Thursday, October 31, 2019

Windy Halloween

I awoke to a morning that definitely felt like Halloween - cloudy, rainy, and killer humid. Kicked off Halloween with a couple of spooky stories and poems from the Harvest of Holidays anthology. "The Blue-Nosed Witch" is a scatterbrained young witch who is constantly late for her coven's flight. Hoping to change things for a big Halloween formation, she sets her clock back too far and ends up delighting trick-or-treaters with her bright blue nose. Another modern witch makes "The Water Nixie" appear, but she and her friends are disappointed. They were hoping for fairies.

Molly McEntyre is having her own Halloween problems in the last two chapters of her introductory book Meet Molly. World War II means many treats and fabric for fancy costumes are rationed...but it also means Molly and her best friends Susan and Linda can improvise hula dancer outfits from crepe paper. Molly's brother Ricky plays a mean trick and ruins their costumes and treats, and they decided to get revenge...but it doesn't taste so sweet when their mom catches them.

Ran the first Halloween special of the day while eating breakfast. The only new cartoon created for the early 60's Woody Woodpecker Show was Halloween-themed. After spending most of the episode blowing up balloons for his boss Walter Lanz, all Woody wants to do is join the party with other Lanz stars like Chilly Willy and Wally Walrus. They play tricks on him and won't let him in. He joins a ghostly Beatles-spoof band to get by them, but he can't walk through the walls like they can.

Moved onto Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special while making Cranberry Flummery and cleaning up afterwards. Bugs outsmarts Witch Hazel in this collection of bits and pieces of horror-themed shorts, while Porky deals with a fraidy-cat Sylvester and Daffy wonders why Witch Hazel sounds like Speedy Gonzoles.

Did a little writing after I finished. As the trees continue to throw back the others, Charles comes up with the idea of playing music to calm them. Richard tries to hold them off, only to be caught in their branches.

Headed out around 1. It remained cloudy, crazy-windy, and humid, but the rain was long-gone. It sure looks like Halloween in the neighborhood now. The leaves have finally started turning colors, in muted shades of gold, orange-red, and rust. Gardens overflow with marigolds, late roses, and mums. Quite a few family had seasonal ghost or monster inflatables, or at least pumpkin banners and orange lights on their porches. It felt very festive as I made my way to the Oaklyn Library.

Needless to say, on a holiday with lousy weather, they were dead quiet (pardon the pun) when I got in. The only person I saw was the librarian. I looked over DVDs and peeked at some of their Halloween picture books, but there wasn't much going on there. I was out in twenty minutes.

As I strolled down West Clinton, I noticed a crowd on the streets in front of the school. As I dashed over, I could see that it was the Oaklyn (Elementary) School's Halloween Parade. Teachers lead their charges down the sidewalk in front of the school, to the delight of many of their relatives and passer-by. It brought back fond memories of walking in similar parades when I went to Cape May Elementary in the mid-late 1980's.

After the kids were herded back into the school building, I turned around and went two blocks to Common Grounds Coffee House for lunch. I didn't know what I'd be having at Dad and Jodie's later and wanted something simple. There were a couple of people sitting at tables with their laptops, likely college students doing work before Halloween parties. I settled down with a spicy-sweet iced tea and tasty slice of bacon and corn quiche and enjoyed the quiet.

When I got in, I pulled out my bag of costume knick-nacks and started putting together my Little Red Riding Hood outfit. I have a red cape I picked up at a yard sale (I'm pretty sure it's actually a red wrap skirt intended for dancers, but it works as a cape), a vintage red and blue floral apron I found at Frugli Consignment, and a red ponytail holder with taffeta streamers and a small rose in the center. Pulled out the smaller flower-trimmed basket I use at Easter, lined it with fabric, and added my Beanie Baby wolf Howl along with a few other things I'd need for the night. Makeup was limited to a little light eye shadow, lots of blusher, and lip gloss.

Put on a couple of spooky Peanuts specials while I got ready. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has Linus waiting up in that sincere pumpkin patch for the big orange gift-giver he hopes will bring them treats. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown is having trouble trick-or-treating, and Snoopy spends his Halloween fighting the Red Baron.

Having read a book on magic he took out of the library, Snoopy calls himself "The Great Houndini" and puts on a show in It's Magic, Charlie Brown. His tricks end with Charlie Brown being turned invisible...and Snoopy can't figure out how to turn him back. Chuck's upset about this at first, but then he realizes Lucy can't pull the football away if she can't see him...

Walked out to Dad and Jodie's around 3. Trick or treating was just barely starting when I arrived. Considering the weather - it even rained briefly during the three hours the kids were out - we had a pretty good group of trick-or-treaters. As one boy dressed as a skeleton said, he didn't mind the rain. It was perfect Halloween weather. Khai's buddy Chloe was Hermoine from the Harry Potter series (though she had a Ravenclaw tie instead of a Gryffendor one - she said she couldn't find Gryffendor), and her mom was a hippie. Ryan next-door was Marty McFly from Back to the Future, and his little sister Savannah was a lovely little devil in a fancy red dress. Their dad was a blue dragon (and was sweating in the costume). Finley was a cute pirate, and her best friend was Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. I'm not sure what Khai was, other than "looking cool in a sleek black suit decorated with glow sticks," and he didn't seem to be too sure, either. Even Jessa came around with Midnight dressed as a bat with wings, and Dana and Jesse's dog Nala was Winnie the Pooh.

Jessa drove me home after a quick dinner of Italian hoagies outside and chatting with Dad and Jodie. She dropped me off at my apartment, where I grabbed a sweater, put away the Indiana Jones book I was reading between trick-or-treaters, and used the bathroom. Had time for one quick short. Mickey Mouse has to save Pluto from "The Mad Doctor," who intends to turn him into a mutant pup, but he may end up falling into the doctor's clutches as well.

I ended up leaving a bit early for Oaklyn's Halloween Parade. Good thing, too. I got a little lost and somehow ended up on what I suspect was Ridgeway, the next street over from the school. It was kind of spooky back there, with the cloudy night and the wind rattling against the houses and making eerie noises.

Everyone was just starting to gather for the parade when I finally arrived in front of the school. Considering the weather, I think there was a pretty decent turn-out, including Ryan, Savannah, and their dad. I loved the adorable Little Orphan Annie in her red and white dress! There were two Harley Quinns (one probably about 5, another around 8), Pennywise from It, the Joker, Colonel Sanders with a KFC bucket, an Optimus Prime with a cardboard costume that actually transformed, a girl ghost, the Riddler, the Joker, a Pikachu and a Charmander, two unicorns (one older in a huge fluffy tutu, one in a furrier costume), a fairy, a slice of pizza, a Killer Tomato, a giant inflatable tyrannosaurus, a mini Mr. Peanut in a full foam body costume, the cutest toddler witch, a mom ghoul, a fortune teller, at least three black cats, a vampire, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Batman, Elsa, a pre-teen pop princess, and an absolutely hilarious little boy dressed as Calvin and Hobbes (complete with him toting a Hobbes-like stuffed tiger).

This is the second year in a row that the parade managed to start on time. I joined Ryan, Savannah, and their dad as we walked in a ragged group down West Clinton, behind the fire trucks. I was surprised at the turn-out. Large crowds waved to us from Tonewood Brewery and Phillies Phatties on West Clinton Avenue. It was a lot of fun, despite the heavy winds that blew us along.

The judging started as soon as everyone made it into the fire house on the end of West Clinton. Ryan won I believe second place in his division. I got third. The mom ghoul deservedly won (her makeup was awesome), with the fortune teller coming in second. The five dollars will buy a decent lunch this weekend. Grabbed some candy with the crowd on the way out.

Put on Garfield's Halloween Adventure as I washed off the makeup and put the costume pieces, money, and candy away. Finley's not the only one who opted to trick-or-treat as a buccaneer this evening. Garfield and Odie are hoping their pirate costumes will land them some candy booty. Garfield tries to take a rowboat across the river for more candy, but he and Odie end up stranded on a deserted island with ghost pirates coming after their treasure!

Went into The Rocky Horror Picture Show after I got organized. You don't need to dress as your favorite character to enjoy this truly weird piece of cult cinema...but it sure helps enhance the experience, as I discuss in more detail at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) 

Finished the night with another Halloween game show episode on YouTube. I have fond memories of the late 80's-early 90's Family Feud with Ray Combs, which I always watched back-to-back with The Price Is Right, but I had no idea there was a syndicated version as well. Evidently, they did do a Halloween episode, with both families in costume...and if you didn't know it was filmed in 1989, it would become obvious the moment you saw Combs dressed as one of the world's least-likely versions of the Tim Burton Batman, with his son as Robin.

Family Feud - Halloween 1989

Oh, and it did finally rain heavily...around 10:30-11, when I was watching Password Plus on Buzzr and chatting with Lauren. We're so lucky it held off here. Lauren said it poured all day in Pittsfield, and all their Halloween activities had to be postponed until the weekend.

At any rate, I'm hoping you had a wonderful Halloween of your own, with all your own little princesses, ghouls, and Batmen!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Long Day's Journey Into Work

Began another cloudy, misty day with breakfast and Halloween Is Grinch Night. The Whos down in Whoville know that when a sour-sweet wild rolls down Mount Crumpet, that will rile the local animal population enough to drive the Grinch into town with his "paraphernalia wagon" filled with wild scares. After little Euekeriah Who gets lost in the mountains and finds the Grinch and his cart, he becomes determined to keep the green menace out of Whoville.

Headed out for my long eight-and-a-half-hour work day. It was just as boring as the last few days. I'm so glad there were three boxes of gift cards that needed to be sorted through. People were using carts to do inventory in the morning, and by the time there were more to gather, another bagger had arrived. I alternated between the gift cards, sweeping, and rounding up the carts for most of the evening, though I did do trash and recycling inside and out as well. It was misting when I went to work, and continued to mist or very lightly shower in some form on and off through late afternoon.

The most that happened all day occurred in the last ten minutes before I finished. I ran into Rose, Finley, and Khai while I was doing carts. They made a brief trip to buy juice boxes for Khai's class Halloween party tomorrow. I told them I'd see them at trick-or-treat tomorrow (provided it's not washed out).

As soon as I got home, I changed and had dinner. Switched to video to run Boo to You, Winnie the Pooh while I ate. Pooh and his friends at the Hundred Acre Woods are all ready to celebrate the spookiest Halloween ever...except for Piglet, who is as afraid of the holiday as he is everything else. Pooh says they simply won't celebrate Halloween, but Tigger and Gopher cry foul. They set out to prove to their porcine pal that Halloween is nothing to be afraid of, and end up having to save each other from what seems to be a "spookable!"

Worked on a little bit of writing after dinner. The trees surrounding Gene have no desire to let the others through to him. They throw them aside, yank them to the ground, and bind them with their roots. Brett struggles over to help...but Charles may be the only one who can soothe these savage plants...

Took a shower, then watched Ghostbusters. Peter (Bill Murray), Egon (Harold Ramis), and Ray (Dan Ackroyd) are scientists specializing in the paranormal at Columbia University. The school doesn't appreciate their lax and weird theories and tosses them out, prompting them to go into business for themselves as professional ghost hunters. They have a rough time finding work at first, until Dana  (Signourney Weaver) calls them for help. Seems she saw a monster dog in her refrigerator. Peter's smitten with the lovely cellist, but even he realizes that something's not quite right here. Suddenly, the guys go from being broke to getting so much work, they hire on Winston (Ernie Hudson) as their fourth member. Their "containment unit" is now full to bursting with restless ghosts, and is attracting unwanted attention from an unpleasant Environmental Protection Agency executive (William Atherton). The Ghostbusters are blamed when exec shuts down the containment unit and blows it sky-high, but they're the only ones who can save the city when the spirit of a Sumerian god possesses Dana and her nerdy neighbor Louis (Rick Moranis) and take over their building.

The sequel's not bad and I think the remake got a bum deal, but this is still the first Ghostbusters you'll want to check out, and probably the only one most people will need. A fast and funny script, still-amazing special effects (including the infamous giant Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man), and great performances all around make this one of the must-see horror comedies and one of the great comedies of the 1980's.

Finished the night with something I've been saving for on or near Halloween. While the 1970's Match Game never did much for the holiday besides the occasional Dracula question, the short-lived 1990 revival had a full-blown Halloween episode, complete with decorations, Charles Nelson Reilly dressed as Superman (with inflatable muscles!), Brett Somers costumed as a little girl, and a ventriloquist with a wise-cracking dragon puppet. I found at least two copies on YouTube - here's the one I thought was in better shape:

Match Game '90 Salutes Halloween

And here's even more vintage Halloween fun to tide you over until trick-or-treat. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your favorite sparring partner!

Disney Silly Symphonies: The Skeleton Dance
Buttons and Rusty in Which Witch Is Which?
Witch's Night Out
The Last Halloween
The Wickedest Witch
Disney's Haunted Halloween (Educational Short)
The Halloween That Almost Wasn't
Betty Boop: Betty Boop's Hallowe'en Party
Ub Iwerks at Columbia: Skeleton Frolic

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Monster Candy

Began a shower-filled morning after breakfast by trying something a little different for Halloween. Instead of making cookies this time, I mixed simple uncooked fondant with orange coloring, melted chocolate chips, and made candy. Or tried to. The fondant was really too soft to coat. I either should have put in more powdered sugar, or chilled it before handling. At any rate, I did get everything covered. They just looked messy.

Watched The Monster Squad while I worked. Four misfit boys (and one "cool" older kid) are huge fans of monster movies who study everything about them. They get the chance to put their knowledge to the test when the mother of Sean (Andre Gower) gives him a diary written by none other than Dr. Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim) himself. They corral a kind old German man to translate it. He reveals that there's an amulet that can thrust monsters into Limbo on midnight during the day when good and evil is balanced. Needless to say, filmdom's most famous creatures, including a very scary Dracula (Duncan Regehr), are determined to get their own  hands on the amulet and make sure that the balance tips towards nastiness.

Very 80's kid adventure movie is surprisingly spooky for the time. There's genuinely scary monsters and some frightening images, including Dracula blowing up the kids' tree house and attacking Sean's little sister Phoebe (Ashley Bank). Regehr is one of the best Draculas on film, playing the character for true menace rather than broad caricature. It was a little much for audiences in 1987, but it did better on video and has since become a cult favorite. If you have fond memories of it yourself, or kids the age of the pre-teen Monster Squad members who love horror, you'll want to join the Squad and check it out.

Finished the candy just in time to rush out the work. was exactly the same as yesterday, dead as can be. I did return a few items and rounded up what little trash there was, but I mostly alternated between sweeping and gathering the carts. No problems whatsoever.

Went straight into writing when I got home. The fairies - Joyce (Bullifant), Debralee (Scott), and Jo Ann (Pflug) - lead them through the now-leafless and creepy woods to a twisted tree that manages to look human. Joyce, the head of the fairies, tells them that this is where Gene is imprisoned. Brett feels the black magic so badly, she's doubled over, which means the boys are on their own in figuring out how to free the wizard...

Switched to a Halloween special during dinner. I dubbed Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile off a home-made video I found at a yard sale a few years ago. Ann, Andy, and their puppy Arthur want to bring a glum pumpkin to an equally unhappy little boy whose stern aunt won't let him go trick-or-treating. They first have to figure out how to get the pumpkin to the kid, then remind the aunt that she was once young, too.

Finished the night with a far more horrifying tale, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I go into further details on this melodramatic Tim Burton slasher musical at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Hayrides and Match Games

Kicked off the day with breakfast and an episode of Perfect Strangers. "Aliens" from the fifth season sees Larry and Balki holding a Halloween party to watch a horror movie marathon. Larry's the only one who watches it straight through. He ends up having a nightmare the next day that makes Balki into an alien who wants to take over the Earth!

Spent the rest of the morning working on that game show essay. These last few months have been so odd. I've fallen in love with a lot of things most people would find strange over the years, from Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy operettas to the Bowery Boys, but until this summer, I didn't know I needed a lecherous host asking goofy questions to a panel of five drunk celebrities (and one filled with coffee - Richard claimed he didn't drink) who have to match contestants' weird answers.

My favorite panelist is rapidly becoming Charles Nelson Reilly. Sweet, hilarious, and adorable with Brett, he was truly the lifeblood of the show. It helps that he's one of the few people here I was relatively familiar with before I got into this. I have the original Broadway cast albums for Hello Dolly and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and have heard his vocal turns in All Dogs Go to Heaven and the late 90's animated Babes In Toyland many times. That man did everything possible and then some, including teach acting for many years.

I know Richard Dawson's name better than I know him. My stepfather loved Hogan's Heroes re-runs and the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi vehicle The Running Man, but I didn't pay much attention to either of them. I was six when his version of Family Feud went off the air; I'm more familiar with the late 80's-early 90's version with Ray Combs. (And no, I had no idea about the "kissing bandit" thing. It doesn't surprise me, considering he kisses almost as many ladies on Match Game.)

The panelist I wish I knew more about coming into this is Brett Somers. I like her almost as much as Charles. What a fabulous, funny lady! I seriously regret that they didn't record her one-woman show in the early 2000's like they did Charles' and that she didn't do more beyond the show and The Odd Couple. (Though I'm inclined to agree with her ex-hubby Jack Klugman, who grumbled "ask her the time, and she'll tell you how the clock was made!" She does get into her explanations!)

My feelings on Gene Rayburn are more mixed. On one hand, he can be charming, funny with his bad imitations, and the fact that he managed to keep the game moving as well as he did is probably nothing short of a miracle. On the other hand, his chasing anything female - including women far younger than he - can come off as more than a little creepy nowadays.

Naming favorite semi-regulars could probably take another year! My favorites among the ladies include Fannie Flagg (I really need to read more of her books), Patti Deutsch and her creative answers, sweet Joyce Bullifant, tart-tongued Marcia Wallace, and of course, Betty White. Favorite male panelists include big Nipsey Russell and his poems, poor nervous Bill Daily, charming Dick Gautier, and tough guy Scoey Mitchell.

Broke at around 11 for lunch and to get ready for work. Stayed with Perfect Strangers while I ate. "Fright Night" is from the seventh season, after Larry and Jennifer got married and they all moved into a larger house. Said house turns out to be haunted by the ghost of a baseball fan who was killed by the mob. After the ghost scares the girls off, the guys have to figure out how to get rid of him...before he finishes them off!

Work was really, really boring. It was dead almost the entire afternoon, and there was never less than three baggers around at any given time. I did sweep twice and went outside briefly, but I mostly hung gift cards, did returns, gathered trash, cleaned the bathrooms, and tried to look busy. I forgot to use the 99 cent coupon for Acme's premium pints on Friday; thought I'd try Bourbon Blond Brownie. Grabbed powdered sugar and condensed milk to make candy tomorrow.

I was surprised to see families strolling up to Veteran's Park next door as I arrived home. Had no idea the local hayride and pumpkin-round up was this evening! Quickly changed into regular clothes, put the ice cream away, and dashed down the road and through the black metal fence.

The hay cart is a tall wooden vehicle pulled by a blue tractor. This year, instead of sitting in hay, they lined the sides of the cart with hay bales to sit on. However, they neglected the center area, which was slippery with hay! The kids all laughed and fell into each other as they rushed in. Little girls giggled and chattered next to me; little boys looked all around at the leaves on the trees that are just turning colors and the squash and greens in the community garden.

A "pumpkin patch" - small pumpkins nestled in hay - was set up on the grass about midway through the ride. Each kid was allowed to choose a pumpkin of their own. I picked a nice little one that was a tad sticky, but also perfectly round and deep orange. When we got back, we stood at tables and decorated our pumpkins with markers or stickers. I opted to make a sticker face. I'm hoping to use my pumpkin beyond Halloween (if it lasts longer than my pumpkin did last year).

When I got home, I did a little bit of writing. The "lights" reveal themselves to be a trio of fairies. Bubbly head fairy Joyce controls plantlife. Feisty Debralee is in charge of weather and water. Sensible Joann makes flowers grow anywhere. They encourage Charles that he's more of a hero than he thinks and directs them to the tree that holds the Wizard Gene.

Had leftover chicken tortellini soup around 7:30. Watched a Halloween episode of Happy Days while I ate. Richie Cunningham is more than a little nervous when his buddy Ralph Malph is holding his Halloween bash in a supposedly "Haunted" house. His sister Joanie is convinced the resident ghost will chop off his head! Fonzie convinces him that there's nothing to fear but fear itself...and the party being raided by a local gang who are mad that they weren't invited.

Finished the night after a shower with Young Frankenstein. Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) has inherited his infamous mad scientist grandfather's castle and equipment. He wants nothing to do with his experiments in reanimating life...until one night, when he hits on his private library and decides that dear old Grandad wasn't so crazy after all. He and his assistants Igor (Marty Feldman) and Inga (Terri Garr) do manage to bring the biggest guy in town back to life...but Igor brought him a less-than-perfect brain. Now Fredrick has to get this monster tap-dancing, and fast, before his prim fiancee Elizabeth (Madeline Khan) and the local inspector (Kenneth Mars) figure out what's going on.

I can handle horror if it's played for laughs, like in this movie and Ghostbusters. This is a classic homage to Universal horror, with Wilder and Feldman hilarious as slightly mad scientist and his hump-switching helper. The atmospheric black-and-white cinematography (including the use of the equipment from the original 1932 Frankenstein) is a big plus, as is Cloris Leachman as mysterious housekeeper Frou Blukker (whinny).

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Eagles Stampede Over the Bills

Jodie picked me up early this morning. Apparently, she needed to go grocery shopping anyway. It was showering lightly when I walked in the Acme. It rained off and on, sometimes hard, through around 1 PM. We weren't busy this morning, but by around 10-11, it had gotten so busy, I wound up in the register twice. We were short on help, too. Not to mention, the new teen bagger would go outside, push a few carts in, and go back inside. At least she was able to take over the inside chores, leaving me to finally gather the rest of the carts in the rapidly diminishing rain.

Went over to Dad's with Jodie after I got off. Mark, Joya, Jessa, and her puppy Midnight (in a cute Eagles shirt!) were already there when I arrived. Those groceries Jodie bought earlier went into sweet-and-sour shrimp on white rice. Mark brought his taco salad - salad with ground meat in a mildly spicy picante sauce. There was French bread and butter, with sundaes for dessert. The sun came out as we were pulling into Dad and Jodie's driveway, and it remained sunny and windy (if humid and warm) for the rest of the day.

Thankfully after the last two weeks, the game was as good as the company. The Bills had been riding high with a 5-1 record...but they slammed straight into an Eagles team that was determined to make up for the botched Cowboys game last Sunday night. The Eagles were ahead when I got in, but just by a field goal. The Bills started to pull away from them by the end of the second half...but then the Eagles picked up momentum in the third quarter, and the Bills couldn't touch them. They finally steamrolled over them 31-13.

Despite my nodding off several times during the game, I decided to attempt some writing when I got in. The three lights lead them back to Cornelius the pony and the cart. They recognize Brett and Richard right away, and call Charles a true champion. Charles won't believe it. He's a fool, not a warrior. But the lights think he has the right pure and strong heart...

Broke for a quick dinner at 7. Since I had dinner for lunch, I had dessert for dinner. Made chocolate chip pancakes with butter instead of oil. Other than I slightly burned one, they didn't turn out too badly. Rich and decadent.

Finished the night with my Phantom of the Opera CD. In the late 80's-early 90's, I used to borrow Rose's cassette copy of the London cast album and listen to it every Halloween night after trick-or-treating. I have other things I watch and listen to on Halloween proper now, but I still try to fit this in every year around Halloween. The tale of the deformed musician living under the Paris Opera and the young soprano he controls is about as spooky as I get in my musicals. It's romantic melodrama at its most cheesy, but darned if it doesn't work. Several of the songs are among Andrew Lloyd Webber's best-known, including the ballads "All I Ask of You" and "The Music of the Night." Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford give iconic performances as the soprano and infamously scarred composer.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Cloudy Harvest

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and another vintage Disney Halloween special. We taped Halloween Hall of Fame shortly before Disney's Halloween Treat in 1988. Johnathan Winters starred in this Walt Disney Presents special as a security guard at Disney who discovers a jack 'o lantern (also Winters) in a crystal ball. He claims he's hiding from Halloween, which has gotten too dull for his taste. Winters directs him to "Pluto's Judgement Day," "Trick or Treat," and most of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to show how much fun the holiday can be.

Rushed out around 11 to hit the Farm Market, passing booths and tents setting up on Lakeview Avenue as I did. Despite the late hour and many tables being done for the season, the Farm Market was still bustling with people looking for produce for Halloween parties. I ended up with tiny apples, cranberries, two turnips, and a cucumber.

Strolled to Frugli Consignment after leaving the Farm Market. I was hoping to find a skirt to work with my Little Red Riding Hood costume. I don't know if it'll go with the apron, but I did find a skirt in a lovely orange, gold, and teal floral pattern.

Rode home across Newton Lake Park. Stopped at the CVS on the border of Collingswood and Oaklyn. Needed dish washing liquid; the small Palmolive was on sale. Also grabbed more ibuprofen and a sparkling water.

Next stop was the Oaklyn Library. I meant to hit there before counseling on Tuesday and just plain ran out of time. They're all decorated for Halloween now, with spooky black lace curtains and scarecrows and pumpkins in every nook and cranny. I organized the adult DVDs, looked over the kids' area, and moved on.

Went home for a quick lunch and to put everything away. Watched an episode of Buck Rogers while I ate. The normally goofy first season gets a little darker than usual in "Space Vampires." Buck and Wilma land on a space station to get their robot buddy Twiki fixed, but it's rammed by a freighter while they're there. The freighter seems to be filled with nothing but dead people. The commander thinks it's some kind of rare virus, but a video shows a woman being attacked by something called a "Vorvon." Pretty soon, the Vorvon is now attacking members of the space station...and it looks like Wilma may be his next victim!

Headed out to the laundromat around quarter of 3. I had so much of it, I needed a longer dryer session than usual. They were pretty busy; a chatty woman named Janet shook my hand and asked me where I was from. It took me a few minutes to explain I lived in Oaklyn. While they tried to figure out why another woman's washer wouldn't work (she didn't shut it the right way), I worked on story notes and half-listened to college football.

Did some writing once I got home and put my clothes in the drawer or on shelves. Three little lights join Charles and Brett's performance, then help out when the guards attack Richard and his men and they start a bar brawl. It's one of the lights who ends up leading them all out, except for Orson Bean, who insists on staying behind and covering them.

Broke for leftover hot dogs and roasted Brussels Sprouts for dinner, then made pumpkin cookies for dessert. Watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs while I ate and baked. I go further into the very first animated film in the US at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Autumn Breezes Treat

Got a quick start this morning with oatmeal and crushed pineapple for breakfast and a quick Danger Mouse short from the third season. "The Strange Case of the Ghost Bus" takes DM and Penfold to the Indian Ocean, where odd buses have been sinking ships before disappearing from sight. DM and Penfold have to figure out what's going on with these transparent menaces, before they end up on a permanent ride through the waters!

Spent what little time I had left writing. The tavern is crawling with guards asking the locals questions. Charles and Brett distract them with a song, allowing Richard and his men to get through. They're joined by three little lights that Charles thinks at first is part of the decor, but helps them out when the guards try to arrest them for performing...

Headed out to work as soon as I got off the computer. Work was quiet pretty much the entire day. While I did mop the bathrooms early in the afternoon, I spent the rest of the day alternating between sweeping inside and gathering carts outside. No problems whatsoever.

Wish I could say that about my schedule next week. I don't have off until Thursday, Halloween, and then I have off for the two days after that...but Wednesday is an eight and a half hour day! I haven't had one of those in ages. I really wish they could have spread my days off and hours out. At least I do have slightly more hours, a pleasant surprise at this quiet time of the year.

Did better with my grocery shopping. Parchment paper was buy one, get one. I had an online coupon from the Acme's grocery rewards program for free shredded cheese, so I bought Italian 6-cheese, pizza dough, and a can of tomato sauce. (I also meant to pick up the 99 cent pepperoni, but I forgot.) Restocked brown and white sugar, cereal, canned pineapple and mandarin oranges, butter, yogurt, pumpkin, vanilla pudding mix, and yellow cake mix.

As soon as I got home, I changed, then put everything away and made my Italian 6-Cheese Pizza. Ate while watching The Black Cauldron. Taran (Grant Bardsley) is an assistant pig keeper on a small farm in a kingdom in medieval Wales. What he really wants is to be a great warrior. He gets his chance to show his true hero chops when it turns out his porcine charge Hen Wen can see the future. He flees with her, only to end up in the clutches of the Horned King (John Hurt). He escapes with sassy Princess Eilonwy (Susan Sheridan), minstrel Flewfldor Flam (Nigel Hawthorne), and furry eating machine Gurgi (John Bynr). Now they not only have to find Hen Wen, but the Black Cauldron as well, the fabled pot with the power to let the Horned King create an army of the undead that will destroy the kingdom!

While it doesn't much resemble the Chronicle of Prydain books it's based on, it does have charms of it's own. The Horned King and his undead army and the general atmosphere are so spooky, I've watched this around Halloween every year for around a decade. My parents actually took us to see it when it came out in theaters in 1985. If you have older kids and young teens who are fantasy nuts and think they've seen every Disney movie, try this one on them.

Stuck with Disney and finished the night with Disney's Halloween Treat. My family recorded this vintage Disney Channel special somewhere around 1988, and I've watched it every year since then. An animated jack-o-lantern narrates the sequences bridging spooky shorts like "Lonesome Ghosts" and "Trick or Treat," along with longer segments from movies and a sequence on cats' contribution to horror from Walt Disney Presents. Hans Conried jumps in as the Magic Mirror in another segment from Presents, this on famous Disney animated villains. (Including the one Conried voiced, Captain Hook.)

And I must share this. Early in 1978, four cast members from The Carol Burnett Show just randomly wandered on to the set of Match Game (to the delight of perpetually horny Richard Dawson and Gene Rayburn). They not only ended up playing a round, they matched the contestant, too!

Match Game '78

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Library Adventures

Got a quick start to the morning with breakfast and the other horror-themed episode of The Muppet Show. Shock jock Alice Cooper turned up in the early third season with his own monsters and some of his most popular songs, including "You and Me" and "Welcome to My Nightmare." He had a Faustian bargain for the Muppets' souls, but Gonzo is the only taker.

Rushed out the door to catch the 10:14 bus to the Voorhees Library. I showed up at City Hall too late and hiked down to WaWa for a quick drink and to use the bathroom...and once again, missed the bus. Dashed back to my apartment to grab my phone (which I left behind earlier), and this time locked the bike and just barely caught the bus within  minute of my walking out to the White Horse Pike. Once I got on the bus, everything was fine. There was no traffic, and I got off right across from the Voorhees Library.

The Voorhees Library holds the county library book sale every June and October. The place was mobbed when I got in around 11:30, but it gradually cleared out as most people went to work or lunch. I didn't pick up the huge haul that I've found at previous book sales, but I did find some interesting titles. Fished two cozy mysteries, Indiana Jones and the Oracle at Delphi, and a young adult novel about Zorro off the paperback tables. I did even better with the DVDs, grabbing The Sea Hawk with Errol Flynn and the the Warner Archives title Everybody Sing with Judy Garland, the latter for review on my blog next month.

Strolled past the Voorhees Town Center and down to the last Friendly's in this area for lunch. It was almost 1:30 by then. I must have just missed the lunch crowd. They were dead when I arrived. I had a cheeseburger and fries while listening to a pair of grandmas and their charges when they came in.

I really didn't want to go in the Voorhees Town Center, but I needed to use their ATM machine, and then I had to make change. Bought some tasty, off-cut bits of fudge at Boscov's candy counter, but didn't see anything else I needed there. Boscov's, Tilt Arcade, and Bath and Body Works are pretty much the only things left open in that mausoleum. They've been dying for years, a victim of a poor location in the middle of nowhere and increased retail competition in the area. They're dark and dreary, and I hate running through there.

Apparently, the buses don't like going there, either. A bus driver leaned out of his vehicle and told me that the 403 no longer picks up at the Voorhees Town Center, despite it being listed on the paper schedule. He was nice enough to take pity on me and drive me back over to across from the Library.

That one was only slightly late, and everything went fine...until we got into Audubon. Suddenly, the driver just stopped. I couldn't see anything wrong with the bus. Turns out she was having horrible, debilitating chest pains and couldn't continue driving.

Good thing we were only about a block from the Audubon WaWa on the White Horse Pike. Unlike the other six passengers who were on their way to Camden, I was able to walk back to Oakyn. Stopped at WaWa on the way and treated myself to a tasty and very sweet Maple Harvest Smoothie.

I actually enjoyed my stroll back to City Hall. While I do hope the driver was ok, I'm kind of glad I was able to get out and enjoy the weather. The sun was out, the sky was a searing blue, and it was much warmer, likely in the upper 60's. In no time at all, I was unlocking my bike at the railing next to the fire department and headed home.

Worked on writing after I got in. Brett grabs Bill before he can lap up all of Arlene's blackberry cordial. They head out the back door just as the guards break in. The trio manage to sober Bill up enough to finish delivering money. Every shopkeeper sings Richard Hood's praises, while admitting that they fear for their lives and appreciate the money and having someone help them.

Broke for dinner at 7. Had leftovers while finishing The Muppet Show, then switched to the fifth season of Moonlighting. "I See London, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld" has the members of the Blue Moon Agency questioning their mortality when a man dies while waiting to talk to Maddie and David. They have to literally dig up the guy to find a lottery ticket on his person, then keep him from several men who want the map he stole, all while arguing over death and the possibility of there being something on the "other side."

Finished the night after a shower with Little Shop of Horrors. I go further into another childhood favorite at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Return of the Fall Sunshine

Began a much nicer morning with work. This time, we were mostly quiet, or at the worst steady. I did gather trash outside, shelve candy, and do some sweeping, but I was mainly outside with the carts. It was too beautiful to be anywhere else. Everything was still wet when I headed out, but the sun was already out, the sky was blue and cloudless, and while it was windy, it was also fairly warm.

Went straight home after work. I had errands to run, but first, I needed lunch. Watched The Muppet Show while I ate. Elegant horror icon Vincent Price turned up in a first season episode that had him discussing the art of acting with Kermit and helping Uncle Deadly scare Fozzie and Gonzo in a haunted house skit.

My bike seat is still loose. I tightened it for 20 minutes, and it still wasn't quite right. I went down the street, and it wasn't tight. Two neighbors a few houses down on the other side looked it over. The man tightened it with his much larger tool kit, and it still didn't stay tight. I didn't have the time to mess with it any further. I just hurried to the Haddon Township Library with it loose.

School had let out by the time I made it to the library. They were busy with after-school programs and kids playing in the children's area. I did shelve a few kids DVD titles, but the adult DVD shelves had just been moved across the main room and were full. There wasn't a whole lot for me to do. I did grab a few movies. They finally had the Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That Halloween special in; I also grabbed Captain Marvel and the original Bela Lugosi Dracula.

Stopped very quickly at Target to get a drink and money for tomorrow, but I didn't have the time to linger. For once thing, it was the height of rush hour. I was surprised at how easily I got across Cuthbert. The White Horse Pike took a few minutes longer. And yes, I stopped to tighten my bike seat at least twice. Didn't stick. It was still loose when I got home.

Worked on writing when I got upstairs. Arlene explains the Legendary Princesses to Charles, but she's looking at Brett while she does it. When the Princesses and their champions bring their hearts together. the magic in the kingdom will at its strongest...enough to defeat the evil queen. Charles thinks it's just a myth, but for once, Brett says nothing.

Broke for dinner at 7. I boiled hot dogs, then made home fries with green peppers, onions, and potatoes from the farm market. It wasn't like my stepdad's, but it still came out pretty well.

Ate while watching The Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween. Nick and Sally want to find costumes for trick-or-treat. The Cat takes them and the Fish to see the Spooky Ooky Closet, which is filled with every kind of costume there is. Along the way, they ride through a dark woods, pass through a thunderstorm, and fix up a haunted house, learning how to deal with their fears along the way. The Cat claims he doesn't get scared, but there is one globular orange fall icon that frightens him more than any spook or goblin..

Finished the night with Dracula. Bela Lugosi plays the blood-sucking count in the classic 1931 English-language version. He first attacks Renfield (Dwight Frye), his solicitor, placing him under hypnosis and turning him into his slave. The duo head to London, where Dracula encounters lovely Lucy (Frances Dade). She finds him fascinating, but it proves to be her undoing when he makes her his next victim. Renfield has been placed in an asylum, where Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloane) takes a blood sample and realizes he's in a vampire's thrall. Meanwhile, Dracula has gone after Lucy's friend Mina (Helen Chandler), but Van Helsing and her fiancee John Harker (David Manners) are determined to see that he doesn't put the bite on this beauty.

Slow-moving and creaky, but saved by Lugosi's iconic performance as one of the most infamous vampires ever. If you're interested in Lugosi or the Universal Monsters stable and can handle the early talkie stiffness, this is one vampire story you'll want to sink your teeth into.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Dark and Rainy Afternoon

I overslept and ended up kicking off a gloomy late morning with Peanut Butter Pancakes and the Halloween episode of Silver Spoons. When "A Dark and Stormy Night" knocks out the power, Edward encourages Ricky, Alfonso, and Freddy to tell a round-robin ghost story. In their tale, three interpret lads find themselves in a spooky old house, rescuing a pretty lady (Kate) from a Jeckyl & Hyde-esque mad scientist (Edward) and his super-polite monster (Dexter).

Worked on the game show essay for an hour after that. It's funny how things work out. As much as I've enjoyed seeing shows I grew up with online and on Buzzr like Card Sharks and Sale of the Century, the ones I've fallen the most in love with are the ones I either never heard of (the Password franchise), or only vaguely remember. I might have seen the syndicated Match Game re-runs as a very young child, but I definitely don't remember the earlier network run. I'm actually glad I came to it as an adult. I'm not sure I would have understood the majority of what goes on in that show as a kid!

I got so caught up writing and online, I rushed out for counseling at almost 1:30. I should have left much earlier. The weather, which hadn't been wonderful all day, was now misty and humid. I was quite thoroughly damp when I did roll into Haddonfield, ten minutes late for my appointment.

Fortunately, Mrs. Stahl took it pretty well, and while I was annoyed with myself, I figured it could have been worse given the weather. On one hand, work has been a bit of a pain lately, with the lack of help and how crazy it's been. As I mentioned, I'm also still frustrated with my inability to complete those important essays I want to have to post on a writing website. I have such a hard time concentrating, especially when I'm online.

On the other hand, this October has largely been going better than it did last year. Even with the bike seat problems, I've spent time with my family, bonded with my stepsister, and had a great time on vacation. As annoying as work has been, I've had more hours than I did this time last year (and the increased food stamps have helped as well). The holidays are coming up, too, as is the release of Rise of Skywalker in late December. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving at Rose's house, and I always enjoy Christmas.

With the holidays coming up, there's not much more I have planned than writing work. In fact, I really need to talk to Dad and Jodie and find out if they're still doing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at their house, or if it'll be going elsewhere this year.

I ran out so fast, I didn't give myself a chance to have lunch before I left. Stopped at Genova's Pizza on my way home. I ate inside this time, avoiding the rain while enjoying a slice of cheese, a slice of white spinach, and a can of Coke. Half-listened to ESPN talking about the start of basketball season and messed around on my phone.

The rain had just started to pick up as I was entering Oaklyn. I was quite thoroughly wet when I arrived at home. I changed into dry clothes, then did some writing. Charles and Brett bring a bag of gold coins to a shop owned by a woman Brett knows well, Arlene (Francis), a glamorous and attractive older witch who runs an apothecary. She doesn't know where the king is, but the queen and her children were smuggled into the woods, and the Wizard Gene was imprisoned in a tree in the woods. She suggests that the fairies who live deep in the forest might be able to help...

(Incidentally, I'm glad I got in when I did. The rain picked up shortly after I sat down at my laptop, and has been going, sometimes hard, for the rest of the night.)

Broke for dinner around 7. Made scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and mushrooms while watching The Corpse Bride. I go further into this stop-motion romantic horror melodrama from Tim Burton at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The Corpse Bride

Monday, October 21, 2019

Monsters and Zombies Live Such Interesting Lives

Began the morning with a quick breakfast and a spooky Disney short, Runaway Brain. Mickey's last theatrical short for nearly 20 years has him answering an add for a job where he can earn a thousand dollars for a day of "mindless work." Turns out that "mindless work" is literal when a mad scientist switches Mickey's brain for that of his Pete-like monster. Now Mickey has to get his body back and make sure a love-sick monster doesn't try to make off with Minnie.

Did a little writing for an hour after breakfast. They arrive in the busy town, but have to figure out what to do with Bill. Brett finally admonishes him to stay with them. Richard says he'll give out the money while the others wait for his boys and try to find out what happened to the Wizard Gene. Brett says he was imprisoned in the woods, but the black magic in the forest is blocking hers.

Had a very fast lunch while getting ready for work and watching a few horror-themed Popeye Famous Studios shorts. Popeye and Olive are "Spooky Swabs" when they find themselves on an abandoned ship occupied by ghosts who definitely don't want them there! It's a "Fright to the Finish" on Halloween when Bluto convinces Olive that Popeye was the one playing tricks on her. Popeye doesn't need spinach to get him back, just vanishing cream. He claims that "I Don't Scare," but Bluto has no problems spooking superstitious Olive.

Thankfully after all the trouble yesterday, work was mostly fine. I did have to deal with a few too many orders at once later in the day, but I spent most of the earlier part of the afternoon outside with the carts and outside trash and recycling. It was quiet early in the afternoon, and no wonder. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, sunny, bright, and warm, in the mid-60's. It didn't really pick up until rush hour.

I dashed home just in time to use the last roll for a salmon sandwich with one of the salmon patties, spinach, and fried orange pepper strips. Watched Scooby Doo on Zombie Island while I ate, and later as I cleaned up from dinner. Daphne is now a TV reporter with her own talk show, and Fred is her cameraman. She's hoping to find a real, actual, non-masked ghost down in the wilds of Louisiana. Fred invites the rest of the gang along to help. They all run into a lot more supernatural phenomenon than they bargained for when a young Cajun woman invites them to Moonscar Island, which she claims is really haunted. Turns out the "ghosts" are zombies who give them a warning to leave. They, however, aren't the real menace here. While Velma suspects the surly gardener at the plantation, Shaggy and Scooby discover more sinister forces at work on Moonscar masks involved.

The first Scooby Doo direct-to-home-media movie, and one of the few to play the horror for genuine scares, rather than entirely for laughs. The zombies and monsters really are scary, and their backstory is actually pretty tragic. A sequel just came out; I hope it's as good as this one.

Finished the night with another, more comic animated horror tale, Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. After he inherits money from a financier whom he made laugh, Daffy uses it to open a ghost hunter business. Porky, Sylvester, and Bugs all join in, chasing vampires, mouse ghosts, mini elephants, and an Abominable Snowman who is determined to use them as toys. Meanwhile, the financier proves you can take it with you when he depletes Daffy's vault every time he mistreats one of the other Tunes or engages in unethical practices.

If you can overlook the differences between Mel Blanc's voice in the older material and the shorts made directly for the film, the last of the Looney Tunes compilation films is one of the best. The older shorts are almost as funny as the originals, especially the bizarre opening with Daffy singing (in Mel Torme's voice) to almost every famous monster of filmdom. If you love horror spoofs or the Tunes, this one is worth checking out.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Shadow In the Rain

Began the morning with early work. It was gloomy and gray when I headed to the Acme, but not raining. The rain didn't show up until around 10, and then, it was only showering lightly. By noon, the shower had picked up, and so did our customers. We were swamped for most of the afternoon. With the Eagles playing at 8:20 and the weather not appropriate for anything else, people had the time to do major shopping.

I was frantic! The carts kept vanishing, no matter how hard I tried to keep them full. There was no help, either. Both the late morning and afternoon baggers called out, likely not wanting to work in the rain. And I had to do the overflowing outside trash and recycling and sweep the store, too. The rain had also picked up by 2 PM, turning into a heavy shower. I rode home and got soaked.

(The shower has continued, sometimes hard, for the rest of the day.)

As soon as I got in, I changed into dry clothes, then went right to bed. Between the early morning and how busy we were, I was dead tired. Despite the chattering downstairs, I slept from 2:30 until nearly quarter of 5 and felt at least a little better afterwards.

Worked on writing as soon as I was awake enough. Charles suggests they take Bill the wolf into town with them to find out who cursed him. Gary, meanwhile, has decided he wants to help Little Sarah Riding Hood home. Richard agrees to it, as long as he returns to his own home afterwards.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had Jodie's chicken tortellini soup while listening to two of my favorite episodes of the classic radio thriller The Shadow. "The Temple Bells of Nibung" can be rung by a snake charmer who is running a drug cartel and has kidnapped the son of the police commissioner. The bells could reveal the Shadow's true identity, if Lamont doesn't stop her before they ring!

"The Bride of Death" is a spookier tale. A wealthy elderly woman has been taken in by a cult who claims to be "The Temple of the Ancient Ones" and know the secret of eternal life. The Shadow not only has to rescue the woman's secretary from being sacrificed at the alter, but save his own assistant Margo Lane, too.

Ended the night with the Eagles-Cowboys game on the radio. I wish I hadn't. The game was awful. The Eagles just could not get anything going and eventually lost 37-10.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Brazzle Dazzle Day

Began a sunny day with breakfast and Tiny Toon Adventures. It's a "Hare Raising Night" when Buster is assigned to stop the mad scientist Dr. Splicer from throwing together animals in strange mutated experiments. He drags along the others to help, claiming that he's taking them to the Emmys. Plucky keeps insisting that he's going to the winner's circle, while Babs tries to avoid the advances of a love-sick mutant creature.

Had just enough time to dash off to the Collingswood Farm Market. The Farm Market is starting to wind down for the season. They only have about a month left. Several food booths have already been replaced by craft tables selling ornaments and bird houses. There was enough left for me to pick up apples, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and two small eggplants.

I also bought this year's pumpkin. I always buy a pumpkin for my apartment and keep it out until Thanksgiving or it went bad, whichever comes first. I normally buy it in late September, but after both the pumpkins I bought last year went bad before Halloween, I decided to wait. It's a nice little dark orange orb with a very, very long and thick stem.

As soon as I got home, put everything away and had lunch while watching more spooky Tiny Toons. Buster and Babs introduce three segments about "Stuff That Goes Bump In the Night." Montana Max is a "Home Wrecker" when he builds his new summer house over Buster's hole. Buster's ghost returns to get even. Elmyra is saying "Fang You Very Much" when she gets what she thinks is a cute bat, but is really a vampire who thinks she's lunch. A mosquito is an "Easy Biter" who thinks Hamton is the perfect midnight meal.

I ordered a new bike seat from Amazon a few days ago. It arrived promptly today. I did manage to get it on, but even after I did, it still came loose. Not to mention, I'd raised the seat too high. I didn't really realize this until I was already on my way to work. Oh well. I'd fix the seat later.

Work was steady for most of the afternoon, not quite as busy as I figured it would be. It was probably too nice for most people to be in grocery stores. I did very briefly end up in a register and put away a little candy, but I mostly shelved items, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the store, and gathered carts. No really major problems.

As soon as I got home, I adjusted the seat again, then went upstairs to do some writing. Gary offers to take Little Sarah Riding Hood to her Granny Mary's house in their carriage. When they arrive, they see the door wide open. Sarah goes to find her granny upstairs, while the others check the ground. Charles and Gary dash upstairs when they hear her scream, only to find a wolf trying to snatch her basket. The not-so-big-or-bad canine has no interest in her. He's not even really a wolf. He just wanted lunch. His voice gets caught in his throat momentarily when he tries to say his name, until he finally spits out Bill (Daily).

Finished the night after dinner baking a Cinnamon Swirl Cake (which came out beautifully) and watching Pete's Dragon. I go into more details on the original version of an old favorite of mine at the Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Pete's Dragon (1977)

(Oh, and happy birthday to my very best friend Lauren! And the cookies did arrive on time, by the way, and she says she enjoyed them.)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Morning With My Sister

I'd only been up for about twenty minutes when the phone rang. It was Jessa. She was off today, as was I. Did I want to go out for breakfast or brunch? Sure, why not? I did have a few things to do, but they didn't need to be done right away. I had the time to read, write in my journal, and change quickly before she picked me up around quarter of 11.

It was still cloudy and windy when we drove over the Cooper River and into Cherry Hill. Ann's Omelette House was just beyond the Courier-Post building and the Camden Catholic High School. It was a small diner situated on the highway, and even at 11, it was packed when we arrived. They were a cozy little place, with vinyl booths and tables, old South Jersey and Jersey Shore postcards around the tables, and larger vintage photos and sports equipment and ads on the walls.

There were so many omelettes! The first two pages of the menu were nothing but omelettes. They had literally everything in them, from fruit to seafood, from egg whites to omelettes topped with potato pancake. Jessa went for the Beach Bum, a spinach-cheese omelette with two potato pancakes. I had Pizza With the Works, pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, and mozzarella cheese topped with tomato sauce. We both got some really delicious home fries. My omelette was overstuffed and amazing, with lots of big pieces of everything. I also had hot tea, since I hadn't had the time to make any at home.

When we got back to my apartment, I showed Jessa two episodes of Match Game on my DVD set. We kicked things off with the infamous "School Riot" show, where Richard Dawson and Debralee Scott vehemently protested a decision from the judge to not accept their answers. Jessa is a big horror fan, and I thought she'd enjoy seeing a syndicated episode from 1979 with a young Jamie Lee Curtis, less than a year after her success in the original Halloween.

Jess needed to grocery shop too, so we went together. The Acme's having it's occasional "buck a bag" produce sale. I grabbed celery and the baked pea snacks. Also had an online coupon for Nutri-Grain Fruit Bars and a Grocery Rewards coupon for free eggs. Otherwise, I was mostly restocking. Grabbed yogurt, milk, canola oil, oatmeal, ground chicken, honey, and canned pineapple.

Mixed feelings on my hours next week. Slightly more hours, and slightly more days off, too, including Tuesday for counseling. Long hours when I do work, though, including on Sunday. Having Thursday and Saturday off will give me the chance to hit up the Voorhees Library Book Sale one of those days.

Went straight home and put everything away while watching a spooky episode of Get Smart. A "Weekend Vampire" has been killing off CONTROL agents with a flute that leaves vampire-like puncture wounds. Max and 99 have to figure out who's doing the deed and follow him to his spooky mansion.

Headed back out after everything was put away. I really needed to get my laundry done. Thankfully after all the fuss last week, there were no problems. The laundromat was quiet when I arrived, and never really got that busy. I didn't really have a huge load anyway. Worked on story notes and ignored silly talk shows on TV.

Did some writing after I got in. The next morning, the group splits up, with Brett, Charles, Gary, and Richard heading into town while the others go to the near-by church to give away the large bag. On the road, the quartet encounter a pretty blond girl, Little Red Sarah (Kennedy) Hood, picking wildflowers. Gary is smitten and offers to help. She claims a wolf suggested getting off the path to pick flowers. Richard and Brett immediately suspect that the wolf is an enchanted creature that may be after her, but she says it seemed more interested in the cakes in her basket than her. Gary offers their cart to drive her to her granny's house.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. After I ate, I refilled my cookie canister with Ally's "Snappy" Ginger Snaps. They're a simple recipe from The Beanie Baby Cookbook, and they may be the best thing to come out of the Beanie Baby craze of the late 90's. They always come out beautifully and smell amazing in the oven.

Finished the night with Aquaman. Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is the product of a marriage between a human lighthouse keeper (Temeura Morrison) and an Atlantean princess (Nicole Kidman). He has his mother's water-based powers, which he uses to track down pirates like Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen). He learns from the current Atlantean princess Mera (Amber Herd) that his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) has attacked the surface world. He's bringing together the four kingdoms of the sea in order to become the Ocean Master. Arthur's former mentor Nuidis (William Dafoe) tells him of the Trident of Atlan, the first ruler of Atlantis, which is hidden somewhere in the desert. After he attempts to challenge Orm for control of the seas, he takes off with Mera to find that trident...and prove who is the true king of the oceans.

Pure, unadulterated fun, lighter than Captain Marvel and less wacky than the teen-oriented Shazam! and Spider Man: Far from Home. Some terrific performances by Dafoe, Herd, Momoa, and Wilson, gorgeous music, and awesome special effects (especially in the Trenches) almost make up for the stiff dialogue and a story that's basically a cross between Black Panther and the Indiana Jones films. One of the biggest hits of last winter, and deservedly so. If you love the character, the cast, or underwater fantasies, you'll want to dive right into this one.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Blowing In the Wind

Awoke to to the roar of gale-force winds on a cloudy, gloomy morning. Cheered things up considerably with breakfast and the goofy swashbuckler spoof Jack of All Trades. Jack and Emilia are horrified when someone steals sacred relics from local temples and churches in the name of Jack's alter ego the Dragoon. When staking out a churchyard fails to stop the thefts, Emilia takes a potion that makes her appear dead so she can keep an eye on the church from the inside.

Work was even quieter than it was yesterday. I barely needed to do carts; spent a lot of the day hanging gift cards, sweeping, and rounding up recycling (there was no trash, either). Even so, I ended up staying an extra hour. The head bagger was in the register, and they had no one to sweep.

Rushed out as soon as I could. Cheered myself up with Match Game episodes and lunch when I got in. Did the night time episode from 1975 on disc 2 with William Shatner and Lee Merriweather, and another from '77 with Richard, Fannie Flagg, and JoAnn Pflug imitating Brett, Charles, and Dick Gautier respectively (and doing very well at it, I may add). The box I originally used for Lauren's birthday cookies was dusty, and the tape wouldn't stick. I had to switch boxes.

As soon as the cookies were packed and the episode had ended, I rushed out. Lauren's birthday is on Saturday, and I wanted to make sure it got there before then. There was a short line at the Oaklyn Post Office, but it moved quickly.  I sent the box out with no trouble whatsoever, and it should indeed be there on time.

I considered running a few other errands, but while it wasn't raining, it was also dark, cloudy, crazy-windy, and cold. It was no day to be running around. Headed home after that and spent the next few hours writing. I'd re-written Charles helping Richard out earlier to limit it to him just playing music to distract Skutch and allow Richard to take him down. He tells Brett that the crowds of Skutch's men made him nervous. He fears crowds and fire. He claims he's no hero...but she says he was brave to help in any way, and that being a hero doesn't mean just swinging a sword around. It means doing the right thing, even when it's hard. She finally drops off to sleep, with him gently pulling the blanket over her slumbering form.

Continued with Match Game while having leftovers for dinner, then moved on to All That Jazz. I go into more detail on this dark Bob Fosse semi-autobiography at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

All That Jazz

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cookies and Comedy for a Rainy Afternoon

Awoke to a gloomy, dark morning. Livened things up with breakfast and "The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case." When Stan gets a note that he stands to inherit money from a relative, he and Ollie travel to their spooky home to meet the rest of the family. Turns out the uncle was murdered, and they all have to stay the night. Stan and Ollie have to figure out how the family members keep vanishing, before they disappear too.

Since it was only cloudy and humid when I left, I figured I'd be ok to ride to work. Needless to say, on a nasty humid day in the middle of the week, we weren't busy. I did round up carts in the morning, but I mainly shelved a cart of loose items, swept the store, and did the inside trash. When I did make it back outside, the rain had finally arrived. It was showering a little at that point, enough that I rode home (after picking up sugar) and just got a little wet.

Had lunch after I changed into dry clothes while finishing "Laurel-Hardy Murder Case." Went right into "Dirty Work" next. Stan and Ollie are chimney sweeps in the home of a mad scientist who is trying to create a formula to reverse aging. The boys wind up inadvertently testing the formula...but not before they destroy the guy's chimney.

I'd started working on Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies for my best friend Lauren's birthday on Saturday by the time "Oliver the Eighth" was on. Ollie is thrilled when a rich widow responds to her letter for him. Turns out she responded because she's killed seven men named Oliver...and he's next in line!

By the time the cookies were out of the oven, the rain had picked up and was now pouring. Needless to say, I went nowhere else and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening writing. Brett and Charles make the other men a supper of dried beef stew and brown bread. After that, Charles plays music for them, and they all dance, including Brett. Only a thoughtful Richard remains aloof from the group.

That night, Brett sleeps on their couch, and Charles agrees to sleep on the floor. She tells him about how the wicked queen had turned her husband to stone and imprisoned her family. He admits that he desperately fears crowds and fire and tries to avoid both.

Broke for dinner at quarter after 6. Had Jodie's Chicken Tortellini Soup and Apple-Pear Crisp while watching two spooky Three Stooges shorts. "If a Body Meets a Body" is a remake of "The Laurel-Hard Murder Case." This time, it's Curly who may stand to inherit a fortune, if he, Moe, and Larry can survive a night in a supposedly haunted mansion!

The trio "Spook Louder" when they once again find themselves in a supposedly haunted house, this time as door-to-door salesmen. They're somehow recruited to find spies operating out of the house, but end up having to avoid whomever keeps throwing pies at everyone.

Took a much-needed bath after dinner. Ahhh. It was so relaxing, with the rain coming down and Jazz For a Rainy Afternoon on my CD player. I went over two of my Christmas books and enjoyed a much-needed soak.

Finished the night with The Halloween Tree. Four kids are all ready for trick-or-treating when they discover that one of their best friends has a burst appendix and was rushed to the hospital. They refuse to celebrate Halloween without him and go to see him at the hospital. The oldest, Tom (Edan Gross), sees what he thinks is Pip (Kevin Michaels) and assumes he's playing a joke. They follow him to the decrepit home of the cranky and mysterious Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (Leonard Nimoy). Moundshround has a Halloween Tree with the spirits of Halloween past hanging from it...including Pip. He takes the quartet back in time to visit 3,000 years of Halloween history in order to restore their friend, and find out more about the costumes they wear and their significance to the holiday.

This TV special from 1993 is an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel written by Bradbury himself (and narrated by him, too). What I like about this one is that it covers Halloween history, something that I've rarely seen in a special for this holiday. Many Christmas specials cover that holiday's history, but most other holidays don't often into their backstory. The animation (and the acting from the kids) is nothing to write home about, but it's still worth seeing if you have older and tween-age kids who love Halloween, horror, or history.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Writer's Day

Began a stunning, sunny morning with breakfast and a very strange Dr. Seuss special, Halloween Is Grinch Night. The Whos flee into their homes when a sour-sweet wind rouses the local animal population, whose noise sends the Grinch a' prowlin'. He's on his way to Whoville with his "paraphernalia wagon" filled with crazy psychedelic scares. When a young Who gets lost in the mountains and encounters the Grinch, he takes it on himself to make sure that this green menace never makes it to town.

Spent the rest of the morning trying to work on that game show essay. I did get a little further on it, but it's still not finished. I don't know why I have such a hard time concentrating. I know this is important. It's supposed to be one of three essays I'm writing to eventually post online, so professionals will see my work. I need to figure out how I can focus better and maybe feel a little more confident about getting things done.

Had a quick lunch around 1:30. Ran an even more unusual episode of Tiny Toon Adventures while I ate and got organized. "The Return of the Acme Acres Zone" brings three more strange horror and sci-fi spoofs. "Real Kids Don't Eat Broccoli" turns into a spoof of Blade Runner, with beautiful lady Babs asking cyber-detective Buster to find her runaway robots. A ghost tries to scare Plucky and Hamton out of his ancient hotel in "Boo Ha Ha." Plucky is "Duck Dodgers Jr." as he helps Daffy stop Marvin the Martian and his protege Marsha from sucking the universe into building blocks.

Headed out to run errands around quarter after 2. It was a glorious day for a ride through the park...and I wasn't the only one who thought so. I dodged joggers, other bikers, people out for a stroll, dog walkers, and Canadian geese poking around for a late snack. I really wish the trees would start turning colors! There isn't much here. The leaves are just falling, and it's not very pretty. At least the sunlight sparkled on the bottle green lake.

The Haddon Township Library was equally busy when I arrived. There was a lot to return, and once again, half of it didn't fit on the DVD shelves. At least I got more on the kids' shelves this time. Took out The Corpse Bride, Aquaman, and for review later this week, All That Jazz and the original 1977 Pete's Dragon.

Made a quick run to Dollar Tree when I got out. Lauren's birthday is at the end of the week. I bought a tin and a card for her. Needed sponges, too. There was a long line, but they opened a second while I was waiting.

Went straight into other writing when I got home. Brett has her reasons for wanting to go after the evil queen right away. Her children are in the dungeon at Malade's castle, and her (still) husband was turned to stone. She has nowhere else to go. Touched by her loss, Charles and the Merry Men convince Richard to at least let her stay the night.

Broke for dinner around 7. Had leftovers for dinner, then made a tasty apple-pear crisp from my new Susan Branch cookbook while watching Ziegfeld Follies. I go into more detail on this massive MGM revue from the 1940's at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

Monday, October 14, 2019

It's Tough to Be a God

Kicked off a gorgeous morning with reading. There's an essay and a couple of poems on Columbus Day in the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. For material written in the 40's and 50's, they're surprisingly honest about what Columbus did and didn't do. He didn't actually discover America, or find the gold of Asia as he'd hoped...but he did discover, or further explore much of the Caribbean and South America.

Had a quick breakfast after finishing, then baked Chocolate Chip "Old School" Muffins from a recipe in Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food. Yum! That recipe always comes out super-moist and tasty, and this was no exception. I added cinnamon for extra flavor.

Watched The Road to El Dorado while I worked. Miguel (Kenneth Brannagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline) are con men in Spain in 1519 who inadvertently stow away on a ship bound for the New World. They wash up on beach with a horse (Frank Welker) in tow and a map to the fabulous golden city of "El Dorado" in their pockets. Upon finding El Dorado, they're surprised to discover it's inhabited by a whole civilization, including the kindly Chief Tannabok (Edward James Olmos) and sacrifice-obsessed priest Tzekel-Kan (Armand Assante). With the help of thief Chel (Rosie Perez), they pass themselves off as gods and gather as much gold as they can. Miguel, however, comes to love El Dorado and it's people, while Tulio is more interested in Chel. Miguel wants to stay...but he may not have a choice when the jealous Tzekel-Kan first turns a magical jaguar on them, then reveals the secret of El Dordo to explorer Cortez (Jim Cummings). Now the trio and their equine friend will have to work together to save El Dorado and its gold from the greedy conquistador.

This is just such a fun movie. Brannagh and Kline recorded together and supposedly ad-libbed a lot of the dialogue, and it shows. There's some hilarious lines here, including my brother Keefe's favorite, "You da god!" at the ball game. It also features Elton John's second-best score for a movie after The Lion King, including my favorite of his songs, "Someday Out of the Blue." Mom took Keefe to see this when it came out in 2000, and they both loved it. If you're a fan of John or the cast, or you're also looking for an animated movie for upper grade-school and tween boys, you can't do better than this hilarious and touching romp.

Headed out to work as soon as the movie was over and the muffins were out of the oven. Work was mildly steady for most of the afternoon. I spent the first half of my shift sweeping and shelving loose items, and the second rounding up carts, gathering the outside trash and recycling, and cleaning the bathrooms. No wonder we weren't that busy. It was gorgeous when I was outside, sunny, breezy, and warm without being overly hot or humid.

Went into writing when I got home. Brett prepares to take off almost as soon as she meets the boys. She has to find the Wizard Gene and rescue her prince, who was turned to stone by the cruel Queen Malade. The men try to point out that it's getting dark, but she wants to get moving...and presumes they'll be joining her. Richard protests, but Charles points out that they have nothing to lose. She did help them get the tax money from Skutch.

It was almost 7:30 by the time I broke for dinner. I had leftovers quickly while watching a spooky episode of Laverne & Shirley from the second season. The two women bring Lenny and Squiggy to a notorious local "Haunted House" to get a couch cheap. Shirley is convinced that there's some hairy thing living in the mansion, and it looks like she's right when the boys vanish and they hear noises and chains. They're ready to run, until Shirley finds a diary that brings a lot of fascinating history - and the owner of the house - to light.

Finished the night after a shower with Stan & Ollie. Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) are past their prime in 1953. Hoping to earn money and regain past glory, they undergo a music hall tour of England and Ireland. At first, they  play smaller venues that are barely advertised by producer Bernard Delfont (Rufus Jones), but after he does finally do some publicity photos, word about them spreads and leads them to better bookings. Stan is writing gag material for a new movie he's hoping they'll be able to star in, but there's no interest in it. Their relationship becomes strained after their wives Lucille (Shirley Henderson) and Ida (Nina Aridana) arrive. Not only do the women fight, but they remind Stan of the time he left their boss Hal Roach (Danny Huston) and Ollie did a movie without him. They argue over this and break up, though they continue to perform. The strain is too much for an already-ailing Ollie, who has a heart attack when they're judges at a beauty pageant. He's told to stop performing, but Stan won't go on without his long-time partner...and it takes almost losing him to make him realize just how important Ollie is in his life.

As a long-time Laurel & Hardy fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the ups and downs of one of the sweetest and most remarkable friendships in Hollywood history. Coogan and Reilly were excellent as the two men who discover that there's no one they'd rather be doing pratfalls with than each other. Despite a melodramatic and rather predictable second act, if you're a fan of Laurel & Hardy too, you're definitely going to want to look up this brief and charming tale.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

On Sunday Morning

Began a sort-of cloudy morning with work. It wasn't bad when I came in, but things picked up by around 10:30-11 AM. The Eagles game was at one, and everyone wanted party food before that. I did shelve some items, but I mainly stayed outside and gathered carts and trash, at least for as long as I could. As it turned out, several people called out. They had me stay an extra hour. I got stuck in the register around 11:30-noon, but was able to get outside shortly after and spent the rest of the afternoon with the carts.

Hurried off as soon as I could get away. Mark, Joya, Rose, Craig, and their kids were already there when I arrived. This time, Jodie had meatball and hot sausage sandwiches with Caeser salad and those hot pepper tomato slices again. I had a tasty meatball sandwich and salad, with yellow cupcakes trimmed in fancy piped red, black, and green icing from Rose for dessert. Finley was napping when I came in; Khai played with his Nintendo Switch and iPad. Rose and Jodie eventually took them around to several neighbors' houses to play.

Wish the game had been as lovely as the food and company! I'm afraid the Minnesota Vikings simply outran the Eagles all afternoon. They were up 24-3 when I arrived. The Eagles did mange to catch up in the third quarter, but then the Vikings started up again. The Eagles just couldn't keep up, and an avalanche of penalties on both sides didn't help. They eventually lost 38-20.

Went home as soon as the game ended. Did a lot of writing tonight, including after dinner. The mysterious lady whom the head guard released turns out to have power over the woods. She makes the trees throw apples and acorns at Skutch and his men before running off. Charles sees Skutch attacking Richard and trying to pull off his hood and uses his lute to distract Skutch, then hit him over the head. Skutch vows revenge, but Richard is grateful enough to offer Charles a place to stay and a new job with them.

They return to the cottage in the woods they're living in and find the door wide open. After they drop the trunk in the living room, they go upstairs to find the perpetrator...and find the sorceress from earlier sleeping in one of their beds. She's not happy when she's woke up, but Charles gets her calmed down. She tells them that her name is Brett, and she was trying to put distance between herself and Skutch and stopped at the cottage to rest.

Finished the night with the second Disney music collection CD. My favorite here is a real rarity - the full soundtrack to the Main Street Electrical Parade, which is currently back in its original Disneyland home. I also like the lovely "Candle On the Water" from Pete's Dragon, "On the Front Porch" from Summer Magic, and the twittering birds of one of my favorite attractions at the parks, "The Tiki Room."

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Snow Somers and the Seven Match Gamers

Kicked off a sunny morning with breakfast and a mildly scary Garfield and Friends. Garfield finds himself in "The Lasagna Zone" when he drops cheese and tomato sauce on Jon's new satellite dish and winds up in the TV, running between shows. Orson is a "Sleepytime Pig" when he can't get to dreamland. Turns out the Sandman was late. He desperately tries to put Orson to sleep. The others' attempt to get him sleeping doesn't help. Garfield calls himself "Yojumbo" when a bully picks on Jon after he takes Liz to a Japanese restaurant. He takes martial arts lessons to impress her, but Garfield's the one who really figures out how to deal with the hulking jerk.

Went straight to work after the cartoon ended. Work was very busy for most of the day. It's a holiday weekend, for one thing. People are starting to think of the holidays, and there's a lot of other things going on as well. I did clean the bathrooms when I arrived and gathered the outside trash and recycling, but I was mainly either outside doing the carts or inside sweeping. At least the weather got better. By the time I was heading home with frozen pepperoni pizza and an onion, the sun was out, and while it was humid, it was also windless and a little warmer.

Spent the next few hours writing. When Skutch's fine carriage comes bouncing along, Charles is surprised to discover that he's not alone. A female figure with a familiar gravelly voice and iron bands on her wrists is being held prisoner in the carriage. Skutch turns her over to the head guard, claiming he wants her to find Robin Hood in the forest. The guard holds up his sword to kill her. The queen wanted her heart, but he can't bring himself to do the deed. He breaks the iron bands and turns her loose instead.

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Did an episode of Fairy Tale Theatre while eating pepperoni pizza and spinach salad with apple cider dressing for dinner. As you may have noticed, one of the fairy tales I'm using for inspiration for my own story is "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Elizabeth McGovern is a lovely snow maiden here, with Vanessa Redgrave as a wonderful wicked queen, Rex Smith as the prince, and Vincent Price as the narrator and the queen's truth-telling mirror.

Ended the night with Z.O.M.B.I.E.S. I go into more details on the strangest Disney Channel musical ever at my Musical Dreams Movies Reviews blog.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Laundry Trouble

Began a quick morning with breakfast and more My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. "Marks and Recreation" has the Cutie Mark Crusaders starting a camp for "blank flanks," colts who haven't found their talents or their cutie marks next. One colt, Rumble, constantly causes trouble and refuses to get into any new activities. He claims the girls are holding back the other colts and forcing them into one talent for their whole lives. The Cutie Mark Crusaders know that isn't true...and they finally turn to Rumble's brother in the Wonderbolts to find out what's really bothering him.

Got organized to run errands during "Once Upon a Zeppelin." We get to know Twilight Sparkle's family when they all go on a free zeppelin cruise together. Turns out the cruise was arranged by con-man centaur Iron Will as a "get to know the princess" cruise, and it's filled with Princess-crazy Twilight fans. He even raffles off a fan joining her family for a day. Twilight agrees to the activities to keep her family and the passengers happy, but when she misses a natural phenomenon she badly wanted to see, she realizes how important her own happiness is, too.

Headed out as soon as the episode ended. First stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. They were quiet, with two librarians and one man reading books on a couch. I looked over DVDs and picture books and moved on.

I was hoping to find a red skirt at Goodwill to dress as Little Red Riding Hood. No luck there. I didn't even see any DVDs or CDs (which they'd rearranged - the DVDs are now next to the books). They did have red velvet capes in bags I may go back for sometime later in the week.

Had lunch at Sonic. It was windy, a little humid, and still cool, though not quite as chilly as yesterday. Wind or no wind, I won't have too many more opportunities this year to eat outside. Enjoyed my burger, tater tots, and cherry limeade while watching cars go around to the drive-in window.

Rode over to the Acme after I ate. I did need some things this week. Had a coupon for Grainberry cereal; went with their multi-grain flakes. I won't be able to make it to the Collingswood Farm Market tomorrow, so I grabbed pears, apples, and this year's first bags of cranberries. Dug a mahi mahi fillet and two more of those salmon "burgers" out of the seafood section. There's a collection of Halloween or horror DVDs in the front of the store. I went with one I'd only vaguely heard of, The Halloween Tree. I'm not in desperate need of peanut butter, but the Acme generic brand's was a dollar. Restocked white beans, skim milk, yogurt, tissues, toilet paper, chocolate chips, canned pumpkin, muffin papers, and Parmesan cheese.

My schedule next week is pretty similar to this week, only with later hours on Saturday and slightly more hours on Sunday. I'll still be able to see the 1 PM Eagles game with Dad and Jodie and hit the Farm Market next week. Slightly less hours, but still decent for this time of year.

Quickly ran another My Little Pony episode while I put everything away when I got in. Pinkie makes her best pal Rainbow Dash pies for every occasion (and non-occasion) she can think of in "Secrets and Pies" because she thinks she likes them. To her shock, she discovers that Rainbow has been giving them away or getting rid of them. Rainbow doesn't really like pies, but has been pretending to like them to make Pinkie happy.

Rushed out to the laundromat to get that done around 4. I went at the wrong time. There was only one washer left when I came in...and of course, ten minutes into the washing cycle, the washer and the one next to it just stopped working. The lights went out. I didn't have my phone, but a lady who was also there called the manager. The woman who used the machine next to me had overloaded it, and the circuit breaker on it kept shutting down. The manager finally let my much smaller load finish out and moved the other woman's to two machines. It should have taken me 40 minutes, but it took almost an hour and a half.

Once I did finally get home, I did some writing. Richard calls out his Merry Men. The youngest, Gary Burgoff, is thrilled to see his former teacher Charles again, to the point where he almost knocks him over. Once Charles recovers his breath, he reveals that Lord Skutch is coming through with treasure they could give to the peasants...but Richard suspects it may be a trap.

Switched back to the Ponies while having a quick leftovers dinner. "Uncommon Bond" was the last episode on the Season 7 set I hadn't already seen. Starlight Shimmer is thrilled when her old friend Sunburst visits Ponyville. She's hoping to recreate their old childhood games with him...but he seems to bond with every one of her friends but her! It's not until she briefly transforms them into fillies that she begins to realize that they may have changed, but they can still find ways to connect as adults.

Ended the night with Waiting for Guffman. Tiny Blaine, Missouri is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a musical about its history entitled Red, Hot, and Blaine. Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest), a director from New York, has taken over the show, and he proceeds to turn it into the biggest spectacle within his price range. He gathers a motley crew of wannabe performers, including a dentist who wants to be a comedian (Eugene Levy), a pair of travel agents with show business aspirations (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara), and a pretty Dairy Queen worker who hopes this will be her ticket out of town (Parker Posey). Corky's thrilled when he manages to corral New York critic Mort Guffman to come see the show, giving the cast hopes of hitting Broadway...but no matter where they end up, this is one show that'll be nothing less than memorable.

Guest probably puts in his best performance in one of his own mocumentaries as the over-the-top, lisping Clair, who manages to inspire his motley crew of performers despite his eccentricities and his driving the "musical director" (Bob Balaban) crazy. If you enjoyed the other Guest films, you'll want to make the trip to Blaine and see this one as well.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sleepy Autumn Afternoons

It was still cloudy and a bit cool this morning when I got up and rolling this morning. Ran the Broadway cast album of Thoroughly Modern Millie quickly while I ate. Sutton Foster became a star as the liberated title flapper in this 2002 stage version of the film musical. My favorite of the additional numbers are "How the Other Half Lives" as Millie and Miss Dorothy describe what they hope to find in New York, the goofy Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche that introduces Millie to Trevor Grayden, and "They Don't Know" for Mrs. Mears.

Work was even quieter than it was yesterday. Other than sweeping the store shortly before I finished, I mostly alternated between gathering carts and shelving candy. It helped that the weather gradually improved throughout the morning. By the time I headed home, it was a mostly sunny and breezy autumn day.

When I got home, I changed and put on a couple of My Little Pony episodes while eating lunch. Twilight has the best of intentions when she publishes their Friendship Journals from the earlier seasons, but she and the others encounter nothing but "Fame and Misfortune." Fans fixate on every single thing Rainbow Dash does, they try to join Apple's family, laugh at every word from Pinkie, and think Rarity is selfish and Fluttershy is too shy. Twilight is upset that the Journals were taken the wrong way, until two fillies reveal that she didn't make a mistake after all.

It's a "Triple Threat" when Dragon Queen Amber and Thorax the Changeling king visit Ponyville. Spike fears they won't get along and goes out of his way to keep them apart. The Cutie Map, however, tells him he has a friendship problem...and he may have more than that when Amber becomes suspicious, Thorax defends him, and he almost starts an international incident.

Rainbow Dash is horrified when she and Pinkie learn that her favorite writer, A.K Yearling, is retiring from her "Daring Do" adventure series. Turns out she caused so much trouble in the Egyptian-esque town of Somnabula, she wants to quit. But all is not what it seems, and there may be someone committing crimes in Daring Do's name...someone who truly wants the series to end...

Despite a day that had turned beautiful and the noisy lawn mower going outside, I took a nap after lunch. I was so tired, I'd been nodding off throughout most of work. Even with the extra noise, I still slept for a good two hours.

Went into writing after I awoke. Charles rides into the spooky Sherwood Forest to find the legendary Robin Hood...but he does, indeed, find him. He turns up in the trees, aiming his bow at Charles before he shows him the pendant that the guard gave him. "Robin" leaps out of the branches and reveals himself to be Sir Richard Dawson, who was once a knight and the squire of Hogan Manor. Skutch seized his family's lands and tried to force him to work for him, but he opted to flee into the woods instead.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Did one more Friendship Is Magic episode while eating leftovers. Zebra healer Zecora contracts a rare and incurable swamp fever while seeking a flower. Fluttershy becomes determined to find "A Health of Information" and figure out a cure, even at the cost of her own health. Twilight helps her seek the answer...and tries to point out that she needs sleep and to make sure she's ok, too.

Ended the night after a shower with Into the Woods. I go into further details on this dark live-action fantasy from Disney at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Into the Woods (2014)

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Legends of a Gloomy Fall

Began a gloomy and cold morning with some beautiful music while I had breakfast. I honored the late Diahann Carroll, who also passed away over the weekend, with the Broadway cast album of No Strings. She was a model in Paris who romances blocked writer Richard Kiley, only to realize they can't stay together. Not only was this one of the first musicals to seriously explore an interracial affair, but it was Richard Rodgers' first and only time working solo on the stage. He came up with a standard right out of the gate, the delicate ballad "The Sweetest Sounds."

It was showering lightly when I arrived at work, and it would shower or rain in some capacity for the rest of the day. Thankfully, it never rained so heavily that I got even mildly wet gathering carts. I alternated between the carts, shelving items, and bagging for the rest of the day, stopping to sweep the store shortly before I left. We were steady but never insanely busy, and I was in and out.

Given the continuing bad weather, I figured I was better off just going straight home. As soon as I got in and changed, I had yogurt and fruit for a quick lunch. Kicked off my Halloween season with the Peanuts seasonal specials while I ate. Linus is determined to wait in a "sincere" pumpkin patch for the elusive fall gift-giver in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Against her better judgement, Sally joins him. Meanwhile, Chuck has trouble trick-or-treating and Snoopy spends his night fighting the Red Baron.

Chuck has more luck in It's Magic, Charlie Brown. He lets Snoopy turn him invisible for a magic show trick, but it rains before he can change him back. He's upset that he'll never be seen again...before he realizes that there are some advantages to not being seen, including finally getting to kick Lucy's football.

As soon as I finished eating, I started putting up the Halloween decorations. I probably should have done it a week ago. I did figure out how to hang two garlands. I hadn't noticed the two magnetic curtain rods Charlie put on the windows in my bedroom until today. The raffia garland with the fabric bats and pumpkins and the black and orange tinsel garland went on them. There were also stuffed bats and bear ghosts to set on the DVD shelves, witch scarecrows to place on the dry sink, and resin witch bears to set up on top of my desk.

Switched to Garfield's Halloween Adventure while starting Vanilla Pear Cookies. Garfield is thrilled to go out trick-or-treating with Odie and get lots of candy! He reconsiders his enthusiasm when he and Odie find themselves stranded on a spooky island and being chased by ghost pirates looking for their treasure.

Put on the Bowery Boys while the cookies were in the oven. They're Ghost Chasers when Sach's  buddy Whitey becomes interested in spiritualism and introduces him to big-time spirtualist Margo the Medium. Turns out she's a phony who's ring of fake mediums are bilking older women in their neighborhood. They convince soda shoppe owner Louie Dumbrowski to go to the medium and distract her while they try to get evidence. Sach has some extra help - a ghost named Edgar whom only he can see. Edgar gets Sach wise to Margo's tricks, but the boys aren't entirely sure their odd pal hasn't flipped his baseball cap...

Did some writing while the cookies cooled. Lord Skutch is called to the gate and ends up telling Charles that performing, laughter, and music - the things he specializes in - are no longer permitted in the Kingdom of Columbia. No one will tell him what happened to the king and queen. After he and his horse are lead to the street, the guard tells him to seek Robin Hood, the champion of the people who robs rich nobles like Skutch and gives the money to the peasants. He'll be able to explain what happened to the kingdom and its noble family.

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. I made a delicious Pasta Fagioli - a kind of Italian soup-stew with navy beans, pasta, and vegetables. I pretty much made it to use up old vegetables in my refrigerator. Oooh, it came out so nice, a little spicy but very tasty, and appropriately hearty for a dark and cold day.

Finished the night with the 1985 sword-and-sorcery fantasy film Legend. Jack (Tom Cruise) is a young man of the woods who is in love with delicate Lily (Mia Sara), a princess. He brings her to see a unicorn, a sacred creature. Innocent Lily sets off a chain of events when she touches the unicorn that ends with it being captured by the Devil (Tim Curry), who wants to bring about eternal darkness. Jack, accompanied by a motley crew of fairies and dwarfs, goes into the bowels of the Earth to rescue her and restore the unicorn and the light they bring.

This is one of the rare times I prefer the shorter theatrical version to a longer one. The Tangerine Dream score suits this whimsical fairy tale better than the music by Jerry Goldsmith, and moves a lot faster at the shorter length. Tom Cruise is kind of out of place here; Sara and especially Curry are far better as the pure-hearted maiden and the ultimate evil.

If you're a huge fan of fantasy, Curry, or romantic adventure, you'll want to give this 80's fairy tale a look.