Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Walk In Oaklyn

Awoke to the nicest day we've had in ages, sunny, warm, and in the lower 80's. Since I got up pretty early for me, I started the day with baking Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins and the 1947 version of Good News. I thought this one was appropriate for the beginning of the school year. It's the late 20's, and Tait College is alive with sheikhs and shebas, flappers and football heroes. The boys are all thrilled when Pat, a cute new student from a finishing school (Patricia McKellen) arrives. Tom (Peter Lawford), Tait's biggest football star, takes French to try to impress her. Connie (June Allyson) helps tutor him, but ends up falling for him. Meanwhile, her best friend Babe (Joan McCracken) is chasing the football team's skinny bench warmer, despite dating the biggest guy on the team. It looks like Tom may be reciprocating Connie's feelings, until Babe lets it slip that he's rich. Now Pat's after him, and Connie may end up being left on the shelf...if she can't find a way for him to win the game without marrying the gold-digging Pat!

This is actually a remake of MGM's 1930 Good News. While that one is probably more authentic to the original 1927 Broadway show, this one has some selling points of its own, including Mel Torme appearing for no other reason than to croon a couple of songs and some infectious chorus numbers. McCracken leads the spirited "Pass That Peace Pipe," and the finale "The Varasity Drag" is also fun. If you like other musical school tales like High School Musical or Grease, you may want to visit Tait College as well.

Finally headed out around quarter after 11 to run some errands. While it's not quite fall yet, it doesn't feel as close to summer as it did before. It was a tiny bit warmer than yesterday, but breezy and not one bit humid. The area's looking much better than it did even a week or two ago. The grass is still a little toasty, but not quite as bad, and the gardens are far less limp.

The beautiful day was reflected in a very quiet Oaklyn Library. There wasn't even anyone on the computers. It was just me, the librarian, and the books for most of the 40 minutes or so I was there. I gave the DVDs a look, then worked on the board books. One woman did stop in later to talk to the librarian. Otherwise, I saw no one.

It wasn't any busier at the House of Fun. There was a guy organizing Star Wars action figures when I arrived. I stepped over him and his pile of boxed toys. I was hoping they'd have some 80's fantasy films I've been thinking of looking up for story inspiration, like Legend or Willow, but no dice. No good wrestling action figures for Lauren, either. I had more luck buying toilet paper from a busy Family Dollar a few blocks down.

Thought I'd try something new for lunch. Viola's International Deli replaced Doria's Deli on West Clinton Avenue, next-door to Phillies Yummies last week. They're a small convenience store/deli, similar to Doria's. I bought roast beef and provolone on a tomato-basil wrap and a can of Diet Dr. Pepper. Ate it at one of the picnic tables on West Clinton. The wrap was quite good, with lots of roast beef, even if they did overdo the mayo.

Spent the next few hours at home, working on my story. Pruitt orders Sir Johnathan Arnold (aka Victor Comstock in disguise) to accompany him and his second-in-command Lady Cosgrave as they travel to discuss an alliance with certain parties in the large city of Yorkalia. He wants Arnold to go onto Port Harbor to spy on Duchess Hilary and Duke Jeffrey Singer, who may be heading a rebel faction there.

Pruitt, however, is beginning to have his suspicions about Arnold's loyalty and his abilities...especially since he's been unable to capture the King of Thieves, the rogue who has been stealing from nobles and rescuing peasants from beatings and starvation. The thieves in the woods have continually eluded him, making Pruitt suspect Arnold isn't all he claims to be. He sends Mistress Pavla Nemcova, a witch with the power to lure men and turn them into sweets, after Arnold and the Singers.

Around 4:30, I decided I needed a stretch. I made my favorite gingerbread recipe, the one from Samantha's Cooking Studio. I think I added a little too much sugar. Otherwise, I always love this version. It comes out so moist and flavorful! Made a simple dinner of crab cakes and sauteed yellow squash with mini-tomatoes while the gingerbread was in the oven.

Ran Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as I worked. This epic version of the Robin Hood legend has Kevin Costner as the famous rogue who robs from the rich to give to the poor, Mary Elizabeth Mastraintonio as his beloved Maid Marian, Alan Rickman as an extremely hammy Sheriff of Nottingham, and Morgan Freeman is the Moor who joins Robin after he leaves the Crusades. I remember thinking this was a little strange as a child, and I think it's even odder now, with several subplots put back in. At times, the tone is so over-the-top, it feels like almost as much of a spoof as Men In Tights is. The fact that everyone but Costner is having fun doesn't help. Costner is stiff as a board in a role that requires him to be devil-may-care, not a great contrast to one of Alan Rickman's best performances as the silent-movie-villain Sheriff.

While the romance falls flat, the action set pieces, especially the finale and Robin's adventures robbing various nobles, still work very well. And I love some of the characters, especially the hilarious Friar Tuck and Little John's wife Fanny, who may be even tougher than he is. The music in this is also renowned, though nowadays, it's more associated with Disney (who uses it for their commercials) than Robin Hood.

Despite this being a massive hit in the summer of 1991, this isn't a great version of Robin Hood, but it's far from the worst. If you're a fan of Robin Hood stories, epic historical action adventures, or Rickman, this is absolutely worth checking out.

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