Thursday, August 09, 2018

Garden of Delights

Began another hot, sunny morning with breakfast and more Backyardigans. Tyrone, Tasha, and Pablo are explorers who "Follow the Feather" to find the mystical Flying Polka Pony. The feather turns out to be the clue to get the trio through the Temple of the Feather and across a feather-shaped Tibetian valley, with the help of "mysterious lady" Uniqua.

Worked on writing for a few hours. Leia and the group catches sight of Luke, Artie, and Yoda as they arrive at the hotel. Leia tries to warn Luke, but it's too late. He's already gone after Vader in the hotel. Leia follows her wayward brother...only to see Vader drag him upstairs, saying that she'll come if she wants to see the Sword of Light or Luke again. And meanwhile, Fettara is still outside with Harry in the crate, ready to head for the nearest plane to the US...

Broke for lunch and more Backyardigans at noon. Uniqua discovers she has "Flower Power" when pricking her finger on a strange blossom gives her the abilities of plants. She has to save Garden City and its residents from the evil Gloom Meister (Austin), before he destroys all the color in the city!

Tried the other bag of frozen smoothie mix that Rose gave me. Yum! Who knew apples, kale, spinach, mint, cucumber, and bananas could taste so good together? The green color didn't bother me, either. I drank Kool-Aid as a kid. I've seen greener beverages than that!

Charlie had been working on the outside of my path-side window while I was finishing up my writing and drinking my smoothie. I ignored his muttered curses and went downstairs to check out the produce he mentioned yesterday. Not only did he have tomatoes, but his garden along the edge of the area between our property and the park also featured green peppers and odd, flat green beans. The beans in particular were numerous and so heavy, they were ready to fall off the vine. I chose two tomatoes, five beans for a meal later in the week, and a pepper. (Declined the cucumbers, though. I still have half of that monster Charlie gave me last week in the fridge.) Told Charlie what I'd taken, then grabbed my books and DVDs to return and headed out.

First stop was the Oaklyn Library. They were pretty busy for them, with a mother and her son playing Hungry Hungry Hippos in the kids' section and a college student tutoring a teen at the computers. Once again, the adult titles were mostly fine (I did have to remove stickers from one title), but the kids' area was a mess. I did the DVDs, then worked on the board books and juvenile fiction.

Went out again around 1:30, this time to the Haddon Township Library. They were almost as busy with kids and parents hiding from a hot, humid day. Once again, other people were going to shelve the DVDs, which left me with little to do. I put away audio CDs and new releases and organized the adult DVD titles.

I'm hoping to start my musical review blog next week...and some of my first reviews will before for the Audrey Hepburn-Fred Astaire classic Funny Face (I've seen it before, but not in a long time) and two flops based around beloved Broadway and off-Broadway shows, Man of La Mancha and The Fantastics. Continued my occasional explorations of the world of independent animated film with Loving Vincent, an animated biography of Vincent Van Gogh done entirely in oils.

I finally finished the last book in that stack I bought over the spring this morning and was ready to take fiction books out of the library again. Having enjoyed the last couple of mysteries I read, I stuck with those for the time being. Along with two food-focused cozy mysteries (one based around chocolate-makers, the other around a cookie bakery), I ran into one series I hadn't read in years, and another a friend loves.

I loved Stuart M. Kaminsky's Toby Peters series (about a private eye in 40's LA who solves mysteries for real-life celebrities of the time) in the 90's as a teenager, but the books stopped showing up in the Villas Library in the early 2000's, and I haven't seen them since. Now You See It, on Peters' encounter with magician Harry Blackstone, seems to have been his last book in the series before the author's death in 2009. Linda Young is a fan of the Bryant & May Peculiar Crimes Unit series (she frequently reviews them at her Cozy Nook to Read In blog), and I thought I'd give them a shot. The earliest book in the series they had was White Corridor.

Took the long way home across Newton Lake Park. The heat and humidity may be too overbearing for humans, but it's done wonders for the plant life. I don't think I've ever seen the trees and grass this green in early August. The rainbow assortment of wildflowers along the banks were almost as big as the ones around the pool in Dad's yard.

Went straight home...before I turned around and decided I needed a treat. I had just enough money left for a chocolate water ice from Phillies Yummies. Sat at the rickety wooden bench and watched three little girls ride by happily on bikes and listened to the laughter of younger children from the day care across the street.

Did some cleaning when I got home. Shook out the rug at the front door and the rag rug in my bedroom, vacuumed quickly (I didn't want to leave the air conditioner off for too long), and dusted the living area. Opted for the other Those Were the Days CD while I worked. This set features songs from earlier in the 30's like "Happy Days are Here Again," "Button Up Your Overcoat," and "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain." Finished the disc while reading over some of the non-fiction I took out of the library.

I found a recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens Jiffy Cooking cookbook that sounded workable, Mexican Skillet. Replaced the pork sausage with ground turkey, the canned tomatoes with home-made chicken stock, water, and the last of the garden tomatoes from last week, and the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt. It came out so nicely. I added red and purple peppers along with the green for even more flavor.

Ran Roberta as I ate and looked over the rest of the cookbook for meal ideas for this weekend. This is the original version of the show that became Lovely To Look At. Here, we have band leader Huckleberry Haines (Fred Astaire) and his orchestra and football player John Kent (Randolph Scott) inheriting the dress salon. Stephanie (Irene Dunne) is still designing the gowns, but Aunt Roberta (Helen Westley) is still very much alive for the first half of the film. The Countess Scharwenka (Ginger Rogers) is one of Roberta's best customers...but Huck knows her as an old friend from his home town. She manages to get them a job in the nightclub where she works while they try to play matchmaker with John and Stephanie. But there's a Russian doorman (Victor Varconi) who seems interested in Stephanie, and John has a snobbish girlfriend (Claire Dodd) back home. When they fight over a racy dress, it's up to their good friends to bring them back together in time for Roberta's big fashion show.

This is another rare case where I enjoy the remake far more than the original. Scott is totally at sea in a musical, and Dunne is only slightly better. Though Dunne does get to introduce the Oscar-nominated "Lovely To Look At," it's Astaire and Rogers who dance off with most of the movie. They introduce "I Won't Dance" to film audiences, while Rogers has fun with "I'll Be Hard to Handle."

Flying Down to Rio was the first movie to pair Astaire and Rogers. Fred's once again a band leader, Fred Ayres, who shares duties with composer Roger Bond (Gene Raymond). Bond has fallen head over heels for a stunning senorita (Dolores Del Rio) and takes the band to Brazil to pursue her. Rogers is Honey Hale, the band's singer. Bond and Belinha take off in a private plane and end up on a deserted island...but it turns out that she's already engaged. The plane eventually gives them a way out when it turns out that the hotel where they're working doesn't have an entertainment license - they'll take their show up to the sky!

Don't look for much of Fred and Ginger until the end; they're mostly there for background wisecracks. They're brought for the big Busby Berkley-imitation finale, and while the number on the plane is still pretty darn cool, their "Carioca" was the Oscar-nominee and the number that got all the attention...and set the two up as musical stars.

Neither of these movies are really top-drawer Astaire/Rogers. Roberta has some good songs and costumes and not much else. Rio has a few nifty routines, including the famous "showgirls on the plane" finale, but otherwise hasn't dated that well. Both are worth checking out once for fans of the dancers, the cast, or Busby Berkley imitations.


Linda said...

My mom and dad went to see ROBERTA on Broadway on their honeymoon.

Emma said...

Lucky! Bob Hope was in the original production. I have a studio cast LP with Jack Cassidy and Kaye Ballard that's a lot of fun, too. :)