Monday, October 31, 2016

This Is Halloween

Began a gorgeous Halloween with a couple of animated specials. "Spook-a-Nanny" was the only original cartoon created for the 1960's Woody Woodpecker Show. Woody's spent the whole episode blowing up balloons for his boss Walter Lantz. He's looking forward to a party with other Lanz stars like Chilly Willy and Buzz Buzzard. They play pranks to keep him out. He goes in with a ghost band, but he can't go through the walls like they can.

Moved to Winnie the Pooh while getting putting on my makeup and getting ready for work. Boo to You, Too! takes us to the Hundred Acre Woods on Halloween night. Pooh and the gang are getting ready to go trick-or-treating, but Piglet's not sure he wants to go. He's scared to death of Halloween. Pooh says they won't do Halloween this year in deference to their timid porcine pal. Tigger, Eeyore, and Gopher disagree. The crew tries to prove to Piglet that Halloween is really nothing to be afraid of.

I was a black cat witch this year. Wore my cat ears and the old tail Mom made for a school play in high school, plus my college graduation gown as a cape. Carried the fairy wand and Luna, my Webkinz black cat. Gave myself whiskers and a brown nose with makeup. I ditched the robe and wand for work and settled on being a black cat. It was dead when I came in and mildly steady when I left, but it suddenly got crazy around 11-12. A lot of people must have gotten out of work early to help with trick or treating or other Halloween festivities.

Spent most of the afternoon rounding up carts. Fine by me. It was a gorgeous day to be working outside. It was blustery blue and gold, just warm enough, probably in the upper 50's. Absolutely perfect weather for Halloween and late October. Couldn't have been nicer.

Found a wonderful surprise in my mailbox when I got home. One of my long-time readers sent me a lovely note of encouragement and a 20 dollar bill. Wow! They were anonymous; whomever you were, you don't know how much it was appreciated. Thank you so much! They said I was a talented writer, especially with my movie and TV reviews, and I needed to think more positive. Hard not to, with a sweet letter like that.

When I got in, I refreshed my makeup, pulled out the robe, and got organized. Ran one of the Max & Ruby Halloween episodes as I made my way around. "Ruby's Perfect Pumpkin" will be the best at Mr. Piazza's grocery store...if she can get Max to stop chasing candy long enough for her to pick one! Ruby wants "Max's Jack-O-Lantern" to have a happy face. Max has other ideas. Max hopes "Max's Big Boo" will scare his sister. Ruby isn't scared easily...but she does have a surprise for her brother.

Did Halloween Is Grinch Night as I rounded up my remaining costume items. A sour sweet wind sends the Grinch on the prowl with his cart filled with wild psychadelic scares. Young Eukeriah Who takes it upon himself to make sure that the Grinch never gets to Whoville.

Headed to Dad's house around 3:30. Trick or treating was already in full swing. I sat with Jodie outside for the next two hours, chatting with her, Jesse, and Dana, and handing out candy. I saw a lot of great costumes, including on Khai's buddies. Chloe was a gorgeous little angel in a frothy white gown. Bee was a soldier. Emmie was a ghostly bride, with ghoulish makeup done by her big sister. Mary was a huntress. Savannah was the most adorable Belle. Her older brother was a Power Ranger.  Khai himself was a Ghostbuster, complete with inflated "proton pack" backpack. He and Rose came along a bit later, after they'd walked around in their neighborhood by the school. Rose wasn't in costume, but Craig was a stormtrooper.

Had sloppy joes with Jodie, Dad, and Dana after trick-or-treating ended and it got too cold to sit outside. I got good news from the parents. Dad's done with chemotherapy at the moment. He's trying two new drugs that are in the experimental phase. Hopefully, they'll clear out the very little cancer left in his lung. (Jessa and Joe were supposed to come over for dinner. If they did, they came over after I made my exit.)

Went home briefly around quarter after 6 to use the bathroom and fix my makeup, then went right back out again. Oaklyn's Halloween Parade was supposed to be at 7. There was no one at the school where we were supposed to meet at quarter of 7. The parade didn't start until 7:30. The wait was worth it. There was a huge group of people waiting to follow the fire trucks down West Clinton Avenue. The kids were having a blast running around, even if their parents were getting weary trying to calm them down.

I loved all the great costumes. Still quite a few superheroes. I saw Iron Man, a tiny cute Wonder Woman, a small Buzz Lightyear, a toddler Captain America, Boba Fett, at least three Ninja Turtles, and Super Girl. A pair of chatty tween girls were Princess Twilight Sparkle and Princess Celestia from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. A grumpy-looking dad was a viking. Another group of pre-teen girls were dead princesses in tattered gowns. There were cops, a Pikachu in a full body costume, a baby Charlie Brown, two grim reapers, a noisy vampire, Chuckie from Child's Play, a ghoul in a gruesome green mask, two rag dolls (a kid and a dad dressed as Raggedy Ann), an absolutely adorable mini fire-woman in a home-made fire truck, three ladybugs, a bumblebee, Sir Topham Hatt from the Thomas the Tank Engine series in a "James" wagon, lots of soldiers, a dragon in a green cardboard box outfit, two angels, three girl devils, a mom Starbucks barista, a little pirate, an attractive older witch, an elderly flapper in a gorgeous purple dress, an evil queen, and a teen sorceress in a bright blue velvet cape.

Once again entered the adult division. I was about to step out when I tripped over an orange rubber traffic cone. My knee hit the tiles on the fire station floor hard, and I went sprawling. To my surprise, at least seven people, including kids, helped me to my feet. Thankfully, I was just sore. Nothing broken or damaged. I even won first place - two much-needed five dollar bills - and got a bag of candy. Walked home just fine, too.

After I got home, I hit the shower, then put on my favorite Halloween specials. Garfield's Halloween Adventure turns spooky when Garfield takes the pirate costumes he scrounged up for him and Odie seriously and hits the water. They end up marooned on an island, where the ghosts of real pirates are about to come looking for their treasure.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a tad quieter. The Peanuts are ready to celebrate Halloween with football fake-outs, leaf-covered lollipops, parties, and trick-or-treating. Linus spends his night in a "sincere" pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin, who will bring all the good kids treats. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Charlie Brown has his own problems with trick-or-treat. Snoopy spends the evening battling the Red Baron.

Moved to Arsenic and Old Lace next. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) just got married to the girl next door (Priscilla Lane) on Halloween night. His wedding night is about to take a turn to the spooky when he comes home to his maiden aunts' house to tell them about his new bride. They may look like sweet old ladies, but they have a macabre streak - they've been poisoning old men and burring them in the basement. His uncle, who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt (John Alexander), believes he's digging the Panama Canal when he buries them. Mortimer's psychotic brother Johnathan (Raymond Massey) and the quack physician who did his face lift (Peter Lorre) and a gregarious local cop (Jack Carson) show up later and cause even more chaos. All the while, a poor taxi driver is waiting outside, wondering if he's ever going to have a job...or if the entire borough of Brooklyn has gone insane.

If you're looking for Halloween viewing that's a little spooky but not bloody, this hilarious black comic farce is absolutely worth checking out. It's worth looking up for Cary Grant's amazed facial expressions alone. John Alexander's delusional Teddy and his bugle steal the show.

Finished the evening with the most famous of the Bowery Boys horror comedies, The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters. The Gravesends happen to own a lot that would be perfect for the kids in the Bowery to play ball on. Sach and Slip call on them to sign it over, but they have other ideas. The family includes a vampiress who wants their blood, at least two scientist who want what little brain they have, and a strange aunt who is determined to feed them to her hungry man-eating plant!

And here's hoping you had an equally fun and surprising Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Autumn Was Warm

Began a sunny and rather warm day with Zucchini Pancakes (made to use up the last of an old zucchini) and more Halloween specials. Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile is a rarity from the late 70's. The rag dolls cheer up a little boy by bringing him an unhappy jack-o-lantern who thinks he'll be overlooked on Halloween night. But first, they have to get past the boy's grumpy Aunt Agatha, who refuses to let him join the spooky fun.

Switched to the Looney Tunes as I did the dishes. Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special is another collection of bits and pieces, revolving around Witch Hazel chasing Bugs. No full shorts, but it does at least use horror and Halloween-themed sequences that fit the holiday.

My DVD copy comes with the classic short "Hair-Raising Hare." Bugs has his first encounter with Gossamer the Monster when he's lured to a castle by a mad scientist who wants Gossamer to have a rabbit lunch.

Did a couple of shorts as I made Zucchini Muffins and got ready for work. Popeye and Olive are "Spooky Swabs" in one of the last of the Famous Studios Popeye shorts. They find themselves marooned on a ship, surrounded by ghosts who really don't want them there! Popeye uses spinach to make short work of them. It's a "Fright to the Finish" when Bluto spends his Halloween making Olive believe Popeye is the one trying to scare her. Popeye proves you don't need spinach to turn the tables. He claims that "I Don't Scare," but Olive is superstitious. Bluto tries to scare Olive out of going on a date with his rival.

"The Flying Sorceress" is a later Tom & Jerry short from the 50's, and almost a solo outing for Tom. Tired of being yelled at by his owner for the mess he and Jerry make, he moves out. His new human turns out to be a witch, completely with broomstick. Tom thinks he'll have a little fun flying...but the witch doesn't like that one bit!

Work was very busy all day. The Eagles didn't play until later, but we are coming up on the beginning of the month. They had me bagging early on, at least until that one new manager went home and his replacement realized the carts were totally empty. Even having three people outside at one point couldn't keep them full. They pulled me in again after lunch, but it didn't last long. The carts just kept vanishing. It wasn't until around 3:30 that it really started to slow down even a little.

At least it was a nice day for gathering carts. In fact, it was really too warm. It was supposed to rain later, but at that point, it was sunny and breezy and hazy. It was more like mid-late spring than mid-late fall.

When I got home, I went on the computer to do a little writing. Luke explains to the kids what he's doing there and what really happened to Andrew Waller and his wife Patricia. It was a mistake. Ben Kenobi didn't mean to hit Andrew into the fire. The First Order Gang - and most of the area - has it all wrong. Simon Palpatine manipulated Waller, using the new mind-control methods of several of his proteges, including Snoke. Waller, under the name Darren Veder, was corrupt, easily bribed, and completely ruthless...and totally under Palpatine's thumb.

Luke is about to tell them about his school when Snap gasps and goes to get the others. There's a strange apparition seemingly floating down the hallway...and it looks like Poe...

It was still sunny when I got home, and well into the early evening. I really have no idea where the storm came from. One moment, there was a beautiful red and purple sunset out my window. The next, raging wind was blowing the door to the back room open and I was shutting windows that were now letting torrents of rain in. I even heard thunder at one point. The rain didn't last that long. All that's left at press time is heavy gusts.

Broke around 6:30 to have leftovers for dinner. Ran Mad Monster Party? as I ate. This is one of the few full-length stop-motion movies done by animation studio Rankin-Bass, best-known for their holiday specials. Dr. Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) wants to bring together all the famous monsters of filmdom for a convention. He plans to announce he's going to turn over his role as head of the monsters and all his secrets - including a new formula that could destroy life - to his nephew Felix Flanken (Allan Swift). His comely assistant Francesca (Gale Garnett) and the monster and his mate (Phyllis Diller) are jealous and will do anything to make sure Felix doesn't inherit. Their schemes backfire. Felix is a nerdy pharmacist who doesn't really want the job anyway. He and Francesca have to escape the others when she calls the one monster who could really do some damage.

This is one of the most bizarre animated films I've ever seen. When Phyllis Diller is the least-strange thing on the screen, you know you're in for a wild time. Jokes about the odd plot aside, this actually has some really nice animation, even better than Rankin-Bass' usual TV work, and surprisingly catchy music. (I'm especially fond of Francesca's two songs, "It's Our Time to Shine" and "There's Never Been a Love Like Ours.") If you like horror and the Universal monster stable and are willing to try something a little outside the box, this campy black horror comedy is worth digging around for.

Finished the night with The Monkees. Rankin-Bass aren't the only ones in the mid-60's who had fun with the Universal monster roster. The wacky boy band has a close encounter with a group of monsters who have lured Davy into a trap in the second-season episode "Monstrous Monkee Mash." Mike Nesmith finds himself having to rescue his three friends from becoming the proteges of Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein's monster.

Tried something a little different while the Monkees were on. Betty Crocker's Cooky Book also has recipes for candy. I've wanted to try Pudding Clusters for years. It's just pudding, sugar, evaporated milk, and nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips. I used the pumpkin pudding I had from last year and added spices (I have no raisins or chocolate chips) to make Pumpkin-Spice Pudding Candy. Unfortunately, I ended up burning the bottom of the pan. Seemed to have come out well enough, if very sticky. It was too goopy to put into clusters, so I took their alternate suggestion and firmed it up in a pan instead. I hope it tastes ok. I want to give it to Khai and his buddies from the neighborhood as a special treat tomorrow.

Oh, and darn it! The Eagles just barely lost in overtime to the Cowboys, 29-23.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Disney's Scary Tales

Started a blustery late morning with two horror-themed Disney shorts. "The Mad Doctor" is a classic black-and-white Mickey tale. Mickey wants to rescue Pluto from the title character, who is going to turn him into a Franken-pup! But it's Mickey himself who may need saving in the end.

"Runaway Brain" is a rare Mickey short from the mid-90's. "The Mad Doctor" was far from Mickey's only encounter with the darker side of science. He needs money for a vacation with Minnie, so he takes an offer for a "mindless day's work." He ends up having a run-in with another crazed doctor (Kelsey Grammer). This one switches Mickey's brain with his monster's (who looks a lot like Big Pete). Now Mickey has to get his body back and convince Minnie he's who he claims he is.

I had just enough time to rush to the Collingswood Farm Market to pick up what little I could afford. They were packed when I got there at quarter of 11, despite the chilly winds and missing tables. People were stocking up for Halloween parties and after trick-or-treat meals. Several farm stands are on their last week. The Farm Market itself only has a few weeks left. It usually ends the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Eggplants, pears, and cucumbers are gone, but there's still several items on display. I just ended up with small Fuji apples, cranberries, and an onion.

As soon as I got home, I put everything away, packed lunch, and rushed out to work. The Acme wasn't too busy when I got in, but it picked up as the afternoon went on and everyone came out of the yard sales and farm markets. I surprisingly spent most of it bagging and fetching things for cashiers and managers. I don't think the new front end manager knows what to do with me. He fussed over my doubling bags and not using stray bags. (First of all, I told him I prefer to use the stray bags. Second, has he ever actually bagged for an Acme? Our bags are very thin. You have to double the bags, or they break.)

I did get some good out of today. My schedule for next week is not bad. I work early on Halloween, the earliest I've worked that day in years. I'll be able to not only go to Oaklyn's Halloween Parade, but help Dad and Jodie hand out candy at their house. Tuesday and Friday off again, slightly more hours than I have been getting.

A $5 gift card for good customer service allowed me to buy the remaining groceries I couldn't afford yesterday. The Acme's generic cereals are on a big sale. I went with Shredded Wheat. Found whole wheat pasta and molasses on the clearance shelves. Picked up mushrooms, which were much cheaper there than at the Farm Market. Treated myself to two Coconut Nests to fill out the card.

When I made it home, I went on the computer to work on my story. Charles takes Rey, Snap, and Kaydel down the hall to find out who's making the spooky noises. It turns out that the creaks and moans were made by a golden robot with a red arm, C-3PO, to be exact. The cackling laughter was made by the missing Luke Waller. Charles is delighted to see him. The kids are in awe. Rey hands him his parents' scrapbook from the living room.

Broke around 6:30 to have leftovers for dinner. Watched The Black Cauldron as I ate. This unusual 1984 Disney fantasy takes us to the land of Prydain, which is ruled by the frighteningly evil Horned King (John Hurt) and his followers. Taran, an assistant pig-keeper, is determined to become a warrior and defeat this monstrous monarch...but he never expects to go on an adventure that involves him with fairies, witches, an oracular pig, a sassy princess with a magic bauble, and the fabled Black Cauldron, the only object that can end the Horned King's terrible reign.

I fondly remember seeing this at the Beach Theater in Cape May when I was about five years old. I don't know if I'd take a five-year-old to see it today. This high fantasy tale is fairly violent and very spooky. The sequence with the army of the undead in particular is genuinely terrifying. While the characters are kind of bland (especially Taran), the animation is actually quite well-done. If you have older kids or young teens who are fantasy and/or horror fans and think they've seen every Disney movie, try this one on them.

Switched to Disney's Halloween Treat as I turned that Caramel Apple cake mix into Caramel Apple-Oatmeal Cake, thanks to two old and wrinkly apples I had sitting in the wire fruit basket. My family recorded this now-rare Disney Channel special around 1988, and I've watched it every October since. A collection of bits and sequences from Disney shorts and animated films that highlight villains or horror are joined by four shorts in near-full ("The Old Mill," "Donald and the Gorilla," "Lonesome Ghosts," "Trick Or Treat") and two segments from the old Disneyland/Walt Disney Presents anthology show. One details the cat's contribution to horror and the supernatural. The other has Hans Conried as the Magic Mirror introducing bits showcasing Disney's most famous villains. (I like the inclusion of Madame Medusa of The Rescuers, a truly nasty villain whom I don't think gets nearly enough credit from Disney fans.)

If you have this hiding in your family's recordings or can dig it up online and are a Disney fan, it's recommended. In all honesty, other than "Trick or Treat," it doesn't really have much to do with Halloween. The segments are fun, though, especially the villain short.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Let's Do the Limbo Rock

It was gloriously sunny when I got up this morning. Started a nippy day with two spooky episodes of Perfect Strangers as I ate breakfast. Larry has his second of three nightmare sequences on the show in the fourth season tale "Aliens." He stays up all Halloween night watching horror movies, then dreams that Balki's an otherworldly visitor bent on conquering the Earth. "Fright Night" from the seventh season has the duo trying to rid their new home of the ghost of a gambler whom non-believer Larry has insulted.

Headed to the Acme to do what little grocery shopping I could afford and change the coins in my little coin cup for cash. It was barely half-full, but I really need the money. I just paid my rent today. I was able to pay it in full, but it completely wiped out most of what was in all three of my accounts. I got fifteen dollars out of it. I had enough left in checking to buy eggs (which have been a LOT cheaper than they were at this time last year), brown sugar, one container of Greek yogurt, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. (They're always late putting out the schedule. I'll get that tomorrow.)

Went home for lunch. Put on Tiny Toon Adventures while I ate Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins for lunch. "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain" from the fourth season spoofs the B-horror movies of the 1950's and 60's (even including a spoof of the old American International movie logo). Babs, Shirley, and Fifi are having a get-together in a cabin in the woods. Buster, Plucky, and Hampton dress as a local monster urban legend to scare them. The girls try to get even...but they all end up on the run when the real monster appears!

Was off to the Oaklyn Library after lunch. Stopped at West Clinton Avenue first to see if Studio LuLoo was open. Not only was it not open, but Viola's International Deli seems to have closed permanently - they were dark and totally empty. Wow, wonder what happened there? That's two local food stores that went out of business without warning in the past two weeks. I can understand Thriftway's demise. They never seemed to be that busy. Viola's was only been open a year, and I thought it was pretty popular. I often saw people ordering hoagies and lunch there.

The Oaklyn Library had quite a few people at computers or reading for quarter of 1. There was quite a bit to do, too. I gave the DVDs a quick look (didn't want to disrupt the people reading), then went over the kids' area. Organized the series books and shelved the board books for babies and toddlers.

Newton Lake Park was stunning today. The weather was perfect for autumn, blustery and chilly and bright blue. The trees are finally turning brilliant shades of crimson, gold, lime green, and russet. The bottle-green lake sparkled under the warm late-afternoon sunshine. Surprisingly for such a nice day, they weren't too busy. The wind and it being about 2 PM probably helped.

Haddon Township Library wasn't really busy when I arrived, either. They were in the midst of doing their book inventory, so I stuck to shelving DVDs. There were a lot to do, too. It took me an hour to do the kids', adults', and non-fiction titles. I didn't take out any movies or cartoons this week (I have plenty to watch for Halloween, and I want to concentrate on finishing my current story anyway), but I did find a really nice storybook for The Force Awakens.

Stopped at Family Dollar really fast on my way home. Their mandarin orange bowls are cheaper than the Acme's. I forgot tissues there, too. I need those badly. My allergies have been a pain for weeks. I've been constantly sneezing and sniffling, even after taking the Acme's generic version of Allegra.

Went on the computer as soon as I got in to do some story work. I revised the confrontation between Ben and Hank to give Rey more of a reason for tackling him. When Ben hits Hank into the railing, the old wood gives way, and he falls over. He's lucky he lands on a couch, but he's still dazed and sore. Finn goes after him first, but Ben cheap-shots him in the stomach. That finally sets off Rey. She's fed up with his bullying and his spoiled, selfish behavior. It takes Leia and most of the kids to drag the girl off him.

Charles runs upstairs in shock, telling them that Hank is gone. No sooner has he said that then they hear rattling chains and the crazy, cackling clown laugh that scared them all off before. Leia knows that laugh is familiar. She separates the kids into teams. Half will go with Charles to find the source of that laugh. The other half will go with her to get Poe out of the basement and find Hank. Ben and his buddies take off in the confusion.

Jodie called me while I was writing. She was making lasagna. Would I like to come over for dinner? Sure! My only dinner plans were leftovers. I finally made it over around 6:30. They were already quite full, with Rose, Khai, Dana, and several neighbors. I enjoyed warm, cheesy lasagna, Caesar salad, and Italian bread with butter. Dana put up 12-year-old Mary's hair into an elegant French braid for a party she was going to. She did very well - the girl looked lovely.

Went outside and watched Chloe, Khai, Emmie, and Bee (one of the boys in the neighborhood) run around for a while as their mothers talked on the porch. My goodness, did they have energy! They finally called them in when it got too dark for playing outside, and they went in the street one too many times.

The kids ran around in the living room for a while, watching SpongeBob Squarepants episodes and playing with Jessa's old Beanie Babies collection and Legos. While I still wish Nick wouldn't run this show to death, they did have a few cute episodes on tonight, including the first Halloween show. Spongebob wants to dress as a ghost, but his square corners make it hard for him to do the sheet thing. Patrick tries to cut him down to make him look more spooky. When Davy Jones, the fearsome pirate ghost, arrives at the Krusty Krab, he discovers that Patrick may have done too good of a job!

The kids had been begging their mothers all night to play Limbo. I had no idea Limbo was so big among elementary schoolers. Jodie and one of the neighborhood moms held a cue stick (leftover from the old pool table that used to be in the den) while the kids, Dana, and Rose went under it. (I'm not that flexible. I watched and laughed.) I can't believe how good Dana was. She was one of the last ones out. Bee finally won, to Khai's disappointment. (He kept insisting Bee cheated.)

And I still have that darn Limbo Rock song stuck in my head. Someone pulled it up on an iPad and played it throughout the game.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Monster Tales and Ghost Stories

Started a dark, gloomy day with early work. I was outside on and off during the morning. It started sprinkling lightly while I was on my way to the Acme. Spent the vast majority of my shift doing returns, which wasn't as much fun as usual. The store reorganizing continues. I keep tripping over people who are moving carts of boxes and bags and bottles from one aisle to another. I doubt they mean to do it, but they all block everyone when they're unloading and loading things, too. At least they're nice and will move, but there's too many of them in one spot.

It looked like it might have rained a little harder in the early afternoon. By the time I got out at 1, it was back to showering again. I went straight home. The clouds weren't vanishing, and it was chilly and windy. It was no day for lingering anywhere. It started raining harder shortly after I arrived at home, and would rain heavily off and on for the rest of the day.

When I got home, I had lunch while watching another spooky sitcom episode. Happy Days did its Halloween show early in its second season. Ralph insists on holding his Halloween costume party in a "Haunted" house. Joanie protests that the ghost of an old lady who lost her head will take off the head of anyone who enters. Richie's determined to show that the legend is nothing to be afraid of and that there's someone else behind the spooky goings-on.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening writing. A big storm knocks out the power, just after Hank and Leia kiss. Everyone fusses in the dark, and Hank and Leia yell at each other to find flashlights. Before they do, two figures seemingly appear out of nowhere, dressed in the outfits of the late 1800's. The kids think it's Andrew and Patricia Waller, come to haunt them. Hank and Leia know better. It's two members of the First Order Gang dressed as ghosts to scare them.

A third figure appears on the landing, this one dressed as Darren Veder, the former police commissioner, and spouting all the wonderful things he did. Now Hank's angry. He knows there's only one person in New York who admires Veder that way. He storms upstairs, followed by Rey and Finn, and demands his son show himself.

Kylo Ren whines that his father ruined his dramatic entrance. Hank tells his son he and his mother want him home. Kylo - really Ben Solo, his runaway son - complains that they don't care about him. They have time for the kids in the Bowery who work for them, but not him. Hank tries to convince him that things will be different, but he doesn't listen. Ben ends up knocking his father to the landing with a hard uppercut to his face instead.

(Sorry, no death here, or likely in the Nutcracker story I'm hoping to do next. This is supposed to be a light comedy/drama. I may work Han's death into darker Force Awakens stories, and it'll be mentioned in a planned follow-up to Stories We Leave Behind, but it doesn't work with the plot of this one.)

Rey is MAD! Finn tackles Ben to the ground; Rey pummels him. Charles, Hank's partner and good friend, leads him downstairs. He insists he take Leia back to the landing to separate Ben and Rey, before they kill each other.

Hank is leaning against the fireplace when bony hands reach out and grab him. One wraps itself around his mouth. The other injects a sedative into his arm that puts him to sleep. The hands drag him behind the fireplace, leaving his brown fedora as the only clue to his whereabouts.

Broke around quarter after 6 to make dinner. Decided to try Chicken Tetrazzini, made with the last of the old home-made chicken stock and canned chicken. I think I used too much of that chicken stock. It was way too soupy. Still tasted pretty decent, though, and it did get rid of the stock and an aging green pepper.

Finished the night with Young Frankenstein. Surgeon and teacher Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) inherits his grandfather's ancient castle in Transylvania. He also inherits his reputation for some pretty strange science, including re-animating dead beings. Fredrick wants nothing to do with his family history at first, despite the encouragement of Frou Blucker (whinny). (Glenn Close) After he finds his grandfather's private papers, he becomes convinced the experiment could work. With the help of Inga (Terri Garr) and Igor (Marty Feldman), he does succeed in bringing a huge man back to life. Igor's mistake with brains leaves him with an abnormal mind...and a monster on the loose. Now Fredrick has to tame the monster and figure out what to do about the hostile locals (lead by Kenneth Mars) and his prim fiancee (Madeline Khan).

One of my favorite Mel Brooks movies. This is so atmospheric, it was filmed on the original sets for the 1932 Frankenstein. Brooks and Wilder mostly ditch the satire in favor of an affectionate homage to Universal horror and the horror films of the 1930's and 40's. If you're like me and would rather laugh at your fears, or want to try some less scatological Brooks, this is a lot of fun and is highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On a Fall Afternoon

Got up late again. I just felt so good under my nice, warm blankets! It just got into the mid-50's today. When I finally did get moving, I put on a spooky episode of Wonder Woman. Diana Prince finds herself at a "Seance of Terror" towards the end of the second season. A little boy and his guardians use the child's psychic abilities to lure three prime ministers about to argue for peace to their home for a seance to speak to their lost loved ones. Diana suspects that the kid and the politicians are being used, and that, while the boy's powers are very real, his guardians aren't quite so legit.

Decided to try something different after breakfast. There's a recipe for Peanut Butter-Oat Bran Cookies on the back of the box of Hodgson's Mill Oat Bran Hot Cereal. It was so simple, you just mixed the batter in the pan you melted the butter in. Yum. For the most part, they came out very well, sweet and nutty. Too sweet, actually. I don't think it needs the white and the brown sugar. If I ever make these again, I'll use one and not the other, or reduce the amount used for both.

Here's a modified version of the recipe I used with added spices.

I had just enough time to pull the cookies out of the oven and change before hurrying off to work. Work was on-and-off busy. The re-arranging continues. Most things have been moved down an aisle (except for the salad dressings and condiments at press time) or a few aisles down. They were rearranging the cereals early this afternoon. It made shelving items a real pain. Things didn't get much better when the new manager sent me out to do carts instead of letting me go on break, like I was supposed to. I was supposed to go on break at 2. I didn't get one until nearly 3. At least it was a gorgeous day to round up carts. It was windy and chilly, but not too bad.

When I got off work, I went straight home and onto the computer. The Kids' Halloween party is going really well. Rey puts on "Some Enchanted Evening," from South Pacific, the biggest Broadway show of 1949, to get the romantic juices flowing. Finn's delighted when not only do Han and Leia seem to be reconciling, but Rey agrees to dance with him, too.

Finished the night with leftovers for dinner and more Lego Star Wars. Started with "Darth Vader," the last round of Revenge of the Sith. Once I got past the opening sequence that involved jumping over the lava (and found that one piece hiding at the end), that wasn't much of a problem. My trouble with jumping over the lava fields kept me from getting True Jedi, but I did find all the pieces and the red brick.

Moved to "Gunship Calvary" in Attack of the Clones next. I didn't do any better at this one the second time around. Couldn't find the red brick and just missed True Jedi, but I did get most of the pieces.

Skipped ahead to "Secret Plans," the first round of New Hope. I already had True Jedi and the red brick here, but I did pick up a few more pieces.

Ended with "Falcon Flight" from Empire Strikes Back. Having the TIE Fighters allows you to get into a few areas that are Imperial-only. I was able to get most of the pieces here and the red brick. Slammed into a few too many asteroids for True Jedi, though.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn Blues

It was kind of late when I finally dragged myself out of bed this morning. Ran another spooky TV show episode as I ate breakfast. Hard rock star Alice Cooper made a rather controversial appearance early in the third season of The Muppet Show. They had fun with Cooper's scary image as he tries to get the Muppets to sell their souls to his "boss"...but only Gonzo shows any real interest.

To my surprise, the laundromat was totally dead when I made it there around 11:30. There wasn't a soul around, and I only saw a few people pass through. I was able to do my small load and work on story ideas in peace.

By the time I put everything away and got back on the road, it was quarter after 1. I had a counseling appointment at 2! I tried to rush, but my tire wasn't moving well. It hadn't been moving well for a while, but now it was really sluggish. Yeah, it was flat. Just what I needed. I kicked at it and yelled at it and me. Thankfully, a jogger on her way home was nice enough to offer me a ride to King's Highway - her van was able to carry my bike.

Mrs. Stahl didn't make me feel much better. I'm flat broke. I have barely any money. I should be getting a slightly bigger paycheck than I have been getting this week, but at least part of the rent is going to be late. Again. After Miss Willa said for it to not be late this month. The budget we worked out allows for rent and food and saving money and not much else.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I feel so useless. Every time I think I can live like a nice, normal human being, I find out I can't. There isn't anyone I can talk to. Both sets of parents are dealing with medical bills. My sisters can't find jobs, either. No one at work understands. I don't know what I'm going to do about Christmas. Everyone keeps saying I'm so smart. If I'm so smart, why is this happening to me? If I'm so smart, why can't I get a real job? Why can't my sisters and friends get real jobs? I don't even know what I really want to do, besides write.

I couldn't help the tears when I got out of Mrs. Stahl's office. She wanted me to stick to that budget like glue. Which meant no eating out, no bike rides to the towns, no festivals or church bazaars or yard sales. I'll keep doing the Farm Market until it closes at the end of next month - we factored that in as part of the food budget - but I won't be going too many other places. I'd like to find other volunteering opportunities around here besides the libraries, too. Studio LuLoo just isn't reliable anymore.

Next stop was the bike shop on King's Highway. I didn't have a choice. As it turned out, the rim of the back wheel is bent. I'm starting to wonder just how long Richard's friend had this bike, too. It's not "relatively recent." The young man who repaired the inner tube said the bike is probably from the late 90's-early 2000's, about the same time as my old bike. I could afford the inner tube, but fixing the rim would cost 50 dollars. I'm afraid it'll have to wait. At least I know what's wrong with it now.

I did stop at the Acme on Cuthbert Road on the way home. I'm almost out of milk, and the Acme's skim milk quarts are cheaper than WaWa's. I easily saw the result of Thriftway's closure. They were crazy-busy when I was there, with very long lines. The fact that it was almost 4 at that point didn't help. (I wonder if they're going to be remodeled next? They don't look like they've been remodeled yet.)

Tried to cheer myself up with a ride through Newton Lake Park. It was chilly today, barely in the 50's, but it felt nice on the bike. The sun was in and out of fat clouds all day. There were quite a few people enjoying the lovely fall weather, dog-walkers and other bikers and fishermen and people out for a stroll. The trees are finally starting to turn brilliant shades of red, gold, and copper. The cold finally killed off the last of the algae that plagued the lakes and rivers here all summer. Newton Lake sparkled under the late afternoon sun.

When I got home, I did a little bit of writing. The Resistance Kids arrive at Skywalker Manor to discover it's locked. Hank shows the kids how to pick their way in. Finn is the one who finally jimmies the lock. Hank admires his skills. He says he learned how to pick a lock when he was part of the First Order Gang. He left them when they started hurting people, and he couldn't do it.

Finn has a bit of a crush on Rey, but she never seems to notice anything that isn't mechanical. Hank offers to help, relating stories about how he and Leia got together.

Broke for dinner around 6:30. Started Scooby Doo On Zombie Island as I made scrambled eggs with scallions, mushrooms, peppers, and cheese and Cranberry Flummery for dinner. The first of the Scooby Doo direct-to-home-media movies reunites the gang to help with Daphne's new show. She's determined to find a spook who is an actual supernatural phenomenon, and not just a criminal in a mask. The red-haired reporter gets her wish at a shadowy pepper plantation in the Louisiana bayou. The women in charge seem friendly enough (other than one has trouble with Scooby chasing her cats), but the kids have their suspicions. Something sinister is hiding in the bayous...and this time, the ghosts might just be for real.

I can understand why this was so popular, it re-booted the franchise. This is dark for a Scooby movie, one of the very few to cross over into true horror territory. It's well-written, not badly animated for something intended for home video, and genuinely scary, especially in the end. Not the best Scooby movie to start little guys off on, but if you have older kids who love horror and Scooby, try this one on them.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jedi Riders In the Sky

The wind continued to howl when I pulled out of the four blankets on my bed this morning. I warmed up with oat bran and Cranberry Flummery for breakfast while watching an episode of Laverne & Shirley. "Haunted House" from the second season has the duo checking out a house about to be demolished, hoping to buy a couch cheap. Shirley's not sure about this. Her brothers have told her about a "hairy thing" that lurks in the walls of the old manor. Laverne thinks she's being silly...until they hear noises while shopping, and the man in charge of the sale and Lenny and Squiggy disappear...

Worked on writing for a couple of hours. As Hank drives Leia and the kids to Skywalker Manor, they have no idea it's already occupied. The First Order Gang is there, along with Professor Snoke, a discredited scientist who has done unethical experiments on mind control. He intends to use the kids and the Solos in his dastardly experiments. He sends the Gang after them, then turns his attention to his prisoner, Poe Dameron.

Broke a little early to bake Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins. Ran an episode of Moonlighting as I ate and got ready for work. Maddie's got enough on her plate during the fifth season without the dead people who turn up in "I See London, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld." A man dies in their office...and then a friend of his turns up the next day, claiming he had the other half of a lottery ticket. It turns out there's a lot more to his plot than lottery winnings. Dave and Maddie find themselves chasing a body across town, while arguing over the idea of death and there being something "on the other side."

Work was the opposite of yesterday - steady to quiet when I came in, busy when I left. Once again, we had plenty of bagging help but nowhere near enough help in the registers, and I got stuck in the register more than I would have preferred. And we have a new manager. He seemed pleasant enough, but it means I'm going to have someone new to get used to.

As soon as I got home, I hit the shower to get that out of the way. After I got out, I heated up leftovers for dinner. Continued with Lego Star Wars as I ate. Went back to "Death Star Escape" first. The Fast Build extra was a huge help here. I was finally able to build that mosaic fast enough to get past the part with all the stormtroopers. Got a few more pieces, including one fairly easy one I hadn't noticed before.

Moved backwards to "Escape From Naboo." I didn't realize there were ledges you can jump onto in order to pick up more pieces. I got almost all of them and "True Jedi."

Went briefly back to "Escape From Echo Base." Got a few more pieces, but didn't have the time to finish all of this one.

Ended with the first level of Revenge of the Sith. Woohoo! No wonder Anakin seemed to be having so much fun with this in the movie. Trying the various ships out is a blast, and most of the pieces and the red brick are pretty easy to find. I got all but one piece (and just missed True Jedi).

Oh, and I discovered another rare Star Wars read-along story on YouTube tonight. This is a comic-book style story surrounding C-3PO, set some time after Return of the Jedi (the opening narration mentions that Han and Leia are married by this point). It's pretty darn fun to see fussy Threepio acting like the opposite of his usual self - Han's reactions in particular are gold.

The Mixed Up Droid - 1995 Original Story

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Golden Autumn

Started off a sunny, windy morning with Gingerbread Pancakes and the Laurel & Hardy album I picked up on Friday. There were a few songs (including "Lazy Moon" from Pardon Us and a rather nice version of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart"), but most of the material was short bits from their films. I really wish they'd used longer bits, or more from their shorts. You didn't really get a good idea of what those two were about.

Work was busy when I came in, steady-to-quiet later in the afternoon. I did get stuck on the register more than I would have preferred, despite it not being that busy, but there was plenty of bagging help too. At least most people were in good moods, and it wasn't anything resembling as crazy as last week.

The Philadelphia Eagles were in pretty darn good moods, too. I saw a little of the game in the back lounge area during my break. The score was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Vikings finally got a field goal at the beginning of the second quarter. I turned around for five seconds to write down a story note...and when I turned around, an Eagle was sprinting down the field. They took a punt for a touchdown, then scored a 2-point conversion to bring it up to 8-2. By the time I got off, they were at 21-3. The Eagles eventually ran over their former quarterback San Bradford and the Vikings, 21-10.

It was too nice to sit at home when I finally got out of work. I changed, then headed over to Jodie and Dad's to see if anyone was home. EVERYONE was home. Along with Rose and Khai and Dad and Jodie, I saw Dana, Jesse, several neighbors, most of the neighborhood kids, and to my surprise, Joe and Jessa. Mark and Vanessa had been around earlier. They brought Vanessa's sausage gumbo, which was tasty, but very spicy! I had French bread and butter and a cupcake to cool things off.

(And Jodie said that the reason the Acme keeps putting me in the register, despite my protests, is I'm good with managing the money. I keep everything neat and make sure all the money is organized and ends up where it should be. Well, of course! I don't like it when it doesn't. That's what I do. I just don't like dealing with 800 people at once. I couldn't do Rose's waitressing jobs, either.)

The kids were outside, running around the street and their houses while their mothers talked. I tossed a velcro ball with little Savannah, one of the younger kids on the street. She was so funny. She either would throw it too far, or just push the ball onto the velcro catch thing. She kept losing her little bear shoe! Rose or I would put it back on her feet.

Oh, and Rose has at least two job interviews for legal work, and was requested by a former boss to do some work for him. She's been temporarily back at Anthony's after her last job ended. She sounded pretty optimistic; hopefully, she'll do well.

When I got home, I did more Lego Star Wars. Picked up more pieces on "Negotiations" and "Invasion of Naboo"; got True Jedi in the former. Tried "Bounty Hunter Pursuit," but only got a few more pieces. I am just no good at flying rounds! Did find two more pieces in "Ruin of the Jedi." Saw the red brick, but couldn't reach it. Maybe next time.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Windy Harvest

I awoke to pouring rain. Thankfully, by the time I was up and moving, it was just down to gloomy skies and gusty wind. Ran the first of two bonus episodes on the Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates disc while eating breakfast. "Mystery of the Mighty Colossus" introduces a shadow-like villain who wants to take over the kids' enormous ship for his own. As they try to fight off this new menace, the kids and Hook's crew disappear one by one into the bowels of the ship. Jake has to solve the ship's many puzzles in order to save his crew and Hook's.

Hook's mother and the grandfather of one his his crew mates bring along a running feud...and the tale of "The Doubloon Monsoon." A whirlwind of coins exists in a gorge in Never Land. To get to it, the crew has to cross some very nasty turf. Grandpa is determined to keep Mrs. Hook from cheating. She's not the one he should watch, though...

It was just cloudy and windy when I headed out to the Collingswood Farm Market around quarter after 10. They were surprisingly busy for such chilly weather. It couldn't have been any more than the lower 50's. It's probably just as well that I didn't need much. A few booths were missing, too, including the one with the live alpaca. I just bought cranberries, small organic Boston lettuce heads, and mini apples.

When I got home, I made Cranberry Flummery (a jelly dessert) with last week's cranberries while finishing out Captain Jake. The peculiar inventor Dr. Undergear returns in "Shark Attack!" This time, he has a shark suit and a team of mechanical sea creatures that are salvaging parts from ships for his inventions. He thinks the Mighty Colossus would be perfect for his inventions. The kids don't agree and do their best to defend their vessel.

Jake and the kids just barely avoid a "Colossus Collision" when they take their boat out to see what all its crazy cannon balls can do. Hook and his crew are out, too. Hook accidentally turns on the engine and ends up nearly crashing into Pirate Island. The kids and his crew do what they can to slow the ship.

Work was steady. It could have been a lot worse, especially given the traffic I saw later in the day. The weather may have scared some folks off. It started raining shortly after I left for work, and continued showering on and off for the rest of the afternoon. I got stuck behind the registers a lot more than I would have preferred. We weren't that busy. It might also have been because, for once, there were plenty of baggers and lots of people to help with carts.

I limited my grocery shopping to peanut butter and ground turkey on a really good sale. I don't have much money. I did get my schedule. I wish I wasn't back to that same 4-hour-day schedule. I need more hours. At any rate, Tuesday and next Friday off, Tuesday for counseling.

Did a little writing when I got home. The kids are all waiting for Hank and Leia to pick them up for the Halloween party. They're all going as characters from the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz (which was re-released that year). Hank is well-known archaeologist Indiana Jones; Leia is Thumbelina. (If you know anything about Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher's filmographies, you'll know why I chose those costumes for them. ;)

Made Cincinnati Chili from Kit's Cooking Studio while watching one of the Bowery Boys horror-oriented movies. They think they're "Master Minds" when they discover that Sach's toothache gives him the power to see into the future. They turn him into a top Coney Island attraction...but he also attracts a mad scientist, who wants Sach's amazing brain for his half-human monster.

Concluded the night with two rounds of Lego Star Wars, both repeats, Did much better with "Chancellor In Peril." Got True Jedi and all but one piece. (Still couldn't find the red brick, though.) Just missed True Jedi on "Most Eisley Spaceport," but I did get through the part I had problems with before. Also got all but one of the pieces here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Plundering the Book Sale

It was still sunny and a little too warm for the time of year when I got up this morning. Did some Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates while eating breakfast. A rescue in a snow land takes the kids "In the Heart of Coldness" when a penguin tells them that his friends have been kidnapped by a frozen pirate. The pirate wants them to find "The Heart of Coldness," a gem that'll allow him to freeze all of Never Land.

"The Remarkable Beardini" is a magician who was released by Hook and Smee. They want him to tell them how he works his magic, but a magician never reveals his secrets. He's not happy when he learns the kids have found his invisibility ring and attacks them to get it back...until Jake apologizes for taking it.

Started out around 10:30 for today's errands. The Oaklyn Library looked like it was hosting a knitting club when I arrived. A group of older women sat around the main table, discussing pearls and needles and pulling colorful knitted squares out of handbags. I didn't want to get in their way (or listen to their political talk), so I organized the DVDs and left.

Besides, there were other things I wanted to do today. I made a quick stop at WaWa to use the ATM machines, then rode back down the White Horse Pike to Oaklyn's City Hall. Locked my bike behind City Hall at the fire house, then waited for the bus to Voorhees at the shaded bench. Thankfully, they were actually close to on time, for once. There was no traffic on the way, and I had no problems getting off at the Voorhees Library.

Twice a year, the Voorhees Library holds the Camden County Library System's annual system-wide book sale. They started a day earlier this year, on Thursday. They were already a little picked-over when I came. I saw no good DVDs or CDs. Wish they'd organized the fiction better. I really had to search for fantasy, sci fi, and mystery novels. On the other hand, they weren't nearly as busy as the last few times I went there, either. (It being noon by the time I arrived may have been part of the reason.) The kids' books area was actually empty.

I finally walked out with three records:

The original cast of the 1978 burlesque revue Sugar Babies, featuring Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney

Soundtrack for the 1950's TV musical The Adventures of Marco Polo, with Broadway star Alfred Drake

Collection of Laurel & Hardy material, including songs and routines from their films and shorts

And four books:

The Spirit of Christmas Book Six (craft/cook book collection)

Betsy-Tacy and Tib, by Maud Hart Lovelace (I heard people at the AG Playthings board mention this tale of a trio of best friends in the early 1900's and thought I'd try it)

Shadows of the Empire, by Steve Perry (Basically, what happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I've read this, but not since it came out. At one point, Keefe had the Xizor and Dash Rendar action figures. They're long gone - they weren't among the ones he gave me.)

Laced, by Carol Higgins Clark (one of her few books I hadn't gotten to)

And the lady at the table up front gave me the whole pile for 3 dollars. Not a bad haul for what they had, really.

Had lunch across the street at the Voorhees Town Center's food court. There wasn't really much to choose from. Several of the booths were closed, including the barbecue place Lauren and I ate at the last time we went to the Book Sale together. I considered Qdoba, but I just had tacos for dinner last night. Ended up with Burger King's Homestyle Burger, fries, and a Diet Coke. Very disappointing. The fries were ok, kind of big for fast food fries, but the burger was flat and obviously fake, with nuclear cheese and practically no vegetables.

The rest of the Voorhees Town Center wasn't much better. The only remaining stores were Bath and Body Works, an Italian import store, Claire's, the Hot Topic/Spencer's imitation Adventureland, the cookie booth, Victoria's Secret, the arcade, Kay's Jewels, PayLess Shoes, and the anchors Boscov's and Macy's. Even that great Hallmark was gone. Except for Boscov's and Macy's, the second floor is entirely local offices or medical services. A lot of the decor is dark and drab, and quite frankly, no arcade or cookie booth can keep the place from looking a bit depressing.

I did browse in Boscov's and briefly in Bath and Body Works and bought a few mini-cookies, but I really don't have much money left. I ended up taking the 2:14 back to Oaklyn. They were a ten minutes late arriving. When they did arrive, the driver told me her money feed machine was broken. I ended up getting a free - and very full - ride home.

After I got off in Oaklyn, I turned around and went back a couple of blocks. I'd remembered that I badly needed light bulbs. The halogen bulbs at Family Dollar were expensive, but they were still cheaper than buying one CFL bulb. Also grabbed a can of mandarin oranges for 80 cents.

Did some writing when I got in. Rey and Artie end up getting along like gangbusters, thanks to Rey's mechanical bent. They finally head out after finding out from Artie that Luke is at Skywalker Manor and is up to something. Hank offers to take Leia home, then talks her into going to the party with him, much to her amusement and delight of the kids and Charles.

Broke for oat bran and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner while continuing Captain Jake. "Escape From Ghost Island" has both Hook's crew and the kids ending up at the title island, which only appears at night. Smee and Hook turn into ghosts when they touch a ghost pirate's treasure. The pirate turns Jake into a ghost, too. He wants them all for his ghostly crew! Jake, Hook, and Smee finally turn the ghost's own powers against him.

"The Island of Doctor Undergear" introduced me to a mechanical pirate the kids apparently found floating in the sea and put together. They go to an island shaped like a gear to find a new part for him. Turns out he was originally intended to be a henchman for Dr. Undergear, a mad scientist. Undergear's parts make him into an evil lackey! Jake makes a mechanical body of his own to fight robot to robot.

"Rise of the Pirate Pharaoh" takes us to the desert, where a mummy pirate is giving the kids a tour of his world. They accidentally unleashes a mummy pharaoh who sends a hoard of scarabs to scare the kids and their wrapped up friend away. They fight off the scarabs, then find out why the pharaoh really wants them gone.

Captain Hook gets involved in a take on "The Midas Touch" in "The Golden Hook." Unlike King Midas, Hook becomes obsessed with his new hook that can turn anything into gold and doesn't listen when the kids and Smee try to explain it's a bad idea. Jake has to use his own magic to get the hook away from him, before he turns them all into gold!

Finished the night with a call to Mom. I hadn't heard from her in ages, since I visited the family in July. She's still working long hours at the Ferry. The nice weather has kept them unusually busy for mid-fall. Dad's a bit better, at least enough to go visit Grandma Ann with Anny. I told her about the remodeling and the changes at the Acme and having dinner with Dad and Jodie. She mentioned she made a French apple pie. She was the recipient of most of the apples Anny and her brood gathered on that apple-picking trip last week (just like Jodie got Rose's apples).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Taco Thursday

Today was my first early work shift in a while. Other than the ongoing remodeling, it was no trouble. I did a half-hour of carts when I got in and another one right before I went on break. Otherwise, I attempted to do returns. I really wish they hadn't opted to rearrange everything along with the remodeling. It doesn't bother me so much, but a lot of our customers don't want to have to get used to the way the store is organized again. Thankfully, we were never that busy and for once, there was plenty of help on a weekday.

The floral department manager gave me some good news yesterday. They're opting to expand the Floral Department and put that up front instead of the unnecessary Starbucks. It'll probably replace the weekly sales displays and self-checkout area that are at the entrance now. They're already building at the former display area, which is mostly boarded off.

Picked up a box of brown sugar quickly on sale, then headed home. Ate leftovers for lunch while watching Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates. The show finally acknowledges that Captain Hook and his boys weren't the best villains by downplaying their roles and creating an entirely new, far more menacing bad guy for the special "The Great NeverSea Conquest." Lord Fathom is an evil mer-wizard who wants to take over the entire NeverSea...and eventually, Never Land! He finds an emerald that gives him control over the creatures of the NeverSea and allows him to lock up the rightful rulers.

Meanwhile, Captain Hook and his crew and Jake and the kids are both looking for The Mighty Colossus. The legendary pirate vessel destroyed an enormous sea serpant, but went to the bottom of the Never Sea after doing so. Captain Hook wants the treasure it was supposedly carrying. Jake just wants to see the famous ship and learn more about its captain. He gets his wish and his chance when the kids' beloved ship Bucky is damaged. They get help from all the pirate captains in the Never Sea to raise the Colossus and prove Jake to be the strong-hearted pirate captain he'd always dreamed of.

Did writing for the next few hours. Hank's huge friend Charles appears with Baby, whom he found wandering the streets. Rey finds the message on Baby's collar. They take the dog and the paper to Leia Organa-Solo. After Leia tells them she knows Artie Baker, a friend of Luke's, she confronts Hank. The kids are hoping for romance, but despite a promising start, they end up discussing their son being involved in the shootout and Poe's kidnapping instead.

Artie turns out to be an eccentric, very small inventor. He's created a robot that looks like a huge Swiss army knife, but is really designed to hold secrets and communicate with other robots. A red light on its dome flashes, even though none of Artie's other robots are operating and there are no others in the area. He reveals that Luke is in New York, searching houses...though he's not sure why.

It was just getting dark and cloudy when I rode over to Dad and Jodie's around quarter of 6. Jodie's Taco Thursday was in full swing. She had hard and soft tortillas, seasoned ground beef, sliced tomatoes and onions, shredded lettuce, and hot sauce and sour cream out. I didn't have a big lunch and ended up eating four of them, three soft and one hard. (I'm not a big fan of hard tacos. They tend to fall apart.)

Chatted with various members of the family, including Dana, Jodie, and Rose. I didn't know Rose was a Flyers fan. This is their 50th season - today was their 50th annual home opening game, (Disappointingly, I later discovered they lost to the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2.) She suggested going to see a home game some time. I'd love to! I've seen Phillies and Eagles games live, but never the Flyers.

Glad I got to see everyone. Khai mostly watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown on DVD and The Loud Family on Nickelodeon while playing with his mother's iPad. Rose brought a Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake, made from our mom's own recipe that she used to make for the Ugly Mug bar in Cape May when she worked there in the 80's. It was just as good as Mom's was when we were kids, chocolate-y and rich.

Rose also reminded me that I really need to call the family in Cape May County. I haven't since I went down there with her in July. They did just get past their busy season. Dad-Bill apparently hasn't been doing so good, but it's more than likely he won't do anything like resting and is probably driving Mom nuts. He and Anny apparently went up to visit Grandma Ann in upstate New York. Grandma Ann is cool. She's my only grandparent left. As Rose said, she has a tendency to spend money like it's going out of style (gee, wonder where Dad-Bill gets that habit from), but she's funny as hell and tells great stories.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Glorious Indian Summer

It was sunny and hot when I got up this morning. Had breakfast while watching a few more Cat In the Hat episodes. "Let's Go Fly a Kite" takes us into the air when the kids notice clouds moving. The Cat has them fly a kite in a windy valley to show how wind works. "Water Walkers" are bugs that seem to "walk" on pond surfaces, thanks to tiny bubbles in the fuzz on their feet. "Minnie Meerkat" shows the group how meerkats dig tunnels to stay safe and watch out for one another.

Spent a few hours writing before work. It's the next morning, and the kids and Hank are worried about Poe. He never came home the night before. Hank's partner Charles shows up with Baby. The puppy is scared and dirty...and carrying vital information. Rey finds a piece of a map on her collar. It looks like part of the Bowery, but she can't tell which part.

Work was a bit of a pain. Despite it not being that busy, I kept getting called up front throughout the first half of my shift. Doing returns isn't easy, either. They're rearranging the store. Most things have been moved. I don't mind it so much, but it does means returns are going to take a bit longer than usual. I was glad I got to spend the last two hours doing returns, even if it wasn't that bad. It was too nice of a day to be inside anyway. The weather remains breezy and hot, probably in the lower 80's.

Finished out Cat In the Hat while eating leftovers for dinner. "No SSSweater Is Better" than a snake skin, as Nick discovers when they encounter a snake in the desert. Nick's reluctant to give up his favorite sweater. It's his lucky sweater, but it doesn't fit anymore. He feels better about letting it go after hearing about how snakes shed their skin when they outgrow them. "The Rain Game" takes them to the rain forest. Sally wants water for her garden, but the rain doesn't reach past the dense tree tops. They have to fly through thick leaves - and past several different varieties of animals - to find rain.

This time, I managed to finish eating before starting Lego Star Wars. I finally had enough gold bricks to get into the last bonus round. It's a second version of the Lego Town. I just couldn't figure the whole thing out, even with a wide variety of characters to choose from. I'll look that one up online and go back later.

I also discovered you can actually go outside the main hub. I did build a few things, including a track with coins, but there was one area I just couldn't figure out how to open. I'll return another time.

Did better with the regular rounds. I had a harder time with the "Count Dooku" boss round than the General Grievous one last night. Did get the red brick, but not all the pieces, even after going through twice. Was able to find all the pieces on the last round in Return of the Jedi, the one where the Falcon blows up the Death Star. Tried "Through the Jutland Wastes" again, but only got one more piece.

Oh, and happy birthday to my best friend Lauren Miller! I'm so embarrassed I forgot to send her something. I'll get cookies out to her next week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Libraries and Chocolate

Began the day with breakfast and one of the few Halloween specials I own that I hadn't yet gotten to. Halloween Is Grinch Night is one of the odder Dr. Seuss specials. A sour-sweet wind sends the Grinch on the prowl with his cart filled with his wild, surreal scares. Young Eukariah Who gets lost in the mountains, and after encountering the Grinch, takes it upon himself to make sure he and that freaky cart never make it to Whoville.

Didn't get to the laundromat until past noon. Though every washer was full when I came in, it soon calmed down. I spent most of the time working on story notes and ignoring soap operas. One woman complained that one of the larger, round-door washers was leaking. I have no idea. I use the smaller, cheaper ones.

As soon as I got home and put everything away, I went right back out again. My first stop was Phillies Phatties for lunch. It was about the only lunch I could afford. I had a slice of cheese pizza, a slice of mushroom pizza, and a can of Mountain Dew Baja Blast. It was such a lovely, warm day, I ate it outside, on the wooden picnic tables on West Clinton.

Studio LuLoo was open for the first time in weeks. The woman who runs it says she's been in California and isn't around much anymore. She's talking to the city of Oaklyn to find someone to take over the spot and continue to run it as a rec center/after school and weekend spot for kids. She had a treat for me - a huge box of sugar-free dark chocolate-sour cherry bars! There were tons of them. They're giving them away for Halloween, she said. Well, sure! I love dark chocolate and cherries, and the no-sugar wouldn't scare me off.

I tried one on the way down West Clinton. Oh, yuumm! I didn't taste the Splenda at all. I tasted dark chocolate and bits of dried cherry and chocolate chips and Krackle pieces. There wasn't even a weird aftertaste. This box was too good (and too big) not to be shared.

Cut across Newton Lake Park on my way to Westmont. It was a glorious day for a ride, breezy, sunny, and maybe a bit too warm for mid-October, probably in the lower 80's. Not surprisingly, they were fairly busy with people going for strolls, walking their dogs, tossing Frisbees, and sunning themselves on the black metal benches.

The Haddon Township Library was busier than I'd ever seen it! Besides the fact that it was almost 3 PM by then and many kids were getting out of school, they were doing a kids' craft class that had them making their own paper for books. It was apparently also Take Photos In the Library Day (or something like that). The head librarian took my picture holding an "I heart Library" laminated sign as I worked on finding items for holds. Shelved the few kids' DVDs, too. This time, they all fit except one J title and two L titles.

Took out a few things. I've been looking for more ideas for my fairy tales, both fanfiction and originals. Found a collection called Around the World In 80 Stories in the kids' area. I've always loved reading fairy tales and folk lore from many different parts of the globe.

The library continues to get more new animated sets in. Jake and the Never Land Pirates was reincarnated earlier this year as Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Found the first set I've seen from that today. They also had another Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That disc, this one weather-themed.

It was so late by the time I headed out, I just decided to put up with the road repairs on Cuthbert and take the short way home. Wanted to check out something one of the librarians told me as well. It would seem the Thriftway across the street from the Library closed suddenly about two weeks ago. It was empty when I went by there.

I'm disappointed, but not surprised. They were never terribly busy, even during holidays and rush hour. They were originally located in a much smaller building down the street on Crystal Lake Road. I suspect they probably should have stayed there. I don't think they ever really adjusted to the larger building. I did buy a few things there, notably toilet paper, eggs, and whole wheat flour, but neither their prices nor their selection were all that great. There's tons of competition in the area, too, including three Acmes, two Shop Rites, Price Rite and Aldi in Camden, and Wegman's in Cherry Hill.

When I got home, I made scrambled eggs with scallions, mushrooms, green peppers, and cheddar cheese for dinner. Watched a few episodes of Cat In the Hat as I ate. The kids want to know the order of the colors in the rainbow so they can paint rainbows for their moms. The Cat introduces them to a king who wants a rainbow of his own in "Chasing Rainbows." Faced with a "Puddle Puzzle" when the puddle they were playing in vanishes, the Cat takes the kids and the Fish into a cloud to see what happens to water when it vaporizes. Nick and Sally say it's too hot to play, but the Cat has a friend who knows a little about "Fun In the Sun." Helga the Hippo teaches the trio how she cools off in the steamy jungle.

Finished the night with writing. Went back and added a scene with the mysterious, gray-bearded figure Rey saw in the haunted house. He orders his golden robot assistant to not tell his sister he's hoping to reopen the house as a school. He doesn't want anyone to burn this one down.

Poe has more trouble talking to Detective Lor San Tekka. He gives him a clue as to where Luke Waller is hiding...but the First Order Gang attacks them. Poe sends the message along with his dog Baby before he's captured by Kylo Ren.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lost In the Crowds

Went into more Friendship Is Magic this morning and early in the afternoon as I ate and got ready for work. Big Mac talks Apple Bloom into letting him join her at a big sister-bonding event in "Brotherhooves' Social." He tries hard to be a cool big sis to Apple Bloom, even dressing in drag. He's not fooling anyone...but when Apple Bloom reveals how determined she is to win, he becomes a lot more aggressive to give her the blue ribbon she wants.

"Hearthbreakers" brings together Applejack and Pinkie Pie's families for Hearth's Warming Eve, the big winter holiday in Equestria. They couldn't be more different. Applejack's family is a bit on the hillbilly side, hard-working country folks. Pinkie's folks, who run a quarry, are the closest things the Ponies get to the Amish. Applejack tries to give the Pies the kind of holiday her family always have, but when they accidentally damage a Pie family heirloom, she finally learns the importance of understanding other people's traditions and ways of doing things.

Did a little bit of writing after breakfast. Poe convinces Leia to come to their Halloween party. Hank's going to be there. She does want to get back together with him...but he left first, after they argued over their son going to reform school.

Work was even more of a mad house than yesterday. We were busy with long lines pretty much the entire time I was there. I got outside for about an hour or so after I got in. They called me in around 2 to take a register...and I got stuck there for the rest of the day. I was not happy. Though the customers were in good moods and took the long lines in stride, I kept panicking. We don't normally see crowds like this outside of the week before Thanksgiving! Employees in the deli and the bakery complained that they couldn't get anything done because front-end managers constantly called their help to take customers.

It only got worse by the end of the day. We were out of the eggs on sale and almost out of the soda. I really don't think anyone was prepared for the popularity of this sale at all. They should have treated it more like a second Sunday, with double the people on the registers.

The fact that the remodeling has begun in earnest didn't help matters. Almost the entire back half of the store, where the non-food items and the bread were, is being completely reorganized. There's piles of crates on the floor and tons of shiny new black shelves standing empty and ready to either be built or filled. The dollar section was cleared out entirely, with everything that had once been there marked down. (This is the second time they've ditched that dollar section. I don't know why they had it. This is not Dollar Tree.)

I was so frustrated and upset when I got home, I broke down crying. Cheered myself up by finishing out Friendship Is Magic while eating leftovers for dinner. "The Gift of the Maud Pie" is based after the famous O.Henry short story The Gift of the Magi. Pinkie's big sister makes her third appearance on this set, joining Pinkie and Rarity in Manehattan. While Rarity searches for a second location for her boutique, Pinkie tries to find the perfect gift for her big sister. She finds it, but it comes at a huge cost. Maud finally reminds her little sis that it doesn't matter how "perfect" a present is. It matters if it's given with love.

Jodie called me while the episode was on. Seems they're inviting the whole family - Rose and her boys, Jessa and Joe, Jodie's sons and Dana - for "Taco Thursday." Could I come? Sure! Thursday's my early day. I only work 9 to 1 and had no plans besides writing.

Moved on to Lego Star Wars as I finished dinner. Gave "Rescue Princess Leia" another shot. I still couldn't get True Jedi (I kept falling off ledges), but I did get almost all the pieces. I also found a really cool area where you get to shoot down TIE fighters and earn a ton of coins.

Had less luck with "Cloud City Trap." I had a hard time with this one when I originally ran through it. I just can't time getting Darth Vader in the steam in the carbonite chamber. This is another round where I kept falling off ledges, too. Didn't get anywhere near True Jedi, but at least I got a few more pieces.

Did better on two shorter rounds. Couldn't find the red brick on the Trench Run in New Hope, but I did get some pieces. "General Grievous," one of the boss rounds from Revenge of the Sith, became the first round I completed in full. This wasn't that hard to begin with. It was just the one area, with pieces mostly scattered around cliffs...except the last piece and the red brick, which were just off the cliff to the right over a thin ledge, in a small dome. There's so few coins here, it's easy to get True Jedi. The only thing I need here is the blue piece.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

If You Can Find Me, I'm Here

I slept in this morning, but I had enough time for Cranberry Pancakes for breakfast before heading out. Listened to a recording I have of a Mandy Patinkin concert I dubbed off a CD from the Haddon Township Library about six or so years ago. Patinkin appeared in the original cast of Sunday In the Park With George and did a concert of Follies a few years later. so he's certainly familiar with the material. The songs, taken from various Sondheim shows up through the early 90's, details the ups and downs of an artist, who goes from young hopeful to jaded celebrity to lost soul.

My favorite songs here that I wasn't already familiar with are two numbers from unusual Sondheim projects. "If You Can Find Me, I'm Here" is from a strange 60's TV musical called Evening Primrose, apparently about people living in a department store. (Musicals 101 has more information about that one here. I may have to look up that Neil Patrick Harris CD he mentions.) "Live Alone and Like It" is one of the non-Madonna numbers from the movie Dick Tracy, and probably my favorite song from that movie along with the lovely Patinkin/Madonna duet "What Can You Lose?"

When I arrived at work, the first thing I noticed was that almost every single slot in the parking lot was taken. I'd never seen the lot so full, not even the day before Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve. The inside was even more of a zoo, with lines half-way across the store. I was so grateful I spent the whole day outside, gathering carts. For once, they had to acknowledge that they needed my help more outdoors than in. There wasn't a single cart in the front at noon. There weren't even that many in the corrals. They were all inside, even the big rusty ones and the rickety green plastic ones that have funky wheels.

Why were we so crazy, even for a Sunday? For once, a big Eagles game was only one of the reasons. The main culprit was a huge 2-day sale. Some of the items were really, really cheap, including eggs for 49 cents and boxes of Coke for $1.99. That's why I shopped on Friday and Saturday, big sales be damned. I knew people would go crazy when they heard about those prices, especially the extra-cheap eggs.

I was outside for four and a half hours. Went in for break and to use the bathroom. Replaced the toilet paper in two of the stalls in the women's bathrooms, then went right back outside. As early as 2 PM, the crowds finally began to slow down a bit. They never did die all together, but they became far more manageable. Carts were still vanishing, but not at nearly as fast of a rate.

My legs were so sore when I got off work, I decided to skip going over to Dad and Jodie's. I didn't think I could move long enough to make it. Besides, the Eagles lost to the Washington Redskins, once again just barely, 27-20. I wasn't up to listening to Dad fuss about how terrible they were again. (Especially after the Dolphins actually won.)

Spent a few hours writing instead. I edited a few things and began the next scene. It's a few days later. Poe is reporting to his boss, private investigator Leia Organa-Solo. He was able to interview Detective San Tekka, an old cop who was the last person to see Luke Waller before he vanished. He's hoping to see him again that night.

Finished out the night with Lego Star Wars and leftovers for dinner. Finally did all of "The Battle for Endor." Good grief, that round takes forever! I think they really should have split it into two rounds, or cut some parts out. I wasn't able to find more pieces, but I did get the red brick.

"Jedi Destiny" didn't go as well. I kept falling off the ledges when I'd try to deal with the Emperor. I couldn't do a couple of areas with lit up Force pieces fast enough to reveal their secrets, either. At least I got a few more pieces and the red brick off of that one, too.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall Harvest and Yard Sale Fun

I got up later than planned and just had time for a quick episode of Friendship Is Magic before heading out. "Maud Pie" is Pinkie Pie's big sister, a rock collector. Maud is about as different from energetic Pinkie as an emerald is from a piece of quartz, elegant and quiet. Pinkie wants her sister and all of her best friends to get along. The ponies do try, but they all find Maud too self-absorbed and introverted to be friends with. It takes Pinkie's attempt to bring them all together to make Twilight Sparkle realize what they have in common.

Finally got out around quarter after 10 to run errands. First stop was the Collingswood Farm Market. They were packed with people out enjoying the nice weather. The corn booth's gone again (this time likely for good), replaced by alpacas munching hay in a pen. Cucumbers and zucchini are gone as well. Cranberries, broccoli, chestnuts, and the fall spinach finally made their debuts this week. I've been waiting for cranberries. I do love me some cranberry muffins and Cranberry Flummery. Along with the cranberries and broccoli, I bought carrots, a green and an orange pepper, and little Gala apples.

Rode over the train bridge to Audubon for a quick look at their fall Town-Wide Yard Sale. Considering I didn't have much time before I had to go to work, I made some decent finds. Picked up Fleetwood Mac's self-titled 1975 album, another K-Tel record, and the 1980's comedy The Great Outdoors on DVD at one house, the She-Ra Volume 1, Season 1 2-disc set at another.

Work was busy when I came in, but it fell off quickly as the Town Wide Yard Sale slowed down. I did do some returns around 1, but I was mostly outside. That was fine, and in fact, preferable. It was too nice to be inside anyway. The weather was absolutely perfect, bright blue and windy and dry and just warm enough. I realized I forgot skim milk and oatmeal yesterday, and oatmeal is on sale this week - bought it on the way home.

When I got home, I did a little writing. Kylo Ren has arrived at the Skywalker Manor. He's the leather-clad head of the First Order Gang, who goes around in a mask in order to be more intimidating. The Skywalker Manor once belonged to his family...and now it belongs to his boss. He's about ready to kick the kids out when everyone hears more spooky noises, and Phasma sees a chair move. Thing is, the First Order Gang is all there, and confined their pranks to the first floor. The sounds are coming from the second. The moment their hear maniacal laughter, they all take off in a hurry, even Kylo Ren.

Ended my night with more Lego Star Wars. I was only able to finish one round tonight...but I did really well on it. "Rescue at Jabba's Palace" wasn't terribly hard before. It was the only round I got the red brick in the first time. This time, I got all 10 pieces as well, the first round I got all the pieces from. I just need to get "True Jedi" and the blue piece to finish that one.

Had no luck elsewhere. I couldn't remember how to get inside the skiff on "The Great Pit of Carkoon" and gave up on it. Ran out of time for the very long "Battle of Endor," though I did get some pieces there before I had to quit for the night.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Beautiful Day In Cherry Hill

Began a beautifully sunny fall day with breakfast and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Apple Bloom's cousin Babs Seed is visiting from Manehattan. She and the other Cutie Mark Crusaders are excited when they discover she doesn't have her cutie mark yet - they're hoping it means they have something in common. She turns out to be "One Bad Apple" when Diamond Tiara and her friend start teasing them, and she joins in. The Crusaders want to get even...but they regret their decision when Applejack explains that Babs has her reasons for wanting to avoid teasing.

Headed out to the White Horse Pike around quarter after 11. After picking up money at WaWa, I locked my bike on the fence behind the former restaurant supply store, then crossed the street to pick up the bus. I waited for over 20 minutes, but it never came. I saw a bus turn in the opposite direction, but they never came down that way.

I had forgotten that the repairs on Cuthbert Road are still continuing. The bus probably had to take an alternate route. I ended up taking my bike over to the Acme and parking it there, then walking a couple of blocks down Nicholson. This time, the bus was only a few minutes late. And yes, I was right, it was taking a different route, going down Merchant Street to avoid the worst of the repairs on Cuthbert. Otherwise, there were no major problems on the road, and no traffic.

After peeking at the guide books at Jay Street Video Games (I was hoping to find one for Lego Star Wars - nope), I headed to the JC Penney at the end of the level. It took me forever just to find the women's plus sizes. I don't know why they're on the bottom floor when all the other women's clothing is on the second floor. At the very least, it didn't take me long to find what I was looking for. Both of my winter work pants are too small. I picked up a pair of St. John's Bay khakis to replace at least one. (The other may have to wait a few months.) Also found a t-shirt that was a nice shade of yellow-orange on clearance for $3.97.

Had a quick lunch downstairs at the food court. It looks like Moorestown's Charley's Steaks and Fries moved to Cherry Hill. I had a small chicken cheese steak with their warm, tasty skin-on fries and a Diet Coke. (Took time-out to use the restroom here as well.) Watched parents and college-age young adults and families with young children enjoy their meal time together.

I'm glad it was such a glorious day! The view from the pedestrian bridge to the shopping center across the way was amazing. It was barely in the 60's, warm, but breezy, with a cool wind that stirred a few pine needles as I strolled down to Target.

Target was a lot busier, maybe because it was past 3 PM by then. I was mostly there for underwear. I know I could probably get underwear at Wal Mart, but Target has a better selection, and they actually keep them in-stock. I looked at toys, and I looked at Halloween costume pieces, but finally decided I didn't have the money for any of it with the underwear, too. Ended up treating myself to smaller food items - those yummy pumpkin spice marshmallows I found last year, Caramel Apple cake mix (they didn't have that divine Maple Bacon Cookie Mix - boo!), apple Peeps with salted caramel bottoms (they were a little odd, but not bad), and a bottle of Cherry Vanilla Pepsi. Picked up a 2-pack of Secret deodorant for $3.97. Secret is expensive, and two dollars for each isn't bad.

After Target, I took a quick look at Kohl's and at the Disney Store on my way back. I was hoping for Rogue One merchandise in the latter. Not much yet, but I did see lots of items for their new animated film coming out this fall, the Polynesian-themed Moeana. I also saw American Girl items at Kohl's, including the cute elementary school-age-oriented dolls the Wellie Wishers, and the 2016 Girl of the Year Lea. Some of Lea's outfits were lovely, but her theme is exploring the rain forests. None of my dolls are into the tropics or hiking.

Took the 5:30 bus home. Thankfully, it was only about five minutes or so late. There was some traffic in Cherry Hill and in Westmont coming off the Cooper River Bridge. The repairs on Cuthbert were done for the day, so we were able to continue the route normally this time.

Since I was getting off at the Audubon Shopping Center, I decided to get what very little grocery shopping I had planned done. I really didn't need much. I ate out a lot this week. I just bought navy beans and tomato sauce to replace what I used in the soup yesterday. Needed cooking spray - I'm almost out. Eggs were $1.29 (and they'll be even cheaper on Sunday and Monday - 49 cents!).

Got my schedule too, since I was there. It's the best schedule I've had in months. One early day on Thursday, one slightly late day on Monday, and I'll have to miss the Eagles game Sunday. Otherwise, Tuesday and next Saturday off, and more hours.

Went straight home after that. After I put everything away, I heated up leftover bean soup for dinner. Ate while I played Lego Star Wars. Jumped around a bit tonight. Started with the very complicated "Dagobah" in The Empire Strikes Back. Having a wide variety of characters and abilities at my command really helped with this one. This time, I got 7 pieces and the red brick. On my first go-around, I couldn't find any pieces.

Didn't have nearly as much luck with "Death Star Escape" in New Hope. On one hand, I was able to get more pieces and the red brick. I still had so much trouble with that one part where you have to attempt to assemble a mosaic while being shot at by hoards of soldiers, I finally exited early.

"Battle of Kashyyak" in Revenge of the Sith had a similar problem. I did fine in the Wookie village, picking up a couple more pieces and the red brick...but once you get out of the village, you enter a battle zone. It's hard to do anything when you're constantly being pelted with gunfire from clones and battle droids, even when you have Sith, Jedi, and Wookies on your side. Never got True Jedi, but I did get more than half the pieces.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Walk In Oaklyn

It was still sunny when I started off the morning with breakfast and more Scooby Doo. "What a Knight for a Knight" is the original pilot episode of Scooby Doo, Where are You? The kids find a car with a knight who seems to be the driver. Turns out this is the Black Knight, a supposed cursed set of armor. The professor who was supposed to have taken him to the local museum has vanished...and the knight seems to have come to life!

Headed out around 11 for a walk around Oaklyn. Ended up first at the Oaklyn Library. They were actually pretty busy for Thursday, with several people on the computer and looking at newspapers. I wish they hadn't been talking politics. I'm already sick of that subject, and we're still a few weeks away from the presidential election. The adult DVDs really needed organizing. Shelved loose kids books laying around the children's area as well.

It's been a while since I've been to the House of Fun. Decided to browse around, just for something to do. It was nearly noon by then, and they were quiet as can be. I explored the DVDs, books, and Star Wars action figures for me and the wrestling action figures for Lauren, but found nothing interesting.

Strolled down the White Horse Pike to WaWa for a treat. They were surprisingly quiet for 12:30. Usually, the lines are going across the store during rush hours! They were able to quickly prepare my Mint Cookies and Cream milkshake. (I should have asked for a straw. It wasn't that thick. I ended up eating very minty whole milk, basically.)

Took a walk around the neighborhood, since it was still fairly nice at that point. The trees are finally starting to show signs of changing color. You can just barely see bright yellow or brick red on some. Most homes are decorated for Halloween now. Porches are festooned with sheet ghosts and witch banners "running into" railings. Bushes drip with cotton cobwebs. Rose and Craig's front stoop is guarded by two cute inflatables, a black cat and a bat with purple wings.

Had a quick leftovers lunch when I got in. Ran another Scooby Doo, Where are You? episode as I ate. It's a "Hassle In the Castle" when the gang is marooned on a deserted island. They head for an old castle, hoping to find help. What they find is a spooky Phantom who demands that they leave. The kids sense something strange is going on, especially when Daphne disappears...

Worked on my story for a few hours. Something is trying to scare the kids out of the house. They find fake bats, hear spooky sounds, and the lights and fireplace seem to turn on without any assistance. Rey finally finds Armitage Hux, one of the members of their rivals the First Order Gang, in a closet, tossing bed sheet ghosts in her face. She demands the others show themselves. Most of them emerge from around the house. It's on their turf, and they don't want the kids there. The Resistance Kids point out they have more right than they do - they actually asked for permission. They're going to have their Halloween party, no matter what.

(I'm glad I got home when I did. Dark clouds were gathering even as I walked in the door. By the time I was working on my story, it had started showering. It showered on and off for the rest of the evening.)

Finished out the Scooby Doo disc as I made Bean, Pasta, and Fall Vegetable Soup for dinner. The gang run into "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts" while visiting a local castle. A vampire, a wolf man, and Frankenstein's monster all seem to be determined to keep them out.

"Scoo-Bee or Not to Scoo-Bee" is an episode from the early 80's show The New Scooby Doo Mysteries that featured Shaggy, Scooby, Scrappy, and Daphne. The quartet land in Denmark, where they stay at the very castle that Hamlet once lived in. The area is being menaced by a pair of sea monsters. They're surprised when they get aid from none other than the ghost of Hamlet's father!

Started Lego Star Wars while the soup was cooking and ate dinner as I played. Did two Empire Strikes Back levels. "Escape From Echo Base" was more problematic than I thought it would be. There were areas that took forever because they were so slippery, characters would just slide back down when they tried to jump them. (Although this could be pretty funny, since many characters have unique ways of sliding. Wicket the Ewok goes down on his belly, and Han Solo rolls down.) At least I got most of the pieces and the red brick.

Had less luck with "Betrayal at Bespin." This was another one where I kept finding more and more corridors and getting more and more lost. In both cases, there were pieces I still couldn't figure out how to get to, and I never did get "True Jedi." I did get a few more pieces and the red brick here too, though.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mysteries and Meddling Kids

Started the day with breakfast and some Scooby Doo. I actually have a lot of the episodes on this set already, starting with "Scooby Doo and a Mummy Too," from the original Scooby Doo, Where are You? The gang gets wrapped up in a mystery when a pharaoh's curse unleashes a living mummy that seems to turn people into stone. Now they need to figure out why the mummy is after a coin that Shaggy found amid the Egyptian exhibits.

Did a little writing after breakfast. The gang finally heads out, picking up their friend Kaydel Ko along the way. Rey's insistence on going to the Skywalker Manor to check out where to put the decorations isn't well-received. It's getting dark out. Maz, their landlady, is expecting them. Rey finally talks them into it. They arrive at the crumbling, spooky Victorian Gothic home. The outside is filled with spiderwebs and hanging gingerbread trim that looks like teeth over the porch. The inside is a little cleaner, to their surprise. Someone has been here recently...

Continued Scooby Doo as I ate lunch and got ready for work. "The Headless Horseman of Halloween," from the mid-70's Scooby show, is the first of three Halloween episodes done by this franchise. Scooby Dum, Scooby's hillbilly cousin, joins the kids as they attend a Halloween costume party put on by rich Mrs. Crane and her daughter Beth. They're the descendants of Ichabod Crane, who was said to have lost his head to the infamous Headless Horseman. The Horseman suddenly returns, insisting that Mrs. Crane give up a priceless diamond necklace. The kids think there's something a bit phony about this, especially when her nephew insists on putting it in the vault himself...

Today was the first time I've worked six hours in at least a month. It was...totally painless, to my surprise. We were mostly pretty quiet, and never more than steady at rush hour. I spent the first half of my shift doing returns. Headed outside to do carts and gather baskets for the last few hours. At least it was a nice day for it, sunny, breezy, and warm.

Resumed Scooby Doo when I got home and had leftovers for dinner. The kids are wondering "Which Witch Is Which?" when they encounter a witch and a zombie in a spooky swamp. They skipped ahead to the early 2000's show What's New, Scooby Doo? for "Fright House of a Lighthouse." The kids are visiting Fred's uncle on a small, remote island. A ghostly lighthouse keeper has been wrecking havoc on the light house, letting ships run aground. He's worried it'll keep supplies from getting to the island. The gang has to find out who's really behind both the lighthouse keeper and a scary ghost ship, while Velma deals with a snooty mystery-solver who seems to think she can do everything better than the kids can. 

Finished the night with more Lego Star Wars. Did "Chancellor In Peril" and "Ruin of the Jedi" from Revenge of the Sith. Other than picking up a few more pieces, I didn't have much luck with either. I'm still having problems jumping between those platforms in "Ruin," and I couldn't figure out how to open up a lot of areas. Couldn't find the red brick in either level, either.