Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: Star Wars- The Musical


I don't remember how I stumbled across Star Wars- The Musical, but when I heard about it I thought, "Yeah, that makes sense."  I've often discussed with my friends what movies have influenced society the most and which are referenced most by pop culture in general.  I am afraid of my own fandom being a bias, so I often propose the question and let the discussion take its own course.  Generally, those whom I have surveyed agree that Star Wars tops the list with maybe The Wizard of Oz being a close second.  Because it has been subject to so many references, parodies, spoofs, and spin-offs a musical version only made sense.  I downloaded all of the files and put it on my long list of things to listen to when I get the chance.  As I read through the Legends Expanded Universe timeline and around Christmas break when I realized that getting through the whole series would probably take the whole school year [two semesters and not just one] I figured that it didn't matter if I tried to drag out the midway point which seems to fall right around the original trilogy [side note, I should actually go back and count and see which novel is the mid-point by novel number and separately by playtime, since so many of the original Bantham books are only available as abridged versions.  Heck, as long as I'm doing that, I might as well consider the midpoint from the perspective of print novels and not just audio books, but I digress].  Anyway, I was interested, if not eager, to listen to the musical.  I am not a great lover of musicals, but I have enjoyed quite a few.  Unfortunately, I was not able to bring myself to finish this one.  The lyrics, music, and singing were all just mediocre.  Couple that with the fact that it didn't load onto my phone properly and so I was having to stream it file at a time not in proper order from a cloud hard drive, and by the time I was halfway through and to the cantina scene I gave up.  Since it is unofficial in every sense, I felt no guilt that I gave up on it and promptly moved on to other audiobooks.  Great idea, poor execution- makes me kind of glad they've never taken a stab at the other movies.

Random side note, I was just thinking earlier today, and remembering that I left off at the cantina scene here reminds me all the more: When I was in junior high and early high school there were two versions of the Star Wars soundtrack in reprint one was a "best of" the original trilogy with John Williams guest directing the Utah Symphonic Orchestra and the other was John Williams conducts John Williams with The Skywalker Symphony.  I didn't own the second, but I had several friends who did and the Cantina band song ended differently there and also ended with weird blast shot sounds effects and a coin flipping or landing on a table [their take on the Han shot first killing Greedo and "Sorry about the mess" scene].  In retrospect it sounds pretty strange and horrible, but I remember wanting that soundtrack simply because it had those minor differences.  Fortunately, someone has uploaded it to YouTube.  Later in high school I acquired all of the 2-CD each movie Special Edition soundtracks.  They released a similar multi-CD set for The Phantom Menace, but to my knowledge have never done this for any of the other movies in the prequel trilogy or the newer sequels and stories, but if they do I will collect them all.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy- Alexandra Bracken

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (Star Wars Illustrated Novels #1)A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am working my way through reading all of the Legends Timeline of books. The movies, and their spin offs, make up the link between the old and new Expanded Universe timelines. Although this book, and the two others in the series, were written after the EU split, I figured since it was based off of the movie that it would be OK to listen to it here.
This book is the first in a series of young adult adaptions of the original trilogy. It is hands down the best of the series also. I'm first going to start with the author's note at the end of the book. In that note the author mentioned how much her father loved the Star Wars movies and that he had recently passed away, and despite it being fiction, she argued that the true power of the Force was its ability to bring people together through shared experiences. The note brought tears to my eyes.
The story itself is told in three parts, each part from the perspective of one of the main characters: first Leia the princess, the Han the scoundrel, and lastly Luke the farm boy. I was amazed at how well the original, familiar tale fit this literary device. For the Leia part there was a lot of embellishment and backstory to her part of the tale. Having said that, a lot of it seems to have been inspired by cut parts of the original script and Brian Daley's NPR Radio Drama Adaptation. Overall, Leia's part at the beginning was probably the shortest section, but it was enriched by having a unique perspective and lots of new details*(see footnote). The middle part, told from Han's perspective, was slightly awkward in how it addressed the introduction of Obi-Wan. It also also ended up having to rely on flashback of other characters to tell parts of the story where the party split up on the Death Star, like Luke and Leia's famous grappling hook swing across the chasm. Luke's perspective was about what you would expect, a good mix of enthusiasm and self-doubt. Like Daley's version, Luke's section also included the cut scene of him training or trying out to fly with the Rebel's. Telling the story from one person's viewpoint at a time worked very well overall, it was also very nice to have the tale told from the first, person perspective unlike before. The biggest loss in this method is the view of things from the Imperial side and the side adventures of the droids. None-the-less, these losses are more than made up for by the joy brought from the unique person perspectives of the books and the details added to the storyline. As I am typing this after having completed my read-through of the Legends EU Timeline I can say that this book stands out, hands-down as the best young adult book I read and one of the best movie adaptations books as well.

* Footnote: I couldn't find a way to integrate this thought into the narrative above, and I am always concerned about how it may sound, because I don't want it to sound sexist, but I think it helped Leia's character a immensely to be told by a female author.  It just seemed to fit better than any other attempt to tell this old, familiar tale have done.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human by Jesse Bering

Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being HumanWhy is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human by Jesse Bering
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book I picked up more because of the odd title and the fact that it was a science book on audio that was short and available from my library while I waited for another hold to come in. A year later, as I write this review, I don't remember a lot about it, so I suppose that tells you a little bit about the impression that it made on me. Having said that, I remember that it was not overly sexual or explicit, but rather that it addressed a lot of anatomy questions and was full of random facts and some current research. I cannot say that I learned a lot about the human body that I didn't already know, but there were some details or minor gleanings that I picked up. It was also interesting to hear the perspective of a homosexual doctor on some of the issues presented. His approach to some sexual anatomy and towards sex itself was interesting. Overall, this books doesn't stand out too much from other medical curiosity books out there, like Why Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini , Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex? More Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Whiskey Sour , or anything by Aaron E. Carroll.

View all my reviews