Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2.23 One Last Nano Nano

"O Captain, My Captain! Our fearful trip is done.
The ship has weathered every rack. The prize we sought is won.
The port is near, the bells I hear,the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring,
But O heart!heart!heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."
   -WALT WHITMAN

I had the pleasure to meet Robin McLaurin Williams in 1979, just as his star was beginning to rise. The occasion was "VIP Night On Broadway," a tres chi-chi affair mounted by Broadway legends Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Phyllis Newman and sponsored by Burger King (You haven't lived until you've had Whoppers with champagne chasers!) to raise money for the New York City Patrolman's Benevolent Association's Vest Fund. Earlier in the evening, he played a homeless person who rambled about the day the Japanese took over Manhattan and turned Broadway into Ginza-way. I had already seen his work on the ill-fated revival of LAUGH-IN (unfortunately, without Rowan and Martin or any of the other original regulars) as well as MORK AND MINDY, and I was aware that this was a comic force to be reckoned with. When the show ended and we all went to the after-party, Robin worked the room shaking hands and saying Hi as he went. I had the pleasure to get his autograph and I can honestly say he was truly the nicest guy in the room that evening.

That's why I was shocked to hear about his subsequent bouts with depression. Chicago-born, Julliard-trained Robin always was the best part of any movie he starred in, from GOOD MORNING VIETNAM to DEAD POETS SOCIETY (Hence the Whitman quote), even redeeming clunkers like Robert Altman's live-action POPEYE and Disney's FLUBBER. He was truly a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-all-media. He was that rare comic who could work blue and clean and morph right into drama.

From GOOD WILL HUNTING to THE FISHER KING, everybody has their own favorite Robin Williams memory.

The last TV series Robin ever worked on was CBS' THE CRAZY ONES, a modern "Mad Men" set in a San Francisco ad agency which took its title from a classic Apple spot wherin Steve Jobs saluted the crazy ones such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King,Jr., and Jim Henson, who weren't afraid to challenge the status quo. To that toast, I add the name of Robin Williams, but at the same time, I wish he had stayed around to continue to entertain new generations of fans.

Nano nano, Robin.

Happy trails, buckaroo. You will be missed.
Steve


Sunday, August 10, 2014

2.22 Steve's Movie Blog: MARVEL's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY PG-13

By now, I guess you have Marvel Studios pretty well figured out. They take only the best known heroes, build multi-million dollar epics that reflect their greatness around them, and immediately after the director yells "Cut!", they start looking at scripts and headshots and planning THE NEXT GREAT PICTURE, right?

If you've been with Marvel (Comics) for a long time you know they have a reputation for taking the playbook (even their own) and tearing it to shreds. One example of this has just hit cinemas from Anchorage to Ankara and everywhere in between. Ladies and gentlemen, the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

STAR-LORD Created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, Peter Quill, the son of an Earthling mother and alien father, isn't exactly your traditional clean-cut, smiling intergalactic protector. As portrayed by Chris Pratt, he can be a real jerk, but when planets are threatened, he shows true leadership potential.


GAMORA Created by Jim Starlin and played in the movie by Zoe Saldana, this adopted daughter of the super villain Thanos would rather be a protector than an agressor, although the egos she has to deal with DO make it a bit hard! Still, she is both a team player and a good leader.

GROOT Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and my CWPF Darlin' Dick Ayers, (I see him and his charming wife Lindy every year at conventions. He is never too busy to autograph one of his old books or discuss his "Saturday TV Funhouse" graphic novels scripted by SNL veteran and "Funhouse" creator Robert Smigel. But, I digress.) this tree-like monster of few words (All he says is, "I...am...GROOT!") is played by Vin Diesel with a combination of nobility, intelligence, and strength.

ROCKET RACCOON Created by two of the nicest guys in the comic biz I have had the pleasure to meet, Boisterous Bill Mantlo and Klobberin' Keith Giffen and named in homage to Paul McCartney's country classic "Rocky Raccoon," this short but powerful alien hero is a loose cannon, a born fighter, furry, ANYTHING but cute! SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK's Bradley Cooper goes...all...the...way to score a touchdown with a winning voiceover of this character.

DRAX THE DESTROYER Created by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin,WWE Superstar Dave Bautista applies the better aspects of his wrestling character to this supporting character in the Captain Mar-Vell saga whose goal is to exact revenge on Thanos.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Originally created in 1969 by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan and spectacularly revived in 2008 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, this James Gunn-written-and-directed effort is not exactly your average Marvel epic, but then, these are not exactly your average Marvel heroes. It DOES have your requisite mix of believable heroes, realisitic dialogue, incredible special effects, and more than a few laughs, but it ALSO has a score which features what one of my favorite DJ's once described as "MOTOWN, SOUL AND ROCK N' ROLL!" (For example, Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and the musical highlight, Blue Suede's "Hooked On A Feeling".) Except for the obligatory Stan Lee appearance, this is unlike any movie you've ever seen, and stick around after the credits for a little surprise!

If you love super hero movies, you'll love this one! If you don't, this movie will change your mind! SEE IT!

Excelsior!
Steve

Monday, August 4, 2014

2.21 "Oh, Bother, I Forgot"!-Winnie the Pooh

Sorry for being AWOL and MIA, loyal members of Steve Nation, but there's been SOOOOOOO much happening, I don't know WHERE to start!

Actually, I'll try, by saying my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of MH17, and if you can, please make a donation to your local Red Cross, Red Mogen David, or Red Crescent, and write "MH17," "Malaysia Airlines MH17," or "Flight MH17" in the "Memo" space on your check.

As for our US Soccer Team, good job, guys, and I hope that barring a boycott, you make it to the 2018 World Cup. I BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL WIN! (I also hope you guys don't get tired of that since we kept shouting it and you still lost. Oh, well! See you in Moscow if there IS a Moscow!)

So much for the Lazy, Hazy,Crazy Days of Summer. It hasn't been all that Hazy, Hot and Humid here in the Northeastern United States, and it hasn't been Lazy for me! So far I have seen Paul McCartney at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY, (After I left the TU, as they call it, to get some sleep for my ride home, Paul let a man and woman on stage, and the guy dropped to one knee and popped THE question. She said yes and Paul serenaded them with "When I'm Sixty-Four.") Minor League Baseball, (the Staten Island Yankees and the former Pittsfield Mets, now the Tri-City ValleyCats, affiliated with the Houston Astros and playing at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, NY), another British Invasion star, Peter Asher, as the Cutting Room in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, (I had the pleasure to share my table with legendary New York radio journo Patty Steele and hubby Steve Kingston.) the aforementioned Ms. Steele's current boss, Scott Shannon, now broadcasting at WCBS-FM as he celebrated his one-hundred-and-first (as in the station's frequency of 101. mhZ on the smilin' FM dial) morning show live from the City Winery in Lower Manhattan (with Billy Joel saxman Mark Rivera, cover band 45 RPM, American Idol Constantine Maroulis, and Micky Dolenz of one of Paul's favorite Beatle imitators, the Monkees), harness racing's answer to the Kentucky Derby, the Hambletonian, at the all new Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ (where I met Kevin Jonas who had NOTHING to do with harness racing, but EVERYTHING to do with Jersey, because he and his fellow Jonas Brothers came from there), and the Runyon 5k Run/Walk presented by the MetLife Foundation, which was held at Yankee Stadium and raised money for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. (First of all, you can help them either directly or by buying theatre tickets to "Book of Mormon," "If/Then," "Rocky," or other great Broadway shows by going to damonrunyon.org .) I can sum that up in just one word:   WHEW!

Hard to believe, but American football is just around the corner. I'm not going to go crazy like Don Imus and tell you to bet your lungs, mortgage your home, or borrow money from organized crime, but I WILL tell you that the Giants and (former St. Louis now Arizona) Cardinals will make it to the Super Bowl and the G-Men will bring another Lombardi Trophy home. (At least you can make it a gentle person's bet or a clean-your-room bet or something non-threatening like that.)

Until next time, and a more punctual blog...

Bye, Buckaroos!
Steve

Monday, May 19, 2014

2.20 The Good, The Bad, and the Birthday

THE GOOD

Yesterday, I celebrated my 56th birthday by going back in time, sorta, at the World's Fair International Festival at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, NY, where the 1939 and 1964 New York World's Fairs took place. I was a little late for 1939, but I was there in 1964, and I saw it all, especially the Walt Disney rides (It's A Small World, Carousel of Progress, and Magic Skyway) whose success inspired their creator to explore the possibility of creating a permanent East Coast theme park. (Walt Disney World opened some seven years later, and the rest is history!) I revisited many of the attractions at the Queens Museum and the "Tent of Tomorrow," a tribute to the 1939 Fair's theme, "the World of Tomorrow," and met a lot of great people, including Mr. and Mrs. Met, the Amazin team from Flushing's mascots. They weren't Mickey and Minnie, who I met some fifty years prior, but, hey, there's only one Mickey and Minnie team, no matter what their dopplegangers on Times Square think!

THE BAD

One day before my mom and I went out to a very special birthday dinner (Deets next!) I got a birthday present from my bank I didn't particularly want.

My checking account was hacked.

Happy frickin' birthday.

HOO-ray.

And to make matters worse, it was hacked by somebody I THOUGHT I could call a friend, somebody I THOUGHT I could trust, and that's all I'm gonna say about THAT.

If you've seen that surveillance tape of Jay-Z and his sister-in-law having at it in the elevator of a chi-chi hotel, (Did you see that SNL sketch when they "revealed" that his sib-in-law Solange, played to hilarious effect by Maya Rudolph, actually tried to remove a spider from him?) you'll probably think that privacy is all but dead. (Whether you're right is a topic for another blog.) This was certainly evidence that it HAS known better days, but take it from a guy who's been there and who's not going back: Do NOT, and I mean, NOT, give your online passwords or Social Security Number to ANYBODY! If you think this can happen only to some other guy, guess again, Chester! That other guy may be you! This has been a public service announcement from Steve's Blog!

THE BIRTHDAY

I had a FANTABULOUS birthday dinner at NYY Steak, the Yankees' steakhouse at Seven West 51st Street in Manhattan. It ain't cheap, but it's well worth the extra bucks! As for a HAPPIER surprise present than the one I mentioned above, I had a close encounter today, my ACTUAL birthday, with the TODAY Show's Hoda Kotb. She may drink a little more than the average human, but she's VERY coherent and VERY nice, and I have the pleasure to inform you wonderful people that Yours Truly will be in the TODAY audience next Monday. Stay tuned!

Well, that's it for my blogday birth, or words to that effect, but, until next time....

Bye, Buckaroos!
Steve

And remember the immortal words of the National Lampoon: "Don't be a careless person! Be a care-more person!"

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2.19 Steve's Movie Blog: Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (PG)

You are NOT in Kansas anymore.

You aren't even at WICKED which, you may be surprised to hear, showed a great deal of reverence towards L. Frank Baum's enchanted land of Oz while introducing new songs that flew into the Great Broadway Songbook with no sign of leaving.

This is an attempt, inspired by "Dorothy of Oz," a novel by Roger S. Baum, the grandson of The Royal Historian Of Oz, I refer, of course, to Lyman Frank Baum, who Rascally Roy Thomas once referred to as "The American Grimm," to bring the Oz saga into the new millenium. This animated mishmash has no memorable songs like "Over The Rainbow" or "Defy Gravity," despite the better efforts of Bryan Adams and his partner Jim Vallence. (Oh for the days of "Summer of '69," "Cuts Like A Knife," and "Heaven!")

Lea Michelle comes nowhere close to channeling Judy Garland's portrayal of Dorothy, and while it's great to hear Ackroyd and Belushi (Jim, not his late great brother) together again (Dan is the Scarecrow and Jim is the Lion) and the always delightful Kelsey Grammer as the Tin Man, the whole production only elicited tears of sleep and very few laughs from the audience, this reviewer included.

I can think of a hundred better interpetations of the Oz mythos, of course the MGM classic leads the pack hands down. After I read the names of everyone to blame for this doodad, I clicked my heels together three times and said, (You guessed it!) "There's no place like home!"

Long story short: KICK IT!

Bye Buckaroos!
Steve

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2.18 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Hard to believe, but next Wednesday, May 14, marks the FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF STEVE'S BLOG,as well as MY birthday five days early. I'd like to thank everybody in the USA,Spain,Latvia, Lithuania,France, Italy,the United Kingdom,and even Russia and Ukraine who've stuck by this blogger since Day One for their continued support. I couldn't done it without you! (Actually, I COULD have done it without you, but it would have stunk to High Heaven!) Here's to many more years! I AM considering tie-ins such as Steve's Book, Steve's Movie, Steve's Mag, Steve Radio, and Steve TV. The sky's the limit!
Sunday is Mother's Day in the USA, and I would like to wish all the best to all the women who told us to put that down cause we didn't know where it had been,sit up straight, and call when we got there. For all you do, this blog's for you. (Yeah, yeah, I know it ain't too original, but you deserve SOME recognition.)

One sure sign of warmer weather is a whole lot of TV shows going on hiatus. Next Saturday, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE welcomes Andy Samberg back as its guest host, this coming Sunday, ONCE UPON A TIME wraps up possibly its strangest season, one which began in Neverland, had an interlude in New York, and ended in Oz, Emily Thorne's quest for REVENGE is doomed to come to an end this coming Sunday after her secret identity is revealed,and ABC News says goodbye to a legend, Baba Wawa, (OOPS, I meant Barbara Walters!) with a two-hour special. Waiting in the wings are, among others, the wicked summer soap MISTRESSES (starring Alyssa Milano, among others) LOUIE, a Seinfeld-inspired (but TV-MA rated) look at the life of comedian Louis C.K.,the cop drama MOTIVE, and RISING STAR, a completely  different singing competition designed to make the American people ask, "Idol What?" "The Voice of Where?"

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Nicole Vranizan, formerly of the New York Rangers, and her colleagues Gretchen Muller and Chelsea Duffy, for their unwavering support, as a matter of fact, this whole blog was Nick's idea! Unfortunately, people are starting to write the obituary for the Broadway Blues' 2013-2014 campaign as the playoffs move to Pittsburgh, but, although it may sound Pollyannesque of me, I still believe the boys can pull a rabbit out of their hockey helmets!

I have been known to go to great lengths, namely from sunny Bermuda to snowy Quebec, just to see the Rangers, and my cousin David gave up an Ozzie-and-Harriet-style existence in Lawrenceville, NJ just to follow his beloved Grateful Dead, but a member of the morning crew on WCBS-FM nicknamed Kermit the Wonder Frog has JUST surfaced after a wild week of partying at the Carolina Rebellion Festival. And guess who he followed all the way Down South. The Stones? NOPE! Chicago (the band)? NOPE! Bruce? NOPE! The particular musical aggregation he followed was (Wait for it, wait for it.) FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH! Next time, Kermie, if you're reading this, stick with something like Billy Joel at the Garden!

Forgive me, fellow NFL fans, but I'm not following the Draft as much as I have been following it, but the Rangers have some hockey to play, and besides, how CAN you possibly follow the winter street fair on Super Bowl Boulevard?

You've been reading the HAPPY BIRTHDAY portion of Steve's Blog produced, written and choreographed by Your Humble Servant, Sturdy Steve Eisenpreis. Portions of the preceding show were last seen with faces full of birthday cake. On behalf of the management and staff, this is your announcer thanking you for your support, and reminding you that Donald Sterling is no more a non-racist than I am Scarlet Johansen.(Come to think of it, I wouldn't look TOO bad in that black jumpsuit and that red hair!)

Bye,Buckaroos!
Steve




Thursday, April 17, 2014

2.17 BABY'S HAVING A CHELSEA! BELSEA'S HAVING A CHABY!

No, there's no Mrs. Chelsea Eisenpreis, and no, I haven't gone COMPLETELY nuts. I was just referring to the classic HANNAH MONTANA episode, "Miley Hurt the Feelings of the Radio Star," wherin a DJ at a Radio Disney-type station(played by actual DJ Ernie D)who hired Miley and her two buds as interns , heard from his wife at the hospital and TRIED to say, "My wife's having a baby," but it got all messed up, and all understandably so.

The Chelsea in question is none other than Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the 42nd President of the United States, a reporter for NBC News, a participant in Bill and Hilary's Clinton Global Initiative, and, if things had turned out differently, my neighbor (but nothing can be done about that, and besides, I love the neighbors I have!), and she and hubby Marc Mezvinsky are the proud parents of a little gender-to-be-named-later. Congratulations to Chels, Marc, Bill and Hil!

Good luck to the New York Rangers as they begin their playoff series against their perennial rivals, the hated Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers, and their home ice, Madison Square Garden, are truly one of a kind, while the Flyers' animated logo is a blatant steal from the original Marvel Studios logo, only instead of pages flipping showing Marvel Super Heroes, the pages show current and past Flyers. The Rangers I know would NEVER think of doing such a thing, but they wouldn't be above yelling, "IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!," because it certainly is. LET'S GO RANGERS! BEAT THE FLYERS!

Congratulations and good luck also to fellow Steve, Stephen Colbert, who will take the wheel of the CBS Late Show next year after Dave Letterman falls off the bandstand. I hear he'll be happy to ditch his faux Conservative persona, and I can name a whole lot of people at FOX NEWS and the two major talk radio stations in NYC who'll be just as happy! (I also know a few liberals who won't miss the old Colbert!)

While we're busy congratulating and wishing people good luck, all the best to Derek Jeter as he begins his final season as a New York Yankee. (When traveling to a Yankee game, don't forget the Kleenex!)

Hope all my Jewish readers have been having a happy Passover and the rest of you have a very EGG-citing Easter!

Good news for some Cartoon Network viewers: Their Adult Swim block now begins at 8 PM Eastern.

Good news for a lot of new Disney Channel viewers: Cartoon's Adult Swim block now begins at 8 PM Eastern.

Who's  the wise guy who stole Spring? In the Northeastern US,we've been loving our sunny weather and temps in the 60's, 70's and 80's, (Sounds like a radio station tagline, doesn't it?) but some idiot has been sending snow and low temps.   There oughta be a law against that!

Until next time,

Bye, Buckaroos!
Steve