Friday, November 30, 2012


I slept so late today, it was past noon when I finally got to the Acme to do this week's grocery shopping. I mainly needed to restock the fresh fruit and vegetables. I tried to buy whatever was cheapest. Local Gala apples are still $1.49 a pound. I bought collard greens instead of something more expensive, like cauliflower. Got romaine lettuce, too. I'm almost out of cooking spray - I probably should have put it off, because the sale wasn't great.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my place, doing writing and looking things up online pertaining to a short story I'm working on. When I finished, I had leftover soup for dinner while running Scooby Doo's All-Star Laugh-a-Lympics.

I'm so glad Warners finally released more of this hilarious late-70s gathering of most of Hanna-Barbara's major animated characters of the time. The premise is pretty simple. Three teams, one made up of HB's funny animal characters (the Yogi Yahooeys), one of the mystery-solving teams and human characters (the Scoobys), and one of various villains (the Really Rottens). Each episode puts the teams in two entirely different exotic locations, literally from the North Pole to the South Pacific, in a series of increasingly oddball competitions.

While I've always gone with the Yogis (being a fan of many of the HB funny animals, including Yogi himself), I have to admit, the Rottens are growing on me. Yeah, they cheat pretty outrageously, but they can be just as ingenious as anyone else in getting to the finish line. And there's Daisy Mayhem, the nutty, noisy hillbilly beauty who can probably out-yell and out-throw almost anyone else in the competition except for maybe Grape Ape and the largest of the Dalton brothers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

To the Library, Bat-Cucumber!

I started off a sunny, chilly morning with a some memories of Christmas lights for Helium and doing some research online. As of this morning, my Disability still hasn't gone through. I hope they didn't mean 14 WORKING days. Considering that Thanksgiving was in there, if they're only counting weekdays, it may not arrive until next week! I really, really need that money!

Had a quick lunch around 1:30, then headed out for my first Haddon Township Library volunteering session in months. It was absolutely gorgeous today. Cold, but sunny and breezy, with a lovely blue sky overhead. I was surprised at how quiet Newton River Park was. I saw maybe three people and two flocks of Canadian geese.

The library was very busy. I arrived right as school was ending, and there were quite a few people working at the computers and digging around for movies. As they did at Oaklyn yesterday, the kids' DVDs VERY badly needed to be organized. The adult DVDs weren't in quite as bad of shape. I only had to fish a few foreign titles out of the adult movies. There was a nice stack to shelve, too.

The kids' DVDs took so long, I ran out of time to shelve books. I did take out quite a few DVDs, though - the original 50s Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn, the original Rat Pack Ocean's 11, John Carter, a collection of spooky-themed Laugh-A-Lympics episodes, Pete's Dragon, the newest Veggietales spoof League of Incredible Vegetables, and Barbie In a Christmas Carol.

There's a new store in the Westmont Plaza called Tuesday Morning that was just opening a few months ago, when I got hurt. I've never heard of this store and decided to give it a look. It turned out to be pretty much a smaller version of Big Lots - a mini-department store that carries closeouts, odd lots, and overstocks of slightly older items. They had a fairly impressive toy section. I found an adorable WebKinz "'Mazin' Hamster." These tiny stuffed hamsters are supposed to open up an entire section of 3-D games, in addition to being characters in their own right that can wear clothes. (And it was only $1.99!)

My next stop was Super Fresh. They were having good sales on brown sugar, peanut butter, Betty Crocker cake mix, and Mazola canola oil (I had a coupon for the latter as well). I probably shouldn't have bought the Gingerbread Peeps, but they're my favorite Peeps. (And unlike previous years, where the gingerbread-man-shaped Peeps had a faint sugar cookie flavor, this year, they actually taste something like real gingerbread, with a definite spicy flavor.)

I didn't have as much luck at Komfort Kare. I wanted to pick up my new, smaller ankle brace, but the receptionist couldn't get a hold of the insurance company to find out how much they cost. I waited twenty minutes. It got dark out. I finally just gave up and told her I'd be back next week. I ended up making a quick stop at the Dollar Tree next-door instead for a large container of Mr. Clean-esque cleaner a smaller version of the Lifesavers' holiday bag from last year.

When I finally got home, I made chicken soup from leftover vegetables and canned chicken for dinner while running the Veggitales and Barbie. Everyone's favorite Biblical moral-spouting edible plants play Avengers-like superheroes in The League of Incredible Veggies. Long-time Veggietales superhero Larry-Boy (Larry the Cucumber) is joined by Thingamabob (Bob the Tomato,) Vogue (Petunia Rhubarb), and S-Cape (Squash) to battle an evil mad scientist who uses a laser to pinpoint their fears. When Junior Asparagus helps them out, they decide he's ready to join the group as Ricochet. Junior has to overcome his fears of just about everything when the mad scientist freezes all the heroes...and threatens to put Bumblyburg on ice as well.

This is my introduction to the world of Veggietales' in-house superhero Larry-Boy. It was pretty fun, especially Junior's reaction to his new super suit.

Switched to Barbie In A Christmas Carol as I finished dinner. I've rented this one every Christmas since it came out. In this version, the Scrooge is Eden Starling, a popular but spoiled and egotistical opera diva in Victorian England. "In a selfish world, only the selfish succeed," she repeatedly tells her fellow performers when she insists they stay to rehearse her show instead of enjoying Christmas with their families. Needless to say, three ghosts and a group of orphans, including one rather sickly young lady, teach Eden a lesson in charity and giving.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Back to the Library

I spent the morning doing some online work. I looked up the Department of Labor again. No, my disability money still hasn't gone through. It should soon. They said 14 days. I looked up some more writing pages, too. I'd really like to find some publishers/content mills that pay more than Helium's pennies. I can't live on the 20 cents that was in there last time I checked.

The trouble with the content mills is my knowledge is limited. I'm interested in a lot of things, but I'm not an expert. I don't have enough experience at anything to be an expert at it...except for grocery store work, and that's just boring. The creative stories don't seem to pay as much, and even the articles only pay if someone buys them. I don't know how to get people to buy my stories.

I finally headed out to run some errands around 11:30. It was a chilly, beautiful day, pretty typical of late November in Southern New Jersey. The sky was bright blue, with a few fleecy clouds scattered by the breezes. It was chilly, and there was a snap in the air that said "winter is on its way." I wheeled Miss Ellie's old cart down to Dad's to do my laundry. Jodie and Jessa were there, watching the rather bland modernized remake of Cheaper By the Dozen with Helen Hunt and Steve Martin. Jessa was making a Buffalo Turkey Cheese Dip. I made a turkey and radish sandwich (the radishes seemed to be the only vegetables in the house).

I ran a few errands in the neighborhood while my laundry was in the drier. Tried Lisa Perry's office again. Almost no one was around this time, and only two therapists were labeled as being in. I had far more luck with my first volunteering session at the Oaklyn Library in over two months. The DVDs alone badly needed organizing, especially the children's titles. It took me so long to do the DVDs, I never got to the books! I may go back there later in the week.

The laundry still wasn't dry when I got back in. I had a fairly large load, including towels. I tossed them back in the drier and had a long chat with Jodie. I feel a little better about the past few months, but I'm still embarrassed and upset with myself for letting things get this bad. Like I said, the last of the temporary disability money should be coming in soon, which will help, but I can't continue to live on that.

When I got home, I spent the rest of the evening doing some reading on my computer. Watched Sailor Moon episodes as comfort food while I worked on something for Amanda and had a quick dinner.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Writer on a Rainy Day

I spent most of the day in front of the computer. My original plan for today was doing the laundry and volunteering at the Oaklyn Library, but the weather was so messy, I decided to just skip it. I never did hear from my manager. I did, however, hear from my sister Rose. She couldn't come over, so we took a look at my finances online. It was hard to explain about everything I've paid for over the past few months. I feel like such a fool. I didn't know Lucile Roberts would take $100 out of my account just for canceling my membership, or that it would cost almost that much to simply switch my line from Verizon to Comcast. My papers still haven't gone through for Disability, either.

After I got off the phone with Rose, I called the Union to get the addresses of a couple of other therapists in the area. I still haven't heard from the one down the street. Unfortunately, the next closest therapists are in Haddonfield. Oh well. It'll just require a day off again. I'll give the other therapist until tomorrow to call; if I haven't heard from her by tomorrow night or Thursday, I'll call the Haddonfield counselors.

I wish I knew where to go next. I spent the rest of the evening looking up more Websites that will publish content quickly. Trouble is...none of them pay well. I need real writing jobs that pay more than a few cents or a few dollars an hour. I did spend a few hours making a Squidoo lens for my doll and teddy bear collections. It's just the basics right  now - we'll see what we can do with it in the coming weeks.

The Riverside Rest - Where Dolls and Bears Meet

Speaking of American Girl, I ran Samantha: An American Girl Holiday before and during dinner. This was the first of four (to date) movies released based after the historical American Girl characters. Although it's not my favorite of the AG movies, it does revolve around one of my favorite historical characters. Samantha's tales of rescuing orphans in 1904 were never terribly realistic, and that comes off even less well here. On the other hand, I do like how she keeps her deceased mother's pictures and journal in the boathouse to keep her close to her, and the sweet sequence in the boathouse between her and her best friend, servant girl Nellie O'Malley.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Feeling Like a Turkey

I was up late last night. I put in an application at Staples for a cashier job at their Audubon location. Ok, so I don't know anything about technology, and I was really hoping to avoid getting stuck at another retail job. Obviously, I don't have a choice. I don't know anything but working retail. I'm too scared to talk my way into a better job. How would I do it? What would I say? How would I explain my lack of skills?

I got phone calls from Mom and Rose, one after another. I don't mean to upset everyone. I don't tell them these things because I want to avoid causing trouble. Right now, I have about 300 dollars to my name. That includes the 20 in my savings account and all the paper money I have on me. Everyone's worried about me losing my apartment. I already told Andrew I was having problems paying my rent, and he said he understood. I'd pay little by little if I had to. I had counted on getting at least 20 hours this week.

I can't believe all of this. I thought I was doing so well on my own. I thought I could live like a real, normal, independent woman. I thought I could have a real home, find a real job. Every time I think I'm doing something right, it is always, without fail, the wrong thing to do. Every time I open my mouth, I say the wrong thing. I just can't make anybody happy. I'm so, so scared.

After I got off with Rose, I called the therapist, Lisa Perry. Still no answer from her. I'll call the Union tomorrow and get the name of the therapist she said was in Haddonfield. If I have to ride my bike there, that's all there is to it. Oh well.

I did get a chance to talk to my boss at work tonight. Ok, I can understand not getting that many hours this week. We are between holidays. Work was so dead tonight, I spent the second half of my shift organizing Goya and other Hispanic food items on aisle 2. I still need more than 15 hours to survive. He wants me to work until 11PM, when the store closes, more often. I can't do that, either. I can't always expect to get a ride, and I certainly can't make a car or a license appear out of thin air.

I wish there weren't so many people who had worked at that store for 20 or 30 years. Everyone always says "ooh, you've worked there for seven years, you have seniority " Not when everyone else has been there for literally decades. I can't get into the bakery, either. They ended up cutting that job they had posted.

And I ended up canceling my annual get-together with my friend Amanda. For one thing, she's was just in a car accident and, though she and her car are fine, she's now nervous about driving beyond her native Vineland. For another thing, she took a third job in her local Bath & Body Works. She says she loves it (she always did enjoy browsing in there when we'd shop together), but she had to keep her old job at Bob Evans for the benefits package and to see some of her old co-workers. Plus, she's a substitute teacher for the Vineland School District. She wanted me to visit her. I haven't been to Vineland in ages and would love to, but I just don't have the money for traveling right now. We're just going to send each other presents this year (I already crocheted her something) and try again in the spring.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What to Do About Work

I slept in this morning, then had Buttermilk Pancakes while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. George Harrison, who passed away around this time in 2001, was in the spotlight. Among the songs he did with the group was one that doesn't get played much, "For You Blue," along with classics like "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun." Though his earlier Apple solo singles were bigger hits, I prefer the songs he did with Warners later in the 70s and in the 80s, including "Blow Away" and "All Those Years Ago."

Spent most of the afternoon putting out the remaining holiday displays, starting with the Christmas bears. Every year from the mid-80s through the mid-90s, Mom would dress some of our stuffed animals and teddy bears in old winter clothes and display them on her hope chest. Because most of them were ours, the display was considered interactive - we could change their hats and scarves, and even give them tiaras and noisemakers for New Year's.

By the time I was in college, Mom had largely stopping doing the bear display. She didn't have the time, and in the years after my brother grew out of toys but before my nephews were born, there was no one to play with it. When I moved on my own in 2002, she turned the remaining Christmas-only bears and their clothes over to me. I couldn't figure out where to put them - I don't have a hope chest - until I realized that the space under the tree looked bare. I've put them there ever since.

I had a harder time getting the remaining displays organized. I changed so much around in the apartment in the winter and spring, I had to find new places for many items. It took me so long, I didn't even bother really decorating the small tree I usually give to the Sailor Moon dolls. That was moved a shelf down with my Belle toddler doll. The balls for the small tree are starting to look old, anyway. Mom gave me the small tree and glass ball ornaments in college, when we weren't allowed to have live greenery in the dorm rooms. I acquired the strings of (fake) lights and silver snowflake garland later from JoAnn's. I put up the "lights" and garland, but left the balls in their container.

It's become a tradition to run the three documentaries on Christmas history and traditions that Linda Young sent me in 2007 early in the season as I prepare for the holidays. Christmas Past is a British program that covers English history and customs, mostly via old movie and newsreel footage, recreations, and fascinating interviews with people who had lived or had relatives who lived through the history depicted. Christmas Unwrapped is a History Channel special that covers more-or-less the same subject from the American point of view, with greater emphasis on the original  history of the holiday before the Puritans banned it and how the Victorians changed it into something far more family-oriented. TV Guide Looks at Christmas naturally covered how the holidays are depicted on television. I was especially interested in the clips from variety specials. I was born just as variety shows were falling out of favor; the only major one during my childhood was Pee Wee Herman's very unique special.

Mom finally called during TV Guide Looks at Christmas. She was fine, but was worried about me. No one can give me more money. She's afraid I'm going to lose my apartment. I have to find a second job I can handle. The trouble is, first of all, transportation. I can't make a car and a license appear at will.. Second, I was really hoping to find something online, or a sensible office job. No one will hire me for a sensible office job, of course, and writing jobs don't pay. You can't do something that you enjoy and expect people to pay you real money for it.

Work was boring. It was dead tonight, which might have been just as well for my first night back. The worst that happened was I was late because I had to get our new work shirts. We're not going to wear those neon t-shirts in the winter. The replacements aren't great - the same bright-blue polos we had a few years ago, only this time made in a stretchy fabric that doesn't seem to breathe well. That'll be fun to ride to and from work in.

I'm not the only one getting bad hours, either. No one is happy about the hours. The college students are complaining about their late hours, and even the older women are upset. I'm going to have to talk to the manager tomorrow. He's crazy if he thinks he can keep doing this.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Welcome to the Christmas Season

Brrrr! It was windy, cold, and partly cloudy today. I'm guessing it was probably in the mid-40s. The wind made it feel much colder! I warmed up with oat bran and the American Top 40 this morning. Late November 1986 was in the spotlight, as we danced into the holiday season with power ballads, R&B, pop, and hard rock. Among the hits that week were "That's Just the Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range, "Love Will Conquer All" by Lionel Richie, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung, "Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money, "True Blue" by Madonna, "The Next Time I Fall" by Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, "Hip to Be Square," by Huey Lewis and the News, and "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi. England invaded the pop charts with that week's number one hit, "I'm Only Human" by the Human League.

Rose called and said she wasn't going to be ready to pick me up for the Collingswood Parade until 10. Fine by me. Gave me a chance to sip my lemon green tea and watch the Rankin Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The title character is a sweet little reindeer who is just about the cutest thing ever...if you ignore his bright red nose. I do, and so does Clarice, a  pretty and gentle doe, but no one else in Christmas Town does. Rudolph runs off and stumbles onto a fellow "misfit," an elf named Hermie who wants to be a dentist. They encounter a prospector named Yukon Cornelius and visit the Land of Misfit Toys, an island of unwanted playthings. Rudolph fears his nose will bring everyone to harm and finally returns home, where he learns that "misfits have a place, too."

Mixed feelings on the original Rankin-Bass Christmas special. This is still cute and fun to watch, with some great characters, terrific songs, and that nifty stop-motion animation. Some of it hasn't dated well, though. Donner and Santa can seem rather cruel to Rudolph to modern audiences who are more accustomed to accepting "misfits," and there's Donner's comment to his wife about "man's work."

Rose finally picked me up around 10ish. We watched the parade for about an hour on the same block on Haddon Avenue as the Philly Pretzel Factory. It was really cold on Haddon Avenue. Unlike last year, when it was calm and unseasonably warm, today was in the 40s and very windy. Several mummers had a hard time controlling their costumes. Craig bought us pretzels from the Collingswood Wrestling Team to warm us up. It didn't work. It was just too cold for 2-year-old Khai, no matter how much he enjoyed seeing all of the classic cars and dancers. We left an hour later, stopping briefly at Dad's so Rose and Craig could pick up a platter they loaned him. Dad was putting up his Christmas decorations. He'll be going on a job later in the week and won't have time when he gets home.

I had leftovers for lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon listening to Christmas music and decorating my own home. I wanted to get everything finished before I started work. I had to rearrange a few things, thanks to all of the changes in my apartment. The big gold tinsel garland still goes on the ash-colored rack, but it's now holding CDs in the music area. The garlands still go in the same places. The nativity is on the coffee table in the music area - I got rid of the cheap plastic shelf it used to stand on last spring.

The tree had to be moved slightly to the left, and it's still a bit of a stretch around the reddish shelf in the music area. To avoid having to knock over the tree every time I plugged it in, I pulled out the extension cord Miss Ellie gave me for the air conditioner when I first moved it. It's even the same color green as the tree.

Otherwise, the tree is the same as previous years. It took me just as long to put it up and decorate it, too. I started around 2:30...and didn't finish until 6:15. I just have so many ornaments! I have three boxes of glass balls (one from a yard sale, one from Family Dollar, and one a spare from Mom), one large box of shaped glass ornaments, one very full box of heavy or delicate ornaments, the icicles, the clothespin soldiers that are also refugees from Mom's tree, the glass Disney Character ornaments, the bead ornaments my cousin Samantha made one year, and one slender box of ornaments made from cloth, felt, plastic, or wood.

I couldn't begin to name my favorites. There's the sweet red and green fabric Holly Hobbie Mom made for me when I was in high school; I loved Holly Hobbie as a child. There's those beaded ornaments that apparently took weeks for my cousin Samantha to make. There's Yogi and his pic-a-nic basket and Cinderella with her mouse friends, both after-Christmas sale finds at the North Cape May Acme when I worked there. We can't forget Shaggy and Scooby on their sled, or the resin bear with the shopping bags, or the beautiful old-fashioned ball with the holly designs, or the elegant ringed maroon ball with the creamy white bow, or the giant snowflake that's supposed to look like it was made from icing, or the sparkling crystal star with the glitter-covered points. They're all so special to me.

When I finally finished, I had Thanksgiving leftovers and chicken and watched a Bowery Boys movie, Angels In Disguise. When their buddy Gabe Moreno is shot and another cop killed while chasing a gang that's ripped off the payroll of several local companies, Slip and Sach decide to sniff out the culprits. They discover that they're in over their head when the gang proves to be very young, very smart, very violent...and to have members at the very newspaper where Slip and Sach work.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dusting and Disappointments

While the rest of the country was chasing after big deals, I was taking down my Thanksgiving and fall decorations. I wanted to finish the cleaning and get started with the Christmas decorations before I returned to work. The windows needed to be done badly. I hadn't washed them since at least August due to the cardboard leaves I taped on them. I also finally figured out how to work the attachments on the vacuum cleaner I bought in the spring and ran it around corners and under appliances. Boy, does it work well! The canister was almost full when I finally finished.

I had a quick lunch of Thanksgiving leftovers while watching the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It's pretty simple. The title character, a grouchy green creature, is annoyed by the Whos' noisy holiday celebrations. He thinks he can "stop Christmas from coming" by stealing all their goodies. Christmas Day brings a surprise that teaches the Grinch the true meaning of the season.

I haven't seen the live-action Jim Carrey version from a few years ago. I may rent it eventually just to see it (and because I heard Carrey was well-cast as the Grinch), but really, this is the only one you need. The Grinch and Max the Dog's facial expressions alone are worth seeing.

Spent the rest of the afternoon dusting the apartment. Boy, did it need it! I haven't done a good, thorough dusting in months, since well before I hurt my ankle. I moved books, dolls, and the Star Wars action figures. I dusted under items. I dusted dolls and stuffed animals, books and DVDs.

It was 4:30 before I finally finished. Since I needed to get my schedule anyway, I decided to test my ankle and see how it did on the bike. There was a beautiful sunset over the river as I rode across the ramp and over to the Acme. It was sunny, windy, and chilly but not freezing.

My shopping went well. I just needed to restock apples, oranges, flour, romaine lettuce, and whole wheat wraps. I was delighted to see that the Jell-O Pumpkin Spice pudding, which disappeared for a few years, returned last year and seems to be in a wider distribution this year. There still wasn't any good chicken on sale, so I bought canned chicken, which was cheaper.

I shouldn't have bought anything. I'm only working Sunday, Monday, and next Saturday. Fifteen hours! I was shocked. I was working 20 to 25 hours in September! One of the front end managers said the head manager took over the schedules when the front end managers weren't doing them to his satisfaction...and now, no one is getting hours. Plus, they ended up cutting the bakery job instead of giving them more help. Apparently, I'm "restricted," because I can only work until about 10 at night. Excuse me, but shouldn't they be giving the late hours to the college students and older women who want them anyway?

Now I think I should have stuck to Disability. This is why I hate this job. I need to figure out something, find some extra writing job online that pays a heck of a lot more than Helium...and fast.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brave Thanksgiving

It was a gorgeous, sunny day, probably in the mid-50s, when I got up this morning. I started this gorgeous (but not too warm, like last year) Thanksgiving with cereal and several shorter Thanksgiving specials. In "Max's Thanksgiving," Ruby tries to decorate Grandma's table while keeping Max's paws out of the stuffing. Jon has a similar problem with Garfield in Garfield's Thanksgiving, as he tries to keep his cat on a diet and romance Liz the Veterinarian. When Peppermint Patty invites herself, Franklin, and Marcie to Charlie Brown's for dinner in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Chuck and Linus make a dinner of toast and jelly beans to appease them. Peppermint Patty gets upset...until Linus and Marcie remind their friends of the real history behind the holiday. The Mayflower Voyagers covers Thanksgiving history as the Peanuts play Pilgrim children who deal with the hardship of the Pilgrims' trip to America and their arrival.

I was surprised to hear my cell phone ring towards the end of Mayflower Voyagers. For possibly the first time in her entire life, Rose had gotten an early start and was on her way to pick me up for our trip to Mom and Dad's! Fortunately, the Peanuts were winding down. All I need was to pull on my shoes, socks, and ankle wrap, put the DVD away, grab the bread for Mom, and head out.

Probably thanks to the lovely day, there was no traffic whatsoever on the way to Cape May County. It was Rose, Khai, me, and Kelsey the Miniature Pincher - Rose's boyfriend Craig had to work at a local country club. The worst thing that happened the entire way down was Rose kept yawning (she had felt a touch of Khai's stomach flu and hadn't slept well), and she and I kept having to push little Kelsey in the back seat. (The last time she rode with us down to Cape May County, she tried to climb into Rose's lap while she was driving. We didn't want a repeat of that.) We made a quick stop at a WaWa about half-way, where Rose used the bathroom and bought two pretzels for all of us to share. Kelsey climbed into my lap and looked around for her mommy.

We arrived at Mom and Dad's around 11:30. Mom, Dad, and Skylar (my sister Anny's 8-year-old son) were already there, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Anny herself showed up a bit later. She's a manager at Big Lots in North Cape May and could only stay for a few hours. (She got the Black Friday midnight shift, poor kid.)

Today was far quieter than previous Thanksgivings. Rose and I took the little boys into the back yard to run around, and around the neighborhood for a walk. Skylar rode his beloved scooter. Rose pulled Khai in his cousins' big red Radio Flyer wagon. (That thing is awesome. It's not only metal, like ours when we were little, but it's probably twice the size of ours.) Skylar wanted to show us all his favorite places in the development where Mom and Dad live. We got a little lost going home, but we finally made it about 20 minutes before meal time.

We had dinner at 2. It was delicious, as usual. Mom makes the best Thanksgiving meals. We had the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, plus sweet potato casserole, carrots, cranberry sauce, and whole wheat roles. Anny left shortly after that. Mom loaded the dishwasher while the rest of us settled back to watch movies.

We caught Phineas and Ferb In the 2nd Dimension on the Disney Channel earlier in the day. In this direct-to-TV movie, everyone's favorite summer-loving kid inventors accidentally transport themselves to the aforementioned second dimension. Here, Doofensmirtz is the mad dictator he thinks he is, he has a robotic Perry that does his bidding, and Candace is leading the resistance and trying to protect her brothers. Not to mention, the original Phineas and Ferb have found out that Perry is Agent P! When Evil Doofensmirtz' robots break through to Phineas and Ferb's world, they have to band together with Perry's fellow agents and the kids of the town to prove that every kid in the Tri State Area is pretty darn good at busting when they're given the chance.

Someone put on Brave after dinner. I've been dying to see this movie for ages, even before I bought my Merida toddler doll in June, and I wasn't disappointed. Merida (Kelly McDonald) is a princess in medieval Scotland. Though she loves her prim mother Elinor (Emma Thompson), she's really a daddy's girl at heart (Billy Connolly). Her problems with her mother come to a head when Elinor announces a competition among clans for Merida's hand. Merida's furious...and well she should be, given the nerdy idiots who are being shoved into the contest by their chieftain fathers. She joins the competition and wins her own hand. After mother and daughter rashly destroy the things that mean the most to them, Merida rides off into the woods. She encounters a woodcarving witch (Julie Christie) who gives her the means to make her mother understand...but it's not at all what she or Elinor expect...

From the drop-dead gorgeous animation, Pixar's best to date, to the plot's blending of the commonplace and the extraordinary, I absolutely loved this. Feisty Merida is unique among Disney ladies (and Pixar ones, too). She has no use for romance; there's no prince waiting for her. She's perfectly happy with her family and on her own, doing her own thing, thank you. This may be the only animated film I've ever seen deal with a fairly realistic relationship between mother and daughter as well. It's also one of the few Disney or Pixar films with no villains whatsoever. Even the big bear who attacked Merida's family and the witch who provides the spell aren't set up as evil.

My big caveat is that this is one hundred and ten percent a woman's film. While not as pink and sugary as most Disney Princess films are assumed to be, it deals with woman-oriented issues that many guys just aren't likely to understand or relate to. Merida's prank-loving triplet brothers and Connolly and the chieftains provide needed comedy, but they're not the whole show. Some may consider Merida's wildness to be obnoxious or find the whole thing to be on the dull side.

I still highly recommend this for Pixar fans (who will find this a welcome rebound from the so-so Cars 2), fans of stunning animation, and ladies of all ages looking for a princess film where the princess has more on her mind than fancy dresses, princes, and glass shoes.

Between movies, we caught the afternoon football game between the Texans and the Detroit Lions, including the half-time Kid Rock concert. The Lions were winning when we were watching, but the Texans eventually came back and beat them in overtime, 34-31. 

We had dessert during Brave. Mom brought out her classic pumpkin and apple pies, along with chocolate chip bar cookies. Rose brought a Tiramisu mousse and fruit tart from Wegman's. I had slices of the pumpkin pie and mousse with canned whipped cream, and they were both delicious. There were so many leftovers, Mom loaded Rose and me up with plastic containers of potatoes, turkey, carrots, pie, and mousse to bring home.

We finally headed out around quarter of 5. Rose isn't crazy about driving in the dark, and she wanted to get her son home and into bed. Neither Khai nor Kelsey were too happy on the ride home. Khai fussed until we got onto the highway; he passed out somewhere around Dennisville, only to wake up again 20 minutes before we got into Audubon. Kelsey kept trying to get up front again, though she was generally quieter on the way home than she was on the trip there.

I ran a few last Thanksgiving items when I got in. Balki and Larry try to retrieve Jennifer's ring from a turkey Balki sold to a local family in the season 7 episode "Wild Turkey." The Three Stooges are English convicts who are sent "Back to the Woods" in the Colonies, where they romance three pretty Pilgrim lasses and chase local Indians. Mickey is "The Grocery Boy" in a rare black and white Disney short. He brings Minnie her dinner and even helps her cook, but finds himself chasing after Pluto when he steals the turkey!

Oh, and for all of you who celebrated it today, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had an equally enjoyable meal with the people you love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberry Day Before Thanksgiving

I was tired of waiting around to do the laundry. I decided to break in my new orthopedics and stretch my foot with errands and a nice walk. I borrowed Mrs. Ellie's old grocery cart for my laundry. Started with a quick stop at the Dorias' for brown sugar. Mrs. Doria was happy to see me, but not with her business. They've been having a LOT of trouble lately. They just can't drum up business. With the opening of the street that crosses the train tracks, no one has to go all the way down West Clinton anymore to get where they're going. The school kids don't pay much attention, and the cars from the dance school teachers and students tend to block cars.

Next stop was the laundromat. While I appreciated Dad letting me use his washer and dryer, they take forever. I don't always have three or four hours to get the laundry done. Not to mention, I had a fair-sized load, and I figured everyone would be busy at Dad's house getting ready for tomorrow. It was worth the three dollars to get it done in an hour. I got in around 10, when Rachel Ray was starting on Channel 6. It was on-and-off busy, not too bad. I figured it would be far busier the day before a holiday.

Next, I headed to Newton Avenue. I wanted to make an appointment with the therapist the union recommended me. Much to my annoyance, when I went inside, there was one long hall that sloped down the hill, with two other halls branching out from the main one. No one was around. I didn't even see any receptionists, nor any office for the receptionists. There was a cozy waiting room, with lots of magazines and yellow furniture, but no people around at all. I just left. Called the therapist and left a message with her requesting an appointment when she gets in.

After I made the call, I put my laundry away, then spent an hour or so adding Christmas music to my iPod for the trip down to Cape May County tomorrow. When I finished with that, I had Tuscan Tuna Bean Salad on a bed of spinach for lunch while watching Mickey's Christmas Carol and The Small One. 

Devoted the next few hours to beginning this year's Christmas cleaning. I always do a major cleaning session right before Christmas. I like the apartment to look its best during the holidays. Scrubbed the bathroom while listening to Christmas music. The bathroom was pretty bad. I hadn't done that great of a job scrubbing the bathtub last month (partially due to my ankle) and it really needed to be done.

Switched to the kitchen while running Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving. The kitchen was more dusty than anything else. I did need to give the stove a really good scrub. It had brownish stuff on the front oven that I missed wiping off, for some reason.

I called Rose towards the end of Seasons of Giving to find out when we're going down to Cape May County tomorrow. She wants to leave early. At press time, she'll be picking me up at 10 after 10 in the morning. We'll be leaving by 10:30 and arriving at noon. Mom wants to have dinner at 2. Rose says she'd like to be on the road again by 5; she wants to get going before it gets really dark. (Oh, and Khai's feeling much better. It seems that whatever he had yesterday was a 24-hour bug.)

Worked on crocheting during my annual showing of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Neil Page (Steve Martin) is a harried advertising executive who just wants to get from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. When Chicago is hit by a blizzard, he finds himself stranded at the airport with Del Griffith. Del's a pretty nice guy and a good shower curtain ring salesman, but he's also an overly chatty mass of bad habits. Neil's no saint, either. He's frustrated over his stressful job and angry over the delayed flight. The two men find themselves constantly thrown together as they make their way across the frozen Midwestern landscape towards Chicago. When they finally arrive, Del finally teaches Neil a lesson in friendship and being thanks for what we have.

John Hughes' only truly adult film is a hilarious cross-country trip with two of the 80s favorite comedians. It's not for everybody; Hughes wanted bad language to earn the R rating and get him noticed for something besides teen flicks, and you may need to have done as much traveling in public transportation as I have to get some of the jokes. If you're a fan of Candy or Martin, on the other hand, hop right on - even when the movie gets a little too sentimental for its britches, this is some of their best work.

I worked on Cranberry-Orange Bread for Thanksgiving tomorrow and Cranberry Flummery for my own leftovers dinner while running several Scooby Doo winter-oriented episodes. "That's Snow Ghost," from the original 1969 series, takes the gang to a spooky ski lodge that's being terrorized by supposed Yeti. "Alaskan King Coward" was a short from the early 80s that featured Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy trying to out-run a defrosted dinosaur-man in the Yukon. "A Scary Night With a Snow Beast Fright," an episode from the mid-70s, brings Velma, Fred, and Daphne back in for a romp in Alaska to find what's become of a missing professor and why a huge dinosaur-like creature has suddenly appeared among the native Inuit.
Of Beagles and Bowery Boys

And two of the most awaited Warner Archives releases in a while finally made it to DVD!

The Bowery Boys: Volume One

The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show: The Complete Series
(The latter is on my Christmas list. I'm happy with Lauren's copies of the Bowery Boys movies.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Writer's Way

I spent most of the day doing writing and watching Wings episodes. I did one more quick Helium flash fiction story before I spent the rest of the evening working on the collectibles inventory. This is the list of all my toys that are more-or-less now considered to be a collector's item, including the remaining Care Bears and collectible bears, Candy, Brandy, and Cindy Lou the porcelain dolls. the Effanbee dolls, the Pooh stuffed animals, the Lady Lovely Locks dolls, and assorted vintage finds from yard sales and my childhood.

Rose finally took me to the Acme around 4:30. As it turns out, she'd had her reasons for being late - her son Khai got the flu this morning. I didn't really need a huge order anyway. I didn't even get some things I wanted. There's no good chicken sales at the Acme (which is odd, since turkey is on the same really cheap sale it's been for Thanksgiving the past two or three years), and I finally decided I didn't need eggs or oranges. There were still a lot of things I did need - bananas, batteries, Nutella (it was on sale for cheaper than my usual natural peanut butter), the Acme's generic Cheerios, sugar, tea, and generic canned Great Northern Beans (to replace what I used on the tuna salad earlier in the week). They finally had buttermilk in, too.

I got a long, well-meaning lecture from Rose when we got back to my apartment about spending too much on food. She says I need to stop baking for myself. It costs too much money. So does buying lots of boxes of Tastycakes...and what I make is better for you. I've already cut some things out of the budget. Every time I think I'm doing the right thing, I'm doing the wrong thing. I'll call the therapist tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Step In the Right Direction

I got up early so I could do work on a holiday gift guide for men for Helium and check the Temporary Disability site. The information displayed wasn't pleasant. They were going to take 14 days to put the papers I sent last week through! That was it. I couldn't stay out anymore. The only thing the government was going to do was give me a hard time. I had to ask Dr. Berlin if I could go back to work.

In all honesty, I would be happy if I never went back to work at the Acme again. I really don't like that job. I'm not suited to it. I do know now that I can write. The writing I've done over the past few weeks for Helium has taught me that. It's just a matter of finding something I can really do with that besides articles for one little site. As soon as I can walk there with no major pain (or only a little pain), I'll go to the therapist at the office building around the corner from Dad's house. I need professional help getting around whatever it is that's keeping me from finding a job that works for me and pays my rent and health insurance.

After I finished and posted the article, I worked on the scarf for my friend for a while, then had Tuscan Tuna Bean Salad on a bed of spinach for lunch while watching Sailor Moon episodes. I returned to working on the scarf for a while. Rose was supposed to come by today with a few grocery items I needed, but I never saw her. I got bored and decided to attempt another walk, this time to WaWa.

It was cloudy this morning, but by 2:30, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the air was crispy and woodsy. It was probably in the lower 50s, chilly but pretty normal for mid-November in Southern New Jersey. I wasn't the only one enjoying the weather. The students of the Oaklyn (Elementary and Middle) School had just gotten out for the day, and they looked just as happy to be out and about as I was. Many of them lingered on sidewalk before hurrying along with their friends, kicking up small piles of leaves as they passed by.

WaWa was very busy, as it always is after school ends for the day. I took money out of the Bank of America account and bought a Winter Spice Cappuccino. It was a little sweet, but not too bad for WaWa, and it really did taste a bit like spice cake. I sipped my hot drink as I strolled home, enjoying the lovely weather. The leaves are still beautiful here. This has been the prettiest fall in years. The golden leaves around my apartment have been just amazing. It's like living in a huge box of watercolor paints.

When I got in, I finished up the scarf and started a new project, a coaster. I didn't work on it for very long. Jodie picked me up around 3:30 to dodge the traffic and get to the Foot and Ankle Center to finally pick up my heel spur orthopedics.

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait nearly as long as I did the last two times I was there, either in the waiting room or in the examining room. The orthopedics turned out to be hard versions of the gel pads I bought for my work shoes last year. They really do feel a bit better on my feet. Dr. Berlin says I have to break them in for a few hours every day, and I'll need to come back in a month for a follow-up visit to see how they're working.

And we finally decided I could go back to work a week earlier than planned. I'll be out for the rest of this week and returning next Monday. Thanksgiving week is the wrong time to be returning to work at a grocery store. It's too crazy for my feet to deal with in their current state. There's the matter of breaking in the orthopedics, too. (And I still need to get someone to take me over to Komfort Kare to pick up that brace for my other foot.)

Jodie dropped me off at my apartment, agreeing to take the Doctor's new orders over to the Acme later today or tomorrow. When I got in, I put on Foul Play as I continued my work on the coaster. This wacky 1978 romantic comedy/adventure/mystery features Goldie Hawn as a librarian trying to put her life back together after a nasty divorce. When Hawn gives a stranger a ride home and gets a date with him, she didn't expect him to arrive at the movie theater with a bullet in him...or to be catapulted in a series of events that involve her with a dwarf, an albino assassin, a handsome but clumsy policeman (Chevy Chase), and a religious conspiracy.

Wacky 70s comedy with a great cast. In addition to Hawn and Chase, we also have Burgess Meredith as Hawn's kindly, karate-chopping landlord and Dudley Moore in his first major American film as a very horny orchestra conductor. The plot is hard to follow at times, and Chase isn't exactly suave leading man material, but Hawn more than makes up for it as the naive working woman who went looking for a second chance and found more adventure than she could handle.

Switched to the first few episodes of the TV series Wings as I made leftover chicken sausage, roasted cauliflower, and green beans sauteed in Lemon-Wine Sauce for dinner. Lauren sent me copies of this popular 90s series in its entirety last year. Two brothers (Tim Daly and Steve Weber) run a small airport on Nantucket together. Joe is fully dedicated to his job and the business; Brian just wants to get laid. Helen (Crystal Bernard) runs the lunch counter and has known the brothers for years. Fay (Rebecca Schull) is the sweet older woman in charge of the flight announcements. Roy (David Schramm) is the cheapskate who owns the island's rival air field. Lowell (Thomas Haden Church) is the none-too-bright mechanic. He wasn't in these episodes, but apparently Tony Shalhoub was in the series in later years as an Italian cab driver.

I don't have too many memories of this one. I might have seen it in passing as a kid, but it would have been considered kind of adult for us when it debuted in 1990. By 1997, when I was in college and old enough to get the jokes about Brian's libido and Fay's husbands, it was in it's last season. My family didn't watch much NBC in the early 90s anyway. We were mostly ABC people; they ran all the kid-oriented sitcoms. Lauren is a fan of Monk and got into this because of Tony Shalhoub. If it's half as good as fellow NBC early 90s mates Cheers and Night Court, I'm looking forward to the rest of it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Birthday Express

I slept until 10:30 this morning. When I finally got up, I put on Brunch With the Beatles while making Banana Honey Pancakes for breakfast. "The Beatles In 1966" was in the spotlight this morning. By 1966, the four were devoting more and more time to experimenting in the studio, and the result was their most ambitious album yet, Revolver. The album's success, coupled with the stress of touring and troubled tours in the Far East and the US, lead the quartet to drop live performing. We heard songs from their last concerts like "Roll Over Beethoven," along with numbers from Revolver and singles from the era, like "Paperback Writer."

Called Mom after I finished breakfast. She seemed to be in a pretty good mood. I told her about my walk yesterday and my quiet week. She said she was starting to get ready for Thanksgiving after finally getting Dad out from underfoot. She also gave me some suggestions for my Secret Santa recipient. I'm glad; I like the person I got but don't know them that well.

Dad was holding a surprise birthday party for his girlfriend Jodie at his house. Rose picked me up around 1; Craig and Khai were already there when I arrived. We ended up having a nice little crowd. Craig and Rose brought lunch meat, cheese, and olive platters from Anthony's, the restaurant where they work in Haddon Heights. There were plates of brie, cheese rolls, and crackers, bowls of hummus and pita wedges, and plates of tortilla chips and salsa and guacamole. Dad was already behind the bar in the den, dispensing sodas and drinks. Jodie's aunt Colleen bought a beautiful marble sheet cake from Sam's Club with decadent fall-colored chocolate buttercream icing.

Jodie went out to get her nails done. She didn't get home until almost 2:30. The party was in full swing by then. Some people were watching the Eagles-Redskins game. Others were eating, or chatting on the porch. Most of the people there were Jodie's family members or friends of her sons TJ and Jesse. Jesse's girlfriend Dana kept an eye on her baked ziti. Karen, Jim, and their 7-year-old son CJ arrived shortly before Jodie.

I spent a while after halftime with Rose, CJ, and Khai. Khai adored CJ. CJ brought his bike to ride while he was here, and he sped up and down the block as Khai tried to follow him on his ride-on plastic firetruck that can make siren noises when you push a button. He's really outgrown that firetruck, but they don't have anything else for him at Dad's house. Rose and I followed the boys as they rode around until Karen announced it was time to go home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to Jodie's relatives, Rose, and the boys. I ate a lot. I had three slices of cake, a bowl of baked ziti, and I don't know how much of everything else. I lay in front of the warm, flickering fire in the office area, enjoying the snuggly, cozy feeling and the wonderful woodsy scent. I watched Polar Express with Khai. I watched the Eagles lose badly to the Redskins, 31-6. 

By 5PM, the game and Polar Express were over, and I was getting bored. As he did last Christmas Day, Jesse was nice enough to drive me home. I spent the rest of the night writing a piece on memories of family dinners for Helium and working on the crocheted scarf.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Surprise Street Fair

I awoke to sunshine, blue skies, and this week's American Top 40. Casey jumped forward to 1984 as pop, divas, New Wave, and R&B dominated the air waves. Hits the week before Thanksgiving included "Good to Me" by Tina Turner, "Penny Lover" by Lionel Richie, "I Feel for You" by Chaka Khan, "All Through the Night" by Cyndi Lauper, "Struck" by Sheena Easton, and the title song from the movie Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution. The number one hit that week had America and the UK dancing through the holidays - "Wake Me Up Before I Go-Go" by British duo Wham!

Took the advantage of a quiet morning to change the American Girl and Sailor Moon dolls into their holiday outfits. Samantha wears her deep red Cranberry Christmas Dress. Molly sports her green velvet dress, Felicity her blue Christmas Gown. Jessa wears the scarlet and gold brocade Chinese New Year Outfit that came out in the late 90s. (The human Jessa apparently bought it to use for a school project on Asian holidays around the time it came out.) The Sailor Soldiers all wears vintage Barbie evening gowns from yard sales and thrift shops and cheap ones from dollar stores. (Disney doesn't really make clothes for the Animator's Collection Toddlers. I may end up crocheting them good holiday outfits when my skills improve.)

Spent the rest of the morning watching cartoons and working on my crocheting. The Sailor Moon "movie" Hearts In Ice inspired me to watch snow and winter-themed episodes as we work towards Thanksgiving and Christmas. Max and Ruby spent a cold day inside, made snow angels and chased the Abominable Snow Bunny, and got mixed up when Max wants to continue sledding and switches his hat and mittens with his best friend Morris'. The Backyardigans protect a giant snowball in "The Snow Fort" and follow "The Yeti" across the frozen north. Garfield and Odie are stranded in a cabin without food while Jon tries to get through the snow to them in the Garfield and Friends episode "Cabin Fever."

Finished out the morning with the original 1969 Frosty the Snowman. This is one of the simpler 60s Rankin-Bass specials. A group of kids find a magic hat that makes a snowman come to life. The magician who had thrown away the hat wants it back now that appears to actually be enchanted. One of the girls, Karen, offers to take Frosty up to the North Pole so he won't melt. The magician follows them, but the North Pole's most famous resident comes to their rescue when they're cornered in a greenhouse.

Short, sweet, and fun. Not a bad "first Rankin Bass" to start off young kids with, since Professor Hinkle is one of their least-menacing villains and any damage done is fixed quickly, due to Frosty being made of snow. While the 70s follow-up Frosty's Winter Wonderland and a much later Frosty story, Frosty Returns, are pretty good in their own right, this is the one you really need to see. (It's also one of the few 60s Rankin-Bass specials that isn't an out-and-out musical. The only music heard is the title song.)

Switched to the Bowery Boys while eating lunch and making Peanut Butter Cookies. In Bowery Bombshell, Sach is inadvertently framed for a bank robbery by a photograph taken by a female photographer who is a friend of Slip Mahoney. The boys and the lady dress as gangsters to get the goods on the real robbers and clear Sach.

(Incidentally, the first volume of Bowery Boys movies released by the Warner Archive is now in pre-order and will be released on Tuesday. About time. I have all the copies Lauren sent me and won't be buying them, but for those of you who have wanted them, here's your chance.)

(The cookies came out pretty well, by the way. I tried the Red Hot Peanut Butter Cookies recipe from my sugar free and sugar alternatives baking book. They had no oil, eggs, or dairy, just peanut butter, flour, salt, baking soda, vanilla, and fruit concentrate. I added some honey for flavor and extra sweetness. They were tasty, just rich and sweet enough. I may have to use this recipe at Christmas.)

After the Boys ended, I finally decided that I couldn't put it off any longer. I had to put some money in my regular bank account. I tried to transfer funds from the Disability account on Thursday, but it turns out you have to wait a week for them to approve the account to transfer to. I don't have a week. Since it was a nice day anyway, I decided to test my bad ankle and walk to the bank.

I'm glad I did. It was just gorgeous outside. In fact, it was warmer than I expected it to be, probably in the mid to upper 50s. There was a sweet, lovely breeze. The trees all over the neighborhood are stunning shades of copper, rust, scarlet, brilliant gold, bright green, and burnt sienna. There were lots of people out and about, and I saw several cars heading towards the shopping area of West Clinton Avenue, though I couldn't figure out why at the time.

It took me a few minutes to take money out of my Bank of America account and get it in my PNC account. Apparently, sometime since last summer, they redid some of the questions on their ATM. I finally got it figured all out, moved the money to the right place, and headed back towards Manor.

I had enough money left for a soda at Doria's Deli. I was disappointed when I remembered that they close at 2 on Saturdays...but then I saw something going on a few doors down. Studio LuLu, Oaklyn's arts and music center, was having a small street fair to raise funds for their classes. There were a couple of tables of local craftspeople who worked out of LuLu's selling their wares. Local musicians played small concerts in the studio. There was a bake sale and a table of magnets made with recycled bottlecaps covered in glitter, beads, and paper that were being sold for a dollar. I bought a magnet and a can of Pepsi Next from Phillies Phatties.

While I did enjoy my outing, my ankle ultimately didn't. It was a little sore when I finally made it home around 2:30. I was inside for the rest of the day. I worked on a short story and a flash fiction story for Helium. I did crocheting while watching the Disney animated anthology movie Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, then put on Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus during dinner to finish out the winter theme.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Court Is Adjourned

I spent most of the day working on writing for Helium. The first story I did was a short story piece that was supposed to revolve around the topic of "hurricane winds." I based it after a real-life experience. In 1985, Cape May was hit by Hurricane Gloria. While the devastation actually could have been worse, there was some damage and extensive flooding. Mom and Dad actually took my sisters and I onto the boardwalk to take pictures of the mess. The wooden parts of the boardwalk had gaping holes; one building that hadn't been in great shape anyway was a wreck and was later demolished. The flood waters on Beach Avenue were up to the knees of my five feet, eleven inch stepfather in some places. It wasn't raining when we were there, but the wind was still pretty bad, and was blowing sand stung all our faces. My baby sister kept crying.

I pretty much followed my memories, but gave the father a better reason to want to take photos of a hurricane - I made him a local reporter looking for shots for the town newspaper. He brings his wife along to help, and she brings their daughters, including the story's narrator. I made all of the towns, streets, and businesses mentioned fictional, but based after real southern Jersey Shore towns. I did some online research on hurricanes and Hurricane Gloria to make things a bit more realistic.

Finished out my writing with a flash fiction quickie based around "entertaining guests." A pair of pre-teens at a slumber party have a conversation about their first crushes that end in good-natured teasing and throwing stuffed animals at each other. The amused mother of one catches them in the act, but the moment she leaves, they return to their battle.

I also worked on my budget. The result was not good. While my papers do seem to have gone through, I only got $107 this week - no back pay this time. I can push that for another week, but not much longer. I am going to have to insist on going back to work a little early.

Ran the second disc of Night Court Season 1 during most of the day. Karen Austin disappeared by the time of Episode 10, replaced by a rotating assortment of clerks for the rest of the season. (She would be permanently replaced by Mac early in Season 2.) My favorite episodes here were "Wonder Drug" (Lana has a crazy reaction to a strong cold pill that results in her passionately kissing Harry) and "Bull's Baby" (Bull tries to take care of an infant on his own; the others catch wind and come to his apartment to help out).

Switched to the 1957 Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella while making Spinach and Mushrooms in Lemon Sauce with leftover chicken sausage patties for dinner. The original version of the only musical R&H wrote exclusively for TV featured Julie Andrews in the title role, John Cryer as her prince, comediennes Alice Ghostly and Kaye Ballard as the stepsisters, and Broadway stars Howard Lindsay and Dorothy Stickney as the King and Queen. There are several differences from the later versions, including an expanded role for the King and Queen (they even had their own short number) and the Fairy Godmother (Edie Adams) being closer to Cinderella's age and played more as a girlfriend than a kindly older woman.

Having grown up on the 1965 Leslie Ann Warren version and enjoyed the 1997 Brandy rendition, I was thrilled when I heard that this had been released on DVD after being lost for decades. This is something to keep in mind when you see the fuzzy black-and-white picture on the DVD. We're lucky to have this at all. Frankly, all three versions are charming, and as I said when discussing the '65 special, the version you like most depends on which one you grew up with, which cast you prefer, and whether or not picture quality is a factor.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nutty Night Courts and Daffy Duos

I decided to take a break from computer work for the morning and do some things around the apartment instead. The big one was getting my Christmas lists worked out. Given my current financial situation, I obviously won't be doing a lot of shopping this year. As I mentioned, I'll still be buying things for my nephews (and I already have something for one of them) and my sister Jessa and Secret Santa on the Cape May side of the family. My friends Lauren and Amanda are going to get home-made items. Everyone else will get the usual baked goods, and I have plenty of cards leftover from previous years.

Ran the first disc of Night Court Season 1 as I worked on my lists. The inaugural episodes were quite different from what came in later years, and not just because there were only 13 of them. (The show was a mid-season replacement.) Karen Austin was the original court clerk and Harry Stone's intended love interest; Paula Kelly was the second attorney after the pilot. Selma Diamond started her first of two seasons as the senior bailiff. The humor was also a bit drier and more realistic than in later seasons, though there were still quite a few unusual cases. It reminded me a lot of Barney Miller (which makes sense - the creator of Night Court was a writer on that show).

My favorite episode of the first 7 was "Santa Goes Downtown," a variation on Miracle On 34th Street. An elderly derelict who may or may not be the jolly old man in red helps Harry and the others deal with a pair of runaway teenagers who refuse to give their real names. (The boy was Michael J Fox, just before his own career took off in Family Ties.) I also liked "Once In Love With Harry." Harry has to fend off a prostitute who has a crush on him, while Dan is running for a City Council seat against a dead man...who is winning.

After lunch was over and the disc ended, I went outside to check the mail and sweep the porch. The porch really needed it badly. The leaves tend to build up in the fall, sometimes getting as high as my ankles. Thank goodness that last storm we had a few weeks ago seems to have taken the wind with it. It hasn't been nearly as windy this past week or so, allowing me to clear off the porch before the next round of winter weather.

Besides, it was absolutely gorgeous out today. The sun was shining, and the sky was a radiant blue. The trees around me have turned amazing shades of molten gold, flaming orange, lime green, and deep scarlet. It's like living in a paint pallet. The air was crisp and cool and had the wood burning smell of fall.

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing work on the computer, mainly writing and some research. When I finished up with that, I worked on the scarf I'm crocheting and watched March of the Wooden Soldiers. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are the stars of this 1933 version of Babes In Toyland. As in the Disney version, the evil Barnaby threatens the home of a lovely ingenue, here Little Bo Peep (Charlotte Henry). Tom Piper (Felix Knight) is once again her swain. This time, the comic duo are on the right side of the law as Stan and Ollie do their level best to rescue Bo Peep and Tom get away from Barnaby and save Toyland from his hairy, ugly minions.

Though I like the more colorful Disney version better, this is also pretty cute. Naturally, the boys have the lion's share of good moments, including the dunking, messing around with the "pee wees" in the beginning, and how Stan somehow managed to mistake an order for small wooden soldiers for large ones. Knight also gets to sing a lovely, slower rendition of "Castle In Spain."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tom and Jerry and Toyland Tales

Started a sunny, cold morning with the Vol 1 set of Tom & Jerry Tales that I picked up from a yard sale a few months ago. The violent cat and mouse duo kick off their most recent show with a slightly surreal Christmas episode that has Jerry climbing into his own Christmas Eve dream to rescue himself from Tom. The second segment has Spike abusing Tom and Jerry while having fun with his new sled. The third story moved the pair to the North Pole, where Jerry has to defend his salmon from a hungry Tom.

If you're a fan of these two, you have to look for these. I'd heard all over that they were really good, and everyone was right. The animation style is similar to the originals from the 40s and early 50s, the writing is good, and there's enough violence to keep grown ups who enjoy cartoons happy without scaring kids.

Spent most of the day behind a computer. I checked the Disability website. As of this morning, they hadn't gotten my papers yet. I sent them yesterday, so they should get them today or tomorrow. I looked up some shopping ideas for my nephews and my sister Jessa. I took a couple of things to the mail box, including a birthday card for my brother Keefe in the Navy in South Carolina. (His 20th birthday is Sunday.) During lunch, I picked up two things from the mail box, the second American Girl catalog and the Vermont Country Store's big Christmas catalog.

Once again worked on the inventory and writing in the afternoon. Finished out the Holiday Books Inventory. As with my inventories for holiday music and movies, the Holiday Books Inventory covers all holiday books from all genres - fiction, nonfiction, kids, adults, craft books, novels, picture books. They're mostly picture books I snared from libraries or craft/history/cooking books. I tend to shy away from buying books I'm not going to use year-round. Not to mention, I don't have a lot of room for them.

Put on the Disney Babes In Toyland as I worked on the scarf for my friend after my writing was done. This 1961 operetta fantasy was Walt's first foray into live-action musicals. It's about as simple as fantasy gets. Tom Piper (Tommy Sands) is set to wed Mary Quite Contrary (Annette Funicello), but nasty Barnaby (Ray Bolger) wants her money. He hires two bumbling and not-very-tough ruffians to get rid of Tom. When that plot fails, he steals Mary's sheep to force her into marriage. Her siblings, determined to keep her out of Barnaby's reach, go after the sheep, and Mary and Tom go after them. They all find themselves in Toyland, where the Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his nerdy assistant (Tommy Kirk) are trying to make the Christmas deadline. The group offers to help, but Barnaby and his men aren't far behind...

While many people prefer the Laurel and Hardy version, I've always thought this one has its charms, too. The production design is eye-popping and colorful, the costumes are delightful, and some of the numbers are really fun, including the imaginative "I Can't Do the Sum" for Funicello and Bolger's "Castle In Spain" dance solo.

Oh, and I made my next Foot & Ankle Center appointment this evening. The orthopedics for my heel spur have finally arrived! They just have to fit them to my foot. I'll be going in on Monday at 4PM.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Raining In the Holidays

It was very quiet here today. I spent most of the day on the computer. Looked up some things on the Disability site in the late morning; wrote two flash fiction stories and started the Holiday Books Inventory in the afternoon. The Holiday Books Inventory will include all books about a specific holiday - fiction, nonfiction, children, adults', cookbooks, craft books, picture books and novels. I got through the nonfiction and the two story anthologies today. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can at least start the fiction books.

It was raining when I first got up this morning, but the rain was quickly replaced by clouds, and then sunshine. It was also much colder, back into the lower 50s. I celebrated the return of seasonal weather with several rare Christmas specials and films.

Rankin Bass' output got more and more bizarre as the 70s went on, and one of their weirdest is The Leprichan's Christmas Gold. When a young sailor uproots a pine tree on a phantom Irish isle, he discovers a banshee who is after the gold of the wee people who live there. Art Carney and Peggy Cass narrate the only holiday special I know of that blends Irish mythology and Christmas legends.

The Stingiest Man In Town makes a bit more sense. It's an animated adaptation of a 50s TV musical version of A Christmas Carol. While many people who saw the original broadcast consider the live-action rendition to be superior, this does have it's charms, including some decent animation and fine vocal performances by Tom Bosley as the insect narrator and Walter Matthau as Scrooge.

(Hmm. Some research on reveals that, after it being lost for decades, the original 50s Stingiest Man In Town has been unearthed and released on DVD. The score is on CD, too. It has an equally good cast - Basil Rathbone is Scrooge, and other performers include Vic Damone and The Four Lads. I might have to put both on my Christmas list.)

I spent a pleasant hour before dinner watching the 1978 version of The Nutcracker while working on my current crocheting project. Russian star Mikhail Baryshnikov is the title character in the American Ballet Theater rendition of the beloved holiday fantasy. There are many other versions of this beloved holiday tale, but few with a star performer as good as this one.

Switched to a more colorful variation on the Nutcracker tale during a dinner of leftover chicken legs, romaine salad, and steamed green beans. The Care Bears made their only holiday special in 1988, a very loose adaptation of the fantasy ballet. Here, Tenderheart, Funshine, Grumpy, Lots-A-Heart, and BraveHeart join a little girl and the title character as they travel through a ravaged Toyland to rescue the Sugar Plum Fairy from the evil Vizier. Fun for younger kids or fans of the late 80s Care Bears Family show.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Day With the Family

I had just gotten up when Jodie called. We'd drop by her stepmother's quickly to return a pair of good prescription sunglasses that Jodie mistook for her own pair, then head over to the Acme. I dressed and ate quickly, finally joining Jodie around 9:30. We did our errand in Mount Ephram, on the other side of the Black Horse Pike from the Acme, then headed to the store.

The Acme wasn't really busy...but it must have been over the weekend. They were out of a lot of items. I didn't see buttermilk, and they were so out of ribs, Jodie had to go get hers at Super Fresh. I haven't been grocery shopping in ages and needed a ton of food today - chicken, stock, Emerald Trail Mix bags, eggs, contact lens wash, flour, vinegar, canned fruit, soup (including restocking the Cream of Mushroom I used last night), tuna, tissues, Jello, powdered sugar, oat bran, sponges, cheese, mushrooms, bananas, apples, oranges, green beans, cauliflower, fish packs, a bag of spinach, and frozen vegetables. Even with sales and coupons, all that came to 90 dollars! I was shocked. I never buy that much food at once. I thought something had to be wrong. I couldn't believe I needed so much.

Jodie and I stopped by my apartment quickly to put everything away. I spent the rest of the day at Dad's. I figured, since I was out and about, I might as well get my laundry done, too. I crocheted on the front porch while the laundry was in the washer. It was a gorgeous day for it. The sky was blue. The sun was out. There was a nice wind, but it wasn't so heavy that I was cold. It had to be in the mid-60s, balmy for mid-November in Southern New Jersey. The trees around Dad's house are turning amazing shades of lime green, gold, russet, copper, scarlet, and flaming orange. Birds hopped and chirped among the seeds in the bird feeders.

We had ham and provolone sandwiches for lunch around noon. My nephew Khai arrived an hour later. My sister Rose had to take her boyfriend Craig to the hospital to have his back looked at. Khai and I played in the Eagles' Den for the rest of the afternoon while Dad and Jodie were in the living room. We watched movies while reading books (Khai loved the one about a little boy who makes a scary find in a trunk), doing a wooden dinosaur puzzle, and tossing small plastic and cloth balls in a basket.

The first movie in the queue was The Polar Express. Khai adores trains, and this motion-capture Christmas movie is right up his alley. A young boy who isn't sure he believes in Santa Claus finds himself on a magical train ride to the North Pole. On the way, he encounters a hobo who is riding to the North Pole on the roof of the train, and three other children - a lonely little boy, an enthusiastic girl, and an obnoxious know-it-all of a boy - and the eternally punctual conductor. There's trouble even after the kids arrive - they get caught in Santa's toy factory, and then the bag of toys. When they do finally meet Santa, the boy learns a lesson in believing in the things that can't be seen.

This sweet Christmas tale was the first of the Robert Zemeckis "motion capture" movies, and the first movie to be released simultaneously to regular and IMAX theaters. On one hand, as a firm believer in Christmas magic myself, I enjoyed the story, the stunning visuals, and the unusual look that went well with the original Chris Van Alsburg book. On the other hand, though Khai didn't seem to be bothered by it, some parts are a bit spooky for many young children. While the "motion capture" animation has improved somewhat since this came out in 2004, it's always been rather creepy. There's also an awful lot of filler that seems to exist just to show off the new medium, like several trips down roller-coaster-like hills or slides, or a ride across a frozen lake.

Probably a tad scary for younger kids who aren't as laid-back as Khai, but for elementary schoolers who are just beginning to have their own doubts about magic, this is still a really amazing ride.

We stayed in a wintry world, but moved back about 20,000 centuries to the original Ice Age. Sid the chatty sloth (John Leguziamo), Manny, a taciturn mammoth with a tragic past (Ray Romano), and Diego, a tough sabertooth tiger (Denis Leary) discover an abandoned infant human. Manny's all for leaving it alone, but sweet-natured Sid insists on bringing it back to it's family. Diego has his own intentions for the child, but as they travel across the frozen landscape, they all learn what it's like to belong to a herd....and have friends who really care about you. Meanwhile, Scrat the Squirrel spends the movie chasing after an acorn that ends up in the dardest places.

I can see why this was enough of a hit to spawn three sequels and a holiday special. It's an unusual story of one of Western animation's strangest friendships. Leguziamo was especially fun as ever-talkative Sid. I'm actually glad Khai's into these. I may have to get all four and the just-released Christmas special now.

We warmed up and switched to Shrek as Rose and Craig arrived, Craig with an ice-pack on his back. Like Ice Age, this is a one-off animated film that was such a smash hit, it was followed by three sequels, a spin off, and two holiday specials. The title character (Mike Myers) is a grouchy but good-hearted ogre who lives in a swamp, away from people who think he's a killer. When magical creatures are banished to his land, he goes on a journey to get his privacy back. The obnoxious and vain Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) sends him to rescue the fair Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a dragon. It turns out, however, that the strong-willed Fiona is not what she seems to be...and neither is Shrek. It takes a lot of help from Shrek's friend the talking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and the dragon they spared to show the lovers that it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, as long as you love what's inside.

I went to see this in the theater when it came out in the summer of 2000. I loved it then, but I don't think it's dated as well as Ice Age. The references to turn-of-the-millennium pop culture seem out-of-place, and some of the comedy is on the rude and crude side. The characters themselves, the awesome soundtrack (I have the CDs for this and the second movie), and some nifty animation make up for the stale jokes.

We had dinner as Shrek was ending. Dinner was Jodie's incredibly tender barbecue ribs, corn, a cucumber-red onion salad, and roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary. Everyone loved it and ate a ton...except for Khai, who would not eat. He was tired and getting cranky. Not to mention, it took him hours just to get him to eat his peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

After dinner, everyone took Khai outside to look for raccoons. Rose and Jodie put out bread for them, and Khai ran around the driveway, trying to see them. He must have scared them off. We never did see any raccoons. Jodie's son Jesse did bring their King spaniel puppy Helio around to visit. I finally got a ride home with Rose and her boys around 6:30.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saluting Our Veterans

First of all, Happy Veteran's Day to all our troops, those who have fought for our country, and those who still are. This includes my biological father Bruce Redmer, my good friend Jen Waters, and my brother Keefe Jackman.

I awoke to a much nicer day. Sunshine and 65-degree temperatures replaced yesterday's clouds, and the air remained windless. I made French Toast with my remaining Cornmeal Baguettes while listening to the Brunch With the Beatles show. After breakfast, I switched to more Armed Services/war-related cartoons.

The brash, noisy World War II era made several screwy characters into major stars, starting with Donald Duck. He'd already been a favorite from the mid-30s onward, but the war years certified his status as Disney's number one short subject favorite. His brassy personality was a natural for wartime satire like The Vanishing Private and Commando Duck, and he worked exceedingly well in the surreal Oscar-winner Der Fuerher's Face. Huey, Dewey, and Louie even jumped on board the Army bandwagon for Home Defense. In this short from the later war years, they and Donald are civilian aircraft spotter. Donald kicks them out after they play a trick on him, but Don's the one feeling embarrassed when he mistakes an insect for an invasion.

Mickey wasn't used much during World War II, but he did do a war-themed short in the late 20s, a year after his debut. The Barnyard Battle spoofs the first World War with a fight between mice and cats, the latter in German helmets. After barely making it through the examinations, Mickey proceeds to take on the cat army single-handedly...and win.

Other nutty toons also rose to prominence during the early 40s. Woody Woodpecker became Walter Lanz' biggest star in shorts like Ace In the Hole. (Lanz also did several one-off patriotic shorts, including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, Hysterical Highpoints In American History, and Pigeon Patrol.) Tom and Jerry were the top favorites at MGM from the early 40s through the 60s; their one and only wartime short The Yankee Doodle Mouse won their first Oscar. Bugs became Termite Terrace's most popular star in shorts like Falling Hare and Super Rabbit, while Daffy confirmed his status as their number one loon in Draftee Daffy.

The controversy surrounding Vietnam and the now-much-younger audience for animation made most animation studios shy away from war-related theatrical shorts in the 60s. The Pink Panther was an exception. He joined the Army in GI Pink, swayed by the glamour of recruiting posters, and wound up dodging land mines, cranky drill sergeants, and even crankier mascots.

Switched to the Three Stooges later in the afternoon. While they were popular well before the war  years, the violence-loving wartime audiences made them even bigger than before....and ensured that the violence quota in their shorts would be higher than before or afterwards. Back From the Front has them taking on an entire ship of Nazis after blowing up their own ship. They discover a room filled with Nazi spies while dressed as Japanese soldiers in No Dough, Boys. Boobs In Arms has them up against a drill sergeant who thought they were flirting with his wife. And in Higher Than a Kite, they're military mechanics on the run from their sergeant who find themselves in enemy territory when they stow away in a missile.

After the Stooges, I switched to my America The Beautiful patriotic records, then to the Eagles vs Cowboys game. The game started out pretty well, with the Eagles sacking the Cowboys' QB Tony Romo several times. Even losing Michael Vick and putting in a rookie quarterback didn't hurt. Nick Foles actually played quite well, but not enough to overcome a lot of key defensive mistakes in the second half. The Cowboys finally won, 31-23.

I spent most of the afternoon while the shorts were on working on crocheting. I've decided that most of my presents for my friends Amanda and Lauren are going to be hand-made. I'd rather buy things for my little nephews, and my sister Jessa is an excellent crafter who is perfectly capable of making things for herself. Amanda and Lauren aren't heavily into crafts and probably don't have a lot of hand-made items. I'm not good enough to make anything fancy yet, but they'll get small things, like hats, small purses, CD holders, and Christmas ornaments. I started a scarf this afternoon and worked on it throughout the day.

Got a couple of phone calls as well. Heard from Mom late in the afternoon. She'd had a long week. Boat repairs and bad weather has had Dad-Bill at home and underfoot for two weeks. He'd only just gone out today. My nephew Skylar hasn't been feeling well, and Mom's been watching him while his mother Anny works. Anny's birthday was yesterday. According to Mom and to Anny on Facebook, the day didn't go well. Things went better today when they went out to eat. Mom also took them out to see Wreck It Ralph, the newest Disney animated film, which I heard is really cute.

Jodie called shortly after half-time. She was going to the Acme tomorrow. Did I want to come along? Did I ever! I really, really need to make a grocery trip. I  have a huge list. She asked me if I needed to do laundry. Yes, I do. It's not a huge pile, but getting it done wouldn't hurt.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veteran's Day Weekend at the Riverside Rest

Kicked off a cloudy day with this week's American Top 40. Casey hopped back to 1977 for some disco, country, R&B, and ballads. Hits in mid-November of that year included "Boogie Nights" by Heat Wave, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Rondstat, "Baby What a Big Surprise" by Chicago, "Heaven on the 7th Floor" by British star Paul Nicholas, "We're All Alone" by Rita Coolidge, "Just Remember I Love You" by Firefall, "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by country sensation Crystal Gayle, "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon (from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me), and "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer.

"Nobody Does It Better" was one of two eventual Oscar nominees in the Top 40 that week. The other one, and the unstoppable #1 juggernaut of late '77 (and the Oscar winner), was the title song of You Light Up My Life by Debbie Boone.

I got a call from Andrew, my landlord, towards the end of the Top 40. He would be around in an hour with a real estate appraiser who wanted to look at the house. That didn't give me a lot of time to tidy up a bit. I made the bed, then quickly swept the porch, vacuumed, and swiped cobwebs off the window in the back room. Thankfully, I was done by the time the appraiser arrived. She was a good-natured older woman in a plain black suit. She praised how I had my apartment organized and had nothing but good things to say.

Ran the wartime cartoons on disc 2 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 6 during most of the morning. Though the usual characters only figured into a few cartoons on the set, most of these shorts are fascinating for fans of World War II history. Some, like the black and white "Wacky Blackout" and color "The Weakly Reporter," spoofed what Americans were going through on the homefront. Others, such as "Meet John Doughboy" and "Hollywood Canine Canteen," put a poke in the ribs in life for soldiers, both at home and in camp. "Bosko the Doughboy" took the earliest Looney Tunes star to the War (That Didn't) End All Wars, World War I, where he proceeds to do his best to defend his fox hole against every bit of weapons the enemy can dish out.

After the Tunes petered out, I switched to this year's first showing of the Peanuts Thanksgiving specials. In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Peppermint Patty invites herself, Marcie, and Franklin to Charlie Brown's house for a big Thanksgiving dinner. Trouble is, Chuck is going out of town for the holiday. He, Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock improvise a simpler dinner of toast, popcorn, and jellybeans instead. When Peppermint Patty throws a fit, Linus and Marcie remind her and Chuck of the real reason behind the holiday.

The reason behind the holiday is also the subject of The Mayflower Voyagers, an episode of the history-themed miniseries This Is America, Charlie Brown. The Peanuts, Snoopy, and Woodstock play Pilgrim children and animals who are among those who traveled to the New World and had one of the first Thanksgiving dinners.

After lunch, I decided to take Molly and Felicity outside and finish the photo story I started last week. I got some shots of them in the pine tree in the front yard. A couple of (real) kids climbing all over the World War II-era gun parked in front of the VFW inspired me to take a few shots of Molly and Felicity having fun on the gun as well. (The one of Molly pretending to be a gunner came out especially well.) My camera was running out of batteries again; I only had enough time to get a few quick shots of them laying against the tree on the edge of the park by the river to finish it out.

Veteran's Day at the Riverside Rest

Spent the rest of the cloudy, chilly day inside. In honor of Veteran's Day, I played two "Bowery Boys in the Armed Services" movies as I worked on Chocolate Mint Chip Muffins. Slip and the Boys accidentally join This Man's Army in Bowery Batallion after they see an air raid drill and think it's a real raid. They spend more time in jail than in camp...until they have to keep spies from getting their hands on Louie Dumbrowski and the formula for his hydrogen ray.

Let's Go Navy is a bit of a misnomer. This time, the Boys do join on purpose. They're looking for two sailors who stole the money they were supposed to be giving to charity. However, the sailors weren't really sailors, but thieves. Sach is the only one causing trouble this time, including climbing into a gun that's about to go off and constantly getting an officer's clothing wet...even when he's nowhere near the ocean.

Switched to a couple of animated movies after Let's Go Navy ended. Actually, Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse is really an episode of Disney's House of Mouse padded to (barely) feature length with the addition of Mickey's Christmas Carol in its entirety. It's out of print, but worth digging around for on YouTube just for the hilarious John Cleese-narrated version of The Nutcracker. (You've never lived until you've seen Donald as the Mouse King and Goofy as the Sugar Plum Fairy.)

I started a small crocheting project while House of Mouse was on. One of the crocheting books I bought from JoAnn's a while back has a very simple pattern for making loops of single crocheted lines into daisies. I thought those "daisies" could make great small wreaths and stars for ornaments. The tiny wreath I made with dark green yarn came out misshapen, with some loops larger than others. I got it right on the second try. My bright yellow "star" was perfect. I think I'll make some of these for friends I would normally shop for. Maybe I'll see if I can do other small things, too, like pot holders and dish rags and more ornaments.

Finished the night with broiled flounder and carrots for dinner and The Great Mouse Detective. Like The Black Cauldron, this is an underrated Disney action tale from the mid-80s. The similarities end there. Based after the Basil of Baker Street books by Eve Titus, Basil is the "Mouse Detective" of the title, the Sherlock Holmes of Mousedom. He finds himself in a race against time to rescue Queen Mousetoria from the dastardly plot of the evil Professor Rattigan, with the help of his new partner Dr. Dawson and feisty young mouseling Olivia Flaversham.

A fun ride for all ages and genders, this is one of my favorite lesser-known Disney films. Vincent Price had apparently been wanting to do a Disney movie for years, and he throws himself into the role of Rattigan with a relish usually reserved for flesh-and-blood characters. Also check out the finale in and around Big Ben - this sequence was one of the first uses of CGI in an animated film.

Friday, November 09, 2012

May the Schwartz Be With You!

Started off the day with a couple of Thanksgiving specials. Ruby wants the table to look perfect for dinner in Max's Thanksgiving, but her brother would rather snitch Grandma's stuffing. In Garfield's Thanksgiving, Liz the veterinarian puts Garfield on a diet the day before the biggest food holiday of the year, much to his annoyance. He battles a sarcastic talking scale and brings in a special helper to try to fix Jon's disastrous Thanksgiving date with Liz.

I spent most of the day in front of the computer. In the morning, I did some internet research and worked on finishing the cookbook inventory. I have 10 of the magazine-like Wilton Cake Decorating Yearbooks. Mom sent me her copies of 1977 and 1980 through 1983, along with four hardback Wilton books, when she was going through her house in North Cape May prior to the move to Erma. I found the 1992 edition at the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop shortly after I moved here, picked up 1976 and 1978 at a yard sale, and grabbed this year's from JoAnn's when I found it on clearance a few months ago. The one from 1983 has always been my favorite, especially in my childhood, when I thought the poems that accompanied many pages were really cute. I have fond memories of Mom making some of the cakes from these, including the elaborate clowns-at-the-circus sheet cake and the sweet and simple Christmas wreath from 1979, a panda bear cake for me from 1980, and the "Santa's bag" cake from 1981 for a neighbor.

Rose came by briefly late in the morning to drop off milk from WaWa, the only thing I can't live without before I go to the grocery store. I wish she could have stayed longer, but she had a meeting with some clients. (She's a part-time lawyer at a local firm.)

Spent the afternoon finishing two items for Helium. One was a very short flash fiction story with the subject "big girls." I had a teenage girl reassure her friend that she doesn't have to look like a magazine cover to be popular. The short story subject "The Last Train" inspired a tale of a 12-year-old girl who goes to the train station with her mother and teenage sister to pick up their father in December 1945, shortly after the end of World War II.

After I posted the stories, I decided to stretch my legs and run Spaceballs while looking over Christmas craft books and eating leftovers for dinner. One of my favorite Mel Brooks movies makes fun of the Star Wars series and other sci-fi epics of the 70s and 80s. Mercenary Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his co-pilot Barf (John Candy) are hired to rescue the wayward Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuninga) from the evil Darth Helmet (Rick Moranis) and the President of the airless planet Spaceballs (Brooks). What the villains really want is the planet Druida's endless supply of fresh air. Lone Starr jumps into the fray to save the girl and the planet, annoy the heck out of Helmet, and dodge every merchandising joke known to man.

If you're a fan of Brooks, Pullman, spoof comedy, or sci-fi, you'll get a big kick out of this non stop-assault on everything from Alien to Star Wars to the merchandising that was really running Hollywood by the late 80s.

Finished up the night with the Christmas special The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree. Ever-eager Papa Bear is determined that he and the cubs should find the perfect tree in the mountains on Christmas Eve. Every tree, however, seems to be already occupied. When Papa finally discovers the real reason for the season, the animals he and the cubs spared have a special surprise waiting for them when they get home.