Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Here Comes the Sun

Began the day with a heavy shower, which didn't bode well for my plans. I was in luck. By the time I was eating lunch and watching an episode of The Muppet Show, the rain was gone, though it remained windy and damp. The show Alice Cooper starred in was tailor-made for this weather. Cooper was one of the earliest shock jocks, whose spooky style was reflected in hard rock hits like "School's Out" and "Welcome to My Nightmare." Backstage, Cooper claims he wants the Muppets to sell their souls to his "boss"...but Gonzo is the only taker.

Hurried out to the laundromat around 11:30 to get this week's load done. I didn't have a ton to do, but I wanted to get it out of the way early. I picked the right time. I saw a few other people, but otherwise, there were no problems. I spent the time working on story notes and half-listening to The View and Action News.

As soon as I got home, I folded everything, put them away or hung them to dry, and rushed back out. I had counseling in Haddonfield this afternoon. The weather was unexpectedly cooperating with me. As Action News had said, the worst of the rain had gone east to the Shore. By the time I pulled in at Mrs. Stahl's office, the sun was just starting to break through the clouds.

Not a whole lot to report here, anyway. Other than my ongoing financial problems and problems with my mangers, this month's been going much better than last month did. I finished my second fanfiction novel, which isn't something I could have claimed just two years ago. My bike's back on the road; I was able to replace the DVD player. While I wish I could have taken part in more fall activities, such as Haddon Township's Block Party or Haddonfield's library book sale and flea market, I've enjoyed the ones I have gotten to. This is the best the Eagles have done in over a decade; they are now officially the NFL's top team.

Not to mention, the holidays are coming. For the most part, this is my favorite time of year. While some of the more family-oriented traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas occasionally make me feel a bit left out, I do genuinely enjoy the festive atmosphere. I'll be taking the first week of December off again for my final vacation of the year, since that worked out very well last year, with my good friend Amanda visiting on the first day.

We came to the conclusion towards the end of my shift that the last two months of the year are busy enough for me without having to run up to Haddonfield and spend twenty bucks on counseling. I'm better off using the money and time for other things. I'll be calling her sometime in early-mid December (probably during my vacation) to set up my first appointment of 2018 for early January.

I stepped out of Mrs. Stahl's office...and into a gorgeous fall day. While it remained warm for this time of year (76, according to the digital marquee at the Westmont Fire Hall), the sun was out, the breeze was cool, and the humidity had vanished with the clouds. Since I hadn't had lunch yet, I decided to stop at the Westmont Diner, on the border of Haddonfield and Westmont, and get something for a quick meal. Needless to say, they were quiet at 3 PM, with only a few couples and a family having  a late lunch. I opted for a juicy, messy Popeye Burger with spinach, mushrooms, onions, and a ton of Swiss cheese, French fries, and pumpkin ice cream.

Headed straight home after that. Lucky for me, rush hour traffic wasn't nearly as bad as usual, allowing me to easily cross Cuthbert and Haddon without the usual fuss. Newton Lake Park wasn't busy, either, despite it being really pretty over there. While the flowers are vanishing, the leaves are finally starting to turn colors here, golds and lime greens and mottled reds. The grass looks far less brittle than it did earlier this month. I ended up taking the short way over the hillside trails past the Haddon Township Museum and Nature Center and up to the White Horse Pike.

Went on the computer as soon as I got in. Among Snoke's men are King Han's own son Prince Benjamin. He's calling himself Kylo Ren now. He left his father's kingdom because his uncle wouldn't teach him the dark arts, and he became impatient with the magic he did learn. Ren's convinced that his father wanted to replace him with Poe, Snap, and especially Finn. Han tries to insist that this isn't so, but neither Snoke nor Ren want to listen. Snoke first enchants Han's voice, making his gruff tones sound like a frog's bellowed croak, before insisting that he'll find a way for no one to love him...or recognize him or the other princes...

Had a quick dinner of chili, then made Spicy Cranapple Muffins for lunch this week. Ran a spooky story from Fairie Tale Theatre as I worked. The lesser-known Grimm's Fairy Tale "The Boy Who Left Home to Learn About the Shivers" is this series' horror entry. Marvin (Peter MacNichol) is the boy of the title, who goes out into the world to discover what fear is. He agrees with King Vlad of Transylvania (Christopher Lee) to spend three nights in a haunted castle. If he survives, he'll get the king's greatest treasure. The innkeeper's daughter Amanda (Dana Hill) is worried about his safety, but he's more interesting in bowling with the ghouls than being afraid of them. It's not until he finds out what the king's treasure is that he learns what he's really scared of.

Ended the night after a shower with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. This 2011 outing brought back Tom Cruise after the third film failed to match the first two in popularity with critics or audiences. No sooner does Ethan Hunt (Cruise) break out of a prison in Russia than he finds himself with a new mission to accept - break into the Kremlin to learn more about Cobalt, an agent who has stolen codes that could set off a nuclear bomb. When half the Kremlin is blown to bits, Hunt and the IMF are blamed. While Hunt and his crew are technically disavowed by the government, their boss encourages them to continue to pursue Cobalt anyway. Their search takes them from a luxury hotel in Dubai dust storm to a fancy party in India, as they pursue the rogue agent (Michael Nyqvist) and the assassin who killed the original agent who was supposed to get the codes (Lea Seydoux).

Ooh, this was fun. It matches its two earlier predecessors with some truly breathtaking action, including the dust storm in Dubai, Hunt scaling the glass hotel, and the finale in the car park. The cast is even better, featuring Jeremy Renner as mysterious former analyst William Brandt (a year before his breakout role in The Avengers) and Simon Pegg as jumpy electronics wiz Benji Dunn. If you enjoyed the previous films in this series, by all means, move right to this one. This one's just as good as the earlier entries, if not better.

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