Posted in Books, Star Wars

Recommended reading: Star Wars: Canto Bight

1515524138227-02a0e9e2-e0e8-42c4-a1cf-f626c17f3bc2_.jpgStar Wars: Canto Bight has the honor to be the first book I read in 2018. One of a handful of releases as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Canto Bight sets out to tell us more about the casino city that is featured in the new Star Wars film.

Thing is, I don’t know how many people care. While I enjoyed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I liked spending time with the characters we already knew and meeting Rose Tico. I liked the crystal foxes and the porgs. I did not care very much about the new ships and locations Rian Johnson included in his movie, because they just weren’t that important or memorable.

And that’s a shame, because Canto Bight is worth a look. It’s a fun collection of novellas that do explore Johnson’s otherworldly Monte Carlo.

  • Saladin Ahmed gives us a tale of a moisture vaporator “salesbeing of the year” who won the vacation of a lifetime and an assassin who’s working one last job who end up crossing paths in Canto Bight
  • Mira Grant tells us about the best sommelier in the galaxy, two mysterious sisters and the wine of dreams in a story that explores the lengths people will go to build a legend
  • Rae Carson offers us a masseur, a crime boss and a story about how family changes us.
  • and Jackson Miller writes about a small-time professional gambler who has an amazing run of luck and learns when to play his system and when to trust in fortune.

If you’re thinking that these don’t really sound like Star Wars stories, you’d be right. Take away a wookiee here, a mention of Alderaan there and you’d have four stories that could be easily rewritten for any science fiction anthology with a casino theme. But I enjoyed them anyway, particularly Grant’s story about the Grammus sisters.

Canto Bight may never capture the imagination of a generation of fans the way the Mos Eisley cantina or Jabba’s Palace did thirty plus years ago. But that probably has less to do with Canto Bight than it does with Disney – in 2018, we can pretty much count on a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as they make money. The original Star Wars was in theaters for over a year and was one of the first movies a lot of us bought on VHS. We watched it so many times, the cantina couldn’t fail to make an impression. That’s not really the case now.

But if you enjoy short-form fiction, whether you care about Star Wars or not, I think you might like Star Wars: Canto Bight.


Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Putting it in the book: some thoughts on Howie Rose’s memoir

Howie-RoseI grew up listening to Howie Rose hosting Mets Extra before and after New York Mets games on WFAN, and I’ve enjoyed listening to him call games on television and radio in the years since.

I had been looking forward to reading Put It In the Book!: A Half-Century of Mets Mania since it came out at the beginning of last baseball season, but I’d held off buying a copy in hopes of meeting Rose and getting an autographed version at a book signing. That didn’t quite work out, but I got my autographed book anyway when a friend gave it to me for Christmas.

While I enjoyed Put It In the Book!, I have to admit that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. If you’ve listened to Howie Rose enough to want to read this book, you’ve probably heard most of his stories before.

There is a certain charm to reading about how Rose used to practice his play-by-play skills by calling games into a tape recorder from his seat in the upper deck. And it would have been odd not to include Rose’s memories of the 1969 and 1973 playoffs. But many of us could finish those stories for him at this point.

On the other hand, I enjoyed reading about the influence Marv Albert had on getting Rose’s career started. And there were other stories that I hadn’t heard before, about players from Pete Rose to Rickey Henderson and Todd Pratt and those in between.

There is relatively little focus on the current and recent teams – David Wright gets a few pages, Terry Collins gets a few paragraphs, Johan Santana‘s no-hitter and Game #161 performance in 2008 are talked about and Jose Reyes is quickly mentioned, but that’s about it. Certainly understandable, since Rose still has to work with the current team, but unfortunate.

If you’re a long-time Mets fan, I’m not sure that I’d recommend Put It In the Book! to you. But if you’re interested in what it’s like to be a sports broadcaster, Put It In the Book! would be a good addition to your library.

Put It In the Book!  is available in hardcover at a list price of $24.95, for iBooks for $13.99 and for Kindle for $9.99.

You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @PaulsRandomStuf on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Book Review: Baseball Miscellany

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a representative of Skyhorse Publishing who offered to send me a free review copy of Matthew Silverman’s latest book, “Baseball Miscellany

The book has 27 chapters, devoted to questions like: Why does the visiting team bat first?, Why is the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.?, Why is there a seventh inning stretch? Why is Joe DiMaggio called “The Yankee Clipper”?

Silverman provides in-depth answers to these questions and more. Hidden in the 27 chapters are sidebars offering trivia like the meaning and origin of terms such as “Baltimore Chop” or “Golden Sombrero,” as well as great baseball quotes and photos.

Continue reading “Book Review: Baseball Miscellany”

Posted in Uncategorized

Recommended Reading: Maple Street Press 2011 Mets Annual

Mets history
Photo credit: Paul Hadsall

On Friday, I received a free publisher-provided review copy of the Maple Street Press 2011 Mets Annual. The 128-page magazine includes everything you’d expect in a season preview – Mets stats, player bios, projections & schedules. Toby Hyde offers a ranking of the top prospects in the Mets farm system and an analysis of the 2010 draft. Ted Berg talks about the other National League teams. Mercifully, we’re spared a recap of the 2010 Mets season.

The magazine offers some unexpected gems. Jon Springer lists some of the more unusual injuries in Mets history. (Did you know that Sherman Jones missed starting the first game in Mets history because of a scratched cornea caused by a freak cigarette-lighting injury?) Paul Lukas has some Mets uniform trivia. John Moorehouse writes about 30 years of Kingsport Mets history.

There’s the obligatory article about the 25th anniversary of the 1986 World Championship season (which at least includes some photos I haven’t seen before, like a great shot of Mookie Wilson holding a giant champagne bottle in the Mets clubhouse.)

Greg Prince and Jason Fry provide articles about two solemn moments in Mets history – the death of minor league outfielder Brian Cole and the first baseball game following the 9/11 attacks – which are both fascinating reading.

The Maple Street Press annual tries to offer something for every Mets fan, and I think it succeeds.