MUSIC: CSPhil – Dvořák: New World Symphony

New World Symphony (No. 9) Composer: Antonin Dvořák Conductor: Josep Caballé-Domenech Date: March 11, 2017 This piece. THIS PIECE! I'll be honest; it's probably my favorite piece of classical music ever. Now that I know a bit more about it through the Colorado Springs Philharmonic's Masterworks series, I feel I can appreciate it even more. Although even if I now know the Native American, African American, Czech, Beethoven, and Wagner influences that made this piece what it is, I've loved it for so long I have trouble picking out the references. Nevertheless, being able to identify the small segments that added to the spectacular whole that is this piece just added to my love of it. If anything, the melting pot of musical motifs and themes that help to create a sound that is distinctly American, even from a Czech composer like Dvorak, is what the New World Symphony is all about. The ability for Dvorak to recognize the heritage of the Native Americans and the struggle of the African-Americans...
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BOOK: The Starchild Compact (2014)

The Starchild Compact Year: 2014 Author: Robert G. Williscroft Length: 396 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** With the popularity of The Martian bringing hard science into the realm of science fiction, there has been a bit of a resurgence of including accurate science in near-term speculative fiction. On the one hand, the book must remain readable to a wide audience, so the science shouldn't bog down too much of the exposition. On the other hand, if some of the science is not explained, it can leave less scientifically educated readers in the dark about why certain aspects of the plot are the way they are. The Starchild Compact manages to succeed at balancing these two elements while also introducing some strictly non-scientific plot development. First, let me address the science presented in this book. Knowing enough about general relativity and current space travel technologies, Williscroft certainly knows his stuff. The challenges and hurdles to travel to the gas giants of our solar system, as well...
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BOOK: The Fifth Witness (2011)

The Fifth Witness Year: 2011 Author: Michael Connelly Length: 836 minutes / 13.93 hours In the fourth installment of The Lincoln Lawyer series, The Fifth Witness follows Mickey Haller as he navigates another murder trial. This time, the real scenario of the foreclosure crisis is brought in to help set the stage for the trial. Using a historical event like this helped to bring the story together in a way that felt more real and relatable than the previous entries in the series. Most Americans I know who were affected by the housing market crash would certainly be entertained by this story of corruption and underhanded dealings, if for no other reason than to justify how screwed up the system is. Gone from this part of the series is detective Harry Bosch, who I felt distracted from the main storyline centering around Mickey Haller and his court battle in the previous two books of this series. This time, it’s all Mickey. What helped to make...
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MOVIE: Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange Year: 2016 Rating: PG-13 Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours See if you can guess this movie: goatee'd egomaniac finds himself in a life-changing situation in a foreign land that makes him question everything he's ever stood for and become a superhero in the process. If you guessed Iron Man (2008), you'd certainly be close. No, this familiar plot is none other than the visually extreme Doctor Strange. I understand Marvel has a bigger plot in mind when they do these lesser-known heroes; but lately, it almost seems like they're just phoning it in. Doctor Strange merely feels like filler to get to Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). I will give Marvel this much: they do know how to cast a film. Benedict Cumberbatch does a superb job at portraying the eponymous Dr. Strange, fused with enough gravitas and humor to make watching him a joy. And while many will question Tilda Swinton's role as The Ancient One, especially considering...
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MUSIC: CSPhil – 007: The Music of James Bond

Colorado Springs Philharmonic Conductor: Thomas Wilson Date: March 4, 2017 Very few film franchises have been able to stand the test of time. Of course, with the resurgence of reboots and remakes, some long-gone franchises are starting to find themselves once again. The James Bond franchise has had a few bumps over the years, but it continues to maintain its presence in the popular culture landscape. One of the most recognizable aspects of this franchise has certainly been its music. There's a tension in it that oozes action and masculinity. With films spanning half a century, the music has done its best to keep up with the changing styles of our culture. Similar musical styles gave many of the early Bond films' title songs a very consistent sound. I was a little disappointed that the Philharmonic chose to do "The Look of Love" from the 1960's spoof, Casino Royale, instead of the Herb Alpert opening track, but at least it matched the tone with the rest of...
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BOOK: Eric Olafson, Space Pirate (2017)

Eric Olafson, Space Pirate Year: 2017 Author: Vanessa Ravencroft ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER*** I'll admit that I'm sometimes a glutton for punishment, but even I have my limits. About a quarter of the way through this book, I had to give up. I couldn't suffer through reading it anymore. There were a number of factors for this decision. First, this was apparently a book in the midst of a larger series and it was even an entry of its own, sub-series. I had not read any books from either series, so I was quite lost when it came to the characters and other pieces of information that might be considered "common knowledge" by this point in their respective series. Secondly, I could not stand the constant stream of proofreading errors. Every time they came up, I was immediately pulled out of the story. What strikes me as odd in this second aspect is the publisher of this work: Inkitt. On their website,...
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BOOK: The Reversal (2010)

The Reversal Year: 2010 Author: Michael Connelly Length: 693 minutes / 11.55 hours After two novels of Mickey Haller defending guilty scumbags, Michael Connelly changes it up with The Reversal. Not only does the title refer to the reversal of a 24-year old conviction, but also to the main character’s swap over to the prosecution. While there seems to have been a book between this one and The Brass Verdict, I have a feeling it was mostly about Harry Bosch, since the hinted details in this book give me a good idea of what happened and it didn’t change the last reference point of Mickey Haller. Now that these two main characters were tied together in this case, one of the issues I had with this book was how often it switched between first and third person POVs. Perhaps I was too used to the story being told from Mickey Haller’s perspective and there was so much that happened outside of his direct involvement that...
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