|One Busy Guy has Top Ten lists too! There's
even a least favorite section... get a butt load
of personal favorites below.
6.) The Matrix - Never has a work of science fiction posed such a quandary. It shines up the virtual reality of computer gaming with a fresh look at artificial intelligence and the on-going automation of our society. Add to that cutting edge special effects and imaginatively choreographed fight scenes and the 1st Matrix earns it's place in sci-fi royalty.
5.) The Day the Earth Stood Still - This qualifies as a period piece at this point given that it was released in 1951 not to mention being black and white. It's filled with jargon of the day and the witless, paranoia of D.C. residents about the presence of a flying saucer in the park. Gort and Klaatu present us with the only real solution to peace on earth... a greater, more powerful force that will obliterate us if we don't grow up.
4.) Star Trek - These days it's very trendy to stigmatize 'Trekkers' as nerds of the universe! Perhaps that's true for some (it's more likely that we are all a little nerdy). Star Trek has been a constant, multi-ethnic companion for decades. Not every episode is timeless and pristine but they have a great record for addressing social issues under the guise of fiction. To paraphrase Gene Roddenberry: "We went right over the sensors heads, but all the13 year olds got it."
3.) Lost in Translation - If you have traveled to some extent you will enjoy this film immensely. It stars Bill Murray in a very different, far less mockish role as a film star past his prime. He travels to Japan without the family to make a series of commercials for a brand of local scotch. It's funny and somewhat tender while addressing the distance that appears in the best of relationships as well as how we relate to foreign customs, terms and preferences.
2.) The Four Seasons - Another realistic portrayal from Alan Alda. This film features the Antonio Vivaldi soundtrack of the same name as it follows the relationships of three couples who have been friends for many years. Change comes after one is divorced and a new member is introduced. Featuring Carol Burnett among many other talents, we discover that most changes, however challenging, do indeed happen for the best.
1.) Under the Tuscan Sun - This is a gorgeous film featuring the lovely actress Diane Lane. It is a most uplifting film and a true artistic achievement. Whenever you feel lousy about how things are going in life you can always tune into these reassuring portrayals. Read our initial review here.
Top Ten Books -
3.) Don't Stop the Carnival - Published in 1965, this is a novel from Herman Wouk. Beleaguered, disenchanted New York drama critic Norman Paperman decides to leave it all behind and buys a tourist resort on a fictional Caribbean island. One misadventure after another ensues as he goes about the business of operating a hotel within the island's supply lines and work ethic. Oh yeah, Mr. Wouk and Jimmy Buffett collaborated on the stage play.
2.) Angels and Demons - From the author of the Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown). This is a very contemporary adventure embracing (of all things) anti-matter, Catholic tradition, terrorism and the dedication of reluctant heroes. We travel to Italy tracking statues from Bernini to stop cruel murders before they occur. It's a thrilling read and so timely.
1.) The Covenant - From James Michener an historical epoch. The ground swells and the plates shift and Africa appears. We follow the Dutch East India Company in their settlement of the land and misguided leadership. We come to a greater understanding of the Mau Mau, Diamond mines, Apartheid and even Cecil Rhodes (Rhodes Scholars).
3.) Organic Vegetables - You might not think that veggies differ much from one another. I can tell you now that organically grown vegetables are uniformly sweeter and more tender. They are often small (no fertilizer). They are often blemished (no pesticides). They are generally more expensive because they lack commercial mass production standards. None the less I highly recommend them especially if you like things raw!
2.) Sushi - From the first encounter I was hooked! Most Americans possess a relatively dire attitude about even trying sushi. Humans ate raw meat long before cooking/fire came along! What could be worse than raw fish! I'm here to tell you that it's nothing like what you might imagine. The flavor is rather benign and a bit like smoked salmon without the smoke! It's a little pricey nowadays and extremely healthy (don't use too much soy sauce).
1.) Boca Burgers - Something you can eat every day. Inexpensive, low cholesterol, tasty and most likely not available in all areas!
7.) Lee Child - Create a buff, 6' 5" hero who happens to be ex-military police, add an itinerant disposition and you have the very present Jack Reacher. Appearing in no less than 17 novels he fights discrimination, social abuse, and corruption without ever doing laundry (he buys everything new or second hand).
6.) John Case - This little known nom de plume has had a great impact. A very exciting read. Tight, action filled and not altogether uplifting books about genes and radical terrorism.
5.) John Grisham - Some friends (attorneys) say that Grisham is a much better writer than lawyer! Perhaps. However, he has an engaging, energetic style of writing that delivers a lot of information in a short time. He's also wonderfully prolific. Again, not every book makes a great movie.
4.) Michael Crichton - Some might say that his books lack resolution... that may be true. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a truly accomplished scientific personality. His books portray the future of present day research. He has provided us with Jurassic Park, Congo, Timeline, Prey, the Andromeda Strain and more. Some books do not always translate well into movies even with the best screen writers.
3.) Jean Auel - This thorough lady has given to us the 'Clan of the Cave Bear' or 'Earth's Children' series. The books are packed with insight and the workings of primitive sociology. We follow our heroine 'Ayla' (Cro-Magnon) as she journeys away from her adoptive family (Neanderthal) in search of the blonde blue eyed people of her birth. The series is complete with herb lore and the intricate survival skills employed by early man.
2.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - It's easy these days to do research on the net or spice up a book with fantastic scenarios. We forget that options and access were very much different in the 19th century (1880's to be more precise). Still the Sherlock Holmes books that started as serial reads in the Strand Magazine involved such detailed minutiae that history will forever address the title character and the author with timeless regard.
1.) James Michener - Perhaps the most prolific author of our time. Thorough, inventive and engaging. Each book begins at the 'very beginning' and presents historic events as seen through the eyes of fictional characters. Recommended reads include Hawaii, Chesapeake, Caribbean and of course the Covenant.
5.) Michael Johnson - If ever you wish to hear the guitar performed as an entire orchestra this guys for you! In his hands the guitar is no mere instrument. He generates a cascading symphony of colliding lyrics and accompaniment to leave you deeply touched and longing for more. But hurry, he's not getting any younger!
4.) Kenny Rankin - No longer sporting the high visibility of years past, Mr. Rankin still delivers the quality vocals and timeless interpretations of his reputation. In a day where popular music means track acts that break into synchronized dance we forget the meaning and necessity of one individual and one perfect moment.
3.) John Denver - 'Far Out!'. In later years he became emblematic of the corny folkster. In truth he embodied every man's desire to conserve the wild as it is and to nurture that portion of our collective souls. To paraphrase Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane/Starship): "He's a nerd but he writes great songs."
2.) Al Jarreau - We are addressing perhaps the pre-eminent song stylist of my day. Take nothing from Sinatra, the sentiment and vocal gifts of Al Jarreau are beyond lyrical. They are the new standard. That doesn't always mean we can sing along! Oh yeah, the music happens to be performed by the finest jazz musicians of our time.
1.) JS Bach - Nothing more can be said about this most prolific master that has not already been stated! He was a coffee addict and fostered 17 children while still a teacher (I guess he didn't sleep much)! I personally recommend the Brandenburg concertos.
5.) Forms. It's likely you've already noticed what it's like to wait on line at the bank or the Post Office. A lady with four packages stands on line for 20 minutes and doesn't start the paper work until getting to the counter. Same at the bank. Let's wait until we get to the teller to make out the proper forms. I can top that. A man checking out in the supermarket stands at the cashier tearing coupons from differing papers while everyone behind watches. Even the toll booth is no exception. A line of eight vehicles waits to pay the toll. People start rummaging for money when they get to the booth.
4.) Cross Over Cinema - Any movie anywhere, anytime that features some performer of music making a leap into film. The god awful, Spice Girls, the horrible Usher movie. What about 'Glitter' with Mariah Carey and 'Crossroads' with Brittany Spears. Even Christina Aquilera starring as Lady Marmalade in 'Moulin Rouge'. This also includes any song anywhere that features endless 'la la's' as lyrical content.
3.) The Media - In case you haven't noticed, the news is never good. If the weather is pleasant, you'll hear when it will end. If the weather is bad they tell you how bad it can get. They rarely do a thorough follow-up to an important story and seldom state things on their own behalf. It's more like... "According to (another source)..." Produce or perish, broadcasts and publications must be completed even on slow news days.
2.) Christmas Carols - Perhaps it's hard to imagine why anyone would put Christmas Carols on their list of worst things? In truth there are only about 30 carols. We are subjected to the same tunes in differing arrangements and from different artists for 90 days annually. Over and over and over again in differing pitches and registers until it's nothing short of psychological terrorism!
1.) Money - The money rules are weird and mostly ambiguous. If a supply is large, the price goes down. If the supply is low then the price goes up. If you can buy in quantity you get a discount (doesn't this increase demand?). If you can only buy small amounts you must pay more per item. If you can't pay a bill on time then you must pay an additional fee. If your check is dishonored for insufficient funds then you must pay even more. And the best way to get a loan is to prove that you don't need it!