Thursday, January 31, 2013

Balance On a Windy Day

Not only did I oversleep for yoga classes this morning, but I don't really have any money left until I get paid tomorrow. I opted to do one of the DDP Yoga discs Lauren sent me last winter at home instead. I went with the one that concentrated on strength training. There were a lot of squats, warrior poses, splits, and leaning on the shoulders. I can do the squats (though they're a little rough on my bad knee) and the warrior poses. I have a harder time with the splits and leaning on the shoulders - my arms aren't very well-developed.

After I finished, I had leftovers for lunch and ran another Faerie Tale Theatre episode. "Pinocchio" takes us back into comic territory. The title character is a wooden boy (Paul Reubens, just before Pee-Wee Herman) who is created by a kindly woodcarver named Gepetto (Carl Reiner) who wants a son. When the Blue Fairy (Lainie Kazan) brings the puppet to life, Gepetto is delighted...until his new son first steals food, then runs off with a couple of hooligans (one is John Belushi) and a gypsy who want to exploit him. Pinocchio enjoys himself at first, but then realizes how much trouble his lies have gotten him and his father into when they end up in the belly of a whale!

A great cast in one of the more interesting episodes of the series. Those who aren't fond of Reubens' Pee-Wee shtick may want to avoid this one; otherwise, it's great to watch some of the better comic character actors of the 80s chew into bad Italian accents.

Once again, I did work on the computer until it was time to go to head out; ran a few Three Stooges shorts while I got ready to go. "Yes, We Have No Bonanza" has Moe, Curly, and Larry as prospectors seeking gold in order to marry their sweethearts. The trio are detectives searching for a kidnapped professor and a lost Egyptian tomb in "We Want Our Mummy."

Work was very busy for most of the night; it is the beginning of the month. It was windy and chillier than yesterday, but otherwise not that bad out. It finally slowed down long enough for me to head out with no problems.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thunder In the Winter

Ran cartoons and more Faerie Tale Theatre this morning during breakfast. "Hansel and Gretel" is a far more typical adaptation of the Grimm's Fairy Tale than the "grown-up" witch hunter story currently in theaters. Two popular TV stars of the early 80s headline this tale of two children (Ricky Schroder and Bridgette Anderson) who are abandoned in the woods by their hearbroken father and nasty stepmother (Joan Collins). A white dove leads them to a gingerbread house...but as tasty as it looks, it turns out to be the home of a witch (Collins) who turns children into gingerbread and eats them!

Don't judge this one by the two cute kids and an over-the-top Collins in Dynasty witch mode; it's one of the spookier episodes in the series. In the original story, it's just assumed that she eats the kids without getting fancy...but turning them into gingerbread adds a note of horror that makes me understand why someone wanted to do this as a flat-our horror story.

When I finally got out around 12:30, it was in the lower-mid 60s and windy as heck - much too warm for this time of year. It was so warm, I was hot in my mid-weight blue hooded sweater! I mainly went to the Oaklyn Library for my first volunteering session of the week there. I shelved children's books and organized the kids' section and the adult DVDs.

Went for a walk after leaving the library. It was too warm not to! It felt more like spring than winter, warm and much too humid for the time of year. It was also very windy; sticks and the last of the sticker balls were being blown helter-skelter. There weren't too many people out and about, probably because it was 1:30 and most were either at work or lunch.

I had scrambled eggs with tomatoes, escarole, mushroom, and Swiss cheese for lunch while running Three Stooges shorts. Curly rescues pretty Nell (Christine MacIntyre) from bandits who have her father in "The Three Troubledoers." The trio once again come to MacIntyre's rescue, this time from pirates and a greedy Govenor (with a little help from the Stooges' "Maharajah" routine), in "Three Little Pirates." Shemp joins in for "Fuelin' Around," as he, Larry, and Moe are mistaken for a professor and his three assistants by a European country that wants the professor to create a special rocket fuel.

I puttered around online until it was time to head to work. It was still cloudy, humid, and warm as I headed to work...but dark clouds were already building up on the horizon. Thankfully, I'd already been at work for a while when it started pouring. We were steady during rush hour, quieter later, thanks to the weather and my working late.

Once again, I timed things right. It was soaking wet outside when I finished my shift, but not raining. The storm didn't start up again until well after I'd gotten home. As of right now, it sounds like it's still windy out there, but it isn't raining or thundering.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Sunny Patch at the End of the Fog

Started off the day with breakfast and Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers. This Looney Tunes cut-and-paste special deals with love among the usual suspects, from Bugs marrying off the Tasmanian Devil to Pepe LePew discovering love in the Foreign Legion. An Elmer-like Cupid is flying around, shooting the Toons to ensure romance, but Bugs believes that he's meddling.

It was still a very warm and foggy day when I finally headed out around 10:30. There was no one in Newton River Park but two joggers and a flock of ducks swimming in the newly-defrosted waterways. Haddon Township Library, on the other hand, was busy. I returned quite a few piles of DVDs and pulled another pile of foreign and kids' titles from the regular DVD shelves. Ended up renewing War Horse and taking out two Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids hour-long "movies" (the original and the later The Princess, The Prince, and the Bee) and the anime tale The Secret World of Arriety, the last-named based after The Borrowers.

Rode down the hill under the Library for lunch at the Crystal Lake Diner. I'd had breakfast early and was hungry. Ended up with a western omelet with cheddar cheese, whole-wheat toast with lots of butter, and a pile of home fries. Everything was served up hot and fast (to my surprise, since they were pretty busy). I was on my way to Haddonfield by 1.

I showed up at Ms. Stahl's office a little early. I locked my bike behind her building, then went for a short walk to the tiny candy novelties store. For a store that was barely bigger than a closet, they were pretty well-stocked. I ended up with Chocolate Smarties. I never saw Chocolate Smarties before. They were really good, too, smooth and cocoa-y, lacking that weird tang that the fruit-flavored Smarties have.

After I got back to Ms. Stahl's office, I crocheted and read the book on classic toys for a little while. She'd cleaned up her office a bit since I was last there. The big bear in the window now had a monkey friend, and a wicker chair had been moved by the window in place of the big lounge seat.

Once again, the session went very well. I tried to explain as best I could about how frustrating the fall was, what with everything that went on - Uncle Ken's death, my fractured ankle, my financial problems, how I got back into writing. She wants to see my writing - she says her husband is a writer and editor. I also explained about how hard it is for me to find jobs, and has been for a decade. Beyond my shyness and the economy, communications is a competitive market. I want to find something I can do to supplement the writing that is closer to my skills and interests than the cashiering job.

She pretty much said to take a personality test and print it out, google "communication jobs" online and see what I find...and be more positive. I can't help it. I get so frustrated with myself. I don't even think of how negative I sound and act when I'm doing it. It just comes out. I feel like I've had nothing but trouble since I got out of college.

This time, I went straight home after leaving Haddonfield. Thanks to the beginnings of rush hour, it took me almost an hour to get back to Oaklyn! Thankfully, by this point, the fog had finally lifted, and the sun was coming out. It was far warmer than it has been too, in the lower 50s according to the radio that was on in Ms. Stahl's outer office.

When I got in, I made Carrot Muffins as I ran the two Miss Spider "movies." The original Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids charmingly depicts how Miss Flora Spider (Brooke Shields) married Holley (Rick Moranis), over the objections of the smarmy Spidercus (Tony Jay). Miss Spider and her new hubby settle in and have a family. Miss Spider is worried that she won't be a good mother, since she herself was an orphan. When one of her children disappears, she panics and goes after him. Meanwhile, Squirt, her oldest son, is searching for the mother of an abandoned chicken egg with the help of a stinkbug and three parentless, homeless bug kids.

The Princess, the Prince, and the Bee focuses on Shimmer the Jewel Beetle, one of Miss Spider's adopted children. Shimmer and her family meet a jewel beetle pair on their way to Mushroom Glen to attend the annual ball there. It seems the Jewel Beetle rulers of Mushroom Glen lost their child in a storm. Shimmer wonders if she may be the lost child and convinces her parents and Stinky the Stinkbug to go after them. Squirt and his friend Felix the Frog tag along, hoping to prove themselves brave princes.

Sunny Patch is a rather exciting and sweet introduction to the main show. Once again, Miss Spider's concerns over how to rear her children despite being abandoned by her own mother are handled in a fairly realistic manner. Princess, the Prince, and the Bee is cute for fans of Shimmer and her adopted mother, or for those with princess-crazy little girls.

Not every romance that begins like Flora and Holley's ends well. I switched to the 1937 musical tragedy Maytime during a dinner of leftover chicken legs and sauteed winter vegetables, and later while making Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Marcia Mornay (Jeanette MacDonald) tells the story of her lost love in a sad flashback. She was one a prima donna, the toast of Emperor Joseph Napoleon's Paris. After one especially successful ball, her older teacher Nazaroff (John Barrymore) proposes marriage. Flush with all the excitement, she takes a ride into town and meets Paul Allison (Nelson Eddy), a homesick voice student, at a cafe. Two dates, one at his apartment, one at the local May Fair, later, and they're both hopelessly in love...but Marcia turns him down. She's already agreed to marry Nazaroff. Years later, and Marcia is a celebrated but unhappy opera star. She encounters Paul again when they perform together in her New York debut. Nazaroff can tell by the way they sing that they're in love, but he's not going to let his rival Paul off easy...

I'm not normally one for tragic romance, but this is by far my favorite of the eight movies Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy made together; I believe Jeanette MacDonald once said it was her favorite, too. This isn't one for when you're feeling lighthearted; it's a full-blown, five-hanky film. Everyone does well here; even Eddy tries hard, and John Barrymore turns in one of his better later-day performances, cue-card-reading and all. Dig around for it at the Warner Archive...and bring lots of tissues.

Monday, January 28, 2013

All for One, and All Up In the Air!

Started a rainy but warmer morning with The Three Musketeers. Those of you who have seen other versions of the famous Alexandre Dumas story know the drill. Young D'Artangan (Logan Lerman) finds himself fighting a duel with the three famous musketeers Porthos (Ray Steveson), Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), and Aramis (Luke Evans) on his first day in Paris. When  he helps them defeat the Cardinals' Guards instead, they come to respect, and then befriend him. Good thing; they need all the help they can get against the rather unusual plots of Cardinal Richileu (Christopher Waltz), Milady DeWinter (Milla Jovovich), and the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom, cast against type as a wicked rogue).

For the first half of the film, this is actually a fairly straightforward adaptation, more so than the 1993 Disney version with Chris O'Donnell. It's a little goofy, but so's the book at times. It's the second half where things start getting weird. In addition to stealing the Queen's jewels, for some reason, the Cardinal has stolen plans for airships from DaVinci and is determined to make them into warships. Things make a lot less sense from here on in.

I loved it, but I love the lighter 1993 Disney Musketeers, too. If you like your swashbucklers on the goofy side and aren't a literary purist who will be offended by the odd additions, this was a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

Finally made it to Dad's house to do the laundry around quarter of 2. Despite the continuing rain, I had a few errands to run. Thankfully, by the time I was out and about, the rain had taken a brief rest. I went to the post office to sign for my birth certificate. It arrived on Saturday, but the path to my apartment is hard to see, and the mailman must have thought I wasn't home. Since the bank is just two blocks away, I went to PNC to use the ATM machine and get money to pay the therapist tomorrow.

It was 4PM before I finally got home. Dad drove me; it was raining hard again. I had just enough time to put everything away, then write a quick article on romantic gifts for new lovers for Helium and have leftovers for dinner before Dad picked me up for work.

Ironically, after all the fuss on Friday, work ended up being dead for most of the night. I did the few returns that there were, cleaned registers, shelved candy, and organized magazines.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Disney Channel Valentine's Day

I know it's early, but I ran across these on YouTube. The first three are fond childhood memories that ran on the Disney Channel from the mid-late 80s; the fourth is a special that appeared on The Wonderful World of Disney anthology in 1989.

DTV Romancin' 

DTV Doggone Valentine

From Disney With Love

Mickey's Happy Valentine's Special
Magical Snow Tour

I woke up at 10; spent the better part of the next hour writing in my journal and reading The Crystal Ball. I didn't get to making Apple-Lemon Spice Pancakes until past 11. The theme on Brunch With the Beatles today was the Beatles infamous 1967 TV movie Magical Mystery Tour. Like the Monkees' Head, it's considered too weird for words today, but it did produce an awesome soundtrack, including "Baby You're a Rich Man," "Your Mother Should Know," "Blue Jay Way," "Penny Lane," "All You Need Is Love," "I Am the Walrus," and "Strawberry Fields Forever."

I called Mom while the Beatles were on. She had Skylar and Anny there; could she call me back? Sure. I cleaned up from breakfast, crocheted for a while, and then mucked around online. I was going to write, but once again, I kept getting distracted. I don't know what's wrong with me. I had no problems writing when I was off in November.

Mom called as I was giving up for the day. We didn't talk for very long. I told her that I did get the paper to sign for the package with my birth certificate. Everything's been quiet in her neck of the woods, apparently even more than mine. They did get the same snow we did, but it was already vanishing, even as we talked.

I went for a long walk shortly after I got off with Mom. I like to walk in the park on Sundays when I'm off, the weather's nice, and there's no football games going on. It was a beautiful day for it, too. It was still cold, but a little warmer than it has been, once again in the lower 30s. There was no wind, and the sun felt nice on my back.

By the time I got out around quarter after 3, the snow was almost entirely gone from areas that are directly in sunlight. It lingered in shady places, and I still had to dodge a little ice. I cheerfully waved to two kids riding scooters and walking a cute, fluffy little dog in a sweater. I jumped back as a truck got stuck trying to turn around; it did finally get out of the parking lot, allowing me to take the back entrance into the park.

I felt like I'd walked into another world. The river was frozen solid and covered with snow. I could see places where kids had drawn on it with sticks and even made snow angels! The dirt path in the back was still covered in snow, though it wasn't icy. I could see that this wasn't true of the whole park; the path on the other side of the river, across from Collingswood High School, was almost completely snow-less.

I kept going down to the stone steps, then went back up to Oaklyn. Strolled around the back roads until I found myself back at the White Horse Pike, across from Dunkin' Donuts. I went a block down to WaWa for hot chocolate (theirs is cheaper) and two small York Peppermint Patties, then headed home. As in the park, there wasn't too much snow left in the neighborhood; most of it was on the few untreated sidewalks, like the one going over the train tracks.

Spent the rest of a quiet evening at home making leftovers for dinner and listening to records and CDs. Watching From Disney With Love last night inspired me to pull out the Captain & Tenielle Greatest Hits LP that features the theme song from that special, "Disney Girls." I always assumed it was written for the special. Far from it; seems it was a hit ballad for them in the mid-70s. I also ran the Johnny Mathis LP The Wonderful World of Make Believe, one of my Disney music CDs, and the original cast CD for Wicked.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm the Tax Woman

Started the morning with the tail end of this week's American Top 40. I just caught a little of disco-crazy mid-January 1977, including "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer, "Dazz" by Brick, and "Hot Line" by Sylvers. Number one that week was one of my favorite numbers in a year loaded with dance tunes, "Car Wash" by Rose Royce.

In honor of yesterday's snow, I ran winter-related cartoons all morning. The Backyardigans protected a giant snowball in the Canadian Yukon in "The Snow Fort" and chased "The Yeti" across the frozen north. The Rankin-Bass special Frosty's Winter Wonderland is a sequel that shows what happens when the kids make a lonely Frosty a wife...and Jack Frost becomes jealous of the two very popular snow people. The members of Mystery Inc run across a chilly mystery in an abandoned saw mill that involves the legend of a abominable snowman-like-creature in "That's Snow Ghost" from Scooby Doo, Where are You? Serena and Raye compete to win the Miss Moon Princess skiing competition in "Ski Bunny Blues" from the first season of Sailor Moon, but they end up dealing with a lot more than a rough course when it turns out to be a Negaverse plot.

I made a quick run to the bank around 11. It was still very cold, but not quite as bad as the last few days, probably in the lower 30s. Other than that, the weather was gorgeous - sunny and breezy, with a pale blue sky and a warm sun. There were still icy patches on Manor as I headed out, but they were melting quickly. The snow was soft and light and easy to shovel. It looked like a thousand little diamonds as I kicked up puffs with my thick teal snow boots. The bank wasn't busy; neither were the Dorias when I stopped in to say "hi" and buy a hoagie for lunch.

After lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing my taxes. My taxes usually take about 20 minutes to an hour. I own no large property, rent the apartment I live in, have one part-time job, and am single with no dependents. It took a little longer this year because of the temporary disability I picked up during October and November. I had barely enough time to send it out, print it out, and change into my uniform and pack dinner for work.

Work was very busy for most of the night. We had some problems with the registers. At least three of them, including the one I was in, went down. They were ok when they were restarted, but it meant we had to redo large weekend orders. Other than that, I was in and out.

Oh, and I bought my annual pack of Girl Scout Cookies. I always buy at least one pack of cookies from them a year. My sisters Rose and Anna were Girl Scouts when they were younger, but it was nearly impossible to sell cookies in January in Cape May, especially when they were competing against other local Girl Scouts for the same few customers. My family usually ended up buying most of their boxes. I doubt that's a problem in heavily populated Camden County, but I like to do my share to make sure it isn't. ; )

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snow By Starlight

I slept in this morning and watched my first Valentine's specials of the season during breakfast. Disney did several cute holiday specials for Winnie the Pooh in the late 90s, including the Valentine's Day tale A Valentine for You. When the  100 Acres Woods crew sees Christopher Robin making a valentine for a girl, they assume this means he has a new friend he likes more than them. Owl claims he's been bitten by the "Smitten" bug. The others search for the bug in order to get it to bite him again and release him back to his old pals.

The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also did an earlier Valentine's story. Once again, Rabbit cancels a holiday when things don't go right. This time, he wants to call off Valentine's Day because the 100 Acre Woods was flooded with too many Valentines the year before. Everyone agrees to this...until Pooh finds a pot of Valentine's Day honey on his doorstep. Of course, Pooh can't resist giving them a thank-you Valentine...which eventually results in everyone giving everything from flying cakes to a play that doesn't go as planned. But who did give Pooh the original pot of honey? 

The remaining two cartoons on the set were more typical New Adventures fare. "Three Little Piglets" is a short that has the gang telling the title folk tale...with Rabbit as the Big, Bad Rabbit, and everyone getting their own ideas in. "My Hero" is a variation on the "someone rescues someone else and becomes their slave" plot that frequently turns up in the wackier sitcoms. Here, it's Piglet who saves Tigger, and Tigger who drives Piglet crazy serving him. 

I headed to the Acme around 12:30. I needed to pick up my paycheck (and W2) and do my grocery shopping. I was surprised to see that it was steady, but no more or less busy than normal for the time of day. Though it was just cloudy and cold at that point, we were supposed to be getting snow later in the day. I'm glad it wasn't busy when I went in. I had a lot to buy - needed to restock sugar, cream of chicken soup, whole-wheat pasta, wheat germ, cheese, eggs, canned tuna and chicken, and sugar. The Acme was having a huge buck-a-bag sale on bagged vegetables; in addition to the non-bagged apples, bananas, carrots, and oranges that I needed, I ended up with mushrooms, celery, two containers of cherry tomatoes, and a small bottle of pomegranate juice. 

The phone rang less than ten minutes after I walked in the door and dropped my groceries on the counter. The Acme needed me to come in 3. It was quarter of 2, and I hadn't put away my groceries or had lunch yet! I told them 3:30 if possible. I hate it when they put me on the spot. Everyone must have been let out early.

I ran three episodes of Faerie Tale Theatre while making leftovers for lunch. "Rapunzel" and "Rumplestilkskin" are two early stories that both feature producer Shelly Duvall as the damsel in distress. The miller's daughter in "Rumplestiltskin" is a bit more proactive; instead of letting the page search for the little dwarf in the woods, she finds out his name herself. 

"Rapunzel" sticks closer to the original story (more than the 2010 Disney version did, or really could). The title lass is still trapped in a tower by her wicked witch mother (Gena Rowlands with a really crazy perm). A more generic prince (Jeff Bridges) falls for her, but he's pushed out of the tower and blinded after the witch finds out what they've been doing. She's dropped in the desert; he's forced to wander. The ending is a tad anti-climatic...but that's really true to the original story, too.

"The Nightingale" is one of the more unusual episodes. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones makes a rather peculiar acting debut as the Chinese emperor who is fascinated by the title bird and her beautiful song. When he's given a mechanical bird that sings just as well, he loses interest in the real one, and she returns to the forest. The mechanical bird breaks, however, and the Emperor becomes ill. A kindly maid (Barbara Hershey) is determined to return the Nightingale to the court and make the Emperor well again.

It was just starting to flurry as I finally headed to work around 3:20. I was signed in at quarter of 4. By then, it was steady, but no more-or-less than it usually is during rush hour. Apparently, they'd been hit with a suddenly influx of shoppers shortly after I left. This was less of a problem by rush hour; the snow was coming down hard, and would continue to do so for several hours. 

Thankfully, the snow was long-done by 10. Despite being heavily salted, the roads were slippery with ice and slush. I half-walked, half-road my bike home. The ride was really pretty, though. The new-fallen snow shown like huge bottle of glitter had been shaken onto the earth. I felt like I was riding through a jewelry store window filled with nothing but diamonds on a dark navy velvet background. 

I wasn't as happy with my schedule. Though I do have more hours this week and did get Tuesday off for my next counseling session, I'm stuck working until 11:15 on Monday. That means I'll have to beg a ride home from someone. They couldn't find anyone who would trade their hours with me. People either had earlier hours and wouldn't trade, or had off that day for classes or to work a second job. The one person who was willing to take the late hours was in dairy and had no hours to give me. I don't want to lose hours. I just want better ones.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Balance In the Cold

While it wasn't quite as freezing today as it was yesterday, it wasn't anywhere near warm, either. I decided to test the weather with a short walk to the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session and to WaWa for a hot drink. The Library was surprisingly busy for such a cold day, with several people behind computers or reading newspapers. I organized the adult DVDs and went through the kids' and young adult books.

WaWa wasn't as busy as it could have been at quarter after 1. I got my Winter Spice Cappuccino and pretzel with no fuss. However, while the drink kept my fingers from getting frostbitten, even a walk couldn't make my legs any warmer. After I got home, I decided I was done for the day.

I finally finished out the public domain DVD set during a leftovers lunch, and then while making rolls for dinner. In addition to more Fleischer Popeye (he shows off his window washing skills for Olive and rescues her from Bluto the Cowboy), Colonel Bleep (he and Scratch save the little puppet Squeak from mutant termites), and Clutch Cargo (he and Spinner stop a carny from sabotaging a local fair and help a stereotypical Eskimo and a sea captain learn more about the huge "bird monster" that's stealing supplies from them), we had several odd fairy tale shorts from the 30s that were probably intended as educational or industrial cartoons. One was an ad for Chevrolet disguised as a Disney-esque Arabian Knights story called The Princess and the Pauper; another was a car safety short with fairy tale characters driving badly and running into each other, thanks to Pandora unleashing bad habits into the world.

Spent the next few hours trying to work on writing. It was frustrating. First of all, I get so distracted. I'll start working...and I'll end up reading old stories or something else online. It's that focus problem again. Second, when I did start writing, the Helium article I was working on wasn't coming out right, and I wasn't sure how to get around a bit of controversial information. I wasn't sure if it was even relevant to what I was writing or not. I finally just withdrew.

Frustrated, I finally just did one of the DDP Yoga DVDs my best friend Lauren sent me last winter instead. This one concentrated on standing poses and balance. If there's something I need to work on, it's balance. I can't hold up my legs or really stand on one foot. I can manage a tree pose, but not splits or holding my legs out. I totally lack flexibility.

Ran another Faerie Tale Theatre episode during a dinner of meatball sandwiches on a fresh roll and honey-glazed carrots. "Jack and the Beanstalk" is one of the most straightforward adaptations of the entire series. Daydreaming Jack (Dennis Christopher) trades his cow for magic beans, much to the annoyance of his hard-working mother (Katherine Helmond). When the beans sprout into a huge beanstalk, he's determined to climb it...and discovers two giants (Elliot Gould and Jean Stapleton) who have stolen his family's treasures and a fairy in drag at the top.

One of the funnier early stories; Stapleton and Gould are great as the oversized married couple.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

No Bug Is Left Behind

Started a literally freezing cold day with the Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends. While many parents on complained about peril or it being to scary for toddlers, I found the show to be very sweet. The title episode involved "Heartwood Day," a variation on Valentine's Day in which bugs give something special to each other to remind each other of life and death and how much they care.

Another episode proved a bit of a surprise. In "Family Tree," Miss Spider's brood is doing research on their ancestry. Trouble is, three of her children were adopted and don't know much about their early lives. Shimmer the jewel beetle wants to find her "hatch tree" and have something to contribute to the project. Miss Spider agrees to help her. Shimmer's upset when the search proves futile. Miss Spider reminds her that just because you're adopted doesn't mean you're not a part of the family...or that you don't still have a chance to find another part of yourself.

I was impressed with how gently and elegantly this episode handled adoption and looking for one's birth parent. No wonder Miss Spider has three adopted kids; she herself was once an orphan. She was taken in by a kindly grasshopper named Betty who raised her. It's not a subject you often see in animation, and rarely is it handled as well as it was here.

I pretty much spent the rest of the day looking around for writing projects and adding more from Helium. It was too cold to do much else. The high here today was 22. Some parts of the Midwest saw temperatures in the teens...or even lower! Good thing it was also sunny and not nearly as windy as yesterday.

Continued the last DVD of the public domain set during a leftovers lunch. The Hoppity Hooper episodes were by far my favorite of this batch. Anyone who's seen Jay Ward's other productions knows that he loved spoofing early 60s culture...and in "The Traffic Zone," he takes on one of TV's most famous sci-fi programs, The Twilight Zone. The episode was almost as weird as it's inspiration. On the run from the cops, Filmore hides in "The Traffic Zone," where he's somehow turned into a turnip. Waldo and Hoppity first have to rescue their now-vegetable buddy from being planted by the shocked locals, then themselves when they end up in "The Traffic Zone" and are all turned into veggies.

I made sure to bundle up for my ride to work. Surprisingly, given the cold and the time of the week and month, we were steady throughout most of the night. A manager actually called me earlier in the week and asked me if I wanted to work tonight. No problem - I didn't have any plans for tonight besides avoiding the cold, and I badly need the extra hours.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In the Cold, Cold Winter

Brrrrr! I awoke to a sunny but frosty morning. Yesterday's snow was still on the ground and on untreated roadways...but thankfully, most of the roads seemed to have had a jet-load of salt dumped on them overnight, especially in Oaklyn. Between that and sleeping in, I had no problems riding to the Haddon Township Library late this morning.

The library was very busy for such a cold day! Many people were returning items after yesterday's holiday. There were tons and tons of DVDs to sort through and shelve. I especially saw a lot of non-fiction DVDs. I guess people wanted kids to learn something over the holiday. I managed to find a place for most of the kids' DVDs - they're still having problems with overflow there.

I ended up taking out the Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids Valentine's Day Episode Happy Heartwood Day, along with War Horse, the recent version of The Three Musketeers (another one that I took out last year but never got around to watching), and Scooby Doo and the Alien Invaders. I couldn't find any books in the adult section that interested me; ultimately just took out the non-fiction book on journal-writing and the most recent American Girl Rebecca mystery, The Crystal Ball.

It was too cold to do a lot of running around. I made a very quick stop at Dollar Tree for sponges and orange marmalade, then went to Friendly's for lunch. Salads were today's lunch special. I tried their Apple Harvest Chicken Salad. It was a huge platter of greens, grilled chicken, huge apple chunks, crumbled blue cheese, and walnuts. I had Ginger Sesame dressing on the side.

Needless to say, I wasn't hanging around in cold weather. I went straight home after lunch and went nowhere else today. I did a little research online into more writing possibilities, then baked a variation on the fold-over pie I made in the fall. I had two pears and an apple that were getting old, along with the few strawberries remaining from this week's sale at the Acme. I tossed them all together and called it a Winter Fruit Foldover Pie.

Had a simple meal of Merlin's Magic (Baked) Chicken Legs and peas for dinner while watching Scooby Doo and the Alien Invaders. In this early direct-to-home-media film, the gang stumble upon a desert town purely by accident when the Mystery Machine starts giving them trouble. While Fred and the girls learn about the possibility of an alien invasion from spooked locals, Shaggy falls hard for Crystal, a pretty nature photographer, while Scooby goes for her equally pretty dog. Turns out that the so-called "aliens" aren't what they seem to be...and neither are Crystal and her dog, much to the chagrin of their sweethearts.

An unusual and very sweet Scooby story, with one of the more elaborate hoaxes of the entire direct-to-DVD movie series. It's also one of the few times in the entire franchise that the "monsters" turn out to be real, though in this case they're not as menacing as everyone thinks they are. Fun for fans and pre-teens who won't be bothered by the mushy stuff.

Oh, and the pie didn't come out quite as well as last time - it's more like a round cobbler - but it's still very tasty.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Wonderland at Last

First of all, Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to all! I didn't get to see the inauguration, but I did read about it online.

The day was just cloudy and much colder when I finally woke up this morning. I finished out the Jake and the Neverland Pirates set during breakfast. My favorite episode on the Peter Pan Returns disc had fun with Disney's perpetual fondness for princesses. Izzy has been reading about (and dressing like) a "pirate princess" from her book who has been turned into gold by a wicked witch. The kids first have to save her and her golden ship from Hook. (Interestingly, Hook has no interest in her, even after she's changed back - it's her ship he's after.) Next, they have to return her rainbow wand to her, with Hook in hot pursuit.

Since I didn't have much in the way of plans today, I decided to go for a quick run to Rite Aid early this afternoon. It's supposed to be very cold all week, and today was no exception. It was probably in the lower 30s when I headed down to Cuthbert Road. They were surprisingly busy, given the weather. I did find the contact lens solution CVS was out of yesterday (for slightly cheaper). And their skim milk has dropped even further in price, and it was already the cheapest milk in the area! I grabbed that, too.

Worried about the weather, I headed straight home. Spent the rest of the day having lunch, messing around online, baking Banana Honey Muffins, and finally getting to watch Time After Time. I took this one out numerous times last year, only to not get a chance to watch it for some reason or another. In the year 1893, reporter and science fiction author H.G Wells (Malcom McDowell) has invented a genuine time machine. Most of Wells' colleagues think he's nuts, but one good friend, a surgeon named John Robertson (David Warner), seems particularly interested. Wells discovers the hard way why when the local bobbies show up at his house...and Robertson is revealed to be the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Wells pursues him to then-modern times - more specifically, San Francisco, November 1979. He's dismayed to discover that the Utopian society of peace and serenity that he envisioned has hardly come to pass. Cars honk, guns can be bought easily, McDonald's has lousy breakfasts, and the world would continue  to make war. On the other hand, women are also far less restricted, as he learns from feminist banker Amy (Mary Steenburgen). Amy becomes his introduction to a strange new world where sweetly nerdy sci-fi geniuses are considered lunatics....and lunatics are considered normal.

The film had a few surprises for me, too. This unusual sci-fi/romance/thriller hybrid is one of the sweetest fantasy movies I've ever seen. Mom used to talk about it in the early 80s. She was a fan of Mary Steenburgen, and she often mentioned the film's science fiction themes. McDowell and Steenburgen have wonderful chemistry - they would, in fact, get married in real-life a year later. If you're a fan of Steeburgen or McDowell or Wells' real-life books, this is highly recommended.

The muffins took so long, I was almost late getting to work! It may not have been worth the fuss. Work was steady through about 6:30, after which it died so quickly, I spent at least three hours organizing shelves, cleaning registers, and returning items.

It was sunny when I headed off to work, but there were clouds on the horizon. Most of my customers mentioned that it finally started snowing around 6-7ish, and was so bad, it obscured their vision. By the time I left, the snow was long gone. There was at least an inch or so of snow on the ground, and the streets were icy. I walked my bike a lot of the way home, especially on the back roads like Manor and Goff.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Football Surprises

I slept in, as I always do on Sundays. It was nearly 11 before I finally started my Banana-Honey Pancakes. This week's Brunch With the Beatles focused on songs that were released on or around January. These included "She Loves You," "Oh Yeah," "Penny Lane," "In My Life," "A Day In the Life," the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, and "Magical Mystery Tour." (And my pancakes came out a little odd and wouldn't cook right. I didn't realize until I was eating them that I forgot the egg and oil! Oops. That's what I get for being in a hurry.)

 Called Mom while I was having my pancakes. She had Anny and Skylar there, so she couldn't talk long, but we did touch base on a few things. I told her about my counseling appointment going well last week and getting all those much-needed extra hours. She told me she, Dad, and my brother's girlfriend Vicki drove down to South Carolina to see Keefe graduate. They all saw his graduation (what they could see of it in the heavy fog that blanketed them, too), then Keefe and Vicki spent some time on their own. Mom and Dad spent three hours at the Charleston Museum. (Mom said they could have spent far more time there if they'd had it.) They explored a World War II battleship and a submarine and enjoyed it.

I spent a little while doing the dishes and listening to CDs before finally heading over to Dad's house to do the laundry. It was still a bit early for the championship games, so I walked to CVS during the pre-show. It was a gorgeous day for a walk. There were more clouds and it was windier, but the sky was still that rich shade of blue. It was also much warmer than yesterday, probably in the upper 40s-lower 50s. I barely needed my new green coat as I strolled down to the White Horse Pike.

I didn't have much luck at CVS. They were out of the contact lens solution I wanted. I'll get it at Rite Aid on Tuesday. I did get brush picks for between my teeth.

Spent the rest of the afternoon crocheting and watching the game with Dad and Jodie. I made a ham, lettuce, and provolone sandwich for lunch; we shared a container of shrimp from the Acme for a snack. Dad and Jodie wanted the 49ers to win; they insisted that they would be able to handle the Patriots better. I didn't really care if the Falcons or the Niners won. The Falcons kicked rear ends all season; the 49ers worked hard to get to the playoffs. They're both good teams who deserved their success.

As it turned out, Dad and Jodie got their wish. The Falcons were ahead for most of the game, but the 49ers came back during the second half. They finally got past the Falcons 28-24 to go to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994.

I went home around 6. My laundry was long done. I didn't really have a big load, anyway. I put on the radio while eating leftover chicken soup for dinner, then while I was in the shower. No one wanted the New England Patriots to make yet another trip to the Super Bowl. They must have gone at least three or four times in the past five years alone! Not to mention, one of the Baltimore Ravens is from Audubon.

Dad was certain that the Ravens would never get past the Patriots' vaunted offense...but it just goes to show that you never know what the score will be until the game is over. The Patriots were winning during the first half, but then the Ravens picked up steam near half-time and never stopped rolling. They finally steamrolled over the Pats 28-13.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bright Blue Winter Skies

Started today with the first American Top 40 of the year. We kicked things off in the heart of the 80s, as 1985 brought pop, R&B, and power ballads to the airwaves. Hits from mid-January include "Careless Whisper" by Wham!, "The Wild Boys" by Duran Duran, "We Belong" by Pat Benetar, "You're the Inspiration" by Chicago, "Run to You" by Brian Adams, "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins & Phillip Bailey, and the title song of the album Born In the USA by Bruce Springsteen. The #1 song that week was one of Madonna's most iconic 80s hits, "Like a Virgin."

Spent about an hour working on crocheting and watching public domain cartoons before heading out to run a few errands. It was a gorgeous day for it. The clouds and fog from earlier in the week had given way to brilliant sunshine, an intensely blue sky, and 45-degree temperatures, a little warm for this time of year, but not as bad as Monday. There were lots of parents out walking dogs and kids roaming around in packs, on bikes or scooters or foot.

That could be why the bank was so quiet. I walked right up to the tellers and was in and out. The Oaklyn Library wasn't much busier. There were a few people on the computers as I organized the DVDs and the children's books. The Easy Readers in particular needed to be organized; they may have gotten mixed up when the books were moved from the old metal shelves to the wooden ones against the walls.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I had leftovers for lunch, then did a few things online and worked on writing for Helium. When I finished there, I decided to try that peanut butter cookie recipe I made for my Christmas presents. While they were baking, I ran another Faerie Tale Theatre episode.

Tim Burton directed a version of "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" that sticks closer to the original Arabian Knights story than Disney's later one while still being pretty goofy. Aladdin (Robert Carradine) is a good-hearted-but-lazy young man who discovers two genies, one in a lamp, one in a ring (both played by James Earl Jones), when a magician who claims to be his uncle (Leonard Nimoy) strands him in a desert cave. He uses the lamp to create a device (that looks strangely like a TV) to convince the sultan to allow him to marry his pretty daughter Serena (Valerie Bertinelli). The magician is still after the lamp, though, even after Aladdin marries the princess and builds his own castle. When the magician finally does get his hands on the lamp, Aladdin learns how one's fortunes can change as quickly as a sandstorm scours the desert.

With Burton in charge, you know this one is going to be more than a little odd. The candy-colored trappings are some of the best of the entire series, and Burton has a lot of fun with the setting and with the genie (he keeps threatening Aladdin, even though he can't kill him and actually likes the guy).

Continued with more public domain shorts as I prepared for work. Clutch Cargo and Betty Boop were joined by yet another weird limited animation series from the 60s. Thankfully, this one wasn't quite as limited as Clutch or Colonel Bleep. Hoppity Hooper is my first encounter with the wacky world of Jay Ward and his creations, which also include Dudley Do-Right and Rocky & Bullwinkle. Hoppity and his pals Waldo Wigglesworth (voice of Hans Conried) and Filmore the Bear (voice of Bill Scott) are constantly running get-rich-quick schemes that get their little green friend into cliffhanging trouble.

I think this is intended to be a spoof of old-time serials, since there's two parts, and the first always ends in a cliffhanger. The stories work that way too, including one that references a famous Mark Twain short story. Cute enough that I may have to dig around for more from Ward (I think there's at least some Dudley Do-Right at the Oaklyn Library).

Work was pretty much what I thought it would be - steady when I came in, empty when I left. It was so quiet, I spent the second half of the night doing returns and cleaning registers. A manager came in for me when the other person who was working the registers was late getting back from his break.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Of Princesses, Fairies, Magic Mirrors, and Clutch Cargo

Started the morning off with breakfast and more cartoons. I didn't think anything could be stranger than the set of space cartoons from yesterday, but today's first group of shorts took the cake. I'd heard of Clutch Cargo before, usually as a joke, but never saw the real thing until today. This infamous 50s TV series used a very, very limited animation system that superimposed human lips over motionless drawings. Clutch was a pilot who'd go on Indiana Jones-esque adventures with his ward Spinner and Spinner's dog Paddlefoot. Some of the drawings are well-done, and the stories are interesting enough for fans of globe-trotting adventure who can get around the cheapness of the production and those odd moving lips.

Clutch Cargo ended the third DVD. I finally moved to the last one, which kicked off with more Betty Boop.  Once again, poor Pudgy is bedeviled by cats who wreck havoc and let him take the blame. This time, it's a trio of kittens causing trouble. Betty punishes him, but the cats feel bad and finally admit to their guilt.

Ran to the Acme next to do my grocery shopping and pick up my (small) paycheck. I didn't really have a big order, either. I wanted to get some ground chicken or turkey to replace what I used on the meatballs, but they're both expensive. I ended up buying more of those chicken cutlets for stir-fry instead. The Acme was having a rare winter sale on strawberries, and I needed apples, bananas, and green beans. I had a coupon for the Planters Peanut Butter, the Valentine's Day strawberry heart-shaped marshmallows were on sale, and I was out of maple syrup, butter spread, and chocolate chips. Found the last of the holiday tea on the clearance shelves; went with Bigalow's black "Egg Nogg'n" and herbal "Ginger Snappish."

When I got in, I had leftovers for lunch while watching three episodes of Fairie Tale Theatre. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and "Beauty and the Beast" are variations on "beauty is only skin deep." In "Snow White," Elizabeth McGovern is the title character who is bedeviled by her wicked stepmother, the jealous and vain queen (Vanessa Redgrave); Rex Smith is the singing prince. Susan Sarandon is the beauty who learns to look under the fur of her ferocious-looking but gentle host (Klaus Kinski) in "Beauty and the Beast." Carrie Fisher is a smaller beauty who learns that you're never too tiny to start making your own choices in "Thumbelina"; William Katt (of The Greatest American Hero) is her fairy prince.

Work was no problem today; busy when I came in during rush hour, relatively quiet when I left, with no major problems. Everyone must be happy we've finally gotten to the first major holiday weekend of the year.

Now I'm glad I did take all the extra hours I did this week. I have practically no hours next week. I only work Monday, Friday, and Saturday...and Monday and Friday are from 5 to 10! On the other hand, I'll get to enjoy a rare Sunday with Dad and Jodie watching the NFL Championship games - the winners of Sunday's games go on to the Super Bowl in two weeks. Not to mention, I'll be able to get a lot of things done around the apartment that I've put off over the last few weeks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

To Infinity, Fables, Sexy Sirens, and Beyond!

I slept in this morning and didn't get a whole lot done. I did manage to do a few things online and ran through more public domain cartoons. Saw lots of Betty Boop (Pudgy this time helps her get rid of a flock of crows who are destroying her vegetables; Grampy helps her fend off an obnoxious practical joker; a cat keeps making Pudgy take the blame for his messes), Foxy Fables (Brixton the Rabbit nearly loses his home to Fox; Francine the Goose teaches Fox about "an eye for an eye"), and The Mighty Heroes (they fought two horror-oriented villains, one of whom was turning the heads of the town into monsters).

The long-running Aesop's Fables are genuine pieces of film history. Paul Terry started this silent series of animal stories in the 20s. When he left during the early sound era to create his own studio, the Van Beuren Studio took them over and kept them going until 1933. They look fairly primitive today. It's pretty much Farmer Alfalfa dealing with animal antics. There's also the occasional melodramatic plot, like the gypsies kidnapping the little boy, who is eventually rescued from a waterfall by his beloved puppy.

I'm not even sure what it was that showed up later on the disc. They didn't have an opening sequence. All I could tell is that they are a series of colorful space opera-oriented shorts with round-headed Colonel Bleep and his two odd sidekicks (one is a caveman) rounding up intergalactic criminals, including an ongoing one. The limited animation reminded me of the 50s space-age patterns on my counter; I'm guessing they're from that time period.

A friend of Andrew's was nice enough to bring two packages upstairs while I was working online. One was Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, one of the last films I had on video that I'd been trying to replace on DVD. I finally found it for a decent price on Amazon. The other, the Baryshnikov The Nutcracker, was expensive on DVD to begin with and will probably take much longer to find.

Speaking of things I've been trying to find forever, I finally got Sailor Pluto on eBay last week. It was pure luck. I put in a bid, not expecting much to come out of it; there was another one after me, but it was redrawn at the last moment, leaving me the winner. I'm absolutely thrilled. She's the last of the 11.5-inch Sailor Moon dolls Irwin did in 2000 that I needed to complete my collection. (Sailor Saturn is much harder to find and usually very expensive when she does show up; I think she may have only been available in Asia.) I almost bought her in 2001, when I picked up Uranus and Neptune, but I didn't and have regretted it ever since. She cost me almost $40 for a Barbie-sized doll who came with none of her accessories but her boots, but she's worth it.

She's a real beauty. She was packaged bent-over in a small but well-padded box. She has very long, forest-green hair that looks like it was barely touched; it even has the waves from where it was held to the box. There's a few small stains on her sailor uniform, her torso's a bit loose, and she's missing her Time Staff and box, which is probably how I managed to get her for almost $40. I've seen Sailor Pluto go for anywhere from $65 to over $100 on eBay. She has the larger, darker, better drawn eyes of the later dolls.

I ran more cartoons while clearing out leftovers for lunch, then headed to work. Work was similar to yesterday - busy through rush hour, quieter but not that bad thereafter. I think people are starting to prepare for Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend, the first major holiday weekend of the year.

There were a few annoying customers. Two ladies kicked up a fuss when they thought a bag of breaded chicken tenders were a certain price...and wouldn't listen to reason, even when the head of the frozen food and cold food explained what the sale covered. They walked out with nothing. I don't know why they had a fit. Breaded chicken that isn't even good for you is nothing to cause trouble over.

Oh, and I picked up more extra hours. This time, a cashier wanted to attend a funeral that had come up suddenly and asked if I wanted to work on Saturday evening. Sure! She asked nicely and ahead of time, and it's only four hours, which will still give me time to do everything I wanted to do on Saturday. I do still need to make up for the hours lost last week and after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rainy Day Blues

Ugh. I was up for about 20 minutes this morning, and I hear the phone ring. Yup, it was the Acme. Could I come in at 10? Um, no. It was 9AM. I hadn't even had breakfast or gotten dressed or written in my journal! I finally went in around 11:30.

I was only supposed to stay until 3:30. Much to my surprise, despite the day's perpetual downpour, we were off-and-on busy. Between the weather and this being the middle of the week and the middle of a month that usually isn't that busy, I wasn't expecting the crowds. We were genuinely short on help, too. Many people had called out; a cashier had to be pulled from the front to help stock the shelves, and stock people were pulled to help up front. I heard the one woman dealing with the bakery that she had trouble there, too. She couldn't take calls and decorate cakes and take orders at the same time! One of the women at the customer service desk went home sick.

I ended up staying until 5:30. I don't mind the extra hours. I would have taken them under any circumstances. I do need them. I just wish they'd given me a little more warning. You can't call someone an hour before you want them to come in and automatically expect them to be ready, especially in the morning and when that person doesn't have ready transportation.

I was good and frustrated when I finally made it home. I ran an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, then more public domain cartoons. "The Princess and the Pea" is another comic Hans Christian Anderson story. An unhappy prince (Tom Conti) will only marry a REAL princess. His stuffy mother (Beatrice Straight) wants him to wed either a silly bimbo or a ruthless gold-digger. Prince Richard really prefers talking to the pretty girl who turned up during a rainstorm and claims to be a princess (Liza Minnelli). This girl is hardly the Queen Mother's idea of royalty, and she has a rather novel way of testing this girl's virtue...

In a way, it's a gender-reversed version of "The Princess Who Never Laughed." Here, it's the prince who learns a lesson in having fun and taking a chance from a woman who may or may not be royalty...but does know how to be a friend.

The cartoons on the public domain set just keep getting weirder. Fraidy Cat is a strange mid-70s show about a cat on his 9th life whose other lives "went bad." Whenever he says a number, the other lives appear in ghost form to make things worse. Some of Betty Boop's shorts, even in her later, less sexy incarnation, get pretty odd, too. One has her fleeing to the country to avoid city noise until she's attacked by mosquitoes; in a variation, her puppy Pudgy chases off a cat who was keeping his mistress awake.

Oh, and the rain that had gone on for most of the day was gone by the time I went home. As of now, it's still cloudy but not damp.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Musical Fiesta at Dad's House

I slept in this morning. It was well past noon before I made it over to Dad's with this week's laundry load. No one was home when I arrived, so I put the laundry in the washer and settled down on the soft new carpeting in the den. I ran several different Nickelodeon stations all afternoon, catching various shows.

The first up was Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids. The Haddon Township Library has several DVDs of episodes for this show, but I'd never rented them. As far as I can tell, a pair of spiders (including the title lady) has a very large brood of insect children of various species and teach them the ins and outs of a bug's life. In the first episode, one of the boys bring home a tiny mushroom, despite being told that spores could get into their tree home and grow everywhere. When mushrooms start invading Sunny Patch, he worries that it's his fault.

The second story was very sweet. An Australian lifeguard cricket whose job requires flight is devastated when a windstorm permanently damages one of his wings. I really liked how, instead of suddenly finding a way to fix the broken wing, the Miss Spider and her brood look for other ways for their Aussie friend to fly. I really enjoyed this episode and may have to try some of those DVD sets now.

Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go! both revolved around music. Dora, Boots, and their buddies travel to a small town that was about to have a musical fiesta...until Senior Shush took their instruments and locked them in a box. The box can only be opened when music is played, which brings in the kids and their adorable mini-orchestra. Diego and a pair of red-eyed tree frogs gather various animals from their homes and invite them to help with the Rainforest Concert his older sister Alicia is preparing for.

The next one was the brand-new version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'd only vaguely heard about this until yesterday, when I saw some of the action figures at the Happy Hippo. Most of the story seems to be the same. The Turtles are still four hip-talkin' teen mutants who live in the sewers under New York City with their rat mentor Splinter. Shredder is still a metal-covered villain who is backed by his band of Foot Soldiers.

Quite a few things have changed in the decade since the second, darker comics-based version debuted. The biggest change is April O'Neal, who was a reporter in the original and a tech geek in 2003, is now a teen not much younger than the Turtles who is looking for her father. And Krang, the pink alien brain who was the sarcastic main villain for most of the 80s series, seems to have multiplied into a whole race of genius pink alien brains in robotic suits. Oh yes, and this is in CGI...but CGI that's made to mimic both the feel of the comics and the anime that's become popular in the US. Characters get little rectangles over their heads when they're surprised, and tiny hearts around their heads when they're in love.

In this episode, Donatello, the mechanically-minded Turtle, is tired of the Krang aliens always managing to get around his staff. He creates a small but very well-stocked robot turtle he calls Metalhead to replace him in battle. That's all well and fine...until one of the Krangs get a hold of the machinery. Meanwhile, a restless April takes off in an attempt to find out more about her missing father.

I really liked it. The tone seems to be somewhere between the goofy 80s show and the tough 2003 incarnation. Raphael is sarcastic, there are jokes and wisecracks and spoofs, and Michelangelo is still a bit of a ditz...but the villains, including the Krangs, are a genuine threat. Love the new design for Splinter - he looks so regal. I'll have to look for more of this on Nick's site.

Of course, the biggest star at Nick is Spongebob Squarepants. Spongebob is Nickelodeon's numeral-uno, constantly-run cash-cow franchise. The trouble with Spongebob is, though the show is funny in small doses, it loses its charm and gets annoying quickly when seen in succession. I kept it to a very strange early episode about Spongebob falling in love with a Krabby Patty he'd made at work. No, really in love. He takes it on "dates" and treats it like a least until Squidward and Mr. Krabs point out that "she" is starting to smell a little nasty...

I had just enough time to get home, run some Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and get ready for work. In the double-length episode that opens the set, Peter Pan returns after exploring Neverland...but he's lost his shadow and his ability to fly in the process. The kids have to rescue his shadow from Hook and his crew and try to improve the gloomy Peter's mood. Other episodes involve the kids learning to not look a gift elephant in the mouth and pursuing a puppy who has run off with Hook's shoe.

One of the managers called me right before I went to Dad's and asked me if I wanted to come in an hour early. No problem. The laundry was the only thing I needed to get done today; I had no other plans, and I could use the extra hour. As it turned out, it probably wouldn't have mattered if I came in early or not. We were steady with rush-hour customers when I came in, quiet as can be when I left.

It had been damp and cloudy all day. It was sprinkling lightly when I got out of work. The rain was just starting to pick up as I made my way into Oaklyn. It thankfully waited to come down harder until I was already at home and online.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Was Warm

By the time I got up this morning, the fog had lifted, but the clouds remained. It was ridiculously warm for this time of year too, probably into the lower 60s. It was so warm, I was fine in my red Cape May hoodie sweatshirt throughout the day.

Needless to say, I dodged a rather large crowd in Newton River Park this morning. There were all kinds of people out and about, despite it still being wet and humid. I rode past joggers, fishermen, walkers, and one college-age woman with the cutest dog; it had whitish fur with brown and tan patches.

The Haddon Township Library was fairly busy. I didn't do much with the kids' section, mainly because I couldn't. The three shelves are so overloaded, it's hard to keep series and letters together anymore. They either need to buy a fourth shelf or weed out their children's collections. (Do they really need 30 different Bob the Builder, Pokemon, and Sesame Street sets?) I had an easier time pulling foreign and kids' titles from the adult shelves. Wound up taking out more Jake and the Neverland Pirates, along with Time After Time (I STILL haven't gotten to it), the recent theatrical 21 Jump Street (amazingly enough, I heard it was pretty funny), and Quantum of Silence (with the most recent James Bond film in theaters, I figured I'd finally get to the last one).

I rose straight to Haddonfield after leaving the library. Well...almost straight. I usually cut through Westmont, but the bridge that leads from the Westmont neighborhoods to Crystal Lake Roads was being repaired. I finally found another road that worked and had no more problems.

Had lunch at Amino Juice and Burrito Bar when I got in. I ate at this unusual organic foods eatery on a visit to Haddonfield last year and enjoyed it. Alas, my "Porky & Petunia" petito (small burrito) wasn't nearly as tasty as the one I had last year. It was pork, lettuce, and pineapple salsa...but other than the slightly spicy salsa, the pork was really kind of bland. It also made a mess; my sweater smelled like pork by the time I got home. The juice was much better. It was a "Jersey Girl" juice blend, a sweet, frothy mix of peach, banana, and strawberry.

I browsed in Haddonfield for a little while after lunch. I was disappointed to find that the Happy Hippo Toy Store had heavily reduced its stock of WebKinz. They only had a small basket of them, mostly Yetis. And sometime in the last six months or so, the gift shop Jamaican Me Crazy renamed itself to the less-imaginative Forever Young and moved to the campus of Rowan College in Glassboro.

Thankfully, the therapist's office wasn't hard to find. Ms. Stahl has two rooms on the side of a large Victorian building, just a few blocks away from the main shopping district. I was surprised to walk in and see a small room overstuffed with toys, books, papers, a big, soft futon chair, and a huge stuffed teddy bear in the window. I arrived a little early, so I settled down with a book on classic toys and read until she was ready to receive me.

My appointment went very well. Ms. Stahl turned out to be a cheerful blond woman in her early 50s. Her office was even smaller than the entrance, but a bit brighter and better organized...though she did have a closet filled with toys, including what appeared to be a vintage 70s-80s Little People House, like the one my sisters and I had when we were little.

We mainly discussed the basics. I outlined the reasons I was there - to improve my confidence, work on social skills and networking so I could find a better job, and learn to deal with events and problems in my life that have crippled me for decades. I explained about my complicated family situation, my trouble in school, the early puberty (I developed at age 9; had my period a year later) and being moved to the Special Services School District, my parents' marital troubles and how that impacted me, and how I ended up in Wildwood and eventually moved up here. I also told her about my difficult fall and how it lead me to seek counseling for the first time in three years.

Ms. Stahl was really sweet and upbeat. She said she could understand why I was having problems making use of my communications degree; the Internet was eliminating many communications jobs even as I was graduating college. And I just don't have the confidence to go more aggressively after jobs. I'm quiet, introverted, and prefer to take life at my own pace...exactly the opposite of what most jobs at sites like are advertising for. I don't want to end up at another job that will make me as crazy as the Acme.

I still really want to work from home. Though I was sometimes bored being stuck at home for two months, it did give me a chance to start writing again and finally move towards becoming a freelance writer. The trouble is, I still don't have much of a portfolio. There's the whole "I don't sell myself well" thing, too. Not to mention, those two online business courses I took last year only ended up freaking me out. I didn't want to start a retail business; I just wanted to figure out  how to sell my writing.

There's also my weight to consider. I've had weight problems since my early development between 1988 and 1990, and they've just ballooned since. I'd like to go back to the gym, but I don't have the money. Paying for yoga classes costs enough as it is. There's also the fact that, as Mom reminded me in the fall, a lot of food that is good for you - especially fruits and vegetables - aren't cheap. (And they certainly aren't at this time of the year!)

I'll be going back to Haddonfield on the 29th. Ms. Stahl pretty much said until then to try to eat better and work on my writing. We'll probably go more into my past and my hobbies next time.

I made a few stops on the way home. I wanted to see if JoAnn's had any Christmas yarn on clearance. They had Christmas yarn, but it wasn't part of their clearance sale. I did end up getting a few other things on clearance, though - two more containers of cookie and baked good holders (one a Wilton, the other Martha Stewart), another clearance crochet pattern book (this one themed with "comfort" items to donate to those in need), and a cute little bear bobblehead who was also on clearance. He had a chipped ear, but a little paint should fix that.

As I rode across the Westmont Plaza parking lot, I saw cranes removing Super Fresh's signage on the building and on the mall entrance signs. Sigh. They officially closed last Friday. I'm going to miss them. Their produce was terrible and they didn't always have the best prices, but they did have decent sales on some things, like maple syrup, grits, and cooking spray.

Managed to get across Cuthbert Road at rush hour long enough to pick up money and milk at Rite Aid. (I gave Ms. Stahl all the money I had on me for my co-pay. Unlike Genesis Counseling, she doesn't accept credit cards.) After that, I finally headed home.

Dubbed the 1954 Beau Brummell as I made Teriyaki and Ginger Pollack with Escarole and broccoli and cheese for dinner. Stewart Granger is Brummell, a famous dandy who rose up from poverty to become the adviser to the weak-willed Prince of Wales (a very young Peter Ustinov). He attempts to woo the fair Lady Patricia (Elizabeth Taylor), but she's already engaged to a rather dull politician. What goes up must come down...and that includes careers. A quarrel with the Prince ends with Brummell leaving England in disgrace.

This is actually a remake of a 1924 silent film with John Barrymore. Neither Granger nor Taylor are particularly convincing as dashing lovers in big hats. Ustinov and Robert Morley are much better as the childish Prince and his insane, paranoid father. It doesn't appear to be on DVD at the moment; fans of Taylor will want to catch this one on TCM.

Oh, and the clouds finally burst shortly after I got home. It's been raining hard on and off ever since, and looks like it will continue to do so for the next two days.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Pea-Soup-Peanut Butter Kind of Fog

I awoke around 10:30...I think. Not that I could see much. It was foggy here for most of the day. At any rate, I read in bed and did my journal and didn't get to making Buttermilk Oatmeal Pancakes until nearly an hour later. Ran the second half of Brunch With the Beatles during breakfast. Today's theme discussed the Beatles in 1970 and 1971. The second hour mostly played songs from after their break-up - Paul and Linda's "Uncle Albert" and "Maybe I'm Amazed," Ringo's "Back Off Boogaloo," and George's "What Is Life?" and "My Sweet Lord," along with music from "The Concert for Bangladesh."

I spent most of the afternoon after breakfast online. I got off briefly to eat leftovers for a quick lunch and dinner, and to switch on the radio to listen to this afternoon's playoff games. I heard most of the Atlanta-Seattle game. That one was really crazy. The Falcons were kicking rear during the first half, but the Seahawks scored three times in a row during the third quarter. The Falcons finally caught up again in the fourth quarter and got a thrilling last minute field goal to win them the game 30-28.

Rose called me just as I was finishing a short flash fiction piece about a babysitter and her mischievous charge for Helium. She wanted to say "hi" and find out how I was doing after the holidays and how I was faring financially. I'm doing much better. I put a lot of Christmas money my savings account, and I put a little of my last paycheck in there, too. The lack of hours shouldn't hurt me nearly as much as they did last summer and in late November/early December.

Rose's friend Colleen will be coming up to visit later this week. Last year, when Colleen came to visit in January, we all took Khai to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden and had a lot of fun. This time, Rose wants to do something a little more girl-oriented and without her son - see Les Miserables in the theater. I've been dying to see that ever since I first heard it was coming out. A chance to see an awesome musical, in the theater, with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe singing? I don't care if it's really long. It sounds awesome. Rose mentioned possibly seeing it next Saturday.

My other project for today was more personal. I wanted to make a list of everything I needed to discuss with the therapist tomorrow. There was so much to add, I printed out three pages and would have written more if I didn't need to have something for dinner before work. I ate leftover soup while listening to the Patriots-Texans game. The Patriots were winning when I finally headed out.

Work wasn't too bad. It was on-and-off steady when I came in at 6:15, dead to the point of there only being employees left in the store when we closed. I spent most of the night cleaning and tidying up around the registers.

Considering the heavy fog and a busy TV night, I'm surprised we had any customers. In addition to the two football games, the Golden Globes were on tonight. One of the baggers had it on when I was in the back room during my break. I saw the Showtime program Homeland win for best TV drama, Damian Lewis from that show win for Best Supporting Actor in a TV Drama, and poor Paul Rudd and Salma Hayek have an awkward moment when the camera came in before they were ready to announce the TV drama nominees.

(Oh, and much to my annoyance, the Patriots finally pushed past the Texans 41-28. I really hope the Ravens kick their rears next week. They've been to the Super Bowl entirely too much. Let's spread the wealth around.)

The impenetrable fog that had been horrible all night was even worse when I got out around 10:15. It was really scary riding home. I could barely see two feet in front of my face...and the light mist on my glasses didn't help. I was so happy when I finally got home.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Donations and Dusting

I slept in and didn't get to today's errands until almost 11. I had at least two more bags of donations to take over to the Logan Presbyterian Church. They usually open the thrift shop every other week...but perhaps because of the holidays, they were open two weeks in a row. Instead of trying to load everything onto my bike this time, I dropped it in Miss Ellie's old cart instead. It took a little longer to walk there, but was much easier to haul. I got it there around 11:40. This time, I didn't see anything that I wanted and headed out empty-handed.

Stopped at WaWa on the White Horse Pike on the way home for a fountain soda; added raspberry and vanilla syrups to Diet Dr. Pepper. Since I was passing the Oaklyn Library on my way home, I volunteered there, too. Mainly organized DVDs and the kids' books today. They'd moved the kids' tables and chairs back into the kids' area and moved the board book to a smaller stand-alone shelf. I also stopped at Doria's Deli to say "hi" and buy eggs.

When I got in, I had lunch and watched more public-domain cartoons, then spent the rest of the afternoon dusting the apartment. It really needed it. I haven't done any cleaning since the week before Thanksgiving. Even so, I was running short on time at that point. I didn't do the most thorough job in the world - I didn't dust under the Star Wars action figures or the dolls on top of the closets. I did dust under the books on the bookshelves across from my bed and near the windows, but that's because they were so bad, I couldn't get away with leaving them as they were.

I left for work a little early. I needed to pick up my contacts from America's Best. I wouldn't have done it so close to work if I'd realized how busy they were! They were so busy, the guy at the desk got my contacts mixed up with someone else's and had to rush out to give me the right ones. I just barely got to work on time.

Ironically, work was stone-cold dead for most of the night. Two very exciting NFL playoff games and heavy fog likely contributed to this. The Ravens came from behind to beat the Broncos in double overtimethe 49ers beat the heavily favored Packers 45-31. Other than dealing with a few obnoxious customers, I spent most of the night being very bored. 

Oh, and I went online briefly this afternoon and discovered that, after putting numerous bids on Sailor Pluto dolls from the 12 inch 2000 Irwin line for the past five years or so, only to see them skyrocket beyond my budget, I finally won her. She ended up being $40 with shipping, still steep, but not nearly as high as the $70 or $80 I've seen her command online. She's the last doll I need to complete my collection. Sailor Pluto is the Guardian of the Time Gate, the quiet, mature older "college girl" soldier. She's my favorite character on the series other than Sailor Moon/Serena herself, and I'm thrilled to finally have her. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Adventures In the Rain

I slept so late today, I didn't get to the Acme until 12:30! Surprisingly, it wasn't busy at all. I was able to walk right up to the counter and get my big paycheck from last week without a fuss. Good thing, because I needed a lot today. Had to restock flour, canned tomato sauce, wraps, canned black beans, canola oil, dollar single packs of fish, oranges, bananas, and apples. Thank heavens the $1.49 apples have returned, and they had a sale on bags of oranges. Thought I'd try escarole in place of lettuce - I used to eat it a lot when I lived in Wildwood because it was so cheap. They were still out of the small bags of frozen peas. I just bought the large ones. The Acme is clearing out cereals and the remaining holiday food items; ended up with a box of Pillsbury Holiday Cake Mix to replace the white cake mix I used on that Pumpkin Pudding Cake, a bag of Pumpkin Bar Cookie Mix, and a second box of Cascade Farms Multi-Grain Square Cereal (and may get even more - $1.59 for a cereal that usually costs more than $3.50 is too good of a deal to pass up!).

I ran more of that public domain cartoon set while having lunch. The set seems to mainly be separated into these categories:

The Paramount Superman Shorts
Former Disney animator Ub Iwerks' ComiColor Classics
The Mighty Heroes - a 60s Terrytoons series
Betty Boop
The Famous Studios (Paramount's later animation studio) Popeye Shorts
Little LuLu and Little Audrey, mischievous moppets from Famous Studios in the 40s and 50s
Mel-O-Toons - Limited animation adaptations of kids' 45s from Capitol Records from the late 50s/early 60s
Ray Harryhausen's marionette fairy tale stop-motion shorts
Baby Huey and Casper the Friendly Ghost - two more Famous Studios refugees
The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo - Mid-70s series that uses Clutch Cargo-esque limited animation to educate viewers about sea life around the world; Billie Mae Richards, best known as the long-time voice of the Rankin-Bass Rudolph, is the voice of the boy and girl here
The Fabulous Fleischer Folio - The Disney Channel's name for the Fleischer Brothers' public-domain color one-shots works rather well here, too.
Screen Songs - This long running Paramount series mixes "Sing Along"-style karaoke with music videos. The Fleischers did the originals from 1929 to 1938. Famous Studios revived the shorts in the late 40s.
Noveltoons - Famous Studios one-shots
Foxy Fables - Claymation series from England based around Aesop's Fables
A few Fleischer Brothers Popeye shorts, notably the Arabian adventures Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor, and Ali Baba
A series of anime-esque adaptations of fairy and folk tales from around the world
Mr. Piper - More fairy tale adaptations, these introduced by a jolly, plump live-action host
Aesop's Fables - the original 20s-30s Terrytoons
Van Beuren Shorts - Includes the Parrotville series and the 30s color Felix the Cat
Felix the Cat - As I mentioned in an earlier entry, the silent "Astronomeous"

I've never been so happy to be wrong about something. Along with my wonderful new coat, this set was by far my favorite Christmas present. I've been considering buying one of those big sets with tons of public domain shorts for ages now, but I never quite got around to it. The prints are battered, often missing their original credits, and probably censored in many cases (cough, Betty Boop), but some of these shorts are very rare, and the sheer variety makes things interesting. You never know what to expect next - adventures under the ocean, little girls making mischief, a sailor rescuing his very thin girlfriend, a fairy tale that may or may not be set to music, Superman saving the day, a British Claymation fox outwitting the entire forest.

I ran a few errands after lunch. My first stop was a quiet bank to deposit my paycheck. Even with my college deferment ending and two much smaller paychecks next week and the week after, I should still have enough money for the rent this month. As I've mentioned, unlike in the summer and fall, my hours won't be staying like this. February is stuffed full of events, sports, and vacations, and is really our busiest month of the year, even more than November and December.

Made a short stop at Dad and Jodie's next. I wanted to drop off the rest of the black crochet pot holder/coaster set I made for them and say "hi," since I didn't do the laundry at their house this week. They were relaxing after having done their own cleaning and Christmas de-decorating. I chatted with them about their vacation to Florida in mid-February and got to look at all the weather and navigational apps on Dad's early iPad. Dad's apps said that heavier rain was on its way. It had rained on and off all day, but never heavy or for very long. I wanted to avoid the weather before it got worse, so I just headed home.

It was just starting to spit when I got home. The rain picked up later and became quite heavy for a while. I spent the rest of the evening inside. I baked Pumpkin Bars and Chocolate-Orange-Chip Muffins, made Chicken Vegetable Soup for dinner, and watched Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

This one has a lot in common with John Carter - rogue hero meets feisty princess while seeking artifact that could save a whole kingdom. In this case, the artifact - a dagger that can propel a person backwards in time - will not only save Persia, but time itself. The title character (Jake Gyndenhaal) is accused of killing his father by his adopted brothers and treacherous uncle (Ben Kingsley). He pairs up with the princess whose sacred city they raided (Gemma Arterton) and the owner of an ostrich-racing track (Alfred Molina) to secure the dagger and get it into the right hands.

The story isn't the only thing it has in common with John Carter. This was another huge fantasy flop for Disney that doesn't deserve it's poor reputation. While it's not as well written or complex, it has its own virtues, including some amazing special effects (check out that literally explosive ending under the city). The acting is either dull or over-the-top and the writing isn't as solid; even so, while this doesn't get the glowing review from me that John Carter did, it's still worth seeing if you're a sci-fi, fantasy, or action fan looking for light entertainment.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Return to Balance

With my ankle better and my finances improving, I thought today would be a good time to return to yoga classes. I think I can save up for them now, especially since I'm not doing the gym anymore. This is one of the few ways I really have to meet people. It's expensive, but it's worth it.

I picked the right day to start my practice again. Today was the Thursday morning teacher Karin's last day before she goes on maternity leave. She'd announced her pregnancy just a few weeks before I got hurt! It's hard to believe it was that long ago. Needless to say, given her current condition, we didn't do a lot of jumping around. We mainly concentrated on inversions and balance poses. I did ok, considering how out of shape I am, but I'm very glad I got to say good-bye to Karin. She's been so nice to me.

Didn't have as much luck at the Collingswood Library. I probably could have returned to volunteering for them last month when I went back to the other two. The Collingswood Library is very different from the ones at Oaklyn and Haddon Township, though. Collingswood emphasizes community events and arts more than any other local town. The library is quite popular. They had a whole platoon of young college students organizing and shelving DVDs downstairs, and nothing to shelve upstairs. I hung around for a half-hour before I finally went home.

I may just drop volunteering at the Collingswood Library all together. Even when I go there on other days, they never seem to have all that much for me to do. Despite what my friend FA who works the counter says, I really don't think they need me there like they need me at the other two libraries.

Spent the rest of the afternoon indoors. I watched Thumbelina as I ate leftovers, flounder fillets, and a romaine salad for lunch. Don Bluth was known for making some pretty strange animated films in the 80s and 90s. This is the closest he ever really came to imitating Disney, even more than with Anastasia. This is a very straightforward adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. The title lass longs to meet someone as tiny as she is. She's thrilled when she encounters a fairy prince, but a series of increasingly unsuitable animals woo her and steal her away from him. In the end, she discovers that, no matter what your size, anyone can find their heart's desire...may it be large or small.

This charming musical was a victim of the same glut of animated fairy tales in the mid-late 90s that doomed The Swan Princess at the box office. I know a lot of girls who grew up during that time period have a soft spot for this one. I thought it was cute and lively, but that wasn't enough to overcome quite a few liabilities. Except for a lovely number when Thumbelina meets her prince in the beginning, the animation has dated rather badly - the CGI work is painfully obvious. The songs are very far from Barry Manilow's best work, and the characters are either bland (Thumbelina, her prince, and most of the fairies), grating (the majority of the animals), or just plain weird (a Hispanic frog voiced by Charro?). In addition to the number I mentioned, the other stand-out was the touching song for Thumbelina's mother (voice of Broadway star Barbara Cook) as she laments her lost daughter. A great voice cast (John Hurt, Gilbert Gottfried, Jodi Benson, and Carol Channing in addition to Cook and Charro) do what they can with the material.

For all that, it's harmless enough that this might be a good starter princess story for the very youngest royal girls. Fans of Bluth or young women who grew up seeing this on TV or video in the 90s and have fond memories may want to look it up as well.

After Thumbelina ended and while it was on, I did things around the apartment. I did some work online. I vacuumed everything I could. I did some vacuuming when I took the tree down last week, but it was really quick. This time, I not only re-did the music area and kitchen, but did the entertainment area and bedroom, too. I haven't really cleaned since late November, and the dust is appalling  It got to my sinuses. I've been sneezing like crazy all day.

Work was steady to busy for most of the night. We were short on help; most of the front end was putting up the tags for the new sales that start tomorrow. It just slowed down enough by 8 that I was able to leave without a relief.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tidying Up and Scrubbing Down

I spend the morning doing some research on my computer. I received my appointment for getting Food Stamps yesterday; it's next month. One of the items you need to get food stamps in New Jersey is an ID card or driver's license. My non-driver's ID hasn't been updated in ages. It was a lot easier to update it when I lived in Wildwood. The closest Motor Vehicles store to me was right over the bridge in Rio Grande. Here, the closest one is in Camden, which is the last place anyone wants to go on their own. I'll try the ones in Runnemede or Cherry Hill.

(I don't know why they can't just update the system to allow you to renew your ID online in New Jersey. It would be so much easier on people who can't always get to Motor Vehicles offices.)

After I gave up on that, I went for a walk. Wanted to volunteer at the Oaklyn Library before they closed for the day. They were having major computer programs. One woman complained that her console was corrupted; she kept getting interrupted by the site she was looking at a half-hour ago, or the site would switch to somewhere else before she was ready. At least two others had sound or picture trouble. I had a much easier time organizing the DVDs and the newly reorganized and thinned out children's DVDs and books. I went through their book sale again and bought A Knight's Tale with Heath Ledger (an old favorite of my brother Keefe - it made him a fan of Queen) and the discarded children's book Baby Kermit's Christmas, a vintage 80s Muppet Babies picture tale.

Went to WaWa next. It was cloudy, dry, and warm for the time of year, in the upper 40s-lower 50s. It was too warm for a hot chocolate. I'd already had some International House of Coffee this morning as well. Amanda sent me a container of French Vanilla International House of Coffee in her Christmas package. I used to buy it occasionally in college and during my Wildwood years, but it got too pricy for the occasional indulgence. It's a rare treat indeed. I settled on a Coke Zero fountain soda with chocolate and cherry syrups and a pretzel.

Spent the rest of a cloudy afternoon at home, giving the kitchen and bathroom a very much-needed scouring. I hadn't cleaned either since late November, before Thanksgiving. They both needed it badly, especially the bathroom. It was awful. I'm glad I bought the dollar store cleaner with bleach last month. The tub and the bathroom and kitchen sinks all needed the lift.

I continued running several of my new finds and Christmas presents throughout the day. Did two more Lois & Clark episodes this morning. "Smart Kids" pits DC's favorite reporters against a group of "special needs" children who were given a brain-enhancing serum by a mad scientist. While Lois tries to help one of the girls who was caught feel better about her situation, Clark looks for more information on the chemicals that were used on them.

"The Green, Green Glow of Home" takes the pair back to Clark's native Smallville, Kansas. No, it's not a reunion of Warner's next big Superman show after this one. Clark gets very nervous when they have to investigate the discovery of a chunk of glowing green meteorite that may not be what it appears. Seems this bit of rock has a rather nasty effect on Clark and on his powers....

Switched to a Faerie Tale Theatre episode featuring another famous Superman during a leftovers dinner. "Sleeping Beauty" is one of the earlier shows in the series. Its Russian theme and background music are taken from the famous Tchaikovsky ballet, with a few additions to pad a fairly straightforward plot. Bernadette Peters is the slumbering princess of the title who is put to sleep for 100 years; Carol Kane and Beverly DiAngelo are the good and wicked fairies respectively. Christopher Reeve is the noble prince who sets her free. This one is held back by some of the series' more dated special effects and the obvious plot filler with the wicked fairy luring the prince in the middle.

I finally started the second disc of that 350 cartoon set a few days ago. A few more Superman shorts ("Showdown," "Secret Agent"), a Mel-O-Toons version of Sleeping Beauty, and two song-based classics from the Fleischer Brothers studios, "Somewhere In Dreamland" and "Small Fry" rounded out the night.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Fine Feathered Reporters

I spent most of the morning running the second disc of Lois & Clark episodes. This is definitely not for people who like their superheroes dark and edgy. The plots are charming and fun but kind of goofy. "I'm Looking Through You" involves a meek scientist who invents an invisible suit, then needs Clark and Lois' help when his suits are stolen by crooks. "Requiem for a Superhero" pits Superman against boxers whose cyborg parts may put them out of the ring...and were invented by Lois' estranged scientist father. The last one has our dynamic duo undercover in a typical nightclub straight out of one of Warner's gangster movies of the 30s. While Lois purrs "I've Got a Crush On You" and dances in feathers, Clark romances a female gangster who owns the club and wants to go legit.

I did manage to make it to CVS before work today. I meant to stop at Rite Aid yesterday after my library run, but I was out too late. Turns out CVS was having a couple of good shampoo and conditioner sales. I ended up with Pantene. (I think Herbal Essences discontinued their curl formula.) I also badly needed a notebook for my offline journal. I finished the last one the day before yesterday! Got sponges, too.

Went home and had leftovers for lunch, then headed to work. Work was steady through the end of rush hour, after which it was on and off. With the beginning of the month winding down, the holiday season ending, and no local football teams in the playoffs, it probably won't be busy again here until Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Bedlam In the Big City and the Big Top

Started today with the first few episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. If you've seen any other version of DC Comics' first superhero, you know the drill. Gentle reporter Clark Kent (Dean Cain) is the quiet partner of dynamic Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher)...but when trouble arises in Metropolis, he becomes Superman, a heroic rescuer in bright blue spandex. He and Lois work for Metropolis' leading newspaper, the Daily Planet. Perry White (Lane Smith) is their gruff, Elvis-loving boss. Jimmy Olsen (Michael Landes) is the eager cub reporter; Catherine "Cat" Grant (Tracy Scoggins) is the trashy society editor. Superman fights the evil Lex Luthor (John Shea), a businessman who appears benevolent, but is really only out for his own interests, along with other bizarre threats to world peace. He's helped along by his good-natured farmer parents Jonathan (Eddie Jones) and Martha (K Callan).

The emphasis here, as you can probably guess from the title, is on Clark and Lois' the point where heroics sometimes take a back-seat. This may be all to the good, since the special effects are really the only things that are terribly dated here. In fact, the show really feels like a 90s Moonlighting with a less roguish male star and heavy fantasy overtones. Hatcher and Cain have wonderful chemistry, and Cain is certainly easy on the eyes. Recommended for fans of the Superman mythos who are looking for something beyond the usual "up, up, and away!" and can handle a little cheesiness in their plots.

It was nearly 12:30 before I finally made it out to my first stop today. I had enough money to get my laundry done at the laundromat instead of Dad's. Besides, I also had a really large load. Towels, jeans, and Christmas linens needed to be washed, along with many long-sleeved shirts and turtlenecks that were necessary in last week's cold weather. I went downstairs and loaded my overstuffed laundry bag into Miss Ellie's old cart...then went right back upstairs. I'd finally gotten my Christmas package from my friend Amanda.

Amanda works at Bath & Body Works. I shouldn't have been surprised that three of the items in the bag were from there. There were two cute Christmas-themed containers of foaming hand wash and a pair of adorable aloe-infused, bear-themed sleep socks, along with a box of "peppermint bark" (really blocks of white and dark chocolate with candy cane pieces, but they tasted pretty good) and of those hazelnut-filled Pirouette cookies.

I finally got to the laundromat by quarter of 1. Thank heavens it wasn't busy at all. I read Becoming Real while the wash was in the machines, ignoring the silly talk shows and soap operas on ABC. I saw one Hispanic family, a couple of young men, and two older women, but most didn't stay for that long.

When I got home, I put my laundry away, had a quick Peanut Butter and Strawberry Fruit Spread sandwich for lunch, and headed back out again. I had debated starting this month's cleaning today, but it was really too nice. The temperatures had risen into the upper 40s, and it was sunny and breezy and beautiful. There were lots of people in Newton River Park as I rode by; I dodged joggers, walkers, and a woman strolling along with the cutest, friskiest brown dachshund puppy in a red sweater.

The Haddon Township Library was very busy when I arrived. There were lots of people, kids and adults, looking for DVDs...and lots of things to return, for once. Too many. The kids' DVDs are starting to outgrow the three turning shelves they're in. They either need to buy another shelf, or start weeding out the kids' stuff. I also shelved picture books and fished a good pile of foreign and kids' movies out of the adult titles.

I did end up taking out a few things this week. I found the newest Joanna Fluke book, Devil's Food Cake Murder. Wound up with three DVDs - the Don Bluth romantic fantasy Thumbelina, the most recent Scooby Doo movie Big Top Scooby, and Prince of Persia. The last-named was another Disney attempt at creating a fantasy franchise that flopped badly...but I enjoyed John Carter so much, I thought I'd give this one a chance.

It was getting late by the time I was finished. I just rode straight home, dodging rush-hour traffic on Cuthbert Road. When I finally got in, I ran more Lois & Clark, along with Big Top Scooby. Though the Scooby movie is supposed to be set in Atlantic City, it has nothing to do with casinos. Fred is a huge circus enthusiast and wants to take the rest of the gang to see the newest show in town, though Shaggy has his eye on a concert with a popular Swedish heavy metal group. When it turns out that werewolves are terrorizing the circus and it may have to close, the gang goes undercover as performers to find out what they're really after.

Definitely an improvement over the odd musical Mark of the Vampire from the spring. The story is both less complicated and more involving, and the villains aren't quite as obvious...and there's no music except for the metal band's incomprehensible lyrics at the end. Not really a must-see, but kids and fans of Scooby will have a lot of fun here.