Friday, May 31, 2019

Cherry Sweet Spring

Awoke to hammering and cursing downstairs around 8:30. Charlie was already at work. I read in bed and wrote in my new journal for a while, then had breakfast. I discovered that most of the cherries I bought from the Acme last week were getting too soft and starting to go bad, so thought I'd add them to the Lemon Snaps cookies I was making from that Duncan Hines Bakery In a Box book. I put juice in with canola oil because I was using a yellow cake mix and made the mix much too runny. Not only that, but the cherries were too soft and made a mess, including on my favorite t-shirt.

Watched episodes of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes as I worked. Tony Stark is "Alone Against AIM," a terrorist group that has stolen his technology. His friend James becomes War Machine and joins Captain America and Black Panther to help him clear them out of Stark Industries.

The Enchantress commits "Acts of Vengance" against the Baron Zemo and his men, killing them off one by one. The Baron is finally forced to turn to the Avengers to help stop her and keep himself from becoming her next victim.

Ms. (now Captain) Marvel is saying "Welcome to the Kree Empire" when she and space spy organization SWORD are attacked by the aliens the Kree. Her boss Abigail Brand stays with the ship while she joins the Avengers to get rid of the Kree on Earth.

Hank Pym is considering hanging up his ant feelers in "To Steal an Ant Man," but someone takes off with his suit before he can. He hires mercenaries Luke Cage and Iron Fist to figure out who did it. Turns out it's Scott Lang, who uses the suit to rob banks and get gangsters to release his daughter Carrie.

Ran a few errands after the cookies came out of the oven. The Oaklyn Library was relatively busy for them, with several people reading or at the computers, despite it being a nice day. I organized both the adult and kid DVD titles and shelved books in the kids' area. Made a quick stop at WaWa for money; picked up a sparkling water to make change.

Went home and had muffins for lunch; continued with the Avengers while I ate. "Michael Korvac" is a man who claimed to have been tortured by aliens. When a strange group from outer space that includes a wisecracking raccoon and a talking tree show up and try to capture him, they assume that they're the ones who tortured him. But looks can be deceiving...

Headed to the laundromat next. There were a few people around, including a family, but they weren't that busy. It was just as well. Didn't really have a big load, anyway. I mainly wanted to get work clothes done and wash the cherry juice stains out of my shirt (which I did).

Went straight home and did some research, not on jobs, but on how to get rid of fear. All this fear is holding me back, but it just doesn't seem to want to go away. It's hard to believe when everything is going wrong. I've had a hard time staying positive lately, with everything going on.

Tried to cheer myself up by finally finishing The Rebel League and the Death Ray. Even as Luke, Leia, Han, and the others team up, Vader - Chief Darren Vedder, the head of Coruscant's police force - is meeting with tough-guy bounty hunter Bob R. Fettman. Fettman knows quite a bit about Harris Arietta, including what he was doing when he took that job from Jake Hunter. Vedder introduces Fettman to his boss, Mayor Stephan Palpatine, who has his own plans for the Rebel League...

Whew! That took a lot longer than I thought it would. Hopefully, the two follow-ups I have planned won't be quite so difficult. I didn't get the chance to put it on my blog or before dinner, but it is up at Archive of Our Own.

Archive of Our Own

Made thin chicken cutlets with mushroom sauce and the last of the spinach for dinner. Continued on with the Avengers as I cooked. "Who Do You Trust?" when Earth is invaded by a group of shapeshifting aliens known as the Skrulls? Nick Fury tells Tony Stark and Maria Hill not to trust anyone...and the ensuing accusations eventually drive the rest of the Avengers apart. But the real Skrull is closer than they think...

"The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill" tells of a mysterious creature that attacks Thor...but turns out to be able to wield the hammer Mjolnar. He's Beta Ray Bill, an alien who is transporting his people from their destroyed planet to a place where they can start over. Thor and his people help him save his race and his ship from a possessed Enchantress.

Moved on to Lego Pirates of the Caribbean next. Thanks to a glitch, I only had time to do "The Brethren Court." The round isn't nearly as hard as some previous ones. You have to do a series of puzzles to find the members of the Court and get them to move to open the door to their meeting place. Once inside, you have to find the book of their rules and get them to help deal with Davy Jones.

Finished the night after a shower with The Amazing Spider Man, Sony's 2012 reboot. Unlike the previous version, we start with the past, as young Peter is taken by his parents to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Years later, a teenage Peter (Andrew Garfield) finds his father's papers and learns he was experimenting on genetics with fellow scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). He's bitten by a spider who was one of their test subjects and immediately develops spider-like abilities, such as shooting webs and sensing danger. Peter gives Connors a bit of data that he wanted, and he tells him more about his father. But all is not well. Peter's uncle died in a hold-up at a deli that he did nothing to stop, and now he's determined to find his uncle's killer. Though he tells his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) who he is, her policeman father George (Dennis Leary) thinks he's meddling.

Meanwhile, hoping to regrow his lost arm, Connors has taken the genetics formula. It turns him into the Lizard, a super-strong, scaly green menace that can regrow limbs. Peter is the only one who can stop his dastardly plan to turn the whole world into lizards, but can he get there in time?

Maybe it's because I'm not the biggest fan of the character, but while this wasn't bad, it wasn't great, either. Garfield and Stone did well enough as the title character and his crush, but they were outshown by the supporting cast. Leary was suitably stoic as Gwen's cop dad, Ifans had a great time as the limb-growing villain, and Sally Field and Martin Sheen made a warm and wise Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Some nice special effects too, especially in the finale, when Peter and the Lizard were climbing around in the rain.

If you're more of a fan of Spider Man than I am, you'll probably find a lot to enjoy in this one.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rainy Afternoon In Oaklyn

Began a cloudy, humid morning with an episode of The Backyardigans as I ate breakfast and got ready for work. Pablo, the World's Greatest Detective, is asking "Whodunnit?" when Lady Tasha's jewels go missing. Could the thief be her butler Tyrone? Or Miss Uniqua Underhood, who knew about the theft before it took place? Or her neighbor Austin Frothingslosh, who rushed out for a rather shady reason? Or maybe the mysterious figure that the kids saw wandering around in the garden...

Headed to work just as the sun was coming out. Thankfully, it wasn't nearly as much trouble as yesterday. I was the only bagger when I arrived, but two (including a new recruit) arrived by the afternoon. It was so quiet, I barely needed to do carts or shelve items. I mainly did inside trash and outside recycling, gathered baskets, and bagged for a few folks.

This time, I rushed out as soon as I finished around 1 PM. Dark clouds had begun to gather again, but they weren't quite as threatening as yesterday yet. Charlie was working on replacing the wooden steps that lead up to my apartment, so I went inside through the door that leads into his side of the house. He wasn't inside, but I could still hear him cursing his brains out, even over his power tools. I changed, grabbed Chocolate Cream Pie Murder and the DVDs, and headed back out.

Had a far better lunch at Phillies Phatties. Even with soap operas going in the background, it was still a lot quieter. I enjoyed my slice of tomato basil, slice of tomato basil and fresh mozzarella, and can of Cherry Vanilla Pepsi in peace.

Took the long way across Newton Lake Park to Westmont. Despite the clouds, there were quite a few people out and about, mainly fisher folk and dog walkers. It's looking more and more like summer here. The grass and the trees are full and thick and very green. Clover and buttercups dot the banks of the lake.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't too busy when I got in. At any rate, there wasn't much to do. I tried shelving the kids' titles, but most of them still don't fit. A teen volunteer did the remaining DVDs. I just took out a few titles. Decided to give the two recent Amazing Spider Man movies a shot, along with last year's version of Robin Hood. The library finally got the rest of the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon in. I took out the last two volumes. Found a book called The Girl Stays In the Picture, on the friendship between silent screen star Mary Pickford and screenwriter Frances Marion, that I thought might be promising.

The clouds had just been getting darker and darker all afternoon, and it was growing more humid by the minute. I figured I'd be safer going straight home. Went online and on the computer as soon as I got in. Rudy and Charlie are eager to join their group. Rudy can make gadgets (and chats with Harris about several designs); Charlie can translate and understand almost any language. Even Chewbacca can bite people in the leg. Wedge not only adds that he and his friends would be willing to help, but offers to help Luke run Ben MacKenner's comics shop as well.

It started raining somewhere around 5:30. While the storms weren't as heavy as they were last night, they were still pretty noisy, with at least one major downpour. Charlie continued to work (and curse) until the rain got to be too heavy.

It was nearly 7 before I finally broke for dinner. Watched the first episode of the final season of Earth's Mightiest Heroes as I enjoyed a quick meal of leftovers. The Fantastic Four join the Avengers to help them take down one of the Four's regular villains, Doctor Doom. But Doom has something more sinister in mind when he kidnaps Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, and Janet Van Dyne the Wasp...

Moved on to Lego Pirates of the Caribbean after I ate. I had problems with "Norrington's Choice." While the puzzles weren't that hard to figure out, one of them glitched. I was supposed to be able to choose the tatooed sumo wrestler pirate, but for some reason, he just stood in a corner and did nothing. I ended up resetting the round and doing it over again, this time with no trouble.

Finished the night with The Big Broadcast of 1938. I go more into Bob Hope's first feature film at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Big Broadcast of 1938

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Bad Day of the Storms

Started a sunny, hot, and killer humid day with work. Work...did not go well. On one hand, after doing the carts for the first hour or so, I was mostly inside shelving loose items. I picked up a few extra hours, which is great for my wallet...but the reason I got them was because the afternoon bagger called out. (Again. He calls out a lot.) I ended up borrowing money for lunch. I didn't bring any; I'd expected to eat lunch at home. Spent a lot of the rest of the afternoon fielding five different commands at once from at least three different managers. Got stuck in a register for the last half-hour when a cashier didn't have someone to come in for her.

Was getting organized when Charlie came up to my door. Apparently, the next few days are going to be too humid to do the painting he'd originally planned. He's going to work on fixing up the steps to my apartment instead. That does mean I'll have to go up to my place through his house, but it's only for the weekend.

Did some writing for the next few hours. Luke's angry when Mara criticizes the Rebel League for destroying government property...but she declares the man who saved her to be a hero. Wedge, Harris, and Kes tease Luke, but he points out that Mara only knows his alter-ego. She thinks his regular form is a nerd.

Leia joins the guys at the counter as Kes changes the channel. She offers Luke something better than a medal - a chance to be her partner. They both need help learning about their powers. Luke will only join if Harris and Chewie can, too. Harris may not have superpowers, but he can build amazing weapons and vehicles, and he knows the area better than anyone.

Heavy black clouds had been building up while I worked. By the time I broke for dinner, they were thick and overhead. I switched off the computer as the first BANG! was heard. The sky looked almost green as lightning flashed and rain came down in torrents.

It was a perfect night for a spooky Three Stooges short while I had leftovers for dinner. "If a Body Meets a Body" has the Stooges hoping to claim Curly's inheritance from his uncle...if they can survive a night in a house that may be haunted by the ghost of Curly's scientist uncle and a skull that seems to move on it's own!

The rain was practically a waterfall when I switched to Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. Began At World's End with a trip to "Singapore" to pick up the Chinese war lord's men, including a big tatooed guy who can pull out items with orange handles. The next round, "Davy Jones' Locker," is really strange. It begins with Jack joining with various "imaginary" versions of him to repair his ship in a dusty wasteland. Once you get the ship repaired, you need Barbarossa and the short, blunderbuss-sporting crew member Marty to find the rest of the crew and get the ship turned over.

Thankfully, the storm was gone by the time I jumped in the shower and took out the trash. I watched some more Pirates of the Caribbean run-throughs on YouTube, then switched to Buzzr. The early 80's Card Sharks is doing a fun series of episodes featuring game show hosts of the time as contestants, including a very young Alex Trebek (reminding everyone that he's Canadian in a Montreal Canadiens sweater) and fellow Buzzr hosts Allen Ludden (Password Plus) and Gene Rayburn (Match Game). I had to look up where I recognized Jim Lange from. He hosted a mid-80's revival of Name That Tune that I know I watched on USA. Likewise, I remember Wink Martindale well from USA Tic Tac Dough re-runs. I think I know Tom Kennedy from the CBS show Body Language.

Honestly, I hope they did this again sometime, because these guys have been hilarious to watch. Special kudos to the rounds that pit Ludden against Rayburn and Ludden against Martindale (and his very wide, white teeth).

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Independent Woman

It was cloudy, humid, and raining when I woke up this morning. Thankfully, the rain was long gone by the time I had breakfast and was starting Supergirl. As soon as I finished, I went on the computer to work on my proposal and look over jobs on Upwork. Trouble is...I look over them, but I have no idea what to say in that proposal. How can I explain my lack of experience? Or promote myself when all I've written is three blogs and a lot of fanfics? I don't know what to say.

I was still frustrated when I got off the computer. Had a quick Chocolate-Banana Smoothie lunch before heading out...and heading right back in briefly. I finally got a notice from Camden County about my food stamps. Due to my raised rent, they're bringing them up to 81 dollars. Still not as good as they were two years ago, but it's much better than the 15 I have now.

Dashed out the door to counseling after that. I was five minutes late, nothing to get upset over. I was more upset at myself for not doing better with job hunting. I am glad that most of whatever that cold or sinus infection was that I got hit with in early April is gone, I enjoyed seeing Captain Marvel for my birthday, that Dad's doing much better, and Lauren and I had a great time on our vacation.

The trouble is, I still need money, and contrary to what everyone thinks, I can't always rely on the Acme raising my hours. While I don't really have a problem with the Food Stamps anymore, I would prefer not to end up on Social Security. I want to be fully independent, with no need for help from anyone. I hate asking for money, or that everyone feels they need to give it to me.

The trouble is, I'm not sure how to make that happen. Every time I try, I get nervous. How can I promote myself when I've never done anything? I wish one person understood. No one in my family or at work ever listens to me. They give me suggestions, but they just don't seem right. I'm not getting a second retail job. The first one drives me crazy! I just need to find something I can do on the side that will actually work out.

Maybe it's just as well that I don't have any plans for this summer. I might take a day trip to Atlantic City now that the Transit trains are up and running again or make a quick return to the Cherry Hill Mall, but unless Rose and her family are going down to visit the family in Cape May County and I can tag along, I won't be going anywhere until likely September...and I'm fine with that. I'll concentrate on writing my stories and job hunting. There has to be something I can do that's better than working in a grocery store!

Mrs. Stahl said to either get an online job or take more hours at work. I'll see what I can do. I can't really control when they ask me.

I wasn't feeling great when I got out of work. Thought a water ice at Primo's might cheer me up a little. Surprisingly, despite it being just as the kids were getting out of school, they weren't busy when I arrived. Ordered a small Java Chip and had it outside on the bench, next to two women chatting together over ice cream. Turned out to be coffee-chocolate chunk, and it was really very tasty. It was wet, anyway.

Had to stop at the Westmont Acme on the way home. I needed pads rather badly. Also used a Monopoly coupon (they end today) to pick up Triscuits on sale to go with dinner. The lines were a little long, but not too bad, and they moved fast.

Took the long way home across Newton Lake Park. Despite the humidity and off-and-on clouds, I dodged quite a few fisher folk, dog walkers, and groups of kids out with their friends. The park's gorgeous now, with the trees almost in their full growth and white clover dotting the fields.

Went straight into writing when I got home. Harris tells Luke he can stay with him in his van until he can find a place of his own. As they talk it over, Kes Dameron, the owner and manager of the coffee shop, turns on Channel 11. Mara Jadeson is broadcasting her version of the destruction of the Death Ray. Kes teases him about Mara, but Luke's not entirely sure he wants to hear what she has to say...

(And it finally started raining around 7, just as I was starting dinner. It was a pretty big thunderstorm for a while too, very windy and noisy. It seems to be gone now, though I've left the air conditioner on.)

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. I had leftover black bean dip with Triscuits while finally finishing up Supergirl. Kara, aka Supergirl (Helen Slater), is searching for the Omega Hedron, a sphere with mysterious powers that she accidentally lost. It fell to Earth and was found by Selina (Faye Dunaway), an ambitious carnival witch with more on her mind than reading palms. She's determined to use it to take over the world, starting with forcing a handsome construction worker to fall in love with her. Kara poses as Linda Lee, a student at a local girl preparatory school. She ends up rescuing the construction worker from the havoc Selina's spells cause...and he promptly falls head over heels for her. Meanwhile, she has to keep dodging her roommate and new best friend Lucy Lane's (Maureen Teefy) questions. When Selina catches Kara, she sends her to the Phantom Zone with her mentor Zaltar (Peter O'Toole). But you can't keep a good Kryptonian down...and this super-lass isn't going to let some witch harm her new friends or her adopted home.

Ok, so this is campy as heck, with poor dialogue, slightly cheap-looking special effects, and a wooden love interest. It's still one of my favorite childhood movies. Helen Slater is a wonderfully naive Girl of Steel, and Dunaway chews every bit of scenery to atoms as the sorceress with a thing for glittery caftans. If you enjoyed Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel and are looking for another big-screen superheroine outing, give this one a try.

(Watching this again and checking some childhood cartoons I love on YouTube gave me an idea for a sequel-based Star Wars fanfic. It will replace and use ideas from The Wizard of Oz story I originally had planned. Though I've seen a few film and TV versions and have read the first book, I don't really know that much about the Oz series. I do, however, have fond memories of the girl-power cartoons of my childhood that had groups of females fighting sometimes fairly dark villains with the power of everything from rainbows to magical singing.

The year is 1989. Rachelle "Rey" Ridley works for a junk shop in Jakku, Arizona. She's good with plants and has coaxed a small garden to grow in her tiny backyard. She's quite surprised when a beautiful pony, then a young man, fall out of the sky and ask for her help. They're Finn and BeeBee, of the Kingdom of Alderaan. They're on the run from the evil Warlock Snoke, who has imprisoned Queen Leia behind a magic mirror. Her husband King Han and his manservant Chewbacca have simply vanished, and her brother, the flower mage Luke, has fled the land. Leia's greatest warrior, Poe of the Tiger Lillies, was captured and supposedly killed by the evil, magic-and-beauty-hating Kylo Ren.

Rey follows Finn and BeeBee to Alderaan, which has been stripped of the magical gemstone flowers that gave it the magic that kept it beautiful. With the help of outspoken Jannah of the Marigolds, sweet and chatty Kaydel of the Bluebells, and shy Rose of the Red Roses, Rey discovers the power within herself...and that friendship and giving others a second chance may be the greatest powers of all.

Hopefully look for this one by the end of the year, after I finish The Rebel League series and The Resistance Kids: The Last Good Cop.)

Played some Lego Pirates of the Caribbean after dinner. Only had time to finish the last round of Dead Man's Chest, "The Kraken." This is fairly complicated, for a boss round. You first have to gather up explosives and get them to the surface, then figure out how to detonate them, then toss enough bottles at the Kraken to anger it, then blow it up. It takes a while. I got hit by the Kraken too much to get a lot of studs, but I did pick up four bottles (this game's version of pieces). Wandered around the Port for a little while after that, buying a few new characters that had appeared.

Finished the night with The Glenn Miller Story. I go more into this biopic of the popular big band leader at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Glenn Miller Story

Monday, May 27, 2019

Hot Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! I began mine with another early work day. I did do carts for the first two hours or so, but I spent most of the rest of the day inside after the afternoon bagger arrived and took them over. I mainly worked on shelving two full carts of candy, but I did end up in the register during the height of the lunch rush hour. I also kept getting eight different orders from at least three different managers later in the day. It was hard to figure out what I needed to do first.

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. The weather was too beautiful not to! It was sunny and hot, in the lower 80's, and neither as humid nor as hazy as yesterday. Surprisingly, the traffic wasn't that bad, not even around the entrance to the shopping center. It was a nice ride into Oaklyn, with the green trees swaying in the breeze.

Worked on writing for a while after I got home and changed. Patricia asks Leia to keep an eye on Luke and his powers. She's very interested in them. What she's hoping is that her daughter will finally find a man who will make her happy. She also agrees that Leia can stay there until she can find a new home and they've held her aunt and uncle's funeral.

Meanwhile, Luke is chatting with Wedge and his buddies at the Rebel League's victory party. He was able to shower at their place and borrow clothes from Harris, but he needs a place to stay. He suggests to Harris that he takes his uncle's furniture-making clients and start a legitimate business. Harris says he'll think about it, then offers Luke a bunk in his van.

Broke for dinner at 6. Made scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and mushrooms while watching a couple of Donald Duck in the Army shorts. "Donald Gets Drafted" when he joins the Army, thinking he'll become a glamorous pilot. He actually gets stuck on the ground, dealing with nasty Sargent Pete. He's "The Vanishing Private" after he finds a can of invisibility paint and first covers a cannon in it, then himself. He drives Pete crazy leading him on a merry romp to find "the little man you can't see." He has less luck wrestling with his tent and his army mates snoring in "Fall Out, Fall In."

Played Lego Pirates of the Caribbean after dinner. A video on YouTube showed me what I missed on "The Flying Dutchman" - you have to step on lit squares and jump from square to square to get to Davy Jones. Had more luck with the next round "Isla Cruses," which involved finding six treasures, then chasing Jack Sparrow up a tower and into a moving mill wheel, as in the film. It was a lot of fun, especially going after Jack. I also now had enough gold bricks to explore the next Port area. Picked up one red hat extra, but couldn't afford another.

Finished the night with On the Town. I go further into this tale of three sailors on leave in New York on my Musical Dreams Movie Review blog.

On the Town

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Wildcats and Ladies of the Caribbean

Began my day with my first of two early work days in a row. Spent most of it outside, trying to gather carts. I just couldn't keep up with them! I'd get them full, go inside for a minute or go do the trash and recycling, and they'd be empty again. The other bagger who was in this morning mostly stayed inside. I got called in for the last hour to sweep the store and clean up two spills in a row. Used Monopoly coupons to treat myself to a Bai Coconut drink and a Snickers on the way out.

It was actually rather pleasant this morning while it was still cloudy and breezy. By 1 PM, the clouds had cleared, leaving a hot sun and a searing blue sky. It was dry, but it was also sizzling, probably in the 90's. It was no day for long rides. As soon as I got home, I changed into far cooler clothes and made myself a Tropical Smoothie (with mandarin oranges, strawberries, a banana, and coconut yogurt).

Listened to Wildcat while I had lunch. This 1960 Broadway show was a vehicle for Lucile Ball, then just coming off the success of I Love Lucy. She plays Wildcat Jackson, a rough and ready con woman in 1912 Oklahoma who has come out west with her lame sister to strike oil. She buys land from a hermit prospector and lies and has a drilling crew foreman (Keith Andes) arrested, then released into her custody so he'll work for her. He doesn't appreciate that and believes her land is dry. She tries to show him she can be the kind of woman he wants, but she's just too goofy. She's ready to destroy the oil well...but maybe the land isn't as dry as it looks...

The book comes off as a cliched clone of Annie Get Your Gun and Calamity Jane, but there's some decent music to be found here (an early effort by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman). "Hey, Look Me Over" was the big hit and is still a bit of a standard to this day, but some of the other songs aren't bad. "Tall Hope" and "Corduroy Road" are nice chorus numbers for the oil drillers, and Lucy has fun wooing the old hermit in "What Takes My Fancy." Fun for fans of Lucy or 50's musicals.

Played Lego Pirates of the Caribbean for the next few hours. The first few rounds of Dead Man's Chest were even more complicated than the ones for Curse of the Black Pearl. The third round with Will working with his dead father Bootstrap Bill on Davy Jones' ship took so long and was so hard to figure out, I finally gave up on it.

Opted to make burgers and sauteed zucchini for dinner instead. Switched to Jamaica while I ate. This one has a lot in common with Wildcat. It's a vehicle for a popular female star of the late 50's-early 60's, has a decent score, is a pretty typical example of a musical of the era, spun off one hit song, and is hard to revive today due to a dull book. As far as I can tell, lovely Savannah of the title Caribbean island (Lena Horne) wants to go to New York. Her boyfriend (Ricardo Montleban) is a fisherman who likes his job and island living and wants to stay. That's pretty much it. Too bad the story isn't much, because E.Y Harburg and Harold Arlen came up with some good music. Along with finally finding a place for "Ain't It the Truth," Horne gets to sing the lovely "Coconut Sweet" and my favorite song from this score and the big hit, the biting satire "Napoleon." Once again, it's pretty much for fans of the musicals of the 50's and 60's and Horne only.

Finished the night with writing. Senator Patricia Amidala, Leia's mother, is the unknown "White Queen" and the head of the Rebel League. Leia is one of the few members who reports directly to her. Patricia first tries to find out more about Luke and Harris. Leia admits that Luke seems...familiar...somehow, and Harris drives her crazy. Patricia notices Leia's interest and tries to nudge her about him, but she's not quite ready to acknowledge her attraction yet. She's more willing to discuss her abduction by Vader. There's something about him that seems familiar, too...especially given how close his powers are to Leia's...

Saturday, May 25, 2019

May Fair Affair

Kicked off a cloudy and kind of cool morning with breakfast and three of the wartime Paramount Superman animated shorts. Given the tenor of the comic books of the time, it was probably inevitable that Superman would fight the Axis on the big screen as well. "Japoteurs" has him rescuing Lois and stopping a falling plane that was sabotaged by a Japanese spy. "The Eleventh Hour" is the unusual mature tale of Superman fighting the Japanese while he and Lois are captives in Tokyo. Superman helps a "Secret Agent" escape a group of Nazi spies who want the papers she stole from them that will reveal the names of their group.

Headed out after the last cartoon ended. Every year, Collingswood holds its huge May Fair on most of Haddon Avenue the Saturday before Memorial Day. The farm market is absorbed into the Fair for the week on a side street. I ducked through the crowds and made my way there first. There were hoards of people buying fresh produce and baked goods for their Memorial Day barbecues and parties. Peas and beets are out now; I bought spring peas, along with strawberries.

Strolled around a bit after I left the farm market. Most of the fair is a huge craft show, with people selling everything from doll clothes to knitted toys to beaded jewelry and local artwork. On one end of the craft show is a midway for young kids, with a mini-Scrambler, Ferris wheel, an area with a stage and hula hoops and balls to play with, and three bounce houses (one of them some very high slides). There was a train ride in a parking lot and sand and candle art at a booth.

On the other end is a huge blocks-spanning car show. It was so long, I got tired and turned around before I saw half of it. My favorites of the cars were both from the 50's. I loved the cute little red and white Chevolette and the mauve and cream car.

Rite Aid and WaWa are a few blocks from the car show. I hit Rite Aid to get a soda and pick up the new Vanity Fair that has Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on the cover. I was able to get a Vanilla Coke, but it turns out that they just remodeled and eliminated the magazine section. Not to mention, I ended up paying 3 dollars for a $1.99 soda because my sale card automatically rounded up the price for a charity. I don't remember putting any such thing on my store card. It must have been randomly added without my knowledge. And the woman was annoying about the whole thing. I will not be going back in there, or to Rite Aid. They just lost themselves  a customer.

The sun was coming out as I returned to the corner of Haddon and Collings. Took the long way down Newton Lake Park, dodging several other bike riders as well. Stopped at CVS and Dollar General on the way home, but neither had the magazine.

Made a strawberry-banana smoothie when I got home. Ran war shorts from the Walter Lanz Studio at Universal. Woody is an "Ace In the Hole" when he wants to fly, but ends up shaving horses. His sergeant seriously regrets it when he does make it in the air. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" has a black officer getting his regiment jumping with his swinging reverie. (While the black stereotypes fly thick and hard here, there's also a really swinging version of the title songs, and I don't know too many other cartoons that depict minorities in the military). "21 Dollars a Day (Once a Month)" also spoofs the peacetime draft, this time with toys in the army (and Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda). "Pigeon Patrol" is a more typical wartime story. A skinny country pigeon has to get a message past a nasty (and stereotyped) Japanese vulture.

The Pink Panther is swayed by the power portrayed in the recruiting posters in "G.I Pink." Cranky seargents, land mine-filled fields, and angry mascots make him wish he'd stayed out of Vietnam. Mickey Mouse has more luck with "The Barnyard Battle." He may be a skinny rubber-hose mouse, but he still has no trouble getting rid of those Hun cats.

Puttered around for a bit, then did the laundry around 3. They were dead when I arrived. I forgot my laundry detergent, to my embarrassment. Good thing the manager was around and let me borrow some Tide. Not that I had a huge load anyway. I wanted to get the last load from vacation done before I went back to work, including my new jeans. By the time it started getting busier, my clothes were in the dryer.

Worked on writing after I got home and put everything away. Shara invites everyone to a party at her boyfriend Kes' coffee shop to celebrate. Leia says she'll be there later. She has to tell the White Queen...aka the former Senator Patricia Amidala, her mother...about her encounter with Vader.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Did a few Popeye cartoons while adding tuna and steamed spring peas to the last of the pasta salad. Popeye thinks he's "The Mighty Ensign" when he joins the Navy, but he has a lot to learn about getting along in the Armed Services. It's a "Blunder Below" when he makes a mess of the cannons and ends up shoveling coal, but it turns out he's the only one who can really get rid of the enemy. He and Bluto are "Kicking the Conga Around" when they do the famous Latin dance to compete for the fair senorita Olive. They also compete for Olive when she visits their ship in "Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix."

Played Lego Pirates of the Caribbean after dinner. Was able to get all the way through "Smuggler's Run" this time with no glitching, and I even found a piece I missed the first time. It took a while to figure out how to get all the light and wood in the right place. The last round of Curse of the Black Pearl has Will, Elizabeth, and Jack literally having to move the earth to fight Barbarossa and end the curse on them and the ship.

Finally got enough gold bricks to explore the Port hub area more thoroughly after the round ended. In later Lego games, the red Extra bricks are found in the hub, rather than in the rounds. I managed to find the first one for Disguises on one end of the Port.

Finished the night after a late shower with the original animated Disney Aladdin, in honor of the live-action version being released this weekend. I go into more details on one of Disney's most popular animated movies of the 90's at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Aladdin (1992)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Welcome to the Weekend

My eyes opened around 7...and I went back to sleep for another hour or so. Read and did my journal in bed, then had breakfast and made Strawberry-Banana Muffins while watching the Looney Tunes World War II shorts from the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol 6. Favorites on this set include Bugs annoying a caractured Joseph Gobbels in "Herr Meets Hare," barnyard foul retelling the events leading up to the war and Pearl Harbor in "The Ducknators," "Wacky Blackout" and "Weakly Reader" spoofing the homefront, and Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid fighting and singing in the World War I trenches in "Bosko the Doughboy."

Finally headed out around quarter of noon. First stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session. There were a few people reading and one person on the computer, a bit surprising for such a lovely day. I organized DVDs and board books and shelved children's books. Took the long way down Nicholson Road to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, especially after yesterday. It was sunny and breezy, warm but not too hot, probably in the mid-70's. It was a lovely beginning to the holiday weekend.

Stopped in Five Below when I arrived. I forgot to pick up a new dry erase board for my schedules when we were at the mall on Wednesday. Mine is scratched and doesn't write very well anymore. The line was long, but went pretty fast.

I had lunch at Applebee's. Joe paid for our meal on Tuesday. I didn't get to use my birthday gift card. I enjoyed the unusually quiet lunch hour while noshing on honey chicken strips, salty fries covered in honey sauce, iced tea, and their amazing French onion soup.

I didn't have much grocery shopping to do at the Acme. I wanted to use my Monopoly coupons before they expire. Used ones for Softsoap, Chicken of the Sea tuna, and two for free boxes of Organic Animal Crackers. There were good sales on Turkey Hill ice cream (thought I'd try the Tripolitain Coffee Cake) and cherries. Restocked bananas, dark cocoa, yogurt, skim milk, mandarin orange cups, canned white and black beans, and bacon (turkey this time).

Was mainly there for next week's schedule. In good news, early hours will allow me to get a lot done this week once we get away from the holiday weekend, and I have three days off, including Tuesday for counseling. In annoying news, I work seven hours on Memorial Day, and I don't have as many hours I as I was getting before vacation.

When I got home, I put everything away while finishing the remaining Looney Tunes wartime shorts. Bugs is a "Super Rabbit" in a Superman parody who goes up against a cowboy with a hatred of rabbits. He does everything he can to get the fellow to back down. "Draftee Daffy" would do anything avoid that determined "Little Man From the Draft Board." "Falling Hare" is one of my favorite Bugs shorts. It's one of the rare cartoons where he goes up against an antagonist who gives as good as they get, in this case a gremlin he catches sabotaging planes.

It was such a nice day, I decided to pick up eggs at Dollar General today instead of tomorrow. It was too lovely to spend the entire day inside. Evidently, a lot of people had the same idea, as they were also fairly busy. I grabbed my eggs (which are $1.25 at Dollar General) and a bottle of Orange Cream Coke and got out.

Worked on writing for a couple of hours. Luke's exhausted from pushing his powers and the rapidly oncoming night. Harris manages to catch him before he hits the ground, and with Shara "Captain Aero" Bey and Wedge Antilles, returns to Yavin Park. Shara invites everyone to a party at her boyfriend Kes' coffee shop. Charlie's not as happy. Rudy was shot down; he's alive but bloody, battered, and unconscious. He stays with his friends as the paramedics take him to the nearest hospital.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while watching a Three Stooges short. They're "Back from the Front" when their Navy ship is sunk and they find themselves on a Nazi boat. They first try to blend in with the crew, then takes on the entire ship themselves.

Played Lego Pirates of the Caribbean for a while after dinner. I got through "The Black Pearl Attacks" just fine, though it took me a little while to figure out where to go on the flooded second and third floors. I never finished "Smuggler's Island." It froze up on me almost 3/4th of the way through. I'll try again tomorrow.

Finished the night with The Apple Dumpling Gang. Gambler Russell Donovan (Bill Bixby) finds himself saddled with three orphans when he thinks he's getting "valuables" from an old partner John Wintle (Don Knight). The kids drive Donovan and everyone else in town crazy, at least until they find a big gold nugget in a mine that was previously considered to be dry. Now everyone wants the kids. Donovan puts a stop to that by marrying tough saloon driver Dusty (Susan Clark). When Whintle comes back and claims the kids, they run away to Amos and Theodore (Don Knotts and Tim Conway), a pair of bumbling crooks who had befriended them earlier, and convince them to steal the nugget from the bank. If there's no nugget, they can stay with Donovan. But the Stillwell Gang, a far more vicious group of criminals, also has a plan to rob the nuggets, and they're a lot more competent than Amos and Theodore.

This is an old childhood favorite of mine. It's not the darkest or strongest western in the world (which I suspect is what critics wanted at the time), but it's still pretty funny, especially Bixby and Clark's bickering and Amos and Theodore's antics. This was the most popular Disney movie of 1975, and I'm inclined to agree with the majority here. If you love the cast or comic westerns, this one is definitely worth the mine train ride for.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

It's the End of Vacation, Charlie Brown

I awoke to a day that was gloomy, cool, and very humid. Lauren and I still had to get her ready to take the train home. While she packed, I had breakfast and ran the second special on my new fall Peanuts set. It's Magic, Charlie Brown when Snoopy takes out a book on magic from the library and puts on a show as "The Great Houndini." It's mostly a bust, until he makes Charlie Brown disappear and forgets to make him reappear. Chuck's upset at first, but then he realizes that Lucy can't yank away the football if she can't see him...

Lauren hauled her luggage downstairs around 10:30. We waited until almost 11. Jodie was late; she'd been cleaning and had lost track of time. Dark clouds had gathered as we waited for her; we even heard thunder. The rain started coming down hard, just as Jodie arrived and helped Lauren get her luggage into her car. Thankfully, it barely lasted ten minutes. It was just about gone by the time we pulled in at the Cherry Hill Train Platform behind the Shop Rite. Lauren hauled her luggage out of the car, after which I gave her a big hug. She started towards the platform as Jodie drove me home.

(I definitely enjoyed this vacation, for all the trouble we had getting to it. We got lucky in a lot of ways. I was able to catch Jess and Joe on short notice, I didn't get stuck with jury duty, the only time it rained was briefly at night, and the heat wave hit on a day where we only had laundry planned and a day we mostly spent in an air conditioned mall. Lauren and I almost always have a great time when we get together. She's the best friend I ever had.)

Spent the next few hours waiting out the storms, tidying up the apartment, and making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and a chocolate-banana smoothie for lunch. Finished out the Smallville season 2 set  while I worked. "Accelerate" is the creepy tale of how Lana keeps seeing what she believes to be her best friend from her childhood everywhere. Thing is, Emily died in a tragic accident at the age of 10. Clark believes that Lana's seeing a girl, but not that she's a ghost. He recruits Chloe and Lex to help him figure out what's really going on. Meanwhile, Helen's caught sneaking around in Lex's room by Lionel and has to explain to her future father-in-law that she doesn't entirely trust her fiancee.

Clark wishes that the spaceship would quit "Calling" him. He finally learns that the cave holds the secret to opening the ship, but he doesn't like what he hears from it when he does get in. Meanwhile, Dr. Walden of earlier in the season has awaken from his coma, and he's convinced that Clark is an alien sent to kill everyone, and Lana and Helen are starting to question their relationship with their men.

The rain held off long enough for me to head out around quarter after 1. I still had some errands to run. Surprisingly, despite the iffy weather, there were quite a few folks out for a stroll in Newton Lake Park. Maybe they were enjoying the lovely scenery. The trees are almost in full bloom, their leaves a brilliant spring green, with white clover bobbing in the wind.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't too busy when I arrived. It was still a bit early, well before most kids get out of school. I tried to shelve as many DVDs as I could, but a lot of them didn't fit, especially in the kids' section.

Did much better taking out items. I haven't seen the original early 2000's Spider Man with Toby Maguire since I caught it in the theater with Rose's guy friends the Towns twins when it came out. While it wasn't my favorite Batman movie, I enjoyed The Dark Knight enough to try its sequel, The Dark Knight Rises. Dug an interesting mystery about a girl helping her private eye father during World War II, The Girl Is Murder, and The Neverending Story out of the young adult section and the most recent Hannah Swenson mystery Chocolate Cream Pie Murder off the New Releases shelves.

The dark clouds had begun to gather again as I hurried across the street to the Westmont Plaza. I was in and out of Target for electric toothbrush heads and Dollar Tree for sponges, both of which I kept forgetting when Lauren was here. The rain started as I was on my way down Cuthbert. I ducked under the overhanging roof at WaWa for a few minutes until the rain slowed enough for me to dash home.

Went straight into writing when I got in. Vader is about to turn Luke into dust when a man dressed in a long silvery coat and a black fedora swings into him, knocking him out of the sky. It's Harris, dangling off the Millennium Falcon. He tells Luke that Shara went home and he's clear to blow up the Death Ray. Harnessing the last rays of the setting sun, and with the encouragement of the spirit of Ben MacKenner, Luke does indeed get a blast of light into the shaft, sending it sky-high.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Pan-fried the last of the bacon with scrambled eggs and tomatoes and a spinach salad with honey mustard dressing for dinner. Finished Smallville while I ate. Lex and Helen get married in the season finale "Exodus," but they do it without Lex's best man. Clark is too busy destroying the spaceship. The ensuing blast nearly kills half the town, including his parents. Despondent after arguing with his father and with Chloe, Clark grabs red kryptonite and takes off. Lex isn't doing so well either when he realizes that his plane is about to go down, and is bride's gone...

Too bad the second half the season veered too much into soap opera territory for my taste, because some of the earlier episodes were actually quite fun. The sweet Beauty-and-the-Beast story "Nocturne" and Christopher Reeves' touching appearance in "Rosetta" were particular favorites. Wasn't as crazy about "Accelerate," which felt more like it belonged in The Twilight Zone, or episodes like "Ryan" and "Visage" that focused more on the rather annoying love triangle between Chloe, Lana, and Clark or on overly melodramatic plots.

I will say that I largely enjoyed this season more than I did Season 4. There was no attempt at shoehorning in a random supernatural subplot, and when the episodes focused on Clark and the mystery surrounding his powers, it was really interesting.

Switched to Lego Pirates of the Caribbean after dinner. This one plays more like the first Lego Indiana Jones and Clone Wars, with a central location that can be explored with enough gold bricks and more complicated and detailed rounds. I wish the game didn't take so long to get started. The opening cut scene takes forever. Once you get going, it's a lot of fun, especially if you know anything about Jack Sparrow and his adventures.

Ended the night with the short Columbia musical Time Out for Rhythm. I go more into this vehicle for Ann Miller and the Three Stooges at my now off-hiatus Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Time Out for Rhythm

Technically, today was the last day of my vacation. The next few days are ordinary days off. I only have errands planned for tomorrow, but Saturday is the day of the Collingswood Farm Market and Collingswood's big May Fair. I'm looking forward to both, especially since I had to work on the day of the May Fair last year.

(Incidentally, Lauren finally got in around 12:30. Her train rides apparently went fine, but she and her folks ran into a thunderstorm on the way home and apparently had a few harrowing moments driving. At any rate, she's fine now, and the rain seems to have moved away from both our areas.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow

Lauren and I slept in; I woke up around 6, and went back to bed until 8:30. I had a quick breakfast while she got organized, then headed out for our last walk together. Took Lauren the long way this time down Atlantic and Nicholson back to Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. It was another lovely day for a walk, too, sunny, breezy, and a bit warmer than yesterday, but nothing like over the weekend.

We sort of rushed through our visit to Audubon Crossings last week and either skipped or didn't really investigate most of the stores. I considered a Zelda game at GameStop, but decided that the Lego Pirates of the Caribbean game I bought yesterday was enough. Lauren looked at Nintendo Switch games, but ultimately didn't buy anything.

Next up was lunch. Since we did Sonic last week, we opted for Chick Fil' A today. For once, neither their take-out nor their inside lines were ridiculous. We just missed the lunch hour crowds. I bought a grilled chicken sandwich, a frosted lemonade, and waffle fries. Lauren had the fries, a breaded chicken sandwich, and the frosted key lime drink I got last time. Our food came before our drinks did. Evidently, the frozen drink machine got jammed. The manager and one of the kitchen people delivered them within minutes, and brought us straws and napkins, too.

Headed to the other side of the mall after lunch. Goodwill was far busier. I dodged people as I went through old electronics, dishware, toys, and DVDs and CDs. I came up with DVD copies of Scrooged (in its original plastic), the Christopher Guest folk music spoof A Mighty Wind, and the Warner Bros release of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, along with one of the vintage 80's Garfield McDonald's cups. I saw two more, but I only had room for one. I may go back for the rest later this weekend. Lauren found a shirt and a knit vest for work.

(The DVDs were great finds. Having enjoyed Best In Show and For Your Consideration a while back, I've been wanting to catch the other Guest mockumentaries. I've enjoyed seeing Scrooged again so much these past few Christmases, I wanted my own copy. And my copy of It's the Great Pumpkin is at least 12 years old and was starting to skip last year. I've been meaning to pick up the Warners version. They moved the election special to its own release - until I can find that one, I'll keep the older set and the new one.)

We were in and out of Marshalls and Ross next. Lauren bought shirts in both places. I only picked up Orange Cream Coke for $1.19 in Marshalls. Saw sports sandals I liked in Ross, but I may go back for them when I have more money. My DVDs kept setting off the security sensors. The guys at Ross are familiar with me and others and let me in with no fuss, but the manager at Marshalls, while she was nice about it, had to check it out.

(Honestly, the cashier at Marshalls was much worse. She was an older woman who complained loudly and angrily about having to cashier and talk on the phone, and refused to bag my soda herself because "I don't handle people's sodas." Uh, I handle them all the time at the Acme with no trouble.)

Stopped quickly at the Acme on the way home. Picked up tissues and a tomato for dinner tonight, but I was mainly there to get my schedule. To my surprise, I don't have one. I'm off for the remainder of the weekend after my vacation ends tomorrow. That'll give me time to tidy up and get in library volunteering before I return to work for good.

After we got home, we went right into Angry Birds Star Wars. We got through more than half of the Dagobah rounds. Mostly did very well, too. Got a lot of high scores, several two stars, and three stars at least twice.

I ran more Looney Tunes after dinner while frying bacon for Bacon Spinach Salad with cheese, tomato, and home-made Southwestern Lime Dressing (taco sauce, lime juice, olive oil, and a wee sprinkling of sugar). Among my favorites of the Daffy vehicles seen here are "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" (Daffy's epic screenplay spoofs Errol Flynn-esque swashbucklers), "Yankee Doodle Daffy," (Daffy is utterly determined to make producer Porky hear his lollipop-slurping client), and "Duck Dodgers in the 24th and 1/2 Century." (Daffy and Porky battle Marvin the Martian for control of Planet X.)

After a tasty dinner (and Lauren helped her parents get a free baseball game on the baseball network), we played more Roll With It! Played four games this time. I think Lauren won three of them; I only got one this time.

We're finishing the night online. Tomorrow, Lauren goes home around 11. I'll likely spend the rest of the day volunteering at the Haddon Township Library, running errands, and tidying up after my vacation.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Blowin' In the Wind

This time, I was up by 7:30 and read and worked online until Lauren got up around 9. I had a quick breakfast, then ran a few classic Looney Tunes shorts while we got organized. Daffy's a "Duck Amuck" when he's constantly picked on by an animator with a really strange sense of humor. Porky wants "Dough for the DoDo," but he's having a hard time catching the crazy critter in the surreal world of Wackyland. "Drip Along Daffy" is a western spoof, with Daffy as the daring white-clad hero and Porky as his burro-riding comic relief sidekick. Daffy goes after the local bad hombre, but Porky's the one who knows how to be a real hero.

Headed out around quarter of 11. Our first stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library. We said "hi" to the librarians and checked out the library book sale. Neither of us saw anything we wanted, and the library wasn't busy anyway. We moved on.

Lunch was at Amato Bros a block from the library. They'd been open for less than an hour and were quiet when we arrived. Lauren had a BLT sliced into quarters and slid on skewers. I had the Cutlet Italiano (broccoli rabe with provolone and a lightly breaded chicken cutlet - not as good as the one I had last time, but not bad).

We had a long walk up to Barrington. Good thing there wasn't much traffic despite it being noon. We had no problems crossing the street, including King's Highway. At least it was a gorgeous day for a walk. The heat had dissipated overnight, leaving sunny weather, cold wind, and a perfect morning in the lower 70's. I saw quite a few other people walking off their lunches or strolling to or from work, too.

Barrington is the home of the Barrington Antique Center, a huge rabbit's warren of tiny rooms filled with antiques ranging from retro clothes to Victorian china to more recent DVDs, books, and videos. We both made small but fun finds here. Lauren pointed out a room with vintage Star Wars action figures, both loose and in a locked shelf. I found a loose Young Anakin Skywalker with his backpack for a mere $2. Keefe had Anakin (and Padme in her blue Tatoonie outfit) when The Phantom Menace came out in the late 90's, but apparently the small figures had vanished by the time he gave me his collection. Lauren came up with a lavender Beanie Baby bunny.

The stop for the bus going to the Deptford Mall is just a block from the Antique Center. Good thing it didn't take too long to get there. They were four minutes early. There were no problems on the road whatsoever. The ride to Deptford is only about 15-20 minutes, and we ran into no traffic. We got off at the Deptford Mall around quarter of 2.

While the Deptford Mall isn't as big as the one at Cherry Hill, it has a couple of stores that can't be found there. The bus let us off right at Boscov's. I found 99 cent packs of ponytail holders, grabbing two. Lauren picked up several shirts and shorts.

Strolled over to the food court area next. Along with a candy store and the food booths, we found a Game Stop. I didn't get anything this time, but Lauren bought Super Mario Brothers U for the Wii U.

The upper entrances for Macy's and JC Penney are on either side of the food court. We hit JC Penney's first. I found a pair of jeans on the clearance rack listed for $9. When I brought them to the counter, they rang up for a little over $5! I was thrilled. Lauren said she made a few good finds on the clearance rack as well. Didn't find anything at Macy's; Lauren came up with some shirts. (There also used to be a Sears at Deptford, but it closed last year.)

The Disney Store and Box Lunch are across from each other downstairs. I found an adorable small stuffed Baymax (the cuddly medical robot from Big Hero 6) near the counter for $1.99! In the expensive Disney Store, that was a steal. Neither of us found anything at Box Lunch, but I did hear from Jodie. She thought Lauren was leaving tomorrow. She's leaving on Thursday. We confirmed picking her up at twenty of 11.

We decided there wasn't much else to see and strolled over to Target around 4. Not much to see there, either. I was hoping to find clothes for the dolls, but the toy selection at all of the Targets here are always so picked over, even the larger Targets. We spent the last half-hour before dinner relaxing on the concrete patio next to the Target. I don't know who put this there, but it's a nice place to sit down and get organized...when you're not getting blown over by heavy and chilly wind.

Met Jessa and her boyfriend Joe across the parking lot at Applebee's for dinner. Despite it being the dinner hour, they weren't that busy. (More people may have been at the bar.) Joe had a Whiskey Bacon Burger. I went with a cheeseburger. Jessa had the Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich I had the last time I was at Applebee's. Lauren had an enormous Southwestern Chicken Sandwich that flooded the plate. (She ended up taking some of it home for a snack later.)

Made a quick stop back at the Mall on the way home. Evidently, T-Mobile gives out freebies on Tuesday. Joe wanted free spatulas. Good thing there's two T-Mobile stores in the Mall. The downstairs store was out of them, but they still had them upstairs. Jess and Joe each got one. Joe's son JoJo is now working in Hot Topic. Joe visited him while we explored the stacks of Funko Pops, odd pop culture t-shirts, and other strange toys.

Joe and Jess drove us home, even running the Broadway channel on their car radio for us. We chatted for a while at my apartment after we got in. I showed them all the changes, including the remodeled exterior and new windows and porch light. We talked about pop culture, our families, and the movies we enjoy.

After Joe and Jessa left to go the movies, Lauren and I finished the night playing Angry Birds Star Wars. We ran through Bespin this time. Cloud City is a lot less difficult that either the Death Star, or even Hoth. There were a few rounds that took a while, but we got a lot more two and three star rounds, or even just beat my original high score.

Tomorrow, we're going to sleep in on Lauren's last day before checking out the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center one last time.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Better Shop Around

I rolled out of bed to another hot day around 7:30, then read in bed...and then tried to sleep for another hour. Got up for good around 9:30, wrote in my journal, and got dressed. Threw on a cartoon while Lauren and I got ready to go and I had breakfast. Garfield In Paradise takes the famous fat cat, his nerdy owner, and his dog buddy to Paradise World, where the natives worship 50's surfer culture and the hotel owners spout Jack Benny jokes. Paradise turns sour quickly when they hear a rumble from the local volcano...and realize it's about to go off!

We headed out this time around 10:30 to pick up the 10:57 bus to Cherry Hill. The bus was slightly late, but nothing really annoying. Almost everyone got off at the offices near the Shop Rite shopping center, and there was no traffic.

Since it was nearly noon by the time we arrived, I took Lauren down the concrete steps, past the parking garage, and over the bridge to the Silver Dollar Diner for lunch. The diner is a shiny 50's-style eatery on the edge of a hill with splendid views of Cherry Hill. I had the same thing I had when we went here last year, the Tarragon Crab Cake with cole slaw and Old Bay-dusted fries...and it was just as delicious this year. Lauren enjoyed her turkey sandwich and huge bowl of clam and corn chowder.

We were in and out of Kohl's and Target. I didn't buy anything in either place. I'm only looking for a few things; they didn't have any bathing suits I liked at Target, nor any really decent sneakers, and I'm not a fan of Target's clothes. Lauren bought shirts at Kohl's and a bra from a brand she liked that had been renamed at Target.

Despite the dire predictions of Channel 6 weather man Dave Murphy, there were only a few dark clouds on the horizon when we strolled back over to the main mall around 2. Lauren wanted to check out Macy's; she loves them. I once again didn't find anything, but she picked up a shirt. Browsed at The Disney Store, but she didn't see any t-shirts she liked, and the Star Wars stuff was a bit picked-over. (They're mainly focusing on Toy Story 4 and the Aladdin and Lion King remakes right now. They probably won't restock Star Wars until well into the fall.) She tried on plaid pants at New York and Company, but they didn't fit. Lauren bought a WWE-themed card set at Go Games. Didn't see anything we really wanted at Build-a-Bear.

I finally found something at JC Penney's. I just wanted a simple, relatively inexpensive one-piece bathing suit. Most of the plus-sized suits were either too expensive, had too high of a rear line, or were two-pieces. Finally turned up a black and white wrap suit trimmed with a fringed tassel that was on sale for $39. Lauren got some things for her parents.

Old Navy was pretty messy when we got in. I didn't see anything I absolutely needed, so I opted to rush downstairs and go to the bathroom while Lauren bought a sweater on clearance. We met at GameStop upstairs. I did much better here. Lauren bought a Nintendo Switch game; I picked up Lego Pirates of the Carribean for the Wii for a mere $4.99. I needed change for the bus anyway, and I like the Pirates movies and love the Lego games, so this was perfect.

The bus was only a tiny bit late this time, but the traffic was the real problem. It was really backed up going over the Cooper River and on Haddon Avenue in Westmont. It was past 6 when we finally made it in. Lauren needed to use the restroom, so we stopped at WaWa. She bought Sprite Cherry and Limonade; I grabbed a Vanilla Coke, my favorite soda.

Made a quick dinner of turkey hot dogs and zucchini sauteed in olive oil while we settled down and watched Garfield In Hollywood. Garfield, Odie, and Jon win a big local pet talent show on TV that takes them to the national finals in Hollywood. Garfield's determined to become a star, but Jon worries that winning may mean leaving him behind.

Played Roll With It! again after dinner. That game is so much fun. We only got in two rounds this time. Lauren won the first one with twice as many cards as me. We tied on the second.

I hit the shower, and then we went online and chatted for a while. I've been trying to get a hold of Jessa to see if she wants to come to the Deptford Mall with us, but she hasn't replied to my texts or Facebook Messenger posts. If she doesn't respond by tomorrow morning, we'll just take the long walk to Barrington to pick up the bus to Deptford.

(And by the still hasn't rained here at press time. Looks like it went north again.)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Heat of the Moment

While it was sunny when I cracked open my eyes this morning, it was also hot and nasty-humid. It was already in the 70's by 9 AM. I read in bed and did my journal, then worked online and tried to catch a few breezes. Lauren didn't roll off the couch until almost 11. When she was more awake, I made us Berry Banana Pancakes with a banana and some raspberries that were getting old. I burned mine slightly, but they otherwise came out very well.

The only major thing we had planned for today was a run to the laundromat. Lauren needed clothes, and I had things I wanted to wash. By the time we headed to the White Horse Pike, it was in the mid-80's. The sun burned down relentlessly, and while there was a nice breeze, it wasn't enough. The laundromat itself was cool, but it was also very busy. At least two families and three or four college students were moving around, trying to get a washer. I'm just glad we were able to get two. To save change and room (and because our loads were very big anyway), we shared a dryer. Lauren played games on her phone to pass the time; I worked on story notes.

We went home...and pretty much spent the rest of the day playing Angry Birds Star Wars. I'd tentatively suggested going for a walk in the neighborhood, but it was just too darn hot. There really isn't much to see around here anyway, other than some nice front-yard gardens. We made our way through the entire Hoth rounds. The later ones in the Space Slug that involved taking out mynock-pigs were generally easier than the ones on Hoth, where Princess Stella had to pull out Walker legs, or trying to take out Imperial Pig cruiser piles in space. One of the Imperial cruiser rounds took so long, we ultimately skipped it.

By 4:30, we'd decided we were hungry enough to chance the heat. It was slightly cooler and much windier when we strolled down to Phillies Phatties for lunch. They were busy with older elementary school-age boys watching the last inning of the Phillies-Rockies game. (Phils won, by the way, 7-5. In fact, they swept, according to Sports Philadelphia.) Lauren had slices of cheese and cheesesteak (white with chopped beef and mushrooms) and a bottle of Sierra Mist. I had yummy Chicken Rancher (white with breaded chicken chunks and ranch dressing) and tomato basil slices with a can of Cherry Vanilla Pepsi.

It was definitely a good day for water ice, especially since Phillies Yummies is only a door down from Phillies Phatties. Lauren bought a chocolate ice cream sandwich. I enjoyed a very minty, very green medium mint chocolate chip water ice. I finished mine walking home. Most people who hadn't fled the area to escape the heat were out and about. Adults worked in gardens or chatted on porches. Kids rode bikes or played catch in the shade.

Tomorrow, we're going to dodge the rain that's predicted and spend the day at the Cherry Hill Mall.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sunshine On Our Shoulders

Kicked off an absolutely glorious day a bit earlier than we have with a stroll to the Collingswood Farm Market. By the time we got there around 11, they were insanely busy with people buying food for weekend barbecues and college graduations. Saw zucchini for the first time of the year; picked up two of those, along with some plump strawberries.

Next up was lunch at an equally busy Tortilla Press, the Mexican restaurant about a block from the farm market. They have a tasty and very popular weekend brunch. I had the fluffiest omelet I'd ever seen, with spinach, mushrooms, and goat cheese, roasted potatoes and peppers, and a honey corn muffin. Lauren had a huge Smothered Breakfast Burrito with the potatoes and guacamole. I ate all of my omelet (which was fluffy, but not large), the muffin, and most of my potatoes, and I enjoyed them. The breakfast burrito was a lot bigger, but Lauren did finish most of it.

We strolled down Haddon Avenue to take in some of the small shops in Collingswood. Browsed around The Candy Jar, but decided we would wait to buy more candy. Lauren got a couple of shirts for her and her parents at Frugli Consignment; I don't really need much in the way of clothes right now. I did better at Innergroove Records, digging five out of the dollar bins. I met Lauren at the toys and games shop. Lauren bought a dice and card game, Roll With It!, for us to play at my house, and another dice game for her parents.

It was past 1:30 when we strolled down Haddon and across the always-crazy Cuthbert Road to Westmont. Our first stop there was Phidelity Records. Lauren bought CDs for her and her father. Along with five more records, I found two movies I was hoping to pick up soon. I loved The Apple Dumpling Gang as a kid. With Tim Conway's passing, I thought it was time I finally bought that one, along with it's sequel The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again.

Incidentally, the ten records I bought were:

George Shearing Quintet - Deep Velvet and Here & Now

Hooked On Swing

The original casts of Carousel, Jamaica, Wildcat, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, and Jesus Christ Superstar

Operatic studio cast of The Desert Song

Soundtrack for the Rita Hayworth musicals Cover Girl and You Were Never Lovelier

We were going to hit Rocket Fizz next, but...the sign was there, but Rocket Fizz wasn't. The building was empty. I swear it was open the last time I went to counseling and passed through. Just went across the street to check out Good Samaritan Thrift Shop early. Lauren bought shirts for her parents; I said "hello" to one of the Oaklyn Library librarians, who volunteers there. Primo's was so overwhelmed with kids and their parents, we opted for a Peach-Raspberry Mello Yello and Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie at the WaWa on the corner of Cuthbert and Haddon Avenue instead.

When we got home after the long walk back, we went right into a couple of rounds of Roll With It! while listening to my new George Shearing albums and CDs. It's a pretty simple game. You roll six dice and see if any match the dice on three cards placed in front of you. Blue cards have two dice and are worth two points. Yellow have three dice and are worth five points, green have four and are worth ten, and purple have six dice and are worth 15 points. It takes a while to get all six! Lauren won one round, and I won two. We played again later in the night, and this time, I won one round, and Lauren won two, making us even.

Lauren played her Nintendo Switch while I made us Four Fruit Oatmeal Bars for dessert. I wasn't up for major cooking, and I'd forgotten to take the hot dogs out I was going to make for dinner. We settled for tuna salad on spinach. (All of which came out very well, though I think I put too much jam in the cookies.)

Finished the night with Angry Birds Star Wars. We actually may have done better on the later Death Star rounds than in Tatoonie, getting several two-stars and even a few three-star rounds, and beating my high score several times.

Tomorrow, we're taking it a lot easier after our long walk today. Lauren needs to get laundry done, and we'll likely get pizza and water ice around the corner.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Streets of Philadelphia

It was even lovelier when I opened my eyes this morning around 8:30, sunny and breezy. I once again read Star Wars in bed, then peeked online until Lauren was ready to go. Just grabbed a banana and a granola bar on the way out this time.

The walk to Collingswood was really beautiful. We stopped by the bridge going over Newton Lake while Lauren texted her dad about something and I blew my nose. The sun sparkled off the green lake as Canadian geese lazily swam back and forth along the ripples.

I didn't have a big breakfast because our first stop of the day was The Pop Shop in Collingswood for lunch. It was past 11:30 by the time we got there, and they were just starting to fill up with their usual college students and families with young children. Lauren had a "Green River" soda fountain soda (sprite with lime syrup) and a big plate of mozzarella sticks; I had "Cherries and Cream" (cherry and vanilla syrups in Coke - tasted like an ordinary Cherry Coke), a chicken cheese steak, and Pop Fries (with the skins on). I ate the tasty cheese steak, but couldn't close to finish the fries.

Went straight to the Collingswood PATCO train station after lunch. We learned our lesson last year. The King of Prussia Mall is too far for a bus ride, is too big for a day trip stroll, and has far too complex of a layout for tourists to figure out. Not to mention, they have little that can't be found in other malls in the South Jersey area. Lauren has a great sense of direction, and she couldn't figure it out. We dodged people enjoying lunch on the sidewalk at the many cafes, making our way to the historic Wanamaker Macy's on Market Street in Philly.

When we arrived, I took an escalator that worked and climbed up one that didn't to the third floor. I needed bras rather badly. One of my underwire bras broke; another has a hole, and the wire keeps poking out. Neither is what you'd call comfortable. There were a lot of good sales on underthings at Macy's today. I got two bras, one a pinkish-mauve lace, one stretchy white, for 28 dollars. Lauren thought the sale sounded so good, she went upstairs later and got a few, too.

As is a time-honored tradition in downtown Philadelphia, we met at the big bronze Eagle statue in the center court at Macy's, between the shoes and the accessories. We considered getting drinks at Starbucks, but decided anything in South Jersey would probably be cheaper. We headed out, dodged early rush-hour traffic to the PATCO station at 13th and Locust, and took a half-full bus back to Collingswood.

We headed to Phillies Yummies when we got back into Oaklyn. While it was a lovely and sunny day, it was also hot, in the mid-80's, and I was thirsty. Lauren bought a strawberry lemonade water ice. I went with orange cream. It was smooth and creamy...and more to the point, cold and wet. It tasted sooo good going down!

Tried playing video games when we got in, but Lego Clone Wars didn't go well. "The Hidden Enemy" took so long loading, we reset the system. We couldn't figure out "Shadow of Malevolence," and "Battle of Geonosis" was one of the war rounds that was so chaotic, I was the only one who knew to use one of their own vehicles to blow up the generators.

Gave up after "Geonosis" and decided we were hungry enough for dinner. Ran two episodes of She-Ra while I chopped fresh spinach and scallions and pan-fried bacon until crispy. "The Sea Hawk" is a pirate who'll work for anyone, even the Horde. Adora and his first mate convince him that doing the right thing is more important than his wallet, or even his freedom. "The Red Knight" is a masked warrior who can seemingly do anything, even defeat Bow in a foot race. Humiliated, Bow is ready to leave, until She-Ra and Kowl tell him that Hordak has kidnapped Queen Angelica and the Knight!

Cooked the bacon until crispy, then crumbled it over bowls of chopped spinach, scallions, and tomatoes. Added Parmesan cheese and my own home-made balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Yum! Everything complimented each other well, including the dressing, and it was a nice low-fat change after the junk-food lunch. Next time, though, I'll leave out the scallions. They tasted good, but being farm market scallions, they were very strong. I can still taste them a little, even after brushing my teeth.

We finished the night with more video games. This time, we returned to Angry Birds Star Wars. Did quite well on the first half of the Death Star rounds, even surpassing some of my original high scores. Clouds had moved in shortly after we left. It rained a little bit while we played video games, once hard, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything right now.

Tomorrow, we'll return to Collingswood, this time to check out the Saturday farm market and explore the town and the next town over, Westmont.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Come Together

I awoke to fresh air, cool wind, and a lovely, sunny day. I originally got up around quarter of 8, but I went back to sleep for another hour. Read the original novelization of New Hope for a while, then went online as Lauren got up and about. Ate banana-blueberry muffins for breakfast as she got dressed.

We finally headed out around 11. It was a glorious morning for a walk. The sun was out, the wind was blowing, and it was much warmer than it has been, in the mid-70's. Our first stop was The House of Fun, the collectible toy shop on the White Horse Pike. We pretty much have to go there today and tomorrow. They're going to be closed for their own vacation from Saturday through May 31st. We spent an hour going through the piles of toys, DVDs, Blu-Ray, old video and board games, stuffed animals, records, comics, and books on pop culture. The arcade games they have in the back room were even turned on. We both eventually ended up with Funko Pops. Lauren picked up wrestler Ronda Rousey; I got the elder Luke Skywalker in his lighter Force Awakens robes.

There's a comic book store, Comicrypt, right next door to The House of Fun. Lauren browsed through the stacks, but didn't get anything. I settled for petting the black and white kitties who wandered around the counters.

Strolled down the White Horse Pike and over the train bridge into Audubon to check out the used CD store Abbey Road. Bob, the gregarious owner, was dealing with a customer when we came in. We had plenty of time to check out his stock. Lauren chose two CDs for her father and two for herself, one a Micky Dolenz set she said she'd been looking for. Along with The Glenn Miller Story on DVD, I bought:

Areatha Franklin - Greatest Hits

Fred Astaire - Steppin' Out: Astaire at MGM

Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation

The Lion King Original Broadway Cast Album

By that point, it was past 1:30. Lauren only had a granola bar for breakfast, and I was hungry, too. We headed down Nicholson Road and past Wal-Mart to Sonic. The clouds were in and out, and the wind had picked up, but the weather was still nice enough to eat outside. She had a Bacon Double Cheeseburger, tater tots, and a cranberry limeade. I had a regular cheeseburger, tater tots, and a frozen cherry limeade. We enjoyed our meals while listening to a family with two funny kids finish their own meal.

I had to show Lauren the new Goodwill that just opened last October. She bought clothes for her parents. I found a mint-in-the-wrapping copy of All Dogs Go to Heaven and All Dogs Got to Heaven 2, along with a CD copy of the Mary Martin studio recording of the 30's Gershwin musical Girl Crazy.

Five Below is next door. We stuck to junk food here. They have aisles of every kind of candy you can imagine, including some that's hard to find elsewhere. I went with Reeces Dark Peanut Butter Cups (which the Acme no longer sells), a Zagnut candy bar (haven't seen those since I went to the Vermont Country Store with Lauren last fall), and Junior Mints, along with batteries. Lauren bought Hershey's bars and a box of mini Nestle Crunch.

We were in and out of Marshalls' and Ross. Neither of us bought any clothes, but Lauren found more junk food on clearance. We each bought a box of coconut patties and a bag of Jelly Bellys. (Her bag is fruit-flavored. I have a "Spring Mix.")

It was almost 4 PM when we headed out of Ross'. It was time to do our grocery shopping. Lauren and her parents love Hint infused water, and it's on sale for a dollar this week. She bought three, and I got one for me too on the way home. Bought Monterrey Jack cheese and tortilla chips for dinner tonight and berry preserves for a bar cookie I'm hoping to try. Restocked milk, shampoo, yogurt, bananas, and an onion.

(And no wonder I was able to get over a week off. The Acme was dead when we arrived, and at rush hour, too. We got into a line with no trouble.)

When we got home, we put everything away, then ran Goofy cartoons as I made Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip for dinner. Came out really well, too. After dinner, we ate candy and played video games. We tried Lego Star Wars, but couldn't get through the Pod Race, and it gave Lauren motion sickness. Had more luck with Lego Clone Wars once we got past the chaotic Geonosis Arena round. "Battle of the Droids" was fun, and is a good round for two players, as it encourages cooperation between clone soldiers and the Jedi (Ahsoka and Anakin, in this case).

Tomorrow, we're going to take a train in Philly to check out their historic three-story Macy's downtown.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wishin' and Hopin'

I was never so happy to see sunshine streaming through my windows when I awoke this morning. In honor of the start of my vacation, I read a few stories about vacations. In the last two chapters of Samantha Saves the Day, Samantha and the twins Agnes and Agatha have taken a canoe to Teardrop Island to see the beautiful places Samantha's late mother drew in her sketchbook. Their trip turns treacherous when a storm strands them on the island. The Admiral, a friend of Sam's family, comes after them and gets hurt. It's up to the girls to row their boat through sharp rocks to safety.

Kit Kitteredge has an even scarier adventure in Kit Saves the Day. After visiting a hobo jungle, she, her friend Sterling, and real hobo Will join another hobo riding the rails. They're caught at the first station and end up in jail. Only Kit can escape and go get help...but to do so, she has to walk over the train bridge and avoid a moving train!

Also did a few short stories from the Disney Storybookland anthology. "Donald Duck, Explorer" wants to see the South Pole and catch a penguin. He loses interest pretty fast when the penguins end up catching him! "Pluto Pup Goes to Sea" on a yacht after he hears about a dog who was pampered on a cruise liner. He becomes a hero when he inadvertently stops Peg Leg Pete from stealing jewels in the Captain's cabin.

Did The Backyardigans while eating a quick breakfast. Pablo is "Le Master of Disguise," a quick little fellow who can disguise himself as anything...but he can't disguise his unique laugh. Inspector Austin follows him onto the Orient Express. With suspects like Conductor Uniqua, Cowboy Tyrone, and Circus Performer Tasha on board, it won't be easy to find the little blue penguin!

First thing on the list today was getting the laundry done. Thankfully, while they were a little busier than last week, they still weren't that busy. I still didn't have a huge load, anyway. I worked on story notes and half-listened to the Today show and NBC news.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had a quick smoothie lunch while watching the last episode of Smallville on the disc. Clark is a "Witness" to three young men with incredible strength stealing refined Kryptonite from a LuthorCorp van. One of them is the school's biggest baseball star, Eric Marsh (Zachary Ty Brian). The boys are sniffing liquid kryptonite to give them strength to rival Clark's. He's not sure how to deal with this, until Mr. Kent reminds him that, while the young men are strong, they don't have any of his other powers. Meanwhile, Lionel offers a despondent Chloe a job after someone destroys the Torch offices.

After lunch, did some quick cleaning before Lauren arrives. I swept the porch before I ate, then washed the windows and dusted around anything that showed after lunch. Ran the vintage 80's special Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City while I finished. Strawberry is off to the title city to take part in the Big Bake Off. The Peculiar Purple Pie Man is the other contestant, and he'll do anything he can to make sure that Strawberry's shortcake doesn't make it on the air. Good thing she has a lot of new friends helping her out, including eventual series regulars Orange Blossom and Lemon Meringue.

Headed out again after I finished the cleaning. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. Given how nice it was outside, they were totally dead. It was just the librarian, one other woman on the computer, and me. Not to mention, they were close to closing for the afternoon. I went over the DVDs and moved on.

Went straight to the Haddon Township Library next. They weren't much busier. The children's DVDs were overflowing on the return rack...and no wonder. Half of them didn't fit on the shelves. I put away what I could get in, then did the far fewer adult titles. Left the remaining DVDs and audio books to the teen volunteers and headed out after an hour.

Took the long way across Newton Lake Park going back to Oaklyn. It was a gorgeous day for a ride. The sun was out, the breeze was fresh, and it was far warmer, probably into the lower 70's. I wasn't the only one taking advantage of Mother Nature's generosity. I dodged many dog-walkers, families playing at the playground, joggers, fisher folk, and even a pair of Canadian geese leading their adorable trio of goslings to the grass for a snack. I had to go slow through several very deep puddles that were nearly mini-lakes themselves.

Stopped at Dollar General really quick next. Lauren likes Pepsi; their six-pack of bottles is relatively cheap. I picked it up, got in, got out. The line wasn't even long.

Worked on writing for a while after I got home. Vader takes out the veteran leader of Luke's squadron, then Biggs. Shara drops behind to cover them, and Wedge has to land due to a busted fuel line. It's up to Luke to take down the Death Ray...but he might have some unexpected help...

It was the moment of truth. I checked the NJ jury website at 5 PM...and thankfully, I wasn't called. They only wanted 279 and over. I was 47. I'd been on pins and needles all day over possibly being stuck with jury duty tomorrow.

Vacuumed and wiped down the refrigerator quickly while watching One Crazy Summer. Hoops McCann (John Cusack) joins his buddy George (Joel Murray) to spend the summer on Nantucket Island with his grandmother (Billie Bird) and little sister. On the way there, they encounter Cassandra (Demi Moore), a singer who is trying to save her grandfather's boarding house from a nasty developer (Mark Metcalf) and his spoiled son (Matt Mulhern). Hoops his hoping to learn about love in order to illustrate a comic and win an art scholarship....and he gets more than he bargained for when he and his friends the twins Egg (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Clay (Tom Villard) and Ack Ack (Curtis Armstrong) promote her act, then join the local regatta to win the top prize.

Strange but fun "slobs vs snobs" comedy benefits from the fun cast and director Savage Steve Holland's wacky sense of humor. Worth checking out if you're a fan of this or other similar comedies from the time.

Jodie picked me up around 7:25. We got in just in time. Lauren's train was slightly early. She reported that she'd had no problems whatsoever anywhere. We ran into no traffic going home and got in by 8.

After I showed Lauren how the new windows and porch light worked, we spent the next couple of hours playing Angry Birds Star Wars. Turns out you can't start a second game, so we just continued mine to see how well we could do together.

Tomorrow, we're going to sleep in, then go for a nice walk around Oaklyn and Audubon, enjoying all the little shops and big box stores in the area.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Almost Vacation

I once again awoke to rain, but it was long gone by the time I was eating breakfast and watching Smallville. The key that Mrs. Kent hid turns out to be a kind of Kryptonian "Rosetta" stone. Clark pushes it into the walls at the caves, and after being knocked out so hard he's found in the middle of the road, reveals that he can speak the language. The archaeologist Lex hired also finds the key, but the light knocks him into a coma. Clark goes to New York after getting an e-mail from Dr. Virgil Swann (Christopher Reeve), who is an expert on Krypton and its languages and tells Clark more about his heritage.

Went into "Visitor" while cleaning up from breakfast and getting ready for work. Sirus, the new boy in school, has fire and healing powers and claims to be an alien. Clark thinks he's found a fellow Kryptonian, especially after he rescues him from bullies, but Chloe and Pete discover that he has more Earthy origins.

Headed to work shortly after I finished. Thankfully, it never rained again after early this morning. It was gloomy, cloudy, and windy, but not quite as cold as it has been. I spent the first forty minutes and the last 40 minutes doing carts and the outside trash and recycling, but I mainly did returns. I also ended up covering a couple of cashiers in the registers for their breaks and shelved candy.

Went straight home after work. It may not have been raining, but it wasn't exactly a day to linger, either. Did one more Smallville episode while eating leftovers for dinner. Clark's on a "Precipice" when he attacks college boys who assaulted Lana and, after seeming to hurt one, is sued for damages. Meanwhile, Lex helps Lana learn how to defend herself against another attack and his own girlfriend Helen get rid of an obsessive ex-boyfriend. But the college boy isn't as hurt as he looks...and the girls are willing to help Clark expose his ruse.

I texted Rose during break about picking up Lauren tomorrow. I should have called earlier; she's going to Atlantic City tomorrow. Jodie said she or Dana would pick up Lauren, but we have to either consider using Uber, or Lauren has to come in the afternoon and lose her long layovers.

Speaking of Lauren, I spent the rest of the night after a shower chatting with her and watching Love Me or Leave Me. I go more into this dark musical biography featuring Doris Day and James Cagney at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Love Me or Leave Me

(And I'll add that this is my last review for almost a week and a half. My vacation starts tomorrow; Lauren will be here by tomorrow night. I'll resume my reviews on Thursday, May 23rd, but I'll be continuing to write daily in this blog.)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Secret Loves and Super Secrets

It was pouring and ridiculously cold for this time of year when I finally rolled out of bed this morning. I had breakfast and turned up the heat with episodes of Smallville. Half of Smallville is a "Suspect" when someone shoots Lionel in his home. Johnathan is arrested, but Clark and Pete discover that the bartender where he was drinking before he was found may be lying about what he drank, and Lex and an employee of Lionel's argued with him shortly before he was shot.

Messed around online and did some writing for a little while, then had a Chocolate-Coffee-Banana Smoothie for lunch and made a Strawberry Cream Pound Cake from the Duncan Hines Bake Shop cookbook. Ran more Smallville while I worked on it. Pete and Chloe get a "Rush" from parasites who burrow into their necks when they join Clark at the Native American caves. Pete uses a bit of Red Kryptonite to get Clark to join their reckless behavior. Thankfully, Clark loses the rock in time to stop them, but not before Lana catches him in bed with Chloe.

Cleaned up while "Prodigal" ran. Lex has found Lucas (Paul Wasilewski), his long-lost half-brother, and brought him home to his father. Lionel and Lucas promptly force Lex out of his home and LuthorCorp, forcing him to live with the Kents. Meanwhile, Clark discovers that Lucas has more than one nasty person after him...and that this may have all been a set-up to prompt a hostile takeover of the family company by one or more Luthors.

(And darn. I didn't wait long enough and should have floured the cake pan. The upper part stuck to the pan and broke. I made a glaze, but it didn't really cover anything.)

I was originally planning on going to the Haddon Township Library today, but while the rain wasn't as heavy around 1:30, it was still bitterly cold and windy for May. I had enough of the rain and cold yesterday at work, and I'll have to deal with it tomorrow. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing. (And I made the right decision. It's rained off and on, sometimes heavily, for the rest of the day.)

The Death Ray destroys the helicopter Mara Jadeson was riding to get footage of the battle. She falls out, prompting Luke to catch her. She's smitten with and curious about this new hero. Luke tells her he's The Jedi Knight, and refutes her claims that the Rebel League is behind the Death Ray. He leaves her on the Channel 11 building and rejoins the rest of the Jet Pack squad, taking them to help their leader against Vader.

Broke for dinner at quarter after 6. Had the last of the leftover fish and another home-made pasta salad while watching the last episode on the Smallville disc. Mrs. Kent comes down with a "Fever" when she's exposed to Kryptonite dust while burying the key to the spaceship. Mr. Kent is even more horrified when Dr. Bryce reveals that Mrs. Kent is pregnant, and then Clark gets sick from the dust as well and Bryce wants to take a sample of his blood.

Moved on to Lego Star Wars after I ate. Continued with Free Play. Figured I'd complete the "Darth Vader" boss round, since I was three-fourths of the way there anyway. Just needed two more pieces and the red brick. Got a little more than half the pieces on "Death Star Attack," but still can't find the red brick. Found all but two pieces and the red brick on the first round of New Hope, "Secret Plans."

Finished the night with Calamity Jane. This is the first of two musicals I plan to review before Lauren visits this week in honor of Doris Day, who passed away today at 97. You can find out more about this rip-roaring western tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Calamity Jane

(And yes, Musical Dreams will be on hiatus from the 15th through the 22nd while Lauren visits, though I will continue writing in this blog.)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Here Comes That Rainy Day

It was gloomy and raining (again) when I rolled out of bed this morning. Put on my Roberta LP as I made Buttermilk Whole Wheat Pancakes for breakfast. This recording from the early 50's has more of the original score than either film version. Jack Cassidy joins Broadway singer Joan Roberts for my favorite number from this show, the charming "Let's Begin;" he also gets "I Won't Dance" with Kaye Ballard.

Headed off to work shortly after the album ended. I just barely made it on time...and wet. It wasn't raining around 10, but it started up again right before I left. I arrived at work quite wet. Good thing it wasn't busy when I arrived. I finally had the chance to finish shelving the last of the candy. I also cleaned the bathrooms and gathered baskets. It started getting busier around 2...which, of course, is when the other bagger went home. I had no help for the next two hours and had to try to sweep and do the carts at the same time. They eventually sent some of the cashiers out to help with the carts. I spent the last hour and a half outside, including when the night bagger arrived.

Went straight home after work. Thankfully, by that point, it was mildly misting, allowing me to get home only a little bit damp. I had a quick leftovers dinner while listening to one of my Have a Nice Day 70's CDs before doing some writing. Luke is delighted to discover he can fly under his own power. His delight diminishes somewhat when  he runs into Mara Jadeson in a helicopter just outside the Channel 11 offices. She wants the official scoop on the battle between the Rebels and the Empire, but Luke wishes she'd just get out of harm's way.

Played some Lego Star Wars after I finished writing. Did Free Play on "The Droid Factory," "Jedi Battle," and "Count Dooku." Got all the pieces on "Droid Factory" but couldn't find the red brick; found the red brick on "Dooku," but missed two pieces. "Jedi Battle" is a short boss round that's not hard to figure out; it was the only one I managed to get the pieces and the brick on.

Finished the night with the 1959 original cast recording of Gypsy with Ethel Merman. Rose is the ultimate stage mother, pushing and shoving her children into vaudeville whether they like it or not. She picked a bad time to do it. It's the early 30's, and vaudeville is dying, a victim of radio, talking movies, and the Depression. Her daughters did eventually become stage actress June Havoc and striptease artist and mystery novelist Gypsy Rose Lee, largely without their mother's help.

One of the most beloved of all musicals (with one of the juiciest female roles) has been revived many times since 1959, with two Broadway revivals debuting in the 2000's alone. Whether you go with Merman or Tyne Daly or Angela Landsbury or Bernadette Peters or Patti LuPone, this show is a must-have in your collection.

And I hope you all had a wonderful (and much drier) Mother's Day! I did text my mother during break; she texted back to thank me after dinner. (I'm guessing she probably had work.)