Saturday, September 30, 2023

Mermaids and Harvests

Began the morning with breakfast and The New Scooby Doo Mysteries. It's "The Night of the Living Toys" when Daphne, Shaggy, and the dogs explore a toy factory in the Black Woods of Germany where the toys have seemingly come to life. While Shaggy and Scooby dodge the Elf King, Daphne and Scrappy try to figure out where a treasure is hidden in the building's foundation. They make a "South Pole Vault" to Antarctica, where a mad sea lion has seemingly stolen important research. Shaggy and Scooby befriend the penguins, while Daphne listens to the workers at the research center who just want to go home.

Headed off after the cartoon ended. Stopped at WaWa first for a Propel and money. Thankfully, the line wasn't bad for farm market day. I got my drink and used the ATM machine and was on my way.

Maybe that's because it was fairly late by the time I finally got to the Collingswood Farm Market. It was busy, but not to the degree of usual. Berries, stone fruit, and cucumbers are gone, replaced by winter squash, pumpkins, and Swiss chard. I bought pears, apples, dill cheese, a loaf of multi-grain bread, and a "pretzel ring" (a soft pretzel shaped like a bagel and made with whole wheat flour) for snacks. Picked up lettuce, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts for dinner on Monday.

Also bought this year's pie pumpkin for a decoration in my room. I never carve my pumpkin. I'm afraid I'd end up carving me! I keep my pumpkin out until Thanksgiving or it goes bad, whichever comes first. 

Hurried home and put everything away while watching the live-action version of The Little Mermaid that came out in May. I go further into Disney's latest remake of their animated films at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Went to work shortly before the film ended. Work was just as boring as it's been all week, and only slightly busier. It's the end of the month, we're between holidays, and while it hasn't rained since last night, the weather remains cloudy, damp, and cool. Once again, I was in and out with no trouble.

Ate leftovers while finishing The Little Mermaid and watching The Lawrence Welk Show on YouTube. I ended the summer vacation season with episodes about vacations and traveling. The 1966 episode begins with everyone singing "California Here I Come." The male singers serenade Jo Anne Castle with "Come Josephine In My Flying Machine," while the Lennon Sisters sing about a "Sentimental Journey." Jo Anne and the Lennons insist to big star Jack Imel that "All We Really Need Is a Break," while Natalie Evans imitates a trombone while trilling about that "Canadian Sunset." Dick Dale finishes with "Gotta Travel On." 

The 1967 episode is more bizarre. It opens with everyone singing about the time they'll have "On the Boardwalk In Atlantic City" while being pushed in carts. Arthur Duncan is a tapping hobo who enjoys being "King of the Road." Jo Anne Castle is a very unlikely "Minnie the Mermaid," somehow managing to play her piano while laying down in a costume so tight, she needed help getting around. (She later reported Larry Hooper's diving costume wasn't terribly comfortable, either.) Natalie and Dick wonder "Why Do I Love You?" in one of the hit ballads from Show Boat. Cissy King makes her first appearance with Bobby Burgess, dancing a wild Charleston to "Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me." 

In 1970, everyone starts off with "Gotta Travel On." Arthur's tap routine is to the Irving Berlin standard "Blue Skies." Guy and Ralna sing about that "Tennessee Birdwalk." Dick Dale and Gail Farrell say "Let's Get Away From It All." Cissy and Bobby recall the early days of car travel as they explain to the others that "It's a Horseless Carriage." Tanya Falan Welk gets a far more sensual "Sentimental Journey" here. Bob Lido and the Hotsy Totsy Boys are "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines," while Norma Zimmer and Jimmy Roberts share a lovely "Harbor Lights." 

Celebrate the end of the summer and start of fall with Lawrence Welk and his musical journeys. (Warning that the 1970 episode has a lot of cuts and isn't in good shape, but it seems to be the only copy online.)

Stayed on YouTube to finish the night with the Saturday Match Game Classics marathon. We got a short selection of some of the biggest wins on the nighttime episodes. Most of those came later in the series, after the Star Wheel debuted and allowed PM contestants to win up to $20,000. One of the biggest winners was a suave gentleman whose wife had written a series of successful cookbooks. He was a charming fellow who clearly enjoyed the antics of Betty Kennedy, Robert Donner, Marcia Wallace, and the others. David Doyle ended up being the one who helped him with "__ Mountains" in the Head-to-Head.

Of course, there's other prizes that can be won besides money. While Richard Dawson wasn't as notorious for kissing the contestants as he would be hosting Family Feud, more than one lady couldn't resist the lure of his lips. One woman got really into it, ending up on his lap despite not winning the Head-to-Head with him. She seemed much happier winning a kiss from Richard than she would have with money anyway! 

Check out some of the biggest wins in the nighttime in this short but funny marathon!

Friday, September 29, 2023

Happiness Is Cookies and Tigers

Started off a gloomy morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. "Daniel Makes a Mistake" when he knocks the basket of rocks and feathers he and Miss Elainia are looking at under a microscope on the floor. Teacher Harriet assures him that everyone makes mistakes, and the important thing is that you fix it. Baker Aker teaches Daniel and Prince Wednesday how to make trolley-shaped cookies. They make several "Baking Mistakes," but Baker Aker shows them how to clean up after them.

Worked on writing for an hour after that. Joyce is finishing getting water for her and Rover the dog when Charles calls her over to the banks. He's found a short man made all of tin rusting there. Joyce realizes the "Tin Man" is rather familiar as they try to find his oil can.

It wasn't raining this morning. By the time I looked up from my laptop, the showers were out in full force. I figured it would be easier to take Uber and dodge the weather. The gentleman arrived in five minutes and got me to work in less than five. 

I actually ended up sweeping and pushing carts this afternoon. The head bagger wanted to be in a register. Fine by me. The rain slowed down even as I stepped into the Uber car. By the time I pushed carts in the parking lot, it had ended all together. We were a little busier than yesterday, but still not overwhelmingly so.

Oh, and I got my schedule. My only major concern is an 8 1/2 hour day on Sunday, likely due to the first Eagles afternoon game of the season and it being the first day of the month. Otherwise, it's all four and five hour shifts again. Monday and Saturday off, Saturday for the Collingswood Book Festival. 

Since I got off at rush hour, it took me a little while longer to find an Uber to take me home. I finally got one in 10 minutes. It wasn't raining by this point, and hasn't rained since early this afternoon. There was no traffic, and thankfully no flooding either.

Changed, then spent the rest of the evening working on a project I haven't tried in ages. Mrs. Miller gave me real maple syrup, and I have maple syrup from the Vermont Country Store. I made "The Vermont," butter sugar cookies flavored with maple syrup. They came out a tad crunchier than I hoped. I think I had them in the stove a bit too long. 

Wanted a nice, simple dinner. There was a quarter of a bag of shrimp in the freezer. I defrosted those, hoping to make shrimp scampi. Finally decided that the recipe was too complicated and threw together my own shrimp dish. I sauteed the shrimp in oyster sauce and Worcestershire sauce, along with onions and green peppers. Added a can of tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, Old Bay seasoning, and at the last moment, a container of leftover egg noodles. Yum! It was delicious, a delightful combination of flavors. Made for a nice, hearty dinner on a night that remained cloudy and cold. 

Put on Classic Concentration when I got home. It was a tie game when I turned on the TV. The young man won big, getting a ton of prizes. He just barely missed the car, but his fiancee said it was all right. They had more than enough prizes.

Let Buzzr go into Match Game '76. Debralee Scott appeared for the first time, with Scoey Mitchilll and Joyce Bulifant. Richard does his own impersonation of Charles in the first episode, to the annoyance of the latter. Everyone celebrates in the latter when the contestant, after six misses, finally matches Richard on the Head-to-Head with "Miss __." 

No clue why Buzzr went back to Match Game '79 during the 7 PM hour. In fact, they jumped all the way back to New Year's Day 1979. Gene stumbles into the studio draped with streamers from the previous episode, looking more than a little bleary-eyed. After he recovers, we have a bald contestant who apparently made a bet with his wife that a bald man couldn't get on the show. The second show had a female contestant who was taller than Gene, and Gene getting singer Jack Jones to perform a few brief numbers from Guys & Dolls

Finished the night at The Roku Channel after a shower with more Spencer For Hire. It's a "Discord In A Minor" when Spenser is fired from his job guarding a teenage girl when her boyfriend kidnaps her. Turns out there's a lot more to this than it seems. The girl's father is obsessed with her and her pianist career, while the boy is a son of a mobster who wants him home. Turns out the girl's father is a lot scarier than he seems at first, to the point where Spenser has to call in his psychologist girlfriend Susan Silverman to help sort things out. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

A Dark Day In Autumn

Began the morning with breakfast and PAW Patrol on Paramount Plus. "Pups Save a Pizza" when the truck transporting pizza dough for their winter pizza bake skids off the road and almost goes over a cliff. Chase, Marshall, and Rocky rescue the truck, and then the dough when it gets away. "Pups Save Skye" after their flight-obsessed cockapoo friend has a crash-landing in the snow. They call on snow-loving husky Everest to help follow her tracks in a blizzard.

Next up was changing the sheets. It's supposed to get warmer next week, but remain relatively chilly at night. It's time to put on the fall/spring sheets and comforter. Truth be told, these sheets are starting to wear out, too. I bought it from WalMart a few years ago. I'll look around for something far better to replace them sometime in the next few months. Took the summer sheets and quilt downstairs and straight into the washing machine.

Worked on writing briefly after that. Joyce stops by a brook to get water for herself and Rover. Charles doesn't need water, so he wanders off. He hears moaning...and finds a tin leg and rusted ax...

Watched Let's Make Love while eating lunch and switching the laundry to the dryer. I go further into Marilyn Monroe's last musical, with her as the performer in an off-Broadway revue spoofing French businessman and playboy Yves Montand, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Headed off to work the moment the movie ended. Work was even more boring than yesterday. We were a little steady during the evening rush hour. That was it. It's too close to the beginning of the month for most people to do major shopping. I was in and out with little fuss.

The PAW Patrol episode earlier put me in the mood for pizza. I stopped at Phillies Phatties in Oaklyn on the way home. Ended up buying a slice of cheese and a slice of sausage with a bottle of Diet Pepsi. Enjoyed my dinner while listening to a mother and her three little girls in tutus (they must have just come from dance classes at Ovations next-door) and a pair of chattering teenagers. 

I was worried about the dark clouds and cool wind and hurried home after that. Put on Match Game Syndicated as I changed, finally retrieved the sheets from the dryer, and put up the Halloween decorations. Ophelia, the Beanie Baby bat I picked up in Albany, went with my collection of cute stuffed bats. I don't do scary decorations. The scariest decorations I have are a haunted house cardboard hanging and a Beanie Baby wolf with red eyes. 

Buzzr is finally up to the week with future host of Nickelodeon's Finders Keepers Wesley Eure. He spent that week teasing Debralee Scott under him, much like he did earlier that year on Password Plus. Bob Barker is happier admiring a lady off-camera with a high slit skirt and cursing when the Star Wheel almost lands on him. 

Finished the night at Hulu with more Sailor Moon Crystal at Hulu. Rei and Ami's introductory episodes pretty much match their first episodes in the original show. Here, though, Rei is far from boy-crazy. In fact, she doesn't trust men at all, including Tuxedo Mask. Ami is the same shy, brilliant sweetheart she is in every version of Sailor Moon. The "Masquerade Party" episode is also repeated in the original show, without Usagi's friend Naru being involved. 

Things start to diverge with the episode that introduces Makoto, Sailor Jupiter. It has more in common with an earlier Nephrite episode that involved brides in a wedding dress contest. Here, the brides are disappearing not from a contest, but from a bridal boutique. Makoto comes off as more intense here than she ever did in the original 90's show, though Usagi still befriends her over food. 

(And the rain that threatened all day finally arrived around 8 PM, shortly after I got online. It's been off and on, sometimes heavily, ever since.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Quiet Day Games

Began my morning with breakfast and Three for the Show. I go further into Betty Grable's last film musical, about a Broadway star who finds herself unable to decide between two husbands, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Looked over paperwork on investments PNC sent me after the movie ended, then tried to focus on writing The Wizard of Blank. Joyce wonders how Charles the Scarecrow ended up on a pole. He can't remember. It's as if part of his brain was removed or erased. 

Broke for lunch and Match Game '77, then made my grocery list and headed off to work. My first day back at work was mostly really boring. We were dead almost the entire afternoon. It's the middle of the week, the end of the month, and a beautiful sunny day to boot. 

I did help someone out mid-way through my shift. A woman in an electric scooter cart drove up to my line very upset and crying. She'd been trying to get one of my co-workers to help her find something. Apparently, she asked five times, and that got on the woman's nerves and she finally told her to get it herself. The lady had bad hips and wasn't up to it. I can understand being annoyed, but even if she was, she should have helped the lady no matter how many times she asked. I put off my break to calm the woman down and help get her groceries out to her car.

Had a little grocery shopping to do after work. I badly needed to restock yogurt. Bought two packs of low-sugar Choboni and two seasonal flavors of Dannon Light & Fit. The Candy Snaps grapes are still $1.99. Picked up the Acme's generic coconut milk, which is the cheapest brand they have. They had the regular Mountain Dew Voo Dew in, along with two unusual Coke flavors. I went with the Fanta Mystery Flavor, which was black this time for Halloween. (It was Diet Blackberry, by the way. Not bad. Tart and just enough sweet.) They also had something called Y3000, but not in zero versions.

Went straight home after that and into dinner and Match Game '76. Debralee Scott made her debut on the show here. We also have Scoey Mitchilll admiring a plump comely contestant, and surprisingly matching a bad answer on another contestant.

Match Game Syndicated is up to the week with Jon "Bowser" Bauman, Patty Duke, and Charlene Tilton of Dallas. Brett joked about Bill Daily next to Charlene drooling over her in low-cut green dress she wore in the first episode. Jon Bauman let the contestant play a tune on his toy piano. In the next episode, Gene mentioned spending 90 cents on meals at the automat during his young and wild years as a page at NBC in New York in the late 30's. 

Finished the night on YouTube after a shower with beloved game shows of the 1990's. The genre began the decade with several big shows and a couple of major revivals on the networks. Not even well-received versions of Match Game and To Tell the Truth lasted more than a year. (Match Game was the last daytime game show on ABC to date.) Game shows were considered passe, thanks to the rise of cheaper and more sensational talk shows. The word game Caesar's Challenge would be the last daytime game show on NBC in 1993. 

The situation was different on cable. They needed filler, and what better to fill up time with than game shows? Lifetime's revival of the 60's hit Supermarket Sweep swept its time slot and became one of the biggest successes of the decade. Energetic David Ruprecht of the colorful sweaters and ties asked questions about products in a grocery store to add time to a team's score. Each team ran the Big Sweep through the store at the end. The team with the highest Big Sweep score went on to figure out riddles in the Bonus Round and win $5,000. It remains one of the most popular game shows of the 90's and is still as much fun to watch now as it was 30 years ago.

No cable channel got more into game shows than Nickelodeon. The success of Double Dare in the late 80's inspired more wacky stunt-and-questions games. Nick Arcade also played on the revival of video games in the early 90's and the enormous popularity of Nintendo and Sega in the era. Kids direct a character named Mikey across themed boards. When they land on a space, they either played a real-life video game in the "video challenge," lost their space to an animated enemy, or did a "Time Bomb" spelling game when both teams landed on the same space. The winners went on to the "Video Zone," where they played video game "stunts." Goofy Phil Moore was the host.

Nickelodeon wasn't the only channel who got into the kids' games. PBS had their first successful national game show with Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? in the early 90's. Three "Acme Crime-Stoppers" join hosts Greg Lee and Lynn "The Chief" Thigpen to follow one of Carmen Sandiego's bizarre hench-people as they flee across the globe with some very strange loot. In the episode I chose from near the end of the show's run, Robo-Crook somehow manages to steal the Milky Way Galaxy. 

Game shows also continued to be popular on syndication. Even with the end of the Prime Access Rule in 1996, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! continued to bring in big ratings. Other game show franchises tried their luck in syndication, with little success. The Price Is Right had its third and final attempt at a nighttime syndicated show in 1994. Doug Davidson of The Young and the Restless hosted this half-hour version, which ended with one contestant playing The Range Game to win a Showcase package. While this version never did find an audience, the larger set and some music cues were later used on the daytime show and nighttime specials.

One the biggest hits among cable game shows was Win Ben Stein's Money on Comedy Central. The premise here was simple - stump deadpan comedian Stein and win his loot. It wasn't as easy as it sounded. As goofy as the show could be, the questions were genuinely challenging, and Jimmy Kimmel in one of his earliest appearances was clearly having a ball. This wound up being a six-year-smash and remains popular among comedy and game show fans to this day.

Game shows finally roared back in a big way on ABC with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It was already a sensation in England, and it became even more so in the US. The tension built as contestants answer increasingly difficult questions for more and more money. Several "lifelines," like calling a friend or asking for the audience's opinion, helped contestants with especially challenging questions. Unlike the quiz shows of the 50's, rapid-fire editing and space-age neon sets helped ratchet up the tension naturally. The US version was so beloved, ABC eventually expanded it to five nights a week by 2000. Regis Philbin became in demand as the host, especially with his catchphrase "is that your final answer?"

Discover the many changes among game shows in the 90's with these bits of TV history! (Look for the original commercials on Caesar's Challenge and the commercial from its current run on Game Show Network on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.) 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

New York State of Mind

The day did not begin well. It took me much longer to pack my suitcase than I expected. I had to repack it twice before I got everything in. This made me late getting together with Lauren on our way out the door to Albany.

We weren't able to leave for Albany as quickly as I hoped. A tree had fallen over the road right outside the Millers' house last  night. It wasn't large, but it was heavy. We tried to remove as many branches and smaller bits of debris as we could, but there was no way we could move the main portion of the tree. She called a local man who helped them with landscaping. We also got help from the men in the garbage truck, who couldn't reach their trash cans or turn around on a dead-end street, either.

Thanks to all that, it was past 10 when we finally got on the road. Though we did get to the Albany-Renesselaer Station more than an hour before the train left, it wasn't enough time to go out to breakfast as we originally planned. I bought myself a bran muffin and a banana for breakfast at the cafe in the station when I bought my lunch. Bought Lauren a scone for breakfast.

Thankfully, everything went much smoother from there. The train to Albany was right on time, not at all full, and arrived five minutes early. I treated myself to "rainbow cookies" (cake-like cookies made with almond cake with raspberry between the layers) from Vesuvio's Bakery for a snack. 

It was showering lightly in New York when the train arrived. Along with the long line, that may have been the reason the train going to Harrisburg was a few minutes late arriving in Philadelphia. It was so busy, I took a seat in the back, next to a college-age boy, two college girls, and an older woman. The boy and the lady looked at their phones for the entire trip. The girls chattered the whole way there.

I considered taking the NJ Transit to Cherry Hill, but it was already boarding when I arrived. Not to mention, I had no idea how to buy tickets at 30th Street. I ended up calling Uber. It cost me $40, but the young man arrived in 10 minutes. There was a little traffic in downtown Philly, but once we got over the Ben Franklin Bridge, there was no trouble. I was home by 6:30.

Watched Match Game '76 while I unpacked and took the laundry downstairs. I came in during the second half. Della Reece, Fannie Flagg, and Dick Gautier joined in to make jokes about Gene's ugly plaid jacket and green vest. 

Phyllis Diller and Fred Travelena made their first appearances on Match Game Syndicated. The others praise Gene's far more conservative gray suit and lavender tie. Gene's more nervous about the pregnant contestant who looks like she'll give birth any second. Joyce is dismayed when her name comes up on the Star Wheel twice in a row...but the third time proves to be the charm....

Finished the night after I got my laundry upstairs with Weekend at Havana. I go into further detail about Alice Faye's 1941 trip to Cuba at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Oh, and I got my schedule. I do work the rest of the week, but it's all four and five hour shifts in the middle of the day and late in the afternoon. That'll give me time to sleep in and get organized here. 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Here Comes the Rain Again

Got a slightly later start than we have been today. The men who clean out Lauren's fireplace in her basement room were supposed to arrive at 9:30, but they got here early. I read A Fatal Groove and had breakfast while Lauren directed them and showed them what needed to be done. 

It was nearly 10 before we started out. Yesterday's showers returned as we made our way down to the enormous Walmart in North Adams. It's huge, on par with the one in Somerdale, and with the same lovely view of mountains and the surrounding area. Lauren's parents requested some grocery shopping. She asked for help to get down Cream of Wheat boxes that were too far back on the shelf to retrieve and had to go back for medicine. Otherwise, we had no trouble here. She even got cheese danish for her parents' dessert and apple danish for ours.

Pedrin's Dairy Bar is directly across the street from Walmart. This low slung building is a local fast-food eatery that's home to quick and delicious ice cream, burgers, and fried fish. I was more interested in the grilled chicken sandwich, with fresh lettuce and tomatoes and sweet potato fries. Lauren had a cheesesteak with regular fries. Both were enormous, on huge hoagie rolls. They only have outdoor seating. Thankfully, the rain had taken a leave of absence. We enjoyed our meals on their picnic tables, keeping our napkins from being blown away by the heavy winds.

Next stop after lunch was a little further down the road at the North Adams Goodwill. Lauren found two shirts here. I didn't see any clothes, but I did pick up two CDs and a DVD set:

Debbie Gibson - Electric Youth

Thelonius Monk - Straight No Chaser

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 3

After that, we went in the other direction back to Pittsfield. There's a larger Goodwill at a shopping center just outside of town, about 15 minutes from Lauren. This time, we both did well with clothes. I found a nice blouse in black, maroon, and white plaid and a simple coral sweater, along with the novel Flipped For Murder by Maddie Day. Lauren picked up blouses. 

By this point, the rain had started up again. It never poured, but it continued as a steady shower for the next few hours. No matter. We still wanted to hit up the Lee Outlets just outside of the entrance to the Mass Pike. 

We spent the next few hours going in and out of stores. Lauren picked up blouses at Chico's, t-shirts at the Gap and Old Navy, and trousers at J.Crew and Ann Taylor. I found a super-soft flannel blouse at J. Crew (I wanted one in blue too, but they didn't have my size) and a much-needed pair of corduroys to replace the ones that have pretty much had their plush rubbed off at the Gap. We struck out at The Loft and Eddie Bauer. I bought two lip balms and two purse-sized bottles of hand lotion buy three, get one free at Bath and Body Works. Lauren bought travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer that were 5 for $8. 

The rain finally slowed down as we headed back into Pittsfield for dinner at Lauren's local 99 Restaurant. Mr. Miller texted Lauren while we were at the Outlets and said that bacon cheeseburgers are super-cheap there on Mondays. We thought we'd try them. This time, our appetizer was Crispy Cauliflower, cauliflower in tempura batter. Yummy! The spicy mayo was a bit much for me, but the cauliflower was nicely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. She had cole slaw with her burger. I had fries. The fries were perfectly seasoned; the burger was juicy and flavorful. 

Had cherry vanilla ice cream and apple danish for dessert while playing a few last rounds of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I once again played Princess Peach, and Lauren was her Richard Dawson Mii. This time, we took on the Triforce Cup and the Egg Cup. Rainbow Road did me in on the Triforce Cup. I kept falling off those darn edges and came in dead last. The best I finished on that one was third, and that was on Wario's Gold Mine. I did somewhat better on the Egg Cup. My best showing there was second, but I ended up coming in fifth, thanks to a sixth place finish on the Excitebike Arena.

Finished the night with the Monday night Eagles-Buccaneers game. The Bucs were 2 - 0 before this, but they couldn't outrun the Eagles on a roll. Though they did manage to get one touchdown in during the second half, it wasn't enough to overcome the Eagles' defense. The Eagles are now 3 - 0 again with their 25 - 11 win. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Beer Barrel Polka

We started out again into New York state, this time under cloudy slate gray skies. This time, Lauren continued past the Albany suburbs, about a half-hour further down the highway to Queensbury. Our first stop of the day was the Aviation Mall. This mid-70's mall is the smallest we visit during this trip, and the one in the worst shape. Target was well-lit and busy, but the inside of the mall was dead. It was pin-drop quiet, with few stores.

One of the open stores was for used CDs and disc media. Too bad most of his wares were overpriced. I saw a few things that were tempting, but I didn't get anything. The paranormal show on ghostly activities just added to the seriously creepy atmosphere in the store and the mall. 

Ironically, their Pier Arcade was slightly larger than the one at Colonie, and in much better shape. Every game worked. While I didn't get much out of it, I did roll my first 10,000 slot on skee ball. 

After we left the Aviation Mall, we headed down the road to Six Flags Great Escape. They've considerably simplified parking in the sixteen years since we first started going here. Lauren just showed them a voucher she printed offline, and we went on our way. She parked in the Twix 3 lot (all parking lots at Great Escape are named for Mars candies), and we headed over the bridge to Great Escape.

Great Escape began in 1954 as Storybook USA. My older friend Linda Young attended it in is original form. Lauren says she's been coming here for as long as she can remember. It's pretty much what you would get if you crossed Storybook Land in Mays Landing with the New Jersey Six Flags, Great Adventure. The first thing we did when we arrived was explore the tiny Ghost Town western buildings. Lauren is five feet and can walk in easily. I'm 5'4 and mostly poked my head in to see the interior of a little hotel, school, church, county hall with a judge's desk, and boating office. 

Headed over the Skittles bridge and into Hot Rod USA. This is the home of the "ring of fire" coaster Greased Lightin', the drop ride Sasquatch, and Flashback, a roller coaster that runs backwards. Our main interest in this area is Thunder Alley. Families drive small 50's-style cars around a fixed track. Boards telling the story of a ghost family going on a picnic in a graveyard joined the usual giant Technicolor tulips and vintage billboards for Storybook USA in its original heyday. 

In fact, Great Escape was downright spooky. In addition to Oktoberfest, they'll be beginning their Fright Fest next week. Cheesecloth spider webs covered houses and entrance queues. The Ghost Town buildings were decorated with corn stalks and Indian corn. Scary statues of ghouls, ghosts, and gruesome horror icons were set up throughout the park. We ducked around them as we headed to the Fest Area for lunch.

The reason we came is for their Oktoberfest. The Festival Marketplace restaurant sold kielbasa, apple chicken sausage, pirogis, cole slaw, strudels, German chocolate cake, and Bavarian pretzel sticks. Lauren  had the kielbasa and apple strudel. I had apple chicken sausage, apple strudel, cole slaw with raisins and walnuts, and Bavarian pretzels. We listened to a polka band in traditional German dress play polka versions of "Country Roads" and "Sweet Caroline," even bringing the kids in the audience play along at one point.

We had no intention of playing games after everything we did at the Big E, but we did try some cranes. I struck out here. Lauren won a cute printed jack-o-lantern wearing a witch's hat. 

Lauren suggested our next ride. The Balloon Ride floated over the Fest Area, its colorful gondolas easily seen from the dining patio. It looked like fun...until we got on it! The around and around and up and down motion made me feel a little queasy. Lauren, who gets motion sickness, got a bit greener. 

Headed to the Sky Ride to get the lay of the land and let our brains settle after the around and around. This ski lift lazily circles the area over Hot Rod USA and the lower part of the Fest Area. We admired empty stages, ponds, and Fest Area houses under us.

The Storytown Train is barely a two-minute walk from the Sky Ride. The train takes a long route past the River Dee, which seemed quiet and empty with the Swan Boats being refurbished. We passed Popo the Purple Cow (who seemed more like a friendly dragon) and a turquoise clock that was probably supposed to be Hickory Dickory Dock. The train turned through the woods, giving us glimpses of wrecked Ghost Town vehicles and the remains of the abandoned Jungleland rope bridges and animals.

Despite it being cloudy and barely in the 60's, Lauren wanted to ride the Raging River rapids. It's her favorite ride in the whole park. I wasn't sure that was a great idea. I had the chance to consider it. It was briefly closed when we went over there, but it reopened around 3:30. We finally ended up doing it together. Yeah, we got wet and cold, but it was still fun splashing around corners and under sprayers and mini waterfalls. If nothing else, the chilly day and this being the only ride currently operating in its area scared off other customers. This is the first time we went on the Raging River and didn't have to wait a half-hour or more for the ride. We didn't have to wait at all. We got on right away, with no one joining us.

We opted to dry off in the Alice In Wonderland walk-through. It was very dark and spooky inside. Once you get outside, you can see some of the nifty figures, like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Alice caught in the White Rabbit's house. I thought the Queen of Hearts looked much too pretty to be ordering anyone's head to be chopped off!

I got the last ride of the day. The merry-go-round is too much around for Lauren, but I love carousels. This one is really neat, too. I rode a handsome orange jack rabbit with long ears. I also saw a dragon, a cat, a lion, a zebra, and a camel, along with horses with beautifully decorated saddles. I just wish two teenage boys hadn't spent the ride jumping off horses and climbing onto others, standing on the horses, and otherwise doing things they shouldn't have been.

By 4 PM, we were wet, cold, and tired, and the clouds were getting darker. It was time to pack it in and buy our souvenirs. She bought an Oktoberfest shirt that said "I'm at my Wurst" and a cute rolly-poly lavender walrus at the candy store. I found a chocolate brown Japanese-style kitty named Kona Coffee in the candy shop. Orange Thai Tea had her eyes closed, and yellow Coconut looked a bit grumpy, but Kona was adorable. 

We had dinner back at Aviation Mall. They have a Friendly's on a separate outparcel overlooking the mall. Lauren had broccoli and cheese soup, a grilled cheese, fries, and a black raspberry sundae with peanut butter sauce. I had a chicken quesadilla, clam chowder, and a scoop of Viennese Mocha Chunk. 

It finally started to rain as we turned onto the highway and headed home. The showers continued through most of the drive across New York. They slowed down as we neared the Massachusetts border and ended all together by the time Lauren pulled into their garage. It was rather cozy as Lauren turned up the heat and we sang Monkees and Weird Al Yankovitz songs all the way home, with Kona on my knee.

Finished the night on YouTube with the Sunday Match Game Classics marathon. Blonde beauty Elaine Joyce appeared frequently from early '73 through the very end of the syndicated run. Elaine could be annoyingly ditzy in some of her earlier appearances, including with her husband Bobby Van. She did help out with poor, shy Evie, the show's most nervous contestant, in early 1975, and appeared on the hilarious week with Bill Macy later that year. She and Bobby also got one of the funniest - and most controversial - answers as to what Batman and Robin did together. 

Elaine did her best work during the early 80's syndicated run, after motherhood mellowed her out and calmed her goofier tendencies. Gene took advantage of her fondness for tight pants and blouses by letting her show off her looks to the audience frequently. In one of her last appearances, she brought her daughter Taylor Van to the panel to show off her too cute Polish dancing outfit. 

Strut your stuff with the blond bombshell of game shows in this wild marathon!

Saturday, September 23, 2023

I Love a Rainy Night

We once again began our morning driving through the New York countryside to just outside of Albany. This time, Lauren went past Cracker Barrel to the smaller Denny's on the end of the road. They're a basic no-frills diner-style eatery, with local photos and murals on the walls. 

Their specialty is their "slams," eggs, meat, and potatoes or pancakes. I considered the Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes, but decided on more fiber with the Heart 9-Grain, along with bacon, a bowl of grapes, strawberries, and bananas, and eggs over easy. Lauren had country-fried steak, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and bacon. The pancakes were a little dry but tasty and even crunchy, due to the grains. They could have cooked the limp bacon more, but the eggs were done quite well. Lauren said she enjoyed her steak, too.

Once again drove a half-hour to Wolf Road, but went a few blocks down from Crossgates to Colonie Center. Colonie dates to the mid-60's and is the oldest of the malls we visit in Lauren's area, but you'd never know from the way it looks now. Extensive remodeling about a decade ago left it attractive inside and out. The exterior has Art Deco influences, especially around Regal Cinema. The interior has wrought iron railings, big soft chairs, and a huge stone fireplace on the first floor.

They were also insanely busy when we got there. Apparently, there was a cosmetics convention there today. Tables selling makeup of all kinds lined the ground level. There's also the simple fact that the weather was lousy. It was cold, cloudy, and windy. Most kids in the area probably didn't have much else to do (and some grownups might not have, either). 

Our first stop was the massive L.L Bean, which is right as you enter near Whole Foods Market. I didn't see anything I wanted here. Considered a yellow t-shirt, but I have lots of those. Lauren bought a nice button-down green and pink plaid shirt.

We peeked around at Go! Calenders and Toys and FYE, but found nothing there. I poked around in Barnes & Noble for a while. Came up with An Old-Fashioned Girl, one of the Louisa May Alcott books I haven't read, and the second book in the Record Shop Mysteries series A Fatal Groove. Lauren bought a pretty green and purple robe for her mother from Boscov's. Their collectibles shop, Heroes Hideout, is closing. We dodged eager boys and toy collectors, but found nothing we wanted.

Pier Arcade is upstairs. It's much smaller than Round 1 or Dave & Buster's, or even the arcade at the Big Event in Cherry Hill. Not only was it a pain to buy the card (turns out the machines were offline, which explains the money only thing at Dave & Buster's yesterday as well), but half the games were off or broken. Those that did work didn't really give you much in the way of tickets. I played that giant Pac Man game, Pac-Mania as part of a Namco collection, skee ball, and a unique gun game that let you shoot real water at cartoon-y on-screen zombies. Barely got 500 points. As Lauren pointed out, it was a big rip-off.

Macy's proved to be far more interesting. Lauren picked up yellow plaid pants for work and two sweater dresses. I found a black cardigan on the clearance rack with a lovely rose print. (There was a version with a purple and magenta flower print, but I liked the larger roses better.) Listed as $34, it came up to ten dollars cheaper. 

Nordstrom Rack is on the end of the second floor, across from what used to be the Christmas Tree Shoppes. No luck there, for either of us. I just didn't see anything I liked, and they don't have much in the way of plus sizes. We did much better at Boscov's. She bought blouses and a dress for work. I found a really cute Powerpuff Girls t-shirt in the Junior Plus section on sale. I didn't get anything at Box Lunch, but she picked up Winnie the Pooh shirts for herself and her parents.

The Gift Emporium was a large store near L.L Bean that sold collectibles, statues of animals, clothes from exotic parts of the world, and stuffed animals. I found an adorable Beanie Baby bat named Ophelia to go with my Halloween bat collection. She bought a Beanie Baby Christmas gnome and a lavender dress. Five Below was really busy, but she found fluffy lounging pants, and I picked up a Hello Kitty figure for the daughter of a friend of mine.

By 5 PM, the rain that threatened all morning had finally arrived. It showered a little as Lauren drove further down Wolf Road, but it was nothing like it could have been...or like the heavy thunderstorms Oaklyn is supposed to be getting this weekend. As I twice pointed out, I'd picked the right week to come up here.

Ruth Chris Steakhouse is a brand-new and very modern restaurant on the other end of Wolf Road. It's also very expensive and very, very popular. The hostess at the door said their dining area was booked months in advance! We got a table in their lounge area, near the bar. I had intended to treat Lauren here for her 20th anniversary at the bank where she works, but I was shocked by their prices. One steak could cost up to $140. For once, the seafood was cheaper. Lauren had creamy spiral macaroni and cheese with creamed spinach. I had braised Brussels sprouts with crab cakes. It was all very good, though I do wish the crab cake plate came with one more cake for what it cost. 

The rain picked up as Lauren drove us home, though it never got heavy. It was actually starting to calm down a bit as she made her way down the road to her house. It ended shortly after we got in, and to my knowledge, hasn't rained since.

We ended the night on YouTube after I took a shower with today's Match Game Saturday Classics marathon. Charles Nelson Reilly was in the spotlight tonight. Charles started out on the same week as Brett, Betty White, and Bert Convy in 1973. He was so busy with other commitments, though, he didn't become a regular until late in '73. Those commitments, including directing plays and operas, tended to keep him away more often than Richard or Brett as well. 

When he was there, he had some of the funniest moments of the entire series. He loved nothing more than to prolong the suspense, which he did most famously when reading the answer for sweet contestant Janet Finn that would make her the all-time champ at that point. He returned from his months-long absence on Broadway by "dropping in" via wires and a stuffed bird. Charles once switched seats with Scoey Mitchilll, claiming they'd changed lives and races as well. He and Brett dressed as cowboys and sang back-up for Bill Anderson when he performed a song for Debralee Scott on the last episode of a memorable week in 1976.

He had some great moments in syndication and night-time shows, too. On one PM episode, he stood next to the Star Wheel to see if his answer would come up, and tore off his name when it didn't. Another one had him giving his toupee to a balding young man. By far his funniest syndicated episode had him taking over for Gene when he heckled Gene one time too many and found himself taking over as host and reading several questions.

Get to know everyone's favorite fussy theater star in this hilarious marathon!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Angels of the Morning

This time, we started off a sunny, breezy morning heading through upstate New York towards Albany. We went around hairpin corners with fabulous views of the Graylock Mountains and through quaint farming hamlets and past small rural towns with lovely old libraries and hotels with wide porches. Pumpkin patches and baskets of apples line roadside stands; dried weeds waved in the breeze. Ran into no traffic anywhere, not even where they're repairing the road and you have to ride over graded highways.

Turned off the highway at 10 to have brunch at Cracker Barrel. Though the outside screams 70's, the inside is pure southern rural. The walls are lined with vintage tin signs, patterns, ads, and even a gun over a fireplace. We shared a cheese and bacon tater tot casserole and fried pickle chips. Lauren had Eggs Benedict, with the eggs over a biscuit instead of an English muffin. I had two big pancakes with scrambled eggs, bacon, and fried apples. Yum! The apples were a little gluey, but everything else was amazing.

We stopped at the gift shop on the way out. This sells basic toys and gadgets, but it also has holiday decorations, records, CDs (mainly for country stars), sweaters and shirts, and lots and lots of wooden rockers lining the front patio. I didn't see anything I wanted, but Lauren picked up a sweater.

It was twenty minutes to our ultimate destination for the day, the massive Crossgates Mall. Parked next to JC Penney, so we figured we'd start there. I found a coral tank top that was just $3.73 on the clearance racks. Lauren came up with two shirts.

Headed to DSW Shoes next-door after that. Lauren wanted new shoes for work. She had the devil of a time finding ones she liked. Either they were too narrow, or too big and slipped. We finally spotted a pair of slip-on loafers in the clearance racks that didn't slip with her wearing socks. And not only that, she got them for $40, 

We were in and out of a few stores next. We found nothing in their Burlington Coat Factory, Build-a-Bear, Jay Street Video Games, FYE, or a local toy store. Lauren spent nearly a half-hour looking for Lego people at the Lego Store and making her own versions of three Hogan's Heroes characters. She bought calendars at Go! Calendars and Toys for herself and her father and a pair of tweed pants for work on a really good clearance at Old Navy.

Spent the next hour at Dave & Buster's (once I finally managed to get my money into the machine). This is pretty much the same deal as Round 1, with no bowling, fewer crane games, and machines that use slightly less tickets. I spent the next hour running from skee ball to wheels you pushed under a lever to bean bag toss, ring toss, and Mario Kart (got Yoshi this time). Ended up with over 2,770 points. Indulged and got a little Charmander, the fire lizard Pokemon, with plenty of points left for next time.

Headed to Primark, the Irish department store, next. This Primark was not only a lot bigger than the one in Philadelphia, it carried a lot more plus size clothes, too. The plus sizes in the city probably get picked over quickly. I saw some sweaters I liked, but they were too heavy for me to carry in my luggage. GameStop yielded no finds. 

By this point, it was quarter after 5. We were way past dinnertime. Trouble is, most of the sit-down restaurants at Crossgates are expensive steakhouses. Finally went with the only one that seemed somewhat reasonable, Maggie McFly's. This is a sleek black and tan modern bar and grill with an aviatrix mascot. We opted for half of a pizza and salad. Lauren had barbecue chicken pizza and Caesar salad. I had a spring greens salad and Hawaiian pizza with ham, pineapple, and cheddar cheese. Oh wow, yum! It was more like a flatbread pizza, not crunchy like I expected, and it was amazing. Even the salad was good.

Finally headed home after that to show Mr. and Mrs. Miller our finds. After we got online, I finished the night with a third season episode of Charlie's Angels at Tubi. "Angel Come Home" brings back Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett) when she thinks her sister Kris (Cheryl Ladd) sent for her. Turns out she did nothing of the sort. Jill thinks she's going to drive a designer's experimental car in a big race. Her fiancee (Stephan Collins) disapproves of her driving the car and the man who created it, but he has his own demons. When tragedy strikes, Jill learns the car designer she admired wasn't as on the up-and-up as she believed, and that her fiancee may have been right after all...

Thursday, September 21, 2023

In a Big Country

We started out at 9 AM again, this time heading north into upstate New York and Vermont. It's beautiful country up there. The leaves are just beginning to turn colors, though most are still green. Pumpkins and corn line roadside stands. Rivers rushed and gurgled under ancient stone bridges. Cows grazed in velvet fields, near stores selling tractors and farm equipment and beautiful old hotels built to look like Tyrolean homes. There was patchy fog when we left, but by the time we arrived at the Vermont Country Store, the sun was out, the breeze was blowing, and it was a perfect early fall day, neither too hot nor too cold.

The Vermont Country Store in Weston prides itself on being a purveyor of practical and unique items. Practical and unique they may be, but their fancy blouses and pajamas, recreations of vintage toys, kitchen gadgets, hand-made soaps, huge bottles of hard-to-find shampoo and lotion, and retro holiday decorations tend to be expensive. I did find something among the clearance items in the rooms upstairs. Dug a pretty pale-blue cotton floral Ella Simone nightgown with long sleeves, satin ribbon trim, and buttons down the front off the clothes racks. Picked up another bottle of leaf-shaped maple syrup like I bought the last time we were here two years ago.

Headed back down the highway to Manchester for lunch. We ran into two problems at this point. First of all. Pastime Pinball just cut their hours two weeks ago. They're now only open on weekends. Second, the Manchester House of Pizza was closed for the entire month of September while their owners were on vacation. (They were closed at this time last year, too.) 

We ended up eating at The Works Cafe, a tiny restaurant down the street from Pastime Pinball. Their specialty is sandwiches and breakfast items made from the freshest and healthiest ingredients. I had a spicy Sunrise Burrito with eggs, bacon, quinoa, avocado, sweet potato, pico de gallo, and cheddar cheese. Yum! Spicy enough to clear my sinuses, but still good and filling. Lauren said her turkey avocado sandwich was really good, too. She had thick, crispy sour cream & onion chips; I had salt and vinegar. We both got sparkling waters.

As we headed down Riverside Heights, I saw a sign on a large blue building that said "The Vermont Flannel Company." As you can guess, this is a local store specializing in hand-made flannel clothes and accessories, along with stuffed animals and clothes for them. They even had rolls of plaid flannel fabric. Almost everything was way too expensive for my budget, including the toys. I did find two plaid flannel scrunchies that were only $5 each. They were a lot like the flannel scrunchies I bought at the Big E's Vermont State House years ago. Those scrunchies are getting kind of stretched out by now. I was glad to have replacements. Lauren bought a pair of purple plaid flannel lounging pants.

Our next stop was the Northshire Bookstore just a block down the street. They sell small selections of every kind of book on the planet. They only had a small cozy mystery selection. I ended up with Murder at the Pumpkin Pageant by Darci Hannah for Halloween next month. Found the second original Maryellen book, Taking Off, used for a mere $2. 

We spent the next hour or so browsing. Our next find after Northshire was a nifty antique and country store, not unlike a cross between the Barrington Antique Center and the Vermont Country Store. Cool as they were, we found nothing there. Long Ago and Far Away mainly sold crafts made by native artisans as far away as Alaska. Everything there was beautiful, but too expensive or hard to carry home. We strolled through a small war memorial park before ending up at TJ Maxx. I didn't get anything there. Lauren found a nice black floral blouse. 

Headed back down to Massachusetts for dinner. One of my favorite places to eat in Lauren's area is Bob's Country Kitchen in Lanesborough. They're a tiny little rustic cafe that sells basic diner fare. They're very popular with locals. We got there just ahead of two big groups that took up more than half the dining area. I had "Bob's BIG Melt," turkey and bacon on grilled rye with "tangy sauce" (mustard-based, I suspect). Lauren had her favorite ham platter with applesauce and mashed potatoes.

Lauren wanted to bring her parents two slices of apple pie from there, but they were out. We ended up at a near-by Stop & Shop to grab an apple crumble pie. I also finally found the Mountain Dew Voo Dew Zero Halloween flavor. I can never find the Zero sugar version at home! (It was...ok. Mountain Dew claims it's supposed to taste like candy corn. I didn't taste candy corn. I tasted a weird, sweet fruity flavor.)

When we got in, we had our apple crumble pie ala mode with cherry ice cream while playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This time, we just played each other and the computer. We ran through the Leaf Cup and the Banana Cup. No trouble here! Lauren's Richard Dawson Mii came in first every time. My best showing was second on Donut Plains 3 and Royal Raceway.

I finished the night on the Roku Channel with an old favorite of my stepfather's. He loved Spenser For Hire in the mid-80's. I read a few of the books in the early 90's, too. I figured the episode "Autumn Thieves" was especially appropriate, both in honor of fall starting tomorrow and it being set in the Berkshires. After a relic is stolen from a museum while he's pursuing the thief, Spenser finds himself keeping a Berkshires inn owner and the thief, his son, from being hurt by a ring of art collection thieves. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Our State Fair

Once again, we started off around 9 PM...and this time, we did it on an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining, the sky was a brilliant blue, and it was breezy and not too warm. There couldn't have been a nicer day for a trip to the Eastern State Exposition, New England's state fair in Springfield. There was no traffic on the Mass Pike. There was a line of cars when we got to the fair, but Lauren parked in the back of the same supermarket lot we were in last year, under the shady trees. It's a lot easier to deal with than the Big E's parking lot.

As you arrive through the main gates of the Big E, you're greeted with boardwalk-style signs for just about everything that can be fried, and many things that can but probably shouldn't be, like Kool Aid. We decided we'd walk around and take in the lay of the land before we did anything else. 

Our first stop was a small petting zoo just a few minutes after you enter the gate. Kids leaned over, feeding goats, llamas, alpacas, and a huge camel. We strolled around the crowds and checked out the animals, then moved on. 

Next up was the Avenue of the States, the road where a recreation of each state's capitol building sells wares from the state in question and hands out travel brochures. The capitol buildings are always busy, and today was no exception. We had the hardest time getting through Connecticut, which was wall-to-wall people looking at state-grown flowers and videos on Mohegan Sun Casino. Vermont touted Cabot cheese and Ben & Jerry's. New Hampshire boasted of its herbs and metal and stone jewelry. There was a line going out the door for Maine baked potatoes. Massachusetts showed off its honey and wild blueberry pies. We passed by a display of beautifully carved pumpkins from Roger Williams Park Zoo and Del's Lemonade in Rhode Island.

We thought of eating there, but the Avenue of the States is always too crowded to do much of anything but look. Ended up at the food booths between the Young and Better Living Buildings. Lauren pointed out a booth that sold gyros, the Greek pita sandwich with lamb, vegetables, and tzatziki sauce. We each had a huge one loaded with the sour cream-based sauce and a big cup of Diet Coke. She spotted purple-covered picnic tables near the midway. Had our lunch while watching the Ferris wheel go around.

Strolled through the Young and Better Living Buildings next. They're basically the same deal, huge warehouse-type buildings filled with craft booths and local businesses touting furniture, gadgets, and spas. Lauren and I each picked up a fluffy stuffed toy at the Alpaca booth in the Young Building. She got a purple bear; I found an adorable cream and tan sheep I named Sean. She also picked up a pretty striped sweater in lavender and magenta trimmed with fringe and a little purple Squishmallows bunny. 

Doubled back to the Avenue of the States, but not to hit the capitol buildings. There's a small train ride that leaves from in front of the Massachusetts Building. It's a cute little blue, red, and yellow tram with a big smiling face. This year, they expanded the ride. It doesn't only go around the back of the capitol buildings. It also rides down the row of shops and food booths beyond it. It was so much fun! Everyone waved at us. It was like a parade. 

Took the train's route after that, checking out smaller stores and booths along the back edge of the fairgrounds. We bought iced coffee and tea to cool us off, then ended up back at the Midway. By this point, kids were getting out of school, and the Big E was much busier. Dodged parents and children waiting in line for the Super Cyclone Coaster, the Wave Swinger, and the many fun house variations. 

We're going to hit Six Flags Great Escape on Sunday, so we didn't do the rides. We did play games. Lauren couldn't get a sleek purple bear out of a crane no matter how hard she tried, but I did get a smaller pink bear with glittery sequined paws I named Eva (as in Gabor). Neither of us won the "horse racing" game (though the barker said I got close). She won the water gun game, finally getting a cute rolly-poly husky. 

I spent nearly a half-hour watching Lauren throwing balls into baskets, trying to win a giant stuffed bear. The gentleman with the odd accent from Calgary kept giving her more balls and more free games. He even let me play at one point. I only got one ball in, but it was enough for him to give me a smaller prize. He originally threw an elephant at me, but I knew what I really wanted. I'd had my eye on a sweet scarlet bull with short white horns, black hooves, and a darling smile since we walked up there. When Lauren was ready to give up, he finally gave her a giant pop-eyed blue and yellow fish for playing so much.

(Incidentally, the bull turned out to be part of a line with similar wide-eyed stuffed toys. His name is Romeo. The bull on the tag and the giant version of Romeo hanging over the baskets had a fabric rose in his mouth, but my Romeo and the other smaller Romeos I saw don't.) 

After all that, we figured we'd won and played all we could handle. We went back the way we came, through the front gates and across the street to the supermarket. Lauren had no trouble getting out. The traffic was still going to the fair, not away from it. 

Chipolte is just a block from the supermarket, a separate building in the parking lot of a small shopping center. It's a blocky Mexican restaurant chain that allows you to choose the ingredients for whatever burrito, taco, or bowl you want. We were so hungry after walking for six hours, we both went with bowls. I had lettuce, spicy chicken, cheese, and the last of the brown rice. Lauren had tomatoes, cheese, white rice with herbs, and salsa. Yes, the chicken was a little spicy, but it otherwise tasted pretty good. Lauren seemed to enjoy hers, too. Both bowls vanished fairly quickly. 

Lauren wasn't ready to pack it in yet. Since we weren't far from the Holyoke Mall, we headed back there. The only store we missed yesterday was Burlington Coat Factory in the basement, next to the food court. It's pretty much the same deal as Marshalls and TJ Maxx...and it was a mess. Signs that claimed to sell sportswear sold everything but. Shelves were loaded with anything and everything. Neither of us found anything in that jumble.

Did one last half-hour at Round 1 before we left. I amassed a few more points playing skee ball, Nerf Arcade, and Mario Kart (finally got Princess Peach on the latter), but it wasn't that much more. Lauren and I decided we had enough stuffed animals and once again saved our points for another time.

Took the back way to the Mass Pike, around the mall and through several neighborhoods. Once again, we had no trouble on the road. All the traffic was going towards Springfield. Passed a lovely pink sunset as we made our way down to Lee and back past the Pittsfield Airport.

Lauren bought a Nintendo 64 system from a co-worker last week. She never had one as a child and was dying to try it. She did well with the Mushroom Cup rounds of Mario Kart 64, though I barely made fifth. Neither of us could figure out the Special Cup rounds Yoshi Valley and Donkey Kong Jungle Parkway; Lauren did the best at sixth. I beat her solidly with little Pipi the Mouse on Diddy Kong Racing. We had no idea what was going on with the NASCAR racing game.

Finished the night online with The New Scooby Doo Movies at Tubi. The kids are on a ski trip to Vermont, where they encounter comedians Laurel & Hardy looking for work at the lodge. (Despite the fact that both gentlemen had passed away by the time this show came out in 1972.) "The Ghost of Bigfoot" has scared everyone away from the ski lodge where they're staying but Mr. Crabtree, who hides in his room. While the kids try to figure out what's going on with the lodge, Shaggy and Scooby wonder about the strange ski instructor with the odd accent. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Malls and Harts

Started my morning around 8 AM with Dough or Die and my journal, then breakfast. I was admiring the considerable DVD collection Lauren and her parents have in their living room when she came upstairs. We hit the road at 9. There was no traffic anywhere, not in Lee or on the Mass Pike. It was still cloudy when we left. It even showered a little bit on the road, though it didn't really amount to anything. Lauren pulled into the smaller shopping center just outside of the Holyoke Mall at a little after 10.

Explored a few of the other stores in the mall first. They have a huge, two-story Barnes & Noble. Lauren didn't find anything here, but I picked up the fifth entry in the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz,  The Solace of Bay Leaves. (I'll keep looking for the fourth, Chai Another Day.) I didn't see anything I needed at TJ Maxx, but Lauren bought two long-sleeved shirts. 

We had lunch two doors down from Barnes & Noble at Red Robin. The only noise I heard when we arrived were the sports shows talking about last night's football games. We must have been the first ones there. We both had iced teas and shared the towering stack of onion rings. She had the Crispy Fish Sandwich with a huge pile of steamed broccoli. I had a Red Robin Gourmet Cheesburger with fries. The sandwiches were so slippery, we ended up eating the fillings off the buns. Lauren took most of that big mountain of broccoli home with her.

Lauren parked us near one of the main entrances around noon. We decided to start at Round 1 first, before the kids got out of school and invaded the place. Spent the next hour running from giant Pac Man to Bust-a-Move to Nerf Arcade and that pirate spinning wheel. Played Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy pinball and tried throwing balls at clown figures. I did much better at Lane Master bowling (three strikes in a row!) and skee ball. I also got a small stuffed Hello Kitty out of a crane for the daughter of a friend. I amassed over 2,700 points, but ultimately decided to save them for when I'm able to carry more at home.

Spent the next three hours ducking in and out of stores. I just used the bathroom at Macy's, but Lauren bought two pretty flowered blouses, one in orange, and one in yellow. Lauren didn't get anything at JC Penney, but I found an orange t-shirt on clearance for $5.50 to replace the orange Eddie Bauer t-shirt whose hem unraveled. We peeked at Stateline Video Games and GameStop, but Stateline was ridiculously expensive for a store that mainly sold used merchandise, and Lauren didn't see anything she wanted at GameStop. 

While downstairs, I bought the original cast CD for the Tyne Daly Call Me Madam Encores concert and Good Times: The Complete Series at FYE. Lauren picked up a mini-Light Brite at Alex Bath & Toys and an anniversary present for her mother at a toy and gift shop. We browsed around Hot Topic, but no one got anything there. I forgot my suntan lotion. Lauren suggested picking up a travel-sized bottle at Target.

Had an early dinner at 99 Restaurant near Macy's. They're basically the same thing as Red Robin, trading the kitschy pop culture decor for local sports jerseys and photos. I had a tasty fried chicken wrap with barbecue sauce, cole slaw, and a Diet Pepsi. Lauren had a bowl of decadent macaroni and cheese and a lemonade. We had very sweet slices of Key Lime Pie for dessert. 

I realized as we left that we forgot to hit Old Navy on our first trip around the mall. They were busy, but we both walked out with something. I found two cute floral blouses, one in green, one in dark brick red. Old Navy was having a buy 2 t shirts, get each for $10 sale, so I got them both. Lauren bought a tank top and a t-shirt. 

Lauren said her cell phone was running down too quickly. We stopped at Best Buy to buy a wire for it and a battery pack. She grabbed those two items, and we were in and out. 

No trouble driving home, either. No traffic whatsoever. It remained cloudy, though not to the degree of earlier. The sun didn't even try to come out until we were very nearly back at Lauren's house, and we were treated to a rather nice pink and blue sunset.

We showed our finds to Lauren's parents, and then I hit the shower. I finished the night online. Watched Hart to Hart on Tubi. None other than Batman himself, Adam West, plays the husband of a woman who is cheating on him with a tennis star in "Love Game." Another stockbroker is blackmailing to reveal his messing around. The tennis pro is supposed to be helping Jennifer with a tournament. Jonathan and Jennifer try to figure out what's going on, especially when the lady turns up dead and everyone thinks it's a robbery.

The original Sailor Moon and its remake Sailor Moon Crystal are on Hulu. Decided to finally give the remake a try. The first almost exactly the same as the first episode of the redubbed series, with the same voices. It just has a wispier colored pencil art style that's closer to the mangas these are based on. "Act 1-Usagi" relates Usagi's first encounter with Luna, Luna giving her the magical broach and wand, and how she defeated a monster who was posing as her friend Naru's mother to suck human energy.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Travels With My Whammy

Instead of starting the day with the usual novel, I read a short children's book and three short stories about vacations. Samantha Parkington is looking forward to spending her summer vacation at Piney Point in the Adirondack Mountains with her family. She and the twins Agnes and Agatha discover a scrapbook of artwork her mother did when she was a baby at Teardrop Island. Unfortunately, the island is surrounded by jagged rocks that eventually killed Samantha's parents. After Samantha and the twins are stranded on the island during a storm, Samantha Saves the Day when she navigates them through the rocks in order to help the kindly old Admiral who got a head injury while looking for them. 

"Paddington Takes the Road" when the town he and the Browns are staying at celebrate the Tour De France passing through. Paddington remodels a tricycle so he can join the race. Trouble is, he sort of forgot to put the brakes back on...

Donald Duck never seemed to do well on vacation. His nephews run him ragged when he takes them to Anaheim in the late 50's. He sees them in so many places and scary rides while on the train, "Donald Duck In Disneyland" eventually decides the Jungle Cruise and Tomorrowland Speedway are safer. He fares even less well on an earlier trip to "The Grand Canyon" with Mickey. He ends up falling off his burro and into the canyon. Mickey also braves rapids to rescue him.

Had breakfast and made the bed while watching The New Scooby Doo Movies. Scooby Doo is probably the last franchise you'd cross with Batman, but the kids from Mystery Inc actually appeared with the Dynamic Duo several times, including in two episodes of this series. "The Caped Crusader Caper" has them encountering Batman and Robin during a camping trip. Joker and The Penguin kidnapped a scientist, hoping to steal the flying suit he made for robberies. While Batman searches for the wayward villains, the kids find the scientist and try to keep his suit out of the wrong hands.

Called Uber around 10:20. A nice Asian gentleman picked me up within 12 minutes. I wanted to leave early to avoid traffic in Philly. Thankfully, most of it was going in the opposite direction. It was slightly backed up on the Schuylkill Expressway, but nothing horrible. He pulled up at the 30th Street Station around 10:50. 

I love 30th Street Station. It's a beautiful Art Deco monument that more closely resembles the lobby of a grand hotel than a train station. I feel more elegant just walking around in there. I did stop at the news shop to buy a sparkling water, but I mainly walked around or read Dough or Die while I was there. And I was there for a little longer than planned. The train was supposed to arrive at 12:05. It suddenly jumped to 12:14 while I was in line for it and didn't finally pull out of the station until almost 12:30. 

The train to Philly was no picnic, either. It was so busy, I jumped into the last seats in the car next to the baggage. A big lady going to Boston squished in next to me. She ate a fried chicken sandwich for lunch while I had an apple-chicken salad from the Acme. 

Thankfully, everything went much better once the train finally pulled into New York. Despite the showers and gray skies that continued the entire day, every other train left on time. Moynihan Train Hall was busy, but not any more or less than it usually is. I used the bathroom, then ate an apple and a granola bar while watching a family with two boys playing and having their own snacks. 

No trouble on the train to Albany, either. The train left right on time. The view going to Albany is spectacular. It was really foggy over the river during the first half, but once the fog cleared out around 4 PM, I was able to admire quaint little lighthouses, crumbling factories, towering green mountains, and churning gray waters. The train actually pulled into Albany 10 minutes early. Fortunately, Lauren checked Amtrak's website all day and knew to arrive early.

Our original choice for dinner is closed on Mondays. We ended up at My Place & Co, a small bar and restaurant in Schodack, New York. It's basic bar food, sandwiches and wraps and salads. Lauren had a "Rocket Reuben," a roast beef wrap with cheddar and horseradish she said was excellent. My Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich was decent, if a little slippery. The fries were disappointing, bland and limp, but the cole slaw wasn't bad. Dessert was much better. She had a chocolate cream pie. I had an amazingly chocolate-y and rich five-layer chocolate fudge cake.

We pulled into Lauren's house around 8 PM. I spent the rest of the evening watching more Press Your Luck in honor of its 40th anniversary today. Luck goes back further than most people know. It originally debuted as Second Chance on ABC in 1977. Three contestants answer multiple choice questions. They get a chance to change their mind about their answer if they think someone else has a better one. The more spins they amass, the more they're able to play the board. If they land on a prize or money, they can keep it. If they land on a devil, they lose everything. Jim Peck was the good-natured host. 

I have to admit, the ability to change your answer was pretty cool. I wish they kept that aspect for Press Your Luck. The board, on the other hand, is cramped and primitive, and the devils aren't quite as much fun as the Whammies. (Plus, The Joker's Wild already kind of covered the devil thing.) Despite this show's short run, it seems to be well-liked by those who saw it in 1977, and I really wish more than 2 episodes and the pilot existed. 

Second Chance was retooled in 1983 as Press Your Luck on CBS. Same idea, only the ability to change your answer was eliminated to move the trivia rounds along, and the devils were replaced by funny little red monster characters called "Whammies" who took your cash and prizes. Peter Tomarken was the snarky and energetic host. (Incidentally, the Whammies were designed by animator and director "Savage" Steve Holland, and yes, they do look like something from his films of the late 80's.) 

Press Your Luck may be best-known today for the scandal it ran into during the second year of its run. In 1984, a man named Michael Larson ended up amassing more than $100, 000 in cash and prizes by memorizing the random patterns on the board. He played for so long, the episode he appeared in was broken into two parts. CBS ultimately decided it wasn't cheating, and his winnings stood as the all-time high score on a network game show until the debut of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 1999. 

Press Your Luck proved to be a ratings winner in re-runs, not only on USA, but on Game Show Network in its early years, too. The re-runs were so popular, GSN finally revived it as Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck in 2002. Same idea, but the Whammies are now done in 3-D computer animation. There's also the dreaded "Double Whammy." If a contestant gets hit with a Whammy twice or more in a row, they also get hit with whatever animation the Whammy's doing, like snow for a snowboarder. Todd Newton was the enthusiastic host. This one wasn't bad, and it's really a shame it only managed two seasons. 

Press Your Luck continued to be popular in re-runs well into the new millennium, enough that ABC brought it back again in 2019 as part of its "Summer Fun & Games" block. Elizabeth Banks becomes the show's first female host, and the Whammies are once again done in 2-D animation. The big difference here is, to pad the show to an hour, a Bonus Round is added to the end. The winner of the first two rounds gets a chance to do the board one more time and either pick up even more and bigger prizes...if they can avoid the Whammies! 

Watch out for Whammies as you explore the history behind one of TV's most heart-stopping and hilarious game shows! 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Rainy Day Matches

Started off the morning with breakfast and Garfield In Hollywood. Jon enters Garfield and Odie in a TV pet talent show after he sees their dance act. Despite their embarrassment over Jon's idea of an act, they do manage to win a trip to Hollywood and a chance to compete in the finals. Garfield is determined to become a star no matter what, but Jon worries that fame may mean leaving him behind.

Headed off to work on a gorgeous, sunny, windy morning. We were only busy during the noon rush hour, and then partially because there were only two cashiers open for a while. Thank heavens there were no problems this time like Friday. Once we got past rush hour, it died pretty fast. The rain that arrived mid-way through the day helped there, too. I was in and out with no trouble whatsoever.

I stepped into showers. While not a huge downpour, it was raining a little more than I thought it would. I had to do the laundry anyway, so I rode home and got pre-wet. I saw quite a few people out and about for a rainy day too, including a father and his young son out for a walk and several dog-walkers.

Changed, then took my laundry downstairs and relaxed while watching the Press Your Luck 40th Anniversary Marathon for a while. One episode had two contestants Whammy out in the end. The winner got by with a trip to Mazatlan. The one I watched when I got home ended with a sudden win by a very happy gentleman who beat an all-time winner. You should have seen him get out of his seat and cheer! Later on, a lady was thrilled to win a barrage of prizes over two young men, including trips on a cruise and to Tokyo. 

Had dinner, then brought my laundry upstairs, and did as much packing as I could. Finished on YouTube with tonight's Match Game Classics marathon. Richard Dawson was by far the most popular of the three regulars on Match Game in its early years. A list of his best episodes would probably take all month. His good looks and wry humor made him a favorite with viewers and contestants alike. 

In one 1975 episode, he responded to "Trench __" in the Audience Match with "trench hand," then jokingly asked for donations to eradicate it. He didn't get along well with Brett - they were too much alike, and really too fond of the spotlight. At one point after he gave a teasing answer, she jumped out with fists and mock-threatened to clobber him. He was often the center of the hug-and-kiss fests that would occur after a contestant won a Head-to-Head, getting very into kissing the ladies! Once, he even kissed Gene. 

As a single man, he frequently flirted with just about every mildly attractive woman who passed through. He was delighted when one pretty lady sheepishly admitted she "fools around" and offered her his phone number! He helped Gene when the zippers on his boot broke and ended up taking them off all together. And then there was the infamous PM episode where Gene bet Richard his answer of "color television" for "Admiral __" wouldn't come up on the Audience Match...

Give a kiss to the most suave and brilliant Match Game panelist of all in this wild marathon!

(Oh, and while the rain slowed a bit by the time I got home, it's been off and on, sometimes heavily, for the rest of the night.) 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

A Fair Day for a Harvest

Began the morning off with Strawberry Shortcake again. Strawberry goes "Around the Berry World" in 80 days when mouthy Ginger Snap bets the Purple Pieman that she can do it. Peppermint Fizz ends up accidentally joining her. Peppermint moans and groans every time something bad happens, but Strawberry won't let anything slow her down, not broken boat hulls or busted tires or the interference of the Pieman and Sour Grapes. 

Headed out the moment Strawberry ended. It was too nice not to! We hadn't had such a perfect, gorgeous day in ages. Sunny and warm but not too hot, with a cool wind blowing under a bright pale blue sky. It was just the right type of day for running my remaining errands. 

Started off at the Collingswood Farm Market. Needless to say, they were packed with people buying produce for school lunches, Rosh Hashanah dinners, and the last barbecues of the season. Berries and peaches are gone, but I saw the first Brussels sprouts, gooseberries, winter squash, pumpkins, and pears of the season. I figured Cortland apples and grapes would be enough for the week. 

My back bike tire was completely bald, with not a speck of tread left on it. I was surprised it lasted as long as it did. I'd been wanting to take it to the Collingswood Bike Share and ask them if they had a spare back tire I could use, but I never had the time until today. Yes, they did have a tire I could use. It wasn't brand new, but it was in good shape and had a lot more tread than my old one! I stood by while the gentleman put it on and oiled my dry chain. Ten minutes later, I was off again.

After a quick stop at WaWa for Propel, I headed back across the street and into Westmont. As I rode along Westmont Road, I noticed a blockade and an officer with a squad car blocking off the part of Crystal Lake Road around the pool area. A balloon arch in soft autumn shades hovered over her vehicle. I totally forgot about the Fall Festival Haddon Township holds every year. It's basically a smaller version of the May Fair in Collingswood, with games, craft booths, a merry-go-round, tilt-a-whirl, and bounce houses for the kids, food trucks, and a classic car show. I bought two small stuffed animals made from soft yarn for me and for Lauren and a kiddie cup of Black Cherry Bordeaux water ice from Primo's booth before heading on.

The real reason I was in Haddon Township was because I thought the Haddonfield Library was having its big book sale today. I didn't realize until I arrived that it was last weekend. I ended up using their bathroom and moving on.

Oh well. Since it was on my way, I made my way back to the Fall Festival at Crystal Lake Road. The classic car show was only a block and not nearly as big as the one in May, but there were still a few beauties there. I took photos of them for Lauren. Tossed ping-pong balls into little plastic fish bowl containers because it was sponsored by Ovations Dance Studio, where my niece Finley takes her lessons. The teachers in charge of the booth seemed to know her well and praised her work and how cute she was. Won three cheap, bright-colored velvet scrunchies. 

Made two quick stops when I got back into Oaklyn. Needed pads at Family Dollar; grabbed a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, too. Bought three pretzels for later and a Cheesesteak-filled Pretzel for lunch from the pretzel shop.

When I got home, I went straight into lunch and The Wacky World of Mother Goose at YouTube. I go further into this Rankin-Bass retelling of several nursery rhymes at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

(Oh, and I won't be doing reviews while I'm on vacation, but I will be updating this blog as usual. Regular reviews will resume the 26th, the day I come back.)

Spent the rest of the afternoon online, working on writing. Joyce can't help being nervous about the deep, scary woods they're passing through. Charles is only slightly less scared. He hopes there's nothing out there that eats hay. It's Rover, however, who sees the short metal man rusting by the river...

Watched Buzzr's Press Your Luck 40th Anniversary marathon while I worked. I came in just as a woman won a car on her last remaining turn that was enough to make  her the champ. I'd already seen some of the episodes (like the one where the guy cheered very loudly to the crowd after he surprisingly won over $11,000 in cash and prizes), but others were new to me. We even got a Christmas episode with a Whammy chorus. 

Finished the night after dinner and a shower with the Match Game Saturday Classics marathon on YouTube. Comedienne Marcia Wallace was on Match Game for so long, she started early in '74 and made her last appearance towards the end of the 1990-91 run. Her down-to-earth sarcasm and moxie made her a stand-out among some of the weirder or more cutesy characters who turned up on the show. 

Her willingness to mouth off got her into trouble once. One of her answers during a 1977 PM episode was censored. Another time, Gene and Richard played tic tac toe on her bare shoulders after the former got marker on them. There was also the time when she got her first match after many, many misses and everyone in the studio cheered. During the syndicated episodes, she asked Gene to spray her dress so it wouldn't stick to her thighs, sat briefly in Brett's spot while she was doing a play, and listened while a contestant went on and on about the worms she had to feed her daughter's frogs. 

Match wits and answers with Bart Simpson's favorite teacher and Bob Newhart's favorite receptionist in this wacky marathon!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Guardians and Detectives

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast and the new series of Doc McStuffins shorts on Disney Plus. The Doc & Bella are In introduces Bella Bunnynose, a stuffed rabbit who wants to be a toy doctor like Doc. Doc makes her an intern and gives her a badge every time she learns something new. "Intern at the Clinic" introduces her and her desire to be a doctor. "Tools of the Trade" shows her (and the audience) the tools a doctor uses for check-ups as she checks out Chilly. "A Check In for a Check Up" shows how check ups work when Bella takes care of Stuffy. She and Doc teach everyone about splints and keeping a hurt limb straight when "Lambie Gets a Crease." (I like the unique stop motion-esque animation used for this. All the characters really look like plastic toys.)

Karen picked me up at 9:30. She already had the young woman who joined us at the Rowan University job fair in July with her. We were joined by one more woman, an older lady who lived in a condo near Haddonfield. She chattered on about the job fair all the way to Cherry Hill.

The job fair was in the same area at the Cherry Hill Mall it was in May, the Grand Concourse where the three wings of the building converge. There were a lot more people around this time, and slightly more companies. No Comcast or Walgreens, but I did talk to Sun Newspapers again. Also told the Camden County Career Services I'm looking for a better job. The lady there said to e-mail her when I get back from vacation. She might have ideas that'll help me, too. She also suggested testing to see how fast I type. I know I can type fast, but not exactly how fast.

I honestly got more out of talking to the young woman than I did the job fair. She hoped to be a graphics designer or an artist; she doodled sketches on the folder with her resumes. We both admitted it could be pretty interesting looking younger than you were. I told her about wanting to be a writer. She told me about her side job selling her own jewelry. 

(Oh, and yes, I did come home with more goodies. The best this time around was the metal liquid bottle I got from an air conditioning company. I also came home with a squeezy silver star, two tiny red and green balls, 18 pens, three tote bags, a plastic water bottle I gave to a friend, an extra-long nail file, three containers of sugar-free mints - I gave two of them to that friend and her daughter - and a whistle for my keychain, along with candy I ate there.)

When I got home, I went straight into lunch and into some classic Match Game '77. In the first episode, an older woman accidentally slipped and said "retarded" when she meant "retired." The second episode had Gene telling a very tall contestant he'd bring him down to bringing out an extremely short stagehand.

Switched to the second Michael Shayne movie on that collection I picked up last month, Sleepers West. Shayne (Lloyd Nolan) is escorting Helen Carlson (Mary Beth Hughes), who is the only witness to a murder trial on a train going from Denver to San Francisco. Her testimony could free a falsely-accused man and keep a crooked politician from being elected. Of course, it turns out that Shayne's old flame Kay Bartley (Lynn Bari), a reporter, is also on board...and that her fiancee Tom Linscott (Don Douglass) is an equally-corrupt associate of the politician in question. Doesn't help that there's train detectives who think Shayne's not on the level and goons trying to get rid of Helen, not to mention Kay smells a story...

Tough little noir is at its best in the confines on the train. It's less interesting near the end, when the engine catches fire and they all grab a taxi to San Francisco instead. It was good enough to make me look forward to checking out the rest of Michael Shayne's cinematic career.

Worked on writing for a while after the movie ended. Joyce explains how she acquired Rover as she and Charles walk further into the forest. She found him rooting around in the trash and sneaked him into Television City, but Ira reminded her that a TV studio is no place for scruffy, untrained dogs. She ran off with Rover when guards looked like they were chasing her.

Got my schedule online at this point. Thankfully after the last two weeks, I work a perfectly normal 10:30 to 4 on Sunday...and after that, it's vacation time! Working that early will give me plenty of time to finish packing and do the laundry, too. 

Headed out around 2:30. I wish I hadn't. Even with just four hours and it not being that busy, I was such a mess today. I forgot to ring up three coupons and totally messed up an order. I really wish people wouldn't mix up the Multi-Meal and 4 for 20 meat sales. They're different sales with different labels in different coolers. The lady bought the wrong item for the Multi-Meal sales. I got the right one, then forgot to ring up the rest of them. Of course they didn't come off. How could I be so careless? I was angry at myself for the rest of the night. 

Hurried home fast as I could. Went right into dinner and more Match Game '77. Handsome Tom Hallick of The Young and the Restless joined in this week, while Dick Martin took over for Charles Nelson Reilly. The episode started off with Gene insisting he was drinking grapefruit juice and not anything stronger. (He couldn't. He took medication that didn't allow him to drink.) I'm surprised no one craved chocolate when there was a question about what an astronaut saw covering the Milky Way and we had a very sweet answer to "__ Henry" on the Audience Match.

Finished the night with Sailor Moon R: The Movie, which is currently on YouTube for free. Usagi, Chibi-Usa, and the Guardians are shocked when a young alien claiming to be a friend of Mamoru's turns up, offering him a flower. Mamoru doesn't remember him, but Artemis and Luna know the flower on his lapel. It's a deadly blossom that sucks up the energy of everything it comes up to, leaving it a shell. She coaxed the young alien into believing that he'll only have Mamoru's friendship back if he doesn't share it. Sailor Moon and the girls know better...and they're the ones who show him that there's nothing so wonderful in this world to be shared as friendship and flowers.

Stuck with the second season for the unique episode "The Beach, the Island, and a Vacation; The Guardians' Break." For once, the Guardians battle nature, rather than a villain, when they help Chibi-Usa free the baby and mother dinosaurs who saved her from sharks before their cave home is destroyed by lava.