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  • gilwilson 8:39 AM on December 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    2013 in review 

    The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 60 trips to carry that many people.

    Click here to see the complete report.

     
  • gilwilson 10:01 PM on December 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Brent Spiner, Daryl Schultz, Gates McFadden, , Jerry Hardin, John de Lancie, , leonard nimoy, Megan Fay, orson welles, Tom Virtue, war of the worlds, Wil Wheaton   

    Audio Drama Review: “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, Radio play adapted by Orson Welles 

    War-of-the-Worlds_349

    Audio Drama Review: “War of the Worlds”

    By H.G. Wells, Radio play adapted by Orson Welles

    A full cast audio performance

    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works

    Total Running Time 77 Minutes

     

    Okay are you ready for a full on nerdgasm?  This one is it.  L.A. Theatre works distributed free copies of this audio drama on Halloween this year.  I have always been a fan of the Orson Welles dramatization of the H.G. Wells classic space invasion story.  I also am a big fan of the audio dramas produced by L.A. Theatre Works, I have listened to many of their classic stage performances turned audio and every single one is the perfect production from stage to audio that when listening you feel as though you are in the center of the audience.

     

    But what got me the most, and this is where the nerdgasm comes in, was the cast of this production.  This production stars; John de Lancie,  Gates McFadden, Leonard Nimoy,  Armin Shimerman, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton , Tom Virtue,  Jerry Hardin,  Megan Fay and Daryl Schultz.  It is directed by John de Lancie and Recorded before a live audience at Guest Quarters Suites, Santa Monica, CA in October, 1994.  So yes all you Star Trek fans get a supreme dose of actors from the series and a great sci-fi production.

     

    The radio adaptation of this story has an intriguing history.  When Orson Wells first performed the adaptation on Halloween 1938, even after several announcements that it was a dramatization, many of the audience thought the Martian invasion was real and panic ensued.  I have listened to the original recordings several times and while I find it hard to figure out why the broadcast was taken as reality, I have to admit the adaptation is drama at its best.

     

    Any Star Trek fan knows how talented these actors are, and bringing them together in a sci-fi production is just perfect.  It’s amazing picking out the voices but what is more amazing is how they all meld together as a cast and bring this drama to life.  Each actor is definitely convincing in their role in this program and their camaraderie is apparent when the production absorbs you and you stop listening to them as characters from Star Trek, but rather characters that are involved in an invasion from Mars.

     

    The production is presented as a radio performance with news breaks reporting first explosions on the planet mars then strange objects landing in the U.S.A.  With a roving report on the scene at an observatory and then later being vaporized (spoilers) at the landing site of one of the vessels, the action and actors present the story in little breaks between musical radio broadcasts.

     

    Just over an hour of your time will be taken but that time is well spent listening to this classic performed by epic sci-fi actors.

     

     

     
  • gilwilson 10:03 PM on December 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , audiocomics, battle for los angeles, black bat, , domino lady, g8, , moonstone entertainment, phantom detective, , , secret agent x, , ufo,   

    Audiobook Review: “Battle for LA; Return of the Originals” by C. J. Henderson 

    Battle for LA_art

    Audiobook Review:  “Battle for LA; Return of the Originals”

    By C. J. Henderson

    Multi-cast performance

    Produced and Published by  AudioComics & Moonstone Entertainment

    Total Length: 41:56

    I think I have just found the perfect combination of some of my favorite things; UFO conspiracies, pulp magazines, comic books and audiobooks.    This audio production combines all these into one great production that keeps you hanging on to every sound and leaves you wanting more.

    This audiobook is actually more of an audio drama, in that each character is voiced by a different actor.  Each actor is able to portray the characters that are in the super-hero realm and make them sound life-like.  The actors even add in that extra little bit of “oomph” that makes them seem larger than life like a real comic book or pulp fiction character should be.  The sound effects surround the listener with realistic 3d effects that feel as though they are in the middle of the action.  You may even find yourself dodging bullets.

    Born out of pulp-fiction magazines from the early part of the 20th century, this story unites pulp heroes that influenced the creation of certain comic book heroes.  Historically speaking the pulp magazines were the forerunners of comic books.  The pulps were published weekly or monthly and featured stories that could be told in one issue or in some cases as serials that span several issues.   This story features the following pulp heroes:

    • The Black Bat came out about the same time as DC comics’ Batman, and each publisher said the other was a copy, eventually they were allowed to co-exist, but in the long run Batman became the more popular.   The Black Bat is former District Attorney Anthony Quinn.  He became the Black Bat after being blinded and having his face disfigured by having acid thrown in it.   That origin story reminds me of Two-face from the Batman comics, but Two-face is a villain and not hero.
    • The Phantom Detective was published from 1933 to 1953 and is in real life the wealthy Richard Curtis Van Loan.  He uses his amazing skills of deduction to solve crimes that have the police puzzled.
    • Domino Lady comes from the racier side of pulp comics.  Educated socialite Ellen Patrick puts on a domino mask and a backless white dress to avenge the death of her father, District Attorney Owen Patrick.   Armed with a .45 pistol and a syringe full of knockout serum she takes on the toughest of foes, but her beauty is her greatest asset.   Using her feminine charms usually put these pulp magazines into the soft-core porn side of the genre.

    Those are the main characters of this production but two other classic pulp heroes make a small cameo appearance in the final battle:

    • Secret Agent X is a master of disguise, known as “the man of a thousand faces”, who adopts several different identities in each story.  He is a dedicated crime-fighter working undercover for the U.S. government; this is unknown to the police who consider him an outlaw.
    •  Airboy, Davy Nelson II, the son of an expert pilot and, despite his youth, a crack flyer. His friend, inventor and Franciscan monk Brother Francis Martier, had created a highly maneuverable prototype aircraft that flew by flapping its wings, like a bird.

    So now we know the heroes let’s get where this story really gets to be interesting.  This audio drama brings to full 3d audio movie life the graphic novel by C. J. Henderson.    Just three months after the U.S. became involved in World War II by the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was on alert for further invasions from Japan.  Especially vigilant was the West Coast.  From late 24 February to early 25 February 1942 over Los Angeles, California an incident occurred that has had UFO conspiracists asking lots of questions.   The Air Force has claimed the incident was caused by a “false alarm” in which a weather balloon became the focus of several hours of shooting and air raid warnings.  Thousands of rounds were fired at an object that was tracked over Los Angeles.  UFOlogists think this was an alien craft and when viewing the photos find further proof it was not weather balloon.

    Henderson uses this event to bring together the original heroes and creates a villain with an occult background set to destroy the U.S.   The event in question was just the launching platform for a group of “Orientals” to send cylinders with a strange power over the human mind to Los Angeles.   Armed with knowledge of the mysterious cylinders, the Originals risk all to do what is right, no matter what the cost.

    This audio drama takes just over 40 minutes to devour, but if you are on a trip or doing housework or some other chore that consumes time, this will make it seem as though only a couple of seconds pass because of the intense action taking place.

     
  • gilwilson 12:01 PM on December 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , alaska gold rush, audiobook audio, , , gold rush, jack london, klondike, naxos audiobooks, william roberts   

    Audiobook review: “The Call of the Wild” By Jack London 

    call of the wild

    Audiobook review: “The Call of the Wild”

    By Jack London

    Read by William Roberts

    Published by Naxos Audiobooks

    Approx 3.5 hours

     

    Once again it was time to visit a classic.  So, why not listen to a book that takes you on an adventure from the point of view of a dog.  This is one of those books that is assigned in school and is a classic story.  From high school to college, student’s through the years have analyzed the book into submission.   I’m not here to analyze, I may bring up some aspects I found interesting to me, but I don’t expect this to be graded by any literature professor, so I’ll will mainly be talking about just the fun I had listening to the audiobook version of this classic.

     

    So right off the bat, I’ll talk about the narrator, William Roberts.  His voice was crisp and clear and he did a perfect job of reading this classic.  Roberts was able to convey through his voice the entire story and keep my attention.  Sometimes when I dive into a classic novel the reader has a dry matter of fact voice, much like some of my old literature professors.  Roberts was able to vocally demonstrate the many emotions and surprises in the story.  So from the beginning of the story all the to the last word William Roberts delivered this story with passion and authority with a little touch of a backwoods mountain man.

     

    What makes this story most interesting is that, for the most part, it is told from the point of view of a dog.  The main character in this story is Buck, a St. Bernard / Scotch Collie mix.  His breed is important because of what his life becomes.  The setting of the story is the time of the late 1800’s Alaska Gold Rush.   Buck is stolen from the luxurious life in the Santa Clara Valley as the pet of a Judge and his family.  He is soon shipped to Seattle where he learns the law of the club and becomes submissive enough to be trained as a sled dog in the Klondike.

     

    The story follows Buck as he learns how to survive in the frozen north.  Buck is then sold to a pair of French-Canadian dispatchers from the Canadian government, François and Perrault, who take him with them to the Klondike region of Canada. There they train him as a sled dog.  Buck first learns by watching then becomes the leader of the pack in a fight to the death with Spitz the lead dog on the team.  Buck then develops a reputation with man and dog as a force to be reckoned with.  As Buck learns the new skills, he learns more and more on how to rely on the primitive skills required.  The more skills he requires the more primitive Buck becomes constantly being called to let loose the domestication and become a wild dog.

     

    After Buck’s fight with Spitz the team is sold  to a “Scottish half breed” man working the mail service. The dogs must carry a heavy load to the mining areas, and the journey they make is tiresome and long. One of the team, a Husky named Dave, becomes sick and eventually has to be shot.

     

    Buck’s next owners are a trio of  inexperienced city folk (Hal, Charles, and a woman named Mercedes).  Inexperienced at surviving in the Northern wilderness, they struggle to control the sled and ignore warnings that the spring melt poses dangers. They overfeed the dogs and starve them when the food runs out and argue constantly amongst themselves on various issues.  On their journey they meet John Thornton, an experienced outdoorsman, who notices that the dogs have been poorly treated and are in a weakened condition. He warns the trio against crossing the river, but they refuse his advice and order Buck to move on. Exhausted, starving, and sensing the danger ahead, Buck refuses and stays down lying in the snow. After Buck is beaten by Hal, Thornton sees the power and uniquenesss in Buck.  Thornton cuts Buck free from his straps and tells the trio he is keeping him. After some argument, the trio leaves and tries to cross the river, but as Thornton warned, the ice gives way and the three fall into the river and drown, along with the sled and neglected dogs.

     

    Buck and Thornton become best of friends as Thornton nurses Buck back to the full capacity of the powerful dog he is.  Buck returns the favor when Thornton falls into the river and Buck saves his life.  Soon the two are making frequent trips to pan for gold.  On one of those trips Thornton gets caught up in a boasting match during which he has stated that Buck could break loose a sled loaded down with a half ton of cargo and pull it 100 yards.  This wins $1,600 in gold dust for Thornton but the opposing bettor wants to buy Buck from Thornton, but the bond between Buck and Thornton goes beyond any monetary value.

     

    The call of the wild continues to beckon Buck as he makes regular solo trips into the forest while Thornton continues his hunt for gold.  Returning from one trip Buck finds the camp raided and many dead.  The Yeehat natives are celebrating the conquest when Buck arrives and Buck seeks revenge.

     

    After the loss of the last true friend he had Buck finally answers the call and joins a pack of wolves to become a source of legend for many years to come.  While his adventures may sound simple, the feeling of survival and return to mother Earth becomes the underlying theme and can be related to humans or animals.  The idea that Buck is affected by having to kill one of his own to take power and then refusing to be violent until he seeks revenge for Thornton’s slaughter shows a lot about the character behind Buck.

     

    Treat your self to a revisit to a classic through this very well presented audio version.

     

     
  • gilwilson 10:48 PM on December 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: amulet of samarkand, , , bartimaeus, , djinn, jonathon stroud, , , simon jones, ,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1” by Jonathan Stroud 

    amulet-of-samarkand

    Audiobook Review: “The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1”

    by Jonathan Stroud

    read by Simon Jones

    Published by  Listening Library

    13 hours and 30 minutes

     

    Once again I find myself seeking an audiobook adventure in the world of young adult fiction.  It seems that  YA fiction is filled with many stories of the supernatural, especially wizards.  This is one of those books, or rather series.

     

    Every coming of age story deals with the confusing times of life when it seems the world just won’t listen when because you are too young and yet you know everything.  This time around eleven year-old Nathanial, a magician’s apprentice, knows there is going to be an attack on London’s magical community, but proving that without giving away that he has been studying more than his mentor has allowed is a tricky situation.

     

    This story takes place in an alternate timeline in which Great Britain’s Parliament is run by wizards or Magicians.  Nathaniel is adopted through an agency by Arthur Underwood.  The parents are paid large sums of money while the children adopted are made to forget their birth names.  Any being from the nether can use a magician’s real name to take control of the magician.

     

    Underwood is, at best, a mediocre magician, and does not realize the full potential of his young apprentice.   Nathaniel teaches himself the advance magicks since Underwood will not.  The main reason Underwood does not teach the advance magicks is because he thinks they are too far advanced for the young apprentice.  There is also a bit of a hint through the book that Underwood may not have that strong of a grasp of the magicks to teach them anyway.

     

    Nathaniel’s troubles all begin when an arrogant, high on the social ladder, magician, Simon Lovelace embarasses him publicly.  Nathaniel retaliates by releasing some mites but when Lovelace beats the mites without breaking a sweat Nathaniel is punished by Underwood.  That’s when Nathaniel  takes it upon himself and go beyond his magical training and summon a demon, or rather a Djinn, demon is pretty much like a racial slur to the Djinn.  The Djinn he summons is the sarcastic Bartimaeus.   Nathaniel tasks Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace because it seems to be his most prized possession.

     

    Soon the secret of the Amulet is revealed and the mystery of why Lovelace has it is revealed when Bartimaeus and Nathaniel learn how it was acquired.  The fun and adventures begin as the two race across London to stop the impending doom that is destined to fall on the magic community.

     

    Not sure yet about the rest of the books in the series, but this coming of age story definitely weaves in the fun with some great sarcasm from Bartimaeus and some really cool magic theories.  I will definitely be looking for the next three books. (Yes, I know it says trilogy but it seems the author has added a fourth book into the mix.)

     

    Simon Jones does an outstanding job bringing out the voice of Bartimaeus making him a true-to-life character.  Jones does an excellent job throughout the book but he made me really become a fan of Bartimaeus.

     
    • Audiobook Jungle 2:28 AM on December 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      It’s really good, isn’t it! Actually that was one of the first audiobooks I’ve ever listened to and I loved every minute of it. It’s a very fun story and indeed, the narration is very well done. You should absolutely listen to the next books in the series! 🙂

      Like

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