Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas In Philadelphia

It was sunny, windy, and cold for the first time in ages when I headed out this morning. I wanted to make my annual post-Christmas shopping trip. Stopped at the PNC Bank in Collingswood first to deposit the 300 dollars from Dad and Jodie. It was about 10:30. I must have gotten there between crowds. They were quiet, and there was no line, although there did seem to be a small one in the drive-through. I was in and out in minutes.

The clouds were returning when I picked up a fairly full train to Philadelphia. I thought of hitting the malls, but I really wanted to take a look at the big FYE on Broad Street, and I was already in Collingswood. There were a lot of families and college kids on the train. I guess they wanted to take in all the holiday displays downtown.

After getting a little turned around on 13th Street, I finally made my way to the Avenue of the Arts and FYE. Unlike the train, they were pretty quiet. I wandered around for an hour, browsing. I went strictly with DVDs this time. I didn't get any movies for Christmas, and I'll be checking out a local record store with Jessa and Joe on Saturday. FYE is still doing the buy one used, get one for a dollar deal. All the talk about Star Wars has put me in a fantasy/sci fi/action adventure mood. I ended up with two childhood favorites, the 1987 fantasy Willow and the delightfully goofy 1993 version of The Three Musketeers, the 1960 musical Can Can, and one of the few 50's and 60's sci-fi movies I really have any interest in, Forbidden Planet.

Doubled back to a pizza parlor on 13th Street for a simple lunch. It was past 1 when I finally made it down there, and Mama Angelina's was very busy. I was finally able to sit down with my slice of plain cheese, slice of white broccoli, and small Diet Pepsi. Yum. I love their pizza. They have the softest crust you ever tasted. So moist and chewy.

My next stop was Macy's. That...was not a good idea. They were mobbed to all get out. I could barely move around. Actually, I was mainly there to use the bathroom. There were people using the ones in Starbucks. I ended up hiking all the way to the third floor, and then I had to use the hard-to-find one in the back because the one for families had a line.

Most people were probably there to show their kids the Dickens Village or the famous Light Show in the main room. I walked around until the show was ready to begin. I couldn't find a place to watch it. The lines were three and four deep! I ended up jammed against a rack of baby pajamas. I still had a good enough view of the show...and the amazed looks on the faces of the tiny children on their parents' shoulders. They oohed and ahhed as clocks tick-tocked, ballerinas pirouetted, snowmen danced, snowflakes fell, cute bear trumpeters tooted their horns, and Santa rode across the display on his train.

Here's a video of the show from last year:

The Macy's Light Show

After the show, I decided that whatever clothes I had in mind could wait. It was just too busy in Macy's to attempt shopping. I went downstairs to Starbucks...but the line was long there, too. I went out to 13th Street and Chestnut, trying to find a less-busy coffee shop. Not only did I not have much luck, but it was starting to rain lightly. I returned to Starbucks. Thankfully, the walk wasn't entirely worthless. The line was much shorter. I had a very spicy Chai Latte and a very tasty Cranberry Bliss Bar, and even managed to get a seat.

I walked down 13th Street to the PATCO station on Locust and, after a brief look at a toy store and kids' activity center, took a half-full train home. My legs were tired from all the standing at Macy's, and the weather wasn't conductive to more wandering around. By that time, the rain had stopped. It was just cloudy and windy when I got back in.

Spent the rest of the evening writing. The kids, Mackie, and Maple find the toys on a conveyor belt, about to be sent into the garbage incinerator. Scott is bound on the conveyor belt as well. Barnaby is using him as a bargaining chip to get Betty to marry him. Maple, Mackie, and the kids won't let that happen!

Around 6 PM, I broke to make a simple but tasty dinner of chicken breasts rubbed with lemon juice and spices, spinach, mushroom, and onions sauteed in olive oil and lemon juice, and leftover sausage stuffing and Cranberry Flummery. It came out very well, especially the chicken breasts. They were so juicy!

Ran Forbidden Planet while I ate. It's the far future, and a group of officers (lead by a young Leslie Nielson) have landed on the moon Altair IV to seek out a colony that had once existed there. When they land, all they find of the colony are scholar Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), his lovely daughter Altara (Anne Francis), and their loyal servant, Robby the Robot. Dr. Morbius has been studying the technology left behind by the previous inhabitants of the moon. It seems they found a way to use their minds to control the planet and enlarge their brain capacity. Trouble is, when ordinary men use it, it can overwhelm or even kill them...or control them. As Altara becomes more and more involved with the crew, they discover that there's a huge beast out there that wants to do them all in, and it comes from the least-likely place...

Straight-up sci-fi isn't normally my thing, but I really loved this. For one thing, it's based after my favorite Shakespearean play, The Tempest. Morbius is Prospero, Altara is Miranda, the Commander is Ferdinand, Robby is Ariel, and the monster is Caliban. While some of the backdrops look a bit fakey, most of the other special effects, especially the alien races' technology that covers the entire planet beneath the surface. The monster effects were neat. I like how they slowly played up the monster...and the animation used during his brief appearance.

I did find a lot of the talk about the alien technology itself confusing, and the treatment of Altara, who tends to distract the men quite a bit in her short outfits, is a bit dated. Otherwise, this is one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time, and worth seeing even if you're not a big fan of the genre.

Finished the night with a nice, quiet bath while listening to Vaughn Monroe. I desperately needed it. My legs were so sore after spending a lot of the day walking and standing. It started to rain sometime after dinner, giving me my bath a nice, soothing backdrop.

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