Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Doctor and the Dancer Are In!

Started the morning with the Dear America book Love Thy Neighbor, a rare look at the Loyalist (loyal to the English) side of the Revolutionary War. I just finished a Dear America book with the opposite view point, Winter of the Red Snow, about a Patriot family in Valley Forge when George Washington and his troops were camped there. While I did like Winter of the Red Snow, I'm enjoying Love Thy Neighbor more. Spirited Prudence, who wants answers to all her questions about why her Tory family is being treated badly in their Massachusetts village, is an enjoyable character, and it's a side of American history that you just don't often see explored. 

I finished out the Rick Steves' Europe disc as I ate my Cheerios and blueberries for breakfast. Rick explored elegant York in Northern England and fashionable Bath in southwestern England. I somewhat enjoyed Bath more, especially the hilarious "Bizarre Bath" actor who gave tours with random information.

Given this is the day before one of the only major summer holidays in the US, you won't be surprised to hear it was busy all afternoon. There were tons of people shopping for their barbecues tomorrow, and tons more doing their beginning-of-the-month shopping. Other than one woman who miscounted and had to put back nearly half her order (and held up the line to the point where it had to be moved), there were no major problems. It slowed down enough by 4PM for me to leave without a relief. 

I grabbed things to make a pudding pie for Dad's 4th of July party tomorrow before I headed out. When I did, I discovered why it had slowed down. It was cloudy and sprinkling when I got in. By 4PM, it was really wet again, but I had once again managed to miss the worst of the weather. The rain was slowing down as I left and done when I made it home.

Given the crazy weather (it's poured briefly at least twice more since I came home), I was in for the rest of the evening. I ran Doc McStuffins while I made the pudding pie and had spinach and mushrooms with a leftover poached chicken leg and steamed snap peas for dinner. Dottie "Doc" McStuffins loves to imitate her physician mother by taking care of toys and stuffed animals who have ouches and boo-boos. Doc's adored by her own stuffed menagerie, including Lambie the cuddly lamb, Stuffy the Dragon, and the snowman who thinks he's melting (despite him being made of cotton and beans). My favorite episode was a "Doctoring the Doc." When Doc comes down with a fever, her favorite toys try to take care of her like she cares for them.

I can see why this show is one of Disney Junior's biggest hits. It's one of the few current kids' shows to avoid the interactivity bug and just present a fun story. The characters are a blast too, especially hilarious Stuffy and good-natured Doc herself. The lessons about good hygiene and getting along with a variety of friends can sometimes be a tad heavy-handed, but that goes with the age the show's intended for. Highly recommended for just about anyone, including adults who are otherwise wary of little kids' shows. 

Switched to Yankee Doodle Dandy after dinner. I always watch this ultra-patriotic musical "biography" of Broadway composer, actor, and director George M. Cohan on or around the 4th of July. It's a tradition that goes back to when Mom (who loves this movie) would run it on the 4th during the late 80s and early 90s. Cohan was the beloved author of many still-performed standards of the early 20th century, such as "Harrigan," "Mary's a Grand Old Name," "Over There," "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Billie," "You're a Grand Old Flag," and the title song. He was literally born to the theater, traveling around with his family for years before finally establishing himself in the hit Little Johnny Jones. He partners with producer/playwright Sam Harris to bring many more shows to Broadway, and even more to the troops during World War I.

There's a lot more to Cohan's story than what turned up here, including a fight with Equity that soured him on producing and directing later in life and a second wife. Given this had the approval of Cohan himself, it goes without saying that none of it turns up here. What we do have here are grand sets and costumes, delightful numbers recreating Cohan's time period, a great supporting cast (including Joan Leslie as Cohan's wife Mary and Walter Huston as his father), and an Oscar-winning turn by James Cagney as Cohan. If you're a fan of Cohan, the turn of the 20th century, the history of that time period, Cagney, or musicals, this is absolutely recommended. 

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