Saturday, November 30, 2019

Parties and Parades

A lovely, sunny morning began with breakfast and The Bernstein Bears' Christmas Tree. Much like Clark Grizwauld, Papa Bear is determined to bring home a real, special tree direct from the woods. Unlike Clark, he keeps choosing trees that are the homes of forest creatures. They chase Papa and the cubs away...until Papa spares a bird family and finally realizes what's really important about the holidays. The cubs think they'll never get their tree, but there's a wonderful surprise at their own treehouse when they get back.

Rushed out at ten of 10. Thankfully, I was only about 15 minutes late for the Collingswood Christmas Parade. This is the largest holiday parade in the Camden County area. Mummers, string bands, and local groups from miles around participate in this community event. I hurried along Haddon Avenue until I found an empty spot just to the right of the city offices at the old school.

I missed the first few minutes of the parade, but I did manage to catch most of it. For some reason, there were a lot of luaus this year. Two of the schools and Parkview Apartments had Hawaiian themes, with kids and residents sporting leis and grass skirts over warm pants and ski jackets. Another school did a sweet Toy Story float. As cute as Ovations Dance Studio's routine to "Jingle Bell Rock" was, the Irish step dancers in their traditional costumes were just having so much fun doing jigs to "Christmas In Kilarney." An Irish bagpipe group showed off their traditional kilts and spats. A group of mini-flag bearers, waving flags that were bigger than they were, danced to "Let It Go" from Frozen. One mummers group was dressed as golfers in glittering black and white argyle. Another were the Pirates of the Caribbean, with a genuinely spooky Davy Jones (complete with octopus makeup) leading. Stilt walkers dressed as an elf and a toy soldier did juggling tricks. Costumed characters, ranging from Frosty and Crystal to gingerbread people to the Grinch, high-fived the kids in the crowd. At least the wind had died down since Thursday, allowing the high school flag groups to do their routines with little trouble.

Someone on the parade route handed me a paper that advertised a train show at a church a block from the Collingswood Library. Since I wasn't far from the library and they mentioned cookies and hot drinks, I thought it might be fun to check out. Something different, anyway. I followed the crowds across the street.

The church was already fairly crowded by the time I made it there. I got into line and grabbed chocolate chip and white chocolate cookies and a cup of hot chocolate, then joined the crowds around the train display. It was huge, taking up most of the back half of the small auditorium. Kids and adults alike oohed and ahhed over the meticulously detailed landscape, with trains riding over hills, a small town with barns and farmhouses, a city with skyscrapers and a big fancy train station, a green countryside, and even a wide train bridge over a "gully."

After I left, I picked up my bike and headed back towards Oaklyn. It was a beautiful day by quarter after noon, bright, sunny, and chilly. Despite the nice weather and the light sparkling on the bottle-green waters, I was the only one I saw out riding in Newton River Park. Everyone else must have still been back in Collingswood.

I needed to stop and pick up a birthday present for my stepbrother Jesse on the way home. Grabbed a 15 dollar gift card for Dunkin' Donuts at CVS, but couldn't find a card I liked. I finally decided choosing was taking too long. He would live without the card.

Hurried straight home in time to make a quick lunch. Watched "A Scooby Doo Christmas" while I ate. In this episode of What's New, Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc find themselves stranded in the town of Winter Hollow on Christmas Eve after the nearby bridge washes out. Every year around Christmas, a Headless Snowman attacks residents, destroying their chimneys and their warmth and forcing them into a local inn for the holidays. The kids do everything they can to solve the mystery and bring a real Christmas back to the townspeople.

It was way past 2 when I finally made it to the laundromat. I couldn't put off my laundry anymore. I had a huge load, including the three towels I used to mop up the water from the freezer defrosting. Next week, I'll try to go much earlier. They were mobbed when I got in. I got one of the last two washers; had a far easier time with the dryers. Worked on story notes and half-listened to college football and the chatter around me.

Even hurrying back as fast as I could didn't make me on time. Jodie said to meet her at Dad's. I went past her on the road as I was riding over to Dad's, ten minutes late. I quickly dropped my bike at Dad's, then jumped in her car and headed off.

Even with all the trouble, we were only five minutes late for Jesse's big 30th birthday party at the Uno's Grill in Maple Shade. As it turned out, we,  Jodie's older son TJ, and his lover Eric were the only ones from Jodie's side of the family who went. Everyone else was from Jesse's biological father's side of the family or his wife Dana's. It was kind of boring. I mostly hid in the back of a table and messed with my cell phone, though I did chat with TJ, Eric, and Jodie. Watched Auburn play Alabama on the big-screen TV over the roaring fire - the former barely won, 48-45. Blue and white balloons, including a shower of white balloons with a metallic "30," hung in front of and to the side of the fireplace. Photos from Jesse's childhood were hung in a banner over the table with the cake, cupcakes, and candy.

At least the food was good. We enjoyed Caeser salad, celery and carrot sticks, baked ziti with breaded chicken strips, and pepperoni and cheese thin-crust pizza. Those who were brave enough had saucy hot wings...but one whiff of those were too much for me! They were really, really pungent. Just standing over them made my eyes water.

The cake and cupcakes had a flower theme; Jesse loves working in the small garden between his and Dana's apartment and the main house. The chocolate cupcakes were a little bland, but the buttercream frosting and vanilla cupcakes and cakes were amazing, creamy and moist and sweet.

After I got home and finally put the laundry away, I finished out the night with the 1997 animated Babes In Toyland. I go further into this holiday tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Babes In Toyland (1997)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday Frenzy at Home

Began a sunny, windy morning at home. I had breakfast while watching while watching Yogi's All-Star Christmas Caper. Yogi and Boo Boo head to the city to meet the rest of the Hanna Barbara funny animals for Christmas, unaware that they've gone to Jellystone to meet them. While Ranger Smith and half the cops in New York search for them, they and the others help a little lonely rich girl find her busy millionaire father.

Switched to Christmas music while taking down the Thanksgiving and fall decorations. I'll start cleaning tomorrow or Sunday evening before putting up the Christmas items by the end of next week. I always do major cleaning before I put up the holiday decorations. Not to mention, Amanda's visiting next week as well.

After the fall container was put away, I brought the crate of comics books and box of young adult paperbacks out of the back room. I had them out there because Charlie was working on the windows in the bedroom. He hasn't been up here or mentioned working up here in ages. The moment I saw that shelf at Rose's house, I knew it would hold everything in the crate and narrower shelf. Had to move around the shelf-holding pegs to get them to fit, but yes, I got all the books in, with two shelves leftover. I even had room for the My Little Demon Jem print Linda and James Young sent me a while back. The Princess Leia print went over it.

I've picked up quite a lot of holiday records and CDs in the past few months, including Perfect Christmas: Holiday Music 2006 and The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas. The former is a two-disc collection of mostly newer music and remakes like "Someday at Christmas" by Mary J. Blige. My favorite here - and one of the reasons I bought it - was for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's classic rendition of "The Heat Miser/Snow Miser Song" from The Year Without a Santa Claus. Treasury mostly skewers older, with songs like "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby and "Here Comes Santa Claus" by Elvis Prestley, along with a unique rendition of "The Night Before Christmas" by Fred Warring and His Pennsylvanians.

(I've been trying to find The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas for years. I used to borrow the cassette version from Mom's sister Aunt Terri when she came up to visit us for Thanksgiving in the mid-late 90's and would listen to it after Thanksgiving dinner as a way to kick off the holiday season. I've seen other collections, but never the exact one Aunt Terri had until I found it while on vacation in September.)

Ran a few Match Game episodes while eating a quick lunch. Prototypical ditzy blonde Elaine Joyce and bubbly Joyce Bullifant joined in the fun during a 1979 syndicated episode. Elaine insists on showing off her perfect body, while Joyce wears a wig, so she won't be mistaken for the other goofy blonde on the show. Rita Moreno had a tougher time figuring out the game play in another from a month before, to the point where one question had to be thrown out because she showed her answer before she was supposed to.

I did at least need to go to the Acme today. While I didn't need a huge order, I did want to pick up a few pricey things I kept forgetting, like vanilla. Grapefruit and red pears were on good sales. as were Stayfree pads. Restocked brown and white sugar, mushrooms, cranberries, deodorant, milk, and honey. Grabbed cream of celery soup when I realized they no longer sold the Healthy Choice Cream of Mushroom.

(And no wonder I have today and tomorrow off. They were totally, utterly dead. I was the only person in the express line when I got up front.)

The real reason I went to the Acme was for my schedule, which was far better than this week's. Perfectly normal morning and mid-afternoon hours. Thursday and next Saturday off, Thursday for Amanda's visit. I do have that extra-early Sunday, but I'll be off with plenty of time to get to Dad and Jodie's for the Eagles-Dolphins game.

Went home and did one last Match Game episode and the interview with Brett Somers while putting everything away. Spent the next hour and a half rearranging the living room. I now had an open crate, but I just couldn't find room to put it another empty crate anywhere. They didn't fit between the table and the cookbook shelves - the narrow folding shelf went there, with the Marvel and DC superhero movies added to the Star Wars and James Bond films and straight dramas. I still have one that I can't figure out what to do with for the life of me.

Moved on to fanfic for an hour or so after I finally finished messing with the furniture. Patti shows them what happened via an image in Donald's coffee cup. Malade, posing as a sea witch, got her to admit that she liked the human she'd rescued and wanted to get to know him. She gives her a potion that will turn her tail into legs...but at the price of her unique voice and contact with her family.

Broke for dinner at quarter after 7. Had leftover tuna casserole while watching the Rankin-Bass Frosty the Snowman. Frosty comes to life after a group of kids place a magician's discarded hat on his head. They're delighted with their new friend...but the greedy magician wants his hat back, now that he knows what it can really do. He pursues Frosty, his former rabbit who lived in the hat, and the little girl who befriended Frosty all the way up to the North Pole. When he does harm Frosty, Santa may be the only one who knows how to set things right.

Finished the night after a shower with Buzzr. They've advertised their "Black Friday Frenzy" event for weeks now. This basically means "championship episodes of all their shopping shows," namely Supermarket Sweep, Sale of the Century, and its much-reviled 2008 remake Temptation. Sweep ran two new-to-me episodes from the end of "Double Your Money Week." The three couples with the highest sweeps at the end of the week came back for a shot at winning 5,000 more dollars. I'm guessing these were from the early 2000's run. Everyone's hair is much flatter, the clothes are less colorful, and David Ruprecht traded weird-patterned sweaters for weird-patterned ties.

Sale of the Century was pretty much the same as what little I saw in the few weeks it was on during prime time in October and early November, a classy cross between Jeopardy and an upscale The Prices Is Right. The Jeopardy aspect was mostly ditched for Temptation, which came to the US via a successful Australian version. Here, you earn money for prizes by playing mini games rather than direct questions, a lot of the prizes are packages like baking lessons with dancing lessons, and you only choose one prize in the bonus round, rather than gradually working up to winning all of them.

The show was apparently a major flop on this side of the Pacific; no one's touched the format in the US since besides the Buzzr reruns. Granted, it does look a little cheap, but it was fun to play along. I do wish the host hadn't been so annoying, though, even jumpier than Ruprecht and trying way too hard to be upbeat.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

To My Sister's House I Go

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I began mine with the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. They feature a short story on the first Thanksgiving, as well as several poems and the old song "Over the River and Through the Woods."

The Disney anthology Storybookland has a short story set around Thanksgiving, "Pilgrim's Party." Mickey and the gang decide to do their Thanksgiving the old fashioned way and head into New England to have dinner with the pilgrims and Indians at Plymouth Rock. It's all fun and historical cosplay, until Pluto steals the turkey!

Kit Kitteredge isn't feeling too grateful in the last two chapters of Kit Learns a Lesson. It's the height of the Great Depression, and Kit is upset that they've taken in boarders that have invaded her home and worried that her father will have to leave town to find work. When she and her friends Ruthie and Sterling bring the food from their class charity drive to a soup kitchen, she makes a shocking discovery there...and learns how much she really has to be thankful for.

Had a quick breakfast while watching Garfield's Thanksgiving. Garfield's not too happy with his holiday celebration, either. Liz the Veterinarian put him on a strict diet, right before John invited her for Thanksgiving dinner. Jon has never cooked a turkey dinner in his life, and his mind is really more on romance anyway. Good thing Grandma Arbuckle from the Christmas special comes around to make things right.

Watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on YouTube for the next few hours. A lot of folks were worried that the high winds today would discourage them from using the balloons, but they did eventually let them fly. They just kept them low to the ground. My favorites of the new balloons I hadn't seen before were the adorable Green Eggs and Ham one with Sam I Am and his buddy driving the ham and Astronaut Snoopy, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in his bright colored space suit.

Worked on writing for an hour after the parade ended. Donald is happily watching his date eat every bit of seafood at the booth, in their shells, when the others arrive. Gene tells her that they know she's the Princess Patti and that the queen is after her. What they don't know is how she ended up on land. Patti reveals the reflection in a rain barrel to tell them what happened...

Headed out for Rose's house around 12:30, with the two loaves of bread and the box with the remaining Kimberly-Clark items I wanted to give her. At least it was a nice day for a stroll. While it was just as windy here as in New York, it was also mostly sunny and warmer than you might think, probably in the lower 50's. (Definitely better than the lower 30 degree temperatures we had at Thanksgiving last year.)

Rose's small house was full when I arrived. Mom, my brother Keefe, and his new wife Julia had arrived from Cape May County earlier this morning; Keefe and Julia drove up to Mom's house in the Villas from Virginia a few days ago. Evidently, Keefe and Julia decided it would be easier to not go through all the hassle and cost of a big wedding and got married in front of a justice of the peace a few months ago. (No one around here tells me anything.)

There was a huge spread out in the dining room. Everyone gathered around plates of cheese and Triscuits and Vegetable Thins, a vegetable tray with home-made ranch dressing, a home-made cheese ball, and pumpkin butter and blackberry jam. Khai mostly hung out on the bunk beds in his room, watched cartoons, and avoided us. Kelsey the Miniature Pincher tried to snitch food, while Lynx the striped cat wound through ankles and his sister Toothless the black cat kept out of sight as much as she could.

Two-year old Finley woke up as the first football game of the day between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears was on its second half. It was a real nail-biter of a game, too. Both teams played very well, but the Bears finally managed to push ahead in the end, 24-20.

Craig decided Finley needed to let off steam, so he, Keefe and I took her out into the backyard. She showed me her big blue sandbox and her brother's hula hoop. Craig and Keefe discussed where they want to put the new fence that will replace the ragged wooden one that currently sits on the property.

After the game, Rose switched on a show called Bubble Guppies for Finley to keep her occupied and away from the food. Bubble Guppies revolves around six mer-kids and their mer-puppy who discuss either discuss a top relevant to toddlers, like fire fighters or dentists, or do a spoof of adventures or pulp fiction. The first one we saw was a fairy tale that had two of the mer-kids figure out how to gather the ingredients to restore their Bubble-Puppy after a witch turns him into a frog.

Finley found the contents of my purse to be more interesting. I showed her my wallet, coupon holder, cell phone, and my "lucky piece," but she really liked my note pad that I mainly use to write down story ideas when I'm in a restaurant or have to wait somewhere. I let her scribble her own "story ideas" on several of the blank pages.

We finally ate dinner around 4. It was an absolute feast. The turkey was huge, juicy, and so, so flavorful! Along with favorites like sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, and rolls, Rose made brown sugar baby carrots and replaced the gunky green bean casserole with sauteed green beans with fried onions and bacon bits. Oh, yum! She really outdid herself. I loved it all, especially the sweet potatoes and green beans.

Mom, Julia, and Keefe joined Finley and I for Bubble Guppies after dinner. They weren't terribly amused. As cute as the show is, it never addresses the problem that many of the activities shown - like fighting fires and chasing dragons - simply can't be done under the water and aren't logical. I say they were over analyzing things a bit. It's just a show for young kids. They can learn what's real and what isn't. I ignored them and showed Finley a Match Game marathon on my cell phone.

Everyone was more than a little worn out by the time dessert was on the table. Mom is still getting the hang of her smaller stove and burnt the crust on her pumpkin pie...but the filling was just as tasty. Rose bought apple and cherry tarts and Italian cookies from Desserts By Design in Audubon. I enjoyed the pie and apple tart with real, home-made whipped cream.

Finley went into the shower after we finished eating, allowing the rest of us to switch to the last quarter of the Bills-Cowboys game. The Bills were already kicking their rears when we came in, 26-7. The Cowboys managed to get a touchdown and a two-point conversion shortly after we started watching, but it wasn't enough. They ultimately lost 26-15.

Craig and Keefe drove me home. Rose deemed the old microwave cart in the basement too grimy to be saved, but she was able to give me a book shelf and a computer chair. The chair is sort of rickety and I may not keep it, but the shelf is perfect for my bedroom and will work just fine. I'll put the books in it tomorrow. She also gave me a huge bag of leftovers to take home.

Finished the night with Meet Me In St. Louis. I go further into this classic tale of the year in a life of a family preparing for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Meet Me In St. Louis

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Bread Baking Day

Started off a cloudy morning with early work. Spent it the same way I did yesterday's shift - gathering carts. I never even got to inside sweeping this time. I was alone for almost the entire morning and early afternoon. Another bagger didn't come in until 1:30. Kept up with the carts as best I could. Thankfully, the crowds seemed more off and on then crazy, though I ran into Rose's husband Craig coming out with a bag at one point, and he said it was really busy. While the clouds lingered all day and it got windy later, it was also relatively warm, in the upper 50's, and never rained.

Hurried home as soon as I finished. Changed and had a quick snack, then started the pumpkin bread. For many years, I always brought pumpkin, cranberry, and cinnamon swirl bread to Thanksgiving. I bought Pillsbury bread mixes in college, but after I moved on my own, I started making the pumpkin and cranberry from scratch. The recipe for the pumpkin bread comes from a fall baking pamphlet I picked up at the Acme in Wildwood around 2003. It's a very simple and moist one-bowl recipe I've used for pumpkin bread gifts every year since. It took a little while to bake and did come out a bit dark on the bottom, but it still smelled wonderful in the oven.

Watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles while I worked. Advertising executive Neil Page (Steve Martin) wants badly to go home to Chicago for his family's big Thanksgiving dinner. He thinks it'll be a simple plane ride, but a terrible blizzard strands the plane in Wichita. Neil ends up partnering with a chatty and occasionally annoying shower curtain salesman, Del Griffth (John Candy), to get him home. Del is a very nice and well-meaning man, but he's also a mass of bad habits who drives him crazy. As the two travel across the frozen Midwestern landscape, Neil gradually begins to understand why Del is on the road...and why he has a real reason to be thankful.

Mostly enjoyable adult comedy with career-best performances by Martin and Candy and a few hilarious set pieces, including their confrontation after Del makes a mess in the hotel and the entire sequence with the car on the highway. Even when it makes a sudden left turn into sentimentality towards the end of the film, it's still a lot of fun to watch.

Worked on writing even before the bread was out of the oven. After Malade leaves King Allen to stew in the dungeon, Gene falls back, his magic spent. Brett and Charles get him out into the sun, where Richard and Nipsey greet them. They spent the time lifting money in the marketplace and intend to give it to the poor in the country where Nipsey's cousins live a few miles away. They go to retrieve Donald and his new friend, who are quite enjoying themselves at lunch, and tell him who she really is.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while watching Molly's Pilgrim. Molly is the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants in the 1980's who are new to the US. She's not at all happy in her new home. The other kids make fun of her old-fashioned clothes, the borscht she brings to lunch instead of peanut butter and jelly, and her strange accent. Her teacher wants the class to make pilgrim and Indian dolls for a Thanksgiving project, but Molly's mother makes a Russian woman. The kids are puzzled at first, until their teacher explains that Molly and her family came to this country for religious freedom...and that makes them pilgrims, too.

Took a desperately needed bath after Molly ended. My legs hurt like heck after two days of non-stop running back and forth with carts. I listened to Christmas jazz, looked over a book of Christmas cake decorating ideas and another on holiday history in the mid-20th century, and enjoyed the relaxation.

Finished the night with Thanksgiving specials on YouTube. Here's a whole bunch to tide you over until the big dinner tomorrow.

Animated Hero Classics: William Bradford
Rankin-Bass: The Mouse on the Mayflower
Nickelodeon Thanksgiving Fest 1989
Care Bear Family: Grams Bear's Thanksgiving Surprise
Casper the Ghost Classic: Do or Diet - Thanksgiving Special
Calvin and the Colonel: Thanksgiving Dinner (B&W)
Saturday Supercade: QBert - Thanksgiving for the Memories
Tex Avery at MGM: Jerky Turkey
The Bernstein Bears Meet Big Paw

If you can't get online tomorrow, I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving with everyone you love!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Warm for November

The Acme called this morning as I read the book on Thanksgiving history Linda Young sent me a few years ago in bed. Could I come in an hour early? They really needed help bagging. Sure, but I had to eat breakfast first. I also needed to unplug the refrigerator, load the food in the freezer into a Styrofoam cooler, and spread towels on the floor so the freezer could defrost. It had gotten so bad, I was having trouble closing it.

Ran the Thanksgiving episode of Perfect Strangers while I got moving. In "Wild Turkey" from the seventh season, Larry's latest scheme has him buying a flock of live turkeys to sell right before Thanksgiving. His wife Jennifer is convinced one ate her wedding ring. Larry and Balki have to invade a family's home right before dinner in order to check and see if that turkey ate the ring.

For once, they had a good reason for calling me in early. We were on-and-off steady all day. Not only is it two days before the major food holiday of the year, but Tuesday is our Senior Discount Day. I spent the entire day alternating between gathering carts and sweeping the store. At least it was a gorgeous day for it. The sun was out, the sky was clear, and it was so warm, I did carts the whole afternoon in my shirtsleeves, with no need for a coat.

Went straight home after I finished. The refrigerator had about 95 percent defrosted. The back was still a little iced, but I was able to get the ice off everywhere else. Swept the ice into the sink, then cleaned up the water and hung the wet towels to dry.

Made a simple, hearty dinner of a salmon patty (it's too big to be a burger), roasted turnip chips, and sauteed Brussels sprouts and turnip greens. Ate them with home-made cranberry sauce while listening to A Victorian Christmas. Since I read about Thanksgiving in the Victorian era this morning, I thought I'd listen to holiday music from that era, including both well-known favorites like "The Holly and the Ivy" and lesser-known hymns like "Jacob's Ladder."

Worked on writing for an hour after dinner. She taunts Allen, telling him that she already has the Princess of Water under her thumb and will use her to get the kingdom. Allen refuses her last entreaty to join their kingdoms. Charles is horrified when she turns to a troll who oddly resembles Sir Dick Gautier.

Finished the night with the 1960 TV version of Peter Pan with Mary Martin. I go further into this much-loved small-screen fantasy at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Peter Pan (1960)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Getting Ready For the Holidays

Kicked off a glorious, sunny morning with gingerbread pancakes for breakfast, then some holiday baking. Since the cranberry bread recipe I've used for the past few years tends to not want to cook in the middle, I thought I'd try a slightly different one on the back of the Ocean Spray fresh cranberries bag. It was pretty much the same as the other one, only using oil instead of butter. That seems to have done the trick. It cooked beautifully and smelled wonderful in the oven, and I pulled it out of the pan with no trouble.

Ran Babes In Toyland while I worked. I discussed the delightful 1961 Disney version of this venerable fantasy musical at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog last November.

Babes In Toyland (1961)

Switched to Jack of All Trades while I turned the rest of the bag of cranberries into Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce. This spoof swashbuckler sitcom somehow managed to squeeze a Thanksgiving episode, "One, Two, Three, Give Me Lady Liberty," into its second season. Emilia is concerned when midget emperor Napoleon builds a massive female statue carrying a torch and claims he intends to give it to the US as a gift. Jack first distracts him with an old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner, and then with another modern Thanksgiving tradition - football!

Did a Disney cartoon as I ate a fast lunch and did the dishes. Mickey Mouse is "The Grocery Boy" in a black and white short that has him delivering food for Minnie's big dinner. He even helps with the cooking. It's all fun and dancing,  until Pluto steals the turkey!

Went out around 12:30 to run a few errands, starting at the Oaklyn Library. Wanted to get this week's volunteering session in there before the holiday. It was a good time to. Between the holiday and the lovely weather, they weren't busy at all. One guy came in to ask if he could hang up a flyer for his local train show. Other than that, the only people there were the librarian and the politicians on CNN. I organized DVDs, Newberry books, and holiday books, then headed out.

Made a few quick stops on the White Horse Pike next. Didn't see what I was looking for at Dollar General, but they had baking soda for really cheap. Been meaning to replace the one I have in the fridge for ages. Picked up a quick birthday gift for my brother Keefe and a Christmas present for my friend Amanda at CVS.

It was too nice to go home right away. The breeze was fresh, the sky was a searing blue, and it was fairly warm for November, in the upper 50's. I rode down to WaWa on the other side of Oaklyn to see if they had Cinnamon Coke. I saw 12-packs of cans at the Acme, but not the bottles. I almost never have problems finding limited-edition soda flavors at WaWa, and today was no exception. They were almost hidden on the end of the Coke cooler. I grabbed a bottle, bought it, and headed out.

(And by the way, if you love Coke and cinnamon and can find a bottle, grab it. It definitely tastes like cinnamon, kind of like a cinnamon stick was brewed in there.)

It was so nice outside, I grabbed my broom and finally swept the porch. I put it off forever, but the leaves had built up around the back of the house near my door and were starting to blow into my kitchen. They really aren't that hard to get rid of. There's enough of a gap between the railings and the porch to fit piles of leaves through. It's harder to do the ends that are blocked off. I really had to stretch to get everything off those.

Ran two shorts while getting organized. "Mickey's Good Deed" is one of my favorite Disney holiday shorts. Mickey and Pluto are facing a homeless Christmas in the midst of the Great Depression. Mickey gives up what means most to him to provide food and toys for a mother and her kittens, and gets a wonderful surprise in the end.

A turkey's trying to escape Pilgrim Porky in "Tom Turk and Daffy." He desperately begs Daffy for help. Daffy hides him, then distracts Porky...until the porcine Puritan gets fed up and decides duck isn't such a horrible thing to have for Thanksgiving dinner.

Worked on writing for the rest of the afternoon. Gene manages to gather enough magic to allow them to watch the evil queen Malade through the reflection in a rain barrel. Yes, she is holding King Allen (Ludden) hostage. She almost throws herself at him in an attempt to get him to give up his kingdom and tell her where his wife and the Legendary Princesses are, but the Password, in this case, is 'no.' He knows Betty is alive, but that's all. He doesn't know where she or the other women and their champions are, and he wouldn't give them away even if he did.

Broke for dinner at 6. Made tuna-noodle casserole from The Mickey Mouse Cookbook while watching Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving. It's a happy holiday in the 100 Acre Woods as Pooh and his friends celebrate the arrival of fall and winter. Rabbit dresses Piglet as a groundhog to find out when spring is, then gets upset when it turns out it's only November. Pooh and the others are ready for a Thanksgiving of haycorns, honey, and hot chocolate ice cream, but Rabbit butts in and tells them that's just not how the big feast is done. After many shenanigans with catching a turkey and exploding pumpkin pies, it's Pooh who finally teaches the finicky bunny that Thanksgiving is about who you're with, not what you eat. At Christmas, Rabbit tells the others the story of how he rescued a baby bird named Kessie, then had a hard time letting her go when she grew old enough to fly south for the winter.

Switched to Muppet Family Christmas as I cleaned up and had dessert. Fozzie's Ma gets quite a shock when he brings all of the Muppet Show performers to her farm for the holidays, and the Sesame Street residents join in later. Ma's nonplussed, to say the least - she was going to go away for the holidays - and Doc and Sprocket from Fraggle Rock aren't happy that their quiet holidays are no longer so peaceful. Kermit's more concerned about Miss Piggy being out in a major snowstorm.

Finished the night after a shower with An American Christmas Carol. Benedict Slade (Henry Winkler) is the owner of a repossession business in a small New England town during the Great Depression. He takes charge of the townspeople's goods to resell with no shame and fires his clerk when he suggests they open the quarry, giving people more money...and him less business. He finally learns a lesson when three strange spirits show him his past working for a small local furnishing business, and his employee's family and ailing son in the present...and what will happen to him in the future if he doesn't change his ways.

Not bad TV movie from the late 70's. Winkler does fairly well as the Scrooge figure under a pound of make-up. Gerry Parkes and David Wayne are better as the older men whose possessions he takes...and who appear as the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Past in his mind to show him how he needs to learn to change and help others.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sleepy Day In the Rain

Began a rainy morning with my second early work shift in a row. I started off doing carts as the rain slowed to a fine mist. Turned the carts over to another bagger when he came in and spent most of the rest of the morning and early afternoon shelving three full carts of loose items. Unlike yesterday, it did get really busy between 11 and 1...and this time, we didn't have enough help to deal with it. I ended up in the registers, including for almost an hour when I was supposed to go on break. As soon as the Eagles-Seahawks game started, the crowds left. I spent the last hour and a half cleaning up a spill, helping a nice older lady to her car, and taking a quick look at the bathrooms.

It poured at one point late in the morning, but thankfully, by the time I headed home, the rain was long gone and the sun was starting to emerge. I changed and had ginger cookies and almond milk while listening to the game. I'm glad I opted not to go to Dad's. Neither the Seahawks nor the Eagles played terribly well. The Eagles were down 10-3 at halftime. I tried laying on the loveseat in the living area to listen to the second half, but it just wasn't comfortable. Gave up around quarter of 3 and ended up in my bed for another nap.

(It's just as well. Though the Eagles got another field goal, it still wasn't enough to get around a ton of mistakes. The Seahawks won 17-9.)

A phone call from Charlie downstairs woke me up around 4. There was a package for me downstairs. That was a surprise. I hadn't ordered anything. Turned out this year's Kimberly-Clark box came really early. Lauren and her parents own stock in the paper products company and send me a box of samples every year. It normally comes in mid-December, but I'm actually kind glad they sent it now. I'll keep the small and large packs of tissues and the Viva paper towel roll and will give everything else - including the box - to Rose on Thanksgiving.

Worked on writing for a while after I got everything organized. While Donald shows his new friend the delights of the marketplace, Gene, Brett, and Charles ask if anyone has been reported lost in a shipwreck. No they haven't, says a dark-haired shopkeeper who admonishes his models not to wear furs, but would you like to put a bid on an icebox?

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Made scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach, and mushrooms, then finished the night with a couple of Christmas cast albums and soundtracks. Here's Love is a stage musical version of Miracle on 34th Street with songs by Meredith Wilson, of Music Man fame. It didn't do nearly as well as that show at the time, running only a few months. While it's no masterpiece, some of the songs aren't bad. Wilson's holiday hit from the 50's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" is sung with the new "Pinecones and Holly Berries" in a charming number. I also like "My Wish" for little Susan and Fred Gaily the lawyer, "That Man Over There" for Mr. Macy at the trial when he declares Kris Kringle to be Santa, and the rousing title song.

Scrooge is one of many musical versions of A Christmas Carol, this one from 1970. Albert Finney is the world's most famous miser here, singing a great Leslie Bricusse score. "Thank You Very Much" was the Oscar-nominated hit. I also like the festive "December the 25th" for the Fezziwigs at their ball, "Christmas Children" as Bob Cratchit, and the Ghost of Christmas Present's manifesto "I Like Life."

Finished the night with the soundtrack from an 80's Christmas Carol tale, Scrooged. Most of the music in this Bill Murry black comedy retelling is generic 80's pop, but there's some decent songs here. The most famous would be the Annie Lennox-Al Green rendition of "Put a Little Love In Your Heart," which plays over the credits and occasionally turns up on the radio during the holidays.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Some Other World

Began a partly cloudy day with work. It wasn't quite as busy as I figured it would be on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Considering how early I was there, a lot of people may have been at holiday bazaars, local sports, or other events. It helped that we had plenty of people up front, including two other baggers. Got a box of gift cards hung on the kiosk and a few other displays, but mainly alternated between gathering carts and shelving a full cart of loose items.

Had a couple of snacks when I got home and changed. Watched Gift of the Night Fury while I ate. This How to Train Your Dragon special introduces us to Snoggletog, the Vikings' main winter holiday. They're all excited to celebrate it with their new friends, until the dragons all take off for parts unknown. While the other kids try to create new traditions to improve their parents' holiday, Hiccup follows one of the dragons to figure out where they disappeared to.

Hit the sack after the cartoon ended. I worked early today and was up at least a little late with Lauren last night. I needed a nice nap. Got up after a half-hour feeling at least a little bit refreshed, managing to ignore the chatter from Charlie and his buddies and animals downstairs.

Did a little writing after that. Unlike the prince in The Little Mermaid, Donald is smart enough to figure out that this is the girl who rescued him. She's mute, however, and can't give them any further details, other than her legs pain her badly when she stands. Brett manages to get her dressed, and a smitten Donald manages to suggest they have lunch in the town square.

I got so caught up online, it was past 7 when I broke for dinner. Had leftovers while running Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales. Bugs and the other Toons appear in three original shorts about the holidays. Yosemite Sam is Ebeneezer Scrooge, with Bugs as Nephew Fred and Porky as Bob Cratchit, in the first one. The second takes us to the Rocky Mountains, as Wil E. Coyote and the Road Runner move their usual antics into the snow-covered peaks. Bugs deals with the Tasmanian Devil in a Santa Claus suit eating him out of house and home in the third.

Finished the night after a shower with FernGully: The Last Rainforest. I go further into this environmental fable at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Ferngully: The Last Rainforest

Friday, November 22, 2019

Rainy Day Blues

Started a cloudy morning with breakfast and one of my favorite rare holiday specials, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas. Ted E. Bear (Tom Smothers) is curious about Christmas. Most bears hibernate from December through spring and have never experienced it. Every bear at the Honey Works, including his girlfriend Patti (Barbara Felton) and his sleepy roommate Honey (Michael Bell) thinks he's crazy, but he's determined to stay awake and see Christmas. He wanders into the city, where he finds noise, toys in a window, and a Santa Claus (Robert Holt) who leads him to a home where he finally discovers what the holidays are all about.

Headed out to work shortly after the cartoon ended. It was on-and-off busy, not as bad as I thought it would be. I couldn't mop the floors in the bathroom because they were out of the cleaner - they weren't really that bad anyway, and I was able to do everything else. I mainly swept floors and gathered carts in the rain that began somewhere around 11.

Wasn't happy with my schedule next week. I switched with a teenager who didn't mind working holidays to get Thanksgiving off, but turns out I couldn't replace the hours. I'm surprised I didn't have more hours. At least I'll get to see the Collingswood Christmas Parade next Saturday.

I figured I deserved the best for lunch after all that, so I went to Tu Se Bella Pizza. Got a slice of mushroom, a slice of shrimp and broccoli, and a bottle of Orange Vanilla Coke Zero. They make the best pizza in the area, with the most creative toppings. I needed something hot and creative at that point. While it had stopped raining by then, it remained humid and gloomy.

Wanted to get as much grocery shopping done today as possible. I don't want to contemplate how busy the stores will be from now through Wednesday! I was thrilled to find Belvita's amazing Gingerbread Cookies. There was only one box left, and I had an online coupon. Had a free coupon for 18-count eggs from Acme's Grocery Rewards Program and another online one for Talenti Gelato. Dug Crest Pro-Health toothpaste off the clearance shelves. Needed milk and orange juice for the cranberry bread I'll be making next week. Red pears were on a good sale. Restocked tangerines, cranberries, conditioner, jam, oranges, cheese, yogurt, butter, chicken drumsticks, cake mix, cereal (the Acme's generic Corn Chex), and sugar.

Cheered myself up with two Match Game episodes while I put everything away. Brett, Charles, and Betty White all debuted together during the third week of the show in 1973. Brett teased Charles right away, reminding everyone that he doesn't (and apparently, never did) wear socks. Charles wasn't around for her to make fun of in an episode from a few weeks later, so she teased Richard (whom she was sitting next to at that point) instead.

Worked on writing for a while. The girl they found awakens...and reveals she can't talk. Even so, Donald swears she's familiar. She tries to make her legs look like a fish tail, but Charles and Brett don't quite understand.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers, then made Ginger Cookies from that one-bowl cookie cookbook Lauren sent me a while back. I burnt the first batch, but not so badly that they weren't edible. The second came out fine.

Finished the night with The Nutcracker: A Fantasy On Ice. I dubbed the version from the early 80's with Dorothy Hamill as Clara and Robin Cousins as the title character. Lorne Greene narrates the story to his granddaughter. This version ran frequently on cable in the early-mid 80's. It was likely the very first version of The Nutcracker I saw, well before I knew it was a ballet.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Busy November

Slept in a bit this morning. I won't have the chance to for the rest of the week! When I did roll out of bed, I had breakfast while watching A Nutcracker Scoob. The first of four Scooby Doo holiday episodes and specials takes place during the early 80's shows with Daphne, Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy. Fred joins them at an orphanage, where they're helping the kids prepare for their annual Christmas pageant. A mean old miser may condemn their home before the show can go on...and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come may not let it! Mystery Inc has to figure out what the ghost is really after and keep the orphans from being thrown out.

Went off to the first errand of the day shortly after the show ended. Really wanted to get the laundry done. They were fairly busy - I took the last inexpensive washer open. Thankfully, they'd mostly cleared out by the time my small load was in the dryer. I worked on story notes and ignored The View and Action News.

Got everything put away, then had yogurt, home-made whole berry cranberry sauce, and the last pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin for lunch. Ran Very Merry Christmas Songs as background music while I got things done. This is the DVD expansion of the original 1989 Disney Sing-a-Long Songs video. We used to watch the original video right after getting home from the last day of school before Christmas break in the late 80's-early 90's. Disney added another half-hour's worth of songs for the disc, mostly accompanying sequences from various holiday-themed direct-to-home-media movies and cartoons. Some of the better additions include "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee and the Bing Crosby "White Christmas."

Headed back out after I'd cleaned up from lunch. Took the long way into Westmont across Newton Lake Park. It was an absolutely glorious day, sunny, breezy, and relatively warm, probably in the lower-mid 50's. The park is definitely all the way into in fall now, with grass turning yellow and leaves shades of orange and gold. I was surprised it wasn't busier. I saw a few people going for a stroll and some families leaving the playground, and that was it.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't busy, either. It must have been earlier. The DVD return cart was so full, I focused entirely on the kids' titles and had plenty to do. Even with new items, all but one title fit easily with room left.

They fit easily because the library is still clearing DVDs out of the kids' section. I didn't take out any movies this week - I don't know what my schedule will be like next week or if I'll have the time to return them - but I did grab a bunch more freebies. Picked up Paddington, the Shirley Temple vehicle Little Miss Broadway, the Scooby holiday/winter collection Scooby Doo and the Snow Creatures, the Peanuts collection Snoopy & Friends, and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.

Stopped at Target on the way home. I needed a new head for my electric toothbrush. A quick sweep through the toy section didn't reveal anything for my dolls, but did bring up a Fortnite action figure for my nephew Khai for Christmas (on clearance, too). Surprisingly, despite it being almost rush hour, they weren't busy at all. I was in and out in less than 20 minutes.

Worked on writing when I got home. Donald manages to get the unconscious - and naked - woman over to the others. They find a room at an Inn, where she rests and the others buy supplies for the journey. Brett comes into their rooms with clothes for Donald, her, and Charles...just as she's starting to wake up...

Broke for dinner around quarter after 6. Had leftovers while watching Little Miss Broadway. I go further into this backstage Shirley Temple tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Little Miss Broadway

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Dolls and the Grinch

Began a cloudy morning with Mickey's Christmas Carol. The actual focus in this much-loved featurette is on Uncle Scrooge, who makes a perfect Ebeneezer Scrooge. Mickey is Bob Cratchit, with Donald as Nephew Fred. Goofy's a great Jacob Marley, and Big Pete was never so terrifying as the fire-and-brimstone Ghost of Christmas Future.

Had enough time for most of "Pluto's Christmas Tree" while I got ready for work. Mickey chops down Chip and Dale's pine tree home for his tree. They happily wander among the gaily colored baubles and candy canes...until Pluto figures out what they're up to and tries to chase them out.

Work was on-and-off steady all morning. I'm a bit surprised it got as busy as it did, given we're in the middle of the week. Everyone must be finally starting to get ready for Thanksgiving. I alternated between shelving candy and gathering carts, fitting sweeping in shortly before I left.

By the time I was on my way out, the clouds had scuttled away, revealing a gorgeous, sunny, windy afternoon. I took the long way home down Nicholson Road. It was a little busy around the shopping center, but other than that, there were no problems. I enjoyed the wind waving through the sienna leaves and crackling gardens.

Put on some Match Game while making a Chocolate-Coffee Smoothie for lunch. A 1980 episode had Jamie Lee Curtis, impressionist Richard Paul, Betty White, and Bart Braverman from the action show Vega$ joining Gene, Brett, and Charles. Half the fun of this show is playing along at home - I love seeing how well I can match the stars myself.

I finally found Julie's purple paisley Christmas dress for a good price on eBay for Ariel. I wanted a 70's holiday outfit for her. I'm not a fan of Julie's original Christmas jumper. The crushed velvet jumper itself is nice, but the glittery gold tights and platforms go a little too much into mature territory for a 9-year-old. The current dress they have for Julie at AG is much cuter, but it's also bright pink - fine for a honey blonde, but not for a flaming redhead. There was a rip in the left sleeve, but it was in the back. It didn't come with the headband or shoes. The magenta Swiss lace headband from an Our Generation dress worked, and I actually liked the white t-strap shoes from Molly's Polka Dot Outfit better than the black t-straps that originally came with the dress. The white knit tights are so soft, I wish I had a pair.

Since I changed Ariel into her new holiday outfit, I figured I might as well change everybody. I might not have the chance to next week, anyway. Samantha is in her original Cranberry Christmas Dress with the ribbed tights and the red strap shoes from her green Spring Dress. Molly borrowed Sam's "meet" outfit strap shoes to go with her green velvet dress. Whitney is in the blue-violet velvet and tulle Snowflake Ball Gown from 2010 with a Springfield Collection shrug, black tights, and black velvet shoes. Jessa gets the red and gold brocade Chinese New Year's Outfit from the mid-90's modern collection. Josefina looks lovely in her original yellow and black striped Christmas Dress with the black mantilla and ruffled pantaloons. Felicity wears her bright blue Christmas Gown with Josefina's choker from her birthday outfit accessories.

Worked on writing after I finished the dolls. Donald and Bill literally dig up Donald's "goddess"...who turns out to be a long-faced redhead with reasonable curves and wide eyes (Patti Deustch). They try to bring the unconscious woman to the others...but there's something strange about her..

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Made Cincinatti Chili from Kit's Cooking Studio for dinner, along with sauteed Brussels sprouts and the last of the pop-can Sweet Hawaiian biscuits Added celery and sweet orange peppers to the chili for more snap and crunch.

Finished the night with The Grinch, another holiday movie from last November. Once again, all the Whos down in Whoville like Christmas a lot...but the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbach) still does not. This time, Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely) is the daughter of harried single mom Donna Who (Rashida Jones). She first encounters him at the supermarket, where he sarcastically tells her that she should ask Santa to get her mother some help. She decides to do just that, recruiting her friends to help her trap the real Santa Claus.

Meanwhile, the lonely Grinch, who spent his childhood as an orphan with no holidays, is tired of the Whos' noisy displays. He first invades their tree-lighting ceremony, then decides to steal their Christmas goodies. After his attempts to corral a yak to pull his stolen sleigh falls through, he dresses as Santa and makes his dog Max his reindeer. When they do execute their plan, the Grinch encounters Cindy Lou again at her house....and starts to have second thoughts about why he's doing this when Cindy tells her how much she wants Santa to help her mother.

Aww, this was awfully sweet, and a major improvement on the rather mean-spirited live-action Grinch movie from 2000. The colorful animation reflects the world of the Whos and the Grinch's home on Mount Crumpet equally well, and the Grinch's back story is mercifully limited to a few short scenes. Cindy's sincere desire to help her mom comes off much better than the preachy commercialism message in the live-action film did. Cumberbatch is just as good as Carey as the Grinch; Seely's an adorable Cindy, too. Nice score as well, both from Danny Elfman and the jazzy neo-swing numbers that accompany much of the comedy.

The movie does have some problems. I still say this simple picture book was never meant to be a feature-length film, no matter how good the animation or special effects are. There's a ton of padding in the middle and end of the movie, mainly useless slapstick scenes with Cindy and her buddies trying to trap Santa or the Grinch chasing "reindeer" or working on his plot. It can occasionally come off as too sugary or sweet.

If you have younger kids who may find the live-action version to be a bit too violent, they'll find much to enjoy in this more modern retelling.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Up In Haddonfield

Began a late morning with a quick breakfast. Switched to making Chocolate Chip-Orange Muffins while watching The Care Bears Nutcracker. A young girl named Anna is upset when her best friend moves away, and she has no one besides her adventure-obsessed little brother to talk to. Funshine and Grumpy Bear come down to assure her that friends are always close to our hearts...but before they get far, a nutcracker doll jumps out of a hole, followed by a group of nasty rats. They eventually travel back through the hole to help the Nutcracker save the Land of Sweets from the rats and the evil Vizier.

Ran the unusual Rankin-Bass special The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold while getting ready to head out for the afternoon. This is the only holiday show I know of to mix Christmas stories and Irish mythology. A young sailor chops down a Christmas tree on a phantom Irish island, inadvertently releasing a banshee. The banshee wants the gold of the little leprechaun (Art Carney) who lives on the island. If she doesn't get it by Christmas morning, she'll turn into tears and wash away. She tries tricking the leprechaun's family, then the young sailor. It's the latter that finally brings the leprechauns back together and teaches them the importance of forgiveness.

First stop on my schedule today was the Oaklyn Library. The librarians were working on last-minute details for the baskets they're going to auction at the American Legion building down the block on Saturday. I ignored their chatter about politics on CNN and worked on organizing DVDs and picture books in the kids' area.

Went straight from there to Haddonfield. Had enough time to quickly pop into the CVS on King's Highway to see if they had the Pantene curl formula. Yes, but it's not on sale this week. I moved on after a few minutes and just decided to actually make it to counseling a bit early this time.

I was mainly there for counseling. On one hand, my November has largely been going well, and Halloween was a lot of fun. The trouble is, while I'm making more money at work than I figured I would be, it's still not enough. I did finish that game show essay...that took me over two months to write. It's hard for me to focus, especially when I'm online.

I'm frustrated with my lack of progress on the job front. I get so nervous when I look up jobs online! It's easier for me to write an essay about my feelings than to sell myself or talk up myself. I'll look at the job descriptions, see that they need more experience than I have or abilities that I don't have, and I don't even bother with them. I also have a hard time separating a large goal - like finding a job - into smaller tasks. I get an idea, then get overwhelmed when I try to implement it. Happens with my stories, too. I have these huge ideas (like the fairy tale thing I'm doing now), and no idea of how to break them down into smaller ideas. Every time I try, it never works out.

Mrs. Stahl suggested I might have high-functioning autism. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I still don't think I have anything besides stress and cripplingly low confidence. All I want to know is how I can build up my confidence and push through my fear, so I can do what I love and make enough money from it to live.

(Incidentally, we're not going to be getting together again until late January. We both have too much going on next month for me to run up here.)

I cheered myself up with a tall Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte at the Starbucks a block from Mrs. Stahl's office. I literally just missed the crowd. Less than ten minutes after I ordered my tea, there was a line of kids just out of school asking for hot chocolate and iced tea. I enjoyed my treat on a soft leather armchair in the large back room, watching a fire in the tinsel-swagged fireplace as kids chattered and teens and adults worked on their phones and laptops.

Went straight home after I left Starbucks. Took the long way across Newton Lake Park to avoid the beginnings of the rush hour traffic. By the time I got there, the sun was slowly sinking beyond the horizon, casting a golden glow over the dried flowers and bushes on the lakeside and the yellow leaves on the trees. Walked my bike up the hill to the Haddon Township Environmental Center and Museum, enjoying the quiet and crackling leaves under my feet.

Did a little bit of writing when I got home. Gene insists that he could find the merfolk...if his magic was working right. Malade drained most of it. Donald has his own way of finding them. He asks Bill the wolf to follow his nose. Bill does find something laying on the shore...

I was mostly doing research on laptops. I asked Dad and Jodie for a new laptop for Christmas. The keys on my old one stick, the lettering is worn off of the ones I use the most, and I know turtles who update faster. My current laptop is so old, it was made by Toshiba. They stopped making laptops in 2016. I compared prices on Amazon and sent Dad an email with three suggestions.

Jodie called me minutes after I sent off my email, asking if I'd seen it. Yes, I did, and yes, I'd sent a response. She then called me again to compliment me on my excellent writing, even in an email. It was nice to get such a sweet compliment.

Finished the night with leftovers and Everybody Sing. I go further into this early Judy Garland vehicle at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Everybody Sing

Monday, November 18, 2019

Not Just a Girl

Began a gloomy morning with breakfast and The Nutcracker. I've watched the 1977 Mikhail Baryshnikov version almost every holiday season in one form or another since college. Stockton University (then College)'s media center had a copy of the video, and I used to traditionally watch it right before leaving for Christmas break. I found the video again about a decade ago, then picked up the DVD a few years back at the Collingswood Book Festival. Needless to say, this one throws far more focus on Clara (Gelsey Kirkland) and her Nutcracker Prince, including giving the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier's dances in the end to them.

Tried a new recipe while watching the ballet. Got "Skullduggery Squares" out of a Halloween check stand cookbook I got from a freebie basket at the Oaklyn Library. You mix up what amounts to pumpkin pie filling, sprinkle yellow cake mix over it, and slice butter over that. Not bad, when I finally had the time to bake it all. Kind of a pumpkin cake pudding square. In fact, when I make this at times other than Halloween, I'll call them Pumpkin Cake Squares.

Threw on a quick Disney short while getting ready for work. Mickey and the gang enjoy a day "On Ice." Mickey shows off for Minnie on skates, while Goofy has an unusual method for ice fishing. Donald teases Pluto by putting skates on him, but the dog gets the last laugh when the wind blows Donald dangerously close to a waterfall and Mickey has to rescue him.

Work was mostly pretty quiet. It rained lightly all morning and was just ending when I arrived. Alternated between gathering carts, shelving candy, and sweeping the entire day. By the time it was starting to get busier, I was on my way out.

Went straight into writing when I got in. Donald waits by the railing the whole week to see his mermaid "goddess" again, but she never appears. They finally arrive on-shore a week later with no idea of how to find the merfolk and the princess. Donald wanders onto shore with Bill the wolf and his sandy paws...and he's delighted with what he finds there...

Ended the night with leftover chicken and sweet Hawaiian biscuits and roasted Brussels Sprouts for dinner. Finally got around to watching Captain Marvel while I ate. Vers (Brie Larson) is the member of an elite squadron of aliens who defend the Kree Empire. Her mentor Yon-Vogg (Jude Law) is always telling her to hold back her emotions, which proves to be useful when she's captured by the Krees' mortal enemy, the Scrulls.

She escapes and ends up in Los Angeles, where she seeks the crystal that contains her memories. She also attracts the attention of agents Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who try to arrest her, only to be attacked by a Scrull disguised as Coulson. With the help of Fury and his boss Keller (Ben Mendalsson), she manages to get into a military installation and find the office of her old teacher Dr. Wendy Dawson (Annette Benning). Dawson created a device that could end the war between the Kree and the Skrulls. But all is not what it seems, and that includes Vers herself. With the help of her friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar), Vers remembers that her real name is Carol Danvers...and that she really doesn't need to prove what kind of a hero she is to anybody.

I really loved this one. Critics tended to compare it unfavorably to earlier Marvel films when it was released this spring, but I think it's a lot of fun. Larson is an awesome Carol Danvers, and Rambeau may be even more enjoyable as her sensible buddy. It was nice to see a younger Coulson and Fury (the latter with both eyes), too. I also liked Benning and Law as two very different mentors who want different things from Carol and her powers.

Is it derivative of other comic book heroes? Yeah, probably. Do I care? Not really. Supposedly, there's a sequel in the works - I hope they develop it fast. If you're a Marvel fan and are looking for sci-fi movie with a strong heroine, I'd fly a plane on over to check this one out.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Trouble With Eagles

Began a cloudy, gloomy day with work. Given it's a week and a half before Thanksgiving and there was an Eagles game later in the afternoon, we were busy all morning. I alternated between helping three other baggers gather carts and shelving four full carts of loose items. No problems whatsoever.

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. It was cloudy, cold, and windy, but not rainy or even humid. Dodged traffic around the Hispanic church, where a Thanksgiving dinner for the parish was in progress, as well as on Atlantic Avenue. Gardens are empty now, mainly leaves and slightly dry grass. Golden leaves fluttered down from the trees as I rode down Manor.

Made banana pancakes for lunch when I got in. Ran A Broadway Christmas while I ate. I found this CD at a thrift shop in the Villas about a year before I moved up here. It's a collection of both well-known holiday songs from musicals, and ones that were cut from musicals or come from ones that aren't as famous. Favorites from the latter category include the lovely "Christmas Eve" that was cut from She Loves Me, the intense "I Don't Remember Christmas" from the off-Broadway revue Starting Here, Starting Now, and the lost Irving Berlin number "The Happy New Year Blues." There's also an awesome 80's girl-group version of "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises.

Worked on writing for the next few hours. Donald, one of Richard's men, fell off the boat. A red-haired blur with a blue fish tail gets him on a log. He swears he saw a "goddess with a fish tail" when Nipsey and Richard drag him back on the ship. His friends think he was seeing things, but members of the crew speak of the merfolk who live under the waves and control the waters.

Headed out around 4:30 for the Eagles game. This being a late game, it was just Dad, Jodie, Mark, Jessa, and Midnight the puppy when I arrived. (Apparently, Rose and her crew were supposed to come, but there was some kind of trouble with Khai.) The Eagles were up 3 to 0 when I arrived. They played beautifully during the first half, but the Patriots roared back in the third quarter when the Eagles started making too many mistakes. The Eagles finally lost 17-10.

Jodie kept things simple, ordering cheese and pepperoni pizzas and hot wings about a half-hour after the game started. We had them right before halftime. I nearly drowsed off during the fourth quarter after dinner, and I almost wish I had. Jodie must have said ten times in a row that she thought the Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz was a good player but a bad leader. That's fine, it's her opinion...but she and Mark didn't have to keep going on and on about it.

(And incidentally, Jodie told me that next week's Eagles game was moved to 1 PM for some reason. She says she won't be cooking - she has a bridal shower. It'll be the weekend before Thanksgiving. It's more than likely I'll be too tired to go anywhere but work and home anyway.)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Windy Fall Harvest

Kicked off a quick morning with breakfast and more Magic School Bus. The kids are "Getting Energized" when they have to figure out how to get the Ferris wheel at their school carnival moving without using electric power. With the help of Carlos' wheelchair-bound cousin Mike, they figure out how to harness wind, water, and solar power to get rocks up that'll turn the Ferris wheel up the mountain.

They're "Out of This World" after Dorothy Ann has a nightmare about an asteroid destroying their school. Ms. Frizzle takes the kids out into space in a sci-fi spoof to teach them about meteors, asteroids, and other space debris. They finally figure out how to get the asteroid to go on an axis around the Magic School Bus and toss it out of orbit.

Today is the second-to-last day of the Collingswood Farm Market, which always ends the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but it's the last day I'll be able to get there. Maybe it's just as well. The increasingly frigid weather was reflected in a distinct lack of fruit and vegetable stands. It's more than half craft booths now. There was enough left for me to buy cranberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, small apples, and spinach.

Took the long way back to Oaklyn across Newton Lake Park. Though it was sunny and bright, it was also chilly, with gale-force winds blasting me alongside the rippling waters. The trees glowed golden along the path.

Headed down Newton Road to volunteer at the library. They were fairly busy for them. A pleasant young couple came in to ask the librarian about taking out library cars. A few folks chatted with her while I looked over the DVDs and children's books.

It was too cold to linger for much longer. I went straight home after that and didn't go anywhere else. Got organized and had a quick lunch while finishing out The Magic School Bus. When Liz the Lizard goes missing, Wanda discovers she's at "Herp Haven," a resting place for reptiles run by an eccentric Brit (Michael York). They and the bus turn into reptiles to learn more about cold-blooded animals and how they have to move around to regulate their body temperature in "Cold Feet."

The season finished on a strong note with the Loch Ness Monster spoof "Ups and Downs." A talk show hostess (Cindy Williams) claims she saw a monster in the middle of the local lake. Wanda is determined to find it, but first, Ms. Frizzle and the class have to figure out how to get the Bus to sink, then how to make it rise when they figure out what's really going on.

Scientific concepts may have changed in the intervening 20 years since this came out, but the charm and hilarity of the show didn't. Lily Tomlin does great as the world's strangest and most enthusiastic science teacher, and she's backed by the genuinely funny kids and a great guest voice cast. There's also the segments in the last five minutes that explain what's real, what isn't, and goes slightly more into the topic.

I haven't seen the current Netflix show, but if your kids have read the books or love science (and can understand that some of the information here is a little dated), they may have a lot of fun with this one.

Worked on a lot of writing after lunch. Finally finished that game show essay. I'll see if I can at least start on another one to post about my association with malls before the holidays really kick in.

Even got pretty far on the fanfic. Almost everyone except for Gene and Bill (who are badly seasick) are enjoying their trip across Andersen Bay. Charles finally asks Brett why she never told them she was a princess. She didn't want to attract Malade's attention...and she kind of liked just being one of the crowd and working with the bandits. They don't get much further into the subject before Donald, one of Richard's men, falls overboard. Help is on the way, though, from a most unlikely source...

Broke early for dinner, around 5:30. I wanted to make a nice, big, warm meal for a cold day. Defrosted chicken legs for Merlin's Magic (Baked) Chicken, then dug a recipe for sauteed Brussels sprouts and onions out of one of my vintage cookbooks. (Made sure not to boil the sprouts for as long as they called for. Boil them too long, and they don't smell so great.) I grabbed "Sweet Hawaiian" biscuits from the Acme yesterday, and they were just rich and buttery enough to be a wonderful compliment.

Watched the Daniel Tiger's Winter Wonderland set while I ate and cleaned up afterwards. Daniel and Miss Elaina want to enjoy "A Snowy Day" and be snow astronauts. Daniel thinks he can wear his astronaut helmet outside, but it turns out to be too cold for anything but a warm hat.

"Daniel's Winter Adventure" takes him, Dan Sr, and Prince Tuesday for a ride on a sled, and then ice skating for the first time. Little Dan is nervous about trying all these new sports. His father assures him that he and Wednesday can do a little at a time until they get used to them.

The "Neighborhood Nutcracker" gives Dan an even greater reason to be nervous. Henrietta and Katerina Pussycat asks him to step in for an ailing Prince Wednesday as the Nutcracker in their ballet. He's scared he won't learn all the steps, but the ladies help him out.

Wednesday and Daniel join Baker Aker to make and decorate trolley cookies for the town. They make "Baking Mistakes," but Aker shows them how to fix them.

Finished the night with the live-action Beauty and the Beast from 2017. I go further one of Disney's earlier remakes at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Friday, November 15, 2019

Ride On the Magic School Bus

Began a gorgeous, sunny morning with The Magic School Bus. Based after the series of science-based books, this cartoon revolves around the outrageous "field trips" that Ms. Frizzle (Lily Tomlin) and her students go on in a bus that can change into whatever the subject of the day is. Case in point is the second season opener, "Blows It's Top." The kids are excited when Ms. Frizzle claims there's an island somewhere that hasn't been discovered - or even created - yet. Dorothy Ann, who always looks up the subject of the day in her books, insists on going after them when she drops her back in the ocean. While the others join her, goofy Carlos and ever-nervous Arnold stay on a boat over the water. But the mountain under the ocean isn't as benign as the kids think...and it may blow any second!

Really needed to get some laundry done. Thankfully, it wasn't quite as busy as it has been there the last few weeks. It was busy when I came and when I left, but most of the hour was a lot quieter. I had a smaller load, anyway. No towels, no sheets. Half-listened to The View and the news on Channel 6 while I worked on story notes.

Continued with the show while I put away the laundry and got organized. I did "Flexing Its Muscles" when I took out a shorter set revolving around the human body two years ago. The bus turns into "The Busasaurus" and takes the kids back in time. Once in the Cretaceous period, they see what the fossilized dinosaur egg that Arnold is watching for a paleontologist looked like when it was new and prove to Carlos that most dinosaurs weren't bloodthirsty, just surviving.

Went back out around quarter of 2. First stop was Chick Fil'A for lunch. It was a little late for them to be busy. I easily ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, hot and salty waffle fries, and deliciously creamy frozen lemonade. Enjoyed them while listening to the chatter of families around me.

Didn't need much at the Acme, but I figured since I had to get my schedule anyway, I might as well get it done. Bagged mandarin oranges and butter were on good sales, and I had online coupons for the Acme's generic premium ice cream pints (finally got to try the Brazilian Guava Cheesecake), turkey sausage, peanut butter, and pop-can biscuits that were too good to resist. They're clearing out the entire hair accessories section; I got hair bands for really cheap. Had a paper coupon for Chobani's new nut butter yogurts. Restocked canned pineapple, ground turkey, cooking spray, and relish.

My schedule next week is mostly a lot better than it was this week. Normal days off on Tuesday and Thursday, the former for counseling, about the same amount of hours. I am disappointed that I work early and long next Saturday and will have to miss the last Collingswood Farm Market of the year.

Ran into Dad and Jodie while shopping. Yes, they are having their Eagles party on Sunday, despite it being a 4:30 game. They're just ordering pizza. I'm off at 1 on Sunday; I'll go home and be around at 4 PM - quarter after.

Returned to The Magic School Bus as I put everything away. The kids are "Going Batty" when they think Ms. Frizzle is a vampire and will turn their parents into vampires on Parents' Day. They turn themselves into bats, learning more about them and how their sonic hearing works, in order to find them.

Arnold's annoying cousin Janet returns for "Butterfly and the Bog Beast." The class needs a name and mascot for their school's soccer team. Phoebe suggests butterflies, but Janet thinks they're too delicate. Carlos suggests a Bog Beast instead. Ms. Frizzle takes the kids to a real bog in order for her and Phoebe to show them just how tough butterflies are.

Worked on writing for a while. Charles and Richard tell the others about Bobby and Elaine. Brett reveals that Malade wants something that belongs to each Princess in order to claim their magic for her own. In Elaine's case, it was her hair. With Brett, it's her beauty - an idea Charles laughs at. Gene tells them he hired a boat that'll take them across the bay to find the next princess early in the morning. Too early, if you ask a reluctant Charles and Richard.

Made scrambled eggs with mushrooms and cheese for dinner. Did more Magic School Bus before and after a shower. The class is "Wet All Over" when they think they're going to Water Land. They're going in water - the water in the glass collecting rainwater outside. They learn about the water cycle when they have to swim through a pipe into the classroom to retrieve Liz the Lizard and the key to the bus.

The kids are livid when they return from a school vacation to discover their prize-winning carrots and tomatoes have rotted and turned into foul-smelling compost heaps. Keisha's cucumber is gone all together, replaced by a pickle. They turn it into a spoof of mysteries and courtroom stories when Ms. Frizzle finds herself "In a Pickle" and has to explain how microbes work.

"Revving Up" starts the second disc with something more perilous. The local car maintenance inspector (voice of Sherman Hemsley) seems to have it in for the School Bus. When the engine won't turn over, he insists on taking it to the junk yard and having it flattened. The kids shrink down and enter the engine in order to figure out why it won't work...and just barely avoid them and the bus getting crushed.

Finished out the night with "Taking Flight." Wanda and Tim made a model airplane for a school plane show. Wanda wants to really fly, so Ms. Frizzle shrinks most of the kids so they can fit in it. Tim, Phoebe, and Liz operate it from the ground, until the remote control breaks and the rest of the class has to figure out how to fly the thing on their own.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Matches and Libraries

Started the day with more Match Game to drown out that still-roaring wind. William "Captain Kirk" Shatner and Lee "Catwoman" Merriweather join the regulars, Gene, and Betty White for the third PM episode in 1975. A woman says she wants to kiss Richard, but she can't get her wish unless she wins the Head-to-Head...which she does with Richard's help.

Work was even quieter than it was yesterday. It got mildly busy around noon. I helped a woman to her car and bagged for a while. Otherwise, it was totally dead all day. I enjoyed a sunny, windy, slightly warmer (up to the upper 40's) morning doing carts until the floor needed to be swept.

Changed, then had a quick lunch at home while continuing with Match Game. Richard had left the show by 1981 to focus on hosting Family Feud, but Brett, Gene, and Charles were still cracking jokes and answering weird questions. Richard's hardly the only Match Gamer all the girls want to smooch. One contestant asks McLean Stevenson for a kiss, despite her having a cold...which she gets a little too into! ("Send that along to Richard Dawson," Betty White quips.)

Headed out again after I finished eating. I rode across Newton Lake Park to Westmont. Surprisingly, despite it being a lovely fall day, the park wasn't that busy. I dodged a few dog walkers, but otherwise, it was pretty quiet. At least it really looks like fall now. Trees and rushes on the river glow with a golden light that sparkles along the green waters.

The Haddon Township Library was only slightly busier than it has been the past few weeks. At the very least, I did manage to shelve some adult and child DVDs and take out a few more. Decided to give Captain Marvel another try. Haven't seen most of the original Magic School Bus cartoon since college. Figured I might as well do Daniel's Winter Wonderland last year's The Grinch now, before they disappear during the holidays. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the last movie I expected to show up at the library; I had to grab it for a review.

It was easier for me to shelve children's DVDs because they've been clearing house. There was a whole cart shelf filled with kids DVDs they were getting rid of, and they let me pick whatever I wanted. I grabbed How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and the holiday special Gift of the Night Fury, Lego Movie: The Second Part, the Disney live-action Beauty and the Beast (which also will turn up on my blog eventually), and a collection of 1980's My Little Pony episodes, including condensed versions of the original specials Rescue at Nightmare Castle and Escape from Catrina.

Made a quick stop at Dollar Tree on the way home. I wanted to get cards for my brother Keefe's birthday next week and for Rose's family for Thanksgiving, along with sponges. Maybe I should have waited. There were two long lines extended into the aisles when I got there. Thankfully, it could have been worse; the other cashier took the big order and the lines moved fast.

Went straight into writing when I got home. Elaine explains that she can heal with her tears or her hair, when she had her hair. Richard sends Bobby along with Elaine to the Fairy Realm, where both will be safe. He and Charles move along to Andersen Bay, where the others are gathering at an Inn. Charles has a few questions he needs to ask how she's a princess and more about her powers and why she didn't tell him she was royalty to begin with...

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Finished the night with leftovers, yellow squash, and cheese-topped eggplant bites while watching Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I go further into this supremely strange late 70's rock opera made of Beatles songs at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kicking Off the Holidays

The wind howled as I awoke this morning. Warmed things up with breakfast and Match Game. The late Bill Macy joined Richard, Brett, Charles, Gene, and Betty White for a PM episode in 1975. He actually does quite well and has a lot of fun with the group - wish he'd turned up again.

Work was just as quiet as it was over the weekend and has been all week. We're between holidays, and Thanksgiving is late this year. Not to mention, while it was sunny with a bright blue, it was also windy and bitterly cold for mid-November, in the mid-30's. Not a day to be out running around. I did do the trash inside and out in the morning, but I mainly alternated between gathering carts and sweeping the store later.

When I got home, I tightened my seat again, then went upstairs and changed. Finished out more Match Game while I got organized. They had Kirstie Alley as a contestant in a series of episodes from the syndicated show in 1979, but she wasn't even the best thing about the first of them. One of the contestants who came in before her took so long with her answer, Gene lay down on the floor and took a nap!

After I got organized, I made this year's Christmas lists. No, it's not what I want. It's what I'm giving. I only give non-edible gifts to Lauren and Amanda (who come from small families and don't have many people giving them presents) and my nieces and nephews (who will be getting food with their family gifts and don't need the extra sugar). There's also what I'll be baking and who gets that and my list of people getting cards.

Watched Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving while I worked to kick off my holiday season. This rather thrown-together anthology features three story with mildly seasonal themes. In the first, the others dress Piglet as a groundhog to find out if it's still winter. The second is the Thanksgiving special. Rabbit insists that his friends have to adhere to "tradition" and find all the fixings for a big Thanksgiving dinner. Pooh knows what Thanksgiving really means. Rabbit is also the focus of the last story, where he raises a baby bird and has a hard time letting her go when she wants to fly south for the winter.

Worked on writing for a while after I finished the lists. Charles' music is enough to distract Malade. Richard shoots her hand to keep her from casting spells, then shoots her cape into the wall. It gives them just enough time to escape. When they're on the ground, Elaine shows off her powers - healing. Her tears heal Bobby's eyes, to the delight of the lovers. Richard gets them away from the tower before Malade can pursue them.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers, then made chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Tried the "Chocolatetown Chocolate Chip Cookies" recipe in the 1934 Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook I picked up earlier in the year. They use butter, unlike my usual chocolate chip cookie recipes that requires oil. Not bad. Soft and sweet and a little chewy.

Finished the night with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Clara Stalbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is excited about Christmas, but not about having to dance with her widowed father at a big ball. She'd rather spend time with her Godpapa Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), trying to figure out what's in his gift to her. The golden egg from her mother is said to hold "all you will ever need inside." She follows a key he gives her to the Land of Sweets, only to have it stolen by a mouse. Captain Hoffman, the Nutcracker (Jayden Fowara-Knight), claims the mouse is the lackey of the evil Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), the regent of the Fourth Realm. He takes her to the far more pleasant Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightly) claims she's the queen of the land. Her mother had been queen when she'd lived there, but had returned to the regular world. But things aren't as they seem, and as Clara discovers, all she really needs to have confidence in herself.

Wonderful cast and some truly nifty special effects...but what does any of this have to do with The Nutcracker Ballet or The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.A Hoffman? Other than a short ballet sequence with prima ballerina Misty Copeland, there's barely any ballet, and not really a nutcracker, either. Disney was trying for the Alice In Wonderland-type dark retelling again, but this time, it didn't work. The movie was a major flop last November, and I can generally understand why. Fun if your little girl loves ballet or other relatively dark fantasies, but nothing you need to go out of your way to see.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Frosty Fall

I awoke to a wet, windy, frozen morning. It was perfect for warm corn meal and cranberries for breakfast while watching my first holiday special of the season. Garfield's Thanksgiving begins with Garfield being put on a diet by Jon's crush, Liz the Veterinarian. He's even more upset when Jon invites Liz over for a big Thanksgiving dinner. Jon can't cook a big, fancy meal to save his life. Good thing Grandma Arbuckle from the Christmas special knows what to do.

Had just enough time to sweep out the pantry after I ate and did the dishes. My "pantry" is two shelves between the counter and the stove where I keep canned goods, baking sugar and coloring, and condiments I haven't used yet. They desperately needed to be swept and reorganized. I didn't realize I had so much soup! I might have to see if I can find a local food pantry to donate it to.

Ran A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving while I worked. Chuck's frustrated when Peppermint Patty invites herself, Marcie, and Franklin over for Thanksgiving dinner. He and his family will be at his grandmother's house for the holiday. Linus, Chuck, Snoopy, and Woodstock make toast, jelly beans, popcorn, and sundaes to appease them. Patty is upset, until Linus and Marcie remind her of the real reason for the holiday.

The real reason for the holiday is also discussed in The Mayflower Voyagers. The Peanuts kids and animals play Pilgrim children and the dog and livestock who made that fateful voyage across the Atlantic to the New World. Even after they arrive in on the Massachusetts coast, they're plagued by illness and trouble...until the Indians Squanto and Massasoit teach them how to grow crops and live with the land. They have such a bountiful harvest, they hold the first feast of Thanksgiving to honor their new Indian friends.

Headed to work shortly after the cartoon ended. It was actually snowing as I walked out the door. The shower didn't do much more than look pretty and obscure my vision. The ground was too warm from yesterday for it to really stick.

That was pretty much the most exciting thing that happened all day. It was dead the entire afternoon. I spent the first half of the afternoon rounding up carts. After another bagger arrived to take over outside duties, I shelved loose items. By the time I finished my shift, even the snow and rain were gone, replaced by gale-force wind and a rapidly brightening sky.

Went straight into writing when I got home. Charles finally makes it into the tower to find a sobbing Elaine leaning over Bobby. Malade had cut Elaine's hair and cast a spell that blinded Bobby. Richard wants to destroy Malade, but she can easily swat away his arrows. Charles knows what will really defeat her - she can't stand music, the happier, the better. He starts playing, giving Richard a chance to shoot at her.

Finished the night with a fish dinner. I mixed together honey, lemon juice, butter, and spices for a tasty, flaky dinner. Had it with baked eggplants topped with cheese and baked squash.

Watched Uglydolls while I ate, and later when I went online. I go into more details on this colorful animated toy story from earlier this year on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Salute the Troops

Kicked off Veteran's Day with a short story and several poems from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. Given Veteran's Day began as Armistice Day after World War I, it's not surprising that the material revolves around that war. The Singing Tree is the touching story of a group of soldiers who discover a still-living tree on a dead battlefield filled with homeless birds. The poems include In Flanders Field, which was written by a World War I soldier who died during the conflict. My friend Linda Young says they used to memorize it in school for Veteran's Day during her 60's childhood.

Since there's not a lot there, I also read the material for Book Week. My favorite story was a chapter from All-Of-A-Kind Family. One of the younger girls lost her library book. She's devastated, until a young librarian helps her figure out a way to pay for it. Rufus M is a little boy who is so desperate to take out his first library book, he brings the application for his library card back after hours.

Watched most of the Donald Duck In the Army shorts while I ate breakfast. More than good-natured Goofy or every-mouse Mickey, Donald's brash personality made him Disney's number one star in the early 40's. He jumped right into the army in "Donald Gets Drafted" and ends up with Sargent Pete ordering him to do drills on an ant hill. He doesn't have much more luck in "Sky Trooper." He wants to get in the air, but the last thing he was expecting was for Pete to send him with the parachute troop!

My favorite of the Donald wartime shorts is "The Vanishing Private." Pete orders camaflage painter Donald to make a cannon "hard to see"...and he does just that when he covers it with an invisibility paint. When Pete tries to get him out of the cannon, he lands in the paint. Pete ends up chasing "the little man you can't see" all over the base.

"Der Fuhrer's Face" is a unique look at the Nazi regime. Donald goes literally crazy when he finds himself in Nazi Germany and can't keep up with their incessant demands and rationing. "Fall Out, Fall In" is back in more typical territory. All Donald wants after a long hike is rest, but first, he can't figure out his tent, then his fellow soldiers keep him awake. "Commando Duck" is sent to Japan to take out a base. He proceeds to, wash....out the enemy.

Headed to work as soon as the cartoons ended. Work, to my surprise, was quiet, or at the least steady, the entire afternoon. It never got as busy as it did last Veteran's Day. I did the recycling and trash outside, quickly mopped the men's bathroom, and alternated sweeping the store with the the head bagger, but I was mainly outside with the carts. I didn't want to be anywhere else. The weather was gorgeous today, sunny, breezy, and in the mid-60's.

Needed a few things on the way out. The Acme is clearing out a ton of items, including a lot of  Nestle's chocolate chips. I grabbed butterscotch and triple chip bags. I also needed toilet paper and got money for the laundry later this week.

Did writing when I got home. Richard and Charles are going through their bags for rope when they see the evil Queen Malade climbing the tower and hear screams and yelling. Richard goes up first, but Charles is more reluctant to follow him, especially when he sees Malade attack Elaine in the window...

Broke for dinner at 7. Ran my remaining wartime shorts as I ate leftovers for dinner. Despite also being popular during the war years, Woody Woodpecker only figured into one war-themed short, "Ace In the Hole." Like Donald, he wants to be a pilot, but his commanding officer has him shaving horses. He's less-than-thrilled when Woody does finally end up in a plane and gets it into the air.

The other Walter Lantz war shorts were one-offs. "21 Dollars a Day (Once a Month)" uses stuffed animals (and cameos from Woody and Andy Panda) to spoof the peacetime draft. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" is the tale of a former jazz trumpeter who gets his camp moving with his swinging reveille. The black stereotypes run thick and fast here, but there's a nice version of the title song, and this is one of the few cartoons I know of to depict minorities in the military. "Pigeon Patrol" is the more typical story of a country bumpkin bird who has to get an important message past the enemy.

Ran two shorts representing earlier and later wars as I had my cake for dessert. Mickey Mouse didn't figure much into the World War II cartoons, but he did fight Hun cats during "The Barnyard Battle" in 1929. "G.I Pink" finds himself in Vietnam without a clue after he's swayed by Army recruiting posters promising power. All he does is annoy his drill sergeant, who ends up sending him to the Navy in frustration.

Finished the night with Here Comes the Marines. The Bowery Boys did movies representing all four of Armed Forces branches between 1952 and 1954. I went with Marines in honor of their win on Family Feud last night. The Boys are all drafted into the Marines, but Sach is the only one who keeps getting promoted, thanks to his father having known the general in charge of their camp. He's in charge of their barracks and is driving everyone crazy with his incessant demands and constantly blowing his whistle. Slip is more concerned with the Marine who turned up badly beaten after investigating a corrupt casino in town. He and the others have to figure out what the owner is up to...and how to get his female cohort out of Sach's bed, where she's hiding.

And I salute the veterans of all wars on this Veteran's Day, including the one in my life - my father Bruce was in the Vietnam War.