Book Reviews “ArtFolds: Christmas Memories”

Age Range: 8 and up
Grade Level: 2 and up
Series: ArtFolds Color Editions (Book 3)
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Reader’s Digest
Release Date: September 30, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Before receiving this I was not sure what to expect from an ArtFolds book but this is definitely more can just a book. “ArtFolds: Christmas Memories” includes instructions that show you how to fold each page to transform this book into a very amazing colorful Christmas Tree sculpture. Seriously! You fold the book and it ends up being a beautiful piece of art. The only downfall is that this is a one-timer. Once you complete the fold, it is art and cannot be redone. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the next edition of this series.

Official Premise: An ArtFolds book is a hardcover book that is transformed into a unique paper sculpture merely by folding pages, based on our exclusive, patent-pending instructions. The process is fun and easy and takes surprisingly little time, making it as appropriate for children as it is for adults. Color Editions feature a lovely palette of shades that make a vibrant and eye-catching work of art. Each Color Edition includes some fun and compelling reading that matches its art theme. In “ArtFolds: Christmas Memories”, readers can enjoy classic quotations, poems and lyrics that capture the magic of Christmas.

 

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Seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels In The Walt Disney World Resort In Florida Offering Enticing “Make Some Memories Rates”

Provide An Appealing Way to Take In Such Upcoming Events As Night of Joy, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, The Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival and the Eat To The Beat Concert Series at Epcot®
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (August 2014) – There is still time to make plans to experience the special events being conducted at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Central Florida this summer and fall, such as Night of Joy, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, and the Eat To The Beat Concert Series at Epcot®. A great way to experience these events, and/or to check out the recently expanded New FantasylandTM at Magic Kingdom® Park, is by taking advantage of the special “Make Some Memories Rates” that are being offered by the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotelsthrough October 31, 2014.

In addition to their ideal location an easy walk to the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at theDowntown Disney® Area, these seven Official Walt Disney World® Hotels also provide complimentary shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to all four Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, two water parks, and to the Downtown Disney® area. As a bonus, guests at these hotels also receive the “2014 Downtown Disney Deals” booklet that features exclusive discounts and specials from over 30 merchants on Downtown Disney® area dining, entertainment and shopping.

 Available for stays through October 31, 2014, the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels’ “Make Some Memories Rates” are: 

 For more information on the “Make Some Memories Rates,” or to make a reservation, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com/pr-make-some-memories, specifically.  Rates are based on availability and some blackout dates may apply. The rates do not include the Resort Services Fee or daily parking fee (if applicable), taxes or gratuities. The offer is not valid with any other special offers, promotions, existing reservations, or for groups.

 Taking advantage of the special rates also will enable you to enjoy such other benefits of staying at one of the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels as: 

  • Disney tickets available to purchase at each hotel
  • Advance tee times and discounts at all Walt Disney World® golf courses
  • Disney Merchandise store located in each hotel
  • The ability to book advance dining and dinner show reservations for all restaurants across the Walt Disney World® Resort.

Special events at the Walt Disney World® Resort include:

  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – select nights September 1-October 31, 2014, at Magic Kingdom® Park
  • Night of Joy – September 5-6, 2014, at Magic Kingdom® Park
  • Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival Presented by Chase® — Sept. 19-November 10, 2014, at Epcot®.
  • Eat To The Beat Concert Series – September 19-November 10, 2014, at Epcot®
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – now open at Magic Kingdom® Park

In addition to these special events you also could take in the wonders of the recently expanded New Fantasyland, which is the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom® Park. It offers more immersive enchantment and interactive experiences, and features two new themed areas: Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. Enchanted Forest attractions and experiences include Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid; Be Our Guest Restaurant; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Ariel’s Grotto; Gaston’s Tavern; and the crowning jewel of New Fantasyland Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Storybook Circus attractions include: The Barnstormer; Dumbo The Flying Elephant; Casey Jr Splash ‘N’ Soak Station; Pete’s Silly Sideshow; andFantasyland Station.

Among the many coupons featured in the “2014 Downtown Disney Deals” booklet are discounts at Rainforest Café, T-Rex, Wolfgang Puck Express, Steve Baker Caricatures, Lego Imagination Center, Planet Hollywood Downtown Disney®, House of Blues® Restaurant, La NoubaTM by Cirque du Soleil®, Bongo’s Cuban Café®, and Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop.

“This is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World® Resort,” said Steve Garner, chairperson of the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels’ marketing committee. “The attendance at the theme parks is often lighter, and all of the special events at the Walt Disney World® Theme Parks are wonderful. Taking advantage of the special ‘Make Some Memories Rates’ is a great way to experience the many offerings of the Walt Disney World® Resort.”

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels (www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com) is a consortium of seven hotels located in the Walt Disney World® Resort that includes: the stylish B Resort & Spa, opened in June 2014 with 394 newly renovated guest rooms and suites, the full-service B Indulged® by AVEDA spa (opening in September 2014), and a zero-entry pool; the 18-story Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, surrounded by 12 acres of lush tropical landscaping, and offering 325 spacious rooms and suites, and complimentary WiFi; the newly renovated and sophisticated Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, featuring 1,014 guest rooms and suites, a 10,000-square-foot spa, three pools, and five restaurants and lounges; the luxurious and spacious 229-suite Doubletree Suites by Hilton, the only all-suite resort hotel in the Downtown Disney® Resort Area; the deluxe 814-room, full-service Hilton Orlando Resort, featuring seven on-site restaurants and lounges and the new Hilton Fitness by Life Fitness® Center; the Holiday Inn Orlando – Lake Buena Vista, the only Holiday Inn located in the Walt Disney World® Resort Area and featuring elegant rooms with modern Florida décor; and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, featuring 626 guest rooms which each feature a refrigerator), the Oasis Aquatic Playground with two pools and interactive water features, and six dining options.

With nearly 30 food and beverage outlets and restaurants, more than 3,600 rooms and scores of amenities, the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels offer a rate, space and menu to please every guest. Located in the heart of the Downtown Disney® area, these properties are within walking distance of some of the area’s best shopping, dining and entertainment.

For reservations, or more information, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com/pr-make-some-memories.

 

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Blu-ray Review “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th”

Actors: Corey Feldman, Sean S. Cunningham, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Dana Kimmel
Directors: Daniel Farrands
Producers: Thommy Hutson
Number of discs: 4
Rated: Unrated
Studio: 1428 Films
Release Date: September 13, 2013
Run Time: 400 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Friday the 13” is one of my favorite horror franchises. Jason Voorhees is also one of my favorite horror icon. The films are so fun and have held up so well over the last 30+ years. The franchise has not only consisted of twelve films but also a TV series, books and tons of collectible merchandise. When you factor in all those aspect, “Friday the 13th” becomes much more than a horror series. It actually is more of a pop-culture phenomenon, which has been over three decades. This is not the first documentary on the films and won’t be the last but it is definitely one of the best, especially alongside others like “His Name is Jason”. When you read the title of this film, it is not taking lightly it’s title…it is “The Complete History of Friday the 13th”. Did I mention that this is 400 minutes long…take a sec and do the math…yes, that nearly seven hours long. This is not a joke. It is a hardcore documentary for a hardcore “Friday the 13th” fan.

Official Premise: Inspired by the critically-acclaimed book, “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th” takes viewers behind the mask on an epic journey into the making of the landmark horror franchise — from its humble beginnings in 1980 at a New Jersey summer camp to the blockbuster release of its 2009 “reboot.” Combining hundreds of rare and never-before-seen photographs, film clips, outtakes, archival documents, conceptual art and behind-the-scenes footage, and featuring interviews with more than 150 cast and crew members spanning all twelve films and the television series, “Crystal Lake Memories” is the ultimate tribute to one of horror’s most iconic and enduring franchises.

So being a huge fan of this franchise, I was really taken back by the fact that this documentary reached out to so many people who have been involved with the series over the year. This also included a bunch of people who have never appeared in camera interviews, which is a mega plus. A few of the great talent who participated with this doc includes Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, Tom Savini, Sean S. Cunningham, Derek Mears, Betsy Palmer, Wes Craven, Ken Kirzinger, Robert Shaye and Alice Cooper, along with many more. “Crystal Lake Memories” is written and directed by Daniel Farrands and produced by Thommy Hutson. This is the same team who also delivered us the amazing “A Nightmare on Elm Street” documentary, “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy”. These guys deserve an award for all the word that they put into this doc.

1428 Films released this film as a combo pack with the documentary spread out over two Blu-rays and two DVDs. The 1080p transfer with it’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio works well with the interviews and footage from the films. I was a little bit let down to see that the audio track included was only a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is not really screaming Blu-ray quality but it worked for the most part. In terms of special features, there are not any additional extras besides a commentary track. But wait a sec…the commentary track is insane a must watch for any true “Friday the 13th” fan. It includes director Daniel Farrands, author Peter M. Bracke, and editor Luke Rafalowski throughout all seven hours. I remember seeing a photo on Facebook of the trio after recording this track and it just shows how much love went into it. Must listen for any fan and a great companion to the documentary.

Book Review “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard” (Expanded Edition)

Author: Matt Taylor
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Expanded Edition
Release Date: September 25, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Are you a “Jaws” fan? Are you looking for a great coffee table book? Then look no further “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard”, is the ultimate coffee table book. This book is no joke and is guaranteed to satisfy every fan of the film. This 312 page book, takes you into the making of “Jaws”, which was shot on Martha’s Vineyard in Summer/Fall of 1974. This has to be one of the best behind-the-scenes experiences that have been published in book form to date. I was aware of this book coming years before it was released and during its early conceptual stages. Since then it has really expanded well beyond what it was originally suppose to be and this expanded 2nd edition only makes this book even better. Be sure to check the “Thank You” section on the last page to see a few names from the Media Mikes family, as well!

Synopsis: The filming of the blockbuster film Jaws is regarded as a landmark event in both the history of motion pictures and the quaint New England island of Martha’s Vineyard, where the geographic isolation necessitated the hiring of hundreds of locals to work as actors and laborers. Among this virtual army of hometown participants were numerous professional and amateur photographers, each with full access to the production’s inner workings—for the first time ever this compiles their behind-the-scenes photographs and stories into a treasure trove of Jaws rarities. Included are a foreword by director Steven Spielberg, interviews with production designer Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, location casting director Shari Rhodes, and more, providing an unprecedented all-access pass to the creation of some of the most memorable and terrifying scenes in film history. This unique compendium is the first to focus on the production’s local participants, telling their stories at last.

The first edition of this great book was originally released in October of 2011. Titan Books is behind re-releasing this expanded second edition and did a great job (as usual!). I have to say I was skeptical about the expansion but this is actually quite decent consisting of an additional 16 pages of newly uncovered family photos and excerpts from the community that participated in the making of Jaws whether they were extras, stage hands or just watching bystanders.   After the initial release for this book, I am surprised that their isn’t more of a push for this edition, especially since there is a bunch of new pages and Universal’s just released ” Jaws” on Blu-ray this summer.  As a killer “Jaws” fan myself, I have to say that this is must even if you have the first edition of “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard”.  You will not regard your purchase for sure, I mean especially if you have more than one coffee table to fill.

 

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Book Review “Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook: Models, Artwork and Memories from 65 Years of Filmmaking”

Author(s): Ray Harryhausen, Tony Dalton
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Aurum Press
Release Date: May 1, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Ray Harryhausen is such a legend and the creator of so many film special effects that were pre-CGI. Some of the classic films he is known for are “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”, “Clash of the Titans”, “Jason and the Argonauts” and “One Million Years BC”. This book is a must for Harryhausen fans. More importantly this book is authored by Harryhausen himself, so you know that it is the most accurate and up close and personal information available. It is co-authored by Tony Dalton, who has known Ray for more than 30 years. He worked on the publicity for such iconic films such as “The Omen”, “Star Wars”, and “The Towering Inferno”. To sum up, if you are looking for a rare look into Harryhausen work, then look no further than this book.

Showcased in this book are some really amazing never-before-seen film artifacts, which were recently discovered in a garage in Los Angeles. The aspect of this books that I enjoyed the most are various outtake prints from his films, early concept drawings and storyboards.  There is also a lot of personal artifacts such as written letters, production budgets, and even a diary which describes Ray’s first meeting with his mentor Willis O’Brien.  I am fan of production art and there is some really cool publicity posters and rare brochures included also.  A lot of the images included are kind-of raw and provide a unique look into this amazing era of filmmaking. It also covers all of the films that he worked on and even from some projects which where never made like Harryhausen’s version of “War of the Worlds”. I could imagined that film would have been awesome.

Since this is formed in nature of a scrapbook, it really creates an amazing visual journey. The book is setup so beautifully that it is hard to turn the page. Each page feels like a work of art and a lot of love has gone into each one. The images are also extremely vibrant and colorful. If you are a fan of these films you will really jump at the chance to get an inside look into some of these productions whether it is rare pages from the scripts and productions. Also to top off this amazing book is an amazing foreword from writer/director John Landis.  Kudos to Aurum Press on releasing another impressive book covering the work of Harryhausen.

CD Review: James Durbin “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”

James Durbin
“Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”
Wind-Up
Producer: Howard Benson
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Memories of a Beautiful Disaster” is the first release from American Idol: Season 10 contestant James Durbin. The album is being released via Wind-Up records and features 11 original tracks produced by Howard Benson. The iTunes digital version of “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster” features two additional bonus tracks not included on the CD release.

Not being a fan of “American Idol” I am at times a little unfamiliar with those involved with the show. In this case I had heard of James Durbin but I still wasn’t too sure what to expect from his album. Upon my first listen I was immediately drawn in. “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster” features a collection of songs in a variety of styles all of which seem to really fit Durbin’s voice perfectly. Tracks such as “Everything Burns” the hard rocking “Higher Than Heaven” and “Outcast” featuring Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars were definitely personal favorites. The album has a great flow while showcasing producer Howard Benson’s keen ear. Fans of “American Idol” will definitely want to pick this album for their collections. While those not familiar with the show or with James’s work will also want to check this album out as it really is great piece of work and has a little something for everyone.

Track Listing:
1.) Higher Than Heaven
2.) All I Want
3.) Love In Ruins
4.) Right Behind You
5.) Love Me Bad
6.) Deeper
7.) May
8.) Screaming
9.) Outcast
10.) Everything Burns
11.) Stand Up
12.) Liberate (ITunes Bonus)
13.) Back For More (ITunes Bonus)

Also be sure to check out our interview with James Durbin located in the interview portion of the site.