Sunday, April 08, 2018

A Family Affair in Philadelphia

I was jolted out of sleep by a phone call. Charlie had the gas inspector here...on a Sunday morning. For some reason, they had to look at my stove now. I opened the door and let them have their look, then went back to bed and read and worked on my journal for an hour or so.

Spent the morning continuing the cleaning. I vacuumed the whole apartment, mainly so I could get up the dust and hair that was under the Disney Toddler dolls' bed. While today was only in the upper 40's, it's supposed to be in the 60's by the end of the week. I figured it was finally time to toss the flannel sheets in the laundry basket and replace them with the spring/fall sheets. Washed the windows, too.

I'd just finished the windows when Jodie arrived on my porch. Apparently, they were picking me up at 12:15, not 12:45. Oops! I hurriedly threw on my boots and coat and grabbed my purse, racing out to their brand-new van.

TJ lives with a few other friends in a beautiful old house in Overbrook Farms, one of the tonier suburbs in West Philadelphia. We took the Schuylkill Expressway, with fabulous views of Fairmount Park, and City Avenue there. City Avenue was an eclectic mix of modern chain stores and shopping centers and fine old brick and stone apartment buildings and churches. A lot of local media seems to have their headquarters here, too. I saw the offices and studio of WPVI 6, our ABC affiliate, on City Avenue; we passed WPHL 17's studio on the way home. (Jodie said she saw the studio for popular radio station B101 on our way down City Avenue as well.)

According to the book I found in the living room, Overbrook Farms was developed in the 1890's as one of Philly's first suburbs for the well-to-do. This seems to still be the case today, if the gorgeous house and it's grounds and the equally lovely homes surrounding it were any indication. It was a three story stone dwelling with one large living room and several smaller rooms, including two small kitchens with whitewashed built-in cabinets and the latest appliances. I admired an apparently haunted mirror in the living room and a huge old Victrola in the dining room.

I spent a lot of the afternoon with the child of a friend of TJ's, Maddie. She was a lively little miss who was probably about 6 or 7, from her size and sheer energy. I chatted with her at the dining room table while we ate fruit, vegetables from a vegetable tray, crumble coffee cake, lemon cake, Jodie's macaroni salad, and an eggy bread pudding.

At one point, TJ took us upstairs to his attic office and sanctuary. He's studying for his masters degree at St. Joseph's University near-by and has a small religious shrine on a colorful couch. Maddie was more interested in scribbling with his colored pencils and playing with the General Leia Hallmark Itty Bitty I use as a stress toy. Inspired by her metallic cape, she kept pretending to make the doll "fly." (Which amused the heck out of me, considering what Leia actually does in the current movie.)

There was a big yard and a sprawling flagstone patio. They owned one sweet elderly terrier named Benny. Their neighbors' two dogs, adorable yellow lab puppy Ranger and big black lab Sonia, came over a few times to see what all the fuss was about. Maddie and a friend's two toddler children loved chasing them and stroking their fur. Ranger in particular was a much-loved little fellow. Even some of the adults didn't want to let the wiggly cutie go. I looked around the all-wood office and watched the dad and toddlers build a "church" from wood scraps.

By quarter of 4, the party was winding down, most of the kids had gone home...and I was starting to get bored. We finally headed out to dodge traffic before the Phillies game let out. The traffic was a little heavy going over the Ben Franklin Bridge; otherwise, we seemed to miss the worst of it. (Oh, and Jodie mentioned she and Dad are going to have a roast for my birthday dinner at their place next Saturday. Fine by me. I was planning on spending most of the day at the movies and one of the local malls.)

Did some writing when I got in. Han is shocked when Boba Fett calls him "Your Majesty." Han doesn't believe it, but it would seem that Fett knows who he really is. Han tries to force him to talk, but they're surrounded by soldiers before he can do it. Fett takes off rather than be questioned.

Since I didn't really do much today besides cleaning and eating, I did an hour on Wii Sports starting around 6:30. I really worked the boxing today, including a match and several rounds of all three mini-games. I did much better with boxing than I did on tennis. I lost both the games I played and still can't figure out how to time my darn swings. I must have worn myself out earlier on boxing, because my bowling game wasn't great, either.

Had Zucchini Pancakes for dinner while listening to the original Broadway cast album It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman. This superhero musical debuted in 1966, just as the Batman show was starting to make waves on TV. Here, Superman is derailed by a ten-time Nobel-Prize losing mad scientist seeking revenge and an imitation Walter Winchell reporter who never met a scandal he didn't like. Lois Lane is more interested in marrying Superman and avoiding a persistent co-worker than her career. Uh, yeah. It's dated, silly, and really only a notch above an even more notorious superhero musical, Spider Man Turn Off the Dark. Strouse and Adams provided some decent music, though, including "You've Got Possibilities" for Linda Lavin as the reporter's put-upon secretary.

Finished off the night on YouTube with two rare swashbuckling adventures. The Vagabond King is a remake of both the 1930 operetta and the play If I Were King that also inspired The Beloved Rogue. Tenor Oreste Kirkop is Francois Villion in this colorful retelling, with Kathryn Grayson in one of her last movies as Catherine and Rita Moreno as Hugette. It doesn't really use much of the original music from the 1926 stage operetta, but otherwise, it's a pretty decent movie. I wish we'd seen more of Grayson's stately Catherine and Moreno's fiery tavern wench and less of Kirkop - he was a fine singer, but lacked the presence of Mario Lanza, whom he'd likely been brought to Paramount to compete with. Look for Leslie Nielson in an early role as one of the king's men.

The Magic Sword is a far goofier medieval fantasy from 1962. This odd retelling of St. George and the Dragon has George (Gary Lockwood) steal the title sword and a magical horse and armor from his adopted mother, the sorceress Sybil (Estelle Winwood). He wants to rescue his beloved Helene (Ann Helm) from the evil wizard Dulac (Basil Rathbone) and his maiden-eating dragon. With the help of seven knights and Sir Branton (Liam Sullivan), who was originally going to rescue Helene, he sets forth to deliver his fair lady. But not only do seven curses await the noble knights, but Branton is upset about being replaced and has no intention of letting George be the hero.

Even the robots at Mystery Science Theater 3000 found this to be rather charming, especially for notorious schlock director Bert I. Gordon. Rathbone and Windwood are having a great time hamming it up, and even the bad special effects add to the fun. Worth checking out if you want your sword-and-sorcery tales on the lighter side or have grade-school-age kids with a fondness for fantasy.

The Vagabond King (1956)
The Magic Sword (1962)

Oh yes, and the second commercial for Solo: A Star Wars Story finally dropped today. I don't care what anyone else says. I think this looks like it's going to be a blast, especially Donald Glover as a pitch-perfect Lando. I loved Han's "You look great!" response to Chewie's age, too. And was that Chewie's wife Malla he was hugging briefly?

To paraphrase Han, I have a good feeling about this. ;)

Solo: A Star Wars Story Trailer #2

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