Saturday, December 31, 2022

A Foggy New Year

Began the last day of 2022 with breakfast and episodes of Arthur on PBS Kids. "Arthur's Sleepover" with his friends Buster and the Brain is already shaping up to be exciting. It's their first time sleeping outside, and there's talk of UFO sightings in the area. Arthur's little sister DW wants to photograph an alien, but Arthur just wants to keep her out. He initially claims he doesn't want to stay up for "Arthur's New Year's Eve," until his friends tell him all the cool things that happen at midnight. Grandma Thora reminds him that what's really important is reflecting on the year before and hoping for a better one ahead.

Grabbed my raincoat around 1 PM and headed out to run errands. I awoke this morning to fog so heavy, I could have reached out and cut it with a knife. While not quite that thick by then, it was still very heavy and damp as I made my way to Dollar General. I wanted snacks for New Year's Eve. Picked up original Sun Chips. I haven't had those in years. They had a few bottles of that Mountain Dew Fruit Quake left, too, so I thought I'd try that. To my surprise, it wasn't bad. It didn't taste like fruitcake. It tasted (and looked) like grape-raspberry soda. 

I originally intended to get a soft pretzel or two from the store two blocks from Dollar General on the White Horse Pike. I had no idea they were closing early for New Year's Eve. I walked in just as they were shutting down. To make up for it, they gave me the rest of their inventory. I kept three soft pretzels and gave two to the daughter of a friend and her best friend for their sleepover.

On my way home, I saw a house with furniture sitting in front of it. Among the items were a slightly spindly white mesh and metal shelf with slide drawers. It would be perfect to hold snack food in my room. My snacks were previously in two soft coolers that looked clunky and took up way too much room. 

Wiped down the shelves when I got home, then loaded the food into them. That went so well, I opened the box of bathroom supplies I got from the storage unit and reorganized the narrow closet that held odds and ends. Some of the things that didn't stay in the closet went into plastic bins. Others went downstairs. 

Watched Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! while I worked. Chuck's stuck spending his New Year's reading War and Peace for a book report. Peppermint Patty invites him to her New Year's party, but he'd rather invite the Little Red Haired Girl. Lucy wishes Schroeder would invite her, and Sally's waiting (and waiting) for Linus to ask her.

Switched to Rudolph's Shiny New Year as I finished up and had lunch. I went further into Rankin-Bass's only New Year's special at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog entry for New Year's Eve 2019. 

Went online to do some writing and watch A Very Merry Pooh Year on Disney Plus. I go further into this hybrid of an original New Year's short featuring the Hundred Acre Woods gang and the 1991 Christmas special at Musical Dreams Reviews. 

Broke at 7 for dinner. Watched Laverne & Shirley while I ate. "New Year's Eve - 1960" is shaping up to be a great one for the girls. Shirley's going to her big party with Carmine, and Laverne's going with the guy of her dreams. To her disappointment, he ends up back with his girlfriend right before midnight. Shirley, who's coming down with a cold, manages to comfort her best friend in time to watch Lenny drop Squiggy instead of the ball.

Did a few cartoons as I cleaned up and got organized. Bluto and Olive say "Let's Celebrake" when they go out for New Year's Eve, but Popeye insists on bringing Olive's grandma, too. A little spinach gives Granny enough pep to take part in the big New Year's dance contest with Popeye. A jealous Bluto disrupts Popeye and Olive's act in "Morning, Noon, and Nightclub." Popeye finds a way to turn the tables on him. 

(And boy, am I glad I wasn't in New York. It started to pour around 5 or 6 PM and has been raining, sometimes hard, off and on ever since.)

Finished the night on YouTube with Match Game Production's Match Game New Year's Eve marathon. Every year during the 70's run of the show, Match Game did an episode celebrating New Year's and the arrival of a new number in the logo. In 1975, Charles popped a huge 1975 balloon, revealing a smaller one for 1976. A very ugly paper mache bird swooped down and dropped a '77 egg into Charles waiting arms in 1976 before boss Mark Goodson came down to praise the job they were doing. The streamers and balloons came down first in '77. Charles, Brett, and Gene celebrated their new, easier-to-change sign in 1978 by breaking bottles over it before Gene passed out from the excitement.

1979 was the last year for the original show on CBS; there would be no New Year's shows in syndication. They didn't celebrate New Year's Eve again until Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour in 1983. Even then, this was limited to comedian Gallagher playing with balloons during the Leave It To Beaver theme week. As they did with other holidays, Match Game '90 got more into it. Not only did they have balloons and streamers, but everyone dressed in gowns and tuxes. Brad Garrett did a dead-on imitation of Charles Nelson Reilly, who was on vacation at that point.

No game show does New Year's like Match Game! Celebrate the start of the year with these hilarious episodes!

The marathon ended literally as I heard booms going off behind me and a Mummers group practicing down the street. Snuck in one last Match Game episode before the night ended. Charles Nelson Reilly introduced the series finale of the 1979-1982 syndicated run during a New Year's marathon in 1999. The episode in and of itself is funny as heck - check out Charles and his "chick," the dummy used to test color levels, in the beginning, or the contestant who wants to kiss McLean Stevenson...and really plants one on him when she does so! As Brett points out, McLean's blushing when she's done. It prompts Skip Stevenson to run over and kiss the other contestant, too!

And I hope all of you have a safe and happy 2023, with all the people you love to match with! 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Winter Was Very Warm

Started off the day with breakfast and Match Game '76. Dick Martin was happy to begin the first episode of the New Year with his first match ever on a question about what the cannibal ate at the new restaurant. Richard kicked off his year by helping a contestant with "Teacher's __" on the Head-to-Head.

Headed off on the bike this time after the show ended...and went right back in when I realized how warm it was. It must have been in the upper 50's-lower 60's, too warm for my heavy winter jacket. I traded it for my thick blue hoodie. While the sun shown down and the sky was a baby blue, there was a bit of a chilly breeze coming off the lake. 

Wanted to do one last trip to Collingswood and Westmont of the year. Started with Occasionette, the gift shop on Haddon Avenue. Like The Whale's Tale in Cape May, they specialize in fancy stationary, handmade items, and unique finds. I loved the little stuffed snowmen in the bright hats and scarves with strings to hang on doors. They hang on my doors all winter after the holidays. Found gorgeous cards with Art Deco and Art Noveau prints. Went with a simple "Very Merry Christmas" over a lovely green and white Art Noveau mistletoe design. 

I've wanted one of those ceramic light-up trees that were popular in the 50's and 60's for years. Trouble is, not only do they tend to be expensive, but I don't have the room for the larger ones. Occasionette had mini ceramic trees you pressed a switch to light. I chose the dark green one with the snow-frosted branches. (They also had plain white and bright green.)

After a brief peek in a busy Haddon Culinary, I strolled back across the street to Innergroove Records. They were busy too, mostly too busy to be spending an hour going through every dollar shelf. Once again, my best find came from the kids' section. I dug out a British two-disc release of music from Disney productions. Along with songs from English Disney movies like Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins, there were several tunes, like "Maggie's Theme" and "It's Whatcha Do With Whatcha Got," I didn't recognize. I also found An Evening With Lerner and Lowe, a collection of songs from My Fair Lady, Gigi, Paint Your Wagon, and Brigadoon performed by opera singers, and for some reason, Phil Harris. 

Cut across the parking lots behind Haddon Avenue and down Atlantic Avenue to avoid the rush-hour traffic. Parked behind Phidelity Records next. I did even better there than back at Innergroove, and they were just as busy. Picked up the DVDs for Necessary Roughness, Shadow of the Thin Man, and a collection of three Tom Hanks comedies from the 80's. (I'm not a fan of The Money Trap, but I do like The 'Burbs and Dragnet.) 

I don't know how I keep running into English cast albums on this side of the Atlantic, but my big find here was the 1972 London cast recording for a musical version of Trewlawny of the Wells called Trewlawny. I also picked up the cast album for Barnum, which I've wanted for ages. And they both ended up being a dollar each, too!

Went a block down to the Venezuelan restaurant Que Ricas for lunch. This being past 3 PM, there was only one other person eating there. I had a tasty Harvest Empanada with black beans, sweet potato, and kale. Yumm. Other than it being fried, it was good and good for you. Had it with a can of Diet Coke.

I hadn't treated myself to a water ice from Primo's in ages. Despite the nice day and the kids being off of school, they were also empty when I arrived. I went with their cream water ice Oreo Cookie Dough in a small cup. It's what it sounds like, crushed Oreos and cookie dough bits in vanilla water ice. Very sweet, but very tasty. 

Stopped at the Walgreens on the corner next. I hoped to avoid a trip to Acme at rush hour for sparkling grape juice. Yes, they did have it. Picked up a Pineapple Perrier for the way home and a half-price box of mini peppermint patties, too.

Took the long way home through Collingswood and across Newton Lake Park to avoid the traffic. Even there, I ran into traffic, dodging several kids on bikes. To give you an idea of how cold it got here last week, the Lake is STILL frozen solid, even after the relatively warm weather we've had the last few days. The setting sun gave it a frosty bottle green glow as I made my way up to the White Horse Pike.

Went straight into writing after I got home and put everything away. Ira finally takes away his mother with their followers, vowing revenge on the Nutcracker's king and on Debralee. Bill Daily - Major Mint - is scared. Debralee isn't. He's just a mouse, after all. This version isn't even really her boss.

Listened to my new Disney collection while I worked. Turns out 'Whatcha Do With Whatcha Got" is from the live-action-animated hybrid So Dear to My Heart, as are "County Fair" and "Stick-It-Tivity." The actual title of "Maggie's Theme" is "For Now, For Always," and it's the love theme from the original Parent Trap. This also includes all of the songs from The Rescuers; it must have been the most recent Disney movie at the time the record came out. I've always had a soft spot for the breathy ballad "Tomorrow Is Another Day," which was nominated for an Oscar in 1977. 

Broke for dinner at 7. Watched the New Year's episode of the original Odd Couple on Paramount Plus    while I ate leftovers. It's "A Night to Disremember" for Oscar Madison and his ex-wife Blanche, who broke up during their New Year's party. As it turns out, each remembers how it happened very differently...and of course, Felix has his own (semi-accurate) version.

Finished the night online after a shower with more New Year's shows. In the first season of The Donna Reed Show, Donna tells her nervous teenage daughter Mary to "Have Fun" on her big date with a cute, intelligent young man (George Hamilton). Mary comes home in tears shortly after, insisting that her life is over. Donna and her husband Alex recount their own disastrous first date on New Year's Eve...but like Oscar and Blanche, they have differing accounts of what really happened. 

It's "A War for All Seasons" during the 9th season of MASH, as each member of the 4077th celebrates the holiday by paging through a much-mauled Sears-Roebuck catalog. It allows Father Mulcahey to start a garden, Hunnicut and Hawkeye to buy a washtub for a liver transfer, and helps Hot Lips with her ever-evolving knitting project. Meanwhile, Winchester puts money down on the Dodgers when he sees Klinger winning on them, but things don't go as well as either hoped.

Lawrence Welk and his musical family had a lot more fun at their New Year's parties. The show in 1973 started with "Let's Start the New Year Right" at a party onstage. '74 started with "Happy Days are Here Again," the latter performed with the chorus and a really flying Arthur Duncan. Bobby Burgess and his partners Cissy King in '73 and Elaine Niverson in '80 had fun with their relaxed "When the Saints Go Marching In." The 1974 episode also featured The Semonski Sisters, nervous in their second appearance, performing a rousing "My Melody of Love," but they really got into it by the end. Gail Russell and Larry Hooper do a hilarious "Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee" in '74. 

The 70's episodes featured a dance party featuring the entire cast and audience. Everyone did jigs and square dances to Irish folk music in '73. A real Polish polka dance team joined in for "Beer Barrel Polka" in '74. Welk even danced with the youngest Semonski sister. The big event for the 1980 show was the introduction of the Rose Bowl Parade queen and her court. The queen was a striking Hawaiian beauty, and each girl in her court was prettier than the one before. They were escorted by several male singers and younger members of the orchestra. 

Celebrate the start of a new year with Lawrence Welk and his merry musical bashes!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Mall Madness

Got a quick start slightly earlier today with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Many people clear out old things to make way for new either right before or right after Christmas. The Neighborhood of Make Believe is no exception. "Daniel's Rocking Chair" is too small for him. He has a hard time letting it go at first, until he sees how much his little sister Margaret really likes it. "Prince Wednesday Gives Away His Book" on rock crystals when he sees how much O enjoys it. 

Headed out after Daniel Tiger ended, around quarter after 11. I planned on carrying things home, so I called Uber. The gentleman arrived within 6 minutes. Took less than 10 to ride in a straight line down the White Horse Pike to Barrington.

I enjoyed my birthday trip to the Barrington Antique Center and Deptford Mall so much, I decided to repeat it. The Barrington Antique Center is a huge old house stuffed full of every bit of vintage bric-a-brac in existence, from genuine antique china and glassware to DVDs from two or three years ago. Unlike my birthday visit, I didn't see anything I couldn't live without and walked out with nothing.

Picked up the largely empty bus about a block from the Antique Center in front of the Old Rail Tavern, taking it to the Deptford Mall. It lets you off right around the corner from Red Robin. Thought that would be a great place for lunch, but...the line was literally out the door. The college kid host said it would be a 20-30 minute wait. I decided I'd wait on lunch instead.

Since Boscov's is two doors down from Red Robin, I started there by default. I love Boscov's. They're a real old-fashioned department store, with a candy counter and a toy section and a furniture section. Stuck to the clothes upstairs this time. They also are the only department store I've ever seen with a Plus section for Juniors. I found a nice teal sweater from the regular adult Plus and two cute t-shirts from the Juniors, one in a bright blue, one bright red with the Cherry Coke logo on it. All three came to $35, with the sweater being $20.

Peeked at FYE twice, once right after Boscov's, and again shortly before I left. They have some DVDs and records, but not to the degree of larger stores. Considered the sets for the last season of Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Stars, but decided to see if I could find them cheaper on Amazon. 

Hit Round 1 Entertainment next. This is the combination arcade/bowling alley/bar on the other side of the mall from Boscov's. They still haven't fixed the skee ball machines, but I had a great time with everything else, including giant versions of Pac Man, Space Invaders, and Bust-a-Move. I actually got the most points on a game where you pull back a big ball lever as hard as you can to send a ball down a track. What points you get depends on how far the ball goes and where it stops. I hit the jackpot the first time, getting 500 points! Did pretty well with the bean bag toss and the spin-the-pirate-wheel game, too. 

I got so many points, I picked up a medium-sized Beanie Baby dragon named Grindel with a gold horn, soft ebony fur, and glittering scarlet wings at the counter and only used half of them. I also finally, after over a year of trying, won a stuffed toy from a Round 1 crane, a small stuffed Luna from Sailor Moon. And I had to play that three times before I got the cat to stay in the claw!

Since it's pretty close to Round 1, I hit Macy's next. They were a little picked-over, but I did manage to come up with a pair of cocoa brown jeans, a long-sleeved henley shirt with the same maroon flower print I found on a short-sleeved blouse in Albany, and a white button-down shirt for when Abilities Solutions finally starts getting me to do interviews. Their sales weren't quite as good as some of the others I've run into over the last few days. Mom's gift card covered the jeans and the henley. I bought the button-down shirt.

Peeked briefly around Box Lunch and Hot Topic next, but by then, it was past 3:30. Went back to Red Robin to see what the line was like. Thankfully, by that point, it was gone. Since it was so late, I just had a tasty if messy Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Sandwich with pineapple rings, lettuce, and tomato, and their thick steak fries with an unsweetened iced tea.

On my way to Macy's, I noticed a booth for Hershey's Ice Cream. I've seen them around, but I've never tried their wares. They had a couple of really nifty-looking flavors. I dodged a large family looking for treats long enough to order two scoops of banana pudding - banana ice cream with crumbled vanilla wafer cookies and marshmallow swirls. Oooh, yum! Very sweet and very banana. The crumbled cookies added just the right crunch. 

Unfortunately, all the tables around Hershey's and Starbucks were taken. After buying a Diet Dr. Pepper from a nifty soda vending machine that dropped the soda into a plastic holder, I opted to take the elevator upstairs with my ice cream to save my feet. Three pre-teen boys standing with me weren't nearly so patient. They kept yelling at the elevator and shoving at the door, even though it didn't really take that long to come. Once we finally got upstairs, they gave each other piggy-back rides down the corridor. 

By the time I emerged from my second trip to FYE, I was dead tired. Time to go home. Called Uber to take me straight to the house. They took 16 minutes to arrive, but it was also a little after 5 PM, the height of rush hour. It took them a little over 20 minutes after that, dodging traffic on the Expressway.

Worked on writing for a bit after I put everything away. The Mouse King vows revenge on the Nutcracker for killing his mother. The Nutcracker demands that he restore the Princess, but he reminds him that the conditions of the curse haven't been met yet.

I had such a late lunch that I didn't break for dinner until past 7. Ate while watching Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration on Disney Plus. I go further into Disney's second live action-animated hybrid stage show at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Finished the night with The Love Boat on Paramount Plus. The Pacific Princess goes to the dogs during their 90 minute "Dog Show Cruise" in season 6. Dog owners hoping to win a $10,000 prize take their talented pooches to Acapulco to show them off. The wealthy owner of the dog food company sponsoring the show (Gordon Jump) assigns a mail room clerk (Ray Buktenica) to explain that he'll be late in joining the cruise. The crew thinks he's his boss and give him his stateroom. He's thrilled to take his boss' responsibilities, until first he falls for a gorgeous passenger (Heather Thomas), then his boss' wife (Jo Ann Worley) arrives. 

Issac and Gopher buy a dog for 8 dollars, but sell her to Vicki when they can't train her. Vicki turns out to have no trouble.  Issac's Aunt Tanya (Isobel Sanford) treats the tiny dog she bought like her own child, neglecting her husband (Mel Stewart) in the process. A woman (Catherine Bach) and a man (Dirk Bennedict) argue over a dog she lost that he took in. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Better Shop Around

Once again, I slept in and read short stories in bed until nearly 12:30. Watched Match Game '75 while eating a quick, small breakfast. Character actress Pat Crowley marks her only week on the show and gets a welcoming kiss from Gene. Joyce Bulifant has some very unique answers, including what Dr. Welby's second job is.

Headed out around quarter after one. Figured since I got a late start, I'd take Uber. They showed up in less than 7 minutes, though I'm not sure why they stopped by the wrong house. I had to dash across the street. No problems after that. There was no traffic, and we arrived at the Lands End in Cherry Hill within 10 minutes.

Lands End must have just restocked. They had piles of great after-holiday sales. They were also busy, but not elbow-to-elbow like some other stores in the mall. I had plenty of room to go over long-sleeved t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, and jeans in the plus-sized area. Ended up with a t-shirt in a pretty pink and green paisley print, indigo blue jeans, and a plain white mock turtleneck. I didn't realize that even at half-price, the jeans and t-shirt were $40 each! The t-shirt was one of their fancy expensive cotton brands. It came up to over $100. Well, you get what you pay for with Lands End. Some of their clothes I've owned lasted literally decades...but I'll be more careful the next time I buy from them.

Stopped at Hallmark next. I mainly wanted a birthday card for my niece Lilah, who turns 8 next month. Ended up picking up a pretty, simple box of Christmas cards half-price with the words "Merry and Bright" in script surrounded by simple holly and evergreens, too.

Made my way down to Panera Bread for a bigger lunch next. Even at 2 PM, they still had a full dining area and long lines. I ordered a bowl of French onion soup, a crusty roll, and half of a chicken salad sandwich with sliced grapes anyway. It took them forever to put it out. I mistook someone else's food for mine briefly. I was so embarrassed! It's probably a good thing I ended up taking a table in the very back, in the corner next to the windows looking out over Route 70 and the parking lot. At least the sandwich was perfectly sweet-salty and the soup was nice and hearty.

Hiked around the corner, past the back of Wegman's, and down to Barnes & Noble. They were also very busy, with lots of people sitting on the floor reading books and tons of kids in the children's area, looking for things to read and new toys to play with over Christmas break. I eventually ended up with what's currently the last book in the Shady Hollow animal-based cozy mystery series Mirror Lake and the original LP cast album for the recent Broadway version of Tootsie (the latter half-price). 

I had originally planned on checking out TJ Maxx and the Gap too, but between it being past 4 PM by the time I got out and spending so much at Lands End, I limited my last trip to the Trader Joe's on the very end of the mall next to TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. Boy, were they a mess. Lines down the aisles in that little store and wall-to-wall people. Now I'm really glad I took the week off. Dodged people long enough to pick up boxes of peanut butter and jelly and cocoa-almond butter bars, blood oranges, cranberry-white chocolate oatmeal bakery cookies, those dried orange slices I really like, salt-free creamy peanut butter, and dark-chocolate almond butter cups and strawberry sparkling water for a treat.

Since the parking lot at Trader Joe's was nearly as much of a disaster area as the inside, I strolled back to Barnes and Noble to pick up Uber. To my surprise, I got one in two seconds, and they arrived in less than a minute. I was home in less than 10, admiring a lovely pink sunset over the still-frozen Cooper River.

(At least the weather was decent for walking around an outdoor mall. We were much warmer, a more typical for late December mid-40's, with soft sunshine and no wind.)

Went straight into writing after I put everything away. The Nutcracker manages to get the Mouse Queen in the chest, thanks to Debralee distracting her by throwing her sneaker at her head. The mice are horrified and the Mouse King plots revenge, but Debralee is only happy that her new friend and Gene are all right...

Broke for dinner at 7. Watched Match Game '79 while I ate. In the first one, Fannie Flagg talks about the book she was then writing. (That book would become Coming Attractions, later known as Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, and it was Fannie's first major novel.) We also get some very funny answers to whom a super salesman sells Polygrip to. In the second, Charles is so fed up with the Star Wheel never landing on him, he tries to remove his name and star from it (and only succeeds in the former). 

Finished the night on YouTube after a shower with holiday episodes of The Patty Duke Show. In the first season episode "The Christmas Present," Cathy is looking forward to her foreign correspondent father coming home. Patty and Mr. and Mrs. Lane are horrified when they discover Cathy's father Kenneth has been jailed after taking part in a revolution in Europe and not only may not arrive, but is to be fired. No one has the heart to tell Cathy the truth. Mr. Lane tries to pass himself off as his twin brother, only for Cathy to receive the best Christmas surprise ever.

Cathy's dad may be home for New Year's, but he's also out of work. Cathy and Patty spend their "Auld Lang Syne" trying to find him another job. They hit on him writing a book about his experiences in Europe, but like many writers, he just can't get the words down. He does end up taking his old job back after the head of that revolution won't talk to anyone else but him. Cathy's sad that this does mean he'll be away...but it also means she can stay with Patty and that they "survived another one," as Patty puts it. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Tooth and Consequences

Slept in and read essays on real-life holiday history from A Treasury of Christmas Stories and the comic Christmastime, artist Sandra Boynton's spoof of holiday traditions. It was past noon when I finally got moving. Watched Match Game '75 while I had a quick breakfast and got dressed. Sweet Dorothy is finally defeated by a smart gentleman with glasses and a cheerful smile. The others help him with "Hook __" on the Audience Match, but Richard doesn't have as much luck with "Virginia __" in the Head to Head.

I headed out shortly after the episode ended. Since I wasn't sure what my mouth would be feeling like after my dental appointment, I figured I was safer going to my appointment on foot. This is a lot easier than it used to be when I lived on the other side of Oaklyn. The Westmont Plaza is now just a ten minute walk away. Besides, the weather was too pleasant to rush. Though it remained chilly (I passed one man breaking up a puddle at least two inches thick), it was also sunny and pleasant, and not bitter cold like the weekend. 

Arrived in Westmont with plenty of time to run some errands before my appointment. Needed mouthwash at Target. I could only find the gum care formula for Crest, so that's what I bought. Also picked up Target's organic fruit bars, which are a lot softer than granola bars and I figure would be easier on my teeth. 

They were just putting out the Valentine's Day decorations at Target as I walked through there. Dollar Tree had one row of Christmas decorations left amid the piles of Valentine's items. I ended up buying soap here and little brushes to use on my teeth before the appointment.

Arrived at the dentist's office ten minutes early...which proved to be a moot point. They got me in fifteen minutes late, and then they needed to take an x-ray of my broken wisdom tooth while I was standing up before they got me into the dentist's office. Actually pulling my small broken wisdom tooth took all of five seconds and didn't hurt at all. All the needles they used to numb my mouth took longer to insert and hurt a lot more. 

The office ran the Food Network TV show Chopped throughout the entire facility. I got to see the entire show. Four food truck chefs make three dishes using prescribed ingredients to win $10,000.  A New Jersey man and a guy from Brooklyn just want to prove themselves to their families. A Korean-American college-age guy wants to reopen his food truck after it burned down, while a young Thai immigrant just wants to make her mother proud. She made me proud. I knew the moment I saw her yummy-looking salad in the beginning she'd win. Most Thai food tends to be too spicy for my palate, but I'd down her coconut ice cream with lime mangoes in an instant. 

Went straight home after that. I had no other plans for the afternoon, so I spent the next few hours resting while watching Dick Tracy. I go further into this comic strip action film featuring Warren Beatty as the title cop and Madonna as the sultry singer who wants him in my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

(And yes, I'm aware this isn't a traditional musical. Sondheim wrote five songs for it. That's enough for me.)

Worked on writing for a while after the movie ended. The Mouse King manages to get Gene down and is about to skewer him when the Nutcracker intervenes. He won't let him hurt his friend...but the Mouse King may end up hurting him...

Broke for dinner at 7. Watched Match Game '79 while I ate. Brianne Leary finally did the cartwheels she promised earlier in the week on the first episode. The second began with Joyce Bulifant giving Jon "Bowser" Bauman a string of pearls to go with his greaser t-shirt and ended with Gene shoving his face rather scarily in front of the camera. 

Finished the night on the Roku Channel with an episode of Murder She Wrote from the fourth season. It's "Doom With a View" when Jessica's nephew Grady's apartment is suddenly fumigated. He's more than happy to accept a favor from his college buddy Garrett Harper who married a wealthy older woman and now runs a hotel. They're equally happy to catch sight of Grady's old high school crush...and just as shocked when Grady finds her dead in her hotel room. Turns out she had only an average job and could ill-afford to stay at the hotel. Jessica wonders how she'd managed it while deflecting the police from Grady, who keeps obeying odd (and occasionally illegal) requests from Garrett. 

(Oh...and my mouth is fine. It's a little sore, but nothing like when that larger broken tooth got pulled out last year. It was just a small broken wisdom tooth.) 

Monday, December 26, 2022

'Twas the Day After Christmas

Spent the first day of my actual vacation (I just took yesterday off) sleeping in. It was past 12:30 before I really got moving. Watched Match Game '75 while eating brunch. Ed Asner and singer Julie London joins in to help sweet, sobbing Dorothy figure out "Better __" in the Audience Match...but she does pretty well on her own. Charles is delighted when he comes up with the top answer, milking the audience's reaction for all it's worth. Richard has a harder time with "__ Test" in the Head-to-Head.

Switched to Charlie & Lola while making my bed and doing a few little things around my rooms. Lola's excited about her first sleepover at Lotta's, until she sees how different her nightly routine is from the one she has, and she realizes she misses Charlie. She says "I Slightly Want to Go Home," until she plays a nighttime game with Lotta that she usually does with her brother that helps relieve her homesickness.

I considered going for a walk today, since it was only cloudy. It's still cold, though, and I'd really rather save my money for trips later in the week. I puttered around online and played a few games at the Buzzr website.

Ate lunch, then rested while watching A Christmas Story. All Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) wants for Christmas 1940 is a Red Ryder BB gun "with a compass and a stock and this thing which tells time," but the universe seemingly conspires against him receiving this perfect gift. His mother (Melinda Dillon) thinks it's a bad idea. His father (Darren McGavin) seems to be too caught up in his feuds with the furnace and the next door neighbors' dogs and with his "major award" to notice anything else. Ralphie and his little brother Randy (Ian Petrella) may not survive typical childhood pitfalls like getting into fights with local bullies and their visit with an overworked Santa (Jeff Gillen) long enough to make it to Christmas Day...and even then, the holiday doesn't turn out at all like Ralphie expects.

Here's the other Christmas comedy from my childhood that's still a favorite of mine. My family played the copy we taped off HBO constantly during the holiday season long before TNT started running it during Christmas Day. There's so much I can relate to here, from parents swearing where their kids can hear to the bullying to siblings who won't eat and hide under the sink when they're upset. The Parker parents are the hilarious stand-outs, but everyone's a delight. 

Roused myself long enough to write when the movie ended. The Mouse King does manage to get Gene down after he's beset by his men. The Nutcracker will defend him, but Debralee worries it may be too much...

Broke for dinner at quarter after 7. Ate while watching Match Game '79. Gene and Bob Barker spend the first episode drooling over Brianne Leary in her newsboys cap and outfit. They're absolutely thrilled to be referred to as sex symbols! Jon "Bowser" Bauman's more interested in the poem he recites in the beginning. In the second episode, Bob mentions The Price Is Right intended to build a Showcase around Match Game, complete with Gene, Charles, and Brett. I wonder if they ever did?

Finished out the night after a shower online. Started with It's a Wonderful Life. George Bailey (James Stewart) thinks life has passed him by. He runs a savings and loan in his small town that's provided housing for half his neighbors, yet he and his wife Mary (Donna Reed) live in a ramshackle house with a big family and no money. Every opportunity he had to leave, he ended up having to stay to help someone in need, or keep the Building and Loan going, if only to keep the town from falling into the hands of nasty Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore). He's about to take his life when he thinks he's lost the money he needs to keep his business going, but he's saved by Clarence (Henry Travers), a friendly angel. Clarence finally comes up with the idea of showing George what the world would be like if he'd never been born...and it's not a pretty picture.

Your mileage may vary, depending on how you feel about director Frank Capra's pro-small town politics, but I mostly love this movie. Actually, my favorite thing about this is the host of beloved character actors having a great time with their roles, from Beluah Bondi as George's warm mother to Thomas Mitchell as forgetful Uncle Billy and Gloria Grahame as the town flirt with an unrequited crush on George. Highly recommended for fans of Reed, Stewart, or the actors involved, or those who agree with Capra's sentiments about small towns at the holiday season.

The series finale of Tiny Toon Adventures was their full-out spoof "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special." Frustrated over a series of mishaps besetting their big holiday extravaganza, Buster Bunny attempts to leap from the actual film. He's stopped by a tall white rabbit with a familiar drawl named Harvey, who shows him what Tiny Toons would have been like if he wasn't on it. (There's even a joking reference to Quantam Leap here!) 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

A Very Matching Christmas

Started off a clear, cold Christmas Day with material from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. My favorite story is "Flora McFlimsey's Christmas." Flora is a doll who has been forgotten in an attic. She manages to get downstairs to see the tree on Christmas Eve, where Santa leaves her as a gift for one of the girls in the house. The other new dolls make fun of her, but the angel on the tree and her mouse friend bring down her trunk and make her beautiful as ever. "Barney and the Wee Red Cap" is the Irish tale of a stingy man who learns about giving to the poor when he uses the title cap taken from leprechauns to avoid his needy neighbors, only to land in more trouble. A grandmother teaches her granddaughter the importance of saving when she tells her about how she always kept one coin in her special box to "call" to the others and finally spent it on "A Star For Hansi."

Mom called just as I awoke. Everyone in Virginia loved the gifts I gave them. Mom is a huge Carol Burnett fan and was delighted by the set of Carol Burnett Show episodes I sent her. My brother Keefe called out a greeting from the kitchen, too. She cut the call short - apparently, Keefe was in the midst of a "pancake crisis" - but not before she suggested Rose might be finally ready to talk to me.

After I wrote in my journal, I had a short, quick breakfast while watching Match Game '78 on Buzzr's Betty White Christmas marathon. Helaine Lembeck of Welcome Back Kotter celebrates the holiday by holding up her nails with mistletoe painted on them over her head, getting a kiss from Gene in return. Gene, meanwhile, is upset that the fly swatter he got from Betty is too full of holes to swat much of anything. 

Switched to A Charlie Brown Christmas after the episode ended. Charlie Brown is upset by all of the grab, grab around him. He's eager to direct the school Christmas pageant after Lucy suggests it to him, but not when the other kids keep turning it into a jazz concert. The girls don't appreciate the tiny tree Charlie buys to improve morale, at least until Linus makes a very famous speech on the real meaning of the holiday.

Peppermint Patty and Marcie join in for It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. Patty spends her holiday season avoiding homework, joining Marcie to see the Hallelujah Chorus, and complaining because Marcie got to be Mary in the school pageant and she's only a sheep. Meanwhile, Sally tries in vain to remember her one line. Charlie Brown sells wreaths door-to-door to earn money for a gift for the Little Red Haired Girl, and Lucy bothers Schroeder about Christmas gifts at his piano. 

Even as Christmastime Again ran, a friend called me to join her holiday celebration. I opened gifts with her, her son, his girlfriend, and her daughter. I even bought presents for their cat. Her son and his girlfriend gave me a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble. She and her daughter gave me a lighter robe to wear around the house, a much warmer hat, scarf, and gloves set than I currently own, and a darling tan teddy bear in a plaid bow named Liam. She made scrambled eggs, toast, and baked bacon for brunch, and they were delicious! (Especially the melt-in-your-mouth bacon.)

Checking my phone after breakfast revealed that Jessa hadn't texted me...but Rose had. They didn't go to Maine after all. Craig's brother and his wife just had a baby, and they didn't think it was a good time for a lot of visitors. (Not to mention, this is hardly the appropriate weather for driving up to New England.) They had no plans for the afternoon and invited me over for lunch. My friend was eating at an aunt and uncle's house, so I had no plans, either. Grabbed my coat and boots, put on my new winter accessories, and rode on over.

Rose's house was noisy but merry when I arrived. Khai and Finley are getting so big! The first thing Fin said was that she is proudly in kindergarten now. Khai's getting so tall. Rose said he excels in school, especially English, and is really getting into swimming. He's taking paleontology with a teacher who is a real paleontologist. They also have another puppy, a big frisky fellow with black and white blotches named Oreo. (Poor Mr. Fish, who was a good companion for Lynx the cat and me last Christmas, finally went to goldfish heaven last summer. A replacement goldfish apparently didn't last more than a few weeks, and they decided they had enough pets and got rid of the tank shortly after.) 

Rose was glad to hear I went to see a neuropsychologist last spring. At least I have a better idea of what's going on in my head. And while this wasn't the ideal Christmas, it certainly went a lot better than last year. Rose said I look a lot more content. I don't know about content, but at least I have a place to stay and people who are going to help me find a job, and that's more than I had this time last year.

For a small-scale Christmas, Rose had a pretty big snack spread out. I got to enjoy Triscuits, raspberries and blackberries (the kids are apparently big berry fans), cheese and salami slices, cut-out butter cookies that melted in my mouth, snickerdoodles, gingerbread cookies decorated by the kids, and foccacia bread sliced into sticks with bruchetta topping for dipping sauce. She apparently had a rough few months herself (including getting sick several times and losing two beloved pets to old age and illness), which was why she hadn't contacted me sooner. 

They did have a huge real tree this year. Probably due to the dogs, they moved the tree from the living room to the dining room. I love their ornaments. There's huge hand-print ornaments the kids made and beautiful vintage glass balls that likely belonged to Uncle Ken (including a delicate Eagles ball). There's one that looks like a trailer, and a sketch of a city landscape against a frosty blue ball. 

(Oh, and Craig was watching the Packers-Dolphins game when I was there. Packers were up as I left, and ultimately won 26-20.)

Headed out around 4:30, at sunset. Wanted to stop at WaWa to pick up dinner before the sun vanished entirely. I'd mostly ate protein and carbs today, so I went with a vegetable quesadilla and a small container of fruit. Treated myself to a very sweet and buttery Frosted Sugar Cookie Smoothie.

It remains cold here, but not bitterly so like yesterday. It's still chilly - every puddle leftover from the showers on Thursday is frozen solid - but probably in the upper 20's-lower 30's. That's balmy compared to yesterday's high of 18! Otherwise, it was a really nice day for a short bike ride. The sun was out, the sky was clear, and the wind had died down to a chilly breeze. 

Went straight into Christmas game show marathons when I got home. Match Game Productions, the owner of the channel who posts the Match Game, Password Plus, and Super Password episodes for live chats, has had "Christmas specials" marathons of Match Game, Password Plus, and the original Richard Dawson Family Feud all week. I arrived just as Family Feud's last Christmas from 1984 began. Richard lead two family through Christmas-themed survey questions, and even got serenaded by the challengers. 

Match Game did Christmas episodes from 1973 straight into 1990. Charles Nelson Reilly often played Santa Claus in their Christmas Day shows. My favorite Match Game holiday episode is from 1978. Not only did Charles dress as Santa here, but Brett Somers turned up in a pink pinafore and golden Shirley Temple ringlets as a little girl sitting on Santa's knee. One episode of the syndicated series in late 1979 ended with everyone singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for no apparent reason other than they wanted to. 

Christmas Day on Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour had a lady winning big bucks as Jon Bauman's Santa hat keeps getting passed around, cool older lady Nedra Voltz fields some pretty sexy questions, and Marty Cohen reminds everyone that Hanukkah is going on, too. Match Game '90 went as all-out on Christmas as they did on Halloween and Veteran's Day. Rip Taylor was a more-than-adequate substitute for a vacationing Charles. He got one of the funniest moments of the entire series when he yanks off his toupee and hits Fred Travalena with it for doing a bad imitation of him. Meanwhile, Marcia Wallace's bandaged cut on her finger escalates into a series of crazy injuries over the week, until by the last day, she's seen in a sling and neck brace. 

Here's all three marathons to show your family and those you love to match with!

Finished off the night with more festive episodes from other franchises. Joyce Bulifant and jolly Johnny Brown throw balls into gift boxes and slide ornaments into stockings on the 1979 Beat the Clock, beating Ronnie Schell and Joyce Bulifant. Bob Barker had no better luck on The Price Is Right in 1991. Despite giving out expensive cars and other goodies, no one won any pricing games, though someone did take home the trip-oriented Around the World Showdown. 

Things were certainly looking up on the Wink Martindale High Rollers in 1987. The champ won $10,000 with the right roll of the dice, while another gentleman picked up a vacation package. Sale of the Century also had trips to Santa Claus, Indiana as an Instant Bargain. By the time of what looked like Christmas 1988, the bonus round was "guess the subject from the clues." The lady who won messed up on the first puzzle and never really recovered. Hugh Downs led two Santas playing for charity through Christmas rebuses with an audience of children from around the world on Concentration in 1969. 

Celebrate the season with even more holiday games!

And I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, no matter where you spent it or what you celebrate!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

From All of Us to All of You

Started off a cold, clear morning after finishing the original book A Christmas Carol with breakfast and another popular holiday tale. I go further into the Rankin-Bass version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in this entry from my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog on Christmas Eve 2019. 

I checked my phone as the cartoon wound down and I got dressed. The weather app said it was 9 degrees at 8:30 AM, with a wind chill factor dipping into negatives. No doubt about it. I couldn't ride anywhere in that. I ended up calling Uber. Once again, I had an easy time getting a driver, and it went surprisingly well for the day before the biggest holiday of the year. It took me 7 minutes to get one in the morning, 14 in the evening. not bad for early in the day and at rush-hour during an Eagles game. In both cases, I got where I was going in five minutes or less.

The Acme wasn't bad, either. We were busy in the morning, but it died off early in the afternoon and remained off-and-on steady thereafter. I suspect the combination of early football and the biting chill kept a lot of people away. I got frustrated with mistakes a few times, but other than that, there were no problems. It died down enough by 5:30 for me to shut down with enough time to return some cold items before heading out.

(Wish the game went as well. The Eagles were winning at half-time, but the Cowboys made a comeback and won 40-34.)

After I got home, I had leftovers for dinner while watching the half-hour Disney special The Small One. I go further into this lovely story of a little boy and his beloved donkey friend at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Took a shower, then put on A Disney Channel Christmas. Mom recorded this blending of the older Disney specials Jiminy Cricket's Christmas and A Disney Christmas Gift in 1988, and I've watched it almost every year since. The first half does have the fall and winter fairy section of "The Nutcracker Suite" from Fantasia, but it mostly focuses on classic holiday and snow-themed shorts like "Pluto's Christmas Tree" and "The Art of Skiing." 

The second half switches gears to showcase scenes from Disney animated films involving snow, parties, or gift-giving. Peter Pan and the Darling kids soar above London, Thumper tries to teach Bambi how to ice skate, Pinocchio dances with puppets while singing "I've Got No Strings," the mice make Cinderella a ball gown, and Snow White joins the dwarfs for "The Silly Song." We get two more shorts next, Donald fighting with gifts and wrapping paper in "The Clock Watcher," and my favorite black and white short, the touching "Mickey's Good Deed." We even get the Christmas Past segment from Mickey's Christmas Carol. (Which was so new when this special came out, Jiminy says it's "now in theaters.") The finale, with Jiminy singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" sitting on a candle against a red background while surrounded by Disney characters, always leaves a lump in my throat.

Moved on to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation next. All Clark Grizwauld (Chevy Chase) wants is a "good old fashioned family Christmas" like the ones he had when he was a kid. As frequently happens in the Vacation series, what Clark imagines and what actually happens are two entirely different matters. The two sets of grandparents he invites over don't get along. His yuppie neighbors (one of which is Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are about ready to throttle him for the mess he's made in their house. His own house is so covered in lights, it shorts out the neighborhood power grid. Even when Clark does get the lights working, his cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) turns up in his rattletrap RV with his family and causes even more chaos. In the end, as the SWAT team comes through the windows and his miserly boss (Brian Doyle-Murphy) threatens to fire him, Clark finally figures out that we can't make Christmas perfect...but we can make it memorable. 

My personal favorite of the Vacation movies by a county mile, even over the original. There's a warm and fuzzy feeling here that actually works pretty well with the slapstick, and Clark's family is a riot. Some mild scatological and sexual humor makes this for pre-teens and teens who just started their own Christmas vacations and adults who have probably been through everything Clark's dealt with here.

Finished the night on YouTube with more vintage holiday fare. Lawrence Welk and his Musical Family brought their own families in for their Christmas shows. Every episode started with the cast singing "Jingle Bells" while trimming the tree and ended with Santa Claus giving all the children of the performers presents. Bobby Burgess gets a number with his partner. He and Cissy King did a lively dance to "December the 25th" from Scrooge in 1973. Elaine Niverson joined him in 1979 for a rather stiff waltz to "White Christmas." They had far more fun with "Jing a Ling, Jing a Ling" in 1981. Arthur Duncan's only number was as a toy soldier dancing to "March of the Wooden Soldiers" in '73. 

The kids had some pretty impressive numbers, too. Bobby Burgess' cutest partner was his own precious daughter Becky. They danced to "It's a Small World" in 1979 and "Up On the Housetop" in 1981, the latter with help from grandpa Myron Floren. Mini-violinist Cheryl Staples and her pianist sister Debbie were fabulous on "Jesu Bambino" in '81. Anacani helped Tanya Welk keep her toddlers around long enough to sing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in 1973. Drummer Paul Humphery's son Damian-Paul was adorable on his own mini drum set. His sister Pier did a ballet routine to "March of the Wooden Soldiers" in 1979 and an amazing acrobatic routine with some incredible back bends in '81. 

Let Lawrence Welk and his family liven up the background of your family's Christmas Eve gathering!

And here's even more vintage Christmas specials to enjoy this holiday season!

And Jiminy Cricket said it best earlier tonight. From all of us to all of you, we hope you have the very merriest of holiday seasons!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Started off the morning with breakfast and the second WKRP In Cincinnati Christmas episode from the third season. Station manager Arthur Carlson says "Bah Humbug" when he refuses to give out Christmas bonuses. Thanks to Johnny Fever's brownies, he dreams that the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jennifer), Present (Venus), and Future (Johnny) show him what will happen if he doesn't treat his employees better.

Worked on writing after that. The Mouse Queen (Jo Ann Worley) brags that she's already waylaid the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier. Gene can't take her on by himself, but the Nutcracker jumps in to help...

While it wasn't raining like it did yesterday, it still came down this morning. Between that and it getting colder tonight, I called for Uber. Considering all the trouble I had getting Uber for work a while back, I had no trouble today. Took 7 this morning and and 4 tonight; was to and from work in 5 minutes.

My first of two 8 and 1/2 hour shifts in a row largely went pretty well. We were insanely busy almost the entire afternoon, with long lines down the aisles. It got even worse in the afternoon, when we had less help. It didn't slow down until nearly 6, and even then, they had to send one of the college kids in for me so I could get out on time. 

And no wonder we did die down. It was literally freezing when I got out of work. Biting winds blasted me as I waited for the Uber driver. (No snow, though. Looks like we managed to evade the white Christmas many other parts of the US, including Lauren in Pittsfield, got, but not the frigid temperatures.)

Soon as I got home, I grabbed dinner and put on Ernest Saves Christmas. Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) is a cab driver in Orlando, Florida when he picks up a nice old man at the airport. Turns out the man is the real Santa Claus (Douglas Seale), who came to Orlando to seek a replacement. He's chosen former children's show host Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark), but Joe's sleazy agent (Robert Lesser) wants him to do a B-grade Christmas horror film. Ernest also has to deal with Harmony Starr (Noelle Parker), a selfish runaway whose constant lies hide her pain over her parents' divorce. It'll take a pinch of teamwork and a wild ride on Santa's sleigh to finally convince Harmony and Joe that Santa...and the Christmas spirit...are the real deal.

Went straight into the original animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas next. The Grinch (Boris Karloff) is a green furry miser who hates all the noise his neighbors in the valley the Who make on Christmas Day. He dresses as Santa and purloins their goodies, but even his best-laid intentions can't stop the holiday magic. It takes the Whos continuing their traditions no matter what to convince him that "Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Finished the night on Disney Plus with the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street, another movie about a Santa whom no one believes is the real thing. Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) finds Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) scolding the Santa in the Macy's Parade for getting drunk. He's so successful as a substitute Santa in the parade, she gives him the job of being the store's Santa. Trouble is, Kris keeps insisting he actually is Santa. This troubles Doris, who has raised her daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to only believe in what she can see and hear after a nasty divorce. When Kris is put on trial for lunacy, he's defended by kindly lawyer Fred Gailey (John Payne), who turns the hearing into the talk of the town...and teaches, Doris, Susan, and all of New York a lesson in faith, hope, and the true meaning of the holidays.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Playing Santa In the Rain

Started off the morning with breakfast and more Muppet Babies. Miss Nanny is missing her family on Hanukkah. The kids hold "A Mitzvah for Miss Nanny" and try to put together a party to make her feel better. Piggy wants to make a dreidel- shaped frame for her photo, but she keeps getting distracted by helping the others. Miss Nanny finally reveals how she gave the best mitzvah of all - giving her time in making sure everything went smoothly. Gonzo and Skeeter compete in the "Winter Sport-a-Thon," but Gonzo can't tie his shoelaces. He keeps tripping over them or losing his shoe, until he's finally forced to admit he hasn't learned yet. The others are more than happy to teach him.

Moved on to Garfield's Christmas Special as I cleaned up and got organized. Garfield's not thrilled when Jon drags him and Odie out to his parents' farm for the holidays. His holidays really improve when he meets Jon's sassy grandma and realizes they have a lot in common, including supreme sarcasm. Grandma is missing her beloved husband, but Garfield finds a present in the barn that makes her Christmas a lot merrier. 

I bought a glue gun from Dollar General on Tuesday. Been meaning to for years. Mom had one when we were kids, but it got too hot for her to let us touch it or use it. I've always wanted to try it. Used it to fix three ornaments yesterday and a wooden Noel sign Mom gave me years ago with a tiny Santa figure that broke off today. 

Watched Buzzr's Betty White Christmas marathon while I worked. The week before Christmas, Buzzr runs shows in the afternoon featuring Betty. Match Game '77 had Betty joining soap star Rosemary Forsyth and Broadway director and playwright Abe Burrows to figure out "Tele __" in the Audience Match. 

Match Game '78 featured the first episode from my favorite week of that year. Brett appeared with Jack Klugman for the first time since their divorce the year before. It becomes apparent why they divorced when they argue over the answer for "__ Hall of Fame" in the Audience Match. Betty and Donna Pescow referee, while Bill Anderson jokes about having his ex-wife on the show if it works out. 

Let Tattletales run while I colored a picture of Bert making gingerbread cookies for a hungry Cookie Monster in a Sesame Street coloring book I've had for years. Bill Macy and his lady Samantha and Jamie Farr and his wife Barbara join Allen and Betty here. Allen and Betty did better in the second half...but Jamie and Samantha still ended up winning the game. 

Checked YouTube for the movie I wanted to review...and when that didn't work out, I went online. Found a lovely musical version of The Gift of the Magi made for South African public television in 1981 at Vimeo. I go further into this charming production at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

I did get to see a short but sweet version of Gift of the Magi from the 1952 film O.Henry's Full House on YouTube. Jeanne Crain is Della here; Farley Granger is her Jim. Other than it's a man who cuts Della's hair, rather than the lady in the book and the 1981 musical, it's actually quite faithful to the short story. Crain in particular is lovely. 
It started raining shortly after I got up this morning and had been going ever since. By quarter of 4, the rain had begun to lighten. I was tired of sitting around, and I really had to deliver the cookies and fudge. I'm working 8 1/2 hours the next two days, and it'll be too cold by Christmas Day for a lot of running around outside. Took the bike out to hand out the goodies. Dropped Rose's bag on her steps, and the neighbors' bags on their porches or stoops. 

Truthfully, it didn't go that well. I didn't realize how wet my basket was or that the bag I had them wasn't that waterproof. A lot of them got wet. The fudge got squished, too. I put some of the neighbors' boxes with other neighbors, since I couldn't remember exactly where they lived. Others had wet stoops. I hope their boxes were all right. 

Thankfully, the precipitation gentled down to light showers while I was out. It wasn't even windy or as cold as it's supposed to be this weekend. It picked up again not long after I got home and has been off and on ever since. 

Put on White Christmas as I had a late lunch when I got home. I went further into this beloved holiday extravaganza featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog in 2018. 

Worked on writing after that. Gene confronts The Mouse Queen and her son before they can go after the food on the table. Gene reveals a sword and fights the Mouse King. The Mouse Queen still wants to kill Debralee, but the Nutcracker won't let her.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Watched Match Game '74 this time. Adorable contestant Janet Finn debuted towards the end of this episode, the first week with Dr. Joyce Brothers. She would go on to become the show's all-time winner at that point. 

Charles and Brett had a lot of fun in Match Game '79, happily tossing jokes about the Audience Match "Take the __" around. Richard Deacon was more nervous about helping the new champ with "__ the Dog." He also explains how the lights that go on when they push their blue cards into the slot work. 

Finished the night online with sitcom Christmas episodes. Hawkeye describes the holiday season at the 4077th in the first season MASH episode "Dear Dad." Henry Blake doesn't have much luck giving a lecture on sex to a group who think they already know everything about that subject. Frank and Hot Lips end up on the wrong side of Hawkeye and Trapper's pranks. Father Mulcahey has to keep Klinger and Frank from killing each other. Hawkeye ends up behind enemy lines in a Santa Claus suit.

The Monkees have a less perilous but more expensive holiday in the second-season episode "The Christmas Show." They think they've been hired by a rich lady to play at a party, but she really wants them to watch over her nephew (Butch Patrick). The spoiled and neglected rich boy doesn't think much of Christmas, and the Monkees' antics don't really improve his opinion of the holiday...until Mike Nesmith realizes what he really needs.

Balki and Larry also have a disappointing holiday, at least initially, the second season Perfect Strangers episode "A Christmas Story." Larry's upset when a blizzard prevents them from getting to his family's home in Madison for Christmas. He also resists Balki's attempts to cheer him up, until his cousin reminds him of what the holidays are really all about. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The First Day of Winter

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast and Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales. The first story in this all-original anthology is a condensed Christmas Carol, with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, Porky as Cratchit, and Bugs as Nephew Fred and the Ghosts. The second has Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner into the snow-covered mountains as he rocket-skates and skies to catch his dinner. Taz ends up in a Santa suit in the last short, with Bugs trying to keep him from completely destroying his house.

Headed off to work just as that ended. Work was a little busier than yesterday. People are starting to come out of the malls and pick up ingredients for baking and Christmas dinner, along with cards and wrapping paper and bags. I spent the first hour doing returns; shelved candy between customers. We had enough help by quarter of 3 for me to shut down without a relief.

Soon as I got home, I changed and loaded fudge into bags and boxes while watching The Year Without a Santa Claus. I went further into my favorite Rankin-Bass special at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog on Christmas Eve 2019.

Let the DVD move on to another Rankin-Bass favorite, Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, as I tied the bags with curling ribbon and loaded them into my backpack. I went further into this charming Biblical tale of the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem in an entry last year.

Spent the next couple of hours writing. The Nutcracker and chatty Major Mint (Bill Daily) try to push Debralee away, but the Mouse Queen hems her in. She's about to be turned into a doll herself when Gene steps in...

Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Since there were things going on at the house, I opted to go out for dinner. Ended up at Crown Chicken and Gyro around the corner. I must have missed the dinner crowd, because they were quiet. I ate my fish gyro and slender fries in silence, listening to the accents on the gentlemen behind the counter.

Wanted to get mouthwash and batteries at Dollar General, which I forgot yesterday. They didn't have the mouthwash I wanted, but I did find batteries. They really didn't have much of anything else, either. They're so cleared out, they're already starting to put out their Valentine's Day candy.

Went for a stroll down by Newton Lake Park before it gets too wet and cold for outdoor activities. Some of the lights that way were pretty nifty, too. I saw houses with elegant wire statues, houses with bushes outlined in soft cobalt blue, and houses with lit menorahs in their windows. Those who didn't go for lights had big wreaths on their front doors. 

Put on Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol when I got in. I went into this early network animated holiday special at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog in 2020. 

Finished up the night online with Frosty the Snowman in honor of the first day of winter. The original Rankin-Bass Frosty special begins on a snowy morning right before Christmas. Little Karen and her friends are delighted when a magician's top hat brings their snowy friend (Jackie Vernon) to life. Not only is it getting too warm for Frosty to remain, but the magician (Billy DeWolfe) wants his hat back. He's so desperate, he follows Frosty and Karen to the North Pole, where they hope Santa will have a place for him.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Put a Little Love In Your Heart

Started off a late morning with breakfast and the recent Disney Junior show Alice's Wonderland Bakery. Alice is delighted when she, Hattie, and her sentient recipe book Cookie are invited to the Queen of Hearts and her daughter Rosa's big Christmas dinner at Hearts Palace. Her friend Fergie the White Rabbit is upset when he's not invited, causing Alice to decline the invitation. She'd rather spend the holiday with her best friend. After Mome Raths invade the castle, it looks like there may not be a dinner at all. Alice finally rounds up all of Wonderland to help build "The Gingerbread Palace" and make it a place where everyone can enjoy dinner...Mome Raths and rabbits included.

Headed out to run errands after breakfast. The weather was much too nice to be hanging out inside! The sun warmed my nose despite the biting chill, and the sky was an unwavering ice blue. It was a lovely morning to run errands. Went to Dollar General first. They looked like a hurricane blew through. The shelves were empty of almost everything. I managed to pick up laundry detergent, more boxes for candy, a bag for Rose and her family's gifts, and trash bags, but couldn't find powdered sugar. Hiked down to a better-stocked Family Dollar to pick up the sugar. Treated myself to a tasty and spicy Gingerbread Cookie Smoothie and soft pretzel across the street at WaWa.

After I got home, I put everything away while watching A Scooby Doo Christmas. In the second Scooby holiday special, he and Mystery Inc find themselves stranded in Winter Hollow on Christmas Eve. The town is hardly a friendly place. A monstrous snow man terrifies them every Christmas Eve, destroying their chimneys and forcing them to take refuge in the local inn. While Scooby and Shaggy dodge this monstrous Christmas creep, their friends learn more about the local legend of a robber that hid his gold in one of the houses and how that might relate to this unwelcome holiday visitor.

Started in on the fudge after the cartoon ended. Since I'm not using my own kitchen, I wanted to keep things very simple. Used the Carnation kit for the chocolate fudge; found an easy recipe for peanut butter fudge on Pinterest that only required butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and evaporated milk. I was even able to melt the butter and peanut butter for the latter in the microwave. They came out perfectly, thick, rich, and sweet. 

A friend of mine was riding down to Hammonton with a load of gifts. A woman she knew was recovering from drug addiction and had a hard time getting presents for her two young daughters. In addition to the toys she bought and donated from her own daughter, I gave her two large Beanie Baby teddy bears that used to belong to Jodie and Dad. They only used them for display, so they were in perfect shape. I don't really need them. I have plenty of bears, including ones for Christmas.

Put my laundry in the washer, then watched A Flintstones Christmas Carol while cutting paper snowflakes for my doors and window. Fred's playing Scrooge in a local Bedrock play, and he's getting a little too into the role. He spends so much time rehearsing, he forgets to buy presents for his women or pick Pebbles up at daycare. Wilma's the stage manager along with designing costumes and playing several roles after actors come down with "The Bedrock Bug," and she's absolutely furious with her husband's insensitive behavior. It takes a scare at the department store and really listening to the story for Fred to understand what Christmas really means to him...the love of his wife and daughter.

Worked on writing for a while after I moved my laundry to the dryer. Debralee is somewhere between amused and horrified when she realizes the Mouse Queen is Jo Ann Worley, and the Mouse King resembles producer Ira Skutch. She's not laughing when she realizes what they intend to do to her and the Nutcracker, though...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Ate while watching The Littlest Angel. I go further into this popular Hallmark musical from 1969 with Johnny Whittaker as the title character and Fred Gwynne as his kindly friend at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Finished the night after a shower and putting my laundry away with a pair of holiday tales about curious bears at Tubi. Ted E. Bear (Dick Smothers) wants to know everything about Christmas. Most bears hibernate through the holidays and neither know nor care about it. Even his girlfriend (Barbara Felton) thinks he's insane for wanting to find such an abstract thing. He's determined to not be The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas, finally stumbling to the city to find it. With the help of a jolly old man in red, he learns Christmas is a day...but it's also a feeling, and one best shared with someone you love. 

Christopher and Holly are teddy bears who want to be The Bears Who Saved Christmas when their family is stranded at a barren cabin on Christmas Eve. Joined by a compass with a bad sense of direction and a flashlight who is afraid of the dark, they go out in search of a tree to brighten their family's holiday. On the way, they help a young beaver out of the ice and stop a real bear from being caught in a trap. They discover just how important friendship and helping others is when their new buddies help them find a tree and get it home. 

Monday, December 19, 2022

Christmas In Living Color

Once again began my morning with breakfast and writing. Debralee's shocked when the mice explain their reason for attacking the Nutcracker is his king killed their kind over them raiding his pantry and eating his Christmas party food. She's even more surprised when she recognizes the Mouse Queen and her trilling voice...

Broke to change, then headed out to work. Got there right on time. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, not bad the rest of the afternoon. People are finally starting to come out of the malls and pick up baking ingredients, food for Christmas dinner, and last-minute gift cards. Other than being a little late to go in for someone's break after I got backed up with an older woman's order, there were no major problems. It slowed down enough by 7 for me to leave without a relief. 

Went straight home and into dinner and Match Game '79. TV hunks Robert Walden from Lou Grant and Tattletales host Bert Convy join lovely Audrey Landers to answer "Whadya __" in the Audience Match. Meanwhile, Patty Duke gives a really strange answer to what a bad athlete has training wheels on. 

(Incidentally, I found out why Buzzr's running the 1979 episodes in prime-time. Rumor has it they're finally going to be starting in on the syndicated Match Game episodes from 1979 to 1982 next month. Sounds like they're also finally getting around to doing their annual Lost & Found marathon next month as well. The Lost & Found marathon usually runs in late September; maybe whatever they dug up wasn't ready by then.)

Finished the night with a beloved holiday classic and a genuine rarity. Started with the classic, Christmas In Connecticut from 1945. Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the most popular food columnist in the US during the mid-40's. Everyone loves reading about her scrumptious recipes, her bucolic farmhouse, and her cute baby. Trouble is, it's all fake. Elizabeth is really a single career girl who lives in an apartment and can't boil water. Her recipes come from her Uncle Felix's (S.Z Sakall) restaurant. 

Elizabeth is understandably panicked when her boss Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) insists on coming to her farm for Christmas and bringing the handsome soldier Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan). She agrees to marry dull architect John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner) in order to use his Connecticut farm house and the babies his housekeeper Nora (Una O'Connor) takes care of. It's only after she falls for the charming Jones, babies are switched, and cows get loose that she begins to realize that honesty really is the best policy, especially where love is concerned.

Charming holiday romantic comedy may be the grandparent of everything that ever turned up on Hallmark, but it's way more fun, thanks to that nifty cast. Sakall and Greenstreet come off the best as the two bosses with very different ideas of listening and how to treat their employees.

The anthology show Playhouse 90 did their only color episode, The Nutcracker, on Christmas Day 1958. This adaptation of the George Balanchine version existed only in black and white until someone uploaded a color copy to YouTube last year. I'm so glad they did. The soft pastels look exquisite, like something from a dream. June Lockheart is the gentle narrator. They do have a Sugar Plum Fairy here, but her "cavaliers" are the four head male dancers from the previous sequences. Mother Ginger and her children are intact and do a very cute dance, but the Russian Trepak routine is replaced by candy cane dancers who jump through hoops. Balanchine himself dances Godfather Drosselmeyer. 

Here the YouTube link, so you can check it out for yourself! 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Yuletide Games

Began the morning with breakfast and writing. Debralee confronts one of the mice attacking the Nutcracker...who reveals he's the Mouse King. He's angry the Nutcracker's king trapped many of his siblings and refused to marry his daughter to him. Debralee insists that's no reason to attack anyone. He threatens to call his mother, but she's not cowed. The Nutcracker is more worried, though...

Hurried off with barely enough time to change into work clothes before dodging chilly winds and heading to work. Work was...surprisingly quiet for a football Sunday in mid-December. It did pick up around 1-1:30, just as the Eagles-Bears game began, and around 4:30 right as it ended. I didn't get to see the game, but I did hear they started slow in the first half. They must have picked things up in a hurry. Customers who came in later added that the Eagles finally managed to push past the Bears 25-20. Grabbed powdered sugar for my peanut butter fudge next week after work ended. 

Went right home after that and into dinner. Watched Match Game PM as I ate. This one was from the week with William "Captain Kirk" Shatner and Broadway legend Julie Harris. Gene's thrilled when the first contestant claims the baby of a lady who watches too much TV looks like him, but he's not as happy when the others weren't thinking on the same lines. Fannie's happier to show off her glittery jean jacket trimmed with sequins to look like the American flag. 

Finished the night online after dinner with Christmas game shows. While I'm not sure the original 70's Tattletales did holiday episodes, they did have at least one Christmas show during the early 80's revival. Bill Daily and his new wife Vivian and Dynasty cast member Grant Goodeve and his sweet wife Debbie were outclassed by Brits Lynn Redgrave and John Clark, who got almost every answer right.

Kids had a ball at Christmas during the 1980's. At least two game shows had kids appearing during their Christmas weeks. One boy, Mitch, became one of the biggest winners ever on Card Sharks in 1980 with his gutsy Money Board bets. Two kids on the John Davidson Hollywood Squares in 1988 got to make car-auction jokes with Janice Pennington of The Price Is Right, hear Debbie Reynolds sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and hear wisecracks from Jm J. Bullock and center square Joan Rivers.

Mitch wasn't the only person in the early 80's betting on holiday game shows. Las Vegas Gambit celebrated the holidays in Sin City with one of its earliest episodes. This one includes the original Gambit Board with the blackjack-based bonus game, rather than the dice one cribbed from High Rollers

Panel games brought the whole family in. An episode of I've Got a Secret from 1961 showcased talented relatives of famous people. Loved the jazz band at the end made up entirely of famous relatives - they weren't half-bad! What's My Line from 1972 showcased a female daredevil who did awesome stunts at car shows. Patty Duke was the very funny Mystery Guest. It ended with a man who sold Santa Claus suits...and with Larry and the panel getting to try them on. 

Press Your Luck went in for a more frantic Christmas, as Whammies stole money and knocked down trees in an attempt to take contestants' cash. They weren't bad in the first half, but by the second, they'd slammed everyone but the champ. He ultimately went home with three trips and over $61,000 dollars in cash and prizes. 

Richard Dawson shepherded two families through his first Christmas on Family Feud. They answered holiday-related survey questions as the challengers made a big comeback to win. They did better on the Fast Money round, getting it on the last question. 

Run these in the background of your holiday party and see who ends up playing along! 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Out to Holiday Lunch

Got a quick start today! I was so caught up reading Christmas After All, I had a hard time breaking away. Barely had time to change and grab a very quick breakfast before dashing off to work.

Probably just as well. The Acme had its employee luncheon in the lounge area today. They provided hot turkey and roast beef, three kinds of macaroni and cheese, a fruit tray, croissant sandwiches from the deli, and soft pretzels. Someone brought in pasta salad and tuna salad. My cookies were joined by thick chewy cookies and butter sandwich cookies from the bakery, a huge pound cake, a cheesecake, donuts, and bowls of mini candies. I had roast beef, two pretzels, the most orange-y mac and cheese, strawberries, watermelon,  and pineapple from the fruit tray, a small slice of pound cake, and two sugar cookies. 

Work started busy when I came in at 11. I accidentally pushed the button for cash instead of check for an older woman's order at one point and was so embarrassed! She was good about it, but I felt really bad. Thankfully, it slowed down around 2:30-3 PM as people headed to their holiday get-togethers or to watch the World Cup or football. My relief was right on time.

Good thing, as I had my own shopping to do. I don't want to be shopping on Christmas Eve next week, so I stocked up on apples and tangerines. Bought a kit for chocolate fudge I've used before, and evaporated milk and pans for peanut butter fudge. The Acme seems to be the only store that carries the brushes for my Spinbrush. Had a coupon for free Acme bakery cookies; grabbed the chocolate chip, since I'm giving all the ones I made away. Ben & Jerry's is on sale with a digital coupon. I'm a fan of their Cherry Garcia, so I thought I'd try Cherry Crumble. Picked up Special K blueberry bars on sale, along with Made Good granola bars with less sugar. 

After I got home, I watched Supermarket Sweep while putting everything away and getting organized. This was their big Tournament of Champions from I think the early 2000's. I must have hit the finale. We had two Big Sweep runs, with six different pairs running around in the hopes of earning enough to win two cars. Team 3, a pair of younger guys, were ahead after the first round. They were just barely beaten in the second by Team 1, another pair of college-age guys who ended up winning the big prize.

Worked on writing for a while. Debralee is not going to let the Nutcracker get knocked down. She tackles two mice who go after him and ask them what they're doing. They were ordered to attack by their Queen, who is retaliating for the trapping of her people.

Watched Match Game PM after dinner, then finished the night with A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish. I go further into this modern Yuletide fairy tale at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Winds of Christmas

Started off the morning with breakfast and the second Christmas episode of the Disney Muppet Babies. "It's a Wonderful Elf-Bot," Bunsen and Beaker's newest creation that can make any present from art supplies. The kids are supposed to use it to create a gift for Statler and Waldorf, but they get so carried away making presents for them, they forget about their older friends. It isn't until the Elf-Bot overloads that they realize they have no art supplies left for Statler and Waldorf. Bunsen learns a lesson of his own when he blasts his shrimp-flavored milk boxes into outer space when his friends complain about him dumping them in their yard. He ends up having to clear the boxes from Planet Gonzo in "A Merry Litter Christmas."

Worked on writing for a while after breakfast. Major Mint (Bill Daily) is a goof and a chatterbox, but he can get results. He gets his wind-up troops lined up to fight the mice. Debralee is more worried about the huge mouse that's arrived among the others...

Broke for lunch at 1. Watched Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper as I ate lunch and got ready for work. Yogi and Boo Boo head to the big city to find the rest of their Hanna-Barbara funny animal buddies, not realizing they've gone to visit them at Jellystone. Ranger Smith calls the police to retrieve them. They hide from the cops dressed as Santa in a department store, where they encounter poor little rich girl Judy Jones. Upset that her wealthy father ignores her, Judy joins them in the park. While Ranger Smith and the police chase Yogi, his buddies look for Judy's father. 

Last night's rain carried into the morning hours. Thankfully, it had finally ended by 1:30. The streets were wet, but the precipitation was long gone. I rode to work normally on my bike with no trouble other than strong wind.

Thankfully, I spent tonight sweeping and pushing carts. Had to sweep up some spilled sugar at one point, but otherwise, no major problems. We weren't even really that busy, especially later. I was in and out pretty quickly.

Mixed feelings on my schedule. In good news, Tuesday and Thursday off, which I appreciate. I figured I'd be lucky to get one day off next week. Two 8 1/2 hour days in a row, though, one on Christmas Eve. Now I'm glad I took the week between Christmas and New Year's off. 

Went straight home and into Match Game '74. South American hunk Alejandro Rey and magic-loving Juliet Mills joined in this week. The new champ had more luck with "Mother of __" in an Audience Match later in the episode than with "Mason __." 

Put away all the baking supplies I bought for the cookies during Match Game '79. A wild episode started with Charles blowing pipe smoke at Brett and Betty doing a strip tease when Gene asked her about it. It ended with Gene accidentally throwing his own answer into a question, making them start the whole thing over. 

Finished the night online after a shower with variations on A Christmas Carol. My favorite live-action version is the British one with Alistair Simms as Scrooge from 1951. Simms is a perfect Scrooge, whether he's sneering at his nephew for marrying a woman with no money, or dancing around his bedroom on Christmas morning after he's seen the light. I also like how they handled the charwoman. She reacts pretty much the way any sensible person who saw a miser turn into a dancing fool overnight - she screams and asks him if he wants her to keep his mouth shut. We also have an expanded past sequence that shows just how Scrooge went from an idealistic apprentice to a ruthless businessman. 

Mickey may be the title character of Mickey's Christmas Carol, but the real star is Uncle Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer Scrooge. He's absolutely hilarious wondering why the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket) isn't taller and trying to snitch all the goodies from the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant). Love Goofy as one of the funniest Jacob Marleys on record, too. 

Rankin-Bass also dove into the Christmas Carol well with their version of Stingiest Man In Town from 1978. I went further into this animated adaptation of a 50's TV musical at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog in 2020.