Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Road to the Super Bowl

I began a beautiful, sunny morning with a couple of football-related cartoons in honor of the Super Bowl tomorrow. It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown has Peppermint Patty leading the football team in the big homecoming game. Lucy makes sure that Chuck will miss every kick...but his mind is really on escorting the Little Red Haired Girl to the dance later.

Move onto shorts next. The Fleischer Brothers put Popeye into two football shorts in about three years. The first, "You Gotta Be a Football Hero," has Popeye taking over for the quarterback on the team opposing Bluto to impress Olive. "The Football Toucher-Downer" is Popeye's attempt to get Swee'Pea to eat his spinach. He tells the baby about a football game during his childhood that he won using spinach. (Mini Olive is so cute in that short, with her little braids!) Mickey Mouse becomes the world's least-likely Tom Brady in the black-and-white Disney short "Touchdown Mickey." Goofy's an even less-likely Al Michaels!

Headed out to run some errands after Mickey ended. Brrrr! It was cold today, probably not much more than the mid-20s. Blustery wind made it feel much worse. Good thing my first stop wasn't far away. I hadn't seen Dad and Jodie for a while, so I rode up to their place to say "hi," see how they were doing, and ask them if they were having a Super Bowl party. I was a bit surprised to see that they were still in their pajamas and robes! They were babysitting Khai - according to him, his mother had a doctor's appointment. Dana came in later with Helio - Khai got to chase him around. And no, they're not having a Super Bowl party. Dad's not feeling well, and the weather is supposed to be lousy tomorrow night.

The Oaklyn Library was dead as a doornail when I arrived. The cold weather must have scared everyone off. It was just me, the librarian, and CNN the whole time. I organized DVDs for kids and adults and gave the kids' series books a once-over.

Despite the deep freeze, I decided to dodge the traffic and took the back way into Audubon Crossings via Market Street. The back road that goes past a baseball field takes you right to Golden Corral and the America's Best/Pep Boys building. I kept putting off picking up my contacts. They've been available since Wednesday, but either the weather wouldn't be right, or I just wouldn't feel like fighting the traffic back there.

Though I was off of work today, I promised I'd bring in cookies weeks ago. I donated my Brown Sugar Bacon Cookies and helped myself to a free lunch. While not as overwhelming as the Thanksgiving and Christmas luncheons, there was still plenty of food. I had a shredded pork sandwich with a broccoli salad topped with bacon, a really yummy tomato-fresh mozzarella salad, bacon mac & cheese, and deviled eggs. I also saw meatballs in sauce, sausage, roast beef, and meat and fixings for tacos. Had a slice of carrot cake and a slice of chocolate cake and two peanut-butter-cup cookies for dessert. Neither cake was all that great - the carrot cake wasn't sweet enough, and the chocolate cake wasn't all that chocolaty. Since I was there, I bought things I forgot yesterday - toilet paper, D batteries, and cooking spray.

My original plan for today was a long bike ride, but it was too cold to be lingering outdoors. I went straight home after lunch and didn't go anywhere else. Spent the next few hours dusting and washing the windows. I can't believe how bad the dust gets, even after just a few weeks. After that, I put up the Valentine's Day decorations. I have two heart tinsel garlands (one red, one white and red), a pink teddy bear tin, and lots of paper hearts and cardboard and Mylar hearts to hang on doors and tape to walls. Tons of old Valentine's Day cards, too.

Finished out the football programming while I worked. Tiny Toons Adventures gives us "The Acme Bowl." The Toons really want to win against rivals Perfecto Prep, but Plucky's defection to the opposing side may set them up for a fumble. Hello Kitty is "Cinderkitty" in Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater. This little kitty would rather be catching forward passes than prancing in ball gowns. She may get the chance to show what she can do when a little magic allows her to be the heroine of the cheerleading squad and the big game.

The Three Stooges twice found themselves stuck on a playing field without a paddle. "Three Little Pigskins" are thrilled when three lovely mobsters' girls (including a very blond Lucile Ball) show an interest in them. They really think they're college football players who can be persuaded to go pro for the big game. They have "No Census, No Feeling" when they search high and low for people to add to their census lists...even on a football field!

Moved onto making Carrot Muffins and eating leftovers for dinner while watching The Road to El Dorado. Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Brannagh) are Spanish con artists who find themselves on a boat to the New World after stealing a treasure map to untold riches. The treasure map leads them to the title city, where the natives declare them to be gods. The high priest (Tony Jay) isn't happy to see his position usurped by people who may or may not be divine. They're eventually joined by Chel (Rosie Perez), a sassy native handmaiden who wants out of El Dorado. She may want to leave, but Miguel is beginning to have his doubts. He's come to love El Dorado and its people. He, Chel, and Tulio have to decide if the gold is more important than their new friendships...and their long-standing friendship with each other...when the Spanish conquistadors arrive on the island hoping to find gold.

This is a hilarious gem with a wonderful Elton John song score. (My favorite Elton John song, "Someday Out of the Blue," comes from this movie.) Though Dreamworks tried to aggressively market it to little kids when it debuted in 2000, it's really for older grade school on up - there's some violence, suggestive behavior, and references to human sacrifice. Mom rented this for my brother Keefe when it came out on video, and they both loved it. Keefe went around saying "You da God!" from the ball game for weeks. A highly recommended and very underrated treat.

Finished out the night as I began, with the Peanuts. Chuck sees a girl on TV at a football game for a few seconds in Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown, and instantly falls in love with her. He and Linus literally scour their area from the stadium all the way out in the country to figure out what happened to her.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weird Wild West

Started off the morning with the rest of The Wizard of Oz and one more cartoon. There's been lots of animated versions, spoofs, and take-offs on Oz over the years. Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater did one of them in the 1980s. Hello Dorothy finds herself over the rainbow and on a quest to find "The Wizard of Paws," who'll send her back to Catfish. She's joined by the Cowardly Rabbit (My Melody), the Tin Penguin (Tuxedo Sam), and the Scarecrow Seal (Chip), all of whom want to make some changes of their own. Meanwhile, the Wicked Witchie (Catnip) is after Hello Dorothy's magic collar and will do anything to get it!

It was flurrying lightly as I rode to work...but even as I dodged traffic and construction on the Black Horse Pike, the sun was trying to come out. The sun would be in and out all day. The howling wind  made everything twice as cold as it otherwise would have felt.

Surprisingly for the weekend before the Super Bowl and the beginning of the month, it was only on-and-off busy at work. The lines did get long, but not unbearable, and we had a lot more help. I think a lot of people did their shopping last week, before the weather forecasts got crazy. As of now, we may be getting a few inches this week, but the real concern is bitter cold and more wind. Thankfully, we were slow when I shut down. I had no relief and no need for one.

Went right in the back to get my schedule after I finished. Actually, I have a very nice schedule, possibly the best I've had since the week of New Year's. Nothing earlier than 10 or later than 7. Monday and Saturday are off again. I'll probably do the same laundry/library chores on Monday. If my tax return shows up by Saturday and the weather behaves, I may make another mall run.

Did my grocery shopping next. I was mainly restocking fruit and meat. Found two-packs of lobster cakes with a manager's coupon on them; bought one for dinner. The sales for chicken weren't great, but I needed them, so I picked up more ground chicken and a pack of chicken drumsticks. Restocked grapefruit, bananas, apples, and powdered sugar. Had a hard time deciding on the Quaker sale cereal I wanted. Picked Honey Graham O's, which I haven't seen since I was a kid. (They turned out to not be part of the sale, but I wanted them anyway.) Bought two mouse traps. I've been seeing mice again. (I need to tell my neighbors about that when I give them the rent.)

When I got home, I put everything away, then changed back into my regular clothes. The Acme is having its annual employee Super Bowl party tomorrow. I'm off, but I wanted to bring the cookies I promised a few weeks ago anyway. There was a sign up on the punch-in clock that promised a 20 dollar gift card to the person who brought in the tastiest dish made with bacon. I remembered that yummy bacon cookie mix I had back in the fall. It's long-gone (and I think it was a Target exclusive), but I thought I could pull it off from scratch. So, the Betty Crocker Stir-and-Drop Sugar Cookies became Brown Sugar Bacon Cookies. I replaced the white sugar with brown sugar, added a little honey for flavoring, and tossed in a bag of real bacon bits I bought on my grocery rounds. They actually came out pretty well, just the right salty-sweet, though a few of the second batch got a little burned.

Ran The Lone Ranger while I baked, and later as I ate the lobster cakes and a spinach salad for dinner. The title character is John Reid (Arnie Hammer), a lawyer who has come out west to help his brother, a Texas ranger, track a nasty outlaw. He's also in love with his brother's wife, but she ended up with his heroic brother...and they have a son. Their town, and the land of the near-by Commanches, is being eyed for railroad expansion by a money-grubbing land boss. It turns out that's not all he has in mind when the Reids and their Ranger party are ambushed. Dan Reid is killed, and John is left for dead. He's found by a wandering misfit native (Johnny Depp) who wants his own revenge on the railroad baron for destroying his village...or does he? His talk of spirits that can never die seems more than a little crazy to John, but he takes his advice, makes a mask out of the shirt of his brother, and becomes the Lone Ranger, fighter for justice and silver mines in a very weird frontier.

Ok, now I understand why this was a monumental flop in the summer of 2013. Johnny Depp made one of the worst-looking Native Americans I have seen in a modern movie (and offended many real ones). The plot was way, way, waayyy too long. A story that should have been a tight 90 minutes or so was dragged out to two and a half hours. Despite being in all the ads, Helena Bonham Carter was in maybe 10 minutes of the finished film. On top of all that, there was pretty heavy violence for a PG-13 movie, including two railroad crashes, a fair amount of blood, and lots of gunplay.

As you can guess, I don't really recommend this one unless you're incredibly bored and looking for a long, lazy weekend rental, or you're a huge fan of Depp. Stick to the radio and TV shows for the real "Lone Ranger."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Riverside Musical Revue

I had early work today. Work was on-and-off busy, not as bad as it probably will be over the weekend, but not horrible, either. We had plenty of help this time, even as most of the managers and baggers were cleaning the front by the registers. My relief was late; a manager came in for me.

When I got home, I did some vacuuming while listening to CD's and records. I had a Barry Manilow kick today. I did Copacabana while I was getting organized. This was a London musical based around one of Manilow's most famous creations. Sweet Lola comes to New York and ends up at the famous nightclub of the title, where she falls for Tony, the club's top male dancer. She's whisked off to Havana by a famous gangster. Tony goes after her with their cowardly boss. Also did some of my 2-disc Manilow's greatest hits LP.

Switched to The Wizard of Oz during dinner. This is the very famous 1939 version. Dorothy (Judy Garland) longs to escape sepia-toned Kansas and the nasty old lady (Margaret Hamilton) who wants to take her beloved dog Toto away. A tornado whisks her over the rainbow, where she encounters a talking, dancing scarecrow (Ray Bolger), a sentimental tin woodsman (Jack Haley), and a funny, very cowardly lion (Bert Lahr) who all want to change their lives. Dorothy just wants to get out of there, so she and her friends go to the Emerald City to meet the title character. The Wicked Witch of the West (Hamilton) dogs them every step of the way. The Wizard seems fearsome, and his orders to eliminate the Wicked Witch seems impossible. Turns out that it's not as impossible as it seems...and the Wizard isn't what he seems, either.

While not my favorite musical, this is still one of the most famous movies of all time, especially for families. Lahr's hilarious lion has always been my favorite part, along with some of the famous music. I probably don't need to recommend this to anyone. If you love musicals, the cast, fantasies, or Oz in general, this is one of the most famous ones of all time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Cleaning

I got the phone call while I was eating grits and a half of a grapefruit for breakfast. The Acme wanted me to come in early. Sure, why not? I was only cleaning today. I agreed to 1 PM. I didn't think it would be much busier than yesterday, but the extra hour wouldn't hurt.

I spent the morning cleaning the kitchen. Darn it, it looks like there's another mouse loose. I need to tell Richard or Miss Willa as soon as possible. Otherwise, the kitchen wasn't too bad. The top of the refrigerator was dusty, and the top of the stove was grimy, but the sink has been worse.

I listened to Billy Joel CDs for most of the morning. I grew up listening to Billy Joel. My stepfather is from Long Island, just like Joel, and grew up with some of the same experiences. My mom actually saw him perform in clubs and in concert in the 70s. His An Innocent Man, 52nd Street, and The Bridge albums in particular were in heavy rotation in my family for years. "Uptown Girl" is still one of my favorite songs, and I think of my commercial fisherman stepfather whenever I hear "The Downeaster Alexa."

I had leftovers for lunch, then hurried to work. It was a beautiful, sunny day, cold but without the wind that had been such a problem for the last few days. They did have a reason for calling me in - lots of call-outs. We really weren't overwhelmingly busy, but it felt like it because we didn't have nearly enough help. There were long lines all evening, and not enough people to deal with them. We're getting close to the Super Bowl and the beginning of the month, too. Things should be picking up starting this weekend. Thankfully, my relief, one of the college girls, was on time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Do You Believe Your Eyes, Or Do You Believe the Forecast?

My bed felt so nice and warm this morning. I was afraid to get out of it. I didn't really want to. I knew there would be snow on the ground, and everyone would be freaking out. I read Anne of Green Gables in bed and did my journal, then finally went to look out the window.

There it was. Pure, clean, and white. One inch of snow. Not four inches. Not eight inches. Not a foot, two feet, or three hands and a leg. Barely one inch. And it was melting, even as I gazed outside. Clearly, someone goofed somewhere.

I shrugged, got dressed, and ate grits and a half of a grapefruit for breakfast. I ran the My Little Pony episodes all morning. I was disappointed to note that the Escape From Catrina here wasn't the original version, but the cut-down two-parter from My Little Pony and Friends. It was still nice to see it again, though, even in truncated form. As with the first special, Rescue From Midnight Castle, this is rather dark for 80's girl-oriented animation. Catrina is a nasty witch who uses the fuzzy Bushwoolies as slaves to make her witchweed potion, the source of her powers. When the Bushwoolies revolt, she tries to capture some of the ponies..and then goes after one of the babies wearing the Rainbow of Light and uses her to get to the others.

The other episodes of My Little Pony and Friends included weren't quite as scary as the special or as some of the shows in this series could be at times. The creative "The Revolt of Paradise Estates" has the Ponies' furniture turning on them when they use a magic paint. One of the babies (who comes to adore her baby buggy that can now sing to her) discovers the magician who gave them the paint and what he's after. "Flight to Cloud Castle" has three of the Pegasus ponies helping a young man who wants to rescue his sweetheart, who is under a sleeping spell, from a flying castle that keeps moving.

Ironically, my favorite episodes was a short, and one of only two episodes in this set with no villains. The Baby Ponies discover "A Little Bit of Magic" when Buttons the Unicorn says she'll send a ball rolling over the hill. They each imagine what they'll do with it. One hopes it'll teach her to fly; another wants to bring it to a magical world of games and toys. They eventually realize the ball never came...but they've had fun anyway imagining it. I've done this many times, and I usually enjoy it as much as the ponies do.

I cleaned the bathroom while the cartoons were on. It wasn't quite as bad as after the holidays, but I wanted to get it done while I had time. I don't like putting the bathroom and kitchen in particular off for long. They get disgusting.

Went online briefly to check and see how everyone else was fairing. The answer was...not happily. People were up in arms over a "snow emergency" that never came. Not only did the storm lose force, but most of it wound up hitting the New England coast. Even Lauren didn't get that much snow in Pittsfield (though she got more than we did). Businesses were losing money and kids were wasting a day home from school for no reason. Forecasters from Channel 6 Action News actually apologized for making such bad calls.

I hope everyone learned a good lesson today. This is why you shouldn't buy into hype, especially when you don't have all the facts. Use your own judgement, and don't do something just because the TV or computer said to.

There was even less snow on the ground when I went to work. In fact, other than some ice on the dead end part of Manor, the streets were totally clear. I rode to work normally and actually got in a little earlier than I have been lately.

I could have been indefinitely late. Everyone must have panicked yesterday and Sunday. We picked up slightly during the 4 to 6 rush hour, but were otherwise dead all night. A lot of people were fussing about the government and oh why did people let the Internet/TV tell them what to do? I wouldn't blame the devices - I'd blame the people running them. Otherwise, there were no problems. I spent most of the night standing around. My relief was on time, and I was in and out.

Oh, and I'm off to do my tax return! I got my W-2 today. It usually takes about 20 minutes to an hour to do my return. I have no dependents, own no property, and work one job. We'll see how much I come up with this year.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Whither the Snow?

It was, indeed, snowing when I got up this morning, but not hard. When I peeked out my bedroom window, I noticed that the streets were wet, but otherwise normal. There was no snow on the streets at all. I decided to take advantage of the lack of precipitation to do the chores I originally planned for today, and even a few I was going to do tomorrow.

Watched my second Valentine's Day special of the season while eating breakfast. Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers is one of the Looney Tunes half-hour specials from the 70s and 80s made up of bits and pieces of shorts with new linking material. This one was only slightly more substantial than the Halloween show. Bugs watches the work of a rather Elmer Fudd-like Cupid, despite insisting that he's meddling. Bugs dodges a plump European rabbit with a crush on him, Daffy the private eye is pursued by an amorous dame, Pepe Le Pew enters the Foreign Legion and chases its mascot cat, and Bugs finds the Tasmanian Devil the perfect mate.

Started out my errands with the laundry. I was originally going to do it tomorrow. I don't work until 2. The snow is supposed to be at its worst tomorrow morning, though, and the last thing I wanted was to be out in it. It was snowing when I arrived at the laundromat. The weather cleared them out. Two guys were in and out; otherwise, it was me and the news, blaring snow reports of anything from 6 to 12 inches. (The National Weather Service has since downgraded us to 4 to 8 inches.) The mayor of Philadelphia was insisting people keep their cars off the streets, so they could be plowed.

After I finished, I went straight home and put the laundry away, then headed back out. The snow had stopped while I was on my way back, but it started again as I headed out. I made my way down to Cuthbert and the Westmont Plaza. Had a nice, quiet lunch at Friendly's. I was planning on tacos for dinner, so I had a nice, warm Turkey Tips Avocado Salad for lunch. It was 1:30. They weren't too busy. There were just a few couples (and one family with a very fresh young boy who was quite rude to his parents because they wouldn't let him use the claw machine).

Stopped at Tuesday Morning next. They did have more Ever After High dolls - that last Cupid, more Legacy Day (fancy dress) Raven and Apple, some Getting Fairest (pajamas) Maddie and Briar. Nope, nope, I not only had those girls, I'm only interested in their basic versions. I finally found some really cute socks and a stuffed elephant for my new little niece Lilah instead.

The Haddon Township Library was quite busy when I arrived. Not only did most of the local schools let out early (before the roads get bad), but the Library itself was closing at 4. I arrived at quarter of 3, which gave me just enough time to get the DVDs shelved and organized and take out some DVDs for myself. I was delighted to find that Escape From Catrina, one of the two original My Little Pony specials from the 80s (the other being Rescue From Nightmare Castle, which I have), is finally on DVD in its original form. I also grabbed On an Island With You, the dark superhero movie The Spirit, the Johnny Depp Lone Ranger from a few years ago that was such a huge flop (after enjoying John Carter, I'm willing to give it a chance), and the 1939 Wizard of Oz.

I made a quick stop at Thriftway on the way home. Much to my surprise, they were actually fairly quiet. There were lines, but they weren't half-way across the store. I expected to barely be able to get in the door! I guess everyone did their panicking yesterday and this morning. I bought I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, grits, and Chuckles (I love those and haven't seen them in a single pack for years) and hurried out.

By 4 PM, the snow was gone. It was cloudy, windy, and cold, but not snowing. I went right home and did some more organizing. My sweaters and my one good pair of winter pants went in the sweater hanger. Rolls of wrapping paper, boxes, and odds and ends were loaded into the long bag. One sweater bag holds large doll clothes for my Cabbage Patch Kids girls. The other has winter accessories.

I now had two extra, empty small baskets after moving the doll clothes and accessories. I decided to organize my junk drawers. The top drawer holds bike tools and repair items, art supplies, tape of all kinds, my glasses repair kit, menus for local restaurants, and my extra pair of glasses and extra glasses case. The baskets didn't fit there, but I was able to get everything in fairly good shape without them.

The bottom drawer was a mess. That's where I keep things that would normally go in a shed or garage - string, tools, nails, nuts and bolts, batteries, three-pronged plugs, my flashlight, every kind of wire for an electronic device ever invented. There was white stuff cracked all along the bottom. I couldn't figure out what it was...until I remembered just how old those big D batteries I'd never used were. Ugh! I cleaned everything out, trashed the leaking batteries, and dumped the white stuff out of the drawer. The wires I didn't put in the donation bags went in one basket. The tools went in the other.

I kept dinner simple. Used some of that ground chicken I bought a while back to make soft chicken tacos. I added fresh spinach, shredded Colby cheese, and sliced grape tomatoes. It was quite delicious and all I needed after that big salad this afternoon.

Ran On an Island With You while I made dinner. Peter Lawford is a Naval officer who desperately wants a dance with a lovely movie star (Esther Williams) he once did a skit with during World War II. She kissed him at the end of that skit...and he fell for her. He's hoping she'll reciprocate, but she already has a fiancee, her co-star on her newest picture (Ricardo Montalban). He has an admirer, too, the dancer who is appearing in the same movie (Cyd Charisse). Lawford runs off with Williams to a tropical island while doing a stunt for the movie, hoping to win her over. She's annoyed and scared at first...until she realizes just how much she means to him. Meanwhile, the film's assistant director (Jimmy Durante) is just trying to keep all the romances straight.

The cast saves this tropical variation on Williams' romantic comedy semi-revues. The movie/island setting means there's a lot more water ballets than usual, including a dream sequence where Lawford imagines Williams among the island flora. Montalban and Charisse have two excellent dance sequences (including a rather passionate one towards the end), but otherwise don't have much to do. Durante is better as the assistant who's been in show business longer than anyone and has seen it all twice. Xaviar Cugat is around for background numbers and to push his chihuahua on a befuddled Durante. Nice if you like the cast or Williams' other musicals, or run into it on TCM on a lazy day.

And at press time...still no snow that I can see. The National Weather Service still says 4 to 8 inches for here. It's supposed to be much worse up north - Lauren may get up to two feet in Pittsfield. We'll see how things look tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow Makes the World Go 'Round

It was sunny and breezy when I got up this morning. I read Anne of Green Gables for a while, then wrote in my journal before getting started. I've had candied fruit from the Christmas clearance tables sitting my my refrigerator for a while, so I made Candied Pineapple Pancakes for breakfast.

The sun remained as I headed to work. Work was a total and completely nuthouse all day long. I didn't find out until later tonight, but it's supposed to snow here, and snow hard. As of right now, we could get anywhere from 4 to 12 inches. They're supposed to get a ton more up north - my best friend Lauren in Pittsfield, Massachusetts could be seeing up to two feet! It was fine today. Thankfully, my relief was one of the college boys who is always on time. I hurried out as soon as I could.

When I got in, I went online. My next-door neighbor Richard was (finally) taking down his outdoor Christmas decorations in anticipation of tonight's weather. I checked the National Weather Service, then looked at some of the doll message boards I belong to.

Spent the rest of the evening baking and listening to records. I used that Cinnamon Roll mix and two bananas that were getting squishy and made Cinnamon Banana Cake. Lowered the fat content with egg whites and slightly less vegetable oil. Yum. A little crumbly, but not bad. Sweet and very banana-y.

Started off with Carnival while making the cake. In this lovely stage version of the film musical Lili, we begin with a third-rate traveling fair in France. Sweet little Lili (Anna Maria Albergetti) arrives and falls for the handsome magician Marco (James Mitchell). Marco, however, is a cad who is already stringing along his current assistant (Kaye Ballard). Lili ultimately ends up working for Paul, a bitter puppeteer (Jerry Orbach) and his puppet ensemble. Lili thinks they're real and really loves singing with them...but she isn't fond of their nasty human. His anger almost drives her away, until she realizes who she truly loves.

It's too bad the CD for this one is long out of print. The music is genuinely beautiful, especially "Beautiful Candy" and "Love Makes the World Go 'Round." Look for the LP if you're a fan of Orbach, Albergetti, or unusual romantic musicals.

Finished up with leftovers and my Debbie Gibson Out of the Blue LP. My sisters and I loved her when we were little. Rose and Anny actually shared the black hat she used to wear. Mom's got a couple of pictures of Rose wearing it at her house. We definitely had this record when it came out in the late 80's. (We had Electric Youth too, but I think that was on cassette.)

(Incidentally, at press time, it's only wet out there. We had a little sprinkle of rain earlier, but no snow.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Snow Day at the Market Place

It started raining even as I finished yesterday's entry. When I got up this morning, the snow was now mostly slush, but the rain was gone. It was just cloudy, dreary, and damp.

I perked up the gray morning with winter-themed cartoons. "Chip n' Dale" had their first go-around with Donald in the snow when he chops down their home for firewood. "Corn Chips" replaces the log with popcorn. The chipmunks want Donald's noisy treat, but he won't let it go without a fight! Bugs Bunny is a "Frigid Hare" when he accidentally ends up in the Arctic while on vacation and has to rescue a baby penguin from an Inuit hunter. "Putty Tat Trouble" pits a snowbound Tweety against not one, but two hungry cats. It's "Ski For Two" when Woody Woodpecker invades Wally Walrus' ski lodge for a meal.

I finally headed out around quarter of 1 (after having to go back for the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon). I hurried down to Cuthbert, dodging rivers of slushy, mushy snow. By noon, the snow was rapidly melting. There was none left on the main streets, and not a lot on the back streets. It was all just slush and puddles. The puddles were so bad by the bus stop sign on Cuthbert, I had to wait on the side of the road. The bus was about five minutes late or so, a little annoying but not too bad. There was no traffic once we got on the road, and the ride to Cherry Hill was uneventful.

Spent the rest of the day at the Market Place and Town Center shopping center. It's one of those new "Lifestyle Centers" that's supposed to be a cross between a condo community and a big box shopping center. When I got in, my first stop was a small toy store, Learning Toys. I was hoping to find the two Ever After High first wave dolls I still needed for me, or a simple but cute newborn toy for little Lilah. I saw no Ever After High (tons of Monster High, though), and most of their baby toys were overpriced. I moved on.

No luck at Barnes and Noble initially, either. There aren't really any books I'm after at the moment. I saw the "Hat-Tastic" Cedar Wood (daughter of Pinocchio) and some "Legacy Day" (fancy dress) Briar and Apple Whites, but not the ones I was looking for. I debated the newest Ever After High book, Next Top Villain (on ballerina diva Duchess Swan and her relationship with her roommate Lizzie "Queen of" Hearts), but decided I'd wait for it to come to the local libraries.

It was past 2:30 by then, and way past lunch. I ultimately ended up at Panera Bread. The Panera at the Market Place is the only one in the area, so eating there when I'm at the mall is a special treat. I was surprised at how busy it was, even at 2:30. I could barely get a seat to eat my Turkey Cranberry Pannini, tomato soup, baguette, and Diet Pepsi. The tomato soup was a bit spicy for my taste, but the sandwich was delicious, with just enough cranberry and mayo. I really liked the croutons in the soup, too. And the baguette tasted great dipping it into the soup!

I dodged the traffic in the parking lot and made my way towards Wegman's after lunch. That was probably not a good idea. Wegman's was a mob scene. They're a large grocery store, like the Acme but with more organic and fancy "healthy" foods, along with a huge section for the kinds of kitchen items  you can find for cheaper a few blocks down in Bed Bath and Beyond. I was there for small cans of pears, peaches, and mandarin oranges, which the Acme no longer sells. They also still had some of the Pillsbury Fall Limited Edition cake and cookie mixes. I went with Cinnamon Roll. I love cinnamon.

Was in and out of a couple of stores after finally edging out of Wegman's. There was nothing I needed at the Christmas Tree Shop. Went in Best Buy, bought the ink I needed for my printer, and left. (The last thing I need right now are more CDs and DVDs!) My main interest for this trip was Bed Bath and Beyond. I used that 20% off coupon on two sweater bags for doll clothes and for my winter accessories like scarves, a long under-the-bed bag for wrapping paper and rolls, and a sweater hanger for my work uniforms and the towel I use for the pool in the summer. The lines at Bed Bath and Beyond were ridiculous. It took me ages to get out of there.

By the time I made it outside, the dark clouds and slight sprinkles were finally subsiding, leaving the tinge of a lovely sunset. I was dismayed to check my bus schedule and discover that the last bus had just left at 4:40 and the next bus wouldn't be around until 6! I debated hiking down to the JoAnn's at the Garden State Pavillion and checking that out. I finally decided I didn't want to deal with the puddles or the traffic and just returned to Barnes and Noble.

The second time was the charm. I was exploring around the kids' book section when I noticed tables listed as "clearance." Among the items on the tables were piles of the original Wave 1 and 2 "signature" (i.e, basic) Ever After High dolls. I grabbed Madeline Hatter and the very last Apple White on the table. (I saw two more of Maddie, two Cerise Hoods, one Briar, and a ton of Raven.)

It was dark when I headed out to pick up the bus. I had a hard time finding the bus stop. The steakhouse it was in front of shut down, making it very dark where the sign was. The huge puddles around the sign didn't help. I was happy when the bus finally arrived. Once again, there was no traffic and no difficulty getting home. I made a quick stop for an Orange Mango Sparkling Ice at WaWa before returning to the apartment.

I got the dolls out of the boxes as soon as I got in and put on pasta fagioli for dinner. Apple White is the (blond) daughter of Snow White who desperately wants to follow the "safe" path and get her happily ever after. She doesn't understand why Raven wouldn't want to play her part in her story, or why others wouldn't want to do what they're supposed to do. Maddie is the nutty daughter of the Mad Hatter and Raven's best friend. Though she's looking forward to being the next Mad Hatter and having kooky tea parties, she also believes that people should have a choice in their destinies.

While I don't think she's "the fairest of them all," Apple is very pretty. I especially love her hair. Unlike Briar and Blondie, her pale gold locks retained their curl, even after brushing, and didn't heavily shed. She's also got the coolest purse of anyone. Her apple-shaped purse is just adorable, and even opens!

Maddie's teapot purse also opens. She's much smaller than the other dolls, at least a head shorter than very tall Briar. She has the sweetest white and turquoise polka-dot tights and teacup shoes. Though her hair was a mess in the back coming out, it's retained its curl quite well without Briar and Blondie's shedding.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Before the Snow Storm

Began the day with oatmeal and canned pineapple for breakfast while watching my first Valentine's Day special of the year. Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You is a holiday variation on Winnie the Pooh/Pooh's Grand Adventure. Pooh and the others think Christopher Robin has been bitten by the "Smitten" bug when they find him making a valentine for a girl. Fearing that he'll forget about them, they try to find the Smitten bug to change him back. In the end, Christopher Robin finally reminds them that true friends never really leave your heart.

It was still sunny and bright when I started out to work this morning. We were busy all day long. I worked as hard and fast as I could! The local weather reports had been fussing since yesterday about the snow we were supposed to get tonight...that would turn into plain old rain by morning. Most people just rolled their eyes and bought their usual orders. It did get bad around noon, but quieted down a little after that. It was just starting to pick up again as my shift was ending; the managers called one of the baggers to finish my line so I could get off on time.

Went in the back to get my schedule as soon as I finished. Another fairly quiet schedule. I have a few more hours and one less day off. Monday and Saturday remain off, no long hours, nothing later than 7. (Which I really appreciate, since it's going to get pretty cold next week. I won't want to be out that late.)

I didn't have a huge shopping order this week. I mainly took advantage of a buck-a-bag produce sale to restock my refrigerator. In addition to the usual grapefruit, I grabbed carrots, a bag of broccoli crowns, celery, grape tomatoes, and an avocado. Raided that buy-one, get-one spiced and breaded meat sale for spiced chicken legs and thighs. Decided I'd make tacos for dinner tomorrow and bought Old El Paso taco-sized flour tortillas on sale for $1.25. The fancy grain-fed large eggs were on a big sale, too. They were $1.99, cheaper than the Acme's regular large eggs! Restocked sandwich bags, cannelli beans, no salt added tomato sauce, brown and white sugar, and crushed pineapple.

Spent the rest of the evening at home, eating leftover turkey tenderloin wraps with sauteed spinach and mushroom for dinner and watching The Road to Utopia. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope are off on their fourth wacky adventure in exotic foreign climbs. This is the only "Road To" movie to be set in the past and in a non-tropical climate, as we follow the boys to 1890's Alaska. They stole a map to a gold mine off a pair of murders...and now some shady locals (lead by Douglass Dumbrille) are after the map! Dorothy Lamour, the daughter of the mine's former owner, wants it too. Robert Benchley provides running commentary for no real reason.

I love all of the "Road To" movies, and this is one of the more usual ones, with a slightly tougher plot. Great for fans; casual viewers may want to start with the more typical Zanzibar or Morocco first.

It waited until I was long at home and online to finally start snowing. It's still coming down at press time, although once again not heavily.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"When the Legend Becomes Fact, Print the Legend."

Today was an early work day. It was flurrying when I went to work, which may have been why we were so quiet early on. It didn't really pick up until noon, and even then, it never got really crazy. I got a lovely compliment from Jean, one of my co-workers, this morning. She said she read my blog and thought I was a really good writer who should look into local newspapers like the Philadelphia Inquirer. Well, maybe not something that hard-news, but something more local, like City Paper.

On the other hand, I got scolded again later in the day. Despite all the compliments and 10's I've gotten over the last few weeks, the managers still say I'm not moving fast enough or bagging enough! I don't hear any customers complaining. I do have a hard time looking into people's eyes. People just make me so nervous. It's hard to explain. I never know what to say to them.

I hurried out of work as fast as I could. Despite all the fussing about the snow and rain we're supposed to get on Saturday, the sky was actually breaking up when I came out. Not only that, but it was so warm (probably into the mid-40's), yesterday's snow had completely disappeared.

When I got in, I went right in the bath. I needed it rather badly after all the fussing at work. I try so hard, and I feel like I never make anyone happy, no matter how many compliments I get from customers. I read Revolution From Within, listened to Lena Horne, and enjoyed a nice, long soak.

When I finally got out, I started Fudgy Mint Brownies (my favorite Fudgy Brownies recipe with those mint chocolate chips and mint extract replacing the vanilla). Made leftover turkey tenderloin with escarole and mushrooms while the brownies were in the oven. Yum. They all came out very well. I sauteed the turkey, escarole, and mushrooms in apple cider vinegar, low-salt soy sauce, water, and spices, and it came out delicious and flavorful. The brownies were moist and soo minty!

Ran The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance while working in the kitchen. Rance (James Stewart) is a tenderfoot lawyer just arrived in the lawless town of Shinbone. He's attacked by local bandits, including the notorious Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) before he even gets there. The town's restaurant owners, including the lovely Hallie (Vera Miles), get him cleaned up and a place to stay. Hallie's boyfriend Tom, a horse rancher, (John Wayne), isn't crazy about this newcomer who refuses to carry a gun...and he's even less happy when Rance starts teaching locals to read and encouraging them to vote for statehood. When Valance nearly kills Rance's friend the newspaper editor after he loses the election, Rance finally decides it's time for a showdown. he the one who really shot Valance, or was there someone else behind the scenes?

A mature and very dark western, one of John Ford's darkest, that dares question what makes a true hero and what makes a legend...and whether the two are and should be separate. Everyone does some magnetic work here, especially Wayne and John Carradine in a cameo near the end as a particuarly hammy politician. The violence and adult themes make this not for young kids. For older kids and young teens on up (especially if they've seen any of Wayne, Ford, or Stewart's other westerns), this is a nice discussion of heroism, politics, and the importance of education.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Boy From Anywhere

Started out a cloudy, cold day with LPs. One of my rarer record finds is the Anne of Green Gables London cast album I picked up a few weeks ago at the big Broad Street FYE in Philadelphia. Originally a Canadian TV musical in the 50s, this was expanded into a full stage show by the mid 60's. Its success in Canada merited it a London engagement. I don't know if it ever showed up on Broadway...and to be honest, it probably would have been a little old-fashioned for the Broadway of 1969, which is when the cast album was recorded. Other than Matthew is still alive at the end, this is pretty much a compressed version of the book. Anne's hilarious apology to Mrs. Lynde in the first act and the first act finale "Ice Cream" were my favorite songs. To my knowledge, this has never been on CD on this side of the pond (at least, I can't find the CD on Amazon). Look around in the used LP stores if you're as big of a fan of 60's musicals or Anne of Green Gables as me.

The girl who played Anne sounded a lot like Alice in my Peter Pan Alice In Wonderland from the early 70's. Since I just finished Through the Looking Glass, I thought the LP was rather appropriate. Children's record company Peter Pan did a series of records based around fairy tales and other popular children's stories in the 70's and 80's. The interesting thing about this book-and-record version of Alice - besides some nice songs - is the very 70's comic-book-style illustrations. It looks more like Alice as told by Marvel Comics, and it's unusual, at the very least.

I went out for a walk around 11:30. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library. Once again, there were lots of DVDs to organize there, for children and adults! It was fairly busy for them, with several people on the computers. I hurried out when I got tired of listening to the librarian and some of the women gossiping about celebrities.

My next stop was Family Dollar. I was hoping they'd have either a large, flat plastic bin for my wrapping paper or a soft hanging storage container for my sweaters. Nope, they had neither. I just moved on and went back to my apartment.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out things in the back room. I went through the dolls' clothes, but other than I removed two of Samantha's home-made outfits, there wasn't much to do there. I just went through them not long ago. Sorting out the boxes I was keeping took longer. They were mainly for dolls, but I also had the box for the Wii, for my new land-line phone, and for my older set of dishes. I kept those for when they start the remodeling and I need a place to put everything. I consolidated several boxes, putting them in other boxes. (I did get rid of Hoppo's box. I'm not planning on selling or getting rid of her, and it just wasn't in very good shape.)

Ran Catch Me If You Can while I worked and had leftovers for lunch. From 1964 to 1967, Frank Abignale Jr. (Leonard DiCaprio) ran a series of scams, making fraudulent checks and passing himself off as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer - all before he turned 21. The FBI (Tom Hanks) are eternally on his tail, and his father (Christopher Walken) wants to cash in. Frank just wants to lead the glamorous life without actually having to work at it...but when it all comes crashing down, it's the FBI agent who finally figures out where he really belongs.

This comedy-drama is loosely based after Abignale's real memoirs (he enthusiastically gave input) and is an unusual turn for Steven Spielburg, a stylish, adult light caper. If you're a fan of the cast, want to see a lighter-than-usual Spielburg, or like the era this is set in, you'll want to give this one a shot.

It finally started to snow around 3 PM. It was fairly hard...but not sticking to the street. I rode my bike to work and had no problems doing so. It was steady when I came in during rush hour, but died very quickly once the traffic did. Despite the managers' fussing, I was able to leave with no relief and no need for one.

When I came out, the grass and sidewalks had a coating of about an inch or two of snow (despite my customers' complaints of it being three inches or more - maybe further north). The streets were wet, but not snow-covered except for on some back roads. Once again, I had no problems getting home.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hitchcock Movie

I slept in again and didn't get moving on today's errands until nearly 1:30. My first stop was Capitol Pizza for lunch. I wasn't that hungry, so I just had a slice of mushroom pizza and a can of Diet Pepsi while watching The Chew. They were making a turkey version of one of my favorite soups, Italian Wedding. Hmm. I was planning on making pasta fagioli for dinner. Escarole might be a nice addition.

Hit Rite Aid after lunch. I was hoping they'd have some large plastic bins or a hanging sweater organizer. Nope, nothing along that line at all. I did get some dollar sponges that the Acme's been out of for weeks.

Went right to the Haddon Township Library next. They were really busy, probably because it was past 2:30 at this point. The kids must have gotten out of school. There wasn't really much for me to do, at any rate. I shelved some DVDs, but there's still a lot I can't fit. I once again didn't take anything out - I still have plenty to watch at home.

Made two more stops after the library. CVS didn't have any of the organizing bins I was looking for, either. I'll try Bed, Bath, and Beyond on Saturday. I had more luck at the Westmont Acme. I bought escarole and Asiago cheese to add to my dinner tonight. I was mainly there for milk. The Blue Diamond almond milk was still on a pretty decent sale - bought Almond Coconut in the hope that it'll taste a little better. The lines were even longer than at Haddon Township. We're supposed to be getting rain and an inch or so of snow tomorrow. Everyone must have thought we'll be getting a lot more.

Went home via Newton Lake Park. It sprinkled a little as I rode across the park, but it wasn't anything major. Despite this and a relatively warm day (into the mid-40's), the park was totally empty. The lake looks like it's trying to defrost. The weather for the rest of the week should help. Daytime temperatures here are supposed to continue to be between the mid-30's and the mid-40's.

When I got in, I went right into organizing more shelves. I did the rock records under the dry sink and the shelves in my bedroom. I've been clearing out books as I've read them and decided if I wanted to keep them or not, so there's not a lot of I'm getting rid of there. I did remove a large plastic bag of stuffed animals. I'm trying to narrow down my collections to focus on some of my big interests - bears, Ever After High, Sailor Moon, American Girl. I do still like WebKinz, but I have a ton of them, on and offline. Also, I'm going to try not to collect any more toys that are only available through the secondary market. There will be no more Effanbee or Sailor Moon dolls (unless I find an Effanbee that I really, really like who is really, really unique, like my African-American cowgirl). I'm debating picking up the Elsa and Anna Animators' Collection Toddler dolls, but they're big girls, and I really don't have the room for them.

When I finished there, I made the pasta fagioli while watching High Anxiety. This Mel Brooks spoof from 1977 sends up Alfred Hitchcock's work and other famous thrillers. Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Brooks) finds himself working at the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous, along with the tough Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) and obnoxious Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman). With the help of Victoria Brisbane (Madeline Khan), the daughter of an industrialist kept prisoner at the Institute, he discovers Diesel and Montague's plot to get more money out of their wealthy clientele by keeping them there indefinitely. Fearing for their jobs, Montague and Diesel first frame Thorndyke, then send an assassin (Rudy Del Luca) to get rid of him. Victoria and Dr. Thorndyke have to dodge the assassin, get back to the Institute, and rescue her father...but to do all that, they'll have to cure Thorndyke's acute fear of heights first!

Definitely one of Brooks' stranger send-ups, especially The Birds sequence. There's a couple of very funny moments, including Khan and Brooks as a Russian couple at the airport, and the whole Psycho spoof with the bellboy (later director Barry Levinson!) who gets angry with Thorndyke after he pesters him over and over to bring him his newspaper. If you're a fan of spoofs or Brooks, this is no masterpiece but is worth seeing at least once.

Finished the night with a 4th season episode of Get Smart that also had fun with Hitchcock and thrillers. In "Greer Window," an injury leaves Max stuck at home while 99 works on a case across from their apartment building. As Max keeps an eye on her, they both discover a KAOS plot to smuggle blueprints out of the country.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kids and Misfits For a Better World

I was up really late with Lauren last night, so I started my rare Martin Luther King Jr. Day off by sleeping until 10:30. (Actually, I originally got up at 9:30, then went back to sleep for an hour.) I then read short stories from the Collier's Harvest of Holidays book Linda Young sent me several years ago. The poems and essays intended for United Nations Day mostly covered peace, something Dr. King preached and tried to make happen, so I figured they were equally appropriate for this holiday.

When I finally got up, I had a quick breakfast while listening to the second Unsung Irving Berlin CD. I love these collections of little-known songs Verese Sarabande put out several years ago. I wish another company would re-release more of them or do something similar. Some (like the jaunty "I'm On My Way Home" or the lovely "Roses of Yesterday") were forgotten hits from the 10's and 20's. Most, though, are genuine finds - cut from Berlin shows and movies (like "But I Ain't Got a Man" from the Fox film There's No Business Like Show Business) or written for shows and movies that never materialized (like "You're a Sucker For a Dame" and the touching "Whisper It").

I gave Mom a second try while I was cleaning up from breakfast. This time, I did get her. We talked for a half-hour or so. Everything was smooth sailing. They got Anny to the hospital before Sunday's weather got really bad, and Rose was able to come down with Khai and help watch Skylar. Anny's fiancee J.J stayed with her and Mom the whole time. He even had time to see his beautiful new daughter before he had to go on a work trip. (Like my stepfather, J.J is a commercial fisherman.)

After I got off with Mom, I finished cleaning, then went for a walk. Unfortunately, by that point, the sky that was sunny and bright had been mostly hidden by dark, dull clouds. At least it was windy, but not terribly cold. It was in the lower 40s, actually pretty normal for January in Southern New Jersey. I hiked up to WaWa to buy a small roast beef hoagie and a Sparkling Ice Cherry Limeade.

When I walked back, I was surprised to see a crowd around Studio LuLoo's and Phillies Phatties on West Clinton Avenue. I wanted to find out what was going on, so I stopped at one of the wooden outdoor tables and had an impromptu picnic. Several of the younger kids held cardboard signs that said "Peace" or "Kind" or "Equality." From what I could gather, they were holding a peace march down to one of the local churches in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Well, the younger kids and their parents were marching, anyway. Most of the older kids whined about the wind and jumped in a car with their older siblings to get a ride to the church.

I followed them down the block, then headed back to my apartment. As soon as I got in, I rounded up my laundry and went right back out. I didn't really have much laundry to do, but I wanted to get it done on my less-busy day off. That may not have been a good idea. Everyone in Camden County wanted to do the same thing. The laundromat was crazy busy when I came in. I barely got a washer. It did clear out enough by 4 that I had a less difficult time finding an open dryer.

When I got home, I put my small laundry load away, then started work on my organizing project. I really want to start clearing things out before I have to clear out for renovations. I went through the record crates in the music area and the DVD shelves and book cases in the entertainment area first. Most of what I pulled were records and CDs; I just went through the DVDs not long ago. (And I just realized I forgot to do the rock records in the bottom of the dry sink. I'll do them tomorrow.)

Listened to the original cast album for Wicked while I worked. This 2004 fantasy tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West (Idina Menzel) in her younger years, when she was an idealistic student named Elphaba at an Oz college. Enemies at first, she and Glinda (Kristin Chenowith) eventually became friends...but have a falling-out when Elphaba discovers that the Wizard (Joel Gray) doesn't really have powers or the best of intentions towards some of Oz's citizens. This is still on Broadway at this writing, one of the biggest musical hits in years, especially with empowered girls.

After Wicked ended, I finished my night with a nice dinner and a movie. I made turkey tenderloin and baked fingerling rosemary potatoes. Mixed the leftover honey-glazed carrots with the last of the Brussels sprouts while the turkey and potatoes were in the oven. Yum, yum. I probably should have let the potatoes cook a little longer, but the turkey was moist and delicious. I hope they have more sales on those tenderloins. They're really yummy.

Finally finished out my four-movie Police Academy set with Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol. It's pretty much the same story as the last one, only this time, Commander Lassard (George Gaynes) has started a citizen's patrol to help the cops keep the streets safe. Captain Harris (G.A Bailey) doesn't like the idea of non-cops taking on police duties and does everything he can to sabotage the course. Once again, the cops play pranks on Harris to keep him from finding out what they're doing...until there's a jail break, and everyone gets to prove their stuff.

Last verse, same as the first. This is more-or-less the same thing as Back In Training, only without the "save the Academy" subplot and with Harris instead of Mauser. Pretty much, if you liked the previous movies, you'll probably get a kick out of this one. I like slapstick and really get a kick out of these movies, but they're not for people who don't go in for 80's "slobs vs snobs/authority" comedies. Also, while the humor had been gentled down to a PG-13 by this point, some mild toilet humor and sexual gags still make this series for older kids and young teens on up.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's a Wet Night For Musicals

It was raining cats, dogs, and chickens when I got up this morning! There was no way I'd be able to ride to work. I called Dad as soon as I got dressed. I called Mom to find out more about Anny and Lilah's birth, but I got the answering machine. I figured they were either at Anny's house or the hospital. I squeezed in some 80s music and Peppermint Mocha Chip Pancakes for breakfast before Dad picked me up and we headed to work.

Surprisingly for a Sunday, work was steady but not overwhelmingly busy. First of all, it's a holiday weekend. Some folks may have headed towards the Shore or on a weekend trip before the weather got bad. Second, the weather may have scared people off. Third, it's the middle of a month that most people spend broke. I was in and out with no problems.

The rain had stopped by the time Dad drove me home. It started again shortly after I got in. I decided it was time to make my seasonal collage and put a dent in that big stack of holiday catalogs. Every time I have a bunch of catalogs I want to get rid of, I make a collage. I mainly took photos for this one from the big American Girl Christmas gift catalogs and the gift guides for L.L Bean and The Vermont Country Store.

Ran two very dissimilar cast albums as I worked on my collage. The 1971 film version of Cabaret cut a lot of songs and added two more (including "Maybe This Time") for the story of a singer (Liza Minellei) in 1930's Berlin and the nightclub she sings at, including the rather creepy announcer (Joel Gray). Minellei and Gray won Oscars as citizens of decadent Berlin between the wars, before the Nazis came in; director/choreographer Bob Fosse won Oscars as well.

State Fair debuted on Broadway in 1997. This tale of the adventures of the Frakes at the Iowa State Fair is mostly based after the 1945 movie, the only score Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote directly for the screen. To flesh out the score, we have the addition of one song from the 60s version ("More Than Just a Friend," now sung by all the farmers to their hogs), two songs cut from other Rodgers and Hammerstein shows, and four from the little-known Rodgers and Hammerstein shows Me & Juliet, Allegro and Pipe Dream. To be honest, despite the fun music, I can kind of understand why this show flopped. Though the performers did what they could with the material (including Andrea McArdle as Margie and Donna McKechnie as Emily, here changed to a dancer), it's something of a mish-mash. (It's probably better known today as the last show produced by the infamous David Merrick.) Cute if you love the film or are Rodgers and Hammerstein enthusiasts.

And I did finally get through to Rose this evening. She had just gotten home an hour before with Khai, who was napping. She'd gone down the night before when they called and told her Anny was in labor. She and Dad watched Skylar and Khai while J.J and Mom were at Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital with Anny. No one got in touch with me because they didn't think my ancient cell phone could accept text messages. It can...I'm just not very good at texting people back. I never could figure it out. I don't know why they couldn't have stepped outside and actually called me, but I doubt anyone was thinking too well at that point.

At any rate, Lilah is doing beautifully and so is Anny. Rose is hoping to go down there in about two weeks - I hope I can join them. I never did get anything from anyone in Cape May County for Christmas, not even a card. I haven't heard from Mom since Christmas Day.

And...ugh. The Patriots ended up mauling the Colts, 45-7. Like they need to go again? The Seahawks-Packers game was a lot more interesting. The Seahawks just barely won in overtime, 28-22. I wish them the best of luck - I really don't like the Patriots and hope the Seahawks run them as ragged as they did the Broncos last year.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow..."

First of all...I just got fabulous news on Facebook! My sister Anny had her daughter today. Lilah Mae is 7 pounds, 20 ounces. Her mother is doing fine, and her parents are as happy as can be.

Actually, that may have been the most exciting thing that happened all day. I started out another sunny but chilly morning with one of the two hour-long specials The Backyardigans did. "Tale of the Mighty Knights" is a spoof of rock operas. Uniqua and Tyrone are the title characters, who were assigned to watch an egg by King Pablo. They don't think this is going to be a very interesting job...until the egg actually starts running away! They, Grabbin' Goblin Austin, and Flighty Fairy Tasha chase the very "runny" egg from the forest to the frightening Dragon Mountain, where they discover just what makes that egg run.

I stopped at the McHugh's house next door as I was leaving. I heard Miss Willa talking to Charlie in his side of the apartment this morning. I was able to give her this month's rent. I also mentioned that Lauren's visiting in mid-June again and I'm hoping the house will be done by then. She says it should be...but when they do get to it, I'm going to have to clear out. They can't have me underfoot while they put up the new windows, toilet, porch, and cabinets. She offered to let me stay there. I could stay at Dad's too. I don't know what I'll do. The McHughs have more room and are next-door, but I do know Dad better. I'm not looking forward to having to take down all my things and then put them back up again. I wish all this remodeling wasn't so complicated.

Headed out for today's errands around noon. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library. I didn't make it there last week at all, and they had a little more to do than they have. The adult DVDs were a mess. Since when do TV show sets look like normal movies? The kids' section was a little better. It was even quieter than usual in there - just me, one person on the computer, the librarian, and CNN in the background.

Dodged the tail end of the lunch hour traffic and headed to Westmont Plaza next. I went into Tuesday Morning to look at their organizers. I want to buy a hanging organizer for sweaters, but I can't find one. They didn't have one, either. I need a large bin for winter scarves and hats, too. They did still have Briar and the two C.A Cupids hidden behind a ton of Monster High dolls. I grabbed one of the Cupids.

I had lunch at the Westmont Bagel Shop. I wasn't up for a huge lunch at 1:30. I just settled on a bacon-cheddar sandwich on French toast brioche bread with tomato slices and fries. They were pretty busy for lunch on a Saturday. A lot of office workers must have gotten off early. A college basketball game went on in the background. A quick stop at Dollar Tree revealed they didn't have the organizers I was looking for, or the sponges, either. I left with nothing.

It was nearly 2:30 by the time I made it to the Haddon Township Library. Once again, they had a ton of kids' movies to return. I couldn't close to get them all on the rack. There were S titles I didn't even bother shelving, because the shelves were so overloaded! I had more luck with the adult titles. I squeezed everything on, even the troublesome M and S movies. There were tons of CDs and audio books to shelve, too. I didn't take anything out this weekend. I still have lots of things to watch and listen to, not to mention I was going to do my next Haddon Township session on Tuesday.

I went straight home. Took Cupid out of the box as soon as I got in. C.A Cupid is a little different from most Ever After High characters. She's a literal and figurative "transfer" student from Monster High, having actually started out as a character in that line. To be honest, since she's a myth, rather than a horror icon or fantasy character, she's really kind of an oddity in both lines...but her doll is very pretty. Despite saying on the back of her box that she's a lousy shot, she still comes with her bow and quiver filled with arrows, as well as her wings. Her flippy pink hair was a mess coming out of the box. Brushing it reveals that she sheds too, though not quite as bad as Blondie and Briar. Needless to say, she's a Rebel who believes in following your heart, no matter what your story is.

I had no other plans for today, so I took advantage of the extra time to wash Blondie, Hunter, and Cupid's hair. Hunter had tons of goop in his short half-locks. It was nice and soft once I got it clean. Cupid and Blondie needed a little goop washed out, too. Cupid came out a bit frizzy, but I kind of like the look on her. I set Cupid up on her stand, aiming her bow and arrow.

After I finished with the dolls, I went in the tub and more-or-less did the same thing with myself. Ahhh. That felt really nice after the running around today. I read Happy at Home, browsed through cake decorating magazines, and listened to Big Band and jazz music.

I didn't have a lot of time for a really big dinner when I got out of the bath. I made scrambled eggs with potatoes, broccoli, and cheese while listening to the cast album for Legally Blonde: The Musical. I found this CD at the Goodwill in Bellmawr back in September and completely forgot I had it until tonight. Elle Woods (Laura Bell Bundy) seems like a typical cute California co-ed, but she's really no fool. She thinks she's found herself the perfect man in snobbish Warner. So when he dumps her for a "serious" woman when he's accepted to Harvard, she follows him. Elle may be super-smart, but her pink wardrobe and bright personality don't fit in at the elite law school. She feels better when she befriends Emmett, a tough student who helps her out, and Paulette, a hairdresser at a local salon. She's thrilled to get a coveted internship, but when her first case turns out to be tougher than she could have imagined, it'll take all her California go-girl smarts to stay in the game...and remind everyone that being blond doesn't mean there's nothing under that hair.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well done this was. The story was really touching, especially how Emmett and Vivianne helped her in the end, not to mention how Paulette's story turned out. If you love modern musical comedies (the music here is very modern pop-rock) or enjoyed the original movie (I really need to rent that somewhere), I highly recommend looking around for this.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Captain and the Lost Soldier

Started a sunny, windy day at work. A cashier who had to go to school to talk to her child's teacher switched with me to get the slightly later shift. I had no problems with that. Starting earlier also meant I was able to get out earlier. It's probably just as well that I did. While we did get a little busy during the lunch rush, it was otherwise fairly quiet all day. There were no major problems, and the college boy who was my relief arrived right on time.

I went straight in the back to get my schedule the moment I finished. Other than slightly fewer hours (and slightly later hours on Wednesday), my schedule is more-or-less the same as this week. I have Monday, Tuesday, and next Saturday off again. I wasn't expecting to get Monday off. That's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we'll probably be a little busy. I'll do the laundry, then see what the weather's like.

Didn't have quite as much grocery shopping to do this week as I have the last couple of weeks. The big one was restocking fresh produce. I needed apples, spinach, mushrooms, and grapefruit. They had bags of fingerling potatoes on sale for $1.99 - thought I'd try them. I was almost out of unbleached flour. I was going to get it last week, but I pretty much ran out of room. Glad I waited - the Acme's generic unbleached flour was on sale for $2.00. Olive oil and peanut butter were also on good sales. I didn't need them desperately, but I bought them to stock the pantry. Bought more coconut milk after I used up mine on the cake yesterday. I couldn't resist Maxwell House International Coffee's Peppermint Mocha flavor for $1.49 on a really big clearance. I love chocolate and mint.

Since it was a nice day and I'd gotten off earlier than planned, I ran a few errands in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center I'd been putting off. I badly needed to order contacts. I'm on my last pair. I dodged traffic coming from the Black Horse Pike and made my way to a very busy America's Best. Stopped at Marlburn Curtains on the way out and picked up a new shower curtain. I literally can't remember when I bought the last one.

When I got home, I was surprised to see quite a few changes on the porch. The railings had been raised from a few inches above my torso to slightly under my shoulders. There were now wooden slats going down the front of them, too. The barrier that's blocking the sagging side has also been reinforced. While this will make the railings a lot stronger, it'll also make it harder to sweep the porch and get everything off.

I spent the rest of the evening making Gingerbread Drop Cookies from the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix and watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) also weathered the events of The Avengers fairly well. He's now living in Washington DC, working for S.H.I.E.L.D, and is still trying to catch up with the events of the last 60 years. He's even been volunteering for a veteran's hospital and making friends with a former soldier named Sam (Anthony Mackie). Things start to fall apart quickly when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is murdered by "The Winter Soldier," a nearly-indestructible assassin. Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a senator and an old friend of Fury's, takes over S.H.I.E.L.D, and immediately puts an all-points bulletin out on Rogers. Now, only Sam and Natasha "Black Widow" Romonov (Scarlett Johanssen) can help Rogers find out what's really going on...and just how deep corruption runs in the heart of government security.

This was a smash hit early last spring with both the critics and the public...and for once, they were both right. Of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies I've seen, the only one I liked more is The Avengers. (I will get to Guardians of the Galaxy as soon as I can either find it for a decent price or at the libraries.)  Action-packed, thoughtful, and surprisingly critical of current government policies and the "war on terrorism," this is a strong lead-in to this summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron. Lots of violence and the general adult feel puts this out of the reach of kids, but young teens on up, especially if they're comic book fans or love the other Marvel movies, will find much to enjoy here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Heart to Climb the Blazing Mountain

Finished out Doc McStuffins as I ate breakfast this morning. Doc herself is the one who gets hurt in "Run Doc Run." She twists her ankle while practicing for a marathon with her dad. She found a toy that fell out of a child's bag. She and the "My Little Pony"-style unicorn both learn a lesson when she has to figure out how to rest her ankle and take care of her patient. "Hallie's Happy Birthday" was unusual in that there was really no patient - Doc and her crew give Hallie the Nurse Hippo a surprise party, but they try to give her a lot of work to keep her from figuring it out. Chilly has to "Think Pink" when he's washed with the dark colors and gets turned pale rose. He's embarrassed by his new color, until Doc reminds him that changes to the body can sometimes make us special. "You Foose, You Lose" when Doc has to figure out why her brother's star Fooseball goalie is sticking (and teach kids a little about sports medicine in the process).

Made a "Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake" from the Vintage Cakes book. It came out pretty well, moist and sweet.

Work was pretty quiet for most of the day. It was so quiet, a lot of the managers spent the time cleaning. It did pick up by rush hour, but I was done by then. The managers sent one of the college kids in for me so I could get out on time.

When I got home, I first finished out the rest of that collection of Red Skelton YouTubes clips Lauren sent me a few months ago. Seeing Red is a short Skelton did for Warners when he first came to Hollywood in the mid-30s. An executive fires Red, then keeps seeing him everywhere at a nightclub, from at the door to taking his order to onstage. Lucile Ball and Red did a cute routine on one of their shows that had them as hobos (he's his Freddie the Freeloader character) doing a song, then performing a pantomime of a matre'd and a customer at a fancy restaurant.

Moved to Planes: Fire & Rescue as I made baked salmon, honey-glazed carrots, and Cheddar Cornmeal Muffins for dinner. Dusty Crophopper is devastated when an important part of his engine breaks and no one can find a replacement part. He can't fly fast, or he risks crashing. In order to help his friends at the hanger re-open after a fire, he flies to a national park to be certified as a firefighter. Firefighting isn't an easy job, and it's even more difficult because the firefighters are looking at a rapidly shrinking financial base. Most of their money is going to a newly remodeled hotel and its used-car-salesman manager. Dusty has to prove that he has the guts to be a real hero, especially when a wildfire gets out of control and starts heading straight for the hotel!

While this was by and large a rehash of the first movie (plane overcomes fears and equipment problems to become a hero), I actually liked it a little bit more. This isn't just about a race - this is literal life and death Dusty is facing. There's also surprisingly pointed commentary on the importance of firefighting, of the danger real firefighters deal with on a daily basis, and on what should get government funds vs what often does.

Some scary moments (and a few Native American stereotypes) makes this a bit much for very young kids, but elementary school kids and older who liked the first movie will probably enjoy this one as well, especially if they have any interest in planes and/or firefighting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Doc Is In

Started a cloudy, cold day with a late breakfast and more Red Skelton on TV. "Public Pigeon #1" was an episode of the anthology series Climax Red did with another former MGM star, Ann Rutherford. Red is a soda jerk who spends the money he was going to use to marry his girlfriend (Rutherford) on a uranium mine. The mine turns out to be phony, sold by con men. When Red confronts them, they pretend they're FBI agents on the track of the real con men. They get Red up and get him sent to jail...then break him out when they realize he's the only one who knows where all the money from their cons is hidden.

I finally got to doing my laundry around 11:30. That was a good time to do it. There were a few people unloading dryers when I was there. It was practically empty by the time I was pulling my own huge load (including towels) out of a dryer. I spent most of the time reading a book of fairy tales and listening to The Price Is Right and the news. (Incidentally, the weather forecasters mentioned that it snowed an inch or so at the Shore, but the storm was tiny and fast-moving. It never got anywhere near here. We had clouds all day.)

When I got home, I ran Doc McStuffins while putting everything away, and then while having leftovers for lunch. The newest batch of Doc episodes revolve around different types of medicine, such as surgery or eye care. Chilly the (Stuffed) Snowman has been insisting he's a real snowman for ages. He wants to stay outside in the cold with the real snowmen, but he finally gets a wake-up call when he ends up frost-bitten in "Chilly Gets Chilly." A toy owl loves to read, but can't make out the words when she loses her glasses, Doc and her crew help her find a new pair in "Through the Reading Glasses." "Disco Dress Up Daisy" breaks her arm and has to have a cast while it mends. Lamby gets a little jealous and tries to get Doc to give her a cast, too. "The Glider Brothers" are a pair of toy planes who just want to speed all over the house when Doc's brother brings them inside! When a crash breaks the propeller of one of the planes, they learn why outside toys should stay outside.

I rushed to work and just barely made it. I could have been infinitely late. Work was mildly steady until rush hour, when it got busy. After rush hour, it died so fast, I spent the last hour and a half or so standing around. Needless to say, I had no problems getting in or out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Live Alone and Like It

It was another sunny, but chilly, day when I got up this morning. I ran the first half of The Hollywood Revue of 1929 as I had breakfast and got ready for counseling. Made in the wake of MGM's Oscar-winning first musical The Broadway Melody, Hollywood Revue was the studio's way of showing off its new talkie stars. Jack Benny is the master of ceremonies. This is best known today for introducing "Singin' In the Rain," performed here by Cliff Edwards (the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the 40s) and the Brox Sisters.

I learned my lesson a few months ago, when I didn't give myself time to ride up to Haddonfield for counseling and was really late. I left for counseling at quarter of noon. Though it was very cold, in the lower 30s, and there was still some ice in places, yesterday's rain got rid of the majority of the snow. It was nothing like last year's January counseling session, when I had to dodge huge piles of ice and snow riding to Haddonfield and wear two or three layers on a day that barely made it into the teens. I arrived with enough time for a brief stop at the Happy Hippo Toy Shop and to get my bike chain replaced at the Freestyle Bike Shop before heading down King's Highway to Mrs. Stahl's office for counseling.

I mostly spent the hour I was there explaining all that had happened in the last two months - Thanksgiving, Jodie giving me her furniture, my suspension and what came of it, my Christmas preparations, all the trouble on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my fun New Year's, Anny's pregnancy (she'll be having her daughter any day now), Rose's bout with bronchitis, and how annoyed I still am with Mom and Jessa over Christmas. Jessa shouldn't have blown Dad off. I know "Jessa is Jessa"...but Dad is her dad, too. And no matter how broke she is, Mom could have at least sent a card, or an e-mail. She did call on Christmas Day, but I got nothing else from her. E-mails don't take much time. She could do them at work!

 I need to figure out what to do with myself - at Christmas, and all the time. I'm hoping to take some writing courses, and...then what? What should I do next? I usually have a plan, a job or a business I should go after, but now, I don't know what to do. Those jobs and businesses never work out. I do research, get scared, and don't do anything. I never finish what I start.

 I feel so out of place here. I've tried looking up clubs, but all the doll clubs are in downtown Philly and at night, and everything else is at night or times when people like me who don't work normal jobs and don't have cars can't get to them. I feel so out of place. Why can't there be more people like Lauren and Amanda here? I'd give anything to meet some nice, quiet people who are into the same things I am and living the same way I do! Where are all the single people like me? Where are all the people who don't have families? Who live alone, or with single roommates.

She pretty much just said "take those classes and think of other things you can do that's similar." I don't have any ideas right now, either. I badly want out of the Acme - I'm never going to get anywhere there - but I don't know how, or whom to talk to, or where to go, or where I should be instead.

I headed down Haddon Avenue after leaving counseling. I briefly stopped at that little CD/book shop that just opened a few months ago. His heating wasn't working (it was freezing in there) and neither was his credit card machine. There were a few things I wanted, but in the end, I just ended up with the original cast album for the 1997 Broadway version of State Fair. I hit the ATM machine at the PNC a few blocks down to get money for the rest of the week.

Had a very late lunch at The Bread Board Plus, a sandwich shop a few blocks from the Rite Aid on the border of Westmont and Haddonfield. It's basically a larger, more rustic version of Amino Bros in Oaklyn. I had a third-sized Pizza Steak with ruffled chips and a huge pickle spear, three soft, melt-in-your-mouth Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a can of Diet Coke. Despite it being late, there were a few people there, enjoying their meals and checking out the salad bar. I watched people pick up orders for the many medical offices near-by.

I went straight home after that, going back the same way I came across the PATCO parking lots in Westmont, over that two-block "bridge," down Cuthbert, and through Collingswood past Haddon Lake Park. I was originally going to do my laundry tonight, but it was too cold for more running around. I worked on updating lists - lists of the AG dolls' things, lists of DVDs I haven't watched, lists of things I want to do this year.

I did one more half-hour episode of The Red Skelton Show while having defrosted broccoli, leftover chicken meatloaf, and the last of the Cranberry Flummery for dinner. In what looks like another 50s or early 60s episode, punch-drunk fighter Cauliflower McPugg is supposed to teach a vain and fussy actor (Vincent Price) how to box for a movie. He ends up stealing his girl instead...which just makes the actor angrier in the ring!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rainy Day at the Voorhees Town Center

It was pouring when I got up this morning. A Wonderlandiful World inspired me to re-read Alice In Wonderland, and I was in the mood for musicals, so I ran Alice at the Palace while I ate a very late breakfast and got organized. This was a stage show from 1982, with Meryl Streep in the title role as the young lady who falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a fantastic world. Here, everything is based around vaudeville and music hall - the Queen of Hearts is a showgirl, the Mock Turtle is an old Russian, the Cheshire Cat brings on a goofy chorus number, the White Knight mimes most of his routine. I think this is on DVD - strange but interesting if you like Streep or Alice variations.

It was still raining as Alice ended. I decided to switch my original plan for Saturday - a short trip to the Voorhees Town Center - to today and go to the Haddon Township Library on Saturday. The Town Center may smaller than most of the other local malls and in the middle of nowhere, but it does make a nice, short trip when you only have a few hours to spare or want to check out Boscov's. I made a quick stop at WaWa to get water and make change, then quickly locked my bike at Oaklyn's City Hall and hurried to the bus stop. I just made it on the bus.

The bus trip to the Town Center was uneventful and rather cozy. The rain just kept coming down. I almost wished I'd opted for a longer ride. The Town Center itself surprisingly wasn't busy. Not even big sales at Boscov's could draw crowds. I looked at another Ever After High 2-pack, the twin daughters of Rapunzel, Holly and Poppy, in the toy section, but ultimately decided I didn't want to pay $35 for them. I'll wait for the price to come down.

I was mainly there for a new pair of winter gloves. The ones I bought at Macy's a few years ago were worn out from being used on the bike. A hole had started appearing in the left one. This time, I went with a pair of Isotoner sport gloves with vinyl padding and very soft flannel lining. Hopefully, these will hold out a bit longer. The price was right, at any rate. Originally $46, I got them on sale for $19.99.

My other stop was a brief one at the large Hallmark. Yes, they still have WebKinz. I looked at a cute pink penguin, but went with the last Rockerz pet I remotely liked, a dance-themed Zebra. (And I later discovered she was missing her code. I can't find it anywhere. I don't remember seeing it at the store. Nuts. I don't have a way to scan the receipt and send it to Ganz, either.) I also bought Frosted Cranberry hand soap on sale for $3 at Bath and Body Works and took a look at Adventureland, which mostly sells comic books. The Game Stop seems to be gone, though. Not the biggest loss - there's 800 other Game Stops in this area, and that one wasn't all that great.

I've never explored the Boulevard, the street of shops and condos leading to the housing area. I either didn't have the time, or the weather wasn't right. The weather still wasn't right - the rain wasn't stopping - but I was bored. Other than a cosmetology school, the Boulevard consists almost entirely of fancy restaurants, a frozen yogurt parlor, and Victorian Savories, a bakery and cafe. The young man behind the simple marble counter boasted of their home-made goodies and beverages that won awards in several local magazines. No wonder - their gingerbread man cookie was crispy and spicy, and though I don't think he quite heated the apple cider up enough, it was still very apple-y and tasty. I sipped my cider and watched the rain fall. The only other person in the fairly large (by cafe standards) store was a girl listening to earphones and plugging away on an Apple laptop.

I was originally going to stay a little longer, but there wasn't much left to do, and the rain wasn't ending. I took the 4:05 home. Not only was there no traffic, but the bus was actually a few minutes early! Once again, I had no problems getting on and off, picking up my bike, and heading home.

Went in the bath after I got in. Ahhhh. That felt very nice. I read Happier at Home and listened to pop songs from the World War II era as I relaxed. I needed that. I hadn't had a bath in a long time.

When I got out, I listened to the Broadway original cast album for Tovarich while making salmon and Brussels sprouts in lemon sauce for dinner. This 1963 musical version of the 30s play casts Vivian Leigh (in her only musical) and Jean Pierre Audmont as former Russian nobles forced to work as servants for American ambassadors. Tatiana (Leigh) has access to 4 million rubles that everyone, from the French government to the Soviets, seems to want. Meanwhile, the nobles have to fend off the affections of the bored son and daughter of the ambassadors.

Leigh won a Tony as Tatiana, but other than her performance, this show is cute but nothing special. It was a minor hit at the time, but isn't well-remembered other than Leigh and doesn't seem to have been seen since. I think the CD is out of print; only worth looking for if you're a fan of Leigh or standard 50s/early 60s musical comedy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tonight Was Made For the Young

I slept until 10:30 today! Finished out the Once Upon a Time Ever After High short story collection. I really loved the Ever After High books. The anthology features eight tales that were originally published online as e-books and four that were written directly for the book. My favorites were the sweet story of Cedar Wood, the daughter of Pinocchio who feels a little out of place, since she's made of wood (bonus points for it being set in a seaside artist's colony like Cape May), the entwined tales of twins Dexter and Darling Charming at their family's big end-of-summer reunion, and poor lonely Lizzie Hearts, the daughter of the Queen of Hearts who can't go back to Wonderland, figuring out how to bring a little piece of home to Ever After High. Tricky Kitty Cheshire's story ties the others together.

When I finally did get up, I listened to Dorothy Provine's Oh, You Kid! while making gingerbread pancakes for breakfast. I loved her Roaring 20s soundtrack so much, when I saw this at a thrift shop last month, I grabbed it. It's a collection of medleys of popular songs from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I especially like the dance-y ones - "I Don't Care," "Rings On My Fingers," "Ta-Ra-Boom-De-Yay."

It was sunny and warmer than it has been when I got home, in the mid-30s. The warmer day and threat of rain or ice tomorrow must have brought people out of the woodwork. It was crazy for almost the entire afternoon. It was so busy, I was late with my break again. By the time my relief appeared at 5, it had slowed down to a trickle.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then started dinner. I made chicken meatloaf with one of the three packs of ground chicken I had in the refrigerator. Tossed the last remaining sweet potato that's been around since the Collingswood Farm Market closed in the oven as well.

I did the dusting while dinner was in the oven. It was pretty bad, possibly from a combination of the Christmas decorations adding more dust and all the work downstairs. I didn't do a lot of heavy dusting, though. I only go under the heavier stuff when I do major spring and fall cleaning. It's just too much of a pain to do it every time.

Ran 80s soundtracks while I cleaned, and later while I had chicken meatloaf, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, baked sweet potato, and Cranberry Flummery for dinner. Footloose and Dirty Dancing were two of the most popular musicals in the decade that redefined the form. They were both so popular, they would be adapted for the stage in the late 90s and early 2000s. (To my knowledge, Dirty Dancing has yet to show up on Broadway, though I think it was seen in England). Streets of Fire is far less well-known. This "Rock & Roll Fable" is apparently a musical comic book about a mechanic rescuing his guitarist girlfriend from a nasty biker group. I haven't seen it, but it's considered something of a cult favorite. The soundtrack is a lot of fun. The hit was "I Can Dream About You," but my favorite number is the epic dance song "Tonight Is Made For the Young."

Oh, and despite a controversial call, the Packers finally got past the Cowboys, 26-21. Much to the shock of probably everyone except midwesterners, the Colts handed the Broncos their rears, 26-13. I hope they kick the Patriots just as hard. I do like the Packers and the Seahawks - they're both good teams that deserve their success, and I'd be happy if either made the Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Queen of Winter

I really slept in today! I didn't get up until around 9:30, and it was past 10:30 before I got dressed and started breakfast. I did another hour-long Red Skelton Show while I ate. This one seemed to be from the mid-60s, from the cracks about Lyndon B. Johnson's inauguration and the Republicans losing the White House. The main skits had George Appleby buying a bear trained to box and setting him up in the ring at a fair. When the bear is paired off against then-heavyweight champ Archie Moore, he takes off, leaving George to fight Moore himself! A couple of musical segments put British singer Shani Wallis (who later played Nancy in the film version of Oliver!) into the lovely "I'm Old Fashioned" and a British musical hall dance routine with the boys' chorus. (And disappointingly, no commercials this time.)

Finally headed out around 12:30. I was going to stop at the Oaklyn Library first, but for some reason, they were closed today. Moved on to the Westmont Plaza instead. I took a brief look at Tuesday Morning first. No WebKinz today, but much to my surprise, they did have a couple of Ever After High dolls - Briar, C.A Cupid (the very romantic adopted daughter of Eros), and Raven Queen (the kind daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White). I went with Raven. I've had a harder time finding Raven for a good price than Cupid or Briar, and they did have two of Cupid left. She was $14.99, cheaper than her original $21.99 or I've seen her Amazon lately, though not as cheap as Briar, Blondie, and Cerise were on Amazon when I bought them.

The Haddon Township Library was incredibly busy, even for a weekend. There was something going on in their meeting room. I couldn't tell what. I'm glad I came today. The DVD return racks were overflowing, for adult and kids' titles. I couldn't close to get everything on the shelves, even with tons of rearranging. Helped quite a few people, including a mother who was looking for non-fiction books for her daughter's schoolwork and a little boy who wanted to find a book on Minecraft. I did end up taking out that cookbook with the vintage cake recipes, along with Happier at Home, Planes: Fire & Rescue, and the newest releases for Doc McStuffins and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

(And I noticed a sign at the library's front entrance as I was leaving that announced an art show this afternoon. So that's what was going on in the meeting room and why there were so many kids at the library today!)

I'd never seen Friendly's so busy, either. Lots of families seemed to have ignored the freezing temperatures to take their kids out to a late lunch. (It was past 2:30 by the time I made it there.) I had the Turkey Club Melt special with fries and a hot chocolate. No ice cream in 20 degree weather! Besides, I still have a lot of junk at home.

Though it was sunny and windless, it was also still bitterly cold. I just went straight home. This was no day to be lingering outside. When I got in, I went right into de-boxing Raven Queen. Raven's slightly goth-y, purple-and-black looks match what her role is supposed to be...but the ruffled skirt and the iPod-style purse she carries betrays a sensitive, kind-hearted lass with no desire to poison anyone. Her slightly wavy hair was, like Ashlynn's, easy to brush straight out of the box. She probably won't even need a wash. Her "ring" is attached to a chunky bracelet, which thankfully means there's no fear of it getting lost.

Started Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I pulled Raven out. Minnie's nieces Millie and Melody make their first appearances on the regular Clubhouse show in "Minnie's Winter Bow-Show." Minnie and the gang will be having a bow fashion show to show off her wares. Minnie had said she'd play with the girls, but now she's too busy. They try to help, but they just make a mess. They accidentally take off in the Clubhouse hot air balloon. Minnie joins them. They get stranded up at the North Pole, but with a little help from Snow Fairy Clarabelle, they manage to find their way back in time for the show.

I would have watched more episodes, but the disc was skipping badly...and this DVD is brand new! I finally pulled it out. I can't believe what a mess it was! It was heavily scratched and dirty, and it probably hasn't been around for more than a week or two. I checked the Doc McStuffins disc, and it was in the same rough shape. I'll have to show these to the librarians next week. I don't think they'll be very happy.

Switched to Hercules as I made scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and cheese for dinner. Disney's hilarious version of Greek mythology came out in 1997. The title character is an awkward young man who feels he doesn't belong in the little town where he was raised. A trip to Zeus' temple reveals that he's the son of Zeus and Hera and was stolen from Mount Olympus as an infant. In order to regain his immortality, he has to train with gruff satyr Philoceltes (Danny DeVito) to become a true hero. Hades, King of the Underworld (a wonderful James Woods) doesn't like this one bit. He's hoping to take over Mount Olympus with the help of the Titans, but Hercules keeps barging into his plans. He finally sends Megara (Susan Egan), whom he controls, to find out what Hercules' weakness is, but she can't bring herself to hurt him. Hercules finally discovers that it takes more than strength to make a real hero - it takes a lot of heart, too.

Most of Disney's pure comedies (like Robin Hood and The Emperor's New Groove) tend to be underrated, and this one is no exception. If you don't go in expecting it to follow the original Greek and Roman stories to the letter, this is one of the funniest movies Disney ever made. James Woods loved doing Hades so much, he's played the character in most of his incarnations ever since, and it shows. He gets most of the best lines as the fast-talking god who wants to rule a lot more than dead souls. If you want to check out the lighter or lesser-known side of Disney and don't mind the loose myth adaptation, this is recommended and is a lot of fun.