Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's Get Away From It All

I slept in a bit and didn't get to the gym until past noon. That may not have been a bad thing. It was even quieter in Lucile Roberts when I arrived than it had been yesterday. I put in a nice, sweaty run on the elliptical machine while watching Family Feud, then did arm work. By the time I was stretching, there were a few more people on the cardio equipment, but it still wasn't bad.

They must have all gone grocery shopping. The Acme was really busy! I'm lucky I got into the line for the customer service when I did. Just a minute after I entered, the line was going down past the registers. I quickly picked up my paycheck and moved onto grocery shopping. I needed a lot today. Restocking baking items was the major priority, including chocolate chips, unbleached flour, ground cinnamon, pumpkin, and brown sugar. There were no good chicken sales; I just grabbed ground chicken that had a two-dollar manager's coupon. The curls formula for Pantene was on clearance for $2.99, so I added the shampoo and conditioner to my basket. I bought three containers of fruit concentrate and a carton of Ben & Jerry's Frozen Yogurt version of Cherry Garcia, all of which were on sale (I had a coupon for the frozen yogurt as well).

Since I was already at the Acme, I decided to pick up my schedule. I'm not thrilled with it. First of all, I have even fewer hours than I did last week. That's how I got into the financial mess I'm stuck with in the first place! While I do have relatively early hours on Labor Day, I work until 9 and 9:30 the days I do have hours. I really, really need to start figuring out how to get that business started...and where to start.

I was feeling a bit down when I got home, due to my lack of hours. I put everything away, had a quick lunch, and went back out again. It was hotter than yesterday, but it remained sunny, cloudless, and dry, and the wind had picked up considerably. I decided that a ride and errands run would be just the thing to alleviate my depression. I made a quick stop at the bank before heading down to Lawndale, alternating the rocky back roads with the traffic-laden White Horse Pike. Surprisingly, there were just as many cars heading towards Philadelphia as there were in the direction of the Shore; I guess some folks are just going to spend this weekend at home.

Last week, a customer mentioned that a K-Mart moved into what had been the Sears building at the Lawndale Shopping Center. I wanted to verify this. I have very fond memories of K-Marts. For years, the K-Mart at the Rio Mall in Rio Grande was the only real department store in the lower Cape May County area. Even after almost everything else vacated the Rio Mall, they not only stayed, but expanded. They wouldn't have any real competition until the arrival of Big Lots in North Cape May in 2004 and Wal Mart in 2006, and Mom says they still manage to hold their own. (There were Ameses and Jamesways in North Cape May and Rio Grande in the mid-late 90s, but they both debuted when those franchises were on their last legs. Big Lots replaced Ames; the Rio Grande Jamesway is now Pet Smart.)

The Lawndale Sears was a wash-out when I visited there a few years ago. There wasn't a whole lot there besides clothes and home furnishings. While the store remained the same size, the K-Mart was a vast improvement. Their red-and-tan color scheme was far more lively than Sears' gray and blue. Most of the store was better-organized, with more merchandise in a small space...and unlike the Wal-Mart in Audubon, they actually had some of the sale items in stock and friendly, helpful service people.

The biggest improvement was a gigantic toy section, twice the size of the one at Wal Mart and almost comparable to the Target in Deptford. It took up almost the entire back of the store. I always liked the toy section at the K-Mart in Rio Grande, having bought dolls and games there going back to my childhood, and this one was just as good. I'll keep it in mind at Christmas when I shop for toys for my nephews and younger cousins.

As for now, all I really needed was underwear; my old ones were worn out. The prices weren't great, but I didn't feel like attempting a bike/bus trip to the Target in Deptford. They were having really good back-to-school sales. I grabbed packs of red and blue Bic pens for 75 cents each.

(The arrival of K-Mart isn't the only change at Lawndale since my last visit. Blockbuster was replaced by an elegant-looking Hallmark. The Pathmark closed last year and remains empty. It looks like the Fashion Bug there is shutting down, too. I had no idea they were going out of business. What a disappointment! I've been buying clothes from them since the late 80s, when they were the only clothing store near Cape May that carried plus sizes. That means those sale signs I saw at the Audubon Crossings store weren't end of the season sales - they were end of the store sales! Sounds like they just can't compete with the big box stores like Wal-Mart and Kohls. :( )

I headed home around 6, stopping only for a Lime Diet Coke at the WaWa on the corner of the White Horse Pike and Pine Street in Audubon. When I got in, I had leftovers for dinner and watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This anthology film is pretty much a collection of the 60s and early 70s Winnie the Pooh shorts with added linking material. The first story, the sweetly silly "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree," will always be my favorite, but it's all enjoyable if you're a Pooh fan or want to introduce younger kids to the Disney Pooh.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Balance on Baking Day

Started today with the end of The Artist and two Three Stooges shorts on making movies. The Stooges invade a studio in "Movie Maniacs," hoping to become stars. They wind up in charge of the newest film when the head executive mistakes them for big shots from back east. "Three Missing Links" takes them to Africa to appear as caveman and a gorilla in jungle movie. The trouble starts when a real gorilla invades the set and wrecks havoc!

I arrived at yoga just as they were beginning. As it turned out, there was no reason to rush. Everyone must have left for the Labor Day Weekend already. There weren't nearly as many people in class as usual. We concentrated on "core" (stomach) exercises and inversions. My sore fingers weren't up to shoving my weight on my head. I did my best with the core work.

Next stop was the Collingswood Library. They were surprisingly busy, considering the holiday and the beautiful weather. I guess everyone wanted to rent movies before the library closes for the weekend. I had lots of DVDs to file, shelve, and organize. There was nothing going on upstairs, though, so I headed out a bit early.

I needed to swing by the Haddon Township Library to return The Artist, Angelina Ballerina, and Shanghai Surprise. The Camden County Library System only allows new DVDs (they call them the "Grab and Go" movies) out for four days. (I'll probably run Picnic over the weekend.) Had just enough money to stop at 7-11 for a Pina Colada/Mango Slurpee and a pretzel on the way there.

I rode home through a bustling Newton River Park. I partially wanted to avoid the lunch hour traffic on Cuthbert Road (the drive-in line for McDonald's stretched around the building), but I mostly wanted to enjoy the gorgeous day. It was sunny and breezy, with nary a cloud in the soft blue sky. It was dry, and warm without being too hot, perfect weather for southern New Jersey in late August.

When I arrived at home, I took an hour for a leftovers lunch and watching black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons. After that, I made a trip to the gym. I timed it well. There was no one on the cardio equipment when I started a 20 minute run on an elliptical machine, but there were several people in the weight machine area. By the time I was working on my legs, the opposite was (mostly) true.

I was tired, my heel spur hurt, and I wanted to get some baking done. I spent the rest of the afternoon at home. Ran Flash Gordon while making Zucchini Muffins. I picked up the 80s movie version of the ever-popular comic book character when Lauren was visiting in May, and I finally got around to watching it. New York Jets quarterback Flash (Sam Jones), spunky travel agent Dale (Melody Anderson), and semi-mad scientist Zarcov (Topol) find themselves hurled into space when meteors begin raining down on Earth. Turns out the planet is under attack by the dastardly Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydrow, having an awful lot of fun), the ruler of the planet Mongo. Ming wants Dale; his daughter Aura (Ornella Muti) has her eyes on Flash, despite already having a lover in Prince Barrin of Araboria (Timothy Dalton). It'll take every ounce of Flash, Dale, and Zarcov's wit and courage to get past Mongo's amazing technology...not to mention their crazy Technicolor Art Deco sets and costumes.

For all the comparisons to Star Wars, this has a very different feel. The neutral tones and cool blues and reds of George Lucas' epics have here been replaced by wild costumes that look like a cross between a samurai movie and The Adventures of Robin Hood. The amazing sets recreate the feel of old-time comic books nicely, and the cast is having a ball. Special mention to Von Sydrow, enjoyably over-the-top as Ming, and Brian Blessed as the big, bawdy head of the Hawkmen. If you like your action movies bright, campy, and hilarious, this cult favorite is worth digging around for.

Switched to something intentionally goofy as I made Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies and tilapia in lemon sauce with steamed Chinese beans and sliced tomatoes for dinner. Robin Hood: Men In Tights was probably Mel Brooks' last decent spoof. Made in 1993, it mainly pokes fun at the rather stilted Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but does occasionally make cracks at other versions, too, including Errol Flynn's. Cary Elwes makes a hilarious Robin; watch out for the musical number to the title song mid-way through.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Silence Is Golden

I slept so late, it was 10 before I got up and moving. I was originally going to hit the gym this morning, but I decided it was too late and opted for a run to the Oaklyn Library instead. Their computer systems and printers were down for upgrading...and due to that, they were quiet. There was a lot to do, though. The kids' DVDs (and to a lesser extent, the adults') badly needed to be organized. I shelved some young adult titles and fixed the board books and picture books.

Went for a short walk after leaving the library. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining, the sky was brilliantly blue, and it was warm, but not as bad as it's supposed to be this weekend. Needless to say, the Oaklyn Lions Pool was filled with kids taking one last dip before they close after Labor Day.

When I got in, I had leftovers for lunch and started The Artist. It won this year's Oscar for best picture, and I can fully understand why. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the artist of the title, a wildly popular actor in silent action films. But the year is 1927, and sound is coming to film...and with it comes Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a perky flapper looking for her big break. Valentin, however, is stuck in a loveless marriage and is unable to pursue her. He's also unable to pursue his career. He insists that talkies are a fad. His boss (John Goodman) says otherwise, and his attempts at one last silent movie is a flop that, along with the Stock Market Crash, sinks him. As Peppy becomes a major comedienne, Valentin sinks further and further. When Valentin nearly dies in a fire, Peppy finally finds a way for Valentin to regain his hold on the public.

Sweet, unique, and utterly captivating. It's not for everyone. Some folks won't appreciate the time-worn plot that feels like a cross between A Star Is Born and Singin' In the Rain, with a cute dog replacing Donald O'Connor as chief sidekick. Others simply won't get the old-time-Hollywood, black-and-white silent format. But if you love Hollywood history, early 20th-century history, or silent and/or early sound film, you'll absolutely adore this. Jean Dujardin in particular is amazing as the leading man who refuses to adjust to changing times and technology.

I got so into the movie, I was late leaving for work! I barely made it on time. Work was pretty quiet. A lot of people may be on vacation before the Labor Day Weekend; others are probably waiting for the beginning of the month. It was so quiet, I spent an hour gathering carts. Needless to say, there were no problems, and I was in and out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sunshine Surprise

It was still cloudy and humid when I awoke this morning, but not nearly as warm. I watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast. I didn't head out to the Haddon Township Library until around 11. By this time, the clouds were starting to break up a bit, and Newton River Park was busy with lots of joggers, bikers, kids on the playground, and men running lawn mowers and weed whackers.

Haddon Township Library was busy, too. For once, there were lots of DVDs and books to shelve. I organized kids' DVDs, pulled improperly shelved titles from the adult DVD area, and added books to the kids' area displays. I helped kids find DVDs they were interested in as well. Ended up taking out an Angelina Ballerina cartoon disc "Friends Forever" and three movies - the notorious 80s action flop Shanghai Surprise, this year's Oscar-winner The Artist, and another 50s drama set during Labor Day, Picnic.

Made a few quick stops at Super Fresh and Dollar Tree; just got soap and toothbrushes, both much-needed, at the latter. Had lunch at the Westmont Bagel Shop. It was quarter of 2 when I finally sat down to a vegetable quesadilla with salsa and pickles (nixing the French fries) and a bottle of Sprite Zero. Since the shop was closing in an hour, they gave me six free bagels. It was better than throwing them away!

The sun was coming out as I headed home. I worked on my TLC Disney Toddler doll Belle's matted mess of hair while watching Angelina Ballerina. Needless to say, friendship of all kinds was the theme of this set. My favorite was the first, "The Ballerina Rag Doll." Angelina has second thoughts about giving away her rag doll Polka when she discovers she got it from her grandfather. Miss Lilly has asked her to assist the beginner's dance class, and when she sees a little up-and-coming dancer with Polka, she realizes that her doll now has a new home where she'll be equally loved.

I switched to music while cleaning the bathroom. Actually, it wasn't that bad. I've seen it much worse. Since it didn't take me that long to do, I also got the windows washed and dusted.

When I finished there, I went for a quick walk down Manor and around the neighborhood near the school. By 5:30, the sun was out, the haze was gone, the clouds were rapidly dissolving, and there was a wonderful breeze. It had transformed into the perfect late summer evening. I passed by men mowing lawns, mothers playing with their children, and a kid bouncing a basketball on the sidewalk down West Clinton, probably to shoot hoops with his buddies at the basketball court behind the school.

When I got in, I made chicken thighs and Sauteed Summer Vegetables for dinner and started Shanghai Surprise. Right away, I could see why this was a huge disaster at the box office in 1986. This is supposed to be an Romancing the Stone/Indiana Jones-style adventure romp set in 1938 Shanghai. Madonna is a missionary looking for an opium shipment that vanished a year before; she wants it to ease the pain and suffering of the people. Sean Penn...well, I'm not sure what he was supposed to be, other than a seller of loud 80s ties, but he gets mixed up with Madonna and the search for the drugs.

While the story is kind of fun, it's dragged down by racist Asian characters, fairly bad dialogue, a lack of historical accuracy (Penn sports a mullet), and blatant miscasting. Penn's actually has some fun in his goofy adventurer/salesman role, but Madonna's definitely not anyone's idea of a dedicated missionary.  For major fans of Penn, Madonna, or 80s adventures only.

I had more luck with movies online. One of my favorite animated films during my childhood was Animalympics, a hysterical spoof of the Olympic Games that ran frequently on cable throughout the early and mid 80s. Animals from the four corners of the globe come to Animalympic Island to compete in their first annual Summer/Winter events. There's all kinds of great stories - a sprinting alligator who has overcome disability, an elephant weightlifter from the Russian circus, a stunning hawk known as the Contessa who literally leaps into a fencing match to save the day, a German weiner dog who disappears right before his big downhill skiing race. Above all, there's the French goat and Kenyan lioness who are literally neck and neck in the marathon for the entire movie. Which one of these athletes will take home the gold?

I seriously wish I'd found this while the Olympics were running. It was made in 1980 and it's dated, with too many weight and stereotypes jokes for its own good. The music is delightful but very much of its time, and the animation is so-so. What makes this is the hilarious script, with sports and celebrity wisecracks running fast and furious, and some fabulous voice work. Gilda Radner does all of the female voices, including the lioness marathoner, a poodle announcer, and a bird sportscaster (the last done in her Baba WaWa persona).

To my knowledge, this still isn't DVD, and the tape is very hard to find. Your best bet by far is YouTube. If you're an 80s kid, this brings some great memories and is very much worth seeking out. (My favorites - Kurt Wuffner the heartbroken skiier, the amazing Contessa, Dean Wilson and his surfer dude gags, and the crazy-tough North American all-bear ice hockey team.)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Storms A-Brewin'

It's just as well that I slept until 9:30 this morning. I awoke to a thunderstorm and massive downpour. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as the one Cape May County got on Saturday night - to my knowledge, we never lost power - but it was more than we've gotten in quite some time. It was past noon before I was able to head out to the laundromat to get this week's load done.

Though it was sunny (if hot and humid) by that point, the earlier weather must have scared people off. There was one older woman there when I arrived, and only a few more by the time my load finished in the dryer. It was mostly me, the book I was reading (A Song In the Dark), and Family Feud on the TV.

Mother Nature looked like she didn't know what she wanted to do for the rest of the afternoon. It remained sunny, but there were heavy clouds on the horizon. Thankfully, as of this writing, they haven't burst yet. I got to and from work dry. Work was busy, so busy, the time went quickly. We're getting close to back-to-school, Labor Day festivities, and the beginning of the month. Things should pick up a bit this week.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lazy Day

I'm going to be honest. This was a pretty dull day, and I didn't get much done. I slept until about 10, then read and wrote in my journal until quarter of 11. Listened to Brunch With the Beatles while using the last of the Cinnamon Raisin Bread from the Acme's bakery to make French toast for breakfast. The eclectic score for the animated film Yellow Submarine was in the spotlight today. Songs used for the soundtrack included "Nowhere Man," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Hey Bulldog," "Eleanor Rigby," "All You Need Is Love," and the sing-along title track. "Only a Northern Song" was the only number written specifically for the film.

Called Mom after I finished my French toast. Cape May County had apparently experienced a huge thunderstorm last night! Mom said they had buckets of rain and some of the noisiest thunder she ever heard. (Curiously, she did add that there was no wind, just water and noise.) Dad had just come home from taking my brother's used Camaro home and was so tired, he didn't hear a thing. Now that he was home, Dad wanted to take Mom out, probably to lunch, from the sound of things. There aren't too many other places they can get to with all the traffic in the area thanks to summer crowds.

I spent most of the rest of a hot, hazy, humid afternoon on the computer, reading the Three Stooges stories Lauren and I have written lately and listening to records. I ran the first disc of the soundtrack from American Graffiti, then the original cast album for the operetta Kismet

Work was on and off busy with summer crowds today, to the point where I had to shut down with a line in order to get out on time. Things should pick up a bit now that we're getting closer to several events, including the beginning of the month, Labor Day, and back to school shopping.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Harvest Adventures

I began a cloudy and slightly humid morning with the American Top 40.  Casey jumped ahead to 1982, when country, pop, and R&B ruled the airwaves. The hits that week included "Hurts So Good" and "Jack and Diane" by John Cougar (Melloncamp), "Love Will Turn You Around" by Kenny Rogers, "Vacation" by the Go-Gos, "Abracadabra" by the Steve Miller Band, "You Should Hear How He Talks About You" by Melissa Manchester, and "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago.

That week's big hit was the theme from one of the blockbuster movies of that summer, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, from Rocky III.

I've been wanting to get to the thrift shop at the Logan Presbyterian Church in Audubon for a while now, but I haven't had the time. As it turns out, it was just as well. They were closed for July and most of August. Today is the first time they've been open since June! I donated most of my Care Bears (I only kept a few - I really don't have the room for them), an old messenger bag from college, and a stack of videos, records, books, and comics.

There were lots of yard sales for the first time in weeks. I checked out three in Audubon, three in Collingswood, and two in Oaklyn. They were all very disappointing. I ended up buying a pretzel in Audubon and a cup of kid-sold lemonade in Oaklyn, but nothing else.

Did far better at the Farm Market. The sun had come out by then; it wasn't that hot, but it did remain humid. Despite the weather, the Market was crawling with people buying produce for barbecues and family get-togethers. This is the height of the summer harvest season, but fall is waiting in the wings. I saw the first acorn squash and small Gala apples of the season. I ended up with the small Galas, plums, peaches, cucumbers, two tomatoes (a bright red Jersey and one a bit more purple-y), Chinese beans, honey, and zucchini.

I got in around 12. I had leftovers for lunch and nursed my sore fingers while running The Adventures of Tin Tin. The same odd motion capture animation that was used for the recent Disney A Christmas Carol was also employed here, and while the results are still too waxy, they do look much better than the holiday film.

It's hardly surprising that old action hands Peter Jackson and Steven Spielburg helmed this one. It's up both their alleys. Tin Tin (Jamie Bell), a curious young reporter in 40s Europe, and his beloved dog Snowy are thrust into an adventure when Tin Tin buys a ship model and three men immediately want to buy it. Tin Tin's attempts to find out what's going on lead him to being kidnapped and imprisoned on a ship that has been keelhauled by the wealthy Sakharine (Daniel Craig). He's after the treasure that the clue found in the model ship leads to...and won't let anything or anyone stop him from obtaining the other clues. He also holds the very drunk Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) hostage. The duo and the dog must fight their way through rough seas, hot deserts, and a foggy Europe to find out what Haddock knows, how it ties into his family history, and where the other clues are.

This is based after the long-running comic books from Europe surrounding Tin Tin and his many escapades. While I never read the comics, I do have vague but fond memories of the cartoon that ran on HBO in the late 80s. The still-developing animation aside, this one certainly lives up to that...and then some! It has more in common with Spielburg's Indiana Jones romps than Jackson's darker fantasy tales, so if you're a fan of Indy or Tin Tin, by all means, this is a total blast. Special mention to Haddock's amazingly animated pirate tales and to that much-talked-about motorcycle chase across a desert city.

I headed to work not long after Tin Tin ended. Pretty standard for the time of year and month - very busy through about 7PM, quiet afterwards. A manager came in for me, as the other cashier was late getting back from break.

Mixed feelings on my schedule next week. On one hand, Monday is the only really late night, and I have three days off. On the other hand, I don't have nearly enough hours. Hopefully, things will pick up a bit next week as we hit Labor Day Weekend and the kids return to school.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brief Journey

This day didn't go nearly as well as I had hoped. I shouldn't have slept until 9:30, but I was up last night adding music to my iPod. I didn't get to the gym until quarter after 11. I did a quick bike session, just 20 minutes, then did the arm weight machines. I stretched to avoid a repeat of my stiffness problems last week.

Got to the Acme by noon. I was mainly there for my paycheck. I didn't need a lot of groceries this week. I was mainly there for ground turkey (thankfully found one with a manager's coupon) and Acme's Wild Harvest Organic boxed chicken broth. (Which, amazingly, costs the same as their regular chicken broth.) Replaced diced tomatoes after using them on stir-fry earlier in the week and the butter I used on baking. Grabbed Honey Nut Chex Mix and generic shredded wheat on sale.

It was 1PM when I got in. I put everything away, had a really quick leftovers lunch, changed into drier clothes, and went back out again. Stopped at the bank first to deposit my paycheck, then rode onto Collingswood and the PATCO Station.

I'd planned on going to Atlantic City today. I hoped to catch the 2:23 Transit train...but nope. I missed it by 15 minutes. Not to mention, there wasn't another train until 3:58! I probably should have given up and gone home at that point. Instead, I wandered over to the Walgreens on the edge of the Train/Bus Station property, got a bottle of water, and wandered back over to get my tickent.

That wait was a mistake. I was hoping to spend a few hours there and have a nice dinner, then take a train home around 6 or 7. There were no trains running at 6 or 7. The next train going to Philadelphia after the 5:52 didn't leave until 8:10! That meant I probably wouldn't get into Lindenwauld until 9, and it would likely be closer to 10 before I got home. Busses weren't much better. There was one bus leaving at 6:50 that wouldn't get into Lindenwauld until 8:45!

I spent one measly hour in Atlantic City. I thought of eating a quick dinner at the same place I ate at the last time, but the line was long and their prices weren't great. Subway probably wasn't a great substitute, but they were the only other restaurant in the area that sold meals. I stopped at Starbucks to use their bathroom...and ended up using the one at the Station when I didn't want to wait in line.

I did make it on the 5:52. Other than the train going home stopped twice to let other trains pass, there were no problems traveling. The PATCO was a little noisy going home, but it wasn't horrible, and I did have my iPod. I went straight in the shower when I got in.

I'm extremely disappointed. I was really looking forward to another Atlantic City trip, but I bungled it badly and wasted $13.20. We'll see if I have enough money to try the outlets again next month or during my vacation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Swashbuckling Balance

Once again, it was hot and hazy when I awoke this morning, but not really humid. Even so, I had a hard time getting out of bed, and I was nearly late to yoga class. I'm glad I made it. We were working on twists again. I did what I could. My back and fingers remain sore, but at least I'm not stiff anymore.

For once, there was plenty to do at the Collingswood Library. I had lots of DVDs to file and shelve. The kids' and classic DVD titles needed to be organized badly, too. There was less to do upstairs; after dodging kids coming from the library's Storybook Hour, I was out by quarter of 12. Made a quick stop at WaWa for skim milk before heading home.

When I got in, I had leftovers for lunch, then put my sore fingers on ice while running the rest of the Jake and the Never Land Pirates set. Disney's Peter-Pan-themed follow-up to Little Einsteins is the tale of three Lost Kids - Jake, Izzy, and Cubby - who live on Pirate Island with their parrot mascot Skully and their beloved pirate boat Bucky. Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and Hook's crew usually steal something that the kids have found or are playing with, and the kids have to chase them around Never Land to get it back. There's occasional variations, such as the kids participating in the Never Land Games (with Hook trying to show how he can do it all by himself), and Jake trying to return Hook's hat to him. If you were a Little Einsteins fan or your child loves Peter Pan or pirate stories, this is pretty cute for an interactive program.

Decided to stick to swashbuckling and switched to The Adventures of Robin Hood while baking Plum-Chocolate Chip Muffins. People who prefer their Robin Hood on the lighter side will definitely want to start with this Technicolor Errol Flynn classic, either on TCM or in its awesome two-disc DVD release. It has everything you could want in a Robin Hood story, without the darker edges that bogged down the recent Russell Crowe film.

I went for a short walk after the muffins came out of the oven. It was too nice of a day not to. I had just enough time to stroll down to the boat launch on the end of Goff Avenue and back. The water on the river was placid and still. The barest breeze left tiny ripples on the olive-green surface. I saw dragonflies buzzing and fish leaping out of the water for a snack. The laughter of children tumbled out of backyard pools; lawn mowers did their jobs.

I wish work had been so peaceful. It was a real pain. This was the final day to pick up tickets for the Giveaway Game. (The tickets and coupons can be reimbursed until early September.) A student at Temple in Philly already won the million, but other prizes are still available. People were just obnoxious, too. At least two women gave us grief about a sale that doesn't start until tomorrow but was accidentally listed as starting tonight. A man in the register in front of me threw a fit because he thought his 12 packs of soda were a dollar each. The big sign above the display hadn't been fixed properly, but a bright yellow sign did show the correct price of 3 for $11. I was happy when the crowds finally died around 8PM and I was able to get home before anyone else fussed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Good Old Fashioned Adventure Yarn

Started out today with the last of Mandrake the Magician. After that disc was finalized, I made a run to the gym. It was pretty busy for quarter after 12. I did the elliptical machine while watching Family Feud. Went easy on the leg machines this week. Last week, I was stiff as a board after I did my leg work.

When I arrived at home, I had leftover chicken-pepper stir fry for lunch and went right into dubbing another serial, Federal Agents Vs. Underworld Inc. Serials were running on empty by 1949; only Columbia and Republic still made them, and the budgets were getting increasingly cheaper. Even so, despite the generic title and shorter running time, this Republic action tale was far more involving than Mandrake. The federal agents of the title (one of them Kirk Alyn of Superman: the Serial fame) chase female gangster Nila (Carol Foreman) and her henchman (frequent serial baddie Ray Bancroft), who have kidnapped a professor in order to get information on the Golden Hands that will lead to a fabulous African treasure.

I loved it. The plot genuinely drew you in. I didn't figure out the real villain behind Nila until he turned up in the last few chapters. Alyn did much better as a mortal (if very lucky) agent who is happier using guns and fists rather than X-ray vision. Rosemary La Plante was a far spunkier female lead, too. The exotic trappings and elaborate MacGuffin gave this an air of mysticism that, for all the magic and hypnotism, Mandrake lacked.

I spent most of the afternoon putting my sore fingers on ice. It was hard to figure out how to do this, especially with the middle left finger, which really hurts. I tried dunking them in a bowl of ice water, but it was kind of awkward. I finally lay them on a bag of plastic fruit-shaped ice cubes.

Work was, once again, busy when I came in, on-and-off quiet when I left. It was quiet enough by the time I left that I was able to just shut down. There were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Library Magic

It was about 11:30 when I headed out for this week's errand run. It was a bit warmer and hazier than yesterday, though it remained breezy and dry enough that the weather remained tolerable. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of the day inside. I started at the Oaklyn Library. They had a kid volunteering with the children's books, and there wasn't a whole lot to do with the DVDs, either. I was out by quarter after 12.

Since I was in the area anyway, I stopped at Capitol Pizza for lunch. I bought a plain slice, a slice with broccoli and mushrooms, and a bottle of Coke Zero. The weather was still too good to eat indoors and get stuck listening to depressing true crime documentaries, so I took my pizza to the two small, umbrella-covered metal tables on the sidewalk. The view of lunchtime traffic on the White Horse Pike and the printing company across the street wasn't exactly inspiring, but it was an improvement over inside.

I rode through Newton River Park on my way to the Haddon Township Library. Thanks to the improved weather, the park was the busiest I've seen it since the spring. Parents and their children had a picnic on the tables by the green and yellow playground. People walked their dogs. They jogged to the beat of the music on their machines or in their own minds. They strolled with children or friends, avoiding the huge, thick mud patches left by machinery cutting down old trees.

There was a bit more to do at the Haddon Township Library than there had been at Oaklyn. I had plenty of DVDs to put away, and even some kids' books to shelve. I pulled a stack of foreign and kids' titles from the regular movies. I organized the kids' titles. Found the Errol Flynn Adventures of Robin Hood, along with another recent adventure tale for families, The Adventures of Tin Tin. Continued the swashbuckler theme with a collection of cartoons from the recent Disney kids' series Jake Jake and the Pirates, based around Peter Pan. I also finally picked up the newest Maisie Dobbs book, which I've been trying to get for ages. Found three videos to dub in the sales area.

Ran a bunch of errands next. Stopped at Super Fresh first. They were having a good sale on cooking spray and an eco-friendly store-brand Liquid Plumber. (Given how slow the bathroom sink is, even with frequent applications of baking soda, I'm willing to try anything.) Also bought a four-pack of sponges, which weren't all that much more expensive that two of Dollar Tree's two-packs. I was surprised to see Halloween candy already out with the back-to-school items. Acme just has back-to-school going. The CVS on the Collingswood/Oaklyn border hasn't even cleared out their summer displays yet.

(Oh, here's a sign that you know fall's coming soon - the first bags of cinnamon-scented pinecones and funny full-sized scarecrows for yard decorations appear.)

Back to school was also prominent Dollar Tree. They also had some lingering summer items. I was mainly interested in their cleaning items. I just bought scrubbers (and forgot soap, which I really needed - I'll just have to get whatever's cheap at the Acme).

I actually did need to take a look at Rite Aid's back to school section, but not for the usual paper clips and pencils. My old dry erase board was getting kind of scratched and not writing as well. Time for a new one! I bought the same brand as the last one, with a blue-violet border instead of sage green. Also needed Tums and Pepto Bismal. My chest and stomach have been feeling weird. I'm wondering if I have heartburn.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I needed to get that video dubbing pile down, so I worked on that for the rest of the evening. I put a set of two 80s Berenstein Bears episodes, "In the Dark" and "Ring the Bell," on the disc with the 1973 Charlotte's Web. "In the Dark" is an adaptation of the Bears story of the same name. Sister is upset when Brother reads her a spooky story, until Papa shows her there's nothing scary about the dark. I have fond memories of this one. Mom still has our copy of the book, which I've read since I was Sister's age. It is nice to see a story where Papa is the one who helps out, too. (Incidentally, the dark has never bothered me, and doesn't to this day. I find it comforting.)

"Ring the Bell" is an original tale. Brother Bear brags to local bully Too-Tall Grizzly that his papa can beat Too-Tall's at the bell-ringing game at the local fair. Papa's more interested in his recipe for six-flavor honey than in competing with anyone, including the biggest bear in the county. When Too-Tall starts promoting the game, it looks like Papa's going to have to try anyway...with a little surprising help from some angry bees!

(And I really wish the tape had been in better shape. I used to like the Berenstein Bears show in the 80s and have seldom seen it since then. While I was able to dub it, the tape was so scratchy and shaky, I threw it away afterwards.)

I continued my dubbing during dinner. Worked on the first half of Mandrake the Magician as I made Tomatoes and Zucchini with Turkey Meatballs, Chinese Beans with Red Pepper, and spiral noodles. Mandrake is a Columbia serial from 1939, apparently based after a popular newspaper comics character. He's a pilot, inventor, and stage magician who is aiding a professor and his daughter and son in creating a "radio waves ray," whose blasts can destroy in an instant and jam radio and communication signals. A villain named the Wasp wants it for his own ends, and will do anything to get it, from sabotaging Mandrake's plan to crushing him in a flood and leaving him and his manservant Lothar to die in a burning radio station, to obtain it!

I know nothing about this character, other than the name getting bandied around occasionally. I can't tell you much more than this is a pretty standard serial with some nifty magic-themed trappings. It's really fun to see dapper Warren Hall go through his paces with his magic act. Kenneth MacDonald, a "friend" of Mandrake's who may or may not be all that friendly, frequently played villains in the Three Stooges shorts of the 40s.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Perfect Summer Weather

It was cloudy and cool when I awoke this morning. I got up late and didn't get to the laundromat before 11:30. While there were only a few people there when I arrived, they had taken up all but three washers! I'm just glad I got one before even more people appeared. It wasn't a really big load, anyway. Good thing there's a lot more driers than there are washers. I listened to Family Feud, read A Song In the Dark, and hurried off.

I put everything away, then had an omelet with tomatoes, cheese, and mushrooms and cucumber salad for lunch while watching Three Stooges shorts. When I got bored and saw that the sun had come out, I went for a walk. It sure was a gorgeous day for it. By this point, the clouds had vanished, and it was as gorgeous as it had been on Saturday. I strolled down to CVS; I was hoping they'd started their back-to-school sales (the Acme has), but no luck. They still have their summer items out. I left without buying anything. Stopped at Leo's Yum-Yums on the way back and bought a Cotton Candy Yum Yum (creamier water ice).

Work was, once again, busy when I arrived mid-way through rush hour, dead when I left. The worst that happened was we had to tell a couple of those people who purchase sale items cheap for chop shops in Camden that they could only buy ten of the Honey Bunches of Oats cereal on sale. Not ten of each flavor, just ten. I ended up having to put the carts with the remaining boxes away later. I wish they'd learn to have a heart and remember that other people need the sale items, too. If they're so desperate that they can't afford to buy in bulk from regular warehouses, they shouldn't be in business.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Early Autumn

 I was up late with Lauren and consequently didn't get up until 10:30 this morning. I had Chocolate Chip Pancakes and ran Brunch With the Beatles. Today, the show saluted the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein with songs that were written when he was managing them ("I Will,") inspired by him ("Baby You're A Rich Man," which John apparently wrote to encourage Brian after he began thinking the Beatles didn't need him anymore), or by other groups he managed ("Red Rubber Ball" by the Cyrcles, "Ferry Cross the Mersey" by Garry and the Pacemakers). I tried calling Mom, but I got her answering machine. I wasn't working until 5; I'd try again later.

After breakfast and the show ended, I went in the back room to get some different clothes for my dolls. It's cooled off enough that their bathing suits and thin summer frocks are no longer appropriate. Molly's now wearing her Camp Gowanigan uniform from the book Molly Saves the Day. Samantha wears her blue-and-white checked Play Dress and Pinafore with her plastic "meet" Mary Janes and socks. I don't have a lot for Felicity. She wears her Laced Jacket and Skirt, despite it still being a bit too hot for it. Jessa now sports the Earth Day Outfit tie-dye t-shirt and shortalls with mustard-colored socks and Springfield Collection sneakers.

When the girls were all dressed, I tried getting a hold of Mom again. This time, she picked up on the second ring. She said she was in the shower the first time I called. We discussed the cool, cloudy, fall-like weather. I told her about how much fun I had yesterday with the wedding and the Craft Festival, and about the health insurance company giving the Foot and Ankle Center a hard time over my claim. She told me about how much she enjoys being on her own. She can do whatever she wants - look up things online, take classes, do crafts, enjoy events in Cape May. Like me, she doesn't mind being alone.

And apparently my sister Rose has taken some mandatory group therapy sessions in order to get her law certificate. That may have been the smartest thing she ever did. Mom says she's learned a lot about herself and how she tends to overreact to certain situations (like the incident during the Wegman's trip a few weeks ago).

When Mom signed off to greet her husband (who had come home from a fishing job), I headed for the kitchen. In honor of the fall-like weather, I decided to make Pumpkin Cookies. Ran Three Stooges shorts and The Long Hot Summer while working on my treat.

Another well-known Hollywood couple, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, met and fell in love during the making of this southern-set tale from 1958. Big Daddy Warner (Orson Welles) just wants his teacher daughter (Joanne Woodward) to marry and give him grandchildren, especially since her brother (Anthony Franciosa) has already married a local beauty (Lee Remick) that every boy in the area seems to lust over. Woodward's not in any hurry to marry anyone, even the mama's boy who has been courting her for years. Meanwhile, a local widow (Angela Landsbury) has her eyes on Daddy Warner. And then, suspected barn-burner Ben Quick (Newman) smoulders into town, looking for a job. Warner thinks he's found the perfect man for his stubborn daughter; his son sees competition for his father's affections. Woodward, for her part, sees straight through the sexy Quick...or thinks she does.

Other than I thought the ending was a tad too pat, this was a sexy and languid melodrama with none of A Summer Place's frosty glossiness. If you're a fan of any of the cast or of hot-blooded southern-set family dramas, this is well worth seeing.

The cookies took longer to make than I thought they would. I had to rush through a lunch of leftovers, then put them back in the oven when they weren't done enough. When I was pulling the first batch out, I got part of my lower left arm too close to the pan. Ouch! It really hurt! I ran cold water over it right away. I now have a nice red line on the underside of my arm.

I otherwise made it to work intact. Perhaps because of the encroaching clouds, work was busy when I came in, quiet when I left. There were no really major problems, and I was in and out.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Love to Cry at Weddings

There were still clouds leftover from last night when I started this week's American Top 40, and it looked fairly damp on my porch. Casey Kasem warmed things up nicely with the most popular songs of mid-August 1976. Hits from that Bicentennial summer included "Afternoon Delight" by the Starlight Vocal Band, "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" by England Dan and John Ford Cooley,  "Let Them In" by Wings, "This Masquerade" by George Benson, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" by Lou Rawls, and "A Fifth of Beethoven" by the Walter Schumann Orchestra. The number one hit that week, and for three weeks prior, was the classic Elton John/Kiki Dee duet "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart."

By the time Elton and Kiki were winding down, the weather had turned from dismal to gorgeous. It remained a tad humid, but the clouds were rapidly vanishing, replaced by sunshine, gentle breezes, blue skies, and lower 80s temperatures. I made a quick stop at the bank, then went looking for yard sales. I didn't find much, but that's common for this time of year. One sale on Oakland was at the same apartment complex I found Belle at last week. They had new items out, but this time, there was nothing of interest. I couldn't even find the one at Lees Avenue in Collingswood; they must have been scared off by the weather earlier in the morning.

My next stop was the Farm Market. It was very busy there, as usual. Several more varieties of apples and plums debuted this week, including the first Galas of the year. I just ended up with blackberries to make cobbler later, the small Gingergolds, white peaches, cherry tomatoes (I liked them better than keeping the big ones around!), plums, more Chinese beans, a large Valencia onion, and garlic.

I was surprised to encounter a great deal of traffic as I rode up and down Stokes and Lees Avenues looking for yard sales. I couldn't figure out why until I saw the orange detour signs and remembered what today was. I left my bike at the rack near the Farm Market and walked two blocks down to Haddon Avenue and this year's Crafts and Fine Arts Festival.

The Crafts and Fine Arts Festival is basically a more elaborate version of the craft shows Wildwood and Cape May have on their respective boardwalk and promenade during the summer. Local artists come to Haddon Avenue to sell their wares, and there's food booths, too. I saw all kinds of interesting art on display. One woodcarver painted his intricate little mushrooms and gnomes as people watched. A metal sculptor had some truly awesome figures, including a life-sized ET that was letter-perfect and an octopus. There were handbags of every shape, size, and description, including bags made from recycled fabrics. A remodeling company not only showed off what they could do by sawing and nailing boards for the crowd, but gave out plastic "hard hats" for little kids.

(It was nice to be able to really see all of this without rushing, too. I think this may have been the first year I haven't had to work on the day of the Craft Festival.)

I didn't get as lucky as I did at the May Fair and didn't see anything I liked. After I left the show, I rode further down Haddon Avenue to find one more yard sale. They were mostly selling books, purses, shoes, vintage 70s and 80s appliances, and tons and tons of school supplies. I just ended up with a treasury of all of the Paddington books.

After I left the yard sale, I returned to Oaklyn. I really needed a drink, so I stopped at Doria's Deli for a Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi. I had a chat with her about my uncle's delicate health, my current financial problems, and that I'd still like to start some kind of an at-home business. As we talked, Mrs. Doria saw a pair of young men in tuxedos strolling past the shop together. That's not a normal sight. We both tried to figure out why the two would be so dressed-up and finally concluded there must have been a wedding at one of the near-by churches.

I found out what was going on when I finally rode home. A young woman had stopped me when I was going to Doria's and asked me where the VFW is. I just told her to keep going straight. The VFW is often rented out for parties, so I didn't think anything of her request until I saw all of the well-dressed people making their way down Manor Avenue.

Mrs. Doria and I were right about the wedding, but not the location. The wedding was being held next-door to me in Veteran's Park, right in the shade of my favorite tree. There were chairs set up on the slope, a DJ blasting jazz and R&B ballads, and a small arbor decorated with white netting. That was all the trimming they needed. By this point, the weather was amazing...and the park was even prettier, all green and gold and deep brown in the late summer sunshine. I strolled around the park, looking out over the shining river and watching everyone set up for the festivities.

The ceremony took place around quarter after 1. I watched most of it from my porch, though I was in and out throughout the events to have lunch and missed the actual bridal procession. I could hear most of the deep, young-sounded priest's voice clear as a bell, even through the thick trees. I haven't been to a wedding since two of my parents' close friends and neighbors in North Cape May were married in the mid-90s, so even just being able to hear and see this one was a treat.

It was too nice to stay inside after the wedding party retreated to the VFW for the reception. I went for a slightly longer walk around the neighborhood than I did the other day. I made my way down to West Clinton, then to Landis and around to the school playground again. This time, I had it to myself. The only other people there were two teenage boys who were completely absorbed by their basketball game on the other side of the park complex. I listened to their "Awww" and "Aw man!" and the ball thumping off the backboard as I slid down slides and relaxed in a swing.

By the time I made it back to the apartment, it was very late, past 3PM. I finished The Tale of Castle Cottage, then ran Stagecoach while working on a Plum-Apple-Berry Cobbler in the kitchen. The western version of the all-star movies the 30s was so fond of, this has a far grittier feel than something like Grand Hotel. A diverse group of people - a former prostitute (Claire Trevor), a wanted outlaw (John Wayne), a boozy doctor (Thomas Mitchell), a quiet little priest (Donald Meek), a pregnant mother (Louise Platt), a man in an awful hurry to get to town (Berton Churchill), and a gambler (George Bancroft) - are thrown together on a cramped stagecoach traveling across Monument Valley. The navigator (John Carradine) and driver (Andy Devine) find themselves navigating these disparate people through rough waters and across hostile Apache territory. Can they learn to work together, no matter who they are or what they do, for the good of all?

A true classic that many consider to be the first really mature western, a harbinger of the more adult oaters of the 50s and 60s. Mitchell won a supporting actor Oscar as the liquor-swilling doctor, but it was John Wayne, after 70 B-movies and serials in the 30s, who was finally thrust into the limelight as the tough-but-tender Ringo Kid. He and director John Ford would go on to make a whole series of equally thoughtful westerns in the 40s and 50s.

Switched to the moodier To Have and Have Not while whipping up a Chicken Teryiaki Stir Fry and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary for dinner. Lauren Bacall and Humphery Bogart met and fell in love while making this action-romance. Bogart is a boat owner in Martinique shortly before the US entered World War II. He makes his living hauling fishermen around and refuses to help the French Resistance or take sides. He changes his mind when his latest client is killed by the Vichy and he meets the attractive Slim (Bacall), a singer and pickpocket who wants to return to the States. Along with his often-drunk first mate (Walter Brennan), Bogart agrees to take a group of Resistance fighters to Martinique from Devil's Island, but the Vichy are hot on his trail...not to mention, Bacall's now so hot for Bogart, she doesn't want to leave.

 It's really a Caribbean-flavored rehash of Casablanca, but it's worth seeing for the chemistry between Bacall and Bogart. Sparks flew from the get-go; everyone from director Howard Hawks on down could tell that there was something going on between the two of them. My copy includes the Looney Tune short "Bacall to Arms," an accurate and well-animated spoof of To Have.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Honey of a Morning

I made it to the gym by quarter after 11 this morning. It was hotter and hazier than yesterday, but despite rumblings of a possible storm later, it was neither cloudy nor really humid. Lucile Roberts was fairly busy when I arrived, more than likely with people hoping to avoid any bad weather later. I watched a college-themed episode of The Price Is Right while I did a decent session on the elliptical machine. I made sure to go easier on the arm weight machines than I did on the leg machines on Wednesday and stretched my arms as much as I could after I finished.

Went right to the Acme after leaving the gym. I picked up my paycheck, then did this week's shopping. I didn't really have a big order. Most of it was either restocks or non-food items. I'm out of toilet paper, sandwich bags, and nuts, and am almost out of sugar and eggs. The Hershey's chocolate chips were on sale. I love their Special Dark. Picked up canned tuna to replace what I had for lunch yesterday. I would normally buy my contact lens solution at a drug store, but I'm just about out, and I don't think I have enough left in the current bottle to wait.

I had just enough time when I arrived at home to put everything away, make a tomato and cheese omelet for lunch, and run Winnie the Pooh. A charming and creative reboot of Disney's Pooh franchise has the members of the 100 Acre Woods searching for Eeyore's tail, then for the fearsome Backson monster, whom they think have made off with Christopher Robin. That's pretty much the whole story. Fans of high action or complicated plots will want to look elsewhere, but for little kids and adult Pooh fans, the creative wordplay (literal and figuratively speaking) and gentle songs are endearing.

Clouds were just starting to sweep over the horizon as I rode my bike to work. Work was very busy the entire night. We were really short on help, too. We've had our hours cut, and one late cashier never bothered appearing. A manager finally came in for me so I could head home.

I'm not entirely happy with my schedule next week. On one hand, I do have Tuesday and Friday off, which I appreciate. It's less time to wait between days. The trouble is, I'm working until 9 and 10 on the days I do work. All the new people they've trained as cashiers are actually older employees who wanted different jobs. That means they have seniority and get the prime hours.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Balance In the Sun

I couldn't believe how beautiful it was when I headed out for this week's yoga class. It was just about as perfect as weather gets in mid-August in Southern New Jersey - bright, sunny, breezy, without the tiniest bit of humidity or haze, probably in the lower-mid 80s. We celebrated the magnificent day by working on twists. I'm glad we did. I had been feeling rather stiff in my lower body since my gym workout yesterday. I must have overdone the leg machine work. I felt much better and less stiff after yoga.

For once, there was a lot to do at the Collingswood Library. I put away a nice stack of DVDs and organized the rest, including the children's collection, which was recently moved where they'd originally had the audio books. Nothing going on upstairs, though. I headed out around quarter of 12.

It was too nice to eat lunch inside. I had just enough money to buy a turkey hoagie and a small bottle of water from WaWa. I rode over to Newton River Park and settled down on a metal and plastic table to enjoy my impromptu picnic. Mothers watched their children chase each other around the playground. Friends strolled across the now much greener grass. People walked their dogs and pushed strollers down the winding paths. A few boats bobbed lazily along on the green river.

When I got home, I spent a few hours doing chores and things around the apartment I'd put off. Two of my older farm market apples were developing brown spots. I sliced them, scooped out the bruises, and made Apple Muffins. I finally finished dusting the bedroom. I went through this week's supermarket and drug store flyers. I called the Foot and Ankle Center, whom I haven't heard from since last month. Apparently, the insurance center is now claiming they haven't gotten the forms, despite the fact that we sent them on July 19th! When Colleen called back, she said the woman at the insurance company rudely informed her that she would go through the papers and see if they had arrived. I'll try calling them again tomorrow to see if they've made any progress with these people.

I ran Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus while all this was going on. I've rented this one from the Haddon Township Library before. While this Barbie action tale touts its 3-D effects, the real stand-outs are the well-drawn characters and touching story of a young girl who seeks to create a wand that will liberate her parents and sister from a wizard's evil spell. Definitely one of the best Barbie As... fantasy films; very much worth looking for if you have a little girl.

That amazing weather beckoned, though. After Magic of the Pegasus ended and I made my call to the Foot and Ankle Center, I went for a short walk. Strolled down Manor to West Clinton, then around Landis to the playground behind the school. Another set of mothers watched a group of little kids as they flew down slides and swung across monkey bars. I went down a slide myself (despite it being awfully hot), then headed across the school's field to Kendall Boulevard, and finally down Goff to Manor.

Went to work about a half-hour later. Work was surprisingly busy for a Thursday in the middle of the month. I saw a lot of mothers and teenagers with big orders. I suspect many future college students were preparing to move into their new homes for the first time. Other than some mildly annoying customers, there were no major problems. One of the college boys who had been working on putting up next week's sale tags came in for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Rain Is Here To Stay

I awoke so late today, it was nearly 11 before I had breakfast, and quarter of 1 before I made it to the gym! I've decided to replace the stationary bike with a second elliptical workout. The bike just doesn't take off enough calories, no matter how far up I set the resistance. It took me a while to get to the leg machines. There were quite a few people on them today, including two older women who needed to take a while.

It was exactly 2 when I made it home. It had been hot, cloudy, and humid all morning, but it wasn't really doing much else besides looking damp. I was sweaty but otherwise fine when I got in. I grabbed tuna and tossed it into leftover Chinese beans for lunch while running An American In Paris.

Gene Kelly and Oscar Levant are buddies and artists (Kelly a painter, Levant a pianist and composer) who opted to stay in Paris after World War II. Kelly's not doing well until he meets an wealthy woman (Nina Foch) who wants to sponsor him...among other things. Kelly's ready to accept her offer, but then he meets the beautiful, elusive Lise (Leslie Caron). She's in a relationship with his good friend, a French music hall star (Georges Guetary), but isn't entirely happy. The two fall deeply in love with each other amid a backdrop of classic George Gershwin music and the most dazzling original ballet ever captured on film.

I think this mainly won the Oscar for that famous 17-minute ballet that concludes the film. It's an amazing riot of color and recreations of famous French artworks of various eras. The rest of the film is charming but not quite at the same level. The dated post-war plot really drags things down. There are a few other lovely numbers, notably Caron and Kelly's duet to "Our Love Is Here To Stay," Guetary delighting his music hall audiences with "Stairway to Paradise," and Kelly teaching a group of French street urchins "I Got Rhythm."

American In Paris ended just as I was heading out for work. Work was on-and-off busy, more so than last night. Otherwise, there were no major problems.

It was rather wet when I headed out. I saw customers carrying umbrellas earlier in the night, and my porch was soaked. The rain must have been long gone by the time I made it home, though. I arrived perfectly dry.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crazy Little Thing Called Weather

It's probably just as well that I slept until almost 10 this morning. I awoke to a heavy shower that lasted through noon. I spent the remaining morning watching Phineas & Ferb and having a quick Cheerios and peaches breakfast. This is one of the most creative animated shows I've seen in a while. My favorite episodes were "Road Trip," where Phineas and Ferb not only somehow manage to build a truck stop on the top of their parents' RV, but rope Candace into being a waitress, and "The Remains of the Platypus," which is told backwards, "Memento"-style.

When the rain finally ended shortly after 12, I grabbed my umbrella and strolled to the Oaklyn Library for today's volunteer session there. It was still cloudy and very humid, but not really that hot. The weather must have driven a lot of people indoors; the place was pretty busy today. I organized both adult and kids' DVDs, shelved adult books, and organized the picture books.

I went for a short walk around Oaklyn after leaving the library. The clouds had begun to break up by this point. That wasn't a good thing; the relatively mild temperatures disappeared whenever the clouds did. If nothing else, the recent rain has done wonders for the plants. Everything looks much greener, including the formerly fried grass. Black-eyed susans and sunflowers wave in gardens; trees seem far perkier.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home, watching Stooges shorts and making salmon, cucumber salad, and eggplant Parmesan for lunch and Lime Chiffon Cake for afterwards. That "meringue" I made yesterday refused to stiffen and more closely resembled a pile of egg mush than dessert. I folded it into cake flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, sugar, and the last of the lime juice I bought for Dad's birthday mousse pie last month.

The clouds returned while I was working on the cake. It was showering lightly as I left for work, but nothing like this morning. Work was the same as Sunday; busy when I arrived, so quiet by the time I left, I spent the last half-hour doing returns. It was still humid but relatively dry by the time I got out; the rain must not have stuck around for long.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Friendship Among Rogues, Muppets, and Platypuses

I slept in until quarter of 10 this morning and didn't get to the laundromat until nearly 12:30! That might not have been a bad thing. Unlike last week, it was pretty quiet. Other than a few Hispanic guys doing washing their boxers, I more-or-less had the place to myself. Once again, I managed to leave as it was getting busier.

When I got home, I put the laundry away and finished The Muppets, which I started during my late breakfast. This was Disney's revival of everyone's favorite nutty puppets last November, and I thought it was pretty cute and surprisingly thoughtful. Walter (voice of Peter Linz) is a Muppet living in a human world. His brother and best friend (Jason Segal) and his girlfriend (Amy Adams) are on vacation in LA; he joins them to see the Muppet Studio, where The Muppet Show and films were made. Walter is obsessed with the Muppets...and is shocked when he discovers that the Studio is abandoned and the Muppets have scattered. Even worse, a nasty oil baron (an appropriately over-the-top Chris Cooper) wants to tear down the complex and drill under it! It takes hard work, dedication, and a lot of musical numbers, but Walter finally teaches the Muppets the meaning of family and believing in yourself.

I really enjoyed this wacky ode to nostalgia and the importance of friendship and remembering the past. Jason Segal was apparently the driving force behind this project. He co-wrote it and convinced Disney to give the Muppets a shot after sitting on the franchise for years with little besides DVD releases to show for it. He was very right; this was so well-written, I found myself tearing up during the number where Kermit looks at pictures of his friends and recalls the fun they had making shows. Cute music, too - "Man or Muppet?" was nominated for an Oscar. An absolute must for Muppet fans, nostalgia nuts, and families with older kids who are looking for silly yet appropriate entertainment.

I didn't get to the Haddon Township Library until past 3PM today. The weather remained gorgeous, sunny and breezy without being humid, probably in the mid-80s. Newton River Park reflected this; it was far busier than usual, with lots of dog walkers and parents pushing kids in strollers. I rode on the street for part of the way to dodge the foot traffic.

Haddon Township Library was busy, too. Once again, they also had plenty of help. I did organize the kids' DVDs and return a few adult titles and children's picture books. Pulled foreign and children's titles from the adult ones. Do people really think the Land Before Time series DVDs are for adults (besides the first one)? The library really needs to dig up more pink labels for the kids' stuff. I did end up taking out the classic drama The Long Hot Summer with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, the ensemble comedy Dazed and Confused, and a set for the popular Disney cartoon series Phineas and Ferb, The Perry Files.

It was so nice, I rode around a little in Haddon Township and Oaklyn after leaving the library. I stopped for an Icee and a pretzel at WaWa on the way home. It was 4:30 by then; I had a hard time riding across the White Horse Pike, which was busy with rush-hour travelers.

Headed home with my Icee to make a meringue. Ran The Road to El Dorado while I worked. Tuilio and Miguel (Keven Kline and Kevin Branagh) are con men in 1500s Spain who get their hands on a map to the fabled golden South American city of El Dorado. With the help of a hungry horse, they escape gold-hungry explorer Cortez (Jim Cummings) and find themselves in South America. The map does, indeed, take them to the city, where they're treated like gods by the local population. Ever-worried Tullio is sure that trouble is just around the corner, but meanwhile, he'll enjoy smart-mouthed Chel (Rosie Perez), a female thief who wants out. Miguel, on the other hand, really comes to appreciate the people of El Dorado and their culture. Will the four do the right thing when Cortez and a jealous high priest (Armand Assante) attack the new "gods" and the people?

Dreamworks' third animated film is a hilarious animated variation on the formula of the Road To...movies of the 40s and 50s - two wisecracking con-artists look for treasure, picking up a sexy and equally wisecracking girl on the way. This was a particular favorite of little boys in the early 2000s; my brother went around saying Tulio and Miguel's "You da God!" for ages. Awesome Elton John score, too; "Someday Out of the Blue" is my favorite recent John song. Great for fans of Indiana Jones-style action, animated films that think a bit outside the box, or parents looking for a fun animated movie for older boys (some sexual suggestiveness and fantasy violence pushes this out of the realm of the really little guys).

Switched to Phineas and Ferb while making salmon, sauteed Chinese beans, and corn on the cob for dinner. This funny and inventive series has become to the Disney Channel what Spongebob Squarepants is to Nickelodeon - their number one animated, frequently re-run cash cow franchise. Unlike Spongebob, which can get annoying when seen in succession, this one deserves the hype and the accolades.

The title characters are imaginative upper-grade-school boys who constantly invent wild machines to make their summer cooler. Their obnoxious teenage sister Candace would love to tattle on their adventures, if she could ever catch them in the act! Running concurrently with this is the tale of the boys' pet platypus Perry, who in reality is a spy named Agent P who is constantly after the mad scientist Dr. Doofenshmirtz, inventor of useless-yet-destructive objects, and his punk teenage daughter Vanessa. Somehow, all of this manages to combine to help Agent P save the day, the boys have another crazy afternoon, and Candace get the guy.

When even your mother praises a cartoon, you know it's something special. Mom likes that the parents are portrayed as fairly competent and that the boys and Candace use their heads and their creativity to get out of jams. I like that everyone, from silly Doofenshmirtz to the boys and even Candace, are portrayed as relatively three-dimensional for a cartoon, and how they manage to weave together plot strands from what seems to be three different shows someone just threw together. It's seen pretty much every day on the Disney Channel, especially in afternoons; well worth checking out, for adults and kids.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Hard Day's Stooge

 I ran Brunch With the Beatles while I wrote in my journal this morning and got dressed. The theme was "A Hard Day's Night and the Summer of '64." We mainly heard songs from "Hard Day's Night"'s soundtrack, including the title cut, "If I Fell," and "I Should Have Known Better."

By the time I was making Plum Spice Pancakes for breakfast, I'd switched to the second disc of The Three Stooges Collection Vol. 7. The headliners here are two shorts that were made in 3-D, in response to the original 50s 3-D craze. (The set even includes glasses.) "Spooks!" is a routine haunted house story that pits the Stooges against a gorilla and a mad scientist. "Pardon My Backfire", which has the Stooges working at a gas station in order to earn enough money to marry their fiancees, is slightly better.

Most of the shorts here were remakes, thanks to Columbia downsizing the shorts department. The majority of them were just ok; one, "Musty Musketeers," actually improved on the 1948 original, "Fiddlers Three," with a better overall flow and a far funnier sword fight ending that made more sense. Of the completely new episodes, my favorite was "Goof On the Roof," which proves that it takes a lot more than Three Stooges to set up one TV set without completely destroying the house.

Chatted with Mom during the 3-D shorts. She's worried about Keefe. He's doing badly on some of his Navy tests. The Nuclear department is very demanding...even more so, now that they've cut a few extra weeks off the program so they can finish before Christmas. He's not great with language arts and is having a hard time memorizing and writing paragraphs of complicated definitions.

I worked on Belle after I got off with Mom. Poor dear! Her body looks better, but there seems to be no fixing her frizzy hair, which is in even worse shape than Larry's. I tried to brush it and used detangler, but it just ended up looking even frizzier. I'll give her a Downy dunk the next time I can afford to pick up a bottle.

It was absolutely gorgeous today. The sky was sunny and blue, without a hint of haze. While it remains hot, it's not nearly as humid as it was. I just had to take a quick walk down to West Clinton Avenue. The recent rain has helped the flora, too. Gardens don't look quite as parched; I can actually see green grass amid the dry gray sticks. Stopped at Leo's Yum Yums and picked up a Lemon Yum-Yum. Not bad; it even had lemon zest pieces.

I ran a couple of cartoons related to the Olympics in honor of tonight's Closing Ceremonies as I got ready for work. Marcie and Chuck are enlisted to be their school's representatives in the Decathalon in You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown. They both have a shot at winning...if they can get past boastful Freddy Fabulous from Fremont and the familiar "Masked Marvel." Mickey Mouse takes on the marathon in Barnyard Olympics, a 1932 black-and-white short. His competition, an obnoxious cat, cheats at every turn. Mickey, however, has Minnie and Clarabelle to cheer him on to the finish line.

Work was lines-down-the-aisles busy when I arrived. By 5, the lines had thinned dramatically. I spent the last half-hour doing returns. There were no major problems, and despite the quiet later, I was in and out quickly.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beauty and the Shelf

Started today with this week's American Top 40. Casey dropped back two years to August 1977. Disco was just emerging as king of the late 70s music scene that summer, joined by pop, R&B, and hard rock. Hits included "You and Me" by Alice Cooper, "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor's version of "Handyman," "Higher and Higher" by Rita Coolidge, "Looks Like We've Made It" by Barry Manilow, "Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day, and "My Heart Belongs to Me" by Barbara Streisand.

I hadn't expected to hit any yard sales today...but there ended up being two of them minutes of my apartment in Oaklyn. Found a very nice folding shelf at a sale on West Cedar for five dollars. It was a bit awkward riding with it on my bike, so I took it home, left it on my steps, and went back out. My finds at West Oakland, a few doors down from the WaWa, were a bit easier to carry - the DVD for Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus and a cute Belle toddler doll who needed a little TLC. She's not from the Animator's Collection line, but even with a dirty face, torn stockings, and badly matted hair, she was still darling...and only a dollar. (She has rather pretty olive-green eyes. I always thought Belle's eyes were brown, but I like my Belle's eyes, too.)

Made a quick stop at the bank to deposit my paycheck next, then rode on to the Farm Market. Raspberries, blueberries, and those little cantaloupes are gone, but just about everything else is out in full force. The crowds were, too. It was packed when I arrived around 10:30. I managed to squeeze through long enough to grab corn, white peaches, tiny Pristine apples, a heirloom tomato, a pint of mixed cherry-sized tomatoes in various colors, plums, Chinese beans, an orange and a green-red pepper, and a ball-shaped lavender eggplant.

I saw no other yard sales, and I didn't have much money left anyway, so I went straight home. I put my produce away, then spent an hour and a half organizing my new finds. I moved the children's books and comic books to the new shelf, weeded out my comic books, moved the Care Bears to the shelf across from my bed, and put all of the crates but one out in the music area to hold records. (I may move one crate back, though.)

Ran The Outlaws Is Coming! and more Stooges shorts as I organized. Outlaws is the last of the Stooges movies of the 60s. This time, the Stooges are printers' assistants going out west with a young editor (Adam West of the 60s Batman fame) to find out what's happening to the buffalo herds. If the buffalo disappears, the Indians will go to war against the US Calvary! The quartet discover that a dastardly local criminal and his band of gunslingers (all of them played by kids' TV hosts who ran Stooges shorts on their programs, including Philadelphia favorite Sally Starr as Belle Starr) are driving the buffalo away and selling rifles to the Natives. While West pursues sharpshooter Annie Oakley (Nancy Hovick), the Stooges try to stop the ruthless killers and turn them to the right side of the law.

If you have fond memories of any of the "gunslingers" or are a fan of western spoofs, try this one on for size. It's much better than the so-so Around the World In a Daze. West is probably less stiff here than he was in Batman; Hovick and the "gunslingers" are having a ball. You're still better off going to the shorts first, but if you want to see what they did after the shorts petered out, this is probably the best place to start.

The shorts I watched during a leftovers lunch were, to put it kindly, a mixed bag. Most of them, like Up In Daisy's Penthouse, were remakes of older shorts (this one was reworked from Curly's Three Dumb Clucks). Of the totally new material, my favorites were Three Dark Horses, a hilarious political spoof, and the very strange Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo. Shemp is a drunk who hallucinates giant canaries, Larry's a noisy lout, and Moe's hot on the trail of both and their lady friends as they hide out in a stolen train car. Larry put in what was probably his best performance; he really threw himself into that Marlon Brando impression. Shemp has a lot of fun with his drunk routines, too.

I worked on cleaning Belle up before lunch. I dropped her dress in the laundry basket; that will be washed Monday with my clothes. I easily washed her dusty face and body. It was her hair that I couldn't figure out. I used tons of conditioner, and it remained a tangled mop. She's drying in the shower now. I'll see what I can do about her hair tomorrow.

I had customer problems at work. One of the older women who order you to bag the moment they see you without even a "How do you do?" threw a fit when I said "Hello, may I have your card?" over her demands. She shouldn't have been rude...or accused me of having a bad attitude! I got very upset, and despite my profuse apologies, she complained to the manager. The manager didn't take her seriously. Apparently, that same woman comes in every Saturday evening and always causes trouble for somebody. Last week, she fussed to him that he should lower a price for her when the price was as low as it could be made...and she whined that she would complain about him!

We were actually pretty busy tonight. Not a good thing; we were also short-handed. The guy who was supposed to work late called out. One of the college students took over for him, but that meant he was alone. A manager came in for me so I could get out at a decent time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Around the World With the Stooges

It was just dark and damp when I got up around 9:30, but by the time I was eating breakfast, the storm was out in full-force. No matter. I ate breakfast, then grabbed my umbrella and went to retrieve my most recent order from given my current financial situation, the last order I'll be getting from them for a while. I couldn't find the two 60s Stooges movies I wanted to see at FYE last week. I did see The Three Stooges Collection Vol. 7, but I found it for cheaper at Amazon with free shipping.

Ran a couple of shorts as I got ready to head out. Volume 7 brings more changes to the Stooges as Columbia downsizes its short subject department and embraces new technology like 3-D. It also brings more remakes - "A Missed Fortune" is Shemp version of the Curly short "Healthy, Wealthy, and Dumb," while "Listen, Judge" combines gags from "A Plumbing We Will Go" and "An Ache In Every Stake." I once again found myself feeling sorry for the Stooges when a dame plays them all for a sucker in "Corny Casanovas." Larry's the one causing the trouble in the odd "He Cooked His Goose." He's a pet store owner chasing Moe's wife and Shemp's girlfriend, until Shemp figures out a way to turn the tables on him.

I waited until the rain stopped to head out for this week's gym/groceries run. I didn't get to Lucile Roberts until 12:30, thanks to having to go back twice for things I forgot. Lucile Roberts was dead, probably thanks to it being lunch time. There were only two or three other women there. I watched the men's basketball semi-finals (I think Russia beat Spain), men's canoeing, and men's wrestling. (The little American guy was really killing his opponent.) Did a really nice elliptical session, then a quick one on the arm machines.

Went to the Acme next for a much-needed paycheck and a short grocery trip. I rarely need a lot in the summer; when I'm at home, I eat meat, vegetables, and the occasional slice of bakery bread. I was mostly restocking things like chicken ($1.99 a pound for Acme's skinless chicken thighs!), green tea, white cooking wine, tortillas, milk, and fruit concentrate. Acme's generic Shopper's Value Ice Cream was even cheaper than usual - a $1.78 for a small, square paper package like the old Sealtest cartons? I couldn't resist. (Not only that, but it's less fattening than many frozen yogurts!) I also had an Acme coupon for two free Shopper's Value bags of salty snacks. Got two bags of pretzels, the mini twists and the honey wheat rods.

Spent the next few hours at home, doing things around my apartment. I put my groceries away. I baked brownies. I hung the new shower curtain. Amid the activity, I watched The Three Stooges Go Around the World In a Daze, one of the two 60s Stooges movies I grabbed with my Amazon order. This is a cute updating of Around the World In 80 Days, with some of the Stooges' older material (such as Curly-Joe going bezerk whenever he hears "Pop Goes the Weasel," a reworking of a Curly gag from the short "Punch Drunks") thrown in. The great-grandson of Phines Fogg must go around the world in 80 days again...this time, without spending the dime. He's joined by his three incompetent servants (the Stooges, naturally) and a lovely American woman on tour in Asia. Not to mention, two thieves have framed him for a bank robbery he didn't commit, and there's a world-wide warrant out for his arrest.

Only necessary for major fans of the Stooges or of the source material. Ok time-waster if you run into it on cable or for rental...but those interested in the Stooges will definitely want to go to the shorts first. Jules Verne fans will want to try the 1957 movie or 80s mini-series before coming here.

Thankfully, at press time, the weather has continued to be off-and-on cloudy and humid but not rainy. I got to and from work dry, despite occasional reports of wet weather from customers. Work was busy when I came in, on-and-off after rush-hour ended. Other than a few remaining beginning-of-the-month people, there were no major problems.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Balance With Friends and Family

It was another hot, sunny, muggy morning when I headed out for this week's yoga class. You can tell we're getting close to the end of the summer - the class was full for the first time in weeks. That didn't leave us a lot of room to work on standing poses and inversions. I did pretty good on a variation on the "legs up the wall" that we did last week. I'm not very good at splits, though. I just can't get down that far.

Headed right for the Collingswood Library afterwards. Once again, there wasn't much to do. I organized the DVDs and shelved two books upstairs. Ended up spending an hour paging through coffee table books on movie musicals.

Jody, the sweet older woman I shared a cup of tea with in March, had finally gotten back to me after being busy with work and trips for the past few months. She was going on another trip, but would have time for some more tea with me this afternoon. At least, we could have had more time if I hadn't gotten lost looking for her house! I completely forgot to bring the address with me. Had to go back to the library to get it! It did mean I was late, but we had a nice little chat over cups of herbal tea anyway, mainly about our families and my inability to sit down and start writing. I borrowed a book about writing characters and a book on writing for children.

The Pretzel Factory is down the street from Jody's house. I stopped there for a snack on the way home, since my lunch was going to be late. When I finally got in, I made fruit salad with lime-honey dressing for lunch and finished the Babar set. Of the remaining three episodes, my favorite was "The Phantom," a rather sweet take on Phantom of the Opera set during Babar's stay with Madame in the city. Babar hears a beautiful melody coming from an abandoned music hall. He discovers a former concert pianist who has been forgotten and now refuses to leave the stage where he was once a hit.

I got bored later in the afternoon and decided to go for a swim. I'm glad I did. Uncle Ken just came back from a stay at the hospital. My cousin Samantha, her husband David, and their children Ethan, Matt, and Faith were staying with him while he recovers. Dad and Jodie had an old friend, Gary, over. I swam with Matt and Ethan in the pool, laughing as they chased after a glittering, translucent ball. (I think Ethan won, 19-11 the last I'd heard.) After I got tired of swimming, I went inside to say "hi" to everyone else. Uncle Ken, Dave, Sam, and Faith were watching a special on dinosaurs on Nat Geo Wild; a neighbor came over to chat with them while I was there.

When I got home, I made Italian summer veggies and salmon while finishing Thor. The last of the three Marvel Comics movies that lead up to this year's Avengers is a bit more comic book-ish than Captain America. Cocky Thor, God of Thunder (Chris Helmsforth) is banished from his home Asgarth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) when he starts a war with the Frost Giants. He's hurled to Earth without his powers or his might hammer. He's discovered by a pack of scientists, including the lovely Jane (Natalie Portman) who want to know more about him. They're not the only ones; the government's after him, too, as is his scheming half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor is determined to prove himself worthy of his beloved hammer and his place in Asgarth, even as he learns about earthly love from Jane...

Strange stuff. Very, very strange. I still liked Captain America better, but this wasn't bad, either. More sweeping than the goofier Iron Man movies, and more comic book-ish than the Captain's slightly gritty World War II tale. Great for mythology nuts, science fiction fans, and those who saw or are planning to see The Avengers, which, like Captain America, this leads up to.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Doctor Is In

I got up early for my 9AM doctor's appointment this morning. I was a little later than they asked for, thanks to traffic on Cuthbert Road. The doctor's office is in the big Sentry Plaza office building in Westmont. (NOT in Haddonfield; apparently, they just moved in December, and some online directories haven't changed the address yet.) I wish I hadn't been late. It took me a while to sign the paperwork. (I wish anything involving health wasn't so complicated.)

A nurse took weighed me and took my height, temperature, and blood pressure when I got in...and then, Dr. Manalis finally arrived. She took my blood pressure again with a wider, more accurate strap, then basically asked me a lot of questions about my medical history. She'll need to send me a list of people who can take blood to do my cholesterol...but other than that and my obvious weight problems, I'm perfectly healthy. No high blood pressure or hypertension. She pretty much said keep riding and working out and watch what you eat.

My throat was dry when I got out, so I made a quick stop at a tiny deli next to the doctors' suites for a bottle of water. I rode around Haddon Township, winding up in the neighborhood behind Haddon Township High School. Since I was there anyway, I stopped at Super Fresh to check out a few sales. Not finding anything, I just headed back to Oaklyn.

The next stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. I did get to do some work on the adult DVDs. There were kids playing with the magnetic maze games in the children's area, so I didn't get to do as much there. When I finished with the picture books, I hopped on my bike and rode home.

Didn't go anywhere else for the rest of the afternoon. I discovered that Microsoft Works does have a budget spreadsheet I can use. It'll probably be easier to figure out next month, when I have my receipts. I already got rid of last month's receipts. I dusted the living room. I took out the trash. I checked my e-mail. I had leftovers for lunch and an early dinner. I watched more Babar.

By the second half of the first season, Babar had settled comfortably into the formula of Babar telling his children a story that relates to his own childhood as the young king of the elephants and tells a moral. My favorites were "No Place Like Home," where a clown who has never lived anywhere but the circus tries to stay with Babar in the palace, and "The Show Must Go On," where Babar, goofy King Rataxes of the rhinos, and the other elephants of the court take over a ballet when the cast departs after feuding with a spoiled diva ostrich.

When I got into work, we were just getting hit by the tail end of the rush hour crowd.  This coupled with some annoying beginning of the month crowds made for long lines. They didn't last long. When rush hour ended, so did the crowds. It was so quiet by the time I left, I was doing candy. Other than my register froze in the middle of a long line and I had to move to another one, there were no major problems.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

An Elephant Never Forgets

I slept in again this morning. Didn't start out to the Haddon Township Library until past 11:30! It was warm and humid, but once again, the clouds kept it from being quite as steamy as last week. I passed by many people on my way there. Kids played in the park with their folks. Several people rode bikes or jogged.

The library was a bit busier than it has been. I worked on organizing the kids' DVDs until the librarians were able to sign in more titles. Cleared a pretty good-sized stack of foreign films out of the regular adult DVD titles, too. I don't know why more people don't pay attention to the labels. Even if they don't see the (admittedly small) blue "foreign" rectangle on the spine, it's usually easy to tell that a title is in another language.

The library's gotten a ton of new titles in lately. I ended up with last year's Thor and The Muppets, the 1938 Bette Davis vehicle Jezebel, and the first season of the 1989 Babar cartoon.

Rode across Westmont and Audubon to Simply Soups for a simple and late lunch. I had my favorite meal from them - the Italian Wedding Soup with breadsticks and a can of soda (Diet Mountain Dew today). Though it was 1:30 before I arrived, there were still quite a few people picking up containers of soup for office lunches. A father and his impatient toddler daughter enjoyed bowls of soup before she got bored and almost dragged Daddy out the door.

(I noticed a few changes since Lauren and I were there in May. That beautiful view of Pine Street from the wide front window has been blocked by dark plastic sheets and a heavy curtain. It's probably for privacy and to keep the metal furniture from getting boiling hot, but it's also a lot less interesting to look at.)

Went straight to the gym after lunch. This time, I remembered the iPod, and I had a great soundtrack as I worked up a sweat on the stationary bike and watched the American Women's Volleyball team play the Dominican Republic in the Olympics. (Team USA ultimately won, 3-0.) Had to wait for a couple of the leg machines, despite it not being that busy. The cardio machines were barely used. This is the first time I saw no one on the treadmills.

I was tired and spent the rest of the evening at home. Ran Jezebel when I got in. This is set in the same era as the recent Marie-Grace/Cecile American Girl books, early 1850s New Orleans. Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) is no sweet little girl in pink ruffled dresses, though. She's a strong-willed, egotistical woman who knows what she wants - and what she wants is equally strong-willed banker Pres (Henry Fonda). He and her quieter aunt (Fay Bainter) are shocked when Julie opts for a red dress instead of white at a major ball. Pres is so mad, he makes her dance among the crowd that's treating her like a leper, even though she realizes she made a mistake and wants out. After that incident, he just drops the engagement.

A year later, Julie's still in shock over losing Pres. When she hears he's coming home, she holds a big party for him, including the white dress she was to have worn to the ball in the first place. Trouble is, he comes home with a bride...right in time for the yellow fever epidemic that also struck Marie Grace and Cecile's families, along with most of New Orleans. Julie is determined to prove to him that she can be as noble as anybody in the Old South.

Released to capitalize on the popularity of the novel Gone With the Wind and to pacify Davis after she lost the role of Scarlett O'Hara, I wasn't sure what to make of this one. I'm not a real big fan of Wind, either. Henry Fonda seems a bit uncomfortable; the ladies are generally happier, with Davis and Bainter both showing why they won Oscars for their work here. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, too, especially the two dresses that cause all the ruckus. (The infamous red dress is on the cover of my Classic Costumes From Great Movies paper doll book.) Great for fans of Davis or Fonda, Gone With the Wind, or southern-set stories...but watch out for the same racial stereotypes that mar Wind.

Switched to the far quieter Babar while having cornmeal-crusted chicken fingers, corn on the cob, and sauteed Chinese beans and peppers for dinner. The original 1989 Babar was an oddity in several respects. It followed the books fairly faithfully, it featured series-spanning storylines (which Western animated series were only just starting to do in the 80s) and characters who learned things, grew up, and changed, a far cry from the loonies and mystery solvers of 60s and 70s animation. This was intended for young children; there's a death scene in the first episode that's discussed in the following two, but after that, it settles down into a more kid-friendly affair.

I fondly remember watching this on I believe the Disney Channel in the late 80s. It's still a very sweet show, and I'm glad to see it again.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Olympic Laundry Dash

Slept in again; when I did finally get up, I started the day off with that leftover burrito from Saturday night and the remaining two Peanuts specials on the Lucy Must Be Traded disc.  Charlie Brown's All-Stars and It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown are basically two versions of the same theme - Chuck and his baseball team can never catch a break. In both, they're promised uniforms by a Mr. Hennessy. The 1966 All-Stars has Chuck turn him down when Hennessy insists that the girls and Snoopy are dropped from the team; in the 1992 Spring Training, they have to win a game to get the uniforms.

I didn't make it to the laundromat until almost 12:30. I timed it pretty well. It wasn't busy when I arrived. The washers were almost full, but there were only two people watching Olympic track and field heats and synchronized swimming competitions. Track doesn't do much for me, but I enjoyed the swimmers. The Russians, with their cute Sailor Moon-esque hair styles and amazing backflips, were the deserved winners; I also liked the Spanish women. (Wasn't impressed by the less dramatic Chinese duo; the American pair were literally out of sync). By the time I unloaded my large pile of clothes and towels out of the dryer, the place was filled with at least three large families doing their weekly laundry. I ducked under and around people and squeezed out.

I got in so late, it was past 2:30 before I started my lunch of salmon and tomatoes in chicken broth and leftover cucumber salad. I ran a couple of Three Stooges shorts as I changed into my work uniform and made a quick dinner. Hurried out into a day that was on-and-off cloudy, and still  hot and humid but not as bad as it was.

Work was very busy for most of the night. It's the first Sunday of the month, so in addition to the usual beginning of the month people, we had college students preparing to return to school, and people going to or from vacations. Other than a few annoying customers, there were no major problems. A manager came in for me so I could get out on time.