Book Review: America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” by Corey Taylor

America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”
Author: Corey Taylor
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 256 pages

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

In America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”, Slipknot/Stone Sour lead singer Corey Taylor directs his signature combination of humor and outrage at today’s America, sparing no one along the way. Taylor doesn’t shy away from thorny issues as he draws a brutally honest portrait of his country, outlining the good, the bad, the unflattering and the patriotic. Whether it’s politics or social media, race or pop culture, religion or reality TV, “America 51” digs deep into the roots of contemporary America.

The 4th book from singer turned best-selling author Corey Taylor titled America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” is easily the brashest in your face collection of rants from the out spoken front-man. Having struggled my way through Taylor’s last two literary offerings l was a touch apprehensive about subjecting myself to another 256 pages of rambling. However being a long time fan of both Slipknot and Stone Sour I was willing to still give this book a shot. Within the first several chapters I could see that this book was going to be just like the others as Taylor becomes so wrapped up in his thoughts that he quickly loses site of the actual. I found this to very distracting and despite Taylor’s off the wall comedic jabs at society and his take on the current political climate there were just too many thoughts going on at one time causing the book to come off as very unorganized and poorly edited.

If you liked Corey’s previous three books then there is no doubt in my mind that “America 51” will fit right in with your collection as by now you have become a custom to the author’s chaotic style. However, if you are looking for this to be your first exposure to Corey Taylor outside of his music then you may want to hold up and check out some of his earlier works first.

Celebrate the Holidays at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

When it comes to the holidays, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store always does it up right! Every year around August/September (yes that early). The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store starts its transformation to the holidays both Halloween and Christmas. I just love this time of the year and I am never let down by Cracker Barrel’s product. Thanks to the wonderful people at Cracker Barrel, we are able to cover two of their hottest new items for this holiday season.

The first we have is the “4′ Light-Up Lamp Post”. This is plain and simple a gorgeous holiday decoration. Just beautiful. We have this on the outside of our house on the corner by the front door on a timer and it is just beautiful to look at as we pull up at night and I hope that it brings the joy of the holidays to our neighbors as well. In fact, I went out and bought a second one for my parents as well because they simply feel in love with ours. This is a must own for holiday decorating and at a very reasonable price.

“”4′ Light-Up Lamp Post“: Decorate your entryway, porch or patio in classic Christmas style with our Light Up Lamp Post, a Cracker Barrel Exclusive! This 4′ tall decorative lamp post gives your holiday a pop of bright red and green color in the day time, and the soft, welcoming glow of clear mini lights shining through pretty star shapes at night. No matter where you display it, this easy-to-assemble novelty lamppost is just right for bright holiday cheer!

The second item that we received to feature is the “Musical Light-Up Santa’s Workshop”. This product is just fantastic. The lights…the music…the craftsmanship. Just superb. This item is a beautiful piece for the middle of a table or desk to really catch peoples eye and show your true spirit of the holidays. My daughter is four and she loves watching the Workshop move and sparkle as it plays the holiday tunes. This product is also very reasonable priced to get for the quality. So I would recommend you heading to your local Cracker Barrel and check out their Old Country Store or you can also shop online.

Musical Light-Up Santa’s Workshop“: Whether you’re just starting a collection of miniature decorative houses or already have a charming village to display at the holidays, our Musical Light Up Santa’s Workshop will steal the show! This Cracker Barrel Exclusive is designed to delight down to the tiniest detail, from the animated Santa and elves to the color-changing lights. You’ll love this wonderful musical decoration for many holiday seasons to come!

Product Feature: Halloween at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

When the holiday seasons roll around I just can’t wait to go into my local Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. You walk in their store and you are immediately whammed with some of the most creative and fun decorations for any upcoming holiday. I am the kind of person that would loop the Fall/Holiday season over and over if possible, so when you walk into the store in August and see Halloween already decked out ready I melt! And if the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store knows how to do one thing it is Halloween! They setup one of the coolest displays for their merchandise. My daughter usually b-lines to it to check out all the amazing new items.

This year, I had the chance to review seven of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s latest new products and like usual, all fantastic as usual. The first was my four year old’s choice, “Animated Halloween Puppy“. This trick-or-treating doggy aka Candy Bandit is literally one of the cutest animated toys, I have ever seen! And if it wasn’t cute enough it runs around the floors or table and plays “The Addams Family” theme! SOLD!

Next up is a “Light-Up Witch Wreath“, this is a cute door wreath for the Halloween season. There is something I love about this wreath on my first door, it is not scary-scary but it is fun and maybe a little silly and I just know that if anyone is coming to my door it is impossible not to realize and smile at for sure!

Animated Eyeball Doorbell” is one item that was NOT my four year old’s favorite due to being “too scary” but honestly that is a score for daddy cause that means that it is effective. This went right outside our door as well and I know that it has already given a few fun jumps to our friends and family, which makes me love it even more!

Who doesn’t love Peanuts and their wonderful characters? Cracker Barrel Old Country Store always has the cutest Peanuts animated figures. The latest is an “Animated Glow-in-the-Dark Snoopy“, which you immediately fall in love with! I have gotten a Snoopy animated character from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for the last three years now and each of them are better than the next. It has music, it dances (or should I say wiggles) and the glowing in the dark is just a bonus! A must have for any Peanuts fans out there!

Having a young child and being a big Halloween fan sometimes might be difficult because you have to balance the scary factor and can’t get something that will terrify for kids. The “Metal Witch Leg Yard Stake” from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a great product that fits right in for that balance. It is extremely fun and honestly just cracks me up everything time I walk outside (as it does my daughter). Plus it doesn’t take up a lot of outdoor space and is extremely easy to stake in the ground.

If you are looking for a little decor around the house for the subtle Halloween touch, look no further than the “Light-Up Witches Brew Potion Jar“. This light up jar is a cute way to dress up your house in addition to light it up. It gives off a nice amount of light and adds a nice Halloween accent to our counter.

Last item of the season that we had the chance to feature is also one of my favorites, the “‘Welcome My Pretties’ Wall Decor“. Since we have our front door occupied with the Light-Up Witch Wreath, our pantry door is covered with this fun decor. This piece just screams “Welcome Halloween” for me! It is fun and we have it placed in a great spot in our house and every time I see it I definitely just smile and it makes it laugh. I like to always image that a witch literally flew into our door…SMOOSH! It is reasonably priced, in fact that bring up a great point about Cracker Barrel Old Country Store that their prices are very competitive. You go to Target or Wal-Mart and sure they might have “cheap” Halloween decoration but you are getting that exactly CHEAP in quality. Everything sold at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store seems like it is much higher than the plain ole garage you will find at those stores.

That is also one of the things that I loved about the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is that they don’t recycle all of last years crap that didn’t sell, I always feel like they have a wide variety of new products each season as well and as a consumer that makes me very satisfied. So you may not think of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store as your first stop to check out the latest holiday products but honestly it should be because this store has it all and you will have a hard time leaving without a purchase once you walk in! We should have our Christmas coverage up first week in November covering all the great new Cracker Barrel Old Country Store products as well, so stay tuned!

DVD Review: “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour Country Special”

“The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour Country Special”
Glen Campbell
Shout! Factory
Not Rated
DVD Runtime: 92 min.

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

For the first time on DVD join country superstar Glen Campbell for a spectacular celebration of music with “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour Country Special”. The DVD is being released via Shout! Factory and features a pair of episodes from Glen’s variety show which aired on January 1st 1972.The release is packed full of laughter and music including performances by Johnny Cash, June Carter, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis and Minnie Pearl.

A release in this genre is something that’s generally not on my radar being that I am not a huge country fan. However having heard my fair share of classic country growing up something about this DVD caught my attention. What stands out about this release is the caliber of guests who appear. Everyone from Merle Haggard and Jerry Reed to Johnny Cash and Buck Owners are on here performing either solo, with Glen or as a group. This was something I really enjoyed as the show comes off very light and fun. Throw in some skits by Minnie Pearl, Mel Tillis and beardless Merle Haggard and you have a fun 90 minute video.

I can’t say enough good things about Shout! Factory as they truly do a great job bringing back vintage television specials and series. “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour Country Special” is no exception as both the audio and video are crystal clear. There were one or two spots where the audio was a touch out of sync however it wasn’t enough to even cause a bump in the entertainment factor. If you grew up watching this show or are a fan of some of the artists I named who appear on this release definitely grab a copy as it’s a fun trip down memory lane.

Performance Listing:
1.) Country Boy- Glen Campbell
2.) Folsom Prison Blues- Johnny Cash & Glen Campbell
3.) Comedy Skit- Minnie Pearl, Johnny Cash & Glen Campbell
4.) Banjo Break- Glen Campbell, Buck Owens & Larry McNeely
5.) Comedy Skit- Mel Tillis & Glen Campbell
6.) Carolyn- Merle Haggard & Glen Campbell
7.) Comedy Skit- Glen Campbell & Mini Pearl
8.) I Saw the Light- The Mike Curb Congregation
9.) Comedy Skit- Glen Campbell & Mel Tillis
10.) Another Puff- Jerry Reed
11.) A Thing Called Love- Johnny Cash
12.) No Need To Worry- Johnny Cash & June Carter
13.) Comedy Skit- Mel Tillis & Glen Campbell
14.) Born To Lose- Glen Campbell, Jerry Reed & Larry McNeely
15.) Easy Living- Freddie Hart
16.) Comedy Skit- Glen Campbell, Mel Tillis & Minnie Pearl
17.) Comedy Skit- Glen Campbell, Minnie Pearl, Buck Owens & Jerry Reed
18.) I’ll Still Be Waiting For You- Buck Owens
19.) Merle Haggard’s Musical Impressions Medley: Mary, I’m Moving On, Love’s Gonna Live Here, Jackson- Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Buck Owens & Johnny Cash
20.) Medley- A Boy Named Sue, I’ve Got a Tiger By The Tail, When You’re Hot, You’re Hot, I Want To Go Home, Act Naturally, I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am, Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man, Oh Lonesome Me- Glen Campbell & Guests
21.) For The Good Times- Glen Campbell

Country singer Hudson Moore talks about new movie “Sweetwater”

If Hudson Moore had his way he’d be making movies. After three years as a film major at the University of Texas he put his love for films on hold to follow another passion: music. The 22-year old native Texan has since opened for such major acts as ZZ Top, Trace Adkins, Alan Jackson and Rascal Flatts. This week he takes another step in his career with the release this week of the new film “Sweetwater,” starring Ed Harris and January Jones. Moore was given the chance to write an original song for the film and jumped at it. While on tour (his next stop is in Lubbock, Texas – the birthplace of Buddy Holly – on October 18), Hudson took some time to talk with Media Mikes about music, hard work and the opportunities of sitting off stage.

Mike Smith: What is it inside that made you want to pursue music as more than a hobby? Where did the passion come from to decide to make it a career?
Hudson Moore: First you definitely have to have the passion for it, obviously. You have to love it. Second you have to have the determination to work hard…to make it work. There are so many talented people out there. It often comes down to your work effort, your grit and your perseverance. Anybody who has done this knows it’s not an easy road. It’s a hard road…it’s a long road. But it can be very rewarding. I’m a firm believer in that if you work hard enough at something you’ll eventually succeed at it. That’s my view. It can take some time. Some people blow up right away. Some can take thirty years to get recognition. It’s a gamble.

MS: Can you remember when you wrote your first song?
HM: I do. I wrote my first song when I was sixteen years old. My first full song.

MS: Early this year the Country Music Academy named you one of the artists who is “New To Watch” in country music. As a musician at the beginning of his career does that put a little pressure on you when you perform?
HM: You can’t really put too much stock in those things. I’m always flattered whenever anyone says kind things about me. But honestly, I just keep on moving down the road. But as an artist I think I do perform better under pressure. It can be good for you. You have to raise the bar and be your best. So honestly, I enjoy being in the spotlight and having that pressure to perform.

MS: You’ve opened for some major acts – from ZZ Top to Rascal Flatts. When you’re done with your set do you stand backstage and watch them as a fan or do you study them as a fellow performer?
HM: I watch them as a fan! Some of the bands I’ve opened up for I’ve really admired. ZZ Top…Alan Jackson…Rascal Flatts. Then there are the Texas guys, like the Eli Young Band. For me I enjoy the show and I get great exposure. And I do sit back and watch and try to learn all I can about being an entertainer and how I can become a better performer. It’s almost like a master class. I get to sit beside the stage and watch these great bands do their thing. It’s a real blessing.

MS: You contributed an original song (“The Cold, Gray Light of Dawn”) to the new film “Sweetwater.” How does that process work? Do they give you a script…show you the movie…?
HM: My brother, Tucker, is a producer on the film and he called me and asked me if I would write an original song for the film and I said, “sure.” That’s something I’d always wanted to do. He gave me a rough cut of the film on DVD and I watched it with my friend Wally Wilson, who helped me write the song. We watched it in a motel room in Austin, Texas while we were out of town. We had a week to write the song, record it, master it and get it to the director so it was really a time crunch. We watched the film and, honestly, within an hour and a half, we had our song. It was one of those days were everything was kind of lining up. We were so inspired by the film that the song kind of wrote itself.

MS: What are you working on next?
HM: I have a new album coming out next month called “True Love.” It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now when I haven’t been touring and I’m excited to get it out. I’m also writing songs in Nashville and at home in Texas for my third album. So I’m putting an album out, working on the next one and touring. It’s busy but that’s the way I like it.

To hear Hudson Moore’s music or to see him on tour, go to http://hudsonmoore.net/home/

Book Review “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”

Author/Illustrator: Helen Ward
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Templar
Release Date: September 11, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” is such a wonderful story for kids and should be a must have in every household. It is gorgeously illustrated and poetically written and perfectly set in a 1930s-era city at Christmastime.  It is a great way to get in the festive mood for the holidays. It one of those book that you just want to read again the minute you finish it and tell everyone to do the same. It is a wonderful retelling of one of Aesop’s Fables and in such a unique way.

Premise: “Rediscover the tale of the simple country mouse, magically retold by Helen Ward. Beguiled by his cousin’s amazing tales, the country mouse visits the electric city. Unfortunately the town mouse forgot to mention that the city has a lot of noise, tall buildings . . . and dangerous dogs! Helen Ward’s 1930s New York at Christmas is at once gorgeous and frighteningly busy. In the end the reader understands both why the town mouse loves his exciting life and why the country mouse is content with his peaceful home.”

The watercolor illustrations are very eye-catching and really enhance the 1930s-era city at Christmas-time.  It is very stunning.  Simple yet very elegant. I can’t wait to share this book with my daughter. I have a feeling that we will be keeping this book very close to the bed since I think it will be a must-read. As wife and myself have grown up with this story, I think it is only write that we continue the trend.  I hope others will do the same, not just during Christmas but throughout the year, as I am sure we will.

Find WWE’s “Barricade” DVD’s on September 25th that are hidden across the country for fans

BARRICADE IS AVAILABLE ON DVD ON SEPTEMBER 25TH!

WHAT: On September 25th, BARRICADE DVD’s will be hidden throughout 25 cities across the US. Clues to the locations where DVDs are hidden will be sent out via Twitter and Facebook on the BARRICADE Facebook and Twitter pages. Fans can also check in via Foursquare and if they are in a location where DVDs are hidden they will be entered to win exclusive WWE merchandise!
WHEN: Tuesday, September 25th
WHERE: Location in a city near you. Check the BARRICADE Facebook and Twitter page.

Markets included in this:

· Atlanta
· Baltimore
· Boston
· Chicago
· Cleveland
· Dallas-Ft. Worth
· Denver
· Detroit
· Houston
· Indianapolis
· LosAngeles
· Miami
· Minneapolis
· New York
· Orlando
· Philadelphia
· Phoenix
· Pittsburgh
· Portland
· Sacramento
· San Francisco
· Seattle
· St. Louis
· Tampa-St. Pete
· Washington DC

About WWE Studios:
WWE Studios continues to strategically diversify its slate of films, which includes theatrical releases and direct-to-home premieres, under the guidance of President Michael Luisi. Upcoming films for WWE Studios include: Dead Man Down, which was co-financed with IM Global and will be distributed by FilmDistrict, starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace; The Hive, which was co-produced with Troika Pictures, starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin; and No One Lives, which was co-produced with Pathé Films and premiered at Midnight Madness at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, starring Luke Evans and WWE Superstar Brodus Clay™. For additional information, go to www.wwe.com/inside/overtheropes/wwestudios

About BARRICADE:
Terrance Shade (Eric McCormack) takes his children on a holiday getaway to a cabin in the woods. But when a blizzard buries the house, the family finds themselves trapped and without communication. As the storm surges on outside, a sinister presence materializes. Unable to explain it, and unable to escape it, they quickly realize that maybe they haven’t locked the evil out…instead they’ve just locked it in. The film stars Eric McCormack, Jody Thompson, Connor Dwelly, Ryan Grantham and Donnelly Rhodes. Directed by Andrew Currie. Written by Michelbrent Collings. Available on DVD exclusively at Walmart on September 25th. For additional information, go to www.facebook.com/BarricadeMovie or www.BarricadeMovie.com

Country singer, JT Hodges chats about his debut self-titled album

JT Hodges is a country singer known best for his singles “Hunt You Down” and “Goodbyes Make You Mine”. He recently released his debut self-titled album and is hitting the road soon touring. Media Mikes got a chance to chat with JT again about this debut album and the inspiration behind it.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how it feels to finally have this album released?
JT Hodges: It is a breath of fresh air, for one. You spend the whole year working a few different singles that is all that people have to go by. I have said from the beginning that if you are fan or not of this song, wait till the record comes out. I feel that there is a song for everyone on the record. It is very diverse and I just don’t do one thing. What I do though is all within the frame of the style. It’s what I have been doing over the years and will only to continue to grow and expand from it. I am just happy the first album is out and people can decide for themselves what they like.

MG: I thought “Hunt You Down” was a great track but I think you outdid youself with each track on the album.
JH: Well dude, that means a lot man!. In the world we have today everything is subjective but if the majority of the comments are positive, that is always great to hear.

MG: Has any of this CD release madness been overwhelming at all for you?
JH: No, I really love it. Thank God for social media. I have made a lot of great friends in radio. Radio has really kind to me. We have been lucky to get a few songs out there already. I just love all the social media and a good way for me to get the word out.

MG: When we last spoke in October of 2011 you mentioned “Hunt You Down” was found on Beale street, tell us about where the rest of the album was discovered?
JH: Honestly if we had all day I could do through each song and tell you. Really a lot of them are going back to almost 10 years ago. When I was in thee writers room, just thinking about a mood and it transports you back to a specific time in your life and different situations. That probably means that you are going to write a real song that day. The majority of the songs on the record really bared that process for me. There are also some observation songs like “Sleepy Little Town”. It was just an image for me just driving through this small town. There are a lot of things that go a little astray in life and we deal with them. That song is just three separate stories exposing secrets that everyone finds out about since they are in this small town. All across the board with the record, each track is very personal to me. When you are writing a record you realize that you are not the only one going through heartbreak or have some hard times. You find out you are not only writing it for yourself but also for your listener.

MG: What do you think will be the next single for this album?
JH: The next single is “Sleepy Little Town”. It is going to be released to radio on September 10th.

MG: Are you hitting the road soon and if so where and with you?
JH: We have got a few potential tour plans. Fingers crossed those are going to work out. A lot of the shows are being booked for the Fall. I traveled the country this year and played a lot of show. We are building one fan at a time and having a blast doing it.