Friday, September 30, 2016

Rainy Day Harvest

It was pouring outside when I got up this morning. Though the rain had slowed down by breakfast, I thought it was still a good morning for some mildly spooky Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater shorts. "The Phantom of the Theater" has cut the ropes to the stage curtain and stolen My Melody's teddy bear and Catnip's candy stash. The group searches the theater to find the culprit behind the spooky goings-on. Catnip's not happy that she's playing "Frankencat," a mad scientist who creates a none-too-bright robot (Grinder) that befriends My Melody. She prefers being the more glamorous "Catula," a milk-drinking vampire who has sucked all the dairy products out of Catsylvania. Hello Kitty and her friends are called to investigate. Sam the Penguin is "The Pawed Piper," whom Mayor Catnip has hired to lure all the fleas out out of town. When she won't pay, Sam takes his own kind of revenge.

It was showering lightly when I got to work, and continued to do so for most of the day. It wasn't too bad when I got in. In fact, it had been so dead this morning, the early bagger was able to do what few returns there were when she arrived. I spent most of the day bagging, rounding up carts and baskets, or cleaning the bathroom. I really wish people would tell me where the cleaning supplies are...or better yet, keep them in one place. It took me ten minutes just to find a bucket and a scrub sponge. I got stuck in the register a couple of times, too.

My schedule this week is pretty much the same as last week. I do have later hours on Sunday, with Friday off instead of Saturday. Other than more hours would have been nice, that's fine. I just paid my rent today. I have no money. I was going to concentrate fully on writing, cleaning, and getting the winter clothes out this week.

Good thing I didn't need much, even if I had the money for it. I really was out of brown sugar, skim milk, canned pineapple, cheddar cheese, and cereal. (The Acme/Safeway generic brand cereals are still really cheap. Went with shredded wheat this time.The generic brown sugar was on sale, too.) Couldn't resist my first Russel Stover's Coconut Nest of the season as a treat. Their tasty milk chocolate coconut patty is only seen during the holidays, as the "Coconut Nest" for Halloween and Easter and the "Coconut Wreath" at Christmas.

Headed home, put everything away, then went on the computer to do some writing. The bear remains with Luke, Leia, and Obi-Wan for the rest of the winter. He goes out during the day to hunt and stretch his legs, then comes home and spends the evening with them. The twins are disappointed when spring comes and he insists on leaving. He has to defend his treasure from the evil sorcerer who lives in the woods.

A few weeks later, Leia is gathering firewood when she finds an elderly man with wavy white hair whose cape is stuck in the crevice of a log. He's mad as a hornet, insulting Leia and demanding she help. Leia's no sweet, innocent little child and gives him rudeness back before finally using a knife to cut his cape free. He calls her stupid, grabs a bag of gold, and takes off. Leia's angry, but thinks no more of it.

Broke around 6 for dinner and a walk. The rain was down to just dampness and clouds by then, just in time for Oaklyn's Final Friday Food and Farm Festival. I'm glad they didn't cancel. This is the last one of the year. This time, it was just food trucks, one farm stand, and the lady with the chickens. (Studio LuLoo moved their activities indoors.) I did buy some greens from the farmers. Even with the weather and the reduced selection, it was still really busy. Opted for a cheaper panzerotti and can of Diet Coke in Phillies Phatties than the one sold at one of the trucks.

(And I really hope they continue these next year. Maybe they could even start in May instead of June and extend it all the way down the next block to the Oaklyn School. I had a lot of fun, and considering the massive crowds on all four days, I'm not the only one.)

Finished the night at home with a green salad and some Bowery Boys. Slip inadvertently lands himself and the guys in a Smuggler's Cove when he thinks he's inherited a big old mansion on Long Island. Turns out the mansion's a hide-out for international jewel thieves who are bringing both gems and refugees in. The boys end up needing help from the mansion's real owner, a harried businessman, and their detective buddy Gabe to get them out of this pickle!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Good Day For a Mystery

It was showering lightly when I headed to work around 9. The weather may have been the main reason we were dead all day. I rounded up carts once, early on, and it took me less than a half-hour. Spent the rest of the day either doing returns or cleaning up leaks. Actually, the leaks around the freezers weren't that bad. The problem this time was in the back. The roof over the storage area is also very leaky. The drips were flooding the small hall where the lockers are...the one that leads to the back office and lounge area that everyone walks through. I had to vacuum that and get one of the big item totes to use to catch drips.

There was a reason for those leaks. When I got out of work at 1, while not pouring, it was raining a lot harder. There was no way around it. I just rode home and got a bit wet.

As soon as I got in, I changed and had a quick lunch. Ran a Garfield special while I ate. I thought the film noir spoof Babes and Bullets was rather appropriate, given the weather. Garfield imagines that he's hard-boiled detective Sam Spayed, who has to find out who murdered the college professor husband of a mysterious dame. I like this one - a funny outing with a surprisingly believable mystery for a satire.

Rain or no rain, I had DVDs that needed to go back. I headed out around quarter after 2. Took Newton River Park to Haddon Township. Needless to say on such a messy afternoon, they were dead. I saw a group of teens huddled in the stone barbecue hut and a couple of kids going home from school on bikes. Otherwise, it was me and the roaring wind.

The Haddon Township Library was even quieter than the Acme had been. There really wasn't much for me to do. I shelved kids' DVDs - couldn't fit the Ls in - and did audio books. There weren't any new releases to put away, and a sign said the other DVDs weren't to be shelved. I was in and out in a half-hour.

Stopped at WaWa on the way home. My head was still clogged, and I really wasn't up to any kind of cooking. I opted to use the $2.99 Shorti hoagie and free Reeces Peanut Butter Cups coupons instead. I was very happy to see that the Gobbler (turkey/cranberries/stuffing hoagie) was back in WaWa's rotation. I miss that when it isn't fall.

Hitting WaWa today may not have been the brightest idea I ever had. Besides the fact that the kids were out of school by then and parents were buying them treats, today was National Coffee Day. WaWa does free coffee any size on National Coffee Day. I don't drink coffee, but I'm in the minority, from the mob gathered around the hot drinks island.

When I got home, I went right on the computer. Luke and Leia attend to the bear, dressing his wounds. Obi-Wan comments that his wounds are burns - electrical burns, not exactly a common sight in the middle of the woods. When the bear awakens, Luke and Leia stroke him and play with him to make him feel better. They convince him to stay for the winter.

Ran Murder By Death while eating my Gobbler and a slice of (burnt) cranberry-apple bread for dinner. Five of the world's greatest detectives have been invited to the home of Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) to solve a murder. Twain has a lot more twists and turns than it seems under his hat, including the hi-jinks of a blind butler (Alec Guinness) and a deaf-mute maid (Nancy Walker) who can't seem to get dinner together. When people start turning up murdered, the detectives have a chance to show their stuff. But who really was murdered...or was anyone murdered?

Neil Simon wrote this all-star tribute to the twisty mystery novels of the mid-20th-century. Everyone's having a ball in their roles - I especially love David Niven and Maggie Smith as the Nick and Nora Charles expys. Elsa Lancaster's fun as the Miss Marple old lady detective, too. Peter Faulk was so well-received as the (not-so) hard-boiled dick, he'd do a whole move revolving around hard-boiled cliches a year or two later, The Cheap Detective.

If you're a fan of the real-life characters who inspired this movie, all-star comedies, or other twisty all-star mysteries like Clue and Radioland Murders, you'll probably get just as much of a kick out of this as I do.

And...ugh. Now I am sick. I registered a slight temperature tonight. We'll see how I feel tomorrow morning. I really can't afford to call out of work. I'll probably just take cold medicine or something and go.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Miss Redmer and the Blustery Day

It was gloomy and gray when I got up this morning. Ran the first mildly horror-themed special of the year to brighten things a bit. I picked up a DVD with a couple of relatively spooky episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh on eBay a few years ago. "A Knight to Remember" sends Tigger, Rabbit, Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore to the attic to find something to do on an equally damp day. They want to play chess, but can't find all the pieces. Pooh suggests they dress as the missing pieces...which scares poor Piglet silly, since he's the night. He ends up daydreaming that he's a real knight who is supposed to fight a "fearsome" dragon.

"Rock-A-Bye Piglet" also involves Piglet and his many fears. He has a nasty nightmare about all of his friends vanishing. Now he thinks if he goes to sleep, his dream will come true, and he'll be alone. The others try various things, including pretending he's asleep, to get him to realize that dreams are just in our head, and are nothing to be afraid of.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on writing. Since my previous short Star Wars genre spoof was so well received, I'm taking time out for another one. One of my favorite fairy tales when I was little was Snow White & Rose Red. Rose and I used to beg Mom endlessly to read us that. It's a story about sisters and a bear, and one of them is even a tomboy named Rose! It was made for us. I have seen a Force Awakens version on Archive of Our Own that was very sweet, but I thought I'd try something with the Original Trilogy cast.

Luke White and Leia Red are twins who live with their guardian Obi-Wan in a cottage deep in the woods. One winter day, they're out gathering nuts when a handsome man in blue rides over to them. Prince Lando reveals that his kingdom was attacked by an evil sorcerer who stole their treasury. His adopted younger brother Han disappeared while defending them. Luke and Leia have no idea where the missing prince is. Lando doesn't mind flirting with them. Luke blushes. Leia ignores him and asks him where the prince was last seen.

The two just make it home on the heels of a snowstorm. They're listening to Obi-Wan read fairy tales when there's a knock at the door. Leia thinks it's a man at first, but it turns out to be a big brown bear. He's not in good shape. He's battered and singed and has lost so much blood, he faints the moment he steps in the door. Obi-Wan insists Luke bring fresh water to wash his wounds and Leia brushes the snow off his fur. He rubs healing poultices on the bear's wounds. Leia and Luke wonder whom could have made burn marks like that...

I got off so late, I barely had enough time to change and eat lunch before dashing off to work! Work was a bit of a pain. It was off-and-on busy, thanks to off-and-on showers all afternoon. I got out to do carts once. They didn't send me again until 10 minutes before I left...and I was alone my entire shift. I mostly did returns. Also ran into the "two managers giving me orders at the same time" problem. Early on, one wanted me to find the customer service manager. She had an urgent call. Another wanted me to go in for a cashier who was going on break. I did look for the manager briefly, but it turns out she'd already gone home. Ended up in the line.

When I got home, I made a jelly omelet and Cucumber-Tomato Salad for dinner, then threw together Cranberry Apple Bread from the Pillsbury Cranberry Bread mix. Watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh while I worked. This anthology of the first three Pooh featurettes was the first full-length Pooh "movie" on the big screen.

The first story has Pooh trying to trick bees into thinking he's a rain cloud, then getting stuck in Rabbit's front door after an eating jag. The second introduces Piglet and Tigger as the residents of the 100 Acre Woods deal with some very blustery and scary fall weather. The last focuses on Tigger. Rabbit's tired of his inconsiderate bouncing all over everyone, but his efforts to make Tigger stop  fall short...until Tigger gets himself and Roo stuck in a tree. Rabbit eventually learns that a little bouncing now and then isn't a bad thing, .as long as you're careful around others.

This cute collection of the first three Pooh shorts mostly remains cute, though there are a few spooky moments in "Blustery Day" (notably the infamous "Heffalumps and Woozles"nightmare  musical number). If you're a fan of Pooh or some of the more laid-back Disney films, this is a must for your collection. Great "starter" Disney movie for young kids, too.

The DVD copy of Many Adventures I have includes a fourth Pooh short released in the early 80's. Winnie the Pooh and a Day For Eeyore introduces the game of Pooh Sticks and puts everyone's favorite gloomy donkey in the spotlight. The gang is playing Pooh Sticks when they run into Eeyore in the river. Tigger bounced him in, which only made him sadder than usual. It's his birthday, and no one's remembered. Pooh and Piglet do their best to try to make up for forgetting with small gifts and a party.

And...damn it. I got so into writing, I forgot my bread was in the oven. The outside is very burnt. Thankfully, the inside tastes pretty decent. I'll probably just have to cut off the crusts or eat around them somehow.

Oh, and the weather sure matches my mood. My nose is running like mad, my head hurts, and I have this throbbing between my eyes that won't go away. Didn't help at work today, that was for sure. It's been raining off and on - sounds like it's on for now, and pretty heavily.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Really Wild West

Began the day with a couple of Disney cartoons while I had a late breakfast. "Autumn" is what it says on the tin, an early black-and-white Silly Symphony short. Animals gather food, avoid predators, and dance together as they prepare for the winter.

The other two I did were Donald/Chip & Dale romps. "Donald Applecore" has Donald attempting to gather his apple crop...but Chip and Dale want it, too. "Out of Scale" may be the only time these three ever came to an agreement on something. Chip and Dale's tree is taking up space in Donald's outdoor model railroad. The duo finally find a way for it to fit in, without destroying Don's hard work or their home.

Headed out for my first run around 11:30. I had to get the laundry done. I shouldn't have put it off yesterday...but then again, maybe it's a good thing. It was dead when I came in, and didn't get much busier. I didn't have a huge load anyway. I was out in less than an hour.

I put everything away, then went right back out. Stopped at Capitol Pizza really quick for lunch around 1:30. I ordered a slice of cheese, a slice of mushroom, and a can of Diet Pepsi. Enjoyed my meal while watching The Chew. I wish I'd been able to stay for the whole thing. Alton Brown was one of their guests. I still have a couple of Good Eats show sets and cookbooks from when Lauren was crazy about him around 2009. (Evidently, he's going to have Broadway's first cooking show in November, which is awesome.)

Made a quick stop at Dollar Tree for tissues. I forgot to pick them up at the Acme yesterday. Thank goodness the line was short, which is rare at Dollar Tree. I was in and out in five minutes.

Got into Haddonfield just in time for counseling. We discussed my quiet month, how well the Eagles have been doing...and my shopping habits. I've realized the past month that I don't actually shop that much. I generally stay out of malls unless I need something from them, and even then, I often end up in discount retailers like Target. (It doesn't help that getting to the malls requires a hike to a bus stop, and then anything from a 20 minute to an hour ride on a bus.) Every stick of furniture in my apartment either came with the house, was given to me by a relative, was bought with money given to me by a relative for a holiday or my birthday, or came from a yard sale. I'd rather buy most things used. My overspending on vacation last month is fairly rare. (And even then, we did do some shopping at Christmas Tree Shops and Target.)

Work has really been stressing me out. I hate it when three or four managers will give me orders at once...and usually not let me finish what I was doing before! We're supposed to be getting remodeled in a few weeks, too. While we'll apparently be getting new freezers out of the deal, we'll also be getting that completely unnecessary Starbucks. There's been a lot of grumbling about the timing, too. We're going into our busy season. It'll be a mess in there during the year's major food holidays.

On the other hand, we're now officially in my favorite time of the year. I love fall. The weather is perfect. Everything tastes of apple, pumpkin, or spices. There's so many events going on - book sales, fairs, festivals, block parties, flea markets, farm markets, bazaars, hay rides. The Collingswood Book Festival is this Saturday; the Voorhees Library book sale will likely be the weekend before Columbus Day. I'm very much looking forward to both.

Halloween has grown on me over the last few decade or so. It used to be one of my least-favorite holidays as a kid. Trick-or-treating never really caught on with me. I'm not into horror movies or partying, which is what most single adults do for this holiday. I do enjoy dressing up and taking part in Oaklyn's town parade. I love giving out candy at Dad's when I'm not working.

This is also one of the few holidays that's relatively singles-friendly. You don't need a crowd to throw together a costume, hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, or march in a parade. It's really easier for me to do all these things on my own.

By the time I got out, the clouds and rain from early this morning had long been replaced by blue skies. Though it remained a bit humid, decent 78-degree temperatures (according to that digital sign at the Westmont Fire House) kept it from feeling overwhelming. I celebrated the fall weather with a medium chocolate-peanut butter water ice at Primo's. Timed it well, too. A few minutes after I sat down on the black metal bench outside with my treat, the place was swarming with teens just out of school.

Went home via Newton Lake Park. It was a gorgeous day for a ride in the park...and I wasn't the only one who thought so! I dodged tons of joggers, bikers, couples out for a stroll, and families pushing strollers. Teens sat at picnic tables and chatted; elementary schoolers relaxed in the grass while doing homework. It got so busy, I just ended up taking a shortcut, hauling my bike over one of the stone staircases.

Worked on writing for the rest of the evening. Luke's not impressed with Hank's beloved, dilapidated fishing boat the Millennium Falcon. Hank insists she's the fastest fishing boat there is. He's installed a special engine in her for smuggling trips. They'll get to the island in no time. Too bad poor Chip isn't handling the journey well. He's rather sea-sick.

Tried a new recipe for dinner. Tomatoes and White Beans with Parmesan is just that - tomatoes and white beans cooked together, with Parmesan cheese added at the last minute. I threw in bok choy, eggplant, and green peppers for more vitamins (and to replace the fresh basil I don't have). Yum. A nice, simple, fairly fast blending of flavors. I'll have to make this more often. I could probably used canned diced tomatoes in the winter.

Ran Blazing Saddles as I ate. Local attorney general Hedley Lamaar (Harvey Korman) wants to direct the railroad right through the little town of Rock Ridge. He hopes to drive out the citizens by sending them Bart, a black man (Cleavon Little) as their sheriff. Needless to say, the citizens aren't happy about it at first...except the alcoholic former gunslinger The Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) and German chanteuse Lilli Von Shutup (Madeline Khan). When Lamaar gets tired of waiting and hires more gunmen to clear out Rock Ridge, Bart convinces everyone to fight back, in a battle that eventually takes over the entire Warners back lot!

One of Brooks' most popular spoofs takes on western cliches and racism - and both are more relevant today than ever. (Richard Pryor worked on the script for this, which explains a lot about the jokes.) I had this on in honor of Gene Wilder's passing a few weeks ago. I always liked his odd, soft-spoken Waco Kid.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pass That Peace Pipe

I overslept this morning. Had just enough time to read a few chapters of Red Velvet Cake Murder, write in my journal, eat breakfast, change, and rush to work. Work was fairly quiet early on. I rounded up carts when I got in, then did returns. It got busier as we got closer to lunch. They had a hard time finding things for me to do later. Ended up filling racks with dollar tote bags and vacuuming the remaining freezer mess. Got stuck taking customers for the last half-hour, even though we weren't that busy.

By the time I got off, it was cloudy, cool, and a little humid. I'd heard it might rain later in the day, so I just headed home. Spent the rest of the afternoon working on my story. Luke hurries over to Ben, Hank, Charlie, and single dad Kes Dameron and his 4-year-old son Poe. They need to go to Organa Island and rescue Leia - and fast. Unfortunately, Hera and The Ghost are out on a fishing run. Hank offers his fishing vessel The Millennium Falcon, but for a very high price. Luke protests, but Ben says he can pay. He tells Kes to call the police if they're not home by daybreak and reassures little Poe that they'll be fine.

Broke for dinner around 6:30. I had the last of the cheese-stuffed chicken thighs for dinner, along with Cucumber-Tomato Salad. I wanted to make the tasty Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from the Pillsbury cookie cookbook Anny gave me a few years ago, but I didn't realize I only had half of one (very big) zucchini left. I threw in two small carrots to make up for it and to add a note of bright color. Yum. I love this recipe. I probably should have cooked them longer, but I couldn't wait. They were very sweet and a bit nutty.

Ran Susannah of the Mounties as I ate and baked. Shirley Temple is the title character, a feisty young girl whose parents were killed in an Indian attack on their wagon train. She's taken in by a Mountie named Monty (Randolph Scott), whom she develops a crush on. He's more interested in the General's daughter (Margaret Lockwood). Meanwhile, he's also trying to make a peace treaty with the local Indians. The chief leaves his son Little Chief with them as security. Little Chief eventually makes friends with Susannah (despite being condescending to her because of her age and gender), even making her a part of the tribe. Susannah's new friendship is tested when she and Little Chief discover that unscrupulous members of the tribe tried to sell the men building a near-by railroad their own stolen horses. The head of the railroad project insulted the chief, who has kidnapped Monty. Susannah has to decide if she should keep the secret and keep the Indians from getting hurt...or tell the truth and save her guardian.

Ok Temple action pic. For all the rather silly stereotypes here, I do like that it's emphasized that both sides are to blame for inciting a near-war - the chief and the railroad owner both over-reacted - and most of the Indians are played as decent people who just want to live in peace. Stereotypes are still very much present, though, including Shirley smoking "the pipe of peace" twice. (She doesn't react well either time.) Not my favorite Temple movie, but not bad if you have fans of her at home.

Finished the night as the cookies cooled with a Three Stooges shorts. The Stooges have their own fun with Indian stereotypes in "Whoops, I'm an Indian." They're on the lam after their rigged game is discovered in town. They dress as natives to avoid their pursuers...but first they run afoul of a French trapper whose wife ran off with an Indian, then the trapper falls for "Indian princess" Curly.

( date, it hasn't rained. It's now saying early this morning. We'll see. It's just been cloudy since I got home.)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Magic To Do In the Keystone State

There couldn't have been a nicer day for a football face-off. It was beautiful, sunny, and actually chilly for the first time in ages when I got up this morning. I celebrated with Pineapple Pancakes and the original cast album of Pippin. The story of the son of Charlemagne, who is desperately seeking his purpose in life, may not sound very exciting on paper...but the show is usually staged as a kind of vaudeville circus, with death-defying "acts" and a narrator (Ben Vereen in the original) who goads everyone on.

The music by Stephan Schwartz (who also did Wicked) is much better than most people give it credit for. In addition to the dynamic opening number "Magic To Do," I'm also fond of Pippin's "Corner of the Sky" and "Extraordinary," "No Time at All" for Pippin's grandmother (apparently a sing-along number in the actual show),  and the lovely "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" for Pippin's love interest Catherine. This show was successfully revived on Broadway in 2013, and in fact won Best Revival that season. I can hear why in this recording - the music's well-written and, for all the simplicity of the plot, just darn fun.

Headed off to work at 10. I started the day doing returns, but that barely lasted a half-hour. It was a beautiful blue and gold Sunday, and if people weren't getting ready for the Eagles-Steelers game at 4:25. It was windy and cool, no more than the lower 70's, absolutely perfect for this time of year. I wouldn't have minded doing the carts the whole day if I'd had more help. They did bring in one of the college boys later in the afternoon, but I was alone for most of the morning.

It was too nice to rush home. I took the long way down Nicholson Road, past Wal Mart and the senior center. They were busy, but it was worth dodging the traffic to enjoy the weather. The sun was out and felt nice and warm, despite the cool air. The air smelled of wildflowers and dried leaves. There couldn't have been a nicer first weekend of fall. 

Spent the next couple of hours working on my story. Luke is worried about his sister, too worried to enjoy the Rogues' party. A very upset Arturro and Chip show up and confirm Luke's worst fears. Leia has been kidnapped by the Imperial Gang and taken to Organa Island, where their boss is currently holding court. Luke plies them with soda to get them to calm down, then tells his Uncle what's going on. They'll need a way to get to the island...

Went back out around 4:30. I was originally going to just see if Dad and Jodie were home, then pick up a hoagie at WaWa and listen to the Eagles for the rest of the night. As it turned out, not only were they home, but they'd just walked in the door from their vacation an hour and a half before the game. I got to see many of their photos and souvenirs from their trip down to Savannah and St. Augustine, including a slate and thick pencils (colored and regular) made from real unshaven wood for Khai and two beautiful capes (one in gray, one in white) for Jodie. 

Rose and Khai showed up not long after I did. Rose is working at Anthony's in Haddon Heights again, but she's currently looking for a law job and already has an interview. Khai's just happy to be in first grade. He's a goalie on his soccer team. Even though his team lost yesterday, his mother said he did very well and even made a few amazing saves.

The Eagles were pretty darn amazing today, too. Unlike the Browns and the Bears, the Steelers are one of the best teams in the NFL. Many sports writers consider them to be Super Bowl contenders. And yet, the Eagles dominated them today. They ran circles around their top quarterback Ben Roethilsberger, including an amazing 73-yard touchdown return by Darren Sproles. As Rose pointed out, Roethilsberger's head just didn't seem to be in the game - he was sacked at least three or four times. The Eagles proved they're much better than most people thought with their huge 34-3 win.

I'm glad I ended up over there. Jodie bought Khai and his friend Chloe (who just came back from cheerleading practice and had the cutest little gold, white, and navy blue uniform) chicken fingers and everyone else hoagies. I cheered on the Eagles over a roast beef hoagie with a ton of tomatoes and onions. (I wish I'd remembered to tell Jodie provolone cheese instead of American, please.) 

(And Dad has another reason to be happy. The Dolphins finally got their first win of the season in overtime over the wayward Cleveland Browns.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Block Parties and Book Sales

I was surprised at how cloudy and blah it was when I got up this morning. It was supposed to be sunny today. Brightened the dreary weather with breakfast and more Rebels. Zeb and Imperial Agent Kallus find themselves trapped together on a frigid moon of Genosis. They're understandably wary of each other at first, until Zeb discovers that Kallus as as much reason to hate his race as he does to hate Imperials. The two then find a way to work together to escape monsters and get the attention of the Ghost to rescue them.

Started out around quarter after 10 for today's errand run. The Collingswood Farm Market continues to roll out the fall produce. Peaches and Chinese beans are done, but I saw large pumpkins, pears, and broccoli for the first time today, and spinach for the first time since spring. I ended up with the pears, small gala apples, red and orange peppers, mushrooms, and an heirloom tomato.

Rode around Collingswood and Westmont for a little while, looking for yard sale. I didn't find a ton (a lot of people must have thought the weather was going to be worse), but I did run into a few. Picked up the 20th anniversary Spirit of Christmas craft/cook book and a Motown greatest hits CD collection from one in Collingswood. Checked out really big "yard" sale at a church on the other side of town. I considered the American Girl "Penny" horse for Felicity, but I didn't know how I'd carry her home.

Though it was cool, more than it should have been for the time of year, I was still thirsty from riding around. (The digital sign at the Westmont Fire House listed the temperature as 64 around quarter of noon.) I treated myself to one of those frozen blended drinks from the Rita's in Westmont. They didn't have half the flavors I wanted to try, probably because tomorrow is their last day of the season. I finally mixed pina colada and strawberry watermelon. Actually...not bad. The watermelon gave it a nice zing, and there were lots of big strawberry, watermelon, and pineapple pieces.

Crossed Haddon Avenue and headed to Crystal Lake Road for the annual Haddon Township Block Party. Every year in late September, Haddon Township holds a fair on the block alongside their park and public pool facilities. There's rides and games for the kids, food trucks, a small car show, a stage with musical acts, and crafts from Studio LuLoo. I'd never seen so many bounce houses! Themes included a stagecoach, Lightning McQueen, a merry-go-round, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

I ended up buying one of the best deals there. The Haddon Township High School rowing club was selling a bottle of water, a soft pretzels, and a plastic mug with their logo on it for two dollars. I wasn't really that hungry anyway, so the pretzel became my lunch.

My next stop was Haddonfield. Their Lions Club holds a huge flea market in the wide parking lot behind one of the office buildings on Haddon Avenue. Their prices are usually pretty high, but for once, I did consider some things. Finally picked up a Christmas present for my friend Amanda.

Normally, the Haddonfield Library's annual book sale is on the triangle island outside of the library, under a series of tents. I don't know if it's because they just finished remodeling, or they thought the tents wouldn't be enough room, but it was moved to the Haddonfield First Presbyterian Church a few blocks down on King's Highway this year. First of all, it took me forever to figure out where it was. Second, by the time I got there, there wasn't much more room than in the tents, and most of it was picked over. I did find a copy (looks like the first release, in fact) of Belles On Their Toes, the sequel to the original Cheaper By the Dozen. Also grabbed the soundtrack to Animaniacs, the original cast album for Pippin, and a bag with chocolate brownie and sesame seed cookies.

I'd had quite enough riding around by then. I rode straight home, passing by the block party on my way. The traffic wasn't too bad, which was another reason I wanted to get moving. And of course, the sun finally started coming out as I rode home. It had sprinkled slightly when I first came out, but it was mostly cloudy.

Devoted a couple of hours to writing after I got home and put everything away. Boba Fett had snitched about Leia, Jyn, Cassian, and the nerds meeting to the Imperial Gang earlier. The Imperials shove their way into Jyn and Cassian's cottage. Jyn turns the tapes and the plans over to Leia, who flees, along with the nerds. The Imperials chase them across the cottages' backyards. Leia finally turns the information over to Arturro, the closest person to her, and the only one who knows how to work the tapes. The nerds flee to the Rogues' party. Leia's not so lucky. Vader grabs her when she tries to run.

Decided to try something different after I broke for dinner. I have a couple of different types of flour in the pantry, enough to attempt Multi-Grain Muffins. Tossed in the last of the chocolate chips to get rid of them. Ohhh, not bad at all. A little sweet and crunchy - the dark chocolate adds a nice contrast to the nuttiness.

Finished out Rebels while I baked and ate dinner. Kanan's tired of the Inquisitors constantly attacking them. He and Ezra join Ashoka at a Jedi Temple. Each has a vision there, Kanan fights the former Grand Inquisitor, who warns him about Ezra and makes him a true Jedi Knight. Ezra has a chat with Yoda. Ashoka's not as thrilled with what she sees in her vision, which reveals the true identity of Darth Vader...

Chopper has his own problems on another mission. He steals a new leg and hides on an Imperial cruiser. He meets and befriends a protocol droid who had once been a navigator in the Clone Wars, but is now relegated to inventory duty and is abused by the Imperials. When he removes his restraining bolt, the other droid realizes he means what he's been told...and that he can go ahead and give the Rebels a vital piece of information that'll keep them from flying into a trap.

The season ends with Ashoka, Ezra, and Kanan off to another Jedi Temple, this one a Sith temple on Malachor. Separated from the others, Ezra meets a seemingly wise old former Sith with strange red and black markings and horns on his head. He claims he wants revenge on the Sith for dumping him and convinces Ezra to get a Sith holocron. Kanan knows who he really is...and that he's using the boy to reveal the Temple's true abilities.

The Temple's real identity is the least of their worries. The Inquisitors and Darth Vader are all there as well. Ezra's livid when Kanan is maimed during the duels. While they stop the Temple and go after the Sith holocron, Ashoka confronts the man who had once been her master...

Oh wow. Now I'm really looking forward to Season 3 (which actually began today, I believe). Seasons 1 and 2 are the only DVDs currently on my Christmas wish list. I really like this show. The writing is top-notch, the animation is colorful and well-done, the music is downright amazing, and while it's not as dark as Force Awakens (or apparently as the previous Star Wars cartoon series The Clone Wars), it's a lot of fun in its own right.

As with the first season, you'll need some working knowledge of the Star Wars universe, especially the prequels and The Clone Wars series, to really understand what's going on here. If you're a Star Wars fan (especially of the prequels), this is a fun expansion of the years between the prequels and the sequels that gets a hearty recommendation from me.

Ended my night in the bath, looking over my new Christmas book and listening to jazz. Ahh. A lovely way to end a lovely week. I really needed that after all the riding around.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Legendary Rebels

Began and ended the day with writing. Leia, Jyn, Cassian, and the nerds listen to the tapes and go over the plans for the Empire Star Resort at Jyn and Cassian's cottage. The Empire Star Resort will be enormous, covering ten city blocks...and that's not counting a mall and an amusement pier. Cassian points out that this will create even worse congestion in the city than there already is during the summer.

Leia adds that the project would require demolishing not only historic hotels, but recent ones, and that it would only attract the very wealthy. Most of the tourists who visit Ocean View tend to be middle or lower-class families, young adults and college students who can't afford fancier vacations, or the elderly. There's the year-round residents to consider as well, fishing folk and local small business owners and shop keepers.

The dark-haired young woman says she'll send the plans and the tapes to Senator Mothma the next day. They're about to go to the Rogues' party and meet Luke when they overhear a commotion downstairs...

Ran an episode of Star Wars: Rebels during breakfast, and began another while getting ready for work. In the first, Sabine and Kanan go on a mission to convince a group of Mandalorians who run the planet Concord Dawn to let the Rebels pass through their world after Hera is wounded trying to talk to them. Sabine wants revenge, but Kanan insists on peaceful methods of persuasion, even after it turns out their leader is being bribed by the Empire. In the end, Sabine and Kanan learn that both peace and fighting have their place.

In the second episode, we meet refugees who turn out to be some of Zeb's people. Zeb's species was mostly wiped out by the Empire, but a few survived. They want to find a new home predicted by their version of the Force, deep in uncharted space. Zeb's skeptical at first. He'd failed to save the rulers of his original planet. When the Empire goes after them and they find themselves navigating a minefield of black holes, it takes intervention from Zeb to make sure they all get home safely.

Work was a bit of a pain today. Three people called out in the front end. I got stuck in the register for almost an hour and a half at one point. Thank goodness they were able to get one of the kids to show up early. I did get to spend that last half-hour helping to round up carts and baskets, but I never got around to finishing the returns.

My schedule next week is somewhat similar to this week. Earlier on Sunday, slightly later on Friday. Same days off, Tuesday and next Saturday (Tuesday for counseling). On one hand, I'm glad I keep getting Saturdays off. Weekends in the early fall are filled with block parties, yard sales, festivals, fairs, book sales, bazaars, and flea markets. I had to miss most of them last year, partially because of early work, and partially because of bad weather. I'm really hoping to take in as many as I can this time. On the other hand, I still don't have enough hours.

I had a little more grocery shopping to do this week than last week. Picked up a composition notebook (I use them for journals when I can't afford the fancy ones) and a pack of sponges on the clearance racks. Restocked sugar, mandarin oranges, canned apricots, canned crushed pineapple, skim milk, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, peanut butter, and pads. (Had a coupon for the pads.) The bottles of Poland Sparkling Water were on a really good sale. I didn't really need eggs, but they were also on a great sale - I couldn't resist.

When I got home, I put everything away, then changed and had an early dinner. Did more Rebels while I ate. While on a routine mission to gather fuel, the crew of the Ghost encounter a school of whale-like space creatures called the Purgill. Hera isn't fond of them - they tend to eat the hull of spaceships and get in the way of hyperdrive lanes. Ezra feels a connection to them...and realizes why when he discovers that they're also after the fuel. But the Mining Guild has no intention of letting either the crew or the Purgill have that fuel...

Hera returns to her home planet of Ryloth to help capture an Imperial fighter. Her father Chaim is currently in charge of the resistance on Ryloth. He wants to destroy the fighter to show off the might of the planet. Chaim thinks Hera should concentrate her efforts closer to home; Hera thinks he should do more to help other planets. Father and daughter find themselves having to work together for everyone when the Imperials appear.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Perfect Start to Fall

Kicked off the first morning of the fall with my second early work day in a row. I did round up a few carts when I first got in and shelved most of a cart of groceries. Spent the second half of my shift trying to haul the soaked sandbags from the leaking freezers outside. This would have been easier if the keys to the back door hadn't mysteriously vanished right before my last round. I was lucky a manager was in the back and was able to unlock the door. They were still looking for the keys when I finished for the day. Good thing it was dead as a doornail all day. The sandbags were really saturated and made a mess when I loaded them into a bag.

It was absolutely gorgeous out when I finished work. I took the long way home down Nicholson Road to enjoy the weather a little longer. They weren't much busier than the Acme had been. I dodged a few cars on Nicholson, but otherwise, I had no problems.

As soon as I got home, I changed into regular shorts and my turquoise tank top. Had the last of the zucchini-carrot muffins for lunch watching more Star Wars: Rebels. Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper are sent to meet a Rebel data carrier...who turns out to be an old droid. The droid is coveted by a bounty hunter who had once been a friend of Sabine's. The two find themselves having to work together (with Chopper's help) when the Imperials attack.

It was way too nice to stay inside all day. I headed out for a walk around 2. I hadn't seen such a nice day in ages. It was still hot, probably in the mid-80's, but not humid at all. The sky was a rich blue. A soft breeze rustled the dry, crackling leaves on the trees. Gardens are bursting with the brilliant fall colors of marigolds, asters, sunflowers, and impatiens. The grass, though, remains a straw-like beige. Most people won't be decorating for Halloween until next month - the only decorations out were a few fall, summer, Eagles, or Phillies-related banners.

I was originally going to volunteer at Studio LuLoo, but they weren't open again. I just haven't been able to catch them lately. I ended up at WaWa instead. I got a flyer in the mail a few days ago with a stack of coupons in honor of the remodeling. WaWa can now do hand-made milkshakes behind the deli counter. One of the coupons was for a $1.99 milkshake. I took advantage of that coupon to try the Pumpkin Spice shake. Oooh, that was yummy, very flavorful and spicy. Not very ice-creamy, though. It tasted more like a cold pumpkin spice eggnog, which was cool too. I like eggnog, but it's usually too expensive for me to buy often.

Spent the rest of the afternoon working on my fanfic. I may end up re-writing this part. Originally, Jyn and Cassian give Leia a recording of Palapatine's plans to tear down the Cottages, the part of the boardwalk near-by, and most of the surrounding area and build a huge Empire Star Resort and Amusement Park. I think I might return to the source material and have them just give Leia the actual plans to get to Senator Mothma instead.

I wanted a real sit-down dinner tonight. I've had a package of boneless chicken thighs in the freezer forever. I finally defrosted them, rubbed them with Brown Sugar Bourbon spices, and wrapped them around thin slices of cheese. They were cooked in a molasses-chicken stock sauce. Added corn-on-the-cob and Cucumber-Tomato Salad for vegetables. Yummm. The chicken came out so moist and flavorful! I had to have two.

Continued Rebels as I ate. Rex and Kanan have to work together in one episode to rescue Ezra and the Rebel Commander Sato after they're attacked by an Imperial ship that can pull other ships out of hyperspace. Another has the entire group coming to the aid of a ship filled with Force-sensitive infants. Another episode has Ezra following a Force-vision he had about his parents to Lothal, where a former Imperial prisoner finally reveals their whereabouts.

A young Princess Leia helps them out in another story when her home planet of Alderaan gives the Rebels ships...but at this point, no one knows Alderaan is involved, and Leia and the guys have to make it look like a kidnapping. Meanwhile, Leia, who is also taking on massive responsibility at a young age, helps Ezra with the fall-out from finding out about his parents.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blood and Thunder In the Stars

Started off the day with my first of two early work shifts in a row. It was no problem. We were dead all morning, and it barely picked up around the noon rush hour. I did get stuck going in for a cashier right before I was done. Otherwise, I mostly did returns, vacuumed the leaks, and rounded up the few carts that were around.

When I got home, I watched more Star Wars: Rebels while having lunch. After Ezra convinces Kanan and Zeb to help Rex get rid of the Imperials, Rex finally agrees to join them. He tells them about an Old Republic base that may have medical supplies. The base also turns out to be the hiding spot of one of the new Grand Inquisitors, a woman and her droids. Ezra and Sabine are in an even bigger pickle when her equally nasty brother appears. Good thing Zeb and Chopper are on their trail.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening working on an idea I got at work. Now, on one hand, I'm 95 percent sure Han Solo's dead for good. I know a lot of fans don't want to believe it. Han's one of the franchise's most beloved characters, and there's a lot of fussing about him not giving Leia or Luke or the kids a proper good-bye. On the other hand, I'm 100 percent certain that none of us have the Force, and we don't know what will happen in the future or the next movie. So...

This started off as a straightforward rescue story set in the actual Star Wars universe. As I continued it, I realized how much it has in common with the blood and thunder, damsel-tied-to-the-tracks melodramas of the late 19th/early 20th century. It only needed a few tweaks to set it between 1910 and 1924.

Ex-Navy hero Captain Henry Solo was kidnapped and almost killed by his son, the masked villain known as Kylo Ren, or "The Equalizer." He and intrepid early pilot Poe Dameron are being held hostage, chained to a log that's about to be sliced in half by a sharp mechanical saw blade. Ren's second Armitage Hux (and his big orange cat) try to question them about the location of lost Jedi master Professor Walker, but they refuse to answer.

Hux starts up the machine, which is about to slice them through...when it's revealed that their crew has replaced many of Hux's thugs. Professor Luke Walker and street kid Rey take on Hux. Walker's assistant Artie manages to stop the jammed conveyor belt. Detective Leia Walker Solo rescues her beloved husband, while ex-First Order Company hood-turned-cop Finn Finnegan and Poe's adorable little sister Beatrice "BeaBea" Dameron free him. Hux escapes, but Luke's happy they did get the Jedi artifacts he was trying to smuggle out of the city.

This came out surprisingly well for an idea I came up with while gathering carts and took several sharp turns on its way to the final product. It's currently available at Archive Of Our Own, Fanfiction.Net, and my writing blog.

The Rescue of Captain Solo at Archive of Our Own
The Rescue of Captain Solo at Writer's Desk at the Riverside Rest
The Rescue of Captain Solo at Fanfiction.Net

Finished the night with scrambled eggs with Ratatouille, then made Double Chocolate Raspberry Cookies (Double Chocolate Cookies from The Cake Mix Doctor with raspberry extract) while continuing Rebels. Ezra, tired of constant chores and practicing, goes off on an adventure with Chopper while the others are on a mission. He receives a distress call from his old acquaintance Vizago, whom he owes a favor to. The two go off to answer it, only to find his ship's been taken over by another bounty hunger, Hondo Ohnaka. Hondo has power converters that the Rebels could use...if Ezra can figure out first how to get them past the buyer Hondo has set up, then find Vizago.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rebel Hearts

Slept in this morning. Began the day with breakfast, then went right into cleaning. I really needed to get the dusting in the bedroom done. It wasn't that bad, probably because I had the windows closed for most of August and only just opened them again a week or so ago, but it still needed to be done. The bookshelves get especially bad. It's getting to be a bit of a pain to dust under the Ever After High dolls, too. I really need to find them a shelf of their own.

Ran Summer Magic while I worked. Based after the book Mother Carey's Chickens, this Disney live-action musical takes us to the early part of the 20th century in New England. Nancy Carey's (Haley Mills) mother (Dorothy MacGuire) was just left widowed. Nancy sees this is a great opportunity to start over in the country. It turns out that a large yellow house in rural Maine is available for rent. The rich owners don't seem to be around, and the owner of the general store, Ossium Poppem (Burl Ives) doesn't mind if they stay. Nancy and her little brother Peter are thrilled. Her older brother's less happy, but he comes around eventually. They settle into the house, eventually joined by a rather snobby cousin from the city, and by Peter's oversized dog Sam. Nancy loves her new life, but the owner is ready to come back...and he may not be happy with the Careys living there...

Charming musical coming-of-age tale is a favorite of mine. If it sounds like Meet Me In St. Louis in rural New England, the same woman who wrote that, Sally Benson, also adapted this. I'm fond of the folksy Sherman Brothers score, too. Most of the Disney live-action musicals deserve more love, and this one is no exception. Check it out if you're a fan of the cast or musical coming-of-age tales.

Switched to the Pointer Sisters as I put up the fall decorations. I've been meaning to get around to this for ages, and just hadn't gotten there until today. This is the right time for it - the fall equinox is Wednesday, and it's supposed to cool off starting later this week.

I mostly have little things I've picked up here and there, from yard sales and craft stores - a pillow embroidered with fall leaf and acorn cut outs, a really pretty little wreath with fruit and seed-shaped glass beads in fall colors, tiny baskets of fall foliage, calico print pumpkins and apples, a big green stuffed apple, a red Beanie Baby squirrel. Mom gave me the metal and wood crow/leaf/pumpkin garlands from when she worked at Michael's. The plastic and fabric orange leaf garlands were freebies. For some reason, the Wildwood Acme had them, unused, in their storage room when they shut down to be remodeled in 2005. I volunteered to take them home (along with a wooden rack I now use for CDs).

Headed out to run errands around quarter after 1. I wasn't at the Oaklyn Library for very long. There was barely anything to do, and I'm tired of the endless bleating about political candidates no one likes on CNN. I did stick around to hear one of the customers mention her father had gotten stuck in really bad traffic on Cuthbert Road. Something about road repair and a major mess.

I took advantage of the information as I made my way over to the Westmont Plaza. I crossed at Cuthbert and the White Horse Pike instead of by Rite Aid. I could see something going on, lots of trucks, and a police car blocking the way by Wells Fargo. I had to walk the bike around the police car.

I had lunch at Westmont Bagel Shop. Either because of the traffic or because it was almost 2 by then, they weren't that busy. A group of elderly people arrived right before I did, and I saw a family with the most adorable baby girl. I enjoyed today's lunch special, a vegetable and cheese quesadilla with a bottle of water and chips, while watching the toddler's antics.

There was even less going on at the Haddon Township Library. I had a small pile of kids' DVDs to shelve and two audio CDs. I decided I'd leave the new releases and adult titles to the kids. I just took out two kids' sets. The second season of Star Wars: Rebels had arrived. I've been waiting for this one ever since I really enjoyed the first season set back in February. I think the third season premiere is this week. They have a few more Shirley Temple movies I either haven't seen at all or in years; went with Susannah of the Mounties.

Made a very quick stop at Thriftway next. I needed whole wheat flour. Unlike Acme, they still have a cheap generic brand. I also grabbed their 75 cent toilet paper since I was there. They were dead as a doornail, with no lines and barely anyone around.

Thankfully, by the time I headed home, the police cars and road blocks were gone. Good thing, too. It was rush hour. I had to dodge quite a bit of traffic, especially on Cuthbert.

Spent the rest of the afternoon on the computer, working on stories. I revised things a bit. Instead of getting the information themselves, Jyn's dad and "Fulcrum," the mysterious local DJ, got the info from an Empire Industries meeting. Trouble is, the only people who have the right equipment to run the tapes are the nerds, Arturro and Chip. Jyn and Leia convince them to come over and help them figure out what they're saying. Luke doesn't like it, but Leia's adamant. This information could save the Cottages.

I had a lot of veggies going bad in the crisper, so I threw together Ratatouille with my canned chicken for dinner. Watched a couple of episodes of Star Wars: Rebels as I ate. The crew of the Ghost are now officially part of the Rebellion...but some of them aren't too sure about giving up their independence. Darth Vader is now on their trail as well. When the Imperial head of Lothal tells them she wants to defect, they jump to help her. She's murdered before they get a chance...and the rap is pinned on them. Lando Calarissian helps them off Lothal.

After they escape the Imperials, they realize they can't go back to Lothal. They need a new base. Fulcrum - once Ashoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's pupil - suggests her old friend, who knows where everything is in the galaxy, can help. Turns out her old friends are elderly clone soldiers, who were decommissioned after the Empire started building their Stormtrooper army. Kanan, who still remembers how the clones betrayed the Jedi, doesn't trust them, but Ezra wants to give them a chance.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rainy Day Birds and Bears

It was showering hard when I awoke this morning. The rain made a rather nice backdrop for finishing Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead. I...don't think I'll keep this one. I love the Indiana Jones novels, but this was a little too much horror for me. Interesting premise, though. Indy and his buddy Mac are after a fabled black pearl in Hati during World War II. A German scientist and Japanese doctor want formula the box's it's in contains for their respective country, hoping it can strengthen their men. A voodoo priest wants the power it brings. The young woman who guides them turns out to be the key... It was kind of like a better-written Temple of Doom set in the Caribbean, with a heroine who was not only interesting, but drove the plot. Hatian culture and magic has obviously been better-researched than Indian magic and cults as well. The whole zombie thing is, not surprisingly, very bloody and very graphic.

Switched to something less bloodsoaked as the rain continued and I ate breakfast. I thought the spooky, damp morning called for a touch of musical mystery. Pablo is asking "Whodunnit?" in a Backyardigans first-season spoof of Agatha Christie-style tales. Pablo comes to the home of Lady Tasha and her butler Tyrone when Tasha's jewels vanish! Could Tasha's neighbor Austin Frothingslosh or the suddenly-appearing Uniqua Underhood have anything to do with the theft?

The rain was down to a very light shower by the time I hit the laundromat. It didn't keep people away. They were really busy this morning. I'm glad I was able to get a washer without a fuss. I had a huge load this week, including sheets. Took me a while, too. I was there for over an hour.

Not a good thing. I barely got home with enough time to put the laundry away, eat muffins for lunch, and change into newly-washed work clothes. Ran another one of my favorite Backyardigans episodes as I hurried. Tyrone is the master and Austin the student who is learning how to make "Samurai Pie." Austin has to craft "The Great Pie" and bring it to hungry Empress Tasha...if pie-snitching ninjas Pablo and Uniqua don't get it first!

Work was really crazy today, especially during rush hour. It was the last day of a major 4-day sale and the Eagles were playing Monday Night Football. The freezer leaks were back, too. Thankfully, only aisle 10 was really that bad, and only one section. I did a lot of bagging and re-shelved tons of cold items that had to go back right away.

It was raining when I arrived. I got a bit wet riding to work and rounding up carts in the early afternoon. By 5, the rain was down to dark clouds, and the crowds were thinning. Despite having to borrow a college boy cashier to help, rounding up carts went far smoother.

Went right in the bath the moment I got home. I needed that so badly. Felt great to lean back and read over the financial help books I took out last week while listening to Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon.

Ran the first half of Bowery Buckaroos during dinner. Slip and the guys are headed out west to help clear Louie the soda shop owner from a murder charge and follow a map (drawn on Sach's back) to gold. Meanwhile, their gambler buddy Gabe has his eyes on a pretty and smart cowgirl.

Finished the night online, listening to the Eagles game. It was another great one. The Eagles (and their amazing rookie quarterback Carson Wentz) took an early lead over the Chicago Bears, and while they pulled off a touchdown late in the first quarter, they'd only manage one more the rest of the night. They went on to win 29-14. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Where's the Rain?

Began a cloudy (and surprisingly quiet) morning with Nectarine Pancakes and the soundtrack to Eddie and the Cruisers. This 1983 movie about a Jersey Shore bar band who briefly makes it big in the early 60's, and it has some fabulous music. As you can imagine, it was wildly popular down in Cape May County in the mid-80's (especially given parts of it were actually filmed at Ocean City, Atlantic City, and Somers Point) with real life bar-band fans. My family wore our original LP out well before the decade ended. I was thrilled to find this again at the big Best Buy in Mays Landing in the fall of 2001. "On the Dark Side" was the hit, but my favorite song is the evocative ballad "Boardwalk Angel." (I love that so much, it's my secondary moniker online.)

Work was very busy today, despite the Eagles playing tomorrow night. I'm wondering if people were worried about the weather. A tropical storm is supposed to hit the area tonight or tomorrow. Actually, it was supposed to be here this afternoon, but despite humidity you could cut with a knife, it never arrived. It was on-and-off cloudy all day. I spent the afternoon alternating between rounding up carts and getting stuck in a register. Every time I'd try to get the carts going, I'd get called inside. Good thing there were at least two other guys helping me today.

(Considering South Jersey spent Labor Day Weekend waiting for a tropical storm that never came, we'll have to see if we actually get rain this time.)

(I got to see the last couple of minutes of the Cowboys-Redskins game in the back room as I was leaving. I was really hoping Washington could at least manage a tie. Nope. Cowgirls finally got past them 27-23.)

As soon as I got home, I grabbed a broom and went right back outside. Charlie cleared debris off the roof yesterday. He used a leaf blower to get rid of the accumulated debris. It did get rid of the leaves and larger sticks...but left behind a gritty layer of dirt, dust, grime, and pieces of acorn. I swept that away with an actual broom. I didn't want the porch to turn into a mud bath if it rained.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and a lot of the evening writing. Luke's surfing is progressing at the beach. He's gotten much better and isn't falling off nearly as much anymore. He really wishes he could be as good as Ben, or the men he learned from, Quinton Jinn and Yoda Yamagashi.

Leia has her own worries. Jyn's dad found out something really big is going on Alderaan Island. She says he has a recording of Palapatine's boys and Vader making huge plans to tear down the Cottages, local woodland, and a lot of the older Boardwalk attractions and build a gigantic hotel and theme park. Jyn and Cassian invite Leia to come to their cottage to hear the tapes.

Finished things with leftovers for dinner and The Very Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is a collection of numbers from older Webber shows I've had since at least the 90's. I think it was actually one of my first CD's. It includes songs from most of his shows up through Sunset Boulevard (represented by "With One Look," the title number, and Barbara Streisand's version of "As If We Never Said Goodbye"). My favorite songs are "High Flying Adored," a duet from Evita sung by original cast members Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, and the hilarious title song from By Jeeves.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Yard Sale Adventures

Began the morning with some Max & Ruby. "Ruby's Safari" has Ruby and Louise looking for "exotic" animals in the backyard to photograph. Max would rather they took pictures of his toys. Ruby and Louise have created their own line of fruit-based beauty products. Ruby's brother prefers "Max's Mud Bath." "Ruby's Lost Lizard" is a chameleon who takes off while Ruby and Louise are working on his terrarium. Max tries to tell the girls, but they can't see it as it blends into its environment.

Started out to run errands around 10. After stopping at WaWa for money, I rode to the Collingswood Farm Market for this week's produce shopping. Man, were they packed! It was elbow-to-elbow. No wonder. The fall produce continues to slowly roll out. I saw winter squash, string beans, and pie pumpkins for the first time today. The peaches were way too large (and expensive), so I bought green grapes instead. Also grabbed bok choy, baby carrots, an heirloom tomato, a cucumber, gala apples, a zucchini, and two ears of yellow corn.

Spent the next couple of hours riding around Collingswood, Westmont, and Oaklyn, checking out yard sales. I didn't find a lot...but I did manage to uncover a few things I've considered getting. Found a brand-new copy of Robin McKinley's first "Beauty and the Beast" novel, Beauty (she would apparently return to the story years later) and an adorable, fluffy little Russ teddy bear at one porch-and-yard sale in Collingswood. (I named the teddy Butterscotch, Scotchie for short.) Picked up a Peanuts comic book at one in Westmont. Three others in Collingswood and were mostly knick-knacks. A huge sale on Cuthbert Road, a few blocks from Rite Aid, was all overpriced collectibles, but I did pick up a copy of a Killers CD next-door. (I do like their "Dustland Fairy Tale.")  Did better back in Oaklyn - a sale near WaWa yielded a really nice journal with a velvet spine.

I rode to Crystal Lake Road at Haddon Township around noon. I thought their town fair was today. It's apparently next Saturday. I was disappointed, but at least it was a nice day for a ride. At that point, it was still sunny, blue, and breezy, if a tad hotter and more humid than yesterday.

Ended up at Phillies Phatties in Oaklyn for lunch. They were busy with families coming in from various fall sports. One mother said she and her kids were celebrating the girl getting her first soccer goal today. I opted to take my slice of cheese pizza, slice of mushroom pizza, and can of Mountain Dew Pitch Black outside and enjoy the quiet. Phillies Yummies had just opened as I finished. (I saw the girl in charge pick up the keys from one of the boys at Phillies Phatties as I got my pizza.) I ended up with a cool, sweet cotton candy Yum Yum (grittier, creamier water ice).

When I got home, I put everything away, then went right into writing. Hank and Leia end up arguing as they leave the boardwalk. Hank wants Leia to start paying more attention to him. Leia wants Hank to join the fight to save the cottages. He still wants to run off to Mexico to avoid Jasper Hutt. Leia finally kisses Hank's best friend Charlie (as well as she can, given their differences in height) to make Hank jealous.

The next day, Leia is back at the library, doing more research. Luke and Ben are on the beach, practicing surfing. They're both worried about Leia. Ben appreciates her help, but he doesn't want her to get hurt.

It was past 6:30 when I ran out to do some quick errands I forgot about earlier. Somewhere between 2 and 6, it had gotten cloudier and much, much windier. The clouds were heavy enough that I couldn't see the oncoming twilight as I made my way across the White Horse Pike. I just grabbed eggs at Family Dollar (they're only $1.10 there). Got skim milk and a Black Cherry Sparkling Ice across the street at WaWa.

(And the renovations on the Oaklyn WaWa came out really nice, too. It's all rounded edges and light wooden panels. The food counter is twice the size it used to be. It took over the area where the drink machines were. Those were moved across the store to the back end where the packaged baked goods used to be.)

Ran Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin while eating leftovers for dinner, and then while making Zucchini-Carrot-Honey Muffins. Pooh is looking forward to spending the late summer/early fall with his best human buddy...but the boy can't be found anywhere. The only clue is a honey-covered note. Owl interprets that letter to mean that the boy is in "skull" and is being held prisoner. Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acres Woods crew set out to find him. In the process, they learn a lot about their close friendship and themselves.

This is surprisingly dark for a Pooh tale, with several scary moments with them searching for the "skullasaurus" and some quite sad ones. (Pooh singing "Wherever You Are" is probably one of the most heartbreaking musical numbers in any Disney movie, period.) It's basically a darker version of the Pooh movie that was released theatrically in 2011.

I do recommend this for fans of Pooh and his pals, but you might want to have a hand for the little ones to hold during the sad or scary scenes...and grab a tissue for yourself.

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's a Grand Night for Cleaning

I began another glorious, breezy late summer morning with writing. Hank's trying his hardest to flirt with Leia. She's more focused on saving the Cottages than on how he feels about her. He claims to not care about the Cottages, insisting that he's on the run from local gangster Jasper Hutt. He intends for him and Charlie to clear out as soon as they can make enough money. She wishes he'd help. He lives there, too. He says he has no interest in anyone's cause.

Work was even quieter today than it was yesterday. It's the middle of a month and a gorgeous day, and we're between holidays. I was immediately told to vacuum the damn freezer leaks again. This was weird. It wasn't humid at all? Why were they leaking? I finally decided that the head of the frozen food department was right. The sandbags needed to be changed again. That took the better part of an hour, but it was worth it. The freezers did look better when I finished.

Of course, the moment I finished, I got called out to help the head manager with carts. I wouldn't have minded that...except I was 10 minutes from break. Of course my break ended up being a half-hour late. Later, I had to take out the outdoor trash. I wouldn't have minded that either, if someone hadn't tossed their whole order into one.

I was very grateful when I finally got off work. Got my schedule first. It's...exactly the same as last week. Same hours, same days off. On one hand, that means I'll be able to get more writing done and enjoy the many fairs, block parties, yard sales, and flea markets planned for tomorrow and next Saturday. On the other hand, I really could use more hours.

It's probably just as well that I didn't need much in the way of groceries. I was mostly restocking my pantry. Bought diced tomatoes, black beans, crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, canned apricots, honey, and molasses. The Acme/Safeway generic brand cereal was on a really good sale - went with bran flakes. My order went through, but I couldn't take out money. I guess my paycheck was still processing. (I direct deposit.)

When I got home, I put everything away, then ate leftovers for dinner while finishing out Animal Crackers. Moved to the 1945 version of State Fair while dusting the living room. The Frake family has high hopes for this year's Iowa State Fair. Mrs. Frake (Faye Bannier) is entering her pickles and her (extremely brandy-spiked) mincemeat. Margy (Jeanne Crain) just wants to get out of town and get away from her bore of a boyfriend. Wayne (Dick Haymes) wants to get back at a fellow who humiliated him at the ring toss the year before. Mr. Frake (Charles Winninger) has been raising Blue Boy, an enormous hog, and bets with a gloomy neighbor that he'll win first prize. Everyone gets what they want in the end...including the kids. Wayne falls for a stunning singer (Vivian Blaine), but she's got her own problems. Margy has more luck with a dashing reporter (Dana Andrews).

State Fair was Rogers and Hammerstein's first musical for the big screen, and would be their only original. I've always liked this one. This is another movie Mom used to rent for us a lot before we finally got our own copy later in the 90's. Margy's ballad "It Might as Well Be Spring" won Rogers and Hammerstein's only Oscar for best song, but I prefer the ensemble number "It's a Grand Night For Singing." Sexy Andrews and sassy Crain are having a lot more fun than the stiff Haymes and Blaine. Bannier and Winninger are adorable as the parents.

If you're a fan of the cast, 40's musicals, or Rogers and Hammerstein, this is one of their most charming musicals and is recommended. (There was also a 1962 film and a 1997 stage version. They're just ok.)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beautiful Day In Late Summer

Had another early work session this morning. It was a gorgeous day to round up carts. The sky was blue and cloudless. The wind felt nice and cool. It couldn't have been any more than the lower-mid 70's. I only wish I could have been outside more. It was even quieter today than it was yesterday. There weren't that many carts to gather. (Even fewer once another bagger came to handle them.) I spent the majority of the first half of my shift doing returns, and the second half hauling heavy boxes of paper bags and plastic bags into a closet in the front of the store and one in the back, near the lounge.

Ran some quick Max & Ruby while eating lunch after I got in. "Max's Rocket Racer" is a cool space-themed ride at the local fair. Trouble is, he's too short to ride. Ruby keeps trying to drag him to anything that'll make him tall enough to get on that rocket!

"Ruby's Birthday Party" is for hers and Louise's Bunny Scouts leader. They want to impress their leader and troop with something "extra special." Max and Louise's little brother Morris just want to play with Max's rockets.

We return to the fair in "Max's Candy Apple." Max wants the tasty fall much, he keeps running out on all the games Ruby wants to play. She's hoping that the three-legged race will keep him by her side long enough to finish.

Went into writing for the next couple of hours. I first backtracked a little. Hank (Han Solo) has a meeting with a greasy punk named Greedo in a dive bar called the Mos Eisley Cantina. Greedo is there on behalf of his boss, the notorious local gangster Jasper Hutt, known simply as "The Hutt" to his men. To keep things (relatively) light, Hank "shoots" a burger at him first, then knocks over a table onto the other customers. He escapes while two big guys pummel the green-haired punk. He and Charlie (Chewbacca) run out quick in Hank's rusted red Ford truck while he explains the situation.

Returning to Maz's pier, tensions are heating up between the residents of the Cottages By the Sea and the Imperial Gang. Arturro, the shorter of the nerds, is the one who finally starts the fight when Vader picks on his best friend Chip. Everyone gets involved, resulting in some nice black eyes all around.

They're all making jokes about their shiners when Luke, then the nerds, smell smoke. Turns out the corner of one of Maz's storage buildings between rides is on fire. The kids do what they can before Maz and Ben bring in firefighters to take out the rest. No one was hurt, but the storage building and an adjacent ride sustained smoke damage.

One of the firemen bring Maz a singed letter. It makes it fairly obvious that the Imperial Gang did this,setting up the brawl in the entrance as a distraction. Leia in particular is angry and vows to find out who's behind this.

Broke for dinner around quarter after 6. I started Animal Crackers (mainly to drown out a noisy, heavily cursing Charlie and his blasting music) while eating leftovers for dinner. The second Marx Brothers movie introduces the song that would later be Groucho's theme on his show You Bet Your Life, "Hooray for Captain Spaulding." Groucho plays the aforementioned explorer, who is an honored guest in the home of rich Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) and her vivacious daughter Arabella (Lillian Roth). She's also displaying a priceless painting. A thief (Kay Francis) wants swipe the original and replace it with her friend's inferior copy. Arabella wants to replace the original with her boyfriend's well-made copy to show off his work. The Professor (Harpo) and the Italian (Chico) are just around to run interference and chase women.

Despite the early talkie stiffness, this is one of my favorite early Marx Brothers movies. There's some prime gags here, including Groucho's card game with Dumont and Harpo running after every girl in a five mile radius. Plus, it introduced one of the best-known songs in any Marx Brothers movie.

 (This was, by the way, my first Marx Brothers movie. My family used to rent this on occasion from what was then Perry Street Video when we lived in West Cape May in the early 90's. I've been a Marx Brothers fan ever since.)

The stiffness makes this more for fans than casual views, but if you love the Marxes like I do, put this one at the top of your must-see list.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

All Summer Long

Started the day at work. Wish I hadn't. It was frustrating. I would start a job, and then I'd get called up front to go in for a cashier or take the one customer on the end of the line. We were dead all day. I didn't understand why the managers kept calling me until later. I finally asked the floral department manager (who was also constantly getting paged) what was going on. Evidently, the woman running the customer service desk had gone home sick, which threw the other managers into a panic when they had to take the desk. Ironically, for all the fussing, we were never more than mildly steady all morning. I was so happy when I finally rolled out around 1.

Went straight home. Had leftovers for lunch while watching two bizarre Danger Mouse shorts from its first season. The leaders of countries around the world seem to "Die Laughing" when they're attacked by a plague of red bugs. It turns out the bugs are tickle viruses sent by Baron Greenback to eliminate all world leaders and let him take over. Danger Mouse and Penfold have to scale a statue (of Lord Nelson) to foil his plan.

"The Dream Machine," a cloud that creates nightmares, first kidnaps Colonel K, then Danger Mouse and Penfold when they go after him. The two secret agents make their way through a surreal landscape of their worst fears that looks more like it belongs on Monty Python's Flying Circus than a kid's cartoon.

Worked on my fanfic for several hours, and for another hour later this evening. Leia and Han catch sight of a commotion at the entrance to Maz's. The Imperial Gang has raided the boardwalk and is shoving customers away. Maz tells them to get out. Ben tries quieter persuasion. Vader finally crosses the line when he starts flirting with Leia, getting on Han and Luke's goat, while his men pick on nerds Chip and Arturro. No one is thrilled, least of all Han, but before he can take a swing at Vader, Charlie's big hand yanks Vader back. The oversized Brit basically tells Vader and his men to get out, or else. But Vader had another reason for starting an altercation besides wanting to be a jerk...

Broke around 5:30 to run a few errands. Started at Dad and Jodie's. They're going on vacation to visit friends in Georgia and northern Florida starting tomorrow. They'll be gone until the 21st. That's why Dad wanted to close the pool now, despite it still being warm. (That and the leaves are really starting to come down.) I wanted to wish them "bon voyage" and get to chat with them one last time before they went. Got to say "hi" to Dana and one of the neighbors, too. They were about to order Chinese for dinner. I had other plans for dinner, so I moved along.

(I also needed to finally bring back the plastic containers I used for my leftovers at Dad's birthday party in late July. They've been on my kitchen table for almost two months. Every time I wanted to take them back, I'd be in a hurry and forget.)

Made a quick stop at CVS next. I had a few coupons for conditioner. I ended up using the one for the new Whole Blends, the coconut oil/cocoa butter blend. They had Jiff peanut butter on a decent sale. I grabbed the Natural Creamy.

It was a wonderful night for a ride. It had been hot all day, into the lower 90's. The dry air and cool breeze made the high temperature a lot more bearable than it had been in the summer. I really, really wish it would rain. Every time the weather reports say rain, it just passes us by. Even that Labor Day tropical storm missed us. I'm hoping we get something from the next round.

When I got home, I made Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip and sweet yellow Jersey corn on the cob for dinner. Watched American Grafitti as I ate. The last night of summer 1962 proves to be life-changing for four guys in a typical small southern California town. The high school president (Ron Howard) claims he wants to go to college, but it would mean leaving behind his steady girl (Cindy Williams). Her brother (Richard Dreyfuss) spends the night chasing a stunning blond in a Thunderbird (Suzanne Summers). The local greaser (Paul Le Mat) is challenged to a race by an obnoxious newcomer (Harrison Ford) and finds himself taking care of a feisty 13-year-old (MacKenzie Phillips). Their younger geek buddy (Charles Martin Smith) scores a statuesque blond (Candy Clark), but loses the car he gets her in. And all through the night, mysterious DJ Wolfman Jack (himself) takes requests and plays the music that shapes these kids' past, present...and future.

The grandfather of every 20th-century-set ensemble film, from Pirate Radio to Dazed and Confused. This was George Lucas' first big hit, and it launched the careers of much of its young cast (and helped launch Howard's adult career). Don't come in expecting a plot - it's really just a succession of scenes of the kids cruising, dancing, drinking, and making love to the tune of some of the most popular songs of the late 50's-early 60's. (The soundtrack album is recommended too - the music really is fabulous.)

If you're a fan of ensemble comedies, early rock, or any of the cast, this one is a favorite of mine and is very recommended.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I awoke to a sunny morning...and noisy cursing downstairs from Charlie. I ran more school-themed Tiny Toon Adventures to drown him out. "Son of Looniversity Daze" returns us to dear old Acme Loo, where the students have devils over their heads when they cheat and lockers are automated. The first story has Plucky switching his name on a pop quiz from Foghorn Leghorn for Egghead Jr's. He spends the rest of the short wracked with guilt over his choice. Hampton goes solo in the second, where he has to deal with an obnoxious computerized locker that won't give up his lunch. Buster, Hampton, and Plucky team up for the third, a riff on the Laurel & Hardy short "The Music Box." The boys have to figure out how to get a piano that was (for some reason) dropped on the roof down to the auditorium for a recital.

Spent the rest of the morning trying to figure out my finances. They were grim. I don't make much money. Even just paying two bills and groceries pretty much wipes out most of what I make in a month. I can only cut so many expenses. I don't pay for the water or electricity, just the internet. I'm not sure how I'd handle getting a second job. I need to figure out how to sell my work or find a decent office that needs help.

Switched to washing the windows around quarter of 1. I had to refill the window washer bottle. I bought a refill bottle for it ages ago. It may have saved me money (especially since the giant bottle came from Dollar Tree), but I regret it now. It took up tons of room in the back and was messy to pour in the smaller bottle. I think, from now on, I'll just replace the bottle of window washing liquid when it runs out. It's not like I use a lot, anyway.

Finally headed out for my errands run around 1. First stop was Friendly's for lunch. They're still having that Comb-Ohh! deal that gives you a sandwich and fries and a one-scoop dish of ice cream for $9.99. I had the BBQ Bacon Burger, fries, and a dish of Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream with marshmallow sauce for lunch. The burger was ok, pretty much just a basic burger with bacon and a little barbecue sauce slathered on. The ice cream was amazing. I love cinnamon, and this was divine, with tons of pastry pieces and huge swirls of cinnamon sugar.

Friendly's was mostly dead by then, but I did get to see the most adorable little girl run around. She played "peek-a-boo" behind the seats with her daddy, ran up and down the aisle, and inspected salt and pepper shakers. It would have been more of a problem if it was busy, but given how quiet it was, she came off as more cute than annoying. The two older couples there didn't seem to mind her, either. (One pair was just getting ice cream anyway)

Made a quick stop at Dollar Tree next. I just needed sponges. I would have loved to have taken a look at the Halloween decorations, but not only do I not have the money, but it's too early to think Halloween. For once, the line wasn't that bad. I was in and out in five minutes.

I wasn't at the Haddon Township Library that long, either. Between the nice day and the kids being back in school, there just wasn't much to do. Plus there was a sign indicating that DVDs were not to be shelved. I compromised and just did the kids' titles. It's easy to tell the kids are in school now. The DVD racks in the children's area were all full, to the point where I had to do some creative reshuffling to get them in.

I didn't take out any movies this week. For one thing, I never got to one of the movies I rented last week. I really want to concentrate on cleaning, writing, and figuring out my finances. To the latter end, I did take out two books on money management.

Went home via Newton Lake Park. It was a glorious day for it. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and while it was warmer than it was yesterday, it still wasn't bad for early September. Surprisingly, they were fairly quiet. I guess the kids were still getting out of school at that point.

Went straight on the computer when I got in. I managed to pull away from all the distractions online long enough to introduce the droid characters to my narrative. Here, the "droids" are a pair of nerds from Europe. Chip Thompson is a tall, thin geek from England with huge round glasses and very shiny blond hair. Arturro Detonski is a short, stocky fellow from an unnamed Eastern European country. Arturro doesn't speak English well, and Chip, who is studying languages, is the only one in the group who can understand him.

Finished the night quietly with a leftover chicken leg and Chinese beans. Switched from the Miles Davis and George Benson I listened to this morning to more K-Tel albums to cover Charlie's continued cursing and blasting 80's music.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Shadows Prove the Sunshine

I was so thrilled to awaken to mid-70's temperatures, blue skies, and cool wind this morning after it was so hot last week. I was not as thrilled with waking up to Charlie cursing his brains out downstairs. I ran more K-Tel records to drown him out.

Finally made it to the laundromat around 11:30. While it was busy, there were plenty of washers open. Good thing, because I had a ton of laundry to do today, including towels and the spring/summer place mats before I put them away for the season. I sat at the chairs under the windows and read a copy of Real Simple from last winter and worked on story notes.

When I got home, I finally delivered the last of last month's rent to my neighbors, then put away the pile of clothes and linens I'd just washed. By the time I got done with that, it was so late, I barely had the time to eat! I had to rush out to work and make it just on time.

Work was on-and-off busy. It was the end of a 4-day sale. The nice weather probably kept it from being as busy as it could have been. I ended up in the register twice, but I mostly gathered carts and boxes of plastic bags and shelved items.

As soon as I got home, I changed and started dinner. Kept things very simple with chicken legs poached in white wine and water-based broth and boiled Chinese beans. I think I'll steam or saute the beans next time. Boiling really ruins their flavor. The chicken came out a bit better, when it finally cooked all the way.

Decided I wanted to make a cake next while the weather was cooperating. Grabbed a can of apricots and that clearance box of Pink Velvet cake mix and made Pink Apricot Cake. Yum. It came out rather nicely. The apricot complimented both the smoothness and the bright cotton-candy color of the cake.

Watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 while I ate and baked. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Laurence) is fighting mad after she discovers how President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his government brainwashed her beloved Peeta (Josh Hutchinson). She insists on leading several dangerous missions, including one to take down Snow in the Capitol, despite President Coin (Julianne Moore) seeing her as more of a figurehead. Coin's assistant Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) understands better - she's the last hope of the rebellion to convince others to join them. But Katniss discovers the hard way that there's more to Coin's "rebellion" than meets the eye, especially when the staggering losses become personal...

I definitely enjoyed this one more than last year's dark and slow-moving Part 1. I figured out what Coin was up to well before Katniss or any of the the last movie. I really liked the ending, though. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it's these characters.

Once again, this one is for teens on up who enjoy dark movies about post-apocalyptic futures a lot more than I do.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fly Like an Eagle

It was beautiful when I threw open my front door this morning, sunny and windy, warm and a little humid but not nearly as bad as the last few days. I celebrated with Plum Ginger Pancakes and the soundtrack to the movie version of Hairspray. There's a lot that I like on here, including the new songs "Ladies' Choice" and "Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)" and John Travolta and Christopher Walken's version of "You're Timeless to Me." (Who knew they'd make such a cute couple?)

Thankfully after all the trouble I had yesterday, work went much better today. I did get stuck in the register for about 20 minutes or so after I arrived. I got in at noon, and the first Eagles game of the season was at 1. Thankfully, once the game began, the crowd thinned out. Spent the rest of the afternoon gathering carts and baskets and cleaning up the still-messy freezer leaks.

And speaking of the Eagles game, that went very well. I got to see the end of the first quarter during break, and the last five minutes or so after work. The Eagles' just-promoted young quarterback Carson Wentz threw his first touchdown. They were already up 10-7 over the Cleveland Browns when I watched the game the first time. They eventually went on to win their opening game and their home opener 29-10.

When I got home, I worked on writing for a while. Han and Leia are left to their own devices while Charlie hits the newest steel coaster at Maz's and Luke and Wedge hit the wooden coaster. Leia gets Hank on the enchanting double-decker carousel. Hank tells her about his dealings with local gangster Jasper Hutt, and Leia explains why she's getting involved with helping Ben against Empire Industries.

 Had a quick chicken salad and Persian Cucumber Salad dinner while listening to more music. Did the soundtrack to Grease first. Though my favorite of the better-known hits are the classic ensemble numbers "Summer Nights" and "We Go Together," the most fascinating aspect of the CD I have is the lesser-known or background music. A lot of the background songs are from the original show - an instrumental "Alone at a Drive In Movie," "Freddy My Love," and "It's Raining on Prom Night." (The last-named is part of why this used to be my official "getting ready for dances" CD in high school and college.)

I also did one of the K-Tel pop collections. I love these. They're some of my favorite record finds. There's so many great lesser-known songs of the 70's and early 80's on them. They're like LP versions of the Have a Nice Day Rhino CD series from the 90's (and feature many of the same songs).

And a quiet acknowledgement here of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I was beginning my first day of my last semester in college the day the planes struck in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. I wrote more about my memories of that day on last year's 9/11 entry, Memories On a Busy Day.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Animals of Delta House

Ugh. Work was a pain today. One of the baggers called out sick, which meant I spent a lot of the morning either on my own or with one other guy helping me. The leaks are getting worse and spreading like crazy. I thought changing the sandbags would help...but every time I tried, I'd get called to do something else. I don't mind rounding up carts, but I think the baskets could have waited. I didn't get to them until a little over an hour before I was done, and I wasn't nearly able to gather all of them. (In my defense, we really don't have enough sandbags left to cover all of them. Besides the sheer numbers, at least a quarter of the sandbags have split and are losing their fluffy gray filling, making them more of a mess than a help.) My fingers and the keys to the back door accidentally rubbed against a fly trap hanging next to it, leaving them very sticky. It didn't help that it was killer hot and humid today, too.

I jumped right in the shower when I got home. Between the glue on the fly trap, the funky water dripping off the sand bags, and the constant in and out all day, I needed it badly. I normally wait until after dinner to shower, but I felt so grungy, I just couldn't wait.

After I got out, I spent the next couple of hours writing. Maz Kantana is the owner of Marine Adventure Pier, a boardwalk amusement park. Leia asks her if she's had any offers for her property lately. Yes she has, from a bony, gray-haired old man in an expensive suit who came very close to harassing her. Luke just wants to hear her stories about their parents and brother Adam.

Broke around quarter of 7 for a simple dinner of scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Watched National Lampoon's Animal House as I ate. The year is 1962, and the Delta fraternity just brought in their newest initiates. Delta House is just about the wackiest - and worst - fraternity on campus. They chase half the girls on campus, party all night, play pranks on everyone, and ignore their grades. They're also the home to goofy misfits the snobbish Omega fraternity wouldn't touch, like Bluto (James Belushi), whose greatest achievements are smashing a beer can on his head and starting an epic food fight. The dean (John Vernon) has had it up to here with their antics and finally get them thrown out. But the Deltas aren't going to go down without a fight...and before you can say "Toga toga toga!", they're taking over the homecoming parade and proving that misfits do have a place, even on college campuses.

This ended up being a very pleasant surprise. It's a lot darker than I thought it would be, and fairly honest about its protagonists' behavior. In real life, the Deltas wouldn't have gotten away with almost anything they did and probably would have been expelled years ago. No one's a saint here, not the dean (he's a jerk about it, but he is just doing his job) or either fraternity, or even the girls. (One girl who ends up chasing the horniest guy is a lot younger than she claims - another is cheating on a Delta with her teacher.) A scene with a couple of the Deltas and their dates ending up in a black bar may be as uncomfortable for many modern viewers as it is for them (but for different reasons).

On the other hand, this is mainly known for some of its wilder comedy scenes, especially the toga party. And for all the cast members who later became famous, by far the most remembered thing about this is John Belushi. His lovable, party-hearty man child steals every scene he's in. (I also liked the guy with the mustache, D-Day, whom no one seems to know anything about and tends to pair with Bluto a lot.)

Some sex, nudity, and a lot of swearing make this for older teenagers and real college-age young adults on up. (This movie is still pretty popular on college campuses to this day. I knew a lot of guys at Stockton who had at least one poster of Bluto on their walls.) If you love snobs-vs-slobs comedies or college tales, throw on a sheet and join the toga party.

Friday, September 09, 2016

In the Swim

Started off a sunny, hazy day with a school-themed episode of Tiny Toon Adventures as I ate breakfast and made the bed. "Looniversity Days" is an anthology of three shorts related to the Toons' place of learning. In the first story, Buster is sent to the principal's office for goofing off in Yosemite Sam's class. He's heard rumors of the terror that is the head of Acme Loo, but he quickly discovers that the intimidating dean isn't all he appears to be. Sweetie spends the second story chasing Bookworm around the library, hoping to have a learned worm lunch. The third has Nurse Elmyra in pursuit of Plucky, who has lied about being sick to get out of Foghorn Leghorn's pop quiz.

Worked on my story for the next couple of hours. I went back and added another antagonist - Peter Tarkin, Empire Industries' smarmy lawyer. He appears to try to buy the properties after the Imperial Gang has wrecked havoc. He shows up on Ben's front porch after the attack at the beach. Ben has dealt with him before. He once again throws him off his property. Leia and the crew of the Ghost see Tarkin join the Gang at the former Organa Island as well.

Headed out to run errands around quarter of 1. First stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. Not much going on. They were an hour from closing. It was mainly me, the librarian, another volunteer, and a couple of older women. I organized the DVDs and shelved some children's books before heading out.

Next on the agenda was lunch. I had considered Sonic, but it was 95 degrees outside. While it wasn't nearly as humid as it has been all summer, that's still too hot for eating outside. I stopped at Viola's International Deli and had their Chicken Parmesan Sandwich lunch special inside. Watched The Chew make a back-to-school burger and slaw recipe as I enjoyed my messy, cheese-laden hoagie and my can of Diet Mountain Dew.

Headed off to the Acme next to do grocery shopping. I didn't really need much. There was a really good sale on chicken this week. I got thighs and another pack of legs. Found a small, inexpensive container of shrimp, too. Restocked dark red kidney and navy beans, sugar (on a good sale), and white vinegar. Bought mini-muffins and Irwin's Spiced Wafers for snacks this weekend, since it's going to be too hot to bake again, and nectarines to make up for not being able to go to the Collingswood Farm Market tomorrow.

Pretty decent schedule this week. All short shifts and (except for Monday) early or mid-afternoon hours, Tuesday and next Saturday off. I really didn't have much planned for next week anyway besides writing, finishing the cleaning, and hanging up the fall decorations. Things should be quieter at work once the kids settle into classes and the heat dies down.

Put everything away as soon as I got home. When the last can was in the pantry, I gathered the rag rug in my bedroom and the entrance mat to air on the porch, then vacuumed. It didn't take me longer than 20 minutes. The apartment isn't in too bad of shape, but I did want to get up some of the hair that tends to accumulate.

Changed into my bathing suit and went to Dad's around quarter after 4. Rose and Khai were already there when I arrived, along with Jodie, Dad, Dana, and Jesse. Khai was eating an early pasta dinner while watching cartoons when I came in. I got bored with The Amazing Adventures of Gumball and went outside to hit the pool and talk to Dad instead.

The pool was cooler than the last time I was in, but not cold, probably in the lower 80's. Today was the pool's last hurrah for the season. Dad said he intends to close it tomorrow, before he and Jodie go on vacation next week.

The kids joined me later. Khai's friend Chloe and her brother came first, followed by Mary and her sister. They dived underwater and clung to bright-colored foam noodles and vinyl flotation devices. I laughed as they splashed and chased each other. Mary happily told me about she and her friends shopping without their parents for the first time. Chloe talked about stuffed animals and cartoons.

When the kids got tired of swimming, we all sat on towels on the brick patio and the grassy yard. Rose and Chloe's mom brought out lots of toys and stuffed animals. Chloe had Frozen dolls and the Descendants Evie doll and a beautiful Barbie in a fancy white gown. Khai hauled around a huge two-foot stuffed deer that was bigger than he was! Mary enjoyed the fruits of her shopping trip - a can of fancy gold putty and a box of popcorn-flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans.

After the moms got the kids ready for dinner, I headed out. Stopped at Phillies Yummies on West Clinton for a treat. I've had good luck with chocolate banana flavors lately. Their Chocolate-Banana ice cream was just as good, creamy and sweet. It really hit the spot on such a hot day.

Finished up at home, eating shrimp and fruit for dinner and watching an episode of Garfield and Friends. Garfield's imagination soars when Jon leaves him a "Box 'O Fun," but Jon needs quiet to study for night school and keeps interrupting his daydreams. Orson Pig is having even more problems with his imagination running away with him in "Unidentified Flying Orson." A trick from Roy and a scary sci-fi movie has him thinking cheese danishes are really aliens in disguise. Lanolin the grumpy sheep sets him right. Jon puts Garfield into obedience school in "School Daze," but this "school" is more like a prison. Garfield turns the tables on the militant woman who runs the school.