Friday, December 08, 2017

Holiday Mall Adventures

I got an early start this morning. Put on Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales while I ate a quick breakfast and got organized.This series of holiday-related skits was made to fill out an hour with A Charlie Brown Christmas, but has some entertaining material in its own right. I'm especially fond of Sally writing to "Samantha Claus" and her method of getting a Christmas tree without cutting it down.

Started out the door around 9:30...and briefly went right back inside. A package had come from American Girl. I hadn't ordered anything. It was from Lauren. She sent me Felicity's new undergarments (her original ones cost a mint on eBay) and a cute smocked world-travel-themed sundress that'll be nice for Whitney or Jessa in the summer. I got another package from her yesterday. Her family has stock in Kimberly-Clark. She always sends me a box with their products at Christmas. I kept the roll of paper towels and various tissue boxes and split the packages of wipes and coupons for wipes and diapers between Rose and Anny.

This time, I did manage to get to the Cherry Hill Mall. Caught the 9:47 bus just in time. It was about 10 minutes late, not bad considering the ongoing work on the Nicholson Road bridge. There was no traffic whatsoever, and the bus wasn't close to full.

The mall was a little busy when I got in, not too bad. Started at JC Penney. I got a hole in my favorite pair of jeans a few days ago. Unlike a lot of teenagers nowadays, I'm not walking around with rips in my jeans. I may patch the other pair eventually, but for right now, I picked up a new pair that was half-price.

Browsed around in the mall a bit next. Jay Street Video Games had their stock buy one, get one half-off. I picked up two Playstation 1 wrestling games for Lauren. Had a sample of Winterberry hot tea at Teavana, then peeked at Build-a-Bear, The Lego Store, and The Disney Store. I wanted to check out the new Last Jedi merchandise in the latter, but the were so crazy, I didn't really see a whole lot besides some neat action figures.

Strolled out the door by Nordstrom's around 12:30, passing Santa waiting for a long line of hopeful kids. (The elaborate Dreamworks Santa set-up of the last few years had been replaced by a smaller and less fancy theme based on A Christmas Story.) Went right across the parking lot and over the bridge to the shopping center across the highway. Took the elevator up to the bridge to save a little shoe leather.

My next stop was Kohl's. They were busy, if not quite as bad as the mall. I took a look at some of their American Girl items, but I ended up buying a gift for my baby niece Finley. She's getting a cute little blue elephant that "pops" colorful balls when you roll him, like a cuter version of the old push "popcorn" toy from when I was a kid. It was on a really good sale, too.

It was around one when I ended up at the Silver Dollar Diner for lunch. This cute little chrome diner is perched on the edge of the hill where the shopping center is. I admired the wonderful views of the Cherry Hill Mall and surrounding area while enjoying fish and chips, with cole slaw and short, slender fries dusted with Old Bay, for lunch. Yum! It was one of the best fried fish meals I've ever had. The fish was just crusty enough, covered in its own coating of Old Bay. The cole slaw was tangy and sweet and not soupy at all. The fries were salty and very thin and short for fries, but so tasty and crunchy.

Spent the next couple of hours in Target. I had to do my toy shopping. The place was bedlam. We're supposed to get anything from 2 to 4 inches of snow tomorrow. I ducked around frantic parents looking for holiday gifts, trying to find things for Rose and the kids. After entirely too much deliberation, I picked up a My Little Pony mer-pony from the current movie for Lilah, a card game for Skylar, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure that depicted Michelangelo as a werewolf for Collyn, a Minecraft figure for Khai, and a little something for Rose, too. Found those limited-edition Betty Crocker Gingerbread and Salted Caramel cookie mixes and a Cherry Coke for me.

I was so worn out after the mess in Target, I went straight back to the mall after that. Tried this year's Christmas-themed Blizzard at Dairy Queen, Candy Cane Chill. Basically, crushed candy canes with chocolate bits in mint ice cream. Not bad. The mint ice cream was tasty and the chocolate was good, but the crunchy candy cane pieces were a bit much. I was in and out of Payless Shoes and Fashion To Figure after I finished, but didn't buy anything. (Fashion To Figure has closing signs posted. Considering they're right next door to Lane Bryant and are basically the same thing with the same prices, I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did.)

I was so happy when the bus was right on time. There was a little traffic around the Market Place by quarter of 4, but nothing really horrible. I was back in Oaklyn by 20 after 4 and home by 4:30.

Got my gifts organized and put away the American Girl clothes when I arrived, then went online to do some writing. As BB is about to go find Poe and Luke Weston and tell them what she overheard Ben and his friends saying, she literally runs into an Asian girl carrying tools. The girl's name is Rose Tico. She's there to repair one of the store's escalators, but her real interest is in engineering. She wants to design toys. BB points her in the direction of Luke Weston. She also encourages her to chat with Finn, whom Rose obviously has a crush on.

Had a really quick dinner of leftovers around quarter of 7. Watched Cricket On the Hearth as I ate. The cricket of the title in this Rankin-Bass adaptation of a Dickens short story is Cricket Crockett (Roddy McDowell), a lucky fellow who moves in with a kindly toy maker (Danny Thomas) and his daughter Bertha (Marlo Thomas). Bertha's sweetheart Edward (Ed Ames) has joined the English Navy. She longs for the day he comes home...until she's told he's lost at sea. The shock causes her to lose her sight. Her father ends up working for a miserly toy factory owner (Hans Conried) and his nasty crow, who doesn't like Crockett one bit. Now the cricket has to see if he has enough luck left to reunite Bertha with her true sweetheart.

Finished the night with The Way We Were after a shower. Told partly in flashback, we learn the story of Katie Morosky (Barbara Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford), one of Hollywood's most mismatched pairs of lovers. They meet at college when he attends a rally against the Fascists she's speaking at. She's attracted to his carefree manner, writing ability, and golden good looks; he admires her determination and ardent fervor for her many causes. They meet again right after World War II, when she's now fighting for the Communists and he's a soldier just back in the US. They start a relationship, but break it off after Katie gets into an argument at a party when his friends make jokes about the death of Franklin Roosevelt. They kiss, make up, and ultimately get married. He convinces her to go out to Hollywood, and they are happy there for a few years...until Katie's past political activities catch up with her in the wake of the Hollywood Blacklist of the early 50's. She's incensed that he won't take a greater stand or do more with his writing than churn out Hollywood fluff; he can't understand why she'd risk their careers for her political beliefs. They part after the birth of their child, but realize that they'll always have their daughter...and their memories of how things had once been.

This reminds me a lot of New York, New York from later in the decade - he rests on his talent, she's pushing for more, there's a bittersweet ending. Only here, she's the abrasive one, and he's the nice guy who can't understand why she's being so pushy. For all the arguing, it's really very sweet, thoughtful, and sad. It also spun off the Oscar-winning title song, one of Streisand's biggest hits.

If you're a fan of the leads, movies set in the mid-20th century, or classic romances, this is one trip down memory lane very much worth taking.

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