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."

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.

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!


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!