Saturday, April 25, 2009


Spring, the Sweet Spring
from Summer’s Last Will and Testament by Thomas Nashe (1600)

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,

Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,

Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,

Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,

And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,

Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,

In every street these tunes our ears do greet:

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Parade - 1948

Easter Parade - 1948

Easter Parade is a 1948 musical film starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. It features music by Irving Berlin, including some of Astaire and Garland's best-known songs, such as "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and "We're a Couple of Swells."

The film won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. It also received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. It was the most successful picture of Astaire's career and it was the highest-grossing musical of the year.
Don Hewes (Fred Astaire), a Broadway star, is out buying Easter presents for his sweetheart, starting with a hat and some flowers ("Happy Easter"). Then he goes into a toy shop, and buys a cuddly Easter rabbit, after persuading a young boy to part with it and buy a set of drums instead ("Drum Crazy"). He takes the gifts to his dancing partner, Nadine Hale (Ann Miller). She explains that she has had an offer for a show, which would feature her as a solo star. Don tries to change her mind, and it looks as if he has succeeded ("It Only Happens When I Dance With You"), until an old friend of Don's, Johnny (Peter Lawford), turns up. Nadine reveals that she and Don are no longer a team. It becomes obvious that Nadine is attracted to Johnny.

Angry, Don brags that he does not need Nadine and that he can make a star out the next dancer he meets. That turns out to be a girl named Hannah Brown (Judy Garland). She performs a duet, singing a musical number with a member of the band (Norman S. Barker) on trombone, "I Want to Go Back to Michigan." The next morning, Don tries to turn Hannah into a copy of Nadine, teaching her to dance the same way and buying her dresses in a similar style. However, Hannah makes several mistakes and the show is a fiasco.
Hannah meets Johnny, who is instantly attracted to her and performs "A Fella With An Umbrella." Don realizes his mistake and starts over from scratch, creating routines more suited to Hannah's personality. Hannah sings "I Love A Piano", and she and Don work out a dance routine that proves much more successful than their earlier performance. The duo also perform "Snookie-Ookums", "The Ragtime Violin", and "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam".

At an audition for Ziegfeld Follies, where they perform "Midnight Choo-Choo", they meet Nadine, who is starring in the show. Hannah learns that Nadine is Don's former dancing partner, and demands to know if they were in love. Don hesitates, and Hannah runs out of the rehearsal, where she encounters Johnny. They go out to dinner. Back at the hotel, Don reveals that he has turned down the Ziegfeld show - Hannah and Nadine do not belong in the same show. At dinner with Johnny, after a comical routine by the waiter, Johnny reveals that he has fallen in love with Hannah, but Hannah says that she is in love with Don; she even admits to deliberately making mistakes when they rehearse so that she can be with him longer.
Meanwhile, Nadine's show opens, and Don goes to see it ("Shakin' The Blues Away"). He is the only member of the audience who seems unimpressed. Hannah goes to dinner at Don's, only to have him suggest a rehearsal. She is upset and tells him that he's "nothing but a pair of dancing shoes" and that he doesn't see her as a woman, but as a dancing aid. Hannah is particularly annoyed that Don doesn't notice her new clothes and all the effort she has made for him. She turns to walk out, but Don stops her as he finally realizes that he loves Hannah and they embrace. The couple take part in a variety show, with a solo by Don ("Steppin' Out With My Baby"), and then the most famous number in the film ("A Couple of Swells"), in which Don and Hannah play a pair of street urchins with vivid imaginations.

Don and Hannah go out to celebrate after the show, and end up watching Nadine perform. Nadine is mad with jealousy when the audience gives Don and Hannah a round of applause as they come in. Nadine is the star dancer in "The Girl On The Magazine Cover". The song features an ingenious stage act, in which women appear against backdrops that look like the covers of contemporary magazines. Nadine herself appears on the cover of Harper's Bazaar. Afterwards, she insists that Don perform one of their old numbers with her for old times sake - "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (Reprise)". When Don reluctantly agrees, Hannah becomes upset and runs out.
She ends up at the bar where she and Don first met. There she pours out her troubles to Mike, the bartender ("Better Luck Next Time"). Later that night, Don tries to explain that he was forced to dance with Nadine, but Hannah will not listen. She thinks Don used her to make Nadine jealous and win her back. Don tells her that he'll wait all night for her to forgive him, but just as Hannah opens the door, Don is kicked out of her building by the doorman, who has heard his yelling. Eventually, Don's apologies reach her and she arrives unexpectedly at his house the following morning, as if the argument had never happened. She brings gifts as well, including an Easter rabbit inside a new top hat. Don is a little confused by this turn of events, but is persuaded by his valet that he should just listen to Hannah and go out. As they walk in the Easter parade, photographers, echoing a scene with Nadine from the beginning of the film, take their pictures and Don proposes to her ("Easter Parade").

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Easter

Easter is Easter & Happy Spring!

~~Some Easter Bunny History~~
The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.

The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar.

The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.

The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.

Clifton Webb

Clifton Webb

Birth: Nov. 11, 1889
Death: Oct. 13, 1966

American stage and screen actor, best known for his film portrayals of fussy, effete snobs. Three such characterizations, the acid-tongued columnist ‘Waldo Lydecker’ in “Laura” (1944), ‘Elliott Templeton’ in “The Razor's Edge” (1946), and unlikely baby-sitter ‘Mr. Belvedere’ in “Sitting Pretty” (1948), earned him Academy Award nominations. He was born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck on November 11, 1889 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Jacob Grant Hollenbeck, a railroad manager. He sought a stage career from an early age, quitting grade school at age 13 to study the arts, and actually sang with the Boston Opera Company when he was 17. Taking the stage name ‘Clifton Webb’ he danced professionally, acted on stage in London and on Broadway, and became a leading musical comedy star. Although not formally trained in dancing he had a natural talent for it, which he first demonstrated in comic vaudeville and musical shows. Mae Murray danced with him for quite a few months on the Keith vaudeville circuit. Later he would add eccentric type dances with Mary Hay and Gloria Goodwin. In 1915, the famous ballroom choreographer Ned Wayburn headlined him in his Broadway revue "Town Topics of 1915." His first film roles were playing dapper, sophisticated parts in several silent films, beginning with “Polly with a Past” (1920), but his movie career didn’t really take off until the 1940’s with the smash hit “Laura.” Webb seldom strayed very far from his patented characterization, but refined it continually. His priggish ‘Mr. Belvedere’ character was reputedly not far removed from his real life persona.

Other films include: “New Toys” (1925), “The Dark Corner” (1946), “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College” (1949), “Cheaper by the Dozen” (as efficiency expert ‘Frank Gilbreth’), “For Heaven's Sake” (1950), “Elopement” and “Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell” (1951), “Dreamboat” and “Stars and Stripes Forever” (as ‘John Philip Sousa’) (1952), “Mister Scoutmaster” and “Titanic” (1953), “Three Coins in the Fountain” and “Woman's World” (1954), “The Man Who Never Was” (1956), “Boy on a Dolphin” (1957),“The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker” and “Holiday for Lovers” (1959), and “Satan Never Sleeps” (1962). He never married and lived with his mother until her death in 1960. Clifton Webb died of a heart attack on October 13, 1966 in Beverly Hills, California at age 76.