Friday, January 31, 2020

Bank On Matches

Slept in this morning and started off the day with Match Game. Comedian Orson Bean and comedienne and writer Fannie Flag join Richard, Gene, Brett, and Charles for a cute episode in 1974. Also along is a sweet blonde woman named Abby Dalton; I didn't recognize her, but research reveals that soap opera fans will know her from her stint on the 80's prime time soap Falcon Crest. I didn't recognize adorable Jackie Joseph in her pink cap in the next episode, either. I'm more familiar with poem-loving comedian Nipsey Russell and Jo Ann Worley, one of my favorite performers from Laugh-In.

Made dinner while the shows were on. I thought I'd try a recipe from the low-fat Crock Pot cookbook Lauren sent me for my birthday a while back. I eliminated the black beans because my little pot didn't have the room for them, and the can of kidney beans was about to expire anyway. Added ground turkey, a little chopped celery, carrot, and onion, and cumin and chili powder (but not the red pepper - I'm not that crazy).

Made a quick lunch and got organized while watching Olym-pinks. The Pink Panther competes in skiing in the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. His fellow team member wishes the audiences would pay more attention to him, but no matter what he does, he always ends up in the ice and getting sick, or flying off the side of a cliff. Meanwhile, the Pink has to out-ski a piano that seems determined to follow him around.

Headed out around 1:30 after adjusting my seat pole again. I had an appointment with the PNC Bank in Collingswood to check up on my three accounts there. There really isn't much to tell. I'm still broke. Every time I try to save money, I end up spending it on my rent. The lady I talked to, Trish, was a real sweetheart. She admitted that she also comes from a big family and could understand why I wanted to live independently. I wish I could buy a small house of my own, but I just can't afford it right now. She also suggested talking to the Acme about my retirement money. I should have a retirement fund, but I really have very little idea of how any of that works.

Made a quick stop at Frugli Consignment a couple of blocks down Haddon Avenue after I left. I was hoping to find new pants for work. My khaki pants finally got holes in them. No luck. No pants in my size there that were appropriate for work.

Went straight home, grabbed my laundry, and ducked right back out again. I needed to get clothes done. Given it was 3:30 by the time I got in, I shouldn't have been surprised that it was really busy. I got one of the last cheap washers. At least the crowds cleared out really quick. By the time my laundry was in the dryer, it was down to me and two women, the older of whom did nothing but complain about how slow the front-loading washer she used was moving. (Uh, they're a different brand than the top-loaders. Of course they move and work differently.)

Went into writing after I finished putting the laundry away. Charles and invisible musicians play the music for Bill and Marcia's "date," mainly so Charles can listen in on their conversation. Gene provides entertainment with fire and illusions, and Brett and the maids bring dish after spectacular dish. Bill rambles as he tries to talk to Marcia without telling her what's really going on, but Marcia's starting to wonder what his place here is...

Broke for that savory rich Crock Pot turkey chili at 6:30. The Match Game episode was one of the ones with Jack Albertson Buzzr ran not long ago. A bubbly young lady who apparently befriends teens in need finally beat the guy on Sale of the Century. She got a beautiful, if rather large for my taste, ruby ring, along with 5,000 for winning the bonus round. Dealers on Let's Make a Deal included an aerobics instructor in a striped leotard (so 80's!), a young man in prison stripes and his fiancee, and a football player. The girl in the leotard got the big deal of the day with a stunning red car.

Finished the night making Double Chocolate Mint Truffle Cookies for the annual Chili Cook Off the Acme always has the Saturday before the Super Bowl. I can't bring a crock pot or big pot of chili on my bike, so I usually bring a dessert. Figured cookies would be the easiest to carry...and those peppermint truffle "chips" are so sweet and delicious, they deserve to be shared.

Continued Downton Abbey while I worked. Everyone in the household is over the moon when Matthew can not only feel his legs, but is able to stand again. Now that he can move, he finally proposes to his girl Lavinia (Zoe Boyle). Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is incensed when her husband Sir Richard Carlisle (Ian Glen) asks maid Anna (Joanne Frogatt) and butler Carson (Jim Carter) to spy on her in their new home. She's more successful keeping her sister Sybil (Jessica Brown Findley) from running off with the chauffeur Branson (Allen Leech). Meanwhile, former housemaid Edith (Amy Nuttall) is nervous about meeting the parents of the soldier she had her baby with, and valet Bates (Brendan Coyle) is worried that he might be accused of killing his wife, who just committed suicide.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tax Woman

Kicked off the day with a quick breakfast and What's My Line? The panel really rolled today. Soupy Sales guessed that a woman was a flag man on a construction crew almost immediately. (And bless her! I hope she did well there.) It took them a little longer with the second man, but Arlene Francis finally figured out that the gentleman created a clam opening that could cut open a clam and get the meat out without switching utensils.

Work was absolutely dead this morning. I did do carts, but I also had plenty of time to clean up a spilled flower container, rounded up the outside trash and recycling, and sweep the store. At least it was nice when I was outside, breezy and chilly, but also sunny, with a lovely blue sky.

Went straight home after I finished. Read The Whole Town's Talking, then put on the first Valentine's Day special of the season while eating yogurt and celery with peanut butter for lunch. Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers is a series of bits from various shorts tied together in a story that has Bugs insisting that an Elmer-like Cupid is meddling with the Toons' affairs. The DVD also includes two full shorts. "Holiday Highlights" is a spoof of popular holidays in the calendar, including Valentine's Day. "Past Perfumance" has Pepe La Pew pursuing a disguised cat at a movie studio after his scent clears out the director and crew.

Pulled up the seat on my bike, then headed out. Took the long way across Newton Lake Park. It was an absolutely glorious day for it, with the sun shining on the deep green waters and the wind blowing through the dried reeds and plants on the shore. I dodged plenty of people taking themselves or their dogs  out for a stroll and kids on their way home from school.

The Haddon Township Library was fairly busy when I arrived, too. A lot of people must have taken out DVDs earlier this week, because the return carts were overflowing. I shelved more than half the adult titles and couldn't fit in more. I was only there for about 45 minutes, not long enough to finish the cart, though I did get to most of it. The library only had two of Fannie's books in. I grabbed the non-holiday one, Can't Wait to Get to Heaven. Didn't take any movies out. I still haven't gotten through Downton Abbey, and there's other movies and shows I haven't watched yet at home, online and on disc.

Made a quick stop at Target on the way home. All I needed was conditioner. Went in, grabbed Pantene's curl formula, and went out.

My W2 arrived today, allowing me to finally finish my taxes. It takes me less than an hour. I own no property, have no dependents, only have one part-time job, and do it online. It went out and was accepted by the end of the night. I should have 900 dollars coming within the next few weeks.

Worked on writing for a little while after I finished. Marcia loves the dress Jo Ann (Worley) gave her that had been the Queen's. Bill is literally speechless. For once, it takes Charles and Richard's prompting to even get him to talk to her. Of course, once they get him going, he has a tendency to not stop...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while watching Match Game. Jo Ann Pflug, Betty White, and Bert Convy finished out their run with two episodes where Richard gave "hand" as an answer to the Audience Match "trench ___," leading everyone to spend the remaining show joking about the dangers of "trench hand." The young man on Sale of the Century continued his excellent run, winning the money on the bonus round with one minute to spare.

Finished the night with The Pirate. I go further into this cult swashbuckler, my second Judy Garland-Gene Kelly musical of the week, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Cult Flops - The Pirate

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Eagle Has (Not) Landed

Began the morning with breakfast and Buzzr. Came in just in time to see the panel on To Tell the Truth, including Gene Rayburn from Match Game, guess correctly that one guest was a priest. The panel also had luck on What's My Line? Soupy Sales caught on that the guy was apparently a teacher at a famous needlepoint store and school in New York. He got to show off some of his and his students' work, including an amazing tapestry depicting Native American women at work. I definitely have more appreciation of the needlepoint Gene Rayburn did and my mother still does.

In good news, work was dead for most of the day. It got steadier later in the afternoon, but it was never close to overwhelming. In fact, it was so quiet, I spent most of the day returning items or organizing the gift card kiosk. In frustrating news, I discovered I didn't have as much vacation time left as I thought. The manager said I can use my personal days to cover the extra days, but not only does that mean I don't have any left for the year, but I won't get the money until next week. I also ended up in the register twice to cover breaks. We still weren't busy, but there just wasn't enough help.

Went straight home as soon as I could get out. Took the recycling to the outside canister and the trash to the curb, then did some writing. The entire castle prepares the dining room for Bill the wolf and Marcia to have an intimate dinner. Charles prepares the invisible musicians. Richard helps in the kitchen. Brett supervises the table-setting. Rose garlands are hung from the chandelier. One of the maids brings Marcia down in a gold and lace gown. She's impressed, but now Bill has to figure out how to show her how he feels about her, even as a canine...

Broke for dinner at 6. Had leftovers while watching Match Game. Tattletales host Bert Convy, adorable Joyce Bulifant, and a very pregnant Jo Ann Pflug joined Charles, Brett, Gene, and Richard for two episodes from 1975. The guy who'd won before finally made his way through a bonus round - and to $10,000 - on Sale of the Century.

Finished the night with Eddie the Eagle. Michael Edwards (Taran Eggerton) has always wanted to compete in the Olympics, despite him not being typical athletic material. As a teen, he switches from wanting to be in the Summer Olympics to the Winter one. After trying skiing, he finds he enjoys ski jumping the most...but England hasn't had a ski jumper in the Olympics since 1928. He goes to Germany to train for the 1988 Calgary Olympics, but all the experienced German and Scandinavian ski jumpers make fun of him. Former American ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) thinks he's crazy, but takes him under his wing anyway. Eddie finally manages to take the 40 meter hill, but the English Olympic team doesn't think that's good enough and changes the rules to make it 60. He misses the landing...but the team takes him anyway. Bronson's worried that Eddie may make a fool of himself with his lack of talent, but Eddie doesn't care. All he wants is to prove to his family, England, and all the world that he can make the Olympics, and you don't need to look like Hugh Jackman to be a real athlete...or a real winner.

Like I, Tonya, this is a rare historical film where I actually remember the history involved. I didn't see Eddie's infamously bad jumps - I probably would have been in school - but I did hear about them on the news, and read about them later when I was into figure skating and winter sports in the mid-90's. Eggerton and Jackman are charming and fun as the young man who is determined to be in the Olympics no matter what and the former pro who thinks he's crazy, but admires his spirit. The great soundtrack of British and American late 80's rock and retro-synthesizer score really helps with the authenticity.

If you remember Eddie's moment in the winter sun too, or are a fan of either leading man, this is one jump well worth making.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Matches and Mall Memories

Began the morning on Buzzr with breakfast and Blockbusters. A woman played a brother-sister pair, and it was a pretty close game, too. The lady would get an answer and get close...and then the brother and sister would block her and get an answer. They still hadn't finished the game when I switched it off to work on the mall essay.

The first major mall I spent any real time in was the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing. Going to the mall in the mid-late 90's was a major event in my family. All six of us and maybe a friend or two would load into Dad's van in the late morning, then drive the 45 minutes of the Garden State Parkway and spend all day at the mall.

I spent as much time as I could hanging around either the book stores, the music stores, KB Toys, or Suncoast Music and Movies. Suncoast sold a lot of rare and unusual videos I couldn't find anywhere else; I bought several of my MacDonald/Eddy operettas on video there. Mom would have preferred I'd spent my time buying new clothes for school, but I've always hated trying on clothes! Even now, I still hate it. Unless I was admiring prom gowns in JC Penney, I wasn't interested.

We always had lunch at Red Lobster. It was the first restaurant to open in the parking lot outside the mall. Dad and Mom would splurge and get us the works - fancy drinks, a big seafood dinner, even dessert. There were always tons of leftovers to bring home, and we'd usually try to sneak a few of their amazing cheddar drop biscuits along. One time, Dad actually forgot our he put the container with our leftovers on the roof of the car! He didn't remember until he heard something fly off the van and thump on the side of the road. The only food we had left from that trip was Rose's slice of key lime pie, which she insisted on keeping with her.

I spent even more time at the Hamilton Mall when I was in college. Richard Stockton College (now University) is 20 minutes from the Hamilton Mall. Now I could spend as much time as I wanted in book stores and only buy clothes when I really needed them. It helped that my then-boyfriend was also a big reader. Most of our dates had us wandering around Borders or Waldenbooks or KB Toys, checking everything out and buying each other chai lattes.

(The Hamilton Mall is still there, but apparently, like most malls, it's having problems. It lost JC Penney and Sears within the last two years. It's the only major mall in the Southern Jersey Shore area, so I doubt it'll close anytime soon, but they do need to develop some other entertainment options there if they really want their audience back.)

Broke for lunch at 12:30: Had yogurt and celery with peanut butter while watching Match Game. Madelyn Rhue, Gary Burgoff, and Betty White joined Richard, Brett, Gene, and a returning Charles Nelson Reilly for a round of matching and madness. They were just winding down when I rushed out the door.

Got to work just in time. After all that, work wasn't really that busy. Except for doing a few returns and cleaning up a small spill right as I came in, I mainly alternated between sweeping and gathering carts for most of the day. The weather remained cloudy, windy, and cold, but I still would rather be outside with the carts than inside dealing with everyone.

Went straight into dinner when I got home. Jack Cassidy, Conny Van Dyke, and Betty White finally finished up their run on the evening Match Game with several jokes about Jack looking like John Barrymore...and being just as hammy as him, too. One question about Jack's face and his retirement hit a little too close to home, though...

Finished the night after a shower with For Me and My Gal. I go into further detail on Gene Kelly's first film and his first with Judy Garland at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

For Me and My Gal

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Ladies and the Hustle

Started the day with the soundtrack from The Happiest Millionaire as I ate breakfast. This live-action Disney musical tells the story of the Biddle family, mainly the relationship between Anthony Biddle (Fred MacMurray) and his daughter Cordelia (Leslie Ann Warren). Tommy Steele also turns up as the Biddles' proudly Irish butler, and John Davidson is Cordelia's beau. The music isn't the Sherman Brothers' best, but there are a few songs I like. Cordelia muses on growing out of her tomboy phase, wondering if she should love "Valentine Candy" or continue boxing with her family. "Are We Dancing?" is a decent duet for Cordy and her sweetheart Angie, and Steele joins snooty aunts Gladys Cooper and Geraldine Page for "There Are Those."

(And something I didn't realize until I really looked it up tonight - Joyce Bulifant, the goofy dimpled blonde from Match Game, was in this movie. She played Cordelia's roommate at boarding school and sang the vamp spoof "Bye Yum Pum Pum.")

Work was on-and-off steady, nothing really terrible. I rounded up recycling early-on and shelved gum, but once again, I was mainly outside with the carts. Some managers and customers claimed it was cold and it spit at one point. It was windy, cloudy, and a little chilly, but I never felt any rain, and the wind and cold could have been worse.

Went straight home after I finished and into putting up the Valentine's Day decorations. I couldn't find a place for the tinsel garlands, but I did put up everything else. Cardboard hearts hang on the cookbook shelf doors. Valentina the pink penguin and Amoura the love frog are on the DVD shelves. A pink bear tin is behind the DVD player. A small brown and red heart box guards the TV; a larger ruffled heart box brightens the book shelves in my bedroom. Taped up large red Mylar hearts and vintage hangings of a little pioneer girl with her puppy and a teddy bear holding a valentine.

Watched Downton Abbey as I worked. Season two, episode six begins with the arrival of a badly burned Canadian officer who claims he's Patrick Crawley (Trevor White), the heir who was lost in the Titanic disaster. Mary (Michelle Dockery), his former fiancee, doesn't believe him, but her sister Edith (Laura Carmichael) does after he remembers things only Patrick would know. Needless to say, current heir Matthew (Dan Stevens) is not happy, though he has lovely Lavinia (Zoe Boyle) to console him. Patrick, dismayed by everyone's lack of faith, takes off, upsetting Edith. Everyone else is just happy that the war is over. Matthew's mother Isobel (Penelope Wilson) wants to continue to use Downton as a hospital, but Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) insists it's a home first.

After everything was up, I finally got around to something I've been meaning to do. Roku can stream PBS and PBS Kids for free, but you have to activate both first.  All you need to do is plug in a series of letters Roku shows online. I did both, signed in, chose WHYY as my local station, and they're now up and running.

Did some writing after the PBS stations were uploaded. Charles finally tells Bill that he's figured out he was the one who wrote the romantic letters to Marcia. Bill's tried writing her again, but he can't hold a quill in his paws. Charles gives him ideas on how to make his dinner with her more romantic.

Broke for dinner at 6. Had the last of the leftover chili while watching tonight's Match Game. Notorious ham Jack Cassidy joined Richard Dawson playing pirates in a nautical question in the first episode, while another question joked about Betty White's parties with her Password host husband Allan Ludden in the second.

Made Carrot Muffins as Buzzr switched to Sale of the Century. It was another close game today, at least until the speed round, where the man on the left absolutely killed the other two. It did him no good in the bonus round. He got caught up on a question and ran out of time before he could answer the last one.

Finished the night with The Hustle. Small-time con woman Penny Rust (Rumor Wilson) is enamored with the wealthy lifestyle of fellow hustler Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) and wants to learn all her secrets. Josephine takes her in and teaches her the art of the hustle, eventually starting up a con with Penny passing as her crazy sister, who scares men out of their money. When Josephine won't pay her, Penny challenges her to hustle Thomas (Alex Sharp), the rich creator of a wildly popular app. Penny does seduce Thomas...but in doing so, falls for him. Not only does Thomas have feelings for her too, but he's definitely not what he claims to be...

Charming female-centric remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels floats on the talents of its two leads and some stunning French Riviera vistas and nifty costumes. Evidentaly, the critics were rough on this one when it came out last year, but I think they were too hard on it. If you love con capers or the two leading ladies, you'll want to give these dirty rotten scoundrellettes a look.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Always a Silver Lining

Began the morning with my first day back at work. Thankfully, it was no problem. I did shelve gum at one point, but I spent most of the time outside with the carts. It was a nice day for it, too. Though the sun was in and out, it was windless and relatively warm for the time of year, in the mid 40's. The vanishing sun gave the broken clouds a silvery, almost eerie glow. By the time I was having a harder time keeping up with the carts, I was just about done.

Got my schedule right after work. In good news, pretty normal hours, two later and two earlier days along with today. In frustrating news, next day off is Friday. We'll have to see when I can get anything done, including getting to the bike shop.

Had quite a bit of grocery shopping to do today. I was at home for most of last week and ate there quite a bit. Had an online coupon for sugar. Friendly's Ice Cream is on a four day sale; went with one of my favorite flavors, cherry vanilla. Bought stir-fry seasoning and frozen vegetables for dinner later. Restocked brown sugar, butter, milk, cranberries, cereal, honey, oranges, bananas, Parmesan cheese, ground turkey, and cake mix.

Went straight home after that. Put everything away, changed, and made banana pancakes for lunch. They didn't come out well. Burned at least one side of each. In the end, I couldn't finish them.

Listened to the soundtrack of the original 1967 Doctor Dolittle in honor of the version of Dr. Dolittle with Robert Downey Jr. currently in theaters. The tale of a doctor who works better with animals than people may have delighted children for decades, but they don't seem to do well as films. The 1967 version was an overproduced mess with an obnoxious Rex Harrison miscast as the famous veterinarian, but it does have some good songs. "Talk to the Animals" was the hit and won the Oscar, but the ballads are better, including one for Anthony Newley that didn't make it into the movie, "Where are the Words?"

Worked on writing for the rest of the evening. Marcia finally tells Bill the wolf that she'll take Bill Cullen's place there. The others also opt to remain. Gene sends Cullen off to get help, while the wolf explains that the servants in the castle aren't ghosts. They're invisible, thanks to the curse he can't talk about. He sends the women off to one suite and the men to another, but Charles has his own suspicions about the diminutive, nervous canine...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Added chicken breasts cut into strips to oil, the stir fry mix, and frozen vegetables and made a very simple chicken stir fry. Unlike lunch, it came out quite nicely, very saucy and filling.

Moved backwards in the 60's to finish the night before a shower with the original 1960 cast of Bye Bye Birdie. While Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde are still Albert and Mr. McAffee, dancer Chita Rivera is a far zestier Rose, Kay Medford is Albert's meddling mother, and Susan Watson and Michael J. Pollard are somewhat more age-appropriate teenagers. Some of the show's best songs didn't make it into the movie. I like "What Did I Ever See In Him?" for a frustrated Watson and Rivera after they get fed up with their menfolk, "Baby Talk to Me" as Albert tries to explain his problems with his mother to Rose, and the sweet "One Boy" for the teenage girls as they gush over their boyfriends.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Memories and Magic On a Rainy Day

I awoke to heavy dark clouds that were pouring dogs, pigs, chickens, cows, and rabbits! It was no day to be out running around. I had breakfast while enjoying two episodes of the 1986 game show Split Second. Monty Hall hosts this trivia show that has contestants answering a question with three possible right answers. They had to give the answers, or the right version of the answers. As in Sale of the Century, the second-to-last answer was a speed round. The contestant with the most money had to answer the least questions. The one who answered all their questions first went on to the bonus round, where they had to find three panels that said "car" from five panels. If they found the panels, they won a car. If not, they could either take another prize, like a fur or money, or come back and try again.

I think I have vague memories of catching this one as a kid, and while it's not as exciting or silly as panel shows like Match Game, it's fun in it's own right. There's not many pure trivia shows on Buzzr, and it's been interesting to learn about things I was too young to understand in 1986 or had forgotten. Plus, it's kind of fun to see Monty Hall in a different, slightly more serious setting than the goofy Let's Make a Deal. I don't think Buzzr quite knows what to do with this one. It was briefly on weekday mornings at 10, but they replaced it with Press Your Luck, and then yanked it from Sunday nights. Currently, it's only on weekend mornings at 10:30.

Did some Match Game while cleaning up after breakfast. Loni Anderson of WKRP In Cincinatti and two MASH veterans, McLean Stevenson and Gary Burgoff, join Gene, Brett, Charles, and semi-regular Patty Duke for two episodes from 1978. Gene's eyes tended to rove towards Loni more often than not, to the annoyance of his two remaining regulars!

Worked on my mall essay for a while after I ate. The Rio Mall wasn't pretty. It was a pretty basic white corridor, with only about 20 stores, not counting Staples and K-Mart and Thrift Drug and the movie theater, but it was our mall. There weren't too many other places near-by we could do real shopping. Visiting there was always a least until it started to decline in the mid-90's, when most of the stores moved further east to two newer shopping centers near the ramp to Wildwood.

I remember how dark and dreary it was after everything closed, with only the movie theater, K-Mart, and The Deb Shop still there. It was like a ghost town. I hated running through there. They demolished the main mall in 2000. The movie theater finally moved to what used to be Super Fresh, and then Staples, and is currently in the midst of being remodeled. Thrift Drug is now Save-a-Lot; the record store is Rent-a-Center. I'm just hoping those new county offices and the "entertainment center" can put life back into a complex that meant so much to my childhood.

Broke for lunch around 2:30. Finished off The Magic School Bus while I had yogurt, an apple-cinnamon fig bar, and peanut butter on celery. The class "Takes a Dive" when Ms. Frizzle turns them into various animals who work together in a coral reef. Wanda doesn't want to have a partner, including Dorothy Ann, but she changes her mind after seeing how various creatures help each other find shelter or food or ward off predators. Her real interest, though, is finding a treasure that Ms. Frizzle's ancestor buried.

What kind of animals live "In the City?" Ms. Frizzle turns the class into raccoons, possums, falcons, and foxes to show them how animals survive in a busy environment. They get along because they're smaller and can easily hide and find food and shelter...but the bus turns into a bear! There's no place for a bear to hide or find food among skyscrapers and junk yards. The kids search their own backyards to make sure the bear-bus isn't carted off to the zoo.

The disc ends with "Gets Programmed." The class is assigned to open the school and put together their principal Mr. Ruhle's new computer. They can put it together, but they don't know how to program it. Carlos invites his computer whiz brother Mikey to help out. Mikey manages to get all their tasks onto the computer...but they keep replaying them every second, instead of every morning! Even worse, Mikey went inside the computer to see how it works and isn't there to fix things. The kids, Liz, and Ms. Frizzle follow him.

And that's that. While a few episodes have outdated information (Pluto was still a planet in the late 90's, for instance, and most computers work a bit differently nowadays), most remain a blast to watch, to the point where these continue to be used in classrooms to this day. If you have fond memories of the original books or cartoons, loved the more recent Magic School Bus Rides Again, or are a science geek yourself, you'll want to check out the adventures of Ms. Frizzle, her class, and the most remarkable bus to ever exist.

Worked on my story after the cartoon ended. Marcia uses her own magic to open the heavy door to the Summer-Winter Castle and get them in. The castle itself is remarkably clean for a forbidding abandoned edifice, and appears to have residents, though no one can be seen. Invisible hands bring them food and stokes a fire to warm them.

Marcia's the one who sees a familiar furry rear darting into the dungeon and follows him. They find Bill the wolf down in front of a cell, with Cullen the bookshop owner behind bars. Seems the bespectacled man took a rose from the wolf's garden, and the little canine insists he should be punished for stealing. Marcia jumps in between them, scolding the wolf for harming an older man and making such a fuss over a flower.

Moved on to dinner around 6:30. Finished the night while watching Mulan in honor of Chinese New Year. I go further into Disney's first venture into Asian folk tales at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Honoring Chinese New Year - Mulan (1998)

(Incidentally, the rain finally ended around 2; the sun even popped out at one point, though it mainly remained humid and cloudy. I considered running to the Acme, but I'll be there tomorrow. I checked my schedule online, and I work early tomorrow, at 8. I'll do my shopping after work.)

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Doctor's In

I slept in this morning and finished off the Samantha American Girl mystery Danger In Paris. Didn't get rolling until almost the end of Blockbusters. Had breakfast during the first half of Match Game. Singer Greg Morris and comediennes Ann Meara (mother of Ben Stiller) and Ann Elder join the regulars for two fun episodes in 1974.

Match Game continued as I got ready for my doctor's appointment. Broadway singer Karen Morrow, tough guy Scoey Mitchlll, and MASH favorite Gary Burgoff join Gene, Richard, Brett, and Fannie Flagg for two 1975 episodes. Announcer Johnny Olsen was in on the joke in the second show. One of the questions joked about his days with The Price Is Right, calling "Come on down!" years before Rod Roddy. Johnny demonstrated his most famous line, which brought Gary dashing down in imitation of a Price Is Right contestant.

Headed out to the doctor's around 1. Turns out I knew the office very well. It's the little yellow building on the corner of Atlantic and Lakeview, across the street from the parking lot where the farm market takes place. I pass it every time I go into Collingswood! I locked my bike at the rack across the street. Arrived a little early to sign the usual forms. The waiting room lined with blue-upholstered wood chairs was narrow and surprisingly full, with a lot of people watching house selling shows on HGTV.

A nurse lead me down a oak wood-paneled hall, stopping to weigh me on a built-in weight machine with a digital number reader before leading me into the doctor's room. To my surprise, the doctor was a sweet young blond woman, Dr. Jessica. She mentioned doing blood work, but I'd already eaten. After that, she did everything that's done on a check up - looked into my eyes, ears, and throat, checked my nerves and reflexes, asked a lot of questions about my medical history.

As of this afternoon, Dr. Jessica says I'm mostly fine. Slightly high blood pressure, but nothing frightening. I haven't had an eye exam since 2015. America's Best, the eye place behind the Acme, didn't take my health insurance at the time and was expensive. She gave me a card with the name of several local eye doctors that may take Independence Blue Cross. I'm still overweight and have the habit of eating too much of the baked goods I make; she said to counter this with more vegetables. I also need to call the gynecologist. I put it off last year.

Made a very quick stop in Collingswood after I got out. There's a traditional small hardware store on Haddon Avenue. I was hoping they'd have a clamp for my bike, since the Bikeshare is only a few blocks away, but nope.

Took the long way home across Newton Lake Park. The weather was incredible, sunny, breezy, and warm for January, probably in the mid-50's. I dodged quite a few people out for a stroll or walking their dogs, and many groups of kids heading home from school.

Went home, grabbed my laundry, and went right back out. Despite it being late, I really had to get laundry done. I should have done it this morning. I'd no sooner shoved my laundry into one of the cheaper washers than it suddenly got mobbed. A toddler girl ran around squealing, first tossing a hard plastic gold Christmas ornament she called a "ball," then just ducking under chairs and feet. Her mother kept trying to call her back. And when I pulled my clothes out of the dryer, they weren't really very dry. I took them out anyway because I wanted to get going.

Put what was dry away and hung the rest around the apartment while watching Match Game. Greg Morris, Betty White, and Patti Deustch finish up the run with that good-looking contestant. Betty White was just as enamored of him as Fannie, and she was married at the time! She really wouldn't let him go after she won him the Audience Match.

Worked on writing for a while. Richard and Marcia finally drive the horse through rusted iron gates and into the Summer-Winter Castle. The forbidding edifice is the home of the Summer-Winter Garden. Half the courtyard is a pleasant green spot filled with flowers, rose vines, and fruit trees. The other half is snowy and bleak. Marcia tells the others that the man she wrote mentioned wanting to take her on their date to a "Summer-Winter Garden."

Broke for dinner at 7. It was another close race on Sale of the Century. The one woman was ahead for most of the game, but one of the men killed in the speed round. He won the money in the bonus round as well, along with a nifty little bar.

Finished the night after a shower with more Downton Abbey. World War I finally hits home - hard - in Episode 5. Matthew (Dan Stevens) comes home from the Front paralyzed and told he'll never walk again or bear children. William (Thomas Howes), the former second footman, is even worse off. He dies hours after marrying his sweetheart Daisy (Sophia McShera), the kitchen maid. Bates is still having problems fielding his many secrets, including one about Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). Nasty Vera (Maria Doyle Kennedy) swears she'll get revenge for tricking her into silence. Mrs. Hughes the housekeeper (Phyllis Logan) takes care of former maid Ethel (Amy Nuttall), who has nowhere else to go.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Matching With Friends

Kicked off a sunny morning with breakfast. After I ate, I tidied up around the apartment, made the bed, and did the dishes. My friend Amanda was visiting today, and I wanted everything to at least look half-way decent.

Finally started disc 2 of The Magic School Bus. Phoebe is terrified when she's chosen to represent the class and her town in a slam dunk contest. How can she jump that high? The Bus "Gains Weight" when it turns into a planet to teach the kids about gravity and how it weighs us down...and can give us a big lift when we push against it.

Ms. Frizzle "Gets Charged" when the class sells lightbulbs door to door on Valentine's Day. While exploring her wacky electrical house, Wanda hears her talking about what sounds like a big romance. Trouble is, her doorbell doesn't work. The kids worry that, if she can't hear her doorbell, she won't be able to catch her new beau. They take the bus into the electrical circuits to find out the cause of the problem.

Carlos "Makes a Stink" when annoying Janet causes him to lose the moth ball he brought in for the "First Annual Smell Search." Ms. Frizzle helps them distill the ultimate smell, but jealous Janet adds skunk to make it far less appealing. The kids enter judge Flora Whiff's (Bebe Neuwirth) nose to make sure she doesn't catch any of the nasty scent.

Went out to wait for Amanda at 10:55. She didn't arrive until almost 11:30. She always says that she's not used to the traffic and all the road work on the White Horse Pike. She had a point; we ran into some road repair around the corner of Nicholson Road and the White Horse Pike, though the traffic wasn't bad.

I suggested lunch at the Legacy Diner instead of the Pop Shop, which we did when Amanda was here last month. Their parking lot is free, and we would only have to drive in a straight line to Audubon, not zig-zag all over Collingswood. Indeed, we had no trouble getting in once we arrived. Amanda had a rich Cream of Tomato Soup (which she graciously shared a bit of with me) and a "Godfather" spinach-provolone-and chicken sandwich. I went more traditional with a cheese steak with tomatoes, lettuce, and red onions that wouldn't stay in the bun and made a mess. We both had tasty, crunchy fries, pickle slices, and soupy cole slaw.

Common Grounds Coffee House was fairly busy for them when we arrived, with several people working on their laptops at tables. We were really full after our huge sandwiches and just opted for drinks. I had a hot chocolate, and she went with a caramel mocha. The two of us chatted about our jobs and co-workers and families as we sipped our warm drinks.

Spent the next few hours at my apartment. I showed her my new laptop and what everything looked like outside of the holidays, and she admired the view from my porch. Showed off the Roku by switching to a couple of syndicated Match Game episodes that are currently only available on YouTube. We laughed and matched as Gene Rayburn tried to keep a cursing Bob Barker from getting too distracted by cue card girls in sexy dresses and collapsed after an answer he didn't expect to hear came up, giving Bart Braverman the brief chance to play host.

(We're going to try to get together sometime this spring next, probably in April.)

Worked on writing for a while after she left. Marcia and Richard drive them into what were the Summerlands. They'd been very beautiful, until the evil Malade attacked and stripped their energy. Now they're dark and forbidding, and everyone keeps hearing a mournful howl in the distance. Charles wonders if Ira's talk about ghosts was actually true, but Brett insists that it's just the wind.

Broke for dinner at 6. Watched more Match Game while I ate leftover hot dogs and roasted Brussels sprouts. Buzzr jumped back to 1975 for the rest of the saga of Fannie and that handsome contestant. While she didn't get to do the Head-to-Head Match with him again - that honor went to Richard - she did dance with him after he won. Despite Rich and Bill Daily eyeing a few good-looking female contestants, the man just kept beating them.

Finished the night with New York, New York. I go further into director Martin Scorsese's only attempt at a musical at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Cult Flops - New York, New York

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Matches and Disappointments

Began the morning finishing off another Lois Lenski book, Blue Ridge Billy, and didn't get moving until past 10:30. Blockbusters was just winding down when I had breakfast. Started getting organized as they went into Match Game. Soap opera sweetheart Trish Stewart, old-school Catskills comedian Jack Carter, and noisy comedienne Kaye Stevens joined Gene and the regulars for two episodes from 1974. John Forsythe found himself dealing with a trio of very unusual "Angels" in Brett, bubbly blonde Elaine Joyce, and sassy Alabama belle Fannie Flagg in a show from '75.

Finally headed off around 12:30. I managed to balance the broken seat well enough to get where I was going. At least it was a nice day for a ride in Newton Lake Park. The sun sparkled on the greenish water, and the wind had finally vanished. I wasn't the only one out enjoying myself, either. There were quite a few people out and about, mainly dog walkers and older folks getting out while the weather's still good.

The Haddon Township Library was fairly busy for around 1. A lot of people must have taken movies out during the bad weather last weekend and the cold early this week. The return carts were overloaded with just about everything. I had enough time to shelve all of the kids' titles and about half the adult ones before rushing out. And no, I didn't take anything out. I haven't watched two of the movies I took out last week and half of The Magic School Bus, plus there's Downton Abbey that I borrowed from Mom and tons of stuff on Roku.

Everything went south after I left the library. My original plan was to take the bus to the Garden State Market in Cherry Hill and walk or ride the bike to the bike shop from there. The Transit buses do have bike racks, but I haven't used one in over a decade. I had no idea how to get the bike on the rack, and no one got out to help me or show me how to do it. I finally gave up and waved the bus on in tears and frustration.

Rode down the hill to the Westmont Acme to buy a banana, a bagel, and a bottle of Propel water for the cheapest, quickest lunch I could come up with. I thought about just riding the bike over to Cherry Hill, but by that point, it was past 2. It would probably take me an hour to get to the shop, and that was without considering traffic. Decided I'd just go home and would look up and see if Uber can carry bikes. I'll try again on Friday morning.

Once again cut across a gorgeous park, but this time, I took a longer route that took me across from the Collingswood High School. Technically, the road on the Oaklyn side of the park isn't a part of the park, but a well-worn dirt road indicated that many people stroll down there anyway. And no wonder. It was lovely, warm and glittering, if a bit muddy with the unpaved road. The path took me up to a stone staircase on Bettlewood Avenue, where I hit the street.

I went that way because it's just a couple of blocks from Dollar General. I needed new underwear, and the packs of Hanes there were cheaper than the fancier ones at Target. Got in, grabbed a pack of briefs that fit, and got out.

Did some writing when I came home. Charles and Marcia make the group a wonderful dinner of quail stew, then celebrate with Charles playing music and the others dancing. They just finished when Bill Cullen's horse suddenly rides up to Marcia without him. Now she's worried, and so are the others. He wouldn't have left his horse behind...

Broke for dinner at 6. Did more Match Game while I had leftovers, and then while starting Peanut Butter Cookies. Gene kicked off one of the funniest episodes of 1975 by trying to haul a massive antique radio microphone around. Later, Fannie Flagg kept flirting with a handsome contestant, culminating with her mock-fainting after she gave him the 500 dollar answer in the Audience Match and he kissed her. It got so crazy, the others had to separate them after she matched him in the Head-to-Head! All this, plus Brett sparring with Broadway legend Ethel Merman.

Sale of the Century didn't get quite as wild, but it was a pretty exciting game. All three contestants were neck-and-neck almost the entire game. In the end, one woman probably bought too many of the "instant bargains," and the man simply outpaced her and the other lady in the speed round. He did win some nice bedroom furniture, but missed the bonus round money by one minute.

Ended the night on a more sober note with Downton Abbey. By the fourth episode of season 2, both the upstairs and downstairs residents of Downton are deep into World War I. It kicks off with Ethel, one of the maids (Amy Nuttall) being caught making love with the Major (Daniel Pirrie) in charge of the soldiers at Downton and being dismissed. Meanwhile, everyone is concerned about Matthew (Dan Stevens), the heir to Downton, and William (Thomas Howes), the second footman, who are at the front and were reported missing. There's also Branson the chauffeur (Allen Leech) asking Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findley) to marry him and give up her wealthy life, and the concert for the servicemen the sisters are planning. While the concert works out better than anyone expected, things don't go so well for poor Ethel...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How Lucky Can You Get?

I slept in a bit today and started off my morning with breakfast and Blockbusters. The mother and son from last week were now playing against a younger woman. It was a pretty heated match, too. The trio just kept blocking each other, even as I gulped the last of my Egg'noggin' tea.

Called the nearest bike shop after I ate. Yes, the Erton Bike Shop in Cherry Hill claimed they would be able to help me fix the bike seat. I'd see what I could do to get there tomorrow. By the time I called them, it was past 11, and I had counseling at 2.

Continued on to Match Game while getting organized.  Married dancers Bobby Van and Elaine Joyce made jokes about their entertainment careers in two episodes from 1974, while Charles and Brett teased each other and Richard eyes a couple of comely contestants. Betty White fielded cracks about her marriage with Password host Allen Ludden in the second episode. Comediennes Rona Barrett and Fannie Flagg joined Brett, Gene, Richard, and Gary Burgoff for an episode from '75.

Headed out around 12:30. Took Uber to the Collingswood WaWa. I probably could have walked, but I wanted to make sure I made it to Haddonfield in time for counseling. Tried a Sea Salt Caramel Mocha Hot Chocolate from WaWa, since I was there. (Very rich, creamy, and tasting more of caramel than salt.) Grabbed five dollars from PNC Bank before strolling another block to the PATCO. Hopped onto the next train to Haddonfield and was there in less than five minutes.

The Haddonfield Library is only two blocks from the train station. I had to go to the bathroom anyway, so I thought I'd stroll over and take a look. They remodeled their historic building a while back. The main lobby is now devoted to DVDs and audio books, with the fiction and kids' area in the back and the nonfiction upstairs. Every area now has lots of room for large tables and chairs and big soft chairs by wide windows. I had to ask a librarian where the bathrooms were; she lead me to a corridor off the main room.

Made it counseling with no time to spare. I don't really have a lot to report anyway. The only problems I've had since late November were with work. The holidays were among the best I ever had, my family's getting along better, and I'm on vacation. Even the trouble with my bike seat could have been worse. Like I said, at least it happened on a week when most of what I had planned was in the area, and my one-out-town trip was with the family. I'm a little nervous about the doctor's appointment, but the worst he could do is complain about my weight and tell me to get a few shots. I don't often get sick, and when I do, like when I got the flu early last September, it usually passes quickly. Not to mention, I have a W-2 coming soon and should be getting some tax money.

Since I was no longer in a hurry, I decided to save the money after I got off the train and walk home. As Mrs. Stahl pointed out, it was a lovely day for it. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and though it remained chilly, the wind petered out last night, making the cold weather a lot more tolerable. I actually passed quite a few people as I strolled down the path along Newton Lake. The river sparkled like a thousand diamonds, illuminating the golden grass and coppery reeds along the shores.

Stopped at CVS on the way home for dish washing liquid and to look at magazines. Ran into Rose, Khai, and Finley picking up a bag and card for a birthday party Khai was going to later. Finley was so cute, toting around a baby doll in a ladybug outfit and her own mini-diaper bag. They drove me as far home as Rose could go. A huge crane blocked the middle of Manor, taking something off a roof.

Spent the next few hours writing. Bill takes off as soon as they arrive at Marcia's house, claiming he has to reclaim his home. Marcia's disappointed and a little confused, but there's not much she can do. She and Charles make dinner from the quail Richard shot, and they dine and enjoy each other's company together. But the peace is about to be shattered by the clip-clop of a frightened horse...and the howl of a broken-hearted Beast...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Everyone on Match Game is thrilled to be joined by stage legend Ethel Merman in a week from 1975. Fannie Flagg even wears a t-shirt that insists they're her number one fans. Ethel may be able to belt with the best of them, but she does have a lot to figure out about game shows, as Gene and Brett remind her.

Finished the night with Funny Lady. I go further into this 1975 sequel to Funny Girl at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Funny Lady

Monday, January 20, 2020

Family Assemble!

Began the morning with reading for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology debuted while King was still alive...but the material for the now rarely-celebrated United Nations Day equally represents the peace and equality that he and the United Nations both work for.

Had breakfast while watching Sale of the Century. In an episode apparently set the week before the "end of summer bash" (according to one segment selling a stereo), a lady and two gentlemen held a very tight game. The champion bought that stereo (he claimed to be a jazz connoisseur), but in the end, the other man just out-buzzed him in the fast round. Alas, that speed didn't help him in the bonus round, which he missed by one second.

Called the doctor Jodie recommended a while back after breakfast. To my surprise, not only were they open on a major holiday, but they'd be able to get me in this week. I'll get a regular check-up on Friday at 1:30.

I was half-way through Press Your Luck when Rose called. That was fast. I wasn't expecting to hear from her until 10:30. Turns out that they'd had some problems and were picking me up early. Sure, whatever. By that point, my bags were packed, I'd long finished breakfast, and I'd just gotten into my boots. I did have to run back and retrieve my cell phone when I almost left it behind, though.

Turns out Rose and Khai were originally going to drive to Dad and Jodie's to borrow their van and leave theirs, but Rose's car wouldn't start. They ended up walking there and getting me on the way back. We briefly headed to Rose's house to wait for Craig to bring Finley home from her gymnastics class and pack up the box of gifts for Lilah. As soon as they arrived, Finley changed, and the cats and Kelsey the miniature pincher were fed, we crowded into the van and headed out.

At least the ride down wasn't bad. It was a beautiful, if cold and windy, day. We encountered no traffic anywhere. Made a stop at the WaWa mid-way for snacks and so Khai could stretch his legs; he was not entirely happily stuck between Finley in her seat and me. Craig and Finley got gas while Rose picked up energy drinks for her and and her husband, Khai mixed various Icee flavors, and I grabbed a bottle of Peach Perrier and a soft pretzel.

The other trouble we had on the road was on Route 9, where a bridge is in the midst of repair. Rose and Craig took a detour that put them off-course. We ended up going through Cape May Court House and down the Garden State Parkway, which they were hoping to avoid. The Parkway is a toll road and can be busy (though it wasn't today).

We finally pulled in around quarter of 1. Anny's tribe was already there, watching The Secret Life of Pets 2 in the living room, surrounded by pink and multi-colored balloons. To my delight, Mom chatted with her in the kitchen. I guess they've mended their fences, if only temporarily. The boys migrated to Collyn's room to play Minecraft on the XBox and stayed there for pretty much the next few hours except for lunch. Everyone enjoyed pretzels (plain and covered in dark and white chocolate and sprinkles), Sun Chips, potato chips, cheese curls, and Anny's yummy chocolate chip squares and peanut butter cookies.

Lilah happily introduced me to her new My Life As WalMart doll Lilah 2 and the two huge puppies her family acquired in the last year. Nicklas is a massive, noble-looking husky who apparently considers himself to be  the alpha male in the family and protects all. Mr. "Red" Reddington is a yellowish dalmatian with golden spots. Unlike Nick, he's more skittish and is definitely a "mama's dog" - he adores Anny and cuddles with her whenever he gets the chance.

Anny called everyone to lunch around 2. She and Mom put out cold cuts, rolls, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and big, thick pickle slices. I had two small hoagies with roast beef, provolone cheese, tomato, and lettuce; the rolls were pretty small, so I kept the pickles on the side.

The cake rolled out around 3. Lilah apparently chose a shark-themed cake, with a giant shark on either side. Craig and Lilah's dad Jay, who also have January birthdays, shared the cake...which lead to the top of the cake being almost entirely covered in candles! They did blow them out, but the smoke was so bad, they had to crack open a window while we all ate cake, cupcakes, and ice cream.

Evidently, one of Lilah's favorite shows is Peppa Pig, a British cartoon about a girl pig and her family and friends. Anny and Jay gave Lilah Peppa's castle and her family's trailer, complete with slide and furniture in both. Rose and Craig gave her Toy Story 4-related items, including her own pull-back Forky and a kit to make her own Forky, as well as Hot Wheels. She loved the books I gave her; Mom was especially impressed with that put the sticker on the spot and create your own story book I found on Friday. Her brothers gave her a snowboarding outfit for her My Life As doll.

Finley got a few leftover Christmas gifts as well. She got her first Cabbage Patch Kid doll, a little girl named Mia with a silky gold ponytail wearing a ballerina outfit. Anny and Jay even gave her a mini backpack to carry her around in, just like real mommies have.

We headed out around 4:30. Lilah had ballet class at 5:30, and the moms wanted to get dinner together. Lilah and Khai didn't want to go. They were fussy through much of the ride home, with Khai constantly asking "are we there yet?" and he and Rose discussing the original, more gruesome versions of favorite fairy tales as we got closer to Oaklyn. They did briefly stop at WaWa again, but only Rose got out this time, picking up hot chocolate and hot dogs for the kids and more energy drinks for her and Craig. (I wasn't hungry or thirsty. Anny's spread was more than enough.)

When I finally got in, I ran the nighttime Match Game while eating the last of the leftover tuna and peas. Dancer Bobby Van, sweetheart Sarah Kennedy, and cheerful Ann Elder joined Gene and the regulars in two episodes from 1975. They always had so much fun in these shows, it's a delight to watch. Even folks I don't recognize like Elder or only vaguely recall like Kennedy are hilarious. And unlike most fans of this show, I'm rarely annoyed by their antics. I just like watching different "types" - fussy theater geek, crusty older character actress, blonde ingenue, suave Brit, goofy stand-up comedienne, lecherous host - interacting and joking with one another and helping people win money.

Finished the night with the three-hour marathon known as Avengers: Endgame. We pick up almost a month after Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped half of all life off Earth. Thor is the one who finally does him in on an uninhabited planet...but he destroyed the stones, and it changes nothing. Five years later, the return of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) from the quantum realm opens the possibility of time travel and going back to fix what happened with Thanos and the stones. Even though each change creates alternative realities instead of actually changing the present, they still send different groups to attempt to change things. Not every group is successful at retrieving their respective stone, and Thanos eventually catches on. In the end, every single Marvel character who had been in a movie come together to take on this menace from the cosmos...and allow the Avengers to truly assemble one last time.

This is a long and complex slog, but it's a fascinating one...if you're a Marvel fan. This is absolutely not the place for newcomers or casual viewers. You really need to know at least little bit about the majority of these folks' back stories to understand a lot of what goes on here, and seeing the first Avengers film and Infinity War before this is a must. If you've already caught most or all of these movies and have a spare three hours on your hands, it's an action-packed end to ten years of superheroic tales.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Walk On the Windy Side

I was up so late with Lauren last night, I didn't wake up this morning until almost 11! By the time I finished Cotton In My Sack by Lois Lenski and wrote in my journal, it was nearly 12:30. Kept things simple with Banana Pancakes for brunch. They came out pretty well, too. Burned a side of the first one slightly, but they otherwise came out very well, sweet and fluffy. Listened to the K-Tel Pure Gold LP from 1975 while I ate, enjoying songs like "Fooled Around and Fell In Love," "Right Back Where We Started From," "Let Your Love Flow," and the theme from Welcome Back Kotter.

Started something new after I cleaned up from breakfast. The essay on my long-time love of game shows took a while to write, but I did finish it. I decided to take my psychologist Mrs. Stahl up on an idea and write one on my fondness for malls.

Maybe it's because, for the first decade of my life, malls were sort of a mythological place to me. I wouldn't see the inside of a large, two-story mall until the early 90's. The only mall I knew of in the 80's was the Rio Mall in Rio Grande. Alas, it's long-gone now. Other, larger shopping centers opened down Route 9 and across the street, causing pretty much everything to move out or close. Super Wal-Mart eventually took over one of those brand-new shopping centers and probably would have killed the smaller K-Mart even if the chain wasn't having problems.

(In fact, according to a couple of local newspapers, Cape May County is apparently in the midst of remodeling the former K-Mart and Rio Mall into county offices, a bowling alley, an "entertainment center," and an expanded movie theater. Mom mentioned the movie theater being remodeled the last time I talked to her; she's upset that she won't be able to see Rise of Skywalker in the theater.)

Broke at quarter after 3 for a walk to Dad and Jodie's. At least it was a nice day for a walk. While it was still windy (I probably wouldn't have used the bike, even if it was in good shape), it was also sunny and a little warmer than yesterday, in the lower 40's. There were a lot of kids out for a walk or folks chatting with their neighbor before heading in to watch the football games.

I wanted to go over to their house because the Kansas City Chiefs played the Tennessee Titans for the AFC Championship at 3:05....and more importantly, I needed to finally return two of Jodie's larger Tupperware containers from the Christmas morning brunch leftovers. I watched part of the first, the second, and the first half of the third quarter with them, switching to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit when commercials rolled around.

It was a really exciting game, too. The Titans were up 10-0 when I arrived, but the Chiefs quickly got a touchdown. The Titans came back by halftime, making it 17-14. By the time the sun went down and I headed out, they were up 17-21. I later discovered online that the Chiefs did end up winning 35-24.

(The Packers played the 49ers later this evening. I didn't watch that one, but considering the Niners were up 27-0 at halftime when I checked the score online and later won 37-20, I suspect it wasn't quite as thrilling. Incidentally, for those of you following along at home, this means that it'll be the 49ers and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. I'm glad. They're both good teams to deserve to be going.)

Rose called almost as soon as I walked in the door. I intended to call her anyway and find out when we're going down to North Cape May tomorrow. It sounds like between 10:30 and 11, after Finley has her tumbling class. That's usually when she picks me up for trips to visit the family down there, so I wasn't surprised. Sounds like Mom's invited too, which makes me hope she and Anny have at least tried to mend their fences.

Finished out the Pure Gold set while wrapping Lilah's birthday presents. I'm giving her two cute picture books, both from the bargain bin at the Acme. One is about a little Scandinavian girl who suddenly becomes tiny and has an amazing adventure in the flowers and grass around her. The other allows the reader to place reusable stickers - or come up with an idea of their own - on a blank "spot" in a story and finish the story their own way. (I also have money for my 10-year-old nephew Collyn's birthday that I didn't get around to giving him last month.)

Made Cincinatti Chili on tri-color pasta for dinner while listening to the soundtrack for the Barbra Streisand vehicle Funny Lady. I saw the movie on Crackle when I was browsing around and may review it this Tuesday. I hadn't had the LP on in quite some time. Kander & Ebb wrote a couple of new numbers to go with a batch of older songs from Fannie Brice's second husband Billy Rose, including the standard "How Lucky Can You Get?" that opens the album. Other good numbers include "Great Day" and the comic "Blind Date" for Streisand, "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charley" for Ben Vereen, and a charming version of "It's Only a Paper Moon" mixed with the new "I Like Him/Her" for Streisand and James Caan as Rose.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Turning Japanese

The sky was whitish and overcast when I rolled out of bed this morning...but there wasn't the tiniest hint of snow on the ground. It was supposed to have started snowing overnight and continued well into the afternoon. Figures they wouldn't be able to figure this storm out. It must have all gone north.

Had breakfast, then went through cookbooks for ideas of something to make for me today and to bring to Anny's for the party on Monday. Watched The Magic School Bus while I ate. As someone who grew up by the beach and tidal zones, "Goes to Mussel Beach" actually brings back a lot of memories. The kids are frustrated when their beach gets crowded and Ralphie keeps insisting he has the perfect spot. They learn more about habitats when Ms. Frizzle introduces them to her Uncle Shelby's buddy - a mussel named Myrt. Myrt has a place in the middle tide zone, but it seems too crowded to them, leading them to set out to find something better.

They're supposed to create a project about air to travel on a space shuttle in "Goes On Air," but they can't think of anything great except for a jar of air. Ms. Frizzle takes them in the jar to learn more about what air does, but someone closes the jar and accidentally traps them inside. They have to figure out how to use air to create enough pressure to get them out.

Having grown up with wetlands almost literally down the road, "Gets Swamped" is especially meaningful to me. Carlos is supposed to debate at the town hall about whether their town should build a mall over the local swamp. He's all for destroying them, at least until obnoxious Janet chooses the opposing side and he has to defend them. Ms. Frizzle shows them just how important the swamps are, not only to whole ecosystems, but to people, too.

(I could have told the kids from the beginning that building a mall on swampy land is a bad idea. The Acme in North Cape May is part of a shopping center that was built over wetlands in 1989. Every time there was a snow storm or major rain, massive craters the size of ponds would form in the parking lot. Apparently, they didn't drain the area appropriately before they started building. Mom and Anny have mentioned that they did fix the problem since I worked there.)

Arnold is thrilled to be nominated for an award in honor of his vast knowledge of rocks in "Goes Cellular," but not that his skin has turned orange. Phoebe hides him from the rest of the guests while the others once again travel inside of him to figure out what happened to his skin and why it's such a strange color.

The class "Meets Molly Cule" when the superstar singer (Wynnona Judd) takes their hand-made car wash over machine ones. She doesn't want anyone to damage her crystal hood ornament. The kids learn about molecules and how they work when they have to remove one last speck of tar from her car, then repair the hood ornament when it lands in a bucket of water.

By 1 PM, I'd gotten bored. It wasn't snowing, raining, or even windy, just blahh and cold. I figured I was good to run to Dollar General. They weren't too busy - I guess everyone went yesterday. I was originally going to buy underwear there, but I'll hopefully be going by Somerville later in the week and will hit the big Walmart there. I did buy eggs, which are far cheaper there ($1.25) than they are at the Acme.

Of course, I'd barely left the parking lot when the seat on my bike went out from under me. One of the pieces that held the bars of the seat onto the pole had snapped. Thank goodness I wasn't hurt, but the seat was off. Frustrated, I put the pieces in my bag, dropped the bike on the pole, and walked across the street, trying not to get upset. At least I had a week to figure out how to fix it.

As I made my way across the White Horse Pike, I decided to walk two blocks down and check something out. Yes, they'd finally finished remodeling the old, abandoned Taco Bell into a new restaurant, Sakura Japanese Sushi and Steakhouse. While the outside still looked Mexican, the inside now had elegant mahogany-colored booths along the walls and larger metal tables, along with soft piano music and delicate paintings of Japan. I had the lunch version of the Shrimp Terikyaki, which came with a steamy soup filled with chewy seaweed and sliced tofu chunks. The shrimp came with vegetables smothered in savory sauce and brown fried rice. It was so tasty and savory! There was also quite a bit of it. I ended up taking half of the shrimp and rice home. The two people behind the counter were quick and very pleasant, too.

After I got in, I made the bed while running Let's Make a Deal on Buzzr. The heavy blankets on top were starting to slip again. After I finished the bed, I made Chocolate-Mint Truffle Cupcakes from my low-fat Chocolate Cupcake recipe in Hershey's Best-Loved Recipes. Monty had some big deals for a man in a karate outfit, a couple in jogging outfits decorated to look like highways, and a woman in a Mickey Mouse outfit, among others. The couple won big money. The mouse lady unfortunately ended up with just a can full of beans. The karate man did better, eventually getting a really nifty entertainment center and furniture in the end.

(And it's a good thing I got in when I did. Tiny white flakes began to fall as I turned onto Manor Avenue. No less than 10 minutes after I arrived, it was snowing heavily and covering the yard. Richard even came up and swept it off at one point. It changed to rain sometime in the evening and has rained off and on, sometimes heavily, for the rest of the night.)

Spent a few hours doing research on repairing cruiser bike seats. Oh damn. It seems to be hard to find metal clamps like the one that broke online. There are ones available, but only for certain bike brands.I was really hoping I wouldn't have to drag the damn bike to Cherry Hill and spend a ton of money to have it repaired, but I'm starting to wonder if it may be my only option. I may check the hardware stores in Collingswood and Westmont to see if they have it, too.

Finally went into my story around 5. Gene reminds them that they've now found five out of six of the Legendary Princesses they've been searching for. Three are in safe places with their sweethearts, and two are with them. They still need to find one, but no one knows where the Princess of Air is or how to find her. Marcia tells them they can discuss it further when they arrive at her cottage.

Broke for dinner at 7. Had leftovers while finishing The Magic School Bus. "Sees Stars" takes them back into orbit for their third and final space-based episode. They're hoping to buy a star from a home shopping network for Dorothy Ann's birthday and  name it after her, but Keesha won't buy anything she hasn't seen. They explore three different options...and when the one they chooses explodes, discover how a star is formed in order to make her a new one.

Ended the night online with the live-action-animation hybrid Lady and the Tramp on Disney Plus. I go more into yet another remake from last year on my Musical Dreams Movie  Reviews blog.

Family Fun Saturday - Lady and the Tramp (2019)

Friday, January 17, 2020

I Dream of Vacation

I was so happy to actually sleep in a little this morning. Buzzr was on Press Your Luck by the time I had breakfast. This one came down to a young man who won a trip and several prizes, and a woman who got a big trip but several Whammies. The man finally got enough money to pass her and win all together. A woman played a mother-son duo on Blockbusters. She seemed to do well, until the son got a bunch of sports-related questions.

Headed out around quarter of 11 to get my laundry done. Unlike the past two weeks, they were totally dead when I arrived, and I never saw more than two people while I was there. I thought it was a good time to try the new, front-loading larger washers. They took more coins and ran for longer than usual, but they also wrung the clothes out better. They were a little less damp when I took them out, and didn't take quite as long to dry. I worked on story notes and ignored The View and Action News on Channel 6.

Watched an episode of Match Game while putting my clothes away, then went back out again. Wanted to hit the Oaklyn Library before they closed for the day. They were surprisingly busy for them, with a group of people gathered around the main table near the TV. I wonder if they were the board of directors or heads of the library? I think I saw one of the librarians among them. I half-listened to them while organizing DVDs and board books in the kids' area.

Took the long way down Nicholson Road and past WalMart to Tu Se Bella's Pizza for lunch. At least it was a nice day for a ride! It's colder, in the 30's, and still windy, but also sunny and cloudless (and much nicer than it's supposed to be tomorrow). It was almost 2 by the time I arrived, which was reflected in an empty dining area. I had a quick slice of broccoli-shrimp and a slice of cheese with a bottle of Sprite "Lymonade" (lemonade flavor - not bad, tart like lemonade should be).

To my surprise, the Acme wasn't busy, either. I figured they'd be mobbed, thanks to the weather reports for tomorrow. I guess everyone heard we're not really supposed to get much snow. Good thing, because I had a lot of shopping to do. They're having their occasional "buck a bag" vegetable sale. I grabbed celery, oranges, grape tomatoes, and bagged spinach. Treated myself to Mint Fudge Tracks light Acme generic ice cream on clearance. Found another book for Lilah's birthday, this one a "place a sticker and finish the story" picture book. Restocked yogurt, cranberries, canned crushed pineapples, canned mandarin oranges, peanut butter, toilet paper, milk, ground turkey, turkey hot dogs, canned black beans, tuna, and frozen broccoli florets.

My schedule for next week is...vacation! Why take my final vacation week in late January? First of all, there's Lilah's birthday. I loved going to Anny's house for her party last year. Second, it's mid-way between my previous vacation (September) and what will likely be my next vacation (May). Third, I have counseling on Tuesday, and Amanda wanted to get together on Thursday. Fourth...I really, really just need time off after what's been a busy and often frustrating couple of weeks at work. Other than those three days, my only plans are the usual writing and volunteering, and maybe a trip to the movies to either catch Cats for review or see Rise of Skywalker a second time.

Started the last season of The Magic School Bus while putting everything away. The kids are supposed to be watching their principal Mr. Rhule's beloved Rhode Island Red rooster Giblets, but he flies away. They go to a farm to get an egg that's been fertilized by a chicken and a rooster, then try to hatch the egg themselves, but it's slow going. Ms. Frizzle lets the kids, and then Arnold, go inside the egg to see how it's made, and then how a new life forms.

Worked on writing for a while after I finished. Marcia sadly admits that she'd been writing with a man whom she only knew as "Will." She'd fallen for his charming and witty (if badly spelled) letters, but Malade invaded the Summer-Winter Castle before they could go on a date and she presumed he was killed. Bill tries to tell her what happened at the Castle, but once again, something forces him into wolf howls before much comes out.

I also re-wrote a bit earlier. Bill Cullen is going to the next town over and asks Marcia, his friend and best customer, if she wants a gift. She asks for a rose. Most people in town grown vegetables. She hasn't seen a rose since leaving home.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had the turkey hot dogs and a spinach-tomato salad with apple cider dressing while watching more Match Game. Cutie-pie Sarah Kennedy from Laugh In, MGM dancer Bobby Van, and comedienne Ann Elder join Gene and the regulars in an episode from 1975. Gene kept flirting with teeny Sarah, even kissing her rather hard at one point, to the mild amusement of Richard and the frustration of Brett (who went down and gave him a good smack on the shoulders).

Spent the next hour or so taking another nice, relaxing bath. As I mentioned, it's been a long couple of weeks. I brought a book, but I didn't read it. Just sat back, closed my eyes, listened to Jazz For When You're Alone, and breathed. Got so relaxed, I almost passed out at several points.

Finished the night with two episodes of I Dream of Jeannie on Crackle. I saw it when I was switching around the other night. Rose was always more into this show when we were little - I preferred sensible Samantha on Bewitched - but I thought I'd give it another try. Kicked off with the first episode, "The Lady In the Bottle." Captain Tony Nielson (Larry Hagman) is an astronaut who crashes on a desert island. He finds a woman genie (Barbara Eden) in a bottle appropriately named Jeannie and sets her free. She's crazy about him whether she's free or not and follows him in her bottle back to Florida. Now he has to figure out how to explain her to his fiancee Melissa (Karen Sharpe) and her father, Brigadier General Stone (Phillip Ober) that he's not as crazy as he sounds.

Skipped ahead to a second season western spoof, "The Fastest Gun In the East." Tony makes the mistake of wishing he were out west while watching a TV western. Jeannie makes him appear in the real west as the marshal of a small town under fire by land-grabbing cattle rustlers. The duo have to stop a cattle stampede, release an unfairly imprisoned man, and figure out who is the man behind the land grabbing scheme, before the bandits get around Jeannie's magic and take them out.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wild Is the Wind

Kicked off the morning with a quick breakfast and To Tell the Truth. Three men who all claimed to have shipped themselves to a girlfriend in Philadelphia were in the hot seats today. Tom Kennedy was the one who figured out it was number 3, the one with "the devilish smile." Soupy Sales figured out on What's My Line? that another lady from Philly sold patterns to embroider designs on jeans. They even had models show off her patterns. I thought the pants were a bit much, but the shirts and jackets were awesome - especially the cute bear jacket and shirt.

Thankfully after the past few days, work was no trouble. The worst that happened was dealing with some wild, gale-force wind outside that kept blowing carts away. It was so quiet, I spent the day either outside with the carts or doing the outside trash and recycling, doing the bathroom trash, or later, sweeping the store.

Went straight home as soon as I was done. A box for me leaned on the fence around the front yard when I arrived. It held the 80's fantasy Labyrinth for eventual review, a box of Nature's Bakery apple-cinnamon bars, and a new basket. I didn't realize that the basket was shorter than my old one...but it was also sturdier, with heavier bars and a less-complicated construction.

Headed inside after I finally got the basket on and tightened the seat. Ran the tail end of Classic Concentration and the beginning of the original 60's Password on Buzzr as I ate a quick lunch. The guy on Concentration got so close to getting a car, but there were technical difficulties, then he hesitated too long on matching. Dancer Ray Bolger and Amanda Blake of Gunsmoke were the elegant panelists on Password.

Finished out the Sailor Moon Super S set while I got organized. "Holiday In Juuban! A Carefree Princess" is a riff on the classic movie Roman Holiday. Princess Rubina of Amethyst flees her royal duties to have some fun in Tokyo. Usagi and Chibi-Usa first run into her on the street, then at a local street fair. Mamoru and the cats join them later to try to convince her to return to her hotel, before she gets hurt. But Hawk's Eye is also after the Princess, and he's determined to spoil their fun.

Finally headed back out around 2:30. I had a few errands to run. Newton Lake Park was surprisingly busy for a day where the wind was so crazy, I'm surprised I wasn't blown into the water. I dodged lots of people out for a stroll or walking their dogs before the weather turns nasty starting late tomorrow. The wind was cold, but when you could get away from it, the sun was actually quite warm, probably in the upper 40's, lower 50's.

The Haddon Township Library was a little busier than the Acme, mainly with kids out of school or parents looking for movies for the holiday weekend. Someone already put away the kids' DVDs, so I did the adult titles. Took out quite a few movies this week. Along with the fourth and final season of The Magic School Bus, I decided I'd finally have time next week for the 3-hour marathon Avengers: Endgame. Also grabbed the comedies Eddie the Eagle (about the infamous British ski jumper) and The Hustle (which I didn't get to the last time I had it out).

Made a few stops on the way home. I was looking for underwear at Target, but they had none of the bagged Fruit of the Loom I like. I'll get it at Dollar General sometime next week. Had more luck at Dollar Tree. Bought a card and a roll of rainbow-colored star-print paper for my niece Lilah's birthday party on Monday. Chuckled at the teen girls in plaid skirts in front of me just out of the Catholic high school down the street who bought 6-packs of ramen noodles and small heart-shaped boxes of chocolate with goofy mermaids or cartoon characters on them. They reminded me of Anny, who practically lived on ramen noodles at their age.

Did some writing when I got home. Richard, now hidden under his hood, brings the carriage around to pick up Charles, Brett, Marcia, and Bill the wolf. Bill asks her if she'd consider him as a sweetheart, but she explains that the only man she ever loved once wrote her kind and beautiful (if badly spelled) letters. She was so enamored by them, she agreed to go on a date with him... but the letters stopped coming, and they never went on that date. She presumes he was killed when Malade invaded the Summerlands. She left shortly afterwards.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Johnny, Marcia, and Trish finished their run on Match Game helping out a sweet and funny older man who came up with some great answers. He seemed to be especially fond of Brett, whom he chose for twice in the Head-to-Head (and won money with her once). A beautiful lady in Sale of the Century killed in the Speed Round, breezed through the Bonus Round, and won herself a really nice pearl necklace.

Ended the night with Lady and the Tramp. I go further into one of Disney's most popular animated films on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Animation Celebration Extra - Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Dancer's Match

Began the day with breakfast and To Tell the Truth. Three women all claimed to have had an adventure in Trinidad. Peggy Cass got the right lady, who told them all about it with her husband. Soupy Sales on What's My Line also had luck, guessing their contestant was a mattress tester. He even showed off different mattresses afterwards.

Once again, work started out well. I spent most of the morning alternating between shelving items and rounding up carts. It was a gorgeous day for it, too. The rain vanished early this morning, leaving sunny skies, soft breezes, and mid-50 degree temperatures. I'd just finished sweeping the store when one of the managers asked me to stay an hour. One of the cashiers called out. I did to add to my paycheck, but it really wasn't necessary. We weren't that busy. It's the middle of the week, the weather's too nice, and a lot of people are annoyed that they're still rearranging the aisles.

Rushed home as soon as I got out. Changed, had a snack, and went straight into writing. Ira the Sheriff is suspicious that there's something weird going on here, but Marcia managed to toss him out, with Bill jumping in to bare his teeth. Cullen assures him that if he tries closing his shop, he'll sic whatever ghosts live there on him.

Broke for dinner at 6. Had leftovers while watching tonight's two Match Game episodes. Brett and Charles continued to fuss at each other here, including referring to Charles' dislike of wearing socks. Johnny Brown's very proud when he gets a right answer...and Marcia Wallace, who was rather notorious for not matching, was downright thrilled to get four right in a row.

Took a bath after dinner. I badly needed it, after working four days (two of them six hours, all early) in a row. My legs were so sore, and I think I may have twisted a muscle. It felt great to relax to George Shearing's White Satin and Black Satin, and look over a book on positive affirmations for women.

Finished the night with more Sailor Moon Super S as I went online. Brilliant Ami is in the spotlight in "Sparkling Summer Days! Ami at the Beach." Usagi's little brother Shingo has a huge crush on her...but Tiger's Eye is also after her. The Guardians all think he's a dreamy beach bum, but Ami realizes that something's not right here.

"Enter the Prima! Usagi In the Ballet" has the Guardians taking free beginner's ballet classes, hoping to get the lead role in the tragic ballet Giselle. None of them are exactly Misty Copeland quality...except for Fish Eye, who turns out to be excellent. Her teacher is impressed, upsetting his girlfriend, who was in training for the role of unfortunate peasant girl Giselle. Usagi and Chibi-Usa point out that Fish Eye may be good, but he's also cold and unfeeling, and that she should continue to pursue him. But Fish Eye doesn't appreciate being treated as part of the scenery...

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

I Could Write a Match

Kicked off the morning with breakfast and Buzzr. A personality specialist who used the starts to analyze people stumped the panelists in To Tell the Truth. (And his descriptions of the panel were pretty accurate, as far as I can tell, too, especially for Kitty Carlisle-Hart and Bill Cullen.) The panelists on What's My Line? had more luck. Soupy Sales finally guessed their man owned a gallery that sold and displayed neon signs. The gentleman even showed off his colorful and gorgeous wares - the little rainbow desk light was my favorite.

Work didn't start out too busy - I was actually able to shelve some candy in the morning - but it once again picked up by lunch. This time, the weather got bad, too. Those clouds finally burst somewhere around 1, and it showered lightly for the rest of the afternoon. I was alone for almost the entire day, trying to do the carts and the inside trash and sweep later in the afternoon. By the time the evening bagger arrived, I was a half-hour from being done.

Needless to say, I dashed straight home. After I changed, hung my coat up to dry, and had a snack, I went into writing. When he hears that Bill Cullen will be delivering books near the Summer-Winter Castle, Sheriff Ira delivers a spooky story about how locals keep hearing noises and people talking when they're near there, even though the Castle has been empty since Malade invaded. They also reported hearing a wolf howling at night, leading people to believe a terrible beast killed gentle Prince William...but it hasn't been heard from in months. Tired of his gossip and obvious advances, Cullen and Marcia use their mind-based magic to play tricks and get rid of him.

Broke for dinner at 6. Switched on Match Game while making Tuna and Noodles with Peas. (Which I overcooked. I used yogurt instead of sour cream, and it curdled.) The first episode finished out Nipsey, Lee, and Joyce's run as Brett and Charles teased each other about copying their answers and Richard and Brett laid into each other about Richard's comment on Brett's looks. Comedian Johnny Brown from the sitcom Good Times and soap opera sweetheart Trish Stewart joined Rich, Gene, Brett, Charles, and one of my favorites on the show, tart-tongued Marcia Wallace, for the second episode.

Explored Roku for a musical to review tonight. It took me nearly a half-hour to choose, but I went with the classic Frank Sinatra/Rita Hayworth vehicle Pal Joey. I go more into this cynical tale of a singer and the women he uses to get his own club at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Pal Joey

Monday, January 13, 2020

Beautiful Dreamers

Began the day with a quick breakfast while watching the first guest on What's My Line? A coffee expert stumped the panel, who seemed to be expecting him to be an expert on a more nutritious drink like water. After he won, he showed the panel how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Apparently, at least in 1974, a drip coffee maker was preferred to a percolator. The panel sipped four different coffees to see if it was drip, percolator, instant, or decaf.

Work was still a bit crazy. Not because we were busy - we were only steady during the lunch hour - but because we're still in the midst of being reorganized. They use up the carts and are still dumping their trash in our trash cans. Other than emptying the outside trash and sweeping a few times, I spent most of the day outside with the carts. It wasn't a bad day for it. It was cloudy, but the wind vanished overnight. While not as warm as yesterday, it was still not as cold as it should be this time of year, in the 50's.

As soon as I got home, I went straight into writing. Bill the wolf and Charles push their way between Marcia and an overly amorous Ira. Marcia claims Bill belongs to her and Charles is her new assistant at her school. Thwarted in his romantic intentions, Ira shoves a wanted poster into Bill Cullen's arms. He's really there because he followed Robin Hood and his men to Villenveuve. Cullen says their town wouldn't be of interest to a bandit.

Broke for dinner at 6. Ran two episodes of Match Game while eating leftovers for dinner. Lovely Lee Meredith, adorable Joyce Bullifant, and always-rhyming Nipsey Russell joined Brett, Gene, Charles, and Richard for two episodes in 1975. What I really like about this show - other than the stars' antics - is the play-along aspects. I have almost as much fun coming up with my own answer to the questions as the stars and contestants do!

Decided to do something different for dessert. Instead of making muffins, I thought I'd try a dessert bread. One of my 70's-era bread cookbooks had a recipe for something called Honey Pineapple Bread. I didn't have wheat bran and replaced it with oatmeal and used crushed pineapple instead of pineapple juice. Otherwise, I stuck with the recipe. As you can guess from the name, it uses honey instead of sugar as a sweetener. It cooked beautifully and came out perfect, and while it seemed a little bland at first, I ended up enjoying the subtle sweetness.

Finished the night with more Sailor Moon Super S episodes while I worked. Minako "Sailor Venus" Aino is in the spotlight in "Storm of Love: Minako's Grand Two-Timing Plan." Said "two-timing plan" has Minako dating two hot guys at the same time. Those two hot older guys turn out to be Hawk's Eye and Tiger's Eye, and they're not happy about being strung along.

"The Secret Mansion: A Menu of Love For You" has Usagi upset when an older woman won't stand under Mamoru's umbrella. Chibi-Usa and her kitten Diana are more concerned about her living all alone in a huge house. They're right to be worried. The lady is a target of unscrupulous land sharks...and Hawk's Eye of the Dead Moon Circus. But there's someone she's waiting for...

Chibi-Usa is shocked when the girls hear that a Pegasus is attacking cars and trucks in "Believe In Pegasus: The Four Guardians' Super Transformation." She vehemently insists that it's not her new friend, but the girls aren't sure. Pegasus and the girls have a chance to prove themselves when Fish Eye traps Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi-Moon and Pegasus needs the Guardians' help to free them.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Winter Was Very Warm

I awoke to a phone call. It was Charlie...but no one was there when I picked up the phone. I finally shrugged and went back to bed for another hour and a half. (He called me later and told me his cat walked across the phone and accidentally pushed call back.)

It was pouring, warm, and black as tar when I rolled out of bed early this morning. Thank heavens the rain ended as I ate breakfast, and the clouds were vanishing by the time I went to work. I did some returns and briefly got stuck in a register, but I was mostly outside with the cards. It ended up being a great day for it. By noon, the sun was shining, and while it was still windy, it was also still warm, probably in the mid-60's. We were steady for most of the morning; thankfully, it didn't really start to pick up until I was on my way home.

Changed into regular clothes, then made buttermilk pancakes with cranberry compote for lunch while listening to Winter Memories. This was another find from that box of free records I ran across in November. It's part of that series of LP collections of seasonal-themed songs sold by various stores; looks like JC Penney put out this one. To be honest, most of the songs only had the vaguest connection to winter, including Jerry Vale's "My Way" and Ray Conniff and The Singers doing the Broadway standard "My Cup Runneth Over." On the other hand, we did get Andre Kostelnetz and His Orchestra doing a rollicking instrumental "Sleigh Ride," Jim Nabors crooning a lovely "Try To Remember," and Doris Day's "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm."

After lunch, I went straight to bed and took a nap. I spent the morning running around, and I didn't get to sleep last night until late. Thankfully, Charlie and Richard mostly seemed to be messing around in the side garden and not near my room. I slept like a baby until 4:30.

When I finally got up, I worked on some writing. Bill the wolf does not like how Ira is hitting on Marcia and nudges his way between them. Charles doesn't like it, either. Ira tells him to stick to his music and mind his own business. He talks baby talk to Bill and call him a doggy, then threatens to send him to the pound when he snaps at him.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Ate leftovers while listening to the original cast album for 42nd Street. Tammy Grimes is the ailing star and Jerry Orbach the driven director in this 1981 take on the Busby Berkeley film spectaculars of the early 30's. Orbach's "Lullaby of Broadway" and several big chorus numbers, including "Dames," "We're In the Money," and "Go Into Your Dance" are the stand-outs, though Grimes also gets to have fun with "You're Getting To Be a Habit With Me."

Tried playing video games for the first time in a while. I picked up Lego Batman 2 from Goodwill last month, but didn't get around to playing it until tonight. It seems to be a later release, closer to Lego Pirates of the Caribbean and Clone Wars in game play and graphics, and even featuring voices for the characters. Bruce Wayne is competing with Lex Luthor for "Man of the Year" at Gotham. Bruce wins...but the Joker and his rogues gallery burst in and take over before he can receive his award. Batman and Robin follow Harley Quinn, the Riddler, Two-Face, and the Joker through a complicated theater level. It takes so long, it includes save checkpoints. It was fun, though, but also very complicated - you have to get certain suits to do certain things and push certain buttons so see through blocks and turn levers or zap a character.

Finished the night online. I've been looking forward to Buzzr's marathon of Body Language for a couple of weeks now. I'm a bit surprised I never heard of this one. This 1984-1985 game is a cross between charades and Password Plus. Contestants guess the movements celebrities make to allow them to guess a word. The words eventually get loaded into a Mad Libs-type paragraph that describe a person or object. If contestants guess the puzzle, they go on to the bonus round. They have to guess 10 words. However many words they guess is the amount of money they play for in the last round.

Buzzr showed three hours of episodes from three different weeks. Diminutive Lauri Hendler made for an odd couple with towering Richard Moll during the first hour. The contestant got so crazy and jumped around so much after he won the bonus round, Lauri and host Tom Kennedy put up their chairs to hold him back! Betty White and Jamie Farr (the latter in pants) had a lot more luck - and fewer crazy folks - in their week. We ended with the even less-likely pair of psychiatrist Dr. Joyce Brothers and comedian Brad Garrett, who did some hilarious moves in the second round.

Seems this one will be replacing Split Second on Sundays starting next week. While I have enjoyed Split Second, I suspect this will make a better companion to the equally ribald Match Game PM.

Oh, and my cousin Mark must be very happy right now - I know the Eagles probably are. The Packers just squeaked past the Seahawks 28-23 and will play the equally good 49ers in the NFC Championship next week.