Showing posts from August, 2011

The Star Wars Trilogy: A Book Review

(Note: This review refers to the 2002 25th Anniversary Special Edition Star Wars Trilogy hardcover)

In 2002, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars and coinciding with the release of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Del Rey and Lucas Books published a new hardcover omnibus edition of the Star Wars Trilogy's novelizations.

It wasn't the first time that Del Rey, a division of Ballantine Books, had released a three-novels-in-one-volume edition; in 1983, when Return of the Jedi premiered, there was a "Star Wars Saga" trade paperback volume, as well as a less-expensive boxed set of three paperbacks. Later, when the Star Wars franchise was rejuvenated by the success of Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy and the 20th Anniversary Special Editions, Del Rey once again published omnibus editions both in trade and mass-market editions, as well as hardcover editions of each novel with the new artwork for the THX remastered VHS videos. (These circa-199…

The Fab Four Still Rock My World: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the evolutionary, nay, revolutionary 1967 album by The Beatles, is one of the best, if not THE best, rock recordings ever. From the fantastic and iconic cover art by Peter Blake to the interesting idea of the "concept album," Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band broke away from The Beatles' previous "I Want To Hold Your Hand"-styled songs and took the Fab Four into new musical territory.

According to the liner notes included with the booklet, the conceit of the album was that The Beatles had morphed into an entirely new and different band, hence the title "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Geoff Emerick, the group's recording engineer, explains: "The Beatles insisted that everything be different, so everything was either distorted, limited, heavily compressed or treated with excessive equalization." This pure "studio album" was definitely avant garde for its mid-1960s er…

High School Doesn’t Always Prepare Students for College

High school doesn’t always prepare students for college. One of the concepts that most, but not all, of the teachers I had in high school tried to sell us was that if we worked hard, if we behaved and earned good grades, we would be prepared to deal with the challenges we’d face after commencement. I’m sure that this was – and still might be – true for students in advanced placement or “college bound” classes, but for those of us who attended regular courses in the core curriculum and then went to college – either at the two-year community college or four-year institutions, it was the educational equivalent of the snake oil and other fake remedies sold by “medicine peddlers” in the late 19th Century to cure almost any ailment known to man – but didn’t.

(One thing that our high school teachers did not tell us was that more than half of us "regular class" students would have to take remedial courses in math or English at the community college level, but that's another to…

The Concorde: Airport '79 - Universal's Floundering Franchise's Final Flight

Considering the ever-decreasing amount of realism and quality in Universal Studio's Airport series, I'm willing to bet that the late Arthur Hailey, in the moments when he wasn't writing soapy novels or screenplays, sometimes had second, third, and even fourth thoughts about having sold the film rights to his original soapy-but-at-least-credible best selling novel Airport to producer Ross Hunter. True, Hailey's novels are in the same literary level as Sidney Sheldon's or, dare I say, Danielle Steel, but at least the first film of the airplane-in-distress franchise was good enough to earn over $40 million in the U.S. alone and earned various Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture (it didn't win) and Best Supporting Actress (Helen Hayes, who did win).

Although movie studios, like all business enterprises, have always been interested in making big profits for their owners and stockholders, the Changing of Hollywood in the late 1960s that saw the retirem…

Things I Remember: 10th Grade Edition (1980-81): The Saga Begins

When I graduated from South Miami High in June of 1983, I felt so connected to my alma mater, my teachers and my friends that it was inconceivable that I had had any moments in which I had not felt any stirrings of "Cobra Spirit" from my first day as a sophomore almost three years earlier.

After all, by the time we of the Class of 1983 gathered at Miami-Dade Community College's Gibson Center to accept our diplomas I had served on both the yearbook and school newspaper staffs, sang in two choir ensembles, helped kick off Cobra Media Productions' TV club, and even attempted to perform in one of the drama classes. I proudly wore my South Miami High baseball cap regularly, along with various T-shirts which touted some of the above-mentioned groups or activity clubs.

And yet, part of me still remembers that my initial feelings about the school were not, um, exactly positive.

You see, from third grade on, I had been assigned to schools which were in Southwest Miami Senio…

Things I Remember: In the 1970s and Around 1980 (List)

Blogger's Note: I really wanted to write something a bit more substantial today, but my Muse has apparently taken the day off; it must be the heat and humidity in subtropical South Florida. In lieu of a "proper" blog entry, I offer a not-very-comprehensive list of songs that I listened to as a "tween" and very young teenager.

A List of Songs I Really Liked Back Then:

1. Yellow Submarine
2. Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree
3. Song Sung Blue
4. Ben
5. My Life
6. Rosalinda’s Eyes
7. Feels So Good
8. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
9. Yesterday
10. Hey Jude
11. Nowhere Man
12. Theme from “SWAT”
13. The Night Chicago Died
14. You Are the Sunshine of My Life
15. Sing
16. Time in a Bottle
17. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
18. September Morn
19. I Write the Songs
20. Mandy
21. At the Copa (Copacabana)
22. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
23. The Shadow of Your Smile
24. If
25. Hopelessly Devoted to You

Things I Remember: In the 1970s (Cont’d)

1. Wacky Packages: Topps, the trading card company which also published Star Wars trading cards and stickers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, introduced these graphic spoofs of well-known consumer products and brands, e.g. Spam = Cram. The cards and stickers – which we kids called “Wacky Packies” – were drawn by professional comic book artists and often featured violent, gross and scary images in a sardonic, almost gallows humor that, like the later Garbage Pail Kids cards, appealed to tweens’ often quirky sensibilities.

Between 1973 and 1976, I used to go to the Seven-Eleven store close to the Tamiami Trail and SW 97th Avenue every Saturday and buy five packs for a quarter, which back then seemed to be a lot of money for a kid. I was such a big fan of “Wacky Packies” that I saved up $5.00 of my allowance and bought an unopened box. Unfortunately, I lost my entire collection when we moved to our present house; apparently, the movers “lost” some of our boxes during the four-mon…