Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2.23 SANTA STEVE'S NAUGHTY LIST

Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Dogs and Cats, to the 2014 edition of Santa Steve's Naughty List, the first of two year-end specials wherein we count down the best and worst newsmakers of the year. ICYMI (or, In Case You Missed It), the two naughtiest newsmakers of '13 were those jerks who turned the Boston Marathon into a nightmare and the two nicest were Miles "Batkid" Scott, who upheld law and order in San Francisco thanks to Make-A-Wish, and the late,great president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Who gets the coal in their stocking and a $100 donation to charity in their name, respectively, THIS year? There's only one way to find out... LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!


DISHONORABLE MENTION

STEVE

Yep, the Steve in Steve's Blog. Moi. Yo. Io. Mir. I haven't been cranking out as many blogs this year as I did this year. MY BAD! I'm going to make it up to you in 2015!

10. THE FILTHY ANIMALS

They never give up, do they? I'm surprised nobody before WNBC reporter Michael Garguilo called the Times Square costumed performers in ratty Mickey Mouse, Elmo, and Spider-Man outfits "panhandlers," but if the shoe fits! They took their case to the City Council and the politicians were, understandably, underwhelmed. Their next costume should be as normal human beings with actual jobs!

9. BILL DEBLASIO

What kind of New York City Mayor eats pizza with a knife and fork, shows up late for memorial services (and key media events), and wants to eliminate those iconic Central Park carriage horses? This guy.

8. MILEY CYRUS

Just when I thought her inner Hannah Montana had risen to the top when she allowed a homeless friend to accept her MTV Video Music Award in her name and deliver a tearjerking speech on the plight of homeless youth, it turns out this guy has been wanted in a few states and not wanted in all the rest! Add to that continued displays of outrageous behavior and your blogger has come to the inescapable conclusion: If Miles wants to escape her Disney past, she should stop acting Goofy!

7. THE NEW YORK YANKEES

They could have let Derek Jeter retire in true championship style with another World Series victory, but did they? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

6. ALL OTHER NEW YORK TEAMS, EXCEPT THE ISLANDERS

Get with the program, guys, and get some touchdowns, goals, and slam dunks! I'm talking to you, Giants, Knicks and Rangers!

5. HOWARD STERN

I love the fact that you delivered the eulogy for your friend Joan Rivers at my favorite synagogue, gorgeous Congregation Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue, but did it HAVE to be so profanity-laced, Sterno? If you can rein it in for AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, surely you can tone it down at a funeral!

4. MOTHER NATURE

Why did it have to be so dang cold this past summer and so dang warm in the last few weeks? As a citizen of Manhattan, I naturally have a preference over Buffalo, but what happened to them shouldn't happen to a dog! Go snow in somebody else's city!

3. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD

I haven't heard your TODAY show musical yet, but based on your sparkling track record with your Broadway musical based on the life of Aimee Semple McPhereson, Sondheim has NOTHING to worry about!

2. BILL COSBY

On the late, unlamented Sesame Workshop-produced health show FEELING GOOD, (Full disclosure: My cousin Bob Bendick, who also worked on TODAY, was the producer for this well-intentioned turkey.) Bill Cosby attempted to show his basketball prowess, and legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell commented,"William Henry Cosby, Junior. You call yourself a comedian. How accurate that description after that laughable excuse for a slam dunk." Equally laughable is how well Cos is attempting to  live up to his America's Dad image after recent allegations of molestation. I used to be a big fan of this guy. I saw him at Radio City Music Hall during his reign as King Of Thursday Night and at Kaufmann Astoria Studios for his shortlived Americanization of the British comedy "One Foot In The Grave," and watch his many TV projects, especially FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDS. He just eliminated any respect I still had for his extensive body of work. I can't repeat exactly what SNL Weekend Update anchor Michael Che said to Cos who has chastised African-American men on their lewd and lascivious behavior, but, at the risk of sounding racist, talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

And the absolute, WORST newsmaker of 2014 is...

THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND SYRIA

We WILL kick your butt!

NEXT: THE NICE LIST!

Steve


Steve's Mega- Movie Blog

HOW TO BUILD A BETTER BOY

While Disney may have invented many entertainment types we now take for granted, it can't claim credit for the TV movie, but in instances such as HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 1 and 2, CADET KELLY, JUMP IN!, and ZENON: GIRL OF THE 23RD CENTURY and its "zequel," it certainly perfected it. Add to this roster HOW TO BUILD A BETTER BOY, a teen comedy/action drama starring Kelli Berglund, no stranger to this genre, as Mae Hartley,the daughter of a video game designer (Or so she's been told!), and China Anne McClain as her bestie, Gabby Harrison. As our story begins, Mae tries to make Jaden Stark (Noah Centineo), the star QB, love math as much as he does football, but she does NOT...GO...ALL..THE...WAY! That night, Mae and Gabby hack into Dad's equipment. They THINK they're creating the perfect virtual video game boyfriend, but little did they know that Dear Old Dad actually works for THE PENTAGON and their Mr. Right is actually THE PROTOTYPE OF A SERIES OF SUPER SOLDIER ROBOTS! Kelli brings her expertise from Disney XD's LAB RATS wherin she plays Bree Davenport, one of a family of bionic heroes who just HAPPEN to live in the basement of an average American boy  and his reporter mom, and while she and China (A.N.T FARM, short for "Advanced Natural Talent") are clearly the central characters as is Albert, the Better Boy, (Marshall Williams), Ieva Lucs steals the show as Major Jenks, a love-starved soldier who never went to a prom and must live vicariously through Mae. While Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door, " the Mouse is clearly building better movies, especially HOW TO BUILD A BETTER BOY. See if your cable company has the WATCH DISNEY CHANNEL app or see if you can get Disney Channel On Demand, but SEE IT! (BTW, China's vocal talents are on display on A.N.T. FARM, but check out Marshall and Kelli's duet on fellow Disney star Selena Gomez' "Love You Like A Love Song.")

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014)

I'm not going to use the derogatory terms associated with two certain Disney characters to describe this attempted reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action franchise, but they certainly apply. Those who paid close attention to the last three live-action TMNT movies may recall that the boys were actually animated by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and anybody who remembers the man knows that anything attatched to his name has to meet certain standards of quality. This "cowa-bummer" misses those standards by a country mile and is a pizza...nuff said.

BIRDMAN

Don't believe the hype. It should be called Bird Poop.

BIG HERO 6

DO believe the hype on this one! This Disney delight takes this parody of/tribute to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and other Japanese super heroes (based on the Marvel comic SUNFIRE AND BIG HERO 6 by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Roleau) to new heights! Inventor Hiro, loose cannon Go Go, Valley Girl Honey Lemon,comic relief Wasabi, slacker Fred, and robot Baymax combine to fight evil in the hybrid future town of San Fransokyo and gain the super power of friendship. Big Hero is a big hit!

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

If you find this alleged dramedy starring Tina Fey and Connie Britton (NASHVILLE) among others, leave it.

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE,HORRIBLE,NO GOOD,VERY BAD DAY

This wonderful, beautiful, not bad, very good adaptation of Judith Viorst's picture book is a laugh riot from opening credits to end titles, although it DOES dwell heavily on our hero's planned departure to Australia. (Some days I can't say I blame him!) Jennifer Garner and Steve Carrell steal the show as Mom and Dad, Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke puts in a great performance trying to read a kids' book which has endured a major printing error, and SHAKE IT UP! cutie Bella Thorne lives up to her name as a stood-up prom queen. Kudos to the Jim Henson Company and Shawn Levy on a fantastic,fabulous,no worries, totally awesome movie.

OVER THE GARDEN WALL

This recent Cartoon Network mini-series aspires to be the offbeat kind of fantasy adventure one expects from the home of ADVENTURE TIME, STEVEN UNIVERSE, UNCLE GRANDPA, and REGULAR SHOW, but stops just short. It IS worth a download from Netflix or Amazon just for the sake of curiosity.
SPOILER ALERT: It originally aired just after Halloween 2014 and the last chapter is set at a Halloween party. Let that inform your decision to download or not.

NEXT: Santa Steve's Naughty and Nice Lists!

Happy Thanksgiving, Buckaroos!
Steve

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2.24 Too Much To Talk About!

First of all, I just flew in from Memphis, and, boy, are my arms tired! (The old ones are still the best!) If you haven't been to Memphis, first of all, why?, second of all, you should. It's the Home of the Blues (W.C. Handy,B.B. King) and the Birthplace of Rock N' Roll .(Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and this guy from nearby Mississippi named...uh,Presley. Anybody know what happened to him?)

Any which ways, the highlight of my trip had to be Graceland, which Elvis' dad bought from this couple (The wife's name happened to be Grace. AND NOW...YOU KNOW.) and he, the King, turned into possibly one of the greatest addresses in music history Upon arrival, every tourist receives an iPad upon which a tour narrated by John Stamos has been downloaded, and you can see just about anything in the legendary mansion. You can also get everything Elvis at one of a few official liscenced gift shops, see some of his movie memorablila in a special museum, and even spend the night at the Heartbreak Hotel, down at the end of Lonely Street just off Elvis Presley Boulevard. (Seriously!) Find out more at http://www.elvis.com , which links to the Graceland site, the official Elvis-only radio station on Sirrius XM, and the social media sites. (More on Memphis at http://www.stevesspecialblog.com !)

Yes, I HAVE been keeping up with the new series on TV, and my favorites so far are

A TO Z (NBC, TV-14) Ben Feldman is Andrew Lofland, a man's man who just happens to work at an online dating service, and Christin Millotte is Zelda Vasco, a lawyer who tries to lodge a complaint against Wallflower, Andrew's place of employment, but ends up meeting him instead. Narrated by Katey Sagal ("Married with Children," "Sons of Anarchy"), this romantic comedy in 26 acts is brought to you by the letters E for entertaining. F for fun, and W for witty and wonderful.

THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA (NBC, TV-14) To say Laura (Debra Messing) has her hands full is an understatement. She's a tough New York City detective AND a single mom of two hellions whose captain just HAPPENS to be her ex-husband! The biggest mystery is how she manages to hold it all together, but it's worth spending an hour every Wednesday at 9 PM ET to find out!

BAD JUDGE (NBC, TV-14) After a decade as Dr. Addison Montgomery on Grey's Anatomy and its spinoff Private Practice, Kate Walsh trades in her scrubs for judicial robes, but, as the title indicates, this judge is no saint. Will Ferrell and his Funny Or Die partner Adam McKay stay classy by executive-producing this arresting mix of comedy and drama with comedy clearly in the driver's seat, or should I say, in the juror's box!

GIRL MEETS WORLD (Disney Channel, TV-G) This update of the ABC classic Boy Meets World has been on since this past summer, and it's never too late to join in the fun! Corey (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel), who we saw grow up in Philly, have since married and moved to the Big Apple where he currently works as a high school teacher trying to explain it all to his prize student (and daughter) Riley (Rowan Blanchard) and her bestie Maya (Sabrina Carpenter). It may not be JUST like old times, but if you remember the original (currently playing in reruns on ABC Family),it's worth a look!

WORLD SERIES (FOX Sports) Whoda thought a small (ish) town like Kansas City would become such a center of culture, industry, and sports? ROYALS IN FIVE! (Sorry, San Francisco, but not much.)

Next blog, and I don't just guarantee it, I GUARAN-DOGGONE-TEE IT, there will be a next blog, I will go over the best of the new movies. Till then, have a happy, not too scary and safe Halloween, I love you for reading this, pray for our troops (and journalists covering the Ebola outbreak), AND...

Bye, Buckaroos!
Steve



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!"