Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Movie Log - 2016

All the Movies I Watched in 2016

On Location: photo by Cliff Hutson
On Location: photo by Cliff Hutson
I watched eighty-eight movies in 2016. This works out to about 1.7 per week; I am unclear to me if that is a little or a lot. The list, in chronological order is as follows:
  1. Life Itself
  2. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's
  3. Bill Cunningham New York
  4. Iris
  5. RocknRolla
  6. Pride and Glory
  7. Maltese Falcon
  8. Fargo
  9. Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman
  10. The White Diamond
  11. Romancing the Stone
  12. Strangers on a Train (British version)
  13. The Wrecking Crew
  14. The September Issue
  15. Exit Through the Gift Shop
  16. Inside Llewyn Davis
  17. Between Heaven and Hell
  18. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  19. Dog Day Afternoon
  20. Deep Impact
  21. Armageddon
  22. Burlesque
  23. Dog Soldiers
  24. Body of Lies
  25. Conagher
  26. The Red Violin
  27. Inception
  28. Blazing Saddles
  29. Fame (1980)
  30. Coffee and Cigarettes
  31. Stranger Than Paradise
  32. Down by Law
  33. The Italian Job (1969)
  34. My Dinner with Andre
  35. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
  36. Black Angel (1946)
  37. Flashdance
  38. Trees Lounge
  39. High Anxiety
  40. A Chorus Line
  41. Jaws
  42. The Postman
  43. They Were Expendable
  44. Mr. Majestyk
  45. They Died With Their Boots On
  46. Finding Vivian Maier
  47. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
  48. Spotlight  
  49. Cabaret
  50. Young Frankenstein
  51. Twister
  52. The Producers (1968)
  53. Adaptation
  54. Blade Runner (The Final Cut)
  55. Tangerine
  56. Trumbo
  57. Take Out
  58. Fed Up
  59. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream
  60. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
  61. The Girl Who Played with Fire
  62. Anchors Aweigh
  63. The Fifth Element
  64. Battle: Los Angeles
  65. Take Me Out to the Ball Game
  66. Pal Joey
  67. On the Town
  68. Cat People (1942)
  69. Waiting for Guffman
  70. Best in Show
  71. A Mighty Wind
  72. This is Spinal Tap
  73. I Walked with a Zombie
  74. The Body Snatcher
  75. The Curse of the Cat People
  76. The Shawshank Redemption
  77. Art House
  78. Lo and Behold
  79. Tiny: A Story About Living Small
  80. Hell or High Water
  81. Wall E
  82. The Dark Knight
  83. Open Range
  84. Die Hard
  85. Sour Grapes
  86. SOMM: Into the Bottle
  87. Minimalism
  88. The Hunter (2011)

On DVD: photo by Cliff Hutson
On DVD: photo by Cliff Hutson

The vast majority of these were seen on DVD; many of which are in my personal collection and the remainder from Netflix. The ones that I own I tend to watch time and again. Some of these viewings could be considered to be ritualistic. I like to revisit "Jaws" at the beginning of the Summer season, which (for me) is anytime between Memorial Day and the Forth of July.  "Casablanca" I watch every Bastille Day. It is not that the movie is really connected to that date, but the pivotal scene of the singing of La Marseillaise evokes that for me. My birthday always calls for watching "Twister", as it reminds me of my fiftieth birthday. I have had quite a few great days in my life. But, the celebration of that event was one one the best;  seeing the movie with my wife, daughter, and grandchildren; and then eating at Russell's. It is a great film, and, in an alternate universe, I can easily envision myself as a member of Jo's team.

Others I frequently turn to are the works, of the Coen brothers, Hitchcock, Mel Brooks, and Christopher Guest. 

Missing from the list this year, for reasons I can not recall, are "Silverado" and "Trading Places". The former is easily among my top ten favorite movies of all time, if not the top five. The second I usually  watch in late December.

The best of the recent movies I saw was, by far and away, "Hell or High Water". I like this movie so much that if I see any best of 2016 list does not include it I say say 'screw it', that person does not know what that are talking about.

Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of my children, who gave me a flat screen TV and an Apple TV device for my seventieth birthday, the last ten movies of 2016 were seen using modern technology. I enjoy this so much that I have a challenge for myself of watching 104 movies in 2017. That is probably achievable once I get past past binge watching TV shows such as "Person of Interest", "The Blacklist", and "House of Cards"; which are all new to me.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reading Log - 2016

December 2016

The books I finished reading in December 2016:

December 2016 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
December 2016 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

A Year of Books

I read a total of fifty-four books in 2016. This puts me about 35% ahead of David Allen, who was the impetus for my starting to track my reading. My list, in chronological order:

Books Read - 2016
  1. “Go, A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design," Chip Kidd
  2. "Black Cherry Blues," James Lee Burke
  3. "Shock Wave,” John Sandford
  4. “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” Irving Stone
  5. “Dark of the Moon,” John Sandford
  6. “Heat Lighting,” John Sandford
  7. “A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams,” Michael Pollan
  8. “Rough Country,” John Sandford
  9. “Fight Club,” Chuck Palahniuk
  10. “Bad Blood,” John Sandford
  11. “Mad River,” John Sandford
  12. “Storm Front,” John Sandford
  13. “Deadline,” John Sandford
  14. “Faceless Killers,” Henning Mankell
  15. “Caesar, Let the Dice Fly,” Colleen McCullough
  16. “Red Gold,” Alan Furst
  17. “The Rosie Effect,” Graeme Simsion
  18. “After I’m Gone,” Laura Lippman
  19. “On the Beach,” Nevil Shute
  20. “Landfall,” Nevil Shute
  21. ”Sayonara Slam,” Naomi Hirahara
  22. “The Dragons of Eden,” Carl Sagan
  23. “The Postman,” David Brin
  24. "Breaking Cat News: Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats,” Georgia Dunn
  25. “The Little Sister,” Raymond Chandler
  26. “Moscow Rules,” Daniel Silva
  27. "A History of the End of the World,” Jonathan Kirsch
  28. “An American Genocide,” Benjamin Madley
  29. “The Sixth Extinction,” Elizabeth Kolbert
  30. “Cooked,” Michael Pollan
  31. “The Man in the High Castle,” Philip K. Dick
  32. “Personal,” Lee Child
  33. “Make Me,” Lee Child
  34. “In a Sunburned Country,” Bill Bryson
  35. “Hogs Wild,” Ian Frazier
  36. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” Philip K. Dick
  37. “The Mother Tongue,” Bill Bryson
  38. “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” Bill Bryson
  39. “Pied Piper,” Nevil Shute
  40. “The Harvest Gypsies,” John Steinbeck
  41. “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” George V. Higgins
  42. “Ecotopia,” Ernest Callenbach
  43. “The Devil’s Star,” Jo Nesbo
  44. “Biophilia,” Edward O. Wilson
  45. “Hold Tight,” Harlan Coben
  46. “Reversible Errors,” Scott Turow
  47. “Last Train to Istanbul,” Ayse Kulin
  48. "Escape Clause," John Sandford
  49. "The Wrong Side of Goodbye," Michael Connelly
  50. “W is for Wasted,”Sue Grafton
  51. “Heat Wave,” Richard Castle
  52. “Orphan X,” Gregg Hurwitz
  53. "Susie’s Seniors Dogs,” Erin Stanton
  54. "Shop Cats of New York,” Tamar Arslanian
It is fair to say that I am glad that I read all of these, as I have reached a point in my life where I no longer finish a book that I start but then has no appeal for me. However,  not all of them were enjoyable. “An American Genocide”, for example, was very disturbing. But, it opened my eyes to a part of California  history of which I was unaware, and gave me a new perspective in which to frame the work I do in ethnobotany.

Sheer entertainment was found in the Virgil Flowers mysteries by John Sanford. I guess I put the entire series under my belt just this year. Bill Bryson offers both humor and information, so his books were a real treat. (His "A Walk in the Woods" is one of my all-time favorites.)

Picking the best book of this year's lot is a bit problematic, but the nod goes to "Pied Piper" by Nevil Shute. He is probably best known for "On the Beach", which is also on my list. However, I choose "Pied Piper" as I found the story more compelling; and I strongly identified with the protagonist. He and I are the same age, seventy years old. It seems that was considered to be much more ancient in the early days of World War II than it is today. (I like to think that 70 is the new 50, anyway.)

Also near the top was “The Rosie Effect” by Graeme Simsion  However, it was not as good as "The Rosie Project" which tied at number one for me last year.

I am starting 2017 with a pile of eleven books that I intend to get around to reading. The one that has been in it the longest is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty, which I acquired back in May 2014. This might be the year for it.