MERCHANDISE REVIEW: Jackson 5- The Complete Animated Series DVD Boxset

When I heard that the Jackson 5 Animated series was finally coming to DVD, I just knew I had to have it.

Michael Jackson fans far and wide have had this collection in the "bootleg" form for ages (don't tell me I'm the only one who grabbed a copy or two up outside of the Apollo Theatre...) The quality was honestly just never that good so, this is like a dream come true for anyone that's been wishing to see this series in high definition. You guys won't believe how much I went through to get this darn DVD. I went to stores far and wide and when I finally found it (on sale -eep!) I got so excited that I bought two!

My dad actually recorded about 7 or 8 episodes of this show for me as a child, when it re-aired on BET in the 90s. I feel so blessed to have been introduced to Michael at such a young age.  I remember taking that VHS tape with me everywhere I went. The fun thing about the Jackson 5 cartoons was that I was introduced to some of their music during every episode. Each one features 2 songs *which have been remastered on the DVD*.

This is a great collection on 2 discs. The DVD set features 46 remastered Jackson 5 songs and both seasons of the show, 23 full-length episodes in total. The colors are bright and bold and the music is crisp and clear. In retrospect, I wish that the boys had done the voice work on this but, for those of you who will be sharing with little ones, it won't make a true difference either way. (When I was young I always thought that Michael's voice on the cartoon was really him...)

The set comes with a booklet inside, which shows the order and titles of each of the episodes. It would have been helpful to have this list on the back of the DVD cover, as taking that little booklet out can be cumbersome.  Here's the episode list:

Disc 1
It All Started With...
Pinestock, U.S.A.
Mistaken Identity
Bongo, Baby, bongo
The Winner's Circle
The Wizard of Soul
The Tiny Five
The Groovatron
Ray and Charles: Superstars
Farmer Jacksons

Disc 2

Jackson Island
The Michael Look
Jackson Street, U.S.A.
Rasho Jackson
A Rare Pearl
Who's Hoozis
Michael White
Groove to the Chief
Michael in Wonderland
Jackson and the Beanstalk
The Opening Act

You can either skip through chapters or press play and watch the entire season in one shot. I tend to just press play and when I did the same with Season 1 of this, the DVD played through seamlessly. Most of these episodes are based on following the Jackson 5 around on tour and seeing what kooky and fun adventures they get into. Each of the brothers has their own distinct set of characteristics, the songs are truly a blast from the past, and the episodes are all unique and easy for both children and adults to understand.

Whether you are a Jackson 5 fan or not, this is a  nostalgic and fun family-oriented animated series. 

The cheapest I've seen this on the web is at I'd say this is quite a good price for what we are getting. Particularly if you get the DVD instead of the Blu-Ray, try and catch this on sale. I promise you won't be disappointed!

ALSO- check out my newly updated post about this cartoon:

Thanks for reading and until next time...

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Book Review: Before He Was King by Todd Gray

Hey everyone! 

I have been having a pretty good week. I was off for Martin Luther King. Jr. day and was fortunate enough to be able to stay home, relax, and watch the inauguration on television. Watching the First Family always means so much to me - super inspiring!

I am back with another review today with one of my favorite Michael Jackson photo books. With the Michael Jackson Opus leading the way, fans saw an influx of photo books published after Michael's death. (Ahh, typing "Michael's death just sent shivers through my spine-- I don't think I can ever get used to saying that.)

"Before He Was King" by Todd Gray, is something I've had on my Must Haves list for a really long time. It was published in November 2009 and retailed for about $25.00. Many of the pages contain little stories or anecdotes from Todd Gray's experience working as Michael's personal photographer from 1974-1984. I recently found a like new copy of this on amazon and knew that I had to grab it right away. If I had a coffee table, it would be right there on it.
For now it is on my kitchen table... :-)

Let's start with the title: I'd suppose that if you believe Thriller is when Michael Jackson officially became a "KING" in the world of popular music, the title would be accurate. I'd like to think that Mike was always a king in some sense of the word but I do love the title because it draws the average reader in.

Here is an excerpt from Gray where he reflects on these years spent photographing Michael:

"My photographs of Michael, from 1974 to 1984, show him as the engaging, charming, youthful person he was before the insatiable demands of his extraordinary celebrity bore so heavily on him. As I reflect, I realize now that this was the time before he was King."

This book contains 100 never before seen and high quality photos of Michael Jackson through the late 1970's and early '80's. I especially enjoyed the behind the scenes captures from the Triumph tour, like the one below.

In terms of packaging, this 144 page book is pretty sturdy and I haven't had any issues with it thus far (although I did see some reviews about the binding being a problem for some). I take care of my Michael Jackson collection pretty well and usually don't have problems with pages falling out.

What I like about "Before He Was King" is the fact that its so offbeat and it covers a topic and time in Michael's career that is so rarely spoken about. The Off The Wall era was special in so many ways and I'm grateful that this was made to document some of those special moments. Flipping through the photos in this was so nostalgic and I found myself daydreaming that I was in my car, driving down the highway into the sunset with "Girlfriend" on blast.

Oh, how I love that album.

Anyway...  GET YOUR COPY Michael Jackson: Before He Was King  ... it's on Amazon both new and used! 

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Have You Ever Been Catfished?

Have you ever had a situation or instance in your life that made you feel like you were dreaming? Sometimes I feel like I'm living a dream, like life is something I'm looking in on instead of experiencing. And I mean that mostly in a good way.

But what about when your reality all turns out to be a figment of your imagination?

I saw the show Catfish for the first time when I went to visit my sister's new living space. I knew that the show was a pretty big deal on TV but I only noticed recently how close it hits to home. The show features a new story every week about someone who is on one end of an online-based relationship. Sometimes they are afraid of meeting the other person because they themselves have sent fake photos but other times, they find out that the person that they'd been corresponding with for years has been someone totally different.

The episode I saw was the story of Tyler (a really gorgeous guy) and Amanda, his blond blue-eyed, beautiful girlfriend of 2 years..... When they tracked Amanda down, they found that she really was a he... An African-American gay male, pretending to be a straight woman.... And he'd done this with hundreds of other guys!
Well it was just intense and I totally am going to be watching more of this show. But it just made me think... You never really know who you're talking to on the other side of the screen.

You might remember my entry a while back about my top tips for how to make friends in the Michael Jackson community. One of my main recommendations was to find an online forum or meetup to start off. I can name several people that I've met online that have become of the best friends I have in the world. In fact, one of my BEST friends in this world - hey Allen!... I found ONLINE.

I was transferring from one campus of my university to another and did a simple.... Well, a moderate Facebook search to find others in my major... And he seemed fun in the photos. I messaged him to ask about the program and eventually we met up months later and became the best of friends. We've been friends for 6 or 7 years now and he's one of the few people I truly can say I've been the best of friends with. He always teases that he's my only friend.... Haha, but doesn't mean it! Anyway he lives overseas now but whenever he's home for the summer he always makes a pitstop to see me for a few days.

I've met DOZENS upon DOZENS of my Michael Jackson fan friends online and we've become real life friends who hang out from time to time. The online thing has just never really failed me... Hell, most of the best moments in my life were shared with those I met (or reconnected with *smile*) on the internet. I've been blessed to have never been catfished but, it tends to happen quite often in the community. I know so many folks that thought they were friends with Paris Jackson, Grace the nanny, and heck-- even Michael HIMSELF. Michael Jackson fans, well... Sometimes we can be a lil on the imaginative side. You've really got to use your judgment though.

Don't get catfished.

Have you ever been friends with someone in the MJ Community online and became friends in real life?

Have you ever been catfished?

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Lessons from Michael: You can't take away my light.

A lot of people will never walk in my shoes and I dare not ask them to understand where I am coming from when I say this-- but I refuse to let anyone bring me down. It's happened before and it's something that I promised myself I'd never let happen again.

If you have confidence in yourself and know that you've done things and gone places that you'd never imagined you'd experience-- what can anyone say to bring you down? Never let anyone try and belittle you or make you feel inadequate. You know in your heart that you are a special person and that you've done things to make yourself and whatever higher power you believe in PROUD.  You don't need to brag... or tell people what you do, where you went to school, what you've accomplished just to get recognition. But you KNOW within yourself you are special... and really, what else should matter?

I call that piece of self knowledge one's inner light.

As long as your light continues to shine... at the end of the day, that's all that matters. Everyone goes through ups and downs but one of the things I've learned is the importance of my inner light. Don't allow anyone to take that away from you or change your own perception of who you are. Once I realize that someone is just waiting for me to fail or "mess up" -- I realize that they are not someone who needs to have a strong presence in my life. Some might say that I'm being negative or not giving people a chance but it's important to always recognize the truth in what people show you. You shouldn't have to justify your intuition or self knowledge to anyone. I don't search for perfection but, I do search for loyalty and love in everyone. If I don't see that you have my best interest at heart, then I usually only let you but so far into my life. And there's no need to waste my time or energy explaining the decision or rationalizing why I don't want to be a story on someone's daily gossip timeline.

Don't let anyone dim your inner light. 

Michael held onto that inner light until the very end. With all that he had been through in the 50 short years of his life, he could still speak about "L.O.V.E.". That is so admirable about him. No matter how wrong people did him, no matter how much betrayal, or turmoil he had been through... he knew who he was. And no one could ever take that away.

Lessons from Michael:   No one is perfect. You may not be a perfect person, but refuse to let anyone tear you down or extinguish the light that shines from within.

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How to Meet & Make Michael Jackson Fan Friends

For a while now I have been talking about how much my MJ fan friends mean to me. We have a special bond because we are so closely connected to Michael that the way we connect to each other is THROUGH his music, his love, and his overall message. 

Here are some of my personal tips and recommendations for finding and making lifelong friends within the Michael Jackson community.

(MJFanGirl with some of the THIS IS IT background dancers.)

1. Find Fans! 

In my years of making Michael Jackson fan friends, I have found that the most surefire way to find like-minded individuals has been on online Michael Jackson fanclubs and forums. Some of my favorites back in the day were MJJForum (now MJJCommunity), the Michael Jackson chatroom on America Online, and believe it or not- just using to do random searches for Michael's lyrics and upcoming events, which would lead me to lots of those homemade Angelfire and AOL Hometown fan sites. Those were the ways that worked the best for me in finding other Michael Jackson fans in my age group. 

Now there are so many more options! With the introduction of social media, one can use Facebook, Twitter, fan forums, and even Instagram as tools to help connect with other Michael Jackson fans. I would recommend singing up for one of my favorite forums - MJJCommunity and creating a Twitter account. MJJCommunity is not as active as it used to be pre-June 2009 but, there are many threads (hundreds of them) and thousands in the archives, that will expose you to some of the pointed and intricate conversations that other MJ fans are having.  If you are a Facebook lover,  there are several groups for MJ fans that you can find by doing a simple search of MJ Fans, Dangerous Album, Michael Jackson Fans, or even Michael Jackson's smile. By writing on the wall or just reading what others are talking about, you can choose to participate in some really great and fun convos. Lastly, Twitter is helpful because it literally provides minute to minute updates on what is going on in the Michael Jackson community and if you're more into the gossip/scandal/latest happenings type of convo- this is definitely for you. I tend to stay away from the drama on Twitter but, find it to be easy to make friends because other fans are always talking about what songs they are playing, what Michael-related Youtube videos they are watching etc. (Psst- follow me on Twitter here!

2. Share Your Favorites. 

A guaranteed way to make friends in the Michael Jackson fan community is to share your favorites! If you have landed upon this article because you were looking for a way to make friends in the fan world, you already have an idea that there's a huge difference between the general fan and the big Michael Jackson fan. If you are looking for those who have an understanding of Michael's music outside of "Billie Jean" and "Black or White", you need to open up and share what your favorite's are!  One of my best friends today is a woman who knows and loves almost every song I love--- she is like my MJ fan twin! 

I usually start off by saying "What's your favorite song?". Michael fans usually can never choose just one- so that opens up conversation for a lot! You could also talk about your favorite Michael moments, maybe your favorite fan forum to visit, or even discuss how you became a Michael Jackson fan in the first place. 

I started off as a fan of the Jackson Five, so when I first got the chance to interact with other fans, I really craved getting to know those who loved Michael's music from the Motown era and when he was a part of a group as well.   I remember the first time I spoke to someone who shared my love for the song "Someone Put Your Hand Out". She was a fan from Australia who I'd met online back when I was in high school, and we went on to have many phone and chat messenger conversations. It was just this really cool friendship that we developed and as many MJ fan relationships, we are on and off friends. Our friendship is always there but it sort of moves in waves- despite this, I always love speaking with her when I get a chance and always remember how good of friends we were after sharing our favorite songs with each other.  

3. Start a Conversation - a non-Michael related one! 

One of the important things to realize about having Michael Jackson fan friends is knowing that you usually will have much more in common that just being a Michael Jackson fan. Many of the people that become fans of Michael Jackson actually have a LOT in common. Start a conversation! 

Don't be afraid to deviate away from the topic of the King of Pop around Michael Jackson fans. I find that many fans (like myself) have sort of obsessive personalities and have at LEAST one or two more things that make us tick. I have many other interests and I am always so amazed at how versatile and interesting other fans are. Whether you are talking about others in the Jackson family or your favorite television show or places you've traveled to... or even your favorite class in school-  Try it!

4. Choose wisely. 

I will be the first to admit that there are a LOT of different people in the Michael Jackson fan community.

Like any other situation where you are looking to make friends, I urge you to take it slowly and be observant before you jump head-first into a friendship. I've made dozens of friends throughout the years in the Michael Jackson community and I am happy to say that I am still friends with the majority of them. However, just because someone is an MJ fan, doesn't mean that you have to be friends, that you will get along, or that you'll even have much in common besides loving Michael. I tend to gravitate towards people who not only love solo Michael but also appreciate the Jackson 5/Jacksons eras, those who are climbing the career ladder (like myself!) and also those who are laid-back, like to shop, and are open-minded people. Not everyone in the #MJFam is like this... but I don't sweat it! There are always plenty fan-fish in the sea ... :-).

6. Don't sweat the small stuff. 

"But they told me... a man should be faithful and walk when not able and fight til the end but I'm only human..."      The last and perhaps, most important point is--- remember, we are all human. We all make mistakes, have quirks and slip-ups. We all have things about us that make us unique and depending on the day and time-- can make us annoying! Don't sweat the small stuff!

(Me on the far right at my very first fan event-- making a banner of support for the trial in 2005!)
Remember, most Michael Jackson fans have not have experiences with best friends. I have found that many of us find the best friends we will ever have in other fans. It's taken me a lot of learning and years of trial and error to figure out how I can be the best and most supportive friend. It takes time!

PS: Don't argue about Michael! Michael Jackson is the reason why you became friends in the first place-- why argue about whether he looked better in Wayfarers or Aviators, or gold pants, or whatever.  Relax, chill, enjoy  :) .

Well everyone, those are my tips for making friends in the Michael Jackson fan community. 
Please feel free to share your tips with me and let me know what you think!

PS: Did you see that Legacy of Love was featured in Time Out New York Magazine? If you are in the New York City Tri State area, check out our feature here

Happy 2013! Review of the Michael Jackson Slot Machine

Hello everyone and welcome to 2013! I know I am a bit late but hey... better late than never?

Today I want to share a brief review of my first time playing on the Michael Jackson slot machine. 
For NYE a friend and I spent our time in Atlantic City and to my surprise, we were able to find the Michael Jackson slot machine right at the Tropicana Hotel. This Bally Technologies machine is awesome fun for both Michael Jackson fanatics and the everyday fan of his music in general.  Featuring songs like "Billie Jean" "Beat It" and "Smooth Criminal" playing this slot machine was one that I really enjoyed. 

There were a number of things that impressed me about this machine. #1... it was a penny machine! 
Amazing. But for those of you who are familiar, a lot of the new slot machines have minimum bets. You can bet in intervals of 40 cents a time, up to $3.20.  The chair is situated so that the speakers are playing Michael's music right behind your ears, which makes it an even more fun and interactive experience. I found myself having to set personal limits of 3-4 presses of the bet button per minute to ration out my money. 40 cents a pop doesn't seem like a lot until you are pressing every second trying to get Michael to dance across the screen. :-) 

I would have to say though, the most fun part about this machine was the bonus round. You don't have to play a higher number but my friend insisted that he would take over and bet a little higher... much to my pleasure we entered the bonus round!!!

Here's a short clip of us at the "Beat It" bonus round.... 

Tip.... once you win--- CASH out! I totally thought that Michael would shine down from the heavens and bless me with the Jackson Jackpot but... no such luck! Haha, Michael took my money :'( I don't think I lost too much but I can say that the experience was worth it. I give the Michael Jackson slot machine a thumbs up and I will totally be returning to play again.

Have you ever played this machine? What was your impression? 

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