Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Babes at Work

I was able to finish Babes In Arms and bake a Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake before I rushed off to work this morning. This was the first of the four infamous Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "barnyard musicals" that had a bunch of teenagers putting on a show, usually for a good cause. In this case, the kids themselves are the cause. They want to give their unemployed vaudevillian parents a new lease on life and keep their families together. Judy is all set to be Mickey's big singing star...until he sets eyes on cutesy former child star "Baby" Rosalie (June Preissler). Mickey's hoping that a big name will sell tickets. Judy's heartbroken and takes off. When a truancy officer (Margaret Hamilton) threatens to close down the show and take the kids away, things look pretty glum...until Judy returns to remind everyone that the show must go on, no matter what your age.

While this was a huge hit when it came out in 1939 (MGM's top-grossing musical of the year, beating even Judy's other famous 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz), it doesn't hold up today. The topical finale "God's Country" doesn't come off as well as smaller numbers like Mickey and Judy's swinging opening rendition of "Good Morning," or Douglas McPhail and Betty Jaymes' lovely "Where Or When."

(And considering the time I had, the cake came out nice, soft and sticky and just sweet enough.)

Work was...well, it was really boring. It was fairly quiet from my arrival at 11AM through the usual 4PM rush hour, after which things picked up considerably. I spent a lot of the afternoon putting away candy. I did pick up some extra hours, 1:30 to 7:30, tomorrow. I hope that was a good idea. While the additional money wouldn't kill me, we're supposed to get more crazy storms like last week Thursday afternoon.

I returned to Mickey and Judy when I got home and made Salmon with Green Pepper and Mushrooms for dinner. This time, they're Babes On Broadway. Mickey's part of a trio who sings and dances in restaurants, but he wants more. When they're turned down by a big-time producer (James Gleason), Mickey insists that he and his buddies become their own producers. Instead of raising the money, they agree to put on a benefit show to help the kids of a local orphanage go on a trip in the country. Mickey's delighted with the idea and with his new singer (Garland)...until he gets an offer for a big-time professional show from the producer's casting director (Fay Bainter). It'll take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but Mickey and Judy do finally make their debuts on "a great place for babes like us to be on..."

I liked the urban vibe in this one better than the down-home Babes In Arms. Once again, topical songs like "Chin Up, Cheerio" (a radio broadcast for British kids escaping the Blitz to talk to their parents) are mixed with small, lovely tunes like Judy and Mickey's sweet Oscar-nominated "How About You?" My favorite number was actually a series of songs. Mickey and Judy enter an abandoned theater and imagine what it was like when theatrical greats like George M. Cohen and Sarah Berndhart played there. Loved Mickey's Cohan and Judy's hilarious Berndhart and fun Blanche Ring (singing "Rings On Her Fingers").

(PC warning - the Babes films feature similar black face/minstrel numbers that look rather offensive today, but were considered nostalgia for the simpler era of traveling minstrel shows in the late 30s and early 40s.)

Went into the beginning of Strike Up the Band next. This one varies things a bit by putting the kids in a "modern dance orchestra" (i.e, the swing orchestras popular in 1940, when this came out). Once again, babyish Preissler makes a play for Rooney, and Judy is left wondering about his loyalty. Meanwhile, one of the younger kids in the group needs an operation, and Mickey has to decide if he should use the money they've raised to take them to Chicago to audition for Paul Whiteman, or help a friend in need.

I saw this one on TCM in college. My impression at the time was some good numbers collapse under a pile of melodramatic mush towards the end. It's held up a tad better than that, though not quite as well as Babes On Broadway. The most famous numbers are the massive high school dance ala-Busby Berkley "Do the La Conga" and Judy and Mickey's "Our Love Affair," with the latter part featuring a nifty stop-motion fruit orchestra. There's also the hilarious spoof of old-time melodramas, with Judy and Mickey having a blast as ingenue and virtuous hero.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Remember My Forgotten Butler

Started off the morning with Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins for breakfast while watching the first half of My Man Godfrey. William Powell is the title character, a "forgotten man" (aka bum) who is dragged from the city dump by sweet but goofy Irene Burdeck (Carole Lombard) to be her winning piece in a scavenger hunt. She not only wins, but offers Godfrey a job as her wealthy family's butler. Godfrey accepts, but quickly discovers why the family can't keep hired help. The mom (Alice Brady) is even ditzier than her youngest daughter, sees "pixies" when she's hungover, and keeps a "protege" (Mischa Aurer) around because he amuses her. The older daughter (Gail Patrick) is smarter, but bratty and bossy. The dad (Eugene Pallette) is about ready to throttle the whole lot of them. Godfrey's not what he seems, and before the end of the film, he teaches the whole clan that it doesn't matter if you have money or are a "forgotten man," true happiness comes from helping others in need.

This sweet screwball comedy is reminiscent of the movies Frank Capra was putting out then, with a similar "soak the rich" theme. Powell and Lombard are both enjoyable as the so-called "forgotten man" and the flaky society girl who doesn't know what she wants...other than him. Great supporting cast, too - Pallette and Brady are particuarlly fun as the annoyed father and his doting wife. This is one of the seminal screwball comedies and one of the best comedies of the 30s. If you love the genre, Powell, or Lombard, seek it out. (But beware of cheap public domain copies. This was in the public domain for years. The Universal and Criterion prints are the ones to look for.)

It was nearly 12:30 when I finally made it to the Oaklyn Library. As the librarian pointed out, the place had been dead quiet all morning, likely due to the still-gorgeous weather. I looked over the DVDs and organized the children's section, but otherwise, there wasn't a whole lot to do. Took out the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney TCM Legends Classic Collection set and the animated sci-fi tale Titan A.E.

Next stop was lunch at Amato Bros, a deli a few blocks from the Oaklyn Library on the White Horse Pike. I bought a roast beef wrap that was loaded with lunchmeat. (It had so much meat, I'm actually glad I accidentally asked for no mayo - it didn't really need it.) I was going to eat it outside, but to my dismay, the little picnic table they used to have was gone. I ate inside, listening to the two guys behind me chat and watching people order late lunch trays. I couldn't finish the whole huge wrap and kept half of the second part for dinner.

After a brief stop at Rite Aid for contact solution, I moved on to the Haddon Township Library. While they were busy with kids doing a scavenger hunt of their own, there wasn't a lot for me to put away. It's been too nice for people to take out a lot of movies. I organized the kids' titles and shelved a stack of adult ones. With a library already involved in shelving kids' books, I figured there wasn't much else for me to do, so I moved on. Took nothing out here - what I had from the Oaklyn Library was plenty.

Headed home through Newton River Park. Other than it was slightly hotter, the day remained beautiful, warm, sunny, and dry. Needless to say, there were plenty of people out and about in the park and around town. I dodged a mother and her children (one in a huge stroller), dog walkers, joggers, fishermen, and other folks on bikes.

I stopped at Leo's Yum-Yums for a treat to cool me off. I went with a lime-vanilla Yum-Yum (creamier, grittier water ice). Since it was next door and open, I then went to Studio LuLoo to see what they were all about. Studio LuLoo is Oaklyn's arts and music center, the closest thing to the "recreation centers" common in Cape May County in this area. I had a nice chat with two of the volunteers about lending my services to their many arts, writing, and music programs.

Spent the next few hours doing job hunt research online. After I got hungry, I had a salad and the rest of my sandwich from earlier for dinner, then swept the porch. The pepper nuts aren't quite as numerous as they were earlier in the month, but I did see the first tiny acorns of the year.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'll Be With You In Summertime....

Started the day with another episode of Lois & Clark. Superman is the only one who can stop a comet from hitting Earth...but he gets "All Shook Up" when it proves to be even more than he can handle. Clark ends up with amnesia and has to try to retrace his identity...both of them. Meanwhile, a fragment of the comet is still on its way to Metropolis and could do some serious harm.

Headed out to do the laundry around quarter of noon. I read LuLu In Hollywood as CBS blared news of the house explosion in South Philly. The laundromat wasn't too busy for the lunch hour, despite the absolutely amazing weather. I didn't have a huge load, anyway. I was in and out in less than an hour.

The day couldn't have been nicer, especially compared to yesterday's deluge. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the clouds were tiny puffs, and the breeze felt wonderful. While there's a few dry patches in areas that get unrelenting sun, most of the grass and trees are still green, far more than normally for this time of year. Gardens are flourishing; the flowers not only haven't wilted, but look stunning in shades of flame red, sunset orange, sun yellow, and pale lavender. While the community pool was surprisingly quiet for a nice day (everyone must have been eating lunch), there were quite a few people out doing their yards and cleaning up from the mess left by flood waters.

I ran Buck Privates as I made Blueberry Corn Muffins for lunch, using a recipe that requires fruit concentrate instead of sugar. Comedy duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello became one of Universal's most popular attractions in this 1940 vehicle. The duo are con men who join the army to avoid being arrested...only for the cop who was after them (Nat Pendleton) to end up being their superior officer. Meanwhile, a playboy (Lee Bowman) and his former chauffeur (Alan Curtis) go after a pretty female officer (radio singer Jane Frazee). The company cook (Shemp Howard) has to deal with Lou on KP, while the Andrews Sisters are mainly around for some memorable background numbers.

Actually, this is probably best-known today for introducing the Andrews Sisters standard "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" and their hit rendition of "I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time." At the time, it was the blockbuster smash that launched Abbott and Costello as Universal's top non-horror box office draws, prompting two more Armed Services comedies featuring the two and a direct sequel, Buck Privates Come Home. For fans of those two, the Andrews Sisters, or the swing music of the late 30s and 40s.

I did some work on the computer, then headed to the Acme, still enjoying the late-day sunshine. Everyone else must have been, too. We were steady through rush hour. Things quickly died after about 7. It was so quiet by 10PM, I was able to leave with no relief.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Get Happy On a Rainy Day

I pre-empted the Beatles this morning in favor of more Judy Garland. Started the day off with For Me and My Gal. This rousing World War II-era musical was the only one of the four films on the set I'd seen straight through before (in college, to be exact). (It's also the only black-and-white film on the set.) Kelly's debut film has him and Garland as vaudevillians in the years just prior to and during World War I. Charming Kelly does his best to get Garland out of her former partner George Murphy's act and into his act...and his arms. Their romance develops as their careers do. When Kelly is drafted to head over to France, he takes drastic measures to make sure he can continue his act...which doesn't put him over well with Garland. While she sings to all those swell doughboys in France, he does what he can to restore his name and prove that he can be as patriotic as anyone.

I've always liked this one. Busby Berkley directed this charming excursion into Americana. It gets melodramatic towards the end, when the war tears Garland and Kelly apart, but before that, it's mostly an enjoyable ride. Garland glows in her first adult role. Kelly's slightly stiffer in his first film, but shows enough of the charm that would make him one of the most popular musical stars of the late 40s and early 50s. Great fun for fans of Kelly, Garland, Murphy, Berkley, or the real World War I era.

Called Mom while the first half of the movie was on. She sounded a little tired, but happy. I told her about the long ride to Stockton and how it all worked out in the end, about what I intend to do next, and all the hours I've gotten lately. She mentioned that she's hoping to get a new computer soon. Her current one goes back almost as far as my old laptop, and she's afraid it's on the verge of crashing.

I headed to work around 1. At that point, it was just cloudy, cool, and very, very humid. It was also very busy when I arrived. We had long lines for most of the afternoon...until around quarter of 4-4PM, when suddenly, it started raining. Hard. Very hard. And kept on raining and thundering, even after I got out.

I was hoping it would pass quickly, but no dice. Not this time. I finally got tired of waiting around 5:30 and called Dad for a ride. He couldn't get there, either. His car was in the shop. Not to mention, the other reason I waited a half-hour after work to call him was all the roads were flooded. There were police barricades around the Black Horse Pike near the entrance to Audubon Park, due to the flooding.

Dad finally picked me up in Jodie's truck around 10 after 6. I felt horrible about making him go out in such nasty weather, especially on his birthday, but I really had no other way of getting home. Despite the traffic, we were able to get down a busy Nicholson Road and onto Manor. While the section of West Clinton that goes under the train tracks were under water, Manor was perfectly fine. I got home with no more problems. (I just hope he did. He had to go around Manor to the White Horse Pike. Atlantic Avenue was flooded, too.)

When I got in, I had leftover chicken, rice, and Cucumber Salad for dinner while watching the remaining movie in the set, Summer Stock. Garland's last movie at MGM reunites her with Kelly for an adult variation on her old "let's put on a musical in a barn" vehicles. Garland owns the barn in question, which is on a New England farm that's heavily in debt. The owner's ditzy younger sister (Gloria De Haven) wants to be an actress, and insists on her current boyfriend, a stage director and performer (Kelly) using the barn for their show. Garland's not thrilled. Her nerdy fiancee (Eddie Bracken) and long-time housekeeper (Marjorie Main) are even less so. When Kelly gets Garland swinging at a local dance, she begins to rethink her stance towards show business...and he rethinks his stance towards her.

Like The Band Wagon, this seemingly light entertainment ran into major trouble on the road to filming. Intended as a reunion between Garland and her old pal Mickey Rooney, MGM turned the male role over to Kelly when Rooney was assumed to no longer be enough of a star. Garland had just been fired from Annie Get Your Gun, and while she dried out enough to enjoy the initial filming, she had problems all through the shoot. It's amazing the movie came out as well as it did. "Get Happy" is probably the best known number, but there's some other nice ones too, including Kelly's dance with a squeaky floor and a newspaper and Garland's lovely rendition of "Evening Star." Once again, for fans of Garland, Kelly, or MGM musicals.

Oh, and while the rain sounds like it's off at the moment, it's been off and on - sometimes heavily - since I put on Summer Stock.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer Harvest

Began a sunny, warmer day with this week's American Top 40 re-run. Casey hopped back a year to 1981, as country, pop, New Wave, and the last vestiges of disco ruled the airwaves. Hits that week included "Boy From New York City" by the Manhattan Transfer, "No Getttin' Over Me" by Ronnie Milsap, "Believe It Or Not (Theme From Greatest American Hero)" by Joey Scarbury, "The One That You Love" by Air Supply, and "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes. Air Supply was joined at the top of the chart that week by fellow Aussie Rick Springfield's biggest success on this side of the Pacific, "Jesse's Girl."

I had to work at 11AM, so my farm market run was a quickie. Despite the brighter and more humid weather, people were out in force for the height of the summer harvests. Melons and hot peppers debuted today, but most of them were too big or too spicy for me to haul home. I settled on peaches, blueberries, sugar plums, long Chinese beans, two plump tomatoes, and a small cucumber.

I ran the last Little Einsteins episode on the DVD while I got organized when I arrived at the apartment. Princess Bassoon of the court orchestra has been put to sleep by a grumpy wizard. It's up to the kids to travel to Denmark and through an enchanted forest and dodge the wizard in their Rocket Viking Ship, so Quincy can play his trumpet and awaken the orchestra!

It was still warm and humid (though not as bad as last week) when I headed to work. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - on and off busy, if a bit less off than on. With the weather gorgeous this week and likely to stay that way next week, many people are probably either going to or coming from vacation. Once again, there were no major problems, and I was able to shut down with no relief.

I picked up a few things I forgot or wasn't able to get at the Westmont Acme yesterday (including the brown rice and Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter - the Westmont Acme was out, and it's on a very rare sale this week), then headed home. I put on another Judy Garland vehicle, In the Good Old Summertime, after I changed into my regular clothes.

This time, Garland is joined by boyish Van Johnson for the second film version and first musical version of the Hungarian play Parfumerie. Originally done by MGM as the non-musical Lubistch-directed The Shop Around the Corner, the 1949 edition moves the story to a music shop in turn-of-the-century Chicago. Garland and Johnson are salespeople in the shop who hate each other, but have no idea they're the authors of the romantic pen pal letters they've been sending each other for months. S.K Sakall is their violin-playing boss. Marcia Van Dyke is Johnson's violinist friend. Spring Byington is Sakall's girl Friday and long-time sweetheart. Buster Keaton, as Sakall's nephew, is among the other employees.

This is, amazingly enough, my first time enjoying this story. I've never seen The Shop Around the Corner or it's 90s update You've Got Mail, nor have I heard the 1963 Broadway musical She Loves Me except for in snatches on "The Dress Circle." I do know that, despite only sort-of being a musical (except for two Garland numbers at a party towards the end and one Christmas number, most of the songs are performed in the shop for customers and hardly advance the plot), this is a very sweet and beautifully-made film. Garland looks ravishing in Technicolor, swaying around in the long gowns and huge flowered hats. Johnson's having his own good time playing a rake who learns to see the light. Oh, and look for a very, very young Liza Minnelli playing (what else?) Garland's daughter in the finale. Very cute movie; recommended for fans of Garland, Keaton, or the big MGM Technicolor musicals of the 40s and 50s.

Switched to The Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That! as I made Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip for dinner. School, the seasons, and making changes are the theme as Sally, Nick, and the Cat explore what makes each season special and discover how distinctive eyes or fur can help animals in their environments. The hair one was especially funny; I loved the kids and the Cat likening the Yak's long, wooly coat to a rock star's coiffure.

And I have a pretty decent schedule next week for this time of year. A late night on Monday is the only complaint; otherwise, Tuesday and Thursday off and afternoon hours all week.

Friday, July 26, 2013

In the Good Old Summertime

After my long trip yesterday, I spent most of the morning sleeping in. When I finally did make it out around 11:30, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. The sky was brilliant blue, without a hint of haze. The breeze was soft. The clouds were large, but not threatening. It was warm, probably into the lower-mid 80s, but without the humidity that made last week so unbearable.

Since I was out of town all day yesterday, I had a lot to do today. First on the list was volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. They were in the midst of their Lego Club for kids. I dodged little ones playing games on the computer and building elaborate skyscrapers and spaceships with Legos and shelved kids' books. The Oaklyn Library has a more random assortment of DVDs than Haddon Township, probably due to their relying heavily on donations. They'd apparently just gotten in a Universal 100th Anniversary set honoring classic comedies. (The set was so new, someone forgot to take the plastic off!) Actually, the movies were really two Universal comedies (the Abbott and Costello vehicle Buck Privates and the screwball favorite My Man Godfrey) and two Paramount comedies now owned by Universal (Duck Soup and Road to Morocco). They also had two TCM collections featuring Judy Garland. I went with the solo set that included The Harvey Girls, For Me and My Gal, In the Good Old Summertime, and Summer Stock.

I rode straight over to the Haddon Township Library after leaving Oaklyn. They were just as busy with people coming out of lunch and into the library to pick up movies and books. I organized the kids' and adult DVDs, clearing titles in the wrong place from both sets of shelves. I went with two sets of cartoons from some old favorites of mine, the most recent adventures for Litttle Einsteins and The Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That. Also found a cookbook that featured recipes that exclusively used such New Jersey produce as corn, tomatoes, peaches, and blueberries.

Had lunch at the Crystal Lake Diner, which is on the cliff side under the Haddon Township Library. I didn't have a lot of money after my trip and limited it to fruit salad, scrambled eggs, and whole wheat toast. It was 2:30 by that point, and except for two other elderly folks enjoying quiet late lunches, the Diner was deserted.

My next stop was the Westmont Acme for a very small grocery shopping trip. I normally shop at the Audubon Acme because I work there, but I didn't feel like swinging half-way across the area. The Westmont Acme is a somewhat smaller store in the same shopping center that once had the now-empty Dollar General. While they do have some things I can't find in Audubon (notably the Pilsbury Quick Bread mixes) and their service is very friendly, they were missing other things that I needed (like Acme's cheap small bag of brown rice), and their prices aren't as good. I bought canned low-salt tomato sauce (to replace what I used last week), whole wheat flour, salmon packs (the Acme didn't have them last week), butter, and things to make a pudding pie for Dad. I didn't really need cheese, but the Acme was having a great sale; got an 8 ounce block of Sharp Cheddar for $1.49.

I rode home through a busy and gorgeous Newton River Park. An elderly couple walked their cute, small, fuzzy dog. A mother bounced her tiny baby on her knee. Mother and son passed by me on bikes. A dad and his daughter and son fished on the bridge between the Haddon Township and Oaklyn sections of the park. Canadian geese poked around for a snack and stayed out of harm's way.

Spent the rest of the afternoon inside, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to do my first baking in ages. I made Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Softbake Cookies and Peach Crisp (the latter from the Garden State cookbook). Ran The Harvey Girls as I baked. Garland plays a young woman from Ohio who is looking for adventure and answers an ad for a mail order bride in New Mexico. Her prospective groom (Chill Willis) turns out to be a sweet but grizzled older cowboy who doesn't know what to make of her. They break off things amiably, and Garland joins the clean-scrubbed waitresses for the Harvey House, a chain of restaurants that popped up along with the railroads in small western towns. The saloon across the street isn't crazy about the competition, including it's owner (John Hodiak) and lead singer (Angela Landsbury). Who will ultimately win the rivalry for the town's best eatery...and to tame the west?

I saw part of this on TCM in college; tried to tape it then, but the tape got cut off. Though she's surrounded by a good supporting cast (including Ray Bolger, who gets a great solo in the "Swing Your Partner" number), this is Garland's show, and she runs with it. My favorite part is Garland's attempt to get the steaks swiped from the Harvey House back by "holding up" the saloon. The cat fight that erupts between Landbury's girls and the waitresses is also worth watching. There's the epic opening number, too - "On the Atcheson, Topeka, and the Santa Fe" won an Oscar for a reason.

Two big problems slow this one down. First of all, Hodiak isn't much of a musical leading man. He's stiff and dull next to a luminous Garland. (It doesn't help that MGM cut their only duet, "My Intuition.") Second, Landsbury is really too sympathetic to be seen as a villain or a threat to Garland, no matter how much MGM tries to play up her bad-girl side.

If you're a Garland fan, jump right in - this is one of her best solo vehicles. Fans of Landsbury or big MGM musicals may want to give this one a watch on TCM before they buy.

Switched to the Little Einsteins as I made Chicken in Orange-Marsala Sauce and Cucumber-Tomato Salad for dinner. The quartet take some unusual adventures, one of which has them shrunk and chasing after part of the machine that got them that way. Another gives their vehicle Rocket the powers of various bugs as they search for the house for their creepy-crawly friends that's been blown away by the Big Bad Wolf. My favorite episodes had musician Quincy and the others rescuing a baby "Piccalo-dactyl" from an exploding Andy Warhol volcano.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So This Is Stockton

I am so tired. I had a very long day that began at 9AM, when I headed for Collingswood to pick up the PATCO to Lindenwauld, where I would pick up the train to Atlantic City. I missed it by one second. The train was just pulling out as I puffed upstairs.

I knew I'd never make the 9:37 train to Atlantic City, and the next one wouldn't leave until noon. I wouldn't be able to spend time shopping, but I would make it to Stockton. I remembered the 554 bus from Lindenwauld to Atlantic City stops on the corner of the White Horse Pike and Pomona Road, which is also a stop for the (only) bus to Stockton. I took that bus when I went to The Nutcracker at Stockton with my friend Amanda in December 2008. It also came in handy for Lauren and me when the train had to be abandoned and we ended up taking the bus to Atlantic City in June 2010.

Thankfully, unlike in 2008, I remembered to get off at the right stop. There really isn't much at Pomona Road - a small pizzeria, a Chinese restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a massage therapy office, Pomona's post office, a bank (now Wells Fargo), a groceria, a very charming little old-fashioned pharmacy/convenience store. I have especially fond memories of the groceria. I used to make short shopping trips there when I lived in the Housing IV apartments at Stockton. Their prices aren't great and their produce is lousy, but they're closer than the Shop Rite in Absecon.

I considered taking a bus to the Hamilton Mall, which is about 15 minutes from Pomona Road, but the bus was so late, I finally just went across the street. (And of course, as soon as I did, I saw the bus come.) I ultimately just took a 2PM bus to Stockton and arrived there early.

I'm really glad I did. So much has changed there since my visit with Amanda in 2008. As I wandered across the main buildings, I noticed many additional lounge areas and heavily revised offices and classrooms. The old swimming pool near the theater had been filled in and turned into an art gallery. The theater had a new box office. The little quick-service food booth between A and B Wings was an Au Bon Pain. The newspaper and radio stations that were in G Wing were gone all together, replaced by more offices. The second cafeteria was a smaller coffee shop.

I assumed the Career Center was still in the same offices as the Counseling Services, as they were in 2008. Counseling Services told me otherwise when I arrived there. It seems that the Career Center, along with Financial Aid, the newspaper office, the radio and TV stations, the campus bookstore, and a food court, moved to the brand-new Campus Center building two years ago. Thankfully, it was only a few minutes from J-Wing. Even with all the confusion, travel problems, and fuss, I still found the Career Center with 10 minutes to spare.

Dayna, my counselor, was very helpful. She said she was very impressed with my resume and how organized I was (I brought along the list of job ideas I made a few years ago, along with the personality tests I took online for Mrs. Stahl in February, in addition to my resume), and what I need to do now is go through job openings for companies that interest me - libraries, publishing, media - and see what job descriptions there are. She said I need to focus on just beginning and not jumping ahead and worrying about things like interviews and relocating that comes later. I need to figure out what jobs I'm really interested in and how to tailor my resume to a specific job before I can go after that job. I was happy to hear that my resume was well-written and that I had plenty of experience. It was just a tad too long, and not tailored to specific fields well enough. I told her I'd work on looking up job descriptions and would e-mail her next week.

I had enough time to explore Stockton's changes a bit before heading home. The Campus Center is amazing. All of the group offices that were once squashed into the second floor F, G, and N Wings are now here, including Stockton's student newspaper Argo, the TV station SSTV, the Student Senate, and the Events office, along with Financial Aid, the Career Center, and an expanded Bookstore. There's a beautiful lobby with a massive fireplace (unlit at this time of the year, but still impressive) and a large Duncan Donuts and food court.

Wandered across Lake Fred to the apartments. Lake Fred was as beautiful as ever. The pathway going across the lake had been widened. The old causeway was now a lovely bridge. Housing I, the oldest student apartments on campus, had been remodeled. The Housing I Student Center was now more rustically known as The Lodge at Lakeside. While Housing IV (where I lived in 2000 and 2001; it opened in 1999) looked pretty much the same, there was now a series of smaller apartments in what had once been parking lots and an empty grassy area where students used to sunbathe and play ball games.

I dashed back around Lake Fred to catch the 5:04 bus to Pomona. I needn't have hurried. It was late again. It didn't arrive until 5:15. That was the worst thing that happened going home. Once I got to Pomona, things went more smoothly. The bus to Lindenwauld arrived on time (although I did get scolded for standing on the wrong part of the road); the PATCO to Collingswood came and went with no problems. I was so tired when I got in, I just stopped at WaWa and bought a quesadilla for dinner going home.

In addition to Dayna's advice, I learned a few things about making business trips. First of all, from now on, no more mixing business with pleasure. When I'm making a long trip for a business purpose or some kind of an appointment, the appointment comes first. I probably could have left a lot later than I did and saved me time and money if I hadn't wanted to get time at Atlantic City or Hamilton Mall in, too.

Second, always have a back-up plan. I'm glad I remembered about the 554 going past Pomona. The NJ Transit train schedules are so darn erratic, there are times when it might actually be easier to just bite the bullet and take the bus to Atlantic City. (And some places, like Atco and Pomona, where you don't have much choice in the matter.)

Third, always be prepared. While I was ready for my appointment and my bus ride, I neglected to prepare for the weather. It was cloudy, dry, and very cool all day, probably no warmer than the lower-mid 70s. That did make for a much nicer trip, but I didn't bring a sweater or coat because I didn't want to carry it around. I probably would have been wearing it instead; I spent the day freezing. From now on, I'll bring some kind of light covering, even on hot days (buses and other public buildings and transportation are notoriously over-air-conditioned).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Traveling Music

I spent most of the morning quietly adding music to my iPod. You can tell how long it's been since I went anywhere beyond Camden County. Most of what was on there were Christmas albums. I added at least five CDs (mostly musicals) this morning, and will be doing more tonight.

Work was slightly busier than yesterday, otherwise, it was pretty much the same - boring. The slow stretches were alleviated somewhat by the Acme being in the midst of major cleaning again. I was moved twice as the managers and baggers cleaned under and around registers. Thankfully, the teenage boy who was my relief was on time. I was able to get out with no problems.

When I got home, I ran another Lois & Clark episode while eating flounder in lemon-wine sauce with mushrooms, onions, and green beans for dinner. Earlier in the first season, Clark found a glowing ball in the ship that brought him to Earth. In "Foundling," he ball projects a hologram of his father, explaining about his past. Clark's thrilled when the ball says it'll reveal more later...but then the ball is stolen by a thief. A nervous Clark tracks the ball and the boy who stole it, while Lois tries to figure out why Clark lied to her about what was taken from his apartment....and Lex Luthor tries to determine who Superman really is, thanks to the ball he purchased.

It was a really beautiful evening. I was surprised when I got out of work to discover that it wasn't hot at all anymore. It was still a little humid, but the heat had been replaced by a soft breeze, some clouds, and temperatures in a far more normal lower 80s. I had a nice, quick little ride to WaWa for milk. Treated myself to a Good Humor ice cream bar, too. Desserts based around birthday cake has been all the rage for the past year or so. Good Humor's version had vanilla ice cream around what tasted like a "cake" icing center, coated with colorful "cake crunch" bits. I finished it (Good Humor bars aren't that big), but I don't think I'll get it again. Too sweet for my blood.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cowabunga Stockton

I slept in this morning, finishing You Call It Madness. Technically a biography of Russ Columbo and the younger years of his  early 30s crooning competitors Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee, this ambitious and lengthy novel brings to life not only those three singers, but the world of the late 20s and early 30s - smoky nightclubs, sassy Broadway shows, the new world of jazz, silents giving way to talkies. Though I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the rat-tat-tat writing, it tried to cram too much information into one novel and way too plot. All three of these men have had more straightforward biographies written on them; try one of those first before you head here, and only come here if you love the era or like atmosphere with your biography.

I had just enough time before work to call Stockton College and set up an appointment with their Career Center on Thursday at 3:30. They'll look at my resume and hopefully give me some ideas as to what direction to take next. I really have no idea. It seems like every avenue I've taken towards getting a job has ended at yet another brick wall. The trip will take a while - a PATCO train, then the NJ Transit train from Lindenwauld, then a longer bus ride from Atlantic City to Stockton's campus in the Jersey Pinelands - but it'll be worth it.

Work was...very boring. It was dead for most of the afternoon. There was some rain early on, but it vanished quickly, and the rest of the day alternated between cloudy and sunny and humid but not nearly as hot as last week. It did pick up during the usual 4 to 6 rush hour, but not enough for me have problems leaving without a relief.

When I got home, I made leftover Chicken Parmesan and veggies for dinner while finishing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 4 disc. Casey Jones, the hockey mask-wearing vigilante, was a popular character in the movies and the later 2003 show, but he made scant few appearances in the 80s incarnation, the first being "Casey Jones - Outlaw Hero." Baxter Stockman emerges to get his revenge on the Turtles and Shredder and Krang for allowing him to transform into an insect in "Return of the Fly." Donatello has to deal with his three besotted brothers, who fell for Irma after ingesting a love potion in "Green With Jealousy." And the westerns-obsessed Turtles find themselves dealing with the world's biggest bull when spilled chemicals cause a steer to turn into a "Mutagen Monster."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Audubon In the Morning

Today was my very early 8AM work day. I only got an early shift at all because a lot of the regular employees went on vacation this week. I was dead tired for most of it. While it was nice to be able to get out at 2PM, I'm just not used to working in the morning. I wouldn't mind it if they'd let me do it more consistently. In fact, that's what I want - a consistent, regular schedule that's more-or-less the same every week. It's hard to plan anything when you're working at night one day, early in the morning the next, in the middle of the afternoon next week. At the very least, we weren't really that busy, and my relief, one of the recently-hired teenage boys, showed up ahead of schedule.

I was so tired, when I got home, I spent the next hour and a half reading the Jeanette MacDonald biography I got on and not doing much else. I took a look at Stockton College's web page and came to the conclusion that I was too tired to try to talk to them today. I decided to at least try to get my laundry done instead.

I didn't get to the laundromat until around 6:30. I was surprised at how busy it was. I figured most people would be eating dinner. I did get a washer and a drier, but I was ducking around a lot of people to do it. They must have all been avoiding the weather. Though it was sunny when I arrived, by the time I was strolling home with my small load, dark clouds were gathering in the distance. It did rain shortly after I got in, but we haven't had a thunderstorm at press time.

Ran a few more 80s Turtles episodes as I had potato-crusted cod, mashed potatoes, and a salad with cucumbers for dinner. Two tales of very strange alien invasions mark some of the weirdest stories of any Turtles series. Donatello gets "beamed up" by a group of aliens, much to the delight of April O'Neil, who is desperate for a story, in "Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers." "Camera Bugged" is even odder. An alien tourist has a camera that pulls the objects he takes photos of into the lens. Shredder wants the camera badly...but not if the Turtles can get there first!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer of Heroic Love

Started a late morning with Peach-Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Brunch With the Beatles. The psychedelic "Summer of Love" in 1967 was in the spotlight today. They mostly played songs from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. A smattering of singles released around the time like "Penny Lane" and "All You Need Is Love," the latter written for a live show broadcast around the world, were mixed in.

Called Mom around 11:30. For once, I got her right away. Skylar was playing games in the living room; she'd just come from working in her garden. We discussed the hot weather, how neither of us like to mow the lawn, and the boredom I felt yesterday. She says yes, talk to Stockton...but try to connect with other people more. She's not really good at connecting, either. She also prefers to work alone (one of the reasons she quit Michael's a few years ago), and like me, she spends much of her time alone and doesn't get out much.

I just don't know how to connect with people my age. The few people I met around here who were anything like my age and lifestyle seem to have disappeared, likely to other parts of the US or world that are more open to young singles. I don't feel like I fit in here. If there are so many people having the same problems I am, why don't I see them? Where do they rent books? Where do they grocery shop? Where do they eat lunch? The only people I see who are my age are either married or have kids or both.

I'm going to look for more opportunities to volunteer. Studio LuLoo on West Clinton next-door to Leo's Yum-Yums is the closest thing to a recreation center in any of the local towns. They do art, yoga, and music programs for adults and kids, and they do accept volunteers. I'll try talking to them tomorrow or sometime this week. I'll try to do yoga at home again, too. It's too hot for me to run off to Yogawood, and I kind of lost interest in them once Karin left and the newer teachers either weren't as fun or were too hard for my (low) level. It's a pain in the rear end to have to change into workout clothes and run all the way there and all the way back, too.

I finally let go of Mom and headed to work around noon. Work was steady throughout the day, not too crazy or quiet. It was apparently busy early in the day, but by 12:30, it had slowed to something more manageable. I guess everyone must have either come back from their vacations or left for them in the morning. I was in and out with no problems.

When I got home, I made Brown Rice with Mushrooms and leftover Chicken Parmesan for dinner. Ran two CDs that related to both Lois & Clark and last night's Let Freedom Ring as I cooked. The Scarlet Pimpernel has long been my favorite book. In 1998, the musical version debuted on Broadway, with Douglas Sills as the dashing title character, Christine Andreas as his lady fair, and Terrance Mann as the dastardly Chauvelain. Frank Wildhorn's show wasn't popular with critics (none of his shows are, for some reason), and it's been heavily revised so many times, there's at least two other versions out there on CD. This is the original, and it's long been a favorite of mine, with gorgeous numbers like Chauvelain's "Where's the Girl?" and the rousing "Into the Fire" for Sills and his men. If you love this story, the original is the only one you need.

There's more options for what's more-or-less the same story in North Africa, The Desert Song. I have two studio versions, one on CD with Kitty Carlisle and Wilbur Evans, and one on LP with Dorothy Kirsten and Gordon MacRae. Neither have anything resembling the complete score (the CD one is bundled with a Decca studio recording of New Moon), but of the two, the Decca Evans/Carlisle is a bit more dynamic and gives you slightly more idea of what this romantic show is all about. (I've seen a TV version with Nelson Eddy on DVD out there as well.)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Winds of Change

I began a cloudy, somewhat cooler morning with this week's American Top 40 re-run. Casey hopped ahead two years to 1982. As my sister and I were dealing with a new dad, the rest of the US turned to pop, hard rock, and R&B to distract them from the year's recession and grim world news. Hits that mid-July included "Don't You Want Me?" by The Human League, "Hurts So Good" by John Cougar (Melloncamp), "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago, "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, "Abracadabra" by the Steve Miller Band, and "Only the Lonely" by the Motels. The top song that week came directly from one of the summer's most popular films - "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, from Rocky III.

I took a little more time than usual to get to the farm market. Ran a couple of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons from the original 80s show as I finished my eggs, toast, and blueberries with sweetened cream. The Turtles go after "The Ninja Sword From Nowhere," which allows its owner to travel through dimensions, in order to keep Shredder from handing it over to Krang. For once, it's Krang's idea that causes the trouble in "20,000 Leaks Under the City." He wants to pump water into the sewers to flood out the Turtles. While he does succeed in doing that, he also manages to flood all of New York...and the Technidrome, too.

Much to my surprise, I saw a yard sale and a sign for another on my way to the Farm Market. I hadn't expected anything today, given the weather we were supposed to have. The one at Newton Avenue had a few hutches for sale, but the larger one didn't have enough shelves, and the smaller one was a too-small corner model with a triangle-shaped drawer that my silverware holder wouldn't fit into.

The Farm Market was busy, though not quite as bad as usual. The cherries and raspberries are gone, replaced by eggplants, melons, beans, plums, summer squash, small red and gold potatoes, and the first tart yellow apples of the season. I made my way through the crowds long enough to buy two small cucumbers, a tomato, peaches, blueberries, the yellow apples, a green pepper, brown mushrooms, and a small lavender-striped eggplant. I rode down to CVS to pick up brush picks, Palmolive dish liquid on sale, and a bottle of water.

Stopped by another sale on my way home. This one was a moving sale that was actually being held in someone's house down the street from me, on the other side of Manor Avenue near the Oaklyn Manor Bar. They had a lot of books, but nothing that I absolutely needed. I moved on.

Headed home for a few more cartoons and a Peanut Butter and Orange Marmalade Sandwich and a farm-market fresh apple for lunch. I messed around online briefly, then headed to Dad's for swim. The woman who rents the apartment attached to Dad's house was in the pool when I arrived; she got out shortly after I got in. No wonder. The water was so amazingly warm, I felt cooler outside of it! The thermometer said it was just above 90 degrees. That's crazy. I swam for about a half-hour, then read You Call It Madness for another half-hour, sunning on the deck.

Chatted with Dad after I got too hot to be on the deck. Dad told me that he and Jodie got temporary jobs as hosts for a local winery. They both love collecting wines! It's not a great job, but it's something to do. I wish I could at least do something I enjoy...but as Dad reminds me, I'm doing something that earns me health insurance and money. Can't I find a job that I enjoy and earns money and makes me health insurance?

I wasn't in a good mood when I left Dad's. I'm bored, and I'm frustrated. I'm tired of the Acme and tired of not knowing what to do with myself. It had gotten sunny while I was at Dad's, but by the time I was home again, the clouds and wind were once again out. I decided I was tired of being at home. I got back on the bike and went for a ride.

I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm just feeling ennui, I guess. I'm so sick of the Acme job. I wish I knew what I wanted to do. I like to write and read, cook, watch movies, go for bike rides and walks. Isn't there anything I can do with that? I really don't know. I don't know what I love passionately enough to do for a living. I have interests, but no true passions. I don't know what I can do with my talents, or what's available for me. Everyone keeps telling me not to change, not to leave, not to do anything...but if I don't do something, I'm going to go crazy. I just don't know what.

I rode all around Oaklyn, stopping briefly at Duncan Donuts for a Vanilla Bean Coolatta. I was hoping to see other single 30-somethings like me riding around, or find a place where they go after work to hang out. I gave up and rode to Haddon Avenue, riding past Sorrento's Pizza, all the way down to the busy Black Horse Pike, then back to Kendall Boulevard.

When I got home, I cheered myself up with Chicken Parmesan with mushrooms and leftover broccoli for dinner while watching Let Freedom Ring. Nelson Eddy's only vehicle to himself with no female partner at MGM was a rousing Western variation on The Scarlet Pimpernel. Lawyer Steve Logan (Eddy) returns home to find an unscrupulous railroad tycoon (Edward Arnold) threatening his father (Lionel Barrymore) into giving up their land. He pretends to go along with Arnold, but secretly becomes "The Wasp" and prints newspapers that speak out against the railroad. When matters come to a head at the local Election Day party, Steve finally has to take a real stand...before Arnold's head worker (Victor MacLaglen) stops his presses for good.

A chance to ogle Eddy out of his usual uniforms was only half the reason I bought this one. I loved the Superman-esque story of a guy who's been out of the loop who goes underground to do what he thinks is right. It does get very preachy about the rights of Americans to do what they wish at times, and Nelson's songs feel shoehorned into what is otherwise a fairly tight story. Look around for it at the Warner Archives if you love Zorro/Pimpernel tales, Eddy, or unusual westerns.

Oh, and the rain everyone's waited for all day did finally show up...around 8PM, by which time I'd just gotten out of the shower and was long online.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Turn On the Heat

Ugh. Yes, the heat wave continues, though there's supposed to be relief on the horizon, starting late tomorrow. For now, I cranked the air conditioner. Finished American Graffiti during breakfast this morning, then did more Lois & Clark. The staff of the Daily Planet are held hostage by a gangster looking for the money of a 20s racketeer that was hidden somewhere in the building. While Clark tries to figure out how he can save the others without them seeing him leave, the rest of the staff imagine themselves as the racketeer, his moll, and the rest of his club patrons.

I had work at 11AM. It was pretty much the same as yesterday, off-and-on steady, with some really dead patches. I have the feeling most people are probably going to head either to the Poconos or the Jersey Shore as soon as possible this weekend. This time, it slowed down enough by the end of my shift to leave without a relief.

Good thing, as I had some shopping of my own to do. The Acme was having a 40% off sale on Purdue chicken and its own label. I bought both thin and thick breasts, along with more canned chicken for quick meals like last night's salad. Restocked tuna, baking cocoa (Hershey's now has a "Special Dark" cocoa), orange juice concentrate, buttermilk, yogurt, and peanut butter. Sponges were buy one, get one, so I grabbed two 3-packs.

The big order I put in a few days ago was waiting for me when I got home. I changed into cooler regular clothes, then ran The Merry Widow, one of two Warners Archive movies I've wanted for a few months now. MGM imported Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier, and Ernst Lubitsch from Paramount to add wit and sparkle to their remake of the beloved 1903 operetta. MacDonald is Sonia, a widow in tiny European country Marshovia who is tired of mourning. She finally opts to move to Paris and have a little fun, which prompts panic among the country's citizens, especially the King (George Barbier) and his flighty Queen (Una Merkel). Sonia owns more than half the country, and the King fears that if she marries outside the borders, they'll lose her money and go broke. He sends the notorious womanizer Captain Danilo (Maurice Chevalier) to woo her back.

The last of the Chevalier-MacDonald-Lubitsch operettas benefits from MGM's high-gloss production, some enjoyable songs (with lyrics by Lorenz Hart), and a great "Merry Widow Waltz" dance sequence at the ball. MacDonald in particular relishes her turn as a woman who discovers life outside her country's borders. It's finally out in the Warner Archives; recommended for fans of The Merry Widow, MacDonald and/or Chevalier, and 30s musicals.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

California Cruisin' and Other Hot-Weather Tales

Started another hot, humid day with more Lois & Clark. This time, Clark discovers that he's somehow in two places at once when another guy in a Superman suit appears and does good in Europe...when he's at the Daily Planet. He's determined to find out who this impostor is, what he's up to, and what Lex Luthor has to do with it in "Vatman."

Headed for work around quarter of 12. It was already hot as heck, even worse than yesterday, and steamier than a Turkish bath. Today was supposed to have been the height of the heat wave, and that definitely and understandably effected our business. We were on-and-off steady for the entire afternoon, even during the usual rush hours, and were never more than mildly busy. The worst thing that happened was I had trouble with my last customer, one of those people who have more bill than money to pay it, and I was almost late leaving because I had to deal with her and my relief was late.

I stopped by Leo's Yum Yums on my way home. After what happened at work, I figured I needed a small Cotton Candy Yum-Yum (creamier, grittier water ice). I was originally going to walk down after work, but I decided it would probably be too busy once it cooled off. It wasn't busy at all when I arrived. I saw people buying pizzas at Phillies Phatties, but no one was in line for Leo's.

When I got home, I put on another Lois & Clark episode while changing into my regular clothes and getting the air conditioner going. Clark and Lois both have some unwelcome house guests in "The Ides of Metropolis." Clark's dealing with his father, who thinks his wife is having an affair. Lois finds herself rooming with a computer genius whom she's sure didn't kill the husband of his lover. And Jimmy Olsen is wondering why Perry White's suddenly wearing flashier suits and sporting a toupee.

Switched to American Graffiti while I made a Chicken and Berry Salad (canned chicken with blueberries, raspberries, and peaches on bibb lettuce, topped with the last of the Strawberry Vinaigrette). Four typical guys of the early 60s - the high school prom king (Ron Howard), an aspiring writer on his way to college (Richard Dreyfuss), their geek buddy (Charles Martin Smith), and an older greaser (Paul Le Mat) - have a fairly wild summer night and early morning "cruisin'" around town and listening to music on the radio. Smith picks up a tall, beautiful blond (Candy Clark), but loses the car he got her in. Howard has to decide whether or not to leave his girl (Cindy Williams), especially when she runs off with a cowboy-ish greaser (Harrison Ford). Le Mat gets stuck with a young teen (MacKenzie Phillips) for most of the night. Dreyfuss spends the night chasing a gorgeous blond he saw in a car (Suzanne Summers).

If you love plotless comedies with great music set in the recent past like Dazed and Confused and Pirate Radio, this one will be right up your alley. Many classic rock fans may own the soundtrack already (and if they don't, they should). This was George Lucas' breakthrough film, and it launched the careers of many of its cast members (or adult careers, in Howard's case), revived 50s and early 60s pop in the 70s, and made nostalgia a household word.

As I swept the porch a bit later, I noticed dark clouds on the horizon. Saw them on the way home from work, too. It's supposed to rain tomorrow or Saturday and finally break up the heat wave. Not a moment too soon, if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Super Hot

Ugh! It was so hot today. It was already hot when I was having breakfast around 10:30. I finished out The Thomas Crown Affair, then ran an episode of Lois & Clark. We're not the only ones dealing with a heat wave. Metropolis finds itself stuck in a freak heat wave in the middle of November in "The Man of Steel Bars." The citizens think Superman's powers are behind the heat! Superman - and Clark - will leave if Lois can't find who's really causing the city's meltdown.

Heat or no heat, my milk was out of date and had gone sour. I needed more. I headed off to WaWa around noon. Stopped at the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteer session there, since it was on my way. Needless to say, despite the air conditioning, it wasn't busy there. One woman was on the computer; otherwise, it was me and the librarian. I organized DVDs, shelved children's books, and gave the kids's section a go-over. 

I did finally make it to WaWa around quarter of 1. Much to my surprise, I ran into Rose there. She was on her way to a meeting at the law firm she works for during the day and was just about to buy an iced coffee. I'd just bought my skim milk and an Icee. 

When I got home, I made an omelet with broccoli, cheese, and mushrooms for lunch while running another Lois & Clark episode. In "Pheromone My Lovely," it's the staff of the Daily Planet that gets hot and bothered when they're doused with a perfume that makes humans lose their inhibitions. Jimmy chases a model. Cat chases the copy machine repair man. Perry White serenades the cleaning lady with Elvis tunes. Lois chases Clark...and Lex Luthor chases Lois! Clark has to make sense of all the romance while pursuing a chemist who is a former flame of Luthor's bent on revenge.

Work was on-and-off busy. We were short on help, mainly because a lot of it went on vacation this week. Thankfully, the off times were really off. I was able to get out at a decent time with the help of one of the new cashiers, a teenage boy who speaks fluent Spanish and was able to explain to a Hispanic family that we're out of eggs. (As with the milk on the 4th of July, the shipment was too late to be shelved.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tooth and Consequences

The first thing on the busy agenda today was my dental appointment at 10AM. I rode over to the Westmont Plaza around quarter after 9. The office was much larger than it looked from the outside, with a long hall filled with doors and alcoves that seemed to go on for miles. After I signed all the necessary papers, I followed a nurse to one of those doors. I took off my earrings while she took x-rays. I was surprised at how simple the procedure was for x-rays. No huge machines, like the one that did my foot. Just one small machine on either cheek, and then a last one that went all round my mouth and looked like something from a sci-fi movie where they scan your brain.

I waited another 10 minutes or so for the verdict. It wasn't good. Three cavities that needed to be filled and capped, one recessed tooth, two wisdom teeth that needed to come out, that damn molar that's been a problem for years still needed a root canal, and I had gum disease. Ironically, the periodontics (the capped teeth) would cost far more than the root canal (which mostly seems to be covered by the health insurance). I made an appointment for the periodontics on August 8th and got the basic cleaning done today. The dental hygienist gave me a really nice Oral-B toothbrush (along with travel-sized toothpaste and floss) and suggested I should use the electrical kind from now on that do a better job of cleaning teeth.

After a quick stop at Dollar Tree next-door for a bottle of water and a jar of raspberry preserves, I headed on to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session there. I got there at 11:30, which was probably a good thing. Another volunteer said there were "thousands" of kids at Storybook Hour today. Even long after Storybook Hour had ended, the library was still pretty busy. I had plenty of DVDs to organize and put away. For once, I found more adult titles in the kids' section than the other way around, and all the kids' DVDs fit fine.

I went straight to Haddonfield after leaving the library. They were surprisingly busy for such a hot day. I hit them on the tail end of the lunch hour. I originally wanted to have lunch at the Amino Juice and Burritos Bar, but they were so full, I didn't think I could squeeze in! I ended up grabbing a quick spinach, egg white, and cheese whole-wheat wrap at Starbucks instead.

My counseling appointment was at 2. I told her about the dental appointment and the recent family parties. I then gave her the list of jobs I was interested in looking into. They're all publishing or writing jobs, like editor, proofreader, book publisher or packager, desktop publisher, librarian, virtual assistant, and web content writer. Mrs. Stahl admitted that she doesn't really know much about how to get those jobs or where to begin. I don't, either. I'm not very good at talking to people, and I haven't had much luck with job hunting on and similar sites. What little I come up with from there always seems to want more experience than I have...but how can I get experience if I can't get hired?

Mrs. Stahl says a lot of it is pure social anxiety stemming from years of torment and negativity. I'm shy around people I don't know well. I can't talk to people my own age. Most of them are just so different from me. Mom said moving wouldn't be a good idea. I have a good apartment now, and I probably won't be able to get another one for a good price elsewhere. It's not something I'm going to do in the immediate future, but if I really can't meet anyone here, I might be better off trying somewhere else...or moving near the friends I do have.

Mrs. Stahl pretty much said to call Stockton and make an appointment with their alumni office or whomever can give me advice on finding jobs. I've been hoping to stay away from Stockton. I'm still very angry with them. They didn't help me find a job when I was going there. Nobody told me what I should do next, or where I should go, or what I should do with my skills and interests. My internship was interviewing Stockton students about 9/11 and how it impacted them for what was then Camden's PBS station. I turned it in, but never heard about it again. I don't know if they even ran it.

The thing is, I don't think anyone else will be able to help me. I don't know whom to talk to here, and the few writers I've tried to meet have been busy with other things. I'm so shy and scared! I get so nervous when I try to talk to people, and I hate making phone calls. Mrs. Stahl is right that I have to. I don't have a choice. I can't really think of anyone else who knows people in journalism and communications.

I rode home along Haddon Avenue, trying to ignore the blistering heat and humidity. Stopping at Primo's Water Ice helped. I bought a medium "margarita" (translation - sweet lime) water ice to cool my sweating body. I was originally going to eat it inside, but the Ice Box, the large room where they hold parties, was actually too cold! I ended up outside, in the shade under their overhang, sitting in a metal chair and table. The overhang kept everything relatively cool without it being too cold.

Went straight home through a surprisingly busy Newton River Park. I dodged joggers, a father and his son, daughter, and their beagle puppy, people out for a stroll, and lots of Canadian geese hiding in the shade. And yes, I took things slow, and stopped several times for sips from the water bottle I bought at Dollar Tree (which was warm as heck by then, but it was wet).

I went right in the bath when I got in. A cool bath felt so nice after running around all day! I'd considered going swimming at Dad's, but I just didn't feel like going anywhere else on the bike. I leaned back and read the book on careers I'd taken out of the library and You Call It Madness instead.

I cheered myself up with a real dinner. I defrosted one of the almond-crusted fish fillets I bought n Friday, steamed broccoli, sliced up tomatoes, and made mashed potatoes. Ran The Thomas Crown Affair while I ate and cooked. The 1999 remake of the 1969 film has Pierce Bronsonan as the title character, a bored billionaire who steals a priceless painting in broad daylight just for something to do. Rene Russo is the insurance claims investigator who is initially interested in finding the painting...but comes to find Thomas Crown awfully attractive, too.

I've never seen the original version, so I can't compare the two. I do know this is a stylish action caper with both leads having an awful lot of fun as they lead each other in as many circles as possible. Language and sexual situations makes this a movie for older teens and adults, but those who enjoy caper films, Bronsonan, or light action will want to take a look.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hot Day for Scoundrels

Started out a sunny, humid day with a laundry run. Or a laundry walk. It's too hot to run anywhere! It got into the lower 90s here today, and the heat is just supposed to get worse throughout the week. I pushed the cart to the laundromat around quarter of 10. The laundromat was steady, but not terribly busy. A lot of people may already have come out, or were planning to come out later in the evening. I read You Call It Madness and listened to Let's Make a Deal and several Eyewitness News warnings about the heat wave this week.

I had enough time when I got home to put my laundry away, listen to my The Bing Crosby Story LP set (which features many of Bing's earliest recordings, including several mentioned in You Call It Madness), and have a quick lunch before heading out to work. I did ride there. I know how to deal with hot weather - go slowly and bring water.

Work was steady all afternoon. It was only really busy during rush hour, and then probably because today is the end of a big weekend sale. There were a few cranky people (the heat may have been getting to them). Otherwise, I had no major problems, and the teen boy who was my relief was on time.

Went straight home after I finished. I changed into regular clothes and had leftovers for dinner while watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Michael Caine is a con artist in the French Riviera who enjoys the high life, thanks to the money he makes bilking beautiful tourists. When an American con man (Steve Martin) turns up and lands in jail, he bails him out. Martin wants to learn how to make money like he does, so Caine teaches him. It works all too well...and now, Martin is looking for money and a con of his own. They make a wager - whomever can clear out a naive soap company heiress (Glenn Headley) is the winner. The loser will leave town. They do whatever they can to take the sweet lady for a ride...but she may have a few surprises of her own to dish out.

Proof positive that bad guys really do have the most fun. What Caine and Martin do for a living may be far from honest, but they're both so charming and lovable that you root for them anyway. This is a colorful bit of fluff reminiscent of the Technicolor comedies of the 50s and 60s that were often set in Europe. A delightful must if you're a fan of Caine, Martin, director Frank Oz, or old-fashioned sophisticated comedy.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Presto Computer Magic

I began a hot, steamy day with records. I ran another one of my 20s CDs as I made Raspberry Orange Pancakes for breakfast. I did call Mom, but wasn't able to talk to her for very long. Mom was enjoying some rare free time. Dad took my nephews Skylar and Collyn out to the boardwalk, so she had the house to herself. I told her about the party yesterday and all the calling in.

Speaking of work, I worked fairly early for a Sunday, at noon. It was sweltering hot as I rode to the Acme, though a decent breeze helped make the heat somewhat easier to take. Work was very busy all afternoon. If people aren't having barbecues and family reunions, they're either coming home from the Shore, or getting ready to head down there. I was in and out with no major problems.

When I got home, I put the air conditioner on and got back into a cooler sundress. Since I was off earlier than usual, I decided to take advantage of the extra time to transfer my Microsoft Works files to text that can be opened in OpenOffice or Word Pad. I turned on the older Compaq laptop and went through my portable hard drives to see what had to be moved. Thankfully, not much, about 30 files all together. Took me an hour and a half to transfer everything that needed to be moved, mostly inventories, budgets, and a few stories. (I loved Works' spreadsheets and databases, but I wasn't a big fan of their word processor.)

I learned a really big lesson from all this. I need to try to be more on top of technology, especially software and apps. If I'd have known that Rough Draft and Works had been discontinued, I would have stopped using both and downloaded similar, still-updated programs years ago.

Spent the rest of the evening listening to records with music from the 20s and 30s and making Chicken Stir Fry and romaine salad for dinner. Nothing Thrills Half as Much as Fred Astaire collected the famous dancer's best-known songs from his vehicles with Ginger Rogers, the Rogers-less A Damsel In Distress, and Second Chorus from the early 40s. Fannie Brice and Helen Morgan covered another record. Brice's side included "My Man" (which I also have on my RCA/Victor 20s CD), "I'd Rather Be Blue," "Cooking Breakfast For the One I Love," and several comic numbers. Chanteuse Helen Morgan gets "Bill" and "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" from Show Boat and "What I Wouldn't Do For That Man" from Sweet Adeline, among others.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Party Time With the Family

It was cloudy when I got up this morning. The clouds were starting to break up as I read You Call It Madness and listened to the American Top 40 re-run. I would have been a year old in mid-July 1980, dealing with a new baby sister (Rose would have been four months old). While I don't remember these songs when they were new, Mom still often reminisces about that time. Hits that summer included "The Rose" by Bette Midler from the film of that title (one of the inspirations for Rose's name), "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc, "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, Carole King's version of "One Fine Day," the Spinners' medley of "Cupid" and "I've Loved You For a Long Time," "More Love" by Kim Carnes, "Against the Wind" by Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band, "Little Jeanie" by Elton John, and "I'm Alive" by the Electric Light Orchestra and "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John from the Xanadu soundtrack.

The number one hit that week took us live to one of Paul McCartney's biggest songs with Wings, "Coming Up."

For the first time in weeks, I got to explore yard sales and the farm market. The farm market was busy as usual, despite the heat and humidity. Chinese (long) beans and watermelon joined the summer harvest parade for the first time this year, and I found a booth that was still selling local cherries. I also picked up peaches, corn, blueberries, raspberries, and a small head of bibb lettuce.

I rode around for a while, looking for yard sales. I had no luck at the first one in Oaklyn, which was just selling knick-knacks and old videos that even I wasn't interested in. I picked up a DVD copy of the late 90s version of The Man In the Iron Mask with Leonard DiCaprio from a sale in Collingswood. Found a small wooden corner shelf at Newton Avenue a block from the Oaklyn Library on the way home. I put my rock-oriented DVDs for the Monkees, the Who, and the Beatles on the shelf when I got home, along with my stuffed Max and Ruby.

When I put everything away, I went back out. I hadn't volunteered at the Oaklyn Library in a while, and I had plenty of time before my sister Jessa's graduation party. It was hot and steamy and off-and-on sunny as I headed for the Library. There were plenty of people out and about. Yard work couldn't be put off, heat or no heat. The rain's making landscaping go crazy! There were a surprising amount of kids outside, too, and not just in the community pool. (Which was actually kind of quiet - it was lunchtime when I went to the library.)

The Library was busy with older people doing computer work and escaping the heat. I organized the adult DVDs, then worked on the kids' section. The Easy Readers and board books especially needed to be looked over. I also shelved children's non-fiction titles.

I considered eating lunch out, but I finally decided to save my appetite for the party. I just went straight home after leaving the Library. Spent an hour messing around on the computer before I changed into my bathing suit and a sundress, packed up the card and gift card I bought Jessa and the Blueberry Cinnamon Mousse Pie I made, and headed to Dad's for my second party there in little over a week.

This time, my stepsister Jessa was in the spotlight. She graduated the Art Institute of Philadelphia in May, but Dad and Jodie didn't get the chance to celebrate it until now. I spent most of the party swimming in the pool with my cousins Jim and Karen's 6-year-old son CJ, my nephew Khai, my sister Rose, and Jessa's boyfriend Bobby's little sister Stacey. When I needed a rest, I went inside to eat ribs (a spicy orange Corona concoction Vanessa made), lemon chicken on a roll, salad, and baked ziti. I also saw several kinds of sausages, an onion-pepper salad, and chicken legs.

It rained twice during the party, the first time heavily, but that didn't dampen anyone's mood or get anyone out of the pool. Khai and Stacey had so much fun, they had to almost be dragged bodily out of the pool by their mothers. When they finally made it inside, I watched Calliou with them as they squabbled over Khai's remote-control Thomas the Tank Engine that has realistic "smoke" coming out of his stack. Calliou is a popular PBS Kids/Sprout show about a little Canadian boy, his family, his friends, and his very big imagination. It's nothing out of the ordinary, but cute enough for what it is, and the kids did seem to enjoy it.

Jodie rolled out dessert around 6PM. In addition to my pie, Dad bought a black forest cake from a local bakery, and Rose brought a Key Lime Torte from Desserts By Design. All three seemed to go over very well. The cherry filling on the cake was a tad too sweet, but the Key Lime Torte was delicious.

I rode home shortly after dessert. I desperately wanted a bath! I haven't had one in probably over a month. It felt so good to relax in cool water while reading You Call It Madness and A Song In the Dark and listening to one of my 20s CDs.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Legend In His Own Time

It was about quarter of 11. I'd spent a lot of the morning finishing The Man Who Owned Broadway. (Which I enjoyed, by the way.) I'd just finished a late breakfast and was getting ready to walk to the Oaklyn Library when the phone rang. Once again, yes, it was the Acme. Could I come in at noon? I agreed to four hours, 12 - 4, but only because I really need the money. As I said yesterday, I'd have fewer problems with the extra hours if they'd have a little more consideration for people than giving them an hour's notice, especially when said person doesn't always have ready transportation.

At the very least, I had the time to do something I've been putting off. I called the closest dentist's office to here that's listed under Independence Blue Cross' site, which turned out to be the one a few doors down from Dollar Tree at the Westmont Plaza, and made an appointment for a checkup at 10AM on Tuesday. That's perfect. I have counseling at 2PM. I can get my teeth done, then volunteer at the Haddon Township Library, then go to counseling.

Work was on-and-off busy. It had apparently been really busy earlier in the morning, but by the time I arrived, it was pretty much the same as it has been for the past week. And once again, by the time I finished, it was fairly quiet. I don't know why they even wanted me to stay until 6 originally. They must have called in other people in addition to me, because they had plenty of help.

I had a lot of shopping to do when I finished, which is one of the reasons I cut the hours down to 4 in the first place. First of all, I needed things to make a mousse pie for Jessa's college graduation party tomorrow. The Oetker mousse mixes were still on sale, and so was the Acme generic whipped topping. Blueberries are cheaper here than at the farm market. Needed to restock canned chicken, brown sugar, single packs of fish, and contact solution. Acme was having a good sale on large boxes of General Mills Cereals - I went with Multi-Grain Cheerios.

Got my schedule, too. Other than a long and late night on Thursday, my schedule is mostly much better than last week's. I have earlier hours (everything else isn't later than 6) and more of them, with Tuesday and Saturday off again.

It started pouring around the same time I finished. This time, the rain just wasn't stopping. I waited outside for at least twenty minutes, but it just kept coming down. I finally rode home and just got really wet. I didn't feel like standing around or calling anyone else out to get wet, especially since I had the bike.

When I got home, I made Peach-Chocolate Chip Muffins, and then had Flounder with green peppers and mushrooms, corn on the cob, and snap peas while watching Broadway Danny Rose. Rose (Woody Allen) is a down-on-his-luck theatrical agent in the 60s whose biggest client (Nick Apollo Forte) is making a comeback and is about to perform on TV for a huge record executive. He wants Rose to bring his current mistress, Tina (Mia Farrow), to the show. Tina turns out to be a loud, obnoxious gangster's moll. Now, Rose has to get Tina to his lush of a client before the big show and dodge her mobster relatives...or his show will be ending permanently!

I'd never heard of this Allen film until I started poking around at older movies in the early-mid 90s. After I enjoyed Scoop and Midnight In Paris, I thought I'd give it a try. I'm very glad I did. As with Scoop, I don't know how audiences passed this one by. I thought it was really cute. Mia Farrow was the surprise here - the blowsy "interior decorator" gangster's girl is very far from her usual classy, delicate ladies. If you're a fan of Allen's comedies, Farrow, or the era this is set in, by all means, it's one of Allen's better 80s films.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Getting Organized

Not a really busy day. I spent a lot of the morning doing research on local dentists and gynecologists that take Independence Blue Cross. I need both. I haven't been to the dentist in ages, and every woman I know has been after me to see a gynecologist for a routine examination for years. Neither are exactly high on my "fun" list, but I can't keep putting them off.

I also did a few things around the apartment. I cleared out some papers. Organized the top of the printer next to my desk. Got rid of all of the stuffed animals on the top shelf of the baker's rack but Sundance the Raccoon, Polly the Opossum, and Alton the Chicken. (Westbrook the Eagle and Phil the Groundhog will be moved in the back room to be used as a decoration during football season and Groundhog Day respectively.) Moved the cake decorating magazines to the top shelf. I now have two small empty shelves where the magazines were. I'll figure out something to do with them later.

Watched a couple of episodes of The Muppet Show that featured Broadway or stage performers throughout the morning. Ethel Merman is mostly delighted to be part of a "Mutual Admiration Society," but Animal discovers the hard way that even a legend has her limits. Comedienne Kaye Ballard gets caught in a backstage dispute between Kermit and most of the Electric Mayhem, who don't think the theme song is hip enough. Valerie Harper is courted by a smitten Statler, who brings a plant backstage that almost ends up choking the show to death.

Work was on-and-off busy, with no major problems. It rained this morning, but the rain was long gone by the time I headed to work. It was sunny for most of the afternoon, still humid but much cooler. The clouds were gathering again as I finished, but they have yet to do anything at press time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sudden Showers

I awoke to sun, humidity...and a phone call. The Acme wanted me to come in at noon...and it was quarter of 10. I said "yes," but only because I really need the money. I don't mind coming in when people ask me well ahead of time, but usually when they call me like that, it's because someone's panicking for no reason.

As I discovered when I finally made it in at 12:15, that proved to be the case. We weren't busy, and would be on-and-off steady all day. There was a reason for this. The weather was off-and-on all day, too. Dark clouds were gathering even as I rode to the Acme. It rained hard around 2PM, and again around 4. Thankfully, I don't think it's rained since then.

We had to deal with customers who were upset for other reasons, too. Evidently, most of Audubon, Mt. Ephram, and Bellmawr had lost power, including all the businesses and street lights on the Black Horse Pike too, including WaWa and PNC. According to one customer, it came back on after four hours. I have no idea what happened. The Acme never lost power, and it looks like my apartment didn't, either. My digital alarm clock isn't flashing.

It slowed down enough by 7PM for me to hurry out without a relief. Though clouds were gathering on the horizon as I rode home, it has yet to rain again. I had a quick shower, then finished out Broadway: The American Musical while eating leftovers for dinner. I have fond memories of many of the shows that turned up in "Tradition" and "Putting It Together." The "I Love New York" commercials featuring whatever Broadway shows and celebrities were hot that year used to run on Channel 9 and 11 all the time when I was a kid in the 80s. I saw the ads for Phantom of the Opera, City of Angels, and Cats, and thought this is glamour...this is Broadway!

My mother didn't agree. She wouldn't let us near New York for years, having heard far too many horror stories about the horrible shape it was in during the 70s, 80s, and much of the 90s. I was surprised when she let me go there in 2001 for that WENN Convention - I guess she figured it would be ok if I was in a group.

The Times Square I saw in June 2001 was a very different place from what I encountered on a class trip to New York in high school around 1995. Our bus going back from that trip got caught in traffic in Times Square. We saw hustlers, panhandlers people in fine clothes on their way to a show, sailors (who flirted with some of the girls!), and assorted grimy bootleg items sellers. When I visited a quiet, early-morning Times Square, I saw a very different side of the city - newly-washed, softly sun-dappled, with almost no one but me and the Disney Store around.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Broadway Heat

It was thankfully only cloudy and humid when I awoke this morning. I put off going to the Haddon Township Library this time until about 11. I wanted to avoid the crowds I've run into constantly there over the past few weeks. Newton River Park was surprisingly busy for such a warm, humid morning. It was hot, but not as hot as over the weekend. I dodged lots of dog walkers (one with two cute white boxer pups), fishermen, and people out for a jog.

It was still busy at the library, but not as busy as last week, as I got there well after the Storybook Hour ended. This time, I was able to clear foreign and children's titles out of the adult section without having to lean over everyone. And there was a big stack to clear out! I had to shuffle a lot of things around to get the foreign titles in. They really need to be cleared out. The kids' titles weren't as bad today, perhaps because there are now lots of bored kids out of school to watch them.

I took out three comedies about men and women behaving badly - Bridesmaids, Broadway Danny Rose, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - and a PBS miniseries on musicals, Broadway - The American Musical. The biography I'm reading on George M. Cohan has stimulated my interest in Broadway history.

Stopped at Capitol Pizza for lunch. It was cooler inside, but I didn't feel like watching silly court shows on Fox while I ate. I took my cheese and mushroom slices and can of Fresca to the umbrella covered metal table and chairs outside. The view of two parked cars, the White Horse Pike, and a small publishing company housed in an old garage across the street wasn't exactly inspiring, but it was in the shade and it still beat Divorce Court.

I spent a couple of hours at home after lunch. Took down the 4th of July decorations as I watched the first two episodes of Broadway: The American Musical. "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Syncopated City" cover the last decade of the 19th century and the first three decades of the 20th, as Broadway evolves from a few streets of stages into the glittering Crossroads of the World...and the musical evolves with it, from Cohan's nervy, flag-waving comedies to the Gershwins' uptempo farces, from Victor Herbert's operetta fantasies to Kern and Hammerstein unleashing the integrated musical with Show Boat.

I got bored after "Syncopated City" finished and, since the weather was holidng out, decided a swim was in order. I changed into my bathing suit and rode over to Dad's. Dad said the water was in the 90s. I didn't believe him...until I jumped in and emerged with no feeling of shock! The water wasn't even remotely cold. The thermometer tied to the ladder on the deep end of the pool said it was in the upper 80s. I had a very pleasant swim for a half-hour, then read The Man Who Owned Broadway for another half-hour. Chatted with Dad and Jodie a bit before leaving and confirmed that yes, there will be a party on Saturday, and yes, they would like me to bring another pudding pie.

When I got home, I made Chicken Green Pepper Stir Fry and Persian Cucumber Salad for dinner while watching the next two episodes of Broadway: The American Musical. The one-two-three punch of the Depression, talking films, and radio hits Broadway and the musical hard in "I Got Plenty O' Nuthin'." While Hollywood may be the place to make money, the stage is where composers and stars can experiment in ways movies don't allow. The Gershwins did the political satire Of Thee I Sing and the folk opera Porgy and Bess. Cole Porter's glamorous shows like Anything Goes and DuBarry Was a Lady brought glitter and laughter to people who desperately needed it. Revues developed a conscience with the additions of songs that tackled the issues of the day, like "Supper Time" and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Marc Blitzstein's opera The Cradle Will Rock was so controversial, the government and unions tried to keep it from being performed...but the cast, Orson Welles, and Blitzstein had them do it in the seats and boxes.

Irving Berlin's rousing This Is the Army takes us into World War II, which is where we begin the next episode, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." The darkest days of the war begat some of Broadway's brightest musicals, including Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (my personal favorite of their shows) and Carousel. Suddenly, everyone's inspired to do these new-fangled "integrated" musicals, where the song and dance fits the story and the story isn't always piffle. Irving Berlin did Annie Get Your Gun with Ethel Merman at Rogers and Hammerstein's request. Cole Porter revitalized his career with Kiss Me Kate. E.Y Harburg brought an integrated cast to Broadway in the tale of how a leprechaun's magic effects race relation in the south, Finian's Rainbow. Betty Comden and Adolph Green join Leonard Bernstein for the story of three sailors on leave in New York in On the Town and two sisters trying to make it big on Christopher Street in Wonderful Town. TV variety shows helped advertise hits like Guys and Dolls and Gypsy.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Getting Laundry Done

I had just enough time before work this morning to get the laundry done. After the incident a few weeks ago where I fell off my bike during a laundry run, I wasn't going to ride to the laundromat again. It was once again hot, sunny, and sticky, though thankfully not quite as hot as yesterday. There were a few people there when I arrived, watching Let's Make a Deal. I didn't really have a very big load. By the time The Price Is Right was beginning, my clothes were out of the drier, and the last remaining customer was blabbing into her cell phone.

I quickly put my laundry away, changed into my newly-washed uniform, ate lunch, and hurried off to work! I was originally supposed to work at 2 today, but I was asked to come in at noon yesterday. I said "why not?" I really need the hours, and doing the laundry was my only plan for today. Work was on-and-off steady all afternoon, and really kind of boring. It didn't help that I was very tired, having spent a lot of last night tossing and turning. I was very glad that it was quiet enough by 7PM for me to shut down without a line.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Escaping the Heat

I evaded today's mid-90s temperatures by sleeping until 10. I got up just in time to hear Brunch With the Beatles. Today is Ringo Starr's birthday, and in his honor, they played songs he either sung or did some really amazing drumming on. Starr's songs from his Beatles years included "Boys," "Act Naturally," "With a Little Help From My Friends," and "Octopus' Garden." He was really big in the mid-70s with solo hits like "Oh My My," "Back Off Boogaloo," "The No-No Song," and remakes of "Only You" and "You're Sixteen."

I made delicious Raspberry Spice Pancakes and tried calling Mom; got Dad, who was on his way out the door to go for a motorcycle ride. I got to wish him a happy (and very belated) Father's Day and have a short chat with him. I haven't talked to him in a while.

Went online for a couple of hours after I talked to Dad to mess around. I did finally get a hold of Mom. She was babysitting my nephew Skylar again. He was playing Wii. She was about to grind her own coffee. Mom spent her 4th of July quietly at home, but Skylar got to go to a very busy Wildwood Boardwalk with his brother Collyn, Collyn's dad Mike, and a couple of their friends to see the fireworks.

(Some of my few fond memories of my days in Wildwood are of my boardwalk strolls. After work on the 4th of July, I'd walk the two blocks to the boards and just hike around the couple of blocks between my place and Wild Wheels and watch the tourists go crazy. Wildwood always had the best fireworks displays, too. Only Collingswood's have come close. My most memorable 4th of July was 2004, the year I won a big stuffed Tenderheart Bear from a crane under the Great White wooden roller coaster at Wild Wheels. He was the only Tenderheart in the machine, and he was pretty far down. I honestly didn't think I'd get him. I still have him, too.)

I did need to run to WaWa around 4 for milk and eggs. I also bought a mocha chilled cappuccino. I took the bike. Normally, I'd walk if I were going to WaWa, but it was too hot and I didn't have enough time. Though it was still very hot and humid then, a stiff wind kept it from feeling even worse. I was just able to grab what I needed and run home.

I ran two patriotic-oriented records throughout the afternoon. George M! was Joel Gray's first starring vehicle on Broadway and a somewhat more honest look at the life of George M. Cohan than Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Bernadette Peters also appears as Josie, Cohan's loyal sister. It's a shame this one is currently only available as a download. It's an awful lot of fun, with some lesser-known songs like "Oh You Wonderful Boy" and "The Belle of the Barber's Ball" that didn't make it into the movie.

Disney had fun with Cohan's music and other patriotic tunes in the 80s. Yankee Doodle Mickey includes "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and several other all-American songs. My favorite was the Armed Services Medley. Mickey represents the Air Force and the Marines. Goofy gets the Army. Naturally, Donald represents the Navy - he's the one in the sailor suit, after all! ; )

Work wasn't nearly so enjoyable. It was mildly busy when I arrived. By the time of my break at 6, it was so quiet, I spent almost the entire second half of the night doing returns. Dark clouds started gathering as early as 6:30, but they waited to burst until 8...which effectively cleared out the store. It was a ghost town when I left at 9.

The rain was long gone when I rode home. It was wet, but the ground was rapidly drying, and it wasn't nearly as hot as it had been earlier. The blacktop was still so hot from the day's boiling temperatures, I could clearly see steam streaming off the streets when I passed cars and streetlights!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Hot Harvest

Started another hazy, sunny morning with today's American Top 40 re-run. Disco was sizzling the dance floor during the scorching summer of 1977. Hits that early July included "Knowing Me, Knowing You" by ABBA,  "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett, "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher" by Rita Coolidge, "Life In the Fast Lane" by the Eagles, "You and Me" by Alice Cooper, "Do You Wanna Make Love" by Peter McCann, "Da Doo Ron-Ron" by then-teen idol Shaun Cassidy, "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, "Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)" by Bill Conti, "Looks Like We Made It" by Barry Manilow, and "My Heart Belongs to Me" by Barbara Streisand.

While it's considered a little cheesy today, the perky tale of a fantasy love, "Undercover Angel," is one of my favorite songs of the late 70s and was on top of the charts that week.

Much to my surprise, the Farm Market was bustling when I arrived. I figured a lot of people would put it off because of the 90+ heat this weekend. I'm glad I was able to make it this time. While the rain ended the sweet cherry season prematurely, everything else is out in full throttle. I saw peaches, green and wax beans, green peppers, large local tomatoes, corn, and eggplants for the first time this year. I bought peaches, blueberries, raspberries, red onions with their stems still attached, green beans, two medium-sized tomatoes, carrots, and a green pepper.

(No yard sales today. It was too hot to be roaming around the area, and I figured there wouldn't be any on a holiday weekend anyway.)

Given the heat, you probably won't be surprised to hear that I spent the rest of the morning at the apartment. After I put away my vegetables and tossed old ones that had gone bad, I put on the second disc on the Tiny Toons Adventures set I bought last month and watched most of them. While I'm saving the Christmas episode for the actual winter holidays, there were plenty of other episodes to savor. "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain" pokes fun at the campy slasher flicks of the 80s and early 90s. Babs, Fifi, and Shirley are having a weekend together in a lonely old cabin. They take turns playing pranks on their boyfriends...until one of Buster's ghost stories starts seeming a little too real. But the scariest thing in the episode may be Elmyra playing Elvira! "Music Day" has Sneezer's horn playing stinking up the cafeteria and Babs teaching the obnoxious swans in Shirley's ballet class a lesson in how to treat others when they snub Shirley because of her smaller stature and valley girl accent.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy when I came in, so quiet when I left, I spent the two hours of my shift doing returns. We also had a lot of help - many of the new baggers have been moved up to cashier and just started this weekend. I was in and out with no problems.

I had a surprise waiting for me when I got home. The two American Girl outfits I won on eBay had arrived! These were the last two affordable outfits I wanted for my Samantha doll. (There's three more outfits I wouldn't mind having, but they're all limited-edition and cost a mint in the secondary market.) The Lacy Pinafore Dress is her birthday outfit, and it looks pretty much as it does in Happy Birthday, Samantha! The white Tea Dress with the huge detachable ruffled collar is from Meet Samantha and turns up occasionally thereafter.

I put Sam in the Pinafore Dress, which has shorter sleeves. Just looking at her long-sleeved Middy Dress was making me hot! I switched the black stockings and black Mary-Janes for white Springfield Collection socks and the white and pink heeled shoes from Rebecca's Lacy Dress. I think she looks so cute and girlie-girl in this outfit, and much less warm.