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Allen Smalling "Eclectic Reader," RSS Feed (Chicago, IL United States)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Comes Out Swinging!
Comes Out Swinging!
Price: $14.99
33 used & new from $10.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Dear Mr. Alessandrini, Please Don't Be A Meanie!" ---, November 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Comes Out Swinging! (Audio CD)
The latest FORBIDDEN BROADWAY has some great stuff, such as a take on Liza Minnelli that's funny and fresh ("But when I saw her on the Silver Screen / She was the best Sally Bowles I'd ever seen"). Topical fun includes a knockout parody of Carrie Underwood's SOUND OF MUSIC for NBC, and a suitably jaundiced view of the Disney version of Cinderella that has a line or two I can't repeat here -- funny, though. My favorite is the "Jukebox Musical" segment that skewers the current rage for shows that make us pay $150 a seat to listen to slim imitations of the kind of thing that was on the radio for free "back in Sixty-Three."

I am, however, at my wit's end about a certain singer/actor who has been criticized far too often in the Forbidden Broadway canon for sins like being "Self-Indulgent" and "Hyper-Active." Enough, already. So, with apologies to Sam Coslow, composer of the song, and Ella Fitzgerald, its best-known interpreter, I offer (to the tune of "Mr. Paganini"):

Dear Mr. Alessandrini, Don't You Be A Meanie!
You've stripped and whipped poor Mandy, to the point of all obscene-y!
His MAMALOSHEN album debuted in ninety-eight,
And sixteen years later, do you think these jokes still rate?

I used to think your take was funny, but that was eight albums ago,
You keep tweaking the same old material, it isn't sweet, just low,
Patinkin never won my heart, now for him I'm feeling sorry,
And if you smear him on the next CD, I will not buy -- I'll borry!

Sincerely Yours, A Loyal Fan (up to now, anyway),
Allen Smalling, Chicago
11-20-2014


The Gang's All Here
The Gang's All Here
DVD ~ Alice Faye
33 used & new from $3.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I wonder why does ev'rybody look at me, And then begin to talk about a Christmas tree?" --, November 19, 2014
This review is from: The Gang's All Here (DVD)
Never before or since has there been there a movie like this. THE GANG'S ALL HERE (1943) is a musical about a theatrical troupe, in cliché style, "putting on a show for charity" (War Bonds) -- not in a barn or the gym, but at the Westchester estate of rich lady Charlotte Greenwood, who in her flaming youth was an Apache dancer in Paris (and shows us!). Alice Faye is the central character and love interest who's just waiting for her beau to come home from the war, until it turns out he has another girl there in town. (That's it for the plot, and it was as easily resolved as it was silly to begin with.) The real stars of the show are Busby Berkeley's surrealistic musical numbers -- and in color! -- abetted by Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda, whose standout "Lady in the Tutti-Fruiti Hat" and mangled English idioms ("I scratch my heart," she promises) add campy zest to the show. Benny Goodman provides the dance numbers. A standout in many ways, THE GANG'S ALL HERE strikes modern audiences as either undeniably dated or undeniably classic. This DVD version has a wonderful commentary. With Eugene Palette, Edward Everett Horton, James Ellison, Sheila Ryan, and Tony de Marco. Look fast for Frank Faylen as a Sergeant at the USO dance. Definitely worth a try.


Dorcy 41-2510 Floating Waterproof LED Flashlight with Carabineer Clip, 55-Lumens, Yellow Finish
Dorcy 41-2510 Floating Waterproof LED Flashlight with Carabineer Clip, 55-Lumens, Yellow Finish
Price: $6.15
77 used & new from $3.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bright light, moderate size, good deal, November 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Nice job in an LED flashlight. It takes three AA batteries (included) that fit into a cylindrical chamber below the light assembly. Bright light, easy to use. Be aware that this is on the order of a personal flashlight, not really a lantern as so many floating flashlights are. I got this yellow version, which seems to be the same as all other colors, but cheaper. The carabiner clip up in the handle is a nice touch. Overall, a good deal.


Cuginos Chicken Enchilada Soup
Cuginos Chicken Enchilada Soup
Offered by Mi Antojito Latino
Price: $9.09
3 used & new from $4.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not really a success, November 17, 2014
We reconstituted and cooked this CUGINO'S CHICKEN ENCHLADA SOUP by following the directions: add a large can of tomato sauce, six cups of water, half a pound of cooked chicken, and simmer for 20 minutes. The cook time is necessary to rehydrate the dried white beans. What emerged was opaque, thick and looked little like the photograph on the envelope, which depicted more of a red translucent tomato broth. It was also surprisingly bland, so we had to resort to the salt shaker, an unusual thing to do with a convenience product like this. (In all fairness, though, the stated RDA of sodium on the package is relatively low at 21 percent, and we had used no-salt-added tomato sauce.)

The soup is hearty enough, but taste-wise this is too blah to recommend. It might be better with a large can of Ro-Tel instead of tomato sauce, though.


Lay's Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, Original, 8.5 Oz
Lay's Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, Original, 8.5 Oz
Price: $2.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tasty but not "kettle" enough, November 17, 2014
To me a "kettle" chip should not be overly greasy but should be hard-fried, not too thin, and with most of the chips folded onto themselves. These LAY'S KETTLE COOKED POTATO CHIPS in the original flavor are tasty enough, and neither too salty or greasy, but a little too light. Although most of the chips are folded-over, they are so light that only a few of them have that hard-crunch appeal that is the mainstay of kettle chips. They taste good but just aren't "kettle" enough. If Lay's had billed them as "small-batch" or "old-fashioned" potato chips I feel it would have been more accurate, but then I might not have bought them. A small distinction, perhaps, but since they are billed as kettle-cooked that's what I expected. The price as of now is very good.


Silver Screen Romances, 8 Movie Set (The Solid Gold Cadillac/We Were Strangers/Angels Over Broadway/Music in My Heart/The Marrying Kind/It Should Happen to You/Adam Had Four Sons/Down to Earth)
Silver Screen Romances, 8 Movie Set (The Solid Gold Cadillac/We Were Strangers/Angels Over Broadway/Music in My Heart/The Marrying Kind/It Should Happen to You/Adam Had Four Sons/Down to Earth)
DVD ~ Judy Holliday
Price: $5.89
26 used & new from $3.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A suite of pretty-OK Columbia Pictures oldies at a drop-dead gorgeous price, November 17, 2014
You'll go a long way to beat the price on this bargain collection of eight romantically themed movies out of Columbia from the Classic and Late Studio Eras (1930s-1950s). Most, but not all, are in black-and-white. Selections range in quality from the cheapie ANGELS OVER BROADWAY and the high-gloss but underdeveloped ADAM HAD FOUR SONS, a family saga that introduces Susan Heyward as a flirtatious and home-wrecking opportunist, to THE MARRYING KIND, a Judy Holliday film, introducing Aldo Ray, as a divorcing couple on the skids who are forced to confront their disappointing marriage. The most offbeat in the suite is probably DOWN TO EARTH, a Rita Hayworth musical in color that comes across as strangely flat. With the possible exception of the three Judy Holliday comedies (THE MARRYING KIND, IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU and THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC), none of these movies is of five-star quality, but none will make you turn off the DVD player in disgust. And at this price, you can play the field.


Bear Creek Country Kitchens Soup Mix Creamy Potato -- 11 oz
Bear Creek Country Kitchens Soup Mix Creamy Potato -- 11 oz
Offered by Boston Bella Baby LLC
Price: $7.74
3 used & new from $7.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just OK, November 17, 2014
While we weren't looking, a new generation of dehydrated soups has crept out of the upland-backback category into the home-convenience category. In fact, this BEAR CREEK COUNTRY KITCHENS brand claims a Wasatch Mountain (Utah) origin but is now headquartered in Westbury, Long Island (New York). I thought it was just acceptable, but a little flat. Although this variety calls itself *Creamy* Potato and the package warns that it "Contains Milk," the actual dairy content seems to be limited to sodium caseinate, a derivate of milk more similar to salt than whole milk, and whey. Directions call for combining the mix with eight cups (half a gallon) of water, and simmering for fifteen minutes. I couldn't help noticing that the rival brand, Cugino's, calls for two cups of milk and six of water in its similar potato soup, which I found tastier. Back to the drawing board, where we sneaked a little half-and-half into the soup, which indeed came out creamier but not much tastier. I wonder if the makers of this soup ought to offer more elaborate opportuities for stir-ins and toppings, as Cugino's does. As it is, I cannot recommend it unless you are, indeed, upcountry and desire to make a big pot of soup. As for the PRICE, it is not that far out of line at present. However, we bought ours at the store and no shipping/handling fees were incurred.


Down to Earth
Down to Earth
DVD ~ Rita Hayworth
Offered by Definitive Discs & Collectibles
Price: $47.95
31 used & new from $11.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A "down to earth" Hollywood view on art and entertainment that only partially succeds, November 16, 2014
This review is from: Down to Earth (DVD)
Preparations are underway for a lightweight Broadway musical that will have lots of gay and varied numbers and just enough of a plot to showcase the lead character. However, this show comes to depend on a newcomer to to modern America who wants to make it a reflection of a classic theme from ancient antiquity. The new, arty, serious, historically correct version stinks. One member of the audience even says, "I can take about 20 minutes of this classic Greek stuff and then I fall asleep." Fortunately, right thinking asserts itself and the original lighthearted, escapist and thoroughly modern American musical comedy is performed to great acclaim.

MGM's Fred Astaire musical THE BAND WAGON (1953), you say? Yes, but also to some extent this uneven 1946 Columbia color pic starring Rita Hayworth, DOWN TO EARTH. Rita plays the Greek muse Terpsichore, who is disgusted when she and her sisters learn that the Broadway play is going to be jivey, lowbrow, and will paint her and her sisters as man-chasing trollops. She intervenes with the celestial messenger Mr. Jordan (yes, this is partially a sequel to HERE COMES MR. JORDAN) who sends her "down to earth" as Kitty Pendleton, who assumes the lead role of her namesake in the musical in mid-rehearsal. "Kitty" does indeed prevail upon the director to make the show noble and understated and classic (which winds up flat, unexciting and a bit of a snipe at Martha Graham's choreography). As in THE BAND WAGON, once the pretense is tossed out and the populism let in, the movie shifts to a happy montage of Broadway-like singing/dancing numbers. The problem with this movie is certainly not Rita Hayworth's dancing or her singing (the latter of which was dubbed), nor Larry Parks' assured playing as the director who falls for her -- it's that the objective correlative between the "bad" arty sequences and the "successful" and popular American ones is not great enough. Unlike THE BAND WAGON, which drew upon the delightful songbook of Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, DOWN TO EARTH's songs are not memorable, convincing or punchy even when they're supposed to be. Also, Rita's dancing, while fabulous as always, for reasons of plot is largely a solo affair.

I cannot recommend DOWN TO EARTH until you've first seen Hayworth dance-partnered with Fred Astaire in either of YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH or YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER, two B&W Columbia musicals made some years before this one. Besides, as of now the price of DOWN TO EARTH as a one-off is unacceptably high. Much better to get this Columbia pic and seven others from the same era in the astonishingly cheap grab-bag called Silver Screen Romances, 8 Movie Set (The Solid Gold Cadillac/We Were Strangers/Angels Over Broadway/Music in My Heart/The Marrying Kind/It Should Happen to You/Adam Had Four Sons/Down to Earth). And I have to give a link to The Band Wagon (Two-Disc Special Edition) (MGM, 1953) with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, directed by Vincente Minnelli. Now THAT'S a popular movie that became a classic.


Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act!: The Unoriginal Cast Recording, Volume 5 (1998 New York Cast)
Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act!: The Unoriginal Cast Recording, Volume 5 (1998 New York Cast)
Price: $13.99
42 used & new from $1.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and perhaps a little self-indulgent, November 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There are some great pieces in this 1998 album, especially the full-bore treatment of RAGTIME and a clever send-up of Ann Miller's career called "I'm Still Weird," based on the Sondheim song "I'm Still Here," which Miller actually had sung in a 1998 FOLLIES revival in Northern New Jersey. But there are several misfires too. Perhaps excessive topicality is the culprit, since a mere mention of Mandy Pantinkin's MAMALOSHEN album triggers a fusillade of Jewish-American references, which is funny only to those who remember that his album consisted mainly of Yiddish folk songs interpolated by a few American hits like "Supercalifragilisticexpilalidocious," triggering "Super-Frantic Hyper-Active Self-Indulgent Mandy." Since Patinkin was already a regular -- some might say inevitable -- target of Forbidden Broadway jabs, this one doesn't go over all that well.

In retrospect, singling out Broadway musicals like "Jekyll and Hyde" that were about to close may have been hysterically funny at the time, but didn't have legs. This CD also runs more than fifteen minutes shorter than the previous one. A minor gripe to this reviewer is that this cover is the first since the first Forbidden Broadway CD not to make use of the talent of caricaturist Ken Fillon, whose drawings in a slightly overwrought Hirschfeld style are a parody in their own right. On the plus side, complete lyrics are included. I couldn't possibly slam this Forbidden Broadway album, but there are better ones.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2014 2:22 AM PST


Cocktail Hour Jazz
Cocktail Hour Jazz
18 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once, all of these songs were quite popular, November 14, 2014
This review is from: Cocktail Hour Jazz (Audio CD)
This might conceivably be the kind of music people listened to from records, radio or juke boxes during cocktail hours in the Fifties, but there is little of the svelte "lounge act" about it. There's no Jo Stafford or Peggy Lee or Julie London here, but you will find interesting stuff and good choices. My favorite is probably Doris Day's delightfully skittering and proficient version of "Just One of Those Things"; this is the track to play your friends when you want to prove that D. Day was once a legitimate jazz singer/canary. Other admirable selections include Lena Horne on "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)," "All of Me" by Billie Holliday, and (believe it or not) Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" by Perry Como. You might be fortunate enough to find this album and a very similar one combined in one set, also called "Cocktail Hour Jazz," once sold in Canada by direct mail and remaindered down here on the cheap. Since this genre of pre-rock'n'roll, radio-oriented songs is almost a glut on the market, and since the music is not particularly cleaned up aurally, and since each CD holds only a dozen songs, there's no reason to shell out the big bucks for this album unless you particularly fancy these particular songs and the order in which they're presented.


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