Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cool, Cool Summer

I didn't work until 10:30 this morning, which gave me a chance to check out the American Top 40 re-run. We jumped all the way back to late August 1974, as country, hard rock, folk, soul, and novelty songs took Americans into the last weeks of the summer season. Hits that late summer included "Side Show" by Blue Magic, "Rock Me Gently" by Andy Kim, "Then Came You" by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners, "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace, "Waterloo" by ABBA, "You and Me Against the World" by Helen Reddy, "Please Come to Boston" by Dave Loggins, "I Shot the Sheriff" by Eric Clapton, "Call On Me" by Chicago, "Nothin' From Nothin'" by Billy Preston, "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" by Barry White, and the remake of "Wild Thing" by Fancy.

That week's biggest hit set a record for longest time between #1 songs. Paul Anka was a teen idol in the early 60s with smashes like "Put Your Head On My Shoulder," but his smooth vocal style fell out of fashion after tougher rock groups like the Beatles came in. He made a comeback a decade later, both as a songwriter and as a singer. "You're Having My Baby" was his first major hit in almost fifteen years.

Ran the last Schoolhouse Rock shorts as I got ready for work. Money Rock and Scooter Computer & Mr. Chips debuted in the 80s, after the original series ended. Neither were terribly well-received at the time. Some of the Money Rock shorts have worn better than others. In addition to "Tyrannosaurus Debt" (on the ever-increasing US Government debt), my favorites are the country-rock-themed "Dollars and Sense" (on banks, loans, and interest) and "$7.50 Once a Week" (on budgets and spending your money wisely).

Scooter Computer & Mr. Chips are Schoolhouse Rock's only characters to appear in more than two segments. The kid on the skateboard and his wheeled data-crunching buddy were intended to teach kids about those new home computers that were becoming more common in the early 80s. Rapidly-changing computer technology assured that they were dated almost as soon as they came out, to the point where their discussion of the BASIC programming language and floppy discs seems adorably antiquated today. Evidently, they were obscure even in the 80s. They disappeared as soon as they were shown, and were never seen anywhere again until three of them turned up on the 2-disc set. (The introductory short was considered lost until someone uploaded it to YouTube last year.)

It was showering when I went to work. Work was very busy all day. The weather didn't help; people who would have been going to the shore probably opted to avoid the rain and get things done at home. We're getting close to Labor Day, the beginning of the month, and back to school in New Jersey, too. Thankfully, there were no major problems, and my relief was a college girl who was right on time.

By the time I headed home, it was cloudy and cold for this time of year (in the mid-70s) but not raining. When I got in, I decided to warm up the apartment by baking Cinnamon Blackberry Muffins and having leftover chicken-rice-vegetable soup for dinner.

I combat the gloom with Snow White and the Three Stooges as I baked. What do the Three Stooges in their 60s incarnation with Curly Joe have to do with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves"? In this 1961 musical, they're traveling musicians who are staying in the Dwarves' house for the summer. Snow White, who is fleeing her wicked stepmother, is found there as well. She quickly falls for the Stooges' handsome adopted son. When he's captured, the Stooges go to the rescue...and then hide Snow White from her stepmother and her adviser.

Notorious among Stooge fans for concentrating more on ice ballets and less on the Stooges, I'm quite fond of this colorful and unusual comic fantasy. It's a girlie movie in a largely male-dominated fandom. Casual viewers, musical fans, and princess-crazy grade-school girls may actually get more out of it than Stooges lovers

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