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

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.

Book Review: “The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities” By: Wayne Kramer

“The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities”
Author: Wayne Kramer
Da Capo
Hardcover: 311 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities” is the story of legendary guitarist Wayne Kramer. From his childhood in Detroit where he found inspiration from the likes Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones to his pursuit of “avant rock” with his group the MC5. Released via Da Capo Press “The Hard Stuff” is a 311 page biography recounting a life of rock and roll excess to prison confinement making all stops in between and any there-after.

As gritty as the ground breaking groups music “The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities” is a brutally honest, in-depth look at M5 founding member Wayne Kramer’s life. Told by the man himself Kramer recounts his upbringing in a home with an abusive stepfather and how he channeled his inner frustrations about the world around him into some of the MC5’s most notable material. Though I found the chapters recounting his time with the band the following chapters after the group disbanding was where my attention was really held. Kramer painstakingly tells of his time in prison after a drug bust and the years after in which he struggled with addiction up through reconnecting with his biological father.

“The Hard Stuff” is a roller coaster ride of emotion that keeps the reader interested and turning the pages. Not many people (if any) have had a life like Wayne Kramer and this book makes that abundantly clear. You don’t need to be a fan of Kramer’s music to enjoy this book as the author speaks his truth and does not shy away from darker periods of his life or difficult subject matter. For those hoping to catch the MC5 on the 50th anniversary tour this is the perfect foundation to help connect or reconnect with one of rock music’s most influential artists/groups.

Book Review: “Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal” By: Brian Posehn

“Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal”
Author: Brian Posehn
Da Capo
Hardcover: 304 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Brian Posehn is a successful and instantly recognizable comedian, actor, and writer. He also happens to be a giant nerd. That’s partly because he’s been obsessed with such things as Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, and heavy metal since he was a child; the other part is because he fills out every bit of his 6’7” frame. Brian’s always felt awkward and like a perpetual outsider, but he found his way through the difficulties of growing up by escaping into the worlds of Star Wars, D&D, and comics, and by rocking his face off. “Forever Nerdy” is a celebration of growing up nerdy and different. Being a nerd hasn’t always been easy, but somehow this self-hating nerd who suffered from depression was able to land his dream job, get the girl, and learn to fit in. Kind of.

Those familiar with Brian’s long standing comedic work will surely know what they are getting into even before reading page 1. “Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal” is a fun read chalked full of awkward yet at times relatable experiences of a kid/adult trying to find their place in life. From losing his father at a young age to feeling like an outcast at school Brian tells his story through black horned rim glasses recounting various pivotal moments in his life with his signature dry/slow paced delivery which had me cracking up time and time again. From stories of his mom taking him to see “Jaws” and “Star Wars” to his love of Kiss and comic books Posehn shares these memories in detail making you feel like you too were there. Even with darker subject matter from his childhood Brian’s wit shines though making want to keep reading page after page.

Posehn was a nerd before it was cool and “Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal” is total proof and its nothing to be ashamed of. Chapter after chapter the author keeps you laughing with ho-hum accounts of his life and career and whether you are a fan of his comedy or share a similar taste in pop culture and music this book is for you and/or would make the perfect gift for a loved one this holidays season.

Guitarist K.K. Downing Discusses His New Book “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”

 

Picture by: Pauli Juppi

Ken “K.K.” Downing is a founding member of the heavy metal band Judas Priest. He was active with the group from its inception in 1969 to his departure from the group in April of 2011. Downing has recently released a book via Da Capo press title “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Ken about the creation of the book and where he plans to go next

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background behind the writing of the book?

Ken Downing: Since my departure from the band eight years ago lots of people have been asking me if I would like to do a book. Year after year I just kept saying no and then finally last year I decided to finally do it. I sort of had three basic ideas for doing this. I thought it would be a good opportunity for fans to get to know me a little bit better. That probably sounds a bit ridiculous after having been around for so long now but, there is always another story to tell. I wanted to share how I started off in life and ended up playing some of the biggest stages in the world. Lastly I wanted to bring some sort of closure to the banter which was being thrown about across the internet related to my position within the band.

AL: How did you go about selecting what memories or stories you wanted to include in the book?

KD: That was really the difficulty part as I didn’t have a plan or anything. My ghost writer Mark Eglinton helped quite a bit with this side of things. He helped me dig a bit deeper along the way as we approached things chronologically as one lives life. As we moved along we paid attention to what would come to the surface and tried not to dwell on certain topics too long as we wanted to keep the book moving. If I had elaborated too much on things this would be a very thick book. (Laughs) It was difficult at times as I wanted to keep things honest and after forty years in rock and roll there were a couple stories we had to leave out. (Laughs)

AL: How did you get connected with Mark (Eglinton)?

KD: Mark came to me through my website which is run out of Helsinki, Finland. I had been approached previously by a bunch of other people about doing a book but Mark was in the UK and he made a couple trips down to see me where we just talked and got to know one another. I felt that worked well and we went from there. We did things in chunks based on a certain amount of years. That let me focus on one specific time period at a time. Mark and I would just basically talk. Every now and then he would prompt me to elaborate more on certain periods of the band. Both Mark and his brother have been rock fans for a very long time so he had a fans perspective of what other fans might want to know more about.

AL: Was it hard revisiting some of your earlier years growing up?

KD: It was. I had always kept a lot of those memories be it good or bad to myself. My childhood was very personal to me and I had never shared my experiences with anyone. To have someone hear them and then in turn document them for others to read was something I really had to think about. To keep things transparent we went ahead with it. I may have skirted around a couple things or been less descriptive but it’s all there. When you are born in to a dysfunctional family things are going to be a bit different so I didn’t have to go into too much detail.

AL: Had you let any of the people included in these stories know beforehand that you were releasing a book on your life?

KD: No not really. I had talked to my mom as I was a bit concerned she might get a little emotional about me telling the family story. As it happened when I spoke with her she told me she was not worried and she also mentioned she had read Ozzy Osbourne’s book and loved that one. (Laughs) When she did get the chance to read my book she affirmed that that’s how things were so I was pleased with that.

AL: Now that people have had a chance to read the book, are there any pieces you feel you should not have included or been so detailed with?

KD: I feel a little relieved now that it’s out and that I have not received any real adverse repercussions. The general feedback has been much better than I was expecting. Every now and then I think about other things I would have mentioned but didn’t. That seems to happen though be it with this book or records you always want to turn out the best product so you keep working and working at it. Eventually you just have to stop and turn it in. I wanted to put out something that people could get their heads into and find it just as enjoyable as watching television or something.

AL: With the completion of the book are you looking to now shift your focus back to music?

KD: I am thinking with the coming winter here in the UK I am going to disappear into my music room and just see what happens next. I have a few ideas I might want to play about with but this game for me is all about getting that chance to jump back into Judas Priest. If I am not doing that then the name of the game is creating new material.

For more in on Ken you can visit his official website at www.kkdowning.net

Be sure to check out our review of “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” here.

Book Review: “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” by K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton

“Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”
Author: K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton
Da Capo
Hardcover: 277 pages

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the fast-paced, opulent life of a rock star. It was a far cry from his tedious, impoverished childhood in the heart of England. In “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”, Downing recounts his forty-plus years with the band recounting events such as his first meeting with vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Glen Tipton to stories of touring with bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

There aren’t many music fans out there who can’t name at-least one Judas Priest song. From “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” to “Breaking the Law” the band has a memorable catalog that for many was the soundtrack of their youth. “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” is the chance for fans of the band to see just what was going on behind the scenes during the bands early years and on up through guitarist K.K. Downing’s departure from the group in 2011. Over the course of the books 277 pages the guitarist and his collaborator Mark Eglinton give detailed accounts of the bands formation, the growing pains all new bands go through and what the band was like during the recording of some of the most influential heavy metal records in music history. Downing is candid and no subject seems to be off limits as he recounts his own personal struggles as well as inner turmoil between band members, management and producers giving the reader a fly on the wall perspective that until now was not available.

At times I did find the stories to be a bit drawn out with a few too many “poor me” moments for my liking. Yes this is a memoir/autobiography and those types of things come with the territory however there were some redundancies and details that probably could have been thinned down or omitted completely with a little more editing. Do not get me wrong, the book still has a bunch a really cool moments and stories that aside from the people who lived it have/will never be experienced by most so being able to read about those is worth it. There are also some really great photos included the hardcover book comes with a super cool metallic like slip cover which will look awesome displayed next to other Judas Priest and music memorabilia.

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection First Time Ever on Blu-ray!

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, A LANDMARK COLLECTION SHOWCASING THE LEGENDARY MONSTERS IN MOTION PICTURE HISTORY

UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: COMPLETE 30-FILM COLLECTION AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY ON AUGUST 28, 2018 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Universal City, California, August 22, 2018 – Thirty of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces starring the most famous monsters of horror movie history come together on Blu-ray™ for the first time ever in the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection on August 28, 2018, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Featuring unforgettable make-up, ground-breaking special effects and outstanding performances, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes all Universal Pictures’ legendary monsters from the studio that pioneered the horror genre with imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror in unforgettable films from the 1930s to late-1950s.

From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection showcases all the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre and showcase why these landmark movies that defined the horror genre are regarded as some of the most unforgettable ever to be filmed.

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes a 48-page collectible book filled with behind-the-scenes stories and rare production photographs and is accompanied by an array of bonus features including behind-the-scenes documentaries, the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula, Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce, 13 expert feature commentaries, archival footage, production photographs, theatrical trailers and more. The perfect gift for any scary movie fan, the collection offers an opportunity to experience some of the most memorable horror films of our time.

The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes Dracula(1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Werewolf of London (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1942), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942),Invisible Agent (1942), Phantom of the Opera (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), House of Dracula (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, and includes a 3D version), Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), Revenge of the Creature (1955 and includes a 3D version) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).

 

BONUS FEATURES:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
  • 3D Versions of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature
  • 1931 Spanish Version of Dracula
  • Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce
  • 13 Expert Feature Commentaries
  • Archival Footage
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailers