Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Music of Home

Began a really quick morning with Barbara Streisand's first Broadway-themed album and Buttermilk Pancakes for breakfast. While the pancakes were thin, they at least came out pretty well. Had them with half of a grapefruit.

Rushed out to work and got there just in time. Which was a good thing. We were busy for a lot of the day. Not only are we getting close to the beginning of the month, but the Sixers play the Celtics in the playoffs this week, the Kentucky Derby is next Saturday, and there's Cinco Del Mayo on Thursday, too. (Not to mention May Day and Star Wars Day for more minor holidays and events, and it's the height of spring high school varsity sports season.) I spent most of the first half of the day bagging and cleaning the bathrooms, though I did get stuck in the registers for a while. It slowed down enough for me to work on doing three full carts of returns during the second half.

Headed home after buying a bottle of Liquid Plumber. My tub has been running slow for a while now. After I cleaned that out, I worked on writing. Ahsoka leads Leia into the mountains to find her special crystal to make her own magic sword. As they head to the edge of the mountain, they also run into the little green man Leia had met on the road earlier. Ahsoka introduces him as Yoda, the oldest remaining Grand Master Jedi Knight.

Broke for dinner at 5:30. I made Turkey Meatloaf from a combination of a meatloaf recipe from the 1995 Southern Living cookbook and Archimedes's Meatloaf from The Mickey Mouse Cookbook. Even with uncooked oatmeal replacing the bread crumbs (which I don't have), it was still very crumbly. The broccoli and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake came out much better. (Though I did make a mess with the cake and splash it all over, including on me, when I turned it onto the pan.)

Ran a couple of movie soundtracks during dinner. Paint Your Wagon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips both came out in the late 1960's, when movie musicals were starting to falter at the box office. Paint Your Wagon, partially based after the 1952 Broadway show, is more problematic. Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin are supposed to be prospectors fighting over the same woman, but neither of them can sing a note. The one actor who can, Harve Presnell, gets the score's best song "They Call the Wind Mariah" and the ensemble number "There's a Coach Comin' In," but he really doesn't have much else to do. I do know some people who grew up in the 60's and 70's and really liked this movie and the score, so your mileage may vary on this one.

Goodbye Mr. Chips adapts a movie and novella, rather than Broadway. Peter O'Toole isn't bad as the shy title teacher, despite his lack of singing ability. Petula Clark is much better as the music hall performer he marries who finally brings him out of his shell and together with the kids. Most critics at the time also complained about it being moved from the early 1900's to the 1920's and 30's. By far the best thing is Leslie Bricusse's charming score, including the rousing "London Is London" for Clark and touching "What a Lot of Flowers" for O'Toole.

I hadn't had a good workout on Wii Sports for a while. I went right into a couple of rounds of boxing. Knocked out two guys in one round and one guy in two, then worked on baseball games. I've gotten much better at baseball; got my first bronze medal on the Home Run Derby mini-game. Posted my best-ever bowling score, too.

Moved on to Lego Star Wars next. Did a few more of the bounty hunter mini-rounds, mostly looking for Jedi, along with Commander Cody from Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. I still can't find Qui-Gon Jinn or Mace Windu, and I had a hard time finding R2-D2 as well.

Ended the night by continuing the musical flops theme, this time with a stage show. Greenwillow was one of the big Broadway shows of 1960, but it barely made it three months that spring. Though Frank Loesser is usually associated with brassier shows like Guys and Dolls and Here's Love, here he attempted a genuine folk musical. The oldest son of the farming Briggs family has been cursed with a wanderlust that sends them packing and on the road, and leaves their womenfolk to fend for themselves. Oldest son Gideon (Anthony Perkins) is feeling that wanderlust, but he does really love his girl Dorrie (Ellen McCown). He turns to the kindly Reverend Birdsong (Cecil Kellaway) to help him break the curse. Meanwhile, Birdsong has a rival in a fire-and-brimstone priest who preaches sin while he speaks of redemption, Gideon's grandmother tries to get her former fiancee to give up a cow, and the family celebrates the birth of a calf.

This is a little too weird and whimsical for my taste...and evidently for a lot of other people, given that short run. It doesn't help that, once again, we have a lead who can't sing; Perkins lacks O'Toole's charisma and has little chemistry with McCown. (He was rehearsing Psycho at the same time as this show, which may explain a few things about his performance.) Some of the music isn't bad; "The Music of Home" and "Never Will I Marry" got some pop recordings at the time. I also liked "Summertime Love" and "Greenwillow Christmas." This is fun if you collect flop musicals, are looking for a show with a more down-home flavor, or are a fan of the cast or Loesser. Anyone else can pass on this one.

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