Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Farewell to the Daydream Believer

This is a tough one for me to write. I would have done it earlier, after I found out, but I didn't know what to say.

Davy Jones of the Monkees Dead at 66

He wasn't my favorite Monkee (that's Micky Dolenz), but he sang my favorite Monkees song. I'm not as big of a Monkees fan as I used to be...but that doesn't mean this isn't still a shock.

The day generally went pretty well before I went online and saw that sad announcement in my e-mail box. It was only sprinkling when I rode my bike to work around  10AM. Now I'm glad I did take that extra hour. It started raining harder about an hour later, and wouldn't let up until late afternoon.

Probably thanks to the weather and the end of the month, work was mostly quiet all day, and never more than mildly steady at rush hour. Once again, the worst problems had to do with the remodeling. Now they're working on the women's bathroom, which means yes, we still have a unisex bathroom, and we still have to lock it. They're redoing the walls on the break room, so we still can't use that, either. I parked my bike back in where they keep the large cleaning supplies.

I got incredibly lucky with the weather. By the time a manager came in for me at 5PM, the rain had calmed back into sprinkles. I was perfectly dry when I rode over to Lucile Roberts. They were very busy; I had to make my way through a large crowd waiting for the 5:30 kickboxing class so I could change in the bathroom. I did the elliptical machine today, but given that my ankle is still sore from Saturday and the weather hasn't been kind to my knee either, that may not have been the best idea. I did better with working on my arms on the machines and with hand weights.

I briefly debated eating out, but I have plenty of leftovers at my place. I went home and watched Tales of the Gold Monkey instead. In "Black Pearl", Jake and Corky deliver an American scientist to Boragora. On the way there, Jake rescues a native afloat at sea, carrying a canister and dying of unusual burns. Sarah thinks there may be a connection between the scientist, the canister, and the natives. Meanwhile, a group of Nazis are creating a huge atom bomb seven years early on another island. When Sarah drugs the scientist, Jake takes his place, while she and Corky follow to keep tabs on him and the natives who have been enslaved by the Nazis.

For the rest of you, I hope you enjoyed your extra "leap" day in February.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The World Is a Highway

I slept in again this morning. Didn't get moving to the Haddon Township Library until past 11:30 (after delivering the rent for March to Miss Ellie's side of the house). It was a lovely day for it. The sun was shining, it was chilly but not too warm or cold, and the wind I heard this morning had blown itself out by early afternoon. This showed in the many joggers, dog-walkers, and people walking together I dodged in Newton River Park on my way to the library.

You won't be surprised to hear that the library wasn't that busy. There were some DVDs and books to shelve. I mainly concentrated on the kids' DVDs and books - another volunteer shelved most of the adult and nonfiction titles. I enjoyed the movies I took out last week so much, I took out four more, despite my limited time this week - Cars 2, the Hepburn/Tracy romantic comedy Desk Set, the recent version of True Grit with Jeff Bridges (which I didn't get to when I rented it last time), and the Winnie the Pooh Easter special Springtime With Roo. (Yes, I know it's a bit early for that one, but it may not be available by the end of the month.)

Ran errands after I left the library. I needed a few things at Super Fresh. They have genuinely cheaper prices on grits, maple syrup, and honey, and they were all on sale (the honey for the Jewish spring holidays). I also finally found my favorite Hodgeson Mill Yeast Packs, and they were on sale too, 29 cents each! I bought the six packs they had left.

Next stop was the Westmont Bagel Shoppe for lunch. I just had a simple Roast Beef and Provolone Sandwich on a Honey Oat Bagel with a small cup of cole slaw. No fries or chips necessary. That sandwich was big enough! I didn't even finish the second half. It was past 2PM when I got in, and very quiet there, just me, CNN, and the owner and her staff.

I should have started shelving things right away when I got home. Instead, I sat down in my living room and just thought. I wanted to start a business, but I had no portfolio to show people. I didn't want to take pricy medical billing courses when I'm not all that interested in medicine. I liked the idea of editing college students' papers, and even made an ad for a business like that...but I didn't know where to post that ad. I couldn't find the student forums on the college websites, and there's no way I could go to any of the local colleges to advertise. Rowan and the main campuses for the Camden and Atlantic County Colleges are in the middle of nowhere, beyond the reach of even many buses. Rutgers and Temple's campuses are situated near notoriously bad parts of Camden and Philly. Drexel is all the way out in North Philly.

I can't get to colleges to advertise...but I can get to local businesses. I know these people, the small-time businesses of Oaklyn, Haddon Township, Audubon, and West Collingswood. I know many of them are having problems staying in business, either because they're off the beaten track like Doria's Deli, or they don't get the publicity and advertising that the fancier towns like Collingswood and Haddonfield do. They can't afford expensive advertisements and newsletters.

I could help them. I could do copywriting for them, revise advertisements for local newsletters, maybe even write a newsletter or pamphlets, and spread the word about them. I buy things from these people. I know them, know how they operate. They're good people, and I want everyone in the area to know it, too. I could do online copy for folks who haven't done a web site or e-mail list yet.

I liked this idea so much, I went to Doria's Deli to discuss it with Mrs. Doria (buying a Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi soda from her as an excuse to go in). I figured if anyone knew what the community needed, it was someone who had been in business there for twenty years or more. Yes, she liked the idea. I need to work on it more (and figure out how to work it into my classes), but I feel better now that I have something I'd like to do...and people who really may need me.

It was so nice, I went for a short walk after I left Doria's. When I got home, I swept all the sticker balls off my porch. Those should be winding down soon as we get into spring and the leaves on the trees start budding. As pretty as that is, I'm going to miss the incredible view of the river I have each winter when the trees are bare.

Spent the rest of the evening inside. I went through more books in the back room. I gave the bathroom a quick scrub. I made Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry for dinner while I ran Cars 2.

This enjoyable but somewhat convoluted follow-up to the original Cars takes us on a trip around the world in a film that comes off as a cross between the original Cars and a James Bond film. Bumbling Mater the Tow Truck (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) is mistaken for an American secret agent by two British agents, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) while joining Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) on a major around-the-world Grand Prix. McQueen is having his own problems with the boastful Italian racer Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) and with the mysterious series of accidents that are taking many of the cars out of the race. When Mater discovers a fiendish plot to discredit a new alternative fuel source, he may be in over his head...especially when the plot includes killing his best friend!

While I liked it, I can also see why it was Pixar's least-critically-successful film to date. First of all, Larry the Cable Guy is best taken in small does (if at all). A little of Mater goes a long way, and there's far too much of him here. I suspect that Pixar may have taken the complaints that the original movie was too slow and lacking in plot to heart by adding too much action and enough plot to fill three movies.

On the other hand, some of the relationships still work well, including the charming wooing between Holley and Mater. It's nice to see how the current obsession with finding other fuel sources for vehicles is also worked in. I also liked the short sequence with Italian cars Guido and Luigi's family, not to mention some of the very funny spoofs of racing celebrities in car form.

Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Get Rid of Your Boss Without Really Trying

I slept in this morning, then finished The Secret Garden. I think I needed to read that. The classic story of two spoiled, unhappy children who are transformed by the encounter with a hidden garden in an old Northern English manor house was just what the doctor ordered. I've been feeling as crabby as Mistress Mary lately, and even less hopeful. I'm still a little confused, but I'm trying to set things straight.

I really didn't get to much else today. Got to the laundromat around 11:30. It wasn't busy, and I didn't have much to wash anyway. I was in and out.

I did find a very interesting book at the Haddon Township Library last week, Making Money With Your Computer at Home, and went through the first half while at the laundromat. The first part of the book has a listing of business ideas you can begin at home with little or no money, just using your computer. In addition to the obvious ones, like "Copywriter," I found many I liked, from ones involving condensing paragraphs for database companies and clipping online text and writing for indexes, to self-publishing and writing for web sites. Not all of that requires a portfolio, either. I'm really beginning to regret not having done this sooner. If I had a portfolio, I wouldn't be in the mess that I am.

When I got home, I put my laundry away, had leftovers for lunch, and ran 9 to 5. Given all my current work problems, I figured I needed this one. Now, I barely see my bosses, much less have problems with them. Things were quite different in the work place 30 years ago, as shy Judy (Jane Fonda) discovers when she joins a huge firm in New York as a secretary. Tough Violet (Lily Tomlin), a long-time employee, shows her around, but there's trouble a-brewin' in Consolidated Corporations, and it's all involving their obnoxious boss Frank (Dabney Coleman). He passes Violet over for a promotion because she's a woman and chases his sweet-natured secretary Doralee (Dolly Pardon, in her screen debut), despite the fact that they're both married.

All three women are quite fed up with their obnoxious boss, but it doesn't get beyond some very creative fantasies until Violet accidentally poisons him. Though the women initially try to reason with him, they discover that the lecherous boor is beyond listening. They do the one thing they can think of until some vital information on his activities comes through - they keep him bound in his own home while they proceed to make their office a far more pleasant place to work. However, he gets quite a shock when he returns and learns that the women have been running the place quite well in his absence, thank you.

I remember both loving and being a little mystified by this as a kid. Sure, the guy was mean, but the ladies sometimes weren't very nice, either, and the whole tying-the-boss-up thing just seemed a little weird. I do enjoy it more now that I've actually been in the workplace, including my two-year stint as an assistant secretary at the Stockton College Media Center that was a lot more pleasant than the ladies' experiences. (For one thing, by the late 90s-early 2000s, your standard copy machine could fit on a desk and only made a whirring noise. I never had any problems with them. And of course, I did all my writing on a computer and could easily backspace mistakes.)

Interestingly, while the clothes and hair don't look too bad (this being made in 1980, as the world was just beginning to go from 70s neutrals to 80s neon), the boxy technology and the sexist office morals, not to mention the drug-infused party that gets the ball rolling, date this one a bit. The party and the over-the-top tone make it kind of iffy for kids. For adults, especially women who have been secretaries or worked in offices, or for fans of the three leading ladies, this is still an awful lot of fun. (There was a stage musical version about a year or two ago. It wasn't a success on Broadway, but I think there is a cast album for it...and yes, it included the famous Pardon title song.)

It was too gorgeous outside today for work to be busy. There were lines during the rush hour, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad. I was in and out.

I also discovered why I've been getting so many hours lately. It's not just the college students being up to their elbows in classes. We're really short-handed. The head scan coordinator (head of prices and making sure the prices match up) husband just died, another manager is taking care of her sick husband, and I think someone in the meat department of another store recently passed away as well, and we had to send somebody to help them.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Extremely Loud & Way Too Close

Started a sunny, fairly warm (and windless) day off with Brunch With the Beatles.  The animated film Yellow Submarine was in the spotlight today. The Beatles dove headfirst into their catalog and came up with a rather odd grab-bag of songs from all over the place - the title number, "With a Little Help From My Friends," and "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" from Sgt. Pepper, the film's title song, "All Together Now," "Blue Jay Way," "Baby You're a Rich Man," "Eleanor Rigby," and the only song written directly for the film, "Hey Bulldog."

Called Mom while the second half of the Beatles show was running. I am feeling a little bit better right now than I did last week. I think I just really needed to get some errands done. I'm also under a lot of stress right now, thanks to a lot of hours and all the remodeling going on at work.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing classwork. The next part is going to be more complicated. My web site exists as an archive for mine and my friend Lauren's stories, not to sell anything. The assignment says to "evaluate your web site to see if it sells"...but it's not intended to sell. It's just a place to put stories so people can read them for free. I'm going to have to create a web site from scratch, and probably buy a domain name, too. I don't know if venture capital firms would be much  help for copywriting or freelance writing, but the autoresponders might. I don't even know how one would design a website for a copywriting or freelance writing business, which the class doesn't go into. I don't really know what I want to do for a business.

To be honest, I'm beginning to wonder if this was a bad idea. I'm not good at selling things, least of all myself. Not to mention, I really and truly do not have the experience required to be a copywriter or a freelance writer or any kind of writer. They require portfolios and editing experience, which I don't have. I haven't done any real writing in ages. And the final assignments require you to send press releases to TV and radio stations or magazines, ads to AOL or Yahoo, and find a business to partner with? I can't even decide what kind of business I want to do! I haven't done enough of the things I'm good at to be able to sell them.

Work didn't help me feel better. It was on-and-off busy through most of the night. They're still working on the back room, which means the employees are still eating in the cafe area and I still had to park my bike in the inventory area. I had some very rude people in the Express lane, including one older man who said he had hearing problems and shouted everything. He certainly didn't have problems giving me trouble. I just gave up talking to him all together and pointed to his payment. Another man criticized me for bagging too many cereal boxes in one bag. I was trying to make things easier on him! He could have been nicer about it. I don't know why I bother helping anyone at work half the time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everyone Knows It's Windy

The wind was roaring like the MGM Lion when I turned on the American Top 40 this morning. We blew into late February 1980 as disco wound down and country and British super groups heated up the charts. Hits included Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In the Wall," Kenny Rogers' "Coward of the County," Kenny Loggins' "This Is It," Fleetwood Mac's "Sara," Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," Andy Gibb's "Desire," and Donna Summer's "On the Radio."

That week's big hit came from one of the afore-mentioned British super groups. Queen had the majority of their best-known hits in the late 70s and early 80s, including their first to make it to #1, the peppy "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."

I had a LOT I needed to get done today, starting with a quick trip to the bank. After I left there, I rode straight up to the Logan Presbyterian Church to drop off more donations. I gave them some Christmas boxes I didn't need, a few more knick-knacks, the bag of stuffed Pokemon (I lost interest in Pokemon years ago), and three collectable bears. It was elbow-to-elbow in the main room with the clothing when I arrived at 10, and I couldn't figure out why until I remembered they were selling bags stuffed with as many clothes as you could get in them for two dollars. I don't really need much in the way of clothes right now, and I didn't see anything else I wanted, so I moved on.

The wind was at my back as I scurried up the White Horse Pike to Barrington. Barrington is the last town before you pass the entrance to the Expressway, and it's such a charming place, I wish I had the time to visit there more often. Like most of the towns in this area, it's has a lovely main street, including one of the coolest antique stores in the universe.

The Barrington Antique Center is an enormous 30s-40s barn of a place crammed to the rafters with every kind of antique you can imagine. Everywhere you turn, there's boxes of records and Victorian linens, shelves of Depression glassware and china, racks of books and dolls, chairs with stuffed animals and vintage gowns, and crates filled with ancient magazines, sheet music, and advertisements. It's one of the coolest stores anywhere. I never fail to walk out of there without something, and today was no exception. I turned up two American Girl Felicity books (Learns a Lesson and Saves the Day), both perfectly mint and with their original illustrations (Elizabeth is a brunette) and catalog-order cards in the back, and a really cute spoof of toy collecting, The Care and Feeding of Stuffed Animals.

I actually had less luck in the Deptford Mall area. Despite this being a Saturday, there just didn't seem to be much in the way of sales. There were only a few things I really needed anyway. I grabbed a few items at Target, including cooking spray and vanilla, that's genuinely cheaper there. Didn't see any hair clips or headbands I liked, though, and they had no interesting DVD or toy sales. Had a quick but tasty Veggie Lover's Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut for lunch.

I was pulling my red Isotoner gloves on when...ouch! I stepped on one of the large rocks from the landscaping and turned my left ankle. Thank goodness I could walk fine, but it was sore. I stumbled over to a very busy Deptford Mall.

(I actually prefer Deptford to Cherry Hill, for one big reason - it's pedestrian-friendly, with lots of sidewalks and narrower streets that are generally easier to cross.)

It may be just as well that I found even less at the mall. I took a look at CD/cassette/MP3 stereos at Sears and Boscov's, but I didn't see anything I liked and could afford. (The CD player on my Emerson stereo has been acting funny for ages.) The WebKinz sale at American Greetings was Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off. I only wanted one, and their original prices weren't all that great. The Disney Animator's Collection Belle at the Disney Store was on sale and tempting, but I finally decided to hold off on her until my birthday in April. I just ended up buying socks at Boscov's and JcPenney's. At least four or five pairs of socks have gotten holes in them in the last couple of weeks, and another pair looks like they're on the verge of doing so.

I got into Barrington around 4PM. I had a hot cocoa and black and white cookie at the Barrington Coffee Shop, then rode home in the gale-force winds. When I finally blew in, I made Feather Nutmeg Muffins and Chicken with Broccoli-Mushroom Sauce for dinner and ran the 1997 animated version of Anastasia.

Like most of Don Bluth's films, this is one peculiar animated musical. The title character is an feisty  orphan (voice of Meg Ryan) whose only clue to her identity is a key around her neck with the inscription "Together In Paris." On her arrival in Moscow, she encounters a pair of con men (John Cusack and Kelsey Grammer). They need a girl to play the part of the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia, so they can earn a reward from her grieving grandmother (Angela Landsbury). Anya's not at all sure at first, but she finally begins to enjoy the adventure...until it becomes obvious that someone doesn't want Anya reuniting with her family...

It sounds like a typical Disney movie from the 90s, doesn't it? Plucky heroine, cute puppy (although thankfully it doesn't talk), wisecracking animal sidekick, stage-worthy musical numbers, action, adventure, amazing animated set pieces. That's only on the surface. First of all, sassy Anya is no one's doormat. She's perfectly capable of taking care of herself and cracking her own jokes, thank you. (When she looks under a dress and Dimitri asks her what she's looking for, she replies "The Russian Circus! I think they're still in here!") Dimintri ain't no prince, either. Actually, he reminds me a lot of Flynn Rider from Tangled - the thief who goes good in the end.

What's really strange here is the villain. Rasputin can I put this delicately?...gross. He is literally falling apart, and no amount of quips from Bartok the White Bat can disguise the fact that a guy lurching around losing assorted body parts is more disgusting than funny. Doesn't help that he gets the film's worst number, "In the Dark of the Night," either. Almost nothing in the film has anything to do with real Russian history - it plays with the facts even more than the live-action Anastasia with Ingrid Bergman from the 50s.

The music, animation, and spirited Anya herself are the saving graces. The wonderful soundtrack, including the haunting "Once Upon a December," turned me into a fan of Broadway tunesmiths Lynn Aherns and Stephan Flahtery. There's some spectacular animation, including a really nifty sequence with a speeding train.

Rasputin's icky character and some fairly heavy violence (along with the muddled history)  puts this out of the realm of anyone under the age of 8, but older princesses who are just starting to look for their place in the world may find this fascinating.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An 80s Girl's Toy Land

I've been going through that Ghost of the Doll doll-identification site. I remember having so many of these, either me or one of my sisters...

Strawberry Shortcake - I loved my Strawberry Shortcake rag doll who really smelled like strawberries! Rose had Lemon Meringue. We received both for Christmas 1983. Mom has a picture of us unwrapping them at her place.

I know I had at least one of the actual Strawberry Shortcake vinyl dolls. I remember having her ride around in the little tricycle with the basket on the back! We had an Apple Dumpling figurine, too. All three of us chewed on poor Apple Dumpling at least once.

Care Bears - Oddly enough, despite all of us being big Care Bears fans, the only stuffed Care Bears I ever remember having in the 80s were the printed pillow dolls Mom sewed for us. I had Good Luck Bear. Rose had Funshine Bear. They were wonderfully comfortable to sleep on (to the point where I wish I still had Good Luck).

We did, however, have several of the poseable figurines. Wish Bear, Bedtime Bear, and Lotsa Heart Elephant ring bells. We had a bunch of the miniatures, too: Bedtime on a pillow, Funshine Bear as a majorette, Tenderheart with the balloons, and Gram Bear.

Oooh, we loved the Care Bear Play Dough set! We had the plastic molds, Cloud Car, and plastic placemat long after the dough itself was gone (or squished onto the floor, much to Mom's chagrin).

My Little Pony - I lost count of how many of these we had over the years. Mom gave us the Shower for Christmas one year. We used the Pegasus that came with it, Sprinkles, as the shier twin of feisty Firefly for nearly a decade. (They had exactly the same mold and electric blue hair color, but different body colors and markings. Sprinkles was lavender with ducks on her rump. Firefly was pink and had lightning bolts.) A friend of my parents' gave us the Show Stable, which was used as the Ponies home base later in the 80s and in the early 90s.

Others I remember:

Moonstone, the lovely rainbow-haired unicorn, was one of the earliest ponies we had and a favorite of Rose's. She was usually played as a gentle mystic.

Ember, a mail-in order, was the first Baby Pony. For years, she was the only baby we had, often played as the sweet naive child whom the others protect.

We had both Megan and Sundance and Molly and Baby Sundance. The two sisters were friends to many dolls in addition to the ponies. Sundance mere and fille were their two beloved favorites.

Though Morning Glory's Flutter wings broke off early, we still let her fly as a lead scout.

We had quite a few of the So-Soft (flocked) ponies - Lofty (a rather ditzy mane stylist), Buttons (a bossy teacher), North Star (a fair-minded motherly type), Surprise (a partier), Cupcake (a baker), Cherries Jubilee (goofy jokester), Shady (beach lover), and my personal favorite for many years, the sassy Paradise. I loved Paradise so much, I had her long after we'd gotten rid of or given away most of the others.

(I was also fond of fancy-printed Sugarberry and scented Strawberry Surprise. Gee, can you tell what fruit and color I've always loved? ;) )

Pretty lavender Spring Song was our sole Sweetheart Sister Pony, the graceful elder sibling of most of the Ponies.

Anny's favorite Pony for ages was our only Twinkle-Eyed Pony, Sweet Pop. She was also crazy about her baby Ponies Shaggy and Tappy and glittery Sunspot, one of the later sparkle-themed Ponies. 

We even had boy Ponies! In fact, my other favorite Pony besides Paradise was our only large Boy, Barnacles, who had a bright red mane and a pirate theme. (Anny had our only other Boy pony, a baby named Leaper.) A few other Ponies who were originally female were later re-characterized into males.

We were so crazy about My Little Pony, Mom found us a few other similar lines in the late 80s. Fairy Tales were birds with long brushable tails and feet you could clip onto your finger. Little Pretties was a similar concept, but with cats and dogs with fancy hair replacing the birds. (I definitely recognize Rosebud and Mimi on the latter.)

Keypers - These cute animals had backs you could open with a key and use to hold teasures. I had Tango the bright orange LadyBug, her cute change-holder pal Taps, and their matching orange Twist Finder. Taps vanished quickly, but Tango was around for ages as slow-but-sweet transportation for other toys. The huge key, which I put on a long shoe string so I wouldn't lose it, outlasted the toys. My brother had that in his room well into the 90s.

Fashion Star Fillies - Normally, Rose the Tomboy wouldn't be caught dead near a line with a title like this...but she was also a horse fanatic. I remember Cloe mainly because we used her pink fur-trimmed cape as a wrap for Barbies, My Little Ponies, and Disney Princesses.

We had at least one doll each from short-lived lines like Hollywoods (the one with the purple and yellow hair), Rose Petal Place (we had more of the books for that line than the dolls!), and Smooshees.

Anny was crazy about Wee Wild Things in the late 80s. She had all of the dolls but one and one of the sets, the one shaped like a hamburger.

"Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting..."

I slept in a little this morning; didn't get to the gym until around quarter of 11. It was busy, but not too bad, and there were no classes going on. I had my best stationary bike session yet; was nice and sweaty when I finished. I really have to keep the resistance high on that one. It took me a bit longer to work on the machines for the legs and chest, since there were quite a few people in that area. I was able to stretch afterwards on the carpeted square stage used for classes afterwards.

Went to the Acme next. I've come to prefer doing my shopping and picking up my paycheck in the morning after a gym trip, rather than after work when I'm tired. Most of what I needed was a fruit, vegetable, and chicken restock - the Acme is having some pretty good chicken sales this week. The Acme is finally carrying Reynolds Parchment Paper, which means I was able to use the coupons I have from the boxes I bought at Super Fresh. Bought brown sugar, yogurt, mousse mix (on sale), and apple concentrate to replace items used for baking this week. I'll use wraps for at work meals until I can make bread.

When I got home, I put everything away, then ran Kung-Fu Panda while having leftovers for lunch and baking Orange-Chocolate Chip Brownies. Po (voice of Jack Black) is a laid-back, rolly-polly panda bear in ancient China who works with his crane father in their noodle shop. Po, however, wants to become a great martial artist like his heroes, the Fearsome Five. He gets his chance when a prophet turtle declares him to be the great Dragon Warrior. The Fearsome Five and their teacher are less than impressed with gentle Po's lack of skills, but while he has a great deal to learn, it turns out he has a few things to teach them, too...

I'm not a really big fan of most of Dreamworks' animated movies. I lost interest in the Shrek franchise ages ago, haven't bothered with Shark's Tale, still haven't gotten to The Road to El Dorado (though my brother loved it), and thought Sinbad was only so-so. I was impressed with How to Train Your Dragon, though, and this one is equally good. I love the "follow your heart - learn your own way" moral, and that no student has to be left behind if a teacher can find a way for them to learn. Jack Black has a lot of fun as Po, but I wish the much-touted "Fearsome Five" (including Angelina Jolie as tough Tigress) had more to do.

Work was slightly busier than yesterday and much shorter on help, thanks to call-outs. Otherwise, it was pretty much the same as the last two days, and should remain so. We're between holidays again. Things will likely pick up a bit this week as we go into the beginning of the month, but once we get past that, there isn't another really major event until the Easter and Jewish spring holidays kick in.

Actually, the worst problem we're having has absolutely nothing to do with customers. They're still remodeling the back room, and now I'm hearing they won't be done until the end of next week! Ugh. Where are we supposed to eat? The cafe between the deli and the bakery is for customers. And where am I going to put my bike?

Oh, and my schedule's much better. Though I once again only have one day off, that means my hours can be more spread-out, with nothing later than 8:30.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Balance and the Business Classes

Started a sunny, above-average-warm morning with a yoga class. Today, we worked on getting into lotus pose. Basically, you sit cross-legged and try to pull one ankle on top of the other. Needless to say, I'm not coordinated enough to pull that one off yet.

The Collingswood Library was my next stop. There was a nice little pile of DVDs to shelve. I organized the shelves as well - the kids' shelves really needed it. I also pulled a couple of titles that needed to be relabeled.

Headed out a bit earlier than usual and went straight home. I wanted to work on my class assignment after lunch. I finally decided that what I had was enough and sent it to the teacher. (I forgot and sent him the assignment for the other class as well - it's supposed to be self-directed. Oops.) He said it was fine, but I need to not attach it to an e-mail next time. (He never said how he wanted it sent.)

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - steady during rush hour, quiet otherwise. The biggest problems occurred beyond the front end. First of all, they're now working on remodeling the other side of the break room, which means we have to eat in the cafe between the bakery and the deli, and I had to park my bike in the back of the loading dock. Second, apparently an older woman fell down somehow. I didn't see it, but I did see her with one of the managers. She seemed more dizzy than hurt.

Oh, and I got another outfit for Molly today. Her After-School Outfit was one of the line of play/work outfits and dresses released for the then-existing American Girls in 1991. Unfortunately, all of them had been retired by the time I started collecting again. The outfit consists of a blue and red plaid flannel shirt, navy corduroys, and navy ribbons for her braids. I got a Pre-Mattel version on eBay that came with all three, plus a hanger and a plastic garment bag. I absolutely adore it. I'm surprised Jessa didn't get it for Molly when she had her. Other than the pants Velcro on the side, it looks like something a perfectly normal kid would wear even now after-school or on the weekends. There's two buttons missing, and I really paid too much for it, but if you can find this outfit for a decent price used, it's very much worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Signs of Spring

Began a gorgeous morning with the tail end of In Old Chicago. 20th Century Fox's attempt to out-disaster MGM's hit San Francisco is a fictional account of the events leading up to the devastating fire that destroyed most of Chicago in 1871. The O'Leary brothers are quite an opposite pair - Dion (Tyrone Power) runs a fancy saloon, courts a singer (Alice Faye), and bribes every official in town, while Jack (Don Ameche) is a lawyer out to clean up "the Patch," the slums where they grew up and their mother (Alice Brady) still lives and works. There's soap opera a-plenty. Brady disapproves of Faye's performing job while Dion essentially buys the mayoral election for Jack, which angers his brother to no end. There's also Gill Stratton (Brian Donlevy), the corrupt politician who ran against Jack and lost, to contend with. Who runs the Patch becomes a moot point when it's burning down, and Dion discovers just how important his family is when they're all running for their lives in one of the worst disasters old Chicago ever knew...

Alice Brady won the Oscar for her performance as the strong-willed Mrs. O'Leary, but the real stars of the film, even today, are the amazing fire special effects that comprise the final 20 minutes of the film. Those are real miniatures burning, real cows stampeding, and real buildings blowing to smithereens, and it still looks impressive. This was Fox's big blockbuster for 1938, and despite all the melodrama, it's still pretty easy to see why. Faye, Ameche, and Power worked so well together, they were paired up again in the following year's Alexander's Ragtime Band, which would be an even bigger hit.

By the time I finished the Biography episode on Don Ameche, it was too late to hit the gym, my original plan for today. It may have been a good thing. It was so beautiful by 11:30, I threw on a sweater and went for a walk. Not surprisingly, given the unusually warm weather we've had all winter, there's already signs of spring in the neighborhood. I saw a garden filled with the first crocuses of the year as I headed down Manor.

Did a quick volunteering session at the Oaklyn Library. The kindergarten kids were just heading out as I was heading in. I was able to organize the DVDs and pull Dr. Seuss books for the next theme in the children's area, but I couldn't do a lot of shelving. There were some people who looked like they were preparing to repair or redo the shelves that held the picture books. I decided to just let them do their job and headed out.

Made a quick stop at WaWa for milk, then at Doria's Deli for paper muffin cup liners (their prices on muffin liners is far better than any chain store). I was dismayed to hear Mrs. Doria say that she's contemplating closing the store. They aren't getting nearly enough business to stay open anymore. She's hoping that a new coffee shop that might be opening next-door and a new mayor might be more receptive to Oaklyn's faltering downtown businesses. They apparently want to keep traffic down...but how can you have a downtown without traffic?

I headed home for episodes of Sailor Moon and an omelet with winter vegetables for lunch. Headed out to work after I finished. Work was quiet for most of the night. It was steady during rush hour, but otherwise, I shelved candy and helped the other cashiers stock the registers with brown paper bags.

There's quite a bit of remodeling going on right now, too. In addition to all the rearranging and the bathrooms being redone, the tile floor in the back room is being completely replaced, which means it's a mess there now. Thank goodness they seem to have gotten the message and put up larger signs indicating that the bathrooms are unisex until the remodeling ends.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Catching Up to Do

I intend to spend this week catching up on a lot of things I've been wanting to do, but either haven't had the time for or just plain haven't gotten around to. I started a chilly but sunny morning off with this week's run to the laundromat. It was surprisingly busy for early in the day, about 9:30 when I got in. I was just able to get a washer. Driers were easier, though there were still a lot of people when I left.

When I arrived home, I put the laundry away, then went right back out. I normally would have gone to the Haddon Township Library first...and I actually turned onto Newton River Park before I remembered I was going the wrong way. I needed to go to Collingswood first.

One of the things I've had to put off is getting my haircut. I usually get it sometime in mid-late February. I thought about doing it last week, but I got it done on the week of Valentine's Day last year, and I ended up spending several hours running to every salon in town...and almost all of them had a line.

I wanted to go to Haddon Hair Designs, but they were closed again. (I could have sworn I've seen them open...) I ended up back at the Hair Cuttery. This time, a guy did my hair (the girl who did it in August having left in the meantime). I must say, he did a very nice job on it. I had it cut a little shorter than I did last summer, to just below my shoulders. I like it shorter in the spring, since it gets so hot in summer.

After my hair was done, I headed to Rite-Aid next-door to buy some things I needed, then went out to lunch. West Side Gravy is basically a gourmet diner across the street from the Pop Shop, in the same building as a karate school and a dance troupe. Their menu consists of fancier versions of comfort food, like PB & J made with brioche and peanut/cashew butter and Cheesesteak and onions in egg roll wraps.

I ended up with the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup "Big Plate." It was delicious. The sandwich had three different cheeses (I nixed the fourth because I don't like American) on thick brioche slices. The soup was really more of a creamy tomato puree, and while it was a bit too salty, it was certainly thicker and tastier than anything you'd get from a can. That "big plate" wasn't all that big, either. I had no problems finishing it. Though it claims it's for a family audience, this is really for people who want diner-style food without the Pop Shop's perpetual noise and overstimulation for a similar price.

Rode over to the Haddon Township Library next for my volunteer session there. Truthfully, there wasn't much to do. They had plenty of help to shelve children's books and DVDs. For the first time in weeks, though, I had the time to take out DVDs and books. I ended up with the movies In Old Chicago, Kung Fu Panda, and 9 to 5, along with the newest Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set, I Love Minnie. I also took out a book on starting a computer-based at-home business and the newest Daisy Dalyrumple and Maisie Dobbs mysteries.

Made short stops at Super Fresh and Dollar Tree after leaving the library. I didn't see the individual packs of yeast I like at Super Fresh, nor the sticks of Smart Balance spread. (Super Fresh must have stopped carrying them too, or they were discontinued.) I did get things to make a pudding pie. Picked up two packs of sponges at Dollar Tree.

It was cloudy, cold, and windy when I finally made it home. Still feeling tropical, I made a Blood Orange-Coconut-Strawberry Mousse Pie, then ground chicken burgers with roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner while I ran Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. As you can guess, the ladies of the Clubhouse were generally in the spotlight. The cutest was the title episode, as Daisy prepared a surprise party for Minnie while the others tried to keep her busy and away from the Clubhouse. The St. Patrick's Day episode, with Leprechaun Pete trying to keep the "Clubhouse Rainbowers" from chasing his pot of gold, was enjoyable as well.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In the Wrong Place on the Shelf

I spent most of a gorgeous, sunny President's Day at work. Work was off-and-on busy until the usual 4PM-6PM rush hour, when people who normally would have been working came in with huge orders. We had long lines and not nearly enough help. A lot of employees wouldn't work on a holiday.

The lack of help wasn't the only problem. The store is in the midst of remodeling the men's bathroom. Trouble is, they have to keep it locked while it's being done. That means everyone, male and female, had to use the women's bathroom. The Acme dealt with this by putting a lock on the bathroom door. A sign on the door said that people  had to lock the door while they were in the bathroom. Around mid-day, they started assigning people to stand next to the bathroom door to make sure no one of the opposite sex went in.

Yes, I was one of the people who got stuck doing this. I spent a boring, embarrassing hour and a half standing around, staring at the clearance racks that looked like a disaster area and trying to avoid being seen. No one really paid attention to the sign, and everyone I talked to, employee and customer alike, though the whole thing was just plain silly. There are four stalls in the women's bathroom, and they do lock. Thank heavens I was finally able to go on my half-hour break. When I came back, they'd assigned a bagger to guard duty, and he stayed there the rest of the evening.

Thank goodness it slowed down enough that I was able to leave with no relief by 7:30. I was tired and ready to tear out my hair. I'm not used to working 8 1/2 hours.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cry for a Shadow

I slept in a bit this morning. Read The Secret Garden in bed while listening to the beginning of Brunch With the Beatles. George Harrison, whose birthday was in late February, was in the spotlight today. Along with the instrumental number that provided the title for this entry (the only song he wrote with John Lennon), we heard "Don't Bother Me," "Here Comes the Sun," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Savoy Truffle," "Something," and "Tax Man." His solo numbers included "My Sweet Lord" and two favorites of mine, "All Those Years Ago" and "I've Got My Mind Set On You."

I had a long chat with Mom this morning about my recent difficulties. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm cut out for doing anything at home. I lack discipline. I had trouble doing research in college, both online and in the regular library, because I'd end up reading what I felt like and not what I was supposed to be researching! I'd look at one thing, and one thing would lead to another thing, and pretty soon, an hour or two would disappear without any real work getting done.

And I'm just nervous about the whole thing. I've worked in a grocery store for ten years. The only thing I really want is to get very, very, very far away from that job and have a day job that's closer to what I want to do while I get my business started. Trouble is, that job provides a steady paycheck and health insurance. I'm chained to that job. I live alone; no one else is paying for me but me.

And then, there's my inability to focus. I haven't finished a story on my own in ages. Almost every story I've ever tried to write has ended prematurely, either because I couldn't figure out how to continue, or I just lost interest. How can I be a writer if I can't finish anything?

Mom and Rose are always insisting that I think logically. I'm not a logical person. I'm an emotional person. I have no idea how to really make a strategy, or where I should go next. I looked up life coaches last night, but most of them cost over $100 a session! That's why I didn't do it last year. I really want to find someone I can discuss my job search with, but not if it'll break the bank.

Taking one of Mom's suggestions to heart, I went outside after we got off to sweep the porch. We should be seeing the last of them by the end of this month. I want to get outside more, but I have so much going on right now. It's hard to fit everything in. I want to go for walks and work on classes and go to the gym and do yoga once a week and write and work at the Acme and keep up my usual schedule.

I also tried calling my friend Pattie. I've put it off longer than I should have. I really hate phone conversations, though. I don't mind talking to Mom once a week, but I'd rather chat with someone online or see them in person. Alas, her answering machine was full. I couldn't even leave a message.

I went to work after that. Work was very busy tonight. People were in somewhat better moods, but I wasn't. I feel empty at work. Like I'm a machine who just pushes people's food through the line and takes their money, and that's all I do. I'm a robot, and I do nothing else. Other than the usual empty feeling, everything went fine. There were no major problems, and I left on my own, since my relief was the college boy who is always late coming from his other job.

Oh, and I did hear from Pattie when I got  home. She's not able to get together this week, but she says we might try next week. She owns a massage business, and I really need to talk to someone who'll understand how it feels to try to be your own boss.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

When You Need a Hand

Began a gorgeous, sunny, windy day with some reading and a fast errand and volunteering run. Hit the bank to deposit my paycheck, then walked down to the Oaklyn Library. They're separating the TV DVD sets, the nonfiction/documentary DVDs, and the adult fiction DVDs again. There's plenty of room for them on the other side of the shelf where the children's DVDs are. I pulled the remaining TV and documentary titles and organized everything. (I also suggested that the librarians find colored stickers or color-coded labels for the TV and nonfiction titles, like they did with the children's titles, to keep them from ending up in the wrong place.) I also worked on organizing the children's books.

When I got home, I had leftover Orange Chicken Stir Fry for lunch, then worked on my project for an hour. I didn't get very far. I just can't think of any businesses that would be online that I could list and make it sound creative. I have seen some on Entrepreneur Magazine's website, but I didn't want to sound like I was copying them.

Work was even worse. You'd think the nice day would put people in decent moods, but I was in the express lane and had a lot of annoying people in a hurry, or people who gave me one hundred orders on how to bag without lifting a finger to help themselves. And then there were the folks who threw a fit because the Marie Callender Coconut Cream Pie wasn't on sale for $2.99. (It was the small ones that were $2.99, but they though the sign said the big ones and wouldn't listen).

I don't want to go back to the Acme. That job is frustrating, stressful, and demeaning. The trouble is, I have no idea of how to find another day job...because I'm not going to be able to start a writing or editing business overnight, no matter how many classes I take. I debated looking for a job coach or a life coach last year. I gave up the idea because of the expense, but I may just bite the bullet and do it anyway. I've really hit a dead wall. I can't stand working as a cashier anymore, but I don't know where to go next, or how to get a day job I can handle better that'll still pay the rent...because whatever I've been doing for the past 10 years hasn't worked. I need help to decide what my next step should be, someone who knows what they're doing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Working Out

Started today off with a run to the gym. I got there around 10:30; it was a little busy, though nothing like later in the evening. Worked on my legs, rear, and stomach muscles first, then hit the stationary bike. I got my best workout yet from the bike. In fact, I think I overdid it. I put the resistance up to 8, and somehow shot my heart rate up to 173 during a 25-minute bike ride! I'll either put the resistance down a bit next time or just go slower.

The Acme was my next stop. I wanted to pick up my paycheck and do some grocery shopping. Most of what I needed was fruit and vegetables - blood oranges, grapefruit, bananas, pears, and broccoli (the latter two on sale). I was disappointed to see that they no longer carry the Smart Balance sticks, though they do still have the tubs. Otherwise, most of what I needed was restocking - organic salt-free chicken stock, aluminum foil (I ran out this morning), chicken drumsticks, orange and apple concentrate, canola oil, and white cooking wine.

When I got home, I finished That's Entertainment (which I started during breakfast this morning) while putting away the groceries. Ran Good Eats episodes on winter vegetables while eating crock-pot chicken legs and roasted Brussels sprouts for lunch.

Spent an hour or so working on my assignment. I'm supposed to come up with a list of online businesses you can start. My first two were selling media and doll clothes. I'll work further on this assignment tomorrow afternoon before work and next week.

Work was off-and-on busy all night. Given this is a holiday weekend, I thought it would be much worse. The nice weather (it was sunny, breezy, and in the 50s today) may have encouraged people to leave for the Shore or the Poconos early. By the time I left, it was pin-drop quiet.

My schedule for next week isn't too bad. On one hand, I have two days off again, and nothing later than 8:30. On the other hand...I'll be working for 8 1/2 hours on Monday. I guess everyone else wanted to go away that day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Balance and That Crazy Woodpecker

Started out a damp, cloudy day with this week's yoga class. We worked on heart and hip opening today. In order to communicate with others better, we did our opening meditation back-to-back with another classmate. At least the girl I sat behind had a warm back!

We did some very difficult moves today. I had a very hard time. I hate having to modify the moves, especially when everyone else is doing them normally and bending all over the place. I wish they had some of the gentler yoga classes in the morning. I can't always make the afternoon gentle vinyasa courses.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after class let out. They were having the tail end of their Storybook Hour when I arrived. I mostly shelved children's DVDs. Helped a few kids find titles when they finished.

After the kids left, there wasn't much to do, so I went straight home. I noticed on my ride that the small antique shop across from the library seems to have closed. That's not surprising. The old man who owned the shop was selling everything 50% off the last time I was there, and he was never opened all that often. He probably retired.

In happier news, it looks like a new business is finally moving into the former Friends In Deed Thrift Shop store front. I'm hoping for another thrift shop. I really miss Friends In Deed. While I do like helping the Logan Church Thrift Shop, they're only open every two weeks. It would be nice to have a place to donate my things that's available at least five or six days a week.

It was sprinkling when I walked my bike over to the Library. The rain picked up as I rode home, and continued for the rest of the evening. I had leftover Orange Chicken Stir Fry for lunch, finished the last disc of the Woody Woodpecker and Friends DVD set, and baked a loaf of Orange Chocolate Chip Tea Bread.

Walter Lantz's creations kept rolling right along into the Nifty Fifties...even as other studios were shutting down their animated shorts divisions. Even more than Warners, Lantz' animators loved to have fun with topical gags and situations. More than a quarter of the Woody cartoons had either science fiction or Old West settings, as per the Fifties' twin obsessions with the New and Old Frontier. Several cartoons were inspired by Universal movies, including "Maw and Paw" and "The Ostrich Egg and I" (both take-offs on the smash hit movie The Egg and I and its subsequent spin-off  the "Ma & Pa Kettle" series).

Woody himself didn't change all that much in this period; if anything, he became even more of a heckler than before. Even the addition of his twin niece and nephew Splinter and Knothead (both voiced by June Foray) didn't slow Woody down. Buzz Buzzard was prominent in early and mid-50s shorts, but was eventually replaced by the more conventional goon Dooley. Wally Wallrus made rare appearances on his own or with Chilly Willy, Lantz's other major star of the 50s and 60s. Also first appearing in this time period were Windy and Breezy, the father and son bear pair always out to find a free lunch, and ever-watchful Inspector Willoughby.

It was raining harder by the time I went to work, but not so hard that I couldn't ride. Work wasn't too bad when I came in, but it was on-and-off busy for most of the night. It's the beginning of the President's Day Weekend, the second four-day-holiday-weekend of the year (and the last until we get closer to Easter and the Jewish spring holidays), and a lot of people probably got off early. There were some mildly annoying customers, otherwise no problems, and I was in and out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Welcome to the Business World

I slept in a bit this morning, then took down the Valentine's Day decorations after breakfast and finish The Pirate Movie, which I started after I Married an Angel ended last night.The majority of my Valentine's Day items are paper hearts and cards from relatives. I have a bear tin, two paper hangings I picked up from the thrift shop in Collingswood before they shut down, and some odds and ends. (I also have two boxes of Valentines intended for children that I haven't really used. I may give those away, donate them, or get rid of them.)

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon starting my online classes. The shorter one is "Finding a Legit At-Home Business," and as of right now, it just involves reading two books and answering the self-evaluation questions at the end of each chapter. "Starting and Growing a Business on the Internet" is more complicated. I need to read the first two chapters, do some research and make a list of businesses that can started on the Internet and products that can be sold online for my first assignment, then take a quiz. I'll do that tonight and Friday afternoon. (I don't think I'll get in fast enough from the Collingswood Library to do it tomorrow - I do want to keep up my regular schedule as much as I can.)

I had the last of the beef stew for lunch while watching more Walter Lantz cartoons, then went to work. Work was on-and-off busy during rush hour, so quiet by the time I finished that I spent a lot of the last couple of hours putting candy away.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Very Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! I know a lot of people don't like this holiday. "It's only for couples!" "It exists so people will buy cards and candy!" "What if you're not in love?" "What if you're not romantic?"

The complainers are missing the point. There's many different kinds of love in the world, and many other ways of showing that you care besides a fancy card and a box of chocolates. What about getting together with your friends and having a movie night? Or doing something nice for your parents. Or tossing in an extra round of video games with your best guy or gal pal.

While I don't have a significant other, I had a fun day anyway. It was still cloudy and chilly when I got up early to go to the laundromat. I was in there around 9:30...and the place was quiet. The couple who was finishing their laundry had just gone outside. The TV wasn't even on. The manager and a repairman who needed to fix a faulty washer showed up later, but by the time they were getting  busy, I was on my way out.

I ran a couple of Valentine's Day specials this morning and after I got in. I did Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers and the two Winnie the Pooh Valentine's cartoons during breakfast. Put on Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown while I folded and returned my laundry to the drawers it belonged in.

I rode to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteer session around a quarter to 12. The clouds that made this morning so cold were clearing out by then, and it was becoming a really lovely day. It was so nice, I was too warm in my heavy black coat and new insulated gloves. Newton River Park was filled with dog-walkers, joggers, lovers going for a stroll, and little kids and their parents running around the playground. Ducks enjoyed a leisurely lunch-hour glide around the river.

The Library was also quiet, not a surprise on a nice day and a holiday. There weren't many books or DVDs for me to put away. I pulled foreign and kids' movies from the adult DVD rack and adult DVDs from the kids' racks, then turned the kids titles over to the librarian in charge of visual media to be labeled more clearly. (I also didn't take anything out myself. I have plenty to watch at home, and a lot of things going on right now anyway.)

You'd never know it was the same day when I got out of the library. The sun was shining brightly, the clouds were mostly gone, and while it was still windy, it wasn't nearly as bad as the last few days. I had a very nice ride through Westmont and Audubon over to Simply Soups. I saw a carpenter working on the floor in the storefront that had once housed Act Two Collectibles as I rode by, and I wondered who would be moving in.

I got my answer when I arrived at Simply Soups. They had signs in their window and in the restaurant saying they're moving...two doors down to the former Act Two shop! That's perfect. It's a nicer and much larger store, and being on a corner (and a block from the White Horse Pike), they'll probably get even more drive-by business.

After a delicious cup of Italian Wedding Soup and Saltines, I made a brief stop at Willie the Woodsman and Wife's in the next building over. They moved their WebKinz to the children's room in the second floor. They still didn't have any I really wanted, so I just headed out empty-handed.

I did much better at Abbie Road. Bob was having a sale on used CDs, and he had a very full rack of records, too. I ended up with two records:

The Seekers - Georgy Girl (I've never seen the movie, but I love that song and "Red Rubber Ball")

The original Broadway cast of South Pacific with Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza (also a cassette replacement)

The CD sale yielded seven discs:

The American Song Book series: Rodgers & Hart and Jules Styne (Collections of various pop vocalists singing standards by these gentlemen)

Wynton & Ellis Marsalis - Joe Cool's Blues (Classic Vince Guaraldi compositions mixed with Wynton Marsalis' own material)

George Winston - Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi

Five For Fighting - American Town and The Battle for Everything

Uncle Kracker - No Time for Shame (Yes, I'm aware of the explicit content label...but I love their version of "Drift Away")

I made it to America's Best at 3 on the dot. For once, they didn't make me wait very long. They even had good news for me. My stigmatic right eye has improved slightly, but not enough to change my prescription. I ordered my usual three months supply of contacts.

While I was there, I asked the eye doctor about the possibility of laser surgery at Will's Eye Hospital in Philly. The answer was what I expected - out of the question. My eyes are just too bad. They'd have to slice through too much cornea, and there would be too much risk involved. Oh well. I don't mind wearing contacts and glasses.

It was so beautiful when I left, I went straight home instead of to Lucile Roberts. It was just too lovely to be sitting in a gym! I went for a walk to WaWa instead. There were lots of people out and about, enjoying the weather and the holiday. Kids rode bikes together. Couples walked and chatted. People gabbed on their porches. Parents pushed children in strollers; college students walked their dogs. I treated myself to two Dark Chocolate Reeses Cups and a mix of hot chocolate and Chai tea (since the WaWa's Chai is rather weak - it came out very well) as I headed home.

I used the Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix I bought on sale to make Orange-Strawberry-Coconut Cookies - the mix with coconut, chopped strawberries, orange concentrate, two egg whites, and slightly less vegetable oil than called for. They came out yummy, very sweet and very citrus-y!

Did A Charlie Brown Valentine while I worked on the cookies, then I Married an Angel during my dinner of Orange Chicken Stir Fry. Count Palafi (Nelson Eddy) is a high-living playboy who is supposed to be in charge of one of the biggest banks in Budapest. His second-in-command (Reginald Owen, unrecognizable in a huge beard) wants him to take a wife, but he'd rather have the chorus girls he runs around with. The night of his birthday, he dreams that the little secretary everyone at work made fun of (Jeanette MacDonald) is really an angel sent to give him the perfect mate.

The Count learns the hard way to be careful what you wish for when the angel turns out to be literally too good to be true. She objects to the real animal feathers and fur used in her new wardrobe, offends the snooty bank examiners and their wives by telling them the truth about themselves, and unknowingly flirts with the owner of the bank's rival (Douglass Dumbrille). One of the Count's former girlfriends (Binnie Barnes) makes the Angel over to be more like the chorus girls he usually dates...but the Count is even less thrilled when the makeover proves to be too successful!

I don't know why this one doesn't rank higher with fans. I thought it was adorable. MacDonald in particular has a high time playing angel and devil, and Eddy has his fun moments, too. (Him trying to get to Jeanette during her solo number is a scream.) I loved Binnie Barnes and MacDonald's little swing dance routine when Barnes is trying to teach her how to be a bit more devilish.

This was a flop when it came out in 1942, and I think the main problem may have been wrong movie at the wrong time. A fluffy romantic fantasy (set in Europe, to boot) wasn't the best thing to be releasing during the height of World War II. MacDonald and Eddy had been at the top since 1935 and had pretty much worn out their welcome, too. There's also the fact that it's a bit on the surreal side, especially the montage towards the end when Eddy keeps imagining MacDonald and Dumbrille in a series of increasingly outlandish settings.

Not the best of their movies to start out with, but if you're a fan, this is a big improvement over their previous two vehicles and a lot of fun to watch.

Monday, February 13, 2012

To All the Dolls I've Loved Before

I got up early this morning so I could work on reorganizing the top of the stand-alone closets before work. The collectible bears, porcelain dolls, small dolls, and some of the Effanbee 70s and 80s hard-plastic dolls sit here. I removed two more bears and another pile of small knick-knacks for donations. I then took advantage of the bare space and did some dusting. (I only dust under the dolls every couple of months. It just takes a while.) I placed the remaining dolls back on the closets, adding three more Effanbee dolls (the Musketeer doll D'Artagnan, Russian International doll Sonya, and Snow White) to the group already there (Mother "Greta" Goose, Puerto Rican International doll Carlotta, Thailand International doll Tup Tim, and Mary Had a Little Lamb).

Speaking of the Effanbee dolls, I don't know when I'm going to get to it, but I think it's time they got a good cleaning. They're all dusty. Elphaba (Wicked Witch of the West), Queenie (Queen of Hearts), and Tup Tim wear badly faded clothes. Glinda's gigantic ruffled gown is raveling like crazy. Dorothy's ribbons need to be retied. Mary and the Scarecrow keep losing their hats. The elastic is gone on Greta's petticoat, and I probably need to tie it to her torso. I might see if I can do it next month, after the mid-winter holiday furor dies down.

I had just enough time to pack my backpack for a trip to the gym later, throw together lunch and a snack, and head off to work. No problems getting to work today; it was still windy, but sunny, clear, and a bit less cold than yesterday, probably in the upper 30s. Work went very quickly. We were off-and-on all day, and other than two call-outs that resulted in a lack of help, there were  no major problems. My relief was right on time.

I wanted to stop by America's Best before I hit the gym to order my next round of contacts. They're just a few doors down from Lucile Roberts. Alas, it would seem my prescription has expired. I had to schedule an appointment for tomorrow. Oh well. I'll just move my second gym day to tomorrow evening instead of Friday morning. (Though I'd still like to do the grocery shopping Friday - I like doing it in the morning much better than trying to get it done after work.)

Headed for the gym next. I made my way through the row of people waiting for their class to begin as the current step class ended and over to the bathrooms to change. After I was in the appropriate attire, I went into the main room to stretch and begin my workout. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical machine today and ten minutes of strength work on my arms. (I wanted to do more with my arms, but the hand weights were being used by both the class and a personal trainer.)

After I got out of the gym, I headed across the street to TuSeBella for two slices of pizza with vegetables and a bottle of water, then headed home. There were clouds on the horizon, and it's still windy, but otherwise, it's a lovely night.

There was a package in the mail when I got in. The newly-released Warner Archives copy of I Married an Angel had arrived. Awesome! It'll be great for Valentine's Day tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Independent Women

Started a late morning off with Brunch With the Beatles. In honor of Valentine's Day, "Love Songs" was the episode's theme. Group ballads included "I Will," "If I Fell," "Something," "She Loves You," "Michelle," and "Can't Buy Me Love." Romantic solo tunes included "Photograph," "Woman," "Just Like Starting Over," and of course "Silly Love Songs."

I made Chocolate Chip-Pear Pancakes and Pear-Apple Compote for breakfast, then called Mom. Mom's in quite a good mood. She's been working on her typing skills. She was in school in the 60s and 70s, well before it was mandatory to take typing classes. She's up to 20 words a minute now after teaching herself on various computer programs. I'm so proud of her! She says she she learns enough, she hopes to take online business courses.

That's something we have in common. I've come to realize that I don't know if I really could work for someone else, or at least, not for another big corporation. I don't like being lost in a large company. I'm not Gregory Peck. I like making my own rules and setting my own hours. At least, when I change my rules and hours, I know I'm doing it. I don't belong at the Acme, and I never have. It was supposed to be a means to and end, a way to make money while I was in college, not the end itself. I'm too independent to really fit into a corporate setting.

After I got off the phone, I did the breakfast dishes, then puttered around in my room. I worked on the inventories, including adding my newest DVDs. I did more clearing out. I'm not really into Pokemon anymore. That ship sailed a decade ago. It's time to pass the Pokemon toys I was given in college and later onto kids who still enjoy the show. The bag went in the Back Room to be delivered to the church at the next thrift shop day. I moved the two Lady Lovely Locks dolls (I have a third coming that I got off eBay) and some of the smaller stuffed animals onto the shelf where the Pokemon were.

As for snow, I think we got about an inch...but despite it being in the middle 30s and very windy, once again, the snow refused to stick to the sidewalks and streets. I was easily able to get to and from work. Work was crazy-busy again up until about 5:30, after which it quieted down to the point where I was able to shut down with no relief.

The snow is almost entirely gone now. There was only a little left in shady spots when I rode home, despite the chilly night that dropped into the lower 30s. By the middle of the week, there probably won't be any trace of it left.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Return to the Church on the Corner

Started today with the American Top 40, the first time I've heard that in a while. Casey moved us through early February 1979. Songs on the top of the charts in the last winter of the 70s included Olivia Newton-John's "A Little More Love," Barry Manilow's "Somewhere In the Night," Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive,"  the Bee Gees' "Too Much Heaven," and the Villiage People's "YMCA."

That weeks' #1 song and album was a major hit for Rod Stewart years before he went crooner (and an old favorite of my sister Anny), "Do You Think I'm Sexy?"

It was snowing heavily when I made my first trip today. If the snow had stuck to the street, I would have put it off. It wasn't sticking to the street. It was barely sticking to the ground. There was a light, slushy dusting as I rode the bike over to the Logan Presbyterian Church Thrift Shop. I had a bag of stuffed animals, a bag of tins, my old alarm clock, and various knick-knacks, a backpack filled with more knick-knacks, and a box containing the Tickle-Me Cookie Monster Lauren gave me for Christmas a few years ago. First of all, he doesn't work all that well anymore. Second, I thought he'd be better off with a real child who would play with him than an adult who mostly used him for display.

Despite the weather, the thrift shop was very busy when I arrived. The volunteers were thrilled to receive all of my donations again. Alas, I didn't get as lucky with my own finds this time. I ended up with two DVDs (the indie musical Once and the first Timothy Dalton James Bond movie The Living Daylights) and two books (the first two Winnie the Pooh anthologies).

It was still snowing as I crossed the White Horse Pike and rode back to Oaklyn, but not as heavily. I made a short stop at PNC Bank to deposit my paycheck, then went back across the Pike and to the next street over. There was actually quite a bit to do at the Oaklyn Library. I organized DVDs and children's books. I pulled DVDs that needed their labels fixed and kids' books that were scribbled in or had a page ripped out. I shelved kids' books and gave the librarian a copy of Molly's Surprise, an American Girl book that needed to be relabeled as a young adult series novel.

It was a little past noon when I rode back to my apartment. The snow was completely gone by then, both from the ground and the sky. It was cloudy and it still smelled like snow, but the weather was holding off.

I had a pleasant afternoon doing things around the house. I had lunch and watched more Walter Lanz cartoons. I put away a few things. I did one of those DDP Yoga DVDs Lauren sent me a while back, Fat Burner. I wanted a short workout that would let me sweat a little, but not a lot, since I had work in an hour. It worked quite well. I got my heart rate up without overdoing it, and the exercises here were easier to modify than in the Standing based one I did last month.

It was still cloudy and still smelling like snow when I rode to work. Work was exactly the same as yesterday - busy with people clucking over the weather and the big weekend sales going on right now. Thankfully, it went fast, and I was in and out with few problems.

I rode home in a light flurry. That flurry must have picked up sometime after I got in. It's incredibly windy out right now. There's more snow on my porch than there was this morning, though at press time, it still isn't sticking to the street and sidewalks.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yes, I Am Collegiate

Started today out with a run to the gym (with a quick stop by the charity clothes boxes in the back of the Acme building to drop off a bag of donations). This time, I upped the resistance on the bike and finally got a good, solid workout. Concentrated on my legs, rear, and stomach on the machines. It wasn't busy this morning at all. I timed it right; a bunch of women came on the machines just as I was finishing them, and then they went to the bike as I finished that.

Stopped at the Acme to pick up my paycheck and do this week's grocery shopping. I mostly needed chicken and to restock fruit and vegetables. Also needed cereal (Mom's Best was on sale; got the non-frosted shredded wheat), marshmallows, buttermilk, eggs, soup (grabbed Progresso's Light Chicken, Vegetable, & Rotini on sale), and paper towels. One of the managers tried to get me to come in early, but I turned her down. It was bad enough I was going to have to deal with people panicking over the mere one inch of snow we were supposed to get later in the day. Besides, I had something I really wanted to do.

There was a package waiting for me when I got in. I ordered the second Woody Woodpecker and Friends set last week. Alas, Universal doesn't seem to be in any hurry to release the rest of Woody's shorts, so this is the last Walter Lanz collection we'll be seeing for a while. I ran Woody while eating leftover beef stew for lunch and putting away my groceries.

The other reason I turned down the extra hours today sign up for online, non-credit business courses. Yesterday was the last straw. I am sick and tired of this job controlling my life. I was going to sign up last night, but it was too late by the time I got home and online. I was originally going to do a course on freelance writing, but the requirements (including seeking out a writing group to show my work to) seemed daunting. I decided to try some more business-oriented courses first. I went with one on setting up an online business, and another on finding and choosing a legitimate at-home business. The second one is pretty short, which is why it was also cheap - both courses cost me $158.

Work was a pain. If people weren't panicking over this so-called storm we're supposed to get, they were fussing over the huge 3-day sale we're having. And something happened at customer service with the managers and we were short on help in that department for a while. Thank goodness I got off on time with no relief.

My schedule isn't bad. One late day, Friday, and one long day, Monday. I also have Tuesday off, which is Valentine's Day. I don't think I've had Valentine's Day off since I began working at the store.

The ground was damp when I got out, but it wasn't raining, snowing, or even blowing. It was just wet, and has stayed so up to press time.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Balance and the Dolls

That so-called "snow" was mostly gone by the time I got up this morning. There was still a little on my porch, but almost nothing anywhere else. Once again, almost any snow on the ground was gone by noon. It wasn't, however, as warm as everyone thought it was going to be. I'd say it was about the upper 30s...normal for this time of year.

Today is my stepfather Bill's birthday. I called him at home during my cracked wheat cereal breakfast. Got Mom, who told me he was out at work (he's a commercial fisherman). She did get the birthday card I sent him, and would give it to him when he came home.

Yoga was next. We worked on hip and joint openers. I wish it didn't involve a lot of up and down on the arms. My left arm is still a bit sore from my gym workout on Wednesday. I did what I could; I wasn't even going to attempt full wheel today.

I was late getting out of class, and it may have been just as well. There wasn't much going on at the Collingswood Library. I shelved a small stack of DVDs, and that was about it. The DVDs weren't too unorganized (even the kids' shelf), and there was nothing to put away upstairs. I read for a while. Stopped at WaWa's on the way home for a turkey hoagie and a pretzel.

There was a big package waiting for me when I got home. Molly's new outfit had arrived from eBay! Her Skating Outfit is one of the last currently-avalible clothes that I didn't have for my Molly. It's really overpriced on AG's site, but I got an early mint-in-the-box version, complete with the no-longer-included hanger, for 24 dollars minus shipping...which was exactly what the outfit used to cost on AG's site.

(Skip this next part if you're offended by my descriptions of the dolls and their clothes.)

I changed Molly into it while running Lillian Russell. The cute embroidered sweater is too tight on my Molly with her School Outfit blouse under it, but the skirt fits her just fine and looks great over her white tights and saddle shoes. I liked it so much, I changed the other girls' clothes into something lighter, too. Felicity wears the blue and white floral print dress I picked up from the Deptford Mall two years ago. Samantha looks very pretty in a hand-made version of her rare ice-blue Skating Party Dress I picked up on eBay. Jessa wears Molly's red Hula Sweater over the 1995 modern meet outfit white shirt, the jeans from the 1995 Blue Jeans Basics, and Springfield Collection sneakers and socks.

I had just enough time after the movie ended to change my own clothes, pack dinner, and hurry out. Arriving on time was necessary; we were a lot busier than yesterday. It doesn't help that the stock people are currently in the midst of re-arranging the store. I don't know who put Bread all the way on the other side of the store from the entrance and the milk, but it's ridiculous. It's next to the cosmetics aisle now! I wish they'd just leave everything alone. Whomever organized this obviously doesn't know much about shopping.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Just a Little Bit of Snow

Started today with a run to the gym. At that point, around 11:30, it was partly cloudy and chilly but otherwise perfectly fine. I did the elliptical machine and worked on my arms. Whew! The elliptical machine works up quite a sweat, the most of the three running/biking apparatuses at Lucile Roberts. I was only on for 20 minutes with a resistance of 3, and I was sweating. When I finished, I did the arm-based weight machines, worked with weights, and stretched to cool down.

Since I was in the area, I stopped by the Acme on the way home. I needed milk badly. I also grabbed a copy of Entrepreneur Magazine to get some ideas about running businesses. They were busy, but no more or less so than on any other day. The forecast called for less than an inch of snow that wasn't really supposed to stick to the street.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment. I made Beef and Winter Vegetable Stew for an early dinner. I finally dusted the apartment, finishing this month's cleaning. I baked a Lemon-Coconut Chiffon Cake. I shelved the copy of Winnie the Pooh that came in the mail today.

Ran several cartoons and specials related to winter as I did my chores and baking. Frosty's Winter Wonderland is Rankin-Bass' follow-up to their original 1969 Frosty special; Frosty Returns is actually a very different Frosty story from 1992. Winter Wonderland, which tells how Frosty made himself a wife, is the better of the two. Returns has its own charms, though, including a really cute performance by John Goodman as the title snowman.

I dug through my cartoon sets for shorts relating to snow after the specials were done. I went with the Donald Duck classic Donald's Snow Fight, the Sylvester/Tweety vehicle Puddy Tat Trouble and the Bugs short Frigid Hare, and the Woody Woodpecker tales Pantry Panic and Ski For Two. I had just enough time after the cartoons ended to pull the cake out of the oven, grab my coat, and hurry out to work!

The rush may not have been necessary. Work was just barely busy when I arrived, stone-cold dead when I left. I spent the majority of the night shelving candy. Needless to say, there were no problems whatsoever.

It had been flurrying on and off since about 3PM. It was doing it when I went to work. By the time I got out, the snow had gotten much heavier. It was sticking to the grass (and to my porch), but the sidewalks and streets were just wet. I had a very quick and very pretty ride home.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Philadelphia Freedom

Started out the morning with the last few minutes of Rango and one of the two little-known Peanuts shorts on the Charlie Brown Valentine DVD. In Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown, Chuck falls hard for a girl he only sees for a few seconds in the crowd at a football game on TV. Linus thinks he's crazy, but he helps Chuck in his long search for his new love anyway. Snoopy and Woodstock are along for the ride and for a few gags about being chased by cats.

There's some sweet jokes about city and country living, but otherwise, this story was actually a bit weird. What happened to Chuck's Little Red Haired Girl? Not to mention, this is one of the few times where Chuck's shyness really backfires on him and it's his fault. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he'd only knocked on the girl's door, instead of forever sending Linus to do it.

My sister Rose called as the cartoon was finishing. She wanted to try Lucile Roberts, but is a lawyer and mother of a toddler who is very busy during the day. Could we do it in the afternoon? Sure. I planned on being home from Philadelphia fairly quickly. Then, ten minutes later, she called back. Oh, her boyfriend had to work, and his mother might not be able to take her son this evening. We might be able to do it still. She'd call me at 12.

I sighed and just rode out to the Haddon Township Library. It was a gorgeous day, in the lower 50s, sunny, and windless. The Library had plenty of volunteers and not much for me to do. I organized the children's DVDs, shelved kids' books, and removed kids and foreign DVDs from the regular adult DVD bins.

After a quick stop at Cafe Antonio's in Collingswood for a slice of White Spinach-Tomato-Ricotta Pizza and Diet Pepsi, I grabbed a PATCO to Philadelphia. Hit FYE first. They were having that "Buy 2 used, get the third for a dollar" sale that was so helpful for me back in September. I wound up with the Humphery Bogart movie To Have and Have Not for $10 and the 2000 musical Moulin Rouge for $8. The Alice Faye vehicle Lillian Russell, which I loved when I rented it from the Haddon Township Library a while back, ended up being the dollar movie.

Macy's was the next stop. I did very, very well there, thanks to a one-day sale and my last remaining Christmas gift card. The card fully covered a pair of Isotoner gloves that were on a major sale for $9.99 and a new pair of black jeans. (The old ones I bought several years ago from Macy's didn't close to fit anymore.) The card partially covered an Eileen West long-sleeved mauve nightshirt with sweet Swiss lace trim.

While I was looking for the bathroom, I stepped into a quiet corner and called Rose. I still hadn't heard from her. Just as I figured, she wasn't able to find a babysitter for her son. We'd do the gym another time.

I made a quick stop at the Starbucks in the Chestnut Street side of the building for a Chai Latte and a small Vanilla Bean Scone. (That's how darn big this Macy's is. It has it's own Starbucks.) I also made a quick bathroom break there, since I never did find the one upstairs.

Eventually finished the night at Russakoff's, my favorite used book store in Washington Square. I ended up with two books of reviews of women-oriented movies, Cinematherapy and Advanced Cinematherapy. How do you know you love a book store? The cashier in the front desk is watching end of The Empire Strikes Back (one of my favorite movies), and enjoying every minute of it.

The PATCO station entrance is just a few steps from Russakoff's. I took a very full train back to Collingswood, then rode home and spent the rest of the evening reading my Cinematherapy books.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Legendary Lizards of the Wild West

Started today with the musical DuBarry Was a Lady, with Red Skelton as a hat check boy in a nightclub who dreams that he's King Louis of France, singer Lucile Ball is Madame DuBarry, and dancer Gene Kelly and swami Zero Mostel are revolutionaries. Some fun music, but there's lots of references to World War II pop culture that you probably won't get if you're not a fan of that era, and Ball and Kelly don't really have enough to do.

The laundromat was quiet today. There were only a few people when I arrived, and almost no one when I left. Just as well. I had a lot of laundry to do, including bathroom towels. I let the clothes dry a little longer than usual because of the towels, and I was still out by noon.

When I got home, I put the laundry away, had tuna salad on lettuce for lunch, and watched Rango. This computer-animated curiosity is set in the bone-dry Mojave Desert of the American Southwest. "Rango" is the name a lost lizard comes up for himself when he stumbles onto the town of Dirt. It's a real old-fashioned Wild West community...populated by the kind of critters you'd find in the area, like lizards, snakes, turtles, moles, and aardvarks.

The plot is pretty old-fashioned, too. Rango manages to use his acting abilities to convince the town that he's a gunslinger. They make him their sheriff, and soon enough, the lonely lizard whose only friends were the toys in his aquarium has become the soul of the entire town. Trouble is, Dirt's also a very dry town. Their water supply has been drying up, and if they don't find liquid soon, they'll all have to leave. Rango vows to help them. Can he rescue the water supply and avoid the Mayor's hitmen, without revealing that the closest he's ever came to being a lawman is playing one?

Definitely an odd one. Johnny Depp is the voice of Rango, which many explain some things. I'm a fan of westerns and loved seeing Nickelodeon making fun of long-time cliches. As a storyteller, I also enjoy seeing how Rango convinces the town to make him sheriff. This is too violent for little kids, but pre-teens and young teenagers will probably get a kick out of it.

Work was quiet for most of the night, especially compared to yesterday. It was very mildly busy during rush hour, but no problem for the rest of the night. I spent a half-hour after my break doing returns. I was in and out easily with no relief.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Rumble in Indianapolis

I slept in this morning. Got up around quarter of 10. I listened to records and CDs, made Silver Dollar Corn Banana Pancakes for breakfast, and did last month's budget. Yes, I bought a lot, but I also had money and gift cards leftover from Christmas. I tried calling Mom, but I kept getting a busy signal. Her sister Terri was probably chatting with her.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that work was a massive mess all day long. Not only is today the Super Bowl, but it's still the beginning of the month. A lot of people can't do their major shopping any day but now! We had very long lines for the entire afternoon and not nearly enough help. Someone else left at the same time as me, too, and another cashier was done a half-hour before us.

After I finally got off, I rode over to Uncle Ken's to see if anything was going on for the game there. When I arrived, the house was pitch-dark, and there were no cars parked near-by. I know Dad and Jodie are still in the Florida Keys, but I guess Uncle Ken and Dolores are on vacation, too. I just went home.

I listened to the game on the radio instead. Had a pleasant dinner of leftover chicken and broccoli and spring peas. I made Samantha's Gingerbread, replacing the 1/2 cup of sugar with a 1/3 cup apple juice concentrate and slightly lowering the buttermilk and molasses content (especially as I always use dark molasses from the Farm Market). Yum! Other than I burned the edges slightly, it came out absolutely delicious.

I finally got a hold of Mom when I came in. She making her own dinner and couldn't talk long. While her teeth don't feel great, the stitches are out, and she can talk again. She heard from my brother Keefe, who is now in the Navy, this week. Apparently, he's a Section Leader and is in charge of 12 other guys! He'll be graduating from boot camp next month. Mom and Dad are going to fly out to see him. I'm so proud of him. He seems to be doing really well.

Oh, yes, and the game was pretty awesome, too. The Giants started strong, but the Patriots were (barely) winning by halftime. They kept it up through the four quarter...when the Giants got the touchdown that won them the game and the title, 21-17.

And that scream you heard from somewhere in southern Cape May County? That was probably my stepfather cheering. ;)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Football Frolics

Started off today with football-related cartoons. Hello Kitty is more interested in being a wide receiver than prancing around in a ball gown...but she learns that girls can do both, and still get the penguin prince, in "Cinderkitty." Disney's first foray into sports, "Touchdown Mickey," had Mickey Mouse catching the passes and Goofy in the announcer's booth.

Headed to the bank and the Oaklyn Library after a bowl of cracked wheat cereal for breakfast. The bank was my first stop. Much to my delight, my tax return seems to have finally gone through. I'll be able to pay my rent and take a look at some non-credit business courses, along with browsing for a few more things for the apartment.

Headed to the Oaklyn Library next. You can tell I put this one off the longest. The DVDs were a mess, especially the adults. I don't know how the kids' sets got in with the adults - they have the orange stickers on them, for heaven's sake! Fished board books out of the kids' picture books and pulled books related to Valentine's Day and President's Day for display.

When I got home, I ran the Bowery Boys college football movie Hold That Line and the early Three Stooges Columbia short Three Little Pigskins while making Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. The cookies came out of the oven literally just as I was heading out the door!

Work was very busy for most of the day, not surprising on what's both Super Bowl Weekend and the first weekend of the month. One of the teenagers called out, and I ended up staying another hour. I wouldn't have bothered - I hardly need the money - but we really were that busy. We were so busy, a manager had to come in for me so I could go home.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Tale of the Donkey's Tail

Started out today with a trip to the gym. Since I had to work later, I decided to keep things simple this time and do 25 minutes on the stationary bike. This time, I upped the resistance all the way to 8! Much better. Even with that, I still didn't get quite as much of a workout. It was easier on my still-somewhat-callused feet, though. I also did leg and rear stretches today. I think I'll alternate the elliptical machine as well as the weight equipment. The next time I go in, we'll do the arms.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped at the Acme to pick up my paycheck and do a little grocery shopping. I really didn't need much this week. I mostly restocked my fruit. Picked up grapefruit, pears, and bananas. Decided to try blood oranges, which are oranges with a swirly red-orange peel and red pulp inside. They're only in season during January and February, and they were on a pretty decent sale. Restocked sugar, canned pineapple, honey, and peanut butter. They were having a sale on the mousse mixes I like, so I bought French Vanilla and Strawberry. Found a cute card for my stepfather's birthday on Thursday, too.

When I got home, I put everything away, had tuna salad for lunch, and watched Winnie the Pooh. This is the newest in Disney's long line of Pooh-based cartoons...but unlike their direct-to-home-video forays into the Hundred Acre Woods, this was based entirely around five stories from the original books not used in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Eeyore loses his tail, and the rest of the citizens of the Hundred Acre Woods try to find him a replacement. As always, they turn to Christopher Robin for help...but he's gone missing. They believe him to have been taken by the fearsome "Backson" monster. While the others set a trap for the monster, Tigger tries to teach Eeyore to be more Tigger-ish, and Pooh just wants, preferably.

That's pretty much it. This is a less bittersweet replay of Pooh's Grand Adventure, and as such, it'll probably hold no interest to older kids and teens. Adults will get a kick out of the creative wordplay...quite literally, as the words in the "storybook" the narrator (John Cleese) is reading from are used for everything from ladders to nets. And by all means, stick around for the credits. They're the best part. The first half uses Christopher Robin's toys to recreate key moments in the movie; the second has the Pooh crew literally playing on and around the words in the credits.

My favorite line, though? "No stuffed animals were harmed in the making of this film." ;)

I like the movie so much, I went online and bought it from after it was over. I also picked up the second Woody Woodpecker and Friends Walter Lantz cartoon set. I'm trying to finish out my "classic" shorts. Next, I'll look for the original Scooby Doo sets, the Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry, and Popeye.

Work was pretty busy when I was shopping earlier, but by 4PM, it wasn't that bad. It was silent when  I arrived, but picked up during rush hour and was off-and-on the rest of the night.

I have mixed feelings about my schedule. I'm not thrilled with having to work until 9:30 two days next week, and I only have one day off...but once again, a lot of the college kids who would normally take those hours are deep into their classes now. I think some of them may be graduating this semester or the next one. I suspect there may not be too many other people who can take those hours.