Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunshine Girl On a Rainy Day

It was still sunny and hazy when I got up late this morning and made Dark Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes for a decadent send-off to summer. I first listened to I Had a Ball as I got my breakfast together. This 1961 musical features Buddy Hackett as a "psychiatric psychic" in Coney Island. He wants to bring together two down-and-out friends of his (Karen Morrow and Richard Kiley), but it turns out his ball really does have magical powers and has other ideas. This is more-or-less a throwback to the goofy musicals based around a star comedian that go back to the 1800s and were dying out by the early 60s. This was a flop, too old-fashioned for the 60s, but some of the music isn't bad, especially the title number for Morrow and the chorus and "The Other Half of Me" for Kiley.

Of course, the end of summer isn't the only thing people are honoring this weekend. I switched to one of the most famous musicals on working, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, while getting ready for work. This debuted in 1962, and while it also is technically a boy-meets-girl comedy, the boy, one J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse), is really more interested in is climbing the ladder of World Wide Wicket than chasing his secretary girlfriend Rosemary. The accent here is on spoofing the 60s corporate culture, from employee loyalty ("The Company Way") to sexual politics ("A Secretary Is Not a Toy," "Love From a Heart of Gold"), and yes, even the sacred "Coffee Break."

Despite it being the Sunday before Labor Day, work was dead for most of the afternoon, and never more than mildly steady. Everybody must have taken off for the Shore the moment it got hot. I was in and out with no problems.

It was hot, sunny, and humid as heck this morning. Heavy dark clouds started gathering somewhere around 4:30. It was lightly showering when I got out. The showers picked up on my way home, but not to the point I got that wet. It didn't really start storming until more than a half-hour after I got home.

As the storm raged outside, I made a simple dinner of scrambled eggs with summer vegetables and ran New Girl In Town. This 1957 Broadway show is a musical adaptation of the Eugene O'Neil drama Anna Christie. Anna (Gwen Verdon) is a former prostitute who comes back east to visit her father and his girlfriend Marthy (Thelma Ritter). She falls for a sailor who doesn't know about her checkered past. Marthy ends up spilling the beans while drunk. The sailor leaves, but Anna is willing to wait. Oddly enough, the majority of this drama isn't reflected in upbeat songs like Ritter's "Flings," "It's Great To Be Alive," "Sunshine Girl," and "At the Check Apron Ball." Although it won a number of Tonys, this one is mainly for Verdon fans or fans of traditional 50s musicals.

Incidentally, it's rained on and off all evening, though it sounds like it's off for now. The storms are supposed to continue into tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flea Markets Are Magic

It was still sunny and bright this morning when I turned on this week's American Top 40 re-run. I was 6 during Labor Day Weekend 1985. While I prepared for first grade, the rest of the US ended the summer with hard rock, pop, ballads, R&B, and dance songs. Hits that late August included "Pop Life" by Prince and the Revolution, "Invincible" by Pat Benetar, "Cherish" by Kool and the Gang, "Don't Lose My Number" by Phil Collins, "Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin, "Summer of '69" by Brian Adams, "You're Only Human" by Billy Joel, "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits, and two numbers from big summer movies, "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and the title song from St. Elmo's Fire by John Parr.

The blockbuster movie of the summer of 1985 was the classic time-traveling action comedy Back to the Future. Its soundtrack was equally popular. Huey Lewis and the News scored their first #1 song with one of their two numbers from the soundtrack, "The Power of Love."

I finally made it back to the Collingswood Farm Market after nearly two months. It was as busy as ever with people looking for fresh produce, cheese, eggs, seafood, and meat for their Labor Day barbecues. My vegetable bin was bare, and I desperately needed quite a few things. I ended up with three yellow squash, two ears of corn, white peaches (someone took the last yellow ones right before I got there), plums, carrots, a small red pepper and a small green pepper from the organic booth, a tomato, and Chinese beans.

When I got home, I put my fruit and vegetables away and went right back out again. I wanted check out the Berlin Farm and Flea Market. I took the train from Collingswood to Lindenwauld...which just missed the bus. I went across the PATCO parking lot to the Walgreens and bought a drink. Even that didn't kill much time. Thankfully, the bus was on time, and it was only a fifteen-minute ride anyway.

The bus dropped me off near a florist's shop and a vast cemetery. It was only a block or so from the cemetery to the Farmer's Market. I could see the cars and the buildings even from the White Horse Pike. It only took a minute's walk to get there.

The Berlin Farmer's Market was ENORMOUS. It was a vast barn filled with stores selling everything from dollar store junk to Amish baked goods, often at discount prices. The first store I stopped in was a huge toy store. While there were lots of cute baby dolls and fashion dolls, I didn't see much that interested me. The book store wasn't all that interesting, either...except for it sold every kind of American Girl book that had ever existed, from the just-released BeForever novel-length, illustration-less versions of the original Historical books to the oldest historical books with the tan covers. I ended up with the first mystery for Julie the 70s girl, The Tangled Web.

The other cool store I found was a used record and CD store. They had prices as low as 49 cents! It took a lot of sifting through, but I came up with these records:

The Broadway cast albums I Had a Ball (a 60s vehicle for Buddy Hackett) and New Girl In Town (musical version of Anna Christie, with Gwen Verdon in the title role)

Soundtrack for Jumbo, with Doris Day and Martha Raye

Johnny Mathis - Feelings

And a Barbara Cook concert album

I had lunch at a pizza place at the very end of the massive building. Luigi's had what amounted to rolled-up pizza slices - bread rolls filled with sausage, pepperoni, or broccoli and cheese. I went with the sausage and the broccoli. They were quite tasty; came with marinara sauce dip, too.

After I ate, I went outside to check out the Flea Market. It was MASSIVE, covering more than three quarters of the parking lot. Alas, the sellers seemed to be either shelling out bootleg DVDs and smartphone accessories or selling ancient tools and other junk even I wouldn't touch. I explored for nearly an hour but found nothing interesting.

After I went back inside, I first hit the arcade. Unlike the arcade in Atlantic City, this was one small room filled with nothing but somewhat ancient consoles. I first tried one Atari console with at least nine different games. I went with Burgertime. I haven't played that one in ages. You have to get Peter Pepper to run across the parts of the burger, knocking them into the container below, all while avoiding the eggs and hot dogs running around! I also did Crusin' World, which is a racing game with tracks set in exotic lands; I raced in Hawaii. Did surprisingly well on that. I at least finished the track.

Made a quick stop at the Amish bakery to try an oatmeal whoopee pie on my way out. Ooh, yummy. I don't often eat those for the obvious reason that they're filled with cream. was so good, nice and soft and with tons of butter cream in the middle.

It didn't take me very long to walk back over to the White Horse Pike and cross it to catch the bus home. The bus to Lindenwauld was about ten minutes late, not that surprising given it was coming from Atlantic City on Labor Day Weekend. The trip home, by bus and by train, was uneventful. There was no traffic anywhere, not even on the White Horse Pike at Oaklyn going home.

When I got in, I did more My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as I had Italian breaded chicken cutlets with leftover vegetables for dinner. Even the Ponies can't resist playing Scarlet Ponypernel in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well." Rainbow Dash loves saving other ponies, but her friends get sick of her constant bragging. When an unknown pony in a dark outfit starts saving others as well, she gets jealous and vows to be a better hero than this newcomer.

"Derring Don't" and "Read It and Weep" introduce Derring Do, Ponyville's own Indiana Jonesette. Rainbow Dash was never much of a reader, but when she's stuck in the hospital, she starts reading the action tales of Derring Do, an explorer who searches for lost treasures, and gets so caught up in the story, she tries to stay in the hospital to finish it! Then, when the author of the Derring Do books announces that her book won't be out for months, Rainbow Dash is determined to make sure that book comes out as fast as possible...and gets caught up in a wild adventure with Derring Do herself!

Friday, August 29, 2014

All Summer Long

Started an gorgeous, sunny day with the other two Garfield travel specials. Garfield In Paradise takes the fat cat, his owner, and best dog buddy to a strange tropical island, where the hotel owners make Jack Benny jokes and the natives worship 50s cars. The trio hit the great outdoors in Garfield In the Rough, much to the annoyance of the fat cat who would rather be pampered at home. The trip doesn't start well, thanks to a tiny tent and Garfield eating their food in the middle of the night....but things get really hairy when they discover that a black panther is loose in the area!

I had a lot of errands to run today, starting with volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. They weren't busy at all; only one person was on the computer when I came in. There wasn't really much to do. I organized the DVD shelves and the board books and left.

Went straight to the Acme next for this week's grocery run. Surprisingly, given this is the Friday before a holiday weekend, it wasn't any busier than it has been the past few days. I didn't really have a huge order, anyway. I mostly needed to stock up on meat; I ended up with breaded chicken cutlets, spiced chicken cutlets, ground chicken, and three of those single fish packs. I was almost out of white and brown sugar. (The 4 pound Acme generic bag of sugar is $1.89 at regular price!) Was out of cocoa, butter, and chocolate chips. Bought a bag of dried fruit to make more granola bars.

My schedule for next week is a huge improvement over the last month or so...which is also a bit of a surprise. Last year, I worked for most of the week of Labor Day. This time, I have two days off (one of them Wednesday - no waiting over a week) and only work 11 to 4 on Labor Day. I do work late Saturday, but that will allow me to get to the Farm Market with no rushing. Maybe I'll do both farm markets - we'll see how things go.

I originally wanted to try a new Mexican restaurant on the White Horse Pike a block from WaWa (it's in the same location that's housed at least six or seven different pizza parlors since I've moved here), but it doesn't seem to be open yet. I ended up having lunch at the Westmont Bagel Shop instead. I ate half of a Turkey Swiss Melt with bacon and tomatoes and attempted a cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup. I should have known that the guy who said the soup wasn't spicy didn't know what he was talking about. The soup was burning hot! Even if it wasn't spicy to him, I don't handle any kind of spicy well. I stopped at Dollar Tree just to get a small ice cream sandwich to cure the burning sensation in my mouth.

 My next stop was the Haddon Township Library. I had DVDs that needed to go back and overdue books to return. Though they were busy, there wasn't really much to shelve or organize. I did the kids' and adults' DVDs and shelved some CDs and audio books. I ended up with a new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic set focusing on Rainbow Dash, the Jerry Lewis version of The Nutty Professor (which I have seen, but not in years), and two animated movies, The Nut Job from earlier this year and the original animated The Hobbit. I also took out the last of this year's American Girl historical character mysteries I hadn't read, the Caroline story The Traveler's Tricks.

Cut through Newton Lake Park going home. It was one of the nicest summer days I ever saw. The sun was bright overhead, but there was a cool wind that kept the heat at bay. The sky was blue and the clouds were pretty and fluffy. I saw a woman reading at a picnic table and a dad with his daughter and their dog on a blanket...and decided it was too nice of a day to run home right away. I first sat at a bench to read the Caroline book, but ultimately decided it wasn't comfortable enough and ended up on a bench near the causeway between Collingswood and Oaklyn.

(And I finished the book while I was at the park. Not bad. I liked it more than Becky's mystery, but not as much as Kit's. I do agree with Linda Young that Caroline really wouldn't have been sent on such a dangerous errand in real-life, and I picked up on who the real villain was from the beginning. Other than that, it was an interesting look at travel during the War of 1812/Regency Era.)

When I did make it home, I baked those granola bars, then made chicken cutlets with mushrooms and Chinese beans and leftover tomatoes and potatoes for dinner. Ran American Graffiti as I worked. The last day of summer proves to be a memorable one for four guys living in a small Southern California town in 1962. One (Richard Dreyfuss) doesn't know if he wants to go to college or not. He ends up spending most of the night chasing a beautiful blond in a Thunderbird (Susanne Summers). The local hot rodder (Paul LeMat) gets stuck babysitting a feisty 13-year-old (MacKenzie Phillips). The school president (Ron Howard) isn't sure he wants to leave his girl (Cindy Williams). Their geek buddy (Charles Martin Smith) picks up a statuesque blond (Candy Clark), but loses his friend's car. Their adventures cruising around town are punctuated by the rock of the era and by Wolfman Jack (himself), the local DJ, whom everyone considers to be something of a mysterious figure.

Classic coming of age tale doesn't really have a plot and doesn't need one - it's all characters and their stories. If you love plotless coming of age tales like Dazed and Confused or ensemble comedies like Pirate Radio (or are a huge fan of the rock of the late 50s and early 60s), you'll probably get a kick out of this one.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Beginning of BeForever

I stayed up late last night waiting for the new items to debut on American Girl's site. A lot of people are fussing because the new items aren't like the old ones, or aren't historically accurate, or are too girlie or frilly or bright. I say...who cares? I adored the vast majority of the new clothing. Even 70s Julie, whose original outfits were mostly not to my taste, now comes in an adorable pair of bell-bottoms and a crocheted vest and finally has her own coat. Addy's new blue school dress is gorgeous. Rebecca the 1914 New Yorker looks beautiful in her new purple suit and blue Hanukkah dress. I love Kit's red-and-white Reporter Outfit (and her typewriter's back, too!).

But my biggest interest in BeForever was the return of Samantha. They retired her in 2008, much to my frustration. I was delighted when American Girl announced on their Facebook page in February that they would be bringing her back, with a whole new collection. A lot of collectors have complained that it's too modern-looking or pink or frilly. I think it's fine. I don't love pink, but I do love frilly, and Sam looks good in pink. I think they're mostly complaining about the appropriately-named Frilly Frock. I like it; love her coat and Christmas dress, too. Her "hairstyling set" comes with lovely hat that might be worth getting later. Her bike is pretty, but at 115 dollars, it's a tad too expensive to get now.

I ultimately ended up buying the new "meet" outfits (the outfits the dolls come in) for Josefina and Samantha and Samantha's Bicycling Outfit. American Girl originally put out a three-wheeled bike and bike bloomers outfit for Sam in the mid-2000s. Both were long gone by the time I got into collecting again and hard to find on eBay (and could cost over $100 on the rare times they did show up). While Samantha's new bike bloomers look more like they should belong to Julie, they're still really cute and cost a lot less than her old ones.

(And her "meet" outfit was the only new thing besides revised books Josefina got out of this release. Evidently, AG says they're going to spotlight her in the spring.)

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. Work was the same as it has been all week - quiet off and on. Most people are probably waiting for their weekend off to shop. I spent the majority of the afternoon shelving candy. By the time it got busy, my relief was coming in for me, and I was on my way out.

As soon as I got home and had a snack, I went in the bath. That felt really nice after a long work week. I haven't had a day off since last Wednesday! Thankfully, I have tomorrow and Saturday off. I'll just be running errands tomorrow, but Saturday I'd like to go to the Berlin Flea Market, which is supposed to be huge.

I just ran a Garfield special while making tilapia with leftover tomatoes and potatoes for dinner. Garfield In Hollywood takes the fat feline and his human and dog buddy to the title city when they win a pet talent contest. Garfield is determined to become a star at any cost...even if that includes leaving Jon out of the act.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ride Astronaut Ride

I spent a hot, sunny, dry morning watching Gravity and doing things around the apartment. This intense survival tale takes us into space, where Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and her chatty colleague Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are doing routine repairs on a space station. Suddenly, the space station is destroyed by a debris shower, their third colleague is killed, and Stone finds herself hurling miles out into space alone. Though she makes it to a Russian space station, it, too, is ultimately damaged. Soon, Ryan finds herself having to figure out how to navigate a damaged Chinese shuttle back to Earth when she doesn't read Chinese and can't figure out what the person on the other end of the radio is saying.

Definitely not your typical science fiction. Though some of the science has been discredited, it's still a fairly realistic depiction of what can happen up there in the real "final frontier." Bullock and Clooney do wonders with little dialogue; Bullock was Oscar-nominated. Director Alfonso Cuaron deservedly won. The backdrops are amazing; space never felt so stunning, so vast, so cold. If you enjoy Bullock or Clooney, thrillers, survival stories, or prefer your science fiction with more fact than fiction, this movie was one of 2013's biggest critical and financial hits and gets a hearty recommendation from me as well.

Work wasn't anywhere near as interesting. It was pretty much the same deal as yesterday - on and off steady, but mainly dead. There wasn't even much candy to shelve. I spent a lot of time standing around. By the end of rush hour, it slowed down enough for me to head out with no relief and no problems.

When I got home, I switched to the campier action musical The Pirate Movie. Mabel (Kristy MacNichol) is a nerdy tomboy who falls for a boy (Christopher Atkins) at a pirate festival. She tries to go after him after her friends take off with him, but she falls off the skiff she rented. Washed onshore, she dreams that she's Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, her sweetheart is the reluctant pirate Fredrick, and other people she saw at the festival are pirates, the Pirate King (Ted Hamilton), the Major General, and her sisters. Mabel learns a lesson in standing up for herself when the pirates fight the girls into a corner, and only Mabel can orchestrate the happy ending of her dreams.

I've always liked this one, but I grew up on it. It's like a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Hairspray by way of half of Mel Brooks' movies. It does, however, have a rare action heroine in feisty Mabel and some rousing action, especially towards the middle and end. Fun for fans of campy musicals, action movies with strong female characters, or pirate tales.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

American Girls and Bowery Boys Out of the Archives

This is a good week for big debuts - or re-debuts. First of all, the Warner Archives finally put out the fourth and final collection of Bowery Boys movies. My favorites in this set include two good ones from the Slip/Sach-focused mid-50s, Bowery To Bagdad and Spy Chasers, and the last one with Duke Coveletske (and the last in the series), In the Money. There's extras included this time as well - 24 trailers in their original aspect ratios. At any rate, here's the last of the Boys, for everyone who's as big of a fan of this series as Lauren and me!

The Bowery Boys: Volume Four

The American Girl historical line is being revamped starting Thursday. It's now called "BeForever." All current dolls but Caroline and Kaya will come in new outfits. All dolls will get at least one or two new outfits, and some, like Julie, Kit, or the re-released Samantha, will have almost entirely new collections. I'm very, very excited about this! I'm especially looking forward to what Samantha will have. My Samantha hasn't gotten any outfits brand-new from AG since I got her back in 1993. Josefina could stand for some wardrobe additions, too. I may also buy some of Julie's 70s collection for my very bohemian modern doll Jessa.

I spent most of the morning doing research on BeForever and what's changing or selling out. (Thankfully, most of the things AG is changing or getting rid of seems to be furniture or accessories. I bought all the outfits I wanted that were rumored to be retiring back in the spring, when I took advantage of free shipping and big sales.) Some of the items Samantha's getting look adorable, including her own bike and a new pair of biking bloomers! Now I'm glad I could never find her original three-wheeled bike and biking outfit that came out in the mid-2000s. I've also seen photos of an ice cream parlor and a beautiful canopy bed. (Alas, both of those items are probably too big for my budget and my apartment.)

Samantha and the other historical dolls aren't the only girl-oriented characters who are reemerging for a new generation. A new Sailor Moon series was apparently relaunched this summer. I haven't watched it yet, but in honor of the revival of Sailor Moon, I ran some episodes of the original show from the first and early second season. Serena and the other Soldiers learn about their lives in the Silver Millennium in "The Past Returns." Skipping ahead to the second season, the other Soldiers are brought back to help Serena when a monster attacks the movie set they're auditioning at in "So You Want to Be In Pictures."

Work was off-and-on steady for the entire four hours I was there. It was a sunny, windy, hot, dry day. Who wanted to be running around a grocery store? By the time it was picking up for rush hour, I was rushing out. My relief was on time; there were no major problems.

When I got home, I changed, had a snack, and went back out to get my laundry done. It was busy for it being nearly dinner time, but I didn't really have much laundry to do to begin with. I was able to get a washer and a drier with no problems.

I spent the rest of the evening making scrambled eggs with yellow peppers and mushrooms for dinner while watching more Bowery Boys in honor of their release. They're back to school in "Hold That Line" when a bet between snooty professors lands them at prestigious Ivy University. They stick out like sore thumbs, and the students don't know what to make of them...until Sach creates a potion in chemistry class that gives him super strength. Suddenly, he's the star of the football team and the talk of the school. Unfortunately, this makes the team's star player very jealous, jealous enough to tip off a group of gangsters who want Sach out of the way so they can win a big game.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Into the Fire

I slept in a little bit more this morning than I have been able to recently. I just made it to a late morning work shift. Work was pretty quiet for most of the day. It was sunny, windy, and hot, with no humidity. By the time the rush hour crowds were arriving, my relief was coming in for me.

When I got in, I changed, then debated what to do next. I ultimately decided to try making granola bars. I had a bag and a half of Craisins Trail Mix that have been sitting around since Lauren and I bought them in June. Dried fruit and nuts don't really go bad (especially when one bag wasn't opened), so I thought I'd finally use them for something. I used a variation on a recipe a co-worker gave me last winter. The recipe called for Bisquick, but I don't use Bisquick. I replaced the Bisquick with a cup of whole-wheat flour, a half-cup of unbleached white flour, and a tablespoon of baking powder and the cup of brown sugar with a half-cup of brown sugar and a few tablespoons of honey. Yum yum. Other than I really should have chopped the dried fruit and nuts before I dumped them in, it came out delicious, moist and sweet. It's a bit crumbly, but if it falls apart, I can just eat it in chunks.

I made Marinated Potatoes and Tomatoes using the last of the farm market produce and leftover chicken for dinner while watching the 1982 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. This British version of my favorite novel has aristocratic and seemingly ditzy Sir Percy Blakeney (Anthony Andrews) posing as the heroic title character to rescue innocent nobles from the guillotine during the early French Revolution. All of England and France wants to know who this mysterious and clever person is, especially the manipulative Chauvelain (Ian McKellen) and Blakeney's wife, Marguerite (Jane Seymour). When Blakeney discovers that the little Dauphin, the heir to the throne of France, is still alive, he becomes determined for him and his men to rescue the child. Chauvelain is just as determined that the child should remain in prison. He'll stop at nothing to capture the Scarlet Pimpernel, including using Marguerite and her brother Armand to his own ends.

Rousing good story with Andrews in particularly fine form as the Pimpernel himself. Great fun for fans of the books or swashbucklers in general.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classic Rockin' Dolls

I had a quick breakfast of Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Pancakes before heading off to work for a short and early shift. Work was busy all day, not uncommon on a Sunday. Everything went quickly. A manager came in so I could leave; she sent my relief elsewhere to take the long lines.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then went in the back room to get the dolls' clothes and change them. Their bathing suits and light summer frocks are no longer appropriate for the cooler weather we've been having lately. Molly wears Kit's original blue School Outfit, which I picked up from AG in March the day before it sold out. Josefina's in her red and orange Summer Dress and vest. Samantha's in a hand-made teal tea dress with a lace-and-rosette trimmed collar. Felicity wears her friend Elizabeth's celery green Summer Gown. Whitney's finally getting to try out the floral Queen's Treasures dress I bought off eBay in the spring. Jessa wears an outfit I bought from a doll clothes seller at last year's May Fair - a blue and pink denim skirt, a white hoodie with a flamingo patch, and flamingo-print sneakers.

I went for a walk after I finished with the dolls. I was really kind of bored. It was sunny this morning, but by 4:30, the day had clouded over. (Despite the dark clouds, it wasn't humid and it never rained.) I stopped at Dad's. The garage was open, and though I did run into two of their neighbors, I saw neither Dad nor Jodie. They probably took Dad's 50s car out for a spin.

I ended up strolling to CVS instead. I didn't really need anything. It was just for the walk. I did buy one of those tasty sparkling waters - the Strawberry Kiwi this time.

I made chicken cutlets and leftover Chinese beans for dinner while listening to a couple of records. Classic rock just seems to go hand in hand with the summer. I did two of the K-Tel 70s collections while I changed the dolls. The soundtrack to American Graffiti accompanied dinner.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cool, Cool Summer

I didn't work until 10:30 this morning, which gave me a chance to check out the American Top 40 re-run. We jumped all the way back to late August 1974, as country, hard rock, folk, soul, and novelty songs took Americans into the last weeks of the summer season. Hits that late summer included "Side Show" by Blue Magic, "Rock Me Gently" by Andy Kim, "Then Came You" by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners, "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace, "Waterloo" by ABBA, "You and Me Against the World" by Helen Reddy, "Please Come to Boston" by Dave Loggins, "I Shot the Sheriff" by Eric Clapton, "Call On Me" by Chicago, "Nothin' From Nothin'" by Billy Preston, "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" by Barry White, and the remake of "Wild Thing" by Fancy.

That week's biggest hit set a record for longest time between #1 songs. Paul Anka was a teen idol in the early 60s with smashes like "Put Your Head On My Shoulder," but his smooth vocal style fell out of fashion after tougher rock groups like the Beatles came in. He made a comeback a decade later, both as a songwriter and as a singer. "You're Having My Baby" was his first major hit in almost fifteen years.

Ran the last Schoolhouse Rock shorts as I got ready for work. Money Rock and Scooter Computer & Mr. Chips debuted in the 80s, after the original series ended. Neither were terribly well-received at the time. Some of the Money Rock shorts have worn better than others. In addition to "Tyrannosaurus Debt" (on the ever-increasing US Government debt), my favorites are the country-rock-themed "Dollars and Sense" (on banks, loans, and interest) and "$7.50 Once a Week" (on budgets and spending your money wisely).

Scooter Computer & Mr. Chips are Schoolhouse Rock's only characters to appear in more than two segments. The kid on the skateboard and his wheeled data-crunching buddy were intended to teach kids about those new home computers that were becoming more common in the early 80s. Rapidly-changing computer technology assured that they were dated almost as soon as they came out, to the point where their discussion of the BASIC programming language and floppy discs seems adorably antiquated today. Evidently, they were obscure even in the 80s. They disappeared as soon as they were shown, and were never seen anywhere again until three of them turned up on the 2-disc set. (The introductory short was considered lost until someone uploaded it to YouTube last year.)

It was showering when I went to work. Work was very busy all day. The weather didn't help; people who would have been going to the shore probably opted to avoid the rain and get things done at home. We're getting close to Labor Day, the beginning of the month, and back to school in New Jersey, too. Thankfully, there were no major problems, and my relief was a college girl who was right on time.

By the time I headed home, it was cloudy and cold for this time of year (in the mid-70s) but not raining. When I got in, I decided to warm up the apartment by baking Cinnamon Blackberry Muffins and having leftover chicken-rice-vegetable soup for dinner.

I combat the gloom with Snow White and the Three Stooges as I baked. What do the Three Stooges in their 60s incarnation with Curly Joe have to do with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves"? In this 1961 musical, they're traveling musicians who are staying in the Dwarves' house for the summer. Snow White, who is fleeing her wicked stepmother, is found there as well. She quickly falls for the Stooges' handsome adopted son. When he's captured, the Stooges go to the rescue...and then hide Snow White from her stepmother and her adviser.

Notorious among Stooge fans for concentrating more on ice ballets and less on the Stooges, I'm quite fond of this colorful and unusual comic fantasy. It's a girlie movie in a largely male-dominated fandom. Casual viewers, musical fans, and princess-crazy grade-school girls may actually get more out of it than Stooges lovers

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Fighting Pandas and Baritones

Once again, I started a gloomy, chilly, and slightly humid morning with work. It was on-and-off busy, a little busier than yesterday, but not too bad. Despite the weather, a lot of people are probably coming from or going to vacation. I shelved candy during the down times. There were no major problems, and this time, my relief was a high school student who showed up when she was supposed to.

Which was a very good thing. I didn't have a huge grocery order, but I did want to do some restocking. There were good sales on a lot of pantry items this week - olive oil, peanut butter, the Smuckers Preserves in the small, round jar (I got cherry), Jello, canned chicken, Acme generic Multi-Grain Cheerios, Scott's tissues, and Arm & Hammer Deodorant. Also grabbed low-sodium canned black beans to replace the ones I used for dip a while back and blueberries while they're still relatively cheap.

I'm mostly pretty happy with this week's schedule. After weeks of very early shifts, I'm back to late morning and early afternoon work. (It helps that there were only two people on vacation this week, and they were both college students.) In good news, I have Friday and Saturday off, and nothing earlier than 10 or later than 6. I'm not as thrilled about having to wait 10 days until my next day off, but at least most of my shifts are pretty short.

When I got home, I finished Kung Fu Panda while changing, getting organized, and making brownies. Those pig brothers turn up again in "Secret Admirer." Po and Monkey are running an ongoing prank war when Shifu orders them to go looking for the bureaucrat from "Shifu's Back" and his daughter. His daughter is just as obnoxious as he is, but she's also pretty...and Monkey falls for her. Po doesn't realize he likes her and sends a letter setting him up for a non-existent date. Monkey's not happy when he's stood up by his dream girl. Things get even worse when it turns out she has the hots for Po!

"The Midnight Stranger" is a cute spoof of Lone Ranger/Scarlet Pimpernel-style heroics. Banned from using kung fu by stuffy officials, Po nevertheless finds a way to help the community in the guise of "The Midnight Stranger," a local legend. As he turns up more and more, the Midnight Stranger becomes the talk of the town. His father admires him; Tigress has a crush on him. When his father finds out what's going on, he realizes that things have gone too far...just as a group of alligator bandits attack the town.

Po is far from the only big guy to make use of a secret identity to help others. The 1939 western operetta Let Freedom Ring is cowboy variation on the tale. Nelson Eddy plays a lawyer who has come home to a small western town to find that the railroad has come through, complete with a crooked boss (Edward Arnold) and huge lugs (lead by Victor MacLaghlin) who are putting it together. He pretends to go along with the railroad men, much to the horror of his father (Lionel Barrymore) and sweetheart (Virginia Bruce), but in reality poses as "The Wasp" in order to fight the corrupt tycoons. He first steals the town's printing press, then turns bandit. Matters come to a head at the town's Election Day party. If he can't convince the railroad workers that they have as much right to land and life as anyone in America, they'll stop his presses for good!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Asserts Itself

Maybe it's just as well I worked eight hours today. It was hot, humid, and hazy all day. I spent most of the day bored. We were quiet for a lot of my shift, except for during rush hours. It was just starting to pick up when I was supposed to leave. My relief was late, of course. I just barely got out on time.

When I got in, I was too tired to do much more than change into regular clothes, make leftovers for dinner, and watch a couple of episodes of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. In "Master Ping," Po's dad Ping ends up staying at the Jade Palace when a kung fu battle destroys his noodle shop. He may be a great cook, but Po's embarrassed by his childhood stories, and his snoring and fussiness keeps everyone awake and on edge. When he's finally thrown out, he's captured by the three pigs who caused the fight that wrecked his shop in the first place. They think Ping's a warrior and want him to teach them kung fu secrets! Po hurries over to protect his dad...but Ping has a few things to teach his son, too!

Bureaucracy and government officials cause trouble in "Shifu's Back." The Fearsome Five can't fight bandits because their permit took two months arriving. The official in charge of law and order shows up just as Po's given Shifu an overdose of a potion for a bad back that's gotten him rather drunk. It looks like the Jade Palace may lose its license, until the official is kidnapped by the pig bullies and Po, Shifu, and the official's long-suffering elephant assistant prove to him how important their work is.

I spent the rest of the evening in a much-needed bath. I'm glad I've been able to fit more baths in during the last couple of weeks. It's been so busy, I've rather badly needed them. My legs were so sore. It was great to just sit back for an hour and read library books and listen to jazz.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm Old Fashioned

I didn't really have much planned for today. I wanted to rest after two busy work weeks in a row. I work 8 hours tomorrow, too. I slept in again and didn't get going until past 11. Watched the end of Geronimo Stilton as I ate two zucchini muffins and cantaloupe slices for a late breakfast. Geronimo himself is the one in trouble when a swami hypnotizes him and uses him to steal parts for his huge hypnotic clock in "Hypno Tick Tock." He wants to put the whole city under his control, but Geronimo's family catches wise when they see him seemingly sleepwalking and follow him. Tia has problems of her own in "A Clean Sweep." When she disappears during a crime wave, Geronimo's rivals blame her. The others know better and try to figure out why someone would be robbing fancy clothes from department stores.

It was 12:30 when I made my way out for a short bike ride. I hit the Oaklyn Library first. Maybe because of a day that was hazier and more humid than it has been, the Library was fairly busy. I mostly just organized DVDs and children's books. The adult DVDs were really bad. The TV sets are supposed to have their own section, but people keep mixing them in with the movie DVDs...and crowding the movie DVDs out. I moved everything where it was supposed to go. After that, I made a brief stop at WaWa for a pina colada Icee.

When I got home, I had leftovers for lunch while watching The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The title character was a wealthy industrialist whose factory provided the sole means of support for a small country town. He's killed by a knife wound in his mansion shortly after a dinner party. His young stepson is the main suspect, but everyone has a motive, from the country doctor who attended to him to various family members and servants who wanted his money. Hericule Poiroit (David Suchet) is supposed to be in retirement, but he's bored with growing vegetable marrows. He joins his friend Inspector Sharp to find out just what happened to Ackroyd, and what everyone is hiding.

While interesting, this isn't exactly a straight adaptation of the book. Some characters have been condensed. Others were eliminated. The factory setting provides a more explosive finale. Christie's twist ending is explained by Poiroit reading the killer's journal in wrap-around segments in the beginning and the end. It's still pretty well-done - I especially liked Poiroit visiting his old apartment in London and admitting to himself that maybe country life doesn't really suit him after all.

Headed out to the Westmont Farm Market around 4:30. I first explored the Samaritan Thrift Shop on the block next to the booths. When I found nothing there, I headed to the market proper. More and more squash are debuting, including the first ornamental gourds and squashes of the season. I didn't really need a whole lot. I bought a yellow heirloom tomato, blackberries, peaches, Chinese beans, and another small cantaloupe.

I stopped quickly at Walgreens for a sparkling water, then dodged the traffic on Cuthbert and headed home via Newton River Park. I used up the last of the old vegetables in the refrigerator to make Summer Vegetables and Brown Rice with tilapia while watching You Were Never Lovelier. The second and last musical to star Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire is set in romantic Buernos Aires. Adolph Menjou is the head of a family of four daughters. He won't let the younger girls get married until their older sister (Hayworth) does, but their old-fashioned sister has her ideal man...and hasn't found him yet. Fed up, her father writes her a series of love letters and says they're from an unknown suitor. When she sees an out-of-work dancer (Astaire) delivering orchids, she thinks he's the lover. He wants to dance, not get involved in romantic schemes, but when her father gives him a job, he reluctantly agrees to help out. He never expected to fall in love with this dashing ice queen with the nimble feet!

The plot is romantic piffle and a bit of a bore, but Hayworth and Astaire's dance numbers are first-rate. Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern provided an excellent score, including the standards "I'm Old-Fashioned," "Dearly Beloved," and the title song. If you love awesome dancing, the two leads, or 40s musicals, this one is absolutely worth a look.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life Is Just a Bowl of Peaches

I slept in this morning for the first time in a while. I really needed it. I didn't get going until almost noon. I really needed to get the laundry done today. Though it wasn't that busy when I got in, someone already grabbed all of the cheap washers but the one on the end. I managed to get that one. By the time the crowds were coming, my things were in the drier.

When I got home, I put everything away, then went right back out. I had a quick lunch of cheese and broccoli pizza at Capitol Pizza while watching the Little League World Series on ESPN 2, then went to Westmont. I really wanted to spend my two days off catching up on chores and errands I put off last week. Stopped at Rite Aid first for mouthwash. All of the Rite Aid generic mouthwashes were on sale. I grabbed their version of the diamond-shaped Crest bottles, which are usually too expensive for me. I next went across the street to Dollar Tree for raspberry preserves.

I made up for not making it to the libraries last week by spending an hour just organizing and shelving DVDs at the Haddon Township Library. The return rack was loaded, and the place was really busy. Surprisingly, I did manage to get everything put away, even the kids' shelves. For the first time I weeks, I checked out some books and movies for me. Gravity is high on my list of titles from last year I've been wanting to see. I'm in the midst of reading the Agatha Christie novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; the library has the David Suchet version. They had several new action-oriented cartoon sets in; I went with Geronimo Stilton (the library has a ton of those books) and more Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.

I went right in the bath when I got home. That felt really nice. I spent a pleasant hour reading the books I took out of the library. They finally had Tomorrow-Land, on the 1964-1965 World's Fair and how the world around it changed in those years, which I've been wanting to read for ages. Since I enjoyed The Happiness Project, I thought I'd take out Happy at Home by the same author. Also grabbed a book on writing characters and their viewpoints, which I've had problems with in my own writing. I just can't get into my characters' heads.

Had enough time for two Geronimo Stilton episodes as I made Poached Chicken Legs and leftover vegetables and rice for dinner. The title character is a know-it-all newspaper editor in New Mouse City who is fond of his tough sister, smart niece and nephew, and none-too-bright cousin...but not of traveling or adventure. Despite his preference for tea and quiet, he finds himself frequently involved in outlandish stories, such as him taking his nephew and cousin to China after discovering part of a map om a 40-year-old-letter in "Going Down to Chinatown." Geronimo's "Tea Story" gets really wild when his manuscript is mixed up with a top secret formula and he has to chase down spies to try to recover it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pocketful of Dreams

Started off a gorgeous, golden morning with more Bowery Boys as I had oatmeal with blueberries and slices of cantaloupe for breakfast. Angels In Disguise, one of the late-40s Bowery Boys titles, is probably my favorite. They did a couple of episodes that blended comedy and film noir-esque mystery, and while not all of them come off, this one works really well. Slip and Sach are copyboys at a local paper when they get the word that their friend Gabe who works at a cop and his partner were shot in a raid. Gabe survived, but his partner didn't. Slip tracks down the gang, who robs payrolls from factories...and is shocked to discover that the mastermind is a young intellectual who reads Spinoza and has a heart of ice. This guy is one of the most chilling villains in the entire series - he won't hesitate to have men who have made mistakes killed. Now the Boys have to clue Gabe and the rest of the New York police force in, without ending up in the morgue themselves!

Work was pretty quiet for a lot of the day, especially after the busy weekend. It was too nice for people to spend the day grocery shopping. I shelved candy for a lot of the afternoon. By the time the 4 PM rush hour was picking up steam, one of the college boys was coming in for me so I could go home.

When I got in, I made Zucchini-Honey Muffins while watching another Bing Crosby musical. Sing You Sinners takes us to a small town, where three very different brothers are living with their mother. The oldest (Fred MacMurray) wants to marry his sweetheart (Ellen Drew), but feels he can't leave his family without support. The second (Crosby) is a dream with big ideas who can't hold a job. The third (a very young Donald O'Connor) is just an average cocky kid. Though the three are excellent performers who can sing for their suppers, Crosby's always sure the next big thing is just around the corner. He moves to LA, where he buys a race horse with money won on the track. MacMurray isn't happy when he shows up and his brothers and mother are two steps to being on the street. They finally earn enough money as singers to race the horse, but a couple of crooks want O'Connor to throw the race. It'll take a lot of sibling power to prove that sometimes, the best way to do things isn't always the easy way.

This was surprisingly cute, by far the best of the Crosby movies I've done so far. It's actually a rather unusual role for Crosby - this may be the only movie I've ever seen him in where he doesn't get the girl (though he does try). Some nice songs, too, including "Small Fry" and "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams." At times, it felt something like a musical Bowery Boys movie with fewer New York accents. Enjoyable stuff if you're a fan of Crosby or MacMurray or looking for a different and lower-key musical comedy.

Finished out the night with Chicken-Vegetable Soup for dinner and another horse story. Laverne and Shirley also dealt with a horse in the appropriately-titled third season episode "The Horse Show." Shirley saves her favorite dairy horse Buttercup from the glue factory, but has nowhere to keep him. He ends up with her and Laverne for a while, but the health inspector doesn't like that at all. They finally convince Carmine to help find a farm where Buttercup can quietly retire. Meanwhile, Lenny and Squiggy have it in their heads that they're cowboys, even though their idea of cowboy outfits are...interesting.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Frozen Assets

I worked a rare long and early Sunday shift. It wasn't too bad when I got in, but by 11, we were busy with people just getting up or coming out of church. I'm not the only one who had to work early today, either. I saw quite a few people who normally work in the late afternoons and at night. Most of the people who went on vacation this week were morning and afternoon shift regulars. Thankfully, it slowed up enough by 3 that I was able to leave without a relief.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes and went right into defrosting my darn freezer. I read online about a method of defrosting the freezer without turning it off and making a big mess by placing pans of boiling water under the ice. I did what I could, but my freezer is really, really bad. The ice is so built up on the top in particular, it still didn't all come off after more than an hour of switching water out and hacking away at the ice with a hammer. I did get enough off to close the freezer door and get everything back in, which is what I really wanted. I'll see if I can get rid of more of it later in the week.

I ran records as I worked on the freezer, and later as I made blueberry pancakes and boiled snap peas for dinner. I didn't have time to make the former for breakfast, and the latter were the only things that defrosted when I took them out of the freezer. Started with Popeye, another tribute to Robin Williams. I have the soundtrack to the underrated 1980 musical. As with Annie, I never understood the critical complaints here. This musical is beautifully filmed with a great cast that includes Williams as the title character, Ned Beatty as Wimpy, and a spot-on Shelly Duvall as Olive Oyl. My favorite number is a cut song for Sweethaven's town drunk Barnacle Bill, the touching "Din' We." I also like Olive's "He Needed Me" and Popeye's introductory "I Yam What I Yam." This and Aladdin make me wish Williams had been able to do more out-and-out musicals.

Disney was one of two studios who put up the enormous budget for Popeye (the other was Paramount). I decided to check out a few of Disney's other lesser-known live-action musicals. Walt had high hopes for The Happiest Millionaire, a big-budget extravaganza featuring Fred MacMurray as the eccentric Philadelphia millionaire of the title who keeps pet alligators and teaches a bible-and-boxing class in his home. Leslie Ann Warren is his tomboy daughter who eventually falls in love with a handsome young man who has his eyes on car manufacture in Detroit.

I prefer Warren's other Disney film, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. In my kids' version of the story, two of the younger children in the band narrate the tale of how their family moved to Dakota so their older sister (Warren) could be with her new beau. It's 1888, though, and the year of the famous contested election between Grover Cleveland and William Harrison. Democrat Grandpa (Walter Brennan) can't help stirring up trouble, but his teaching the kids his opinions in school upsets the town and his daughter's romance.

I did Aladdin while I was in the bath. This has never been my favorite Disney movie, but it does have some nice numbers, including Williams' two breathless set-pieces "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali," and the opening "One Jump Ahead" for the title character as he spends his morning out-racing Agrabah's guards in the marketplace.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Just Plain Tired

Today was my 8 AM shift. I wish I was more used to working early. I was so darn tired. At the very least, once we got closer to the noon rush hour, it got busy and stayed that way. It passed pretty quickly, and there were no major problems.

When I got home, I read The Mystery of Roger Ackroyd for a while, then took another two-hour nap. These early days really wipe me out. I feel guilty, because my sister Rose and my best friend Lauren both work early all the time, every day. I feel like a slug.

I was still a little out of it when I woke up two hours later. I put on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to cheer myself up while I vacuumed the apartment (which needed it badly). This 1974 film is an anthology of the three original Pooh featurettes. The first story has Pooh trying to get honey in any way possible, including by disguising himself as a rain cloud and getting stuck in Rabbit's front door. The second introduces Tigger, whose talk about heffalumps and woozels frightens Pooh into an incredible psychedelic nightmare sequence. But there's a flood in the Hundred Acre Woods that may be even scarier! The film concludes by concentrating on Tigger. Rabbit, fed up with Tigger's bouncing and lack of consideration for his friends, tries to get him lost in the woods. That ruse doesn't work...but Tigger gets himself into trouble when he bounces into a tree and can't get out. In the end, everyone finally discovers how much fun bouncing - and childhood - can be.

Obviously, if you're a fan of the Disney Pooh, this is a no-brainer. It's a great starter Disney movie for little kids, too, as there's no violence and no real villains beyond the bizarre "Heffalumps and Woozles" musical number.

Switched to more Schoolhouse Rock as I had leftovers for dinner and tried to figure out how to scrape down the ice on my freezer so the door could actually close. Along with the math segment, "Grammar Rock" is the earliest Schoolhouse Rock series. Favorites here included the rollicking "Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here," the cute "Unpack Your Adjectives," and the sweet "Tale of Mr. Morton" from later in the 80s, on the parts of a sentence.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Two and Twenty Blackberries Baked Into a Pie

Work was on-and-off busy all day. It was mostly college students on their way to school, people preparing for summer birthday parties, or people going to or coming from vacation. We had a departure as well. One of the college boys joined the Marines and will be leaving tomorrow. There was a huge cake in the back room in his honor.

My relief was on time, which allowed me to go right into grocery shopping. I didn't have a huge order this week, but there were a few things I needed. The sales weren't quite as good, either. I bought more buy-one, get-one spiced chicken and three of those single fish fillets for a dollar each. Produce is on a big dollar-a-bag sale. I haven't been able to find mushrooms at the Westmont Farm Market, so I bought those. Eggs are $1.39 if  you buy 20 dollars worth of groceries. I didn't need them, but that was too good of a deal to pass. Restocked yogurt, buttermilk, skim milk, and unbleached white flour. Bought Acme's generic pie crusts to make a quick dessert later.

Mixed feelings on my schedule next week. While I do have two days off again, Tuesday and Wednesday (and I intend to keep both of those days off this time), I also have three very early days (including one on Sunday) and an 8-hour day on Thursday. No less than seven people went on vacation for part or all of this week, plus we're losing that one college boy to military leave. While I understand joining the military, I really wish they would stop letting everyone go on vacation at the same time. They have GOT to be more organized about vacation schedules!

When I got home, I had scrambled eggs with summer vegetables for dinner while watching the third of four Bowery Boys comedies set in the Armed Services. Here Comes the Marines is the only Boys Service comedy where they join up normally - they're all drafted. A lot of top officers start regretting having drafted Sach when he proceeds to imitate a doctor and cause an uproar. Turns out that the top colonel likes him and knew his father. Sach's constant promotions and new-found power keep going to his head, making him even more of a talkative nut than he usually is. Meanwhile, Slip and the others stumble on to a mystery involving a Marine who was found beaten on the side of the road, carrying a card from a local casino. Slip and the others discover that the casino is fixed...and Slip wonders if the casino and the beaten Marine may have something in common.

Oh, and I did make that pie during the second half of Here Comes the Marines. My Blackberry-Peach Pie didn't come out as well as I had hoped. The top crust did bake, but the bottom crust is still soggy. I put a cookie pan under it to catch any drips. Next time, I'll put it on the rack under the pie pan, not under the pan.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nice Weather For a Mystery

Actually, it was gorgeous when I went to work this morning at 11. That explains why we were dead for most of the afternoon. I spent the day standing around, bored. By the time it was starting to pick up, I was almost done. They sent one of the college kids in so I could get out on time.

It was still really nice when I got out, sunny and warm but not hot, with no humidity. I was a little worn out after all the running around yesterday, though. I ended up going straight home. I spent the evening making broiled lime-spiced chicken with sauteed Chinese beans and brown rice while watching the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express. I just finished the book, and I hadn't watched this in a while, so I figured, why not? Inspector Hericule Poirot (Albert Finney) finds himself in the midst of a mystery when a murder is committed on the title train going to Calais...and every one of the suspicious characters on board, from a loud-mouthed American mother (Lauren Bacall) to a shy Swedish missionary (Ingrid Bergman) to a blustery Scottish colonel (Sean Connery) to the dead man's secretary (Anthony Perkins) seems to have an alibi. Or do they? While Poirot questions the passengers, he learns most of them were involved in a notorious kidnapping scandal from a few years ago that may just hold the key to solving the case.

Sidney Lumet's tribute to old-fashioned all-star movies is a lush piece of escapism that still holds up quite well today. Bergman won an Oscar as the sweet missionary, but everyone seems to be having a good time, especially Perkins as the neurotic secretary and Bacall as the annoying American woman who may be the most important player of all.

As clouds moved in and the wind picked up, I switched to the equally spooky East Side Kids title Boys of the City as I cleaned up from dinner. The second movie in the series and the first to feature Leo and David Gorcey, Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison and Bobby Jordan is a surprisingly atmospheric mystery despite the low-budget trappings. The "boys" of the title are being taken to a summer camp in the mountains when they pick up a judge, his daughter, his valet, and his bodyguard. Turns out the judge was put on trial for fraud in New York and is trying to out-run the gangsters who accused him. They don't get far when their car breaks down and they find themselves trapped at a spooky mansion with a cemetery next door. When the judge is murdered and his daughter vanishes, the Kids have to get to the bottom of the mystery...before they end up being the next victims!

Much to my surprise, we had a huge rain storm shortly after I got online. It was so nice all day, the last thing I was expecting was storm. It seems to have passed now; all I hear are crickets.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good Evening Oaklyn!

I spent most of the morning and afternoon at work; today was my 7-hour shift. It was on-and-off busy, a bit more than it has been, but still nothing horrible. Other than a few annoying people, there were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

When I got home, I changed clothes and finished off Ghost Chasers, a Bowery Boys movie I began during breakfast. Whitey's (Billy Benedict) newest hobby is spiritualism. He and Sach truly believe in the world beyond. Slip is more skeptical...especially after he discovers a phony medium bilking older women in their neighborhood. While Chuck, Slip, and Butch (Buddy Gorman) track down the fake medium ring, Sach encounters a real ghost - kindly Edgar - who also wants to expose the mediums. Trouble is, only Sach can see Edgar, which leads the other Boys to wonder just how much of his sanity Sach has left.

I headed out around 5, as soon as the Boys ended. It too nice of a day to hang around! The clouds that had been out this morning were retreating even as I ate pizza at the picnic tables across from Phillies Phatties. By the time I made it to the Westmont Farm Market at quarter of 6, the sun was out, the wind was blowing, and the weather was utterly perfect, probably in the lower-mid 80s with no humidity. No wonder the place was packed; I had to wait in lines to buy peaches, a tomato, blackberries, a small cantaloupe, and the first spaghetti squash of the season (also in a mini-size).

It was so nice, I decided to extend my trip. Primo's Water Ice is directly across from where the Farm Market is. I stopped there for a Pineapple Turnover water ice. It turned out to be a creamy pineapple with big fruit chunks (and a touch of mint chocolate chip from the last person the girl scooped for). I enjoyed it out front while watching kids riding around on bikes and coming from the karate school next door come in for treats. Stopped at the CVS in Westmont on my way home for a sparkling juice (lemon-lime this time), eggs that are cheaper than the Acme's, and more of that two dollar honey.

When I got in, I listened to the LP soundtrack from Good Morning Vietnam! while putting my produce and groceries away, and then as I swept the porch. I haven't seen the movie since I was a kid, but Robin Williams' patter (as a DJ bringing rock to soldiers in Vietnam) makes the soundtrack of classic mid-late 60s favorites worth hearing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rainy Days and Sad Goodbyes

First of all, a very sad farewell to comedian Robin Williams and actress Lauren Bacall. Williams tragically committed suicide yesterday after years of battling depression; Bacall died of a stroke today. Williams was a huge part of my childhood and early teen years. While the only movie I have of his is Aladdin, I do have at least three soundtracks featuring him, including Good Morning Vietnam and Popeye. Bacall was a 40s movie goddess who was best known for her marriage to Humphery Bogart; she later became a fairly popular character and dramatic actress. Both will be missed badly. : (

Second, my day wasn't much better. It was just dark and humid when I rode to work this morning. Work was on-and-off busy for most of the morning, though never overwhelming. It was starting to wind down when my relief arrived. I found out why when I went outside and discovered it was pouring. I waited about ten minutes or so for it to slow down. It never did. I just rode home and got wet.

I spent an hour after that drying off and cheering myself up with some of the last of the cartoons on that public domain set Lauren gave me I hadn't watched yet. Famous Studios' little ladies, LuLu and Audrey, appeared in my favorite cartoons on the disc. LuLu creates calamity in a department store when she wants to exchange a doll and ends up flooding the place in "Bargain Basement Attack." Audrey's stories take her into fantasy. Her visit to Dream Land in "The Last Dream" doesn't go well, as despite the admonishment of her walking dream, she opens the forbidden black door. She has more fun rescuing Mother Goose Land from comic-book gangsters in "Goofy Goofy Gander" and helping to rescue Angel Cake from the Devil's Food Cake in Cake land in "Tarts and Flowers."

The ladies weren't the only ones indulging in slapstick and fantasy. Felix the Cat has to deal with two mini-versions of him in one of his early sound shorts, "April Maze." Katinka and the Skipper do their best to make sure that the Toonerville Trolley runs on time, come heck, huge mud puddles, bulls seeing red trolleys, or Mr. Bang in a bad mood in "The Toonerville Trolley" and "Toonerville Picnic."

It had continued to rain all through the cartoons. I finally decided the rain wasn't stopping and gave up on my original plan for this afternoon, which was going to the Haddon Township Library. I took a nap for an hour and a half instead. It was still raining when I got up and took a relaxing bath, reading Murder On the Orient Express and listening to Jazz On a Rainy Afternoon.

I forgot to take out the chicken I was going to have for dinner, so I improvised and made scrambled eggs and ratatouille instead while watching Spooks Run Wild. It's the East Side Kids who are running wild in the second of two horror-oriented East Side titles. When one of their friends (David Gorcey, Leo's brother) is shot while they're wandering through a graveyard, they're taken in by a spooky man in a cape (Bela Lugosi) and his assistant. The Kids think Lugosi may be "The Monster Killer" who strangles his victims, but both Lugosi and the magic-filled house have more than one surprise in store!

Oh, and the rain has continued on and off for the rest of the night. I think it's off at the moment. It's supposed to cool off starting tomorrow and be nice again for the weekend.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Jersey Redmer and Raiders of East Gate

Started off a hot, sunny day with a trip to the laundromat. Thankfully, it went far better than last week's trip did. It was busy, but the families and old people were too busy attending to their laundry or their kids or The Price Is Right to bother me. This was all for the good, since I had a larger load this week that included towels and dust cloths.

When I went home, I put everything away, then went right back out. I wanted to make a second trip to the Moorestown Mall are and take a look at the shopping center surrounding it, the East Gate. Trouble is, I read the bus schedule wrong. I thought it left at 12:47; nope, it was 12:37. I had to stop and get change at WaWa and missed it. I just rode up to Haddon Heights a block from King's Highway and got a chicken cutlet wrap at WilJax Hoagies instead. I sat and listening to the Phillies game (the Mets would go onto beat the Phillies again, 5-3) and the people picking up late lunches.

I finally caught the bus to the Moorestown Mall area at 1:37. Once again, I was the only one who went all the way to Moorestown. This time, I got off at the second East Gate building, which houses its Barnes and Noble. Turns out the Moorestown Barnes and Noble is enormous, twice the size of the one in Cherry Hill. They even still have DVDs, which Cherry Hill has long phased out. I ended up with the other recent American Girl mystery I wanted to read, the Kit story Intruders at Rivermead Manor, the first Sailor Moon manga (Japanese graphic novel - I've been trying to get the rest of them for ages, but they've been out of print until recently), and the Rita Hayworth/Fred Astaire musical You Were Never Lovelier.

My next discovery didn't pan out as well. I've never heard of Catherine's, a woman's plus-sized clothing chain. No wonder. Their clothes were very nice, but rather expensive for something that was basically the same as Layne Bryant or Avenue. Even heavy summer sales failed to bring prices down to reasonable levels. I just left and went across the street to the main mall instead.

Maybe it's just as well. I hit the jackpot at Boscov's, which was also huge. They were having gigantic clothing sales. Their clothes are sort of dated compared to some other stores, but all I needed was work pants. I got one pair for $9.99 and the other for $6.99! I also picked up a pack of much nicer Goldtoe white socks than the ones I bought a while ago for $12.00.

A stroll through the main mall didn't reveal anything useful. I didn't like the prices of the CD cases at FYE, and I just bought a movie. Lord & Taylor was disappointing. They were pretty much the exact same thing as Macy's, in prices and products. I left the mall and returned to the East Gate Shopping Center instead to hit up Staples. This time, I did get the CD holders I needed, along with a wooden ruler for 25 cents.

It was past 5 at that point. I wanted to catch the 5:37 back to Audubon, so I briefly returned to the main mall. Picked up a Peach Lemonade Mixer from Aunt Annie's on the way. I was crazy thirsty after all the walking I did! I finally got to Boscov's and made the bus with time to spare. When I got in, I briefly went to the CVS on King's Highway for a pineapple-coconut sparkling water, then went home.

I was so happy to finally get all those DVDs out of the jewel cases when I got home. The jewel cases are flimsy and take up too much room. From now on, If I buy a disc in a case, it stays in the case, but if a disc is in a cheap cardboard case or is home-made, it goes in a book.

Ran Dock of New York as I organized the DVDs. This East Side Kids title mixes things up a bit by pitting Mugs, Glimpy, and the rest of the gang against not gangsters, but spies. Mugs and Glimpy are entrusted with a valuable necklace by a kindly old woman and her daughter who were once the royal family of a European country. Spies are after the necklace and its owners, and they'll do anything, including kill a pawn-shop owner, to get it and get the princess.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bath Time Sunday

Started out a hotter but still relatively dry day with the best darn Blueberry Pancakes I ever made and another "cult" flop Broadway musical. It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman came out in the early-mid 60s, during the height of the "camp" craze. Though some of the score is good (especially Linda Lavin's showstopping "You've Got Possibilities"), I wish they could have come up with better villains than a rather generic mad scientist, a group of very un-PC Chinese acrobats, and a jealous Walter Winchell imitation who doesn't like all the publicity Superman's getting. Superheroes just don't seem to work on Broadway; the later Spider Man Turn Off the Dark would run longer but have even more problems.

Work was surprisingly busy despite the fairly nice day. I have no idea why it was packed. Either there's a lot of college kids who need to get ready for school, or we just caught everyone coming or going from vacation. At any rate, there were no real problems, and my college-age relief was on time.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes and went right back out. I needed milk and money from WaWa. Though it was still hot at 5 PM, probably in the mid-80s, there was a nice breeze out, and some fat clouds that kept it from being even hotter. I strolled past kids on their bikes and parents working on their gardens or chatting out front. WaWa wasn't too bad. I had no problem getting milk and a rare treat - a doughnut. The display said it was a banana custard, but it tasted more like lemon custard to me.

When I got home, I climbed into a much-needed bath. That felt soooo nice. I worked a lot last week, and I'll be working just as long this week. I read Murder On the Orient Express while listening to modern and classic interpretations of Gershwin music.

Switched to the soundtrack from the movie Pennies From Heaven as I made Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip for a quick and healthy dinner. In this odd musical from the early 80s, Steve Martin is a song plugger in the early Depression era who whole-heartedly embraces the upbeat music he sells, even as the world falls apart around him. Bernadette Peters is the pretty schoolteacher he pursues. I haven't seen the movie since I was a kid, but the collection of 30s-era hits is charming, including both familiar numbers like "Let's Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep" and lesser-known songs such as "The Clouds Will Soon Roll By."

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Just Hoppity-ing Along

Began a gorgeous (if warmer) morning with this week's American Top 40. I would have been 3 years old in the summer of 1982, and I remember many of these songs well. Hits that August included "Abracadabra" by the Steve Miller Band, "Let It Whip" by Dazz Band, "Wasted On the Way" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Vacation" by the Go-Gos, "Sweet Dreams" by Air Supply, and "Don't You Want Me?" by the Human League. The #1 song that week (and for most of August) was the blockbuster number from that summer's big hit movie, Rocky III, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.

Work was slightly busier in the morning, otherwise on-and-off steady. At the very least, it went faster than it did yesterday. Other than a few obnoxious customers, there were no major problems. My relief was even on time. I was in and out.

When I got home, I finished Annie while cleaning the kitchen, then ran the remaining Hoppity Hooper episodes as I made dinner and baked a Blueberry Coffee Cake. Unlike the episodes on the public domain cartoon set Jessa gave me a few years ago, they were presented here in their correct order, one after the other. They're supposed to be spoofs of serials and cliffhangers - the stories are told in four-part episodes. While none of them got quite as bizarre as the Twilight Zone spoof on the other set, there were some pretty strange shorts. "Diamond Mine" has Waldo selling off a vacant lot as a diamond mine...but the moles who live under the lot aren't too happy about all the digging! Gangsters "Costra Nostra" want Filmore the Bear to help them kidnap the baby son of a millionaire, but Waldo accidentally mixes Hoppity in a baby carriage with the human child. "Detective Story" sends the trio after a stolen painting and mixes them up with British thieves.

Jay Ward did these, and his touches are everywhere. There's tons of Rocky and Bullwinkle references and even a cameo by Dudley Do-Right in "Detective Story." The 60s satire may be lost on a lot of people who don't know the time period, but if you're a fan of Ward or of the cartoons of the 60s, this may be worth a look.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Bowery Busters and Little Girls

Started off the day at work. This time, other than a spurt around noon, work was quiet for most of the day. There were no really major problems, other than I was bored stiff. It was absolutely gorgeous again today, breezy and in the lower 80s. Most people probably hurried off to the Shore as soon as they could. I was able to shut down with no relief during rush hour; we had plenty of help.

It was a good thing I did. I had a lot of grocery shopping to do. We're having another big buy six items, get three dollars off sale. I needed sugar and cereal anyway; got Domino's and two boxes of Cinnamon Life. Filled out the sale with two more bags of Goldfish Graham Crackers (s'mores and cookies and cream) and a bottle of Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner (the last one on the shelf). I also needed to restock canned chicken, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, cheese, tea (Bigalow's the cheapest; got their Plantation Mint), and vanilla. I found a lot of great stuff on the clearance racks, too. Picked up chicken stock in liquid and solid form as well as lots of first aid items for more than half-off - gauze pads, band aids. I live alone; I like to make sure I'm well-stocked in case I get hurt.

When I got home, I ran more East Side Kids as I put everything away and changed into regular clothes. They're Block Busters in the only entry of the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys series to not involve any real villains. Instead, Mugs finds himself dealing with a French boy whose grandmother wants him to get to know the neighborhood. Mugs isn't happy with having to deal with this newcomer at first, until he meets his friends...and sees how well Jean plays baseball.

Switched to more New York urchins, these female, as I made ratatouille, Jersey corn, and leftover chicken cutlets for dinner. Annie is one of my favorite childhood movies. The title character is an orphan (Aileen Quinn) who desperately wants to find her parents. Gruff billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney) and his secretary Grace Farrell (dancer Ann Renniking) take Annie in for the week, and become so attached to her, they want to adopt her. This doesn't sit well with perpetually drunk Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), for whom Annie is a thorn in her side. She, her brother Rooster (Tim Curry) and Rooster's girlfriend Lily (Bernadette Peters) come up with a plan to trick Warbucks and get rid of Annie. When the other orphans overhear them, they escape and send Warbucks on their trail.

Critics have always had problems with this adaptation of the 1977 stage musical, mainly because it isn't exactly like the stage version. I can't imagine why. The cast is terrific, the numbers are spirited and well-staged by veteran director John Huston, and the choreography (especially in the ensemble numbers) is awesome. My only major complaint is it goes on for about 20 minutes longer than it should. The entire action sequence with Annie after her "parents" come for her and Warbucks going after her is probably unnecessary. Otherwise, this is highly recommended, especially if you have little girls of your own who love musicals.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Cleaning On a Summer's Afternoon

Work was somewhere between dull and annoying for most of the day. It was mostly pretty quiet, especially in the morning. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and breezy, mid-80s with no humidity. It did get busy later during rush hour, but by that point, I was almost done. I do wish my relief hadn't been late for the second day in a row. This time, we had enough help that I was able to shut down and just get out on time.

I headed home as soon as I could. It was a little more humid in the afternoon, but nothing out of the ordinary for a day in early August. As soon as I got in, I changed into regular clothes. Spent the next hour or so giving the bathroom a much-needed scrub. I'd put it off for far too long, and it was disgusting.

Ran the 1940 Mark of Zorro while cleaning. Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) returns from Spain to find that his father Alejandro (Montagu Love) was forced out of his position as governor by the corrupt Don Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg). Quintero is taxing the people of California into poverty, much to the horror of Father Felipe (Eugene Palette). Vega pretends to be disinterested in the local political squabbles...but he creates the guise of Zorro, masked avenger of California, to rescue the money for the people and woo Quintero's beautiful daughter (Linda Darnell). Quintero's right-hand man (Basil Rathbone) would do anything to figure out who this daring rider is.

I love swashbucklers, and this classic is a favorite of mine. Though it's not quite as much fun as the silent version with Douglas Fairbanks, it does have some nice moments of its own, including how Vega breaks out of prison in the finale. Recommended for lovers of swashbucklers, Power, and Zorro or action tales.

Switched to more East Side Kids as I made Blackberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins and threw some leftovers together for Chicken Vegetable Soup. In Bowery Champs, Mugs is a copyboy who is desperate to move up to reporter. He thinks he may have found his story when a once-famous actress is accused of shooting her husband. The Kids don't think she did it and hide her while they try to figure out who did. Meanwhile, Bobby Jordan, now in the Army, is following them all over town, trying to figure out where they are and how to get together with them.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Busy Harvest

It was just cloudy and humid when I headed off to work at 11. Work was pretty much the same as Monday - steady, though not overwhelmingly busy. We'll probably be busy for at least another week as the college kids prepare to return to school. My relief was late - a college student had to go in for me, and I got out just under the wire. Otherwise, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I finished the East Side Kids movie I began that morning while I changed and got organized. Mr. Mugs Steps Out when he's hired by a wealthy woman as a chauffeur. All of the East Side Kids are impressed...until a woman's diamond necklace is stolen, and they're blamed. The maid recognizes the real thief. When the Kids go after him, the rich woman's daughter follows them in the hope of making her nerdy fiancee jealous.

It rained a little while I was at work. My porch was still a bit wet when I came home. By 5:30, the clouds had vanished, and with it went the heat and humidity. It was sunny and breezy when I headed back out. After a quick stop at the Rite Aid on Cuthbert Road, I headed down to the Westmont Farm Market for this week's produce shopping.

Needless to say, I wasn't the only one who had come out to enjoy the sudden nice weather. The Farm Market was packed by 6, and the traffic was insane. Blackberries and cherries are gone, but everything else is still out in full force. This time, I ended up with peaches, three small zucchini, blueberries, a tomato, a cucumber, Chinese beans, and a green pepper.

Since it was the dinner hour, I bought a sandwich and a bottle of water from one of the booths and ate at a series of tables under a tent for dinner. The sandwich was a "V4," grilled chicken, spinach, tomato, cheddar cheese, and honey mustard on a roll. It was really yummy. I watched mothers and grandmothers and their children eat their grilled cheese sandwiches and run around the parking lot behind several businesses were the food and music was. It was a really gorgeous day for eating outside, too, probably in the lower-mid 80s and not humid at all.

I dodged late dinner traffic on Cuthbert Road, stopping at Kayla's Ice Cream for a blueberry milkshake. When I got home, I put everything away while starting another East Side Kids movie. Million Dollar Kid is the first of two movies where the kids help reform a rebellious wealthy youngster. Here, the young man is Roy, who has gotten involved with a gang of crooks who are attacking and stealing from locals. He's not happy that the Kids rescued his father from the muggers, or that his father is letting them use their gym equipment. While the Kids try to get Roy back on the straight and narrow, Mugs tries to find out more about the gangsters and how the operate.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Summer Is Just Around the Corner

Started out a hot, dry morning with more Bowery Boys. They're Feudin' Fools when Sach inherits a broken-down shack down south that turns out to be the former home of the rivals of the Smith clan. The Smiths aren't too fond of the Joneses...or anyone else....and will shoot any Jones they get their hand on, Sach included. Sach and Slip do their best to convince the hillbillies that they're anything but Jones. Things get really hot when bank robbers take refuge in their cabin and the Boys and Louie have to figure out how to get help, without getting shot by either the locals or the robbers!

I headed out for a long list of errands, volunteering, and appointments around 11. First on the list was the closest one, the Oaklyn Library. They're repairing the road outside the library, and have been on and off for weeks. Between that and the heat, the only people in the library besides me was the librarian and one other woman who was there for a chat. I organized DVDs, shelved some picture books, and left in about a half-hour.

I cut across Newton Lake Park to get to my next stop, the Haddon Township Library. The park wasn't busy, despite it being lunch time. I saw nobody, not even a jogger. The Library was much busier. A lot of people must have taken out DVDs during the rainy weekend. There weren't that many there, and I had absolutely no problems fitting everything in for once, even the "S" titles on the kids' DVD shelves. I did find a book of fairy tales featuring strong female characters on the sale rack and got my library card renewed. (Didn't take anything out - I won't have the time for much of anything this week.)

Went straight up to Haddonfield after leaving the Library. I cut through the condos by Haddon Township's community pool complex to get around some repairs on Crystal Lake Road. It took me out on West Park Drive, a couple of blocks from the pools. Wish I'd known about that shortcut last winter, when the ice was really packed on West Park Drive. Might have made my winter Haddonfield trips a little easier.

I didn't have much money, so I had a quick lunch at NickyB's Pizza around the corner and down the block from Mrs. Stahl's office. It was the tail end of the lunch hour, and they were still pretty busy. I ate a slice of cheese and a slice of mushroom in the corner while reading my new fairy tale book and listening to ESPN on their TV.

NickyB's is next-door to Haddonfield's City Hall. Cutting through the back of the City's Hall's parking lot took me right to the yard behind Mrs. Stahl's office. In fact, I was at least 20 minutes early. I read my new fairy tale book until she was ready.

Though we did discuss my busy month and all the traveling I've done, a lot of what we went into was my lack of acceptance of myself. I just don't feel like a real adult. Yes, I know I live alone and have a job and buy my own clothes and food. I also don't raise kids or have a normal job like most other adults my age have. I'm really kind of jealous of Rose there. No matter how long it took her to become a lawyer, she knew what she wanted to do and how to get it. I really have no idea.

A lot of it once again dates to childhood. Most kids who grow up in a beach town are expected to take jobs the moment they turn 14 and get their working papers. They're needed for the summer businesses. My sisters and I were babysitting as early as age 8, and we had friends who worked for their parents' small businesses under the counter for years before they turned 14. While Rose never had trouble getting a job as a waitress or in a candy store, I had a much harder time. I'd try in the winter, when it was too early to be hiring, or in the summer, when all the jobs were taken. I never seemed to time things right. I didn't have any friends to recommend me to work for their parents, either. By the time I was 14, Mom was a stay-at-home parent to take care of Keefe, and I didn't think I could handle working on a fishing boat with Dad.

The one summer job I ever got on my own was as a mother's helper to a  yuppie woman and her very sweet son. She was nice enough and the kid was adorable, but she'd just separated from her husband. Her house was a mess, and she was never organized with anything. She didn't even pay me the last check she owed me. When I tried to call her back by the end of that summer, I was basically told she'd gotten back with her husband and no longer needed my services. After that, the few summer jobs I had were through an organization in Atlantic and Cape May Counties that found jobs for disabled or troubled teenagers.

I don't belong in the Acme job. I know that. I've known that for a decade. Trouble is, I don't know how to get a job I would be suited in, or even what jobs would work for me besides writing. I'm no good at going door to door and begging strangers look at my resume. What would I say? I don't know anyone who could recommend me to something that would work, either. I wish I did. No one I know is interested in the same kind of work I am. I keep hoping to meet people who could recommend me to an office somewhere, but I don't know where those people would be.

I don't accept myself because I never seemed to do anything acceptable. I've been put down and made fun of for what I am and what I enjoy since I was in kindergarten. The media doesn't help, either. I'm nothing like the single career women I've been seeing on TV since the 80s. (That's another reason I don't have cable. I can see the things I want to see...without being subjected to the stuff other people want everyone to see.) I don't know any other adults in Camden County who live the way I do.

She pretty much said keep doing what you're doing - go on trips, try to get out and enjoy yourself and feel better about being an introvert. I'm not going to have the time or money for any major traveling this week, but I may try for some museums in Philadelphia, the King of Prussia Mall, and Lancaster in late August and September.

My next couple of stops were fast ones. I took out money at the Haddonfield PNC. I got it inside at the desk, since their ATM machine didn't seem to be working. Bought contact lens solution at the Rite Aid on the border of Haddonfield and Westmont. Enjoyed a refreshing birch beer water ice at Primo's in Westmont. (For some reason, it tasted a little of cherry - perhaps the girl who scooped it was scooping cherry before I came in.) Was hoping to find a CD holder at the big Walgreens. I didn't, but I did get two cute flash drives on good sales. One was in the shape of a pencil. The other was in the shape of Lightning McQueen.

Went straight home after Walgreens. The digital sign at the Westmont Fire Station said it was 93 by quarter after 3. Not quite as bad as my last trip to Haddonfield, but not exactly chilly, either. I hit the bath as soon as I got in. That felt absolutely wonderful after running around all day. I listened to Bing Crosby and went over From Broadway to the Bowery, the book on the many versions of the Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys that Lauren sent me for Christmas a few years ago.

Continued with Bing and watched Here Is My Heart as I threw together summer vegetables in the fridge and canned chicken for dinner. We trade costume drama for a romantic comedy with music as Bing, a rich singer, poses as a waiter to try to buy a dueling pistol off of the icy, sheltered Russian Princess Alexandra (Kitty Carlisle). Though he already has a girl waiting for him, he still can't help falling for the beautiful princess..even after she snubs him as a commoner.

While no great shakes in the plot department, this was otherwise surprisingly enjoyable. Carlisle, a year away from dealing with the Marx Brothers in Night at the Opera, handles her role as the snobbish royal lady quite well. Bing gets to sing two standards, "June In January" and "Love Is Around the Corner." Nothing you need to go out of your way for, but enjoyable enough if you're a fan of either of the leads or romantic comedy.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Cops are Back In Town

Had another early work shift this morning, though not quite as early as this weekend's were. It was pretty much the same deal - quiet when I came in, steady but not overwhelming when I left. I originally didn't have a relief, but I had a line when I was done, so they got one of the college students to come in for me. Other than some cranky customers, there were no major problems, and I headed out as soon as I could.

When I got home, I relaxed, changed into regular clothes, and finished out Clancy Street Boys before heading out to do my laundry. It had turned into a rather nice day for a walk. The clouds and humidity from earlier in the day were giving way to sunshine and warm but not hot mid-80s temperatures. Oaklyn was bustling with kids riding bikes and playing on lawns and people out and about, talking and working in their gardens.

I wish I hadn't put off doing the laundry until 4 PM. Not only was it busy, but there was this guy there who just could not be patient. He kept looking in everyone's washers to see if they were done, including mine, when it was quite obvious that they weren't, then complained about how slow they were. If he was in a hurry, he shouldn't have been doing laundry. I then spent an excruciating twenty minutes listening to him and the other woman in the laundromat describing every single thing that was wrong with kids, this area, schools, and everyone else in general. The moment my dryer finished, he opened it to see if his things were in there! He saw me put my things in there...or would have, if he hadn't been so busy telling that poor woman everything that was wrong with the world. I grabbed my things in a hurry and got out of there as soon as I could.

I was going through my DVDs after I got home and found my Little Einsteins disc Legend of the Golden Pyramid, so I thought I'd give them a spin. The music-and-art-loving kiddies go on two exotic adventures to free the music from the Golden Pyramid, thanks to Quincy's golden harp, and find five lost paper dragon kites in China before the big Dragon Kite Parade at the Great Wall. A trip to San Francisco is less exotic, but just as fun. Annie teaches kids how to sing high as she and the others help her Little Purple Airplane fly over such tall landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge and get through a busy modern painting to rescue a toy helicopter trapped in a redwood.

Switched to more Police Academy as I made Spiced Chicken Cutlets with Molasses Sauce and Persian Cucumber Salad for dinner. The former recruits are now teachers in Back In Training. They have to whip the Academy's newest recruits into shape, or it'll close and be replaced by Mauser's more militant police school. But with new cadets like nerdy Sweetchuck, insane Zed, Fackler's tough wife, laid-back Japanese exchange student Nomoka, and attractive Adams on patrol, it won't be easy to prove that they're the best force in town...until the governor's yacht is robbed, and everyone gets a chance to show their stuff.

More-or-less a repeat of the first film, but there are some fun gags, including what happens to Mauser's eyebrows and Fackler trying to keep his wife from joining. This is an 80s comedy, so count on the expected non-PC Japanese and gay stereotype gags and an ending that comes out of nowhere. Otherwise, this is actually a lot of fun, probably the series' best entry along with the original.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

You're Gonna Love Tomorrow

I was able to sleep in a little bit more than I was last week. I felt more refreshed as I made Blackberry Pancakes for breakfast and listened to Mack & Mabel. Jerry Herman's best score is unfortunately attached to the depressing real-life story of movie comedy pioneers (and on-again, off-again lovers) Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett. To date, no one has ever been able to make this downer history lesson work on stage. It was a huge flop in the 70s, despite a cast that included Bernadette Peters as Normand and Robert Preston as Sennett. Too bad, because the music is fabulous, including two classic ballads, "I Won't Send Roses" and "Time Heals Everything."

Work could have been worse. It was busy, but not quite as bad as yesterday. It helped that the weather cooperated. It rained last night, around the time I got offline, but by noon, it was once again just cloudy, cool, and humid. My relief, the same college boy as the past few days, was right on time. I was able to get out with no problems besides a couple of cranky customers.

It was sprinkling lightly when I rode home. It waited until I was already there and making tuna salad for dinner for the showers to pick up. I don't think it's done anything since that, though it's still wet and humid.

I spent the rest of the evening just resting, reading, and listening to CDs. Follies is my favorite Stephan Sondheim show. This was another flop in the early-mid 70s, though it did run longer than Mack & Mabel. Two women who once appeared in a Ziegfield Follies-style revue and their husbands fight and try to figure out where their marriages went wrong during a reunion of former show girls that somehow turns into a real "Follies"-style revue in the end. Meanwhile, we see "ghosts" of everyone's younger selves in the background, commenting on the action and representing the past. It sounds strange, but there's some wonderful songs here, from searing ballads like "Losing My Mind" and "Too Many Mornings" to pastiche numbers for the former chorus girls, including my favorite tune from this show, "I'm Still Here."

My Favorite Year is a lot less dire. This cute musicalization of the 1982 comedy features Tim Curry in Peter O'Toole's role as Alan Swann, the perpetually drunk movie star who is coerced into appearing on a variety show in the 50s, Andrea Martin as the only woman writer on the show, and Lanie Kazan in her original role as a boisterous Jewish mother who married a Filipino prizefighter. While this isn't one of songwriters Lynn Aherns and Stephan Flahtery's better scores, it does have an awesome opening number, Benjy's description of behind-the-scenes at the variety show right before it goes on the air, "Twenty Million People."

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Sleepy Time Gal

I worked early again this morning. I didn't have time for the American Top 40 re-run or much of anything else before I hurried off to work. It rained heavily overnight. By 8 AM, the rain was gone, but the clouds and wet streets remained. It didn't scare off our customers. We were crazy-busy from about 10AM onwards. We're still in the midst of those huge sales, and it's still the beginning of the month...and people are still cranky. I was so happy when my relief was on time and I could get home quickly.

It was still cloudy when I finished, but the clouds had yielded nothing but a chilly day. The dry streets indicated that it probably hadn't rained since the night before. It wasn't even that humid. Perfect day for a nap. I settled down around 3 and didn't get up until quarter of 5.

Since it was still cool out, I made Zucchini-Chocolate Chip cookies while watching Hey There, It's Yogi Bear. Yogi's not feeling smarter than the average bear when his picnic basket-stealing antics has Ranger Smith sending him to the San Diego Zoo. Though Yogi gets another bear to go, his girl Cindy doesn't know this and convinces Ranger Smith to send her packing as well. When Yogi and Boo Boo hear that she's gone missing, they go on a cross-country odyssey to rescue Cindy from a cheap circus that's hoping to have her as its star attraction.

This was apparently Hanna-Barbara's first feature-length theatrical film, and it shows in some beautiful forest backgrounds early on in Jellystone and Cindy and Yogi's elaborate Venice fantasy sequence. Cute movie for families with young kids who will enjoy the bears' adventures or for Yogi fans or fans of 60s animation.

Moved to more East Side Kids as I ate leftovers for dinner. One of the few pure comedy entries in the series, Mugs and the guys are Clancy Street Boys who spend their days avoiding the Cherry Street gang (lead by later Bowery Boy Billy Benedict) and hanging out in their clubhouse. Mugs' mother has a big problem - her wealthy cattleman friend Pete is coming to visit, and she's told him she has seven children, including a girl. Mugs recruits the other guys to be his siblings and convinces his best pal Glimpy to dress in drag as "Annabelle." When the jig is up and Pete is kidnapped by gangsters, it's the kids to the rescue!