Friday, December 26, 2014

A Very Red Holiday Season

Started off a sunny, lovely morning with an early work shift. Actually, we were pretty much quiet for most of the morning. It did get on-and-off steady later in the afternoon, but by that time, I was almost done. Most people were probably either at the malls or resting from yesterday. It won't pick up until next week, when people get ready for New Year's parties and get their beginning-of-the-month money. I was out as soon as the college boy who was my relief arrived.

As soon as I finished, I went in the back to get my schedule. Thank heavens, I don't work anywhere near the ridiculous hours I worked last New Year's week. In fact, my schedule is perfectly normal for late fall-early winter. I once again have Monday off...and much to my surprise, New Year's Day. I haven't had New Year's Day off in at least three or four years. I'm so glad. I'll make up for my disappointing Christmas with a nice week after, including my traditional New Year's Day breakfast out and seeing the Mummers' Parade live.

I didn't have a lot of grocery shopping to do today, but I did have some expensive things I needed. The small hams weren't on a huge sale, but I wanted one for my New Year's Eve dinner. I think I'll make that tasty Crock Pot Ham and Potatoes recipe in Julie's Cooking Studio. Bought orange juice to make Cranberry Muffins tonight. Just ran out of shampoo yesterday - the Acme finally had Herbal Essences' curl formula back in. Had a lot of restocking to do as well - sugar, whole wheat flour, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, apples, onions, grapefruit, spinach, bananas, molasses, and eggs. Decided I'd try the Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Matt mentioned at Dinosaur Dracula. I don't normally eat super-sweet cereals, but hey, it's only once a year. Also grabbed some more of those bags of glazed pecans and cinnamon mixed nuts that are just so divine before they disappear on clearance.

When I got home, I took my time putting everything away. I started making those Cranberry Muffins while watching Bathing Beauty. The beauty in question is swimming teacher Esther Williams. Horrified when she's lead to believe that her songwriter fiancee (Red Skelton) is married to another, she returns to the girl's school where she works. He's so crazy about her, he joins the school just to be near her. While she fends off his advances, his beleaguered best friend and producer (Basil Rathbone) tries to get the songs for his latest water pageant out of him.

This was Esther Williams' first starring role, and I'm afraid it shows. The only water ballets are a short one during her introduction and the spectacular finale. This is really more for fans of Skelton (who has some funny material, including one segment where he mimes a woman putting on her makeup) or the big band era (Harry James and Xavier Cugat's orchestras have specialty numbers).

Moved to A Southern Yankee while heating up the leftover Chinese food for dinner. We jump back to St. Louis during the Civil War. Skelton plays Aubrey, a clumsy, none-too-bright bell boy who really wants to be a spy. When he accidentally captures a notorious Confederate spy called The Gray Spider, a beautiful female spy named Sally Ann (Arlene Dahl) thinks Aubrey is the Spider. Aubrey falls for Sally Ann and plays along, until the Union asks him to do some spying for real. Now he has to dodge the lines of both sides and keep the Confederates - and Sally Ann - from finding out who he really is and what he's doing.

Buster Keaton worked on this really cute comedy. His input helped - there's some great gags here, including Red wearing a two-sided uniform to try to get himself past both the Union and Confederate lines and him hiding in a doghouse from Confederate soldiers towards the end. Skelton's fans and classic comedy lovers will get a kick out of this one - look for it at the Warner Archives.

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