Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Different 100 Books List

People are always making those lists of books one should read to be literate. I'd like to make it clear I've read all of these books.
How literate are you? See how many these of these works you’ve read. If you have read it, put the title in bold (or put an ‘S’ after the title for ‘Smart’), if you started it and didn’t finish put the title in italics (or put an ‘GI’ after the title for ‘Good Intentions’) and leave it alone (or put an ‘I’ after the title for ‘Lame’.)

1) “The Haunted Hall” – Partridge Family Novel Tie-in #2 (Author Unknown)
2) “Star Trek Memories” – William Shatner
3) “Star Trek Movie Memories” – William Shatner
4) “The World of Star Trek” – David Gerold
5) “Star Trek 1” – James Blish
6) “How to Care for Your Monster” – Norman Bridwell
7) “Where’s Spot” – Eric Hill
8) “Good Dog, Carl” – Alexandra Day
9) “Carl’s Afternoon in the Park” – Alexandra Day
10) “Carl Goes Shopping” – Alexandra Day
11) “Carl’s Christmas” – Alexandra Day
12) “I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This” – Bob Newhart
13) “There’s a Monster at the End of this Book” – Jon Stone
14) “I Can’t Wait Until Christmas” – Linda Lee Maifar
15) “Spy vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook” – Antonio Prohias
16) “Attack of the Deranged Killer Mutant Monster Snow Goon” – Bill Waterson
17) “The Revenge of the Baby Sat” – Bill Waterson
18) “Goodnight Moon” – Margaret Wise Brown
19) “It’s a Magical World” – Bill Waterson
20) “Scientific Progress Goes Boink” – Bill Waterson
21) “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” – Charles Shultz
22) “Peanuts Cook Book” – Charles Shultz
23) “Miss Suzy” – Miriam Young
24) “Frank and Ernest” – Alexandra Day
25) “There’s a Stewardess Flying This Plane: Films of the 1970’s” – Ron Hogan
26) “Little Bear” – Maurice Sendak
27) “A Kiss for Little Bear” – Maurice Sendak
28) “Chicken Soup with Rice” – Maurice Sendak
29) “The Great Brain” – John Fitzgerald
30) “More Adventures of the Great Brain” – John Fitzgerald
31) “Me and My Little Brain” – John Fitzgerald
32) “The Great Brain at the Academy” – John Fitzgerald
33) “The Great Brain Reforms” – John Fitzgerald
34) “Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective” – Donald Sobol
35) “Film Flubs: The Sequel” – Bill Givens
36) “Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day” – Donald Sobol
37) “Full Metal Trench Coat” – Dean Anderson
38) “Guarding the Tablets of Stone” – Dean Anderson
39) “Attack of the Mutant Fruit” – Dean Anderson
40) “The Bogus Mind Machine” – Dean Anderson
41) “If Chins Could Kill” – Bruce Campbell
42) “Just One More Thing” – Peter Falk
43) “So Far…” – Kelsey Grammer
44) “Camp Foxtrot” – Bill Amend
45) “101 Places Not to See Before You Die” – Catherine Price
46) “Foxtrot: En Masse” – Bill Amend
47) “At Least This Place Sells T-Shirts” – Bill Amend
48) “His Code Name is Fox” – Bill Amend
49) “The Return of the Lone Iguana” – Bill Amend
50) “Black Bart Says Draw” – Bill Amend
51) “He Saw, She Saw” – Dean Anderson
52) “Barnaby Goes Wild” – Gary Richmond
53) “Hop on Pop” – Dr. Seuss
54) “Oh the Thinks You Can Think!” – Dr. Seuss
55) “The Golden Turkey Awards” – Michael Medved
56) “The Butter Battle Book” – Dr. Seuss
57) “The Foot Book” – Dr. Seuss
58) “Happy Birthday to You” – Dr. Seuss
59) “Fox in Socks” – Dr. Seuss
60) “The Making of Star Trek” – Stephen Whitfield
61) “Everything and a Kite” – Ray Romano
62) “The Movie Brats” – Michael Pye
63) “The Best of 50’s TV” – Michael McCall
64) “A Year at the Movies” – Kevin Murphy
65) “The Great Movies” – William Bayer
66) “The Sneetches” – Dr. Seuss
67) “Yertle the Turtle” – Dr. Seuss
68) “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew” – Dr. Seuss
67) “Buffy the Vampire: Pop Quiz” – Cynthia Boris
68) “Sunnydale High Yearbook” – Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder
69) “The Disney Films” – Leonard Maltin
70) “Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint” – Jay Williams
71) “Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine” – Jay Williams
72) “Danny Dunn and the Heat Ray”- Jay Williams
73) “Cake Wrecks” – Jen Yates
74) “The Adventures of Homer Fink” – Sidney Offit
75) “Matthew Looney’s Voyage to Earth” – Jerome Beatty Jr.
76) “Martin Luther Had a Wife” – William Petersen
77) “The Far Side Gallery” – Gary Larsen
78) “The Far Side Gallery 2” – Gary Larsen
79) “Babies and Other Hazards of Sex” – Dave Barry
80) “The Far Side Gallery 4” – Gary Larsen
81) “The Far Side Gallery 5” – Gary Larsen
82) “The Prehistory of the Far Side” – Gary Larsen
83) “Don Martin Steps Out” – Don Martin
84) “Don Martin Drops Out” – Don Martin
85) “Don Martin Bounces Back” – Don Martin
86) “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” – Al Jaffe
87) “Cruel Shoes” – Steve Martin
88) “Horror in the Cinema” – Ivan Butler
89) “The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body” – Joanna Cole
90) “The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor” – Joanna Cole
91) “The Magic School Bus in the Time of Dinosaurs” – Joanna Cole
92) “Jay Leno’s Headlines: Book 1” – Jay Leno
93) “Late Night with David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists” - Dave Letterman
94) “Where’s Waldo?” – Martin Handford
95) “One Hundred and One Elephant Jokes” – Robert Blake
96) “101 Uses for a Dead Cat” – Simon Bond
97) “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” – Laura Numeroff
98) “Growing Up Brady” – Barry Williams
99) “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” – Bruce Feirstein
100) The Title of “Finnegans Wake” - James Joyce

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Win, Win

I wrestled in Junior High and High School. To say that wrestling did not receive the same kind of attention as football or basketball would be an understatement. We didn’t get as many fans as track or girl’s volleyball. Maybe even the Dungeons and Dragons Club.

During my Piner High years, the drill team was forced to attend. On more than one occasion I heard the reaction of certain girls on the team to the sweaty, six minutes of grabbling on the mat as “yuck” rather than “yeah”.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the film, “Win, Win”, which is partially about high school wrestling has not done boffo box office. But it is a good film and only partially about wresting.

Mainly it is the story of a struggling lawyer, Mike Flarety, (Paul Giamatti of the excellent “John Adams” mini-series) who takes on the guardianship of an old man, Leo, (Burt Young from the Rocky films) primarily for the money. Instead of giving personal care to Leo, Mike puts the man into a nursing home.

The lawyer’s wife, Jackie, (Amy Ryan of “The Wire” and “The Office”) becomes aware the guardianship only when the old man’s grandson, Kyle, (Alex Shaffer from nothing else, but he does a great job) shows up on the porch of the old man’s house. Mike and Jackie decide to take Kyle into their home.

Mike has an another job as the high school wrestling coach of a very bad team. He discovers that Kyle is a very good wrestler. So good that he might turn the team’s fortunes around.

When Leo’s daughter (Kyle’s mother) shows up unexpectedly, complications ensue.

Throughout the film, questions of motivation keep cropping up.

Does Mike agree to look after Leo only for the money, or does he care about the crazy old guy?

Does Mike care about Kyle just because he’s a needy, likable kid, or because he’s a great wrestler?

Is Leo’s daughter looking to get her family back together, or is she just there for her father’s money?

If we are honest with ourselves, most of our choices in life are made with a variety of motives, from altruistic to selfish. The apostle Paul often wrote about our mixed motives in ministry.

In Philippians chapter 1, Paul wrote: “15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill…18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

Here Paul seems to be saying, I don’t care about the motives, as long as the Gospel is preached, good is done.

And yet the same guy writes in the famous Love Chapter, I Corinthians 13, “2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

So which is it Paul, do motives matter, or not?

In “Win, Win”, we see the consequences of bad choices made from good motives, and some good choices made with bad motives. And fortunately, how love and forgiveness can redeem both.

This film, written and directed by Thomas McCarthy (“The Visitor” and “The Station Agent”) is rated R for language (including swearing by minors, something that personally annoys me greatly in films, it hasn't been funny since "The Bad News Bears") and brief, unappealing nudity (a mooning). (But it also portrays a strong marriage and church as a normal part of life. Both rare and worthy sites in contemporary films.)