Thursday, May 31, 2018

Party of One

Began the day with breakfast and the last few episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on the disc. "Princess Twilight Sparkle" is the two part season four opener. Twilight Sparkle is expected to open the Summer Sun Celebration with a dazzling display of flight. There's only one slight problem. She just got her wings in the previous episode, and she's not used to them yet. There's soon larger problems in the land than her inability to fly. Ponyville is being attacked by needle-sharp vines from the Everfree Forest, and the princesses have disappeared. A potion from zebra witch Zecora reveals a mystical Tree of Harmony that may hold the answer.

Work was a bit of a pain. Despite it being dead the entire day, I ended up in the register for an hour. One of the managers had been called up to replace a grocery manager who called out, and they had to pull someone else to take her place. At the very least, this did give me a chance to help shelve candy. I also put some loose items away and gathered carts.

I went on the computer to do some writing when I got home, but I was distracted and didn't finish much. I did get Leia, the Ewoks, Wedge and his men, and Lando and Niem Numb into the secret passage behind the castle.

When I got off, I put on the first half of Star Wars: Clone Wars while eating Chicken in tomato-mushroom sauce and leftover macaroni salad and green salad for dinner. Moved onto Lego Indiana Jones while I ate. The tank in "Desert Ambush" wouldn't shoot, which meant I couldn't finish that round. (I figured out what I did wrong online - I'll fix it next time.) I did manage to get True Adventurer and all but two pieces anyway. I also found R2-D2, who hides under a whip spot in the first part. I was finally able to buy Han Solo, who shoots a sweet blaster. "Temple of the Grail" was a lot less difficult, especially since I already had half the pieces - and it was a lot easier in Free Play than in regular mode. I had no trouble fully completing it, up to and including True Adventurer and all the pieces.

Ended the night with a tasty fruit smoothie made with some of that fruit Jodie gave me and the rest of Clone Wars. This is the original 2-D animated series that picks up directly from where Attack of the Clones left off. We're introduced to the clones, Asaji Ventress, and several of the Jedi Masters as generals. The storyline here had Anakin being promoted Jedi Knight (despite Obi Wan's protests), then disrupting a native ritual on the planet Nelvaan. But there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, as Anakin and Obi-Wan discover when Anakin takes the "trial by fire" and they look further into experiments on natives. Meanwhile, Mace Windu pursues General Grevious, who has his own plans for the galaxy, and Chancellor Palpatine.

Not bad. This is a far more intense and violent - but equally interesting - take on the Clone Wars and what happened between the prequels. Obi-Wan's continual annoyance with Anakin's impatience and pretty much everything else was especially funny. Look out for a lot of action, including one gross scene where Obi-Wan is absorbed into a monster and fights it from within. I just wish we could have seen them in their original 12-minute format, rather than cut into one movie. (Evidently, these constitute all of season 2.)

If you're a fan of the prequels, the characters, the Jedi, or series creator Gendy Tartarkovsky (who also did Samurai Jack, among others), this is worth looking around for.

(Oh, and I must make smoothies more often. The one I made today - consisting of fruit, peanut butter, milk, and honey - came out wonderfully, tasty, cool, and just sweet enough.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Whole Tooth, and Nothing But the Tooth

It was still gloomy and cold when I got up this morning. Brightened my day a bit with more of The Cat in the Hat. It's too cold for Nick and Sally to play outside. The Cat takes them to visit with Lars and his family to see how they keep warm in the tundra in "Little Lemmings." They take a fantastic voyage inside Thing 2 to show how their hearts "Keep the Beat." Clarence the cricket teaches them how to play like he does in "Name That Sound."

Hurried out to the Westmont Plaza as soon as "Name That Sound" ended for my dentist appointment. I just made it. I only had one of the three broken teeth out today, the back right one. I only have the money for one removal at the moment (they cost 25 each with my insurance), and I figured the back one would take the least time and still allow me to eat. I was right. It took them less than 10 minutes to remove the broken tooth. I was out again before 10:30.

Since it's across the way, next stop was the Haddon Township Library. Considering they'd only been open for about a half-hour at that point, their DVD return cart was overflowing. Either it was much busier right when they opened, there were a lot of DVDs in the return box this morning, or the majority of them were ones they never shelved yesterday. At any rate, I spent an hour getting them all organized.

Took out a few more movies this week. I wasn't crazy about the first Blade Runner, but so many people gave high marks to Blade Runner 2049, I figured I'd give it a chance. Finally found Almost Famous, which I'd wanted to see for a while. They also had a new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic set that was themed around spring events and a half-hour Lego Jurassic World special, The Indominus Escape.

Dodged lunch-hour traffic on Cuthbert as I headed over to Oaklyn. It spit a little bit when I was out there, but never really rained. I got to the Oaklyn Library perfectly dry. They were a lot busier than usual, with several older folks on the computer, another man reading, and a dad and his upset child trying to find movies. I organized DVDs and took a look at the picture books. Took out Black Panther, Maze Runner: Death Cure, and another Clone Wars set, this for the original 2-D animated series.

Headed to the Acme next to pick up my prescription for stronger ibuprofen than you can find over the counter. The pharmacist on duty said she'd need a half-hour to get it ready, so I checked out a display of books on clearance, went to the bathroom, and considered getting a drink before I realized it was late and I didn't really have the money for extras. I just took my prescription when it was ready and went home.

Finally had lunch while watching The Indominus Escape. The Indominus Rex is a new, dangerous hybrid dinosaur that Claire encouraged the creation of. Owen's not so sure about this, especially when it learns that the Indominus will only eat hot dogs. The creature gets loose and chases any hot dog it can find, including one poor guy in a costume. Meanwhile, Owen and Claire have to figure out how to get it where it belongs.

I honestly liked "Employee Safety Video" better. Claire hires a Hollywood director to a film a safety video for new recruits. The director thinks he's brilliant, but everything that can go wrong, does, usually to his poor yes-man.

(Evidently, these started as a series of online shorts at LEGO and Jurassic World's YouTube channels, and...yeah, you're probably better off watching them there. There's no reason to buy this set unless you're a huge fan of Jurassic World.)

Went with Lego Indiana Jones after lunch. Got through "Castle Escape" and "Trouble in the Sky" today. "Castle Escape" was far longer and more difficult than "Trouble In the Sky." I found all but one piece on the latter and got True Adventurer and the parcels for both, but I missed two pieces on "Escape."

Worked on writing for a little while next. Leia, Lando, and Wedge follow a parade of dancing peasant girls in brightly embroidered costumes, carrying flower rings. Lando explains that this is a fertility ritual, intended to bring good crops and many marriages in the coming year. It ends at Solo Castle, where Ahsoka shows off her mind-reading skills. She reads Leia's mind before telling her that there's a secret entrance in the side of the castle. Wedge will take her there.

Broke at quarter after 6 for dinner. Watched two My Little Pony episodes while eating and making Strawberry Chocolate Bars (strawberry cake mix made into a butter crust, topped with strawberry jam, sliced strawberries, and chocolate chips). "The Ticket Master" is the second episode of the series. Princess Celestia has sent two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala to Twilight Sparkle. All of her friends do her special favors to get her to let them go, putting a great deal of pressure on her. She figures she'll give them back...but Celestia has a surprise in store.

Spike takes care of the Mane Five's pets in order to earn jewels for a cake he's making in "Just for Sidekicks." He discovers how hard it is to care for pets when he tries to dump them on the Cutie Mark Crusaders and ends up watching them too, and then Fluttershy's bunny Angel runs away.

Took a bath for an hour after finally pulling the Chocolate Strawberry Bars out of the oven. Ahh. After a rather long month, I really needed the soak. Looked at old Wilton cake books and listened to my new George Shearing Quintet CD.

Finished the night with Black Panther after I got out of the bath. This movie takes the "superhero secret identity" thing to a new level by having a whole country with a secret identity. Wakanda may look like an African third-world country, but it's really an advanced city made from the space metal vibranium. T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becomes the king of Wakanda and the new Black Panther, protector of the country, after the death of his father. He's challenged in the role first by Jabari Tribe leader M'Baku (Winston Duke) and then by Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), who had been abandoned in California when his father was killed by T'Challa's father. Killmonger's father was going to sell vibranium to people who would fight to release Africans around the world from oppression. He manages to badly wound T'Challa in their challenge. With the help of his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his brilliant scientist sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), and warrior Okoye (Danai Gurira) of the all-woman Dora Milaje tribe, T'Challa is able to return to his rightful throne and prove that Wakanda can find a place for itself in the 21st century without bloodshed.

As good as Boseman and Jordan are as the king and the wanna-be ruler, it's the ladies who walk off with the film. T'Challa's lucky to be surrounded by some truly wonderful women. I especially loved Gurira as the strong-willed and devoted warrior and Wright as the adorable and brilliant teenager who drives her brother crazy, even as she's creating gadgets for him. Also check out the amazing set and costume design for Wakanda that managed to be both fanciful and respectful of African heritage and tradition.

This is another character I'd only vaguely heard of before Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Captain America: Civil War...and another I'm very glad I learned more about. No wonder this broke box office records in February, a month not known for its strong movie releases, and has become a touchstone with black audiences in particular. This is by far one of the better entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and certainly one of the best solo films. If you're a fan of the cast, the character, Marvel, or want to see a truly unique and diverse superhero film, this is one you absolutely must check out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Talk to the Animals

Began the day at work. It was still cloudy and cool when I came out this morning, if a bit humid. It did get a little busy around 2, but otherwise, it was quiet pretty much the entire day. I gathered carts and baskets, did the outside trash, returned items, and swept under the baskets of flowers sold outside when the head manager told the floral manager to move them around.

By the time I finished, the sun was out, and it was much hotter (and still humid). I grabbed milk and headed home. Worked on writing for a while with a fan going. Lando and Wedge hitch up a wagon and help get Leia and the Ewoks to Solo Castle. The Castle is in the more expensive part of town. The streets are filled with performers and actors and musicians...including Ahsoka and the Ghost crew, who are putting on a show for the crowds in the castle's court.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had some of the leftovers from yesterday while watching a couple of episodes on the first disc of Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That. I skipped some episodes that I'd already seen on other collections, including "No Night Today" and "The Last Chocolate," but I did do most of them.

"Jumping on the Moon" introduces the kids to Astronaut Audrey, who teaches them about gravity on a trip to the moon's surface. They have "Fun in the Sun" with a hippo who shows them how to stay cool on a hot day. Dr. Twiggles, the tree scientist, teaches the kids how rubber is made and how it makes their ball "Bounce." The Cat shows the kids a real surprise in "Inside Out" when he reveals what makes a jumping bean move - moth larvae trying to find a shady spot.

Played some Lego Indiana Jones after dinner. Realized that I skipped the last level of Raiders, "Opening the Ark." Oops! And I ended up starting the round over after I opened a door without having to mess around with the puzzles and missed the parcel and several pieces. Also did the second Last Crusade round that has you rescuing Professor Jones. Finally got 9 pieces and the parcels from each.

Finished the night online with more Cat in the Hat. The Cat and the kids learn about the ears of various animals while trying to hear a certain sound in "Hear Here." "Timmy Tippy Toes" is a klipspringer - a mountain goat who is an expert climber. He shows the kids and the Cat how he climbs up rocky cliffs. They're "Tongue Tied" when they see what the tongues of different animals can do. The Cat takes the kids to "Meet the Beetles" after someone snitches from their cookie jar. Each beetle has their own way of scaring off intruders. Matilda and Marion the Manatees teach the kids how to swim like they do in "Mermaids and Manatees." They discover "How Cool is Coral" when they help a confused tang fish find his way home, not unlike Dory in her movie. Three different Australian animals show the kids how mothers carry their "Babies." The Peregrin Falcon is "Fast," especially when he dives. He shows the kids how this helps him get dinner.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Something Even Better

Started off a cloudy, cool day with Memorial Day material from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. Since Memorial Day began as a holiday honoring those who died in the Civil War, the material all revolved around that time. The one story, Light Bread and Apple Butter, revolves around a Union soldier who helps a woman and her children who kindly let him take apples from their orchard. Everything else was poetry, like Barbara Friechie or The Blue and the Grey.

Watched a Three Stooges short that continued the Civil War theme as I had a quick breakfast. They're Union spies in "Uncivil Warriors" who are recruited to find out what a certain Confederate general has planned for the Union army...but they would really rather flirt with his pretty daughter and her friends.

Dashed out at 9, hoping to still make the 9:07. First of all, I forgot the schedule. Second, I also forgot that today was a holiday. The bus came at 9:09, but I was still late. I gave up waiting around 9:20 and went for a walk down to Dunkin' Donuts instead. It was still pretty chilly at that point, about 60 and windy. I ordered a vanilla chai and an apple-filled donut. The chai was too sweet and not spicy enough, but the donut was pretty good. I enjoyed my Memorial Day treat while watching people pick up their coffees.

Finally got on the bus at quarter after 10. It was busy but not full, and there was little traffic. I hopped off across from the Super Wal-Mart in Somerdale in a little under 15 minutes. Once again hurried down the road, this time to the Cinemark Theater in the small shopping center behind the Wal-Mart to catch the 10:30 showing of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

For a movie that people have claimed is a flop, the third Solo showing of the day was packed to capacity. I got in during the previews and gave up trying to find my seat after a few minutes of climbing around raised feet. (The Cinemark is relatively new and has recliner seats.) Finally plopped down in the fourth row after it turned out that a woman and her son had the seat I picked originally.

Thankfully, things picked up from there. I'm not going to reveal plot points in this entry because of spoilers, but I absolutely adored Solo: A Star Wars Story. While I didn't like it as much as Last Jedi or Force Awakens, it was a heck of a lot more fun than the dour and confusing Rogue One. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover were pitch-perfect as a young Han and Lando, and the guy playing Chewie was awesome. I liked Woody Harrelson as Han's mentor Beckett and Emilia Clarke as his first love Qi'ra, too. The cameo appearance by Qi'ra's real boss in the finale was a flat-out shock. All I wanted from this movie was a fun adventure with Han flying the Kessel Run and cheating at cards with Lando, and I got that and more.

Not that the movie doesn't have its problems. Three of its best characters are knocked off after ten minutes of screen time each in the beginning and middle of the movie. I really would have liked to have seen more of them. Interesting that most critics complained that the beginning was too slow. I thought the first half of the film, up through the Kessel Run, was far more compelling than the finale. Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) was a fairly dull villain, and the movie's end was tad anti-climatic. It also has the same problem as all Star Wars films of being at least 20 minutes too long.

I'm going to say that the current low box-office has less to do with the movie itself and more with intense competition from Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War. Plus, while I'd be happy with Star Wars content every month for the rest of my life, between the fuss over Last Jedi and the fuss over this, a lot of people may be tired of hearing about this franchise at the moment. As for the "We didn't want this!" whining, I keep thinking of what Uncle Fred said at the end of Arthur's Perfect Christmas: "Sometimes, the things we hope for aren't the things we get. We get something even better."

I wouldn't be surprised if Last Jedi and Solo get reevaluated somewhere down the line after the dust has settled, Episode 9 comes out, and we have a better understanding of where they stand in the scheme of things. For now, if you're a Star Wars fan with an open mind about the characters and where they came from and are just looking to have a good time, disregard the reviews and check this one out.

It was past 1 when I finally rolled out. Made short runs to Game Stop and Wal-Mart, hoping to find that elusive Kylo Ren/Rey set. No luck in either place. Wal-Mart didn't have much in the way of Star Wars merchandise. Game Stop did have some Forces of Destiny dolls, but only the Empire Leia, Force Awakens Rey, and Chewbacca.

Headed over to Pizza Hut for lunch. There's a Taco Bell and a Pizza Hut on the White Horse Pike in front of Wal-Mart. I haven't been to Pizza Hut since the one in Deptford shut down a couple of years ago. This one looked like the same brown 70's building with the peaked roofs on the outside. The inside was fairly stark, with plain brick walls and metal-and vinyl booths. The food was fairly stripped-down as well. I ordered the 3 for 6 lunch deal. Got a rather small personal pan pizza, three huge bread sticks, and a salad from the salad bar. The pizza was doughy but otherwise not very good, with very little cheese. The bread sticks, on the other hand, were amazing, crunchy and savory and seasoned just right.

Picked up the bus around 2:20 in front of Taco Bell. As soon as I got in, I grabbed my clothes and went right back out. I wasn't going to have the time to do laundry later in the week. I'm a bit surprised they weren't busier. There were several people there, but it could have been worse on a holiday. I washed my clothes, worked on story notes, and ignored soap operas.

After I put everything away, I headed out again, this time to Dad and Jodie's. The party was in full swing when I arrived around quarter of 5. My nephew Khai and a couple of his buddies had just been shooed out of the pool to eat dinner.

Jodie had a huge spread. In addition to the tender ribs and steak she mentioned yesterday and the hot dogs and burgers and macaroni salad and potato salad, there was cucumber-sour cream salad, another pasta salad with olives and tri-color noodles, asparagus with garlic, baked beans, two huge bowls of fruit, and a green salad. Jodie had picked up chocolate Enterman's donuts and Hostess baseball-themed cupcakes for dessert. (I love that the chocolate cupcakes were called "Night Games.") I had the fruit, a little steak, ribs, asparagus, and two cupcakes and a donut later.

The kids went back in the pool after they ate, but it was too cold for me to join them. While it was warmer than yesterday, probably in the mid-70's, it still wasn't warm enough for swimming. Some of the kids had blue lips and were shivering when they got out! They warmed up sucking nectar from honeysuckles and playing with Minecraft toys on the grass. Little Miss Finley was happier watching the water fall in Dad's little stone flower planter. I chatted with Emily and a couple of her friends for a while before heading home with a bag of leftover fruit and salads from Jodie.

Played Lego Indiana Jones after I got in. While neither "Free the Slaves" nor "Battle at the Bridge" took very long, they were both a lot more complicated than they looked. I missed two pieces on the first that I couldn't find during the mine cart chase and one in the latter that I missed because I couldn't out-run the rushing water. Moved onto Last Crusade for "Hunt for Sir Richard." That round took so long, I ended it before I got the last piece or True Adventurer.

Ended the night with a few more war-related cartoons. Donald became Disney's number-one short subjects star in the early 40's. His brash personality suited the era far more than good-natured Goofy or laid-back Mickey. It was probably inevitable that he'd make the most war shorts of any character.

"Donald Gets Drafted" kicks things off with him jumping into the army after being swayed by the glamour of the recruiting posters. What he gets is orders from Sargent Pete to stand still, even on an ant hill. He wants to fly in "Sky Trooper," but fails the test...and when he does finally make it into the air, he and Pete both end up seriously regretting it. He's "The Vanishing Private" after finding a new invisibility paint and using his discovery to torment Pete. "Der Fuhrer's Face" takes a left turn into seriously strange territory when Donald finds himself in a surreal Nazi nightmare. "Commando Duck" is sent into Japan to contact and, wash...out the enemy.

Superman also fought the Axis in several Famous Studios shorts. "Eleventh Hour" is a mature, shadowy story of Superman fighting off the Japanese while Clark and Lois are stationed in Tokyo. A beautiful "Secret Agent" has plans that must get to Washington quickly. Superman does everything he can to protect her.

And here's hoping that you had just as much fun as I did this Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Anything Goes

I awoke to a heavy shower around 9:30. By the time I was finishing my journal entry at quarter of 11, the rain was gone, but it remained cloudy, damp, and cool. Made Banana Pancakes for breakfast while listening to patriotic-themed records. Yankee Doodle Mickey features a very young Molly Ringwauld and the Disney characters and chorus performing American standards. My favorites include the chorus' rousing rendition of "The Liberty Tree" from the Disney version of Johnny Tremain and the Armed Services Medley with Mickey representing the Air Force and Marines, Goofy the Army, and of course, Donald representing the Navy. Also did the first side of the two-disc Reader's Digest set America the Beautiful, a collection of all-American classical pieces and instrumental numbers put out in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.

Worked on writing for an hour after breakfast. Wedge and his boys offer to give Leia a ride to Solo Castle while the others start a brawl to distract the soldiers and Unkar Plutt and his men. Wicket the Ewok tugs on Leia's trouser leg. He, his clan, and Cyril and Artello want to help, too. Wedge agrees to take Leia, the servants, and some of the Ewoks with them to help defend her in the castle.

Got off at 12:30, then dressed and headed to work. Work was surprisingly still not as busy as I thought it would be. It was steady, but not as bad as it usually is on a Sunday or a holiday weekend. Either everyone was avoiding the continually humid and dreary day, or they'd all gone to the Shore. (If they did, they faced even worse weather than we did here. The Shore got some nasty thunderstorms and pretty bad flooding.) I did get stuck in the registers at one point about 40 minutes before break. Otherwise, I was mostly gathering carts, cleaning the bathrooms, and doing returns.

Jodie called me when I was writing and invited me over for dinner tonight and tomorrow. I brought a t-shirt to work with me to change into, then rode right to Dad and Jodie's house from there. Apparently, most people were coming tomorrow night. It was just Dad, Jodie, Jesse, Dana, and me enjoying cheeseburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and macaroni salad while watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on the Paramount Network with Dad. (Evidently, Paramount is having a Memorial Day Weekend Indiana Jones marathon.)

Stayed with Indy, this time in Lego form, when I got home. "The Temple of Kali" and "Free the Slaves" were far easier in Free Play than they had been in Story Mode. Once again, it turns out I'd already gotten half the pieces in both. The only problem I had was getting the parcel in "Free the Slaves." You have to whip it across the ledges along with the lift piece. Doing the lift piece was enough of a pain, but you have to get the parcel onto the lift and then into the mailbox, too.

Oh, and Princess Leia can be found in "Free the Slaves." She's actually on a ledge under the slave pen, which has to be opened by one of the bazooka troopers or someone with explosives.

Moved to the live-action Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as I went online. After he picks up spoiled singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and his kid buddy Short Round (Key Hu Quan) during a tussle in a nightclub in Shanghai, Indy (Harrison Ford) and the others end up in a destitute village in India. The villagers' children and their magical "Shankara Stone" were stolen by the Thuggee cult, who want to use them to drive out the village and take over the world. Indy and the others travel to Pangkok Palace, where a new young maharajah has taken control. There's a lot more going on underneath that palace than it seems...and Indy now has to find those stones and free the slave kids, before the evil cult tries to get their hands on their minds and hearts.

This was my first Indiana Jones movie. It was one of the first movies we ever recorded, I believe around 1986-1987. I loved it as a kid Short Round's age, but I have a lot more problems with it now. I actually like Shorty, but Willie is annoying, whiny, and a bit useless. There's also the Indian stereotypes, which were troublesome in the 80's and are probably just in bad taste nowadays. On the other hand, there's several iconic scenes, including the opening "Anything Goes" musical number, the mine train ride, and the finale on the bridge, that are as good as anything in the series.

If you love the Indiana Jones series, check this one out, too...but I recommend you come here after you've seen either Raiders or Last Crusade, both of which are better introductions to Indy than this one.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Adventures on a Holiday Weekend

It was cool enough this morning for me to make Raspberry Banana Muffins for lunch this week after breakfast. Watched the Looney Tunes wartime shorts on Disc 2 of the Golden Collection Vol 6 as I baked. Termite Terrace seems to have put out three types of shorts during World War II - sketch comedies parodying life in the barracks and on the home front, allegories about how the US got into the war and planned on winning it, and character shorts featuring either the regular Toons or a one-off. My favorite of the revues is "Weekly Reporter," which depicts home front life in the cities and suburbs. (I love the woman who fixes an entire factory with her one bobby pin.) "The Ducknators," which uses farmyard ducks, geese, and doves to depict the Axis' rise to power, is the best of the allegories.

Headed out to work shortly after the muffins were out of the oven. Work was busier than yesterday, but it still wasn't overwhelming, or even as bad as I thought it would be. Shelved loose items for the first hour and a half, then spent most of the rest of the day outside doing carts. Whew! It was hot by 11, in the upper 80's and insufferably humid for May, but there was only one other guy outside doing carts, and he needed help.

I had a few things that I needed after work that I forgot on Friday. They finally got the small cans of tomato sauce in that you can get for free with a Monopoly coupon. I got one of the last ones on the shelf. Restocked brown sugar and mouthwash. Used another Monopoly coupon to get the new Peppridge Farm Whole Wheat Goldfish Graham Crackers cheap. Had a dollar cookie pack and a bottle of orange sparkling water for a snack.

I was so sweaty when I got home, I went straight in the shower. Did some writing for a while after I got out. Leia manages to attack Unkar Plutt, but he's ready to have her arrested for wrecking his property. The others use him as a "distraction" to keep the guards at bay while Leia gets to Solo Castle. Unfortunately, the guards realize that Luke is a unicorn...the very unicorn that Palpatine has ordered to be brought to him. Two of them manage to capture Luke before Leia can get to them. She's about to go after him, but she has help...

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Had turkey bacon and a spring salad for dinner while watching the remaining Looney Tunes shorts on the disc, plus three more from Disc 4 of Vol 3. Bugs becomes "Super Rabbit" after being given a carrot that bestows him with strength and flight. A cowboy who hates rabbits chases him, until he claims he's going to become a real hero - a marine officer. Daffy just can't shake that Little Man from the Draft Board in "Draftee Daffy."

My favorite of the wartime character shorts is "Falling Hare." For once, Bugs goes up against an antagonist who gives as good as they get when he discovers a gremlin sabotaging planes. He tries to get rid of the little guy, but this critter is no dope and manages to outsmart him every time.

Moved on to Lego Indiana Jones after dinner. Neither "Shanghai Showdown" nor "Pangkok Secrets" proved to be difficult in Free Play mode. I'd already gotten most of the pieces for "Pangkok" in the regular store mode anyway. I just needed to get two pieces that could only be found by characters with a certain tool or ability and the parcel. (Which took forever. I couldn't get Elsa to jump off the barrel in the right way, and then I couldn't find the Thuggee statue that hid the mailbox.) Completed "Pangkok"; got all but one piece on "Shanghai."

Finished the night with The Mummy Returns. Ten years after the original movie took place, Evie (Rachel Weiz) and Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraiser) now have a son, Alex (Freddie Boath). They're still searching for lost Egyptian treasures, this time in the ancient city of Thebes. Alex finds a bracelet that attaches itself to him when they're at home in London. The boy has a vision of the oasis that is the final resting place of the Scorpion King (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). If they don't get the boy and the bracelet to the oasis in a week, he'll die. And they're not the only ones interested in the Scorpion King and his army. A cult grabs Evie and resurrects Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) from the previous film, hoping that he'll kill the King and take over his army. The reincarnation of his lover from Egypt (Patricia Velesquez) is a member of the cult, hoping to keep him alive this time. The cult kidnaps Alex, hoping to use the bracelet to take over the world. His parents follow in their friend Izzy's (Shaun Parkes) dirigible. Evie has been having visions of a possible past life. Rick thinks it's nonsense, but Evie wonders if there's a reason she was able to resurrect the Mummy before, and that she and Rick ended up together. They use the visions to find their son...and to keep the cult from bringing back a second supernatural Egyptian menace.

I actually ended up liking this a bit more than the first. The family angle is unique, Evie gets more in on the action, and the Scorpion King, for as little screen time as he has, is a far more interesting villain than Imhotep. Some of the CGI effects haven't dated as well, though, including the rather "uncanny valley" Scorpion King in the finale.

While it wasn't quite as big of a hit as the original, it did well enough during the summer of 2001 to spawn a cartoon, a prequel focusing on the Scorpion King, and a belated sequel in 2008. I suspect that the first two films will be more than enough for all but the most ardent Rock fans. If you love the cast, supernatural adventures, or the original film, this one is equally worth checking out.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Heroes and Villains

I slept in a little bit and ended up spending most of the morning online and doing some writing. Leia has released Wicket. Chewie frees Luke and lets him free a few more Ewoks. Unkar Plutt isn't happy about that at all...and his goons are even less-so. Plutt gets his hands on Leia's sword and is threatening to sell it when her foot ends up in his sensitive man parts. His men are attacked by two stormtroopers who turn out to be Cassian Andor and Bodhi Rook, who help Leia run them off.

Broke at 1 for lunch, then headed off to work. My first day back was absolutely no trouble at all. In fact, it was pretty much dead the entire evening. For one thing, the weather was too nice for a lot of heavy shopping, still sunny, breezy, and in the mid-80's. A lot of people may have headed down to the Shore for the weekend. I did the outside trash, rounded up carts, organized the gift card kiosk, and bagged.

Got this week's schedule at work. In good news, far more hours than I have been getting will be a huge help with my paycheck. In surprising news, I have Memorial Day off (along with Wednesday for a dentist's appointment). That'll be the perfect day to see Solo: A Star Wars Story, since most other places that I usually go to on a Monday will be closed. My only complaint is a 7-hour day on Tuesday.

Made a Pasta Salad with turkey bacon and asparagus for dinner when I got home. Finished out Darth Maul Returns, which I'd been watching on and off all day. As far as I can tell, this is four episodes of the fourth season combined to make a "movie." "Massacre" has Asaji Ventress returning to Darthomir, home of the witches the Nightsisters. She's about to rejoin them when Grevious shows up and kills the witches...though not the one who is using a voodoo doll to try to kill Dooku. Ventress becomes a "Bounty" hunter in the next episode, joining Bossk, Dengar, and a young Boba Fett in a delivery mission. Meanwhile, Savage Oppress searches for his lost brother Darth Maul in "Brothers." He's not in great shape when he does find them, ranting and raving about revenge. His mother repairs his fractured mind, allowing Maul to seek his "Revenge" on Obi-Wan. But Obi has some surprising help in the form of the last woman in the galaxy he expected to be on his side.

And...yeah, I might have to look up the full season sets. I've never seen Star Wars media before that focused fully on the villains. Not only was it interesting to see how Darth Maul was brought back to life, but Ventress is one of the series' stronger female characters. This is also my second encounter with Dathormir and the Nightsisters after they were first introduced in The Courtship of Princess Leia, and it was cool to learn more about their culture and world.

Did more Free Play on Lego Indiana Jones after dinner. "The Well of Souls" was just as complicated with more characters...and "Pursuing the Ark" was even harder. It took me forever to haul the "parcel" with the extra up to the mail box in "Pursuing." You're supposed to hop it up to a ridge, but that takes forever when you're carrying something. Not to mention, you only have a certain amount of time before the stone stairs disappear. At the very least, I did manage to get both parcels and all but one piece in each round.

Finished out the night with the 1999 The Mummy. Unlike last year's Dark Universe Mummy, this one is set in the 1920's. Siblings Johnathan (John Hannah) and Evie Carnahan (Rachel Weiz) are searching for the Egyptian City of the Dead. Johnathan stole a map and box off American rogue Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraiser). O'Connell agrees to help them find the city if they spring him from jail. At the city, they encounter another group of treasure-hunters, lead by Rick's friend Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor). Evie wants to find the golden Book of the Living to prove that she can be a good Egyptologist to her condescending boss. They dig up a statue of Egyptian god Anubis instead. Beni's group does manage to find the Book of the Dead, as well as ornamental jars containing the remains of the mistress of a pharoah. When Evie reads from the book, she accidentally unleashes the spirit of a vengeful mummy (Arnold Vosloo), who will stop at nothing to get his love back...including murdering the members of the American treasure hunting expedition and kidnapping Evie as a sacrifice.

It's still pretty icky, but I think I enjoyed this one a bit more now that I know it's more of a horror film than the Indiana Jones movies. Fraser and Weiz have good chemistry as the clumsy librarian and Han Solo-esque adventurer; Vosloo's a decent mummy. The special effects are still pretty decent, including the ten plagues.

This was a surprise hit in 1999, and while it wasn't wildly popular with critics, many people who grew up in the late 90's-early 2000's have fond memories of it. It's still a lot of fun if you like Indiana Jones-style adventures or supernatural-themed horror.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sunny Afternoon

Lauren and I spent her last couple of hours in New Jersey playing one more Lego Indiana Jones Last Crusade round. "Trouble In the Sky" starts in the zeppelin that Indy and Professor Jones take out of Germany, but that doesn't last long. It's pretty easy to beat, once you figure out how to throw things at the Nazi officer. The second segment is a more typical chase-and-build...but a cog we needed got stuck in the clock after we rebuilt it, and we had to start over. Thankfully, things went better after that. We had fewer problems figuring out how to set off the birds, once we got over the steps on the rocks.

Lauren hauled her heavy purple suitcase and backpack downstairs around quarter after 11. It was a good thing we got down early, because Dad was a few minutes early, too. At any rate, we had no problems getting to the Cherry Hill Train Platform. Let Lauren out there, gave her a hug, and returned to Oaklyn with Dad. He needed to stop at CVS briefly to pick up a new medication that may help him eat better. I checked out a few magazines on the new Han Solo movie.

(Incidentally, as far as I can tell, Lauren had no problems anywhere. Last time she texted me was around 9:30, as she was heading home with her folks. The problems with the King of Prussia Mall trip aside, I had a great time with her. In fact, I think this is one of our better trips in my neck of the wood. I'm going to hold off visiting her and her parents in Pittsfield until mid-September. She wants to see the New England State Exposition - their collective state fair - and I need more time to save money for the trip.)

I didn't even go back inside when Dad dropped me off. I just hopped on my bike and went to run errands. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. The only people who were there were two librarians who were sorting materials donated for their Library Book Sale next month. I stuck to organizing DVDs. Took out the first two Mummy movies with Brendan Fraiser and two random collections of the CGI Star Wars: The Clone Wars show. I've been thinking of buying the series sets after I loved Star Wars Rebels. Given that I like the prequels but for the most part don't love them, I thought I'd try a taste of the show before I went all in on the pricey full sets.

I actually saw the first Mummy film in the theater when it debuted in 1999...and while I didn't hate it, it really kind of freaked me out then. It was far more of a horror film than I was ready for. I'm hoping I can deal with it a bit better now.

Since I was closer to Nicholson Road than the Black Horse Pike, I took that way to the Acme. It was a lovely day for a ride, even nicer than yesterday. The sun was shining, the breezes were blowing, and it was hot, probably in the mid-80's, without being overly humid.

I had a little bit of grocery shopping to do. Lauren and I drank all my tea between the two of us; the Boston Mint & Green Tea was on clearance. Restocked strawberries, bananas, skim milk, cereal, honey, and turkey bacon. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish were on sale, and I had a coupon from the Monopoly game. Decided I'd try their new whole wheat pretzels as a snack this week.

Went in the back to get my schedule for the last two days of the week. I work late in the afternoon tomorrow and early afternoon on Saturday. While I am disappointed that I didn't get a few more hours and that I'll have to miss the May Fair in Collingswood, I'll also get some laundry and writing done.

I'd been trying to figure out what to do about lunch when I heard laughter in the back lounge room and saw party decorations. Turns out there was a huge spread out for one of the grocery managers, who's retiring this week. I had two Italian mini-hoagies, three slices of cake (chocolate with chocolate frosting, chocolate with vanilla frosting, and butter with cherry topping), jam cookies, and cole slaw.

Listened to my new Cinderella Peter Pan record as I put things away and cleaned up from Lauren's visit when I got home. This is pretty much the same thing as my Peter Pan Alice In Wonderland set, a retelling of the Charles Perrault version of the most famous fairy tale in the world. I kind of liked Alice better. They had more fun with the unique characters than with the bland prince and stepsisters here.

I had one more errand to run. I'd debated staying at home for the rest of the afternoon, but it was just too nice to hang around inside all day. This time, I went across Newton Lake Park to Westmont. The park was even prettier than it was yesterday, all dappled light on the lake and fresh breezes ruffling the big green leaves on the trees. I was surprised it wasn't busier. I saw a few families gathered around the playground, but not too many other people.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't much busier than the Oaklyn Library had been. It's just too beautiful for people to hang around in libraries. I mainly shelved stacks of DVDs and organized the kids' titles. Only took out one, but it's a doozy - the second season set for The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About That. I enjoyed the full season set I found there last year.

After a brief stop at Dollar Tree for a Pepsi, I rode straight home. It was past 4 at that point, and the traffic was getting worse on Cuthbert and the White Horse Pike. Worked on writing for a little while. Leia confronts Unkar Plutt, who has several Ewoks in cages in the town market. She doesn't like the poor creatures being treated as pets. He's no kinder to her than he would be thirty years later to a certain young scavenger, refusing to release them. She opens the nearest cage and calms the Ewok it contains, little Wicket. Chewbacca sees Plutt send some of his men to attack her, and goes to Luke to get help...

Broke for dinner at 7. Ran the first two Clone Wars episodes on the Galaxy Divided set, which also happens to be the first two episodes of the series (and would be made into levels on Lego Clone Wars as well). Yoda and several of his clones face an "Ambush" at a planet that may be willing to become a base for the Republic Army. Determined to see the planet under Separtist rule, Sith warrior Asaji Ventress sends her droids to take them down, then faces off against Yoda himself. Yoda proves that even a goofy, short old alien can have amazing reflexes, enough to take down a younger challenger and a tank.

Jedi Master Plo Koon and his clones witness an attack by General Grievious' powerful new starship the Malevolence in "Rising Malevolence," but Grievious wants no survivors and attempts to shoot them down. Anakin and Ahsoka are supposed to be heading to the Jedi Council for a meeting, but Ahsoka knows her old master Koon is alive and insists on finding him.

Played Lego Indiana Jones for a couple of hours after having scrambled eggs with leftover tomato, black bean dip, and asparagus for dinner. Instead of staying with the game Lauren and I had been working on, I returned to my original game from last year to see what I could find in Free Play. Thanks to that guide I found a few months ago, I did really well. Found all but one "artifact" piece on the first two Raiders rounds and completely finished the Cairo level, pieces and True Adventurer.

You have to find five Star Wars characters hidden in different rounds throughout the game to unlock Han Solo as a playable character (just like you can unlock Indy in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga). Was surprised to run into Threepio in a hidden cave with an artifact piece in the first Raiders round. Lauren and I saw Luke Skywalker stuck in the cave in the second round, but you can't release him until you get someone who can shoot or break glass in Free Play. Chewbacca is hanging out in a cafe hidden behind a hieroglyphic-coded wall in the third round.

Finished out the night online with the remaining two Clone Wars episodes. "Shadow of Malevolence" continues from the previous episode as Plo Koon, Anakin, and Ahsoka lead an attack on Grevious' weapon-ship. Padme and C-3PO are taken prisoner as "Destroy the Malevolence" begins...and now Anakin not only has to finish blowing up Grevious' pride and joy, but rescue his secret wife and her droid, too.

And that was the end of my vacation. I return to work tomorrow, but thankfully only for four hours late in the day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Good Day Sunshine

I stumbled out of bed around 5 to go to the bathroom, then went back to sleep. When I was finally up for good, it was quarter of 10. The sun was shining, my apartment was warmer, and there was a wonderful breeze drifting in through my window.

Lauren didn't get up until past 10:30. While she got organized and I had breakfast, I ran the rest of the Classic Cartoon Favorites: Starring Chip & Dale DVD. Chip is a "Chicken in the Rough" when he tries to take a hen's egg, thinking it's a big nut, and she thinks he's her chick. "Chip & Dale" gave the chipmunks their names in a tale that had them rescuing their log home from Donald, who wants to use it to warm his cabin. It's "Food for Feudin'" when the chipmunks have to retrieve their nuts from Pluto's doghouse. They're "Working for Peanuts" after they discover that Donald's charge Dolores the Elephant gets the tasty legume as part of her regular food in the zoo. Donald is "Out on a Limb" when he chases the chipmunks while pruning a tree. "Three for Breakfast" has the duo trying to steal Donald's pancakes. They have to save their home from Donald again, this time from being knocked down by his steam shovel, in "Dragon Around."

It was noon before we finally headed out to Collingswood. The weather was absolutely amazing, especially compared to yesterday. The view of Newton Lake Park as we passed over the bridge between Oaklyn and Collingswood was incredible. The lake sparkled; the green trees rustled in the breeze. We even ran into one of my co-workers, a nice lady who works in the deli department, and her husband on the bridge. She apparently had today off as well, and since it was so nice, talked her hubby into a walk in the park.

We had lunch at the Pop Shop. We were originally going to walk further up the White Horse Pike to Haddon Heights and Barrington, but first of all, after hiking around two malls in two days, we weren't up to that long of a stroll. Second, Lauren wanted to eat at the Pop Shop, and I like them, too. They were surprisingly quiet for them for lunch, with only a few families with young children enjoying their meal.

Lauren had a tuna wrap she said tasted a lot like a fish taco and a Creamsicle ice cream float (orange soda with vanilla ice cream). I had a Cherry Coke Float and a waffle with crushed pineapple and a mountain of whipped cream. Other than I wish the guy had added more pineapple, it was delicious. The waffle was much better than the one I had on New Year's Day 2015, just tender enough.

Strolled down Haddon Avenue to check out a few stores in Westmont we enjoyed visiting on Saturday. Phildelity Records was our first stop. Lauren grabbed three more CDs. I picked up the Peter Pan book-and-record version of Cinderella and the original 2006 Disney Movie Club release of Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. She bought a Shirley Temple soda at Rocket Fizz (and later said it was delicious). I found a nice blue and yellow floral sleep shirt and a pizza-themed cozy mystery novel at Good Samaritan Thrift Shop. Lauren's finds included two shorts for her dad and a blue blouse for her.

We cut through Newton Lake Park on the way home, on Lauren's suggestion. It was hot, in the lower 80's, and the shady park was nice and cool. It was also surprisingly quiet. There wasn't a soul on the path between the lake and the houses on Bettlewood Avenue. The kids must have just been getting out of school. Steep stone steps took us up to East Clinton Avenue. We strolled down the street, right to the end of the block with The House of Fun and Comicrypt.

The House of Fun was still pretty quiet; the manager and his people were going through boxes of loose vintage action figures that were all over the floor. Lauren found another vintage Roddy Piper figure, this one painted wearing jeans, with far more articulation than the other Roddys she's found on this trip. Comicrypt was busier, with several collectors also looking around. She bought another stack of older titles on a really good sale. I settled for scratching the black and white kitty between his ears at Comicrypt.

It was almost 5 at that point, and the traffic was getting worse on the White Horse Pike. It was time to head home. When we got in, we put everything away, then went right into playing Lego Indiana Jones. Did the first three rounds in Last Crusade. The round that takes you through the library and the catacombs and ends with bashing the Brotherhood member in a boat wasn't too hard...but the second round in the castle and the third that had Indy and Professor Jones escaping across Germany involves a lot of blowing things up (including yourself) with a bazooka that takes a while to figure out.

Put on Ducktales the Movie while we ate leftovers and green salads with tomato wedges and turkey pepperoni for dinner. Scrooge McDuck (Alan Young), Launchpad McQuack (Terrance McGovern) and the kids are searching for the lost treasure of Kali Baba, but they lose it when they're attacked by evil sorcerer Merlock (Christopher Lloyd). He's searching for a lamp with a wish-granting genie (Rip Taylor) inside. Scrooge gave the lamp to little Webby (Russi Taylor) to play with. When the kids discover the genie, they treat him like one of the gang and mostly make goofy wishes, like making Webby's toys come to life or creating the world's biggest ice cream sundae. Scrooge still has treasure on the brain and orders Genie to make Kali Baba's fortune appear....which attracts not only Merlock, but the treacherous thief Dijon (Richard Libertini) as well. He wishes for Uncle Scrooge's fortune. Scrooge and his household fights back, even after Merlock figures out what Dijon is up to. Merlock may have magic, but Scrooge knows every inch of his money bin. It's up to him to prove that having someone to lean on is one of the most important things anyone can wish for.

If you're a fan of the original Ducktales show or the classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics the show was based on, this is worth checking out. Critics were hard on it at when it came out in the early 90's, and while it doesn't compare favorably to other Disney movies from the time and was a flop when it first came out, it's a fun ride in it's own right.

Ended the night with another treasure-hunting adventure, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. After a short opening segment that introduces Indy as a young boy (River Phoenix), we cut ahead to 1939. The adult Indy (Harrison Ford) is tasked with finding his missing father Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery), a scholar of medieval literature who vanished while searching for the Holy Grail. The trip first takes him and museum owner Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) to Venice, where they meet the lovely Dr. Elsa Schinder (Alison Doody) and are chased by a secret society that protects the Grail from harm. After they win their trust, the two head to a castle in Austria where Professor Jones is supposed to be held. Indy does find his father...but he also learn that Dr. Schinder is not what she seems. Now the father and son have to outwit the Nazis and find the Grail's final resting place, all as they try to mend their long-fractured relationship.

This is by far my favorite of the four Indiana Jones movies. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford play off each other so beautifully as father and son, they make the film a treat to watch. Doody is good as the treacherous Elsa, too. I'm not the only one who loved this; it was the biggest hit of 1989, surpassing even the iconic Tim Burton Batman at the box office that year. I was dying to see it then, and was pretty upset when I never got to it. (Dad did buy the video as soon as it came out, though.)

Today was our last full day together. I called Dad and Jodie after we got in. Lauren will be heading to the train station at 11:30. I'll probably spend the rest of the day writing and running errands.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Uptown Girls

Lauren and I started out around 9:30 this morning, a bit earlier than we have been. It was cloudy, cool, and damp when we headed to Collingswood to pick up the train into Philadelphia. The PATCO was busy but not full, and we rolled into Philadelphia around 10.

After getting turned around a little, we made our way down 13th Street to Market to pick up the bus to the King of Prussia Mall. There's two buses that go that way, 124 and 125. It was just starting to shower lightly as we hopped on the 125. The bus was half-full, and it being 11:25, we'd just missed the lunch traffic. By the time we arrived at Court section of the mall, it was pouring. We made a dash for the Macy's entrance.

The King of Prussia Mall is huge, the largest mall in the US...and it's very different from what I saw when I went there in September 2014. The Court is the newer section; it was apparently built in the 1980's and is currently anchored by Bloomingdale's and Macy's. We decided we'd check out Macy's later and have lunch first.

Walking around in the Court a bit, we found a nifty little cafeteria-style food court. Instead of the usual booths, there was one long counter with four different areas and one register to pay at. I went with your basic Philly Chicken Cheese Steak Hoagie and fries, which was one of the cheapest meals on the menu at $5.99. Lauren had a chicken wrap and salad for $8.99. We both had bottles of Bubbly sparkling water. (Lauren had lime, I had grapefruit.) Yum! The cheesesteak was perfect, with tasty sauteed onions and perfectly seasoned chicken. (I do wish the fries hadn't been so bland, though.)

By 1:30, the storm had turned into a monsoon. We hurried under the covered walkway that leads between the sections of the mall, heading for the Plaza. The Plaza apparently started in the 60's as an outdoor shopping center before being enclosed in the 80's, and it has all the fun stuff and the less-expensive stores. We peered at L.L Bean before going around the corner to Game Stop. I didn't see anything, but they were having a buy-one, get-one half price sale on Nintendo DS titles. Lauren picked up a few she was interested in.

As we were exiting, I spied a store called Uncanny! across the way that had huge superheroes in the window. Turns out it sold comics, role-playing games, toys, and geek-related t-shirts and clothing. It was a really neat store. There were tables in the back for roll-players, a whole wall of t-shirts, and a couple of functioning vintage arcade games in the center of the store, including the Star Wars Arcade pod-racing game. I didn't get anything, but Lauren found some comics.

We had no luck the rest of the afternoon. Most of the stores in King of Prussia are expensive clothing or accessories shops that I couldn't afford and neither of us were remotely interested in. Their JC Penney closed last year, and we couldn't figure out how to get to the first level with the Build-a-Bear and the other Game Stop. (Oddly, they did still have the small Rite Aid in the Plaza.) The Macy's is also in the midst of remodeling. I couldn't find anything I liked, and Lauren had so many problems trying to find an employee to help her, we ultimately decided we'd check out the Macy's in Philly instead.

I got lost getting us out to the Transportation Center. I assumed they'd upgraded it, along with everything else. Nope. It was in the same place, tucked along a wall near what's now Irish department store Primark, as it was in 2014. We jumped on the first bus we found that went back to Philly. That was probably not smart, especially at 4 PM. The 124 was filled to capacity. There was barely any room for us to grab the metal poles on either side, never mind sit down. Thankfully, most everyone was getting off at one of the two train stations the bus stopped at. We were among the few people who went all the way to 13th Street.

Lauren wanted to check out the Philadelphia Macy's. I had to use the bathroom and deal with a...little accident. I wanted to replace my shorts after having to clean them in the bathroom, but I couldn't find anything I could afford. Lauren did a bit better, picking up a couple of shirts.

Thankfully, the rain had vanished by 6; the day had returned to just being cloudy, chilly, and damp. The train to Collingswood was busy, but not quite as full as the Septa bus was. We had no problems getting there or strolling straight home after we arrived.

I made Chicken Parmesan topped with pepperoni for dinner, along with pasta and steamed asparagus. We watched the first Police Academy movie while we ate. The title institution has just opened their doors to anyone who wants to be a cop, from spoiled rich girl Karen Thompson (Kim Catrall) to gun nut Eugene Tackleburry (David Graf) to the very massive florist Moses Hightower (Bubba Smith). Carey Mahoney (Steve Gutenberg) is only there because a friend recommended him to the program to stay out of jail. He keeps trying to get obnoxious Lieutenant Harris (G.W Bailey) to throw him out...until he falls for Thompson and starts to wonder if police work might not be so bad after all. He and Hightower are thrown out for misconduct...but before Mahoney can leave, a riot breaks out that gives all the new cadets a chance to show their stuff.

If you're a fan of the slightly squeakier later installments, you may be surprised with some of the ribauld humor on display here, including a lot of ogling naked girls and some profanity. Otherwise, this pretty much sets up the tone for the rest of the series - the cadets (with or without Gutenberg) play pranks on an obnoxious authority figure until a fight brings them together in the third act.

Highly recommended for fans of this series or the "slobs vs snobs/authority" comedies of the 1980's.

And incidentally, I'm inclined to agree with something Lauren said while we were waiting for the train to Collingswood. I'm glad we got to see the King of Prussia Mall once, but I don't think it's something we'll do again. It isn't worth the hassle with the overcrowded Septa buses to check out a few stores. I won't do it again on my own, either. From now on, we stay in the Philly Macy's when Lauren visits, and I stick to the local malls that have more interesting stores near-by.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday Monday

We awoke to an absolutely gorgeous morning. Sunshine, blue skies, fresh breezes, probably not more than the lower 70's at 9:30. I read in bed until Lauren was ready to get moving. Ran an episode of the first season of Sailor Moon while I ate breakfast and we both got organized. Usagi on vacation with her folks and her little brother Shingo in "The Legendary Lake Yokai: The Bond of Usagi's Family." A brainwashed Mamoru is sent to check out a monster rumored to live in a lake near a hot springs resort. He releases the monster...who promptly ignores him and tries to attack Usagi and her family instead. The other Guardians arrive to help get rid of her.

Headed out around 11 to catch the bus to the Moorestown Mall. Unfortunately, I misjudged how fast we could walk, and we didn't get to King's Highway in time. We explored the big CVS across the street briefly before finally catching a slightly late 12:37 bus. It wasn't full, and we were two of three people who went all the way to the mall.

As we did last year, we started with lunch at the Chick Fil 'A across the street. It was almost 1:30 by the time we got in, and it was still really busy. I ended up having a chicken sandwich with waffle fries and a very tasty frosted lemonade. Lauren had the chicken wrap with the waffle fries and an avocado ranch dressing that she said was really yummy.

We finally decided there wasn't anything else on that side of the street we couldn't find elsewhere and returned to the Moorestown Mall side to check out the Barnes and Noble. It's one of the largest Barnes and Nobles in our area, and the only one I know of to still sell music and movies. I settled for the novelization of Revenge of the Sith. While I'm not the biggest fan of the prequels, I did hear that the novel versions were quite good, filling in or expanding on points in the movies that weren't clear or elaborated on.

Since the Mall proper is right behind Barnes and Noble, we went there next. Neither of us found anything we wanted in Sears. I didn't have any luck in Boscov's, but she found a couple of shirts for work and a t-shirt. FYE (the last one in this area) was a mess; they'd mostly shoved their remaining DVDs and music in the back of the tiny store. The rest was given over to junk and t-shirts that even Lauren wasn't interested in. We peered at Toy Genius, admiring a realistic kid kitchen set with an ice dispenser that put out wooden "ice" blocks and a play grocery store register that had a belt that moved.

After Toy Genius, we headed back outside and to the very end of the Mall property to check out Old Navy. They were having a half-price sale on t-shirts and tank tops. Lauren picked up a couple of the latter. I found a really cool t-shirt in graduated stripes of coral pink, white, and blue.

By that point, it was past 6. We knew we weren't going to have the time for dinner at home, so we headed to the food court to grab a quick meal. Lauren got a salad from Saladworks. I bought a roast beef hoagie and baked chips from Subway. The food court was surprisingly quiet for dinner time. Maybe everyone was at the movies; the entrance to the Regal Cinema is right next to there.

Thankfully, not only did we manage to catch the 6:44, but there were no problems getting home. No traffic anywhere, not even Haddonfield or Cherry Hill. We stopped quickly at the big CVS on the corner of King's Highway and the White Horse Pike again to use the bathroom and for me to get money, then strolled home.

I hit the shower as soon as we got in. We chatted online while watching The Peanuts Movie. Poor Charlie Brown can't catch a break. He wants to impress that new Little Red Haired Girl, but everything he does, from attempting to join a dance contest to reading War & Peace for a book report, doesn't seem to work out. Meanwhile, his dog Snoopy is inspired by a runaway toy airplane to write a novel about him as a World War I flying ace who rescues a pretty poodle from the infamous Red Baron.

Blue Sky hit all the right marks with this one, from the use of the actual animation style of the comics in thought bubbles to Chuck's never-say die attitude. A must for fans of the Peanuts or someone looking for a good animated movie for younger kids.

Tomorrow, we're going to head further afield to the King of Prussia Mall.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pleasant Valley Sunday

I couldn't have been happier to awaken to blue skies, sunshine, and warmer temperatures. Lauren and I were up until quarter of 3 last night! I slept until around 9:30-10; Lauren didn't get up until nearly 11. I read in bed and wrote in my journal, then messed around on my laptop until she was up and moving.

Made us Berry Banana Silver Dollar Pancakes for breakfast. I had a banana that was so ripe, it was practically turning into a smoothie in its skin. Dumped that into the whole wheat batter with some of Lauren's raspberries. Yum! They came out very well, just sweet and tangy enough. Lauren enjoyed them, and I thought they were some of the better pancakes I've done in a while.

We headed out to get our laundry done shortly after 12. They were totally packed when we got in! We were lucky to get a washer and a dryer. We messed around with our phones and half-listened to Sunday shows and news on ABC. Good thing I didn't have a ton of clothes to wash anyway. The majority belonged to Lauren, who needed clothes for the rest of the week.

Action News had mentioned that there was a storm on it's way. Indeed, thick, dark clouds were building over the area, even as we hurried home. Fat drops were already falling as I dashed the last few steps to the house and up the steps. Lauren, who walks slower than me, didn't get as lucky. She was a bit wet when she hurried in. Thankfully, this time the rain ended almost as soon as it began, and it never returned. It was sunny or mostly sunny for the rest of the day.

Lauren and I put our clothes away, then relaxed for an hour and played Lego Indiana Jones. We started Temple of Doom in the infamous Club Obi-Wan, where Indy met Willie and got poisoned by a gangster looking for his ancestor's remains. You're supposed to toss diamonds to Lao Che's goons, but it can be hard to figure that out if you don't have a guide or check tips online. Short Round joins you on the streets of Shanghai, first to repair his car, then to fix the propellers on the plane that takes them all to India.

The sun was still out around 4, and it remained sunny, breezy, and much warmer. We figured we were fine to have a very late lunch-early dinner and run errands. We ate at Phillies Phatties, which was surprisingly busy for an odd hour. All the teens and older kids may have been watching the Phillies play the Cardinals (whom they lost rather badly to, 5-1). Lauren had two slices of pepperoni pizza with a bottle of Mountain Dew Baja Blast. I had a slice of broccoli and a slice of cheese with a can of Dr. Pepper featuring a Jurassic World T-Rex.

Next up was a quick stop at Dollar General. I was out of pads. We both got drinks. Lauren grabbed a Cherry Dr. Pepper. I got a Bai Brasilia Blueberry. (Not bad, although you can kind of taste the sweetener on this one; it's a bit harsher than the Coconut and Coconut-Lime.)

It was a beautiful day for a walk in Newton Lake Park. We strolled past the bridge and into the park itself. A gaggle of kids and their parents and guardians were throwing a football and running around on the playground. We sat on the swings; I was on until my sore thumb got tired, then went for a ride on the awesome roller slide. Lauren went shortly after. We watched the kids chase each other and laughed at their antics.

The rest of the park was almost as busy. Two little boys went fishing on the narrow bridge over the causeway. A grandfather and his grandson fished off the wider bridge on Bettlewood Avenue, between two parts of the park. We passed families out for walks with their children, kids riding their bikes and talking with friends, and families out for strolls with their dogs. I took Lauren up the hill to the Haddon Township Enviormental and Historical Center, avoiding the muddy ground as much as possible, and down Ormond Avenue to the White Horse Pike and into Oaklyn.

We were hoping that the line at Phillies Yummies wouldn't be as long when we got back. The only people there by quarter of 6 were three goofy college guys who couldn't decide what they wanted. They let us go first. Reversing what we had yesterday, I went with birthday cake ice cream, and Lauren had a root beer water ice. My ice cream wasn't bad, sweet with blue "icing" swirls, small cake bits, and lots of sprinkles. We sat at a picnic table and enjoyed our treat, watching the passers-by and listening to the college guys make bad jokes at each other.

Went back to Lego Indiana Jones when we got in. The trip to Pankot Palace is more complicated than the palace itself, which mostly involves breaking pieces and dealing with Thuggee members. The Temple of Doom itself has a lot of getting pieces up and down, blowing up slavers, and jumping onto barely-visible ledges that made the rounds a lot harder.

Ended the night doing something completely different for a late dinner-snack. I was wondering what to do with the turkey pepperoni I bought on Friday when I remembered Alton Brown's pocket pie episode. One of his filling suggestions was what amounted to home-made Tostinos - pocket pizza pies with pepperoni, sauce, cheese, and green onions. We gave the recipe our own touch by eliminating the onion and tearing the pepperoni into small bits to make it easier to load into the pie. I cut the rounds from the pre-made pie crust, did the egg wash, and loaded the sauce and cheese. Lauren tore the pepperoni and folded and docked the pies. Listened to my new WOR classic rock collection as I ate.

It was too hot to bake them, so I opted to pan-fry them. I did make a few a little too dark, but most of them came out just crispy enough. They made for a wonderful snack-meal with leftover farm market asparagus. We just shot the breeze for a half-hour after that, talking about our families and our interests, before going online.

Tomorrow is the first of two mall trips in a row, to the Moorestown Mall about 40 minutes away. Thankfully, it looks like it's going to be fine tomorrow, sunny and far warmer than it has been.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rainy Day Women

I slept a little later than I planned...and awoke to another downpour. I was up at 9; Lauren didn't roll out until 10. That may have been a good thing. The rain was starting to slow down by the time we headed out at quarter of 11. When we made it to Collingswood, it was down to a light shower.

Our first stop was the Farm Market. Between the late hour and the weather, it was the quietest I'd ever seen it. There was barely anyone there. It's still pretty early in the growing season, too. Some tables were even packing up to leave as we arrived. I did manage to pick up asparagus and a tomato for dinner next week.

We strolled down Lee Avenue to Haddon Avenue to check out some of the stores. Started at Frugli Consignment, which is on the next block over from the Farm Market. They occasionally have interesting things, but neither of us found anything there today.

Had lunch down the street at Tortilla Press. It was quarter of noon by that point, and they were very busy. We just missed a huge party, in fact. I forgot that Tortilla Press has a popular brunch on weekends. Lauren had the brunch burritos, with black beans and mango salsa. I had the brunch quesadilla, filled with cheese, bacon, and vegetables, with salsa, sour cream, and very tasty home fries. We shared a basket of cinnamon sugar-dusted home-made tortilla chips and very much enjoyed our meal.

The rain took a temporary leave of absence after lunch, just in time for us to stroll down Haddon Avenue and check out several stores that interested us. Lauren picked up bags of Tootsie Rolls and a box of blue raspberry ring gummies at The Candy Jar; I found a bar of chocolate/vanilla/strawberry coconut candy. I ended up at InnerGroove Records to check out their dollar shelves while Lauren headed to ExtrordinaryED, a toy store a few doors down. She bought a dice and card game to play with her folks. I dug two records out of the stacks:

Linda Rondstat - Greatest Hits, Vol 2

Walt Disney Studios Presents Merry Christmas Songs - Mainly bought this for "From All of Us to All of You"

Lauren wanted to check out Rocket Fizz again - we went there last year - so we made our way down Haddon Township to Westmont around 2. Phildelity Records just opened a block from that shopping center. It's basically the same thing as InnerGroove, but in a larger, lighter store, and with CDs, Blu-Ray, and DVDs in addition to records. Lauren bought a couple of CDs for herself and one for her dad. Along with a copy of the Jennifer Lopez/George Clooney thriller Out of Sight on DVD, I found:

George Benson - In Your Eyes (record)

WOR 96.7 Studio Solid Gold - Two-disc record collection of classic rock, including some good titles I don't have elsewhere.

Original cast of Donnybrook!, a 1961 musical version of The Quiet Man. It was a major flop at the time, but I do like The Quiet Man, so I'm willing to give this rare title a try.

Rocket Fizz was our next stop. This is technically a candy store, but it specializes in practical jokes, unusual sodas and candy, and imported candy from Europe and Asia. While I found several of the British candy bars to be intriguing, most of them were expensive. Lauren found a banana nut soda with a Monkees label. (She later said it was pretty good.)

Primo's Water Ice, one of the best ice cream/water ice shops in the area, is right next door. They have unique flavors at very cheap prices. I picked up a pineapple turnover water ice (basically a creamier pineapple). Lauren had a black raspberry soft serve cone. We sat at the counter inside, avoiding the continuing humid weather and listening to the chattering young teens on the other side.

Good Samaritan Thrift Shop is across the street. They're very narrow and very busy, a jumble of clothes, knick-knacks, and some books and DVDs. I admired two lovely vintage 50's 18-inch dolls for 10 each; I would have considered buying one if I could carry it home. (Maybe next week if I have the money.) Lauren bought a shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was 3:30 by that point. Not only was it rush hour, but the day was growing more and more humid. Figured it was time to head back to Oaklyn. We dodged traffic on Cuthbert and Haddon Avenue and headed back the way we came, past Newton Lake Park and down East Clinton.

Lauren wanted to stop at Comicrypt, the comics store next-door to The House of Fun on the White Horse Pike. Turns out we picked the right time to do it. They were having a half-price sale on their older titles. I did see some Star Wars, but I'm not that into the Dark Horse titles. I prefer the ones from the 70's and 80's when the movies were originally out, or the current Marvel run, neither of which were part of the sale. I settled for petting the black and white kitty who wandered between boxes. (His white sister was napping in the window.) Lauren did much better, picking up a stack of titles that she said filled in gaps in her own collection.

It started to rain hard again when we were in Comicrypt. Thankfully, the rain was slowing down, even as we crossed the White Horse Pike to West Clinton. In fact, we noticed a Crayola-themed bounce house at the very end of the circular drive between the park and the VFW. Must have been some kind of kid party going on there.

I made us Caesar Chicken Salad (complete with home-made dressing) for dinner while we watched Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The Toons are looking forward to their time off from school, but it doesn't turn out to be what they'd hoped. Plucky finds himself on the car trip from hell when he joins Hamton's smiley-happy family on their ride to Happy World Land. Babs, Buster, and Myron spend their summer on the river, avoiding larger animals who think they're on the barbecue menu. Fifi pursues a handsome star, with little success. Elmyra terrifies the animals at a safari park. Shirley seriously regrets her movie date with Foulmouth when he talks over the film and drives everyone crazy. Fun if you're a fan of the Toons or the fast-paced, reference-filled Warners cartoons of the 90's.

Played some Wii Sports after dinner. Tried some mini-games tonight. Lauren won most of them - she beat me at the batting practice by 1 hit! - but I finally won golf Target Practice and the baseball Spin Control. We finished Raiders of the Lost Ark in Lego Indiana Jones with the long and complicated "Finding the Ark" and "Opening the Ark" rounds. Having two people really helped on these - one could jump onto things, while the other pushed levers.

Ended the night after my shower with The Last Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is determined to bring former Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to his sister Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the Resistance. Luke insists that he's retired, but he changes his mind when he sees Rey's awesome powers. Meanwhile, her buddy Finn (John Boyega) is sent to the casino planet Cantino Bight with Resistance mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) to find a master hacker who'll get them onto the First Order's ship. What they find is the disreputable DJ (Benicio Del Toro), who does as asked...but turns out to not exactly be trustworthy. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is also struggling with his dark and light sides. He reaches out to Rey in the Force, and they start a tentative relationship that's threatened by the First Order's leader, Snoke (Andy Serkis). Rey thinks she can bring Kylo back to the light...but as Luke tries to point out (and as everyone has complained about), "this is not going to go like you think."

If you're a fan of this franchise, I say ignore all the fussing and give this movie a shot. It's not for purists or for people looking for a lighter and softer version of these characters ala Force Awakens, but if you're willing to try something different with these movies, this is far better than you may have heard.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Rain, the Mall, and Other Things

I was so excited about our first mall trip of the week, I couldn't sleep this morning. It was raining when I got up at quarter of 7, but not heavily. I finished Han Solo's Revenge, wrote in my journal, and messed around online until Lauren got up around 10.

Ran a couple of She-Ra episodes while I ate breakfast and we got organized. Adora and Bow find themselves in an "Enchanted Castle" when they're captured by an evil sorceress. They're rescued by an old woman they helped on the road, who teaches them a lesson in kindness and looking beyond appearances. Madame Razz, her broom, and Kowl are "Three Courageous Hearts" who must find the spell book that will release She-Ra from the Sixth Dimension.

We rushed out around 10:45 to catch the 11:12 bus to Cherry Hill. It was still raining when we left, a light shower that made everyone damp, but didn't do much else...and certainly not the torrential downpour everyone talked about for today. The bus was about five or so minutes late, nothing outrageous, and we had no trouble getting to the mall.

We took quick looks at Game Stop first, but neither of us picked up anything there. Lauren found t-shirts for her parents at the Disney Store and shirts for herself at work at Macy's. I didn't pick up anything from either store. They had Solo: A Star Wars Story merchandise, but not much, and nothing that exciting. (Too bad the giant Ewok honoring the 35th anniversary of Return of the Jedi was so expensive.)

Macy's is just a few doors down from The Disney Store. We walked around there for about a half-hour. I'm not the biggest fan of Macy's and didn't find anything interesting, but Lauren found several of her favorite style of blouses for work. We also ran into Jessa, who works at that Macy's, heading for another department. She was talking about her and Joe taking Lauren and me to see wrestling at Atlantic City...but Joe has a cold, and they may not be able to do it. That's ok. Most of our plans for tomorrow were in the morning.

By the time we headed across the pedestrian bridge to the Hillview Shopping Center, the rain was long gone. It was replaced by a cold, stiff wind that lingered for the rest of the day. Shivering, we ducked into the Silver Diner for lunch. They were very busy, not surprising for 1 PM. We both opted for their $9.99 lunch specials. I had the Tarragon Crabcake, cole slaw, and Old Bay fries. Lauren had a bowl of chicken soup and the half of a turkey club that I had a while back. Yum! The crab cake was even better than their fish and chips, perfectly cooked and seasoned just right. (The Silver Diner is a Maryland franchise - they know their seafood.) Lauren really seemed to love hers, too.

Hit Kohl's next. I picked up two much-needed bras. (Mine are very old and very worn.) Lauren found a couple of shirts she liked on a rack near the entrance at the last minute!

Target was just as busy. We explored the toy aisle, but neither of us found anything we couldn't live without. Lauren already had the "Rowdy" Roddy Piper figure on the shelves, and they didn't have the Kylo Ren/Rey doll set I've been looking for. She bought a bra; I picked up a box of Pillsbury Strawberry cake mix that was on a good sale. I'll make Lauren and me a berry cake later in the week.

Lauren and I headed back across the pedestrian bridge and though the mall. To our disappointment, Jay Street Video Games was gone. It must have just happened; I'm pretty sure they were there when I was at the mall for my birthday last month. Nothing either of us wanted at Build-a-Bear. We did better at JC Penney; we both picked up pretty blouses. I like the simple red print on the peach background on the shirt I found.

I met Lauren at the food court, which is almost right next to JC Penney. I had a wonderfully tart-sweet Orangeberry Julius. Lauren had a Cherry Coke and a huge chicken and cheese quesadilla, the latter of which she shared with me.

We finished our snack with just enough time to head upstairs and catch our bus home. The bus was once again five minutes late...and this time, it had a good reason. Traffic was pretty heavy around the Cooper River Bridge and the entrance to Haddon Township by Cooper River Park. A ride that should have been 20 minutes ended up being more like 40. Made a quick jump into WaWa for money on the way home.

After we got in and put everything away, we first played Wii Sports. Lauren killed me at everything we played; I got the closest to her in golf. Switched to Lego Indiana Jones around quarter after 7. We took Marion and Indy through the streets of Cairo and over its rooftops, smashing so many jars, we got our first True Adventurer. Didn't do nearly well on the very long and complicated "Well of Souls." We managed to get through it, and even get a few pieces, but we lost most of our money doing so.

Had leftover bean dip and hummus for dinner, then went online while watching the original, non Lego Raiders of the Lost Ark. Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) has been hired by the US Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, a biblical artifact of indescribable power. The Nazis are also seeking the Ark, lead by Indy's old rival Bellaq (Paul Freeman). In order to find the Ark, he needs to get a priceless medallion from his ex-girlfriend Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). She joins him and his friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) in Cario..but even when they do find the Ark, the Nazis are quickly on their tail. Indy, Marion, and the Ark are ultimately captured by the Nazis, who intend to use its power to take over the world. Indy's the only one who knows how to survive what comes out of the Ark...and why some mysteries are better left undiscovered.

First, and probably the most beloved, of the Indiana Jones films. This one introduced the character, Marion Ravenwood, and the premise of a globe-trotting archeologist/adventurer searching for artifacts in the 30's, 40's and 50's. A classic action adventure that's highly recommended.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Make Your Own Kind of Music

We both slept in a bit this morning. I was up around quarter of 9; read and wrote in my journal in bed until Lauren got up around 10. I had cereal and strawberries and she had a peanut butter oatmeal bar while watching a travel and British royal family-themed episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. "Europe In 30 Minutes" takes Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hamton across the pond for a whirlwind tour. They eventually end up at Buckingham Palace in London. Babs and Buster foil a plot to kidnap Princess Diana and Prince Charles; Hamton and Plucky avoid a royal chef who think they're on the palace menu.

It was lightly showering again when we headed out around 11 for a stroll in Oaklyn and Audubon. Our first stop was the House of Fun on the White Horse Pike. Lauren browsed in the wrestling figures and 80's action figures; I checked out the Star Wars shelves, DVDs, and stuffed animals. Lauren bought a "Rowdy" Roddy Piper figure from the 80's; I found Chewbacca and R2-D2 beanies from 1997 and a loose 12-inch C-3PO from the year before.

The rain was still coming down lightly as we made out way down the White Horse Pike and over to Market Street in Audubon. Our next stop was the used CD store Abbie Road, owned by kindly older music-lover Bob. He was having a big 3 CDs for five dollars sale. Lauren bought big band and jazz albums for her and her dad. I found:

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - Greatest Hits

Petula Clark - The Very Best of Petula Clark

Simon & Garfunkel - The Concert In Central Park (replaces a home-made cassette copy I've had since the late 90's!)

George Shearing Quintet - White Satin & Black Satin (Lauren found this one and offered it to me when she wasn't sure her dad would want it. I have their Satin Affair album and have been looking for the other "fabric" titles for years.)

The original Broadway casts for Pipe Dream, Anyone Can Whistle, and Monty Python's Spamalot

The rain was coming down a bit harder as we headed down Nicholson to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. I was hungry, and Lauren only had a Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Bar for breakfast, so next on the agenda was lunch at Sonic. Thankfully, the rain had slowed enough by this point to allow for eating outside...although needless to say, we were the only ones. Though the rain was slowing, it was warmer than expected and killer humid. Lauren had a double cheeseburger. I had a Breakfast Burrito. We both had tater tots and cherry limeades. I didn't realize my burrito came with pickled jalapenos. Yow! I drank my cherry limeade in a hurry! Next time, I think I'll get the Ultimate Burrito instead or try one of the other egg sandwiches.

We ducked into Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less to check them out. The weather must have scared people off - neither store was remotely busy. I didn't find anything, but Lauren picked up a nice lightweight yellow cardigan with flowing sleeves that can be draped around the arms at Ross. Peeked briefly at the Game Stop across the parking lot, but didn't come up with anything.

The rain was gone all together by the time we trooped over to the Acme to this week's grocery shopping. I didn't really need that much, anyway. Needed Scoops tortilla chips for dinner tonight, pie crusts for dinner next week, and bananas and the buy-one-get-one strawberries and raspberries for fruit this week. Had Monopoly coupons for yogurt and turkey pepperoni and a free coupon for Barilla pasta sauce. Restocked milk, cereal, and the inexpensive Acme generic Greek yogurt.

We were lucky. It was still just cloudy and humid when we finally strolled home. After we put everything away, we played an hour or so of Wii Sports. Lauren won both rounds of tennis and the bowling round, but I killed her at golf. We tied on baseball.

I made bean dip for dinner around 6. We had the bean dip and the leftover hummus from last week with the Scoops chips for a nutritious, simple, and tasty dinner. That bean dip always comes out so well! I don't think I've ever done a bad batch. I like adding just a little taco sauce with stock instead of the picante sauce called for. Gives it just the right amount of zip.

Ran the remaining two Garfield travel specials while I cooked and we had dinner. Garfield In Paradise takes Garfield, Odie, and Jon to a tropical island resort for some fun in the sun. They love their nifty 50's rental car...until it lands them among a tribe of doo-wop-worshipping natives whose volcano is about to go off!

Garfield and Odie get to show off their dancing paws in Garfield In Hollywood. They won a trip to La La Land after they came in first in a local pet talent contest. Garfield is determined to take first prize...but Jon is worried that winning might mean leaving him behind.

Since we still had plenty of time, we switched to the original Lego Indiana Jones. I got a walkthrough book at Jay Street Video Games a few months ago. Got through the first two rounds with Indy searching for the idol in the temple (complete with outrunning the infamous boulder!) and with Marion at her place and in the frozen landscape of Nepal.

Ended the night online after I got out of the shower while watching The Great Outdoors and streaming cartoons and vintage wrestling. Chet (John Candy) is looking forward to a relaxing vacation at a cabin in the woods with his wife Connie (Stephanie Faracy) and their two sons. That lasts for less than a day before Connie's rich investment broker brother Roman (Dan Ackroyd), his wife Kate (Annette Benning) and their twin daughters show up uninvited. Roman is determined to show up his brother-in-law with his posh lifestyle and constant investment schemes. Meanwhile, Chet's son Buck (Chris Young) is chasing a local girl (Lucy Deakins), but she gets upset when he breaks their date to watch his dad eat a massive steak. Matters come to a head during a thunderstorm, when Chet discovers that Roman isn't what he claims to be...and that family helps each other in times of crisis, even when they drive each other crazy.

Definitely an improvement on Summer Rental, this is a bit like like a cross between that film and screenwriter John Hughes' previous Candy hit Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...only here, it's the rich guy who is annoying the middle-class guy. Ackroyd's excellent comic timing is a big help here; his interaction Candy makes the movie a lot of fun. If you're a fan of Hughes or either actor, this is absolutely worth checking out.

Tomorrow, we're planning on hiding from the heavier rain in the Cherry Hill Mall and Hillview Shopping Center.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain

Got a fast start on a gloomy morning with breakfast and Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City takes her to the title city for the Big Bake Off. She's pitted against the Purple Pieman, who is determined to win that fancy gazebo. Good thing Strawberry makes a lot of new friends in Spinach Village, including eventual series regulars Lemon Meringue and Orange Blossom, who help her out.

It was just showering lightly when I headed out to the laundromat. They were surprisingly busy for 10:30 in the middle of the week, though I was able to get a washer and dryer fairly quick. I read The Women's Book of Courage and half-listened to Rachel Ray and The View. I didn't have much to do, anyway. I was out in 40 minutes.

When I got home, I put everything away, then watched two quick Disney shorts while having lunch. Chip and Dale's home tree is "Out of Scale" in Donald's model railroad. They initially settle in a miniature house on the set before finally coming to a compromise. They're "Two Chips and a Miss" when they compete for the affection of lovely chipmunk Clarice at a swank rodent nightclub.

Headed back out around quarter after 12. First stop was the Haddon Township Library. I was mainly there to return DVDs and Fortune's Fool, but I did do some volunteering. I put away one CD and as many DVDs as I could. The kids' and especially the adult titles were overloaded. They must have just gotten a ton back. I couldn't get half of them in.

Next up was counseling in Haddonfield. I pulled in to Mrs. Stahl's office just in time. I'd just sat down in her waiting room when her previous clients were on their way out. We mainly discussed my busy couple of months. I showed her the photos from the wedding and told her about what Lauren and I plan on doing during our vacation. I also explained that while some of the problematic managers at work are on extended leave or were moved elsewhere, I now have other problems. I panic badly when I'm just thrown into a register or pulled away from something I'm concentrating on.

Mrs. Stahl says to try to focus on breathing and trying to calm down when I get into the register, before I get crazy.

The rain showers, which had been falling lightly pretty much all day, were starting to pick up as I left Haddonfield, and the day was cold and gloomy. This was no day to linger. Instead of stopping for a water ice, I bought one of those tasty pecan logs at Dollar General instead. Lauren likes Pepsi - she says it helps with her digestion. I bought her a six-pack there. (They're cheaper there than at the Acme.)

When I got in, I made the bed, tidied around the apartment, and grabbed towels for Lauren. Tried some writing. Leia and the others head out to the busy Coruscant Marketplace. While riding by a booth filled with pets, Leia happens to notice cages holding furry-bear like creatures in leather head coverings that seem more like warriors than pets...

Gave up around 6 and ate tuna salad on a bed of greens and tomato for dinner. Watched One Crazy Summer while I ate and put a few things out for Lauren. Hoops McCann (John Cusack) is hoping to learn about life and love when he goes to Nantucket with his best friend. He falls for Cassandra (Demi Moore) on the way. Her grandfather's home may be lost to a snotty seafood restaurant owner and his spoiled son if they can't come up with enough money to pay them off within two weeks. With the help of the son of a military supply shop owner (Curtis Armstrong) and a pair of unalike twins, they do whatever they can to beat these jerks at their own game, including winning the local regatta.

While the finale is similar to the boat race in Summer Rental, this is otherwise a totally different movie, far wackier and more over-the-top. Fun 80's "slobs vs snobs" comedy if you're into director "Savage" Steve Holland's surreal brand of humor.

The rain was back to a light shower when Jessa picked me up at 7:30. I was late getting down, and we were slightly late picking up Lauren. No problems after that, though. She was right there when we picked her up, and there was no traffic anywhere. I'd kept up with Lauren via texting throughout the day. Despite the weather, she said she had no problems anywhere; the tracks were cleared by 6 AM.

Lauren settled down and I showed her the changes at my place (including my new doll Ariel), before we ended the night online with National Lampoon's Vacation. Clark Grizwold (Chevy Chase) is looking forward to a fun two-week car trip with his wife Ellen (Beverly Di Angelo) and two teen kids to Wally World, a theme park in California. Absolutely nothing goes the way Clark planned. Even before they leave, the car Clark ordered doesn't come in, and they're stuck with a clunker. They get lost in the bad part of St. Louis. Ellen's hillbilly cousins hit him up for money. A cranky aunt (Imogene Coca) hitches a ride to Phoenix. Clark keeps seeing a beautiful woman in a red sport car (Christie Brinkley) everywhere. He can only take so much before he snaps...and finally discovers that while no vacation is perfect, that doesn't mean they can't be memorable.

While this classic comedy is a bit dated, with some gross gags and the scene in St. Louis that don't come off well today, most of it still plays pretty well, including the ultimate fate of that cranky aunt.

Tomorrow, Lauren and I are likely going to go for a nice stroll in Oaklyn and Audubon, checking out favorite stores like Abbie Road Music and The House of Fun.