Monday, January 21, 2019

Dreams of Musical Memories

Slept in this morning. When I awoke, the sun was shining...and the wind continued to howl. This was no day to go anywhere. I snuggled under the covers and read essays and poems from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. Despite the book having been released while Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive, I thought the pieces covering United Nations Day worked for his holiday as well. After all, he too tried to bring peace, and in fact won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1964.

Went right into breakfast after I finished writing in my journal. I had the time to make Lemon Pancakes today. Yum! They were just lemon juice with the usual things, but they came out nice and fluffy.

Ate them while watching the last episode of Broadway: The American Musical. "Putting It Together: 1980-2004" may be the most personal episode for me, as it's the only one I actually lived through. I remember seeing those "I Love NY" commercials and the spots for individual shows like Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and City of Angels on the independent TV stations WPIX and WWOR and remembering how wonderful and glamorous they all seemed.

I wouldn't actually get to hear any of them until Phantom of the Opera became one of the biggest phenomenons of the late 80's. Rose, who already had a fondness for Gothic spookiness, bought the original cast album on cassette. Truth be told, the show was a little dark for me then; I preferred lighter musicals like Grease, Annie, or Little Shop of Horrors. I did finally fall in love with it when I actually listened to it and would go on to buy or dub the cast albums for Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard. Inspired by the musical films my mother loved so much, I had begun to study not only musicals, but older movies in general by the early 90's.

It was interesting to learn about some things I was too young to remember or understand in the 80's, like the damage the AIDS crisis did to the Broadway community, the impact of La Cage Aux Follies, with its loving gay couple, or the mega-success of Cats. I was focusing on high school and the beginning of college (not to mention Remember WENN) when Rent came out. I heard about it and Johnathan Larson's death, but I never heard the full score until I rented the film version last year. By the time Ragtime and The Producers came out in the late 90's and early 2000's, I was paying more attention to both the stage and the Broadway musical, picking up many cast albums from the old Borders that used to be next to the Hamilton Mall. Making friends in college who actually appreciated musicals the way I did helped a lot, too.

The show ends with Wicked, the then-newest Broadway blockbuster. Despite the mixed reviews Julie Andrews mentioned, it went on to become a smash hit and has become a touchstone with young women in particular. It's still running on Broadway to this day. I'd actually like to see them do a more recent follow-up to this that goes into details on the stage musical's continued revival in the 2010's, including discussions of Hamilton, Billy Elliot, Matilda, Fun House, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening, Come From Away, Into the Heights, The Drowsy Chaperone, and the Disney shows Newsies and Mary Poppins.

Spent most of the day working on writing. They all manage to escape in a hay cart that the super-strong Chewbacca pulls to the stables. Luke's horrified when he sees Friar Ben cut down by the evil Sheriff Vader of Nottingham, but the distraction does give them the chance to get over the bridge and into Sherwood Forest.

Broke around 2 for a late lunch, and then to try making donuts again. Did carrot donuts this time to get rid of two old carrots from the Farm Market. This time, I forgot the egg and overcooked one batch. They're once again dry but taste pretty decent.

Ran a couple of sports-related Peanuts specials while eating and baking. You're In the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown has the kids taking part in a Punt n' Pass contest with the prize of a new bike and a trip to the Super Bowl. Chuck and Linus both admire a lovely young lady named Melody who seems to be cheering them on...but it turns out she has quite a football arm! Meanwhile, Snoopy coaches Woodstock and his buddies (in Philadelphia Eagles uniforms, no less) to victory over the larger teams in the Animal League.

(Incidentally, this is currently the only Peanuts special that's not on DVD or online. To my knowledge, it's only available on video from Shell I found the other day. The kids wear helmets with symbols of then-NFL teams during the Punt n' Pass contest, and the NFL symbol is seen prominently elsewhere. It would likely be too expensive for Warners or Paramount to license them.)

Baseball and football aren't the only sports the kids get involved in. Chuck and Marcie join the decathlon in You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown. They show far better sportsmanship than their fellow competitors Freddy from Fremont and the Masked Marvel. Charlie Brown is hoping he has a chance to win...if he can stay on-course. Chuck does somewhat better in the motocross race in You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown. He's determined to win no matter what...and proves to everyone, including the Masked Marvel, that slow and steady really does win the race.

Since I had a late lunch, I didn't break for dinner until past 7. Finished out the night with leftovers and a spinach salad while watching Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Cary Elwes plays Robin in Mel Brooks' spoof of mainly Prince of Thieves (though other movies are referred to as well, including The Adventures of Robin Hood). If you're a fan of those movies, satire, or Brooks' other work, you'll probably have just as much fun with some of the jokes here.

Oh, and I found something I hadn't seen in years on YouTube tonight. Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego is a game show that used to run on PBS in the early-mid 90's. Kids would use their knowledge of geography and history to track a kooky criminal who made off with a huge landmark, like the Empire States Building. As someone who loves both geography and history, I was a big fan of this show. Heck, I still think of the late stage actress Lynne Thigpen as "The Chief" even now.

This episode is from the final season in 1995; if you're interested, it looks like there might be quite a few others on YouTube as well.

Haul of the Roamin' Empire 

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