Sunday, May 31, 2015

Workin' For a Livin'

I began the morning with a Broadway cast album and Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes. Considering I also like the movie, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the stage version of Mary Poppins when I found the CD at a yard sale a few years ago. The basic idea is still the same. Mr. and Mrs. Banks, residents of Cherry Tree Lane in Edwardian England, are at their wits end trying to find a nanny for their children Jane and Michael. The one who eventually arrives isn't anything like the parents expect. Pretty, sensible Mary Poppins turns the household upside-down with her songs and games and magical ability to make the impossible possible. She ultimately succeeds in teaching Mr. Banks a lesson - childhood is an equally magical time, and it only comes once. He needs to spend more time with his children, and find the child in himself.

What I like is how several numbers that were only loosely tied into the movie, like "Jolly Holiday," are now a little more connected to the plot. There's also a more traditional villain, Miss Andrews, who had been Mr. Banks' nanny as a child. Though he speaks fondly of how she reared him, she turns out to be a nasty old crone who is more interested in forcing the children to behave than allowing them to be themselves. Even die-hard fans of the movie may want to give this a listen, if only to see what made it in and what didn't.

I'm so wiped out. I spent the most of the rest of the afternoon outside, helping other baggers push carts. Normally, I rather enjoy rounding up carts. First of all, though, it's Sunday. We're crazy on Sundays. The carts perpetually needed to be gathered. Second, it was hot, sunny, and humid as heck today. While a nice breeze did help, my knees and feet hurt like heck, and I have a tremendous headache from the glare. I'm just not used to pushing carts for five and a half hours in 80 degree weather.

When I got home, I made leftovers for dinner and put on another Disney cast album. Beauty and the Beast was Disney's first theatrical venture, and one of their most successful. This one is more-or-less the same as the movie - an intelligent, well-read young woman finds herself prisoner in the home of an enchanted beast and the moving objects who are his servants. She ultimately comes to love him, but after she sees that her father is ill, he lets her go. But she has a jealous suitor who wants to rid himself of anyone who could want such a beauty...even a beast.

My favorite of the additional material is an intense ballad added to deepen the character of the Beast, "If I Can't Love Her." Otherwise, this one more-or-less follows the movie, with only a few additional songs and no really major plot changes. If you love the movie, you'll probably enjoy the show, too.

And I'm hoping to work up towards the finale of my very long epic fanfiction tonight. Betty went alone to the Governor's Mansion after Pavla told them about Pruitt buying Scott. Pruitt does have Scott there...but he's bait to force her into a wedding. He makes Scott tell her his real identity - that of a former pirate who fled Pruitt's grasp after he killed his parents and burned their home. Betty says she'll duel for Scott's life and hers...but what Betty lacks in actual fencing ability, she makes up for in cunning and common sense...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

See You at the Movie Spoofs

Started another hot, sunny morning with Tiny Toon Adventures. More movie spoofs are the order of the day as Babs and Buster go theater-hopping in "Cinemaniacs." The "movies" they see are three shorts. Babs fights for truth, justice, and the Acme Acres way in "SuperBabs." Plucky, Hampton, and Furball explore the final Toon frontier in "Duck Trek." Buster and Montana Max spoof adventure tales and Indiana Jones in "Pasadena Jones and the Secret of Life."

I slept in a little after staying up late to do some writing. The story is moving along very nicely. The staff of the Monongahela Inn dressed as British soldiers (with Hilary as their general) to rescue C.J and the Crimson Blade's men from a rival inn across town. They're now heading for Captain Pavla's ship to rescue the guys...but they're too late to save Scott. Pruitt's already taken him away. Pavla still has Victor and Jeff, though, and the ladies won't be happy when they realize she intends to try to hypnotize Victor again...

I did have enough time to hit the farm market and check out a few yard sales today. While I didn't see anything in Oaklyn, I did find a vintage Ghostbusters picture book at a sale in Collingswood. I had far better luck at the farm market. They were packed, despite the hot and humid day. I didn't see any snap peas, but I did get my strawberries. I also picked up carrots, North Carolina blueberries (the Jersey blueberries won't be ready for a few weeks), radishes, the first zucchini and yellow squash of the year, and tangelos from the tropical fruit vendor.

Did more Tiny Toons when I got in. "Crimebusters" definitely dates this show to the early 90's. Buster is framed by Montana Max and his gang for stealing a slushee machine. He and Plucky end up in prison; when they're finally let out, they round up Montana Max in a rap showdown that must have seemed pretty cool in 1991 but looks absurd today.

Work was busier than it has been, otherwise mostly on-and-off steady. The heat may still be scaring people off. It's still going to be hot tomorrow, but it sounds like it'll start cooling off by Monday, when the rain finally arrives. It's also right before the beginning of the month, and we're between holidays. It'll probably pick up a little this week as people get their money. The only major problem was my forgetting to call the manager about a young man who tried to buy $1,000 worth of gift cards with a credit card. Thank goodness his card wouldn't let him do it. Otherwise, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I made crab cakes with the last of the snap peas sauteed with scallions in lemon sauce and a radish and lettuce salad for dinner. Ran The Princess and the Pirate while I ate. Bob Hope's only vehicle for independent producer Samuel Goldwyn has him as Sebastian the Great, a cowardly actor who runs afoul of a nasty pirate, the Hook (Victor MacLaglan). He does manage to get off the Hook's ship with runaway Princess Margaret (Virginia Mayo), thanks to weird tattoo artist Featherhead (Walter Brennan). Now the two must flee the Hook and the corrupt governor (Walter Sleazak), who want a treasure map tattooed to Sylvester's chest! Lots of fun if you're a fan of Bob Hope or colorful swashbuckling comedies.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thank God It's a Busy Friday

I had a lot to get done today, starting with this week's volunteer session at the Oaklyn Library. While there wasn't really much to do with the DVDs, there were a few kids' books to shelve. I took a look at the kids' section to make sure that was organized as well.

Since I had a little extra time, I stopped at Common Grounds Coffee House for a much-needed "Iced Oaklyn Mocha" latte. After I gulped that, I hurried to America's Best. I've been putting off ordering my contacts. My membership expired, and I knew it would be expensive, but I didn't have a choice. I just got rid of my last pair.

Work was a little busier than yesterday, otherwise not bad. It was hot and sunny, but breezy and not quite as humid as earlier in the week. Other than my relief was late, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

My schedule is pretty much the same as last week. I still only have one day off, but a lot of short mid-day shifts will make up for that somewhat. This time, Tuesday is the day off and Friday is the extra-early day. Otherwise, nothing out of the ordinary for late spring.

I had a little more grocery shopping to do than last week, though still not a ton. Acme's having one of those "Mega Event" sales where you buy 6 of a wide selection of items and get three dollars off the lot. So many items are a part of the sale, even I was able to take part in it - I got tuna, Cinnamon Life, Acme's generic honey roasted peanuts, a bottle of Poland Sparkling Lemon Water, the generic 18-count eggs, and Jiff Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. I found a two-pack of crab cakes with a manager's coupon (I'll have them for dinner tomorrow) and restocked my cheap fish fillet packs. I've been seeing ants, especially in the kitchen - I picked up ant traps. Needed sugar, cooking spray, and bananas and had a coupon from the Monopoly game for the 25 oz Palmolive dish washing liquid.

Hit Tu Se Bella's in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center for dinner after I finished my shopping. Though they were busy, it didn't take too long to get my two slices of pizza and Diet Dr. Pepper. Yum. I had cheese and white broccoli-tomato. Yum. Tu Se Bella's makes the best pizza in this area. It's expensive (which, coupled with the traffic in the mall, is why I don't eat there more often), but's soooo good.

When I got home, I finished out a round of Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater while putting away my groceries. "K.T: The Kitty Terrestrial" is lost on Earth when her parents accidentally leave her behind after a picnic. A group of kids help her phone home and avoid scientists Catnip and Grinder. Hello Dorothy will need help from "The Wizard of Paws" and an unusual trio of friends to avoid the Wicked Witchie Catnip and get home to Catfish. Grinder's a big dog in bigger trouble in "Kitty and the Kong." Greedy Catnip takes him from a tropical island to New York City to be an attraction at Cattison Square Garden. Grinder would rather climb the Empire State Building with Kitty in his paws. Tuxedo Sam Skywalker has to save Princess Hello Kitty from Darth Catnip and get her home to Catern in "Cat Wars." Grinder is "Paws: The Great White Dog Shark," who has been eating everything wooden he can get his fangs on. Chip, Kitty, and Sam try to figure out what made him go bad.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Doing Time On Planet Mongo

Started off a steamy, sunny morning with some lesser-known Dr. Seuss. The title character of Pontofel Pock and His Magic Piano is a rather nerdy young man who was just fired from his job at a pickle factory. In despair, his home crumbling around him, he wishes to just get away from it all. A fairy hears his wish and gives him a flying piano that can take him anywhere. Trouble is, he's not any more careful with the piano than he was with his work in the factory. Suddenly, the fairies are asking
"Where in the world is Pontofel Pock?" as they search for him and he tries to get back to the "eyeball dancer" he's fallen for, Eefa Neefa.

I spent most of the morning working on my story. Victor had gone to Fort Pitt to get help, but he's captured on the way and brought to Captain Pavla DeVile's ship. She's going to sell Scott to Pruitt and turn Jeff and Victor over to the British in Boston. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and the remaining staff has rallied the guests at the Inn to help them rescue the men. They're on their way to the Weeping Joker Inn across Pittsburgh to get more help, namely C.J and the other Crimson Blade members who were imprisoned after the "Happy Homecomings" incidents.

Moved to another Dr. Seuss cartoon as I had a quick lunch and got ready for work. The Hoober Bloob Highway is a favorite of mine, and one of the strangest of the Dr. Seuss specials. Mr. Hoober Bloob is a "dispatcher" who sends children down to random lives on Earth. Before they're sent on the afore-mentioned orbital road, Mr. Hoober Bloob and his living mandolin show the baby all the things that make humans what they are, good and bad, and even give him ideas of other things he could be.

Work was, once again, dead for most of the afternoon. It's hot and humid, we're between major holidays, and the beginning of the month is next week. It did get cloudy at one point, but it never rained. It started picking up a little around 2 PM, but not enough that I wasn't able to shut down quickly without a relief when it was time for me to go.

When I got home, I cleaned the refrigerator. It wasn't quite as much of a chore as last year. There was no sticky ice tea spilled under the vegetable crisper this time. It didn't take me more than an hour or so. After I finished the fridge, I made scrambled eggs with spring vegetables for dinner.

Ran Flash Gordon as I worked. The 1981 version of the famous comic strips is a pretty accurate rendition, as far as I can tell. Football star Flash (Sam Jones), travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), and mad scientist Zarkov (Topol) find themselves on the planet Mongo, which is beset by warring factions and ruled by the evil dictator Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydrow). Prince Barron (Timothy Dalton) is jealous of Flash, who has attracted the attention of his lover Princess Arula (Ornella Muti). The king of the flying Vulcan warriors (Brian Blessed) just doesn't trust anyone. Flash fights to bring the people of Mongo together to fight Ming, save the Earth, and rescue his beloved Dale.

Campy fun if you're into comic book style movies. The set design and costumes in particular are an eyeful. Like Dick Tracy a decade later, they went full-on comic book here, with everything looking like a Technicolor 50's sci-fi extravaganza.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hooked On a Feeling

Started a hazy, sunny morning with the last of the wartime shorts. I went into live action this time with a couple of Three Stooges war tales. "Back to the Front" takes the guys to the open ocean as Merchant Mariners. When they accidentally blow up their ship, they end up sneaking aboard a Nazi submarine and stopping a foul plot. "Higher Than a Kite" has them working as mechanics who eventually hope to become pilots. They're really up in the air when they hide from an angry officer in a missile that's shot into enemy territory. They're "Dizzy Pilots" who want to create their own airplanes that'll revolutionize the flight business. When their schemes turn out to be full of hot air, they find themselves drafted into the Army.

I headed out around 11:30 for this week's errand and volunteering run. My first stop was Studio LuLoo. I'm glad I was able to get to them this week. I worked too early last Wednesday and Thursday to volunteer. They're in the midst of having their kids turn huge old water bottles into pigs covered in scraps of pink fabric. I cut bolts and strips of fabric in all shades of pink, and prints ranging from a sheer shell pink linen-like square to a long strip of pink polka-dots to a breast cancer-themed bolt.

Went to Friendly's for lunch. They were a little busy, though not quite as much as I expected at quarter after 1. I had a tasty Turkey BLT on sourdough bread, with very salty fries. Given how hot it was today (into the upper 80's), I thought ice cream was appropriate. I had one scoop of PB Hunka Chunka Fudge with hot fudge syrup. Soo yummy! I needed chocolate and peanut butter, not to mention something to cool off.

I needed sponges at a surprisingly dead quiet Dollar Tree after lunch. I picked up the generic dollar store apple and strawberry bars, too. Fig Newtons are my go-to summer cookie when I need something sweet, but it's too hot to bake.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't any busier. In fact, there really wasn't much to do there. There were no kids DVDs to shelve, and only a few adult titles and one audio book. I did sort out the adult titles and pull foreign and kids' DVDs that were put in the wrong places, but that didn't take that long. I headed out after a half-hour, stopping at WaWa on the way home for milk and a Sparkling Ice Coconut-Pineapple soda.

The clouds were starting to build when I finally got in. I spent the next few hours writing. Victor asks Maple why she's so loyal to Scott, even though they don't have a romantic relationship anymore. She explains that Scott had helped her escape thugs who wanted to hurt her right after she'd arrived in the New World. He taught her how to fight with swords, ride a horse, and work on a ship. Victor won't admit he's a little jealous of how close she is to Scott...

I got off around 5 to clean the kitchen. It really needed it. The carpenter ants have been really bad this year...and I now know where at least some of them are coming from. The ivy and several of the bushes around the front of the house are dead or close to it. I saw Michael digging up the ivy today. Turns out the bricked-in front box where the ivy was is riddled with ants and termites. Wouldn't surprise me if they'd gotten around back, too.

Finally got around to running Guardians of the Galaxy while doing the kitchen and having leftovers for dinner. I bought this as a birthday present to myself, but it's a two-hour stretch, and I haven't had the time for it until now. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a bounty hunter who steals an orb that turns out to have awe-inspiring power. He runs into four other hunters who are also either after him, the orb, or want to sell it - Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a sarcastic raccoon and his buddy Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree that can only say his own name, the emerald-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and the revenge-minded Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). The five bond after they escape prison together. They track down the space pirates who raised Quill and have the orb...but Ronan, the evil zealot who wants the orb for his own purposes, also tracks them down. Now, the five very different misfits have  to save the universe and show the entire galaxy what a little bit of teamwork, friendship, and rock n' roll can do.

No wonder this was the biggest hit of last summer. This is one of the most fun sci-fi movies I've seen since I was a kid. Someone really had a blast putting this together. The characters are creative and funny (especially Cooper's temperamental Rocket), the Flash Gordon backgrounds are amazing, and the whole thing just reeks pure comic-book lunacy. If you love science fiction, comic books, or are just looking for a good, solid action picture that's just a little different, you'll find this to be as much fun as I did. (Extra points for the 60's-70's soundtrack. Any sci-fi movie that makes ample use of "Hooked On a Feeling" and "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" definitely goes up in my estimate.)

And I'm glad I got home when I did. It started raining while I was writing and has rained off and on for the rest of the night. Looks like it'll do the same tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

You've Got to Have Pirate-It-Tude

Started out today with my only early work shift this week. Between a sunny, hot day and this being the day after a major holiday, it was slow as a sloth for most of the morning and early afternoon. By the time it started picking up a little, I was on my way out. It was probably just as well. I'm still not used to these morning work days and was pretty tired.

I went straight home. When I got in, I worked on my story for a while. Lady Hilary Booth has just told her husband Jeffrey that she's married to another man...namely, Scott Sherwood. The marriage was one of convenience - Hilary just wanted to make Jeff jealous.

Captain Pavla turns up, gloating that she is keeping Scott prisoner for Pruitt at her ship. Desperate to get out of his marriage contract and get Scott to end his and Hilary's, Jeff agrees to give Pavla roles in the show in exchange for Scott and the marriage contract. Not the smartest idea, since it turns out to be a trap.

Mackie, Hilary, Maple, and Lester are worried about Jeff and Scott and are wondering what to do next next when Victor Comstock troops downstairs with the remaining staff members, including Betty. They've figured out what's going on and want to help. Cribby comes with them. He intends to use the money he got for capturing the Crimson Blade to take Pavla for a ride...but even he doesn't approve of what Pruitt intends to do to the dashing criminal. (I also re-wrote a bit of Scott's back history to make it sound slightly less melodramatic.)

Next up, while the others go to O'Malley's Bar to try to find C.J and the Crimson Blade's men, Victor will be going to Fort Pitt to round up the military...but he won't make it there, thanks to the Governor's guards and Pavla's pirates. Pavla knows the British would love to get their hands on "Johnathan Arnold" and the information he obtained in Boston.

After I got tired of sitting, I decided to get a jump on spring cleaning. I have to get the house spotless before Lauren visits in two weeks. I started with the bathroom. It was disgusting. There were telltale dark spots appearing on the shower tiles. I scrubbed them, and all of the tiles in the bathroom. The sink is starting to run slow again; I'll need to get more drain cleaner.

Ran The Black Swan as I cleaned, and later while I made chicken cheeseburgers, lettuce, and steamed snap peas for dinner. Tyrone Power is the dashing Captain Jamie Loring, a former buccaneer who now seeks out the Spanish for Governor Henry Morgan. Jamie falls for the lovely Margaret Denby (Maureen O'Hara), the daughter of the former governor. Her fiancee is conspiring with Morgan's enemies to get him out of Jamaica. Jamie kidnaps Margaret and seems to turn traitor and join the drunkard pirate Leech (George Sanders), but he really intends to lead him to Morgan. Meanwhile, Margaret tries to resist Jamie, but when he calls her his wife to explain why he left Jamaica, she begins to reconsider her feelings.

A wonderful bit of Technicolor pirate malarkey that's lots of fun to watch; look for George Sanders playing against type as the brutish Leech.

Finished out the night with a pirate-related episode of The Backyardigans. Austin plays Tyrone Power for Uniqua and Pablo in "Pirate Camp." He tries to teach the two to do most of the things Power did in The Black Swan, but Pablo in particular is nervous and keeps getting easily distracted by a certain red boot. That red boot belongs to the ghost of Captain Red Boot (Tasha), who'll tickle anyone who wears her boot until they turn into a ghost! When the boot gets stuck on Austin's foot, his campers show off what they've learned in order to rescue him.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day With Family

First of all, I salute all those who have fought and died for our country on this Memorial Day.

Second, I began a hot, sunny Memorial Day with more wartime shorts. Donald Duck appeared in more war-related cartoons than any Disney character during World War II, including Disney's most famous short of that era, the Oscar-winning "Der Fuehrer's Face." Donald's nightmare takes him into a surreal Nazi Germany, working outrageous hours making bombs. Things get crazy during the end when Donald starts to crack from the stress!

Most of Donald's other World War II adventures were far less dire. "Donald Gets Drafted" kicks off the series with Donald finding himself dealing with grouchy Sargent Pete and a pile of ants who make standing at arms very difficult! Donald's "The Vanishing Private" when he discovers an invisibility paint and uses it to get back at Pete. Poor Donald can't get any sleep after a long hike, thanks to a stubborn tent and his noisy troop, in "Fall Out, Fall In." "Home Defense" has Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie working as civilian air craft spotters. Donald takes the boys' stripes away when they play a prank on him. He's quick to forgive when he thinks there's an invasion. "Commando Duck" takes Donald behind enemy lines to, wash out the Japanese (and encounter a few obvious stereotypes).

Work was, as you can imagine, very busy all afternoon. It's a holiday and a Monday. I'm still kind of tired and wasn't always up to dealing with all the fussing. Other than that, there were no major problems, and my relief was right on time.

I hurried straight home. Holiday or no holiday, I had laundry that really couldn't be put off. I needed clean work clothes. Thankfully, it wasn't busy when I arrived, and I didn't have a big load anyway. I was able to get everything done quickly as I read and ignored Dr. Phil and his silly patients.

Headed to Dad's as soon as I put the laundry away. I ran three more shorts as I got organized. "First Aiders" has Minnie Mouse using Pluto to practice her nursing skills. Pluto would be happier about it if Figaro didn't keep teasing him and chasing him. The Pink Panther becomes one of the few major cartoon characters to enter the Vietnam War in "G.I Pink." Between land mines, cranky officers, and crazy obstacle courses, he'll be lucky to make it out of basic training alive! Mickey Mouse is having similar problems in his late 20's vehicle "The Barnyard Battle." World War I has come to the barnyard. Mickey may seem skinny, but he has no problems giving those Hun cats the what-for.

Jodie said she was putting steaks on the grill tonight. This time, it was just her, me, Dad, Craig, Rose, and Khai. Khai spent most of the time in the pool again. He and his mother tossed a translucent plastic ball filled with glittery Mylar shreds into the pool, then raced each other to see who could get it first. I stuck my feet in and laughed when I'd get splashed by their racing around. They were both so funny! When I pulled them out, Rose helped Khai work on his swimming in his froggy float.

We had dinner a little later this time, around 6:30. In addition to the steaks and more macaroni salad, Jodie put out a cucumber salad made with sour cream. It was surprisingly tasty, given I'm not a fan of sour cream. The steaks were delicious too, cooked just right. We had mini-cupcakes from the Acme for dessert. Khai was just going out to chase the Mr. Softee van when I was heading home.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Beautiful Day for a Barbecue

I began today with some rousing American music for Memorial Day Weekend, Disney style. Yankee Doodle Mickey is a collection of various patriotic music performed by the Disneyland Chorus, the Disney Characters, and a very young Molly Ringwauld. Some of the numbers are kind of fun. I like "The Liberty Tree" for the chorus, Ringwauld's exuberant "This Is My Country," and the medley devoted to different branches of the Armed Services. Mickey covers the Air Force and the Marines, Goofy gets the Army, and Donald naturally sings for the Navy.

As you can imagine, work was crazy for most of the afternoon. A beautiful (if somewhat warmer) day coupled with this being a Sunday and the day before a major holiday added up to very long lines. There were a lot of people who were in a hurry, and rather obnoxious about it, too. I wish people would learn to have some patience. I was grateful when it slowed down enough by 4 PM for me to leave without a relief.

Jodie came through my line early in the afternoon and told me she and Dad were having a barbecue. Sounded good to me. I was too tired to cook by that point, anyway. I went home, got changed, and went back on the bike to Dad and Jodie's.

There was actually a pretty decent crowd at their house when I arrived. Dad just opened the pool last week. Khai already had to go swimming, despite it being too cold for most people...and Rose had to go in with him. They'd just gotten out. I did stick my legs in, but...brrr! It was chilly. My feet were still cold for ages afterwards.

I wandered between groups. I built Lego houses and buildings with Khai and Rose. I received congradulations for my being employee of the month from Jodie's relatives. I talked to T.J (he's recovered physically, but he still has trouble remembering what happened), Jesse, and Dana. I watched Romancing the Stone with Dad, Jessa, and Joe.

We had a delicious dinner. Jodie made the buy one, get two ribs from the Acme. They were as tender as ever. We had grilled asparagus with garlic, potato salad, macaroni salad, and Caeser salad. I had everything but the potato salad. (I've never been a fan of potato salad.) We had a strawberry torte with a flag design on the top for dessert. I headed home around quarter of 7, when I'd finally gotten bored and too tired to hang around.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Clean Weekend

Started an absolutely gorgeous morning with breakfast and Popeye wartime shorts. Popeye was another cartoon character who entered the services even before the war began, in "The Might Navy." (It's pretty easy to tell this short was made before Pearl Harbor - the enemy isn't named.) Though a lot of Popeye's shorts still revolved around him and Bluto chasing Olive, like "Kicking the Conga Around," he did see some fighting. "Blunder Below" has him thrown into the boiler room after he makes a mess of gun training. He's the one who finally takes down a submarine. "Fleets of Stren'th" is more or less the same idea, this time done as air battles. He and Bluto discover that "Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix" when Olive's visit to their ship ends up wrecking havoc.

Work was very busy for most of the afternoon. Between the holiday and the beautiful weather, people were coming out in droves, shopping for parties and barbecues. Thankfully, my relief was right on time.

When I got home, I put on old clothes, then decided it was time I did something I put off for weeks. First of all, I swept the remaining fuzzies and sticks off the side of the porch I could get to. Then, I brought out buckets of water and scrubbed the porch chairs, the trash can, and the recycling canisters. At least, I washed the porch furniture as best I could. They're so old and dirty, they're kind of beyond scrubbing by now. The trash can didn't smell much better, but at least it's clean.

When I got in, I had leftover Chicken Vegetable Soup while watching the remaining Popeye shorts. The Fleischer Brothers finally lost their studio to Paramount in 1942. Paramount reopened them as Famous Studios and continued with most of their properties, including Popeye. Unfortunately, a lot of the Popeye shorts from this era are kind of hard to watch, thanks to heavy racial caricatures. I skipped to "Spinach Fer Britain," which has Popeye battling the Nazis to get food to England. Popeye has "A Hull of a Mess" when Bluto continuously sabotages his efforts to build a ship and get it out as quickly as possible.

Switched to the Looney Tunes as I made Blueberry Muffins. "Super Rabbit" has fun with Superman as Bugs fights a cowboy and his horse out west with superpowered carrots. Daffy does everything possible - and not possible - to dodge the persistent Little Man From the Draft Board in "Draftee Daffy." "Falling Hare" is one of the few cartoons where Bugs deals with an antagonist who gives as good as they get as he tries to keep a clever gremlin from sabotaging a plane.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In the Spring Sunshine

Started a beautiful, sunny day with more wartime shorts. Despite his popularity during World War II, Woody Woodpecker only did one war-themed cartoon, "Ace In the Hole." Woody wants to be a pilot, but he ends up shaving horses instead. His sergeant isn't that happy when he does finally get in the air!

Walter Lanz had more luck with non-character war-themed shorts. Woody (and Andy Panda) did have cameos in the musical short "$21 A Day (Once A Month)," on toys in the peacetime draft. "Hysterical Highspots In American History" spoofs the history of the US up to 1940, with jokes about Columbus discovering a movie theater and two spinsters who want men in uniform from any era. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" depicts what happens in an African-American pre-war Army corps when their new bugler turns out to be a former jazz trumpeter. (The stereotypes fly fast and furious in this one, but there's a really swinging version of the title song, and this is one of the few cartoons I've ever seen that showed minorities in the military.) "Pigeon Patrol" is sort of an avian version of "The Draft Horse" with a happier ending. Country bumpkin Homer is too scrawny to be a carrier pigeon. He gets his big chance when he has to help a downed bird get his message across enemy lines.

Work was on-and-off busy all day, pretty much the same it's been all week. I did get a check at the door. One of the managers told me I got a 4 on a survey. I wish I knew who did that, so I could apologize for upsetting them. I don't want to cause any trouble with anyone.

My schedule next week is very, very busy. In annoying news, only one day off (Wednesday) and an early day on Tuesday. I don't have Memorial Day off, but it's only 11 to 3, which could be a lot worse. Otherwise, nothing later than 6.

I didn't need to do a lot of grocery shopping, either. It was mostly just some restocking - brown sugar, bananas, milk, cereal (Quaker cereals are on a $1.88 sale - went with Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares). I grabbed organic canned diced tomatoes and one more of those Spring Velvets cake mixes off the clearance rack. My cake fell apart last night - I decided to cover it with Cool Whip. Blueberries and cherries were on good Memorial Day Weekend sales.

When I got home, I had leftover salmon, lettuce, and steamed snap peas for dinner while watching another first season Wonder Woman episode. "Wonder Woman In Hollywood" takes Diana Price to the heart of Tinseltown, where Steve Trevor is working on a movie about the exploits of four heroic officers to boost morale. That tinsel loses its shine quickly when the officers start disappearing, and Diana's teenage sister Drusilla discovers that one of them isn't as brave as he claims. Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl have to race against time to keep the Nazis from getting the officers out of the country.

It was such a gorgeous day, I decided to go for a walk to WaWa. I wanted a treat, and I needed to use the ATM machine. Everything is in full bloom here now. The trees are full and fat and green. Irises, azaleas, roses, pansies, and carnations brighten every garden. The pollen wave that's been such a pain has finally begun to subside, helped by the recent wet weather. It couldn't have been more than the upper 60's-lower 70's. It was windy, and the wind was chilly, but the warm air felt nice.

WaWa was hectic with people coming home from work when I came in. I got my money and ordered a Peach Cream Smoothie. Oh, yum yum. Sweet and peachy. It hit the spot. I wanted something a little lighter than all the chocolate I've been eating lately. I strolled home down Manor Ave, watching the kids chase each other and ride their bikes, and people walk their dogs and their children.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Writing In the Rain

I awoke to a damp, gray morning. It didn't get much better throughout the day. It was just starting to rain when I was riding to work around 11. Work was on-and-off busy, pretty much the same as yesterday...with the same occasionally cranky customers. I was happy when one of the college kids came in for me and I was able to get out right on time.

The rain was coming down in a steady shower when I got out of work. I didn't want to wait around, and I have no idea who I would call for a ride anymore. I just rode home and got wet. I did take the shorter way home, road repairs be darned. This was no day for a pleasure ride or for dealing with rush hour traffic.

Started work on my story as soon as I got in. I'm basically crossing "And If I Die Before I Sleep" with "At Cross Purposes." Cribby Menlow shows up late on the second day of the multi-day play the Inn is putting on. Jeff is awake enough to switch costumes with Hilary...which works about as well as can be expected. Eugenia claims she and Mr. Foley are Jeff and Hilary! Cribby accidentally drinks some of the drugged tea and is now sleeping it off. While the others try to figure out how to get rid of him, Victor Comstock and an ailing Maple Martienne arrive to find thugs turning their audience away and a certain female pirate plotting even more mischief...including delivering the Crimson Blade to Cribby and their employer...

Ran wartime shorts during the morning and while I had leftover chicken and vegetable soup for dinner. Some of my favorite Warner Bros World War II-era shorts were one-off revues like "Wacky Blackout" (on home front life in the country) and "The Weakly Reporter" (same idea, but this time, it's home front life in the city and in color). "The Duckinators" uses barnyard fowl to show how the Axis took over Europe and Asia, and how the US finally stepped in. "Hollywood Canine Canteen" spoofs the hang-outs for servicemen run by celebrities, with dog caricatures of famous movie and radio stars of the era. A scrawny plow horse wants to become "The Draft Horse," but the Army turns him down. He learns how scary war can be when he lands right in the middle of a training area!

Switched to the Paramount Superman shorts while making that Spring Velvets Cake mix. Superheroes were all the rage during World War II, and none moreso than the one who inspired most of them. My favorite Superman wartime short is the shadowy "The Eleventh Hour." Superman is doing his best to sabotage every bit of war equipment in Japan. The Japanese threaten to execute Lois Lane if Superman doesn't end his campaign. "Jungle Drums" has Lois almost being burned at the stake by (stereotyped) African natives and Nazis who want a certain paper she has. Superman has to rescue a "Secret Agent" who needs to bring special papers to Washington.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Florida Girl On a Sunny Day

First of all, American Girl officially announced their newest historical character this week. Meet Maryellen Larkin, a 9-year-old living in Florida in 1954. Apparently, she wants to do something that'll make her stand out, no easy feat in a large family or an era that encourages conformity. She also dreams of a white Christmas, despite being a Florida gal. I can't wait! I'm not interested in the doll itself - I already have a red-head in my collection (Felicity) - but I'd love to get her wardrobe for my designated mid-20th-century AG Whitney, and her books sound like a lot of fun.

 Maryellen Larkin! (And thanks to the AG doll blog Lissie&Lilly for the good news!) 

My early work shift was on-and-off busy. There were some cranky people, and a few who wouldn't help bag. Otherwise, it was pretty normal for a lovely day in mid-May. Another college boy did have to come in for me so I could get out on time - the one scheduled to come in for me was late.

When I got home, I spent an hour or so doing some work on my fanfiction. The play continues, but there's still treachery afoot. The man who is supposedly there to make sure the play goes as planned is really working for someone else...someone else who is after the Inn and its residents. Then another little fellow turns up, determined to serve papers to Hilary and Jeff and to find the Crimson Blade for his employer...

It was too nice to be inside all evening. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. It was barely in the 70's, with a cool breeze and no humidity whatsoever. I stopped at WaWa for money, a pretzel, and a drink, then dodged the dinner rush hour traffic on the White Horse Pike and Cuthbert Road on my way to the Westmont Farm Market.

The Westmont Farm Market is held on the corner of Haddon Avenue and Stratford Avenue, across from Primo's Water Ice. It's only one block and lacks Collingswood's variety and selection, especially this early in the season. They were mostly food booths or selling flowers and herbs. Still, they were packed to the gills at quarter of 6. While I didn't see carrots or mushrooms, I did pick up some unusual organic red scallions and the first strawberries and snap peas of the year. I had a crab cake sandwich from the Cape May Crab Cake Company truck for dinner. Cape May crab cakes are baked or cooked in a pan rather than fried, they're not breaded, and they don't have bread crumbs in them. My crab cake was huge, soft, a little messy, and absolutely amazing. I haven't had a real crab cake in ages.

Went straight home after I left, this time cutting across Collingswood to avoid the traffic on Cuthbert. I had some peas and strawberries as soon as I got in. Oh wow. The strawberries are incredible. I've never had such sweet, succulent strawberries. The peas are so crisp and fresh.

Ran a quick Three Stooges short as I got organized. They're saying "Wee Wee Monsieur" when they inadvertently join the Foreign Legion to escape their landlord. They get into trouble when their captain is kidnapped by a scheming sultan on their watch. Now they have to figure out how to get their captain away, without ending up in front of a firing squad!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

All Not Quiet On the Oaklyn Front

It was surprisingly chilly and rather gray and dull when I got up this morning. I finished My Sister Eileen as I ate breakfast. Ruth Sherwood (Betty Garrett) and her sister Eileen (Janet Leigh) arrive at Grenwich Village in the Big Apple, ready to become a writer and an actress respectively. Absolutely nothing goes as they planned. The apartment they ultimately end up renting from a shady painter (Kurt Kaznar) is underground, facing a busy street, and is falling apart. Their neighbors, including a football player (Dick York), visit whenever they feel like it. The magazine editor who sent Ruth encouraging letters about her work (Jack Lemmon) thinks she's a loose woman. Eileen is pursued by two young men (Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall), but refuses to take roles from producers who are only interested in her looks. And then there's the time the entire Brazilian Navy ends up doing a conga line through their apartment....

This is one of the cutest musicals I've ever seen. It's surprisingly intimate and sweet for a large-scale 50's musical. Leigh is far more at ease here than she was in Bye, Bye Birdie. I wish Fosse appeared in front of the camera more often. He has two really nifty dance routines, one a show-off duel with Rall, the other a lovely duet with Leigh in the courtyard of their apartment complex. Garrett's a blast as the older sister whose wit covers up a heart that can't believe a guy could be interested in her and not Eileen. And who knew the original Darrin from Bewitched could make such a funny big lug type? If you're a fan of the cast, want to see some early Bob Fosse choreography, or like your musicals on the smaller and more sitcom-y side, this one is on DVD and is a treat to watch.

I headed out for today's errand run around 10:30. My first stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library. Two men were putting in new windows, but otherwise, there wasn't much going on there. I organized DVDs and some books in the kids' area. I was out again around quarter after 11.

I had counseling today. I took my time, going the long way down Hood Avenue to Crystal Lake Road, and then down Park Avenue past the apartment buildings. I had lunch at the Bistro. I came just in time to order off their breakfast menu again. My "New Yorker" egg wrap was delicious - a whole wheat tortilla with scrambled eggs, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, ham, and bacon. It was busier outside than in, maybe because there was still a nice breeze at that point, but I'd just gotten off the bike and was sweating to death. I ate inside, with the older couples and families.

I had a half-hour to kill before counseling, so I explored a few stores. The most surprising find was their temporary library set up in a storefront. I forgot the Haddonfield Library is in the midst of a major remodeling project right now. I briefly explored the children's paperback selection I saw in the window before moving on to Happy Hippo Toys.

Arrived at counseling five minutes early, just enough time to rest my eyes. I told her about my mostly delightful month - my vacation, the Employee of the Month gift card, my writing, my good mood, my visit with Rose and her family on Khai's birthday, the fact that Dad seems to be recovering well from his throat surgery, Mom's raise. Despite the gift card, I feel like I'm at an impasse at work. Like I wrote here, I really don't think they know what to do with someone who is shy and quiet and likes to do her own thing. I want to stock shelves - or at least move on and do something besides stand in a cash register - but I'm very, very afraid. It's hard for me to talk to people in authority. I know I should get over that childhood feeling that being sent to the office of any kind of authority means you're in trouble,'s not that easy.

She wants me to practice saying something to my boss with anything at home - my dolls, the stuffed animals, whatever. We'll see.

By the time I got out of counseling, the sun had come out...and the head and humidity came with it. It was hot and muggy, and the breeze was mostly gone. Not to mention, the kids were getting out of school, and the traffic was starting to pick up a bit. I did have an Oreo Dough water ice at Primo's (not pretty, but very sweet, with lots of big, soft Oreo pieces) and took a brief look at Walgreens' for a cloth laundry bag. They didn't have any; settled on a generic Pomegranate-Berry sparkling water for the ride home.

I was tired when I got in. All I wanted to do was spend the rest of the afternoon writing my story. The night before Elizabeth's epic play is to go on, she receives a visit from The Crimson Blade. He tells her about Crawley's treachery and that someone will be trying to sabotage the play and make sure that the Monongahela Inn doesn't get that publicity. She wonders why he won't let her know who he is; he explains that he's worried about her getting hurt and wants to protect her.

I got up for a stretch and dinner around 5. Finished out New Moon while I ate leftover salmon and the last of the bok choy sauteed with onions and mushrooms for dinner. The second of two Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy vehicles with a colonial New Orleans setting makes him a disgraced duke who has fled France as a bond servant. She's the aristocrat who buys him. They seem to have feelings for each other, until she discovers his deception and that he plans to free his fellow bondsmen and capture a boat with arms. She leaves on a ship filled with brides intended for farmers. The bondsmen raid the ship. A storm finally strands the entire group on a deserted island, forcing them to reconsider their feelings for each other after they agree to a marriage of convenience

This was the last MacDonald/Eddy vehicle to make any kind of money at the box office. While it does come off as an imitation Naughty Marietta at times, it has enough of its own twists and turns - including the hilarious wedding ceremony - to make it worth seeing. All the heroics must have put some spirit into Eddy's blood. This is one of his few movies where he looks like he's having a good time.

I'd been putting off watching the final two episodes of Remember WENN for weeks now. Not because "At Cross Purposes" and "All Noisy On the Pittsburgh Front" are bad episodes. Far from it. They're two of the best episodes of the fourth season. I just can't stand to see the show end at all, especially the way it did. "Cross Purposes," as you can guess from the title, is the show's cross-dressing episode. It starts with Jeff in costume for Charley's Aunt, but ends up with most of the cast in drag as they try to avoid a particularly pesky process server who wants to give Jeff his papers from Pavla and may have ties to Scott and Maple, too.

"All Noisy" starts a few days after Pearl Harbor. Most of the men in the cast try to enlist...but the only one who really can is Scott. He and Victor finally get Betty against the wall about which of them she loves more. Eugenia asks Mr. Foley to marry her. Jeff spends the episode proposing to Hilary, only to have her claim she's married to someone else!

And that' AMC canceled the show a few weeks after "All Noisy" premiered. Though WENN's writer and creator Rupert Holmes did later admit how he would have ended it, we never got any official resolution. AMC turned deaf ears on all entreaties to return it to the air (including mine), and they steadfastly refuse to release it on DVD or even acknowledge its existence to this day. For them, their first real show was Mad Men. No, just their first major success. Never mind the irony that they supposedly canceled WENN because it didn't fit the hipper, more ironic image the new regime wanted for AMC. And of course, what's their first huge hit? A historic drama set 20 years after WENN.

The entire fiasco really broke my heart. I'd never had a show pulled out from under me like that before. It's one of the big reasons I steadfastly refuse to get involved in fandoms for any recent TV shows. I don't think I could handle another show I adore taken away the way WENN was. It's also one of the big reasons I gave up any ideas I had of working in TV. I don't want to work around people who can't appreciate good shows like WENN, or even Mad Men, not to mention pull scams Scott Sherwood wouldn't approve of to get them off the air in the name of some silly "image."

Something I've really been thinking of lately - I can't help but wonder if WENN would have done much better in today's TV world than in the late 90's. Audiences are generally more appreciative today of good writing and interesting characters in historical settings than they were in 1996. Friends and Seinfeld were the most popular comedy shows then, and while critical favorites like Fraiser and Newsradio had their fans, most sitcoms tended to be imitations of the above two shows or the same stale family formulas that had been turning up since my childhood.

The Internet was only just becoming a threat when WENN's cancellation was announced. Fans did discuss various cable channels that might be persuaded to finish the show, but nothing came of it. Nowadays, social media has proved a far more effective way for fans to get their opinions across than e-mail and letter-writing campaigns, and many internet outlets have taken over niche shows that had enough fans to be at least somewhat popular...but not with the networks, or even cable.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Adventures In Washington and the West

It was still hot and muggy when I got up this morning. I enjoyed the air conditioning while watching more swashbuckling Get Smart. James Caan is the special guest villain Rupert of Rathskellar in the fourth season two-parter "From Sire With Love." Max's double, the King of Coronia, has come to the US to sell a diamond scepter that's a priceless heirloom. Rupert and the people he works for would do anything to get their hands on it. Max has to protect the king and the scepter, or at least remember where the scepter is. Meanwhile, 99 keeps mixing up Max and the king, and Max is getting awfully jealous. He poses as the king to test 99's love.

(And I have to give Max some credit - for a man who's clumsy at just about everything else, he's one heck of a swordsman!)

Headed out to get the laundry done around quarter of 11. Thank goodness it was a little busy but nothing like last Monday afternoon. I spent a pleasant hour reading Wings of the Falcon and listening to The Price Is Right and the local news.

When I got home, I ran an episode of F-Troop while putting everything away. Get Smart was hardly the only genre satire to hit the airwaves in the 60's. F-Troop usually had fun with western cliches, but "The Singing Mountie" from the second season takes the jokes further north. The titular Canadian law enforcer (Paul Lynde) comes to the fort to track down a French Canadian trapper who is a cousin of Commander Argorn (Larry Storch in a double role). The trapper, however, is innocent...and the Singing Mountie may not be whom he claims to be.

Headed to Amato Bros on the White Horse Pike for lunch. I saw Dad come in as I was eating my Bruschetta Di Parma hoagie (i.e, prosciutto,  fresh mozzarella, romaine lettuce, and diced tomatoes). He had some rather scary news - Jodie's oldest son T.J was mugged on his way home in South Philly. Jodie was in the hospital with him - Dad was picking up a hoagie for lunch on his way there. He wrote me that T.J was in intensive care, but he was recovering well and even regaining his memory. Wow. I know T.J lives in South Philly, but I never heard of anything like this happening to someone in the family.

I was still a little unnerved when I wound my way around the tail end of the lunch traffic to Westmont. I did a few quick errands while I was there. Dollar Tree still doesn't have non-mesh laundry bags, and I couldn't find any at Tuesday Morning, either. (And Tuesday Morning still doesn't have any Ever After High dolls I haven't seen.)

I had a far easier time at the Haddon Township Library than I did last week. In fact, they were surprisingly quiet for a hot day. I shelved as many of the DVDs as I could (the kids' section wasn't nearly as overloaded as usual - there were only a few S titles I couldn't get on), put away the two audio books, shelved new releases, and looked over the non-fiction DVDs to make sure they were all in place.

After a quick stop at WaWa for a Classic Lemonade Sparkling Ice soda, I spent the rest of the very hot and humid afternoon at home. It had been threatening rain on and off. It hasn't stormed yet at press time, but I didn't want to take chances. I worked on my story for the next few hours.

Elizabeth is frustrated. Sure, Victor's home, but he's been paying more attention to what's going on with the colonies and the upcoming Revolutionary War than to her or the Inn. Meanwhile, she doesn't know what to think of Scott, who's been disappearing again. Victor comes up with the idea to let the staff perform Elizabeth's enormous epic play for the next two and a half days. It'll break records and bring tons of publicity to the Inn. Scott, however, discovers that there's someone who doesn't want the play to succeed...and who is aligned with people who are determined to get the Inn away from it's new owner and find and capture the two Crimson Blades.

I stopped around 5:30 to have leftovers for dinner. I started My Sister Eileen, but didn't finish it before I went online or hit the shower. I'll have a full report on this very fun musical tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Taking Notes

Ugh. It was so darn humid when I got up this morning. I turned on the air conditioning and put on the two records I bought yesterday. Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter That Would Not End was especially intriguing. The record itself was a picture disc, a record with drawings etched onto it. The illustrations were the lovely color sketches that came directly from the book. The story of how Strawberry and her friends pursued a grumpy badger who stole the Snow Crystal to keep spring from coming was a favorite of my sisters and me in the early and mid 80's.

I'm glad I found The Muppet Movie soundtrack. I actually had a cassette version of this in the early 90's, but I got rid of that ages ago. "The Rainbow Connection" and "Can You Picture That?" are my favorites of the vocal numbers. I actually wish they'd included more score - I do love that jazzy instrumental version of "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" on side 2.

Work was busy for a lot of the day. I was once again listed as a bagger. I spent the first half-hour or so helping other baggers round up carts. That didn't last long. The lines got so long, I ended up spending the rest of the day behind a counter. Thankfully, it did slow down enough by 3:30 that I was able to shut down with no relief and no need for one.

I was originally either going to take a nap when I got home or go for a walk. Though it was sunny and not that hot, it was still really, really humid. It rained earlier, but it didn't look like it was going to rain anytime soon. Still, better safe than sorry. I spent the rest of the evening inside, adding more notes for my story to the notebook I bought on Thursday. I had 12 small no sale papers of notes sitting on my desk after I got home from work! It was time to get them organized. It took me more than two hours to get it all written down.

Finally made the salmon fillets with garlic and pepper I bought on Friday for dinner. Oooh, yum yum. I cooked it in a sauce made of water, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and home-made chicken stock. Added steamed asparagus and a lettuce salad for a delicious spring evening meal

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Before the Storm

Started the morning with more Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater. Tuxedo Sam is "Robin Penguin," who brings Hello Kitty and Chip to Never Say Never Land to rescue Melody-Bell and fight the evil Captain Catnip. Chip's in the spotlight in "Paws of the Round Table." He's Arthur, the young boy who pulls the sword from the stone. Catnip LeFay wants to get the sword away from him. Sir Lancelot (Sam) and the Lady of the Lake (Hello Kitty) aid him on his journey to find Lady Bunnyvere. Tuxedo Sam is "Tar-Sam of the Jungle," a penguin who seems to be the odd one out among apes. He learns just how important he is to his adopted family when he and Hello Kitty Jane rescue his ape mothers from poachers Catnip and Grinder.

Work was steady to very busy for most of the afternoon. There were some fairly grumpy or obnoxious customers, including some older women who fussed over bagging. A lot of people are getting ready for Memorial Day Weekend next week or for college graduations. Thankfully, my relief was right on time, and I was able to get out with no problems.

I took Nicholson Road home. When I got in, I finished the Furry Tale Theater disc while changing and making a pit stop. Tuxedo Sam gets the lead role again in "Crocodile Penguin," a spoof of the popular 80's action comedy Crocodile Dundee. Sam is a laid-back wrestler in Australia who is invited to wrestle Hulk Alligator (Grinder), the world champion, by his crooked manager (Catnip). "Grinder Genie and the Magic Lamp" takes us to Arabia, where Grandpa Kitty is up to his whiskers in Sutana Catnip's taxes. When Hello Kitty and Tuxedo Sam find a magic lamp with a certain bulldog genie inside, they think they've found the solution to their financial troubles. But Grinder isn't very good at granting wishes...

My back was sore from spending the last two or three weeks sitting behind a computer, and I was bored. I decided to go for a bike ride, before Mother Nature unleashed her full fury. When I headed out around quarter after 3, it was still sunny, hazy, and humid. I stopped at Cabana's Water Ice in Haddon Heights for something cold. I wasn't the only one. I waited in line with families and couples who wanted to cool off, too. One family had an adorable little daughter who wanted to know everything about my bike and why I was out riding it. She was a real cutie. I enjoyed fielding her questions as I ate my peanut butter cup ice cream. (Which wasn't very good. Not nearly enough peanut butter cup.)

I ended up in Barrington. I haven't visited their Antique Center in ages. The Barrington Antique Center is an enormous barn of a building filled with just about every used and/or vintage item you can imagine. I saw a Julie American Girl doll, and while 85 dollars is cheaper than the used dolls I saw there last year, it's still more than I can afford to pay for a doll right now - plus the last thing I probably need is more AG dolls. I ended up with a cute stuffed donkey I named Hee Haw and two records, the soundtrack from The Muppet Movie and an audio version of the 80's Strawberry Shortcake picture book Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter That Would Not End. (The Strawberry Shortcake record was still in its original plastic!) The records were 5 dollars each. That's probably a little high, but I rarely find children's records, especially in good condition.

Headed straight home around quarter of 5, dodging the rush-hour traffic on the White Horse Pike. When I got in, I went straight in the bath. I badly needed a bath. The relaxing felt good. I was able to kick back with my cake decorating magazines and jazz CDs and enjoy the quiet.

Ran some random cartoons from my dubbed discs when I got out of the bath as I ate leftover soup for dinner. Felix the Cat made a brief comeback in 1936 color cartoons from RKO's Van Beuren Studio. While "Nautical Nonsense" is only ok, "Bold King Cole" and "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg" are odd but enjoyable fairy tales. "Astronomeous" goes further back to the silent era Felix. Felix travels to the moon, where he discovers a king who doesn't quite understand what he is...until he saves him from a falling star.

And, after weeks of it getting humid, only to not do anything, we finally had a brief thunderstorm about a half-hour ago or so. I actually hope we'll get more. We really, really need the rain rather badly.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The End of the Guardians

Once again began a sunny day with breakfast and Sailor Moon. The Guardians are hot on the trail of the Negaverse's hideout and Tuxedo Mask. Endymion turns up in an attempt to recapture all of the Rainbow Crystals monsters, including Ami's boyfriend Ryo, but Sailor Mercury defeats him long enough for Sailor Moon to heal him. He disappears after that, though...

Another cut episode that wasn't included in the original 90's dub focused on Sailor Venus. We learn about her past in England, including her relationship with a woman police officer named Katerina and the boy they both loved, Allan. When Katerina comes to Japan and is possessed by the Negaverse, Usagi helps Minako heal her.

Spent the rest of the morning working on my story. Scott just admitted to Victor that he stole his job, and the two dealt with it in a gentlemanly fashion (that involved Scott getting a very nice black eye). Meanwhile, Mr. Eldridge won a big cash raffle, but he lost the ticket. The others think it got burned with Lady Hilary's love letters. Mr. Eldridge knows better...

Tonight, a drunken Scott reveals why the Crimson Blade is robbing the Governor to Maple and Hilary and pour out his frustrations over Victor, Elizabeth, and the loss of his men. Hilary discovers something of Scott's that once belonged to a noble house, and Scott tells the story of a friend whose family lost their wealth and lives to Pruitt's treachery.

Work was on-and-off busy, perfectly normal for the time of the week and year. I had no problems with anyone, and even came up with some more story ideas.My relief was on-time. The managers finally gave me my 50 dollar gift card for being Employee of the Month.

My schedule for the week is actually pretty darn good. Other than one early day on Wednesday, I have slightly more hours, but otherwise am par for the course for late spring. I have Monday and Tuesday off, the latter for counseling. While I will have to miss the Collingswood Farm Market again, I get off work on Wednesday early enough to hit the one in Westmont.

Instead of going right into grocery shopping, I went out to dinner. It was still a pretty nice night at that point, breezy and just warm enough. It was a great night for dinner at Sonic. I hadn't eaten at Sonic in ages. I even walked over there, rather than taking the bike. I wasn't the only one who opted to eat on the patio, either. Another family and a college student also enjoyed their meals outdoors. I ate my burger and tater tots and drank my favorite cherry limeade and watched the kids.

I took advantage of my gift card to pick up a few pricey things I'd put off, including canola oil (Wesson - not the greatest sale, but I needed it). Treated myself to a large salmon fillet that was five dollars, even with a manager's coupon. Restocked honey, canned chicken, eggs, buttermilk, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (which was on sale for $2.50), grapefruit, bananas, apples, canned mandarin oranges, tangelos, canned low-salt diced tomatoes, and tissues. Duncan Hines put out that two-color "Spring Velvets" cake mix again this year - grabbed it off the clearance rack for $1.69.

When I got home, I changed, put everything away, and finished out the first season of Sailor Moon. The Guardians are briefly flung back in time to discover their past lives in the Moon Kingdom and how Usagi's mother Queen Serenity gave her lives to save theirs. When a group of monsters kill off the Sailor Guardians, Sailor Moon becomes determined to avenge them and reawaken Tuxedo Mask's love, even at the cost of her own life.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Moonlight and Radio Romances

The day was absolutely gorgeous, sunny, breezy, and bright, when I got up this morning. I had a quick breakfast and then, since I got up early, thought I'd try something. That Beanie Baby Handbook/Cookbook Lauren gave me last year included a simple one-bowl recipe for ginger snaps (here called "Ally's "Snappy" Ginger Snaps - named for an alligator Beanie) that looked quick and tasty. That, they were. They took about a half-hour to make and baked up crunchy on the outside, a little chewy on the inside, and totally rich and flavorful.

I continued Sailor Moon as I ate and baked. The final Inner Guardian, Sailor Venus, joins the team as a desperate Zoycite cross-dresses as Sailor Moon to try to lure Tuxedo Mask into a trap. It works all too well. Though Venus rescues the girls, Tuxedo Mask is hurt, and the Negaverse gets the girls' Rainbow Crystals.

It comes to a showdown at the Starlight Tower in Tokyo. Zoycite goads Mamoru into bringing the remaining crystals to her. Usagi's worried about him, but her following him gets her inadvertently caught in the crossfire. They finally reveal their identities to each other, only for Zoycite to attempt to kill him. It's Usagi's anguished tears that finally reveals their love...and the true identity of the Moon Princess.

Living up to the title of "Princess" isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you're a clumsy 14-year-old who isn't known for being the most elegant kid around. The remaining episodes on the first disc mostly revolve around Usagi trying to learn how to behave like a princess, while dodging a now-brainwashed Tuxedo Mask. My favorite of these is the one about Usagi joining a finishing school to try to polish her manners. She, Rei, and Minako get a lesson in a lot more than lessons in etiquette when it turns out the head of the school would rather finish off her students than groom them into young ladies.

I headed out into the gentle sunshine around 11:30 for this week's volunteering run at the bike. There wasn't really much to do at Studio LuLoo. Roxy was working on her laptop. No one else was around. I washed a small pile of dishes and moved on.

It was the perfect day for a ride through the park. The leaves are almost at their full width now. Everything is fresh and green. The dandelions are turning into delicate puffs along the increasingly pollen-coated river. I dodged people walking their dogs, children chasing each other in the playground, and Canadian geese looking for lunch.

The Haddon Township Library was quiet when I arrived. I started to do my usual work, but I didn't realize the other volunteer I had trouble with before was there. After I'd moved on to organizing the American Girl books, I could hear her complaining to the head librarian. I hid in the stacks, then slid out when the storm had blown over. Needless to say, I didn't take anything out this week. I'm still finishing Sailor Moon, and I have plenty of things to watch at home.

(The librarian did call later and tell me I didn't do anything wrong - I was just doing what I do.)

I made a few quick stops after I left the library in frustration. They didn't have good prices on cooking oil at Thriftway - I'll wait until tomorrow to buy it. I just bought a notebook to cheer myself up at Dollar Tree. (And forgot what I went in there for, which was a laundry bag.)

I had lunch at the Westmont Bagel Shop. Worked on notes for my story while listening to The Chew...or tried to. Two obnoxious women showed up half-way through my meal. They were talking loudly and jokingly insulting everyone who got near them. I doubt they meant any harm, but they were noisy and obnoxious and no fun to eat around. I ate my Spinach, Chicken, and Provolone Wrap in silence and hurried out as soon as I could.

It was too nice to go inside right away. I first spent a half-hour working on my notes at the wooden picnic benches on West Clinton, in front of Phillies Yummies and Studio LuLoo. There's little shade on West Clinton, though. I eventually ended up on a blanket on my porch. The fuzzies were gone - Charlie and his boys must have blown them off earlier in the afternoon. The breeze felt deliciously light as it wafted across my legs. I wrote notes for my story and watched the glossy black ants and fuzzy caterpillars march across my line of vision.

When I went inside, I spent the next two hours continuing my story. Victor was hypnotized by the British into shooting Pruitt. While Elizabeth tries to get information out of Pruitt about how Victor ended up in this state and who his contact is, Mackie and Scott fight off Pruitt's guards. Scott's men, (including C.J) are captured, but Maple manages to save a still-dazed Victor. However, she's dressed as the Crimson Blade, and he has no idea who rescued him. Hilary helps Scott with the guards while Jeff brings the military. After they've left, he reveals what happened - Pavla forced him to marry her in order to save Victor secret. Hilary says Jeff can live there, but not in their room.

Scott's not happy at all, despite being the one who discovered the codes. Victor's back, most of his men are in jail, and now he has to work even harder to win Elizabeth's love...

I started dinner around 5:30. I wanted something easy and yet filling. One of my favorite low-fat, quick dinners is Italian Chicken With Tomatoes. Marinate chicken in balsamic vinegar and olive oil (actually, the recipe calls for Italian dressing, but I don't have any), cook them in a skillet until pink, add canned diced tomatoes, and cook until ready. I added mushrooms, onion, and garlic tonight for extra flavor. It was delicious. I had it with a lettuce salad.

Another favorite later first season Sailor Moon episode of mine focuses on Usagi's family. They've gone up to a hot springs for a vacation. Their trip turns out to be anything but relaxing when the brainwashed Mamoru unleashes a jealous demon from the lake, thinking he can control it. The demon has ideas of its own. It attacks Usagi's family, and while the other Guardians help, Usagi attempts to figure out how she can turn into Sailor Moon without her parents and brother discovering her identity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Sailor Guardians and the Radio Actors

It was cloudy, windy, and blissfully cooler when I finally dragged myself out of bed this morning. I finished The Copenhagen Connection, then ran a couple of Remember WENN episodes I hadn't done as I ate breakfast. "Strange Bedfellows" jumps back to the second season. Hilary and Jeff run against each other for Pittsburgh's city council, but the last thing they're expecting is for politics to be a full-time job. A folksy local sports hero shows up at their debate and reminds them of just how difficult it can be to run for office. Meanwhile, the others are taking a poll on the race for mayor, which Scott Sherwood doesn't seem to be taking seriously.

Moved to the mid-third season for "And How!" The staff is initially excited to be performing the wildly popular western "The Strange Loner" during a national broadcast, at least until the star of the show turns up drunk and unable to perform. Mackie Bloom badly wants the starring role, and not playing a Tonto variation that sounds worse than Johnny Depp's take on the sidekick part, either. When a real Native American actor (Russell Means) shows up to play the sidekick, the others help him keep his role. Meanwhile, Eugenia introduces the gang to a new and adventurous food - pizza!

I headed out around 11:30 to run today's errands. My first stop was Studio LuLoo. Roxy and a couple of the other volunteers were doing computer work. I mostly cleaned - swept the floor, vacuumed the rugs, did the dishes. One of the women had the most adorable little toddler daughter there. She didn't like the vacuum, though. Poor thing got so upset, her mommy took her outside for a little while as I was running it.

Next up was a quick look at the Oaklyn Library. Not a whole lot going on there today. I didn't even have much to do with the DVD's. I took a cursory glance at everything, then just headed out. I was out in less than a half-hour.

I wasn't up to going home yet. I decided I needed a little shopping therapy, so I wandered up to the White Horse Pike to browse at the House of Fun. Two of the men who run the store were sitting on the floor, going through an enormous pile of loose vintage action figures, when I arrived. I stepped around them and did my usual look around. Once again, I just ended up with more Sailor Moon, this time the second half of the first season. It cost me 45 dollars, but it was worth it. (And it looks like the first half of the second season will be out in July, from what says. I may pre-order it - it's cheaper there than at the House of Fun.)

Had lunch at Capitol Pizza, since they're on the next block over from the House of Fun. They were pretty quiet, other than Meredith Live on the TV. I ate my cheese and mushroom slices and drank my can of Diet Coke in silence. My last stop was at Family Dollar for drain cleaner (again - the drains in the kitchen and bathroom are still running slow).

When I got home, I poured the drain cleaner down both of the aforementioned slow drains, then spent the next hour or so dusting. The pollen has been absolutely dreadful this year. Even the places I dusted a few days ago came up heavily yellow. Ugh! It's been driving my nose crazy. I've been sneezing for hours.

Ran Sailor Moon episodes as I worked. The first disc on this set introduces Sailor Jupiter, aka Makoto, a tough tomboy who hits hard, cooks well, and enjoys chasing boys almost as much as Usagi. The new villain is Zoycite, the rather feminine Negaverse general who antagonizes Tuxedo Mask and annoys the girls. (And Zoycite is actually a man this time, rather than having a woman's voice.)

The first episode on the disc is one of the series most touching, and one of the few to just barely concern Sailor Moon or any of her friends. Poor Naru is captured by some of Zoycite's monsters, who want to use her to bring Nephrite out of hiding. Nephrite thinks she knows where Sailor Moon is and takes off with her. She doesn't really mind...and he might have feelings for her, too. When he's hurt by Zoycite's monsters, she's determined to save him, even when it's obvious he's doomed. This is one of the few pivotal episodes of the first season that was done really well in the original dub, and it comes off equally well here.

After Nephrite's death, we switch to collecting the "rainbow crystals." Each crystal is being held by some normal person who has no idea they're carrying it, until they change into a monster. One of the carriers is Ryu, a sweet, smart boy with a huge crush on Ami. Ami tells him he can change his own future when he worries that he'll have to kill her as a monster.

I returned to writing after I finished dusting. Lord Jeffrey just returned to the Inn, much to the dismay of his ex-wife Lady Hilary. Hilary basically said to Betty that if he stays, she goes. And then an oily, entirely-too-happy Pruitt shows up, insisting he has a surprise for that will change the course of events at the Inn...

Made Spring Turkey Vegetable Soup for dinner with canned turkey, canned organic tomato soup from the clearance rack at work, and whatever vegetables were in my crisper. When I finished dinner, I made simple, plain Banana Muffins for work with the recipe from my British baking book.

I continued with Sailor Moon during dinner. By far the funniest and cutest of the "rainbow crystals" episodes is the one where the carrier is a huge white cat named Rhett Butler who keeps saving Luna from Tokyo's alley cat population. The Guardians think it's the little girl who owns him who's carrying the crystal. Zoycite knows better. Meanwhile, Tuxedo Mask is after the rainbow crystals for a purpose even he really can't explain.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Winds of Spring

I started off a sunny, windy day with more work on my story. Betty is now worried about Pruitt raising the rent and prices and lowering budgets at the Inn. Meanwhile, Scott and Mackie have larger concerns about some fishy advertisements they got from the Seldon Sentry Bank...which happens to have the mortgage on the Inn. Then Betty hears the others talking about how Jonathan Arnold has a different writing style, and she realize Victor Comstock didn't write the articles - and he may be in big trouble.

I watched Max & Ruby episodes before and after writing. "Ruby's Safari" takes Ruby and Louise on a journey through the backyard to find an exotic animal for their Bunny Scouts Scrapbook. What they keep finding is Max's toys. Ruby and Louise wants Max to try their new line of beauty products made from fruits and vegetables. Max would rather have "Max's Mud Bath." While Ruby and Louise design a terrarium for the Scouts' pet chameleon, Max watches his transformations in "Max's Lost Lizard." Ruby tells the story of "Ruby Riding Hood" to keep her brother's hands off the cookies she intends for Grandma. The tale of "Max and the Beanstalk" is intended to get him to eat his green beans. Louise relates the tale of "The Froggy Prince" to remind Ruby that even a frog can be a real star.

Work was on-and-off busy for most of the day. It didn't help that many people were grouchy for some reason, and I'm dead tired. I'm not used to getting up early a lot, both for work and for writing. I was grateful that they sent a college student in - I had no relief.

I went straight home via Nicholson Road. When I got in, I changed, then made salmon with asparagus and scallions and a salad for dinner. Watched a first season episode of Wonder Woman while I ate. "The Pluto Files" are a formula that can start a man-made earthquake. A charming mercenary steals the formula for the Nazis, hoping to use it to blow up the Washington D.C area. What he doesn't know is that he's carrying a highly contagious disease, and he's already spread it to several other people. Diana and Steve have to stop him from blowing D.C....and making everyone in D.C sick.

Though it was still warm, it was neither as warm, nor as humid, as the weekend was. There was a strong wind that kept the extreme heat at bay. I decided it was a perfect night for a walk. So did a lot of other people. I saw quite a few groups of parents out playing with their kids, people walking their dogs, and older kids in groups chatting. I ended up at Phillies Yummies. Bought a small lime vanilla Yum Yum and watched the various groups of kids and parents enjoy their treats.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Romancing the Laundry

Once again, I began the day at work. Work was on-and-off busy, though not quite as much as yesterday. Other than a few cranky people, I was in and out with no major problems. Oh, and my current good mood has been noticed by more than my customers. I got Employee of the Month and a 50 dollar gift card, probably due to those two compliments in a row the last few weeks. That 50 dollars will come in handy - I can save the money that would have gone towards food for vacation.

When I got home, I would have liked to have taken a nap, but I had other things to do. I changed, then headed back out to get the laundry done. I won't have the time to get it done tomorrow, and I really didn't want to wait until Wednesday. I almost wish I'd waited until Wednesday. The laundromat was teeming with families getting enormous loads of blankets and sheets done. The TV blasted obnoxious Dr. Phil and his silly, ignorant patients. I read one of my favorite novels, The Wings of the Falcon by Barbara Michaels, and ignored everything else. Thank goodness my load was really small. I was out in just about an hour.

When I got home, I put everything away, then made dinner. I forgot to take out the fish fillet I was originally going to have tonight, so I opted for a far simpler fried egg sandwich with cheddar cheese and romaine lettuce. Added sauteed asparagus and mushrooms for more vitamins.

Ran Romancing the Stone as I ate dinner, and later just while sprawled across my love seat, relaxing with Pluto the Tsum Tsum in my arms. Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is a romance novelist living in New York City with her cat and her hopes of finding a man as rugged and handsome as the ones she writes about. She gets a lot more adventure than she bargains for when she finds out that her sister is being held hostage in Columbia in exchange for a treasure map that was sent to her. Joan heads to Columbia, only to find herself lost in the jungle with a mercenary (Michael Douglas) who will help her for a price and a crazed general and two local smugglers (one is Danny DeVito) who are after the map.

I still love this movie. I have since it came out. For most of my childhood, this was my definition of romance. There's a reason a poster for the movie is currently hanging over one of my DVD shelves in the entertainment area. Turner's marvelous as the mousy writer who comes out of her shell when she finds herself dealing with real action, and Douglas is sexy as hell as the mercenary. Some violence makes this a tad iffy for very young kids; for everyone else, especially if they love romantic action, this is a great deal of fun and is very highly recommended.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Day For Mothers

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all Moms out there, including those whose children are four-legged or feathered!

I started a hot, muggy Mother's Day with Banana Pancakes and Louis Armstrong records before dashing off to early work. Work was busy all morning, not exactly a surprise on a holiday and a Sunday. Most people were happy to be heading to their holiday barbecues and dinners. At one point, we even gave out free single carnations to all the mothers who came in our lines. There were no real problems, and my relief was right on time.

I took the Black Horse Pike home this time, road repairs be darned. I was too tired to deal with the Sunday traffic on Nicholson Road. As soon as I got in, I changed and called my own mom to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. I ended up leaving her a message. I'm guessing she was either at work or out with my sister Anny and her kids.

I spent the next hour and a half napping. I'm not used to working early on a Sunday! After I got up, I worked on my WENN fanfiction. Mackie and Hilary, impressed with the Crimson Blade after the fight in the market and with how they saved Hilary from Pavla, joins the group to replace Jeff. Meanwhile, Pavla and Governor Pruitt get together to discuss their twin adversaries, the Crimson Blade and the staff and residents of the Monongahela Inn. Pruitt wants to sell off the Inn and get the staff out of his hair. Pavla wants revenge on Hilary and the others for humiliating her. They both think they can help each other get what they want...starting with Pavla going to have a talk with Lord Jeff Singer in Boston...

I had leftovers for dinner while listening to the original cast of the beloved 1959 musical Gypsy. Ethel Merman had what was considered her greatest role as the ultimate stage mother, the conniving, manipulating Rose. She pushed and shoved her daughters June and Louise into vaudeville at early ages, hoping against hope that sweet little June would become a star. June did eventually hit it an adult comedienne on Broadway. Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee, the most famous and classiest stripper in burlesque.

Actually, I think my favorite song from this show is one of the cut numbers included on my deluxe edition disc, "Mamma's Talkin' Soft." It was supposed to have been sung by Louise and June overhead while Rose sang "Small World," but one of the girls was afraid of heights and they had to drop the number. Too bad. I like the way the girls describe how they've seen their mother deal with men before...and what happens when she gets her hooks into them. The almost intimate, cabaret-like version on my CD gives it a jaunty, laid-back feel.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Spring Harvest Season

I began today with a run to the Collingswood Farm Market. I did it more for the ride than for any real need for vegetables. Despite the cool, cloudy, humid morning, it was packed with people looking for flowers and produce for their Mother's Day barbecues. I ducked around the crowds long enough to buy bok choy, asparagus, mushrooms, and my first apple cider donut from Cherry Hill's Springdale Farms of the year.

I even managed to squeeze a few yard sales in before I had to head home. No luck. The one in Collingswood was all baby toys and clothes. The one on Newton Avenue in Oaklyn had nothing of interest. I also took a brief look at the Spring Fling school fair on West Clinton Avenue. Other than the booths selling cosmetics and crafts, it seemed a lot less elaborate than the one last year. There was one food booth, two rides, some games, one bounce house, and no fire engine rides or car show or water ice vendor. As far as I could tell, only the games required tickets this time. It was too early for lunch, though.

When I finally got home, I had just enough time to change, pack lunch, and hurry back out to work! Work was on-and-off busy. I mostly spent it doing returns, though I did end up in the registers when we got busy. Unlike earlier in the week, I was able to shut down easily without a relief. 

After I got home via Nicholson Road, I changed into regular clothes, then spent the next hour and a half doing chores. I still hadn't gotten around to dusting. It's pollen season - it's needed to be done badly, especially around the windows. I did the living room. Swept the porch, too. It's the height of fuzzy seed pod season, and they're everywhere. 

Ran The Secret of Nimh while I worked. Mrs. Brisby is a little field mouse with a few big problems. Her son Timothy is very sick with pneumonia, but it's plowing season, and the farmer may have to dig up their home. She's first directed towards the Great Owl, who finally recommends she seeks help from the rats who live on the farm. It seems these are no ordinary rats - they steal electricity and are as intelligent as humans (and are darn good with swords). While the rats argue over whether to continue to live the way they are or move to a place where they no longer have to steal, Mrs. Brisby is given an amulet that has tremendous power...and that allows to show just how courageous a mother can be.

Long a personal favorite of mine, this is by far one of the most stunning animated movies of the 1980's. The score by Jerry Goldsmith, including the ballad "Flying Dreams," is so lovely my sisters and I begged Mom to record the entire movie through the end credits when we taped this off cable during my childhood, just so we could have all the music. Frank discussions of illness, death, and animal testing and two gristly on-screen deaths make this a little much for young kids despite the "G" rating. For everyone else, this is highly recommended.

I hit the bath as soon as I finished dusting. That felt great, especially after having spent the entire morning and afternoon on the run. I just looked over cake decorating magazines, listened to George Winston's interpretations of Vince Guaraldi songs (including some of his music from the Peanuts specials), and let my mind rest.

Did one more cartoon while having a leftover chicken leg with sauteed asparagus and bok choy and the last of the brown rice for dinner. The late-80's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles twice dipped into the swashbuckler well, the first time in "The Four Musketurtles." After reading The Three Musketeers, Leonardo is hit on the head and thinks he's D'Artagnan, the other Turtles are the remaining Musketeers, April is the Queen, and Shredder is Cardinal Richeleu! His brothers try to keep up the illusion while attempting to help April keep a rare jewel out of Shredder's hands. 

Friday, May 08, 2015

Take a Writer's Step

I began another hot, sunny morning with breakfast and two late fourth season episodes of Remember WENN. "Past Tense, Future Imperfect" takes us back to the first season as Betty recounts her first real working day at WENN to Maple and Scott. Victor's habitual "grandiloquence" gets the better of Betty when she misunderstands his long words and thinks he's after her.

"The Sunset Also Rises" isn't as much fun. This is another "Gertie writes a script" movie spoof. Gertie's writing for a TV contest this time. Her script parodies Sunset Boulevard, but the bizarre tale of a fading diva (Hilary) who seduces a writer (Scott) into creating one last show for her doesn't really fit this particular sitcom well.

I spent the rest of the morning working on my story. We're now at Pittsburgh Village's market place, which has been attacked by drunk pirates wrecking havoc. Several of the pirates, including Captain Pavla DeVile, have taken Hilary to her ship. Scott and Mackie are trying to duke it out with the others, while Betty, Eugenia, and Mr. Foley hide and figure out what to do next. Help is on the way, though, from a very female, very red-headed Crimson Blade.

Work was busy when I came in this morning, but it cleared out as early as 2 PM. It was just barely steady when one of the college girls came in for me. It was so quiet, at one point, I did returns for a while.

Mixed feelings on my schedule this week. In good news, I have more hours and once again, no late hours - the latest I work will be 5. Unfortunately, working early next Saturday will mean I'll have to miss the Farm Market, and I have to wait until Wednesday for my next day off (but I do have Wednesday and Thursday).

I really didn't have much grocery shopping to do. Most of it was restocking - apples, grapefruit, cooking spray, cereal (went with the Acme generic Multi-Grain Cheerios), brown, white, and powdered sugar (the Domino's 5 pound bag was on sale for $2.29), milk, tangelos, plus soap and bubble bath from the dollar shelves. Perdue chicken was 50 % off this week; I bought breasts and ground chicken.

When I got home, I ran a few episodes of Get Smart while I changed and put away the groceries. "Viva Smart" takes us south of the border as Max and 99 pose as flamenco dancers in order to save the imprisoned president of a South American country. Max has to do some quick thinking to keep them away from the firing squad! "The King Lives?" in a take-off on The Prisoner of Zenda. Max is the exact double of the ruler of a small European country. When the king's brother tries to kill him, Max takes his place in order for him to keep the throne.

I was tired of sitting in the house all day. I needed to get out and enjoy a nice night. I took my bike to the Legacy Diner for dinner. Needless to say, given it was 6 PM on a Friday night, they were pretty busy, but I did get a seat. I opted for the cheddar and broccoli omelet and home fries. I would have been happier if they hadn't burnt my whole wheat toast and if the home fries were a lot less dry. At least the omelet wasn't too bad.

When I got home, I ran one more TV show episode as I got settled in. The Monkees had fun with royalty and swashbuckling in two first season episodes, including the very first episode of the series, "Royal Flush." When Davy rescues a princess from drowning, he gets himself and the guys into hot water when it turns out her guardians want to make sure she doesn't take the throne.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Continuing the Epic

Today was my early work day. It was quiet and surprisingly quick for a day that was mildly busy at best. I worked the register the entire day and had no problems doing so. My relief was one of the college girls, and she was right on time.

I took the back roads home down Nicholson Road again. It was another hot and sunny afternoon. No wonder we were dead. Once again, the traffic was fairly busy, but not only was it a nice day for a long ride, I still wanted to avoid the repairs on the Black Horse Pike.

Once again, I spent the next two hours writing. I'm coming up with ideas all over the place. While Governor Pruitt and his right-hand-woman Priscilla Cosgrave talk about getting together with a certain female smuggler named Paula, Lord Jeff Singer is determined to return to Boston, much to the consternation of his wife Hilary. With Jeff gone, Mackie Bloom is overworked...until Scott returns to the station in the capacity of an actor and kitchen worker. Meanwhile, Scott insists that Maple take over another one of his least until he can shake off Pruitt's suspicions and get back into Elizabeth's good graces.

After I finally got off, I spent the next hour or so in the bath. Ahhhhh. That felt nice. I read the American Girl Felicity mystery Traitor at Williamsburg and just enjoyed kicking back. It feels great to actually be able to do one of the things you most enjoy, and do it a lot. I haven't had this much fun writing a story in a very long time.

I ran Cats Don't Dance while having a salad and leftover rice with farm-market-fresh scallions and brown rice for dinner. This unusual animated musical tells the story of a Danny, a cat who comes to Hollywood in 1939 to be a song-and-dance performer. Animals, however, are barred from any kind of acting that doesn't involve them, well, acting like animals. There's also Darla Dimple, a sugary-sweet child star who claims to love children and animals (but really hates both) to contend with.

This was yet another non-Disney animated film that got lost in the sea of copycats in the late 90's. Too bad, because it's one of the more creative animated movies from that era. The story, likely inspired by Hollywood's treatment of minorities in the 30's and 40's, is inspired, and the musical numbers are a lot of fun. Not to mention, it has one of animation's strangest villains. Darla Dimple (and her number "Big and Loud") must be seen to be believed. If you're a fan of musicals or just of animation that tries something a little different, this is worth a look at least once.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Of Three Amigos and Crimson Blades

I started a cloudy, cooler morning with Speedy Gonzoles cartoons. Though many Americans still find his cartoons to be offensive, the majority of them could be worse. I've heard that Mexicans generally consider him to be a heroic character, or at the worst, a positive stereotype. Actually, most animation fans have more problems with how predictable his starring shorts got. His early vehicles like "Tabasco Road" usually had him pitted against Mexican villains, cats or birds who wanted to eat his fellow mice. By the time of the fantasy poem spoof "The Pied Piper of Guadeloupe" and the rescue-from-the-lab tale "West of the Pecos," Speedy was rescuing his buddies (including his cousin Slowpoke Rodiguez) from Sylvester the Cat. In "Nuts and Volts," Speedy was basically a faster, less obnoxious Tweety, easily avoiding Sylvester's attempt at a robot and house security.

Headed out for today's chores and volunteering on foot around quarter of noon. Started at a very quiet Studio LuLoo. Roxy was the only one there today, and she was mainly doing work on her computer. I told her about my fanfiction and Remember WENN while doing the dishes. The dishes actually weren't that bad. They were three-fourths plastic cups. (Although I do wish someone had emptied a few of those cups of what appeared to be chocolate milk.)

Lunch was next. I had a small, quiet meal at Common Grounds Coffee House a couple of doors down from Studio LuLoo on West Clinton. The place was relatively busy, at least as close to being busy as I'd ever seen it. Two college-age couples sat at different tables, talking. A mother played with her adorable baby son. I enjoyed watching them and reading over the inspirational quotes on the wall while having a slice of scallion and bacon quiche and a perfect chai latte.

Next on the to-do list was volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. There wasn't a whole lot going on over there, either. I mainly organized DVD's while listening to CNN and the librarian and the one woman using the computers chat. I wasn't even there for a half-hour.

I needed a few things at CVS, so I strolled down the White Horse Pike. It was a little nicer by 1 PM, slightly sunnier and warmer, though still cooler and windier than yesterday. CVS wasn't busy, either. I had no problems buying replacement bristles and an 88 cent bottle of Palmolive.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my Remember WENN "Crimson Blade" fanfiction. I finally got the staff to the big masquerade ball held at the Governor's mansion. Trying to avoid the overtures made by the slimy Governor Pruitt, a suspicious Betty and Hilary confront Kurt Holstrom, a local publisher, about codes found in the advertisements he wants to hang on the Inn. Holstrom reveals his true colors and takes Hilary hostage...only to encounter the sharp end of her incensed husband Jeff's sword. Holstrom's no swordsman - Jeff quickly takes care of him.

Betty escapes that duel, only to be caught by Pruitt in the mansion's gardens. He's about to get a little too close for comfort when the Crimson Blade appears. Their sword duel is less lopsided, but Betty and the Crimson Blade both escape.

The Crimson Blade tells her to meet him at the Inn at midnight. He doesn't realize just how busy the garden is going to be. Victor Comstock also appears to Betty at the Inn that night. He has quite a few secrets to reveal to her...including one about how he doesn't know his successor Scott Sherwood. Meanwhile, Hilary wants Jeff to tell her everything - or as much as he can - about what he's doing with Scott.

I am so excited about this! I haven't been this excited about anything I've done in years. I have so many plans. Next up, Betty will confront Scott with what Victor told her...and a gloating Pruitt will show up at the Inn to reveal that he's onto at least some of Scott's scheming...

I didn't get off the computer until nearly quarter of 6. I had steamed asparagus, a roll, and two leftover chicken legs for dinner while watching The Three Amigos. A trio of out-of-work silent movie actors (Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short) are called to Mexico to help a small village defeat a bandit that's been plaguing them. Trouble is, though they played gunfighters on the silver screen, they really don't know anything about being heroes. When the bandit kidnaps one of the girls and devastates the town, the Three Amigos discover that they can be heroes for real...and show the townspeople how to be the heroes of their own movies, too.

This hilarious spoof of silent melodramas is one of my favorite underrated 80's comedies. All three leads are clearly having a marvelous time. I'm especially fond of Randy Newman's score - the "My Little Buttercup" sequence is classic. (Rose and Anny used to do that number together when we were kids.) Highly recommended for fans of the three stars, movie spoofs, or comic action.

I made a small peanut butter cake during the second half of Amigos. I loved that one-layer strawberry cake I made a few weeks ago so much, I decided to make another one. This time, it was a variation on a recipe from a low-fat cookbook Mom gave me when I moved here. I had to replace the brown sugar with regular sugar and molasses - I'm out of brown sugar - and I replaced half the cake flour with whole wheat flour. Yum. Sweet and peanutty. (Especially since I used chunky peanut butter.