November 2008

For Your Consideration - Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor (The Dark Knight)

For Your Consideration - Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor (The Dark Knight)

Preparing this list I never had any doubt who would come out on top. My question was, given the way I was ranking the characters, by how much of a margin would he come out on top? The answer was: a healthy one.

The interesting thing about this list is that even though Marvel has been considered the more “in” company for a long time, the more adult, and has had considerable success on film this decade (and it’s fair share of colossal failures), it’s DC who has done a better job with the villains. As Marvel cements its brand on-screen in the next couple of years with Iron Man and Hulk sequals and Captain America, Thor and Avengers films, it will be nice if they can get the villains right.

Anyway, to create this list, I used a 1-10 scale in five categories: Interesting, Evil, Intelligence, Fidelity to the Comic Book and Performance. So the point totals are out of 50.


the nutty wing of the family - Hadley, Stacy, Jon, Will

the nutty wing of the family - Hadley, Stacy, Jon, Will

“You can park your car on the street,” my sister said.

“Let me get this straight.  You want me to park my car with Red Sox license plates on the street in Harlem?” I replied.

“Maybe you better park in the garage.”

We did park in the garage, and that was the most difficult part of the day – the 5 seconds where we decided where to park.  We headed to down to my sister’s, mother-in-law’s apartment on the upper upper upper west side of Manhattan.

It turned out to be a great visit.  We had no traffic going down (we took the Merritt Parkway, which is so much nicer than I-95).  We let the cousins play around for a while inside (while we all got to take a look at our niece, Hadley, for the first time), then took Thomas and his cousin Will outside to play in the playground.  After that there was the first round of food, which was a pasta meal, with the three of us, Stacy, Jon, Will and Hadley, as well as Jon’s mom, Eleanor (thanks for hosting us!) and Jon’s sister,

Mothers and cousins.

Mothers and cousins.

Susanne.  We let the kids play some more, then we dove into the turkey, dressing and salad, and after several pictures and a quick round of dessert, we were back in the car and home by 9:30.  A long day, but we still left the house later and got home earlier than any of the days on our trip this summer.  An all around very good Thanksgiving.  Now I have to go work Black Friday.

25 Reasons Why Rock and Film Are Beautiful Together

(I originally wrote this for CinCity2000 almost two years ago)

When the opening notes of “Misery” start playing and Clerks II fades to black and white, it’s a sign. Kevin Smith might not have developed a visual style yet, but he’s definitely learned something from Martin Scorsese; the synthesis of rock and roll to film can take what would otherwise be a sloppy moment of film and turn it into a classic. It’s Soul Asylum, it’s Dante and Randall, it’s obviously designed to make us remember the end of the first Clerks. It evokes a very specific memory of a film we loved and we leave the theater smiling. Barely two months later, The Departed reminded us once again that Scorsese is a master of this directorial trick and those first few moments of the film, with the menace that is always lurking beneath the surface in both Jack Nicholson and the Stones, remind us that we love this connection. We want this connection. We want to think more about this connection. If that’s really what you were thinking, this is the list for you.

We must have rules. We must all have rules forthwith. (more…)

I’ve managed to have an article posted on with a link to the blog, without having a film blog in the last couple of weeks, thanks to work and Comcast somehow killing our internet for a week.

So, here are the links so far to the various lists I’ve done in response to AFI and their 10 Best in 10 Genres Lists from earlier this year. I plan to eventually do a Best Of list for every genre, so Action-Adventure, Mystery, Crime, Comedy, Drama and Foreign will eventually get their day in the sun. But here’s what I’ve done so far:

Fantasy (Top 10)

War (Top 10 – Foreign / Top 10 – English Language)

Kids (Top 5 Non-Animated)

Musicals (Top 10 – Traditional / Top 10 – Non-Traditional)

Science-Fiction (Top 10)

Horror (Top 25)

Westerns (Top 10)

Animated (Top 10)

more film links below (more…)

So we’ve been hearing a lot of new songs from Thomas over the last couple of weeks. He’s been singing about “Animal Action” and the “Beanbag Boogie.” But I wasn’t prepared for this morning. I was in the kitchen making our lunches and he was playing in his room. All of a sudden I realize this is what he is singing:

We’re not gonna take it

No, we’re not gonna take it

We’re not gonna take it anymore.

Yes, my four year old son was singing Twisted Sister. I think since he doesn’t often respond in the moment, we forget just how much he is taking in. The song is on a couple of mixed tapes we listen to in the car (although I don’t think he’s heard it for several months). And completely out of the blue he started singing it. I imagine the repetition helped him learn it, but it definitely illustrates that we need to be a bit more mindful about what he hears. His brain is just such a little sponge!

Multireal by David Louis Edelman

Multireal by David Louis Edelman

On the night that I first started reading David Louis Edelman’s Multireal, I was undergoing a sleep study at Mt. Auburn Hospital.  My neurologist was trying to determine a cause for the headaches I have been having for the last twenty years or so (dating back to high school, which makes this a good time to disclose that David and I went to high school together).  While immersing myself in the intricate story of the way Bio/Logic programming has brought about an amazing new world and open up the possibilities of the future, I turned my head to the left and noticed that the 17 electrodes attached to various parts of my head were hooked up to an electronics box made by a company called Bio-Logic.

So the first thing David’s book does is pass the Hunt for Red October test.  In Hunt, when trying to determine what the doors that house the Caterpillar Drive could be, he asks Jeffrey Jones, “Could you launch an ICBM horizontally?”  Jones replies, “Sure.  Why would you want to?”

Any good Science Fiction novel must pass the Hunt test.  It’s not enough to create a world of amazing possibilites and incredible technology.  There must be a reason these technologies were developed.  Things that people don’t need eventually fall by the wayside.  They can sound neat on the page (and eventually look neat on screen), but if they don’t have a practical purpose, then it’s just flashiness.  In other words, sloppy writing.  Well, Multireal passes the test with flying colors.


Not to step on Erik’s post by posting one of my own so soon afterwards, but I just have to share how my thesis is going. I sent my advisor the first draft of my second chapter tonight and then I pasted together the intro, chapter 1 and chapter 2. I’ve got 46 pages!!! And that is before I write my conclusion and I’m sure that I will add at least 5 pages (probably more) during the revision process. All I need is 50 and I’m going to make it. It’s such a relief. Hopefully my advisor will like chapter 2 as well as she like chapter 1 so there won’t be TOO much to fix up. Yay me!

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichten (1942-2008)

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

Don’t you ever just read for enjoyment? You can’t read Faulkner all the time! It’s too difficult, too depressing. You must unwind and relax a bit sometimes.

That’s the argument, anyway, and I hear it a lot. Of course I do. Like I said, there are plenty of books I love that wouldn’t necessarily make my top novels list. So to that end, I hereby present my 25 favorite novels to read, the ones I read over and over again. And there’s no Faulkner.

There is Michael Crichton, though. For a long time he was a very enjoyable author to read. I read Jurassic Park in high school, knowing that Spielberg was working on the film, and I not only loved it, it actually changed the way I view the world (seriously).

So, to the author of Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery, Sphere and The Andromeda Strain (all highly enjoyable), in honor of his untimely death yesterday, I dedicate my following list.

There are a few books that in the end, surprisingly didn’t make my list, some brilliant but damn enjoyable (Catch-22, 100 Years of Solitude, The Stranger), some more of a pleasure (The Big Sleep, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Golden Compass), some because I love the author but couldn’t pin down a specific book (Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore), and, then, the Harry Potter series, because I just couldn’t figure out which one, yet didn’t want to put the whole series, because the last four books are so much better than the first three.


The first person I associated with the number 44.  I still have this card.

The first person I associated with the number 44. I still have this card.

As a kid, I was a big Reggie Jackson fan. My parents and siblings had lived in Berkeley when Reggie became a star with the A’s, we had lived in New York when Reggie was at the top of the baseball world with the Yankees, and 1981, we moved to Southern California just months before Reggie followed, going to the Angels, who played within walking distance of our house.

Reggie wore #44 his whole career. And for some reason, of course, the number 44 is sticking in my mind today. Perhaps because of someone whose dignity, intelligence, talent and perseverance earned him a place in history. Someone who will always be identified with the number 44. (more…)

As many of our readers know, there have been two clown costumes in the Beck family for a great many years. We figure that about ten Becks have worn this costume over the last nearly forty years. This year was Thomas’ turn to wear one of them for Halloween. Unfortunately, we don’t have the hat, but he was still adorable. It was universally agreed by his teachers that this was the perfect costume for our funny little boy.

Thomas after school.

Thomas after school.

Veronica and her silly little boy.

Veronica and her silly little boy.

And for those of you who would like a “vintage” look at the costume, here is a picture of Erik wearing it in 1978. It give you a look at the hat also. Sorry I scanned it in rather small at  work yesterday, so there isn’t a bigger version to look at.

Erik and (unidentified) friends in 1978.

Erik and (unidentified) friends in 1978.