Book Review: “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars” by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

“From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”
Author: Virginia Hanlon Grohl
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 204 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When Virginia Hanlon Grohl first saw her son perform in front of thousands of screaming fans she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. And as Virginia watched her son’s star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children’s fame? Did they worry about their children’s livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children’s passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour?

All those answers and more are contained in “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”. Over the course of the books 204 pages you get a unique behind the scenes look like never before. However not from the stars themselves but from their mothers! Yes that’s right their mothers. Along with author Hanlon Grohl own story of motherhood we hear from other moms including Verna Griffin (Dr. Dre), Janis Winehouse (Amy Winehouse), Hester Diamond (Mike D of the Beastie Boys) and Bettye Moses and Harriette Brown (mother & step mother of Zac Brown) as they recount the years before, during and after their sons and daughters became house hold names. I don’t recall a book like this ever being released which adds to the appeal because who is better to ask about those earlier childhood years than one’s own mom.

The candid firsthand accounts are what really kept me turning page after page. “From Cradle to Stage” is a fun, fast read unlike any biography I have come across before. While the book does a great job showcasing several mothers’ journeys its underlying story about the bond between parents and children is its greatest attribute. Not only is this a great read for parents but also for anyone looking for a different look at some of music’s biggest artists and the moms who impacted their lives.

CD Review: Dropkick Murphys “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”

“11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”
Dropkick Murphys
Born & Bred
Producer: Ted Hutt
Tracks: 11

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Everyone’s favorite Bostonian punk band Dropkick Murphys are back with a brand new studio album titled “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”. The album (the bands ninth) is being released via the groups own Born & Bred label and features 11 tracks which were produced by Grammy Award winning producer Ted Hutt.

With a four year lapse since the release of 2013’s “Signed and Sealed in Blood” fans of Dropkick Murphys have had a bit of a wait for new material however with the release of “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” DKM has made up for that lost time. The album opens up with a mostly instrumental track titled “The Lonesome Boatman”. The track which features gang like chanting serves as sort of a rallying call announcing the bands return. I found this to be a fitting way to open the album given the gap between this album and the last. As you make your way through the albums 11 tracks you get a spattering blend of traditional and non-traditional instrumentation mixed with vocalists Ken Casey and Al Barr’s signature Boston snarl. Tracks like the upbeat “Rebels with a Cause” and the rawkus “I Had a Hat” are classic DKM in their subject matter and approach while the 1945 Rogers and Hammerstein show tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is given a folk/punk makeover that is new and fresh while still paying homage to the original. Another track worth mentioning is the somber “4-15-13” which is the bands heart-felt tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” is everything fans of Dropkick Murphy’s have come to love about the band and their music. The only negative I really found was as the title suggests the album is a bit short. Clocking in at less than 40 minutes I seemed to be through all 11 tracks before I knew it, the upside is the albums diversity makes it easy to listen to multiple times through without it getting stale or redundant negating its short run time. No matter if you are a long time fan of the boys from Boston or a more casual listener the latest release from Dropkick Murphy’s surely has something you will enjoy.

Track Listing:
1.) The Lonesome Boatman
2.) Rebels with a Cause
3.) Blood
4.) Sandlot
5.) First Class Loser
6.) Paying My Way
7.) I Had a Hat
8.) Kicked to the Curb
9.) You’ll Never Walk Alone
10.) 4-15-13
11.) Until the Next Time

Vampire Stories That Are More Romantic Than Twilight

Vampires are one of the most iconic figures in the horror realm and whether they’re showing off their bloodsucking prowess on film, on TV or in literature they’ve always been the popular subject matter for many writers and filmmakers who are keen to show audiences their softer sides.

There has always been a certain alluring amorousness surrounding these vampiric figures and when fiction author Stephanie Meyer unleashed her ‘Twilight’ franchise onto the world we were introduced to a whole new level of undead loving.

But whilst fans of the series still mourn the absence of Edward and Bella in their lives you may be surprised to discover that there are still plenty of other romance-filled vampire experiences out there to have.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

This popular TV series has been the perfect alternative for lovelorn teenagers ever since the demise of the ‘Twilight’ saga.

The show is now in the middle of its 8th season and still going strong. There’s plenty of action and twists and turns throughout the series which has helped keep its characters interesting and flip-flopping each and every season. At the heart of the series is a trio of characters all mixed up in an enviable love triangle which includes two brothers who just happen to be vampires. The show itself is based on the popular series of books of the same name penned by L.J. Smith.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

This unique entry deals with love in a very different way and is an expertly crafted horror film where the characters and interactions are the key to the whole experience more so than the premise.

This beautiful and memorable romantic horror movie exported from Sweden has already had the US remake treatment however it’s the original that managed to expertly provide a special story of childhood romance blossoming between a young boy named Oskar and his strange nocturnal neighbour who turns out to be a bloodsucker.

THIRST

This South Korean offering revolves around a Catholic priest who ends up turning into a vampire following a failed medical experiment when a potential procedure to help eradicate a known virus results in the priest receiving a transfusion of vampire blood.

There’s plenty of passion and lust on show here and it’s cleverly weaved in around the themes of vampirism. It features a love triangle between the main characters and sticks with you long after the credits roll.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

Whilst fictional vampires were the perfect fodder years back in order to scare audiences they have very much become a once classic Hollywood type monster that has gone through a number of significant changes over the years.

Now even games such as Immortal Romance are being influenced by these monsters newly found romantic side. But even back in 1997 there were even complicated romantic entanglements occurring around vampires on the small screen.

In Joss Whedon’s highly influential supernatural drama series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ there was plenty of loving, especially with so much teenage angst and hormones thrown into the mix.

So when a vampire slayer falls in love with a vampire there’s bound to be plenty of moral issues raised. With such a mixed relationship things obviously don’t run as smoothly as they would hope but we won’t spoil it for you. Buffy however is a great choice for those looking to tackle a weekend of box sets.

 

DVD Review “Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories”

Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories DVD
Street Date: June 7, 2016
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Total Run Time: 66 minutes

DVD Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Growing up in the 80’s and having a younger sister, there was no shortage of “Strawberry Shortcake” in our home. 30 years later and it is still extremely relevant and going strong. “Campberry Stories” is the latest DVD release in the series of episodes from this TV series. I  have to admit, this show honestly keep my attention when my daughter watches it. It is cute, funny and very colorful. So out of all the kids shows that I am “forced” to watch, this one is definitely one of easier ones to get through. Any fan of the series will want to pick up this latest collection of themed episodes.

Official Premise: It’s time for tall tales and small kindnesses in this berrytastic animated trio. Strawberry Shortcake and her pals are on their annual campout in Very Beautiful Meadow when they decide to see who can tell the most OUTRAGEOUS story. Plum, Cherry and Orange get things started with different made-up reasons to explain why they’re late to the party. Sour tells everyone an imagined adventure involving her and her sister, Sweet. And Apple tells the campers about a thrilling cross-country race… only she insists it really happened. It’s going to be a berry difficult decision to choose the best tale!

Fox has been putting out these DVDs in this series quite regularly. They are only on DVD, not Blu-ray but come with a bonus Digital HD copy, which is great to be able to stream on the road. The format for the DVD is Widescreen 1.78:1 and the audio tracks included are English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Surround Dolby Digital 2.0. There are some decent special features as well for the kiddos including “Exclusive Berry Sweet MASH UP videos”; “Meet Strawberry Shortcake & Friends”; “Best of Sweet Sunshine Adventures” and lastly some fun printable coloring pages and activity sheets to enjoy outside of the DVD as well.

Book Review: NOFX: “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”

NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”
Author: NOFX w/ Jeff Alulis
Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 368 pages

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

NOFX has been called one of the worlds most influential and controversial punk bands, but its full story has never truly been told until now. The band has sold over 8 million records, toured six continents and founded one of the most successful indie labels in the world. Together with writer/filmmaker Jeff Alulis “NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories” takes a look back on more than three decades of completely inexplicable success told directly from those who lived it providing a close-up look at the punk-rock music genre and the punk-rock life.

Growing up as a skateboarding, punk rock music fan of late the late eighties and nineties I was extremely anxious to get a hold of this book. Written much like Motley Crue’s famous/infamous tell all “The Dirt” “NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories” is a similar tale of debauchery minus the excess and stereotypical “Rock n Roll” life. Instead you get an in-depth look at the seedier underbelly of rock n’ roll bastard step son know as Punk Rock. Over the course of the books 368 pages band members from past and present tell their tales of trial and tribulations while wading through a cesspool of filth consisting of drugs, murder, suicide and the occasional S&M occurrence. After reading some of these stories it’s a complete miracle that the band is around to tell these let alone have enough memory to recount the tales so vividly and in such detail. Bassist “Fat Mike” Burkett, Guitarist Erik Melvin, Drummer Erik “Smelly” Sandin and Guitarist Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta along with a list of other notables keep your attention page after page making this book damn near impossible to put down. Spread out amongst the tales of punk rock madness are tons of rare photos and show fliers from all stages of the bands career which only seem to add to the books over all appeal.

“NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories” is definitely not for the faint of heart. The book and its writers pull no punches as they are both candid and real as they can be in this mesmerizing tale of the true punk rock life. Even if you have never heard of the band NOFX or its members do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this book!

Also be sure to check out our exclusive interview with Fat Mike in the interview portion of the site.

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!

Book Review “Disney Fairies: Bedtime Fairy Stories: A Treasury”

Author: Celeste Sisler
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Series: Disney Fairies
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: LB Kids
Release Date: October 7, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Tinker Bell has always been a favorite character from “Peter Pan” but she has recently developed into one of Disney’s biggest character within the Disney Fairies series. Having a two year old, I have become a big fan myself of the Disney Fairies, especially the movies. “Disney Fairies: Bedtime Fairy Stories: A Treasury” is a great collection of nine bedtime stories for my little tinker Bella (my daughters name). A must have for sure!

Official Premise: The fairies of Pixie Hollow are always busy flittering about. They have mysteries to solve, animals to care for, and a responsibility to help one another. But the fairies also know how to have fun together! They go on great fairy campouts, search for the perfect pumpkin, and paint beautiful pictures. This bedtime treasury includes nine soothing stories sure to put every fairy to sleep.

The illustrations are very colorful and vibrant. I have read some bedtime stories that are a bit too exciting to really be considered bedtime stories since it rallies the kids up. This collection really has some enjoyable stories but my daughter loves to point out each of the characters’ names and what is going on in the stories. So I have really enjoyed reading this to her at night. I hope that LB Kids have future volumes planned.

Book Review “Disney 5-Minute Spooky Stories”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: 5-Minute Stories
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: July 22, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Halloween is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate with your young kids than with kid friendly spooky stories with their favorite Disney characters. This is not Disney’s first time around with the % Minute Stories as recently they have released “5-Minute Marvel Stories”, “5-Minute Princess Stories”; “5-Minute Snuggle Stories” and “5-Minute Disney*Pixar Stories”. These are a great fun for the kids and listen up parents, they are great for bedtime. I probably wouldn’t recommend the spooky stories before bedtime but these are still great fun and original stories from our favorite character like “Wreck-It Ralph”, “Tangled” and “Sleeping Beauty”.

Official Premise: The perfect treat for Halloween, this treasury of spooky stories is packed with thrilling adventures. Beloved favorites like Mickey Mouse and Peter Pan as well as popular new characters from the latest Disney films, including Wreck-It Ralph and Rapunzel, encounter everything from ghosts to haunted houses! With twelve scary stories, a padded cover, and fun illustrations on every page, this collection is a great gift for boys and girls. Plus, each of these spooktacular stories can be enjoyed in just five minutes, making it perfect for bedtime, on the go, or anytime!

DVD Review "Beatles Stories"

Actors: Seth Swirsky, Henry Winkler, Jon Voight, Smokey Robinson, Sir Ben Kingsley
Directors: Seth Swirsky
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Cinema Libre Studio
DVD Release Date: October 2, 2012
Run Time: 85 minutes

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

I like the idea of stories.  I am a big storyteller myself.  I like how Seth Swirsky has taken his love for The Beatles and really delivers a fun…yet also informative film here.  “Beatles Stories” is nice and tight documentary with a lot of great input from a lot of people who have known and been inspired by the music of The Beatles. This is not just a re-hash of already known stories, Seth really went out of his way to deliver new and very interesting stories from these people.  When I think of The Beatles, I want to hear the music.  So of course I was hoping to hear more Beatles tunes throughout but I understand the cost of that.  So being a big Beatles fans since I was little child, I really enjoyed this and highly recommend this.

Seth Swirsky is one of the ultimate fans of The Beatles.  He grew up in Long Island, NY (as did I) loving every aspect of The Beatles (also as I did). Seth sets out on a road trip gathering stories from many known people from Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir George Martin, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, Henry Winkler snd Beatles engineer Norman Smith. As well as people who were involved with The Beatles, Seth also dives into his other musical favorites like Smokey Robinson, Graham Nash and Davy Jones and then relates then back to The Beatles. It is a very personal project and even though it is independent and a little choppy in parts.  You can feel that it is just a real labour of love.

The special features included are quite impressive for this independent release. There is 30 minutes of additional interviews or “stories” as they are called. The film alone runs 85 minutes, so the additional time is welcomed. There is an extended interview with The Beatles’ first recording engineer Norman Smith, which is highly recommended. Lastly there is a commentary track from the director Seth Swirsky, which is good if you enjoyed the film and looking for more. For a documentary overall, I am very impressed with these extras and this is a must for all Beatles fans!

Blu-ray Review “DreamWorks Spooky Stories”

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers, Hugh Laurie, Reese Witherspoon, Antonio Banderas, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett
Directors: Raman Hui, Gary Trousdale
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Dreamworks Video
DVD Release Date: August 28, 2012
Run Time: 102 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“DreamWorks Spooky Stories” arrives just in time to celebration Halloween.  This release features six shorts and included two new season’s themed specials from “Shrek” and “Monsters vs. Aliens” series.  In “Shrek’s Thrilling Tales”, we get three tales including “Shrek: The Ghost of Lord Farquaad” and the new shorts “Shrek: The Pig Who Cried Wolf” and and “Monsters vs. Aliens: Night of the Living Carrots”, There is also more Shrek goodness in “Scared Shrekless”.  “Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” is last but not least. This is a great collection for kids to get in the mood for Halloween with their favorite Dreamworks characters.

“Shrek’s Thrilling Tales”: Join Shrek, Donkey, Puss and B.O.B as they get the fright of their lives in three spooktacular stories that will keep you howling with laughter. This Shrektastic Halloween treat includes The Pig Who Cried Werewolf, Night of the Living Carrots and The Ghost of Lord Farquaad.

“Scared Shrekless”: Halloween is Shrek’s favorite holiday – but instead of the usual tricks or treats, Shrek ups the ante and challenges the gang to spend the night telling scary stories. The last one to be Scared Shrekless wins. And don’t miss the Shreked-out parody of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

“Monsters Vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space”: The gang is back as special operatives dispatched to investigate a mysterious alien presence on Halloween. As the night unravels the innocent-looking pumpkins are revealed for what they really are – mutant aliens! Luckily the Monsters are there to smash the mutants’ wicked scheme to take over Earth.

The Blu-ray presentation on this release is extremely impressive. Each special is presented in 1080p high definition and looks fantastic. I am even more impressive though with the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track included on the special except “Mutant vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” & “Shrek: The Ghost of Lord Farquaad”, which have Dolby True HD 5.1.  They all sound really fantastic and gave my surround sound a nice workout. There is not much additional extras included here though.  There is an optional pop-ups on “Night of the Living Carrots”. The World of DreamWorks Animation featuring previews and a few music videos. Still this is worth the purchase to get ready for the holiday season!

“George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories- Volume 2” DVD Giveaway [ENDED]

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To celebrate the release of “George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories- Volume 2”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 5 COPIES of the DVD. If you would like to win one of these prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite favorite Romero film. This giveaway will be open until Monday October 3rd at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Millennium Entertainment proudly announces the DVD release of “George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories- Volume 2”. The second volume of this two-volume set from horror master Romero consists of an anthology of three 30-minute nail-biting horror films from writer Jeff Monahan (Lone Star), who also directs alongside Michael Fischa, Matt Walsh and Marty Schiff.

George A. Romero, writer-director of the famed NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, has created this horror anthology containing the following three short horror films:

· THE GORGE: Three best friends go hiking on a fun morning expedition when a sudden avalanche leaves them trapped in a cave with no way out. Now imprisoned in a living nightmare, how long can the three survive before they begin to turn on each other?

· ON SABBATH HILL: A chilling tale about a handsome playboy professor who is a stickler for student attendance. When his wandering affections cause a female admirer to commit suicide, his stern attendance rules come back to haunt him. Literally.

· DUST: When a scientist at a high-tech space lab discovers dust from the planet Mars might have the ability to cure cancer, a security guard steals a sample for his terminally ill wife. What at first appears to be a miracle cure turns into an unimaginable horror.

DVD Review “George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories- Volume 2”

Directors: Jeff Monahan, Matt Walsh
Starring: George A. Romero
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
MPAA Rated: R
Run Time: 101 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

If you read my review for Volume 1 of this release then you would know that 2.5/5 is a RAVING review compared. I still am confused as to why George A. Romero decided to put his name on these films since they are not B movies and are lower than even Syfy originals (which I LOVE BTW). The acting and production value are so weak overall. Luckily the first two films in this series are good and really gory. The last one is lame but watchable.

The first film is called “THE GORGE”. It is about three best friends that go hiking but an avalanche trapped in a cave and resort to cannibalism. The second is called “ON SABBATH HILL” about a professor relationship with his student causes her to commit suicide, but still comes to class to haunt him. The last one is my least favorite “DUST” about a scientist that discovers dust from Mars that the ability to cure cancer but a security guard steals it for terminally ill wife and of course things go array.

Luckily this collection of horror films does not skimp on the gore. It is actually pretty intense especially in the first film. Since this is a zero budget project even though it shows it this is a major improvement from Volume 1’s films which I could barely even finish. Overall worth a watch but definitely not “Tales from the Crypt” quality.