Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summertime, and the Livin's Easy

Began a gorgeous late-summer morning with breakfast and Garfield In the Rough. Garfield would rather be anywhere but on a camping trip with Jon and Odie. He's not the outdoors kind of cat. He's even more worried when it's discovered there's a black panther loose in the area, and they may be its next meal!

Worked on my story for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Hank and Leia dance together to the latest tunes in the club while Lance is supposedly working in his office. Charlie and Chip show up, trying to tell the duo exactly what Lance has in mind...but they never get a chance. Lance takes them all upstairs to the VIP Lounge...where Vader and Bobby Fett await them. Hank tries to punch Vader out, but he ends up getting knocked into a wall instead. Needless to say, neither Hank nor Leia are happy to see Vader or thrilled with Lance's betrayal. Chip just gives them an "I told you so."

Meanwhile, Luke and Arturro are on their way to Bespin Island, having gone back briefly to Yoda's for directions. They're both extremely worried about their friends and intend to rescue them on their own, despite Ben's warning.

Broke around 1:30 for lunch. Did a few Danger Mouse shorts from the fifth and sixth seasons while I ate. It's "Remote Controlled Chaos" when Baron Greenback creates a machine that can control DM's car. In "Hear, Hear" Greenback manages to rig every audio-playing device in the world to hypnotize those who hear his voice. Lucky for DM, Penfold is having hearing problems and can't be hypnotized.

Next stop was the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session. Not a whole lot going on there. Not only was it too nice of a day for people to be in libraries, but a lot of folks may have gone on their last vacation before school starts this week. Shelved new releases, audio books, and CDs and sorted through the adult DVD titles to make sure no TV shows and foreign movies got mixed in. Took out The Jewel of the Nile (which I have seen, but not in years), The Matrix Reloaded, and last year's remake of The Magnificent Seven.

Took the long way home across a bright and brilliant Newton Lake Park. I'm surprised it wasn't busier by late afternoon. The weather was just stunning, upper 70's and breezy as can be. Had a nice little nature hike as I pushed my bike up the hill, past the sunflower bed. Spotted a mother turkey and her babies as I came up the hill. They waddled off before I even had the chance to make Thanksgiving jokes.

Next stop was Dad and Jodie's to say "hi" and (finally) drop off Dad's birthday card. (It was a month ago Monday.) Neither of them were home. I guess they went out for a ride to enjoy the weather after Jodie got in from work. I left the card in the doorway and headed out, stopping briefly for a Deb's Spicy-Sweet Iced Tea at the Common Grounds Coffee Shop on my way home.

Jumped right into the bath when I got in. I'm glad I've been taking more time for baths lately. It felt great, just listening to my Gershwin jazz CD and looking over Christmas craft/cook books for gift ideas.

Put on American Graffiti while throwing together an Italian Casserole from ground turkey, canned tomato sauce, red onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and the last of the pasta for dinner, along with sliced cucumber and tomato. The last night of summer 1962 proves to be memorable for four young men hanging out on the local strip. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) is trying to decide whether to go to college or not. He ends up spending the night searching for a beautiful blond (Suzanne Summers) he saw in a car. Former class president Steve (Ron Howard) is looking forward to college...until he realizes he's not yet ready to leave his steady girl Laurie (Cindy Williams) behind. The slightly older John (Paul LeMat), the local hotshot greaser, finds himself dealing with a smart mouthed teen girl who was dumped on him for the night (MacKenzie Phillips) and with arrogant newcomer Bob Alfalfa (Harrison Ford). Their younger geek buddy Terry (Charles Martin Smith) ends up with a statuesque blond (Candy Clark), but loses the car he got her in.

George Lucas' first major hit kicked the 50's-60's revival into full gear and brought stardom (or adult stardom, in Howard's case) to many of its performers. Along with the meandering script, the other notable thing about this one is the awesome soundtrack of 50's and early 60's rock hits. If you're a fan of classic rock, the cast, or other plotless late 20th century-set ensemble films like Pirate Radio and Dazed and Confused, you'll want to do a little cruisin' and check it out, too.

Did Big Business as I went online. Two of the 80's most popular comediennes, Bette Midler and Lilly Tomlin, play two very different sets of "twin" sisters. Sadie Shelton (Midler) is the tough-minded and obnoxious CEO of a major company. Her sister Rose (Tomlin) is shy and loathes her life in New York, but doesn't know how to explain it to her city-loving sibling. Sadie plans to unload a small backwoods furniture factory to an Italian conglomerate...which doesn't sit well with its employees at all, especially strong-willed and suspicious Rose Ratcliffe (Tomlin). Her twin Sadie (Midler) is hardly shy, but she hates the country as much as Rose Shelton despises city living. The country siblings hit the Big Apple to keep the big company from destroying their way of life, causing confusion for everyone around them when they end up in the same hotel as the city sisters.

I've always liked this one. Midler in particular is nice as sophistication-starved Sadie Ratcliffe. If you're a fan of the actresses or farce, this is worth digging up at lease once.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dolls In the Matrix

Thankfully, by the time I got up this morning, the rain was long gone and the sun was shining. I enjoyed breakfast while listening to one of my 80's music collections. To give you an idea of how long I've had this two-CD set, I found it at Super Fresh in Westmont (now the closed Thriftway) shortly after I first moved here.

Continued the disc while I dressed my American Girl dolls. It's now a bit too cool for bathing suits. Time to put them in clothes appropriate for school and late summer/early fall. Samantha wears her blue and white windowpane check Play Dress with the ruffly white pinafore, white Springfield Collection socks, and the black Mary Janes that came with her current meet outfit. Josefina is in her red and orange Summer Outfit. Whitney gets the yellow floral Queen's Treasures dress with the red Mary Janes from Sam's green spring dress. Put Molly in Kit's original blue School Outfit and brown Oxfords. Jessa went with the gray shorts and neon yellow ankle socks from the previous modern Hiking Outfit, the magenta t-shirt from the original 1995 mix-and-match meet outfit, and blue "denim" Springfield Collection sneakers. Left Felicity in her lavender Traveling Gown. I really don't have much to change her into.

Headed out around noon to hit the Oaklyn Library. Despite the nice day, they were relatively busy, with several people using the computers. They just moved the kids' DVDs into the children's area, so they weren't in bad shape, but the adult titles were a mess. The kids' books were almost as bad. I shelved and organized the kids' area for almost an hour.

When I got home, I had a quick lunch, then decided I'd try something. It was cool enough to turn on the crock pot. I threw mushrooms, scallions, white cooking wine, water, and the last of the home-made chicken stock together with a pack of drumsticks for a fast dinner.

Ran the an episode from the third season of Wonder Woman while I ate.  After witnessing his kidnapping, a young girl becomes convinced that "My Teenage Idol Is Missing." Diana's not convinced at first, especially after she sees what she believes to be the boy in his own room. Turns out the kid is the singer's twin...and when he proves to be every bit as talented as his brother, the kidnappers think the other is expendable. Wonder Woman has to spring into action to rescue the boy and make sure his sleazy manager doesn't further cooperate with the criminals.

Headed to the laundromat after the show ended. I picked the right day. Everyone must have been out enjoying the weather. They were the quietest I've seen them in weeks, if not months. I saw maybe two college girls the entire time I was there. Washed a fair-sized load while working on story notes and half-listening to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Right This Minute, and General Hospital.

As soon as I got home, I put everything away, then went into writing. Hank and Leia have just finished making out under the boardwalk. Leia says she's had a great time, but she's still worried about the Cottages, her uncle, and being late for school. Hank says he'll take her back the next day, but then Leia points out that he'll be leaving. He's not sure if that's still true...

They finally return to Lance's condo, where they dress in good clothes for a date. Charlie shows up first with a battered and unconscious Chip. While they try to revive him, Lance appears. He invites them to the Cloud City Club for dancing and dinner in the VIP Lounge. Charlie says he'll catch up later. He has to take a shower and attend to poor Chip.

Broke at quarter after 6 to enjoy my savory chicken legs with the last of the Cucumber-Tomato Salad. Ran another third season Wonder Woman episode while I ate. A telekinetic con artist is a "Disco Devil" who steals top secret information from the minds of government officials in a Washington DC dance club. Diana digs up the only other telekinetic who can help her, a shy little man whose discomfort with his powers has lead to a series of jobs and low self-esteem. His powers, however, may also have lead him to inadvertently discover Diana's secret...

Went for a short walk after dinner. It was too nice to be inside all night! The weather was gorgeous today, sunny, warm, and in the upper 70's. Strolled past gardens awash in rainbow colors and green trees rustling slightly in the soft breeze. Ended up trying blueberry cheesecake ice cream at Phillies Yummies and watching young teens chatter and squeal over cute guys on their phones. (The ice cream wasn't bad, creamy but slightly gritty, with nice, big graham cracker pieces and a sweet, thin blueberry swirl.)

Finished out the night with The Matrix. Thomas "Neo" Anderson (Keanu Reevs) is a normal computer programmer by day, hacker by night. His life takes a turn for the seriously weird when a young woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) leads him to a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who offers him a pill that will show him the truth. The "truth" is he's living in the Matrix, a reality created by machines who want to keep humans trapped. Morpheus and his rebels hack into the system and "unplug" certain humans, giving them superhuman abilities. Neo's so good at his training, the others now believe he's "The One" who could lead the humans against their machine captors. But Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and his two goons have been programmed to make sure there's no more rebels hacking into the Matrix, and one of the rebels (Joe Pantoliano) is willing to sacrifice the others to return to his own life. Will Neo remain a rebel, or will he return to his old, orderly life?

I probably should have seen this when it came out in 1999, but I was caught up with college and other interests. This is so late 90's. It was revolutionary on release. Everyone was talking about it. People were amazed by the deep philosophy and mix of computer and practical effects, by the green-neon look, by the slow-mo fight choreography. No one had seen anything like it...until the imitators started to roll in. Now, the hardware looks clunky, the aesthetics are more drab than cool, and the CGI fights aren't anything you haven't seen in a hundred action movies made since then.

On the other hand, I can understand why it was such a big deal. The plot really is interesting, if occasionally confusing, with its sometimes heavy discussions of religious philosophy and the role of technology in our lives. Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fisheburne in particular are good as hero and mentor, but Hugo Weaving steals the show as the totally unflappable program.

If there was every a movie of and made for its time, this one is it. If you want to understand the changes going on in the world as the calendar flipped from the 20th to the 21st centuries, this is a good place to start, with its stylized violence, neon green world, and obsession with technology. Heavy violence and the general adult themes makes this not for young kids. For young teens on up, if you love sci-fi, the dark martial-arts-influenced anime that inspired this, or Reeves or Fishburne, you may be ready to escape the Matrix as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Dinosaurs and Guardians

It was showering heavily when I awoke this morning, a state of affairs that would continue through the rest of the day. Decided to do the remaining episodes in the second season of Sailor Moon to brighten my morning as I ate breakfast. Wise Man corrupts Chibi-Usa into the Black Lady, an older, much more evil version of the girl, in "The Dark Queen: The Birth of Black Lady." Sailor Moon tries to purify her, but Wise Man has her "brain washed, rinsed, and dried," as Artemis once said about another character in the original dub.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon writing. Charlie is walking back from trying to fix the Falcon when he hears groaning in an alley. He finds Chip laying in a garbage pile, unconscious and beaten to a pulp.  He has to push aside the pig-like garbage men to do it, but he does manage to get Chip out and back to Lance's condo.

Meanwhile, Hank and Leia have been enjoying a lovely day together on the boardwalk and beach, but they're not without their worries. Leia's concerned about the Cottages and her being late getting to school. Hank is struggling to decide whether he should leave before Jasper Hutt comes after him, or stay with Leia.

The rain continued beyond my windows as I wrote, sometimes heavily. There was no way around it. I had to call Dad for a ride. This wasn't a day for taking the bike anywhere. Thankfully, he was home, and he had no problems taking me to work.

Had a really quick lunch and got ready for work while watching more Sailor Moon. Prince Dimand's brother Saffir is the next victim of the not-so-benevolent "Wise" Man in "Saffir Dies: Wise Man's Trap." Saffir discovers Wise Man's plot and manages to escape with the device that powers their Malevolent Black Moon Crystal. Dimand's less than thrilled when Wise Man sends Black Lady to kill him and begins to question whether the mysterious creature really has his best interests at heart.

Dad did drive me to and from work. I ended up spending most of the afternoon outside doing carts and getting wet anyway. I was surprised that we were steady all afternoon. You'd think this would be the last day anyone would want to go shopping, especially considering what another heavy shower is currently doing to the Texas coast. I also gathered trash and tons of baskets and did a smattering of returns.

After I got in, I changed into dry clothes, then had a quick leftovers dinner while finishing out the Sailor Moon R set. The Guardians finally make it into the Black Moon Clan's crystal hide-out in "Believing In Love and the Future: Usagi's Decision." Dimand kidnaps Sailor Moon again, but she's on to his tricks this time. She does tell him what Wise Man's after. The strange being intends to cause the total destruction of not only Earth, but Dimand's planet Nemesis as well, the elimination of all light. Dimand finally understands what he's done...and sacrifices himself so that the others can have a future.

Made "The Vermont" maple-flavored cookies while moving on to "The Final Battle Between Light and Dark: Pledge of Love to the Future." Sailor Moon transforms into Neo-Queen Serenity in order to cut through the Wise Man's mind tricks and remind the girl how much they love her. Even when Chibi-Usa's back to her original age, the gate is still open, and the Doom Phantom is still attacking. It may take two Silver Crystals to defeat this silence-obsessed menace from the cosmos!

Finished out the disc with "Usagi and the Girls' Resolve: Prelude to a New Battle" as I pulled the cookies out of the oven and cleaned up from dinner and baking. This episode is just a clip show that was likely intended as a preview and advertisement for Season 3. The girls argue over who should be the leader and star, using scenes from previous episodes to prove their point.

Watched Jurassic World as I went online. The dinosaur theme park once dreamed of in the original movie is now a reality. People can get up close and personal with genetically engineered dinosaurs. Park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is trying to come up with new ways to keep the park popular. She's not happy that she has to escort her teenage nephew Zach (Nick Robinson) and his younger brother Gray (Ty Simpkins) around the park while her sister deals with a messy divorce and leaves them with her assistant (Katie McGrath) instead. Meanwhile, Jurassic World has created a genetically engineered dinosaur even bigger and nastier than the Tyrannosaurus Rex...and when she's let out, she predictably wrecks havoc. Releasing raptors trained by expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) only makes things worse. Now Owen, Claire, and the two boys have to evacuate the survivors and escape this man-made monster...before she decides to have them for lunch as well!

By far the best movie in the series since the original, and the best of the three follow-ups to date. (A second Jurassic World movie is set to come out next year.) While still not quite at the level of the original, lacking that one's wonder and darker tone, this is still a lot of fun. Pratt's excellent as the dinosaur trainer who's really an expert at survival. I liked the boys, too. As in the previous film, the kids are actually a big help, far more than in the first movie. Howard, playing a role similar to her disbelieving ranger in Pete's Dragon, wasn't bad, either.

Don't come here expecting a biology lesson, though. A lot of paleontologists have apparently complained about the inaccuracies. Also, I wish the villains had been stronger. That head of security operations really thought breeding a dinosaur would create an obedient weapon, not a rampaging killing machine?

Still, if you love dinosaurs, special-effects-filled action, the cast, or the first movie, this is a marked improvement on the previous sequel and gets a recommendation from me.

And now that we've come to the end of the Jurassic Park/World series for the moment, I can safely say that the first movie and the most recent are by far the best of the four. Park and World are fun explorations into what happens when humans mess with Mother Nature. Lost World and Park III are for fans of the cast, the series, or dinosaurs only.

Monday, August 28, 2017

But the World Goes 'Round

Began a cool, cloudy morning with Sailor Moon and the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios with blueberries for breakfast. Did two episodes of Sailor Moon while I ate. Dove into the second half of season two for "The Shocking Future: Dimand's Dark Ambition." Chibi-Usa has taken Tuxedo Mask and the Guardians forward in time to 30th Cenutry Tokyo. The group is shocked to find it in ruins. King Endymion, the future version of Tuxedo Mask, explains that they were attacked by the people of the Dark Moon Clan. The head of the clan has something even more evil planned for Sailor Moon, who happens to be a dead ringer for the queen of Crystal Tokyo, Serenity.

While Tuxedo Mask rescues his beloved, the evil Wise Man is luring away Chibi-Usa in "Wise Man's Evil Hand: Chibi Usa Disappears." Dark Moon Clan third-in-command Esmeraude isn't happy about any of it. She wants to be queen of the Dark Moon and rule with Dimand. Wise Man uses her jealousy against the Sailor Guardians and keep them from coming after the little girl.

(Oh, and by the way, the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are really tasty. They're nicely spiced and just sweet enough, rather than sticky-sweet like the Monster marshmallow cereals. They're a nice choice if you want to celebrate the beginning of fall at breakfast, but aren't into cereals that have marshmallows or are too sugary.)

Headed to work around quarter of 11, dodging road crews on Kendall laying new sewage pipes. Once again, work wasn't really much of a problem. I wish they could have staggered our breaks a little better so I didn't have to wait for lunch. Otherwise, it was on and off steady. I gathered carts and baskets and did the trash and plastic bag recycling.

Took the long way home down down Nicholson Road to avoid the ongoing repairs to Kendall. It just before rush hour and really busy, especially down by the Spanish church and apartments. The traffic ended once I pushed up the hill to Manor Avenue. It was still cloudy by then, but unusually cool for August, barely in the upper 70's. The rain's been a boon for the local flora. Clover, Queen Anne's lace, and goldenrod brighten roadsides. I passed by a rose bush on Nicholson Road with the largest, most beautiful blooms I'd ever seen in vibrant shades of blush, cream, and peachy-pink.

As soon as I got home, I changed and went right into writing. Arturro rushes over to Yoda's house as Yoda and Luke are meditating in Yoda's living room. He tells them about Chip's truncated message and his fear for his friend. Uncle Ben calls and also tells them about Vader's threat. Ben and Yoda don't want the boys to go to Bespin Island to face Vader, but not because they're worried about Luke being "corrupted" or falling to evil. Ben insists that rescuing Leia and Hank is a job for the police. Luke doesn't care. Leia is his twin sister, and Hank's a good friend. They take off...just as Ben decides he's going to tip off the cops anyway.

Had leftovers for dinner, then made Blueberry-Lemon Muffins while watching New York, New York. Just out of the service on V-J Day, saxophonist Jimmy Doyle (Robert DeNiro) ends up celebrating in a night club in New York City, where he encounters USO singer Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli). He keeps pestering her and pestering her, ultimately shanghaiing her into an audition for a local club with him. They end up doing a boy-girl act, then joining a band together. They're so popular, Jimmy finally starts his own band. Obsessed with her, he corrals her into marrying him. He thinks they'll be able to handle it when she's pregnant and wants to keep the baby, but he hates not being able to tour. Ultimately, he leaves after they have a violent argument that ends with her going into labor. She does raise their son, becoming a successful recording and movie star. He finally opens his own, equally popular jazz club, writing the hit "Theme from 'New York, New York'." When he meets her after the opening of her new act, they finally realize that, no matter how much they love each other, they will always love performing and their careers more.

This reminds me a lot of La La Land, set on the other side of the country and with a far more bittersweet tone. Both films portray a man obsessed with jazz and his own talent, a woman who's pushing for more, and show how ambition can come between even the strongest love. I really wish there had been more music in New York, New York and less soap opera. The movie is strongest when Minnelli's belting out several Kander and Ebb tunes (including the smash hit title number and the massive MGM musical spoof "Happy Endings") and the big bands are blasting hot jazz tunes. DeNiro's abrasive performance as the nasty Jimmy gets annoying after a while, to the point where you wonder what Francine sees in the guy. (Also, both films feature a relatively unhappy ending that doesn't really jive with what came before it.)

It's too bad that the theme song is about the only thing from this movie that was successful at the time. Not only was its director Martin Scorsese having major problems (including a drug habit), but most critics didn't really understand what he was doing with the old-style Hollywood tribute, with obviously fake sets to emphasize the fantasy in a brutally down-to-Earth story. This is really too big of a movie (another one that lasts for more than two and a half hours) for a story that should have been kept intimate.

If you're a fan of big band, Kander & Ebb, Scorsese's work, or the stars, this is worth checking out at least once if you have time on your hands.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Riverside Bandstand

Kicked off a sunny, dry morning with Chocolate Chip Pancakes and the soundtrack to New York, New York. The tale of a singer (Liza Minnelli) and a musician (Robert DeNiro) whose relationship and careers rise and fall in the post-war Big Apple is best-known for introducing the rousing title song. Kander and Ebb also wrote three more original songs, including "Happy Endings," the massive story number that was cut from the original print of the film, but the title song is by far the most famous.

Most of the other songs are standards or classic big band tunes. Of these, Liza Minnelli's "Just You, Just Me" is my favorite. DeNiro and Mary Kay Place also manage a rather nice "Blue Moon."

Work was, to my surprise, the most pleasant it's been in weeks. It was steady, but not anything resembling as busy as Sundays normally are. It's so nice, everyone must have gone down to the Shore. Either that, or they're all waiting for Labor Day Weekend. For once, I had plenty of help doing carts, too. I also gathered baskets, bagged briefly, and shelved the few returns.

Went straight home and into the bath. Ahhh. I needed that. It was nice to relax and soak my sore feet and legs. I looked over Christmas craft and cooking books while listening to George Winston playing Vince Guraldi music.

Worked on writing when I got out of the shower. Chip sees Lance's club, Cloud City, open for cleaning, and wanders in. He's inspecting the neat sci-fi inspired murals when he overhears Lance arguing with none other than Vader of the Imperial Gang. Vader intends to kidnap Leia and Hank at the club and use them to lure Luke into a trap. Chip manages to escape to a near-by phone booth and call Arturro long enough to warn him and Luke away before Vader grabs him.

Broke at 7 for a nice dinner. Made Creole-Seasoned Catfish, sauteed green beans with tomatoes, and roasted potatoes and herbs for dinner. It was such a lovely, cool night, my apartment didn't even get really hot when the potatoes were in the oven! It all came out very nicely, especially the potatoes, which were perfect and just golden-brown enough.

Listened to Bandstand while I ate. This is another original story set in post-war America among big-band musicians, but it's far more upbeat. A former soldier named Donny Novati (Corey Cott) is hoping to resume his career as a jazz musician, but jobs are hard to come by...until he hears a radio announcement about a big contest for jazz bands. He gathers together a group of volatile former soldiers into the Donny Nova Band, then hires the widow of his late buddy (Laura Osnes) to be their singer. Soon, they're heading for the top, and on their way to New York for the finals. But even when they find that the competition isn't what they thought it was, they know they've already won...because they've proved to hundreds of music fans that they're talented enough to rise to the "cream of the crop."

No wonder this one is still going strong at this writing on a crowded and busy Broadway. While I suspect it does lose a bit without it's Tony-winning choreography, the music is lovely enough on it's own, including the stirring "Right This Way" and "Nobody" and the touching "Welcome Home." Corey Cott is especially good as determined vet Donny.

If you're a fan of big band, jazz, or the 40's, or just want to try a lighter modern musical, Bandstand is really sweet and a lot of fun.

Ended the night with a more cynical musical view of the same time period, City of Angels. We cross the continent from Cleveland and New York to LA, where mystery author Stone (Gregg Edelman) is adapting his book City of Angels to the big screen. The adaptation isn't going well. The producer (Rene Auberjonois) keeps demanding more and more changes. He just slept with the producer's wife (Randy Graff). His own wife (Kay McClelland) thinks he's selling out and is furious about his infidelity. Even his creation, Stine (James Naughton), is frustrated with him, to the point of singing about it in his head. Both men seem to be heading for a fall, unless one of them can re-write this into a Hollywood happy ending...

Despite the rather odd cop-out ending, this is one of my favorite musicals of the 1980's. I have very fond memories of seeing commercials for this on WWOR and WPIX from Secaucus and New York in the late 80's-early 90's. The Tony-winning score is fabulous. My favorite numbers are for the ladies. "What You Don't Know About Women," "The Tennis Song," and "You Can Always Count On Me" are witty and hilarious.

Once again, if you're a fan of big band music, the time period, or film noir, this musical deserves to be better-known today and is highly recommended.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

True Colors of Summer

I overslept and didn't get as early of a start as I'd hoped. I had a quick corn meal mush and mandarin orange breakfast while watching more She-Ra. "Three Courageous Hearts" gives sidekicks Kowl, Madame Razz, and her talking broom a moment in the spotlight. Evil sorceress Shadow Weaver puts She-Ra to sleep during a local athletic competition, then traps her in the Sixth Dimension. While she makes her way out, Kowl, Madame Razz, and Broom (the only ones not put to sleep by Shadow Weaver) search for the book that'll tell them where the Sixth Dimension is and how to get in.

It was past 10:30 when I finally headed out for my first errand run of the day. I'm glad I was off and able to get to the Collingswood Farm Market. The weather today was gorgeous, sunny, breezy, and just warm enough, in the upper 70's-lower 80's. They were still pretty busy by then with people buying produce, meat, cheese, and bread for late-summer barbecues and pool parties.

The fall produce is just starting to roll in. I saw pears, Italian plums, local small potatoes, Gala apples, and spaghetti squash for the first time today, while blueberries and cherries seem to be gone for good. I didn't have much money on me. I ended up buying green beans, mushrooms, potatoes, small Gala apples, a green pepper, and an Italian (lavender-striped) eggplant.

After I went home and put everything away, I went right back out again. First stop this time was at the Oaklyn Library. Given the lovely day, you probably won't be surprised to hear that they weren't busy at all. The only other people there besides the librarian and me were two old women using the computers. I organized DVDs and looked at the board books and picture books while The Weather Channel blared frightening news about the damaging storm that was battering the Southern Texas coast.

(And for all my readers who live in Southern Texas, I hope you're dry, safe, and well away from the path of Hurricane Harvey. I know what it's like to deal with scary storms. I grew up in a hurricane-prone area.)

I needed to go grocery shopping. Didn't have a huge order; I was mainly there for skim milk. The Acme was having a couple of good buy-one-get-one-free sales. Stocked up on chicken drumsticks (one also had a manager's coupon) and blueberries. They were having another good sale on that tasty Talenti gelato. Decided I'd try Mediterranean Mint this time. Restocked lemon juice, yogurt (had an online coupon for the new Yoplait Mix-Ins), cereal (been dying to try the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios), canned chicken, condensed cream of chicken soup, plastic sandwich bags, and mandarin oranges.

Got my schedule. It's pretty similar to last week, this time with Wednesday and Thursday off and no really late or really early hours. Once again, par for the course and what I have been getting of late.

Had a quick yogurt and apple lunch after I got in and organized my purchases. Continued with She-Ra. Adora is at "A Loss for Words" when Shadow Weaver seals her voice and that of several dissenting villagers into bubbles. The princess has to get it back, without being able to transform into her alter-ego.

It was too nice to be outside all day. I headed out around 2:30 for a short walk. I passed by gardens in radiant full bloom, craggy men mowing lawns and trimming trees, and a moving van hauling furniture into an olive-green house down the street. (I wonder who moved in?) Families pushed children in strollers or rode bikes together.

Most people must have gone elsewhere. The House of Fun wasn't terribly busy with anyone besides the guys who run the place. At least they were a tad more organized than usual. The video games were on, too. I browsed through the DVDs, Funko Pops, and Star Wars dolls, and looked at wrestling action figures for Lauren. Ultimately decided I'd wait on new merchandise for The Last Jedi before buying anything else for Star Wars and moved on. WaWa was even less busy. I just grabbed a Crystal Pepsi and a soft pretzel.

Did some writing when I got home. Luke is annoyed with Yoda when he loses his surfboard in the water and Yoda gives him the "try not" speech. He goes looking for the board and can't find it...only to discover that it had already floated back to Yoda on the shore. He lectures him about patience while Luke finally signs the forms for his car that Arturro wanted him to sign in the first place.

Meanwhile, back on Bespin Island, Chip Thompson is bored and lonely. He misses his buddy Arturro and is frustrated that no one will pay attention to him. Hank and Leia are spending time with each other, Charlie's trying to fix the Falcon, and Lance is doing work at his night club Cloud City. Chip goes for a walk in downtown Bespin to clear his head. He happens to pass by Lance's club as he does...and sees something he wishes he didn't...

It was so late when I finally stopped for dinner, I really only had the time for leftovers. Did more 80's girls' cartoons while I ate. While the Lady Lovely Locks doll line isn't as well-remembered as She-Ra today, it was wildly popular in the late 80's. Yes, it also had its own corresponding cartoon. In the tape I picked up on eBay, the segments were bracketed by a breathy live-action Lady Lovely Locks who explained the "moral of the day," much like Loo-Kee in She-Ra.

Frankly, I always found the Lady herself to be rather disappointing. She's rescued by others in both shorts. The tale of poor Prince the Dog, who isn't what he seems, is far more interesting. Her friends the Pixietails help her out in "To Save My Kingdom." She wants to go home after being away for too long, but nasty Duchess Raven Waves won't let her. Prince is the one who saves her hide from a handsome Baron who turns out to be a "Cruel Pretender" at a ball.

Finished out the night with another cartoon based on a famous doll line, Trolls. The trolls are colorful little critters who love to dance, sing, and hug. They were once hunted by the Bergens, miserable, colorless creatures who ate them in order to feel happy, but they escaped and found a new home. Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) wants to have the party to end all parties. Branch (Justin Timberlake) thinks she's crazy. She'll attract the Bergens. He turns out to be right. A Bergen chef (Christine Baranski) captures a group of trolls and takes them back to Bergen Town. Poppy, Branch, and the remaining trolls go after them. They help a put-upon Bergen maid (Zoey Deschanal) catch the eye of their Prince (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in order to get her to help them find their friends...and in doing so, teach her and all of the Bergens that one doesn't have to look to find happiness. It's already in your heart.

All the 70's and 80's musical numbers were rather appropriate. This did remind me a lot of the Care Bears films and other similar colorful, kid-oriented animated movies from my childhood. The animation is of particular note here. This is the brightest, most brilliant film I have ever seen. The textures, especially on the trolls' hair and felt clothes, makes this feel more like one of those cloth books they used to give toddlers. This movie just pops, making the drab colors of the Bergen and Branch stand out all the more.

I have to admit, while I liked this a lot, I didn't love it. The Cinderella subplot with Bridgit the Bergen maid comes out of nowhere and doesn't really have much to do with the actual story. The characters and the plot are simplistic and frankly a bit silly. It also brings to mind Strange Magic, another odd animated musical fantasy that had characters singing cover of famous pop songs every two minutes. The songs often seemed to be there just for song's sake...which, to be fair, suited the trolls' party-hearty characters, but didn't really move the plot along, either.

While no masterpiece, this was still a lot better than most reviews lead me to believe. If you have kids, especially ones who love musicals or troll dolls, they may have a blast with this. For everyone else, it's a rental at best unless you're a really huge fan of the cast or music.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Come Walk By Night, Come Fly By Day

Began a sunny, cool morning with breakfast and some first season Sailor Moon. Ami finally owns up to her feelings for Ryu (the psychic they rescued in an earlier episode) in "I Won't Run Away From Love Anymore: Ami Vs Mamoru." She once again saves him when he's targeted by the Dark Kingdom and a brainwashed Tuxedo Mask.

It's finally cool enough for me to bake. Made some very tasty and sweet Blueberry Crumble Bars after breakfast. We find out why poor Minako has problems with cops and boys in "Sailor Venus' Past: Minako's Tragic Love." While the other Guardians search for the entrance to the Dark Kingdom, she encounters an old friend of hers, a policewoman who has been turned into a monster by Kunzite. This triggers memories of how the woman had been her best friend in England and ended up falling for the boy they both loved.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Luke spends the rest of the week at Yoda's house. They read the paper together over breakfast every morning...which is how he learns that the Imperial Gang member who lead the invasion of the block party turned up dead, a victim of Vader's high standards and notorious temper.

Luke doing better with his surfing, despite Yoda's strict teaching and tough demands. He's not happy when Luke's board goes out from under him and he loses it in the surf. Yoda uses his own moves to retrieve it. Luke can't believe it. Yoda just tells him he needs to have a little faith.

Broke around 1 for a quick bike run to WaWa. I needed to use the ATM machine anyway, so I picked up a sandwich. Besides, I'd been sitting for hours. My legs were cramping. They were still busy with the last of the lunch crowd at that point. I got my money, got my roast beef and provolone hoagie, and went home.

Continued with the fourth of season of Moonlighting as I ate lunch and got ready for work. I wasn't up for anything heavy, so I skipped ahead a bit to "Here's Living With You, Kid." Burt is ready to move in with Agnes, but she isn't sure. Sleep-deprived from a long stakeout, Burt dreams them into The Sheik and Casablanca. She rejects him in both...but ultimately changes her mind in real-life.

Other than getting stuck in the register for a little while when I arrived, work was totally painless. In fact, it was really boring, especially early-on. I gathered carts and baskets, did what little trash and returns there were, and bagged.

Hurried home as soon as I let out. The moment I got in, I changed and went right back out. Today was the third Oaklyn Final Friday Festival of the season. While it was cloudy, it was also cool, probably in the upper 70's, breezy, and dry. It was a great night for friends to enjoy a drink at Tonewood Brewery, or for families to take their children out for pizza and sandwiches.

I just bought a Cotton Candy Yum Yum at Phillies Yummies. All the food trucks are way beyond my budget. Chatted with a customer and an employee from the Acme while threading my way through the massive, elbow-to-elbow crowds. It was all food trucks this time, except for one jewelry seller, one soap seller, the lady with the chickens, and Studio LuLoo, who had the kids scribbling on a banner and making chalk drawings.

Finally finished out Moonlighting as I went online. Maddie's feeling the "Tracks of My Tears" as she takes the train back to LA. She's so confused, she's having nightmares about a too-perfect version of David (Pat Boone) marrying her because of the baby. She takes a fellow named Walter Bishop (Dennis Dugan) into her confidence. David is understandably angry about her taking off when she finally gets in, but he's really shocked when Maddie reveals that she and Walter got married on the spur of the moment in Las Vegas.

The season ends up on a fairly high note with "And the Flesh Was Made Word." David tries to start over with Maddie after she and Walter have their marriage annulled. He's hoping that a case involving a man who wants to find the woman his partner is obsessed with will help. And meanwhile, we learn part of the cause for this on-and-off season when Maddie and David finish the show with an impromptu dance number due to the then-real-life writer's strike.

And...yeah. Real-life took more of a toll on this show than anything its leads did in bed. "Trip to the Moon" was fun and "Flesh Was Made Word" wasn't bad, and there were isolated moments and spots, but most of this season was dull, all talk and no action.

Many fans consider the fifth season to be the series' worst, due to various attempts at new love interests and the hasty finale. I disagree. Even if the whole deal with Cousin Annie got annoying, at least they were solving mysteries and having fun. Frankly, the emphasis on romantic melodrama in the fourth season, especially in the early episodes, really bogged everything down. When some of the best moments of the season don't involve the leads at all and your leads are so busy, they can't even act together, you have a problem.

I recommend the Seasons One and Two and Season Three set for anyone who's interested in the cast or a unique romantic dramady. Seasons Four and Five are strictly for fans. They're all currently out of print; check eBay or see if you can find the episodes online.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Sun and the Moon In Love

It was absolutely gorgeous when I headed to work this morning, sunny and windy. Didn't spend a lot of time outside, though. I gathered carts for about 20 minutes when I arrived and 20 minutes before break, the latter helping the afternoon bagger. I mostly did returns and cleaned registers until it started getting busier around noon. Unfortunately, this is also when a cashier went home early because she was sick. (Or so she claimed. I think she just didn't want to hang around and do nothing on a quiet morning.) I got stuck in the register for most of my remaining hour.

As soon as I got home, I changed into regular clothes, grabbed my library books, and headed back out. First stop was Phillies Phatties around the corner. It was too nice to sit outside, I took my slice of cheese and slice of mushroom pizza and can of Cherry Vanilla Pepsi out to the wooden benches and watched the people go by.

I'm glad I opted to do the Haddon Township Library today instead of waiting for my day off on Saturday. It was too lovely to hang out inside all day. Enjoyed the weather at a busy Newton Lake Park. There were lots of people walking their dogs or their kids, fishing, and going for jogs. The river is remarkably clear for this time of year, a sparkling green flowing bottle that reflects the emerald trees that bow over its ripples.

The Haddon Township Library was also busy, surprising on such a lovely day. Shelved audio books, CDs, and new releases and pulled TV sets from the shelves with the regular adult titles. I did take some movies out this week. Still haven't seen Trolls; I have a mixed track record with Dreamworks Animation, but this at least looks cute. Began The Matrix Trilogy with the original film and ended the Jurassic Park series with Jurassic World. They just got the most recent Hannah Swenson book Banana Cream Pie Murder in, along with the cast album for the currently-running Broadway musical Bandstand.

Made a quick stop at WaWa on the way home. I was so thirsty. I needed something cool and sweet. They make the best banana smoothies, mainly because they use real bananas. I opted for the Banana Foster Smoothie (banana caramel) and slurped it on the way home.

Worked on writing for the next few hours. Hank and his crew finally arrive at Bespin Island, party capital of the Jersey Shore. They're greeted by Lance Callahan, an old friend of Hank's who is now living the high life. He wears well-tailored preppy clothes and drives an expensive Lincoln Continental. Chip is impressed. Leia is not...though she does soften a little when Lance offers to buy them new clothes and take them out to dinner. She still suspects something is wrong.

Moved onto more fourth season Moonlighting episodes while making Chicken Therese (chicken breasts in a sauce made from mushrooms, onions, cream of chicken soup, and white cooking wine), sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and corn on the cob for dinner. Maddie's dad is the last major character to find out about her pregnancy in "Father Knows Last." While Burt and Agnes deal with the staff and the loss of the Agency's furniture, Mr. Hayes tries to convince David to take more responsibility for Maddie's unborn child.

Returned to Moonlighting after a shower. Figured I might as well finish out the disc. Agnes' mother (Imogene Coca) visits her daughter after a trip to Mexico, but things get complicated when it turns out she has something a pair of jewel smugglers are after in "Los Dos DiPestos."

It's a "Fetal Attraction" when Dave decides he needs a Lamaze partner to practice with while Maddie is still out of town. He asks a charming single mom-to-be to help him...and ends up falling for her. Meanwhile, Maddie's on her way home to figure out where she stands with David.

(And...yeah, now I remember why I put off watching this. Moonlighting's fourth season is where this show began to go seriously south. It wasn't really for the reason people usually think - they slept together - but due to a writer's strike, Cybil Shepard's real-life pregnancy, and Bruce Willis filming Die Hard and dealing with injuries. None of these episodes were really all that exciting, though Imogene Coca's presence did give a comic lift to "Los Dos DiPestos.")

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Guardians In the Sunshine

Once that insane storm passed last night, it left a lovely, if still slightly humid, morning in its wake. I celebrated the beautiful weather with breakfast and Sailor Moon. Things heat up in the first season episode "The Shining Silver Crystal: The Moon Princess Appears." A trap leads to the arrival of the fifth Sailor Guardian, Venus, and Tuxedo Mask being hurt by a jealous Zoisite. Zoisite challenges him to a duel, but Usagi accidentally gets caught up, too. While the other girls try to free them, Usagi and Mamoru inadvertently discover their secret identities...and who they were in the past.

Threw myself into writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. No sooner has the Millenium Falcon pulled out of Ocean View Harbor than it stalls, just off the coast of Holly Beach Inlet (Wildwood Crest/Diamond Beach). While Charlie and Chip try to figure out if there's anything wrong with the wiring, Hank and Leia go downstairs to work on the engine. Hank finally gets Leia alone in the engine room, where she's working on a difficult bolt. As in The Empire Strikes Back, the close quarters lead to the two admitting their feelings in a passionate kiss...before Chip shows up and scares Leia off.

Meanwhile, just over the Holly Beach Inlet Bridge, Vader is sending Bobby Fett and a bunch of his bounty hunter buddies off to find the Falcon and its passengers. They can do what they want, but he wants Leia and Charlie alive. No killing or damaging. (And Vader's glad he can't smell very well. The area he met them at is based on the marinas near Lund's Fisheries, on the borders of Cape May and Diamond Beach just off the Wildwood Crest Bridge. Between the wetlands and the fishery, let's just say they don't exactly smell like a bouquet of roses.)

 Broke for lunch and to get ready for work at 1. Continued with Sailor Moon. Usagi's previous life is further hinted at in "Returning Memories: Usagi and Mamoru's Past." Seems she was once the Princess of the Moon Kingdom and the daughter of a goddess hundreds of years ago, and Mamoru was a prince of Earth. They don't have the chance to find out more before the Dark Moon Kingdom kidnaps Mamoru to be brainwashed and Kunzite attacks the Guardians.

Work was mostly pretty quiet, not a surprise on a beautiful day in the middle of the week, right before a major holiday. I gathered carts right after I arrived and right before I left, but I was mostly doing a big cart of returns. There were two bags of tortilla chips I couldn't find the shelf for, no matter how much I looked or who I asked. No one seemed to know where they went. That's why I finished the day doing carts. I was tired of dealing with the fussing over two damn bags of tortilla chips. (That and, by then, it was rush hour. The bagger who was already outside really did need help.)

At least it was a lovely day to do carts. The humidity vanished by late afternoon, leaving a perfect lower-80's day with a wonderfully cool wind. I had a very pleasant ride home from work, too.

Did one last Sailor Moon episode while eating leftovers for dinner. Having found the entrance to the Dark Kingdom's hideout, the Sailor Guardians are now ready to take on Kunzite. He attacks the girls almost immediately, trying to send them to an evil dimension. Sailor Moon's Silver Crystal protects them, sending them back in time for "Usagi's Awakening: A Message From the Distant Past." A projection of her real mother, Queen Serenity, explains the complicated tale of how the Dark Kingdom attacked the Moon, and why she sent them into the future.

Finished the night with Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars. Tried another long episode, "Legends of Destiny." While I didn't have the time to finish this one, either, I got closer than I did with "Weapons Factory." Found another extra room with a minikit piece. You have to piece together a track to bring down the mine cart with the piece to your level. Ultimately picked up three more pieces and a ton of studs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mall Adventures

Began a hazy, sunny morning with breakfast and Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City. Strawberry's on her way to the Berry City that Never Sleeps for a baking contest. The Peculiar Purple Pieman is determined to keep her from winning and sabotages her every step of the way. Good thing she meets a lot of friendly locals who help her out, including eventual series regulars Orange Blossom and Lemon Meringue.

First on the agenda for the day was getting the laundry done. Good thing I had a tiny load, because they were busy again. Thankfully, it wasn't a noisy crowd. The young boy in the one family there sensibly spent the entire time reading. I took a page from him and spent the forty minutes I was there working on story notes and half-listening to Rachel Ray and The View.

After I got home and put everything away, I had a really quick lunch and got organized to run errands. Garfield and Jon are heading for a tropical resort in Garfield In Paradise. Their vacation doesn't work out well at first, thanks to the cheap hotel Jon booked. It's not until they rent a vintage 1950's car that things begin to pick up considerably. The car, however, eventually lands them in a village of doo-wop-worshiping natives...just as the island's volcano is about to go off!

Made a few quick stops first. I just returned the DVDs and Star Wars In 100 Scenes book to the Oaklyn Library. I'll volunteer there on Saturday, my next day off. Stopped at WaWa for a Gatorade and change for the bus. Locked my bike at the fence behind the former Camden Restaurant Supply Store on the White Horse Pike, then crossed the street to pick up the bus to Cherry Hill. They were right on time, with no traffic anywhere.

The Cherry Hill Mall was the busiest I'd seen it since Christmas, much busier than it was when I went there in May with Lauren. It looked like I wasn't the only person who wanted to avoid the 93-degree heat and stifling humidity. I did my clothes shopping during vacation, so I was mostly there to peek at the toy stores.

Browsed at Jay Street Video Games and Build-A-Bear, but didn't see anything I absolutely needed. The Disney Store had practically no Star Wars stuff left, likely cleared out to make room for the new merchandise for The Last Jedi. They did have some cute Animator's Collection Toddler dolls, though, including a new Flynn from Tangled, the third boy in the line after Aladdin and Kristoff from Frozen. (Flynn comes with the cutest stuffed grumpy Maximus and has an adorable little smirk like Toddler Merida's.)

(And I can name any number of boys I'd like to see in the line. How about a young Arthur from The Sword In the Stone with a stuffed Archimedes? Or Mowgli with a mini-Baloo or Bagheera? Or Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid with a mini-Max the Sheep Dog?)

I was really in Cherry Hill to hit their Target. Hiked across the street and over the pedestrian bridge, taking the elevator up instead of the stairs. (It was really too hot to be dragging my feet up steep concrete steps.) Noticed they're opening a second Layne Bryant location in the fall between PetSmart and the furniture store. Awesome! I like them. You can never have too many plus-size stores. (Plus, this is the first time I've seen that store in a regular shopping center, rather than an indoor mall.)

Target was even busier than the mall. I actually had a reason for being in the toy and sports section besides checking out dolls. I had no bike inner tubes. You never know when one will go on you. All they had was Schwinn. I just grabbed one; I'll get more when I had more money.

Of course I had to check out the toys. While Ever After High seems to be gone, they did have the new Forces of Destiny Star Wars dolls. I debated getting Sabine Wren, then decided I'd save my money for Ahsoka and Padme in the next wave. They did have Jyn and two each of Rey and Leia, including a really cool Leia that came with Wicket the Ewok and the brown dress the Ewoks gave her, but I already have perfectly good Leia, Rey, and Jyn dolls.

Otherwise, I didn't do very well there. They didn't have magnetic curtain rods for my new front door with the too-big window, and I couldn't find the chair pads for my dining table chairs. Their Halloween stuff isn't out yet, either. Not even the candy. They're still on Back to School. This did enable me to buy a red composition book for my next journal for a mere 50 cents. Also grabbed Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix (which I love - it's cheaper at Target than at the Acme) and a bottle of water for the way home. (And drats. Looks like my favorite toasted coconut covered marshmallows were discontinued again. They didn't even have a label for them.)

Tried looking for the curtain rods and curtain at Kohl's on the way back. Nothing there, either. The rods were all huge. Didn't even see any good American Girl stuff. They had outfits for Tenney Grant, the new musically-inclined modern character, and a few accessories for the little-girls line the Wellies Wishers. I don't have any of the Wellies and find Tenney and her line to be rather bland. I moved on. (To give Kohl's some credit, though, they did have a few fall displays out.)

Headed back into the mall for treats and a cool iced tea sample from Teavana before I headed home. Dairy Queen advertised a new Frosted Fudge Brownie Blizzard as their Blizzard of the Month. Yuumm! The medium cup I bought was delicious! Brownie chunks in vanilla ice cream with fudge swirls and chocolate chips. The fudge swirls turned it into Black and White Brownie Blizzard. I just wished they'd mixed it a little better. It was mostly vanilla and chocolate chips on the bottom.

Briefly checked out JC Penney before heading out into the heat to catch the bus. I got lucky. It arrived a few minutes after I came out, early for once. There was slightly more traffic around the Market Place and in Westmont. Otherwise, I once again had no problems getting home.

As soon as I got in, I went on the computer. Things get worse for Luke when the car he shares with Leia dies on the side of the road. He flags down an ancient old Asian man to ask him to use his phone. Turns out...yes, the old guy is Yoda, the elderly former surfer who has surfed with all the greats and knows many of the best tricks. Yoda's not at all certain he'll be able to teach Luke. Luke tells him he's not afraid. Yoda's not so sure.

Broke around 7 to have leftovers for dinner. Did more fourth-season Moonlighting as I ate. The only mystery in "Tale In Two Cities" is why Maddie continues to remain in Chicago. While she attends a party her parents put on to get her out of her funk, Dave tries to pull him and Burt out of their own depressions by going out on the town with some lovely ladies. But they can't get their women out of their heads...

Did a few more episodes after my shower. Maddie announces that she's pregnant at the end of the previous episode, but only to Agnes. Dave finds out from Agnes and Burt in the start of "Cool Hand David, Part I." He goes to Chicago, only to somehow get switched with a criminal and thrown in jail. While he tries to foil a crooked warden's scheme in Part II, Agnes and Burt attempt to find out what happened to him.

And wow. The humidity we've had all day has finally resulted in a massive thunderstorm that's going on even as I write this. Lightning, noisy house-shaking thunder, crazy wind, torrential downpours, the works. Charlie's not going to like this. He spent an hour cursing his brains out while clearing the massive piles of acorns off the other side of my porch and from around the yard. (And I don't think he can cut down the tree that's dropping the most acorns, despite his threats. I think it's in his parents' yard.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Began a sunny, hazy morning with breakfast and Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation. The Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins were raised as cubs by True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse, who fight the evil Dark Heart. True Heart's first assignment is helping a trio of kids at a summer camp. Twins Dawn and John and their pal Christy have been constantly bullied all summer because they're terrible at sports. True Heart finds Dawn and John and helps them out right away...but Dark Heart finds Christy. He makes her into a champion athlete, able to more than compete with the others, but also expects her to help him capture the entire Care Family. It's Christy who finally teaches him that, as she says, "Good or bad, you're still a person."

While the first movie had the scarier villain, this one has the somewhat more interesting plot. I actually like the riff on Faust here. The conversation between Christy and Dark Heart in the lake on the differences between them was rather mature for this franchise. Some nice music, too, including the gorgeous (if superfluous) ballad in the finale, "Forever Young." As with the previous movie, it's not as cutesy as you might think, especially in the second half when Dark Heart is capturing everyone. I didn't notice as many continuity glitches with the animation on this one, either.

The fairly dark storyline and atmosphere makes this for slightly older Care Bears fans and adults who enjoyed the franchise as kids.

Work was, frankly, a bit of a pain. The manager from a few Sundays ago was actually in charge this time. She called me to do carts...right as I was leaving for break. I was almost an hour late getting it. When another bagger came in, instead of having him help me with the carts, she sent me to do the outside trash, which wasn't really that bad. Got stuck in the register when I should have been doing returns. Thankfully, by the time the other bagger and I did get to the three overflowing return carts, it had slowed down somewhat. Everyone probably wanted to come in before that once-in-a-lifetime eclipse today.

(And...I don't know if I saw it or not. I never got the darn glasses, so I couldn't look up. Besides, there was cloud cover off and on all day.)

I rushed home as quickly as possible after that. Spent the next few hours writing. The fishing boat the Millennium Falcon escapes into the harbor, just as Vader and his boys arrive. Vader gets angry at the guy who showed up too soon. He gives the guy next to him the second-in-command job, then calls two other gang members to help him "take care of the trash" at the gas station next-door.

Luke, meanwhile, is lost in the small town of Dagobah, on the marshes around Delaware Bay. The guy who gave him directions on the phone had really weird syntax and didn't seem to speak very good English. He's about to leave when a strange little man on the street offers him assistance...

Did another fourth season Moonlighting episode as I made Chicken Stir Fry for dinner with green peppers, eggplant, carrots, scallions, and canned chicken. Dave's still recovering from Maddie taking off for Chicago in "Take a Left at the Alter." Bert hopes that a case involving a bridegroom who ran out on his wedding day will help get his mind off of her.

Finished out the night online while watching The 'Burbs. We take another left into semi-horror in this 1989 black comedy. Ray (Tom Hanks) is a normal suburbanite trying to take a relaxing week's vacation at home with his sensible wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) and their son. He starts wondering about his new neighbors, the Klopeks, when he hears strange noises at night coming from their basement. His buddy Art (Rick Ducommum), having heard a few too many urban legends, is paranoid that these people are killers who have murdered their elderly neighbor and buried him in their back yard. Enthusiastic teen Ricky (Corey Feldman) and ex-solider Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) are all for checking them out. Ray resists at first, until they actually meet the Klopeks and see just how weird they are. He bundles the rest of the family off, then joins the guys and Ricky and his friends to find out just how many skeletons the Klopeks really have in their backyard.

Hoo boy, this was always a weird one. I thought it was weird even when it was running on cable in the early 90's. My major complaint now is that the ending comes off as a bit of a cop-out. I kind of wish they'd just ended with Ray going in the ambulance. Not every family that looks weird are serial killers. (They actually planned a couple of endings, including one where Ray ended up getting killed, and another where Carol and the cops stopped the doctor from killing him.)

On the other hand, if you like your humor toasty-dark, there's a lot of fun to be found here. Feldman's hilarious as the teenager who's just enjoying all the lunacy, and Bruce Dern's a riot as the solider who never quite left Army life behind. I love it when Art and Ray find what they think is their neighbor's bone. Their reactions are priceless. (Classic sitcom fans will want to look for a cameo by long-time radio and TV grump Gale Gordon as the neighbor whose disappearance causes a lot of the trouble.)

This is now considered to be something of a cult classic along with director Joe Dante's other beloved semi-horror film from the 80's, Gremlins. If you're into the cast or black comedy, it's worth checking out.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer Breeze

Began the day with Raspberry Pancakes and classic disco. Donna Summer's On the Radio was one of my stepfather's favorite albums in the early 80's. When my sister Rose and I were really little, we would dance along to "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls," swirling around in the "fancy dresses" that were really our grandma's old lacy slips. Someone bought it for him again on CD for Christmas in the late 90's-early 2000's...and this time, everyone enjoyed it, even Mom. It played constantly all of Christmas night and the day after.

Work was relatively quiet for Sunday when I got in. There was another bagger doing the carts until 1. I mostly bagged, gathered baskets, and helped people to their cars, though I did get stuck in the register a few times when it started to get much busier around 11:30-noon. By the time I was on my own, the crowds were starting to subside. I wasn't alone for long, anyway. The afternoon bagger arrived at 1:30.

It was a gorgeous day, hot but not humid at all, with a really lovely breeze. Since I'd been inside for most of work and wasn't planning on doing much outside at home, I took the long way back to Oaklyn down Nicholson and Atlantic. Nicholson was a little busy. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing, all the way back to my apartment. Everyone must have gone to the Shore or backyard barbecues by then. (I saw a fair in the back of the Hispanic church on Nicholson as I went by. Wish I could have joined them. It looked like they were having fun!)

When I got in, I worked on writing for a while. Hank's big Ford truck is chased down the narrow streets of Ocean View, past Victorian summer homes and storefronts. He manages to lose the Imperial Gang long enough to pull in at Ackbar's Restaraunt. He's going to take them up north in the Falcon to Bespin Island, where a friend of his owns a condo and manages a dance club.

Broke at 6 for a quick cheese and Ratatouille omelet and to make Summer Fruit Flummery (peaches, raspberries, blueberries) while listening to Lionel Richie. Can't Slow Down is another seminal album from my early childhood. We loved this one. We must have listened to it hundreds of times in the mid-80's. While the major hits included "Hello," "Penny Lover," "All Night Long," and "Love Will Find a Way," my favorite song is the lovely ballad "The Only One."

I'd been inside for most of the day. I ended my evening with a pleasant walk and a treat from Phillies Yummies. By 7, the heat of the day had mostly dissipated, leaving a warm night cooled by a soft wind. I enjoyed my Watermelon Yum Yum (grittier water ice) at one of the wooden tables on the sidewalk. Oooh, it was good! Sweet and fruity. Tasted like real watermelon. Strolled home down Woodlawn Terrace, enjoying the breezy late-summer evening.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Sailor Man and the Pooh Bear

Started the day with Famous Studios' color Popeye shorts from the late 40's and 50's while eating breakfast and making my grocery list. Popeye is "Out to Punch" when Olive coaches him for a boxing bout against Bluto. Bluto does everything he can to make sure he's not at his best in the ring. It's "Assault and Flattery" when Judge Wimpy has to try a case between Popeye and a battered Bluto. Bluto insists Popeye beat on him (via clips from other shorts), but Popeye has his own version of events. He's "Taxi-Turvy" when Bluto's fancy rig keeps beating his little car to fares, but he's not going to let Olive get away! "Ancient Fistory" is a riff on "Cinderella," with Popeye as the scullery sailor who wants a chance to go to the ball, Bluto as his nasty boss, Olive as the princess, and Pappy as the fairy godfather. "Aladdin and His Magic Lamp" is another fairy tale, the last of the three "featurettes" featuring Popeye. He's the title character in this take on the  Arabian Nights tale. Olive is once again the princess. (No Bluto, though. This story sticks to the original version; here, an evil wizard is the villain.)

Work was, once again, busy when I arrived, steady but not overwhelming when I left. I did round up carts in the morning, but there were two other baggers who were able to help out. I mostly gathered trash and baskets, did returns, and bagged. At least it wasn't too horrible when I was out. It was sunny, hot, and humid, but not quite as hot or as humid as yesterday.

I did get stuck in the register for a little while when they needed the cashier to do another order, which I wasn't happy about. I just get so nervous in the registers! I wish people understood introversion better. Few people at the Acme, co-workers or customers, really get why I don't like dealing with so many people at once.

I was happier doing my grocery shopping after work. Took advantage of sales and coupons to pick up laundry detergent, two catfish fillets, the Yoplait Custard Yogurt, and the Chobani Flips. The Acme's having a big "buck a bag" sale for produce this week. Along with grape tomatoes and a container of small cucumbers, I found something that was basically a baked rice-pea snack. For a dollar, I'd try it. I couldn't get to the Collingswood Farm Market today, so I bought peaches, blueberries, and raspberries. Restocked skim milk, eggs, corn meal, toilet paper, canola oil, and sugar. Bought whole wheat bread from the bakery for sandwiches this week. It's too hot to bake muffins.

Found another magazine I've been looking for. Entertainment Weekly features The Last Jedi as the cover subject in their Fall Movie Preview. I grabbed the one with Rey on it, looking tough and determined with her lightsaber.

Changed my clothes, looked over my new magazine, and put away my groceries when I got home. Ran more Popeye as I worked. "Private Eye Popeye" is supposed to be guarding a huge emerald for femme fatale Olive, but butler Bluto takes off with it. Popeye has to chase him down to get it back for his lady fair. It's a "Fright to the Finish" when Bluto uses Olive's fear of Halloween and ghosts to make her think Popeye is playing tricks on her. Popeye doesn't need spinach to show Olive who the real trickster is. The election in "Popeye For President" is nearly as charged as last year's, bringing it down to just Olive's vote. Popeye and Bluto both help her with chores, but Popeye's strength and ingenuity gives him the advantage. "Greek Mirthology" returns us to classic folklore and fantasy. Popeye relates the story of Hercules to get his nephews to eat their spinach.

Did some writing for a few hours after I finished. Went back and added a more dynamic showdown between Vader and Ahsoka when he invades her DJ tent. She confronts him about why he's attacking them. He tells her he no longer believes in friendship, having been abandoned by Ben Kenobi in the fire that destroyed the Jedi Knights' hang-out and an adjoining hotel and burned him beyond recognition. She does hit him, but he has the advantage and beats her to a pulp before the Rebel and Rogue One crew and Ahsoka's crew from the radio station drag him away.

Meanwhile, most of the others have decided it's time to get out of town for a while until the heat dies down. Hank will be taking Charlie, Leia, and Chip up to Bespin Island, a party town about a half-hour north of Ocean View, to visit a friend of his, stopping to let Chip ask for time off from Maz Kantana. Luke and Arturro head east to Dagobah.

Broke at 7 for codfish and leftover Ratatouille for dinner and Acme bakery peanut butter cookie that were on the overstock rack for dessert. Watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh while I ate. This anthology features the original three Pooh featurettes from the mid-late 60's, starting with "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree." Pooh will do anything to get honey, including pretending to be a cloud and using a balloon to get up to a tree filled with bees, or eat so much of it, he gets stuck in Rabbit's door.

"Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" introduces Tigger and Piglet in the tale of a very windy afternoon that is so blustery, it makes Piglet fly like a kite and blows over Owl's house. The spooky, rainy evening prompts a nightmare from Pooh...and a surprising act of heroism later.

His tiger buddy is in the spotlight in "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too." Rabbit wants Tigger to learn how to have some consideration and stop bouncing everyone, but his attempt to get Tigger lost only ends up with him lost. Tigger eventually does it to himself when he bounces so high up a tree, he can't get down. The narrator helps him down, but Rabbit won't let him bounce...until everyone figures out that, as long as you're careful, a little bouncing now and then can be a lot of fun.

A fourth Pooh short released in theaters in the early 80's, "Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore," is a bonus feature on the Many Adventures DVD. Tigger's once again bouncing carelessly, this time landing Eeyore in the river. The gloomy donkey isn't happy, even when he's rescued. It's his birthday, but no one's remembered. Piglet and Pooh try to give him gifts to show how much they care.

I've always enjoyed the Pooh movies, shorts, and specials. The stories are just so much fun, and actually quite unique for Disney, with it's simple, innocent, bittersweet world. Speaking of Disney, this would be a great "starter" Disney movie for very young kids who are still a little too small for some of the more recent films.

Friday, August 18, 2017

On Really, Really Weird Tides

Spent most of a dark, gloomy late morning writing. The motorcyclists on the road are, indeed, the Imperial Gang, lead by one of Vader's top boys, Ozzie Ozzel. Han and Leia flee across the tennis courts. Luke and his friends manage to get some of them off their bikes with rope and surfboards, but the damage is done. The bikers have run roughshod over the party, knocking over tents and destroying tables and equipment. Luke and Wedge run to Chip and Arturro, who are hiding at the Tea Room. Luke's ready to head to Dagobah Bay to see Yoda Yamagachi. Arturro (translated by Chip) asks to come along - he has relatives in the area and no car.

Ran my Chip & Dale shorts DVD during breakfast and lunch. "Chicken In the Rough" has Dale mistaken for a chick by a mother hen. "Two Chips and a Miss" are the chipmunks and the nightclub singer they both pine for, Clarice. They try very hard to outdo each other, but their musical act works better when they all perform in harmony. Pluto's in the spotlight in "Food For Feudin'" when the chipmunks try to get their nuts back from his dog house. Their tree home is "Out of Scale" on Donald's model railroad. The duo take over a house instead, then the train it's on. They're all "On a Limb" when Donald attacks the chipmunks with his tree pruner and tar. He also teases them in "Dragon Around," making the two think his steam shovel is a dragon. But here, he has a real purpose - he wants to get rid of their castle-shaped tree for a freeway project. The two do whatever they can to defend their home.

Headed to work around 1. The weather was awful today, cloudy, hot, and thickly humid. Every time I went inside and out, my glasses fogged. I spent the first few hours doing returns. I should have been outside the whole day, humidity be damned. We were crazy-busy up until 5. Not only did I have no help after 3, but the bagger who was out there earlier shouldn't have been doing it all alone. The items that needed to be shelved could have waited. By 5, heavy dark clouds were gathering, and while it grew even more damp, it also got windier, which helped with the heat. At the very least, it cleared out the customers. I had a far easier time gathering carts than I had earlier.

I did get my schedule today. It's kind of odd. I mostly work fairly early, except for two afternoon-evening shifts on Monday and Friday. Tuesday and Saturday off, which is good. I'll actually make it to the Collingswood Farm Market next week.

By the time I got off at 6, it was thundering and lightning could be seen, though it hadn't yet rained. A manager said to wait until the storm had passed to go home, but I couldn't wait. I had no idea how long that would take. I did end up hurrying home. I was inside for ten minutes and had just started the next chapter of Double Fudge Brownie Murder when the rain finally arrived.

After my shower, I had a quick leftovers dinner while finishing out the cartoons and watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Well, the title's accurate, anyway. This is one weird pirate flick. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is ordered by none other than King George II (Richard Griffiths) to lead an expedition to find the Fountain of Youth in Florida. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is involved, too. They're not the only ones searching for it. None other than the infamous Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are after the Fountain as well (to Jack's dismay, as he and Angelica had once had a relationship). He's even less happy to learn that Blackbeard has shrunk his ship the Black Pearl down and inserted it in a bottle. Meanwhile, a missionary who is a prisoner on Blackbeard's ship (Sam Clafin) has fallen in love with a mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) who was also captured by the ruthless pirate.

Uh...yeah. I didn't understand a lick of this. While I love the idea of them searching for the Fountain of Youth and thought Cruz was a perfect partner for Sparrow's goofiness, almost nothing else worked besides some neat special effects. The missionary/mermaid romance in particular seemed shoehorned in to give the teen girls something to moon at. It wasn't really horrible, just...too much.

And now that we've gotten to the end of this series (for now - I'll catch the one currently in theaters when it shows up on DVD), I can safely say that while At World's End tries hard, none of the follow-up movies have ever really recaptured the magic of Curse of the Black Pearl. Curse is highly recommended and a lot of fun. I'd only do the others if you really loved Curse or this series' cast or pirate tales.

(The next series will likely be either The Matrix or the Divergence trilogy. I'm also considering the Transformers Movieverse.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Madness

Had early work first thing this morning for the first time in weeks. While I did do the carts when I first came in, I mostly shelved items. I might have finished this if one of the managers didn't send me in for cashier so they could go on break (we're very short-handed this week - a lot of people went on vacation), and if they hadn't sent me outside to gather carts ten minutes before I was scheduled to finish. (The carts really didn't need to be rounded up that badly.)

I was very glad to hurry home as soon as I finished. It was relatively cool when I got up this morning, but by 1 PM, it had gotten hot, into the mid-80's and fairly humid. I hid inside for the rest of the day. Had lunch while watching a Backyardigans episode. Having just finished my own cleaning, I thought "What's Bugging You?" was appropriate. Tyrone and Uniqua are bug exterminators. Tasha wants them to catch a wormen (one of the Technicolor worm critters who appear on the show from time to time) and get it out of her house! The house is being inspected by Mr. Spiffy (Pablo) to see if it qualifies for his Spiffy Club. The moose and the pink girl do everything they can to remove that critter.

I tried writing for a little while, but I was too tired. I yawned all through work. Finally gave up and took a nap for an hour or so. Gave it a second shot when I awoke. Leia's upset that both Luke and Hank are leaving her high and dry, especially since she's already had to take time off from school to help with the cottages. Hank tries to calm her down with lunch and a dance at the gazebo, where DJ Ashoka Tano plays Prince and Billy Joel and meets her admirers. Hank's almost ready to take Billy's advice and reveal his feelings to Leia, until he sees a line of familiar black and silver motorcycles on the road that belong to the Imperial Gang...

Broke at 6 for dinner. Made Ratatouille to go with the leftover Salisbury Steak. Watched more Backyardigans while I ate. "Who Goes There?" is a flamenco-fueled riff on the Night at the Museum films. Tyrone is the night watchman at the museum; Uniqua, Austin, and Pablo are the artworks come to life. Tasha is the curator, who once again wants everything neat and tidy the next day, especially in one certain room.

Did some more Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars as I finished the Ratatouille. Did most of the "Weapons Factory" level tonight. The minikit finder was a huge help here. I was able to pick up at least five more pieces and a ton more studs.

Finished the night online with The Money Pit. Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) is having some major problems. He just inherited a huge load of debt from his father, who scammed his company and left town. He and his girlfriend (Shelley Long) were thrown out of their apartment when her ex-husband Max (Alexander Godunov) comes home and wants it back. They ultimately buy a huge house in the suburbs from an old woman with a sob story (Maureen Stapleton), but it turns out to be a mistake. The place is in a shambles. Nothing works, from the wiring to the chimneys. The man they hire to do the work (Philip Bosco) turns a two-week job into four months. Max is also trying to get his wife back, especially as she keeps selling him their things from the divorce to get more money for the house.

Cute, but nothing special. A tad disappointing for all the talent involved. The script never rises above the level of an average sitcom from the mid-80's. Not bad for fans of Hanks, the cast, or 80's comedies, ok time-waster for anyone else.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beating the Heat

Began a much sunnier day with breakfast and another episode of She-Ra. Much like Han Solo, "The Sea Hawk" is originally only out for himself, delivering goods for the Horde and the Rebels. She-Ra gets him firmly on the Rebels side when he's forced to give up Adora to the Horde, then rescues her.

Did some writing for the next couple of hours. The day of the block party at Phineas Estate Park dawns sunny and beautiful. Leia, however, is not feeling as happy as she should. Not only does Hank still intend to leave as soon as the party's over, but Luke does, too. Uncle Ben got a hold of Yoda Yamagachi, who is willing to teach him a few things that'll make him a better surfer. Carl Rieekian, the owner of a local shoe store who also runs the Phineas Estate Museum and is on the City Council, assures her that he'll try to help.

As soon as I got off the computer, I rounded up my dirty clothes and headed to the laundromat. Thankfully after last week, the place was quiet the entire time I was there. I saw maybe two older men. I didn't have a huge load, anyway. I was in and out in a little over 40 minutes.

Went home, put my clothes and the clean dish towels from the kitchen away, then went right back out. It was late, past 2, but I still had some things to do. First stop was Friendly's for lunch. Needless to say that late in the day, they weren't busy. I only saw a few older people eating quick meals. I had a tasty Chicken Caeser Club Sandwich and fries, with cookies and cream ice cream and hot fudge sauce for dessert. The club was tasty, with maybe a little too much Caesar dressing (and not enough chicken and lettuce and tomatoes). Loved the bacon, though. They made it extra-crispy, just how I like it.

Next up was a very quick trip to Dollar Tree in the next building. All I needed was sponges. At least they weren't terribly busy, for once. I was in and out.

Volunteered at the Haddon Township Library for about an hour next. They only had a few DVDs to return, but I did shelve romance novels and audio books and CDs. Organized the kids' DVDs, too. They were surprisingly quiet for a day that was killer humid and in the lower 90's. Everyone must be on vacation.

I have movies at home to watch, but I did take out some books. They had the two most recent Joanne Fluke/Hannah Swenson mysteries, Fudge Brownie Murder and Wedding Cake Murder (Hannah herself apparently gets married in the latter). I also grabbed another Princess Academy story, as well as the final Anne of Green Gables novel, Rilla of Ingleside. (I wasn't that impressed with the previous book Rainbow Valley, but since I'm in the mood to finish up series at the moment, might as well do this one, too.)

Cut across Newton Lake Park going home. Despite the hazy sunshine, they were fairly quiet except for a few joggers and people out for a stroll. I took the cooler, shadier, narrower back path that butts up against houses. Had a nice walk through the woods, pushing my bike up a dirt path, past fields of wild Black-Eyed Susans, to the Haddon Township Environmental and Historical Commission. Stopped briefly at WaWa for a yummy Watermelon Perrier.

As soon as I got home, I dusted in my bedroom, completing the cleaning for this month. It needed to be done badly. I never got around to dusting last month because of vacation. The bedroom takes a while, too. That's where all my collections and books are stored. I have to dust under or around them.

Took a nice, long bath after I finished. Ahhh. This felt soooo wonderful after riding around on a hot day. I looked over Big Magic (on finding your creativity) and my two most recent Christmas With Southern Living finds and listened to one of my jazz CDs.

Continued the fourth season of Moonlighting as I ate Salisbury steak and cucumber-tomato salad for dinner. "Come Back, Little Shiska" has David dealing with the fallout from the season opener, while Maddie reconnects with her parents in Chicago. Meanwhile, we actually have a mystery this time. A rich man (John Goodman) wants David and Burt to find the woman he spent an amazing night with. The woman originally wants nothing to do with him, but nothing is as it seems. (Look for David's bizarre Will Vinton Claymation dream sequence.)

Ended the night with the 1987 Dragnet. This extremely odd spoof of the original 50's and 60's cop show has Dan Ackroyd playing the nephew of the original Joe Friday, Los Angeles' most by-the-book cop. His new partner (Tom Hanks) is anything but. The two are going to have to learn to work together if they intend to take down a cult that wants to take over the world. While Friday falls for the virgin the cult wants to sacrifice, his partner tries to figure out what the upstanding Reverend Worley (Christopher Plummer) is really up to.

Basically, this is "Dragnet if it were The Naked Gun." At the very least, it has a nice cast, including Harry Morgan as the duo's boss (moving up from his original role as Joe Friday's partner in the 60's show). If you're a fan of The Naked Gun movies, Ackroyd, Hanks in comedy mode, the original show, or goofy spoofs, you might have fun with this.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Pirate's Life for Me

I originally awoke at 7 to a gloomy, cloudy morning. Closed my eyes for five minutes...and when I opened them, it was 9:30, and the weather was still blah. Looked like it would rain any minute.

I ate breakfast, then did some things around the house. Went through my journals in the back room. Made the bed, which I hadn't done in over a month. Vacuumed the entire apartment.

Ran the last two episodes of Laverne & Shirley's third season I hadn't watched during breakfast and while making the bed. After overhearing her father worry that she'll never get married, Laverne has a nightmare that turns into "2001: A Comedy Odyssey." In the far future, she and Shirley are old women who still live together. She's desperate to marry anyone, even an elderly Lenny and Squiggy.

"Breakin' Up and Makin' Up" is the season finale. Mr. DeFazio is upset when Mrs. Babish's ex-husband arrives in town and she breaks up with him. The girls hold a big dinner at their apartment, complete with Shirley's attempt to sing Rogers and Hammerstein ballads, to try to bring them back together.

Switched to my Year of Your Life: 1982 Vol 2. CD by the time I was vacuuming as inspiration for my current story. I had been debating whether or not to run errands all morning. It wasn't raining when I put my rag rug and welcome mat outside to air. Figured I'd at least return the DVDs to the Oaklyn Library, even if the weather wasn't good enough to get anywhere else.

Indeed, it was lightly showering as I walked out the door. Walked and brought my umbrella instead of taking the bike. The neighborhood is just so green for this time of year. Grass that is usually brown only has a few little crispy spots. Flowers bloom in abundance, the only decoration anyone needed besides a few faded flower-print banners and wreaths. The leaves on the trees are shiny like green glass.

The Oaklyn Library was relatively busy for such a wet day, with a few families coming in to return items and a young teen girl looking for books in the kids' area. I organized DVDs and dodged the kid long enough to take a look at the picture and board books. Took out the remaining two Pirates of the Caribbean films, At World's End and On Stranger Tides. Also dug up a collection of three Tom Hanks comedies from the 80's. I have seen The 'Burbs and Dragnet, but not in a long time, and I don't think I've ever run into The Money Trap.

Hiked to WaWa to pick up lunch. I was delighted to learn that they still sell Crystal Pepsi. I always did like that when it was released in the early 90's, and the current version tastes exactly the same. Got a roasted chicken sandwich with lunch. (Which I couldn't use my food stamp card on. It hadn't even occurred to me that the chicken would be regarded as hot foods.)

It was still raining when I walked home. The rain was down to barely a shower when I got in. It would shower off and on for the remainder of the afternoon. I spent the day at home. This was no time to be lingering anywhere. In fact, it's just as well that Mrs. Stahl did change our appointment. This was definitely not a good day for a long bike ride to Haddonfield or anywhere else.

Put on an episode of She-Ra while eating my roast chicken sandwich. (Which was slathered with waaaayyy too much honey mustard. The chicken kept slipping out.) She-Ra, Madame Razz, and Castaspella have to rescue Bow and Sorrowful the Dragon when they're captured by the Horde. They're not the only captives there. "The Prisoners of Beast Island" are fellow-beasts who are behind bars. Sorrowful makes up for his cowardly behavior earlier by releasing the beasts and rescuing the rebels.

Worked on writing for a few hours after lunch. It rains for two days straight right before the block party is scheduled. Leia's worried that the rain won't stop, despite Hank's admonishments that the National Weather Service says sun for Saturday. Leia's even less happy when Hank announces that he and Charlie are leaving after the block party. She wants him to stay, but he doesn't want her to potentially be harmed by any other bounty hunters who are after him. Leia finally drags her brother away from an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard to talk to the other Cottage residents. Charlie doesn't like running out on the group, but Hank's determined to leave.

Broke at 5:30 to start dusting the living room. Started the fourth season of Moonlighting as I did. This is another season set I've mostly put off watching, mainly because...well, this is pretty much said to be the worst season of this series. Indeed, "A Trip to the Moon" was mainly Maddie and David discussing and arguing over their relationship after they slept together in the end of Season 3, with nary a mystery to be seen. There were some nifty fantasy sequences, though. Maddie gets love advice from Dr. Joyce Brothers; David gets it from Ray Charles. Maddie keeps dreaming their relationship into an episode of The Honeymooners.

The ground turkey I pulled out for dinner hadn't defrosted by 6:30, so I settled on scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms for dinner. Made Peach Flummery for dessert. Enjoyed my meal while watching Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Captain Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) are determined to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the clutches of Davy Jones' Locker. He's one of nine pirate lords who can take part in the Brethren Court and create an armada to stop the obnoxious Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), who has taken control of Tortuga. Even after they rescue Jack, they still have to convince him and the rest of the Court, including the even more menacing Captain Teague (Keith Richards), to help out. There's also Calypso (Naomie Harris), who helped raise Barbarossa from the dead in the previous film and had once been Davy Jones' lover. They hope she'll help them if they unleash her power. But you know what they say about a woman scorned...

I was pleasantly surprised here. I hadn't heard good things about this or On Stranger Tides, but it actually turned out to be a lot of fun. I saw bits and pieces of it before when it was first released on DVD, but not the whole thing. While still not at the level of the first movie, it's a slight improvement over the second, with some great action set pieces, cinematography, makeup design, and special effects. (It was deservedly Oscar-nominated for the latter two.) Everyone's clearly having a marvelous time, including Richards in his brief but memorable cameo.

The big problem here is length. This is notoriously almost three hours, and the padding does show, especially in the convoluted middle half. I had a hard time following who was double-crossing whom after a while.

If you have a lot of time of your hands and are a fan of this series, pirate yarns, or the cast, hop on-board and join the Court. This is likely the second-best film in the series after Curse of the Black Pearl. If you're new to the series, back up to Curse and start there. Like Harry Potter, this is a series that you absolutely must start at the beginning with if the plot is going to make any sense.

Monday, August 14, 2017

In the Mysterious Fathoms Below

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast. After I ate, I moved on to cleaning the kitchen. It really needed it. I put it off way too long. The counters and sink were especially grungy. There's cobwebs all over the place, too. All the weird weather we've had this summer must have driven the spiders inside.

Ran more Laverne & Shirley third season episodes as I worked. "The Mortician" is Laverne's newest date. She lies and says Shirley is dying to get further along with him. He figures out the truth when she overdoes it.

"The Slow Child" is Mrs. Babish's daughter Amy, who is autistic. Her mother's letting her help the girls get ready for their St. Patrick's Day party. She really hits it off with the equally slow Lenny, who takes her out on her first date...which sends the others all over looking for them.. He actually attacks his best friend when Squiggy calls the girl retarded. It takes a lot of talking to her mother and to Lenny to point out that Amy is really a sweet girl who needs her mother to start treating her like an adult.

Laverne and Shirley are excited to be in charge of "The Second (Almost) Annual Shotz Talent Show." Their excitement fades when the boss says he wants them to find a place for his son Max. The show seems to be the only thing that interests him. Problem is, Max seemingly has no talents. Even Lenny and Squiggy can't figure out what to do with him. The girls have to confront their boss to find out where Max's talents really lay.

The phone rang just as I was starting to clean up the kitchen. It was Mrs. Stahl. Turns out she had a family emergency and rescheduled our appointment again. Hopefully, I'll actually make it to Haddonfield on September 5th.

Had a far easier time today than I did yesterday. Having late morning-early afternoon work this time probably helped. I mostly gathered carts and baskets, shelved items, and mopped the bathroom floors. Wasn't too happy to get stuck in the register twice, including for someone going on break...when I should have been going on break myself.

Spent the rest of a gloomy, humid day at home writing. In a riff on the scene between Wolfman Jack and Richard Dreyfuss in another George Lucas film, American Graffiti, Luke comes to WMBZ in Atlantic City to ask Ahsoka "Fulcrum" Tano if she'll perform at the block party. Not only does she agree to it, but she lets a delighted Luke announce it on the air.

Finished out the third Laverne & Shirley disc while eating leftovers for dinner. Shirley's cousin is "The Dentist," whom she wants to fix Laverne's broken tooth. Her cousin isn't a very good dentist, having failed dental school five times, but she convinces Laverne to go to him anyway and help him finally pass. If he can find her tooth after they've inhaled too much laughing gas...

The girls are stranded at a "Bus Stop" when two medical students leave them high and dry after they won't go out for drinks with them. Shirley desperately tries to get money to sleep anywhere else, then mourns her lost dream of marrying a doctor. Laverne's fine with sleeping on a bench.

Took a shower, then put on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest while going online. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in a bit of a bind. He once bartered for the Black Pearl with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who is also holding Will Parker's (Orlando Bloom) father Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard) as part of his crew. Jack and his crew are on an island filled with cannibals, where Jack is worshiped as a god. Meanwhile, Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) and Will can't marry until they bring Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) Jack's magic compass. After rescuing Jack and the others, they discover from voodoo priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) that Davy Jones' only weakness is in his heart, which is kept in Dead Man's Chest on Isla Cruces. Now they have to get the key from Bootstrap Bill and find that chest, or the monstrous creature known as the Kracken may drag them down to Davy Jones' Locker before Jones can!

While not as good as the first one, this does have its charms, including amazing, Oscar-winning special effects and the awesome three-way duel between Jack, Will, and Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport) for possession of the chest.

I really wouldn't come here until after you've seen Curse of the Black Pearl. This is another series where you need to catch at least a couple of the movies for the plot to make any sense. If you're already a fan, or you really love pirate adventures or the cast, swing on ship and have fun.