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Weekly Mishmash: November 15-21

Fifteen years ago tonight, Christopher and I first met at a theatrical performance of the Gershwin musical Crazy for You. He was there to review the show for our local afternoon paper, and I was the stray person who took his extra comp ticket. I can’t say that we totally clicked that night, but we were friendly enough to arrange a date later that week — and we’ve been talking every day since then. The newspaper he worked for in 1994 is long gone, but the two of us are still together. You could even say that “Our Love is Here to Stay.” Happy 15th, and here’s hoping we’re together for several more anniversaries!
The American President (1994). You know this one: Michael Douglas as the president of the United States, and Annette Bening as the lobbyist who captures his heart. I was attracted to this for Aaron Sorkin’s script, since it came out in between A Few Good Men (which I haven’t seen) and the TV cult favorite Sports Night. Sorkin’s stylized dialogue isn’t in any way realistic to the way people really talk, but it never fails to be spot-on and funny. This was no exception, but the film itself tends toward the formulaic and Bening’s overacting is insufferable (akin to the more recent film where she played a stage actress and inexplicably got an Oscar nomination). Minor quibbles aside, I enjoyed it. Many of the points that Sorkin brings up here were remarkably prescient in light of the Clinton/Lewinsky fracas and the relentless stupidity of the Bush II era.
Old Man Rhythm (1935). A silly RKO musical broadcast during Turner Class Movies’ salute to songwriter Johnny Mercer. This college-set fluff served as a vehicle for long in the tooth silent star Charles “Buddy” Rogers, but it’s now better known for having Mercer in a rare acting role and a young (and incredibly cute) Betty Grable in support. The film’s many songs are actually quite clever, if deficient in the memory retention department. Mostly I recall the fat guy doing an athletic dance during one number. This film is also notable for having not one but two of the great “sissy” character actors in Eric Blore and Donald Meek. People like those two make even the worst time-waster bearable.
Tim Tam chocolate biscuits. A package of these delectable Australian cookies came as a special surprise from Kris, along with the scarf she knitted for me. Chocolate covered wafers of bliss, they are.
album_lovetrainVarious – Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia. I originally didn’t intend to have this four disc, 71-track monument to the ’70s peak of Philly Soul. But… emusic.com lured me back with 75 bonus songs and this box set seemed to murmur “download me, baby” in Barry White-esque tones. It’s an excellent and classy set, mostly dealing with the unprecedented string of hits legendary songwriting/production team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff shepherded with Philadelphia International Records. A few side trips with producer Thom Bell and The Spinners epitomize the breezy and upbeat sound that characterized the genre (really, I dare you to hear “I’ll Be Around” or “Then Came You” and not smile). It’s interesting to hear the first pulses of disco in the swinging rhythm of “The Love I Lost” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, then having it culminate in the joyful noise of M.F.S.B.’s Soul Train anthem “T.S.O.P.” Along the way are plenty of dazzling numbers from both lesser lights and the likes of Teddy Pendergrass and The O’Jays. Although the set has its share of draggy ballads and overlong album cuts, it’s amazing the way it documents the rise and fall of a style of music. From the ’67 golden oldie “Expressway to Your Heart” to Patti LaBelle’s polished R&B hit “If Only You Knew” — Gamble and Huff’s last hurrah from 1983 — one can only be wowed.

3 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash: November 15-21

  1. Happy anniversary! You guys are definitely one of the model couples I keep in my head as an example of an awesome relationship. :)

  2. Happy 15th anniversary, you crazy kids!

  3. Happy Annie-versary!

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