This is one of those blog entries about random things going on in my world. I have been under an avalanche of new stuff lately. It’s been nice digging myself out again, I have to be honest, but the overwhelm has been something to behold. One part holiday gift cards and birthday money, one part personal savings, and one part “I was going to have it anyway.” And some of this stuff is just entertainment coming my way. I’ll start there.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. There’s been a lot of new Star Wars announcements, which always feels like a gift. Sure, I’m still more than a little underwhelmed and disappointed by The Last Jedi, but I also understand that, like many who still hate on the prequels, my expectations were too high, and I’ve told better stories in my head. I can’t change this, and I won’t bury my head in the sand over it either. I’ve listened to the explanations from Rian Johnson, and he’s still not directly addressing my own issues. So I didn’t care for it. So what? It wasn’t a complete loss, and it’s time to move on. Disney and Lucasfilm are helping me to do that. We have the new teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story now out in the wild. After all of the production problems, I’m cautiously optimistic, but then, I said the same thing about Rogue One. That said, they’re not pulling Vader here, so I’m reining in all expectations. Ultimately, I just want to have fun with it. We’ve also got word now that Disney’s Bog Iger has announced multiple Star Wars series for the new streaming platform, and there are even more movies in the works. It looks that Star Wars is going to pretty much drive the centerpiece for the streaming service when it hits, in addition to all of the classic Disney content. Among the creatives tapped for some of this: the showrunners behind Game of Thrones. I think I’d be more excited for this had the last season not felt tanked and rushed, but I’m also reminding myself that ride isn’t over yet. Final analysis can still win out. Either way, these guys have proven they can handle a big franchise like Star Wars far better than Rian Johnson can, in my humble opinion, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of this. With Rebels beginning its final run in mere days, that also means Dave Filoni will be on tap for his next big adventure in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
On the Star Trek front, we’ve got one episode left of Discovery, and then… I have to wait a year? I hope they keep cranking out books. I really enjoyed the first two, the latest of which dropped yesterday. It was so heavy-handed (it can’t be otherwise when you deal with a massacre), that I followed that up with a viewing of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I won’t say it’s in the same quality level as Recess or Phineas & Ferb, but it’s definitely a spiritual successor to those.
Since I’m talking animation, I finally got caught up on some more Pixar films. Over the weekend, I watched Cars 3, Coco, and Inside Out. I’m not a huge fan of Cars. I liked the first one as a love letter to Route 66, but it’s really esoteric stuff to get the most out of it. As in, you need to actually make the trip yourself (what’s left of it to make) or talk extensively with someone who has to understand this movie. The sequel was terrible. This latest one was a good deal of fun, easily the best of the three for me. I’ve been wanting to see Coco since I first saw the trailer, and having absorbed the soundtrack the last few weeks, it’s been rattling around inside me. Finally! Totally worth it too. It’s a tearjerker in the best Disney / Pixar tradition. Likewise with Inside Out, which was a complete surprise for me. I knew it would be good, but I did not expect to be blindsided with PhD level psychology. Wow! And maybe that’s my mistake. Maybe I should have expected it. This is what Disney and Pixar do, after all. They hit you in the feels and leave you wanting more. I’m a fan of Lewis Black, and while casting him as Anger was practically stereotypical, it was also the perfect call. Thing is, everything else in that movie was elevated to the same level. Not being the family-oriented type, it’s weird to watch films like Coco and Inside Out and actually feel that connection.
Ok, let’s talk about some merch that either found its way to me, or is in the process of doing so. First up, Disney’s Legacy Collection soundtrack collection has a new addition: Beauty and the Beast. We got the turnaround on this one pretty fast after Robin Hood, so I’m hoping that means they’ll start releasing many more of these.
A recent trip to Half Price Books landed me an armload of Duke Ellington albums, a collection of classical guitar maestro Andrés Segovia, a book on the making of Tod Browning’s Dracula, a couple of Lord of the Rings film books about the art and weapons and such, and a bicentennial coffee table art book on Beethoven that has all manner of paintings, handwritten letters and scores, and photos.
I have new Tolkien books for my shelf! I have a copy of John Garth’s Tolkien and the Great War. I’ve gone through this one on audiobook, but I decided I needed a physical copy too. Also, two books from Tom Shippey — The Road to Middle-Earth and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. And for all you deep Tolkien scholars out there, I found a hardcover copy, on the cheap and completely by accident, of The Ancrene Riwle. Intimidated? You bet I am, but curious all the same. All of these, of course, will have to be on hold because I’m on the final two sections of The Silmarillion, and after that I’m revisiting The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings once more, just because I can. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to re-read something in my life.
In the world of Bond, my buddy reader BrokenTune made a discovery of a book called The Lifeline by Phyllis Bottome. She went to the Edinburgh National Library to read it because it’s out of print. A couple of days after that, she managed to find a digital version out on the net and linked me to it. What’s the big deal, and how does it relate to 007? Well, you know the Picasso quote about how good artists borrow and great artists steal? It seems Ian Fleming borrowed quite a bit from this book to create his first one, Casino Royale. The basic threads are there, some scenes are virtually identical. Just put the British superspy veneer over the top of The Lifeline, and it’s pretty much there. Based on a couple of things I’ve heard, Fleming actually had to dial it back for being too over the top. Is there such a thing? I have to know. After I’m done with my current print read, that’s next on the list.
My current evening print read right now is Doc Savage: Empire of Doom. I’ve blogged about this already as I was excited beyond words to learn it was out there. It’s the second team-up book between Doc and my favorite of the classic pulp heroes, The Shadow. I’m currently about halfway through it, and so far I couldn’t be happier with it. Just based on the level of intensity so far, the ending almost has to be slap-happy awesome. I can’t conceive of it being any other way at this point.
All this, and a couple of Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts and Scarborough Renaissance Festival on the horizon. My world of entertainment is pretty freaking incredible right now. How’s yours?