Saturday, August 11, 2018

Musical Harvest

I awoke to a cloudy, gray morning that sort of suited my mood. Listened to Billy Joel's An Innocent Man on CD to cheer things up a bit. Mom and Dad-Bill were big Billy Joel fans (Mom caught him when he was still playing pianos in bars, Dad's a fellow Long Island native), and this album came out at just the right time to be one of my absolute favorites during my early grade school years. Pretty much every song in this album is a winner, from the opening "Easy Money" to the ballad "This Night" to the oft-covered hit "Uptown Girl."

I got up late and didn't get out to the Collingswood Farm Market until nearly 11. Despite the humidity and the heavy, dark clouds, they were crawling with people looking for produce for their barbecues and garden parties. I still had quite a few vegetables left over from last week and not a lot of money. I settled on peaches, an onion, and a type of yellow plum I'd never seen before.

Since the clouds were holding off for the moment, I took the long way across Newton Lake Park. Dodged a couple of people walking dogs. Otherwise, you can probably guess that they were pretty quiet. It was too humid for anyone who didn't have a dog or were running errands like me to be out and about.

Made a quick stop at the CVS on the border of Collingswood and Oaklyn next. I needed to restock my brush picks, and they're the only one in the area who seem to carry them. There were a few people at the pharmacy counter in the back; otherwise, they weren't that busy.

Since I was in the area, I rode by Dad and Jodie's house to see if they were home. They weren't, but I saw Jesse and Dana loading up their car. Seems everyone is going away for the weekend. Dad and Jodie went to Ocean City, Maryland to visit friends. Jesse and Dana are heading into the mountains. I chatted with them for a few minutes before heading back to my place.

Put my food away, then had yogurt, a breakfast cookie, and a Greens-Tea Smoothie for lunch. Listened to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds while I ate. This classic album wasn't a huge hit over here in the States when it came out in 1966, but it did better in England and is now recognized as one of the most influential rock albums ever. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Sloop John B" were the hits; I also like "God Only Knows" and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times."

It sprinkled lightly while I was on the way to CVS, but the rain held off until after lunch. It was raining, and raining hard, by the time I was dusting the bedroom. I also made the bed and cleared out almost all of the stuffed animals on the DVD shelves in the living room but a couple of flamingos and little Amalthea the Unicorn (who is just too cute to get rid of). Amalthea was moved to the Beanie Baby shelf in my bedroom.

Worked on writing and updating my resumes for the next couple of hours. Leia and Luke escape Vader via the fire escape. They jump off when Vader comes after them, landing through the roof of Laurence's Rolls Royce. After fussing at them over the damage to his car, Laurence tells them that they couldn't catch up with Roberto Fettara's armored truck; he and Harry are gone. Leia finally tells them that they're returning to LA to talk to her boss Dr. Martha Mothma and pursue Harry at Yasmin Hutt's club.

Took me longer to update my resumes than I thought. Didn't break until quarter of 7. Ran Deep In My Heart while eating a leftover chicken and cheese wrap with cucumber-tomato salad for dinner. If Sigmund Romberg (Jose Ferrer) doesn't sound as familiar as other MGM biographical subjects like Jerome Kern and Rogers and Hart today, it's likely because he's probably better-known to aficionados of light opera and operetta. He did start out like his contemporaries, playing piano in a middle-European dive run by an old friend (Helen Traubel) and writing numbers for girlie revues and goofy Al Jolson vehicles for low-brow producers the Shuberts, but he has loftier ambitions. He finally gets them to produce his romantic operetta Maytime. It's a huge success during World War I, but while he does adapt a hit show (Blossom Time) for the US and write a few more Jolson shows, he feels he's hit a writer's block until he meets the lovely and strong-willed socialite Lillian (Doe Avedon). She inspires him to create some of the biggest hits of the 20's, including The Student Prince and The Desert Song.

Critics were apparently rough on this when it came out, but it was a hit at the box office, and I think it's actually dated pretty well. Sure, the story is a storm of cliches, but there's some lesser-known material here that you just aren't going to find anywhere else. Among the rarities are Gene Kelly and his brother Fred dancing to "I Love to Go Swimmin' With Women" (which was partially written for the film), "Your Land and My Land" with Howard Keel and the chorus from the almost never-performed Civil War musical My Maryland, and "It," a comedy number featuring Ann Miller that's originally from The Desert Song. Other good numbers include a lovely "Road to Paradise" and "Sweetheart, Will You Remember?" from Maytime, performed by Vic Damone and Jane Powell, and a sexy "One Alone" pas-de-dux danced by Cyd Charisse and James Mitchell that's sexier than anything in the 50's film version of The Desert Song.

Underrated musical treat that's highly recommended for fans of the cast or Romberg and his operettas.

Finished the night with a rarity on YouTube. TV musicals were rarer in the 1970's than they had been a few decades before, but they still occasionally popped up, as with Cindy from 1978. This all-black retelling of Cinderella sets the story in Harlem during World War II. Cindy (Charlayne Woodard) is a girl who has just come up from the south to live with her daddy (Scoey Mitchell) and his new wife (Mae Mercer) and her two spoiled daughters (Nell Carter and Alania Reed). Cindy wants to go with her sisters to a big dance that decorated officer Captain Joe Prince (Clifton Davis) will be attending. Cindy's stepmother doesn't have the time to make her a dress. Her "fairy godmother" is actually Miles Archer (W. Benson Terry), the guy who lives upstairs and is too cowardly to join the services. He loans her a beautiful gown and drives her to the dance. Prince is so smitten with her, he wants to marry the girl on the spot...but unlike in the fairy tale, Cindy's not so sure she really wants him. Especially after she learns that Miles has joined the Army...

Not bad. The music's just ok, but the cast is having fun, especially in the swinging dance sequence. The nifty period-accurate costumes were Emmy-nominated. Davis made a particularly dashing "prince" charming, and I liked Mitchell as Cindy's supportive dad.

It's on YouTube in parts if you're interested:

Cindy, Part 1

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