Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trick-or-Treat for Halloween

Began a gorgeous Halloween with breakfast and a couple of specials. "Spook-a-Nanny" was the only cartoon written directly for the original Woody Woodpecker Show. Woody wants to attend a Halloween party with Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, Wally Walrus, and other Universal animated alumni. His boss Walter Lanz keeps him blowing up balloons for most of the episode. When he finally gets to go, the others play pranks to keep him out. He finally gets in with a ghost rock group, but forgets that he can't walk through the walls like they can.

Switched to a couple of shorts while getting my laundry together and stripping the sheets on my bed. Woody gets "Witchy Crafty" when a witch comes to him at a broom factory to have the handle of her flying broom fixed. Woody does the job, but he won't give it to her when she refuses to pay. He does everything he can to keep her out until she pays what she owes him.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit also has a close encounter with a scary figure in "Spooks," a parody of The Phantom of the Opera. Ozzie's girl Miss Kitty (Ortensia) is Christine, whom the Phantom is enamored with. He gets her onstage, then takes off with her when she's a flop. Oswald goes after them, but the Phantom has a lot more tricks up his sleeve than the lovers think.

Tom of Tom & Jerry fame also encounters a witch in "The Flying Sorceress." Tired of having to clean up after his and Jerry's messes, he runs off to become the familiar of a witch. Her broomstick proves to be too great a lure. He takes it for a ride...but the witch isn't too happy about it when she catches him!

The laundromat was dead when I got in, not surprising for a gorgeous day and a holiday. Most people were probably at costume parties at work or school. Other than the sheets, I didn't really have a huge load, anyway. I worked on story notes while half-listening to the news and Days of Our Lives.

Put on Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special when I got home and folded my clothes and sheets. This is pretty much just a collection of bits from cartoons with a through-line of Witch Hazel chasing Bugs. At least we do get a few cartoons actually set at Halloween, including one where Witch Hazel thinks Bugs is a witch, and another where she turns Speedy Gonzoles into a copy of herself and he scares Daffy.

Moved to Halloween Hall of Fame while working on my own costume. Jonathan Winters hosts this vintage Disney special as a security guard on the studio lot who encounters a disgruntled jack-o'-lantern (also Winters) in the prop room. Seems Jack's hiding because he thinks Halloween isn't scary anymore. Winters shows Jack "Trick or Treat," "Pluto's Judgement Day," and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to prove otherwise.

I was a fairy godmother this year. (Or a tooth fairy, as one of the kids trick-or-treating called me. I can roll with that.) I wore the cream-colored crocheted dress I bought at Goodwill a few weeks ago over a white t-shirt and a slip. I never did find white shoes to go with the outfit and just wore my sneakers. Added wings and a wand with a star-shaped, glitter-covered piece of foam on a wooden dowel, along with a sequined star tiara I bought for a Halloween party in college. The sneakers aside, I think it actually came out pretty cute. I am so glad I found that dress. It's so pretty, and it was perfect for the outfit.

Headed over to Dad and Jodie's promptly at 3. Most of the kids didn't really start coming out until almost an hour later. We got quite a few trick-or-treaters this year, probably due to the gorgeous weather. It was blustery but warm, probably in the upper 60's. The kids didn't need sweaters or jackets over their costumes this year.

Some of the neighborhood kids were really cute. Emily was Apple White from Ever After High, and her sister Mary was a black cat. Chloe was a deer Enchantimal, and her brother Bree was a ghoul. Savannah was a crazy cat lady, with her hair in curlers and stuffed cats sewn to a comfy red and black-checked robe. Her older brother Ryan was a character from the online video game "Fortnite." I saw Mario, a mini-Black Panther and Batman, another fairy in a rainbow tutu dress, a grouchy maiden in a velvet dress, a soldier, two Spongebob Squarepants, a nifty Maleficent who said she made her horns from aluminum foil, Dracula flourishing his cape, Princess Jasmine, Supergirl, Minnie Mouse, Iron Man, a small Spider Man, Thomas the Tank Engine, and a family with an infant Snow White, a dad Magic Mirror, a mom Evil Queen, and a boy ninja. Another family had a boy dressed as one of the scary animal characters from the video game Five Nights at Freddy's and a boy in a wheelchair who was a Minecraft character.

Rose showed up with Finley around 4:30-5. Finley was a ladybug in a frilly, poofy red and black dress. Her mother did her hair up in pigtails to look like feelers rather than make her wear the ones that came with the costume. She was too cute. Craig came around with Khai a bit later. Evidently, he was a character from Halo in a blue printed costume. Khai said he didn't feel good, especially his throat. Rose was worried that he had strep throat. I hope the sugar cookies I gave to him, his sister, and his parents cheered him up a little. (Dad and Jodie got cookies, too. I'll give most of the rest to Anny and her brood and Mom on Friday.)

We discussed Friday while eating quick tacos for dinner. It sounds like Dad and Jodie are going to drive me up there, drop me off at Mom's for a while to talk to her, then take me home after the memorial service. That's fine. I have work on Saturday and wasn't planning on staying overnight.

Went straight home after I left Dad and Jodie's. I was too jumpy to hang out long. I went to the bathroom, grabbed my orange Ann Taylor cardigan, and went back out to walk around before the parade started. I discovered, to my annoyance, that sometime between giving out candy and coming home, my right wings had started to come off and were sagging dreadfully, probably from having been blown around in the wind all day. Oh well. It couldn't be helped. I didn't have the time to fix them, so I just held one up when I could reach it.

Most folks finally started gathering at the Oaklyn School around 6:30. There were some awesome costumes here, too. Two of the pre-teen boys were a two-headed ghoul in gristly printed suits. An older lady had a gorgeous sequined witch's hat and matching cape. There was a unicorn, Pennywise from It, two Stay Puff Marshmallow Women, a cheetah, a girl Beetlejuice, two little Queens of Hearts, a mom Alice, a mom Wonder Woman and a dad Superman with another mini-Batman, Ant Man, two more Iron Men, an older Black Panther, a Dora Milaje warrior, a girl SWAT cop, two Super Girls (one a mom, one a tiny cute toddler), a younger Wonder Woman, a teen skeleton, a nerd, a bumblebee, the Joker, an infant mouse with a "mouse trap" carriage, a mini Chiquita Banana Girl, a boy in a Tyrannosaurus Rex full body costume, an engineer with a cardboard Thomas, a football player, Miguel and his great-grandmother from Coco in Day of the Dead skeleton makeup, a Stormtrooper and an Imperial TIE Fighter pilot, another Maleficent with awesome horns, a pretty little Devil's Bride in a fancy red dress, an infant butterfly, Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, a mermaid princess, a spider in a furry costume, a fire fighter, Thanos from Infinity War, a red Power Ranger, and a kid vampire. Someone even had a chocolate lab in a jack-o'-lantern sweater.

For once, we actually started on time, around 7. We all strolled in a straggling group down West Clinton Avenue to the fire house. There weren't that many people out watching us, but it was dark, and most people outside of the one-block "downtown" district were probably either at the parade, at home, or at Tonewood Brewery or the Oaklyn Manor Bar enjoying their own costume parties.

Besides, I think most people were even more excited for the costume judging. I entered the 19 and over division, along with the mom Wonder Woman, dad Superman, and the beautiful witch. The witch deservedly won. The pitch-perfect Wonder Woman came in second. I was fine with third. I got five dollars (and a high-five from Superman).

Went straight into the shower after I got home and put my costume pieces away. After I got out, I finished out my Halloween programming as I went online to chat with Lauren. (Who, incidentally, looked awesome as current WWE woman's champ Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey today.)

Garfield's Halloween Adventure has Garfield and Odie dressing as pirates to collect some trick-or-treat booty. Garfield suggests they take a boat to gather even more candy. They eventually end up stranded on an island where pirates hid their treasure. Their ghosts come every Halloween to retrieve it and end up chasing Garfield and Odie as well.

Things are a little less spooky for the Peanuts in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Linus is waiting in that sincere pumpkin patch for the annual (non) visit of the Great Pumpkin. Sally wants to be near her crush and joins him. Chuck has his own problems trick-or-treating and at Violet's party afterwards. Snoopy spends his Halloween fighting the Red Baron.

Ended my Halloween with Arsenic and Old Lace. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is a theater critic and confirmed bachelor who just got married to the girl who lives next door to his aunts in Brooklyn (Priscilla Lane). Mortimer's aunts Abby (Josephine Hull) and Martha (Jean Adair) take care of his Uncle Teddy (John Alexander), who believes he's Teddy Roosevelt. Mortimer is horrified to learn that Teddy isn't the only loon in the family. His aunts use poisoned elderberry wine to kill off lonely old men and has Teddy bury them in the basement (he thinks he's burying yellow fever victims). Even as Mortimer tries to figure this out, his insane criminal brother Johnathan (Raymond Massey) and his plastic surgeon and partner in crime Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) turn up and pretty much holds the entire group hostage. Meanwhile, Mortimer's new bride wants to go on her honeymoon, and a local cop (Jack Carson) is trying to figure out just what is going on with these sweet old ladies.

Black comedy benefits from Grant's comic timing, especially as the bodies pile up in the second half, and from the play's original cast members Hull, Adair, and Alexander as the two older women who think they're doing these men a service and bugle-loving Uncle Teddy. If you're a fan of Grant or Lorre and like your humor toasty-dark, you'll want to make this part your yearly Halloween viewing, too.

And speaking of, I hope all of my readers had a safe and spooky Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hay Rides and Other Horrors

I was so glad to see an absolutely glorious fall morning after the iffy weather yesterday and the rain over the weekend. Put on a spooky Three Stooges short while I ate breakfast. The trio are detectives who encounter "Spooks!" while searching for a kidnapped young woman. A pair of mad scientists intend to switch her brain with that of a gorilla's. The scientists try to scare the guys out, but they have their own weapons - cream pies.

Had just enough time to finally finish Tales of the Gold Wookie before I left for work. Harry finally appears, in time to help Leia present the Swords to Poe, Finn, and Rey. They're going to take them to Coruscant to investigate rumors of a new Starkiller weapon being created by the First Order Company. After that, they're going to find Luke. Leia stops Rey for a final warning. Both women believe that Snoke - and Leia's son Benton, aka Kylo Ren - are planning something big with the Starkiller Ray. They just need to figure out what eventually. For now, they're off to adventure and to find the rest of their group.

Whew! That one took far longer than I'd planned, especially given that it wasn't nearly as long as the two novel-length stories I wrote last year. It'll likely be next winter before I do anything close to that length. The next story on the docket is the last of the backlogged short fairy tales, "Little Red Riding Rose." After that, I'm going to go through some of my original stories and see if I can update or finish a few to possibly sell later, then begin a Star Wars version of A Christmas Carol.

At any rate, here's Tales of the Gold Wookie at my writing blog and Archive of Our Own:

Tales of the Gold Wookie - Archive of Our Own
Tales of the Gold Wookie - Writer's Desk at the Riverside

Did one quick short while I ate a fast lunch and got ready for work. "Pink Plasma" finds the Pink Panther stranded in a haunted castle. A vampire really wants him for lunch, but he just can't seem to get a bite on that pink neck.

Headed to work shortly after the cartoon ended. Work was fine for the first hour. I had just come in to the bathroom from doing the carts when I was called up front. I figured someone wanted me to do a return. No, unfortunately, far from it. Three customers and two managers told me that my bike had somehow been stolen by a black man in red sweatpants.

I couldn't believe it. How? I swear I locked it! Turns out he cut through the lock, then loaded the bike on the front of one of the buses that come down the Black Horse Pike. I was so angry, mainly with myself. How could I have been so irresponsible as to allow this to happen? I need that bike! It's my only transportation, other than the buses. Everyone kept saying that it wasn't my fault, that I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I'm sorry, but it is my fault. If I had locked it better or put it inside, this wouldn't have happened. I was so angry, I couldn't sit down.

The managers called the Audubon police. (Ironically, the police station is less than a block from the shopping center.) One of the managers has a boyfriend who is a cop in Mt. Ephram. She posted the photos of my bike with him. Thank goodness Dad and I did take those pictures of the bike back in March, and I remembered my phone today.

The Audubon cops did finally give me a new bike of the same brand as my old one that they'd previously confiscated from elsewhere, along with a new basket and lock. I love the bike. It's bright red with a tropical palm print. Dare I say, I love it more than the old one. I've been meaning to get a new basket anyway. (And yes, I put this one in the back room and took photos of it right then and there.)

The lock, however, is the same cheap design as the one that was cut. I'm afraid I agree with the meat department manager. It's not going to work. I'll check Target and Wal Mart on Thursday for something better.

(And thanks to the Audubon and Mt. Ephram Police Departments, my managers at the Acme, and everyone who helped out today! Please, if you see that man or my other bike, leave a comment here! Like I said at Facebook, I don't want anyone else to lose their bike this way.)

I spent the rest of the day doing carts and the outside trash. I probably would have even if I were in a better mood. We were dead as a doornail the entire afternoon. It was never even mildly steady. The weather was just too gorgeous! It was windy and a little chilly, but bright and warm when you were in the sun.

I rushed home after work, changed quickly, and went right back out again. Oaklyn was holding a fall hay ride at the park next-door. They were already in progress when I arrived. An older woman gave out free bottles of water, boxes of apple juice, and mini-bags of cheese balls and pretzels while people waited for the hay cart to rumble back to the entrance to the park.

As it turned out, the "hay cart" was pulled by a nifty little blue bulldozer. I got on the second round with several mothers and their children, including two absolutely adorable (and rather confused) infants. Older kids, one dressed as a zombie, ran in back of and beside us. The kids had decorated the park with spooky scarecrows, fabric ghosts, and plastic body parts.

A "pumpkin patch," pumpkins buried in a pile of hay, had been set up on the outer edge of the park, near the slope to the big tree with the strange roots. The kids and I all chose pumpkins and brought them back with us in the hay cart. We decorated our pumpkins with paper cut-outs and sticky foam eyes, mouths, horns, and noses. (I really appreciate the free pumpkin. The one I bought at the Collingswood Farm Market a while back is already getting soft.)

Had a quick beef and vegetable soup dinner while watching Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Pumpkin That Couldn't Smile. I'm glad I dubbed this rare special off a tape that I found at a yard sale a while back. Ann and Andy bring a glum pumpkin that nobody bought to a lonely little boy on Halloween night. The little boy's strict aunt won't let him go trick-or-treating or celebrate the holiday with his peers. The dolls change her mind by reminding her how much fun Halloween is for kids.

Switched to Boo to You, Winnie the Pooh! while making Maple Spice Fondant Patties to give out to neighborhood kids tomorrow and to my family on Friday. Poor Piglet also won't join his friend's Halloween festivities. He's too scared. Pooh says that, in deference to Piglet, they won't do Halloween at all. Gopher, Tigger, and Eeyore cry foul. They and Pooh do what they can to prove to their porcine pal that Halloween is nothing to be afraid of.

Switched to Halloween Is Grinch Night as I cleaned up from the candy-making. I review this one (along with Garfield's Halloween Adventure) at my Musical Dreams Reviews blog.

Halloween Short Subject Special - Halloween Is Grinch Night and Garfield's Halloween Adventure

Went into The Invisible Ray as I went online to chat with Lauren. Dr. Rukh (Boris Karloff) is an astrologist who has created a telescope so powerful, it can pick up light rays that reveal Earth's past history. He shows his skeptical colleagues Dr. Benet (Bela Lugosi) and Sir Stevens (Walter Kingsford) a meteorite that hit Africa millions of years ago, then goes to Africa to find where it hit.

Turns out that the meteor's radiation is deadly. Not only does it make Rukh glow in the dark, but his touch can kill anyone. It's not doing his mind any favors, either. Desperate for a cure, he turns to Benet for help. His friend does create a potion that will keep it at bay, but he has to keep taking it. He does, and uses the meteor to help others, including cure the blind...until he learns that his wife Diana is having an affair with Ronald Drake (Frank Lawton), the nephew of Sir Stevens. Enraged, he passes himself off as dead, then stops taking the medicine. He becomes a glowing killing machine who goes on a rampage of vengeance against his wife and the other members of the African expedition.

Uh, yeah. Wow, this was a weird one. This sci-fi/horror hybrid did have some effective moments, especially in the second half, when Rukh goes on his killing spree. The special effects weren't bad for the time, although Rukh glowing looks more like someone Photoshopped a glowing light around him.

This one was a little too strange for me, but it might be fun if you're huge fans of Karloff or Lugosi or are more into the weirder side of science fiction than I am.

Ended the night with the slightly less-strange The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters. Sach and Slip go to the Gravesends' house on Long Island to try to get them to use their plot of land as a baseball field for the local kids. The Gravesends are more interested in using the guys for their science experiments or to feed a carnivorous plant than selling them anything. While Sach and Slip dodge murderous robots and a woman vampire out for their blood, Louie and the other two come looking for them and create even more chaos.

Here's a few more spooky vintage Halloween specials and cartoon shorts that I've dug up from YouTube, for your after-trick-or-treating enjoyment:

The Halloween That Almost Wasn't
The Wickedest Witch
Buttons and Rusty In Which Witch is Which? 
Silly Symphonies: The Skeleton Dance
Ub Iwerks at Columbia: Skeleton Frolic
The Ub Iwerks Studio: The Headless Horseman
Disney's Haunted Halloween (Educational Short)
Halloween With the New Addams Family
The Littles' Halloween
The Last Halloween

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Quoth the Raven, Nevermore"

Kicked off a cloudy morning with another horror-themed episode of The Monkees. "Monstrous Monkee Mash" is from when the show started to get really strange during the mid-second season. Like Mad Monster Party, this episode also plays with the Universal monster roster. A female vampire lures Davy to her uncle's home. When he doesn't turn up at the Pad, the other three go after him. Mike Nesmith is the only one who is able to avoid the two vampires and their wolf man and mummy goons and save his friends from being turned into monsters.

Did a quick - and really strange - Donald Duck short as I got organized. Don gets "Duck Pimples" when his imagination runs away with him while listening to the radio and reading a mystery novel. He imagines the characters running around his living room and finds himself caught more up in the story than he'd like!

Work was a little busy when I arrived. I helped bag until things calmed down. Otherwise, it was perfectly fine. I did the outside trash and recycling and swept the patio as well as I could in the wind, but I mostly spent the morning gathering carts. While the sun gradually came out, the wind continued to whip across the parking lot, and it was fairly chilly (though not to the degree of last week).

(I did ask for Friday off for Dad-Bill's memorial service. I decided to use one of my two remaining personal days for it. A funeral is pretty personal, and I can't afford to lose those hours.)

Spent the rest of the day at home. I thought I'd do something special for the kids, since I had off on Halloween this year. I attempted to make a simple Rolled Sugar Cookie recipe, using the Halloween cutters from the set Jessa gave me years ago - a pumpkin, a ghost, a bat, a black cat, and what I believe to be a raven, along with dinosaur cookies for the boys and the fluted half-circle, star, and mushroom shapes I picked up on vacation. I'll give two bags of cookies to Khai and Finley on Halloween and three to their cousins on Friday to cheer them up after the memorial service.

Unfortunately, the cookies proved to be a lot more complicated than I'd planned. They wouldn't come together and were too dry, so I added water...which made them too wet. I didn't let them chill as long as I should have, either. They stuck to everything when I did roll them out. Oh well. Even if it took me forever (and two and a half Universal horror movies), I did finally finish them. Some of the edges got burned, but most came out rather well, for all the fuss.

Did three of the Bela Lugosi vehicles on that set I took out of the Oaklyn Library last week, starting with Murders In the Rue Morgue. This 1932 mystery-thriller is very, very loosely based after the Edgar Allen Poe novel of the same title. Mad scientist Dr. Mirakle (Lugosi) wants a mate for his talking gorilla Erik. He injects various women with gorilla blood, then goes after the beautiful Camille (Sidney Fox), whom he originally saw at a side show. Good thing her boyfriend Pierre Dupin (Leon Ames) is a detective as well as a medical student who knows a little bit about blood and is able to come to her rescue when the gorilla kidnaps her.

The Black Cat goes into Satanism and blood rites. A newlywed couple, Peter (David Manners) and Joan (Julie Bishop), encounter the German doctor Werdegast (Lugosi) on a train during their honeymoon in Hungary. They end up stranded on the road together after a mishap with a bus. Werdegast offers them the home of his friend Poelzig (Boris Karloff), an architect, while Joan recovers. Unfortunately, they picked a bad time to be stranded. Poelzig practices Satanic rites, and he has every intention of making Joan the "blood bride" sacrifice. Meanwhile, he's also keeping Weredegast's stepdaughter (Billie Lund) there as his own wife, making her think that her father is dead.

Moved on to The Raven while I cleaned up the cookie mess and did the dishes. This time, Lugosi is Dr. Richard Voilin, a retired surgeon who falls in love with the strong-willed Jean (Irene Ware) after he helps her recover from a car accident. Her father Judge Thatcher (Samuel S. Hinds) is less than thrilled with that idea and discourages him from seeing Jean again. Voilin uses a criminal who wants a new face (Boris Karloff) to help him get his revenge. He does give the fellow a new face...a monstrous one. He promises he'll make him look better if he helps lure all the guests at a dinner party, including the judge, Jean, and her boyfriend Jerry (Lester Matthews) into his insidious traps based after Poe stories and poems.

Spooky, atmospheric chillers. The Black Cat, with it's still-creepy sequences of dead women under glass and Karloff being skinned alive, was by far my favorite of the trio. Murder In the Rue Morgue gets a little too weird with the ape blood to be scary. The Raven is better; Lugosi and Karloff (who made eight movies together) play especially well off each other here as the deadly doctor seeking revenge and the criminal who wishes he'd found someone else to fix his face.

If you're like me and prefer your horror movies to be atmospheric rather than bloody, give these three short thrillers a try.

Worked on writing for an hour after I finally finished with the cookies. Leia finishes explaining everyone's fates as they await Harry. Luke took off after her son Ben - now Kylo Ren - burned down his journalism school. Last they'd heard, he was in the Middle East. Dr. Mothma is retired. Admiral Ackbar considers himself to be too active for retirement. Kylo Ren has joined the First Order Company, a major conglomerate based out of Coruscant. Finn once worked for them, but quit and ended up working for Harry Solomon instead. Harry finally shows up (after making excuses about a cargo of wild animals getting loose and eating his clients), allowing him and Leia to present the Swords to their new owners - Rey, Finn, and Poe.

Broke for a very quick leftovers dinner at 7. Finished out The Raven while I ate, then watched a Halloween episode of Happy Days. Ralph wants to have his Halloween party in a "Haunted" house to head off an obnoxious local gang. Joanie's worried - the house was once owned by a woman who was said to have lost her head. If you go in the house, you'll lose your head, too! The stories do unnerve Richie, until Fonzie reminds him that he has nothing to fear...except maybe his friends and the gang pulling some Halloween pranks.

Ended the night after a shower with Hocus Pocus. Max Dennison (Omri Katz) is not having an easy time. His family just moved to Salem, Massachusetts from Los Angeles, and he hates it. The local boys bully him, and he spends most of his time trying to act like he's too cool for everything, including Halloween. He's mortified when he has to take his little sister Danni (Thora Birch) out trick-or-treating, especially after they run into his crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw). Hoping to show Allison just how cool he is, he convinces her to show him the house of the Sanderson sisters, witches who were said to drain the life essence of children to enhance their own youth 300 years before. Max lights a candle, not thinking much of it...until the witches appear. Turns out a virgin only needed to light that candle to bring them back. Winnie (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) find themselves having to deal not only with getting the kids back, but with how commercialized Halloween has become. Meanwhile, the kids befriend the black cat Binks (voice of Jason Marsden), an enchanted youth whose sister was one of the witches' original victims.

We rented this for Halloween 1994, about a year after it came out. I remember I wasn't crazy about it as a teenager Max's age, and...yeah, while I like it, I don't love it like a lot of folks who grew up in the mid-late 90's. For one thing, Max is a jerk. I understand he just went through a traumatizing move and that guys are picking on him, but his idea of "cool" is putting down anything that looks remotely childish, even Halloween, which is probably not a good idea in horror-crazy Salem. No wonder no one likes him. As funny as the witches can be, the whole thing can really get over-the-top, especially towards the end.

I enjoyed it enough that I'm glad I saw it again, even if it's not something I intend to make an annual event. If you're a fan of the three witches or the family comedies of the 90's or have fond memories of it yourself, it's worth checking out.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

For My Daddy

Began a cloudy day at work. It wasn't bad when I came in, probably because it was about an hour and a half before the Eagles game was supposed to start. The Eagles played the Jacksonville Jaguars in London this morning. They didn't start off so great. When I put on the game in the back room, the Jaguars had just kicked a second field goal and had pulled ahead 6-3. Thankfully, it would seem that this state of affairs didn't last long. They came back in the second half and eventually won 24-18 (although Jodie would later say that there were a few nervous moments in the fourth quarter).

By the time the game was ending and it was becoming apparent that they were going to win, the crowds had arrived. I was able to do the outside trash and recycling, clean the bathrooms, and return a few cold items in the morning. Spent the rest of the day outside, returning carts that kept vanishing. Even with two other baggers outside later in the day, they still kept disappearing. Not to mention, the weather was damp and gloomy and windy (though slightly warmer than it has been). I was so happy when it was time to head out.

Went straight to Dad and Jodie's house. Everyone was gone by then, but that was ok. I really just wanted to talk to the two of them. Jodie had a breakfast-brunch for the Eagles game. She saved me French toast casserole, strawberries, Rose's home-made applesauce, strawberry shortcake Vanessa brought from Desserts By Design, and onion rings.

Dad did give me a check to cover the money for the air conditioner mishap. I feel terrible about all this. I know I should be less nervous about asking for help, but I never know who's going to be around. At least Dad and Jodie, who have had a variety of jobs between the two of them over the years, are more understanding about my not wanting to get a second retail job than Rose is. I just need to find something online.

Rose called me when I was at work, but she missed me by 10 minutes. I took my break early. I called her back when I was at Dad and Jodie's. Rose was driving and couldn't talk long...but she had enough time to tell me that Dad-Bill died of cancer early this morning. His cancer had gotten really terrible, to the point where they couldn't touch his skin without pain.

There will be a memorial service for Dad on Friday. I'll see if I can get off. I don't know if I'll be able to. It's kind of short notice, but it's also a funeral.

I don't know how I feel. Dad-Bill was suffering, and has been for months. I'm glad he's in a better place...but he was also the dad who raised me, and I did love him. I'm going to miss him badly. He was fun to be around, great at math, and told the best bad jokes. He's only the second person in my life I've lost whom I really knew well after Uncle Ken in 2012.

Talked with Dad and Jodie for a little while longer while watching the afternoon football games. The Steelers beat the Browns 33-18 in a game that a city wracked by loss badly needed. The Bears blew the Jets away 24-10 in the Windy City. It's probably a good thing Dad-Bill didn't live to see his beloved Giants just barely lose to the Redskins 20-13 at the Meadowlands. In a Battle for the Southeast, the Panthers leaped past the Ravens 36-21.

(Jodie also suggested that I dye my hair, which is getting gray strands. She really liked dark red or auburn. As much as the idea of being a redhead intrigues me, I'm fine with my gray. I finally look older.)

I called Mom when I got home. Didn't get her then and opted to just go into writing after I changed. The prologue is set in 1970, 32 years after the main story ends. Finn, Poe, and Rey are the new Guardians chosen by the Swords. Leia's waiting for Harry to help explain their history and why the Swords have reactivated. As she waits, she explains what happened to the rest of their friends. Laurence still lives in the Riviera; in fact, he added two more hotels to his empire on the Cote d'Azur after World War II. Wedge Antilles flew in World War II and the Korean War and is now a commercial pilot. Harry was also in the war, flying cargo and making daring bombing runs. He finally started that small cargo business, though some of his clientele is a bit shady. They're not sure what happened to Jeanne and Cassian and their group. Leia presumes they died during the War.

Mom called back while I was finishing up my writing. Rose said she'd been really upset earlier, but she must have calmed down by the time she got a hold of me. She sounded much better. She pretty much echoed my earlier thoughts about Dad being in a better place and no longer suffering.

Had fried eggs with cheddar cheese, defrosted frozen green beans, and fried sweet potatoes for a simple dinner. Listened to three spooky episodes of The Shadow while I ate. Brett Morrison is the title character in the first two. "The Cat That Killed" has Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane taking part in a scavenger hunt when they see a huge cat attacking a watchman at a warehouse. Turns out that was the third watchman who was attacked by a giant cat. The young owner of the warehouse is getting desperate. His help is leaving him. Lamont disguises himself as a watchman to lure the "cat." Margo comes along and is promptly kidnapped, but The Shadow is on the trail of this so-called feline.

Lamont and Margo head out west to a "Ghost Town" that seems to have some very real supernatural phenomenon. The ghosts of a Mexican bandito, his sweetheart, and his rival for her affections supposedly haunt the former mining village, as told in an old cowboy's song. When "ghosts" turn up in places mentioned in the song, Lamont and Margo have to remember the lyrics to figure out what's going on.

Ended the night online with the earlier "White God." The Shadow takes Margo and a pilot to an island in the South Seas that has become a graveyard of ships and planes. When their plane goes down, they're forced to investigate. The "island" is really a giant magnet, created by an inventor who is burned by the natives and their "White God." The Shadow and Margo manage to rescue his daughter from iminent destruction inside a volcano, then use her death to their advantage into tricking the natives into realizing that their "god" is quite human.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rainy Day Mysteries and Nightmares

I overslept again, although thankfully not to the degree of yesterday. I did have to rush my breakfast, though. Did a quick Popeye short while I ate and got organized. In "Shiver Me Timbers," Popeye, Olive, and Wimpy find themselves stranded on a ship filled with ghosts who don't want them there and will do anything to get rid of them. Popeye uses spinach to ditch the ghosts.

Rushed out around quarter after 11. It had been pouring all morning, ever since I rolled out of bed. The rain had slowed to a fine mist by the time I made it to Collingswood for the last twenty minutes of the Farm Market. When I arrived, though, there were no white tents in the parking lot, just regular cars. I couldn't believe it. The Farm Market is always open, no matter how bad the weather is. I guessed it closed down early, due to the rain.

Disappointed, I rode down to the Westmont Acme to buy my fruit. They were a little busier than the Audubon Acme was yesterday, but not overwhelmingly so. Pears were cheaper than apples there. I also found a nice little acorn squash. A manager who used to work at Audubon had to find the fresh cranberries for me. I didn't see them on the top shelves of the crisper. Picked up parchment paper, which I forgot yesterday.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped all together by the time I was heading down Cuthbert to Oaklyn. I wanted to see if the House of Fun still had The Rocky Horror Picture Show. While they had reorganized their DVD shelves, I no longer saw that one among them. I left empty-handed.

When I got home, I put everything away, then made a Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothie for lunch. It came out pretty well. Basically, it's the Chocolate Banana Smoothie with vanilla yogurt, powdered sugar, and no cocoa. Very, very thick - should have used more milk.

Ran a few remaining Popeye shorts while I ate. It's a "Fright to the Finish" when Bluto scares Olive on Halloween and makes her think Popeye did it. Popeye doesn't need spinach to turn the tables, just vanishing cream. This time, it's Olive and Popeye alone who are "Spooky Swabs" stranded with ghosts on a ship. Popeye once again makes use of spinach to deal with them.

Switched to making Triple Chip Muffins from the Alton Brown "Old School Muffin" recipe. Watched Framed for Murder while I baked. Shannon Hammer (Jewel) owns and operates a construction business that renovates Victorian homes in a small town on the Northern California coast. Her best friend Jennifer (Erin Karpluck) just opened her own bed and breakfast, the Hennessy Manor. Her Uncle Jesse, who tells colorful stories of his years as a salvage diver, is among the guests. Shannon is horrified when she finds him dead in his home across the street from her. The police think it was an accident, but his house is burglarized, and someone breaks into his girlfriend Althea's (Laura Soltis) car. Shannon and her new tenant, famous mystery novelist Mac (Colin Ferguson), think that one of Jesse's stories may have had more than a grain of truth behind it...and that someone believes he made a discovery worth killing for.

Apparently, this is the first of three (to date) Hallmark movies created around Shannon, all with Jewel and Ferguson. It was a little bit of a disappointment after the Hannah Swenson movies came out so well. While the duo were fine as the tough construction worker and the skeptical writer, I really wish this had used more of the details from the actual books. You don't see other people in town or Shannon's many friends, and you don't actually get to see her at work on a Victorian house. (Though her search for the item Jesse salvaged does reveal that she's more than knowledgeable about her work.) The villain was telegraphed from a mile off. I figured it out in the first fifteen minutes, well before the characters did. Hopefully, the remaining two movies in this series are a lot better.

Worked on writing after the movie ended. Wedge Antilles calls them from his plane alongside theirs. He wants to know what was going on with the laser beams and the destroyed temple. Luke tells him he'll meet him for a explain what happened and interview him for his article. While the others tease Luke about his obvious interest, Harry asks Leia if part of their money shouldn't go into a nice little bungalow for two somewhere in the Hills. Maybe a place where they can raise kids...

Broke at 6:30 to have leftovers for dinner. Ran a couple of Mickey Mouse horror shorts while I ate. "Runaway Brain" is an Oscar-nominated oddity from 1995. Mickey answers an add for "99 hours of mindless work." Turns out the mad scientist Dr. Frankenollie (Kelsey Grammer) meant that literally. He switches Mickey's brain with that of his Big Pete-esque monster! Now he has to figure out how to switch them back, before the monster runs off with Minnie.

That was hardly the first time Mickey dealt with some really weird science. "The Mad Doctor" from 1932 has him in a similar scenario, this time trying to rescue Pluto from the title character, who wants to graft his body with other animals.

Moved on to The Nightmare Before Christmas after a shower. I go more into this bizarre but fun stop-motion horror operetta at my Musical Dreams Reviews blog.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Finished the night with Disney's Halloween Treat. This is mostly a collection of spooky bits and pieces from various Disney films and shorts that either deal with horror or villains. It does feature four cartoons in full or mostly full, "Donald and the Gorilla," "The Old Mill," "Lonesome Ghosts," and (appropriately) "Trick or Treat." We also have a nifty segment featuring Hans Conried as the magic mirror introducing bits featuring Disney villains. (Including the one he voiced, Captain Hook.) A spooky short on why cats are considered a part of the horror tradition looks like it may have come from the original Walt Disney Presents TV show.

My family taped our original copy off The Disney Channel in 1988, and it's been a part of my Halloween ever since. The full version, taped off The Wonderful World of Disney (probably around the same time), is currently available on YouTube, complete with an introduction by then-CEO Michael Eisner.

Disney's Halloween Treat

Friday, October 26, 2018

Before the Rain Came Down

I went to bed too late, around 3:30...and got up too late, around 10:30. Decided to watch some Backyardigans to cheer me up while I made a late breakfast-brunch. Tasha is a mad scientist who orders her assistant Austin to invite other monsters to laboratory in "Scared of You." Austin has to deliver the messages to the "monsters," the Mummy King Tyrone, Werewolf Uniqua, and vampire Pablo. They're terrified of each other, until Austin points out that they're too cute to be scary. He's upset that it's his birthday and nobody's noticed, but perhaps that "secret" that Tasha's told the kids to keep will make him feel better.

"Samurai Pie" is one of the most unusual episodes in a series full of strange satire. Tyrone is a master pie maker in old Japan, and Austin is his eager young trainee. Empress Tasha wants them to make the Great Pie. Not only is it the most difficult pie to attempt, but they have to watch out for pie-stealing ninjas Uniqua and Pablo!

It was past 1:30 when I finally made it out to the Acme. I didn't really need much in the way of groceries this week, and wouldn't have, even if I had the money. I mostly ate out of the fridge this week. Grabbed the Grainberry version of Honey Nut Cheerios. Not only was it on a really good sale, but all Grainberry products come with coupons printed in the boxes. Restocked skim milk, mouthwash, yogurt, and butter. Grabbed bananas for cheap fruit this week.

I was mainly there for my schedule. Other than a very early day on Sunday, it's much better. Only minor complaint is having to miss the Collingswood Farm Market next Saturday. Otherwise, mostly late morning-early afternoon work, with Halloween and the day after off, and slightly increased hours.

Went straight home after I finished there. Put everything away, then made a Mocha-Banana Smoothie for lunch. This was just coffee yogurt, milk, peanut butter, a banana, honey, and dark cocoa. Oh, yum. Rich and sinfully chocolaty, if a little sweet. I may leave out the honey if I make this again later in the week.

Watched Danger Mouse horror-themed episodes while I ate and got organized. "The Strange Case of the Ghost Bus" is a short from the second half of the third season. DM and Penfold head to the China Seas to check out rumors of a ghostly bus sinking ships. Count Duckula makes his second appearance on the show in the fourth season episode "The Return of Count Duckula." He turns all the members of Parliament into performers to convince them to give him his own show. DM and Penfold have to track him down...and endure his bad acts. (Interestingly, when he actually did get his own show, it was a standard cartoon sitcom, not a variety program.) The next episode "Demons Aren't Dull" gives us a creature from the Fourth Dimension who challenges DM to stop him from trying to steal half the buildings in London. He does get to Danger Mouse's goat at first...until he and Penfold find a way to slam the dimensional doors on this odd being.

Got a call from Jodie while Danger Mouse was on. She and Dad will pay for the damages to the porch. I appreciate it...but now I feel horribly guilty. I should be making this money myself,  not borrowing it from them. They need it for other things. I told Jodie I won't be able to make the morning Eagles game on Sunday. She said come on over after work anyway. I'll consider it, depending on how work goes.

I went for a walk after I let her go. I needed to clear my head. Besides, I've been wanting to take a stroll around the neighborhood to check out the decorations, like I do at Christmas. Most Halloween displays don't involve "exterior illumination," making this walk more appropriate for the daytime. While flat-out spooky displays were actually pretty rare, I saw lots of beautifully carved jack-o'-lanterns sitting on porches and steps. Gardens overflowed with mums, asters, and late roses. Wreaths made from leaves far more colorful than the ones on the trees hung on doors. Scarecrows and grinning pumpkin faces greeted me as I strolled down Manor and around the streets in the back of the school, stopping briefly at the Tracy Connors Playground to run around there and sit on the benches for a while.

The weather matched my mood. We were really rather dreary today, a stark contrast to the beautiful sunshine we've had lately. While it felt slightly warmer, it was also humid, cloudy, and still a little bit windy.

Went directly into writing when I got back in. Leia says they'll talk to UCLA and Dr. Mothma about opening a museum of southwestern and Latin American artifacts in the name of Andrew and Padme Skylark, with the Swords and the items from Yoda's and Yasmin Hutt's private collections as part of the displays. Artie and Clarence agree to turn their shares from the dig and selling off Empire Industries over to them to fund the museum. Harry and Charel want to use most of their shares to repair the Falcon and start a legitimate cargo business. Laurence's share will go to expanding his hotel in the Rivera and aiding the rebel groups still stranded in war-torn Europe.

Had a very late dinner when I finally broke from writing around 7:30. Finally made the baked cornmeal-crusted chicken tenders, sweet potato fries, and salad with apple cider vinegar dressing I'd originally planned on having yesterday. Ran a bunch of (mostly) mildly spooky episodes of The Yogi Bear Show while I ate.

Fibber Fox thinks he's "The Most Ghost" when he covers himself in flour in order to scare off Chopper the dog so he can eat Yakky Doodle the duck. Yakky's scared, but Chopper isn't convinced. Snagglepuss finds himself in a "Fight Fright" when he has to fight a kangaroo at a fair and in a "Footlight Fright" when Major Minor uses his desire to become an actor to trick him into a cage. Yogi becomes a "Batty Bear" when he gets a Batman-style costume and uses it to swoop down and steal picnic baskets. A "Witch Duck-ter" thinks Yakky Doodle is the perfect ingredient for her birthday spell. Chopper tries to rescue him. Snagglepuss deals with a few ghosts of his own in an English castle in "Be My Ghost."

Finished the night with another ghost tale, the original 1984 Ghostbusters. Three scientists who were fired from Columbia University go into business for themselves as downtown Manhattan's only paranormal investigators. Their first customer is the lovely Dana (Signorney Weaver), a classical musician who insists she saw a monster in her refrigerator. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is more interested in flirting with her than in checking out her case. Shortly after that, the trio find themselves suddenly popular after taking out a little green ghost in a hotel. They become so busy, they hire a fourth man (Ernie Hudson) to help them out. But there really is something strange going on at Dana's building. The building she and her nerdy neighbor Louis (Rick Moranis) live in is really a conduit for the spirit world...and before the night's through, the Ghostbusters will have to save them from a nasty god and a giant walking marshmallow man.

We've loved this movie ever since it came out. It was one of the first movies we rented when our parents bought a VCR in 1985. My sisters and I used to run around our house with backpacks, pretending that we were looking for ghosts. It still holds up really well today, with a hilarious script and surprisingly well-done effects for the time. While the sequel isn't bad and I think the remake is better than most people give it credit for, this is still the only Ghostbusters movie you need to see.

Oh, and the rain that had threatened all day finally started coming down while I was chatting with Lauren. It's been pouring ever since. It's supposed to continue into tomorrow. I hope it won't still be hard tomorrow morning. I want to get to the Collingswood Farm Market, especially since it doesn't look like I'll be able to next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

If You've Got Trouble

I awoke to another sunny, windy day, and one in which I had a lot to do. Started off with a few horror-themed episodes of Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater while I had breakfast. "The Phantom of the Theater" has stolen Catnip's candy stash and My Melody's teddy bear and gotten Tuxedo Sam caught in the curtain ropes. Kitty takes the group into the dark passages under the stage to investigate the spooky goings-on. Catnip's not happy to be playing "Frankencat," a mad scientist who creates a monstrous robot that befriends Melody. She's happier with the more glamorous "Catula." Kitty and the others have to find a way to stop this milk-guzzling vampire from sucking up all the dairy products in Transylvania!

Got the laundry done first around 10:30. I'd put it off for a while and had a fairly large load. I got very lucky. There were quite a few people when I came in, and it got busier just as I left, but for most of the time, it was pretty quiet. Said "hi" to one of my co-workers (who also got the day off) and wrote story notes.

Did a relatively spooky episode of Garfield and Friends while putting everything away and making a cranberry-pineapple smoothie for lunch. "Nighty Nightmare" has Garfield dreaming that he just keeps eating and eating, until he's big enough to climb buildings...and attract the attention of aliens. The animals at US Acres call Roy the Rooster "Banana Nose" when they're tired of his pranks. He takes offense and runs off, but it's that "banana nose" that helps him find the lost Booker the Chick. Garfield raps an "Ode to Odie," detailing how Odie gets locked outside and encounters several tough dogs who steal his bone.

Was off to the libraries as soon as the cartoon ended. Oaklyn was my first stop. The librarian was chatting with a few locals when I arrived, but there was otherwise nothing going on there. The adult DVD titles were fine, but the kids' shelves really needed to be reorganized, particularly the S and T discs. Took out a collection of Bela Lugosi horror movies from the 30's and the Disney horror comedy Hocus Pocus for Halloween.

Went straight to the Haddon Township Library. Nothing going on there, either. They were just as quiet as Oaklyn. It's too nice to be hanging out in libraries. I shelved and organized the regular adult movies. Wanted to take out The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it's really late. I did find The Nightmare Before Christmas, though. Also took out another Hallmark Murders & Mysteries movie, this time based after the Fixer-Upper cozy mystery series I just read late last month and earlier this month.

Stopped at AC Moore to see if I could find makeup like I saw at Wal Mart. Nope. They're just starting to put out their Christmas stuff right now and are kind of between holidays. Didn't find any good Halloween stuff at Target, but I did pick up pads.

I had intended to do some writing when I got home. I was doing research when Charlie came upstairs with a manila folder. Turned out it was the cost for that little chip in the porch...which is $227, along with my rent. I can't do that. I can't even afford the rent, never mind an extra 200! It's just a chip! I figured it would be 50 at most.

I really hated doing it, but I called Jodie to see if I could borrow money from her. She said maybe, but she and Dad just had a burst pipe that'll cost them thousands of dollars. I needed to call Rose.

Tried to return to writing, but I just couldn't do it. I looked up selling my original stories instead. I was hoping I'd find some publication that would take them in a few days. Of course not. Most publication require weeks, sometimes months to review them for publication. I posted two more listings at Facebook Marketplace for the Molly Scenes and Settings and the red vintage prom gown from the late 90's. - Scenes and Settings - Prom Gown

I was too upset to eat much more than leftover soup for dinner. Tried to cheer myself by watching Mad Monster Party to review for my Musical Dreams Reviews blog. I go into more detail on this bizarre Rankin-Bass stop-motion feature there.

Mad Monster Party?

Rose called while Mad Monster Party was on. She said that the money should not have been due on November 1st, and that while she'd talk to Dad, Jodie, and Miss Willa, she didn't have the money to loan me, either. Everyone in the family is having trouble, which is why I didn't want to call them. I know they say I'm not a bother, but I feel like I am. I never know when anyone is going to be around, and I'd rather get things done myself.

And yes, she lectured me on finding another retail job. Oh, yeah. Get another retail job on top of the one that I already hate. I don't want to do this one. I want a writing job. I want someone to point me towards someone or somewhere who will pay me to write. I just wish it didn't involve trying to sell anything. I'm stressed enough as it is without adding another retail job to the mix. I don't care if it's what I know.

She says I lack "practical skills." I'm not even sure what she meant. I had to look it up online. I still don't know why she said that. I have practical skills. I can cook and bake, clean my household, manage my online checking account (when it has money in it), change at least the front tire on my bike, fix holes in my clothes and my stuffed animals, write and edit well, and organize media and doll clothes.

I wonder if she means "practical communication skills." I'm not good at talking to people. I get nervous around people I don't know, and I end up stammering or sounding stupid. I'm not good at coming up with something to say right off the bat.

Tried to make myself feel better with Young Frankenstein. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), the son of the late mad scientist, is having his own problems. He just inherited his grandfather's castle and labrotory. He'd really rather not be associated with his grandfather's experiments, until he finds his diaries and decides it might work. His assistants Igor (Marty Feldman) and Inga (Terri Garr) help him dig up (literally) a body to resurrect and get the equipment going and fend off the local police officer (Kenneth Mars). Igor's accident with a brain leaves the creature with a defective one. Frau Blucker (whinny) (Glenn Close) frees him, but while he manages to get him back, he terrorizes the town. Now he has to prove that his experiment was more successful than he acts...and head off not only the suspicious officer, but his prim fiancee (Madeline Khan) as well.

Mel Brooks' most affectionate homage pokes fun at the horror movie cliches of the 1930's with a great script and a truly spooky atmosphere (including the use of the sets from the original Frankenstein). My family taped this off cable sometime in the late 80's-early 90's, and we used to watch it every year around Halloween. I'm glad I can carry on that tradition. If you're a fan of the cast, old-time horror, or Brooks' other work, you'll want to check this one out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Sunny Day Spooks

Today was my early work day. While it was a little steady off and on, it mostly remained fairly quiet. I did the trash inside and out and the few returns that were there, but once again, I was mostly outside with the carts. And once again, it was likely just as well. The wind was wild and it was chillier than yesterday, but it also remains sunny and nice. Not only is the weather too gorgeous for shopping, but it's a little early for most people to be planning their Thanksgiving menus.

When I got home, I changed, then did some baking. Made Teen-Time Chocolate Chip Bars while watching a few Halloween and horror-themed episodes of Perfect Strangers. "Aliens" from the fourth season sees Larry having a nightmare after watching a horror movie marathon on Halloween and dreaming that Balki is an alien bent on taking over Earth. The seventh season show "Fright Night" has them trying to clear a ghost out of their new house. Balki's worried for Larry in the third season episode "The Horn Blows at Midnight" when a psychic claims he'll die at midnight. Larry brushes off his concerns, until it looks like her predictions are coming true.

Worked on writing for a while after the bars were in the oven. Leia talks to her brother Luke, who is still in mourning for Vader and the Jedi. Luke says he'll give his money to UCLA's journalism department for special classes and a scholarship in Ben Kenobi's name. Even though his father did terrible things, he regrets not being able to know him better. Leia doesn't at all. She's never quite forgiven him for his part in kidnapping her and Harry in France or for his killing their Papa Bail and his workers.

Broke for dinner around 7. Did two horror cartoons while eating leftover Italian chicken legs and Chinese beans with mushrooms. "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain" was the last of the Tiny Toon Adventures spooky episodes. In this parody of 50's and 60's B-scare fests like Horror of Party Beach, Babs, Fifi, and Shirley are having a slumber party in a remote cabin. Their boyfriends Buster, Hamton, and Plucky scare them by dressing as One-Eyed Jack, a legendary local monster. The joke turns out to be less amusing when they discover that the monster is real, and is picking them off one by one!

Switched to a short Danger Mouse episode after I finished. Danger Mouse and Penfold discover "The Trouble With Ghosts" in the first season when they find themselves staying at a hotel filled with creepy creatures and scary monsters. The monsters, however, are really creations of Baron Von Greenback, who is out to capture the dynamic duo.

Finished the night after a shower with the 1931 English-language version of Dracula. Bela Lugosi is once again the title character, who has attacked the solicitor Renfield (Dwight Frye) in his home in Transylvania, turning him into a slave and a raving madman. They eventually travel to London, where he meets the Seward family, including daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiancee John Harker (David Manners), and her friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy's interest in the Count proves to be his undoing. She's his first victim, but far from his last. When Mina's also infected, John turns to none other than Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) to find out how to help her, and to stop the Count's reign of terror.

While it's creaky and very slow-moving by today's standards, it's also undeniably creepy and atmospheric. Lugosi is the thing here. Few actors are as associated with the character; between the accent and his hypnotic stare, he's a terrific vampire. Most of the rest of the cast isn't quite as good, although Frye does pretty well as the groveling Renfield.

The scary feel and some violence makes this not for young horror buffs; for older kids on up who love monsters and don't mind how slow it is, it's one of the classics of the genre and is recommended.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cat Creatures, Fish Mutants, and Mixed-Up Zombies, Oh My!

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and more Bowery Boys. Spook Chasers was their last horror-themed movie, and the only one done during Stanley Clements' tenure as Duke Coveletske in the late 50's. Mike (Percy Helton) has bought a house in the country to help his nerves. To the frustration of him and the Boys, it turns out to be a lemon. They start repairing it...and when Sach accidentally runs into a picture, he discovers money hidden behind it. Turns out the money belonged to a gangster who hid it all around his house. The real estate company that unloaded the property to them catch on when they pay for it in full, and the gangster's men come to collect. Seems there's a story about the gangster's ghost wandering around the house. Now the guys are seeing spooks wandering out of doors and in from secret passages. While Blinky (Eddie LeRoy) and Sach try to figure out what's going on, Mike just wishes he could get his peace and quiet.

Headed out early, as soon as the movie ended. I had a few errands to run before work. First stop was the post office around the corner from America's Best. I had to finally send off Lauren's birthday package. There was no line, the guy behind the counter was really nice, and I was in and out.

Since I had a little extra time and it was a couple of doors down, I went to Goodwill next. Wanted to check out their DVDs to see if they had any horror musicals. I did see some musicals I may go back for when I have money, but nothing horror-oriented. I did find a lovely crocheted dress hanging on a rack near the front of the store. It's a delicate white eggshell with a heavy white underskirt that'll be perfect for my fairy costume. I'll wear a white shirt under it. Just need to find the right shoes.

Hurried off to work after I left Goodwill. The rush wasn't necessary. We were pin-drop quiet the entire afternoon. The clouds had cleared even as I was watching the Bowery Boys, leaving a gorgeous, blustery fall day. It was much too nice for shopping. I did have to watch a 15-minute video on diversity and take a short quiz (which I aced), and I briefly got stuck in the registers when one cashier had to help a customer. Otherwise, I mainly did the carts and baskets, rounded up recycling and the inside trash, and helped a nice woman in an electric cart to her car.

Went to Wal Mart after work. They have a pretty decent movie selection, more than Target, and I was hoping they'd have horror musicals. No luck. I did see glitter makeup there that I may go back for on Friday after I get paid, though.

Changed as soon as I got home, then worked on writing. Vader shoves his boss into the molten metal before dying in his son's arms and falling in himself. Luke and Leia have no time to mourn their father. The weapon is destroying the temple, and it's falling to pieces! Larry picks them up in the Silver Falcon, just as the temple collapses all together.

Put on Scooby Doo on Zombie Island as I heated up leftover Italian chicken legs and made Chinese beans and mushrooms sauteed in lemon-white wine sauce for dinner. Mystery Inc is back on the road, this time filming segments for Daphne's show spotlighting ghost sightings in the US. Daphne is determined to find a real ghost, not a person in a mask, for her program. A woman named Lena in New Orleans says the plantation on Moonscar Island where she works is very haunted. The gang take a ferry over to investigate. While Scooby chases the cats owned by Lena's employer Simone and Shaggy eats his weight in Moonscar Island's notoriously hot peppers, the others discover that the zombie ghost of Moonscar the Pirate may still haunt the island. He's not the only one. There's some seriously scary voodoo going on way down in Moonscar...and this time, there's no masks involved.

This is the movie that revived the Scooby Doo franchise after it was dormant for most of the 90's, and it's still one of the most unique entries in the franchise. Not only are the ghosts and zombies actual supernatural phenomenon, but they and Lena and Simone have a tragic backstory that isn't played for laughs. The genuine scares and well-written story make this one of Scooby's best outings, and by far one of the best direct-to-home-media movies.

Finished the night with some even stranger creature features. I finally opted to review two semi-musical B-movies that were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the 90's, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies and The Horror of Party Beach. I go into more details on both at my Musical Dreams Reviews blog.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures... and The Horror of Party Beach

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Return of the Giant Aliens

I awoke to discover that not only had I slept later than planned, but I finally caught that mouse who'd been running around the kitchen for months. Of course, I noticed this right as I was about to eat. I didn't really have the time for a big breakfast, anyway. I ate yogurt, Cranberry Flummery, a breakfast cookie quickly, changed into my uniform, got the trap into a plastic bag, tossed it in the outside trash can, and rushed to work.

After all that fuss, work was off-and-on steady. Those good sales meant that it wasn't as quiet as last week, but it still wasn't as bad as it likely will be next month. No wonder. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, really too nice for shopping. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and while it was windy and chilly, it wasn't nearly as much of either as it was yesterday. While I did do a few returns, gathered baskets, and did the outside trash and recycling, I was mostly outside doing carts and content to be so.

As soon as I got home, I changed, took out the recycling, and worked on writing. Harry and Charel use their strength to turn the statues around, so the light will destroy the weapon. Leia and Luke use the swords. Palpatine finally decides that if the weapon has to go down, he's going to take the Skylark kids with him. He attacks Luke and Leia...which doesn't delight their father one bit. He throws his boss into the bubbling molten gold surrounding the weapon. The remaining light from the weapon and Palpatine makes it churn and smoke...and makes Leia realize that it's time to get out of there...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Combined the leftover stove-top chicken casserole with leftover Brussels sprouts and Star Wars chicken soup for dinner. Watched a spooky episode of Fairie Tale Theatre while I ate. "The Boy Who Left Home to Learn About the Shivers" is a lesser-known Grimm's Fairy Tale and this show's pure horror entry. Young Martin (Peter MacNichol) is a simple lad who desperately wants to know what it's like to be afraid. He goes to an inn, where the king of the land (Christopher Lee) is advertising for a brave man to rid his haunted castle of a terrible curse. His daughter Amanda (Dana Hill) warns Martin against staying there, but he wants to get the shivers. Martin eventually learns that he's not afraid of bowling with ghouls or a sorcerer roasting him on an open pit...but even he has a fear that no one could ever expect.

Finished the night after a shower with Pacific Rim Uprising. It's ten years after the events of the original film. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the original movie's hero Stacker Pentecost, is making a living selling old Jaeger parts on the black market. With no war going on, many of the Jaegers have been scrapped. Not everyone has given up on them, though. While looking for a Jaeger core, he discovers Amara (Cailee Spaeny), who loves Jagers and has made her own version. After getting into the trouble with the police, Jake's sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) recruits them as a teacher and pilot at a Shatterdome in China. It's also the home of Jake's old co-pilot Nate (Scott Eastwood). They're worried that a drone program may replace the Jaegers. After a rogue Jaeger kills Mako and destroys a Jaeger building facility where she'd worked, the council decides to approve of the drones.

It was the worst possible thing they could have done. The new kaiju aliens easily take over the drones and possess the mind of one of the scientists in the council, Dr. Geiszler (Charlie Day). Jake has to lead his team, including Amara, into battle against these new, larger, fiercer foes, especially when Geiszler has them form one Mega-Kaiju!

Ehh, more of the same. If you're a big fan of monster movies with a lot of stuff blowing up and you liked the first movie, you'll love this as well. Boyega and Spaeny were especially good as the veteran pilot running from his past and the Jaeger-loving mechanic who wants a chance to show what she can do. Once again, the special effects were amazing as well, especially in the huge fight scenes towards the end.

It pretty much has the same problems as the original - dull characters and a story that's way too complicated. To give it credit, this one did do a little bit better in the US than the original, becoming a minor hit in early March...but once again, it made most of it's money in big monster-loving Asia. If you're also a fan of huge monsters, Boyega, or the original film, you'll want to check this out. For everyone else, it's a rental at best.

Oh, and one of my managers had a good idea this morning. She said she didn't know anyone on her block who would buy my American Girl items, but she did suggest selling them on Facebook's Marketplace. I like that better than that's what I did. If you're interested in buying an American Girl bed and bedding set and you live in the South Jersey or Oaklyn area, here's the listing:

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Monstrous Eagles Mash

It was raining when I got up this morning. Thankfully, by the time I headed to work, the rain was just slowing down. I arrived a little damp. That was probably the worst thing that happened all day. It was steady but not overwhelming when I arrived. I shelved three carts of returns (and another bagger handled a fourth) until the lines started to snake around the store. Spent the last hour or so bagging.

By the time I headed out, the rain was long gone. While the sun was out, the wind was a raging gale, and it was unusually cold for this time of year, barely in the 50's. The wind made for a rough ride to Dad and Jodie's house. Dodged a few cars heading to Tonewood Brewery to watch the game as well.

The game had just begun when I arrived. Mark and Rose and her family were already there; Jessa, Chloe, and her mother arrived later. Finley loves Dad's Hallmark dancing figures, a big-eyed mummy who wiggles to "Thriller" and Snoopy in a skeleton costume shaking his tail (not well - he kept falling over) to "Linus and Lucy." She was so funny dancing along with them!

(Rose mentioned that she'd gone to Shop Rite earlier to pick up a few things, including a blueberry crumble cake for dessert this afternoon. She came back to find Finley in an Eagles shirt over a thermal shirt under an Eagles sweater, polka-dot shorts over dotted leggings, and mismatched red polka-dot bows. She said it looked like a demented clown dressed her. She had switched Fin to the Eagles shirt and sweater, a ruffled skirt, and black and white leggings.)

Khai mostly concentrated on playing with Jodie's iPad until Craig had to go to work and she pulled out lunch early. She made "hamburger soup" - ground beef, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes in beef broth. There was crusty bread with butter and a Caesar salad. Yum! While I had to wait a while for the soup to cool off (she cooked it in a crock pot), it was so tasty when it was ready! With a little Parmesan cheese, it was perfect. There was the blueberry crumble cake and Jodie's heavily spiced apple pie for dessert.

Wish the game had gone as well. The Eagles were up 10-0 in the first half, but the Panthers came back in a big way in the fourth quarter. They got a last-minute touchdown that just barely won them the game 21-14.

I had more fun in the den with the kids. We first watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while playing with Finley and some of the larger stuffed animals. The Peanuts are getting ready for fall by jumping into leaves with lollipops and pulling away the football. Linus is determined to wait in the pumpkin patch for the mysterious title character, who supposedly leaves candy and toys for good children. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Chuck has his own problems trick-or-treating and at the party afterwards. Snoopy spends his Halloween fighting the Red Baron.

By the time the fourth quarter was getting insane, Rose had switched the kids over to an episode of the Nickelodeon toddler show Bubble Guppies. In an episode from the fourth (and apparently last) season that parodies space opera, Princess Molly is the owner of the last musical device in the galaxy. The evil Major Bummer has banned all music! The Guppies have to cross the galaxy to upload it and restore music to the universe!

(And...Rose doesn't know what she's doing for Thanksgiving. If Anny's moved by then, she may go down to see her for a few hours. I don't know if I'll join them. I'm seriously considering just staying up here. We'll have to see how things go.)

When I got home I finally finished The Water Room, then went right into writing. Vader and Palpatine force Leia, Luke, and Harry to use their magic to make the weapon work. When the crystal lifts and shines off the shields held by the giant warrior statues, it creates a beam that can destroy in an instant. Palpatine starts trying to shoot down the planes in the air, including the Silver Falcon. Harry does not like anyone trying to damage his baby! He manages to use his strength power to pry his fingers from the Sword and punch Palpatine in the nose. Leia and Luke get their own Swords while Charel, Clarence, and Artie distract Vader (having followed the trail of vines and junk the crew left).

I got so caught up with writing, I didn't stop until I saw Lauren pop up on Trillian and realized it was 7:30. I never really had dinner. I was still full from lunch. I did bring my laptop into the living room and had a quick breakfast cookie sandwich for a snack.

Finished the night with some Halloween-and-horror-themed CDs. Halloween Party Music is just that - decent covers of horror-themed music, from "Purple People Eater" to "Ghostbusters" to "Monster Mash." I dubbed the original London cast of The Phantom of the Opera off the Haddon Township Library's (long-gone) copy over a decade ago. I used to listen to this every Halloween night after trick or treating in the late 80's and early 90's, and then after giving out candy. I have other things that I watch or listen to on Halloween night nowadays, but I still reserve this one for around late October. As much as I enjoyed the film version the other day, the performances of Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine are still matchless to this day.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Welcome to My Nightmare

I opened my eyes, turned around to see the radio-clock on the crate I used for a bedside table...and was shocked when I realized it said 10 AM on the dot! Not only do I rarely sleep that late anymore, but I had a ton of things to do today. I rushed through breakfast and hurried out the door as fast as I could.

My first stop was the Collingswood Farm Market. Despite it being almost 11:30 by the time I arrived, they were still pretty busy...and very wet. It must have rained harder this morning than most people had expected. Between the weather and the market closing in a month (the last day is the Saturday before Thanksgiving), there were a lot of booths and tables missing. Enough remained for me to buy small apples, cranberries, carrots, and an onion. Rode over to Park Avenue across from Knight Park to briefly check out a yard sale before heading home.

Put on a couple of episodes of The Muppet Show while I started Italian Chicken Legs and Tomatoes in the Crock Pot and made my grocery list. The Muppets did two episodes with guest-stars known for being more than a little spooky. Elegant horror icon Vincent Price turned up in the first season, where he discussed horror acting with Kermit and joined Uncle Deadly in scaring Fozzie and Gonzo in a haunted house skit. Early shock jock Alice Cooper spoofed his infamous image with a third season episode that parodied the Faust story. He keeps trying to get various Muppets to sell their souls to his "boss," but Gonzo is the only taker.

The Acme was really busy when I arrived, probably due to the Eagles game tomorrow and the many sales. I made quite a few good finds myself. Had online coupons for Turkey Hill Ice Cream (went with the Coco Loco "Triplepolitain" - coconut, caramel, and chocolate) and Nestle chocolate chips (decided to try the Triple Chip) and paper coupons for Acme organic products (went with tomato paste and chai tea). Took advantage of the "buck a bag" vegetable sale to grab cheap celery and mushrooms. Restocked breakfast bars (Nature's Valley sandwiches this week), yogurt, brown and white sugar, and canned chicken. Found two air-chilled containers of organic and natural chicken and a small salmon fillet with manager's coupons.

My schedule next week is...more or less the same as this week. Slightly earlier hours and slightly less hours - I have Thursday off along with Friday and Saturday. While more hours would have been nice, we've been so dead lately, I'm not surprised they were cut. I'll at least be able to see the entire Eagles-Panthers game tomorrow with my family. I only work until 12:45.

Went straight home after I got out. Put everything away while finishing the Alice Cooper show, then switched to Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special while eating a quick lunch.  This collection of bits and pieces from various Looney Tunes horror shorts mostly spotlights Witch Hazel, who has to deal with not only Bugs' wisecracks, but also with Daffy and Speedy Gonzoles.

Headed back out after I ate. I wanted to pick up eggs at Dollar General. They're cheaper there than they are anywhere else. I was hoping to find an inexpensive Halloween costume, but all their Halloween stuff is gone. We're not even out of December yet, and they already have their Christmas items out. I'm sorry, I do one holiday at a time. I'll start thinking Christmas when we're out of October.

Worked on my story when I got in. Leia confronts both Vader and Palpatine when the latter walks out from behind the massive statues in the weapon room. They've searched for the weapon for years, but could never find proof of its existence. Andrew Skylark became obsessed with finding it and the power it posessed, especially after he lost a chair at UCLA. He ultimately drove away his reporter friends Ben Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano...and accidentally killed his wife Patricia when she followed him into the temple and he hit her while pregnant.

Ran an episode of Wonder Woman while making Brussels sprouts sauteed in white wine, butter, and lemon juice to go with my delicious Italian Chicken Legs. Diana Prince has a close encounter with the supernatural in "Seance of Terror." A young boy has shown photos of their deceased loved ones to three diplomats who are in talks to end wars between their countries. The boys' con-artist guardians want the wars to continue...but Wonder Woman catches on and, after gaining the boy's trust, convinces him to help her find out how they're really creating the "spirits."

Put on The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad after a shower. I discuss this Disney literary anthology at my Musical Dreams Reviews blog.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Finished the night with more lesser-known spooky Disney. The Black Cauldron takes us to medieval Wales, where pig-keeper Taran is trying to keep his charge from the fearsome Horned King (John Hurt). He wants to use her oracular powers to find the cauldron of the title, a kettle so evil, it could help him create an army of the living dead. With the help of sassy Princess Elonwy, bard Flewfldor Flamm, and cowardly furry creature Gurgi, he searches the underground Land of the Fairies and makes deals with witches in order to keep it out of the Horned King's skeletal hands.

Though not technically a Halloween or a horror film, there's enough frightening atmosphere in this movie for me to have watched it every October for years (and for Disney to pair it with the Donald Duck Halloween short "Trick or Treat"). It may have been too scary for it's intended audience when it came out in 1984, and too different. This was the first Disney film to not be even a semi-musical. Not to mention, by the time it finally got out of it's troubled production, sword and sorcery was just starting to go out of style. The bland leads and piecemeal story are offset by some wonderful animation, especially at the Horned King's castle.

If you have older kids or teens who are fantasy or horror fans and think they've seen every Disney movie, try this one on them.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Adventures at the Library

I got up a little later than I planned, but I was too happy about it being Voorhees Book Sale time again to be too upset about it. Ate breakfast while watching Garfield's Halloween Adventure. Garfield and Odie dress as pirates to do a little trick-or-treat booty raiding. They try to head across the river, but end up stranded on a deserted island with the ghosts of pirates who are coming after their treasure!

Headed out right after the cartoon ended. I had a few quick stops to make before I caught the bus to Voorhees. Dropped Phantom of the Opera at the Oaklyn Library really fast, then went to WaWa for money and a Maple Pumpkin Smoothie. (Not bad. More maple than pumpkin, but it still tastes pretty good. Very fall.)

Went straight to the Oaklyn City Hall after that to pick up the bus. It was only slightly late, and not remotely full. The White Horse Pike was fine; I guess the lunch rush hour hadn't kicked in yet. I was dropped off across from the Voorhees Library around quarter of noon.

Thankfully, the book sale wasn't anywhere near as busy as it was when I went to the one in June. I could actually move around in there. Since it was also the second day, I didn't do nearly as well as I did in June, either. I spent a little over an hour browsing around, but there didn't seem to be quite as much as usual. The kids room was particularly empty. There were no tables in the middle; everything was scattered around tables on the sides, and it was hard to tell what was what.

I did finally make a few finds. There were no good DVDs, but I unearthed three CDs from the shelves behind them. One is a collection of instrumental versions of Victorian Christmas music, one is A Very Special Christmas 2, and one is another instrumental collection, this time of romantic string easy listening music. (I may give the last-named to some friends of mine.) Found one of the Indiana Jones "Extended Universe" novels from the 90's, Indiana Jones and the White Witch, one of the later Amelia Peabody books I didn't have in hardback, Tomb of the Golden Bird, and a young adult novel about a runaway princess who joins up with pirates, The Princetta.

Went straight to the Boulevard after I left the library for lunch. It was a glorious day for a stroll. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and while it was blustery and chilly, the sun was wonderfully warm. The Boulevard is the stores and restaurants right outside the main mall. It also acts as something of a community center for the apartment buildings in the area. They were setting up for a fall beer garden later in the day as I walked past.

I had lunch at Friendly's. By 1, they were surprisingly quiet for a Friday. I saw a few college students at one table, a father and his young daughter at another, and a few solo diners scattered around the large red chrome-and-vinyl room. I settled for a turkey BLT. Didn't get any ice cream this time. Not only do they seem to have discontinued that meal-and-ice cream for $10.99 deal, but I had the smoothie earlier. The BLT was tasty (though I wish they'd served it on something besides white bread).

Explored Boscov's next. I was hoping to find a skirt, either for my fairy costume or for the winter. No luck. The only skirts I saw were jean skirts. I need something nicer than that.

I dashed through the mall, hurrying to the bus stop. There isn't much else to do at the Voorhees Town Center. It's dying heavily, the victim of a poor location that's in the middle of nowhere and is too close to other, better malls and shopping centers. I hate walking around in there. It's dark, dreary, and spookier than any haunted house. They're down to Boscov's, Adventureland (comics), Tilt Arcade, Verizon, Lens Crafters, T-Mobile, Bath and Body Works, an Italian import store, a furniture store, Victoria's Secret, and Payless Shoes. Otherwise, it's mostly offices. I think there's maybe two booths open in the Food Court.

I knew I should have skipped Boscov's. Waiting for the bus was a pain. I never saw the 3:15 at all. By the time the 3:56 finally showed up, there were five or six very annoyed and angry people waiting with me, none of whom were afraid to complain about it. The bus was full as heck when I did finally get on, and everyone's nerves were frayed. One older woman who was carrying around heavy bags accidentally set her bag down on the foot of another woman who got angry, but thankfully the bus driver and the people around them defused that quickly.

Despite it being rush hour, the traffic wasn't bad. It was mostly going in the other direction. I was able to get off across from Oaklyn's City Hall with no problems. Headed to my bike (which I locked next to the fire station earlier) and rode straight home. Pumped my tires really fast when I got in. The left tire was feeling a little low. Also waved to Charlie, who is working on my new porch light.

I had been hoping to go grocery shopping, but it was past 5:30 by the time I got everything put away and settled down. Did a little bit of writing for an hour or so. Leia is horrified to find Vader in the main room with the weapon, with Luke and Harry dangling over the molten metal pits surrounding the pedestal. Vader has already set their swords into the pedestal. He claims he'll trade the two young men for Leia's Sword of Wisdom, but she doesn't trust him...

Had a quick dinner of honey muffins and an orange cream smoothie (yogurt with skim milk, honey, and mandarin oranges) while watching a fifth season episode of Moonlighting. "I See London, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld" has the Blue Moon Detective Agency on edge when a man dies of a heart attack in Maddie's office. Turns out the guy had a lottery ticket on him worth millions. Maddie and David end up pursuing the dead man, who keeps turning up in the strangest places, while arguing over death, dying, and the idea of there being something "on the other side."

Finished the night with Broadcast News. Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is a news producer whose work is her life. Her guy friend Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) is a great reporter, but what he really wants is to go on-camera. Trouble is, he's neurotic, nervous, and extremely awkward in the spotlight. Tom Grunick (William Hurt) is good-looking and smooth, but he lacks experience and knows nothing about half the news he's reporting. Both men are gunning to replace their current major anchor Bill Rorish (Jack Nicholson), but despite his years of experience, Aaron's debut as an anchor is a disaster. Jane really loves both men, and has no idea how to deal with this situation. Aaron finally pulls out to take a job in Oregon, but he has one last thing to say about Tom and his work, something that makes Jane reconsider her relationship with both men.

This has long been one of my favorite movies. I forget when I first saw it - maybe on cable - but it's a sharp and well-written romantic comedy-drama about three people who can handle news like no one's business, but aren't nearly as good with their love lives. I like how it all comes out; even after the drama with the reporting job, they're still friends in the end.

The movie garnered nominations for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Hurt and Hunter, among others, in 1987, but came away empty-handed. That's too bad. If you love Brooks' other work (especially in TV), any of the cast, or are looking for a romantic comedy that's more mature than most, this deserves a second look.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Music of the Night

Began a cloudy day with breakfast and another horror-themed episode of The Monkees. "I Was a Teenage Monster" from later in the first season has the groovy quartet hired to teach a hulking android (Richard Kiel) how to sing. What the monster's mad scientist creator really has in mind is to put the boys' musical abilities into the monster! When they figure out what's going on, science-loving Micky has to try to switch them back.

Did a quick Three Stooges short while I got ready to head out. They're hired by an inventor who wants them to keep an eye on his new ray gun. A group of spies are determined to "Spook Louder" and scare the trio out of the house...and away from the machine. Meanwhile, someone is going around, throwing pies randomly.

First stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library. I wanted to squeeze some volunteering in and see if they had any horror musicals to review. Not a whole lot going on over there. It was pretty much just the librarian and me. I mainly organized the DVDs. Fished the 2004 version of The Phantom of the Opera out of the horror section for the blog.

Work wasn't much busier. There wasn't even much traffic on Nicholson Road when I headed down that way. By mid-afternoon, it was sunny, chilly, and windy, too beautiful to be grocery shopping! I got quite a bit done today, despite the quiet. In addition to gathering carts and baskets and doing the outside trash and recycling, one of the managers asked me to sweep the patio and water the potted marigolds for sale in the front of the store.

Sweeping the patio proved to be a lot easier than watering the plants. It wasn't really bad on the patio and took me less than an hour. Using the hose is more complicated. I've watered the flowers before, but not in a long time. You have to pull the hose out of a closet on the side of the building, attach it to the nozzle, drag the sprayer all the way over to the plants in the front of the store, and retrieve a key from the floral department to turn the water on. I totally forgot about the key. One of the produce managers had to help me there. I did manage to get them watered when it was turned on and I figured out how to work the sprayer.

As soon as I finished, I grabbed skim milk (I ran out yesterday) and hurried home. Did some writing when I got in. Leia finds her way to the top of the Jedi Temple. She's learning more than she ever thought possible about the Jedi, their ways, and why they created their huge doomsday weapon. At the very top of the temple, Luke and Harry are tied together, swinging from a thick vine over a pit of bubbling molten metal! Palpatine and Vader are holding them hostage. Their lives for her sword, they say. Leia won't do it, but the guys are scared, and the vine won't hold much longer...

Had dinner at 6:30. Watched another popular comedy show from the mid-60's as I ate. Get Smart made it's first venture into horror with "Weekend Vampire" in the first season. Someone has murdered three CONTROL agents, and always during the weekends. The victims have two puncture marks in their necks that look like vampire bites, and Max hears a strange melody before the third murder. He and 99 go undercover as stranded newlyweds to find out of the owner of the flute is a real vampire, and what he has against other agents.

Finished the night after a shower with The Phantom of the Opera. I go into more detail on this dark operetta at my Musical Dreams Reviews blog.

The Phantom of the Opera

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Winds of Fall

Today was my early work day. I'm actually glad. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny and very windy, probably in the lower-mid 60's, a little chilly for this time of year but nothing unbearable. I did get the inside and outside trash done, rounded up baskets, and shelved a few cold items, but I was mostly outside. It picked up a little bit around the noon rush hour; otherwise, we were dead all day.

The moment I finished, I once again rushed home, got dressed, and rushed out. This time, I was going further afield. I really had some errands to run in Westmont that I couldn't squeak in on Friday, starting with a stop at the UPS Store. I wanted to send Lauren's birthday package in time for her big day on Friday. Alas, to my embarrassment, I couldn't send it. I didn't have enough money. Not to mention, they were kind of expensive for a light box. The guys in charge were really nice about it (one was excited about the wrestling figure I got Lauren - he's apparently a wrestling fan, too), but I still can't believe that happened, again. I won't be able to send it on until Friday, which means it won't be there for Lauren's birthday.

The Haddon Township Library didn't make me feel much better. They were saving what few DVDs there were to return for later volunteers. I organized the DVDs on the shelves, but otherwise, there wasn't much going on there. It was too beautiful to be sitting in a library.

I took out a bunch of movies this week, mainly to make myself feel better after all the trouble I've had the past few days. Grabbed Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and the 1931 Dracula to get ready for Halloween. I have seen Broadcast News, but not in a long time, and it's one of my favorite movies. Enjoyed the original Pacific Rim enough when I rented it earlier this year to check out its sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising.

When I got home, I decided I needed a treat. I made real hot cocoa from actual cocoa, brown sugar, water, and milk. It was a little watery side. Had it with the last of the cranberry-orange Belvita cookies.

Worked on writing for a bit. Artie gets worried when Luke, Leia, and Harry fail to come out after an hour and wants to go after them. Clarence thinks he's crazy, but they don't have much of a choice when they're spotted by Vader's men and the local workers. The monkeys take care of them, allowing the duo and Charel to escape.

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Decided to try something quick from the pantry. Sauteed two mushrooms, the remaining broccoli and cauliflower florets, and eggplant, then added canned chicken, home-made vegetable broth, and cream of chicken soup. When it was cooked, I added a sprinkling of Parmesan and cheddar cheese, along with some Montreal Chicken seasoning. Oh, yum! A bit salty - next time, I may leave out the seasoning - but otherwise amazing. One of the best pantry meals I ever did. I'll have to try this or something similar again sometime. Had it for dinner with a baked sweet potato with butter and honey.

Watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein while I ate. Wilbur (Lou Costello) and Chick (Bud Abbott) are two none-too-bright baggage clerks who are supposed to be bringing crates with the remains of Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) to a wax museum in Florida. Laurence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) tries to warn them about what the crates contain, but he turns into the Wolf Man before he's able to do so. While they're delivering them, Dracula and the monster come to life! The boys are accused of stealing them after they vanish and are arrested. They're bailed out by the insurance company. Insurance investigator Joan (Jane Randolph) fakes an interest in Wilbur to try to figure out what happened to the "exhibits."

Meanwhile, Wilbur's actual girlfriend Sandra (Lenore Aubert) has her own plans for the short comic. She's a scientist who has studied the notebooks of Dr. Frankenstein and thinks the guy had something. She and Dracula want Wilbur's brain for the monster. Wilbur thinks he has two girls interested in him, but he loses that notion quick after a costume party. They try to dodge the monsters, but Wilbur ends up strapped to an operating table with a hypnotized Sandra after what little brain he has!

Classic horror comedy with the title comedians at the top of their game. The movie ably spoofs the cliches of Universal's own monster movies, especially when the monsters are more prominent in the second half. And this is one of the only horror movies I've ever seen where the valiant cop and the mad scientist were female. If you're like me and prefer your scares to be mixed with laughs, give the boys and their bout with Universal's finest a shot.

Finished the night with two Bowery Boys and East Side Kids films that featured Strange and Lugosi. Strange played another pieced-together monster in the Bowery Boys film Master Minds. This may be the only horror comedy I've ever seen where the brain switch works, at least temporarily. Sach (Huntz Hall) gets the ability to see the future every time he has a toothache. His buddy Slip (Leo Gorcey) puts his newfound-talents to work in a carnival as a mind-reader. Unfortunately, his talents also attract a mad scientist (Alan Napier), who wants his brain for his monster (Strange). Now the "monster" is walking around sounding like Sach, and Sach is growling like a monster, unless the guys and their friends Gabe (Gabriel Dell) and Louie (Bernard Gorcey) can figure out how to switch them back.

Spooks Run Wild was the first of two horror-oriented films done for their earlier incarnation as the East Side Kids. While he's not a vampire here, Lugosi does play a mysterious caped figure who claims he can heal one of the boys in his spooky mansion after the youth is accidentally shot. The Kids are desperate. They snuck out of their summer camp, and they have to get back before they're caught. While they try to figure out what's going on with this strange house, the head of the camp and school nurse search for the boys after hearing about a killer on the loose in the area. The "killer" isn't whom anyone expects, and neither is the caped gentlemen.