Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Feel Good

I started a beautiful, sunny morning with Get On Up: The James Brown Story. This is almost the same plot as Jersey Boys - same time period (mid 50's through mid 70's) and similar ups and downs, different perspective, race, and musical genre. James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) is one of the most dynamic performers of the mid-20th century. His songs give off nothing but raw energy. His concerts are electric. His life off the stage is far more turbulent. Having been abandoned by his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) as a child, he's determined to make it on his own. He does have a supportive aunt (Octavia Spencer) and a best friend (Nelsan Ellis) who mostly sticks by him. While he goes on to be a pioneer of everything from live recordings to civil rights, his lavish lifestyle finally catches up to him, and even his closest friends question his desperate need for independence.

I'm going to mostly disagree with the critics here. I thought this movie was dynamic. Chadwick Boseman was amazing as Brown - some of his moves in the concerts were incredible. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in the era depicted and never saw the real Brown perform, even on television, but I loved the concert footage. My favorite was that awesome "funkadelic" show towards the end of the movie with Brown in a barely-there shirt and the dancers in huge Afros. Tate Taylor, who did The Help a few years ago, is certainly more in tune with the material than Clint Eastwood was with his musical.

The downside is all the jumping around. I think things could have worked even better if they let the story flow linearly, rather than skipping all over Brown's life. There's also the fact that, yeah, the plot's nothing new. Like I said, Jersey Boys is an almost identical story. I also wish they'd done more with Brown talking directly to the camera in the middle of the film - that was a nice touch.

That said, this is still worth a look if you're a fan of Brown or classic R&B, and I frankly recommend it over Jersey Boys. They may tell somewhat similar tales, but this one has the more vibrant performers and musical numbers.

I headed out around 11 to get my laundry done. Not that I had much to do. It was a tiny load that barely took an hour to wash. The laundromat wasn't even busy. There was maybe two people when I was coming and one as I was heading out.

When I got home, I finished Get On Up as I put my clothes away. As soon as that was over, I grabbed my books and DVDs and went out the door for this week's first library run. I made a quick stop at Phillies Phatties for lunch. It was such a beautiful day, I ate my slices of mushroom and cheese pizza and drank my can of Diet Pepsi outside on the wooden benches across from the stores.

Cut across Haddon Lake Park on my way to the library. It was gorgeous there this afternoon. The trees are getting greener and greener every day. Dandelions, buttercups, and wildflowers carpet the banks of the bottle-green river. I wasn't surprised to dodge several dog walkers and joggers. A mother and her three daughters played on the banks on the very end of the lake down by Cuthbert Road.

The Haddon Township Library was surprisingly busy for a nice day. Even so, there wasn't really much to do. I shelved some kids' DVDs, but they weren't overloaded (I couldn't fit a few S titles in again). The adult titles are still overloaded. There's a pile of M.T, and W titles, including several multi-disc TV shows, that just will not go in the overloaded slots. There weren't even any audio books to put away. I shelved one opera CD.

I did take out a few DVDs, all animation this time. (I still have some live-action movies at home I haven't watched, not to mention the rest of Remember WENN's fourth season.) I decided to give Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown another shot after I didn't get to it last time I had it out. Warner's budget disc Snoopy and Friends features two beagle-themed Peanuts specials I haven't seen in years, Snoopy's Reunion and It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown. Disney's been putting out a series of odd Flash-animated Mickey Mouse shorts online and between programming on The Disney Channel for the past year or so. They're collected together in Mickey Mouse, Vol. 1.

On my way home, I stopped at Phillies Yummies for a treat. I had this year's first small cup of my favorite cotton candy Yum Yum (creamier, grittier water ice). It was a good time for it. The kids were just out of school. I had a lot of fun watching them hurry by, chasing and teasing each other. Some even stopped at Yummies for treats.

Spent the next few hours cleaning my bathroom. The bathtub in particular was really grimy. Must have been those baths I took during my birthday week. Since I had everything out, I also scrubbed the bathroom and hall floors. I only do that twice a year, usually in April and October. I was able to open the bathroom window and let the floors dry a little faster. I ran my James Brown and Four Seasons greatest hits records as I worked.

I had a pleasant dinner of salmon in red wine sauce with sauteed zucchini and yellow squash and salad with homemade balsamic dressing for dinner while watching the Mickey Mouse Flash shorts. These are all done with a sketchy style that deliberately returns to the "rubber hose" animation of the late 20's and 30's.

The feel, on the other hand, is extremely modern. It makes for a mixed bag, to say the least. Some of the cartoons are rather sweet. I loved "O Sole Minnie" (Mickey woos waitress Minnie in Venice) and "Croissant De Triumphe" (Mickey will do anything - including riding his scooter off the top of Notre Dame - to bring croissants to Minnie's cafe). Others, like "Dog Show" (Goofy accidentally injures Pluto, so Mickey enters him in a dog show instead) and "Bad Ear Day" (Mickey somehow loses his ears on his way to a date with Minnie) were just plain weird. The funniest was the last one, "Tapped Out." Mickey, Donald, and Goofy take on Peg Leg Pete (with a blond wig) in the wrestling ring, proving that three heads can occasionally be better than one.

Since I had dinner early, I went for a stroll in the neighborhood around 6 PM. It was such a gorgeous day. CBS fussed about possible storm warnings later today. If there were storms, they must have gone north or blown themselves out. All we had was wind, sun, and a few clouds. It's so beautiful outside now. The tulips are up, in all their red, purple, yellow, orange, and white brilliance. The lilacs are just starting to bloom. There were lots of people out and about with me, kids playing catch and adults chatting on porches or starting barbecues.

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