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SkeletonPete Says

To Die For: Dark Horse Expands “Game of Thrones” Figure Selection in Time for Season 4

Dark Horse Daenerys Figure Was Released in January 2014.

Dark Horse Daenerys Figure Was Released in January 2014.


(Andy and Pete give you the old “one-two punch” for Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere night)

Andy Says…
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.

Mid-Summer Will see 5 More Figures Including this Likeness of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

Mid-Summer Will see 5 More Figures Including this Likeness of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister


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.
Robb Stark Figure will Arrive in Early August 2014.

Robb Stark Figure will Arrive in Early August 2014.


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.
Dark Horse "Game of Thrones" Wave 1 Jon Snow Figure.

Dark Horse “Game of Thrones” Wave 1 Jon Snow Figure.


SkeletonPete Says…
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.
Limited Edition of Sandor "The Hound" Will Have A  Unique Hinged Hood Feature.

Limited Edition of Sandor “The Hound” Will Have A Unique Hinged Hood Feature.


Hounded…
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.
Life Sized Map Marker Set Includes Large Map to Plot Your Strategies.

Life Sized Map Marker Set Includes Large Map to Plot Your Strategies.


Map Quest…
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.”

The Weirwood Snow Globe is Ultra Limited to 1200 Pieces. You'd Better .Shake Up a Pre-Order

The Weirwood Snow Globe is Ultra Limited to 1200 Pieces. You’d Better .Shake Up a Pre-Order


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.

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Kong, We Hardly Knew Ye: Summerstage Theater Goes Ape

Tracy Jacks in Commercial Bondage as MC Kong in Hip-Hop Satire

Tracy Jacks in Commercial Bondage as MC Kong in Hip-Hop Satire

What It Is…

In this 80th anniversary year of RKO’s King Kong and 40th of Hip-Hop music, writer Randy Weiner and writer/director Alfred Preisser offer up a lighthearted jibe at the theme of outre culture blunted by mainstream acceptance and the enduring legend of “T’was beauty killed the beast.” In addition to Kong-o-philes, life long New Yorkers will get the insider jokes, as will (strangely enough) any recent viewers of the Adrian Brody/Beyonce Knowles film Cadillac Records.

Actors Matthew LaBanca, David Michaels and Sid Solomon play Moe, Hyman and Izzy, the Gold Brothers, whose failing record company – Gold Records – needs a boost of new musical blood. Secretary and would be socio-anthropologist Faye Wellington (Rhiannon Hansen) brings them a demo of MC “Kong” lurking in the deepest Bronx. The brothers’ ultimate goal is to sign the indigenous rapper to their label and collect the publishing royalties. The Gold Brothers’ quick fire tandem delivery plays like The 3 Stooges and Marx Brothers, with stances informed by Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Along the way they encounter mutant rats of unusual size, Thriller style dancing zombies, cops on the take, and spar with the Baron Samedi-like witchdoctor. Nothing is sacred or too puerile. For instance, one the Gold Brothers’ chronic flatulence equals the Kong subduing “gas bomb.”

Kong_Summerstage_004

The Kong character gets a gender flip via actress Tracy Jacks’ portrayal (a goof on “Queen” Latifah?) which triggers Faye to expound on the role of powerful women in male-less households, question her own sexuality, and leads to a loopy Barry White seduction scene in Kong’s lair.

Although the show is part of the 2013 Summerstage season’s “This is____Hip-Hop” series, it plays a lot more like Mel Brooks than Melly Mel. Wes Matthews’ compositions are show tune oriented, save one of the representations of Kong’s rap repertoire. Choreographer Ryan Kasprzak and associate Ellenore Scott give the characters plenty of kinetic range from Al Jolson Vaudeville gesturing to In Living Color fly girl cool and throw in some cartoonish slow motion chases for good measure. The graffiti emblazoned sets, designed by Isis Kenny were deftly maneuvered by the stage crew offering seamless scene changes throughout the intermission-less show. It was particularly fun to watch Jacks’ heartbroken Kong languishing at the top of the Empire State Building, while a rabble of sycophants, hucksters and nay-sayers mill about below.

Kong Tempted Into Signing on the Dotted Line

Kong Tempted Into Signing on the Dotted Line

SkeletonPete Says…

The card carrying politically correct will need to leave their inhibitions at the door as no ethnic or New York City stereotype is spared. It is important to remember that successful satire points out the absurdity of its targets. King Kong succeeds while taking good natured swipes at everyone from Moses to Robert Moses. Though there are no fall-down-the stairs laugh moments, the play sustains itself with continued chuckles, elicited by a series of sight gags and nudges and winks for those who lived through New York City’s “Pre-Disney” grind house years, or maybe tried to make a living in the music industry. I’ve done both. At the end of the presentation I realized I’d been smiling – knowingly – for its entire length.

Kong_Summerstage_025

Where It’s At…

The free presentation, produced by the City Park Foundation’s Summerstage and sponsored by Time Warner, has up-coming dates at the following locations.

August 7 & 10, 2013 at St. Mary’s Park, Bronx, NY

August 13, 14 & 17, 2013 at Marcus Garvey Park, Manhattan, NY

August 20, 21 & 22, 2013 at East River Park, Manhattan, NY

Check the Summerstage Website for more details on show times and directions.

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SummerStage 2013 Calendar Released

Alabama Shakes were one of the bands that shook SummerStage last year.

Alabama Shakes were one of the bands that shook SummerStage last year.


Sittin’ In the Park Waiting for You…
A peak point in Once Upon A Dream, The Young Rascals’ reunion show now playing at the Richard Rogers Theater, comes mid-show when the sound of chirping birds and conga beats herald the beginning of their 1960’s Top 40 classic “Groovin’.” As the band slides into this pean to the lazy hazy days of summer the fuzzy image projected behind them becomes sharper until it reveals a scene of Central Park lawn loungers soaking up the rays. It’s a perfect picture of the idyllic side of summer in the city that is headed your way again.

Yep, it can be a pain living in a metropolis as big as New York, but that is all the more reason to take advantage of the special events being offered. Just so you can’t say no one warned you, here are a host of reasons to get off the couch between now and September. Get out your calendars, dumb pencils or smart phones and start marking the dates for all the wonderful and mostly FREE doings the City Parks Foundation has planned for SummerStage 2013. Presented by AT&T SummerStage events are not limited to Central Park, there are shows in every borough. Use the City Parks Foundation’s interactive calendar to find Summerstage and a bazillion other happenings.

We’ll Keep On Spendin’ Sunny Days This Way…
The choices span every cultural aspect of NYC, classical, rock, jazz, folk, with a fortieth anniversary focus on Hip Hop this season. Genre keystones like DJ Cool Herc and Rock Steady Crew are on board. Foundation President Alison Tocci notes, “Audiences have come to expect the highest-quality, arts programming from SummerStage and we intend to continue that tradition. With the introduction of the new “Forewords” discussion panels and the “This is __ Hip-Hop” series, we hope to present programming that is not only entertaining but further pushes the bounds of what the festival offers and celebrates the spirit and history of all performing arts genres.”

SkeletonPete Says…
On my personal radar are two theater pieces, a Hip-Hop reworking of King Kong in this 80th anniversary year, and Diablo Love writer Mando Alvarado’s play interpolating the songs of seminal American blues artist Howlin’ Wolf. If you’ve yet to see Liane La Havas don’t miss the chance.

Help Stomp Out Cancer: Effects Builders’ Unique Charity Auction

c2cc
What It Is…
Circuits to Cure Cancer is an ad hoc group of effects pedal makers, reviewers and distributors who have focused their creative skills to spin up a unique fundraising opportunity. Between April 18 and 28, 2013 more than 30 of these electrical alchemists’ products will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds going to the St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital.

Special EFX…
To make the auction even more outstanding, several of the pedals will offer custom tweaks, one of a kind embellishments, autographs (Keith Urban, St. Vincent, Josh Ritter) and key serial numbers. Visit the main CtCC site to see a by builder list of the stomp boxes going on the block, and keep an eye on the Circuits to Cure Cancer Facebook profile for up to the minute news about additions.

SkeletonPete Says…
Kudos to those who helped organize Circuits to Cure Cancer. St Jude’s is a charity my family and I regularly support because of its high ratio of donation to objective. In the last five years 81 cents of every dollar has gone to research to find cures for children with cancer and other life threatening diseases, and no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.

Sadie, daughter of Australian effects maven Brett Kingman gives you the lowdown. Please help spread the word via all social media outlets.

Byrd is the Word: Rock N Roll Lifer Releases First Solo Album

Ricky Byrd's debut solo album Lifer on Kayos Records

Ricky Byrd’s debut solo album Lifer on Kayos Records


Ricky Byrd
Lifer
Kayos Records
On his first solo album Lifer guitarist/songwriter Ricky Byrd wears his musical heart on his sleeve. An unabashed student of rock and roll Byrd mines 60’s AM and 70’s FM radio gems for his outcomes and offers up a personal take on his favorite facets. That’s a good thing when you have his impeccable taste and the chops to back it up.

Put Another Dime in the Jukebox…
As a member of Joan Jett’s Blackhearts Ricky got to live the rock and roll lifestyle touring the world in support of the 1980’s mega-hit “I Love Rock and Roll.” In the ensuing years he’s played behind many of his favorite artists including Roger Daltrey and Ian Hunter. I remember seeing him on stage at The Bottom Line covering The Yardbirds during a 60’s tribute show. The Hit Squad is his high-end cover band in cahoots with other top NYC session players like vocalist Christine Ohlman and drummer Liberty DeVito.

What It Is…
Lifer opens with the sound of foot falls on stair-steps and a guitar cable engaging an amplifier input. It sets the stage for “Rock N Roll Boys” a rollicking reminiscence of Max’s Kansas City. Dressed in the sonic glitter of Mott the Hoople the tune spins out Byrd’s teenage autobiography, crowned with the chorus “the girls all wanted rock n roll boys,” a truism that enticed so many of us to strap on a guitar and learn-those-chords.

If you’re a rock n roll “lifer” as well, part of the album’s charm will be catching where Ricky slyly slips in a familiar aside (“I’ve been wanting to do this for years”) or guitar lick. I hear Don Covay via The Rolling Stones on “Wide Open” and the white-boy garage R&B of The Young Rascals through J. Geils Band on “Things To Learn.”

There’s a Stax style horn arrangement on “Ways of A Woman” and it might be Bowie mimicking The Yardbirds mimicking Muddy Waters on “Let’s Get Gone.” Along the way both “Small” and “Ooh La La” era Faces are referenced, while the subtle and touching 9/11 rumination “Turnstile ’01” is the kind of tune you wish Bruce Springsteen would write again.

It’s His Life…
To his credit Byrd puts his own stamp on this mountain of musical homage with a solid set of personal lyrics and unaffected vocal style. This unpretentious crop of tunes makes for a really enjoyable listen that is bound for repeat on your playlist. Though stylistically diverse Lifer makes sense the same way AM radio made sense in the 1960’s. That is, you can play any kind music right next to any other kind music as long as it was created with honesty and heart. Check out any Billboard Top 40 chart from 1965-67 to see what I mean.

SkeletonPete Says…
Whether those opening footsteps are taking you upstairs to Max’s Kansas City 40 years ago or downstairs to The Bowery Electric 40 minutes ago the message is the same; the mighty long way to rock and roll is never ending. Guided by loving aficionados like Ricky Byrd it’s a sweet journey.