Film Review “The Good Dinosaur”

Starring the voices of: Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand
Directed by: Peter Sohn
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hr 50 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

65 million years ago a rogue meteor hit the earth, changing the world drastically. One of the big changes was the extinction of the dinosaurs. But what if that meteor had missed?

Meet the Apatosaurus family. Momma and Poppa welcome the arrival of three eggs and their contents. Soon, the family is complete with Libby, Buck and Arlo. These particular dinosaurs are farmers, and they’re bodies allow them the opportunity to act as both the plow and the sprinkler system. Brainy Libby helps out, as does brawny Buck. Sadly, tiny Arlo can only feed the chickens (or at least the prehistoric version of chickens) and help fill the silo with corn so the family can survive the winter. Things go well until, like most films, tragedy strikes and Arlo finds himself on his own. Cue the sad music.

From the PIXAR division of Disney, “The Good Dinosaur” is a visual treat for the eyes. From the ice covered mountains to the rushing river waters it is amazing the advances that have been made in computer generated animation. Like most Disney films, the hero soon finds himself in trouble, where he is rescued by a young boy that Arlo names “Spot.” The best way to describe Spot is to ask if you remember the Feral Kid from “The Road Warrior.” If so, you now have an image of what I’m talking about.

The film follows Arlo and Spot as they make their way back to Three Claw Mountain. Along the way they meet some colorful creatures, including a trio of T-rex’s led by Sam Elliott. The many characters are vividly rendered and all are memorable. And frightening. I have no idea how this film received a PG rating. There is death in and around the story, including a scene where a cute, saucer-eyed animal is suddenly gobbled down and then torn to shreds by a pair of dueling pterodactyls! If you’re taking children under the age of 7 prepare to dry their tears.

CD Review: Good Riddance “Peace in Our Time”

Good Riddance
“Peace in Our Time”
Fat Wreck Chords
Produced by: Bill Stevenson
Tracks: 14

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Peace in Our Time” is the 8th studio release from the hardcore/punk band Good Riddance. This is the bands first release since reforming in 2012 and it features 14 brand new tracks produced by Bill Stevenson and is being released via Fat Wreck Chords.

Fans of edgy, pop tined punk rock look no further as Good Riddance are back with their first new album in 9 years. Titled “Peace in Our Time” the album is the first studio work the band has done together since reforming. Though fans may not have enjoyed the group’s time apart the latest offering from the Santa Cruz, CA natives is fresh and catchy while staying true to the bands original sound. Songs like “Contrition” and “Teachable Moments” feature thunderous bass and drum breakdowns which pave the way for vocalist Russ Rankin’s straight forward vocal approach while tracks like “Take It To Heart”, “Dry Season” and “Our Better Nature” blur the lines of the hardcore/punk genres with graceful ease.

From start to finish “Peace in Our Time” held my attention and made me want to get up and move. The album exudes an energy that is infectious and fun with a sound that harkens back to the mid 90’s punk glory days while still feeling fresh and new. Those looking for a punk rock album with a little bit more edge without going too far look no further than the latest from Good Riddance.

Track Listing:
1.) Disputatio
2.) Contrition
3.) Take It To Heart
4.) Half Measures
5.) Grace and Virtue
6.) No Greater Fight
7.) Dry Season
8.) Teachable Moments
9.) Washed Away
10.) Our Better Natures
11.) Shiloh
12.) Running On Fumes
13.) Year Zero
14.) Glory Glory

Book Review “The Avengers Storybook Collection”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Storybook Collection
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid. “The Avengers Storybook Collection” is a must have for any parent with young boys or even young fan girls for that matter! There is nothing like getting ready a story filled with heroism, adventure and action just before going to slip. These stories are fun, exciting and feature some of our favorite Marvel superheroes. Even though, my daughter is a little young for this one, she still loves it and already came name every character on the cover!

Official Premise: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Falcon are Earth’s Mightiest Marvels-the Avengers! Join them as they work together to battle against sinister Super Villains such as Ultron, Thanos, the Masters of Evil,and more, to keep the Earth safe. Featuring 20 explosive stories of good vs. evil. Avengers assemble!

Let’s hope that this Storybook Collection is the first of many. There are literally an infinite collection of characters that they can include in future collections. This one has 20 stories included with all of the favorites like Iron Man and Captain America but I would love to be able to introduce my daughter to some of the lesser known characters as well. They could even do a female superhero only book OOHHHH OOHHHH or even better a villains only book. Who wouldn’t want to read a new story featuring everyone’s favorite Avenger villain, Loki! Fingers crossed!

Film Review “The Good Lie”

Starring: Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal and Reese Witherspoon
Directed By: Philippe Falardeau
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 110 minutes
Warner Bros.

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

In a movie like this, the number one question to ask yourself is, “How much does this movie care about the people it’s portraying?” It’s a very legitimate question that has plenty of factors. The director of “The Good Lie” has a soft visual touch to the difficult issue of the second Sudanese civil war. Writer Margaret Nagle has handled the lives of others in her works, near and dear to her heart, so she doesn’t harm their image. And most importantly, some of the actors and actresses have lived through this kind of experience. So why can’t this movie outgrow its ABC Family TV movie feeling?

Mamere (Oceng), Jeremiah (Duany), Paul (Jal) and Abital (Kuoth Wiel) are happily headed to America after spending years in a Kenyan refugee camp. 13 years prior to that, they had to flee their Sudanese village after it was torched to the ground and their parents were slaughtered in front of them. In their nearly 500 mile trek to safety, they lose friends to starvation, watch other refugees get gunned down and Mamere watches soldiers take his older brother Theo. Mamere has to persevere and become the leader of hope for the group.

The first half hour is a bit harrowing since it pulls no punches through unnerving scenes of lifeless bodies floating in the river and our group having to bury one of their friends in the unforgiving wasteland. Even after all those hardships and helping one another through it, they can’t live together in America. The three men learn that their sister Abital can’t go with them to Kansas City. She has to go to Boston because rules require separating the men and women. Then the tone of the movie does a complete 180 when the trio arrives in cowtown.

While it’s a necessity that we need some humorous culture shocks to add relief to the horrors we just watched, they really seem to heap it on in a slightly dehumanizing fashion that borders on making fun of our group. It’s a bit light hearted to see them react suspiciously to jello, but I would hope it’s not the filmmaker’s intention for us to laugh at them being uncomfortable in their living situations and moving their mattresses into the living room so they can spend their first night in a new country together. Then if that wasn’t enough, the product placement is very blatant and repugnant. Consider the context of one scene where one of them becomes carsick because they’ve never been in a vehicle and have airplane food swishing back and forth in their bowels. What’s the cure? McDonalds. I’ll just leave it at that.

Miraculously it stops itself short of being completely off putting by introducing Carrie (Witherspoon) who instead of giggling at their misfortunes, is there to help them find jobs and seems genuinely concerned about their predicament. She doesn’t get a lot of on-screen time even though the poster for this movie would tell you otherwise. The real emotional draw for this movie is the refugees, but it doesn’t know where to go with them. Mamere wants to be a doctor and is probably the most driven of all of them. Jeremiah even quits a job because he morally doesn’t agree with what his boss has him do. Paul for some reason takes the advice of people he doesn’t know or has any real connection to, and starts smoking pot. It’s almost as if someone didn’t feel confident enough with the men trying to find normalcy after escaping a war torn area theme powerful enough and began shoehorning in another angles and characters.

I commend the actors for portraying something that’s very near and dear to their heart with such honest passion. When they’re on screen spilling their heart out, “The Good Lie” succeeds and nearly redeems its poorer qualities. Despite my complaints, I find it somewhat miraculous that the final moments are still a powerful message about good will. “The Good Lie” is a crowd pleaser, albeit one that is far from knocking it’s touching story out of the park.

Win Tickets to Kansas City Advance Screening of “The Good Lie” [ENDED]

MediaMikes has teamed up with Warner Brothers to give (50) readers and a guest to attend the upcoming advance screening of the new film “The Good Lie.”

The screening will be held on Tuesday, September 30, at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. “The Good Lie” is an uplifting story with a Kansas City connection. The film opens on Friday, October 3.

Just go to: http://l.gofobo.us/UQD0OmV8. The first (50) visitors will receive a pass for (2) to this screening. Good luck!

Screening Information
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Cinemark Palace on the Plaza
7:30 p.m.

SYNOPSIS
A Sudanese refugee is taken in by a straight-talking American woman in their new home in the United States. After their village is destroyed and their parents killed by Northern militia, Sudanese orphans Theo, his siblings and other survivors make a difficult journey to a refugee camp in Kenya. Thirteen years later, the group get the chance to settle in the U.S. They are met in Kansas by Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon), who has been charged with finding them jobs. However, seeing how adrift they are in 20th-century America, Carrie endeavors to help them in rebuilding their shattered lives.

Blu-ray Review “For No Good Reason”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Richard E. Grant, Terry Gilliam
Director: Charlie Paul
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Run Time: 89 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When I first saw the film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, I feel in love with the work of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and his collaborating artist and longtime friend Ralph Steadman. Over the last 15 years, I have been collecting everything I can from these two people. Talking about fandom, I even have Steadman’s work tattooed on my right arm. When I heard about “For No Good Reason”, I couldn’t have been more excited since after the death of HST in 2005, it gives Steadman the much deserved spotlight that he deserves. It also sort of acts a tribute to HST as well, which I really appreciate. This is no question one of my favorite films of the year and one hell of a documentary.

Official Premise: Experience 15 years in the life of seminal British artist Ralph Steadman, whose surreal, often confrontational artwork is frequently associated with Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Through Johnny Depp’s lead in this intimate portrait, we are able to reach the heart of what make this artist tick, his friendships and fallings out, his love for art and his passion for civil liberties. The inventive, energetic, occasionally harrowing, but inspiring film includes contributions from Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant, Tim Robbins and others who offer insight into the man behind the legend.

One thing, that I really loved about this spotlight on one of the most bizarre artists of the 20th century was how brutally honest it was. I had the very lucky privilege to speak with Ralph Steadman about his career and the film, click here to check out our interview with the man himself. You not only get a portrait of Steadman’s work in this film but also who he is as a person and his back story. He is definitely a weird dude just like HST but what artist isn’t a little odd. If you are a die-hard fan of his work, I cannot recommend this enough…same goes if you are just discovering him this is an amazing introduction as well.

Sony is delivering “For No Good Reason” as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD copy…but no digital copy. I was really hoping that this film was going to include an Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer is good but not perfect. The art looks great though, especially the animation sequences. Same goes with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. It is definitely a solid track but also doesn’t get very challenged with this dialogue driven film.

Since this film took over a decade to complete, I was really hoping the special features would be jam-packed but not so much. There are still some decent content including an audio commentary track from Director Charlie Paul and Producer Lucy Paul, which is a nice way to revisit for sure. There is the Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Ralph Steadman and Charlie Paul included. There is a reading of “Cherrywood Cannon”, animated version of Steadman’s book. Lastly there are a few extended interviews with Bruce Robinson, Richard E. Grant and Terry Gilliam and a few deleted scenes included.

Enter to Win a DVD of Steven Seagal’s “A Good Man” [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Steven Seagal’s “A Good Man”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on DVD to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Steven Seagal film. This giveaway will remain open until August 29th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all of our Media Mikes readers worldwide. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

After an illustrious special ops career ends in disaster, Alexander (Steven Seagal) goes off the grid and attempts to lead a quiet life as a handyman at an apartment complex. But when one of his tenants and her family fall under the thumb of a Russian gangster, Alexander is dragged into an all-out war between rival Chinese and Russian gangs; forcing him to not only defend the family, but bringing him face to face with an old foe, and giving him one more chance to reconcile his past.

Ralph Steadman talks about his work with Hunter S. Thompson and film “For No Good Reason”

Ralph Steadman is a British Gonzo artist that is best known for his work with American author Hunter S. Thompson, author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. After meeting each other in 1970 to cover the Kentucky Derby, Steadman and Thompson formed a long-time relationship. Steadman’s did the artwork for Thompson’s books over his career. He is also an author himself having written numerous books focusing on his drawings…or as Hunter would have called it his “filthy scribblings”, according to Ralph. This April, “For No Good Reason” makes its U.S. debut in NYC, which is a documentary on Ralph’s career. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ralph about the film and his work with Hunter S. Thompson.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got approached for the documentary “From No Good Reason”?
Ralph Steadman: The director Charlie Paul initially came down to see me, then the producer Lucy Paul. This was over a period of twelve years, you know. They would stay for lunch, we would talk and then we would carry on. So over twelve years, we made this film. It just seems so long ago from when we first started it. They got Johnny Depp involved, which was good because he has become a personal friend of mine over the years. He is such a great guy, easy going, warm, genuine and terrific fellow…
MG: I loved Johnny’s narration in the film as well, very nice touch.
RS: Oh yeah, it was lovely. I agree.

MG: How did you feel about having a documentary about your life done?
RS: I first thought “For God’s sake…why?” “For no good reason”…that is what Hunter would have said. I used to always ask “Why are we doing this Hunter?” and he would always say “For no good reason, Ralph” [laughs].

MG: How was it seeing some of your drawings brought to life and illustrated in the film?
RS: That was quite interesting. I couldn’t be an animator in old Disney way when they used to draw one picture and then other but slightly different and then you would put them together like a flip book and they would actually move. The only thing I liked like that was doing something simple like a dot or a splat and putting it in a book form and flipping it and watching it move, that to me was magic. I like doing that kind of thing. But seeing my drawings in the film was really great.

MG: I find it so interesting that you said in the film that your work is unprofessional and “it is as unexpected to me as it is to anyone else”; can you talk about this aspect?
RS: Yeah, that is because I don’t do any pencil work. I never plan anything. I just begin and the drawing becomes what it becomes. My reaction every time is “I don’t know how I did that”. I am always amazed. “How the fuck did I do that?”, I usually say. It’s like Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea that only thing of value is that thing that you cannot say but you can see it. I like that a lot.

MG: So how did your splatter technique come about then?
RS: Oh that was clumsiness. I was clumsy. I said “Oh shit” when I flicked my wrist with my pen but I realized it made this beautiful sweep of blots. I thought to myself them “Oh I like that, it’s quite nice” So I started to use it more deliberately. I would spill ink all over the place. I liked the idea of putting a sheet of paper on the studio floor taking a bottle of ink high on a ladder and dropping it. Not all of it…but just enough. It would make terrific, radiating splatters of different designs. Then you look and think “Hmm, it could be a spider” and I would go from there.

MG: Looking back at the film now, how do you feel that it has come together?
RS: I was amazed by it actually. After twelve years, it was nice to see it all come together. They did cut out a few things that I would have liked them to keep in like my art teacher, Leslie Richardson. This was a pity since I really wanted him in it. What they were after was the notoriety including the fame of Johnny Depp. So poor Leslie Richardson, who is now 93, was left out. But he still goes around kicking old ladies and children in the streets [laughs].

MG: Tell us how you originally crossed paths with Hunter Thompson?
RS: When I was planning to come to New York in 1970, I had some friends that invited me to stay with them in the Hampton’s. They were soon to be married, so I felt a little uncomfortable saying with them for a long period of time. So after staying a little while, I was going to leave for the city and I was about to leave when there was a cal from a guy named J.C. Suarez. He was an editor from Brooklyn. He wanted me to come to Kentucky and meet an ex-Hells Angels, who just shaved his head. I asked why did he do that and he said “Why? Because he’s a Hells Angels. He is a rebel”. So I asked “What for?” He told me that he was not only looking for a photographer but for an artist and they saw my book of pictures called “Still Life with Raspberry”, which was my first book of collected drawings. Don Goddard was the foreign editor of The New York Times and he had found the book in England and then came back and said that they need to put me with Hunter Thompson. So that is how it happened.

MG: Do you feel that your career would have been different if your path’s didn’t cross?
RS: As far as I was concerned, meeting Hunter and going to Kentucky was a bulls eye for me. For all the people that I could meet in America, he would be the one…go figure. Meeting Hunter was the best thing for me in terms of making a career. What we did for journalism was that we became the story and that became know as gonzo journalism. That was really what was so good about it. One day, this guy Bill Cardoso told us that the Kentucky Derby piece we did was “pure gonzo”. Hunter never heard the word before and it really stuck. He used to say “Don’t do those filthy scribblings”. He used to call my drawings filthy scribblings [laughs]. He used to also tell me “Don’t write Ralph, you will bring shame on your family”. But he always loved to sort of go against you but on purpose because he would know that it would provoke me and my work would benefit.

MG: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is one of my favorite books and the movie is great as well…
RS: The thing is people get too sniffy about the movie and things like that. They say that it is not quite this or quite that. No! It is a version of the book. I didn’t mind it, especially since the whole damn thing, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was a crazy idea to begin with.

MG: Do you recall how long it took you to complete the illustrations for the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” book?
RS: I think I did nine pictures in a week and it was done. The rotten thing was that I ended up selling all of the originals since I was told it would be a good career move. I think I got $75 dollars each for them. Can you imagine what they are worth now?

MG: Has your drawings been affected since the death of Hunter S. Thompson?
RS: No, not really. I have been doing bird drawings for the last few years. I don’t like drawing politicians any more, I can’t be bothered. They are so awful. I don’t feel so bitter about it. I do not feel like I am trying to change the world. I have changed the world enough since I started and it is worse now than when I started [laughs]. So good, I have done what I had meant to do [laughing]

MG: Yeah, you start off the film saying you set out to “change the world”; I was going to ask if you felt that you have accomplished that goal?
RS: We’ll you look around, I have done my part but bloody computers have changed everything.The business and also people in general. You can’t walk down a side street without somebody passing you by and they are not looking at you or around them, they are looking down at their phone. I had to go on a train recently to Halifax for a show of my drawings and there was this woman on the train that was a good example. She had red hair which was long down one side and shaved on the other side. I have a drawing of it in my book here. She was so awful, I had to draw her. But she had her makeup out in one hand and her phone in the other from the moment she got on the train. That is the problem about the invasion of the computer, like Twitter. Everyone wants to tweet you now. So that is very weird to me.

MG: Tell us about your latest book “Proud Too Be Weirrd”?
RS: I collected together a bunch of things that I never had no good reason to use [laughs]. I thought I would start with the first page and go through my studio finding this and finding that and just building the book from there and that is how I worked on it. This guy Steve Crist from AMMO Books got in touch with me about doing it. He used to work at TASCHEN. Benedikt Taschen rang me after the book was made and said he was actually very disappointed because he wanted to do the book, but at the time I didn’t know this. He did my book with Hunter, “The Curse of Lono”. Steve Crist used to work with Benedikt and that’s where he began. He sort of adopted the style of big book like TASCHEN did. I really like the title “Proud Too Be Weirrd” and it is a great book

MG: What are some of the artists that inspire you?
RS: I love Picasso. He is such an inspiration for me. There is a film called “The Mystery of Picasso” that is really worth seeing if you can get a copy. It is fascinating for me to watch him at work. The director, who made the film, was allowed to by Picasso to be in the studio with him. This is what Charlie did with me as well for our film. Picasso would set things up for him including painting on glass and having him film from the other side. This is amazing work and it really continues to inspire me.

MG: Are you working on anything else new currently?
RS: I got a new book of creatures that I am working on right now. These are completely made up creatures for example instead of a pelican; you do a pelicant [laughs]. You have to keep doing something otherwise what is the point. I guess I am taking advice from my father, who couldn’t bear to just sit about. I am also learning how to etch steel plates as well. So I suppose I should continue to carry on.

Enter to Win “The Good Witch’s Garden” on DVD [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “The Good Witch’s Garden” on DVD, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on DVD. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite “Good Witch” film in the series. This giveaway will remain open until May 2nd at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Cassandra Cassie Nightingale has settled into Middleton and is busy making a home of Grey House. Her boyfriend, Sheriff Jake Russell, and his kids are happy to have Cassie in the neighborhood, but she has yet to gain the trust of some people in town. Before long, a stranger rolls into town with papers entitling him to legal ownership of Grey House. Before she knows it, Cassie is left without a home and is convinced Middleton isn t where she belongs. Ultimately, everyone will learn holding on too tightly to something can make it more likely that thing will slip through your fingers.

Good afternoon Mr. & Mrs. Michael McDonald and all the ships at sea – it’s The Mike O’Meara Show!

It would be difficult for me to put into words how elated I was when I first discovered the Mike O’Meara Show podcast a few years ago. I had just recently started my career as a CPA and was now a desk-jockey from 9-5, Monday through Friday. I had been a listener of The Don and Mike Show, the predecessor to the Mike O’Meara Show, back when I lived in New York and it was broadcast on WNEW. That show got me through many-a-night of boring high school homework. Now, years later, Mike and crew were suddenly back to save me from utter boredom once again.

Frustrated with the evolution of terrestrial radio and tired of being subject to the constant control of corporate broadcasting companies, Mike O’Meara has changed with the times by ditching the standard format and creating the Mike O’Meara Show podcast. Alongside Mike is Robb Spewak, a former cohort from The Don and Mike Show, and Oscar Santana, whom Mike and Robb met while broadcasting at WJFK in Washington, DC. In Fact, it was Oscar that inspired the move to the podcast format. Together, the experienced trio delivers quality that terrestrial shows could only dream of replicating.

Mike, Robb and Oscar entertain listeners with real-life personal stories, pop-culture, current news and a whole lot of ball-busting (Funnnnnn!). Recorded in the living room studios of the O’Meara Estate in Manassas, Virginia, these three likeable man-asses have a level of chemistry that’ll make you feel like you’re sitting in a room with a group of close friends. As time goes by, you feel like you know the cast and their friends and family personally. You’ll hear Carla, Mike’s wife, as they phone her at work so he can apologize for freaking out about a pot that sat in the kitchen sink too long. You’ll hear Robb talk about his obsession with Elvis and the many Elvis-themed iPhone cases he’s made using Vista Print. You’ll hear Oscar talk about his girlfriend, Shannon, and how she burned his new hardwood floors with a curling iron. But most of all, you’ll come to hear how talented, intelligent, and good-hearted these three slobs are.

From time to time Mike will read a letter on the show in which a listener talks about their personal life and how the show has impacted them in a positive way. I can relate to all of them, as each day I get to escape my near-comatose state in my cubicle to tune in for just over an hour of conversation with my friends. The podcast airs every weekday at 10:30(ish) EDT, and you can stream live (with video) at www.MikeOMearaShow.com. You can also download the shows directly from the website, from iTunes, or using the show’s app on your smartphone. Heck, there’s even a YouTube page! The show is free, but once you’re hooked there are uncensored bonus shows available for a pittance. And guys, if you can only afford the free show – at least throw them a bone and check out their advertisers – they don’t suck.

Saturday, December 7, 2013 marks the four year anniversary of the Mike O’Meara Show podcast. If you’re just now learning this for the first time, you no longer have an excuse for not listening. Come Monday, you’d better get your ass to www.MikeOMearaShow.com and tune in. You’ve already wasted four years. But don’t worry; all the archives since day one are available on the site – so get started playing catch-up!

Devour The Day’s Blake Allison talks about album “Good Man” and touring with Hinder

Blake Allison is the lead singer/guitarist for the band Memphis, TN based rock band Devour The Day. The group recently finished up a successful tour run with Hinder and has also re-released their “Good Man” EP which features a brand new set of mixes. Media Mikes spoke with Blake recently about the group’s formation, the bands re-release and their upcoming plans for 2014

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band?
Blake Allison: Joey Chicago and I have been writing songs together for a long time. We got to the point with our old band Egypt Central where Joey and I were writing all the music. When the band started everyone pitched in with the song writing equally. As that band went on and we experienced some member changes it came down to Joey and I putting all the music and lyrics together. We started writing what would have been the third record for that band and during that process our singer left us high and dry. We decided that what we had could be really great material and possibly be used for another band. We loved that band but Devour the Day is really close to our hearts. This music is exactly as we want it. In the previous band we would write the music and other members would perform it. With Devour the Day we can do everything we want and it seems to mess with our musical background better. This music is straight from the heart and for the first time in a long time we can finish a song without outside help as we are creating it.

AL: Can you tell us about the re-release of the bands “Good Man” EP?
BA: We just finished that up pretty recently. We teamed up with Brian Malouf who is legend in the music industry for making great mixes. He helped us take this whole thing on and we actually were working on in while we were still on tour. We started out shooting ideas back and forth over the phone on how we could give the songs a make over. When we signed to Caroline Records we were super excited and we thought that doing this re-release would be a great way to kick things off. Everyone here is super excited about what we have coming up for 2014.

AL: The band recently finished up a tour with Hinder. Can you tell us about that experience?
BA: Those guys are friends of ours from back when we had our first band. They are just nice people. I think a lot of people would assume that people who are famous are jerks but these guys are not. These guys are living out their dreams and are very happy doing that. Those guys have always taken care of us and when we decided we were going to tour Devour the Day I gave the Cody their drummer a call and asked him to put in a good word for us. He did and landed us a tour that has had us on the road for the better half of 2013.

AL: What was the reception like from the fans?
BA: It has been amazing! We kind of share the same audience and can be heard on the same types of radio stations. The crowds may start off looking at us like we are a little bit weird as they have never heard our songs before but by the end of the set they understand what we are about and what we are trying to do. It can be hard to come out of the gat e and connect with a crowd so we get up there and just lose it and act like idiots. (Laughs) The crowds have loved it though and we are excited to get back out there.

AL: Your song “Good Man” is doing really well right now can you tell what made you choose that song to put out first?
BA: When it came time to pick a song to release there really wasn’t much of a dispute when it came to choosing “Good Man”. That song just stood out as something different from the rest of the material. Simply put it was the strongest song on the record. That song really was the catalyst for putting everything in motion. We had a group of songs that we were going to do and once this one was completed and sent out it got a lot of attention.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands Kickstarter campaign that just wrapped up?
BA: We had discussed putting a video together and the first thing that came up was how could we make a video on a small as budget as possible. We started toying with the idea of doing a cheap video, which generally equates to a band playing in an empty warehouse. That’s just not who we are. We wanted to do something different. Joey’s brother Dan handles the non-profit side of a company called Neighborhood Film Company. They put together Kickstarter campaigns for films that help provide jobs to people in need. We thought it would be a good idea to take the same approach and we came up with the idea of doing a video recognizing all of the people who have helped us get to where we are. We are looking forward to starting work on this and the idea is to make people cry and do something different that what a typical rock band would do.

AL: Can you tell us what the band has planned for the rest of this year leading into 2014?
BA: We have some really big shows coming up towards then end of this year. We have some things in the works for 2014 but I can’t really say too much about that just yet. We are really excited though as we will be out with some newer bands that have a similar sound to us. That should be a really great time.

Book Review “Kiss, Kiss Good Night” by Kenn Nesbitt

Author: Kenn Nesbitt
Illustrator: Rebecca Elliott
Board book: 12 pages
Publisher: Cartwheel Books
Release Date: August 27, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

A snuggle, a hug, a kiss, a nuzzle. What wonderful ways to show you love someone. “Kiss, Kiss Good Night,” is a warm, loving, cuddle-inducing book. The animals in this book are all going to bed and before they fall asleep, their mothers each give them a sweet sign of love. There is nothing better than a mother’s love, especially at night. Kenn Nesbitt captures just what it means to love and be loved.

Rebecca Elliott is an incredible illustrator. She beautifully portrays a mother’s love with her adorable animal pictures. In every furry detail, there is a bit of love. This is a wonderful bedtime book. I can’t wait to read this to my daughter every night!

DVD Review “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness – Good Croc, Bad Croc”

Actors: Mick Wingert, Fred Tatasciore, Kari Wahlgren, Max Koch, Amir Talai
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: June 18, 2013
Run Time: 154 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” is a spin-off animated series in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise and takes place between the two films. Mike Wingert has done a great job stealing Jack Black’s voice to give life to Po. Lucy Lu and James Hong are the only cast returning from the series. I have to admit since this series started airing in 2011, I am surprised that it took so long to start releasing these episodes on DVD. This show would have benefited so much more from a Blu-ray transfer with its great animation and colorful episodes. This show doesn’t have the same charm of the films but it is still action-packed, funny and clever. So kids (and most adults) should have a blast with these episodes.

Official Premise: Brace yourself for awesome action and legendary laughs in this fun-filled animated TV series based on the Academy Awardr-Nominated hit movie Kung Fu Panda! As the chosen Dragon Warrior and sworn protector of the Valley of Peace, Po the panda is highly skilled, ever vigilant and hungry for justice…and dumplings. Together with the Furious Five – Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane and Viper – Po must fend off fierce villains, including an evil version of himself (courtesy of the Mystical Mirror of Yin and Yang) and the toothy Croc Bandits!

There are seven episodes included out of over fifty episodes that has aired to date, but that still adds to nearly three hours of kung-fu action packed adventures.  The episodes included are “Good Croc, Bad Croc”, episodes 6; “The Princess and the Po”, episode 2; “Chain Reaction. episode 4; “Bad Po”, episode 10; “Jailhouse Panda”, episode 8; “Father Crime”, episode 25; “Po Fans Out”, episode 18. This is a nice sample of the show’s first season but I still would rather get a complete season one DVD release. There are no additional special features included amongst these episodes. Though, in the case there is a code included to unlock power-ups, exclusive downloads and more on the all-new online game “Croc Crackdown” on Nick’s website. If you want more you will happy to know that the included pamphlet advertises “The Scorpion Sting”  DVD release and more are coming soon.

Blu-ray Review “A Good Day to Die Hard”

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Cole Hauser, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir
Director: John Moore
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: June 4, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, it might affect my “man-card” but I am not a big fan of the “Die Hard” series as a whole. The first film has its moments and plus who can say no to a Christmas-themed action movie. Also I am a fan of the third film, which teams McClaine up with Samuel L. Jackson. I never even saw or wanted to see “Live Free or Die Hard” and yet we are getting a fifth installment of this seemingly tired franchise. I know that Bruce Willis was once badass as John McClane but he definitely seems to be getting to old for this shit. The plot to this film is such a mess and, in fact, barely exists. It is just a massive bunch of explosion mixed together and set in Russia. Not a big fan of Jai Courtney at all either. But as it pains me to say this, the boys will be back again and “Die Hard 6″ is moving forward with Fox.

Official Premise: Bruce Willis is back in action – mind-blowing, heart-stopping, rip-roaring action – as John McClane, the heroic New York cop with a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time. John’s latest predicament takes him all the way to Russia to track down his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who has been imprisoned in Moscow. But the mission takes a deadly turn as father and son must join forces to thwart a nuclear weapons heist that could trigger World War III!

Despite this film being a big mess, in terms of audio and video though it is absolutely kicking! 20th Century Fox delivers a nice Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack. The digital copy includes an UltraViolet and iTunes digital copy. My copy was delivered missing a code, so I hope that isn’t happening for others as well. The Blu-ray disc includes both a theatrical cut and an extended version, which features a few changes to the beginning and end of the film. It doesn’t make the film any better off either. The 1080p transfer is solid and delivers the scale of the film quite well. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is a beast and really kicks some ass, especially with the action – which is non-stop.

The special features are impressive, despite the painfulness of the film itself. There is an audio commentary track from director John Moore and first assistant director Mark Cotone. “Making It Hard To Die” is a 15-part behind-the-scenes documentary, which runs an hour and covers all aspects of the production. “Anatomy of a Car Chase” is a featurette on the opening action sequence. “Two of a Kind” looks into the father/son relationship. “Back in Action” is a piece on the return of John McClane…again. “The New Face of Evil” focuses on the three villains. “Pre-Vis” and “VFX Sequences” looks into the special and visual effects from the film. Lastly there are seven deleted scenes and five storyboards sequences included, as well as a Concept Art Gallery and Theatrical Trailers.

DVD Review "Hey Good Lookin'"

Directed by: Ralph Bakshi
Starring: Richard Romanus, David Proval, Jesse Welles, Tina Bowman
Distributed by Warner Archive
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 77 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Hey Good Lookin'” is written, produced and directed by one of my favorites Ralph Bakshi, who is the man behind film’s like “Fritz The Cat”, “Wizards” and “American Pop”. There is a lot of back story behind the production of “Hey Good Lookin'”. The film was originally shot and delivered back in 1974 as a live-action/animated combination, eight years before it was finally released in 1982. Originally only the main characters were animated and the rest were portrayed by live actors. The final version of the film is quite different with most of the live-action sequences taking out with animated scenes replacing them. The original version remains unreleased and will probably never see the light of day. Either way I love Bakshi’s style of animated and this film is no different.  I love the 50’s setting and the animation still holds up well after over 30 years. Don’t miss this release!

Offical Premise: From Cool World creator Ralph Bakshi, Hey Good Lookin’ is an outrageous, nostalgic and adult take on a more innocent time. Well, not that much more innocent: not every street corner was a Happy Days setting. Our hero, Vinnie, leader of the ragtag gang known as the Brooklyn Stompers, plays it cool. His lady, Roz, thinks he’s the most wonderful thing on two legs. And his off-the-wall, hot-wired friend Crazy Shapiro would die for the honor of Vinnie and the gang. They’re all sympathetic and familiar characters turned loose in a funky, surreal cartoon landscape that really packs a punch, just as the ‘50s-styled soundtrack of original songs by John Madara and Ric Sandler evokes playful memories. With Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Cool World, Bakshi made animation history mixing mature themes and hip humor. If you know his work, then Hey Good Lookin’ is up your alley.

This film is released for the first time on DVD, thanks to Warner Archive.  It is only available via Warner Archive on a made to order basis.  The transfer of the film looks quite amazing on DVD with an sweet widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The animation really looks sharp and the line detail is well presented and restored. The colors are very sharp and pop off the screen.  The audio track included is a Dolby Digital Mono track and works well with the dialogue and the film’s music. I would have loved to seen Warner Archive give this film the Blu-ray treatment like they have been doing with some of their releases. But at least this film finally gets a decent DVD release and a chance to get the attention it well-deserves. Lastly, besides a trailer, there are no additional extras or special features included.