Thursday, October 31, 2013

Anything Can Happen On Halloween

I set my clock to the radio alarm last night. The first thing I heard when I got up this morning were "Monster Mash" and "Devil Woman" on WOGL. It was a fitting beginning to what ultimately ended up being a rather fun Halloween, especially compared to last year's hurricane mess.

I finished out one of three American Girl historical character mysteries I bought recently and saved for the holiday this morning. In Lady Margaret's Ghost, Felicity is taking care of the household on her own while her mother is away. The arrival of family heirlooms with a tragic past also brings spooky noises and disappearing objects to the Merriman household. Could someone be stealing...or is it the ghost of the heirlooms' previous owner? Definately my favorite of Lissie's three mysteries - not so much a mystery as a shivery ghost story.

Spent the rest of the morning watching Halloween specials, starting with Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special. This is one of the 70s and 80s Looney Tunes prime-time specials that was pretty much a collection of bits and pieces of shorts surrounding so-so new material. While the new material here is pretty much useless, they at the very least managed to find Halloween and horror shorts to use, unlike the random story for Easter.

The only new cartoon created for the original Woody Woodpecker Show in the 60s was Halloween-themed. In "Spook-a-Nanny," Woody Woodpecker can't seem to get inside to join other Walter Lantz characters like Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, and Space Mouse for their Halloween party. He finally dresses as the ghost rock group...but not being a ghost, he can't fade through the wall like they do.

Max & Ruby have their own Halloween fun. In "Max's Halloween," Ruby wants Max to be a little prince to her Cinderella, but Max prefers scarier costumes that involve vampire teeth. Ruby's annoyed with her brother when he accidentally buries her school leaf-book project in his pile in "Ruby's Leaf Collection." Max wants to hear the tale of "The Blue Tarantula" before he goes to bed, but both bunnies wind up scared of the spiders that go bump in the night!

Garfield and Odie also wind up being spooked by ghosts in Garfield's Halloween Adventure. They're dressed as pirates to pick up some candy booty, but Garfield's desire for even more trick-or-treat plunder lands them on a haunted island at midnight with pirate ghosts on their tails!

Piglet's even less fond of the darker side of the holiday in Boo to You, Too. Halloween's ghosts and ghoulies just scare him silly. When  he won't join them for trick-or-treating, Pooh says they just won't celebrate at all. He, Tigger, Gopher, and Eeyore finally do their best to prove to Piglet that there's nothing really scary about Halloween.

Halloween is also frightening for the Whos in Halloween Is Grinch Night. A sour-sweet wind sends the Grinch on the prowl with his cart full of colorful psychedelic scares. Curious little Eukeriah Who accidentally blows into the mountains and becomes determined to keep the Grinch from getting into the town.

The most famous of all Halloween specials is probably It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. While Linus and a smitten Sally await the title character in a "sincere" pumpkin patch, Charlie Brown has even less luck trick-or-treating and at a Halloween party. Snoopy spends his Halloween night battling the Red Baron.

Work was somewhere between harried and boring. It was really busy during the first half, before 2PM and most local towns started trick or treating. One older couple and their son gave me such a hard time over the turkey coupon and their order, I just went to break and let a manger handle them. The rest of the evening was quiet as people fled to various Halloween activities and employees prepared for tomorrow's sales.

(And I was disappointed that I was one of only two people who dressed up for work. Apparently, they didn't know if we were allowed or not, and by the time they said "what the heck," most people decided against wearing a costume. I was Winnie the Pooh in my favorite red sweater and ears made of yellow and orange adhesive foam that I bought at AC Moore last week stuck to cardboard from a Kashi cereal box and taped onto a regular plastic headband.)

It was cloudy, humid, and relatively warm when I rode home, but not too bad. I finished during the last hour of trick-or-treating. There were kids all over the place in some darn cute costumes. I went quickly back to my apartment, changed the shirt under the sweater (I originally had my work shirt on), grabbed the sugar cookies I was giving to my nephew as an extra-special Halloween treat, and rode over to Dad's.

I ran into my 3-year-old nephew Khai, my sister Rose, her boyfriend Craig, and my dad's girlfriend Jodie on my way to Dad's. Khai and Craig were both dinosaurs. Jodie was a witch. (Rose didn't dress up - maybe the guys couldn't talk her into the dinosaur costume.) Jodie's son Jesse's girlfriend Dana and their spaniel Heilo came by as well. Plump little Helio was dressed in a monkey costume! Khai was thrilled. His parents have two dogs and a cat, so he loves animals.

After Rose took her boys to Camden to see Craig's parents, I spent a half-hour or so at Dad's. Chatted with him, Jodie, and a couple of friends of theirs. Jodie and some friends are going to Long Island for the weekend and Dad's has a work trip, so neither of them will be around starting tomorrow. We enjoyed mushroom and plain cheese pizza from Phillies' Phatties down the street for dinner.

After I ate, I headed to West Clinton Avenue for Oaklyn's Halloween Parade. It was supposed to start at 6:30. I got there at 6:30, and they were nowhere close to starting. I walked around, looking at all the neat costumes, until I encountered a friendly customer from work and her husband and 4-year-old daughter. Her little girl was an adorable Merida, complete with red curly wig and bow and suction-cup-tipped arrow.

It was almost 7 before the parade finally made its way from the Oaklyn School down West Clinton to the Fire Hall. Despite the late hour, it was a far larger parade than the one I took part in during October 2008. In addition to the mini-Merida, I saw a lot of really cute costumes. Superheroes were huge - I saw Supergirl, Batgirl, Iron Man, a Power Ranger, Captain America, Green Lantern, and a plethora of Ninja Turtles. There were lots of cute witches in poofy, sparkly skirts and pastel wigs. There was a pop star in a fur-trimmed tight dress and boots and pale makeup. There were two little Dorothys - one brought a real dog "Toto." There was a very pretty candy fairy and her older sister peacock fairy. There was a darling Ariel and two lovely little Cinderellas. Toddlers loved Monsters University - I saw two very young Mikes and a newborn Sulley. There was a Boston Celtics player in a gigantic afro and a couple of football players.

Not all the costumes were bought from stores, either. One little boy was a "traffic cone" with the appropriate orange cone-shaped hat. A college-age Wizard of Oz group had a male Dorothy. Another boy was a school bus driver with a cardboard school bus. A slightly older boy was a robot in a taped-together cardboard costume. A teenager wore ragged, bloody clothes with the coolest, scariest mask he could find...and it was very effective.

My favorite costumes by far were the three pre-teen girls who wore yellow shirts, yellow tights, overalls, goggles, and yellow ski caps and went as the Minions from the Despicable Me movies. Not only were their costumes nifty, but they were a blast to watch the entire parade. They danced down the parade route and skipped arm-in-arm around the fire hall where the judging took place. Appropriately, I believe they won a special group award.

I finally rode home after the judging ended. I ran one last quick Three Stooges short as I had a drink and some Scary Sugar Cookies and got ready for a shower. "Spooks!" was one of two 3-D shorts the Stooges did in the mid-50s during the height of that format's original popularity. Shemp, Moe, and Larry are detectives who pose as pie sellers in order to rescue a young woman from the clutches of a mad scientist, his minion, and a gorilla.

Here's hoping that all of you had an equally fun, spooky, and safe Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Puttin' On the Monster

I was up late last night and slept until almost 10. It's just as well. I awoke to what sounded like the tail end of a shower. Thankfully, from what the National Weather Service says, it may rain on Friday, but not tomorrow. Considering that we were being hit by Hurricane Sandy a year ago (and I was getting hit by a stomach virus), this is very much appreciated.

I finished out the spooky or Halloween-oriented episodes of Perfect Strangers while eating Halloween chocolate chip muffins and a grapefruit half for breakfast. The fourth season episode "Aliens" is the series' only Halloween show. Larry watches a 12-hour horror movie marathon on Halloween night, and then dreams that Balki is an alien bent on conquering the Earth. In the seventh season episode "Fright Night," Larry and Balki try to get rid of a ghost who lives in Balki's room in their new house. The third season story "The Horn Blows at Midnight" goes into superstition and prophecy when a clairvoyant prophecies that Larry will die at midnight. Balki's worried, but Larry laughs it off, until what she foretold seems to be coming true...

Thankfully, the rain was long gone by the time I headed out around 12:30. It was still damp and cloudy, but the clouds were just sitting there. It didn't stop people from being out and about. I passed dog walkers and men painting the train underpass on West Clinton Avenue as I headed for the Oaklyn Library.

The Oaklyn Library was very quiet today. It was just me, the librarian, and a college student on the computer. (An older woman arrived later.) I organized the adult and kids' DVDs and gave the kids' picture books a good going-over. The library closes at 2 - I was out by 1:30.

Strolled to WaWa next. They, on the other hand, were busy with late lunch orders. I just wanted a small snack. I opted for a fountain Diet Dr. Pepper with raspberry and vanilla syrups and a small braided pretzel topped with salt, garlic bits, and poppy seeds.

I spent the next 40 minutes or so walking around Oaklyn, looking at the Halloween and fall decorations. While few houses get as gory as the one a block away with the headless bride, quite a few people did have lovely autumn or Halloween displays. Beautifully carved pumpkins mingled with pots of brilliant mums and asters and smiling scarecrows in checked shirts and overalls (and even some girl scarecrows with straw pigtails and jean skirts). The gag decoration of the back part of a witch who flew into a house or tree seemed to be very popular.

When I got home, I had a ham sandwich for lunch and did some vacuuming while running the most famous of all the Bowery Boys horror-oriented movies. The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters takes Sach and Slip to the home of the Gravesends. The two main male heads of the family want the duo for their experiments involving a gorilla and a robot. The young woman vampiress just wants their blood. So does Granny....for her man-eating plant! It'll take all their wits (what little they have) to get out of their with their heads intact!

Did Mad Monster Party? while working online. This peculiar stop-motion animated film is one of the few feature-length projects done by Rankin-Bass. Baron Von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff, in voice and likeness) has gathered all of the most famous monsters of filmdom for a huge party, in which he'll reveal who his successor will be. While the monsters plot against each other (including Phyllis Diller as the Bride of Frankenstein), the Baron's nerdy nephew Felix arrives for the party. The Baron's assistant Francesca is determined to make sure Felix isn't the one who inherits.

Weird. Very, very weird. When Phyllis Diller is the least-strange thing on the screen, you know you're in for a bizarre movie. May actually be too weird for young kids who are expecting Rudolph, but older ones who love monsters and teens and young adults who are horror fans may have fun with this one.

Switched to Young Frankenstein while making baked flounder with roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. Fredrick Frankenstein (pronounced "FRAUNK-en-steen")  (Gene Wilder) is also having trouble dealing with the dubious family heritage. He's initially disbelieving of his grandfather's discoveries, until he inherits his castle and laboratory equipment and decides there might be something to the old boy's claims after all. When the monster doesn't come out as planned, thanks to a mistake with brains by his assistant Igor (Marty Feldman), he has to deal with the repercussions of his experiments and try to convince the townspeople that neither he nor the monster intend any harm.

A long-time favorite of mine. Thanks to the moody black-and-white cinematography and use of the original sets and equipment from the 1931 Frankenstein, this is probably the most atmospheric movie Mel Brooks ever did. It's genuinely spooky, even when the gags are piling up all over the place. Check out the famous "Puttin' On the Ritz" number where the monster tap dances.

Returned to TV shows while I turned a simple rolled sugar cookie recipe into Scary Spicy Sugar Cookies with the addition of whole wheat flour and cinnamon and allspice and replacing part of the sugar with agave nectar. Faerie Tale Theatre did several horror-oriented stories during it's run. One of the less well-known was "The Boy Who Left Home to Learn About the Shivers." Peter MacNichol is the title character, a simple lad who has never felt fear. He agrees to stay in a castle for three nights to learn about fear...but it's neither the ghouls partying nor the sorcerer who tries to kill him (Christopher Lee) that finally shows him the true meaning of being scared.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Disney's Halloween Treats

Began a sunny, warm morning with two vintage Disney specials. My family taped these off was an independent local TV station in 1988. Halloween Hall of Fame has the late Johnathan Winters running afoul of a grouchy Jack-O'-Lantern who complains that the holiday has been too watered-down for his taste in recent years. Winters shows him the Donald Duck short "Trick or Treat" and most of "Pluto's Judgement Day" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad to prove otherwise. Scary Tales Halloween, taped the same night, is more of a random compilation of segments from various Disney movies that involve spooky stuff or villains, along with the Mickey/Donald/Goofy vehicle "Lonesome Ghosts" and another Donald tale, "Donald and the Gorilla."

(Incidentally, while I believe Scary Tales is on at least video in one form or another, I've never seen Halloween Hall of Fame anywhere else, including The Disney Channel. Channel 29 would convert to a Fox affiliate a year later and seldom ran anything Disney-related thereafter.)

I had a pleasant walk to the laundromat this morning. It was a gorgeous day for a walk. The trees here are finally starting to turn subdued but not unattractive shades of flame orange, gold, lime green, and russet. While most people here don't go quite as all-out for Halloween as they do for Christmas, there are some very nifty - and ghoulish - displays, including one a block or so down from here that has everything creepy you can imagine, from a headless bride to foam gravestones.

I wanted to get the laundry done a bit earlier this week than I have been. I'm tired of the rushing, and I had towels to do this week along with a slightly larger load than usual (thanks to last week's cold weather). It was pretty busy there when I got in around 10:30, but I did get a washer and a drier. I guess everyone wanted to get their chores done before Halloween kicks in later this week.

When I got home, I put the laundry away, then had lunch as I watched The Black Cauldron. This lesser-known Disney gem is one of their only movies that can be called out-and-out scary. Taran, a young pig-keeper, discovers that his charge Hen Wen is being pursued by the evil Horned King because her oracular ability can reveal where the fabled Black Cauldron is. Taran is supposed to take Hen to safety, but his daydreaming allows her to wander off instead....and into the hands of the Horned King himself. Taran also winds up a prisoner, but while in the castle, he does meet the spirited Princess Ellonwy and Fflewfldor the bard. They break out, and joined by ever-hungry Gurgi, set out to find the legendary cauldron and a way to defeat the freaky skeletal ruler.

Even just the outline could probably tell you that this is one of the few Disney "canon" animated films that isn't for young kids. Those "cauldron born" warriors and the Horned King are genuinely nightmare-inducing. There's a reason I usually watch this around Halloween. That said, if you have older kids who think they've seen every Disney movie and can handle the scares, try this one on them.

Work was busy for most of the night, not helped by my being fairly tired. It was busy right up until I left! We're getting close to the beginning of the month. Thankfully, people weren't quite as bad as they were the other night. I even had a nice chat with a kind customer. It did slow down enough by 9 that I was able to leave without a fuss.

Monday, October 28, 2013

There's Silver In Them Thar Teeth

Started off a sunny, somewhat warmer day with spooky or strange episodes of two of my favorite sitcoms. Max and 99 have to stop mad pharmacist Jarvis Pym (played by Vincent Price) from tainting Washington DC's water supply with a hallucinogenic drug in "Is This Trip Necessary?" from the fifth season of Get Smart. The already complicated third season of Remember WENN becomes a bit scarier when the cast puts on a horror broadcast and Hilary Booth seems to be stalked by a poltergeist with a fondness for cranberry jelly in "The Ghost of WENN."

One of Mickey Mouse's lesser-known shorts is also one of his most recent. Runaway Brain from 1995 pits Disney's top mouse and his favorite girl against another mad scientist (this one voiced by Kelsey Grammer) and an enormous monster who looks rather familiar. Things get hairy when Mickey and the monster switch minds, and Mickey has to convince Minnie that he's who he says he is. Mickey also tangled with a mad scientist in the 1932 black-and-white classic "The Mad Doctor." This one wants to experiment on Pluto, unless Mickey can rescue his canine friend.

I called Mom while the shows were on. I told her about my bad day yesterday and how much the customers are driving me crazy. She told me about the continuing work on converting their garage into a den and how much Dad and the contractors are driving her crazy. I found out what my nephews are being for Halloween this year. Khai is being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle; evidently, he's a big fan of the new show. (And no, Mom didn't say which one.) Skylar is being a scientist. (No surprise there, given his fondness for all things scientific.) Collyn is a construction worker.

My dental appointment was at 11:30. I was there right on the dot, and the nurse took me in the moment I arrived. Making a crown proved to be a lot more complicated than just filling a cavity or drilling a hole. For one thing, there was only a little bit of needles on the gums, nothing like the last couple of times. There was less drilling and more biting down on soft stuff that felt like weird-tasting taffy. They also poked around in my gums a lot. That hurt more than any drilling or biting! They even put a wire in my gums at one point. Thankfully, the wire finally came out and the temporary crown went in. When I came out an hour later, I had a silvery temporary crown and an appointment for November 12th, the same day of my next counseling appointment.

Since I hadn't had any major Novocaine injections this time and could move my mouth just fine, I went to lunch right after I left the dentist's office. I figured I'd eat at the Westmont Bagel Shop, one of my favorite spots. I had a nice, simple, soft Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich on whole wheat bread with fries and water. I enjoyed my meal while watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and The Chew on ABC. The place was surprisingly quiet for lunch hour. The only other diners were a father and his daughter having a family discussion.

Went straight to the Haddon Township Library next for this week's volunteering session there. They were even quieter than the Bagel Shop. There must have been a lot of people taking out Halloween specials for their kids, too. I had absolutely no problems fitting all of the kids' DVDs into the three spinning racks. The adult titles were another matter. They're still overloaded, especially M through Z. I gave up trying to get all of the S titles on the rack.

I ended up taking out a few things for Halloween this week - the newest Scooby Doo movie Stage Fright, the Miss Spider and Her Sunny Patch Friends Halloween set Bug-A-Boo Day Play, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and six episodes of one of Disney's current hit animated series, the paranormal-based Gravity Falls. (I wanted to take Gravity Falls out last week, but a mother asked for it for her daughter, saying she was a big fan and would love it. I couldn't say no to that. From the sound of things, it'll be great for Halloween.)

I rode home through a busy park. It was a gorgeous afternoon, warmer than it was last week but not anything abnormal for late October in Southern New Jersey. The lake sparkled like fairy dust, reflecting the trees that are finally starting to turn dusky shades of gold, lime green, russet, and orange. I dodged lots of people out for a walk or a run, enjoying the weather.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment, cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen. I ran cartoons while I cleaned. Despite the Halloween-oriented cover, Bug-A-Boo Day Play doesn't really have a whole lot to do with anything scary. The title episode teaches Shimmer just how hard it is to put on a show when the kids abandon her Bug-A-Boo Revue for less difficult autumn pursuits. Spidercus and Spideretta babysit the kids in "Big Bad Buggysitter." Shimmer wants to have quiet fun like baking cookies, but her siblings would rather dance and make noise. She and Spidercus discover they have something in common - some bugs (and people) really do prefer less robust activities.

One of the few genuinely frightening episodes was "A Scary Scaly Tale." The kids discover an abandoned snake skin and use it to spook their neighbors. They think this is a great joke, until their parents discover a real snake in the grass! They learn that what seems funny today might not be so amusing after there's real danger.

Scooby Doo! Stage Fright takes us from Sunny Patch to Chicago, Illinois. Daphne and Fred are finalists in Talent Star, a big talent reality show. Daphne's delighted. Not only does she love the show, but she can finally tell Fred how she feels about him (after only waiting 40 years). Shaggy continually attempts to sneak Scooby in under the nose of the germ-phobic assistant director so they can show Talent Star's announcer their acts. Velma's more interested in the history of the theater where the show is filmed and the eclectic performers vying for the top prize, including a spoiled child diva, a kid violinist with real talent, a diminutive ventriloquist, and a stuffy magician. The show may not go on at all if the group can't stop the Phantom, a ghoul who seems to appear everywhere, setting fires and causing sabotage.

While I didn't like this as much as the Blue Falcon movie last spring, it was better than the last attempt at a musical Scooby story, Music of the Vampire. At the very least, there's a twist ending with whom turns out to be the Phantom, and how he can appear in many different places at once. Fine for fans of Scooby and kids who enjoy the franchise.

Put on Ghostbusters as I made leftover chicken tomato soup and Halloween Chocolate Chip Muffins for dinner. This beloved 1984 horror comedy features Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Harold Ramis as former Columbia University professors who go into business as professional spook chasers. Sigorney Weaver is their first client, a classical musician whose apartment may be a conductor to the spirit world; Rick Moranis is her nerdy neighbor. When Moranis and Weaver run headlong into a Sumerian god, it's the Ghostbusters to the rescue!

This classic 80s' hit is a longtime favorite of mine. My sisters and I used to run around our house on Maryland Avenue in Cape May with backpacks and Mom's vacuum cleaner hoses, pretending to be ghostbusters. It was a little more likely for us than for most kids, given how many ghost stories are floating around Cape May County. At any rate, if you're a fan of any of the cast, 80s movies, or comedies with just enough scares, this is highly recommended.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Should Have Known Better

I was so tired last night, I slept until 10:30. It was 11:30 before I finally got started making Pear-Cinnamon Pancakes for breakfast. Today's Brunch With the Beatles theme was "Songs That Came Out In the Fall and Holiday Season." Beatles songs from the tail end of the year include "Come Together," "I Am the Walrus," "Penny Lane," and "Strawberry Fields Forever." I tried calling Mom, but got the answering machine. She probably went out to run errands before the Eagles game. I'd call her back tomorrow.

Everything went downhill from there. After the show ended, I tried to make a caramel icing for the Caramel Apple Cake I made last night. I used a recipe for caramel frosting from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  Melting the butter went fine, but it was almost 12:30 at that point. I guess I should have let the butter cool more before I put the brown sugar in. No amount of stirring could turn the brown sugar into icing instead of candy. Putting in powdered sugar just made things worse. When I tried to solve the problem by chopping up the brown sugar bits in the food processor, I just jammed the food processor instead. Removing the blade to fix the problem just made a mess. I finally turned it into Caramel Apple Poke Cake with Brown Sugar Candy Bits and just brought it to Dad's football party anyway.

Of course, there was no party. It was just Dad, Jodie, our cousin Mark, and an old friend of Uncle Ken's, Al, and a salad and meatball or sausage sandwiches. Everyone else was busy with Halloween festivals or other parties going on this weekend. Rose and Craig dropped Khai off right before I left, but they couldn't stay. This is Restaurant Week, and Anthony's was very busy. The game wasn't going well, either. Michael Vick, the Eagles' quarterback, left early on, complaining about his hamstring bothering him again. The Giants got three field goals during the first half; at least the Eagles held them to not much more than that. The Giants finally won, 15-7.

I left my lunch box and cell phone at Dad's and had to go back for it, which meant I was almost late for work. I wish I'd never set foot in that store. Work was not only busy for most of the evening, it was a pain. People were obnoxious, cranky, and rude. One older woman kicked up a fuss about the Acme being out of the kosher turkeys for that free turkey coupon and not being able to use the coupon on a later order. (You have to use the coupon with your 100 dollar order, or no dice...and no saving gradually, either.) Another person put back a quarter of their order and held up a very long line. A third went on and on about how horrible the store was because she had to buy three items to get a certain sale, instead of the one she wanted. Several people gave me a hard time about bagging. It didn't help that I was still feeling bad about how the icing disaster and the party. My stomach is still in knots, even after eating a grapefruit and taking a shower when I got home.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crazy Little Thing Called Fall

I began a chilly but sunny fall morning with this week's American Top 40 re-run. We moved back two years to 1980, as disco fizzled out and ballads, British super groups, R&B, and New Wave danced in. Hits the weekend before Halloween that year included "Love, Look What You've Done to Me" by Boz Scaggs (from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack), "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen, "Jesse" by Carly Simon, "I'm Comin' Out" and "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, "Lost In Love" by Air Supply, "Never Knew Love Like This Before" by Stephanie Mills, and "I'm All Right" by Kenny Loggins (from the Caddyshack soundtrack). Barbara Streisand had her fifth #1 hit that week with one of her most popular ballads, "Woman In Love."

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time for the long errands run that I've enjoyed the past few weeks. I figured it would be too cold this morning for yard sales anyway, but I did see two in Oaklyn on my way to the farm market. Nothing interesting at one, and the other is the same family on Oaklawn who have been having sales for weeks. I rode on my way.

The farm market is on its last month. Several booths were gone, replaced by craft tables or an empty space, and it didn't seem quite as crowded as it has been. Pears, melons, and green peppers were done as well, but the rest of the fall harvest is still out in full force. I ended up with spinach, cute little Fuji apples, cranberries, and grapefruit, the last-named from the table selling tropical fruit from wholesalers. They had five grapefruit for 3 dollars. The Acme sells their grapefruit for a dollar each!

I had just enough time to put everything away and run a spooky episode of Get Smart before heading to work. 99 is mistaken for "Rebecca of Funny-Folk Farm" when she and Max go to a house to retrieve a top-secret package on the roof and 99 resembles the owner's dead sister. As the bodies pile up, Max has to figure out what's really going on.

Work wasn't too bad when I got in, but it picked up considerably as the afternoon went on, and was crazy for most of the day. I was tired and not really up to dealing with so many people at once. Thankfully, my relief, one of the college-age girls, was right on time. I was able to buy two of the dollar fruit spreads on clearance for 50 cents and head out.

When I got home, I had leftover ham and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner while watching Suspicion. A romantic suspense drama set in England, this one has some parallels to Hitchcock's previous Oscar-winner Rebecca - plain British woman believes her handsome husband may be a killer (she's even played by Joan Fontaine). The husband in question here is Cary Grant, a loose-living playboy who seems to have married his wife for the money she's supposed to have inherited and wallows in a flood of lies and embezzlement. Did he really kill his best friend...and could she be next?

Not bad. Fontaine won an Oscar as the fragile Lina, who may or may not be entirely imagining what her husband really has in mind. Grant is also good as the gold-digger who will do anything to keep living the high life. A cop-out ending (apparently changed from the original book) keeps this from being as good as some of Hitchcock's later films, but it's still worth checking out for fans of the stars, the director, or a good suspense flick.

Put on one of the spookier episodes of Laverne and Shirley while I used that Caramel Apple Cake Mix to make Caramel Apple Spice Cake for Dad's football party tomorrow. The girls and Lenny and Squiggy find themselves trapped in a "Haunted House" when they come to the decrepit Ramsdale Manor to buy a cheap used couch. Shirley's certain that the house is home to the "Ramsdale Hairy Thing." Laverne's just as sure that a house is a house, and they need furniture. Which woman is right...especially when people start disappearing?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Princesses and Silver Linings

Began a chilly morning with the 1995 adaptation of A Little Princess that I picked up in a yard sale a few weeks ago, as I began re-reading the book today. Alfonso Cuaron directed this tale of Sara Crewe (Lisel Matthews), who attends a boarding school in New York in 1914 when her father goes off to war. She's the pampered but kind-hearted star pupil of the school, beloved by everyone except for one rather jealous fellow student and the bitter head mistress Miss Minchin (Eleanor Bron). When her father dies and leaves her a pauper, Sarah is taken from everything she's ever known and made a servant at the school. The intelligent girl uses the power of her imagination and her boundless storytelling ability to survive Miss Minchin's abuse and the loss of the only person she'd loved more than anything.

One of the loveliest films of the 90s, with gorgeous costumes and sets and some amazing CGI imagery during Sara's Indian-set stories. I can see why Cuaron went on to direct another tale of an unusual orphan in a boarding school, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. While I do wish they hadn't filled out the ending with a needless action sequence and preferred the book's original finale, that's really my only complaint. I like how we see more of how the girls in the school help Sara out, even after she's lost her money, by finding something that's important to her despite Miss Minchin's rules...and how this is the only Little Princess adaptation where Miss Minchin finally gets punished in the end. A must for girls of all ages, especially those who have read the book.

Work was a tad busier than it has been. We're less than a week from Halloween and the beginning of the month. It wasn't bad when I arrived, but it did pick up much later. A new turkey promotion is also causing some headaches. This week, there's a coupon in our flyer that will allow customers to buy a turkey after spending 100 dollars IN ONE ORDER. This isn't a "save 300 dollars all fall" deal. It's 100 in one transaction, and you need the coupon for the freebie. The majority of people just didn't seem to get it - they thought you had to save up for it, because every other store does that. Hopefully, they'll figure things out as the week goes on.

After I got out of work, I made this week's shopping trip. A lot of it was baking and cooking restocks - brown sugar, whole wheat flour, milk, sandwich bags, canned Great Northern Beans and diced low-salt tomatoes. The Acme's generic parchment paper is far cheaper than Reynolds Wrap, and it was on a good sale. The Smart Balance butter sticks were buy one, get one, and I had a coupon; Kashi cereals were three for $2.49 if you bought three, and I had a coupon for a dollar off two.

My schedule for this week is ok, not great. On one hand, I only work 12-5 on Halloween - I could help Dad with the tail end of trick-or-treating. I'm off Monday (for a dental appointment) and Wednesday. I'm not entirely happy with the late night Tuesday or the 8 hour day next Friday, but at least I have a lot more hours than I did at this time of year...which is to say, I have hours. This time last year, I would have been at home, about half-way through my two months off due to a fractured ankle.

When I got home, I ran The Penniless Princess as I put away my groceries and changed into regular clothes. This is a Veggitales version of A Little Princess, and other than making Sara's doll a teddy bear (it probably would have been a little awkward for a broccoli kid to be carrying around a doll) and the usual religious bent, this is actually fairly accurate. It's even one of the few versions I've seen use more-or-less the original ending from the book.

Switched to The Silver Linings Playbook after I finished leftover chicken soup for dinner and worked on a Christmas crocheting project for my friend Amanda. Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just returned to his parents' home in Philadelphia after an 8-month stint in a mental hospital. His wife has left him and taken his home and his cash, and he's lost his job. He's bi-polar and occasionally has violent mood swings, but he's determined to stay positive and get his wife back. His Eagles-obsessed parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert DeNiro) do what they can to support him. What really helps him out is meeting Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a newly widowed young woman who has just as many mental problems as he does. Tiffany agrees to help him get his wife back if he'll attend a dance competition with her. Against his better judgement, he does so, and learns that kindness is it's own reward, families can help you heal, and that sometimes real love with someone who is truly compatible can be right under your nose.

A surprisingly sweet and refreshingly gritty film in a genre that tends to wallow in cutesiness. Lawrence won an Oscar as the young woman who is has made a lot of mistakes but uses dance to turn her life around; Cooper's equally good as the troubled man who thinks he wants his wife, when what he really needs is a fresh start. This movie involves the Philadelphia Eagles and dance - how could I not love it? Language, violence, and frank discussions of mental illness makes this not for kiddies, but adults who are looking for something different in a romantic comedy or who just want to watch something uplifting and yet not to sweet will really enjoy it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Great to Be a Traveler

Brrr! It was chilly and very windy when I headed out today. I had a lot that I wanted to do, starting with a volunteering session at the Oaklyn Library. I got in around 10:30. They'd only been open a half-hour, and needless to say, there wasn't much going on. There weren't even many people on the computers. I mostly organized the DVDs. Gave the kids' books a cursory glance, but they seemed to be in order.

I next rode up to Barrington to catch the bus to Deptford. I learned my lesson on my last excursion to Deptford in April. I was just going to stick to browsing Target and AC Moore this time and not even bother with the mall. I really couldn't find anything in the mall that I couldn't pick up at those two stores or in the closer Cherry Hill Mall or Voorhees Town Center.

I just made it with barely three minutes to spare. I picked up the bus around quarter of noon. The lunch traffic hadn't picked up at that point, and the bus was barely half-full. There were no problems getting there.

Target wasn't busy when I arrived, either. I spent about an hour or so browsing. While I'm not a big fan of Target's cheap clothes (barely a step above Wal Mart's), I like their prices and selection on a lot of other items. I always get my underwear there - their prices are about the same as Wal Mart's, and with far more selection (and they actually keep them in stock). Also grabbed a Playtex undergarment on sale.

As Matt of Dinosaur Dracula could tell you, one of the best things about Target is their large and extensive seasonal aisles. From Valentine's Day to Christmas, I never fail to walk out of there without at least one really nifty seasonal item. This trip was no exception. I'd never seen Pillsbury's new Caramel Apple Cake Mix in any store near Oaklyn, including mine. They had a cookie mix too, but the cake mix was cheaper. Found one of the first season Backyardigans sets, It's Great to Be a Ghost, in with the Halloween DVDs. Also snagged a small bottle of canola oil for $1.87 - the Acme's is $2.99! I didn't have as much luck with Halloween costumes. It's too late in the season for those - everything was picked over.

(And for those of you who are Dinosaur Dracula regulars, yes, I found the retro Monster Cereal boxes, including Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy. They had quite a few of them, too. No, I didn't buy any. I don't eat sugary cereal, and I don't have the room to keep and preserve them. I was glad to have seen them in the flesh, so to speak, though. The older-style designs are pretty cool, especially for Boo Berry.)

Went across the parking lot for lunch. I was originally going to eat at Pizza Hut, but to my dismay, a sign on their front door stated that they no longer had their lunch buffet. Darn it! Disappointed, I went next-door to Applebee's instead. I had their $6.99 classic mix lunch combo meal. I ended up with a spinach salad with bacon and "Grilled Chicken Wonton Tacos," which turned out to be grilled chicken in wontons fried to be shaped like tacos, topped with cheese and slaw. Yow! The salad was delicious (especially the vinaigrette dressing), but the tacos were much too spicy for me. I don't know what sauce they used, but it wrecked havoc on my mouth. I gulped my whole glass of water.

I was starting across the parking lot to AC Moore when I heard a familiar voice. A neighbor in Oaklyn who also frequently shops at the Acme was running some errands in Deptford. Did I want a ride? Sure, why not? We talked about her dogs and my family on the very short trip over to AC Moore.

The AC Moore is in a shopping center that includes a Babies R Us and what I think was a K-Mart (like the one in Lawnside, it went under and the building is now empty). It turned out to be a really big store, three times the size of the former JoAnn's in Westmont. I spent another pleasant hour browsing around there. Much to my delight, they did have Springfield Collection doll things - not just the clothes (though they had tons of those), but shoes, dolls, accessories, and furniture, too. I just bought glasses for Molly - I'll save larger doll items for Christmas. I was a bit disappointed to see that they were already clearing their Halloween items, even as I was walking down the aisles. They did have a nice selection of Thanksgiving decorations (I seldom see much for Thanksgiving), and already plenty for Christmas. In addition to the glasses, I bought adhesive-backed foam and headbands to make adult-sized Winnie the Pooh ears for my Halloween costume.

I walked back to Target. It remained windy, but the sun was now hidden behind clouds that looked like they kind of didn't know what they were doing. I was hoping to go around the bridge over the freeway, but alas, there was only freeway on three sides. I just trooped over the bridge, ignoring the wind blasting across the sidewalk and enjoying the warmth of the sun when it finally emerged from the clouds.

I had to go to the bathroom anyway, so I went back in Target. Browsed around some more. Picked up peanut butter. I forgot it earlier, and their generic natural brand is far cheaper than Smucker's or Crazy Richard's. They even have chunky - the Acme doesn't carry Smucker's natural chunky, and they no longer have their own generic natural peanut butter brand.

I picked up the bus across the street from Target, in front of another empty building (it was a Bally's Gym a few years ago). Turns out that I could have just stayed at AC Moore and crossed the street there - there was a bus sign there. They even picked up someone. I'll remember that for my next trip into Deptford.

When I finally got back into Barrington, I grabbed my bike and went as straight home as I could. It wasn't easy. It was almost 5PM, right in the middle of rush hour. Both of the Pikes and Clements Bridge Road were busy, and even some back roads weren't easy to navigate. I didn't pull into the apartment until past 5:30.

I just had leftovers for dinner while watching It's Great to Be a Ghost. The first two episodes did have genuine horror themes (which is why this was included in the Halloween section). The title show had Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone as ghosts in a haunted house who hope to spook fearless Tasha. Uniqua and Pablo are enjoying their spooking, but the whole idea just makes Tyrone nervous. It takes a costume to get him "in the spirit" of things. "Monster Detectives" has Pablo as the title character, a monster who has stolen Uniqua's soccer ball. Uniqua and monster detective Tyrone are on the case. The pair search the "monster's" castle for the ball, but they have to be quiet - if they're caught by the "monster," he'll turn them into monsters, too!

I had seen the other two episodes on the disc, but not recently. Tasha is spoiled Princess CleoTasha, the ruler of Egypt, in "The Key to the Nile." Tasha's always been rather bossy, but here she's very rude, too. She never says "please" or "thank you" to her pages Austin, Tyrone, and Pablo, even when the boys retrieve the presents she needs to give to Sphinx Uniqua to find out why the Nile ran dry. Uniqua finally reminds her best friend of the importance of good manners and being kind to others. Uniqua and Austin and Pablo and Tyrone race to find "Pirate Treasure," then work together when they realize they have two halves of the same map.

I finished the night in the bath. Lauren got a job working at her local Macy's for a couple of nights a week, so I thought I'd get in later than usual and go for longer. It was a great idea. A hot bath felt so nice and soothing after my long trip.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Too Late the Heroes

I slept in a lot later than I wanted to today. I didn't get out to the laundromat until 12:30! By the time I got there, it was almost 1. Thankfully, it wasn't busy. I didn't really have a huge load anyway. It was mostly couples and the afternoon manager doing clothes. I hurried out by quarter of 2...and I had to work at 3.

I did finish Young Justice during breakfast. Very interesting show, and a very hard-to-follow one. There were just too many darn characters here. I'm really going to have to go back and look up the rest of this. I really wish DC hadn't ended this one after the second season. I think they had something really awesome going on, and they could have done a lot more with it.

The "extras" on the second DVD turned out to be episodes of Static Shock, one of the characters who turned up in Young Justice. I have some fond memories of encountering this one occasionally on the KidsWB when I was in college. Virgil is a normal, slightly dorky young teen living in a normal city with his dad and older sister. When caught up in a gang war, Virgil and both gangs are accidentally doused by a gas that seems to give them super powers. While Virgil uses his newfound electrical powers for good causes (and to show off in front of the cute girls at school), the other gang members use them to commit crimes and do as much damage as possible. Virgil does his best to keep up at school, hide his new identity, and prove that not all "bang babies" are crazy criminals. I hope there's more of this show around somewhere - it always was fun, and it brings back some fond memories.

Work wasn't too bad when I got in, but it became a bit of a pain later. Someone in the meat department accidentally slapped the yellow and red labels for the 4 for $20 meat sale on the wrong packs of chicken. You have to buy four items to get the sale, which mean we had to add up the four packs to figure out what to take off. One woman gave me a very hard time about it, saying I didn't take enough off when I knew I did. Another woman gave me a hard time about us not needing cards for the sales. She insisted that it wasn't true and I should put her card through anyway, even though she only had two small packages of deli meat that wouldn't have needed the card for the sale under any circumstances.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So Complicated

Started off a late morning with more Young Justice as I had breakfast, then baked Honey Squares from my British baking book. I really with the libraries had more of this show. There's a lot of complex plots going on here, from an alien's attempt to use a huge moon-sized war machine to invade the Earth to four kids (including one I recognize as Static Shock from the KidsWB show that ran in the early 2000s, when I was in college) breaking out of a lab where they were used as test subjects and falling under the authority of Lex Luthor. The kids actually end up rescuing the rest of the Justice League...but it gets Arsenal (young Green Arrow) in trouble. And then there's the group who have infiltrated big bad guy team "The Rush" and "The Light" and are desperately trying to keep their cover.

I'm enjoying this...but I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I'd come in a lot earlier. This is one of those shows where you really need to see all of the episodes to know exactly what's going on. I'll have to look it up online.

Work was really rather dull today. It was only busy during rush hour. Otherwise, it was quiet when I came in and quiet when I left. I had absolutely no problems getting out (with a bag of new uniform shirts - don't get excited, they look just like the old ones) whatsoever.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Fairy Tales

I slept in today, until past 10:30. Considering I didn't sleep well over the weekend and had no really huge plans for this morning, I needed it. I didn't head out until after 1. When I finally did, I encountered a gorgeous day. The sun was out, the breeze was blowing, and it was probably in the lower-mid 60s, perfectly normal for mid-October in Southern New Jersey.

Newton River Park was understandably busy. I dodged lots of dog-walkers and people out for a stroll. The park looks beautiful at this time of year. The trees are finally starting to turn colors. The water is clear and sparkling, with none of the algae that marred its surface during the summer.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't busy when I arrived. It was almost 1 - most people were probably returning to work after lunch. Since I had the time this week, I did a thorough organizing of the kids' DVDs, shelved the adult DVDs, and cleared out anything that didn't belong on the adult DVD shelves. Made quite a few good finds for myself, too. Among the kids' sets, I picked up the Disney Fairies short Pixie Hollow Games, the newest Barbie As special Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess, and Volume 2 of the second season of the DC superhero series Young Justice. My adult movie choices were the Alfred Hitchcock film Suspicion and the Oscar-nominated romantic comedy-drama The Silver Linings Playbook.

It was 2:30 by the time I finally made it out. It was too late to go out to eat, but I did need to stop for a few things at Thriftway. They had a basket of what looked like large squares of pizza for a dollar from the deli sitting right near the door. I thought that would be a great quick lunch and grabbed a square, along with shredded mozzarella cheese on sale. Also restocked canned tomato sauce (theirs is cheaper than the Acme's), sugar (on a really good sale), and sponges (not on sale, but it would save me a trip to Dollar Tree).

When I finally got in, I ran Pixie Hollow Games as I topped my pizza with cheese, broccoli, and mushrooms and waited for it to cook. Pixie Hollow Games isn't a movie, but a short special that was probably intended to be run during the Summer Olympics. The Garden Fairies have never gotten close to winning the Pixie Hollow Games. Vain southern belle Rosetta is chosen by perky Chloe to be her partner in the Games. Chloe is determined to show that garden fairies can be more than pretty faces. Rosetta, who hates dirt and being dirty, doesn't want to play along at first. When she's insulted by the reigning champ storm fairies, she finally becomes determined to really show what a garden fairy can do.

The first Disney Fairies animated story to revolve around a character besides Tinker Bell (who does appear briefly to fix up Rosetta and Chloe's vehicle in the final race), this is really rather cute. I like how Rosetta goes from being afraid to touch a frog to insisting on being the driver in the last race and finally getting down and dirty. Look around for it if you or your daughter is a Disney Fairies fan (and you didn't get it on the Secret of the Wings Blu-Ray).

Stayed with fairies and switched to Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess as I finished lunch and did chores around the apartment, including sweeping a leaves-laden porch. This is a continuation of the last episode in the Fairytopia series, which involved the adventures of a butterfly fairy named Mariposa. Mariposa loves to read and explore, but was discouraged from both pursuits by the other butterfly fairies...until she saved their queen and opened their eyes to the wider world.

Now a librarian and royal historian, Mariposa has been summoned by the queen as the ambassador to near-by Shimmervale. An ancient disagreement between the crystal fairies and the butterfly fairies had made the two bitter enemies, but the queen would like to mend old wounds. Mari's not sure she can. Both kingdoms are under the impression that the residents are horrible monsters, thanks to years of gossip and stories circulating. The king is more interested in amassing an army to protect his borders than in peace, but his shy daughter Catiana is also a huge reader and becomes instant friends with Mari. After Catiana tells the story of how she hurt her wings, thanks to a vengeful old fairy, Mariposa becomes determined to prove to the king and his kingdom that the best way to make a friend is to be a friend...and you can't be a friend by hiding and living in ignorance.

As with Pink Shoes in the spring, this was a big improvement over last year's so-so Princess and the Popstar. I didn't see the original Mariposa, but I did enjoy her second adventure. The colors are amazing - Shimmervale is so incredible, no wonder Mariposa was impressed. And as someone who loves to read and has run headlong into ignorance and malicious gossip more times than she cares to admit, I really appreciated the message of the importance of learning all the facts before you pass judgement on someone and on being a good friend, no matter what the circumstances.

Hopped in the bath after Mariposa ended. Ahhhh. That felt nice. I kicked back, read Something More, and listened to Lena Horne. I haven't really been happy since I left college. I've never felt like my life was quite complete. I'm just not sure what would be right to complete it. I want a real job, but I'm too scared to talk to offices or businesses. I start things, but I don't finish them. I get nervous around people. I want to be a friend, but I don't know what to say or how to start. I have no idea what women my age who aren't married do for fun or how they meet people.

After I got out of the tub, I put on Young Justice while turning the leftover Italian Chicken with Tomatoes into Italian Chicken Soup with the addition of farm market vegetables and more water. This seems to be a variation on Teen Titans, with the addition of Superboy and Nightwing and more obscure younger characters like Blue Beetle, Arsenal (young Green Arrow), and Miss Martian (young female Martian Manhunter). I wish the library had the rest of this series. The set up is certainly intriguing, especially the treatment of poor Blue Beetle, who had a scarab attach itself to him that has been telling him to do some very nasty things...and may lead him to cause a great deal of death.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'm Only Tired

I got up earlier than I usually do on a Sunday. I wish I hadn't. I was still tired when I put on Brunch With the Beatles. "The Beatles in 1970" was the theme today, which means mostly music from Let It Be and Abbey Road and John and Paul's earliest solo albums. I have a soft spot for Let It Be. Despite the chaos surrounding its creation, some of my favorite Beatles songs are on that album, including the title song, "Across the Universe," and "The Two of Us." I tried calling Mom after I finished my Gingerbread Pancakes, but she was busy running errands and getting ready for the big Eagles/Cowboys game. I'd call her back later.

Went to work even before the Beatles show was over. Work was busy when I arrived, and remained so, even after the game began. We were having a big promotion. Anyone who wore an Eagles jersey would get 10 % off their order. People are starting to turn in the stickers to get free dishware, too. The trouble was, I was so tired, I felt overwhelmed. I messed up a lot of orders, and there was too much going on for me to do anything else.

I hurried home as soon as I could. I saw a little of the game on the TV in the Acme's back room. The verdict wasn't good at all. Not only had the Eagles' young quarterback Nick Foles played badly, but he got hurt in the third quarter and had to be replaced by a rookie with no experience. The Eagles lost after an embarrassingly bad game, 17-3.

I made a short walk in the park next-door after the game ended. I was rather surprised to see a blacktop "walking path" leading up to and around the garden area. I don't like it. I always enjoyed how natural and unspoiled the park was. I don't mind the garden so much, but that "walking path" is a big blacktop road. Couldn't they have done some dirt walking road around the perimeter of the park that would have been less intrusive? What about the egg hunts for the kids at Easter? Or the Girl Scouts' Halloween games?

I was tired and not in a wonderful mood when I finally talked to Mom. She's not terribly happy, either, and not just because of the Eagles' game. She's been hearing things she doesn't like about Dad, who can have a terrible temper when he wants to. And they don't have the money to finish the remodeled downstairs area - they won't add heat or mud for sheet rock or outside work until spring. On the other hand, they did get a huge window to replace the garage door downstairs, and a beautiful new front door.

Mom said she was going to do some baking, including a pumpkin pie and chocolate chip cookies for her grandsons. I wasn't up for making pie crusts, but I thought something pumpkin might be nice. I made Baked Pumpkin Pudding, and then beans with pasta and vegetables for dinner while listening to children's records.

The Peter Pan Wonder Woman album I bought yesterday features two rather odd stories, one about Wonder Woman stopping the War God from allowing assassins to kill UN ambassadors, the other a rather awkward tale about a race of alien women who expect men to be subservient. The Story of Johnny Appleseed is Disney's take on the life of the kind-hearted pioneer who traveled the midwest planting apple seeds, with all the music and narration performed by Dennis Day. Mickey Mouse Disco is one of Disney's earliest "characters spoof the hip genre" albums from the late 70s and 80s. This one is naturally a dance song satire; my favorite numbers are "Welcome to Rio" for Jose Carioca and a well-done remake of "Zip-De-Doo-Dah." I continued with Disney, this time going to an LP of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too that, other than one addition song and some more narration from Sebastian Cabot, sounded like it was lifted straight from the featurette.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Harvest Time

It was cloudy and tad humid when I got up this morning. The clouds started to break up a bit as I played this week's American Top 40 re-run. Casey returned us to the 80s as we made our way into mid-October 1982. Hits that fall included "Abracadabra" by The Steve Miller Band, "Gloria" by Laura Brannigan from the Flashdance soundtrack, "Eye In the Sky" by The Alan Parsons Project, "I Ran" by A Flock of Seagulls, "Heart Attack" by Olivia Newton-John, "Heartlight" by Neil Diamond, "Gypsy" by Fleetwood Mac, and "Break It to Me Gently" by Juice Newton. John Cougar (later Melloncamp) had the top spot that week with one of his earliest and most iconic hits, "Jack and Diane."

I headed out as soon as "Jack and Diane" ended. There was a lot going on this week, including a ton of yard sales. I didn't need to run up to Haddon Heights to find them this time. I passed by at least two in Oaklyn and one in Collingswood just on my way to the Farm Market. Didn't find anything at the ones in Oaklyn, but I did get a blank journal for a dollar from the Collingswood sale.

The Farm Market was bustling, even as several booths disappeared, and others are on their last weeks. The Farm Market will probably only be open for another month or so. The Saturday before Thanksgiving is usually their last week. Despite this, the fall harvest is at its height. Tons of people were buying greens, squash, beans, tomatoes, eggplants, cranberries, apples, pears, radishes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts for their sports parties and cold-weather meals. I didn't really need much this week. Just bought pears (bosc this time; the bartletts I bought last week got mushy too fast), tiny gala apples, mushrooms, and an onion.

(There were fire trucks on Atlantic Avenue as I did my shopping, much to the delight of several children. I have no idea what was going on. I didn't see any smoke. Someone said they saw the fire fighters go into a house; I hope everyone was ok.)

Spent the rest of the morning riding around Collingswood, Haddon Township, and Audubon. My first stops were three yard sales in the neighborhood behind Haddon Avenue, across from Yogawood. The first sale on Woodlawn Terrace had three boxes of awesome records. I ended up with:

Jimi Hendrix - The Essential Jimi Hendrix

Carole King - Her Greatest Hits: Songs of Long Ago

George Benson - Shape of Things to Come

A Peter Pan book-and-record with two Wonder Woman stories

A yard sale a few streets down advertised a huge collection of vintage dolls, including AG items. I was disappointed when I arrived. Most of the dolls were vintage but were in lousy shape. There were a Felicity, Kirsten, and Samantha in decent shape...but she wanted $100 per doll. They weren't in THAT great of a condition. The few AG things she had left were mostly for the "Bitty Baby" baby dolls. I did get Josefina's straw summer hat (packaged with a rose wreath, for some reason) for $10.

Headed down to Haddon Township next for a block sale on Belmont, then down to Kraft Court across from the Rite Aid in Westmont. No luck in either place. A sale on South Barrett in Audubon didn't have much, either. I had more luck with a church yard sale in Haddon Township a block from the the Clyde S. Jennings Elementary School. This sale yielded a coffee-table book from Reader's Digest called 20th Century: The Way We Lived, an adorable Polite Panda Care Bear (I know I've been trying to avoid the Care Bears, but Polite and her brother Perfect are hard to find...and Polite is a talking bear, though she only says one phrase), a candy corn and pumpkin-topped cupcake, and some nice conversation with the older women running the bake sale.

Since it was on my way home, I made the Oaklyn Library my next stop. They were fairy busy with people on the computers, possibly because of the in-and-out cloudy weather. I mostly organized the DVDs and the kids' books. With nothing to shelve, I was out in a little over a half-hour.

When I got in, I had the last of the chocolate muffins and an apple for lunch, then swept the porch. The porch really, really needed it. Though the trees haven't really shown it, it is fall, and the leaves are starting to come down in great numbers. The acorn crop is really heavy this year, too.

Dubbed Kid Millions as I ate and did my chores. This 1934 Eddie Cantor/Goldwyn extravaganza was the first of two Goldwyn musicals to pair him with, of all the unlikely people, Ethel Merman. Merman is a singing shop girl whose sleazy boyfriend wants to take her to Egypt to collect the money of her ex-lover, an archaeologist who recently died and left 77 million dollars in his will. Cantor is the true heir, a gentle Brooklyn resident who is beloved by local kids but constantly bullied by his adopted brothers. When Cantor heads for Egypt to get his millions, Merman and her man follow and somehow convince Eddie that Merman is his mother. (Don't ask how.) Also on Eddie's trail are a southern gentleman, his daughter (Ann Southern), and her swain (George Murphy). When they do finally get to Egypt, Eddie runs afoul of a sultan who considers the money to be cursed and his own unmarriable daughter. It'll take all of Eddie's own cunning and good luck to keep him and the others out of the stew pot and get the ice cream factory of his dreams.

Strange, but generally cute. This is my first encounter with Cantor's vehicles beyond a few moments of Whoopee! I've caught online. You really need to be a fan of his frantic, pop-eyed brand of humor to be able to enjoy these. A nice Irving Berlin score and a good supporting cast (though Merman and Southern are underused) help. While the "Mandy" minstrel number is far from PC (Cantor wears his traditional blackface), it does feature an early performance by a very young Nicholas Brothers. Also watch out for that crazy Technicolor finale in the ice cream factory.

This is one of only two Cantor-Goldwyn musicals currently on DVD (Whoopee! is the other). If you're a fan of Merman, Cantor, or the fanciful Goldwyn musicals, head to the Warner Archives and check this one out. 

Since the weather was holding out, I went for a walk to CVS for brush picks after the movie ended. While it wasn't the sunniest day in creation, it was breezy and relatively warm for mid-October, probably into the mid-60s. I wasn't the only one out and about. I saw little boys on bikes, parents chatting on lawns, and others doing lawn work or playing games with their kids. Fall flowers - mums, asters, the last of the roses - and Halloween decorations are out in full-force now, too. While most people in Oaklyn settle for pumpkins and wreaths with fall flowers, some go all out and festoon their front lawns with skeletons, graves, fake cobwebs, headless brides, and other gruesome sights.

CVS itself was actually rather busy. Good thing all I needed was brush picks. There was a line, and there didn't seem to be much help. I hurried straight home after that.

I was tired out from my trip yesterday and this morning's bike ride. I spent the rest of the day inside. I made CranApple Muffins (replaced part of the brown sugar with honey - yum, so sweet and moist), had salmon in red wine vinegar sauce with mushrooms and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner, and dubbed the 12-chapter serial Zorro's Fighting Legion. This interesting continuation of the Zorro stories has the famous masked Californian fighting in a newly created Mexico with a band of men he calls his "Legion." They're up against Don Del Oro, a huge god-like-statue who has convinced the local Indians to rebel. Zorro believes that one of the other men on the council with him are really Don Del Oro. He dodges a runaway carriage, a flash flood in a cave, and lots of explosions to discover just how human this "god" is.

I've enjoyed the three Republic serials I've dubbed, and this one was no exception. There was a lot of nice work in this delightful tale, especially from Reed Hadley as Zorro himself. A must for any serial fan, especially those who love historic westerns or Zorro tales.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Travels to the Town Center

What better way could there be to begin a gorgeous, sunny fall morning than with a classic Halloween special? It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the Peanuts' second-most popular special after the original Christmas story. Linus wants to spend Halloween in a "sincere" pumpkin patch to await the Great Pumpkin, who brings toys to all the good children on Halloween night. A love-struck Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown has his own problems with trick-or-treating and the party afterwards. Snoopy's too busy fighting World War I to pay much attention to Halloween festivities.

After a quick stop at WaWa for money and a bottle of water, I picked up the bus to the Voorhees Town Center. This is one of four local large malls, and the most changed in the past few years. Originally the Echelon Mall, somewhere around 2007, Voorhees decided the mall was too much in the middle of nowhere to compete with Cherry Hill and Deptford and converted it into a half-traditional mall, half "life center," with condos, restaurants, office buildings, and a cosmetology school.

The Voorhees branch of the Camden County Library System turned out to be on the same street as the office buildings, directly across from the mall's Food Court entrance. The two-story building was much larger than most of the fairly small libraries closer to home, including the Haddonfield and Haddon Township libraries. It was also very busy. While there was no line, the sale's popularity was reflected in the mountains of boxes stacked on either side of the main lobby as I entered.

I was there for about an hour. I never did find the kids' tables. Actually, there was less there than I'd hoped. This was a three-day sale, and I suspect many people may have come yesterday before or after work. I did manage to make a few good discoveries:

Two videos to dub, the musicals Cabin In the Sky and Kid Millions

Two records, the original Broadway cast albums for the 50s/early 60s shows Plain and Fancy and The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Four books: Another Sarah Ban Breathnach self-help book Something More: Excavating the Authentic Self, the Peanuts comics collection Thank Goodness for People, a Reader's Digest collection of fairy tales, and Christmas With Southern Living 1990

All of this cost me 8 dollars all together - they threw in the records for free. : D

I headed back over to the Voorhees Town Center after I finished at the library. It was hard to choose where to eat at their Food Court. There still wasn't a whole lot there, though there was more than there had been the last time I was there in 2008. I ultimately went with Qdoba Mexican Grill, a slightly more upscale eatery that specialized in fast and tasty southwestern fare. While I did enjoy the chicken quesadila, the tortilla soup proved to be too spicy for more than a few quick slurps.

I strolled around the mall for the next hour or so. The actual mall section of the Voorhees Town Center isn't nearly as big or as populated as some of the other local malls, but it does still have that huge Hallmark where I found the WebKinz Bat in October 2008 when Amanda was visiting. And yes, the Hallmark remains one of the few stores in the Camden County area with a huge selection of WebKinz. I chose a handsome WebKinz Rockerz Horse, a blue paisley fellow with a country-western theme. His name is Hank - he comes with a nifty "Grand Ol' Opry" barn and stage.

I next spent some time wandering around Boscov's. (There's also a Macy's, but I figured I could see that anywhere.) Boscov's is one of the few locally-owned department store chains left in the US. I absolutely adored this one. It seemed to have been spared the remodeling that updated the rest of the mall, and I loved it. All the neon signs and mirrored walls reminded me of the (now defunct) Rio Mall of my childhood in Rio Grande. And unlike Macy's or JCPenney's, who mostly just sell clothes, makeup, and linens, Boscov's sells EVERYTHING - clothes, linens, furniture, makeup, accessories, shoes, kids' stuff, toys, seasonal items, pet items. They even had a candy counter! Despite some decent sales, I didn't see anything I couldn't live without and left with nothing.

I headed home around quarter of 3. It took me a while to find the entrance where the bus picked up passengers. I forgot it's upstairs, which is mostly Voorhees Township offices and offices for other "services" like Liberty Travel. I hiked all around the mall, down the "Boulevard" where the restaurants are, and back over a hill. I made it with ten minutes to spare.

Other than some traffic on the White Horse Pike, the bus trips to and from the Town Center were quick and uneventful. When I got in, I put everything away and prepared my grocery list while running the other Peanuts special on the disc, You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. Linus is in the running for class president, but he may blow his chances when he brings up his Great Pumpkin obsession in his final speech.

I only needed a few things at the Acme, mainly stock-up items like cream of mushroom soup and flour. The real reason I was there was to get my schedule, since I'm off tomorrow, too. It's pretty par for the course for this time of year - one 9PM night, two early days. I'm a little disappointed that one of those early days is Saturday - I could probably squeeze a farm market run in, but I won't be able to hit up any yard sales.

When I got home, I enjoyed the Crock Pot Ham and Potatoes that I started before I left for the Voorhees Library, along with steamed broccoli, for dinner while watching a spooky episode of Wonder Woman from the second season. Diana Prince is in hot water when three ambassadors from an importance peace conference disappears under her watch in "Seance of Terror." The three were lured by a little boy who can take photos of them with departed loved ones. His aunt and uncle hold a false "seance" to make them believe that their loved ones want them to call off the peace talks...but why? And is that little boy really psychic?

I went straight in the bath after dinner. That felt nice. It was just me, the warm water, and Something More. I've wanted so much more for years. I know I can be more than just a cashier. I just wish I could find authenticity and still earn the money to live on my own.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whip-Crack Away!

I had no real plans for this morning, so I slept in and spent most of it finishing Anne of the Island. This is the third Anne of Green Gables book. Anne's off to college in big-city Kingsport with her friend Priscilla and her long-time guy pal Gilbert Blythe. The book switches back and forth between Anne's world of friendship and lovely little cottages in Kingsport and the quieter world of Avonlea. Anne's not happy with many of the changes in her beloved home town, from the death of a childhood schoolmate to several marriages. Then Gilbert declares his feelings for her, and she has to decide if she's ready for love.

A charming entry into the series...but by all means, if you've never entered Anne's world before, please begin with the classic first book Anne of Green Gables.

Switched to the tale of another energetic and unusual young woman during brunch. We move out west to the Dakotas for one of Doris Day's best musicals, Calamity Jane. Day's the title character, a buckskin-clad, strong-willed sharpshooter and stagecoach driver who spins tall tales for the boys at the Golden Garter Saloon in Deadwood about her many adventures. When the cowboys, including Jane's buddy Wild Bill Hickcock (Howard Keel), get a crush on a tights-clad actress, Calamity heads to Chicago to hire her for the saloon. What she finds is Katie Brown (Allyn Ann McLearie), the actress' stage-struck maid. Calamity can't tell one bustle-wearing female from another and brings Katie back by mistake. Katie stays even after the mistake is found out, and she and Calamity become good friends...until they both start competing for the love of a handsome officer. Calamity's jealous at first, until she realizes her "secret love" is right under her nose.

I had this a couple of years ago, but I got rid of the video and never got around to picking up the DVD until I found it at a yard sale. This adorable western tale is something of a cross between Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun, with songs that sound like they were cribbed from both. While Keel is fine as Hickcock and Dick Wesson is particularly funny as a tenderfoot actor who gets stuck in drag at one point, this is really the ladies' show. Day throws herself wholeheartedly in the role of Jane and has tons of fun doing so. McLearie is equally enjoyable as the dainty dancer who has more steel under that bustle than one might suspect. There's a nice score, too, including the Oscar-winning "Secret Love."

Necessary for fans of Day, Keel, or musical westerns, a fun show for everyone else.

Ran some quick Backyardigans after the movie ended. Spunky pink bug-girl Uniqua delivers a message to King Austin in order to become a knight in "Knights are Brave and Strong" and fights with Tasha over what the markings in the snow really are in "The Yeti."

Work was mildly steady through rush hour, after which it died so quickly, I spent the last hour and a half doing returns. Needless to say, there were no major problems whatsoever, and I was in and out after I picked up milk.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fast Laundry

I didn't mean to sleep so late! I set the alarm for 7:30, but I closed my eyes...and when I opened them again, it was 9:30. I didn't get to the laundromat until quarter after 11! Good thing it was almost totally dead. It was mostly just me and the end of The View. I had a very small pile of laundry to do, anyway. I rushed home and wasn't even able to finish putting away all my clothes before I hurried off to work.

I just barely made it on time...and good thing. Though it wasn't bad when I came in, it was overwhelmingly busy for most of the day...and I was overwhelmed with cranky or just plain annoying people. It got really frustrating after a while. I worked right up until I left at 7 with no relief. Once again, I just barely got out on time.

I cheered myself up with a couple of episodes of Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater when I got home. Japan's favorite cute kitten made a few rare dips into the darker side of moviedom in two spoofs of some of the most famous monster stories of all time. In "Frankencat," Catnip is the title mad scientist who creates a living creature out of mechanical parts. Trouble is, those "mechanical parts" were stolen from the local village. Kitty and Police Chief Sam are determined to find out what Dr. Frankencat is up to...and what that big, ugly dog monster wants with sweet My Melody! Catnip's happier with the more glamorous villain in "Catula." The title character is a vampire who steals milk from the local town. Kitty and the others come to Catsylvania to get the real low-down on this shady countess and what she really is.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tales From the Library

Started a sunny, warm day with Good Eats episodes. Two of my favorite episodes deal with one favorite fruit of mine that's in season, and another that will be in a few months. "Cran Opening" gives recipes for one of New Jersey's biggest fruit crops (and one of my favorite fall fruits); "Orange Aid" provides tasty desserts for one of the most beloved of all citrus fruit.

I made a quick run to Westmont after Alton ended. I would have waited until my first day off on Friday, but I had DVDs that were overdue and needed to stop at Rite Aid. They have better prices on contact lens solution than the Acme, and I'm almost out. I also picked up Ricola cough drops on a really good sale.

The Haddon Township Library was very busy when I arrived, despite the nice day. There were piles of DVDs to shelve, probably thanks to the holiday weekend. For once, while I had no problems getting all of the kids' titles onto the shelves, the adult shelves were overflowing! I finally gave up after an hour and just went home. Didn't take anything out. I won't have a day off until Friday, and I have DVDs and videos I've bought from yard sales that I haven't watched yet.

When I got home, I made spinach pancakes, then tried a low-fat Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (with agave nectar instead of granulated sugar, whole wheat flour, and a little less butter than called for) and ran a spooky episode of the 30s-set Tales of the Gold Monkey. Sarah White has to face a few ghosts of her own when a trunk from her dead archeologist father arrives on Borogora Island in "Trunk From the Past." Also arriving on the island is her former fiancee, who firmly believes there's a curse on the trunk and the information about a lost Egyptian cult that her father uncovered. Jake Cutter thinks it's balderdash....until Sarah starts seeing strange visitors, including one with the head of an Egyptian dog god.

The cookies took longer than I planned. I barely made it to work on-time. I probably could have taken all night. We were fairly quiet for most of the evening, and never more than mildly steady, even during rush hour. There were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Discovering the Bath

I actually spent most of my Columbus Day at work. I started work at 11, which is much earlier than I have been lately. I think a lot of employees may have gone away for the weekend. I don't think most of our customers followed them. It was steady for most of the afternoon. Parents who would normally have been working and had kids at school were taking advantage of the day off to get their shopping done and amuse the kids at the same time. There were a lot of big orders and a lot of noisy folks. Thankfully, the day went very fast. My relief was on time, and I was in and out with no problems.

Went right in the bath when I got home. I couldn't decide if I wanted to or not, since I got off at 5. I finally decided it would be worth it. I was right. Even though I was only in for about 40 minutes, it still felt great. I listened to the Reader's Digest Operetta set and read through The Christmas Almanac for holiday gift and decorating ideas.

After I got out, I made tilapia with Farm Market mushrooms and steamed broccoli for dinner while watching one of the Bowery Boys movies. Sach dreams that he and the Boys head west in "Bowery Buckaroos" to clear Louie's name and find a lost gold mine. Their pal Gabe goes on ahead and discovers that the bandit who framed Louie is still operating a saloon in town...and still looking for that mine. While Gabe romances a pretty and smart cowgirl, the others look for the mine and a way to get the bandit to confess.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Eagles Swash the Buccaneers

I wasn't feeling great when I went to bed last night. My temperature had risen, my head was hot but my legs were cold, and I kept drinking and drinking water. I awoke late this morning sweaty but with less of a fever. My head was still congested and I was still a bit tired, but my throat wasn't as sore, and I wasn't hot.

Pre-empted the Beatles show in favor of the remaining two Backyardigans episodes as I made Pear-Spice Pancakes for breakfast. Uniqua is a librarian in Veja, California who becomes "The Masked Returner" when a book is overdue in a Zorro spoof. When Don Austin, the most important guy in Veja, won't return a book he's borrowed, it's the Masked Returner who makes sure he renews that library book! Tyrone, Uniqua, and Pablo go "To the Center of the Earth" when Tyrone loses his lucky penny and the other two take him into the Earth's core to track it down.

I had work a little earlier than usual for a Sunday, at noon. Given the Eagles played at 1 today, you probably won't be surprised to hear that it was busy when I came in and steady for the rest of the afternoon. I took cold medicine to keep my stuffed-up nose at bay, but otherwise, there were no problems, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I had leftover chicken and tomatoes and Brussels sprouts with spinach, then called Mom...who was eating dinner and said she'd call back. When she did, we had a nice little chat. My sister Rose and her son Khai came down to Cape May County to visit yesterday. Rose wanted to take Khai to the popular (and free) Cape May County Zoo and thought he'd like to see his nana. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sunny Day Surprise

It was still cloudy out when I awoke this morning. However, the porch was mostly dry. It looked like it hadn't rained in a long time, probably since I got home last night. It was still very windy, though. I read Anne of the Island (the fourth Anne of Green Gables book) while listening to this week's American Top 40 re-run.

We danced back five years to mid-October 1977, as R&B, country, and pop sneaked in amid the disco. Hits from that fall included "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "That's Rock n' Roll" by Sean Cassidy, "It Was Almost Like a Song" by Ronnie Milsap, "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, "Break Out!" by The Commodores, "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon, "Slow Dancin' (Swayin' to the Music)" by Johnny Rivers, and a disco rendition of "The Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" by Meco, from that year's biggest blockbuster movie.

Though Star Wars ruled the movie theaters that year, one of the year's biggest songs, from a much quieter film, began it's very long stay at #1 that week. "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone was such a sensational smash, it would remain in the top spot through the rest of the year and the first few weeks of 1978 and ultimately win the Oscar for Best Song.

It was still a bit cloudy and very windy as I headed out for this week's farm market/yard sale run. The clouds started to break up as I crossed the White Horse Pike in Oaklyn. By the time I was checking out a yard sale in Collingswood, the clouds were slowly disappearing. They never quite left entirely, but they weren't anywhere near as threatening as they have been for the past few days.

The surprisingly nice weather was reflected in a very busy Farm Market. The fall harvest continues to make its debut, as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Bartlett pears, and all kinds of greens replace corn and cucumbers. I also got my first indications that the Farm Market only has about a month and a half left before it ends for the year. One booth was missing entirely (though that one may have been scared off by the weather), and the farm that specializes in corn mentioned that this was their final day. I ended up with tiny Gala apples, carrots, a tomato, cranberries, and the aforementioned Brussels sprouts and Bartlett pears.

My next stop was an estate sale in Haddon Township, in the neighborhood behind the woods on Cuthbert Boulevard. The gray 60s-era split-level house looked small from the outside, but the inside was lovely, with some beautiful wood walls and lots of levels. Alas, I saw nothing interesting. Most of it was glassware and appliances I couldn't carry on a bike, jewelry I couldn't afford, or Jewish music and memorabilia.

It took me a bit longer to get to Haddon Heights. They're the next town after Audubon, and they require crossing often traffic-laden King's Highway. I was hoping they were still having their fall Town-Wide Yard Sale. They're the only other town in the area besides Audubon that holds a town-wide yard sale in the spring and the fall.

As soon as I arrived, I saw a street filled with yard sales. Yes, it was on. And it was even busier than the farm market! I lost count of how many cars I dodged. Ironically, it wasn't quite as big as in the spring, once again likely due to the weather. Still, enough people put out tables that I was able to make a nice little haul:

Three more Backyardigans DVDs: Robin Hood the Clean, Escape From Fairy Tale Village, and The Tale of the Mighty Knights

One record, a Disney Christmas album - it comes with a book that has the lyrics and some really cute illustrations

Two books: a cookbook based around chocolate baked goods appropriately called Hershey's Best Loved Recipes, and The Adventures of Robin Hood, by Roger Lancelyn Green

Oh, the reason they were so busy only partially had to do with the yard sales. I discovered while buying a Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper at a local convenience-style store on Station Avenue that there was a Revolutionary War re-enactment going on in Haddon Lake Park. I saw the re-enactors as I was roaming around, looking for yard sales. They were just chatting with each other in the park at that point. At least now I know what those huge, noisy booms were around 11:30 - it was cannon fire! I thought King Kong was attacking the park or something.

I considered eating out, but I finally decided that I'd done enough riding over hills for one day and just went home. I put everything away after I got in. Had the last of the chicken casserole instead while watching Backyardigans episodes.

I managed to get some chores in between shows. I originally wanted to wash the trash and recycling canisters on Wednesday. Being called in derailed that...and then it rained for the next two days. I took advantage of Mother Nature's continuing and unexpected good mood to finally get it all done. Gave the bike a quick scrub and hose-down, too.

After I finished the scrubbing and the cans were drying on the porch, I decided to try a simple low-fat chocolate cupcake recipe from the Hershey's cookbook. I lowered the fat content even more by replacing some of the sugar with the agave nectar, the water with applesauce, and part of the white flour with whole wheat flour. Also added some of those huge Nestle's Dark Chocolate Chips. They're so big, you get lots of chocolate flavor without having to dump in the whole bag. Yuuuumm. They came out perfectly, moist and very chocolate-y!

My head had been stuffed-up all day, and by that point, I had a headache and a sore throat, too. I thought a bath might help. I slipped into a warm tub with soothing English Garden bath salts while reading Women Who Run With the Wolves. I was in for a little under an hour, and while it did seem to loosen my nose and certainly helped my sore joints and feet, it didn't do much for my headache. I discovered when I got out and stuck the thermometer in my mouth that I had a slight temperature, nothing outrageous but still slightly above normal.

I did make a simple but decent dinner. Had chicken breasts with diced tomatoes marinated in the last of the raspberry vinaigrette, whole-wheat elbow macaroni, and roasted Brussels sprouts. That was delicious, too. The chicken recipe is from Eat Up and Slim Down, a hard-back Prevention cookbook that's one of the best things Mom ever gave me.

I had continued running The Backyardigans all day. Some of my favorite episodes can be found on these three sets. By the time these discs came out in Season 3, the show was mainly doing some hilarious and frequently bizarre pop culture spoofs. Uniqua has fun with western/Lone Ranger cliches when she teaches Bandit Pablo that ping pong is no fun to play alone in "Blazing Paddles." "The Tale of the Mighty Knights" takes on rock opera and fantasy as Knights Uniqua and Tyrone, Grabbin' Goblin Austin, and Flighty Fairy Tasha chase after a very "runny" egg. Austin, Uniqua, and Tasha take on the final frontier and dodge Klingon trash thieves Tyrone and Pablo in "Garbage Trek." Tasha is a super-fast superhero with a secret identity as a photographer in "Front Page News." Pablo White wants her to get a story big enough to be on the front page, but she's too busy rescuing fellow heroes Uniqua and Tyrone to snap the shot. Austin plays Inspector Poirot in "Le Master of Disguise" as he follows mysterious criminal Pablo onto the Orient Express. With suspects like Circus Woman Tasha and Cowboy Tyrone around, it won't be easy for Austin to catch the quick-thinking penguin!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Dark and Stormy Morning

Began the day with a grocery store trip. It was just sprinkling when I headed for Audubon. I mainly needed to restock all the canned goods I've used in the past few weeks - pumpkin, navy beans, tomato sauce, chicken. They were having good sales on Cheerios and Acme's generic honey. I've never tried that Agave nectar that I've seen popping up in baking and cereal/syrup aisles as a replacement for corn syrup or sugar, and with good reason - it's normally very expensive. A coupon for Domino's version coupled with a decent sale brought it down to a far more manageable $1.99. I also used a sale and a coupon to get Smart Balance's 50/50 stick spread for $2.00.

I didn't get lucky with the weather riding home. It was still sprinkling when I started, but as I headed down the Black Horse Pike, the drops began to grow fatter. By the time I was on Kendall Boulevard in Oaklyn, I was soaked. I was dripping when I finally made it in the door.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing things online and running Halloween and spooky episodes of favorite TV shows. The Muppet Show did a horror theme twice. Vincent Price, the classy Master of Horror, delighted the Muppet monsters by appearing in one of the better episodes of the first season. Shock rock star Alice Cooper turned up during the third season in a spooky spoof of Faust-style stories as he tries to get the Muppets to sell their souls...with varying results.

Alton Brown also runs afoul of scary people and wacky spoof as he tries to teach the maker of the "worst meat pies in London" how to bake the perfect mincemeat and Shepard's pies in the Good Eats episode "Oh My, Meat Pie." Edward, Ricky, and Ricky's friends tell a round-robin horror story that turns into a spoof of horror cliches and Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde in the third season Silver Spoons story "A Dark and Stormy Night."

The rain was still pretty bad by quarter of 2. I had no choice. I had to call for a ride to work. I really hated to do it, but I'd already gotten drenched going to the Acme once. I really didn't want to get drenched again. Dad drove me to and from work tonight.

And that was the worst thing that happened the entire night. It was fairly busy when I came in at 2:30. I did returns on and off through my second break around 7:30. After that, I spent the last couple of hours of my shift just doing returns. We were that quiet later in the night. They barely needed the two kids they had on the registers. I was able to get out and call Dad with no problems. The weather was down to sprinkling again by then; there were no problems getting home.

Oh, and my schedule this week is much better. More hours, and earlier ones, including a surprising six hours on Sunday (I usually only get four - we get paid extra for Sundays). My only complaint is my next day off after tomorrow isn't until Friday, but then I have Friday and Saturday off in a row.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ain't We Got Fun?

Spent most of a gloomy, rainy morning working on a crocheting project and dubbing By the Light of the Silvery Moon. This sequel to the 1951 hit On Moonlight Bay has tomboyish mechanic Marjorie (Doris Day) awaiting the arrival of her sweetheart Bill (Gordon MacRae) from World War I. She's dismayed to discover that when he does get home, he doesn't want to get married right away. While she not-so-patiently waits for him to earn his fortune, her brother Wesley gets a little too attached to the Thanksgiving turkey, then mistakenly believes their father (Leon Ames) has fallen for a French actress who is trying to open a risque play in their town.

Just as charming the second time around. I'm especially fond of Day and MacRae's cute "Ain't We Got Fun?" right before Thanksgiving dinner and Wesley imagining himself as a detective and the French actress as an evil bank robber. If you're a fan of Day, the first film, or of Meet Me In St. Louis-style nostalgic musicals, this is recommended and quite adorable.

I wish work was that enjoyable. It was busy for a lot of the afternoon, and I got terribly overwhelmed. I forgot to check the bottom of a cart (though no one ever did tell me if they caught the person before he left). I panicked and worried after that. It did slow down enough by 6PM that I was able to hurry out without a relief.

I got incredibly lucky with the weather. It's rained on and off all day, but was only sprinkling lightly on my way to and from work. The rain didn't start coming down harder until I was long at home and online.

I thought I pulled out chicken breasts for dinner, but I couldn't find them. I improvised a pantry chicken casserole with farm market vegetables while running the rest of Broadway's Lost Treasures I. Although many of these performances from various Tony Award shows were lip-synched, they were still wonderful to see. My favorites included the entire cast of Cabaret, including original leading man Joel Gray, the original cast of Annie putting over three of the most popular numbers from the show, the energetic title song from Applause, and Barbara Harris' touching "Movie Star Gorgeous" from the three-for-one show The Apple Tree.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Dark and Gloomy Fall Skies

I slept a bit later today. I was planning on doing some research online, then running to the laundromat and the libraries, and maybe going for a bike ride. Of course, I never did most of those things. I got called into work. I wasn't happy about it, but I need the money. My original hours for this week weren't great. I did cut it down to four hours, 1 to 5. I wish they'd just schedule me when they need me, instead of all this "cutting hours" business. I'd be more appreciative of the hours if they were less disruptive of my plans.

I did run Disney's Halloween Treat to cheer me up as I got ready for work. This is Disney's version of the Halloween clip show with a mild plot - in this case, a Halloween party theme with a spooky narrator. Disney didn't do as many horror-oriented cartoons as the Tunes, but that meant they could go a little outside of the box. I've always considered the atmospheric Silly Symphony short "The Old Mill" to be spookier than many horror movies, with its calm evening slowly building into a raging storm. A segment from "Mickey's Parrot" and the full "Donald and the Gorilla" show how dealing with the unknown can even more frightening.

Work wasn't busy when I arrived. They called me in because they pulled people from the front to replace stock people who called out. Huh? Couldn't they just, I don't know, called in stock people to do that? It did get busy later on. I even discovered my blog has a fan. One of my regular customers very kindly said her husband once worked in the store and recommended my blog to her. She says I'm an excellent writer and my blog is well-done. I really appreciate her comments. It was very kind of her.

When I finally got home, I put everything away, then changed into a regular shirt, grabbed my laundry, and hurried out. It had been cloudy and windy all day and was just getting worse. The fact that it was nearly 6PM by then and also getting darker didn't help. Thankfully, the laundromat was busy, but I had no problems getting a washer or a drier. I was able to get out in less than an hour. It was dark when I walked home, but there was no rain yet.