Category Archives: lists

EW 100 Greatest Characters of Last 20 Years

Entertainment Weekly, to which I have a subscription and sometimes actually read, has one of THOSE lists. Naturally, they’re subjective, but I’m assuming they are supposed to capture not just popularity but the zeitgeist of the characters mentioned.

For some reason, I feel compelled to comment. Feel free to suggest who you would move up or down, or add or remove from the list. My comment of “yes” means that it’s placed more or less correctly on the list.

1. Homer Simpson – The Simpsons. The word d’oh has made it into the dictionary. Interesting how the program went from being Bart’s show to Homer’s. Homer has engendered theological discussion.
2. Harry Potter – seven books, the last five or six of which got people to stay up past midnight to pick up. Plus six films (and counting) plus a theme park. Arguably, could be #1.
3. Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Phenom, yet I think it’s a little high; maybe top 20.
4. Tony Soprano – The Sopranos. Never saw but four minutes of this, yet there was no arguing about the significance of the DEEPLY flawed character.
5. The Joker – The Dark Knight. Great performance and tragic ending, but can’t help but wonder if people will still be talking about it in 10 years.
6. Rachel Green – Friends. If for the hairdo alone.
7. Edward Scissorhands. I liked this movie, but I think it’s too high on the list.
8. Hannibal Lecter – The Silence of the Lambs. Couldn’t get through the movie, yet I can quote dialogue from it. Definitely worthy of its placement.
9. Carrie Bradshaw – Sex and the City. Even if you hate the series, and apparently the second movie is cringe-inducing, significant.
10. Spongebob Squarepants – lots of adults actually watch this, including some that i know. Yes.

11. Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld. Yes.
12. Fox Mulder & Dana Scully – The X-Files. Yes.
13. Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean. Saw the first movie. More worthy choice of a Johnny Depp role that #7.
14. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski – The Big Lebowski. Possibly should be in the Top 10.
15. Shrek – Sure.
16. Bridget Jones – It WAS a phenom for a time, wasn’t it?
17. Lara Croft – not my cuppa, but seems rightly placed on the list.
18. Sue Sylvester – Glee. I LOVE this character. Still, I think it’s an awfully high ranking for a show with such a short history, compared to other choices.
19. Morpheus – The Matrix. Sure.
20. Ally McBeal – made the cover of TIME magazine re: the death of feminism, which wasn’t the message of the show, I don’t think. Worthy choice.

21. Rosanne Conner – she became the epitome of some blue-collar ethos. Yes.
22. Cartman – South Park. Guess so.
23. Austin Powers – shagalicious; is that still a word? (Was it ever?) Yes.
24. Felicity Porter – I know her getting a haircut was apparently a national tragedy, but this feels too high.
25. Woody – Toy Story. wouldn’t have thought of him, but yes.
26. Kavalier & Clay – comic book novel done right, but did it have a larger reach? Seems high.
27. Frasier Crane – as the epitome of a smart person lacking self-awareness, yes.
28. Madea – Tyler Perry’s creation is more popular than some folks might think; yes.
29. Vincent Vega & Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction. Yes, the smart dialogue reached well beyond those who actually saw the movie, which spawned countless imitators.
30. Stephen Colbert – The Colbert Report. Yes, though it wouldn’t have occurred to me to include.

31. Forrest Gump -Yes, you can quote lines from this movie, even if you didn’t particularly like it.
32. Bevis and Butt-Head -Yes, I’m afraid so.
33. Sarah Connor – Terminator 2 – Yes.
34. Cher – Clueless. saw the movie, recall enjoying the movie, but seems a bit high.
35. Dexter Morgan – Dexter. Haven’t seen one minute of this, yet I know a great deal about it. Maybe a little high.
36. Gollum – Lord of the Rings. Yes, that technological magic.
37. Kyser Söze – The Usual Suspects. Had its day in the sun, but too high on the list.
38. Elmo – Sesame Street. WAY too low. This is the go-to Muppet. If you’ve watched Sesame Street, he has his own segment. Toys with his likeness became difficult to find.
39. GOB Bluth – Arrested Development. Great character, and the actor is great on 30 Rock, but I think, most people wouldn’t know the name. Too high.
40. Ron Burgundy – Anchorman. Yes, though I never saw the film.

41. Harold and Kumar -Yes.
42. Sydney Bristow – Alias – Yes.
43. Cal Stephanides – Middlesex – Can’t say; don’t know it at all. Which, by definition, means too high.
44. Jack Bauer – 24. WAY too low. As much as I grew to dislike the character, “Jack Bauer” became code word for a certain tough, take no prisoners, do what you have to do attitude. Should be Top 10.

45. Stewie Griffin – Family Guy. Just caught a bit of Family Guy; remember why so many hate it. Yes.
46. Jerry Maguire – has a couple catchphrases said TO him, involving money and hello; too low.
47. Corky St. Clair – Waiting for Guffman. I love this movie, but I doubt its impact in the broader market. Too high.
48. Red – The Shawshank Redemption. Yes, from a movie with so-so box office, it’s done extremely well as a rental.
49. Vivian Ward – Pretty Woman. Had all sorts of sociological conversations about the Cinderella aspect of the story. Made Julia Roberts’ career. Yes.
50. Pearl the Landlord – Funny or Die video. Do people who aren’t online even know what this is? The first one I saw was funny, though it lost its enjoyment. Too high.

51. Omar Little – The Wire. the show as a whole is influential beyond its viewership. But do people know the individual characters? Too high.
52. Annie Wilkes – Misery. Yes. Saw this.
53. Edward Cullen – Twilight. As much as I’m REALLY NOT interested, this may be a bit too low, considering the phenomenon.
54. Juno – Yes. briefly was the source of debate about abortion, choice and how to deal with teen pregnancy.
55. Tracy Jordan – 30 Rock. Hmm. I would have picked Liz or even Jack from the show. Maybe a little high.
56. Barney Stinson – How I Met Your Mother -Yes, and it’s done wonders for Neil Patrick Harris’ career to boot.
57. Clayton Bigsby (blind white supremacist) – Chappelle’s Show. Was this watercooler conversation? Feels a little high.
58. Thelma & Louise – THE female buddy movie. The ending was greatly debated. Yes.
59. Master Chief – Halo. I’m the wrong demographic, but seems high.
60. Mary Jones – Precious. with the book, and the movie, yes or a little high.

61. Vic Mackey – The Shield. Yes. the epitome of the conflicted cop.
62. Jimmy Corrigan – Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Yes.
63. John Locke – Lost. Yes, or maybe it’s a little low.
64. Maximus – Gladiator. Yes.
65. Lorelai & Rory Gilmore – Gilmore Girls. Yes. I watched every episode.

66. Allie & Noah – The Notebook. Yes, I guess.
67. Borat – Yes, or maybe a little low. Generated a national controversy about taste and honesty. Did not see myself either film.
68. (Jennifer Hudson’s) Effie White – Dreamgirls. Yes. The debate here was whether it was appropriate to applaud in the movie theater after her big number, given the fact that the performer couldn’t hear it. (I say, “Why not?” If you can laugh at a comedy, or cry at a melodramatic moment…)
69. Miranda Priestly – The Devil Wears Prada. Yes.
70. Mary Katherine Gallagher – SNL, Superstar. REALLY? Seems high.

71. Det. Alonzo Harris – Training Day. You do know Denzel really got his Oscar for his other roles. Seems high.
72. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace – Battlestar Galactica. Yes.
73. Catherine Tramell – Basic Instinct. Oh, yes, if only for the interrogation scene and the dearth of vital apparel.
74. Don Draper – Mad Men. Yes, even though I’ve never seen it, the show has generated conversation about truth in advertising, women’s roles, and smoking. This character’s confused identity is a plus.
75. David Brent – The Office. Yes, without whom there would be no Michael Scott or other Office managers around the globe.
76. Tyler Durden – Fight Club. Yes.
77. Mimi Marquez – Rent. Yes, a moving musical.
78. Patty Hewes – Damages. Glenn Close’s award-winning performances. The reach is greater than the ratings. Yes.
79. Elphaba – Wicked. in both book and musical, it’s about seeing things from someone else’s POV. Yes.
80. Gorillaz, the world’s greatest virtual band (supplanting The Archies?) Yes.

81. Amanda Woodward – Melrose Place. No fan of the show, even I know this is Heather Locklear’s character. Yes.
82. Tracy Flick – Election. Great movie, but do people know this character?
83. Jen Yu – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yes.
84. House – Yes to Doctor Grumpy.
85. Daniel Plainview – There Will Be Blood. Great performance, but will people still be talking about this movie?
86. Karen Walker & Jack McFarland – Will & Grace – Yes.
87. Tony Stark – Iron Man. Yes.
88. Napoleon Dynamite. Having never seen this, nevertheless think this is too low; gets mentioned often.
89. Wilkus van de Merwe – District 9. Saw this. Time will tell if this is too high or low.
90. Marge Gunderson – Fargo. Ah yup. I mean yes.

91. Hancock – REALLY? It was a popular movie, but will anyone care later? If I wanted a Will Smith role, I’d pick the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or with Tommy Lee Jones, Men in Black.
92. Christopher Boone – The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time – don’t know enough about it.
93. “Game Boys”: Nathan Drake – Uncharted, Kratos – God of War, Niko Bellic – Grand Theft Auto IV – certainly GTA has a huge sociological significance. Don’t know the particular players.
94. Truman – The Truman Show. YES. What’s real? Seems to presage the glut of reality TV we are exposed to.

95. Wilhelmina Slater – Ugly Betty. Yes to Vanessa Williams’ role.
96. Bernie Mac – The Bernie Mac Show. Yes
97. Violet Weston – August: Osage County. From a Broadway play that’s now touring, don’t know enough about this character.
98. Lisbeth Salander – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Don’t know.
99. The Bride – Kill Bill. Yes. Totally NOT interested in seeing this, yet I know all about it.
100. Tim Riggins – Friday Night Lights. Yes. Probably a show I should watch.

P is for Popular Mechanics

I suppose I could have done a piece on politics or Presidents. I’m still processing (a good P word) on that concept of President-elect Obama, which makes this only the second time I’ve voted for a Presidential candidate who actually won. Maybe next time through the alphabet I’ll expound on that.

Meanwhile, there was this list in Popular Mechanics magazine back in September about 100 Skills Every Man Should Know: 2008’s Ultimate DIY List, which noted that “Brains and charm are fine, but a real guy needs to know how to do real stuff.”

There were lots of comments about should and should not have been on the list, but I won’t go there except that it tended to be carrist, i.e., automobile-oriented. This quiz does push some buttons for me, though, in that I am not what people would consider “handy”. What they used to call Shop in 7th and 8th grades, dealing with wood and ceramics was a disaster for me.


1. Handle a blowout – I suppose no
2. Drive in snow – no
3. Check trouble codes – what does this mean? Look at the gauges? That I can do.
4. Replace fan belt – no
5. Wax a car – this I’ve done, but not in a long time
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle – I don’t even know what that means, but I’ll say no
7. Use a stick welder – if I knew what a stick welder was, that would help
8. Hitch up a trailer – have done, though not lately
9. Jump start a car – have done this, but not lately

Handling Emergencies

10. Perform the Heimlich – I’ve actually successfully done this
11. Reverse hypothermia – I could do that
12. Perform hands-only CPR – I’ve actually trained to do that
13. Escape a sinking car – I had a recurring dream as a child about a sinking car; I think I could

14. Carve a turkey – have done it
15. Use a sewing machine – not well
16. Put out a fire – yes, actually
17. Home brew beer – disinclined
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric – seems as though I’ve done this
19. Move heavy stuff – I’ve helped on over 100 moves, including a piano
20. Grow food – done this a few years ago
21. Read an electric meter – actually one thing I used to do all the time as a kid

22. Shovel the right way – I don’t know what that means. But I do have an ergonomically correct shovel, so I’ll say yes.
23. Solder wire – have done it
24. Tape drywall – have done it, did not enjoy
25. Split firewood – have done a while back
26. Replace a faucet washer – did this a while ago
27. Mix concrete – for some reason, did this, though not lately
28. Paint a straight line – not really, unless I’m using a straight edge
29. Use a French knife – don’t know
30. Prune bushes and small trees – actually think I’m good at this; did it this summer
31. Iron a shirt – I can, but I don’t enjoy it; that’s why God created permanent press
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper – one of those things I was curious about as a kid and actually figured out
33. Change a single-pole switch – no
34. Fell a tree – never have even tried
35. Replace a broken windowpane – never tried
36. Set up a ladder, safely – I assume so
37. Fix a faucet cartridge – I’ll say no
38. Sweat copper tubing – have done
39. Change a diaper – this I absolutely have accomplished
40. Grill with charcoal -yeah, but not lately
41. Sew a button on a shirt – I’ll say no. I’ve actually done it, but it always takes me so long doing and redoing that I feel peevish.
42. Fold a flag – I’d need the manual, but I used to do it in Cub Scouts

Medical Myths

43. Treat frostbite – yes
44. Treat a burn -yes
45. Help a seizure victim – yes, on a city bus in Albany
46. Treat a snakebite – I’ve read how
47. Remove a tick – yes

Military Know-How
48. Shine shoes – I was actually good at this at one point
49. Make a drum-tight bed – absolutely not
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup – define “perfect”

51. Run rapids in a canoe – no
52. Hang food in the wild – ? let’s just say no
53. Skipper a boat – no
54. Shoot straight – no
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike – no thank you
56. Escape a rip current – I did this once, but I don’t know how

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness – probably not
58. Build a shelter – maybe
59. Find potable water – possibly

Surviving Extremes

60. Floods – haven’t yet
61. Tornadoes – ditto
62. Cold – yes
63. Heat – yes
64. Lightning – hasn’t been an issue

Teach Your Kids

65. Cast a line – no
66. Lend a hand – I try
67. Change a tire – she’s not even five
68. Throw a spiral – ditto
69. Fly a stunt kite – what’s “stunt kite”?
70. Drive a stick shift – no way
71. Parallel park – no
72. Tie a bowline – ?
73. Tie a necktie – maybe someday
74. Whittle – I don’t whittle
75. Ride a bike – eventually; she has a trike

76. In
stall a graphics card – I don’t do
77. Take the perfect portrait – trial and error
78. Calibrate HDTV settings – not yet applicable
79. Shoot a home movie – no
80. Ditch your hard drive – no

Master Key Workshop Tools
81. Drill driver – no
82. Grease gun – no
83. Coolant hydrometer – ? no
84. Socket wrench – possibly
85. Test light – ?
86. Brick trowel – no
87. Framing hammer – ?
88. Wood chisel – we have one
89. Spade bit – ?
90. Circular saw – we don’t have one
91. Sledge hammer – have used one
92. Hacksaw – had one
93. Torque wrench – have used
94. Air wrench – ?
95. Infrared thermometer – no
96. Sand blaster – no
97. Crosscut saw – have used one
98. Hand plane – used one and ruined perfectly good items in shop
99. Multimeter – ?
100. Feeler gauges ?

Obviously, my very manhood is threatened.

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.


I Surrender

There has been an outbreak of listomania amongst the bloggers I read. (Not to be confused with Lisztomania, starring Roger Daltry. I have resisted thus far, yet I find my resolve pretty much shot.

The Top 10 films in 10 categories that the AFI put out in a special last month which I have recorded but not watched; this week for sure.
* means I saw.

*1. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, 1937 – haven’t seen in years
*2. Pinocchio, 1940 – haven’t seen in even longer; those Disney movies used to get re-released every seven years when I was growing it, it seemed, so it was probably 1961
*3. Bambi, 1942 – Ditto, but 1963. Scared the heck out of me.
*4. The Lion King, 1994 – I liked it fine.
*5. Fantasia, 1940 – Actually own on VHS, own the soundtrack. There are slow spots, but the good stuff is really great.
* 6. Toy Story, 1995 – like a lot, though I like its successor much better
7. Beauty And The Beast, 1991 – have I actually seen this all the way through? I’ve seen so many segments.
*8. Shrek, 2001 – I like it, and I own it on VHS – it was a gift – but I’d put any of the Pixar films I’ve seen ahead of it, which is all of them save for Cars and WALL-E.
*9. Cinderella, 1950 – but not since 1964
*10. Finding Nemo, 2003 – interestingly, there are chase scenes that terrified my daughter last Christmas when we were at a party, like Bambi freaked me out.
Most egregious omission. The Iron Giant should most definitely be here.

*1. The Wizard Of Oz, 1939 – one of my all-time favorites.
*2. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, 2001 – I think I’m just not a fantasy guy. Never read the books – I got about 50 pages into The Hobbit – and after seeing this movie, never saw the other two. I know “Horrors!”
*3. It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946 – stretches the meaning of the category, I suppose. Actively avoided until my wife nagged me to see it; much better than I would have thought.
*4. King Kong, 1933 – need to see again.
*5. Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 – ditto.
*6. Field Of Dreams, 1989 – was skimming someone’s list and complained that this wasn’t on the sports list. Probably my favorite sports film, now that I think of it.
7. Harvey, 1950 – would see scenes on TV.
*8. Groundhog Day, 1993 – Top 5 film, irrespective of genre. Own on VHS.
9. The Thief Of Baghdad, 1924
*10. Big, 1988 – has great scenes; I have it on VHS, so sometime, I’ll have to see if it holds up.
Most egregious omission: The Princess Bride

Science Fiction
*1. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968 – I’ll admit it; I don’t quite “get” it.
*2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977 – everyone says, probably correctly, that Empire Strikes Back is better, but this is the blueprint; Top 25 movie, probably Top 10 for me.
*3. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982 – Dare I say this? I HATED the end of this movie, and I liked it until then. Maybe I was having a bad day.
*4. A Clockwork Orange, 1971 – Horrified me. Own, love the soundtrack, though.
*5. The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1951 – need to see again.
6. Blade Runner, 1982 – probably should see.
*7. Alien, 1979 – it was good for what it was. Never saw the sequels.
*8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991 – I’ve seen on commercial TV, which distorts the watching process tremendously.
*9. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, 1956 – prefer to the 1978 remake.
*10. Back To The Future, 1985 – seen so many times on TV, practically know by heart.

*1. Raging Bull, 1980 – as I noted here, the DVD extras helped me appreciate it more. Still, it’s a film at arm’s length.
*2. Rocky, 1976 – saw this in a Charlotte, NC movie theater with my mother. Liked it more than i thought I would.
*3. The Pride Of The Yankees, 1942 – sob. It’s been years, though.
*4. Hoosiers, 1986 – saw on video this century. Liked it.
*5. Bull Durham, 1988 – great choice.
*6. The Hustler, 1961 – it’s been years.
7. Caddyshack, 1980 – did I see this? Again, one sees clips and scenes, but possibly not the whole thing.
*8. Breaking Away, 1979 – I liked this a lot at the time but wonder if it aged well.
9. National Velvet, 1944 – seen scenes.
*10. Jerry Maguire, 1996 – liked well enough.
Most egregious omission: A League of Their Own,

1. The Searchers, 1956 – haven’t seen.
*2. High Noon, 1952 – good in the genre.
3. Shane, 1953 – know I’ve seen the ending.
4. Unforgiven, 1992 – this is when Eastwood started becoming a filmmaker.
5. Red River, 1948 – nope.
6. The Wild Bunch, 1969 – studiously avoided Peckinpah at the time.
7. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, 1969 – great affection for this film.
8. McCabe And Mrs. Miller, 1971 – Tom the Dog has me wanting to see this one.
9. Stagecoach, 1939
10. Cat Ballou, 1965

Not really my genre.
*1. The Godfather, 1972
*2. Goodfellas, 1990
3. The Godfather Part II, 1974
4. White Heat, 1949
5. Bonnie And Clyde, 1967
6. Scarface: The Shame Of The Nation, 1932
7. Pulp Fiction, 1994 – if it weren’t so darn funny, my wife wouldn’t have gotten through it. Own the soundtrack.
8. The Public Enemy, 1931
9. Little Caesar, 1931
10. Scarface, 1983

1. Vertigo, 1958
*2. Chinatown, 1974 -saw it, did not love it.
*3. Rear Window, 1954 – saw in a theatrical re-release. LOVE it.
4. Laura, 1944
5. The Third Man, 1949
6. The Maltese Falcon, 1941
7. North By Northwest, 1959
8. Blue Velvet, 1986
9. Dial M For Murder, 1954
*10. The Usual Suspects, 1995 – I suspect this has not aged well.
Seems I’ve seen scenes of 6, 7, and 9.

Romantic Comedies
*1. City Lights, 1931 – sweet.
*2. Annie Hall, 1977 – my linchpin film. Seen four times in the theater. Own on VHS.
3. It Happened One Night, 1934
*4. Roman Holiday, 1953 – saw on TV not so long ago, enjoyed.
*5. The Philadelphia Story, 1940 – saw on commercial TV and enjoyed it anyway.
*6. When Harry Met Sally…, 1989 – liked, didn’t love and haven’t seen since (well, except that scene…)
*7. Adam’s Rib, 1949 – TV film; seemed enjoyable when I saw it years ago
*8. Moonstruck, 1987 – that I remember it as well as I do over 20 years later speaks well of it.
*9. Harold And Maude, 1971 – need to see again.
*10. Sleepless In Seattle, 1993 – it was OK

Courtroom Drama
I’m a sucker for these, including TV shows (The Defenders, Judd fore the defense, the lawyers’ segment of the Bold Ones, and, of course, Perry Mason)
*1. To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962 – saw again last summer Stellar.
*2. 12 Angry Men, 1957 – only a tad dated, and the core message holds. Own on DVD.
*3. Kramer Vs. Kramer, 1979 does this age well?
*4. The Verdict, 1982 – I loved Newman in this.
*5. A Few Good Men, 1992 – except for the courtroom scenes, this is fading from memory
6. Witness For The Prosecution, 1957
7. Anatomy of a Murder, 1959
8. In Cold Blood, 1967
9. A Cry In The Dark, 1988
10. Judgment At Nuremberg, 1961

1. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
*2. Ben-Hur, 1959 – saw on commercial TV, which I suspect doesn’t do it justice. Still had some exciting bits.
3. Schindler’s List, 1993 – yes, this is an epic. Saw once, talked about it for longer than it ran, will never see again, but glad I saw it and think that anyone who claims to love film should.
4. Gone With The Wind, 1939 – can’t, I just can’t. And I’ve actually tried.
5. Spartacus, 1960 – bits and pieces.
*6. Titanic, 1997 – don’t hate it.
7. All Quiet On The Western Front, 1930
8. Saving Private Ryan, 1998
*9. Reds,
1981 – this was SO long, it had an intermission. Should have stopped with the first half.
*10. The Ten Commandments, 1956 – hysterically funny.


The bachelor list

I’m so happy that Kristi Yamaguchi won American Idol and that David Cook won Dancing with the Stars. Wait a minute, that’s not right…

My wife, who IS happy Kristi won on Dancing, and daughter, who was rooting for some guy (hey, I don’t watch), are going away this weekend to visit the parents/grandparents. Oh, boy, this means I can set my own agenda! Come now – on these rare occasions, there’s always a list. Surprisingly, only a couple of them have come from my wife, and a bunch of it comes from my internal sense of responsibility. In roughly the order of importance:
* Pay some bills. I ran out of checks last week. While most things I have paid automatically or online, there are a couple that I hadn’t set up or aren’t available to be paid that way.
* Burn some CDs for some people; they know who they are.
* Cut the grass. I have a standard, Roger-powered machine, and if I don’t cut it every week (or even more frequently), I’ll have go borrow someone’s gas-driven machine.
* Move a bunch of CDs from the inconvenient furniture we bought a few years ago to some drawers I bought at a library auction a couple weeks ago. A MASSIVE undertaking I’ll probably do in sections.
* See the movie Iron Man. If I don’t see it now, I’ll never see it.
* Watch two movies on DVD that I borrowed MONTHS ago from friends and haven’t seen yet, Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks, and Independence Day. I’ve never seen either of them.
* Take the CD player to the shop to see if I can get it to work. It doesn’t seem to recognize that there is actually a CD IN the machine on a regular basis. I end up using the boom box, if I can wrestle it from my daughter.
* Read a week’s worth of newspapers.
* Watch at least some recorded TV.
* Write two blog pieces that have been floating in my mind for weeks, plus some ten-part thing I started a while ago, for which I BLAME TOSY.
* Get printer cartridges. I used up the last black one, and the color one just doesn’t work.
Then there’s church on Sunday morning and cleaning and laundry at some point. The problem with The List is that it’s always longer than the amount of time available to do the items on The List.


“Life Changing” gadgets

Last month, USA TODAY recently came out with their top 25 “Life Changing” gadgets, services, and inventions since 1982. Here is their list in their order of importance, and my opinion of same.

1. Cellphones – OK, it’s life-changing, but is it a good thing to be available 24/7?
2. Laptops – I now actually covet one.
3. Blackberrys – this is a technology that has entirely passed me by.
4. Debit cards – much of the protection one has purchasing on a credit card, such as challenging a charge, is lost on a debit card. I have one, which I use at the ATM.
5. Caller ID – I LOVE CALLER ID. Sometimes, I’m watching TV and the caller ID will show up on the screen; I can, and do, decide whether or not to answer. (Hint: if the ID says “unavailable”, I’m not.)
6. DVDs – I have some, and a player. It WAS one of the fastest accepted technologies.
7. Lithium rechargeable batteries – I have a few, but is this as wide-spread as some of the others?
8. IPods – don’t have one, but recognize they’re ubiquitous, even without me.
9. Pay at the pump – I’m surprised that there are ANY gas stations that don’t require some sort of pre-payment, given the propensity of some to “pump and run”. Use this one a lot.
10. Lettuce in a bag – I suppose this is a category that also covers spinach in a bag, pre-shredded cheese, and all of those things that offer “convenience” at a price.
11. Digital cameras – should get one someday, as I do recognize their value.
12. Doppler radar – it does make for pretty pictures during a storm.
13. Flat-panel TVs – maybe next time. My current TV I bought in 1987. Doesn’t have SAP or the V-chip.
14. Electronic tolls – NYS has E-Z Pass on the Thruway which is also accepted in Massachusetts and some neighboring states. It’s convenient, it saves gas, but it feels a little Big Brother to me.
15. PowerPoint – the 20th anniversary of PowerPoint was earlier this year. I’ve sat through innumerable PP presentations. I’ve DONE PP presentations.
16. Microwave popcorn – the popcorn manufacturers are right; sometimes, it’s two and a half minutes in one machine, four minutes in another.
17. High tech footwear – my daughter has shoes that light up when she walks. She LOVES this.
18. Online stock trading – making stock traders even more crazy.
19. Big Bertha golf clubs – couldn’t say.
20. Disposable contact lenses – my wife uses.
21. StairMaster – I find this amazingly boring to do.
22. Tivo – I LOVE the DVR, which isn’t Tivo, but close enough. Time-shifting my TV watching, I like. What I DON’T like is that I record more than I have time to watch.
23. Purell – do hand sanitizers really work? My wife uses them, and if she offers, I use them too, but I’m not convinced of their efficacy.
24. Home satellite TV – still have cable.
25. Karaoke – I’ve never done karaoke, but acknowledge that maybe one or two others have.

There are things that do seem to be missing from the list: Google, which is the way many people think they can find all the information they need; YouTube, which is not only an entertainment vehicle, but has had an impact on Presidential politics already; GPS, which provides us more sophisticated ways to get lost; Viagra/Cialis and all of the other drugs we need, or think we do; DNA testing, which has been HUGE in freeing people wrongly accused; e-mail, which maybe they’ve taken for granted; and of course, blogs. I think if I were doing the list, some or all of the above would make it, and golf clubs and Stairmasters, for sure, would be off.