March 31, 2010

NetFlix Queue 2010Q1

NetFlix 5-star rating
  1. Wee Bit O' Revolution ***
  2. The End *
  3. The Black Dahlia **
  4. Who Am I This Time? ****
  5. Best in Show ***
  6. Treasure of the Sierra Madre ***
  7. I'll Be There *
  8. The Producers ***
  9. Walk, Don't Run **
  10. The Caine Mutiny ***
  11. The Limits of Control *
  12. As It Is In Heaven ***
  13. The Jane Austen Book Club ****
  14. Cold Comfort Farms ***
  15. Overnight ***
  16. The Closet *****
  17. Johnny Dangerously **
  18. Eddie Izzard: Glorious ***
  19. District 9 ***
  20. One True Thing ***
  21. Flawless **
  22. Adventureland **
  23. The Taking of Pelham 123 ****
  24. Nine Lives **
  25. Captain Ron ***
  26. Lady Windermere's Fan **
  27. Grey Gardens: The Movie ***
  28. The Dark Knight ***
  29. Sin Nombre **
  30. The International **

March 25, 2010

Thank You For Smoking ***

*** Thank You For Smoking, Christopher Buckley, 1994

Second in my Buckley roll as I try to assess how close his stuff is to the direction of my new projects. The answer is, "pretty darn close." There are some good lines in this one, but the ending gets a little convoluted, unlike the movie, which changed things up drastically from the book and kept it simple, as Hollywood is wont to do.

There's more Buckley in the queue, so stay tuned. I haven't found a copy of Little Green Men, yet, which my sources say is very good.

March 18, 2010

Songwriters on Songwriting ***

*** Songwriters on Songwriting, Paul Zollo, 2003

At 700+ pages with interviews with 60+ songwriters, this book approaches the rat-killing category. I've been gnawing on it for six months and finally got free of it. It covers interviews from 1987 to 2000. There are some amazing interviews in this book, the Leonard Cohen interview being one of my favorites.

Subjects include icons in the field (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, John Hiatt), quirky songwriters (Tom Lehrer, Frank Zappa), old school guys (Pete Seeger, Willie Dixon, Burt Bacharach, Hal David), folks you don't think of as songwriters (Madonna, Yoko Ono) and folks you've never heard of (Meshell NdegeOcello). Also there are folks you would expect to be in there who aren't (James Taylor, Marc Cohn, Cat Stevens, Bonnie Raitt).

I'd say 4 stars for songwriters and 3 stars for the general populace.

While reading this book, I was trying to think of a great songwriter under 30 who is a significant force in the market. Who would be the James Taylor, etc. for this generation? The closest I could come to was John Mayer, but he's over 30, now. Any ideas?

March 11, 2010

Florence of Arabia ***

*** Florence of Arabia, Christopher Buckley, 2004

I've eyeballed Christopher Buckley books for a couple of decades, but never picked one up. I did see Thank You For Smoking, the movie that is, and enjoyed it. And I'm a huge fan of his father's Blackford Oakes novels. Read them all, got them all in hardback on the shelf.

I got to see Buckley speak at the Texas Book Festival last year. Very funny, very articulate. Should have grabbed a book then, but didn't. I'm recalcitrant that way.

A comment from a first reader of my new project got me off the bubble to finally plumb the depths. I picked up a handful of his novels and cracked this one first because it was the shortest.

She was right. If this sampling is any indicator of the larger work, this is pretty much the style I'm going for with my new project. If I can do it even half as well, I'll be pleased.

Very entertaining reading. Recommended.

March 8, 2010

Quotes From Stuff I Like - Moore

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore

In honor of Columbus Day, a quote from a Christopher. Not much I liked from this book, but this one sentence spoke to me. I'd be proud to have this sentence in any novel I wrote.

p. 39. He put his big paw on my shoulder and rubbed, leaving a dusty circle of affection on my shirt.

March 4, 2010

Good Night, Mr. Holmes ***

*** Good Night, Mr. Holmes, Carole Nelson Douglas, 1990

It's been a while since I've read an extra-canonical Holmes novel I liked this much. While this is not really a Holmes story, since it's the story of Irene Adler, it does involve Holmes in very important, if occasional, ways. In addition, the style fits very well with the canon.

Douglas's writing is excellent. There were one or two words in the 400+ pages that I would have changed if it were me, but that's just plain being picky at this point.

The story is engaging and well paced, characters are brilliant, well, there's just not much more to say. It's great.

Highly recommended (4 stars) for Holmes fans, recommended for everyone else.

I have a couple more in the series on the shelf. Can't wait to read them.