Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Studio Serenade

After I finished The Pirates of Penzance during breakfast, I spent most of the morning working on my WENN swashbuckler spoof. This thing is just getting bigger and bigger by the minute. I'm only on page 10, and I haven't really gotten into any action yet. I just had Lady Hilary and Lord Jeffrey return from the Mexican colonies to find themselves more married than they'd like. Considering I have at least 7 and 1/2 pages worth of notes and more I have to write down, this may end up being as long as the wonderful novel-length mystery featuring Betty Linda Young wrote a while back.

I wrote for two hours on and off. I finally opted to take a walk and stretch a bit around noon. I volunteered at Studio LuLoo again. They were quiet when I arrived. Roxy was the only one there this time. She did dishes and worked on her laptop while I cut more cups into flowers. It was rather soothing, really. My right thumb is half-numb, but the repetition helps me think.

I did some more Remember WENN as I had leftovers for lunch. Scott creates "The Follies of WENN after a buddy of his offers a thousand dollars to see a burlesque show on Sunday. The staff ends up creating their own show, with everyone doing a specialty. While that does mean we get to hear some wonderful songs and see a couple of cute numbers, it also means Betty and Maple could be in big trouble. The Barbican Hotel for Women, where Betty lives and Maple wants to, is reviewing both their status, and they may not approve of them doing a bump and grind on the air.

Work was actually quite busy the entire night. First of all, tomorrow is the beginning of the month. A lot of people either have gotten or are getting their government money. Second, this is the weekend of the Kentucky Derby. I'm not into horse racing, but I know a lot of people follow it. You wouldn't believe how much mint we sold for mint juleps tonight! Thankfully, considering tonight was my late shift, the night went fairly fast.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Beautiful Day's Walk

Spring was in full bloom when I got out of bed this morning. I enjoyed the weather while eating breakfast and watching some vintage Mickey and Minnie Mouse cartoons. "Mickey's Rival" is Mortimer, a boastful fellow who flirts with Minnie and teases an increasingly jealous Mickey. Minnie learns who she can really count on when a bull is let loose, and only one of her swains sticks around to rescue her. "The Nifty Nineties" makes Minnie and Mickey lovers in a gentler era of vaudeville, wind-up cars, and bustled gowns. "Mickey's Delayed Date" gets harrowing when Mickey loses the tickets and Pluto chases after him.

Called Mom while the cartoons were on. I hadn't talked to her since my birthday week. She was working in her rapidly blooming garden. She was happy she'd gotten her first raise from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. They don't get paid a lot and apparently have to take on a lot of duties, from taking tickets to handling reservations. She's worried about my brother, though. No one's heard anything from him in two months. He was ship-board last anyone had heard, but he'd come to shore. No one knows if he's back on a ship, or even still in the Navy.

After I talked to Mom, I headed out for today's volunteering run, this time on foot. My first stop was originally going to be Studio LuLoo, but they weren't open when I went by at 11. I ended up at the Oaklyn Library by default. A few older women chatted with the librarian and looked things up on the computer. I removed security stickers from new DVDs and organized books in the children's area.

It was nearly 12:30 by the time I got out. I figured it was time for lunch. I headed to WaWa for a Roast Beef, Fontina Cheese, and Horseradish Grilled Panini with a $1.99 12 ounce Mocha Mint Latte. It was too nice of a day to take it home, so I ate it at the wooden benches on West Clinton. The panini was mostly delicious, though it did seem to have a little too much horseradish sauce. It was so thick, at one point, my eyes were watering! The Mocha Mint Latte was a little too coffee-tasting. I was hoping they'd go heavier on the chocolate. The mint was pretty good, though.

Studio LuLoo was open by quarter after 1. I spent the next hour cutting washed coffee cups from WaWa and Dunkin Donuts into flower shapes for the kids to decorate. The other volunteers and workers discussed their small businesses and how to make money to buy supplies. Roxy's mother arrived at one point to take her daughter out to lunch. I had a nice chat with her about American Girl and dolls - apparently, she's a doll collector.

I didn't get home until past 2:30. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon cleaning the kitchen. I mostly needed to scrub the sink and counter. They were really gross. The stove wasn't too horrible. Dusted the shelves, the top of the wooden partition between the kitchen and the entertainment area, and the plastic drawers that hold my kitchen utensils as well.

I ran Remember WENN episodes as I worked. "You've Met Your Match" is WENN's dating show. Hilary Booth wants to make Jeff jealous, so she enters herself and the others as contestants. She's less than thrilled when she ends up with Scott and Jeff gets Betty. Jeff convinces Betty to help him make Hilary jealous...but it all ends up backfiring spectacularly. Not all of the couples are so mismatched. Victor and Maple get to know one another. Gertie and Mr. Eldridge have fun commenting on the others. Eugenia and Mr. Foley enjoy their date so much, they're late getting back!

By far the funniest episode of the fourth season (and possibly of the series, period) is "And If I Die Before I Sleep." The cast performs Betty's massive version of all of Shakespeare's Roman-set plays for 52 hours straight in order to break a record. There's treachery afoot, as the man and nurse sent to keep them from falling asleep have ulterior motives for being there. While the cast struggles just to recite the lines and stay upright (and get through some of the wildest dialogue I've ever heard), Maple (who was sick), Victor (who was out of town and just came back), and Betty have to figure out what these people really want.

Hilary proves she's her own best friend in "Hilary's Agent." When her original agent won't get her a part in a local stage version of Antony and Cleopatra, she plays her own mythical agent and tries to get the part herself. She has to rely on some creative help from the rest of the staff when she's called on to produce said agent.

"The Birth of a Station" was considered a tad risque when it debuted. A pregnant young woman appears at the station, asking for Dr. Talbot. That's a bit of a problem, given he's the title character on one of their medical dramas. When she goes into labor, the cast has to figure out how to help her without being able to get an ambulance, thanks to a labor strike.

Moved onto one of the Snoopy specials as I rounded up the cleaning supplies. Snoopy's Reunion was a touching and surprisingly bittersweet tale from 1991. We learn about Snoopy's early life at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm and how he eventually came to live with Charlie Brown. When Snoopy's feeling blue, Chuck invites his siblings back to town for one last hoedown. Sadly, they discover the hard way when they go looking for their old home that you can't go back again...but you can keep your memories, and even make some more.

I headed into the bath for a blissful hour. I don't think I've taken a bath since my vacation week. It felt soooo nice to relax and listen to Rod Stewart's second Great American Songbook CD. I looked over the book The Little Spark. I've been trying and trying to spark my creativity for the past decade. I don't know why I've had problems. I'm hoping that reading this over will help.

When I got out of the bath, I went right into starting dinner. I was originally going to make Merlin's Baked Chicken with the legs I bought last week, but it was in the upper 70's by quarter of 6. Baking anything wasn't going to fly. I settled for poaching them in a mixture of water, white cooking wine, Worcestershire sauce, and a little bit of lemon juice instead. Added some steamed zucchini and yellow squash with apple cider vinegar-honey sauce for a lovely spring meal.

Started The Pirates of Penzance while I ate. This 1982 adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta was a hit on Broadway in 1981. Fredrick (Rex Smith) leaves the employ of the pirates who had raised him, hoping to become respectable. When he makes it to shore, he falls for Mabel, the sweet daughter of a major general (Linda Rondstat). The Pirate King (Kevin Kline) and Fredrick's former nurse Ruth (Angela Landsbury) knows a secret about him that'll make him switch sides. Mabel and her sisters recruit the local cops to rout the pirates. The pirates' attack results in the wildest free-for-all ever to hit the coast of England, or an operetta.

Fond though I am of the spoofier version of this story, The Pirate Movie, this one is fun, too. The cast is having a whale of a time in the stagy setting, especially an incredibly hammy Kline as the head pirate. If you're a fan of operettas, pirate stories, or are a Gilbert and Sullivan purist, you'll probably find this one as delightfully silly as I do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Feel Good

I started a beautiful, sunny morning with Get On Up: The James Brown Story. This is almost the same plot as Jersey Boys - same time period (mid 50's through mid 70's) and similar ups and downs, different perspective, race, and musical genre. James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) is one of the most dynamic performers of the mid-20th century. His songs give off nothing but raw energy. His concerts are electric. His life off the stage is far more turbulent. Having been abandoned by his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) as a child, he's determined to make it on his own. He does have a supportive aunt (Octavia Spencer) and a best friend (Nelsan Ellis) who mostly sticks by him. While he goes on to be a pioneer of everything from live recordings to civil rights, his lavish lifestyle finally catches up to him, and even his closest friends question his desperate need for independence.

I'm going to mostly disagree with the critics here. I thought this movie was dynamic. Chadwick Boseman was amazing as Brown - some of his moves in the concerts were incredible. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in the era depicted and never saw the real Brown perform, even on television, but I loved the concert footage. My favorite was that awesome "funkadelic" show towards the end of the movie with Brown in a barely-there shirt and the dancers in huge Afros. Tate Taylor, who did The Help a few years ago, is certainly more in tune with the material than Clint Eastwood was with his musical.

The downside is all the jumping around. I think things could have worked even better if they let the story flow linearly, rather than skipping all over Brown's life. There's also the fact that, yeah, the plot's nothing new. Like I said, Jersey Boys is an almost identical story. I also wish they'd done more with Brown talking directly to the camera in the middle of the film - that was a nice touch.

That said, this is still worth a look if you're a fan of Brown or classic R&B, and I frankly recommend it over Jersey Boys. They may tell somewhat similar tales, but this one has the more vibrant performers and musical numbers.

I headed out around 11 to get my laundry done. Not that I had much to do. It was a tiny load that barely took an hour to wash. The laundromat wasn't even busy. There was maybe two people when I was coming and one as I was heading out.

When I got home, I finished Get On Up as I put my clothes away. As soon as that was over, I grabbed my books and DVDs and went out the door for this week's first library run. I made a quick stop at Phillies Phatties for lunch. It was such a beautiful day, I ate my slices of mushroom and cheese pizza and drank my can of Diet Pepsi outside on the wooden benches across from the stores.

Cut across Haddon Lake Park on my way to the library. It was gorgeous there this afternoon. The trees are getting greener and greener every day. Dandelions, buttercups, and wildflowers carpet the banks of the bottle-green river. I wasn't surprised to dodge several dog walkers and joggers. A mother and her three daughters played on the banks on the very end of the lake down by Cuthbert Road.

The Haddon Township Library was surprisingly busy for a nice day. Even so, there wasn't really much to do. I shelved some kids' DVDs, but they weren't overloaded (I couldn't fit a few S titles in again). The adult titles are still overloaded. There's a pile of M.T, and W titles, including several multi-disc TV shows, that just will not go in the overloaded slots. There weren't even any audio books to put away. I shelved one opera CD.

I did take out a few DVDs, all animation this time. (I still have some live-action movies at home I haven't watched, not to mention the rest of Remember WENN's fourth season.) I decided to give Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown another shot after I didn't get to it last time I had it out. Warner's budget disc Snoopy and Friends features two beagle-themed Peanuts specials I haven't seen in years, Snoopy's Reunion and It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown. Disney's been putting out a series of odd Flash-animated Mickey Mouse shorts online and between programming on The Disney Channel for the past year or so. They're collected together in Mickey Mouse, Vol. 1.

On my way home, I stopped at Phillies Yummies for a treat. I had this year's first small cup of my favorite cotton candy Yum Yum (creamier, grittier water ice). It was a good time for it. The kids were just out of school. I had a lot of fun watching them hurry by, chasing and teasing each other. Some even stopped at Yummies for treats.

Spent the next few hours cleaning my bathroom. The bathtub in particular was really grimy. Must have been those baths I took during my birthday week. Since I had everything out, I also scrubbed the bathroom and hall floors. I only do that twice a year, usually in April and October. I was able to open the bathroom window and let the floors dry a little faster. I ran my James Brown and Four Seasons greatest hits records as I worked.

I had a pleasant dinner of salmon in red wine sauce with sauteed zucchini and yellow squash and salad with homemade balsamic dressing for dinner while watching the Mickey Mouse Flash shorts. These are all done with a sketchy style that deliberately returns to the "rubber hose" animation of the late 20's and 30's.

The feel, on the other hand, is extremely modern. It makes for a mixed bag, to say the least. Some of the cartoons are rather sweet. I loved "O Sole Minnie" (Mickey woos waitress Minnie in Venice) and "Croissant De Triumphe" (Mickey will do anything - including riding his scooter off the top of Notre Dame - to bring croissants to Minnie's cafe). Others, like "Dog Show" (Goofy accidentally injures Pluto, so Mickey enters him in a dog show instead) and "Bad Ear Day" (Mickey somehow loses his ears on his way to a date with Minnie) were just plain weird. The funniest was the last one, "Tapped Out." Mickey, Donald, and Goofy take on Peg Leg Pete (with a blond wig) in the wrestling ring, proving that three heads can occasionally be better than one.

Since I had dinner early, I went for a stroll in the neighborhood around 6 PM. It was such a gorgeous day. CBS fussed about possible storm warnings later today. If there were storms, they must have gone north or blown themselves out. All we had was wind, sun, and a few clouds. It's so beautiful outside now. The tulips are up, in all their red, purple, yellow, orange, and white brilliance. The lilacs are just starting to bloom. There were lots of people out and about with me, kids playing catch and adults chatting on porches or starting barbecues.

Monday, April 27, 2015

WENN Adventures

I began the day with some Remember WENN before I had to spend the day at work. We learn "The Importance of Being Betty" in the mid-third season. Betty's offered a job at the prestigious magazine The New Yorker. The others don't want to hold her back, so they try to show that they can get along without her. Trouble is, Pruitt's doing the writing. Now every show is about either numbers or death. Betty has to get things back on track and prove just how important she is to the station and the others.

I decided it was finally time to get the ball rolling on the fourth season. "Some Time, Some Station" mostly answers the infamous "Happy Homecomings" cliffhangers. Victor Comstock comes out of his mind control thinking that it's 8 AM and time to start the broadcast day! While the others react to his miraculous recovery, Hilary tries to avoid Jeff, and Betty attempts to get Pruitt to tell her whom Victor's contact is.

Mr. Eldridge is saying "Thanks a Lottery!" when he wins a ton of cash in a European sweepstakes. The others all have their ideas of what he should do with his windfall. Pruitt, arrested though he may be, isn't done causing trouble indirectly. He's shunted WENN into another, stricter company that slashes the budget, forbids women in managerial positions, and imposes a mandatory age for retirement that Mr. Eldridge is long past. Though he seems to lose the ticket, it's the older man who finally figures out how to get the company and jerk bosses like Pruitt off their backs for good.

Work was actually pretty quiet for a lot of the morning, not helped by chilly, blah weather. It did pick up by rush hour. In fact, rush hour was fairly busy, with long lines from 3:30 until 6. One woman in the morning did give me a hard time when she accused me of going too fast and snapping at her, but that woman claims that every time she comes in my line, and the people behind her said I did nothing wrong. She cut in front of the people behind her, too. What's wrong with waiting a few minutes? It doesn't kill you. Other than her, my 8 hour day went fairly quickly. It had slowed down enough by 7 that I was able to leave with no trouble.

If nothing else, I got two scraps full of ideas for my WENN American Revolution spoof fanfic out of today. I've been grabbing random scraps of paper and writing down ideas whenever I can - between customers, during breaks. I've pretty much got most of the story. Now, I just have to get it all organized and write it down.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rag Dolls and Jersey Boys

I slept in a bit today. When I finally got up, I began the last Amelia Peabody book I haven't read, Guardians of the Horizon. This one answers a burning question I've always had about the series - what happened to the Lost City they visited in The Last Camel Died at Noon? Did it survive? Did Nefert ever want to see her old home? I only got to the first two chapters - they aren't even in Africa yet. Hopefully, we'll be getting answers soon.

Had my usual Sunday pancakes while listening to Billy Joel and Elton John records. My Strawberry Buttermilk Cake came out so well, I decided to try to recreate the flavors with Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes. I did replace the vanilla flavoring on the cake with almond flavoring. I've seen almond flavoring used with strawberries before - they seem to go together pretty well. And oh boy, did they ever! I added a little sugar along with the egg and buttermilk, and they were tasty, rich and tart and just sweet enough.

I dance a little along with the music as I cleaned up from brunch. Unfortunately, I wasn't looking where I was going. I smacked my right hand against the wooden dining table chair as I headed to the kitchen. Ouch! Nothing seemed to be broken, but the fourth finger is sore and swollen. I didn't have enough time to do anything with it before work. I'd just have to be careful.

Thankfully, work wasn't anywhere near as bad as it was yesterday. It was busy, but that's typical for a nice Sunday. It actually could have been a lot worse. Everyone was in a very good mood. Other than my break was late again, there were no major problems. My relief, one of the college boys, was on time.

It was another gorgeous, sunny, breezy day when I got out of work. Once again, I took the long way home down Nicholson. The Sunday traffic was pretty bad, but I wanted to at least enjoy a little of the weather. I'm getting tired of the repair to the Oaklyn ramp on the Black Horse Pike, too. (Thank heavens they've finally covered those metal plates. You could hear cars driving over the plates as far away as my apartment.)

When I got in, I got the dolls changed into slightly lighter outfits for May. Josefina honors the upcoming Cinco Del Mayo in her recently retired Dress and Vest and the lovely gold Heirloom Accessories shawl. Samantha's ready for her birthday in her original pink striped Birthday Dress and Pinafore, the white shoes from (Rebecca's) Lace Dress, and the lace headband from her current accessories set. Whitney looks very 50's in a hand-made polka dot dress from eBay, the pink ankle-wrap shoes from the Sweet Spring Dress, and the lavender scrunchie bow from Samantha's Frilly Frock. Molly's in a hand-made version of her extremely hard-to-find Victory Garden Dress. Jessa wears the lavender sweater from Kit's original "meet" outfit with the flower-print tie-dye t-shirt from the 2012 Hiking Outfit, the mauve sandals from the Sparkle Sequin Outfit, and the hand-made denim capris Lauren sent for Christmas. I just left Felicity in her salmon pink Birthday Gown. I really don't have much to change her into.

Ran Jersey Boys as I changed the girls, and later as ate leftovers and roasted zucchini and squash fries for dinner. Four Italian-American guys from North Jersey seem to be typical layabout kids of the mid-50's - they end up in jail, they get into trouble, they chase girls. Except one, Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) has an amazing singing voice, and he's generally a decent guy. When one guy leaves the band, a friend introduces them to Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), who has already had a hit and can not only sing, but write songs at the drop of a hat. They get stuck for a year as backup singers to other popular artists at the time, until Bob comes up with the smash hit "Sherry." Suddenly, The Four Seasons are on their way to the top...but when Tommy (Vincent Piazza) gets into trouble and Frankie helps him out, the other guys aren't as thrilled.

I agree with most critics that Clint Eastwood probably wasn't the best choice to direct a musical about the Four Seasons. This movie should be funny and colorful, and while there are some hilarious bits (I love the guys talking to the camera, especially early on), it degenerates into a mire of sludge once the band gets popular. Despite some of the actors having been in the original Broadway cast, almost everyone comes off as stiff. The performances are lifeless. In fact, the only really fun number is the entire cast doing "Oh What a Night (December 1963)" over the credits. Not horrible if you're a classic rock fan like me or love the show, but it could have been a lot better. (Oh, and as with the show, this is NOT for kids. There's a ton of rather heavy swearing throughout the film.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Trouble In the Morning

I had my early 8 AM shift today. It wasn't fun. I was tired and cranky, and my customers were only a little happier. I know I was more rude than I should have been, especially with one man who thought a brand of barbecue sauce was on sale when it wasn't. I got fussed at again by one of the managers for being rude and being slow. Ok, I shouldn't have been rude...but I was tired. I'm not used to working this early anymore. I really, REALLY wish they'd give me a consistent schedule. And I'm getting fed up with the complaining about me being slow. When I try to go as fast as they want, the customers say I don't need to go that fast. They're not in a hurry, so why should I rush?

I couldn't get out of there quick enough. It was still below-average chilly this morning, but it had gotten warmer and sunnier by 2 PM. I bought toilet paper and scones and hurried out. I decided to take the long way home down Nicholson and enjoy the nice weather. The traffic on Nicholson was pretty bad, but it was fine once I went over the hill and onto Atlantic. 

As soon as I got home, I took a nap. I went to sleep at 2:30 and got up at 4. It didn't really help that much. I still felt tired, frustrated, and dazed. I grabbed a notebook and decided to write down ideas for my WENN swashbuckler spoof to clear my head. Just writing the stuff I had planned for Scott's character filled over a page and a half alone. I've been writing down ideas at work on whatever small pieces of paper I can grab without anyone noticing, which means I had lots of small pieces of "no sale" papers floating around my desk that had to be notated. 

I had scrambled eggs with zucchini, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese for dinner and strawberry buttermilk cake for dessert while finishing out the Sailor Moon set. Poor Naru picks the wrong guy to fall in love with. She's crazy about Nephrite, even after she learns how evil he is. First, he uses her to get to a princess at a big party whose secret treasure may be the Silver Crystal. Naru's lucky Usagi badly wanted to attend a ball and is there to help her out. Then, he thinks she may have the Silver Crystal, so he goes to her and tries to persuade her to bring it to him. Even after Usagi tells her he's a villain, Naru still insists she cares about him, to the point of saving him from Sailor Moon's tiara.

Switched to a less dire Remember WENN episode as I cleaned up from dinner. It's "Two For the Price of One" when Pruitt's secretary Miss Cosgrave signs the cast up to do programming for not only their station, but radio station WEEP as well. They sign up the entire staff to do shows, even Gertie and Mr. Eldridge. Trouble comes in the form of WEEP manager Mr. Crowley. He loves their shows so much, he wants to use them for his station...and his station alone. Scott, Betty, and C.J come up with a way to mix up the programming and keep their shows at WENN where they belong.

I wanted to get out into the fresh air after being inside for most of the day. I grabbed my coat and boots and jumped on my bike. Stopped at Common Grounds Coffee House for a chai latte and to collect my thoughts. I'm so frustrated about this morning. I wish I could explain about being shy and an introvert to the managers. I took this job to make money in college, not to be my permanent career. I just don't know where to go next. 

I rode around the neighborhood, enjoying the cool breezy and the partially cloudy evening. I hopped off my bike at the small playground on the end of Cedar and goofed around. I climbed the stairs. I dove through the tunnel. I just barely squeezed down the wavy slide. 

There were quite a few people out and about tonight. I saw many folks - interestingly, most of them adults - getting ice cream and water ice at Phillies Yummies. There were quite a few kids out playing catch or riding bikes, or just walking around and chatting. Adults strolled with friends or chatted on their porches or patios, or just enjoyed the spring evening. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Chilled Spring

I began a cold, blustery day with more Sailor Moon. This time, it's personal when Nephrite targets a little girl named Mika who is a good friend of Usagi's brother Shingo. Mika gave Shingo a doll she made that won a contest, but Shingo accidentally breaks it. While he tries to figure out how to apologize, Mika becomes more and more reclusive, locking herself in her room to work on more dolls. Usagi's worried; the other girls smell a Negaverse plot.

Usagi's in seventh heaven when she gets a letter from Tuxedo Mask. That is, until she finds out every other girl in the entire area did, including Ami and Rei. Usagi goes to meet "Tuxedo Mask" at the mall. So does Naru, who hopes it's the handsome playboy she's had her eye on. Naru's unfortunately right; Nephrite wrote the letters in an attempt to lure Sailor Moon into a trap. Sailor Moon has to work with the real Tuxedo Mask to rescue Naru and escape Nephrite's lion constellation monster.

I spent the rest of the morning continuing to work on my fanfiction. Anyone who's read my other WENN spoof fanfics knows Rupert Holmes isn't the only one who likes playing around with secret identities. As of right now, Betty is the pretty head of an inn in Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh in its early years) and a writer on the side. Victor is the former manager who went to help the new US government prepare for war. Scott is the charming scoundrel who turns up on the inn's doorstep, claiming he's the new manager...but really has a very different reason for wanting to be there. Maple gets a job as a maid, but she has her own reasons for coming. Hilary and Jeff are nobles who left England in a cloud of scandal. The others are either residents of or servants at the inn.

The Acme called me around 10:30 and asked me to come in at noon. No, not noon, but I could pull off 1. I got off a little early so I could have lunch and watch another Sailor Moon episode. This one was another rather sweet filler story that was cut from the original English dub but happily restored here. The girls and Luna go on vacation to the beach. They end up at a spooky mansion that seems to be occupied by some pretty weird people, including monsters, a father, and his daughter who may have some strange powers. When the father pushes his daughter's powers too far, the Soldiers have to help the girl control her abilities to get rid of it.

I did go in at 1...but I could have gone in at the original 2 PM, for all of how busy we were. The lines were a little long when I got in - one of the morning people called out - but they gradually slowed down as the afternoon continued and the afternoon shift arrived. We were never more than mildly steady. It wasn't even that busy during rush hour. My relief, one of the college girls, was right on time.

I'm not entirely thrilled with my schedule next week. In good news, far more hours, more on a par with what I usually get at this time of year, and Tuesday and Wednesday off again. In annoying news, I have an 8 hour day on Monday and a (now) rare late night shift on Thursday, neither of which I'm looking forward to.

I had a huge grocery order this week. The Acme's organic tea was on clearance for $2.59 each. I stocked up on their White Pomegranate and Green Chai to have with breakfast. I also grabbed Skippy Natural peanut butter for $1.67 - I didn't need it that badly, but that's a good price for peanut butter. There was a good Quaker cereal sale this week - went with Cinnamon Life. I restocked baking powder, yogurt, cheese (went with sharp cheddar), canned low-salt tomato sauce, chocolate chips, and brown sugar. My vegetable crisper was practically empty. I picked up apples, bananas, grapefruit, mushrooms, two tangelos, two containers of sliced zucchini and yellow squash on a buy-one-get-one deal, and a bag of romaine hearts for $1.88 with a coupon in the flyer. Took advantage of a great sale on chicken pieces to grab two of the smaller packages of legs and thighs.

My original plan was to eat dinner at home. I just wasn't up to cooking after all that shopping. I ended up trying the new restaurant a few doors down from Tu Se Bella in the mall behind the Acme. Muscle Maker Grill was supposed to specialize in fast health food. Considering their name, I was surprised to see how many pasta dishes they had. Shouldn't they encourage protein, not carbs? To their credit, they did have a long menu of protein shakes, too. I just went with a "Mona Lisa Wrap" off the smaller portions menu. It was a pretty normal grilled chicken wrap with their tangy "special non-carb sauce" on a toasted whole wheat wrap. A little messy, but not bad. I drank most of the Diet Dr. Pepper on the way home.

Watched one last Sailor Moon episode while putting everything away and eating strawberry cake for dessert. One of my favorite "filler" episodes of the first season is (in the original dub) "An Animated Mess." Two girl animators are new on the job and are excited to be working on the new Sailor V movie. One of them thinks the other is getting better assignments. Nephrite curses the special drawing pencils she and her friend bought years ago and split, vowing they'd only use it for really important cartoons, and only with the other's permission. When Usagi, Rei, and Ami visit the animation studio, the young woman's ambition seems to be causing a rift in her relationship with her friend...until the girls figure out what's really wrong.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Windy Spring Days

I spent the morning finishing out Doc McStuffins. The funniest episode of this round was "Kirby and the King." The evil King and Sir Kirby, the valiant knight action figure, get stuck together after an accident with a sandcastle. They have to make their way out of Doc's little brother Donny's room so she can get them unglued. "A Day Without Cuddles" was also really sweet. Poor Lambie is "sick" again. This time, she got flour all over her and can't hug the others until she's been washed. Trouble is, it's International Cuddle Day. The others all want hugs from their favorite fleecy cuddler, but she doesn't want to get flour on them, too. She learns that it's hard to wait (and for humans to not spread germs), but you're better off in the end.

I thought I'd try something as the cartoons ran. When I lived in Wildwood, the Dollar Tree in Rio Grande carried small cake mixes in little 9 oz boxes. They were a perfect treat for one person. The first thing I baked in my new home was made from one of those mixes. Alas, after a year, the Dollar Tree stopped carrying them. I rarely saw anything like them, until I discovered that the Westmont Thriftway carries the Jiffy yellow cake and brownie mixes. Most local supermarkets only have their corn muffin mix, maybe the blueberry muffin mix if you're lucky. I made myself a lovely little one-layer Strawberry Buttermilk Cake.

Switched to the last first season Remember WENN episode I hadn't done as I got ready to head out. WENN's resident diva suddenly turns into "Hilary Booth, Registered Nurse" when she's struck on the head by a microphone boom and thinks she's the kind-hearted nurse from a World War I drama. Betty Roberts has to jolt her memory in time for a very important broadcast...and do it without the help of Victor Comstock, who is preparing to leave on a government assignment to London.

I didn't see Studio LuLoo open when I finally got out around quarter after 12. My first stop ended up being the Oaklyn Library by default. There wasn't a lot going on there, either. I didn't even have a ton of things to organize. I just sort of browsed around in the books for an hour.

When I got out, I decided I wanted more lunch than just a hoagie from WaWa. I ended up having lunch at Jalapeno's Grill across from WaWa. They were totally empty, despite it being 1:30. Not even that older lady who seemed to be a permanent resident was there. A man did come in as I was finishing, but for most of my lunch, it was just me, my vegetable and cheese quesadilla, and the notes I was taking for another Remember WENN fanfiction. I was surprised to see they were already decorated heavily for Cinco Del Mayo, despite that holiday not being for another couple of weeks. 

I did stop at WaWa on the way home. I wanted heavy cream to make icing for my cake. I also bought myself a Black Raspberry Sparkling Ice. They were busy, but thankfully, the other cashier opened as I was waiting. 

Though it wasn't raining (or even snowing - Lauren said she got snow in Pittsfield today), the weather was not much fun. It was cold and gloomy and windy. I went straight home after leaving WaWa and didn't attempt to go anywhere else.

Did some more Sailor Moon as I got organized after I got in. When a handsome young photographer holds auditions for new models, Usagi thinks her modeling career is about to take off. Mamoru first reminds her that modeling is tough work. It really gets hard when she makes it to the audition, and she and Luna realize it's another Negaverse plot. 

The new Strawberry Shortcake set Snowberry Days seemed rather appropriate, given the weather. I very much enjoyed these three snow-themed tales. In the first one, the girls are surprised when they have a warm day in the middle of winter. They're disappointed they can't make snowmen to play "Capture the Snowman's Nose," until Strawberry comes up with a creative way to let them have fun. It's all crazy games until the carrot noses go missing, and the girls and the Berrykins start wondering if the squirrels may be short of food. 

The second story focused on Blueberry. Her new ice skates that use butterflies to pull you faster are such a huge hit, she's asked to make a line of them for a shop in a city nearby. Blueberry's not sure she can pull it off, but she learns that you never know what you can do unless you try. 

The third one once again begins on an unusually warm winter's day. Raspberry Torte is planning a spring fashion show for the same day one of the Berrykins has scheduled a water show - and they both need to use Berry Bitty City's fountain. Even when they put the shows together, Berrykin Bruce the mechanic feels his show is being overlooked. When everything freezes overnight, an overflowing fountain makes the court too slippery for fashion shows or water shows...until one of Bruce's workers comes up with a creative solution.

I did a few chores around the apartment. The big one was clearing out the space under the sink. I keep my pots, pans, and leftovers containers down there. Trouble is, there's only the narrowest of shelves and no real way to organize anything. I tend to lose tops for containers among the kitchenware. 

Did some writing for about an hour, hour and a half. While I still want to finish the Precipice series, I finally came up with some ideas for that WENN swashbuckler/Revolutionary War spoof I've had in the back of my mind for years this morning. It's set after the (unresolved) 4th season finale cliffhangers. When the WENN show "The Crimson Blade" ends abruptly on similar cliffhangers, Betty and Maple wonder how they would have ended it if given more of a chance. Their narrative will turn into a spoof of every swashbuckler I can think of, and probably quite a few other things, including the show itself. 

Around 6, I made leftovers for dinner while watching the newest Scooby Doo movie, Moon Monster Madness. This story is the strangest yet - the gang wins a lottery to go up into space on a luxury space shuttle financed by an egotistical millionaire. The moment they get into orbit, things start going wrong. An alien attacks the ship, depleting their oxygen and forcing a stop at the millionaire's new resort on the moon. While Daphne and Velma fight over Daphne's astronaut scores being higher than Velma's, Fred hounds two aging astronauts who are driving the ship and Shaggy and Scooby befriend a football player who has some very interesting methods of dealing with fear. The gang has to learn to work together, especially the girls, in order to find out who's really behind these extraterrestrial doings.

The science fiction trappings gives this one a bit of a jolt, despite the been-there, done-that plot. I can only think of a few other episodes where Scooby and the kids got anywhere near sci-fi, and they were mainly in the 70's and early 80's. I did figure out the mystery before the kids - if you're paying attention at the beginning, you may be able to as well.

If you love alien stories or are already a Scooby fan, go right ahead. This isn't the best one they've ever did, but it's a fun mystery with a unique setting. Newcomers will probably want to go to the original series or What's New, Scooby Doo? first and save the movies for after they've gotten to know the characters a little better. 

Oh, and I frosted the cake while Scooby Doo was ending. It ended up being Cocoa Cream Frosting. Not bad. I think I should have just broken out the mixer. The cocoa was a little lumpy. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Celebrating Our Earth

I slept in a bit this morning. I might have slept a little longer if I hadn't been awaking by the construction men banging and cursing downstairs. I read The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog and wrote in my journal instead.

When I finally got up, I honored Earth Day with a couple of conservation-themed cartoons. Started off with Sailor Moon and the re-dubbed "An Unnatural Phenomenon" from the first season. Usagi is jealous when Rei convinces Mamoru to take her on a date in a local park. She grabs Umino and uses him as a decoy so she can spy on them. Meanwhile, Ami is worried about an older friend who is a caretaker in the park. The park is supposed to be torn down for office buildings, and her friend is upset. Nephrite ends up using his anger and that of the animals in the park for the Negaverse' schemes.

My personal favorite Dr. Seuss special is also one of the darkest. The mysterious Onceler relates the sad tale of The Lorax to a little boy who has wandered to his falling-down store. Once upon a time, the Onceler was the chief executive of a bustling factory that created faddish "Theneeds" from the beautiful truffula trees. The Lorax was a little orange fellow who "spoke for the trees" and continuously protested the destruction of the forest and the loss of the animals who lived there. The Onceler ignores his pleas, until they both finally learn a lesson in the damage unchecked progress can do.

Headed out around 11:30. My first stop was Studio LuLoo. I came into a group of mothers and some very small children, as young as a few months old. Roxy explained they were having an Earth Day party for little kids. I watched the kids run around and play music with some of the volunteers while I organized old, recycled card games, Memory pieces, and flash cards that would be used to make greeting cards for Mother's and Father's Day. I enjoyed pizza and laughed at the kids' antics.

The newly revamped Yummies, replacing Leo's Yum Yums, was open when I headed out of the studio. They had more-or-less the same menu Leo's had, though, alas, their prices weren't quite as good. Even so, I thought I'd give them a try. My small cup of Cinnamon Bun ice cream was a pretty good size for two dollars. The ice cream itself was delicious, sweet and spicy with plenty of big pieces of cinnamon bun.

Since I had a free lunch, I skipped stopping to eat and went right on to the Haddon Township Library. It was still a gorgeous day for a ride at that point, sunny, warm, and breezy. Newton Lake Park is awash in the loveliest spring pastels - pale green, soft butter yellow, lavender, pale pink. There were quite a few people out and about, strolling or bike riding. I dodged a flock of Canadian geese looking for lunch.

Maybe because of the nice day, the Haddon Township Library wasn't really very busy. I did have some children's DVD's and CD's and one audio book to shelve. I still can't get all the S titles on children's shelves. The adult M through Z shelves remain so overloaded, there were a huge pile of M, R, T, and W titles that just would not fit.

In addition to renewing Jersey Boys and Get On Up (neither of which I got to last week), I found the newest titles for three of my favorite animated franchises. The latest Doc McStuffins disc looks like it concentrates on sweet Lambie, Doc's cuddly stuffed lamb. Scooby Doo's latest movie looks like it's out of this world - literally, given that Moon Monster Madness is set in outer space. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends take on winter adventures in Snowberry Days.

Headed across the street to do some quick grocery shopping at Thriftway. Their generic whole wheat flour is much cheaper than anything at Acme. I picked up light mayonnaise, too. Bought juice boxes for my nephew Khai - I was supposed to be babysitting him tomorrow. (Rose called me later and told me Khai was sick and I wasn't going to be able to watch him.)

The weather had started to get nasty while I was in the Library. Clouds had moved in, and the wind was whipping around my legs. It was time to head home. I made my way around traffic on Cuthbert and the increasing wind.

As soon as I got home, I grabbed my laundry and headed back out again. Alas, the clouds had burst by this point. I got showered on as I made my way to the laundromat. They were a bit busy when I got in, but by the time I was tossing my small load into a dryer, there were only two other people left. I listened to Family Feud and read the Kit Kitteredge mystery A Thief In the Theater and ignored everything else. The sun came out briefly while I was in the laundromat, but the showers reemerged as I went down the White Horse Pike.

When I got home, I listened to one of the Rod Stewart "Songbooks" while putting the laundry away. After everything was organized, I made chicken burger casserole (ground chicken in tomato sauce with the last of the mushrooms, onion, and cheddar cheese) for dinner, then baked Apricot-Chocolate Chip Muffins while watching cartoons.

First up was one last environmentally-themed special. It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown has the Peanuts learning about trees and the conservation of our natural resources. Sally is eager to show what she's learned and takes Lucy up on her offer to use the baseball field for their garden and orchard. Chuck isn't terribly happy...until the disruption their plants cause ends up helping them out with their game.

Moved on to Doc McStuffins next. Doc doesn't just help heal physical conditions. She's pretty good with mental problems too, as we discover in "My Huggy Valentine." Lambie is jealous of Doc's new stuffed Valentine's Day heart, until Doc reminds her that she's special in her own way. She's a "Lamb In a Jam" when she gets grape jelly all over her, and on Stuffy, too. They have to stay behind after being promised they could go to school with Doc. Hallie thinks of fun things to do to help them get over their disappointment.

As a teddy bear collector with allergies, I really appreciated "Dusty Bear." Doc can't figure out why her brother won't play with his favorite bear, until she discovers how dusty he's gotten. A good run in the washing machine gets rid of the dust...and eliminates her brother's sneezes. We learn about the importance of resting the muscles in "Awesome Guy's Awesome Arm." Awesome Guy is the resident superhero of Doc's room, ready to save Lambie and her new block home at a moment's notice! He sprains his mechanical arm while showing off and is admonished by Doc to rest it. He has to learn to let others rescue him and find new ways to save Lambie when the King goes after her home again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spontaneous Mall Adventure

Started out the morning with Sailor Moon as I ate breakfast. Usagi is determined to accompany Rei and Ami on a trip on a romantic cruise. They aren't as eager to have her around, so she and Luna end up stowing away in disguise. Usagi discovers there's a lot more to this cruise than love when it turns out Jadeite and a Negaverse monster are using the ship to gather energy from lovers.

I spent most of the morning doing things on the computer. The trouble with trying to write is I get so caught up in reading things online, I often run out of writing time. I just have such a hard time focusing when I can tap on an icon and bring up distractions! It's part of why I haven't been able to do much writing in years. I get so into the reading, listening, and watching, I don't get to the writing.

I finally got fed up with sitting down around noon. I ate the last of the leftover tuna casserole while doing more Sailor Moon.  Jadeite's failed one too many times, and now Queen Beryl is going to put him to an eternal sleep unless he can stop Sailor Moon. He lures the trio to Tokyo's airport, where his powers set airplanes chasing after them. He also seems to kill off Tuxedo Mask...or does he? The girls finally get sick of being chased and turn things around by turning Jadeite's powers on him.

I was bored. I'd wasn't planning on having three days off in a row this week. After I finished lunch, I hurried down to Oaklyn's City Hall and hopped on the bus to the Voorhees Town Center. I also wasn't expecting the bus to be so darn full! It was 1 PM; a lot of people must have been going to or from lunch hour. Thankfully, most people got off on the White Horse Pike. There were only a few left by the time we made it to Voorhees.

I did browse in Boscov's for a while, looking at sandals and shorts, but I was really there more to do something than to shop. I wandered around the toy department, too. The only Ever After High dolls they had were one Holly/Poppy 2-pack (I guess they really weren't that popular - too bad, they're cute dolls) and two of the Briar Beauty Thronecoming playset. Bought myself a huge chocolate chip sandwich cookie at the cookie booth in the middle of the mall's first floor.

After I left the cookie booth, I strolled up and down Restaurant Row. This is the first time I've been able to check it out in decent weather. In fact, it ended up being a very nice day, mid-60's and sunny, though very windy. Though it also features a beauty school, "Restaurant Row" is, as the name implies, a line of eateries on the bottom floors of the Town Center's condos. Most of them are steakhouses and breweries that were too pricey for me, and I ate out enough last week. I could see people setting up what looked like a carnival in the parking lot. Alas, the rides weren't even half-done. They probably wouldn't be ready until I was long gone.

Ended up spending an hour or so across the street at the Voorhees Library. They were quiet as could be, especially upstairs in the nonfiction section. I first took a look at this year's Entertainment Weekly Summer Movie Preview, then found a really interesting book on lost silent movies I enjoyed for a while.

I was going to pick up the bus at the Library, but I got tired of waiting. I ended up in Macy's for a while, looking at shorts, before I got on at the Lens Crafters entrance where the bus stops. Thankfully, though it was the middle of rush hour, the traffic was going in the opposite direction. I had no trouble getting home, or stopping at WaWa for a Sparkling Ice Cherry Limeaide and a soft pretzel.

When I finally got in, I ate more leftovers while watching the next Sailor Moon episodes. Arrogant Nephrite replaces Jadeite as the girls' main villain for the rest of this set. Unlike Jadeite, he has a regular alter-ego - a suave playboy. He first appears in this guise at a tennis club, where he seems to want to help a close friend of Naru's. What he's really doing is increasing her energy, so he can claim it for the Negaverse. One of Usagi's teachers is the victim in the next episode. Rei and Usagi both want to make the wedding dress of their dreams in order to win a contest...but when the teacher shows up controlled by the Negaverse, she really takes the wedding cake!

Switched to Remember WENN as I cleaned up from dinner. "Sight Unseen" is the first episode to appear after the original four were run. It's also the first of three episodes during the series' run to deal with the treatment of minorities and the disabled. The latter gets spotlighted here when a young blind woman named Angela (Molly Ringwauld) appears at the station, asking to see Mackie Bloom. He plays her favorite character, the suave "Vagabond." Trouble is, Mackie is really short, balding, middle-aged, and about as far from his concept of a "Vagabond" as you can get. Angela finally reminds him that she can't see what he looks like...but she can hear his kind, intense voice, and that's really what matters.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Big April Showers

I awoke to the gush of rain on the roof. It was cats-dog-and-chickens pouring. Thankfully, it had begun to slow down by the time I was eating French Toast Crunch and grapefruit for breakfast. I ran WENN episodes as I ate and got ready for work.

"Close Quarters" is one of my favorite episodes of the second season. Maple's interviewing a doctor who sees a spot-covered Mr. Foley and thinks he has a rare disease. The cast finds themselves spending a week quarantined in the station. Things start out well - Hilary makes spaghetti-and-ketchup dinner, there's a cute dance, and a sweet exchange between Scott and Betty. However, as the week drags on, everyone starts to get on each other's least until it turns out the doctor was wrong about Mr. Foley's condition.

We move backwards a little in the second season to "Don't Act Like That." Giles Aldrych (Roddy McDowell), Hilary's former acting mentor, now has an acting school near-by. Scott and Betty suggest that his students work at WENN for free as their first interns. The cast doesn't mind the well-meant acting lessons from Giles, but they rebel when they realize they'll have to share the air with amateurs.

It was down to light showers by the time I headed to work. The weather must have scared everyone off. It was quiet for most of the day, and never more than mildly busy. I now understand why my hours were so bad this week. We weren't even busy when the sun finally came out around 1, or even at rush hour. I was able to shut down quickly with no relief and no need for one.

The sun was still out when I headed home. Since Mother Nature was holding on for the minute, I ignored the traffic and took the long way home down Nicholson. It was rush hour and the traffic was fairly heavy, but I wasn't sure what the road repair would be like on the Black Horse Pike.

When I got in, I did one more episode of Remember WENN as I had leftovers for dinner. The first WENN episode I ever saw was "The Emperor Smith." African-American waiter George Smith (Howard Rollins) takes over for Mackie when he gets laryngitis. Trouble is, this is early 1940. A man of color playing a sexy role in the soap opera "The Hands of Time," no matter how hunky he sounds, isn't going to fly with the general public. It's almost scary how the cast manages to keep his name under wraps, even when an annoying reporter comes snooping around, by letting the reporter think he's the "invisible man" society considers him to be.

I finished out the night with Sailor Moon. Other than de-emphasizing Rei's interest in Tuxedo Mask, the episodes that introduce hot-tempered Sailor Mars remain more-or-less the same. My favorite out of this batch is still "Nightmare In Dreamland." Ami, Rei, and Usagi investigate a wildly popular new theme park that's been seeing reports of people vanishing. Serious Rei and fun-loving Usagi have to learn to work together in order to discover Dreamland's secrets and save Ami from the Negaverse.

And this morning's storms have returned in force, even as I type this. Hopefully, they won't be as bad for the next few days. I'd like some decent days off. It is supposed to get colder, which might not be so bad. It was really too warm for April last week.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Little Birthday Boy

It was still sunny and beautiful when I got up this morning. I made Banana Pancakes while catching up with some of my newer CD's. Say You Will, one of Fleetwood Mac's newer albums, debuted a year after I moved to Wildwood. Though the title song was the big hit, my favorite song from this one is the driving "Peacemaker." I did Bruno Mars' Doo Wop & Hooligans as I did some more writing and packed up for work.

Work was busy for most of the afternoon. Nice weather early on coupled with this being the only day many people can shop at all brought a lot of folks out of the woodwork. I just out of place. Everyone complained about having to shop at all and this and that and the other thing. I enjoy shopping, including grocery shopping. All I could think is how out-of-place I felt. My customers and co-workers have nothing in common with me, and I have nothing in common with them. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 5 PM that I was able to shut down with no relief. I quickly bought a bag for Khai's birthday present before heading out.

As soon as I got home, I changed, packed up Khai's birthday present, signed his birthday card and Rose's, and rode to their house on Kendall. My nephew Khai's birthday is today. He's an adorable five. Rose and Craig took him to the Philadelphia Zoo earlier today for his big birthday present. He'd long had his cake by the time I finally got there, but he was still awake. I had some of the cute zoo-themed cake Rose made and was able to give Khai his chalk and Rose her birthday card (her birthday was two weeks ago). They gave me a birthday card too with 20 dollars in it. I watched the Philadelphia Union soccer team play the New England Revolution on ESPN as Craig helped Khai put his new Lego car track together.

(Incidentally, the Revolution eventually won, 2 to 1.)

I headed home to have leftover tuna casserole for dinner. Ran The Pirates of Penzance as I ate. This is the Broadway cast of the hit early 80's revival that includes Linda Rondstat as Mabel and Kevin Kline as the Pirate King. I've been a fan of the film for years. The original cast is also worth having - it's more-or-less the same, with the exception of Estelle Parsons as Ruth.

The weather that was so nice in the morning had clouded up and become cold by the time I got out of work. It's remained so the rest of the evening, including while I was at Rose's. It's supposed to rain hard tomorrow. We'll see how things go.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sunbeams and Daydreams

I finished out Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan while eating breakfast this morning. The title character (Ricardo Montalban) is a 20th century villain who is let out of prison vowing revenge on the man who put him there - James T. Kirk (William Shatner). He attacks the Starship Reliant and forces its crew to obey him. The Starship is carrying precious cargo - Project Genesis, a weapon that can create life in an instant...or destroy it. Meanwhile, the now-Admiral Kirk is training a new, young female Vulcan captain (Kirstie Alley) who leads by the book and is making him feel ancient. On a routine inspection of the Enterprise, he, Dr. McCoy (DeForrest Kelly), and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) get a distress call from the Reliant. Kirk takes over when he realizes what Khan has in mind for Project Genesis. It's Spock, though, who finally teaches him a hard lesson about life, death, and friendship.

Still considered to be the best of the 80's Star Trek films, this is a Trek movie even I relatively enjoyed. I was especially impressed by the special effects. Other than some very dated hairstyles, they still look good over 30 years later. The finale in particular, with Kirk saying good-bye to his dear friend, is heart-rendering (especially if you've never seen the sequels or haven't seen them in years, like me). Required viewing for Star Trek fans (especially if you're into the original series), but fun for non-Trek sci-fi lovers, too.

I just rode around for a few hours in the late morning. My original plan was to look around for yard sales. I only found one, a couple of streets down from the Westmont Plaza in Haddon Township, and they had nothing interesting left by the time I got there. I treated myself to a Mocha Coollatta from a very busy Duncan Donuts instead. I enjoyed it under umbrellas on the small tables next to Capitol Pizza. You only get a view of the Black Horse Pike, but that's better than eating inside on a gorgeous 80-degree day.

Since I was on the next block, I went down the street and browsed around at The House of Fun. They had a new (and legitimate) first season release of the original 90's animated Sailor Moon. It was 42 bucks, but I figured it was worth it. The only other place I'm likely to see it is

I put on Sailor Moon when I got home and had the last of the leftover turkey chili for lunch. It turns out this is the first half of the original, uncut first season. They included at least five episodes that were dropped from the early first season of the original English dub due to content or simply a lack of necessity to the plot. On one hand, I sort of miss Luna and Naru's accents. They did kind of make the characters stand out. On the other hand, the English translation seems to be a tad bit more accurate this time around ("bun head" instead of "meatball head," for instance).

One of the rediscovered episodes, however, wound up being my favorite on the first disc. Usagi first shows off her fondness for playing matchmaker when she meets a handsome older jazz performer who thinks a monster is after him. Usagi helps bring him together with the younger woman he loves. She finds herself saving them both when his sweetheart is attacked by a Negaverse monster who wants to use his music to send brainwashing messages to everyone in Tokyo.

I went for a walk after lunch. It was just too nice to be inside for too long! It was actually a little too hot for mid-April, probably in the mid-to-upper 70's. It's definitely spring here now. The trees are in full pink, white, and pale green blossom. There were tons of people all over the place. Adults mowed their overgrown lawns, worked in their gardens, rode bikes, or chatted with friends. Younger kids tossed balls around or played with toys in their yards. Their older siblings wandered around in packs, on bike or on foot, talking and checking their smartphones.

When I got back in, I spent the next few hours working on my WENN fanfiction and trying to get some ideas. I have an interesting idea for a WENN pirate/American Revolution spoof that involves Maple and Victor, but one thing at a time. I really want to finish the Edge of the Precipice series first.

I came up with an idea around 4:30. Instead of having a regular meal indoors, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and have a picnic in the park. I boiled three eggs to make an egg salad sandwich on rye while I was writing my story. I put on more Sailor Moon as I made the egg salad and sliced celery. Usagi thinks she's gained weight and attempts a crash diet, but that just wears her out. Some friends convince her to join a gym instead after they see how much weight their teacher Miss Haruna has lost. Usagi tries to work out as hard as she can...but first a guy she has a crush on tells her she looks fine, then she discovers the gym is a Negaverse plot.

Veteran's Park was gorgeous at 5:30. It was the perfect time of day for a picnic. The breeze was light and a little cooler than earlier, but not cold. I put down my checked flannel blanket down on top of the hill overlooking the river. I spent a splendid, lazy hour eating my egg salad sandwich, celery, and the last of the Fudge Cupcake Graham Cracker Goldfish and reading my old Remember WENN fanfiction. I only went in because the wind was starting to feel a little chillier.

Finished out the Sailor Moon disc when I got in and as I cleaned up from dinner and ate dessert. The seventh episode on the disc has everyone clamoring over a big talent contest being put on by a popular star. Usagi is just as obsessed as everyone else, until she sees some strange things and begins to agree with Luna that something's wrong. The last show introduced Sailor Mercury, aka Ami Mizuno, the smartest girl in Usagi's middle school. Luna suspects Ami of being involved in a Negaverse plot at her computer school, until she and Usagi find the real monster attacking her.

And...sigh. Today was the last day of my vacation. I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow at all, even if I don't have much of it this week. Thank heavens my next vacation is Lauren's visit in mid-June.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Eyes Have It

I slept in a little this morning, but not as long as I did yesterday. I had the time for some Care Bears before I headed out. A little sneeze turns into a big headache for the Bears when they break out in the "Feeling Flu." Their sneezing causes them to switch feelings and powers! Now, everyone has to deal with things they're not used to feeling while helping Tenderheart search for the herb that'll cure them.

I headed out around 11:30. I really had no huge plans for the morning, so I thought I'd just go for a random bike ride. I ended up in Haddon Heights. I needed to deposit some of the money I got from Dad yesterday at PNC Bank. I spent an hour looking at books at the Haddon Heights Library. They're larger than Haddon Township, and a bit better organized, too. They have lots of books on movies and musicals, some of which I haven't seen since I was a teenager and would scour the Cape May City Library for information on old movies. Too bad Haddon Heights Library isn't a part of the Camden County Library System. (Nor are the libraries in Haddonfield, Collingswood, Oaklyn, or Audubon.) I don't want to pay a ton of money just to take out a few books.

After stopping at John's Friendly Market for a Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and a raspberry-vanilla fig bar, I made my way down to King's Highway, then across Audubon to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. I explored Avenue and Shoe Depot for a while, but I really don't have that much money. When I got bored with browsing, I just decided to just do my grocery shopping early. I really didn't need much, anyway. I was mainly buying produce - blood oranges, grapefruit, strawberries. I'm almost out of honey - Acme's organic brand is the cheapest. The Ready-Pac Spinach Dijon Salad was on sale for $2.50. I bought that for a quick lunch.

I'm not happy with next week's schedule at all. While three days off will be nice for writing and spring cleaning, I only have 20 hours. Not to mention, a very early 8 AM shift next Saturday means I'll miss both the Haddon Heights and Audubon Town-Wide Yard Sales.

I ate my salad at the picnic table across from Arby's, where Acme employees go where they want to smoke or get some air. Thankfully, no one was there when I was. I enjoyed the quiet as I watched the mid-afternoon traffic speed by on the Black Horse Pike.

My eye exam surprisingly didn't take very long. I just paid my rent and don't really have that much money. I was thinking of replacing my glasses, but I doubt I could afford it. Maybe this summer. At any rate, it took less than ten minutes to get to the first round of tests, and five minutes to get to the second one. I was hoping they had my insurance, but nope. I ended up paying 90 dollars.

Went straight home after that. I went online and worked on my Precipice story for a while. Around 5:30, I decided I needed a stretch. I first finished out an episode of Remember WENN I started earlier in the afternoon.

The second WENN episode I ever saw was "Who's Minding the Asylum?" from the first season. Victor and the WENN actors are off to Harrisburg for a radio convention, leaving Betty, organist Eugenia, sound effects master Mr. Foley, C.J the technician, go-fer Mr. Eldridge, and Gertie the switchboard operator in charge. Unfortunately, an accident in the studio leaves the glass records with their programming shattered on the floor...and hours of programming to fill. On top of that, Mr. Medwick (Bob Dorian, AMC's program host at the time), a particularly fussy sponsor, has come to see the launch of a new of the broken ones. Betty first devises an amateur talent show to explain the lack of actors, then finds a way for the show to go on, via the one remaining disc.

I moved on to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan after that. I only got half-way through before hitting the shower. I'll discuss it in full tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

On the Edge of the Precipice...Again

I didn't get up until around 10:30 this morning. I spent most of last night enjoying my discovery of the old group on Google Groups. I think I joined the group somewhere around mid-late 1997. There seems to be a lot missing, including many of my posts, but what's still there brings back so many memories! Especially the hilarious spoof resolutions to the crazy season three cliffhangers (which we'll discuss a bit later in this post).

When I finally did get out of bed, I started a gorgeous, sunny morning with more Remember WENN. WENN's receptionist tries her hand at radio script writing in "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece," one of the best episodes of the third season. Gertie's play is "Rendevous In Rabat," a drama that quickly turns into a hilarious spoof of Casablanca. Scott is Rick, who cares for nobody...until Betty (Ilsa) shows up in his life again. Victor Comstock is Victor Lazlo, Eugenia's Sam, Maple is the singer at the cafe and the desperate immigrants, Jeff's a waiter, Mr. Eldridge is S.K Sakall, Mackie is Major Peugot, Hilary is a cafe customer, and Mr. Foley is a Nazi commander. Gertie, however, doesn't have an ending for her play. Betty types out eight letters that could contain the name of the man she wants to end up with...but then she decides it's best for Gertie to figure out her own ending.

I headed out after the episode finished. I decided to stick to walking this time, since all my plans for today were local. I originally peeked at Studio LuLoo before deciding to do the Oaklyn Library first. (And after I had to go back for the Lord of the Rings series, which I forgot.) Not a ton to do there, though I did get some organizing done in the kids' area.

My next stop was Dad and Jodie's house. I've been meaning to get over there for weeks, but I either haven't had the time, or they weren't around. I picked the right day for it. Not only were they home, but Dad's longtime friends from Cape May Brian and Diane were visiting. I hadn't seen them in ages. Dad seems ok, other than his throat and the ongoing arthritis in his back. He and Jodie gave me 80 dollars for my birthday. I'll put half of it in the bank tomorrow. 

(Diane told me some disappointing news - the Pilot House, a long-time bar and restaurant in Cape May that my family went to a lot during my childhood, shut down and was replaced by yet another fancy restaurant. Like Cape May needs another fancy restaurant that no one can afford.)

I had a very quick lunch at Common Grounds Coffee House. I wasn't really that hungry, so I settled on a bagel with jam and an iced tea. It was too nice of a day to be sitting in a coffee house. I was the only one there besides the college kid behind the counter.

Went a few doors down to Studio LuLoo after lunch. I chatted with Roxy and a young male volunteer while continuing to tear (and when I got tired of tearing, cutting) strips of tissue paper for craft projects. I wasn't there for too long. A couple of little girls arrived after-school. They had homework to do, and I didn't want to disrupt them. I left as soon as I finished with one large square of white tissue paper.)

After dropping Rose and her family's Easter card in their mail box, I strolled to WaWa. They were incredibly busy, partially due to the local kids being out of school by then, partially because today was WaWa's Free Coffee Day. I don't drink coffee. I bought their cheaper eggs and treated myself to a $1.99 Cotton Candy Milkshake instead.

It was a glorious day for a walk. The neighborhood is looking more and more spring-y. The trees are glowing with pink, white, lavender, and pale green flowers. The lawns are starting to actually look a bit bushy. The air is fragrant with hyacinths, daffodils, and jonquils. 

When I got in, I spent the next few hours online, re-reading a few of my old Remember WENN On the Edge of the Precipice fanfics before I finally started the 28th story in the series, "Fox and Falcon." For those of you who weren't WENN fans fifteen years ago, this began as a college assignment to write a response to a TV cliffhanger. From there, it grew into my version of WENN's never-written fifth (and considering how many stories there ended up being, sixth) seasons. I lost interest in the series and ran out of ideas before I could finish it. I'm hoping to at least do this much.

For those of you who are interested in catching up, here's the rest of the series:

I returned to more late third season WENN as I made flounder in lemon-wine sauce with the last of the broccoli, cauliflower, and stir-fry vegetables for dinner. "Eugenia Bremer, Master Spy" brings in more espionage...but this time for laughs as snobbish British secret agent Desmond Quist invades the station. It's understandable that he thinks there could be more Nazis at WENN after the second season finale...but he targets the least-likely character, sweet organist Eugenia Bremer. While the cast paraphrases their shows to try to stop more Nazi messages from getting through the airwaves, Quist courts Eugenia...who has a secret of her own.

"Caller I.D" may define the show more than any other episode, since it concerns the true magic of radio and television. Mackie is playing DJ on a late-night music program when he gets a call from a woman who claims she's sitting on the ledge of a near-by building, ready to jump. She's a plain secretary living a plain life, and the WENN shows are her reality, her dreams. When she realizes they aren't real, she thinks she has nothing. The cast first throws together several regular WENN shows to appease her, then prove to her that they're all real people...and that the real magic of fiction is just how strong the imagination can be.

Betty's imagination is working overtime in the infamous third season finale "Happy Homecomings." She hears a different voice playing turncoat Johnathan Arnold on the radio and worried for Victor's safety. On advice from station lawyer Doug Thompson, she finally decides to open the name of Victor's contact in the locked box in the station manager's office. Meanwhile, Scott discovers what Quist didn't - that the Nazi codes are in a sponsor's commercials, not anything the station wrote. Jeff's finally home, too, much to Hilary's dismay. She's not going within five miles of him. Either he goes, or she does. And then, when Betty does discover the contact, it's not whom she or anyone expects. Including a strangely distracted Victor Comstock....

Yes, these are the cliffhangers that left the entire Remember WENN fandom screaming in agony...for six months. AMC aired "Happy Homecomings" in January 1998 and for some reason didn't start the fourth season until mid-June. I still consider the interim to be the longest six months of my entire life. I told everyone online, at home, and at Stockton College that I wanted only two things from life during those months - to pass my classes and find out the ending to those blasted cliffhangers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lord of the Library

I started out a late morning by finishing Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. While Frodo and Sam continue to Mordor, Aragorn, Gimili, and Legolas head to a kingdom that may be able to help...if it's ruler hadn't already been affected by a follower of Sauruman. Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin escape their captors, only to run into a group of sentient trees who eventually help them overcome the evil wizard and his people. Aragorn, Gimili, and Legolas help defend their new allies against Saruman's orc armies.

I headed out to run today's errands as soon as Two Towers ended. I was originally going to volunteer at Studio LuLoo first, but they weren't open. My first stop winded up being Tuesday Morning by default. No, there were no Ever After High dolls I hadn't seen there. I quickly moved on to the Haddon Township Library.

I arrived at the Haddon Township Library at noon. They weren't that busy. I didn't even have that many DVD's to shelve. Most of the ones that hadn't been shelved were ones that couldn't fit. I didn't even have a problem getting most of the kids' titles in. There was only one audio book that needed to be put back.

I did find some movies I wanted to take out. Two musical biopics on sixties pop and R&B stars came out last summer, and I regretted missing them - Get On Up on James Brown, and the adaptation of the Broadway smash Jersey Boys, about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I've been waiting for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan to finally get in - that's the only original Star Trek movie I ever liked. Grabbed some more recent Care Bears, too.

It was too nice of a day to head home after I finished. Not to mention, it was only around 1:30. I decided to make up for yesterday's bad weather with a stroll in Collingswood. I had a slice of vegetable and a slice of cheese pizza and water at a quiet Cafe Antonio's.

I was disappointed to note that the nice little book store next-door to them had vanished, to be replaced (I hope) by a florist's shop. The older woman who owned and ran the store must have retired or passed away. They still haven't put anything into what used to be the International Market. There's another market listed in the window, but after the one in the Woolworth building across the street failed so badly it only lasted a few weeks, I seriously have my doubts about it ever debuting. Yogawood moved down the street to what used to be the musical instruments shop.

I didn't have much luck in Collingswood, but it was nice to walk around. There was nothing that interesting at the Twin Oaks Thrift Shop. I considered a black skirt at Frugli Consignment Shop, but eventually changed my mind. Treated myself to a Key Lime Coconut Sandwich Cookie from My Little Kupcake.

Another peek at Studio LuLoo around 3 PM revealed that they were now open. There wasn't much going on, though. I helped the head of the studio organize a craft project for Earth Day that apparently involves cutting paper coffee cups into flowers and trimming them with paper scraps and glitter, then putting yarn through a punched hole. I also tore up old yellow and green tissue paper to use for projects.

Finally headed home around quarter of 4. I spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment, making Watermelon Cake, crocheting, and finally finishing out the Lord of the Rings series with Return of the King. While Aragon, Gimili, and Legolas round up several armies (including one undead one) to distract Sauron, Frodo and Sam continue their journey (after a scary and rather nasty encounter with an enormous spider), dogged all the way by the desperate little critter Gollum. When they get there, though, Frodo has a lot more than second thoughts about getting rid of the ring. It's the least-likely creature that finally destroys the ring....and teaches Sam, Frodo, and everyone in Middle Earth a valuable lesson in friendship and teamwork.

Wow. When they call these movies epics, they aren't mincing words. Return of the King is three hours long! That said, despite its Oscar, it wasn't my favorite of the three by a long shot. I think my favorite was Fellowship of the Ring, which was a tad bit more lighthearted, and concentrated more on personality than on orc battles. The long, protracted battle sequences in the later two movies got tedious quickly, especially for someone who isn't into war to begin with.

I think my favorite characters ended up being the hilarious hobbit duo Merry and Pippin. They go from being mostly comedy relief in the first film to full-fledged heroes in their own right by the third, and are rewarded with some of the best lines in the entire series. It's just so funny to watch those two together. I love how they rounded up the tree ents to invade Isengaard.

As well-done as the movies are, I mainly recommend them for fans of fantasy and epic action or the cast, and for people with long attention spans. Those nine hours do drag at times, especially in Return of the King.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Birthday In Haddonfield and Collingswood

I slept in this morning after my long walk yesterday. It was just as well. It was showering when I did finally get out of bed. I enjoyed the rest of the Backyardigans episodes during breakfast as I waited out the weather.

Tyrone and Uniqua are asking "What's Bugging You?" when Tasha calls them to her squeaky clean-mansion. Seems she has a wormen (one of the cute little Technicolor worm-like critters seen on the show from time to time) in her house. Mr. Spiffy (Pablo) is checking out her house today to see if she qualifies for his Spiffy Club. The two exterminators use all the tricks they can think of to clear out those wormens before Mr. Spiffy figures out what's going on. The girls are in the spotlight in "Chitchen Itza Pizza." They're pizza delivery women in Aztec Mexico who have to make a delivery across the jungle to Emperor Tyrone...not an easy thing to do with Tasha's fear of heights!

I headed out to get a huge load of laundry done around 11:30. The rain was slowing down to a mild shower by then. It did clear out the laundromat. The place was quiet the entire time I was there. I listened to The Price Is Right and the local news. By the time I was done, the rain was gone, replaced by blah gray clouds.

When I got home, I ran another birthday-themed cartoon as I put away my very big load, including the flannel sheets. The final episode of The Yogi Bear Show is "Yogi's Birthday Party." Ranger Smith is holding a big birthday bash for Yogi on TV. Yogi thinks it's a variety show and tries to take lessons in dancing and singing. When those don't work, he tries to avoid the show. It turns out that the show is a reunion for him and such fellow Hanna-Barbara funny animals as Pixie & Dixie and Huckleberry Hound, who are there to celebrate his big day.

Headed out after Yogi ended. I was originally going to do a fancy lunch for my birthday. Since I ended up doing an expensive dinner on Easter, I went with a fun lunch instead. I went to the Pop Shop for lunch, since I didn't make it there last week. They were still pretty busy, even at quarter after 1. One of The Pop Shop's specialties is grilled cheese sandwiches, most of which are named after streets in Audubon, Haddon Township, Oaklyn, and Collingswood. I went with the Cambridge - cheddar cheese, roast beef, caramelized onions, and horseradish mayonnaise. Yum, yum. Savory and salty. The fries were even better, roasted to a deep brown and sprinkled with a kosher salt-pepper mix. I made a quick stop at PNC Bank for money before moving on.

Since it was on my way to Haddonfield, I had my birthday cupcake at McMillan's Bakery in Westmont. They were also pretty busy for a Tuesday. I chose the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles. It was a little disappointing, actually. The frosting was thick and rich and tasted home-made, but the cupcake itself was moist but tasteless. Maybe if I stop there next year for my birthday, I'll get one of their beloved donuts instead.

I made a brief stop at Happy Hippo Toys before heading to Mrs. Stahl's for this month's counseling appointment. Her door was locked when I got there. I thought she wasn't there. A knock on the door revealed otherwise. We mostly discussed my surprising and generally enjoyable month - my mall trip yesterday, Dad's throat surgery and recovery, the ongoing work in the front apartment, my surprise vacation, the day I didn't end up having jury duty, my high marks in the creative writing classes, and my rediscovery of Remember WENN.

For once in my life, I'm feeling pretty darn good. I have a whole week off I didn't plan on. My next vacation is less than two months away. I didn't get stuck with jury duty. Not only did I pass my creative writing course with flying colors, but the teacher says I have the talent to be a real writer. There's only one currently available basic Ever After High doll I don't have (Ginger Breadhouse, the daughter of the Candy Witch from Hansel and Gretel), but there's more coming within the next few months (including female knight Darling Charming, Bunny "White Rabbit" Blanc, her sweetheart Alistair Wonderland, and Rosabella Beauty, the rebel daughter of Beauty and the Beast). I'm actually considering finishing WENN fanfiction that has been on the back burner for as long as fifteen years in some cases. And I'm very much looking forward to my next big vacation in mid-June when Lauren visits.

I was in high spirits when I headed out. It was getting late, and the weather wasn't improving. I limited my shopping in Haddonfield to browsing in that little book-and-CD shop I first discovered last fall. Though there weren't any books I could live without, I did pick up the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will.

I got a call on my cell phone when I was heading down Haddon Avenue. I pulled into the parking lot of a condo to take the call. It was Rose, calling me to wish me a happy birthday. She says she'll be having a small birthday party at her house for Khai next Sunday. I'll at least try to bring around his birthday present and his mother's birthday and Easter cards then.

Made a quick stop at the Acme on the way home for more almond-coconut milk (it's still on sale) and a strawberry-banana sparkling juice. I cut across Newton River Park to avoid the traffic on Cuthbert. Needless to say, it wasn't anywhere near as busy as Sunday. It started spitting while I was heading to the park, and has continued to rain off and on for the rest of the night.

When I got in, I started Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and had leftovers for dinner. I haven't finished it, so I'll give the full report on that one tomorrow.

Oh, and Mom called while I was online, also to wish me a happy birthday. Not much going on in her neck of the woods, other than she's still working a lot. Rose may be going down to visit her in a few weeks. We'll see if I have the time to join them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Malls 'R Us

Started a gorgeous, warm April morning with Max & Ruby in honor of my birthday tomorrow. "Surprise Ruby" has Max leading Ruby on a merry chase to get her tiara before her surprise birthday party starts. "Ruby's Birthday Party" is lots of fun, with games galore...but Max would rather just have cake. Ruby and Louise open "Ruby's Presents," and while they delight over the contents, Max tries to figure out what to give his sister.

Switched to the original World of Strawberry Shortcake as I got ready to go. Strawberry is also a birthday girl. She's upset that no one seems to remember, but her friends are planning a surprise party. The nasty Peculiar Purple Pie Man is determined to spoil their fun.

Today was my semi-annual trip to the Deptford Mall. I started out around quarter of 10. Even with a half-hour trip down the White Horse Pike, I arrived there with plenty of time to buy a bottle of water before picking up an on-time bus to Deptford. There was no traffic whatsoever, and I arrived at Target around 11.

Target was quiet as a mouse. Pretty much the only people there when I was were the staff and a couple of parents looking for toys for kids. I was mostly there for underwear. I needed Herbal Essences' curl shampoo and a new toothbrush. There wasn't much left of their Easter section, but I did find a Betty Crocker Watermelon cake mix for 64 cents. My big find was one of the three Ever After High dolls I hadn't run into offline, Lizzie Hearts. She was her re-released version in the new, slimmer packaging. While the re-release doesn't have her ring shaped like a pack of cards and many painted details are missing, she's otherwise pretty much the same as the original. She was $19.99, not cheap but better than some of the fancier dolls they had, or than I've seen Lizzie go online.

I was originally going to have lunch at Pizza Hut, but there was no Pizza Hut. Sometime in the last six months or so, they must have succumbed to the heavy local pizza competition, including the Uno down the street.  I just hiked down to the Deptford Mall and had lunch at the A&W in the food court. I had a honey Dijon chicken sandwich, fries, and a Diet A&W. The chicken sandwich was a bit tough and not all that great. The fries were better, typical fast food fries. It was lunch, anyway.

Explored the mall for a while after that. I checked out JCPenney first, but their prices weren't that great, and I didn't like their pants selection. I had far more luck at Boscov's. I got two bras, one 10 dollars off, the other 40% off, and a pair of khakis I needed for work for $18. I browsed in the Disney Store and Teavana, but didn't buy anything there. Bought cards at Hallmark for Dad to get well and for my nephew Khai's birthday next week.

I needed a birthday present for Khai, too, but I hadn't seen anything I liked at the mall or at Target. I decided to brave the traffic on Route 42 and go across the street to Toys 'R Us. It was a smaller, vintage-looking building that still had a tiled rainbow around the entrance. I couldn't remember what Rose said Khai wanted. I did check the Ever After High dolls, but though they did have a few dolls I'd never seen before (including the "Date Night" Raven and Dexter 2-pack), there wasn't anything I wanted.

I finally opted to go neutral. I bought a blue container and put chalk and colored bubble solution in it. The weather's been so nice. It wouldn't hurt my nephew to play outside. I found one of the Backyardigans DVD's, High Flying Adventures, for myself.

I was so worn out when I finally made it out of Toys 'R Us, I stumbled to the bus stop near Macy's at the Deptford Mall and just waited there for the 4:58 bus. The bus was right on time, and though there was some traffic, it wasn't a problem. I made a brief stop at the WaWa in Audubon for a Perrier Lemon Lime Sparkling Water (they didn't have Sparkling Ice) on the way home, heading into Oaklyn to avoid the rush hour traffic.

I took out Lizzie Hearts when I got home. Lizzie Hearts is the daughter of the Queen of Hearts. Like all Wonderland characters, she's under exile and can't go home, thanks to the Evil Queen (Raven's mom) having corrupted the Queen and her land. Lizzie's homesickness is more pronounced than anyone else's. She can't figure out Ever After customers - her "Off with your head!" means "please" and "thank you!" Lizzie had long, wavy red and black hair that shed nearly as badly as Blondie and Briar's. The ends were crunchy; it needed to be washed rather badly.

Put on some Backyardigans while I had leftovers for dinner and put everything else away. Uniqua is a "Fly Girl" in a pink airplane. She delivers singing telegrams to clean-obsessed pirate Pablo, silence-loving Indian queen Tasha, and grouchy Abominable Snow-moose Tyrone. She thinks they don't appreciate her music, but they have a surprise for her when she lands. "Who's Goes There?" is a riff on Night at the Museum. Security Guard Tyrone has to get runaway artworks Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin back in their objects, before Curator Tasha finds them gone.

And...I don't think I'm going to do these Deptford Mall trips anymore. It's just too much of a hassle to get up there. There's now nothing in the Deptford area I couldn't find elsewhere - I could live without the Toys 'R Us.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lazy Afternoon

I began my vacation by blissfully sleeping in after staying up late last night with Lauren. I made French Toast for breakfast while listening to some of my Disney kids' records. Splashdance mostly spoofs 80's technology trends with "Digital Duck" and the odd "Hoedown at the Robot Farm," but it also features one of my favorite songs from the Disney 80's character records, "You Can Always Be Number One," as well as "Happy Happy Birthday To You." Mickey Mouse Disco is what the title implies, disco spoofs and covers of popular Disney standards. The standouts here are "The Greatest Band" with the Disney gang, "Welcome to Rio," and a really fun version of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah."

I went out for a nice long walk after the records ended. It was the most gorgeous day I've ever seen in mid-April, sunny, breezy, and in the mid-to-upper 60's. After a quick stop at CVS for a half-price coconut cream egg, I headed to Newton Lake Park. They were almost as busy as they were last Monday. I watched kids play on the swings and a dad help his little son on the slides at the first playground. Parents and kids rode bikes together. People walked their dogs, strolled with friends, and rode skateboards and motor bikes. A boy and his dad fished together.

Newton Lake Park is fully immersed in spring now. Soft, tender pale green shoots are starting to appear on most of the trees. The banks of the lake are carpeted with deep yellow buttercups. I watched a female duck clean herself while her mate floated along beside her. Another duck chased them as I made my way down the path. I saw the first dandelion of the season, too. Little purple and lavender wildflowers have popped up everywhere. The new grass is emerald green and soft as silk.

I headed up a steep stone stairway to Collingswood Avenue in Oaklyn. The neighborhoods are looking pretty nice now, too. Pansies, daffodils, lilies, and hyacinths brighten every garden. Many people were cleaning up their lawns, washing their cars, or chatting on patios.

I had lunch at Amato Bros on the White Horse Pike. It was one of the only restaurants in the immediate area open on Sunday. Watched the Nationals-Phillies game as I ate the "Bruschetta Di Parma" mini hoagie, prosciutto ham with bruschetta tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and sliced fresh mozzarella. The prosciutto was incredibly salty; otherwise, it wasn't bad. (Which is more than I can say about the game. The Nationals were up 1-0 when I was there. They went on to win 4-3.)

I took a detour into Veteran's Memorial Park next-door after I got back to Manor. It was just as busy as the larger park in Haddon Township. A dad helped his son ride his first training-wheel-less bike. Mom kept an eye on his younger brother as he sped around the blacktop on his training wheels. A college student reclined on a blanket and studied. People tilled the soil and laid new mulch on the gardens in the center of the park.

When I headed inside, I plopped on my couch to just hang out and rest for an hour. I crocheted while listening to the original cast album for the 1953 musical Kismet. Based on the music of Alexander Borodin, this Arabian Knights-style tale takes us to ancient Baghdad. In the course of one day, beggar Haji (Alfred Drake) becomes Emir, defeats the evil Wazir, and falls for Lalume (Joan Diener), the Wazir's head wife. His daughter (Doretta Morrow) falls in love with the handsome Caliph (Richard Kiely) who was disguised as a gardener. This is a cute Aladdin-esque operetta with some of the finest music of the 1950's, including the lovely ballad "Stranger In Paradise" and the hit "Baubles, Bangles, and Beads."

Went in the bath for an hour or so. I'm so glad I've had more chances for baths. They've really helped both with stress and my sore feet. I looked over cake decorating magazines while listening to jazz vocalists and basking in the soft spring sunlight streaming into my bathroom.

Finished out the night with the last of the leftover black bean and vegetable soup and one of my Have a Nice Day! 70's CD collections. It's one of my favorites - songs include "Dream Weaver," "Right Back Where We Started From," "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight," "Afternoon Delight," and the themes from Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Great Day to Be Alive

Started the morning with some cute Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater action spoofs. Tuxedo Sam the Penguin is a very unlikely "Robin Penguin," robbing the evil Princess (Catnip) of gum for the poor and romancing Maid Hello Kitty. He's an even more odd "Pinocchio Penguin." He and Chip learn a lesson in telling the truth when gypsy performers Catnip and Grinder convince them to perform in their show, and then they and Grandpa Gepetto are swallowed by a whale! Chip is "The Ugly Quackling," a little gray duck who doesn't quite fit in with the others. He teaches his sisters about judging a duck by its feathers when he helps save them from the hungry fox (Grinder). "Hello Mother Goose" has to deal with the entire cast when famous nursery rhyme props go missing. Sweet My Melody is "Little Red Bunny Hood" in a wild west take on "Red Riding Hood." My Melody has to save her grandmother from Belle Catnip and her gang and avoid the hungry Big Bad Wolf (Grinder).

Furry Tale Theater is far from the only 80's cartoon to have fun with movie spoofs. Garfield and Friends contributed its share of satire as well. One of my favorites from the first season was the hilarious U.S Acres take on the James Bond movies, "Double Oh Orson." Orson gets caught up in a spy novel and imagines he's a suave secret agent looking for a device that's been stolen by Pinfeather, aka Roy. Lady Lanolin assists him in finding her brother, the missing agent Bo. Meanwhile, Roy and the chicks were out chasing worms. Some of the worms now seem to be missing, but Roy won't say where they are...

Work was steady all afternoon, pretty normal for what was shaping up to be a gorgeous spring weekend. Most people were in decent moods, and I had no real problems. My relief was on time, and so was my break. I was quite happily in and out.

I had one stop to make on my way home. I'm way overdue for this year's eye exam. I'm going to need contacts in a few weeks. I dropped into America's Best to make an appointment for 3 PM on Friday.

Since I was already going in that direction, I went out by Wal Mart and took Nicholson, Atlantic, and Manor home instead of going down the Black Horse Pike. I did it partly to avoid the ongoing construction work on the Kendall Boulevard ramp...but mostly because it was such a gorgeous day, it seemed a crime not to extend my ride.

When I got home, I changed and went right back outside. I've been meaning to take a look at my bike for a while. The front wheel's been making noise ever since Richard changed the tire a few weeks ago. I oiled everything and tightened that front wheel as well as I could. It's still wobbling, but at least it's not making noise anymore.

I went back inside for a sweater and my purse, then headed out for a nice, long walk. It was too nice to be inside all day, which was my original plan. I strolled down to the end of Goff Avenue. The water was so clear, I could see every fish and every branch floating along. The Ben Franklin Bridge could clearly be seen against the soft blue sky.

Headed down Ridgeway and up to the Oaklyn School. There were kids of all ages everywhere, from high school boys going out for a Saturday drive in their trucks to an adorable toddler being pushed in a swing by his parents in the school playground. Kids chased each other around the playground and played catch and rode bikes on the street. It was a great day just to be alive. More green grass is popping out every day. Forsythia, hyacinths, and daffodils are blooming in every garden. The first flowering magnolia trees are just starting to bloom.

I spent the rest of the evening after my walk dusting the apartment. I put it off for too long, mostly due to the disarray in the living room and the still-huge wet spot. I just couldn't put it off anymore. It's starting to get to my nose. I did it all as quickly as I could. I'll do more next month, when we get closer to Lauren's visit.

I finally finished up Fellowship of the Ring while dusting and having leftovers for dinner. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is given a ring with special powers by his uncle Bilbo. He and his friends Sam (Sean Astin), Merry, and Pippin set out to take the ring to someone who might protect it. They're supposed to meet the wizard Gandolf (Ian MacKellen) at a certain inn, but he's waylaid by an evil sorcerer (Christopher Lee) who is following an ancient evil that is being unleashed. Tough ranger Aragorn helps the Hobbits to the land of the Elves, where they confer with a released Gandolf and with the elves themselves. They get together with elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), dwarf Glimli, and Boromir, an arrogant nobleman, to make their way to Gondor to destroy the ring at all costs.

I haven't seen Fellowship of the Ring since I watched it with my then-boyfriend in 2002, not long after it came out on home video. I at first avoided the series because it reminded me too much of him...and then, I avoided it simply because these movies are over two and a half hours long, and I rarely have the time to watch all of them. I'm hoping the second time is the charm. I still haven't seen the other two.

Finished out the night with more WENN as I cleaned up from dinner. The cast is "Courting Disaster" in the mid-third season when Jeff's lawyer shows up with a 100, 000 dollar breech of contract suit. Scott and Betty help Hilary with a countersuit (while C.J the technician enjoys barbecue ribs in the control room).