Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Daze In Philadelphia

Jessa and I headed out for Philly around 10:30. I'd spent the morning before that watching more public domain cartoons. Among the interesting shorts this time around were two more Fleischer Brothers Superman adventures ("Billion Dollar Limited" and "The Bulleteers") and a 60s educational TV short called The Adventures of Captain Nemo. The latter involved the captain and two kids helping to rescue a dolphin from a group of hungry sharks. Billie Mae Richards, the long-time voice of the Rankin-Bass Rudolph, was the voice of the girl and boy in this short.

It had started to snow while I was waiting for Jessa. The snow was coming down in big, fat flakes, but as I suspected, it wasn't sticking to the street or sidewalk. We had no problems driving to the PATCO station in Collingswood.

The trip to Philadelphia was sort of weird. The snow was coming down so hard by this point, you couldn't see much of anything - not the city, not the sky. It was all pearly gray, even the Schuylkill River. You couldn't really see much of anything out the window, including the skyline.

Jessa attends college at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. As a commuter (she still lives at Dad's house), she knows the PATCO and SEPTA train lines well. She lead me through the underground maze of white and orange SEPTA stations. The kid knows her onions. We finally came out on Broad Street, a block from FYE.

FYE had a couple of different sales going on. Jessa didn't get anything, but I found a few interesting items. There was a buy 1, get one for a dollar used sale. I found the original full series release for one of my favorite childhood shows, Faeirie Tale Theatre, for a pricy-but-worth-it $41. The $1 set was the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. I caught a few episodes while babysitting during the mid-90s and enjoyed them, and Superman has long been one of my favorite DC superheroes. Christmas movies and specials were half-off; I was rather amused to find an Ice Age Christmas special. (Christmas? In the ice age? Oohhkayy.) It ended up being $4 new.

WebKinz put out a series of music-themed "Rockerz" stuffed animals starting last summer. Most of them are really rather ugly, but there's been a few that were kind of cute. Though the hippie cow with the flower was tempting, I ultimately went with the "punk princess" pink-and-black-striped cat who had a bow on her ear and wore a checkered tie. How could I resist a pink cat in a checkered tie? FYE's been getting rid of its WebKinz products for ages; I got the cat for $4.94. I thought the name Cyndi, for Cyndi Lauper, was rather appropriate for her.

By the time we left FYE, it was considerably warmer. The snow had turned into rain, and would remain rain for the rest of the afternoon. We hiked in the rain around City Hall and past the lunch-time traffic to Macy's. I wanted to use the gift card I got from Lauren.

We ducked past the crowd waiting for the next showing of the Macy's Light Show and into the elevators going up to the third level. I needed new socks and underthings. I know, not that exciting, but the drier at the laundromat ate half of my last pair of white socks months ago. I bought a pack of Gold Toe white socks that were on sale. The underthings were buy 2, get 2 free...but I only needed one. I ended up spending the gift card, plus $21 of my own money, but I really needed these.

Instead of braving the crowds, we stayed on the third floor and watched the Light Show from there. I'm so glad I can see this every year. It's so cute. Macy's has a curtain of lights representing various Christmas characters - Rudolph, Frosty, Santa in a train, snowflakes, Clara and the Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy, ballerinas, clocks, candy canes - that blink and glitter and glow in time to the music and Julie Andrews' narration. There's a beautiful tree with a glowing star. I love the cute bear trumpeters who open and close the show.

Here's a recording of the Macy's Light Show from last year.

 Jessa and I were going to have lunch at Starbucks', but they were busy, and the small Starbucks at Macy's didn't sell sandwiches. We headed out instead. I was hoping to find a cafe or something on the way to Rustic Music, but we didn't see anything we could afford. It didn't help that the rain was still coming down pretty hard, and though it wasn't as cold as it had been earlier, it was still wet and gloomy.

We were dripping wet when we finally made it to Rustic Music. While neither of us saw anything we liked, I was just happy to introduce Jessa to a really cool little store. She said she'd passed it before, but had never gone in.

Jessa was the one who finally found us somewhere to eat. The Bellevue Hotel is one of the fanciest places to stay in downtown Philly, and so big, it has its own upscale mall and food court. Jess says she eats at the food court all the time. It's near her school. Alas, we got there so late, most of the court restaurants were closed. We finally opted for Chinese food. Jess had General Pao's Chicken. I went with the less-spicy Chicken and Broccoli. I had hot tea; she had Sprite. We both had vegetable fried rice. I ate all my broccoli and chicken, but Jessa couldn't get anywhere on hers. We both ended up taking ours home.

Though the rain was slowing down by quarter of 3, we'd both had enough walking. Jessa lead us back into the subterranean labyrinths of the underground train stations. We finally hopped on a half-full train back to Collingswood. The sky remained gray, but it was warmer, and the rain was down to a fine mist. When we stepped out of the train station, even that was gone.

Jessa gave me a small present from our Aunt Jayne on the ride home. She gave me a cute little Christmas snow globe with my name on it. When you flip a switch on the side, it lights up and changes colors. Very nice. It'll look great on my kitchen table.

I spent the rest of the evening at home. I made muffins and had leftovers while watching the Faeirie Tale Theatre episode "Cinderella" and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. "Cinderella" is one of Faerie Tale Theatre's more straightforward adaptations. Jennifer Beals (just after Flashdance) is the put-upon young lady. Matthew Broderick is her prince. Jean Stapleton, in the second of two roles on the show, is her slightly daffy fairy godmother. Eve Arden is the obnoxious stepmother, and Edie McClurg is one of her sisters.

A Game of Shadows picks up right where the first film left off. Watson (Jude Law) is about to get married. His long-time best friend Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) isn't happy about it. He's even less happy with the fact that his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) has been killing off wealthy tycoons and buying their properties. Holmes finally bands together with a gypsy girl (Noomi Rapace) who is looking for her brother to stop his rival from causing a rift of global proportions.

As much as I enjoyed the first one, I think I liked this even more. For one thing, Harris' Moriarty is a far better villain, and the plot makes a lot more sense. The movie also has a hilarious Stephan Fry as Holmes' equally intelligent older brother Mycroft. Some unnecessary special effects sequences slow things down, but otherwise, if you liked the first one and are willing to try a less traditional version of the tales of the World's Greatest Detective, this is highly recommended.

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