Tag: List

5 Best Movies of 2021

5 movies I saw this past year and recommend, blurbs via IMDB.

Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Feature documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity.

Licorice Pizza

The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.

Nightmare Alley

An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

A documentary about Anthony Bourdain and his career as a chef, writer and host, revered and renowned for his authentic approach to food, culture and travel.


Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.

5 Movies I Saw in 2021 that Weren’t Released in 2021

5 movies that I watched this year and recommend. Blurbs via Amazon.

My Dinner with Andre – 1981

In Louis Malle’s captivating and philosophical My Dinner with André, actor and playwright Wallace Shawn sits down with friend and theater director André Gregory at an Upper West Side restaurant, and the two proceed into an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional on love, death, money, and all the superstition in between.

The Source Family – 2013

The Source Family’s outlandish lifestyle made them the darlings of Hollywood; but their outsider ideals and spiritual leader, Father Yod, caused controversy with local authorities.

The Overnighters  – 2014

A modern-day Grapes of Wrath, award-winning documentary THE OVERNIGHTERS is a portrait of job-seekers desperately chasing the American Dream to the tiny oil boom town of Williston, North Dakota.

Bad Times at the El Royale – 2018

Several strangers meet up at a rundown Lake Tahoe hotel in 1969 for a violent and fateful night filled with wild twists and turns.

Collective – 2020

Follow a heroic team of journalists as they uncover shocking corruption in the Romanian national healthcare system. Take an up-close look as the Gazette team methodically discovers layer upon layer of unbridled fraud and criminal malfeasance.

5 Books I Read in 2021 That Weren’t Published in 2021

These were some books that I read in 21 and recommend. In no particular order and blurbs via Amazon.

Robert Mason

A true, bestselling story from the battlefield that faithfully portrays the horror, the madness, and the trauma of the Vietnam War

More than half a million copies of Chickenhawk have been sold since it was first published in 1983. Now with a new afterword by the author and photographs taken by him during the conflict, this straight-from-the-shoulder account tells the electrifying truth about the helicopter war in Vietnam. This is Robert Mason’s astounding personal story of men at war. A veteran of more than one thousand combat missions, Mason gives staggering descriptions that cut to the heart of the combat experience: the fear and belligerence, the quiet insights and raging madness, the lasting friendships and sudden death—the extreme emotions of a “chickenhawk” in constant danger.

So, Anyway
John Cleese

John Cleese’s huge comedic influence has stretched across generations; his sharp irreverent eye and the unique brand of physical comedy he perfected now seem written into comedy’s DNA. In this rollicking memoir, Cleese recalls his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town, his early comedic days at Cambridge University (with future Python partner Graham Chapman), and the founding of the landmark comedy troupe that would propel him to worldwide renown.

Cleese was just days away from graduating Cambridge and setting off on a law career when he was visited by two BBC executives, who offered him a job writing comedy for radio. That fateful moment—and a near-simultaneous offer to take his university humor revue to London’s famed West End—propelled him down a different path, cutting his teeth writing for stars like David Frost and Peter Sellers, and eventually joining the five other Pythons to pioneer a new kind of comedy that prized invention, silliness, and absurdity. Along the way, he found his first true love with the actress Connie Booth and transformed himself from a reluctant performer to a world class actor and back again.

Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, & Dismissed
Annabelle Gurwitch (Author), Bill Maher (Contributor), Felicity Huffman (Contributor), Bob Saget (Contributor), Robert Reich (Contributor), et al

Gurwitch’s popular Web site (www.firedbyannabellegurwitch.com) entices people to turn in their best tales of their worst firings; the cream of that crop is gathered in this star-studded collection of misery. The book is divided into chapters with titles like “The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired” and “The Time You Deserved to Be Fired,” but mostly it’s just tales of horrible things happening to funny people. Gurwitch’s own piece—in which she’s canned from her role in a play written and directed by an officious Woody Allen, who told her “You look retarded”—is par for the course, with its droll humor and dash of celebrity. Comedians Bill Maher, D.L. Hughley, Bob Saget and Andy Borowitz all get in their zingers, while Illeana Douglas composes a poem that ranges from getting fired as a coat check girl (“How is it/possible to be fired hanging coats?/I have arms. I know what coats are”) to high farce with borderline psychotic filmmakers. The few noncelebrities invited to share their woes are generally less funny, though they tend to be more unpredictable, such as the ex–White House chef who provides a nice recipe for seared scallops.

The Last Face You’ll Ever See: The Culture of Death Row 
Ivan Solotaroff

In fascinating detail, Ivan Solotaroff introduces us to the men who carry out executions. Although the emphasis is on the personal lives of these men and of those they have to put to death, The Last Face You’ll Ever See also addresses some of the deeper issues of the death penalty and connects the veiled, elusive figure of the executioner to the vast majority of Americans who, since 1977, have claimed to support executions. Why do we do it? Or, more exactly, why do we want to?

The Last Face You’ll Ever See is not about the polarizing issues of the death penalty — it is a firsthand report about the culture of executions: the executioners, the death-row inmates, and everyone involved in the act. An engrossing, unsettling, and provocative book, this work will forever affect anyone who reads it.

The Last Taxi Driver
Lee Durkee

Hailed by George Saunders as “a true original—a wise and wildly talented writer,” Lee Durkee takes readers on a high-stakes cab ride through an unforgettable shift. Meet Lou—a lapsed novelist, struggling Buddhist, and UFO fan—who drives for a ramshackle taxi company that operates on the outskirts of a north Mississippi college town. With Uber moving into town and his way of life vanishing, his girlfriend moving out, and his archenemy dispatcher suddenly returning to town on the lam, Lou must finish his bedlam shift by aiding and abetting the host of criminal misfits haunting the back seat of his disintegrating Town Car. Lou is forced to decide how much he can take as a driver, and whether keeping his job is worth madness and heartbreak.

Here’s last years version of this list:
9 Books I Read in 2020 That Weren’t Published in 2020

The 5 Best Books of 2021

Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Selections mine, blurbs via Amazon.

Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood
Danny Trejo with Donal Logue

On screen, Danny Trejo the actor is a baddie who has been killed at least a hundred times. He’s been shot, stabbed, hanged, chopped up, squished by an elevator, and once, was even melted into a bloody goo. Off screen, he’s a hero beloved by recovery communities and obsessed fans alike. But the real Danny Trejo is much more complicated than the legend.

Raised in an abusive home, Danny struggled with heroin addiction and stints in some of the country’s most notorious state prisons—including San Quentin and Folsom—from an early age, before starring in such modern classics as Heat, From Dusk till Dawn, and Machete. Now, in this funny, painful, and suspenseful memoir, Danny takes us through the incredible ups and downs of his life, including meeting one of the world’s most notorious serial killers in prison and working with legends like Charles Bronson and Robert De Niro.

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City
Andrea Elliott

Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. Dasani was named after the bottled water that signaled Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her family, tracing the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, the homeless crisis in New York City has exploded amid the deepening chasm between rich and poor.

Dasani must guide her siblings through a city riddled by hunger, violence, drug addiction, homelessness, and the monitoring of child protection services. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter to protect the ones she loves. When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself?

The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown
Michael Patrick F. Smith

Like thousands of restless men left unmoored in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, Michael Patrick Smith arrived in the fracking boomtown of Williston, North Dakota five years later homeless, unemployed, and desperate for a job. Renting a mattress on a dirty flophouse floor, he slept boot to beard with migrant men who came from all across America and as far away as Jamaica, Africa and the Philippines. They ate together, drank together, argued like crows and searched for jobs they couldn’t get back home. Smith’s goal was to find the hardest work he could do–to find out if he could do it. He hired on in the oil patch where he toiled fourteen hour shifts from summer’s 100 degree dog days to deep into winter’s bracing whiteouts, all the while wrestling with the demons of a turbulent past, his broken relationships with women, and the haunted memories of a family riven by violence.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel
Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited first work of fiction—at once hilarious, delicious and brutal—is the always surprising, sometimes shocking, novelization of his Academy Award winning film.

RICK DALTON—Once he had his own TV series, but now Rick’s a washed-up villain-of-the week drowning his sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it?

CLIFF BOOTH—Rick’s stunt double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he’s the only one there who might have got away with murder. . . .

SHARON TATE—She left Texas to chase a movie-star dream, and found it. Sharon’s salad days are now spent on Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills.

CHARLES MANSON—The ex-con’s got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he’s their spiritual leader, but he’d trade it all to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.

Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency
Michael Wolff

Politics has given us some shocking and confounding moments but none have come close to the careening final days of Donald Trump’s presidency: the surreal stage management of his re-election campaign, his audacious election challenge, the harrowing mayhem of the storming of the Capitol and the buffoonery of the second impeachment trial. But what was really going on in the inner sanctum of the White House during these calamitous events? What did the president and his dwindling cadre of loyalists actually believe? And what were they planning?

See also the Best Books of 2020

Worst Movies of 1972

The Ten Worst Movies Of 1972 *
Vincent Canby
Jan. 7, 1973

Mary, Queen of Scots, directed by Charles Jarrott
what I recall about this film most vividly is its complete lack of urgency. It’s a Christmas card sale in January.

Young Winston, directed by Richard Attenborough
“Young Winston” is one of those movie biographies in which a character asks the great‐man‐to‐be: “What’s ever to become of you?”

The Man, directed by Joseph Sargent
According to a long‐popular myth, some movies are so bad they’re good. If it’s possible, though, I doubt it, you might describe “The Man” that way.

The Public Eye, directed by Carol Reed
It takes Topol, who gives what is positively the year’s worst performance as a lovable private detective, to reunite the couple. The film spends so much time sight‐seeing around London you might reasonably wonder if it was financed by BOAC.

Portnoy’s Complaint, directed by Ernest Lehman
Roth’s hugely funny, dirty, first‐person narrative becomes embarrassingly crude and show‐offy.

A Place Called Today, directed and written by Don Schain
This is my sentimental choice as the most horrible film of the year, one of the two soft‐core porn films of 1972 that, starred Cheri Caffaro

The War Between Men and Women, directed by Melville Shavelson
This was undoubtedly the year’s most peculiarly mixed‐up comedy, about a cartoonist (Jack Lemmon) who’s going blind and tries to keep it a secret from the decent woman (Barbara Harris)

Trouble Man, directed by Ivan Dixon
This stands out as one of the worst black rip‐off films of the year

Savage Messiah, directed by Ken Russell
No list of the most awful films of the year would be complete without something by Ken Russell

. . . . And Hope To Die, directed by René Clément
the story is about some underworld characters in Montreal and more than that ye need not know.

The Trial of The Catonsville Nine, directed by Gordon Davison
so full of self‐congratulations that you’re likely to wind up questioning your original admiration for the nine.

* Listed 11 by my count.

New York Times fiction best-seller list of January 7, 1973 – Gore Vidal on

Times Machine

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
The number one best-seller is called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It is a greeting card bound like a book with a number of photographs of seagulls in flight.

The Odessa File – Frederick Forsyth
At first glance The Odessa File, by Frederick Forsyth, looks to be just another bold hard-hitting attack on the Nazis in the form of a thriller masked as a pseudo-documentary.

Semi-Tough – Dan Jenkins
I fear that I am not the audience Mr. Dan Jenkins had in mind when he wrote his amiable book Semi-Tough, but I found it pleasant enough, and particularly interesting for what it does not go into.

August 1914 – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
As a fiction, August 1914 is not as well managed as Mr. Wouk’s Winds of War. I daresay as an expression of one man’s indomitable spirit in a tyrannous society we must honor if not the art the author.

The Persian Boy – Mary Renault
Can your average beautiful teen-age Persian eunuch find happiness with your average Greek world conqueror who is also a dish and aged only twenty-six? The answer Mary Renault triumphantly gives us in The Persian Boy is ne!

The Camerons – Robert Crichton
Mr. Crichton has elected to address himself to characters that seem to be infinitely remote from him, not to mention his readers. A UK mining town in what I take to be the 1870s (there is a reference to Keir Hardie, the trade unionist).

The Winds of War – Herman Wouk
The Winds of War: 885 pages of small type in which Herman Wouk describes the family of a naval captain just before America enters the Second World War (there is to be a sequel).

On the Night of the Seventh Moon – Victoria Holt
On the Night of the Seventh Moon belongs to a genre I know very little about: the Gothic novel for ladies. But I do recall the films made from the novels of Daphne du Maurier, the queen of this sort of writing. In fact, I once wrote the screenplay for one of her most powerful works, The Scapegoat, in which the dogged (and in this case hounded) Alec Guinness played two people.

The Eiger Sanction – Trevanian
The Eiger Sanction, by Trevanian (just one name) is light years distant from Two from Galilee. For one thing, it is sometimes well-written, though hardly, as the blurb tells us, “vintage Huxley.” Actually The Eiger Sanction is an Ian Fleming byblow and of its too numerous kind pretty good.

Two from Galilee – Marjorie Holmes
Since the film Love Story really took off, what about a love story starring the Mother and the Stepfather of Our Lord? A super idea. And Marjorie has written it.

From the essay:
The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal



Self-Reflexivity in the Serbo-Croatian Folk- Tale, by Mzsczy Mczszy.
Comic Structures in Holocaust Literature, by Horst Wessel and Elie Wiesel.
101 Uses for a Dead Explicator, by D. Funcke Katz.
Derrida and the Neutron Bomb, by Gerald Pantagraff.
Vomit: The Stow of Reader-Response Criticism, by David Yech.
The Joy of Socks: Foot Fetishism in France, by Henri Pair and Germane Brie.
The Condemned of Altoona: Late Existentialism in Eastern Pennsylvania, by J-P Salaud.
Punishing the Text: An Archaeology of Literary Leather, by Michel Godemiche.
Praxis und Taxis: Rilke als Schmarotzer, by Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe.
Sexist Repression and Counter-Revolutionary Imagery in the Later Poetry of Trumbull Stickney,
by Medusa Petard and Gloria Monday.
Dust from the Chickenhouse Floor: Coprophagy in American Colonial Literature, by Frank “Temps” Perdue and Bruce Jackson.
The Rhetoric of Secondary Aphasia, by Pablo Lacuna, Ph.D.
The Dirty Denizens: Black Semiotics, by Nathan A. Detroit and Seymour Sebeotnik.
Tickling the Text: A Primer of Literary Tact, by Lillie Bullero and Belle Bottoms.
The Kitchen Kink: Recipes for Critical Boredom, by “Big Al” Cook, the Galoping Gourmet.
The Joy of Gay Deconstruction, by F. Neechie and E. Coli.
The Philologist in the Attic, by the late Lev Spritzer.
Doing Her Thing: Auto-Eroticism in ‘Silas Marner’, by Raveloe Weber.
Cretins and Hydrocephaloi: Chips from My Buffalo, by El Fiddler.
The Skeleton Key to ‘Love Story” Revisited, by Eric Siegel.
Come in Your Trunks: A Reader’s Guide to the Beach Epics, by Annette Funicello, D.Phil.
Metonymy Is My Middle Name: Reflections on a Life in Language, by Roman Jakobson.
Phallic Imagery in the Notebooks of Henry James, by Leonardo Gaffito.
The Art of Darkness: Up the River with Conrad, by Francis Ford Coppelius.
Poetry and Flatulence: Petomania in the Romantic Ode, by H. Boom, Ph.D.

The Stiffest of the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader Paperback
Andrei Codrescu, editor

Albums of the Year 1984 – Pazz & Jop Critics Poll –


1. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A. (Columbia)
2. Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain (Warner Bros.)
3. Los Lobos: How Will the Wolf Survive? (Slash)
4. The Replacements: Let It Be (Twin/Tone)
5. Tina Turner: Private Dancer (Capitol)
6. R.E.M.: Reckoning (I.R.S.)
7. The Pretenders: Learning to Crawl (Sire)
8. Hüsker Dü: Zen Arcade (SST)
9. Lou Reed: New Sensations (RCA Victor)
10. Run-D.M.C.: Run-D.M.C. (Profile)
11. Cyndi Lauper: She’s So Unusual (Portrait ’83)
12. Bangles: All Over the Place (Columbia)
13. Ramones: Too Tough to Die (Sire)
14. Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime (SST)
15. The dB’s: Like This (Bearsville)
16. Womack & Womack: Love Wars (Elektra ’83)
17. Laurie Anderson: Mister Heartbreak (Warner Bros.)
18. Rubén Blades y Seis del Solar: Buscando America (Elektra)
19. Laurie Anderson: United States Live (Warner Bros.)
20. Meat Puppets: Meat Puppets II (SST)
21. Neville Brothers: Neville-ization (Black Top)
22. The Smiths: The Smiths (Sire)
23. Let’s Active: Cypress (I.R.S.)
24. Tom Verlaine: Cover (Warner Bros.)
25. Van Halen: 1984 (Warner Bros.)
26. Del-Lords: Frontier Days (EMI America)
27. Linton Kwesi Johnson: Making History (Island)
28. George Clinton: You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish (Capitol ’83)
29. U2: The Unforgettable Fire (Island)
30. King Sunny Ade and His African Beats: Aura (Island)
31. Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (Sire)
32. ZZ Top: Eliminator (Warner Bros.)
33. Peter Wolf: Lights Out (EMI America)
34. The Gospel at Colonus (Warner Bros.)
35. Lyres: On Fyre (Ace of Hearts)
36. The Everly Brothers: EB 84 (Mercury)
37. P. Funk All-Stars: Urban Dancefloor Guerillas (CBS Associated/Uncle Jam ’83)
38. Del Fuegos: The Longest Day (Slash)
39. The Special AKA: In the Studio (Chrysalis)
40. Rickie Lee Jones: The Magazine (Warner Bros.)

*Includes 1983 votes: Lauper 83 (7); Womack & Womack 36 (4); Clinton 83 (8); ZZ Top 90 (9); P. Funk All-Stars 57 (6).

This poll compiles ballots from 240 critics, each of whom divided 100 points among 10 1984 LP’s. Maximum points per album: 30. Minimum: 5. Points determined placement, with total mentions (indicated in parentheses) used to break ties.

The 25 Greatest Science Fiction Tropes


25. Cryosleep
24. Generation Ships
23. Psychics
22. Ancient Astronauts
21. Space Pirates
20. Uploaded Consciousness
19. Benevolent Aliens
18. Killer Aliens
17. Alien Artifacts
16. Nanotechnology
15. Wormholes
14. Parallel Worlds
13. Interspecies Romance
12. AI Uprisings
11. Clones
10. Body Modifications
9. Robots
8. Faster-Than-Light Travel
7. Big Dumb Objects
6. Mutants
5. Dystopian Governments
4. After the Apocalypse
3. First Contact
2. Time Travel
1. Sentient Spaceships