Monday, February 29, 2016

Mouse Monster Mash

I was a bit surprised to see rain outside when I awoke this morning. I hadn't seen rain in the forecast. Thankfully, by the time I got moving, it was long gone, and the world was just wet. I ran Jason of Star Command while eating breakfast. Though technically listed as a spin-off of Space Academy, this is really a whole different show. The school for kids with magical abilities and the typical-but-cute edutainment stories have been replaced by an ongoing plot involving Jason (a supposed "soldier of fortune," though he seems to have more in common with James Bond than Han Solo) and his fellow members of Star Command and their war against the evil Dragos. It feels more like a sci-fi serial from the 30's and 40's - there's even two fifteen-minute stories per episode.

Did the laundry around 10:30-quarter of 11. They were pretty quiet for a Monday morning. I saw a few people when I came in and maybe one person when I left. Otherwise, I worked on story ideas and half-listened to Rachael Ray and The View in peace. I really didn't have a very big load, anyway. I was out in less than an hour.

As soon as I put everything away, I went right back out. By this point, the sun had come out, and it was in the 50's and sunny as could be. It was a great day to eat out and run errands. Started with lunch at the Westmont Bagel Shop. I hadn't eaten there in a while. Surprisingly, given it was the tail end of the lunch hour when I arrived, they were quiet. I had a spinach and provolone grilled chicken sandwich on a whole-wheat bagel with macaroni salad and pickle chips. It was tasty, with a ton of cheese, even if the bagel was probably too thick to eat it on.

Headed to the Haddon Township Library next. There wasn't much going on there. The librarians still wanted me to leave the piles of adult DVD titles for the kids to return. I organized the children's titles and shelved the few new releases that were in. I did find a couple of new kids' titles I wanted to see, including brand-new collections for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins, last fall's Barbie movie Rock n' Royals, and the first season of Star Wars: Rebels.

Made a very quick stop at Thriftway on the way home. I forgot to buy an onion on Friday. Sugar was on a good sale, and I was just about out. They have far better prices on individual toilet paper than the Acme does (69 cents, as opposed to a dollar). They were a little steady, but nothing really bad.

Spent the rest of the afternoon writing at home. Han deals with Jabba, telling the fat, ugly ogre he has the money he owes him to buy his way out of indentured servitude. Jabba pretty much says "you'd better, or I'm sending more of my hunters after you." (I know this scene isn't really necessary, but I love Han stepping on Jabba's tail and the "You're a wonderful human being" line.)

Meanwhile, Luke is back at the ball, wondering what became of Ben and Han. Leia storms in, still mad as heck at being abandoned by and kissed by Han. She agrees to dance with him, and Luke is in seventh heaven...but they both quickly realize that something's wrong...

Ran Barbie: Rock N' Royals while making my favorite Cake Mix Peanut Butter Cookies. This is the Barbie series' third variation on The Prince and the Pauper, and their second to make it royalty vs pop singers. In this case, Princess Courtney and rock star Erika are looking forward to two weeks at cultured Camp Royal and vibrant Camp Pop. There's a mix-up with their boats, and Courtney finds herself among the up-and-coming pop stars, while Erika is hob-nobbing with the royal kids. The two heads of the camps don't really get along. One bets the other that their group can't beat them in a sing-off - loser closes down their camp. Though Courtney and Erika don't feel like they fit in at first, when they discover what's going on with the talent show, they bring their new friends together. In the end, they discover the importance of teamwork and how stepping out of the box can help us discover new talents.

Another musical episode, this one was kind of fun. It did have the same problem as the previous Barbie royal life vs pop life story The Princess and the Pop Star - the mild magical angle with the royals feels forced and necessary. Otherwise, this was, while not great, better than the rather dull Princess and the Pop Star. Fun for girls who love Barbie or pop music.

Did the first Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode while making a jelly omelet for dinner. Mickey is also involved in an unusual musical, in this case the tale of how Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto broke down outside an old mansion and find themselves among monster versions of the usual gang. Mickey is Dracula, Goofy is the Frankenstein monster, Professor Ludvig Von Drake is his creator, Clarabelle is the Phantom of the Opera, and Donald and Daisy are ghosts. They keep hearing a strange clanking noise throughout the episode and search every room, talking to the "monsters" on the way.

Finished out the night with a bath. Ahhh. That felt absolutely wonderful, especially after yesterday. I read the Star Wars FAQ and listened to Ann Murray's greatest hits.

Oh, and I hope you enjoyed your extra Leap Year day! Hope you got a lot done, too!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Queen of the Parking Lot

It was another lovely, sunny day when I finally pulled out of bed this morning. I thought I'd try something a little different and made Cornmeal Pancakes for breakfast. They frankly turned out a bit dry, even though I added whole wheat flour in there, too. Hadn't listened to any of my rock records in a while. I did Foreigner's 4, along with the soundtrack from Streets of Fire.

Good thing it was such a lovely day, if still windy when I arrived at work. I spent most of it outside. I thought the hours I got this week were kind of strange. Turns out at least three baggers went on vacation this week, leaving us short-handed in that department. I hadn't even noticed on the schedule that I was among the regular cashiers recruited to fill the gap. While I wish they could have given me more warning, it was nice to push carts and return items instead of listening to people fuss all night. I actually got a whole, full cart of returns done. I also haven't returned carts in months. I was so sore when I finished and headed home.

Went straight into writing when I got home. Where Boba Fett the huntsman is, the greedy King Jabba the Ogre can't be far behind. Han confronts Jabba, who had gone to the stables to see if he was there. Jabba can see through Han's magic-induced disguise; Force powers don't effect him. Han, a servant to Jabba, has been smuggling spices and drugs for him in order to buy his way out of debt. He swears he'll have the money as soon as the old knight pays him.

I relaxed with the last of the leftover bean-escarole soup for dinner and more music. I picked up the original cast album for the Broadway version of Newsies last year, after I bought the soundtrack and remembered how much I enjoyed it. The stage Newsies was a surprise hit in New York a few years ago, and I like it, too. Though the outline of the plot - a group of newsboys in 1899 go on strike when the newspaper barons raise the prices they pay for papers - remains the same, some characters and most of the second half has changed. The male journalist whose article brought attention to the boys' crusade is now a female journalist looking to prove herself in hard news; she also eliminates the bland love interest sister. There's some ok new songs in with the originals, and Jack's relationship with Crutchie, the disabled Newsie, and his desire to get out west, are made even more dramatic here.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Ends of Space

Began a beautiful, sunny day with more Space Academy. In "The Cheat," Cadet Matt Prentiss is under fire for ignoring several safety warnings. He gets another chance when they send him on a mission to help Paul, but when he plunges the kids into danger, everyone's questioning his competence again. "My Favorite Marcia" was hilarious. Marcia is an Indiana Jones-esque former lover of Professor Gampu whom he and the kids run into on an asteroid that's inhabited by a killer robot. This episode was worth it just to watch Gampu and Marcia go at each other - even the kids thought it was cute.

Work was a pain today. We're getting pretty close to the beginning of the month, with all the fun people who give you trouble, won't help bag, and are just plain rude. Didn't help that my register decided to slow down and die twenty minutes before I left, holding up a long line. Thank goodness my relief was on time.

It was such a nice day, I took the long way home down Nicholson. The traffic was a bit heavy, but I really wanted to get a little time outside. Besides, it was a great way to relax after all the trouble at work, too. I really hate the beginning of the month.

When I got in, I went straight on the computer. Leia's about to ask Han more questions when he sees a man in green armor - huntsman Boba Fett - show up at the door. He makes a run for it, pulling her outside with him. To avoid Fett following them, he kisses her on a bench, trying to look normal. While it does get them past Fett, Leia is less than amused...and shows it with a fist to his face.

Finished out Space Academy while making leftovers for dinner and putting together Chocolate Chip "Old School" Muffins from Alton Brown's baking cookbook. "Star Legend" takes the entire gang to a mysterious abandoned ship in the Alderan Triangle (cough, not the one from Star Wars that blew up). Someone - or something - is trying to frighten them off the ship, but what? "Johnny Sunseed" is the older brother of Professor Gampu, who wishes humans would "get back to their roots" and hates technology. He learns a lesson in how computers and plants can co-exist when Peepo is the only one who can help him after he eats some genetically altered food that's been making everyone sick.

And that was that. Too bad this show didn't run longer. Despite the cheesy special effects, some stiff dialogue, and the need to conform this to "kids show" standards, I thought this was a lot of fun. Johnathan Harris in particular made a great and very intense 200-year-old Professor. This might even be fun for some younger kids today who don't mind the dated effects and occasional stilted acting from the child actors.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sunshine At Last

It was still a bit cloudy when I headed out around 11 for a nice, long bike ride. I didn't care that it was still windy. The clouds were breaking up, it wasn't that cold (probably in the lower 40's), and the sun was starting to emerge. This was the first really nice day we'd had since Monday, and I wanted to take advantage of it. Besides, I really didn't have any other plans, and I'm tired of sitting in my apartment. I feel like I've been hanging around in my apartment all winter. I had to get out.

After a quick stop at the Oaklyn WaWa to use the ATM machine, I headed down Atlantic Avenue all the way to Barrington. I hadn't been to the Barrington Antique Center in ages. They were just as filled with wonderful things as ever. I saw two vintage 1980 People magazines with articles on The Empire Strikes Back (I just wish they'd been longer). I saw what I believe was a Kirsten American Girl doll with a hair cut and floppy limbs - they still wanted $75 for her. (Um, if she was wearing at least her original dress, had her braids, and had tighter limbs, yes. As she was, she was barely worth 25.) Two Bitty Twins were in somewhat better shape, but they were still $30 each. I ended up buying a copy of Meet Rebecca, one of the few original American Girl historical books I don't have, and the revised and updated version of Saucepans and the Single Girl, which I've taken out of the Haddon Township Library a couple of times. (I don't care so much about catching a man as I do finding simple recipes to feed one or two people.)

Went next-door to the Barrington Diner for lunch. They're about as basic a restaurant as you can get. The mustard-yellow vinyl and dark wood booths, old chrome counter, and junk on shelves in the back look like they date back to at least the 50's...and the clientele dates from about then, too. It was mostly elderly regulars when I came in. I ordered the deluxe hamburger, with fries and a tiny cup of coleslaw. At least I got the fries and coleslaw. There was no patty on my bun when the waitress brought it out. It took five minutes for me to point this out to her, and another five for them to retrieve my patty. The old people kept making jokes. I'm sure they didn't mean to be annoying, but they just got on my nerves. The burger tasted pretty decent once it actually made it on the bun, but I still wasn't too happy.

I felt better when I was back on the road. I made my way down Atlantic to Market Street in Audubon after lunch. I hadn't had a treat at Desserts By Design in ages. I tried a Chocolate Brownie Cupcake. While the chocolate cupcake itself was perfectly normal, there were brownie bits mixed into the cocoa icing and a thick piece of chocolate fudge brownie on top. Yummy as always.

Made my way over to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center next. I had a couple of short stops to make. I'm out of the pencils I use to write in my daily journal. Staples is the best place to get them in bulk. Ducked around traffic and over to Game Stop. They had a used copy of LEGO: The Star Wars Complete Saga, which I've been looking for.

Hit the Acme next. No wonder I had today off. They were dead as a doornail. I was able to do my grocery shopping in almost total peace. I was mainly doing a pantry restock after clearing them out this week, including evaporated skim milk, pumpkin, tomato sauce, cereal (went with Multi-Grain Cheerios), olive oil, chicken stock, chocolate chips, and oatmeal. Added a bag of Brussels sprouts to my usual apples, bananas, and grapefruit. Grabbed dryer sheets - I ran out after my last laundry load.

My schedule next week is a tad bit better than it was last week, though still not great. On one hand, short shifts, two days off, and only one late day, Sunday. On the other hand, I still don't have enough hours, despite noticing a lot of people asked for this week off. (For some reason. Other than it's the beginning of the month and Leap Year, I really don't think there's much going on.)

When I got home, I worked on writing for the next few hours. Ben wants to talk to Leia's uncle King Bail about the Rebels In the Woods. He sends Luke to keep an eye out for Imperial soldiers and Han to keep an eye on Leia. Han's out of his element...and Leia realizes this too well. He dances stiffly, has rough manners, and doesn't know anything about clothes or fox hunting or most of the things most princes of Leia's acquaintance care about. Leia can sense his nervousness. Han just thinks she's being bratty.

Finished out the night with leftover bean-escarole stew and more Space Academy. My favorite of today's episodes was "Life Begins at 300." Professor Gampu is in the spotlight when he miscalculates how long the kids' life support badges will last, and several of them almost get hurt. He questions his judgement as an older man, and even says he'll retire. A younger cadet is determined to show what she knows and that she can gather the material needed to fix their badges, but when she ends up in trouble, only Gampu - and his centuries of experience - can save her.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Windy Winter

Today was my early work morning. It was...really boring. I arrived at a mostly empty store, and though it did get on-and-off steady later on, we were never really that busy. I spent the majority of the day working on story ideas. Of course, by the time it was starting to pick up a little bit, it was rush hour and time for me to go...and they didn't bother telling me they sent my relief in for someone else. The first person they wanted to send in for me ended up helping a new cashier. By the time they found a second person to go in, I was late getting out. I was not happy. They could have told me I no longer had a relief. I bought my skim milk and stormed out.

The weather didn't improve anyone's mood. Though it never rained again after this morning, it remained gloomy and very, very windy. (Thankfully, the temperatures remain at a slightly-warm but decent 40 degrees.)

Calmed down at home with a little bit of writing. The trio of fictional prince, knight, and master knight have just arrived at the ball. Bail recognizes Sir Kenobi, but has no idea who his proteges are. Leia doesn't recognize them, either...but she does realize Han is not a prince. He's too awkward and annoyed in his fancy velvet outfit to be real royalty.

I started more Space Academy this morning, and I continued it during dinner. I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying this show. Some of the episodes are really fun, despite the obviously low budget and the need to avoid violence. Of the episodes I did get to today, "The Rocks of Janus" was my favorite. The kids are trying to clear away two huge chunks of space rocks before they collide with the Academy. What they turn out to be is surprising...and so is how one of them rescues Laura. (Alas, this is one of the episodes where the need to avoid violence is rather obvious - Laura merely scares the villain way, rather than attacking him. On the other hand, I am glad to see that the girl got to do this. Both female characters are fairly take-charge for the era and a kid's show, something I greatly appreciate.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kids In Space

It was once again pouring when I awoke late this morning. I ran a couple more episodes of Rick Steves' Europe while I ate breakfast to combat the gloom. Vienna and Saltzburg may no longer be the centers of the Austrian Empire, but they're still beautiful towns steeped in romantic history and tradition. I love the palaces, the bakeries, and the waltzes of Vienna. And while most people who think of Saltzburg think "Mozart," I like the little village on the banks of a river that is one of the oldest towns in Europe better. A former salt mining center, it's steeped in quaint, quiet charm.

Headed out around quarter after 12. Though it was still sprinkling at that point, I was tired of sitting inside, and I had errands I wanted to run. Ended up at the Oaklyn Library first. I mostly organized DVDs. Took out two TV sets I'd been wanting to watch. For some reason, they have a bunch of sets of the Filmation live-action kids' shows of the mid-late 1970's. I rented The Secrets of Isis, a superhero-based show, a few years ago and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Given my current Star Wars kick, I figured it was a good time to try out two sci-fi-based programs, Space Academy and Jason of Star Command. I also took out a book of fairy tales and Aesop's Fables with beautiful, delicate illustrations.

My next few stops were quicker. I took a peek around the House of Fun after leaving the Oaklyn Library. Though they have lots of Star Wars stuff, there wasn't anything I really needed, and they still didn't have any second season Sailor Moon.

The Oaklyn Post Office is two blocks from the House of Fun. I've been meaning to buy stamps for over two months now. I either hadn't had the money, or just plain hadn't gotten around to it. Since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped by and bought a book of beautiful, colorful flower-based Forever stamps.

Ended up at the CVS on the edge of Oaklyn and Collingswood (which is another two blocks down from the post office) next. I needed mouthwash. Picked up some Jiff Peanut Butter that was on sale for $1.99 as well. I got lucky. The tag for the Crest Mouthwash I bought said $5.09 on clearance. It was the cheapest bottle I could get at that size. They must have dropped the clearance even further, because it rang up $3.39. Talk about your scores.

Finally got to have lunch at Viola's International Deli on West Clinton Avenue, two doors down from Common Grounds Coffee House. Hit a good deal there, too. Evidently, their Wednesday special is a wrap or Panini with a can of soda and a bag of chips for $4.99. I opted for a basic Roast Beef Club Whole Wheat Wrap with a can of Diet Dr. Pepper and a bag of lattice chips. The wrap was so big, I ended up taking the chips home. (I peeked at Studio LuLoo, but they still aren't open. I'll try again on Friday.)

I got home just in time. About a half-hour after I'd ducked in and was on the computer working on my story, the rain started coming down heavily again. It had been incredibly humid for this time of year all afternoon, but the rain stopped after I left the Library and didn't start again until well after I was done with my chores. The wind roared and rattled - I even heard about possible tornadoes. There were thunderstorms later in the evening.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening working on writing. Ben says he, Luke, and Han will all be going to the ball, as a prince and his court. He helps Luke dress in his silver crystal armor, then dresses himself in the gold armor of a master Force knight. He turns the Falcon into a splendid carriage, Chewbacca into its driver, Arthur (Artoo) into a footman, and a pack of mice into horses. To Han's annoyance, he's to play the prince. He complains noisily about his tight black velvet jacket and breeches and the silver crown that gives him a headache.

Princess Leia's not much happier. Her white gown with the lace sleeves is itchy and too tight. She would rather be delivering the Kingdom of the Empire's plans to Sir Benjamin Kenobi than trying to push obnoxious young nobles away from her. As her uncle reassures her that she'll be able to carry out her mission soon, there's a disturbance in the room...and a trio of unknown figures appear on the staircase into the ballroom...

When I went through the pantry shelves between the counter and the stove yesterday, I found a can of navy beans and a can of evaporated skim milk that were about to expire. I thought it was time to have a pantry dinner night. I made two Crock Pot meals. Started the Italian Escarole, Broccoli, and Bean Stew before I left to run errands. Oooh, did that turn out nice! I put a little too much water in. Otherwise, it was rich and flavorful. Made Pumpkin Custard for dessert. That didn't come out quite as well. It tasted pretty decent, but I accidentally didn't close the cover all the way, and it overflowed and burned a bit.

Watched the first four episodes of Space Academy as I ate. Jonathan Harris is the head teacher at a school for young cadets with extraordinary powers. There's a telepathic brother-sister pair, a super-strong Native American kid who also acts as the group medic, a smart black kid who acts as navigator, a dark-haired girl, a cute-blue-haired younger kid they pick up in the first episode, and a small robot who acts as something of a mini-Threepio. (The blue haired kid sort of has Artoo's cute-mischievous mascot role.) Once again, I'm impressed. The dialogue is sometimes cheesy, but the special effects (except for some shots that are supposed to be in space) are surprisingly well-done for a show of this era, the kids are decent actors, Harris makes a splendid teacher, and there's some interesting storylines.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

The day did not begin well. I awoke to rain and a phone call from Mrs. Stahl. She wasn't feeling well (and she didn't sound great over the phone). Plus, there was the weather to consider. It wasn't supposed to get any better. We ended up rescheduling for March 8th.

Well, that killed most of my plans for the day. I hadn't intended on doing anything besides counseling. I just read Tatoonie Ghost for a while, then wrote in my journal and listened to the rain

It was nearly noon before I finally got up for brunch. I watched the adorable 1929 musical Sally while I ate. Sally (Marilyn Miller) is an ambitious young orphan who is dying to become a dancer someday. Right now, she's mostly just working dead-end waitress and bus girl jobs...until she falls for a very sweet young millionaire (Alexander Gray) and befriends a former count-turned-waiter (Joe E Brown). She's hired to impersonate a Russian dancer at a Long Island party...which happens to be an engagement party for the millionaire. Sally's heartbroken, but her friends find a way for her to have her Ziegfield cake and her man, too...

Called Mom after brunch. She was on her way out, but I just wanted to say "hi." I hadn't heard from her in a while. At least now I know I'm not the only one who's been losing hours at work. I guess it's either the weather or this just isn't a good year down here, but Mom's hours have been worse than mine. She says she's worked ten days in the past month at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. (Of course, this is winter. There's probably about ten people down there besides my family at the moment.)

Worked on organizing and cleaning under the sink and the pantry shelves in the wooden partition between the stove and the counter towards the end of Sally. I hadn't done them in ages. I keep losing the tops to the plastic food containers under the sink. There just isn't much storage area in that kitchen. I also realized I have some canned goods that are either expired or on the verge of doing so. I'll have to do some experimenting over the next few days.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening working on my story. Ben reminds Luke that they'll need a ride to the castle - he owns no carriage or horse himself. Luke suggests Han, who is always boasting about his beloved gypsy cart the Falcon, to drive them. They return to Aldran Town to meet Han at the run-down Eisley Tavern.

They can't find him in the Tavern...but they hear an altercation in the alley between buildings. They find Han moving away from a lizard-like body with an arrow in the back. He pushes them away from it before they can see much and hurries them across the street to the Falcon...which, to Luke's dismay, turns out to be a piece of dilapidated junk. Han insists there's more to it than that, and they don't have much choice, anyway. They have to get to the ball. The junk will have to do.

Went into Tomorrowland while eating leftovers for dinner and making Chocolate-Oatmeal Hermits afterwards. Fasten your seatbelts, folks. This was another weird one. Kasey is a young girl who is trying to make her dreams of becoming a scientist come true. She's given a pin by another girl, this one more than a little odd. The pin lets her see the title world, an amazing land of technology made by anyone who could dream it...but only for a few minutes. She follows the pin first to a collectibles shop, then to a reclusive man (George Clooney) who had also once gone to Tomorrowland. Turns out Tomorrowland is an alternate dimension that's now ruled by a smarmy governor (Hugh Laurie). He's used the device Clooney made as a child to more-or-less bring around the end of the world. Kasey does her best to stop him, with help from her two new friends. In the process, she learns just how important dreamers are, and that the future isn't always as scary as we make it out to be.

This is another sci-fi flop from last year that I ended up sort of liking in spite of myself. Yes, it's confusing and the tone is all over the place, lurching from child-like wonder to dark fantasy at a split-second's notice. On the other hand, I do agree with one of the messages - why does the future always have to be so frightening? Sure, there are some bad things in the world now, but there's some good, too, and there are people out there who are willing to find solutions. It's why I'm so glad to see more upbeat sci-fi movies out there now mixed in with darker films like Mad Max: Fury Road. The world needs both the darkness and the light.

On the other hand, this movie was made to cross-over with many different media, including books. The backstory of Tomorrowland isn't explained that well in the actual film. People who are expecting more of an explanation to this story's world are going to be very confused. Plus, there's the tone problem I mentioned earlier, with the movie lurching from comedy to drama to sci-fi action and back again. The messages can come off as preachy rather than inspiring at times too, especially towards the end. The performances are as uneven as the movie, except for the girl who played the "audio-animatronic" child who is supposed to find new recruits for Tomorrowland. She handled a difficult role very well, especially her scenes with Clooney.

As strange as this was, I still recommend it for fans of Clooney, Laurie, or more upbeat science fiction. If you're looking for something a tad bit more optimistic in your action and are willing to wade through the sci-fi jargon and sometimes preachy tone, you may find this as enjoyable and upbeat as I largely did.

And by the way, it's probably just as well that I didn't have counseling. It's been raining off-and-on all day, sometimes heavily. I won't be able to avoid it tomorrow, though. I have a few things to do in the Oaklyn area that I really can't put off.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Hint of Spring In the Air

It was an absolutely glorious day when I finally dragged my rear out of bed. After finishing Snow White and the Three Stooges, I made the bed and puttered around while listening to more Donna Summer. I can't remember the last time I made the bed. It's been a while. I rarely bother. Who's gonna see it? I was starting to have a hard time finding the sheets, though. I also changed the Cabbage Patch Dolls into more spring-like outfits. (I forgot to take them out of their Christmas dresses!)

Hit the laundromat next, around 12:30. It was very busy there, though I was able to get a washer. By the time my small load was out, the dryers were mostly free and they were beginning to clear out. I listened to Action News and The Chew and worked on notes for my current story.

(And I have yet another Star Wars fanfic idea, in the "lord only knows when I'll get to it" category. We jump back to 1977. Leia is a superheroine, fighting for freedom and justice in corrupt Coruscant City. Luke is a normal college kid whose life changes radically when he wanders into a mystical antique shop owned by a strange old man and discovers that he is the inheritor of a heroic dynasty. Han is a carpenter/repairman whose side jobs may be more than a little shady...but is that all he is? He agrees to help Luke and his new friends get to Leia's rich family, only to find them murdered and their daughter missing. Yes, we're going to be playing with Bronze/Silver Age superhero cliches here, inspired by the cheesy, stylized, sometimes macabre, but generally goofy superhero films of the late 70's, 80's, and early 90's.)

As soon as I put the laundry away, I hurried right back out. I was originally going to have lunch at the deli on West Clinton, but I forgot they're closed on Mondays. I had a nice, quiet spicy-sweet iced tea, Cranberry-White Chocolate Scone, and slice of Sausage, Pepper, and Onion quiche at Common Grounds Coffee House instead. They were very quiet by past 2 PM, with only a pair of women chatting at one of the tables by the window. I read the positive quotes on the walls while eating lunch.

It was a great day for a ride through Newton Lake Park. Though it's still largely winter here, it got into the 50's and felt more like spring. Most of the ice and almost all of the snow leftover from our previous snow storms and deep freezes is almost completely gone. I had to dodge a lot of dog walkers, joggers, other bikers, and people out for a walk.

I was surprised that the Haddon Township Library was fairly busy when I arrived, given the nice day. Of course, it was pretty late by then, too. The DVDs were overflowing again, children and adults. I just organized the kids' DVDs and left the adult titles for the kids coming in after school to put away. I also shelved new releases and the one audio book that was there. They gave me a bright-green bag for being a good, faithful volunteer. Turned out to contain a small bag of gourmet chocolates and a very sweet card. (I didn't take anything out - I still have movies from last week I hadn't gotten to.)

Made a quick stop at Thriftway for their cheap eggs before heading home. While they weren't quite as cheap as they were a few weeks ago, $2.99 for an 18-pack is still a steal (and much cheaper than the Acme's). I briefly ran into my friend Erica and got to say hi to her, too.

I enjoyed my ride home, despite the rush hour traffic on Cuthbert and the White Horse Pike. I wasn't the only one. Everyone was out enjoying the weather, walking, riding, playing catch and running around. One little girl on a bike with her friends commented "Isn't it a lovely day?" I had to agree with her.

When I finally got in, I put the eggs away and went into writing. Luke rides Chewbacca to Ben's cottage at the edge of the Enchanted Woods to tell him about the ball. Ben already knows - he got an invitation earlier. He pulls out a suit of armor and a beautiful sword that had once belonged to Luke's father. They're made out of a special, extra-hard crystal that only Force Knights can manipulate. Ben wants Luke to come to the ball, but he's has chores to do, and he's sure he won't belong. Ben has other ideas...

Finished the night with leftovers and DuBarry Was a Lady. This goofy musical from 1942 has Red Skelton as a hat-check boy in love with a nightclub singer (Lucile Ball). She in turn loves a handsome dancer and songwriter (Gene Kelly), but has convinced herself she can only marry for money. She becomes engaged to the hat-check boy when he wins big in a sweepstakes. He thinks the dancer is jealous and tries to drug him, but ends up drugged himself. He dreams he's King Louie of France, the singer is DuBarry, and the dancer is a revolutionary out to bring them both down. When the dream turns into a bit of a nightmare, he finally learns that love isn't something that can be bought or forced.

Cute bit of wartime fluff - great for fans of Big Band music (a couple of numbers with Tommy Dorsey's band have nothing to do with the story), Ball, or Skelton (Kelly doesn't really have that much to do).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

On the Radio

Began a vaguely sunny morning with Banana-Spice Pancakes and disco. The slightly gloomy weather made feel a need for some relatively upbeat music. I danced along to Donna Summer's classic greatest hits collection On the Radio, a very old childhood favorite of mine. I've been dancing to this literally my whole life. Dad-Bill was (and probably still is) a huge fan of hers. I remember dancing to his original LP copy when Rose and I were toddlers.

Work was on-and-off steady again, though generally busier than yesterday. The weather may have spooked people. It was still pretty decent when I got to work, but the clouds slowly increased all afternoon. We're not supposed to get snow this time around, but they are talking about at least a little rain. There were some annoying people who wouldn't help bag, and we had trouble when one man forgot his ID (we were given a new policy two days ago - anyone doing a large order on a credit card needs to show their card and ID) and I had to call a manager to override him, but otherwise. there were no major problems. The afternoon flew by, and my relief was right on time.

When I got home, I went directly into writing. Luke is going to Ben Kenobi to warn him that the evil Lord Vader may be plotting against the Aldran royal family. Han says he can't go with him - he has something to take care of. He does send him off on Chewie and tells him he'll meet him and Ben at the Eisley Tavern later.

Finished the night with leftovers and some more memories. I had some of the Barbara Streisand album Back to Broadway when it came out in the 90's, taped off a library copy, but I didn't get the whole thing until recently. I especially love "Children Will Listen" (which reminds me - one of the few cast albums I don't have is Into the Woods), "Everyone Says Don't," and the duet with Johnny Mathis from West Side Story "I Have a Love/One Hand, One Heart."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Once Upon a Fractured Fantasy

Began a beautiful, sunny day with some Garfield and Friends. Spoofs of fantasy, fairy tales, and history happened quite often on this show. Orson takes Wade "Once Upon a Time Warp" to show him great moments in courage through history and inspire him to try to get the five bucks he borrowed from Roy back. "Jack II: The Rest of the Story" has the US Acres crew writing their own ending to a favorite fairy tale. "The Wrong Pizza" has Jon as a pizza maker in Italy whose creations are inedible. They get him in trouble with the town, until Garfield finds a better use for them. "The Garfield Opera" is what it says on the tin - a through-sung version of a typical episode, mostly revolving around Garfield's dislike of dieting and shenanigans with Nermal and Odie.

Work was pretty much the same deal as yesterday - mostly steady, nothing really crazy. Some obnoxious customers who wouldn't help bag. Otherwise, no real problems. It was so quiet in the morning, I did some returns early on. My relief was right on time.

Good thing, because I had a fair-sized grocery trip this week. I needed a major canned goods and non-perishables restock - canned chicken, cream of chicken soup, crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, honey, peanut butter, cooking spray. Canned tuna and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter were on sale. Grabbed bananas, apples, grapefruit, broccoli, and frozen peas.

When I got home, I ran a quick episode of Rick Steve's Europe while I got organized. I thought a trip through Munich, Bavaria, and the foothills of the Alps would provide sufficient inspiration for my current fairy tale story. There's more fairy-tale castles in Germany than you can shake a lightsaber at, including the impressive abodes of the "mad" King Ludwig. Also, any country that eats soft pretzels the size of small planets as part of their daily diet gets a big OK from me.

My original plan was to spend the rest of the afternoon writing...but it was really too nice to be sitting inside all day. It had risen into the mid-50's. There couldn't be a nicer day in mid-February in Southern New Jersey. My neighbor Richard was out cleaning up his yard and our front yard; several other people were doing the same thing. Boys tossed a football to each other; kids were out on bikes. I strolled to Dunkin' Donuts for a Coollatta, which I haven't had in ages. I just went simple with a Light Vanilla Coollatta. I drank it, but it was kind of flat, and the aftertaste did have obvious Splenda in it.

I did get a little writing in when I got home. Cecil warns Luke that the evil Lord Vader may invade the ball and harm the royal family. Luke wants to go to his mentor Ben and get help. Han thinks he's crazy, but he does offer him Chewie to get him to Ben's hut. Han has something else to take care of...

Finished the night with Cincinnati Chili from Kit's Cooking Studio (chili with added sweet spices - including a little cocoa - and no beans) and Snow White and the Three Stooges. This cute musical version of the fairy tale has the Three Stooges renting a cottage from the seven dwarfs and finding the title princess (Carol Heiss) hiding from her evil witch of a stepmother there. They and their ward Quatro promise to protect her. Not for hard-core Stooge aficionados - this was made late in their career, and there isn't a lot of their signature slapstick. For everyone else, this a charming musical with some nice ice-based dance numbers.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Funny Fairy Tales

It was another lovely, sunny day when I got moving this morning. Drowned out the cursing and sawing downstairs with one of the best episodes of The Monkees from their very strange second season. "Fairy Tale" is a hilarious minimalist fantasy spoof. Peter is an out-of-work peasant who ends up rescuing a shrill princess (Mike!) with the help of his buddies and a magical locket.

I spent most of the morning working on my story. Cecil (Threepio) and Arthur (Artoo) burst into the stables, carrying a poster announcing the ball. Cecil emphasizes that all unmarried males are to attend. Not only is Princess Leia to be presented to the court, but it's rumored she'll be choosing a groom. Luke wishes he could go and at least see the princess, though he doesn't for a minute think she'd choose him. Han has absolutely no desire to go to any ball. He'd been to a number of them when he was (briefly) a soldier for the Kingdom of the Empire and found them to be nothing but dancing and dull gossip about which noble was dating whom.

Ran some fairy-tale-themed Max & Ruby while having a quick lunch before heading to work. Ruby tells the tale of "Little Red Ruby Hood" to dissuade Max from eating the cookies she baked for Grandma. She tells him "Max & the Beanstalk" to get him to eat his green beans, but it gives him other ideas! Max reminds the girls that even a frog has its charms when they decide to put on "The Froggy Prince."

Thankfully, work wasn't nearly as much of a problem as it had been yesterday or last weekend. The weather probably helped. It was once again sunny and windy, but a perfectly normal mid-upper 30's. It also helps that there's not a lot going on right now. It's the middle of the month, the weather's beautiful (and is supposed to just get nicer as we get into next week), and we're between holidays. There were a few annoying customers. Otherwise, there were no major problems. It slowed down so much by 6, I was able to shut down without a relief or any need for one.

Which somewhat explains my lousy schedule next week. It's a good thing I got my tax return when I did. I only work 15 hours. In addition to Monday-Wednesday off, I'm also off Friday. Admittedly, I did ask for Tuesday off for counseling, and it'll be nice to have a lot of time to write. On the other hand...15 hours? Really? They couldn't have given me a little more? And the trouble is, while it may pick up next week for the beginning of the month, there just isn't much going on other than the beginnings of March Madness, especially if the weather stays nice.

I decided I'd go grocery shopping tomorrow and opted to head right out to dinner instead. I ate at Chick Fil'A. I literally just missed the crowd. Shortly after I ordered, the line went through the whole queue. I had a quick Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap, waffle fries, and Diet Dr. Pepper. The wrap was grilled chicken and vegetables. It was quite tasty, especially with the ranch dressing that came with it - I used it as a dip.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Things We Fear In the Dark

Had a quick start this morning with the last episode on the Sailor Moon set. Usagi gets upset with Chibi-Usa over the little girl wetting her bed. Lonely for her family and wanting desperately to get to her home in the future, Chibi-Usa runs away. Usagi, Mamoru, and the other girls go after her...only to find the evil group of sisters who have been hounding them is after her, too.

(That was the last episode on the set. I'll keep looking around for Season 2, Part 2, but I have the feeling that one may have to wait for April and my birthday.)

Work was...actually pretty dead for a lot of the day. It was windy, but sunny and in the mid-30's, perfectly normal for this time of year. Unfortunately, the customers I did have were often obnoxious and rude. One young woman fussed and fussed because she thought that the frozen cheesesteak meat she bought was the lower price. I gave it to her to get the line moving and because the sign was under the boxes. Turns out, no, the boxes were in the wrong place, and they came up the right price originally. Of course, the manager fussed at ME because I went to check the price instead of calling her to do it. Why don't they put the darn boxes where they belong, so this stuff won't happen? The young woman gave me a hard time about bottles of Tostitos cheese dip too, but I was able to circumvent that one. The prices for both the dips and the chips are on shelves, away from the chips. People mistake the chip prices for dip prices all the time. I was sooo happy when my relief was right on time. I was able to buy milk and hurry home as fast as I could.

I spent the rest of the afternoon writing and trying to get the bad taste of work out of my mouth. Luke is discussing his training with Ben with Han Solowolf, a trader and smuggler who sometimes brings exotic fruits and spices to Aldran Castle. He'll occasionally let Luke, who excels with horses, care for his beloved shaggy steed Chewbacca. Luke admires the cocky, self-assured gypsy thief to a degree, but he knows Han thinks Ben's talk of powers and knight training is nonsense. You'd be better off learning to shoot a longbow and arrow than learn some silly ancient religion, Han insists.

Had leftovers for dinner, then made the delicious gingerbread recipe from Samantha's Cooking Studio while watching Nocturna. This Japanese fantasy-adventure brings Tim, a young orphan who is afraid of the dark, to the title land. He found a star one night...but it seems to have vanished. The gruff cat shepherd and his flock take him to the title world, where strange beings work to create everything from dreams to bed-head. The head of the land sends him on a mission to find the Star Keeper and make sure the stars don't go out. With the help of a group of firefly-like creatures who act as cops in Nocturna and the cat shepherd, Tim learns that the only darkness we really have to fear is the darkness in ourselves.

Charming, strange little animated tale, kind of a nighttime-themed Wizard of Oz. The subdued colors and soft artwork look like faded parchment pictures seen in the night, soft and soothing. I don't know how easy this is to find, but if you run into it, it's very much worth a look for fans of fantasy or Japanese animation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tales of the Guardians and the Skywalkers

After the lousy weather we've had the last two days, I was so grateful to see the sun shining when I got up this morning. I drowned out the guys cursing and blasting 80's music downstairs with more Sailor Moon as I ate breakfast. Chib-Usa begins softening towards Usagi in the next round of stories. Though she still behaves abominably at times, we begin to see her more as a scared child, and learn that she's holding a secret...and some incredible powers of her own.

I finally got to the Oaklyn Library around quarter after 12. They were surprisingly busy for a decent, if windy, day, with lots of people using the computers. The librarian switched from politics on CNN to more useful news on The Weather Channel. I took a look at the DVD's and went over the kids' area.

I realized earlier that I hadn't eaten at any of the restaurants in Audubon for a while. I thought it was time I gave the newly-repaired train bridge over Nicholson Road a test-run. As it turned out, it was only half-done. The side leading into Oaklyn was smooth and road great, and even had a new concrete walkway. The side leading into Audubon...looked like it hadn't been touched. It was still a mass of holes, and the walkway remained wooden. Maybe they ran out of money before they could finish? It's obvious there's still work to do.

Had lunch at the Legacy Diner, a few blocks from Abbie Road and Desserts By Design. Though they were still fairly busy at 1:30, I had no problems getting a seat. I decided to try something different and had a crepe filled with strawberries and raspberry compote, with whipped topping (likely from an aerosol can) and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was ok. The crepe didn't really taste like much of anything, and the compote was too sweet and a bit gluey.

Headed down Market Avenue and over to Cuthbert to do this week's Haddon Township Library volunteering. They were even busier than the Oaklyn Library! All of the shelves were overflowing, with every type of material. I organized and shelved books and DVD's for over an hour and a half, and I still didn't close to finish it all. I decided to leave some for the local kids who volunteer after school. I looked over Star Wars novels, but I just ended up with DVD's. They finally had two movies from last summer I'd been wanting to see, the complicated sci-fi tale Tomorrowland and the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Spy. Found another foreign animated movie that looked interesting as well, Nocturne.

Only had one quick stop to make on the way home, since it was already after 4 by the time I got out of the library. I went to Rite Aid, hoping they'd have sales on soap. Nope. I didn't even see any half-price Valentine's candy I wanted. I just bought Ivory, the cheapest soap they had.

When I got home, I went straight to my room and on my laptop for a writing session. Bail tells Leia about the Rebels of the Woods. They're stealing from the wicked Empire Kingdom and giving money to the poor and the people left in the cold by the Empire's cruel regime. What Leia doesn't tell her uncle is she's been secretly working with them and giving them money for nearly a year. She proudly agrees to deliver a secret message to a knight who had once worked for her uncle, the great Sir Benjamin Kenobi, who has agreed to attend the ball.

Meanwhile, in another part of the castle, ragged stable boy Luke Skywalker suspects he probably won't be going to the ball. He's an orphan who came to the castle in search of work after the Empire burned his farm and his family. A kindly old healer named Ben helps him get a job. He's shy and gentle, better with horses than people. His only friends are Ben and two perpetually bickering fellow servants, faithful butler and translator Cecil and mute handyman Arthur who speaks with his hands.

Had leftovers for dinner while continuing Sailor Moon. The first episode that had been cut from the original 90's run of this show turned up at this point. Too bad, because although it was technically filler, it's rather sweet. The girls join Rei on a tropical island for a vacation. Rei gets along great with Chibi-Usa (they both drive Usagi bananas and get on her nerves a lot), until she tries to get the kid to eat fish. She won't, and takes off into the water. She drifts out and is almost hurt by sharks, until she makes a new friend - an adorable baby dinosaur who rescues her. The others, though, are out looking for Chibi-Usa, and there's a volcano that's about to go off any minute...

Finished out the nice with a nice, quiet, much-needed bath. Ahhh. That felt wonderful. I read the Star Wars FAQ  (love reading about George Lucas' early drafts, and what he changed or didn't put in...and what would ultimately make it into other parts of the Star Wars universe) and listened to one of my Lena Horne CD's.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Guardians of the Rainy Day

I awoke late to a torrential downpour. My plans for hitting the laundromat and going out to the Haddon Township Library would have to wait. I began the day with breakfast and lots of Sailor Moon instead. The aliens Ann and Ali don't understand love. They think it has to be taken or stolen. Thanks to a day in detention, a Snow White play gone comically wrong, and the Guardians' attempts to befriend them, they discover that love is something that has to be nurtured, like their Macai Tree, not taken or abused. In the confusion of the last battle with the Tree. Mamoru finally regains his memories and reveals what the Moonlight Night was all about.

Rode out the storm making a collage. I do one per season to get rid of old catalogs and see where my head is at the moment. I had a lot leftover from as far back as November, so this took me a long while to do.

The rain finally ended around 2:30. It was too late to hit the library, but I did make it to the laundromat. The weather must have scared people off. It was nice and quiet. There was only one other person there - I gave her my extra quarter in change for two dimes and a nickel. (I always bring an extra quarter. Just in case.) I worked on story ideas and listened to talk shows and General Hospital. It rained a little while I was in there, but by the time my load was done, the rain had stopped, and the clouds were actually starting to break apart.

Headed home to put away my laundry and start my next story. Spirited, strong-willed Princess Leia is growing up in the peaceful Kingdom of Aldran, far from her controlling black magician of a father. Her kind aunt and uncle, who have mostly raised her, want to hold a ball to introduce her to the Court of the Alliance Kingdoms. Leia fully objects to the idea. She's not fond of parties, dressing up, showing herself off, or her aunt trying to gently nudge her into getting married. She'd rather be starting her work with the Court. Her aunt talks her into it - it's a tradition.

Returned to Sailor Moon during dinner. The second and more dramatic half of the R season introduces Chibi-Usa, a little girl with pink hair rather like Usagi's who suddenly falls out of the sky one day. She wants the Silver Crystal, and will do anything to get it. She doesn't get along well with Usagi at all. On top of that, Mamoru breaks up with Usagi, claiming he no longer loves her, and another, stronger energy-zapping enemy has appeared. The people of the Black Moon are looking for "crystal points" - areas which attract strong positive energy. They want to destroy them before they can effect the future world they've come from.

Since I had that last part of the bread I made a few weeks ago during the snow storm, I decided I'd have an all-baked dinner. Made Chicken Noodle Casserole with canned chicken, cream of chicken soup, frozen peas, fresh carrots, whole-wheat noodles, and bread crumbs. The remaining bread crumbs became part of the topping for a delicious Apple Brown Betty.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snow Day Dolls

My slumber was broken by a phone ringing. It was a frantic Charlie. The main pipe for the toilet had apparently burst and was leaking all downstairs. They were going to have to turn off the water in a half-hour and would be taking two hours to fix the pipes.

It took Charlie over an hour to turn off the pipes. Meanwhile, I read tales about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington from the Collier's Book of Holidays for President's Day and wrote in my journal. Thankfully, by the time Charlie and the other plumber did get their rears upstairs, I was dressed, had eaten breakfast, and was just finishing taking the Valentine's Day decorations down.

Charlie had a box under his arm for me when he came in to shut off the water. For some reason, the mail man had deposited it on the back porch steps. I have no idea how or why the mailman got all the way over there. At any rate, my post-tax-return order had arrived. Along with finally picking up the Sailor Moon R (Season 2) Vol 1 set (since no one around here seems to have it on DVD), I picked up the signature (basic) version of Ginger Breadhouse, one of two remaining Ever After High signature dolls I didn't have, and the Han/Leia based Star Wars novel Tatoonie Ghost

(Incidentally, the only other Ever After High signature doll I currently don't have is Melody Piper. I'll wait on her until she shows up in the stores or her price comes down on Amazon. There's more coming in the spring and early summer too, including three new Signatures and a "Snow Queen"-based character that's heading the line based around their next special.)

I pulled out Ginger after I finished breakfast. Ginger Breadhouse is supposed to be the daughter of the Candy Witch from "Hansel and Gretel." While she does love baking (and adding benevolent spells to her sweets), like Raven, she has no desire to be evil. She just wants to share her skills with the world. Ginger is a (literal) sweetie, one of three dolls in the line who wear glasses. (The others are Dexter Charming and Rosabella Beauty.) Thankfully, her bright-pink hair came perfectly soft and shiny. It did shed when I brushed it, but it also didn't need to be washed. She has a tight dress made to look like gingerbread with sprinkles. Unlike Ashlynn's dress, it didn't seem to impede her ability to sit down. I put her on the end of the front row with her fellow Rebels Darling, Cedar, and Cerise. 

Drowned out the guys and watched Sailor Moon while baking my favorite Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies. Unlike the first season, most of the second season episodes seem to be intact so far. Most of what I've noticed to be different were things cut for time or some scatological jokes removed from a babysitting episode. 

The first half of the second season reintroduces the characters after Usagi/Sailor Moon changed their memories so they could lead peaceful lives. The Guardians are called back when two aliens named Ann and Ali land on Earth, with their energy-sucking tree. The tree sustains them, but it seems to be dying. It feeds on pure energy. The pair disguise themselves as humans to find energy for their tree...and fall for Mamoru and Usagi in the process. It doesn't help that Mamoru hasn't regained his memories and doesn't recall either being Tuxedo Mask or his feelings for Usagi. And there's that mysterious Moonlight Knight who keeps showing up when the girls need help...

It started snowing even as the guys were beginning to work on the pipe. (Which, as it turns out, was under my porch. Who knew? Meant I had the guys' cursing and their tools blasting in my ears all day, though.) It wasn't heavy, but I decided I just didn't want to brave the weather and opted to put off doing my laundry, my only real outside plan for today. 

I'd put off dressing the American Girl dolls for a while as I focused on writing. I finally had time to do it today. Even though Valentine's Day was yesterday, I still put them in pink and red outfits. Samantha wears her lovely, very historically accurate Talent Show Dress with black stockings and the black and white boots from last year's limited-edition spring outfit. Josefina's in a pretty pink and mauve floral empire-waist dress and lace shawl I got for her off eBay a few years ago. Went with the modern beige, pink, and gold Sweet Spring Dress from a few years ago, paired with the pink tights from the Ballet Outfit and the yellow t-strap shoes from Kit's Scooter Outfit for Jessa. Molly's in her plaid School Outfit, white tights, and Sam's "meet" outfit Mary Janes. Whitney's heading out to the lake for ice frolics in Molly's red and blue Skating Outfit with the tight fleece sweater and swirly red skirt, white tights, and Springfield Collection skates. Felicity's wearing her Laced Jacket and Petticoat.

Charlie came in and out a few times as I was finishing the girls. It took him and the other plumber literally all afternoon, but yes, they apparently fixed the pipes. I did offer them some cookies as they cooled. They seemed really happy with them. Charlie said he could smell the cookies baking as they worked on the porch.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening finishing my story. Kathleen despairs of being able to help Darren, until she discovers that her words literally have power. When she speaks, they become part of the story she was writing earlier...and they give her the power to defeat the evil Lady Sylvia and revive Darren and restore his human form. She suggests that they turn the Villa into a place where people can admire the gardens and create stories of their own. They marry and do just that and live happily ever after. 

Thankfully, this one came out MUCH shorter than my previous stories. I really did intend to keep this simple. It's on my blog if anyone's interested:

Since that one came out pretty well, I'm going to do the Star Wars fairy tale next and put off the 80's spoof until I've worked on it a bit more. I've come up with some pretty good ideas for this one. Princess Leia of the Kingdom of Aldran is supposed to be at her last ball before she joins the Court of the Seven Kingdoms. She'd rather be anywhere else...especially when her evil guardian appears, burns the kingdom, and kidnaps her. The two handsome gentlemen whom she met at the ball, who claimed to be a prince and a knight (when they were really a roguish thief and a stable boy training to be a knight) rescue her, leaving behind a strange sword and a dilapidated gypsy carriage called the Falcon. She seeks them out, but her guardian, a knight and a strong black magic sorcerer, isn't far behind. He has no intention of letting his daughter marry a penniless thief with no political alliance, but the innocent knight-in-training may be useful...

I'm going to hopefully start it tomorrow. I more-or-less intend for it to be a blend of several familiar fairy and folk tales, including "Cinderella," "King Arthur," "Rapunzel," "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty," and "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." I'm once again going to try to keep it relatively short, though it'll probably be longer than the story I just finished. We'll see how it goes.

Finished out the night with lobster cakes and escarole with mushrooms sauteed in lime sauce for dinner. Ran the end of the first Sailor Moon disc and the beginning of the second one as I ate. While the majority of the episodes in the "Doom Tree" arc are fluff and filler, there's some surprisingly scary or action-packed tales to be found here. The episode about the Cherry Blossom Festival and how Sailor Moon gets a new weapon and a power upgrade is actually rather chilling. There's at least two episodes where the monsters attack groups of little kids and babies for their energy. (Come to think of it, the emphasis on children in many of these episodes almost seem like foreshadowing for the prominence of Chibi-Usa in the next arc.) Another episode introduces Makoto's close guy friend Kenji, who is drained so badly by a monster, Makoto donates blood to him. And there's Usagi's continuing attempts to get Mamoru to remember who she is and their relationship. Not to mention, Ann and Ali are experiencing love for the first time...and they're both very jealous of Usagi and Mamoru and will do anything to get them out of the way.

The snow stopped while I was writing. It started raining shortly after I got online and has been raining on and off ever since. It's supposed to continue tomorrow - once again, we'll see. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Riverside Valentine

Began a sunny, bitterly cold day with Collier's Book of Holidays. They only have one story for Valentine's Day, but it's the charming The Valentine's Box, about a shy little girl who makes friends after she helps a classmate round up her wayward valentines in the snow. I also did a couple of poems and the last two chapters of Changes for Samantha. Samantha Parkington learns about love and compassion when she helps her friend Nellie and her sisters escape from a nasty orphanage shortly before Valentine's Day.

When I finally got up, I moved onto the two Peanuts Valentine's specials. A Charlie Brown Valentine is a series of skits revolving around the kids' various attempts at courtship. Chuck is trying to get the Little Red Haired Girl's attention, but he ends up taking Peppermint Patty and Marcie to the dance instead. Sally and Lucy just wish their crushes would pay at least a little attention to them. Snoopy finds himself drafted to write love notes (bad ones) for the crew.

The earlier Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown is a less-lighthearted take on the perpetual Peanuts love affairs. Linus has a crush on his teacher Miss Othmar; Sally thinks he's bought that huge box of chocolate for her. Chuck is hoping against hope that he might get a briefcase full of valentines.

The Peanuts aren't the only animated characters from the 60's and 70's who had trouble on Valentine's Day. Pink at First Sight has The Pink Panther working as a singing delivery boy in order to raise money to impress a girl. Trouble is, very few people, from a jealous husband to a group of gangsters, appreciate his attempts to deliver their holiday gifts.

Darn it. I didn't have much more luck with breakfast than the Peanuts did chasing each other. My Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Pancakes fell apart, and I burned one. I couldn't finish them. Just as well - I barely had enough time to get ready and go to work as it was.

Work, thankfully, wasn't nearly as busy as last weekend. It didn't begin well. A manager took me aside and said a woman complained about me being rude to her yesterday. I totally don't remember. Ironically, about a half-hour before I left, I got a compliment from two customers who said they liked how I was always pleasant and have a smile on my face, even when I'm riding my bike (they were evidently from Oaklyn). My relief was right on time, giving me the chance to treat myself to a Lindt Strawberry Cheesecake-filled milk chocolate stick bar before I headed home.

Spent the next hour and a half writing. Kathleen tries to rush to Darren's side. Lady Sylvia doesn't like that at all. She considers Darren to be her personal property. She demonstrates her dark magic by knocking Kathleen across the room.

Finished out the night with an escarole and cheese omelet and a slice of banana-chocolate chip bread. Listened to my Hearbeat of the 80's K-Tel album while I ate. This is a collection of ballads from the early 80's, mainly duets like "Baby, Come to Me." The only one I don't recognize is Paco's "Shoot the Moon."

And while my Valentine's Day wasn't terribly exciting, I hope you had one that was a lot more fun and romantic!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Warming Up the Weekend

It was sunny but very, very windy when I got up this morning. I could hear the wind howling as I put on a couple of Valentine's Day specials during breakfast. Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers has an Elmer Fudd-like Cupid spreading love among the Toons in a series of segments from various shorts. Bugs insists he's meddling, until he gets shot with Cupid's arrow himself.

Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acres Woods crew learns a lesson in friendship in Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You. They find Christopher Robin making a valentine for a girl he likes and automatically assume he likes her more than them. Owl tells them he's been bitten by the "Smitten" bug. They go looking for the "Smitten" to change him back to normal.

"Un-Valentine's Day" is an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Thanks to the overwhelming amount of valentines Pooh sent the year before, Rabbit cancels the holiday all together. Pooh, however, gets a pot of honey on the big day. This leads to cakes flying, Piglet making massive hearts, and Rabbit putting on a romantic play for Christopher Robin that goes comically wrong. But who did send the original pot of honey?

Work was busy to steady all afternoon. While some customers got a little ornery, it wasn't anything like last weekend. My relief was on time, and there were no really major problems. I picked up cereal (Life was the only thing on remotely a good sale) and a birthday present for Jessa - a stuffed Beanie Baby owl - on the way out. (The owl was amazingly cheap, only $1.49 - it must have been a Halloween item that got mixed in with the Valentine's Day toys.)

When I got home, I spent the next hour or so working on the story. The evil Lady Sylvia wants Kathleen to give up the stories she's written to get Darren...and her own story, her memories. Kathleen won't do it, but she's worried about Darren...

Headed to Dad's around quarter after 6 to celebrate Jessa's birthday. Jessa wasn't there when I arrived, but Khai (already in his pajamas) was, along with one of the neighbors and their kids. They weren't there for long, but Joe and Jessa showed up with Joe's three kids. Alexa, a good friend of Jessa's, showed up later.

Jessa requested fondue for dinner. We had chicken and beef chunks in hot oil and bread and a vegetable tray in cheese. It was so tasty. Dessert was a box of tiny tarts and cakes from Desserts By Design. (Joe had to hold Jessa's number candles when they were lit, since they obviously weren't going to fit in tartlets and little cakes.) It was all very tasty. In addition to the stuffed owl (which she loved), Jessa got a new laptop from Jodie and Dad.

I spent a lot of the night watching Khai run around with Joe's two younger kids, Little Joe and Dannica. We drew hearts and Pac Man and the elder Han and Leia from Force Awakens on a huge cardboard box that the kids used as a spaceship all night. When they weren't trying to figure out how two boys could fit in one long but fairly slender box, they were screaming and chasing each other. I alternated between watching their antics and warming up by the roaring fire in the office/living room area. Headed home after we all finished dessert.

Incidentally, yesterday's snow dusting was already melting by the time I left for work around noon. The wind blew the rest of it away.

Oh, and in honor of Valentine's Day tomorrow, here's a rare Disney Channel special my sisters and I watched every February in the 1980's. Like Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers, it's a series of segments from various shorts. No real plot, but the narration that links it is pretty cute, and there's some nice music, too. I always thought the ballad "Disney Girls" was written for this special. It wasn't - it's an old Captain and Tenille song.

From Disney With Love

Friday, February 12, 2016

Snow Wishes

Began a sunny but very cold morning with a quick but fun movie while I ate breakfast and got ready for work. Wakko's Wish was intended as a strange finale to Animaniacs. The cast of the show play the citizens of a downtrodden town that's been brought into poverty by an evil king and his goofy tax collectors. When Wakko wishes on a star that his sister Dot could have an operation, the star actually falls to Earth...and now everyone, from Slappy Squirrel and her nephew to the Warner siblings to the evil king to Pinky and the Brain and many others, are determined to find that star and get the happy endings they're hoping for.

Work wasn't too bad later in the evening, but it was crazy early in the day. Once again, people weren't always in the best of moods, either. I spent the down time and my break working on story ideas. I've decided I'll go into the Star Wars fairy tale after I finish the story I'm currently working on. I still want to do the 80's high school story, but it needs more work. I'm planning on the fairy tale mix being shorter and a bit less complicated.

It did slow down long enough for me to close with no relief. Which may not have been smart. Ten minutes after I closed, the lines got long. That was a pain. I didn't have a lot of grocery shopping to do, but I had some. Restocked canned pineapple and mandarin oranges, grapefruit, apples, bananas, cake mix, and buttermilk. Chicken is on a 40% off sale. I picked up legs for about $2.48. I've been eyeing a thin Star Wars Entertainment Weekly making-of book for almost two months now, but it's expensive, and I didn't have the money.

My schedule for next week is almost exactly the same as this week, with some slightly different times next weekend. I still don't have enough hours, but thanks to my tax return and the big paycheck I got from my one busy week, it's not as devastating as it was last summer and early fall. It also means for the second year in a row, I have President's Day off. I will more than likely spend the week finishing off my current story and starting the Star Wars story. If I get nice weather on any of my days off, I might go for a ride.

It was just starting to do a little of something, snow or rain, when I headed to the mall in the back for dinner at Tu Se Bella's. I just missed the crowd. Even with no line, I still had to wait nearly ten minutes for my slice of cheese and slice of broccoli rabe and sausage pizza and bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper. I ended up eating my pizza in the main dining area because the tables near the counter were all taken.

The light rain shower was becoming a light snow shower as I rode home. It looked very pretty coming down. It seems to have left us with a dusting of snow...which could be a problem, since it's supposed to be literally freezing for the rest of the weekend. I hope it doesn't get too icy.

Oh, and I made the one and only order I'm planning on with this tax return. I kept things simple. Got the Sailor Moon Season 2, Vol 1 DVD set. The DVD set for Vol 2 is still kind of expensive. That one may have to wait for my birthday. They finally had the Signature version of Ginger Breadhouse for a good price. I really haven't been able to find her original version anywhere.

I'm generally trying to stay out of the Star Wars "Legends/Expanded Universe" novels. I'm beginning to remember one of the reasons I dropped this fandom to begin with - that whole thing just got too complicated for me. However, I know they've recently released some stories that revolve around characters from the Original Trilogy during the movies, and I couldn't resist a stand-alone story featuring a married (but before any version of their kids) Han and Leia, Tatoonie Ghost. I always did like the few stories that involved them together.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cold Cartoons

I awoke to the sound of a chainsaw cutting into wood. I have no idea what Charlie was doing on the porch this morning, other than cutting a long rectangle into it. (He did have it covered by the time I got home.) I ran a Backyardigans episode to drown out the noise. "Cops and Robots" gives us Tyrone and Uniqua as intergalactic police officers in pursuit of "bad 'bots" Tasha and Pablo. If they succeed in getting into the robot factory and flipping the switch, they'll turn all the robots in the galaxy bad!

Work was on-and-off busy, but absolutely nothing like the weekend. It was so quiet early on, I spent most of the morning either working on story ideas or doing returns. It did pick up a little bit later...but by that time, I was getting ready to go. The weather may have scared people off. Despite the sunshine, it was freezing cold today, and is supposed to remain so throughout the weekend.

When I got home, I went right into writing. Kathleen confronts the evil Lady Sylvia. All she wants is Darren back. Lady Sylvia wants the stories she's been writing...and her own "story" and memories. She'll trade Darren, still in his demon form, for them. Kathleen won't do anything until she sees Darren. Sylvia orders him dragged in, bound and still in his demon form. She'll restore him and let him go if Kathleen gives up the stories.

Did a quick Looney Tunes compilation movie while eating leftovers for dinner and making Banana-Chocolate Chip Bread. 1001 Rabbit Tales (mostly) showcases shorts that spoof fairy tales, like the Speedy Gonzoles vehicle "The Pied Piper of Guadaloupe" and the Sylvester short "Goldilocks and the Three Cats," but it may be most famous for using "One Froggy Evening" as its finale. Bugs and Daffy are book sales-toons competing to see who can sell the most kids' books. While Daffy's trying to get north, Bugs ends up getting waylaid by Sultan Sam and his spoiled son, who insist Bugs play Scheherazade and read them some stories. One of the cuter Looney Tunes "movies" of the late 70's and 80's has no full cartoons, but it does showcase bits from some of Termite Terrace's best, including "Gorilla My Dreams" and "Froggy Evening."

Oh, and my tax return showed up last night. I'm not going to do nearly as much with it as I have in previous years. Most of it will be going into savings or my rent. I do want to take another writing class, and I'd like to pick up the Sailor Moon Season 2 DVD sets somewhere along the line.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

That's Galactic Entertainment

I was even more surprised to see that it was sunny when I got up this morning, and a bit windy. It looked like it may have snowed a tiny bit overnight, but it was barely a dusting, and nothing on the street. I was able to run the errands I had planned after breakfast with no problems.

The big one was the Oaklyn Library (after peeking at Studio LuLoo to see if they were open - they were not). I returned the DVDs I took out last week and worked on organizing other ones. Maybe the talk of the weather scared people off? I was the only one there the entire half-hour besides the librarian and the Weather Channel.

Hit WaWa for lunch. I opted for a simple turkey hoagie with spinach, pickles, and tomatoes. Tossed in a Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie as well. This was pretty much a strawberry milkshake with chocolate chips and bits mixed in. The strawberry part was tasty enough. The chocolate bits...were a good idea in theory, but in actuality, they kept getting jammed in my straw. It ended up being yummy, but a bit hard to drink.

When I got home, I ate my sandwich while continuing That's Entertainment, which I began during breakfast. This is the original documentary compiling clips from many, many popular MGM musicals of the late 20's through the late 50's. While many of the clips are familiar - Judy Garland in sepia wishing she could go over the rainbow, Gene Kelly singin' in the rain - others are from smaller musicals or ones you might not have heard of, like Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter's charming "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" from the early 20th-century-set Two Weeks With Love and part of Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry the Mouse in "The Worry Song" from Anchors Aweigh.

Did writing next. Kathleen does make it into the villa. Darren described the villa as a beautiful place, but to her, it radiates coldness and evil. She's lead to an enormous library where she encounters the stunning, red-headed Lady Sylvia, who claims to own the villa. Sylvia taunts the young woman, calling her plain and wondering how she could ever have a story of any importance. Kathleen stands her ground. She just wants Darren back, and will do anything to get him.

Finally got to finishing the cleaning while Entertainment ended and afterwards. I've been meaning to vacuum and dust for over a week, but I've kept putting it off. Put up the Valentine's Day decorations as well.

Switched to throwing together leftovers for dinner and making Mandarin Orange Muffins while watching Galaxy Quest. Galaxy Quest was a popular Star Trek-style sci-fi show in the early 80's. It's been canceled for decades, but loyal fans keep packing conventions to see the show's original stars. Not that the original stars are happy about it. They feel trapped in their roles, especially the cocky, me-first actor who played the ship captain (Tim Allen) and his alien assistant (the late Alan Rickman). They get a huge surprise when they're recruited by an alien race who thinks their show is a "historical document" and wants them to fight an evil galactic overlord. The crew discovers just how important their relationships with each other and their fans are when it turns out they need some crucial information to save the ship that only their tech-obsessed fans would know...

This love letter to fandom in general and sci-fi fandoms in particular has been a favorite of mine since I saw it twice in the theater back in 1999. Everyone's having a great time, including Tony Shalhoub as the most laid-back sci-fi star you'll ever see, Signorney Weaver as the show's only female star, and Sam Rockwell as a guy along for the ride who keeps worrying about getting killed. If you've ever been involved with a fandom, any fandom, you'll probably get as big a kick out of this one as I do.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Almost a Winter Wonderland

To my surprise, it was merely wet when I finally got up this morning. No snow, no rain, no anything. Even so, after I finished Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I honored the weather anyway with Frosty Returns. This odd 90's special isn't a follow-up to the original Rankin-Bass Frosty the Snowman. Frosty helps two kids whose town winter carnival may not go on after a nasty executive creates an aerosol quick-snow-removal spray.

I didn't get out to do the laundry until past 12:30. Thankfully, the weather must have scared people off. Other than one or two people, it was mostly quiet. I listened to the news and The Chew and read the Star Wars FAQ. I'm glad it was quiet. I had a ton of laundry to do today, including my new pants and work shirts.

It was just starting to snow when I rode home. As soon as I put everything away, I went right back out. Snow or no snow, I had errands to run. Besides, though it was coming down as big, wet flakes, it wasn't sticking to anything, not even the ground. I had lunch at a Friendly's. They were surprisingly busy for 2:30 in the afternoon on a day with some fairly bad weather. I had a simple grilled chicken sandwich and fries, along with the Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream (my favorite Friendly's flavor) topped with hot fudge and whipped cream. 

The snow was slowing down, even as I headed to the Haddon Township Library for this week's session there. I decided to leave the DVDs to the kids and helped the librarians find titles on the racks they'd been searching for. After I found everything but a bunch of new release books, I shelved a big stack of items on hold. (And I didn't take anything out again. In fact, I returned books. I don't know when I'll have the time to watch anything.)

The snow was down to sprinkles when I headed over to the Westmont Plaza. I didn't really need much there anyway. I rushed in Thriftway to grab milk - they were dead. Picked up a new notebook to write story ideas in at Dollar Tree. Neither place was busy.

(Also, I noticed the Westmont Game Stop seems to have vanished. That's odd. They seemed to be doing fine at Christmas, when I bought a Bowser Amiibo figure for Lauren from there. They were always kind of quiet, though.)

It started raining and snowing again shortly after I got home. It's been raining and snowing on and off the rest of the night. I worked on my story for a while. The old woman who tells Kathleen that the evil Lady Sylvia is stealing stories tells her she won't get into the villa dressed as a peasant. She gives her a beautiful gown, and she passes herself off as a noblewoman to get past the stuffy butler at the door.

Finished the night with an episode of Wonder Woman from the third season. With my own re-entry into the Star Wars fandom, I thought "Spaced Out" was rather appropriate. Diana Prince finds herself among people who are even stranger than some of her Justice League buddies - late 70's sci-fi fans at a convention. She has to dodge the cosplayers and save jewels that can make lasers from a wily thief and the men who intend to buy the jewels from him. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

In the Year of the Monkey

Started a sort-of-sunny, chilly day with a few remaining football-themed shorts I didn't get to on Saturday. Hello Kitty is "Cinderkitty" in Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater. This little kitten would rather be catching footballs than doing chores. She gets a chance to prove girls can do anything, even be a penguin prince's wide receiver, when magic allows her to attend the big game.

The Fleischers did two football cartoons featuring Popeye. The first, "You've Gotta Be a Football Hero," is more typical. Popeye gets on the field to take down Bluto's team in order to impress Olive. "The Football Toucher-Downer" has Popeye telling Swee'Pea the story of how he first started eating spinach - during a football game when he was younger. I also snuck in "King of the Mardi Gras," since Mardi Gras is on Wednesday. Popeye and Bluto are once again competing for Olive's affections, this time on the Mardi Gras midway.

Headed out to King's Highway around 10. I wanted to be on time for the bus to Moorestown without rushing for once. Everything went fine. I made it with time to buy a pineapple-coconut sparkling water and get change at CVS and still got across the busy street well before the bus arrived. The bus was surprisingly busy for the Moorestown run. A couple of folks actually went all the way with me.

Explored the mall itself when I arrived. The FYE was a disorganized mess. I didn't see anything I absolutely needed. After a quick bathroom break at the movie theater (and dodging the Starbucks that somehow sprung up across from FYE in the Food Court hallway), I took a quick peek at a toy store, then hit Boscov's. Though I looked at toys, I was mainly there for pants, the only clothes I really need right now. I replaced a pair of work pants with Lee twill trousers, and picked up a pair of brown corduroys as well.

My next stop was the gigantic Barnes and Noble in one of the shopping centers surrounding the Moorestown Mall. I was there for over an hour. I just couldn't decide! I did see a coffee table book on musicals that looked interesting, but in addition to not wanting to haul it home, it was forty bucks. I ended up spending $25 on the Star Wars FAQ (or really more Star Wars Original Trilogy FAQ - it just briefly discusses the Prequels in the last chapters).

Had a very quick lunch next. It was past 2, and I was starving. In honor of today's Chinese New Year (it's the Year of the Monkey), I ate at Pei Wei. Needless to say on an Asian holiday, they were fairly busy, with a long-ish line that thankfully moved fast. I had sweet and sour chicken with brown rice and chai iced tea.

Went in and out of a few stores next. I wanted to get Dad-Bill a birthday card at Hallmark (it's tomorrow). Ended up getting myself three "Itty Bitties," tiny, adorable versions of popular characters. To my amusement, their versions of Han and Leia were packaged together, on cardboard printed to resemble the Millennium Falcon. And of course, since I got Han, I had to get Chewie, too. And yes, I got Dad his card.

(Star Wars isn't the only popular franchise from my childhood that's turned up at Hallmark recently. I was surprised to see Rainbow Brite merchandise there, too, including books. I thought they gave up on her after the last two or three times their attempts at resuscitating the character didn't work out. At the very least, what I saw of toys and books they had looked pretty close to the original. We'll see how this goes.)

A stop at Best Buy took even less time. I wanted to see if they had the Sailor Moon Season 2 sets. After spending 10 minutes just finding the DVDs and Blue Ray section (it was shoved in a corner in the back), I discovered they did have the first Season 2 set...but only on Blu-Ray. I think I'll probably just pick these up on

I was hot from all that hiking around. A chocolate-covered strawberry water ice from Rita's really hit the spot. I got to enjoy it at the now-completely remodeled food court at the main Mall. The industrial white color scheme had been replaced by slightly mellower hues of dark brown and tan. Charley's was replaced by Bassett's; the sushi place and pizzeria were different, too. The only holdovers from the original Food Court were Subway and Saladworks. A small sit-down restaurant replaced one of the booths. I sat at the island/counter in the very center of the court and watched people go by as I ate.

I took the 4:07 home. It was right on time, and encountered no problems whatsoever getting in. The traffic was pretty heavy in Audubon when I arrived. I had to do a lot of dodging cars riding home, especially on King's Highway and down by Cuthbert.

When I got in, I put on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom while having leftovers from the party yesterday for dinner. Everyone's favorite swashbuckling archaeologist (Harrison Ford) is now in India (after a stop in Shanghai), accompanied by a Chinese kid and a fussy singer who would rather be anywhere but outside. They discover that a stone that may have magical powers has been stolen from a starving village...along with the village's children. Indiana and his friends travel to the depths of the Temple of Doom, where they encounter a cult that pulls hearts from chests, a wild mine-train ride, a child ruler, and a lot of Asian Indian stereotypes.

So...yeah, we'll start by talking about the stereotypes. There's a lot of them, and they can get a bit ugly after a while, especially during the dinner and the sequence with the cult. There's also the fact that this is all pure fantasy and has very little to do with real Indian religion. This can also get really, well, gross. Willie's not the only person disgusted by that infamous dinner with bugs and eels on the menu, and that doesn't even go into the whole "ripping the heart out of the chest" thing. And while I do like Short Round, Willie is just annoying as heck and more of a load than anything.

On the other hand, there's some set pieces here that's as famous as anything in the other movies. The opening is Shanghai is a lot of fun, "Anything Goes" musical number and all. So's the intense finale on the bridge. And the mine train ride is probably one of the most imitated and beloved sequences from any of the Indiana Jones movies.

This was my favorite of the Indiana movies when I was a kid. Nowadays, though I like some sequences, it's not even close. (That would be Last Crusade, by the way.) I'd be iffy on showing this one to very young kids, due to the violence and icky imagery. (There's a reason this movie lead to the creation of the PG-13 rating.) This one is for older kids and young teens on up who can handle the violence and understand that the stereotypes date from the time this was set.

Ended the night with a much-needed bath. My feet felt so sore after trooping around Moorestown all day! I read Quiet, a book on introversion and why it's not a bad thing, and listened to one of my Unsung Musicals CDs.

It's been cloudy since mid-afternoon, but it didn't start snowing until just a few hours ago. It's not heavy right now, just an inch or two. It stopped some time ago. We'll see how things look tomorrow.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Journey to Super Bowls Past

For once, I got up with enough time to not only have a decent breakfast of Banana Pancakes and half a grapefruit, but to work on writing, too. Kathleen follows Darren in his demon form to the tangled Technicolor garden surrounding the villa. There, she encounters a strange old woman who may know what the evil Lady Sylvia is after and why Darren took off...and a way to get in the villa.

Work was, once again, busy as heck and not much fun. I don't know what got into people this weekend. Our customers remained rude, obnoxious, and demanding. One man fussed noisily over not getting his cereal on sale, despite the fact that the sign clearly stated that you needed to buy four boxes of cereal to get the sale. People were in a hurry. People didn't want to bag or really do much of anything. I was ready to tear out my hair - or tear them all to shreds - by the time my relief arrived.

At least we were still doing samples. I had a rather nice little lunch. In addition to the roast beef, Italian organic soda, mini chocolate chip cookies, and French bread and salsa from yesterday, this time, they added bits of crab cake and rolled up deli meat and cheese.

I couldn't wait to get out of there. When I got home, I changed into regular clothes and my Eagles jersey and rested for about a half-hour before heading to Dad's. Jessa said yesterday that Dad and Jodie invited Rose and her boys and Mark and Vanessa over for some food and a quiet little get-together to watch the game.

Nothing is ever quiet on either side of my family. Mark and Vanessa were there when I arrived, but so were Jesse, Dana, Erica, and several neighbors, including one couple with an adorable baby son. Rose, Craig, and Khai arrived just before the game started. Another set of neighbors came over during the beginning of the first quarter, these with Khai's buddies Mary and Emily. Jessa and Joe arrived later. Jesse and Dana announced their engagement (after dating seriously for five years). They won't be getting married for another year or two, until Dana is out of college.

I also got to admire all the remodeling Dad and Jodie have done. The living room looks great. The faded, dated stenciled paint job was replaced by deep brown wooden walls, a fireplace, more of Pop Pop's (Dad-Bruce's dad) artwork, and a really cool book-themed wallpaper on the doors to the walk-in supply closet. The kitchen was basically left alone except for to paint over the stenciling.

There was tons and tons of food. I lost count of everything I had. I saw black bean dip, shrimp scampi, a broiled version of Jodie's amazing ribs, buffalo chicken dip, tortilla chips, two meat and cheese trays (one with grapes), mini cupcakes from the Acme, a Dutch apple pie, Craig's tasty tomato mac & cheese, a delicious lasagna, Caesar salad, French bread with butter, and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, among other things. I probably tried a little bit of just about everything. Which was likely a mistake. I'm full as heck now. Jodie even gave me a plate of leftovers to take home.

I mostly played in the den with the kids while the game ran in the background. They chased each other around. We drew pictures first on Dad's dry-erase board, then on actual paper with markers and crayons. (They drew someone called Freddy the Fox pirate from some video game. I drew Han and Leia arguing in the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. I always thought those two were hilarious.) We built houses and more Freddy the Foxes with Legos.

When the amazing half-time came on, we danced to Coldplay and Beyonce and Bruno Mars, along with Craig and Mary and Emily's mom. We talked about our favorite Star Wars characters and what music we liked. (Emily was shocked when I told her Harrison Ford had played Indiana Jones as well as Han Solo. Her mind was so blown, she had to tell every adult within earshot this new tidbit of information.)

I left just as the second half was starting. It was getting late, and I did have to take the bike home. Besides, most of the families and several other folks were going as well. Oh, and incidentally, while the Panthers tried, Cam Newton just couldn't get past the Broncos' defense. The Broncos finally won Super Bowl 50 24-10.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Football Fairy Tales

Began a sunny, breezy morning with football-themed cartoons in honor of the Super Bowl tomorrow. It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown has the Peanuts hitting the field to play in the big homecoming game. Snoopy's filming the game and is cheering up a storm. Lucy refuses to let Charlie Brown kick anything. Chuck's more interested in the dance afterwards - he's the escort for the Little Red Haired Girl.

"Touchdown Mickey" is a black-and-white Disney short that has Mickey's scrappy mouse as the world's least-likely Cam Newton. He's determined to get past those big cats on the opposing side and win this one for Minnie and Clarabelle! (Goofy's a pretty unlikely Al Michaels, too.)

Work was steady when I came in, but it picked up around noon and stayed crazy the rest of the night. It was a total pain in the rear. You'd think people getting ready for the Super Bowl would be in better moods. People were rude. They were obnoxious. They were demanding. They handed me six thousand coupons for everything and wouldn't help bag. I spent the entire afternoon wishing I could Force-choke half my clientele. I did see Jessa on her way out. Dad and Jodie are inviting family over for the game tomorrow. I'll probably join them.

(And I was able to work on yet another Star Wars idea in my head. Heavens only knows when this one will come to fruition. It's the lawless 20's in Los Angeles. Luke is an orphaned newsboy who is aiming to become a great crime reporter. Leia is the adopted flapper daughter of a senator and a movie star looking to stamp out crime in the City of Angels. Ben Kenobi was a star reporter, but he stepped down when his old partner got involved in the very corruption he was writing about. Derek Veder, the corrupt owner and editor of the Los Angeles Daily Empire, catches Leia, but she's turned the plans with his criminal activities over to two perpetually bickering comic actors who are looking for a break. They in turn run into Luke and his mentor Ben. The quartet hire low-level rum-runners Han and Chewie to first get them to Leia's parents, and then when it's discovered they've been murdered, to rescue Leia from Veder's stronghold.)

Not all was horrible at work. We're having our second Open House weekend. This pretty much translates to "more samples." I tried the bakery's brownies (ooh, nice and yummy and chewy) and mini chocolate chip cookies, bacon, French bread slices with store-made salsa, the Italian organic soda again, and slices of deli roast beef. Picked up grapefruit (which I forgot yesterday), sugar (Domino's was on a really good sale), and a roll for a meatball sandwich for dinner after work.

When I got home, I put everything away, then worked on writing. Kathleen, now realizing what Lady Sylvia has done to her nephew, hurries home. She's too late. All the shutters and curtains have been torn down, allowing the last rays of the setting sun to transform Darren into his demon form. Smaller demons, sent by the Lady Sylvia, try to take him away and steal Kathleen's stories. She frees Darren, then helps him get rid of the demons. He's still worked up when they finish, though, and takes off. She follows him.

Finished out the night with a meatball sandwich with Colby cheese and escarole and the last of the frozen green beans. Ran Happily Ever After while I ate. The last project of TV animation studio Filmation was this odd sequel to Snow White. Snow White is attacked by the evil Lord Maliss, the Queen's brother. The Prince is kidnapped, but she flees. Looking for the Seven Dwarves, she instead finds the Dwarfelles, who control nature, and Mother Nature herself. The unlikely group goes in search of Maliss, helped along the way by a strange little man who seems to have a connection to Snow White. An interesting plot, stronger Snow White than usual for this fairy tale, the funny Dwarfelles, and fairly frightening villain make up for so-so animation, useless comic relief animals, and lousy songs.