Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's almost Midnight...

... and Ann Miller is marching with the last few minutes to the end of 2013!

Hoping to start the New Year with a Bang!

Marilyn Monroe and Ann Miller stand ready to help you start 2014 with a bang! However, I don't recommend following their lead as far as fireworks safety goes....

The Year is Rapidly Coming to a Close

The end of 2013 will soon be upon us! For some, the hands one the clock can't move fast enough past 23:59:59!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Marx Bros deliver 'Room Service'

Room Service (1938)
Starring: The Marx Bros, Frank Albertson, Donald McBride, Lucille Ball, Cliff Dunstan, Philip Wood, Alexander Asro, and Ann Miller
Director:  William Seiter
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

A broke theatrical producer (Groucho Marx) engages in an increasingly desperate series of ruses to prevent eviction of himself and the cast of the play he is trying to secure financial backing for.

"Room Service" is the only Marx Bros. film that was not specifically written for them. It's an adaptation of a play that was hugely successful at the time, and many of the supporting actors (such as Donald McBride as the long-suffering hotel inspector) play the same roles the originated on stage. I assume it's a faithful adaptation, as the stage roots are so visible that the vast majority of the film takes place in a single room, with characters coming and going through its three different doors and one can even sense where the lights would dim and come up between acts.

The fact that the film is "stagey" doesn't hurt it, however, as running in and out of doors and verbal patter is the Marx Bros. stock and trade. I felt that the only weakness here over material tailor-made for the trio was that Harpo feels under-utulized, even if he gets to be at the center of the film's culmination and the conclusion of one of its funniest sequences--a prolonged fake suicide and impromptu memorial

While Groucho and Chico expertly deliver some superb lines, the aforementioned suicide scene and the aftermath with Harpo are the only parts that compare to the many great bits in "Duck Soup" or "A Day at the Races." The pacing of the film is solid and the comedy is top-notch, but in general only that the suicide sequence really felt like it could only have been done by the Marx Bros.

In some ways, this might be a film that even those who don't usually like Marx Bros. movies can enjoy. The story serves a greater function here than just moving us from comedic set piece to comedic set piece, and there isn't the sense that there's a single character that's the target of Grouch's abuse is also lacking. As stories go, the only weak point I felt was the romantic subplot between the playwright (Frank Albertson) and one of the hotel staff (Ann Miller); it added nothing whatsoever to the film.

Trivia: Ann Miller  was only 15 when she appeared in as the love interest in "Room Service", having lied about her age to be hired at RKO as a contract player.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Christmas Eve!

May Santa, or one of his helpers, bring you everything on your Wish List!

(And if you have a few days off, allow me to suggest you spend it gaming with family and friends! You can get all the NUELOW Games themed Christmas releases (edited and co-designed by yours truly) up to the most recent one bundled together in "A Christmas Box" by clicking here. The just-released 2014 Christmas Special is also available. Give yourself and your family and friends the gift of rollplaying this Christmas!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Louise Brooks Quarterly: A White Christmas

Louise Brooks would like to remind you that there's only four days until Christmas. Also, she wants to underscore the unifying theme of this blog.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas is coming...

... and Ann Miller is trimmer her tree. Soon she will be applying fake snow to her lawn, using the world's largest powder-puff.

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

That's no way to treat the mayor!

Earlier this week, NUELOW Games released another book in which I contribute a chunk of RPG material -- this time, a set of rules for creating superheroes in the d20 OGL Modern system with Golden Age teen heroes Dynamic Boy and Yankee Boy being statted out as examples of how to use the rules in practice.

The book in question is titled "Madden's Boys," and it's the fourth in a series of comics/rpg hybrid books spotlighting the work of Bill Madden, an artist who had a brief comics career in 1941 and then faded from the field. He had an energetic and quirky style that in many ways resembles that which would become with underground comics artists in the 1960s and 1970s. I feel that his art has stood up to the passage of time very nicely and that the total obscurity into which his small body of work has fallen is undeserved.

That said, like many Golden Age artists, Madden's execution is sometimes a little rough around the edges. In each of the collections I've worked on, there's always a panel or two that make me laugh... for unintended reasons. The sequence below comes from Dynamic Boy's origin story where he takes on gangsters and corrupt politicians:

Yes... taking his head off with a chair is indeed no way to treat the mayor! (But, whew!, turning the page we discover his head is still attached and his neck isn't snapped!)

Whether you are in the mood for some quirky, early superhero comics, or if you want to see a new way to handle super-characters in d20 Modern games, this is a book that's worth checking out. Click here to take a  look at previews and, I hope, to purchase and download your own copy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Black and White Friday the 13th

Our thanks to Kate Moss for demonstrating the unifying theme of this blog. May your Friday the 13th be a lucky one!

Friday, December 6, 2013

In the Twilight Zone.

A girl. A guy. A guitar. A curious, version of a classic song that builds to a cheerful finale. A fitting performance for... the Twilight Zone

(This strange little cover was performed by Tess Gaerthe (vocals) and Thomas Zwijsen (guitar) of the Netherlands. I hope you enjoy it. I came upon it while amusing myself posting a whole string of "Twilight Zone" covers to Facebook. It seemed to fit better here, though.)

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