Authors/Film & TV

Published on March 29th, 2020 | by Darren Paltrowitz


25 Book, Film & Music Recommendations To Help Get You Through Your Quarantine

It is currently March 29, 2020, and I haven’t left the confinements of my home — aside from trips to the mailbox and trash area — in close to a week and a half. Overall, my spirits are not down due to a mix of both gratitude, as things could always be much worse, and also having tons of great entertainment to consume. Below are 20 recent or forthcoming titles that you can still order in some form online, which ought to make your Coronavirus quarantine somewhat better.

Film: Standing Up, Falling Down

Standing Up, Falling Down is my favorite movie of 2020. Partially filmed in my hometown of Long Beach, New York — purely a coincidence — the film stars Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz as an unlikely duo of friends. While a dark film with plenty of dramatic moments, Standing Up, Falling Down is also filled with laughs as both Crystal and Schwartz have plenty of chances to show off their comedic chops. Those who purchase the DVD edition of the film will be treated to a full-length audio commentary which includes both Crystal and Schwartz, beyind some interesting featurettes about the cast and crew.

Lou Harry’s 101 Ways To Sleep With A Snorer

Lou Harry is an award-winning journalist, author, playwright and comedian. His podcast Lou Harry Gets Real is a live mix of insightful conversation, improv comedy and music. 101 Ways To Sleep With A Snorer gives you every trick known — or at least known by Mr. Harry — for dealing with your loud bedmate. Some have been passed down for generations, others recently discovered, and at least one will help you get a restful night’s sleep. Because, let’s face it, we all may be quarantined for a while.

Ultimate Fakebook’s The Preserving Machine

The sticker on the vinyl release of The Preserving Machine states that the album is recommended if you like “VHS tapes, iMacs, Neil Hamburger, Cheap Trick, the decline of the American empire, Superdrag, hope, paella, despair, Smell The Glove and Freak And Geeks.” American empire’s decline aside, yes to all. Especially the veiled Spinal Tap reference.

The music video for the album’s first single “After Hours At Melin’s” references a lot of the topics from the LP’s sticker, plus Andrew W.K., KISS, Mr. Show and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. So let’s just say that I am very on-board for Ultimate Fakebook’s first new album in 16 years. It’s great to see the trio of Bill McShane, Nick Colby and Eric Melin back and in peak form.

Film: Mystify Michael Hutchence

Simply put, Mystify Michael Hutchence is a powerfully intimate and insightful portrait of the internationally-renowned INXS frontman, who many consider to be one of the all-time great frontmen in rock. The film takes an in-depth look into the life and tragic death of Hutchence, thanks to writer and director Richard Lowenstein, who was a close friend of the singer. The Blu-Ray and DVD editions of the movie — which comes out on March 31st via Shout! Factory — includes over an hour of additional scenes not seen within the feature film.

Maura Spiegel’s Sidney Lumet: A Life

Author Maura Spiegel’s new book was described as the first and “likely definitive exploration of the director’s distinguished career” by Kirkus Reviews, and it is practically-impossible to dispute that on any level. Spiegel navigates the reader through Lumet’s family relationships and personal life, his work as an actor in both theater and film, and the onset of his fruitful filmmaking career, including the classic films Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men and Network.

Spiegel not only delves into Lumet’s acclaimed films, but also the specifics of his four marriages and two children, also drawing on Lumet’s unfinished memoirs, interviews with his friends, family and those he worked closely with. In turn, you have a book about a world-changing subject that was brilliantly-researched and brilliantly-written. Or as Publisher’s Weekly directly called it in a recently-published review, a “revealing and entertaining biography.”

Hall & Oates’ Our Kind Of Soul

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame act Hall & Oates — comprised of singers, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Daryl Hall and John Oates — recently announced the first ever vinyl release of its 2004 album Our Kind Of Soul via the Friday Music collector’s club. The album, which debuted in the Top 5 on Billboard’s Independent Albums Chart, features the legendary duo reinterpreting some of their favorite soul classics by Aretha Franklin, The O’Jays, Gladys Knight and other musical legends. Mastered for the first time for vinyl by Joe Reagoso (Todd Rundgren, Doobie Brothers) and Joe Gastwirt, this limited edition deluxe double-LP re-release also includes three original Daryl Hall and John Oates compositions: “Let Love Take Control,” “Soul Violins” and “Don’t Turn Your Back On Me.”

Our Kind Of Soul vinyl release aside, the duo is scheduled to be headlining a 32-date North American tour this summer with Squeeze and KT Tunstall supporting. This Live Nation-produced tour is still set to kick off this May at Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Notably, Hall & Oates recently performed at New York City’s Madison Square Garden — “the world’s most famous arena” — and that gig sold out months in advance. Tour dates and more can be found online at

Sunset Canyoneers’ Self-Titled LP

Sunset Canyoneers’ self-titled debut LP evokes the “Gram Parsons-to-Big Star” period when intoxicated Southern soul and rustic power-pop revived Country and Western and gave rich pleasure to the crossover pop charts. “High In The Sky” is a great starting point if you are not yet familiar. The group plans on rescheduling a lot of its recently-postponed tour dates. To stay up to date on all things surrounding The Sunset Canyoneers, you can follow them on Instagram via @SunsetCanyoneers and/or through

Seiche’s Demo Press LP via Jackpot Records

Seiche formed in Chicago as a recording project to show off the skills of the musicians and the engineer. The resulting record, Seiche’s Demo Press LP, was a hard psych/prog record released in 1981 that sounded like it came straight out of 1973. It was almost hard to find due to its initial release of 50 printed copies. This Jackpot Records reissue of th eoriginal release pulls out all the stops, as sourced from the original masters and loaded with archival and bonus materials.

Also new from Jackpot are vinyl re-issues of the Dune soundtrack from 1984, the Lurch 7″ by Ted Cassidy, Exotic Moog by Martin Denny and Is This Real? by The Wipers. Notably few bands inspired Kurt Cobain more than The Wipers did.

Cleve Hattersley’s Life Is A Butt Dial: Tales From A Life Among The Tragically Hip

Cleve Hattersley is a member of the Austin Music Hall Of Fame with his band Greezy Wheels, which recorded two albums on London Records and served as the house band of Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. He managed the Lone Star Cafe and Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, and traveled the world with Kinky Friedman. Interestingly, Hattersley is who I directly corresponded with to arrange a Kinky Friedman interview with last year for the Jewish Journal. In Hattersley’s memoir, he not only recaps highlights from his career, but tons of anecdotes related to some of your favorite entertainers. This includes Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Robin Williams, The Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson and the aforementioned Kinky Friedman.

Matt Moore’s Serial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection

Author of The South’s Best Butts and A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen, Serial Griller is the latest title from chef Matt Moore. In Serial Griller, Moore reviews the basics before taking readers on a tour of America to round up authentic stories, coveted recipes, and indispensable tips from grill masters of the South and beyond. This includes contributors from Death & Taxes’ Ashley Christensen,’s Meathead and Zahav’s Michael Solomonov. In other words, plenty of greats giving you wonderful things to make for family get-togethers, tailgates, and romantic nights-in. And let’s face it, what better time than now is there for grilling?

Jim Ross’ Under The Black Hat: My Life In The WWE & Beyond

If you were a fan of professional wrestling anytime within the last 40+ years, then you undoubtedly know who Jim Ross is. Not only has Ross been on-camera on a weekly basis for almost all of the world’s top wrestling companies for decades – many millions of people believe that Ross is indeed the greatest wrestling announcer of all time – but he was also responsible for signing some of the all-time top money-earners within the business. To name a few of the legends who Ross signed and/or helped develop, that list includes Chris Jericho, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Batista, Mick Foley, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Randy Orton, Edge, The Hardys and Kurt Angle.

But there is plenty more to Jim Ross’ life and accomplishments than his current work with AEW as lead announcer and a senior adviser. Notably, the Norman, Oklahoma resident has the acclaimed J.R.’s Family Bar-B-Q brand of products, which include barbecue sauces, jerkys and seasonings. Each week he hosts the Grilling JR podcast alongside Conrad Thompson, and as of this week, Ross becomes a published author yet again via the new Simon & Schuster titled Under The Black Hat, which has already hit #1 on a variety of sales lists although only available on pre-order.

On March 25, 2020, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Ross for the third time, as embedded above. The full interview is also set to appear on the the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast.

Michael Alago’s I Am Michael Alago

The quintessential New Yorker with an “only in New York” career, Michael Alago is a legendary music executive and published photographer. He is also known for his extraordinary work with Metallica, White Zombie, The Sex Pistols’ John Lydon, Cyndi Lauper and Nina Simone. In his new book I Am Michael Alago, Alago shares his successes in the music industry — like signing Metallica to their first major label recording contract, while battling stereotypes, addiction and life-threatening illness.

Beyond being the focal point of I Am Michael Alago: Breathing Music. Signing Metallica. Beating Death., Alago was also the subject of a 2017 documentary titled Who The F*** Is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey Of Michael Alago. Directed by Drew Stone and produced by Michael Alex, the film focused on Alago’s wildly successful career in music and was initially released to both Netflix and traditional movie theaters. Who The F*** Is That Guy? is also now available for viewing via Amazon Prime Video.

Embedded above is the audio from my March 24, 2020 phone interview with Alago himself, right in the midst of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Eric Jay Dolin’s A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History Of America’s Hurricanes

With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes. Hurricanes menace North America from June through November every year, each as powerful as 10,000 nuclear bombs. These megastorms will likely become more intense as the planet continues to warm, yet we too often treat them as local disasters and TV spectacles, unaware of how far-ranging their impact can be. As best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin contends, we must look to our nation’s past if we hope to comprehend the consequences of the hurricanes of the future. Other great titles by Dolin include Leviathan and Black Flags, Blue Waters.

Willie Nile’s New York At Night

Arguably a “singer/songwriter’s singer/songwriter,” Willie Nile’s loyal fanbase includes Bruce Springsteen, The Who’s Pete Townshend, U2’s Bono, Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter, Graham Parker, Jim Jarmusch, Little Steven and Lucinda Williams. As Lucinda Williams once stated: “Willie Nile is a great artist. If there was any justice in this world, I’d be opening up for him instead of him for me.”

New York At Night is Nile’s 13th studio album, as due out on May 15, 2020. Nile recorded New York At Night just across the river from New York City at Weehawken, New Jersey’s Hobo Sound. It was co-produced with longtime collaborator Stewart Lerman (Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Patti Smith) as Nile backed by his longtime live band — guitarists Matt Hogan and Jimi K. Bones, bassist Johnny Pisano, and drummer Jon Weber — along with renowned guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Steuart Smith (Eagles, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell) and pianist Brian Mitchell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, B.B. King).

Sailene Ossman’s CBD Cocktails Over 100 Recipes To Take The Edge Off

Sailene Ossman is a well-regarded hostess, pioneer and advocate of cannabis culture. From being the owner of a premiere cannabis delivery service in Los Angeles, to her Merry Jane network cooking show Smoke In The Kitchen, to hosting Glowing Goddess Getaways and Privée Social Club parties around the United States, Ossman has been entertaining, educating, and elevating with cannabis for decades.

Ossman is also the author of CBD Cocktails: Over 100 Recipes To Take The Edge off. This full-color book features one of the hottest trends in craft cocktails: CBD, the non-psychoactive extract from cannabis that aids anxiety, pain relief, and insomnia. So whether you want to add depth to a traditional mixed drink or are in need of stress-relieving juice, CBD Cocktails is an essential resource for using CBD.

Karen Blumenthal’s Jane Against The World

Karen Blumenthal is an award-winning children’s nonfiction writer and a long-time journalist. Her book Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine & The Lawless Years Of Prohibition received four-starred reviews and was a finalist for the YALSA Excellence In Nonfiction For Young Adults Award. Later on, Six Days In October: The Stock Market Crash Of 1929 was named a Sibert Honor Book, and Let Me Play: The Story Of Title IX, won a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.

Her latest title, Jane Against The World, is a deep and passionate look at the riveting history of the fight for reproductive rights in the United States. Tracing the path to the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade and the continuing battle for women’s rights, Blumenthal examines in a straightforward tone the root causes of the current debate around abortion and repercussions that have affected generations of American women. This eye-opening book is an ideal tool to facilitate difficult discussions and awareness of a topic that is rarely touched on in school but affects each and every young person.


Ian Nathan’s Quentin Tarantino: The Iconic Filmmaker & His Work

London-based Ian Nathan is one of the UK’s best-known film writers. He is the author of 9 previous books, including Alien Vault (the best-selling history of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece) and Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson & The Making Of Middle-earth. He is the former editor and executive editor of Empire, the world’s biggest movie magazine, where he remains a contributing editor. He also regularly contributes to The Times, The Independent and Cahiers Du Cinema.

Through in-depth and informative text, Quentin Tarantino: The Iconic Filmmaker & His Work examines the entirety of Tarantino’s work, including his early writing on screenplays (e.g. True Romance, Natural Born Killers before becoming a top director. It also goes behind the scenes of Tarantino’s latest epic Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. This is the ultimate celebration for any Tarantino fan.


Matthew Doucet’s You’ve Never Heard Your Favorite Song: 100 Deep Cuts to Make Your World Sound Better

Author Matthew Doucet is a writer and editor who lives in the foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. As noted within his online bio: “He spends his time trawling the internet for music and arguing with friends about things they don’t know all that much about.” Hence why Doucet is a great person to write You’ve Never Heard Your Favorite Song: 100 Deep Cuts to Make Your World Sound Better.

This book aims to force you to let go of your musical biases and dive into the deep cuts that are what music is really about. In Doucet’s eyes, your favorite song is out there waiting for you as you just need to go find it. You’ve Never Heard Your Favorite Song ought to help you relearn what makes a song great, and this pocket-sized book is perfect for referencing on the go. Edutainment done well, people.

Carlo DeVito’s The Godfather Classic Quotes

Carlo DeVito is a notable publisher, editor, winemaker and author of over a dozen books, including Mrs. Lee’s Rose Garden and Inventing Scrooge. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is one of the greatest movies of all time. An excellent pairing of a well-regarded author and classic film content, DeVito has compiled a collection of classic quotes from this film for a classic-looking Cider Mill Press title. As an example: “Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.” Arguably, this a title you cannot refuse.


Shane Carley’s True Facts That Sound Like Bull$#*t: 500 Insane-But-True Facts That Will Shock and Impress Your Friends

Author Shane Carley was born in New Hampshire and is known to be longtime aficionado of all types of alcohol. Hence Carley-penned titles like The Home Bartender, Red Cup Nation, The Mason Jar Cocktail Companion and The Martini Field Guide.

But Carley is also the author of True Facts That Sound Like Bull$#*t: 500 Insane-But-True Facts That Will Shock and Impress Your Friends. With this book, you can expect over 500 outrageous and real facts on everything from hippo sweat to stars in the galaxy. For example, “True or False: The dog that played Toto in The Wizard Of Oz was paid a salary.” So with some aid from Carley, you can gather your friends and family around for some trivia via Zoom.


Laura Hetherington & Rebecca Pry’s The Illustrated Histories Of Everyday Inventions: Discover The True Stories Behind The World’s 64 Most Overlooked Innovations

Laura Hetherington is a writer, actress and comedian based in New York City. Rebecca Pry is an illustrator and designer living in New York outside of Manhattan. The two joined forces for The Illustrated Histories Of Everyday Inventions, which uncovers the fascinating, humorous, and often unbelievable origins behind the world’s most overlooked innovations.

Do you know the backstory related to the creation of egg cartons? Breakfast sandwiches? Credit cards? No? Then you ought to read this interesting and amusing collaboration between Hetherington and Pry.



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A little competition. A lot of laughs. What are you watching this weekend?

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Hollywood Cocktails: Over 95 Recipes Celebrating Films From Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures, the oldest Hollywood studio in operation, has released countless award-winning and box office-busting movies that have spanned the age of cinema, from the medium’s silent advent to talkies, color and CGI blockbusters. Hollywood Cocktails features more than 100 cocktails inspired by over 100 iconic films, all released by Paramount Pictures. This gorgeously-illustrated collection of star-power is filled with film facts and detailed recipes that guarantee you’ll never again be wondering what to drink or watch, thanks to the folks at Paramount.

The same publisher has also given the world Speedy Cocktails, London Cocktails and Tokyo Cocktails in case movies are less your thing. Tokyo Cocktails is subtitled “An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired By The Eastern Capital,” and that’s one I hope to check out at some point. Its author Nicholas Coldicott has written about the city’s food and drink scenes for numerous publications, including Conde Nast Traveller, Time Out Tokyo, Japan Times and Departures.

Pam Tillis’ Looking For A Feeling

Pam Tillis is a Grammy-nominated artist who has taken home the Country Music Association’s “Female Vocalist Of The Year” hours. Beyond being the child of Hall of Famer Mel Tillis, the Plant City, Florida-born songwriter/chanteuse has been blurring lines between country, rock and soul for decades. Looking For A Feeling is her 11th studio album, as due out on April 24th via Stellar Cat Records. It includes contributions from the likes of Waylon Payne, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Tia Sillers, Mark Selby, Bob Regan, and Matraca Berg. It is both an introspective and retrospective album, and its title track can currently be streamed via Rolling Stone Country.

The Harmed Brothers’ Across The Waves

Fronted by Ray Vietti and Alex Salcido, this Ludlow, Kentucky-based group beautifully marries Americana with compelling indie-rock sounds, cas oupled with indelible melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Its new album Across The Waves is scheduled for a June 5th release via Portland indie label Fluff & Gravy. It is available on limited-edition clear vinyl, as a black-colored LP, on CD and digitally.

Steven Dayvid McKellar’s ETHIO

Steven Dayvid McKellar first made people around the world take notice as the founder of the acclaimed rock band Civil Twilight. ETHIO is his solo debut and serves as a musical manifestation of his conclusions. A streamlined set of songs driven by warm, precisely arranged synthetic and acoustic tones, its eight songs celebrate not only melody and rhythm, but the space and silence among the measures. The Capetown, South Africa native is based in Nashville these days, and beyond his Radiohead meets Wilco meets David Byrne music, he is also a great painter.


Sheena Kamal’s Fight Like A Girl

Award-winning thriller writer Sheena Kamal has just released her debut YA novel via Fight Like A Girl. Within this title, main character Trisha is trying to break the chain of violence within her dysfunctional family, initially channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing; interestingly Kamal herself has trained in Muay Thai. Also new from the Strand Critics Award winner is the novel No Going Back. More on the Canadian author can be found online at

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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