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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Workout Video Sales Step Up In Popularity

Written by Nedda Pourahmady

The fitness DVD industry has made tremendous strides in spite of the recession. According to research conducted by IBIS World, the popular trend of joining the gym to stay fit is shifting to a more convenient alternative.

Consumers are choosing to conduct their workout regimens from the comfort of their own home. Instead of running to nearby fitness facilities, avid exercisers are frantically purchasing workout videos hosted by professional gyms and their expert instructors.

Based on data collected by IBIS World, fitness DVD production revenue increased significantly in 2012, climbing to nearly $265 million. These high-intensity programs feature extreme-interval training sessions, appealing to fitness fanatics across the nation.

Commonly used by motivated gym members to expand on traditional exercise techniques, fitness DVDs have turned routine regimens into unique, interesting experiences. By replacing models or actresses as video hosts with professional fitness gurus, more consumers are starting to take programs seriously and abide by their advice.

In addition to appearing in numerous households nationwide, workout videos are frequently used by famous celebrities. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez are known to use fitness DVDs when starting up their vigorous exercise programs.

To browse our full collection of workout videos, visit our website and search “fitness.”

Which workout videos, if any, would you be willing to follow? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Congratulations Phillip Phillips, American Idol Season 11 Winner

Written by Danielle Desmond and Heather Brown

It’s a man’s world when it comes to reigning American Idol winners. Last Wednesday, Georgia native, Phillip Phillips was crowned the 11th American Idol. Phillip took the title, leaving the young and talented diva to be Jessica Sanchez with the runner-up spot, which in American Idol history is not a bad placement either.

Many fans believed that Phillip’s debut song, Home, was what earned him the title, along with his handsome grin and guitar. The American Idol finale was filled with surprise performances from Neil Diamond, John Fogerty, Rihanna, Jordin Sparks, Reba McEntire, Jennifer Lopez, and Aerosmith. The top 12 contestants also returned to the Idol stage before launching their summer tour! Nothing like a little practice to 30 million viewers who tuned in to watch the finale.

Ryan Seacrest reported that a record-breaking 165 Million votes came in for Phillip and Jessica via text, twitter, and phone.  is reporting that over a million Facebook comments and tweets were posted (the most in American Idol history), proving that our social media age is growing at a rapid pace.

Personally, I loved Phillip’s song Home. In fact, I didn’t know that it was written for him and I kept trying to find whose song he was performing. We have followed these contestants since January. They deserve the best and hopefully the fans that followed them all this time will stick with them during their blooming music career. Universal Music is saying that Phillip Phillip’s debut album will be released in July. 

Midwest Tape is in on the hunt for all new Idol musicians to make sure your library patrons have the most recent and new music from the best American Idol has to offer! Who knows what will happen to the fate of American Idol. With the rumors of Jennifer Lopez leaving, to all the new singing competition shows out there, one thing is for sure: there is a ton of talent needed to be heard! 

Thanks for reading this season, and again a big Congratulations to Mr. Phillip Phillips! We are looking forward to hearing your music. 

What are your thoughts on this season's competition?

Lethal Weapon Blu-Ray Set Review

Written by Kirk Baird

Lethal Weapon was released in 1987, and its genre template has been emulated so many times – including by three more Lethal Weapon movies – that novel quickly turned cliché:

A cop on the edge; his veteran cop buddy, who wants to play it safe until retirement; their snarling police captain, frequently given to outbursts over their unorthodox methods; and lots of explosions, car chases, and violence.
The original Lethal Weapon may not have invented these fixtures of the R-rated buddy-cop action-drama, but it successfully blended them in such a way that the result felt original and even organic..

A quarter-century after its release, Warner Bros. thought it an appropriate time to celebrate the Lethal Weapon franchise with a five-disc Blu-ray set, including all four movies and lots of extras that was just released.
The key to the first Lethal Weapon’s success is a fresh script by a new UCLA graduate named Shane Black, who wanted to explore a Western gunslinger mythos as a cop drama in Los Angeles, and textbook action-film direction by Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman, The Goonies).    

But their efforts – considerable as they are -- would have been in vain without the film’s two leads. For all the off-the-set publicity Mel Gibson has received the last few years from his erratic behavior, Lethal Weapon is a welcomed reminder that, once upon a time, he was a triple threat in Hollywood: handsome, smart, and talented. Danny Glover, who was a decade younger than his 50-year-old “I’m too old for this … ” cop , was the steady presence in the film we identified with.
Their buddy-buddy relationship wasn’t necessarily acting, either. Gibson and Glover apparently developed a near-instant rapport before shooting – enough to convince studio execs to quickly greenlight the film.

The pair still appears friendly in a series of interviews together, along with Donner, who directed all four movies, filmed in March, 2010. The trio could probably make a fifth Lethal Weapon, though it looks like the long-discussed project – if it happens at all – will feature a new cast.

Lethal Weapon was a big hit, and for its 1989 sequel, Donner took the more is better approach, with a bigger budget, more explosions and violence, and a scene-stealing new character named Leo Getz  – a drug cartel accountant-turned government witness – to change the buddy dynamic of Riggs(Gibson)  and Murtaugh (Glover). Joe Pesci plays Leo, in a comically inspired performance that delivered perhaps the most memorable(and true to life) scene in the franchise: the fast-food rant.

If audiences loved the additions to the second film -- – or so Donner and company reasoned -- they’ll LOVE Getz again in the third film, along with the addition of Rene Russo as tough cop Lorna Cole and a love interest of Riggs who doesn’t die. The fourth film added Chris Rock as another cop, and martial arts maestro Jet Li as a deadly assassin working for a Chinese crime lord. And yes, Pesci was back as well.

As the films turned sillier, Riggs became less of a “lethal weapon” – a suicidal cop who was broken by the death of his wife and haunted by memories of secret forces activities in Vietnam – and the original film’s edge was dulled to a plastic knife. At least Riggs’ friendship with Murtaugh wisely remained the center point of the Lethal Weapon movies.
The Lethal Weapon franchise is a case of diminishing return, but the first film and even its first sequel are good enough to carry this set on their own.  

The Lethal Weapon Collection Blu-ray set features all four movies, and a fifth disc featuring new retrospective feaurettes. The interviews are good for a shot of nostalgia, but Donner’s commentary through the four films is worth the time; of particular interest is the director’s reminder that his movies were made in the pre-CGI revolution, and many of the stunts employ some old school Hollywood techniques that, frankly, hold up better than most of the CG action sequences today.

Which Lethal Weapon is your favorite?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hot This Week: May 28

We return from a holiday weekend to five new titles on the DVD chart, with The Grey and Chronicle leading the way. Likewise, there was quite a shakeup on the music list, which welcomes the huge personalities of Adam Lambert and Tenacious D, as well as the latest Glee offering (just in time for graduation season). The audiobook lists, on the other hand, held fairly steady. On the fiction side, look for new thrillers by John Sandford and Steve Berry. In non-fiction, a new book examining President Obama's time in office jumps to the top as election season begins to heat up.

  1. The Grey
  2. Chronicle
  3. Contraband
  4. The Vow
  5. One for the Money
  6. The Devil Inside
  7. Haywire
  8. Underworld: Awakening
  9. Rampart
  10. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  1. Adam Lambert, Trespassing
  2. Adele, 21
  3. Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
  4. Tenacious D, Rize of the Fenix
  5. Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts
  6. NOW That's What I Call Music 42
  7. Beach House, Bloom
  8. Glee: The Music, The Graduation Album
  9. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee
  10. One Direction, Up All Night
  1. Stolen Prey, John Sandford
  2. 11th Hour, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  3. Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris
  4. The Columbus Affair, Steve Berry
  5. Calico Joe, John Grisham
  6. The Innocent, David Baldacci
  7. In One Person, John Irving
  8. Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
  9. The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King
  10. Home, Toni Morrison
  1. The Amateur, Edward Klein
  2. The Passage of Power, Robert A. Caro
  3. The Art of Intelligence, Henry A. Crumpton
  4. My Cross to Bear, Gregg Allman and Alan Light
  5. Most Talkative, Andy Cohen
  6. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Margin Dugard
  7. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen
  8. Service, Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer
  9. Imagine, Jonah Lehrer
  10. The Presidents Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

Friday, May 25, 2012

Men in Black Are Back!

Written by Kirk Baird

Based on the comic-book series by Lowell Cunningham, the original Men in Black film proved to be a summer blockbuster in 1997, and helped cement Will Smith as box-office gold. Both the original Men in Black and its 2002 sequel offered a mix of crowd-pleasing effects, action, and humor as a high-concept comedy in the same vein as Ghostbusters. A decade after we last saw Agents Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Smith), the duo returns to the big screen in a part 3 today.

*Men in Black (1997)

* denotes Kirk's pick

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Road to the American Idol Finale

Written by Danielle Desmond and Heather Brown

I really didn’t think we would see Phillip Phillips in the finale this week, but sadly over the past couple weeks America has voted off sweet Hollie Cavanagh and Gospel sensation Joshua Ledet. This is one of the most painful times to be voted off; Hollie was eliminated right before the hometown visit, and Joshua just missed the finale.

I think everyone knew Hollie would not make it to the hometown episode after an uneventful rendition of Journey’s Faithfully. Everyone in the world knows this song and it touches each of us differently and Hollie unfortunately couldn’t get us there. When you are this far into the competition you can’t just sing well, you have to have everyone remember your performance. Technically, she did sing fine, but with a popular tune it needs to be perfect. Her second song “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt fell just as short too. Hollie just wasn’t old enough to understand the heart-wrenching emotions of unrequited love, and she again kept the audience at a distance from emotional connection.

Next on the chopping block right before the finale, probably the worst place to be voted off was Joshua Ledet. Joshua brought his powerful voice, unforgettable dance moves, and humble attitude every week delivering standing ovation performances. I was very surprised to see him go, especially after his inspirational hometown visit to Louisiana.

The Top 3 performers had three rounds of singing, first round songs were chosen by the judges, second round a song of their choosing, and the third round they had to perform a song chosen by their music mentor Jimmy Iovine. Host, Ryan Seacrest mentioned that this was the closest race American Idol has ever seen. 

Jessica Sanchez has truly won the heart of not only America but Steven Tyler who said that he truly believes she will be the last one standing. Phillip Phillips really rocked out and had Randy Jackson rooting for him and yelling “YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE AND WE LOVE IT” The judges also praised Joshua but sadly someone has to be voted off.

The results show included performances from former Idol contestant, Adam Lambert, and rock star Lisa Marie Presley who both have new albums out!  After performances, Ryan Seacrest read the fateful results sending Joshua Ledet home one week before the finale.

Still standing is the young and vociferous Jessica Sanchez and guitar playing heart throb Phillip Phillips. The Two-Night Season Finale airs Tues/Wed on Fox with the Top 12 performers returning to perform along with some other surprise performances. Don’t forget to tune in and vote!

Will Jessica Sanchez break the streak and be the first girl to win American Idol since Season 6?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Is There Any Stopping The Avengers?

Written by Kirk Baird

Is there any stopping The Avengers? Earth’s Mightiest Heroes joined forces onscreen and set box-office records, including the honor to be first film to debut with a $200-million-plus opening weekend. (Its $207.4 million haul bested previous record holder Harry Potter and theDeathly Hallows: Part 2 and its $169.2 million in 2011.).

This weekend marked its third-straight at the top of the box office, as it continues to fend off some big-budgeted competition including Dark Shadows and most recently Battleship.

The Avengers’ reign as moviegoers’ top pick will come to an end at some point, perhaps as soon as this weekend with the next challenger, Men in Back III. The sci-fi comedy reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent J and Agent K, respectively. The story features Agent J time traveling to the 1960s to prevent the assassination of a younger Agent K (played by Josh Brolin) and changing history.

And speaking of time travel … it’s been a decade since Men in Black Part II underwhelmed critics, audiences, and the box office, though it did ultimately earn Sony studios a profit. Part II opened in July 2002 with a $52 million haul. Not bad until you consider the first Men in Black opened with nearly the same amount, in 500 less theaters, and at 1997 ticket prices. For the record: The Avengers made $55 million in its third weekend, which makes it formidable competition this weekend as well.

If Men in Black III fails to take down the team of Marvel superheroes, next up to dethrone the king would be Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth (who plays Thor the God of Thunder in The Avengers), and Kristen Stewart. The trailers look promising for this dark and CGI-intense adaptation of the classic fairytale. It’s also the second Snow White big-screen reinvention this year, following on the heels of Mirror Mirror, a dark comedy starring Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer, and Lily Collins (daughter of singer-songwriter-drummer Phil Collins). Mirror Mirror opened March 30 and grossed only $18.13 million its first weekend, on its way to less than $70 million. With an estimated budget of $85 million, Mirror Mirror only made a profit through the foreign box-office and yielded nearly $98 million.

But any victory by either of these two summer film newcomers would be short lived, given the increasing build-up to the June 8 opening of Prometheus.  

What do you think?

Hot This Week: May 21

Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams propel The Vow to the top of the DVD list, with the latest installment of the Underworld series making the cut as well. On the CD charts, all of the movement took place in the lower half, with the Silversun Pickups jumping up to #6. Half of the top fiction titles are new this week, with great titles from Hilary Mantel, John Irving, and Toni Morrison making their debuts. Robert Caro and Anna Quindlen hold strong in non-fiction, with the latest from Dick Morris and Eileen McGann coming in at #3.

  1. The Vow
  2. Contraband
  3. Underworld: Awakening
  4. Haywire
  5. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  6. New Year's Eve
  7. Joyful Noise
  8. We Bought a Zoo
  9. War Horse
  10. The Darkest Hour
  1. Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
  2. Adele, 21
  3. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee
  4. NOW That's What I Call Music 42
  5. Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts
  6. Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods
  7. One Direction, Up All Night
  8. Jack White, Blunderbuss
  9. Tank, This Is How I Feel
  10. Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines
  1. 11th Hour, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  2. Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris
  3. Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
  4. The Road to Grace, Richard Paul Evans
  5. In One Person, John Irving
  6. The Innocent, David Baldacci
  7. Calico Joe, John Grisham
  8. The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King
  9. Home, Toni Morrison
  10. The Witness, Nora Roberts
  1. The Passage of Power, Robert A. Caro
  2. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen
  3. Screwed!, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
  4. Most Talkative, Andy Cohen
  5. Prague Winter, Madeleine Albright and Bill Woodward
  6. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  7. Drift, Rachel Maddow
  8. My Cross to Bear, Gregg Allman and Alan Light
  9. Service, Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer
  10. Imagine, Jonah Lehrer

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy DVD Review

written by Kirk Baird 

Alec Guinness’ towering performance cast such a large shadow over the fictional character of George Smiley in the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy mini-series, that Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy novelist John le Carré could hear Guinness speaking as the character in his head while he was writing a sequel to the book. It’s one of the major reasons le Carré quit writing the novels. 

The British writer offers these confessions in a half-hour interview included as part of the new Blu-ray release of the 1979 BBC production. There’s also a new half-hour interview with the series’ director, John Irvin. While those features are nice ‑‑ though rather sparse compared to some Blu-ray sets ‑‑ it’s the main attraction that makes this two-disc package worthwhile.

If you were in a crowded room and suddenly felt compelled to yell, “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is the greatest spy show ever made!” as a quote from NPR’s Fresh Air declares on the cover of this Blu-ray case, there would be little to no disagreement. Brilliant, tense, full of twists, and filled top-to-bottom with damn fine acting, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is the spy movie by which all films in the genre are — or at least, should be — judged. 

It’s everything today’s spy films aren’t: high IQ, patiently paced, and with almost all the action on screen occurring in the head of its lead character, Smiley. A former master spy with the British Secret Intelligence Service (known to those in the organization as the “Circus”), Smiley was forced into retirement with an organizational regime change. But with the discovery that there’s a high-level double agent in the Circus, Smiley is the only one smart enough, determined enough, steely enough, and trustworthy enough to unearth the Soviet mole. 

Guinness is perfection personified in the role; like le Carré, it’s impossible not to think of the actor as Smiley, though Gary Oldman’s Oscar-nominated performance in last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes close to breaking that association. But there’s weary wisdom in the eyes of the older Guinness, who was 65 when Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was released, that age make-up cannot replicate for the younger Oldman, who was 53 when the film was released. Life experience is what the character of Smiley is about; he’s an older, wiser, thinking man’s Bond or Jason Bourne, scarred by past failures and regrets, including living with the reminder of his adulterous wife. (To a fellow agent, no less.) But he is almost without peer in the world of espionage, save his Soviet counterpart Karla (played by a younger, balding Patrick Stewart).

Guinness’ Smiley is such a rich, developed character, that it’s difficult to let him go after the six hour-long episodes. Fortunately, he returned in the acclaimed 1982 mini-series Smiley’s People.
For those who felt the pacing of the two-hour Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movie was too slow, then don’t bother with this series, which offers half-hour Lost-like flashbacks to flesh out characters and a windy plot that begs repeat viewings to fully grasp. But anyone looking for a mentally engaging and witty spy thriller should find this worthy of his or her time.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big Summer Release Film Trailers

Never judge a book by its cover. But can you judge a film by its trailer? See for yourself. Here are the latest trailers for the big summer releases, beginning with today’s opening of The Dictator.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (May 18):
Chernobyl Diaries (May 25):
Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1):
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8):
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22):
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (June 22):
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29):
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3):
 Ice Age: Continent Drift (July 13):
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20):
The Watch (formerly Neighborhood Watch) (July 27):
Step Up Revolution (July 27):
The Bourne Legacy (August 3):
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (August 3):
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (August 15):
The Expendables 2 (August 17):

written by Kirk Baird

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Midwest Invites You!

Looking to order all of your DVDs, CDs, audiobooks and Playaways from one media source?  Look no further than Midwest Tape. We can fulfill all your A/V needs as well as meet your patron demand with the best website in the industry that was created specifically for Librarians.

This is an introduction webinar on the Midwest Tape Website! In this 60-minute seminar, you will learn the basics of navigating around our major tools and features. We will also go over the basics of searching for product and cart building. This is a great opportunity for librarians who are new to our site or those looking for a refresher. We look forward to you joining us on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012.
Intro to the Midwest Tape Website
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
2:00–3:00 p.m. EST

Copy and paste the following link into your web browser to register for the webinar.

Looking forward to you joining us!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hot This Week: May 14

The action film Haywire charges toward the top of the DVD charts this week, but can't quite unseat Contraband. The music charts see a major upheaval, with new releases by Carrie Underwood and Norah Jones leading the way. In the fiction world, Charlaine Harris's latest Sookie Stackhouse novel leaps Stephen King for #1, while in non-fiction Rachel Maddow gives way to Robert Caro's account of LBJ's transition to the presidency after the JFK assassination.

  1. Contraband
  2. Haywire
  3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  4. We Bought a Zoo
  5. New Year's Eve
  6. The Darkest Hour
  7. Joyful Noise
  8. War Horse
  9. The Sitter
  10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  1. Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
  2. Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts
  3. NOW That's What I Call Music 42
  4. Adele, 21
  5. B.o.B., Strange Clouds
  6. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee
  7. Jack White, Blunderbuss
  8. One Direction, Up All Night
  9. Smash Soundtrack
  10. Marilyn Manson, Born Villain
  1. Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris
  2. The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King
  3. The Innocent, David Baldacci
  4. Calico Joe, John Grisham
  5. The Witness, Nora Roberts
  6. Robert B. Parker's Lullaby, Ace Atkins
  7. Guilty Wives, James Patterson and David Ellis
  8. The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark
  9. Unnatural Acts, Stuart Woods
  10. The Shoemaker's Wife, Adriana Trigiani
  1. The Passage of Power, Robert A. Caro
  2. My Cross to Bear, Gregg Allman and Alan Light
  3. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen
  4. Prague Winter, Madeleine Albright
  5. The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
  6. Drift, Rachel Maddow
  7. Imagine, Jonah Lehrer
  8. The Presidents Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
  9. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  10. Manhunt, Peter L. Bergen

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dark Shadows Hits Theaters

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp put their twisted stamp on the cult 1960s TV soap opera about the wealthy Collins family from Collinsport, Maine, plagued by strange happenings, including a centuries-old vampire relative named Barnabas Collins. (Depp, by the way, plays Barnabas.) To prepare for the update’s darkly comical take on the 1967-1971 series, check out the large collection of Dark Shadows on DVD, featuring more than 30 sets from each season as well as best-of compilations and even a blooper reel.

Written by Kirk Baird

The Avengers Smash Records

Written by Kirk Baird

The Hulk along with the other Avengers smashed the movie competition last weekend with a record-breaking $207-million opening. (To put that figure in perspective, consider that the previous No. 1 opening belonged to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, with nearly $170 million.) The Avengers is a superhero mash-up featuring some of Marvel Comics’ top names — Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Hulk — who join forces to save Earth from an evil god and his alien invasion force. But The Avengers is only the latest-greatest superhero film, with dozens of titles featuring the heroes battling villains solo and in teams.

The Hulk:
The Hulk (2003)
Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990, TV finale)
Hulk VS. … (2008 animated movie)
*The Incredible Hulk (1978, TV Premiere, and seasons 1-5)
The Incredible Hulk Returns/Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989, TV movies)
*Planet Hulk (2009 animated movie)

Thor (201)

Iron Man:
*Iron Man (2008)
*Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Invincible Iron Man (2007, animated)
Iron Man, the Complete 1994 Animated Series (1994-1996, animated series)
Iron Man: New Animated Series (2010, animated series)
Iron Man — Extremis (2010, animated series)

Captain America:
*Captain America — The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America (1979, TV movie pilot)
Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979, TV movie pilot)

The Avengers:
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010 –, animated series)
The Avengers: United They Stand (1999-2000, animated series)
Next Avengers — Heroes of Tomorrow (2008, animated)
The Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2005, animated film)
Ultimate Avengers 2 (2006, animated film)

* denotes Kirk's picks

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Midwest Tape Spotlighted in The Blade

John Eldred, president and owner of Midwest Tape, says that the cases into which his company  packs material are meant to withstand the impact of being tossed around and thrown into drop boxes.John Eldred, president and owner of Midwest Tape, says that the cases into which his company packs material are meant to withstand the impact of being tossed around and thrown into drop boxes. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGTEnlarge | Photo Reprints
Story from The Blade newspaper
Chances are you've handled one of Midwest Tape's products and didn't even know it.
The Holland company, which does more than $100 million in business a year, repackages and sells DVDs, CDs, and audio books to about 4,000 libraries across the country. It got its start about 20 years ago and profits by staying ahead of the ever-changing media landscape.
When VHS tapes gave way to DVDs, the company was on top of it. Now, as physical media transitions into the digital era, the company is building an electronic database of movies, music, and electronic books for libraries. The project, dubbed Hoopla, is in the developmental phase.
"Physical media, in the immediate future, is not going to disappear," said John Eldred, president and owner of Midwest Tape. "The demise of physical media … it's going to last for years to come. How long? I don't know."
Libraries came to rely on the company because it packages CDs, DVDs, and electronic books inside durable cases. The cases are meant to withstand the impact of being tossed around and thrown into drop boxes, Mr. Eldred said.
"When you buy a CD in a clamshell or a DVD in that flimsy plastic box, we repackage them into a heavier box," he said. "It's so they can survive the drop box."
Patricia Lowrey, director of technical services at the Cleveland Public Library, said the packaging protects the library's collection from wear and tear that otherwise would destroy DVDs and CDs.
"They've been terrific about developing better packaging that's really designed for us," Ms. Lowrey said. "We really appreciate that. It makes our material last longer. We get a lot better bang for the buck because of the work they do before they sell it to us."
Kathy Woodbury puts stickers on CDs that are being repacked into sturdier cases so that the material inside lasts longer. Kathy Woodbury puts stickers on CDs that are being repacked into sturdier cases so that the material inside lasts longer.  THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGTEnlarge | Photo Reprints
The company's forward-looking perspective also is a boon for libraries, which have seen an increase in demand for DVDs, CDs, and electronic downloads, said Jean Gaffney, manager of acquisition and collection development at the Dayton Metro Library. The library has seen a 117 percent increase in its downloads in the last year, she added.
"As times have changed, they have been on the forefront of changing with the times," Ms. Gaffney said. "Now we purchase all of our movies and DVDs from them. We purchase probably most of our audio books from them."
Midwest Tape employs about 340 people and has grown in spite of the Great Recession and turbulent economy. As video stores close and people lose the ability to rent physical media, they're turning to libraries, Mr. Eldred said. The company now packages and catalogs and sometimes selects whole media selections for libraries. It offers 140,000 different selections.
"We're continuing to expand," he said. "We offer almost turn-key services for libraries. … For some of the libraries, they give us a budget and we do all the purchasing for them."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

British Tunes Don’t Help Country Starlet Skylar Laine

It was British Night on the Idol stage with five remaining contestants left in the 11th season. I must say I was waiting the entire time for a Beatles or a Bowie song but I was satisfied with the CCR covers, so all is forgiven Idol wanabees. Here we are down to five contestants-two phenoms, two dark horses, and one disaster.

First up was a young Brit herself, Hollie Cavanagh. Most people don’t know that but Hollie was born in Liverpool but raised here in the US. Hmmm…I wonder if she will be our first British Born American Idol? Young Hollie took the stage with the River Deep Mountain High by the legendary Ike and Tina Turner and nailed it with a flawless delivery. Her second song of the evening was by Grammy Award Winner Leona Lewis. Cavanagh took on Lewis’ famous and more recent song Bleeding Love and even though Steven Tyler didn’t know the song, all of the judges sang her praises.

Phillip Phillips, yes he is still in the competition, he and all of his grey t-shirts. Phillip and Joshua sang The Righteous Brothers You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling and when Phillip opened up and sang that first note I thought he was a goner, especially singing that song with Joshua who sounded 100% better than Phillip. But America must have loved his covers of The Letter by Box Tops and Time of The Season by The Zombies because he was safe and is moving on as one of the final four contestants. He has to have a overwhelming fan base out there especially after so many detrimental performances throughout the season.

Holy Dress Jessica Sanchez! Her dress received more buzz than her amazing rendition of Proud Mary and Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful. Twitter was buzzing about how the dress she wore was too mature for her, I thought she looked amazing in the dress and her performance was just as unforgettable. J LO of course defended the dress where as Lovine said it may have made some people uncomfortable. I have to disagree because America voted to keep Jessica another week. I am sure we are all wondering what she will sing and wear for tonight’s performance.

Front runner and R&B sensation Joshua Ledet delivered another memorable performance of Aint Too Proud to Beg by The Temptations and To Love Somebody by The Bee Gees. J LO has said that Joshua Ledet is one of the best singers in the last 50 years and Lovine was quoted “he deserves greatness” Joshua has the judges and coaches hooked, but he needs to keep America believing. As the competition comes to a close he will have to keep delivering ten times more than he already has to really shock viewers.

America’s country starlet, peppy, bubbly, and humble, Skylar rushed the stage with all that she had belting out CCR’s Fortunate Son. Unfortunately though it wasn’t enough for Ms. Laine as she was voted off the competition on Thursday’s elimination round. It’s hard to lose anybody,” said Judge Jennifer Lopez. “Losing anybody is really tough right now.” And Randy Jackson sat there in awe shaking his head. Many of us saw Skylar as a front runner, especially since she was a strong country act, I think this definitely threw everyone when it was Skylar going home over Holly. Tears were shed, but there is no doubt that Skylar’s phone was ringing off the hook with potential record deals. This is not the end of Skylar Laine, I can tell you that.

American Idol is on tonight on Fox at 8/7c when the final four contestants take on songs from The Golden State. Jennifer Lopez and Season 7 Winner David Cook perform.

Written by Danielle Desmond and Heather Brown

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hot This Week: May 7

Three of our four lists have new titles at the top. On DVD, Mark Wahlberg's Contraband knocks Tom Cruise and Mission Impossible down a notch. On CD, Jack White ends Lionel Richie's reign in the top spot, along with a number of other debuts. Perennial favorite Stephen King jumps to the top of the fiction pile, while the rest of the list remains mostly the same. Rachel Maddow remains atop the non-fiction list, with newcomers Anna Quindlen and Madeleine Albright checking in at #2 and #3, respectively.

  1. Contraband
  2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  3. We Bought a Zoo
  4. The Darkest Hour
  5. War Horse
  6. The Sitter
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  8. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  9. Dark Tide
  10. The Descendants
  1. Jack White, Blunderbuss
  2. Adele, 21
  3. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee
  4. One Direction, Up All Night
  5. Lee Brice, Hard 2 Love
  6. Kip Moore, Up All Night
  7. The Wanted, The Wanted
  8. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
  9. Gotye, Making Mirrors
  10. Jason Mraz, Love Is a Four Letter Word
Fiction Books
  1. The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King
  2. The Innocent, David Baldacci
  3. Calico Joe, John Grisham
  4. The Witness, Nora Roberts
  5. Crystal Gardens, Amanda Quick
  6. Guilty Wives, James Patterson and David Ellis
  7. The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark
  8. Unnatural Acts, Stuart Woods
  9. The Shoemaker's Wife, Adriana Trigiani
  10. Sacre Bleu, Christopher Moore
Non-Fiction Books
  1. Drift, Rachel Maddow
  2. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen
  3. Prague Winter, Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward
  4. Imagine, Jonah Lehrer
  5. The Presidents Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
  6. Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson
  7. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  8. The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
  9. Mrs. Kennedy and Me, Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin
  10. The Big Miss, Hank Haney

Friday, May 4, 2012


Written by Kirk Baird

Summer officially kicks off June 20. But unofficially it begins today with The Avengers. The highly anticipated Marvel superheroes extravaganza launches the summer film season, a four-month lineup of original blockbusters and must-see sequels. Here are 10 highlights.

The Avengers. Comic-book geek Josh Whedon made the mother of all superhero films, featuring an all-star cast of do-gooders — Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow — who unite to stop an evil god and an invading army of aliens. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hiddleston.

May 11:
Dark Shadows. Tim Burton’s comic take on the 1960s cult TV soap opera features Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins, who is freed from two centuries of entombment to face the witch who imprisoned him as well as the even more frightening early 1970s. Also starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chloë Grace Moretz.

June 1:
Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize Theron camps it up in a deliciously evil performance as the witchy queen obsessed with being the fairest of them all, with Kristen Stewart’s beautiful Snow White as the one who stands in her way. Also starring Chris Hemsworth.

June 13:
Prometheus. Ridley Scott revisits the Alien franchise, as a group of outer-space explorers discovers a clue to the origins of humanity ... and then must battle to save it. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, and Idris Elba.

June 22:
Brave. Pixar looks to regain its magic touch after last summer’s disappointing Cars 2, with the story of Merida, the impetuous daughter of a Scottish king and queen, who defies tradition and must undo a terrible curse. Featuring the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and, of course, John Ratzenberger.

July 3:
The Amazing Spider-Man. Only a decade since the first Spider-Man movie, the Web crawler is back in another story of how Peter Parker acquired his amazing powers and what he decides to do with them. Andrew Garfield is the new Spider-Man and Rhys Ifans is his new nemesis, the Lizard. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field.

July 6:
Savages. Based on the New York Times best-selling crime novel by Don Winslow, Savages is the story of a trio of friends and marijuana growers who wage war against the Mexican drug cartel. Oliver Stone’s violent drug drama looks like Natural Born Killers-meets-Scarface. Starring Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Emile Hirsch.

July 13:
Ted. Directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, the R-rated Ted is the amusing tale of a grown man who must deal with a rude and crude teddy bear come to life as a result of a childhood wish. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, with the voice of MacFarlane.

July 20:
The Dark Knight Rises. Christopher Nolan completes his Batman trilogy with the masked vigilante (Christian Bale) facing off against the only comic-book villain who ever "broke the bat," Bane (Tom Hardy). Figuring into the plot is Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Also starring Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman.

Aug. 3:
The Bourne Legacy. Jeremy Renner takes over for Matt Damon as another super agent, Aaron Cross, who goes rogue. The Bourne Legacy was co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy (Duplicity), who wrote the screenplays for the original trilogy based on the Robert Ludlum novels. Also starring Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, and Stacy Keach.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New To DVD This Week - Rampart

Written by Kirk Baird

Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his role as a crooked cop in Training Day. Woody Harrelson didn’t even receive a nomination for his equally memorable turn as a bad cop gone even worse in last year’s Rampart.

The little-seen drama with a big-name cast — Sigourney Weaver, Cynthia Nixon, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Ben Foster, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, and Ned Beatty — had film-transfer issues with the screening DVDs sent to voters, which the actor in turn blamed for the lack of votes.

Those with bad screeners and those who missed the film entirely have another opportunity to see what they missed as Rampart debuts on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

The dark drama is set in Los Angeles in 1999, with Harrelson as veteran police officer Dave Brown, a rogue cop who bends the rules as necessary for his survival and that of his family. Brown has two exes, both of whom are sisters, and two daughters. It’s a dysfunctional group, with Brown keeping tight reins. He sees his controlling nature as loving; his family views it as tyranny.

It’s when Brown is caught on camera chasing down an African-American suspect and beating the man nearly to death that his world begins to crumble, as outside forces seek to ruin him, making the renegade cop desperate and even more dangerous.

Rampart was co-written and directed Oren Moverman, who also co-wrote and directed 2009’s The Messenger, for which Harrelson was nominated. The story of a renegade authority figure is hardly fresh, but Harrelson breathes life into the bad cop cliché. His commanding performance — his darkest role since playing a sociopath on a murderous spree in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers — punctuates the film.

Brown is not as drug-fueled and over-the-top zany as Nicholas Cage’s rogue cop in 2009’s The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call — New Orleans. And, no, Harrelson didn’t win an Oscar. But it is a memorable and unexpected role from an actor once best known for playing a dimwitted but lovable bartender on a TV sitcom.