When I was a little girl, I fell in love with the antics of the made-for-TV musical foursome, The Monkees. Each week Davy, Peter, Mike and Micky sang and played their way into our hearts. With hits like Pleasant Valley Sunday, Last Train the Clarksville, I’m a Believer and Daydream Believer, written by some of the era’s best known songwriters (Carole King, Neil Diamond, Boyce & Hart), the music group (comprised of young actors and musicians) rocketed to fame. Some of my fondest memories can be traced back to those early days watching, and singing along with, The Monkees.
Long after The Monkees ended their TV series and the band broke up, we still enjoy their hits. I’ve been fortunate enough to see one particular Monkee three times now.
Micky and Friends…
Micky Dolenz is always a treat. Whether he is performing with The Monkees (as in the reunion tour I had the good fortune to see two years ago), or on his own, he never fails to entertain. Last week, I saw Micky on stage with his own band, which includes his sister Gemma ‘Coco’ Dolenz (vocals, percussion), Wayne Avers (guitar, vocals), Dave Alexander (keyboards, vocals), John Billings (bass), Aviva Maloney (saxophone, keyboards, vocals), and Rich Dart (drums).
Fun and self-effacing, the energetic 69-year-old Dolenz (in his trademark hat and vest) performed two sets (mostly Monkees hits) and sounded very much as I remembered him. Although I was disappointed he couldn’t play guitar (not drums like we were used to seeing in the TV series) on Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze this time around due to a wrist injury (Supposedly in a tussle with 19 Somali pirates he had to fend off with a cocktail olive sword!?!? I wonder if Tom Hanks was around for that?), that didn’t stop him from giving his all. From Mary Mary, to Steppin’ Stone, to Words (one of my favorites), the hits kept on coming, with the crowd singing right along for emphasis.
Long-time singing partner, sister Coco, had the spotlight a few times herself, surprising and delighting the crowd with Different Drum (made popular by Linda Ronstadt and written by fellow Monkee, Mike Nesmith) and Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.
For me, the enjoyment of a fellow Whovian in the audience (dressed as David Tennant’s 10th Doctor), complete with Sonic Screwdriver, just added to my entertainment and amusement. All roads lead back to Doctor Who for me, but I digress…
It’s hard for me to set aside nostalgia and sentimentality and why should I? A good time was certainly had by all. And for fans, both old and young, Micky Dolenz and Friends kept us singing and dancing in our seats all night long.
If you get a chance to catch them in a city near you, I urge you to see Micky and his band. You won’t be disappointed. Many thanks to BB King Blues Club (my first time there and hopefully not my last) for the opportunity to cover the show.
When I was growing up, the message I heard over and over again (and hear all too often, even now) was, “Girls can’t rock!” It was all too clear. It was OK for boys to be bass players, drummers, lead guitarists and frontmen, but my aspirations to become the next Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, or Freddie Mercury were frowned upon. After all, you can’t play rock and roll and still be a lady, right? Wrong… so very wrong. Ultimately, it didn’t stop me from joining a band when I was in college (playing with both male and female musicians), but I wonder how much sooner I might have pursued my dreams had I been encouraged, rather than completely disregarded.
What They Are…
Media executive and cartoon veteran Sherry Gunther Shugerman (Simpsons, Family Guy) must have wondered the same thing when she came up with The Beatrix Girls. The Beatrix Girls are 12 inch fashion dolls, with brightly colored hair and cool outfits. These adorable dolls are definitely made to appeal to young children, and while still feminine, they’re not too adult (suitable for ages 5 and up).
Why They’re Cool…
What sets this line apart is the fact that it is driven by original music (featuring the writing talents of some of today’s top pop stars), which kids can collect. Each doll is a member of a rock band. The Beatrix Girls band members are Brayden (Guitar), Ainsley (Drums), Lark (Bass) and Chantal (Keys). Each Beatrix Girl has a unique personality and look, as befitting a budding rock star. The Beatrix Girls even have their own fan club and webisodes.
The idea behind The Beatrix Girls line is to empower young girls to be so much more than just pretty faces. Though fashion-conscious, The Beatrix Girls were created to encourage girls to discover the joy of music and to inspire them to create their own as well. Through friendship, collaboration, hard work and determination, The Beatrix Girls gig, work and play together. Pretty ideal if you ask me.
The Beatrix Girls collection initially hit stores in the Fall of 2013. This Fall 2014, we’ll be seeing The Beatrix Girls London Collection, inspired by the British subculture Mod Movement of the 1960s.
I love this concept and hope to see more variety as the line continues to grow. I can only imagine, since the girls have their own webisodes, soon they’ll be starring in their own cartoon. If you liked Jem and The Holograms, or Josie and The Pussycats, why not The Adventures of the Beatrix Girls?
I truly enjoyed getting a closer look at these beauties, and others, at my first Blogger Bash, SweetSuite 2014 Toy Event in NYC last week. Thanks to The Big Toy Book and SkeletonPete for inviting me to the event. Hopefully, it won’t be my last.
Season 10 Buffy & Angel Variant Exclusives from Dark Horse at WonderCon – This Weekend Only – April 18-20!
This weekend WonderCon fans will get a treat. Dark Horse is releasing two exclusive variant covers from the “Buffyverse.”
The first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10, has a new cover from Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton, depicting a very realistic likeness of our favorite platinum blonde vamp, Spike (played by James Marsters), in mid-strike. Additonally, the Angel & Faith Season 10 #1 variant cover by artist Steve Morris, will also be unveiled at WonderCon, featuring a rather sultry Faith.
These gorgeous editions are a must for the Buffy or Angel fan and each copy will be selling for $5 (only five copies per person).
There’s a limited run of 1,000 copies (for each cover) that have been produced, so get them while they’re hot at WonderCon.
WonderCon starts tomorrow, Friday, April 18th and runs through Sunday, April 20th, at the Anaheim Convention Center.
For more information on WonderCon, visit https://secure.comic-con.org/wca.
(Andy and Pete give you the old “one-two punch” for Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere night)
Today, fans worldwide are dusting off their family crests. Well, not their family crests, but whether you belong to house Targaryen, Lannister or Stark, you’re bound to be excited about the Season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones, debuting tonight on HBO in the US and tomorrow night in the UK.
What it Is…
Based on the books by American author George R.R. Martin, (dubbed by some as the modern-day Tolkein) the fantasy series set in the middle-earth-like isle of Westeros has everything you can ask for – drama, political intrigue, epic battles, swords, sorcery, and zombie-like white walkers.
Who They Are…
Martin’s characters are complex, with many layers, motivations and conflicting emotions. You love them. You hate them. Are they good? Evil? He takes his time crafting their inner-worlds (giving us each character’s point of view in the books) with as much detail as their outer worlds. With characters like the initially-innocent child-bride-turned-Mother-of-All-Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) and the brilliant, often insightful, imp, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), the tomboyish and tough Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and the morally ambiguous Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey – Sarah Connor Chronicles), we’ve become invested in each one’s journey – whether we like them or not. In Westeros, only the hardest and most ruthless seem to survive. That’s what it takes to rule a kingdom. Even then… any weakness can be exploited. Fortunes and destinies can turn on a dime. The outcome is never certain.
Personally, with Starks (my chosen house) dropping like flies (if you haven’t heard about “The Red Wedding” by now, I have little pity if I spoil it for you), I’m starting to get a little nervous. Unlike many of us who have read ahead to the bitter end, there are still folks out there who were shocked and horrified by the deaths of Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Farley). If you vowed to stop watching at that point, really, who are you kidding? You know you’ll be back for more heart-stopping thrills, chills and heartbreak this season.
If “All Men Must Die,” here’s news and views of some items that Games of Thrones fans will be dying to get their hands on. Joining the previously released Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen figures Dark Horse has several more characters at the ready to celebrate HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere and beyond. These plastic cast models offer a big bang for the buck with a refined elegance usually reserved for items several times their cost. The sculpts are minutely detailed and delicately painted. David Scroggy, head of product development for Dark Horse, noted “…we decided to make these non-articulated, in order to capture all of the small details that would be at risk in a traditional jointed action figure.” They stand approximately 7.5” tall and are sold in a windowed display box. The Spring 2014 release included Tyrion Lannister, Khal Drogo and Ned Stark and will be followed in August by Cersei Baratheon, Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, and the White Walker. At a suggested retail price of $24.99 USD they make exceptional collector’s pieces and easy gift choices for the GoT fan in the family.
Also spied at Toy Fair 2014 was a spectacular spin on The Hound, in bust format replete with hinged helmet. The likeness of character Sandor Clegane (portrayed by Rory McCann) is a hand painted and numbered edition that comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity. This one is scheduled for mid-summer release. Also on the limited edition list will be an Arya figure.
Just released this past week is a life sized role playing Map Marker Box Set. Dark Horse press explains the origins, “In the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones, we see Robb Stark plotting the movements of opposing armies using a map of Westeros and a set of sculpted map markers, each hewn into a representation of one of the house symbols. We have reproduced these items in their true size, using the actual props as reference.
The six individual map markers range from 4.5” to 6” in height, and mimic different materials. Each is hand-painted. The map itself is full size, 50” x 35.5” cloth material with a paper backing, reproduced in color. The big size allows the owner to move the map markers in scale and formulate strategic situations or reproduce those from the show. The map markers and folded map are stored in a deluxe, heavy-duty, 14″ x 4.75″ x 18″ hinged-lid presentation box, protected by a full-color, thick-stock sleeve.”
Nothing Shakin’ But The Leaves on the Trees…
As if all this weren’t enough April 16th will see another limited edition piece, the Weirwood snow globe. Its blush of blood red leaves atop the face carved trunk will make striking contrast to blowing “snow” inside. Its base is inscribed with the “I Am the Sword in the Darkness, I Am the Watcher on the Walls…” quote. Only 1200 of these unique hand painted items will be minted and like other Dark Horse LE’s they will be boxed with a certificate of authenticity.
Ever since Barnabas Collins bared his fangs for the 1960’s Gothic daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows, we’ve been enamored with repentant vampires. The idea of the ultimate bad-boy-turned-good by the love of a woman, captured our dark hearts. Like Barnabas, the path to true love never did run smooth for fellow repentant vampire Angel (created by Executive Producer Joss Whedon), and of course, there’s a twist to that epic love story as well.
What it Was…
For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, Angel is a vampire cursed with a soul (in the Buffyverse vampires do not have souls, as a rule, with only two exceptions) by a group of vengeance-seeking gypsies, for the atrocities he has committed. Now, feeling the full weight of the devastation he has wrought, Angel (once the worst of his vampire-kind – known then as Angelus / Liam – when he was human – who wasn’t that much better), seeks redemption for his sins.
When we first meet Angel (played by David Boreanaz – Bones) in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he is watching over Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar). OK, he comes off like a creepy stalker whose motives are unclear at first, but he means well.
Eventually, he joins Buffy and her friends in the fight against evil. Unfortunately, Angel makes the mistake of falling in love with the young slayer. In a moment of unbridled passion, Angel loses his soul again (part of the gypsy curse). A moment of true happiness turns Angel back into a soulless, heartless, mass-murdering monster.
Once his soul is restored, Angel knows he can’t stay with Buffy, as he can’t risk the demon within returning to destroy her and all those around her. The star-crossed lovers must part. Heartbroken, Angel removes himself from Buffy’s life and relocates to Los Angeles (the City of Angels – where else?) where he sets up Angel Investigations – a detective agency with a mission to protect the weak and the helpless.
Along the way, Angel meets Doyle (played by the late Glenn Quinn – Roseanne), a half-human half-Brachen demon, whose painful psychic visions aid Angel on his mission. By chance he also re-meets friend and former mean girl Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter – Veronica Mars), trying to make it big in Hollywood as an actress.
Later, Angel is joined by disgraced Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denishof – How I Met Your Mother, Grimm), former-gang-member-turned-slayer Charles Gunn (J. August Richards – Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), super science geek Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle (Amy Acker – Dollhouse, Person of Interest), and the green, karaoke-loving, telepathic demon Lorne (played by the late Andy Hallett).
When the TV series ended in 2004 (in the finale Not Fade Away), we were left with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Angel, along with fellow vamp Spike (James Marsters), Gunn and Illyria (the Demon taking up residence in Fred’s body), were left with Hell literally raining down upon them — a parting gift from the Senior Partners from the evil law firm of Wolfram and Hart (The Wolf, The Ram and The Heart).
With an army of demons bearing down upon them, a dragon flying overhead, the loss of their friend, Wesley, and Gunn wounded, our four heroes stand, seriously outnumbered. The last thing we see is Angel, leading the charge. That image burned into our retinas. We were left staring blankly at the screen in disbelief. This couldn’t be the end, could it? I hadn’t been this upset by a series finale since the last episode of Blake’s 7… but I digress… as I often do. Sadly, we never saw Angel and company grace our screens again.
Our Dark Knight Returns…
Joss Whedon resurrected Angel in 2007 (then with comics from IDW Publishing) picking up where the TV finale left off. For the last two seasons, Joss and Dark Horse Comics have teamed Angel up with Faith the Vampire Slayer (played by Eliza Dushku in the series) to continue their adventures. Faith has come back from the brink herself, and in her own way, is also seeking redemption for her sins. Both lonely souls bond, becoming allies and friends.
Season 9 of Angel & Faith saw the return of Rupert Giles, Buffy’s Watcher (played in the series by Anthony Stewart Head). Angel had killed Giles while under the influence of magic in Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, there was an unforeseen consequence to resurrecting our beloved Giles (formerly a middle-aged Englishman). When he returns, he comes back as a young, almost Harry Potteresque pre-teen, capable of wielding magic himself. As we have learned, magic can be unpredictable and dangerous at times. Welcoming Giles back to the world of the living comes with a steep price. Part of London is sacrificed in order to do it and now part of the city is flooded with magic and overrun with supernatural beings.
Here Comes the Law…
When we return, we find our brooding hero, Angel, attempting to deal with the fallout from the previous season, in the section of London known as Magic Town. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of brooding and self-recrimination that comes with that territory. Meanwhile, we transition over to Faith, who has joined Buffy and the Scoobies in Santa Rosita to help fight the dreaded “zompires” (zombie vampires), as we saw in the Season 10 opener of Buffy. Faith also delivers her comrades the greatest of all gifts in the form of a youthful Giles, though it pains her greatly to do so as she watches the joyful reunion from the distance, always the outsider.
For Season 10 of Angel & Faith, Victor Gischler and Will Conrad take the helm from the creative team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (who have moved over to the main Buffy comic) and with them they bring an intense, dark flavor that suits this series quite well.
Far less colorful and light-hearted in tone than Buffy, Gischler and Conrad match the look and feel of the Angel TV series. Will Conrad’s artwork captures the likenesses of the actors from the show (especially Boreanaz and Dushku) beautifully, and that alone had me hooked. The story itself is fast-paced, with plenty of tension and drama. Though I found the transitions between Angel’s scenes and Faith’s a bit jarring, I blew through the issue quickly, and found myself disappointed when it was over so soon.
The skilled team of Gischler and Conrad hit the opening issue out of the ballpark and left me wanting more. As a fan of the series, what more can you ask for? Angel & Faith Season 10 Issue 1 from Dark Horse Comics is out today at a comic book store near you.