who's Laughing after Funny Thing ended. Another farce with lots of familiar faces, this one turns from vaudeville to radio for its cast. Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy headline a crew that includes Jim and Marion Jordan (of Fibber McGee and Molly), Harold "The Great Gildersleeve" Peery, and Lucile Ball somewhere between glamor girl and goofy girl mode. While Gildersleeve was already a spin-off of the McGees, I have to give the writers credit for managing to concoct a decent plot that landed Bergen and McCarthy in the McGees' home-town Wistful Vista to attempt to open an airplane factory. Ball is Bergen's protective secretary.

Oh, and this is one of two films I'm transferring to disc that someone else taped for me. My friend Rita Widmer sent me this copy when I expressed interest in the shows in question after hearing episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, and The Chase and Sandborn Hour on old-time radio sets. For those of you who are equally big old-time radio fans, the Warners Archive just released it as part of a 3-movie set honoring Lucile Ball's 100th birthday.

Work was busier than yesterday early on, but died pretty quickly after the rush hour petered out. Otherwise, it was the same as yesterday. I didn't need much after work, either. Just grabbed a small round steak, some stew meat, the Acme's generic shredded wheat (it was on sale and I had a coupon), yogurt, and eggs (the latter were also on sale).

My schedule next week is somewhat better, though still a little hectic. Once again, I only have one day off, but the other days are shorter and there's only one day that's until 9, next Saturday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Balance on the Moon River

It couldn't have been nicer when I headed out for this week's yoga class. We concentrated on balancing poses. I'm not great with balancing, and the fact that I was tired didn't help. It doesn't help that I still have a hard time not comparing myself to the rest of the class, either. I've spent half my life trying to catch up with my sisters and every other person my age in terms of what I can do and am supposed to do.

After class, I went to the Collingswood Library for this week's volunteering session there. I organized and filed DVDs downstairs, then organized American Girl books upstairs. It was fairly quiet there, and I left in less than an hour.

I stopped for a pretzel and a chilled cappuccino at WaWa, then headed home. I went via Newton River Park. It was a gorgeous day for a ride. The sun sparkled over the rippling, deep green water. The cool wind kept the sun from feeling too hot. There wasn't a smidge of humidity in the air. It's looking much greener and less dry thanks to the recent storms (though the grass is still a tad brown).

When I got home, I did things around the apartment while dubbing Breakfast at Tiffany's. A classic romantic comedy-drama about a free-spirited call girl in New York (Audrey Hepburn) and the writer upstairs (George Peppard) who is being financed by an older woman, this is a bittersweet story about two people who think they know all about life, but turn out to be more romantic than they believe. Buddy Ebsen and Patricia Neal also give excellent performances as Hepburn's Texan horse-doctor husband who tries to get her to come home and the woman keeping Peppard. (Beware of Mickey Rooney's distasteful stereotypical Japanese upstairs neighbor. It's the only sour note in this graceful film.)

Did this month's budget after Breakfast at Tiffany's ended. Even with the new TV, I surprisingly didn't spend as much as I thought I did. The fact that I didn't really go anywhere last month (I was busy, had just gotten off of vacation, and it was too hot to do a lot of traveling anyway) probably helped.

Work was a pain. It was busy, and I'm tired from working all week. There were call outs, which left us severely short on help all night. I'm really feeling burnt out at work. I'm not used to having long work weeks during the summer. I'm grateful for the extra money, but it's just not what I'm accustomed to at this time of year.

I headed home and dubbed Dinner at Eight, another comedy-drama. This one is an all-star film about the guests at a swank dinner party. If it doesn't sound exciting, the guests include Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery (as a boorish new money businessman and his lazy wife who is desperate to get into society), John Barrymore (as a washed-up actor), Lee Tracy (as his agent), Lionel Barrymore and Billie Burke (as the owner of a shipping line who is facing losing his family's long-time company and his wife who is giving the party), and Marie Dressler (as a fading actress with a fondness for dogs). This was Dressler's last film before her untimely death of cancer, and she and Jean Harlow get one last hilarious moment before the movie ends.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The New Old Library

Started off today with three fairy-tale-themed Little Einsteins episodes. "The Glass Slipper Ball" was my favorite of the lot. June wants to go to a ball in a castle in Vienna to try on the glass slipper there...but she has to get there before they close at twelve! June teaches Rocket - and the audience - how to move their bodies in time to the music of the day, Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube Waltz." A school of Andy Warhol fish help them find their way in the Danube River. Rocket's even nice enough to make June a gown for the ball.

Headed for the Oaklyn Library around 11:30. The book on serials I took out a few weeks ago was due, and I wanted to get this week's library volunteering session in. The Storybook Hour was on when I was there. I organized the DVDs while they finished, then turned my attention to the children's books.

To my surprise, the kids' section had been almost completely reorganized. The board books now had their own shelves. Ancient non-fiction books were cleared away; the fiction picture books now spanned both sides of the fiction shelves. Biography, which formerly took up a whole back wall, now only had three shelves. The shelves that held the biographies are empty. An area that was once overflowing, dark, musty, and cluttered looked much better. I organized some books that were in the wrong places, moved one non-fiction picture book to the right shelf, and shifted some series books to the right places.

I had lots to do at home, so I went straight back to my apartment after I was done. It was so nice, I made Lemon-Blueberry Sugar Cookie Squares, an adaptation of Stir-n-Drop Sugar Cookies, one of my favorite recipes from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book. It was gorgeous all day, sunny, warm, and breezy, with absolutely no humidity. I had leftovers for lunch.

Dubbed Three Little Words while the cookies were baking. While this is another MGM Technicolor "biography" in the vein of Words and Music and 'Til the Clouds Roll By, it's refreshingly modest compared to those overstuffed spectacles. Fred Astaire and Red Skelton play 20s and 30s songwriters/screenwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, authors of "Hooray for Captain Spaulding," "Who's Sorry Now?," and "I Wanna Be Loved By You," among others. Vera Ellen and Arlene Dahl are the ladies in their lives. That's about it. The only "guest stars" are Gloria DeHaven (singing "Who's Sorry Now?" and playing her own mother, Mrs. Carter DeHaven) and Debbie Reynolds (singing "I Wanna Be Loved By You" with the voice of the song's originator Helen Kane).

This may be my favorite of the MGM "biographies." Fred Astaire would later call it one of his favorites of his movies. I know so little about the real-life Kalmar and Ruby, I have no idea what's fact or what's fiction here. I do know that I appreciate how this is really just a small, sweet story about two guys, two ladies, and their manager (Keenan Wynn) who want to make music and dance. Astaire and Vera-Ellen have two lovely duets to the pretty ballads "Nevertheless" and "Thinking of You." Red Skelton gets to have fun on the baseball diamond. Dahl is underused, though she does get the closest thing to a big chorus number, "I Love You So Much."

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, dead otherwise. Who wants to go shopping on a gorgeous summer day with no storms threatening? I was in and out fairly quickly.

Dubbed A Day at the Races when I got back in. The Marx Brothers are laying waste to society again, this time at the race tracks. Margaret Dumont is a wealthy but paranoid woman at a failing sanitarium who insists on having Dr. Hugo Hackenbush (Groucho) examine her. The problem is, Hackenbush is a veterinarian. After they find out, Harpo, Groucho, and the sanitarium owner's boyfriend (Allan Jones) rope him into help the horse Jones bought. Will "All God's Chillun Have Rhythm" on the racetrack and in the operating room?

One of the best later-day Marx Brothers films. It's probably best-known for Groucho and Chico's "Tootsie-Frootsie Ice Cream" routine at the race track, but my favorite part is the uproarious finale. Jones and the Brothers do everything they can - and then some - to stall the race while they look for the horse!

(And a warning - there are black stereotypes in the "All God's Chillum Got Rhythm" number that PC-sensitive folks in the audience may find offensive.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Outrunning the Storms

Started this morning with the second disc of the Schoolhouse Rock set while I had breakfast. In addition to two featurettes, the most notable items on disc two were a series of cartoons written in the mid-80s to help introduce kids to those fancy new desktop computers, Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips. Alas, unlike the direct-to-DVD "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College" on the first disc, these three shorts aren't much fun to watch, nor have they dated well. (And one's missing. Apparently, the short that introduced the series is genuinely lost.)

Headed to the Haddon Township Library after Schoolhouse Rock ended. I needed to return the DVDs from last week and do this week's volunteering. There weren't that many DVDs when I got in. I organized the kids' DVDs...and when I came back, there was a big stack of discs waiting for me! They kept adding more all day. I also shelved picture books. I took out two more cartoon DVDs, some Little Einsteins and a new Max and Ruby, Bunny Tales.

It was sunny when I headed to the library this morning, but dark clouds loomed in the horizon. When I left around quarter of 1, they were overhead, heavy and black and humid. I raced through Newton River Park, dodging the few remaining joggers who weren't turned off by the weather. It started to spit a little as I made my way into Oaklyn. I just made it home. I'd been inside for less than 20 minutes when it started to pour and I heard thunder.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I baked Fresh Peach Muffins. I watched the monsoon. I dubbed The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle to DVD. This was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' last vehicle at RKO. It's also the only time they played a real-life couple and one of two times they played a married couple. Vernon and Irene Castle were wildly popular dancers on Broadway and elsewhere in the mid and late 1910s. Vernon Castle died in a tragic accident during World War I, but Irene lived, and it was her memories and memoirs that the story is based on. She may have given Ginger a hard time about playing her, but her input into the movie makes it more honest than most musical bios.

(And I've seen pictures of the real Castles in books on the musicals of the 1910s. Ginger didn't really look like Irene...but Fred very much resembled Vernon, other than the latter was a blond.)

The storm finally subsided around 2:30, more than an hour before I headed to work. There was another storm during my shift, but while we were busy before that and during rush hour, it was once again gone by the time I went home. It also cleared out the store. I spent the last hour shelving candy.

Dubbed Look for the Silver Lining when I got in. Another musical biography, this one covers Marilyn Miller, whom I've mentioned here before when discussing 20s musicals. Miller was the sweetheart of Broadway in the late teens and 20s...but unlike the Castles' and Ruth Etting's stories, Miller got the whitewashed treatment. In real life a hoyden with the mouth of a sailor, here she's played by sweet, dainty June Haver. Ray Bolger and Gordon MacRae turn up again as Miller's mentor and doomed first husband respectively.

(On the other hand, one of the things I like about this one is how realistic the numbers are. No Busby Berkley kaleidoscopes here; the routines look like they could be performed on real stages. I especially love the bit of Sally they cribbed, with SK Sakall as Leon Errol and Haver doing a simple, lovely version of the title song.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

August In New Jersey

Started today with April In Paris, the first of two Doris Day musicals I transferred to DVD. One of Day's lesser vehicles has her as a sassy chorus girl who is mistakenly sent to Paris for an arts festival by straight-laced bureaucrat Ray Bolger. She and Bolger are mismatched, but they do get one good number on the ship bound for France, "We're Gonna Ring the Bell Tonight."

Did the laundry next. It was surprisingly quiet for the lunch hour. I'm guessing the continuing heat and humidity kept people away. I didn't linger, either. I did my laundry and went home.

Had leftovers for lunch while running the Schoolhouse Rock 30th Anniversary set. In addition to Money Rock, which would have been on TV in the mid-80s, there's a few additional Grammar Rock and Multiplication Rock numbers that didn't make it to Linda's video. The touching tale of "Mr. Morton," which covers the parts of a sentence, was my favorite of the new material. The other ones I hadn't seen include "Busy Prepositions" from Grammar Rock and "The Good Eleven" and the odd science-fiction-themed "Little Twelvetoes" from Multiplication Rock.

Work was almost exactly the same as yesterday - busy for most of the night, until about an hour before closing. Other than that, there were no major problems, and I was in and out quickly.

I ran Love Me Or Leave Me, the last Day musical I was moving to DVD, when I got home. A hard-hitting biography of 20s and 30s singer Ruth Etting, Leave Me is one of my favorites of her movies. Etting was used and abused by a gangster, Marty "The Gimp" Snyder (James Cagney), who was obsessed with her. Etting was no slouch in the using department herself - she used him just as much to further her career. Cagney and Cameron Mitchell (as the pianist Etting really loves) are excellent, but Day is a revelation. If you only know her from frothy musicals like April In Paris or her later romantic comedies, you don't know the half of it. Here, she matches Cagney tooth for tooth and shows she could be as tough as any dame in Hollywood.

Oh, and American Girl just put their newest historical dolls, Marie-Grace and Cecile, on pre-order. They represent New Orleans in 1853, when a yellow fever epidemic raged in that city. Though their time period doesn't really interest me and I probably won't buy the dolls or their clothes, the dolls themselves are utterly gorgeous, especially Marie-Grace.

Meet Cecile and Marie-Grace!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I Concentrate On Work

I skipped the radio shows today to work on transferring movies to DVD. Did a couple of films from the 30s this morning, starting with Born to Dance. Eleanor Powell is a young lady hoping to become a Broadway dancer who falls for a sailor on leave (James Stewart...yes, in a musical). When a stage star (Virginia Bruce) makes a play for Stewart, Powell's not crazy about the idea. How can Stewart explain it's just publicity...and will Powell get her name in lights when Bruce backs out of the show?

You can probably guess where this is going, especially if you're a fan of backstage musicals. For all the froth, Cole Porter provided a nice score; Stewart gets to introduce the standard "Easy to Love." Other stars belting Porter tunes include Buddy Ebsen as a fellow sailor, Frances Langford as his girl, and Una Merkel as Powell's best friend.

The most famous number is the finale with Powell tapping against a backdrop of a huge ship. I think two smaller numbers - "Hey, Babe, Hey" with the three main couples happily dancing together and Stewart and Powell's "Easy to Love" - are far more charming.

The Acme called while I was finishing my zucchini and carrot pancakes. I was washing dishes and didn't get to them until I was almost time to go. Could I stay until 6:30? Yeah. I wasn't crazy about it, but I'd do it. It was only an hour.

The Acme had its reasons. It was busy when I came in, and stayed busy until nearly 6. There was a call-out, and at least ten people who work in the front of the store went on vacation for part of or all week.

When I finally got home, I enjoyed the crock-pot Beef and Red Potato Stew I started this morning for dinner and ran the next movie I wanted to put on DVD, The Broadway Melody of 1940. Another Powell vehicle, this one switches things up a bit by making Powell the stage star looking for her new leading man. The producer accidentally hires George Murphy...but he really wanted his partner Fred Astaire.

Cole Porter once again provided the songs. This time, the hits included "I've Got My Eye On You," "I Concentrate On You," and one borrowed from a minor Porter stage show, "Begin the Beguine." Astaire and Murphy are certainly more at ease with the fluffy plot than Stewart was. Astaire has a nice moment when he dances "Eye On You" with Powell's compact. The best-known number is Powell and Astaire's incredible "Beguine." I also love their "Jukebox Dance."

The only non-musical in this set is also the only movie I'm dubbing that is currently not on DVD in any form, even the Warner Archives. Life Begins for Andy Hardy sends everyone's favorite late 30s-early 40s teen (Mickey Rooney) to work outside of his small town for the first time. Alas, Andy learns some hard lessons when he's taken in by a manipulating young woman, briefly becomes penniless, and loses a good friend. Good thing he has his pal Betsy Booth's (Judy Garland) shoulder to cry on.

I'm finishing the night with the start of another disc. Doris Day is the star of this set. On Moonlight Bay is a charming nostalgic musical set in a small town in the pre-World-War-I midwest. Day is a tomboy growing to womanhood without losing her tough spirit; Gordon MacRae is the idealistic college student she pursues. Charming and fun if you're a fan of historic musicals like this or Meet Me In St. Louis. Leon Ames, who was also the father in St. Louis, is Day's dad; Rosemary DeCamp is her mother.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Going On the Town

Started out a warm and humid but breezy morning with cereal, blueberries, and the American Top 40. The Top 40 went way back today to early August 1970. Protest songs, country-esque tunes, hard rock and bubblegum pop ruled the airwaves - Edwin Starr's "War," Melaine's "Lay Down," The Jackson 5's "The Love You Save," "Ride, Captain Ride" by the Blues Image, and one of my favorite Crosby, Stills, and Nash songs, "Teach Your Children."

That week's big hits were sweet ballads in the midst of a world in upheaval - Bread's "Make It With You" and the Carpenters' lovely "Close to You."

Did the same thing I did last week this morning - rode around Oaklyn, Collingswood, and Audubon and looked for yard sales. I hit six - a lot more than usual for this time of year - but didn't have much luck. Found some home-made vintage fashion doll clothes for the Sailor Soldiers (and had a nice chat with the fellow who sold them to me about crocheting) in Oaklyn and a favorite childhood film on video, Troop Beverly Hills, in Audubon.

I stopped at the farm market while in Collingswood. They were packed to the rafters today. No wonder. There was tons going on. I passed a food-preparation demonstration and watched a Peach Pie Baking contest. Plums are gone and blueberries are on their last week, but there's plenty of everything else. I picked up peaches, a zucchini, two small lavender eggplants, my final pint of blueberries for the year, red potatoes, a tomato, a cute little cantaloupe, and the first green seedless grapes of the season.

I debated riding up to Haddonfield for their annual sidewalk sale, but by quarter of noon, I was just too darn tired. Since I was in the area, I did make a quick stop at the Staples in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center behind the Acme. I've been meaning to get there to see if they have any sales on packs of recordable DVDs, but I haven't had the time. I was in luck. They were having a big half-price sale on Memorex DVD packs. I picked up a spool of 50 for $17 with tax, far less than the $30.99 it normally costs.

Went over to Sonic for lunch. It was a nice day, windy if warmer and more humid than earlier this week. I ordered a Chicken Sandwich, Tater Tots (they were out of onion rings), and unsweetened iced tea. For once, both were quite tasty. The sandwich was so hot, it was a few minutes before I could dig into it.

Spent the rest of the day at home. The Acme called 15 minutes after I arrived. Could I come in from 3:30 to 7:30? For once, I said "no" without a tinge of regret. I've had lots of hours recently, have plenty this week, and won't be getting another day off until next Saturday. They can live without me for a day.

I crocheted while running the remaining two Thin Man movies. After the Thin Man takes Nick and Nora back to San Fransisco for a mystery involving Nora's upper-crust family. A very young James Stewart is the male ingenue here; Dorothy McNulty (later Blondie's Penny Singleton) is a singer caught in a blackmail scheme. Billy Benedict of The Bowery Boys movies has a brief cameo as a friend of Nick's early on.

Another Thin Man returns the Charleses to the East Coast. This time, a family friend calls Nick, Nora, and their new son Nick Jr. to Long Island when he thinks his life may be in danger. Among the familiar faces here are C. Aubrey Smith as the man who believes he may be on borrowed time and Sheldon Leonard as a hood who has been having dreams of Smith's death.

After that disc was finished, I switched to a trio of Gene Kelly's best 40s musicals while organizing my new DVDs and making chicken and summer vegetable stir-fry for dinner. The Pirate pairs him with Judy Garland in their second of three movies together. He's a roving performer in the Carribean in the 1850s who poses as a notorious pirate to win Garland. His "Be a Clown" numbers, with Garland and the Nicholas Brothers, are the stand-outs.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town team him with Frank Sinatra and comic Jules Munshin. The first is set in the late 1800s and features Sinatra and Kelly as a pair of vaudevillians who play baseball during the off-season. The two are bamboozled when smart, athletic (and unusually dry) Esther Williams buys their team and groupie Betty Garrett makes a play for Sinatra.

On the Town keeps Munshin, Kelly, Garrett, and Sinatra and adds Ann Miller (as Munshin's love interest), Vera Ellen (as Kelly's), and Alice Pearce (as Garrett's perpetually-cold-infested roommate) to the tale of three sailors on leave in the Big Apple who chase landmarks and lasses...and happily find both in the course of 24 hours. Though this adaptation of the hit 1944 Broadway musical eliminated a lot of the score on its trip west, my favorite number is from the original. Betty Garrett does her darndest to get the naive Sinatra out of her cab and into her apartment in "Come Up to My Place." The two are an absolute riot - I don't think Sinatra ever had this much fun in his later career.

And of course, this one is best known today as the first musical to shoot on location. It does add to the experience to see the real sights as the guys do, and not just back-lot recreations. (Though there are those, too.)

Friday, August 05, 2011

"Thanks for the Memories..."

Started off a gorgeous summer morning with the last two Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cartoons and the bonus Little Einsteins episode over a tomato and Colby cheese omelet for breakfast. I ended up really liking the very cute Einsteins. Little Einsteins is an offshoot of the Baby Einsteins series for infants. This is a variation on the interactivity format, this time with emphasis on the arts. Annie, a darling little singer, June, a smart dancer, Quincy, a goofy musician, and Leo, the orchestra leader, travel around in their Red Rocket, going on mildly scary "missions" against a backdrop of a painter's works, with a classical composer's music in the background. European castles provided the background for the kids' Halloween show, while Edvard Grieg's music was the score. The kids have to collect candy from four famous castles for their Halloween party...but who are those ghosts after them? Adorable. I've seen DVDs for this show at Haddon Township and Collingswood; I may have to look into them.

Went for a walk after Little Einsteins. This is as lovely as it gets in early August in southern New Jersey, sunny, breezy, and in the mid-80s, with no humidity in sight. Since it was only around 10, I had the playground behind the Oaklyn Public School to myself this time. I was able to slide and run around and play oversized tic-tac-toe to my heart's content. Stopped at Doria's Deli for a special treat of Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi and a chat with Mrs. Doria. She loved the weather so much, she rode here on a bike, too.

Spent the rest of the morning at my apartment. Finished the Bob Hope disc with The Big Broadcast of 1938. Hope made his feature film debut as one of the many cast members in Paramount's equivalent of MGM's Broadway Melody movies and the Gold Diggers series at Warners. The location is rather novel, compared to the usual backstage movies - two cruise ships racing each other. Hope is an announcer with a trio of ex-wives. Shirley Ross is the ex he was happiest with. Dorothy Lamour is a passenger in love with the inventor of the radio waves-backed contraption that could help the SS Gigantic to win the race. That is, if the bad-luck curse attached to father-daughter pair Martha Raye and WC Fields doesn't rub off on the ship!

Hope and Ross steal the show with the classic "Thanks for the Memory" number. The two reminisce about old times in a way that seems far more natural than anything else in the movie...or in most musicals, for that matter. They were such a hit together, they were teamed again later that year in a movie called Thanks for the Memory and performed another popular duet, "Two Sleepy People."

Martha Raye comes off best of the remaining all-star cast with her awesome acrobatic dance number with a bunch of rowdy sailors that shows off both her dancing ability and some nice legs. WC Fields' stand-out moments are on the golf course as he runs a group of unfortunate cabbies ragged. Dorothy Lamour has little to do, especially compared to her later Road romps with Hope.

After I finalized the Hope disc, I went straight into the next one. My next DVD is devoted to the first three movies in The Thin Man series. Ran the original film as I organized the video and DVD shelves and made Chocolate Chip Bars. The first Thin Man film is the only one based after the original Dashiel Hammett book. Nick and Nora Charles (and their wire terrier Asta) are a wealthy, debonair pair of society gadabouts who mainly devote their lives to drinking and being witty. When an inventor friend of Nick's disappears under mysterious circumstances, Nick finds himself being involved in the case whether he wants to be or not...and Nora insisting on joining him for the ride.

I forgot how much fun this one is. My favorite part comes right after Nick is shot by a gangster who is trying to find out what he knows. He uses his Christmas present from Nora - a pistol - to shoot the balls off the Christmas tree while she reads the paper.

"You were shot three times in the tabloids," she reports to Nick.

"That's not true," Nick quips. "They didn't get anywhere near my tabloids."

The Thin Man ended with almost no time to spare. I went straight to work. Work was busy all day long, with crazy lines until almost 8PM. There's quite a bit going on right now. First of all, it's still the beginning of the month. Second, many college students will be going back to school this week or next week. Third, quite a few people are going on vacation. Fourth, anyone who isn't going on vacation seems to be taking advantage of the nice weather to hold barbecues and family reunions.

Did some very quick grocery shopping after work ended. Mainly needed to restock baking items and snacks. It took me almost five minutes to find the new Emerald On the Go bagged trail-mix snacks I had a coupon for. I assumed they'd be in the aisle with the nuts, but they turned out to be shelved with granola bars.

I'm not thrilled with my schedule next week. On one hand, I only have two days, Thursday and Friday, that are as long or as late as yesterday. On the other hand, after tomorrow, I don't have another day off until next Saturday! At least five or six people who work on the front end alone went on vacation this week. Now I'm glad I waited until September to take my second week.