Friday, July 27, 2018

Everybody Dance

Got a quick start today. Charlie showed up around 9, just as I was finishing a couple of carrot-chocolate chip muffins and a peach for breakfast. He and another guy, Roman, had the larger window to replace the one that overlooks the park. I don't have as much in that corner anyway. I just moved the crates with the Christmas music and pushed back the music area table before heading out.

I needed money to do the laundry later and hit the Farm Market tomorrow, so I rode my bike to WaWa. Thankfully, they weren't that busy. I got 20 dollars from the ATM machine, then bought a mocha coffee drink to break it.

Messed around in my room for a little while when I got home, then went out again. I had a small load of laundry to do. Good thing it was small. They were crazy-busy again at 10:30. I got the last washer left, and there weren't that many dryers open, either. Ignored the noise and the news on channel 3 and worked on story notes.

To my surprise, Charlie and Roman were finishing up as I got home. Charlie originally said it was going to take him five hours, but it was only about 11:30. I give him credit. Though he says he'll need to do some finishing touches later this weekend, it looks pretty good. (And he didn't curse once, at least not while I was here.) I put away my laundry as they cleaned up, then followed them out the door.

Rode over to the Acme to pick up the pan I used for the lemon icebox cake yesterday and do some grocery shopping. Picked up tortillas to make tacos next week. Cherries are long gone from the farm market, but they can still be found for a good price at the Acme. Had online coupons for yogurt, the "Scandal-less" Acme generic pint light ice cream (went with Sea Salt Caramel), the Nature's Valley nut butter cookie cups (got Almond Butter), and shampoo. Restocked tuna, skim milk, brown sugar, and peanut butter.

Picked up my schedule when I went to get my pan from the back room. Perfectly normal schedule next week, all late morning and early afternoon hours, nothing longer than 6 hours or earlier than 11, and Thursday-Friday-Saturday off. I would have liked a few more hours, but we've been so dead lately, I'm probably lucky I got these.

Headed home to put everything away and have a quick yogurt and cherry lunch. Listened to the original cast album from Steel Pier as I worked. Set in Atlantic City in 1933, this is the tale of Rita Racine (Karen Ziemba), whose conniving husband Mick (Gregory Harrison) originally set her up as "Lindy's Lovebird," the first girl to kiss Charles Lindbergh when he came back from France, then pushed her into a series of dance marathons. During the most recent, Rita encounters Bill Kelly (Daniel McDonald), a handsome pilot who becomes her partner and whom she falls for. Mick tries to promote the heck out of that too, including a fake wedding with songs from his newest girlfriend (Kristin Chenowith, in her first Broadway appearance). But Bill isn't what he appears, and he's there on borrowed time...

It's too bad the story is really strange, because there's a lot to admire here. The attention to detail is remarkable. Many of the Atlantic City landmarks referenced (including Steel Pier and Frailinger's Taffy) either existed then, or still do today. I remember when the Press of Atlantic City did a series of stories on its pre-Broadway tryouts and its arrival on the Great White Way. It was that big of a deal there. There's some great songs here, too. I'm especially fond of Rita's "Willing to Ride," "Leave the World Behind" for her, Bill, and the chorus, "Everybody Dance" which introduces the marathon, and "Everybody's Girl," a comic vamp number for Debra Monk as singer Shelby Stevens.

But oh, that book! Why did they feel the need to turn this into a ghost story? The marathon and love triangle probably would have worked fine on their own. There's also a lot of emphasis on minor characters (including Chenowith's) that goes nowhere on the recording. I'm not the only one who was annoyed with the odd plot. This lasted a little over two months in the spring and early summer of 1997. Despite it garnering 11 Tony nominations and 9 Drama Desk nods, it walked away with nothing. I've had this cast album since it was released. It's grown on me over the years...but unless you're a South Jersey musical fan like me or are a big Kander and Ebb fan, it's probably nothing you really need to go out of your way for.

Made my way out again around quarter after 2. I had to do a few things in Westmont, starting at Dollar Tree. For once, they were pretty quiet when I arrived. I got birthday cards for Dad-Bruce (tomorrow) and Skylar (Tuesday) and went right back out in less than 10 minutes.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't much busier. There wasn't really much to do there. I organized all of the DVD shelves and put away the few titles that were around. Took out a couple of recent movies I missed last fall and winter that looked interesting, the comedy Battle of the Sexes and the biographical drama I, Tonya, plus the action-drama The Lost City of Z and a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic set that was centered around Rarity.

They were just setting up for Oaklyn's Final Friday Festival when I arrived on West Clinton. There wasn't a whole lot going on yet. There were several empty spaces, despite it being almost 4:30, opening time. I suspect that the threats of rain may have scared a lot of folks off. It had been off-and-on sunny and killer humid for most of the day, but the clouds were gathering even as Sarah O'Brian set up the "Community Rocks" booth. I decided I really didn't have the money for the food trucks and went home.

Spent the next few hours writing and researching. Leia and Harry are now staying at an opulent penthouse suite in Hotel Ville Du Nueve, Laurence's luxurious Riviera hotel. She's trying to get her godfather's notes organized and has asked Laurence where the lost Sword of Wisdom might be. He says he'll talk to several people he knows, but his answers feel evasive to her...

(Incidentally, it finally started raining while I was writing. It hasn't rained since dinner, thankfully.)

Rose called just as I was looking up bus and train schedules. First of all, it's would just take too long for me to take two trains and a bus home Sunday morning before noon. I'm afraid I won't be able to go with her and her family to Dad-Bill and Mom's house tomorrow. Second, she wants to meet sometime early next week to sign the papers for that doctor and discuss the letter for Miss Willa.

Broke for a quick dinner of Tuscan Tuna Salad and leftover Chinese beans around 7. Took a shower, then finished the night with the 1953 MGM musical The Band Wagon. Tony (Fred Astaire) is washed up in Hollywood and is hoping to make a comeback on Broadway. His songwriter friends Lily (Nanette Fabray) and Lester (Oscar Levant) have written a light musical to help him get back on his feet...but they've entrusted it to hammy Broadway director and actor Jerry Cordova (legendary British performer Jack Buchanon). Cordova suddenly decides to turn it into a musical version of the Faust story, including a dark plot, far more special effects, and the addition of prima ballerina Gabby Geraud (Cyd Charisse). Tony's not at all sure of this, Gabby even more so. The duo finally connect in Central Park, remembering why they loved to dance in the first place. When it turns out that the show is a flop, Tony throws in his own money to revamp it the way they wanted it to be originally...but he and Gabby are still having a hard time getting together...

This is one of my favorite movies. I didn't even get to mention the best number, the sexy and hilarious spoof of film noir and extended ballet sequences in musicals "The Girl Hunt," with Astaire as a hard-boiled private eye pursuing loose lady Charisse. Astaire and Charisse's "Dancing In the Dark" in the park is considered to be one of the most iconic musical numbers on film. I also like "That's Entertainment," the breezy "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" for Buchanon and Astaire, and the infamous "Triplets," with Buchanon, Fabray, and Astaire on their knees as fussy babies. You'd never know how rough filming was from the finished product - Fabray and cranky Levant really did hate each other, Astaire's wife died during filming, and he really was worried that Charisse was too tall for him.

Any fan of musicals in general or the big MGM musicals of the 40's and 50's in particular will want to check this out. If you want to know what the MGM musical was all about, this and Singin' In the Rain are great places to start.

Oh, and I came up with an idea. It's just something I'm considering right now, but I may start a third, more commercial blog specifically for reviews of musical films (and occasionally other movies that float my boat). I haven't seen many, if any, blogs devoted strictly to reviewing movie musicals. I've gotten praise for my reviews from several quarters. They're something I know and already do on a regular basis. Plus, it would be far easier to set up a blog (which I already know how to do) and put a few affiliates on it and maybe mention it in a few places than it would be for me to try to sell myself as a transcriptionist or virtual assistant, things I haven't done in years. I'll be doing some research on this possibility next week.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Emma, yes, link yourself to as an associate.