Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Cartoon Party

It was still sunny when I got up this morning. I started the Halloween specials as I ate oatmeal with peanut butter and brown sugar for breakfast. In Boo To You Too!, Winnie the Pooh and his friends are looking forward to a holiday filled with lots of treats and more than a few scares...except for Piglet. Piglet is so frightened by Halloween, Pooh declares they won't celebrate at all. Eeyore, Gopher, and Tigger don't agree, and they and Pooh get a good scare themselves when they try to prove to Piglet that Halloween is nothing to be afraid of.

Went to Garfield's Halloween Adventure as I cleaned up from breakfast. Garfield and Odie dress as pirates for trick-or-treat, hoping to plunder some candy booty. They get a lot more tricks than they bargained for when they find themselves stranded on an island inhabited by a group of ghostly pirates out to get their treasure.

Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special follows Bugs' various close encounters with Witch Hazel, as he tries to avoid being the cackling hag's next experiment. It's really a collection of bits and pieces of various horror-oriented Looney Tunes shorts, revolving around the theme of Bugs dodging Hazel. At the very least, they did weave in some cartoons that were set at Halloween, unlike Bugs' Easter show.

I made a quick run to the Acme around 9:30-quarter of 10 for groceries. The Acme's having a lot of big baking and cooking sales as people start thinking of next month's major holidays. I took advantage of the baking sale to get good prices on canola oil, sugar, cooking spray, the large jar of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix, and canned pumpkin. Restocked tomato sauce, apricots, skim milk, eggs, muffin papers, and honey after last week's meals.

I saw quite a few Acme employees dressed for the holiday. One cashier went as Ralphie from A Christmas Story in his pink bunny suit. (She even had glasses.) Another was Snow White. A male cashier was a hockey player. One of the managers was the Lucky Charms leprechaun. (A deli worker joked that he made her crave cereal every time she saw him.) My cashier at least wore a Halloween-themed T-shirt and had a bat painted on her cheek.

When I got home, I put everything away, then pulled out the dolls. I wanted to get photos of them in their Halloween costumes. I think they came out quite well. Whitney in particular makes the most adorable little flapper.

Halloween at the Riverside Rest

Continued with the cartoons as I worked with the dolls. "Spook-a-Nanny" was the only original cartoon written for the 1960s Woody Woodpecker Show. After spending most of the episode blowing up balloons for his boss Walter Lantz, Woody's ready to have a fun Halloween party with other Lanz creations like Chilly Willy and Andy Panda. He just can't seem to get inside, no matter how much he tries. He finally gets in with a ghost music group, but he forgets that he can't walk through the walls like they can.

Had leftovers for lunch while running Halloween Is Grinch Night. When a sour sweet wind sends the Grinch a prowlin' with his cart filled with psychedelic scares, the Whos hide in their homes, scared for their lives. All except for little Eukeriah Who, who gets lost up in the mountains. After he encounters the Grinch and his cart, he becomes determined to save the town by taking the scares himself.

Probably the most famous of all Halloween specials is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Linus is gearing up to spend the night in the most sincere pumpkin patch he can find, waiting for the arrival of the title character. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown has trouble trick-or-treating, while Snoopy spends his Halloween fighting the Red Baron.

Popeye has his own Halloween problems in the Famous Studios short "Fright to the Finish." Bluto convinces a spooked Olive that Popeye has been playing tricks on her. Popeye doesn't need spinach to prove who's been doing the real tricking...and get a treat from Olive.

I did dress up for work again this year. I was a fairy. Or an angel, depending on your point of view. The outfit I bought from Goodwill last month didn't fit, so I threw something together. I already had white wings, a wand topped with a huge, glittery foam star, and a golden sequin-trimmed tiara. I just put them on over a white long-sleeved shirt and my good black skirt. I received quite a few compliments from customers who thought I looked very cute. Not bad for something I just threw together.

While the college kids who work later in the evening mostly didn't bother dressing up, I saw quite a few very cute trick-or-treaters out with their parents. One boy was Spider Man. A little girl was an utterly adorable Doc McStuffins; her sibling was a triceratops in a green and blue plush outfit. An older teenager group was dressed as a wolf man, a vampire, and a sorceress.

Oh, and my schedule for next week isn't too horrible, about par for the course at this time of year. The only question mark is an 8-hour day on Monday. Maybe a lot of people will be busy getting ready for Election Day? Otherwise, Tuesday and Wednesday off again and one late day on Thursday.

As soon as one of the college kids came in for me, I raced out. Even after giving a dollar to a family who needed money for the bus on the Black Horse Pike, I still made it to Oaklyn just as the Halloween parade was starting down the street. I quickly caught up with them, changing from my winter jacket to my wings on the way.

Some of the costumes I saw this year were amazing. Quite a few of them were home-made. One family honored their Hispanic heritage with a boy dressed as a Mexican peasant and someone in a full-body pinata suit. Another family sported Mom as a Ghostbuster, Dad as the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, and a kid Slimer. There were tons of Elsas and Annas from Frozen, but my favorite was a Mom Anna and a sweet kid Elsa. (Mom's dress looked home-made.) A woman had her little brown dog in an orange and black witch costume. Another group was Star Wars-themed, with a Jawa, a Jedi, and several stormtroopers. There was a tween Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and a Cheer Bear who was about the same age. One boy was a Minecraft character. Another was Emmett from The Lego Movie in a home-made costume. There was a really awesome home-made dragon costume. There was a scary clown, another clown with a pumpkin mask head, and nifty ghost, and a really gruesome ghoul. A small, plump Alice In Wonderland sported a pretty cornflower-blue dress and ruffly apron.

I loved watching all the kids strut their stuff. Alice In Wonderland's parents were neighbors of mine. I chatted with them while Alice and her little sister, one of the many Elsas, showed off their costumes for the judges. There was so much candy left at the end, everyone got to take home some - even me.

When I got in, I ran a quick Three Stooges short as I cleaned up and put my costume away. "Spooks!" is one of two 3-D shorts the Stooges made in the early 50s. A trio of detectives dress as bakers selling their wares in order to get into a haunted house. They're supposed to be rescuing a beautiful girl from a mad scientist, but they may need to rescue themselves instead when the scientist and his assistant do everything they can to scare them away!

It started clouding up as early as my grocery trip this morning. By the time of the parade, it was dark, cloudy, cold, and windy...perfect Halloween weather. It's supposed to rain later tonight and get much colder. We'll see how things go.

And I hope all of you had a really safe and happy Halloween with your own little ghouls, Lego men, Care Bears, and Elsas!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hide and Go "Boo"

It was a beautiful, sunny, chilly day when I got up this morning. I watched a couple of horror and Halloween-oriented TV shows while I had breakfast. Richie has to face his fear of the local "Haunted" house in a second-season Happy Days episode. Joanie thinks he'll lose his head if he attends Ralph's party there. Fonzie reminds him that urban legends are usually nothing to be afraid of. When the party really gets scary, it's Richie who reveals the very live culprits behind the goings-on.

Ghosts and urban legends are also causing trouble for the staff of radio station WENN. In the third season Remember WENN episode "The Ghost of WENN," diva actress Hilary Booth seems to be stalked by a spirit with a fondness for stuffed birds and cranberry jelly. Meanwhile, cowardly actor and announcer Mackie Bloom has heard that the last man who read page 13 of the horror script they're doing died on the air...and he's afraid he'll be next.

Moved to The Backyardigans as I got ready for work. Uniqua and Pablo think "It's Great To Be a Ghost" when they pretend to be able to turn invisible and appear in paintings. Tyrone isn't sure he agrees. The whole ghost thing makes him nervous. When Tasha turns up and claims she can't be scared, it's the least-likely kid who finally does frighten her.

Max & Ruby have their own fun with Halloween and ghost stories. In "Max's Halloween," Ruby wants Max to be a little prince to go with her Cinderella. As usual, Max has his own ideas. He'd rather be a scary vampire! And in "Ghost Bunny," Ruby tries to keep Max out of the way with toys and treats while she and the other Bunny Scouts tell spooky stories around the campfire. Max badly wants to hear them, though...and he's the one who ultimately gives the girls a scare.

Work was pretty much the same as Monday...quiet on-and-off for most of the day. It wasn't even that busy during rush hour. Most people are probably waiting for the beginning of the month. My relief was right on time, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes. I had leftover chili for dinner, then vacuumed while watching Arsenic and Old Lace. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is a drama critic who just got married to the girl next door (Priscilla Lane). He takes her back to Brooklyn, where his two maiden aunts are taking care of his uncle (John Alexander) who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. When the night's through, Teddy may end up being the most sane person around. It turns out his aunts are killing old men with no families and having Teddy bury them in the basement. Then, Mortimer's criminal brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) and his doctor (Peter Lorre) turn up, toting a few bodies of their own. While Mortimer tries to figure out how to get out of this mess, the local cop (Jack Carson) doesn't understand what's going on with these nice old ladies.

Like Ghostbusters, this Halloween-set black comedy is a nice alternative for people who like their horror spooky but not bloody. As good as Grant and Massey are as the brothers on the opposite sides of the law and sanity, Alexander walks away with the movie as the delightfully delusional uncle.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Very Weird Science

It was still sunny, windy, and warm when I got up this morning. I began the day with two horror-themed TV show episodes. Ricky, Alfonso, and Freddy are watching a horror movie marathon on "A Dark and Stormy Night" in the third season of Silver Spoons. When the storm knocks out the power, Ricky's dad Edward suggests telling ghost stories. The quartet comes up with a spooky tale of three young lads who discover a Jekyl-and-Hyde scientist (Edward), a lovely lady (Kate), and a very stuffy monster (Alfonso's uncle Dexter) in a scary old mansion.

Things are just as scary in downtown New York's Night Court. "The Gypsy" has put a curse on the courtroom after Harry fines her for insulting him over his ruling. Suddenly, Bull collapses and Dan's accountant drops dead in the middle of an audit. While Dan tries to save his funds, Harry and the others do a little magic of their own to prove to Bull that the gypsy is a fake...or is she?

I had almost as much running around to do today as I did yesterday. Hit the Oaklyn Library first. I had big bags of books to bring to both libraries. They were fairly busy with people preparing raffle baskets and a mother and her child looking for books and DVDs to take out. I organized the DVDs and gave the young adult novels a look.

I went home briefly to pick up the other bag for the Haddon Township Library, then headed out again. They were just as busy. I had even more to do there. In addition to organizing and shelving the kids' and adult's DVDs (the kids' S titles still don't fit) and a large pile of classical CDs, the head librarian asked me to take a look at the paperback romance shelves, which desperately needed to be put into some kind of order. That was fine. I find most mass market romance novels to be boring, but I know a lot of people like them, including my mom and sister. I got through the D titles before my stomach informed me that it was past time for lunch.

By 2:30, the sky had darkened, the wind had picked up, and it was much colder. I regretted not bringing a sweater or coat with me. I hadn't needed one yesterday or earlier. I picked up sponges at Dollar Tree, then had a quick chicken pizza steak and fries at Nick & Joe's Pizza, next-door to Friendly's. The dark-paneled main dining area with the huge, elaborate water colors of scenes of Italy was surprisingly busy when I came in. There were two other older groups and what sounded like a Hispanic family enjoying late lunches.

The clouds continued to build as I headed home. They finally burst about an hour or so later. I concentrated on cleaning for the rest of the day. Ran Disney's Halloween Treat as I cleaned the bathroom and scrubbed the bathroom and hall floor. My family taped this Disney Channel special sometime in the mid-late 80s. It's a collection of several Disneyland/Wonderful World of Disney segments (including one on villains narrated by Hans Conried as the Magic Mirror) and classic Disney horror-oriented shorts.

One of my favorite shorts is the second-to-last featured, "Lonesome Ghosts." Goofy, Mickey, and Donald become the original ghost busters when a group of bored specters invited them to their dilapidated mansion. After a lot of slapstick (including Goofy and a ghost playing around in a mirror frame), it's the trio who finally frighten the ghosts away!

Continued with a few more Disney shorts as I switched from the bathroom to the kitchen. Mickey Mouse has twice been on the receiving end of some very weird science. The classic black-and-white short "The Mad Doctor" has Mickey attempting to rescue Pluto from the title character. The rare 90s short "Runaway Brain" makes Mickey himself the subject of the experiment. Another mad doctor (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) switches Mickey's mind with that of a monster. Now Mickey has to convince Minnie he's who he says he is, despite being in a body eighteen times his normal size.

The most famous of all mad scientists may be the original monster creator himself, Dr. Frankenstein. I moved to Young Frankenstein while finishing the kitchen and making salmon with peppers and mushrooms in lemon sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. The title character (Gene Wilder), Fredrick, isn't proud of his grandfather's gruesome legacy...until he inherits his castle and holdings. When he and his assistants (Terri Garr and Marty Feldman) discover his grandfather's laboratory, he decides his experiments might work after all. When his subject (Peter Boyle) is accidentally given an abnormal brain,  he has to figure out how to tame this beast, before the local inspector (Kenneth Mars) and the suspicious townspeople learn what's really going on.

One of Mel Brooks' most beloved spoofs is an affectionate take on the Universal horror movies of the 30s. It's a personal favorite of mine, if only for some of the witty dialogue and fun performances. (Apparently, the cast and crew enjoyed making the movie so much, they added extra scenes, just so they could keep going!) Fans of Wilder, Brooks' work, or comic horror will find much to love here.

Finished the night with one more Disney short as I cleaned up from dinner. "The Haunted House" was the first horror-oriented short Disney did with a regular character, in this case Mickey Mouse. Mickey finds himself lost in a very spooky old house, where skeletons dance, ask for organ concerts, and get involved in outhouse gags.

Incidentally, the rain ended as quickly as it came. It's supposed to be nice and chilly through Halloween, then rain this weekend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Believe It's Magic

Started a hazy, overly-warm day by finishing Strawberry Girl. I very much enjoyed Lois Lenski's tale of a family of farmers who move to Florida in the early 1900s, when it was still considered backwater country. They're ridiculed by their hillbilly next-door neighbors the Slaters for planting crops like strawberries and oranges instead of herding cattle. Smart Birdie Boyer is determined to help her family make the best of things and ignore the teasing from the obnoxious Slater boy, Shoestring. Turns out the Slater dad is a drunk who ignores his family and stirs up trouble. Birdie's dad has a hot temper gets into a battle over land rights with Slater. It takes a crisis at the Slater house to finally get Mr. Slater to change his ways and truly "love thy neighbor."

An interesting story of survival and family that deservedly won a Newberry Award. Linda Young says Lenski apparently wrote a lot more stories set in other parts of the US, but most of them are out of print. I may have to keep an eye out for them.

I finished the book and my journal writing so late, it was noon before I got to the laundromat. I had a lot of clothes that really, really needed to be done. Thankfully, though it was busy when I came in, it cleared out pretty fast. By the time I was unloading my clothes from the dryer, I had the place to myself.

I finished more Bowery Boys while quickly putting away my laundry. Ghost Chasers is the third of five Bowery Boys horror-themed movies, and my personal favorite. Here, the guys are pursuing Margo the Medium, a phony psychic whose business has been bilking older women in their neighborhood. They're not the only ones who want to discredit Margo. A ghost named Edgar also wants to stop her from sullying the good name of ghosts everywhere. Naturally, only Sach can see him. The others are wondering if Sach has finally least until he and his ghost friend get them out of a few tight spots.

It was 1:40 when I finally got out of the apartment. Even trying to take a short cut down Hood Road to Crystal Lake Road and Euclid Avenue, I was still 15 minutes late. I was very upset with myself when I got in. I don't like being late. It looks bad, and it isn't fair to the other person. Mrs. Stahl said she was more worried about me riding up there on my bike than being late. This lead us to a discussion of one of my biggest problems - I just can't seem to reign in my emotions, especially when I'm upset or frustrated or scared. I know I'm hard on myself. I just want to do better. My emotions always seem to take over. I'm so afraid of what people will do and say.

I also discussed my holiday plans. Halloween isn't that big of a deal with me. I like dressing up, but I'm not a big fan of horror, or of partying, which is what most adults who don't have kids do for Halloween. I've mellowed out a bit on most holidays. For every holiday but Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, if I get off, great. If not, great, I make extra money. I no longer care whom I spend Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with, either. I enjoy my time with the family, but I also like being able to relax and run holiday-related DVDs all day.

That said, I still get a little down at Christmas. I love that holiday, all the lights and fuss and especially the baking, but the emphasis on family in many traditions and a lot of the media makes this single woman feel a little left out.

Mrs. Stahl pretty much just said "try to work on your emotions, and we'll discuss it further next time." I'll try, but as I keep trying to explain to Mom, it's not that easy to overcome a lifetime of bad habits.

It was hard to be upset when you walked out into a blue sky and oddly warm 78 degree day. I had a very late lunch at Animo's Burritos and Juice. They moved into Cold Stone Creamery's old building a few doors down from Starbucks' and a block from Mrs. Stahl's office a few months ago. I hadn't had a chance to eat there since they moved. While my favorite "Quick Chicken" burrito is gone, I did enjoy the tasty Chicken and Gucamole burrito - it also had spinach, tomato, and Amino's house vinaigrette. The Green Lemon Aid juice (apples, lemons, greens) wasn't nearly as good. They really overloaded the lemons there! It was almost too sour to drink. I didn't finish it. They were surprisingly busy for 3 in the afternoon, with families coming in from walks, older couples enjoying each other's company, and office professionals using the Wi-Fi.

I rode down Haddon Avenue after lunch, stopping at Primo's Water Ice in Westmont for a cool treat. I figured Pumpkin was appropriate for the time of year. (It tasted faintly of mint - mint chocolate chip must have been the last flavor the girl scooped out.) They were busy with kids just out of school. An older girl played with her sisters in the "Ice Box" events room in the back, and more kids were coming as I was leaving.

I continued into Collingswood, turning to Atlantic Avenue to avoid the rush hour traffic on Haddon. I'd been putting off getting my hair done, but it was now too frizzy to ignore. Thankfully, the Hair Cuttery was empty when I arrived. I just had my hair trimmed and layered. I don't get as much cut off in the fall, since we're coming up on the winter. I just get tired of the frizz.

I made a brief stop at the Rite Aid next-door for Halloween cards, then went straight home. When I got in, I made Turkey Stir Fry from leftovers for dinner while watching Ghostbusters. A trio of former Columbia University professors (Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, and the late Harold Ramis) go into business for themselves as professional ghost hunters. At first, the only client they can get is a classical musician (Sigorney Weaver) who seems to have the spirit of a god in her refrigerator. Eventually, business booms, so much that they hire a fourth guy to help out (Ernie Wilson). When the musician and her nerdy neighbor (Rick Moranis) are possessed by a pair of evil deities, the Ghostbusters are on the case...if they can get past the petty bureaucrat (William Atherton) with a grudge against them.

One of the best comedies of the 80s is a long-time favorite of mine. I grew up in a place where ghost sightings seemed a little more likely than most. If the stories are to be believed, Cape May may have more spirit residents than live ones. My sisters and I used to run around our house in the dark with backpack "Proton Packs," looking for ghosts.

Ackroyd, Murray, and Ramis are all excellent as three very modern mad scientists; Ramis is fun as the ultimate annoying neighbor, too. A little too spooky for the young ones, but for families with older kids and anyone with fond memories of this franchise from their childhood, this is still a great deal of fun and is highly recommended. (Even if you're normally horror-phobic, like me.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bowery Monster Mash

Began another gorgeous fall morning with a spooky episode of Get Smart from the first season. Max thinks a "Weekend Vampire" is killing off control agents with an object that leaves two puncture-like marks in the victim. The Chief has a different idea and sends 99 and Max after a former Control scientist who was fired after performing strange experiments.

Switched to a pair of scary animated shorts as I got ready for work. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has to deal with "Spooks" when his girlfriend Kitty makes a deal with a Phantom of the Opera-like character. Daffy Duck has his only go-around with Witch Hazel in "A Haunting We Will Go." When his niece runs home frightened because she just saw a real witch, he's determined to show her that witches aren't real. This witch isn't real...not exactly. A tired Hazel turned Speedy into a witch and leaves him to take care of her home, which leads to all kinds of complications when Daffy turns up trying to figure out who this lady is!

Work was fairly quiet for most of the day...until rush hour, when it once again got busy. Other than I was tired and frustrated with myself, work went fairly quickly. My relief was late, but a manager was nice enough to come in for me.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then ran the Bowery Boys as I made Peanut Butter Cookie Bars. The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters is probably the most popular of the five horror-themed movies done throughout the series. Sach and Slip want to talk to the Gravesends into turning their lot into a park for the local kids. The Gravesends, however, have other ideas. Two mad scientists want Sach and Slip's heads for their robot and gorilla. The younger woman is a vampiress and is out for blood...literally. Granny wants to feed them to her man-eating tree! The Boys now just hope they can get themselves and their heads out in one piece!

The Boys weren't the only ones who dealt with horror and scary characters. Larry Appleton learns a lesson in the power of the imagination in the fourth season Perfect Strangers episode "Aliens." After watching 12 hours of a horror movie marathon at a Halloween party, Larry dreams that Balki is an alien who is bent on taking over the Earth!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Battle of the Birds

Started a gorgeous, sunny, windy morning with Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast while listening to Witchcraft...! I found this 50s LP at a yard sale about two or three years ago. It's an instrumental collection of magic, witch, and supernatural-themed standards - "Old Devil Moon," "In the Still of the Night," the title song. It makes great background music in the fall when you're short on time, since it's not that long.

Work was very, very busy all day! Everyone must be getting ready for all the fall and Halloween parties this week, along with the Eagles-Cardinals game tonight. Thankfully, there were no major problems, and the day went quickly. My relief was one of the college boys who is always on time.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes and listened to my Halloween cover cassette until the game came on. It was crazy. I've never seen a game with so many penalties. There was a penalty every other minute! Lots of injuries, too. I still don't know what happened to that one Cardinal player who had the nasty concussion. In the end, the Eagles made too many mistakes, including two big turnovers that cost them chances at points. The Cardinals out-ran them 24-20.

I had more luck with dinner. I made a tasty variation on the Cincinnati Chili recipe from Kit's Cooking Studio. I used the sweet spices with no cocoa (I'm out) and with green peppers and carrots added for more color and vitamins. The Apricot Honey Bread I made from the recipe in The Pooh Cook Book came out even better, perfectly moist and tender with just enough sweetness.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Perfect Fall Weather

It was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny morning when I awoke to this week's American Top 40 re-run. We jumped back in the 80s four years to 1983. Country, New Wave, pop, soul, duets, and dance songs were the rage when I was 4 years old. Hits that late October included "True" by Spandau Ballet, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie, "Say, Say, Say" by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel, and "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" by Air Supply. That week's number one song was the biggest hit duet in a year filled with them, "Islands In the Stream" by Dolly Pardon and Kenny Rogers.

Ran a couple of horror-themed shorts from Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater as I got organized for my errands. "The Phantom of the Theater" isn't whom Hello Kitty and her friends think it is when they find themselves dealing with scary pranks behind and under the stage. Catnip isn't happy to be playing the non-too-glamorous "Frankencat," a mad scientist who is bent on creating the perfect robotic monster (Grinder the Bulldog). She gets more into "Catula," a milk-obsessed vampire who meets her match in Hello Kitty and her buddies.

I checked out two yard sales in Oaklyn and Collingswood but found nothing of interest. Went right to the Collingswood Farm Market after that. The Farm Market is on its last month. Several booths are gone, and others were replaced by craft booths. There's still quite a bit of produce to be had, though. Green beans and eggplants are done, replaced by the first celery of the season. I ended up with apples (tiny Golden Delicious), cranberries, mushrooms, a tomato, and a red and a green pepper.

I spent the next hour riding around Collingswood, looking for three yard sales I just could not find. I never saw any other yard sales today. At least it was a lovely day for a ride. It was very windy, but the sun was shining, and it felt warm, but not hot. The air had the slightly smoky, leaf-crackly musty smell of fall. Almost everyone has their Halloween decorations out. Most of Collingswood doesn't get too heavy into the darker side of Halloween, but I did see some pumpkins and cobwebs on bushes.

Speaking of Halloween, I gave myself an extra special seasonal treat on the way home. Matt at Dinosaur Dracula did a blog post on the Ghostbusters-themed doughnut Krispy Kreme has out this month. I was willing to try a Stay Puff Marshmallow doughnut. There's also a doughnut with a gummy version of the Ghostbusters symbol on the front, but when will I ever again be able to say again that I ate the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man? The doughnuts are appropriately marshmallow-filled (it tastes vaguely of maple). Still too sweet for my blood, but not horrible.

I made a quick stop at CVS on the way home for a sparkling pineapple-coconut drink and Pantene curl formula conditioner (they seem to be the only ones with a curl formula) before heading for the Oaklyn Library. Probably due to the beautiful weather, there wasn't much going on there. I organized the adult DVD section and a few kids' DVDs, but was otherwise in and out in 20 minutes.

When I got home, I had the last of the bean-vegetable soup with the other half of my baked acorn squash while watching some slightly spooky New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episodes. Pooh finds himself caught in the middle when Piglet's "not so scary story" turns into the tale of "The Monster Frankenpooh," thanks to a horror-loving Tigger. "Things That Go Piglet In the Night" frighten the little fellow so, he runs out of his home in a pillow case that makes him look like a ghost. The others think the Hundred Acre Woods is haunted and search for the "spookables." Pooh and Piglet think they're on "Pooh Moon," but they're really just at the other side of the Hundred Acre woods, lost after Tigger's camp-out ghost story gets out of hand.

Switched to Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost as I did some chores around the apartment. The second Scooby direct-to-home-media movie has the gang in Massachusetts, visiting the home town of popular horror author Ben Ravenscroft (Tim Curry). The town is gearing up for their huge fall festival. This year, they're especially excited about the concert by local goth-rock group The Hex Girls and the tourists coming to the puritan village they built over the ruins of their old town. The appearances of the ghost of Ben's ancestor, who was burned at the stake for witchcraft, is bringing even more excitement. Is the ghost really a witch like the stories say, or was she merely a misunderstood healing women, as Ben keeps insisting? And what do the Hex Girls have to do with it all?

One of the best Scooby movies, especially for older kids. The Hex Girls proved so popular here, they would turn up again in episodes of What's New Scooby Doo? and Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated.

I worked on organizing all the junk I'd piled up in the back room to be donated during the movie. To my surprise, it was mainly clothes, books, and videos. Clothes go into the donation bins in the back of the Acme or in the Westmont Plaza's parking lot. The media will go to the libraries I volunteer for. The very few things that fall into neither of those categories (including all those DVD cases I cleared out this summer) will go to the church thrift shop.

Went right into the bath after the movie ended. Ahhh. That was nice. I listened to one of my Lost In Boston CDs of music cut from Broadway musicals (including four dropped from I Do! I Do!) and looked over The Happiness Project while I relaxed.

Switched to Mad Monster Party as I started dinner. One of the few full-length features done by Rankin-Bass is one of the strangest horror cartoons I've ever seen. Baron Von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) calls together all of the great monsters of the world to attend a huge party and meet his heir, his nerdy nephew Felix (Allen Swift). His assistant Francesca (Gale Garnett) isn't too keen on the idea. The monsters are even less so, especially the Bride of Frankenstein (Phyllis Diller) and her mate. Felix really doesn't want the job, but the monsters would rather get rid of him than listen. Jealous Francesca really causes a mess when she invites the last monster on the planet who should be on the island!

Very, very weird. So weird, it makes even Phyllis Diller look fairly normal. It's too bizarre for little kids expecting Rudolph, but for older kids and teens who are willing to try something a little different, it's worth a look.

And I'm proud of how my dinner came out. I made a delicious meal of the turkey tenderloin in cracked pepper sauce I bought yesterday, roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed cauliflower, and baked sweet potato. Oh, yum, yum. Other than there was too much pepper in the turkey sauce, everything came out just perfectly.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sunset Dinner at Sonic

Started a sunny, cool morning with breakfast and Moonlighting. In the fifth season episode "I See England, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld," Maddie and David find themselves confronting their mortality when a client dies of a heart attack while waiting in their office. Shortly afterwards, his partner arrives, looking for something he had on him. The duo find themselves being chased by three spies, spending time with a corpse, and arguing over the idea of the afterlife and if there really is anything "on the other side."

I actually showed up a little early at work. I thought I was supposed to be there at 11, but the schedule said 11:30. At any rate, I did stay until 5:30, and it was probably a good thing, too. We were busy all afternoon, and it just got worse during rush hour. I was just barely able to shut down and get out on time.

(Oooh, and I got a compliment from two managers and a customer. Someone gave me all 10s for dealing well with a customer who was nasty yesterday. I'll have a five-star card up for a drawing for a 50-dollar gift card this week.)

I went right into grocery shopping after work. I didn't need a whole lot this week. The big thing was meat. I found a small seasoned turkey tenderloin with a manager's coupon. I'll have that for dinner tomorrow. Pillsbury Cake Mix was 99 cents - I bought a box of Devil's Food Cake to replace the chocolate mix I used earlier in the week. Restocked unbleached white flour, applesauce, double A batteries, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (not on sale, but Smart Balance doesn't make the 50/50 butter anymore).

Next week's schedule is slightly better than this week's. I'm still not happy about having to work early on Sunday (though 9:30 to 3:30 does mean I'll be out just in time for the Eagles-Cardinals game). I work 1 to 7 on Halloween. That means I'll miss trick-or-treat, but should be back in Oaklyn right on time for the parade. The parade is supposed to be at 7, but Oaklyn parades NEVER start on time. I have Tuesday and Wednesday off, Tuesday for counseling.

After I did my shopping, I went over to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center for what may be one of my last dinners at Sonic of the year. Despite the nice night, the patio wasn't busy when I arrived. I got my loaded cheeseburger, tater tots, and cherry limeade quickly. By the time a couple of pre-teen boys were ordering Dr. Peppers and bacon cheeseburgers with extra cheese, I was finishing my limeade and enjoying the gorgeous magenta sunset over the Black Horse Pike.

When I got home, I put everything away while running another horror-themed TV show episode. Even Wonder Woman's feeling a bit creepy in the second season episode "Seance of Terror." A little boy with psychic powers is being forced by his con-artist guardians to lure three diplomats from an important peace conference. Wonder Woman has to find where they've been taken and convince the kid that his powers are worth a lot more than being used for con games.

Donald Duck lets his imagination run away with him in the freaky mid-40s Disney short "Duck Pimples." A dark and rainy night leaves Donald at home with a scary pulp mystery that gets a little too real in his overheated brain!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chilled Fall

It was cloudy and cold but not raining this morning when I headed to work. This continued for the rest of the afternoon, as people who avoided coming out tomorrow took advantage of the drier weather to do their shopping today. It was steady until rush hour, when the lines started to get much longer. Thankfully, the reliefs for both me and the other person who was getting off were right on time. I was able to hurry out with no problems.

When I got home, I made leftover sausage with spinach and mushrooms for dinner while watching The Black Cauldron. Taran, an assistant pig-keeper in a medieval-esque kingdom, must hide his porcine charge Hen Wen from the evil Black King, who wants to use her powers to find the Black Cauldron. The cauldron's dark magic could make him an army of undead warriors! Taran's daydreaming leads him to lose Hen-Wen, and when he chases after her, he gets her away but is captured himself. Now he, strong-willed Princess Ellonwy, and Flewfldor the Bard, joined by cowardly fuzzy critter Gurgi, must make sure the Cauldron doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

This was the first Disney animated movie I remember seeing in the theater that wasn't a revival of an older film. It's definitely not like most of their canon. The Horned King and those undead warriors, not to mention the witches and the general dark atmosphere, are genuinely scary. This isn't for younger kids, but if you have fantasy fans or older kids and teens who have seen every other Disney movie, try this one on them.

The classic Donald Duck short "Trick or Treat" is included on both versions of The Black Cauldron on DVD. Disney's only theatrical short that revolves around Halloween has Donald playing a rather nasty joke on his nephews instead of giving them treats. He runs into trouble when a witch sees what he did and decides to get revenge on him. A favorite of mine that's available on several different Disney horror-themed cartoon collections, as the finale of Disney's Halloween Treat on YouTube, and on the last Donald Duck Walt Disney Treasures set.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rainy Days and Libraries

I slept in this morning. When I got up around quarter of 10, it was pouring. I read in bed until 11. Watched Lucky Losers as I had breakfast. Slip and Sach are working for a prominent Wall Street broker...until the broker seemingly kills himself. Slip and their friend Gabe find information that leads them to a local gambling casino. With the help of a sidewalk hustler, the Boys infiltrate the casino in order to flush out the real murders.

It was still raining when the movie ended, so I went online until around 1:30. By that point, I decided I just couldn't wait anymore. I had DVDs that had to go back. I picked up my DVDs, went outside, and got wet.

The Haddon Township Library was busy; a lot of people must have come to avoid the nasty weather. I mostly concentrated on shelving and organizing the kids' DVDs. Still couldn't get all those "S" titles on there. (It's those darn Scooby Doo cartoons. They have every single one released in the last five years, and some older movies. I like Scooby too, but really, there are limits.) There were also lots of adult DVDs to put away, though only one CD. I didn't take out anything myself. I have tons of movies to watch that I've bought over the past few weeks, and plenty to watch for Halloween, too.

I made a quick stop at Thriftway on the way home. I wanted to buy a hoagie for a very late lunch. Turned out they were also having a sale on the box of Domino's Dark Brown Sugar for $1.19, and their regular large eggs are only $1.99. Stopped at Dollar Tree as well, but couldn't find anything for my Halloween costume and left with nothing. By that point, the rain was down to light showers, though it would pick up on and off even as I made my way home.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening at my apartment. The continuing rain made it no day to be running around. I baked a Chocolate Mint Cake and had leftover chicken sausage and fried peppers with Brussels sprouts for dinner while dubbing McLintock! This 1963 John Wayne vehicle is one of his more popular comedies. The title character is the owner of a huge ranch spread in a small town in the west in the early 1900s. The town is seeing big changes that McLintock doesn't entirely approve of. More settlers are moving in, and with them come more disputes over land. The local Native Americans, who have long been friendly with the townspeople, are getting pushed off of their land, too. Matters come to a head when McLintock's stuffy wife (Maureen O'Hara) comes to town to seek a divorce and custody of their daughter Rebecca (Stephanie Powers). The battle of the sexes is on, not helped by the arrival of an attractive cook (Yvonne DiCarlo) who has enough sense to know how to deal with both McLintocks.

This movie brings back many wonderful memories of when Dad first bought the video in the early 90s. He loved it as a kid, and we used to watch it all the time with him. The Taming of the Shrew-inspired story hasn't always dated well, but it's still very funny, especially the brawl towards the middle that ultimately has just about every character in the movie knocked into a mud pit. A must if you're a fan of Wayne or O'Hara, especially his later comedies.

Switched back to the Bowery Boys as I cleaned up from dinner. Slip thinks he's Hard Boiled Mahoney when he and Sach stumble onto a case involving a missing young woman. As it turns out, there's a lot more to this case than meets the eye. Slip and the Boys may not get the chance to find out when a phony medium and his men chase them all over town, including into a radio game show!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fall Trip to Deptford

I spent the morning of the first of my two days off sleeping until 9:30. When I got up, I finished Watership Down, then wrote in my journal. There was already noise downstairs, even as I got dressed. When I came home last night, I discovered that wooden columns had been added to the sides of the stairs to my apartment for more support. They were already out there finishing them as I moved to Cranapple Muffins and an apple for breakfast and watched two TV show episodes with spooky themes.

Laverne and Shirley go looking for a couch in a creepy old manor in the second season episode "Haunted House." Their guy buddies Lenny and Squiggy join them...until they and the man from the city who was selling the couch disappear! Now they have to figure out how to get out and what's making that noise, before they're the next ones to vanish.

The Monkees also dealt with a supposedly haunted house in the first season episode "Monkee See, Monkee Die." They inherit the organ from a deceased millionaire, but don't expect to find themselves spending the night in his spooky old home, with relatives disappearing and Davy falling for the niece who inherits the house. It's Davy who finally come up with the solution when they discover who's been behind the mystery.

It was past 12:30 when I finally made it to the laundromat. It was dead as could be when I arrived. While the washer was running, it was just me and The Young and the Restless. By the time more people were using the washers, my load was in the drier.

I quickly put everything away when I got in, then went right back out again. I wanted to pick up the 2:40 bus to Deptford. There wouldn't be another one until 4! At least it was a nice day for a bike ride. Far from the rain we were supposed to have today, it was sunny and bright, with barely any wind. I made it to Barrington with enough time to spare to grab a slice of pizza and a Coke Zero for a late lunch.

I wanted to keep my Deptford errands short this time. Hit Target right when I got in. They were even quieter than the laundromat. I mainly needed underwear. Their selection is far better than Wal Mart's (and they usually have most of theirs in stock).

Though I explored their toys and stationary, the other reason I was there was to take a look at their seasonal section. Target always has a great seasonal section. They have things that no one else Maple Brown Sugar Pillsbury Cake Mix and Maple Bacon Betty Crocker Cookie Mix. I also picked up Jet Marshmallow Pumpkin Spice Mallows, which look like a seasonal variation on those flavored and shaped marshmallows Jet did a few years ago. I really miss those. Didn't find any DVDs this time, though, not even random Halloween cartoons. Grabbed lemon extract as well - it's cheaper at Target.

(Oh, and Matt and all Dinosaur Dracula regulars, yes, I did see this year's retro Monster Cereal boxes, including those for the fruit snacks. Yes, the masks on the back are cool. No, I didn't buy them. I still don't eat cereal with marshmallows or fruit snacks.)

It was such a nice day, I decided to take a short walk. Not to the Deptford Mall; I just did a mall last week. I had a 20% off coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond, so I headed across the street to the newly rebuilt shopping center across from the Deptford Mall.

I took a look at the Christmas Tree Shoppe first. The place was ENORMOUS. It was sort of a cross between Michaels' and Bed Bath & Beyond. Both BB&B and Christmas Tree Shoppe had huge food sections, filled with fancy imported and gourmet items. The Christmas Tree Shoppe had elaborate Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations in addition to actual Christmas things. I didn't get anything at the Christmas Tree Shoppe. I used my coupon on a new long rectangular cake pan from Bed Bath & Beyond. It was a beautiful nonstick Wilton Advance that had a heavy plastic lid with a handle. The sale was $14.99; the coupon brought it down to $11.99.

I picked up the bus home in front of the empty building that used to be Bally's Gym. Had no problem either way, despite taking the trip home during rush hour. When I got back into Barrington, I unlocked my bike and road straight home, mostly taking the back roads to avoid the traffic.

After I got home, I put everything away, then made the Maple Bacon Cookies while watching more horror-oriented TV show episodes. "The Boy Who Left Home to Learn About the Shivers" is one of the lesser-known stories covered by Fairie Tale Theatre. The boy in question is Marvin (Peter MacNichol), an innocent peasant who has never felt scared in his life. His father throws him out, and he heads to Transylvania in an attempt to learn about fear. A king (Christopher Lee) offers him his greatest treasure if he can spend three nights in a haunted castle. He accepts...but nothing, not the sorcerer's powers or the ghosts or the ghouls who want to go bowling...seems to really scare him. Nothing except maybe his love for the inkeeper's pretty daughter (Dana Barron).

Alton Brown finds himself in an equally frightening pie shop in "Oh My, Meat Pie," a Good Eats spoof of Sweeney Todd. Alton (or his great-great-grandfather) shows the makers of "the worst meat pies in London" how to make the perfect Shepard's and Mincemeat Pie. They keep avoiding his questions as to what meat they're bringing him, though....

Oh, and work on the porch proper has commenced. The railings around the side of the porch that's sagging have been removed, and that side is now taped off. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cold Monday

My apartment was freezing when I awoke this morning! I didn't really want to get out of bed, but I had late morning work. I warmed up with oatmeal and Cranberry Flummery while watching the Bowery Boys. They're Trouble Makers when they witness a murder in a high-rise hotel via telescope, but no one believes them, not even their cop buddy Gabe. After meeting the deceased's daughter in the morgue, she gets them jobs as belhops so they can continue their investigation.

Work was actually pretty boring for at least five of the seven hours I worked today. In fact, I spent a lot of the early afternoon doing returns. It did start to pick up during rush the point where I had a line down the aisle by 6:30 and no relief. The manager originally wanted me to just close. I would have been there forever! She finally sent in one of the college boys who stocks shelves.

When I got home, I had leftover broccoli and the last of the hamburger pie for dinner while watching more Toy Story shorts. When Barbie and Ken's "Hawaiian Vacation" is cut short by a blizzard, the rest of their friends try to create a tropical resort for them right in their human Bonnie's room.

A trip to a local fast food restaurant results in Bonnie accidentally leaving Buzz in the playground in "Small Fry." She takes home the Happy Meal version of Buzz instead. This mini-Buzz was originally a display toy and desperately wants to be played with. While the real Buzz finds himself in a support group of discarded Happy Meal toys, the others try to figure out how to get mini-Buzz to tell them where big Buzz is.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dress Up Dolls

Started an early morning at work. We weren't too busy at 8 AM. I spent the first hour doing returns. It did pick up later in the morning. Thankfully, by the time it was getting crazy, I was done. My relief was right on time, and I headed out.

I was tired when I got home. I'm not used to working that early on a Sunday! I spent a half-hour or so resting and reading Watership Down. I'm about two-thirds of the way through the classic stories of rabbits first fleeing their original warren before its destruction, then retrieving does for their new warren from one run like a totalitarian state. It's not the easiest read in the world (the rabbits have their own language and stories), but it's a surprisingly absorbing tale for a survival story about rabbits in the English countryside.

When I finished the current chapter, I changed the American Girl dolls into Halloween costumes. This is the one time of year I'll let the historical dolls get away with wearing non-historical costumes. Whitney looks adorable in AG's Flapper Costume from 2005. Josefina is a lovely fairy princess in AG's very first ballet costume from 1995, based around the Sugar Plum Fairy. Felicity tries the 50s in a hand-made poodle skirt, petticoat, and blouse from eBay and Molly's saddle shoes. Samantha is a lovely little AG mermaid in the Sparkling Mermaid outfit from 1998. Molly wishes she were in Hawaii in the hula skirt, lei, kukui nut necklace, and pineapple-shaped ukelele from the 2007 Island Hula Outfit with her Hula Costume red sweater and meet skirt. (The skirt and leis that went with her original costume aren't in great shape and are too fragile for her to wear.) Jessa represents her Chinese heritage in Ivy's Chinese New Year Dress.

I listened to random football games all afternoon, then switched to records during dinner. Ran the 1966 Broadway cast album for I Do! I Do! while eating my Cranberry Pancakes. This charming, rather slight comedy-drama is, simply, the tale of Michael and Agnes, a typical married couple. We see all the ups and downs of their marriage. from the wedding to the arrival of the children, from his affair to her depression after their daughter's marriage. What makes it work is a charming score (including the hit "My Cup Runneth Over") and the performances of two theatrical powerhouses, Mary Martin and Robert Preston. Preston actually won a Tony as Michael. A must if you're a fan of either of the stars.

Oh, and since the Eagles are off this week, my main interest football-wise was in the Giants-Cowboys game. Darn it, the Cowpokes won again, pushing off the Giants 31-21. Mom's Redskins had an easier time, just squeaking past the wayward Tennessee Titans 19-17.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Thank goodness after the rain we've had the last two weekends, I awoke to sunshine and blustery blue skies. Listened to the American Top 40 as I prepared for my Saturday errand run. I was 8 years old in mid-October 1987, when this episode debuted. It wasn't a happy time in my life. I was constantly tormented at school, my body was just starting to change in ways I didn't understand and wasn't ready for, and my parents were having major marital problems. The music I heard on the radio was one of the only constants in my life then. Hits from the fall of that year included "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, "Commotion" by Madonna, "I Heard a Rumor" by Bananarama, "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac, "Who Will You Run To?" by Heart, "Paper On Fire" by John (Cougar) Melloncamp, "Bad" by Michael Jackson, "U Got the Look" by Prince and Sheena Easton, and two remakes of 60s numbers, "I Think I'm Alone Now" by Tiffany and a live version of "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol.

Pop stars Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam had their second #1 hit of the year that week, "Lost In Emotion."

I headed out as soon as the show ended. I made a few quick stops in Oaklyn to look at yard sales, but found nothing interesting. My trip to the Collingswood Farm Market was also short. I didn't really need much today. The Farm Market is on it's last month. Corn and tomatoes are gone, and with them went the booth in the very front of the Market that sells corn out of a truck bed. They were replaced by the yarn booth with live alpacas in a pen. All I needed were cranberries, apples, and broccoli.

I went straight home after that. I put my Farm Market finds away, grabbed the pumpkin bread I made last night, and rode to the Acme. I was off, but there was an Oktoberfest party in the back room. I promised I'd bring bread a month ago, long before I got this week's schedule. There was plenty of food there, but I mostly just nibbled on small things like deviled eggs. It was too early for lunch. I bought contact lens cases (which I forgot yesterday) and moved on.

I took the back way out of the mall, past America's Best and Golden Corral and onto the side road with the baseball park and into Audubon. Audubon and Haddon Heights were having their fall town-wide yard sales this week. I spent the next two and a half hours riding around both towns, dodging traffic and checking out sales.

My finds were small, but interesting. I picked up the book Sesame Street Unpaved (with lots of details on the various characters and the backstage doings) from a family with two little girls. (Gave them a dollar - they wanted 25 cents, but I was out of quarters and the book is a hardback in really nice condition.)

The nostalgia factor was high at another Audubon sale. I found the second-to-last Donna Parker story, Mystery At Arawack, along with three videos I loved during my childhood - the 1949 version of Little Women with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor, the Leslie Ann Warren Rogers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.

By 1:30, I was tired of hiking up and down the hilly streets of Haddon Heights, and many yard sales were starting to close down anyway. It was time to head to Simply Soups for lunch. It was very quiet, allowing me to read my new book and give me a chance to think as I ate my corn bread, Diet Coke, and creamy turkey-pumpkin-rice soup for lunch.

After I quick stop at WaWa, I headed home. Went right in the bathtub as soon as I got in and put everything away. That felt absolutely wonderful after all the running around the last few days. I listened to George Winston's Cast Your Fate to the Wind CD (recordings of Vince Guaraldi music, including music from Peanuts specials) and read The Woman's Comfort Book.

I spent the rest of the evening baking, cooking, and watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf friends have many adventures on their way to Smaug's treasure cabin, from hiding in the home of a man who can change into a bear to a none-too-pleasant encounter with giant spiders to a run-in with the elves, who aren't terribly happy to have them there. Even after they arrive at the town near the lake, trouble - in the form of orcs and nasty local bueracrats - follows. When Bilbo finally goes nose-to-scaly-nose with Smaug, he learns that the beast is more terrifying than anything he could imagine...and that he plans on destruction on a massive scale.

Just as beautifully done as the first one. Basically, if you enjoyed the original, you'll probably love this, too...but catch the original film first to have a better understanding of what's going on.

Toy Story of Terror was Pixar's Halloween special last year. When the toys stay at a creepy hotel, each of them seem to disappear mysteriously. Jessie is the last one left. When she's captured too, she and the others discover a plot to sell them off. Jessie will have to rescue Woody from being sent away...if she can get over being trapped in a box...

Basically a shorter rehash of Toy Story 2, but enjoyable enough for what it is. Combat Carl (and his mini version) is especially funny. It doesn't have much to do with Halloween, but it's still worth a peek if you or your kids love Toy Story or are looking for something new to watch at Halloween.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Not-So-Little Mermaid

Started off a gorgeous, sunny morning with two cinnamon scones from the Acme and applesauce for breakfast and two spooky episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain" spoofs the popular B horror movies of the 70s and 80s (they even have a mock American International logo in the beginning) and the popularity of horror hostess Elvira in the late 80s-early 90s. "The Return of the Acme Acres Zone" gets seriously weird with a spoof of Blade Runner, Plucky and Hampton being spooked by a ghost in a haunted hotel, and Plucky and Duck Dodgers' attempt to stop Marvin the Martian and his protege Marsha from using their machine to suck up the universe.

Work was actually pretty quiet up until rush hour, much quieter than it has been in months. It was so quiet, I spent a good two hours on and off doing returns. It did pick up by about 2:30. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 4:30 that I was able to get off without a relief.

Which was a good thing, since I had my own shopping to do. The Acme just restored it's cheap dollar items section in the first aisle you see right after the bakery/deli. The food was a little too cheap for my liking, but I did buy a bottle of bubble bath liquid. I needed chicken, but there were really no good sales...except for on Purdue ground chicken, which is $2.99. I bought two and a container of chicken sausage that had a manager's coupon. Restocked jam (Smuckers finally developed a spread without high fructose corn syrup, which was on sale), tomato sauce (Hunt's was on sale), light mayo, milk, buttermilk, and canned pumpkin. Bigelow's Spiced Chai tea was on clearance. I love chai (as long as it's not too spicy). Grabbed an avocado, which is part of the big "buck a bag" produce dollar sale. The fire alarm in my bedroom started beeping oddly this morning - it just needed a new 9-Volt battery.

I'm not happy with my schedule next week at all. First of all, I work at 8 AM on Sunday. Why? The Eagles aren't even playing this week! (This is their week off.) Second, I have fewer hours than I have. Third, there's a seven-hour day on Monday. They do make up for this somewhat with three days off, including next Saturday...but I'd really rather have a consistent schedule I can count on.

I dodged rush hour traffic across the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center to get to America's Best and pick up my contacts. Thankfully, they were quiet as can be. I was in and out, avoiding more heavy traffic on the Black Horse Pike going south. (They probably all decided to hit the shore the moment the weather looked like it was going to stay nice.)

I spent the rest of the evening at home, making pumpkin bread for the Acme's Oktoberfest party tomorrow (I won't be there, but I did promise it a while ago - I'll just drop it off at the store) and leftovers for dinner while watching Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. Mr. Peabody (William Powell) is in the midst of a mid-life crisis. He and his wife (Irene Hervey) have rented a villa on a Pacific island for his health, but she keeps reminding him that he'll be 50 soon. He's not feeling terribly youthful...until he nets a genuine mermaid (Ann Blyth) during a fishing trip and brings her home. His wife says put her back, but he's already fallen for her girlish charms and keeps her in the fish pond in the villa. Half the island thinks he's crazy, and it just looks worse when his wife gets jealous and finally disappears. Now he has to decide what kind of woman he really who is real, or one who is fantasy.

This very peculiar romantic fantasy-comedy came out in the late 40s, when Hollywood was experimenting with similar romantic fantasies like Portrait of Jennie and The Enchanted Cottage. Ann Blyth is a very pretty mermaid; Powell has a lot of fun as the stuffy businessman who falls for a a woman who seems totally devoted to him. Fred Clark is especially funny as a local who befriends Peabody and keeps telling him about all the bad medical advice he's getting from  his girlfriend's brother. Oddly charming; if you like the premise, this was released by made-to-order company Olive Films. (The Haddon Township Library has a couple of their movies for rent.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Library Adventures

It was still cloudy and a little humid outside when I got up this morning, but it looked like the rain was long gone. Since it still felt a little spooky, I ran the Winnie the Pooh Halloween special Boo To You, Too! as I ate breakfast. Everyone in the 100 Acre Woods is gearing up for a spooky Halloween filled with tricks and treats...except Piglet. Halloween almost literally scares him silly. Pooh suggests they have a "Hallo-wasn't" and go without costumes in deference to Piglet. No one is happy with that...but after Piglet disappears, they discover that the scariest part of Halloween is worrying about their little porcine pal.

Switched to two 30s Popeye shorts as I prepared a package to be sent in the mail. "Shiver Me Timbers" has the stranded Olive, Popeye, and Wimpy picked up by a boat that's filled with ghosts! The trio have to get rid of them in order to drive the boat home. Popeye notices that "You Gotta Be a Football Hero" to get Olive's attention when she'd rather be cheering Bluto's team. He becomes his own one-man team to prove spinach can fortify the kind of heroics Nick Foles can only dream of.

I had a lot to do today, starting with a stop at the Oaklyn Post Office. My best friend Lauren's birthday is on Monday. Instead of gifts, she requested that I send cookies for her birthday this year. I'm always talking about my baked treats when we chat! Thankfully, the post office was empty and the lady at the desk was really sweet. I paid for regular shipping and headed out.

The clouds were slowly starting to break up as I rode across Newton Lake Park to Westmont. It was getting warmer, too. The trees are finally starting to turn colors here. I dodged dog walkers and joggers out enjoying the nice day.

The Haddon Township Library was the quietest I'd seen it in months when I arrived. I got in at quarter of noon. Everyone must have gone to lunch. There weren't many DVDs to shelve, but I did still organize the children's titles. (Which are still overloaded with the 800 Scooby Doo and Sesame Street collections they won't get rid of.) I had far less to do with the adult titles and the CDs. I did take out four items to watch this week - the shorts collection Toy Story of Terror, the new collection for Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot The Care-a-Thon Games, and the movies Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

I dodged the lunch hour traffic, stopping at WaWa on my way home to pick up money from an ATM machine and buy a chilled cappuccino. When I got home, I put the DVDs aside, grabbed my backpack and a vinyl tote bag along with my money, and went right back out again. I locked my bike at Oaklyn's City Hall, then waited for the bus to the Voorhees Town Center. It was a few minutes late, nothing horrible. The bus was a bit full, but there was no traffic whatsoever.

I got off at the Voorhees Town Center. Though I was there mainly for the Voorhees Library Book Sale, I wanted to eat lunch first. Despite it being past 2:30, I wasn't really all that hungry. I finally went with Juicinator, who sold juices, sandwiches, and salads made with healthy ingredients for a reasonable price. I had a Caprese Wrap - fresh mozzerella, basil literally pulled right off the plant, tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar on a whole-wheat wrap with sliced vegetables and pickles and a strawberry-banana fruit shake. It was tasty and very filling.

The Voorhees Library is directly across from the entrance to the Voorhees Town Center's food court. The Voorhees Library hosts the Camden County Library System's big spring and fall book sale. I actually did quite well there, even better than when Lauren and I went in June. Picked up two fiction hardbacks (the historical epic Dreamland by Kevin Baker and one of Carol Higgins' Clark's more recent stories, Gypped), one non-fiction hardback (The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin), a Backyardigans DVD (Escape from the Tower), and five videos, The Music Man, Down Argentine Way, The Pajama Game, The Corsican Brothers, and Red Skelton's Christmas Jollies, likely a collection of Christmas episodes from his show.

I took another hour or so in Macy's and Boscov's. Boscov's was busy. Macy's wasn't. Boscov's was having some really big sales. I bought a WebKinz Rooster for $2.99 and a new winter purse - a bright red faux leather "mini" purse with a long strap and lots of pockets - for $19.99.

I missed the first bus home. Did catch the second one, which once again, was only slightly late. I also missed the traffic, which was mostly going in the other direction. It was getting dark by the time the bus pulled up in front of the dentist's office across from 7-11 in Oaklyn. I went across the street, got my bike, and headed home. At least by this point, the weather was gorgeous, sunny, windy, and far less humid and warm.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had leftover hamburger pie and roasted Brussels sprouts while watching the Care Bears. Funshine Bear and and one of their kid friends just want to have fun at his home in "Compassion-NOT." They learn a big lesson in work before play when Grumpy gets stuck, and it takes their help to get him out. Cheer Bear helps Funshine beat Grumpy in the Care-a-Thon Games. Funshine is so boastful about his win, he becomes "Shunshine" when the others get annoyed with his big head. One of the kids learns to be brave in the dark during a "Care Campout" when she and the Bears are all out camping near a local resort and the lights go out.

Oh, and meet Brian the Rooster! I spent most of tonight setting him up in his own farm-themed room. He comes with a cute barn-shaped clock that rings reveals a mini-rooster whenever your pet touches it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Wrath of the Vulcan

Started out another cloudy, humid, warm morning with breakfast as I finished Spooks Run Wild. I swept the porch after breakfast. It wasn't as bad as it was over the weekend, but it was supposed to rain later in the day. I actually wanted the porch to be able to dry. (I suspect the rain collecting under debris under the porch may have contributed somewhat to the sagging.)

Ran some seasonal Max & Ruby as I got ready for work. In "Max's Halloween," Ruby is going trick-or-treating as Cinderella. She's determined that Max should be her prince. Max has something scarier in mind - a vampire! "Ruby's Leaf Collection" is just about finished. Now she just has to keep Max from burying it in his leaf pile! Max wants Ruby to read "The Blue Tarantula" to him before bedtime...but this scary story may end up keeping both bunnies awake!

It started to sprinkle as I rode to work, but it mostly just remained cloudy and humid. Work was quiet for most of the day, a bit surprising given how busy it's been. I guess the weather scared everyone off. It's the middle of the month and the middle of the week as well. It did start to pick up around rush hour. My relief was a little late, but nothing too horrible. I got out as quickly as I could.

Several of my customers mentioned that it had poured earlier. The wet streets bore this out when I finished work. Thankfully, it was just damp when I headed home. It remained so as I made cookies for my best friend Lauren's birthday on Monday and finally got to Star Trek Into Darkness.

This time, Wrath of Khan gets the reboot treatment. After a mission goes wrong, Kirk (Christopher Pine) is removed from the captain's seat of the Enterprise, thanks to Spock's (Zachary Quinto) truthful but not flattering account of events. Kirk desperately wants back on that ship. He gets his chance when the Starfleet Academy is blown to bits by a terrorist (Benedict Cumbersnach) with his own agenda. Kirk and his crew are sent to capture this terrorist without upsetting the touchy Klingons, with whom Starfleet has almost been at war with for years. When they do get the terrorist, he reveals whom he is, and Kirk begins to question just who is telling the truth, and how they'll get home when the warp drive on the Enterprise is damaged. When Kirk takes it on himself to fix the warp drive, Spock goes after the terrorist himself...and proves you don't need logic to figure out the ways of friendship and loyalty.

I did like this one a little better than the first. The characterizations are appropriately deeper, and the plot is more interesting and easier to follow. It's still pretty complicated for non-Trekkies and those who aren't sci-fi fans. If you love science fiction and are willing to try something different in your Treks, this is overlong but otherwise worth a watch.

It started pouring about half-way through the movie, as I was making leftover bean and vegetable soup for dinner. It's rained cats and dogs off and on for the rest of the night, including at press time. Thankfully, it's supposed to subside by early morning, well before I start off on all I want to get done tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Heat Wave Runs Wild

It was sunny, humid, and ridiculously warm for this time of year when I rode to work around 11 this morning. Thankfully, a stiff wind kept it from feeling worse. Once again, we were busy for most of the day. Lots of cranky people and a lack of help only made things crazier. Thank heavens my relief was right on time. I went straight home afterwards. The sun was gone by then, but it was remained windy and humid.

When I got in, I went right in the bath. I badly needed it. Work's been so busy lately, a lot more than usual for this time of year. I guess it's the big sales we've been having. I cheered myself up with this year's American Girl Holiday Catalog. I love the photography this year! The modern (MyAG) dolls are lined up to look like a chorus and orchestra; some even have instruments. The Bitty Baby (baby dolls) are all posed on a couch like they're crawling around. It's too cute.

When I got out of the bath, I had leftovers for dinner while beginning the second of three horror-oriented movies done in the East Side Kids series. In Spooks Run Wild, it's really the Kids who are running wild when they escape the camp in the Adirondacks they're staying at to meet a pretty girl on a date. They're forced to stop in a spooky mansion after one of them is shot by an irate groundskeeper. They seriously regret it when they learn that the mansion once belonged to a magician, and that there's a very spooky man (Bela Lugosi) living there now that may just be the murderer that everyone in the area has been talking about...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rainy Days and Holiday Mondays

First of all, Happy Columbus Day to all Americans, and Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbors to the north in Canada.

Second, yes, the Eagles did shut out the Giants last night, 27-0. It was their first shutout since December 1996. (And I've read that the last team they shut out was also the Giants.)

Second, I really didn't do a lot today. I was up really late chatting with Lauren (who has her second week of vacation starting yesterday) and didn't get out of bed until almost 10. I had breakfast while watching one more Famous Studios Popeye cartoon. Popeye claims that "I Don't Scare" when he takes the superstitious Olive out for a walk. Bluto does everything he can to sabotage his outing. Popeye proves that, even without consuming spinach, he can be as lucky as the next sailor.

The only thing I really had planned for today was getting the laundry done. I'm not going to have the time for the next few days. I thought the laundromat would be a lot busier than it was, given it was almost noon by the time I got in and today is Columbus Day. There was only one other person there when I got in. I didn't have a really big load, anyway. By the time more people started arriving, my laundry was in the drier.

When I get home, I continued The Dolly Sisters, which I began before I left. This is another Betty Grable vehicle set in the early 20th Century that's based after real-life...but this time, it's a far more tragic story. The Dolly Sisters were vaudeville headliners during the years before, during, and directly after World War II. They were known for their "shadow dancing," or perfect synchronization of their dance movements. Their private lives were far more tumultuous. Older sister Jenny (Grable) married songwriter Harry Fox (John Payne), but later divorced him. Younger sister Rosie (June Haver) found slightly more happiness with a wealthy department store chain owner. Jenny goes to Europe to get away from the pain of her divorce, but her gambling habits and troubles catch up with her after a horrific car accident.

Melodramatic account of the lives of two of vaudeville's most beloved stars. Haver is a bit stiff in one of her earliest roles; Gable is somewhat better as the more conflicted of the two sisters. Payne also does well as the easy-going songwriter. This isn't for everyone. The happy ending seems tacked on (and it was - in reality, neither of the Dolly Sisters' lives ended well), and both of the big production numbers are rather dated and, in the case of "The Darktown Strutter's Ball," offensive to many audiences today. Best for fans of Grable or big 40s musicals.

It was just starting to shower lightly when I went to work. According to my customers, it continued off and on all night. It didn't deter anyone from shopping. We were off-and-on busy from the time I came in at 2 to when I left at 8. I had to call for more help so I could get out on time.

The shower was just starting to slow down as I rode home. I don't think it's even raining now.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Eagles Stomp On the Giants

It was a gorgeous day when I got up this morning. I had just enough time for a quick breakfast of Pineapple Pancakes before heading to work. Work was busy all day, not unusual on a Sunday. It was so busy, I didn't get my break until nearly quarter of 3, and I worked 12 to 4. Thankfully, my relief was actually early. I was able to get out with no problems.

It was so nice, I went for a walk after I got in and changed into capris and my Eagles jersey. I wasn't the only one. There were lots of people out and about today. Adults raked their yards and put up their outdoor Halloween decorations. Kids played football in their front yards. Their older siblings roamed the streets on foot or on bike. (Two of the older grade-school age boys riding past me on Newton cheered "Go Eagles!" when they saw my jersey. I gave them a thumbs-up and said "Oh yeah!" ;) )

I deserved a treat after a long, busy week spent mostly indoors. Dunkin' Donuts was busy with people enjoying their own snacks when I came in. I had a Mocha Coolatta. It was really sweet - I think I might go for the Vanilla Bean next time.

I headed home down Kendall and around to Woodlawn Terrace. It's really starting to look like fall here. The trees are slowly getting more and more colorful. Mums and late roses blossom in every garden. Every yard is filled with leaves and sticks from the last few showers. The air is getting that woodburning smell it gets in cooler weather. It was just a lovely day to be alive.

When I got home, I put on WIP on the radio and spent the rest of the evening listening to football. I saw a little of the Packers-Dolphins game at work. The Packers were up 10-3 during my break. By the time I finished, the Dolphins had come back, and the Packers were trailing 24-20. The Packers finally got a big touchdown in the final seconds to win the game 27-24.

The Cowboys-Seahawks game was even more thrilling. I listened to the game as I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and had leftovers and farm market corn for dinner. The Seahawks didn't get as lucky as the Packers. They were up 10-0 early in the first half, but the Cowboys kept throwing huge passes and just plain outran a miserable Seahawks offense to finally win 30-23.

Of course, the big game here was the match-up between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Stadium in South Philly. The Eagles have been freakin' AMAZING. The defense has sacked the Giants' star quarterback Eli Manning at least five times and knocked out their best wide receiver for the season. The Eagles' quarterback Nick Foles got his first offensive touchdown in the first quarter this season...and it just kept rolling from there. As of this second, entering the last two minutes of the game, the Eagles are slaughtering the Giants 27-0.

(And the Eagles aren't the only sports locals to dominate the opposing team today. The Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco, an Audubon native, broke a record when he threw five touchdowns in the first half-hour of the Ravens' game against the woebegone Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the fastest in NFL and Ravens history. They took down the Bucs 45-17.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cranberries, Books, and Doo-Wop

It was pouring like mad when I turned on this week's American Top 40 re-run. Casey took us back to early October 1976, when R&B, bubblegum pop, and hard rock were the going genres...but that new disco sound was really starting to make waves. Hits that fall included "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" by England Dan and John Ford Cooley, "Wham Bam" by Silver, "Still the One" by Orleans, "Devil Woman" by Cliff Richard, "Shake Your Booty" by K.C and the Sunshine Band, "Say That You Love Me" by Fleetwood Mac, "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees, "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago, "A Little Bit More" by Dr. Hook, "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry, and the remake of "I Only Wanna Be With You" by the Bay City Rollers.

That week's #1 hit was, as Casey pointed out, 200 years in the making - Walter Murphy's remix of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, retitled "A Fifth of Beethoven."

It was still raining hard when the show ended. I waited over an hour and a half before I headed out for my Saturday errands. I went online. I read my old journals in the back room. I watched one of two horror-themed episodes Jim Henson did for The Muppet Show. Vincent Price added a touch of spooky class to an episode in the late first season. Meanwhile, Kermit and Scooter deal with a three-headed-monster who wants to get onstage.

The rain finally slowed down enough for me to head out around quarter of 11. After a quick but fruitless search for a yard sale in Oaklyn that was supposed to be held on a porch, I headed right to the Collingswood Farm Market. It closes at noon and is held in any weather. Needless to say, while they were busy, they weren't quite as packed as usual. Peaches and cucumbers are gone, but I did see the first cranberries and Brussels sprouts of the season. I ended up with the aforementioned cranberries and Brussels sprouts, broccoli, a small orange cauliflower, mini Gala apples, and a tomato.

It showered while I was at the Farm Market. By the time I was heading down Collings Avenue, the rain had stopped for the time being. The Collingswood Book Festival was moved to the Collingswood High School and Middle School building, thanks to the weather. The sidewalks were so busy, when I got about a block from the school, I got off my bike and walked.

There was a mob scene when I arrived. The larger used book sales were in tents and under the school's front entrance. It wasn't any less busy the further one went inside. The kids' area in the middle school cafeteria and the nearby hallways were especially crazy. It was such a mess, the musical groups were playing in the hallways! The tents and front entrance were too narrow for all the people shopping. I could barely move without hitting someone's bag or elbow. The writers' area in the high school gym was only slightly less crazy.

Despite the huge crowds, I made the best haul I ever got at the Book Festival from those busy used stands. From the front entrance and tents, I picked up for 3 dollars for the lot:

Wishing For Tomorrow, a sequel to one of my favorite books, A Little Princess

A Mickey Mouse Golden Book for my nephew Khai for Christmas

Holly Hobbie's Cookbook, a kid's cookbook featuring one of my favorite early childhood characters

The Liveliest Art, a book about the history of the American movie industry

License to Kill on DVD, one of the few James Bond movies I didn't have.

And a CD. Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot

One of the used sellers had nothing but enormous hardback coffee table books for 5 dollars each. It was a hard choice, but I only had room for one. I ended up with Doo Wop: The Music, The Times, the Era. I used to love listening to the early rock and doo-wop of the 50s and 60s on South Jersey oldies stations as a kid. Living in Wildwood rekindled my fondness for the sleek styles of the era.

Since I was in the area, I next made a stop at CVS. I needed mostly tooth-cleaning items - toothbrushes, dental floss, brush pick inserts. I also picked up relish for the dinner I was planning for that night.

I was originally going to have lunch at Sorrento's on Collings Avenue. The traffic was so bad down at the corner of Collings and the White Horse Pike, I just opted to go to quieter Oaklyn instead. I had my slices of cheese and mushroom pizza and can of Pepsi Next at Phillies Phatties. It was 1:30 by the time I had lunch. They were busy with high school boys watching college football games and yakking with their pals. By the time I finished, the boys were done as well. I was the only diner left.

I spent the next few hours listening to 50s rock, putting everything I bought at the Farm Market and Book Festival away, and looking over that Doo Wop book. The rain was gone for good by then, but it remained cold and cloudy. Even if my legs and knees weren't beyond sore, it was still no day to be running around.

The Doo Wop book was fascinating. In addition to discussing the vocal bands who had even one huge chart hit from 1945 to 1966 (and the list of one-hit wonders was staggering), there were sidebars on other things going on in that era - the rise of the Cold War and McCarthyism, Levittown, the huge epic movies that were supposed to lure people from their new TVs, the TV dinners that gave Mom more time to watch her favorite shows, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, James Dean, Jackie Robinson and the slow end of segregation in sports, the Civil Rights movement. Quite a few Philadelphia bands had hits in this era, and while most of them faded with the others after one song, at least two - Patti LaBelle and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes - continued making hits well into the 70s. (LaBelle, in fact, would have her biggest hit in the mid-70s, the #1 smash "Lady Marmalade.")

I hopped into the bath around 4:30. Ahhhhh. I totally needed that. I literally worked all week, and when I wasn't working, I was getting things done at home. It felt wonderful to lean back and listen to jazz while going over Christmas craft books and getting ideas for holiday gifts.

When I finally dragged myself out, I started my big dinner idea. I've had ground chicken sitting in the freezer for a while. I wanted to do something different with it than the usual meatloaf, chili, or burgers. I remembered that Mom used to make a very tasty Hamburger Pie every now and then for us for dinner. I attempted a crust, but I made it too sticky and couldn't roll it out right. The filling came out much better. I used a variation on a Hamburger Pie recipe in my 50s Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. Replaced green beans with diced red and yellow pepper and mushrooms (I didn't have any green beans), added the relish I bought at CVS (Mom used to chop pickles and add them to her hamburger pie) and an egg, kept the tomato sauce and diced onion. Topped it with Colby cheese from the Farm Market instead of mashed potatoes. (I only have sweet potatoes here, and I don't think that'll work with hamburger pie.)

Oh yummmmm. It was absolutely delicious. Sweet and savory all at once, with a buttery, tangy crust. I may have to try this again, being more careful with the crust this time.

Ran Scooby Doo on Zombie Island while I made dinner. The first in the long line of direct-to-home-media Scooby movies brings the gang back together to help Daphne hunt down real ghosts, rather than the fake businesspeople dressed as ghosts they always seem to find. They get more real ghosts than they bargained for when they find themselves stranded on an island in Louisiana that's home to two mysterious women who live in a plantation...and quite a few zombies, wolf men, and cat creatures. This 1998 feature was so well-received, it revived Scooby for a whole new generation. While it's still good today, it's also one of the very few Scooby media to play the horror angle totally straight; definitely not for younger kids. Older kids and even teens who love Scooby and horror may enjoy this one.

Switched to some of my public domain Popeye shorts as I cleaned up from dinner. Popeye and Olive are "Spooky Swabs" when they find themselves on an abandoned ship filled with ghosts who just want them to leave. It's a "Fright to the Finish" when Bluto spends his Halloween night trying to scare Olive away from Popeye. Popeye shows that he'd can dish out the tricks as well as the treats when he eats spinach and turns the tables on Bluto.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Put the Blame On Love

I worked a bit earlier today than I did the rest of the week. Maybe it's just as well. Once again, we were very busy for most of the day. We've been having a lot of really big sales. A manager had to come in so I could leave.

I did my own grocery shopping when I got off. It was still busy, but I didn't have a choice. I needed a lot this week. Not to mention, I wanted to take advantage of those sales. Jiff Peanut Butter was 99 cents - I bought the Natural Creamy and Chunky. Acme's generic whole wheat pasta was 69 cents per box. I also stocked up on brown sugar (Domino's was $1.67), canned tuna, canned pumpkin, Craisins, a box of Jello, the Acme brand Multi-Grain Toasty Oats, canned diced tomatoes, and honey. Bought a huge shortbread cookie with a royal icing jack-o-lantern on it as my Friday treat.

Oh, and my schedule is much better this week. Thursday and Saturday off this time, one late day (Monday until 8 again), no 7 hour shifts. Far closer to normal for this time of year. I'd appreciate the big paycheck more if my legs and knees weren't absolutely killing me.

I had one quick stop to make on my way home. I've been putting off ordering my next round of contacts, partially because I haven't had the time, and partially because I haven't had the money. Since I was off earlier, I was able to walk right into a quiet America's Best and get that done.

When I got home, I changed and put the groceries away, then swept the porch. It needed it rather badly. The first of the fall leaves have started landing on the porch. They're not very pretty right now, but the color will probably arrive by the end of the month.

Ran Gilda while making Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (from the Betty Crocker Stir-and-Drop Oatmeal Cookies recipe), then while having leftovers for dinner. Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) meets Balin (George Macready), a businessman who owns a gambling casino, when Balin helps him with toughs after he wins money. He gets a job at the casino and becomes Balin's right-hand man and least until Balin comes home from a trip with a wife, Gilda (Rita Hayworth). Johnny knew Gilda before, but they'd pretty much dumped each other. Gilda does everything she possibly can to make Johnny jealous and drive him crazy. When Balin dies after figuring out about Gilda and Johnny's feelings for each other, Johnny takes over the business and marries Gilda. Johnny regrets both when the business turns out to be covering some shady business, Gilda wants a divorce, and then her first husband shows up....

Wow. This was some complicated and dark film noir. Hayworth and Ford literally sizzle as the sexy couple who play mind games and love to mentally torture each other. Their innuendo is so hot, I'm really surprised some of it got past the censors. Speaking of sequences the censors must have had a field day with, Hayworth manages to make her "Put the Blame On Mame" song number near the end into the sexiest strip tease ever, by just removing one glove.

Obviously, this is one old movie that's not for the kiddies, but if you're an adult fan of film noir or mysteries or want to see what Hayworth could do outside of musicals, this is a must-see.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Listen to That Ragtime

Started the morning by finishing Mother Wore Tights. I didn't have much time after that, so I went into Halloween Is Grinch Night as I got ready for work. The strangest of all Dr. Seuss animated specials returns us to Whoville. A sour sweet wind sends the Grinch a-prowlin' and the residents of Whoville hiding in their homes. Little Eukeriah Who gets lost in the mountains thanks to that wind and becomes determined to keep the Grinch from getting to Whoville with his wagon of crazy psychedelic scares!

Work was pretty much the same as the rest of the week - crazy busy during rush hours, steady otherwise. This time, I didn't get lucky with getting out. My relief was late. They had to ask the self-checkout person to go in for me so I could get out on time.

There was a message on my phone when I got home. Andrew would be coming around with a fire inspector at 5:30 to check out the fire alarms and extinguisher in my apartment. I spent the hour between my getting home and their arrival making the bed, changing, and reading Ragtime. I haven't read this in ages and forgot just how complicated it is. The interlocking stories of three families - one black, one white, one Jewish immigrants - and their lives in early 1900s New York is woven with the stories of famous celebrities of the era - financier J.P Morgan, anarchist Emma Goldman, vaudeville beauty Evelyn Nesbit, educator and speaker Booker T. Washington, escape artist Harry Houdini, car manufacturer Henry Ford, and more. Not exactly beach reading, but if you love American history, the history of the early 20th Century, or complicated stories with lots of characters, this one is worth your time.

Andrew and the fire inspector did arrive at 5:30 as scheduled. After the alarms and extinguisher were duly gone over, Andrew told me that the only major change that'll need to be made to my side of the house is a total overhaul of my porch. It's been sagging for years. Covering the sagging parts with heavy boards is just adding to the problem. They'll have to come up with a way I can come and go while they work. There aren't too many other places I can stay.

Hit the bath after they left. Even just a short bath felt great. I ran the Broadway cast album of Ragtime as I relaxed. I continued Ragtime after I got out and made a quick bean and veggie soup for dinner. I've loved this since I bought the two-CD set almost 15 years ago. While this does leave out a lot of detail from the book by necessity, it also has a wonderful cast performing Stephan Flahtery and Lynn Aherns' gorgeous score. My favorite numbers are "New Music" (Coalhouse introduces the Family to ragtime...and Father realizes how out-of-touch he is), and "Our Children" (Mother and Tateh watch her son Edgar and Tateh's little girl play on the beach).

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Tales of Show Business Past

Started a sunny, windy morning with the 1936 Show Boat. The first half is more-or-less the same as the 1951 version. Magnolia Hawks (Irene Dunne) wants badly to be an actress on her father's (Charles Winninger) steam boat that's basically a floating theater. Her stodgy mother (Helen Westley) objects to any daughter of hers going on the stage. After the troupe's leading lady Julie (Helen Morgan) turns out to be half-black and leaves with her husband before she can be arrested, Magnolia gets her chance. She's joined by handsome gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Allan Jones), whom she ultimately falls for. They marry...but Gaylord's gambling catches up with him, and he leaves. Magnolia becomes a success on the stage to pay for their daughter's care. It's the stage that finally brings all three Ravenals together again when their daughter Kim also becomes a star.

That plot description leaves out the fact that my two favorite characters are the black workers on Captain Andy's boat, Queenie (Hattie McDaniel) and Joe (Paul Robeson). They're just so funny to watch together. They deservedly get one of three songs added for this film version, the delightful duet "Ah Still Suits Me." Robeson's "Ol' Man River" was performed live on the set, and no one has ever done it better. Gaylord's "I Have the Room Above Her" proved so popular, many subsequent stage productions have added it in, including the 1994 Broadway revival. The production number "Gallavantin' Around," with Dunne and the chorus in black face, is far more problematic today.

Once McDaniel and Robeson are out of the picture, the melodrama comes to the fore, and things get a lot less enjoyable. Dunne does her best, but Jones was never much of an actor and can't carry it off. Morgan is far better as the tragic Julie. Winninger is a blast to watch as Captain Andy - check out the scene where he finishes an entire melodrama by himself!

If you prefer your musicals with darker plots or are a fan of Dunne, Robeson, McDaniel, or director James Whale, this is a must-have at the Warner Archives.

Work was almost exactly the same as yesterday - very busy on and off, especially later in the day. We must be getting the tail end of the beginning of the month people. A lack of help, thanks to a quarter of our afternoon and evening employees now concentrating on college, doesn't help. Thankfully, my relief was on time, and I was able to get out with no problems.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then took the trash and recycling canisters downstairs to be cleaned. The trash can smelled something horrible when I took the trash out to the curb. I really need a new trash can, but for now, I scrubbed it and the recycling cans as well as I could.

When I got back in, I made a spinach-mushroom omelet for dinner while finishing Show Boat, then while beginning Mother Wore Tights. This 1947 musical comedy-drama is basically Meet Me In St. Louis with a show business bent. The mother of the title (Betty Grable) starts dancing in a burlesque house in early 1900s San Fransisco. She soon moves up in the world, partnering with the theater's lead dancer (Dan Dailey). The two are a huge success in vaudeville. After they become parents, Grable wants to quit to raise their girls, but ultimately returns to the stage with her husband. The older daughter becomes embarrassed of her parents' profession, but they finally remind her that your parents are your parents and they love you, no matter what they do for a living.

Charming coming-of-age story with some wonderful costumes and really cute numbers. Dailey and Grable were best friends in real life, and it shows in how well they worked together here and in three subsequent movies. This is finally avalible in the 20th Century Cinema Archives if you're a fan of Dailey, Grable, or musical coming-of-age stories.