March 2011


Thomas among the rocks at Purgatory Chasm

With a weekend visit from my dad and my total inability, it would seem, to get anything typed, there has been a big lag on the blog lately.  We took a trip out to Purgatory Chasm while he was here, which is where the pictures are from.  So, here is a bit of a family update to keep everything going while I try to finish my piece on the next book (Midnight’s Children), the next film year (1983) and the next For Love of Books (Disney).  It would appear that we haven’t done a family update since Christmas so this is long overdue.

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Ben Kingsley in his Oscar winning role as Gandhi (1982)

The 55th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1982.  The nominations were announced on February 17, 1983 and the awards were held on April 11, 1983.

Best Picture:  Gandhi

  • The Verdict
  • Tootsie
  • Missing
  • E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial

Most Surprising Omission:  Das Boot

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Sophie’s Choice

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #22 (more…)

the mysterious Sophie and the men who love her - Peter MacNichol, Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in Sophie's Choice (1982)

My Top 20:

  1. Sophie’s Choice
  2. The Verdict
  3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  4. Das Boot
  5. Tootsie
  6. Missing
  7. E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial
  8. The Long Good Friday
  9. Diner
  10. Fitzcarraldo
  11. Blade Runner
  12. Poltergeist
  13. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  14. My Favorite Year
  15. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  16. Shoot the Moon
  17. Three Brothers
  18. Mephisto
  19. Gandhi
  20. Coup de Torchon (more…)

the cover from the first paperback edition of Tim O'Brien's haunting meditation on Vietnam: The Things They Carried (1990)

The Things They Carried

  • Author:  Tim O’Brien  (b. 1946)
  • Rank:  #48
  • Published:  1990
  • Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
  • Pages:  273
  • First Line:  “First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.”
  • Last Line:  “I’m skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy’s life with a story.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film Version:  1998 TV film (A Soldier’s Sweetheart)
  • Awards:  Pulitzer Prize Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Finalist
  • First Read:  March, 1994 (more…)

the courtyard race in Chariots of Fire (1981); yes, there are scenes in the film other than the opening run along the beach

The 54th Academy Awards, for the film year 1981.  The nominations were announced on 11 February, 1982 and the awards were held on 29 March, 1982.

Best Picture:  Chariots of Fire

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Reds
  • Atlantic City
  • On Golden Pond

Most Surprising Omission:  Ragtime

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Gallipoli

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #28

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the first film I ever bought on video

My Top 20:

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Gallipoli
  3. Reds
  4. Atlantic City
  5. Excalibur
  6. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  7. Ragtime
  8. Body Heat
  9. Superman II
  10. Pixote
  11. The Boat is Full
  12. Man of Iron
  13. Absence of Malice
  14. Buddy Buddy
  15. The Fox and the Hound
  16. Chariots of Fire
  17. My Dinner with Andre
  18. Four Seasons
  19. Zoot Suit
  20. Pennies from Heaven (more…)

me, several co-workers, a very tired Thomas and Michael Chabon at the signing for The Yiddish Policeman's Union

“No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.”  (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, p. 297)

He isn’t just the writer of two of my favorite books.  He is the author of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that I rank as the second best novel so far this century.  He is an accomplished author of literary fiction who has nonetheless veered off into genre after being established.  He is the only Pulitzer winner for Fiction to win either the Hugo or the Nebula for Best Novel and he won both for the same book.  He has allowed comic books and pulp fiction to influence and inform his work and remembered that many of the best short stories of last century were genre stories.  He has branched out and proven he can also write essays, comic books and even films.  He is Michael Chabon. (more…)

the first edition of Michael Chabon's marvelous Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys

  • Author:  Michael Chabon  (b. 1963)
  • Rank:  #49
  • Published:  1995
  • Publisher:  Villard Books
  • Pages:  368
  • First Line:  “The first real writer I ever knew was a man who did all of his work under the name of August Van Zorn.”
  • Last Line:  “The young men listen dutifully, for the most part, and from time to time some of them even take the trouble to go over to the college library, and dig up one or another of his novels, and crouch there, among the stacks, flipping impatiently through the pages, looking for the parts that sound true.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film Version:  2000  (**** – dir. Curtis Hanson)
  • First Read:  January, 2000 (more…)

Ordinary People: The film and Timothy Hutton won Oscars in 1980 over Raging Bull and Joe Pesci when they shouldn't have. Mary Tyler Moore should have but lost to Sissy Spacek.

The 53rd Academy Awards for the film year 1980.  The nominations were announced on February 17, 1981 and the awards were held on March 31, 1981.

Best Picture:  Ordinary People

  • Raging Bull
  • The Elephant Man
  • Tess
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter

Most Surprising Omission:  The Stunt Man

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Breaker Morant

Rank  (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #10 (more…)

Martin Scorsese directing Robert De Niro on the set of Raging Bull (1980)

My Top 20:

  1. Raging Bull
  2. Breaker Morant
  3. The Elephant Man
  4. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  5. Ordinary People
  6. The Shining
  7. Kagemusha
  8. Tess
  9. Stardust Memories
  10. Airplane!
  11. The Stunt Man
  12. My Brilliant Career
  13. Melvin and Howard
  14. The Last Metro
  15. No Regrets for Our Youth
  16. Return of the Secaucus Seven
  17. Mon Oncle D’Amerique
  18. Vengeance is Mine
  19. The Master and Margaret
  20. Christ Stopped at Eboli (more…)

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