Book Review: “A Long Time Ago In a Cutting Room Far, Far Away”

  • A LONG TIME AGO IN A CUTTING ROOM FAR, FAR AWAY
  • Author:  Paul Hirsch
  • Hardcover
  • 384 pages
  • Published by Chicago Review Press Fo

A few years ago I had the pleasure of hosting a test screening for director John Hancock’s film, “The Looking Glass.”  After the film, as I drove John, his wife Dorothy Tristan (the film’s star and co-writer) and film editor Dennis O’Connor back to their hotel, I was amazed by the conversation between the director and editor.  They discussed certain scenes in the film, curious whether they had gone a beat too long or perhaps not long enough.  What impressed me the most was that even the suggestion of removing ONE FRAME of film – 1/24th of a second – could have a true impact in how the film was presented.

Armed with this very limited knowledge, I was eager to read the new book “A Long Time Ago In a Cutting Room Far, Far Away,” written by Academy Award winning film editor Paul Hirsch.  Where to begin?

The book is a rare inside glimpse into the careers, and minds, of three of the most acclaimed filmmakers of their time:  Brian De Palma, George Lucas and John Hughes. 

Mr. Hirsch got his start with De Palma, editing the director’s first five features, including “Phantom of the Paradise,” “Obsession” and “Carrie.”  It is while editing “Carrie” that he is shown photographs from a currently-in-production space opera called “Star Wars.”  Impressed with what he’s seen, Mr. Hirsch secretly wishes he could work on “Star Wars.”  His wish is granted when Lucas invites him to help edit the film alongside co-editors Marcia Lucas (George’s wife) and Richard Chew.  Soon Mr. Hirsch realizes it’s just him on the project and his stories about the finalization of the film, right down to the color of Darth Vader’s light sabre, are amazing. For his work on “Star Wars,” Mr. Hirsch, Mr. Chew and Ms. Lucas were awarded the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.

The book is written in a very simple style.  Not a lot of technical jargon, just great stories told to you as if Mr. Hirsch was sharing them over dinner.  There are many chapters devoted solely to one film, including “Carrie” (we learn about De Palma’s love for the split-screen), “Star Wars,” “The Fury,” “Blow Out,” “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Ray” and so many more.  A veritable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to revisit some of the most popular and influential films of the past four decades.

If you’ve always wondered about how a film is put together, or just want to learn some behind the scenes secrets of your favorite films, then this is the book for you!  You can order “A Long Time Ago In a Cutting Room Far, Far Away,” which will be released on November 5th, by clicking HERE.   

Book Review: “A Professor’s Guide to Writing Essays: The No-Nonsense Plan for Better Writing” by Dr. Jacob Neumann

Many students feel too overwhelmed with their curriculum to do any additional reading. It’s understandable as they have millions of tasks that need urgent focus, so fiction and non-fiction genres are left in their past, freer life — as long as they aren’t assigned them in college or uni. This trend is depressing since reading is essential in many ways, from cognitive to social. Researchers from Psychology Today Schwanenflugel and Knapp confirm that reading improves brain function and helps in studies. Interestingly, it might happen both directly and indirectly.

 “A Professor’s Guide to Writing Essays: The No-Nonsense Plan for Better Writing”written by DoctorNeumann is a non-fiction book with the power to bring benefits in two ways at once. First, it’s deeply engaging and stimulating. Second, it’s essential for studies because regardless of whether you are still in high school or if you’re tackling complex uni challenges, writing essays is a task that will follow you everywhere. Knowing how to do it will save you tons of time.

The Content of Neumann’s Book and What Makes It Stand Out

DoctorNeumann has worked as a professor in many areas and on different educational levels. He’s seen the struggles his students face with crafting their essays personally, and it encouraged him to write a book that would help them improve their writing. So, Neumann’s book explores the concept of academic essays and provides useful tips on how to structure ad compose them. He raises such topics as the creation of helpful outline, effective introduction, strong thesis, and logical paragraphs. Neumann also explains how to avoid plagiarism, which is essential since unless your paper is 100% unique, you risk facing a disciplinary hearing and even suspension. This way, his book presents a complex of suggestions aimed at facilitating your writing.   

But what makes this book special? Neumann discards the idea of each essay type differing from one another. Instead, he promotes the idea that writing principles stay the same in all cases, claiming that if you get a grasp on them once, you’ll be able to apply them over and over again.  He uses practical demonstrations and builds excellent and relevant associations that stay in the memory of his readers for a long time. For example, when explaining transitions and their role in the structuring of the paragraphs, Neumann draws the comparison with road signs. Such vivid examples help demonstrate the rules much better than long theoretical explanations.

The Audience Neumann’s Book Targets

Published in 2016, Neumann’s book has quickly gained popularity because of how relevant and useful its central topic is to different groups of people. Since it revolves around academic writing, all people involved in this sphere can benefit from reading it. There are four specific groups that can be seen as its target audience.

·         The youth. Young people of all ages study in schools, colleges, or universities, and all of them have to inevitably write essays. Nearly all of them face problems on their way to a good grade, so Neumann’s book is perfect for them. They’re the primary audience since it’s students who inspired the author to write his guide.    

·         Professors. Teachers are also an important audience since they might grow frustrated with having to explain the rules of writing to their classes repeatedly. With Neumann’s book, they have a chance to save their time and make explanations rich and on-point. 

·         Academic writing professionals. The area of academic writing is fast, and many specialists are joining it daily to help students with their tasks. Some essay structure nuances might be a novelty to them, which is why Neumann’s book is a recommended reading in such places. To understand the rules intimately, people working for admission essay writing service from EduBirdie all read this book thoroughly before they start working. This helps them avoid mistakes and achieve the best results for their clients.   

·         Adults entering the education sphere. Many adults who didn’t have a chance to graduate go back to school or get jobs where knowing how to write academically is essential. Neumann’s book targets them as well. It’s written in a way that will be engaging to people regardless of their age, so they will all find it worth their time. 

The Best Kind of Books: Easy and Beneficial Reading

Best books don’t underwhelm you — they stimulate and relax you at the same time, capturing your interest and teaching you something useful. “A Professor’s Guide to Writing Essays: The No-Nonsense Plan for Better Writing”by Neumann is a great example of such books. Dunn from Psychology Today mentioned how academic writing doesn’t have to be boring or stuffy, and Neumann has met this particular goal brilliantly. If you wonder how to cope with your essay tasks, just give it a try. It’s short but extremely illustrative.

Biography

Robert is a writer from Edubirdie who unwaveringly stays in touch with the modern content market. He understands the reasons underlying the popularity of books or research and the uniqueness of their creation. The world of literature is diverse, and Robert strives to make it brighter by adding his own contributions to it.  

Oscar Winning Film Editor Paul Hirsch Talks About His Career and His New Book

Oscar winning film editor Paul Hirsch has been fortunate in that he has worked numerous times with two of Hollywood’s best known filmmakers, Brian DePalma and John Hughes.  He also won an Academy Award for his work (along with Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew) on one of the most popular films of all time, “Star Wars.”  With a book highlighting his career about to be released, Mr. Hirsch took the time to answer some questions about his lengthy career.

 

MIKE SMITH:  What drew you to become a film editor?

 

PAUL HIRSCH:  A number of things.  I was fascinated when I first saw a Moviola.  I was blown away by a festival of Orson Welles films.  I liked working with my hands, and was drawn to the tools.  I loved movies.

 

MS:  Other film editors I’ve interviewed had mentors they admired.  I recently spoke with Arthur Schmidt and he told me that he learned under Dede Allen and Neil Travis.  Did you have someone whose work you admired and/or who took you under their wing?

 

PH:  Brian DePalma was my mentor.  He encouraged me, empowered me, validated my work and deeply influenced me.  I was cutting his films from the age of 23, and so never worked under a professional feature film editor.  I learned by doing and studying how films I admired were cut.  I was sort of like the art students you see in museums, copying the masters.

 

MS:   How did you come to edit “Hi Mom” for Brian DePalma?

 

I had cut the trailer for “Greetings,” thanks to my brother.  When they got the money to do a sequel, titled “Son of Greetings,” Brian hired me to cut it.

 

MS:   Five or your first six films were with DePalma.  He is well known – and often criticized – for his use of split-screen (the prom from “Carrie” being a great example).  Was that something you discussed in the editing room or was that his original vision?

An example of the split screen process used in “Carrie”

PH:  Split screen is Brian’s thing.  I can’t take credit for it, but I do love and appreciate the tension that can result from juxtaposing images on the screen, even if, or rather, especially if, the screen isn’t actually split.  I’m referring to deep focus shots, which have become a lost art, where you have a near object on one side, and a distant one on the other.  Brian did that a lot, using split diopters, with tremendous success.

 

MS:   A lot of the young filmmakers in the 70s (DePalma, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas) were very close with each other.  Is that how you were hired for “Star Wars?”

 

PH:  Yes.  Brian screened the final cut of “Carrie” for George and Marcia Lucas on their return from principal photography on”Star Wars” in England.  They needed help, and turned to me.

 

MS:  How difficult was it editing a film where you sometimes had to wait months for a finished special effects shot?

 

PH:  We had ways around that.  We would cut in place-holders or a piece of leader that we estimated was the right length.

 

MS:  You, along with Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew, received the Academy Award for your work on “Star Wars.”  Where do you keep your Oscar?

Richard Chew, Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch hoist their Oscars with presenter Farrah Fawcett

PH:  It’s on a bookshelf in my office.

 

MS:  You’ve done eleven films with DePalma but, surprisingly, not ‘The Untouchables.”  Was there a reason you didn’t cut that picture?

 

PH: I moved to the West Coast after “Blow Out.”  I didn’t cut a picture for Brian in the ensuing ten years.  We next worked together on “Raising Cain,” when he was living in California.

 

MS:  You also worked a lot with John Hughes.  How was he to work with and were there any major differences in the way he and DePalma approached a film?

 

PH:  John was a lot of fun to work with until he wasn’t.  He was a brilliant artist, but had mercurial moods.  But I had a great time working with him.  John was a writer, primarily, and his medium was words, by and large. Brian is a great visualist.  His ideas are primarily graphic, both in terms of camera movement, which no one does better, and in terms of visual story-telling, that is to say, how scenes can be constructed in the editing room.

 

MS:   Hal Ashby was a great film editor who went on to become a fine director.  Have you ever wanted to direct?

 

PH:  I did want to for a while, and then the fever broke.  I like working all the time, and editing afforded me that.  To me, directing was like perpetually running for office.  I’m more of an introvert, and editing suits me just fine.

 

MS:   Your most recent film was the Tom Cruise version of “The Mummy.”  What is the biggest difference between cutting a film now and forty-plus years ago?

 

PH:  There’s a lot more reliance on vfx now, which consumes a lot of time and energy.  And when I started out, directors were given much more discretion.  The director was the key creative figure in the package, often with final cut.  That happens less these days.  If a director had a hit back then, the studio would ask, “What do you want to do next?”  Today, the projects are developed by the studio, and the director is “cast” the same way you would choose an actor for a role.  Producers and studio executives are much more involved in the editing process these days.

 

MS:  What can you tell us about your new book?

Mr. Hirsch’s book will be released on November 1st and is currently available to order now on Amazon.com and other sites.

PH:  It’s an account of my adventures in Movie-land, my experiences of the last fifty years and what I learned during that time.  I write about the various projects I worked on, and the fascinating people I encountered.  I share some of the insights I picked up along the way as I made my way into the industry.  It’s not a how-to book, which I consider boring.  And it’s not a gossipy tell-all where I get revenge on the jerks I met along the way, which really weren’t that many when I think about it.  The people I got along with are much more interesting.  I meant it to be entertaining above all.  I hope people will read it for pleasure. I’ve had a number of friends read it.  Editors in particular seem to like it, but I think anyone who is curious about what goes on behind the scenes in our business will find it fun to read.

 

MS:  Are you working on anything new?

 

PH:  I’ve been working on the book for many years, first writing it, and then editing it.  I only just recently finished going over the page proofs.  I’m going to take my time now, reading scripts, and will see if anything pings my interest.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Author Matt Brady talks about his new book “The Science of Rick and Morty”

Matt Brady is a high school science teacher and pop culture writer based in North Carolina. Prior to working in education, Brady co-founded and was editor-in-chief of Newsarama, which received the first Eisner Award for Best Comics-related Journalism. Brady is also the founder of The Science Of…, a website that uses pop culture to help us better understand science. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Matt about his new book “The Science of Rick and Morty”.

Mike Gencarelli: When did you first encounter Cartoon Network’s Rick and Morty and why did it spark your interest?
Matt Brady: I think I found it like a lot of its audience – through the word of mouth of the internet – memes, clips and jokes. I got into it shortly after season 1 had wrapped so I inhaled that, and was waiting and then watching along with everyone else for season 2 and 3.

I dug it from the start due to the characters. I guess it’s probably not the best thing to say that every now and then, Rick would have a line or a comeback I wish I had – or rather, could – use with someone, and I love it. The dynamic between all the characters was something new, and went in directions that I hadn’t seen before – which made it even better.

The science was honestly, at the start, gravy. I really liked the call outs and the references to larger concepts with scientific footing, but yeah – it was the characters that hooked me, and the science that helped to keep me.

MG: Being a high school science teacher, tell us how and why you use pop culture, like Rick and Morty, in your classroom?
MB: After I left Newsarama.com ten years or so ago, I went straight into teaching at a Title 1 high school. “Title 1” has nothing to do with athletics or honestly, anything that…braggy. It’s just a classification that schools are in when a set percentage of their students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In simpler words, it’s an index of poverty.

So there I was, a middle-aged white dude in a class of minority students who were giving me nothing but the side-eye. I figured out fast that I needed some kind of middle ground where we could all meet, and that was pop culture. I was still steeped in it, so I tried it out with my students…I think my first foray was a Flash problem set about velocity. Looking back on it, it was pretty rough, but hey – there was a sheet with a picture of The Flash on it, and some science stuff that they recognized.

Using pop culture helps to engage my kids with the material, and gives them a sense of “ownership” – they feel that they, in a way, “own” say, the CW’s Flash or Arrow (at that time, they were huge with my kids), so their attraction would pull them along. Moving on, I found The Fast and the Furious, Deadpool, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and loads more references that helped to engage my kids.

I mean, when you think about it – pop culture has no native language…it’s just cool. With some judicious picking of samples that are appropriate for your students and aligned to the science standard you’re teaching, you can have kids eating out of your hand. And on top of that, my kids started seeing me as a person, rather than “that white guy,” or just a “teacher,” something just a little bit better than a robot.

Bringing pop culture in was and has been one of the most rewarding things about teaching in my career to date.

MG: Which of Rick’s experiments were you most shocked about being able to becoming a reality?
MB: Easy – altering memories. Memories are largely structure – the connections between various neurons in the brain that make a pathway. Once that pathway is laid down, you’ve got a memory. Want to remember something? That pathway lights up again, either directly “p comes before t in the alphabet,” or indirectly like when you have to sing the alphabet song to find that piece of information. You’re coming in a side door to that particular memory.

But – the thing is, when those memories are being recalled – remembered – they’re vulnerable. They’re open to re-forming their pathways if you repeat the information that made them, but those pathways can re-form in different ways if new information is added in or swapped out for some of the original information. Do it subtly enough, and you can change people’s memories. I mean – not like to the point you’re remembering Hamurai or Cousin Nick who’ve always been around and part of the family, but in pretty insidious ways.

There’s evidence that some “repressed” memories that have put people in jail were memories that had been altered – innocently – by therapists in this fashion. Also, there was a study that was being conducted where the researchers were testing their ability to change the long-held memories of people, and they did it so well, they had to cancel the study, and assure the subjects that their original memories, which they were now questioning, were in fact, real.

It’s fun stuff when it shows up on Rick and Morty, but in real life…yikes.

MG: What do you think makes this show so popular?
MB: The characters and their relationships. They’re so rich, and have grown over the three seasons, and we still have no idea how much deeper they go.

Don’t get me wrong – the science is great, but if the characters weren’t who they are, no one would even tune in to hear about “concentrated dark matter” or uplifting Snowflake into a hyper-intelligent dog.

This show has such an expansive and complicated universe surrounding it. Did you ever this you would be discussing turning yourself into a pickle in the same sentence as dark matter and energy and intelligence hacking?

Well, honestly there were some things I did skip that were just waaaay too out there to consider – like turning yourself into a pickle. But yeah – dark matter and intelligence hacking are in there.

But all in all, I never thought I would end up covering such a wide swath of science, no. But that’s the show for you – anything’s possible, and whenever they can, Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon and the writers like to tag some real science mention to it that gives fans a hint of the real deal that gave the idea in the show its inspiration.

MG: What was your biggest challenge in writing The Science of Rick and Morty?
MB: Leaving stuff behind was one. You mentioned turning into a pickle. Given enough time, I could’ve probably finished thinking of a way to throw some science at it…maybe he placed just a replica of his brain in there, and then…hmmm…

Also – just getting what I got in there in the first place. A lot of the science in the show that I did pull into the book is at the fringes of what we think we might…someday be able to do with it, but that meant going to those fringes, talking to researchers there and turning what they said and what I read into something I could wrap my head around. There were days, after talking to some folks that literally felt like I was stoned, and maybe started to question reality a little too much.

MG: You are the founder of TheScienceOf.org website. How did your idea for the site come about and what can readers learn from the site?
MB: The site is something that my wife and I started (she’s a science teacher too) when we realized that we could use it to reach other teachers who wanted to use methods similar to what we do, and also as a place where I could just write about pop culture meeting science. In all the articles there, I’m always careful to approach the subject so as not to rain on anyone’s parade. I’m not interested in telling people that Superman can’t fly, or Iron Man’s suit is impossible. That’s just not cool.

I want the science in pop culture to do for others what it did for me – inspire. I’m old enough to have watched Star Trek after school when I was young, and – along with a lot of other folks who went on to NASA, JPL and a lot of other places, dreamed about a world where communicators were real things, and we could visit other planets. I firmly believe that we imagine our collective future, and science fiction and pop culture is one of our most important guides. Why would I ever want to throw the door closed on someone who’s thinking that a world with Iron Man suits would be really cool, and is starting to play with their school’s 3D printer and some cardboard, along with some circuit boards and LEDs? I want that kid to build that suit, not have a dream crushed because someone smacked their hero with science. So yeah – please come on by and check out some of the articles. It’s not updated as frequently as I’d like, but hey…that classroom keeps me pretty busy, too.

MG: What can we expect next from you?
MB: More on the site – I hope…and hopefully, another book. Still working out some details now, but there is something definitely on that back burner that’s moving up to the front. I’ve also written science columns in Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle’s “The Wrong Earth” and have more coming up in the Dragonfly Man miniseries this fall. Bits and pieces of science and pop culture all over.

Matt will be signing copies of “The Science of Rick and Morty” at the Simon & Schuster booth at NYCC on 10/5 at 10:30 AM

And also be sure to follow him on social media:
Twitter: @Scienceof_org
FB: @thesciof

 

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Actor/Comedian Jason Stuart Talks About His New Book and Latest Projects

With almost 150 film and television credits to his name, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen Jason Stuart on screen.  From small screen appearances on shows like “The Drew Carey Show,” “My Wife and Kids” and “Will & Grace” to his acclaimed performance in – in this writer’s humble opinion – the Best Film of 2016, “The Birth of a Nation,” he continues to add to his ever growing resume’.   He recently added a new chapter to his career story – author – with the release of his book “Shut Up, I’m Talking!”  The book details his career as well as the challenges he faced

I recently spoke with Jason about his new book and about how coming out in 1993 effected both his life and his career.

Photo Credit: Kimo Lauder

MIKE SMITH:  What prompted you to write the book?

 

JASON STUART:  I had a very good friend who worked with me on a comedy radio show I did in the Midwest.    His name was Dan Duffy and he had written a book called “The Half Book,”  He called me and told me I needed to read his book.  I bought the book and read it.  It was about him getting cancer and how he recovered, how he survived with the love of his family.  It was funny and it was touching and I was so moved by it that I told him “I need someone like you to help me write my book.”  And he said he’d love to do it.  So that was it.  I always think when something is put in front of you it’s meant to be.

 

MS:  Any reactions from your friends who may not have known you story?

 

JS:  That’s a great question.  Tons of people.  When I decided to write it I thought about it as a way to get my story out, to let people see me in a different way…to help my career and to possibly get some publicity.  Maybe I’ll make a little money.  But then I realized, “OH!  People are also going to be reading this book.  They’re going to hear all of these things I said about my personal life.  And they’re going to have opinions about it.”  I totally forget about that part.  People have been really candid.  People have stopped me on the street or called me…it’s been a lot of really positive energy.  Much more than I ever thought.

Photo credit: Sean Black

 

MS:  Do you think there is still a stigma in Hollywood that prevents gay actors from getting certain roles?

 

JS:  It’s certainly not what it was 26 years ago, but I still think that when somebody sees you a certain way it’s very hard for them to see that you would be right for certain roles.  Hollywood doesn’t seem to want actors, they seem to want “be-ers.”  My favorite actor growing up was Dustin Hoffman.  He still is.  He played Lenny Bruce.  He played Benjamin in “The Graduate.”  He played the father in “Kramer vs Kramer,” he was Captain Hook.  He was Willy Loman.  He did all sorts of roles.  You don’t really get to do that as much, but I’ve been able to make a career out of doing that.  When something comes along and they tell me I’m perfect for it, it’s not always clear to me.  We don’t always see ourselves as others see us.  Being a gay man over 50 – there are very few “gay men” parts over 50.  They don’t write them.  That role doesn’t exist very much.  So I wind up playing villains…managers…all these kind of characters.  What I want to do is play dads…because everybody has a dad.

MS:  If I can ask my question more directly, do you ever think because they know that you’re gay that you’re easily dismissed for certain roles?

 

JS:  I think so.  People are like that somewhat.  I’d have to say it’s natural.  People have to “see it.”  See you do the work.  Which is why I’ve created several demo reels.  They have to see that you can do it.  You have to be able to prove it to them.  You have to be able to get someone to represent you that is open enough to do that for you.

 

MS; You’ve done both television and film.  Do you have a preference?

 

JS:  Not any more.  Today there is no difference.  It’s about the quality of work.  I ask you a question back:  what is a television show and what is a film?

 

MS:  I think, to me, the difference is that in television, or on stage in a successful show, you have the opportunity to keep developing the character as the series or show progresses.  With a film, you’re only dealing with the role for a few months.  Does that make sense?

 

JS; Yes it does.

 

MS:  What are you working on now?

 

JS:  I have a new film called “Hank” which is now out all over the country.  It’s a short film about a guy in a relationship whose partner decides he wants an open relationship and I don’t.  It’s gotten some of the best reviews I’ve received since “The Birth of a Nation.”  And then I’m in a film called “Immortal” which is opening at the Scream Film Festival.  It’s a thriller and it’s opening on the 16th of October.  I’m also doing stand-up at the Icehouse Comedy Club in Pasadena.  I also just completed a web-series I wrote, produced and appeared in called “Smothered” with Mitch Hara.  I’m also being considered for a recurring role in a big series – I can’t say which one – as well as a national commercial.

MS:  It’s good to be busy.

 

JS:  It is.  I feel very blessed.

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN ORDERING MR. STUART’S BOOK, YOU CAN FIND IT ON AMAZON.COM, BARNESandNOBLE.COM OR YOU CAN ORDER IT FROM THE PUBLISHER HERE.

Book Review: “Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived By Jon Zazula”

“Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness.  As Lived By Jon Zazula”
Author: Jon Zazula/Harold Claros-Maldonado
Paperback: 193 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Heavy Tales” details the stories of how one Jonathan Zazula better known as Jonny Z who went from living on the streets of the Bronx in New York City to managing and releasing albums by some of the biggest artists in heavy metal music including Metallica, Anthrax, Testament and Mercyful Fate. Together, Jonny and his wife Marsha built a musical dynasty out of modest beginnings unmatched by any other underground heavy metal label. With a foreword written by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy, plus over 100 rare photographs unearthed from the Mega-Vault and photographer friends worldwide, “Heavy Tales” is the definitive American story of a family man with a dream, determined to prove to the world that heavy metal belonged on the stage, in your car, on the radio, and in your living room.

Growing up around the college town of Ithaca, NY you would always hear rumblings of the fabled Pyramid Studios and how all these heavy metal bands from the city would make the five plus hour drive just to record there. A name that was often attached along with that of bands like Anthrax, Testament and Raven was Jonny Z. It wasn’t until sometime later when I myself had the chance to record at Pyramid Studios that I would go back and dig a little deeper in to the lore that surrounds Mr. Jon Zazula. “Heavy Tales” filled in all the gaps, lapses and holes as it is the story right from the horse’s mouth. With the help of Harold Claros-Maldonado, Jon tells you about how his rough upbringing and  keen business sense put him at the fore-front of the heavy metal invasion of the mid-eighties and into early nineties where he help orchestrate the early foundations of cross over Rap-Metal. Just reading the candid stories about Metallica’s early days (Pre-“Master of Puppets”) would have been more than enough for me but Z takes it further recounting numerous concerts, trips and pivotal first time meetings which until now were stories only heard by select few and/or those who lived it.

Counting in at just over 190 pages “Heavy Tales” is a quick read that wastes no time getting to the good stuff. The book and its authors give you just enough background to nicely set the stage for the bulk of each story. I had no problem reading this book in one sitting and the various photographs included in the book were a nice touch. If you grew up during the time period the book covers and was in to heavy metal you undoubtedly have a record that Jonny Z had a hand in and now is your chance to hear his story.

 

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The Book of Life Sequel Could be Right Around the Corner

The 2014 animation, The Book of Life, is still one of the most unique and unconventional cartoons in cinematic history. The Jorge R. Gutierrez film was renowned for its gorgeous visuals and heart-warming plot, which took viewers into a number of different fantasy worlds. It has been revealed that the story is not over, and the director has ideas which could take place over at least two sequels. So, what could happen in the next instalment, and will it have the same magical feel of the first?

The Book of Life was not up there in scale with some of the huge Pixar films like Toy Story or Finding Nemo, but for a film from an independent animation studio, it was a massive success. The 2014 offering was made by Reel FX Creative Studios, who had only created two films – Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away and Free Birds – prior to its release. The animated adventure, which makes use of wooden figure characters, had some big-name producers, including Guillermo Del Toro. This helped it to gain attention and reach large audiences.

The theme of The Book of Life is well-known, and this is one of the main factors that helped it attract audiences. It takes place during the Day of the Dead, a famous Mexican holiday to celebrate those who have passed on to another realm of existence. While not as ubiquitous as holidays like Halloween, the Mexican festival is prevalent in popular culture. For instance, the Day of the Dead slot is one of the most popular fruit slots at MagicalVegas.com. And the classic video game character Grim Fandango was based on the Mexican holiday, with the main character resembling a skeleton.

The Book of Life centres on Manolo Sanchez and Joaquin Mondragon as they compete for the love of Maria Posada. In the end, Manolo and Maria are happily married, and Joaquin resolves to be a true hero without the need for the Medal of Everlasting Life which had been given to him by Xibalba. The 2014 film finished off Manolo’s arc with a satisfying end, but there is still potential to revisit some of the other characters and see what happens to them.

Gutierrez said that he wants the sequel to focus on Joaquin as the central protagonist, and to explore his relationship with his father. If he was to make a third film, this one would have Maria as its primary focus. Indeed, the 44-year-old claimed that he always envisioned it as being a trilogy. In 2017, it was announced that work on the second instalment had begun, but distributer 20th Century Fox is yet to reveal a release date for the film.

If Gutierrez manages to recapture the charm of the original, while also delivering the amazing visuals, the Book of Life sequel is sure to be a stunning creation. And with the Day of the Dead becoming even more popular as a worldwide holiday, the new film is likely to pull in large audiences.

Review of the book “100 Interiors Around the World”

To begin with, it is important to highlight the fact that “100 Interiors Around the World” is one of the series of books published by Taschen. In this edition, you will be able to see the most impressive, unique and inspiring interiors from all over the world. The book contains 720 pages and is printed on high-quality paper. In general, “100 Interiors Around the World” will be a superb addition to your home book collection or a great gift idea for a person who is interested in interior design.

In order to write this book, the interiors in such countries as Argentina, France, Indonesia, the USA, Brazil, Cuba, China, Morocco, Italy, Denmark, Kenya and many others have been deeply researched. In case you are currently a student at a school of art or are attending an art course at college, school or university, this book will really be of great interest to you. Perhaps, it is even listed as one of the learning materials in teaching instructions provided by your professor.

Photos illustrated in the book have been taken by such renowned interior photographers as Nikolas Koenig, Mark Seelen, Marina Faust, Reto Guntli, Ditte Isager, Ricardo Labougle, Thomas Loof, Paul Warchol and a lot of others. If you find yourself in times of a mild school crisis, take a break and look through this book. You will get inspired right away. Viewing inspiring interiors and seeing how people organize their lives around certain objects is one of the best ways to take your mind off things and simply relax.

Taking everything into account, “100 Interiors Around the World” is an extremely interesting book to read not only for those who are interested in interior design, but also to readers who want to learn more about other cultures. The way in which an interior of a certain house is designed tells a lot about traditions, customs and popular styles within a country under consideration. Therefore, this book offers a glimpse of interior design preferences around the world. This edition highlights how personal taste can be both different and universal at the same time. When reading the book, you will come across classic, exotic, rustic, unusual, experimental and even playful interiors. You will definitely be impressed as you will most likely realize how the personality of a human being is usually reflected in the style of interior design they have chosen for decorating their house.

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Book review: Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859.

George Eliot is a famous writer from England. She had her own captivating style, so worker from resume services online recommends it for reading. It gives inspiration for writing. More about book see below.

Adam Bede opens in the summer of 1799 in a rural community that is about to be scandalized.

Adam Bede loves Hetty Sorrel. Seth Bede loves Dinah Morris. Dinah and Hetty are cousins; both orphans, both staying with the same aunt and uncle. The two women couldn’t be more different from one another. Hetty is young, beautiful, lives in the clouds instead of down on earth, believes in fairy tales and knights in shining armor. Dinah Morris isn’t “old” by any stretch of the imagination, but her wisdom makes her more of an old soul than Hetty could ever be. She’s a Methodist preacher. She’s loving, compassionate, intelligent, wise, honest and sincere.

The squire’s heir, Arthur Donnithorne, falls hard for Hetty. He’s a soldier home visiting just for a short time. He sees her, sees potential danger, rushes ahead anyway. He knows how it will end–just not when. It will end with him leaving her behind forever. Arthur could no more marry Hetty than he could fly to the moon and back. He knows also that Hetty will be crushed when he leaves. He’ll also be upset. But he doesn’t seem to grasp that he’s aware of all the risks and she isn’t. Not really. For one thing, she thinks she’s as good as engaged. She knows that one day hopefully soon they’ll be man and wife. All will be made right then.

Readers aren’t horribly clear on if Hetty is aware of one HUGE danger. Does Hetty realize that she could get pregnant? Arthur seems aware of this danger; in his goodbye forever letter, he tells Hetty to write to him immediately if a PROBLEM should come up in the next month or so. Hetty doesn’t seem to realize Arthur’s veiled hints mean: if you should find yourself with child, let me know.

Before Arthur leaves, Dinah reaches out to Hetty. If you should ever find yourself in need of a friend, I’ll be there for you no matter what. You are loved unconditionally. Dinah herself leaves the community much earlier than that. She is being led by the Lord. She rejects Seth’s proposal before she leaves.

Adam and Arthur are friends; their friendship is unequal perhaps. Arthur will be squire one day. He’s several ranks above what Adam could ever hope to be. Adam is a working man, a hard-working man. He may or may not ever have enough money to marry and have his own place apart from his brother and mother. But he loves Hetty. He is biding his time. Arthur is speeding up the situation by giving Adam opportunities and advantages in his carpentry business.

Arthur has a conscience, but it’s weak. Adam has a conscience, and it’s strong. Arthur knows right from wrong, but he follows his mind and not his conscience. He feels guilt, but doesn’t repent. Part of repenting is turning away from sin, fighting temptation, and changing your behavior. Arthur’s guilt doesn’t lead him to repentance.

Adam and Arthur have a confrontation before he leaves. He has caught Arthur and Hetty kissing in the woods. Adam loses respect for Arthur, but not for Hetty. She was a victim; Arthur was taking advantage of her innocence. Arthur should have known better. Hetty wasn’t capable of knowing better. As Adam reckons it.

Several weeks after Arthur leaves, Hetty and Adam begin to court. She agrees to marry him. The family is elated. The wedding is planned for around Easter time.

A month or so before the wedding, in February, I believe. Hetty decides to “visit” Dinah. Hetty is in actuality planning on running away for good. Where is she running? To the last place she knew Arthur to be. Why? Because she’s about to give birth to Arthur’s child and no one knows.

When does Hetty learn that she’s pregnant? Why did she wait so long to run away? Why didn’t she write Arthur as he told her to? Does Hetty know she’s pregnant? Is she in denial? How do her friends and family not know she’s pregnant? When she runs away she is about eight months pregnant. Is Hetty in her right mind when she runs away? At what point does her brain break down? When does Hetty lose the ability does she lose the ability to know right from wrong?

Because her excuse was a good one, it takes almost three weeks before her family realizes she is missing. And it takes a good bit of time before Adam tracks down where Hetty went first. Before he puts all the pieces together, he is given a big shock. A woman matching Hetty’s description has just been put in JAIL for MURDER. She has murdered her baby. He was found half-buried in the woods and discovered by a farmer.

SCANDAL. The “scandal” of the summer of 1799 might have been a “crazy” woman preacher preaching outside to the masses. The scandal of the spring/summer of 1800 was that one of their own was capable of MURDER (not to mention fornication). Who will be there for Hetty? Will every single man and woman turn their backs on her?

Enter Dinah. Only Dinah embraces Hetty and supports her one hundred percent. Unconditional love is in fact unconditional.

Where does Adam fit in? Well. He doesn’t love Hetty anymore. He sees her as forever stained and beyond redemption. Because she is facing death, he digs deep and finds it possible to forgive her. Love, for Adam, was not unconditional but conditional. Now, for the record he blames Arthur almost exclusively. If it were up to Adam, both Hetty and Arthur would be on trial and facing death. Justice demands that Arthur be held accountable too. Of course, that is not how the world works.

The aftermath. Life eventually settles back into a routine of its own, but, some things can’t be forgotten completely. Adam does find love again in the arms of an amazing, wonderful woman: Dinah.

If I had to pick one character to love from Adam Bede, it wouldn’t be Adam Bede. It would be Dinah.

Book Review “The Art of Toy Story 4”

“Toy Story” is a franchise that started Pixar and continues to win the hearts of audiences over 20 years. With the recent release of the latest installment, “Toy Story 4”, that means a new art of book has been released. I still have my “The Art of Toy Story 3” and was just looking through it recently, which is still one of my favorites. This book dives right into the movie and behind-the-scenes content including great concept art, landscapes and character development over the film’s development. If you are of fan of these book and the “Toy Story” franchise, I would definitely recommend checking this out!

Page 4-5 John Lee, digital painting [Bo Peep & Woody]

Official Synopsis: With a story that’s spanned more than 20 years, the adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang have captured the hearts of millions. The Art of Toy Story 4 invites readers to explore the next installment of Pixar’s beloved franchise through never-before-seen concept art, character studies, process animation, storyboards, colorscripts, and more. Featuring exclusive interviews with the production team on the making of the film and insights into their creative vision, The Art of Toy Story 4 reveals the vivid imagination that brought this story to life.

“The Art of Toy Story 4” kicks off with a solid introduction from Josh Cooley, who actually directed “Toy Story 4”. Josh also directed “Riley’s First Date”, which was a short film following the film “Inside Out”. He also worked as a story artist on the Academy Award®-winning films The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up, and Golden Globe®-winning Cars, and served as the story supervisor on Academy Award®-winning Inside Out. I personally was a bigger fan of “Toy Story 3” in terms of favorite films in the franchise but I do feel like he gives a lot of heart to “Toy Story 4” and delivers a solid film.

Pages 108-109 John Lee, digital painting [Buzz at amusement park]

Closing out the book there is a great foreword from the incomparable Annie Potts, who voices ‘Bo Peep’ in “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2”, and returns in “Toy Story 4”. She has appeared in numerous feature films including the “Ghostbusters” franchise, Pretty in Pink, and Corvette Summer for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination. I enjoyed this foreword and it is a great ending to the book given great insight into the role and her involvement with the film. Overall the book is another hit for Chronicle Books, they have been extremely consistent with their “Art of” books and never disappoint.

Pages 124-125 Deanna Marsigliese, digital [Bunny concept art]

Author Darren Paltrowitz Discusses His NEW Book “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons”.

Darren Paltrowitz is writer/interviewer with 20+ years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager and over the years working with artists like OK Go, They Might Be Giants and Tracy Bonham. Darren’s writing has appeared in countless publications including the NEW York Daily News, L.A. Times and Guitar World. Darren’s latest project is titled “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons”.  Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Darren recently about the book and how the idea to draw inspiration from professional wrestling came about.

Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Professional Wrestling?

Darren Paltrowitz: I have been trying to really figure that out lately. I think it goes back to watching “WWF Wrestling Challenge” or one of those late 80’s early 90’s weekend shows. The first Wrestle mania that I fully remember was WrestleMania 7. From there I got into WCW. Sadly I wasn’t much in wrestling during the “Monday Night Wars” as music took over at that time. I didn’t love WCW when it was good! (Laughs) Thankfully with the internet I can now go back and watch everything I missed.

AL: How did the idea for the book all come together?

DP: I had gotten a press release about a book from my future co-author D.X. Ferris. It was actually a release about the four books he had coming out. One of those was titled “Good Advice From Good Fellas”. I ended up interviewing him about the book and during that interview he mentioned Diamond Dallas Page. We stayed in touch after the interview and I pitched the idea of a wrestling book. He sent me an email of a paper he wrote back in college which took advice from wrestling and the film “Goodfellas”. This was back in November. Prior to that we had nothing so that is why the book includes a lot of current wrestlers and wrestling information. We wrote this very quickly with the goal of having it ready for WrestleMania in April. D.X. put in a ton of long hours at the end with final touches and we did it!

AL: What was the research process like for the book and, how did you go about selecting which material made it into the book?

DP: That was sort of a mix of factors. One of those factors was D.X. telling me I had to put in some of his hometown Pittsburgh guys like Bruno Sammartino and Kurt Angle. We really had to think about people who along with wrestling talent also showed good business acumen and that were not plagued by scandal. We also thought about who had great quotes. Some of the book’s material came from my own personal interviews with people like Mark Henry. Now that I have been talking about the book for a bit I regret not including people like Al Snow and MJF. This arguably the greatest time in history to be a wrestling fan! There is infinite content out there. In fact there is so much that you cannot watch it all.

AL: Did any of the wrestlers who are featured in the book know beforehand that they were going to be included?

DP: We reached out to a lot of the wrestling promotions asking for material and we received responses from all but one. There were other times where I would have to go through independent reps. We also had a guy in the Ohio area that was able to provide us with some photo material. Initially things were moving slow as people didn’t believe we were doing this thing. One by one we started getting books out to some of the wrestlers and it’s been going great. It continues to be a step by step process.

AL: Did you have any goals for releasing the book?

DP: My first major goal with this project was finishing the book and getting it out. Once that was done it was a major relief. A lot of people say they are going to write a book but never do. Now that the book is out I want it to be the one book that is for people who don’t read “self help” books. I wanted people to realize that a lot of the advice in the book is applicable no matter what your level of exposure to pro wrestling is or was. One other thing I want people to take away from the book is for them to see just how smart and successful the majority of pro wrestlers are. They are no longer failed football players or body builders. These are people who are branding experts who can also act and write their own material. If you want to be successful you have to learn from other successful people. I hope a lot of that comes across in this book.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

DP: I have been doing interviews with entertainers and the likes ever since I was in high school. I realized that I should do something with all these interviews. About a year ago I started a pod cast called “The Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz”. It’s a bi-weekly cast that includes clips from various interviews I have done. Last week’s episode featured Adam Duritz from Counting Crows talking about his bar mitzvah, Guitarist Susan Tedeschi and Kaley Cuoco from the “Big Bang Theory”. I am into all kinds of things so that’s what I showcase on the cast.

It doesn’t matter if you are fan of wrestling or just someone wanting a fresh approach to the self help genre “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons” has something for everyone. It’s even got some great photos which accent the wit and wisdom of an often overlooked industry. To Order visit: https://www.amazon.com/Darren-Paltrowitz/e/B07Q4QN8B8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_2

For more info on Darren Paltrowitz you can visit his official website here: http://www.paltrowitz.com/home.html

 

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Book Review: “For The Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records”

“For The Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records”
Author: Brian Slagel/Mark Eglinton
BMG Books
Trade paperback: 192 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The story of Metal Blade Records is the story of Brian Slagel-a metal-obsessed Southern California kid who launched a fanzine and landed a record store job before cobbling together what he assumed would be a one-off compilation of fledgling bands from the L.A. scene. “For The Sake Of Heaviness” pulls back the curtain to reveal the definitive look at how Metal Blade began, what they’ve accomplished, and where they’re going. With the help of co-writer Mark Eglinton, Brian Slagel invites the reader into a personal conversation about his life’s passion, and the passion that drives Metal Blade-finding, exposing, and promoting the best heavy music on the planet.

We have all probably heard in one form or another the story of how Metallica got their first big break via a compilation put together by a friend of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.  What we haven’t heard until now is the detailed story of the man who made it all happen. Within the pages of “For The Sake of Heaviness” we get an in-depth look at Brian Slagel the fan turned found/owner of one of the premier heavy metal record labels in the world. Over the course of the books 192 pages readers learn about Slagel’s first exposure to music and how a love for all things heavy would land him smack dab in the middle of the early eighties tape trading scene where he would meet a fellow  Danish collector recently transplanted to the Los Angeles area.
Brian and co-author Mark Eglinton do a great job telling the story of Metal Blade providing readers with plenty of detail and lots of stories from the early days of sweating it out in his mothers garage to working with artists like As I Lay Dying, Behemoth and Gwar to name just a few.

“For The Sake of Heaviness” is more than just the story of a guy who started his own record label. Going deeper you see the passion and love Slagel emits and how he took that passion and turned it into the business it is today. As a fan of a lot of the bands who either are currently on the label or have been associated with it in the past hearing stories of how they got to Metal Blade was really enjoyable but where the book really shines is the underlying message of just how far passion, dedication and hard work can get you in life.

“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel” book nominated for Rondo Hatton Award


“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel,” a book written by Media Mikes co-founder Michael A. Smith, with Louis R. Pisano, has been nominated in the category BOOK OF THE YEAR for the 17th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

The Rondo Awards have recognized, since 2002, the very best in film, television and publishing in the field of Classic Horror.

“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel,” was initially published in 2015. However, Smith spent two years after its publication finding more behind the scenes photos and tracking down more members of the crew to tell their story about working on the Hollywood Sequel that launched the constant stream of films we have today.

Filmed but never seen: the death of Bob (Billy Van Zandt)

The nominated book is a limited (to 1000 copies) signed and numbered edition, with the majority of the photos and images posted in color.

Tegan West, Sarah Holcomb, Martha Swatek and Gary Springer on set. West and Holcomb would later be replaced in the cast.

If you would like to vote for the book, send an email HERE and tell them you’d like to vote for the JAWS 2 book for Book of the Year. If you would like to order a copy, please click HERE.

Stage Review: “The Book of Mormon” – Kansas City

Review by Phillip Smith

“The Book of Mormon”  Music Hall – Kansas City, Missouri – December 27, 2018

Making it’s third trip through Kansas City, the question has to be “Does ‘The Book of Mormon’ hold up?  Thank you, Heavenly Father, because the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Winner of nine Tony Awards in 2011, including Best Musical, “Book of Mormon” is the brain-child of “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who conceived the production with “Avenue Q” composer Robert Lopez.

The show tells the story of two young missionaries, Elder’s Price (Kevin Clay) and Cunningham (Jacob Ben-Shmuel) , who are sent to Uganda to introduce Jesus Christ to the natives.  Of course, things don’t go the way they should, with results that can only be expected from the team that gave us “South Park” and “Team America.”

The production was well staged and the cast enthusiastic.  As was the audience, who erupted into applause when it was noted that “the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri,” which is also where Kansas City is located.  

Almost a decade after it premiered, “The Book of Mormon” continues to be one of the best musicals running, and easily one of the best musicals of this century.  

Film Review: “Green Book”

GREEN BOOK
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali
Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Universal

 Nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in five categories at the upcoming 2019 Golden Globes, including Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, “Green Book” is one of the most acclaimed films of 2018 with 49 nominations from various cinema-related organizations. Inspired by a true story, this period drama is a surprisingly complex, emotional work considering its director, Peter Farrelly, is best known for comedic fare like “Shallow Hal” and “Dumb & Dumber.” With “Green Book,” Farrelly captures the stark racial divide of 1962 America with an exploration of the relationship between Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) and Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) as they travel across the Midwest and Deep South. 

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Tony Lip is a man you don’t want to mess with as he is the kind of tough guy who will hit you when you get out of line and will hit you harder if you strike back. Tony is thus the right fit as a bouncer at a New York City nightclub that’s frequented by wise guys from the Italian mob. However, despite their efforts to lure him to their line of business, Tony stays on the straight and narrow, sort of, as he is more than happy with being a devoted family man. Now while that’s all well and good, Tony has a set of racist attitudes towards people of color, exemplified when he tosses two water glasses into the trash after two black handymen drink from them in his house. When the nightclub he works at is shut down for remodeling, Tony Lip resorts to all sorts of ways to earn money for his family, including his participation in an impromptu eating contest that gets him fifty dollars. Thanks to his reputation as a man who can get things done, Tony Lip is called in to interview for a job as a driver for famed classical pianist Don Shirley.

It doesn’t go well at first because while Tony Lip is about as uneducated and uncultured as they come, Don holds multiple degrees and can speak several languages. Ultimately, Don hires Tony Lip because he needs someone who can protect him during a two-month concert tour that will take them through the heart of the segregated Deep South. As the two men learn more about each other, the more their divides begin to melt away to be replaced with curiosity and even friendship. This is helped by the conditions they witness as Don experiences for the first time the true pain of segregation and Tony Lip has his eyes opened to the injustice of it all.

Farrelly’s creation, with its terrific music selection, costumes and lingo, puts us in a time machine that takes us back to an America that had yet to lose its so-called innocence to assassinations and the Vietnam War. “Green Book” reminds us that that innocence was tainted with bigotry and hatred. It also reminds us how ignorance can be overcome with unity. In addition to its smartly written script and solid direction, “Green Book” contains a pair of dare I say Oscar nomination worthy performances. Mortensen dazzles with his knack to bring to life every subtle nuance of the characters he plays. This role is no exception as he helps make Tony Lip someone we can truly care about even though in the beginning it’s a little tough to do. Ali, a 2017 Oscar winner for “Moonlight,” gives Don a vulnerable sophistication while also breathing out a certain degree of naivete without seeming to break a sweat. It all adds up to “Green Book” being the type of rare movie where everyone can feel a little bit happier about the world when the lights go back on.