How To Have A Moon-Tastic Themed Halloween

October 29, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment

Sailor Moon mangaIf you’re a 90’s kid and an anime fan, you’ll know that the hot topic online is the re-release of the “Sailor Moon” manga. Whether your goal was to be the Moon Princess, Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Mars, or the evil Queen Beryl as a child, “Sailor Moon” inspired a generation and instilled them with many fond memories.

If you want to avoid the run of the mill Halloween costumes and want to pay homage to your favorite anime, I have compiled a list of the best “Sailor Moon”-themed costumes on the ‘net so that you too can fight evil by moonlight and win love by daylight.
Sailor Moon

Sailor Mercury

Sailor Jupiter

Sailor Mars

Sailor Venus

Sailor Chibi Moon

Sailor Saturn

Sailor Pluto

Sailor Uranus

Sailor Neptune

Tuxedo Mask


Whether the Outer Senshi or the Inner Senshi were your favorites, you too can pay homage to your favorite ‘90s anime for Halloween this Monday and fight evil by moonlight and win love by daylight!

Sailor Moon 1 (English)

A Review of Michelle Moran’s Novel, “Cleopatra’s Daughter”

April 10, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment

Michelle Moran’s young adult novel “Cleopatra’s Daughter” is an engaging read for the teen set.Michelle Moran’s young adult novel “Cleopatra’s Daughter” is an engaging read for the teen set. It brings the world of the Ptolemies and Augustan Rome and the ruling cast of characters to life in a way that many sixteen year olds can relate to, all while educating them on important historical events and fears: Augustus’s reign, the fear of slave revolts, and Rome becoming an empire.

Cleopatra Selene, while the disgraced daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony, is a feisty, strong-willed character who does not give up. Her alienation in a land that was the sworn enemy of her mother allows teenagers, who often feel alienated as well, to sympathize and even begin to understand her plight.

There is also the “fitting in” aspect of her novel. Against her original inclinations, Selene begins to make friends amongst the Romans; Julia, the daughter of Agustus, Marcellus, the son of Octavia and boy on whom Selene develops a crush, and Gallia, a Gaulish Princess turned slave. There is the often antagonistic Juba, the deposed Numidian prince turned bodyguard for Caesar Augustus and the cruel, mean-spirited Livia, wife of Augustus, who often makes life difficult for the both the Ptomlemaic children and the children of the Roman imperial family.

Moran also does a wonderful job of creating and resolving internal conflicts. Selene is at first wary of Octavia, but by the end of the novel, she does come to respect the woman who, in her own way, does show her compassion and support. Octavia, while never replacing Selene’s mother, does support her adoptive daughter; mainly by trying to protect her from an unhappy marriage with a senator older than her and by having her train as an architect.

There are also the heartbreaking deaths that occur in the novel. Michelle exquisitely captures the heartbreak that anyone who has ever lost a loved one will understand. Selene’s grief and coping mechanisms will break the reader’s heart and make them feel as if they too, have lost someone special in their lives.

Ethics are also integral to the plot. The mysterious Red Eagle, who stages slave revolts and frees the downtrodden, is an important focal point for the plot. With Augustus trying desperately to keep his new-found power in place, Rome is rife with fear and suspicion. No one is safe, not even Marcellus, who is considered the heir apparent to his Uncle, Caesar Augustus. With the character of Gallia giving voice to the hundreds of those in slavery, readers get a sense of just how awful Rome could be to those conquered.

Finally, what story wouldn’t be complete without a little romance? Selene and Juba’s relationship, so often antagonistic, progresses wonderfully throughout the course of the novel. Juba is a dashing romantic hero that will have teen girls swooning and longing for a young Numidian Prince of their very own. His care and concern for Selene, despite her trying to push him away, is extremely touching.

Moran brings history to life and makes it palatable for the teen and young adult set in a way that few authors are able to do. It is quite obvious that she has done her historical research, and she has done a fantastic job at giving the teenaged Princess Cleopatra Selene a voice. For readers, young and old, looking for an engrossing historical read, “Cleopatra’s Daughter” is a must-have for your bookshelf! Michelle Moran Spotlight

Cleopatra’s Daughter: A Novel

A Review of Stephanie Dray’s Book “Lily of the Nile”

March 08, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment

When we think of Queen Cleopatra VII, we usually think of Liz Taylor in her stunning performance as the famous Queen, or of a sexed-up, indulgent woman who died by a bite from an asp. However, we do ourselves a disservice to pigeon-hole the Queen into a box. She was not a sexy temptress or a harridan, Queen Cleopatra VII was a shrewd politician, who fought to save her country and her children by Caesar and Marc Antony from the nefarious clutches of Octavian, who would later be known as Augustus Caesar.

It is of Cleopatra VII’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene that Stephanie Dray writes. Not much is known about Cleopatra Selena, aside from the fact that after her parents were killed, Augustus raised Selene and her two remaining brothers, Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus in his household. Selene eventually marries Juba II of Mauretania, and becomes his ruling Queen in the fullness of time. The fate of her brothers however, is unknown.

Taking these facts, Dray composes a stunning novel that looks at how important Cleopatra Selene was to history, how her Ptolemaic heritage would eventually shape her future kingdom of Mauretania, and a look at how the Isaic faith is the forerunner of Christianity.

What Dray reveals is a likeable young teen who readers can relate to that is interwoven with a firm knowledge of history. She uses the correct Egyptian terms, such as sekhem for power and heka for magic, which gives her novel a taste of authenticity that can often be lacking in other historical fiction novels.

The blending of Isaic magic and actual history give “Lily of the Nile” a flavor that’s all its own and allows it to stand out amongst the other countless historical novels in the aisles of Barnes and Noble. Also, her re-interpretation of Octavian as a cold, calculating and ruthless ruler who has a love/hate relationship towards the memory of Selene’s mother shows that the Golden Age of Augustus was founded on the blood of Caesarion, the true heir of Julius Caesar, as well as Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony. His power is not secure, despite what his propaganda proclaims, and he needs the “lamentable embassy of royal orphans” to build up his power base. He wants obedient puppets; and while Selene is willing to manipulate his weaknesses for her own ends, her twin brother Alexander Helios is far more openly defiant, which causes conflicts between the twins who may just be the Saviors that the Isaics-and the East-need.

It highlights the seemingly eternal conflict of East versus West, and makes the reader wonder: what would history have been like if Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony won? “Cleopatra hadn’t just preached partnership and trust as a political creed; she’d lived it. Two Roman generals had taken her as a wife. In doing so, they proved by personal and political example that women and men could work together as rulers and equals, just as East and West could come together in a peaceful partnership.” (Dray, 95)

Had Cleopatra’s vision ultimately won the day, the world might have become a more peaceful-and tolerant-place than it is now. However tantalizing that vision is, it is her daughter, Cleopatra Selene, who is her ultimate legacy. She was a Princess in exile who studied the Roman ways and turned her defeat into her advantage. Dray’s delightful and strong Cleopatra VII and Selene are characters that come alive and who are strong women. They are there for readers to take inspiration from in a modern world so dominated by misogyny and patriarchy. It’s a relief to read about strong women who fight for what they believe in, and to see characters that are not pigeon-holed into the usual female stereotypes.

Readers will be drawn into this world and will end their experience hungering for more. While the sequel is not due out until Autumn 2011, they can get their fix by visiting Stephanie Dray’s official website here:

Lily of the Nile Book

Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray Paperback

Lily of the Nile Kindle

Dave Mustaine – Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir Review

August 30, 2010 By: Category: Entertainment

MustaineMustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir is more than just a book about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Dave Mustaine’s autobiography tells the story of the insecurities and demons of one of the most influential frontmen in heavy metal music history. Like Megadeth the book is fast, heavy, and memorable.

Dave Mustaine’s place in music history is often appreciated by metal fans, yet under appreciated by the masses. I don’t care what anyone says, without Dave Mustaine Metallica would probably have sounded a lot different which means the course of metal history may have been written by someone else. Beyond Dave Mustaine’s place in Metallica, his licks, his song writing, and his innovative music in Megadeth have probably inspired more hard rock and metal musicians today than any metal band not named Metallica. The fact that his influence transcends the two biggest thrash metal bands of all time is just simply remarkable.

As much as I respect and admire Dave Mustaine, the book was a bit of a mixed bag to me. In addition to reading Dave’s story, I was hoping to hear about what it was like to be in the trenches of the great thrash movement. I wanted to hear road stories of what it was like touring with other thrash bands. I wanted to hear what it was like meeting your music idols once he achieved success. I wanted to hear about how he came up with a lot of those memorable riffs from the early albums that still hold up three decades later. I wanted to hear how a great guitar player makes the leap to becoming a great lead singer. Sadly, Dave only touched on some of those issues without a whole lot of detail or should I say the amount I was hoping to read.

Dave spends a huge portion of the book talking about his countless stints in drug and alcohol rehab and his years of battling addiction. I think even the most casual Megadeth fans are aware of Dave’s legendary demons. By about page 300 I found myself just thumbing through those pages because it was the same thing over and over again. I get it, he used a lot of drugs, went through a lot of rehabs, and wasn’t ready to clean up until he made that choice. But I didn’t need to read about it over and over again. Compound that with an entire chapter about Dave’s interests in religion and you have about four chapters worth of material which would have been nice if I wanted to read the book about the recovery of Joe Smith, but not the book about Dave Mustaine.

The Metallica-Dave Mustaine story has been the fodder of metal chat for decades. If you wanted to read about the “feud” or split, Dave spends a great deal of time writing about it. I have to be honest. Dave writes at the end of the book that he has buried his ill feelings about the split. Yet he spends quite a lot of time talking about it. To say that he still carries a lot of pain from the firing is an understatement. As for Dave’s story of events, they are about the same as the Metallica version.

It is really up to the reader to decide who is right or wrong. In the end, the band can decide to do whatever they want. However, Dave tells a fascinating story about Metallica keeping his music on Kill Em All without his consent. I am sure stuff like that happens all of the time in music. But Dave makes sure throughout the book that fans know which songs were his and used without his permission. Could Metallica have pulled off a phenomenal rookie effort like Kill Em All without Jump in the Fire, Motorbreath, or Dave’s solos on Hit the Lights? I think that is a great question to ask, yet something we will never know.

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir

What I found even more fascinating about the Metallica story is that Dave would go on and do the exact same thing to his Megadeth bandmates over, and over again. Amazing that something he would repeat something so traumatic to him, countless times in his own band. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Megadeth has had almost 20 different band members since its inception. Ironically Dave never once mentions in the book the coincidence between these behaviors. I am far from a psychiatrist but my first inclination is to think that Dave was so messed up by the Metallica firing that he needs to do the same thing in his band in order to give himself some kind of self worth since Metallica felt he was worthless.

I was really hoping to hear Dave talk about some of his famous tours and other bands, but he is extremely vague when talking about other bands if he does at all. Dave briefly touches on relationship with Kerry King. Dave talks about Kerry’s early days in Megadeth and only says that he thought Kerry would leave Slayer for Megadeth but “he couldn’t be further from the truth.” Yet he never actually says what happened between him and Kerry. Never talks about the Clash of the Titans tour in any detail at all. He never talks about breaking through to big arena headlining shows in the early 1990s or even talks about the fall of heavy metal when alternative music broke through with Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The bottom line is that I really hoped to read a lot more than a book mainly about his drug and alcohol abuse.

Megadeth with Kerry King in 1984

I was surprised that Dave never addressed some important stories and rumors involving past band members. Dave reportedly asked Chris Poland to come back into the band for Rust in Peace and later for the System has Failed. Dave never mentioned either story. Dave’s take on why he kicked Chris out of the band and Chris’ version of why he left are also much different. Chris’ replacement Jeff Young has also denied Dave’s allegations of drug abuse over the years. These are all fascinating stories that I would have loved to hear Dave’s take on at some point in the book.

There were a lot of things I found incredibly interesting that I didn’t know about Megadeth. Dave talks about trying to reunite the Rust in Peace lineup for The System Has Failed. I never knew about Dave Mustaine’s arm and hand problems and the fact that he almost lost his ability to play guitar. There is also some interesting stories regarding the art work for Killing is my Business and some of the songs. I don’t want to give away to many spoilers, but even the most passionate of Megadeth fans will find some surprises in Mustaine.

Dave Mustaine is also brutally honest when assessing the musical changes in Megadeth beginning with Cryptic Writings, Risk, and, The World Needs a Hero. As a huge Megadeth as a teenager, I can’t tell you how angry and upset I was for years with my favorite band for these albums. Something like Risk can never take away the musical genius of Peace Sells, but my God what was he thinking? Well he writes all about it and it is really a fascinating story and I have a great deal of respect for him for acknowledging the music. However, it amazes me even more that for a couple of records that he admits that were mistakes that he continues to crowbar songs from these albums into his current tour.

Speaking of tours, I just caught Megadeth on the American Carnage tour. After reading about Dave’s close call with retirement, the abuse his body has taken over the last four decades, and the fact that Dave is closing in on 50, I am amazed at how great he still is in 2010. Dave nailed all of his classic riffs, including the whole Rust in Peace masterpiece and hasn’t lost a step as a live performer. I am even more blown away after reading his book.

Sadly, the book ends with Dave going into the studio to record Endgame. There are no chapters about the historic Big Four Tour, nor does he ever write about Dave Ellefson returning to Megadeth other than a dinner they had where Ellefson apologized. After reading about over 300 pages about the ups and downs of Dave Mustaine’s relationship with Metallica, the Big Four tour would have been a true storybook ending. It wouldn’t surprise me to see an additional chapter added to the paperback version of the book. Amazing how that happens isn’t it?

I know I have bashed Dave Mustaine’s book quite a bit during this review, but in the end I would highly recommend it if you are a Megadeth fan. It was really cool to read about certain points in Megadeth history and recollect where I was in my youth at the time and relive my teenage years listening to Megadeth on my Walkman on the way to school. As I said earlier, the book moved incredibly fast, although that shouldn’t be surprising coming from the same guy that wrote some of the fastest music in metal history over the last four decades.

Order Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir

Megadeth – Rust In Peace Live DVD

Megadeth: Rust in Peace Live

Megadeth – Endgame

Amazon’s Megadeth Store

Check out the iTunes Store Music for all of these and other great metal tunes.