Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rainy Day Dreams

Started off a gloomy, rainy morning with breakfast and PAW Patrol. "Pups Save Christmas" is pretty similar to Mickey Saves Christmas. Santa once again gets into an accident with his sleigh and loses the toys. The pups have to find and deliver the toys to the kids of Adventure Bay, round up the reindeer, and fix Santa's sleigh...and get it done in time for Santa to deliver their gifts!

Worked on writing for a while after I ate. Debralee lays on the couch in the lounge with her nutcracker. She wakes up suddenly in the dark when she hears squeaking and finds her nutcracker missing. Mice have invaded the employee's lounge, attacking tree ornaments and snitching food. She's even more surprised to see her nutcracker walking and talking on the ground, calling her a princess and insisting he'll protect her, even if she can't love him. 

Broke for lunch at 12:30. Ate while watching Match Game '75. The set acts up on one of the funniest episodes of the year. At one point, the question holder slides down and refuses to come up again. Gene and Charles tried to fix it, to no avail. They eventually have the champ hold it up, figuring he already has a ton of money and wouldn't steal them. 

Called Uber even before the show ended. The showers and wind were too heavy for bike riding. Surprisingly, I got a ride in 4 minutes. Rushed around, grabbed my umbrella, took the lunch things downstairs, then rushed out. He got me there in five, nearly 15 minutes early. For once, I was right on time.

Between the bad weather, this being the middle of the week and the last day of the month, and the fact that it's the week after the biggest food holiday of the year, we were dead almost the entire night. It got mildly steady around rush hour. Otherwise, I helped a manager wrap heavy ribbon around light poles on the register and tried to think of ways to amuse myself between customers when there was nothing to do.

I had a much harder time getting home. The first Uber I called said he'd be there in 5 minutes. Nearly fifteen minutes later, he still hadn't arrived. The map showed he was picking someone up in Philadelphia! I canceled him. The next one wasn't any better. It said the driver would be there in 5 minutes...then jumped between 5 and 8 minutes for the next ten minutes. Once again, I canceled. Thankfully, the third time proved to be the charm. The last driver I called arrived in the advertised 10 minutes and got me home in five. 

(At least the rain ended long before then. It's still very windy, but hasn't rained since then.)

Caught the last of Match Game '79 while eating a quick dinner. This was one of my favorite episodes of the year. Joyce Bulifant got to show off her early dance training by joining a champion contestant for some terrific jitterbugging. Everyone really got into it, clapping along. The music department even kicked in some swing. 

Finished the night on YouTube after a shower with a pair of Perry Como holiday specials. Perry seems a little out-of-place dressed in a coat at the California Metromedia studio (now LA's Fox TV studios) in The Perry Como Winter Show from 1973. He's bundled up to take Sally Struthers and comedy team Jack Burns and Avery Schriber to Vermont via a magic elevator. Singing group The Establishment provides background vocals and joins the four leads at the Club Igloo, doing imitations of beloved Hollywood stars of the 30's and 40's. Schriber, Burns, and Struthers join up as toys who lament they won't be bought for Christmas, then are glad they have each other, while Como takes Schriber to see Santa Claus. The Establishment sings in their pajamas as Sally and Perry serenade each other after a midnight snack.

The next year, Como returned in a more general variety show special, this time celebrating Perry Como Christmas With the Carpenters. Peggy Fleming joined in here as well for two big skating numbers. The first had her with an elegant blue-and-white clad chorus while she glided around them, a slender, ethereal being in floating white. The second went the Mary Poppins route and had her joined by two animated penguins. The Carpenters get to perform their hit version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Perry Como retells the story of the birth of Christ and performs "Christmas Dream" (which I actually have on one of my True Value Happy Holidays collections). 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Into the Holiday Season

Began the morning with breakfast and a new holiday special on Disney Plus, Mickey Saves Christmas. Mickey and the gang are preparing for Santa's arrival at a log cabin. Mickey's too busy to play with Pluto, so he chases squirrels on his own. This ends with him pulling out the plug on the gang's lights. Santa has a crash-landing on their roof. He and the reindeer are fine, but he lost all the gifts for the kids of Hot Dog Hills. While the Disney crew works frantically to make new gifts, Santa searches for his missing reindeer, and Pluto wishes he could do something to help, too.

Nifty special done in stop-motion with felt characters. You can see every fuzzy detail, from the log cabin to those lost gifts. (Considering the characters of Hot Dog Hills are associated with Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures which ended last year, I wonder if this was intended to air a year or two ago but got pushed back due to the virus.)

Headed out soon as that ended. Started off at the Haddon Township Library. With Thanksgiving early this year, I wanted to squeeze in a few Christmas books from the library before I read my own. Went with Fannie Flagg's A Redbird Christmas and the most recent holiday novel from Joanne Fluke, Christmas Caramel Murder

Had lunch across the street at the Westmont Bagel Shop. Considering they're usually mobbed during the lunch hour with teens from the two high schools down the road looking for treats, I think I caught them at the right time. The only people there were a group of older women chatting. I had my delicious spinach and feta omelet, hash browns, slice of coffee cake, and rainbow bagel in peace. 

Took advantage of the pleasant weather for a long ride across Collingswood. With traffic picking up on Cuthbert, I figured it would be better if I avoided the main roads all together. It really is gorgeous now. While some trees are bare, others display the most amazing shades of gold, russet, and scarlet. It was sunny and breezy, chilly but not overly so for late November. 

Just needed to stop at the bank for money. I didn't even go inside. I used the outside ATM machine. Rode up to it, got my money, and rode home. 

I was supposed to have counseling today. Mrs. Stahl e-mailed me while I had lunch. She had a family emergency and couldn't get together today. Could we try for next Tuesday? Actually, that's perfect. I already have that day off for an early dental appointment. I texted her and told her it would be fine. 

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I did the laundry and vacuumed and dusted the front room while watching Weird: The Weird Al Story. I go further into this spoof of recent rock biographies with music by the master musical satirist himself at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Worked on writing for a while after Weird Al ended. Gene explains to the group that the Sugar Plum Fairy and the dancing candies were created to fill out time in the ballet. Charles adds that he saw the Baryshnikov version on PBS that replaced the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier with the Nutcracker Prince and Clara in the final dances. Brett argues with him that it's still not right. Bart joking tells Ira that he should ask the Nutcracker to help with the mouse population. 

Debalee ignores all their quips and joking. She's getting awfully tired. She lays back on a couch with her Nutcracker and is out like a light before Gene pulls a blanket over her...

Broke for dinner and Match Game '79 at 7.  For some reason, Buzzr skipped the Foster Brooks week and went into the one with Loni Anderson and Jack Jones. Brett walked off during the first episode when Joyce Bulifant's answer of "cannon ball" wasn't accepted for "cannon." The second began with Gene auctioning Loni's bathing suit poster. Charles ended up buying it! 

Finished the night back at Disney Plus with Disney's version of Babes In Toyland. I went further into this delightful fantasy at my Musical Dreams Movies review from November 2018. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Holiday Angels

Started off my morning with breakfast and Charlie & Lola. Like my sisters, Lola won't clean up hers and Charlie's room, even though she insists "It Is Absolutely and Completely Not Messy" and it's an organized mess. Charlie's tired of dealing with "organized messes" that spread all over, even to his bed. It's not until he moves his bed out of the room that Lola remembers she's sharing her room, and "organized mess" or not, she has to think of what her brother wants, too. 

Worked on writing for a while after that. Gene explains that the story he was given for Debralee's Nutcracker follows the original tale by ETA Hoffman, not the ballet. There's no Sugar Plum Fairy or dancing candies. Brett protests that there's always a Sugar Plum Fairy, which leads to arguing when Charles points out that some versions of the ballet give the Fairy's dances to Marie and the Nutcracker Prince.

Broke for lunch at 12:30. Watched Match Game '75 while I ate and got ready for work. Producer and tough-guy actor Sheldon Leonard and Cuban bombshell Louisa Moritz join in here as Gene explains Zorro to a clueless contestant (with sword moves recalling his days as a fencer in high school). Sheldon gets a rare chance to help a contestant with "__ Shirt" in the Head-to-Head.

Headed out to work shortly after that. Between a decent, if windy, afternoon and it being the end of the month and between holidays, we were dead almost the entire night. It got slightly steady during rush hour, only to die off again by 5. In and out with no problems other than some frustrating customers. One of the late-night cashiers came in for me.

Went straight home after work. Had leftovers while watching Match Game '79. Buzzr jumped to earlier in the year. David "Bosley" Doyle, Loretta Swit, and Scoey Mitchilll give some very funny answers to "I Need a __" in the Audience Match. Brett's more nervous about helping the contestant with "You're Out of __" in the Head to Head. We also have a contestant's hilarious answer to who would be the least-likely person on TV to wear a bikini. 

The next episode got even wilder. Scoey turned away from Fannie when he feared she'd give a comic answer on a question one of the contestants really needed. (For the record, she didn't.) Fannie had less luck with "__ Warning" in the Head-to-Head. Meanwhile, Gene's giving Scoey a good smack on the head with his microphone, Charles still wants his own show, and Brett attempts stripping when the appropriate music is played. 

Finished the night at the Roku Channel after a shower with a two-part third season Charlie's Angels episode. "Terror On Skis" brings the ladies to a ski resort in Vail. Colorado to protect the President's Special Envoy to the United Nations and his secretary from a kidnapping plot. While Bosley romances the secretary, Kelly falls for the independent, ski-loving politician, and Kris spars with the special agent who hired the girls. Sabrina thinks she's falling for a handsome Italian skier...but she's in over her head when it turns out the man belongs to his father's terrorist organization. She first tries to convince the youth that his father's cause is doing more damage than good, then attempts escape to warn the others.  

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Eagles Pack In the Packers

Began the morning with breakfast and the A Colonial Christmas CD I bought yesterday. Listed as "Early Music New York," this release from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is apparently a collection of 17th century dance music intended for the huge balls and parties Colonial America loved during the holidays. As such, it was mainly reels and ballads played with the flute and fife.

Hurried out well before the CD ended. It wasn't raining when I left, just cloudy and a little warm-ish for this time of the year. Thankfully, the rain arrived well after I got in and vanished well before I finished for the night.

Work remains a pain in the rear. I get flustered too easily to handle people well. Everyone says not to be hard on myself, but I feel so guilty for getting upset and causing trouble in the first place. I really do not like cashiering. We were steady early on, but once the rain came in and the football games started, our customers died down to a trickle. It picked up again a little during rush hour, then died for good around 5. I spent my last three hours standing around, cleaning registers and organizing coolers. And of course, my last customer was a frantic woman buying soda for the Arby's across the parking lot. Apparently, their soda machine died. I ended up calling a manager to deal with her so I could get out on time.

After I got home, I went straight into dinner and Match Game PM. Bill Macy of Maude joins in for this episode, and I wish he'd come again. He played very well and looked like he had a great time. Elaine Joyce is absolutely delighted when the audience cheers her answer to the question about what a snake does when his snake charmer is a bad musician. Richard Dawson has less luck figuring out "__ Beans" in the Head-to-Head.

(Oh, and Buzzr's last marathon of 2022 sounds like it'll be its annual "Betty White Christmas" week. They run Betty-centric episodes of Match Game, Tattletales, the '94 Family Feud, and the Passwords the week before Christmas and on Christmas Day. I've enjoyed it every year they did it, and this year shouldn't be an exception.)

Switched back and forth between the games and the Eagles-Packers Sunday night game. They once again didn't start out well. It was 20-20 at halftime. Things picked up after that. They played like gangbusters in the second half, ultimately winning 40-34. 

Finished the night with my own shopping game marathon on YouTube, since I didn't see Buzzr's Black Friday Frenzy this year. I had no idea Supermarket Sweep ran over a decade on Lifetime, The Family Channel, and PAX until recently. The episodes I have here are one of the earliest from 1991 and one of the last from 2002. 

The show evolved a lot over the years. David Ruprecht traded colorful shirts and sweaters for colorful ties. More mini-games were added when the show hit the new millennium, including a Password-style "guess the food word" game. The inflatable bonuses found during the Big Sweep increased in size and price, and there were more mini-games to make extra money during the Big Sweep itself. 

Many people nowadays don't remember Wheel of Fortune used to stop between rounds for people to use their accumulated cash to buy prizes. They continued to do that at least as late as the early 90's. I know they still did it when we were watching. By the time I was in college, the prizes were listed on the Wheel and could only be won by landing on them. This Chuck Woolery episode from 1978 is an example of people being able to buy prizes between rounds.

Sale of the Century also ran through several formats during their six-year-run on NBC. I found one of the earlier daytime episodes from 1984 that still had the contestants deciding if they'll take that day's prize, or come back and play again for the possibility of a bigger prize. This was a really exciting game, too. The Speed Round literally came down to the wire. The champ won by two points. Even host Jim Perry looked really excited. 

Shopping shows go way back on TV...and so does the ultimate shopping show, The Price Is Right. Bill Cullen hosted the original version in 1956, which ran on two networks until 1965. It's a lot simpler than the version from the 70's onwards most people are familiar with. Four people bid on an item. That's it. The fun is in seeing the things they bid on that are luxurious even by today's standards, like a huge kitchen and a beautiful new sportscar. The episode I have here is the original test show...and let's just say we're lucky NBC picked it up, given how well some of the bidding goes.

The Honeymoon Race replaced the original Supermarket Sweep on ABC for five months in 1967. Three honeymooning couples drive little cars around Hollywood Mall (apparently now Hollywood Plaza) in Hollywood, Florida. They stop on the way to play mini-games. It's extremely silly to see these grown couples driving around and bumping each other in what amounts to toy cars. I can kind of understand the short run. 

Shopping Spree did better on The Family Channel in 1996. In fact, this would be the closest game show producer Jay Wolpert got to a hit. One half of a couple dresses in small objects that are clues to larger prizes. The other person has to guess which prizes fit the clues. The bonus round - the couples grab items from a board that fit a particular celebrity printed on cardboard and shove it at the cardboard figure - belies the show's low-budget origins, and frankly, it comes off as more than a bit bizarre today. 

Most shopping shows had plugs for the products they sold, but Save to Win was more blatant about it. This short-lived CW show from 2016 had shoppers competing to see who could guess products on a conveyor belt right. Each right answer won them an item for their cart. The second round smacked of Double Dare gross-outs. The contestant's partner has to decide what three food items are based on smell and texture. The third had everyone trying to remember five items in a bag. The bonus round involved one half of the couple choosing an item, and the other half having to match it.

Not only is the game cheap and simplistic, it's just a long advertisement for Family Dollar. The show is set in a Family Dollar that's far cleaner and better-stocked than any real one, and it uses Family Dollar products mixed in with national brands. Frankly, I would have rather seen the Family Dollar shopping spree given away as a consolation prize than the dull matching bonus round. 

See how good you are with spotting bargains by playing along with these super shopping extravaganzas!

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Christmas On Parade

Got a quick start this morning, grabbing my breakfast fast as I could before I headed out. At least it was gorgeous for all the rushing. You'd never know it rained yesterday and is supposed to rain tomorrow. Today was sunny and breezy, in the mid-50's, about as nice as it can be in late November. 

Parked my bike at the rack in the parking lot behind the Senior Center, then went across the street to WaWa for a hot drink. They of course had lines down the narrow aisles. Tried GrooveGround Coffee across the street, but they were even worse in a smaller space. I ultimately returned to WaWa and bought a peppermint cappuccino that tasted mostly of sugar and mint. Took out money to buy a soft pretzel from the Collingwood High wrestling team, who sell them out of carts before the parade. 

Found a place to watch the show on the corner of Haddon and Collings Avenues, about a block from where I parked my bike. The parade is wildly popular, especially with local families. They were packed two and three deep, with parents and kids wrapped in blankets on lawn chairs or the curb. Kids ran around and convinced their parents to buy cotton candy, plastic trumpets, or foam Minecraft swords from men who pushed carts filled with souvenirs up and down Haddon. 

The Collingswood Parade didn't seem as long or big as normal, but there were quite a few highlights. Three elementary schools combined to honor the Phillies making it to the World Series. Four local dance schools strutted their stuff, including Ovations from the other side of Oaklyn and an Irish step school that performed a lively jig. Mummers also strutted as they played their Dixieland banjo tunes in glittering spangles and feathers. My favorite float had an underwater theme, with colorful fish on sticks surrounding a tree festooned with translucent mylar "seaweed" strands and a Nemo topper. Camden High School had the most fun of the marching bands, with their high-stepping drummers. Classic cars and sports cars decorated with stuffed animals or tinsel garland sped by the delighted families.  An elf and tin soldier on stilts gave kids high-fives and juggled for the crowds. Girl Scouts crowded in a gingerbread house float covered in paper "candy." People in costume waves to the kids in the crowd. 

I spotted Raggedy Ann and Andy, the Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, Frosty and Crystal, Rudolph, a Christmas tree and penguin who didn't look happy to be there, and at least two versions of The Grinch. Four local string bands played sprightly tunes. One accompanied Santa's arrival, along with one of the trucks that shot artificial "snow" into the air.

Moved along to Westmont after the parade, dodging a ton of traffic going out of town. I hadn't gotten around to checking them out on my last excursion down Haddon Avenue. Got there at 11:30, which proved to be a little early. Rode around, then bought a donut from McMillan's Bakery before I saw Samaritan Thrift was open. They were busy too, but I was able to pick up mitten-themed wrapping paper, four cards for Mom, Lauren, her parents, and Amanda, a bag for a gift, and the CD A Colonial Christmas.

Phildelity Records opened across the street as I got out. They were almost as busy, but I did very well there, too. In addition to The Shop Around the Corner on DVD, I ended up with: 

The soundtrack for Say One for Me and a double soundtrack for An American In Paris and the 1951 Show Boat 

The Broadway original cast album for Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music

Turned on Christmas

Made my way down Haddon Avenue to Target next. Wanted to finish out my Christmas shopping, or at least get closer. I picked up a gift card for Amanda, soft ornaments for Amanda and Lauren to replace the ones I broke two weeks ago, a food gift for Amanda, and apples and a Diet Pepsi for me. They also had long lines, but for once, there were plenty of cash registers open. I got in and out. 

Had lunch once I got home. Watched The Nutcracker: A Fantasy On Ice while I ate, then took down the Thanksgiving and fall decorations and put up some of what I have for winter. Dorothy Hamill skates with Nutcracker Prince Robin Cousins as Lorne Greene narrates the story of Clara and her beloved toys. This used to run a lot on HBO during the holiday season in the early-mid 80's. My sisters and I loved it. It was my first Nutcracker, long before I knew it was a ballet. 

Went into writing my Nutcracker story after I finished putting everything away. Brett points out the story's similarity to "Beauty and the Beast," which leads to a round of "beast" jokes. Debralee ignores them, wondering if her nutcracker really is a prince...and almost wishing he was...

Broke for dinner at 7. Ate while finishing out the night with Doctor Dolittle on Amazon Prime. I go further into the troubled Rex Harrison version of the animal-loving veterinarian and his many fantastic adventures at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Holiday Fantasies

Had enough time for a decent breakfast this morning while watching Charlie & Lola. Lola's grandparents gave her an alligator costume, and she refuses to take it off for anything. "But I'm An Alligator," she keeps insisting, despite her brother's obvious embarrassment. Charlie's really worried when he learns Lola plans on wearing her alligator costume in front of the whole school. Lola however, has her reasons for wearing it - to explain how much she loves dressing for any part.

I awoke to rain. It seemed to be coming down at a pretty good clip when I got up, so I called Uber. Not only did it slow down even as I walked outside, but it took them 17 minutes to arrive. Naturally, that made me late for work. 

Thankfully, that was the worst thing that happened the entire day. We were off-and-on steady, probably because one morning cashier called out sick, and another said she didn't feel well and went home early. It's the day after the biggest food holiday of the year. Most people are shopping for everything but food this weekend! Other than my last two breaks being late, there were no major problems. It died so quickly by 6:30, I was able to shut down with no relief and no need for one.

Though the rain had long vanished by 6:30. the wind whipped around the carts as I headed outside. I called Uber again. This time, they took 13 minutes. I went further down to check if a car was them...and it not only wasn't, but the right car showed up just as I did that. Fortunately, we had no trouble once we got on the road, no traffic anywhere.

When I got home, I went straight into dinner and The Care Bears Nutcracker. The Care Bears and Cousins head down to Earth to help lonely Anna get over her best friend moving away. Her brother Peter just wants adventure. They both get what they want when a confused nutcracker falls through a hole opening in Anna's room. Anna's shocked to see an army of rats, including the Rat King, on his heels! Anna and the Bears and Cousins eventually join the Nutcracker to help him save Toyland from the rats and the evil Vizier. Peter tags along with Hugs and Tugs, who are looking for their own special ornament. 

Finished the night online with more vintage holiday fantasies. Found the Laurel & Hardy March of the Toy Soldiers on Tubi. I went further into this at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog back in November 2018. 

Ran into the Mikhail Baryshnikov Nutcracker at YouTube. This is more-or-less a traditional version of the ballet's story. Here, though, the emphasis is on the Nutcracker Prince and Clara (Gelsey Kirkland), who replace the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier in their dances and dance with the snowflakes as well. Mother Ginger's dance is down to just a group of clowns cavorting. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving In the City

Began my Thanksgiving with a ringing phone around 8 AM. Did I want to come see the Philly parade with my stepsister Jessa? I hadn't planned on it, but...well, why not? Beat sitting at home in front of the Macy's parade. I quickly got dressed, grabbed breakfast, and hurried out to her car waiting for me on the curb. 

We picked up the PATCO train into Philly at Collingswood. Surprisingly, we didn't have a hard time getting a seat either way. The train was half-full, but not stuffed. We got off at 8th and Market and wandered around in the tunnels a little bit before making our way up to Market Street. 

Jessa led me down a delightfully quiet Market Street to City Hall. The last thing I expected to see in the center of Philadelphia's seat of government was a gorgeous two-decker merry go round surrounded by little huts festooned with greenery and lights. I completely forgot about their Christmas Village, a German-themed collection of small booths and eateries selling holiday goodies. 

We passed by these for the time being, making our way to 16th and JFK Boulevard across from Suburban Station. Huge crowds three and four rows deep gathered around the curb as cymbols crashed and marching bands twirled flags and played "Jingle Bells." The Thomas the Tank Engine balloon floated by as we arrived, to the delight of train-loving kids in the audience.

To tell the truth, we got in so late, we only saw the last 20 minutes or so. I still had a lot of fun, though. A really nifty pirate boat float and a neon showboat with kids waving pom poms passed us by. We saw giant ornaments and a huge Smurfette balloon. Santa arrived last in his giant sleigh, proceeded by one of the local marching bands glittering in black and gold.

We doubled back through Love and Willhem Parks to explore the Christmas Village further. Every booth featured knitted scarves and hats, glittering delicate glass or rustic hand-made ornaments, Philadelphia souvenirs, or wooden toys and games. The scene of smoked sausage and the tang of sauerkraut and good German beer filled the air as people gathered around the famous LOVE sculpture. We looked around, but didn't buy anything. I picked up a hot chocolate to wake me up at a busy Dunkin' Donuts on Market Street instead.

Jessa drove me home after we got back in. She and her husband Joe were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at an aunt's house. Oh, and she's doing just fine. She's taken up running and is looking quite fit. She managed to move faster than me in the city! 

Got home around 11 AM. That left me plenty of time to watch the last hour of the Macy's parade. My favorite balloon was the adorable green Sinclair Oil dinosaur and her darling baby clinging happily to her back. I also liked sweet yellow Baby Shark, and one that I'd seen around but never checked out, book character Ada Twist, Scientist. No clue what Ryan's World or the Red Titan is, either. 

Switched to Match Game '75 while making my bed and putting on the warmer flannel sheets. Game show legends Bob Barker and Arlene Francis join in to see contestant Carol Bartos become the Match Game all-time champ at that point. The others throw in their own help with "Heat __" on the Audience Match.

At 12:30, I went to Paramount Plus to watch the Bills-Lions game while changing into nicer pants. Considering the Bills are one of the best teams in the NFL and the Lions are only so-so, the game was much better than I expected. One team would run down and score a touchdown, only for the other team to take it in the other direction. The Bills had just started to pull ahead when I called Uber to take me to Brooklawn. (The Bills eventually won 28-25.)

To my surprise, I got an Uber driver in less than a minute; they arrived in three. There was actually quite a bit of traffic around as he drove across Camden County to Brooklawn and Gloucester City, especially on the highways. I guess a lot of people wanted to go home for Thanksgiving this year.

I, on the other hand, went out to eat at the Empire Diner. The glittering chrome and neon building sits on a traffic circle hugging the borders of Brooklawn and Gloucester. Unlike the more modern Colonial and Legacy Diners, the Empire went in for straight fifties, with laminated tables and chrome everywhere. They were surprisingly busy for a holiday. I did see some other people dining alone, mainly older folks, but it was mainly large family groups who crowded into booths.

My free turkey dinner came with cranberry stuffing and a choice of soup, salad bar, and vegetable sides. I went with the salad bar for more greens and a tuna macaroni salad, fried zucchini, and sweet potatoes. The gloppy gravy was probably from a bottle, but the turkey and stuffing were decent. I'd never had fried zucchini before. They were basically breaded zucchini slices, and they weren't bad. Drinks and desserts weren't included in the meal, but it isn't Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Christmas songs played on the radio in the background. (Among them, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." It's not really the Christmas season until you hear Bing on the radio.)

It took me much longer to get a ride home. The Empire Diner is lovely, but it's in the middle of nowhere. The only other things out there are a Shop-Rite down the road and a bowling alley, neither of which are on the same side of the traffic circle as the Diner. Took the driver more than 20 minutes to find the place, and then we had to turn around and go another way when a huge puddle flooded the pass under the train bridge nearby.

The weather was way too pleasant to go straight inside when I got back into Oaklyn. I opted for a walk to WaWa instead. It was absolutely perfect today. The sun was out, the sky was a sweet baby blue, and it was in the mid-50's, nowhere near as cold as it was last week. The wind had vanished, too. Treated myself to a tasty peppermint mocha smoothie at a busy WaWa. 

After I got home, I settled down to watch (and nearly passed out while watching) Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Ad executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) just wants to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but every vehicle he attempts to ride, from planes to trucks, fails to get him closer. He also keeps running into Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower curtain ring salesman and the nicest guy you'll ever meet, but also a chatty and annoying mass of bad habits. As the two men make their way to Chicago in any way they can get to, Neal begins to understand why Del is on the road...and why he has a real reason to be thankful.

Classic comedy remains one of the most hilarious of director John Hughes' career and features two of Candy and Martin's best performances, even when it takes a sharp left turn into forced sentimentality towards the end. 

Worked on writing for an hour or so next. Debralee settles down on the couch with her nutcracker while the others discuss the idea of the Nutcracker being a prince. Bill Daily is now the one who points out the differences between the nutcracker's story and the ballet. Gene insists it sounds more like the original ETA Hoffman story. 

Watched the Peanuts Thanksgiving specials while having a small soup dinner. Chuck has a real dilemma in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Peppermint Patty invited herself, Franklin, and Marcie over for dinner, but Chuck and Sally are going to their grandmother's house for dinner. Linus suggests they make a simpler meal of toast, pretzel sticks, ice cream, jelly beans, and popcorn to appease them. Peppermint Patty is furious, until Marcie and Linus remind their friends of the real reason for the holiday.

The real reason for the holiday also turns up in The Mayflower Voyagers, an episode of the mini-series This Is America, Charlie Brown. The Peanuts kids, Snoopy, and Woodstock are pilgrim children and pets going to the New World. While all of the children and animals did survive the journey and subsequent bad winter, their parents weren't so fortunate. Many were sick and dying when the Native chief Massasoit and his warrior Squanto offered aid to the settlers. After a bountiful harvest, they're so grateful to their new friends, they hold a feast of Thanksgiving in honor of their home and all they have to be grateful for. 

Finished the night on YouTube with two lesser-known Thanksgiving specials. I go further into these at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

And I hope you had an equally joyful and unique Thanksgiving with all the people you love! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

All Kinds of Pilgrims

Started off the morning with breakfast and the short Molly's Pilgrim from 1985, since I read the book earlier. Molly's a Russian immigrant who is living in a small American town with her parents. She hasn't exactly gotten a warm welcome. Her classmates make fun of her accent, her old-fashioned clothes, her borcht lunches, and her Slavic looks. At Thanksgiving, her teacher asks the class to make Pilgrim or Indian dolls. Molly's mother makes her doll look like them, rather than the typical Victorian pilgrim. The kids in her class are confused, until Molly and her teacher explain that, like the Pilgrims of old, Molly and her parents came to the US for religious freedom. As a boy in Molly's class points out, it really does take all kinds of pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving.

Headed off to work shortly after the special ended. We weren't bad when I arrived, but people started streaming around 11, and it wouldn't really let up until almost 5:30. Everyone wanted to do their shopping soon as they got off work and picked up the kids from school. I was surprised at the huge orders, including one over $650! I figured everyone did their big shopping well before today. We did have problems with a man this morning, but other than that, there was no really major trouble.

At least they fed us. We had cheese pizza and candy leftover from Halloween in the employee's room from noon onwards. They still had pizza left when I got ready to head out. Reeces pumpkins work just as well for Thanksgiving as they do Halloween anyway. 

Went straight home after work and into dinner. Watched the famous Thanksgiving episode of WKRP In Cincinnati, "Turkeys Away!," while I ate. Feeling left out, station manager Arthur Carlson comes up with a big secret promotion he won't tell anyone else about. Of course, Arthur thinks he's thought through every detail, but as news reporter Les Nessman learns the hard way, he didn't consider the fact that turkeys are flightless birds...

Switched to Match Game '79 while I had dessert. Carolyn Reisner became the all-time champ on the show with over $32,000, thanks to Brett helping her with "Snug __." Later on, the next female contestant shows off her nifty nails painted with Groucho Marx's face on them. 

Moved to DVD for the swashbuckler spoof Jack of All Trades. They somehow managed to get a Thanksgiving episode, "One, Two, Three, Give Me Lady Liberty," into their second season. Jack is ready for a big Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, but Emilia is more interested in finding out why diminutive emperor Napoleon is building a statue she modeled for. They first distract him with food, then pull out another Thanksgiving tradition - football - to keep him away from that statue!

Finished the night online with more Thanksgiving programming. Larry Appleton thinks he can sell "Wild Turkey" the night before Thanksgiving in the seventh season of Perfect Strangers. Balki does sell one turkey, before Jennifer finds her diamond ring missing and thinks the turkey ate it. Balki and Larry try to retrieve it from the family who bought it, even after it's already cooked and on the dining room table.

The Thanksgiving Treasure is the second Addie Mills movie from 1973. Addie (Lisa Lucas) is delighted when she sees a beautiful horse at a run-down farm on the edge of town. Turns out the horse, whose name is Treasure, belongs to grouchy old Walter Renquist (Barnard Hughes). Renquist is a bitter enemy of Addie's father James (Jason Robards) because he never finished digging him a pond years ago. Addie brings him Thanksgiving dinner in order to befriend him and ride the horse. She manages to make friends with both, despite Renquist insisting she's bossy. When Renquist gets sick, Addie learns a hard lesson in being thankful for the people around us, even when they're gone.

Charming and lovely as the other Addie movies, I especially like the bleak winter landscapes Addie and her friend Cora Sue (Franny Michael) ride through here. I also enjoy how she eventually makes a friend out of Renquist, making what happens in the end all the harder. Great for families looking for Thanksgiving programming, especially those with girls Addie's age.

Here's even more holiday blasts from the past!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Thankful for Cartoons and Comedy

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast and heading out the door. At least the weather was better for heading out the door. The wind finally blew itself out, leaving soft blue skies and much warmer temperatures, probably in the lower 50's. I pulled into work just in time.

Wish things went as well for the rest of the day. We didn't start out crazy. In fact, we were steady for most of the morning and early afternoon. It didn't get busy until people started pulling out of work and wanting to stop and pick up anything they needed for Thanksgiving. We were short on help, too, thanks to a call-out. Not to mention, this is the day we have a 5% discount for those over 65, which tends to be popular with a senior home two blocks away. It picked up enough by 4 PM for the lines to be down the aisles. It had only just started slowing down when a teen came in so I could go home.

When I got in, I went straight into dinner and Match Game '79. No one was more thrilled when Carolyn Reisner added another huge chunk of change to her account than the man who gave her the match, Bill Daily. He got so excited, he pulled up his sweater and looked like he wanted to take off his clothes for a few minutes!

Threw on Rhythm Romance after a shower. Originally titled Some Like It Hot (and changed after the unrelated 1959 movie came out), I go further into this 1939 vehicle for Bob Hope and drummer Gene Krupa at my Musical Dreams Movie Review blog. 

Finished the night with animated Thanksgiving specials at YouTube. The Bernstein Bears Meet Big Paw when a frantic hedgehog passes on the legend of a monster who'll attack anyone who is "greedy, and not good to the needy." Papa and the other citizens of Bear Country are ready to attack this creature. Mama, however, reminds them that they should be kind to strangers, and then their cubs end up on Big Paw's mountain, trying to find him.

The early video game Q-Bert is probably the last thing you'd associate with Thanksgiving, but the "Q-Bert" segment of the 80's animated series Saturday Supercade did do a very peculiar episode devoted to the holiday. Q-Bert's teacher says it's "Thanksgiving for the Memories" when she tells the story of how the Q-Pilgrims came to the New World. The oldest pilgrim promises a new wagon and horse to the settler who does the most work. Q-Bert wants the wagon, but Coiley the snake tries to trip him up wherever he can. When Q-Bert's little brother Q-Bit runs away, it takes help from all the settlers and their new Native friends to bring them back. 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Autumn Adventures

Awoke for a quick reading session. Linda Young sent me a book on Thanksgiving history and lore I've read every year in the days leading up to the holiday since. Wrote in my journal, then barely had time to grab breakfast before I hurried out.

Started out in the register, but I had problems early-on. I didn't explain to a woman properly that we can't put through photos of her food stamp card. We need the physical card. Everyone said I was too hard on myself, but I shouldn't have led her to believe she'd be able to use it. She ended up putting back a really large order, and I ended up feeling terrible. 

Although things went much better after that, they still pulled me to do carts and sweeping around 1 PM. Despite it being only steady, I had a hard time keeping up with them. At least the weather's much better. It's still fairly cold, but not nearly as windy, and the sun feels nice when you can get into it. It made for a pleasant afternoon outside.

Also, a co-worker suggested the Empire Diner in Brooklawn for Thanksgiving when I explained I was looking for places to eat out. Seems they give out free dinners that day. Research reveals this is, indeed, the case. They're a little further than Cherry Hill, but not that much. If I can get an Uber that day, it may be worth trying. 

Hurried home after work to put the laundry downstairs and do some writing. I won't have much time for it this week! Jim Staal assures Debralee he thinks the story of the Nutcracker is sweet too, not childish, like Bart claims. Brett wonders why it's not more like the ballet. 

Broke for dinner and to finally move the laundry to the dryer at 7. For some reason, Buzzr jumped way ahead to nearly the end of Match Game '79 tonight. These episodes were never shown on CBS, and were apparently not seen anywhere but New York City until they turned up on GSN in the 90's. Fred Grandy of The Love Boat joins in for the first time, along with Marcia Wallace, Bill Cullen, and Connie Stevens, to see a smart young woman named Carolyn Reisner win what would become the first of many games. 

Finished the night after I brought my laundry upstairs to be folded online with Plymouth Adventure from 1952 at Amazon Prime. Captain Christopher Jones (Spencer Tracy) is paid to take a group of pilgrims seeking religious freedom in the New World away from their planned Virginia settlement and dump them in the wilderness. Young carpenter John Alden (Van Johnson) is more interested in helping the settlers build homes. On the long voyage, he falls for pretty Priscilla Mullins (Dawn Addams), despite the interest of soldier Captain Miles Standish (Noel Drayton). Jones has his own affair with Dorothy Bradford (Gene Tierney), the wife of the exiled William Bradford (Leo Genn). Jones doesn't hold with the pilgrims' ideals and thinks they're too soft. Dorothy, on the other hand, believes there's good in him...and she may be right when Jones remains in Plymouth Harbor as a shelter for the Pilgrims, despite his own misgivings. 

Rollicking action story is one of the few to adapt this period or the pilgrims' story to feature-length film. It's also the last movie for long-standing MGM director Clarence Brown. Where this really works is in the costuming and special effects. The models for the Mayflower look so good, even to this day, they won an Oscar for Best Effects. The big storm at sea is especially effective. If you're looking for a good, swashbuckling adventure for Thanksgiving, you can do a lot worse than this rousing tale. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

We Gather for Games

Slept a bit later than I planned, though thankfully not enough for me to get out at a decent time. And I did set the alarm, too!I just went right back to sleep for a half-hour. At least I was able to eat breakfast and hurry outside in the brisk, windy morning sunshine.

We were off and on busy at work for most of the day. It's the Sunday before the major food holiday of the year and the first time the Eagles played during the day in nearly a month. There were some annoying folks, like the people who thought they could buy a cart full of food for $150 and several folks who didn't understand - and didn't want to hear about - our sales. For the most part, the day went quickly. It slowed down enough by 6:30 for me to get off without a relief and even return a container of sushi that had open accidentally.

(Oh, and apparently the Eagles started off poorly against the Colts, but made a major comeback in the second half. They literally won by 1 point, 17-16.)

Went straight home and into dinner and Match Game PM. Gene has a cold in the first episode, which doesn't endure him to the other panelists. While Richard fends him off, Fannie admits that "the eyes have it" - that is, the winking sequined eye on her t-shirt. Lee Merriweather also shows off something lovely, a beautiful sculpted butterfly she wore around her neck. Bill Daily is delighted when one of the panelists has a suit that matches his.

Gene sports an ugly plaid coat more appropriate for Christmas in the next episode. Scoey Mitchilll reminds the hostile audience why he does game shows instead of more violent pursuits, which prompts a hug from Charles. Somehow, Patti Deustch manages to get a question right about what a mother who wanted a daughter dressed her son in when Richard got it wrong. Richard does better with "All In __" in the Head to Head. 

Speaking of Match Game, I finished the night with game show episodes set on or involving Thanksgiving. Match Game did bring up the holiday occasionally, notably when "Thanksgiving __" was an Audience Match question in late 1978. The sweet contestant was far happier ending up in Guich Kotch's arms! 

Other shows incorporated the holiday into their prize packages. Sale of the Century gave away fine silverware, dining room furniture, and a big turkey dinner for Thanksgiving 1985. The syndicated High Rollers from 1987 had cartoon turkeys "stuffed" with wads of cash as prizes. Classic Concentration had mini Corvettes for kids and jewelry to wear to dinner on their rebus board in 1990. 

Thanksgiving goes back a ways on TV. In 1963, the nighttime To Tell the Truth welcomed the Australian inventor of a game called "the Wobbleboard," a woman who became a teacher of Japanese flower arranging, and the man who was then in charge of the Macy's Parade balloons. (Parade balloons in 1963 included Bullwinkle the Moose, Donald Duck, Popeye, Elsie the Borden Cow, a dinosaur, and the Happy Dragon.) I learned more about how the Macy's balloons worked than I ever wanted to! 

(Oh, and Gimbles sponsored the Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade from its inception in 1920 until they closed in 1986. A variety of sponsors took over after that; Dunkin' Donuts is the current sponsor. And they've used balloons at least since I was a kid.) 

The Price Is Right has done Thanksgiving episodes nearly since its inception. It's first hour-long Thanksgiving episode culminated with a hilarious Thanksgiving Showcase skit that had the models as pilgrim maidens and Johnny Olsen as a Native chief in a big feathered headdress. Chief Olsen wants the ladies to get with the New World times, but they can top him when it comes to transportation - their speed boat is no canoe! 

Thanksgiving is a time for family, and no families are wilder than the ones who turn up on Family Feud. The syndicated show from the late 80's did a Thanksgiving special in 1989. Ray Combs asked holiday-related questions, and the episode ended with both families and Combs enjoying a big turkey dinner. 

Gather with your family before the big dinner and see who can play along! (Many of the shows come with their original commercials or the ones from their Game Show Network run, including Price Is Right, Classic Concentration, and Family Feud.)

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Champagne and Pumpkin Pie

Got another quick start today, with barely enough time to eat breakfast. At least the weather remains nice here. Yes, it's still cold and windy, but it's also sunny, with a pale blue sky. It actually feels like Thanksgiving, and I'll take that over it being too warm for the time of year.

Got stuck in a register again at work. We were off and on busy. The off times were slow enough for me to spend an hour shelving unwanted items, and getting a lot done, too. Unfortunately, I still had a lot of annoying customers. My last one was an older woman who kept complaining that her rewards program app wasn't working, and she wasn't getting anything. I tried to explain about having to push the buttons to clip the online coupons, but she claimed she did that. I eventually called a manager...who later discovered the woman was in such a hurry, she kept typing in the wrong phone number for her account.

Picked up cranberry scones for breakfast this week and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for a treat, then went home. Did some writing after I changed into regular clothes. Gene explains to Debralee that the Nutcracker had once been a solider who was turned into a wooden toy, along with his army, when he tried to defend a cursed princess and was in turned cursed by the wicked Mouse Queen. Bart dismisses this as silly, but Debralee thinks it's romantic.

Broke for dinner and Match Game PM at 7. Isobel Sanford showed off her nifty Kwanzaa shirt to the panel, to the delight of Gene Rayburn and Richard Dawson! She was less pleased when the judge wouldn't match her answer of "meter" for "parking meter." Charles does much better with "Cream of __" in a big 10,000 Head-to-Head.

Jimmie Walker, Elaine Joyce, and Marcia Wallace came in for the second episode. Marcia had a bit of surprise when she actually managed to match a rather gross question about what forty soldiers did after eating a bad dinner. Jimmie also came in for a ribbing about being on the thin side then, while the others try to figure out "Spin __" in the Audience Match.

Put on The Little Prince after dinner. I go further into this whimsical fantasy film from 1974 based after the famous French children's novel at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Finished the night at YouTube with Lawrence Welk. They didn't get quite as into Thanksgiving as they did other holidays, but they still did a Thanksgiving show every year. The one from 1975 at least had the right spirit. Cissy King and Bobby Burgess dance a Castle-like Turkey Trot, complete with Ragtime-era costumes. Jimmy Roberts and Norma Zimmer enjoy "Sitting In the Evening By the Fireside." Tanya Faylen Welk sings "Winter Wonderland" while watching the dancers "skate." Ken Delo has fun in the audience, reminding the old folks that "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You."

I have fond memories of watching the 1978 Thanksgiving episode in college. I never forgot Mary Lou Metzinger and Jack Imel's charming "What You Got Cookin'?" as a maid who thinks the man working on the turkey is the actual chef. Cissy and Bobby's idea of a Native American war dance, complete with stereotypical face paint and fringe, has dated far less well nowadays. They come off much better doing a sprightly polka with Welk and Myron Floren towards the end. Anacani gives thanks in her native Spanish with "Vaya Con Dios." Norma Zimmer says a prayer over Thanksgiving dinner and honors their guest Meredith Wilson with "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You."

Their last Thanksgiving episode debuted in 1981. The show began and ended with "Home For the Holidays," and the big dinner finale was done to "We Gather Together." The Hotsy Totsy Boys joined three lovely ladies for the Roaring 20's favorite "Baby Face." Ken Delo and his long-time friend Arthur Duncan go "Back In Your Own Backyard" and remember why it's so important to get home to your family at Thanksgiving. Bobby Burgess joins his new partner Elaine Niverson for a lively "Turkey In the Straw" cowboy square dance. Kathie Sullivan gets "Fireside" here, with assistance from Bob Ralsten and his organ. All three episodes feature the orchestra's rousing performance of "76 Trombones" from The Music Man

Celebrate Thanksgiving with your family and Lawrence Welk's!

Friday, November 18, 2022

On the Job Hunt

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast and Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures on The Roku Channel. Berrykin Bloom's "Berry Big Harvest" is so huge, Orange Blossom doesn't have room for it in her general store. Not that she'd admit it. She doesn't want the others thinking she's not organized and can't take care of her business, so she doesn't ask them for help with the windfall. When things get out of hand and Orange is left cleaning up the mess, Strawberry has to figure out a way to help her out without hurting her feelings.

Rushed out right after Strawberry ended. Made a quick stop at the post office to drop paperwork in the mail, then rode to the Collingswood Library for my appointment with my new Abilities Solutions counselor. I was three minutes late, but Karen just barely arrived ahead of me. She had to wrangle with Collingswood's parking meters. (One of the advantages of riding a bike. I just park in the bike rack.)

When we got upstairs, we talked for an hour and a half. I explained everything about my situation, from hating my job to all the trouble I've had in the past year. I don't care how long I've worked at the Acme, or how good everyone thinks I am at it. It's not right for me. All it does is make me anxious and stressed, and I don't make enough money to put up with it. I want to find a data entry job, or something similar. We did all the paperwork together, went over my resumes, and discussed what I wanted out of a job. Something where I can sit down, use my brain, and have a real career, not just something I do to make money. 

Karen said she'd go over my resumes, see if she could update or change them to find what skills I have, and get back to me after Thanksgiving.

I debated stopping at WaWa for a drink after we finished, but I finally decided I didn't need it and didn't really have the time. Hurried home, changed, packed my lunch bag, and hurried back out. At least the day was decent for all the rushing! It was sunny, windy, and very cold, probably in the mid-40's. 

Though I did push carts for a half-hour before the afternoon bagger arrived, I spent most of the day in one register or another. I wish I hadn't. We were only busy because one of the all-day cashiers called out. People with huge orders kept ignoring the signs and getting into the express lane, upsetting those with small orders. Others threw fits when they didn't understand how that online rewards program worked and didn't get the sale they wanted. 

Also got my schedule. I work 8 1/2 hours every day but Monday...which is not a surprise the week of Thanksgiving. I asked for Thanksgiving off, but to my surprise and delight, they also gave me Saturday. I'll be able to see the Collingswood Christmas Parade for the first time since 2019. 

I was very happy to get out of there. Went straight into dinner and Match Game '74 when I got home. New girl on the block Louisa Moritz is more than happy to get a welcoming kiss from Gene. The others are happier to help the sweet new champ with "Polly __" in the Audience Match.

Grand Ol' Opry favorite Minnie Pearl really livened up a week in Match Game '77 with her flowered hats, frilly dresses, and down-to-earth nature. Slightly more timid Dick Smothers also joined in to see Richard help the contestant with "Forward __" in the first episode. In the second, there were several jokes about a woman wearing a t-shirt that said "Baby Down There." 

Worked on writing for an hour after the show ended and while they were on. Debralee is upset when Bart breaks the teeth on her nutcracker. Gene wraps it up with his handkerchief and assures her he'll get it fixed tomorrow. He tells her the story of the nutcracker that the thrift shop owner told him. He's really an enchanted prince who was turned into a nutcracker by a wicked mouse queen when he tried to save a princess from her spells. Debralee thinks it's romantic; Bart thinks it's silly. 

Took a shower, then spent the rest of the night watching Thanksgiving sitcom and variety show episodes online. The closest The Muppet Show got to a Thanksgiving episode was when folk singer Arlo Guthrie appeared in the fourth season. While the Swedish Chef tries to figure out what to make for the big family dinner, cows perform "Elegance" from Hello Dolly, Gonzo's "Hernando's Hideaway" disrupts Fozzie's attempt to read Robert Frost in a sleigh, and Guthrie sings "Grocery Blues" and "Sailing Down This Golden River" in a simple home set.

The doctors and nurses of the 4077th have an even harder time on "The Yalu Brick Road" in the eighth season of MASH. The turkeys Klinger got from a guy he knew give everyone, including him and General Potter, salmonella poisoning. Sergeant Rizzo spends his Thanksgiving threatening Klinger with bodily harm when his stomach behaves. Winchester and Hot Lips end up taking care of everyone and spend the day on each other's throats. Father Mulcahey's barely able to keep them from killing each other. Meanwhile, Hawkeye and BJ do their best to get the antidote to camp, with a North Korean soldier they dub "Ralph" tagging along.

Family time is hard on The Bob Newhart Show, too. Bob's invited his parents for Thanksgiving, but they're far from "An American Family" when his wife Emily's  parents turn up too. Bob's fussy mother gets into an argument with Emily's loudmouth father, which ends with none of the grandparents showing up for dinner. Bob finally gets them all over for dessert, reminding them that no matter how much they fight, they're still family. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Winds of Fall

Cracked open my eyes, sleepily looked at the clock...and it said 9:31. Holy cow, work began at 9! I sprang out of bed and called them to say I'd be late. Dressed quickly as I could, grabbed a granola bar, and rushed out on my bike. Arrived at work nearly an hour late. I wasn't the only one; a manager later said she also overslept and was more than a half-hour late.

At any rate, that's the worst that happened all day. We weren't busy at all. Everyone must be waiting for the weekend to do their Thanksgiving shopping. I agreed to stay longer to make up for being late. Spent the time I was there pushing carts and enjoying a sunny, cold, gale-force windy morning.

I did have time for a little bit of shopping after work. Eighteen-count boxes of Quaker granola bars were 2 for 8 if you bought two. Needed muffins for lunch this week (they're buy one-get one), and my peanut butter is half-empty. Wanted to try the Turkey Hill seasonal flavor Pumpkin Spiced Cookie (pumpkin ice cream with spice cookie nuggets, like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough). 

Came home and put everything away, then watched The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. I go further into the last film Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together at RKO and their only time playing real people together at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Worked on writing for the next few hours. A slightly inebriated Bart Braverman grabs the nutcracker and tries to crack a harder nut with it. He breaks the teeth, upsetting Debralee, who grabs it back, and Gene Rayburn, who orders him to apologize.

Broke for dinner and Match Game '77 at 7:30. Minnie Pearl of the Grand Ol' Opry made her only appearance on the show this week...and boy, do I wish she'd come back. She was adorable, very funny, and an excellent player. She even turned up in her famous ruffled dress and flowered hat in the first episode. Brett wore her own flowered hat in the second episode in tribute.

Finished the night online with Thanksgiving specials featuring favorite characters. Bugs Bunny's Thanksgiving Diet can currently be found on Dailymotion. It honestly has nothing whatsoever to do with Thanksgiving. Bugs, dressed as a doctor, gives an attractive but overweight girl bunny dieting advice between segments from Looney Tunes shorts that had something to do with food or getting it (including several Wil. E Coyote and Road Runner sequences), 

Celebrated Mickey and Minnie Mouse's 94th birthdays on Disney Plus with Thanksgiving episodes of Mickey Mouse kids' shows. It's "Mickey's Thanks-a-Bunch Day" at Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Minnie wants to make salads for their feast, but her garden won't grow. Professor Ludwig Von Drake's formula works too well, inflating the fruits and vegetables to gargantuan proportions. Mickey has to figure out what to do with the leftovers after they make the fruit and vegetable salads.

Mickey joins Donald for Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures. "Mickey's Thanksgiving Fun Race" goes off-course when they can't decide how to drive their gravy boat car. After they get all of the racers into trouble, they finally decide that the best way to work things out is together. 

"Happy Thanksgiving Helpers" are having a holiday party at their place. Daisy's looking forward to having her grandmother's Double Berry Cranberry Sauce with all the other traditional dishes their friends bring. First, though, she can't find cranberries, then her friends call and say they're bringing other things. After a lot of running around and getting covered in glop, Daisy finally decides that what's important are the friends around the table, not what they're eating. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Dance Into the Holiday Season

Awoke to a ringing phone. It was my new counselor for Abilities Solutions, Karen. She wanted to know if I could meet her at 10 AM on Friday morning to discuss my resume and where I could be employed. I made it very clear that I do not want to be in retail anymore. I want something sitting down that involves writing or organizing. My current job is driving me insane, and I want out as soon as possible. She mentioned bringing my social security card, ID, the signed papers they sent two days ago, and a resume to figure out what my skills are and where they can place me.

Went back to sleep for an hour, then read A Deadly Feast for so long, I didn't get to breakfast until noon. Sarah Kennedy and Bobby Van join in for Match Game '75. Brett and Charles really got into teasing each other here, especially on the limerick question in the beginning and the Audience Match "Twinkle __."

The next episode was one of the funniest of 1975. Gene heard that the Germans read "Schnick Schnack" in place of "blank," since they have no word for blank in their language, and decided to try it himself. That led to a round of German accent jokes, especially from Richard Dawson, who worked with several real-life Germans and Austrians on Hogan's Heroes.  

Worked on my Christmas list during the second episode. It's not what I'm getting. It's what I'm giving. All I want this year is to have a relatively normal holiday season after what happened last year. I should be able to send out cards, and I'm hoping to make cookies and candy. Need to round up someone to get me to the storage facility to pick up my Christmas decorations.

Stayed briefly for Tattletales...because Gene Rayburn hosted it. It was one of those game show host weeks where Bert Convy sits in with his wife Ann. They tossed in a few Match Game-style "blank" questions, and Gene had a great time, really running with it. 

Headed out after the first question. Dropped a book at the kiosk in front of the Lutheran Church, then headed to Collingswood to do some Christmas shopping. I would be in and out for the next hour or so after I went to the bathroom at the library. Picked up a game for Lauren and her parents at the Educational Ed toy store and a stuffed gingerbread man toy for tiny Aurora at the new Occasionette Joy Shop, a baby store.

Dodged early rush hour traffic as I headed down Cuthbert Road to the Westmont Target. Had a brief lunch at Starbucks. Just barely missed the teens coming in from the local high school. Thankfully, by the time a long line formed, I'd sat down with my spinach, egg, and feta wrap and Peppermint Mocha Frappucino. After I ate, I found Christmas presents in the toy section for Anny's daughter Lilah and son Collyn. Went next-door to Dollar Tree for cookie bags and candy canes.

Put on the Peanuts Thanksgiving specials when I got in. In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Peppermint Patty invites herself, Marcie, and Franklin over to Charlie Brown's house for the big meal. Trouble is, he's going to eat at his grandmother's house. Linus, Snoopy, Charlie, and Woodstock make a dinner of popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans to appease them. Patty's upset, until Linus and Marcie remind her and Charlie Brown of the real reason for the holiday.

The Peanuts take the part of The Mayflower Voyagers, playing pilgrim children and pets traveling to the New World. While the kids and animals did survive in Plymouth, their parents had a rougher go of things. Many settlers died until Squanto and the local natives taught them how to plant corn and other crops. They're so delighted with their harvest, they share what they have in the first feast of Thanksgiving.

Worked on writing for a while. Debralee is impressed with the handsome old Nutcracker Gene found in an antique shop in Burbank. Bart teases her because he can't really crack nuts anymore, but she likes him anyway.

Broke for dinner with friends at 6:30. Came back up at 7 PM. Watched Match Game '77 while I went through Christmas books for baking ideas. Conny Van Dyke may have been obnoxious, but she did get a good zinger on Dick Martin and Gene Rayburn in the opening. The others have a harder time with "__ Matter." Charles ends up in a hospital gown Conny gives him in the second episode and spent the half-hour making doctor jokes.

Finished the night online with several unique versions of The Nutcracker. I love seeing how different countries and regions adapt the story to their area. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King on Kanopy is from Denmark. Their version is set around the 1820's on St. Nicholas Day. Clara's Nutcracker Prince isn't changed back so quickly. The "Land of Sweets" is inside a steampunk camera Godfather Drosselmyer created. There's a second mouse fight in the camera, and the Mouse King's designs are truly terrifying. The Sweets dancers mostly have a Greek theme (though they do retain the Russian trepak dancers and the dancing flowers).

A Russian animation company made a half-hour animated version of The Nutcracker in 1973. I remember seeing this in elementary school, probably sometime in the late 80's, and thinking how strange it was. Here, Marie is a servant rather than one of the household children. The Nutcracker is a neglected toy, and his story is based after The Hard Nut, but with the Prince being turned into a Nutcracker in infancy rather than a bratty princess. The story ends with Marie dancing off into a psychedelic "Waltz of the Flowers" with her prince and never being seen again, which I found quite ominous as a child. (Though the version I found is dialogue-free, I remember the one at school had a male narrator. Apparently, there are at least two US versions with English-dubbed narration. We must have seen the Hans Conried one. According to Wikipedia, Shirley MacLaine narrated a later dubbing.)

Even Hello Kitty played Clara in an animated Nutcracker from her 90's show. Her version follows The Hard Nut, complete with the cursed princess who rejects the Nutcracker after he in turn is cursed by the evil Mouse Queen. Here, she defeats the seven-headed Mouse King with a magical amulet, rather than by throwing her shoe at him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Pick Yourself Up

Got a late start today. In fact, it was so late, it was noon before I had breakfast. Watched Match Game '75 as I ate. The first episode started with the hilarious week featuring Bill Macy, then of Maude. Charles and Brett really lay into each other in the first episode, teasing each other about their answers even more than usual, while Brett makes an early joke about her and Gene going to Encino. (They didn't.)

For some reason, Buzzr skipped way ahead to more than two weeks later...but the episode was one of the funniest of the year, so I didn't mind too much. For possibly the only time in the entire series, Gene went casual in a blue jacket and turtleneck in this show. Sarah Kennedy and Bobby Van watched as Betty White rolled up Gene's pant legs, revealing nifty argyle socks...and then a lady in the audience wants them. Richard has to get Gene back into his suede shoes. 

Headed out shortly after the episode ended. I wanted to do some Christmas shopping at Audubon Crossings behind the Acme...but I rode by Desserts By Design and saw their window open. I hadn't talked to the lady who works there in ages. I bought a yellow cupcake with pumpkin spice whipped topping while she took customers. After they left, I explained everything that had happened to me for the past two years with trying to find a job and a home, and all the disasters from last fall and winter. She recommended looking for a condo in Voorhees. I don't know. It's expensive, and a lot of it is in the middle of nowhere. Still worth trying, though. I know they have a nice library. 

Spent the next hour and a half in and out of stores. The zipper on my purse broke while I was rooting around for my wallet at Desserts By Design. I bought a new one at Marshalls, a really nice one that's a bit bigger than my old one. It actually looks like the wallet I bought last year, with the same leather woven design, only in dark brown...and it has metal zippers. I just tossed the other one...and hurried on after I witnessed two young adult men being thrown out of Marshalls when they attempted shoplifting. 

Found nothing at Ross, but I did find some small gifts at Marshalls and Five Below for Lauren, Amanda, and the daughter of a friend. Picked up my annual advent calendar with the chocolates at Five Below, too. (I haven't seen them at the Acme this year.) Made two awesome record finds at Goodwill, the soundtrack from the Disney movie Summer Magic and the 9-disc record set Reader's Digest's Treasury of Great Operettas. I have a later version of this on CD from 1994, but this one has some shows that set doesn't, including Die Fledermaus, A Waltz Dream, and Mlle Modiste. (And the records were half-price, thanks to them having green tags. Summer Magic dropped to $1.25, the operetta set to $2.49.)

Went across the parking lot for lunch. Tu Se Bella's has the best pizza in the area. Given it was past 3 PM by that point, they weren't busy at all. An older couple ordered sandwiches and panzarotti (and changed their order at least once), and a family waited for sandwiches. Other than that, I enjoyed my slice of cheese, slice of broccoli and shrimp, and bottle of Diet Coke and ignored the dull and silly talk show on the TV over the coolers.

GameStop is next door to Tu Se Bella's. I wanted to find a gift for my 18-year-old nephew Skylar. He'll need something fun to keep his mind off his damaged foot this winter, poor guy. Bought him a long X-Box game and saw something I thought I might get for Lauren. (Amazon had a better price on it later.)

Went straight home after I got out of GameStop. I didn't like the look of the weather. It had been damp, chilly, and cloudy all day. It rained a little bit while I rooted around in Goodwill, but nothing heavy. Thankfully, the real rain held off until I had long gotten home and had taken my laundry downstairs. It's been raining off and on, sometimes heavily, ever since. (And we're one of the lucky ones. A lot of places got snow, including Pittsfield.)

Did some writing after I got my laundry in the washer. Ira Skutch, the Match Game producer, whines about there being mice seen in the area. It's a male and a female, and he's afraid they'll mate and make a whole army of rodents. Announcer Johnny Olsen gently reminds him that he doesn't have to control everything and encourages him to join the others and open his present.

Debralee is delighted to get the largest gift from Gene Rayburn. It's a beautiful hand-carved nutcracker. Gene explains he found it in an old-world gift shop in Cape Cod and thought someone should have it. He even repaired it to actually crack nuts. Bart calls it ugly, but Debralee loves it. 

Broke at 7 for dinner and Match Game '77. Hans Conried finishes out his only week on the show, which is a bit disappointing given he did very well and seemed to enjoy himself. Richard doesn't do as well with "__ Knight" in the Audience Match. 

Continued on with Match Game as I ate dessert and got my laundry out of the dryer. Dick Martin returns the next week, along with supremely sarcastic Conny Van Dyke. Dick actually gets a match for once with the first question about what's under Billy Carter's mattress. Richard is still out of luck with "__ Pizza" on the Head-to-Head.

Finished up the night with Swing Time at Amazon Prime. I go further into one of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' best films and my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

A Cold Day In New Jersey

Began a cold, clear morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Daniel says "Thank You, Grandpere!" when he comes for a visit. Daniel wishes he could go with them to the Thank You Day party at the Enchanted Garden, but he gets a big surprise when his family arrives. Daniel can't figure out who to make a "Neighborhood Thank You Day" card for to hang on the Thank You Tree...but then Mr. McFeely saves the cards when the wind blows them off the tree.

Worked on writing for the next hour and a half. Once big Jim Staal arrives, the others are ready to give out their Christmas gifts. Everyone chose someone to give a present to. Debralee's delighted when she gets the largest package from Gene - a beautiful hand-carved nutcracker from Cape Cod. 

Broke for lunch at 1 PM. Watched the other Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Thanksgiving episode while I ate. Daniel's elated that it's "Margaret's First Thank-You Day," and she'll get to hang the first Thank You Card on the tree. Poor Margaret gets sick and ends up being taken home early. Her big brother misses her and decides he'd rather spend the day with his beloved little sister.

Headed out to work after the cartoon ended. Spent the entire night in a register. We were off-and-on busy, sometimes without much help early in the evening. Other than that, there were no problems. They closed the self-checkout registers so the teen girl who ran that could come in for me. 

Went straight into dinner and Match Game '77 when I got home. Hans Conried and Sarah Kennedy get to see Gene doing his idea of a gangster imitation in his opening. Later on, Johnny Olsen comes over for kisses from Betty and Brett after Brett insulted him for messing up what show Betty's on now. The champ has less luck trying to figure out what song Sammy the Songwriter wrote that was like "Home on the Range."

Finished the night online with Thanksgiving episodes. The Love Boat did one in its sixth season, with everyone boarding for a Mexican cruise with a big Thanksgiving dinner at the end. "Love Will Find a Way" for a woman (Wendy Schaal) who is engaged to a paraplegic man (Jim Knaub), though her parents (Lorne Greene and Dorothy McGuire) don't approve at first. A boy has "Too Many Dads" when he escapes onboard with his stepfather (Richard Hatch), only for his birth father (Michael Lembeck) to arrive and try to claim him. Even "The Best of Friends" fight, as the crew of the Pacific Princess discover when Gopher, Julie, Doc, and Issac get into arguments and stop speaking to one another. 

The A-Team is probably the last show you'd think of in conjunction with Thanksgiving, but apparently they did celebrate the holiday in their last season. They're hired to help a sick former political advisor hold a "Family Reunion" with his daughter in exchange for a diary that will condemn his partner and reveal his part in political crimes. First, his daughter is kidnapped by her father's enemies, then wants nothing to do with him. Murdock finds himself in a dilemma when it turns out that the man's daughter isn't the only child he ran out on him...and that may have implications for Face, too. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Kissing Bandit, the Feud, and the Matches

Started off the morning with breakfast and the 1997 Broadway revival of 1776. This was a surprise hit that ran a year, and I can hear why. Bret Spiner is a dynamic and full-throttled John Adams; Linda Emond is also excellent as his sensible wife Abigail. Their "'Till Then" is a pleasure. I also like "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve," and Gregg Edelman roars an especially strong "Molasses to Rum." 

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning. Ira has his reasons for turning up at the party, and it's not entirely getting Bart out of the hallway. Someone spied mice in the hall, a big fat female and male mouse, and he's worried they may have shown up at the party. No one's seen any mice, and Gene says he'll keep an eye on their cheese.

Broke just in time to rush to work. Spent most of the afternoon in a register. We were off-and-on busy, often with long lines and  no help. It could have been worse. We're lucky the Eagles play tomorrow night. They actually pulled me to push carts for a half-hour at one point. The afternoon bagger never called or came in. At least the weather was decent. Cold and blustery, but also sunny, and a lot closer to normal for the season than it has been. 

Many of my customers weren't nearly that pleasant. One woman kept giving me a hard time about prices, fussing over every clearance item she bought. She kept claiming the 50% off manager's coupons on the meat hadn't taken the right price off, though it did. I sent her to customer service, so they could tell her the same thing. Another woman threw a fit because she didn't understand about our rewards program. I didn't explain it well enough. 

Needless to say, I rushed home after that. Had dinner while listening to the soundtrack from Snow White and the Three Stooges. Many Stooge fans find this charming figure skating fairy tale to be too sweet and lacking in slapstick, but I think it's adorable. Some of the songs aren't bad, either. Snow's (Carol Heiss) wistful ballad "Happiness" is lovely, and Mel Blanc as the ventriloquist's dummy Quinto gets "I'm In Love" after his human Quatro (Edson Stoll) falls for her. There's also a song for the Stooges on the first side I suspect may have been recorded but not used, as they didn't sing in the film.

Finished the night online with a tribute to Richard Dawson. Dawson started out as a comedian in his native England before coming over to the US in the early 60's. He bounced around in a few shows before joining the cast of Hogan's Heroes in 1966 as the show's wisecracking British prisoner and thief. 

His real metier, though, was game shows. Sadly, most of his earliest game show appearances, including as a judge for the music show Juke Box Jury in England, were lost to the ravages of time and tape erasure. Started off with the short-lived 1970 revival of the comedy show Can You Top This? Dawson joins fellow hams Morey Amsterdam, Jack Carter, and Paul Winchell and his dummies to see if they can top jokes sent in by viewers. Wink Martindale keeps the proceedings moving.

Goodson-Todman were impressed by his wit there and in several unused pilots and brought him in for another short-lived revival, this of I've Got a Secret in syndication from 1972. Richard was a regular panelist, and he really livened up the show with his wit and joking around. While his reaction to the first lady is pretty funny, the real reason I went with this one is the bit of video game history Rod Serling shows off to host Steve Allen near the end of the program.

That led Richard to appearing on a far longer-lasting revival. He became one of the three main regulars for the smash 1973 Match Game, and the only one to be there from the beginning. His suave charm and sly humor contrasted nicely with crusty Brett Somers and fussy Charles Nelson Reilly. At least in its early years, he could be counted on to throw out a joke...but his answers were just as often right, as in the infamous "trench hand" daytime episode from 1975, and the "burns & cuts" nighttime syndicated episode from later that year. Host Gene Rayburn never grasped that you don't bet against Richard, especially in the Audience Match!

Even as Match Game picked up steam, he got his first national hosting gig with the 1974 revival of the 50's show Masquerade Party. In this early non-singing Masked Singer, a celebrity panel has to guess who is dressed up as a character in makeup and a costume. (And interestingly, Reilly also turned up in the one episode currently available online.) 

Undaunted by the failure of Masquerade Party, Richard begged for another chance to host. His agent even threatened to have him withhold his jokes on Match Game if he didn't get one. He finally got it with Family Feud in 1976. We get to see the pilot here, with a far more cramped set but an assured and polished Richard.

Richard didn't start infamously kissing the female contestants until later in the run. He claimed he did that to make them feel more at ease. This was controversial even then, with many people calling him on it. It didn't help his raging ego, which had gotten worse when the show became popular. He finally dropped out of Match Game in 1978 after much bitterness to focus on Feud...and proceeded to anger the producer there, too. 

He did better on other people's shows. One of the few remaining episodes of Password All-Stars from 1975 is the finale of the celebrity championship. Richard plays against Betty White, Hal Linden, and Bill Bixby in four rounds. He proved to be just as good coming up with words as he was with matching them. Check out everyone's words (and tones of voice) for "Hallelujah!" 

The celebrity gossip show Tattletales had Richard, Bob Barker, and Jack Nartz appear with their significant others for a week in 1976. Each man took over hosting the show for a day so actual host Bert Convy could play with his wife Ann. Richard actually did very well, especially with the ladies' questions!

After Feud ratings declined in the early 90's, they brought Richard back to help revive the show in 1994. This may have been a nice gesture, but it didn't really work. The show had gone through several changes by that point that added unnecessary elements to the game, including being expanded to an hour. Richard himself hadn't hosted or done much of anything besides help take care of his new daughter for years, and he wasn't nearly as sharp as he had been. Richard's return didn't really help a whole lot, and Feud finally ended its years on network TV in 1995.

Let's play the Feud and match wits and answers with everyone's favorite English charmer! (Thanks to Wink Martindale for Masquerade Party. Can You Top This? is in two parts, and that and Masquerade Party have numbers on the screen, but they're the only episodes known to exist. Look for the original commercials and the ones from their Game Show Network runs on Password All-Stars, Can You Top This?, and the 1994 Family Feud!)

Saturday, November 12, 2022

In the Fall Sunshine

Overslept and got a quick start with breakfast and Charlie & Lola. "I'm Far Too Extremely Busy" says Lola when she pretends to be a secretary for a mermaid, waitress for very hungry people, and a dentist for her imaginary friend Soren Lorenson. She has no time to play with Lotta or play Charlie's new card game Flip Flop. Once he starts playing with Marv and she sees how much fun it is, she may be able to fit it in her schedule after all...

Rushed out after Lola ended and got in at the last second. Turned out to be a moot point anyway. They had me bagging again. I did end up gathering the outside trash a bit later and swept the store a few times, but I spent most of the afternoon outside, pushing carts. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. If it weren't for a few puddles scattered over the parking lot, you'd never know we had a hurricane yesterday. The clouds vanished, the sun came out, the wind died down, and it became a warm, breezy autumn day.

Finally remembered to write down my schedule. On one hand, not bad. Two days off in a row, Tuesday and Wednesday, and my one early day on Thursday is only 4 hours. However, I also have two late days, and having two days off in a row usually means I'm about to work a week straight. 

Went straight into dinner and Garfield's Thanksgiving when I got home. Garfield is horrified when Liz the Veterinarian puts him on a diet the day before the holiday, and then Jon invites her to dinner. Worse yet, Jon is hopeless at cooking anything more complicated than lasagna. Good thing Grandma from the Christmas special knows how to make everything right.

Switched to Match Game PM on Buzzr during dessert. The first episode was the only PM show to be announced by Bern Bennett, subbing for an on-vacation Johnny Olsen. Bass-voiced Joe Silver and Good Times matriarch Esther Rolle join in as Richard explains why he attended a feminist rally and Fannie tried to help the contestant with "Karl __" in the end. 

The second episode was the nighttime show for the Julie London/Ed Asner week. As much as I like Julie with her husband Bobby Troupe on Tattletales (and enjoy some of her albums), I think she's a little too shy for the uninhibited Match Game. Ed Asner seemed slightly more at home (at least as much as he ever was), even if he never did play well. They seem to do a little bit better with "Wheel of __" on the Audience Match. (The bottom answer will mean a little more the year after this, when a certain Merv Griffin game show got going on NBC...)

Finished the night on Tubi with the Australian live action-animated hybrid Dot and the Kangaroo. I go further into this old childhood favorite at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

(Oh, and clouds moved in even as I rode home, though thankfully, the rain waited to arrive until very early morning.)