Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thrill of a Bike Ride

I slept in a little this morning. Actually, I hadn't meant to. I opened my eyes at 7:30 and closed them again for five minutes. When I opened them again, it was almost 9:30. Oh well. At the very least, I was off today with no really major plans. I could afford to sleep in.

Ran a few more Backyardigans episode as I ate my quick cereal breakfast. Uniqua and Pablo run "The Big Dipper Diner," where their best customer is a cute little alien named Hugs. The two find themselves having to hide the critter from Officers Tyrone and Tasha when they mistake Hugs for a similar criminal alien who goes around shrinking things. In "Pablor and the Acorns," Pablo and Uniqua are intergalactic overlords who are chasing after a crystal that could give them unlimited power. When Pablor crash-lands on Earth, he gets help from Acorn scouts Austin, Tyrone, and Tasha that makes him rethink the real meaning of power and of helping others.

It was still full-out sunny when I finally headed out on the bike around 11:30. The sun was a bit warmer than earlier in the week, and it was slightly more humid. Otherwise, the weather remained seasonal and fall-ish, perfect for a long bike ride. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. Other than the usual crowd on the computers and discussing fund-raising programs, it was quiet. I organized DVDs and gave the kids' section a going-over. Took out a TCM collection of Esther Williams movies that includes my favorite vehicle of hers, Million Dollar Mermaid

It was past 12:30 by the time I headed out, and nearly 1 when I made it to Barrington. There's a small diner next to the Barrington Antique Center that I've wanted to try for ages. It's your standard formica-and-vinyl hash house with faded paintings of country scenes on the wall and middle-aged men chatting away in the seats. The food is also pretty standard diner fare - burgers, cheese steaks, fried entrees, all kinds of grilled sandwiches. The prices were really cheap for this area, though. My pizza steak only cost a little over five dollars. It was pretty decent, just tomato sauce, steak, and cheese in a roll, but filling enough. I ignored the court shows on the small flat screen TV and watched the younger waitress greet her adorable toddler sons and her husband.

The main reason for my outing today was to check out some of the stores beyond Barrington. A large Shop Rite replaced the closed Pathmark in Lawnside; Hallmark replaced Blockbuster. Sadly, it looks like nothing has replaced the Fashion Bug or the K-Mart I visited last year. Both stores were still quite empty. The dollar store there was gone, too.

I took a brief look at Hallmark. It was actually quite lovely, probably only the second stand-alone Hallmark I've ever seen after the one on the Washington Street Mall in Cape May during my childhood. They had a nice selection of stuffed animals, especially those huge round Ty ball-like toys that are "in" right now.

Shop Rite proved to be more useful. They looked a lot like Wegman's without that store's additional health food and home goods aisles. There was a fair-sized produce section and a much larger cafe/hot foods selection than the Acme has. They had far better flour and sugar prices, although their canned good prices were on a par with ours (ironically, despite their bi-annual "Can Can" sale). I ended up with pads, oat bran, tuna, and vinegar, all on good sales.

It was only 2:30 when I left Shop Rite. With nothing better to do, I continued on past the shopping center to see what there was to see. I rode down the White Horse Pike, past Popeye's and an abandoned bar and Lowes' and the FedEx sorting and shipping building. I ultimately ended up at a hobby/crafts store housed in a small, blocky gray building on the White Horse Pike. They had a better selection of models than craft items. I did buy a skein of lavender yarn for a project for my friend Lauren for Christmas.

By 3PM, the traffic on the White Horse Pike was getting ugly. I figured it was time for me to head home. I made one short stop at the WaWa in Audubon for milk and a Diet Dr. Pepper with raspberry and vanilla syrups. Otherwise, I just headed back to my place.

Ran one more Backyardigans episode as I got organized. Uniqua, Tyrone, and Pablo are "The Amazing Splashinis," a diving act. They want to do a really hard move that involves performing six rolls while in the air, but they can't seem to get high enough. Meanwhile, a friendly but large sea serpent has invaded their main pool. He's not mean, but he takes up too much space to stay! The kids first try to lead him out to the ocean, then scare him out. He gets so scared that he ends up in the water park, leading the kids on a wacky chase to make sure he doesn't cause too much damage.

Went right into the bath after the show ended. I needed a nice, long bath after my long ride today! I looked over some of my Christmas craft books, kicked back, and relaxed as my George Winston/Vince Guaradli jazz CD played in the background.

I spent the rest of the night baking devil's food cookies (from a cake mix), making ratatouille to go with the last of my leftover meatloaf for dinner, and watching the first movie on the Esther Williams set, Thrill of a Romance. Williams plays a swimming teacher in LA who is married to a rich businessman (Carleton Young) after a courtship of a month. Hubby turns out to be more dedicated to his job than his new wife and runs off to deal with his work in Washington DC, leaving Williams figuratively high and dry at the luxury resort where they're spending their honeymoon. Cue a handsome war hero (Van Johnson) who takes one look at Williams and decides he could use some swimming lessons, pronto. A visiting opera star (Lauritz Melichor, in his debut) and band leader Tommy Dorsey do their best to play cupid between musical numbers.

Pretty but ultimately disappointing. I was really hoping for a lot more from this one. The costumes were lovely, Johnson and Williams had some great chemistry, and Melichor was surprisingly enjoyable for an opera star making his first appearance on film. I just wish the movie found better things to do with all of them than dump them at a hotel. Williams, for all her star status, doesn't really have much to do, not even a fancy swimming sequence. I was surprised with several reviewers online and at complaining that the movie had too many musical numbers. I thought it wasn't enough of a musical. While Dorsey and his are used more than they were in DuBarry Was a Lady, they still aren't all that well-integrated, and Melichor sometimes feels like he came in from another movie entirely. Really for fans of Williams or Johnson only.

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