Friday, March 17, 2017

Something Sort of Grandish

It was a glorious St. Patrick's Day morning when I awoke, earlier than I have been lately. Along with a few chapters of The Darkness Knows, I did some reading on the holiday. The Colliers Harvest of Holidays book  has one long essay on St. Patrick, who he was and why he's now the patron saint of Ireland. The 60's Walt Disney Storybook has a condensed version of how Darby O'Gil first found himself making friends with the King of the Leprechauns, from Darby O'Gil and the Little People.

Ran a couple of Irish themed cartoons while eating breakfast. Woody Woodpecker is delighted to discover a woodpecker-like leprechaun of his own in "His Better Elf." His wish for money proves to be nothing but trouble when it turns out the money belongs to a bank. The wacky bird learns a lesson in earning his bread as he tries to escape a stereotypical Irish cop.

The wee folk in the Porky Pig vehicle "Wearin' of the Grin" are far less benign. Thinking he's after their pot of gold, they sentence him to "the wearin' of the green shoes." These shoes want to dance forever - and now Porky finds himself in a surreal Irish nightmare as he tries to outrun the enchanted footwear.

Did a few more classic Looney Tunes as I got ready to head out. Daffy's hoping his epic swashbuckler "The Scarlet Pumpernickel," a spoof of Scarlet Pimpernel/Zorro tales, will be his big break. What it may end up doing is breaking him as he introduces it to his boss. He almost gets broken by an animator who seems to want nothing more than to wreck havoc on his body in "Duck Amok." "Deduce, You Say" takes us back to Sherlock Holmes territory. Daffy is Holmes and Porky's Watson as the two try to solve the mystery of the Shropshire Slasher. Daffy, however, is no one's Benedict Cumberbatch and has no idea the Slasher doesn't want to run away. He has slightly better luck dealing with Marvin the Martian on Planet X in "Duck Dodgers and the 24th and a Half Century."

Since I got up early anyway, I decided to start off the day with a grocery store run. I was originally going to do it tomorrow, but it's supposed to rain and possible snow a little. I'd rather do it while it's dry and I'm not dead tired. I had a rather big order, too. Along with the cabbage, ham, and potatoes for dinner, I found cake mix, muffin papers, and two containers of Progresso soup on clearance. (One was French Onion. Maybe I'll buy or make bread or croutons and have French Onion Soup with cheese later this week.) Also restocked dried rosemary, skim milk, eggs, yogurt, grapefruit, bananas, chick peas, honey, cooking spray, raspberry jam, and canned apricots.

Went home, put everything away, then went right back out again. Had lunch at Phillies Phatties. They were running the Flyers-Devils game from the night before on Comcast Sports. (They lost big-time, 6-3. I don't know how. This was the Devils' first win in 10 games.) I watched the second half of the game and enjoyed my usual slice of cheese, slice of mushroom, and can of Cherry Vanilla Pepsi.

My next stop was originally going to be the Oaklyn Library. There was a small sign on the front door when I arrived. They were having a staff meeting at noon. It was past 1 at that point, and the place was dark. I guess they all left after the meeting. Rats. I just skipped them and headed across a snow-covered Newton River Park to Westmont, after stopping briefly at the Oaklyn Post Office for stamps. At least it was a nice day for a ride. The sky was brilliant blue, the wind had diminished to a breeze, and it was at least in the upper 40's-lower 50's, not balmy but far warmer than it has been.

The Haddon Township Library was much busier. There were piles and piles of DVDs to return as people finally got out after the storm. There were so many DVDs, audio books, and CDs, it took me over an hour to shelve them all.

Found a few more DVDs while I was putting them away. The Equestria Girls, the human versions of the Friendship Is Magic characters, are back in The Legend of Everfree. Having enjoyed the last three Studio Ghilbi films I've rented, I thought I'd give Princess Monoke a shot. Last summer's X-Men: Apocalypse is one of only three current Marvel films I haven't seen. (The others are last fall's Doctor Strange and the just-released Logan.) Since I did have fun with Now You See Me a few years ago, figured I'd try the sequel as well.

After waiting for over four months, they finally had The Princess Diarist in. Well, just the audio book. The book itself continues to be on hold, and will be for the foreseeable future. Given that Carrie Fisher herself narrates as the older her and her daughter Billie Lourd plays her as a teen, this might actually be even more fun. I still want to read the book, but this will work for now.

My next stop was WaWa for a St. Patrick's Day treat. I did think about getting a Shamrock Shake, but I'm not the biggest fan of McDonald's. A Mint Cream Smoothie is the next best thing, and just as tasty. (And unlike the Shamrock Shake, is available year-round.)

My last stop of a busy day was Studio LuLoo. Poor Sarah was not happy when I arrived. She was supposed to be rehearsing the children's band for their upcoming band night and the CD she's hoping to release. Only two children, two of the girls, had arrived, despite her claiming she and the other parents had decided on Fridays weeks in advance. I did help the girls draw ideas for the CD cover as Sarah tried to get a hold of the other parents.

Got in around 4:30. Spent the next few hours writing. Leia and Han get into one of their famous tiffs as they head to the stage to watch the show. Han can't believe that a pretty, soft-skinned duchess is into things like fencing, shooting, and mechanics. Leia tells him she's never been your typical royalty. Han's determined to get him, his business, and his ward out of the country, before they're caught by Baron Vader and the crime lord Jenkins Huttman. Leia doesn't understand why he won't stay. He thinks she wants him to stay because she's falling for him. Though she flounces off in a huff, she's not entirely sure that isn't true.

Broke for dinner around 6:30. Made boiled cabbage and red potatoes, pan-fried ham, and an Irish soda bread muffin for dinner. I should have boiled the cabbage and potatoes longer. The cabbage was a bit tough and bitter. Otherwise, it came out quite nicely, especially the perfectly-cooked ham.

Ran The Quiet Man while I ate. John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara headline this 1952 comedy/drama as Sean Flannigan, a former boxer just arrived in Ireland, and his strong-willed neighbor Mary Kate Danaher. Sean has moved to Ireland to reclaim his parents' cottage and land. He's trying to forget a bout that ended in a man's death. He falls for pretty, feisty Mary Kate right away, but she needs a lot more persuading. Her brother Will (Victor McLaughlin) is a hulking brute who had wanted Sean's land for himself. He refuses to give Mary Kate her dowry when she and Sean wed. Sean doesn't see the point of the fuss, but for Mary Kate, the dowry - her things, her money - are all she has. It finally comes down to the biggest donnybrook Ireland's ever seen as Mary Kate tries to leave...and Sean gives her and Will what they wanted.

John Ford was 100% Irish-American, and it shows in this love letter to the old country. The Oscar-winning color cinematography alone is worth seeing. Ireland has never glowed like this on screen again, in colors that would make the rainbow leading to the pot of gold look pale. The cast of beloved Irish comedians are having a fine time as the locals cheering Sean on, including Barry Fitzgerald as the local matchmaker (who takes the bets on the donnybrook in the finale). O'Hara and Wayne also do well as the battling lovers. While there's some aspects, especially in the lead-in to the donnybrook and on O'Hara and Wayne's wedding night, that don't come off well today, for the most part, this is a trip to Ireland worth making.

Finished out the night online while watching Finian's Rainbow. We go from a story about Ireland to a story about Irish folk. Fred Astaire is Finian MacLongergan, an Irishman who has immigrated to America to bury his pot of gold near Fort Knox. He figures, if the American's gold can grow, why not his? His daughter Sharon (Petula Clark) just wishes he'd settle down. They find themselves in Rainbow Valley in the Deep South, where a group of mixed-race sharecroppers lead by dreamer Woody are trying to grow a mentholated tobacco. The local sheriff and bigoted Senator Rawkins (Keenan Wynn) want them to pay their back taxes and un-mix, pronto. Meanwhile, a leprechaun named Og (Tommy Steele) has followed Finian in pursuit of his gold. If he doesn't get it back to Ireland, he'll turn human!

Astaire's final turn in a non-documentary film musical is a strange adaptation of an already unusual Broadway musical from 1947. (They tried reviving it a few years ago, without success.) It's worth seeing for Astaire's "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich" solo and Clark and Steele's adorable "Something Sort of Grandish."

And I hope ye lads and lasses had an equally busy and enjoyable St. Patrick's Day!

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