Category Archives: Entertainment Weekly

EW's Best 100 books/last 25 years

I almost said, “Why bother?” since I just don’t read that many novels. I read mostly non-fiction – way too much Bob Woodward, and quite a bit of religious material – and older stuff and this list is mostly fiction. But what the heck.

*I read it

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000) – my wife started reading Harry Potter just this year. My 17-year-old niece devours them in a day or two. I haven’t read a single page. (I did see the first movie.)
*3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987) – quite moving.
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997) – I’ve read Roth, but not this.
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001) – didn’t see the movie, either.
*7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991) – transcendent.
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996) – I’ve read some of this.
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997) – no and didn’t see the movie either, though I have the soundtrack.
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997) – my wife owns this; have read some.
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
*13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87) – quite good.
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992). Have read Oates, but not this.
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
*16. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986) – I belonged to a book club in the 1980s and early 1990s. Read 10 books a year in different categories. That’s the only reason I got to read this, which I found quite engrossing, in a depressing ay.
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990). Read Updike, not this.
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (1998) – saw the movie.
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000). Actually have never read Stephen King (except various columns, such as the one in EW.)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985) – saw the miniseries. Read something of his.
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989) – my wife owns the book; saw the movie.
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
*36. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996) – AND saw the movie. Bleak.
*37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003) – will see the movie.
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
*46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996) – well, at least big chunks of it.
47. World’s Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985) – read Ragtime, but not this.
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998) – started this.
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992) – read excerpts of it; saw the movie.
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000) – borrowed this book THREE years ago, started, got busy, never got back to it.
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987) – I start LOTS of books.
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001) – had meant to read.
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994) – this I should read.
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003) – my wife saw the movie.
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) – saw the movie.
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000) – read some of this
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002) – saw the movie
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998) – saw the movie.
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987) – read chunks of this.
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995) – saw the movie.
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999) – read some of this.
*90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001) – only because my wife was reading.
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987) – saw the movie
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991) – started this.
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001) – started this.
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003) and didn’t see the movie, either.
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators’ Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004) – own this, have read parts of it.

So what ought I read first from this list?

EW's Top Films of the Past 25 Years

Tackling Entertainment Weekly’s “new classics. And I’ll agree with many: no Shawshank Redemption?
Won’t comment on films I noted on the AFI list (unless I feel like it).

*I saw it.

*1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03) -saw the first third
*3. Titanic (1997)
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
*5. Toy Story (1995)
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
*7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) – on my top three list of Woody Allen films
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – I was at my parents’ house. They had HBO. Started watching; bailed.
*9. Die Hard (1988) – good if you like that sort of thing.
*10. Moulin Rouge (2001) – I think I like the effort of the film more than the movie itself. I do have the soundtrack, though.
*11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – saw several times in the 1980s, but not at all in years. Seems I recorded off TV; definitely need to see again lest I set the dial to 11.
*12. The Matrix (1999) – saw on commercial TV in the last couple years, which probably didn’t do it justice.
13. GoodFellas (1990) – saw parts of it.
14. Crumb (1995) – had planned to see at the time, but never did.
*15. Edward Scissorhands (1990) – liked it well enough, but seems too high on this list.
*16. Boogie Nights (1997) – I really liked the first part of it, appreciated the middle section, but that part at the end felt so contrived.
*17. Jerry Maguire (1996)
*18. Do the Right Thing (1989) – great, and dare I say, important film.
19. Casino Royale (2006)
*20. The Lion King (1994)
*21. Schindler’s List (1993) – probably should be in the Top 10.
22. Rushmore (1998) – keep meaning to see.
23. Memento (2001) – ditto.
*24. A Room With a View (1986) – I’ve seen a lot of Merchant/Ivory films, and this is clearly the best.
*25. Shrek (2001)
*26. Hoop Dreams (1994) – Roger Ebert is right. Devastating, yet oddly hopeful.
27. Aliens (1986)
28. Wings of Desire (1988)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – never seen a Bourne film in its entirety.
*30. When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
*31. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – I said it before – that stuff on the mountain was boring. Much more interesting after that point. I’m talking about the ranching stuff.
32. Fight Club (1999)
*33. The Breakfast Club (1985) – I saw a bunch of Hughes films in a short period, and they all blend together in my mind.
*34. Fargo (1996) – on the strength of McDormand and Macy’s performances, a winner.
*35. The Incredibles (2004) – this was on NBC in the past year, and it was unwatchable to me. The commercials ruined any rhythm I got from seeing it in the theater. Still, my father-in-law stayed with it and appreciated its charms; I was too impatient. Such great social satire!
*36. Spider-Man 2 (2004) – a great superhero movie.
*37. Pretty Woman (1990) – stood in a long line at the Madison Theater in Albany to see it. I liked it just fine. Not great “cinema”.
*38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – said before, but bears repeating. Watched this on video, but was too tired to finish. Got up in the morning, finished watching it. A terrible way to see a film. Yet I LOVED it. As someone said, “A very, very sweet movie masquerading as something else.”
*39. The Sixth Sense (1999) – Soylent Green is…no wait, wrong film. No, I didn’t know the big reveal, and I’d like to see again, now that I do now.
*40. Speed (1994) – the first movie Carol and I saw together. Trashy fun.
41. Dazed and Confused (1993)- must see.
*42. Clueless (1995) – pleasant enough.
43. Gladiator (2000)
*44. The Player (1992) – loved it at the time, but now, except for the ending, fading from memory.
*45. Rain Man (1988) – Tom Cruise is amazingly good in this movie in a thankless role against the Hoffman performance. Own the soundtrack; like the soundtrack a lot.
46. Children of Men (2006)
*47. Men in Black (1997) – saw it, didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t bother watching again.
48. Scarface (1983)
*49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – this Ang Lee film was amazing.
*50. The Piano (1993) – was quite impressed at the time, yet this movie is also fading from memory.
51. There Will Be Blood (2007) – people are appalled that I actually watched the last 10 minutes of this; someone on my blogroll posted it from YouTube. It’ll be years before i see it, and it’ll have faded.
*52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988) – VERY funny.
*53. The Truman Show (1998) – I adore this film.
54. Fatal Attraction (1987)
*55. Risky Business (1983) – it’s fine, but it didn’t move me as much as it did my wife and many others.
56. The Lives of Others (2006) -wanted to see this.
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
*58. Ghostbusters (1984) – quite excellent. Based in a library, which is always a plus. And fun video for the title song, put together so quickly that Ray Parker, Jr. didn’t know it was out until a friend told him how great it was.
*59. L.A. Confidential (1997) – saw Washington’s Birthday weekend 1998 along with The Queen at Crossgates Mall, one of the last times I was there. It really worked for me.
60. Scream (1996)
*61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) – fine, but probably not worthy of inclusion on the list.
*62. sex, lies and videotape (1989) – along with Do the Eight Thing, my favorite film of that year.
*63. Big (1988)
64. No Country For Old Men (2007)
*65. Dirty Dancing (1987) – it was OK, but not worthy of inclusion on this list.
66. Natural Born Killers (1994)
67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
*68. Witness (1985) – probably my favorite Harrison Ford performance.
*69. All About My Mother (1999) – liked it.
*70. Broadcast News (1987) – worth it just for Albert Brooks.
*71. Unforgiven (1992)
*72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
73. Office Space (1999) – I NEED to see this film; my co-workers reference it too often.
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
*75. Out of Africa (1985) – bored me silly.
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
*78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
*79. Waiting for Guffman (1996) – like this movie a lot, love the ensemble in just about everything they’ve done.
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
*81. Moonstruck (1987) – THAT’S amore.
*82. Lost in Translation (2003) – never warmed to this film.
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
*84. Sideways (2004) – great performances.
*85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) – my wife was really hesitant to see this, as she thought it’d be stupid. So it ended up being astonishingly good, and should be ranked much higher.
*86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002) – it was pretty good, but didn’t love it.
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
*91. Back to the Future (1985)
92. Menace II Society (1993)
93. Ed Wood (1994)
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002) – I had forgotten about this movie which was quite fine when I saw it in the theater.
*97. Glory (1989) – there’s a scene with Denzel that pains me just thinking about it. Have on video, have the soundtrack.
*98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – clever enough, but I don’t think it has legs.
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)
Roger Ebert writes The Balcony Is_Closed. Made me sad. Hope he comes back in a different format, if his health allows.


ROG on EW on TV

“The 100 best shows from 1983 to 2008”, which I assume explains the absence of St. Elsewhere (1982-1988) and Cheers (1982-1993).

1. The Simpsons, Fox, 1989-present: I watched religiously for nine or ten years. Spotty since then. Have the soundtrack, saw, and liked, but didn’t love, the movie.
2 The Sopranos, HBO (1999-2007): saw the last four minutes on YouTube. Unless you count all the clips shown at the Emmys. For a show I’ve never watched, I know an awful lot about it. I could be watching it now on non-pay cable, but didn’t.
3 Seinfeld, NBC (1989-98): See, I liked it when it really WAS about nothing, getting lost in a parking lot and whatnot. I did enjoy the TV pitch about the show about nothing and the second spitter. But George and the Yankees? Eh. Susan’s death? Hated. Went from must see from the get-go to catch in reruns the last three seasons.
4 The X-Files, Fox (1993-2002): saw maybe four times, including a two-parter. Liked it when I saw it.
5 Sex and the City, HBO (1998-2004): whereas when this went from HBO to TBS, my wife and I DID watch it. Mostly liked it, though the first half of the first season, it struggled to find is voice.
6 Survivor, CBS (2000-present): watched the first season, which I enjoyed, and the second, which largely bored me. Then started watching the first episode and the finale for a few seasons. Last couple years, haven’t even bothered.
7 The Cosby Show, NBC (1984-92): watched religiously, even though it started losing its mojo at the end.
8 Lost, ABC (2004-present): have seen maybe five minutes of it. At this point, I can’t commit to a serial with such a complex back story.
9 Friends, NBC (1994-2004): watched it in the beginning and at the end. Periodically, it’d irritate me as too cute and I’d bail, but a storyline would pull me back in.
10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The WB (1997-2001); UPN (2001-03): saw one musical episode.
11 The Wire, HBO (2002-08): another HBO show I’ve not seen.
12 South Park, Comedy Central (1997-present). Saw a few episodes to see what the fuss was, bailed.
13 Freaks and Geeks, NBC (1999-2000): watched every episode. Loved.
14 The Daily Show, Comedy Central (1996-present): usually see in clips on someone or other’s blog.
15 The Oprah Winfrey Show, Syndicated (1986-present): See infrequently. I remember one episode when she brought together the black kids who integrated the high school in Little Rock in 1957 and those who jeered them; great show. Probably watch thrice a year, such as when she had Paul McCartney on.
16 Arrested Development, Fox (2003-06): didn’t much like when I watched the first season and gave up. Fellow bloggers sang its praise and I tried again at the beginning of Season 2 and watched to the end.
17 The Office (U.K. version), BBC2 (2001-03) – never saw.
18 American Idol, Fox (2002-present)- watched it from the third to the last episode in Season 1, through all of Seasons 2 and 3. Watched just the Top 24 in season 4, top 12 in season 5, and not at all since.
19 ER, NBC (1994-present) – watched the first six or eight seasons before I bailed.
20 Beverly Hills, 90210, Fox (1990-2000) – didn’t watch.
21 Roseanne, ABC (1988-97) – watched the first six or seven seasons before it lost me.
22 The Real World, MTV (1992-present) – saw the first three or four seasons. Since then, watched the first episode of the season a half dozen times, but that was all.
23 The West Wing, NBC (1999-2006) – watched the first five seasons, gave up, watched most of the last season.
24 Star Trek: The Next Generation, Syndication (1987-94) – saw every episode.
25 Miami Vice, NBC (1984-89) – saw a lot of it early; may have given up after three or four seasons.
26 Chappelle’s Show, Comedy Central (2003-06) – saw a couple episodes.
27 Law & Order, NBC (1990-present) – watched religiously from the middle of the first season until Jerry Orbach left, almost not at all since then.
28 The Larry Sanders Show, HBO (1992-98): had HBO for the first couple seasons and watched, but then I didn’t so I didn’t, though I did see the last episode in a hotel room in Boston.
29 The Shield, FX (2002-present): saw a season or two.
30 Late Show With David Letterman, CBS (1993-present): occasionally.
31 The Civil War, PBS (1990): watched it all.
32 Gilmore Girls, The WB (2000-06), The CW (2006-07): caught in reruns the first season, saw the rest. Almost lost me with the Rory/married Dean affair.
33 My So-Called Life, ABC (1994-95): saw it all.
34 24, Fox (2001-present): saw the first season, which was 13 great episodes, followed by WTF. The last episode, though, really got to me. The beginning of the second season turned me off, though I did see parts of that and the next season. Not only gave it up but have railed against it in this blog almost from its inception.
35 CSI, CBS (2000-present): saw one episode, hated it.
36 thirtysomething, ABC (1987-91): watched most episodes.
38 Beavis and Butt-head, MTV (1993-97): watched once, hated.
39 Six Feet Under, HBO (2001-05): never saw; probably would have watched.
40 Mr. Show, (HBO, 1995-98): don’t know what this is.
41 Frasier, NBC (1993-2004): watched every episode.
42 L.A. Law, NBC (1986-94): watched most episodes.
43 Late Night With Conan O’Brien, NBC (1993-present): rarely.
44 Jeopardy!, Syndicated (1984-present): since I owned a VCR, almost never miss.
45 Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO (2000-present): haven’t seen; probably would if I could.
46 Homicide: Life on the Street, NBC (1993-99): favorite show of the decade.
47 30 Rock, NBC (2006-present): tried it early, didn’t like.
48 Ally McBeal, Fox (1997-2002): one of those shows I watched whether it was good (Robert Downey Jr.) or not (Hayden Pantitierre as Ally’s daughter).
49 Twin Peaks, ABC (1990-91): watched the first season but lost interest.
50 Baywatch, NBC (1989-90), Syndicated (1991-2001): never saw a complete episode.
51. Melrose Place, Fox (1992-99): ditto.
52. Felicity, The WB (1998-2002): ditto.
53. Will & Grace, NBC (1998-2006): watched sporadically, such as Gene Wilder’s first appearance.
54. Moonlighting, ABC (1985-89): another show I watched from its great beginning to its lousy post-“Maddie-and-David succumb” end.
55. Pee-wee’s Playhouse, CBS (1986-90): saw a couple times.
56. Desperate Housewives, ABC (2004-present): never saw a full episode.
57. The Amazing Race, CBS (2001-present): ditto.
58. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, NBC (1992-present): generally not.
59. Battlestar Galactica, Sci Fi (2003-2008): never saw.
60. Xena: Warrior Princess, Syndicated (1995-2001): never saw a full episode.
61. The Office (U.S.), NBC (2005-present): watched from the beginning.
62. House, Fox (2004-present): watched once or twice.
63. Mystery Science Theater 3000, Comedy Central (1989-96), Sci Fi (1997-99): tried it, bored me.
64. The Osbournes, MTV (2002-05): watched two or three episodes before giving up.
65. Family Guy, Fox (1999-2002, 2005-present): watched about a season in its first incarnation, quit.
66. Grey’s Anatomy, ABC (2005-present: have watched far too many episodes.
67. Planet Earth, Discovery Channel (2007): don’t think I have.
68. Jackass, MTV (2000-02): never saw.
69. The Colbert Report, Comedy Central (2005-present): rarely.
70. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS (1996-2005): one episode.
71. Friday Night Lights, NBC (2006-present): never saw a full episode; I’m sure it’s very good, and I’d like it, but it was a matter of time.
72. NewsRadio, NBC (1995-99): watched maybe a half dozen episodes when Phil Hartman was on.
73. Oz, HBO (1997-2003)” another HBO casualty.
74. Wiseguy, CBS (1987-90): watched religiously.
75. Project Runway, Bravo (2004-present): never saw.
76. In Living Color, Fox (1990-94): watched for most of a season.
77. The Golden Girls, NBC (1985-92): pr
obably saw 75% of the episodes; hey, it had Betty White!
78. I’ll Fly Away, NBC (1991-93): watched religiously.
79. The Comeback, HBO (2005): don’t know this.
80. King of the Hill, Fox (1997-present): watched it religiously, for about three seasons, then stopped. Don’t know why.
81. Murphy Brown, CBS (1988-98): probably saw every episode.
82. The Hills, MTV (2006-present): actively not interested.
83. Absolutely Fabulous, BBC2 (1992), BBC1 (1994-2004): saw a run of this somewhere (PBS?)
84. Northern Exposure, CBS (1990-95): watched religiously.
85. The Kids in the Hall, HBO (1989-92), CBS (1992-95): saw a few episodes, almost certainly on CBS.
86. Prime Suspect, ITV (1991-2006): watched most seasons in the 1990s, but sorta forgot about it.
87. Deadwood, HBO (2004-06): another HBO no-show.
88. Malcolm in the Middle, Fox (2000-06): a handful of times.
89. SpongeBob SquarePants, Nickelodeon (1999-present): watched for maybe a couple seasons BEFORE Lydia was born, seldom since.
90. Dawson’s Creek, The WB (1998-2003): saw the last episode, maybe one or two others.
91. Mad Men, AMC (2007-present): until it got Emmy love, off my radar.
92. The Ben Stiller Show, Fox (1992-93): probably saw most of it.
93. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Bravo (2003-07): watched a couple seasons with my wife.
94. Married…With Children, Fox (1987-97): saw once; hated.
95. Designing Women, CBS (1986-93): one of those shows that followed something I was watching and ended up seeing occasionally.
96. The Arsenio Hall Show, Syndicated (1989-94): saw much of one season, not much more, though I did watch Bill Clinton.
97. Party of Five, Fox (1994-2000): saw the pilot, little else.
98. MacGyver, ABC (1985-92): once in a great while.
99. The Bachelor, ABC (2002-present): never a whole episode.
100. Saved by the Bell, NBC (1989-93): never a whole episode. And what I did see was really bad.

MIA: Once and Again (saw every episode EXCEPT THE PILOT!); NYPD Blue (yes, really).


Eddie Mitchell Makes Me Go Country

Eddie called me out to comment on EW’s top 25 country albums you have to hear, even if you don’t like country music. Since I pretty much do whatever Eddie requests – he asks so nicely – I could do naught but respond, albeit reluctantly. I am not what I’d call a big country fan; I don’t dislike it, just don’t follow it much.
Once, though, I did. Back in the days when AM radio was king, there were many stations that operated pretty much from sunrise to sundown. Then there were these mega “clear channel” stations that one could hear from a great distance at night. From my home in Binghamton, NY, I could hear stations in New York City and Cleveland. I could also get WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia, a country station.
Also, my grandfather brought home this album “50 Stars, 50 Hits” on “two long-playing albums”, as the pitchman said it.

Now to the list:
*means I Have It

*1. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Maybe it’s because I heard it first, but I prefer San Quentin. Not that this is a bad album. I also liked the American Recordings John R. did later in his life. In fact, if you considered that best of American Recordings album that came in the posthumous box set, I might pick that.

*2. Home, Dixie Chicks
As I mentioned recently, bought this to protest the protest of the Dixie Chicks. Ironically, this album has one mighty patriotic tune in particular that was on the charts when the controversy developed. I like it, but it seems terribly high in the pantheon of all country music.

3. Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Dwight Yoakam
I like him when I see him on TV or when he appears on a compilation album I have, but have none of his albums.

*4. Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn
I’m quite fond of this Jack White-produced disc.

5. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
Have some Willie, not this.

6. Carnegie Hall Concert, Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
No Buck except on 50 Stars.

7. Modern Day Drifter, Dierks Bentley
Don’t know him. See he already has a greatest hits album.

8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Miranda Lambert
I heard her name mentioned in a positive review on CBS Sunday Morning, I believe.

9. The Complete Reprise Sessions, Gram Parsons
The only Gram I have is on the expanded version of the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo CD.

10. Time Well Wasted, Brad Paisley
Know the name. He’s playing around here soon.

11. Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
Eddie will probably hate me, but I own no solo Dolly.

*12. Elite Hotel, Emmylou Harris
Own it on LP, haven’t played it in years. Prefer Blue Kentucky Girl from that era.

13. Georgia Hard, Robbie Fulks
Don’t know.

*14. Trio, Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris
Bought unheard based on all those great Emmylou harmonies on Linda’s albums, and Dolly’s harmony on Linda’s “I’ll Never Be Married”. Very fond of this album.

15. Gold, Hank Williams
For all the covers of Hank Williams songs I own and songs referring to Hank, from Johnny Cash to Neil Young that I have, unless I got one in the end days of my LP collecting, I just don’t have any collections.

16. Hag — The Best of Merle Haggard, Merle Haggard
I think that I didn’t get the parody that was “Okie from Muskogee” and dismissed him out of hand. Know better now, but haven’t rectified the void in my collection.

17. Come On Over, Shania Twain
I do remember some sultry video from this, which I did hear as country particularly. And that “Man, I’m a Woman” song’s from here, too. The album sold 20 bajillion copies. My feeling: meh.

*18. Guitar Town, Steve Earle
My first Steve Earle was a live album I didn’t much like. The second was I Feel Alright, which just love. Guitar Town is a really good album, but it was so hyped in my circle of friends, it couldn’t bear the weight.

19. These Days, Vince Gill
Own none Like to watch him on TV occasionally.

*20. Almost Blue, Elvis Costello
It was an acquired taste for me. Grew to like and respect it, rather than embrace it.

21. Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson
I know who she is, but not this album.

22. The Definitive Collection, the Flying Burrito Brothers
Know them, have heard them on FM radio, but own none.

23. Revival, Gillian Welch
If there’s one artist on this list I’m mostly likely to purchase, it’s Gillian Welch. I’ve heard her music at other people’s houses.

24. Horse of a Different Color, Big & Rich
Know them only by reputation, not all good.

*25. Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
My wife loves Alison Krauss, and we saw her in April 2003 at the Palace Theater in Albany. There are tracks of hers on albums I like but I haven’t loved a whole album since that greatest hits album she put out back c. 1994 when she was still brunette and more zaftig, until this one. But is it country?

I have eight out of 25.

What, no Patsy Cline? I would also found room for Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter and maybe Rosanne Cash.

Your turn, Eddie.


EW's best 100 albums of the last 25 years.

I find myself sucked into these things. Back in 1987, rolling stone magazine put out a list of the best LPs of the prior 20 years and I had 56 of 100.

*1. Purple Rain – Prince and the Revolution (1984): Tosy wrote: “I have a hunch this is going to be one of those albums where I know most of the songs without realizing it.” Yes, Tosy, I’m sure it is.

*2. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill (1998): I like, not love it.

*3. Achtung Baby – U2 (1991): only my 2nd favorite U2 album.

4. The College Dropout – Kanye West (2004): Not a big rap fan.

5. Madonna – Madonna (1983): Only have her greatest hits

*6. American Idiot – Green Day (2004): the problem with individual downloads is that one loses the sense of the album. This is an ALBUM, which I got from ADD.

7. The Blueprint- Jay-Z: (2001)

*8. Graceland – Paul Simon (1986): one of those albums I own both in vinyl and CD. Not always happy memories of two relationships, but that’s not the album’s fault.

*9. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse (2007): Someone gave it to me, listened a couple times, not bad. But her personal drama, I think, overwhelms an objective listen.

10. In Rainbows – Radiohead (2007)

*11. MTV Unplugged in New York – Nirvana (1994): the Nirvana I used to play at work, before Cubicleland.

12. Stankonia – OutKast (2000): I actually have had this on my Amazon want list for a while. (Note to self: update Amazon want list with new releases by Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, and others.) I have “Hey Ya” on a mixed CD from Fred Hembeck.

13. You Are Free – Cat Power (2003)

14. Disintegration – The Cure (1989). I have one Cure album, not this one.

15. The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem (2000)

16. Rain Dogs – Tom Waits (1985)

17. Odelay – Beck (1996). I have a mixed Beck album, which I like.

18. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm – A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

19. Dangerously in Love – Beyoncé (2003)

*20. Tidal – Fiona Apple (1996): have to be in the mood.

21. The Emancipation of Mimi – Mariah Carey (2005)

22. 3 Feet High and Rising – De La Soul (1989): have some De La soul, not this.

23. The Soft Bulletin – The Flaming Lips (1999)

24. Come On Over – Shania Twain (1997)

25. Turn On the Bright Lights – Interpol (2002)

*26. Time Out of Mind – Bob Dylan (1997). Only my 2nd favorite late Dylan album.

27. Funeral – Arcade Fire (2004)

28. Illmatic – Nas (1994)

29. Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson (2004). Bought her debut album for my wife.

30. Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses (1987). Only have the double CD, which I listen to about 60% of.

*31. FutureSex/LoveSounds – Justin Timberlake (2006): given to me. Wouldn’t have bought for myself, but more enjoyable than I would have thought. Still, don’t play it much.

*32. Life’s Rich Pageant – R.E.M. (1985). Better than I had remembered.

33. As I Am – Alicia Keys (2007)

34. Is This It – The Strokes (2001)

*35. Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette (1995): by this point, I’d stopped listening to much radio and STILL heard three of these songs quite a bit.

*36. CrazySexyCool – TLC (1994)

37. The Moon & Antarctica – Modest Mouse (2000)

38. Raising Hell – Run DMC (1986)

*39. Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow (1996): probably haven’t listened to for a while.

40. Ready to Die – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)

*41. Legend – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984): it’s a very fine greatest hits album.

42. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)- Wu-Tang Clan (1993)

43. Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys (1989)

*44. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams (1998) – Top 5 album of the 1990s for me

45. If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle and Sebastian (1996)

46. Homogenic – Björk (1997): no Björk, though I do have a Sugarcubes aklbum

*47. Exile in Guyville – Liz Phair (1993): listened to this in the car ride to Virginia in April. Still like it.

*48. American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash (2002). Have all five John R. albums; which one of the first four I favor tends to be changeable.

49. A Rush of Blood to the Head – Coldplay (2002)

*50. Sounds of Silver – LCD Soundsystem (2007): bought this solely on the basis of bloggers I respect. Like it, but haven’t played it enough to have imprinted into my soul.

*51. The Score – Fugees (1996). Love and hate in equal measure.

52. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – Spoon (2007)

*53. King of America – Elvis Costello (1986). Have on vinyl. Not the first EC I would have thought of.

*54. Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 – Janet Jackson (1989): in spite of those perhaps silly attempts to be “relevant”, I really like this album.

55. It Takes a Nation of Millions… – Public Enemy (1988)

56. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco (2002): still on my Amazon wish list. Have earlier Wilco.

*57. Harvest Moon – Neil Young (1992). at least Top 10 album of the 1990s.

58. Surfer Rosa – The Pixies (1988). I have Pixies on vinyl; will have to pull out.

59. Ray of Light – Madonna (1998)

60. Crooked Rain Crooked Rain – Pavement (1994)

61. Paid in Full – Eric B. & Rakim (1987)

*62. OK Computer – Radiohead (1997): don’t love it.

*63. The Joshua Tree – U2 (1987). I put this on my desert album list in 1988 and it remains.

64. Mama’s Gun – Erykah Badu (2000): have her first album.

65. Elephant – The White Stripes (2003): have White Blood Cells.

66. The Chronic – Dr. Dre (1992)

67. Metallica – Metallica (1991)

*68. Wrecking Ball – Emmylou Harris (1995): I have this friend who loved Emmylou, but hated this Daniel Lanois-produced album. I have a lot of Emmylou on vinyl, but this, my first Emmylou on CD, I quite enjoyed.

69. Give Up – The Postal Service (2003)

70. My Life – Mary J. Blige (1994)

71. Rock Steady – No Doubt (2001): have an earlier album.

72. 1984 – Van Halen (1984): have some VH, not this.

73. The Queen is Dead – Smiths (1986). No Smiths but I do have a Morissey.

*74. Play – Moby (1999). Could have seen him live in 1998 for free, but I had never heard of him. My loss.

*75. Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen (1984): my late brother-in-law bought me about six Springsteen CDs for Christmas in 2000, so I have this in two forms.

76. Heartbreaker – Ryan Adams (2000)

77. Dummy – Portishead (1994)

*78. Vs. – Pearl Jam (1991): have four Pearl Jam albums, but this is my favorite.

79. Let It Be – The Replacements (1984). Like the Don’t Tell a Soul album; should get this.

80. Back to Basics – Christina Aguilera (2006)

81. The Downward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails (1994)

82. Grace – Jeff Buckley (1994)

*83. Learning to Crawl – The Pretenders (1984): at some level, I suppose I like this album because the band managed to survive the loss of two of its members.

84. Low-Life – New Order (1985): have some earlier remix.

*85. Home – Dixie Chicks (2002): about a week after the political controversy, I was so annoyed with the backlash that I went out to the Rite Aid at lunch and bought this CD. I probably would have eventually – I had the first two Natalie Maine
s-led discs – but I was prompted to buy it right away. That I liked it was a bonus.

86. Loveless – My Bloody Valentine (1991)

87. All Eyez on Me – 2Pac (1996)

*88. So – Peter Gabriel (1986): one of those annoying things record companies did to promote the new CD technology was to put an extra song on the CD. Since I didn’t have a CD player, I bought the vinyl, but was annoyed. Years later, bought the CD. Ditto on this with #94.

89. Bachelor No. 2 – Aimee Mann (2000)

90. Toxicity – System of a Down (2001). Have their debut album.

91. Siamese Dream – Smashing Pumpkins (1993)

92. The Writing’s on the Wall – Destiny’s Child (1999). Have the follow-up, Survivor.

93. Either/Or – Elliott Smith (1997)

*94. Synchronicity – The Police (1983): Tosy wrote: “Easily their best, even with ‘Mother’.” Sounds right.

95. Trap Muzik T.I. (2003)

96. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea – PJ Harvey (2000)

97. Britney – Britney Spears (2001)

98. Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie (2003)

99. Live Through This – Hole (1994)

100. Faith – George Michael (1987)

33 out of 100 this time, if I counted correctly.



I received my copy of the Hembeck book – don’t say “What Hembeck book? – THE Hembeck book! and devoured it in one sitting.
OK, I jest. In fact, the book comes with a warning NOT to try to read it all at once. Rather, I’ve been concentrating on reading the chapter intros, including the teaser by Fred’s uncle, Stan Lee; I love how he calls Fred Hemby. THEN, I’ll read the actual stories, probably skipping over the FantaCo stuff for now, but coming back to eventually, since I was all very fond of it. I’m named in the acknowledgments; thanks, effendi! there was one page I ran into, though, that filled me with horror – a picture of the X-Men! It was originally on a gold sheet – which I still have, BTW, that I had to pack with every single retail copy of Hembeck 1980, but it was wider than the book, Wotta pain.
Fred notes that the book has been reviewed favorably by Entertainment Weekly!
Lydia had reached her 30 minute max of videos last evening. I turned off the DVD, and the TV just happened to be on ESPN. Ken Griffey, Jr., on the first pitch I saw, became the sixth man in MLB history to hit 600 home runs. Congrats to him, and to Michael Strahan, the NY/NJ Giants’ defensive end who announced his retirement yesterday. Each will be in their respective Halls of Fame eventually.
Skills: I got ’em? From Jaquandor, again, who writes:
“Bill Altreuter points to this list of 75 things every man should be able to do, I guess, in order to be able to really lay claim to true manliness or something. Surprisingly, Bill doesn’t do what bloggers are supposed to do in such cases: reproduce the list, with specific comment on his ability, or lack thereof, to do the things on the list. Well, unto the breach I go!”

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence. Sure, sometimes with one word: “listen.”

2. Tell if someone is lying. Most people think they can tell a liar all of the time, and that’s simply not true for most of us.

3. Take a photo. Well, not a fancy one.

4. Score a baseball game. Actually, yes. Something I do with my father-in-law at least a couple times a year,

5. Name a book that matters. Feh. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. But I don’t much like the question.

6. Know at least one musical group as well as is possible. Probably do with the Beatles. Also, Paul Simon, but he’s not a group.

7. Cook meat somewhere other than the grill. Actually I cook meat anywhere EXCEPT on a grill. I don’t own a grill.

8. Not monopolize the conversation. Quite conscious of this, especially with women; men are more prone to it, in my observation.

9. Write a letter. Used to do it all the time.

10. Buy a suit. I bought two last year. Hate it. Hate it.

11. Swim three different strokes. I only have one, and I don’t know what it is.

12. Show respect without being a suck-up. I believe so.

13. Throw a punch. Well, no.

14. Chop down a tree. I’ve cut a Christmas tree. But I’m reminded of a next door neighbor when I was growing up, who was cutting down a big tree in their yard. My father told them they would hit their house. They told him to shut up and mind his own business. The tree crashed into the roof of their house.

15. Calculate square footage. Sure.

16. Tie a bow tie. No. For the half dozen times I have worn one, learning how to do it was not worth it. That’s why God created clip-ons.

17. Make one drink, in large batches, very well. Never had need.

18. Speak a foreign language. Everybody should be able to do this. I can’t, except for an extremely basic comprehension of French left over from my high school days.

19. Approach a woman out of his league. This “league” thing; eh.

20. Sew a button. I’ve done it. It takes me forever, and I do it badly.

21. Argue with a European without getting xenophobic or insulting soccer. OK.

22. Give a woman an orgasm so that he doesn’t have to ask after it. OK, but oy. Among other things, it assumes heterosexuality.

23. Be loyal. Depends.

24. Know his poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope. Sure.

25. Drive an eightpenny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it. I can drive it, but I’m always thinking about it, or rather, my fingers.

26. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat. I haven’t fished since I was a child.

27. Play gin with an old guy. I used to play with my grandfather when I was in high school. The same guy who took me fishing.

28. Play go fish with a kid. I have.

29. Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. ‘Fraid not.

30. Feign interest. I used to be better at it.

31. Make a bed. I can do this. I never actually do this, but I can, which I guess is the important thing. Bed-making has never struck me as being a terribly useful or important thing.

32. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick. Sure – it’s yummy.

33. Hit a jump shot in pool. I did it once; it was an accident.

34. Dress a wound. I’ve done it.

35. Jump-start a car (without any drama). Change a flat tire (safely). Change the oil (once). I’ve done them all successfully, but so long ago that I’m not sure I could replicate.

36. Make three different bets at a craps table. Never played.

37. Shuffle a deck of cards. Actually quite good at it.

38. Tell a joke. No, I suck at it. I can say funny things, but I can’t even REMEMBER jokes.

39. Know when to split his cards in blackjack. I’ll just check here; even before looking at that, I knew you always split 8s, but I didn’t know why.

40. Speak to an eight-year-old so he will hear. I have.

41. Speak to a waiter so he will hear. I have.

42. Talk to a dog so it will hear. I have, but not very often.

43. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. Well, a light bulb.

44. Ask for help. Absolutely.

45. Break another man’s grip on his wrist. Hasn’t come up.

46. Tell a woman’s dress size. If women’s dress sizes were standardized, maybe this would be useful.

47. Recite one poem from memory. “There once was a girl from Cape Cod…”

48. Remove a stain. I have.

49. Say no. Sometimes, more now that before.

50. Fry an egg sunny-side up. Yes.

51. Build a campfire. Another skill everybody should have, probably.

52. Step into a job no one wants to do. Happens a lot.

53. Sometimes, kick some ass. Define.

54. Break up a fight. Have done this.

55. Point to the north at any time. Sometimes, not always.

56. Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person. Have done.

57. Explain what a light-year is. I can do this.

58. Avoid boredom. I’m almost never bored, left to my own devices.

59. Write a thank-you note. I can, but don’t do enough.

60. Be brand loyal to at least one product. There must be one; it’s not coming to me.

61. Cook bacon. Yes.

62. Hold a baby. Yes, but not until Carol was pregnant.

63. Deliver a eulogy. Yes.

64. Know that Christopher Columbus was a son of a bitch. Sure.

65-67. Thro
w a baseball over-hand with some snap. Throw a football with a tight spiral. Shoot a 12-foot jump shot reliably. I used to; I have by accident; I suck at basketball.

68. Find his way out of the woods if lost. Have done it.

69. Tie a knot. Have.

70. Shake hands. It IS skill. Yes.

71. Iron a shirt. Can. Don’t like to.

72. Stock an emergency bag for the car. Yup.

73. Caress a woman’s neck. Oh, yes. And speak the language of love! (Not French, either.)

74. Know some birds – But only ornithologically.

75. Negotiate a better price. I hate haggling. I’ve done it, but was more of “I just won’t pay that much” and the dealer started the offering me a deal.