Archive for June, 2010

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The “Making Of” The Legend of Steel Bashaw

June 30, 2010

Petar Meseldžija’s adaption of the famous Serbian folk-tale Baš Čelik, entitled The Legend of Steel Bashaw will hit store shelves this August and as Flesk Publications reports, we’ll be gifted with an additional 20-pages of some of the “making of” material produced in the “15-year” process of bringing the tale to U.S. audiences.

Meseldžija is a master illustrator, and a heck of a nice guy (discernible enough through the brief correspondence I’ve had with him) so please don’t miss out on this one. It isn’t everyday we get a Serbian folk-tale crafted with such obvious care, and with the production values to match — always a trademark of Flesk’s productions.

For those who may be hearing about The Legend of the Steel Bashaw for the first time, please check out Flesk Publications for more information, or my previous entry here in March.

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Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max: 7 Chapters In

June 28, 2010

Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max is turning out to be exactly what I needed this summer.

Seven chapters into the audio version — enthusiastically read by Wil Wheaton — I’m really starting to resent the fact that I’ve made it to my destination (thank you traffic?) and that I’ve got to turn the story off for the next several hours. Not all of my recent selections have been as compelling truth be told and this one is really coming off as a breath of fresh air. Not that I expected anything less given the caliber of the comic it’s born from and that I’ve enjoyed over the course of numerous volumes. Peter & Max is just as full of surprises as the Fables comic series from which it springs forth (you never know how things will quite turn out in Fables) and in at least a couple of ways the book may be even more impressive as Willingham has plenty of room to weave his exciting narrative and really flesh out the characters in the process.

Peter Piper, for example, is introduced early on as the stories stoic hero and we’re immediately impressed with the man he’s become given the care he provides his wife (won’t spoil who she is), the hospitality he extends to his neighbors and the willingness by which he assumes responsibility; but we also get to see that there’s a far more adventurous side to Peter (with professional training to boot?) as we are treated to flashbacks through alternating chapters of Peter’s youth, reveling in the people, places and events that later shape the man. I would reckon that one of the best scenes so far occurs when he’s about 10-years old, listening to a story his Dad must have told umpteen times, about a family ancestor and a very impressive battle. Well, apparently Peter just couldn’t contain himself  — knowing the story so well — and enthusiastically shouts out what comes next as his proud Dad pauses to allow him the moment. It was one of those scenes where the character’s heart is on full display and the result was a very memorable moment where I had to cheer for the little guy, and really hope the best for a tragic situation that was sure to come.

The story will be over before I know it, but assuming it remains anywhere near as compelling as it is now it’s going to be one of those books I have little choice but to read again (and perhaps again and again). Happily, I look forward to adding the hardcover to my shelf for just that purpose.

[In the speculative fiction audio queue: Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max, J.R.R. (& Christopher) Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin, Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker and I haven’t forgotten Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!]

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Back to the Classics: Homer

June 23, 2010

With my studies taking me deep into ancient Greece and its history this semester, I thought it would be appropriate for me to revisit Homer, through both the Iliad and the Odyssey. I chose to listen to them in audio format thanks to recommendations for Blackstone Audio’s version as read by Anthony Heald. No, I don’t really have the time to add another set of books to my auidio queue, but because I seem to enjoy making things more complicated all the time, I went ahead and did it anyway.

And I’m glad I did because that opening argument between King Agamemnon and Prince Achilles was a great way to wake me up on a Wednesday morning!

Then Agamemnon said, ‘Achilles, valiant though you be, you shall not thus outwit me. You shall not overreach and you shall not persuade me. Are you to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely under my loss and give up the girl at your bidding? Let the Achaeans find me a prize in fair exchange to my liking, or I will come and take your own, or that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and he to whomsoever I may come shall rue my coming. But of this we will take thought hereafter; for the present, let us draw a ship into the sea, and find a crew for her expressly; let us put a hecatomb on board, and let us send Chryseis also; further, let some chief man among us be in command, either Ajax, or Idomeneus, or yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are, that we may offer sacrifice and appease the anger of the god.’

Achilles scowled at him and answered, ‘You are steeped in insolence and lust of gain. With what heart can any of the Achaeans do your bidding, either on foray or in open fighting? I came not warring here for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have no quarrel with them. They have not raided my cattle nor my horses, nor cut down my harvests on the rich plains of Phthia; for between me and them there is a great space, both mountain and sounding sea. We have followed you, Sir Insolence! for your pleasure, not ours—to gain satisfaction from the Trojans for your shameless self and for Menelaus. You forget this, and threaten to rob me of the prize for which I have toiled, and which the sons of the Achaeans have given me. Never when the Achaeans sack any rich city of the Trojans do I receive so good a prize as you do, though it is my hands that do the better part of the fighting. When the sharing comes, your share is far the largest, and I, forsooth, must go back to my ships, take what I can get and be thankful, when my labour of fighting is done. Now, therefore, I shall go back to Phthia; it will be much better for me to return home with my ships, for I will not stay here dishonoured to gather gold and substance for you.’ – Iliad, Book 1 Excerpt

[Update: As far as a great book in my hand goes, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven continues to really hit the mark! More on it in future posts.]

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Star Wars, The Old Republic “Hope” Trailer

June 15, 2010

Maybe it’s a bold statement, but I think Star Wars is getting better and better all the time, especially since the birth of The Old Republic, now spanning multiple genres.

Then, of course, there’s BioWare:

The Battle of Alderaan. The Republic’s gravest hour. Recently promoted to Darth, Malgus launches the first of many surprise attacks that would become his trademark during the Great War, perfectly timing the assault with a feint that pulls the Republic fleet light-years away. Thousands of assault droids and hundreds of Sith set the heart of the Republic ablaze, and Alderaan’s few defenders are swept away with ease.

Unknown to Darth Malgus, small groups of Republic Troopers are stationed on Alderaan, some recovering from wounds, others are awaiting orders. As these brave soldiers take to the forests and mountains to fight a guerilla campaign against Malgus’s forces, the Republic fleet rushes back to repel the invasion. With time running out and Alderaan’s capitol threatened, it falls to Havoc Squad, the elite Republic Special Forces unit, to coordinate one last desperate stand against Malgus’ vastly superior numbers.

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What’s a “Few More” Books?

June 5, 2010

Apparently I wasn’t quite done for the week. Picked these books up Friday:

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Abraham Lincoln: Selections from his Speeches and Writings by Himself ($7.98)

Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution by David A. Clary ($7.98)

The Chronicles of Narnia, Leather bound Collected Edition by C.S. Lewis ($20)

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Meiji Revisited, The Sites of Victorian Japan by Dallas Finn ($2)

Modern Liberty and the Limits of Government by Charles Fried

Reagan In His Own Hand by Himself ($7.98)

Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood ($6.98)

Yeager: Autobiography by General Chuck Yeager & Leo Janos ($1)

Zion in America, The Jewish Experience from Colonial Times to the Present by Henry L. Feingold ( ~ $5)

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Recent Acquisitions

June 3, 2010

I know that I’m always finding ways to add something new to my own ever growing collection, so from time to time I’ll be sure to share what I’ve been parting with my hard earned dollar in order to obtain. Here’s the “damage” I did over the last couple of months thanks to some local sales:

Mostly non-fiction this round…

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Abraham Lincoln: Life, Speeches and Letters by Himself ( ~ $6)

– April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik (~ $6)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Himself (~ $2)

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (~ $8)

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. & Christopher Tolkien (~ $15, Audio book)

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (~ $6)

Christian Engagements With Judaism by W.D. Davies (~ $10)

The Great Upheaval: American and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788 – 1800 by Jay Winik (~ $9)

Life of Abraham Lincoln by Joseph H. Barrett ( ~ $9)

Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution by Robert H. Patton (~ $8)

A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic, 1763 – 1789 by James K. Martin & Mark E. Lender ( ~ $6)

The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses by Stephen H. Norwood (~ $19)

Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 24: Return of the Black Soul by Stan Sakai  (~ $12, Pre-Order)

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Dang, so much worthwhile reading to do!