I Love Rock n' Roll
Started out the morning with breakfast and more Rick Steves. Steves moves from France to Belgium to visit the headquarters of NATO in Brussels and a world-class chocolate shop and Flemish art in Bruges. This is one of my favorites of the Rick Steves episodes I own. How can you not love a country that takes chocolate, bike-riding, French fries (there called Flemish fries), waffles, and world peace seriously?
Switched to Rock of Ages while cleaning out the area under the sink, where I keep my pots, pans, mixing bowls, and leftovers containers. This goofy musical uses hard-rock and pop songs of the late 80s to tell the tale of a young woman named Sherrie (Julliane Hough) who comes to Hollywood in 1987 to make it big as a rock star. She meets Drew (Diego Boneta), who works in the famous rock club The Bourbon Room and is also looking for a chance for fame. The club's owner (Alec Baldwin) is deep in debt and may lose the venue to the city if he can't make money soon. He has high hopes for the last concert of Arsenal, whose legendary lead singer, Stacee Jackx (Tom Cruise), is leaving the band to go solo. Meanwhile, Los Angelas' mayor (Bryon Cranston) and his very religious wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are determined to clean up the mean streets of the city...and get rid of the rock and rollers for good.
I absolutely loved this. Everyone was having a total blast, from Cruise as the drugged-up Jackx, to Paul Giamatti as his sleazy manager, to Russell Brand as Baldwin's loony stage manager, to Mary J. Blidge as the owner of a strip club where Sherrie ends up at towards the end of the movie. This is the quintessential feel-good, guilty pleasure musical, not all that far removed from Xanadu or Grease 2 in the real 80s.
That said, I can also understand why it's received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike and was a flop at the box office last summer. I haven't seen the still-running Broadway show this is based on, but it's apparently quite different, with a tougher plot and no happy ending, which may alienate fans. What plot is there is feather-weight and rather silly; it's basic boy-meets-girl. If you want a musical with a message or a meatier story, you might want to check out Les Miserables instead.
If you have fond memories of the late 80s, are a fan of the hard rock and pop from the era, or are into any of the cast, I highly recommend it. Give it a chance when you need a pick-me-up; I guarantee you'll be belting Journey with the cast by the finale.
I went for a walk around noon. It was still too warm, but otherwise really lovely. It was so warm, I wore sandals and shorts for the first time this year. The sudden rise in temperatures has been a boon to the flora. The trees are finally in bloom, with flowers bursting from every branch. Hyacinths have joined the daffodils, crocus, and jonquils in many gardens. Lawns are an explosion of pale green grass, sun-yellow dandelions, and tiny little white and blue flowers. The magnolia trees are just starting to show off their pink and white petals. I was originally going to volunteer at the Oaklyn Library, but it was so nice, I strolled around the neighborhood instead. I wasn't the only one out. I passed several dog walkers, and many parents played with their younger children in front lawns and on porches.
When I got in, I finished Rock of Ages, made a quick Taco Chicken Soup for lunch from the contents of my refrigerator and a can of tomato sauce, then went to work. Work was busy off and on, but not nearly as bad as it has been. Other than a few annoying customers, there were no major problems and plenty of help. I was in and out.