Throwback Thursdays: Wicked

The first time I saw Wicked, it was 2005, and my high school musical’s cast, crew, and a passel of chaperones had come to New York to see the sights—including the still relatively new show. We sat in the very last row of the very last balcony, and I cried like a baby at the end. (I still do, even just listening to the soundtrack.)

Time passed, and a million fairy tale retellings, Ozian and otherwise, came and went, inundating movies, books, television, and comics. But no matter how these stories ebbed and flowed in popularity, Wicked has stayed strong and stayed open, belting out its loving but revisionist history of L. Frank Baum’s fairytale world eight times a week at the Gershwin Theatre in New York. However, I haven’t seen the show in years, and the last time I saw it was with the national tour, rather than the Broadway version. So when a good friend came to visit me in NYC a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to go see the show, her treat, I was delighted to agree. I was surprised to find, however, that despite the show’s age, it seems more relevant now than ever.

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Throwback Thursdays: Spindle’s End

(via Wikipedia)

(via Wikipedia)

One of the dismaying parts about writing for this column is that you often discover that a thing you really liked a long time ago is super problematic when you revisit it. For example, the last time I reread a Robin McKinley book (The Blue Sword) for a Throwback Thursday, I realized that it’s a dead ringer for the Mighty Whitey trope. Of all of McKinley’s books, Spindle’s End was always one of my favorites, so it was with some trepidation that I picked it up to read it again after several years.

To my great relief, I discovered that, in leaving the world of Damar behind for a different fantasy country, McKinley left her troubling racial tropes behind as well, instead weaving a fairy tale retelling that focuses on the importance of the bonds between several very different women.

Spoilers for a sixteen-year old book after the jump!

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Throwback Thursdays: The Sword of Shannara

sword of shannara coverFantasy is big money now. Everyone is looking to the hefty fantasy tomes of the past for inspiration for the next Game of Thrones, with mixed success. The appearance of Terry Brooks’s world of Shannara on the small screen thanks to MTV is just one example of this.

When I first heard that the show was being made, I decided it was time to finally reread The Sword of Shannara, the 1977 book that introduced me to Brooks’s expansive world, and which I first read in my grade school’s library. Real life intervened, however; a season of the show has come and gone, and I only just sat down with my battered old copy of the book last week. Unfortunately, my reread left me mostly confused and concerned for the tastes of my elementary school self, as The Sword of Shannara is an odd mix of utter tedium and story beats lifted directly from its more celebrated contemporary, The Lord of the Rings.

Spoilers for the novel below.

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Throwback Thursdays: Jet Force Gemini

Jet Force GeminiI, like many video-game-playing kids of the 90s, had a childhood filled with the whimsical worlds from the heads of those at Rare. From the Donkey Kong series to Banjo Kazooie (with some Killer Instinct on the side), these quirky games, with their distinct sense of humor, were absolutely some of my first forays into what video games could be. Though I loved watching my brother play through these games, the first Rare title I dove into myself wasn’t one of these more well-known titles, but the third-person shooter Jet Force Gemini. Sure, the story wasn’t anything innovative—and it still isn’t—but being able to play as a brother and sister team, as well as their dog, and working together to fight bad guys really appealed to me. The game may not have aged as well as other Rare titles, and what it presented in gender equality was equally undone in quintessential Rare style, but the game still remains one of my favorites.

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Throwback Thursdays: Congo

Congo Movie TempleBased on a book by the same name, Congo is an action-adventure film that came out all the way back in 1995. The book was written by Michael Crichton, the same author who wrote Jurassic Park. And like Jurassic Park’s movie counterpart, the Congo movie was brought to life by Steven Spielberg. What I have to say about Congo is that I love this movie. It was one of my favorite movies growing up, and having rewatched it recently, I can most certainly say that it still holds up for me as an adult as well.

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Throwback Thursdays: A Wrinkle in Time

I didn’t read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time until a few years ago. Part of this is probably because, although I know now that it’s a Newbery winner and is considered a classic, it was kind of a nonentity to me as a kid. Unlike series like the Oz books, the Narnia books, The Lord of the Rings series, or even the Dragonriders of Pern novels (which I probably read way too young, haaa), neither A Wrinkle in Time nor its sequels were ever placed in my orbit. I don’t even know if this series has a fandom. Do people have nostalgic feelings about reading this book as a kid? It’s a mystery to me. I do know, however, that they’re making a movie adaptation, and the fantastic Ava DuVernay has been tapped to direct, so I figured that now was a good time to revisit this bite-sized book and see what the big deal was.

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Throwback Thursdays: Ella Enchanted

Ella_enchanted_(book_cover)It’s apparently a good week for reading Cinderella retellings. I only just started reading the steampunk-y Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell, but when I realized that it was Throwback Thursday, I turned to one of my long-time favorites: Ella Enchanted.

My copy of Ella Enchanted is so old that, when I turned it over to read the back cover, I realized it didn’t have a bar code—instead, in the place of where one would be was a message that this particular copy was only available for sale during in-school Scholastic book fair events. So. The likelihood that I’ve owned it since it came out in 1997 is actually pretty likely. It’s pretty well-loved by this point, and it was just as wonderful as I remembered on reread.

If you haven’t read it, beware of spoilers after the jump!

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