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.

Win a Blu-ray of gritty crime drama, “Blood Ties” [ENDED]

To celebrate the Blu-ray release of “Blood Ties”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the Blu-ray to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite crime drama. This giveaway will remain open until July 4th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Blood Ties begins when Chris (Owen) is released from prison. Reluctantly waiting for him on the outside is his younger brother Frank (Crudup), a cop with an aspiring future. After trying to stay on the straight path without any success, Chris inevitably descends back into a life of crime and puts Frank in a tough predicament. Does he cover for his brother and salvage the only family he has? Or does he do the right thing and risk destroying everything he loves?

Book Review “Crime Seen” by Michaelbrent Collings

Author: Michaelbrent Collings
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: January 17, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

It was past midnight, outside it was thundering and lightning and I was curdled up in bed with the lights off. This is the best way to read and experience the work of Michaelbrent Collings. His work is so visual and easy to imagine. When I read, I immediately zone in and visualize the characters and events like a movie. With Michaelbrent’s work he makes it so interesting and each page is like a cliffhanger leading to the next. “Crime Seen” the latest book from the award-winning author of “Strangers” and “The Colony” Omnibus and no question should be added to your must read list of 2014.

I started reading “Crime Seen” about two months ago and I stopped about half-way through due to the crazy events of life. The reason why I know I loved this book is because I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it during that time when I wasn’t reading. And the minute that I picked back up and started reading again, I was right back into the world that he created for this story. For me, if you are able to keep my interest for that long you know that you have got something special.

Official Premise: Detective Evan White is on the trail of a killer. A madman who slaughters at a whim. A murderer bent on destroying everything and everyone Evan loves. An assassin who can’t be killed… because he’s already dead. Evan is about to begin the longest day of his life. A day that will determine what is true, what is false. What crimes are reality… and what crimes are merely seen.

“Crime Seen” is a great thriller with a nice supernatural edge mixed in. I just love the tagline for this book “How do you kill a man who’s already dead?” The story is such a mind fuck with twists and turns that really keep you guessing until the very last page. When you think you have it figured out, Michaelbrent causes you to scream out loud “What the fuck, just happened?”. I have no idea how this guy comes up with the crazy shit he does but I just can’t get enough of it personally.

Growing up as a kid, I was a very avid reader but I haven’t read a book in probably 10-15 years and it was due to Michaelbrent that got me hooked again. Last year, he approached me with his novel “Darkbound”, which is another outstanding choice to check out, and it really opened by eyes to reading and really changed my life. May sound lame but it is the truth. Sometimes, I actually think that he is a robot since this guy comes out with book after book after book and I have a hard time keeping up with him… But keep them coming man! Can’t wait to see what you got planned for me next.

 

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Blu-ray Review "Jackie Chan Double Feature: Crime Story / The Protector"

Actors: Jackie Chan, Kent Cheng, Danny Aiello
Directors: Kirk Woong, James Glickenhaus
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Run Time: 198 minutes

Double Feature: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love classic Jackie Chan? This double feature includes two films: “Crime Story” and “The Protector”. It is great to see Chan fly around without wires or CG effects. The US cut of “The Protector” is good but has never been my favorite of mine or Jackie Chan’s either hence his created his own personal cut with more action and less nudity. Luckily this edition is included in the special features. You can tell that Shout! but some love into this release and they are a real step up from Echo Bridge’s four-pack of Jackie Chan’s features on Blu-ray. If you are a fan of Jackie Chan, then you are going to want to check this out.  Looking for more? Shout! Factory is releasing another Jackie Chan Double Feature “Police Story / Police Story II” this April.

“Crime Story” Official Premise: Jackie Chan stars in one of his grittiest roles ever as a police detective on the edge, who must race against time to solve a deadly kidnapping case. Based on the shocking true story of a billionaire abducted in a bold ambush, and filled with explosive martial-arts battles, Crime Story pulses with tension and excitement. Director Kirk Wong (The Big Hit) deftly combines acrobatic fight choreography with edge-of-your-seat action for this thrilling and dramatic tour-de-force for Jackie Chan.

“The Protector” Official Premise: Written and directed by James Glickenhaus (The Exterminator), The Protector stars Jackie Chan and Danny Aiello (Do the Right Thing) as a pair of NYPD cops sent to Hong Kong to catch a drug lord who has kidnapped the daughter of his former associate. Also starring martial-arts star Moon Lee (Angel Force) and Roy Chiao (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), this thriller features Hollywood-style action sprinkled with Chan’s death-defying stunts.

Shout! Factory has delivered decent but not amazing 1080p transfers here, both presented in their original aspect ratios of 1.85:1.  When I think about classic Jackie Chan action films, I think about the gritty feel though so they work for me to be honest.  They are not perfect but then again neither or the films themselves. The audio tracks on the other hand are much more solid.  “Crime Story” comes with both a Cantonese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Obviously the original Cantonese works the best personally.  Then there is also a Cantonese and English Dolby Digital 2.0. “The Protector” comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0.

The special features for “Crime Story” are good but not great. There is an interview with the director Kirk Wong in Cantonese, with optional English subtitles. There are a few deleted scenes also in Cantonese, with optional English subtitles. Lastly there is the original un-subtitled trailer and a US trailer. “The Protector” really delivers the best features on this release. “The Protector: Alternate Cut” is Jackie Chan’s personal cut of the film and is in Cantonese, with optional English subtitles but only in standard definition. “From New York to Hong Kong” is an interview with director James Glickenhaus talking about working with Jackie Chan. “Locations: Then and Now” is a shot featurette showing the shooting location, not narrated and can be skipped. “Behind the Scenes Featurette” is raw shooting footage in Cantonese and not subtitled. Lastly there is the Hong Kong and US trailer included.

DVD Review “Crime Does Not Pay: The Complete Shorts Collection”

Directors: Zion Myers, Jules White
Number of discs: 6
Distributed by: Warner Archive
Release Date: July 6, 2012
Running Time: 1010 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This release from Warner Archive comes with over 50 shorts running over 1000 minutes for the original MGM “Crime Does Not Pay” series. It is really a wonderful set and something that could have only been made by MGM in its heyday. The complete collection includes shorts from 1935-1947.  They are very unique and represent a very specific time in film history and in MGM’s history.  It also short showcases within in short with various different situations proving that in fact “Crime Does Not Pay”!

These B&W shorts looks fantastic on DVD, especially for their age.  Warner  Archive did a fantastic job of restoring and releasing this shorts to the public finally.  They are presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. There is one bonus short included within the 50 called “Eyes of the Navy”. It is from 1940 and though not a “Crime Does Not Pay” short, it was released by MGM in theaters as part of the series.  Overall if you are a fan of classic shorts from Hollywood’s early days, this is something that you would not want to miss for sure.

The 50 shorts included are: Buried Loot Alibi Racket Desert Death Thrill for Thelma, A Hit and Run Driver Perfect Setup, The Fool Proof Public Pays Torture Money It May Happen to You Soak the Poor Give Till It Hurts Behind the Criminal What Price Safety Miracle Money Come Across Criminal is Born, A They’re Always Caught Think It Over Wrong Way Out, The Money to Loan While America Sleeps Help Wanted Think First Drunk Driving Pound Foolish Know Your Money Jackpot Women in Hiding Buyer Beware Soak the Old You, the People Respect the Law Forbidden Passage Coffins on Wheels Sucker List Don’t Talk For the Common Defense Keep ‘Em Sailing Plan for Destruction Patrolling the Ether Easy Life Dark Shadows Fall Guy, The Last Installment, The Phantoms, Inc. Gun in His Hand, A Purity Squad Luckiest Guy in the World, The EC: Eyes of the Navy.

Book Review “The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime”

Author: Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When you think about the comic book duo Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, you just think of a match made in heaven. There wasn’t a genre that the two couldn’t conquer. This compilation delves into the Simon & Kirby Library containing thirty-two stories original published from 1947-49, and two from 1954 & 1955. There are over 300 pages of comics included in this book. The republished comics looks very crisp and just flipping the pages just shows the colorful richness of these stories.

Since there are over thirty titles included, they come from various different platform. There are four stories from 1947’s “Clue Comics”, six from 1947’s “Real Clue Crime Stories”, “Headline Comics” dating from 1947-48 contains the most comics with thirteen, dating from 1947-49 “Justice Traps the Guilty” packs nine comics and lastly two comics from “Police Trap” dating back to 1954-1955. If all those comics aren’t enough for you there is also a spectacular full page cover gallery, including 13 covers.  All in all very impressive and great stories included in this set.

Each story last less than 15 pages at most are short like most 40-50’s serials. The color on the comics are just phenomenal Titans Books did an excellent job restoring these comics on this release and really catered to the fans. Wrapping up this great book is a great introduction by “Road to Perdition” author “Max Allan Collins. His introducing is very insightful and interesting. It also gets you pumped to continue to the next page. If you are a fan of Simon and Kirby, this is a must for your collection.

 

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