Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Matches

Began the morning with a phone call from Rose as I read Christmas and New Year's stories by L.M Montgomery. She invited me over to her house for lunch and to do my laundry, instead of hiking to the laundromat on a cold, cloudy day. I happily accepted her offer. I hadn't met their new puppy Cider yet, and I'm tired of braving the weather.

After I finally finished, I had breakfast and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! Charlie Brown's stuck reading War and Peace over Christmas break for a school project. He's easily distracted by Peppermint Patty's big New Year's Eve party, especially once he realizes he can invite the Little Red Haired Girl to be his date.

Began whole-wheat rolls while watching Rudolph's Shiny New Year. I go further into this Rankin-Bass tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews New Year's blog entry from last year. 

Did this year's New Year's Eve review while finishing the rolls. Once I signed into TCM on my TV (which took a few minutes), I was able to watch the Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher romantic musical comedy Bundle of Joy. I also go further into this at Musical Dreams Movie Reviews.

Rose knocked on my door as the movie was winding down. She drove me to her house; got to say hi to Craig just as he left for his job as a chef at a high-end Italian restaurant in Haddon Heights. Finley was watching her favorite show Bubble Guppies and playing with Cider, their new puppy. She's a frisky miss who is white with pale brown spots. She's teething, so she tends to want to chew on everything...especially the little legs of her older sister Kelsey the Miniature Pincher. 

After Rose showed me where her washer and dryer were in the basement, we went upstairs and had lunch. She treated all of us to hoagies from WaWa. I had a roast beef and provolone "shorti" on a whole-wheat roll. As I ate, Rose opened the blow-outs she bought for tonight and let Finley and me play with them.

I spent the next few hours watching cartoons with Finley, and then with Khai and the dogs after he was dragged from video games and she took a nap. While Cider and Kelsey chased each other, Lynx the big striped cat decided he wanted to leap from Cider's enclosure up onto the scratching post he shares with his little sister Toothless and watch all from above. 

Rose switched to Netflix, first with We Bare Bears. Finley loves it when the three goofy Cartoon Network bears are baby bears, as in "Christmas Movies." The Baby Bears are working in a video store and watching Christmas videos all night when they hear a voice. A burglar wants to steal their holiday cheer...but the bears make use of what they've seen in the movies to convince him it's better to give than receive. 

The bears make their own metal fourth "Imaginary Bears" member, but he ends up causing more trouble than he's worth. Grizz Bear works at "The Mall" as a cop, while Panda tries to see a famous singer and Ice Bear joins a figure skating competition. The bears discover "Tunnels" under Panda's bed, dug by moles who worship his adventure comics. The have to convince the moles to help them keep their home from sinking. The baby bears return to help a young woman in Japan perfect her "Ramen" and impress her father, a former ramen chef who still owns her shop.

After Finley passed out, we switched to Khai's favorite, The Garfield Show. This is more-or-less an updated CGI version of Garfield and Friends, with more characters from the comics and no "Friends." I have to admit, I like the CGI here -it's made to look like rubbery stop motion animation. 

"Little Angel" appears to be a kitten, but he's no angel. He's really a nasty older cat who makes a mess and gets Garfield thrown out. Garfield has to alert an animal catcher to his location to get rid of him. Garfield becomes a "Fraidy Cat" when a mad scientist who uses his gizmo to eliminate Jon's fear of mice uses it to make Garfield afraid of cats...including himself. 

After Rose dropped me off, I put everything away, then worked on writing. They're able to find Goodson's cabin, but it's locked. Gene ties the sheets together to swing into the cabin through the window...but Betty may have another way...

Switched to Holiday Inn while making ham and Swiss sliders with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries for my New Year's Eve dinner. I go further into the Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire musical that introduced the beloved song "White Christmas" at a previous Musical Dreams Movie Review from New Year's 2019. 

Finished the night making an Orange Cake with Whipped Cocoa Frosting while watching Buzzr's Match Game "Blanking In the New Year" marathon. The New Year's episodes on the 70's Match Game were legendary, with streamers and balloons falling at the end (or in 1977, the beginning) of the episode and Gene announcing the changing of the show's logo to reflect the upcoming year. In 1976, a huge paper mache bird dropped an egg with a 1977 label into Charles Nelson Reilly's waiting arms. Charles popped a huge 1974 balloon, revealing a smaller 1975 one, and he and Brett launched the new sign in 1978 by breaking champagne bottles over it.

Here's the New Year's marathon on the Match Game Productions YouTube channel from last year, so you can ring in 2021 with all of the panelist's wild, matching antics! 

As I switched to The Price Is Right and made my usual Whipped Syllabub, I heard popping out my kitchen window. Fireworks exploded over the river, blooming with sparkles of white and gold. Here's hoping that all of you had a glowing evening and enjoy a safe, healthy, and far happier 2021! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Longest Afternoon

Began a quick and early morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Teacher Harriet is upset when the class rabbit Snowball goes missing. Daniel, Miss Elaina, and everyone in the neighborhood help with "Looking for Snowball." "Daniel's Neighbors Help" when he's not feeling well. Lady Elaine takes him home from school and brings him and his mother chicken soup, while the kids at school draw Daniel a card.

Headed to work shortly after the episode ended. Everything went well early in the day. I came and went with no problems and spent most of the day sweeping and gathering carts. The trouble was, when I started to get tired later in the day, they had no one to help me out. I was the only daytime bagger. They had four evening and night baggers, but only me during the morning and afternoon. By the time I finished, I was so tired, I couldn't even find the broom when I accidentally left it up front. At least the weather was good for it, sunny, chilly, and windy again. Bought a container of no-salt tomato sauce and a sympathy card for Jodie, called Uber, and went home.

There was a mauled folder waiting for me when I got home. Turns out someone in the post office slashed open my food stamps renewal papers...which were due on the 7th. I would have had to completely re-do a lot of the application, anyway. A lot of my information changed this year, including my address and rent. I think I'll just put in a new application next week after the old one ends and live without the food stamps for a couple of weeks. 

Worked on writing after I changed and got organized. Betty and Sharon turn their sheets into tight dresses to pass themselves off as "ladies of the evening" escorting the sailors on-deck. They still need to get Brett from Goodson's, but she may be ahead of them...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had an omelet, then made Lemon-Coconut Muffins while watching Dick Tracy. Tracy (Warren Beatty) is a tough-guy cop in a primary-colored world filled with some of the most grotesque gangsters this side of a horror movie. He wants desperately to arrest the head of the gangsters Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), but he he has the DA (Dick Van Dyke) in his pocket. His moll Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) wants Tracy to see her as more than a witness, while Tracy's girl Tess Truehart (Glenn Headley) wishes he'd settle down and make more time for her. There's also The Kid (Charlie Korsmo), an orphan who may also have witnessed several gangland slayings. When an unknown figure with no face kills the DA and blames Tracy, then kidnaps Tess and dumps her in Big Boy's basement, it's up to Tracy and the Kid to figure out where she's hidden and who this Blank is, before they both get taken down.

An old childhood favorite. Mom took us to see this when it came out in 1990, and we played Dick Tracy with our friends in the neighborhood for the rest of the summer. The eye candy is really the thing here, with the amazing candy-colored sets and costumes and the incredible make-up that turns an all-star cast into the wild and weird characters from the Chester Gould comic strips. I'm also fond of the great score by Danny Elfman and Stephan Sondheim's songs, including the Oscar-winning "Sooner or Later" and the touching ballad "What Can You Lose?" Highly recommended for fans of comic book-based movies or the cast.

Finished the night online after a shower with a trio of vintage New Year's sitcom episodes . It's "A Night to Disremember" for Oscar Madison in a second season episode of The Odd Couple. Well-meaning Felix brings Oscar and his ex-wife Blanche together to remember the anniversary of their divorce. Their New Year's Eve party turned sour when they accused each other of jumping into the arms of the guests, and Felix, as usual, wasn't as much of a help as he wanted to believe.

New Year's goes better in the 9th season episode "A War for All Seasons" on MASH. We see a year in the life of the 4077th, from General Potter dressed as Father New Year to Winchester and Klinger making bets on the World Series to Father Mulcahy's garden and what the thing Hot Lips is knitting keeps turning into.

I was never a big fan of The Donna Reed Show as a kid. She always seemed a little too perfect...except for in the first season episode "Have Fun." When  Donna Stone's teenage daughter Mary runs home from her first date in tears, she's sure it went badly. Donna and her husband Alex recall how awkward they both were on their first date on New Year's Eve...but like Oscar and Blanche, they both remember things very differently.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Blowing In the New Year

Began a bright and sunny morning with breakfast and the current version of Muppet Babies. Kermit and Fozzie are "Best Friend Fixer-Uppers," but they keep getting distracted by another project before they finish the previous one. They learn a lesson about finishing what they start when Bunsen's rocket goes out of control before they can finish it. "Gonzo's Coop Dreams" has him joining the chickens' basketball team to help them beat the Bad Eggs. He's hopeless at basketball, until he borrows a pair of "Can't Lose Shoes" from Bunsen. Suddenly, he's racking up points...until the shoes short out, and he's reminded that it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that counts.

Worked on writing for an hour after the show ended. After Robert and Tom knock out the sailors, Gene and Allen take down two more. They decide it'll be easier to look for Brett as sailors than as sheets. Gene gets a very drunk sailor to tell them Brett's at dinner with Colonel Mark Goodson, sending the others to his cabin.

Broke for lunch at 11. Watched Laverne & Shirley while having a Banana Pineapple Smoothie for lunch. The third season episode "New Year's Eve - 1960" starts out well, with Laverne getting a date to Shirley's New Year's party with a guy she's liked for years and Shirley going with Carmine. Laverne is devastated when the guy abandons her in the middle of the party and returns to his original girlfriend. At least she has Lenny dropping Squiggy instead of the ball to look forward to.

Headed off to work shortly after the show ended. Work was slightly busier, likely due to this being our Senior Discount Day. Otherwise, same deal as the last couple of days. I spent the afternoon rounding up carts, gathering trash and overflowing recycling, and doing returns. It was cold and windy, but at least the sun was out all day, with not a cloud in the sky. No problems whatsoever, including with the Uber trips. 

Went straight into leftovers for dinner and Match Game '75 when I got home. Gary Burghoff nodded off in the opening, while the others compared a contestant and his considerable mustache to a certain popular southern actor of the 1970's and 80's. Match Game PM was noisier, with Fred Grandy sporting a newsboy cap and Bart Braverman fiddling around with a duck call throughout the episode. 

Sale of the Century was another close one, right up until the end. This time, the champ bought two Instant Bargains, won all Fame Games (and got a number card on one), and killed at the Speed Round. She won a 2,500 ski package shopping spree from the Match the Prizes board.

Finished out the night with The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady on TCM. I go further into this charming 1890's backstage tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. He writes "Something Special for Dad" after he sees how happy Dan Sr. is to get a letter from Grandpere. Daniel and his father go to Baker Aker's bakery to make banana bread that'll say "I Love You, Mom!"

Worked on writing for a while. Gene gets one especially drunk sailor to tell them where Brett's being kept. He tells them she's dining with Goodson before he passes out. Tom tells two of his men to take the sailors' uniforms. They'll dress as sailors to sneak into Goodson's cabin, rescue Brett, and find the rest of their crews.

Broke for lunch at 11. Went to The Roku Channel for the original My Little Pony while having a smoothie for lunch. Posy takes in four "Fugitive Flowers" who seem to be on the run from a group of huge crabs. The flowers claim that the crabs are after them and that they're on the run...but nothing is what it seems, and just because something is beautiful doesn't mean it's good.

Called for a ride to work shortly after the cartoon ended. Work...was pretty much the same as yesterday. We were steady around 12:30-1 PM, to the point where I had to take customers for a few minutes. After that, we died quickly. The clouds vanished by the time I was climbing into the Uber car, and it turned into a gorgeous, sunny, breezy winter day. Spent the afternoon gathering carts and the last hour or so sweeping the store and doing returns, with no trouble whatsoever.

Went straight into leftovers for dinner and Match Game '75 when I got home. Robert Urich of Spencer for Hire and Vega$ and soap opera star Jamie Lynn Bower got ardent kisses from Brett Somers and Gene Rayburn respectively in the opening. Match Game PM introduced a contestant who could turn his feet all the way around. (It was really gross. Even Gene was kind of freaking out.)

Sale of the Century had its closest game yet. All three contestants were constantly within five dollars of each other, and no one bought any Instant Bargains. It came down to a tie between the champ and the one lady. She got it by one question and won a Norman Rockwell print on the Match the Prizes board.

Finished the night with TV shows online. In the second season, a magician recruits Charlie's Angels to find out who's been using his "Magic Fire" act to burn down fashion warehouses for the insurance money. Sabrina poses as a French fashion designer, Kelly as a magician's daughter who wants to sell her father's secrets, and Bosley and Kris as a magician and his assistant to find out who's really behind the arson attacks.

Cathy Lane is eagerly waiting for her father to come home in The Patty Duke Show first season episode "The Christmas Present." Trouble is, her father, a foreign correspondent, is currently in a European jail after trying to get the scoop on a revolution. Patty and her dad try to find a way to bring him home. 

Even when Cathy's dad Ken (William Schallert) does make it home in time for "Auld Lang Syne," he's fired by the head editor of the New York Daily Chronicle J. R Castle (John McGiver) for breaking the rules. Patty, Cathy, and Patty's dad Martin try to find a way Ken can first get his job back, then make use of his years of experience as a foreign correspondent. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Play In the New Year

Began a beautiful, sunny morning with Coconut Almond Pancakes for my final Sunday breakfast of 2020 and Prime-Time Musicals. I finally picked up a few more Veresae Sarabande Broadway CD collections I've wanted on eBay early this fall, including this one. Prime-Time Musicals focuses on songs from early TV musicals like The Stingiest Man In Town that are either still lost or very rare. Among the better songs are "A Ride On a Rainbow" from Ruggles of Red Gap, "One Day at a Time" from High Tor, and the lovely "Listen To Your Heart," from a TV musical version of Pinocchio. 

Lost In Boston III was the last CD in that series I didn't have. I've wanted this one for years, but I could never find it on eBay for a decent price until now. "Mama's Talkin' Soft," performed by two little girls as in the original Gypsy, is the big one here. Others I like include the sweet "Pink Taffeta Sample Size 10" from Sweet Charity, "When I Go Out Walking With My Baby" from Oklahoma!, and "Older and Wiser" from Bye Bye Birdie

Went to work even before Lost In Boston ended. We were steady for the first hour or so...but once the football games started, our customers ended. I did returns, swept the store, and gathered carts for the first few hours. By 4:30, we had more help to sweep the store, the carts were all up, and the return carts were empty. I organized the gift cards in the kiosk for the last hour or so, even though there wasn't a lot to do there, either. I mainly reorganized the cards in the kiosk.

Jodie visited me as soon as I got in. She had mushroom pizza for dinner and thought I might want the leftovers. Poor Jodie is still reeling from her father's sudden death. Unlike Dad, he died from the virus. Many other members of her family have it, too. This has been a rough couple of months for her. I held her and let her cry on my shoulder. And she did love the bread and the scarf I gave her for Christmas. She thought the scarf was the most beautiful thing she ever had.

Did Unsung Sondheim as I ate dinner. Same deal here, only this one has Sondheim songs either cut from his better-known musicals or from lesser-known projects. I've always thought his music and Danny Elfman's score for Dick Tracy were underrated. "Sooner or Later" won the Oscar, but my favorite song from that film is the touching ballad "What Can You Lose?"

Worked on writing for an hour after I finished dinner. While Sharon Farrell tries to quiet everyone, Robert Walden and McLean Stevenson knock out the two sailors on patrol. They all head further into the ship, hoping to figure out where Brett is and where the crews and Tom's brother Jack are hidden.

Finished the night online with New Year's-themed game shows on YouTube. Started off with High Rollers. Alex Trebek is dressed for a New Year's Eve party in 1979 as his contestants roll the dice and win an amazingly soft-looking mink coat and lots of trips. The older lady was pretty funny - she kept saying "yes," even when it wasn't a yes-or-no question.

Also in 1979, the Monty Hall Beat the Clock celebrates the New Year with games revolving around pouring champagne into glasses stacked so the champagne will overflow the glasses and tossing balloons over nails. Comedian Jack Carter and soap star Eileen Barnett were the clear winners here, beating sitcom favorite Ellen Travolta and character actor Louis Nye by a long shot. The New Year's 1979 episode of Hollywood Squares brought in James Coco, Robert Mandan, Pia Zadora, and the Lennon Sisters...but the champion knew the Lemmon Sisters and had to be replaced with another one.

What's My Line? has been doing New Year's episodes since 1950. Appropriately, their Mystery Guest on New Year's Eve that year was none other than orchestra leader Guy Lombardo. Lombardo was famous for his radio (and later TV) New Year's Eve broadcasts, and was probably more associated with the holiday than anyone until Dick Clark started his Rockin' New Year's

Since Buzzr is doing a marathon of the New Year's Eve episodes from Match Game '70s Thursday night, I opted for the New Year's Eve show from Match Game '90. This show did holidays up right, and this episode was no exception. They celebrated with black and silver balloons over the arches and everyone in fancy dress. Brad Garrett did a dead-on imitation of Charles Nelson Reilly (who was on hiatus) in the opening segment.

Family Feud kicked off 1990 with an all-woman family making a big comeback after losing the first round. They too decorated very well, with balloons and white poinsettias. New Year's Eve on The Prices Is Right in 1975 revealed a very different Big Wheel - no green sections on the 5 and 15 where you can win 5,000, different sound effects, and the Wheel is filmed from a different angle. A lot of the same pricing games, though, including a hilarious King Kong-themed Showcase Showdown. (You've never lived until you've seen Johnny Olson zooming around a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a round yellow airplane.)

Run these in the background at your New Year's Eve party and see if you can get your guests playing along! (Warning that several of them have bad tapes and are kind of hard to watch, including The Price Is Right, High Rollers, and Hollywood Squares. The latter two are more forgivable - their runs were erased, and there isn't much left of this version of Rollers or Squares' daytime run.)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Chilled Point

Started off a sunny, bitterly cold morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. "Daniel Gets a Cold" at school, to his dismay. He has to miss Prince Wednesday's birthday party, but he needs his rest. When "Mom Tiger Is Sick," her boys finish the invitations to the Fruit Picking Day party while she rests.

Headed off to work shortly after that. I spent most of the first few hours at work outside, but things picked up by noon. The other bagger and I both ended up in a register at one point; in fact, I had to go in for her. The teen afternoon bagger calling out didn't help. Thankfully, more baggers came in later, and we were able to finish the carts and work on shelving five full carts of returns. It may be just as well that more help arrived. It was bitterly cold today despite the sunshine, windy and barely in the lower 30's. 

In good news, I have New Year's Eve off next week, along with Saturday. I'm also still bagging, likely due to the head bagger being on vacation. Wish I had a day off earlier than New Year's Eve, though. I have no idea when I'll have the time to do the laundry. I also work early on Wednesday and New Year's Day. 

Thankfully, I remembered my wallet this time and could get my groceries done. Mainly wanted food for my New Year's Eve dinner. Instead of doing a big crock pot meal, I thought I'd put that time off to good use and make rolls for hot ham and cheese sliders. I'll have the sliders with sweet potato fries, sliced apples, yogurt dip, and roasted Brussels sprouts. Dessert will be a cake of some kind. Picked up the ham, yogurt, and wedges of good imported Swiss taken right from a wheel. Grapefruit was the cheapest citrus I could find. Grabbed sparkling white grape juice and heavy cream for Whipped Syllabub. Restocked milk, buttermilk, apples, bananas, ground turkey, and cereal.

After I got home, I put everything away while watching one of the more recent episodes of Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures. Everyone in Hot Dog Hills is saying "Duck, Duck, Geese!" when Goofy's bird caller attracts a huge flock of geese and no one can figure out how to get rid of them. Announcer Billy Beagle wants to be a Happy Helper, but his loud voice isn't appropriate for volunteering at a hospital or a library. Daisy, Minnie, and Cukoo-Loca teach him the differences between indoor voices and outdoor voices in "Shhhh."

Worked on writing for a little bit next. Robert Walden insists on going with Betty, Allen, and Gene. Sweet and goofy Sharon Farrell and sarcastic ship's doctor McLean Stevenson join them, too. 

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Had leftovers, then made Orange Meltaway Cookies from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book while watching The Point! for the first time in 30 years. I go further into this bizarre 1971 animated TV movie at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Finished the night online after a shower with The Lawrence Welk Show. In addition to Christmas, the original program also did a big special episode on New Year's, with everyone singing "Let's Start the New Year's Right" and doing skits on the Rose Bowl parade. From 1970 onward, Welk would introduce the queen of the Rose Bowl parade and her court and have them be escorted by the male singers. There's some terrific numbers here, too. Bobby and Cissy show off 7 decades of dance, from the Cakewalk to the Watusi, in the 1970 episode. Arthur the tap-dancer gets an awesome solo as part of the "band" at the Rose Bowl that year, too. 

Here's three different ways to celebrate the end of the year with Lawrence Welk. The episode from 1981 is the original broadcast, complete with commercials.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Holidays and Matches

Though I awoke to a cloudy Christmas morning, the rain finally stopped by the time I opened my eyes. Began my Christmas with short stories, poems, and carols from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. My favorite of their Christmas stories is "Miss Flora McFlimsey's Christmas." An old doll who has been abandoned in the attic for years manages to make her way downstairs to the Christmas tree. Santa insists on her staying there for a new little girl. The other dolls tease her and call her old-fashioned, but the tree angel and her mouse friend bring down her original clothes and make her look like new again. I'm also very fond of the sweet "A Star For Hansi." A grandmother teaches her granddaughter the importance of saving with a story about how she saved her last coin for something very important.

Opened Mom's gifts to me under the tree after I wrote in my journal. My smaller gift were two of the most beautiful spoons I ever saw, rainbow-colored and made of heavy bamboo. The squishy larger gift was a soft tan velvet blanket from Land's End. I texted her after I opened them to thank her. She thanked me for the Password DVD set and mentioned she intended to spend her Christmas afternoon at Anny's house. 

Had breakfast while watching Tattletales. Betty White and Allen Ludden were joined in 1974 by Conrad Bain (later of Different Strokes) and his wife Monica and football star Tommy Mason and gymnast (and future Peter Pan) Cathy Rigby. White and Ludden won the first episode hands down, getting most of the questions right; they tied in the second.

Packed up most of the bags of cookies and remaining gifts and headed out around 11. Dropped boxes of candy with the neighbors next-door and across the street, then strolled up Manor and left a bag of cookies and a card for Andy and Linda, old friends of Dad's and Uncle Ken's, on their porch. Rose called twice on that walk. I called her on Manor and told her I was on my way.

Arrived on her doorstep ten minutes later. Finley was pretending to be a dog in the enclosure Rose and Craig set up in the living room for the new puppy they intended to pick up later in the afternoon. She and Khai loved their presents. Finley got glitter markers and a Fluttershy My Little Pony, Khai got a collection of three later Garfield comic books I hadn't given him during the summer. 

Watched Spongebob Squarepants Christmas episodes with Finley and Rose while I opened my gift bag from them. Rose went crazy buying me cute kitchen and laundry supplies. There's a garlic press shaped like Dracula, a pair of tongs with silicone hands on the end, two cactus-shaped dryer balls (I call them "the Tobys" after Sheriff Callie's cactus friend), and coasters shaped like records. By far the most useful items I received were new pastry and baking mats. I realized while making this year's cookies how worn out my baking towels were getting. The one I use to cool cookies on has huge holes. Rose also gave me cookies and shrimp and pasta that the restaurant in Haddon Heights where Craig worked way overstocked. 

(I also found out why Jodie's been scarce the past few days. Her father died of a virus-related illness three days ago. She did mention a lot of her family was sick, including him and her Aunt Colleen, but she never told me he died. I feel really sorry for her. She's had a rough year.)

Rose finally insisted around 1:30 that she wanted to get Finley settled down for a nap. Craig and Khai dropped me and my goodies off before heading to pick up that new puppy. I ended up having some of the shrimp and pasta for lunch; put everything else away.

Made a delicious Christmas dinner of cranberry citrus chicken, green salad, a baked sweet potato, ambrosia, and a dark chocolate coconut cream pie. The cranberries in the chicken burned a little, and despite the recipe saying browning would seal in the juices, even the boneless thighs I used came out dry. I think I left it in for too long. At least it tasted pretty decent.

Finished the night online with another Match Game marathon on YouTube. This one consists of episodes that were a favorite of the channel owner's mother, who sadly passed away in May. Apparently, she turned him on to Match Game when he was younger. She had good taste. Richard Dawson was her favorite panelist, so all of the episodes revolved around him in some way. He was there to calm poor Evie, the most nervous contestant to ever appear on the show, and to witness Fannie fall for the handsome high school teacher Ron Valenti. He and Betty White pretended to be Brett and Charles respectively in one PM episode; another had some of the worst contestants in the history of the show, with the man only winning because Charles matched them each once. 

Here's the marathon, to share with your mom during the holidays! And I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, with all the people you love to match with.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Very Wet Holiday

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and Happy Days. "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas?" Fonzie, who claims he has a party to attend. Richie thinks otherwise and invites him to his family's house for Christmas Eve. Mr. Cunningham is reluctant to have him - he wanted it to just be the family for Christmas Eve - but even he eventually admits it's nice to share Christmas Eve with someone who's alone for the holidays.

Worked on writing for a while after I ate. Everyone boards the SS Todman, where Gene insists they split into groups. He takes Robert, Sharon, and a few of the others to find Brett and rescue her. Tom wants to find Goodman and get him to reveal where his brother and the crew are being held. 

Broke for lunch at 11. Had a chocolate banana smoothie and an apple cinnamon muffin while watching 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. I go further into this Rankin-Bass tale and The Year Without a Santa Claus at this Musical Dreams Movie Reviews entry from last Christmas Eve. 

This time, I had no problems with Uber whatsoever. Both rides were smooth sailing, despite traffic in the morning. Walked around the car to make sure I picked up the right one going home.

Spent most of the day outside, rounding up carts. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. We were a mess almost the entire afternoon. Good thing we had anywhere from three to five baggers gathering carts at any given time. At one point, as one bagger joked, it felt like we had an army of baggers outside! We needed them. The carts kept vanishing. It got so bad by 5, they called me in to take customers, then bag for them. It was so busy, people kept coming to the door and asking if we were open and they could come in, even after we clearly closed at 6. I must have told at least five or six people in cars and another three or four on foot that the store closed early for Christmas Eve.

The weather didn't help. Gusty winds blew carts around, and it remained cloudy and humid. At least it was also warm for late December, probably in the mid-60's. It sprinkled and showered off-and-on briefly all afternoon. Thank heavens the heavy rain didn't start until I was done with work and on my way home. 

Took Jodie's gifts and the bags of cookies for Jesse, Dana, and TJ to her side of the house, then made wild tuna steak, Brussels sprouts sautéed in butter, and whole wheat pasta for dinner. The peanut butter-chocolate swirl fudge I made last night came out perfectly. I sliced it and boxed it while watching White Christmas. I went further into this classic holiday favorite with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney at my Musical Dreams blog in December 2018. 

Finished the night online after a shower with more specials. Watched Little Drummer Boy and Little Drummer Boy Book II on YouTube and DailyMotion respectively. Those two wound up being this year's Christmas Eve Rankin-Bass Double Feature at my Musical Dreams blog. 

Moved to Disney Plus for Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas. This is an anthology of three shorts featuring various members of the Disney gang. "Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas" is more of a riff on Groundhog Day. Huey, Dewey, and Louie wish it could be Christmas everyday...and eventually regret it when the day keeps repeating over and over. It's "A Very Goofy Christmas" as Goofy tries to prove to his skeptical son Max that Santa is real. Mickey and Minnie sell the things that mean most to them in order to buy presents in "Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi."

The Small One is another story about the First Christmas. Small One is a donkey owned by a little boy and his father. He's now too old to carry heavy loads of wood, so the father tells his son to take Small One into the city and sell him. No one will buy the scrawny, elderly animal...until the boy encounters a kindly man named Joseph, who needs someone to carry his wife to Bethlehem. 

Despite the title, Uncle Scrooge is actually the main character in Mickey's Christmas Carol. Mickey has the Bob Cratchit role as his put-upon clerk, and Donald is Nephew Fred. Scrooge learns a lesson in charity from his former partner Jacob Marley (Goofy) and the tiny Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), towering Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant), and scary Ghost of Christmas Future (Big Pete). 

(Oh, and Lauren finally got her package today. She loved everything. She and her parents listened to the CDs after they unwrapped them and put the angel on top of their small tree.)

And here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday season, no matter how you end up celebrating it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Man With the Bag

Began a lovely day with breakfast and Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Everyone in the neighborhood is excited for the big holiday...except Big Bird. Oscar the Grouch told him if they can't figure out how Santa gets down those skinny New York chimneys, no one will get any presents! Big Bird, Kermit, Snuffleupagus, and one of the kids spend their day trying to figure out how he does it. Meanwhile, Bert and Ernie give away the things they love most to get gifts from Mr. Hooper and Cookie Monster attempts to write Santa, only to eat his writing utensils.

Headed out shortly after the show ended. I left a little bit early to buy parchment paper at work before I started. Needless to say, the Acme was very busy two days before one of the biggest holidays of the year. People are starting to think of what they're eating for Christmas dinner now, even if it's not going to be like usual. I did do some sweeping inside and gathered recycling towards the end of the night, but I was mainly outside, rounding up carts and enjoying a sunny, breezy, fairly warm day.

Ran into trouble with Uber going home. I think I took the wrong car. No wonder the guy didn't recognize my name when I got in. It took me at least five minutes or more to get a car at all by rush hour. I should have realized it when he didn't know which way to go. It was dark by then, I was dead tired, and I can never tell one car from another. At least I did eventually get where I was going. 

When I got in, I went straight into writing. Tom Kennedy's crew wears sheets to pass as ghosts. Bart Braverman complains that they look more like sheets than ghosts, which leads ship's doctor McLean Stevenson to joke about someone accidentally dumping them in the laundry. Sharon Farrell shushes them, reminding them that they need the disguises. 

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Tonight's Match Game '74 episodes is one of my favorites from that year. Charles Nelson Reilly was late from getting a new toupee (or "getting his hair nailed on," as the others joked), so their boss Mark Goodson sat in for him during the first question. (And did very well, too!) They also had questions about what Charles dresses as for Halloween (and a couple of ribald answers from those who knew him well!) and an Audience Match that was Betty ___. (And no, the contestant didn't go for the obvious answer that was sitting right in front of her.)

Switched to Ernest Saves Christmas as I made Chocolate-Peanut Butter Swirl Fudge. Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) loves Christmas in his native Orlando, Florida. He's surprised, then thrilled when a man climbs into his cab claiming to be Santa Claus (Douglas Seale). Santa is in Orlando to find Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark), a former children's show host he believes will be the perfect replacement for him. Trouble is, a smarmy movie agent (Robert Lesser) got to Joe first and is trying to push him into doing a holiday slasher movie. There's also Harmony Starr (Noelle Parker), a runaway teen who perpetually lies to pretty much everyone. Even after Ernest rescues Santa from prison, they still have to convince Joe to take over the role and retrieve the reindeer and sleigh with the help of two sarcastic elves.

This is a long-time holiday guilty pleasure of mine, and by far my favorite Ernest movie. My sisters and I watched it a lot in the late 80's-early 90's during December. If you love Ernest too, or also remember those frequent cable showings, you'll want to give it a try. It's one Ernest's best vehicles.

(And we'll see how the fudge came out tomorrow. It was still a little soupy when I put it in the fridge to set. Oh well, if it doesn't come out, I have plenty of other things to give.)

Watched the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street on Disney Plus when I went online. We move from warm Orlando back to chilly New York City for another story on the existence of Santa. Macy's manager Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) discovers Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) when he volunteers to replace her drunk Santa in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. He goes over so well, he becomes the Santa at Macy's store as well. Kris really does believe he's Santa Claus. Most people think this is just a harmless fantasy, but Doris, who has taught her daughter Susie (Natalie Wood) to believe only in facts and what she can see, and obnoxious store psychiatrist Sawyer (Porter Hall), are more concerned. Kris eventually moves in with Doris' neighbor, lawyer Fred Gailey (John Payne). When Kris ends up on trial for lunacy, Fred is the one who defends him...and sets out to prove to Doris, Susie, and all of New York that there's a little holiday magic in everyone at this time of the year.

Gwenn won a supporting actor Oscar as one of film's most memorable Santas. His chemistry with deadpan little Wood is a delight to see. I also love the supporting cast, including Thelma Ritter as a frazzled mother in Macy's, Gene Lockhart as the judge covering the trial, Jerome Cowan as the district attorney opposing Fred, and William Frawley as the judge's political advisor. Their cynicism balances the more idealistic aspects of the script and keep the proceedings from getting too sugary.

I enjoyed the I've Got a Secret Christmas episode I watched Sunday night so much, I did another one after the movie ended. This episode from 1964 was the first with new host Steve Allen. Though we do have kids here (including an all-kid musical group with unusual instruments), my favorite guests were the Salvation Army choir who did an awesome number with tambourines. 

Ran "The Monkees Christmas Show" after tonight's Match Game '90 YouTube premiere. This was one of the less-strange episodes of the Monkees' wild second season. The groovy quartet thinks they're being hired by a wealthy lady to play for a party. They end up watching over her nephew, a spoiled and neglected boy who claims Christmas is little more than tinsel and commercialism. Their attempts to prove otherwise prove disastrous to their heads and wallets...until Mike Nesmith figures out what he really needs. 

Here's more groovy vintage Christmas specials to tide you over until the big day!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Windy Wonderland

Got a quick start to the morning with breakfast and Frosty's Winter Wonderland, the actual Rankin-Bass follow-up to Frosty the Snowman. Frosty returns to enjoy winter with the kids, but he's lonely when they go home. The kids create a "snow wife" to keep him company, but she's not all-livin' like he is. Meanwhile, Jack Frost is jealous that Frosty gets more attention than him and will do anything to keep Frosty from becoming even more popular.

Did a little bit of writing after I ate. The Golden Medley pulls up alongside the SS Todman, decorated with cobwebs and tatters to resemble a ghost ship. Everyone ducks down to avoid being seen. Gene insists on leading the first group to find his crew.

Broke around 11 to quickly get ready for work. No trouble with Uber going to or from Audubon today. They were both on time, and the rides were smooth sailing. The morning driver was a gentleman who was a bit chattier than the lady on in the evening.

Once again, spent most of the workday outside. I did gather the trash and recycling at one point and switched off sweeping with the other bagger, and I ended up in a register for about five minutes early-on. It was cloudy and gale-force windy, but I still preferred being outside with the carts to inside with the crowds. By the end of the night, we had as many as three baggers outside. I ended up doing returns.

When I got home, I went straight into leftovers. Watched It's a Wonderful Life while putting away the Cream Cheese Mints and making the cranberry bread. George Bailey (James Stewart) thinks life has passed him by. He wanted badly to see the world when he was younger, but ended up staying in the town of his birth, taking care of his wife Mary (Donna Reed) and their family and running his father's loan company. He didn't want the company to fall into the hands of Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the richest man in town, who already owns everything else. After his forgetful Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses 8,000 on Christmas Eve, George is in such despair that he considers committing suicide. He's saved by an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) who claims he's trying to earn his wings. He eventually gives George his wish to see what life would be like if he was never born...and reminds him why he really had a wonderful life and some truly magnificent friends.

I mainly love this one for the outstanding performances by Stewart and a cast of Hollywood's best character actors, including Ward Bond and Frank Faylen as George's buddies Bert the cop and Ernie the cab driver, Beluah Bondi as George's mother, HB Warner as the drug store owner Mr. Gower, and Sheldon Leonard as a skeptical bartender. One of my favorite Christmas movies if you love Stewart, the cast, or are down with director Frank Capra's pro-small-town sentiment.

Took a shower, then went online and watched The Mistle Tones. I go further into this Freeform 25 Days of Christmas romantic comedy at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Finished the night on Hulu with It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special. Buster Bunny's so crushed after he loses his directing assignment on the Toons' big holiday special to Montana Max, he almost jumps right out of the film. A familiar-sounding rabbit named Harvey shows him what life in Acme Acres would be like if he were never on Tiny Toons

Monday, December 21, 2020

Once Upon a Wintertime

Began a sunny morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. "Daniel's Winter Adventure" first takes him, his dad, and Prince Wednesday sledding, then to the pond to skate for the first time. Dan's not sure about the high hill or the slippery ice, but his dad tells him to try them a little bit at a time and see how he likes them. The Tigers take Daniel to see the "Neighborhood Nutcracker" at the Enchanted Garden. O the Owl is a little intimidated by the crowds, but his father takes him in a little at the time. Daniel ends up center-stage when he has to join Katarina and Henrietta in the Nutcracker after Prince Wednesday gets sick and has to learn their dance a bit at a time.

Switched to snow and Christmas-themed shorts in honor of the first day of winter as I got ready to head out. "Arctic Antics" and "Winter" are Silly Symphonies depicting animals playing in the snow. The first gives us adorable polar bears and off-key walruses, while the second has more typical woodland creatures running into their holes when the groundhog sees his shadow. "Chip n' Dale" want to steal Donald's popcorn on a wintry day. He does everything he can to fend them off. Likewise, they're "Toy Tinkers" who want to swipe Don's Christmas nut stash. "Snow Foolin'" is a Paramount Screen Gems sing-along version of "Jingle Bells." "The Snow Man" comes to life and terrorizes residents of the North Pole in a strange 30's short.

Struggled into my new winter boots (it took a while for me to zipper them), then grabbed my laundry bag and coat. Saw a huge truck pull up to the curb just as I made my way down the sidewalk. Veterans of America arrived to take Jodie's overflowing donations (and mine too). 

Delivered three bags of cookies to my next-door neighbors, Sandy around the corner, and my friend Erica down the street. Erica was the only one around to accept hers. She gave me sweet and florid compliments on my new black snow boots and the gray coat Jodie and Dad gave me a few years ago.

Made pretty much the same laundry run as last week. Dropped the laundry at the laundromat, then went to Family Dollar for freeze-dried fruit and muffin papers. Picked up a soft pretzel and an Eggnog Smoothie at WaWa while the laundry was in the dryer. The smoothie at least tasted like eggnog, even if it was a bit watery.

Put away the laundry, then had lunch. Started Buttermilk Herb Bread while watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Clark Grizwauld (Chevy Chase) is determined to give everyone a "good-old fashioned family Christmas." Trouble is, the two sets of grandparents he invites over don't get along, the yuppies next door are about ready to strangle him for the mess he's caused, his excessive outdoor light display shorts out the neighborhood power grid, and the bonus he's hoping to get from his grouchy boss (Brian Doyle Murphy) is late. Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his brood show up just as Clark gets the lights going and cause even more chaos. In the end, as the tree burns and the SWAT team comes in through the windows, Clark finally figures out that we can't make Christmas perfect...but we can make it memorable.

One of the most popular Christmas movies of the last 30 years or so. If nothing else, this always made me appreciate my family's comparatively quiet Christmases and understand why Mom and Dad always insisted relatives who wanted to visit during the holidays did so the week between Christmas and New Year's. Great fun for pre-teens and teenagers who will be going on their own Christmas vacations this week, and adults who have likely gone through a lot of what happens here.

Came in as Tattletales was on its last question. This is Betty White Christmas week on Buzzr, with all the celebrity-based shows featuring Betty as a panelist or player. Alas, Betty and her Password-hosting husband Allen Ludden were defeated at the last minute by pulp writer Mickey Spillane and his wife Sherri and country charmer Bill Anderson and his wife Becky. Press Your Luck got nearly as crazy as last week. This time, the champ did prevail, winning a trip to Curacao, among other prizes, and retired with over 50,000 dollars worth of cash and prizes.

(By the way, the bread came out beautifully. I haven't tasted it, but it baked perfect and golden brown and smelled amazing in the oven. I need to do more yeast bread while I'm living here.)

Switched to writing for a while as the bread rose again. Gene makes a deal with eager reporter Robert Walden. If he helps him get a new ship and rescue his crew, he'll make sure he gets his scoop and in with his boss. Walden agrees to it, mainly so they can both have dinner.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Penny Marshall joined in for her only week on Match Game '75, along with Betty, Orson Bean, Melinda O'Fee, and the regulars, as Brett braced for answers on "she's not getting older, she's getting ___." Match Game PM began with Gene appearing to sleep on his usual entryway and ended with him filling in the last few minutes with a spontaneous tap dance.

Sale of the Century got very close today. The champ and the one lady each bought something, and everyone won a Fame Game. In the end, the champ and the other guy were neck-and-neck at the Speed Round, but the champ missed a question that allowed the guy to win the game. He picked up the 10,000 on the Match the Prizes board.

Made Cream Cheese Mints while the shows were on. These didn't come out quite as well as the bread did. I put a little too much milk in, and they got too hard to deal with. I had to chill the candy several times to really be able to work it. 

Switched to Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey while I finished up the mints. Nestor is a donkey with a problem. He has incredibly long ears that drag the ground and make him the butt of all the jokes on the farm. He and his mother finally flee, but he loses her to a snow storm. Sweet cherub Tilly takes him to the Middle East, where he's purchased by a certain couple who need a gentle donkey to take them to Bethlehem. Only he can see the couple and her precious unborn child safely through the sand storm in the desert.

Finished the night with more Christmas programming online. In The Bishop's Wife, David Niven is Bishop Henry Brougham, who wants to convince a wealthy older woman (Gladys Cooper) to donate the money for him to build a huge new cathedral. He's pursuing this so hard, it's causing him to neglect his daughter and his sweet wife Julia (Loretta Young). Enter Dudley (Cary Grant), an impossibly suave and handsome man who also happens to be an angel. He takes Henry's place with Julia in many activities, including skating and hearing the local boys' choir, but falls for her in the process. Henry's friend the Professor (Monty Wooley) convinces him to stand up for his love. Dudley's not there to help him build a cathedral, after all. He's there to show Henry that the most important things in our lives are the people and places we really care about.

Charming holiday tale with all three leads luminous and Grant making an especially delightful angel. Check out his quick method for decorating Christmas trees!

Maddie and David deal with their own holiday troubles in the second season Moonlighting episode 'Twas the Episode Before Christmas." Agnes DiPesto finds a baby in her laundry basket, prompting her bosses to search for its mother. They find a group of crooks who may have been involved in the death of the baby's father, and are now searching for mother and child. David and Maddie try to figure out what happened to the mother, all while arguing over the idea of children and taking care of them. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Have a Matching Christmas

Began a cloudy morning with gingerbread pancakes and one of my earliest Christmas CDs, Christmas Carousel by Peggy Lee. I bought this on a 1994 Christmas Eve errand run with Mom. We first stopped at a local liquor store; I remember, because I bought a mini-bottle of Coke. I'd never seen a soda bottle the size of a Hugs juice drink! After that, we went to the Acme. While she bought what she needed, I cruised the CD rack and ended up with Peggy Lee. My favorite song on this has always been the lilting title number. I'm also fond of the opening version of "Jingle Bells," "I Like a Sleigh Ride," the ballad "The Christmas Spell," and her version of "Happy Holidays." 

Switched to another album I've had for a long time, In the Christmas Mood, while doing the dishes and getting ready for work. I believe I picked up my original cassette copy of this one on a trip to Staples with Mom and the girls during Christmas 1993. My favorite numbers on this Glenn Miller Orchestra studio album are the two medleys, but their lively "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is so cute, even the Acme's played it.

Picked Uber up less than ten minutes later and got in with no time to spare. With the exception of 20 minutes sweeping inside, I spent most of the day rounding up carts. Couldn't have been happier. It was cloudy and showered a few times, but it wasn't windy or that cold. There was even a lovely magenta sunset when I picked the car going home. 

Rose called me not long after I got into work. I called her back, but didn't get her. I did see a pile of bags, vintage games, old furniture, and bins on the porch. Jodie left them there for the Veteran's of America to pick up tomorrow. I decided to save someone the trip to Goodwill and added my full pillowcase of things I wanted to get rid of to the pile. (I also claimed a vintage Othello game in perfect shape that I thought Lauren might want to play when she visits.)

Messed around on the computer for a half-hour before I heard voices in Jodie's den. Rose and her kids were visiting for the game. Jodie gave us our Christmas presents now. Khai got a book he wanted. Finley received a Bluey doll house and figures. Rose and I both got gift cards. Rose's is for Chewy, the online pet accessories supplier, so she can buy supplies for the puppy they're hoping to get. Mine is an Amazon card. 

Rose and I were also able to split Jodie and Dad's DVD collection, mostly stuff they either bought to watch with Khai when he was younger, or action and fantasy movies that Dad loved but Jodie doesn't. I claimed Happy Feet, Finding Nemo, the first and second Ice Age films, Cars, three Harry Potter movies, and the anime film Howl's Moving Castle

Played with Finley in the den, making Little Tykes figures in cars slide down the plastic mountain and putting together a dinosaur puzzle, and in the living room, playing with her new doll house and eating fries and chicken nuggets. Rose and Jodie went through the closet between the bar and the door to my apartment. Among the things they found - old folding chairs, swimming trophies that belonged to Dad and Uncle Ken, framed photos of my cousin Guy, and videos of an adult nature. (Those last ones went in the trash. Mark will send Guy his stuff in Taiwan.) 

Watched Finley for about 20 minutes in my side of the house while Rose got her things together to go home. Finley poked holes in the bruised apples sitting on the dresser in my kitchen as I put on A Disney Channel Christmas. We played with my Mickey and Minnie dolls styled to look like real 30's toys that I keep on the futon before Finley got bored and returned to her mother and grandmother. 

Went out to see Rose's new car. Evidently, they claimed Dad's car after he died, but it ended up needing too much work and they just got a new one instead. I don't think anyone's doing anything Christmas Eve, but Rose invited me to come over Christmas Day for a few hours. I might do it in the late-morning, early afternoon, after the kids opened their gifts. 

Finished Disney Channel Christmas while making Apple Cinnamon Muffins with the apples Finley poked. Mom taped this combination of two earlier Disney holiday TV specials around 1988, and I've watched it almost every Christmas since then. Jiminy Cricket introduces holiday-themed cartoons like "Pluto's Christmas Tree" and "The Art of Skiing" and we get segments from several Disney films that involve winter, parties, magic, or gift-giving. There's even a segment from the then-new Mickey's Christmas Carol included at the end. 

Ended the night after a shower with more Christmas game show episodes. Match Game always did at least one Christmas-themed episode a year, usually with Charles Nelson Reilly dressed as Santa Claus. By far the funniest of these came in 1978, when Brett joined Charles as a little girl sitting on Santa's knee who called herself Bretzy La Brat.

Christmas and game shows go back a long way. The original 1950's and 60's I've Got a Secret upped their cute quotient by having the children of crew members give the "secrets" on their 1957 holiday show. Two young ladies in the end had my favorite secret, about how old their mincemeat pie was, but the little girl who was related to two of the panelists was just such a cutie in her huge dress, it was hard to resist her. 

Family Feud let older relatives in on the fun. The Richard Dawson episode I went with from 1983 has the returning champs trying to keep their title by answering Christmas-related survey questions. I might have seen the 1991 episode as a 12-year-old; I would have been a huge fan of the show by then. The Christmas episode also happened to be the finale of their Tournament of Champions, pitting two winning families against each other. 

The last episode I did tonight was a real rarity. Until recently, I never knew Wheel of Fortune was on daytime as well as at night or that anyone besides Pat Sajak ever hosted it. Alas, most of Chuck Woolery's daytime run was erased, but somehow, all but the last few minutes of this 1980 episode survived. The game play isn't much different than the nighttime episodes...but instead of just winning prizes, the contestants buy prizes from a display with the money they've earned. Wheel doesn't often turn up online, especially in Chuck's version, so getting to see this at all is a treat.

Here's more Christmas game shows to keep you guessing until the big day!

Oh, and though the Eagles did try hard, they eventually lost to the Arizona Cardinals 33-26. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Christmas Spirit

Began a clear, sunny morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. It's "Snowflake Day" in the neighborhood! Daniel and his family, friends, and neighbors celebrate by making goodies and putting on a play. Daniel is excited at first to play the snowflake who begins the show, but he needs a little help to get over his stage fright and remember his lines. He's also the one who thinks of using the snowflake lanterns everyone carries in a unique way.

Worked on writing for a while after the cartoon ended. Robert Walden, the navigator on The Golden Medley, admits he's really a reporter for the New York Tribune. He's hoping Gene will help him get the scoop on Goodson and find his former teacher Charles Nelson Reilly.

Broke at quarter of 12 with just enough time to pack up, call Uber, and head out. Directed the driver to the post office in the shopping center behind the Acme. I wanted to finally get the packages for Mom and Anny and her family out. Got there just in time. They were 15 minutes from closing when I came in. Thankfully, the line moved fast, and I was only there for about five minutes. 

Since there's three fast-food restaurants on the way to the Acme, I thought I'd pick up lunch. I first considered Chick Fil'A, but they're still primarily running on take-out. Ended up ordering a chicken slider, tater tots, and cherry limeade at a very busy Sonic. Ate it in the back room at work before I started my shift. Though the weather was bright and sunny, it was also too cold to eat outside, probably in the lower 30's. 

While a bit busier than yesterday, work still wasn't overwhelmingly crazy. We had a ton of help, and most people were in a good mood as they began their Christmas baking and finished their shopping. I was in and out with no trouble whatsoever besides the card machines acting a bit odd.

Did manage to remember the money for grocery shopping this time. I mainly wanted to pick up food for Christmas dinner and the remaining baking and candy this week. Mini-marshmallows will go into ambrosia and fudge; pineapple chunks will also go into the ambrosia. I'll turn the cream cheese and powdered sugar into cream cheese mints. Cards are half-price now, and ribbon isn't bad either. Grabbed dark chocolate mousse mix, Cool Whip, and a graham cracker pie crust to make Coconut Chocolate Pie. Picked up orange juice and cranberries for Cranberry Bread. Didn't really need sugar, but I had an online coupon to get it for 99 cents. Restocked eggs, plain yogurt, oranges, broccoli, milk, greens, a green pepper, and brown sugar. 

Put on the Rankin-Bass Stingiest Man In Town while I put everything away. I go further into the 1978 animated version of the live-action TV musical at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Finished off the night with more PBS holiday fixtures. Lawrence Welk and his "musical family" made many Christmas episodes over the 30 or so years they were on the air. The three I watched tonight, from 1966, 1972, and 1980, were emblematic of the shows they put on over the years. Everyone sings a number, then freezes for a "Christmas card." The children of the performers join them for routines, and the families are introduced at the end. 

Rick Steves brings his own family along to experience the unique joys of a European Christmas. British children help their parents make mince pies and puddings in Bath and sing in choirs at their local churches. Adorable Saint Lucias bring saffron buns to the elderly in Norway. The French choose just the right truffles and beef to wrap with pastry for the big Christmas Eve dinner. Austrians bless the household with holy water and decorate the tree away from little eyes. Finding and decorating the tree is a family affair in Switzerland. The Tuscans set up a living nativity, while the Pope prepares to meet the faithful at the Vatican in Rome. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Holiday Weary

Started an early morning with breakfast and I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown. The longest and most recent of the Peanuts holiday specials mostly focuses on Re-Run and his desire to have a dog of his own. He begs Snoopy to play with him between his harrowing trips on his mother's bike. Snoopy sometimes enjoys it, but he's not always able to join the boy. They finally call Spike from the desert to teach Re-Run how hard it can be to care for a pet.

Unfortunately, it was too early for Uber. It took me 20 minutes to get a car, which meant I was late to work. At least it wasn't too bad, and they were dead at 8 in the morning. In fact, we were dead for most of the day. Even the lunch rush hour got mildly steady. I originally wanted to go grocery shopping when I finished, but for the second week in a row, I forgot my money and just went home.

At least I was able to pick up my schedule. The Acme gave me a Christmas present - two days off (including Christmas Day), less crazy hours, and bagging all week. Best schedule I've had in weeks. At least I'll have the chance to get a lot done, including the remaining bread and candy. 

When I got home, I ran Mr. Magoo's Chrismas Carol while changing, packing Mom and Anny's gifts and cookie tins, and enjoying almonds for a snack. I go further into this vintage holiday treat at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

I headed out to the post office around quarter of 4...before I realized I once again forgot my money. Ended up just going home. I am dead tired. I've worked almost 80 hours for the past two weeks. That may be nothing to a nurse or a doctor, but I'm not used to it. And along with that, I've Christmas shopped and wrapped and baked, and I found out my only means of transportation was now useless. 

Opted to finish Tattletales instead. Gene and Helen Rayburn, who were happily married for 50 years, were the big winners today over Patty Duke and John Astin and Bill and Samantha Macy. Press Your Luck had one of the wildest second rounds I've ever seen! Whammies flew fast and furious throughout the episode. The woman Whammied out early, leaving the guys to keep hitting Whammies, hitting money, and passing spins. The champ finally picked up a ton of money and two trips after a final Whammy knocked the other guy out. Poor Peter Tomarken fainted on his podium after all that!  

Recovered from the lunacy with a quiet two hours working on writing. Robert Walden is Captain Tom Kennedy's new navigator. He's also a former student of Charles'. As he tells Gene (after Gene puts on clothes), he's worried about his former mentor. He also admits he's no navigator - he's really a reporter from a New York newspaper sniffing out a story on pirates and Naval corruption.

Made Sweet Potato Hash while watching Match Game '75. Richard made an English joke with The Hound of the Baskerville early in the episode; later, a lady's Arkansas accent and it being a dry town prompted a few jokes. Allen Ludden and Betty White made their final joint TV appearance before his untimely death on Match Game PM, joined by Jimmie Walker and a lady who claimed to be a singing soda jerk. 

Tied ribbon around the cookie bags as Sale of the Century began. Things got kind of wild here, too. For the second week in a row, the champ lived in the same town they were offering a trip to (in this case, Reno), and Jim switched it to another city to convince him to buy. The lady won a Fame Game (partially because the champ gave an answer away and the question had to be replaced) and bought the last instant bargain, but the other guy kept jumping in too fast, and neither could get close to the champ in the Speed Round. He picked up a trip to Puerto Rico on the Match the Prizes board.

Finished the night online after a shower with another Christmas Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is notorious as one of the worst movies ever made. It's what the title says. Martians kidnap Santa and two human kids to make their children happy. Santa creates a toy factory for the Martian children, but the king of the Martians thinks they're being too frivolous and tries to sabotage the factory. Meanwhile, one of his minions decides he likes Santa and tries to imitate him, leading to more chaos. 

Hoo boy. This one makes Santa Claus: The Movie look like It's a Wonderful Life. Cheap, goofy, badly acted, and VERY mid-60's. It absolutely needs the riffing from Joel and the robots. I actually prefer the slightly less campy Mexican Santa Claus this show covered in the Mike era, which at least has the funny bits with Santa and the devil in the end. At any rate, if you're a fan of bad sci-fi or MS3K, both episodes are worth checking out. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

 Awoke to a glowing morning, all clean, fresh, and white. The next-door neighbors own a snow blower and were just clearing off the path to my apartment when I pulled out Tales Told Under the Christmas Tree. This anthology features Hanukkah stories as well as ones for Christmas. My favorite by far is the story of the young boy from Austria coming to live with his aunt and uncle in the US during the Hanukkah season in the late 40's. He's used to Nazi persecution and not being able to openly celebrate his faith, and his relatives' huge party overwhelms him. It takes a special gift to make him feel more at home.

Colliers Harvest of Holidays also features Hanukkah stories. My favorite in this one comes from More All-In-the-Family. The girls are delighted to enjoy their mother's potato pancakes and play the dreidel game at a family party. Henny goes back for her mother's umbrella and ends up with all the nuts she can carry home.

Put on The Bernstein Bears' Christmas Tree while eating breakfast and getting ready for work. Papa Bear takes the cubs up into the mountains to find a real tree in the wilderness. They keep being chased off by animals who don't like them trying to chop down their homes. Papa figures out too late that the animals want to celebrate Christmas, too, but there's a surprise waiting for him and the cubs when they get back to the tree house.

Worked on writing for an hour after the cartoon ended. Tom orders another member of his crew, Robert Walden, to help Gene out and give him more details on the plan. Robert asks Gene about Charles - he was his teacher years ago on land.

Called Uber shortly after I got offline. This time, I had no problems getting there or back. The roads were clear enough for most Uber drivers to get through. Thankfully, the cell phone waited to die on me until I'd already gotten through to a driver. 

Work was...dead as a doornail for most of the afternoon. Even rush hour was mildly steady at most. I did a lot of standing around or cleaning. No major problems at all; was in and out.

Went straight into scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and cheese for dinner when I got home. Made Cherry-Coconut Bars, the last cookies I give away for Christmas, while watching The Stingiest Man In Town. I go further into the original live-action version of this vintage TV Christmas Carol with Basil Rathbone and Vic Damone at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Did Sale of the Century as I went online. The champ just kept right on dominating. He bought two of the three Instant Bargains and won at least one Fame Game. The other man came on strong in the end, but he just pulled ahead in the Speed Round. Picked up 3,000 on the Match the Prizes board.

(Oh, and from a commercial I caught during Sale, it looks like Buzzr's going to do a Match Game New Year's Eve marathon. On one hand, I'm a bit surprised they're doing this so soon after the Betty White Christmas week. Match Game will likely be a big part of that - Betty made frequent appearances on that show. On the other hand, the Match Game New Year's episodes are hilarious, and I enjoyed watching them on New Year's Eve last year. The marathon will be a great way to end a difficult year on a high note.)

Finished out the night online, writing my review and watching another version of A Christmas Carol. My favorite film version is the 1951 British retelling with Alistair Sim. Sim wonderfully nails Scrooge, especially his redemption in the end. I love how the char woman completely and understandably freaks out in the end when he's giving her money after barely acknowledging her for 30 years. 

Did The Ghost and Mrs. Muir after that ended. "The Ghost and Christmas Past" from the second season is another riff on Christmas Carol. Stingy Claymore Cliegg (Charles Nelson Reilly) finds a baby in his car. He turns it over to Mrs. Muir (Hope Lange) and her family, but barely helps with the money for its care and won't bargain over a Christmas tree. It takes a strange and familiar dream on Christmas Eve to make Claymore realize the importance of charity and giving, especially to family...and the ghost Captain Cliegg realize his dream of being a part of the family. 

Oh, and hope all of you who celebrate it had a wonderful Hanukkah this week! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Walking In the Air

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and Frosty the Snowman in honor of the weather we were supposed to get later. Frosty (Jackie Vernon) is the creation of a group of kids on Christmas Eve who comes to life via a magic magician's hat. It's original owner Professor Hinkle (Billy De Wolfe), a terrible magician, wants it back. Little Karen (June Foray) takes Frosty up to the North Pole to evade Hinkle and keep him from melting. 

Continued onto Frosty Returns as I got ready for work. This isn't another follow-up to the Rankin-Bass Frosty. In this 1992 special, a far more hip and sarcastic Frosty (John Goodman) joins two kids to save their town's winter carnival from a nasty executive (Brian Doyle Murphy) whose snow removal chemicals threatens the entire event...and Frosty's life as well.

The snow still hadn't arrived by the time the Uber driver pulled up to the curb. It didn't start snowing until several hours later, while I dealt with panicky customers buying all their baking supplies before the snow got bad. At least that was the worst thing that happened all day. It slowed down later in the day, though it never really died out. My relief arrived on time, and I was in and out...

Or I would have been, if my cell phone behaved. I plugged it in, and it still kept resetting. It claimed it had barely any juice left, though it was up to 77 during my break. I tried getting through to Uber three times, and three times, it died before I could confirm their call. (And I dropped it - again - as I dashed out.)

As it turned out, I probably wouldn't have gotten through to Uber, even if my cell phone worked. Fat, fluffy flakes spun down in huge clumps, obscuring everything and sticking to the streets. Even if I could call someone, no one could get through that mess. Most of my family doesn't drive in the snow. I just ended up walking home. It took me a while. Most sidewalks weren't shoveled, and the snow blurred my glasses. At least the lights are pretty, shining against the whiteness. Hillcrest Avenue looks like a Christmas card.

Speaking of Christmas cards, one waited for me when I got home and shook off. Mom sent me a second card...ironically of a pretty tree in a glittery snow scene. She's right that it is lovely.

Tried doing a little writing when I finally changed into dry clothes and sat down. Gene swings his legs to get out of bed. He's not being left out of this. Tom reminds him that they'll need all the help they can get. Goodson has a whole platoon of sailors with him.

Broke early for dinner at 6. Wanted to get started on the Merry Christmas Molasses Roll-Outs as soon as I finished my leftovers. This vintage recipe from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book is basically a crispier form of gingerbread. I brush my cookies with egg wash and shake colored sprinkles on them. They're fun to cut and decorate, but they do take a while to make, chill, and roll out. 

Watched Match Game '75 during dinner. In the first episode, the losing contestant asks for a kiss from Gene...and gets a pretty interesting kiss sound effect along with the smooch. The second had all of the regulars getting white carnations from a lady in the audience. It's Game Show Host night on Match Game PM. Of the panelists - Peter Marshall of Hollywood Squares, Brett, Dick Martin, Elaine Joyce, Bill Cullen, and Betty White - only Brett never hosted a game show. (And that includes Charles, who was on hiatus directing an opera.) 

It was a second close game in a row on Sale of the Century. The lady won at least one Fame Game and the challenger bought the first Instant Bargain. In the end, the champ picked up the third Instant Bargain, won a Fame Game, and killed at the Speed Round. He picked up a lovely diamond ring for his wife.

Watched The Snowman as I pulled the cookies out of the oven and cleaned up the dough mess. This was the perfect day for the lovely tale of a little boy in the English countryside who builds himself a snowman, then dreams he comes to life. He shows him all around his house and yard, including a ride on a motorcycle. His friend eventually takes him on a flight across the sea to the North Pole, where Santa Claus and his fellow snowpeople insist he join a huge Christmas party.

Finished the night online with the cozy Christmas In Connecticut on TCM. Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the most popular food columnist in America. There's just one problem. The charming farm and baby she spins yarns about are fictional. In real life, she's a single city girl who can't boil water. All her scrumptious recipes come from her Hungarian friend Felix's (S.Z Sakall's) restaurant. 

The trouble starts when her scrupulous-for-accuracy boss (Sydney Greenstreet) insists on inviting herself and a war hero (Dennis Morgan) over to her farm for Christmas. Turns out John (Reginald Gardiner), the pompous architect who's been trying to propose to Elizabeth for ages, has a farm. He insists that they get married for Christmas....but then Elizabeth lays eyes on the handsome sailor and falls head over heels. Missing babies, runaway cows, and local dances make for one hectic Christmas, and teaches Elizabeth that honest is the best policy, especially where love is concerned. 

Morgan and Stanwyck make a charming couple in this sweet romantic comedy, but the movie is stolen by Sakall and Greenstreet as the two very different bosses. Highly recommended viewing for a chilly, snowy December evening curled up in front of the fire. 

Oh, and by the way, it rained for a while around midnight. I don't think it's doing anything out there right now. There might be a little snow in the early morning, but the roads seem to be pretty clear. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Cookie Baking Day

Began the morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. He and Miss Elaina are delighted with "A Snow Day." He wants to wear his astronaut helmet outside, but eventually figures out that even astronauts need to wear the right clothes to keep warm. Katarina wants it to be "Tutu All the Time," at least until her favorite dance outfit gets smudged with pain and won't fit through the block cave opening when she's playing with Daniel and Prince Wednesday.

Continued with Body Language as I finished eating. This was the episode I saw during the marathon in January where the contestant got so insane when he won the bonus round money, Lauri Hendler and host Tom Kennedy put up their chairs to hold him back. The mother and daughter pair continue to dominate Blockbusters. They defeated a lady at the beginning, only missed two questions on the Gold Run, and were starting again with another lady when the show ended.

Looked up something on my phone, then headed out to run errands. At least the weather continued to behave. It was sunny, breezy, and cold as I strolled down the White Horse Pike to the laundromat. They were a little busy when I arrived, so I also made a quick run to Family Dollar for sponges and evaporated and condensed milk for candy next week and to WaWa for a Peppermint Mocha Smoothie. (It was amazing, by the way, delicious and very minty.)

As soon as I got home, I decided it was time to finally get rid of the old dresser. It's been leaning on the side of the house next to my door for months. I took out the drawers, then managed to carry it down the path to my place. Once that got to be too much of a strain, I was able to drag it on the grass and the new sidewalk to where Jodie had the rest of her trash. 

When I got in, I put away the groceries and the laundry, then had lunch while watching In the Good Old Summertime. I go further into this romantic comedy featuring Judy Garland and Van Johnson as music shop salespeople who don't realize they're corresponding with each other at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Switched to The First Christmas Snow as I began the first Christmas cookies of the year, Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal. Little shepherd Lucas is taken in by the nuns of a small parish when he's left blind after an accident. All he wants is to see snow and figure out what to give Sister Angelica (Angela Landsbury) for Christmas, but the fussy priest (Cyril Ritchard) thinks he should be in an orphanage, and then a couple of boys play a mean trick and lose his sheep. 

The cookies were almost out of the oven as Tattletales began. Popular pugilist Sugar Ray Robinson and his wife Millie beat Robert Culp of I Spy and his wife Sheila Sullivan and Charles Nelson Reilly and his buddy Elizabeth Allen, getting all but two answers right. Moved on to Cake Mix Peanut Butter Cookies by the time Press Your Luck was on. The champ was on her last day and would have been done anyway, but she was still defeated by a young man who wound up with a trip and a jet ski, despite him having 3 Thanksgiving dinner-eating Whammies.

Worked on writing for a while after the cookies were out of the oven. Gene's frustrated and disappointed that Brett couldn't trust him with her secret, and he's angry and betrayed by Richard's defection. Allen and Tom aren't happy with Richard either. Tom admits that other pirates have called Richard "arrogant" and claim he'd been nothing short of a dictator on the Family Fortunes, too.

Broke for a quick leftovers dinner and Match Game '75 at 6:30. The episode began with Orson Bean coming onstage to admit he was there as a stand-in just in case Gary Burghoff's wife had their baby and trading quips with Gene and ended with Gene leg wrestling with a contestant (and losing). Match Game PM got almost as crazy when Debralee Scott showed off her leg to illustrate an answer and modest Bill Daily tried to cover it with his coat. 

Was working on the biscotti by the time Sale of the Century began. The two men pushed each other around all evening. One of them bought a trip and won a Fame Game, but the champ came on very strong in the Speed Round. He eventually picked up the 10,000 on the Match the Prizes board.

Finally finished the night online with more holiday sitcom episodes. "Dear Sis" from season 7 of MASH gives us Father Mulcahy's (William Chrisopher) views on the lunacy at the 4077th during the Christmas season. He's feeling useless when no one attends his sermons and upset over having to belt a belligerent soldier in the mouth, but the others eventually make him realize how important he is to their morale.

The Golden Girls also help the less fortunate in "Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas" from season 5. Tired of shopping in record Miami heat, they eventually decide to do a Secret Santa and focus on giving one person each a gift. Rose (Betty White) convinces them to join her in volunteering to dole out dinner at a homeless shelter. Among the folks they're feeding is Stan (Herb Edleman), Dorothy's (Beatrice Arthur) ex-husband dressed as Santa. He's frustrated and broke after his latest get-rich-quick scheme fell through, but Dorothy reminds him that he's better off than the homeless families with small children.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Raining In Christmas

Awoke to gloomy clouds and cold showers. Cheered up the morning with breakfast and the Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph (Bille Mae Richards) is an adorable baby reindeer born with a glowing nose. Everyone at the North Pole finds his nose offensive, including Santa (Stan Francis). The only ones who aren't bothered by it are sweet doe Clarice (Janis Orenstein) and Hermie (Paul Soles), an elf who wants to be a dentist. Hermie and Rudolph take off across the frozen north, encountering boisterous Yukon Cornelius (Larry Mann) and avoiding the Bumble Snowmonster. They end up at the Island of Misfit Toys before Rudolph finally heads home, hoping to confront the others. But then a huge snowstorm hits...

Headed for work shortly after Rudolph ended. The showers continued as the quiet Uber driver pulled up in front of Jodie's side of the house. The Uber rides to and from work were smooth sailing; I had a nice chat about pets with the pleasant lady going home. 

Work was equally smooth sailing. We were mildly steady during rush hours, but otherwise quiet. The weather may have scared some people off; others are likely finishing out their Christmas shopping at the malls or online. At the very least, I remembered to pick up the roll of Christmas wrapping paper I bought on Saturday and forgot. It's very pretty and old-fashioned, with a dark poinsettia print over a white background.

Thankfully, by the time I finished, the rain was gone and a lovely orange sunset blazed across the sky. As soon as I got home, I admired the last of it while working on my fanfic. Betty White admits to Gene she knew Brett's secret. They're old friends. Brett fled her husband when she got fed up with his gambling and their constant arguing, left her children with her parents in Maine Territory, and signed up with the first pirate ship she could find that would take her. She wanted to prove she could make money and live her own life away from her husband.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had shrimp and peas while watching Match Game '75. The champ won again...but this time, they played a Sousa march. Not that this stopped Betty or Brett from doing their own interpretations of belly dancing! Meanwhile, Allen went to have a talk with Gene after he joked about "having Betty" during the Audience Match. Brenda Dickson didn't do as well in the next episode, accidentally blurting out an answer and forcing them to toss the question. Gentle giant Richard Kiel joined Mary Ann Mobley, diminutive Paul Williams, Gene, and the regulars for Match Game PM. The moment Kiel stood, Gene told him he could write whatever he wanted!

Sale of the Century heat up as I made Chocolate Chip-Coconut Muffins for work later this week. The champ tried, but the other guy bought all three Instant Bargains (including the trip to New York with the dancing Big Apple), and the woman won two of the three Fame Games. The other man decisively won the Speed Round and picked up a trip to Singapore on the Match the Prizes board.

Finished the night online with another classic Rankin-Bass special, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. I go further into this and Rudolph in this blog entry from December 2018 at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.