Friday, June 30, 2017

In Our Home Town

It was hazy and sunny when I got up this morning. Started my day with breakfast and Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater shorts based around favorite movies and beloved blockbusters. "Paws: The Great White Dog Shark" is wrecking havoc, including destroying Catalina Pier. Lifeguard Sam, Surfer Kitty, and Professor Chip head into the open ocean to figure out what made him go bad.

Hello Dorothy is off to see "The Wizard of Paws" when she's swept from her home in Catfish to a land over the rainbow. The Tin Penguin, Scarecrow Chip, and Cowardly Melody Rabbit try to help her get to Anchovy City and avoid the Wicked Witchie Catnip.

"Kitty and the Kong" has Grinder as the famous big ape and Kitty as the girl he has in his paw. Catnip brings him to New York as a major attraction, but he's too big for the Big Apple and ends up wrecking havoc.

Kitty is "K.T: The Kitty Terrestrial" who has been accidentally left behind on Earth. Sam, Chip, and My Melody help her phone home and avoid scientists Catnip and Grinder.

Dressed the American Girl dolls for the 4th of July and early summer after breakfast. Samantha wears her Middy Dress and Tam and the black tights and black-and-white boots from her Flower-Picking Dress. Molly's in her sailor-style Camp Gowanigan Uniform and Saddle Shoes. Josefina sports her Indigo Skirt and Camisa and her meet outfit moccasins. Whitney's ready to dance in the red and blue-sequined dance costume that was sold when AG had shows on during the early-mid 2000's and the glittery red tap shoes. Jessa's got the peasant blouse made with "antique-look" American flag fabric Lauren sent for Christmas a few years ago, a pair of jean shorts I found at a craft show about 4 years ago, and the blue Springfield Collection sneakers with no socks. Left Felicity in her blue and white floral gown. It suits the holiday, and I really don't have much else to put her in.

After I finished, I made my grocery list, then headed out to the Acme for this week's grocery trip. Found ground turkey with a manager's coupon. Cherries were 99 cents a pound with a coupon in this week's flyer, and blueberries were buy-one, get-one. Raspberries were cheap, too. There was an online coupon for free Acme generic napkins. Restocked canned mandarin oranges, brown sugar, skim milk, eggs, honey, bananas, canola oil. cereal (went with generic Bran Flakes), Coconut gelato (ice cream), and yogurt for lunch this week.

The new schedule was up by the time I arrived. For once, I don't mind not having off again until next Friday or working on the 4th of July. I only work four hours on the 4th, and they're early hours. First of all, I need the money. The extra hours last week were a huge help. Second, I haven't really been doing much on Tuesdays outside of counseling. Third, the weather is supposed to be between hot and lousy this week. I'm probably better off moving around at work. Fourth, I wasn't really expecting to get the 4th off, anyway. It looks like a LOT of people went on vacation, and I'm used to working this holiday from living at the Jersey Shore.

Got in around quarter after 1. Ran an episode of Max & Ruby while having lunch, putting everything away, and getting organized. "Ruby's Loose Tooth" has vanished! She won't let Max have more of Grandma's Triple Coconut-Nut Crunch Muffins until they find it. Ruby's trying to get a soccer goal against older boy Roger in "Ruby Scores!", but Max's robots keep getting in the way. Max just wants to go in the water in "Max's Sandcastle," but Ruby would rather work on her creation and send him to get more items for it.

Headed out around 2 to run errands. First stop was Dollar Tree. I forgot to get sponges here on Tuesday. Bought a much-needed bottle of water, too. It was hazy and hot today, though not really that humid. This time, the nice wind didn't help much. A second line opened a minute after I got in, and once again, I was in and out.

The Haddon Township Library was bustling today, and their DVD cart was overflowing. I had piles of DVDs, in the kids' and adults' section, to shelve. It took me so long, I had just enough time to rent Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Doctor Strange, the newest Scooby Doo collection Scooby Doo and the Creepy Carnival, and the final Penderwicks book to date, The Penderwicks In the Spring, before heading out.

I took the short way home down Cuthbert Road and across the White Horse Pike so I had plenty of time to enjoy Oakyn's Final Friday Food and Farm Festival. This started last year on the block of West Clinton Avenue where Studio LuLoo and the restaurants are. It proved to be so popular, it was brought back this year. They were packed when I arrived, even after having only been open for an hour. Food trucks mainly dominate this town block party, but there were also craft sellers, a small farm stand, Studio LuLoo doing chalk drawings and airbrush tattoos for the kids, and a booth for the Oaklyn Library manned by the morning librarians. I chatted with them briefly before checking out the food trucks. They were so expensive, I just bought two slices of pizza and a can of Dew SA from Phillies Phatties and ate it outside.

Did a little bit of writing when I got home. Vader has returned to Nabarrie Palace in preparation for the Diamond Jubilee Ball. Palpatine is there, too. He wants to take Luke as his second apprentice and leave Vader on the Death Star. Vader's not happy about not being able to teach his son the ways of the darkness...and is beginning to wonder if his boss really has his best interests at heart.

Broke at 7 to play Lego Clone Wars. Went back and did "Battle of Geonosis," this time with the Minikit Detector on. I did find three minikits and got True Jedi, neither of which I'd done the first time out. A fourth minikit required the dark Sith magic to retrieve. I did find the x6 red brick at the main spaceship hub, but it costs waaay more than I could afford at the moment.

Finished the night online while watching Summer Holiday. Mickey Rooney, Gloria DeHaven, and Walter Huston headline this 1948 nostalgic musical. Based after the play Ah Wilderness, Rooney is Richard Miller, a teenager just out of high school with a lot of idealistic notions about the rights of the common man. DeHaven is Muriel, his girlfriend who is nervous about all his affection, including kissing. His newspaper owner father Nat (Huston) mostly supports his son, standing up for him when Murial's father gets upset over Richard spouting all his common man talk to her. Heartbroken, Richard tries to prove he's ready for love by getting drunk with a dance hall girl (Marilyn Maxwell)...and figures out that maybe he's not as ready as he thinks. Meanwhile, Aunt Lilly (Agnes Moorehead) is waiting and waiting for Uncle Sid (Frank Morgan) to sober up and propose.

It's a shame this sweet musical sat on the shelf for two years and was a flop in the late 40's. I think it's mostly adorable. (Although Lilly does have a point about the family treating Sid's alcohol problem like a joke - I doubt any of them would be laughing today.) This was one of director Rouben Mamoulien's last musicals. I love his trademark dialogue flowing easily into the music, especially in the opening number. Rooney and DeHaven are way too old for their roles; Huston, Moorehead, and Morgan are much better as their elders.

If you're a fan of other excursions into musical Americana such as Meet Me In St. Louis or On Moonlight Bay, this is one Summer Holiday you may enjoy as much as I do.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Final Weirdness

Began another sunny, breezy morning with more Peanuts. You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown has Chuck and Marcie entered in the decathlon at their town's all-school track meet. Their biggest competitors are Freddy from Fremont and the Masked Marvel (aka Snoopy). While Freddy and Snoopy brag, boast, and insult one another, Marcie and Chuck show nothing but good sportsmanship. It comes down to the final race, the marathon. Chuck's hoping he can win the day, if he can stay on the track.

Hit the laundromat as soon as I finished breakfast. I didn't have a huge load, but I wanted to get it done before the heat becomes unbearable over the weekend. I timed it right. There was only one other person when I arrived around 10:30. By the time it started getting busier, my load was done. (I even saw one of my co-workers.)

Put everything away when I got home, then had a fast lunch while listening to one of my K-Tel 70's records, Starflight. Wrote at the computer for a couple of hours after that. After Luke uses the Force to free the Ewoks, they all flee via mine train (in a sequence inspired by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Henry, Luke, Rusty, and Charles out-ride Hux and arrive at the entrance, only to find Hux and his men have beaten them there.

It's The White Swan to the rescue as Leia and the Ewoks whom they befriended bombard the Coruscant soldiers with rocks and spears. They're overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and Hux once again finds himself humiliated. Charles wants to tear him limb from limb. Henry gets a better idea when he realizes that Cedric and Hux share a similar build...

Broke at quarter after 2 to start getting ready for work. Ran an episode of The Backyardigans as I did the dishes, packed lunch and my cell phone, and changed into my uniform. Pablo wants to "Catch that Butterfly" in a third season episode done to comic opera. Stagecoach drivers Uniqua and Tyrone are happy to oblige...until his chase destroys their vehicle and leaves them going down river rapids and up a steep, crumbling cliff.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - mostly dead as a doornail. It did pick up enough by 5 that I spent a bit more time outside. Not entirely a good thing. It also got much hotter by 3, into the upper 80's, though it remained windy and relatively dry. I also did the outside trash and a couple of returns. Thankfully, by the time the one girl they had helping me went home sick (again, for the second time in a little over a week), we were only a half-hour from the night bagger's arrival.

Hit the shower when I got home, then cranked up the air conditioning and went online. Ran Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as I chatted with Lauren. And you thought the whole thing with the whales was strange? Get a load of this story. Most of the crew of the Enterprise is on shore leave when they get a distress call from a planet where three ambassadors for peace are being held hostage. It turns out that Spock's half-brother Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) simply wanted to steal a ship to take him to the mythical planet of Sha Ka Ree, where he hopes to find God. Captain Kirk (William Shatner, who also directed) thinks he's nuts, and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is of a similar opinion. Most of the crew ends up under his thrall when he uses his mental powers to make them adore him. Even when they find what Sybok's been looking for, it's nothing like they expect. Meanwhile, a bored Klingon captain pursues them throughout the galaxy, simply for something to do.

Shatner not only directed, but came up with the story idea for this, and...yeah, it's a mess. I can see why this is considered to be by far the worst of the original Star Trek films of the 80's and 90's. The plot starts with one idea, then for some reason, drops it before it's gotten close to the midway point. Just rescuing hostages from a devastated planet would have probably been enough. The crew being so easily brainwashed (especially after they worked together beautifully in the last film) didn't sit well with me, either. The special effects, from the Enterprise to the "God," look cheap and dreadful.

There are a few good things to be found, starting with Jerry Goldsmith's stirring score. Some of the actors give it their all (even when the script isn't wonderful), including Lucknbill and DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy. And once again, they do get some (minor) props for trying something different.

I've read online that even some huge Star Trek fans skip this one and go straight to The Undiscovered Country. Unless you're seriously crazy about the franchise or the cast, you may want to do likewise.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Breeze

Started off the day with breakfast and the Backyardigans DVD I picked up at the Oaklyn Library yesterday. I originally took this out when the library got it around December 2009; it's the only Backyardigans DVD Oaklyn got that Haddon Township didn't. The fourth season episode "Robot Rampage" was the last of the three hour-long Backyardigans specials. Disco accompanies the tale of Austin and his Robot Roscoe, who are repair men in futuristic Mega City. Austin's not getting much business. Robots never break down in Mega City...until Uniqua, Tasha, and Tyrone's robots malfunction. Now Austin has to keep Roscoe out of the flippers of Professor Bug (Pablo), who wants all the robots in the city to do his bidding.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning. Hux takes his men down into the shaft to inspect the workers. His men claim they've heard a strange moaning sound and insist it's the ghost of the murdered Jedi Guards, who kept the secrets of the Khyber crystals to the order alone until Vader revealed them. Hux follows his men into the tunnel where the noises are coming from. They hear sizzling...and see two cloaked figures that seem to glow with an unearthly light. The smaller accuses him of forcing the natives to work in the mine and stealing the crystals for his and Coruscant's use. The soldiers are afraid, but Hux doesn't believe in ghosts. He starts to melt the crystal...

Broke for lunch and baking around 1. I wanted to make blueberry muffins while it was still cool enough to do so. Continued with The Backyardigans as I baked. Conductor Uniqua and Pablo Pablovich of Imperial Russia go on a merry chase to "Catch That Train," before Czar Tyrone discovers there's no one driving it. The trio don't have much more luck with a wormen that's been doused with Pablo's growth formula in "Attack of the 50 Foot Wormen." While excitable Pablo works on a formula to shrink the critter, Uniqua and Tyrone try to catch it, before it does more damage.

Headed to work a little bit early...which was completely unnecessary. We were dead the entire afternoon. It didn't even take me long to round up carts, with or without help. I cleaned the bathroom (twice - someone supposedly made a mess the second time, though I didn't see it), bagged the trash, gathered baskets, and did some bagging. Besides it being the middle of the week, the end of the month, and less than a week before one of the major holidays of the summer, it was just too nice a day for anyone to want to hang around in a grocery store. It remained sunny, breezy, and in the lower 80's, with nary a clouds in the brilliant cyan sky.

Took out my own trash when I got home, then changed, put away the blueberry muffins, and washed the muffin tin. Finished out the night with Charlie Chan In Shanghai as I went online. Charlie (Warner Oland) is in one of the largest cities in China, seeking an opium smuggling ring. A friend of his (David Torrence) holds a banquet in his honor. An ingenious gun planted in a box kills his friend when he opens it. His secretary Philip (Jon Hall) is the main suspect, but Charlie begins to wonder when there are two attempts on his life, and he and his son Lee (Keye Luke) are kidnapped. When Phillip's fiancee (Irene Hervey) helps him to escape, their guilt seems all but assured. Charlie's not so certain, especially since the FBI agent who's been aiding him (Russell Hicks) seems a bit cagey about their meeting the opium gang at the sketchy Versailles Club.

Definitely one of the twistier Chan mysteries I've seen. There's some genuine suspense to this one, especially with Charlie's life on the line. This is on the Charlie Chan Collection 1 DVD set if you're interested, as well as available on YouTube as of this writing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's a Beautiful Day, Charlie Brown

Started a gorgeous morning off with breakfast and He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. Chuck's off to summer camp with Marcie, Linus, and Re-Run. (Peppermint Patty, who can't stand that her best friend is having fun with her crush without her, joins in later.) There's a mean boy who is winning all the kids' marbles, including Re-Run's. Angry for once in his life, Charlie Brown opts to fight back, learning about marble-playing from Snoopy before going up against the kid. Chuck may be bad at baseball and kite flying...but he proves that he is good at standing up for his friends.

Spent the next few hours writing. Leia and Luke have their encounter on the bridge outside the village. Luke does reveal to Leia that she's his sister. He will go against Vader eventually...but not now. Vader's not in the area, anyway. He went back to Nabarrie Palace. When Henry comes out, he ends up holding both of them.

Broke around noon for a quick lunch. Started It's a Short Summer, Charlie Brown while I ate. In this earlier summer camp tale, Chuck and the boys just can't seem to beat Peppermint Patty and the girls at anything at camp, from swimming to softball. It doesn't help that the girls tease them obnoxiously about it. The boys' only hope to save face is the Masked Marvel (aka Snoopy) going up against Lucy in arm wrestling.

Headed out at 12:30, making my first stop at the Oaklyn Library. It was too nice a day for anyone to want to be inside for long. I saw one older woman who stopped to chat with the librarian and look over the piles of children's books they still have for sale after their big book sale a few weeks ago. I organized DVDs and looked over board books. Ended up buying two DVDs for 50 cents off the DVDs for sale rack, a public domain copy of the Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette and a Backyardigans set I didn't have, Robot Repairman.

Next up was a very short stop at Dollar Tree. I write my work schedule for the week and any chores or errands I need to do on a dry erase board. I started using them in college when I saw other students who had dry erase boards with their class schedules on their doors or mini-refrigerators and thought it might be useful. My current black dry erase marker was obviously dying, and it was the last one from the previous pack. Quickly grabbed a new pack and, despite a long line, was in and out in five minutes.

I'm actually pretty glad I had counseling today. This was a perfect afternoon for a ride to Haddonfield. Once again, the sun was shining, a cool wind was blowing, and it was dry and warm, but not overly hot for this time of year, probably in the lower 80's. I took the long way across Haddonfield and Westmont, down Crystal Lake Road and then up to West Park Avenue and West End Avenue to King's Highway. Briefly explored a small local bookstore when I arrived before heading down the road to Mrs. Stahl's office.

I had a lot to discuss with her, mostly good news. I'm actually pretty proud of being able to get the food stamps on my own, with minimal pushing from parents. The last time I had food stamps, when I lived in Wildwood in the early 2000s, Mom practically had to beg me to get them. I now understand how much they can help when you need them. I enjoyed Lauren's visit here last month and am very much looking forward to heading up to Pittsfield to see her in a couple of weeks. The 4th of July and my sister's impending birth are coming up soon, too. I'm not 100% happy with the new front door, but at least Charlie's actually doing something about the apartment instead of constantly saying "soon."

My only real problems right now are my troublesome managers. One is very fussy, but means well. He's not really mean, just a fussbudget. The other is mean and nasty and is not well-liked by anyone. I'm crossing my fingers that both move on within the next few months, and whomever we get after them is an improvement.

I was a bit hungry after my ride and picked up a gelati at Primo's on the way down Haddon Avenue. Gelatis are a dessert that layers water ice and soft ice cream. I had coconut ice cream with pina colada water ice. It wasn't bad. The coconut ice cream didn't really have that much flavor, but at least it was sweet and didn't overpower the water ice.

Rode back to Oaklyn across Newton Lake Park. Needless to say on such a lovely afternoon, I dodged a lot of people out for a stroll or a walk, fishermen, and other bikers. The park is truly beautiful right now, still green and fresh-looking. Some of the cooler temperatures we've had lately have largely discouraged the thick algae we had last year, too.

I'd been wanting to take a swim in Dad and Jodie's pool, but either the weather would be bad or too hot to ride over there, or I would be too pooped. Since I figured I'd be going by there on my way home, I just brought my bathing suit and towel with me. Khai, Ryan, and Savannah were already in the pool when I arrived, playing with Craig and a giant inflatable banana float. Savannah was a little upset that her brother wouldn't stay in the shallow end with her. (She's only about 4 and is still learning to swim.) I raced her and watched her splash around. The kids were having such a great time, they refused to get out, especially Khai. He gave Craig a terrible time about it.

Had dinner about a half-hour later or so with Dad and Jodie. Jodie made breaded chicken patties with mozzarella cheese on hamburger buns, noodles with garlic and butter, and steamed spinach. Yum. I'm not overly fond of breaded patties, but the cheese made it palatable. I had a ton of spinach and noodles. Dad and Jodie and I watched Law & Order re-runs and the news on Fox 29 as we ate.

Played some Lego Clone Wars when I got in. Did my second go-around on "Duel of the Droids." Disappointingly, other than picking up one more minikit piece and True Jedi, I didn't really do much here. A lot of extra areas require special characters or the dark Sith magic to get into. I did better in the spaceship hub. Used one of the R2 units to open another red brick, this one giving you the Minikit Detector.

Finished out the night online while watching last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. This version of the tale of a boy and his big green buddy moves from the New England seaside in the 1900's to the woods of the Northwest in 1977. Mr. Meachum (Robert Redford) dazzles local kids with his tales of a dragon who lives in the woods and breathes fire. His daughter, a forest ranger named Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), thinks his tales are silly...until she discovers a feral young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete swears he lives in the woods with his dragon Elliot and won't leave him. Grace, her lumber mill owner boyfriend Jack (Wes Bentley) and his little girl Natalie (Oona Laurence), take Pete in and teaches him about the modern world, but he still misses his friend. Jack's brother Gavin (Karl Urban) just wants to catch Elliot and put their small backwoods town on the map.

This was surprisingly sweet. It's not great, but the original wasn't, either. While it lacks the original's fun songs and roster of hammy character actors, it makes up for it with stunning visuals and a moving script. Howard and Redford play well off of each other as the father who tells stories and the daughter who only believes what she sees. Laurence and Fegley also do well as the kids who know in their hearts that Elliot is real. And the animation on Elliot is phenomenal, especially his furry body and expressions.

My main complaint is that Gavin's story seems a bit forced. Even in the original, the villains actually had a purpose for wanting Elliot. Here, Gavin just wants to show off, and it drags down the third act.

This isn't something I expected Disney to remake, or even thought they'd actually remembered they made the first time. I'm kind of glad they did. This is a rare remake that's at least on a par with the original. (And if they have to do remakes, at least in this case they picked something obscure that could actually stand for the updating.) Highly recommended for families or those just looking for a nice, solid drama about a boy, a dragon, and their love of nature.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hair-Raising Adventures

I started off my morning with writing. The guys have gone after Leia...and find themselves caught in a net. Turns out it was left by more of the same primitive, animal-clad natives who rescued her. They intend to eat Luke, Henry, Charles, and Rusty, but consider Cedric to be a god. Henry and Leia try to convince Cedric to free them. He doesn't think they'll listen...until Luke makes him float through the air! Leia explains that they've been mistreated by Coruscant. Many of their people were forced to work in the mines, and the blasts have scared off many of their usual prey. But the trio have a plan to fight back...

This time, I made sure to break around noon to have lunch. Since it was a beautiful day, breezy and much cooler, I figured I'd try the Ginger Molasses recipe from that cookie cookbook Lauren gave for my birthday. Oh yum. Chewy and spicy, maybe a little too sweet but not bad. I love molasses cookies, and these are pretty darn good. (I may just use less sugar the next time I have them.)

Finished Tangled Before Forever After, which I started during breakfast, while I ate and baked. Evidently, this is the pilot for Tangled: The Series, which debuted in the spring. Rapunzel is getting tired of being groomed as a princess. Her exuberance doesn't go over well with the snooty members of the court her parents have invited to the coronation, and neither does her friendship with Eugene. Her lady-in-waiting Cassandra is especially suspicious. Rapunzel's father is so worried about losing his daughter again, he's overprotecting her and the kingdom. She longs for freedom...but gets more than she bargained for when her and Cass' trip to where the golden flower used to grow ends with her hair long and golden again...and now, it's indestructible. While Rapunzel tries to figure out how to hide her regrown locks, Eugene practices to propose to her...and one of the guests plots revenge on the royal family.

I like but don't love Tangled, so I may not be the right audience for this. My main complaint is Cassandra. I know they're going for "tough sassy girl," but she comes off as more nasty and obnoxious at times, and her rivalry with Eugene doesn't help. Hopefully, they'll tone her down a tad as the series continues. The ending is almost sadly bittersweet, an odd choice for a Disney princess tale. I kind of wish her dad had been a little more understanding, but Rapunzel shouldn't have gone out, either. It's more than likely this is also something that'll change over the course of the series.

The DVD also contained a couple of shorts, mostly revolving around a member of the supporting cast. My favorite was the first one. "Checkmate" is a cute story told without dialogue. Pascal, Rapunzel's chameleon, wants Maximus the horse to play chess with him, but Maximus doesn't pay attention. He does everything he can to get the stoic equine to make his move.

Did an episode of Sailor Moon while getting ready for work. In the early second season, the Guardians are all going to appear in a local production of Snow White, featuring Mamoru as the prince. An desperately wants to be Snow White and kiss him, to Usagi's annoyance. She's not the only one who's jealous. Ali, An's lover, detests Mamoru and sends a monster to take him out. The Guardians jump into the spotlight to get rid of it.

Work was actually pretty quiet. While the carts were bad when I arrived, it wasn't really that busy. I was in and out all day. Bagged and gathered carts and trash along with rounding up carts. It was a gorgeous day for it. The sun was out, a stiff wind was blowing, and it was far cooler than it has been, a more typical for June lower 80's.

When I got home, I ate a quick leftovers dinner while finishing another Sailor Moon episode I started before I left. This time, An and Usagi are thrown together in detention. An is feeling weak and desperately needs energy. Vivacious Usagi is a perfect least until another monster sent by her lover gets out of control...

Ended the night with more Lego Clone Wars. Shooting down enemy vehicles outside the hub spaceship opened up an "Epilogue" mission. This is another military mission, this time taking place at night. It took me a while to be able to earn enough money to buy the tank with the laser I needed to take out some of the gold-plated laser satellites. When I did, I had to earn more money in order to buy the tanks I needed to take down the huge Zillow Beast. Fortunately, every time the beast threw things around, the debris falling to the grounds created piles of studs, so money wasn't a problem. Building enough to finally get them to give me the tanks was more trouble. I made so much money from the Zillow Beast's tantrum, I was able to afford to buy another red brick, the x 4, which I had been saving for.

Next time, we'll start the Free Play rounds and explore the spaceship hub further.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Golden Oldies Summer

I awoke to a very different morning, windy, sunny, and dry. The wind felt so delicious, I turned the air conditioner off and opened the windows. Celebrated the lovely weather with Blueberry Pancakes and one of my oldies album collections, Golden Treasures. This was one of my better record yard sale finds. Three discs cover the early history of rock, from "Yakety Yak" to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," with several novelties ("Harper Valley PTA," "Tom Dooley") along the way. I accidentally bought even more good collections. Another oldies set came with this one - someone must have forgotten to put them back in the right sleeve before they were sold, and I was in such a hurry, I didn't even realize it until much later.

Worked on writing for the next couple of hours. Henry thinks they managed to sneak their group past Vader at an installment at the base of the Endor mountains. Luke knows better. Vader is all too aware that his son...and another Force-user - are on that carriage. He has his own plans for them and lets them go through.

Endor is miles and miles of forest and craggy cliffs. It's also home to several officers on smaller carts. Henry tries to get rid of them, but they hear him. Luke and Leia go after them. Leia runs one off a cliff, but gets flung off hers. When she comes to, she encounters a little man dressed in what appears to be a bear outfit, holding a spear. He pokes at her, but she gets him to calm down by giving him part of her lunch.

Broke for more Golden Treasures and lunch around 1;30...which was a mistake. It was ten of 2 when I looked at my schedule and suddenly remembered that I had to be at work at 2, not 3! I have no idea why I thought it was 3. I work at 3 on Wednesday and Thursday. I had to rush around like crazy, change, and get everything together before riding as fast as I could. And I still got there just one minute late! I'm still pretty annoyed with myself about it.

And I couldn't afford to be late. Despite what the customer service desk representative claimed when I called her, we were busy when I arrived, and there were no carts. The bagger who was out there said we'd been on and off all day, but it had picked up at 1. I did do some returns and bagging later to cool off, but I was mostly outside.

When I got home, I went straight in the shower, then had dinner. Tried Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings after I ate. Unlike the Lego games, which are more-or-less platformers with little use of the Wii's "motion controls," Staff of Kings has you swinging the controller around to do almost everything, from punching Nazis to cracking the whip. I just couldn't get the hang of it. Those motion controllers may sound good on paper, but they can be a pain to use, especially for people like me with poor hand-eye coordination. It took me a while to get the hang of punching and hitting, and even then, I was mostly swinging and pushing buttons and hoping something would land.

Flying the plane did me in. Indy escapes from the Nazis in a bi-plane, shooting down several in the process. I couldn't do it. It was impossible for me to keep it in the air and make the steep turns the game required. I spent a half-hour trying to get even slightly further and was in tears when I finally gave up and went online instead. (And I had the game on "normal!")

Sorry Indy, but this is a bit much for me. I think I'll return to Lego Clone Wars the next time I'm in a video game mood and figure this out another time.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

In the Aftermath of the Storm

A windstorm hit around 6:30 this morning, waking me up and roaring like a lion all over the county. I listening to the wind howl and the rain and hail fail like cannonballs over my roof. For all the noise, it didn't last long. By quarter after 7, when I was up and reading in bed, it was gone and the sun was coming out.

Did a couple of Danger Mouse season 6 shorts while eating breakfast. It's a "CATastrophe" when a mechanical cat kidnaps Colonel K. Danger Mouse and Penfold get quite a surprise when they go after him. DM fights with his evil side at Stonehenge in "The Good, the Bad, and the Motionless." When Greenback brings "Statues" to life, Danger Mouse and Penfold have to figure out how to return them to normal. 

While it was sunny and still very windy when I headed to the Collingswod Farm Market at 9, it was also still a bit humid. The fallout from the morning's storm became clearer the moment I walked out the door. Branches, some as thick as my head, were strewn all over not only the back yard and side path, but the street as well. Some roads on the way to Collingswood were blocked from trees that had fallen over and needed to be moved or cut. 

Despite the mess, the Collingswood Farm Market was busier than ever with people buying produce for their graduation parties and barbecues. Asparagus is gone, but eggplants, peaches, nectarines, spring onions, and green beans made their debut today. I just opted for cherries, blueberries, bananas, and cucumbers. 

Took the long way home through Collingswood to dodge a couple of park trees that had fallen on the road at the intersection of Bettlewood, Lakeview, and Linwood. Stopped at CVS, since I had time and I was going in that direction anyhow. Picked up honey, their generic Sparkling Lemon-Lime soda, and a buy one, get one 50% off three-packs of CVS' generic soap sale.

Did more Danger Mouse when I made it home and started getting organized for work. "The Clock Strikes Back" when a time-traveling clock brings a magician who wants to take over the world. DM and Penfold turn his spells on him. The duo's wondering "Have You Fled From Any Good Books Lately?" when the monsters in a book given to Penfold by an alien come to life and the two have to get rid of them. (And this is the first and only episode I've ever seen take place entirely in Danger Mouse and Penfold's home in London.)

While I did clean the bathroom when I got in, did some bagging, and briefly wound up in a register, I was mostly outside gathering carts. The store became more and more busy as the roads cleared and the lights started operating again. The damage from the storm was worse than I'd initially believed. Westmont, Haddon Township, and Mt. Ephram got it the worst, including widespread power outages and tons of trees down. I heard people even mention a tornado touched down in Westmont, leaving a disaster in its wake. 

There was a reason we were busy, and it wasn't entirely the nice day or graduation parties. Apparently, the Westmont Acme was among the buildings that had lost power. Customers could purchase dry items in the store, but not perishables. Many of their regular customers ended up coming to us by default.

My schedule next week is, other than a later day next Saturday, exactly the same as this week's. No major plans besides counseling on Tuesday. I'm saving money for my rent and for vacation. 

Did a little bit of writing when I got home. Everyone's going their separate ways. Langdon, his friend Niem, and Wedge are going to catch up with the Death Star II and take that out. Henry offers his friend the Falcon, the fastest tub in the air. Henry's not too sure about it, but Langdon's happy to accept his offer. Maz Kantana sees them all off, making sure to give her crush Charles a big kiss before he goes (to his embarrassment). 

Broke around 6:30 for dinner. I had no idea what to do with the bay scallops (mini scallops) I bought yesterday, so I improvised. Sauteed carrots, onion, zucchini, and garlic, then added chicken stock, the scallops, and white cooking wine for Scallops with Early Summer Vegetables. Ate it on a bed of tri-color rotini pasta.

Put on two more Danger Mouse episodes as I cooked and ate. London's saying "Ee-Tea!" when all the world's tea goes missing. DM and Penfeld literally go to outer space to find it. They're "Lost, Found, and Spellbound" when they go to China in search of Dr. Squawkencluck and end up against a witch doctor. 

Switched to Meatballs after dinner. Tripper (Bill Murray) is the laid-back head counselor of Camp North Star, a low-budget facility in Canada. While the counselors in training pursue each other, he befriends a lonely camper named Rudy (Chris Makepeace) and chases the head female counselor (Kate Lynch). His early morning jogs with Rudy prove to be more than good bonding when North Star plays Camp Mohawk, it's snotty rich rival, and they need a runner for the marathon.

Murray and Makepeace steal this summer camp tale wholesale as the wackiest counselor in the north and the kid who just wants to be liked. Director Ivan Reitman thought so, too. A lot of the C.I.T's antics were cut in favor of more of them, and it works pretty well. If nothing else, the low-budget production assures that this is as complete a time capsule of its era as you'll get outside of home movies - breathy ballads and disco tunes on the soundtrack, tight shorts and knee-high socks on everybody, Tripper's attack on the female counselor coming off more like harassment and less like him being annoying today. 

If you're a fan of Murray, the 70's and 80's "slobs vs snobs" comedies, or the era, you'll want to check this one out. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Secret Agents and Daring Detectives

Kicked off a cloudy morning with breakfast and some particularly strange season 4 episodes of Danger Mouse. DM and Penfold follow Baron Greenback from Gibraltar to the "Tower of Terror" in New York City. The tower isn't so much terrifying as it is plain strange, as it's the home of a group of practical jokers. Elephants randomly stampede, people climb around on the ceiling, and DM somehow manages to walk off the edge of the film strip.

"Four Heads are Better Than Two," or so Colonel K thinks when he sends robot versions of Danger Mouse and Penfold off to a pinball palace that Greenback is re-configuring to rule the world. One pair has to find Agent 57, the master of disguise; the other must secure Greenback. The robots prove to be a little too much like their originals...and then the mechanical Penfold is caught by the Baron...

I was about to head out to the grocery store when I happened to peek in the mail box to see if anything came for me. Sure enough, my new food stamp card had arrived! I went inside to call Camden County and set a password for it, then went back out.

The card couldn't have come at a better time. While I didn't need a lot of groceries, I did have to pick up a few that were fairly expensive, like whole wheat flour. Found a breaded flounder fillet pack and a small container of mini-scallops with manager's coupons. Restocked yogurt, butter, shampoo, canned pineapple, peanut butter, vanilla, and ground chicken. Had an online coupon for the new Halo Top ice cream; decided I couldn't resist the red velvet. Needed Liquid Plumber badly for the sink in the kitchen. They were having a dollar sale on small baguettes; bought a sesame seed-topped one. Bought a Dasani Sparkling Water for the way home.

Returned to Danger Mouse as I poured the Liquid Plumber down the drain and put everything else away. Moved ahead to the shorter episodes of the sixth season as I got organized. The dynamic rodent duo discover that "Alping Is Snow Easy Matter" when they have to stop Greenback from defrosting the ice caps and flooding the world. Penfold's yelling "Aagggh! Spiders!" when Greenback's crow assistant Silletto uses one of his boss' machines to create giant arachnids. "One of Our Stately Homes Is Missing" when a beautiful old mansion is stolen and held for ransom. DM and Penfold help a fellow government agency recover it.

Went back out again to run more errands, this time starting at the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. The "smokin' hickory" wrap I had - grilled chicken with cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce - was amazing, thick and sweet and just tangy enough. As usual, I ate the pickles and cole slaw but put the bag of chips aside. I'm not a fan of chips. It was busy with people coming out of offices, though at least one couple had gone by the time I was finished.

Next stop was the Haddon Township Library. Spent an hour organizing the children's and adults' DVDs. The kids' area was especially bad. I doubt anyone's done that for a while. Someone did finally realize that we have so many Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine titles, they don't fit in with the rest of the discs anymore. They've been moved to their own shelves.

Took out quite a few movies this week. Grabbed the last two Charlie Chan titles the library had, In Egypt and In Shanghai, and the next Star Trek title, The Final Frontier. One of Disney's newest shows is Tangled Before Forever After, apparently about Rapunzel and Flynn's adventures before they get married. I liked the movie enough to give this a chance. Also found last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. Took out He's a Bully, Charlie Brown in honor of the start of summer.

Made two quick stops on my way back to Oaklyn. Finally dropped Dad-Bill's Father's Day card in the post office, since I was going by there anyway. Went around the corner to Dollar General for sugar.

My last stop of the day was at Dad and Jodie's house. I haven't been over there since Dana's graduation party at the beginning of the month. They were watching an old Law & Order episode with a neighbor when I came in. I told them about getting my food stamps and about the repairs on the house. Jodie told me that they did finally call Greyhound. They won't be sending the tickets until likely next week. They don't want us to lose them before I go, which is perfectly reasonable. And no, she hasn't heard about the doctor. Rose and Mom apparently have to sign things, too, and Rose's focus is more on the baby that's due in a month at the moment.

We went out to the pool for a while and ate cheese and crackers while we talked. Mary and Emily and their mom arrived twenty minutes later to go swimming. I decided it was time to head home. It was a tad less humid, but the sky was still off and on cloudy, and the wind was getting worse.

Did a little bit of writing when I got in. Henry has been officially made part of the newly combined League of the Crimson Hawk and Rebel Society. He's going to lead the group that'll help out the people being forced to work the mines in Endor. Leia and Charles sign up immediately. Luke and Rusty do it the moment they come in the door. Leia realizes there's something different about Luke, but he says they'll discuss it later...

Broke around 6:30 to have a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and leftover snap peas for dinner. Did some crocheting while I watched Charlie Chan In Egypt. Charlie is asked to help out while on holiday when an archaeologist disappears, worrying his already nervous daughter Carol (Pat Paterson). Neither his assistant Tom (Thomas Beck) nor Carol's doctor (Jameson Thomas), nor his brother, a fellow archaeologist (Frank Conroy) know where he is...until he turns up murdered. His son Barry (James Eagles) insists it was a curse, but Charlie thinks there's something more down-to-Earth involved when he discovers that priceless artifacts from the late professor's expedition have been turning up in private collections and museums.

On one hand, this is one of the more interesting early Charlie Chan stories. It makes far more use of the setting than In Rio, with its shadowy tombs and bustling markets. There's a fairly involving plot, too, especially the ingenious way the son is killed later. This is also the first Chan movie I've seen with no number one or two son around to flirt or cause trouble.

Unfortunately, this one is marred by some heavy-handed stereotyping, and not from Charlie Chan. Stepin Fetchit, (in)famous for his portrayal of the worst kind of lazy African-American, plays Tom's helper on the expedition. His bumbling cowardice is likely supposed to replace Charlie's sons as comic relief, but not only is his character obnoxious, but he has the most annoying high-pitched voice, too. And those of you looking for Rita Hayworth in this will be disappointed. She only has a few scenes as a native maid under the stage name Rita Cansino.

Recommended if you love the Chan series or Indiana Jones-style mysteries, but do keep in mind that this is entirely a film of its time, up to and including Fetchit.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Galactic Sea Quest

Began a hazy morning with breakfast and summer-themed, black and white Silly Symphony shorts. "Summer" and "Night" are basic "animals dance and sing in time to music," in this case, frogs, bugs, and other summer creatures and nocturnal animals. "Frolicking Fish," "The Spider and the Fly," and the final black-and-white Silly Symphony "Bugs In Love" have small creatures rescuing a pair of lovers from a larger intruder - the spider in "Spider and the Fly," a crow in "Bugs In Love," an octopus in "Frolicking Fish."

Hit the laundromat after breakfast to get that done. I didn't have a big load; figured I might as well get it out of the way. I picked the right time. It was just me and the talk show on NBC when I arrived at quarter of 10. By the time Rachel Ray was explaining how to make the meal of the day and it was getting busier, my clothes were in the drier. I worked on story ideas and half-listened to Rachel.

Put everything away when I got home, then worked on my story. Henry's back on his feet and ready to join Leia, Charles, and the servants for the next mission. Mon Mothma explains that the Rebels and the League of the Crimson Hawk are now working together. Wedge and the Rogues and Langdon and his men will take down the Death Star from the air, after Henry, Leia, and the others pose as a rich couple and their entourage to get aboard the ship and shut down its defenses. But first, they have to find out where Vader's getting his supply of khyber crystals and shut that down, too...

Made turkey burgers and a green salad for lunch around 1:30. Watched an episode of Wonder Woman while I ate. "The Bermuda Triangle Crisis" from the early second season has the US claiming they want to make a nuclear testing ground on a certain island that's awfully close to Diana's homeland. While Diana decides what to make of her mother's words, she and Steve go into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle to figure out why planes are vanishing...and discover a master villain who intends to take over the world.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday, this time without the crazy storm shortly before break. It remained hazy, hot, and humid all afternoon. I rounded up carts for a half-hour when I came in and an hour before I left, but there really wasn't that much to do. Gathered trash and baskets inside and did a short test on the store's harassment policies. We were on-and-off steady afternoon, with many people likely either hitting the Shore after their kids got out of school or avoiding the heat.

Ran Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as I soon as I voyaged home myself. After being court-martialed for stealing a ship and disobeying orders in the last movie, the former crew of the Starship Enterprise, including the reborn Spock (Leonard Nimoy), discover that the only creatures that can communicate with a probe that's wrecking havoc on Earth are humpback whales. The creatures are extinct in the 23rd century...which is why Admiral James Kirk (William Shatner) takes his crew back in time to 1986 San Francisco to find examples of the species while they were still alive. While Spock and Kirk convince a marine biologist (Catherine Hicks) that they're from outer space and they need whales, the rest of the crew tries to find a nuclear reactor to power their ship and build a space for the enormous aquatic mammals.

This is one of three Star Trek movies my family taped off cable in the 80's and early 90's. (Final Frontier and Undiscovered Country were the others.) As a kid, I considered it to be too weird for words, especially compared to the grander Star Wars saga, and thought it pushed its "save the whales" message a little too hard. Nowadays, I see this as a breath of fresh air, and possibly one of the most unique science fiction films on celluloid. This is more of an action-comedy than a typical Star Trek entry, and it's actually rather charming, especially the crew's attempts to "blend in" in the already strange 1980's.

Not for hard-core action junkies or those who prefer their sci-fi dark and heavy, but if you ever wanted to see how the Star Trek characters would interact with the "normal" world, or just wanted to try the lighter side of Trekkie-dom, this is better than you might think from the plot description. (However, I do recommend seeing Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock first to get a better understanding of the characters and situations.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Surprise Summer Storms

Kicked off the first day of summer with a Backyardigans sports episode. Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, and Austin take part in a "Race Around the World," while Tasha's the judge and announcer. Each of the other kids have won a gold medal in an event before. Austin's worried that he won't get far. This is his first time racing. His friends may have the advantage of experience, but they're only good at one sport each. Not only is Austin a better all-arounder, but he has a fanny pack filled with everything he needs. He teaches the group a lesson in being prepared when he shares the things in his pack with them.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon writing. As it turns out, Rusty Arlington was once the repair man for the Jedi Guards and the royal family. Baron Anakin Skywalker had been a good friend of his, until he pledged himself to Prime Minister Palpatine and was maimed in a fencing match with Ben that ended badly.

This is when Ben also spills the beans about the rest of Luke's family. He has a twin sister. Luke figures it out instantly. His sister is Leia, whom he's felt connected to ever since her arrival back in May. Rusty explains that he and Padme hadn't wanted to separate them, but Ben, Bail, and Yoda felt it was for the best. Padme didn't live to see her daughter's first birthday. Most of Alderaan believes she died of her injuries from Anakin trying to throttle her, but Rusty claims it was a broken heart from her husband's betrayal that did her in.

The trio leave Ben, reassuring him that Luke will face Vader, even if he can't kill him. They head to the Takodana Inn, where the rest of the group is meeting, including crusty old Naval man Admiral Ackbar.

Broke around 1:30 to make salmon scampi and steamed green spring peas for a nice lunch. Watched Charlie Chan In Rio as I ate. Charlie (Sidney Toler) and his "Number Two" son Jimmy (Keye Luke) are in South America, hot on the trail of a woman who killed a man in Honolulu. Their trail leads them to the mansion of Lola Dean (Jacqueline Dalya), a popular singer. She was about to run off with her playboy fiancee (Ted North) and get married, but she's murdered before she can go anywhere. There's a house full of suspects who were there to celebrate her engagement, including her secretary Helen (Kay Linaker), her butler Rice (Leslie Denison), and her cute maid Lilly (Iris Wong) who flirts with Jimmy. The answer may lie with a broken broach and a psychic (Victor Jory) who hypnotized Lola and recorded her under his influence earlier.

Mixed feelings on this one. While I enjoyed the fairly unique premise and am happy Jimmy has more to do than fall in the water, I thought the whole thing with the psychic was a bit much. The biggest disappointment was the lack of use of the setting. This story could have been set anywhere without changing a thing. Nothing felt remotely tropical.

It's been nice to see the Charlie Chan movies again. I used to watch them with Mom on AMC as a kid, and caught them occasionally in college on TCM in the early 2000's. If you like classic detective stories (and don't mind Charlie being played by a white man), for the most part, these are pretty fun.

It was just a little cloudy when I headed to work. Though I spent most of the first hour and a half doing the inside trash and the bathrooms, I was outside for the majority of the evening. Even as I started gathering carts, deep, dark clouds were building up on the horizon. Once again, I got very lucky. I'd just finished getting carts from the side of the building when Mother Nature unleashed her full fury. It was windy, pouring - the whole works. I could barely control the five carts I'd gathered! Thankfully, I went right inside after that for break. By the time I came back out, the rain was down to showers. They were gone all together when I headed home, leaving a humid and slightly cooler night.

As soon as I got home, I jumped straight in the bath. I so needed that after doing more work than I'd originally planned this week. I listened to one of my Reader's Digest Operetta CDs and looked over vintage cake decorating magazines.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dancin' In the Streets

I spent the morning cleaning the apartment and returning it to normal. I ran into Charlie on the way back to my place yesterday. He says he's not planning on doing anything else with the roof until I'm on vacation. Good. I was able to put away anything that was still out (including the cookbooks on the floor by the TV), dust the apartment, and put up the patriotic decorations for Independence Day. I meant to put them up last week in time for Flag Day, but I couldn't do that with the workers around. This also means I'll have time to move anything that may be in his way next month before I leave.

Watched Recess: School's Out as I worked. In honor of summer starting and the Oaklyn School letting out for the season tomorrow, I ran this unique ode to time off. T.J Detwiler's looking forward to a summer of mischief and least until he finds out his friends are all going away to camp. Bored, he accidentally stumbles upon what looks like a laser beam being worked on at the Third Street School. When he asks the head of the school, Principal Prickley (Dabney Coleman) to look into it, he seems to vanish right before his eyes! T.J eventually calls the others back to help him find out what's really going on at the school.

This is one of my favorite underappreciated Disney movies, but then again, I always liked the show, too. (And I'm not the only one who likes it. This was a surprise hit in 2001, bigger than Disney's "canon" animated film from that year, Atlantis: The Lost Empire.) I also love the psychedelic late 60's-early 70's soundtrack that gives the movie it's wacky flavor. If you're a fan of late 60's rock or the show, this is worth checking out.

Headed out around quarter after 12 to do some volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. I was going to hold off on it until later in the week, but it was too nice to be inside all day. The library bore this out. One woman took out books; a father and his son checked out a computer. Otherwise, it was just me and the librarian. I spent the half-hour I was there organizing DVDs and looking over the kids' area.

Hit WaWa for a quick Turkey Swiss Hoagie on a whole wheat "shorti" roll and a Sparkling Ice Cherry Limeade, then ate them on the picnic tables at West Clinton Avenue. The real-life elementary school kids were heading out of school early. I got to watch them congregate in twos and threes and groups, heading to Phillies Phatties for pizza or wishing Phillies Yummies was open. (It doesn't open until 2.)

Among those on their way home were Khai and his grandmother, Craig's mother. Craig and Rose both had to work, so she ended up babysitting Khai this afternoon. Khai apparently wanted water ice, but he was going to have to wait.

Got home around 1:30. It was cool enough for me to make some quick Pineapple Muffins for dinner. Watched an episode of The Backyardigans as I baked. The kids also enjoy some funky psychedelic sounds as Coast Guard members Pablo, Uniqua, and Tyrone "Save the Day" and rescue fisher-hippo Tasha from increasingly dangerous waters. Thing is, Tasha has no desire to be rescued. All she cares about is catching a "whopper!"

Spent the next hour and a half before work writing. Before dying, Yoda confirms that yes, Baron Vader is Luke's father, and yes, he has more family than he previously believed. The voice of Benjamin Kenton further elaborates on this. Baron Anakin Skywalker had once been a good man and a decent husband to Queen Padme of Naboo. When the Jedi refused to let him become a master guard and the royal family would not officially declare him king, he joined up with Prime Minister Palpatine to overthrow both the guards and the royal family. Ben's worried that Luke may follow the same path, but Wedge and Rusty assure him that Luke's too nice of a guy for that.

Ended the day at work. I'm actually kind of glad I took the extra hours, and not just because of my paycheck. It was absolutely gorgeous today, sunny, breezy, and in the lower 80's. Pretty normal for this time of year. I was probably better off pushing carts than sitting around inside. I also assumed we'd be dead, and I was right. Not only were we not busy, but I had help later in the evening from the college boy who usually works the night bagging shift. Between him and me, we had no problems rounding up carts and gathering baskets and trash.

Monday, June 19, 2017

One Stormy Evening

Started off an on-and-off cloudy and sunny morning with breakfast, then taking down the spring decorations and putting up what very little I have for summer. Summer officially starts in two days, and I was overdue. Besides, Charlie still hadn't come back. I figured I was good to go. And when he does come back, there will be fewer knick-knacks to deal with. The only "decorations" I have for summer are a sunflower-and-heart-shaped wooden plaque, a small wreath trimmed with sunflowers, and a couple of beach and ocean stuffed animals - three flamingos, a whale, a small tomato clown fish.

Ran two beach-themed cartoon episodes while I worked. In the second season of Sailor Moon, the Guardians are on vacation on a tropical island. While they convince Rei to temporarily forgo training, Chibi-Usa befriends a baby dinosaur who rescues her from sharks. She gets a chance to return the favor - and the girls show that they can use their Guardian powers for something besides chasing villains - when a volcano erupts on the island, trapping the baby and his mother in a cave.

The Tiny Toons discover that "No Toon Is an Island" during the first season of Tiny Toon Adventures. Babs and Plucky encounter a treasure map at the beach that sets them off in search of golden booty. Even after finding the treasure, they learn a bit about the "Green-Eyed Monster"...and find a very different monster's been stealing their loot.

After I put everything away, I turned on the computer and tried to figure out why the internet wasn't working. I unplugged it and plugged it, cleared my cache, put it on Ethernet briefly. Nothing worked. I finally removed a driver, which did the trick. I haven't had any problems since.

Managed to squeeze in some writing time before updating my blog. Luke, Wedge, and Rusty go back to Dagobah to complete Luke's training. Wedge reassures Luke that everything will be fine with Yoda, but Luke senses something's wrong when he can't find the elderly Jedi anywhere...

Headed off to work at 3. Dark clouds had begun to build up during lunch. It even rained a little bit on my way, but it didn't last long. By the time I had put on my rain coat and was pulling into the Acme, it was gone.

But not done. The clouds were getting worse as I and two other baggers rushed around, gathering as many carts as we possibly could. It showered off and on while we worked. The weather didn't get really bad until around 5, by which time we'd filled both sides of the patio with carts and I was on break. Thick, dark gray clouds blanketed the sky, and the rain came down in buckets. The roof in the back storage area leaks - I quickly covered boxes of soda with a trash bag to keep them from getting too wet. (Someone removed them all together later.) Although the rain slowed down by the time I finished doing the inside trash and was back outside, it did continue to thunder and lightning for at least another hour. Thankfully, it slowed down enough around 7 for me to head home and only arrive a little wet. I needed a shower anyway, so I just got pre-wet.

After my shower, I made scrambled eggs with cheese, zucchini, and mushrooms for dinner, then watched Dead Men Tell while going online. This time, Charlie Chan is engaged by an eccentric old lady (Ethel Griffies) who owns a pirate map that once belonged to her ancestor. She's split the map into four pieces, giving one to each member of the group who's going to Cocos Island to find the treasure with her. Alas, she never makes it. She dies of fright and a bad heart after seeing a supposedly real pirate who resembles her ancestor. While number two son Jimmy (Keye Luke) keeps ending up in the drink, Charlie has to figure out who done it, before the boat leaves the dock.

Not quite as good as Opera and a little too much of Jimmy's antics for my taste, but the story and its resolution are fairly unique.

Oh, and the storms have continued off and on for the rest of the evening, though they seem to be off at the moment.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Restless Heart

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all, including those whose children are four-legged or feathered. :)

Second, I had a fairly quiet day. Slept in, then made some tasty Strawberry Pancakes while listening to Fanny. Fanny (Florence Henderson) is in love with Marius (William Tabbert), but he loves the sea more. After he's left for a sailing job, she discovers she's pregnant. She's pressured into marrying the older Panisse (Walter Sleazak) by her mother. Panisse is delighted at having a child, whether it's his or not, and raises the boy as his own. Marius tries to reclaim his family, but his father (Enzio Pinza) turns him away. When the son grows older and longs for the sea, too, the ill Parnisse has to decide how long he wants to cling to the past.

Harold Rome wrote some really lovely music for this dramatic tale of broken hearts on the French waterfront. Nice cast, too, including Henderson in one of her first major roles as the title character. If you enjoy the more romantic side of musicals, the CD for this is out of print, but can currently be heard on YouTube. (There was a movie in 1960 with Leslie Caron as Fanny and Maurice Chevalier as Panisse, but it used the music as background scoring and made it a straight drama.)

Texted Dad-Bruce and called Dad-Bill to wish them both a Happy Father's Day. Bill was on his way out to sea as well. Bruce and Jodie were going to visit Jodie's dad, then have dinner at the Cove. I'll visit Bruce and give him his card on Tuesday, my next day off.

Worked on writing for an hour. Leia, Langdon, and Rusty join Luke in rescuing Wedge and the other Rogues. Leia explains that Henry is back on the Falcon, sleeping off the drugs Jenkins gave him. She throws a smoke bomb, giving them time to escape before Vader and his men arrive.

Switched to the soundtrack for The Music Man while getting organized for work, Meredith Wilson changed a few things for the movie, notably replacing "My White Knight" with "Being In Love" (supposedly because he had outside help on "My White Knight"). That aside, this is still a lot of fun - Preston is every bit as good here as he is on the original cast album, Shirley Jones sounds great on "Being In Love" and "Goodnight My Someone," and you also get Hermoine Gingold (in "Pick a Little, Talk a Little") and Buddy Hackett ("Shipoopi").

Work was a complete pain. I spent most of it outside in the heat, gathering carts, though I did do outside trash and rounded up baskets briefly. I had no help. One teen girl called out. Another was around for 15 minutes before claiming she was sick and going home. One of the cashiers volunteered to help around 3:30, but he could only stay out for a half-hour. It was busy all day, thanks to the holiday, the hot, sunny day, and most kids either getting out of school last week or early this week. I was sweating to death when I got out at 6, and the carts were still disappearing.

When I finally rolled home, I ate a very quick dinner, then played Lego Clone Wars. Finished out the "Story" levels with the final two missions of the game. The last Ventress round has Mace Windu and a couple of Clone Troopers rallying the army to take back Ryloth for good. In the last Dooku round, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and a couple of clones follow Luminara to a dark, dusty tomb deep under Geonosis. The tomb is filled with zombie Geonosians...and their queen, who has Luminaria prisoner. The two Jedi and their clone friends have to save her and capture Poggle the Lesser, before the queen does any damage.

As it turned out, neither of these rounds were as long or as difficult as the ones before. "Victory On Ryloth" was only slightly more complicated than previous army-building rounds. "Legacy of Terror" took a little longer, thanks to the dark caverns that made it hard to see many obstacles, but it still wasn't as difficult as some of the back-and-forth flying rounds.

I'm going to give Clone Wars a break for a while. I want to give Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, which looks like an RPG (role-playing type game), a try. I'll double back and do the Free Play rounds on Clone Wars after I finish that.

And sorry this was late! I had some trouble with the internet last night. For all that I can do on my Kindle and cell phone, I'm afraid one of them isn't updating my blog. At least it seems to be working  now.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Super Villain Rhapsody

It was gloomy, humid and cool, when I awoke this morning. Ran Superman cartoons to cheer me up while I ate breakfast. The first one, "The Mad Scientist," sets the tone for most of the others on this set. A determined Lois Lane gets into trouble after telling Clark Kent she can take care of herself on a big assignment, or wants to scoop him. Clark changes into Superman, then rescues Lois and takes down whatever the menace of the day is (in this case a mad scientist's death ray). "The Mechanical Monsters" are actually robots who steal jewels on a thief's bidding. Lois and Clark witness one robot hit up a museum's jewelry exhibit. Lois hides in one of the robots. Superman follows her...until he has a close encounter with some electrical wires...

Headed out to the farm market around 10:30. Despite the cloudy and killer humid weather, the place was packed with people looking for fruit and vegetables for their Father's Day barbecues. The summer produce continues to roll out. I saw zucchini, cucumbers, New Jersey blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries for the first time this year today. I bought snap peas, a small yellow zucchini and green zucchini from the organic booth, strawberries, and bananas from the tropical fruit wholesaler.

Put everything away when I got home, then did a little bit of writing. Wedge Antilles and his boys have been in jail since they were arrested after the chaos at the Royal Regatta. Wedge is beginning to wonder if everyone has forgotten them, but the priest and the guard who brought their food looks familiar...

Watched more cartoons while eating a quick lunch. The "Billion Dollar Limited" is a train carrying gold to the US Mint. Thieves try to take the train, but Superman stops them in their tracks. "The Arctic Giant" is more creative, and the first time Superman took on a villain that wasn't technically a criminal. He has to stop a defrosted dinosaur who got loose from the museum and is on a rampage in downtown Metropolis.

It was rained briefly while I was eating lunch, but had stopped by the time I headed to work. It would continue raining off and on for the rest of the afternoon. It would be sunny for a while, then suddenly the dark clouds would come in, and it would pour. I cleaned the bathrooms, got stuck in the registers twice, and helped a really sweet lady take four potted rose bushes to her truck, but I was mostly outside doing carts.

I just wish I'd had more help. The head bagger was outside with me once, but I mostly had one of the teenagers. She'll push three carts per round and go inside the moment the corrals look slightly done. Even when you finish the corrals, you still have to check the sides of the building and around the periphery of the parking lot for stray carts.

Got my schedule when I arrived. More-or-less the same deal this week, only with later hours on Thursday and earlier hours on Saturday. I'll have to rush the run to the farm market next week and I could still use more hours. Otherwise, this is fairly par-for-the-course for the time of the year.

When I finally got home, the first thing I did was turn on the air conditioning. I couldn't stand the humidity anymore, unfinished door be damned. The second was jump in the shower. Between gathering the carts today and all the running around yesterday, I was sweating to death.

After getting out, I had leftovers for dinner while finishing the first disc of Superman shorts. "The Bulleteers" are a gang who uses bullet-shaped rocket cars to attack police buildings and demand the city treasury. While Lois tries to get closer to the action, Superman takes on the rocket car. "The Magnetic Telescope" has attracted a comet that's raining destruction on Metropolis. Even Superman has trouble getting rid of it. A Native American man threatens an "Electric Earthquake" unless Manhattan is returned to his people. Good thing Lois is on the case...and Superman is onto her.

The remaining two shorts deal more with natural or animal disasters, rather than typical crimes. A "Volcano" is about to blow up and possibly destroy a whole city. Lois hides Clark's press pass so she can get the scoop, but that doesn't stop Superman from saving the day. It's "Terror on the Midway" when several circus animals, including a giant gorilla, get loose and cause havoc. Superman and Lois do what they can to round up the critters and bring that big ape down.

Switched to Suicide Squad as I went online. Tough Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has assembled a team of some of the worst villains in the DC Universe to take on only the worst assignments. One was to have been possessed former archaeologist The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), but Waller loses control of her. She sends the others out to take her down, including hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker's crazy girlfriend Harley Quinn (Michelle Williams), Australian thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), fire god El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and the reptillian Killer Kroc (Adewele Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and martial artist Kantana (Karen Fukuhara) try to keep them in line. But these baddest of the bad aren't used to working together, or even on anyone's side but their own. There's also the fact that the Joker (Jered Leto) wants his woman back, even if it's not the most perfect relationship, and will do anything to get her.

This ended up being a surprise. People have have been complaining since it came out, but I ended up liking it. No, it's not a masterpiece. It's probably not even good. It is fun, though, with the quips coming fast and furious. There's decent performances from Davis, Smith, and especially Williams, who throws herself into one of DC's most beloved villainesses and has a marvelous time doing so. And yes, the wild makeup and hair here deserved that Oscar win, especially the work on Killer Croc and El Diablo. Also, this is another movie that brings little-known comics characters to the big screen. The only characters here I'd heard of before were the Joker, Harley, Killer Croc, Kantana, and Amanda Waller (and the latter two I'd just encountered in DC Super Hero Girls).

Apparently, this was rushed into theaters to capitalize on the popularity of another misfit squad, Guardians of the Galaxy, and it does kind of look it. Editing dropped a lot of elements that would have made this more cohesive, there's little character development, and some of the special effects look cheap or not quite done (like the Enchantress in the end). The script feels like it's trying far too hard to be "hip" and "with it" and not quite getting there, with its conflicted heroes and "bad guys can be good guys too" morals.

Like The Secret Life of Pets, I enjoyed this one enough that I didn't mind the rental, but I probably won't buy it. If you're a fan of any of these actors or characters or the DC Universe, you may get more out of this movie than I (or most critics) did.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Frankenstein of the Opera

Awoke to a cloudy, cool, and humid morning. Also surprisingly quiet - still no Charlie. I was able to have my quick breakfast and make my grocery list in peace. Did a quick Three Stooges short while I ate. Since I'm currently reading the Vesper Holly desert action tale The Jedera Adventure (and in honor of the new version of The Mummy in theaters), I opted for the Stooges' own sand saga. "We Want Our Mummy" the guys say when they hit the sand to find the kidnapped Professor Tuttle and the long-lost mummy of King Rootentooten. They end up dodging moving mummies and a nasty group of thieves who want the reward for the king for themselves.

Headed out around quarter of 11 to do this week's grocery shopping. Not nearly as many good online coupons this week, although one for Life Cereal (which was already on sale) helped. They still have a bunch of fish fillets with manager's coupons, too. I bought three, each with a different seasoning. Eggs were on a dollar sale. Also restocked skim milk, unbleached flour, mandarin oranges, canned apricots, buttermilk, grapes (red this time - another good sale), yogurt, peanut butter, and tea (found boxes of Red Rose's new "Sweet Temptations" on the clearance racks - went with Blueberry Muffin and Caramel Apple Pie).

Headed home to put everything away and have lunch. Did two episodes of Scooby Doo, Where are You? as I worked and ate. Mystery Inc also has to deal with an animated mummy in "Scooby Doo and a Mummy Too." They too are after a professor who has disappeared, or in this case, been turned into stone along with his assistant. The mummy seems to be after an Egyptian coin Shaggy accidentally put in his pocket. But why would an ancient king want a coin, and what's the coin's real purpose?

"Spooky Space Kook" is an even more far-out tale. The kids stop for gas at a farmer's house near an abandoned air field. The farmer claims he's been seeing aliens land there. When the kids start seeing them too, along with glowing footprints, they head to the air field to find out what this strange creature is really after.

Went back out around 1:30 to run errands in Westmont. First stop was Dollar Tree. I needed cards for Father's Day. Also grabbed some of those Kool Aid frozen juice bars I loved so much last year. The line was long, but for once, they had all three registers open. I was in and out quickly.

The Haddon Township Library was a ghost town when I arrived, despite the gloomy day. There was only one audio book to shelve, and no DVDs. Good thing another volunteer had started to organize the kids' CDs but hadn't been able to finish. I completed the project, which needed to be done badly. I hadn't done it since they moved the CD shelves across the kids' room from the DVDs.

The library's copy of Charlie Chan In Honolulu seems to have been joined by at least five or six other titles. I opted for Charlie Chan at the Opera and a double feature of Charlie Chan In Rio and Dead Men Tell. Took out Suicide Squad again, since I never got to it last week. Continued my voyages with the Starship Enterprise with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Ducked out around 3. I wanted to get going before the traffic on Cuthbert and the White Horse Pike did and to have time to write. Newton Lake Park wasn't much busier than the library, despite the relatively cool day. The rain has done wonders for the flora. Everything is so green and brilliant here. The leaves are enormous, shading the blades of emerald grass and tiny gem-like wildflowers.

Went on the computer as soon as I got home. Luke, Henry, and Charles are brought up to the upper deck of Jenkins' state-of-the-art steam yacht, the Paradise, to be fed to the sharks. Luke literally leaps into action before that can happen! He's not the only one. The cast of the Rebels cartoon, along with Ahsoka from Clone Wars and Jyn and Cassian from Rogue One, all help out. Rusty hands everyone their weapons.

While everyone else is chasing Luke and the Rebels, Leia wraps her gold leash around Huttman, throttling him to death. She throws off her jacket and frilly skirt to reveal a costume that bears close resemblance to that of the Crimson Hawk and Golden Eagle. She calls herself the White Swan and declares that she's now the first female member of the League of the Crimson Hawk. Boba Fettson chases Luke up one of the masts. She shoots his jet pack, making it blast across the island, before he can hurt the newly-declared Jedi. Meanwhile, Henry and Charles rescue Langdon from the hungry jaws of several sharks.

They end up taking over the ship, with the help of the servants, musicians, and dancers Huttman had once abused. Luke says they'll turn Huttson's remaining bounty hunters over to the authorities and drop anyone else off in Anchorhead before heading back to the mainland to rescue Wedge Antilles and the rest of the League.

Broke around 6:30 for lemon garlic salmon (way too salty) and a green salad. Decided it was cool enough to attempt peanut butter cookies for dessert. Did the one-bowl recipe in the cookie cookbook Lauren sent me for my birthday, with hazelnut extract instead of vanilla. (I forgot the vanilla at the Acme earlier.) Other than I think I should have added more peanut butter, the cookies came out quite tasty and fairly sweet.

Watched Charlie Chan at the Opera while I baked, and later while online. There's a madman (Boris Karloff) loose in the opera house in Los Angeles. He's suspected to be the one sending threatening notes to his ex-wife Lilly (Margaret Irving) and her husband (Frank Conry) who had him incarcerated. He's far from the only suspicious character hanging around backstage. Another singer in the company (Nedda Herrigan) is concerned about her husband (Gregory Gaye) having had an affair with Lilly. We also have two young adults who keep trying to sneak into the theater, one of whom (Charlotte Henry) claims to be Lilly's daughter. When Lilly and her husband both die on opening night of Mephistopheles, Charlie and "Number Two Son" Jimmy have to figure out if the madman really did it, or if someone else had it in for the diva.

The presence of Karloff, one of the most famous horror actors ever, elevates what many consider to be the best Charlie Chan film. Watching Karloff and Oland match wits with each other is a pleasure, and the other actors more than measure up to them. There's even original arias written by Oscar Levant. If you're a fan of this series or of light mysteries from the Golden Age of Hollywood (and can deal with Chan being played by a white actor), this is a moody and beautifully shot entry in the long-running series.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Last Stand of the Enterprise

Began the day at work. I started and ended my shift outside, doing carts and rounding up baskets and outside trash. The trouble was when I tried to do the returns. I had been working on them for all of 20 minutes when I was called to the front of the store. The head manager angrily told me that I should have been organizing the carts his way and that I was doing too much standing in the aisles. Ironically, when he did hand me a cart he'd organized himself, only two items actually went where he said they did.

(I'm not the only one who has had problems with that head manager. He's been rude and nasty to just about everyone, customers and employees alike. The bakery manager and the floral department manager both complained about him being rude and demanding to them during break.)

I couldn't get out of there fast enough. It was too nice of a day to spend inside anyway. Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. Although there'd been clouds briefly in the morning, by 1 PM, it was all sunshine and a wonderfully cool wind. It was only busy down around Wal Mart, where it looked like they were doing some kind of repairs. Otherwise, I had no problems getting home.

I was surprised Charlie wasn't around when I got in. I never saw him today. The roof is covered, but still has exposed ceiling beams, and there's exposed siding outside, too. At the very least, I was able to have a simple, quiet lunch while watching Looney Tunes. I meant to do "Old Glory" yesterday for Flag Day, but never got to it, thanks to the repairs. Porky Pig is learning about the American Flag. He wonders what's so important about it. Uncle Sam appears to give him a history lesson in just how hard Americans fought to gain and keep what that flag represents.

Headed out around quarter of 3 to get the laundry done. I've had enough of rushing around on Friday. Had a huge load to do, too, including sheets. I picked the right time. The laundromat was totally empty when I arrived. I only saw one other person the whole time. I was able to get my things done with no problems. Worked on story notes while half-listening to General Hospital.

When I got home, I put everything away, then did some writing. Cedric is worried. Luke, Henry, and Charles are being held in the hold on Jenkins' lavish luxury steam yacht. He still has Leia chained up by his side. Rusty tells him not to worry. Luke has a plan...and they have help. Other members of the group are there, including Jyn and Ahsoka acting as dancers and Kanan and Ezra showing off their mind-reading act. But the main event has yet to appear...

Since Charlie never showed up today, I was able to make a decent dinner of Fish Scampi and a green salad with home-made red wine honey dressing. Watched Star Trek III: The Search For Spock while I ate. Things are not going well for the crew of the Starship Enterprise on their return to the Federation. Not only has Captain James Kirk (William Shatner) lost his best friend, but his beloved Enterprise has been put out commission by a newer, larger model. And then they discover that Spock put his soul into the brain of Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley) before he died. They ignore orders to not return to Genosis when Kirk's son David (Merrick Buttrick) and fellow officer Saavick (Robin Curtis) reveal that they've found Spock, reborn as a child. The crew of the stolen Enterprise have to race against both a dying planet and a group of Klingons, lead by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), who are also after the planet.

This was...not bad, actually. Better than I thought it would be. I especially loved how they managed to steal the Enterprise under the nose of the obnoxious commander of the fancier ship, and how Kirk sacrificed the thing he loved most to save the best friend he ever had. Christopher Lloyd was good as one of the nastier villains the crew had encountered.

There were some problems, starting with a far lower budget than The Wrath of Khan. Anything filmed "outdoors" looked ridiculously stagy and set-bound. Frankly, the story was just flat-out weird, one of the most ridiculous methods of bringing a beloved character back from the dead I've ever seen. And half the cast barely registered, including Kirk's just-discovered son and Lieutenant Uhura and Sulu.

Probably not the best of the Star Trek films, but also far the from the worst. Fans of the films or the original series may enjoy it, but it is necessary to catch Wrath of Khan to understand almost anything that goes on here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thunder In the Morning.


A clap of thunder louder than a cannon got me up around 6:30. I ran around the house, closing all the windows, then promptly returned to bed. The storm was rather soothing after the noise moved on, even if the rain sounded odd pattering on the tarp. I briefly considered checking the floor in the kitchen and dining area under the tarp, but then I closed my eyes for five minutes...

And when I opened them, it was 8:30. Charlie's men were already hammering outside my new front door. To my dismay, no, the tarp did not stop the rain from coming in and soaking the carpet. There were two big wet spots in the kitchen and another in the dining area, near the windows. At the very least, it was also on-and-off cloudy, windy, and a bit cooler.

After I ate quickly, I spent most of the morning once again working on writing. Jenkins formally arrests Luke, Henry, and Charles and sends them down into the hold. He intends to use them as "entertainment" for his feeding them to the numerous sharks in Shaw Cay. He also has no intention of releasing Leia, whom he strokes and fondles like a precious poodle. Luke has a plan. Henry's skeptical, to say the least, but Charles and Rusty know what the boy has in mind...

Broke around 1:30 for lunch. This time, I just had a quick slice of mushroom and slice of cheese pizza and can of Dew SA from Phillies Phatties. It was cloudy but cooler, probably into the upper 70's-lower 80's. I enjoyed the delicious breeze blowing in while watching huge groups of kids get off early from the Oaklyn School, heading to Phillies Phatties or Common Grounds Coffee House for a snack.

As soon as I got home, I got organized, got changed, and headed to work a little early again. Work was pretty much the same as Monday - quiet when I arrived and when I left, busy during rush hour. And rush hour was really bad today, for some reason. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper on the Black Horse Pike going home between 3:30 and about 5. I have no idea why it was so crazy. Maybe a lot of people have kids who finished school today and decided to hit the Shore early?

I was outside watching it for a lot of the day. I cleaned the bathrooms for the first half-hour, then did the outdoor trash and rounded up carts. For some reason, we now have to gather the trash for the entire building and down by the bus stop, instead of just around the Acme. I can understand picking it up by the former Marburn Curtains store, but shouldn't Rent-a-Center be able to get their own trash? And the bus stop should really be the Town of Audubon's responsibility.

At least I got to do it on a beautiful evening. By 6, the clouds had vanished completely, but the wonderfully cool breeze remained. It was sunny and warm, but not nearly as hot. A lot of the morning's humidity had disappeared, too.

When I got home, the men were long gone. I opted for a nice, long, quiet soak in the tub instead of a hurried shower. I so needed it. I haven't had one in ages. I kicked back, browsed through my two new Christmas With Southern Living books, and listened to one of the Those Were the Days CDs I picked up at Abbie Road last month.

Oh, and in good news, Charlie did cover the roof - no more tarp. In frustrating news, he hasn't covered anything else. The beams are still exposed, as is the siding around the door. I knew it was going to take him a lot longer to do this than two days. I just hope he doesn't take much longer. The storms are supposed to linger for a lot of the weekend.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sizzling (Almost) Summer

I awoke to another hot day that I once again spent primarily in my room. Charlie and his boys finally showed up around 9 (after saying he'd be here at 8:30). I was afraid to turn on the air conditioner. Between my laptop being on all day and all the drills and power tools the guys were using, I was afraid to blow out the electrical grid.

Finally broke for lunch around 12;30. I ate at the Square Meal, down the street from me on West Clinton. This new eatery emphasizes fast food that's good for you. I had a turkey-meatloaf sandwich with spinach and pepper-jack cheese and a vinegar and garlic German Red Potato Salad. The turkey sandwich was ok, with tons of spicy cheese. (I didn't realize the cheese was pepper-jack. Should have read the whole menu.) The potato salad was a tad too vinegary.

It was past 1 when I finally moved onto the Oaklyn Library. I was far from the only person there. The pre-school on West Clinton isn't air-conditioned and had brought their kids to the library to cool off. I couldn't have gotten to the DVDs or books, even if I wanted to. I just ended up using their printer for the remaining items I needed to send to Camden to get my food stamps.

It was so hot, I treated myself to a milkshake from WaWa after I left the library. The order monitor said they had a new coffee flavor, so I thought I'd try that. It wasn't terrible, but it was strong. It may have been a little too much coffee flavoring for me! At least it was also cold.

Went down to the post office next to send off the application at the post office. Since it didn't require postage, I probably could have sent it from anywhere, but I really want it to get to Camden by the due date on Thursday. Dollar General is around the corner, so I hit up there afterwards for batteries.

The men were still working on putting in the new front door when I got in around 2:30. I just continued to write. Rusty and Cedric find Luke at Benjamin Kenton's old cottage by the beachfront. He's working on a new electrical saber to replace the old one. Rusty tells him about Leia's capture. His saber now complete, he's finally ready to execute his plan.

He shows up at Jenkins' later that day, dressed as a sober gentleman in a dark suit. He tries to bargain with Huttman, but the obese casino owner doesn't want to give up his captives...including "pet" Leia in a jeweled collar and chain. He opts to have Fettson and another guard toss Luke into an aquarium with his man-eating squid instead.

After managing to dodge it several times and stuffing a board in its mouth, Luke finally crushes it in a pile of rocks. Jenkins' isn't happy about losing his other favorite toy and orders Luke, Henry, and Charles brought before him...

The men were done by the time I broke for dinner. Done for the day, that is. I knew Charlie wasn't going to finish installing a door and part of a roof in two days, especially given it got up to the mid-90's here today. Unfortunately, that meant my apartment is still a mess, with things moved all over the kitchen and living room. I wish they'd just told me sooner, so I could have packed everything in boxes and moved to Dad and Jodie's house temporarily, like we originally planned. This is a pain.

Not a fan of the new front door, either. It's too huge both ways, very tall and very wide. Not to mention, very white. I hope he plans on painting it. It doesn't match the brown/yellow/tan look up here at all. I don't know how I'm going to get my wreath back up, either. The window is enormous. I liked the smaller window in the old door - it had more privacy.

I was so tired and hot and frustrated, I just had banana-chocolate chip muffins, yogurt, and cherries for dinner. Listened to the Julie Andrews US cast album of The Boy Friend, a riff on 20's musicals, to cheer me up while I ate.

Finished the night with more Lego Clone Wars, after I moved the cookbook shelves enough to get to the TV. (Not to mention the cookbooks, which are piled up in front of the TV and VCR.) The last General Grievous mission is appropriately titled "Grievous Intrigue." When Grievous kidnaps a Jedi Master, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and his padawan board his latest battle cruiser to rescue him and bring the cyborg down for good.

This was another really long round, with multiple platforms. You start out with your basic puzzles and slice droids, then deal with Grievous and his MegaDroids. Grievous was tough until I figured out you have to toss him into the wall after you throw things at him. Taking him out (or at least enough to end the round) required switching back and forth between Obi-Wan and the padawan, who stood behind him and out of his sight...enough to attack him. It even switches to flying mode at one point when Anakin takes down his ship.

Next up will probably be Ventress' final stand, as the Jedi liberate Ryloth for good.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Heat Wave In My Apartment

Got a fast start today. Charlie showed up around 8:30-9 with his men to start moving things to work on the roof. I had already moved most things before then, including the things on top of the cabinets in the kitchen and the refrigerator. Moved into my room after breakfast and stayed there for the rest of the morning and early afternoon.

First on the agenda was changing the sheets on my bed. Even after we do get rain later in the week, the heat is supposed to linger. It's definitely time for the white and pale yellow sheets and small, light quilt I bought at a yard sale about three or so years ago.

When I finished that, I did writing for several hours. Leia does go to dinner with Jenkins Huttman. Jenkins can't keep his hands off her. He wants to keep her as his mistress and personal plaything. Leia has other ideas. She and Charles drug Huttman's wine and get the keys to Henry's crystal cuffs off him.

Leia has no idea how to get the crystal off Henry...until Charles notices that Jenkins had melted some of it when he pressed at it with his cigar. While Charles melts it off, Leia warms Henry up in her own way with a passionate kiss. Henry is free, but the drugs used on him to make him a living statue have robbed him of his sight and strength.

The trio don't even make it to the door before being caught by Jenkins and his entourage. Henry and Charles are sent downstairs to the holding pens, despite Henry's protests that he'll pay him off. Leia is brought before Jenkins, who seals his "owning" her with a slobbery kiss.

I didn't expect the mess I saw when I finally broke for lunch. I thought they'd just be adding a dormer on the roof. No, they were tearing the roof above most of the kitchen and part of the music/dining area off, making a great big mess as they did. I ducked around them. I had to eat, and it was obvious I wasn't going to eat at home.

Finally had a nice, quiet lunch at Common Grounds Coffee House down the street. Ate a slice of spinach and broccoli quiche with my favorite Spicy-Sweet Iced Tea. Tried a strawberry shortcake "cake pop," cake batter covered in strawberry cream with a lollipop stick pressed in the middle. Sweet, but soo good!

Hoping to dodge the repair crew, I ended up going to work early. Got stuck outside doing carts almost the entire day. This was a bit of a pain. It was hot today, into the mid-90's. We were dead when I came in at 3, but as soon as people got out of their air-conditioned offices, they wanted to stop at air-conditioned stores. It picked up around 4:30 and was busy for the rest of the night.

I was dead tired when I got home. I wasn't really up for much more than Lego Clone Wars. "Weapons Factory" is the second-to-last Count Dooku round. This one starts with more battle strategy as Anakin and Jedi Master Luminara Unduli race around the battlefield, calling in tanks to blow up heavily plated guns, shields, and radars that were protecting the factory. Meanwhile, their pupils Ahsoka and Barriss Offee go underground and into the Factory to stop the Count's right-hand Geonosian, Poggle the Lesser, from destroying the Republic armies.

Next up, we begin the last story rounds, likely with some "Grievous Intrigue."

Oh, and Charlie did put my air conditioner in. I appreciate his help, but he did leave a few problems. First of all, he put it in my bedroom. I told him to put it in the living room. Air does not circulate well in this apartment. It'll circulate better in the larger, more open living area. Second, I can't use it tonight. Most of the redone roof is still covered with tarp. It's been letting in flies by the dozens, too.