Sunday, March 31, 2019

It's a Windy Day, Charlie Brown

Kicked off the day with early work, the first of two early shifts this week. It started to shower lightly as I was arriving at the Acme, and would shower off and on for the of my shift. Good thing I was only outside for the last hour. I spent the rest of the day doing returns, gathering baskets, cleaning the bathroom, and bagging. We were steady, busier than last Sunday, but never overwhelmingly busy. By the time I finished, the rain was gone, and the sun was coming out.

While the sun had emerged by the time I was at  home and having a snack, it was also colder and much windier. I spent the next few hours working on writing. Ben insists that Luke come with him to Aldera Hills, the mansion in the ritzy part of town where Leia's uncle Bail Ortega lives. Luke protests that he has to get home. His uncle is going to be angry as it is with him being late.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach, scallions, and Italian cheese while listening to the soundtrack for Streets of Fire. How much more 80's can you get than this? Diane Lane plays a singer who is kidnapped by a motorcycle gang. Her ex Michael Pare and manager Rick Moranis set out to find her. There's some terrific songs here, including the opening track "Nowhere Fast," Lane's ballad "Sorcerer," the dance number "Tonight is What It Means to Be Young," and the sole hit, "I Can Dream About You."

Moved to Angry Birds Star Wars after I ate. I did manage to get three stars on at least a trio of rounds out in space, between Tatoonie and the Death Star. Once again, a lot of them involved having Han to shoot in just the right place, or Ben Birdnobi to Force-push blocks over in just the right way.

Finished the night after a shower with the 1999 Broadway cast of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Basically, we have a series of songs and sketches that revolve around the major Peanuts characters, including Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Snoopy, and Sally. Kristin Chenowith as Sally had fun with the new-for-the Broadway version "My New Philosophy," and Anthony Rapp as Chuck had a great time trying to get "The Kite" in the air. Roger Bart's best moment as Snoopy was towards the end, when he expresses his gratitude for it being "Suppertime."

My favorite sketch was "Glee Club Rehearsal." Schroeder is trying to get the kids to practice "Home On the Range," but the Van Pelt siblings fight with each other, and there's arguing about a pencil. Even Chuck eventually gives up, just leaving Snoopy to finish the song. Schroeder also gets the other new song, "Beethoven Day." He wants to have a party for Beethoven, but the kids want to do more, and he ends up complaining about them commercializing it.

If you're a Peanuts fan, this and the original 1966 Off-Broadway cast (which has at least two songs that didn't mke it to Broadway have some enjoyable performances and music and are highly recommended.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Yard Sale Adventures

Kicked off a sunny, breezy morning with a quick breakfast, making the bed, and two more Inspector cartoons. It's a "Cirrhosis of the Louvre" when an art thief called The Blot manages to swipe every masterpiece in the famous Paris museum out from under the Inspector and Deux-Deux's noses. They're "Plastered In Paris" when they're supposed to chase a famous criminal around the world, but he's definitely not what he seems.

Got out around quarter of 10. I'm glad Audubon moved the Town Wide Yard Sale to this week. Not only did I have off, but the weather was much better. Though it remained breezy, it was also unusually warm for this time of the year, in the lower 70's by noon. No wonder they were flooded with cars and people pushing strollers and walking dogs. If yards weren't filled with glassware and baby toys, their owners were planting flowers and trimming trees.

I kept getting turned around. At one point, I found myself on the Black Horse Pike in the next town over, Mt. Ephram. Rode down the Pike until I found the service road leading behind the Audubon Crossings Shopping center and back into Audubon. As I rode down the street, I noticed that the dilapidated former "gentleman's club" had been replaced by a brand-new combination Taco Bell/Pizza Hut. Too bad I didn't know about that yesterday. It's only a block from the Shopping Center. I could have had tacos or a personal pan pizza.

(If I hadn't found out about that earlier, I would have figured it out the moment I checked the mailbox. We were sent coupons for the Pizza Hut half of the building. I might have to give those a try in the next few months.)

By that point, the traffic on the side of Audubon between the Pikes was getting a bit annoying. I made my way across Pine and the White Horse Pike around 11. Continued riding around the neighborhoods bordering Cuthbert Road and Haddon Township for another hour and a half. I had no idea what Charlie was doing, so I stopped at WaWa and bought a small turkey hoagie and a mocha chilled cappuccino on my way home.

I did really well today. This was probably my best yard sale haul in a long time. I found DVD copies of Lawrence of Arabia, Drums Along the Mohawk, the Gary Cooper High Noon, The Right Stuff, the live-action Disney comedy The North Avenue Irregulars, and one I've wanted for years, the cult action musical Streets of Fire.  Picked up the Broadway original cast of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown with Kristin Chenowith and a two-disc collection of Christmas music from, of all places, Bath and Body Works on CD. Found four vintage cookbooks, two Better Homes and Gardens books with bread and crock pot recipes from the early 70's, an 80's Duncan Hines cake mix cookbook, and a Sunkist pamplet from the 50's with interesting citrus recipes. I've enjoyed The Flash so much, I thought I'd give another (relatively) recent DC show a try and picked up the 4th season of Smallville.

(All of the DVDs but Streets of Fire, Smallville, and The North Avenue Irregulars came from a guy about my age who said he just replaced most of his collection on Blu-Ray. The remaining DVDs, the Duncan Hines cookbook, and the CDs came from a house on the Cuthbert Road side of Audubon that had a lot of 80's-themed items for sale. Picked up the Better Homes and Gardens books from one of the first houses I stopped at. I also bought lemonade from their adorable little girl, who pretended to be a horse for me. Bought pink lemonade and butter cookies from an equally adorable young lady who was around the same age - and the same energy level - later in the day.)

Finished out the Inspector cartoons while having lunch and putting everything away. Honestly, some of these cartoons are more than a little strange. The Inspector encounters chicken servants and has to dress like one to get a diamond in "Cockle-a-Doodle Deux-Deux." "Le Quiet Squad" is more like a typical Looney Tunes short, with a noisy cat who keeps interrupting the Commissioner's attempts at rest. He has to deal with an overeager police pooch who drags him everywhere in "Le Bowser Baggage." Also, this is an older set with only the first 17 cartoons; a more recent two-disc set includes all 34 shorts. I enjoyed these enough that I might have to look around for that set.

Worked on writing for several hours after that. Luke and Ben hear the message from Force Girl (Leia) on a cassette tape. She explains that she has given Rudy and Charlie plans for Darth Vader's death ray and they have to get them to her uncle's mansion in Aldera Hills right away. Ben insists on Luke coming, but he's not as sure...

Didn't break until 5. While the wind had picked up by then, it otherwise remained lovely and warm. It was too nice not to go for a walk in the park next-door. I hadn't been over there for a while. The community garden in the center of the park has been tilled and mulched; many of the bushes already have their first pale green leaves. The weather was so lovely, I strolled along a dirt path to the train tracks and took photos of the stunning views of the lake.

Had leftovers for dinner, then tried one of the recipes from my new bread cookbook, Muffins Tropicale...or basically, Pineapple Muffins. Not bad. I replaced the sour cream with Greek yogurt and one cup of regular flour with whole wheat. Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe. It came out very well, nice and sweet and moist.

Continued with The Flash while I baked. Barry's "Out of Time" when the brother of the weather-controlling villain from the first episode returns to avenge his brother's death. Meanwhile, Catalin and Cisco have put two and two together and figured out that Harrison Wells is up to no good, but the truth may cost them more than their friendship with him. In an attempt to protect Iris from a tsunami, Barry discovers a new, and rather surprising, ability - he can run so fast, he goes back in time.

I didn't realize that I put in the wrong disc and accidentally skipped ahead to later in the season. Realizing who Wells is and what he's done, Barry and the others set "The Trap" for him...but as usual, he's one step ahead of them. He ends up kidnapping Eddie, to Iris' dismay. "Grodd Lives," Grodd being the gorilla with psychic powers who was trained by Wells. Barry stops an armored car robbery and is surprised to discover General Elling from "Plastique" is behind it. He's being controlled by Grodd and reveals where the big ape now has Joe under the sewers.

Switched to the animated Dumbo as I settled down online for the night. I go into more detail about the original version of the story of the little elephant with big ears at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Dumbo (1941)

Finished the night with Drums Along the Mohawk. Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert headline as Gil and Lana Martin, a newly married couple from Albany who leave her luxurious life to work his farm in upstate New York's Mohawk Valley. Lana, who comes from a wealthy family, isn't used to frontier life at first and is pretty much panicky about everything around her. Gil's more laid-back, at least until the Revolutionary War practically lands on their doorstep. The men form a milita and try to get their loved ones to a near-by fort. Not only is Lana pregnant and loses their child through rough handling, but the Tories (British sympathizers) and more aggressive natives destroy their farm. They move in with rich but eccentric Mrs. McKlennar (Edna May Oliver), who stays with Lana when Gil rejoins the milita. It's she has to stay with him when he comes back sick. He still goes back...and this time, he becomes a hero when he hurries through enemy lines to get supplies for the settlers.

John Ford's first color movie is an action-packed Revolutionary War saga. Colbert is a bit shrill as the Albany belle who has to get used to the wilderness. Fonda is much better as her husband, and Oliver is terrific as the older lady who is a lot tougher than she looks. If you're a fan of the cast, Ford's other work, or tales of American history, you might want to give this one a try.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Busy, Busy Spring

I got up early enough to be able to have breakfast, make the bed, and tidy up in the back room and around the apartment before Charlie arrived. Watched a couple of Peanuts specials in honor of the start of baseball season while I worked. Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown, since she's the worst player on Chuck's team. Trouble is, no one will take her. Peppermint Patty wants Snoopy, but the kids she trades for him won't play on Chuck's team. Even when she does finally take Lucy, she gives Chuck Marcie. Marcie is a very sweet girl, but she's no good at baseball and only plays because her best friend does.

Chuck has even less luck in the second Peanuts special, Charlie Brown's All-Stars. The only way he can keep the kids from quitting all together is by telling them a local businessman promised them uniforms. Trouble is, he won't sponsor a team that features several girls and a dog. It takes a tongue-lashing from Linus to remind the others that, no matter what Charlie Brown's failings are, he was looking out for them.

It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown from 1992 is basically the same story, only this time, in order to get the uniforms, the kids have to win a game. This time, help comes in the form of Freida's little brother Leland, who has decided he's good enough to play with the big kids.

After Charlie arrived, I spent the next few hours working on writing in my room. Ben hands Luke his father's Khyber Saber, Blue Fire, which he'd used to help take on the Nazis and Sith during World War II. The moment Luke takes it into his hand and holds it under a sun beam, he manages to blow every comic in the place off the shelf and take out a substantial chunk of Ben's counter with a sun ray. Luke's apologetic, but Ben's delighted. He seems to have inbred abilities of his own, much like his father...

Headed out around 11:30 to run errands. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. They were pretty quiet. It was just me, the librarian, and one or two people on the computers. They have several of the Pink Panther and Friends collections; I took out the one focusing on the Inspector. I also grabbed Bohemian Rhapsody for review on my Musical Dreams blog onTuesday.

I was originally going to hit Sonic for lunch. It was cloudy and a little cool, but warmer than it has been. A large crowd of chattering teenagers gathered around the outside ordering intercom at Sonic scratched that idea. I wondered what all the kids were doing there during school hours when I noticed two yellow buses from schools in Camden across the way in the parking lot between Sonic and Arby's. They must have been on their way back from a school field trip. Well, that killed that idea. Not only had they invaded Sonic, but Chick Fil'A was mobbed as well. The last time I had anything from Arby's, I spent the next few days with severe heartburn.

Ended up at Tu Se Bella's by default. I hadn't had pizza out in a while, anyway. Had a slice of cheese and a slice of mushroom, spinach, ricotta, and tomatoes. Washed it down with that new Orange Vanilla Coke. Thankfully, they weren't so busy that I didn't get my pizza in less than five minutes. Everything was delicious, as always. The vegetable pizza was amazing. Loved the orange Coke, too. Tasted like a creamsicle.

Grocery shopping was next on my list. I was mainly there to restock and buy things for dinner tonight. Picked up shredded Italian cheese, Parmesan cheese, and pasta for my meal They were having a good chicken sale; I bought ground chicken and chicken tenderloins. Citrus fruit had gotten so expensive, I opted for low-sugar strawberry applesauce to go with breakfast. Grabbed pears, skim milk, bananas, yogurt, white and brown sugar, and peanut butter.

Mixed feelings on my schedule next week. On one hand, it's a bit closer to normal, with the days off more spread out (and one on Monday). However, I have slightly fewer hours, and early hours on Sunday.

Put on a few Inspector cartoons while I got everything organized. "The Great DeGaulle Stone Operation" is a plan to keep the diamond out of the hands of the three-headed thief the Maxi-o-Reilly Brothers...but the Inspector just can't seem to keep it away from them. (One of the brothers is pretty much an annoying Asian stereotype.) The Inspector and his Spanish partner Deux-Deux go after Captain Clamity and Crab Louie, but their attempts to "Reaux, Reaux, Reaux Your Boat" just keep giving the Inspector that sinking feeling. The Commissioner becomes "Napoleon Blown-Apart" when the Mad Bomber keeps tossing explosives at him wherever he goes, despite the Inspector's best efforts to keep him safe.

Headed back out after the groceries had been put away. This time, I went straight to the Haddon Township Library. They weren't too busy, either. It showered lightly earlier in the day, but by 2:30, the rain was gone, and while it remained cloudy, it was also warmer. I mostly shelved quite a few DVDs. Limited the DVD rentals to the last Daniel Tiger set I hadn't seen, Daniel On the Farm, and another new release I really wanted to see, First Man.

They finally seem to have finished rebuilding the McDonald's on the hill under the library. It's boxy and "space-age," though the gray and yellow paint is a bit bland. (From what I could see when I passed it, it also no longer has an indoor playground. Khai is going to be so disappointed.) I was now able to take the long way home across the park again. I wasn't the only one. With the rain gone and the sun trying to come out, I dodged dog walkers, joggers, kids walking home from school, and members of Haddon Township High School's spring track team.

Made a very quick stop at Dollar General on the way home. I needed eggs, and they're a lot cheaper there than they are at the Acme. I went in, I bought them, I got out.

Headed straight home after that. Made baked pasta for dinner; a layer of tomatoes and sauteed onions, then a layer of browned ground chicken, then a layer of pasta, topped with Italian cheese and Parmesan and tomato sauce. Yum! Other than the sauce was too thin and didn't stick to anything, it came out very well, nice and flavorful.

Moved on to making Lime Cookies from that one-bowl cookie cookbook Lauren sent me a while back after dinner. They came out just perfect, even though I used lime juice instead of lime extract (which I didn't have), nice and chewy.

 Ran the Daniel Tiger farm-themed episodes while I ate and worked. Daniel's thrilled to introduce Margaret to the farm where the duck his school hatched now lives in "Daniel and Margaret Visit the Farm." He sees Chrissie there, riding her horse Peaches, and wants to try it too...until he's on the horse and realizes how big it is. Daniel Sr. holds his son's hand until he's used to riding. Dan has to hold Margaret's hand when she's nervous about feeding the ducks birdseed.

It's "Clean-Up Time" for Daniel and O the Owl when they keep leaving toys all over while they play farm. Mrs. Tiger has to remind them to clean up...until Dan loses his favorite watch, and they have to pick up everything to find it. "Daniel Uses His Words" when he's so mad at his mother for moving his farm toys, he just sputters. She reminds him that there's a better way to express his anger. Daniel loves helping his mother with "Margaret's Bathtime." He enjoys taking care of his little sister and making sure she gets scrubbed clean and is happy. (The two of them playing together is sooo precious!)

Played some Angry Birds Star Wars after a shower. This time, I did manage to get three stars on at least two of the rounds, and two stars on another. It's really hard to figure out how to get the Han birds to shoot just right, or where to aim the Luke red birds and their lightsabers. I'll be starting out in space the next time I play.

Finished the night with a couple of episodes of The Flash. Wells is the one in trouble in "The Sound and the Fury." Hartley Rathaway, aka The Pied Piper, had once been one of his brightest assistants...but he was also an arrogant rich jerk with no social skills, and no one at STAR Labs was unhappy when he was fired. Angry, he uses sonic blasts to decimate his targets, including Barry. Wells and the others have to find a way to put him out of commission...but he claims that he knows where Ronnie, now Firestorm, wandered off to...

Which leads us to "Crazy for You." While Barry and Wells chase down a woman who uses her teleportation powers to help her boyfriend pull off a heist, Cisco tries to get Hathaway to tell him what he knows about Ronnie. Barry does manage to catch the girl, but Hathaway reveals that Ronnie merged with well-known scientist Martin Stein (Victor Garber) during the particle accelerator explosion before he escapes.. Meanwhile, Barry's started to date a girl named Linda (Malese Jow) who works at the newspaper with Iris.

Things get really hot under the collar in "The Nuclear Man." Turns out that it's Stein's mind in Ronnie's brain, to Catalin's horror. Stein agrees to a series of tests. To everyone's horror, it would seem that the atoms of the two men are in conflict, and if they don't do something soon, he'll explode and decimate the entire city. Stein flees outside of town before that can happen, but Barry and Cisco think they may have a way to separate the men...

The "Fallout" is difficult for both men. Turns out their minds have melded into one. What one feels, the other feels, too. The crazy General Elling from "Plastique" now intends to grab both men for his experiments. Catalin just wants to live a normal life with the man she loves, but Ronnie knows that isn't possible with Elling on their tale and finally leaves with Stein. Meanwhile, Wells - and his psychic gorilla - have their own ways of dealing with the mad military man.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Day In the Sun

Kicked off the morning with a quick breakfast while watching more Flash. "The Man in the Yellow Suit" makes Barry's Christmas less-than-jolly when he attacks the Flash while he's protecting a new technology revolving around faster-than-light particles. To his horror, he realizes that this is the man he saw killing his mother. Meanwhile, Catlin and Cisco make their own discovery when they find out that, not only is Catlin's boyfriend alive, but he's got some smoking hot powers of his own...

Captain Cold is back in "Revenge of the Rogues," this time with his fire-based partner Mick Rory. When they grab Catlin, the guys have to find a way to rescue her and get Barry around their pulling a Ghostbusters trick and crossing their streams.

After I made the bed, I spent my remaining hour before work cleaning up in the back room. Stuff was spread out all over the floor in plastic bags and cloth totes. I moved almost everything to boxes except for the stuffed animals, which went into the now-empty tote bags.

Once again, work was as dead as can be. It got a little bit steady around noon-1 PM, but was otherwise no trouble. Not only did baseball season start today (the Phillies murdered the Braves, 10-4), but it's the end of the month, and the weather is just too nice to be inside. It was sunny and still windy, but not nearly as chilly has it has been. I shelved candy when I arrived, but I spent most of the day gathering carts and baskets and sweeping the patio.

Charlie was just finishing up when I got home. He put on the actual walls and covered the rivets. He's talking about putting the window in the bathroom, then returning to the living room to paint the new walls before he moves on to my bedroom.

Finished up in the back room after he left. After everything I wanted to donate was in boxes or bags, I did a little writing. Ben explains the history of the Jedi Knights, telling Luke how they fought alongside the Allied nations in World War II. His father Anthony had been Ben's sidekick Blazing Boy as a child before growing up and becoming known as The Hero With No Fear.

Broke for dinner at 7. Made scrambled eggs with scallions, spinach, and mushrooms while watching Star! I go into more detail on this lavish vehicle for Julie Andrews at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Close Encounters of the Flash Kind

Kicked off an early morning with more Flash. "Plastique" is a young woman who can turn anything she touches into a bomb. Unlike some of the other villains The Flash has rounded up, she's more confused than evil. She's on the run from a general who is determined to use her abilities. Unfortunately, also unlike the others, the bomb shrapnel that caused her condition bonded with her and can't be removed. Upset and angry, she easily allows Wells to persuade her to go after the General, whom he has some ugly past history with.

Work was generally as quiet as it's been all week. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, breezy, and in the mid-50's. Not only is it too nice for people to be in a grocery store, but it's the end of the month, and the only thing going on is March Madness. I did get stuck in a register briefly when it got mildly busy around noon. Otherwise, I gathered carts and baskets, did returns, shelved candy, and did the outside trash and recycling.

It was so nice, I took the long way home down Nicholson Road again. This time, the traffic was far milder, and I had no problems on the road. Everything is just starting to get greener here. Daffodils are blooming in yards; buds swell on the trees.

To my surprise, Charlie was gone when I arrived, but he did cover the kitchen wall with what I assume to be boards. I had a snack and got organized while continuing with The Flash. Barry's stuck in a "Power Outage" when a high-voltage villain can not only drain electricity, but his powers as well. He has to figure out how to overcome his fears when this new menace attacks Wells. Meanwhile, Iris has to deal with another villain, the Clock King, on her own.

Worked on writing for a while after that. Ben explains to Luke that he was one The Negotiator, a member of the elite superhero squadron from the years before, during, and after World War II known as the Jedi Knights. His father Anthony was their most famous member, The Hero With No Fear, before he was (ahem, supposedly) murdered by Darth Vader. Rudy made their gadgets and weapons.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. My Saucepans and the Single Girl cookbook had a simple quick recipe for cabbage and cooked noodles sauteed in butter called "Noel's Noodles." I used regular pasta rather than the egg noodles called for, but other than that...oh, yum! Earthy and slight sweet, it was a nice accompaniment for the last turkey burger and a spinach salad.

Returned to The Flash while I ate. I was going to skip "Flash Vs. Arrow" until after I'd seen the latter show, but since I already had it on, I figured, why not? "Arrow" is The Green Arrow, aka Robin Hood-like vigilante Oliver Queen. He arrives to help Barry and his friends deal with the Rainbow Raider, a villain who sends people into rages by touching them. Unfortunately, Barry's been effected...and his powers makes the anger last longer and even more uncontrollable. It'll take help from Joe and Oliver to get Barry to calm down and help them find the real culprit.

Finished the night after a shower with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Electrical lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) finds himself up closer to a UFO than he ever wanted to be when he's nearly burned by one. He nearly runs over upset mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) and her son Barry (Cary Guffey), who have also seen the strange vehicle. Roy and Jillian become obsessed with UFOs and paranormal activity, to the annoyance of Roy's wife Ronnie (Terri Garr). Their worst fears are realized when little Barry vanishes. Meanwhile, they're not the only one interested in alien activity. A group of United Nations scientists are also on the track of these strange beings from another planet and have even figured out a way to contact them. But it's Roy they want to join them on their travels...and only he can get them to release those they've taken over the years.

Wow. This was really weird, especially for Steven Spielburg. Dreyfuss and Dillon were excellent as the duo who become more and more convinced that Earth's been visited by folks from another world. French actor and director Francois Truffault made his only English-language movie as one of the French scientists. The real stars are the incredible cinematography and special effects, especially when we actually see the UFOs towards the end, and John Williams' majestic score. If' you're more into the darker side of sci-fi than I am, you'll probably find far more interest in this much-loved classic.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Sunny Side of Life

Started off a sunny morning with breakfast and more of The Flash. I backtracked a bit to the first disc and the third episode, "Things You Can't Outrun." As the group at STAR Labs creates a prison for the metahumans they capture to reverse their mutations, Barry finds himself dealing with a killer who is using his ability to transform into poison gases to kill off the people who sent him to jail...and Iris' dad Joe may be his next victim.

Charlie still hadn't arrived by 10:30, so I made the bed and cleared off the top of my printer while I waited for him. Ran the next episode, "Going Rogue," as I did my chores. This one introduces one of The Flash's most famous adversaries, the ice-based vigilante Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold. Barry is showing a visiting Felicity Smoak (from another DC show, Arrow) around town when he's called to stop an armored truck robbery. Unfortunately, he's nearly left in a coma by Snart's ice-shooting gun. Barry's upset that he wasn't able to save everyone...and he's even more angry when it turns out that his friend Cisco made the gun that Snart stole. Meanwhile, Joe is less than pleased with his daughter Iris' relationship with his dull partner Eddie.

He finally arrived around 11, shortly before I left for work. Work was even quieter than it's been the past few days. This time, we never even got remotely steady. I spent the whole day outside, rounding up carts, sweeping the patio, and gathering the trash and recycling. It was a nice day for it. While the wind was chilly and blustery, it wasn't quite as bad as it was over the weekend, and the air was warm when you could get into the sun. We had plenty of help and no problems whatsoever.

It was such a gorgeous day, I took the long way home from work. It was almost rush hour, and I ended up dodging a lot of traffic on Nicholson Road. Atlantic was a lot easier to deal with. The neighborhood is really looking like spring now, with buds on the trees and more and more grass sprouting on yellow lawns.

Charlie was starting to wind down when I arrived. Along with putting in the kitchen window and the insulation around it, he'd taken out the old exhaust fan for the stove that, for some reason, was on the side of the house across from the stove, and covered the hole. I'd had it covered with plastic since I moved in. Not only has it not worked the entire time I've lived here, Charlie revealed that it wasn't even hooked up to anything. He also talked about taking out a window in my bedroom to expand the closet so I can actually hang things in it. I'll be able to get rid of those cheap wardrobes that are falling apart.

Worked on writing for a while after he left. Luke and Rudy learn that their rescuer is Ben MacKenner, the owner of Ben's Comics. To Luke's shock, it turns out he was known as the Negotiator, a member of the elite superhero group the Jedi Knights, during World War II. He went into hiding after the group was disbanded. Rudy recognizes him, and so does Charlie after he's coaxed from behind the trash cans. Ben says he'll explain further inside...

Rose called while I was writing. First of all, she confirmed that Dad-Bruce is feeling much better, and will be undergoing a new series of tests this spring. She didn't have as much luck with the doctor they all wanted me to see. Turns out that doctor is booked months in advance and has a long waiting list. They're looking up more doctors in the area who might be easier to get into. We also discussed Lauren's visit. She might be able to drive her from the station when she arrives, since she works in Camden, but we will either need to talk to the family to drive her to the station going home, or take Uber.

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. I had leftovers and took a shower. Watched the 1949 biography of 1920's Broadway star Marilyn Miller, Look for the Silver Lining, before and after my shower. I go into more details at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Look for the Silver Lining

Monday, March 25, 2019

Flash In the Rain

Kicked off the morning with breakfast and an episode of The Backyardigans. It's a case of "Cops and Robots" when space police officers Uniqua and Tyrone pursue bad bots Tasha and Pablo. The evil duo have stolen the key to the intergalactic robot factory. If they get into the factory, they'll turn all the robots bad! (The song "Can't Stop the Cops" is one of the catchiest in the entire series. It'll be in your head for days.)

Hurried off to the laundromat to get this week's load done. I really needed clean work clothes. Picked the right day to do it. It was dead when I arrived. By the time it started to pick up, my clothes were almost out of the dryer. I didn't have a huge load, anyway. I was in and out in less than an hour.

Good thing, too. I had just enough time when I got home to put everything away, then have a lightning-fast yogurt and banana lunch. Relived some fond memories and listened to the Billy Joel album An Innocent Man while I ate. This is one of the first records I remember listening to constantly as a child. I can still sing every song on on my CD copy. Mom and Dad were huge Billy Joel fans, and their enthusiasm carried over to us. "Uptown Girl" and "Leave the Tender Moment Alone" are still two of my all-time favorite pop songs.

Hurried off to work around noon. Turns out the rush was unnecessary. We were only slightly busier this afternoon than we were yesterday. Got some returns done early in the day, but I was mostly outside, doing carts and the outside trash, even after it started to rain around 1:30. The rain picked up a bit later, which slowed down the crowds and made me damp.

It was just starting to slow down when I headed home, enough that I was still wet when I got in. I dried off while working on my story. Luke and Charlie head to Jutland, the poorer side of town. They manage to track down Rudy in an alley, but also have a close encounter with the gang the Tusken Raiders. They're about to seriously hurt Luke and Rudy when they hear a police siren and what they think is a police officer. It's enough to scare them off, but Luke's too dazed to run...

Didn't break for dinner until 7:30. Had leftovers, then made a quick pan of Fudgy Brownies while watching an episode of The Flash. Couldn't remember where I left off, so I picked up with the second disc. "The Flash Is Born" after an encounter with a car thief with metal skin leaves him battered, bruised, and embarrassed. Turns out the thief was Tony Woodward, aka Girder, who bullied Barry frequently as a child. While his friends try to beef up Barry's speed to deal with this iron-fisted menace, Joe, the father of his friend Iris West, questions head of STAR Labs Harrison Wells about his possible involvement in the murder of Barry's mother.

Finished the night with Ocean's 8. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of Danny Ocean, is back on the street after her ex-boyfriend, art dealer Claude (Richard Armitage), sent her up the river. She hopes to get him back by pulling one big heist - lifting a priceless necklace off Daphne, a famous actress (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Gala. Her best friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) helps her round up a motley assortment of ladies to help them out - pickpocket and hustler Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rhianna), debt-ridden fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), mother and stolen goods fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), and jewelry maker Amita (Mindy Kaling). In addition to pulling off the jewelry heist of the decade, they also have to deal with a bumbling detective (James Corden) with connections to Debbie.

2018 was a good year for female thieves. While Widows explored the serious side of heist movies, this one is just about the ladies having a good time in fabulous clothes. Carter was especially funny as the ditzy designer; also liked Rhianna's tough computer whiz and Hathaway as the brighter-than-she-looks actress. If you're looking for a lighter heist caper that's closer to the original Ocean's movies than Widows, you'll want to join in and check this one out.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Sweetest Sounds

Started off a lovely, sunny morning with The Music of Spring as I made lemon ginger pancakes for breakfast. This is a "limited edition" Columbia LP that I'm guessing is from the early 60's, as it includes the title songs of Camelot and Never on a Sunday. Side one are songs that do revolve around spring, or at least have spring in the title, like "Spring In Manhattan," "April In Paris," and the New Christy Minstrels folk number "Green Green." Side two seems more like a collection of whatever happened to be popular at the time, including the two title songs and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly."

 Spent the next hour or so writing. Rudy has taken off in the furniture van, thanks to Luke having left the keys in the ignition. Luke agrees to take Charlie after his friend in his vintage 1950's Cadillac. Charlie's more annoyed than anything. He understands the need for haste, but Rudy just stole these nice people's car, and he could get into trouble. Luke's more upset that he left his precious Jedi Knights comics in the car than anything.

Broke for a very quick lunch at 1 while listening to my Starflight K-Tel record. There's a couple of unusual selections on this album, including "Makin' It" from Meatballs and "Do It Or Die" by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. I bopped along while enjoying my Chocolate-Coffee-Banana Smoothie.

Headed off to work as soon as I finished cleaning up from my drink. Work was...very boring, especially for a Sunday. There just isn't much going on besides March Madness, and most people were probably out and about, enjoying the sunny, lower-60's weather. For once, we also had way too much help. There were two young baggers in training, plus at least two others while I was there along with me. Considering how many cashiers they had on as well, I'm wondering if they expected it to be a lot busier today.

Went straight home after work. It had gotten cloudy, windy, and cooler, making it no day to linger. Had leftovers for dinner, then decided I'd give Angry Birds Star Wars another shot. I'm really having a hard time trying to get to three stars with some of these. I spent almost a half-hour on one round before I gave up and moved on, and then did ten minutes on another before I finally decided that it was late and I needed a shower.

Finished the night with the original cast album for No Strings. This would be Richard Rodgers' only solo outing on Broadway writing words and music...and honestly, he's not bad. There's some lovely music in this simple tale of a black model in Paris (Diahann Carroll, who won a Tony for her role) who falls for a layabout writer (Richard Kiley) with a bad case of writer's block. He eventually goes home to Maine, but she enjoys living in Paris too much and stays. Broadway's first interracial romance is highlighted by the standard "The Sweetest Sounds," which is used as a duet for our lovers at the beginning and end of the show to highlight their longing for someone new...and for a way to forget the other after they leave.

It's not the most complex musical in the universe, and some of the side characters can get a little obnoxious, but if you're a fan of Rodgers, Carroll, or Kiley, or want to hear some nice love songs about an unusual love affair, this is worth checking out.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Way Down In Oaklyn

Kicked off a sunny and gale-force windy morning with breakfast and an episode of The Backyardigans. "Pablor and the Acorns" is one of the show's more bizarre spoofs. Pablo is a galactic warlord who follows the Crystal of Power to Earth, where it lands on top of Buttercup Mountain. He's helped to the mountain by Tyrone, Austin, and Tasha, three Scout-like Acorns. It's this cheerful trio who end up teaching Pablor and his rival Uniquor the value of learning and helping others.

I left early, just as Charlie was coming upstairs to start work. I wanted to check out the Audubon Town-Wide Yard Sale before work...but when I got into Audubon, I saw no yard sales. Checking my phone revealed that it had been canceled, due to the high winds. Rats. I ended up at a very busy Goodwill. Picked up The Dark Knight and the Don Bluth Thumbelina, the latter for review next month.

After all that, work was no problem whatsoever. We were steady on and off, but never that busy. I spent most of the late morning and early afternoon rounding up carts and doing the outside trash and recycling. When two college-age guys arrived later and took over the carts, I gathered baskets and shelved candy and returns. Yes, it was windy and cold, but it was also sunny when you weren't getting blown down the street.

Charlie was just winding down when I got home. He's covered most of the wall around the new windows with plaster, installed a new light switch box that will eventually control the porch light as well as the one in the kitchen, tore out the also insulation-free walls in the kitchen, and moved some exposed wires that used to lay right in front of the door as you enter the house.

His complaints about the apartment's desperate need for upgrading confirmed something I've suspected for years. Everything that was ever done to this apartment was done on the cheap. That new carpet Miss Ellie supposedly had laid before I moved in is thin, easily stained, and has been raveling since it was put down. The wardrobes and dresser that came with the house are likely from Wal-Mart and have been falling apart for years.

Did some writing after he left. Continued to re-write Luke driving Charlie and Rudy to his uncle's shop. Luke protests when Charlie and Rudy sit on his prized Jedi Knights comics books. The original artist stopped making them years ago. Rudy comments on his having known both the Knights and Luke's late father, Anthony Skylander. Charlie notes the college textbooks on the floor of the van and asks Luke if he's studying flight and physics in college, which he is. Luke wants to be a pilot, but his uncle would rather he took over his hardware store.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while watching the Disney animated film The Princess  and the Frog. I go into more detail on this New Orleans fairy tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Princess and the Frog

Finished the night with The House With a Clock In Its Walls. After the death of his parents in a car crash, ten-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) goes to live with his Uncle Johnathan (Jack Black), a freewheeling man child who owns a chair that acts like a dog and clocks all over the house and insists that he has no rules at all. He's constantly sniping with his neighbor Florence (Cate Blanchett), but they're old friends and really mean nothing by it. Lewis is surprised to discover that his odd uncle is a warlock, and Florence is a witch. They're trying to find a clock in the walls of the house that was created by the house's previous owner, and evil warlock named Issac (Kyle MacLachlan). In an attempt to impress a boy at school, Lewis opens a spell book his uncle told him not to touch and performs a spell that can bring people back from the dead. He does too well and brings back Issac. Now he, Johnathan, and Florence have to discover the house's secrets, before Issac finds a way to bring an end to humanity as we know it.

Atmospheric kids' horror-mystery reminds me a lot of many similar 90's family fantasy films, including Hocus Pocus and the first three Harry Potter movies. The director, Eli Roth, normally specializes in gory horror. That explains some of the more adult scares early in the movie and some of the spookier special effects, including the clock itself. If you're a fan of Blanchett or Black or those kid fantasy tales, you'll want to give this short but interesting movie a look.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Wild Is the Wind

Began a windy morning with breakfast and the last two episodes of Man from Atlantis. The "Siren" is a mermaid who has been captured by modern pirates. They use her hypnotic song to lure ships and raid them. Mark and his new co-worker Jenny get involved when one of the ships they raid belongs to a millionaire, whom the pirates capture. Mark has to rescue him, without getting caught in the siren's song.

The final episode is "Deadly Carnival." Two members of a traveling carnival (one is Billy Barty) want to break into a museum, but they need someone who can swim underwater for a long time. C.W convinces Mark to join them. He becomes a sideshow attraction, and is just starting to fall for the female barker for his act when the others realize he's onto them...and they're going to make sure he does what he's told.

And that's it. It was...ok. Not bad, but not great. For one thing, the special effects were pretty obvious and not very good, especially the "monstrous" creatures in "Man 'O War" and "Scavenger Hunt." I know it's TV, but they couldn't have tried to make that giant jellyfish look less like an inflatable toy? And why did the writers feel the need to time travel?" "Giant" and "Shoot-Out at Land's End" are mildly passable - the former introduced the crafty Muldoon, while the latter deals with Mark trying to find his past - but "The Naked Montague" had nothing whatsoever to do with Mark or the rest of the show. I really wish they'd stuck to the ocean instead of trying to toss Shakespeare and Gunsmoke in. At least "C.W Hyde" was adapted from a horror novel that somewhat fit the tone of the show.

Bland characters don't help. Neither Elizabeth nor Jenny in her one appearance really add all that much. C.W is slightly more engaging, especially in the later episodes where he has more to do. Schubert does make for an amusing villain, and Muldoon's funny in his two outings. When the show actually does focus on the "Star Trek Under the Ocean" idea - like with "Man 'O War," "Melt Down," "Imp," and "Siren" - it can actually be pretty interesting.

While I enjoyed it enough that I didn't mind the rental, I'm definitely not going to pay the high price at the Warner Archives for the full show set. If you're more of a sci-fi fan than me or have fond memories of seeing this show in the late 70's, you may find this a lot more to your taste than I did.

Headed out as soon as "Deadly Carnival" ended. It was cloudy, cold, and windy when I made my way to the Oaklyn Library to return the DVDs. There were two men working on the lights in the children's area. I only lingered long enough to give the DVDs a look-over and take out a double-feature set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Starman and The Flash: Season One, which I never finished when I had it out that one time a few years ago.

Dodged lunch traffic on Nicholson Road as I headed for the Acme to do some grocery shopping. The sales weren't nearly as good this week, but there were still things I needed. Grabbed ground turkey on clearance and the Belvita sandwich cookies on a good sale with an online coupon; also had an online coupon for the Acme's organic blue corn chips. Cooking spray and organic tea were buy one, get one. Restocked oranges, pears, bananas, yogurt, butter, sandwich bags, tissues, skim milk, cereal (the generic Acme brand was the cheapest - got bran flakes), cheese, muffin papers, mandarin orange cups, and chocolate chips.

I'm not entirely happy with my schedule this week. In good news, slightly more hours. In frustrating news, I don't have another day off until next Friday, although I do get Friday and Saturday off. Why couldn't they have separated my days off? At least none of my hours are terribly long, and I work later on Sunday.

Spent the rest of the day at home. As soon as I got in, I put everything away, then made an orange-banana smoothie for lunch. Watched a couple of episodes of Danger Mouse from Series 9 while I organized and ate. DM has to deal with not one, but two versions of his hamster buddy in "Penfold Transformed." Dr. Crumhorn has captured Penfold and made a robotic version that can turn into a killing machine (in what's likely a parody of Transformers). Not to be outdone, Greenbach tosses his lackey Stiletto into a Penfold suit. DM's just wondering why his partner is a lot more competent than usual.

"I Spy With My Little Eye" two confused spies who find themselves in the Arctic when Greenbach sends all the Inuit sun lamps to melt the ice caps and flood the world. DM has to keep him from pulling this off...and remind him that most Inuit don't exactly have electricity.

They have "A Dune With a View" when they're stranded in the Sahara Desert after their car runs out of fuel. They find themselves lost and wandering in circles, hoping to find fuel, water, or just a way to avoid the sudden sand storms and the narrator acting barmier than usual.

Worked on writing for a while after that. I once again re-wrote Luke's entrance. He's reading a comic book in his uncle's van when two guys jump in. They tell him they're being chased by bad guys and need to get to a certain comics shop on Kirby Street. Luke tells them he'll take them, but he has to stop at his uncle's first. His uncle is less than thrilled about Luke's reading habits and refuses to let him got to the shop. Besides his disapproval of comics, it's not in the best neighborhood.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. The clouds that had gathered all afternoon had just burst when I started making baked turkey burgers and red potato fries in the oven, but the shower ended as soon as it began, and the gales returned. Tried to shred cabbage, celery, and carrot in the food processor for cole slaw, but it made it too fine. Oh, well. It still tasted pretty good, especially when mixed with scallions and my own home-made mayo dressing.

Finished the night before and after my shower with the 1941 serial The Adventures of Captain Marvel. No, not the female character currently in theaters. This is based after the next superhero we'll be seeing in theaters, the one now known as Shazam. Instead of meeting the wizard on a train (as in the trailers for Shazam), a teenage Billy Batson (Frank Coghlan, Jr.) encounters him on an archaeological dig with six scientists and his good friends Betty (Louise Currie) and Whitey (Bill Benedict). Billy was granted powers because he didn't accompany everyone else into the room with the Golden Scorpion, a device featuring six quartz lenses that could destroy the world in the wrong hands. Each scientist takes one of the lenses to assure that it can only be used by the entire group...but a hooded mastermind called the Scorpion is picking them off one by one. Billy, Louise, and Whitey have to figure out how to keep the lenses out of the Scorpion's hands...and Captain Marvel has to get all of them out of some pretty tight situations!

Evidently, in the 40's, Captain Marvel was bigger than Superman, which accounts for how he became the first superhero to make it to the big screen. If the movie that's supposed to come out next month is half as much fun as the serial, we're in for a real treat. Tim Tyler was born to be the granite-jawed Captain, who can throw mooks around without breaking a sweat. The Scorpion's fairly menacing as well, and the mystery with who wants to off the scientists is actually pretty interesting.

This is one of the very, very few classic serials currently on Blu-Ray, which attests to just how well-regarded it is. If you love the character and want to get a general idea of him before the movie comes out next month, you may want to look around for this one.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Workin' In the Rain

Got a quick start to a rainy morning doing a few chores around the apartment after breakfast, including making the bed, before Charlie came upstairs. Finished out Superman: The Serial, then did the next episode of Man From Atlantis after Charlie came upstairs. The "Imp" is a little man (Pat Moriata) who makes anyone he touches giggly and silly. He's already gotten to the crew of an underwater station. Mark manages to rescue the last crewman, Duke (Dick Gautier), but the prankish fellow stows away and gets loose, eventually effecting C.W as well. Mark and Elizabeth have to stop the little man, before he manages to take his pranks all the way to Washington.

It was still raining when I went to work, but not heavily. I was able to ride to work and only get a little damp. It rained off and on for the rest of the day. I alternated between doing returns and gathering carts early in the day, then switched to focusing on the carts after my break. Or at least, I tried to. I ended up in the registers three times, usually to go in for someone else. We weren't busy at all - in fact, we were quiet all day - so I'm guessing we just didn't have enough help.

The rain had finally slowed down again by the time I headed home. Charlie was just finishing his day's work when I arrived. Turns out that the reason he tore out the paneling and the outlet between the walls was there was no insulation in them. No wonder it gets so drafty in here. He's now installing insulation along with new windows. He also put in a new electrical outlet and moved it closer to the floor, where electrical outlets normally are.

Worked on writing after he finished (and while he took down the wire screens on the remaining windows).  Actually, I did a little bit of re-writing. Instead of Luke taking them, Rudy becomes impatient when Uncle Owen won't let Luke go to Ben's comics shop and takes off with his van instead. Luke and Charlie take Luke's ancient Ford and go after him.

Broke for dinner at 7. Had leftovers, then made lemon bars from a recipe from my low-fat dessert cookbook. Yum! They came out beautifully, very lemony and tart, and not so sweet that you can't taste the lemon. The cornmeal in the crust was a nice touch, too.

Finished out the Man from Atlantis episode, then watched Lillian Russell while I ate and baked. I go into more detail on this 1940 Alice Faye vehicle at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Lillian Russell

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Welcome to Springtime

Started off the first day of spring by texting Mom; today is also her birthday. Moved on to two cartoons while I ate breakfast. "Springtime Serenade" is one of the few color cartoons featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit during his starring years at Universal. Ozzie, his sister Fanny, and other local animals are delighted that spring has arrived. Ozzie and Fanny are even cleaning up their summer resort. A grouchy old groundhog is determined to spoil their fun with predictions of winter. The animals don't listen, until the snow starts falling.

"Springtime" is one of the earliest and most basic of the Disney Silly Symphonies. (In fact, it was the third Silly Symphony.) It's pretty much just plants and animals dancing and animals eating each other in time to classical music.

I headed out shortly after "Springtime" ended. Work was quiet for pretty much the entire day. It did pick up a little bit in the afternoon, but it never got anything like crazy. I did the outside trash and recycling and alternated between rounding up carts and shelving items during the first half of the day; shelved loose items and candy, bagged, and helped a manager load Easter candy onto a display during the second. There were no problems whatsoever.

No wonder we were dead. By the time I got out of work, it was in the mid-50's and climbing. It was such a nice day, I took the long way home down Nicholson Road. They weren't terribly busy, either, not even around the entrance to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. It certainly looks a lot more like spring than it did at this time last year, when we were beginning our third snowstorm in a row. Some of the trees on Atlantic even had bright pink blossoms.

Charlie was still working on the windows in the living area, behind my dining area table, when I got in. I don't know if he only has the upper halves in, or if he's doing smaller windows, but...there are only windows on the top half. The bottoms are covered in plywood. He also tore out the wood between the windows and around the electrical outlet, which now dangled a bit (despite him having at least three things plugged into it).

I tried to ignore his cursing and did some writing. Luke Skylander is an engineering student and fan of comic books and sci-fi who lives with his uncle and aunt above their furniture repair shop. Uncle Owen isn't happy to hear that Luke has been buying comic books from old Ben MacKenner, who had known his father Anthony when they were in the same unit during the Korean War. He'd rather his nephew stayed away from that crazy old coot and focus on his studies at Coruscant University. Luke does agree to take Rudy and Charlie to Ben's shop and is excited to learn that Rudy had been in the same unit as his father in Korea.

He'd finally left by the time I'd broke for dinner at 6:30. Ran a few more spring cartoons as I got organized. "Birds In the Spring" was one of the earlier color Silly Symphonies. Once again, it's what it says on the tin. A baby bird falls out of its nest and is almost eaten by a snake before the other birds rescue him.

"The Goddess of Spring" is a full-blown mini-opera, and one of the cartoons Disney used as a trial-run for Snow White. This retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth has some fun music and a nice sequence with Hades' minions dancing, but Persephone moves like she's made of rubber, and her gnomes up above are too cutesy.

Made chicken salad on a bed of spinach, tomatoes, and scallions for dinner. Moved to Tiny Toon Adventures while I ate. Babs introduces "Spring In Acme Acres." A bored Cupid turns his arrows over to brainless Conrad the Vulture. He thinks he's creating "Love Among the Toons," but he's really wrecking havoc, including Monty falling for Babs! "Elmyra's Spring Cleaning" proves to be hazardous to the health of her pet fish, who just wants her to put his water back. Plucky and Dizzy compete on a game show, "That's Incredibly Stupid," which parodies the stunt shows of the late 80's and early 90's. Plucky keeps sending Dizzy out to do the stunts, but the last one proves much harder than he anticipated...

Did two Yogi Bear shorts as I cleaned up from dinner. Yogi is a "A Wooin' Bruin" when he has to try to win Cindy from a brawny circus bear. Ranger Smith is just wondering why bears are suddenly swiping everything from a cake to his car. "Spring Has Hit a Snag" for Snagglepuss when he invites Lilah, a  pretty lioness, into his home, only to find that she's a demanding brat who whines for him to do everything.

Finished the night on the couch with something a little different. I hadn't heard good things about the original 1948 Superman: The Serial, but it's actually a lot of fun. Unlike a lot of superheroes who were transferred to serial form, it pretty much keeps Clark's origins intact. (Which, unfortunately, gives the first chapter the same problem of it moving slow as the first movie.) Clark has to battle the wicked Spider Lady, a female mob boss whose men have a ray capable of destroying the planet. He has to figure out what she's up to, while making sure a very determined Lois Lane (Noel Neill) doesn't find out who he is or get herself killed grabbing scoops from him.

I like this. Kirk Alyn isn't a bad Superman; Neill's even better as a very determined and sarcastic Lois. There's a lot of complaints about the flying being animated, but it doesn't really look that horrible. The Spider Lady is actually a pretty nifty villain, too. If you're a fan of Superman or old-time serials, you can do far worse than this one.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Circle Sky

I got up so late, I had just enough time for breakfast and two Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater cartoons before hurrying off to the laundromat. Tuxedo Sam turns leading penguin in these two action-packed stories. He's "Peter Penguin," who recruits Kitty and Chip to help him save Melody-bell from the evil Captain Catnip! "Tar-Sam of the Jungle" has him, Chip, and Kitty Jane swing into action when poachers Catnip and Grinder try to ape-nap his adopted gorilla family.

Rushed out to the laundromat as soon as I finished eating. I got lucky that they weren't busy. Even with the extra two days, I still didn't have that big of a load, anyway. I spent the time writing the first draft of a job proposal...and then writing down all the negative feelings that came up as I composed the proposal.

As soon as I got home, I put everything away as quick as I could, then rushed back out. Even with the hurry, I was still twelve minutes late at counseling. Unlike last time when I had trouble with my bike seat, I was more annoyed with myself than angry or upset.

Between the nice weather we've been having, Dad feeling a bit better, and having finally talked to Rose and settled a few things, I'm generally a bit more optimistic than I was at this time last month. First of all, as I mentioned, I'm not going to be going anywhere for a while. There's too much going on to even consider moving right now. I still want to leave, but it likely won't be until next winter at the earliest.

 I have other things on my mind, anyway. Mom sending me those pictures last month has me thinking backwards and trying to figure out how to heal a wounded and frightened inner child. I have no idea how to deal with anything. Every time anything went wrong with me as a child, I was always pulled out and put somewhere else. In fifth grade, when the kids bullied me, I was allowed to go to the kindergarten and first grade classes and help out with them, so I wouldn't have to deal with them. They put me in the Special Services Middle School so I could learn to deal with my problems...but while I did like some parts of being there, I still made few friends and mostly felt isolated. I've always wondered what would have happened if I'd just been left to "duke it out," as Mrs. Stahl put it.

That little girl in me is utterly terrified. No matter what the adults tell her, she can't help feeling scared and angry. She doesn't belong anywhere. The kids call her stupid and fat...and what if they're right? She's scared that everyone will leave her in the end, just like her fathers and all her friends. The Coast Guard Base at Cape May was where more than half of the students at Cape May Elementary came from in the 80's and early 90's. Like most military families, they'd be there for a few years, and then they'd be gone again. I'd try to write them, but in the pre-Internet era it was hard to keep track of families that were constantly moving.

Mrs. Stahl said that the proposal I wrote was a good start. Now I just have to refine it and try to send it. I don't know if I can. I know I shouldn't be scared of getting a job. It's silly and childish. Once again...while I know I can write, I don't know how well I can really promote myself.

It was past 3 when I went down the street to Starbucks for a quick, late lunch. Despite the place being busy with kids out of school, the line wasn't bad. I ended up trying a Macha Green Tea Frappuchino and a "protein and fruit" tray with hard-boiled eggs, slivers of cheese, grapes, slices of apples, a round of raisin and grain bread, and a squeeze container of peanut butter. It was quite tasty, especially the bread and peanut butter. (The Frappuchino was pretty good, too. Sweet and very tea-tasting. I might have to dig around for real matcha tea sometime.)

At least the weather was nice for a ride home. Spring has arrived in South Jersey, bringing lavender and white crocuses and brilliant yellow daffodils to every garden. New grass and tiny white wildflowers sprout up along curbs. While it was breezy and a little chilly, it wasn't anything near as bad as it was last week. In fact, my apartment was a bit warm when I arrived. I ended up opening two windows.

Worked on writing for a while after I got in. Luke brings the truck around to his Uncle Owen, who owns a furniture store. He wants Luke to study business and take over his store, but he's more interested in cars and comic books. They're both quite surprised when Rudy and Charlie pop out of the back of the furniture van and ask them the way to the comics shop on Kirby Street. Luke, a huge comics fan, offers to take them there.

Broke for dinner at 7. Had leftovers while watching the next episode of Man from Atlantis. Mark finds himself on a "Scavenger Hunt" when he ends up on an island populated by extremely stereotypical natives, including their hulking chief (Richard Kiel, of James Bond villain fame). Also on the island is Muldoon, who managed to escape the wild-west giant and is now using a sea monster to bring him pearls and pretty girls, while making the natives believe they're being sacrificed to him. Mark's more interested in the deadly canisters also brought up by the monster than in Muldoon's antics.

Made my own granola bars with whole wheat flour, oats, dried cranberries, butter, an egg, honey, and chocolate chips while Man from Atlantis was on. The bars fell apart when I tried to cut them, but they still tasted pretty good.

Finished the night with the supremely weird Monkees film Head in honor of Peter Tork, who died last month. I go more into this surreal bit of rock and roll mayhem at my newly-revamped Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

(And a big "bravo" to my friend Linda Young for her wonderful work on the new lettering and backgrounds!)


Monday, March 18, 2019

Little Girl Lost

Began my day with breakfast and Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost. After the kids catch the wrong villain on one of their usual ghost hunts, the local sheriff points out something fans have been calling them on for years - that normal kids would leave the professionals to their jobs. Shocked and upset, they decide to give up on mystery-solving, including selling the Mystery Machine.

Among the things they find when they sell other items from their cases are the crystal ball that Daphne, Scooby, and Shaggy used to contact Vincent Van Ghoul in the mid-80's show The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo. Ghoul, to their surprise, calls them about having found the final ghost. Velma, as usual, is skeptical about ghosts existing, and Fred is upset that Daphne seems to have usurped his leader role. They head to Tibet, where they learn about a demon who has been attacking the locals. They also encounter the show's con-artist kid character Flim-Flam, who's now an adult and is selling demon merchandise advertising the town as a tourist trap. Velma continues to claim that the ghost isn't real...but there's something that's after the Chest of Demons that holds the ghosts, and this time, even Van Ghoul's magic may not be able to save them from the curse of the demon.

Your enjoyment of this one will depend on how much you know about The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo and the other Daphne/Shaggy/Scooby shows of the early-mid 80's. Even with some explanations, most people will probably be as lost as Fred and Velma. I also think the ending is a bit of a cop-out, since it doesn't really settle anything. Plus, there's only one off-handed mention of Scrappy, who was a major part of this show. (And despite what the movie claims, Fred and Velma did know Scrappy. They appeared in most of the first-season Scooby Doo and Scrappy Show episodes.)

On the other hand, I do like that this movie addresses some long-standing complaints about the franchise, such as the kids interfering with law officers and the changes to Fred and Daphne's characters over the years. I also give Hanna-Barbara props for returning to a series I assumed most people had forgotten about and trying to do something like finishing it. (Heck, I never heard of this series until I read about it online. Research reveals that it was apparently pitted against Alvin and the Chipmunks in the spring of 1986, a big hit that my sisters and I all loved.)

Though there are some interesting ideas, this one is really for major fans of the Scooby franchise or 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo only. I honestly wouldn't come anywhere near here unless you've seen that series or the Daphne/Shaggy/Scooby episodes.

I spent most of the morning while the movie was on taking down the St. Patrick's Day decorations, then doing things around the apartment. I'm continuing to clear out toys and other things I really don't need. I got rid of all of my Effanbee dolls but the Musketeer (I call him D'Artangan), Cinderella, Miss USA (my black cowgirl - I named her Oklahoma Sal), and Miss Russia (Sonia) and all of the Sailor Moon toys. They're all just sitting there, taking up room and being something else for me to dust under. The Effanbees would be better off with a collector who could restore them and treat them properly; the Sailor Moon dolls need a child to play with them. I moved the Star Wars toys up to where they'd been on top of the wardrobes and gave them their doll holders.

That freed up room on the shelf where the Sailor Moon dolls were. I moved the adult hardback novels over there, then shifted the American Girl and children's books over to the shelf where they'd been with the children's hardbacks. Changed the Star Wars books over to the now-empty shelf.

It was so late by the time I finished, I headed straight out to have lunch. It was a gorgeous day for riding. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and while it was still a bit breezy, it wasn't anything near as bad as it has been the past few days. The ride was pretty decent. I even managed to cross Cuthbert quickly.

My original plan was to treat myself to lunch at Friendly's. Turns out they'd closed over a month and a half ago, despite having been there for literally years. I ended up going next-door to Nick and Joe's pizza instead. Ordered what was listed as a mini chicken cutlet sandwich with fries. It ended up being breaded chicken strips with mayo, lettuce, and tomato on a roll with a bag of potato chips. It wasn't bad, just not what I expected. I had it with a Coke. There were a bunch of kids having a late lunch, but it otherwise wasn't that crowded.

Headed along to the Haddon Township Library next. The librarians were literally delighted to see me. The DVD cart was overflowing with pretty much everything possible. There was so much, I never even got to the kids titles. I spent almost an hour and a half just shelving the adult DVDs and TV series. I'm really trying to focus on other things right now and limited my rentals to another Daniel Tiger set and two movies. I loved Ocean's 8 so much in the theater last summer, I thought I'd check it out again on home media. Also grabbed the family fantasy The House With a Clock In Its Walls.

Made a quick stop at Target on the way home. While eggs and sugar aren't as cheap there as they are at Dollar General, they are cheaper than at the Acme. (Especially the eggs, which are currently $1.49 there. The Acme's regular 12-count large eggs are $2.99!) I got lucky that a line opened just as I was looking for a shorter line to get in.

When I got home, I did some research. I can find plenty of entertainment and review blogs that I could write for online. That's not a problem. The problem is getting myself to write a proposal. I don't mind selling my writing. It's harder for me to sell myself. There's a little girl inside me who doesn't think she's worth believing in, who is bullied and belittled by children and adults alike for not being like everyone else. Who believes she should have done better, been better, been a better daughter and a better person. It's hard for me to let that go. I have no idea what I want my future to be like, other than "not this and with more writing."

I cheered myself up with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood while making a green salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, grape tomatoes, scallions, and broccoli. Had it with home-made orange dressing. Figured I'd eat healthy after the breaded sandwich this afternoon. It came out quite well, fresh and inviting. Turned Mrs. Tiger's banana whirl into peanut butter banana whirl with the addition of peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon.

Daniel is excited about his first "Tiger Family Trip," a vacation to visit his Grandpere. They take Trolley, stopping at a playground with a dinosaur slide and a butterfly garden. "Visiting Grandpere" is a lot of fun, especially a treasure hunt and a picnic. Eventually, "The Tiger Family Goes Back Home," but not until after Grandpere shows Daniel a special place to watch the sun rise and lets him leave his paw print on his boat.

The little cub is also excited about "The Neighborhood Carnival." He really wants to ride the Ferris Wheel, but it's so high, he's kind of scared about it, too. Mrs. Tiger tells him it's normal to feel more than one thing. He plays ring toss with Prince Wednesday until he's ready to tackle the Ferris Wheel with his mom and Miss Elania.

The Tiger Family celebrates the 4th of July with "Fireflies and Fireworks." Baby Margaret is scared of the fireflies, but her big brother Daniel holds her hand until she's used to them. When the fireworks start up, they're both scared, and not happy with the loud noise. They hold each other's hands until they're done.

(Margaret's not the only one who is scared of bugs. Rose had been stung by a bee as a young child and was deathly afraid of them for years. Once, probably in the early-mid 80's, she thought she saw a bee on a tree in the backyard and got really upset! I went and got Mom, who explained that it was actually a ladybug. They're not only harmless, but are said to be lucky as well. I stayed with her and Mom until she calmed down a little.)

Finished the night with the remaining two episodes after a shower. Daniel and Prince Wednesday are excited to start "The Lemonade Stand" and give away lemonade to their neighbors. They don't always get along in their new business. Prince Wednesday keeps shaking the lemons off the tree before Daniel can count them, and Dan gives people lemonade out of turn, without giving Wednesday the chance to do it. Queen Sara encourages them to talk about their anger and work out their problems.

Discussing anger also helps at "Mad at the Beach." Daniel hits the sand with Elania and his dad, but things don't always work out like they'd hoped. Daniel gets mad at Elaina when she splashes too hard and sea water ends up in his eyes. Neither of them are happy when the waves wash away their sandcastle. Even Daniel Sr. has to learn to talk out his anger with the kids when they go into the water without asking him first. They all discover that talking out anger can lead to finding a solution - like rebuilding your sandcastle in a drier spot, not splashing your guy friend so hard, or taking Dad with you when you need water for your moat.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Wearin' of the Green

Top o' the evenin' to ye! I started off a sunny St. Patrick's Day with some reading The Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology only has one piece for the holiday, but it's a lengthy biographical essay on Patrick himself. Also did a short story from the Disney anthology Storybookland based on Darby O'Gill and his first encounter with King Brian of the Little People.

Move on to two Irish-themed cartoons while I ate breakfast. "Wearin' of the Grin" brings Porky Pig to a castle in Ireland, where he dreams that leprechauns think he's after their gold. They force him to wear green shoes that dance forever in a surreal Irish nightmare.

Woody Woodpecker encounters a somewhat more benign member of the wee folk in "His Better Elf." A woodpecker-like leprechaun grants Woody three wishes. Woody wants money, but the bag of gold he finds comes from a bank. He has to escape a stereotypical Irish cop who thinks he stole it.

Wish my Cranberry-Lime Pancakes had come out better. I was out of eggs, but I hoped the lime juice would give them enough lift. Nope. They burned in the pan and fell apart when I tried to turn them over. They tasted ok, but were mostly just a mess.

Did an episode of Moonlighting while I attempted to make breakfast and cleaned up afterwards. Maddie and David go "Somewhere Under the Rainbow" in the second season when a young woman who claims she's a leprechaun asks them to protect her from the men who are after her pot of gold. The two detectives follow her across LA while arguing over the idea of fantasy and believing in the things we can't see.

Headed off to work shortly after the episode ended. It was relatively slow when I arrived. By noon, we were swamped. It hasn't been this busy in over a month. There's a lot of good sales this weekend, this is the closest thing we've had to a holiday weekend since President's Day (and the closest we will have until Easter), and the weather was gorgeous. While it remained windy, the wind wasn't as wild as yesterday, and the sun was warm when you could get in it. Other than the ten minutes I ended up in a register early-on and the fifteen minutes I spent doing full trash and recycling bins, I spent almost the entire day rounding up carts that kept vanishing, often with little or no help.

I'd thrown together beef cubes, chopped cabbage, and sliced potatoes and thrown them in my Crock Pot for Beef and Cabbage Stew, which I had for dinner when I got home. Not bad. Might add a little more seasoning if I ever do this again. Watched one of the stranger third-season episodes of Wonder Woman while I ate. Dave and Maddie aren't the only detectives who have a strange encounter with a human version of a leprechaun. In "Pot of Gold," Diana has to help an Irish shoemaker keep the pot out of the hands of a British gangster, who wants to exchange it for counterfeiting plates that are needed by a local mob group.

Worked a little bit on writing after dinner. I was so tired, I basically just re-wrote the sequence with Rudy and Charlie sneaking onto a garbage truck. I made it a furniture-hauling truck that had its doors open in stead...a truck driven by one Luke Weston, a college student who works for his Uncle Owen, making deliveries and selling furniture. He's more interested in the comics and sci-fi books he reads than in his job. He wishes he'd find a life as exciting as that of his comics heroes. Little does he know that there's a sci-fi plot among the chairs and couches in the truck behind him...

Finished the night online with The Quiet Man. Former boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) has come home to Inisfree, Ireland from the US. He buys the cottage where his family had lived for years off the wealthy Widow Tilane (Mildred Natwick), hoping to settle down. He falls for strong-willed Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara), but her brother Will (Victor MacLaghlen) wanted the cottage for himself and disapproves of the match at first. Sean and the local matchmaker (Barry Fitzgerald) trick Will into thinking Tilane wants to marry him in order for Kate and Sean to court and get married. When he figures out what's going on, Will won't let Kate have her dowry or her family furnishings. Sean doesn't get what she's fussing over, but Kate wants her family's heirlooms and their sense of history. They do manage to get the heirlooms, but not the money. Fed up with Sean's unwillingness to confront her brother, Kate decides to leave...only for Sean to stop her and finally confront her brother, leading to a knock-down, drag-out donnybrook that not only ends up involving all of Innisfree, but half of Ireland as well!

John Ford's love letter to the land of his birth is a wonderful comedy-drama on how one American views Irish society in the 20's. The glowing cinematography, mostly of the real Ireland, won a deserved Oscar; Ford got his fourth Oscar for best director as well. Wayne and O'Hara are fine as the spirited lovers; MacLaghlen got a Supporting Actor nod as Kate's bully of a brother.

If you're a fan of Ford or the cast, you'll want to head on over to Inisfree and check this one out.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Party With an Irish Flair

I didn't sleep well last night and consequently got up late this morning. Just had the time for breakfast and an episode of Man from Atlantis before running off to work. Mark becomes "The Naked Montague" when he's hit on the head during an underwater cave-in and somehow ends up in Verona, Italy in the middle of a squabble between the Capulets and the Montagues. He learns that Juliet and Romeo want to marry and unite their houses...but will he be able to change one of Shakespeare's most famous plays and let them go through with it? (And what the heck does this have to do with the rest of the show?)

Headed out a little bit early. I wanted to set up my key-lime mini donuts for the St. Patrick's Day employee luncheon we had today. While there wasn't as much left by the time I got back there, I was able to have kielbasa and a smoky sauerkraut, spinach dip, and corned beef and cabbage stew for lunch; saw a chowder there as well. Other desserts included vanilla cupcakes, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, pineapple upside-down cake, banana cake, pound cake, and brownie cups with crispy Italian cookies from the bakery.

Wish work was as much fun. It was nice when I was out doing carts...but we were really crazy for a lot of the day. They kept calling me inside and tossing me behind a register, even after it slowed down around 4. I finally spent the last hour dusting around the black metal shelves on either end of the aisles that display sale items.

And it was a nice day, when you could get out of the wild wind. While not nearly as warm as yesterday, it was far sunnier, and that sun was still quite warm. I'm surprised we were as busy as we were. I guess a lot of people want to celebrate the closest thing we've had to a major holiday in over a month, plus we have a lot of good sales this weekend.

Went right back to Man from Atlantis when I got home as I made a banana smoothie for a quick dinner. "C.W Hyde" is the show's second adaptation of classic literature in a row. This one, however, fits the show a bit better. C.W, Mark and Elizabeth's perpetually nervous boss, accidentally drinks a potion that turns him into an amoral (and hairy) monster...right when he's supposed to be remembering the combination for an explosive device. His other side sells off the combination to gangsters, who aren't overly happy about being double-crossed.

Tried to do a little bit of writing after I finished my smoothie. I was so tired, I didn't get far. Luke Weston lives in Tatoonie, a sleepy suburb of Coruscant. He's a college student who works in his uncle's hardware store, but what he really loves is comics book and building things.

Broke to take a shower at 8:30. Finished the night with Finian's Rainbow in honor of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. I go into more detail about this odd Fred Astaire/Petula Clark fantasy on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Finian's Rainbow

Friday, March 15, 2019

A Warm Day In Late Winter

I couldn't believe how warm it was when I got up this morning! Warm and windy. Half the things on my living area table nearly got blown away when I opened the window across from it, but it was too warm to leave it closed. It must have been in the upper 60's by almost 11.

Watched the second Daniel Tiger set while I ate breakfast and got organized. This is the second set that revolves around Dan's school and classmates, and thankfully, none of the episodes were ones I'd seen before. The kids learn that "Sometimes, It's Good to Go Slow" when Teacher Harriett takes them on a nature hike. Miss Elania wants to rush, but she keeps missing all the wonderful things around her, like a caterpillar inching along and a squirrel climbing a tree.

"Field Day at School" revolves around fall activities, like kicking soccer balls into goals between two pumpkins and tossing hula hoops over pumpkins. Not all the of kids are good at every sport, but Teacher Harriett assures them that the important thing is they did their best.

Daniel becomes the teacher in "Daniel and Margaret Play School." He wants to show his baby sister everything that he usually does at school. Trouble is, Margaret is only about a year old, and her attention tends to wander. Mrs. Tiger encourages her son to figure out how he can play school with Margaret and keep her interest.

The kids are all excited when they have "Firefighters at School." They're surprised when Miss Elania says she wants to be a firefighter. She'd only shown interest in being an astronaut before. Teacher Harriett tells the kids that it's normal to want to be more than one thing. And we learn why Elaina's interested in firefighting when it turns out that the firefighters are volunteers - Doctor Anna and Elania's dad Music Man Stan.

"Daniel Needs Tigey at School" when his parents go on a trip and Grandpere takes care of him and Margaret. His favorite stuffed toy makes him feel better...which is why he's frantic when he loses him in Miss Elania's tub of stuffed animals. (I definitely know how Daniel feels here. Hugging a stuffed animal makes me feel better when I'm upset or sad, too.)

I can also relate to "Daniel Wants to Be Alone." He and the other kids are playing knights and dragons, but they're all getting a little too rowdy for him. Taking time out to draw a castle helps him refresh, recharge his batteries, and gives him a new perspective on his game. (That's part of why I have trouble with work. I need my alone time, too, and I can't always get it at the Acme when I need it.)

The "Class Trip to the Library" doesn't go nearly as well as the kids hoped. X the Owl, O's uncle, is repairing shelves, and it's too noisy and messy for the kids to hang out there. They return to school and create their own library instead, with O as resident librarian.

"Daniel Says I'm Sorry" when he runs into Katarina's cardboard trolley and accidentally rips a wheel when the kids are playing cars. Katarina's angry, until he not only apologizes, but finds a way to fix things. Dan gets a taste of his own medicine when he gets tired of Elania beeping in his ear and running into him and has to get her to find a better way of apologizing than a quick "sorry."

Headed out to run errands as soon as the cartoons were over. First stop for the day was the Oaklyn Library. They were very busy for them, despite the kind-of-cloudy and extremely warm and humid afternoon, with several people reading books, doing research on the computer, or chatting with the librarian. I worked on reorganizing all the adult DVDs, which had gotten out of order while they were relabeling the sci-fi/fantasy and romance sections. (Sci-fi/fantasy now has red labels; romance stays pink.) Took a quick look at the kids' section, which wasn't quite as bad. Renewed Widows and Man from Atlantis; otherwise, like I said yesterday, there's other stuff I want to focus on right now.

Next stop was Arby's for a quick lunch. My first thought was Sonic, but despite the spring-like day, it was too windy to eat outside. Their neighbor Chick Fil'A had a line going around the corner. Arby's was busy as well, but not so much that I didn't get my Fish Deluxe on a King's Hawaiian roll in less than 10 minutes. It was ok, crispy and with lots of tartar sauce. Had it with Curly Fries and Mello Yellow as I watched the traffic on the Black Horse Pike go by.

Went to the Acme after lunch to do my grocery shopping and pick up my schedule. I mostly needed vegetables this week...which proved to be perfect timing. They're having their occasional "Buck a Bag" produce sale. I bought grape tomatoes, a bag of broccoli and cauliflower florets, a bag of spinach, a bag of celery, and my favorite baked rice pea snacks. Decided to have beef Irish stew for St. Patrick's Day; picked up beef cubes, red potatoes, and cabbage. Grabbed pecan bits and dried cranberries to attempt to make my own granola bars next week and lime juice for the donuts I wanted to make for work tomorrow. Restocked cornstarch, skim milk, oranges, pears, yogurt, cake mix, powdered sugar, baking powder, and canned mandarin oranges.

My schedule for next week is, once again, pretty darn good (especially given how dead we've been lately). Mostly early-mid afternoon, only one very early day, same amount of hours. Monday, Tuesday, and next Friday off, Tuesday for counseling. I'll be able to get a lot done, including job research and trying to figure out what I need to do next.

Went straight home after that. Watched an episode of Man from Atlantis while I put everything away. "Crystal Water, Sudden Death" brings Schubert back, this time trying to steal crystals to power a satellite that will wreck havoc on the Earth's communication systems. The crystals are powering the force field that is protecting an underwater city, the home of strange all-white people. They don't believe Mark about Schubert at first, until the fat old rich man attacks them.

I wanted to do a few things on the computer before I started writing, but several sites were down or not working 100 percent right. Ended up just continuing my story instead. Rudy and Charlie aren't doing much better than Leia. Rudy's motorbike breaks down two blocks from the building where Vader attacked. They end up getting a ride on the back of a garbage truck run by trash collectors the Jawas instead.

Broke for a very quick yogurt-and-fruit dinner at quarter after 7. Finished "Crystal Water," then went into Widows while making Key Lime Mini Donuts for the Acme's spring employee luncheon tomorrow. Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis), the wife of well-known thief Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), is shocked to learn that her husband owed millions of dollars to Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a mob boss who is looking to move into politics. Harry and his partners died during a robbery that went wrong, but Harry left detailed notes of his next plot. Veronica recruits the widows of his partners, now-single mother Linda Perrelli (Michelle Rodriguez) and abuse victim Alice Gunner (Elizabeth Debicki) to pull off her late spouse's final heist. A fourth woman, Belle (Cynthia Ervio), is recruited to drive after Veronica's chauffeur is killed. While they do pull the heist off, Manning's not so willing to let that money go...and neither is his political rival Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), or someone who isn't as dead as the ladies thought...

Proof positive that yes, action movies can be done for adults. The ladies take top honors as the driven women who are determined to make better lives for themselves after the loss of their husbands; Farrell and Robert Duvall are also good as Mulligan and his father, who want to continue their political family dynasty. Violence, language, and adult themes makes this absolutely not for kids, but if you're an adult who loves heist movies or films with strong female leads, you'll want to take a look at this one.

And...after clouds and humidity had built and built all day, it finally rained around 9 PM. Once, very briefly, It hasn't done anything else since then besides be windy, as far as I can tell.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Merman and the Tiger

Kicked off a gorgeous, sunny morning with a recipe I'd never tried before. The British cookie baking book I bought a while back has a simple recipe for Tea Cookies that sounded tasty. I don't know what I did, but the mixture was too dry and refused to come together. I added milk...then a little more...then probably a little too much. I tried to flatten them with a glass that has a sunburst pattern on the bottom, but it was now to wet to really come across well. In the end, they tasted pretty decent, crisp on the bottom, chewy on the top...but it wasn't what I originally intended.

Watched the next two episodes of Man from Atlantis as I baked. The "Giant" Mark encounters is a huge black man who is siphoning water from the ocean to sluice his gold mines. A con-man named Muldoon has already swiped gold from him. Mark eventually persuades him to take him through the fissure and into the rural west area where the man lives.

"Man 'O War" is only slightly less strange. The mad Mr. Schubert returns in what's possibly a take on Jaws and other "animals attack" disaster movies of the late 70's. Here, he's somehow managed to breed a giant mutant jellyfish that he turns loose onto a local beach that's about to hold a major international swimming contest. While their boss C.W deals with the panicky ambassador of one of the countries entered, Elizabeth and Mark try to figure out how Schubert is controlling this massive beast.

Charlie came around as I was getting ready to leave. He told me he was ready to put in the rest of the new windows next week, but he'd need to know when I wouldn't be around, so he wouldn't disrupt anything I had planned. I told him I'll get back to that one tomorrow when I get my schedule.

Headed out around 1, mainly for this week's Haddon Township Library run. They weren't very busy...and it wasn't terribly surprising. The weather was warm and windy but not chilly, probably in the 60's. It was much too nice for people to be hanging around in libraries. I stuck to shelving and organizing the adult DVDs. I have other things I want to watch right now and stuck to renting two sets of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episodes (one of them brand new) and the most recent Scooby Doo direct-to-home-media movie, Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost.

I made a very quick stop at Target on the way home. I was hoping they carried bike baskets. The one that came with my bike was too small and had gotten dented the day I received the bike. It no longer rests right on the frame and keeps popping off. They did have baskets, but they were even smaller and cheaper than my current one. I went in, checked their bike section, and went right back out again.

Besides, I had something very important to do at home. I'd gotten a summons for jury duty, which wouldn't have been a big deal if it wasn't for May 16th. That's the first full day of my vacation with Lauren. When I did the online questionnaire, I asked them if they could please move the date to either the 15th (the day Lauren arrives - she won't be in until late) or the 25th (the day after she leaves). Lauren and I have been planning this trip since at least December-January.

Cheered myself up with a bit of writing after I finished. Vader's minions, the Shadow Soldiers, chase Leia upstairs. She gets into a fire-fight with them, until one douses her with water and another knocks her out. Vader, a hulking supervillain, demands that Leia give him the tapes that hold the blueprints for his new death ray. When she claims she doesn't have them, he takes her to his hideout at the base of the Naboo Mountains for questioning.

Meanwhile, Rudy and Charlie, the plumber and translator who work for the Rebel League, manage to escape unscathed and unnoticed on Rudy's motorbike, heading towards the suburb Tatoonie and a certain small shop owned by former superhero The Negotiator.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Switched to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood while I made chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and sauteed onions and mushrooms and a salad for dinner. Fun outdoors at night is the theme of the first set. Daniel and O sleep outdoors and go for a hike for the first time in "Backyard Camping." O's nervous about all the strange sounds around him, but Dan Sr. shows the boys that the sounds and shadows are mainly either animals or their imaginations. "Daniel's Sleepover" is similar, only this time, Dan is sleeping at the castle with Prince Wednesday. It's Queen Sarah Saturday who assures the boys that things aren't so frightening if you take a second look.

"Nightime In the Neighborhood" is a double-length episode that starts with Dan and his family walking to the library, with Dan clad in his trolley pajamas. They see everything that's different in the neighborhood at night, from closed stores to animal sounds. The focus switches to the library in the second half, as Dan Sr, Music Man Stan, and the kids play games that revolve around camping or nighttime, like musical sleeping bags.

Returned to Man from Atlantis as I cleaned up from dinner. Things get really strange in "Shoot Out at Land's End." Mark feels pain in his arm when nothing has happened to it, and heads through a vortex to figure out what's going on. Once again, he somehow turns up in the Wild West, this time discovering a gunslinger named Billy who looks exactly like him. Billy is involved with a railroad baron who wants to build through a certain rancher's land. Mark wants him to do the right thing and help the ranchers, but Billy isn't as sure, especially since it's his neck on the line.

Finished the night with another western, the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I go into more detail on this dance-heavy tale at my Musical Dreams Reviews Blog.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Trying to Find My Future

Started the day at work. I spent the first half of the day alternating between doing carts and doing returns, and the second half shelving candy. I did end up in the registers briefly twice...once ten minutes before I was leaving. Thankfully, the afternoon bagger was there by then, and I was able to corral him to help with the last customer. We were once again between dead and mildly steady; the only reason we were busy later was more because of a lack of help than it actually being busy. It was too nice for anyone to be shopping, anyway. It was sunny, and while it was breezy, it wasn't nearly as windy or chilly as it had been over the weekend.

This time, I went straight home after work. Took out the trash and the recycling, then did some research. Honestly...I'm not sure what I want to do. I want to write, and find places that'll take my writing...but there's that pesky "selling myself" thing. No one ever said what to do with my writing. They just said "write." And I only need something that I can do a few days a week.

I never really considered what my future would look like. I think I'm sort of dreading it. I can barely get past day-to-day living a lot of the time. Where do I want to be in five years? In a small cottage, writing, baking, do things I want to do, preferably without people cursing downstairs. I wouldn't mind working with kids, if I could do it for a few hours a week in the afternoon and still have time to enjoy writing my blogs and fanfiction. It's just so nerve-wracking to push myself out there! I know my writing is good...but I'm not so sure about me.

Worked a little bit on my fanfic later. Leia stuffs the bag with the tapes in the arms of one Rudolph "Rudy" Detonski, a local plumber, handyman, and the Rebel League's gadgeteer genius. His friend Charles "Charlie" Thompson, a fastidious translator and office clerk for Councilwoman Marla Mothma, is less-certain about all this...especially once Vader tries breaking down the door to the building...

Broke for a quick soup dinner at 6:30. Watched The Golden Child while I ate. Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) is a social worker in Los Angeles who searches for lost children. On one such search for a missing local girl, he runs across a young Tibetian woman, Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis), who insists he's the "Chosen One" who must find the Golden Child. The boy was kidnapped from Tibet by the sorcerer Sardo Numpsa (Charles Dance), who wants to corrupt  him and destroy all the good in the world. Chandler understandably doesn't believe her at first, until he finds the girl he was looking for dead, and it turns out that her case and that of the Golden Child are connected. Their search leads from the seedy abandoned buildings of LA to the mystical mountains and mazes of Tibet, as Chandler must prove that he's worthy of finding the special Kee, her father, and most of all, to himself.

Ok, this was...really, really weird. The 80's loved its oddball action fantasies that tossed together vague mythology with a tough-guy out of his element. Dad-Bill and my sisters and I loved this movie when I was a kid, but it hasn't dated well at all. To give it some credit, it moves pretty fast for a big action comedy and Kee's a fairly strong character (even as Chandler keeps trying to push her aside). Murphy, however, is completely out of place as the guy who doesn't get all this magical mumbo-jumbo, and some of the special effects, especially towards the end, look pretty obvious now.

Unless you have fond memories like I do, I'd say this one is strictly for fans of Murphy or 80's action or fantasy.

Ended the night with the far more subtle Rear Window. L.B "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) would probably love to see a Golden Child at the moment, or anything besides the view from his tiny apartment in Greenwich Village. He's been laid up with a broken leg and has spent the last six weeks watching his neighbors from his window. His nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) wishes he'd finally agree to marry his elegant fashion seller girlfriend Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), but Jeff is reluctant to give up his regular job as a globe-trotting photographer.

One night, as he's watching out the window, he notices some unusual activity in the apartment of a salesman (Raymond Burr) and his quarrelsome and bedridden wife (Irene Winston). He's convinced the man murdered his wife. Neither the ladies nor his detective friend Tom (Wendell Corey) believe him, until one of their neighbors' dog is killed, and the ladies start to think that Jeff is on to something, too. But when Jeff sends Lisa to investigate and sends notes to get the salesman out of the house, he realizes that he may have pushed things a bit too far...

Unique, atmospheric mystery benefits from terrific performances by Stewart, Kelly, and Ritter and the awesome camerawork and massive set that shows off every bit of the details into these people's lives, even the ones we maybe shouldn't see. The Hitchcock touch lends a suitably creepy air to the proceedings, especially in the second half, where Jeff starts pressing his case and Lisa does everything she can to show that she's every bit his equal in detecting.

If you're a fan of Hitchcock, mysteries, or the cast, you owe yourself to check this one out.

(Oh, and a note: there was a remake of this on TV in the late 90's, I think, with the by-then paralyzed Christopher Reeve as Jeff and Darryl Hannah as Lisa. I actually watched it when it debuted. While not Hitchcock, I remember quite enjoying it at the time.)