Thursday, June 30, 2016

Front and Back at Odds

Started the day with my only early work shift this week. Good thing it was gorgeous again, warm and dry and breezy. I was outside for three of the six hours I worked. I also did some returns in the morning. I did briefly get stuck in the register later in the afternoon when the people let out early for the holiday weekend started arriving, but I mostly bagged.

I do wish the front end and the stocking and bagging people would coordinate a little better. No one up front has any idea where anything in the back is or how it works, and no one in the back knows much about prices or how the front end runs. It's frustrating for people who work in both places. Often, I'll ask two or three different people where something is and get two or three different responses. And they all complain about each other.

When I finally made it home, I got right on the computer. Leia calls UCLA to wire for the money to pay Harry Solomon. Dr. Mothma's thinks Leia is crazy, but she's determined to get the Sword of Light before Vader and Tarkin use it for their cannon.

Leia goes to the bar next-door to the hangar for lunch. While she eats, she overhears a conversation between Han and an Italian man who seems to be threatening to take his plane and turn him over to his lady boss. The altercation ends with Han shooting the man, to Leia's shock. (Yes, he shot first.)

Finished the night with a nice, simple dinner. I made a quick chicken salad over a bed of farm-fresh romaine lettuce, scallions, and radishes. Tasty and filling. I started Spectre, but it's a long movie, and I didn't get a chance to finish it before I went online. I'll do it tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sunshine Days

Honestly, I can't believe Lauren just went home a week ago. It feels more like a month.

Anyway, it started raining hard just as I got offline and went to bed last night. One good, hard storm did the trick. When I awoke this morning, the humidity was gone. It was still hot, but without the stifling humidity, the air was far more bearable. The wind was nice enough that I was able to turn off the air conditioners.

I had breakfast while watching an episode of Max & Ruby. "Ruby's Loose Tooth" has gone missing! Ruby wants to find it, so she can put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy. Max just wants a muffin. "Ruby Scores" against her guy friend Roger when she practices her soccer moves. Will Max's robots be more of a help or a hindrance? "Max's Sandcastle" will be a masterpiece...if Max can stop trying to get in the water long enough to bring his sister the items she needs to build it!

Spent the rest of the morning and some time this evening working on my 30's story. Vader and his men chase them down the hills towards the back roads of Los Angeles. As Leia holds them off, Ben tells them that the Jedi who watched over the Swords of the Guardians for centuries still exist...or their powers did, until Vader killed them all off shortly after the end of the Great War. Ben finally turns around several tight corners that leave Vader and his boys in a gorge.

Leia's in for a shock when they arrive at the air field. Harry's much-loved cargo plane, the Silver Falcon, is a piece of dilapidated, heavily patched junk. He claims it runs, and that's all Leia cares about. She wants him to take them to Coruscant. He says no way, that's Empire territory. If he's going to fly into danger, he wants $10,000. She tells him he'll get $5,000 and another $6,000 for rescuing the Swords. He finally agrees - he needs the money to pay off his very nasty boss.

Had middle-of-the-day work. It wasn't bad in the late morning and early afternoon. The nice day kept people out of the store and outside. I rounded up carts for a while, but I mostly did returns. I did go in for a cashier for a half-hour. It was just supposed to be for his 15-minute break, but that cashier always takes way too long on breaks.

The trouble started after my 1 PM break. We were already missing one cashier, and another had gone home sick. A second one went home sick shortly after I got off break, and we were getting busier. I got stuck in the register for over an hour. I barely had enough time after that to gather baskets and do some bagging.

One good thing did come out of being up front. Dad came through my line. He said he'd be around for August and would be happy to drive me whenever I wanted to go to Cherry Hill on the 15th. I'll buy the tickets next week, but this pretty much confirms that yes, I'll be up in New England from August 15th through August 21st.

Went straight home after work. When I got in, I made leftovers for dinner, then baked Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (a modified version of the Cupcakes recipe from The Holly Hobbie Cookbook).

Watched Nauticaa and the Valley of the Wind while I worked. In a post-apocalyptic future, Nausicaa is the princess of one of the few peaceful kingdoms left in the world. Humanity was almost wiped out by amazing giant creatures that could destroy in an instant. A toxic jungle grows and grows, but it hasn't reached the Valley of the Wind...yet. When a huge plane from across the sea crash-lands, it digs up a 1,000-year-old secret...and brings invaders from the East. One kingdom wants to make war and use the giant creature to take over the world. The other wants to use the huge, billion-eyed bugs from the toxic jungles to kill the war-making kingdom and burn the jungle to bring humanity back into prominence. The jungle, however, holds more secrets than anyone knows, including how to purify the jungle. Nausicaa goes with the war mongers, determined to prove that compassion and sacrifice, not death and war, are the answer to their problems.

My favorite thing about this was the title character. Nausicaa was amazing - strong, intelligent, and caring. She's devoted to her island and to trying to preserve its harmony with nature and its way of life. She can fight with the best of them when she has to - and you don't want to get her mad - but in the end, it's her good heart that really saves the day.

Unfortunately, not only is the supporting cast not at her level, but the anti-war and pro-nature messages were spread on fifty feet thick. I don't know if it's the translation, or if it was like this originally, but it's not subtle at all, and it gets annoying when they constantly bash you over the head with it. Also, the "dark, destroyed future" wasn't as overdone when this came out in the 90's. Though it's more colorful and less depressing than something like The Hunger Games, it still seems a little cliche now.

There was enough I enjoyed to put this in the "like" column. If you're a fan of anime, fantasy, or tales of dark futures or strong heroines, you may want to look this one up (if you can ignore the heavy-handed messages).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

You Can Cut the Air With a Knife

After I finished breakfast this morning, I put up the patriotic decorations. I usually get them up earlier, but I just hadn't gotten around to it until now. Most of what I have came from dollar stores, including a large cardboard flag and a "God Bless America" banner I found at a dollar store in Philly. The folksy "USA" doll sign, Uncle Sam cardboard container, and the two US-themed Teeny Beanies came from yard sales. The bell door knob hanger and the red-white-and-blue striped bow for the front door were CVS finds. The cardboard stars - both small and large and covered in Mylar - are from a party store. The Mylar is coming off the big stars. I put them up, but I may end up getting rid of them after this year.

Listened to music as I decorated. Yankee Doodle Mickey has become a favorite of mine. This recording from the early 80's includes a rousing version of "The Liberty Tree" from Disney's version of Johnny Tremain and a cute medley of the theme songs of the Armed Services, performed by the Disney gang. The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band may be a strange musical (it's about a contested election in the Dakotas in 1888), but its soundtrack has some lovely tunes. My favorites are the dance songs "Ten Feet Off the Ground" and "West O' the Wide Missouri" and the adorable ballad "'Bout Time."

Work was quiet for almost the entire afternoon. I guess everyone's waiting for the holiday weekend and the beginning of the month. The weather didn't help. While it wasn't really hot, it was on-and-off cloudy and killer, cut-the-air-with-a-knife humid. I was dripping after both times I rounded up carts. I did a lot of returns, too. Thankfully, there were no problems getting in or out. I picked up the Acme-brand Fig Newtons on the way out. One of the younger employees asked me if she could take my shift tomorrow. She needs hours. I would have loved to, but she had nothing to switch to. I need the hours, too. I have rent and bills to pay.

When I got home, I changed, put away my cookies, and worked on my story. More re-writing - the Sword of Light has already been sent along to Coruscant. The Death Star cannon will be following it there shortly. Everyone manages to get out, then separates into two cars to get to Harry's air field.

I decided I wanted a decent dinner, for once. Made Italian chicken meatballs with whole-wheat pasta and steamed snap peas while watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. When huge robots invade downtown Manhattan in 1939, intrepid reporter Polly Perkins (Gwenyth Paltrow) is on the case. The robots are fended off by the titular Sky Captain (Jude Law), who happens to be Polly's former lover. Though Sky Captain saves New York, he's unable to come to the rescue of his sidekick and builder Dex. Polly smells a story and won't leave her Captain's side until she gets it. Now, the two travel from Shangril-La to a flying station run by Frankie (Angelina Jolie),  another ex-lover of the Captain's, to a hidden tropical island to find out what's the real meaning behind the sinister World of Tomorrow.

This unusual experiment tries to recreate a 30's atmosphere with Sepia-toned film and CGI Art Deco backgrounds...but the first time I saw it, I thought it was just weird. I still think it's pretty strange, though I did enjoy it a little bit more the second time. Not a bad time-waster for fans of the real sci-fi and action serials and B-films of the 1930's.

Oh, and I updated the stories and ideas page to include the revised Star Wars 1980's story idea.

Upcoming Stories and Ideas In Development

Monday, June 27, 2016

It's a Hot Summer, Charlie Brown

Started a sunny morning with breakfast and the Peanuts. The Peanuts gang is best known for their holiday specials, but there were just as many that had nothing to do with holidays, like the (relatively) recent He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. For once in his life, Charlie Brown gets mad when a bully at camp challenges little or inexperienced kids to games and keeping their marbles when they lose. Re-run, the youngest member of the group, is one of his victims. Charlie Brown learns about the finer points of playing marbles with Snoopy until he's ready to beat that bully at his own game.

I had a huge pile of laundry to get done, including the towels Lauren used when she was here. I didn't do it last week because I did it twice the week before. It was somewhat quiet when I went in around quarter after 11, with one family and maybe one other person. I had a lot of time to work on notes for both my current story, and a revised version of one of my other ideas.

While I still want to do a comic action story set in the 80's, I really don't know much about high school in that decade. I do remember summer resorts in the 80's very well, though. The story is now set during the summer of 1983 and has been moved from a fictional Philadelphia suburb to a fictional Jersey Shore town.

Leia and Luke Walker are just out of high school and are celebrating their last two months of freedom before she goes to college for political science and he joins the Air Force. Uncle Ben, a local beach bum, owns a series of dilapidated cottages on the beach at the edge of town. He'll let them rent a cottage and keep an eye on them, and they'll run chores and help him with the cottages' upkeep. Things go south very quickly when Leia discovers that a nasty corporation wants to buy the cottages, tear them down, force out the permanent residents, and build an elaborate hotel and mall in their place. The Imperial Gang, a motorcycle group, has been threatening the residents and Uncle Ben for months. She and Luke rally the residents, including shady fisherman Hank Solokowski, his British buddy Charlie Bachman, Luke's Air Force friend Walter "Wedge" Antilles, and foreign nerds Chip and Arturro, to help fight back.

The movies of the 80's and early 90's are still the inspiration, but this time, I'm turning to summer and vacation-themed comedies like Caddyshack, One Crazy Summer, Summer Rental, Summer SchoolThe Great Outdoors, and Captain Ron, as well as slobs-vs-snobs tales like the Police Academy movies. I'll also try to incorporate my own childhood memories of life in a Jersey Shore resort town in the mid-80's via a group of neighborhood grade-school-age kids who dress like savage bears and call themselves The Ewoks.

When I got home, I put everything away, then went on the computer to work on my story. I mostly did some revising. I had Harry able to punch Vader and distract him long enough for Charel to get Luke away and all of them to dash for the exit.

I also went back and added Luke to Leia's discovery of their trashed apartment and the subsequent car chase. I wanted to more firmly establish the bond between them and Luke's sunny, anything-for-adventure personality. Threw in a mention that they were able to pack clothes and pick up some supplies before they left for Alderaan House.

Finished out It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown and an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show while I ate a fast lunch. Chuck and the boys aren't nearly as lucky during another summer camp trip. The girls keep trouncing them at every single event, and they brag rather obnoxiously about it. Fed up with their teasing, Charlie Brown finally sees something that may finally show the girls they're winners - Snoopy (in his Masked Marvel guise) playing Lucy at arm wrestling.

The Saturday morning cartoon episode was more random. The gags with Re-run on his mom's bike were familiar - they would be reused in I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown.

Headed to work around 1:30. Work wasn't too bad when I arrived. I spent the first two hours of my shift doing returns. It picked up considerably during rush hour. The lines got really long and really cranky. I spent the last hour and a half rounding up carts, the last hour totally on my own.I really had a hard time. I tried to push too many carts and too many different carts at the same time. They kept coming apart and rolling off and getting in the way of cars. I was so frustrated.

Dark clouds were gathering, even as I pushed carts into place. Since it was dinnertime when I finished, I headed to Arby's for a fast meal before the rain hit. Surprisingly for 6 PM, there was no one in the dining area when I arrived, and only a few showed up after me. I had a beef gyro and curly fries. It was ok, but I think I liked the slightly more flavorful turkey one better.

Finished the night in the bath. Ahh. I needed that after spending today and all weekend returning carts. I don't have another day off until Friday. I read the Star Wars FAQ and listened to one of my Reader's Digest Collection of Great Operettas CDs. Oh, and it finally did rain...a couple of hours ago, well after I got home.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's My Life

Began another hot, sunny day with music and breakfast. I had some peaches in the refrigerator that were very old and wrinkly. One was beyond saving, but the other was cut up for Peach Ginger Pancakes. I even made them small, like last week. Not bad. I'll try it again later in the summer, when peaches are more in season. Listened to the Bon Jovi Greatest Hits CD I picked up during vacation as I ate and got ready for work.

Work was on-and-off busy, but not as bad as yesterday. I spent the first half of my shift doing returns. I had more problems during the second half. I was supposed to be rounding up carts, but I saw a red blotch on the concrete outside the exit near the pharmacy that smelled strongly of tomatoes and vinegar. It turned out to be a broken jar of tomato sauce. I picked up the glass, but actually clearing off the mess was a lot more complicated. If it had been on the other side, I would have turned on the hose used to water the garden flowers and plants we sell during the spring and fall. I was quickly told that the nozzle on the pharmacy side wasn't working. The manager said she'd send one of the guys to do it.

I went back to doing carts. When I checked twenty minutes or so later, the red blotch was still there. I went back inside to find out where the other bagger was. Seems the manager completely forgot and never called him. I ended up doing it.

First thing was getting a bucket from the bakery. What no one bothered telling me was their buckets used to be filled with icing. I had to scrub thick globs of whipped topping off one of the buckets before I could even use it. And then, I couldn't lift a full bucket. I had to go back and forth four times in order to even close to get it all washed away (and I still didn't quite get all of it).

I was mad as a hornet when I got home. I calmed down with more writing. Leia and the guys come out of the air duct in a storage room. They find Alderaanian artifacts that have been stripped of their crystal...along with the Sword of Light, one of the three missing Swords of the Guardians. The moment Luke touches it, it glows...and he glows along with it. Tarkin shows up with his men just as Luke raises the sword, showing fencing moves that would outclass Olympic champions.

Broke around 7:30 for dinner. I kept things simple with a raspberry jelly and cheese omelet and a salad. Listened to another vacation find while I ate. I've seen Seven Brides For Seven Brothers many times. We watched it whenever it turned up on cable during my childhood. It was one of the very few musicals my stepdad and brother ever liked. I have it on one of the Turner Classic Movies 4-pack sets. I'd never heard of the 1954 version of Rose Marie until I got into musicals in the 90's. While this one, with Ann Blyth as the title mountain girl, Howard Keel as the Mountie who loves her, and Bert Lahr and Marjorie Main as the comics, sticks a bit closer to the original story than the MacDonald/Eddy version from 1936, it uses less of the music. Only three songs - "The Mounties," "Indiana Love Call," and the title number - are retained from the original stage operetta. Of the new additions, the only really memorable one is a ditty for Bert Lahr, "The Mountie Who Never Got His Man."

Finished the night with Lego Indiana Jones 2. Not that I got far. I wandered around Venice with Elsa on my heels. Found a lot of money and all of the green bricks, but never figured out where I was supposed to go. I had to look it up online. I'll try again tomorrow or later in the week.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cartoons at the Beach

Today was my second early work shift this week. I can't believe how busy we were, especially compared to earlier in the week. I was outside for nearly five of the six hours I was there, and even with help from two other baggers later in the day, the carts still kept vanishing. Even rounding up more carts from inside didn't help. The managers kept fussing at us that we weren't gathering the carts fast enough and people were complaining. There wasn't much we could do. The carts would evaporate as quickly as we returned them to the patio. It didn't help that it was hot, despite a really nice wind. I was so happy to finally get out of there, buy bananas and the new Acme generic sparkling water, and go home.

At the very least, I was able to get my schedule. On one hand, I have two days off in a row on Fourth of July Weekend and more hours than I have been getting. On the other hand, my first day off isn't until Friday, and some middle-of-the-day shifts may make writing a problem, plus I have two long shifts. I don't think it's going to be any less busy than today, either. In addition to the Fourth of July, we're also coming up on the beginning of the month.

When I got home, I got organized, changed, then sat down and worked on my story for an hour. Under the influence of Vader's drugs, Leia doesn't give away the location of her godfather's notebooks and maps...but she does have a scary nightmare. Luke and a second, taller person are tied over a boiling pit of thick yellow liquid, screaming for her help. Leia tries to get to them, but Vader backs her to the edge of the cliff. She finally goes over...

And is awakened by Luke. He's worried about his sister, but is otherwise fine. He and his friends, pilot Harry Solomon and mechanic Charel Bacca, stole the coats and gloves that belonged to Vader's goons in order to rescue her from the factory. Trouble is, the goons followed him, and now they're trapped. Leia finally gets them out through an air vent.

I got off so late, I just had enough time for a couple of beach-themed cartoon shorts while I ate a quick dinner of chicken salad with farm-fresh radishes, romaine lettuce, and scallions. Tom is a "Salt Water Tabby" when he and Jerry hit the beach and Tom flirts with a pretty kitty. Jerry, as usual, does what he can to put the kibosh on his pal's romance. Woody Woodpecker is "The Beach Nut" who drives Wally Walrus crazy down by the shore.

Lauren didn't get online until much later. I played more Lego Indiana Jones 2 while waiting for her. This time, I finished out Temple of Doom just fine, with none of the freezing from the other day. And I have to agree with the player I watched on YouTube...the ending does seem rather like someone was smoking something.

The first round of Last Crusade was far more difficult. The Lego version opts to skip past the Indy's origins opening and straight into the boat ride to find the Cross of Coronado. Between all the goons chasing after me and the dark storm, I had a hard time completing the puzzles, and then an even more difficult time getting to "Panama Hat Guy" one last time. He was up high, but I couldn't figure out what to do after I launched my whip the first time. At any rate, I'm now in Venice with Elsa Schindler, on our way to finding Professor Jones.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dancin' In the Streets

Began a late morning with breakfast and episodes of Sailor Moon. My favorite episodes of the first season are the pair that make up the two-parter where Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon learn they're the Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom and Prince Endymion of the Earth. Zoycite has lured Mamoru to the Starlight Tower to gain the remaining Rainbow Crystals; Usagi is accidentally along for the ride. The duo first reveal their secret identities to save each other from Zoycite's traps, then learn of their other lives when Tuxedo Mask is hurt. Sailor Moon is able to get herself and the other Guardians and cats out with the just-found Silver Crystal, but Tuxedo Mask is kidnapped by the enemy.

Spent the rest of the morning and an hour or so later at night writing. Leia has been captured by Derek Vader, the mysterious head of Dark Star Industries. She's taken to his secret factory in the hills, where Tarkin is waiting for her. They've been gathering crystals from Alderaanian artifacts and from the ruins to power a laser canon ten times stronger than any gun. Tarkin at first threatens her family's home with it, but Vader's idea is less damaging to the neighborhood and Dark Star's reputation - drugging her into talking. She doesn't, and wakes up bound and gagged in a room in the factory.

I headed out around 1:30 for today's errands. Did lunch at Phillies Phatties. I had the usual slice of cheese and slice of mushroom with a can of Mountain Dew's Baja Blast sweet lime soda. I really like that one. It's unique. It was so nice by then, I ate lunch outside at the picnic tables. It was sunny, windy, and though a tad humid, not as hot. The wind on my back felt nice and cool as I finished my slices and watched kids get cold treats at Phillies Yummies two doors down.

It was a wonderful day to cut across Newton Lake Park. Summer is in its full flower now. The leaves on the trees are big and thick and so, so green. The grass is getting a little crunchy, though. We might need some more rain.

Haddon Township Library was busy with kids now out of school when I arrived. I left the adult DVDs to other volunteers, but I did organize and shelve the kids' DVDs. I also shelved audio and music CDs and went through the adult titles, making sure foreign titles and kids' discs weren't mixed in.

I took quite a bit out for the first time in weeks! Found one of the more recent Daisy Dalyrumple books, Heirs to the Body, and a Star Wars: Rebels-based adult novel, A New Dawn. Also grabbed a discussion of the culture of the 30's and the Great Depression (which is the time when my current story is set), Dancing In the Dark. For movies, I went with the Japanese fantasy war tale Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, the 30's-set Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (which I have seen, but not in years), and the latest James Bond movie, Spectre. I was waiting to get closer to summer to take out the Peanuts camp-themed set He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. It's definitely the right time now.

Went straight back to Oaklyn after I finished, briefly stopping at WaWa for skim milk. This evening was the first day of Oaklyn's new Friday Food & Farms Festival. Apparently, every month from now until September, Oaklyn is going to hold a small farm market on the block of West Clinton between Woodlawn and Manor. There was a LOT more food than there was farm. It was almost all food booths and vans, except for one woman showing off the benefits of raising chickens in the area, and one very tiny farm booth with very small vegetables. I did buy scallions and oddly long, thin radishes from them.

Ran into Rose as I was buying my veggies. She'd seen the signs too and brought her family to the event. She, Craig, and Khai were sitting with neighbors, enjoying Phillies Phatties pizza. I settled on a very sweet and coffee-tasting cappuccino water ice from Phillies Yummies. I chatted with Rose and watched Khai and his friend from school run around with the balloon he got from a vendor. He was very upset when his balloon broke off its ribbon and floated away in the wind over the roof tops!

Played Lego Indiana Jones 2 when I got home, or tried to. I did manage to get through the actual Temple of Doom, solving puzzles to get the kid Maharajah off the ledges and out of Mola Ram's control. The trouble was with the final round. I was almost done with Mola Ram's many-armed stone idol, but for some odd reason, I had to whip the head twice...and it got stuck after the second time, making the same god-awful noise Lego Star Wars did when it glitched. Damn it. I'll try again tomorrow or next week.

Finished the night more pleasantly, with a broccoli, cheese, and scallion omelet and baking Banana Honey Muffins. Ran another episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey while I ate and worked. Jake takes a "High Stakes Lady" to Takura for a major poker tournament. It turns out there's a lot more than poker being played when he and the lady are kidnapped by Japanese agents...and the lady is far from what she claims to be.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Rains Came Late

Began the day with my first work shift in a week and a half. After it was dead when I was running errands at the Acme yesterday, I didn't think it would be that bad...and it wasn't. It did get relatively busy around noon. The carts were empty when I came out to do them during the second half of my shift. It was cloudy when I went to work. It even showered lightly as I rode down the Black Horse Pike. By noon, though, it was sunny, hot, and humid. My feet were killing me by the time I finished. I bought oatmeal (which I forgot yesterday) and the Acme's generic fruit soda and headed home.

When I got in, I read Honor Among Thieves for a little while, then went on the computer to do story work. Leia and Artie dodge the men shooting at them long enough to get back to Alderaan Manor, Leia's godparents' home. Leia finds the other thing the men were looking for in her godfather's desk - the map that lead to his major discovery. Artie's intrigued, but Clarence, Bail's worrywart assistant/translator/secretary, is absolutely frightened.

He has every reason to be scared. Gunshots shatter the windows of Bail's office, forcing the trio to take cover. While Clarence tries to call the cops, Leia hands the map and Bail's research over to Artie. He and Clarence are to take it to Luke and Benton Kenobi at the Los Angeles Daily Star. She fires at the men again to distract them. The two servants get out. Leia isn't so lucky. One of the goons knocks her out before she can follow.

The rain that had threatened in the morning didn't finally arrive until around 6 this evening. Thankfully, it wasn't a thunderstorm, just a heavy shower. (Good thing I did work early today.) I was eating leftovers and watching an episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey when it started.

A Japanese man wants to "Honor Thy Brother" by luring Jake into a trap. Jake shot down his brother the year before, and the man wants revenge. Meanwhile, Sarah is delighted when Jake tells her he's seen unregistered Japanese planes in the area, though no one else believes him. Corky's act of charity for a local fisherman gains him an unexpected and unwanted wife. And Jack the dog briefly gets his eye back, only to lose it again.

Lauren was late getting online. I played more Lego Indiana Jones while waiting for her. The last round of Raiders of the Lost Ark was really strange. After the Nazis all do disco moves (don't ask), you have to direct the energy of one of the villains from the Ark back to the villain. It was fairly complicated with one person, especially the last part. I had to get both figures on buttons at the same time, not easy when I was only controlling one.

The first two levels of Temple of Doom were slightly easier. Level one was a basic car bash-and-crash as Indy and Short Round try to out run Lao Che's men and rescue Willie. The second level was quieter. The trio have to give monkeys bananas in order to get the Shankara Stones back. Elephants are involved. It took me a while to figure out how to get everyone where they needed to be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Time High

Lauren and I spent her last morning here playing more Lego Indiana Jones 2. We got through most of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The first round was a puzzle that had Indy and Sallah, and then Indy and Marion, figuring out how to reveal the hiding place of the Ark and navigate around snakes. (The snakes slow down Indy, who doesn't like them.) The second one was another crash-and-bash round, this time running into Germans in the desert.

Jodie called last night and said someone would come for us around 10 of 12. I helped Lauren get her suitcase and backpack downstairs around 11:40. Dad was right on time. There was no traffic whatsoever, and we had no problems getting to the Cherry Hill Train Platform. When we got there, Lauren said she'd be fine. Dad and I left her there and headed home.

(And yes, we both had a great time. I love it when Lauren and I get together. She's one of the few people who really understand me. We have great conversations. Oh, and Lauren e-mailed me around 9:40. She got into Albany just fine and is likely long at home with her parents by now.)

When I got back in, I cleaned up a bit, then headed out. I had a very few errands to run, starting with a quick stop at the Oaklyn Library. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, windy, dry, and in the mid-80's. Needless to say, it was me, the librarian, and CNN for most of the half-hour I was there. I organized DVDs, especially the kids' titles, then looked the kids' section over.

Headed to Common Ground Coffee House for a quick lunch. I had a slice of bacon and fresh kale quiche and my favorite spicy sweet iced tea. They, too, were quiet, with only two other people working on laptops. I enjoyed a blissfully quiet lunch.

Next stop was the Acme for my schedule and a little bit of grocery shopping. My schedule is 9 AM shifts tomorrow and Saturday, Friday off. That's fine. For one thing, the Acme was dead as a doornail today. It probably won't pick up until we get close to the end of the month and the 4th of July next week. It's the middle of the month, and the weather is gorgeous. I saw a poster for a "First Farm Friday" at Common Ground. It looks like it'll be Oaklyn's farm market, held on the last Friday of every month from this Friday through September. Checking out that will make up for not getting to the Collingswood Farm Market on Saturday.

I didn't have much of a grocery list, at any rate. Eggs were on a good sale again, so I grabbed those. Restocked white beans (cannellini this time), ground chicken, chocolate chips, cheese (went with sharp cheddar), and canned chicken. They were having a really good Betty Crocker cake mix sale. Picked up Golden Vanilla to try something at home.

Ran an episode of The Backyardigans as I got organized. Uniqua and Tyrone are asking Tasha "What's Bugging You?" Wormens, the Technicolor worm-like critters who occasionally turn up on the show, have taken over Tasha's house, and she's frantic! Mr. Spiffy (Pablo) is coming to see her house and possibly let her into his Spiffy Club. He won't let her in if her house is less-than-spotless. Bug exterminators Uniqua and Tyrone have their own ways of trying to get rid of these uninvited pests.

Spent the next few hours working on my stories and ideas for it. Leia Skylark and her godparents' long-time chauffeur and handyman Artie are being followed in the family car. Artie's a bit freaked, but Leia carries a gun in her purse and has no trouble returning fire when they start shooting at her.

After I broke for the night, I had leftovers for dinner, then made Blueberry Crumble Cookies. I loved the Blueberry Crumble Bars I had last week so much, I thought I'd recreate the flavors as a cookie. (Plus the blueberries were old and I wanted to get rid of them.) They came out pretty darn well for something I improved, sweet and very soft.

Ran Octopussy as I ate and baked. A case involving a Faberge egg up for auction and jewel smuggling turns out to be a lot more complicated when a British agent turns up dead. Enter James Bond (Roger Moore), who tracks the egg to its new owner, a Frenchman (Louis Jordan) living in India, and his boss, the elusive Octopussy (Maud Abrams), who runs the all-female smuggling ring/circus. The Frenchman has links to an East German general who wants to start World War III; Octopussy just wants to continue with her business. James has to figure out how to stop the Frenchman and the general from committing mass murder in the name of using their military might, while romancing the exotic businesswoman.

Along with The Spy Who Loved Me, this has long been my favorite Roger Moore Bond movie. I love the light-hearted, almost Indiana Jones-esque feel it has, especially during the first half. (The fact that George MacDonald Fraser, who wrote The Flashman books and the swashbuckler spoof The Pyrates, worked on the script for this movie explains a lot about the tone.) The second half in East Germany gets progressively more dour and less fun. It doesn't help that the movie really has about two or three climaxes too many and goes on for way too long.

If you like your Bond on the lighter side or are a fan of Moore's Bond, this is not a bad place to start if you have time on your hands.

Finished the night in the bath. Ahhhh. I needed that so badly after all the walking we did this week. I read books on Star Wars and musicals and listened to my "jazz and rock artists interpret Gershwin" CD.

And that finishes my vacation. As I mentioned, I'll be resuming regular work tomorrow, though I do have off Friday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

(Partly) Sunny Girlfriends

Started the morning with the Monkees album Headquarters and breakfast. Lauren was up around the same time as me. We'd heard rumblings about rain, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky at that point. It was sunny and nice, if a tad humid.

Strolled down the White Horse Pike and Cuthbert to the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. The kids are out of school, so we were mainly joined by older people and parents with young children as we enjoyed our lunch. Lauren had the pizza bagel and a bottle of raspberry iced tea. I went with cinnamon-swirl French toast with fresh strawberries and blueberries and a bottle of water. Yum. The French toast slices were so amazingly thick, I couldn't finish them all. Lauren didn't close to finish her pizza bagel, either.

We had a little time, so we browsed around Tuesday Morning and the Haddon Township Library, checking out sales. Didn't see anything we absolutely needed. It was just as well. The bus was, for possibly the first time since I've lived here, nearly ten minutes early. We encountered a little traffic near the bridge over Cooper River, but otherwise had no problems getting to Cherry Hill.

Spent the first hour or so exploring the Cherry Hill Mall, checking out any stores we hadn't already seen at Moorestown. I found a 50% off sale on tank tops and T-shirts at Old Navy. Lauren bought two tank tops in beige and lavender. I can't pull off their bottoms, but I can do their tops. I got two v-neck tees in pale coral and pale periwinkle blue. The Jay's Video Game store there is huge, three times the size of the Game Stop next-door. I didn't see anything interesting, but Lauren found a Nintendo Game Cube wrestling game with Roddy "Rowdy" Piper she wanted. I finally got socks at JC Penney. Though they listed their Mixit socks at buy one, get one half-off, both pairs came up half-off, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn't get anything at the Disney Store, though I admired the Animator's Collection dolls (including new additions Lilo with her stuffed monster doll and Alice with Dinah). Lauren got shirts for her dad, herself, and her mom.

The clouds were moving in as we made our way over the pedestrian bridge and down to Target. Lauren just bought a Mountain Dew Code Red soda. Unfortunately, as a frustrated mother pointed out, the toy section was really picked over. I did make a few finds. Life Cereal was on sale. They just put out a new Vanilla flavor; thought I'd try it, and it was on sale. I also grabbed my favorite toasted coconut marshmallows and a Cherry Vanilla Pepsi.

The clouds were building and getting heavier. We decided it was no day to hang out, and we've been in enough malls this week. We flew straight across the Mall and right to the bus stop. Thankfully, the bus was only a little bit late. Once again, other than a tiny bit of traffic, there were no major problems getting home. Not even weather. The clouds were breaking up by the time we were on our way through Oaklyn. (It still hasn't rained at press time.)

We spent the rest of the evening playing Lego Indiana Jones 2, broken up by a dinner of chicken burgers with watermelon, steamed snap peas, and leftover marinated potatoes and broccoli. We finally finished out Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Marion and Indy have to work together to jump and whip their way over to the Russian lady, who has control of the skulls. The last part - Indy, who can't jump high, has to climb his whip to get to the same platforms with buttons Marion can jump on easily - was especially tough. We moved on to Raiders of the Lost Ark after that. Marion helps Indy get the German jerk out of her place. After that, Sallah and Indy defeat the swordsmen and German officers in the square where Marion is kidnapped.

Switched to movies around 9:30. UHF opens with an Indiana Jones spoof. The opening is a daydream from the head of George ("Weird" Al Yankovitz), a sweet guy who can't hold a job. He finally gets a position at a local station that's losing money. Thanks to the sudden popularity of a janitor-turned-kids' show host, he has the leverage to create wild, inventive shows that make Channel 62 the talk of the town. The competition doesn't like this at all! The owner of the town's other station first buys the station, intending to tear it down. When the staff holds a telethon to raise money, he kidnaps Stanley. But one should never underestimate the power of media, teamwork...or of dreamers who have found their niche.

Cult comedy has fun with everything from the violent action pictures from the late 80's to early CGI. If you're a fan of satire or Weird Al, this one is worth looking around for.

Headed on to the second 90's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie next. The Turtles find themselves dealing with a revived Shredder, who is out for vengeance. Leonardo is more interested in finding a new home. Donatello wants to know where they're from. Raph wants to kick some Foot tail, with or without the others. Mikey...just wants pizza and to flirt with an annoyed April.

This one is far goofier than the first, and even more dated. (The Vanilla Ice "Ninja Rap" has become rather infamous.) On the other hand, it does have some of the most quotable lines and hilarious moments from anything Turtles-related. (I love the part about the traditional pre-fight donuts.) Still a little violent for the youngest kids, but for older grade-schoolers on up who can handle the fights and ignore the rapping, this is still pretty fun.

Just finished out the pilot episode from the first show, "Turtle Tracks." Lauren goes home tomorrow. I have to go to the Acme and get my schedule before I do anything else.

Monday, June 20, 2016

In the Summertime

I didn't sleep well last night. I got up initially around 5, then tossed and turned for a little while off and on before finally dropping off around 6. I woke up for good around 8:30. Read Honor Among Thieves for a little while, then wrote in my journal while waiting for Lauren's head to pop up from behind the love seat.

We ran Tom & Jerry cartoons as I ate breakfast. Headed out around 10 to catch the 10:37 to Moorestown. I had to stop at WaWa really fast for money, which didn't help. Neither did the heat. It got into the lower 90's here today, though at least it wasn't that humid. We just missed the bus and ended up sitting at the stop on King's Highway for an hour. At least it was covered and in the shade.

The bus finally arrived around 11:45. The traffic was a little busy going through Haddonfield and Cherry Hill, but it wasn't bad. The worst of the road work seems to be done, too. There were no problems getting to Moorestown.

Started at FYE this time. Lauren wanted to exchange a t-shirt she bought for her dad on Friday for a larger size. Neither of us bought anything else there - their selection wasn't any better after the weekend.

Took advantage of the remodeled Food Court to check out their wares. Lauren had a slice of pepperoni from Brooklyn Pizza. I had a beef hot dog with onions, relish, and mustard and a bag of the same kind of skin-on steak fries I got at the Pop Shop last week from Moon Dog Grill...and they were just as good. The bag was so full, I shared them with Lauren.

Wandered around in Boscov's next. I didn't see any socks I could afford. I really need socks right now. Lauren did get a Monopoly-themed card game to play with her folks. The line at the sales desk was long and annoying. She must have been there 10 minutes.

Went outside next to check out the stores across the street. Briefly looked at Dick's for errand-running sneakers (nothing I liked) before heading further down. Too far. Lauren wanted to go to Game Stop, but I hadn't realized how big the East Gate Shopping Center was. It took us 20 minutes of hiking in the heat to get down there. At the very least, the store was a good size, and we did find what we were looking for. I got the first Lego Indiana Jones game, and Lauren picked up her own copy of the second one, along with the Angry Birds Trilogy.

Briefly stopped at Ross Dress For Less on our way back. They're pretty much the same thing as Kohl's and Nordstrom Outlet, a cheap (and dark) place for fancy clothes leftovers. I didn't see anything I wanted. Lauren bought a blouse for work.

We were tired and sweating bullets after our long walk. Made our way back to the Food Court, this time to Rita's Water Ice. Lauren had the brilliant idea to get frozen drinks. She had cherry-lemon. I opted to go more decadent and mixed mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream. Oh yummm. Sweet and minty, with lots of teeny-weeny chips and a few big cookie pieces. It really hit the spot after all the walking we've been doing.

That pretty much ended anything we wanted to do at the Moorestown Mall. We spent our last 20 minutes waiting for the bus. It took a little bit longer this time - we got stuck in rush-hour traffic in Haddonfield and Cherry Hill. We finally made it home around quarter after 6.

Had the last of the leftovers for dinner while watching more Tom & Jerry. After we ate, I hit the shower, then we played more Lego Indiana Jones 2. We finally decided it was time to move on, dodging man-and-plastic-eating ants to finish out the second part of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and move on to the third and final half. Oxley and his Crystal Skull helped us get around the ants in the first round. The second round was another "everyone run everything into each other" vehicle free-for-all, this one with car-boats in the jungle.

Speaking of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I put that on to finish out the Indiana Jones series when we went online. An older (and somewhat wiser) Indy (Harrison Ford) is now after the title object, which may be related to something completely out of this world...and out of his comfort zone. He gets help from Mutt (Shia LaBouf), a motorcycle mechanic and the son of his old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen).

A lot of people were hard on this one when it came out. That was probably over-hype talking. I think this is a lot of fun, and no stranger than any of the other Indy movies. (I'd still begin with one of the 80's movies before coming here, though, especially Raiders.)

We're finishing out the night with the original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. (Lauren and I are both big Turtles fans.) A crime wave is spreading across New committed by thieves who use ninja moves. April O'Neal thinks there's a lot more going on here than the police will admit. She learns she may be right when she's helped out by what turns out to be a quartet of goofy over-sized teen turtles who practice the same kinds of moves. With the help of sports-loving vigilante Casey Jones, April and the quartet learn a bit about teamwork and the importance of family.

Another old favorite of mine. A lot of the references haven't dated well, but I like the mildly dark atmosphere. For older kids and fans of the original 80's/early 90's Turtles, this is well worth your time.

Tomorrow, we're off to the Cherry Hill Mall to spend Lauren's last day here in as much air conditioning as possible.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hot Fun In the (Almost) Summertime

We really slept in today! I wasn't up until around 10. Lauren didn't get going until over an hour later. When we did finally get moving, I made us Silver Dollar Blueberry Pancakes while I ran the first half of my new K-Tel collection. (I'm really happy with how the pancakes came out, too. They cooked perfectly, even with the blueberries. Lauren loved them. I'll have to do them silver dollar-sized more often.)

Had just enough time to dash for the bus to the Market Place after breakfast. It was only slightly late, surprising for a holiday Sunday. The traffic wasn't bad, either, a little iffy in Westmont but otherwise fine. We were in Cherry Hill in less than 20 minutes.

Decided we'd start in the back and work our way to the big box stores. The Barnes and Noble wasn't busy, either. Lauren didn't get anything this time. I found the other Star Wars book I looked at when we were in Moorestown on Friday. The Lando Calarissian Adventures is an anthology of three Lando-centric action tales released in the wake of Return of the Jedi in 1983. I've had the Han anthology since the late 90's, but I've never been able to find the similar one for Lando. Han and Lando have long been my favorite Star Wars characters (along with Leia and Chewbacca). Like Leia, I guess I have a thing for scoundrels. ;)

Lauren was hungry, and lunch wouldn't hurt me, either. Besides, it was nearly 3 by then, past time to eat. I forgot our original choice, Chick Fil' A, is one of the few major chains that closes on Sundays. We ended up at 1,000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, a brand-new pizzeria on the very end of the Market Place, next-door to the Philadelphia Eagles store. They were dead as a doornail when we arrived. I liked the dark, cool brick-and-Formica look they had going. They have a make-your-own pizza option - we did that, opting for a small half-mushroom, half-pepperoni pie with Coke for Lauren and Coke Zero for me. We chatted about Star Wars and geekdom while enjoying our pie. (And our pie was tasty. I loved the soft crust. I must go back there the next time I'm at Market Place.)

After brief looks at Best Buy and Dick's, we strolled over to the Christmas Tree Shop. Normally, I don't have much use for them after the holidays, but they have a surprisingly decent food section. Lauren picked up soda-flavored frozen slush bars for a dollar. I grabbed Bigelow's Vanilla Chai Tea (which was much cheaper there than at the Acme) and 50 muffin cups for a dollar.

The real reason I wanted to go to Market Place was to use at least a few of the many coupons I've been getting for Bed Bath and Beyond. I needed new bath mats rather badly. The rubber on the old ones have been flaking for months. They were surprisingly not all that busy, either. I've seen much longer lines there during the weekdays. I had a hard choice, but I finally picked two very soft polyester plush mats in vanilla and sage. Lauren picked up a few sundries - she's gotten blisters from all the walking. I was hoping they'd have fans, but I didn't see any there, or at Best Buy.

Tired of walking, we finally plopped down on a black metal bench outside of a jewelry store so Lauren could put Band Aids on her blisters. We moved to the grassy meridian to await the 5:45 bus. It was on time, and once again, there were no problems getting home.

I really, really needed a fan. We stopped at Family Dollar on the way back to my place. They had a huge pile of fans in their main window. The first one I picked had a damaged box. The lady at the desk grabbed a newer one. I got that, and we got going.

When we made it home, Lauren called her dad, and I called my stepdad in Cape May County. In good news, Dad-Bill's cancer is in remission, enough that he just came back from his first long fishing trip in months. However, that left him too tired for a long conversation. Mom had just come from her job at the Ferry and was even more tired. She did give him his own wind chimes for Father's Day. He was trying to figure out where to put them when I called.

Lauren chatted with her dad for over an hour! When she finally got off, we ate leftovers for dinner (Lauren finished the tuna salad), then played more Lego Indiana Jones. We went back to the first level and did more bonus rounds, including one that involved flying a plane, and another driving round. (This one, thankfully, in broad daylight on a desert plain.)

When we went online, I put on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It was rather appropriate, given we meet Indy's dad (Sean Connery) here. Indy's in pursuit of the missing Professor Jones, who had finally gotten clues to the location of his long-time obsession, the Holy Grail. Trouble is, the Nazis are on its trail too, including the beautiful Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Janney). Indy and his dad haven't spoken in years, but now they have to work together to elude the Nazis and learn a bit about the nature of bonding...and letting go.

My long-time favorite Indiana Jones movie. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are hilarious as the battling father and son who have more in common than they want to believe.

Finished the night with two episodes of the original late 80's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Lauren is a huge fan.) "Attack of the 50 Foot Irma" has the nerdy receptionist being accidentally hit by Krang's growth ray. Not only is she now knocking over half of New York, but she's on a diet...and has a giant-sized case of the munchies! Donatello has to figure out how to get her back to her right size.

"The Maltese Hamster" is a hilarious spoof of film noir and private eye movies. Donatello narrates the tale of how gangsters used high-tech weapons to overrun the city...weapons provided by Shredder. Shredder is after a small hamster statue that April bought from a junk shop. Now the Turtles have to protect her and figure out why that statue is so important to Shredder.

We were originally going to Atlantic City tomorrow...but Lauren pointed out while we were eating pizza that it's going to be in the 90's again. Not only is it too hot for hiking around on a shade-less boardwalk, but we've both done a lot of walking as it is. We're going to make a return visit to Moorestown instead. She wants to return one of the shirts she bought from FYE, and I want to check out their Dick's and the sock selection at Boscov's. (I forgot to do that on Friday.)

Oh, and Happy Father's Day to all dads, including those whose children are four-legged or feathered (or estranged archaeologists). :)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I'm Doin' Fine Now

Lauren slept so late, it was quarter of 11 before we got going. I ran an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures as I finished breakfast and she got organized. Buster, Babs, and Calamity go "Inside Plucky Duck" to see what makes him tick. Like many boys in the early 90's, one of the things making him tick was Batman - or at least, a spoof, "Batduck" (with Hampton as Robin and Elmyra as Alfred). The second episode had Plucky stuck in a wild take that turns him into a walking eyeball.

We finally got to the Collingswood Farm Market around quarter after 11. Even at that late date, it was still busy as heck. The watermelon I got from Jodie should be ok for fruit, but I needed a few vegetables. Snap peas are finally out. I bought those and a nice little head of organic Romaine lettuce.

I haven't wandered around Collingswood for a while, and it's been even longer since I've done it with Lauren. We ended up at the record store first. Lauren browsed, but she eventually headed out and went a few doors down to a toy shop that specializes in games and educational items. I came up with one of the MGM double soundtracks, this one pairing the 1954 remake of Rose Marie with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and another double-disc K-Tel pop collection.

Lauren and I met for lunch at Sabrina's Cafe around noon. As one of the newest restaurants in eatery-heavy Collingswood, they were packed when we arrived. We ended up getting seats at one of the high island tables in the middle of the room. I had a tuna salad on multigrain bread with sprouts, avocado, and tomato and sweet potato fries dusted with powdered sugar. Lauren had fish tacos. Both were HUGE, overstuffed and delicious. For once, even I couldn't finish my sandwich or my fries.

We browsed around a bit after that. We both hit pay dirt at Frugli Consignment. I found two Lands' End items, khakis for work and shorts. Lauren found a good dress shirt for her dad for Father's Day. I didn't get anything at The Candy Jar. Lauren bought a bag of orange cream hard candies for her dad and a small bag of Dum Dum Lollipops for her. (She says she loves them, but the regular bags are too much for one person.) I bought a discontinued bar of lime-coconut soap at a natural soap seller.

At least it was a beautiful day for a walk, into the mid-80's, sunny and breezy. We enjoyed our hikes to Collingswood and back to my apartment. After playing some more Lego Indiana Jones, we went back out to get our laundry done. They were really busy, but Lauren was down to her last shirt. I washed some things, too, including my summer quilt.

When we got home, I made scrambled eggs with cheese and steamed snap peas. We watched Raiders of the Lost Ark while we ate and Temple of Doom later. The first two tales of Indiana Jones has him searching for the title religious artifact with his former lover Marion Ravenwood. The Nazis dog them at every turn, but in the end, it's history that has the last laugh. Temple of Doom goes more into fantasy as Indy, the Chinese kid he's currently protecting, and a spoiled singer seek the lost stones from an Indian village.

Returned to Lego Indy between movies. We're not getting very far there. We can't figure out where to go next. We got past the driving round with the huge Russian cutter vehicle, but we keep finding bonus rounds before the regular ones.

Tomorrow, we're going to sleep in, then take in the Market Place and say "hi" to my dad for Father's Day.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ramblin' Women

Started off a beautiful, sunny day with Charlie's noisy tools and some Garfield while I ate and Lauren got organized. Garfield In the Rough takes everyone's favorite fat cat on vacation...but he'd rather be doing anything that isn't camping. He learns just how wild the outdoors can be when he finds himself defending Jon and Odie against a black panther! In Garfield In Paradise, their trip to a tropical island gets complicated when they encounter a pack of doo-wop obsessed natives and a volcano that's about to go off.

We headed out around quarter after 11. Stopped at Simply Soups in Audubon for an early lunch. They're on the way to King's Highway, and they're the fastest food you can have that's still cheap and good for you. It was nearly noon by the time we made it there. Several older women were already gathered around tables, talking about the news and their children. We both had a cup of chicken orzo. She had a can of Pepsi. I had a can of Diet Pepsi and an oatmeal cookie.

We picked up the 12:37 to the Moorestown Mall. We were there with plenty of time, which turned out to be a moot point anyway. They were fifteen minutes late. We ran into some traffic on the way there, including road work the bus had to inch around. Other than that, there were no major problems, and only one other person who went all the way to the Mall with us.

Spent the next few hours wandering around the Mall proper. Despite some decent sales, I couldn't find any decent work pants at Boscov's. Lauren did better, picking up two more blouses. She also did better at the tiny FYE. I didn't get anything there; she found a Weird Al Yankowitz figure (she's a big Weird Al fan) and two wrestling t-shirts. I finally found work pants at the Macy's on the end of the Mall. Lauren picked up an outfit for the bank. We both bought Father's Day cards for our dads at Hallmark.

I couldn't leave Moorestown without checking out their enormous Barnes and Noble. It's so big, it still sells CDs and DVDs. Alas, Hamilton wasn't any cheaper there than at FYE. (I'm very likely going to pick that one up on Amazon.) I did find a new journal and the Star Wars Han Solo-centric story Honor Among Thieves. Lauren bought both Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collections.

We had a little bit of time before we needed to pick up the bus home. I was hungry, so we stopped at the small Starbucks booth in the same hall as the Food Court. I love their lemon pound cake. Lauren gave it a shot, too. I had a Mango Black Tea Lemonade. Lauren had a raspberry iced tea.

Picked up the bus at the stop outside of Boscov's. Despite it being quarter of 6 and the tail end of rush hour, it was on time. There were no major problems, not even a lot of traffic. We got off at King's Highway, then hiked home, enjoying the nice breeze and a warm but not humid day. Made a quick stop at Family Dollar for toilet paper on our way.

When we finally got home, we played more Lego Indiana Jones for a while. Unlike Star Wars, they don't tell you where to go right away. You have to find the right arrows...and we found the wrong arrows. We went ahead of what we were supposed to do. Lauren inadvertently found the right place to go. She had Mutt fix something...something that turned out to be a motorcycle. The next round was a riding round. We got to smash into police cars and tear into anything that did or didn't move, even a park and a library! Lauren and I had a great time. Probably the most fun I've had so far with either Lego game.

We didn't have dinner until nearly 9! I tossed together broccoli and the last of the fingerling potatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing - had the chicken legs for protein. Watched Batman Forever while we ate. We were talking about superhero movies earlier, and I told Lauren this was the only Batman movie I ever liked. She's a fan of it, too. Batman (Val Kilmer) had to take on not only Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), but the Ridder (Jim Carrey) and his mind-reading machine. Meanwhile, he adopts Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell) when his family dies in a circus accident and he's watching. Grayson wants revenge on Two-Face, but Bruce Wayne knows revenge is a a dish best not served at all. This is the only Batman movie to truly balance both the camp and the dark elements. Nice cast, too - Kilmer makes a fine Batman, and Carrey gives a career-best performance as the Riddler.

Finished the night with a more stylish superhero movie, The Rocketeer. A barnstorming flyer (Bill Campbell) finds a jet pack and thinks he'll be able to make more money in the show. It turns out the jet pack is an experimental weapon created by Howard Hughes and coveted by the Nazis. He chases a movie star-turned Nazi (Timothy Dalton) who has kidnapped his girlfriend (Jennifer Connolly) to stop an invasion. A personal favorite of mine - retro fun if you like serials or old-fashioned action.

Tomorrow, we're going to hit the Farm Market and explore Collingswood, and Lauren has laundry that needs to be done.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


When I awoke this morning, I heard pouring rain and Charlie's tools, neither of which boded well for the day in general. Thankfully, by the time Lauren and I got going around 10, the rain, at least, was gone. We walked to Collingswood, stopping briefly twice for Lauren to do something on her phone for her dad.

We had an early lunch at Tortilla Press, a gourmet Mexican restaurant in Collingswood. We were so early, we were the first ones there. We both had quesadillas. Lauren's was shrimp and bacon. Mine was mango, brie, chicken, and mango salsa. Mine was excellent, with at ton of melted brie. Lauren adored hers - she ate almost faster than me, for once.

The rain was coming down faster as we made our way to the PATCO Station and picked up a half-full train to Philadelphia. It was a heavy shower when we got off in Philly. Thankfully, Lauren was able to pull up a map on her phone. We only got turned around once before we made it to the FYE on Broad Street.

The FYE on Broad Street, a block from City Hall, is huge. You can get lost in there. I'm trying not to buy too much, but I did get a few things. (I wanted the cast album for Hamilton, but I'm not spending $27 on it. I'll get it online.) They were really busy for them, probably due to the weather. I made my way around people well enough to pick up the 2-disc sets for Lilo & Stitch and the 1985 Legend that I've wanted for a while, and the cast album for the musical Once On This Island. I also picked up the Mel Brooks historical epic spoof History of the World Part I on sale for $5. (Island, incidentally, was the freebie.) Lauren bought wrestling sets.

It was an almost literal hop, skip, and a jump from FYE across the street to Macy's. They were only a little less busy. Lauren wanted to look at blouses for her job as a head teller at a bank. (The Macy's at her local mall recently shut down.) I didn't see anything. Macy's was having great sales, but their plus size selection was really picked over. Lauren did get two colorful blouses with ruffled sleeves for work.

It was around 3:30 when we made our way back to the PATCO station on 12th Street. Thankfully, by this point, the rain was long gone...and this time, it wasn't coming back. It was just humid, cool, and cloudy when we got off at Collingswood.

We ended up at The Pop Shop for a snack. Lauren had a cherry soda float and the Newton grilled cheese sandwich (cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bacon). I had a coconut shake and half of a basket of Pop Fries (basic thick steak fries with their skins and sea salt). It was around 4 PM. We just missed the lunch crowd. There were a couple of college kids and two families, but it wasn't nearly as busy as it usually is in there.

(I found out on the way home what Lauren was doing for her dad earlier. Her parents had just bought a new car. Mr. Miller wanted Lauren to compare prices online for him.)

We played a couple of video games when we finally got home. Got through Hot Land (the fire/desert world) in Kirby's Epic Yarn, then moved on to Lego Indiana Jones. The second round of Indy introduced Mutt in a rather hilarious brawl, then returned to puzzles as we tried to figure out how to get through a warehouse.

Had leftover tuna bean salad for dinner, then spent the rest of the night online and watching comedies. History of the World Part I is one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies. It's an anthology of historical spoofs, ranging from the Dawn of Man (with Sid Caesar as a caveman) to the Roman Empire (Brooks is a stand-up philosopher who gets into a lot of trouble with the Emperor), to a musical Spanish Inquisition (ever wanted to see Torquemada sing?), ending with the French Revolution (which turns into a Prince and the Pauper story as Brooks plays the man who is passed off as the a decoy for the king). Of the longer segments, my favorite is the French Revolution - some of the lines are hilarious, including Brooks' famous "It's good to be the king." The Spanish Inquisition musical number is the best of the shorts.

Lauren's favorite Mel Brooks movie is Robin Hood: Men In Tights, which also spoofs historical epics. In this case, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the huge, dark swashbuckler epics of the early and mid-90's get the raspberry. Cary Elwes is the title character, fighting for love, liberty, and laughs in a fairy tale medieval England. I love Blinkin, the blind servant who can somehow still manage to saw the heck out of a wooden post.

Stayed with comedy, but moved to the early 80's for the original National Lampoon's Vacation. Clark Grizwauld (Chevy Chase) just wants a fun, old-fashioned, cross-country vacation to Wally World. As usual, what he gets is a dose of reality - everything costs more than he planned, his hillbilly cousins try to sponge money off of him, a cranky old aunt (Imogene Coca) hitches a ride to Phoenix, and his wife (Beverly DiAngelo) is about ready to kill him. While some of the darker gags (like the one with the dog) haven't aged well, most of this movie still remains pretty funny, especially what ultimately happens to that cranky aunt.

Tomorrow, we're going to make our first of two mall trips, this one to Moorestown, with a stop in Audubon for an early lunch at Simply Soups.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

We Weren't Born to Follow

Though I was hoping to sleep in, I got up earlier than Lauren did, around 8. I read The Secret Garden and wrote in my journal, then fiddled around online until I started to hear Charlie running tools and cursing his brains out downstairs. That finally got Lauren out of bed.

I had breakfast while Lauren got organized. Ran a vacation-themed episode of Tiny Toon Adventures while I cleaned up my dishes. "Around Europe In 30 Minutes" has Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hampton on a very rushed tour around Europe. Things pick up in England, where the rabbits run into a plot to kidnap the royals and Hampton and Plucky almost end up on Buckingham Palace's dinner menu.

Lauren and I were out of the house by 10:30. It was a gorgeous day for it, sunny and windy, if warmer and a little more humid than yesterday. Our first stop was the House of Fun. They were the same happy, messy jumble of toys and pop culture debris as ever. We didn't make any finds there, though.

Next, we trekked across the White Horse Pike, over the train bridge, and into Audubon to visit Bob at Abbie Road. We were there for about a half-hour, looking over his 2-dollar used CD's and chatting about work and the Red Sox. Lauren mostly bought jazz, country, and Dixieland. I bought:

Billy Joel - An Innocent Man (cassette replacement)

Bon Jovi - Greatest Hits

Those Malt Shop Memories: Save the Last Dance For Me (Time-Life collection of 50's and 60's rock and pop.)

We were both hungry (Lauren doesn't eat breakfast - she says she doesn't get hungry in the morning) and it was getting much hotter. It was time for lunch. We headed down Nicholson Road and past churches and WalMart to eat at Sonic. Despite the heat, there was a nice breeze that felt good as we sat down at the patio. They were really busy, too. There were a lot of other families and workers from the shopping center enjoying an outdoor meal. We both had the Deluxe Chicken Club. Lauren had the onion rings and cranberry limeade. I had the tater tots and cherry limeade. We enjoyed our meal while Lauren texted her parents about it. (They wanted to order chili dogs. ;) )

Hit Game Stop next. Lauren didn't get anything, but I found Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues. I wanted at least one of the Lego Indiana Jones games after I really enjoyed Lego Star Wars. I also grabbed Super Mario All-Stars, the port of the much-loved Super Nintendo collection of the first three Mario games, plus "The Lost Levels" (aka the original Super Mario 2 in Japan).

Made a brief stop at the Acme to use the bathroom and pick up drinks. Lauren bought Canada Dry Green Tea Soda. I grabbed parchment paper (I've forgotten it for weeks), skim milk, and a bottle of Acme's generic Apple Cider sparkling water for 39 cents on clearance. Got some money to last me until Friday, too. And no wonder I got the whole week off. They were dead as a tomb when we went in there.

It was hot and getting hotter, and a little more humid. Time to head home. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing video games. Started Super Mario 3 on All-Stars when we got in. That didn't last long. We got through the first world, barely. Lauren did most of it. We both kept dying. After that, we started Kirby's Epic Yarn over, running through the first world in that game.

Lego Indiana Jones was a bit more complicated. Like Star Wars and most Lego games, you have to solve puzzles and build objects to get through the game. Unlike Star Wars, a lot of the puzzles involve aiming and shooting something, usually Indy's whip. The shooting isn't always obvious, and it took us a while to figure things out. (Especially the last level, where you have to yank the guy off the fire-spitting vehicle and let the fire hit him. It took us forever to figure that out. Lauren had to look up the solution on her phone.)

I put on The Outlaws Is Coming while making Tuscan Tuna Bean Salad for our dinner and then while taking a shower. The buffalo are dying, and the Indians are on the warpath. A reporter (Adam West) and his photographers (the 60's Three Stooges) are sent out West to find out how to save the buffalo. While West deals with Annie Oakley, the Stooges try to stop the gang of legendary outlaws (including Belle Starr, played by legendary Philly kid's show host Sally Starr) who are hunting down the buffalo to start a war between the settlers and the Indians.

We did something called Legends House while getting organized after dinner. Evidently, this was a reality show that had beloved wrestlers of the 80's and 90's spending a week in a house together. Lauren is a huge fan of some of those legends, especially Roddy "Rowdy" Piper.

Moved onto the Star Wars series after Legends House ended. Did The Empire Strikes Back first. And boy, do they ever! While Han and Leia are pursued by Darth Vader and the Empire (and fall deeply in love), Luke travels to swampy Dagobah to learn about the Force from the frog-like Jedi Master Yoda. Vader, however, is really after Luke. He uses Han and Leia to trap the knight-in-training, then deliver a whopper of a revelation...

We're finishing out the Star Wars series with Return of the Jedi.  Luke and the others head back to the desert to rescue Han from the nasty slug gangster Jabba the Hutt. Even after they get out of that, there's still Vader and the Emperor to contend with, not to mention a new Death Star. It's currently on Vader bringing Luke to Palapatine and Luke trying to talk Vader into admitting he still has feelings in that armor somewhere.

Empire has been my favorite movie since the late 80's. Return isn't quite at the same level, but it's not bad (and is certainly better than the prequels). You really can't go wrong with the Original Trilogy. There's at least 500 versions of these floating around, thanks to creator George Lucas' constant tinkering. Pick your favorite and have fun.

Tomorrow, we're going to head into Philly to check out the stores downtown, including the big Macy's and FYE.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Last Train to Cherry Hill

Began another sunny, beautiful day with breakfast and cartoons. Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City was the second of the original Strawberry specials. Strawberry is on her way to the largest city in Strawberryland as a finalist in the Big Bake Off. Unfortunately, the Peculiar Purple Pie Man is the other finalist, and he'll do anything to stop Strawberry from winning! She's able to befriend the Bohemian artists in Spinach Village, including series regulars Orange Blossom and Lemon Meringue, who lend a hand.

Spent the rest of the morning doing the last work on my fanfic I'll get to for over a week. Leia arrives at the apartment she and Luke share to find it torn to shreds. Someone came looking for something...and Leia discovers what when she picks up an envelope from her godfather in hers and Luke's mail slot. She wants Artie, her godparents' driver, to take her to their house so she can search her godfather's desk for more clues. She swears she's being followed, by a man in a green and gray suit who was at Vader's party...

Broke for lunch around noon. I quickly ate a peach and two blueberry muffins while watching an episode of The Backyardigans. Pablo is "Le Master of Disguise." He can appear as anybody, from a cowboy to a conductor. Inspector Austin is on his trail. He follows him to the Orient Express...but with shady characters like Cowboy Tyrone, Conductor Uniqua, and Acrobat Tasha onboard, it's not going to be easy to track down the crafty penguin!

Headed out around 12:30 for an errand run, starting with a quick volunteering session at the Oaklyn Library. They were surprisingly busy for a gorgeous day, with a young woman sprawled in in colorful beanbag chairs reading and several people on the computers. I stuck to organizing the DVDs.

Went straight to Haddonfield for counseling after leaving the library. I got there early, so Mrs. Stahl and I started early. I didn't have that much to report. I told her about Lauren coming later, my feelings on my current job. that both of my fathers are doing much better, and all the cleaning and writing I've been doing. I'm still getting used to the idea that yes, there might be people out there who like the same things I do, even if they aren't nearby. I know a lot of people are used to fandom and having other people like the same things you do, but...I've been burned so much, it's kind of hard for me.

Stopped at Primo's Water Ice on the way home for a treat. I had a small Chocolate Covered Marshmallow. They were quiet for late afternoon. I did hear someone playing games in "The Ice Box" (their back room with the video games), but there was no line. It was pretty good - not as chocolate-y as Cabana's version, but it had actual mini-marshmallows. Also jumped into the CVS in Westmont fast for dish washing liquid (the small Palmolive was on sale) and more money for the week.

It was an absolutely glorious day for a long bike ride. I came home via Newton Lake Park again, went through there both times. There were a lot of people out and about, walking or fishing or just enjoying the day. I couldn't blame them. The digital sign at the Westmont Fire House said it was 79 today. There was a nice wind that kept it from feeling too hot, and it was wonderfully dry, no humidity at all.

When I got home, I finished out "Le Master of Disguise," then watched One Crazy Summer while making poached chicken legs in lemon wine sauce with fingerling potatoes and steamed broccoli for dinner. Hoops McCaan (John Cusack) goes to Nantucket with his best friend to learn about life and love for his art assignment to get into college. He falls for a young singer (Demi Moore) whose grandfather's summer home is targeted by a nasty seafood restaurant owner who wants to demolish it for a development. After the bank forecloses, the group opts to join the Nantucket Regatta and win it to exchange the trophy for the house. Hoops is afraid of the water and thinks he can't handle being on a boat...but he and his friends have a lot to learn about love, leadership, and teamwork. Strange but enjoyable "slobs vs snobs" 80's comedy.

Switched to Recess: School's Out while making Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes as a surprise for Lauren. The kids of Third Street School are all on their way to camp for the summer...except for a bored T.J Dekwiller. In his attempt to find something interesting to do, T.J stumbles head-long into a plot to end summer vacation forever! Unique ode to time off is fun for fans of Recess, 90's animation, or the music of the late 60's (which figures into the plot).

Recess ended just as I was heading downstairs for Dad to pick me up. There was a little bit of traffic on Cuthbert Road, but otherwise, we had no trouble getting to Cherry Hill to pick up Lauren. Other than being 15 minutes late into New York, she'd encountered no trouble on the road, either.

When we got back to my place, I showed her the few changes at my apartment since last year (especially to the bathroom) and she called her parents to let them know she was here. We were going to go for a walk, but we decided we weren't up to it. We tried to play Lego Star Wars. Her nuchucks gave her so much trouble, we gave up and switched to Pac Man Party. We played the shortest round, the Celebration Board. She won, but just barely - she got the last castles and beat the huge teddy bear robot with the Wolverine claws.

I put on the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, as we tried to get her set up on the internet. (It took a while, but she's on there now.) Desert farmer Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is bored with his life and would give anything for some adventure. He gets a lot more action than he bargained for when his family buys a droid with a message from a beautiful princess (Carrie Fisher) who was kidnapped by the evil Empire. With the help of mysterious Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and tough smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke goes to the fearsome Death Star to rescue the princess, then joins the Rebels to eliminate the planet-destroying weapon.

Not my favorite Star Wars movie, but probably the most iconic. My favorite part by far is Princess Leia's hilarious rescue. It's so much faster and funnier than the rest of the movie. The movie pretty much ends for me after they get off the Falcon at Yavin IV - the trench run doesn't do much for me. Still recommended as the one that started the franchise, and probably the movie most people still think of when they think of Star Wars.

Lauren spent the whole day traveling (and had to get up early to do so), and I did a lot of running around. We're heading to bed and are going to sleep in. We only have a walk in Oaklyn and Audubon planned for tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Day Before Vacation

I couldn't believe how beautiful it was when I got up this morning. It was still windy and dry, but the wind was far cooler, and it wasn't as hot. I watched an episode of The Backyardigans while eating breakfast. Uniqua and Tasha run "Chichen Itza Pizza," the first (and probably only) pizza parlor in the ancient Central American jungles. King Tyrone calls and says he wants a pie, quick...but Uniqua's so called "shortcut" proves to be more trouble than it's worth. Tasha thinks her friend is crazy, especially since the trip is aggravating her fear of heights...

Hit the laundromat around 11:30. For the first time in two weeks, I didn't have a huge load. I was just washing the placemats in the living room, work clothes, the dust cloths, and whatever I wore this week. It wasn't busy, either. I was in and out in less than an hour. (I probably could have waited until Lauren arrived, but I at least wanted to get my work clothes out of the way.)

As soon as I finished putting my clothes away, I went right back out to run errands. First stop of the day was Phillies Phatties on West Clinton for my own slices of cheese and mushroom pizza and a can of Mountain Dew Pitch Black. It was so nice, I ate my lunch outside at the picnic tables on the sidewalk, enjoying the wind and listening to two women from the beauty shop down the block chatter.

After hitting Dollar Tree fast for sponges, I headed to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session there. I was mainly there to return DVDs and books. They weren't busy, and given the gorgeous weather, I didn't think they would be. I organized the kids' DVDs and shelved new releases. There were no CDs or audio books to put away, and not even that many adult titles.

Lauren mainly drinks iced tea and soda. I just made iced tea not long ago, but I don't drink soda myself. I stopped at the Westmont Acme to pick up a six-pack of Pepsi bottles (with the cute emoticon theme) for her. Also grabbed bananas and a bag of Acme generic organic blue corn chips (I love blue corn chips, but they're so expensive) and said "hi" to Angie, a manager who used to work at the Audubon Acme, but got transferred and now works in Westmont.

Cut through Newton Lake Park heading home. It was hotter and slightly more humid by that point, but still not horrible for mid-June. I'm surprised the park wasn't busier. I saw some bike riders, a couple of people out for a stroll, one sunbather, and some families on the playground. The park is really beautiful now. The trees are at their full maturity, big and deep-green. While algae is starting to creep in, most of the water still sparkles.

Stopped briefly at Dad and Jodie's on the way home. I wanted to say "hi" and remind them about Lauren visiting tomorrow. They were both on their laptops when I arrived, watching The History Channel. Dad's just happy his cancer is in remission and he won't need chemotherapy for two months. I got to watch him water his and clip his plants. I asked them what they're doing for Father's Day. Jodie will be at her dad's, but Dad invited my stepsister Jessa, her boyfriend Joe, and Joe's kids over. I may swing by with Lauren, if just briefly. We'll see what happens.

When I got in, I spent the next few hours working on my story. I'm still re-writing. Bail Organa sent Leia a package from Guatemala the day before he died. Leia doesn't pay attention at first...until she talks to Tarkin and realizes how badly the Empire wanted the Swords of the Guardians and Bail's research. She hurries home, driven by the Organa family's long-time chauffeur, Artie.

When I got off, I watched Romancing the Stone while eating leftovers for dinner, and later while making Blueberry Crumble Bars from The Cake Doctor cookbook. A timid romance writer finds herself flung head-first into a plot out of one of her own novels when her sister sends her a map from Columbia, and is then kidnapped. She joins forces with a cynical mercenary to rescue her sister and find out where the map leads to. Another childhood favorite of mine, this is still a lot of fun to watch today, especially if you're fond of action/romance tales or strong female characters.

Oh, and the Blueberry Crumble Bars came out well, gooey and very berry-tasting. I'm glad I didn't use the originally called for two sticks of butter - one was more than enough!

Lauren will be coming in late tomorrow at 7:40. Meanwhile, I've got a lot to do, including writing and heading up to Haddonfield for counseling.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Windy Dolls

I was so happy to begin a beautiful day quietly, reading The Secret Garden and writing in my journal. I made Peaches and Cream Pancakes for breakfast with a peach that was going bad while listening to the soundtrack from The Muppet Movie. I'm really happy with how the pancakes came out. They the batter was thin (I think I overdid the milk), but they cooked perfectly.

After I ate, I finally got around to changing the American Girl dolls. I've been meaning to do it for weeks and just haven't gotten around to it. Jessa wears the Rainbow Romper from Julie's friend Ivy's collection and the purple jelly sandals that go with the 90's Birthday Outfit. Sam is in (Rebecca's) Lace Dress with the matching shoes and the cute straw hat with the pink and white striped ribbon and the flower from her Hair Styling Set. Josefina's sporting one of her loveliest limited edition sets, the Weaving Outfit with her tan moccasins, rebozo, and purse. Molly's in a hand-made version of her extremely hard-to-find Victory Garden Dress I found on eBay. Went with (Kit's) Yellow Floral Dress for Whitney, with the yellow t-strap shoes from her Scooter Dress and the knee-high socks from her School Outfit. Finally changed Felicity in a blue-and-white floral dress I found at a booth at the Hamilton Mall five or six years ago.

Spent most of the rest of the afternoon working on my story. I'm pretty much totally re-writing the opening. Dr. Bail Organya was murdered in Guatemala while searching for the Swords of the Guardians that once belonged to the rulers of an ancient Central American kingdom. Newly-minted archaeologist Leia Skylark and her boss Dr. Marta Mothma think he was onto something big, but both his find and his research disappeared after his death. General Pietr Tarkin turned up with one of the Swords shortly after. Neither woman believe this to be coincidence...especially after Leia learns that her father sent her the research before Tarkin and Derek Vader, the head of Dark Star Industries, could get their hands on it.

I broke for lunch and to run errands around 2. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a walk to Family Dollar. It was hot, probably into the upper 80's, and the wind that whistled through the trees was quite warm. A lack of humidity made the temperatures far more tolerable, and the wind really rather felt nice. It's gorgeous in the neighborhood now. The leaves on the trees are at their full maturity. Roses and tiger lilies brighten every garden.

Family Dollar was, surprisingly, kind of busy when I arrived. I bought what I was there for - duct tape. I've been meaning to pick it up for ages, but either they didn't have it, or I'd forget it. Also bought ground cinnamon (I forgot to get it at the Acme yesterday).

Returned to writing after I got in. I finally got up for a stretch, a chicken salad dinner, and to play more video games. Both the "Battle of Kashyaak" and "Jedi Temple" levels in Lego Star Wars were hard. I still can't master that damn Jedi double jump! It made hopping from platform to platform in the Jedi Archives a pain. I hope I have more luck with Anakin and Obi-Wan's big duel in the next round.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

One Day More

Though I had an early work shift today, I left a bit before I usually do in order to take in at least a little of Oaklyn's Town-Wide Yard Sale. Oaklyn's residents, besides me, are mainly families and elderly couples living near their grown children. I mostly saw recent toys and knick-knacks. I did make one really cool find on the end of Kendall Boulevard, near the ramp. Among more recent toys, I spotted a large, pale-blue stuffed pony with pink embroidered bows on her side and a long pink mane and tail. An older tag on her rear that said "Hasbro Softies," similar to the one my Wuzzle Hoppo has, confirmed her as a vintage stuffed My Little Pony. I figured she was probably Bow Tie, given her embroidered cutie marks. I don't normally collect My Little Pony, but she's in surprisingly good shape for a 30-year-old stuffed horse, still very soft and huggable.

(I did some research online tonight, and I discovered that yes, she is Bow Tie, one of the stuffed versions of the vinyl Pony toys Hasbro released in the early 80's. Mine is the first one on this page - My Little Pony Plushes.)

Work was mildly steady in the morning, otherwise not all that busy. Not only is there a lot going on this weekend - barbecues and graduation celebrations in addition to Oaklyn's Town-Wide Yard Sale - but a lot of people may have run down to the Shore. I did round up carts; spent a little time in the registers and trying to mop up the melting freezers, too. I mostly spent the day doing what very few returns there were...which means I spent a lot of the day wandering around the store, hoping that I looked like I was doing something. I was very happy when I finished my shift and could hurry home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon working on my story. Bored at the party, Leia admires her host's collection of South and Central American antiquities. Tarkin comes in to tell her about them...and the room automatically gets ten degrees cooler. Tarkin is a skeletal fascist whose smile would chill Death Valley in July. Leia doesn't like how condescending he is to her, or how he talks about how the Empire will use the artifacts to rule the world and how it's inevitable.

A lot of this is going to get re-written. Here, Bail Organa (Leia's adopted dad in the actual series) is Leia and Luke's godfather. He and his wife paid for their education and encouraged their career pursuits, especially Bail. Originally, it was his idea to go to Tarkin's party. I'm going to change that to he was killed a few months before, and his research on the Swords of Light went missing...and has recently been found in Tarkin's custody.

I broke around 6:30 to have the last of the leftover asparagus and meatloaf muffins for dinner. Watched Hey There, It's Yogi Bear while I ate. After stealing one too many picnic baskets, Ranger Smith decides to send Yogi off to the San Diego Zoo. Yogi tricks his way into staying, but Cindy Bear heard and got herself sent away. Yogi and Boo Boo go after her. They find her a prisoner in a small-time circus. After they get away, they still have to make it cross-country, past sheriffs with guns and through the Big City before they can finally get Ranger Smith's attention and get home. Cute feature-length road trip tale is fun for fans of Yogi, the Hanna Barbara funny animal cartoons of the 60's and 70's, or young kids who'll enjoy the animals' antics.

Finished out the night with a bath. Ahhh, that felt good, especially on my poor sore feet. I read Strippers, Sharks, and Showgirls and kicked back, enjoying the quiet. was my last day of work for over a week and a half. Tomorrow and Monday are regular days off. My vacation technically starts Tuesday, the day Lauren arrives. I don't really have any major plans for tomorrow, besides writing and chores at home. Monday will just be a regular day off - I'll do my laundry and hit the Haddon Township Library. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Getting Ready for Vacation

Began a gorgeous morning with breakfast. Finished out Working Girl, which I started last night, as I ate. Tess (Melanie Griffith) is a secretary who just landed her dream job working with a strong female executive (Sigorney Weaver). The dream turns into a disaster when it turns out the woman stole her idea for rescuing a company from a foreign takeover. Tired of being trampled on, Tess takes over her house, her wardrobe, and her office when she's laid low after a skiing accident. She does everything she can to make this deal her own, including falling for the handsome businessman helping her out (Harrison Ford). But as the deal continues, Tess begins to wonder if her ambitions may mean leaving old friends behind, including her best friend Cyn (Joan Cusack) and her ex-boyfriend (Alec Baldwin).

I'm not normally a big romantic comedy fan, but I will occasionally try the genre if I really love the cast or the premise, as with this one and Moonstruck. Griffith isn't bad as the ambitious secretary, but it's the supporting cast that really shines - Ford gets to show off his all-too-rare comedic chops, and Cusack gained an Oscar nod as Tess' (mostly) supportive best buddy. Despite the R rating and some sex, this is frankly fine for most young adults onwards who love romantic comedies or a good Cinderella story.

Spent most of the morning making my bed and dusting my bedroom. In fact, I made my bed so I could have a place to put all the dolls and books that are jammed into my bedroom while I dust. There's two big reasons I don't dust under everything more often. One is it takes forever. It took me nearly two and a half hours to finish off dusting under everything I could - dolls, books, collectible bears, the Star Wars action figures, my printer, my laptop, folders, comics, all the books and jars on my desk.

(Second is it drives my nose crazy. I've been sneezing all day.)

It was past 2 PM when I finally finished. I went to Arby's first for lunch. They were quiet, not a surprise for so late in the day. I had the same turkey gyro I had the last time I was there, once again enjoying it while watching the traffic on the Black Horse Pike.

Hit the Acme next to get my schedule and groceries. My schedule next week my surprise, no schedule. I'm off Sunday and Monday, and then Lauren will be coming down Tuesday. On one hand, this means I won't have to rush the things I have planned for before Lauren's arrival, including changing the AG dolls and hitting the libraries. On the other hand, it also means I won't be getting a paycheck the week after next, which isn't good.

I didn't have a huge grocery order, but I did need some things that were expensive, especially at this time of year. I won't be getting to the Farm Market tomorrow, so I picked up Romaine lettuce for Lauren and I to have for dinner next week, along with peaches and blueberries. Found a decent Oral B toothbrush on clearance. All the meat was buy one-get one, and I only needed one. I went with ground chicken, despite the price. Restocked sugar, canned tomato sauce, floss, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, canned chicken, honey, and jam. Grabbed Strawberry Shortcake Graham Cracker Fish for a snack.

Stopped at Marburn Curtains on the way home. I'll pick up bath mats next week, but I did decide I wanted to buy a new mat for the front door today. It has three steaming mugs against a black background. I think I picked one that was too small. Next time, I'll look for something larger.

When I got home, I put everything away, then went into writing. Leia's bored out of her mind at that party. She tries to figure out who Derek Vader really is. He's a man of mystery whose heavily scarred face hides any real emotion. It's said he has a man he's working with at Dark Star Industries who was his supporter and patron, but no one knows whom.

I got off around quarter of 6. I first took down the spring decorations and put up what little I have for summer, which isn't much. (I won't be putting up the patriotic-themed decorations until after Lauren visits.) When I finished, I made a quick meal of scrambled eggs with asparagus and dried mushrooms for dinner.

Ran a genuine serial as I worked for inspiration for my current story. Though Federal Agents Vs. Underworld Inc. came out a decade after my story's set, it has a few things in common with it. Namely, I decided I wanted a female villain to go with my male the repugnant crime lord is now Jasmine Hutt, a nasty, ugly woman who definitely does not like her deliveries to be late...especially ones made by good-looking pilots-for-hire. There's also a stolen, possibly magical MacGuffin, in this case a pair of golden hands that can give the owners enormous power.