Saturday, June 30, 2018

In the Swim

Celebrated the 4th of July coming up next week with America Rock. Made during America's bicentennial in 1975 and 1976, these shorts discuss the basics of US history and government. "No More Kings" and "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" goes into detail on the American Revolution and the events leading up to it. "The Preamble" explains the importance of the US Constitution. "Elbow Room" discusses manifest destiny and the move west. The jaunty ragtime tune "Fireworks" revolves around the Declaration of Independence. "Sufferin' 'Til Sufferage" is a dynamic R&B number detailing how women finally got the vote in 1920 after years of protests. "The Great American Melting Pot" reveals how immigrants in the 19th and early 20th century helped shape the US. "Mother Necessity" goes further into that, showing how many of them invented the objects that continue to shape our lives. "I'm Just a Bill," on the process of how a bill becomes law, is probably the most famous of these shorts today.

It was already in the 80's when I headed out to the Collingswood Farm Market around 10. While not as packed as usual, there were still quite a few people around, buying produce for their graduation parties and 4th of July barbecues. Saw eggplants and cranberry beans for the first time this season. One tent featured baby goats and the things made from their milk; children were allowed to hold them, to their delight and the goats' bemusement. I just ended up with blueberries, strawberries, and a tomato.

Stopped at the Oaklyn Library on my way home to volunteer. It was quiet when I arrived; the only person there was the librarian. A few folks arrived to use the computer as I went through the DVDs and took a look at the picture books and board books (which are in the midst of being reorganized).

Finished out America Rock when I got home and made my grocery list. "Three Ring Government" compares the structure of the US government to a typical circus. Two later shorts also discussed the workings of the government and voting. "Tyrannosaurus Debt" from Money Rock is a surprisingly pointed commentary on the US debt and how it keeps growing. "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote To College," which was made for the 30th anniversary DVD set I have, uses academic language and college fight songs to discuss the Electoral Collage.

Went in the opposite direction next to the Acme. Along with doing my shopping and getting my schedule, I wanted to bring that Banana Pudding Icebox Cake to the luncheon for a retiring bagger. I came just in time to see several managers hand him a big star and congratulate him.

There sure was plenty of food for his party! Entrees included meatballs, tortellini with spinach, baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, sausage, and hoagies from the deli. I saw two kinds of pasta salad and a potato salad. The dessert table groaned with carrot cake, brownies, pound cake, jam-filled butter cookies, and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. I had a tri-color pasta salad with tomatoes, a turkey hoagie, two helpings of the tasty tortellini with spinach, a slice of carrot cake, and a jam cookie.

Picked up my schedule on the way in. I was delighted and surprised to note that I have the 4th of July off. I haven't had the 4th off in years. It's pretty good the rest of the week, too. I mostly work 11 to 3 or 11 to 4, with next Saturday off as well and a later day Friday. Best schedule I've had in ages. Between the heat and the days off, I think I'll just skip the Haddon Township Library this week and do Oaklyn on Saturday after the farm market again.

I had quite a bit of grocery shopping to do after I ate. Needed more vanilla wafers, pudding mixes, and Cool Whip to make a larger icebox cake for Independence Day. Restocked cereal, breakfast cookies (had an online coupon for Belvita), yogurt, brown sugar, conditioner, pasta, honey, canned pineapple, tuna, and tea. Picked up batteries on sale, but I bought the wrong ones. They were C, and I need Ds for my flashlight. I'll exchange them tomorrow.

Since it was still pretty early and I already had lunch, I played some Lego Clone Wars when I got in. Picked up two more pieces on "Blue Shadow Virus" and tried to get more on "Jedi Crash," but got stuck. Finally got the x10 red brick. Opened up bonus rounds that focus on trying to capture a certain planet, but by that time, it was getting late. I'll work on that tomorrow.

Did some writing next. Vader finishes with Motti just in time to see the group walking around the corner. He not only recognizes Luke and Leia from their encounter at the factory in LA, but he feels the Force in them, too. Harry discovers powers of his own when his punch sends Vader's goons into the wall on the other side of the room!

Meanwhile, Luke has figured out how to use the Sword of Light within the gun...but he can't control it. He ends up shooting holes in the hallway and leave it in flames. The others take this chance to escape, while Vader searches for another presence he's felt...

Went over to Dad and Jodie's around 5 to swim in their pool. I picked the right time. It was just them and me when I came in. I swam laps and floated around, just enjoying the quiet. We also discussed the 4th of July and their helping me with the cost of the tickets for the train to Lauren's in September. They say they're just having a small get-together with Jessa, Joe, and some of the neighbors on the 4th. I'll still bring the icebox cake - it went over well last year.

A couple of the neighbors arrived around 6 with their kids. Rose came with her family shortly after. Rose and Craig are taking their kids to visit friends in Maine for the 4th and wanted to say goodbye before they left. I played with the kids in the pool for a while as Craig held little Finley, teaching her how to kick and float. (She's doing so well, and she's so cute, in her new neon orange floral tankini.)

It was after 7:30 before I finally went home. Had the last of the tuna salad with greens and leftover vegetables while watching Summer Holiday. Mickey Rooney headlines this 1948 MGM musical as Richard Miller, a teen living in a small town in Connecticut in the early 1900's with his family, Aunt Lilly (Agnes Moorehead), and Uncle Sid (Frank Morgan). Richard's picked up a lot of notions about the rights of the common man from the books he reads that he spouts to anyone who'll listen, including his nervous girlfriend Muriel (Gloria DeHaven). Angry when her father catches her reading his books and forbids their relationship, he goes off for a night in a bar with a floozy (Marilyn Maxwell)...and learns that maybe he's not as grown-up as he thinks.

It's too bad this adorable tale sat on the shelf for two years and was a flop when it came out. It's actually a lot of fun, with some nice numbers for DeHaven and Rooney and another good one for Maxwell in the bar that makes far better use of color filters and fades than South Pacific. Walter Huston is especially good as Richard's (mostly) supportive newspaper editor father.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Major League Heat

I woke up early to a hazy, sunny morning. I wanted to get everything done that I needed to do before the weather got too hot for running around. Began the day with breakfast and Garfield In Hollywood. Garfield and Odie win an American Idol-style contest for talented pets and go on to the national finals in Hollywood. Jon shares their enthusiasm at first, but starts to worry when they cut him out of the act, and he wonders if stardom would mean leaving him behind.

First stop of the day was the Haddon Township Library. I'm not the only person who opted to get an early start and beat the heat. They were already busy just 15 minutes after opening. I shelved piles of kids' DVDs and helped the regular morning volunteer with the adult titles. Didn't take anything out this week myself. First of all, I have plenty of movies to watch for the 4th of July. Second, it's supposed to be insanely hot for pretty much the entire week. It might be too hot for a lot of running around outside of work. Third, I may not have the time anyway if I get a lot of hours for the holiday.

Made a few quick stops on the way home. Picked up milk, bananas, Cool Whip, and vanilla wafers at the Westmont Acme. Headed down the street to Dollar Tree for sponges and two aluminum cake pans with lids.

As soon as I got home, I pulled a box of banana cream pudding out of my pantry to make Banana Icebox Cake. Crushed the wafers and added melted butter to them for a crust. Layered a sliced banana, then the pudding, then Cool Whip. I'll be taking this to the Acme tomorrow. One of the baggers is retiring, and they're having a special luncheon for him.

Ran two episodes of Good Eats on favorite fruits as I made the dessert and a mango smoothie for lunch. Blueberries are in season, making "Kinda Blue" kinda appropriate. I'm not so sure about the pie (my fruit pies always seem to make a mess), but I may try the blueberry buckle and the syrup. "Orange Aid" also leans heavily on the sweeter side of fruit, including recipes for Orange Julius and marmalade.

Headed right back out after lunch. Heat wave or no heat wave, I had laundry to do. It wasn't a really big load, which is how I got away with putting it off for so long. They were busy when I came in, not quite as much when I left. Worked on story notes while half-listening to various talk shows.

Worked on writing for the next few hours. Thanks to Ben and the others dismantling the alarm system, they're able to get the gun and swords out of the storage room. They no sooner take off into the hall than they run into Vader and Tarkin. The latter almost strangles one of his men with the Force after a disagreement; only Tarkin's intervention gets him to leave the man alone.

Broke for dinner at 6. Had leftovers while watching a Three Stooges short. Leia and the guys aren't the only one who get into trouble in a fictional totalitarian state. The Stooges are in a Central American country selling coats when they stumble across a female spy. They're supposed to be bringing messages to her bosses, but the fur really flies when they're "Saved By the Belle" who helps them evade the firing squad.

It cooled off enough by 6:30 for me to stroll down to West Clinton for the first Final Friday Festival of the year. This is Oaklyn's food truck block party, which they do on the last Friday of every month from June through October. They were absolutely packed when I arrived. Wall-to-wall people lined up for barbecue, meatballs sandwiches, water ice, roasted corn on the cob, cookie dough, hot dogs, soft pretzels, cannoli, hoagies, and fried rice balls. A face-painting booth and chalk drawing on the sidewalks replaced Studio LuLoo.

A scoop of ice cream from Phillies Phatties was cheaper than anything in the booths. Tried their home-made "Reverse Cookies and Cream," chocolate ice cream with golden Oreo pieces. The ice cream was rich and yummy, but I really wish they'd included more cookie pieces. Enjoyed my treat at a table in front of Common Grounds Coffee House, watching the crowds head home.

Played some Lego Clone Wars when I got in. I finally figured out what I was doing wrong in "Destroy the Malevolence." I had to levitate that one piece upwards to fix the sprinkler, not to the side. Got three more pieces in that round and two more in "Defenders of the Peace."

Finished the night with Major League after a shower. The new owner of the Cleveland Indians Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) is a former showgirl with no real interest in owning a baseball team, let alone one that hasn't done well in years. She wants to move the team to Miami, but needs to have a losing year in order to do so. She hires the worst players she possibly can - a former criminal with a major fastball but no control (Charlie Sheen), a catcher with bad knees (Tom Bergener), a spoiled third baseman with an inflated sense of his own worth (Corbin Bernsen), a lightning-fast runner who can't hit (Wesley Snipes), a powerful hitter from Cuba who can't hit curveballs (Dennis Haysbert). The catcher is also having problems trying to get back together with his ex-girlfriend (Rene Russo) who is now engaged to a wealthy socialite. It takes the gruff manager (James Gammon) figuring out where Vaughn's control trouble is stemming from and the discovery of Phelps' scheme to encourage these guys to start winning games...and to start working as a team.

This was a favorite of Dad's in the early 90's, and we used to watch it a lot too (despite the R rating). The story is cliche to the max, and Russo's love-interest role feels shoe-horned in. For all the comedy, there's a surprising amount of grit in this tale, including the twist ending. Special kudos to Bob Uecker as the team's announcer, whose sarcastic and hilarious play-by-play is a highlight of the film.

Brief sexual situations and some fairly heavy swearing make this more appropriate for teen baseball fans onwards. If you have fans of the cast or the National Pastime around, they may get as much of a kick out of this as we always did.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Castles In the Air

I went to sleep to the sound of rain on the roof and a storm outside. When I rolled out of bed this morning, the storm was gone, the sun was out, and it was already in the 70's. Ran a Backyardigans episode as I ate. Wizards Tyrone and Pablo have "A Giant Problem." Tasha the Giant is in the area, and her stomping around is waking up grumpy Queen Uniqua from her royal nap. She sends the boys to take care of this noisy intruder, but they can't seem to cast their spells correctly and cause more trouble.

Spent the rest of the morning writing. Luke feels the Sword of Light calling to him. He has to get it out of the gun. Harry and Cassian are about to try when a couple of Imperials show up, demanding to know who they are. Cassian tries to bluff his way out, but they may have to opt for a noisier escape.

Got off the computer at 1 for lunch and to get ready for work. Tyrone is one of the most famous seamen in all of mythology in "Sinbad Sails Alone." Pablo wants to sign on as his first mate, but Tyrone insists that he always works solo. Pablo is a little too eager to be of some use, and his antics land them on the islands of Siren Uniqua and Medusa Tasha. He proves far more helpful when they actually make it to their goal, and a mishap makes Tyrone realize how important it is to have someone around when you need them.

Work was only slightly busier than yesterday. I did have to take a register for a minute when a manager dealt with a customer, and I rounded up baskets and did returns in the last hour, but I mostly alternated between shelving candy and helping the head bagger with the carts. It was hot outside and a tad humid, but probably not as much as it's going to be later this weekend. I was glad for the lovely, cool breeze.

Decided I'd have an early dinner instead of waiting. Ate pasta with butter and herbs and leftover steamed snap peas and a chicken leg while watching more Backyardigans. Uniqua and Pablo are "Movers of Arabia" who have been asked to haul all of Sultan Tyrone's magical objects to his palace. Among them are a flying carpet, a "box of wind," and a bottle with a genie (Austin). Even Austin's three wishes may not help when the "box of wind" is opened and the wind gets out of control.

Oh, and I talked to Charlie before I came in. He's still surveying the porch. Evidently, the new one is going to be fiberglass, and you can't really work with that in hot weather. He said he'll tell me when he plans on getting it done. 

Did some Lego Clone Wars next. I'm still having problems with the part in "Destroy Malevolence" where you insert the bricks into the sprinkler system to put out the fire. (I figured out what I was doing wrong tonight - I'll try again tomorrow or another time.) Got three more pieces on "Destroy," four more on "Legacy of Terror," and completed "Battle of Geonosis." 

Finished out the night with last year's British TV version of Little Women. Four young women grow up during and after the Civil War in a small town in New England. Jo (Maya Hawke) is gangly and spirited, the family tomboy who is determined to write. Meg (Willa Fitzgerald) is the slightly romantic eldest. Beth (Annes Elwy) is the shy musician and peacemaker. Amy (Kathryn Newton) is the baby of the family and an excellent artist. They're eventually joined in their antics by Laurie (Jonah Hauer-King), the boy who lives next door and befriends Jo. Jo wishes they could all stay together forever...but nothing is forever, especially people. Even when they grow up, her sisters marry, and her family parts, Jo comes to realize that her writing is more than a way to make money. It's her salvation...and a way to keep those she loves close to her, especially after tragedy strikes.

Not bad. I give the BBC a lot of credit for finding actors who really look the part. Hawke in particular perfectly matches Louisa May Alcott's description of Jo from the book. I also loved Emily Watson as a touching and wise Marmee. This is also one of the most accurate retellings of this story I've ever seen. It even includes interludes like Beth being taken to the seaside to recuperate that other versions leave out. That does mean that it's also very long, and at times very slow-moving. Also, Amy is mostly played older here, as in the 1933 and 1949 version, and sometimes the accents do sound very off and not terribly American. 

I really enjoyed this one for the most part. You can't really go wrong with Little Women. Every adaptation I've seen has something to recommend it, including this one. Fine for fans of the book or those with "little women" of their own if they have time on their hands. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Dungeons, Dragons, and Robots

The gray and gloomy morning when I rolled out of bed suited my gloomy mood. I cheered up with breakfast and one of the hour-long Backyardigans specials. Pablo is an "International Super Spy" who likes his apple juice shaken and his sports cars filled with gadgets. His boss Miss T(asha) sends him on an assignment to find four containers before the Lady In Pink (Uniqua) and her hench-moose Tyrone do. If they get their hands on it, it could be a recipe for disaster!

My eight and a half hour day wasn't too bad. It did get a little crazy in the mid-afternoon when the other bagger was outside and everyone wanted me to do everything at once. I did trash and returns in the morning; gathered baskets and carts and cleaned the bathrooms in the afternoon. While it remained cloudy and humid with occasional light showers, it at least was windy and cool for this time of year.

I was so worn out after work, I wasn't even up to making leftovers. The weather remained decent enough for me to eat at Sonic for dinner. While they were busy with quite a few cars in the lot at quarter after 6, I was the only one eating on the patio. I had a tasty and hot chicken sandwich, tater tots, and my favorite cherry limeade. Watched the cars at Sonic and their neighbor Chick Fil 'A come and go while I ate.

Had just walked in the door when my landlady came with an envelope. Charlie's going to be starting to repair the porch tomorrow if the weather's appropriate. At least it shouldn't be as disruptive as him doing the roof was last year. I'll have to go in and out through Charlie's side, but I also won't have to rearrange anything.

Played Lego Star Wars for an hour after she left. Went back and did "Shadow of Malevolence" and the "Genosis Arena" prologue. Got four pieces on the former (I think I did that one a little too fast - didn't give myself enough of a chance to explore) and all but two on the latter.

Finished the night online with more Mystery Science Theater 3000. Checked out their riff on The Magic Sword, which I watched sans commentary a few months ago. I have to agree with the guys on this one. This is actually one of the better movies they made fun of. It's surprisingly charming for B-movie fodder. Basil Rathbone and Estelle Winward have a great time chewing the scenery to shreds. Even the low-budget special effects add to the charm.

The Magic Sword

And I think I'd better get moving. Sounds like that storm that's threatened all day is about to burst...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bear In the Summer

The day couldn't have been nicer when I rolled out of bed this morning. It was cool enough for me to make Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies after breakfast. Finished out the Lion Guard DVD while I worked. While Fuli overexerts herself doing mission after mission, the rest of the Guard goes on "The Search for Utamu," that is, a special kind of grub found only during the rainy season. Bunga tells the guys how he first met Timon and Puumba when they were looking for the grub. But even grub-hunting takes a backseat when a friend is in danger. A pack of vultures wants to take advantage of Fuli's exhaustion to pick her bones, unless her friends can come to her rescue.

Kion learns to "Never Judge a Hyena By Its Spots" when he gets lost in the Outlands and makes friends with Jasiri, a cute girl hyena, who helps him out. He in turn helps her when she's attacked by male hyenas who don't like her clan encroaching on their turf. Meanwhile, the rest of the Lion Guard try to find their way to the meeting place at Flat Rock...and realize just how effective of a leader Kion is when their leading skills prove to be less-than-sterling.

Spent the rest of the morning writing. Backtracked to write a scene where Ben takes off with Chirruit, Baze, and Bodhi to shut down the Coruscant Armory's security systems and main gate. Luke doesn't want him to go, but he insists that this is a scoop Luke has to get on his own. Meanwhile, the others try to figure out how to free the sword from the gun casing. Luke claims he can "feel" the crystals, and that they're calling to him...

Broke for lunch at quarter of 2. Ran Rikki Tikki Tavi while I ate and got organized. Rikki Tikki Tavi is a mongoose who was adopted by a little British boy in India in the early 1900's. A cobra couple who live in the garden, Nag and Nagara, want the humans out of their home and try to kill them. Rikki manages to kill Nag and destroy most of their eggs, but Nagara is still out there, seeking revenge on Rikki's family.

Work was absolutely no problem whatsoever. For one thing, it was too nice for most people to go shopping. It was sunny, windy, and in the lower 80's when I was outside doing carts. I did some cleaning when I came in, rounded up trash and recycling, and some bagging, but I mostly gathered carts and baskets. It did pick up a bit later in the evening, but not to the point things got too crazy.

Having had dinner at work, I went straight into Lego Clone Wars when I got home. Went back to "Castle of Doom" and did the Free Play for that. This time, I got all but two pieces.

Finished the night with Paddington 2. Paddington (voice of Ben Whishaw) has settled in nicely at his new home in Windsor Gardens, London, with the Browns. His Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday is coming up, and he wants badly to buy her a beautiful pop-up book of London. After a series of jobs, he does manage to earn the money...but shows up at the shop just as it's stolen. He chases the thief, but he gets away, and Paddington is the one who ends up in jail. While the Browns try to figure out who is the real thief and why he wants the pop-up book, Paddington makes several friends in prison, including the prison chef Knuckles. They're the ones who eventually help Paddington escape and return to the Browns to find the real thief...and prove to everyone at Windsor Gardens what a big impact on their lives this little bear has made.

Awww. I think I liked this one even better than the previous movie. The story is somewhat closer to the books, the special effects are impressive (check out Mrs. Brown and Paddington underwater in the finale), and the action is worked in more organically than the tacked-on taxidermy plot from the original film. Hugh Grant in particular was having a blast as hammy actor Phoenix Buchanan, who also seems to be interested in the pop-up book.

I'm a bit surprised this one didn't do as well here in the US as the first did. It definitely deserves much better than it got in theaters. If your family is a fan of the books or the first movie, or are just looking for good family entertainment, this is one is absolutely worth checking out.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Rhythm of the Pride Lands

I was glad to awaken to a glorious summer morning after it was so humid over the weekend. Opened the windows, then had breakfast while watching a Lion Guard episode. "Fuli's New Family" has each member of the Lion Guard trying to include Fuli the Cheetah in their group activities. Fuli prefers being on her own, but even she realizes she needs help when she has to rescue a foolish Bunga from a volcano. Bunga thought being immune to a cobra bite meant being immune to all danger.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon trying to concentrate on writing. The passage leads them right into the room with the shiny silver ray gun. Bodhi helps Leia remove the sword and khyber crystals while the others search for information on the gun and the location of the remaining swords.

Broke for lunch and more Lion Guard at 1. The little honey badger gets a big head again in "Bunga the Wise." He and Timon and Puumba set him up as an all-knowing seer after he stops a flood and Rafiki tells him that honey badgers are the wisest animals in the Pridelands. The Lion Guard tries to point out that his advice is doing more harm than good. Beauty and usefulness are in the "Eye of the Beholder" after keen-eyed bird Ono temporarily loses use of one eye. He feels left out, but he's the only one who can rescue the others when they're trapped in a ravine by the hyenas.

Work was pretty quiet for most of the day, and never more than steady at rush hour. It's too nice to be out shopping, especially given that it's supposed to get hot later in the week. I did the inside and outside trash and the bathroom and bagged while the head bagger was still around; gathered carts and baskets after she left.

Went straight home after work. Made chicken legs poached in chicken stock with sauteed asparagus and summer squash while doing another Lion Guard episode. The Guard's saying "Follow That Hippo" when a young elephant who idolizes Beshante keeps following him around. The hippo says he'll watch him, but they both end up being chased by the hyenas.

Ended the night with more Lego Clone Wars. Tried to get another red brick in the main ship, but I just can't figure out how to get all the characters to the right place. Settled for returning to "Rookies" and "The Zillo Beast" instead. Got five on the former and all but two on the latter.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lazy Summer Afternoon

Today was my first of two early work days this week. It was pretty quiet when I arrived. Even as I left the apartment, the dark clouds were already starting to drift away. While I did do some returns and gathered baskets, I spent most of the day doing carts. The other bagger is one of the new teenagers, and he doesn't know where they all go yet. The crowds started picking up around 11:30-12 as most churches let out for the day and were still going strong when I left. I picked up a pretzel and hurried home.

Made Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Pancakes for lunch (I didn't have the time to whip them up for breakfast) while listening to Malt Shop Memories, one of my many oldies collections. This one is a little more upbeat than most, including two of the Four Seasons' biggest hits ("Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Sherry"), two classics from the Drifters ("Save the Last Dance For Me" and "This Magic Moment"), "Do You Wanna Dance" by Bobby Freeman, and "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I've had a stiff neck for a while and have been up way too late recently. Took a nap for an hour and a half after lunch to try to catch up on my sleep, then read another chapter of The Serpent's Shadow, the first Mercedes Lackey Elemental Masters fairy tale novel (based around Snow White).

Worked on writing for a little while after I rolled out of bed. Jeanne (Jyn) leads them into the main building. Quite a few members of the team are skeptical of them finding anything, including Kay and Harry. Jeanne knows what she's doing. She leads them right up to the main hall where the most valuable objects - including the swords - are being kept.

I wanted a real, genuine meal for dinner, but I forgot to defrost the chicken legs. I turned two cans of tuna and the vegetables I had in the refrigerator into tuna salad on a bed of spring greens with sliced orange peppers and steamed snap peas. Yum. The tuna actually complimented the greens rather nicely, and the peas were so sweet and crisp. Listened to the soundtrack from American Graffiti while I ate.

Finished the night with more Lego Clone Wars. I did pick up three more pieces from "Lair of Grevious," but then made the mistake of returning to the original Republic ship. I was hoping to pick up some of the remaining red bricks there, now that I have more characters, but I couldn't figure out how to get the right characters where I needed them to be to pick up the bricks! I'll try again tomorrow or later this week.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It's a Rainy Day, Charlie Brown

I got up fairly late and didn't really get moving until around 9:30-quarter of 10. Started a cloudy morning with another She-Ra episode while I ate a quick breakfast and got organized. "The Red Knight" is a mysterious fighter in crimson armor who seems to be good at everything he does, including winning a race that Bow normally dominates. Bow runs off after he loses, but he learns a lesson when it turns out he's the only one who can save the Rebels - including the Red Knight - from Hordak's latest scheme.

It was humid and misting when I went out to run my first errand of the day. The mist was slowing down somewhat as I arrived at the Collingswood Farm Market. To my surprise, despite it being past 11 and still a tiny bit rainy, it was also very busy. People were picking up their produce for graduations parties and to stock up to feed their now-at-home kids. I saw strawberries back again and decided to splurge on a pint. (They're five dollars a pint at the only booth that sells them.) Also picked up blueberries and greens.

Went straight home and put everything away. Switched to He's a Bully, Charlie Brown while I made my grocery list and checked out the Acme's app for online coupons.  A mean boy at summer camp named Joe Agate has been winning all the little kids' marbles, including Re-Run's. Truly angry for once, Charlie Brown trains with Snoopy to win them back.

The Acme was actually pretty busy when I arrived. There's a couple of good sales going on this weekend, including a big Quaker products promotion. I bought Life Cereal and Breakfast Squares for $1.88 each. Found a small tub of shrimp for dinner. Restocked sugar, skim milk, eggs (another good sale), butter, batteries, chicken legs, soap, cream of mushroom soup, bananas, and yogurt. 

My schedule is a bit frustrating next week. In good news, more hours again. In annoying news, my two days off in a row don't start until Friday, I work really early tomorrow, and I have another long 8 1/2 day on Wednesday, plus an unusually late day. 

Had lunch as soon as I got home and got everything where it was supposed to be. Finished out the He's a Bully DVD while I ate. It's a Short Summer, Charlie Brown is another Peanuts summer camp tale. This time, most of the Peanuts gang are at camp for the summer. The boys can't defeat the girls at sports, until they recruit Snoopy ("The Masked Marvel") to go up against Lucy in arm-wrestling.

A random episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show seemed to be there more to fill out the DVD than because it fit with the other cartoons. The first short, involving the kids planting their garden, seems re-used from It's Arbor Day; most of the third segment with Re-Run on his mom's bike would turn up again in I Want a Dog for Christmas. The last short, with Snoopy briefly taking over as manager of the baseball team, got a little closer to the summertime theme.

Worked on writing for a while. They pass through Coruscant City, a gloomy metropolis of gray cinder block apartment buildings and temple-like government buildings. Cassian manages to get them past the guards at the gates to the Coruscant Armory by passing them off as inspectors. He takes Jeanne (Jyn), Leia, Luke, Kay, and Harry into the village via a secret passage in the sub-basement.

Broke for dinner at 6. Had shrimp and leftover asparagus and corn while watching Recess: School's Out. All of the kids at the Third Street School are also off to camp for the summer, except TJ Detwiller. He accidentally stumbles onto a conspiracy when he passes the school and notices a green light. Turns out the light is a laser being built in the school's auditorium by a former politician who also happens to be an ex-Third Street principal. He wants revenge on the school and on current Principal Prickley in the worst eliminating summer vacation and forcing the kids into year-round school. TJ calls the kids back first to save their principal, then to save their beloved two months off. 

Enjoyable ode to summer was a surprise hit in 2001. In fact, it was a bigger hit that year than Disney's "canon" release, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Like that movie, it's equally forgotten nowadays. If you love the show Recess or the late 60's rock that makes up the soundtrack, you may have just as much fun as I do with this one.

Moved onto Meatballs while making Berry-Chocolate Chip Muffins. We head to another summer camp, this one in Canada in 1979. Camp North Star is filled with misfit counselors-in-training and wacky counselors like Tripper (Bill Murray), who lives to break rules. He spends the summer chasing the head female counselor (Kate Lynch) and befriending a lonely camper (Chris Makepeace) during long morning jogs. The jogging comes in handy when North Star plays the rich camp across the lake Mohawk in their annual Olympiad and need someone to run the marathon.

Fairly typical teen comedy of its time (check out the short-shorts, tube socks, and Afros on everybody), enlivened by Murray's wisecracks and the touching relationship between Tripper and the kid. Enjoyable enough for fans of Murray or the slobs-vs-snobs comedies of the late 70's and 80's. 

Ended the night with more Mystery Science Theater 3000. Cave Dwellers is a fairly typical low-budget Conan/Red Sonya imitation of the 1980's. This is cheesy to the max and absolutely terrible, making all the wisecracks most welcome.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Independent Women

Began a cloudy and much cooler morning with a quick Superman short. Superman faces a "Showdown" when a crook dresses as him in order to steal jewels and valuables. After he strikes during an opera production, Superman swings into action!

I was woken up earlier than I planned by loud noises outside my window. They were finally starting to repave Manor Avenue. Half of it was being done even as I made my way down the sidewalk to West Clinton. After that, I was able to quickly ride to City Hall to lock the bike there. The bus showed up a few minutes later. There was a little traffic around some road repairs in Haddon Heights. Otherwise, the ride went quickly, and I was in Somerdale by 9:30.

It took me a few minutes to decide what movie to see, but I ended up choosing Ocean's 8. Since the movie wasn't starting until 10:15, I had a little time to use the bathroom and check out the lobby. The Pac-Man game is gone, so I tried the Jurassic Park shooting game instead. I have no idea how you play that. I pushed all the buttons that were on the controller, but I never seemed to hit any pterodactyls.

Ultimately opted to get to my seat early. Not only was it the first theater when you enter (which meant no wandering around in that maze of a building), but it was pretty much empty. There may have been one or two other people there the entire two hours.

Once again, I'm not going to give any plot details because of spoilers, but I really enjoyed this. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does have a terrific cast in gorgeous costumes having a great time. I especially liked the twist with whom the last member of the 8 turned out to be, and the camaraderie among the women as they plan their caper and get to know one another better. No wonder one of the ladies joined in simply because she thought they all looked like such great friends.

Critics have carped on the pedestrian plot...but really, if you're not into heist capers or the previous Ocean's films, this probably isn't for you. If you loved the other Ocean's films or other caper films, you're going to want in on this one as well.

(Incidentally, this isn't my first time seeing an Ocean's film in theaters. My then-boyfriend and I went to see the original Ocean's Eleven in January 2002 after a few too many people got drunk at my college graduation party and we decided the movies would be safer. We both had a great time and ended up loving it.)

Had lunch next-door at Applebee's. They were fairly quiet for the first Friday lunchtime of the summer for many local kids. The honey chicken tenders I had were sizzling hot, crunchy, and flavorful. The fries were perfectly salty. (And actually tasted pretty good with the honey sauce on them.) The French onion soup was delicious, smothered with a ton of broiled cheese on top. Had a huge "blondie" with vanilla ice cream, cream cheese icing, and pecans for dessert.

Didn't do too much after that. Checked Game Stop and Wal Mart for the Star Wars toys I'm still looking for. I just ended up buying deodorant from Wal Mart, and that mainly to make change. The bus was pretty late arriving, almost 15 minutes. By that point, it had finally begun to rain very lightly. I was glad to get on the bus as it made its way through the road work and down the White Horse Pike to Oaklyn.

As soon as I got home, I went right back out again, ignoring the light shower. By that point, the road was completely paved and finished. A few cars even passed me as I headed to the laundromat to finally get a rather large load done. I forgot the pen to write notes, so I read magazines while half-listening to soap operas and online video shows.

I tried to write after I got home, but I was tired from being jolted awake this morning and couldn't concentrate. Ended up playing more Lego Clone Wars while eating leftovers for dinner instead. Got three more pieces on "Grevious Intrigue" and four more on "Gungan General."

Finished the night with Charlie's Angels while I made Blueberry Oatmeal Bars, and later online. The 2000 version of the beloved 70's action show starts out more-or-less the same way the TV series did, with the three members of the Angels Private Detective Agency, tough Dylan (Drew Barrymore), genius ditz Natalie (Cameron Diaz), and wealthy and elegant Alex (Lucy Liu), taking an assignment to find a missing industrialist. Their unseen boss Charlie (voice of John Forsythe) believes software creator Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell) has been kidnapped by Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), the owner of a communications company. With the help of Charlie's assistant Bosley (Bill Murray), the trio set out to find him, and later to retrieve his voice-recognition software. But there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than they think...and it all leads back to their mysterious boss.

This is another movie I saw in the theater with my boyfriend in college. We loved it then - I even gave it a glowing review in Stockton's school paper - and I still love it. This is such a fun flick. The spoofs are hilarious, the soundtrack is awesome, and everyone is having a great time. Bill Murray hadn't been this funny in years. Some of the slow-mo action sequences that were in style in the late 90's-early 2000's look a little dated now. Not all of the jokes land, and others require you to know the original show or other action shows from the late 70's-80's.

I hear there may be a remake or reboot in a few years...and if they can make it as enjoyable as this one, I'm all for it. If you love the cast, action films with strong heroines, or ones that are more comedy than action, you'll want to check this one out.

Oh, and the rain did pick up around the time I was baking cookies. It's been off and on the rest of the night. I hope it's not too bad tomorrow. I want to hit the farm market and bring some donations to the thrift shop.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Welcome to Summer

It was raining lightly when I woke up this morning. I checked out the fly situation, then ate breakfast while watching seasonal Silly Symphonies in honor of the first day of summer. "Summer" was the sixth Silly Symphony, and one of the simplest. Like the spring short, it's pretty much animals dancing and eating each other in time to classical music. "Playful Pan" has the little faun helping the animals when the woods nearly burn down. "Bugs In Love" is the last black-and-white Silly Symphony, and one of the earliest to depict small characters fighting off a larger creature. In this case, the title bugs help two romantically-inclined ladybugs scare away a crow.

Worked on writing for an hour or so after breakfast. Leia and her friends are introduced to the rest of the crew. Bodhi Rook had lived in Jedha, one of the countries in North Africa that the Empire bombed. He worked for them, but ultimately defected and joined the rebel underground. Asians Baze and Chirrut joined after the Empire destroyed their temple.

Broke for a quick lunch at quarter of 1. Finished out the summer-themed Silly Symphonies while I ate and got organized. "Frolicking Fish" is just that - fish dancing in time to music. "Night" is similar, only this time with nocturnal creatures.

Headed out at quarter after 1. I got into Haddonfield for this month's counseling just in time. In good news, I've been getting more hours, and other than the bobbles with the King of Prussia Mall trip, Lauren and I had a great time when she visited last month. However, I'm broke again. I overspent on my birthday and lost most of my food stamps. Not to mention, I'm worried about both of my dads. Dad-Bill in particular doesn't sound great.

At the very least, Lauren and I aren't getting together this year until September. I have two and a half months to save money for vacation. In addition to upcoming 4th of July hours, I think I might talk to Dad and Jodie and see if I can do chores or housework to earn the money for the tickets and vacation, or if we could split it. I don't want to not go this year. First of all, this is my only real vacation away from Camden County. I don't even visit the family in Cape May much anymore. Second, Lauren and her parents look forward to my visit and have said that they'd be disappointed if I couldn't come.

I'm also hoping to try to get out a bit more this summer. The rule is, anything I go to has to be under 40 dollars, or better yet, free. There's a lot of inexpensive or free events, concerts, plays, shows, and fairs in the summer. Movies are cheap if you go in the early morning (as I discovered with Beauty and the Beast and Solo: A Star Wars Story) and lay off the concession junk food. A walk or ride to the local towns don't require much more than the cost of a soda and lunch.

(Incidentally, as for Solo not doing well...along with the problems usually sited - release date too close to the heavily contested Last Jedi, minimal marketing, a lot of competition - I've been wondering just whom Lucasfilm thought the audience for this was going to be. Most younger fans consider Han Solo to be a dead character, and many older fans have read the original books on Han and wouldn't dream of seeing anyone but Harrison Ford in the part.

That said, this and Rogue One were good movies, and I'm hoping Solo not doing as well as they'd hoped won't put Lucasfilm off the Anthology movies all together. A lot of people still want to see that Kenobi movie. Boba Fett is one of my least-favorite major characters, but he doesn't have a lot of back story, either, and they might actually be able to do some fun things with him.

I've said for a while that Lucasfilm needs to realize that they're not Marvel. The Star Wars films are complex creatures, and they need time to germinate. They should still release Episode 9 next year, then maybe take a year or two off to really develop all the movies and TV shows they supposedly have in production, including a cartoon series about the Resistance, at least two more non-Skywalker trilogies, and a TV show focusing on the Star Wars underworld.)

Mrs. Stahl let me get away with paying her 10 dollars co-pay, instead of the usual long as I put the remaining 10 away for savings, in my savings accounts or an envelope. I put it in one of my savings accounts. If it's actual, physical money, I'll spend it.

By the time I headed out around 3, the sun was out, the clouds were fleeing, and it was turning into a gorgeous day. Rode over to the Haddon Township Library to return my DVDs and do a little volunteering. I just put away the children's DVDs. There were a ton of those as it was, and they had another volunteer shelving the adult titles. Along with more The Lion Guard and He's a Bully, Charlie Brown, I grabbed some new releases. They had Paddington 2 in, a new PBS version of Little Women, and another Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, The Undead.

Went back to Westmont to take a look at their Summer Solstice Festival. There were plenty of food trucks and craft booths, along with a stage featuring local jazz bands. A kid's area next to the Westmont Theater/Planet Fitness had a huge pirate ship-themed bounce house, carnival games, face painting, a woman dressed as Belle in a lovely yellow gown greeting eager children, and a beer garden for their parents. I bought two slices of pizza (at $4 for two slices, it was the cheapest food deal there) and enjoyed listening to the jazz band and a yoga instructor encourage everyone to breathe deeply and put out their summer ommms.

Made a quick stop at the Westmont Acme on Cuthbert after I left the block party. I couldn't put off buying bug spray until the next time I get to the Audubon Acme. The flies were too nasty. No wonder I got three days off - they were dead when I came in, and at rush hour, too. I got in and out with no trouble.

Had my snack, then rode across Newton Lake Park in search of the "Matrimonial Garden." It turned out to be the brick half-circle terrace near the playground across from the Parkview Apartments. There were two tents, one white, one pink, set up near and on the half-circle when I arrived. I locked my bike to a tree and settled down on a bench. Other folks sat in chairs, on blankets, or on lawn chairs in the park behind us. An online pamphlet for the Camden County Park System mentioned "Shakespeare In the Park," the only major event happening in Newton Lake this summer. Since it was free and I hadn't been to a play in years, I thought I'd check it out.

It turned out to be a performance of Twelfth Night. Viola and Sebastian are twins separated in a storm. Viola arrives in Illyria first and dresses as a young man named Cesario to work for the Duke Orsino. Orsino is in love with the fair Olivia, but she's in mourning for her brother and won't see anyone. Olivia falls for "Cesario" when she delivers Orsino's messages to her. It doesn't help that Viola has fallen for Orsino. When a pirate brings Sebastian ashore, his close resemblance to his twin muddies the lake waters even further. There's also a subplot involving Olivia's drunk uncle Sir Toby Belch and his buddy Sir Andrew Agacheek making the pompous Malvolio believe Olivia's in love with him, with the help of Olivia's lady-in-waiting Maria.

I loved it. A park with a lake running through it turned out to be an ideal setting for this particular show. Characters made their entrances by real water, in a real row boat. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and fellow servant Fabian hid behind real trees and audience members when Malvolio arrived to read their fake love letter. Characters watched the action from the park with the audience. It was a lot of fun. Special kudos to the guy who played Sir Toby. He was absolutely hilarious, and had a gorgeous deep voice to boot. Wasn't as impressed with the girl who played the fool Feste. She mess up some lines, and her singing voice wasn't that great.

It had turned into an absolutely gorgeous night, windy and cooler with a few clouds. The sun was just starting to slip behind the horizon as I returned to Oaklyn. Treated myself to a mint chocolate chip water ice from Phillies Yummies. Whew, was that minty! Clear-my-sinuses minty. Very minty and very green, with real chocolate chips. I enjoyed my treat while watching people stroll back from Tonewood Brewery and Phillies Phatties.

Finished the night at home, watching The Undead. This one skips way ahead to Season Eight, one of the later Mike seasons. While Tom Servo is declared a genius, the trio watch a Roger Corman movie from 1956 about a prostitute being regressed to her past life, a woman accused of witchcraft. The man who sent her back travels into the past to save her and see history change...but if she doesn't die, her future selves will. The movie itself was cheap but oddly interesting, with it's unique past-life medieval plot, even if it does look cheap as heck. (However, the only "undead" are three dancers towards the middle of the film who more closely resemble modern dancers than any current ideas of zombies.)

The Undead (Annotated)

(Oh, and I did spray not only the front window, but around all the windows in the living area I could reach to do so. Seems to have worked, at least for now. The flies are gone.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bugged Out

Kicked off a cloudy morning with more Sailor Moon.  The girls enjoy a college dance with Mamoru in "Destined Partners? Makoto's Innocence." Makoto dances with what she thinks is the man of her dreams. She's so crazy about him after just a few minutes, she refuses to leave the auditorium, even after he goes off and dances with other girls. Usagi and the others are concerned about her...but their concern turns into shock and anger when it turns out to be a Black Moon Circus plot.

Today was my 8 and 1/2 hour shift at work. I wasn't looking forward to it. Thankfully, the first half was pretty quiet. I mostly did returns and baskets, occasionally going outside to do carts when those would get low. It was so dead this morning, I didn't really have to do it that often. It did get a little annoying later when people would tell me to do one thing, then call me to do another before I was finished with the first thing. I did end up in the register twice, but only momentarily until the next cashier arrived or came back from their break. I was almost late because they wanted me to try to figure out which bottle in a pack of 24 was leaking.

(At least the weather was slightly better. While it was killer humid, it wasn't as warm as yesterday, and the wind was nice and cool. The clouds were in and out through most of the morning before vanishing all together by mid-afternoon.)

Bought a pack of cookies for a snack, then rushed home as fast as I could. Attacked the flies in the window when I got in. For some reason, most of the windows in the living room were swarming with flies this morning, and the one in the living area next to the door still was at 6. I think the screen window on that one came open just a bit...enough to let insects in. I'll see if I can get insect spray tomorrow or Friday.

Ate dinner while playing Lego Clone Wars. Further exploration of the Sith ship revealed a third "mission select" console, two consoles that allow you to purchase ships, a few more characters (including General Grievous), and two more red bricks (one gives all Jedi and Sith two lightsabers; the other gives them all Dark Force powers, regardless of whether they're a Jedi or Sith). Re-played "Innocents of Ryloth" and "Victory at Ryloth" and did "Shadow of Malevolence." Got all but one piece on the first, all but two pieces on the second, and five out of ten on the third.

Finished the night with Queen of the Desert. Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman) is a bored socialite looking to do more with her life than attend another ball. She joins her uncle in Tehran...and falls in love with both the desert life and an employee of the embassy, Henry Cadogan (James Franco). Her parents don't approve of the match at all, especially since Cadogan is poor. He responds badly by taking his life. Bell soldiers on, continuing as an explorer, writer, and archaeologist for the rest of her life. She never marries, though she does have a brief relationship with T.E Laurence (Robert Pattison).

A disappointment. This sand-scoured soap opera was deadly dull. While Kidman, Franco, and Pattison are fine as Bell and the men in her life, I would have loved to have seen more action and less talk. This is all right if you really love the cast or want to hear the story of a remarkable woman, but those looking for Indiana Jones/ Amelia Peabody-style heroics will want to go elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Want to Be Happy

Started off the morning with a quick breakfast and the 1971 revival of the 20's musical No No, Nanette (or at least what I could hear of it over Charlie and one of his men cleaning the other side of the roof). This summertime tale tells of the young lady of the title (Susan Watson), whose bible-selling guardian Jimmy (Jack Gilford) is supporting three beautiful women. His lawyer Billy (Bobby Van) recommends he run to Philadelphia, but they end up at his cottage in Atlantic City instead. Nanette wants to go too, and is thrilled when Jimmy gives her the money for the trip. Her boyfriend Tom isn't, and breaks off their relationship. They make up, only to break off again when Tom figures out what she's up to in AC. Meanwhile, Billy and Jimmy's wives Sue (Ruby Keeler) and Lucille (Helen Gallagher) aren't happy, either, when they find out about Jimmy's proteges; Lucille's threatening divorce. Now the ladies have to figure out just who did what in Atlantic City...

This is a lot more innocent than it sounds from my plot description. While we can't see the Tony-award-winning costumes and choreography, we can hear some wonderful standards, including "I've Confessed to the Breeze," "Tea for Two," and "I Want to Be Happy," along with a lovely song that was added to but ultimately cut from the revival, "Only a Moment Ago."

Spent the next hour or so writing. Everyone heads off to change into Imperial uniforms. Jeanne (Jyn), Cassian, and Kay will lead Han, Luke, Leia, and Benton through the Coruscant Armory. Jeanne's father designed it, and it's filled with tunnels and secret passages for easy access. Charrel (Chewbacca) will stay with Chirruit, Baze, and Bodhi as they cover them and record sensitive information from Tarkin's files.

Broke for an early lunch at 11. "Juban Holiday: The Carefree Princess" is a Sailor Moon riff on Roman Holiday. Princess Rubina of Amethyst runs away from her caretakers for a day on the town in Tokyo. She encounters Usagi and Chibi-Usa during one of their usual tiffs and tries to help. The girls are curious, especially after they encounter her again during a local carnival. They're not the only ones who are interested in the wayward royal. Hawk's Eye is after her dream mirror...but he's going to have to get through two Moons and a Tuxedo Mask to get to it.

Work was a bit of a pain. There was a call-out, and another cashier went home early, complaining about her toe being numb. I got stuck in the register for an hour and a half until the afternoon shift came in, and then later when a cashier went on break. Maybe it's just as well that it was so dead, there wasn't much to do anyway. When I wasn't on the register, I mostly bagged and gathered carts and baskets. It was cloudy this morning; by the time I was getting carts, it was sunny, hazy, and humid. The heat wasn't quite as bad as yesterday, though, and the wind was much cooler.

Played more Lego Clone Wars while eating leftovers for dinner. Finally got through "Castle of Doom," and yes, you do get the MegaGuard if you win it. Re-did two rounds; picked up three more pieces on "Defenders of the Peace" and two more on "Duel of the Droids."

Finished the night with more Mystery Science Theater 3000. Traded extremely 50's schlock for extremely mid-60's schlock with Village of the Giants. A group of spoiled and rebellious teens steal the growth formula a local kid (Ron Howard) created. When they grow to giant size, they terrorize the town. At the very least, we got a nice cast in this one, with a post-Disney Tommy Kirk as the boyfriend of the kid's sister, a young Beau Bridges as the leader of the rebel youths, and singer and dancer Toni Basil as a friend of Kirk's.

Village of the Giants (Annotated)

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Guy, the Robots, and the B-Movies

Began a hazy, sunny morning with breakfast and Rick Steves' Europe. We head up to the nice, cool Alps for a trip through the Swiss countryside. Rick checks out a small country school and fire department and a lovely resort, and headed up way into the mountains to admire a glistening waterfall.

Spent the rest of the morning writing and trying to drown out Charlie, who chose a 95-degree day to wash debris off the roof and cursed a blue streak over it. The hanger is the headquarters of the Coruscant Underground, a rebel group. Harry recognizes Cassian Andorez, a former freedom fighter in the Spanish Civil War. Jeanne introduces them to Kay Toonby, who had been a scholar studying in Spain before his university was bombed, then worked for the Coruscant government before joining the rebels, and gentle rebel defector and explosives specialist Bodhi Rook. Ben Kenton is happy to be reunited with an old friend from the Great War, Saw Gerrera.

Broke for lunch and to get ready for work at 1. The Sailor Guardians prepare for summer with a day at the beach in the fourth season episode "Shining Summer Days: Ami Under the Sea Breeze." While the girls have fun in the sun, Usagi's little brother Shingo develops a crush on Ami. Tiger's Eye is after her dream mirror and tries to get rid of the boy. Ami rescues Shingo from drowning, but it'll take a concentrated effort of all the Sailor Guardians to get rid of Tiger's Eye and his bomb-throwing circus monster.

Work was actually pretty quiet for most of the day. It was hazy, hot, and humid. This was not a great afternoon for running around. I'd do carts, then go inside and gather baskets or shelve items when it got to be too much. Bagged around 4 when rush hour kicked in, then went back outside. There were no major problems whatsoever (other than the heat wave), and I was in and out.

Had leftovers while playing Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars. I finally looked up how to get to the Sith ship online. You have to go downstairs to the hanger with the vehicles, select one, hop in, and drive it to the ship across the way. It even opens up a new mission, "Castle of Doom." Count Dooku has to get Jabba the Hutt's son back from the Jedi with the help of droid bounty hunter Robonino. Since you have the option of buying Dooku in the Separatist hanger, I'm assuming the round gives you Robonino. Unfortunately, I just can't figure out "Castle of Doom." The first time glitched and I couldn't use Dooku mid-way through the round. The second and third times, I messed up and couldn't get the pieces I needed. I'll try again next time.

Finished the night with more Mystery Science Theater 3000. King Dinosaur actually has nothing to do with dinosaurs. Four scientists (two male, two female) find themselves stranded on an unknown planet filled with absurdly large lizards. They make friends with a lemur, but the lizards are far less friendly! A lot of the running time is devoted to watching animals attack each other. The short in front of it, X Marks the Spot, is a driving safety film for the State of New Jersey. (Considering the way people drive around here and how boring the short is, I don't know how effective it was.)

Jungle Goddess is slightly more interesting. Two men (future Superman George Reeves and former Dick Tracy Ralph Byrd) are searching for a lost heiress in the Amazon jungles. They find her among the natives, who think she's a goddess. One kills a warrior and is sentenced to die before his buddy and the Jungle Goddess and her friend help him out. But he has his own plans for the duo. This also included the first chapter of The Phantom Creeps, a Bela Lugosi serial.

These are Season 2 episodes, when Joel and the robots were just getting started. I slightly preferred the jokes about the giant lizards in King Dinosaur, but if you love the early episodes of this show, they're both fun.

King Dinosaur
Jungle Goddess

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Began a hazy, hot morning with a few short stories and poems from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. The first piece, about a little girl whose father takes her outside to enjoy the summer evening to tire her out, was really lovely. "Mr. Chairman," a chapter from Cheaper By the Dozen, depicts how Mr. Gilbreath tries to enforce his methods of efficiency at the factory at home with his children, with often humorous results.

Put on the soundtrack from Popeye while having blueberry pancakes for breakfast. The 1981 musical adaptation features a perfectly-cast Robin Williams as Popeye looking for his dad again, with Shelly Duvall as his Olive Oyl. Harry Nillson's score is actually quite good. I like Popeye's opening "I Yam What I Yam," Olive's "He Needed Me" on her feelings for Popeye, and the touching "Din' We" (the last of which was unfortunately cut from the film).

Did some quick writing after breakfast. They arrive at a seemingly abandoned hangar, only to discover that it's really teaming with life. Brit Jeanne Erson's father was forced to work for the Coruscant Empire. He built their Armory with a few little quirks and tunnels that would make it easier to invade. She introduces them to her darkly handsome Spanish partner Cassian Andorez.

Had a quick lunch, then got ready for work while listening to the soundtrack from Pennies From Heaven. I haven't seen this depressing musical since I was a kid. A sheet music salesman in the Great Depression imagines his life as cheery musical interludes, based after the optimistic songs he pushes. It's is really anything but as his wife and business fails and his affair with a schoolteacher (Bernadette Peters) makes both their lives miserable. Thankfully, the music reflects none of this. It actually features a lot of songs from this era that have since been forgotten, like "Love Is Good for Anything That Ails Ya" and "The Clouds Will Soon Roll By."

Work was steady, a bit surprising for a holiday Sunday. I figured we'd be packed. People must still be at the Shore. It was busy enough to have a hard time keeping up with the carts. Good thing we had plenty of new help, both inside and out. While it was in the lower 90's today and the breeze had turned warm, it at least remained dry. I gathered baskets and did returns when the sun got to be too much.

I ran into Dana just as I arrived at work. I'd been wondering if Dad and Jodie had anything planned for Father's Day. Turned out Jodie was just tossing hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. As soon as I got home, I changed and went right back out again. This wasn't one of their huge blow-outs. It was just Rose and her kids (Craig had to work), a couple of neighborhood kids, Dana, Jesse, Dad, and Jodie. I had two hot dogs, a burger, garlic asparagus, and roasted potatoes while chatting with everyone and watching the wide-eyed Finley enjoy her hot dog. Later, I went outside to the pool to watch the kids play and chat with Dad.

As soon as I got in, I talked to Dad-Bill. He didn't sound so good, and he did say he wasn't feeling well. He was spending his Father's Day resting at home. We didn't do much talking, just long enough for me to wish him the best of the day and hope that he feels better soon.

Spent the rest of the night on the computer. Lauren was online early to watch wrestling with her folks. I settled for another Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie, The Lost Continent. Caesar Romero headlines this 1951 fantasy adventure as the head of a group of military men who are downed on a remote island and spend the majority of the movie climbing up...and up...and up a mountain before finally bagging a few dinosaurs. Joel and the robots' commentary was most welcome here. This pedestrian tale lacked even the creepiness of The Mad Monster or the goofy excitement of Radar Men From the Moon and needed all the pop culture jokes it could get.

The Lost Continent

And I salute all dads (including ones whose children are four-legged or feathered) on this Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Harvests and Yard Sales

I awoke to a glorious, brilliant blue and breezy June morning. Got a quick start with a classic black-and-white Popeye short. Popeye travels to "Goonland" to rescue his missing father. He defeats the Goons, very tall and strong creatures and frees Pappy...but the old man may not entirely appreciate it.

Headed off as soon as the short ended. I mainly wanted to check out the Collingswood Farm Market. I haven't gotten there since Lauren and I were on vacation. They were swarming with people by quarter of 10 who were looking for produce for their Father's Day and graduation barbecues. The first round of the summer harvest has debuted. Strawberries and spinach are gone, but I saw the first blueberries, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cherries, patty pan squash, and peas of the year. I grabbed mushrooms, blueberries, two small yellow squash from the organic booth, and my favorite snap peas.

The other big event going on today was Oaklyn's Town-Wide Yard Sale. I wish I'd gotten out a little earlier and given myself more time to look around. As it was, what I found was disappointing. Oaklyn is mainly families and elderly couples. There were lots of children's clothes and toys for young children and vintage knick-knacks, but nothing that interested me. Even the Oaklyn Library Book Sale was a bust. Most of the books were the usual worn paperback copies of the usual bestsellers by the same few authors.

One family had a pile of unique vintage Christmas ornaments in a box labeled "free." I found a cute porcelain snowman and a tiny broom with a holiday corsage like the one Mom had on our tree when I was little. Picked up Major League, Charlie's Angels, and Vegas Vacation on DVD at a house less than a block from my apartment.

I got in so late, I barely had the time to put everything away, eat lunch, change, and pack a snack for work. Not to mention, most of Manor Avenue is still a mess. They haven't repaved it yet. I tried to stay on the sidewalk as I rushed to work.

As it turned out, the rush was completely unnecessary. They had tons of help on a day that was mildly steady when I arrived. Though I did do the inside trash, mop the bathrooms, clean up a small soda spill, and helped with the carts and baskets, I spent most of the afternoon returning loose items and trying to look busy. I'm guessing everyone decided they wanted to spend a beautiful Father's Day weekend down at the Shore.

It was such a lovely evening, I took the long way home down Nicholson and Atlantic. It was worth dodging the late rush hour traffic. The day was gorgeous, hot but not outrageously so for mid-June, windy, and dry as a bone. Everything is so bright and green now! Lawns are growing faster than people can keep up with them; roses, peonies, and tiger lilies bloom in gardens. Sweet clover is scattered around fields like tiny white stars.

When I got home, I decided I'd try putting in the air conditioner. It's supposed to get in the 90's starting tomorrow. My apartment is on the second floor, and despite the abundant shade, it gets really hot up here in the summer. It's not a big air conditioner, and I actually didn't have any problems getting it from the back room to the living area near my table. Getting it into the window was another thing entirely. I spent ten minutes trying to steady it in the apartment before it fell out of the window. It landed on the ladder Charlie left on the porch. It and I were fine, but it made enough noise that Richard came up to see what the commotion was about. By that point, I'd gone outside and had managed to steady it the other way. I did get one side screwed down, but was having trouble with the other side. Richard was able to get that one.

(He suggested letting it sit for an hour before I used it. I think I'll start it tomorrow. The wind is still cool enough for me to leave the windows open one more night.)

Made Tuna Casserole in a pan for dinner while watching more Popeye and Pappy shorts in honor of Father's Day tomorrow. "My Pop, My Pop" wants to help build a boat, but he keeps falling asleep. Popeye figures out how to get the boat together without hurting his father's pride. "With Poopdeck Pappy" and "Problem Pappy" are variations on the same story. Pappy wants to go out and have fun, but Popeye keeps reminding him of his age. Pappy manages to give him the slip every time, whether he's fleeing from his bed or sitting on a flag pole. Pappy's not feeling well and needs "Quiet, Please!" Popeye proceeds to silence every noise in the city so his dad can sleep.

Finished the night after a shower with Ferdinand. Ferdinand (John Cena) is a gentle bull who would rather smell flowers and contemplate nature than fight a matador in the ring. Most bulls think it's their lot in life to fight and consider it an honor, but Ferdinand is soured on the whole deal after his father dies during a bull fight. He runs away from the bull breeding ranch where he was raised and winds up at flower farm, where he becomes the beloved pet and friend of little Nina (Julia Saldanah). An accident with a bee makes him go on a rampage that destroys half the town. He's sent back to the ranch, where everyone is convinced he's a fighter...except the other bulls, who still think he's a coward and a sissy. A goofy goat (Kate MacKinnon) tries to train him to fight, but she gives up on it when she realizes that he's just not the aggressive type. Ferdinand is determined to release all of the bulls from the farm and from the slaughterhouse. Even when he lands in the ring, he still wants to show that fighting isn't always the answer. Sometimes, it's nice to just stop and smell the flowers.

It's too bad the story is so cliched, because there's some interesting commentary here on being yourself and how aggressiveness and fighting isn't always the answer. Star wrestler Cena was all right as Ferdinand; MacKinnon had more fun as Lupe, the chatty goat who acts as Ferdinand's coach and best friend. Look for other athletes in smaller roles, including quarterback Peyton Manning as Guapo, one of the bulls at the ranch.

I don't know if this would have been nominated for an Oscar in a stronger year. I do know that this is a very sweet movie under all the goofy gags that's worth a look if you have kids who love animals or stories of other lands.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Cockeyed Optimist

I was in bed reading The Truce at Bakura this morning when the phone rang. It was one of the managers at the Acme. Could I come in from 12 to 4? They had to move a bagger to cashiering. Sure, why not? It was only four hours and bagging, and I had been planning on going to the Acme to get my grocery shopping done anyway.

Had a really quick breakfast and got ready to go while watching The Lion Guard: Ready to Roar. Kion is Simba's son, and the younger brother of Kiara, the cub who first appeared in the direct-to-DVD sequel The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride. He's considered to be a bit of a goofball...until he lets out a tremendous roar to scare off hyenas who are trying to attack his friend Bunga. Rafiki reveals that the roar means he's the head of the Lion Guard, the defenders of the Pride Lands. Simba's not too sure about this. The last head of the Lion Guard was Scar, and he ended up disbanding the guard and losing his power when he used it for evil. There's also the fact that up until now, all the Guards have always been lions, but Kion rounds up a wide variety of animal friends to help him. Simba tells him he's not taking his new responsibilities seriously. Kion becomes determined to prove that lions aren't the only animals who can kick rear...and he can be just as responsible as the next Pride Lander.

I'm not the biggest fan of The Lion King. It's a beautiful movie that I like a lot, but I don't have the same attachment to it that many people, particularly those who grew up when it was huge in the mid-90's, do. That said, while this was no world-changer, it was cute and fun to watch. It actually reminded me a little bit of Sailor Moon, with it's multi-faceted group that revolves around different attributes. Bunga, the adopted nephew of Timon and Pumbaa, was especially funny.

Not too bad if you're a huge Lion King fan or have kids who are; pleasant time-waster for anyone else.

Work...was dead for most of the day. It got a little steady around 1, then went right back to being dead. The manager who called me in said it was packed this morning when everyone was leaving for their houses at the Shore, which is the other reason she called people in. It probably wasn't necessary. I spent almost the entire four hours shelving a full cart of candy. I finished the whole cart with few interruptions besides a break and shelving a couple of cold items, which should tell you how dead it was. At least it'll help my paycheck next week.

Speaking of next week, I'm not overly happy with my schedule. While I do have three days off in a row again, that first day isn't until Thursday. There's also another annoying 8 and 1/2 hour day on Wednesday and slightly less hours than I have been getting.

Grocery shopping went a little better. I had a good online coupon for the Acme's generic premium ice cream, and it was already on sale. I went with the light Mocha Almond Fudge. Used another online coupon to get the Belvita Breakfast Cookies a little cheaper; went with Cinnamon Brown Sugar.  Picked up a two-pound container of strawberries as part of a big weekend sale. Restocked skim milk, yogurt, bananas, flour, brown sugar, ground turkey, tuna, the Nature Valley sandwich cookies for snacks this week (it's going to get too hot to bake), diced tomatoes, and black beans.

Worked on a little bit of writing when I got home. When the others return to the hotel they're staying at, Harry tries testing a theory. He attempts to make a gate move with his mind...but when he does, he dismisses it as the wind, despite it not being windy.

They arrive at an abandoned hanger just outside of Coruscant City a few days later. Jeanne Erson and her lover and partner Cassian Andorez meet them there. They're members of the British and Spanish undergrounds respectively, and they and their team will help them get into Coruscant to find the Sword of Light.

Broke for dinner at 7. Had leftovers while playing more Lego Clone Wars. I'm still not getting too far. Got one more piece and a ton of studs on "Ambush!" and "Liberty on Ryloth." I really need to find the Bounty Hunter and Sith characters!

Finished the night with the 1958 version of South Pacific. Other than some of the music and scenes have been switched around, this is pretty much the same deal as the Broadway show. The planter de Becque (Rossano Brazzi) falls in love with Nellie Forbush, a nurse (Mitzi Gaynor), when they're stationed on a remote tropical island during World War II. Meanwhile, the much younger Lieutenant Joseph Cable (John Kerr) comes to love native beauty Liat (France Nuyen). Both romances are initially derailed due to Joe and Nellie's inborn southern prejudices. Nellie is able to overcome hers eventually. Cable is not, and is killed during a mission with de Becque.

This one has the opposite problem from Paint Your Wagon. For all that movie's poor casting and confusion over what it is, exactly, it was at least lively. South Pacific has every single song from the original show (and even restored a song for Cable that had been cut from the Broadway version, "My Girl Back Home") and beautiful, real tropical scenery, but it all feels stiff and dull. Gaynor and Ray Walston as one of the sailors were pretty much the only major cast members who weren't dubbed. For some reason, they even dubbed Juanita Hill, who played Bloody Mary just fine with her own voice onstage. And there's those infamous color filters director Joshua Logan used to supposedly "heighten" the effectiveness of the musical numbers that end up being a distraction instead.

Despite this topping the box office in 1958, it's my least-favorite Rogers and Hammerstein film (along with Carousel). If you really love their work or the cast, it's worth seeing once if you can ignore the filters and the stagy stiffness.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dolls On a Sunny Day

Kicked off a gorgeous, sunny morning with breakfast and a classic Looney Tunes short in honor of Flag Day. Porky dreams that Uncle Sam teaches him about the importance of the American flag and the Declaration of Interdependence in the unusually realistic "Old Glory." This was one of Chuck Jones' earlier Disney-like shorts, and shows a lot of rotoscoping - tracing actual footage of people for use on-screen. It's almost cheesily sincere today. Warners even apparently released it right before the 4th of July.

After breakfast, I baked Blueberry Muffins and put the summer sheets on my bed. Ran Paint Your Wagon while I did my chores. Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin) discovers gold when he's burying the dead brother of a young prospector he just calls Pardner (Clint Eastwood). Their discovery brings other miners, who create "No-Name City," a mining town. When they realize there's no women in town, they convince a Mormon (John Mitchum) to auction off one of his wives, Elizabeth (Jean Seaburg). A drunken Ben is the accidentally winner. He builds Elizabeth a house at her request, and when he gets tired of the other miners eyeing her, helps them kidnap a load of French prostitutes. Elizabeth falls for Pardner...but she likes Ben, too. They just decide to live together, and are happy for a while, until Ben realizes how much three people eat. He hatches a plan with Pardner and some of the other miners to tunnel under the city and bring up the gold dust that's falling through the cracks in the saloons. Meanwhile, a fiery preacher (Alan Dexter) is convincing the locals that the town is nothing but sin and vice, and the farmers moving in are making Elizabeth have second thoughts about the marital arrangement.

I'm not sure what to think of this one. I know a lot of people complain about Eastwood and Martin's lack of singing pipes, but in all honesty, their voices suit the characters. There's some wonderful musical numbers, including Harve Presnell (as gambler Rotten Luck Willie) singing a knockout "They Call the Wind Mariah," the preacher's rip-roaring "Gospel of No-Name City," and Martin and the chorus' touching version of "Wanderin' Star." ("Wanderin' Star" actually wound up being a #1 novelty hit in England and Australia.) There's some nice cinematography, too, especially in the first half. The idea of the initial conflict being settled by them becoming a trio is actually rather interesting and unique.

I just wish the movie had the courage to follow up on its convictions. The world wasn't ready for a western threesome in 1969. In fact, I don't think the movie quite knew what it wanted to be. Eastwood and Seaburg are playing a musical romance, the cinematography shows a gritty western, and Martin seems to think he's back in Cat Ballou. Eastwood was stiff and dull, and Seaburg only slightly better. Martin and the supporting cast - including genuine singers Presnell and Ray Walston - seem to have wandered in from another movie entirely. The sequence with the Mormon and the wife auction feels awkward and a little sexist (even if Elizabeth did agree to it of her own free will), and the incident with the prostitutes isn't much better. There's also the fact that very little besides the Mormon auction, the gold rush theme, and a few characters and songs remain from the original 1953 Broadway show. The ending, with the town falling into the sinkholes Ben and his men created, is weird and anti-climatic.

Homer and Bart Simpson aren't the only ones who were confused. People who come to see Eastwood and Martin and are expecting a dark, bloody western get a (mostly) goofy musical. On the other hand, I know a lot of adults who grew up in the late 60's and 70's and loved this movie, and it did end up being a surprise hit in 1969 (even if it couldn't make it's bloated costs back). This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" movie. I say, unless you really love the cast or composers Lerner and Lowe or have fond memories of it, look up "They Call the Wind Mariah" and "Wanderin' Star" online and skip the rest.

Dressed the dolls during the second half of Paint Your Wagon. Temperatures are supposed to hit the upper 90's by next week. Time to change the girls into cooler outfits for early summer. Samantha wears her frilly pink and lavender Ice Cream Dress with the pearly-lavender boots. Molly's in her Birthday Pinafore and white t-strap shoes from the Polka-Dot Outfit. Jessa is in (Ivy's) terry cloth Rainbow Romper and the purple jelly sandals from the 90's Birthday Outfit. Put Felicity in a heavy white dress with blue roses I picked up from a booth at the Deptford Mall years ago. Josefina sports her lovely maroon and white Weaving Outfit and the "extra" moccasins she came in. Whitney's pastel polka-dot dress came from e-Bay; she wears yellow shoes from Kit's Scooter Outfit with it. Ariel gets to try on the travel-themed AG sundress Lauren gave me for Christmas last year.

Had a really quick lunch as soon as I finished with the dolls, then headed out. I wanted to get to the Haddon Township Library to return those DVDs and volunteer. At least it was a gorgeous day for a ride, sunny, windy, and warm but not hot or humid, probably in the lower 80's.

Surprisingly, considering the weather, the Haddon Township Library was busy when I arrived. It was after 3 - the kids must have just gotten out of school. Surprisingly, there weren't many DVDs to shelve. The kids' racks were overloaded. It's been too nice for people to be taking out movies. It's not going to stay nice, however, so I grabbed a couple of movies for me this week. Haven't seen Mystery Science Theater 3000 in years. They had two episodes - I went with "The Mad Scientist." Decided to try Queen of the Desert with Nicole Kidman and last year's animated version of Ferdinand. I liked Paint Your Wagon well enough to give another troubled film version of a Broadway hit, South Pacific, another chance.

Made a quick stop at Dollar Tree on the way home. I needed Father's Day cards and canned diced tomatoes for dinner. It was rush hour by the time I was there, and the lines were long. Thankfully, they opened a second register the minute after I got in line.

When I rolled in, I worked on writing for a little while. I'm returning to that 30's novel I started two years ago and have worked on off and on since. It's the fall of 1939. Ben Kenobi, a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Star, has just told his intern Luke Skylark and Luke's archaeologist twin sister Leia about the Force and how to use it to wield the Swords of Power. Harry Solomon, the cynical pilot who is taking them to the Empire to find the swords, scoffs at such "simple tricks and nonsense"...until he performs one himself.

Broke for black bean dip for dinner and to watch two episodes of Rick Steves' Europe. The next part of my story is set in the Fascist Empire country. It's fictional, but it has it's roots in Nazi Germany and other Fascist countries. I watched the episode on Berlin, which goes heavily into it's recent and Cold War history and on Normandy, with it's museum dedicated to the D-Day invasions.

Finished the night after a shower with the MS3K episode, the third episode of the original series, in fact. Actually, this was a two-for-one. I have to admit, I almost enjoyed the thrilling (if cheesy) Radar Men from the Moon serial episode more the main feature, The Mad Monster, which was the fairly standard story of a mad scientist who turns his dim-witted assistant into a werewolf, then has to convince everyone else that he's not off his rocker. This show is just as funny now as it was 20 years ago. I loved it so much, I looked up another one, a riff on the Italian sword-and-sandals fantasy film Hercules, after the other ended.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sweet Surprises

Unfortunately, the weather had reverted to cloudy and gloomy by the time I rolled out of bed this morning. Perked things up with breakfast and an episode of Sailor Moon. "For Love and for Justice: Sailor Guardians Once Again" has Usagi accompanying her best friend Naru to an audition for a TV show at a local station. Ironically, all of the former Sailor Guardians (who had their memories removed at the end of the previous season) are also there. Luna and Usagi were hoping that the others would be allowed to continue their normal life...but the arrival of their new alien enemies and a huge Minotaur monster may not give them that chance.

Called the dentist's office after breakfast to reschedule next Thursday's gum doctor appointment. I'm just not going to be able to afford it. For some reason, my first phone call got cut off. I got them the second time, but the receptionist was frankly a bit grumpy, and I ended up canceling instead of rescheduling.

Headed out to the laundromat as soon as finished breakfast. It was around quarter of 11 when I got in, and while there were a few people there, it wasn't that busy. Just as well. I had a really big load this week, including towels. Half-listened to Rachel Ray and The View and worked on story notes. The clouds were spitting a little when I headed home, but nothing really horrible.

Put everything away, then had lunch while watching Garfield and Friends. Garfield has to get Odie out of a pickle when he loses their grocery money to a crafty alley cat in "Pros and Cons." Roy thinks Orson wants to get his "Rooster Revenge" after he plays a prank on him. Orson gets Roy back in the most devious way possible - by not doing anything and letting him think he will. It's "Lights! Camera! Garfield!" when the fat cat is discovered by a big director. He thinks he's on his way to stardom! He's actually the stunt cat. After one crazy stunt too many, Garfield decides to get even.

Switched to the first season finale of Wonder Woman as I finally got to dusting. "Wonder Woman In Hollywood" takes Diana Prince to Tinsel Town, where Steve is joining other decorated army officers in making a big war film to boost morale. Meanwhile, Diana's younger sister Drusilla has come to California to bring her home to Paradise Island for a big anniversary. She befriends the youngest of the servicemen appearing in the film. But there's something not quite right about him...or about the movie, either. The servicemen are disappearing one by one. Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl have to figure out who's behind the sabotage, before their men disappear next.

Mrs. Stahl called while I was finishing the dusting. She was sick and wasn't going to be able to keep our appointment today. That was ok. We could do it on my now-cleared Thursday next week.

Put up the summer and patriotic decorations while the episode finished. I don't have a lot of decorations for the summer. There's a few sunflower-themed plaques, three stuffed flamingos, a stuffed whale and clown fish, a small sunflower vine wreath, and the glittery fish ornament I found last month. Have a few more all-American items - an American-themed Care Bear, two patriotic mini-Beanie Bears, a "God Bless America" banner, a big cardboard flags, large cloth and wood flags, a tall, rustic-looking Uncle Sam container, and three wood blocks with patriotic angels and the words letters "USA" on them.

Spent the rest of the afternoon finally finishing my story. Angry when Palpatine tells him that he turned his father King Josiah into a mouse and ate him, Han shoots an arrow into his eye. Amilyn and Wedge use a perfectly-reflected mirror to blind the other one. Palpatine gropes wildly...and comes up with Boba Fett, whom he eats in one gulp.

He grabs at Luke next, but Luke opts to try to heal him instead. His pure magic burns Palpatine's hands...and gives Leia the chance to power up her crystal sword with borrowed energy and stab him. Everyone flees downstairs as Palpatine's energy destroys the remains of his tower rooms.

Revealed to be the rightful prince, Han makes Leia his warrior queen. Luke opens a school for magicians. Chewbacca and Wedge's boys are the royal family's bodyguards. Jyn and her crew stay in the army, taking only the toughest missions. Mon Mothma and Bail are the new chancellors. The servants return to Alderaan with Bail, happy for peace and quiet once more. Lando heads to Cantino Bight to gamble and court the Princess Amilyn. Kanan becomes the royal blacksmith and he and Hera raise their family. There's some worry for the future when Leia has a baby boy they need Benjamin...but for now, it's happily ever after.

Whew! That took a LOT longer than I originally planned! I think I kind of lost interest at the end there when it got far more complicated than I wanted. Most of it came out pretty well, though.

Next up, I'll likely be returning to that 30's Original Trilogy novel I've worked on on and off for two years. I really want to finish that, especially since it's likely it'll be another long one.

For right now, here's Lady Leia and the Prince:

Lady Leia and the Prince at Archive of Our Own
Lady Leia and the Prince at
Lady Leia and the Prince at Writer's Desk at the Riverside

I'd been inside almost literally all day. I needed a stroll after a quick leftovers dinner. Headed around the corner to Phillies Yummies for dessert. Unlike Phillies Phatties, their prices remain the same (a little high but not untouchable). Ordered a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream. The girl on duty said it was her favorite flavor...and I can't blame her. Strawberry swirl in cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker pieces. Yum! It was so sweet and creamy! Someone's adorable Westie actually put her paws on my knee and tried to beg for ice cream. Sorry, human ice cream isn't good for dogs.

Finished the night with a walk around the neighborhood. Despite it being 8 PM at that point, there were quite a few people out and about, including kids on bikes and families pushing strollers. While summer isn't technically here for another week, Mother Nature is pretty much saying she's ready. Trees are lush and full; yards are growing like crazy, thanks to the rain last week. The first tiger lillies have begun to appear. Most houses are decorated with patriotic or Phillies banners, or just with their gardens. The clouds had begun to break up, showing a bit of a lovely gold and pink sunset.  A cool wind ruffled my curling pony tail as I headed home.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Art of Making Bad Movies

Started off the morning with one of the earliest Backyardigans episodes, "Knights are Brave and Strong." Queen Tasha sends Uniqua the Pink to deliver a message to King Austin. On the way, she encounters nervous Moose of the Mist Tyrone and Pablo, the Guardian of the Gate, and shows how strong she is when she figures out a way to get across a smelly swamp. If they can deliver the message, Uniqua and the guys will become knights, complete with feather-topped helmets.

Worked on writing for a few hours while Charlie fussed over the window behind me. Palpatine uses his newly-acquired magic to transform into an even more powerful dragon than before. He taunts the voiceless Han, telling him how he'd turned his father into a mouse and eaten him while in the form of a lion. Han tries to attack him, but Chewie gets there first, then the Ewoks attack him. They distract him long enough for Han to aim his bow and arrow at him...

Broke at 11 for lunch and to get ready for work. This time, the Backyardigans are on a "Secret Mission" to deliver an unusual object to the Treasure Museum. Tyrone, Uniqua, and Pablo have to work together to evade the security traps, and then figure out where the piece goes and how to make it stay there.

Work was quiet when I arrived, and wouldn't be even remotely busy until rush hour. While I did the trash inside and out early-on, gathered baskets, bagged briefly, and helped a nice couple get their two full carts to their car, I was mostly outside, pushing carts and enjoying the glorious weather. It was sunny and windy, with a cloudless bright blue sky. It was too nice for most people to spend the day shopping, or for me to spend the day inside. Besides, the head bagger was around for most of the day. I was only alone for the last hour and during her breaks.

It was also too nice for me to eat dinner at home. Besides, Charlie was still cursing and fussing over the window outside. I changed, got a quick drink of iced tea, grabbed my purse, and headed right back out again to have pizza at Phillies Phatties.

They'd changed a great deal since the last time I was there. The counter was now a fancy black granite and tile, and the walls had been painted bright Phillies red. While their pizza is still delicious (and their slices are huge), their prices have gone way up. A can of soda and two slices of pizza used to cost $3.50. My slice of pepperoni, slice of broccoli, and can of Cherry Vanilla Pepsi cost almost $6.50. This is likely to cover the cost of gourmet pizzas like chicken and broccoli drizzled with cheddar cheese. I'm disappointed. We have two perfectly good gourmet pizza places around here, and while they are cheaper than Tu Se Bella's, they're probably at least on a par with Cafe Antonio's. I think I'll eat at the much-cheaper Capitol Pizza from now on.

Played some Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars after I got in. Managed to get two more pieces on "Gungan General" and one on "Defenders of the Peace." (I finished the latter a little too quickly and didn't give myself the chance to explore further.) I need to look up how to find the Sith and Bounty Hunter characters. A lot of bonus areas with extra pieces require one of those types of characters to enter, and I just can't figure out how to get to the ship where the villains are.

Finished the night after a shower with The Disaster Artist. Tommy Wiseau (James Franco, who also directed) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) meet during an acting class in San Francisco. Neither are very good, but Greg admires how Tommy really digs into his parts. They end up going to LA to become movie stars...but Hollywood is less-than-interested in their (lack of) talents. Fed up with getting doors slammed in his face, Tommy opts to write and direct a movie of their own called The Room. He hires a full crew and even springs for expensive digital shooting. The shoot proves to be difficult, thanks to Tommy's paranoid and thoughtless behavior. He insults everyone around him, insists they're all against him, and even refuses to provide water for the cast and crew. Greg finally gets fed up and takes a role on a sitcom, to Tommy's dismay. Tommy does invite Greg to the first screening of their magnum opus. Audiences react with shock, then laughter...and Greg and Tommy end up laughing all the way to the bank as the movie becomes a surprise midnight cult favorite.

Let me start by admitting that I've never seen the infamous The Room. I never even heard of it until I read about this movie in Entertainment Weekly last year. I hope it's half as interesting as the movie based on its creation. Both Francos turn in excellent performances as guys who may not be great actors, or even great people, but have a great desire to get involved with movies no matter what. Lots of fun cameos, too - look for Sharon Stone as Greg's agent and Melanie Griffith as their acting coach in San Francisco, among others.

I'm not sure how well this will go over with people who aren't that into movies or making them. It did get an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. For lovers of unusual comedy, the real The Room, or movies about making movies, this look behind the scenes at one of the most bonkers films of the 21st century is worth checking out.