Friday, August 03, 2018

Good Times, Bad Weather

Began a sunny, hazy morning with breakfast and more classic rock. I was feeling up for something a bit rougher after the Union Gap's pop and Seeger's slightly country-tinged melodies yesterday and went with Led Zepplin's self-titled debut album. This classic was surprisingly not well-received by many critics in 1969, but audiences loved their harder-edged style. It's difficult to argue with some of their most beloved hits, including "Communication Breakdown," "Good Times, Bad Times," and "Dazed and Confused."

First stop while the weather was still behaving was the laundromat. While they were already busy by quarter of 11, I was able to easily get a washer and a dryer. Ignored the news on channel 10 and worked on story notes.

The clouds were already gathering when I was at the laundromat. They got even darker as I headed home and up into the apartment. The wind went crazy, making the tarp covering the porch flap like crazy. I managed to finish putting everything away (and hang a lot of things up - I should have let them dry longer) and was just sliding the early Bruce Springsteen album The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle into the CD player when I heard the first rumble of thunder on the horizon.

Rose called as I was finishing putting my clothes away. She was ready to sign the papers for the doctor. Did I want to come over later and sign them? Sure, why not? I had no other plans for the day after a grocery run.

I'd just finished lunch when it started pouring like mad. The storm came down in full-force, pattering on the tarps and pounding on my windows. I read Mom, Inc and listened to old favorite Springsteen songs like "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "Rosalita Come Out Tonight" until I got bored waiting for the rain to end and just headed out. Though the thunder was gone by then, it was still raining hard. I was pretty wet by the time I made it to the Acme for this week's grocery shopping.

The big thing for this week was meat. I found catfish fillets in the seafood section and picked up ground turkey. Restocked skim milk, brown sugar, yogurt, cereal (the Acme is having a big "anniversary" sale - I opted to try the new Strawberry Life), canned navy beans, cake mix (chocolate and a strawberry that was on the clearance rack), and lemon juice. The Irwin Spice Wafers (ginger snaps) were cheaper than any of the breakfast bars. Talenti pint ice cream was on sale, and I had a good coupon for the low-sugar variety. Went with Vanilla-Cinnamon.

My schedule for next week is...almost exactly the same as this week. Only difference is an earlier day on Sunday. I do wish I had more hours, but given how quiet we've been for the past few weeks, I'm probably lucky to be getting these.

Though the rain was gone by the time I walked out of the store, there were more dark clouds on the horizon. I finally decided I'd be better off avoiding the storms at home. Worked on writing for a bit when I got in. Harry and Leia are in the middle of kissing when Roberto Fettara bursts in. Leia and Harry manage to get the drop on him, but only briefly. Vader and his goons show up to release Fettara and punch Harry in the stomach. Laurence follows them. Yes, he knew they were there all along. They were going to burn down the hotel if he didn't comply. Harry is shocked and angry at his friend's betrayal...and even more so when they're hustled out of the room and he realizes that Vader has a lot more than questioning in mind.

I called Rose around quarter of 6. I still hadn't heard from her. She had apparently just gotten home from work and sounded exhausted. Could we get together tomorrow or Sunday? Sure. I have no plans for after tomorrow morning or Sunday evening as of right now. (And it's probably just as well that we canceled. It rained off and on, sometimes heavily, for the rest of the night.)

Finished the night with two musicals from the mid-30's as I made chicken breasts in lemon sauce with summer vegetables and corn on the cob for dinner. The Big Broadcast of 1938 was part of Paramount's equivalent of MGM's Broadway Melody and Warners' Gold Diggers series, and in fact was the last one. It changes things up a bit by putting the radio station on a huge ocean liner involved in a race with a second liner. The owner of the Gigantic (WC Fields) sends his younger brother (also Fields) to the competing Colossal to cause trouble. He ends up on the Gigantic instead, where he proceeds to drive everyone crazy.  His clumsy and unlucky daughter Martha (Martha Raye) wrecks even more havoc. Meanwhile, radio station announcer Buzz Fielding (Bob Hope) reconnects with Joan (Shirley Ross), one of his several ex-wives, while Buzz's girlfriend Dorothy (Dorothy Lamour) falls for the ship's first officer (Leif Erickson). All the while, Buzz continues to announce specialties (including opera diva Kirsten Flagstad) and keep everyone updated on the progress of the race.

The movie is best-known today for introducing Hope's long-time theme song "Thanks for the Memories." He and Ross introduce it in a simple number that has them reminiscing about their broken marriage in a way that sounds more natural than most musicals. Everything else sort of pales beside that, although Fields has some good moments on the golf course earlier in the movie and with a game of pool, and Raye has an amazing acrobatic number with a group of sailors that has her being tossed around while still singing and must be seen to be believed.

This is the only Big Broadcast movie avalible on home media at this writing, probably because of Hope and "Thanks for the Memories." It's worth a look if you're a fan of Hope, Raye, Fields, or the Busby Berkley imitations of the 30's.

The Broadway Melody of 1936 returns us to New York and a more typical "put on a show" story. Gossip columnist Bert Keeler (Jack Benny, in a parody of famous New York columnist Walter Winchell) is so desperate to find some news for his column, he creates a fictional French dancer he can hype. As it turns out, stage hopeful Irene Foster (Eleanor Powell) needs some hype to catch the eye of producer and former boyfriend Robert Gordon (Robert Taylor), who wants star power for his big show. His current girlfriend, wealthy widow Lillian Brent (June Knight), doesn't give a fig about stars. She's backing the show; she should star in it. Foster passes herself off as the dancer to get a leg up, so to speak, on the role. Lillian, however, isn't willing to give up, and Powell's friends Ted and Sally Burke (Buddy Ebsen and his sister Vilma) and Gordon's secretary Kitty (Una Merkel) are starting to get suspicious...

While the story here is even more piffle than Big Broadcast (and lacks that movie's novel setting), it does have some outstanding numbers. "You are My Lucky Star" was the hit and is promoted several times, including in a huge "imagine spot" for Powell and a platoon of ballerinas. Other standards include "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" (performed by Knight, Taylor, and the chorus; Taylor, surprisingly, sings rather well) and the glittering finale "Broadway Rhythm."

Though this was popular at the box office in 1935 and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture that year, the dull book keeps it from being as much fun as some of the other movies in this series. Once again, mainly for fans of the cast and 30's musicals.

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