Archive for April, 2014

Babes On Broadway

April 26, 2014

Time for another edition of Steven Reviews a Movie, Kind Of.  A phrase that’s not trademarked yet but maybe in the future.  I initially obtained the following movie because I wanted to see some of Judy Garland’s other works besides the Wizard of Oz.  I eventually watched the movie because Mickey Rooney recently died.  It’s not their most famous movie together it’s…

Babes on Broadway (1941)

I expected to be pleasantly entertained by this move.  After all, it stars Hollywood darling Judy Garland and also Mickey Rooney who had an 87 year career for a reason.  I was pleasantly entertained through a lot of it but it was a really strange movie.  I am not sure that I can call it a good movie but I am not exactly sorry that I watched it.

I will start by saying that I am a pretty big fan of the Wizard of Oz as it is an extremely well done movie for its time and in general.  Therefore, I was pretty into Judy Garland but had only seen one and a half of her movies.  She had a beautiful singing voice and was actually a really good actress.  The one thing is, she always acts and sings with her eyes wide open.  It is usually not a problem but sometimes you catch her in a dead-eyed stare.  Maybe it was just me but I find her eyes unsettling sometimes.

Mickey Rooney had already been working for fourteen years when he starred in this movie.  Even though he was twenty one years old, he still looked like a twelve year old wearing his father’s suit.  He was weird, pushy and had a horrible haircut but he was pretty charismatic and charming for all of his flaws.  Maybe it was because of all of his flaws.  He kind of reminded me of Douglas Croft in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The characters in this movie are some of the dumbest characters that I have seen by far.  They constantly make decisions only a crazy person or two year old would make.  This always happened in the sitcoms I watched growing up and I always got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach from it.  It feels like it is in character but it also feels like lazy writing.

I have not mentioned a plot since there is not really a whole lot of it.  It is the standard plot of a whole bunch of youngsters trying to put on a show to get noticed by Broadway thing.  They also throw in charity with younger kids and war orphans from England.  It’s a serviceable plot.
Once again, it is just there to throw a lot of songs up on the screen and with that it succeeds.

I will mention one memorable sequence that had me shouting “No!  What!?  No way, come on!”   If you look up this film at all, you will probably see a mention of this major end sequence.  The kids do a musical number where they are trying to decide what kind of closing number they can do.

What do they decide to do?  A minstrel show.  Instantly I groan out loud.  Then the kids start putting on blackface and I start shaking my head and uttering the above reaction.  It is a incredibly regrettable sequence in an otherwise above average musical comedy.  The sequence just baffles me as minstrel shows had gone out of popularity a long time prior.  So, you’ll have to decide for yourself if seeing the movie is worth cringing through the last fifteen to twenty minutes.


An Internet Recording Artist I’m Related to

April 26, 2014

Here is a repository of my brother’s music videos.  When we were growing up, my brothers and I wanted to strangle each other.  Now that we are older, we really get along.  I am proud of both of my brothers’ accomplishments and I especially enjoy when they get creative.

Abe’s First Video

Abe’s Second Video


 Abe’s Third Video

Broadway Melody of 1936

April 21, 2014

So I decided to review another fun little old movie.  Strangely I watched two films back to back and decided to review the one that I liked the least.  A word to the wise, I am going to spoil the hell out of these movies but the music and comedy are the best parts so nothing is really spoiled.  So, without further ado:

Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)

Like most films of the time period (and sometimes the current period) it seems like this film was built as a vehicle.  The star power here comes from comedian Jack Benny who, in all fairness, is a comedy legend and therefore is first billed even though he’s barely a lead character.

Jack Benny plays Bert Keeler an entertainment gossip columnist and radio host (I think, the scene introducing him has him delivering a report on the radio but his boss is the editor of a New York City newspaper so whatever).  His boss tells him that he has to start reporting on the dirt rather than just announcing positive and verified information.  Sounds familiar.  He proceeds to gun for Bob Gordon who is our default male lead played by Robert Taylor.  For this task, he enlists Snoop played by Sid Silvers as his dim-witted but good-hearted assistant.

Bob is a young, hot shot Broadway producer/director/whatever who is is finally getting a shot at doing his dream musical which is called Broadway Rythym instead of the obvious Broadway Melody.  He lands the money he needs by getting charmed by a young, rich and kind of suspiciously pushy widow named Lillian Brent, played by June Knight.  She agrees to foot the bill and will show up to muck things up later.

Irene Foster comes into town, played by Hollywood newcomer Eleanor Powell.  She knows Bob from their hometown of Albany where they grew up together and talked of making it big on Broadway.  The only problem is, Bob does not remember her until well after she leaves his office.  She commiserates with Bob’s secretary Kitty Corbett played by Una Merkel.

Irene goes back to the apartment she has rented and is befriended Ted and Sally played by Buddy Ebsen and Vilma Ebsen who, at this point, are former vaudeville performers both in real life and in the movie.

So I won’t go through the rest of the plot but that bit sets up the principal characters.  Jack Benny is great as usual but seems underused.  If you’re going to pay for Jack Benny, then you better give him a lot of stuff to do.  Buddy Ebsen is fun as usual but doesn’t have a huge part since this is his first film and his sister kind of fades into the background after their big double act in Act 1.

Lillian is the designated villain of the piece as she is the main obstacle but lacks charisma and, unless I blacked out, disappears for most of the movie and only comes back in the second act to complicate things.

Robert Taylor is a horrible male lead in this.  I root for him when he’s trying to get his dream on stage but spends a lot of time as an obstacle against the girl who’s supposed to be his love interest.  It would have been interesting if he morphed into the villain but he stays the male romantic lead without being romantic.  This could have been handled a lot better.  Eleanor Powell is great as the plucky girl trying to make it big on Broadway but she can be a little wishy-washy. She’s a fine way to move a long a plot but a similar dynamic was done way better later in Singing in the Rain.

Una Merkel is one of the definite high points of this movie with her dry sense of humor and winning smirk.  Sid Silvers is great too and when the two of them get together, the movie really starts cooking.

Still, since it is a 1930’s musical, none of the above really matters.  All that matters is that the music, dancing and comedy are on point. They are.  The music is toe tapping and I definitely felt the laughs.  Still, as good as this movie was, it was done way better 17 years later in Singing in the Rain.  Singing in the Rain even lifts three songs from this movie.  So this movie was good and worth watching but was even more worthwhile as a stepping stone to later, better films.

PS.  Half of this film’s cast was transplanted into the 1936 Cole Porter musical Born to Dance which starred Jame Stewart.  It’s a lot simpler but is executed way better.  Check it out instead.

Matt Uso

April 10, 2014

This is a one-off character for Planet Fall to test a convention module.  Parts of the character creation were randomly assigned and it was kind of fun to build around that.

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Matthew Uso stands at 1.68 meters (5′ 6″) and weighs 72.6 kg (160 lbs).  He has long black hair and light tanned skin befitting  heritage from the isle of Samoa on ancient Earth.  His two older brothers seemed to get all of the muscle and the size, leaving him with the majority of the brains.

Matt took to various computer sciences with passion and skill.  He was never happier or more at home than when he could get his hands on a computer.  He learned skills which would later make him a logistics wizard.  However, with very little ambition, he ended up collecting a paycheck as a data entry employee.

At age fifteen, he began a love affair with virtual reality gaming.  Many of the hours he spent not working or not sleeping were often spent in fantastic worlds alongside his friends.   Between off-duty hacking, gaming and working data entry, Matt had largely withdrawn from reality.  Dinners over at his parent’s place were one of the few times he stepped into what he had grown to call “Low Def”.

Now, as a member of the Fallen, Matt finds himself desperately missing computers.  The planet below is even more dangerous and more fantastic than any game he ever played.

Entertainment A to Z

April 6, 2014

So I am stealing this from my friend Joe and altering it but he stole it from somebody else and altered it first so I think that works out.  Check my math.  The idea here is that I list my favorite Movie, Book, Comic Book and TV Show starting with each letter.  I had to make some hard decisions and there are a few spaces I had to leave early but whatever.

Movie – 9
Book – 1984 – George Orwell
Comic Book – 300
TV Show – 30 Rock

A:    Movie – The Avengers (2011)
Book – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Comic – Angel: After the Fall
TV Show – Arrow

B:     Movie – Batman Begins
Book – The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
Comic Book – Batman: The Long Halloween
TV Show – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

C:    Movie – Captain America: The First Avenger
Book – Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Comic Book – Civil War (Marvel Comics)
TV Show – Community

D:    Movie – The Dark Knight
Book – Dead Beat – Jim Butcher
Comic Book – Deadpool: Dead Presidents
TV Show – Doctor Who

E:    Movie – Escape from New York
Book – Earth (the Book) – Jon Stewart and Daily Show Writers
Comic Book – Excalibur: Defenders of the Realm
TV Show – Eureka

F:     Movie – Frozen
Book – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
Comic Book – Fables: Legends in Exile
TV Show – Firefly

G:    Movie – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Book – Groucho and Me – Julius “Groucho” Marx
Comic Book – Green Arrow: Year One
TV Show – Game of Thrones

H:    Movie – Hellboy
Book – Have a Nice Day! – Mick Foley
Comic Book – Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
TV Show – Hannibal

I:     Movie – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Book – If Chins Could Kill – Bruce Campbell
Comic Book – Iron Man: Armor Wars
TV Show – The Incredible Hulk

J:     Movie – Juno
Book – Jurrasic Park – Michael Crighton
Comic Book – JSA: Stealing Thunder
TV Show – Justice League United

K:    Movie – King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
Book – A Kiss of Shadows – Laurell K. Hamilton
Comic Book – Kingdom Come (DC Comics)
TV Show – Kids in the Hall

L:     Movie – Life of Brian
Book – The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Comic Book – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
TV Show – Leverage

M:  Movie – The Muppets (2011)
Book – The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA – Antonio Mendez
Comic Book – Marvels (Marvel Comics)
TV Show – Marvel’s Agents of Shield

N:    Movie – A Night at the Opera
Book – Nightlife – Rob Thurman
Comic Book – Nightwing: A Knight in Bludhaven
TV Show – Numb3rs

O:    Movie – Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Book – The Odyssey – Homer
Comic Book – Outsiders – Looking for Trouble
TV Show – The Outer Limits

P:    Movie – The Princess Bride
Book – Pawn of Prophecy – David Eddings
Comic Book – Punisher War Journal: Civil War
TV Show – Psych

Q:    Movie – Quantum of Solace
Book – Queen of Sorcery – David Eddings
Comic Book – The Question: Zen and Violence
TV Show – Quantum Leap

R:     Movie – Reservoir Dogs
Book – Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
Comic Book – Robin: Unmasked
TV Show – Rick and Morty

S:     Movie – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Book – The Shining – Stephen King
Comic Book – Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
TV Show – South Park

T:     Movie – Taken
Book – A Time to Kill – John Grisham
Comic Book – Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game
TV Show – The Tick

U:    Movie – Up
Book – Underboss – Peter Maas
Comic Book – Underworld Unleashed (DC Comics)
TV Show –  The Unusuals

V:    Movie – V for Vendetta
Book – <None Yet>
Comic Book – Villains United (DC Comics)
TV Show –  Veronica Mars

W:   Movie – The Wizard of Oz
Book – Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling – RD Reynolds
Comic Book – Watchmen
TV Show –  Warehouse 13

X:    Movie – X-Men: First Class
Book – <None Yet>
Comic Book – X-Men: Age of Apocalypse
TV Show –  X-Men Evolution

Y:    Movie – Yankee Doodle Dandy
Book – A Year at the Movies: One Man’s Filmgoing Odyssey – Kevin Murphy
Comic Book – Young Justice: A League of Their Own
TV Show – Young Justice

Z:    Movie – Zero Dark Thirty
Book – Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
Comic Book – <None Yet>
TV Show –  Zoids

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