Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP everyone

Michael Jackson died today. Say what you want his eccentricities (perhaps best said by Roger Ebert here), Michael was a great performer. He was called the King of Pop for a reason - he was the greatest pop singer of a musical era. What frustrates me is that it sounds that this time Michael was gearing up for a real comeback, complete with FIFTY performances in the London area. It would have been great to see what the King of Pop still had at age fifty.

Farrah Fawcett died today. Known forever as "the angel" in Charlie's Angels she inspired beautiful blonde bombshells the world over to try their luck in Hollywood. Its too bad that her storybook romance with Ryan O'Neil will not get the end they intended (O'Neil had said they were finally going to marry).

The big three

I've been thinking a lot about the NBA what with all the blogging about the upcoming NBA Draft and now this Shaq trade. To touch on the latter first the trade will be great for the NBA what with all of the Shaq v Dwight Howard and Shaq v Kobe talk not to mention the Shaq v Stan Van Gundy and the Shaq v Phil talk.

But what really interests me is Free Agent Summer of 2010 - the one that everyone else is talking about. Everyone keeps jabbering about how teams need to approach the Free Agent Summer of 2010 - acquiring shitty players with expiring contracts to free up cap space for the bidding bonanza that will ensue to capture the likes of LeBron James. But how should PLAYERS approach the Free Agent Summer of 2010?

So the top free agents of 2010 - just to keep things simple we'll talk about the really big guys - LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Wade has a ring but hasn't tapped the potential bling he could be reaping, and everyone knows King James is ring-less. So considering the millions upon millions these kids have already made, don't you think they'd want a championship a little bit more than the 5-10 million more a year they are going to hold out for? What if these "Big Three" could agree to play for ten million a year each - for the same team? They would clearly make the difference back in the ridiculous endorsement deals they would yield together. Not to mention the shear ridiculousness of forcing teams to play against an All-Star team every night. With the rest of the 30 million or so the team could field some good supporting players - maybe even another star like, I'll just throw Yao Ming out there...the possibilities - financial and athletic would be amazing.

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Music Quick Hits 1

Here are some quick thoughts on some of the new albums I listened to yesterday.

Dan Deacon's Spiderman of the Rings - this was a massive disappointment because I expected something akin to Girl Talk's Feed the Animals. What I got instead was some boring electonica-ish mash-ups that did not hold my attention.

Hello Saferide's More Modern Short Stories from Hello Saferide - I had been obsessed with this album's "Anna" for several weeks and I liked some of the other songs so I quickly began to lust after this album. Its good but not great, I like some of the other songs like "Overall."

The Kills' Midnight Boom - I got this because I was reading up on Jack White's new band, The Dead Weather which features The Kills' Allison Mossheart. Reading up on The Kills I read that they were "The British White Stripes." While this album was "ok" it was short and left a lot to be desired - far short of The White Stripes' major label release White Blood Cells.

Eminem's Relapse - It feels good to listen to Eminem. The last time I REALLY listened to Eminem was when The Eminem Show came out. While I'm not sure Relapse will be as good as The Eminem Show, it has Em's fire and spirit that makes it fun to listen to. But it's a hell of a comeback for sure - and the addictive chorus of "We Made You" will always be somewhat entertaining.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Greatest

No, this article is not about the Cat Power album "The Greatest", although I did listen to that yesterday (and was disappointed at how boring it seemed from when I liked it a year or so ago). Rather, this article is about two of the greatest people to be involved in the NBA. I'll talk about the obvious one first, Phil Jackson.

Jackson just won his tenth championship, passing Celtic legend Red Auerbach's nine. I grew up watching Jackson lead the Bulls to championships and his move to the Lakers made me partially a Lakers fan. To me, he was the most dominant coach of my generation, someone who had no equal - who else had won more championships (in this generation)? I read an article where Red Auerbach's repeated mantra was that Phil Jackson never had to "coach" talent, he just had to coach stars. Before delving into the debate over coaching/teaching vs managing stars I think its important to point out how flawed that statement is.

Yes Phil inherited Michael Jordan, the best player to play the game, but the players around them were almost entirely drafted by that franchise and coached by Phil Jackson. Jackson was an assistant for two years with the Bulls working and teaching players that would win rings for him. In 1987 the Bulls drafted Horace Grant and traded for the other rookie, Scottie Pippen. In 1988 the Bulls drafted Will Perdue and in 1989 the Bulls drafted BJ Armstrong. All of these players were the major factors in the first three championships. And the second three were on the backs of Pippen and Jordan along with Ron Harper and Tony Kukoc (two other players drafted by the Bulls). Rather than inheriting those first six championships, it seems like Phil had to scrape them out amid the Bad Boy Pistons, Larry Bird Lakers, Pat Ewing Knicks, Pat Riley Heat and other powerful Eastern Conference competitors not to mention beating Magic's Lakers, Clyde's Blazers, Barkley's Suns, the Payton/Kemp Sonics and the Malone/Stockton Jazz.

Yes Phil inherited Kobe Bryant, probably the best player to follow MJ, as well as Shaquille O'Neal in his prime when he was dominant, but he acquired a team that hadn't changed much in two years that hadn't had serious playoff success without Phil. The major change to their roster was Ron Harper who was probably influenced by the Lakers' decision to hire his former coach. Then he had to defeat Reggie's Pacers, AI's Sixers and Kidd's Nets. Sure at the end (for one season) Phil got Malone and Payton to join the fold but 1) he was probably one of the reasons they came and 2) they didn't even win that year so his "star power" shouldn't take away from his championship credentials. I'm too lazy to go into the players Phil developed with the Lakers (Odom and Bynum and the entire Lakers' bench).

Now. Let's be real. How many coaches could convince MJ to come back after the way he left (the shock over the death of his father)? How many coaches could control Kobe's ego for three seasons? How many coaches could reconcile their relationship with Kobe after calling him "uncoachable"? Just one, just Phil Jackson. That's all I'm going to say on why coaching stars is no easy feat.

When it comes down to it, look at the math - Phil Jackson has the most rings (with the two he has as a player, he has TWELVE total).

The second person I want to talk about is Michael Jordan. I'm afraid that in this shuffle of Kobe vs LeBron and the never ending SportsCenter love-fest of LeBron highlights that people are starting to lose sight of the greatest player to play the game. That even in this era players pale in comparison is remarkable. Let me throw some numbers at you. 6 NBA Championships, 6 NBA Finals MVP Awards (one for every time he played), 5 NBA MVP Awards, 14 NBA All-Star Nominations, 3 NBA All-Star MVP Awards, 2 NBA Slam-Dunk Championships, 10 NBA First Team Nominations, 9 NBA All-Defensive Team Nominations, and of course, Rookie of the Year (1985). Oh yeah and he has an NCAA Championship too.

How do you judge the best? So many talk about legacies being tied to championships - how Kobe needed Shaq and all that BS. Fine, lets look at the championships. If you look at all the championships and the MVP's as a telling factor for who dominated those series, no one else comes close. MJ has one for EVERY Time he played in the game. Shaq, Duncan and Magic have 3 MVP awards and 4 championships. Their math is close but not clear. Shaq was a body, Duncan an athlete and Magic a phenom but MJ was the greatest. He didn't have the physical advantages of Shaq and Duncan in terms of being imposing physical forces. Nor did he have the shear opportunities Magic had (7 finals appearances, 2 loses, 2 times losing the MVP award). I didn't want to get into this but Magic played with two of the players whose names are up there in discussions for the top ten players of all time. While Scottie Pippen was great and vastly underrated, he was no Kareem. MJ also was far and away the leading scorer in the playoffs of anyone.

The reason I wanted to write this article - beyond proving Phil's teaching prowess was what I believed to be the greatest sports tragedy of our generation. Personally I will forget the steroids blip but I will never forget the championships and the games we lost that MJ could have given us. Three issues to consider, 1) the "retirement" where he played baseball for two seasons, 2) the lockout/Krause force-out, and 3) the Wizard years.

The retirement robbed the Bulls - and MJ of two more championships. MJ was nearing his peak and any losses in free agency" would have been easily absorbed by MJ. Despite returning at half-speed, MJ almost led the Bulls over the Magic in 1995 but the Bulls were too rusty and didn't gell yet. The lockout forced MJ to make a decision he might not of made - retirement. Sure in his book he says that he considered it way back in 1992. But come on, if you're going to come back and play for a team like the Washington Wizards you don't want to retire - you clearly love the game too much. So lets talk about the Wizards. As an aside, what were you thinking MJ? You could have probably played for anyone and you picked a terrible team with little shot of contention for what, to "help" the team you had been GM of? Weak. But at the age of forty MJ was averaging 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1+ steals, and 20+ points. AVERAGING - he still dropped 40 a game from time to time. This is a forty year old man! If he could do that in 2003, just think what he would have been if played from 1985-2003? Or even just until 2000?

Did I mention his Olympic gold medals?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Referees please!

I usually write off the refs as being pretty good or when they are bad as not being very bad - to the effect that I never thought refs would ALTER the course of a game/series. However, this year that opinion has changed drastically.

In the Bulls-Celtics series I was disgusted by all of what Rajon Rondo got away with. He went from an aggressive, physical player in the first game or two to being a violent player. Rondo split open Kirk Hinrich's eyebrow, knocked out some of Brad Miller's teeth and picked up where he left off with Hinrich by throwing him into the scorer's table. His foul on Miller came at a critical point of the game where Miller had to make free throws for the Bulls to stay in the game. Knocking Miller to the floor on a fast break that also knocked out his teeth did not even draw a flagrant foul (although replays showed Rondo hardly attempting to swat the ball). Furthermore Rondo's Hinrich/scorer's table incident further puzzled me. Replays showed Rondo blatantly dragging Hinrich backwards and then throwing him into the scorer's table - an incident that two years earlier resulted in a TWO GAME suspension for Robert Horry. Remember that this foul came after refs were supposedly going to watch Rondo with a closer eye after he bloodied two Bulls' starters. Why the different treatment? Why is the NBA inconsistent? Why are there different repercussions for different players? I'm not sure there is an answer. But Rondo should have a) fouled out of a game b) been suspended. So this series frustrated me by MISSING CALLS.

In the Lakers-Rockers series as well as the Lakers-Nuggets series the refs are nothing short of trigger happy - calling anything and everything a foul and being generous in heaping on technical fouls. Again, why the inconsistency? In particular it seems that in the Lakers-Nuggets series the refs have returned to being generous in what they allow as "defense" by the Nuggets (do not get me wrong, they play great defense but enough is enough) while being very harsh on the Lakers' stars when the Lakers try to play defense. It seems like if a Laker touches Chauncy Billups the ref is there to call a foul but if Kobe has a defender smacking him on the head and tripping him, he has to look up from the court as Denver moves the ball back down the court. And then Kobe asks a little to aggressively about the previous call and gets a technical. Hmmm. So this series frustrated me by MAKING CALLS.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Historical "fiction"

I love reading historical fiction. Lately I've been obsessed with Sharan Newman's Catherine LeVendeur series and C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series. I love the books a hell of a lot - they're drastically different beyond both being historical mysteries but I strongly recommend both series. Anyways, I love reading historical fiction because I love history and also because, if I had the discipline and focus to write a book, I'd want to write historical fiction. In both of these series the main fictional characters interact heavily with real historical figures. This led me to the issue of, how important is it to rely heavily on historical characters? Or for that matter, historical accuracy? Like, it's one thing to build your book around popular (of that historical period) controversies swirling around a major historical figure, but how strictly do you stick to the facts? Will your readers be happy if you invent a character to be Abelard's protege or Cromwell's steward? I kept turning this question over when I was thinking about how to build a story around characters - are you hindered by history? Or can you embrace the time but not all the minute details (does it matter if Cromwell's steward is not the same character you create in your book?) I guess I don't really have an answer but I feel like I would lean heavily for "creative application of history" as I call it - being faithful to the times yet not constrained by fact. Cromwell's steward could be whomever you want as long as the steward is not a pregnant African lesbian who believes in Kaballah. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, there just weren't many of either of them in England five hundred or so years ago.

F**K Madoff

So I was reading up on Elie Wiesel today because I was trying to remember which book he wrote that deals with the pre-Israel Zionist terrorist group that executes a British soldier (it was Dawn). Elie Wiesel is famous for Night, his autobiography about the Holocaust, of which he was an Auschwitz survivor. Wiesel is pretty much "the guy" when it comes to Holocaust awareness and he has done so much. He even has one of the most successful charity organizations for running Holocaust education events.

But you know what's coming based on the article title...the organization lost all of it's money in the Madoff scandal. Oh and Elie Wiesel lost all of his personal wealth too. Wow. Kind of ridiculous.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random funness

Back in the day when writing my column, The Buzz, was my favorite thing to do for my old e-zine, SaltyStix, I stockpiled a lot of interesting articles about movies for my "around the internet" section, or whatever I called it. I might even have written about a few of these, but that was so long ago, so, cleaning out the bookmarks.

* 25 Most Influential Directors of all Time - This was interesting albeit pretty predictable. But it's great if your Netflix queue is empty and you've forgotten about the classics for awhile.

* Best and Worst Musicians in Movies - This is kind of amusing in a pretty way but once again, is pretty predictable.

* New York Times Romantic Comedy Analysis - Surprising that the New York Times found page space to talk about rom-coms but this was going to be the locus for an article about rom-coms, breaking down their formulaic structure, etc.

* Top 20 Rom-Coms - This is another page I found doing some research for that article - the other links turned out to suck.

* 25 Most Watched Movies - This list is pretty close to mine which is why I liked it so much. Obviously it's heavy on recent movies.

* Worst Movie Remakes of All Time - This is worth some good laughs and might also help you fill your Netflix queue if you want to compare some of the originals vs their remakes.

* Criticizing the AFI - I've never been a fan of the AFI (I think Citizen Kane is overrated) and anytime someone has a laugh at their expense I laugh with them.

* Linsey Lohan's Marilyn Phase- Before Lindsay was into Samantha she was into Marilyn and these pictures aren't half bad.

* Comics Old School/New School - This came out amid the summer comic onslaught and provides a great fanboys perspective that gets lost amid the Hollywood.

* 20 Tips for Starting Your Own Movie Blog - Maybe if I would have followed this SaltyStix would be alive and kicking, but instead, here I am.

* Forbes Writes about the best Movie Blogs - This is pretty unfulfilling but there are brief snippets on Forbes' take on other themed blogs (beyond just movies).

* Become Indy! - I was Indiana Jones for last Halloween, and a damn good one. But if you want to take your costume to the next level, this site is a must.

* Best Graphic Novels of all Time - There are some interesting choices on here - especially ones that stray to the non-superhero variety. I still want to get my hands on Ghost World.

* Read Twilight for Free - This craze left people without books or with empty pocketbooks. This website provided a solution to both.

* Top 20 Rappers of All Time - I started listening to a lot of rap and this page provided a brief overview that helped me get my bearings.

* 25 Movies about Foreign Affairs/Diplomacy - This is a fun article if you think you are educated on foreign affairs and diplomacy and also like movies (like me of course).

Monday, May 11, 2009

MTV Madness

I have never been a fan of MTV or award shows really, so it should be no surprise that the combination of the two – MTV award shows would not be something I was a fan of. For some reason in particular, this year’s MTV Movie Award nominees have particularly angered me. One thing that stands out is Twilight’s SEVEN awards, sure the movie made a shitload of money and has a fanatic teen following, but the movie was a disappointment across the board – acting, writing, action and here it sits, but lets look at all the categories.

Best Movie
The Dark Knight
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire

Three of these movies are really good, one is a disappointment, but one is a travesty. You realize they put The Dark Knight and High School Musical 3 in the same category, as near equals? I’m not going to say anymore. MY PICK: Slumdog Millionaire. WHO WILL WIN: The Dark Knight.

Best Male Performance
Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious)
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Zac Efron (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)
Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)

Bale and Downey were amazing (of course) but the rest of these hacks are definitely outclassed. Vin Diesel is struggling to get back into character, Efron is struggling to get out of character, and Shia LaBeouf doesn’t even have a character. As a point of clarification I meant that Eagle Eye sucked – A LOT. MY PICK: Robert Downey Jr. WHO WILL WIN: Christian Bale.

Best Female Performance
Anne Hathaway (Bride Wars)
Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Angelina Jolie (Wanted)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)

The selection of these nominees is even more confusing than their male counterparts. Hathaway’s nod here is more of a slap in the face considering her performance in Rachel Getting Married while Henson’s performance was okay but seems well short of the “Best Performance” level. Jolie’s nomination reminds me of LaBeouf’s nom in Eagle Eye – both Wanted and Eagle Eye sucked – and did not have any performances that were even “adequate.” Winselt’s performance doesn’t need much comment here – she was great. Kristen Stewart was the one bright spot in a disappointing movie – but was it the best performance of the year? Was she better than Winslet? MY PICK: Kate Winslet. WHO WILL WIN: Kristen Stewart.

Breakthrough Performance – Male
Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
Taylor Lautner (Twilight)
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)
Robert Pattinson (Twilight)
Bobb’e J. Thompson (Role Models)

This category is “better” only in the sense that there are two noms I like – Dev Patel, who did a great job and truly “broke out,” and Bobb’e J. Thompson, whose role in Role Models was not only hysterical but also probably opened a lot of doors for him. Two noms for Twilight is a little disappointing – I had to look up who Taylor Lautner’s character was (Jacob) and then scratch my head about his screen time. MY PICK: Dev Patel. WHO WILL WIN: Robert Pattinson.

Breakthrough Performance – Female
Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana: The Movie)
Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playllist)
Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)
Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire)
Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!)
Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

I think this category has the most competition. The High School Musical 3 noms confuse me because it would seem like the third time around these Disney-made actors do not have much “breaking out to do.” If you’re in the public consciousness enough to have sex tapes and racy photos, you probably don’t need “breakout performances.” Same goes for Miley Cyrus considering she has a show that already helped her “breajout”. That aside, I love the other nominees – I’ve been a big fan of Kat Dennings since Charlie Bartlett (so much so that I forgave her for The House Bunny). Frieda Pinto is obviously gorgeous and did a great job and Amanda Seyfried really did break out – showing she had talent beyond her Mean Girls-glazed eyes looked. MY PICK: Kat Dennings. WHO WILL WIN: Miley Cyrus.

Best Comedic Performance
Steve Carrell (Get Smart)
Jim Carrey (Yes Man)
Anna Faris (The House Bunny)
James Franco (Pineapple Express)
Amy Poehler (Baby Mama)

I think all of these actors are generally funny and generally pretty good actors but their performances came in movies that ranged from laughless (The House Bunny) to downright painful (Baby Mama). While Pineapple Express was entertaining, it was not all that funny. There was one that stood above the rest – Steve Carrell in Get Smart – a movie that exceeded expectations across the board. MY PICK: Steve Carrell. WHO WILL WIN: James Franco.

Best Villain
Luke Goss (Hellboy II: The Golden Army)
Dwayne Johnson (Get Smart)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Derek Mears (Friday the 13th)
Johnathon Schaech (Prom Night)

I don’t know a hell of a lot about most of these flicks because I never really had extra cash I wanted to burn by seeing Friday the 13th and Prom Night but I don’t think this matters because I would be shocked if Ledger lost. MY PICK: Heath Ledger. WHO WILL WIN: Heath Ledger.

Best Fight
Bride Wars
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Pineapple Express

This category gives me the most problem because I have very little idea what people are going for here. If you like cat fights it’s kind of tough to beat Bride Wars but if you want true action scenes The Dark Knight and Hellboy II are going to stand above the rest. Pineapple Express’ scene was pretty funny and pretty good in a general sense, but not a hell of a lot that really stays with you. Twilight on the other hand showed that if the scene sucked in the book, it will suck even more in the movie. MY PICK: The Dark Knight. WHO WILL WIN: Twilight, maybe?

Best Kiss
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Zac Efron/Vanessa Hudgens)
I Love You, Man (Paul Rudd/Thomas Lennon)
Milk (Sean Penn/James Franco)
Slumdog Millionaire (Dev Patel/Freida Pinto)
Twilight (Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson)

Milk stands out for it’s political statement, which gives it a slight edge over some teenie favorites like HSM3 and Twilight. Frankly the Twilight kiss wasn’t much to write home about – much like the rest. Slumdog Millionaire’s kiss was something special – it sent shivers down my spine and was the perfect climax to a great movie. MY PICK: Slumdog Millionaire (Dev Patel/Freida Pinto). WHO WILL WIN: Milk (Sean Penn/James Franco).

Best WTF Moment
Baby Mama (Peeing in the Sink)
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Naked Break-up)
Slumdog Millionaire (Jumping in the Poop Shed)
Tropic Thunder (Tasting the Decapitated Head)
Wanted (Curved Bullet Kill)

While this category seems the least “legit” to me it also seems the closest category. Peeing in the sink might be the best part of Baby Mama, the naked break-up defines FSM just as the curved bullet defines Wanted, the poop shed sets the course for Slumdog and the decapitated head makes you realize just how far over the line Tropic Thunder has gone. MY PICK: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Naked Break-up). WHO WILL WIN: Baby Mama (Peeing in the Sink).

Best Song From a Movie
Hannah Montana: The Movie (Miley Cyrus’ The Climb)
Slumdog Millionaire (A.R. Rahman’s Jai Ho)
Twilight (Paramore’s Decode)
The Wrestler (Bruce Springsteen’s The Wrestler)

These choices cross lots of genres and lots of generations. I loved all of Slumdog’s music but Jai Ho was not the song that spoke to me, kind of like how I like Paramore a lot of times but not Decode. I don’t really want to talk about Miley but Springsteen’s The Wrestler blew me away. I don’t usually like the Boss, but this song was so perfect for the film. MY PICK: The Wrestler. WHO WILL WIN: The Climb.

To sum up: Twilight is overrated, each of the categories have one legit nominee, and the lesser qualified person will probably win.

I'm so over blogging

...but here I am.

For so long I thought that maybe my blogging would become something - whether it was here or at Salty Stix but then when the cold hard truth set in I got extremely disenfranchised. I didn't think there was a point anymore. But then I realized that I had to write something, somewhere. To me writing is like cooking (well, everyone has one, cooking is mine) in that writing also relaxes me, it helps me focus my mind, and so, here I am.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Disney Devils?

After watching the movie Mickey Mouse Monopoly and reading THIS, I got very interested in reading about Disney's not so subtle racism/sexism.

If you want to watch Mickey Mouse Monopoly, I attached the youtube links below.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 Favorites: Books

I returned to reading again in 2008 for various reasons beginning with a need for books for my travels through Europe when I read Next, unfortunately the last Creichton book I will ever read as the author who blurred nonfiction and fiction to create an altogether unique experience passed away.

I also started reading comic books, or graphic novels, for the first time in my life. My closest friends joined me, as we shared novels we had bought and I soon started gobbling up all the library could offer in this regard as well. I quickly graduated from "comic" graphic novels featuring superheroes to graphic novels that depicted stories without heroes.

Then again the last couple of months of 2008 my voracious appetite for reading returned in force. Perhaps it was because I felt isolated living at home away from my friends, but either way, I started reading a lot. So much so that I even started reading the books my students were reading - from Brave New World to Twilight. The Twilight books were so interesting on so many levels - on one I found the books online, for free, and also because I too became quickly addicted to Stephanie Meyer's stories. Looking back I realized the deep flaws in Meyer's characters and concepts but still had to respect her ability to rope in teenage girls with ease.

That being said this list will seem quite eclectic as it jumps all over the place, featuring graphic novels, historical fiction, and "classic literature".

5. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
I had a lot of fun reading Marjane Satrapi's books. I read this book in a day and devoured Persepolis II (Persepolis: The Story of a Return) the next. The story is so much fun, full of a resounding humor that pierces the seriousness of Satrapi's look at history, religion, and family. The drawings complement the story just as well, sticking with you for quite some time. For me, it took me a while to get the story - and the images - out of my head. And to me, that is the mark of a great book.

4. World Without End by Ken Follett
Pillars of the Earth is my favorite book of all time. The story roped me in being as I was, susceptible to historical fiction, an intriguing story, and relishing the concept of becoming lost in a world that spanned over 1000 pages. So it is no surprise that Follett's sequel to my favorite book would be something that interested me. I loved the book - and really do need to give it another read - but it was a tad disappointing - following Follett's Pillars of the Earth formula way way too closely. Characters were slight variations of Pillars characters, plotlines developed along identical get the point. But still very good.

3. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
The hype surrounding this book from my friends, as well as the movie promotion, made me skeptical of the quality and power my friends would not stop talking about. But then I read Moore's book and it knocked my socks off - I read the book in a handful of days, unable to put it down. This examination of superheroes and of people in general is particularly striking, making Watchmen so much more than a comic book or even a graphic novel. Each character seemed to be so vivid, so different, so much more than the average novel character. I considered putting Loeb and Sale's The Long Halloween in this superhero/graphic novel slot but the Watchmen were too much for Batman to handle.

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I needed a book to read for my month in Europe so I went to the used book store and bought a couple and I took some of my favorites that I wanted to read again. It wasn't until I got to Italy (three weeks later) that I finally cracked The Road and read it in a day or two. It was another book that simply mesmerized me, as All the Pretty Horses had the year before. I could not put it down as I frantically turned page after page, dieing to know what happened to our two protagonists walking the desolated world that remained. The book, like many of McCarthy's other novels seemed to be a perfect blueprint for a movie and I soon found out that a movie was already in the works, with Viggo Mortensen to star. Viggo is the perfect choice and I look forward to seeing the movie of the book that blew me away.

1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I set out to read the classics I never read in school, and so I read a good deal of Steinbeck novels. This one rose above the rest to become my favorite book of the year. There is something about simplicity that is so appealing, so difficult to vanquish. Here the story of two men, their friendship and their struggles seemed so powerful. I don't really know what else to say besides to urge you to read this book if you have not already, for it will stay with you forever.

2008 Favorites Introduction

Last year I thought I was so clever with my rant on why these lists should be called favorites instead of best ofs. This year, everywhere I look it seems like every blog and their brother are spouting similar thoughts on “favorites” over “best ofs.” Basically I’m saying I’m a genius who was way ahead of the curve.

2008 was a weird year for me. It began weird and ended in a way I never would have believed. Here on pulpeverything there were just 16 posts in all of 2008 – less than the entire month of July 2007. Hell, I couldn’t even get it together to post ANY of these lists until early January, but it is what it is.

I got caught up in the burst of my other blog, SaltyStix, which became more and more of the webzine I wanted it to be – only to die abruptly towards the end of 2008. I left my apartment and my independence to return home while I was a student teacher. Beyond consuming loads of my time this also reduced my daily music consumption from four albums or so a day to less than half and my daily movie consumption from about one a day to about one a week. While media consumption decreased I found my appetite for reading return, allowing me to post my favorite reads of 2008!

Again, for all of the lists I will post – books, songs, albums, movies, and dvds – I use a sliding scale where each is relatively better than the one before – to me of course, since this is all about opinion.
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