Thursday, February 28, 2019

Green Eggs and Sweet Treats

Kicked off the morning with two of my favorite vintage Dr. Seuss specials while I had breakfast and got ready for work. Dr. Seuss On the Loose is an anthology of three short Seuss tales. "The Sneeches" are yellow creatures who live on the beaches. Sneeches with green stars on their bellies snub those who don't have them, until a monkey con-man and his star-removing and creating machines teaches them a lesson in equality. "The Zax" are a pair of stubborn critters who refuse to move for one another, even when the world continues around them. Sam-I-Am wants everyone to love his favorite dish, "Green Eggs and Ham," and chases one poor guy everywhere to make sure he likes it too!

The Hoober Bloob Highway is even more unusual. Mr. Hoober Bloob and his walking mandolin assistant are in charge of preparing babies in space for their life on Earth. He shows the infant a film that depicts all the ins and outs of being human and what makes us what we are, from where we live to our education to answering life's big questions.

Headed to work even before the cartoon ended. Work was pretty much the same thing as yesterday - dead as a doornail, only getting mildly steady during rush hours. This time, I alternated between gathering carts and baskets and doing the few returns. I also did inside and outside trash and recycling. There was plenty of help for once, and most of it was standing around during the downtime. Besides it being the last day of our sale week and the month, it was just too nice to be doing a lot of shopping. It was sunny and warm when you could get out of the wind, and certainly much nicer than it's supposed to be next week.

Went straight home after I finally got off. Willa called me the moment I got in the door, reminding me to bring the lease and the rent over. I really don't want to agree to her demands, but I have no choice until I can find another place. There's nowhere else I can go. My mother and stepmother are in the midst of preparing to sell their homes, and my sisters don't have enough room.

Rushed downstairs briefly to tighten the seat on my bike. It's been loose ever since I put it back on last week. I don't want to fall off! It seems all right now, but if it starts wiggling again, I may have to see if I can find a new one online.

I tried to work on my story, but I was too darn tired from all the rushing around. I was almost nodding off when I finally broke for dinner at quarter after 7. Had leftovers while finishing Hoober Bloob Highway, then went into making Apple Cinnamon Donuts. They were pretty much Mom's standard recipe with added spices and chunks of apple. I covered the tops in cinnamon sugar instead of glaze. They came out delicious, but even with all the ingredients, more than half of them fell apart when I pulled them out of the pan. Maybe I'll stick to making mini-donuts from now on.

Finished the night with the 1958 musical Gigi. I go further into this elegant tale of turn-of-the-20th-century Paris at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Finishing the Photos

Started off a cloudy morning with early work. I spent most of the day alternating between doing carts and helping one of the managers to shelve two full carts of candy. Once another bagger came in, I stuck to the candy for most of the rest of the day. I just wish they didn't keep throwing me into a register every time they saw one person on the end of the line. It got a little steady during the noon rush hour; otherwise, it was pretty quiet. I ended up being a little late leaving when the manager wanted me to take back one of the carts of the leftover trash from the candy. Bought myself a pretzel to cheer myself up a bit and because I was a bit hungry from doing the carts earlier.

Went straight home after I finished my snack. Changed and went in the back room to retrieve the Christmas photo albums. I only have three small ones, not nearly as many as the regular photos, and one was literally falling apart. It took me less than an hour and a half to half-fill a shoe box with pictures, weeding out some repeats and photos that were too dark or blurry to tell what they were. At any rate, all of my photos are now in three boxes. Even the regular shoe box I used for the Christmas photos holds more and looks a lot better than those old photo albums! All but the one that fell apart will eventually be donated to Goodwill or the church thrift shop.

Watched more Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood as I organized. Learning about the great outdoors is the theme of this set. "Daniel Explores Nature" when his family goes to the park for a picnic. Katerina thinks it looks like so much fun, she joins in. They watch birds make their home in a next and get Daniel Sr. to put the nest back in the tree when it falls out. "Daniel's Nature Walk" has him joining O and X the Owl as they go for a stroll in the park. Even a shower can't deter them from their stroll. The boys love seeing a wiggly worm in the mud.

Katerina rejoins Daniel for day at the beach with his mother. They want to collect shells and find a starfish, but Mrs. Tiger warns them not to go too far, not to run, and not to get into the water without her. The kids can't always remember, but they're mostly pretty good at practicing "Safety at the Beach." It's "Neighborhood Clean Up Time" when a windstorm makes a mess of the playground. Everyone pitches in to help gather the debris...except for Katerina, who'd rather dance. Even she learns how important it is to pick up after ourselves when she falls into a pile of debris.

The final two stories revolve around Prince Tuesday's delight in playing with his brother and the little kids in the neighborhood. "Daniel Plays Ball" when Miss Elania makes up a game called Animal Ball that involves making animal sounds before you catch a ball. Dan just cannot catch it, until Prince Tuesday gives him some tips and encourages him to keep trying. He's less happy with Dan and his little brother Prince Wednesday when they play in "The Royal Sandbox" and use his crown to top one of their sand pies. He appreciates them saying "sorry," then asks them to clean up his crown to show that they mean it.

(Skipped "Fruit Picking Day" and "A Trip to the Enchanted Garden," both of which I've done before.)

And I definitely can relate to Dan's inability to catch that ball. I've never been good at catching balls, especially after one hit me hard in the face when I was in the Special Services School. I'll have to see if I can remember Prince Tuesday's suggestion to "give it a hug" when it comes near.

Moved to writing for a while after I cleaned up my mess from the photos. Han manages to get Boba of Gisbourne in the moat. Lando and Zeb bring over a couple of Merry Rebels to fish him out. That's when Han realizes that his three best friends in the world are missing. He, Yoda, and Zeb manage to strong-arm Lando into telling him where Leia, Luke, and Chewie went.

Had dinner at 6:30. Along with the last leftover chicken sausage, I made the most delicious warm salad of boiled broccoli and cauliflower and pasta over romaine lettuce, with home-made Caesar dressing and cheese. Made Ally's "Snappy" Ginger Snaps from my Beanie Baby handbook/cookbook for dessert.

Watched Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie while I ate. The Sailor Guardians are horrified to learn that strange beings have been kidnapping children all over the world. When Chibi-Usa becomes their next target, they spring into action. Turns out that they're dream fairies who have been ordered by a witch to bring her children to feed her Black Dream Hole in the hopes of swallowing the Earth! Sailor Moon teams up with a dream fairy to befriended Chibi-Usa to stop her and save her daughter.

Finished the night while the cookies cooled with more Angry Birds Star Wars. Returned to Dagobah for the final rounds of "Path of the Jedi." These were really hard. You could only use Luke, Han, Obi-Wan, or occasionally one of the pilot birds that split into threes. More often than not, it involved Han shooting or Luke aiming shots from a round droid just the right way to bring down objects that would make the whole frame collapse. At any rate, I did get the award, and Luke now has a longer and more powerful lightsaber.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Blasts From the Past

Kicked off the morning with breakfast and An American In Paris, the Oscar-winning Gene Kelly musical from 1951. I go into further detail on this romantic French tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

An American In Paris

The movie was almost done when Charlie called and said there were packages for me downstairs. That was a surprise. I hadn't ordered anything. Turned out they were from my mom. She sent me all my remaining childhood and school paraphernalia that she had at her house, including photos, my college degree (I have my high school degree - don't know how she ended up with the college one), and various awards and notices from high school. She even dug up the first poems I ever wrote, one entitled "Blue" that I believe I wrote around fourth or fifth grade, and one called "Snow" that I wrote in the Cape May County Middle School in 1991. The latter was even published in the school's newsletter. (And they were surprisingly mature for short poems I wrote when I was between 10 and 12.)

Mom sent all my childhood photos in a pretty black-and-cream box with fuzzy flower details. Not only were there pictures of me going back to when I was born, but she tossed in a couple of photos of Keefe, my sisters, her and Dad-Bill, and even one of a too-cute toddler Jessa. I was inspired by this to finally put all my photos together into boxes and get them out of aging, falling-apart photo books.

I called her to thank her for the boxes. She said she's been going through her house, trying to clear out things that she thought we'd want while she was still around. She spoke highly of all the awards Keefe, Rose, and I won for sports, music, and academics in high school (Anny...did her own thing) and praised the wonderful children she raised...and the wonderful adults we've become.

Went back to Buck Rogers while I worked on the photos. "The Satyr" reminds me a bit of another pioneers-in-unusual-places TV episode from the early 80's, "The Lady and the Tiger" from Tales of the Gold Monkey. Rather than being menaced by a tiger, the pioneer woman and her son whom Buck discovers on a mostly-uninhabited planet are under attack by a strange group of satyrs, men with horns and legs like goats. One seems especially interested in the mother and her child. Buck doesn't understand why, until he's bitten by a Satyr and starts turning into one himself.

Finally got hungry enough for lunch and put the photos aside around 1:30. Had a slice of cheese pizza, a slice of mushroom, and a can of Pepsi Cherry Vanilla at Phillies Phatties down the street. There were a couple of guys eating at tables and watching the NFL Live on ESPN, but it was mostly pretty quiet.

Next stop was the Haddon Township Library. They were saving all the DVDs but the regular titles to be returned later in the week, which didn't leave me with much to do. I put away the regular titles, then picked up a couple of movies and two more novels. I'm not up to anything really heavy this week. With all the trouble I've had lately, the British sci-fi movie Attack the Block is about as dark as I'm in the mood to get. I also decided for another blast from my past with Top Gun, and found more Daniel Tiger and the World War 1-set Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero in the children's section. Continued with the next Bryant and May title (after White Corridor, which I've already read), The Victoria Vanishes. Having had luck with one pair of quirky British detectives, I thought I'd go even stranger with one of the two Thursday Next novels the library has, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing.

Made two quick stops on the way home. AC Moore did have boxes for photos (and shoes), but they were all up high. I was glad I found a step ladder sitting around so I could reach one. They didn't have any boxes or anything for photos at Target. (And I forgot the other reason I was there, which was for shampoo.)

Returned to the photos after I got in. I decided I really wanted to get at least the regular photos finished. (The Christmas pictures will require at least one box to themselves and will be done tomorrow after work.) There were so many wonderful memories in those pictures! My favorite of the many with Keefe was an adorable shot of him beaming while looking over a coffee table with his stuffed Pikachu. (I'm pretty sure I'm the one who bought that Pikachu for him from the KayBee toy store in the Hamilton Mall.) Found photos of the last wedding I attended before Dana and Jesse's last year, the union of two of our neighbors (whose daughters I frequently babysat and were friends of Keefe's) at the fire hall in North Cape May in I believe the late 90's.

It was especially nice to see the childhood pictures again. There were a lot of Mom and a heavily bearded Bruce and tiny little me in their original home in Roseman's Boatyard in Cape May in the early 80's. Mom, Rose, and I spent my toddler years at her mother's home on the northern end of Cape Island. There's a couple of pictures of the great Alice In Wonderland costume Mom made for me when I was about 4.

She even sent my old school pictures and elementary class photos. I can't believe how early 90's I dressed in the Special Services Middle School and my freshman year of high school, in chunky floral pantsuits and tunics and long, dangling earrings that had to hurt my ears. (Not because they were heavy, but because my ears are sensitive and don't like cheap metal backs.)

The elementary class photos are also pretty interesting. Having started kindergarten in 1984, the outfits on the kids ran the gamut from little girls in frilly pink and flowered dresses with drop waists and boys in ties and tight slacks, to girls in skinny ties, vests, frizzy hair, and suspenders and boys in thick primary-colored sweaters, heavy jeans, and high tops by the time of fifth grade in 1989. (And some of the boys made some pretty goofy faces in the late 80's, too.)

Finished out Buck Rogers while I worked on the photos, and later as I ate leftovers for dinner. It's Snow Wilma and the Seven Generals when the Searcher come across seven little men on a bomb-running mission in "Shgoratchx!" The little fellows prove to be more of a harm than a help, using their telekinetic powers to get into everything on the ship and constantly annoying Wilma, who looks like no other woman they've ever seen. They accidentally damage the brain of obnoxious main brain robot Crichton...which may prove more damaging than any of their pranks when the ship heads straight for a star, and only Crichton's abilities can steer them clear of it.

"The Hand of Goral" gets even stranger. Buck, Hawk, and Wilma pick up a distressed pilot, but they return to a Searcher that's much-changed from the one they knew. The layout is different, and almost everyone is acting the opposite of their usual selves. Crichton is even friendly towards them! They have to figure out what's going on...and keep that seemingly innocent pilot from doing any real damage.

Buck himself is under fire in "Testimony of a Traitor" when an Earth general accuses him of working with the people who brought about the nuclear holocaust that destroyed the planet. Buck has no memories of any of this. Dr. Goodfellow uses a machine to uncover his repressed memories...and then, Wilma and Hawk race him to Mount Rushmore to see if they can prompt anything else.

It's the Searcher that's in trouble in the final episode, "The Dorian Secret." A race of masked beings known as the Dorians demand that Buck hand over a young woman of their own race hiding among a group of passengers who has been accused of murder. While Buck tries to convince both the crew and the Dorians that the woman is innocent, the Dorians' altering of the temperature in the ship cause the passengers to riot and decide to turn the woman in themselves.

(Disc 4 ends with the original two-part TV versions of the pilot episode. I already did that one once and wasn't really eager to do it again.)

And...that's it. The show was evidently canned mid-season. To be honest, I sort of agree with Buck himself, Gil Geraud, about the series' all-over-the-place tone. The second season in particular could veer from deadly serious ("Mark of the Saurian," "Testimony of a Traitor") to ridiculously over-the-top ("Shgoratchx!", "The Golden Man") in the space of an episode or two. I also suspect that neither season used much of Buck's original comics adventures besides Wilma, Kane, and Ardala (and the latter two vanished after the retool). Both seasons felt more late 70's/early 80's disco than 30's sci-fi, with everyone running around in short skirts and tight pants and tons of cleavage seen on both genders.

That said, I really enjoyed the series as a whole. It may be goofy, but there's a lot that does work, from some nice performances to some of the more interesting stories, like the first season's "A Dream of Jennifer" and "Mark of the Saurian" from the second season. Mel Blanc was a hilarious Twiki (glad they brought him back for the latter half of season 2), and Gray and Geraud made a fetching pair. I also enjoyed some of the more fun characters in the second season; genial Dr. Goodfellow and stuffy Crichton have a lot more personality than Dr. Huer and Dr. Theopolis.

I'm actually a bit surprised no one has tried to reboot this for a modern audience. It might actually be pretty cool to see what they could do with this story now, especially with the current drive to adapt anything that comes from a comic book. At any rate, if you have fond memories of this show like I do or are a fan of the campier sci-fi shows of the late 70's and early 80's, you'll have as much fun visiting this literal blast from the past as I have.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Against the Wind

The wind was still howling violently when I awoke this morning. I drowned it out with more Buck Rogers as I ate breakfast and made my bed. "The Golden Boy" is a gold-skinned lad that the Searcher crew finds in a life pod. Shortly after, they get trapped in a an asteroid and can't get loose, even with the boy's metal-altering powers. He claims his larger friend who landed on a near-by planet has stronger powers and can help them. Buck, Hawk, and the boy have to find his taller companion among the members of a medieval-like prison colony, before they use him for their own purposes and an ion storm destroys the ship.

Headed out to get the laundry done after the episode ended. Maybe because it was almost noon by that point, but they were pretty busy. It didn't help that I had a big load, thanks to having put it off for so long. I was lucky to get a washer, but driers were easier to come by. I read a book on finding your calling and ignored the news and soap operas.

Put the laundry away when I got home, then had a quick Coffee-Chocolate-Banana Smoothie for lunch. Cheered myself up with the the Rainbow Brite record I found a while back as I worked. Some of the songs here are just so fun, and they're all much better than the music on my somewhat similar Care Bears record. "Starlite - Rainbow Brite," about Rainbow and her brilliant-maned equine friend, is insanely catchy. I've had it stuck in my head on and off since I listened to it. I also like "Make a Room For a Rainbow Inside" and the Color Kids' "The First Part of Friendship Is Friends."

I had a few errands to run, but the wind was way too wild for the bike. I had a hard enough time getting home from the laundromat! Opted for a short walk instead. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library. I had just enough time to do some quick organizing on the adult DVDs. They're still finishing re-labeling them. The labels for the fantasy/sci-fi section was now done, or mostly done (doesn't look like they finished it) in red. They were surprisingly busy for them, with several people grabbing books or looking up something on the computer before they closed for the afternoon.

I ran into the mother of my friend Erica, Miss Helen, while I was organizing the DVDs. She said she and her other daughter Debbie were on their way to Collingswood and would be willing to take me to Dollar General, which was my next stop. Between the wind and all the hiking I did last week, I wasn't about to look a gift ride in the mouth.

Unlike the library, they actually weren't that busy when they dropped me off. I mainly needed eggs. They're only $1.25 there, much cheaper than they are at the Acme. I was hoping to pick up shampoo, but while their larger Pantene bottles are smaller than the Acme's, they're not that much cheaper. I'll wait for a good sale or hit Rite Aid tomorrow. I did get rubber bands for my hair. I've had mine forever, and they're all stretched out.

I was walking down Manor when Miss Linda, the wife of my former landlord, drove by and offered me another ride. Once again, I figured why not. We had a short chat before I got off at my place. As the grandmother of Khai's friends Bree and Chloe, she knows what's going on with Dad. I told her I'm feeling worthless and stuck...and I am. I feel like I'll never find a use for my abilities. She said I wasn't worthless, and that I shouldn't talk that way. Sometimes, it's hard to remember that.

Did some reading on my newly-made bed for the next hour and a half. Finished out Work Reimagined. I've begun to realize that I've never really had any concrete ideas of what I wanted work to look like. As a young child, I wanted to be a marine biologist because I'd always been around the ocean; a little later in my childhood, I wanted to write because everyone always said I was such a good writer. No one ever said what I should write, or what I should do with it, or what else I could do. The career center at Stockton sat me down in a room filled with books on jobs and told me to pick one. They were otherwise no help whatsoever.

I presumed, after I got out of college, that I'd get a job with a local newspaper or radio station, or I'd become a secretary at a local office, and that would be that. No one in Cape May County wanted me. Turnover at most Cape May County media is rare to non-existent. People keep their jobs down there for as long as thirty years or more - and then they turn their job over to a friend or relative. No one ever needed help. I took the Acme job to earn money while I was in college, not for the rest of my life.

That's the trouble. I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life, besides write and volunteer. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do, or what I should be doing. I know it's not retail. I just want something I enjoy to supplement my income, and maybe help me figure out what I can do beyond pushing carts. I'm just so nervous about pushing forward. It's easier to read than it is to move.

Worked on writing around quarter after 4. I think I'm going to try to wrap up my current Robin Hood/Han Solo story earlier than planned. It's not going as well as I'd like. Not only do I have a lot of other things on my mind, but there's at least three or four ideas that I have in my head that are probably more developed than this one. Han tries to get to Luke and Vader, but he's stopped by Sir Boba of Gisbourne, who knows he, Luke, and Leia are in charge of the outlaws. Han gets him to cut off his bonds, and they end up dueling.

Decided I needed a decent dinner for a change, and not just something thrown together. I finally had the pasta with chicken meatballs I was originally going to make last week. Used the spaghetti sauce mix packet from the buy-one, get-one Acme spice pack deal to make my own tasty pasta sauce. Had it over whole-wheat penne pasta, with a side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Yum! Ooh, I love the Acme's spaghetti sauce mix. My sauce was nice and tangy; the meatballs were incredibly tender.

Returned to Buck Rogers as I made my meal. Finished out disc 2 with "The Crystals." Buck, Hawk, and Wilma are among a group searching what they believe to be an uninhabited planet for crystals to power the Searcher. They find a muck-covered creature that Buck calls a mummy. They think it's dead, until it goes after their crystals. Meanwhile, Buck encounters a pretty young girl who can't seem to remember anything about herself or where she's from...but the mummy sure seems interested in her. Buck and the others try to save her from this wrapped-up menace, while Crichton and Twiki (the latter now performed by Mel Blanc again) learn more about the planet's previous inhabitants.

Went back to Angry Birds Star Wars after I ate. I'm still working my way through the "Path of the Jedi" rounds to earn an upgraded lightsaber for Luke. The space rounds alternated between being annoyingly tricky and actually kind of easy. A lot of them involve just needing to hit a Darth Porker helmet that's using the Force to hold things up just the right way, causing everything to fall down and destroy the structures and the other pigs.

Finished the night with Three Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri. We head down to the deep south for this story of what people will do when they're grieving, and how different folks handle grief. Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) handles the death of her daughter by buying and painting three billboards with messages that basically indicate that Chief Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) isn't doing his job. Her daughter was raped and murdered, and no one has caught the killers yet. No one's happy that she did it, especially since Willoughby has cancer and isn't in good shape. While Willoughby is understanding, his obnoxious and racist officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) is far less so. He threatens the man who sold Mildred the billboards and arrests a friend of hers on trumped-up charges. Even her ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes) thinks she should let the billboards go. Mildred is determined to make them stay and have her voice heard, no matter what.

Yow. This is a very, very dark story of how grief and anger can lead people to do some pretty frightening, violent things. McDormand, Abbie Comish as her equally troubled friend, and both of the leading men are excellent; McDormand and Rockwell won Oscars for their strong performances.

This isn't for kids (there's a ton of swearing, some occasionally nasty violence, and a lot of discussion of rape and how justice isn't always done as fast as we'd like), but for adults who are looking for something thoughtful with some incredibly courageous performances, this is a very dark but very interesting look at what grief can do to all of us.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday Morning Coming

I'd been awake for ten minutes around 6:30 when my phone rang. It was Rose, finally calling me back. First of all, she came to the same conclusion I have - between Dad's shaky condition and my even shakier finances, this is a bad time to move. I still want to move - like I've said, I don't feel comfortable here anymore - but not right at this moment. Maybe later this year or early next year.

Second, Rose suggested Uber for a ride on bad-weather days instead of calling or a ride. She, Craig, and Jodie don't always have the time. Only if I absolutely have to. They cost money, and I've never really done anything like a cab or Uber before.

Third, she wants to start a joint account to help me pay for my rent until I get back on my feet. It's nice of her, but I have reservations. That money should be going to her family, not to me. I feel guilty enough about having borrowed money from Dad and Jodie in the past.

It was raining fairly hard when I was talking to Rose. Thankfully, by the time I left for work, it was down to a mild shower. Good thing it did start slowing down. Other than doing a cart with a few returns, I was outside for most of the morning, rounding up carts and doing the trash and recycling. I was supposed to have help later, but I saw the teen girl for all of 20 minutes.

The rain was gone by the time I went home, replaced by heavy winds. I decided to just avoid them and spent the rest of the day at home. Had banana pancakes for lunch while listening to one of my K-Tel albums, Hot Ones. I mainly have this one for the original version of "Thank You For Being a Friend" (which later became the theme song for The Golden Girls). Other good cuts on the one disc I have (the set's second disc is missing) include "Imaginary Lover," "We Just Disagree," and "We'll Never Have to Say Good-Bye."

Played Angry Birds Star Wars for a little while after lunch. Finally finished off the Hoth rounds, including another moving one that requires you to hit Pig Mynocks. While that one wasn't too bad, some of the later ones in space were kind of hard, especially those that needed Han or Luke to aim their lightsaber and gun shots in just the right place.

I had a long week last week, including that hour-and-a-half walk on Tuesday, and I got up early today and immediately had a heartfelt conversation with my sister. Not to mention, it was totally quiet for once. No one was home downstairs or next-door. It was the perfect time for a nap. I hit my bed at quarter of 3 and didn't get up until past 4.

Read Ten-Second Staircase for a little while, then did some writing. Han pushes Chewie and Leia out of the area, then tries to find out what happened to Lando or Luke. He's blocked by Sir Boba of Gisborne before he can get far. He tries to slip away, but Boba's not about to let this bounty go...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. The blueberry preserves and cheese omelet I had earlier this week was so tasty, I made it again tonight, along with leftover green beans and almonds. Listened to the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack while I ate. I thought this movie was really cute, and there's some wonderful music here. The touching "The Land Where Lost Things Go" got an Oscar nod; other good numbers include the big chorus routine for the lamplighters "Trip a Little Light Fantastic" and "Can You Imagine That?" for Mary and the kids as she gets them to take their baths.

Went back to Angry Birds after a shower. Instead of moving to the next level, I went to "Path of the Jedi," which is basically Luke's Dagobah segments from The Empire Strikes Back. From what I've gathered, if you complete it, Luke's lightsaber increases in length and strength. Thought that might be useful in Cloud City. Ironically, most of the rounds on Dagobah itself weren't that hard. Things didn't pick up until they tossed you back out into space with those tricky curving shots.

Spent most of the rest of the night chatting with Lauren and checking up on the Oscars. (I'm not paying to stream it.) For once, there's a couple of nominees that really interest me. I did enjoy Black Panther (and thought it totally deserved its wins for Costumes, Score, and Production Design), and am dying to see Bohemian Rhapsody (Best Actor, Editing, and - appropriately - both sound awards) and A Star Is Born (Best Song). I may look around for Green Book (the Best Picture winner) and Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse (the Animated Film winner) eventually as well.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Swinging On a Star

Kicked off another cloudy morning with breakfast and the remaining two Daniel Tiger episodes. I skipped "Daniel's New Friend," which I've already done, and went right into "Daniel's Friends Say 'No.'" Daniel wants to play with Miss Elania at school, but she's reading and doesn't want to. O the Owl doesn't, either. He's disappointed, but Teacher Harriet encourages him to find other things to do.

"Prince Wednesday Doesn't Want to Play" with Daniel because he's playing with his older brother Prince Tuesday before he has to work. This time, Daniel distracts himself by having his own sibling time with his baby sister Margaret, and then inviting O the Owl to join them.

(And yeah, I do understand about having to turn down offers to play. When Keefe was little and I was in high school, or home from college for school breaks, he often asked me to play with his Pokemon toys or Star Wars action figures with him. Most of the time, I would...but occasionally, I'd be reading or studying, and I'd tell him 'no.' He'd be disappointed, but Mom would give him other things to do.)

Worked on writing for an hour after the show finished. Sheriff Vader shows up with Luke, revealing that he's his son, and he intends to force him into Palpatine's guards. Lando claims he'll sing a song for the Prince...but he plays a loud enough note and sings loud enough to distract the Prince and bring in his own men. They manage to free Leia and Chewie, but Han gets knocked out and taken away...

Broke for lunch at almost 1. Ran an episode of The Backyardigans while I ate leftovers quickly. Pablo is pretending to be "The Yeti" and is yelling and leaving raisins all over the Frozen North. Uniqua insists that they're on the trail of a real Yeti. Tasha is just as adamant that there's no such thing. Tyrone just wants them to stop arguing and follow that strange sound.

Headed for work even before the episode ended. Once again, other than doing trash and recycling and gathering a few baskets, I was mostly outside with the carts. It was off-and-on busy all afternoon, not overwhelming, but not quiet, either. It started spitting lightly somewhere around 3; it didn't start raining harder until I was on my way home. Thankfully, it wasn't so hard that I was more than a little damp when I finally got in.

I'd texted Rose earlier in the day, telling her to call me. She texted me back and said she'd text in a few minutes. I waited a half-hour, and she never did. She said she had to put her kids to bed. I guess there were complications there. If I don't hear from her by the time I get home from work tomorrow, I"ll text her again or call her.

Finished the night with Going My Way, the Oscar-winning dramady about Bing Crosby as a priest at a New York parish who clashes with pastor Barry Fitzgerald. I go into more detail on this sugary drama with songs at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Going My Way

Friday, February 22, 2019

Woman On the Run

Began a sort-of cloudy and windy morning with breakfast, then baking Mint Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies to get rid of the last of that bag. Ran four Monkees episodes centered around Peter Tork, who passed away yesterday, while I baked, starting with "One Man Shy" from the first season. Poor Peter is too bashful to talk to a pretty debutante (Lisa James). The other guys try to encourage their romance, which annoys the heck out of her obnoxious boyfriend Reggie (George Furth).

Most other episodes that revolved around Peter usually had him discovering a foul plot and the other guys coming to his rescue. Take "The Case of the Missing Monkee" from later in the first season. He discovers that a respected scientist has been kidnapped, only to be captured himself. The remaining Monkees learn that Peter and the scientist are being kept in a hospital and first try fake injuries to get in, then passing as doctors.

One of the best - and most controversial - episodes of the series was "The Devil and Peter Tork," from the mid-second season. Peter inadvertently sells his soul to the devil Zero (Monte Landis) in order to buy a beautiful harp he falls in love with. Peter and his harp-playing skills brings the guys fame and fortune, until Zero comes to collect and the others have to keep their blond buddy out of his clutches. (This was actually filmed much earlier - Mike's wearing his green hat, and Micky has straighter hair - but censors had a fit over the song "Salesman" and some cracks at the strict network rules in the 1960's and it got pushed back.)

"The Monkees Blow Their Minds" from later in the second season is somewhat similar, only this time, Peter ends up being controlled by a devious mentalist (Landis again) and his goofy assistant (director James Frawley) who want to use him for his nightclub act. This time, when the other guys go after him, they fall into the mentalist's hands, too. It's Micky who finally figures out how to break free of his control. (And yes, that is Mike swapping roles with musician Frank Zappa in the opening sequence.)

Went outside after the cookies came out of the oven. I had to get the bike seat back on. My legs just weren't up to more hiking after all the long walks I've taken all week. It took me almost an hour and a half, but I did manage to figure it out. Despite my efforts, it remained quite wobbly. The tool set I was using to fix the bike fell apart while I used it; it was a kind of cheap one I picked up a while back, anyway. I figured I'd stop and get a new one later.

First stop after I actually got the bike moving was PNC Bank. Dad and Jodie gave me some money as an early birthday present. I reopened my two savings accounts, one for that nest egg everyone wants me to make, another for other expenses. The woman who helped me was really sweet. She even offered me peppermint puff candy when her throat was dry.

Next stop was the Crystal Lake Diner on Cuthbert for lunch. It was almost 2 by the time I made it there. They weren't dead, but it was far from crazy. I ate a huge chicken quesadilla with lots of big, juicy grilled chicken pieces and watched Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on the TV behind the counter.

The Haddon Tonwship Library is on the hill just over the diner. They were even less busy. I mainly shelved kids' DVDs. Grabbed more Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and An American In Paris for review next week, along with renewing Julie & Julia and Three Billboards.

Stopped at Target after I left the library. They actually had a set of two tool sets for 9 dollars. That was fine. It wouldn't hurt to have two around. I raised the seat to the right height, but still couldn't get it tightened.

Rode across Haddon Township and Audubon to the Acme to do this week's grocery shopping. The clementines are still on sale; found bagged vegetables on a decent sale as well. Had an online coupon for free Acme generic hot chocolate mix and thought I'd try it. Restocked canned tomato sauce, mushrooms, canned mandarin oranges, honey, skim milk, buttermilk, yogurt, chocolate chips, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, cereal, and ground turkey.

My schedule next week is pretty similar to this week, only this time I work next Friday and have off on Saturday, and the latest I work is 5:15. Monday and Tuesday are also off. This time, I'll actually be able to get some stuff done on Monday, including volunteering.

Finally went straight home after that. Ran episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood while putting everything away, and then as I made a quick banana-oat smoothie for dinner. "Super Daniel!" and Super Grandpere take Daniel Sr's lunch to work. Along the way, they help Prince Wednesday the Dinosaur get an apple from a tree and Miss Elania the Horse find her way through the forest.

"Daniel Is Big Enough to Help Dad" build a playhouse for him. Well, he's big enough to hold the door while Dan Sr. nails it on, help him paint the door, and hold a cabinet that his mom needs to fix. "Daniel Fixes Trolley" when his mother doesn't have the time to help him and he has to put the tire back on his toy trolley himself. "Daniel Doesn't Want to Stop Playing" with his toy trolley, but first his parents insist he has a book he made himself that he has to finish for show-and-tell, then he has to go to bed. Mom tells him he can do one more thing each, and then he's done.

(Dan's not the only one who has trouble with the "one and done" thing. I often stay up too late when I can't stop looking up or reading things online. I need to remember that "Choose one thing to do. It was fun, now it's done" song myself.)

Did a little bit of writing after dinner. Han tries to get Leia to go after Luke, but she wants to stay with him. They finally admit their feelings to each other...but Prince Palpatine is not moved. And then Sheriff Vader comes back with his prisoner...

Ended the night after a shower with Julie & Julia. "Julie" is Julie Powell (Amy Adams), who works at a call center in New York in 2002. She hates her job and while she loves her husband Eric (Chris Messina), she doesn't like their move to Queens over a pizza parlor. Hoping to find some meaning in her life, she starts a blog devoted to cooking every recipe in beloved chef Julia Child's massive Mastering the Art of French Cooking books. She's hurt first when her husband argues over all the time she spends on it, then when the real Julia Child makes a dismissive comment, but eventually finds writing a blog to be invigorating.

As Julie finds herself, we see in flashbacks just how the cookbooks came to be. Julia Child (Meryl Streep) attends a prestigious French cooking school to give herself something to do while her own husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) works as a diplomat. She enjoys French cooking so much, she collaborates on a book of French recipes for American housewives with two other women. The cookbook is rejected by the first company that picks it up; Julia couldn't deliver it on time, and they want less elaborate recipes that use mixes for fast-paced American cooks. Julia perseveres, and not only does another company publish her book, but they give her the first real cooking show on PBS, The French Chef.

Meryl Streep is the thing here as a perfect Julia Child. She has the more interesting story, including her collaborating with two other chefs and keeping her husband in Europe while she worked on her book. Julie's story isn't as much fun; while Adams isn't bad, her character can come off as neurotic and a bit of a whiner. While Messina and Tucci are fine as their supportive husbands, this is mainly about the women and a lot of French food. If you love writing, stories of real-life triumphs, or the other work of writer/director Nora Ephron (this was her last movie), you'll want to throw a French omelet on the burners and check this one out.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Springing Into Winter

I awoke to a sunny morning and the plip-plop of melting snow. Yesterday's storm was disappearing rapidly, even as I ate breakfast and ran an episode of The Backyardigans. Mounties Tyrone and Pablo guard "The Snow Fort" and its contents, the world's biggest snowball, from what they think are raiders. It's really ski patrol members Tasha and Uniqua, who think the boys need to be rescued.

The snow was vanishing rapidly, even as I strolled to work. It was almost completely gone by mid-way through my shift around 2 PM. While it was windy, it was also much warmer than yesterday, probably in the lower 50's. No wonder we were dead for most of the day. I did do some returns inside and gathered baskets when the carts were full, but for the most part, I spent the day outdoors, pushing carts, rounding up trash and recycling, and sweeping the front patio. It got mildly busy around noon, then went right back to being dead.

After having walked for a half-hour in each direction and spent almost six hours on my feet, I was dead tired when I got home. I uploaded my resume onto JJ Staffing's website, then did a little bit of writing. Palpatine taunts the captured Han, revealing his true name - Han of Corellia Manor, a deposed lord whose lands were sold to Baron Du Hutt. He's been doing Hutt's dirty work to pay off his debts. Lando holds back an angry Leia as Han goads the nasty ruler.

Broke for dinner at 7. I was too tired to make the meatballs I originally planned for tonight. I sauteed mushrooms, onion, celery, and leftover green beans in oil, then added the ground turkey, tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Topped it off with Colby-Jack cheese. Yum. Not bad, for something I threw together when I was completely dead on my feet.

I had enough juice left to review MGM's massive 1936 Oscar-winner, The Great Ziegfeld, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. I actually found this one at the Collingswood Book Festival back in October, but held off on it when I came up with the idea of reviewing Oscar-winning musicals.

The Great Ziegfeld

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Winter Is For the (Angry) Birds

I awoke to...bare ground. It was chilly when I strolled out the door, but not snowing or raining, or even windy. I walked to work. I didn't have the time to mess with the bike seat, and I wasn't sure what the weather was going to be like later.

It flurried on and off after about quarter of 10, but the real snow didn't start picking up until past 11:30. I ended up spending a lot of the day doing carts. We were busier than expected with people who saw the weather and panicked. It didn't help that a lot of cashiers who come in later were worried about the weather and called out. At least the afternoon bagger came in ahead of schedule. I let him take over the carts and shoveling the snow while I did the recycling and outside trash, gathered baskets, and cleaned up after a bleach spill next to the express register.

By the time I got off work with a soft pretzel for a treat (I was starved from doing carts and all the walking), the snow was slowing down. We'd gotten about two or three inches of very slushy, messy snow and ice. It's probably just as well that I did walk. I was able to bring along my umbrella and keep most of myself (except my feet) dry. The streets were fine. Some sidewalks had been shoved, but most hadn't, which made for quite an adventure.

Went into playing Angry Birds Star Wars when I finally made it home and changed into dry clothes. Han and Leia continue out into the reaches of space, dodging more TIE Fighters and AT-AT walkers. These were considerably tougher, including some places where Leia had to pull out a Walker leg just the right way, or Obi-Wan would have to use the Force to knock the blocks over in just the right place. Chewbacca also got an upgrade during these rounds; he just becomes bigger and able to smash through larger objects.

Did a little research when I went online. I thought I might be able to get rental assistance. Scratch that idea. There's a waiting list for rental assistance and rental vouchers in most of the local counties that's as much as three years long, and few to no openings at most low-income apartment buildings. (And those with openings are mostly senior centers.) I'm not waiting two to three years to find an apartment.

Did a little writing after I gave up on the apartment hunt. Han and Chewie fight bravely - Chewie with Thomas, the cowardly servant, on his back - but they're surrounded. Both men are eventually overcome by the guards and pinned down. Lando finally admits that he helped Palpatine lure Han there to keep him from killing him and destroying his livelihood.

Didn't break for dinner until 7:30. Made a cheese n' blueberry jelly omelet with a green salad while watching more Buck Rogers. Buck and Hawk find a glowing green box that they have to deliver to "The Guardians." Things go wrong almost as soon as they bring the box on board the Searcher. Everyone starts to have strange, dark hallucinations. One crew member tries to destroy the box, but it comes right back, making Buck realize that it's leading them to its new owner.

Finished out the night after a shower with "Mark of the Saurian." Thanks to his having picked up an alien virus, Buck can see green lights around an ambassador and his entourage that reveal them to be walking lizards that want to take over the galaxy (in a plot reminiscent of the horror movie They Live from later in the 80's). Buck tries to prove what he's seeing to the others, but they think he's crazy. Buck has to figure out how to prove that he's telling the truth, before the aliens take over the ship.

Oh and it started raining shortly after I got home, and has been raining for the rest of the evening. It's supposed to get into at least the 50's by the end of the week here. I wouldn't be surprised if the snow was gone or partially gone by the time I go to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Hiking to Haddonfield

Began a sunny morning with breakfast, then with making honey corn meal muffins. While they baked very well, the additions of honey and sugar made them much too sweet. If I use this recipe again, I'll use either sugar or honey, or reduce the sugar.

Watched the first half of the next episode of Buck Rogers while I worked. Buck and Wilma find themselves stranded on a hostile world filled with strange "genetic rejects" after they crash-land there while taking an ambassador to peace talks on a "Journey to Oasis." They have to battle the strange caveman-like mutants who live on the planet and follow the riddles of an odd blue-skinned alien in order to make it to the city. Meanwhile, the ambassador is an old flame of Wilma's...and Buck is worried that she may be considering returning to him.

Finally headed out around 11:30. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library. I did organize some DVDs, but I mainly talked to the librarian. I feel like everything's been going wrong lately. Ironically, work is about the only thing that has gone right. I've tried, but everything I do seems to terrify me into stopping. I can't find an apartment. I'm nervous about pushing my blog and promoting my work. The librarians were very sweet to me and said I was trying my best.

I thought about walking to Collingswood and taking the train, but I didn't want to spend the money. I ended up hiking an hour and a half to Haddonfield. At least it was a beautiful day for it. It was sunny and windy, but not to cold, in the upper 30's-lower 40's. The traffic wasn't bad around noon as I made my way down Cuthbert, and then down Haddon.

And of course, when I got there, I discovered that the bike shop in Haddonfield had been replaced by yet another clothing boutique. The next-closest bike shop is in Cherry Hill! I barely had enough time to grab a chicken burrito and Simply Delicious (carrot/apple/orange/lemon) juice before rushing off to counseling. (And of course, I discovered that the bag I was carrying the bike seat in had split and I lost parts. Thank goodness I was able to go back later and find it, and the other missing part was still in my bike basket.)

I tried to explain how frustrating it's been for me lately to Mrs. Stahl when I got there, but I don't know how well I articulated it. She says there's no writing jobs out there for my interests, which are mainly related to history and media...but I have absolutely no choice in the matter whatsoever. I need to make money, and I can't always count on the Acme to give me extra hours. Plus, I'm trying to ween myself away from retail, not throw myself even harder into something that makes me crazy.

I just don't feel very smart. Every time I try to look up jobs, I get nervous. I don't know what's wrong with me, and neither does anyone else. I just want that fear to go away, so I can sell my writing, but I'm not sure how to make it go away. I don't really have any other skills besides writing, reading, editing, and organizing. I've even been afraid to call Rose, because I really don't want to hear a lecture from her about my finances and how bad they are again.

Mrs. Stahl wants me to look up actual, real companies that can use my writing skills - or at least blogs. All I want is an online side job to make extra money so I can actually rent a decent apartment. While I appreciate that Charlie is finally trying to do some things up here, I don't really feel comfortable in my current apartment anymore. Trouble is, I've already called two apartments, and both turned me down because I don't make enough money.

I finally decided after I left that I could not deal with another hour and a half walk, no matter how nice the weather was. I stopped at CVS to get a pineapple coconut sparkling water and money, and then took the train back to Collingswood. I took the back way across Newton Lake Park and past CVS into Oaklyn.

Needed to talk to Dad and Jodie rather badly. First of all, I wanted to see how Dad was doing. He seems to be eating a little bit better, but is still not great. I tried to get a ride to work tomorrow, but neither Jodie nor Dad are great at riding in snow (plus they don't get up early anymore). I did get the number of Jodie's regular doctor. Rose has been after me to get a regular doctor, but I keep forgetting. I just don't get sick that often. Second, Jodie recommended the name of a temp agency in Cherry Hill, JJ Staffing, to find better work.

I looked the up after a quick banana smoothie dinner. The trouble there is, first of all, I need help with my resume. Second is...they mostly seem to hire for medical transcribing, or accounting. I'm worried that no one will want me as a secretary or a clerk because I don't know anything about medical stuff or math, or anything of the things secretaries are supposed to do.

Worked on writing for a little bit after that. Boba of Gisbourne distracted Han by nudging him, making his shot go wild. He gets a second shot that directs the first to the target. The crowd goes wild, and even the nobles are impressed. Han's amazing shooting gave himself away. Palpatine reveals who he is to a shocked crowd and an angry Leia. He forced Lando to lure Han and the others into a trap.

Played a little Angry Birds Star Wars to calm down after I got off the computer. Finally finished the bonus round with the egg-shaped C-3PO, then returned to Hoth. Thins picked up considerably here. A lot of rounds involved Leia having to pull just the right AT-AT leg to bring the whole thing crashing down, or Han having to shoot in just the right spot to send piggies into the snow. It was pretty complicated, and it took a little while.

Finished the night with the first of three weeks worth of Oscar-winning Best Picture musicals I'll be reviewing. I go into further details on the granddaddy of them all, The Broadway Melody, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Broadway Melody

Monday, February 18, 2019

Winter Blues

Kicked off the morning with biographical essays and poems on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in honor of their birthdays and President's Day from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays book. Did a late Valentine's Day cartoon I hadn't gotten to on Thursday as I ate Cornmeal Pancakes and oranges for breakfast. Pink at First Sight follows the Pink Panther as he works as a singing messenger to earn some extra cash. Trouble is, he keeps seeing the female panther of his dreams wherever he goes...and many of his clients, from a woman with a jealous husband to a group of gangsters he inadvertently delivers a bomb to, aren't exactly happy to see him.

Played Angry Birds Star Wars after I ate. Finally finished out the Death Star rounds, including a final round that involved hitting things while moving in the Trench Run. Darth Vader was back as the Final Boss, this time in the form of a TIE Fighter. Ironically, neither the last few rounds of the Death Star, nor the first couple of rounds in Hoth, were as difficult as some of the earlier Death Star rounds. Princess Leia is added to the mix on Hoth; she can pull out objects, which proves to be vital to knocking down some Imperial Pig bases and Walkers.

Decided to try something around quarter of 2. The seat on my bike has been loose since I got it. I thought I'd replace it with the seat I bought for the Huffy bike I had before the one that was stolen. Turns out it's totally the wrong seat for that bike and goes on in a different way. I have no idea how to get it back on. I tried to figure it out, but I just could not make it work. In the end, I gave up, put it inside, and went for a walk instead.

I'm really frustrated. I want to move, but I've already tried calling two apartments, and both turned me down due to my shaky finances. I'm stuck. Everything I try terrifies me. I had a panic attack just looking up how to run a freelance writing business. I haven't done spreadsheets in years, and I'm terrible at math! Trouble is, I'm not sure what else I can do to make money. I don't want another retail job that will make me crazy, and I don't have enough experience to be hired anywhere else. Everything I attempt just makes me more nervous.

I mostly just wandered around the neighborhood, hoping to see a "For Rent" sign somewhere. I can't believe there isn't a nice little cottage or a small apartment in the back of someone's house with an owner that's willing to negotiate. All I need is something simple and small. Just a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. Nothing large or fancy. I'm tired of going shopping every time I want to make a trip, but I don't know where else I can go.

Ended up at Common Grounds Coffee House. They were insanely busy for them...with college students on their laptops or talking among friends and older women knitting and gossiping. I just ordered a hot chocolate and a cinnamon raisin bagel with butter (they were out of jam) and looked at my phone. I wish I knew what to say to all of them, but I didn't.

The blah day matched my blah mood. It was kind-of cloudy, kind-of sunny, although it became out-and-out sunny later. The wind remains strong - the pieces from my bike seat kept blowing away while I worked on it. It was chilly, but not freezing, probably in the lower 40's.

Looked for apartments when I got home. When I saw nothing I could do here or in Gloucester County, I moved on to writing. Han's main rival in the Golden Arrow tournament is Boba of Gisbourne. Han asks him where Sheriff Vader, said to be the best archer in Nottingham, is. Boba casually mentions that he went to the main castle to look for someone.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while starting season 2 of Buck Rogers. Wilma, Buck, and Twiki are all that remain of the original show in "The Time of the Hawk." They're now on board the space ship Searcher, trying to find other scattered Earth colonies. They're joined by two older doctors this time, along with a taller, rather supercilious and obnoxious robot to play off of Twiki (who has a different voice). They discover that the crew of a freighter was attacked by Hawk (Thom Christopher), a bird-man who, along with his mate Kourie (Barbara Luna), is the last of his kind after his people were slaughtered by pirates. Buck tries to convince him that not all humans are evil, and that there may be others of his species out there yet.

Finished the night after a shower with Random Harvest. Industrialist Charles Rainier (Ronald Coleman) has the most devoted secretary anyone could wish, Margaret Hanson (Greer Garson). He eventually marries her after Kitty, the girl who had a crush on him (Susan Peters), sees how crazy Margaret is about him and gives up on him. The only thing is, he's met - and married - Margaret before. She was singing under the stage name Paula Ridgeway when she found him wandering away from an asylum after World War I. He had no memory of who he was or how he'd gotten to the place; he couldn't even remember how to talk. Margaret nursed him back to health and married him, living with him in a small cottage. She's hoping that someday, his memories will return...and that he'll recall the deep love they once shared.

Melodramatic claptrap highlighted by several excellent performances, especially from the two leads. For all the ridiculousness of the plot, Coleman and Garson really do make you believe every excessive bit of suffering. If you're a fan of old-fashioned soap opera or the stars, you'll want to give this one a look.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Birds In Space

Kicked off the day with early work. Though I did squeeze some returns in later in the day and gathered recycling and outside trash, I was mostly doing carts. It wasn't a bad day for it. When I got to work, it was sunny and windless, a perfectly normal day in mid-February. Even later, when it got cloudy, the wind was still gone, and it wasn't too cold for the time of year. Despite the decent weather, we were busy all morning. Most people are likely off this weekend for President's Day. The carts kept vanishing faster than I could gather them! Good thing I had a lot of help later, a teenage girl and two guys.

Went straight home after work. Thought I'd do something a little different after I changed and had a snack, especially since I wasn't tired enough for a nap. I did more Angry Birds Star Wars. Continued to make my way through the Death Star. Obi-Wan Birdnobi got an upgrade after his fight with Vader - his "Force" power that can knock over blocks is a little bit stronger. I also faced my first "boss round," a complicated one where you had to hit Vader on top of two of his "men" (green piggies in Imperial gunner helmets). There's a lot of having to shoot your birds through space bubbles that make them curve upwards or downwards...and often not where you want them to go.

I had so much fun, I didn't start writing until almost 5. Han joins the contest, along with many of the other men - and a few women - in Nottingham. Leia manages to charm her way into the royal box with Palpatine. Han wonders where Vader is - he's a crack shot with a bow and arrow - until Chewie tells him  he saw him following Luke into the castle. Han sends his friend after the young man while he takes part in the contest.

Broke for dinner at 7. Had a couple of leftover chicken sausages with defrosted green beans and almonds. The top of one of my apples had gotten mushy. I cut it off, filled the cavity with butter, brown sugar, and spices, and had a delicious baked apple for dessert.

Finished the night with Dames at Sea. This off-Broadway parody of the Busby Berkeley-style backstage musicals of the 1930's gave Bernadette Peters her first big role as Ruby, the Ruby Keeler ingenue who eventually becomes a star. The music is pretty cute if you know anything about what they're spoofing. "Wall Street," the opening number, was obviously influenced by "We're In the Money" and "With Plenty of Money and You"; "Singapore Sue" parodies "Shanghai Lil" from Footlight Parade, while "Choo Choo Honeymoon" has fun with "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Peters gets my favorite number, the lovely "Raining In My Heart" when she thinks her sailor sweetheart is after the leading lady of the show being held on his battleship.

This apparently turned up on TV in the 1970's with Ann-Margaret as Ruby, Harvey Evans as Dick, and Ann Miller as the original leading lady Moana, and it finally made it to Broadway briefly in 2015. Neither seem to have made nearly as much of an impression as the original (though the revival did get a Tony nomination for choreography). Both lose the joke that this is a big musical being made on a small budget - the original off-Broadway show only used two pianos and drums backing a cast of six. I suspect the original cast album, which is fairly easy to find, should be all you need if you love the musicals of the 30's or Peters.

Oh, and the clouds that had lingered all afternoon finally burst while I was having dinner. It's been on and off for the rest of the night.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Ease On Down the Road

Kicked off a late, sunny day with breakfast and more Buck Rogers. "Buck's Duel to the Death" comes about when the people of Katar bring him to their planet to challenge "the Trebor" (William Smith), an evil warlord who enslaves and terrorizes their people. They believe that Buck is "the Roshan" who will deliver them from evil. Buck's not interested in leading a revolution and tries to encourage the people to take him on their own. The Trebor, however, wants to duel with Buck...which may be hazardous to his health, thanks to the Trebor's ability to control electronic impulses.

Headed out to do the laundry around 12:30. It was surprisingly not that busy when I arrived. It did pick up a little bit later, but it was never really crazy. It must have been too nice for a lot of people to want to be in laundromats. I read the book on professional blogging and ignored the sports and documentaries on NBC behind me.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had a quick lunch before going right back out. It was late, almost 3:30, but I was feeling restless. Between the wet weather we've had all winter and my lack of funds, I've spent way too much time inside in the past few weeks.

I wandered across Oaklyn and through Collingswood, keeping my eyes open for rental opportunities. I eventually ended up in Westmont. The Samaritan Thrift Shop was still pretty busy for almost 4. Didn't find anything I liked there, so I went across the street to see if Phidelity Records had any musicals for me to review. Nope - their movies are mostly comedies, action flicks, and sci-fi. I did pick up the original cast album for the 1960 Broadway show No Strings with Diahann Carroll and the 1968 off-Broadway hit Busby Berkley spoof Dames at Sea with Bernadette Peters, plus the original soundtrack album for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Took the long way home across Newton Lake Park. I dodged a lot of people pushing strollers or out for a walk, enjoying the lovely weather. While not as warm as yesterday, it was just as sunny, and the wind was gone. It was a perfect, icy-blue day for mid-February. The trees are bare black slashes against that pale sky, though the grass is a bit greener than usual, probably due to all the rain.

When I got home, I e-mailed Linda Young and did a little research on Amazon Affiliates, then went into writing. Leia goes to distract Prince Palpatine, while Han and Chewbacca join the contest. Han's enjoying Lando's uptempo song for the court, but Chewbacca thinks he looks nervous about something...

Broke for dinner at 7. Finished out the Buck Rogers first season finale, "Flight of the War Witch," while eating chicken sausages, sweet potato fries with honey, and salad for dinner. Buck, Wilma, and the people of Earth find themselves working with Ardala, Kane, and the people of Draconia to stop the evil witch Zarina (Julie Newmar) from waging war on a peaceful planet in another universe. Buck's not overly happy when Ardala turns him over to Zarina in exchange for passage out of the black hole around the universe...but she learns that there are ladies out there even nastier than herself when Zarina goes back on her deal, and they have to escape together.

And...yeah, I'm glad I bought this. This show is a lot of fun. On one hand, there's a lot that's dated rather badly, including Buck's "girl of the week" revolving door of leading ladies, some of the briefer costumes, and a few very strange storylines. (A galactic whiz kid? Space vampires? Space rock and roll rebellion?) Some of the casting doesn't always come off well today either - Gary Coleman and Jerry Orbach, among others, definitely do not belong here.

On the other hand, Geraud and Gray make a fetching pair, and when the casting works - as with Jack Palance in "Planet of the Slave Girls" and Jamie Lee Curtis in "Unchained Woman" - it can really make for some campy fun. Mel Blanc is absolutely hilarious as Buck's robot buddy Twiki, too. Some of the more creative episodes, like the touching "Dream of Jennifer" and "Happy Birthday, Buck," are really interesting.

In the end, I'm glad I bought this. It's not for those who prefer their sci-fi darker, but if you have fond memories of this show or love camp like me, I highly recommend this wacky trip into a late 70's view of the future.

Finished off the night after a shower with The Wiz Live! I go into further detail on this NBC hit from 2015 on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Wiz Live!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Busy Day In the Sunshine

Slept in for the first time in a while; when I did roll out of bed, it was a bright, sunny day. Charlie thought so, too. He was already outside and cursing around the door when I was getting dressed and having breakfast. Ran another Buck Rogers episode to drown him out while I ate, and later as I took down the Valentine's Day decorations. Buck helps a young high jumper from a totalitarian world escape to Earth with his astrosled-driving sweetheart during the annual "Olympiad." His sponsor has implanted a bomb in him that they can make go off remotely. They have to outrun the signal through the astrosled course...which can be deadly for those who veer off of it.

Headed out to run errands as soon as the episode ended. First stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library. It looks like they're slightly reorganizing the adult DVDs. Instead of making the genre labels all hot pink, as they were previously, they're now different colors - Comedy is bright green, Crime is white, Drama is purple. Whomever did the labeling must have just thrown everything back on the shelf, as many titles were wildly out of order. (And it looked like they were only half-done with the drama.) Other than that, it wasn't a busy day. I looked over the kids' area briefly before heading out.

No wonder the library was dead. As Charlie had pointed out earlier, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was still windy, but not to the degree of earlier in the week, and the temperatures had soared into the lower 60's. I only needed a jean jacket to run around in. It was so nice, I had a quick lunch at Sonic. I was only hungry enough for a hot dog, tater tots, and a cherry limeade. Maybe because it was almost 2 PM by that point, or because of the wind, but I was the only one on the patio. (They may have had a point about the wind. My tater tots almost blew away.)

The Acme wasn't any busier than the Oaklyn Library. I had no problems walking around to do my shopping, and the lines were empty. (And they had plenty of help up front.) Eggs were on sale for 99 cents during the weekend, and 3-packs of sponges are still buy one, get one. Found a lone salmon cake in the seafood case that was also 99 cents. I've been wanting to try the thin chocolate mint cookies with the white chocolate backs, but they were so expensive! Grabbed the last bag from the clearance shelf. Restocked canned tomato sauce and mandarin oranges, skim milk, peanut butter, parchment paper, apples (bags of galas were on sale), oranges, bananas, sugar, corn meal, and ground turkey.

My schedule next week is kind of strange. I have two very early days on Sunday and Wednesday...and two late days on Thursday and next Saturday (the latter until 7). Monday, Tuesday, and next Friday are my off days, Tuesday for counseling.

Went straight home, put everything away as quickly as I could, and went right back out again in less than 10 minutes. I really wanted to return my DVDs to the Haddon Township Library. They were actually a bit busier than some of the other places I visited today, maybe because they were about an hour and a half from closing by the time I arrived. I mainly shelved the adult titles, the kid titles and TV sets being on hold for other volunteers.

Had just enough time after I finish to grab a couple of movies and books. Stuck to all adult titles for movies this week. A couple of people have recommended the Amy Adams/Meryl Streep drama Julie & Julia, about a woman who wrote about famous chef Julia Child and tried her recipes, but I never got around to it until now. Having enjoyed The Shape of Water early last spring, I thought I'd give another Oscar-winner from last year, the drama Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, a try. Also found two tales of romance from the 30's and early 40's, The Girl From 10th Avenue with Bette Davis and Random Harvest with Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson.

I also grabbed a bunch of books. They finally had a book on being a professional blogger. Also found one on being and introvert running a business, The Introvert Entrepreneur, along with one on work in the 21st century and how it's changing and another on careers in mass media and communication. Took out one of the last Mercedes Lackey books they had that interested me, The Sleeping Beauty.

Made a quick stop at WaWa for money on the way home. It was well into rush hour by this point, and they were quite busy. At least there wasn't a line for the ATM machine. I bought a bottle of grapefruit Bubly sparkling water to get change for the laundry tomorrow.

(Incidentally, it turns out Charlie was adding molding around the front door today, which explains all the banging and his needing to have the door open occasionally. It does look much better. Even the exposed wood out there now looks better than the faded yellow siding and peeling brown paint from before.)

First thing I did when I got home was look up Microsoft Word to see how expensive the software is now. To my surprise, you can now use it for free online. Almost every job I see wants you to know everything about Word. I haven't used it in years. I never wanted to pay to download it or for the software on disc. I'll look further into this tomorrow.

Did some writing later. The group breaks up when they arrive at the Nottingham Fair. Thomas and Artoo will scan the crowds for the Sheriff and his minions. Luke and Yoda will keep the Sheriff busy, while Leia does the same with the Prince Palpatine. Han intends to enter the contest for the Golden Arrow and win. He's certain he can do so without being noticed...but Lando-a-Dale seems a bit worried about something...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Watched the next Buck Rogers episode while I ate that salmon cake with roasted broccoli and salad with home-made honey mustard dressing for dinner. "A Dream of Jennifer" goes further into Buck's life in the 20th Century and is a tad bit darker than previous episodes in the series. Buck thinks he sees his former girlfriend from the 20th century and follows her to "City By the Sea" (aka New Orleans). What she's really doing is luring him into a trap set by aliens who want him to attack freighters that are transporting weapons to a rival colony. Buck refuses, until they threaten the girl. It takes help from Wilma, Twiki, and Dr. Theopolis to make him understand that, while we can't go back, we can figure out to live our lives in the best possible way now.

"Space Rockers" goes 180 degrees in the opposite direction, from semi-serious for a space opera to ridiculously goofy, even for a space opera. The wildly popular rock music by the group Andromeda seems to turn teenagers into machines of destruction whenever they have concerts on their worlds. Buck heads to a former space station-turned-broadcasting station to find out how their manager (Jerry Orbach) is managing to send subliminal messages through their music.

Switched to playing Angry Birds Star Wars after dinner. The second world, the Death Star, adds Pilot Luke Skywalker (who splits into three birds) and Chewbacca (who is big enough to slam through anything, including metal that the other birds can't penetrate) to the mix. There were some really tough rounds, especially in space. One round had magnetic pieces that kept attracting my Obi-Wan birds and wouldn't let them blast through. I must have restarted that round thirty times before I finally figured it out.

Finished the night with the short romantic comedy-drama The Girl From 10th Avenue. Miriam Brady (Bette Davis) finds herself saddled with drunk rich boy Geoffrey Sherwood (Ian Hunter) after he sees his former sweetheart Valentine (Katherine Alexander) get married to someone else. Two of his buddies offer her 100 dollars to keep an eye on him, which somehow ends up with the two of them married after they get plastered together. They decide to make a go of things with the help of their landlady, former Florodora Girl Mrs. Martin (Alison Skipworth). Their marriage works out surprisingly well, until Valentine decides she wants Geoff back. Miriam isn't going to take this lying down and ends up in a well-publicized fight with Valentine in a restaurant. Now Geoff has to decide which woman he really wants...and if he wants to return to his previous life of rich aimlessness.

My favorite thing about this one was Skipworth, who was quite funny as the seen-it-all-twice landlady. Otherwise, this was mainly for fans of Davis or the romantic shopgirl-makes-good movies of the Depression era.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Tragic Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day! I kicked off a sunny morning with The Adventures of Luke Skywalker and some holiday reading. The Colliers Harvest of Holidays book only had one story for Valentine's Day, but it was the very sweet The Valentine's Box by Maud Hart Lovelace. A little girl who just moved to a new town and is worried she won't get any valentines makes a friend when she helps her classmate gather her valentines that were blown all over the school yard by the wind.

Samantha Parkington has a more exciting Valentine's Day in Changes for Samantha. Her best friend Nellie and her sisters are now in an orphanage in New York. When Nellie tells Samantha that she's due to be sent away, Sam comes up with a plan to help the girls run away and have them stay in her Aunt Cornelia and Uncle Gard's attic until Nellie can get work. They're eventually found out, but Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia have a special surprise for the girls that gives Samantha the sweetest Valentine's Day gift she could possibly have.

Ran the first of my Valentine's Day specials while eating a quick breakfast. Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers has Cupid (who looks an awful lot like Elmer Fudd) spread love among the Tunes via segments from various shorts, despite Bugs' insistence that he's meddling. Switched to "Past Perfumance" as I got ready for work. It's "lights, camera, chase!" when Pepe Le Pew chases a female cat-turned-skunk all around a French movie studio in 1913.

Work was on-and-off steady for most of the day. It only got really bad at noon, when the lunch crowds came in. I ended up briefly taking the register right before break. Otherwise, I spent the day almost entirely outside doing carts and the outside trash and recycling. I had no problems with this whatsoever. Mother Nature was feeling the love as well. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, breezy, and probably in the mid to upper 40's, too nice to be inside all day anyway.

Did a little research when I got home. I thought a mobile home might work well for me. Trouble is, it turns out that most trailer parks in this area are either buy-only, with no rental properties, or for seniors 55 and over. I'm getting so frustrated! There has to be someone with a small apartment in the back of their house or upstairs who is willing to negotiate with me.

Got a little bit of writing in. Leia poses as a princess from a remote kingdom to gain entry, with the guys as her servants. She manages to quell the guards at the gate with just a few references to Sheriff Vader. Thomas is more worried...and Luke senses that something is wrong...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while watching Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine For You. Pooh sees Christopher Robin making a Valentine for a girl, and he and the others automatically think he's been bitten by the "smitten" bug. They go off in search of the bug to cure Christopher, but the child knows that true friends never leave your heart.

I'd moved on to making a Raspberry Triple Chocolate Fudge cake by the time "Un-Valentine's Day" was on. In this episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Rabbit cancels Valentine's Day to stem the flood of cards Pooh sent the year before. That works about as well as his canceling Easter and Thanksgiving...which is to say, it doesn't. Someone gives Pooh a pot of honey for Valentine's Day, and he feels he just has to give something in return. This ends up in a free-for-all of flying cakes and Pooh dressed as a mail box, before Rabbit finally comes up with putting on a romantic play. But who did give Pooh the original pot of honey?

Switched to playing Angry Birds Star Wars while the cake was in the oven, and later as it cooled. The second half of the Tatoonie rounds takes you into the far reaches of space. That not only involves dodging Stormtroopers and their guns, but having to make some fairly complicated curved shots through airless space, too. I did finish the round; next time, I'll be taking the birds to the Death Star to rescue Princess Stella.

Moved on to the Peanuts while frosting the cake with the raspberry goo that was originally supposed to be fondant. Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown has Chuck waiting and waiting in vain for any Valentine to hit his mailbox. Linus has a crush on his teacher Miss Othmar and buys her a box of candy that Sally assumes is for her. Meanwhile, Snoopy's putting on very messy and romantic puppet shows.

The kids have slightly more luck in A Charlie Brown Valentine. Charlie Brown wants to invite the Little Red Haired Girl to the Valentine's Day dance, but accidentally ends up taking Peppermint Patty and Marcie instead. Sally and Lucy would be happy if their crushes would acknowledge them even that much.

Finished the night with the tragic opera Carmen Jones, featuring powerful performances by Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. I go into more detail on this dark World War II romance at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Carmen Jones

Here's some more animated specials that cover the funnier side of love. I hope everyone enjoys them, and that you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

The Berenstein Bears' Comic Valentine
The Popeye Valentine's Day Special: Sweethearts at Sea
Cartoon Planet Valentine's Day Special
For Better or For Worse: A Valentine from the Heart
From Disney With Love
A Special Valentine With the Family Circus
DTV Romancin'
DTV Doggone Valentine 
Cathy's Valentine

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Windy Day's Work

Began the day at work. Spent the first half of my shift outside, doing carts and gathering trash and recycling. It wasn't a bad day for it, either. It was very windy, but also sunny, and not too cold for this time of year. I got stuck in the register for most of the second half of my shift. Someone called out, and we're still short-handed.

People weren't always in the best moods, either. One man was trying to figure out how much some of the clearance items were, backing up a long line. The man behind him got snippy with him when he offered him his Acme Monopoly tickets. I tried to step in and prevent open warfare. (At least the other guy apologized for cursing. The one behind him just stayed in a bad mood.) And the lady behind them was pregnant, had a fair-sized order, a son that wouldn't listen to her and just kept playing with his Hess truck, and was not happy with their antics. Good thing she was my last customer of the day.

I had a far more pleasant surprise waiting for me in the back room. One of the managers told me I was Employee of the Month! When you receive a compliment or a good review from a customer, it's put in a box. A lucky person gets chosen every month. I got a 50 dollar gift card and they took my picture holding the "Employee of the Month" sign. Used a little of that gift card for raspberries for my raspberry truffles and for a cream-filled donut (don't know how to make those yet).

Went right on the computer when I got home. The man passing through is Lando-a-Dale, a friend of Han's. He tells him and the others that the Sheriff is holding a contest for a golden arrow. Friar Yoda is certain that it will be a trap, but the others see it as an opportunity to lift jewelry and sell the golden arrow for more money to feed the poor and for King Bail's ransom. Leia, Luke, Chewbacca, and Thomas all agree to go into town with Han to keep an eye on things.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers, then tried to make fondant for the raspberry truffles. I must have put too much milk in, or the crushed raspberries made them soup. Whatever the reason was, I now have raspberry sugar soup instead of candy filling.

Had more luck with the next two episodes of Buck Rogers. "Ardala Returns" when she needs someone to pilot a prototype space ship that keeps exploding. She nominates Buck, whom she lures with a space capsule that appears to be from the 20th century. She proceeds to make clones of him and rigs one with a bomb to blow up New Chicago. Meanwhile, Buck's memories are being implanted in the minds of his clones. If he can't stop these menacing duplicates, Earth - and his friends - will be in deep trouble.

"Twiki Is Missing" is a bit of spoof of Charlie's Angels, which was also popular at the time. Three beautiful young women who have telekinetic powers are controlled by a mysterious man on a mining colony. The miners are pushing for better conditions and are ready to revolt. He's hoping to replace them with droids and thinks Twiki would be perfect. The ladies first try to buy Twiki from Buck, then steal him, prompting Buck to follow.

Ended the night with a round of Angry Birds Star Wars. This is pretty much what it says on the tin. The regular Angry Birds characters wear Star Wars costumes and have galactic-themed powers; Han can shoot, Luke can use a lightsaber, Ben can toss bombs and make himself go further. It's really addicting. I was almot three-fourths of the way through the first Tatoonie segment when I realized how late it was getting. I'll definitely be playing this again. It's fun and really cute.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Rain In the Stars

It was pouring rain and sleet when I got up this morning, and continued to in some capacity for the entire day. This was no day to be outside. I had breakfast, then finally finished the cleaning. I really needed to get the dusting done. I mostly just dust around things at this time of year, but I put it off for too long. The entertainment area and my bedroom were especially bad. Made the bed, too. The blankets I layer on me at night keep slipping off.

Watched The Incredibles 2 while I did my chores. We start off right where the previous film left off, with Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson), his wife Helen (Holly Hunter), their son Dash (Huckleberry Milner), teen daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), and Bob's friend Lucius (Samuel L. Jackson) fighting the Underminer. They do manage to stop him from destroying City Hall, but not from robbing a bank. They're out of funds after the program that gave them their home shuts down.

Help comes in the form of wealthy Winston Deaver (Bob Odenkirk) and his sarcastic sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), who want to make superheroes legal. Winston chooses Helen, aka Elasticgirl, as his spokeswoman and the new savior of the city. Helen's thrilled at first, until she keeps running into a supervillain called the Screensaver who seems to be controlling people through their televisions. They turn out to not only be whom Helen expected, but they're someone with a grudge against Winston and superheroes who desperately doesn't want to see them return. Meanwhile, Bob is trying to deal with the kids, including Jack-Jack and his new powers. Edna Mode (Brad Bird) gives Jack-Jack a suit to help control them. All the Incredibles learn a bit about working as a team when they go after Elasticgirl, who is being held captive on Winston's yacht during a major summit.

The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar movies, so yeah, I had a lot of fun with this. The animation is even better, especially in action sequences like the finale on the yacht and Elasticgirl stopping a monorail from crashing. I love the family dynamics and how realistic they are, and it's always great to see the marvelous Edna Mode.

My main complaint is that the villain can be telegraphed from a mile off, and while I appreciate that their motivation is better than usual for a superhero movie, I wish they weren't quite so obvious. Otherwise, if you're a fan of the first movie or the cast, you may find just as much to enjoy here as I did. (And there's rumors swirling around of a third movie. Let's hope it doesn't take them 14 years this time.)

Watched more Buck Rogers during lunch and while beginning the dough for Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Buck and Wilma are on a "Cruise Ship to the Stars" in order to protect Miss Cosmos (Dorothy Stratten), a beauty queen considered to be a genetically perfect woman. Someone keeps trying to attack her, a frizzy-haired thief who calls herself Sabrina (Trisha Noble). While Wilma tries to figure out what she's up to, Buck befriends shy Alison (Kimberly Beck) and her boyfriend Jay (Leigh McCloskey) who are on a trip for her health. Alison insists that she keeps having blackouts and may have hurt someone, but Jay waves it off. Buck's not as convinced...and believes that there's a lot more to the frightened girl than mere illness.

Went on the computer as soon as I put the bread aside to rise. I did more research on being a freelance writer. I'm not sure how well I'll do with this. I want to write, and I want to sell my writing...but I'm not good with money. I'm bad at math, and I'm not good with managing money, either. Every time I try, I never have enough to manage. The more I researched, the more I panicked. How can I do this? How can I sell my work when I can't even talk to people? When I'm not good with people? What if I don't know what to say? And I don't really have the time for a ton of work. I'm just looking for a little bit of writing, just a small side gig, not a full career yet. I want to promote my blog, but I'm afraid of what people will say. I don't want to encourage trolls again.

I did manage to post my blog with several groups on Facebook (including one I didn't mean to post to). I don't know what to do. I want to write...but I'm starting to wonder if random freelance writing is a good idea. I will keep up with all three blogs in the meantime, but I still need money. There has to be some way I can promote the blogs and make money off them without getting nervous!

Broke briefly to knead the dough, roll it out, and brush it with butter and cinnamon sugar before letting it rise again. Baked it while having leftovers for dinner and moving on with Buck. "Space Vampire" moves from camp space opera to straight horror. Buck and Wilma are at a space station getting Twiki repaired when a freighter collides with them. All aboard seem to be dead, the victims of a rare virus. Wilma, however, becomes paranoid about being followed, and when members of the space station crew start turning up as zombies, Buck and Twiki start to wonder what else came in with that freighter.

The bread finally came out during "Happy Birthday, Buck." Wilma, Twiki, and Dr. Huer hold a real 20th century birthday party for Buck to cheer him up on his big day. They assign him to bring psychic courier Raylyn (Morgan Brittany) to New Detroit, but they're captured by a man named Traegar (Peter MacLean) who wants revenge on Dr. Huer for sending him to prison years ago.

(Incidentally, in good news, the bread did actually rise this time, smelled amazing while baking, and tasted quite nice out of the oven. It took long to bake than I thought it would, though, and fell apart when I tried to get it out of the pan. I didn't add enough cinnamon, either. I taste sugar, not spices. Next time, I'll separate this into two batches and just bake one at a time, or use the other batch for rolls or something else.)

Disc 4 ends with "A Blast for Buck." The blast is to the past in this clip show episode when someone sends Buck and his friends a mysterious riddle. Dr. Huer goes back into their minds to try to figure out which of the many villains they've gone up against earlier in the season have a grudge against Buck (and we find out the fate of many of them).

Finished out the night with another blast from the past, the all-African American film Cabin In the Sky, which I review at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Cabin In the Sky

Monday, February 11, 2019

It's a Marshmallow World In the Winter

The snow started last night and continued to fall this morning. It was fluffy, soft, and looked quite pretty on my porch. In honor of the weather, I ran an episode of The Backyardigans, "The Secret of Snow," while I ate breakfast. Uniqua is desperate for it to snow and goes to Ice Lady Tasha and her bored and lonely assistant Austin to find out the secret of making it snow. Tasha has no time for her questions and sends her first to the desert, then the jungle. Uniqua comes back with Cowboy Pablo and Tyrone of the Jungle in tow. When Tasha assigns them to join Austin in making ice, they finally show Tasha that all work and no play makes for an overworked hippo...and that friendship is more important than any "secret of snow."

I've been wanting to call Rose to ask her about the doctor and dealing with Willa for a while now. I hate making phone calls. I never know what to say, especially with Rose, a lawyer who can be intimidating at the best of times. I first wrote down a list of everything I want to ask her or comment on, including calling the doctor and talking to Willa. Second, I did a list of what I need to do now - namely, look up movie and entertainment blogs that might be willing to use a new writer and see what I can do to get my writing out there, without panicking about it.

Did another episode of Buck Rogers while I worked. "Unchained Woman" is a cross between a prison melodrama and a western. Buck gets himself tossed in prison on Zeta Minor to free a woman named Jen Burton (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is supposed to testify against her space pirate boyfriend (Michael Delano). Turns out her man has friends in really high places, including the head of the Zetan government. They have to dodge goons and an android guard (shades of Westworld) that's bent on destroying them. Meanwhile, Wilma tries to meet them, only to be stopped at every turn.

The snow had finally stopped by the time I went to work. It stuck to the grass and my porch and not much else. Streets and sidewalks remained perfectly clear, and I had no problems getting to work or gathering carts. Good thing, too. Other than a brief period doing the trash in the back room and a few returns, I was outside for most of the day. It was actually not as cold as I thought it would be, probably in the lower-mid 40's. It did start snowing later in the afternoon, a little harder than this morning, though it never became anything more than a shower.

Went right to the computer when I got home. Han hasn't left for Baron Du Hutt yet, though he's considering it. There's posters all over Sherwood, but he comments to Zeb that they'll do no good. They've given money to every poor person in town, and the rich people they steal from don't need the money. Leia mentions a cart coming through. She and Han shimmy into a tree together and proceed to do a bit of flirting that ends with a kiss...before well-meaning Thomas reminds them that they're there to steal, not snog.

(Incidentally, it continued to snow after I got home, but I think it started raining while I was writing, and has been a rain and snow mix for the rest of the evening.)

Made a hearty and tasty Cincinatti Chili from Kit's Cooking Studio for dinner. That's become one of my favorite recipes from any of the American Girl historical cook books. It's easy to make, the sweet spices make it unique, and you can pretty much add anything you want. (Beans are a variation - I prefer it without beans, but with cheese.)

Continued Buck Rogers while I ate. The "Planet of the Amazon Women" is Xantia, where men are lured and sold at auction. Buck answers what he thinks is a distress call, only to end up on the auction block when he's captured by the trader Thorne (Jay Robinson). He's purchased by the Prime Minister to give to her daughter Ariela (Anne Dusenberry). Turns out Ariela is against the slave auctions. Their men were captured or killed years ago in a war, leaving them defenseless.They return to Earth to reveal the truth about the slavery and the loss of their warriors, even as Wilma comes to the planet to find Buck and talk to the Prime Minister about keeping Earth out of any wars.

"Cosmic Whiz Kid," which was on while I did the dishes, may be one of the strangest episodes of the entire series. Hieronymous Fox (Gary Coleman) may look and sound like a wisecracking kid genius, but is actually the centuries-old president of the Genesia colony. He's kidnapped by terrorist Roderick Zale (Ray Walston) who holds him for ransom. Fox's bodyguard Lieutenant Dia Cyrton (Melody Rogers) goes to a vacationing Buck to help her save him.

Finished the night and the disc after a shower with "Escape from Wedding Bliss." Buck would question the episode title as he's forced into an almost literal shotgun wedding with Princess Ardala of the pilot movie, or she'll use her huge weapon to blow up every city on Earth. While he keeps Ardala busy, Wilma and Dr. Huer question a Draconian defector who knows the layout of Ardala's starship.