Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Easter Bunny Came To Town

First of all, Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

I began a bright, gorgeous Easter morning with two Rankin-Bass stop-motion animation Easter specials as I frosted Rainbow Party Chip cupcakes. Here Comes Peter Cottontail is from 1971. The lie-prone title character travels through a year's worth of holidays (including Easter) to deliver Easter eggs and save April Valley from the vengeance-obsessed Irontail. Some nice, bright animation and the excellent cast - including Casey Kasem as Peter Cottontail, Vincent Price as Irontail, and Danny Kaye as the narrator, the caterpillar captain Antoine, and Colonel G. Bunny - are the saving graces here.

Rankin-Bass got to their second, and far more Easter-y, springtime extravaganza in 1975. While Peter Cottontail has some echoes of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Easter Bunny Is Coming To Town is something of a blatant rehash of 1970's Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Not only is it narrated by Fred Astaire in a repeat of his mailman character, he even briefly refers to the earlier special in the beginning and in the title song.

Getting away from it's origins, it's a fun look at secular Easter customs that aren't as often explored as similar traditions for Christmas. I especially loved the hilarious Hendrews Sisters, a singing chicken trio who provide Sunny the Easter Bunny with his eggs. Though their numbers are largely extraneous, they're some of the best in the show.

The 1975 Peanuts special It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown also refers to an earlier special, in this case It's the Great Pumpkin. Indeed, Sally provides a rare bit of continuity when Linus starts babbling about a magical "Easter Beagle" who brings candy and eggs to all the good little children and she reminds him of how much this resembles his pet Halloween myths.

While not really one of the best Peanuts specials, Easter Beagle is probably my personal favorite, just because I love the running gag with Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and 500 different ways of cooking eggs. ;)

I listened to the Beatles show for about 20 minutes after Easter Beagle, then headed over to Dad and Uncle Ken's, stopping first to deliver three cupcakes to my landlady. There was a large Easter basket for my sister Jessa and a small one for me when I arrived. I chatted with Jessa for a while over a third season episode of Sailor Moon before she, Dad, Jodie, and I drove out to our cousins' house.

Karen and Jim and their 18-year-old daughter Taylere, toddler son C.J, and dog Hobbes live in a development in Washington Township in the middle of what mostly appears to be a farming community. They apparently moved into the huge, brand-new house last year and don't have much there yet besides a big backyard with a lovely view of a lake and some peach trees. (Sadly, the trees will supposedly fall victim to a road and redevelopment plan next year.)

I nibbled on some cheese and cracker trays and chatted with the adults before opting to go with Taylere and Jessa to Taylere's boyfriend's house for an "adult Easter egg hunt." Like Taylere's family, her boyfriend and his family live in a large house with a huge yard in a largely rural town. He and his siblings are all older, in their late teens and early 20s, but their sweet parents still hide eggs for them every year. I listened to the kids goof off in their basement band rehearsal area (Tay's boyfriend is apparently the drummer for a local Christian rock band) while the parents hid the eggs. We then spent the next hour searching all over the yard for plastic eggs filled with coins and Reeces' Peanut Butter Cups. Taylere got the most money ($1.05); her boyfriend got the most eggs overall. I regretted wearing dressy clothes and heels during this; I ultimately looked for eggs in my stocking feet.

After the Egg Hunt, we headed home for dinner. Taylere had to work at her local Applebee's, but the rest of us (including Uncle Ken and Dolores, who arrived while we were at Taylere's boyfriend's house) sat down to a big meal of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, potato salad, stuffing, and corn, with cupcakes and two egg-shaped cakes for dessert. We also got to observe C.J's reason for living - golf. His father is crazy about golf, and so's he. His mother even found him a golf-ball-shaped Easter basket. Hitting balls is the kid's life. Balls and the new Little Tykes Car he got for his birthday. You should have seen Jodie and Dad pushing him around in that thing. It was hysterical.

I watched Easter Parade after I got home. Easter Parade is one of the most famous of the classic MGM Technicolor musicals of the 40s and 50s. A vaudeville dancer (Fred Astaire) loses his partner (Ann Miller) right before New York's Easter Parade in 1912. When his best friend (Peter Lawford) claims there will never be a partner as wonderful as Miller, Astaire claims he can pick any woman out of a chorus line and make her just as wonderful, actually taking a girl out of a bar show (Judy Garland) and asking her to come for rehearsal. What follows is a relatively simple show business story that mostly makes use of Irving Berlin's back song catalog from the time period ("I Love A Piano," "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam'," the title song) along with six new songs (among them "Steppin' Out With My Baby," "It Only Happens When I Dance With You," the adorable "A Couple Of Swells," and "Better Luck Next Time" for Garland). With Astaire and Ann Miller involved, there's some spectacular dancing, some of the best of any MGM musical - Miller stands out in "Shakin' the Blues Away," and Lawford does well by the sweet "A Fella With An Umbrella."

Oh, and WebKinz fans have probably already noticed this (for once, they admit it on the front page), but the gardens are acting screwy. Yesterday, they'd disappeared all together; today, they're nothing but weeds. Interestingly, other than the garden, I haven't had any problems at all with WebKinz this weekend. I adopted Cadbury the Brown Dog just fine on Wednesday and got everything she was supposed to come with, I got my Easter gifts and card with no problems, the site was only running slightly slow, and all my exclusives are where they should be. I even had some great luck with the Curio Shop, picking up the Hockey Flooring for Quinn the Polar Bear's Hockey Rink Room and Country Cabinets for Duke the Lil'Kinz Pig's Farm Room. (I also decided I liked the mellow tan wood in the Candy Room Bed and Breakfast better than the Purple Pop Star Wardrobe.)

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