Thursday, March 31, 2016

Princess Power

Spent most of the morning writing. I started my next fanfic, the second half of the Star Wars fairy tale. The Rebels In the Woods have been driven into the snowy Kingdom of Hoth, and are aggressively attacking Imperial nobles and stealing their wordly goods to sell for money and provisions for the poor. One particular pair of Imperial nobles are aware of what they've heard. They're on their way to a party through Hoth when a branch falls...and they hear people coming down after their valuables...

Work was, once again, very boring. We just didn't have enough help for most of it, which is why I was on the register for most of the day. I did do some returns when I came in and rounded up carts at one point. It was so slow by 6, I was able to shut down with obviously no relief (since I wasn't supposed to have been in the register in the first place). Didn't help that one of the managers was out, and no one had any real idea about what anyone was supposed to do for a lot of the afternoon.

I got through Sofia the First this morning and when I got home from work. Made leftovers and Chocolate Chip-Coconut Muffins for dinner as I watched. All but two of these episodes feature Sofia's encounter with Disney's princess ensemble. Belle teaches Sofia that actions mean more than words when she can't stop croaking before a big performance in "The Amulet and the Anthem." "Winter's Gift" has Sofia seeking the perfect Wassalia present for Cedric. Tiana proves to Sofia that a gift doesn't need to be fancy if it comes from the heart when Sofia tries to help a faun get rid of an unwanted power. It's "Princesses to the Rescue" when Amber and Sofia and their Asian friend June go after their fathers and brothers, who are trapped in a cave. Mulan shows this trio of explorers that you don't have to be big or male to be a hero.

"Minimus Is Missing" also taught the girls a lesson about being strong. Amber is afraid to learn to ride a flying horse, until they all go missing. They ride the griffiths from the Jewel Room to the Hanging Gardens, where they find out what's happened to the horses. It's Amber who figures out the best way to get them back. We return to the sea and to Sofia's mermaid friend Oola for "Cool Hand Fluke." Fluke is a merboy who is always showing off. He doesn't like the attention Sofia gets when she comes for a visit and is determined to show that he's just as important as this royal newcomer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Happy Endings

I was so happy to awake to a glorious, sunny spring day that I actually had off! Not only that, but I finished The Phantom of the Opera this morning, the last book on my Book List. I sprained my ankle in the fall of 2012 and was stuck at home for two months. One of the few good things that came out of that was I realized just how many books I owned that I either hadn't read at all, or hadn't read in years, or even decades in a few cases. Somewhere around February 2013, I took it upon myself to finally read them all. Of course, I bought quite a few, and received others as gifts along the line.

And I learned many things from this, chief among them being I need to stop putting off reading books when I get them. From now on, when I buy a book or take it out of the library, it goes on the "to be read" pile on my nightstand before it goes on a shelf. And I need to re-read the books I have more often.

Ran a quick Dr. Seuss special while eating breakfast. Dr. Seuss On the Loose is one of my favorite of the Seuss half-hour adaptations of the 70's and 80's. It's an anthology of three very short Seuss tales, the first two of which came from the Dr. Seuss On the Loose book. "The Sneeches" are yellow creatures, some with green stars on their stomachs, who live on the beaches. Sneeches with stars snub those who don't have them, until a monkey con-artist and his machines teach both groups a lesson in equality. "The Zax" are two stubborn critters who refuse to move to let one another pass, even as the world continues around them. Sam I Am is determined to introduce his favorite dish, "Green Eggs and Ham," to one poor guy, even as the fellow tries his hardest to get away.

Headed out around quarter after 11 to run today's errands. My first stop was the Collingswood Hardware Store. I wanted to see if they had any drain stoppers for the bathtub. Thankfully, the nice old man who runs the store knew what I wanted and was able to lead me right to it.

It was such a nice day, I decided to explore Collingswood a little, since I hadn't been there in a while. A lot has changed there. They finally opened that "sports museum" in what used to be a bank. The Candy Jar and the Blue Moon olive oil store swapped storefronts. There's a little knick-knack store called Clutter in what used to be the thrift shop. I checked out Frugli Consignments and the Candy Jar, but didn't see anything I wanted.

I had more luck at that great record shop I first explored in early January. They were just as good to me on my second try. This time, I came up with The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole (which will be replacing my very old cassette copy) and a Broadway cast album I've wanted for years, the 1959 musical version of Destry Rides Again, with Andy Griffith as the title character and Dolores Gray as the saloon girl who (eventually) loves him. The CD is out of print and fairly hard to find, so I was glad to run into this one.

Decided to try somewhere new for lunch. Serena's Cafe replaced the little groceria in the former Woolworth's that shut down last November after only a few weeks of business. The place was jumping when I arrived there around 1:30. I was lucky to get one of the only single tables. Most of the tables were huge Ikea-esque things with heavy wooden tops and spindly modern metal bottoms. The soft off-white walls were decorated with old mirrors and vintage and modern maps of Collingswood. They had breakfast all day, so I opted to try the Apple and Cheddar Omelet, with sweet potato fries and multi grain toast. The fries were a bit overcooked and tough and the toast was a tad charred, but the omelet was delicious, nice and slightly sweet and with just enough cheese.

Went straight to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session there. They weren't much busier than we've been at work. There wasn't really much to shelve or organize, only a few adults' DVDs and no kids' stuff or new books or CDs. I did find a few DVDs to take out. They just got in some of Doris Day's movies. I went with her second pairing with Rock Hudson, Lover Come Back. Also grabbed First You Dream, a concert featuring music from the shows of Kander & Ebb, and a new Sofia the First set.

I didn't need anything in Westmont today, but it was so nice, I treated myself to a Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie at a very busy WaWa on the way home. Ahh, I needed that. It tasted nice, very strawberry, with graham cracker bits.

Spent the rest of the evening when I got in finishing the first half of my Star Wars fairy tale. Vader, who, as a half-demon, has wings, has arrived and is in pursuit of Luke. He just hurt the Emperor Dragon's wing with his sword when an arrow shoots him out of the sky. It's Han, riding triumphantly to the rescue on Chewbacca. Luke heals the Dragon, and they take out the rest of Vader's army as Vader just manages to get back to Bast Castle.

Leia and Wedge arrive as the Rebels round up the rest of Vader's men. They, Cecil, and a wounded Arthur found and repaired Luke's father's sword and the Falcon, to Han and Luke's delight. The Emperor Dragon and his clan wish them luck and tell them that if they're ever in need, to just use the Force, and they'll hear them. Han and Wedge drive the others into the Woods in the Falcon. Luke goes to check on the remaining Rebels...but as he does, he swears he sees a little green man watching him...

And this is just Part 1! Part 2 is a combination of Empire and Jedi, and will follow the plots of both a bit less closely. I'll be starting that tomorrow. For now, look for "A Star Wars Fairy Tale: New Hope" at my writing blog, Fanfiction.Net, and possibly Archive Of Our Own in the next few days.

Had time to do First You Dream as I threw together a "cheeseburger casserole" (ground chicken, tomato sauce, chicken stock, onions, celery, frozen green beans, and the last of the Monterrey Jack cheese). This is a concert showcasing some of the best work of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Though they're best known as the composer and lyricist for the stage and film versions of Chicago and Cabaret, their work spans the mid-60's through the mid 2000's and includes everything from the mother-daughter stage show The Rink to the famous title song from New York, New York to two interesting flops from the late 90's and mid 2000's, Steel Pier and Curtains. (The former provided the concert's title number.)

This is a lot more intimate than my huge all-star Sondheim concert, and the singers are mostly stage favorites. If you're a fan of classic Broadway and film musicals or Kander & Ebb, this is actually a very nice way to spend an hour (and even comes with extra songs that didn't make it into the hour-long PBS special).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

All In the Golden Afternoon

Began today with my second of three early work shifts this week. Once was really boring. I did have to take a register for the first hour, because there was only one other cashier at that point. I spent the rest of a sunny, windy day rounding up carts, doing returns, and pulling out boxes of plastic bags to put in the registers.

The good thing about going in early is you get out early. I was at home and eating lunch by 1:30. Ran a random first season episode of The Monkees as I enjoyed banana muffins and an apple. Davy wants to ask out a girl whose military father is very strict. He won't allow his daughter to attend any party without adult supervision. Micky Dolenz ends up playing "The Chaperone" for his best friend...and avoiding the girl's amorous father.

Headed out to do the laundry about an hour later. There wasn't a ton to do, but it needed to be done, including my work clothes. They were fairly busy when I arrived. I spent the hour working on story notes and half-listening to two women discover they had a lot in common. By the time I was done, so was everything else. The place was empty when I left.

Spent the next couple of hours working on my fanfic. Luke discovers that the head of the Sith Dragons is hurt - he has an arrow in his wing. The kind-hearted boy agrees to take it out if he doesn't eat him. It turns out the Dragons never wanted to be used as death machines, but the Empire drove them out of their homes and starved them until they did their bidding. Luke convinces the creature to help them clear the Empire out of the Enchanted Woods.

Ran Disney's animated version of Alice In Wonderland while eating leftover turkey ham and sauteed spinach and mushrooms for dinner. After she falls down a rabbit's hole, little Alice finds herself in a fantastic world, where dodos hold Caucus Races, Hatters and Hares attend wild tea parties and slap butter in watches, and one changes size at a moment's notice. All Alice wants to do is find out what that White Rabbit is up to and go home, but the bossy Queen of Hearts may not let her keep her head long enough to make it.

This is one of my favorite Disney movies. So it's bizarre and odd and has no real plot. So's the books it's based after. I just love seeing how Disney interpreted two of the great works of fantasy literature. This colorful series of skits isn't for people looking for a linear plot, but if you love Alice or creative fantasy, this one is actually pretty cute.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wild Is the Wind

I slept in this morning and barely got up with enough time to get the Easter decorations down and run a couple of classic 1940's Superman shorts. "The Mad Scientist," "The Bulleteers," and "The Billion Dollar Limited" are pretty typical go-arounds between Superman and an evil scientist or gangsters. "The Mechanical Monsters" gets a little more creative, with robots as the "monsters" stealing jewels from displays and money from banks. The most interesting is probably "The Arctic Giant," with its defrosted dinosaur rampaging in downtown Metropolis.

What I love about all of these is just how awesome Lois Lane is. She will literally stop at nothing to get her story, from facing down a dinosaur to climbing into the back of a jewel-stealing robot. Superman may get her out, but she's not always appreciative, more likely to meet him with a quip than a sigh. She wouldn't be this cool again until the 90's.

Work was once again fairly boring, especially early in the afternoon. It's the day after a major holiday and right before the beginning of the month. I think a lot of people may have gone on vacation, too. It did pick up around rush hour, but it slowed down enough by 6 that I was able to leave with no relief. I was glad to see they had plenty of bags of egg-shaped York mini Easter patties left, for once. I grabbed a bag and a quart of skim milk on my way out.

I had a hard time getting home on my bike. By 6 PM, the sun had come out, but the wind was howling something fierce. I could barely move on the bike at times, especially on the treeless White Horse Pike.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner while watching an episode of Wonder Woman. "The Girl From Illandia" is a mysterious blond child who is rescued from the water by a lonely millionaire. This kid is no Little Orphan Annie, though. She wears a necklace and bracelet that gives her powers similar to Wonder Woman's. She insists she's from another dimension and an evil genius kidnapped her. She hopes Wonder Woman can get her home, but Diana wonders if that's possible...and the millionaire is getting attached to the girl.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Parade at Home

I brightened a gray Easter morning with stories from Collier's Book of Holidays. "Nino's Easter" describes a typical Easter Sunday for a young boy in Italy in the early part of the 20th century. "The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes" tells the the tale of a mother rabbit who becomes one of the Easter Bunnies after the elder bunny sees how well she takes care of her children. Her first assignment is to get up a mountain to deliver goodies to a sick child, but she has help from a pair of gold shoes. There were also several Easter poems and an "Easter Hymn." Switched to the Disney 60's anthology Storybookland for the brief "Grandpa Bunny," supposedly based after "Funny Little Bunnies." Grandpa Bunny was the beloved Easter Bunny for many years. When he passes on, the other rabbits mourn him...but the little ones know where his legacy can be found...

Ran It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown as I made Coconut-Lemon Pancakes for the quickest holiday breakfast I could manage. The Peanuts are brimming with springtime preparations. Peppermint Patty tries to teach Marcie how to color eggs, with little luck. Snoopy buys a new birdhouse for Woodstock, while Sally and Chuck go shoe shopping. No need for all the fuss, says Linus. The Easter Beagle does all that. Sally's skeptical after the Great Pumpkin incident at Halloween. So's Lucy, who would rather hide and find her own eggs.

Work was...surprisingly steady the entire morning and early afternoon. After we were mobbed last year, I expected more of the same today. Not this time. We had perfectly normal crowds for a regular Sunday in late March, with longish but not overwhelming lines. This year, not only does Easter hit at the end of the month rather than the beginning, but the gloomy weather wasn't exactly conductive to random rides out to run errands. There was one very obnoxious older woman at the beginning of the afternoon who complained loudly because the cashier in before me had been talking to a customer about his flowers for too long. Otherwise, there were no problems, and my relief was on time.

When I got home, I made a few calls. I never heard from anyone on the Cape May side of the family today at all (though I did get an Easter card from Mom yesterday). Dad said he and Jodie were going out of town to visit family, and it sounded like Jessa and Joe were going to be at the movies. I was on my own.

That wasn't a bad thing. After all the craziness the last few weeks, a day to myself, with no one downstairs or anywhere else, was fine by me. I worked on writing for a few hours after I gave up on the phone. Luke, Wedge, and Biggs are attacked by two more younger dragons following the older one. Biggs goes after one, Wedge and Luke after the other. Wedge is knocked off his horse, which is blasted into cinders, along with his sword. Luke sends Wedge back to the Rebels on his horse to get help. He follows the remaining dragons into the woods, hoping to find Biggs before he gets toasted...

Returned to holiday programming as I started my dinner. I threw sweet potatoes and a bruised apple into a pan with my turkey ham and a brown sugar-chicken stock sauce into the oven, with honey-glazed carrots and a broiled grapefruit half for fruit and veggies. Made Carrot Coconut Cookies with the last of the carrots for dessert.

Did The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town while preparing the ham and potatoes and starting the cookies. Sunny Bunny is raised among the orphans of Kidsville and hopes to bring their beautiful eggs to the outside world. He inadvertently creates many Easter traditions as he attempts to get his colorful springtime treats around prudish Lady Lily Longtooth and to her nephew King Bruce.

Went into Easter Parade while making the carrots and grapefruit and during dinner. This classic 1948 MGM musical takes us to New York in the early 1910's. Vaudeville dancer Fred Astaire is devastated when his partner (Ann Miller) takes a solo role in The Ziegfeld Follies. In a fit of drunkenness, he chooses a girl from a bar chorus line (Judy Garland) to be his new partner. He tries to to make her into a copy of his original partner, but she's not a ballroom dancer - she's a comedienne. His best friend (Peter Lawford) pursues her, while his original partner pursues Lawford. All romantic complications are cleared up in time for New York's big parade on Easter morning (and so Garland can perform the title song).

Cute Technicolor fluff is short on story but long on great numbers, including two classic solos for Astaire ("Drum Crazy" and "Steppin' Out With My Baby"), the adorable duet "A Fella With An Umbrella" for Lawford and Garland,  and the hilarious "A Couple of Swells" for Garland and Astaire. Fun for fans of the big MGM musicals or the stars.

And I hope you had an equally lovely and quiet Easter day!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

In Spring the Easter Bunny Never Sleeps

 Began a gorgeous, sunny spring day with breakfast and The First Easter Rabbit. The only Rankin-Bass 2-D animated spring special is a cross between The Velveteen Rabbit and Frosty the Snowman. Stuffy was once the beloved toy of a little girl named Glinda. Glinda gets scarlet fever, and Stuffy is thrown out. A fairy takes pity on him and turns him into a real rabbit, the symbol of Easter and springtime for all children.

As soon as the cartoon ended, I changed the American Girl dolls into their Easter and good spring dresses. Samantha's in her Flower Picking Dress from last year, the pink ballet tights, and the strap shoes from her "meet" outfit. Molly's celebrating the season in her Polka-Dot Outfit, white bobby socks, and white t-strap shoes. Felicity wears her pink Birthday Gown and Pinner with the hat from Elizabeth's Summer Gown. Josefina is also in her birthday outfit, in this case her Fiesta Skirt and Ruffled Camisa. Whitney's in Kit's Springtime Outfit from a few years ago. Jessa has a new outfit on, a white satin modern dress with a full skirt and sleeveless cross-over bodice. The pearl-trimmed sandals that originally went with it don't fit Jessa. I gave her the mauve sandals from the Sparkle Sequin Outfit, which worked just as well. Since it's still pretty chilly out, she got that white ruffled Springfield Collection cardigan, too.

Had a "spinach pancake" (spinach, cheese, mushrooms, and eggs) for lunch while watching Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Peter (Casey Kasem) has to travel through a year's worth of holidays to defeat the evil Irontail (Vincent Price) and become the new Easter Bunny.

Went into writing for a while after I finished Peter Cottontail. The dragons are attacking the Rebels In the Woods. They're fighting valiantly, but the dragons burn them or eat them. Luke, Wedge, and Biggs are the last remaining men in their squadron. They're afraid they might be done for, but Luke has a that'll take them into a dark part of the Woods...

Did some spring-themed Max & Ruby while I was getting ready for work. "Ruby's Easter Bonnet" will be the most spectacular and flower-covered at the Bunny Scouts' Easter Bonnet Competition. Max just wants to teach his frog how to jump. Ruby and Louise are making Easter eggs for Grandma, but Max has other ideas in "Max's Easter Parade." "Max the Easter Bunny" keeps hiding the eggs the Bunny Scouts find at their Easter Egg Hunt. The girls think they're finding the same eggs over and over.

Work actually could have been a lot worse. It was steady, but not quite as busy as yesterday. I was only in the register for an hour. I spent most of the evening rounding up carts. That was fine by me. It was a beautiful day for it, windy and chilly but sunny and nothing out of the ordinary for late March in South Jersey.

I wanted to take a bath when I got home...but as it turned out, the drain plug didn't work nearly as well as I thought it would. It didn't really plug much of anything. The water just went down a little slower. Charlie threw the old stopper away. Granted, it was old and decaying and I really needed to replace it anyway, but if I'd known it wasn't going to work, I would have waited to get rid of it until I got a new one. I'll see if the Acme has them; if not, there's a nice little hardware store in Collingswood that has decent prices, or I could hike up to the Home Depot in Lawnside on my vacation week.

Oh, and here's two favorite Easter tales of mine on YouTube to celebrate with. To my knowledge, this cutesy but catchy Silly Symphony is Disney's only Easter cartoon to date:

Funny Little Bunnies

Brother Bear learns about the miracle of spring in this Bernstein Bears tale from 1981.

The Bernstein Bears' Easter Surprise

Here's hoping you find your own Easter miracles. Have a wonderful spring!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Kind of Good Friday

Started the morning with breakfast and some more Easter-themed Looney Tunes. Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-citement is one of the few all-original prime time Tunes specials. An animator bedevils Daffy in a springtime variation on "Duck Amuck" as he introduces three holiday shorts. The first one has Sylvester and Daffy chasing after a golden egg. In the second, Daffy is a security guard who has to contend with Speedy Gonzoles, who is trying to steal chocolate bunnies for the kids of his village. The third story is far simpler, as Daffy tries to find way to get north without flying.

Spent the rest of the morning working on writing. Luke has saddled up to ride with the other members of the Rebels to attack the dragons. Meanwhile, Leia is helping to evacuate the camp, heal the wounded, and give the men their assignments. Vader and Tarkin are both going with the Army to see what they hope to be the end of the Rebels. Vader will fly with the dragons himself...for he is part-demon, and they can fly.

Charlie showed up with his parents and my landlords Willa and Richard around 12:30. They were looking at the recent repairs in the household, checking the trap for that raccoon on the porch (we haven't caught him yet, but I haven't heard anything in the walls in the last few nights, either), and taking a gander at the damage the mice I had last year caused in the back room. Richard said he'd come back and fix the insulation after I left. (It's too dark back there right now to be able to tell if he did or didn't.)

Ran some episodes of The Yogi Bear Show while I ate lunch really quick and got ready for work. Yogi is "A Wooin' Bruin" when a stunt bear competes with him for Cindy's affections. They keep stealing more and more outrageous gifts for her. "Spring Has Hit a Snag" for everyone's favorite dramatic pink lion when the pretty lioness he invites into his home for the season proves to be more of a pest than a guest. Yakky Doodle is bought as an "Easter Duck" for an old lady's granddaughter. A cat thinks Yakky's his holiday dinner, but when the old lady says no, he has to defend him against a larger cat instead.

As you can imagine on Good Friday, work was busy for most of the afternoon. We didn't have nearly enough help to deal with it all, either. I got stuck working in the register the whole time. Thankfully, it died enough by 6 that I was able to shut down without a relief.

I'm not thrilled with my schedule again. In good news, I finally have two days off for the first time in nearly a month. In not-so-good news, the hours I do have are often very early, the first of those two days off isn't until Wednesday, and I'm working on Easter for the second year in a row. At least seven people from the front end alone went on vacation this week. This is driving me crazy. I actually considered going on vacation in March briefly back in February when I was contemplating when to take my last week. Now I'm really glad I decided to go around my birthday next month instead. I don't know why they can't have certain people go on certain weeks, and if you don't sign up for the weeks two weeks or more ahead of time, unless it's an emergency, tough for you. They must stop letting everyone go at once! It's unprofessional and isn't fair to the ten people who get stuck doing all the work. Just because you've worked somewhere for a long time doesn't automatically mean you get whatever you want.

I had a ton of grocery shopping to do this week, too. Part of the reason for those crowds was we're having a big 3-day sale. I bought a nice little turkey ham and two sweet potatoes to have for Easter dinner (if I don't end up eating over someone's house). Even though they weren't on that good of a sale, they were still cheaper than eating out on Easter was last year. I also had a major pantry restock to do - evaporated skim milk, tomato sauce, laundry detergent, brown rice, chocolate chips, parchment paper, relish, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, canned chicken, mandarin oranges, coconut, peanut butter, and chai tea. Needed apples, grapefruit, mushrooms, and bananas as well.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had leftovers for dinner while watching Yogi the Easter Bear. Yogi's not feeling smarter than the average bear when he eats all the candy for Jellystone's Easter Jamboree and Ranger Smith threatens to send him to Siberia. He and Boo Boo travel across Jellystone to find the Easter Bunny and save him from two bizarre villains who want to replace his eggs with their plastic ones.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Night At the Ballet, A Day at the Library

Started today off with breakfast and some Max & Ruby. "Max's Chocolate Chicken" is the prize at Max and Ruby's egg hunt. Ruby may find the most eggs, but that doesn't mean she'll get the chicken! "Ruby's Beauty Shop" is open for business when Louise brings over her deluxe makeup and hair kit. Max is their reluctant first customer. He far prefers their hair dye in crazy colors to wigs and eye shadow. "Max Drives Away" when Ruby wants him to eat breakfast. Grandma has a far more interesting option to start their day.

This time, I started out with library volunteering. It was a nice day to be out and about, sunny and warm, if windy and not quite as hot as yesterday. Goes without saying that the Oaklyn Library was very quiet. It was just me, the librarian, and one annoying guy who is always there. He tries to start political talks with people when his nose isn't in a newspaper. I find politics either annoying or boring or both. I organized DVDs quickly, then hurried out.

Hit Phillies Phatties for a quick lunch. It was such a beautiful day, I took my slice of cheese and slice of mushroom pizza and can of Diet Pepsi out to the picnic tables on the sidewalk to eat. Though it was nearly 12:30 at that point, West Clinton Avenue was quiet. Studio LuLoo was open, but I didn't have the time for them if I wanted to get writing in, too.

I did continue my story when I got home. Han's saddling Chewie to retrieve the Falcon and bring his reward to pay off Jabba. As in the original film, Luke's not happy about it. He's joined the Rebels and expected Han to as well. Han does wish him luck, even if he thinks he and the Rebels are crazy for going up against dragons. Leia tries to reassure Luke that all will be well, even though he misses Ben badly.

Ran one more Max & Ruby episode while getting ready for work. Ruby wants to "Camp Out" with Max on a hot day. He'd rather his toys slept in the tent his sister prepared than them!

Work was on and off busy all afternoon. I spent a lot of time in the registers, really more than I would have liked. I did do some returns and got out to do carts, but by that point, it was slowing down. Thankfully, it slowed enough by 6 that I was able to leave without a fuss.

When I got home, I made baked lobster cakes and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner, then made brownies while watching Brain Donors. The title characters are a shyster lawyer (John Tuturro), a smart-mouthed cab driver (Mel Smith), and a house boy who get involved with a rich older woman who wants to start a dance company. They're friendly with a ballerina and her boyfriend who're looking for their big break, but their antics incur the wrath of the egotistical star male ballerina and the older lady's supercilious family lawyer. Now they have to find a way to get the kids into the show, without everyone ending up back in jail.

Underrated lunacy from the team that also wrote the Airplane! and Naked Gun movies. If you're a fan of the Marx Brothers films or similar comedies that have a team of nuts helping out lovers in a thin plot, you'll find this just as hilarious as I do - look for it at the Warner Archives.

Oh, and Charlie came in just as I was leaving to fix the bathroom sink. He didn't end up replacing the whole thing, just the faucets, pipes, and drain. At the very least, it not only works, but drains far faster, and I don't have to pull the handles as tight as I can to keep them from dripping anymore.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This Old Apartment

First thing I did this morning, after the usual reading and writing in the journal, was call Charlie. The stove wasn't working, the kitchen sink was still leaking, I had no bathroom sink, and there was now a hole in my roof. He should have been up here on Monday.

Most of it was easy to fix. The pilot light was out in the stove - that was turned on. (And yes, I was able to bake the banana muffins I couldn't get to on Monday.) He patched the roof and said he'd trap whatever animal (likely a raccoon) got into the walls and caused the damage in the first place. As for the kitchen sink, the problem wasn't the pipes this time. The caulking on the faucet had rotted away, and the water was running down the faucet and the pipes. He caulked or covered that well enough that it's now relatively dry down there.

The bathroom sink proved to be another matter. He did put in a new drain in the bathroom tub, but while he pulled the sink out, he never put anything in. He told me he'd do that one tomorrow.

I spent the morning writing and ignoring the noise. In this story, the Rebels In the Woods are more like Robin Hood, robbing the rich Empire to give to poorer countries that were taken over by the Imperials. They stop the five on the horses, demanding money...until Luke recognizes two of them. One is Wedge, one of his fellow stable boys. The other is Biggs, an old friend of his from Tattoon. Leia convinces the two young men to bring them to the other Rebels. She turns over the information Arthur has - Vader is sending the Sith Dragons to burn the forest and wipe them out.

Did a couple of Backyardigans episodes while eating leftovers for lunch. Put on "Dragon Express," since I'm currently writing a story that involves dragons. Austin and his dragon Windy deliver mail in Norway. They want to be as fast as Pablo and his dragon Maverick, but they're afraid to go fast. Pablo helps the duo get over their fear, while Austin shows Pablo that thinking about a problem can work just as well as blasting through. "Follow the Feather" has Tyrone, Tasha, and Pablo on the trail of the Polka Dot Pony, guided only by a feather and the Mysterious Lady (Uniqua).

Work was...really very boring for most of the afternoon. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and a bit too warm for the time of year, at least in the upper 60's - lower 70's. I was actually glad I got to return carts a few times. It was too nice to be inside all day. I also bagged, pulled items on the shelves so they're all level, and did returns. It didn't really get busy until rush hour - I had to take the register a few times.

When I got home, I ran an episode of Fairie Tale Theatre while having a snack. "Aladdin and His Magic Lamp" was one of Tim Burton's first directorial assignments, and it does show, from the strange aestetics to the Genie (James Earl Jones) threatening to kill Aladdin (Robert Carradine) several times, even though he can't do it and actually likes the guy. Leonard Nemoy is the evil wizard who is after the lamp; Valerie Bertinelli is the princess Aladdin loves.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Windy Spring

I was glad to awaken to a sunny, windy day after the threat of snow over the weekend. Ran It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown as I ate breakfast. The Peanuts are preparing for spring in their own very unique ways. Sally's begging her brother for new clothes. Snoopy's buying Woodstock a birdhouse. Peppermint Patty wants to teach Marcie how to color eggs. Marcie has no idea of how to actually cook a hard-boiled egg and keeps doing everything but hard-boiling them. Lucy tries to cajole Schroeder into giving her presents, then hides her own Easter eggs. Don't bother with the preparations, Linus insists. The Easter Beagle does all that. Sally is skeptical, to say the least. Meanwhile. Charles Schultz tosses in a few cracks about extra-early holiday sales.

Spent the rest of the morning working on fanfiction. The Dagobah Swamps are mucky and slimy and smelly, but they're the only way to lose the Imperial Army and get to the Rebels. At one point, Luke is dragged into the muck by an ugly creature with thick tentacles. Leia and Han get him out, but he loses his father's sword in the mire. The Falcon gets stuck in the muck as well. They have to abandon her, to Han's chagrin. The trio and the two servants finally ride back on the horses.

Did two spring-themed Disney shorts while eating lunch. The black-and-white "Springtime" is the earliest seasonal-based Silly Symphony cartoon. Animals and flowers dance in time to the classic music as they enjoy the new, warmer weather. "Goddess of Spring" is far more ambitious. This operatic retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades was intended to be a mini-test run for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It wasn't entirely successful - Persephone dances like she's made of rubber - but the music is nice, and the underworld segment is pretty well-done.

Work wasn't too bad when I got in. It got much warmer later in the afternoon, which is probably why we were quiet for a lot of the day. I wiped down registers in the early afternoon. There was a soda spill shortly after my break. I wish people would be a little nicer about telling me where things are in the back room. No, I don't automatically know where everything is. I've only been doing this for three weeks. I never needed to know where anything back there was before! Passed the rest of the day in a register when rush hour hit and we got busy. My relief was one of the college girls who is always on time.

When I got home, I had a quick dinner of leftovers while watching the Disney Robin Hood. Animals retell the famous English legend, as a quick-witted fox Robin and a good-natured bear Little John (Phil Harris) outwit the nasty lion Prince John (Peter Ustinov) and his snake counselor Sir Hiss (Terry-Thomas). This is one of my favorite lesser-known movies in the Disney animated canon. The utterly hilarious script and delightful voice work make up for the cheap animation that was common of Disney movies from the 70's.

And yikes! I have no idea how this happened, but something put a hole through the roof of my bedroom just a couple of hours ago. I thought it was just feral cats and squirrels running around up there. Are there wolverines on my roof or something? I still haven't heard from Charlie. I know he was puttering around down there this morning, but he never came up here, and I never heard from him. I'll have to call him tomorrow, whether the bathroom sink is ready or not.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spaceballs the Blog Entry

We never got snow yesterday, at least not that I saw. There may have been a tiny bit this morning when I got up, but by the time I was eating breakfast, it was long gone. I celebrated the arrival of spring with another Rankin-Bass Easter special, The First Easter Rabbit. Stuffy was originally a toy bunny who belonged to a little girl named Glinda. He thought it was all over when she got scarlet fever and he was put aside to be burned. A fairy takes pity on him and turns him into a real rabbit instead, the Easter Bunny, symbol of springtime. With the help of a group of con-artist bunnies (and Santa Claus), Stuffy prepares for the holiday and avoids the nasty Zero, who wants to take over his new home April Valley.

Headed out to do the laundry around quarter of 11. To my dismay, not only did I have to use the more expensive washers because the cheaper ones were all taken, but the coin machine wouldn't take one of my bills. I had to go to Duncan Donuts across the street to cash it. I also forgot laundry detergent on Friday and ended up buying one of the tiny boxes of powdered soap. Good thing I didn't have a big load. I spent the next hour working on story notes and half-listening to The View.

As soon as I got in, I put everything away and went right back out again. My first stop was the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. One of the specials they had listed for today was a Grilled Chicken Parmesan Panini on sourdough bread. I thought that sounded delicious. It was, if very messy. They loaded it up with tons of cheese and tomato sauce, making it a bit hard to eat.

Headed across the street to the Haddon Township Library after lunch to do this week's session there. There were piles and piles of kids' DVDs to shelve. For once, they actually all fit with room leftover, even the overstocked series like Scooby Doo and Sesame Street. There wasn't much else there to do. I put away one New Age CD and a small stack of new releases.

While I didn't take out any movies this week, I did decide to look around for Star Wars novels. Scoundrels sounds like a Star Wars version of Ocean's Eleven. Right after the destruction of the first Death Star, Han still needs money after losing that reward. He assembles a crack team of thieves and rogues (including Chewie and Lando Calarissian) to open a supposedly impenetrable safe belonging to a huge crime syndicate.

Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor seems to be a bit more typical for the franchise. Shortly after Return of the Jedi, Luke and the others discover rumors of another Sith Lord on Mindor eyeing the Empire. Luke takes the crew and Rogue Squadron after him, but the man proves more cunning than anyone suspects...

Stopped at Thriftway for a few things on my way home. They have better prices on whole-wheat flour and eggs. Needed pads and a new toothbrush, too. Went a few doors down to Dollar Tree for Easter cards. Neither place was that busy. The lines at Thriftway were more from a lack of cashiers, rather than there being a lot of people around.

Went straight home after that. Spent the rest of the evening writing. The Imperial Army is hot on the trail of the dilapidated Falcon. Han and Luke are able to out-duel and out-shoot them while Leia drives the cart through the woods. Han's just happy they got rid of them. Leia's not so sure they're gone for good. She's a little worried that someone may be following them...

Ran Spaceballs while making a "Holiday Spaghetti" pasta and sauce recipe from Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book. I used canned chicken, replaced the tomato soup called for with tomato sauce, and added carrots, a mushroom (I only had one left), and celery in with the onion. Ooh, yum yum. Tasty and simple, yet hearty enough for dinner.

Spaceballs is Mel Brooks' hilarious space opera spoof from 1987. Though Star Wars is obviously the main target, other movies are referred to as well, including the Alien and original Planet of the Apes series. Two self-proclaimed "space bums" (Bill Pullman and John Candy) rescue a runaway princess (Daphne Zuninga) and her droid (voice of Joan Rivers) from the hands of the dastardly title characters, including Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) and the President (Brooks).

This is yet another comedy/fantasy from the late 80's-early 90's that was beloved by my family and frequently turned up on cable. It's also another one we all had memorized. I can still recite the dialogue to this day. If you're a fan of Brooks' style and/or the sci-fi-fantasy movies of the 80's and early 90's, this one is a no-brainer that's worth looking around for.

And I'm mad at Charlie again. First of all, no one ever showed up today to put in the new bathroom sink. Second, the pipes are leaking under the kitchen sink again. And third, while the burners work on the stove, the stove itself doesn't. I tried to make Banana Muffins tonight, and the stove just would not heat. I wonder if the pilot is out...and I have no idea where the pilot is in the stove. Either that, or the fools didn't put the hoses back on properly. They'd better show up tomorrow or sometime this week and fix these problems.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Wish It Would Snow Down

I awoke to sunny skies and no snow whatsoever. The ground wasn't even wet. I also woke up late after staying up with Lauren last night. I made lumpy Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes while listening to The Pirate Movie soundtrack.

It was getting a little cloudier as I rode to work, but otherwise remained dry. Work was surprisingly off-and-on steady for a Sunday. Usually, we're insane all day on Sunday, especially when we're supposed to have bad weather later. As a couple of customers pointed out, everyone must have come in yesterday, when they were still announcing flat-out snow with no rain mixed in. Thankfully, but the time the crowds were picking up, my relief was arriving.

A customer mentioned it was snowing and raining outside. Maybe it was further north. All it was doing when I got out was raining lightly. I didn't see a bit of snow. I rode home and only got a little wet.

When I got in, I called Mom. Along with being the first day of spring, today is her birthday. I got the wrong dad when Rose called and said Dad was in the hospital. Turns out it's my stepfather Bill who was found with a tumor. He's been in the hospital the last few days, and Mom's been with him. She says they were able to remove it, but he's going to need bed rest and chemotherapy. She had gotten home from the hospital in time to spend her birthday with Anny and her brood.

Spent the rest of the evening listening to David Bowie (honored the late rock star with Diamond Dogs) and Phil Collings (...But Seriously) and doing decorations. I meant to get the St. Patrick's Day things down and put up my Easter stuff last week, but I literally couldn't get around the mess in the kitchen and living area. I've always liked Easter. Decorating eggs was a big deal in my very artistic family, even after the Easter Bunny was no longer leaving us baskets filled with candy. I don't decorate eggs, but I do like filling baskets with plastic eggs and putting out my stuffed Peeps and chick and pink rabbit, and the rabbit statues I got from Mom. Mom also gave me the garland festooned with mini-bunnies and carrots and the hand-quilted Easter egg table runner. I found Patchy Bunny, the big resin bunny figure, at a thrift shop years ago.

And at press time, it STILL hasn't snowed. It was raining a while ago, but I don't think it's even doing that now.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Putting It Together

Had a quick start this morning with a bagel and two Irish-themed cartoons I wasn't able to get to on St. Patrick's Day. "Wearin' of the Grin" has Porky Pig taking shelter in a castle in Ireland, which may or may not be the home of a band of leprechauns who think he's after their pot of gold. They sentence him to wear green shoes that won't stop dancing! Woody Woodpecker encounters another member of the Wee Folk in "His Better Elf." When the little fellow gives Woody three wishes, Woody decides he wants gold. He never said how he wanted it - the gold he got came from a bank. The leprechaun helps him escape, while teaching him a lesson about earning his bread.

Today was one of my early days this week. Originally, I didn't work until 1, but one of the cashiers volunteered to give out tickets for a raffle they're holding this weekend. I took her place. That was fine by me. I'd rather work earlier than later. We were busy all afternoon with people fussing over the snow we're supposedly getting tonight. My relief was just barely on time. I was able to grab a quart of skim milk on the way out - one of the college boys was just restocking the milk when I came over there.

It was starting to spit a little when I got in. As soon as I changed, I spent the next few hours writing. Leia and the guys knock out the soldiers guarding the Falcon and manage to flee the stables. Two figures block the open drawbridge...and the Falcon's only means of escape. Ben and Vader are having their big duel. Vader seems to cut off Ben's head, to Luke's horror, but Ben's armor is empty. He's vanished. He did his job well, though. Vader is distracted enough for the Falcon to ride through.

The moment Ben dies, so does his magic. Han and Arthur (Artoo)'s clothing returns to normal. Chewbacca becomes a horse again; the Falcon is once more a dilapidated piece of junk. Luke's armor becomes tarnished antiques, rather than the polished covering of a Force Knight. Leia demands an explanation when Han stops the carriage and the horses, now turned back into mice, run away. Luke tells her about Ben and why they ended up at the ball. Han tries to move them along. It's getting dark.

Started putting the kitchen and pantry shelves back together around 5:30. That took me over an hour. Turns out, the guys didn't put everything back exactly the way it was. The shelf under the sink that held the parchment paper and the bowl with the Tupperware lids seems to be gone for good. I had to find new places to put those. One of the shelves in the cabinet is now higher than it used to be, which also required some re-arranging. The pantry shelves were no longer staggered, either.

Ran the James Bond movie License to Kill while organizing, and later while making Crock Pot Rice Pudding for dessert. James (Timothy Dalton) goes on a personal vendetta against a drug lord, Sanchez, (Robert Davi) who maimed his friend Felix Lighterer and killed his new wife. M (Robert Brown) isn't happy with this - they want James back on the job - so he resigns. He does get help from Q (Desmond Llewlyn) and from American agent and pilot Pam Bouvier, who want to find out more about Sanchez's operations.

Though I love Timothy Dalton as Bond (I tend to gravitate towards grittier Bonds - see also Sean Connery and Daniel Craig) and consider Pam Bouvier to be one of the more interesting Bond girls, I have more problems with this one today. This remains the most violent of all Bond movies, with far more blood than most films in the series, and the story about the drug lord comes off as alternately boring and overly complicated. This is also incredibly late 80's - see the whole drug lord thing and some questionable Central American/Mexican stereotypes. Surprisingly, I remember my siblings and mom and I really loving this in the late 80's-early 90's.

If you like your Bond movies darker or are looking for something different in the franchise, this is worth a look for older action fans.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Long End to a Long Week

This was a very long day, starting with a phone call first thing in the morning from Rose. Dad-Bruce was in the hospital again. They found a tumor in his neck. He was going into surgery soon. Supposedly, he had an excellent chance of recovery, but for now, it was touch and go. Rose also mentioned she found a part-time job - she put Khai back into after-school daycare.

I spent the remaining morning working my my fanfic and hiding from Charlie and the men working on the bathroom and kitchen. I actually ate downstairs in Charlie's kitchen to avoid them. Charlie has a good-sized kitchen, twice the size of mine, with a huge sink. He also has no tiles or rugs anywhere but the bathroom - it's all cardboard - and nowhere to sit. No heat, either. It was cold in there. And I still couldn't avoid his men, who passed through my apartment and his all morning. 

Went right into my story after breakfast. Luke's shocked at the state Leia's in when he arrives. She's battered and tattered and torn. She's more amused at his small size for one of Vader's men. He explains who he is and tries to get her down...before she reminds him she can't climb her own hair. He has to make a rope appear. The Tower is bound by spells that forbid entry or exit by magic.

Han meets them at the bottom, along with a battery of soldiers. Leia's less than thrilled with the way the guys have conducted her rescue. She grabs Luke's bow and arrows, shoots at the soldiers, then uses her own magic to make them all disappear and reappear at the stables. 

Headed out around quarter after 12 for lunch. I ate a quick meal of bacon and scallion quiche and a spicy-sweet iced tea at Common Grounds Coffee House. The tea was tasty as ever, but the quiche was disappointing. It was tough and hard to cut; I'm guessing it was overcooked. I also bought a massive peanut butter-chocolate chip cookie for a snack later.

Work could have been worse. I did do a lot of returns, rounded up carts, and pulled out boxes of plastic bags for the registers on the front end. I did have to take customers a few times. We got pretty busy, especially later in the afternoon. We're supposed to be getting snow on Sunday. I'd be more worried if the ground wasn't so mushy, it's unlikely it'll stick for more than an hour or two. It's not supposed to be THAT cold, either. Not that anyone ever pays attention to facts. They were still fussing.

Oh, and I finally found out why they have me bagging and cashiering. Apparently, I got three bad reviews about three weeks ago. Two said I was too slow. One was angry over something. I don't remember what I did to make someone angry, and I'm sorry if I'm slow. I go as fast as I can. I wish these people would try to understand that I am not a machine. I can only do so much. And why didn't my manager tell me this weeks ago? She "just didn't get around to it." Gee, thanks. I don't mind doing bagging, or anything that isn't cashiering. But why couldn't they have mentioned this sooner? Like, say, three weeks ago, when it happened. 

Not overly thrilled with my schedule, either. On one hand, slightly fewer hours, more in line with what I usually get at this time of the year. Still only one day off, though, Monday this time. Not only is there still a ton of vacations, but we're getting close to the end of the spring semester at most colleges. The college kids are too busy with end-of-the-year classwork to be able to take many hours. Also, we're coming up on Easter. Schools will be on spring break this week coming up or the week after. 

I did a very quick grocery shopping session after work. Even if I'd been able to use my kitchen for the past few days, I still didn't need that much. I was mostly restocking apples, bananas, and grapefruit. I didn't badly need cereal, but I couldn't pass up a really good three-day sale on Life. I genuinely did need sugar (Domino's was on sale) and shampoo (the Acme finally got Herbal Essences' curl formula in). 

Had dinner at Tu Se Bella's. I figured I deserved good pizza after the week I'd had. I got in ahead of the rush hour crowd. Had my slice of cheese and slice of broccoli and tomato white pizza and bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper at the table by the window. Ate and watched people come and go in the parking lot.

Charlie and his boys were still around when I got in. I put my food away, then went online and once again ignored them. Thankfully, they were just about done. Charlie gave me an update after they vacuumed the kitchen and returned the appliances to where they belonged. While the kitchen is now 100% fine, the bathroom was another story. They fixed the toilet and put a new drain in the tub, but the sink is toast. It hasn't worked right for at least eight of the ten years I've lived here. It runs sluggishly, no matter how much drain cleaner I dump down it. The guys said it's so old, they can't find the pipes to fix it. I'll be getting a new one on Monday. I'll be using the kitchen sink for the weekend. I have no problem with that - it usually works better anyway, even before the pipes were fixed. 

Oh, and Rose called tonight, not long after Charlie left. Dad's out of surgery, and he's doing well. He should be home in a day or two. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

No Luck of the Irish

The men showed up around 8:30, while I was reading a story about St. Patrick in the Colliers Book of Holidays. Yes, they tore apart my bathroom, though they really only had to take out the toilet. Unfortunately, it turns out the pipes in the bathroom are under the floor. So they had to take out what little floor I have in there, too. I still don't know why they didn't figure all this out when they first started spying leaks downstairs months ago. This is an old house, I'm guessing anywhere from fifty to ninety years old. The previous owner was an elderly woman who probably hadn't done anything to her apartment or the plumbing or electrical wiring in years, maybe decades. What did they expect? Of course the plumbing is going to be old.

After I ate a bagel and a half a grapefruit for breakfast, I went in my room, closed the door, and spent the next few hours working on my story. Ben says he'll open the drawbridge so they can escape while the others look for the princess. Luke wants to go with him, but he sends him after the others. As the guys make their way across the castle complex, they hear a beautiful voice singing a sad old Aldran folk tune. The voice leads them to a high tower on the edge of the complex's prison area. They see a man in dark armor climb a rope of very, very long hair. The guys have no idea how they'll get in, until Luke insists he might be able to mimic Vader's voice well enough to fool the princess and get them into the Tower.

Headed out to run errands around quarter after 12. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. Other than one guy reading the newspaper, they weren't busy, not a surprise on a nice day. I organized the DVDs and took a quick look at the kids' area before the local kindergarten arrived, all dressed in green, to hear a St. Patrick's Day story.

Next stop was WaWa for lunch. I didn't see corned beef on the menu, so I bought a ham and Swiss hoagie instead. Also treated myself to a Mint Smoothie and a cupcake with white and green mint icing from Viola's International Deli. Bought a bottle of water from Common Grounds Coffee Shop for later. Checked Studio LuLoo; they still weren't open.

I headed home with just enough time to toss lunch together, change, and head back out. Great splotches of blobby black clouds had begun to gather even as I was riding home from lunch. By the time I headed to work, it was raining in earnest. It didn't last. It had begun to slow down even as I was making my way across the Acme's parking lot to work.

Work was on-and-off busy. We're supposed to be getting some snow and sleet on Sunday, though given how warm the ground is, I doubt it'll stick for very long. Many people were buying Irish potatoes, soda bread, or food for their St. Patrick's Day dinners as well. When I wasn't in a register, I gathered baskets, dug around in the back closet for more boxes of plastic bags, and tried to get boxes of huge posters meant to be hung in the store to the trash compactor in the back. (The last was so big, I needed help from one of the college boys to lift it.)

The spotty rain showers had continued on and off all evening. Thankfully, by the time I got out at 7, it was long gone. The ground was mostly dry, and I got home just fine.

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of ye! I hope you've been having far more luck than I have lately.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish

My day began badly. Charlie showed up while I was working on my journal. I assumed he would just need space to get under the sink and mess with the pipes for the next few days. Turns out Miss Willa hadn't been specific in her letter. Charlie needed to get BEHIND the sink...and the entire damn back wall. He had to tear out the wall behind the sink and cabinets to get to the pipes. That meant I had to clear out pretty much everything in the damn kitchen but the major appliances I couldn't move on my own anyway. That took a lot longer than I thought it would! I barely had the time to eat, change, and rush to work. (And I still didn't get everything.)

Work wasn't much better. You'd think people would be in happier moods on a day that started out sunny and in the 60's. No, they were cranky and rude and annoying. Didn't help that I was in the register all day. We were on and off busy all day and didn't have enough help when there were lines to deal with, too. At least I had time to work on story ideas. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 4 PM that I was able to shut down without a relief.

While Charlie told me he'd put the refrigerator in the living room and keep it plugged in, I obviously wasn't going to be able to use the stove or much in the way of utensils for a few days. I bought a Chicken Caeser salad bowl for dinner and bagels for breakfast for the next few days. Though clouds were starting to build up at this point, the weather was mostly still pretty decent, if windy. I took Nicholson Road home, dodging rush hour traffic on the way.

To tell the truth, the reason I took Nicholson Road home was I really didn't want to go home. Thing is, I didn't have anywhere else to go. I didn't want to see how bad things looked. The sink, the stove, and the fridge are in the living room; the fridge is plugged in. I tossed the bagels in there for lack of better ideas. I tried not to look at the gaping hole in the back and the exposed plumbing.

I spent the rest of the evening online and working on writing. Though Force magic got the guys into Bast Castle, using it depleted Ben and Luke's energy stores too badly to get them out the same way. It's Han's idea to knock out a couple of guards and for him, Cecil, and Chewie to wear their armor. Luke and Ben have enough magic to make their Force Knight armor look like the black-and-white armor worn by the Imperial Army. They get a guard to tell them that Leia is being held in the Death Tower.

Vader, however, senses something in that carriage. Two of whom is definitely his old master Sir Benjamin Kenobi...

To my surprise, it rained while I was working on my story. It only rained a little bit, for about 20 minutes or so, and not heavily. I think we're supposed to get some tomorrow as well, then it'll get colder - and admittedly, closer to what it should be at this time of year - starting Friday.

Charlie left a note that said he'd never gotten around to working on the bathroom this afternoon. I was able to take a nice, long bath, listening to the music that inspired Singin' In the Rain and reading over cake decorating books and the Star Wars storybooks I got last week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Look to the Rain

I slept in this morning. It had been showering all morning, and the rain continued when I finally headed out around 12:30 to get the laundry done. The laundromat wasn't busy. There were a few people there watching the news when I came in. I just worked on my story notes. By the time I left, the rain was down to sprinkles, and it was just me, one other person, The Chew, and my small load.

Went home and put everything away, then went right back out again. First stop was lunch at Jalapeno's Grill. It was past 2 by then, and the place was quiet as can be. I had a nice, simple Chicken Quesadilla with a shredded lettuce and tomato bits "salad." Two college students did arrive shortly before I left.

The rain was long gone by the time I made my way down Cuthbert Road to the Haddon Township Library. Once again, they were overloaded with DVDs. There were so many kids titles that needed to be shelved, there wasn't anything resembling enough room to get them all on, even with tons of organizing. I had more luck reorganizing the kids' CDs. One of the librarians mentioned they just bought a third rack for the adult DVDs and are debating picking up a fourth one for the kids' discs, but the spinning racks used in the kids' area are expensive.

(And as you can guess, I didn't take anything out this week. I'll barely have the time to do what little else I have planned.)

Made a brief stop at Dollar Tree on my way home. My friend Kelly's birthday was last weekend. Mom's is this weekend. I needed cards for both of them, along with sponges. Treated myself to a Blue Bunny Party Cake Ice Cream Sandwich, too.

Headed straight home after that. I made tortilla-crusted salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner while watching Finnian's Rainbow. Fred Astaire is Finnian, an Irish immigrant who is convinced a pot of gold planted near Fort Knox will somehow grow. The leprechaun he stole it from (Tommy Steele) just wants it back. He's turning human without the magical gold. Finnian's daughter Sharon (Petula Clark) is more interested in the head of the sharecroppers' union where they're living. The group is racially mixed, not a popular concept in the Deep South. Their land rights are being threatened by a bigoted senator (Keenan Wynn). It takes three magical wishes to unite the lovers and make everyone realize the importance of racial tolerance and believing in one's dreams.

Bizarre but mostly enjoyable musical from 1968. There's some nice numbers, including Astaire's "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich," Steele and Clark's adorable "Something Sort of Grandish," and the hottest "Old Devil Moon" on record. The racial/social backstory does get preachy at times, and Steele's overacting can grate on one's nerves. Still, if you're looking for something different for older kids and teens on up for St. Patrick's Day, you can do far worse than this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Out of the Rain and Into the Booth

I awoke to a sky full of gloomy, misty showers. I put on Yogi the Easter Bear to cheer me up while eating breakfast. Yogi's not feeling smarter than the average bear when he eats all the candy Ranger Smith intended for Jellystone's Easter Jamboree. Hoping to avoid ending up in the Siberian Circus, Yogi and Boo Boo set out to find the Easter Bunny to replace the lost goodies. What they don't know is a pair of very, very strange villains are after the rabbit as well, hoping to replace his real eggs with their plastic ones. Yogi and Boo Boo have to get the Bunny back to Jellystone with as many eggs as they can carry, before the plastic-obsessed loonies catch up with them.

There's a reason I bought that can of frozen apple juice concentrate on Friday (besides it being on a really good sale). I found a cookbook at a yard sale a few years ago that substitutes fruit juice concentrate for sugar in many recipes. I tried several recipes after I bought it and loved them. Alas, fruit juice concentrate has been almost as expensive as sugar the last few years. I took the opportunity to make the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Oh, yummy. Soft and just sweet enough - I tossed in a little honey as well.

It was still cloudy and gray and showering lightly when I headed to work. That's probably why we were quiet for most of the afternoon. I spent most of the day in the Gift Card Mall booth. You wouldn't think just pulling cards out of their plastic and hanging them on hooks could be hazardous, but I'm sore all over now. (Including the inside of one fingernail I stabbed with the sharp end of a card backing.) I kept having to step in and out of the booth to hang the cards and make room for new ones. Had to bend over a lot towards the end to hang cards on the bottom of the booth when I started to run out of room, too. In the end, I plowed through all but one box that was filled with mostly credit gift cards. We must have overstocked those at Christmas, because we had a ton of them. That was probably more than half of what I hung up in the booth today. There was no room for most of them on the outside of the booth!

(And of course, I later discovered that the reason I couldn't find room for a lot of those cards was they were discontinued. One of the managers had me spend my last half-hour gathering and boxing a basket filled with cards that had been recalled by their companies...many of which were hanging on the inside of the booth.)

It wasn't really busy until it was time for me to go home. I dodged a lot of traffic heading back to Oaklyn. I guess they were all trying to avoid the weather. The gloomy, dark showers continued. They weren't heavy, just fine and really misty. They've continued on and off for the rest of the evening.

I was so wiped out, I was barely up for leftover tomato pie with spinach and mushrooms when I got in. I ran the first half of The Hollywood Revue of 1929 as I ate. One of the first of the revues made during the early talkie era of the late 20's and early 30's showcases the stars on the MGM lot during this era. Jack Benny is the rather puffed-up host. The adorable "Singin' In the Rain" number, with dancers splashing in raincoats while Cliff "Ukulele Ike/Jiminy Cricket" Edwards strums and scats along in the background, is probably the most famous number from this one. Other good ones include a hilarious Marie Dresser proclaiming why "I'm the Queen," Laurel and Hardy attempting a magic act, Bessie Love insisting "I Never Knew I Could Do a Thing Like That," and she, Dressler, and Polly Moran attempting a concert with faulty instruments.

Finished the night with more writing. The guys have no idea how they're going to get up to Bast Castle. It's set on top of a steep, slick black crystal mountain. It takes Ben and Luke's combined Force powers to lift the horses, carriage, and all six men and get them up the mountain and over the castle walls.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rainy Daze

I thought my clock said "9:00" when I got up this morning. Then I saw my watch, and remembered we just switched to Daylight Savings. That just left me enough time to read, write in my journal, and try something different for breakfast. I like the Feather Nutmeg Muffins so much, I thought I'd try Feather Nutmeg Pancakes - pancakes made with butter, with lots of nutmeg in the batter. Not too bad. I did burn the first one a little.

Ran The Music of Spring while I ate and got ready for work. This is a springtime version of the Columbia holiday collections that turn up so often at Christmas. While I enjoy it, I will admit a lot of the songs don't have that much to do with spring. I can understand "April In Paris" or "Younger Than Springtime," but the title songs from Camelot and Never On a Sunday and two numbers from My Fair Lady make less sense.

Work was steady all afternoon. I was in the register the whole time today. Not surprising, given the crowds. The weather must have scared a lot of people indoors. It's showered off and on all day, including when I was going to and coming home from work. Annoyingly, there was a problem when I was going home. They said I had a relief, but the kid ended up going in for the other guy who was leaving instead. Not only was I almost late signing out, but I had to deal with at least three obnoxious old men in a row. I wish they'd figure out that it's not 1965, and the time for their dumb jokes was roughly around when the Mad Men were in the boardroom.

I went straight home to cool off. I listened to Barry Manilow and Johnny Mathis while adding Monterrey Jack cheese, mushrooms, and spinach to the tomato pie I bought yesterday. I didn't add enough cheese, but otherwise, it was pretty good. The flaky crust definitely said more "square pie" than "regular pizza."

Spent the rest of the evening writing. While the guys are fleeing the remains of Aldran, Leia watches the destruction of her kingdom from the Death Tower, the tallest and most isolated tower in Bast Castle. The only way in is through a window at the very top, and the only way up is to climb Leia's very long, dark hair. Vader is the first one to do so. He questions his feisty daughter about the two young men she met at the ball. He wants to know about the one with the Force magic...and for her to forget any ideas she had of falling in love with someone besides his master. He cajoles her, uses his choking magic, but she really doesn't know much about them other than the little knight has magic and the supposed "prince" was a jerk...and she has no intention of falling for anyone, including Palapatine.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fondue Crusade

I finished out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade during breakfast, then spent the rest of a short morning writing. There's a crowd gathered around the main square of Aldran Town. Turns out Tarkin has King Bail, who won't tell him where the Rebels In the Woods are or give his niece in marriage to evil King Palapatine. To the horror of Luke, Ben, and the servants, Tarkin has Bail executed right in front of his remaining people. Ben and Arthur also reveal what the message Leia gave them says - the dragons are going to be sent to burn the Enchanted Woods.

Leia is the only one who knows where in the Woods the Rebels are. Han won't go after her at first. He's gotten into enough trouble with this trip as it is. Luke finally reminds him that there likely will be a reward for her return. That's enough to convince the skeptical gypsy thief.

The Acme was much busier today when I arrived. I spent most of the first half of my shift in the register. The second half was spent doing variations on organizing. I worked on the Gift Card Mall, shelved items, and gathered carts. The carts in particular needed to be done badly. The side by the "back door" (the "in" doors facing Nicholson Road) was empty of the good gray carts when I made it out there. I saw 99 cent tomato pies on the bakery overstock shelves as I was doing returns and bought one for dinner.

As it turned out, the tomato pie would have to wait. I had a message on my cell phone waiting for me. Jodie was having another fondue-based birthday party, this one for her son TJ. I changed and did a few things around my apartment, then headed out.

Honestly, this one was a bit smaller and not quite as much fun as Jessa's fondue party. While they had all the same food - cheese fondue with vegetables and bread and oil fondue with chicken and beef bits, along with Desserts By Design tarts - the crowd consisted of a couple of older neighbors, Jodie's relatives, and her friend Erica and her mom Miss Helen. Not a single one of them had any idea how to eat fondue, or that you were supposed to skewer your food and cook it yourself. Khai was so disappointed that there were no kids around for him to play with, he spent the entire hour he was there in his favorite spot under the big dining room table and wouldn't come out even to eat.

Friday, March 11, 2016

We're Not Gonna Take It

Spent most of the morning writing. The Sith Dragons start chasing the carriage. Luke beats them off with his Force magic, turning them into flowers. Ben's magic turns them into stardust. Even when the group arrives at Aldran Town, they're far from safe. The dragons have already gotten there and are setting everything they can ablaze. Tarkin is there as well, about to make a speech...and show off the might of the Kingdom of the Empire by officially annexing the Kingdom of Aldran and killing its royal family.

Oh, and tonight, I finally made a list of all the ideas I have for stories - for Star Wars, for Remember WENN, for original kids' stories. They're at my writing blog, for those of you who need a little long reading tonight.

Upcoming Stories and Story Ideas

Started Here Comes Peter Cottontail during breakfast. Finished it as I ate lunch and got ready for work. Peter Cottontail (Casey Kasem) is a brash, boastful young rabbit who is in contention to become the new Easter Bunny. Alas, so is Irontail (Vincent Price), a nasty old rabbit. When Irontail wins, he takes over the Valley and tries to eliminate Easter. With help from Seymour S. Sassafras and the pilot caterpillar Anton (both Danny Kaye), he travels back in time through the calendar to finally deliver the Easter eggs as he should of on Easter day.

Work was really kind of boring again. It did pick up a little shortly before rush hour - I had to take a register around 2:30. Otherwise, I continued doing returns and organizing the inside of the Gift Card Mall.

I'm fairly annoyed with my schedule. On one hand, I do have twice as many hours as I've had in months. On the other hand, I once again only have one day off. And why do I have so many hours? Because at least six or more people went on vacation this week in the front end alone. I HATE it when they let everyone go on vacation at once! I have said for years that the managers really, really need to start making stricter rules about when people can and can't take vacation weeks, so everyone doesn't go at the same time and leave ten people doing all the work.

Still had a ton of groceries to buy, too. The Acme's in the midst of one of their huge, buy six-items, get-three-dollars-off deals. I picked up tuna, Cheerios, two boxes of Duncan Hines cake mix, and two containers of canola oil as part of that deal. Restocked peanut butter, frozen green beans and almonds, canned chicken, frozen juice, chocolate chips, brown sugar, mandarin oranges, grapefruit, apples, and bananas. Grabbed two individually-packaged crab cakes with manager's coupons on them. Since the Oetker mousse mixes were on sale, I tossed in things to make a Chocolate-Strawberry Mousse Pie.

Miss Willa, my landlady (and the mother of Charlie, the guy working on the downstairs apartment and yard), had mentioned to me that Charlie was going to need to do some plumbing work in the bathroom and kitchen again and she would have to shut them down. I figured that was fine. At least, until I found a note from her in my door. I assumed she meant they would be shut down for three hours. Turns out, they're shutting them down for 3 to 5 days, starting early Monday morning. I would either have to use the downstairs bathroom and kitchen and borrow a microwave or stay at Dad's.

I was - and am - mad as hell. Is there a reason they couldn't have given me a lot more than a weekend's notice? Willa is going to have to open the fire escape door and let me use the bathroom downstairs, and I'll eat canned food and eat out a lot. I can't stay at Dad's. Not with just a few days' notice. I'd have to give them at least a week's notice or more. It isn't fair to them to just walk in on them at the last minute and disrupt their lives. And why is this going to take a couple of days? Why didn't they do this back in February, when he was originally working on the plumbing? Given Charlie's not known for being on time, it'll probably be more like three to five months before he's done. And why couldn't he have told me himself, instead of sending his mother to do it? I'm still annoyed about the stupid fence that's blocking the path to my apartment, too. And hey, weren't they supposed to be finished with the downstairs about a year ago? I was told they would be coming up here "in the spring." That was in November of 2014, and I keep hearing "in the spring, in the summer, in a few months." Yeah, well, could they be a little more definite? Some of us actually have lives here.

I put everything away, then put on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to calm myself down while having leftovers for dinner. Everyone's favorite whip-cracking archaeologist (Harrison Ford) is now searching for the Holy Grail and his father Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), a noted Grail scholar who went missing after the Nazis started looking for the Grail, too. Father and son have to avoid the Nazis, follow the trail to the missing holy artifact, and avoid the designs of a scheming Austrian femme fatale (Alison Doody), all while trying to mend their long-fractured relationship.

This has long been my favorite Indiana Jones movie. Ironically, while I tend to prefer my Star Wars films deeper and darker, I like the Indy movies better when they're light-hearted and fun. The relationship between Jones senior and junior is hilarious - Connery and Ford are just a delight to watch. (And while there is some blood and scary stuff, it's not to the degree of Temple of Doom.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Picnic In the Late Evening

Began my morning with breakfast and finishing Night at the Opera. One of the shorts included with my DVD copy of Opera is the Oscar-winning Robert Benchley lecture spoof How to Sleep. It's exactly what it says on the DVD cover. Benchley narrates and demonstrates ways of sleeping and getting to that state, from sleeping positions to what happens when you try to sleep with a hangover. I don't know if it's Oscar material, but it's still mostly pretty cute - especially the sleeping positions.

It remains ridiculously warm for March here, at least in the mid-70's. I headed out in a t-shirt, khaki capris, and sandals and was perfectly fine. The first hyacinths are starting to show up in gardens. I saw people blowing leaves, mowing lawns, and clearing flower beds. There's not too much in the way of decorations out right now - some folks even still have their winter things out - but we'll probably see more for spring when we get to St. Patrick's Day next week.

I mostly wanted to hit the Oaklyn Library to return Jason of Star Command and do a little bit of volunteering. (And yes, I did tell the librarian on duty about the missing disc in the Jason set.) Needless to say on such a warm day, it was just me, the librarian, and one other person on the computer. The TV wasn't even on. I worked on the DVDs and took a quick look at the kids' books before heading out.

Stopped at WaWa on my way back. I was almost out of milk anyway. Thought I'd pick up a nice, cool treat for the walk home. Dodged the long lines for people on their lunch break and got a Mint Cream Smoothie and a really doughy pretzel. Oooh, yum yum. Sooo minty! Nothing but green food coloring and mint, and it was delicious. Really hit the spot.

Worked on writing for a little while when I got home. Han, who doesn't believe in magic, thinks the creatures in the sky are very large birds at first. Ben and Luke know better. They're Sith Dragons, nasty creatures that obey the dark magic...and they're headed for Aldran Town.

Did some spring and Easter-oriented Max & Ruby as I ate the last of the chicken salad for lunch and got ready for work. "Ruby's Easter Bonnet" will be the fanciest at the Bunny Scouts Easter Bonnet competition...or so Ruby hopes. Max just wants his froggy friend to hop on cue. Max wants to borrow Ruby and Louie's Easter eggs for "Max's Easter Parade," but the girls want to show them to Grandma. Ruby and the Bunny Scouts are all ready to find eggs on Easter morning, but "Max the Easter Bunny" keeps hiding the ones they find.

Work was a little bit busier than the last few days, but still not really crazy. I was in the register for the first half of work and did returns for the majority of the second half. There were a few obnoxious or annoying people. We had a lot of call-outs too, probably folks who took one look at the weather and decided to play hooky. I can't do that. Some of us can't afford to play hooky. Thankfully, it had slowed down enough by 6 that I was able to sign out with no problems.

It was a bit windy by 6 PM, but otherwise still gorgeous. It was too nice of a night to eat dinner anywhere but Sonic. I wasn't the only one who decided to eat outdoors or in a car, either. Sonic was actually pretty busy for them. I enjoyed a messy cheeseburger (the patty was probably fake, but it wasn't bad), their good, greasy tater tots, and my favorite cherry limeade while watching the cars pull in and out.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Springtime Dolls

I couldn't believe how warm out it was when I got up this morning. I threw open the windows and celebrated the weather with breakfast and The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town. My favorite Rankin-Bass springtime special celebrates the origins of everyone's favorite rabbit. Sunny the Bunny was raised by orphans who live in an isolated town in the Big Rock Mountains. He wants to sell their eggs and other goods to gloomy town, but grouchy Lady Lily doesn't like him, his eggs, or kids in general. Seeing how unhappy her strict laws are making her gentle nephew King Bruce, Sunny and the orphans find a way to bring Easter to Town...and teach everyone about the importance of traditions, new beginnings, and making changes.

Spent most of the morning dressing the American Girl dolls for spring and St. Patrick's Day. Whitney's trying on the Our Generation Retro dress and purple shoes Lauren sent for Christmas . The lavender flowers on the white dress have prominent green stems, enough to pass for the holiday. (Besides, I wanted to see how it looks on her. It's adorable. I may have to see if I can find more OG Retro outfits.) Since the dress is sleeveless, I threw the white ruffled Springfield Collection sweater on over it, along with Molly's bobby socks and the lavender bow scrunchie that goes with Sam's Pink Frilly Dress. Samantha wears her Spring Day Dress, red shoes, and headband from last year with the pink tights from the Ballet Outfit. Felicity has borrowed her friend Elizabeth's Summer Gown. Its quilted petticoat really makes it more appropriate for spring. Molly is in a shamrock-print dress I found at a yard sale years ago, bobby socks, and Sam's black "meet" outfit strap shoes. Josefina's sporting her Harvest Outfit and beige moccasins. Jessa's in a mix - a green wrap blouse I found at a booth at the Deptford Mall at least six or so years ago with the khaki trousers and loafers from Molly's Aviator Outfit and thick socks.

Ate a fast lunch while watching an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. Spring in Acme Acres brings thoughts of many things to the Toons, starting with love. The Elmer Fudd-like Cupid quits his job, but his replacement, Conrad the Buzzard, wrecks havoc among the Toons' love lives. In the second story, Elmyra's spring cleaning proves to be hazardous to the health of everything around her, including one poor goldfish whose water is sucked into her vacuum cleaner. The last story has Plucky and Dizzy courting Lady Luck on a parody of the Double Dare/Fun House-style stunt game shows of the late 80's and early 90's.

I had just enough time to eat really quick, change, and pack a snack before rushing off to work. Work was only slightly more interesting than it was Monday. Along with doing returns and the few carts, I picked up trash from the front of the store and cleaned the break room. The break room is disgusting. They don't even have a sponge back there. I had to clean with paper towels. I don't know how everyone else can stand it being such a mess. The tables are sticky with spills no one has bothered to wipe up. There were a spoon and a knife that hadn't been washed, papers scattered all over the tables. I cleaned as best I could under the circumstances.

There was a box waiting for me, leaning against what remains of the front patio area, when I got home. It was the other part of my eBay order, the storybooks for Star Wars (A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back. I couldn't believe how well-wrapped they were for two thirty-year-old hardback kid's books that weren't even in good shape! They were in a box, in a bag, in another bag, smothered in bubble wrap. At least they got here. We never had these. I was a year old when Empire came out. Mom says she didn't see either movie until much, much later in their theatrical runs. She once told me the line to see New Hope at the Beach Theater in Cape May stretched literally around the block!

Worked on a little writing after getting the books organized. Han, Luke, Ben, Chewbacca, and the servants are fleeing Aldran Castle in the enchanted Falcon, Han now driving. Ben says he can feel something terrible coming. Luke's worried, but Han scoffs at such magical trickery. At least, until Luke hears leathery wings, and they see enormous, scaly monsters soaring in the inky early morning sky...

Finished off the night by making Chicken Salad from Samantha's Cooking Studio (though I opted to eat it on a bed of spinach, rather than as a sandwich). Watched the first half of A Night at the Opera while I ate. My favorite Marx Brothers movies has Chico and Harpo trying to help a pair of opera hopefuls (Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones) get together, while Groucho woos Margaret Dumont and her money and tries to get the head of the opera company (Sigfried Ruman) off his back. I know a lot of fans prefer Duck Soup, but for my money, it doesn't get any better than this one. Even the lovers are hilarious. This is worth seeing just for the classic scene that manages to fit at least twenty people, an enormous trunk, and about thirty hard-boiled eggs (and one duck egg) into one tiny stateroom.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Promise of Spring

Started my day by opening my windows. I couldn't believe how ridiculously warm it was. Even at 8:30 in the morning, it had to already be in the 60's. While that's too warm for early March, at least it meant it would be a nice day for running the many errands I had to do on my only day off this week.

Started off the day with breakfast, then dusting my bedroom. It takes forever to get my bedroom clean. That's where I keep the vast majority of my collectibles, including all of my dolls, the Star Wars action figures, and about half of my stuffed animals. (I have so many stuffed toys, I do keep some in the living area, along with seasonal items.) That doesn't even count all the fiction books, comic books, and self-help books I have in my bedroom. That stuff takes time to dust under.

Finished off Jason of Star Command as I cleaned. I didn't realize the set was missing the second disc. I only saw the last five or so episodes of the second season. Even with the abbreviated season, I still consider it to be a major improvement. The extra fifteen minutes gave them more time to develop stories, and while Jason was still a bore, the rest of Star Command was a lot stronger.

Still, the improved second season isn't enough to redeem that lethally dull first season. I don't recommend this one unless you have very fond memories of the Filmation live-action shows or you are a huge fan of Space Academy or the late 70's-early 80's Star Wars clones.

As soon as I finished the dusting, I went right into taking down the winter decorations and putting up what I have for spring. Though the calendar says spring isn't for another two weeks, I think this week's crazy-warm weather is a good indication that Mother Nature is ready for the change. I tossed in my St. Patrick's Day decorations along with the cardboard butterfly and flower hangings, small baskets of fake flowers, and stuffed rabbits, ducks, and shamrock-covered Beanie Baby bears.

Ran the first Easter special of the year as I worked. I thought Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies was a nice way to ease into the spring season, since it really doesn't deal that much with Easter. The Easter Bunny has gotten sick and can't deliver eggs. Granny wants Bugs to do it, but he's busy making cartoons, so they search for a replacement among the Tunes. This is really just a flimsy set-up on which to hang bits and pieces of some of Termite Terrace's best work, including parts of "Hillbilly Hare," "Robin Hood Daffy," "Sahara Hare," "The Rabbit of Seville," and the Oscar winners "Birds Anonymous," "Knightly Knight Bugs," and "For Scentimental Reasons."

I was going to head off the moment the Toons ended, but my first of two eBay orders had arrived in the mail. Almost every kid-friendly movie in the late 70's and early 80's had at least one storybook released, complete with lots of great photos you couldn't find anywhere else. Mom bought us the Return of the Jedi storybook, along with several action figures. We loved it so much, by the end of the 80's, it was literally falling apart. (The cover came off - I used it as a poster for a couple of years.) I bought it partially because of fond memories, but mostly for the wonderful photos. I've seen a couple online, but there's some (including one of Lando and Han discussing the Falcon and two of Luke on Endor) I haven't seen elsewhere. (The two for the remaining movies should hopefully be coming tomorrow or later this week.)

I had quite a bit to do today, starting with a very quick stop at the Haddon Township Library to return DVDs. I didn't stay to volunteer. There wasn't time! I had to move along to counseling, and I wanted to eat, too.

I had lunch at the Westmont Family Diner, across from the PATCO train station in a small shopping center. It was the tail end of lunch hour when I arrived. The lunch hour was just ending as I settled in with my book. I ordered a "Popeye Chicken" sandwich - spinach, onions, and a ton of melted Swiss cheese tops grilled chicken, on a brioche roll. Yum. Very messy (I think they used a little too much cheese) but tasty. I also had some nice, slender fries, a thick half of a pickle, and a tiny cup of cole slaw.

After a short peek at the Happy Hippo Toy Store, I made my way to counseling. I really didn't have that much to discuss with Mrs. Stahl. I spent the vast majority of the winter inside, avoiding the strange wet weather. The Star Wars storybooks are some of the few splurges I've made, along with a couple of things from the malls and one small order. I'm trying to avoid overspending, like I did last winter. I'm going to hold off on another online writing course until after Lauren visits this summer.

We talked a lot about my family. I have a hard time discussing a lot of my problems with them. Rose in particular isn't always the most understanding. We're so different. She's a practical lawyer with a son, a man, two dogs, a cat, a car, and a home. I want none of those things. Sure, I like kids and animals, but I'm fine with occasionally seeing my nephews and niece and watching the squirrels and birds play on my porch. She's been trying to push me for years about finding a better job. I want to, but it's not as easy for me as it is for her. I'm not the talker she is, and I lack her confidence.

To give Rose credit, she did give me one good idea. Next month, when I get my vacation money, I think I'm going to open a second savings account for fun things, like trips and new electronics. I've barely had the money to put in my first savings account, but now that I was able to get my tax return money in there, I can start thinking about other types of saving.

It was the perfect day for a water ice. I stopped at Primo's on the way home. I just barely got in ahead of the kids just out of school. I had a Gelato - a dessert made of soft-serve ice cream layered with water ice. I kept things simple and had vanilla ice cream layered with orange cream water ice. Not bad. To be honest, the orange water ice tasted more like Tang than any real orange I'd ever known, but it paired pretty well with the creamy frozen custard. I enjoyed my treat while watching the long line of kids come out with their own milkshakes and ice cream cones.

As soon as I got home, I went into writing. Vader brings Leia before Lord Tarkin, the second-in-command of the Kingdom of the Empire. Tarkin threatens to burn Aldran Town if Leia doesn't tell them where the Rebels in the Woods are hiding. The Empire's "secret weapons" are dark dragons, who'll burn whatever they say to at a moment's notice. Even when Leia tells them the first thing she can think of off the top of her head, they still send the dragons to the town, to Leia's horror.

She's even less happy when Vader declares his intention to marry her off to his master, the evil black magician King Palapatine. Leia would rather do anything than either become a black sorceress or marry that old crone. Vader intends to imprison her in the highest, most security-tight tower in his castle until she changes her mind.

Had the last of the leftover "Home Made Tuna Helper" casserole for dinner, then made Feather Nutmeg Muffins. Ran one of the three hour-long Sailor Moon movies while I ate. In the spring, a young Japanese girl's thoughts lightly turn to love...or more specifically, to the love of her boyfriend. Usagi and the other Guardians are visiting a local garden when a young man suddenly appears, claiming to be an old friend of Mamoru's. He's really an alien who befriended Mamoru as a child. His love has been tainted by an evil flower, who wants to use him to suck the energy from the Earth. Sailor Moon and the Guardians have their hands full dealing with a pack of evil energy-stealing flowers...and rescuing Tuxedo Mask when the alien makes off with him.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Quiet Day for the Laundry

Started off a sunny, beautiful day with work. Work was...really, really boring. Except for the 15 minutes I went in for someone at a register so they could take a break, I spent the day doing returns. Normally, I love doing returns, but I finished most of them after an hour. I spent the majority of the remaining three hours searching for the place where the three or four things I just couldn't figure out went. Oh well, it was still better than dealing with tons of people all afternoon. Needless to say, I was in and out with no trouble, picking up eggs on the way out.

As soon as I got in, I changed, took out the recycling, and went right back out again. I really needed to get the laundry done. I had an enormous load, including towels. Figures it would be busy when I arrived. I got one of the last remaining washers. Thankfully, by the time I needed to use the dryers, the place was starting to clear out. I spent most of the time listening to Action News and working my way through the thick stack of notebook papers with story ideas on them that I wrote down at work.

I started watching Jason of Star Command this morning before work. I continued it after I finished putting away my laundry, while eating leftovers for dinner. The second season of Jason made a few significant changes. Perky-but-bland Natalie and the original Commander have been replaced by tough, intelligent Samantha and a stoic blue-skinned alien leader. While there's still an ongoing story line, the episodes are now a half-hour, instead of two ten-minute installments. This works much better. There's more time to tell a story and set up the plot twists. The dialogue isn't any better (and Jason still isn't a very exciting hero), but the episodes are a lot more interesting and fun to follow. Right now, I just finished a series that involved the rescue of a little girl, her creepy moving doll who holds a secret, and her scientist father from the Evil Queen (no longer played by Julie Newmayr, alas).

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Tales of the Gold Wookie

Began a mostly sunny, chilly morning with simple, tasty Buttermilk Pancakes, a couple of easy listening CD's (including Johnny Mathis' On Broadway), and working on revising one of my three Star Wars story ideas. I've now moved the 20's story up a decade to 1938. I saw photos of Harrison Ford online in what more-or-less looks like Jake Cutter's pilot's costume from Tales of the Gold Monkey and I thought...ooh yes, Han would make a great Jake! And in fact, it makes even more sense.

Luke remains a newsboy and wanna-be reporter. Leia is now a reporter herself and a spy. Han is a pilot-for-hire. The Falcon is his dilapidated cargo plane. Chewie is his faithful mechanic whom no one can understand. Ben Kenobi is a World War I vet-turned-weary-crime-reporter. The droids are still Laurel and Hardy-type comedians. Vader is the corrupt Chief of Police. Palapatine is the even more corrupt mayor who may or may not be involved with some of the nastier things going on in Europe in the late 30's. Lando is a gambler who owns a casino and amusement park. The Ewoks are midgets in the boardwalk side show. I may even throw in a couple of Rebels characters as renegade reporters, photographers, and artists at the Los Angeles Daily Empire.

Got to work on time and ended up spending the whole four hours behind a register. I was a bit surprised. We were really busy, but I thought they might want me to help round up the carts. Evidently, not today. They just plain hadn't scheduled enough cashiers. You'd think they'd know better on a Sunday in the beginning of the month. Thankfully, it did slow down long enough for me to close down with no relief.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner while listening to The Muppet Movie soundtrack. I was glad to find one last fall. I always did like the songs from the first three movies, including some of the background music. I love the jazzy instrumental version of "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" that plays when Kermit and Piggy are reconciling in the back of the Electric Mayhem's bus right before the "cop" comes to warn them.

Did a little bit writing this morning before work and this evening as well. While Han, Luke, and Ben head off towards Aldran Town, Leia is being taken to Vader's stronghold in the Kingdom of the Empire. Once the Kingdom of Naboo, it was the most beautiful kingdom in the entire Alliance...until Vader and Palapatine's black Force magic infected everything. Now, barely anything grows, and there's very little color or light. Vader's castle sits on top of a slick mountain made of red and black dark Khyber crystal. It's impossible for anyone without powers to climb. Leia still refuses to talk, but Vader and his aid Lord Tarkin have ways of getting information from her...