Animals As Leaders Announce “10 Year Anniversary” Tour Line Up

The Contortionist Special Guests On All Dates
Buke and Gase, Evan Marien & Dana Hawkins and Moon ToothTo Each Appear At Select Dates

‘Camping With Animals’ Music Masters Camp To Take Place in Big Indian, NY July 16 – 19 2019

Animals As Leaders have announced the full line up for their upcoming ’10 Year Anniversary Tour’ of the USA. The Contortionist will be main support on all dates and Buke and Gase,Evan Marien & Dana Hawkins and Moon Tooth will join as the opening act, each on select dates (full list of dates and supports below). The 18 date tour will kick off on May 1st in Tickets for the 10 Year Anniversary Tour are on sale now from\

For the last decade Animals As Leaders have risen to become celebrated heroes of their respective instruments. Tosin Abasi [guitar], Javier Reyes [guitar], and Matt Garstka [drums] have spent the last decade reimagining and reinventing instrumental prog, experimental metal, modern jazz and alternative creating complex, heavy and emotive musical landscapes to mass acclaim from fans and critics. Along the way, the trio has earned acclaim from the likes of Consequence of SoundRevolver,Ultimate Guitar, and Rolling Stone. 

Consistently delivering a captivating show, they have toured alongside Deftones,Between The Buried And Me and Periphery.
Animals As Leaders are also hosting their ‘Camping With Animals’ Music Masters Camp at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian in New York this July (16th-19th). An all-inclusive summer vacation masterclass program that offers instrument specific intensive masterclasses –  Guitar With Tosin Abasi Drums With Matt Garstka Guitar & Production With Javier Reyes as well as sessions such as ‘How to Use Technology for Self-Improvement, Writing and Recording’, exclusive performances from Animals As Leaders, special guests, group writing sessions and open panel discussions. Full information and tickets can be found at

ANIMALS AS LEADERS ’10TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR’W/ Special Guests The Contortionist

Wed May 01 – San Antonio, TX The Aztec Theater

*Thu May 02 – Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar & Grill

*Mon May 06 – Phoenix, AZ Marquee Theater

**Tue May 07 – Los Angeles, CA Mayan

**Wed May 08 – San Francisco, CA Regency Grand

**Fri May 10 – Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom

**Sat May 11 – Seattle, WA El Corazon

**Tue May 14 – Lawrence, KS Granada

*Wed May 15 – Minneapolis, MN Skyway

*Thu May 16 – Chicago, IL House of Blues

*Fri May 17 – Pittsburgh, PA Roxian Theatre

*Sat May 18 – Toronto, ON Opera House

***Sun May 19 – Philadelphia, PA TLA

***Mon May 20 – Boston, MA Paradise

***Tue May 21 – New York, NY Irving Plaza

***Thu May 23 – Atlanta, GA Masquerade

***Fri May 24 – Nashville, TN Cannery Ballroom

***Sat May 25 – Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall

* Buke and Gase ** Evan Marien & Dana Hawkins *** Moon Tooth

Film Review: “Eating Animals”

Starring: Natalie Portman
Directed by: Christopher Dillon Quinn
Rated: Unrated
Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins
IFC Films

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

After having reviewed movies for almost 20 years, it is a challenge to think of a work that has had more of a personal connection to yours truly than the new anti-factory farming documentary “Eating Animals,” with Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman providing its narration. For you see, even though I may be a mild-mannered film critic I have also been a family farmer my entire life, as has eight generations before me. “Eating Animals” doesn’t take aim on family farmers necessarily, but it most certainly shows what the effects of industrial farming has had on them since its skyrocketing growth beginning in the 1970s. The gross mistreatment of the animals we eat on our dinner plate is sickening to watch, but “Eating Animals” makes a valid point that it is nevertheless a dirty little secret everyone already knows yet chooses not to think about.

Director Christopher Dillon Quinn, who based his documentary on the 2009 novel of the same name by American author Jonathan Safran Foer, introduces us to a turkey farmer in Lindsborg, Kansas who is resorting to old practices of raising birds because of his disdain with genetically modified turkeys. Other farmers in the swine, dairy, beef, and fowl industries are also highlighted to demonstrate the difficulties they face trying to remain on their own. Quinn also examines the risks whistle blowers within the factory farm industry take when they try to shed light on the darkness. This latter point is punctuated with the enlightening and disturbing fact that several states have passed “Ag Gag” laws that essentially prohibit and punish whistle blowers.

Overall, there is nothing revolutionary about what “Eating Animals” has to say about family farms. It’s a tradition/business that has been vanishing at an alarming rate for a few decades now. Quinn wants to lay a lot of this at the feet of corporations like Tyson, who have indeed had a negative impact on farming communities that once thrived when small farmers cooperated with one another. Now the farmers who work under contract for a company like Tyson, according to “Eating Animals,” are prohibited from helping each other and are treated like indentured servants. However, there are many more factors that have led to the demise of family farming that is left out of Quinn’s documentary.

Farms were lost during the 1970s not simply because of the explosion of prepackaged frozen dinners, as the film implies was a part of the problem, but because interest rates rose so high during the latter part of the decade that some farmers went into bankruptcy thanks to the loans they took out on their land. Quinn also ignores the fact that because of the rising costs of land, equipment, and seed/feed, most young people cannot afford go into the business if they don’t inherit the land outright. (It’s no coincidence that the farmers he interviews are middle-aged men.) There’s also a lack of desire among increasing numbers of young people to put in the long hours that it requires 24/7, 365 to maintain a farm and make it successful. Not to mention that farming is one of the most dangerous jobs to have considering the equipment that’s used and what larger farm animals can do.

In a back-handed way, “Eating Animals” does slam farmers for the ones being responsible for the disappearance of a large, freshwater lake in California. No mention is made of the historic draught the Bear Flag Republic has endured over the past several years or the fact that without irrigation, crops and animals in many parts of that state could not thrive. Quinn’s effort also mentions animal feed laced with anti-biotics and how it has contributed to the rise of superbugs. Unfortunately for him this is not the case anymore as the use of antibiotics in feed was eliminated effective January 1, 2017. The real problem, and it’s not discussed enough, is the explosion in the world’s population over the past 50 years. The consequential soaring demand, in part manufactured by corporations like Tyson with clever marketing, is what has put extreme pressure on the farming industry and helped propel the rapid growth of factory or industrialized farming.

Quinn does a nice job of exploring some of the ecological consequences of the swine and fowl confinement houses in the Carolinas, and the horrific distortions of what nature had intended when it comes to the animals we eat. The images of animals being treated cruelly at these confinement houses is stomach churning to say the least and may very well turn some folks who watch this film into vegetarians. While “Eating Animals” is a solid documentary, it still fails to give this topic the thorough examination it requires and leaves out a lot of details it should have included.

Blu-ray Review “Nocturnal Animals”

Actors: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Directors: Tom Ford
Rated: R
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Run Time: 116 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Nocturnal Animals” is easily one of the worst films I saw in 2016. I was so damn bored watching this movie. The story was so interesting at first but after a little bit it just lost me and I was left waiting for a big payoff that might have not made me feel like I wasted two hours of my life…but it never came. Acting wise the film is a hit, Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are all outstanding and that is where the two stars came from in my rating. If you are a hardcore Tom Ford fan, you might enjoy but I am not and I didn’t. Hard pass on this one folks!

Official Premise: Susan (Amy Adams) is living through an unfulfilling marriage when she receives a package containing a novel manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The novel is dedicated to her but its content is violent and devastating. Susan cannot help but reminisce over her past love story with the author. Increasingly she interprets the book as a tale of revenge, a tale that forces her to re-evaluate the choices that she has made, and reawakens a love that she feared was lost.

Universal released “Nocturnal Animals” as a combo pack including Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy. The 1080p transfer looks solid. I did like the way the film was shot. It was very well done. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track works well with the score to build up suspense. The special features are a bit of a let down three-part featurette called “The Making of Nocturnal Animals” including the following “Building the Story,” “The Look of Nocturnal Animals,” and “The Filmmaker’s Eye: Tom Ford.” No commentary with the cast/crew or anything else included.

Product Review “VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset”

When you have a kid, it is very important for parents to buy them the right toys. You want toys that are going to challenge your kid and also teach them in the process. Enter VTech. They are responsible for tons of great learning products for kids. Their products are fun and yet just drive the kids to the next level and keep their minds thinking. Their latest product that I came across is the Go! Go! Smart Animals™ Zoo Explorers Playset. With this playset, you are able explore and learn about animals, colors and more.

There are SmartPoint locations for the rhino and this also recognizes other SmartPoint locations as well. This helps to teaches your child not only the respective animals name but also the colors and additional fun facts. Plus this is also able to be connected to other playsets including Go! Go! Smart Wheels, so it is expandable for your kids. I hope you have a big spot for it though because without being connected to other playsets it already takes up a nice chuck of space.

There are 80+ sing-along songs, melodies, short tunes, sounds and phrases. There are 13 track pieces, which can be put together in multiple configurations. In the week that we had had this, I have reconstructed it twice so far. So you are able to keep it fresh for your kids and they don’t get tired of the same thing. The playset comes with the rhino but there are a bunch of other animals you can purchase including a lion, monkey and zebra to expand this playset.

Parents if you are concerned about putting this big playset together, relax cause is very easy to do and because like I said it has different ways to be setup…you really can’t screw up too bad. I would have liked VTech to have listed a few different ways to setup since the box shows one way and the directions show another. I just winged it. My daughter still has not stopped playing with this playset and I have a feeling we are going to be adding on some of the other sets very soon.

Ian Somerhalder talks about his foundation and “The Vampire Diaries”

Ian Somerhalder is known best for his television roles on shows like “Lost” and “The Vampire Diaries”.  Ian also spends a lot of his time working with his foundation, Ian Somerhalder Foundation or ISF.  The foundation is participating Best Friends Animal Society’s annual Strut Your Mutt event at Park Sans Souci in Lafayette, Louisiana this year.  Media Mikes had a chance to ask Ian a few questions about his foundation and also about returning to season 4 of “The Vampire Diaries”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us what made your start your foundation, ISF, and how did you come up with the mission of promoting love and interconnectedness?
Ian Somerhalder: After witnessing the devastation of the Oil spill in the Gulf, I had find a way to utilize my voice to make a change. I was not alone. I witnessed the compassion from others, equally as grief stricken, unite in determination. People of all ages gathered together to make a difference. I soon realized the immediate need for a platform for these amazing people to come together to have their voices heard. This launched the IS Foundation. As we come together more and more from all ages and walks of life, we celebrate our shared passions as well as our differences. With an understanding of the ultimate interconnectedness of the universe, we emphasize the unique strengths in all the different voices that make up the ISF Family.

MG: Tell us about your participation in the Best Friends Animal Society’s annual Strut Your Mutt eventat Park Sans Souci in Lafayette, Louisiana?
IS: ISF has long been a fan and supporter of Best Friends Animal Society and their mission of “No More Homeless Pets”. As we developed the idea for our Animal Sanctuary, we were looking for opportunities to spread the word and raise funds for this ambitious project. The “Strut Your Mutt” event in my home state is a great opportunity to get out and do just that alongside some amazing people and animals. We hope you join us and participate in this fantastic event!

MG: How can people help that cannot attend the event?
IS: Understandably, not everyone will be able to attend. By spreading the work of ISF, especially our plans to build a sustainable animal sanctuary, you are still participating! We are tremendously grateful for donations from ISF family members who want to see this dream come true. If just 1,000 people donated $10 a month for a year, we could achieve our goal!

MG: How do find time to focus on your charity along with starring in the hit CW show “The Vampire Diaries”?
IS: Although it can appear overwhelming at times, it’s necessary. We all lead busy lives, but to see the changes we want for this world we have to make time to stay active with our ideas and continue to collaborate. We can’t do it alone. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish nearly as much as I do without the incredible ISF family. Together our voices weave a tapestry that serves as support for our array of initiatives. ISF has an amazing Executive Director, Kim Klingler, who brings a tremendous amount of passion and knowledge to the table. We are also fortunate to have talented and driven volunteers who commit countless hours contributing their time on projects, content for the website, event planning and much more.

MG: How is filming going so far for the upcoming 4th season?
IS: Great! Coming back for a new season is always reminiscent of the first day of school. The cast and crew are incredibly close, so rekindling bonds and positive energy encompasses the set. And from what we’ve seen so far, this season is bound to be excellent. Things are going to be very interesting for Damon…so I hope you stay tuned to see…

MG: What do you have planned next for ISF and where can people find out more information?
IS: ISF is currently working on several projects and initiatives. We are planning our very own Vampire Diaries Convention to be hosted in Canada early next year. We are also working on a youth development conference to held next year as well. To see information about any of our current projects like the Animal Sanctuary, you can visit and follow us on twitter and facebook.

DVD Review “Animals United”

Directed by: Reinhard Klooss, Holger Tappe
Starring: James Corden, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, Jim Broadbent and Vanessa Redgrave.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Arc Entertainment
Release Date: Exclusively at Walmart, April 3, 2012, Street on June 5th, 2012
Running time: 93 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

If you feel like you have never heard of this film, don’t worry you haven’t. “Animals United” is Germany’s first RealD 3D Animated Feature Film. Although this English language version does not come with the 3D. I think that this is a very poor decision because I have seen an high def 3D version of this film and it works much better. I feel like it is a mix between “Madagascar” and “Ice Age”, except doesn’t really come close to their charm. Of course let’s not forget this film is aimed at kids and as long as it comes packed with action and talking animals they will be happy.

The film is based on the 1949 book with the same title by Erich Kästner and takes place in the African savannah where all of the animals are looking for water. Billy the Meerkat and his best friend, Socrates the Lion set out in search of water. They get help from their friends Angie the Elephant and Giselle the Giraffe and set out on an incredible journey. Along their way they meet a motley group of animals that are new to Africa like a rooster, polar bear, kangaroo, koala, Tasmanian devil and two turtles. They all team up to find what happened to the water and to get it back.

The US release voice cast is impressive. James Corden (“The Three Musketeers”) plays Billy the Meerkat, the amazing Stephen Fry (“Alice in Wonderland”) voices Socrates the Lion, Jim Broadbent (“Harry Potter” series) plays Winston the Tortoise , Vanessa Redgrave (“Letters to Juliet”) plays Winnie the Tortoise and lastly Andy Serkis (“Lord of the Rings” series) voices Charles the Rooster. Also if you are looking for special features, guess again, this is a complete bare-bones release.

DVD Review “Betty White: Champion for Animals”

Directed by: Robert Kline
Starring: Betty White
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Distributed by: Image Entertainment
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Running Time: 89 minutes

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Alright, I know everyone thinks that Betty White is a national treasure but I don’t. Don’t get me wrong she is loveable and very entertaining, especially in her prime days. But I think recently she has been in the spotlight quite a bit, a little too much for me. To make it worse in the whole 90 minutes she is only it in maybe 10 minutes tops. It is mostly about animals and their conservation. It plays like a 90 minute infomercial.

Even though, I feel that Betty White is not my favorite, in this I think the best parts where when she shared her experiences about the animals and discusses her devotion to them. The rest of the film travels to national parks, zoos and aquariums without her just meeting different animals. It tries to teach about their conversation but just comes off as preachy and overall is barely watchable.

The release does not include any special features at all, not that I could honestly bare any more. I think that this could have actually succeeded if it was more like a travel program and we followed Betty from place to place and having her narrate the film. I believe this could have at least made this watchable. I won’t be able to get my 90 minutes back on this one. Instead I would suggest watching Discovery Channel and actually learn something.

DVD Review “Little Angels: Animals”

Directed by: Phil Lollar
Starring: Roma Downey
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 33 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This animated series is produced by Roma Downey, known best for playing the lead role in the TV series “Touched by an Angel” from 1994 to 2003. The show follows the adventures of preschool twins Alex and Zoe as they learn, laugh and play and accompanying them is are a group of animated guardian angels that assist them in guiding and teaching about life and God’s love. This is definitely a great tool for teaching basic lessons to your children and also Christian faith at the same time.

In “Animals”, the angels work with Alex and Zoe on spreading the message of “God Loves You”. The lessons are learned through stories like Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the Whale. This is aimed at the preschool audience and will definitely keep them entertained for the 30 minutes. What is also cool is that this DVD comes with a digital copy, so you can takes this stories with you on the go to keep your kids busy.

The DVD features three short stories, which can be viewed as a complete episode or as individual stories. The DVDs also include some decent special features. “Little Lessons with Roma Downey” talks about this series, what they have learned in the stories and gives tips for the parents to help their kids. There are fun sing-a-long music videos for the kids, including “Adam Gave Them Names”, “Noah Built An Ark”, “Jonah Was Fish Bait” and “Pomegranates, Penguins”. Lastly, there are downloadable activity sheets to continue the learning after watching the DVD.