September 2012

The Modern Library dust jacket for Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.


  • Rank:  #10
  • Author:  Joseph Heller  (1923  –  1999)
  • Published:  1961
  • Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
  • Pages:  455
  • First Line:  “It was love at first sight.”
  • Last Lines:  “Yossarian jumped.  Nately’s whore was hiding just outside the door.  The knife came down, missing him by inches and he took off.”
  • Acclaim:  Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #7; All-TIME List
  • ML Edition:  #375  (two dust jackets – 1966, 1968)
  • Film:  1970 – *** (dir. Mike Nichols)
  • First Read:  January, 1994 (more…)

Leo, with my city in the background.

The 79th annual Academy Awards for the film year 2006.  The nominations were announced on January 23, 2007 and the awards were held on February 25, 2007.

Best Picture:  The Departed

  • The Queen
  • Babel
  • Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Little Miss Sunshine

Most Surprising Omission:  Dreamgirls

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Children of Men

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #23 (more…)

Marty directs Leo on how to beat the hell out of Matt. Oh, and he finally wins an Oscar.

My Top 20:

  1. The Departed
  2. Children of Men
  3. Pan’s Labyrinth
  4. The Fountain
  5. The Queen
  6. United 93
  7. The Prestige
  8. Army of Shadows
  9. Casino Royale
  10. Tristram Shandy
  11. Volver
  12. The Lives of Others
  13. Stranger Than Fiction
  14. The Painted Veil
  15. Blood Diamond
  16. Sophie Scholl – The Final Days
  17. Joyeux Noel
  18. Perfume
  19. Brick
  20. Thank You for Smoking


The Bantam cover of Crime and Punishment (complete with Dostoevsky portrait).

Crime and Punishment  (Преступлéние и наказáние)

  • Rank:  #11
  • Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky  (1821  –  1881)
  • Published:  1866
  • Publisher:  The Russian Messenger
  • Pages:  564
  • First Line:  “At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented from tenants in S—y Lane, walked out to the street, and slowly, as if indecisively, headed for the K—n Bridge.”
  • Last Lines:  “But here begins a new account, the account of a man’s gradual renewal, the account of his gradual regeneration, his gradual transition from one world to another, his acquaintance with a new, hitherto completely unknown reality.  It might make the subject of a new story – but out present story is ended.”
  • ML Edition:  #199  (four dust jackets – 1932, 1934, 1940, 1967); Illustrated Box; Illustrated Acetate; P-1; gold hardcover (1994)
  • Films:  many, incl.  1935 (***); 1959  (***); 1970  (***)
  • First Read:  Spring, 1995 (more…)

So, I have had a 7×7 Award bestowed upon me by the Mythical Monkey, partially because he put me in this category: “Here are seven bloggers (and twitter-ers) who never seem to respond to this sort of thing and thus whose answers might prove interesting.”  Given that he put me on a list that includes the President, the most famous film reviewer of all-time and an Oscar-nominated director, I feel honored.  But, it also presents me with a problem that I will explain at the end of this.

So, what is this thing?  Well, it’s a thing you hand out to people whose writing you like, in the hopes that those who don’t know the treasures they can find on the web can find them as well.  And it’s a nice thing to do, to help expose other blogs to some of your own traffic.

Basically, you answer several questions about your own blog, then pass on the award to seven other blogs.  So, here we go. (more…)

He was the hero for the Silent Era and a model for heroes to come: Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood.

When I first put up my various literary lists, I also put up this one.  The point of it was that, yes, in spite of all the things I write about, I do actually enjoy reading books.  And I read some books just for the sheer enjoyment of them.

Now, I write a lot about great films.  And in the course of all that writing, I write a lot about great acting.  But there is more to film than just great acting, great directing and great writing.  Some films can simply be pure enjoyment.  True, the very best of those films – the ones that manage to perfectly weld together sheer enjoyment with phenomenal talent are the best of the bunch – films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  But there are a lot of films that are just fun to watch.  Hell, over the last few weeks I have been watching my way through all the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan films.  Not the greatest bunch of films ever, but enjoyable to watch (never mind the strange family story that my uncle once broke his hand punching Weismuller’s son in the back).

So, this is a shout out to four stars – four of the greatest stars in film history.  They weren’t great actors, with the exception of a couple of performances.  But they were great stars, they were fun to watch and their films would bring a smile to your face.  Hell, while those pathetic decrepit bad action stars are starring in The Expendables 2, I want to make sure to point out the kind of stars who deserve to be seen. (more…)

The 1st Edition dust jacket of William Faulkner’s Absalom Absalom (1936)

Absalom, Absalom!

  • Author:  William Faulkner  (1897  –  1962)
  • Published:  1936
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  384
  • First Line:  “From a little after two oclock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that.”
  • Last Lines:  “I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: I dont.  I dont!  I dont hate it!  I dont hate it!
  • ML Edition:  #271  (two dust jackets – 1951, 1963); gold Modern Library, Modern Library College Edition
  • Film:  None, thankfully
  • First Read:  Spring, 1996 (more…)