Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"I Think We're Going to Need a Bigger Bookshelf"

Watching House play McMurphy tonight made me remember that, despite having started it twice and that it's one of my favorite movies, I have never finished One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Which got me wondering what other books I've never gotten around to finishing.

Note: Since my library is spread out over two locations, it is quite likely that I will have left out a few titles. (Not to mention books I checked out of the library!) I am intentionally making these lists long-form fiction (novels and novellas) and drama only; excluded are: non-fiction, anthologies and collected works, volumes of short stories and poetry, graphic novels or comics, and Doctor Who spin-off books.

Books I Started But Never Finished

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility also by Austen
Century's Son by Robert Boswell
The Plague by Albert Camus
The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
The Mind-Boy Problem by Rebecca Goldstein
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
Ulysses by James Joyce
I suspect I am not the only person to have never finished it.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Trust me, if you've seen the movie, there's no need to finish the book.
Taltos, by Anne Rice
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Last of the Just by Andre Schwartz-Bart
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
I know, I'm a bad nerd.
Porno by Irvine Welsh
The Lover by A. B. Yehoshua

Books I've Bought Fully Intending to Read But Just Haven't Gotten Around to It Yet

The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul by Douglas Adams
The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey
I have a perfectly good excuse for not reading this.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Evelina by Frances Burney
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
King of the Jews by Leslie Epstein
Joseph Andrews/Shamela by Henry Fielding
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Patton
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Again, probably not the only person to have bought but never read it.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Huis clos/Les mouches by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
The Waves by Virginia Woolf

Finally, there is Pete Dexter's Paris Trout, which I have no idea if I started or not.

Monday, September 7, 2009

So, who's excited for "Rock Band: The Beatles"? Who went out and bought a Wii just so they could play it? Um... anyone but me? Moving along then...

What with the release of this video game and the remastered albums (yes, all of them), in the near future, I can easily see Beatlemania reaching levels it hasn't seen since Paul McCartney's hair really was brown (You're not fooling anyone, pal), so I've decided to present

A Guide to Beatles Movies

9. Magical Mystery Tour. The boys got high and decided they could make a movie themselves. Problem was, no one told them it would be better to do so sober. Stick to the album.

8. Let It Be. Captures the tensions as the band was slowly beginning to break up, and, of course, includes the famous roof top concert. Unfortunately, this film has major structural problems, and has only received release as very badly transfered VHS, which is out of print.

7. Help! The plot (if you could call it that) was allegedly recycled from something Peter Sellers turned down, and it shows. It is probably one of the most ridiculous stories ever committed to film, but the musical numbers are great and really honed the style that would be used for music videos in the decades to come.

6. Yellow Submarine. The Beatles journey to Pepperland to rescue the inhabitants (as well as their doubles--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) from the Blue Meanies. Yes, it is trippy, but the vintage psychedelic animation is worth it. Too bad they didn't do their own voice over work, though.

5. Anthology. The 10 or so hour mini-series that leaves few stones unturned as the (then) three surviving Beatles tell their story in their own words. Excellently done, but probably not for the casual fan.

4. The First U.S. Visit. Think a documentary version of A Hard Day's Night. Verite filmmakers David and Albert Mayseles filmed The Beatles on their first U.S. tour, but were never allowed to release it. Apple Records now owns it, and has released it under the above title, unfortunately replacing the original footage of families watching the Ed Sullivan performances with the real thing. However, it's still a really fascinating look at the band's early days.

3. Across the Universe. A musical comprised solely of Beatles music. This could have gone wrong in so many ways, but actually turned out quite good. The plot is a little cliched, but the songs are used creatively, and the relatively unknown performers were excellent.

2. The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash. The greatest Beatles parody ever, and possibly the greatest documentary about them. Eric Idle and Lorne Michaels made it with a little help from George Harrison, so every step the Pre-Fab Four take hilariously echos the real thing.

1. A Hard Day's Night. A fictional version of The First U.S. Visit, this film captures the Fab Four at the height of their fabness. Great, absurd British humor, and, it goes without saying, a soundtrack full of Beatles's classics, such as "And I Love Her" and "Can't Buy Me Love," the latter of which could possibly be considered the first rock video.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

British Actor of the Month--Convincing American Accent Edition

As you may have guessed from the title, this month's featured actor is none other than multiple Emmy nominee Hugh Laurie. Here's a few reasons why he rocks:

  • Blackadder. First appearing in as the ruthless Prince Ludwig (who reaped he "ree-wen-gee" on Queen Elizabeth I), then as the empty-headed Prince Regent, and then finally as the even dumber WWI officer George, Laurie is so convincingly stupid it's sometimes hard to believe he's the same guy that plays House.
  • And speaking of upper-class twits, in Jeeves and Wooster, Laurie brings P. G. Wodehouse's gormless Bertie Wooster perfectly and hilariously to life.
  • A Bit of Fry & Laurie. He and b.f.f. Stephen Fry wrote and starred in their own sketch comedy show for the BBC, which was full of biting social and political commentary. And Laurie in drag.
  • Sure, you may have heard of Band from TV, in which Laurie plays with other TV star musicians, or maybe you knew that he does his own piano playing in Jeeves and Wooster and House. But I bet you didn't know that he wrote all the songs in Fry & Laurie, like this one:
  • The Gun Seller. A novel that he wrote about a seemingly idiotic though really wittily sarcastic private eye who gets caught up in international espionage. A rarity for celebrity authors, it's actually very well written and quite clever.
  • Sense and Sensibility. Laurie had a brief but memorable role as the long-suffering Mr. Palmer, whose sarcasm goes way over the head of his clueless wife.
  • And last but not least, House. It's the character that draws us to the show, not the medical mysteries. He really gets to the humor and pathos of our favorite TV doctor.
With that, I wish Hugh Laurie good luck at this year's Emmys. Although I'm not entirely sure his self-deprecating Britishness would know what to do with a win.