Buddy’s Halloween Adventure Offers Plenty Of Family Friendly Frights And More

 

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

PBS Kids’ new Dinosaur Train DVD Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure is yet another wonderful addition to any child’s Halloween party this year.  The DVD, which is just the latest of the series’ compilations to be released this year, offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages.  The first and most important aspect in the enjoyment of this collection of episodes is the writing behind each of its episodes.  The series’ writers have expertly balanced the series’ educational content with its more entertaining side once again in this collection.  Another reason that families will enjoy this new DVD is its animation.  Because the shorts included in this collection take place in fall settings, the colors seem even more vivid than in previously released Dinosaur Train DVDs.  Last but not least of all worth noting is the inclusion once again of more activities and coloring pages for the whole family to enjoy together as bonus material.  All three factors are impressive in their own right.  Collectively, they make Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure a great addition to any family’s Halloween festivities this year.

The main point of success in Dinosaur TrainBuddy’s Halloween Adventure is its writing.  Once again, the series’ writers have balanced expertly the series’ educational side with its more entertaining side. Included in this collection of episodes are two fall-themed episodes and a pair of Halloween-themed episodes.  The Halloween-themed episodes are totally family friendly.  Parents especially will enjoy seeing the Pteranodon kids go to the *ooohhhh* haunted roundhouse where the Dinosaur Train is kept.  That’s because the party going on in the roundhouse includes lots of activities that are universal and timeless.  There are decorations of course.  There are also little things like having guests reach into a large pot for some creature’s eyes, etc.  Of course it isn’t that, as the conductor assures the kids.  Along the way, the kids meet a new nocturnal friend and learn more about nocturnal creatures.  The kids also learn about nocturnal creatures in the DVD’s opening episode “Night Train.”  Neither episode is too scary for younger audiences. And both episodes offer plenty of interesting educational content, too.  “Fossil Fred” and “Big Pond Pumpkin” are both welcome additions to the DVD, too.  Both episodes are specifically fall-themed episodes in which the kids learn about more kinds of dinosaurs.  All the while, the episodes get young viewers into a fall mindset, getting them excited about the change in the weather and going out to pick pumpkins, etc. That balance of education is just as prevalent in these shorts as in the previous pair mentioned.  And together, all four shorts make for plenty of family friendly viewing as Halloween gets near.  For that matter, all four episodes are just as great a choice for any family’s kid friendly Halloween party.

The writing behind the shorts included on PBS Kids’ new Dinosaur Train do more than their own share in terms of making the DVD a welcome addition to any family’s Halloween festivities this year.  Not to be ignored in this collection is the “animation” of each episode.  While the animation is the same, what stands out in terms of that animation is the use of color in each short.  Those familiar with Dinosaur Train know that while some of the series’ episodes take place at night, those episodes are far outnumbered by the episodes that take place in the daytime.  So seeing episodes that take place at sunset and even in the dark is something somewhat different than other episodes.  The show’s animators obviously went to great lengths to make the colors match the episodes’ settings.  And that work paid off, too.  Little things like the way the sunlight and moonlight work against the characters and the backdrops make the scenes so rich visually.  Even little things like the pumpkins in “Big Pond Pumpkin” were given their own special detail and coloring. The use of color against the light and dark in “Night Train” is another good example of that work.  It shows that the animators didn’t just toss something together and call it done.  They really wanted to give the shorts a feel that was as realistic as possible in terms of its visual effects.  That goal was accomplished quite well.  It proves in the end to be one more prime reason that viewers of all ages will enjoy this new release from PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company.

The writing in each of the episodes on this DVD offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages, just as with every previous Dinosaur Train DVD. The animation stands out even more than ever here because the episodes take place largely at night at dusk.  While nighttime episodes of Dinosaur Train aren’t completely unheard of, they are far less prevalent than the regular daytime episodes.  It’s something minor.  But it is important nonetheless to the overall presentation’s enjoyment.  Last but not least of all that makes this DVD another hit for every family is its bonus material.  Included as bonus material on this DVD, is a great lesson from the episode “Dinosaurs A to Z.”  Parents can print out a chart with the names of the dinosaurs introduced on “Dinosaurs A to Z” in this activity and use it in conjunction with a group of index cards also containing the names of said dinosaurs on one side and letters of the alphabet on the other.  It is a dual lesson of sorts that makes the overall viewing experience even more enjoyable for the while family.  There are also printable coloring pages for the kids.  These bonuses collectively serve as one more positive factor to the overall presentation that is Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure.  Together with the episodes’ writing and their animation, audiences of all ages get one more wonderfully enjoyable addition to any family’s Halloween party and DVD collection in general.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure offers plenty of enjoyment for viewers of all ages.  It is a great tool for any parent looking to give kids a safe and fun Halloween memory this year.  The episodes themselves offer plenty of kid friendly frights and fun.  They also offer wonderfully crafted animation that is rarely seen from other episodes of Dinosaur Train.  And the bonuses offer their own entertaining and educational content for kids and parents alike.  Each factor plays its own part in the overall success and enjoyment of this DVD.  Together, they make it even more proof of why Dinosaur Train remains one of PBS Kids’ most beloved series and why any family will welcome this DVD whether on Halloween or any other time of the year.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered online now direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=42447476&cp=&kw=dinosaur+train+buddys+halloween+adventure&origkw=Dinosaur+Train+Buddy%27s+Halloween+Adventure&sr=1.  Kids and parents can check out even more episodes of Dinosaur Train and play Dinosaur Train games online now at http://pbs.org/dinosaurtrain.  Families can also keep up with the latest Dinosaur Train updates online via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DinosaurTrain.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bee People Will Leave A Sweet Taste In Viewers’ Mouths

Courtesy:  Truemind/Entertainment One

Courtesy: Truemind/Entertainment One

Entertainment One and Truemind released this week what is one of this year’s more standout documentaries in a piece titled Bee People.  The presentation follows the work of Gregg McMahan aka “The Bee Guru” as he works to spread the word about the importance of backyard beekeeping.  He explains through his various activities the importance of saving bees because they are still very much in danger even today.  He uses a mix of education and bee rescues and relocation in his efforts to help bolster the bee population.  He’s sort of the Billy The Exterminator (see who remembers that show) of the bee world.  Staying on that tip, this is actually the central point of this documentary’s success.  It’s more reality TV on DVD than documentary.  Though there is some documentary element of sorts with the trivia segments that are thrown in.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this program is that being more of a reality TV style presentation than a documentary, it doesn’t come across as just another preachy, overly done presentations that paint a picture of doom and gloom.  Rather it points out all the positives of bees and bee keeping and that anyone of any age can do it, even kids with proper guidance from experienced adults.  The DVD’s bonus segment “Extracting Honey” only runs sixteen minutes.  But it adds its own share of enjoyment to the whole presentation.  It feels like a deleted scene, again adding to the presentation’s feel of being more of a reality show on DVD than an actual documentary.  That’s not a bad thing, either.  If anything, it serves to make this presentation even more enjoyable for audiences.  It makes the presentation that much more enjoyable and worth checking out regardless of whether or not one is that much into the world of bee keeping.  All three of the noted aspects of this presentation do their own part to make it a work that any viewer will appreciate in one way or another.  And together, they make Bee People a “documentary” that will leave any viewer *ahem* buzzing about it in the end.

The core point of success in Bee People—its presentation in general—is also the most noticeable.  The presentation is being marketed primarily as a documentary.  But the reality of it is that it is anything but.  If anything, it more resembles the likes of so much of the reality TV series currently dominating the television spectrum.  The difference is that unlike those series in question, this piece is actually worth watch.  It is so much more enjoyable than most of the reality series out there right now primarily because of its content.  Audiences that might be familiar with A&E’s short-lived series Billy The Exterminator will make an almost instant correlation between the two series.  Billy actually did handle some bee infestations in a couple episodes of his series.  Gregg Mcmahan aka ‘The Bee Guru” is the star of this program.  And he has much the same energy and personality as Billy The Exterminator.  The only difference between the two is that Billy boasted a more outrageous outfit and handled more than just bees.  Other than that, the similarity is nearly a mirror image.  Maybe that’s why it made it so fun and easy for this critic to watch.  Anyone else that is a fan of Billy The Exterminator will find themselves enjoying this program just as much.  It’s a nice breath of fresh air both when compared to all the useless reality TV series out there today and so many other more pure documentaries out there, too.

Bee People stands out both when compared to the mass of reality shows across the television spectrum today and among the other, more pure documentaries that are out there right now.  That sole factor makes this presentation well worth the watch by viewers of any age.  Making the program even more enjoyable for viewers is it doens’t try to paint the picture of doom and gloom that so many documentaries out there paint.  So many documentaries are in reality no more than overly preachy activist films.  This piece doesn’t do that.  It presents the perils that the world’s bee populations face.  But upon doing so, it shows the concerted efforts being taken by average, everyday people in their efforts to help work with said populations. And even those people don’t try to preach to audiences.  Add in the educational segments here and there, and what audiences get is a presentation that is more real than any reality TV series or any documentary film out there.  Simply put, it’s more substance than schlep, making it even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

Bee People stands out among this year’s documentaries because it is a documentary that isn’t one.  Its use of areality TV series format and its overall content both make it a surprisingly *ahem* sweet presentation (bad pun fully intended.  It’s anything but preachy.  And there’s no foul language at any one point, either.  This all noted, there is still one more aspect of the presentation worth noting that makes it so fun.  That last aspect is the DVD’s bonus deleted scene.  The bonus deleted scene included with the documentary shows the actual process (albeit by a backyard beekeeper) of how honey is extracted from the honeycomb.  It’s difficult to point out what exactly it is about this process that makes it so interesting.  But it is just that interesting.  And seeing an average person “harvesting” the honey in the heart of New York City is makes the process even more awe inspring.  And that sense of awe combined with the program’s general content and its premise collectively make Bee People one of this year’s most underrated documentaries.

Entertainment One and Truemind have together offered up to viewers what is a standout presentation in Bee People.  The film stands out as it isn’t what one thinks of in any way when one thinks of standard documentaries.  From its general premise to its overall look and its bonus deleted scenes, this DVD will leave quite the good *taste in viewers’ mouths.  and yes, those bad puns were fully intended, too.  Bee People is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Truemind’s website at http://disinfo.com/product/bee-people/.  More information on this and other releases from Truemind is available online at http://www.truemind.tv.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Releasing Another New Archived Deep Purple Concert Next Month

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release another new archived live recording from Deep Purple.

Deep Purple With Orchestra Live in Verona will be released Tuesday, October 21st.  The concert was recorded in 2011 at the Area di Verona.  The Arena di Verona is a Roman amphitheatre that was originally constructed in 30 A.D.  The concert features the lineup of Ian Gillan (vocals), Ian Paice (drums), Roger Glover (bass), Steve Morse (guitar), and Don Airey (keyboards).  The band was joined by the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt for the concert, which includes performances of some of Deep Purple’s greatest hits.  Those hits include: ‘Smoke on the Water,’ ‘Lazy,’ ‘Strange Kind of Woman,’ Perfect Strangers,’ ‘Highway Star,’ ‘Woman From Tokyo’ and many others.  The concert’s complete set list is included below.

TRACK LISTING

1) Deep Purple Overture

2) Highway Star

3) Hard Lovin’ Man

4) Maybe I’m A Leo

5) Strange Kind Of Woman

6) Rapture Of The Deep

7) Woman From Tokyo

8) Contact Lost

9) When A Blind Man Cries

10) The Well Dressed Guitar

11) Knocking At Your Back Door

12) Lazy

13) No One Came

14) Don Airey Solo

15) Perfect Strangers

16) Space Truckin’

17) Smoke On The Water

 

Along with the concert’s primary set list, two extra tracks—‘Hush’ and ‘Black Night’—are included as bonuses in the concert’s upcoming release.  Both songs were part of the night’s set list.

Deep Purple With Orchestra Live in Verona will be released both on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, October 21st.  The DVD will retail for MSRP of $14.98 and the Blu-ray for $19.98.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt
Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Born To Race Fast Track Keeps Pace With Universal’s Fast And The Furious Franchise

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

One part The Fast and the Furious, one part Need for Speed and one part Top Gun, the second installment of Anchor Bay Entertainment’s Born to Race franchise is a movie the surprisingly enough holds its own against its bigger-named counterparts.  There’s no getting around the fact that the franchise, which started with Born to Race back in 2011, is not the first of its kind.  Universal beat Anchor Bay to that punch with its massively popular Fast and Furious franchise.  That aside, there is still plenty to enjoy in this latest installment in the Born to Race franchise.  The central point of the movie’s success is its script (I.E. its writing).  Unlike so many other movies backed by major studios out there, the script for this movie rips off neither its predecessor nor its bigger-named brethren.  Another reason that this movie works as well as it does is its pacing.  The movie moves fast.  But it doesn’t move so fast as to leave viewers struggling to keep up with the story.   And last but not least to consider is the movie’s casting.  The movie’s heads wiped the slate clean with this movie, casting a while new list of actors to fill its lead roles.  But those actors still get the job done well enough to keep the movie believable.  These three factors together make Born to Race: Fast Track a movie that despite being an independent release, is a movie that any fan of its genre should see at least once.

The central point of success in Born to Race: Fast Track is its script (I.E. its writing).  There’s no getting around the fact that it is not the first movie of its kind within the race-based action subgenre.  That aside, it actually holds its own surprisingly well against Need for Speed and Universal Studios’ Fast & Furious franchise.  Unlike so many bigger-named movies out there across the genres, Born to Race: Fast Track doesn’t attempt to rip itself off.  Nor does it try to be just another of the aforementioned bigger-named movies in its genre.  The only movie that one could even begin to say it does copy is Tom Cruise’s hit 1986 fighter jet flick Top Gun.  It goes so far as to put lead actor Brett Davern in a pair of aviator sunglasses alongside co-star Beau Mirchoff late in the movie, in a scene that almost directly mirrors one well-known scene from Top Gun.  Even with that blatant lifting, it doesn’t take away from the movie’s overall enjoyment.  As a matter of fact, one could even go so far as to argue that paying such homage to such a classic film without any sense of hamming it up only gives this movie even more credibility.  It would have been so easy for that moment to go overboard.  But it didn’t.  That combined with the fact that the movie’s writers opted to develop a story that didn’t blatantly rip off the Fast & Furious movies makes the movie’s script all the more enjoyable.

The script behind Born to Race’s latest installment is the central point of the movie’s overall enjoyment.  While it obviously does bear quite the semblance to Top Gun in terms of its plot, it doesn’t go so far as to try and be just another Fast & Furious or Need for Speed.  It does at least try to be its own story to a point.  Adding to the movie’s enjoyment is its pacing.  The writing team behind the movie wastes no time setting up the movie’s plot.  And once the plot is established, the writers keep the story moving.  They do so without missing a beat, too.  Most impressive of all is that as fast as the story progresses, it doesn’t move so fast as to leave viewers in its own proverbial dust (bad pun fully intended), wondering what they experienced by the end of the movie’s roughly ninety-minute run time.  It switches gears at all of the right points and never finds itself idling, either.  And yes, both of those bad puns were fully intended, too.  The end result of that smart pacing is a story that movies fast, but not as fast as the cars that take center stage throughout the movie.  Alongside the movie’s solid script, the pacing helps to make Born to Race: Fast Track that much more enjoyable for any fan of all of the racing movies out there.

The pacing of Born to Race: Fast Track’s story and the story itself work together to make the movie one that fans of fast cars will enjoy even with just one watch.  Both elements are important to the movie’s overall success and enjoyment.  There is still one more factor to consider in the movie’s enjoyment.  That factor is the movie’s casting.  The production’s heads wiped the slate clean with this second installment of the franchise.  None of the actors from the franchise’s first movie returned for this installment.  The reason for this happening is anyone’s guess.  It could have been the movie’s heads.  It could have also been that the cast didn’t want to return for a second movie or simply couldn’t due to other commitments.  Regardless, the cast tapped for this movie does its own part to make the movie work.  The new cast members are all quite young.  And most of the cast members are quite well-known in their own right, too.  Lead actor Brett Davern is best known for his time on MTV’s hit series Awkward alongside co-star Beau Mirchoff.  He also has dramatic experience, having acted in bit parts in CSI: Miami, In Plain Sight, and Cold Case.  Mirchoff has also filled roles on CSI: Miami and CBS’ other hit crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  Younger viewers might also recognize him from his work on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place TV movie The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex.  The movie’s other cast members have their own extensive resumes, too.  That collective experience shows through quite well here.  They are actually quite believable in their roles.  That the cast would take its roles with such seriousness even on a flick from an indie studio shows a great deal of respect both for the studio and for audiences.  It also makes suspension of disbelief that much easier for viewers. And in turn, it makes the movie even more worth at least one watch.

The casting of a group of up-and-coming stars for Born to Race: Fast Track and the cast’s seriousness with its roles goes a long way toward making the movie worth at least one watch.  The movie’s script and by connection its pacing add even more value to the overall presentation.  All three factors together make Born to Race: Fast Track a movie that while being an indie release, is one that any fan of movies with fast cars and young stars will enjoy even with just one watch.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s online store at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?ProjectId=d3c94bf6-38e7-e311-877b-d4ae527c3b65.  More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at

Website: http://www.anchorbayent.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Say Hello To Shalom Sesame Again This Fall

Courtesy:  SISU Home Entertainment

Courtesy: SISU Home Entertainment

SISU Home Entertainment will re-issue the Sesame Street series Shalom Sesame next month.

The twelve-episode series is spread across six discs with two episodes on each disc, all of which chronologically follow the Jewish calendar. It all starts with an introduction to Israel and Hebrew. From there, viewers are taken on a trip through the various important dates on the Jewish calendar with the whole thing culminating in a trip taken by beloved Sesame Street resident Grover and guest star Annelies van der Pol (That’s So Raven, Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast). Throughout the trip, the duo highlights the importance and richness of the Jewish culture and its associated traditions. Each half-hour episode pulls from those traditions and culture in general to teach young American audiences about the Jewish community. The episodes include lessons on Hebrew letters and words, unique sites in Israel, and Jewish values.

It was originally released on DVD October 11th, 2011. The new upcoming re-issue will see the series contained in a thin pack gift box, which will retail for MSRP of $99.95. It will include a free bonus DVD that features two episodes from the classic Shalom Sesame series—“Jerusalem” and “People of Israel.” Also included in this upcoming re-issue is a free 30-day trial of download of the program “Welcome to Israel.” That program is the first episode from the original Shalom Sesame series. It is currently available online at http://www.sisudigital.com.

Along with the main series and its bonus DVD, Shalom Sesame also includes a number of bonus features. There is a trailer for another series titled Grover’s Video Player, sing-alongs and a chance for young viewers to do their own karaoke with songs such as ‘Aleph Bet Song,’ ‘’Rosh Hashanah Hannah (a spoof of Disney’s Hannah Montana), and even the most beloved Sesame Street song of all, ‘Rubber Ducky.’ The catch with that final song is that it is done entirely in Hebrew. And Annelies van der Pol is not the only celebrity to make an appearance throughout the series. Fellow celebrities Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Matisyahu, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear, Debi Mazar also make appearances throughout the series.

Shalom Sesame will be available Tuesday, October 14th on DVD. Parents and children can view trailers for the series online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/shalomesesame. More information on Shalom Sesame is available online at
Website: http://www.shalomsesame.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShalomSesame
Parents can also order separate stand-alone episodes of Shalom Sesame online now at http://www.sisuent.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dilated Peoples’ Fifth Full Length LP Is The First Great Rap Album Of 2014

Courtesy:  Rhymesayers Entertainment/Expansion Team

Courtesy: Rhymesayers Entertainment/Expansion Team

Seven years.  That is how long fans of hip-hop trio Dilated Peoples waited and wondered if the group would ever release a new album or if the group—DJ Babu, Evidence, and Rakaa—had called it a career after the release of its 2006 album 20/20.  Now after that long wait, Dilated Peoples has triumphantly returned with a record that is a viable candidate to be one of the top new rap and hip-hop albums of 2014 in Directors of Photography.  The album is aptly titled, especially considering the fact that this record is the first for the group with new label Rhymesayers Entertainment.  Before signing with Rhymesayers, Dilated Peoples’ had released its previous four albums through Capitol Records going all the way back to its major label debut the Platform (2000).  The significance of the album’s title is linked to the possibility that while signed with Capitol, Babu, Evidence, and Rakaa likely didn’t have the control that they would have liked over the sound and feel of their work.  So much like the Director of Photography has the final say in the look and feel of a movie, TV show or advertisement, so did the group have that same kind of control upon signing with the indie label Rhymesayers.  The end result is an album that was well worth the wait for any long-time Dilated Peoples fan and just as welcome a first listen for those that might be new to the L.A.-based trio’s music.

Director of Photography’s lead single ‘Good as Gone’ is a fitting opener, especially considering that fans waited for this album for seven years.  The song comes across as a defiant, self-assured piece that lets the critics know that the group is back just as strong as ever.  That argument can be made by looking at the song’s first verse in which Rakaa raps, “I was getting buried alive/Heard the dirt hit the coffin top/I barely survived/But I broke through my grave/Ripped the pine box seal apart/Head first yelling, “maggot brain,funkadelic art/Fear is a dark side/Fair-weather friends flock/Hitchcock/sam birds scatter when the end stop.”  He goes on to make note through so much negativity, he didn’t let those fake friends and other naysayers get him down.  As he notes, “took heavy fire/Survived the crash landing/Smiled to walk away from the wreckage/The last man standing.”  Evidence seems to echo that sentiment as he raps in the song’s second verse, “Devise a plan and I execute it/Till I’m undisputed/If the record never stated/I’ve been showing most improvement/At a time when my peers declined/I used it as a booster/Used the dedication as a plus/I ain’t used to losers.”  It comes across in the grand scheme of things as a defiant statement that shows that Dilated Peoples is anything but Good as Gone.  If anything, this first impression from the veteran hip-hop trio  gives fans hope that the group’s fifth full length album won’t be its last.

Babu, Rakaa, and Evidence followed up the success of ‘Good as Gone’ just recently with the release of the second single from Directors of Photography, ‘Show Me The Way (ft. Aloe Blacc).’  This seemingly introspective song presents yet another positive message to listeners as Evidence and Rakaa go back and forth in a sort of call and response late in the song.  Evidence starts the cycle, rapping, “It’s routine/By the beach I rise/First up/I hit the 8$&%/Then I bleach my eyes/then it’s to the drum machine to speak my mind/Tracks like fitted hats/pick a beat m y size.’  Rakaa responds “Energized/On the darkest streets I shine/Saw the light up on the mountain/To the peak I climb/Breathtaking new perspectives on the life I grind/First tear of joy fell/Looking like I’m crying/For just a moment.”  Evidence’s response to Rakaa’s line, “The feeling of being content/Not needing a dollar or a cent/Smile for my mama/Cause she proud/The studio/My headphones loud.”  Rakaa finishes the cycle, rapping, “Bridge builders will connect these crowds/Dedicated on my honor/You can check these vows/That’s purpose/Power to make the powerful nervous/Hard work ain’t easy/But usually ain’t worth it.”  Evidence and Rakaa work together here to make a song that is a very lyrically uplifting piece, and a piece that illustrates even more what makes Directors of Photography well worth the listen.

Directors of Photography serve is a record that any hip-hop and rap fan should hear.  The two singles that the album has spawned so far solidly back up that argument.  If only one more song could be chosen as an example of what makes this album the worthwhile listen that it is, it would have to be the album’s second track ‘Cut My Teeth.’  This song comes across as a no nonsense piece that pays homage to the days before Dilated Peoples broke through and became a household name.  The song’s very first verse makes that clear, as Evidence raps, “I remember how it all began/I used to switch graffiti tips on cans with both hands/No chance/I knew they couldn’t stop this rush/Our bus bench was a stop/And they ain’t stopping the bus.”  He goes on to rap about when he really got into rap and where it would eventually lead to today.  Rakaa follows suit noting the difficulties that he faced growing up and how he overcame them.  He writes in the verse’s closing lines, “Standing at the crossroads/I saw a different world was mine/It was with me all the time/Appreciative, never satisfied/Inspired to climb/Eyes wide/Mid city lit that fire inside.”  While the stories crafted by Evidence and Rakaa are obviously quite personal, it could be argued that the positive ending to each story could serve as inspiration to so many audiences; inspiration not necessarily that everyone will get into the rap game.  Rather, inspiration to overcome any of life’s difficult situations.  Their stories remind listeners that as difficult as things might be at any time in life, it is always possible to make life better.  Just keep that positive drive.  It is that message of inspiration that makes ‘Cut My Teeth’ one more solid example of what makes Directors of Photography well worth the listen and potentially one of the best new rap and hip-hop albums of the year.

Directors of Photography is available now in stores and online.  It can be downloaded direct from iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/directors-of-photography/id888406737.  Audiences can hear these songs and plenty more from the group live as it tours in support of its new album.  Dilated Peoples is scheduled to perform live this Saturday, September 13th at Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union on the campus of San Diego State University.  It will follow up that performance with another live show next Saturday, September 20th at Cervantes’ and The Other Side in Denver, Colorado.  Audiences can check out Dilated Peoples’ current tour schedule online now at http://rhymesayers.com/dilatedpeoples and http://www.facebook.com/dilatedpeoples.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Kids Releasing New Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood DVD Gift Set Next Month

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

Officials with PBS announced Tuesday that the network will release a special Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood gift set this fall.

PBS and PBS Kids will release Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays in a special gift set on Tuesday, October 14th. The special gift set includes Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays and a Daniel Tiger toy. The DVD features seven more episodes from the award-winning series, one of which—“Snowflake Day”—is a two-part episode. Everyone in Daniel’s neighborhood celebrates “Snowflake Day” each year. In celebration, the neighborhood holds a community play. And this year, Daniel is the star of the play.

Daniel learns how letters are mailed off in the DVD’s second episode, “Something Special For Dad” after he sees how happy his dad having received a letter from Grandpere in the mail. Seeing how happy the letter made his dad, Daniel wants to mail a letter to his dad, too. So he and his mom go to the post office where they learn how mail is sorted and mailed. To top off his visit, Daniel even gets to join Mr. McSpeedy on his rounds and hand deliver his letter to his dad.

“I Love You, Mom” is another wonderful addition to this compilation of episodes. In this episode, Daniel wants to tell his mom how much he loves her, but wants to do it in a special way. So he and his dad go to Baker Aker’s bakery where they learn how bread is made. While they are there, Daniel gets to make banana bread for his mom. Banana bread is one of her favorite foods. Daniel and his dad bring the bread back and surprise her with the bread, which she then shares with Daniel and his dad.

Grandpere Tiger makes a special visit to Daniel and his parents in “Thank You, Grandpere Tiger,” the fourth episode included on this new DVD. There’s just one problem. Grandpere can’t stay for the neighborhood’s annual “Thank You Day” celebration. That makes Daniel sad. In the process, Daniel learns to be thankful for the time that he and Grandpere get to spend together and gets a very special surprise when it turns out that Grandpere is at the neighborhood’s annual celebration.

Following up on Grandpere’s visit, the DVD continues with the episode “Neighborhood Thank You Day.” Viewers learn all about the neighborhood’s annual “Thank You Day” celebration in this episode. Every year during the “Thank You Day” celebration, everyone in the neighborhood puts a note in the “Thank You Tree” as a way to say thank you to one another. Daniel can’t decide who he wants to thank with his note. He does finally come to a decision. It all ends with a special Thank You Day feast that includes everyone in the neighborhood.

The DVD’s penultimate episode, “Katerina’s Costume” features on Katerina as she is trying to decide what outfit she wants to wear for the neighborhood’s annual Dress Up Day. Daniel and Miss Elena, on the other hand, have no problem deciding on their costumes. Katerina does eventually make her decision.

“Dress Up Day” closes out the DVD. Much like the case of Halloween, Daniel and his friends go to all the stores in their neighborhood, showing off their costumes on Dress Up Day. They get different stickers at every store they visit.

The upcoming DVD gift set will be available Tuesday, October 14th. It will retail for MSRP of $14.99. the DVD will also be available alongside the gift set as a stand-alone presentation. It will retail for MSRP of $12.99. It can be ordered online at PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=45475006&cp=&kw=daniel+tigers+happy+holidays&origkw=Daniel+Tiger%27s+Happy+Holidays&sr=1.

Parents and children can watch more episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and play games together online at http://pbskids.org/daniel. Parents and children can keep up with the latest news from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood online at http://www.facebook.com/danieltigertv. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.