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Friday, June 28, 2013

Into the Woods Coming to the Silver Screen

Written by Kyle Slagley

There has long been a crossover between Hollywood and Broadway—whether it be actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Lane, Hugh Jackman, or most recently Tom Hanks jumping from the stage to the screen, or directors like Sam Mendes who flit from behind the curtain to behind the camera. Stories themselves also transcend mediums and anyone who knows anything about theatre can also rattle off a half a dozen shows that are also movies: Sound of Music, Lion King, Big Fish, Legally Blonde, Chicago, and yes, even Shrek.

Although it got very mixed reviews from critics and theatergoers—which are pretty much the same thing since theatre fans are some of the most critical people I know—the box office success of Les Miserables has more than likely opened the floodgates from a steady trickle to what will be a full-out tsunami of shows turned movies and movies turned shows.

One that I am looking forward to in particular is the Christmas 2014 release of Into the Woods, which looks to have a powerhouse Hollywood cast lined up. The show takes the storylines from Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel and weaves them all together using original characters The Baker and his wife, who are pitted against a witch. I mean, you can’t have a good fairy tale without a witch, right?

So far, casting reports are that the following stars are in some stage of negotiation: Johnny Depp playing the Wolf, Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal as the princes of Rapunzel and Cinderella, Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, James Corden as The Baker, Meryl Streep as The Witch, and Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. Quite the lineup if you ask me! Also, Rob Marshall, who directed the Oscar-winning film Chicago, is slated to direct.

It seems to me that films like this—ones that take a very well-known musical with a hyper-devoted following and put it on screen—usually appeal to only one audience, either the film crowd or the theatre crowd, but rarely both. In order to make money at the box office, filmmakers are now padding the cast with Hollywood A-listers. It seems to me that this will further entice moviegoers to see it, but in the long run as the trend continues, it will alienate the theatre crowd. Though there is obviously a lot more money in getting movie buffs to the movies than getting theatre buffs to the movies.

It remains to be seen how much of the original Stephen Sondheim music from the stage production makes it into the film, or how much the actors will sing. Rest assured, though, that if the film makes money (and with a cast like that, it will), it’s only a matter of time before we see Russell Brand taking on the role of Rum Tum Tugger.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Memoriam: Richard Matheson

Written by Jon Williams

Well-known American writer Richard Matheson passed away on Monday. He was 87.

Matheson was a screenwriter and author of novels and short stories in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. He was most recognized for his 1954 vampire novel I Am Legend. He also wrote the notable novels Hell House, What Dreams May Come, and A Stir of Echoes, among others.

I Am Legend, about a lone human survivor of a pandemic that has turned the populace into bloodthirsty vampires, has been adapted into a movie three separate times: The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price (1964), The Omega Man with Charlton Heston (1971), and I Am Legend with Will Smith (2007). Interestingly, it also influenced the development of zombie films, as it served as the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead, which has been a major influence on the horror genre. Matheson himself influenced many horror writers in his own right, among them Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Anne Rice. King and Hill teamed up to write the story “Throttle” in homage to Matheson’s story “Duel”; the two stories can be found together in an audio compilation entitled Road Rage.

In addition to his acclaimed novels and short stories, Matheson also wrote and adapted stories for film and television.  He wrote several episodes of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone, as well as the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within,” in which a transporter malfunction creates an evil manifestation of Captain Kirk. He adapted his own novels into the films The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Legend of Hell House, and Somewhere in Time, while What Dreams May Come came to the silver screen as well. More recently, the movies The Box and Real Steel were based on short stories by Matheson.

Matheson’s most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, was published in 2011. His voice will surely be missed by the genres he worked in and heavily influenced. For a full list of Richard Matheson audiobooks offered by Midwest Tape, click here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hot This Week: June 24

Four new titles leap atop this week's DVD list, headed by spinoffs of classic fantasy tales Hansel and Gretel and The Wizard of Oz. Heavy metal legends Black Sabbath take the music chart's top spot with 13, their first album with original lead singer Ozzy Osbourne since 1978. The top two fiction titles remain the same, but five new titles make the list; the non-fiction titles just shuffle their spots.

  1. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
  2. Oz the Great and Powerful
  3. Cloud Atlas
  4. Snitch
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. Escape from Planet Earth
  7. Safe Haven
  8. Mama
  9. Gangster Squad
  10. Parker
  1. Black Sabbath, 13
  2. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  3. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
  4. Big Time Rush, 24/Seven
  5. Florida Georgia Line, Here's to the Good Times
  6. Darius Rucker, True Believers
  7. Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story...
  8. Goo Goo Dolls, Magnetic
  9. Man of Steel Soundtrack
  10. The Lonely Island, The Wack Album
  1. Inferno, Dan Brown
  2. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
  3. Bad Monkey, Carl Hiaasen
  4. The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls
  5. The Eye of Moloch, Glenn Beck
  6. The King's Deception, Steve Berry
  7. The Last Original Wife, Dorothea Benton Frank
  8. Revenge Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
  9. The Hit, David Baldacci
  10. Zero Hour, Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
  1. Happy, Happy, Happy, Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach
  2. American Gun, Chris Kyle and William Doyle
  3. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell
  4. Dad Is Fat, Jim Gaffigan
  5. Keep It Pithy, Bill O'Reilly
  6. Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  7. The Guns at Last Light, Rick Atkinson
  8. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris
  9. The Duck Commander Family, Willie and Korie Robertson and Mark Schlabach
  10. The Unwinding, George Packer

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kanye Making Waves with Yeezus

Written by Kyle Slagley

Rapper and hip-hop artist Kanye West is nothing if not unconventional, and his latest album, Yeezus, which hit shelves on June 18, is no exception. Not only did West keep sales (including pre-orders) on the album completely closed until the scheduled street date, even the casing is something we’ve never seen. Below is a photo of what you’ll get when you buy it.

As you can see, there is no cover art on either the front or the back and there is no booklet included, simply the orange sticker that seals the case under the standard shrink-wrap. The back of the case does include a nearly transparent sticker indicating the track listing and various credits. The disc itself has small white print around the outer edge with basic album information.

In an effort to best represent the album as West intended, Midwest Tape customers whose processing package includes digital cover art will receive the album with the cover art pictured below. The spine will show a copy of the barcode sticker so the album is identifiable.

If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Service department at (800) 875-2785 or by email at

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Loss of Giants

Written by Jon Williams

The entertainment world was rocked on Wednesday night by the tragic passing of actor James Gandolfini. He was 51.

Gandolfini was best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO’s hit series The Sopranos. Playing the part demanded a mix of violence and vulnerability, and Gandolfini was more than equal to the task. He won three Emmy Awards (and was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor each season) for his portrayal of the character during its six-season run. The show itself was recently named the Best Written TV Show Ever by the Writer’s Guild of America.

Gandolfini’s co-stars have expressed their shock and sorrow at the actor’s passing. “He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity,” said Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano’s wife Carmela. Steven Van Zandt, who played the Soprano family’s consigliere Sil Dante, said, “The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time.” And Sopranos creator David Chase called Gandolfini “…a genius…he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”

Since The Sopranos ended in 2007, Gandolfini kept himself busy, appearing in recent movies such as The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Zero Dark Thirty. For a full selection of titles featuring this talented, beloved actor, click here.

Sadly, that wasn’t the only loss the media industry suffered on Wednesday. Vince Flynn, author of political thrillers featuring agent Mitch Rapp, lost a battle with cancer on Wednesday. He was 47.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush counted among Flynn’s fans. In fact, his portrayal of the CIA and its methods were known for being so accurate that President Bush once asked him where he got his information.

Flynn’s first novel, Term Limits (which is not a Rapp story), was published in 1997. His second novel, Transfer of Power, was the first to feature Rapp, and there are currently 13 novels in the Rapp series. The fourteenth, The Survivor, will be published in October.  He also consulted on the fifth season of the Fox series 24. Click here for a complete listing of Flynn’s novels.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Remembering Michael Jackson

Written by Jon Williams

It’s been nearly four years since the passing of Michael Jackson. The intervening years have done little to fill the void left by the silencing of his voice. On June 25, the fourth anniversary of his death, pop music stations will play his songs more frequently, if not all day, and his songs will emanate from car stereos and office cubicle CD players as fans celebrate the musical legacy the King of Pop left behind.

Born into a musical family in 1958, Jackson’s music career ostensibly began at age five when he began playing congas and tambourine for his brothers’ band. By the time he was eight, he was sharing lead vocal duties with his brother Jermaine, and the Jackson 5 was born. The family band signed with the prestigious Motown label in 1968, and their debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, was released in December of 1969. The group’s first single, “I Want You Back,” hit #1 in January of 1970, and a bona fide pop sensation was born.

Michael’s career as a solo artist began with the release of the album Got to Be There (available now only as part of Hello World, the compilation that collects Jackson’s four solo albums for Motown) in 1972, when he was just thirteen years old. He continued to record and perform with the Jackson 5 as well, eventually becoming the group’s primary songwriter. He branched out in other ways as well, starring as the Scarecrow in 1978’s The Wiz, an African-American spin on The Wizard of Oz. Although the film performed poorly at the box office, it wasn’t a complete failure for Michael—it was during this time that he met Quincy Jones, who arranged the film’s score, and asked him to produce his next album.

The rest, as they say, is history. The following year Jackson released the Jones-produced Off the Wall. The album, released on the Epic label, was an evolution from his work with Motown, incorporating elements of rock and disco. Supported by five singles, the album went on to sell over 20 million copies, earned Jackson his first Grammy Award, and eventually became known as one of the greatest albums of all time. Following up such a massive effort would be no easy task, but in 1982, Jackson and Jones teamed up once again on Thriller, an album even more successful than Off the Wall. Known for its title track and the music video that accompanied it, Thriller won eight Grammy Awards and has become the bestselling album of all-time.

Jackson and Jones would team up one more time, for Bad, released in 1987. While it didn’t quite measure up to the standards set by Thriller—how could it?—it still won six Grammys and became the first album to produce five #1 singles.

Jackson recorded and released three more albums (Dangerous, HIStory, and Invincible) before well-documented personal scandals began to take a toll on his career. He was rehearsing for a series of comeback performances when he passed away in 2009. His death at age 50 was a seminal cultural moment, causing crashes of such major Internet sites as Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia as people streamed to the Internet for information.

His passing caused a resurgence of interest in his musical career, which had seen little new output since Invincible in 2001. Later that year, the film This Is It was released (with an accompanying soundtrack), documenting Jackson’s rehearsals for the concert series he had planned. Then, in 2010, the posthumous album Michael was released, consisting of material left unfinished when Jackson died.

Four years later, interest in Jackson’s life and music remains strong. Later this month, a new Cirque du Soleil production (separate from its 2011 Immortal World Tour) will pay tribute to Jackson and his music. In addition, rumors continue to swirl about a huge trove of unreleased music that has yet to (officially) see the light of day. It seems safe to say that the world has not heard the last of Michael Jackson.

Make sure your patrons have access to the wide range of CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, and audiobooks by and about this global music icon. Head over to our website and SmartBrowse “Michael Jackson” and “Jackson 5” to see everything we have to offer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hot This Week: June 17

Fitting for a week which will see the zombie apocalypse film World War Z open in theaters, the zombie comedy Warm Bodies tops the DVD list. Rock powerhouse Queens of the Stone Age knocks Daft Punk from the top of the CD chart. The long-awaited sequel to The Devil Wears Prada from Lauren Weisberger makes its debut on the fiction list, while Chris Kyle's history of American firearms is the top newcomer on the non-fiction side.

  1. Warm Bodies
  2. Mama
  3. Broken City
  4. Gangster Squad
  5. Parker
  6. Jack Reacher
  7. The Last Stand
  8. Escape from Planet Earth 
  9. Silver Linings Playbook
  10. Safe Haven
  1. Queens of the Stone Age, ...Like Clockwork
  2. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  3. Sleeping with Sirens, Feel
  4. Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story...
  5. Darius Rucker, True Believers
  6. Megadeth, Super Collider
  7. Imagine Dragons, Night Visions
  8. Florida Georgia Line, Here's to the Good Times
  9. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
  10. Barenaked Ladies, Grinning Streak 
  1. Inferno, Dan Brown
  2. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
  3. Revenge Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
  4. The Kill Room, Jeffery Deaver
  5. Ladies' Night, Mary Kay Andrews
  6. Zero Hour, Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
  7. Deeply Odd, Dean Koontz
  8. The Hit, David Baldacci 
  9. Silken Prey, John Sandford
  10. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  1. Happy, Happy, Happy, Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach
  2. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell
  3. American Gun, Chris Kyle and William Doyle
  4. The Guns at Last Light, Rick Atkinson
  5. Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  6. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris
  7. Dad Is Fat, Jim Gaffigan
  8. Keep It Pithy, Bill O'Reilly
  9. The Duck Commander Family, Willie and Korie Robertson and Mark Schlabach
  10. Revolutionary Summer, Joseph J. Ellis

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Safety in the Summertime

Written by Jon Williams

Summer vacation. The break from school can be a delight for the kids, but it’s not always so easy for the adults in their lives. Here are a few resources your library can offer for parents, babysitters, and other caregivers to learn to keep kids safe during their favorite time of year.

One of the highlights of the summer season is hitting the pool or the beach on a hot day. While it’s good for a fun-filled excursion, the water presents a unique set of dangers. While there’s no substitute for good swimming lessons with a qualified instructor, it’s important for a child to know some general water safety tips. Make My World Safe…Around Water presents some important information in this regard. For patrons who have pools in their own backyards, Swimming Pool Inspection can help them make sure the pool itself is as safe as it can be. And exposure to the sun calls for some safety measures, too.

The pool is by no means the only place where safety is paramount. Another entry in the Make My World Safe series deals with keeping children safe on the playground. If they’re involved in sports (organized or otherwise) there are always some issues to consider. Bicycle safety is important for kids on the go, as is neighborhood safety. And it’s always important to remember that safety starts at home; that’s especially true as kids advance into their teenage years, when they may occasionally find themselves home (or elsewhere) alone.

Of course, no matter how much safeguarding you do, there’s always the possibility that an accident can happen. If one does, having someone who knows how to respond can be vital. To that end, caregivers should have a basic knowledge of first aid. That covers a wide variety of situations, from cuts and animal bites to broken bones and concussions. For more specific emergencies, CPR training can come in handy, and it’s important to note that the process is slightly different for adults and teenagers than for infants and children.

This is just a small sampling of products offered by Midwest Tape that promote safety and emergency preparedness. For more, head over to our website and search terms like ‘safety,’ ‘first aid,’ and ‘CPR.’

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hot This Week: June 10

Five new DVD titles grace this week's list, headed by the action flicks Gangster Squad and Parker. Daft Punk holds onto the top spot on the CD chart for a second consecutive week, followed by a couple of rock records from Alice in Chains and John Fogerty. Likewise, Dan Brown and Khaled Hosseini remain atop the fiction list, with Dean Koontz's latest tale of Odd Thomas debuting at #3.

  1. Gangster Squad
  2. Parker
  3. Jack Reacher
  4. The Last Stand
  5. Silver Linings Playbook
  6. Broken City
  7. The Guilt Trip
  8. Django Unchained
  9. Dark Skies 
  10. Life of Pi
  1. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories 
  2. Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
  3. John Fogerty, Wrote a Song for Everyone
  4. Little Mix, DNA
  5. Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story...
  6. Darius Rucker, True Believers
  7. The Great Gatsby Soundtrack
  8. Imagine Dragons, Night Visions
  9. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
  10. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
  1. Inferno, Dan Brown
  2. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
  3. Deeply Odd, Dean Koontz
  4. Zero Hour, Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
  5. The Hit, David Baldacci
  6. Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris
  7. Silken Prey, John Sandford
  8. 12th of Never, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  9. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  10. The Son, Phillip Meyer
  1. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell
  2. Happy, Happy, Happy, Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach
  3. Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  4. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris
  5. The Guns at Last Light, Rick Atkinson
  6. Keep It Pithy, Bill O'Reilly
  7. The Unwinding,  George Packer
  8. Dad Is Fat, Jim Gaffigan
  9. Cooked, Michael Pollan
  10. The Duck Commander Family, Willie and Korie Robertson and Mark Schlabach

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hot This Week: June 3

Five new titles grace this week's CD chart, headlined by the new release from Daft Punk, which some are already calling the soundtrack of the summer. New releases from Dan Brown and Khaled Hosseini debut atop the fiction list, while the non-fiction list welcomes the debut of legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson's memoir.

  1. Jack Reacher
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. The Guilt Trip
  4. Django Unchained
  5. This Is 40
  6. A Haunted House 
  7. Life of Pi
  8. Texas Chainsaw
  9. Parental Guidance
  10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  1. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  2. Darius Rucker, True Believers
  3. The National, Trouble Will Find Me
  4. French Montana, Excuse My French
  5. The Great Gatsby Soundtrack
  6. Thirty Seconds to Mars, Love Lust Faith + Dreams
  7. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
  8. George Strait, Love Is Everything
  9. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
  10. Lady Antebellum, Golden
  1. Inferno, Dan Brown
  2. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
  3. Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris
  4. 12th of Never, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  5. The Hit, David Baldacci
  6. Silken Prey, John Sandford
  7. A Chain of Thunder, Jeff Shaara
  8. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  9. A Delicate Truth, John LeCarre
  10. A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin
  1. Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  2. Happy, Happy, Happy, Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach
  3. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell
  4. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris
  5. The Guns at Last Light, Rick Atkinson
  6. Keep It Pithy, Bill O'Reilly
  7. Cooked, Michael Pollan
  8. Bunker Hill, Nathaniel Philbrick
  9. Dad Is Fat, Jim Gaffigan
  10. The Unwinding,  George Packer