The Americas Cake Fair Returns to Orlando on October 13-15, 2017! Tickets on Sale Now!

Grateful Dead “Meet-Up at the Movies” Returns With Unreleased 1989 Concert in Movie Theaters Nationwide on August 1 Only

Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment Commemorate Jerry Garcia’s 75thBirthday With Seventh Annual One-Night Event to Showcase Unreleased 1989 RFK Stadium Concert

DENVER – June 29, 2017 – For the seventh year in a row, beloved American rock group Grateful Dead returns to the big screen for its highly-anticipated annual event, “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies 2017.” The Meet Up features the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Brent Mydland, and Bob Weir) in concert, performing to a sell-out crowd of 40,000-plus fans in Washington D.C. The one-night-only event is scheduled for August 1, which would have been Garcia’s 75th birthday.

Presented by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment, “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies 2017” will play in U.S. movie theaters on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. local time. This special one-night cinema event features the Dead’s previously unreleased July 12, 1989 concert from RFK Stadium.

Tickets for “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies 2017” can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in more than 450 select movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network (DBN). For a complete list of theater locations, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

The Meet-Up provides an annual occasion for Dead Heads to reconnect with fellow fans, as well as a chance for new devotees to experience the excitement of what it would have been like to see one of the Dead’s legendary shows live. This year’s concert features a rare first set that contains at least one song sung by each of the four lead singers and a terrific show-opening rendition of the band’s biggest hit “Touch Of Grey.” The show’s second set begins with a very uncommon second-set opener, “Sugaree,” two songs with Bruce Hornsby sitting in (“Sugaree,” and “Man Smart [Woman Smarter]”), plus one of the only video recorded versions of “Black Muddy River.”

July 12, 1989 -RFK Stadium- Set List:

Touch of Grey

New Minglewood Blues

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

Tom Thumb’s Blues

Far From Me

Cassidy

Friend of the Devil

Promised Land

Sugaree

Man Smart [Woman Smarter]

Ship of Fools

Estimated Prophet

Eyes of the World

Drums

I Need a Miracle

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Black Peter

Turn on Your Love Light

Black Muddy River

“Earlier this spring, Dead Heads gathered in cinemas nationwide for ‘The Grateful Dead Movie 40th Anniversary,’” Fathom Events CEO John Rubey said. “We’re pleased to present them with another opportunity to ‘Meet-Up’ at the movie theater this year.”

Hart, Kreutzmann, Weir’s Dead & Company (also featuring John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti) is on tour now through July 1, 2017. For more information, visit www.DeadandCompany.com

About Fathom Events
Fathom Events is recognized as the leading domestic distributor of event cinema with participating affiliate theaters in all 100 of the top Designated Market Areas®, and ranks as one of the largest overall distributors of content to movie theaters. Owned by AMC Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: AMC), Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK) and Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) (known collectively as AC JV, LLC), Fathom Events offers a variety of one-of-a-kind entertainment events such as live, high-definition performances of the Metropolitan Opera, dance and theatre productions like the Bolshoi Ballet and National Theatre Live, sporting events like “Canelo Álvarez vs. Julio César Chávez, Jr.,” concerts with artists like Michael Bublé, Rush and Mötley Crüe, the yearlong TCM Big Screen Classics film series, inspirational events such as To Joey With Love and Facing Darkness, and anime titles such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Fathom Events takes audiences behind the scenes and offers unique extras including audience Q&As, backstage footage and interviews with cast and crew, creating the ultimate VIP experience. Fathom Events’ live digital broadcast network (“DBN”) is the largest cinema broadcast network in North America, bringing live and pre-recorded events to 897 locations and 1,387 screens in 181 DMAs. For more information, visitwww.fathomevents.com.

About Rhino Entertainment
Rhino Entertainment is the catalogue development and marketing division of Warner Music Group. Founded in 1978, Rhino continues to set the standard for excellence in the reissue business it pioneered in both the physical and digital worlds with an emphasis on flawless sound quality, bonus tracks, informative liner notes, award-winning creative packaging, and a strong social conscience. Rhino has also expanded the definition of what a catalogue music company is, as evidenced by the label’s name and likeness representation deal with Frank Sinatra, its multi-faceted relationship with the Grateful Dead, and releasing new albums by heritage artists such as Jeff Beck and Cyndi Lauper. The vast catalogue of more than 5,000 releases includes material by Led Zeppelin, Eagles, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, The Doors, Chicago, Ray Charles, Black Sabbath, John Coltrane, Yes, Phil Collins, The Ramones, and The Monkees, among many others.

Tagslyvania in Big Flats, NY returns for its 7th season

Tagsylvania in Big Flats, NY returns for its 7th season

The ghoulish residents who reside in the mysterious fog covering the sprawling grounds of Tag’s in Big Flats, NY came alive for their 7th fright filled season on Friday September 23rd.
Included in Haunted Attraction Magazines top 31 must see haunts Tagsylvania is bigger and better than ever for the 2016 scaring season. Along with the haunts staple attractions “Jerkus Circus” an over the top nightmare inducing 3-D journey through a circus gone terribly wrong, “Lecter’s Lair” a multi floor adventure which put you face to face with some of your deepest and darkest fears and “Psycho Swamp” a twisting and turning maze which holds you captive by your creepy surroundings.

Along with several upgrades to the haunts existing attractions is the newest member of the family “Escape the Precinct”. You and the members of your group are wrongfully accused of multiple murders and are being detained for questioning. In the Precinct are the items you will need to collect to prove your innocence and possibly reveal the actual person who committed the murders. You have 60 minutes to uncover the clues, solve the puzzles and collect enough evidence to gain your freedom. If one of these terrifying adventures isn’t for you haunt manager Jesse Reib says Tagsylvania has plenty of other things to offer including carnival games, concessions, psychic and tarot card readings along with a few other surprises that will keep you on your toes during your visit to Tagsylvania.

Tagsylvania is open at 7pm on Friday’s and Saturdays starting September 23rd and runs through October 29th.

For more info visit http://tagsylvania.com/

Blu-ray Review “The Cat Returns”

Actors: Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Elliott Gould, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry
Directors: Hiroyuki Morita
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Run Time: 75 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“The Cat Returns” is a 2002 spin-off of the Studio Ghibli film “Whisper of the Heart”, which is one of my favorites.The film featured a fantastic US voice cast including Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Tim Curry, and Elliott Gould. This film followed in the path of “Spirited Away” but didn’t catch on like the Oscar winner. This film is quite magically though and really is very entertaining. I have a feeling that my 3 year old is really going to like this film as well, so I can’t wait to introduce her to this. If you are looking for a sweet fantasy tale, this is a good one.

Official Premise: “The Cat Returns” is a spectacular animated journey to a world of magic and adventure. Haru, a schoolgirl bored by her ordinary routine, saves the life of an unusual cat, and suddenly her world is transformed beyond anything she ever imagined. The Cat King rewards her good deed with a flurry of presents, including a very shocking proposal of marriage to his son! Haru embarks on an unexpected journey to the Kingdom of Cats where her eyes are opened to a whole other world and her destiny is uncertain. To change her fate she’ll need to learn to believe in herself and, in the process, she will learn to appreciate her everyday life.

Disney released this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray and DVD included. I would have lvoed to see a digital copy but Studio Ghibli films have been yet to be released digitally. The 1080p transfer is solid though and the animation looks fantastic. The colors are crisp and the line detail is well done. There are two audio options, the original Japanese and English dub, both with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks.

The special features are decent but not amazing though inline with most of the past Ghibli Blu-rays. There are the Original Japanese Storyboards and Original Japanese Trailers included, as well as TV Spots. There is also “The Making of The Cat Returns” looking into the production, a little short. Lastly, there is “Behind The Microphone”, which features the US voice cast discussing about their respective roles.

Orlando MegaCon Returns to the Orange County Convention Center April 10-12, 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 2, 2014) — Orlando MegaCon, the Southeast’s largest comic book, anime, gaming and multi-media event, is returning to the Orange County Convention Center April 10-12.  The popular event promises to be bigger and better than ever with more events, exhibits and the announcement of celebrity guests including comic book icon, Stan Lee (Saturday and Sunday only).

The weekend starts off with the First Annual MegaWalk at MegaCon 2015, hosted by the Hero Initiative. This event will take place on Friday, April 10 at 11 a.m. with all proceeds going towards the Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. The walk’s grand marshal will be comic book legend George Perez.

The festivities continue on Friday night at The Cosmos Party. With DJ performances, dancing, laser light show, VIP celebrities and costume contest, The Cosmos Party is the official launch of MegaCon. The Cosmo Party takes place in Ballroom D and tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.  Attendees must be 18 or older with proper ID to attend this event.

MegaCon’s avid attendees come first and foremost to see the all-star line-up of comic book guests including George Pérez, Ed McGuiness, Mike Perkins, Marv Wolfman, Allen Bellman, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Frank Cho, Ethan Van Sciver, Andy Smith, Darwyn Cooke, Drew Geraci, Rob Hunter, Katie Cook, Bob Layton, Chuck Dixon, Andy Price, Mike Lilly, Sean Chen, Greg Horn, Dan Parent, Sergio Cariello, Billy Tucci and Brian Pulido

Also big draws at MegaCon are the “media guests” (stars of TV, film and professional sports).  Media guests include:

  • Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies – The Walking Dead
  • Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Mark Boone Junior – Sons of Anarchy (Saturday and Sunday only)
  • Hulk Hogan – Professional wrestling icon (Saturday and Sunday only)
  • Cary Elwes – The Princess Bride
  • Karen Gillan – Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy (Saturday and Sunday only)
  • Jenna Colman, Arthur Darvill – Doctor Who (Saturday and Sunday only)
  • Summer Glau – Firefly, Arrow (Saturday and Sunday only)
  • Adam Baldwin – Firefly, Chuck
  • Alan Tudyk — Firefly
  • David Ramsey – Arrow
  • Lou Ferrigno – The Incredible Hulk
  • Sean Patrick Flanery, David Della Rocca, Clifton Collins, Jr. – The Boondock Saints
  • Jeremy Shada, Olivia Olson – Adventure Time
  • Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Trey MacNeille – The Animaniacs and professional voice actors
  • Grey DeLisle and Troy Baker – professional voice actors

Other weekend events include the MegaCon video gaming with the Supercon 2K series and an arcade room by Freeplay Florida.

MegaCon 2015 Showroom Dates and Hours:
Friday, April 10:        12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 11:   10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 12:     10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

MegaCon 2015 Ticket Prices:
Online:  Friday – $30, Saturday – $35, Sunday $30, 3-day – $70
Onsite:  Friday – $35, Saturday – $40, Sunday $35, 3-day –$75

MegaCon 2015 Location:
Orange County Convention Center
West Building – Exhibit Halls A4 through B4
9899 International Drive
Orlando, FL  32819

Saturday tickets are expected to sell out, so guests are encouraged to consider attending MegaCon on Friday or Sunday.

About MegaCon

MegaCon has grown to become one of the largest comic book and sci-fi conventions in the nation with attendance increasing each year. Designed to appeal to all ages and interests, MegaCon allows attendees to meet and mingle with their favorite comic book artists and TV/film stars, buy amazing collectibles from hundreds of vendors and artists, enjoy gaming events, and participate in numerous activities throughout the weekend.

The MegaCon guest list is constantly growing. Check www.MegaConvention.com frequently for more updates.

###

Editor’s Note:

Guest appearances, events and times are subject to change or cancellation. For current information, visit www.megaconvention.com.

First Time Fest Returns to New York City

FIRST TIME FEST a unique film festival celebrating first-time feature filmmakers, makes it’s triumphant return to the Big Apple next week, running from April 3-7.

 Aimed at discovering and providing exposure for the next generation of great filmmakers from around the world, FTF is a five-day event with a competition section showcasing new and exciting debut films as well as a series of screenings and discussions with now-prominent filmmakers presenting their first films and then mentoring the first-timers.  

In the words of Academy Award winning director Martin Scorsese, who presented Darren Aronofsky with the first John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema last year,  FTF  “is very, very important to encourage young filmmakers.”

FTF will present ten Competition Films, which will be judged by a panel of industry luminaries and the FTF audience. All of the films in competition at FTF are the very first feature of the writer, director, producer, editor, cinematographer or composer of each film.  All competition screenings will be followed by “Hot-Seat” discussions between the jury and filmmakers, and all audience members will vote on the films as well. Together, the jury and audience will ultimately select the Grand Prize winner, which is offered theatrical distribution and international sales representation from the renowned American film distributor, Cinema Libre Studio.  And with FTF’s new relationship with Scandinavian Locations – the consortium of Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish film commissioners – the winning filmmaker will also receive a trip to Norway and Sweden to spend a week at a writer’s cottage in Northern Sweden to work on their next project.  Scandinavian Locations will also be hosting our Filmmaker Kick-Off event on April 2 at NeueHouse.

FIRST TIME FEST also features a retrospective series called First Exposure which showcases the auspicious and ambitious debuts by artists who went on to become major filmmakers.  These screenings are highlighted by personal appearances by the filmmakers themselves.  This year’s  First Exposure series features the following filmmakers and films: our Opening Night director Jennie Livingston presenting Paris is Burning, Albert Maysles (Salesman), Julie Taymor (Titus), Michael Moore (Roger & Me), Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass), Cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Eraserhead), James Toback (Fingers), and Peter Bogdanovich (Targets).

 This year’s First Exposure program kicked-off on February 24th with an out-of-fest screening of Robert De Niro’s directorial debut, A Bronx Tale, followed by a conversation with Mr. De Niro and FTF Director of Programming David Schwartz. 

The Stand Alone series will feature incredible conversations with Peter Bogdanovich and Michael Moore on April 5 at 3.30pm at the Loews Village VII theatre.

A special panel, entitled Women in Entertainment and Media, is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management Group andwill include Brooke Shields, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Carol Alt.

For complete schedule and location of panels, please visit http://www.firsttimefest.com/panels/

Monster Jam Returns to Orlando on January 25th, 2014!

MONSTER JAM® RETURNS TO ORLANDO ON JANUARY 25TH, 2014

Annual motor sports spectacle is final event before Florida Citrus Bowl demolition

 

What: MONSTER JAM® makes its return to the Orlando area when the annual motor sports spectacle drives into the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. The Monster Jam is one of Orlando’s most popular and largest single-day stadium events, attracting capacity crowds of over 60,000 fans. A huge field of sixteen monster trucks will compete in side-by-racing and the fan-favorite freestyle competition. One of the many highlights of this year’s event is the return of fan favorite Dennis Anderson (originator and driver of GRAVE DIGGER) to the city and stadium he calls his favorite.

 

Show Time: One show only: Saturday, January 25th 0 Gates Open at 5 pm. Opening Ceremonies at 6:30 pm. Racing Starts at 7 pm.

 

Where: Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805

 

Ticket Prices & Purchase: Advance purchase SuperValue Tickets are ONLY $15. $35 VIP / $25 Sideline. Tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Amway Center Box Office, or charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com. Tickets will also be available day of show at the Citrus Bowl.  All seats reserved. Subject to facility fee, plus convenience and handling charges. Don’t wait – buy tickets in advance as prices go up $5 more the week of show. Get more show information at www.MonsterJam.com (click on “Tickets” and search for Orlando January 25th).

 

Show Details:   Central Florida will heat up this January when 1,500 horsepower, 10,000-pound monster trucks compete in side-by-side racing and the fan-favorite freestyle

competition where each monster truck gets up to 120 seconds to “wow” the crowd with huge jumps, wheelies, truck-spinning donuts, flips, and the destruction of cars, vans, buses, motor homes and more.  Four-time World Champion, Dennis Anderson, returns to his favorite city driving the legendary monster truck he created 32 years ago, GRAVE DIGGER.  After his sensational 2013 debut, Ryan Anderson will be joining his father driving SON UVA DIGGER.

The event will also feature 11-time and reigning World Champion MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION, plus Latino favorite EL TORO LOCO, MOWAWK WARRIOR, ICE CREAM MAN, MONSTER MUTT ROTTWEILER, the Orlando debut of Nicole Johnson driving SCOOBY, and more yet-to-be announced motorsports competitors. The official title of the event is Metro PCS, 1-800-Ask-Gary, Budweiser & Your Southern Ford Dealers present MONSTER JAM®.

 

Preview/Opps/Contests:  Fans can go behind the scenes, meet the drivers for autographs and photo ops, and see the monster trucks up close at the World’s Ultimate Pit Party at Tinker Field from 2-5 pm.

Purchase a pit pass for only $10 more when buying tickets at Ticketmaster or the Amway Center Box Office. Or, pick up a free pit pass at participating Orlando area Southern Ford Dealers beginning January 6th (while supplies last).  Pit Passes, along with a valid event ticket, get fans into the Pit Area.

Fans can also have the opportunity to ride in a real monster truck before the show between 1-7 pm in the lot across from Gate D.  Monster Truck Rides are $10 per rider.

Blu-ray Review “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Deluxe Edition)”

Starring: Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, Gary Anthony Williams, David Selby, Ariel Winter, Mark Valley
Director: Jay Oliva
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Run Time: 156 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

When I saw that Warner Bros was releasing “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” with Part 1 & 2 complete together, I thought it was a bit of a double dip but I have to let everyone know that it is not at all. This deluxe edition releases takes the two parts and puts them into one seamless cut, which runs nearly two hour and thirty minute. I will repeat that a two hour and thirty minute Batman movie, I mean HELLO NERD ALERT!! I thought the first part was great but the second part was better but having them together just makes the entire film work so much tighter. Easily this is the most bold and risky DCU animated movie yet and it only gets better with easy viewing. Highly recommended picking up this release for any Batman fan.

Official Premise: It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired, and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now, when his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, the Joker and Two-Face, for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive.

If this brand new seamless cut wasn’t enough Warner Bros delivered this combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet and packed it with some amazing new extras. The 1080p looks stunning (like the solo releases) and works perfectly with the mix of hand-drawn animation and CG effected for the film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works perfectly with the action as it explodes off the screen and kicks you in the face. It also complements Christopher Drake’s score very well.

So along with all the special features from the previously released part one and two Blu-ray’s, this deluxe edition continues to prove why it is worth the additional purchase. There is a fantastic new audio commentary track with director Jay Oliva, writer Bob Goodman and voice director Andrea Romano. The track is a blast and packs a ton of great information. This is especially cool since part one and part two didn’t include an audio commentary previously. There is also a fantastic new documentary called “Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns”, which narrated by actor Malcolm McDowell. It included tons of great interviews with Miller himself and covers the story from the comic to the film and everything in between. Must see for any fan!

I thought the special features on part one are good but not stunning but put them together with the new extras and part two and it all comes together so well. Part one included. “Her Name is Carrie… Her Role is Robin” is a look at the role of a female Robin. “Batman and Me: A Devotion to Destiny, The Bob Kane Story” is a 2008 documentary that looks into the life of Batman creator. “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Sneak Peek” is a behind the scenes look into the second part. ”The Dark Knight Returns” Digital Comic is a very short 4-page preview of Miller’s Batman epic novel, I would have loved to see the complete comic converted. Lastly there are two classic episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series Episodes”, ”Two-Face, Parts 1 & 2″, though not in HD.

The special features are more impressive than “Part 1″ release. First up, we have “From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the Adaptation Process” is a behind-the-scenes documentary which looks into the extensive work that has went into converting this comic to a movie. ”Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide” is a look into who would win this epic battle. “The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death” is a look into the twisted villians role in this final chapter. “Additional Episodes: From the DC Comics Vault” is collection of classic episodes including “The Last Laugh” and “The Man Who Killed Batman” from Batman: The Animated Series and “Battle of the Superheroes!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Lastly there is an extended preview of the DCU animated movie, ”Superman Unbound”.

Florida Xtravaganza – Toy, Comic, Art & Fan Convention Returns November 15-17th!

Back, by popular demand… the Original Florida Xtravaganza Toy, Comic, Art and Fan Convention!

The Doubletree Seaworld (formally International Plaza) Hotel on NOVEMBER 15 – 17 2013

Florida Xtravaganza will be a family run, fun collectible convention where you WILL find all of the rarest and most sought after toys, comics and collectibles on your want list! It promises to be the most fun filled weekend of the year for collectors and fans alike and it is all in a single location!

It will also showcase the first PEZ-Lando Convention!, which promises to be an event not to be missed. It will be a “Collector’s Meet” included within the Florida Xtravaganza event this year and plans to be a stand alone convention next year! Attendees will have access to everything included in their admission and there will be exclusive items available for this show only!

Appearing at FX! Actors from the classic “A Christmas Story.” Scott Schwatrtz, Ian Petrella, Zach Ward and Yano Anaya! Also appearing is wrestling icon Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. 

UPDATE 9/30/13 – Steve Urkel from “Family Matters”. Appearing at FX for his first ever convention signing!… Jaleel White! Born Nov. 27, 1976 in Pasadena, CA, Jaleel Ahmad White began working in front of the camera in commercials at the age of three, and quickly became a veteran child actor, booking appearances on everything from “The Jeffersons” (CBS, 1975-1985) to “Charlie & Co.” (CBS, 1985-86) to “Mr. Belvedere” (ABC, 1985-1990). In fact, he almost landed the role of “Rudy” on “The Cosby Show” (NBC, 1984-1992) until Bill Cosby decided to make the character a girl. White’s star-making role, however, came from a more unlikely place: a one-time guest spot on the sitcom “Family Matters” (ABC/CBS, 1989-1998) as the cartoonishly nerdy Steve Urkel. Most recently Jaleel has starred on Total Blackout and Dancing with the Stars.

Jackie Robinson Returns to Kansas City – Hollywood Style!

KC Royals Hall of Famer George Brett

My first memory of Jackie Robinson is also one of my earliest baseball memories. Watching game 2 of the 1972 baseball World Series there was a ceremony held before the game, commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Robinson becoming the first black baseball player in the major leagues. Assuming that black players had always been around (heck, I was wearing a pair of Lou Brock model Converse sneakers that I had begged my parents for) I was surprised at the story my father told me about Robinson and his battle to play in the majors. Before signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League Robinson was the shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. So it was only fitting that “42,” the motion picture that honors his life, premiere in Kansas City. The event, held at the AMC Barrywoods 24 theater, gave almost 1,400 fans the first opportunity to see the new film.

Linda Paige, daughter of Satchel Paige

The weather was as brisk as you would expect on an early April day. Dignitaries, including Kansas City mayor Sly James, mingled with past and current members of the Kansas City Royals, as well as other baseball greats from the past, including Hall of Famer Lou Brock! Also attending was Linda Paige, the daughter of Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige as well as Jackie Robinson’s son, David. Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro League Baseball Museum, which is also based in Kansas City, attended as did cast members from “42,” including Harrison Ford, Derek Phillips, Chadwick Boseman and Andre Holland.

Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett was amazed at the red carpet experience and the honoring of Jackie Robinson. “Being a baseball player also, people just assume that I know who Jackie was. But I don’t know all of the things he had to endure. It’s going to be an education for me tonight to watch this (film).” I asked Brett, who is a strong supporter of the Negro League Museum, what the benefit showing would do for the organization. “I hope it brings more awareness to it,” he said. Brett’s said his biggest regret was that Buck O’Neil, one of the best known former Negro League ballplayers, was no longer alive to enjoy this moment. Featured in the highly popular Ken Burns documentary “Baseball,” O’Neil was the first black coach in Major League baseball and a fan favorite. Brett also noted that if O’Neil were still alive tonight’s event would have been twice as big!

David Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s son

Best known for his work on television’s “Friday Night Lights,” Phillips talked about playing a different sport on screen. “I probably hadn’t played baseball since I was seventeen and to get the opportunity to do a film like this at thirty-five…to get out there and throw the ball around…was a great experience. We had a run-down scene that we shot in multiple angles…chasing the runner to third and back to second then back to third. It was 106 degrees in Atlanta and I got a little gassed, I’ve got to be honest.”

I asked Mayor James how important it was that this event was being held in Kansas City. “It’s huge,” he replied. “And it’s the appropriate place to have it when you think about it. But for the Negro Leagues there wouldn’t be a Jackie Robinson. The Negro Leagues started here…the Monarchs were a great team and Jackie was a part of that team. He was the person that was selected. He not only broke the color barrier in baseball but he also broke the color barrier in society. He was a high-profile African-American…something that many people in this country hadn’t seen before. He forced people to reexamine their thoughts and beliefs. The fact that it all started in Kansas City makes this event very special.”

Actor Andre Holland

When I spoke to Negro League Museum president Kendrick I informed him of what Brett had said about mourning the absence of Buck O’Neil. I asked him how he thought Buck would enjoy this evening’s events. “He would be so excited,” he said, letting out a laugh. “He would own the red carpet. And he would be so proud. This is such a major accomplishment for the museum. And to be connected to a project of this magnitude…one that is shedding new light on one of the greatest American heroes ever as well as shedding light on the playing ground that allowed Jackie to play. The Negro Leagues. Because we don’t get Jackie if not for the Negro Leagues. I hope this film reminds people of just how special the Negro Leagues were and how much talent was there in the Negro Leagues.”

When I spoke to actor Andre Holland, who plays famed sportswriter Wendell Smith in the film, I noted that he was pretty much the only person in the movie that doesn’t get to throw a baseball. Did he ever just wander down to the field and start playing catch? “There were a couple of times, I will not lie to you,” he replied. “I played a lot of baseball growing up and sometimes when I was sitting in the stands…between takes I’d go down, grab a bat and take a swing or toss the ball around. It was hard to be in a baseball stadium and NOT be playing baseball.”

Blu-ray Review "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2"

Actors: Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, David Selby, Michael McKean, Ariel Winter
Directors: Jay Oliva
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Run Time: 78 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

After viewing “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1”, I was literally counting down the days till “Part 2”. Well it has finally arrived and holy shit is it amazing!! Frank Miller’s 1986 novel comes to a stunning conclusion. I thought that “Part 1” was amazing but then this film came around and it literally blows this the first out of the water. Peter Weller really kicks some major ass as the aged Batman and while Michael Emerson is no Mark Hamill he does a decent Joker. Batman not only battles The Joker but also The Man of Steel, Superman. Frank Miller really captured the essence of our caped crusader and it has been well represented here.  This film is as epic as they come.

Official Premise: The Dark Knight along with new sidekick Robin have finally reclaimed Gotham City and allowed a ray of hope to penetrate the reign of terror that The Mutants had cast upon his city. With Batman back in the spotlight the extended media coverage has awoken a far worse evil at Arkham Asylum The Joker! Forever destined to be mortal enemies The Joker has a diabolical scheme that may pull Batman down to the darkest levels of insanity. While on the horizon a global catastrophe races towards Gotham and with it comes a familiar face The Man of Steel though this time he has Batman in his sights. Witness as the aging Dark Knight wages a tireless war against crime while proving that courage and will are indeed timeless.

Warner Premiere has really delivered another fantastic Blu-ray combo pack like with “Part 1” also including a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The 1080p is crystal clear and works perfect with the animation.  The action is this amped up with the epic battle between our two superheros. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 delivers the mood and action of this concluding chapter perfectly. Both the audio and video are in part with “Part 1” and equally successfully.

The special features are more impressive than “Part 1” release.  First up, we have “From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the Adaptation Process” is a behind-the-scenes documentary which looks into the extensive work that has went into converting this comic to a movie.  “Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide” is a look into who would win this epic battle. “The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death” is a look into the twisted villians role in this final chapter. “Additional Episodes: From the DC Comics Vault” is collection of classic episodes including “The Last Laugh” and “The Man Who Killed Batman” from Batman: The Animated Series and “Battle of the Superheroes!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Lastly there is an extended preview of the next DCU animated movie, “Superman Unbound”.

Blu-ray Review "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1"

Actors: Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, David Selby, Michael McKean, Ariel Winter
Directors: Jay Oliva
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Run Time: 76 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

After Christopher Nolan’s fantastic trilogy, DC and Warner Premiere has decided to keep it dark and go with Frank Miller’s groundbreaking “Dark Knight Returns” arc.  The animated film itself is split into a two-part feature-length films.  They take a more violent and brutal look into our comic book anti-hero. “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1” is one of the best films to come out of the DC Animated Universe. You forget that this film is only an animated film with how  epic this feels.  I wish that all of the DC Animated films took a page from this film.  I am not sure on Frank Miller feels on this but it feels like it literally jumps off his page on into your face!

Official Premise: It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired, and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now, when his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, the Joker and Two-Face, for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive.

Warner Premiere has really delivered a beautiful Blu-ray combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The 1080p looks beyond amazing and works perfectly with the mix of hand-drawn animation and CG effected for the film. DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works perfectly with the darkness that this film carries.  The action explodes off the screen and kicks you in the face.

The special features includes are good but not spectacular. “Her Name is Carrie… Her Role is Robin” ius a look at the role of a female Robin. “Batman and Me: A Devotion to Destiny, The Bob Kane Story” is a 2008 documentary that looks into the life of Batman creator. “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Sneak Peek” is a behind the scenes look into the second part. “The Dark Knight Returns” Digital Comic is a very short 4-page preview of Miller’s Batman epic novel, I would have loved to see the complete comic converted.  Lastly there are two classic episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series Episodes”, “Two-Face, Parts 1 & 2”, which would have been amazing if it was in HD but it is not.

Level Up! Otronicon Returns to Orlando Science Center

It’s Year Eight for Orlando Science Center’s Otronicon

Friday, January 18 through Monday, January 21

 ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2013) – For the eighth consecutive year, multiple industry partners join Orlando Science Center to celebrate the role interactive technology plays in the way we live, learn, work and play during Otronicon January 18–21, 2013.

This year, partners including EA SPORTS, University of Central Florida and Florida Hospital for Children demonstrate Orlando’s impact on the world of entertainment, simulation, education, training, health care and more.

Otronicon is the Science Center’s largest annual event with an average of 2,500 visitors each day – more than 10,000 guests for all four days. The experience has the opportunity to inspire a child’s interest in science and tech careers through the appeal of video games, interactive technology and virtual reality.

There are classes in video game creation as well as exclusive peeks at simulators created by local experts. Simulation areas will examine how video game technology is being used in the military, medical, sports and entertainment industries as a training and design tool. Plus, connect with local simulation companies to learn about exciting careers in the field.

The event promotes the concept of “made in Orlando, played in Orlando” with many chances to interact with the creative professionals that make the games you enjoy and discover the growing career opportunities in your own backyard.

And special to this year’s event:  experience the blockbuster exhibit Star Wars®: Where Science Meets Imagination with admission to Otronicon!  Developed by the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with Lucasfilm Ltd. and presented by Bose Corporation®, the 10,000-square-foot exhibit explores the fantasy technologies depicted in the Star Wars films, as well as the real science behind them, and the current research that may someday lead to real-life versions of the technologies seen in the film series. The exhibit includes more than 80 screen-used props, costumes and models, in addition to extensive video interviews with filmmakers, scientists and engineers, and hands-on components, including two large Engineering Design Labs, where visitors can build and test their own speeders and robots.

EA SPORTS returns to Otronicon for the third straight year and will spotlight the many exciting aspects of game development. This year, EA SPORTS places fun sports games in the palm of your hand using augmented reality to create a mobile game environment, nearly anywhere you go. And once again, EA SPORTS will invite attendees to “get in the game” with sports cover photo-ops, a 3-D technology demonstration called “Be 3-D” (showing guests how they might look in a video game) and plenty of games available for open play.

Also returning to Otronicon is Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, which will be showcasing how they use simulation to design rides and attractions. Included is an Audio-Animatronic Droid from Disney’s Hollywood Studios attraction Star Tours: The Adventures Continue set in the Star Wars universe.

In addition, explore the virtual reality environment of the Virtusphere or play outdoor laser tag courtesy of Battlefield Live Orlando. There will also be open play for video games on multiple platforms and areas to explore video games as art.

And for the first time ever at Otronicon, guests will be able to see a Hollywood movie in the new Digital Adventure Theater, “TRON: Legacy 3D.”

Cost and Hours

Admission to Otroniconis $27 for adults and $20 for youth (ages 3-11). Tickets also include access to Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, films and live presentations. Science Center members can experience Otronicon for free and see Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imaginationfor $12 for adults and $9 for youth (ages 3-11).

Otronicon is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18 and Saturday, Jan. 19; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 and Monday, Jan. 21.

For more information, please call 407-514-2000 or visit www.osc.org and www.otronicon.org.

Star Wars®: Where Science Meets Imagination

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, presented by Bose Corporation®, was developed by the Museum of Science, Boston and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Lucasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, STAR WARS® and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0307875. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendationsexpressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Otronicon v.8 Partners

University of Central Florida Research & Commercialization; University of Central Florida Institute for Simulation & Training; University of Central Florida College of Engineering and Computer Science; EA SPORTS; Bright House Networks; Florida Hospital for Children; Eyetech Digital System; Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy; Lockheed Martin; Florida High Tech Corridor; Engineering and Computer Simulations; Seay Business; National Center for Simulation; Walt Disney Park & Resorts; Advanced Materials Professional Services, LLC; Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission; Orange County Arts & Cultural Alliance; City of Orlando; United Arts of Central Florida; n-Space; Phyken, Inc.; GameSim Technologies; and DeVry University.

Orlando Home Show Returns October 5-7, 2012

Get organized with valuable tips from Mark Brunetz of Style Network’s Clean House

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 18, 2012) – Inspiration will start the minute guests step into the 2012 Orlando Home Show, the only place to find smart ideas and fresh advice for gardening, home improvement, decorating and more from hundreds of experts, all under one roof. Orlando’s original and largest consumer home show returns October 5-7 to Hall North B in the Orange County Convention Center’s North/South complex off Universal Boulevard, and features local, regional and national experts, instructional how-to seminars, contests, giveaways and much more. The home improvement extravaganza will spotlight Featured Products and Services and exhibitors who are participating in the fall show for the very first time.

Special features include appearances by Mark Brunetz of Style Network’s Clean House; a Design Showcase and free design consultations by AP Interiors; a tech gadget-filled Smart House constructed by Universal Contracting; and daily seminars by home improvement experts on the Fresh Ideas Home Stage.

According to Marketplace Events, the nation’s largest producer of home shows, including the Orlando Home Show,consumers continue to seek out home improvement projects to protect their investment as the economy slowly improves. “Hundreds of experts are standing by to help consumers, whether they have a specific project in mind or are seeking fresh ideas,” said Cristian Moore, Orlando show manager for Marketplace Events. “We offer a fun day out and there’s something for everyone at our show.”

Want to live clutter free in spectacularly designed, yet affordable rooms that convey your true sense of personal style?Mark Brunetz’s presentations on the Fresh Ideas Main Stage will empower guests to reclaim their living spaces. Tackling the emotional reasons why people unnecessarily hang on to possessions, Brunetz will offer valuable tips to help clear the clutter, get organized, and make way for a more efficient, nicer place in which to live during his presentations on Friday at 6:00 p.m., Saturday at 12 noon and 5:00 p.m., and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Creative juices will start flowing when guests stroll through the Designer Showcase, presented by Ana Palacios Interiors of Orlando. Fully decorated, accessorized and uniquely-themed living, dining, bedroom and office spaces – even a child’s bedroom – will showcase the very latest trends, styles and colors, from transitional to eclectic to contemporary. Colorful tangerine-colored walls, chrome pieces and holiday accents are among the hundreds of design elements that will be on display. Designers will be available throughout the weekend during show hours offering free consultations. Guests are encouraged to bring photos, floor plans, fabric swatches and paint samples for help solving their toughest home improvement challenges.

Consumers can also find answers to their DIY and home improvement, landscaping and home décor questions from more than 300 experts around the show floor and on the main stage throughout the weekend. Popular green thumb andOrlando Sentinel columnist Tom MacCubbin and nationally-syndicated home design columnist Marni Jameson are among the presenters (visit www.OrlandoHomeShow.com for a complete listing of presentation times).

From energy-saving devices to automation and security, guests can see the latest technology, products and gadgets available today in The Smart Home, constructed right on the show floor by Universal Contracting.

There’s no better place than at the Orlando Home Show to shop, compare and save on a wide variety of home improvement products and services in one location. Show producers have done all of the legwork to identify a variety ofFeatured Products and Services, from an aromatherapy system that uses air conditioning to distribute fragrances throughout the home, to easily-installed and interchangeable kitchen backsplashes, to versatile cookers that do it all: slow roasting, steaming, smoking and grilling. Guests can explore 300 exhibit booths, plus enter into contest and prize drawings.

Show hours are Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m, and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Tickets are available at the door, and are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (60+; this discount is ONLY valid at the door and no other discounts apply), $5 for students 13-18 (ID required, only valid at the door), and free for children 12 years and younger.  Advance tickets can be purchased online for a $3 discount off full-price $10 admission at www.OrlandoHomeShow.com.  Convenient on-site parking is available adjacent to the Orange County Convention Center off Universal Boulevard, and is $8 per car with valid Florida ID.

For more information, visit www.OrlandoHomeShow.com, or call 877-871-SHOW (7469).  The Central Florida Home & Garden Show  and its springtime sister show, the Central Florida Home & Garden Show (March 22-24, 2013) are both produced by Marketplace Events.

Get celebrity tips, home trends, exhibitor discounts, opportunities to win tickets and more by connecting with the show onFacebook and Twitter (@FloridaHomeShow).

About Marketplace Events:

Marketplace Events produces 31 consumer home shows in 20 markets across North America that collectively attract 14,000 exhibitors, 1 million attendees and another 1 million unique web visitors annually. For more information, visit www.marketplaceevents.com.

The Sole Inhabitant Returns: An Interview with Thomas Dolby

Quick:  Who is Thomas Dolby?

If you said “The ‘She Blinded Me with Science’ dude”, you’re probably in a vast majority.   But, as Dolby’s long-time fans know, he’s far more than just being the artist responsible for the irresistibly catchy song that propelled him to the top of the charts and made him a staple of MTV’s golden era.   In addition to a being technological pioneer both inside and outside of the recording studio, Thomas’ musical career boasts a body of innovative work that includes five albums, the most recent of which – “A Map of the Floating City” – is his first since 1992.  It’s a triumphant return and one that hopefully marks the beginning of an equally prolific stage for him as a singer, songwriter and performer.

In talking with Thomas, he touched upon the things that drove him to create new music, reflected back on experiences from early on in his career, and how he’s seen the music industry and new talent evolve into the modern era.  We even had a chance to Cher our views on a certain vocal effect.

Dave Picton:  “The Map of the Floating City” is your first new album of studio material in 20 years. What made you want to return to creating and releasing new music after all of that time?
Thomas Dolby:  I suppose I just had some new songs that I wanted to get out.  You know, they say often with an artist’s first album, that you’ve had 20 years of life experience to draw from and, with your second album, you’ve had six months of airport lounges and hotel bars. [laughs] I felt that I’d had another 20 years of life experience to draw from.  I had a lot of good ideas and things that I wanted to express.

DP:  “Map” certainly wound up being quite autobiographical in nature.   What influenced that approach?
TD:  Well, I think the biggest influence on me, really, is my environment.  I think especially that moving and becoming displaced and that feeling of dislocation is a strong sort of catalyst of new songs for me.  So that sort of explains the map and the three continents reflecting three places that I’ve lived.  There’s “Urbanoia” and it clearly shows that I’m not a city person.  In “Amerikana”, the aggregate of me living in the States was a really good one.  I’m drawn to indigenous American music because we don’t really have indigenous music here in the UK.  That may sound strange to say, but I tend to charitably think of us being very original and innovative and so on, but in fact what we’re really good at is sort of plundering musical styles from elsewhere in the world and putting a cool sort of wrap on them and re-exploiting them.  A sort of musical imperialism, you know?  [laughs]  So, with the “Amerikana” section, it was sort of a nod in the direction of roots and old-time American music but with a unique sort of British tint to it.  And then “Oceanea” was really about coming home to England and feeling very comfortable in the environment here.  I live in a tiny village on the coast where my mum’s side of the family is from.  She never had the chance to meet my family.  She would have been very proud to see them back here growing up and learning to love it the way she did.

DP:  Jumping back to the notion of combining musical styles and using them in your music, what things were you listening to at the beginning that made you want to go into music and stuff you continue to listen to throughout your career?
TD:  Fairly diverse and eclectic music. I was always more into individuals with a unique voice and rock and roll band music.

DP:  Any one in particular?
TD:   When I was a teenager, David Bowie was a big influence.  Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison were big influences.  These are all wide varieties of different styles of music but what they all have in common is a unique lyrical voice.  The music that they made with the arrangements they created and the production and so on all served to tell a story.  They all wrote songs that you could have sat down and sung on the piano and they still would have made sense.

DP:  Is there a favorite genre that you like to settle into and work with or are all of them pretty comfortable and enjoyable to work with?
TD:  Well, what I enjoy most is working with a genre that I’m not too familiar with because it’s an exploration.  I tend to steer clear of styles that I’m too fluent in because there’s less randomness to it.  It’s more predictable.  So I find it stimulating to work in a new style.

DP:  If I snagged your iPod and pressed “random”, what artists would I hear?  Would you be one of them?
TD:  Well, inevitably, there’s a few of mine on there because I need to take them with me to listen to all sorts of rough mixes and things like that.  But, besides that, you would hear Iggy Pop.  Bjork.  Dan Hicks. T-Rex.  Marvin Gaye.  Trentemøller.  Athlete.  Venus Hum.  BT.  And some of the others I mentioned earlier.

DP:  You embraced technology from the very beginning of your career.  A great many things have happened in that realm since your first album, “The Golden Age of Wireless”.  Has evolving technology changed the way you approach writing music and what do you think the effect of it has been on music in general?
TD:  I think that the main difference is that D.I.Y. music has become possible.  You couldn’t do anything yourself in 1980.  You needed somebody to fund you to go into a studio, which is very expensive and is the only place to make a high-quality recording.  You also needed somebody with distribution power or else the public would never get to hear what you made.  So there was sort of this obstacle course that you needed to get through before you ever got in front of an audience.   Many people that were very talented didn’t make it through those hurdles.  Today, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you getting out in front of the audience without any outside help at all.  For a few hundred bucks, you can have a recording studio on your laptop and services that, without any investment up front, will help you distribute your music.  This is great news for talented youngsters because all talented youngsters believe “Well, as soon as the world hears me, they’re going to fall in love with me and I’ll be a mega-star!”  But, back in my day, we were actually kidding ourselves.  We first needed the industry to fall in love with us.  That has very wide implications.  The first is that it’s a very healthy thing for the music itself because, back then, if you sat down to write a song, you were worried whether or not you can get a cassette to the A&R man or, even if you weren’t really signed, would the marketing department and the promotion guys really go for it? Is radio going to play it?  Is retail going to stock it?  You were concerned about all of those things and they preyed on your mind when you wrote a song. Or at least they did on mine.

DP:   Was this phenomenon one that was relevant to you in the period between “Golden Age” and your second album, “The Flat Earth”?
TD:  I think it was relevant to me to an extent because there was a lot of pressure on me to repeat the formula that had made “She Blinded Me with Science” successful.  In industry terms, the textbook thing to have done would have been to have trotted out another half-dozen quirky synth-pop hits with gimmicky videos and those people would have told me “Then, Thomas…you can gradually turn people around to your more personal intimate music.”  [laughs]  But I’m impatient.  I had a lot more depth in me and I wanted to jump right on to the more important stuff.  This didn’t sit too well with the industry.  There was friction there and it was ultimately disappointing, really, that the industry couldn’t get behind my more personal material especially when it turned out that, over the years, when the internet emerged and so on, you could get more feedback from the fans other than just record sales.  You could actually hear what they thought of one song or another and what they appreciated about your music and how they found out about it and so on.  Suddenly the internet enabled the audience to feed back to the creator and it turned out that – big surprise – songs that they were really into were not “She Blinded Me with Science” or “Hyperactive!”.  The songs that they were into were “Screen Kiss” and “Budapest by Blimp” and “I Love You, Goodbye” which are my favorite songs as well.  It was hard for me during the 80’s to persuade my record label that they should put some weight behind those and I partly have myself to blame for that because they’d seen me make a lot of money with “She Blinded Me with Science” and they felt “Well, why can’t you just do that?”

DP:  Was the inclusion of “Hyperactive!” on “Flat Earth” sort of fulfilling of that end of the bargain to an extent?  It certainly seemed to be a song that was out of place with the rest of the songs on that album.
TD:  You know, I don’t want to give you the impression that I despise the poppy side to what I do.  I mean, I like the spectrum of things that I do.  Even on the new album, something like “Toad Lickers” which is clearly a little bit tongue-in-cheek and a little ironic, is lot more frivolous than the more meaty material on the album.  So I do enjoy it.  There’s a side of my nature that wants to do those kinds of things as well as the other ones.  But I guess with a song like that there is a distraction.  It’s impossible for someone with a record label mentality or a radio mentality to see the wood for the trees, really.  You know, I’d go into my company’s office at the time of the “Flat Earth” album and they’d say “Oh, Thomas! You wouldn’t believe it!  All of the secretaries here are in love with ‘Screen Kiss’ and they’re all humming it and playing it and saying what a beautiful song it is!” and I’m going “Great!  Are we going to go with it as a single?”  “No…we’re looking for something more like ‘Hyperactive!’ or ‘She Blinded Me with Science’.”  So the good news is that these days you don’t have to be accountable like that to anybody else other than your audience.  As an example, the first song off of the new album that we promoted at all was “Oceanea” and there’s no beat to it.  It’s kind of radio catastrophe. [laughs]  But, at the same time, I’d seen the reaction of my audience to that song that it had the deepest affect on people.   And I thought “Well, you put your best foot forward”, you know? That’s what you go with.

DP:  For “Map of the Floating City”, did you put out a couple of songs, get the fan feedback and then say to yourself “Oh, I was going to go in this direction but this is an interesting idea, I think I’ll go in a different direction” or were the songs already in the can?  And to what extent does the interaction with your audience play into when you’re starting to write and compose songs?
TD:  I wouldn’t say that it affects me directly.  I think that I do it for a couple of reasons partly because I like the moral support that I get, both from the audience and the making of the music as well.  I feel that, rather than working in a void, there’s an active audience out there that’s ever eager to get a hold of my new material.  I tend to work on my own and just bring in other musicians for specific tasks so it’s not like there’s a core group of us that sit down every day to press on with the album.  So I miss that camaraderie but what I gain by having a tight loop with the audience is that I can sneak stuff out in a fairly stealthy way and get feedback from it.  Invariably they’re pleased with what I do, but every now and then something doesn’t get as good of a reaction as I had hoped and it sort of makes me go “Hmm…I wonder what they’re not seeing in this.”  So I think it definitely influences me but it doesn’t radically change the choices that I make in terms of the songs themselves and the way that they’re arranged and presented.  I’ll give you an example: on the original demo for the song “Oceanea”, I used a processing effect on the voice in the first verse which involved heavily compressing and filtering the vocal and keening certain syllables.  It’s kind of what AutoTune does in an automated way but I was sort of doing it manually. I did it that way specifically as an experiment because I thought that it gave it a certain vulnerability.  Because of that, I got some backlash from people that said “Eeewww…I hate AutoTune!  I’ve hated it ever since Cher!”

DP:  Well, I hate to say it Thomas, but I was one of those people.  I wrote a review of “Map of the Floating City” that you wound up commenting on specifically in regards to that track and AutoTune.
TD:  Oh, OK.  Well it doesn’t bother me that people have those reactions.  As you noticed, despite that, I didn’t change it.  I stuck to my guns on it and I’m still glad that I did.  I perform the song live now and I miss that effect, not just because I can’t sing it in tune [laughs] but because it has a certain innocence about it.  Unfortunately, it pushed the wrong buttons for some people because they have a built-in prejudice about AutoTune and the flavor that brings to music and, in my case, it was a very deliberate thing.

DP:  One of the things I pointed out in our online dialog was that, to me anyways, there seems to be a difference between the song “Oceanea” as released on the EP and then what followed on the “Map of the Floating City” album.  I listened to the two versions quite a few times and it certainly seemed to me that on the EP version, the effect fades out after the first verse and, after that, it’s pretty much devoid of any vocal effect whereas the version that appears on “Map” has it throughout.
TD:  Well, since that discussion with you, I haven’t gone back and listened to both but, to the best of my memory, it’s the exact same vocal in the first verse on the EP and on the album.  I don’t remember changing or altering it further.  It could be that the rest of the mix around it changes your perception of it, but I believe it’s basically the same vocal.

DP:  Over the course of your career, you’ve done a fair amount of work on film soundtracks such as “Gothic”, “Howard the Duck” and “The Gate to the Mind’s Eye”.  Is that something you could foresee doing more of in the future?
TD:  I would consider doing it in the future.  I had mixed results with it.  “Gothic” is slightly in the news at the moment because of Ken Russell dying the other day and because people are looking retrospectively at his work.  It turns out that “Gothic” was quite a popular one and a lot of people single out my score as being something unique about that film. I really enjoyed working one-on-one with him.  In the other cases, it was more of a committee decision, you know, and it’s a bit disappointing that as a composer on a movie, you’re kind of relatively genial on the totem pole.  You’re sort of down there with the lighting guys and things like that, so if something is required to change for the sake of the movie, there’s no question that the composer has to sort of swallow it.  This was quite hard for me because I put a lot of love in everything that I do and nothing I do is throw-away.  So if, for example, a scene is cut, and I lose a piece of music that took me days to come up with and it’s not going to get used in the movie and yet the studio owns the copyright and therefore I can’t use it anywhere else, that’s a bit disappointing.  But you’re expected to just sort of expect that because you’re part of a larger team.  So I think that the right situation for somebody like me in film is when you get to work with one of the few actual auteurs that are out there.  I think a good example is Danny Elfman and his work with Tim Burton where very early on they established a relationship and Tim Burton became valued for his the individuality of his films and the fact that he has a single-minded vision that Danny’s music definitely was a major component in.   He’s done great great work but I wish we all could have as cushy a ride on a movie.

DP:  You recently remastered and reissued “The Golden Age of Wireless” and “The Flat Earth” as expanded editions that really fleshed out those two works for those who had heard them when they were initially released and serve as a great introduction for those who only know “Science”.  Are any other items in your backcatalog slated to get a similar treatment?
TD:  Well, not really.  There’s not a lot of wastage in what I do so there’s very few outtakes and demos and things like that.  I’ve got something that I’m interested in reworking which is when I put together my band, the Lost Toy People, in ’87-ish we went out on tour before we ever went into the studio to make the “Aliens Ate My Buick” album.  We did some sort of basement tapes which were straight to two-track tape.  We were pretty hot at the time because we had been touring, so the songs had a certain rawness about them that I thought was really interesting.  I also have quite a lot of video footage of us on that tour.  I’m quite tempted to remaster those tapes and piece it together – although it would be a bit of a cheat to use visuals from the tour and those tapes – and create a lost LTP basement tape type of recording.

DP:  Throughout your career, you’ve been able to have a wide variety of high-profile musicians including the likes of Mark Knopfler, Jerry Garcia and Eddie Van Halen as session musicians on your albums.  Is there any one of them that you’ve most enjoyed working with?  And are there any out there that you’d like to work with at some point in the future?
TD:   Well, I love working with other musicians.  It’s interesting that very often with guitar, which is not my instrument, I’ll have a song and think of a certain guitarist and imagine how they’d fit right in.  Interestingly with both Jerry Garcia and Eddie Van Halen, when I first started working with them, they picked up their guitars and tried to sound like Thomas Dolby which is not what I wanted at all. [laughs]  I just wanted them to be themselves so I could see the way they could fit in with what I was doing.  I’d say the exception to that rule amongst the guitar heroes that I’ve worked with was Mark Knopfler who actually listened to the song very hard from start to finish and then picked up a guitar and played me take after take all of which were just gorgeous.  He just said “As long as you want to keep winding the tape back, I’m happy to give you another one.”  So I winded up with like 15 or 16 different takes and it was very hard to choose between them because each one was unique and different.  He never played the same thing twice and all of it seemed like a really good expression of the feeling of the song.

DP:  When you work with other musicians, do you bring them in and actually work with them in person or are they working remote with the raw mix that you’ve provided them with and they, in turn, send their track over to you?
TD:  With the three that we’ve discussed, I worked with them in person but for quite a few of the guests on the new album, I wasn’t there.  Imogen Heap just recorded some jaw harp for me and sent me over a sample.  Regina Spektor I met once only when she did the TED conference a couple of years ago.  I just sent her the tapes and suggestions for her lines in English and she translated them into Russian and just sent me back some recordings.  Ditto with Natalie MacMaster, the Cape Breton fiddle player that plays on the album.  Uh, with Ethel and with my horn section, I went and recorded them in person because there’s a lot of arranging that had to get done on the fly.

DP:  Now that “Map of the Floating City” has been released, are you planning on any sort of live tour to support it?
TD:  Yeah, we’re trying to put a tour together for the spring.  Sort including South by Southwest and Cochella.  Where are you?

DP:  I’m on the east coast, Connecticut specifically.
TD:  Right.  I think we’ll be coming through something like the end of March.

DP:  I saw you a few years back at BB King’s Blues Club in New York City when you played there and it was a great show.
TD:  Oh yes, I enjoyed that.  Was that with a horn section or just me?

DP:  Just you. Will the new tour be a solo one as well?
TD:  I’ll have a small band with me.  As soon as things are firmed up, I’ll be posting the tour information on my website.  I look forward to seeing you there.

DP:  And I certainly look forward to being there.  It’s been a pleasure talking with you, Thomas.
TD:  Thanks.  Same here.   See you soon, my friend.

  For more information about Thomas Dolby and upcoming tour information,
visit
www.thomasdolby.com