The Twelve Best Books Ever Written

January 10, 2015 at 9:35 am | Posted in Daily blogs and thoughts | Leave a comment
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I ain’t no English Professor.  Don’t know a participle from an infinitive, and Word keeps telling me my writing is passive.  That’s okay, though, because I don’t think any English Professors are following me, just regular people who might like my feeble attempt at wit.  Or is that just my feeble wit?

What follows are the top twelve books that I think should be required reading for everyone. It should even be a law that you have to read these books.  In no particular order, here they go:

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.  If you think war is nuts, read the backstory.
  2. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.  Not only is it a critical look at art, but it has really short (bowel-movement length) chapters and little drawings.  I know, a lot of critics say Slaughterhouse Five is his best, but I figure there aren’t many critics reading my blog.
  3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.  Published in 1726, a million times better than the Jack Black movie of the same name.  If you can’t handle something with more than 3 pages, read Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” and then decide if you can make the time.
  4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  Answers the question, after the apocalypse, who needs punctuation?
  5. Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  I can hear you all groaning.  This play has some of the best action and inaction ever written.  Get yourself some Cliff’s Notes or Sparks Notes if you need help with the language – but it’s really not that hard if you’ll give it a chance.
  6. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.  For a good time, you can’t beat an alien invasion.   The original story takes place in England.  Sorry, movie fans.
  7. The Crucible by Arthur Miller.  Well, it’s a play, not a novel.  The Salem witch trials of 1692, brought to life with all their insantiy.
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  Great story about power, instinct, civilization and a fat kid with Asthma.  For heaven’s sake folks, read the book, don’t watch the movie.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Americans never seem to get enough of picking on the odd guy.  I’ve never seen the movie because it’s in black & white.  Maybe one day they’ll remake it in color with some cool CG.
  10. Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara & The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara.  One story, sold as two books to double the publishers’ profits.  A novelization of the American Revolutionary War.  History; humanized and dramatized for the “regular guy.”  If this book was available when I was in High School, I would have done so much better in Social Studies.
  11. American Tabloid by James Ellroy.  Communists, Cuba and JFK.  If you always wondered what it meant when a reviewer called something “gritty,” here’s the answer.
  12. Chasm by David Felder.  Hey, it’s my blog, I can say what I want.  And you can download this soon-to-be classic for only $4.99.

 

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Dave’s one-line movie reviews X

June 4, 2014 at 1:14 am | Posted in Daily blogs and thoughts, movie reviews, Numbskull observations, Reviews | Leave a comment
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While I haven’t gotten out to the cinema in quite a few months, I’ve been eagerly catching up on old and missed movies, courtesy of Netflix and Cablevision.  I’m also proud to report that this is the tenth installment of my one-line movie reviews.  Sorry to disappoint readers who thought Movie Reviews X meant pornographic films.

“Taming of the Shrew” – I really like this Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor version of the Shakespeare play.  This somewhat vulgar male-fantasy of how to “tame” a woman is easy to follow for those who can’t handle 3 syllable words or who think Shakespeare is too difficult.  As far as the Burton-Taylor match up, think about Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf as a comedy.

Las Vegas” –  Hey, here’s an idea:  Let’s take 4 of Hollywood’s highest box-office draw actors and put them in a hotel with a bunch of young girls and call it a movie.  Funny thing is, I like all the actors, I just couldn’t stay awake for the whole movie. “The Hangover” meets “Cocoon.”

The Campaign” –  Okay, Will Ferrell is a box office draw. Zach Galifianakis (hope I spelled that right) is the latest up and coming comic movie star, plus he looks a little like Seth Rogen.  Let’s put them together in a rewrite of “Mr. Smith goes to Washington.”   Folks, you’ve probably seen this before.  As usual, the stars deliver the laughs, but there’s no new territory covered here.

Kiss the Girls” – There’s a psychopath who’s kidnapping girls, and a police detective’s young niece is missing.  Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd provide the marquee names for another movie about tormenting helpless beautiful young women.  A few twists, but you know how this is going to end before the opening credits are over.

The Attack” –  A brilliant Arab surgeon, living in Israel, deals with the trauma of his wife’s death.  Turns out she led a secret life as a suicide bomber.  Well, a suicide bomber trainee.  You can only perform that task once.  Interesting film about loyalty, being an outcast, and wanting to find the truth, even if you don’t want to know.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” – Two and a half hours of glorified crime starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  A perfect example of a 1960’s movie: you’ve got rebels, authority, some civil disobedience, lovable villains for pathos and a beautiful woman for good measure.

Blackthorne” – Sequel to Butch Cassidy et al with Sam Shepard as the aging outlaw.  No Raindrops on my head, no Redford or Newman, and no Academy Awards going out for this one, but watchable if you’re a fan of western movies.

“The Sting” – Since Butch and Sundance got killed at the end, we need another way to make a sequel.   Throw in Robert Shaw for kicks, and it’s guaranteed boxoffice.  If only Katherine Ross was available…

Saving Mr. Banks” – Mary Poppins without the singing penguins.  A good cast pulls it off, but when it’s all over I kind of thought “so what?”  Still, it’s about time a movie character’s psychological issues weren’t blamed on their mother.

“Stranger Among Us” – You probably don’t remember this one.  Detective blonde-haired helium-voiced Melanie Griffith pretending she’s an orthodox Jew in Brooklyn to catch a murder.  Oh, that’s believable.  If you can buy that, I’ve got a bridge in the same neighborhood I can give you a great deal on.

Three O’Clock High” –  This small film is a well made, fast moving high school comedy that doesn’t have anyone farting or getting drunk in the lavatory.  An early Jeffrey Tambor vehicle, good for kids and adults.

Amistad” – I don’t know how I missed this when it first came out, but this Spielberg courtroom drama about slavery is both fascinating in its story, and revolting in its depiction of the slave trade.  After watching how bad some people can be, you can’t help but wonder when the next flood’s coming.

Private Parts” –  If you like Howard Stern, you’ll like this movie.  If you don’t like Howard Stern, you’ll probably still like this movie.  Funny and entertaining.

Jobs” – Whenever I see Ashton Kutcher, I can’t help but think about “That 70’s Show.”  Still, the movie is an interesting bio on the first half of Steve Jobs career, and the Jobs makeup is good too.  I don’t know how truthful it is, but I do remember the “Lisa.”  Maniacal, driven people are always fun to watch.

Grindhouse: Planet Terror” –  Remember when a movie could be so bad that it was good?  Planet Terror is an homage to all those bad, good movies.  Directed by the Quentin Little Me Rodriguez, what can be bad about Rose McGowan fitted with an Assault Rifle artificial leg?  Still, I was disappointed to find out it was CGI instead of a real gun.

Red 2″ – I never sat through the entire “Red” movie; it always seems to be half over whenever I catch it on HBO.  The sequel is pretty much what I remember from the original:  explosions, chases, Bruce Willis & Helen Mirren shooting people and John Malkovich providing the comic relief as the nerdy homicidal computer geek.  Still, you’ve got to love a movie with lines like “I want to defect to Iran.”

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