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Posted: 28 Sep 2005, 04:02
by EvaUnit02
degeneration wrote:Babylon 5 - Legions of Fire trilogy (aka Centauri Trilogy) 5/5
Did you like Season 5? I thought it was dull as hell, they should've ended the series with "Deconstruction of Falling Stars". The Shadow Wars was what made Babylon 5 so good.3

Posted: 28 Sep 2005, 09:27
by grim_tales
Bisc have you read Across the Nightingale Floor? You might like it 8) ... 37-1691862

Its the first in a Trilogy. :)

Posted: 28 Sep 2005, 12:39
by degeneration
EvaUnit02 wrote:
degeneration wrote:Babylon 5 - Legions of Fire trilogy (aka Centauri Trilogy) 5/5
Did you like Season 5? I thought it was dull as hell, they should've ended the series with "Deconstruction of Falling Stars". The Shadow Wars was what made Babylon 5 so good.3
I liked it on its own merits but compared to season 3 and 4, yeah it was quite dull, cause topping those seasons was going to be impossible! Have read that the shadow war and earth war etc was meant to go into season 5 but as they weren't sure they wear going to get a season 5 is was compressed into season 4, and then when season 5 came round they didn't have all the things they originally intended which is why it was a bit of an anti-climax, and with Ivanova leaving that pulled the show down a bit too.

But the books kick ass and I'd LOVE to have seen them made into a series. Not gonna happen though...

Posted: 30 Sep 2005, 00:03
by brassmonkey001
I recently gave up reading Walden. Just couldn't get into it. So I read Pratchetts Wee Free Men as an antidote. Now on Taiko. I decided to leave it a while after Musashi cos I enjoyed it so much.

Posted: 13 Nov 2005, 23:06
by degeneration
Babylon 5: The Telepath Trilogy 5/5

This really did kick ass. Book 1, I've mentioned above, Book 2 covers Bester's rise in the Psi-Corps and Book 3 covers what happens to him after the Mundane-Telepath war, and again is quite kick ass. If you are B5 fan, you really have to read them. In fact, ALL the B5 books I've read are absolute MUST reads to the fans - The Technomage trilogy, The Centauri Trilogy, The telepath Trilogy, To Dream in a City of Sorrow and The Shadow Within.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 5/5

Really liked this, was meant to last me a week or so, but read it all over 1 weekend. Looking forward to the film.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix 4.5/5

Again really good, and again was meant to last me quite a while, but only lasted me 3 days cause I just kept wanting to go back and read more. That's a very good sign for a book! But have docked 0.5 because of 2 things - 1) She is getting a bit long winded now. I'm sure things could have been shortened a bit in quite a number of places without losing any sort of effect. It just seems like she is going for length just for the sake of it. 2) A few bits, particularly towards the end were getting a little unbelievable. Like where the kids at the end are fighting the Death Eaters. Ok, so they don't want to harm Harry cause of the Prophecy, but the others... they were all expendable in the DE's eyes. Those guys were Voldemort's main killing people, so I don't care that they haven't been doing much of it for 13 years or so, but the fact that they couldn't really do much against 6 kids... I don't buy that at all.

Posted: 15 Nov 2005, 17:35
by biguy
Last 'book' I read was Tim Burtons "Death of Oyster Boy....."......I think if you like his movies and know how his mind works you can enjoy this collection of short stories(well, more like poems).....
A bit short for the money, but he has some good ideas.......kinda reminded me of A twisted Dr Seuss or sommat.....

Posted: 16 Nov 2005, 08:57
by degeneration
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 5/5

Ok, she still may write a little long-winded, but the story was awesome!!! Had me gripped throughout, especially once it got going, which is why I had it finished within 30 hours of buying... just kept wanting to know what happened next. The ending... OMFG!!! Did NOT see that coming. I expected someone to die, but not the person that does!!!

Get writing fecking quickly JK!!! I WANT part 7!!!

Posted: 12 Dec 2005, 23:07
by degeneration
The Chronicles of Narnia - all 7 books 4.5/5

These were actually very good, and to a degree got better for me as I went through the books. The very first one is very much written in a kid style (I know all the books are geared towards children, but the first one more so than any of the others), but they get better written IMO and more violent as the books go on.

Is good how major characters from one book appear in some of the others.

I can see why of all the books The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe was made into the film, as it probably has the most commercial appeal, and as it is one of the early books, requires less in the way of explanation as the others.

Not read anything about the film of it, but would be interesting to see if they summarise book 1 in the film to tell how Narnia was created, how the lampost got there etc.

Glad I finally got round to reading them! Prob should have when I was a kid!

Posted: 01 Jan 2006, 22:10
by degeneration
His Dark Materials book 1: Northern Lights 4.5/5

Once it got going I was very much immersed in this book. Tells the story of people on what I can only assume is a parrallel universe Earth. Every person has their own daemon that is part of their spirit or soul or something like that. The daemon can never go more than a certain distance away from its companion and is a life friend for the person. But children are going missing and there is a mysterious substance called Dust that has been discovered... are the two connected?

Cannot wait till I get parts 2 and 3!!!

Pendragon: Books 1-3 by D.J. Machale. Can't remember what book 1 is called, book 2 is The Lost City of Faar and book 3 is The NEver War. 4.5/5

Loved these books too! Bought them as a blind purchase cause I needed something to read over here in NZ, and I got a box set of all 3 brand new for $10!!! That's 4 quid!! Was expecting them to be naff, but they weren't!

They are a sort of teen book, in the same sort of style as the Harry Potter books, but I think adults would like them too (I did). About a boy who discovers that he is a Traveler - a person from one of the many territories who has to fight to stop the territories falling into chaos, and therefore possible destroying the universe.

Now looking for books 4-7!!

Posted: 01 Jan 2006, 22:12
by degeneration
Am I the only one reading these days, or what??!?!

Posted: 01 Jan 2006, 23:27
by Yi-Long
degeneration wrote:Am I the only one reading these days, or what??!?!
I'm reading the big ass Kurosawa/Mifune biography, called The Emperor and the Wolf. Pretty interesting so far, although all the people having japanese names, and many of them have multiple names as well, occasionally makes it a bit hard to follow.

Posted: 21 Aug 2007, 10:04
by degeneration
Thought it was time to resurrect this thread...

Artemis Fowl Books 1 - 5 4.5-5/5

Have really enjoyed all the Artemis Fowl books. Some are definitely better than others, but all are enjoyable. Good stories with twists and turns to keep you interested. Very cleverly done (they'd have to be considering the title character is a child genius). For those that don't know the books are about a child genius criminal mastermind.

Harry Potter series 5/5

The books certainly got more "adult" as they progressed, and as a series it is fantastic. Finished The Deathly Hallows last night, and was great to finally have all the little pieces fit into place. Twists, turns and teenage angst. Doubt there will be a global phenomenon like Harry Potter for quite a long time.

Posted: 21 Aug 2007, 15:27
by Shen
degen: the last book is pretty cool isnt it... what do you think of the 19yrs later part? i found it a little i dunno, but its certainly a cool book, i think my 2nd favourite after OOTP, there is a few little things i didnt get int he book tho how did aberforth get sirius' mirror? it was said earlier that he carried it with him always

you've read quite an amout of books. i read the narnia series at 7yo, and enjoyed them thrououghly, they are still great even now, some of the best books out there, its very hard to find literature of such a calibre now, Harry Potter is great for this day and age, but when you look at Tolkein and Lewis, they created entire worlds, languages and everything, i havent seen anythign anywhere near that in these days.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 08 Sep 2015, 19:11
by Masterofoneinchpunch
Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat (2005) by Edward McPherson

Given the high rating that the reviewers on Amazon gave this I thought it was going to be a bit better than it was. It is a fine introduction to Buster Keaton, but for those more knowledgeable on the topic it is sometimes a bit too repetitive. For example, if you have read Keaton’s autobiography My Wonderful World of Slapstick it is referenced a lot here. In fact that is the main issue: there are very few sources used for this and the majority of these come from Rudi Blesh’s Keaton (1966), Mario Meade’s Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (1997), the autobiography, and Eleanor Keaton & Jeffrey Vance’s Buster Keaton Remembered (2001). The bibliography has a total of 14 books and a few Los Angeles Time and New York Times references. The rest is plot description mixed with his opinions.

His opinions are harsher than I agree with. He loves the early silent films and is quite fawning on Sherlock Jr. and The General, but gives mediocre or underplaying comments on the later ones like with Seven Chances, College, Steamboat Bill Jr. and The Cameraman. He confuses underperforming with being a dud. He calls Steamboat Bill, Jr. a dud and one might wonder why if Keaton was doing all these late silent “duds” why would MGM want him. He also does not write enough about the post-silent era of Keaton. He completely dismisses the Educational films with the asinine statement “…despite what the diehards tell you, are really just for diehards.” Of course when you write something like this it makes it easier to ignore it and not have to go over them in the book. It seems lazy to me.

While not knocking him on the following point: I would have added some comments from Orson Welles and others on Keaton that are missing here.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 02 Oct 2015, 18:36
by Masterofoneinchpunch
The Hollywood Posse (1975/1996) by Diana Serra Cary

A fun read with this hagiography on the author’s father Jack Montgomery by former silent child star Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary is a pseudonym and she has written several other books.) Unfortunately most of Baby Peggy’s films have been lost to a fire at Century Film years ago. It is less about the “Hollywood Posse” and more about her Dad. Jack Montgomery was a cowboy first then later an extra and bit actor during Hollywood for many films working with Tom Mix to Cecil B. De Mille. There are a load of stories with her father at the center from early silent Hollywood through several decades. Most telling is an episode where she recounts a story she was told of several cowboys planning and almost killing De Mille during a makeshift stampede during the filming of The Crusades (1935).

Now you have to take everything she states with some skepticism. Many of the stories are told second-hand and often seem mythical in scope. She constantly talks about “The Cowboy Code” as if it were concrete in nature like the Ferengi’s rules of acquisition. She admires her father and her father’s friends very much and takes their Tall Tales as matter-of-fact. Her writing is fun and peppered with cowboy idioms. Now she does get some facts wrong here and there. The most obvious one is that she states several times that Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail as this big success which is was not. Both Walsh and a young John Wayne were hurt by it, forcing John Wayne to work in B westerns for many years (she states that he would go from B to big budget after this which was not true.)

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 09 Oct 2015, 16:55
by Masterofoneinchpunch
A Pictorial History of the Western (1969/1975) by William K. Everson

While this book does cover westerns up to the published date, the majority of the book covers American westerns from the beginning of cinema through the 1940s. There is so much information that I was dumbstruck by how much I did not know about silent and “b” westerns. No matter how much you learn about cinema, there is always more to learn.

The book is too lean from the 1950s through the 1960s. He dismisses The Wild Bunch (though does give it certain praise) because of the violence, which does seem much more tame these days because of the overabundance of screened gore that would follow this movie. He completely ignores Anthony Mann except for one picture of Winchester ’73. While he rightfully has great things to say about John Ford (even has a dedicated chapter), he considers She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Wagon Master to be his western classics post-1946 (both very good films), but strangely downplays what would be among Ford’s most famous films now The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He states: “…a mere seven months remain of the sixties, and the entire decade has given us only one truly outstanding Western – Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country…” While that is a truly outstanding film, I disagree with it tremendously (mentioning two other outstanding films above, plus he did not even mention The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – though non-American westerns were not in the scope of this book.) *

It might sound like there is too much negativity (or too much nitpicking), but this book is easily worth having for its knowledge and much writing of early western stars such as Broncho Billy Anderson, William S. Hart and Tom Mix. Of course it has a lot to say about important western stars as John Wayne, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry too. Plus it has an assortment of movie stills, posters and pertinent pictures. I do expect to be revisiting this book if I happen to watch an earlier western – a good sign that this is a worthy addition to my cinematic library.

Everson is responsible for finding, archiving and keeping alive many films that would have been discarded. He was an author, a professor and very few people have seen as many films as he did. To read more about him check out this biography. David Bordwell also writes about him here.

* Another aspect I disagreed with when he wrote about Kurosawa: “… Yojimbo, which itself was a deliberate attempt to adapt the style and visuals of John Ford’s Westerns to the Japanese idiom.” John Ford was certainly an influence, but so was a lot of other westerns, non-westerns, detective books, etc… I do not feel he was trying to adapt anything with this movie. I wrote about the movie here.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 15 Oct 2015, 20:01
by Masterofoneinchpunch
Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin

For fans of silent cinema and those wanting to learn more this is a pretty good book to start. It is divided into two main parts: one of what the author considers Fifty Great Films (not his top 50 silents, but a combination of what he considers important as in artistic as well as box-office triumphs) which I list below and part two consists of Seventy-Five Great Stars which I will not list J. It is important to note that this book is about American cinema and not world-wide cinema.

The author is quite a D.W. Griffith fan that he and his actors dominates the book. I like Griffith but not to the point of hyperbole that the author reaches for. I found it weird that Roscoe Arbuckle was almost completely ignored except for one image. Not only is Arbuckle not even listed among the Seventy-Five stars he is not even mentioned (except one picture) in the Buster Keaton section. Arbuckle was a huge star who started Keaton in show business. His infamous downfall (wrongly accused) was one of the biggest scandals of the 1920s. I would have included Charley Chase in as well though the author mentions him as underrated in the prologue.

But still I have sections of this many times, finally reading it from end-to-end last week. There is so much information that there is so much to glean from. Now there have been several discoveries of silent film (unfortunately no London After Midnight or longer version of Greed) since the original publication in 1959, but his choices here are solid even if I disagree with a few picks.

This was edited by William K. Everson whom I had reviewed an earlier book by. He had a big influence and was possibly a coauthor on it [Parallel Play; pg 45; Tim Page]* He would later go on to write American Silent Film in 1978 a book I just purchased.

* I know of no definitive proof. Some even state that Everson wrote most/all of the book. The book does read like his western book and there is an inordinate amount of D.W. Griffith love.

Here are the movies discussed (order by book and timeline). It is a pretty good list and while I have some qualms I will not spout off too much until I watch a few more on the list I have not seen. The ones in bold are ones I have seen.

The Great Train Robbery
The Perils of Pauline
The Spoilers
The Birth of a Nation
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages
Hell's Hinges
Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl
When the Clouds Roll by
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Way Down East
The Mark of Zorro
Tol'able David
Orphans of the Storm
Nanook of the North
The Last of the Mohicans
Safety Last!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Covered Wagon
The Ten Commandments
The Iron Horse
Sherlock Jr.
Peter Pan
The Big Parade
The Gold Rush
The Phantom of the Opera
The Lost World
A Kiss for Cinderella
The Son of the Sheik
The Scarlet Letter
Stella Dallas
The Black Pirate
Don Juan
7th Heaven
Flesh and the Devil
What Price Glory
The General
The Strong Man
White Gold
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beau Geste
The Cat and the Canary
White Shadows in the South Seas
Our Dancing Daughters
The Crowd
City Lights
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas

List Challenges
IMDB list

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 16 Oct 2015, 00:35
by grim_tales
Suprised that The Squaw Man - a Western, wasnt mentioned there, i think that was made in 1914 (and was the first feature length film in American cinema AFAIK) :)

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 16 Oct 2015, 17:26
by Masterofoneinchpunch
grim_tales wrote:Suprised that The Squaw Man - a Western, wasnt mentioned there, i think that was made in 1914 (and was the first feature length film in American cinema AFAIK) :)
It is not too surprising given that the author is high on Griffith but not as high on DeMille. Though you notice he did pick The Ten Commandments (he gives his opinions on DeMille in that section, though he likes that film a bit; he tends to prefer the non-epic spectacles from DeMille.) I have not seen The Squaw Man, though it does not have a high reputation these days among critics.

OK it seems most likely (deducing from the following statement) that he picked The Spoilers over The Squaw Man:

"The Spoilers was certainly the best picture the generally unimaginative Selig company ever put out -- and perhaps the only one that made a real contribution to screen history, eclipsing even DeMille's famous The Squaw Man..."

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 11 Dec 2015, 22:44
by Masterofoneinchpunch
American Silent Film (1978) by William K. Everson

For those getting into silent film this is not a bad place to start. I do think Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin (which Everson was a part of writing this book) is another good starting read and more focused on actors and movies. Now Everson is a little too D.W. Griffith centric, a big chunk of the book is about him, and while he will write about some of the foibles of Griffith he still varies toward the hagiography and actually does not agree with some of the racial problems with some of the films like Birth of a Nation. I also feel he shortchanges the silent comedy a bit here and does not write enough on it. It has its own genre section but still it was not enough considering how important it was and still is.

He is quite fair to sound films and will give examples on where he thinks they work better: like the work of W.C. Fields (though a lot of his silent output is missing.) Though I disagree dramatically with his condemnation of the Ben-Hur remake (in his western book he poo-poos many westerns after 1960.) And he does discuss a bit of non-American silent films as well though mostly in relation to what was released in the United States such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). He has a small section at the end discussing several others. I do think he shortchanges them, but it is not necessarily his fault as we have more access to them now than he did. Here is David Bordwell on the subject:
Earlier generations of film historians, for example, were inclined to treat D.W. Griffith as the most important figure in the U.S. silent cinema because it seemed that he invented a number of editing techniques that became widespread. More recent historians have developed a counterargument, thanks to the greater availability of films by other directors and a more comparison-based method. These scholars claim that Griffith developed certain tendencies that were already present, pushing them to a new level of expression. Moreover, his most original techniques were not picked up by others, so in some respects other directors had more influence on standard editing practice. As an individual Griffith remains important, but he is probably not the Great Innovator that people once considered him.

But I doubt I will ever see anywhere near the amount of silent films he has seen and he was even limited to film prints during much of his lifetime. Silent films for the most part are so much easier to find today with DVD releases (VHS if you need to) and so many on youtube. I am going through a Kino set of Edison films right now for example. And there has been several discoveries since the writing of this book (though unfortunately most silent films are no longer extant.) There is much to be learned from this book though and would make a nice addition to anyone’s cinema book library.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 06 Jan 2016, 00:17
by Masterofoneinchpunch
Here is the tally for last year with a quick comment on the book.

2015 Books:
  1. Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke (1999) by Thomas Cleary (Translator), Taira Shigesuke SLY
    Anyone interested in Samurai should read this. I like Cleary's translations and the books he tends to translate.
  2. Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking 4[sup]th[/sup] Edition (1995) by Vincent Ruggiero
    This is the second time I have read this. It was originally for a class in Critical Thinking (duh). Anyone who is interesting in dealing with logical arguments should read this.
  3. Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to The Martial Arts Film (2006) by David West
    This ended up being just an OK book on martial art films.
  4. The Hobbit (1937) by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The third time I have read this. While not as in depth as the Lord of the RIngs, still a fun book to read before you see the three films :D.
  5. Money Master the Game (2014) by Tony Robbins
    A good book on financial information. It deals with the basics and is a good read for those new into finance, stock, investing.
  6. Not Cool (2014) by Greg Gutfeld
    A humorous libertarian book. I enjoy his humor, though he can repeat his jokes a bit too much.
  7. Chang Cheh: A Memoir (2004) by Chang Cheh, preface by John Woo, Sek Kei edited by Wong Ain-ling
    A must for any fan of Chang Cheh. It is unfortunately too light and over too quick and hard to get, but once you have it you can lord it over those who do not.
  8. Akira Kurosawa Interviews (2008) edited by Bert Cardullo
    Nice OOP book of Kurosawa interviews. I am a fan so I had to have this. If you write on Kurosawa you would want this.
  9. Letters of the Dragon (1998) by Bruce Lee Volume 5 Edited by John Little
    Pretty obvious from the title. Fans of Bruce Lee would definitely need this.
  10. Kung Fu Cult Masters (2003) by Leon Hunt
    A surprisingly good book on martial art films. Sometimes overuses postmodern verbiage, but for fans of these type of films would want this book.
  11. The Joy of Hate (2012) by Greg Gutfeld
    A humorous libertarian book. I enjoy his humor, though he can repeat his jokes a bit too much.
  12. Be Careful What You Wish For (2014) by Jeffrey Archer
    The fourth book in the Clifton Chronicles. Archer is a good storyteller, not great with multi-dimensional characters though.
  13. Buddha’s Brain (2009) Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius, Foreward by Daniel J. Siegel, Preface by Jack Kornfield.
    I love books on neuroscience.
  14. My Wonderful World of Slapstick (1960/1982) by Buster Keaton and Charles Samuels, intro by Dwight MacDonald.
    This is Keaton's autobiography. I loved it, though like all autobiographies it is good to supplement with a biography to get a more rounded picture.
  15. Ty Cobb A Terrible Beauty (2015) by Charles Leerhsen
    Ty Cobb had been done a huge wrong by Al Stump a previous biographer who wrote many untruths. This is one of the more important sports biographies of the past several years.
  16. Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me (1990) by Bob Hope with Melville Shavelson
    A humor book on Hope's exploits as he traveled the world to entertain the GIs.
  17. Beam Me Up, Scotty (1996) by James Doohan with Peter David
    A fun autobiography from a bit of a grouch. Too short though.
  18. Pure Drivel (1998) by Steve Martin
    Humor book full of drivel. Not sure it is pure, but it is in the 90 percent range.
  19. The Wind and the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Graham
    The kid's classic, though I think most kids today would have difficulty with the diction. Disney did a film based on parts of this.
  20. The Reagan Diaries (2009) by Ronald Reagan edited by Douglas Brinkley
    Very dry, but important as it does give you a ton of information on what Reagan did. Not as much about what he thought, though occasionally does this. I started this a previous year.
  21. Charlie Chaplin: A Bio-bibliography (1983) by Wes D. Gehring
    One of the best aspects of the book is when Gehring goes over all the previous biographies and autobiographies on Chaplin. He is certainly a fan, but this is not hagiography.
  22. The Marx Brothers: Their World of Comedy (1969) by Allen Eyles
    Small book on the Marx Brothers films.
  23. Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat (2005) by Edward McPherson
    A solid biography on Keaton, though it could have used more sources.
  24. Warner Brothers Directors (1978) by William R. Meyer
    It is exactly what it states. Only for movie wonks.
  25. Fit for the Chase (1969) by Raymond Lee
    A mostly picture book with lots of cars from the 20s and 30s.
  26. John Wayne: The Life and Legend (2014) by Scott Eyman
    One of the best biographies I have read. Anyone interested in Hollywood film should read this.
  27. The Rise and Fall of the Matinee Idol (1974) edited by Anthony Curtis
    While this does go over a little film, it mostly goes over famous stage performers from England.
  28. Plunder And Deceit (2015) by Mark Levin
    Conservative creed. Well written though.
  29. The Hollywood Posse (1975/1996) by Diana Serra Cary
    This is mainly about the author's dad who was an early Hollywood Cowboy performer. She was an early kids silent movie star.
  30. A Pictorial History of the Western (1969/1975) by William K. Everson
    Everson is quite knowledable about silent and early sound film so he does concentrate more about the 1920s and 1930s westerns than later. I learned a lot as my western knowledge is more in the 40s and after.
  31. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (2011) by David Eagleman
    More neuroscience.
  32. Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin
    A must have for anyone into silent cinema.
  33. Why a Duck (1980) by Richard J. Anobile, Introduction by Groucho Marx
    Mostly pictures with funny statements. No depth to this.
  34. The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair
    Muckraking at either its finest or its worst. Too heavyhanded. Important for the influence it would have on legislature. Not too many books have done that.
  35. The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway
    Nice characterization about the lost generation. You can see a lot of this in Midnight in Paris. This also was influential for getting more people to learn about the Running of the Bulls.
  36. The Chaplin Encyclopedia (1997) by Glenn Mitchell
    So much information that it is probably best that you use it for resource instead of reading it front to back like I did.
  37. Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) by Niall Ferguson
    Awesome historical book on why some countries became more successful than others. Read it with Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond to get another opinion on the subject.
  38. Treasure Island (1883) by Robert Lewis Stevenson
    Reread. Always enjoyable tale. Then watch the Disney version of it.
  39. How to Be Right (2015) by Greg Gutfeld
    Could have been more in depth. Fun to read though.
  40. Greek Myths: A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (1852) by Nathanial Hawthorne
    I ended up liking this more than I thought I would. Hawthorne reexamines certain Greeks Myths and slightly (or more) modifies them.
  41. Killing Reagan (2015) by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
    Ended up quite disappointed by this. Some of the sources he used were not good.
  42. War of the Worlds (1898) by H.G. Wells
    Quite different than the films, but still an interesting sci-fi read.
  43. My Father at 100 (2010) by Ron Reagan
    Reagan is a solid writer and this ended up being a quite enjoyable read on life with his father.
  44. American Silent Film (1978) by William K. Everson
    Another must have for fans of silent film.
  45. The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 (1997) by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner
    Funny, but over way too quick.
  46. Almost Interesting (2015) by David Spade
    Not as funny, though it has its moments especially Spade on Rob Schneider and his incident with Skippy. Over pretty quickly. I have a signed copy of it which I got from Barnes and Noble.
  47. A-Z of Silent Film Comedy (1998) by Glenn Mitchell Foreword by Kevin Brownlow
    Use for reference, do not use for reading from front-to-back which I did.
  48. Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges (1960/1977) by Moe Howard
    Quite a fun read. Now I'm looking forward to the larger autobiography from Moe.
  49. Slander (2002) by Ann Coulter
    Very good researcher but she has an acerbic personality.
  50. The First Men in the Moon (1901) by H.G. Wells
    Another influential sci-fi from Wells. I actually think this is more well written than War of the Worlds.
  51. A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens
    More of a Novella than a Novel. Seriously great read. The movies are so similar to this book.
  52. Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again (2015) by Donald Trump
    Got as a Christmas gift. Probably not as many words (but more pages) than A Christmas Carol. You get to learn more about his positions and of course his love of himself.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 12 Jan 2016, 18:49
by Masterofoneinchpunch
A More Perfect Union (2015) by Ben Carson with Candy Carson SLY

In ways this is similar to Trump’s Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again where both are released at the time of their campaigns both to make more money and of course help them in the primaries. Trump’s book is a manifesto full of his bludgeoning personality while Carson’s book (and Carson himself) is the more erudite where he has penned a constitutional primer. Trump’s book is more entertainment, while this is a bit more studious. It is successful for what it is trying to accomplish – a somewhat quick monograph where I feel Carson was learning as much at the time of his writing. It is not as in depth as Mark Levin delving into the famed document and there are certain areas where Levin would disagree (like the Constitutional Convention idea in Article V of the Constitution) but it is still an interesting read for those who are new to the topic.

Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997/2003) by Jared Diamond SLY

This Pulitzer Prize winning book is a great read. It is also a rather lengthy, detail oriented, academic read and which I started last year just so you do not think I am insanely fast at reading or spending all day reading or lying. It is a good book to ponder over as you are perusing it as there is so much information that it pays to go over it slowly. Last year I had read Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) by Niall Ferguson which goes over the main thesis, but with different analysis and answers. The main question is “why does one culture come to dominate over another?” And Ferguson starts with what is known about earliest humanity and especially relying over his vast experience with New Guinea uses mostly biogeographical theories to explain broad trends over a vast period of human time. Sometimes he relies too much on this approach (in software this would be called a Golden Hammer anti-pattern), but still a fascinating read. I did find a few questionable aspects, mainly his overemphasis on how bad QWERTY keyboard is (it is not, but I have to find research on this which I have hidden away.) A book that deserves a full length review.

Travels with Charley (1962) by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck is quite playful with his prose and this was a much more fun read than I initially had thought it was. While this is labeled as non-fiction, most likely there are fabrications throughout. He took a writer’s liberty with it. Charley was Steinbeck’s French poodle and as Steinbeck was getting and feeling older he wanted to have one last hurrah across the country (supposedly roughing it in his modified truck/camper named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse and without his wife) and it would also be a good opportunity to test himself and, of course, get a book out of it. He is at his best when explaining the local characters, traits of locals as he slowly moves his way across the country. One might wonder why he glosses over big sections of the country, but most likely he did not quite do all the journey he stated he had.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 18 Jan 2016, 22:23
by Masterofoneinchpunch
Here is more what I have read so far this month:

A Little Princess (1905) by Frances Hodgson Burnett

What amazes me when I go through these “children’s books” how little they feel like they are directed to children and instead about children. I wonder how many young-ones grow up reading these. The diction certainly can be difficult for children (though I do wonder if there is a lot more jargon and slang today). I never read many of these books growing up, so I figured I should read them now. Of course, one does not feel at his most manly reading this beautiful Barnes & Noble edition with pinkish cover and silver trim in public, but then again I did see Magic Mike by myself and check out the link for my theatrical story. I had seen The Little Princess (1939; yes it is a “the” and not an “a”; I have not seen the later version) with Shirley Temple a year ago and I do like it. But expect some key differences between the book and movie as usual. Both I recommend, but the book is superior, has beautiful prose just like Burnett’s other book I read The Secret Garden and should be read by anyone interested in a movingly good story.

A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the first Sherlock Holmes novella by the author. I am a big fan of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series, the two Robert Downey Jr. films (I need to see anything with Jeremy Brett in it, but as usual I am behind in TV series; like with Hellboy I hope there is a third film) and even the underrated Hammer Studio’s The Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing in lead. The first thing I noticed that Nigel Bruce of the Rathbone series does not necessarily fit with Watson in the books, but then again Shirley Temple did not fit perfectly with the image of her character in A Little Princess. But I like them regardless. This is a bloody jolly good read my fellow geezers, though I was thrown off by the move to America and the Mormon western story which takes place toward the end of the book. I do wonder how truthful that was as it does seem a bit anti-Brigham Young. It is interesting that Watson’s wound from India moves from his shoulder to his leg in the next story The Sign of Four.

The Best in the World (2014) by Chris Jericho

I have a signed Barnes and Noble edition (with the nice signed sticker attached) so I figured I would give this a read. It has been quite a long time since I have followed wrestling, in fact a little after Jericho came up with Y2J (it’s cool that he adds this to his signature in the book), but I do love memoirs and I have always been fond of Mick Foley’s writing on the subject – I highly recommend Have a Nice Day! from him. Him and his ghostwriter, I mean cowriter Peter Thomas Fornatale weave many interesting stories from six years into this book even sometimes going over too much territory from his previous two books (I have not read, however in a running gag he refers to both of them, probably a bit too much.) But he covers wrestling (love the tale with Undertaker catching on fire, though Undertaker did not like it), his group Fozzy and his time during Dancing with the Stars. While he probably drinks too much (though a story with Shawn Michaels about this is classic), repeats some styles of humor too much (this is actually a habit many cowriters, ghostwriters do in books), it is an engaging read that was never uninteresting.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 09 Mar 2016, 19:01
by Masterofoneinchpunch
So far 15 books read for the year. Here are some more minis:

The Sign of Four (1890) by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the second Sherlock Holmes novella from the author. You get to understand the drug use and reasons behind by Holmes (it is not unique among the canon.) Watson falls in love (this aspect will be mentioned later in the series as well) with Mary Morstan who will eventually be his wife. One aspect I noticed was that in the first two books: Scotland Yard got all the credit at the end. Doyle seemed to get rid of this angle in the rest that I have read. The plotline is more satisfactory than in his first book and overall a better read.

Dancing with Myself (2014) by Billy Idol

Since I have read Al Jourgensen’s autobiography “Minstry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen” I am a little desensitized to excess. Now Idol, like Jourgensen, is lucky to be alive with the vast amount of substance abuse they partake in, but Idol does come off of more of the addict. What I mean by that is that the drugs become the life and in fact it makes people less interesting. It was fun reading about Idol’s youth. I had no idea he moved to America when he was young, though moved pretty quickly back to England. Good to read about Generation X, his earlier punk band and a big influence on his solo career and all the relationships, music-wise, that he has had. It was also nice to hear he does not dismiss Cyberpunk, his most controversial and least-liked LP (though one of my favorites) though the criticisms did hurt him tremendously. It seems he penned this himself with a cowriter, though some have stated there must be a ghostwriter – which I wonder, but the prose is a bit clunky.

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is where Sherlock Holmes starts to blossom. This is a collection of short stories of Holmes and you get to learn more and more about the character, though maybe not enough about Watson since, so far, the stories are from his eyes in an idolizing of the titular character. For me these types of stories are a blast. Occasionally you are given enough to figure out who had committed the crime, occasionally you probably do not have enough info and sometimes you might wonder if the inductive and deductive reasoning might be a bit stretched (of course it is), but they are fascinating reads throughout (well with one major exception in “The Noble Bachelor” which was among Doyle’s least favorites.) I start to think about the Basil Rathbone movies, the Guy Ritchie ones (who are more faithful then you might at first imagine) and of course films and TV shows I still need to see.

If Someone Says “You Complete, Me, Run!: Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships (2015) by Whoopi Goldberg

While I would not say I am a huge fan of Whoopi, I have seen many of the films she has been in. I got this mainly because it was a Barnes and Noble autographed copy and it was not particularly expensive. Plus I had not read anything from her. Though after reading this most of it can be summed up in a few sentences: be yourself and Whoopi just does not like long term relationships (she does like to keep friends though.) Ultimately taking her relationship advice is like taking comedy lessons from Dean Shek. It is a rather quick read with not that much material and afterwards you might just be happy you do not like with her. There are some funny moments, just not enough to justify the current price.

The Road to Serfdom (Fiftieth Anniversary Edition) (1944/1994) by F.A. Hayek, Introduction by Milton Friedman

One of the more influential economic libertarianism and individualism books and has influenced such authors from skeptic Michael Shermer, economist Milton Friedman who wrote the introduction for this book, Thomas Sowell, to John Stossel. It was written in Britain (during the end of World War II) though it reached a larger audience with a multitude of editions in America including a condensed Reader’s Digest version. One of the great books against collectivism and especially a planned economy. He also makes a convincing argument that many collectivist policies helped lead Germany to the Nazi party. It is important to note when reading this that several word definitions like liberal and socialist are different than used today. Liberal would mean what libertarianism (in the economic sense) means today and socialist is referring nationalization of production and central economic planning.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) by Arthur Conan Doyle

I have been really enjoying these series of Sherlock Holmes books. This is the fourth book that is a collection of short stories that were previously printed (just like the third book.) This is famous for a couple of reasons: the first mention of Sherlock Holmes brother Mycroft (did you know Kareem Abdul Jabbar just wrote a book with this character) and the cliffhanger ending of the book where Holmes appears to die. The second Guy Richie film has both of these elements (with some differences of course.) Doyle had been getting tired of the character and had previously thought of “killing him.” Doyle wanted to do other work and not be known for just Holmes (which maybe to his chagrin he is mostly known for this character; understandable like Robin Williams not wanting to get typecast for Mork or Boris Karloff not wanting to by typecast for horror, but eventually accepting his fame in that area.) It would be several years till he penned another Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and that would take place in the past (the prequel, the easiest way to get around a “dead”character.)

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904) by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is a collection of thirteen short stories and features the return of Sherlock after his “death” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894; technically the last short story). Holmes was a good boxer and fencer so was it any surprise that he eluded death because of a Japanese martial art of baritsu he had studied (it seems not so far off that Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes had learnt Wing Chun.) But a solid set of stories which will interest anyone in the continuing adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Supposedly at the end of this Watson is not supposed to write about any more tales of Holmes while he is now retired and bee keeping (I just cannot see Holmes doing this for long.) I have the complete collection of stories/books from a nice hard bound Barnes and Noble release, but strangely this book comes before The Hound of the Baskervilles (the most famous of the books/stories), which I am reading now.

Forgotten Films To Remember (1980) by John Springer

This book concentrates on what the author considers forgotten films from 1929 to 1959 and then a few pages on the 1960s and 1970s. Do not expect too much analysis, just lots of movie mentions and nice pictures (which these Citadel books are quite good for) in categories such as what he considers the best films of that year, the ones that are popular and still known (at the point of writing), a paragraph on each of the forgotten films he wants to concentrate on and then a final paragraph on naming a whole bunch of other “forgotten” films. What is interesting is what he considers forgotten at that time period is sometimes less forgotten today. I find it fascinating that you do see trends of waxing and waning in popularity of older films, directors and actors. For example he just has a sentence on The Palm Beach Story (1944) in his “other forgotten films” paragraph though today it is one of the more known Preston Sturges films. One of the great aspects of DVDs is that it made film so much more ubiquitous and it is easier to see so many of these films that even the author confessed to only seeing once (or only having heard about). This is an inexpensive, fun but not essential book.

John Ford Interviews (2001) Edited by Gerald Peary

For me this was a must purchase. Ford is known for being an obstinate, cranky, surly curmudgeon interviewee who often would bait, antagonize, not say anything, talk about something else, contradict himself from other viewers, pretend not to hear (though he did have legitimate hearing issues after WWII) and otherwise be an interviewers worst nightmare. But with an edited collection like this from a variety of time periods, you get to read so much of his opinions, when he decided to give it. Yes he contradicts himself (both praises and condemns The Informer and Victor McLaglen’s performance, though if you read between the lines you know he really does like it) but he gets a chance to show himself here. As he got older and past his filmmaking days he would become more unguarded and it shows here. If you are interested in the director than this is a must own purchase from one of the great directors of all-time (hyperbole I know, but just check out his filmography). From this same line of books I have interview collections from Buster Keaton, Zhang Yimou, Akira Kurosawa, George Lucas and probably some others.

Re: What books have you read?

Posted: 21 Mar 2016, 22:38
by Masterofoneinchpunch
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) by Arthur Conan Doyle

The most famous book of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle had “killed” off Sherlock in his last short story several years before, but the outcry from the public and the money that would be earned were good reasons for him to resurrect the character. Technically this is a prequel so in the Sherlock world he was still presumed dead until his resurrection in the first story of The Return of Sherlock Holmes. This Victorian tale has a nice gothic horror edge to it which I really liked and with that old cliché: if you were to read only one original Sherlock Holmes book this would be the one (though I would recommend reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as well.) This has been filmed a good amount and I definitely recommend the 1939 Basil Rathbone version and the Hammer Films 1959 version with Peter Cushing (oh such an underrated film.) But I have not seen all of them.

The Films of the Thirties (1982) by Jerry Vermilye

Another Citadel book which has plenty of pictures, it is still rather cheap to buy, and is fun to read if you like the topic. Vermilye, after an introduction by Judith Crist and his prologue where he mentions important and popular films not listed, he chooses and writes on 100 films, 10 from each year, from the 1930s. He is not putting together a “great” movie list, but one “Instead, an attempt has been made to represent a cross-section of Hollywood-produced motion pictures released in those largely escapist years.” He does this well enough. This gives me some ideas for future film watches. I think 1939 is the only year where I have seen all of the listed films. This is a fascinating decade for films where silent films would mostly disappear this decade, the corporations of Hollywood have taken over (and still owned the theaters), vaudeville actors were still quite present, Universal had a great set of horror films, three-strip Technicolor was introduced, world-war I films (The Great War) were still around, but soon patriotic films started to more prevalent in the late 1930s as the fear of another war would come, Columbia’s Three Stooges shorts were started and probably most important The Hays Code was in effect which limited what could be shown. I am missing so much, but it is a fascinating decade for Hollywood.

Valley of Fear (1915) by Arthur Conan Doyle

The last Sherlock Holmes novella is quite familiar in structure to his first A Study in Scarlet (1887). The first section deals with Holmes and his case and the second half is a story that takes place in the United States before the case though here it is a Freemason-like group instead of the Mormons of the first book. The second-half is done well-enough, I just have more interest in the tales of Sherlock and Watson then a third party inspired by the Molly Maguires and the main character inspired by real life James McParland. This book does has the best description of arch-enemy Moriarty in the Sherlock canon and this would also be considered a prequel to many of the stories since Moriarty is alive and killing. This book is a little lower in the canon for me, so I do not rate this highly as any book except it is better than A Study in Scarlet.