All posts by alanwp

Kids learn about the right way to eat (and have good manners!) in the nifty “Fellow in Yellow”

It’s a perfect day, brimming with a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds. Then a young boy spots a man wearing a yellow suit, walking down the sidewalk carrying and enjoying a huge piece of pie and an oversized cookie in his bare hands. A pie in the sky moment?

Nope.

The boy’s curiosity sparks a conversation with the man. The boy is  surprised, almost shocked, as the man tells the boy about his unique, peculiar and–gulp! unhealthy–eating habits. (Neither the boy nor man have names; part of the book’s universal appeal.)

Such food for thought is the main dish of David Duncan’s debut book Fellow in Yellow (Amazon.com Services LLC, $9.99), a nifty book whose rhyming text whimsically helps young readers ages 3-9 understand  the importance of a healthy diet and good manners.

A sampling of the prose: You’re a kid,
my diet won’t do.
You should eat your
fruits and veggies too!

The tasty lessons are accompanied by oodles of captivating illustrations by Patrick Carlson.

We think of Fellow in Yellow as a delicious dessert (and no calories!) that needs to be on every parents menu. Kids are sure to ask Mom and Dad to read the story again and again, savoring its humor and amusing images.

Duncan serves up another extra: A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa , Florida.

Hungry for more about the author? Visit facebook.com/davidduncanbooks and davidduncanbooks.com 

The Best Simon & Schuster Books You Must Read During the Pandemic, Part 1

Open. Shut. The pandemic continues to drive us crazy.
And for those who have gotten sick, the suffering and frustration and anger and confusion refuses to end.

So we decided to start a new chapter in this pandemic nightmare.

We decided to read. More often. More books.

And when we say “read”, we mean physical books. Audio books have a place (in the car), but electronic versions read on tablets and Kindles and sundry doodads are major no-nos. True bibliophiles want to hold a book, smell a book, rifle through the pages and bask in a momentary breeze.

And so we read.

Choices on our “must-read” list . . .

The Buddhist on Death Row:  How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place (Simon & Schuster, $27)
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama gushes, “This book shows vividly how, even in the face of the greatest adversity, compassion and a warm-hearted concern for others bring peace and inner strength”, you know you are holding an important book.

book coverGreat book, great lessons. In 1981, when he was 19, Jarvis Jay Masters was imprisoned at San Quentin and then accused of murdering a prison guard five years later. A criminal investigator offered to teach him breathing exercises to help him deal with the rage, anxiety and panic as he prepared for his trial. Figuring he had nothing to lose, he tried meditating and likened it to the George Clinton lyric, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.”

Masters transformed his outlook and became a bodhisattva—someone dedicated to reducing others’ suffering. He lives with the threat of execution everyday,  yet he makes the most out of confinement. Though not a Buddhist himself, author David Sheff learned a multitude of lessons from all the time he’s spent with Masters. They are shared with readers; to research the book, Sheff made more than 200 trips to death row, visiting Masters almost every week in Tuesdays with Morrie fashion, recorded more than 150 hours of conversations. Sheff also spoke on the phone with Masters for countless hours.

This is a profound book about one man’s capacities for learning, enduring, and ultimately, inspiring others—capacities we all share.


Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World (Simon & Schuster, $27)
New history is made every day, but we never forget events that shattered the world. August 6 marked the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bombing.  Fallout exposes how the U.S. government engaged in the biggest cover-up of the 20th century by suppressing the truth about the full effects of atomic weapons and radiation poisoning after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki until journalist John Hersey blew the lid off the narrative.
book cover
Garnering praise from noted voices including Carl Bernstein, Dan Rather, Adam Gopnik and former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, the book serves as a timely reminder of the essential role of journalism to save lives when the world is threatened by a global existential crisis. It also is a call for remembrance and deterrence in regard to nuclear warfare. Right now, the Doomsday Clock reads: 100 seconds to midnight according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—midnight being nuclear annihilation. This setting is closer than the world has ever been to doomsday before, even during the height of the Cold War.


A Private Cathedral (Simon & Schuster, $28)
In James Lee Burke’s 40th (!), beloved Detective Dave Robicheaux must battle the most terrifying adversary he has ever encountered: A time-traveling superhuman assassin.

A Private Cathedral - A Dave Robicheaux Novel ebook by James Lee Burke

Mixing crime, romance, mythology, horror and science fiction, the book is a captivating story about the all-consuming, all-conquering power of love.  to give away any more would ruin the mysteries . . . and horror.


Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness (Simon & Schuster, $28)
Inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s crusading environmental legacy and troubled by the fight that still wages today over America’s public lands, acclaimed nature writer David Gessner takes to the road.

book cover

Roosevelt’s life guides Gessner along a wilderness road trip through America’s national parks and wild places. He travels to the Dakota badlands where Roosevelt awakened as a naturalist; to Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon where Roosevelt escaped during the grind of his reelection tour; and finally, to Bears Ears, Utah, a monument proposed by Native Tribes that is embroiled in a national conservation fight.

Along the way, Gessner questions and reimagines Roosevelt’s vision for today in a profound meditation on our environmental legacy and future. Part travelogue, part environmental clarion call and part biography of one of America’s greatest conservationists, the book has been praised by Robert Redford, who says,it’s a “rallying cry in the age of climate change”.


Reaganland: America’s Right Turn 1976-1980 (Simon & Schuster, $40)
Over two decades, Rick Perlstein has published three definitive works about the emerging dominance of conservatism in modern American politics. With the saga’s final installment, he has delivered yet another stunning literary and historical achievement. In late 1976, Ronald Reagan was dismissed as a man without a political future: defeated in his nomination bid against a sitting president of his own party, blamed for President Gerald Ford’s defeat, too old to make another run.

book cover

His comeback was fueled by an extraordinary confluence: fundamentalist preachers and former segregationists reinventing themselves as militant crusaders against gay rights and feminism; business executives uniting against regulation in an era of economic decline; a cadre of secretive “New Right” organizers deploying state-of-the-art technology, bending political norms to the breaking point—and Reagan’s own unbending optimism, his ability to convey unshakable confidence in America as the world’s “shining city on a hill.”


Chasing Chopin: A Musical Journey Across Three Centuries, Four Countries, and a Half-Dozen Revolutions (Simon & Schuster, $27)
The Frédéric Chopin Annik LaFarge presents here is not the sickly figure so often portrayed. The artist she discovered is, instead, a purely independent spirit: An innovator who created a new musical language, an autodidact who became a spiritually generous, trailblazing teacher, a stalwart patriot during a time of revolution and exile.book cover

LaFarge follows in his footsteps during the years, 1837-1840, when he composed his iconic “Funeral March”—dum dum da dum—using its composition story to illuminate the key themes of his life. LaFarge visited piano makers, monuments, churches, and archives; she talked to scholars, jazz musicians, video game makers, software developers, music teachers, theater directors and of course dozens of pianists.

Dare we say: True music to our eyes!

Kids in quarantine? The welcome and wondrous “Ants Don’t Talk, Do They?” will help them start a new chapter in the “new normal”

We almost bugged out when we realized a new and good . . . a new and very good . . . kids’ book was being released tomorrow!  How did this happen? Do we blame spam? Laziness? The pandemic? We’ll blame all of them, though we do wish important emails that live in  our unwelcome underground go to . . .

Spam should be against the law, which brings us to British lawyer/author John Sharer,  who now brings us to Ants Don’t Talk, Do They? (Wompetias Press, $18.95/$10.95), the warm and welcoming story of Chet, a lonely boy who, because he has a contagious  illness, has to stay in his room. By himself. All day every day. For month after month.

Chet keeps busy by daydreaming and playing games on his tablet.  One day an ant walked across the screen. It looked like an ordinary insect, but over several weeks, Chet learned this was not an ordinary ant. It talked! It did wondrous and  magical things! It was kind and gentle, actions which really helped Chet overcome his loneliness and boredom, helped him stay engaged and, of course,  get well. The most important lesson he learned? Not to take anything before being quarantine for granted . . . especially when he’s able to return to his friends, family and school.

Indeed, such adventures didn’t bug out Chet. But what would you do if an ant started talking to you? Would you faint? Run from the room? Or, gulp!, stomp on the little creature? No need to worry: Talking ants—officially known as member of the special club  ASK (Ants for Sick Kids)—only visit and interact with children who are ill and contagious and who must be quarantined from others.

We told you such talking ants was anything but ordinary!

With warmth and humor, Ants Don”t Talk, Do They?  will capture the imagination of kids during these extraordinary and sometimes challenging times. And the illustrations by Jay Mazhar are simply delightful! This amusing and lighthearted tale offers a very relatable situation for children—and adults—as we all begin to reemerge from months of staying at home to a “new normal”.

Think of this as a gift parents, grandparents and “ants” and uncles, should give to restless and bored little ones.

Learn more about the author and book @ johnhsharer.com

An “Outback” urban legend comes to life . . . as alive as the snakes and scorpions and wild dogs

Even the DVD cover scares us.
Outback tells the terrifying tale of a young couple lost in the wilderness and fighting for survival. Wade and Lisa head to Australia hoping to recharge their failing romance. When their GPS fails, they leave their car and head off on foot to find a new route. As night falls, they must spend the night in the bush without food, water or weapons, surrounded by snakes, scorpions and wild dogs. Now, one decision could mean the difference between life. And certain death.
Drop image here
A unique spin on the wilderness survival thriller, Outback has just arrived on DVD, Digital and On Demand from Lionsgate. The lengths people go to save their loved ones are portrayed in a tragically touching way as time is quickly running out for a stranded couple. By the way, the film is based on a true story. Outback legend.

Expect chills and thrills in the pulse-pounding global spy thriller, “Legacy-of Lies”

Scott Adkins stars in the explosive action-thriller Legacy of Lies, arriving on DVD, Digital, and On Demand July 28th from Lionsgate. This political espionage thriller follows a former assassin (Adkins) who is pulled back into the dangerous world he hoped he’d left behind

A decade ago, agent Martin Baxter quit MI6 after his wife’s tragic murder in an operation gone wrong. But when Sacha, a beautiful journalist, asks for help solving an old case, Martin finds himself in the crosshairs of both UK and Russian intelligence. Now, with his daughter held captive by the KGB, Martin has just 24 hours to deliver the secret case files—which means risking both Sacha’s life and his own.

Expect chills and thrills in this pulse-pounding global spy-thriller.

Mel Gibson delivers a knock-out performance as he deals with a Category 5 hurricane in “Force of Nature”

A perfect storm of action is unleashed when Force of Nature premieres, perfectly. On June 30, the film can be caught on Digital and On Demand from Lionsgate; it will also be released on Blu-ray (plus Digital) and DVD.
This is a high-stakes thriller starring Emile Hirsch, Kate Bosworth and Mel Gibson. David Zayas, Stephanie Cayo, and Will Catlett also star.

What’s the fuss?

This edge-of-your-seat action-thriller explodes during a violent Category 5 hurricane. As disgraced cop Cardillo (Hirsch) races to evacuate an apartment building, he comes across Dr. Troy (Bosworth)and her retired detective father, Ray (Gibson). When a murderous gang of thieves arrives to rob a wealthy tenant, they must join forces to battle the criminals and escape with their lives before the entire city is deep underwater.
We did edge-of-your-seat!

Four kids. A visit to the beach. A floppy-eared creature that grants their wishes. Welcome to “Four Kids and It”.

Brady Bunch fans will relist Four Kids and It, a heartwarming story about a newly blended family getting to know one another amidst extraordinary and magical circumstances.  Catch it on June 30  the flick will be available on Digital, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand, including major digital platforms including will be available on Digital, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand, including major digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, and others. will be available on Digital, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand, including major digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime and Vudu.

The flick is a charming and whimsical story features a star-studded cast including Paula Patton, Matthew Goode and Russell Brand, as well as and the voice of Michael Caine. Based on iconic children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s novel, the story is a modern twist based on E. Nesbit’s 1902 classic Five Children and It. The brood of kids? Four talented youngsters: Teddie Malleson-Allen, Ashley Aufderheide, Billy Jenkins and Ellie-Mae Siame.
On a seaside holiday,K But there’s a catch: the kids’ adventures in rock-climbing, pop stardom, and flying end promptly at sunset—leaving them in danger each time. Can they learn to control the magic before something dreadful happens?

Surviving the days during the pandemic? “Survive the Night” is well worth the wait

The pandemic keeps us waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Wait some more. For a good reason. On July 21, from an executive producer of Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard, comes the tense home invasion thriller Survive the Night, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital) and DVD July 21 from Lionsgate. This film is currently available On Demand.

Bruce Willis drives the action in this gripping home-invasion thriller with lots of shocking twists and turns.  After two brothers commit a robbery that goes wrong, one of them, Mathias, is mortally wounded, forcing sibling Jamie to stalk a trauma doctor named Rich (Chad Michael Murray) from the hospital to his home. While holding Rich’s wife and daughter hostage, Jamie forces Rich to operate on Mathias. For the family to survive the night, Rich must team up with his estranged tough-as-nails father, retired sheriff Frank (Willis), in order to gain the upper hand and turn the tables on the criminals.

“Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations” will happily toss us into another nice mess!

They are, without a doubt, the greatest comedy team to have ever graced the big screen. The laughs! The slapstick shenanigans! The  homoerotic moments. (No, Ollie and Stan were not gay . . . but think back: They slept in one bed. Stan was married four times; Ollie three time.)
But it’s the laughs and slapstick and laughs and slapstick that we remember after all these years. (L&H made 106 films as a team, including guest appearances.
How did Stan and Ollie get together in the first place? They had appeared together by chance in an earlier film called The Lucky Dog, but it was not until each had joined Hal Roach that their teaming began.

Their first screen appearance in “The Lucky Dog”

Stanley and Ollie were appearing in the same films at Roach when director/supervisor Leo McCarey recognized the comic contrast between them and encouraged their teamwork. They first appeared in something resembling their eventual format in a 1927 release called Duck Soup.

And oh, by the way, Hardy’s most famous catchphrase is often misquoted, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into.” The incorrect “another fine mess” comes from the name of one of their short films, made in 1930.
So beloved that many of the available copies are blurred dupes printed from worn-out negatives. Now, the best of their short comedies and two of their finest features have been fully restored and collected in Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations (MVD Entertainment Group).  Save the date: The set goes on sale June 16.
This is, so far, the most exciting news about a DVD release this year.
These new prints, 2K and 4K transfers from the finest original 35mm materials in the world, look and sound as spectacular as when they were first released. Just how great are these prints?

“It’s no exaggeration to say that the films haven’t looked this good since they were first released in the ’30s'”, gushes Leonard Maltin.

Check out the clips below!

Other reasons you must own this set: There are world premieres of the L&H legendary “pie fight” from their 1927 silent film The Battle of the Century; here it makes makes its video debut after being “lost” for 90 years! Want more? There’s also That’s That!, the only reel of L&H bloopers and out-takes.
The set contains the classic shorts Berth Marks, Brats, Hog Wild, Come Clean, One Good Turn, Helpmates, Scram!, Their First Mistake, County Hospital, The Chimp, Towed in a Hole, Twice Two, Me and My Pal, The Midnight Patrol, Busy Bodies, The Music Box (which won the first Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Comedy in 1932); also included are their two best feature-length films, Sons of the Desert and Way Out West.
Not enough? There are eight hours of exclusive extras, including 2,500 rare photos and studio documents; audio and film interviews with L&H co-workers; original music tracks and trailers; and a full restoration of their one surviving color film, The Tree in a Test Tube.
Well, here’s another nice mess they’ve gotten us into!

 

Could there be a more goofy horror hybrid than “Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary”?

You gotta love any film with a title more catchy that Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, the 1966 low-budget western/horror hybrid.
And we found it: Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary.
You gotta wait until March 10 when Dark Sky Films unleashes the gem.
And we loved it much more than Jesse and Frank’s daughter.
Looking for an easy way to internet stardom, a quartet of self-proclaimed ghost hunters take an assignment at a local school to rid its halls of the newly unleashed spirit of “Bloody Mary.” But despite their efforts to stage the perfect supernatural hoax, the group discovers instead that the ghost is very real and very much out for blood. Enlisting all of the ragtag help they can get, the four must find a way to turn their skills as charlatans into skills for survival in order to combat the ghost and save the day.

In the spirit of Peter Jackson’s earliest work, Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary is an exercise in hilariously bad taste, featuring gratuitous sex, violence, profanity and one seriously pissed-off ghost.  Dani Calabresa, Léo Lins, Danilo Gentili and Murilo Couto star in this outrageous and unforgettable film.
Trust us.