Friday, April 21, 2017

Just Leave Everything to Me

Slept in a little more than I have lately. When I did get up, I put on some more Rick Steves' Europe as I had breakfast. While Berlin's modern and Cold War architecture doesn't appeal to me in the way the fairy tale landscapes elsewhere in Germany do, this is one of the few episodes where either I or people I know lived through most of the history discussed. I remember watching the Berlin Wall come down on my tiny old black and white TV in 1989. Now, most of what's left of it is an outdoor art gallery. A checkpoint is a museum. There's not much more than foundations left of most of the Nazi buildings (except for one large government building that now houses the financial offices).

Did a Three Stooges short while getting organized. Shemp joins with the guys out west in "Punchy Cowpunchers." The trio are accidentally corralled to help a singing cowboy round up three bandits who are going to rob a saloon. While the bar maid who loves the cowboy is handling the bandits in her own way, Shemp tries hiding from the bandits in a safe. He refuses to let them open the combination, so they try blasting him out!

First on the to-do list was a run to the Acme for this week's groceries. I was going to hold off until after work tomorrow, but I figured I might as well get it done. I didn't need much, anyway. They had turkey legs on sale with manager's coupons, for some reason. Grabbed the relatively cheap ground turkey, too. Bags of lettuce and salad mixes were on sale; grabbed baby spinach. Restocked grapefruit, bananas, white flour, Chobani yogurt, cereal (went with Acme's generic Honey Bunches of Oats and Almonds), canned tomato sauce, cheese (mozzarella), and corn meal.

Switched to The Backyardigans as I put everything away and rounded up the books and DVDs that needed to be returned. Uniqua is the sheriff in the peaceful town of Ping Pong Mesa, where all the residents love nothing more than to play ping pong. At least until Pablo rolls into town, with his amazing "Bandit Slam-It" move. He wins all the kids' paddles, including Uniqua's, and takes over the sheriff job. Uniqua goes out into the desert to learn a few fancy moves that'll beat that rogue penguin at his own game.

Headed out around 1 for lunch. Decided I'd try the Oaklyn Manor Bar, just two blocks down the street from me on West Clinton. Oaklyn is one of only two towns in the area that allows liquor (the other is Westmont), and the bar is very popular with locals. It went without saying that the bar was full, but the main dining area was relatively busy, too. I had to call for a waitress, and she took a while bringing my grilled chicken sandwich, but at least she was pleasant. The chicken was a little overcooked, but not bad, and it was laden with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado slices, and spicy mayo.

Cut through Newton Lake Park on my way to the Haddon Township Library, despite a cloudy and chilly day. Between the weather and it being about quarter after 2, the park was empty except for a flock of Canadian geese and a few moms with strollers. Too bad. They're missing some prime scenery. The park is really beautiful now, all emerald grass and lime-green leaves and yellow buttercups dotting the river banks.

The Haddon Township Library was fairly busy, especially once the kids let out. No audio books to shelve, but I did put away new releases and a bunch of kids' DVDs. Gave the kids' DVDs a good going-over and re-organizing, too. It took me so long, it was quarter of 4 before I headed out. I didn't take anything out this week. Didn't see anything I absolutely needed to watch, and I really want to focus on writing this week before I start getting read for Lauren's visit in mid-May.

Went straight home down Cuthbert Road and the White Horse Pike, ignoring the early rush hour traffic. The clouds had grown even darker while I was in the library. I felt the first little drops of rain as I crossed the Pike by the Ritz Theater and WaWa.

Needless to say, I went nowhere else. Worked on writing for a couple of hours when I got in. Henry, Charles, and Luke treat Leia and Breha to a delightful picnic in a meadow. They enjoy sandwiches, play badminton, and listen to Henry and Charles tell stories of their pirating days. At the end of the day, while gathering flowers, Leia starts to ask them about leaving. Luke's not leaving. Naboo is his home. Henry says he and Charles are, but he sounds less certain.

Broke around quarter of 7 to have leftovers for dinner. Continued The Backyardigans while I ate. Uniqua, Tasha, and Austin are on a "Garbage Trek" to round up all the trash in the galaxy. Klingons Tyrone and Pablo have another reason for wanting garbage - to power their ship. They keep tricking the others to get theirs, but when they end up getting trapped in the pull of a black hole, Tasha has to decide whether or not to trust them.

Tried another recipe from that one-bowl cookie book Lauren gave me for my birthday after dinner. "The Vermonter" is mostly butter, flour, brown sugar, and maple flavoring and syrup. While I had to replace honey for syrup, this did put that maple extract I picked up last fall during the Acme's big remodeling clearances to good use. They came out a little lumpier than I thought they would, but not too bad.

Put on Hello Dolly! while I baked. Dolly Levi (Barbara Streisand) is a professional matchmaker - and pretty much everything else - in early 20th century New York City. She's supposed to be helping the niece (Joyce Ames) of grouchy millionaire Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau) find a husband. What she really wants is to marry Horace herself, but he has his cap set for pretty milliner Irene Malloy (Marianne McAndrew). Meanwhile, Horace's overworked clerks Barnaby (Danny Locklin) and Cornelius (Michael Crawford) just want a day of adventure. Dolly pairs them off with Irene and her apprentice Minnie (EJ Peaker), then brings everyone together at the lavish Harmonia Gardens restaurant, just in time to join the band leader (Louis Armstrong, in his last movie role) for the title song. Even after disaster strikes, Dolly has a way of making sure everyone and everything comes out all right in the end...eventually.

One of my favorite musicals overcomes a lot of problems (overlong running time, Streisand being miscast, Crawford's in-and-out accent) with some fabulous numbers and a marvelous sense of detail. All that money really went somewhere - you do feel like you're seeing early 20th century Yonkers and New York. (In fact, my mom used to use this movie as a springboard for discussing the era with us girls when we were younger.) The gorgeous costumes are particularly well-done.

A long-time family favorite, this one used to turn up a lot on TV during my childhood. Even my brother loved this one, one of the few musicals he used to request constantly. If you're a fan of Streisand, songwriter Jerry Herman, or the big musicals of the 60's and early 70's, this is one of the best of the era and his heartily recommended.

Oh, and it did finally start raining harder around the time I was finishing out Dolly. We even had a brief thunderstorm at one point. The rain seems to be gone now, but it's supposed to rain at least a little all weekend. We'll see what happens.

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