Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures at the Moorestown Mall

Started a hot, sunny day with cereal, the last peach, and the second season of Sailor Moon. In the second season episode "A Charmed Life," Serena's hoping that a love potion will help restore her relationship with Darien. The Soldiers discover that there's a lot more to this shop than pretty trinkets when a jelly-like monster attacks them.

I headed out around 11. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. It remained sunny and very warm, but the humidity was gone, and there was a very nice breeze. I stopped quickly at WaWa in Oaklyn for money and a Blackberry Sparkling Ice, then headed for King's Highway. I wanted to pick up the 11:37 bus to the Moorestown Mall. I locked my bike at CVS and rushed across the street, making it with a minute to spare...then waited ten more minutes for it to show up. I forgot most of the local buses have to take a detour in Camden this week. They're demolishing a building near the Camden bus terminal.

The bus ride to the Moorestown Mall was perfectly fine. There was no traffic, and only four other people who went all the way. When I got off, I started at Boscov's, the closest store to the Mall bus stop. They were very busy with people taking advantage of big summer sales. I looked at shoes and blouses, but I was mainly there for work pants. I tend to wear them out quickly riding the bikes to work almost every day, especially the area around my thighs. It took me a while, but I finally found a decent pair of Sag Harbor khakis for $21.

My next stops weren't as fruitful. I did see Sailor Moon Season 2, Vol. 1 at FYE, but it was $39.99. Amazon has it for cheaper. Didn't see it at Barnes & Noble at all. I did end up getting a new journal (I'm half-way through the current one) and a hardback copy of the newest Diane Mott Davidson story The Whole Enchilada off the Bargain Priced shelves. Best Buy had the Sailor Moon set, but only on Blu-Ray.

By the time I got out of Best Buy, it was past 2 PM...and way past time for lunch. I ate at the Corner Cafe and Bakery again. This time, I had a half of a turkey club pannini, a mixed greens salad with very peppery vinaigrette dressing, and a black currant iced tea. The sandwich was pretty good, but that dressing was waaayyy too spicy! My eyes were watering when I finished.

Hiked across the mall parking lot to Sears after lunch. I looked at their Lands End clothes, but I just ended up getting my new sandals. They're leather I Love Comfort strap sandals, good and thick, with an adjustable strap on the toes. While they lack the elastic on my old Grasshoppers sandals, they're also made of better material with a thicker sole, and hopefully will last longer.

After a brief look at Play*Trade, I ended up across the way at Payless Shoes. The last time I bought sneakers there, I ended up turning my ankle in them and spending the next two months out of work. They were also a cheap-no-name brand that were worn-out badly by that point anyway. The pair I bought today were Champion sneakers. They were $19.99, still fairly cheap, but not too badly made for a sneaker from Payless. They're also a little narrow, but they were the best I could find that I could afford.

I took brief peeks at Hallmark and the toy store, but I was really getting tired. I needed to sit down and get some liquid refreshment. I settled for a water ice at Rita's. Thankfully, unlike in February, the line was more manageable. I was able to get my regular coconut cream and settle down in the dining court fairly quickly.

The dining court looks much better than it did when Lauren and I visited the Mall last month. There's now modern, simple tables and chairs. Islands with benches and plugs for various devices replace tables in the center of the room. (Unfortunately, they didn't seem to be able to do anything about the skylights. It gets beastly hot in the center of the food court, thanks to the overhead glass ceilings.) There's a lounge area with soft recliners and tables in the main entrance near the movie theater. They'll probably look even better once more stores start moving in - at this writing, it's still Subway, Saladworks, and Charley's.

I considered hiking to Macy's or taking another look at FYE, but I just wasn't up for it. I opted to catch the 4:07 back to Audubon. This one took a little longer, thanks to the beginning of rush hour traffic. The offices around East Gate and Cherry Hill were especially bad. I didn't make it in until nearly 5 PM.

Made a brief stop at the lovely little Italian bakery on King's Highway for a cupcake treat and a small loaf of fresh Italian bread before going to CVS and getting my bike. I went straight home after that. I was tired. It was still hot, if not humid. I did quite a bit of hiking today.

(At the very least, I got everything I needed except for new luggage. That and Sailor Moon will have to wait for better paychecks next month.)

Ended up spending the rest of the night looking over old journals and watching That's Entertainment III while eating leftover Turkey Pasta Veggie Salad for dinner. Songs that were cut from or previously unused, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage, are the thing in the third and final movie focusing on the heyday of the MGM musical. Actually, my favorite part of this one, besides some of the cut songs, is the opening. Gene Kelly explains the early talkie musicals and their demise well before YouTube, TCM, and the Warner Archives gave many of them a fresh hearing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fairies are Brave and Strong

Began a gloomy, humid morning with one of the earliest episodes of The Backyardigans. Uniqua is determined to prove that "Knights are Brave and Strong" when Queen Tasha sends her to deliver a message to King Austin. She has to get through the Misty Moose (Tyrone), the Guard at the Gate (Pablo), and the Swamp of Stinkyness in order to earn her own knight's hat with a pink feather.

I spent the rest of the morning working on my fanfic. While Scott's been traveling with the acting troupe, Betty's been getting soil samples with help from her friend, lawyer Doug Thompson. She likes Doug, but she's been wondering about Scott. She sees a poster for the troupe and remembers her discussion with Scott and having seen him at the show, and wonder if he's found what happened with his mother. Doug's not happy, but she asks him to see the show after she gets the reports on the land. She thinks Scott could help her figure out what Pruitt's up to...and she might be able to help him...

Work was the same as it has been the past month - quiet most of the day. I spent the afternoon working on story ideas. It cleared out even more once it started raining around 3 PM. I suspect we only had customers at all because we're getting very close to the beginning of the month. It was so quiet, I was able to shut down without a relief at the height of rush hour - they sent the college kid who was supposed to go in for me elsewhere.

It was still raining when I got out of work. I waited ten minutes, but it wasn't slowing down. I finally just rode home and got wet. Ironically, it did finally end about a half-hour or so after I got in.

Made a tasty, simple turkey-pasta-vegetable salad for dinner. It was just canned turkey, cooked whole-wheat pasta, and whatever sliced veggies I had in my fridge - one of the cucumbers, onion, the last of the cherry tomatoes. Topped it with a dressing of red wine vinegar, spicy mustard, and olive oil, and some onion seasoning. Yum, yum. Simple and savory and very summery.

Watched Maleficent while I ate. The title character is reworked as an anti-hero in this unusual take on Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was in love with Stefan when they were children. When she leads her forest creatures in defeating his king, Stefan steals the things she prizes most in order to take over the kingdom. Angry and vengeful, she takes her anger out on his daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning), cursing her to fall into a sleep that can only be awoken by true love. Like Elsa in Frozen, Maleficent discovers there's more than one type of true love in the world when she helps the other fairies keep an eye on the child as she grows up, and almost against her will, becomes fond of the girl. Now she has to find a way to help break her own curse, before the girl who has melted her heart is gone from her life forever.

Maybe it's because I always liked the original Sleeping Beauty, but I wasn't crazy about this one. I just like Maleficent better as a flat-out villain and didn't find her arc or her feelings for Aurora to be that believable. Wasn't fond of how they played the other three fairies as idiots, either. It was no fault of Jolie's - she was fine as the title dark woods creature. I also found the anti-war and environmental messages to be laid on a tad thick. The reason to see this one, besides Jolie, is the special effects. The fairies' world in particular is amazing, filled with colorful, detailed creatures. I also liked Maleficent's crow friend, who here takes on a variety of shapes and has a couple of nice comic scenes with Jolie.

If you're a huge Disney fan or Jolie fan who is willing to take a fresh look at one of their more famous villains, this is worth a rental for the amazing effects work alone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Once Upon a Heat Wave

I began a very humid and hazy day at work...and spent most of it standing around, writing down all the story ideas running through my head. We were on and off steady, but mostly quiet. It's a hot day in the middle of the week and the end of the month. If people aren't at the Shore, they're waiting for money to come in during the weekend and next week. My relief was right on time, and I was in and out with no problems.

When I got home, I had some of the Turtle Chex Mix I bought at work (it was a dollar), then made a fruit salad. Also known as "most of the fruit I had laying around cut up with a can of mandarin oranges mixed in." Listened to the soundtrack to Newsies as I worked. My favorite number from both the movie and the show is "King of New York." I haven't seen the show, but the number in the movie is hilarious. The newsies' strike just made the papers, and they're incredibly excited about it. Both the song and the number are just adorable.

Worked on my fanfic for the next couple of hours. Betty Prince, with help from kind-hearted lawyer Doug Thompson, is in Pueblo to pick up the findings of a surveyor who is a friend of Doug's. The two happen to see the show at the stage that the troupe is working at. So does Miss Cosgrave, who isn't happy to discover that the poisoned comb she gave Scott didn't work.

Pruitt's even less happy. He has his men take Maple away to be questioned. He writes a letter to invite the troupe to the town's rodeo and county fair. He intends to lure Scott into his clutches...and this time, take the job of doing away with him himself.

Needless to say, Scott does not want to go to the fair. The rest of the troupe convinces him it'll be great publicity. Hilary pulls out a blond wig and says he'll go in disguise...

When I finally got off, I had leftover Chinese beans and the last of the turkey tacos for dinner while watching Sleeping Beauty. When Princess Aurora is cursed by the wicked Maleficent in infancy to die on her 16th birthday, one of the three fairies who watch over the land gentles it down to merely sleeping. Despite the fairies best efforts, Maleficent is successful and the curse comes true. Prince Phillip, who met the girl in the woods when she was picking berries and fell for her, must make his way to the castle and kiss his slumbering love...if he can get past briar bushes and a dragon!

One of Disney's most beautifully-animated movies, done to look like a real 14th century tapestry. While the title sleeping beauty herself is a bit of a snore, the supporting cast is first rate - the fairies are hilarious, Maleficent is so famous, she got a live-action movie to herself, and Phillip is one of Disney's few really interesting princes. Recommended for fans of animation or the Disney Princess movies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tales of Old Arizona

I began a semi-cloudy, humid morning with Fort Apache. Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda) and his daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple) arrive at the title outpost to whip its troops (including Victor McLauglin and Pedro Armendariz) into fighting shape. He's joined by recent West Point graduate Lieutenant Mickey O'Rourke (John Algar), who falls for Philadelphia. Colonel Thursday disapproves of the match - O'Rourke's father (Ward Bond) is an enlisted man. When Thursday and his second-in-command Captain York (John Wayne) find that Indians have attacked some of their men and gone back on their treaty with their local representative (Grant Withers), he wants to bring their leaders from Mexico and slaughter them all. York, who knows that the Apache genuinely got a raw deal from the drunk and corrupt representative, wants to make peace. Thursday just wants to make war. He discovers the hard way that the Apache have their rights and know a lot more about fighting than he does. Thursday, however, finally opts to go down with his men, becoming a legend for better or for worse.

The first of three movies revolving around the US Calvary that John Ford filmed in Arizona's gorgeous Monument Valley. Fonda gets a rare chance to play against type as a snobbish, racist glory hound; Ward Bond also does well as Algar's dignified father who refuses to allow his superior officer to get to his goat. If you're a fan of Ford's westerns or anyone in the cast, this is a beautifully-shot and fairly mature western that's highly recommended.

Had breakfast and cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen while the movie was on. Neither of them were quite as bad as when I did them last time, but they did need to be done. I figured since I wasn't in a hurry, I might as well get both done in one swoop.

I finally headed out for today's errands around 1 PM. Started at the Oaklyn Library first. There was a little more to do there than there has been. The DVD's weren't too bad, but there was a lot to organize in the kids' section. The board books were in really bad shape. Even with that, I was out in a half and hour. I had to be. The Oaklyn Library closes at 2.

Next on the docket was lunch. I ate at the Westmont Bagel Shop. I hadn't had their Turkey Avocado Sandwich in a while. I had it on an onion bagel with fries. Yum! The avocado spread had been replaced by real avocado. They were still a little slippery, but not as bad as the spread. I listened to The Chew and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire while I ate. It was nearly 2 PM by then. The only other diners were one guy reading the local paper the Retrospect and two chattering women who finished their lunch shortly after I arrived.

The Haddon Township Library was also very busy today. There were piles and piles of DVDs to shelve, both from the adult and the kids' section. Tons of audio books and CDs, too. Once again, the kids' stuff all fit, but the adults' did not. I took some of the burden off the adult shelves and mostly took out new releases I'd wanted to see. I ended up with the animated movie Strange Magic, the comedy A Million Ways To Die In the West, the Disney retelling Maleficent, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. (I'm tired of dark, dreary futures in sci-fi movies too, but I figured, since I'd seen the other two, I might as well finish out the series.)

Stopped at Rite Aid after leaving the Library. I mainly needed contact lens solution. The big size was on sale for $9. Rite Aid already has out its back-to-school sale items. I picked up two tiny USB ports for $7.75 each (25% off). Also bought new dishcloths (mine are probably about four or five years old) and a pencil sharpener (it's about the same age and doesn't seem to sharpen the pencils all that well anymore).

Spent the rest of the evening at home. I worked on my Scott White fanfiction for a few hours. An old peddler woman sells Scott a comb that seems to be harmless. He passes out after using it in his hair. Hilary, Eugenia, and Mr. Foley find him on the floor. While the women revive him, Foley discovers that the comb was poisoned. Hilary swears they'll keep a better eye on him from now on. She can't afford to lose an actor.

Meanwhile, Pruitt now thinks Scott is dead. He can concentrate on Maple, who lied to him about killing Scott, and Betty, who is getting a little too close to the truth about his land-grabbing scheme...

Ran an episode of Moonlighting while making Chicken Legs poached in red wine vinegar sauce and sauteed Chinese beans for dinner. "Maddie Hayes Got Married" when she comes back from Chicago with her new husband Walter Bishop in tow. Walter's a genuinely nice guy whom everyone ends up liking, even David. Dave insists on having a wedding for Maddie and a bachelor's party for Walter. Walter doesn't mind, but Maddie seems rather reluctant to join in.

Maddie's not the only one who's having problems with her wedding. Shemp Howard's not happy about getting married either in the Three Stooges short "Brideless Groom." Shemp has to get hitched by 6 PM or lose an inheritance. At first, he has problems getting women to come near him...but after Moe gets his story in the paper, he has trouble getting them away!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stories, Stories, and More Stories!

I awoke to a cloudy, humid morning. It looked like it may have rained last night or early this morning (my porch was very wet), but by the time I was up and around, the precipitation was long gone. I had a quick breakfast while watching a couple of summer-themed shorts. Mickey and Minnie enjoy a summer of vaudeville acts, hand-cranked cars, and old-fashioned melodrama in one of my favorite later color Mickey shorts, "The Nifty Nineties."

Did some Max & Ruby while getting ready for work. "Max's Froggy Friend" wants to join Max and Ruby for tea. Ruby keeps trying to tell her brother froggies and tea parties don't mix. Froggy keeps following them anyway.

"Max's Music" is a bit different than his sister's. Ruby, Valerie, and Louise want to play as a trio, but it's Max who helps them harmonize.

"Max Gets Wet" when he tries to use the hose to fill his pool. Ruby would rather the hose be used to give her garden a drink. Ruby's the one who comes up with a solution that makes everyone - including her garden - happy.

Work was the same as it has been - off and on steady. During the down times, I worked on yet another Remember WENN fanfiction idea. This one has some real potential to become a big thing. It'll be my second, darker WENN fantasy story and possibly my second novel-length WENN story. During the mid-third season, Betty has to come up with a fantasy-based show for a new sponsor. As usual with Betty, her own problems keep intruding.

The show becomes the tale of a peasant woman (Betty) who has to save her home when it's on the verge of being devoured by the Shadow Realm and its King of Darkness (Pruitt). Its real king has vanished, and the warrior prince who had been defending the land in his place was proved to be a fraud. As the peasant explores the land, she encounters many creatures and strange beings who offer to help her. Her greatest ally is a mysterious black-haired stranger who only appears in the darkness and stays in the shadows, following her and protecting her from the evil King and his minions. Among those minions is another mysterious figure with a long face and thinning brown hair, one who can only stay in the light...

I definitely want to finish my current Scott "Snow White" story and do the Betty "Little Mermaid" story next. I've learned my lesson about not finishing things. I may start this one after the Betty mermaid story and wait on Hilary's "Beauty and the Beast" and the two Victor stories, Captain Victor, Man of Power and his King Arthur fairy tale, until the fall.

My relief was nearly late, which meant I was nearly late when I got out. It was a bit sunnier when I got out, not really that hot, but very humid. Thankfully, it looked like the rain had remained at bay. It was perfectly dry when I finally rode home.

Called Mom and Dad when I got in. I hadn't talked to anyone on their side of the family in a while. Dad's still recovering from his knee surgery, and it sounds like he and Mom are driving each other crazy being stuck at home together. And they are stuck. Mom revealed why we've been so dead lately. I was right - everyone did go to the Shore. The roads in Cape May County have apparently been a nearly impassable mess. They haven't been hit with nearly as much rain as we have. The rain that'll pour on us for a half-hour keeps rolling by them. Mom's been busying herself making pinafores and dresses for her new granddaughter Lilah. She was working on a pinafore as we talked. What she really wants to do is go back to the Ferry, but she used up all her hours for the year and might not get back until January.

Worked a little bit on Scott White and the Seven Actors after I let Mom go. Pruitt's incensed that Jeff and Mackie were able to chase his men off and save Scott. He decides to employ a more subtle method of disposing of his unwanted stepson. He recruits his secretary Miss Cosgrave to dress as a peddler selling combs...including one with poison on it...

Pan-fried some cod, onions, and tomatoes, then sliced the cod into strips for fish tacos for dinner. Watched an episode of Garfield and Friends while enjoying my meal. Garfield, Jon, and Odie hit the road for these two first-season tales. Cactus Jake, the old-fashioned cowboy, appears in his first of five episodes on the show, "Polecat Flats," in the first story. Jon and Garfield are visiting a dude ranch, mainly to impress women. The girls aren't impressed when the ranch's owner Cactus Jake keeps teasing Jon over his fancy outfits and city slicker ways. Garfield uses a wild horse to make Jake look even more foolish.

"Brain Boy" is the son of a very boring cousin of Jon's. Garfield would rather eat raisins than spend the afternoon with this bratty mad scientist. He makes his robots and machines attack the two pets, then whines that the animals ruined his machines. Garfield finally finds a way to turn the tables on him.

Orson the Pig also turns the tables on a bully in "Hogules." Orson is terrified when Roy reveals that his brothers are coming to visit. Orson's brothers are obnoxious bullies who pick on him and wreck havoc whenever they're around. Inspired by the Greek myths he was reading Booker and Sheldon, Orson finds a way to turn the tables on his brothers and scare them into thinking he's every bit as strong as the warrior in the stories.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Take Me Along

Began a hot, sunny morning with Blackberry Pancakes and some old-time music. Evidently, the Dorothy Provine Roaring 20's soundtracks were so popular, they dug further back and had her do an album of even older music from about 1890 to 1919, Oh You Kid! My favorite numbers are the comediennes' songs - "Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay," "Rings On My Fingers," "I Don't Care."

Work was busier than yesterday, but still not overwhelmingly so for a Sunday. Other than a few annoying people, there were no major problems. There was a bit of a mix-up leaving. I thought the manager said I had a relief; evidently, I didn't. I did get out on time.

I had considered doing the laundry tomorrow or Tuesday, but the weather is supposed to get hotter and more humid. I figured, since I didn't have any other major plans, I might as well get it done today. I'm glad I did. It was pin-drop quiet when I arrived. Even the golf on TV wasn't making that much noise. I didn't have a really big load, anyway. By the time more people started to arrive, my load was in the dryer.

When I got in, I put everything away, then went right in the bath. Ahhh. I really enjoyed that. It was nice to cool off and relax after work and an enjoyable week. I looked over more recent cake decorating catalogs and listened to one of my big band collection CDs.

After I finished, I had leftovers for dinner while listening to my LP of the original cast of Take Me Along. This is the stage musical version of Ah Wilderness! Sid, the drunk uncle, gets a little more stage time here, thanks to him being played by Jackie Gleason. Robert Morse plays the son who thinks he knows everything about life, until he finds himself in a saloon with a floozy one night. Walter Pidgeon is his newspaper publisher father. Not the greatest musical, but some of the music is cute, especially Pidgeon and Gleason on the title song.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Bear Called Paddington

Began a hot, sunny day with a couple of black and white Mickey Mouse shorts set around the beach or summer. Mickey and Minnie encounter some "Wild Waves" that pick up Minnie and carry her out to sea. Mickey rescues her, then cheers her up with the help of some friendly local animals.

"The Picnic" starts out as a lovely day for Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto (then called Rover). They have fun singing and dancing while Pluto chases the wildlife. A downpour spoils their meal, but Pluto does come up with a way to help them see their way home.

Mickey and Pluto are "Fishin' Around" in the middle of a pond, trying to enjoy a relaxing day. Things just don't seem to go right for the duo. The fish won't cooperate and steal the bait. Mickey ignored a sign that said "no fishing"...and a local cop doesn't like that one bit!

Headed off to the Collingswood Farm Market around 10:30. Even that late, they were packed elbow-to-elbow with people looking for produce, cheese, and meats for their barbecues and birthday parties. The fall harvest has just begun making it's debut; I saw the first yellow apples and spaghetti squash of the year today, along with the first sugar plums. I ended up with blueberries, blackberries, a beautiful olive green and brick red heirloom tomato, small peaches, and brown mushrooms.

Made a quick stop at WaWa for eggs and a Peach Nectarine Sparkling Ice before heading home. I had the other half of the chicken wrap from Chick Fil'A last night while watching a few more cartoons. "The Beach Party" begins well for Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Clarabelle Cow, and Horace Horsecollar. They go swimming in the ocean and enjoy a huge picnic lunch...until Pluto mistakes an octopus' leg for his sausages. Now they have to use the remains of their lunch to get rid of that pesky eight-legged critter!

Wally Walrus isn't having a much easier time with Woody Woodpecker in "The Beach Nut." Surfer Woody keeps disrupting his day at the beach. He chases him onto the boardwalk, where Woody poses as a mind reader to get to Wally's head.

Work was busier than yesterday, though still not overwhelming. Most people were shopping for parties or going to or coming from vacation. Other than a few grouchy people, there were no major problems, and my relief was actually early.

I went straight home. As soon as I got in, I changed into my bathing suit, grabbed my towel, and rode over to Dad's house to go swimming. Dad and Jodie weren't home, but I did wave to Jodie's son Jesse, who was reading on the porch. There was a family with two tiny children no more than two in the shallow end of the pool; they were likely neighbors. I swam in the deep end to keep from disrupting the little guys. It was once again almost 90 degrees in the pool, and it felt absolutely wonderful.

When I got home, I made turkey tacos with onion and cherry tomatoes while watching Paddington. An explorer once visited a group of very intelligent bears in Darkest Peru and taught them about London, English ways, and that tasty spread known as marmalade. Years later, the bears, having lost their home, sends the youngest member to take the explorer up on the offer and visit London. The Brown family finds him at the Paddington train station and take him home. They dub the little bear "Paddington" after the train station. The kind-hearted mom (Sally Hawkins) takes to him right away. The kids and the dad (Hugh Bonneville) have a harder time with him; he's clumsy and knows little about human or British ways. He finally starts to warm up to the family, even the overprotective Mr. Brown, when a house fire makes him look suspect again. When he heads out to find the explorer, the Browns realize how much they miss him. They're not the only ones interested in the sweet little bear, though. A nasty taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) thinks Paddington would be the perfect addition to her stuffed creature collection and will do anything to get him in her clutches.

This was a surprise hit last winter, with critics and audiences. I'm glad. I've always been a fan of Paddington. I have a two-foot stuffed Paddington my grandparents gave me when I was a toddler on my bed as I write this, and I found a treasury of all the Paddington books at a yard sale a few years ago. They did the source material justice. This is a really adorable movie, filled with just as much wonder and gentleness as Paddington himself. The performances were spot-on, especially Ben Whitshaw as Paddington. If you've got kids who are bear lovers like me, or are just looking for a really good family movie, this one is highly recommended and just plain sweet.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer at WENN

Started off another gorgeous morning finishing up Wonder Woman and "The Phantom of the Roller Coaster" while eating breakfast and making Fresh Peach Muffins. Diana Prince has discovered that the spies intend to destroy the amusement park's most popular coaster in order to convince the owner to sell. The "Phantom" and his orphan apprentice have no desire to allow this to happen...and neither does Wonder Woman.

Spent the next hour and a half or so working on my fanfiction. Pruitt sends several of his goons to go after Scott and attack him in any way they can. The goons ambush Scott, Jeff, and Mackie on the way back from a trip picking up supplies for costumes. The goons try to throttle Scott by wrapping scarves around his neck, but Jeff and Mackie head them off. But Pruitt wants to try again, this time making it look more like an accident...

It was too nice of a day to hang out inside. Not to mention, Charlie was working on the plumbing - it was off and on all morning. I went for a walk to WaWa around 12:30. I was going to get eggs, but the price had jumped to $2.99. I just ended up buying a Cherry Limeade-Coke Icee. (The price was even worse at the Acme. I'll go back to WaWa for eggs tomorrow.)

When I got in, I ran a quick episode of Remember WENN as I ate leftovers for lunch and got ready for work. Roguish station manager Scott Sherwood claims he's "Scott Sherwood of the F.B.I" to impress his Aunt Agatha in a late second season episode. Writer Betty Roberts tries to help keep up the illusion....but Aunt Agatha has her own surprises to dish out to her nephew.

Work was pretty much the same as it has been the past few weeks - busy when I came in, off-and-on quiet for the rest of the afternoon. Once again, there were no major problems. My relief, one of the newly-hired college girls, was on time.

I'm not terribly happy with my schedule next week. On the upside, a few more hours. Not crazy about the 9 to 2 next Wednesday, or that my second day off won't be until Friday. (Although, considering my schedule the week of the 4th of July, at least I have as second day off.) I'm hoping things pick up this week as we get closer to the beginning of the month and the college kids going back to school.

After my big shopping trip on Tuesday, I didn't really need much in the way of groceries, I loved those Blueberry Newtons so much, I decided to try two more flavors, Triple Berry and Strawberry. Quaker Oatmeal cereals are still on sale; went with Cinnamon Life this time. I grabbed flour tortillas for tacos tomorrow. Used the last of the sugar on the Fresh Peach Muffins - that was the only thing I bought that wasn't on sale.

Opted for dinner at Chick Fil'A. It was quarter after 6 by the time I made it there. While the line for the pick-up window was half-way around the building, the line indoors wasn't anywhere near as bad. I had waffle fries, a Diet Coke, and half of a Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap. (I'll have the other half for lunch tomorrow.) I finished the Coke outside on the patio, watching the long line of cars await their meals.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Winds of Summer

Finally finished The Wind Rises during breakfast this morning. Jiro (English voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man who is in love with airplanes. He's too nearsighted to become a pilot, so, inspired by an Italian airplane designer (Stanley Tucci) who keeps appearing in his dreams, he sets out to become an aeronautical engineer. This, however, is Japan between the World Wars. It's still very much a backwards country, where oxen pull airplanes to the hangers. Jiro meets a young girl named Naoko (Emily Blunt) on a train  and helps her and her nurse out during the devastating Tokyo earthquake of 1923.

He spends the next ten years working for Kurokawa (Martin Short), a short, grouchy fellow whose hair always seems to be two steps from taking off. Kurokawa gradually comes to respect Jiro, even sending him to Germany to study their advanced designs. Jiro finally meets Naoko again at a hotel back in Japan. Though they spend a happy summer together, he discovers she has tuberculosis and may only live a few months. He insists on marrying her, despite the protest of Kurokawa and Jiro's sister Kayo (Mae Whitman). Jiro, however, is hard at work on a new plane design for the coming war. Even as the design proves to be a success, the moment is marred by tragedy...

I loved this movie. I thought this was one of the most touching, sweet, and thoughtful animated films I ever saw. I also enjoy learning about 20th century history, and it was nice to see the 20's and 30's from a different perspective than you normally do in the US. This was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2014 and probably only lost because it was competing with Frozen. (I love that one, too - talk about your impossible choices!)

I will point out that first of all, this movie is not appropriate for children. There's a lot of talk of war, the real-life Tokyo earthquake and all the devastation it caused, the Great Depression, Nazi Germany, and the main female character coughs up blood at one point. Second, Jiro is building planes that ultimately killed a lot of people, both Japanese and American, even if he didn't like it. Third, though I found the love story to be touching, a lot of people thought it was tacked on and a little too melodramatic. Also, the biopic part is quite fictionalized. (For one thing, in real life, Jiro was apparently neither a smoker, nor had a dying wife.)

If you enjoy other Studio Ghilbi work, animation that skewers more towards adults, the history of Japan or the 20th century or airplane design, or just a good old-fashioned tragic romance, I highly recommend the last work of Hayao Miyazaki and his groundbreaking studio. It may not be fantasy, but it's beautiful work nevertheless.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on my fanfiction. Scott convinces the rest of the acting troupe to dress as ghosts to scare the goons off. Thankfully, the goons aren't too bright, and they pull it off. They run right to their boss to tell him what they saw. Pruitt's not too happy that his stepson seems to be alive. He wants his boys to try again, maybe a little more subtle this time...

Work was exactly the same as yesterday - steady early on, quiet later. I'm hoping things will pick up a bit this weekend and next week as we get closer to the beginning of the month. Besides, it was another gorgeous day, sunny and a bit warmer, but not nearly as hot or humid as Monday. This was hardly a day to go shopping. My relief was actually a bit early, and I was in and out with no problems.

When I got home, I made scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms for dinner, then made my favorite one-bowl Fudgy Brownies recipe. Ran the first half of the series finale of Wonder Woman as I worked. Diana Prince has her hands full dealing with a missing orphan and a wealthy industrialist who wants to buy an amusement park to use as the base of his spying operations. A strange monster-like figure seems to be lurking under the roller coaster, stopping the industrialist's plans. Wonder Woman has to find out who "The Phantom of the Roller Coaster" is, before the kid or anyone else gets into trouble.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's a Beautiful Day, Charlie Brown

It was absolutely gorgeous when I got up this morning, sunny, breezy, and in the lower 80's. I began a beautiful morning with a sports-themed Peanuts special from the mid-70's. You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown takes us to the world of the decathlon. Peppermint Patty trains Marcie and Chuck to run for their school in ten events. They're competing against the bragging Freddie Fabulous from Fremont and the rather familiar The Masked Marvel. For once in his life, it looks like Charlie Brown may have a chance to win it all...if he can keep his eye on the track...

Worked on fanfiction for an hour after the cartoon ended. No sooner has Scott settled in than the Valiant Journey Acting Troupe is attacked by goons who want them to pay their bills, or else! Scott comes up with a plot to get the goons off their backs that wins the admiration of the entire troupe and a spot as an actor and stagehand.

Greeted Charlie, my neighbors' son, on my way out. He's still trimming trees. Today he did the remaining ones around my apartment, including branches that were over my porch. I'm hoping eliminating the branches will either get rid of or at least discourage the carpenter ants I've had problems with in the kitchen for years.

I volunteered at Studio LuLoo around 11. I haven't been there in weeks. I've mostly worked too early on Wednesdays and Thursdays to go then, but there was one day I flat out forgot. At any rate, they mostly needed help cleaning today before kids arrived for their summer day camp programs. I washed all the windows I could reach (the play room seems to be mostly being used for storage at the moment) and swept the sidewalk. I also admired the cherry tomato plants and flower boxes that were attracting happily buzzing bees and wasps.

Headed out as soon as the kids arrived. When I got home, I had Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins for lunch while watching more Peanuts. You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown takes us from track and field to the noisier and more dangerous world of motor cross. Chuck joins a motor cross race with Peppermint Patty and the Masked Marvel, among others. Patty and the Marvel are determined to win the big prize, but it's Charlie Brown who proves that slow and steady really does win the race.

Work was steady when I came in, dead thereafter, pretty much the same as it's been for weeks. It's the middle of the week and the middle of the month, and a beautiful day to boot. After the weather the last few days, most people probably went to the Shore, or were at least spending time outside. There were no major problems, and my relief was right on time.

I had leftovers for dinner while watching The Wind Rises. I didn't get a chance to finish it - I'll go more into that one tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Fairy and the Beast

This time, I slept in a bit. I mostly spent the morning once again working on fanfiction. I didn't get very far. The others have joined Jeff, Mackie, and Mr. Foley in the carriages. Hilary, who is the head of the acting troupe, asks Scott what he can do. He pretty much says "a little of everything" and explains that he's on the run from his stepfather. Hilary's not convinced, but the others remind her that they do need more help. She finally allows him to stay.

Charlie spent the morning cutting down trees outside, including a slender one right across from my bedroom window. I'd long suspected that tree wasn't in good shape. I used to watch spiders make webs on dead branches. There only seemed to be leaves on the very top. I was right - there was a large hole in the stump that indicated it had probably been dying for years.

I didn't get going until nearly 1 PM. My first stop was a quick look at the Oaklyn Library. Since they close at 2, they weren't that busy. I took a look at the DVD's and organized some of the kids' series books and picture books. I was in and out in a half-hour.

Had lunch at Jalapeno's Grill across from WaWa. It was past 1:30. The only other people there were two other guys eating solo. They had the same thing I did - the 5 dollar three-taco lunch special deal that comes with a soda. I had chicken tacos with a Diet Coke. The tacos came without dressing, but the salsa from the free tortilla chips tasted good on them. I do wish the waitress hadn't taken ten minutes after I washed my hands to bring my receipt over. She wasn't even doing anything, just messing around in the kitchen and talking to the other guy.

When I finally got out, I headed straight for the Haddon Township Library. They were bustling today, and there were tons of things to do. Even with lots of kids' DVDs to shelve, there was plenty of room for them all. The S titles even fit. The adult titles were still overloaded. There was a small pile I couldn't get in. I also shelved audio books, a stack of CDs, and a full cart of new releases.

For the first time in weeks, I took out a couple of movies. They had last spring's version of Paddington, along with the newest releases for the Disney Fairies movie series (TinkerBell and the Legend of the NeverBeast) and one of the newest for the just-closed Japanese anime film makers Studio Ghilbi (The Wind Rises). Grabbed another John Wayne/John Ford movie I hadn't seen, Fort Apache, to continue that theme.

There was a lot of things I needed that I forgot on Friday or ran out after then and couldn't live without. I stopped at the Westmont Acme on the way home. They were having a really good sale on the 11.5 oz Hellmann's Mayo in the squeeze bottles with the new, larger caps. I prefer the bottles to the jars. They come in Light, and I really don't need a ton of mayo. Ran out of tissues and pads yesterday, and my milk's getting low. For some reason, Acme has its entire stock of light bulbs on clearance. I bought two of the Acme generic 13 watt bulbs for the shocking price of $1.74 each! Treated myself to some mango cupcakes on clearance, too.

I dodged the traffic on Cuthbert and rode home across Newton Lake Park. Despite the cloudy and killer humid weather (not to mention the algae on the lake), there were still plenty of fishermen leaning against the wooden rails or standing on concrete walkways, trying to make the catch of the day. Kids played on the swings at the playground; their older siblings sat on the window at the stone shelter and enjoyed one another's company.

As soon as I got in, I went right in the bath. Ahh. That felt very nice after a humid day today and a killer hot one yesterday. I once again listened to jazz and read Can't Help Singin'.

Made a grilled cheese sandwich with farm-market fresh tomato and cucumber slices as I watched Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast. Fawn is an animal fairy who specializes in taming difficult or dangerous creatures. This doesn't always go over well with her fellow fairies, especially the scout fairies who protect Pixie Hollow. Though Fawn swears she'll be more careful in the future after a baby hawk causes harm in the Hollow, she can't help herself when she finds tracks and fur that indicate an animal in distress. And not just any animal, but a strange, furry beast, who seems to have arrived after a green glowing comet landed in Never Land. Fawn likes her odd new friend, even if she doesn't understand why he's building those stone towers. The scout fairies, however, find a legend that proves that the NeverBeast may be a threat to Pixie Hollow. Are they right, or is Fawn's furry buddy as gentle as she claims?

A sweet end to a series that's been a pleasant surprise for me throughout. It's too bad Disney's apparently giving up on the Fairies movies. I've really enjoyed them, and this one is no exception. As with The Pirate Fairy, though another character is in the spotlight, Tink and her buddies are in there too, especially towards the end. I also liked how, unlike Pirate Fairy, no one character was played as a villain. Neither the scout fairies nor the Beast were really bad. They were just doing what they were meant to do to protect Never Land. If you or your daughter loved the other movies in this series, this one makes for a touching finale.

And it did finally rain heavily...around 8:30, by which time I was just going online. I think it's supposed to clear out by tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hot Day at Home and In the Pool

Charlie showed up even before 9 AM. Seems he's the one who does the plumbing and fixing around the house. The leak turned out to be minor, and he was able to repair it. He put paper towels underneath just in case it drips again...but I think my pots and pans work even better. (Though I did leave the paper towels, just in case.)

Ran Garfield In Paradise while eating breakfast. Garfield wishes he wasn't on his way to Paradise World, the only tourist trap Jon could afford. While their hotel turns out to be a disaster area, the beach is a lot more fun. Things get really hairy when their 50's-era rental car takes them to a tribe of Doo Wop-worshiping natives...and a volcano about to explode!

I read stories Lauren and I worked on while Charlie was here and afterwards. Didn't get to the laundromat until around quarter after 11. Waiting may have been a mistake. It was busy as heck when I arrived. I did get a washer, but there were barely any dryers. I listened to The Price Is Right and ignored the local news fussing about the extreme heat. Read the last of the History Mysteries Lauren gave me last month while I was there, Circle of Fire. This harrowing story depicted a young African-American girl and her white guy friend who work together to stop a group of Klan members from blowing up Eleanor Roosevelt during a speech in Tennessee in 1958. It was a harrowing and touching story,  by far the best of the four Lauren gave me.

I went home, put everything away, then went back out. I really didn't have much around for lunch. I ended up having a Big Papa hoagie - turkey, roast beef, tomatoes, onion, lettuce, and mayo (I left off the sweet peppers - too messy) - for lunch with a can of Diet A&W Root Beer. Stopped at WaWa on the way back for a mint chocolate chip milkshake.

Spent the next two and a half hours working on Scott White and the Seven Actors. The kindly chief of the Indian tribe has recommended Scott look into an audition with a small troupe of traveling players who might be able to get him back to town under Pruitt's nose. He catches up with their carriages, only to find the carriages open and them out rehearsing. He passes out on a bunk in a carriage while he waits for them. Three of the members of the troupe, Jeff, Mackie, and Mr. Foley, think there's a robber. They threaten Scott with Foley's prop gun, and are surprised to find a decent, fairly amused guy who just wants a job rather than a desperate desert tramp.

Went to Dad's around four to go for a swim, pick up my cake pan (which I used for the cupcakes from their party), and say "hi" to them. I've been meaning to get over there for weeks, ever since the week after the Fourth of July, but either I had other plans, or was busy, or the weather got bad. Dad and Jodie were finishing their laundry. They were going to a memorial service for a friend's father a bit later. Dad's going into surgery to have his new vocal equipment added later this week. He'll need a feeding tube for a while, which he's not happy about.

Jodie said Khai and some of the neighbors were in the pool earlier, but by 4:30, I pretty much had it to myself. I couldn't believe how warm the pool was. According to the new thermometer, the water in the pool was 90 degrees when I got in. The hot air outside felt less warm! It was lovely to be able to swim and relax and enjoy myself. I can't remember the last time I was in the pool alone. I did accidentally snap one of the rods that held the shape of that blue mesh-and-vinyl raft, but I told Dad and Jodie and apologized. I hope they can fix it.

Wasn't up for much more than a cod fillet with yellow squash and grape tomatoes in apple cider sauce and a couple of episodes of The Red Skelton Show when I got home. I did two of the later hour-long shows from the 60's. Of those, my favorite was the hilarious tale of how an elderly explorer (Ed Wynn) discovered Freddie the Freeloader (Skelton) to be his long-lost son and took him to Africa. Hard to believe Wynn was 80 when he did that episode - they both looked like they had a great time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pipe Dreaming

Shortly after I posted last night's entry, I was putting pans away when I discovered two of them had some water in the bottom. I keep the pans in the area under the sink; the pipe for the sink is above them. I ran my hands over the pipe; yes, it was wet. It was too late to do anything last night. First thing this morning, though, I called my next-door neighbors to tell them about the problem.

I alternated between trying to wipe down the pipe and make breakfast. I just had simple Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes. For all the trouble, they came out pretty well, nice and moist. I filled a deep pot with water and used it to wash off the dishes. I just barely used the water in the sink. It didn't help. The leak just started to get worse.

Listened to Hello Dolly to cheer myself up during breakfast. I love the late 60's Pearl Bailey-led cast album. She makes a wonderfully pushy matchmaker. Cab Calloway isn't bad as her cranky Horace Vandergelder. I'm especially fond of the versions of "Ribbons Down My Back" and "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" here, as well as the opening number that introduces Dolly and her matchmaking, "I Put My Hand In."

I just barely had enough time to write out the rent check and a letter explaining about my lost outside keys (I think Charlie may have accidentally blown them off the porch when he cleaned the other day) and leave it next-door before hurrying to work! Once again, work was busy when I came in, steady-to-quiet the rest of the afternoon. It was so quiet by 4 PM, I was able to shut down without a relief. (Mine was the college boy who is always late coming from his second job.)

It was too hot and humid to be hanging around outside. I went straight home. Richard popped his head out of the McHughs' side door. He ended up calling a real plumber and settled for taping the pipes for now. The plumber will be here around 9 tomorrow. Richard did end up fixing the handles on the front screen door that have been coming off since Christmas, though.

After I got inside, I spent a blissful hour and a half in a cool bathtub. Ahhhh. I needed that so badly. It felt wonderful to kick back and relax while listening to jazz and reading Can't Help Singin'.

Put on my original cast LP for The Music Man as I had quick leftovers for dinner. Robert Preston and Barbara Cook headline one of my very favorite musicals, the tale of a con-man (Preston) who comes to a small Iowa town to sell non-existent boys' band uniforms. Like Scott Sherwood, the con-man learns a lesson in love and telling the truth when he falls for a smart lady, in this case the local librarian (Cook) who has been ostracized by most of the locals for stocking intellectual novels the townspeople find too shocking. The two think they have nothing in common, but when a real salesman comes into town ready to give the game away, it's the librarian who helps the con-man bring the band and the town together.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wild Wild Toons

Began a cloudy, cool morning with more F-Troop. "The Return of Bald Eagle" has everyone in Fort Courage keeping a close eye on their scalps. Bald Eagle (Don Rickles) is a wildcat who, unlike most Hikawis, prefers to kill any soldiers he gets his hands on. It takes Parameter's intervention after he kidnaps him to find out what's really bothering him.

animated shorts set in the Wild West. "Drip Along Daffy" may be the most famous of the Looney Tunes western-themed shorts. Daffy and Porky spoof Roy Rogers-style oaters as the virtuous hero and the goofy grizzled sidekick respectively. The duo intend to clear a nasty bandit out of town...but only one of them is able to figure out how to really do it.

Bugs heads west in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again." He's the only one in town brave enough to take on Yosemite Sam, the toughest, roughest bandit in town. The town ain't big enough for the two of them, but a train to Miami may offer some incentive for leaving...

The Pink Panther has his own problems keeping the Pacific Northwest free of trouble in "Trail of the Lonesome Pink." Two trappers want to do serious harm to his forest friends and accidentally trap his tail. He recruits snapper turtles and other forest animals to get rid of them.

Headed to the Collingswood Farm Market around 10:30. Despite it being cloudy and cool, it was also incredibly humid. You could cut the air with a knife. That didn't do much to keep the crowds away. The summer harvest abounds now. They have every type of tomato you can possibly find on the stands. Lettuce and spinach are gone, but I saw the first melons and small peaches of the year. I bought blueberries, Chinese beans, two small organic cucumbers, a small watermelon, and the aforementioned small peaches.

Went straight home after leaving Collingswood. It was too humid to linger! When I got in, I ran more cartoons while having Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins for lunch.

Woody Woodpecker appeared in a long list of western-themed shorts (possibly because the studio that put out the Walter Lantz shorts, Universal, did quite a few westerns) starting with "Wild and Woody." Drifter Woody is made the new sheriff the moment he comes into town. He's elated, until he realizes that bandit Buzz Buzzard has been killing off sheriffs. Their battle of wits comes to an explosive conclusion by a burning stove.

"Puny Express" is somewhat similar. This time, the job Woody wants - and Buzz wants to stop - is mail carrier. Woody has to get the mail through on the Pony Express, no matter what!

"Scalp Treatment" isn't quite as PC today. Native braves Woody and Buzz both want to impress a pretty Indian maiden. When she says she wants a feathered Indian hat, Buzz tries to scalp Woody for his feathers!

Work was busy when I came in, steady-to-quiet when I left. The sun started coming out about an hour after I arrived, which may have encouraged people to head outside, humidity or no humidity. There were no major problems, and my relief, one of the new college girls, was on time.

Did more western Woody as I had the last of the the meatballs and cucumber salad for dinner as a meatball sandwich with sauteed cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. We're back in the northwest for "Operation: Sawdust." Woody and Buzz are this time competing to see first who can get to Chef Wally Walrus' big dinner spread first. (Incidentally, this would be Wally's last appearance in a Woody short until the 1960's TV show episode "Spook-a-Nanny.")

"Hot Noon" has fun with the Gary Cooper classic High Noon. Once again, Woody finds himself a reluctant sheriff who has to deal with Bandit Buzz. This time, he's cheered on by a pretty senorita.

Woody's a "Square Shootin' Square" when bandit Dapper Denver Dooley tosses a bag of stolen money into his tree. He thinks he has it made...until Dapper Denver wants it back.

Woody turns the legend of Davy Crockett on its ear when "Woody Meets Davy Crewcut." Tired of being chased, a bear encourages Davy to shoot at woodpeckers instead. Naturally, Woody doesn't take this lying down!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Salad Days of Summer

Started another gorgeous morning baking Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins and watching Dark Command. Republic Pictures was mainly known for serials and cheesy B westerns, but they could occasionally come up with some really good material, like this thoughtful western from 1940. John Wayne is a Texas cowhand who comes to Lawrence, Kansas with a grizzled old dentist (Gabby Hayes) to rile the locals enough into giving up a few loose molars to Burnette's business. Wayne initially isn't happy, until he sees the lovely daughter of the local banker (Claire Trevor). He pursues her, helped by her younger brother (Roy Rogers), despite her having a beau in the local school teacher (Walter Pidgeon). When Pidgeon loses the election for marshal to Wayne, he becomes a bandit, then a guerrilla fighter when the Civil War breaks out. Wayne can't seem to bring him in...until he and his men threaten Lawrence and its citizens.

A surprisingly dark western for Republic with an interesting cast. (This would be, in fact, the only time Wayne and Rogers worked together.) Pidgeon's character is a bit underwritten and turns bandit too quickly; Wayne, Rogers, Trevor, and Marjorie Main as Pidgeon's steadfast mother do much better. This is now on Blu-Ray and DVD from made-to-order company Olive Films; recommended if you enjoy mature westerns like Stagecoach or are a fan of Rogers or Wayne.

Work was much busier than it has been the past few days. It didn't help that I was in the express lane all day. I get very frustrated when I can't keep up with the pace or people start fussing over prices. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by the time I finished that I was able to shut down with no problems.

Good news, bad news for next week's schedule. Good news - decent hours, all afternoon and early evening, with nothing later than 6 again, and once again Monday and Tuesday off. Bad news is, the fact that it's been quiet has finally caught up with my schedule. I have far fewer hours this week than I have in the past few weeks. The weather may have scared a lot of people who would normally be going on vacation into staying home as well. Hopefully, things will pick up once we get closer to the beginning of the month.

Which makes it just as well that I barely had any shopping to do. I bought cans of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup to use as sauce bases. I only picked up Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares, grape tomatoes, and two fillets of cod because they were on especially good sales. I finally bought the dryer sheets I've been forgetting for two weeks. Since it's supposed to get mega-hot starting tomorrow and I enjoyed the ones I bought from Dollar Tree, I indulged in a sale and bought Blueberry Fig Newtons. (And yum - they were good. Thinner than the dollar store fruit bars, but more delicate and flavorful. I think I'll get more later this weekend.)

This time, I had dinner at Muscle Maker Grill. I wanted something different, but their heavy, pasta-based dishes just seemed like a bit too much for me. I opted for the "Hollywood Salad" - grilled chicken on romaine and spinach, with cheese, red onions, and tomatoes, and a zesty French-esque dressing. Yum. Not bad at all, actually. Not surprisingly, given protein is supposed to be their specialty, the chicken in particular was excellent. I enjoyed my salad and Diet Dr. Pepper while listening to ESPN's Sportscenter and watching people stroll by.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Golden Summer

I awoke to a cold apartment. Not cool, cold! I celebrated the beautiful weather with the Backardigans. It's a baking war in old Japan as Master Pie Maker Tyrone teaches apprentice Austin to make awesome pastry in "Samurai Pie." Empress Tasha has demanded "The Great Pie" for her royal dessert. Nothing else will do! Now the two have to make a pie that'll please a picky hippo empress, and keep it out of the hands and flippers of pie-snitching ninjas Uniqua and Pablo!

I spent most of the morning continuing with my story. Scott is finishing his time among the (fictional) Indian tribe. He likes them but doesn't want to stay. He wants to go back to Betty and figure out what's going on with Pruitt, the land purchases, and his mother's death. He's worried about what Pruitt will do to him when he returns, though. It's the tribe's chief who suggests he join a traveling acting troupe that does shows in the area. Not only is a perfect way to hide, but it'll give him more protection from Pruitt's people...and a way back into town.

Work was, once again, dead for most of the afternoon. It got a little bit busy around noon, but otherwise, I stood around a lot. It was too beautiful of a day for people to want to be inside shopping! Other than some cranky customers who wouldn't help bag and one couple who threw a fit when they couldn't get what they wanted on the WIC checks (and didn't end up getting them), there were no major problems. My relief, one of the newly-hired college girls, was on time.

I took the long way home down Nicholson Road. It was too nice outside to rush. What a perfect day! Sunshine, brilliant blue skies, no humidity or haze, barely in the 80's. No wonder there was so much traffic on Nicholson. I dodged quite a few cars going home. (The fact that it was smack in the middle of rush hour probably didn't help.)

When I got in, I had leftovers for dinner, then made those Coconut Macaroon Brownies I bought from Bed Bath & Beyond on Monday. Actually, they're more like "Lemon Squares with a Chocolate crust and a coconut topping." As such, they're very rich....but ooh, soo good. Buttery and just sweet enough, and very chocolate-y!

While the brownies were in the oven, I made a collage. I make a collage from old catalogs once every couple of months, after I've gotten enough catalogs together. It's kind of my way of seeing where I am now and where I want to go...and to recycle a pile of old catalogs.

Ran the original 1939 Stagecoach throughout the evening. This variation on the all-star movie throws together a group of very different people on the title vehicle heading through unfriendly Indian territory. John Wayne, after a decade of B-movies, became a star playing The Ringo Kid, a bandit under arrest who is hoping to avenge the death of his father and brother. Claire Trevor is the former "lady of the night" who falls for him. Thomas Mitchell won an Oscar as a perpetually sozzled doctor. A must-see for fans of Wayne, westerns, or all-star films.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weathering the Showers

Once again, it was pouring when I got up this morning. The rain continued as I had breakfast and watched Sailor Moon episodes. Mimtete of the Witches Five and Rini's friend Hotoru are introduced in the first episode. The Guardians hit a local park to watch one of their favorite movie stars film a western. Mimtete's there, too, but when his fans treat her badly and she sees  him with another woman, she decides it's time for him to give up his pure heart to her monster! Rini has to decide whether to help the Guardians or stay with her friends.

Serena and the Guardians think Rini's new friend is male at first. Serena gets quite an eye-opener when she discovers it's the very female Hotaru. As sweet as she is, Hotaru's a bit suspicious. She lives with a former member of the Witches 5 and can heal with a touch. The girls have other problems as well - Mimtete's victim this time is their favorite local author. She gets to him before they can get his autograph!

It was still raining when I went to work, but not quite as hard as it had been earlier. It slowed down even as I arrived. I was only a little wet when I got to the store. It rained on and off all day, and the weather and probably vacations kept our customers at bay. It was dead as a doornail almost the entire day. I stood around and worked on ideas for the Hilary Beauty and the Beast story. Though it did pick up around 3, it was still slow enough that I was able to shut down with no relief and no need for one.

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon working on my Scott Snow White story. Scott's lost and disoriented in the desert. He passes out, but is found by a friendly local Indian tribe. The tribe had been friends with Scott's family in earlier years. The chief tells him how his father had been a con-man and a wastrel before he settled down with his mother and started his ranch. Scott explains his feelings for Betty and how he wants to settle his mother's murder. The chief suggests getting a job with some other folks who are friendly with them, a nice troupe of actors who live nearby...

Did two episodes of Good Eats as I had leftover salmon and Italian zucchini in balsamic sauce for dinner. "The Pouch Principle" shows how cooking food in a pouch is not only fast and versatile, but can do wonders for its flavor. "The Big Chili" spoofs westerns as two saddle tramps (Alton is one) learn all about how to make the perfect pot of "big red."

The rain was gone by the time of the chili episode. In fact, it had become cloudy, windy, and cool, almost cold. It was the perfect night for a quick baking session. I had some peaches that were getting soft or going bad. I cut the bad parts off, then used the rest to make Quick Peach Crisp. Oh, yummy. It came out divine, sweet and succulent. If there's one thing I do love about summer, it's the produce. There's nothing like Garden State produce in the summer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Rainy Day In Never Land

It had just started to rain as I finished the Daisy Dalyrumple mystery Requiem for a Mezzo and wrote in my journal. It was absolutely pouring by the time I started breakfast. In honor of the weather, I ran a Tiny Toons Adventures first-season episode about stormy weather, "Rainy Daze." In the first short, Montana Max rents friends to abuse during a rainy day. He gets his just desserts when the next friend in line turns out to be Buster, who won't put up with that kind of treatment. Babs shows how to use your imagination to have fun inside when the weather's bad during the second short. Even cleaning your room and taking a bath can be an adventure when you let your imagination run wild! The third short has the two rabbits chasing Gotcha Grabmore, a fur-obsessed poacher who wants a seal-skin coat.

I waited out the rain doing chores around the apartment. I made the bed first. I haven't made it in ages. Who's gonna see it? After that, I did the dishes, then worked on taking notes. Listened to my Coasters' Greatest Hits LP while I took down some of what I have for Betty's fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid." The album ended around the same time I noticed the rain had. I decided it was a good time to get out and get some errands done.

The Oaklyn Library was relatively busy when I arrived. A couple of little girls watched Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons in the kids' area. I mainly concentrated on the DVD's while they were there. With not much else going on, I was in and out in less than a half-hour.

Had lunch at Capitol Pizza. I had my usual slice of mushroom, slice of cheese, and can of Diet Pepsi. Channel 6 Action News was mostly talking about the weather. Thankfully, by quarter of 1, the sun was in and out of clouds. The rain seemed to mostly be in Central New Jersey, between Trenton and the Central Shore area.

I made a couple of quick stops at the Westmont Plaza after lunch. The mayo I wanted at Thriftway was too expensive. I was hoping it was on sale. I'll get it at work. I checked Tuesday Morning for Ever After High dolls. I did see the original release of Cedar Wood there; otherwise, nothing new.

Haddon Township Library was even busier than Oaklyn had been. I guess everyone wanted something to do on a weird weather day. Interestingly, while the adult DVDs were so full I couldn't fit some titles in, the kids' shelves were decimated. Everything fit, even the Scooby Doo titles, with room leftover. The new releases cart was overflowing, too. I had tons to put away there.

I made an interesting video find at the book sale area. A three-video set in an insert from Reader's Digest called The Wonders of Christmas featured the 1983 holiday special The Nutcracker: A Fantasy On Ice. My sisters and I used to love that when we were little. It also had a Christmas concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and what I suspected was a Christmas-themed "background noise" series of instrumental Christmas tunes set to holiday scenes.

Headed home across Haddon Lake Park to avoid the traffic on Cuthbert. They were surprisingly busy for a sticky, humid day. There were a lot of kids out riding their bikes, people sunning themselves, and kids and their parents fishing off the rails or the concrete walkways. The lake is mostly looking better; the dredging machines hired by local officials seem to have gotten rid of most of the algae, except around the fountains.

Made a quick stop at Phillies' Yummies for cinnamon bun ice cream. Most of the kids seemed to be heading for Studio LuLoo or Phillies Phattties. The windows at what used to be Doria's Deli are covered by bamboo blinds. Hopefully, that means they've started remodeling.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at home. The clouds were starting to build again. They did burst somewhere around 5 PM briefly, but otherwise, it was just too humid to be doing any real running around.

Dubbed the Christmas specials while I continued to work on notes for "The Little Mer-Betty." The Nutcracker: A Fantasy On Ice streamlines the story a bit by having it begin after the party where Clara (Dorothy Hamill) receives her nutcracker doll (Robin Cousins) and having a modern grandpa (Lorne Greene) and his granddaughter narrate the story. There's also no Godfather Drosselmyer - the dolls dance and the tree grows on their own. This was probably the first version of The Nutcracker I ever saw, well before I even knew it was a stage ballet. I love the elaborate costumes and some of the more fanciful routines, especially for the World Candy characters in the second half. I don't think this was ever on DVD, but it can be found on YouTube.

Dubbed the other two while dusting the apartment. They both made great background noise as I did my chores. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir alternated between secular and religious Christmas songs, ending with a rousing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." The third tape was kind of a series of music videos - images of snow, Christmas, or Santa set to traditional carols or classic music, some of it (like "Ode to Joy") not even remotely related to Christmas. Both videos were nice to have, but far from essential unless you're a fan of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or choir music in general.

(And I suspect the videos in this set were original three individual releases that were thrown together when Reader's Digest wanted something relatively inexpensive for Christmas. They each had a different opening and closing video label. Vestron seems to have originally released Nutcracker - the others were probably cheap budget releases.)

After I finally got the dusting done and did the windows, I made myself a nice dinner. I've made Chicken Therese from the Eat Up, Slim Down cookbook many times, and it always comes out tasty. Chicken breasts in a low-fat, low-sodium cream of chicken soup-based sauce, with onions, mushrooms, and cooking wine. (It called for dry sherry, but I don't have any.) I had it with steamed peas. Yumm, yum. Salty but delicious, a wonderfully savory meal.

Finished the night dubbing the Mary Martin Peter Pan. This is the 1960 taped, color version of the beloved 1955 musical version of the boy (Martin) who won't grow up and prefers crowing and annoying Captain Hook (Cyril Ritchard) to adult life. He brings three kids from London to Never Land to tell his crew stories. The pirates first capture the princess Tiger Lily of the local Indian tribe to set them against the kids. When Peter rescues her and makes friends with the tribe, Hook goes after the kids instead, intending to poison Peter. What the kids really want is just to go home to their parents and dog Nana...but the pirates may not let them, and Peter certainly doesn't want them to.

I don't know how last year's Peter Pan Live looked, but I do know the original version is as campy a musical comedy as one could wish. You'd think Martin would be a tad bit creepy playing a young boy, but she actually does quite well as Peter - her "Distant Melody" is especially sweet. Ritchard happily hams it up as her adversary. I recommend this one for younger kids - they might get a kick out of the people obviously costumed as animals and very stage-y sets - but do explain that the extremely un-PC Indians were written as they would have been for the kids in the early 1900's. (Including a very blond Tiger Lily.) Campy but cute - if you're offended by the Indians, you might want to steer the kids to the Cathy Rigby version from the 90's or last year's version that toned down their role a bit.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer at the Market Place

Started a hot, sunny day with a quick Three Stooges short while I had Multi-Grain Cheerios with blueberries for breakfast. The Stooges did several western-themed shorts, the earliest being "Horses' Collars." The Stooges are detectives who head west to help a young lady regain the deed to her ranch, which is being held by unscrupulous bandits. When they get in a tight spot, it may take Curly's fear of mice - before the other two bring the cheese out - to save them.

Got the laundry done first around 11:30. It was pretty busy for a Monday, though I was able to get a washer and drier with no problems. I didn't really have a ton to wash, anyway. I only do towels once a month. I was in and out in less than an hour.

I hurried and put everything away, then went right back out. My first stop was Dunkin' Donuts for a Coolatta treat. They have a cookie theme going this month. I went with a Chips Ahoy Coolatta. It was pretty much a Vanilla Coolatta with bits of chocolate chip cookies and cream, but it was cold and sweet and tasty on a hot July day. I gulped it quickly as I headed down the White Horse Pike and across Cuthbert to pick up the bus to Cherry Hill.

The bus was a little late, but not too bad. Since I went to the Cherry Hill Mall with Lauren last month, I opted for the big-box shopping plazas Market Place and Town Center. Pei Wei Asian Cuisine is one of the first stores you see when you come in off the highway. I haven't eaten there since Rose and I went together in January 2010, a few months before Khai was born. They're a dark, simple store with heavy polished wooden tables and chairs. I had the chicken lettuce wraps, two of my favorite Vietnamese Spring Rolls (I love me some spring rolls), and iced tea. Yum. The chicken came on a bed of crunchy rice noodles. The spring rolls came with this reddish dipping sauce that was a little on the hot side. It was messy, but quite tasty.

The main reason I wanted to go to the Market Place was to hit their Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I had two 20% off coupons I wanted to use, one of which was expiring today. The main thing I got was a nice lunch bag. I've been looking around for a new one for months now. My old orange one I bought from the Acme is getting frayed on the edges and is dirty as heck. Surprisingly, given the back-to-school stuff looked like it was just being pulled out, they didn't have much to choose from. I finally found a nice tote-shaped one, with long straps and a pretty teal-brown-and-tan Indian-inspired flower pattern. I also picked up toothbrushes, contact lens cases, a bag of Camp Fire Key Lime-flavored marshmallows, and used the other coupon to treat myself to a fancy box mix for Coconut Macaroon Brownies.

I didn't have nearly that much luck on my next couple of stops. The guy at Dick's said they didn't carry the simple Reebox Classic sneakers I bought the last time I needed errand-running sneakers anymore. I know I saw them at Moorestown. He told me they recently got rid of a lot of shoes and that Reebok is now concentrating on Europe. (Or maybe they're concentrating on online stores? I later found them at Amazon, though I may wait to pick them up until next week.) Couldn't find the second season of Sailor Moon at Best Buy (though they did have the first on Blu-Ray) or their USB sticks.

(I later discovered that the second season of Sailor Moon will be released tomorrow. Oops! I thought it was out last week. No matter. I'll either get it online or at the House of Fun, or I'll wait to hit the Moorestown FYE and Barnes and Noble.)

Hiked down to Barnes and Noble next. They had lots of Ever After High dolls, but the newest ones in stock were for last fall's Spring Unsprung and Through the Woods lines. They had none of the new Signatures I was looking for. (I may have to stick to buying those online as well.) I did end up with two hardbacks off the clearance shelf, the western Little Century and one of the more recent Maisie Dobbs books, Leaving Everything Most Loved.

My last stop was DSW Shoes. They did have both the good walking sandals and the sneakers I was looking for. I wasn't crazy about their prices, though. The Clarks were mostly $70 or more, and the one pair that I liked that were on sale were out in my size. The simplest pair of leather-upper New Balances were $50. I just spent $50 on one pair of sneakers in June. I'm not doing it again for a while.

I considered doing more shopping, but there weren't too many other places for me to go. Justice, the little frozen yogurt shop, and the small toy store all seemed to be gone. I'm not a fan of Talbot's prices or their limited plus size selection. I ended up on the green lawn behind shrubbery to rest and get organized before I caught the 5:30 bus. Turned out that everything I bought from Bed, Bath, and Beyond fit in the lunch tote, much to my delight. The only things that stayed in a plastic bag were the two books. (I also tried the key lime marshmallows. Wow! Boy, were they lime-y. They really tasted like tangy key lime pie.)

The bus was a little late, nothing that horrible considering it was the second half of rush hour. I was back in Oaklyn by 6 and taking out both recycling canisters by quarter of 7. Watched an episode of F-Troop as I ate salmon cakes and cucumber-tomato salad for dinner. Aragorn (Larry Storch) thinks he has "Indian Fever" when he keeps seeing a Native warrior who isn't from the local friendly tribe in his window. Everyone at the fort thinks he's crazy...until their Indian friends reveal that there is a much tougher tribe on the war-path that wants to take on the fort!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Only a Moment Ago

Since I wasn't working until 1, I had the time to really make a decent breakfast for a change. The last couple of strawberries from the sale at the Acme on Fourth of July weekend were starting to get mushy. I cut them up, boiled them in water and sugar, and made strawberry syrup. It sure tasted good over Blueberry Pancakes and the last of the Cocoa Whipped Topping I made for the cupcakes yesterday. Yummy. Summery and oh soo sweet.

Spent the rest of the morning listening to Broadway cast album CDs and catching up on my writing notes. I had 20 pages of random loose papers I'd jotted story ideas down on at work sitting in my notebook! I pretty much have all of Scott White and the Seven Actors worked out. I have most of The Little Mer-Betty and some of Hilary and the Beast. I've just worked out the casting for Victor's King Arthur story - that one may need more research on Arthurian stories before I can get more into it.

I thought this hot, fairly humid day was a good time to catch up on my Broadway shows set around summer or summer resorts. The 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette floated into New York on a wave of early-mid 20th century nostalgia and became the surprise hit of the season. Ruby Keeler, Helen Gallagher, Bobby Van, and Jack Gilford headline this tale of a flapper whose guardian gives her 500 hundred dollars, which upsets her sweetheart. Her guardian is also "helping" three women, but his lawyer ends up taking the heat, much to his wife's annoyance. Actually, my favorite number from this was written for the show but ultimately cut before it reached Broadway. Jack Gilford and Ruby Keeler encapsulate what nostalgia means to so many people in the sweet "Only a Moment Ago."

Steel Pier wasn't nearly as much fun as Nanette and didn't get as lucky on Broadway. The story of a marathon dancer in the early 30's whose partner is a pilot who is a lot more otherworldly than he seems was just too complicated and bizarre to really work. I do like the well-done Atlantic City atmosphere (some real-life AC landmarks, like Fralinger's Candy, are mentioned) and some of the music, especially "Willing to Ride" and "Everybody's Girl."

Work was busy when I came in, and had apparently been busy in the morning. Even as early as 2, the crowds had gone off to barbecues and ball games. We were once again on-and-off steady for the rest of the day. There were no major problems, and it was so quiet by 6:30, I was able to shut down with no relief and no need for one.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer Harvest Time

Began today with cereal and cherries for breakfast while watching a country music-themed episode of The Muppet Show from the 3rd season. Country performers did turn up on the show from time to time, and none were more beloved than big and small screen veterans Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the King and Queen of the Cowboys. The two sang their hits (including favorites like "Deep In the Heart of Texas," "Happy Trails to You," and "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds") while the Muppets tried to figure out what to do with the cows they ordered for the finale.

I hit the Collingswood Farm Market pretty late, around 11. While the produce was fairly picked-over, they did still have some good stock left. The summer harvest season is in full swing - I saw peaches, eggplants, Chinese (long) beans, peppers, and celery for the first time today. I ended up buying peaches, blueberries, a green and a yellow pepper, two ears of corn, and two spring onions with their tops still on. You'd never know it was so late. The lines were still pretty deep in a few places.

Rode around for a while, looking for yard sales. I finally gave up and headed home. I still had things to do, anyway. The topping for the cupcakes for work was first. I made Cocoa Whipped Cream Frosting with cocoa, heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. When I finished that, I swept the porch. I haven't done it in ages. It's not as bad as in the fall, but we are in the midst of pepper nut season, and the occasional branch or leaves or sticker ball leftover from the winter do end up there.

Ran An American Tail: Fivel Goes West while I worked. Fivel Mouskawitz and his family head to the wild west for what they think will be greener pastures, goaded by a seemingly-sophisticated cat who claims mice and cats are friends in the rugged new country. Fivel discovers the truth - the land is barren and difficult to conquer, and the cats are hatching a scheme that'll end with the mice all being killed at once. Meanwhile, Fivel's sister Tanya wishes her singing was more appreciated. The cats' rough saloon ends up being the chance she's been looking for. Tiger the Cat is upset that his girlfriend Miss Kitty has also gone west, looking for a tougher breed of cat. It's up to legendary law dog Wylie Burp to turn Tiger into the strongest law cat around in order to help Fivel save the day!

I'm far fonder of this follow-up to the original An American Tail than I am of the overwrought first film. This musical western has all the humor and charm that much of the depressing first movie lacks. It's also a bit of history - this was James Stewart's last onscreen performance as the voice of Wylie Burp. If you love westerns or want to see the lighter side of 80's-early 90's animation or Fivel and his family, this is highly recommended.

I left for work a little early to enjoy our Summer Barbecue. There was tons of food when I arrived. I saw deviled eggs, two kinds of pasta salad (one with vegetables and a vinegar-based dressing, one with a mayo-based dressing), potato salad from the deli, Waldorf (apple-celery) Salad, a broccoli-cauliflower salad with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, grilled hot dogs, ambrosia, chili, baked beans, and shredded barbecue chicken. Desserts included two cakes (one chocolate, one carrot cake), thumbprint cookies, cheesecake, and my cupcakes. I had the deviled eggs, vinegar veggie pasta salad, broccoli-cauliflower salad, and shredded barbecue chicken on a roll for a late lunch. Dinner included more of the tasty veggie salad, ambrosia, and two hot dogs. Had two slices of carrot cake and a slice of chocolate cake for dessert.

Work was the same it's been all week - on-and-off busy but mostly dead. I did agree to stay an extra hour because several of the just-hired high school kids called out sick. I spent most of that hour standing around, until they finally let me do returns. Needless to say, there were no major problems, and I got in and out just fine.

When I got home, I had time for a nice, relaxing bath before I went online. Lauren's not going to be online until late - she went to see a Weird Al Yankovitz concert in Albany. (She's a big Weird Al fan.) That felt sooo nice. I listened to George Winston's piano versions of Vince Guaraldi's music (including many from the Peanuts specials) and read books on musicals.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Whip-Crack Away!

I was delighted to awaken to a bright, sunny summer morning. It was hot, but breezy, and with no humidity. It was the perfect weather to make Chocolate Cupcakes for the summer party the Acme is having tomorrow. I have a great one-bowl recipe I got out of that Hershey's baking cookbook I found at a yard sale a few years ago. It's absolutely delicious, one of my very favorite cupcake recipes. I threw in the last of the dark chocolate chips for extra flavor.

Ran Calamity Jane as I baked. This musical western takes us to Deadwood in Dakota Territory, where Calamity, a boisterous tomboy (Doris Day), is a sharpshooter and stagecoach driver who has all kinds of crazy stories about fighting Indians. The guys at Deadwood consider her to be one of them...and when she tells them she'll bring the actress from Chicago that they're all crazy about to Deadwood, they know she's as good as her word. Trouble is, Calamity can't tell one bustle-wearin' female from another. She ends up bringing back the actress' maid, Katie Brown (Allyn Ann MacLerie). The men of Deadwood are initially angry when they discover the deception, but Calamity convinces them to give Katie a chance. She even invites Katie to live with her. Calamity's not very happy when both her best guy friend Wild Bill Hickcock (Howard Keel) and the Calvary officer she has her eye on (Phillip Carey) fight over Katie...and it turns out that Katie likes the Calvary officer.

Doris Day's most famous musical is a rousing cross between Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun. What I really like is the surprising twist - this is one time "taming" the tomboy doesn't work. Calamity's just as tough in a fancy gingham dress as she is in dirty buckskins. Indeed, she performs the film's most famous number, the Oscar-winning "Secret Love," in a clean and well-made fringed suit. If you're a fan of Day or musical westerns, I highly recommend this fun tale.

Work was once again mostly dead. It did get a little busy around 2. I guess everyone got out early to head to the Shore. By rush hour, it was dead again. My relief was actually early for a change. Other than a few annoying customers, there were no major problems.

It was too nice to eat anywhere but Sonic for dinner. There were several pairs already enjoying sundaes and sandwiches on the patio when I arrived. I ordered the same thing I had when Lauren visited, a Grilled Chicken Sandwich with tater tots and a cherry limeade. Alas, I spilled half my cherry limeade as I was preparing to head back to the Acme. Most of it ended up on the table, though some splashed on my work pants. Good thing I was going to put those pants in the laundry basket tonight anyway.

I cleaned up the bottom of my pants in the back lounge room at work. I had grocery shopping to do, anyway. I needed to restock sugar - white, brown, and powdered. Meat sales continue. I bought boneless thighs and more of those tasty fish cakes. Picked up heavy cream for the icing I'll make for the cupcakes tomorrow and foil cupcake tins to carry them to work in. Thankfully found boxes of organic Earl Gray and black tea on the clearance shelves, the latter in a very nice tin. (There were no tea sales this week, and I'm just about out.) Grabbed milk and chocolate chips. My Pledge dust cleaner is just about empty, and I needed sponges and bubble bath.

My schedule for next week is almost exactly the same as last week, only I work slightly later on Sunday. Otherwise, it's all late morning and afternoon work, with Monday and Tuesday off again, perfectly normal for this time of year.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Out West With Backyard Kids, Mice, and Baritones

Began a hazy, humid morning with one of my favorite Backyardigans episodes, "Blazing Paddles." Uniqua is the sheriff in Ping Pong Mesa, a town where everyone loves to play ping pong. Tasha, Tyrone, and Austin are its citizens. This little town is a peaceful place...until Bandit Pablo rolls in! He wins all of the kids' paddles, including Uniqua's. She has to hone her ping pong skills in the desert in order to defeat Pablo's "Bandit Slam-It" move and get her job back.

Mickey and Minnie are also heading out west in one of the last black-and-white Mickey shorts, "Two-Gun Mickey." Mickey's a cheeky cowboy who tries to flirt with tough-minded cowgirl Minnie, but she's having none of it. For once, she has the sense to fight with, then run from, nasty bandit Big Pete. When he finally outruns her, Mickey comes to her rescue.

Work was only slightly busier than yesterday. Everyone was worried about a huge storm coming our way. Once again, I stood around quite a bit. I did get a compliment from a very sweet older woman earlier in the day...but I had trouble with WIC checks again. A couple hadn't looked in the right place for the pasta they just started to include on the checks. We had to look three times to find it. And then the check-cashing machine, which hadn't been working that well all day, decided to crash. Taking the plug out and putting it back in helped. My relief was late - I barely got out on time.

I spent the rest of the evening at my apartment, avoiding the smothering humidity. Made a tasty meal of poached salmon on withered spinach and cucumber and tomato salad for dinner. Not bad. I messed up the spinach and put it in at the wrong time, but it still tasted pretty good.

Ran Let Freedom Ring while making dinner. Nelson Eddy steps out of traditional operetta territory for this rousing western tale. He's Steve Logan, a lawyer who returns west to find that his father Tom (Lionel Barrymore) is being run off his land by a corrupt railroad owner (Edward Arnold) and his henchman (Victor MacLaglahn). He seemingly goes along with the railroad owner...but is really posing as The Wasp, who writes newspapers that attack the railroads for being cruel to their immigrant workers. Now Steve has to find a way to get his papers to the public and avoid the railroad men, or they'll put his presses to bed for good!

Gets a little too preachy about Americans' rights at times, but otherwise, not a bad western. If you're a fan of Eddy or Scarlet Pimpernel/Zorro-style secret identity stories are willing to try something a little different out west, check this one out at the Warner Archives.

Oh, and we finally did get a thunderstorm...around 8:30, by which time I was long at home and online. Looks like that'll clear out the precipitation for the rest of the weekend. It may rain a bit early next week - we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Quiet Day In the Rain

I spent most of a humid, gloomy day at work. Work was very boring. We were stone-cold dead for most of the day. The manager kept trying to get us to do stuff...but there was nothing to do. None of the displays on the front end really needed to be organized, and one can only clean so often before there's nothing left to clean. I worked on story ideas, but I got fussed at by the manager for standing there. I wasn't standing there! I was writing. It did pick up slightly later in the afternoon as we got closer to rush hour, enough that I was almost late signing off with no relief. I'm guessing people were either avoiding the rainy weather or still down at the Shore.

A couple of customers had complained about rain, and it was spitting when I came to work. By the time I got out, it was just down to spitting again. It did rain one more time, long after I got online. To my knowledge, it hasn't rained since then.

Spent the rest of the evening having a quick dinner of spinach, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms and vacuuming the apartment and airing the rag rug in my bedroom and the rug in the kitchen. I put this off, too - it drives my nose crazy - but it really did have to be done. I haven't done it since the day Lauren visited.

Ran a quick Bowery Boys movie while I worked and ate. The boys are thrilled when Sach finds a rolled-up newspaper filled with 50,000 dollars. It turns out to be Jinx Money when they discover it was the pay out from an illegal poker game. Now all the gamblers at the game are after the money! Someone carrying an umbrella is bumping the gangsters off one by one. Sach keeps seeing an umbrella with a hand, but no one believes him, including the exasperated cop who is keeping an eye on the case and the Boys.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Summertime Ride

I got a call from Mrs. Stahl around 10 when I was finishing  up my offline journal. She said she wanted to see me at 2, rather than 3. That was fine, too. I asked for today off, and counseling was my only really big plan besides library volunteering.

Since I now had extra time, I spent the morning finally cleaning the kitchen. It was almost as grungy as the bathroom. There was dirt specks in the cabinets - I think the carpenter ants get in there. I'll need to buy more ant traps on Friday, when I do my grocery shopping.

Watched Fairie Tale Theatre's version of "Beauty and the Beast" while cleaning. This lovely episode is unusual in several ways. The sequences with Beauty and her family are the only ones in the show shot on regular film, giving it a different, less soft look than the video-shot portions at the Beast's castle. The story sticks closer to the original French tale than Disney's. Here, Beauty (Susan Sarandon) lives with her two obnoxious and vain sisters (one is Angelica Huston) and her father in a small cottage in the woods. Her father, a merchant, picks one rose from an enchanted garden for his youngest daughter. The rose turns out to be a beast (Klaus Kinski), who will let him go...if Beauty comes to stay with him.

I headed out to run today's errands as soon as I finished the kitchen. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. They, too, were fairly busy for them. There were a couple of people on the computers. A woman and her kids were playing and watching cartoons in the kids' area. I just organized DVDs and moved on.

It was nearly 1 PM by that point. I had to get moving to Haddonfield. Stopped at WaWa first for a large bottle of water (it was humid and very hot, in the lower 90's), then rode to Haddonfield. I just took the road past the Haddon Township Library to Crystal Lake Road, and then Park Avenue into the back roads of Haddonfield. It was lunch hour, and pretty busy. I saw a large group of kids at the bridge between Westmont and Haddonfield - they must have just come from the pool on the other end of Park Avenue. They were wearing bathing suits and laughing and having a grand time.

I got into Haddonfield by 1:30. I needed something fast and decent for lunch. The Indian restaurant Cross Cultures has a lunch buffet that's only $9.98 on weekdays. I thought I'd give it a shot. The main dining area was small but tasteful, with beige walls covered in beautiful Indian tapestries. The "lunch buffet" consisted of silver containers of Indian foods with basmati rice and a salad. I don't remember the names, but I know I tried a chicken curry, and something green with what seemed like chicken or tofu in it. I also had the salad and rice. The bright red chicken was much too hot, but the curry wasn't horrible, and the green stuff was surprisingly tasty. I don't normally like tofu, but that came out pretty well. Ate the four slices of well-buttered naan bread, too.

Counseling was next. I actually ran into Mrs. Stahl as I was crossing King's Highway to her office! She was getting coffee. I looked over a book on folk lore in her lobby while I waited for her. Once she got in, we mostly discussed my busy month. I told her about Lauren's visit, work, my enjoyable 4th of July, and my plans for the summer. While I do want to make my annual day trip to Atlantic City and will probably take a mall trip here and there, I mainly want to concentrate on writing and getting ready to visit Lauren in New England in mid-October. I need new, smaller luggage that rolls and can be carried around bus terminals and train stations, and I'll need to get the tickets soon. I want to take another online writing course, too, since the one I took in the winter and early spring was a big help.

It was still hot as heck when I got out, though windier. I went straight to Primo's Water Ice in Westmont. Needless to say, on a day when the digital sign at the Westmont Fire Company said it was 90 degrees, the place was packed with kids and parents getting a cool treat. I got lucky - the mom said she had a big group of kids and let me go on ahead. I bought a medium tutti frutti water ice. I wasn't that impressed. It tasted more like bubble gum than fruit. I originally ate it in "The Ice Box," the big back room where they keep video games and board games for the kids who come for movie night and birthday parties. It got too cold (and too noisy) back there. I finally finished it outside.

Made two more quick stops in Westmont. They didn't have what I wanted at Walgreens. Had more luck at MacMillian's Bakery across Haddon Avenue. It's going to be too hot to bake this week. I bought a loaf of Viennese Bread to make sandwiches for work instead. I also bought a big crab-shaped cookie with red and blue sugar crystals for a treat at home. Cut through Collingswood going home to avoid the worst of the traffic on Cuthbert.

When I got in, I got right to working on my WENN fanfiction. In addition to the fairy tales I have listed on the New Fanfiction page at my website, I finally came up with a story for Hilary, via the story Lauren and I are working on right now. Hilary and Betty are not happy campers the day after the disasters of "You've Met Your Match." Hilary is angry with Jeff for flirting with Betty and marrying Pavla in the first place. Betty wishes Scott had been more upfront about his relationship with Maple and is still annoyed about the whole embezzlement/Victor mess. Hilary complains that she feels like she's dealing with a couple of wild beasts.

This turns into the tale of a pair of sisters - one older and more dramatic, the other younger and more sensitive - who are ordered to the castle of a horrible beast when their father (Mackie) stole a rose for the younger one. It turns out there's two beasts in this castle. One is younger and taller, but angry and bitter. The elder is smaller and stockier, with darker fur, but stupid and simple...but is that really their true natures, any more than the fur on their bodies is their true forms? Two handsome princes come to them in their dreams to encourage them to listen to their hearts...but a wicked Eastern European fairy wants them for herself...

Went into making dinner after I ended writing for the day. I opted for a simple meal of turkey meatballs in a tasty gravy made of Worcestershire sauce, the last of the chicken stock, lemon juice, and the ground turkey drippings, whole wheat noodles, and a cucumber-tomato salad. Oooh, the meatballs came out sooo well, soft and savory. I may have to try that again sometime.

Ran Summer Holiday during dinner. This sweet 1948 musical is the tale of Richard Miller (Mickey Rooney), a teenager in a small-town in Conneticut during the early 1900's with a lot of big ideas about the evils of capitalism. All his high-falutin' talk is annoying his father Nat (Walter Huston) and scaring his girlfriend Muriel (Gloria De Haven) to death. Meanwhile, his uncle Sid (Frank Morgan) tries to court his long-time girlfriend Lily (Agnes Moorehead), but she wishes he'd quit drinking. When Richard breaks up with Muriel and ends up in a bar with a floozy (Marilyn Maxwell), he learns that he may not quite be ready for adulthood just yet.

A lovely coming-of-age story (based after the non-musical stage comedy Ah Wilderness!), this isn't a masterpiece but does have some nice moments. I'm especially fond of the opening number, with its dialogue that flows naturally from song to speech and back, and Maxwell's number in the bar that experiments with color filters. Rooney overacts (and was too old for the role); Huston's much better as his supportive father.

If you love other musical coming-of-age tales set around this time period like Meet Me In St. Louis, t this is an interesting tale of summer that's worth checking out at the Warner Archives.