Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2.1 Happy New Year!

Welcome to Volume 2, Number 1 of Steve's Blog. I felt that this new numeration would be the perfect way to start a brand new year, although the 100th post WILL be duly noted and celebrated! This is, actually, the first of THREE special blogs, in this blog we will wrap all the things that have happened since I congratulated Nelson Mandela and Batkid and castigated Borat and Borat, the monsters behind April's Boston massacre, in the next I will share my resolutions, (Bringing peace to the Mideast is NOT on my immediate agenda, although it WOULD be nice!) and in the third...all good things come to those who wait!


No, Concerned Ones, I did  NOT just up and fly off to Vegas and either (A) lose all my material possessions or (B) get married in one of those fly-by-night churches by an Elvis impersonator who took a mail order course! What I DID do, was enjoy the Metropolitan Opera's latest entertaining production of Verdi's classic cautionary tale, RIGOLETTO set not in today's comparitively wholesome Vegas (where they are setting up their OWN performing arts center which will provide a platform for everything from the aforementioned Met Opera to symphony orchestras to touring Broadway productions to pop acts such as hometown favorites the Killers and Imagine Dragons, in short, anything BUT Wayne Newton!), but in the seedy Vegas of the early 60's. Any other company would be concerned about losing its audience which is comprised of kids discovering the magic of opera, clergy, and opera fans in general by interspersing a production with scantily clad dancers and pole dancing, but the Met pulled it off with its customary class and dignity, and although the libretto was translated to the syntax of gangsters of the period, the music was exactly the same and the sets and special effects didn't obscure the story, but rather, enhanced it. Unlike Sin City, what happens at the Met stays with you all your life, and face it, tigers, this RIGOLETTO hit the jackpot!


No, we didn't  get Kevin Kline,Ken Branagh, Ian McKellen, or any of the other great actors who are particularly linked with particularly memorable portrayals of Bill Shakespeare's tragic characters when Lincoln Center presented its recent production of the drama which has been referred to as "the Scottish play,", but Ethan Hawke ain't too shabby when it comes to playing the King of Scotland, I refer, of course, to MACBETH. In true Shakespearean tradition, men played the witches, and the highlight of the afternoon was the Porter's soliloquy, during which audience participation was not only encouraged, but also required.
To paraphrase the Bard himself, this MACBETH was a tale told by talented performers, full of sound and fury, signifying everything.


If AMERICAN HUSTLE (R) was a pretty girl, and if were as beautiful as EITHER Amy Adams who makes a clean (or should I say, dirty) break from her usual roles to play a British con artist OR Jennifer Lawrence who plays a put-upon housewife, I would MARRY it in a New York minute. This David O. Russell-directed dramedy is based on the actual Abscam events during which an FBI operative exposed corruption in New Jersey with the help of a phony Arab dignitary. Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Christian Bale also turn in exemplary performances, and despite one historical inaccuracy, this movie authentically portrays the 1978 disco world in which it was set. Not only can you hear the music of the era, but as there was a great degree of nostalgia for classic jazz during that time, the legendary Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington also graces the soundtrack. If this movie doesn't get an Oscar, there is no justice in this world!

I would DATE ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (PG-13) because while there are times when it tries SOOOOO HARD to be a scathing indictment of the TV news business and it tries to inject a little drama into the proceedings, it, like Mort Crim, the Detroit newsman who inspired Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character,  accepts the fact that it is satire and very little else. The entire cast of the original ANCHORMAN returns, especially narrator and veteran journo Bill Kurtis, and despite a grossly inaccurate portrayal of MTV VJ J.J. Jackson by Kanye West, ANCHORMAN 2, while being nobody's front-page bold type headline, is still a pleasant afternoon at the movies, especially compared to...

...THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013,PG-13) which is my candidate for the DUMPster. James  Thurber's original story inspired a classic musical comedy starring the late, great Danny Kaye, and the
Saturday morning animation/live action series "The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty",but while Kitty was portrayed as a shy, good-natured cat who kept imagining himself as a super hero dedicated to ridding the world of  Tyrone, a bulldog who  served as the neighborhood bully, and Mitty is also famous as a mild-mannered shnook who mostly kept his fantasies to himself, Ben Stiller completely undermines the premise of the aforementioned prior productions and their muse by turning Mr. Mitty into a hero. Unlike Danny Kaye (and, to a lesser extent, Howard Morris, who gave Waldo Kitty his voice), Ben didn't exactly make my heart go "Ta-pocka-ta-pocka-ta-pocka-ta," a phrase used in the original short story and movie which, sadly, is conspicious by its absence, as are most of the laughs.


As many of you know, New York and New Jersey are the proud hosts of Super Bowl 48, which will be played on Feburary 2 at MetLife Stadium. Unfortunately, our hometown Jets and Giants aren't providing the battle for bragging rights many of us anticipated in September, but I'm going to pick Philly and New England for the game with the "Iggles" coming out on top.Many of you may also remember Dave Letterman's anecdotes about his Mom who kept telling him and his sibs, "I DO and DO and DO for you kids, and THIS is the thanks I get?!?!?" I feel that exact way about the Knicks and Rangers, who play at the beautifully transformed Madison Square Garden, but haven't given us, the long-suffering fans, the victory we, and the people who put so much time and energy into making the Garden look its absolute best, so richly deserve.


Happy New Year and Welcome Aboard to France and Italy, the two newest countries to join the Steve's Blog family, and I promise, no jokes about kisses or fries! (Oops, sorry, I almost got that pasta, and I promise, no more of THAT either!) Thanks for stopping by during the break, Malaysia,Brazil, and our old friends in the UK, and I hope to see you again in the New Year!

Thanks for reading the VERY FIRST Steve's Blog of 2014 and we'll meet you back here for the next pulse-pounding installment during which I'll reveal my rip-roaring resolutions. (Good luck with yours, SERIOUSLY!)

Again, I would like to wish you the Happiest of New Years, AND...


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