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Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford (1999/2015) by Scott Eyman
With film critics John Ford is one of the most well-known American directors.  He is mostly known today for his westerns and particularly the John Wayne collaborations, but he has a plethora of cinema that traverses many genres like The Grapes of Wrath, How Green was My Valley and The Long Grey Line.  He was/is a huge influence on different directors such as Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Peter Bodanovich and more*  I read Scott Eyman’s superb biography of John Wayne (which was written years after this) and thought I should read this.  Eyman is a good researcher and like with the Ford book he came up with sundry new interviews.  But with Ford you have to be a good sleuth because Ford had the habit of changing stories, changing opinions, and stating bald-faced lies like him being born in Ireland with a completely different name than he actually was. He was a cantankerous working alcoholic (it rarely disrupted work) with an Irish wit and could hold a grudge for years.  But he could be gentle as well.  But his main focus was getting what he wanted on the screen and manipulating the actors in whatever way he felt would work.  He was a complicated person (this phrase is often overused but with Ford it fits), though much of the complications were caused by himself as usually is the case with complicated people.  He was an artist who did not want to seem pretentious and went to great lengths to seem like an everyday Joe.  This book covers many such contradictions.  For film fans this is a great read that is full of copious facts.
 
* Surprisingly not Quentin Tarantino who’s normally astute with film matters makes some embarrassingly idiotic comments on Ford.  Kent Jones has an excellent rebuttal to Tarantino’s statements in an article in Film Comment (May/June 2013).
 
1984 (1949) by George Orwell
This is one of the books I was embarrassed I had not read before.  The kicker was that I found out a non-reading (much) friend had read this (and based a song and video of his on this) which meant that I put this higher in my queue. This is also quite an influential book on a multitude of “best of” lists.  I had seen and own the Michael Radford film, it was an obvious influence on Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (get the Criterion release if you do not have it) and is has been referenced often from the famous Apple commercial to the writings of Christopher Hitchens.  Words such as doublethink, thoughtcrime and newspeak were popularized because of Orwell.  It is a well written novel and it kept me interested enough to finish it in a few days.  Ultimately depressing and one can certainly see shades of this dystopia in our society (an argument can be made that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World fits Europe better as a prognosticator) and much of it in Stalin’s Russia at the time of the book as Orwell was a staunch anti-communist (especially against Stalin).  I think it is time to get Animal Farm.  I am sure the anthropomorphic animals will cheer me up. 
 
Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn’t Lie Down (1979/1988) By Tom Dardis
I am a big fan of Buster Keaton.  I have seen all of his starring, costarring silent films (that exist and the only silent I have not seen with him in it is The Round Up (1920)) and directed films.  I have read several biographies on him as well as his autobiography.  This one gets some flack on Amazon reviews for some errata, though the edition I have I found those errors to have been fixed.  I found this a solid biography with new interviews from Eleanor and Louise Keaton and several of Keaton’s colleagues that were alive at the time of Dardis interviewing them.  This is not the first biography of Keaton that I would recommend that would be Rudi Blesh’s book Keaton (which is a reference for some many other books on Keaton so if there is faults in that book they have been repeated quite often) and Keaton’s autobiography.  But it works well as supplemental reading.  It does concentrate a bit too much on his drinking, it does not cover the last half of his life as much as it should (a fault also with Edward McPherson’s book on Keaton).  There is a nice amount of photos here, he does correct a few canards like Buster’s MGM films not being successful when they really were and the fact that he probably would not have been able to stay independent for long.  If you are going to get this, make sure you get the later paperback release and not the earlier hardback release (less errors.)
 
I Owe Russia $1200 (1963) by Bob Hope
Bob Hope’s “memoirs” are about comedy first then facts second.  Now he will repeat his stories throughout many of them especially when it comes to his USO tours.  I think I remember some of the stories in Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me (1990) by Bob Hope with Melville Shavelson.  But these are fun, especially if you like Hope’s style of non-stop humor (he often uses the comic technique of rabid fire patter so if one joke does not hit, maybe the next one will.)  This book covers a few years of Hope before the publishing of this book including the last Road To picture Road to Hong Kong (of course there is a little Bing Crosby bashing) and his tour of Russia in 1962 and a few years of USO tours which he is constantly doing.  You often hear the adage “hardest working …”, but with Bob Hope it is true.  He just outworked everyone.  His itinerary is scary.  At one point he passed out from non-stop working and one might take a break if that happens, Hope does not and continues to go around the world entertaining troops, doing side-gigs and seeing what he can get away with in Russia.
 
Free to Choose (1980/1990) by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman
Milton Friedman is a Nobel Prize winning economist who had written the introduction to The Road to Serfdom (Fiftieth Anniversary Edition) (1944/1994) by F.A. Hayek which I read earlier this year (and I would recommend reading it before this one).  This book, co-written with his wife, is a treatise on the relationship between freedom and economics.  He would be a huge influence on intellectual Thomas Sowell and countless others especially of the libertarian persuasion.  Originally written in 1980, and a PBS series from both Friedmans also came out that year, this book is the 1990 reprint with some additional material.  A sagacious analysis of the two intertwined issues and written well to be easily understood (though I did read reviews that did not agree with this, though maybe a background in economics might help) in its opining against larger government especially rallying against the command economy.  It has one of the better explanations on what caused and elongated the Great Depression.  I highly recommend this to anyone interested in economics.

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Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self Defense (1963/1987) by Bruce Lee with Intros from James Y. Lee, Ed Parker, Wally Jay.
This is the only book Bruce Lee published during his lifetime not counting his editing of Wing Chun Kung Fu by James Yimm Lee.  He had wrote about working on another book in his letters, but nothing came out of it during his lifetime.  This is a pretty sparse small booklet that is more of curio for Bruce Lee aficionados than an actual treatise on martial arts.  His philosophy on martial arts would change drastically over the years, though one of his favorite moves the eye poke is mentioned here.  My favorite aspects of this book is in the beginning with the “About the Author” sections with James Y. Yee, Ed Parker and Wally Jay and an introduction from himself.  Then the informal chapters are Chinese Martial Arts with Several Important Pointers, Gung Fu Stances, The Seven Stars, The Three Fronts, On Waist Training, On Leg Training (he expects you to be quite flexible on the training sections), Chinese Gung Fu Techniques, Theory of Yin Yang (a nice little essay) and Difference in Gung Fu Styles.  The book does come off as amateurish reminding me of one of my friend’s self-published weight-lifting books, though there is a nice amount of Lee’s drawings and pictures of him.  Then there is that ubiquitous problem with martial art books that explain what to do when someone comes at you is that people rarely come at you like they do in the books.
 
I bought this on Amazon which had sent me the 2003 release of the 1963 book.  What they show advertised is the Black Belt Communications release which apparently has some more information to it though by looking at the page count not too much.  A few people have complained about this.
 
The Dharma Bums (1958) by Jack Kerouac, Intro by Ann Douglas  
A few years ago I read Kerouac’s most famous book On the Road and was not overly intrigued by the asinine Dean Moriarty (a stand-in for the real life beatnik Neal Cassady) who reminded me of being stuck with Dr. Gonzo (also based on a real life character Oscar Acosta whom grew up where I grew up in Riverbank CA and went to the same Junior College as George Lucas and me) in Fear and Loathing in Las VegasThe Dharma Bums is one of my older friends favorite books (I always ask people I know what their favorite books and movies are; I think that is a good habit especially if you watch or read their picks) so I thought it was a good time to read this.  Surprisingly I liked this much more than On the Road.  From both novels I get the feeling that Kerouac, who was writing on his real life experiences, was more of a follower than anything else.  With a more interesting and positive figure in Japhy Ryder (based on the Buddhist poet Gary Snyder who is still alive) as the central figure in this book, even though Kerouac’s stand-in Ray Smith has the most content, it is a much more pleasurable read.  I think partially because I recognize Japhy in several of my Zen studying friends, but also because the philosophical nature here is a nice bridge between the beatniks and the later hippie movement and marks an important time period in American culture.  Kerouac would later be consumed by alcoholism and you can see some of its early stages here (the increased drinking would ruin the friendship with Synder) though I feel that some of Kerouac’s happiest times are with Snyder/Japhy before Synder goes to Japan which his character also does in the book and Kerouac’s drinking increases.  This book, like On the Road, is about travels, exploration, self-discovery and a philosophy – here a mixture of Zen Buddhism and solipsism which dismayed some Buddhists such as Alan Watts and even Synder because of its interpretation.  Of course, this is the point because how people actually view any religion is often a mixture of the faithful bent around the personally philosophy of the person.

Kerouac has an interesting run-on style of “spontaneous” jazzy prose which can be quite good, though sometimes rewriting would have helped (which is, of course, against what he was trying to accomplish).  It is not stream-of-conscious, which at its worst can create a massive amount of dreck like in Katherine Hepburn’s Me: Stories of My Life (a book I overall like but for the stories and not the writing) or even worse doing it in an English course, but a measured approach to try to get a beat-type of improvisational jazz.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968/1996) by Philip K. Dick, Intro by Roger Zelazny
There are very few movies where I prefer the movie over the book when I have actually read the book.  While I would include this in the following, it is not because of the deficiency of the novel, but how much I have liked the movie (and its different versions) over the years.  I asked a worker at a local used book shop the same question and she said Fight Club was one she would pick the movie over the book.  Being a David Fincher fan and I quite like that movie a lot I have avoided reading the book it was based on.  I will probably continue to do so.  But I had really wanted to read at least one novel/novella by Philip K. Dick because of the vast amount of his material has been made into movies.  I enjoyed the book in the underpopulated world because of nuclear fallout and a vast exodus of humans considered worthy (the movie is overpopulated; but the two are quite different in many aspects; read here), but there was always this expectation of mine to compare and contrast with the film though they really are two different beasts.  Dick has a somewhat subversive humor that is fun while his neurotic characters, especially the androids, can sometimes be too neurotic like watching a Woody Allen film with Allen as the lead (kidding of course, I love Sleeper).  One interesting aspect is that live animals take on a status symbol, while many just do with electric sheep – though they feel the pangs of not owning a live animal.
 
This Is Orson Welles (1998) by Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum
If you like Orson Welles than this set of interviews from Peter Bogdanovich who adds a new introduction is a must own.  This is edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum and I do wonder what was removed from the original tapes (at least two tapes were lost as well.) But I am a fan especially of his most well-known films like Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. Welles is quite the raconteur and his knowledge of cinema is vast even if he states often that he does not see many new films (which reminds me of John Ford one of Welles favorite directors.)  Bogdanovich too often brings up Citizen Kane, but still a decent amount of talk on most of his films and some acting.  His opinions will not be shared by everyone, for example he does not like Josef Von Sternberg (I do) but his earnestness and healthy ego shows through.* He is immensely quotable, his knowledge of cinema and literature is immense and he tends to not hold back his thoughts.  If you like this book I also recommend My Lunches with Orson (2013) Edited and Introduction Peter Biskind which he is even more forthcoming, possibly because he was taped without his knowledge.
 
After the interviews there is a huge section (over 100 pages) which covers his Career Chronology.  It is impressive how busy Welles kept himself until the very end.  There are two Appendixes: a summary of cuts made in original screenplay that can be a bit difficult to read unless you have recently watched the film (this part took me the longest to read) and second a shortened version of a Memo to Universal (originally 58 pages.)
 
* He has quite interesting and mixed talk about Charlie Chaplin, Federico Fellini (Welles is one of the few that think The White Sheik is his best film), John Steinbeck and Jean-Luc Godard.  He adores John Ford, Buster Keaton, Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad and more.
 
Intellectuals and Society Revised and enlarged edition (2011) by Thomas Sowell
Speaking of long reads: I thought after reading my first Milton Friedman book it was time to read one of his disciples in Thomas Sowell.  Sowell is a brilliant economist who defines the intellectual as a purveyor of ideas and describes the historical aspects and influences of this group that often uses peer consensus as its guide and can often eschew empiricism.*  Or more simply: “An intellectual’s work begins and ends with ideas.”  Not the application of ideas but the creation of them.  It is amazing that some of these ideas such as eugenics and the command economy have been pushed by intellectuals as the correct thing to do but resulted in countless deaths and suffering.  Such intellectuals as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx have had massive influences even if they were not read much nor understood by the public.
 
In this enlarged edition (I have not read the previous release of this) Sowell goes over intellectuals and their role in economics, social visions, law, war and race.  He is an eloquent, pragmatic and sagacious writer who sometimes repeats phrases a bit too much but is overall pithy, to-the-point and leans toward the Libertarian vein on politics.  Some of his views will certainly be considered contrarian (this term certainly has a bit of relativity to it) but he is such a logical thinker and his use of empirical studies are quite astute. Being a rather large book (600 plus pages though 546 before the end notes start) it took some time to get through it.  It made me interested in finding out what other books he has.  I am currently reading his second edition of Economic Facts and Fallacies.
 
* His quote on that: “The great problem – and the great social danger – with purely internal criteria is that they can easily become sealed off from feedback from the external world of reality and remain circular in their methods of validation.” Think about this sometimes in class or with your own reasoning.

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Animal Farm (1945) by George Orwell
There are a few books I have felt I should have read a while ago but put off for a variety of reasons usually reading other books and/or watching movies.  Ultimately I think I just was not that interested in anthropomorphic animals (in book form, seen enough of them in movies.)  I did not have to read this in high school though several of my friends did (during college I read all the books I was supposed to in high school and did not) and just did not or it was never offered.  After several people I talked to had mentioned that had read the book and wondering why I had not I felt it was time to read this.  Plus I had read 1984 not too long ago. This novella is a basic dystopian tale.  It is a forerunner to his longer and better written 1984.  It is effective in its doleful, didactic tale and Stalin allegory and several of its themes would be better explored in his later 1984.  The most famous aspect of the book is the phrase “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”  Like most dystopian literature, it starts off as a Utopia.  The parallels between the animals and Marx’s proletariat are obvious.  They throw off the fetters of the bourgeoisie human owner only to find themselves losing their new found freedoms and their society reverting ultimately into the past situation only with more hypocrisy.  This is a quick and easy read. Sometimes too didactic and certainly simpler than his more famous dystopian novel.  I would recommend that first if you have not read it.
 
Black Rednecks and White Liberals (2005) by Thomas Sowell
This is now the third book from Sowell that I have read.  I wrote earlier on his revised Intellectuals and Society and for the second book Economic Facts and Fallacies I am waiting to get my book back before I do a mini-review.  Sowell got his doctorate in Economics at the University of Chicago and has been a prolific writer since the 1980s (I tend to be wary of anyone who has stated they have read all of his books since he has quite a lot of them for a non-fiction writer – much more if you include the amount of essays he has written.)  He also consistently publishes a column for townhall.com and you can see many videos of him on youtube.  He writes on a variety of issues, usually referring to his knowledge in economics and always with an empirical bent.* I find him one of the more bright intellectuals out there using the overloaded term.  This books consists of six essays including the titular one. He could be considered a contrarian, though his philosophy on politics has always been more pragmatic than utopian.  He has a unique way of asking salient though sometimes troubling questions about sacrosanct ideals about culture, school and, of course, economics.   
 
* A quote from him on this: “Where beliefs are not checked against facts, but instead facts must meet the test of consonance with the prevailing vision, we are in the process of sealing ourselves off from feedback from reality.”
 
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) by Ernest Hemingway
Ultimately, which surprised me when I was reading this, that this book can be put into the men’s adventure genre.  It takes place during the Spanish Civil War which Hemingway had a few years be in himself when he was a reporter there in 1937.  Death is a heavy thematic element with this as expatriate Robert Jordan is fighting for the republic against the fascists.  One does not get a particularly good viewpoint of either side as various atrocities are on display here.  Jordan is ultimately a suicidal type in the Lieutenant Dan vein of Forrest Gump.  He is a former Spanish teacher who pretty much expects to die, mostly because he does not want to be a “coward” like his father was who committed suicide.  You get to read about four days in his life and his mission to blow up a bridge with a ragtime band of irregulars which makes this book fit neatly into the subgenre of men’s adventure: the war mission.  His prose is quite a bit different than the earlier novel I had read of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises which was more terse.  Here you get to see an implied translation of Spanish into English (you will see “thou” throughout as a formal translation; Spanish phrases are also directly used throughout the book) in the dialogue and with the inner thought it takes on a stream-of-conscious style that is mostly effective.  Hilariously you will see “obscenity” and “unprintable” and others for fill-in-your-own expletives.  A worthy read for fans of literature and men’s adventure. Now muck off.
 
Think and Grow Rich (1937) by Napoleon Hill
Surprisingly, given that the influence of this book and it is still referenced by a variety of authors, this is not a well written nor an intelligent book on the important topic of getting rich.  Written during the Depression (while Hill states that the Depression was over, mainly because he was working for FDR at the time of this book) it has a built in audience of people who are going to want to become more successful.  This early self-help book* was vastly successful and does have some good advice, but he often states ideas and opinions as facts when they are obviously not and rarely gives any reference material other than repeating about twenty years of research and name dropping constantly like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford which are repeated Ad Nauseum.  For example on facts: “It is a well-known fact that a thief will criticize the man from whom he steals…”, “The reality of a ‘sixth sense’ has been fairly well established.”  He also has a hilarious “fact” where bald-headed people are that way because of their fear of criticism and the fact they were too tight hats.  He also tends to be influenced by trendy “science” such as “every human brain is capable of picking up vibrations of thought which are being released by other brains” and a whole variety of dubious psychology trends.  I was also wary of statements like “If you choose to follow some of the instructions, but neglect or refuse to follow others – you will fail!”  This is asinine.  It really just gives the author an out if you fail to become more successful by taking his advice.
 
The best sections are early on when he talks about desire, imagination and persistence.  These are universal and can easily be boiled down into truisms such as “work hard”, “continuously study specialized knowledge”, “be positive” etc…  It is just when he writes about areas he knows little about like psychology, neuroscience, “sex transmutation” and mental telepathy (reminding me of a Tenacious D song) that he enters into quack territory.   As long as you are skeptical when reading this then it is an OK read.  But there are so many better books to read, even “self help”: start with How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) by Dale Carnegie.
 
* Self-help/improvement books one should always read judiciously.  Many of them will have some sage advice combining truisms, aphorisms, and common sense (common sense is not that common), but rarely are they original and sometimes may give advice that is completely idiotic like buying gold when it is at an all-time high.  It is a huge industry and much of it is throwaway material.  Be wary of anything that states theirs is the only way.

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I'm revisiting The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft and am about halfway through. I think I like it more than a lot of the more famous Cthulhu mythos novellas, as we get to see the monsters without the hero going insane, and the travelogue-esque world building is just a lot of fun. It's very episodic, but the Dreamlands world is pretty cool. Of course, to Lovecraft newbies, be sure to read "The Silver Key", "Celephaïs", "The Cats of Ulthar", "The Other Gods", "Pickman's Model", "Polaris", "The Doom that Came to Sarnath", and "The Statement of Randolph Carter" before reading this. This novel takes those short stories and sythesizes them into a huge world-building exercise.

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Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi. The true story of Henry Hill, the ex-mobster turned FBI snitch. Of course, this would become the basis for one of the best mobster movies ever made, GoodFellas. Great read!

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The Old Man and the Sea (1952) by Earnest Hemingway
 
At the beginning of this year I had not read any non-short story from Hemingway.  Now I have read three novel/novellas.  I thought this was an outstanding novella.  I have yet to see the Spencer Tracy movie, but I am curious on how this was translated to the screen.  I tend to like monomania in my characters and here we have like Ahab and his whale a man trying to get his fish (note a whale is a mammal, though in Moby Dick Melville believes it to be a fish – a whole chapter is dedicated on this.)  The majority of the story is the lead character trying to catch that fish and reel it in.  One might think that there is not enough storyline here, but Hemingway has a nice way of making this somewhat existential.  The journey is the thing.  Of course if you know the ending that than it is probably a preferred way of looking at life considering what happens to Santiago.  Much like the author the fisherman was not quite done yet as Hemingway would win the Pulitzer Prize and the following year would win the Nobel Prize for literature.  Though it was the last novel published by him in his lifetime as Islands in the Stream would be published posthumously.

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21 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

The Old Man and the Sea (1952) by Earnest Hemingway

This was required reading in my 7th grade English class, and I was bored out of my mind. I hated it!!! Just let the stupid fish go already.

Now Beowulf...that was some good stuff.

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21 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

This was required reading in my 7th grade English class, and I was bored out of my mind. I hated it!!! Just let the stupid fish go already.

Now Beowulf...that was some good stuff.

In an advanced English course I had to read Beowulf in the original language and of course translate it.  Nice little story :)  Violence always helps.

Now back to Hemingway: that is a bit young to read that novella.  Have you thought about rereading it?  Have you read any other Hemingway?  Read him next to Herman Melville and Hemingway is quite easier in the diction department. I ended up rereading a lot of books through school (or reading ones that I had skipped.)  It is always nice to see a different perspective on things when experience has become a bigger factor in one's life.  Being in martial arts one can easily see some parallels.  It is the last hurrah for the Santiago. He has had a string of bad luck, but continues his craft and livelihood.  He catches a fish that is way too large for his sailboat, that is too large for himself.  But he works it, injures himself (much like a bad punch to a martial artist that results in coughing up blood) in the process, but continues on.  There is much Zen about the story.

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3 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

In an advanced English course I had to read Beowulf in the original language and of course translate it.  Nice little story :)  Violence always helps.

Now back to Hemingway: that is a bit young to read that novella.  Have you thought about rereading it?  Have you read any other Hemingway?  Read him next to Herman Melville and Hemingway is quite easier in the diction department. I ended up rereading a lot of books through school (or reading ones that I had skipped.)  It is always nice to see a different perspective on things when experience has become a bigger factor in one's life.  Being in martial arts one can easily see some parallels.  It is the last hurrah for the Santiago. He has had a string of bad luck, but continues his craft and livelihood.  He catches a fish that is way too large for his sailboat, that is too large for himself.  But he works it, injures himself (much like a bad punch to a martial artist that results in coughing up blood) in the process, but continues on.  There is much Zen about the story.

I admit I have never given a 2nd thought to rereading it, and I've never bother reading any other of Hemingway's works as a result of it. You do offer an interesting perspective though. I'd have never considered it in that light. In regards to that, I have reread some stories that I was required to in school ("Silas Marner" for example), and the results were the same. It was a chore and I still didn't like it.

Edited by ShaOW!linDude

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Just now, ShaOW!linDude said:

I admit I have never given a 2nd thought to rereading it, and I've never bother reading any other of Hemingway's works as a result of it. You do offer an interesting perspective though. I'd have never considered it in that light. In regards to that, I have reread some stories that I was required to in school ("Silas Marner" for example), and the results were the same. It was a chore and I didn't like it.

Considering the style and material you write I do think you should give For Whom the Bell Tolls a chance (as well as The Old Man and the Sea) which one can consider a Men's Adventure.  I gave a mini-review of it above. I think the 7th grade self is most likely different then the now-self.  

I never read Silas Marner, but I'll have to get that at some point.  Do you use goodreads.com?  What are you favorite books btw (top ten +-)?  I don't think I've asked that from you.  I always like hearing favorites from readers/writers/teachers/random people I accost in coffee houses.

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18 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

Considering the style and material you write I do think you should give For Whom the Bell Tolls a chance (as well as The Old Man and the Sea) which one can consider a Men's Adventure.  I gave a mini-review of it above. I think the 7th grade self is most likely different then the now-self.  

I never read Silas Marner, but I'll have to get that at some point.  Do you use goodreads.com?  What are you favorite books btw (top ten +-)?  I don't think I've asked that from you.  I always like hearing favorites from readers/writers/teachers/random people I accost in coffee houses.

No, sir, I haven't used Goodreads. While I don't think you've asked me for my favorite books directly, I want to say that I think you've posed it openly to forum members. I didn't answer it then, and don't know that I can answer it now. I like too many in a variety of genres. I'm skewed more toward authors I like than particular books. 

Edgar Rice Burroughs --- "Tarzan of the Apes", "Outlaw of Torn", & "I Am A Barbarian"

Robert E. Howard --- pretty much anything with Conan as the central character; I'm currently reading "The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane" which I've never read before.

Robert McCammon --- he's like a Southern-fried Stephen King from Alabama; "Swan Song", "The Wolf's Hour", & "Mystery Walk"

Stephen King --- I prefer the early stuff: "The Dead Zone", "Salem's Lot", & "The Stand"

Zane Grey --- for Westerns, I find him far more preferable to Louis L'Amour; "The Light of the Western Stars" & "Her Majesty's Rancho" are among my fav's.

Andrew Vachss --- a gritty crime noir writer with a fascinating antihero named Burke; "Flood" 

William Diehl --- "Sharkey's Machine", "Hooligans", "Chameleon", "Thai Horse"

Marc Olden --- "Oni", "Gaijin", & "Giri"

Dennis Lehane --- any of the books containing P.I. characters Patrick Kenzie & Angela Gennaro (more good crime noir flavoring)

Trevanian --- "Shibumi" & "The Summer of Katya" (the latter one I think you'd find quite interesting) 

And I'm open to anything by Edgar Allan Poe. So there's a few of the authors I like, and there are more. And that's just the fiction.

As you can plainly see, I'm not a fan of what would be considered mainstream classics. I think a lot of stems from the fact that I was an avid reader as a child, already discovering authors I liked. In school, I was expected to read the books and stories of authors considered beloved and respected as "classics" by many: Hemingway, Dickens, Austen, Bronte, etc. But I found them to be over-hyped, so I never bothered reading anything else they'd written. (And I'll confess I often didn't finish reading what I was expected to.)

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Hmm...this is interesting. What did I read in school:

7th grade - The Wave; Julius Cesar; Much Ado About Nothing

8th grade - Goodnight Mr. Tom; Charlotte's Web; Of Mice and Men

9th grade - Julius Cesar (Academic Decathlon); Pygmalion (idem.); Lord of the Flies; Night (by Elie Wiesel); To Kill a Mockingbird

10th grade - Born on the 4th of July; Bless Me, Ultima; The Scarlett Letter; Jane Eyre (Academic Decathlon)

11th grade - Wuthering Heights, 1984, Topaz; Heart of Darkness; Remains of the Day (Academic Decathlon)

12th grade - My Antonia (Academic Decathlon); Midaq Alley; Of Love and Shadows; 100 Years of Solitude; All Quiet on the Western Front; Things Fall Apart

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Hip Hop by Steven Hager,for me being a fan of old Skool hip hop(and I mean old Skool not the 90s)this is probably the best book I have read on the subject.It's very informative with regards to graffiti,b-boys and girls, mc's and deejays and how it all started,there is also some useful information about the gangs in New York which led up to the start of the hip hop culture.A great book not just for people who like hip hop but for people who maybe don't know how it started but are kinda interested in learning.

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Bryan Cranston's autobiography, A Life in Parts.

Only just digging into it, but he's lead quite the interesting life.

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On ‎12‎/‎24‎/‎2016 at 10:13 AM, ShaOW!linDude said:

No, sir, I haven't used Goodreads. While I don't think you've asked me for my favorite books directly, I want to say that I think you've posed it openly to forum members. I didn't answer it then, and don't know that I can answer it now. I like too many in a variety of genres. I'm skewed more toward authors I like than particular books. 

... As you can plainly see, I'm not a fan of what would be considered mainstream classics. I think a lot of stems from the fact that I was an avid reader as a child, already discovering authors I liked. In school, I was expected to read the books and stories of authors considered beloved and respected as "classics" by many: Hemingway, Dickens, Austen, Bronte, etc. But I found them to be over-hyped, so I never bothered reading anything else they'd written. (And I'll confess I often didn't finish reading what I was expected to.)

Thanks for the listings.  This gives me some books to think about in the future.  I've read several books by Howard and almost everything from Poe, but the rest I have not read.

In school I also did not always read what was assigned to me, though I was always reading.  Usually it was books on Vietnam during my 7th and 8th grade and science fiction (some fantasy, men's adventures etc...) well 6th through senior year of high school.  So yeah I would be reading Isaac Asimov when I should have been reading Hawthorne.  Funny enough I read almost all of what I was supposed to later on in college though I did not keep track like DrNgor (or else he has quite a good memory) so I might have missed something (though I could probably recollect them all if I put some thought into it.)  

My goodreads account.

@DrNgor At my high school Academic Decathlon was only open for Juniors and Seniors.  That was fun though and got a few medals each year.  Right now the only book I remember reading for it was The Sound and the Fury (my Junior year; the main reason I remember this was because I read it up and down, read notes on it and because of that medaled in that category.)

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Capitalism and Freedom (1962) by Milton Friedman
 
The second book I have read from Friedman.  The first is the later Free to Choose (1980) which is less abstract and less philosophical than this one.  In this 40th anniversary release there are two nice prefaces from 1982 and 2002 which both discuss how the climate of opinion had changed, mostly because of empiricism, from an overabundance of negative attitude toward non-statist (non-government control of economics) to embracing Friedman’s books and rhetoric (the pendulum has swung a bit back as government has taken more control of the economy here and many from a younger generation that has no concepts of economics).  Friedman has said “one major change I would make, it would be to replace the dichotomy of economic freedom and political freedom with the trichotomy of economic freedom, civil freedom, and political freedom.”  I think this is especially relevant with the rise of China in the marketplace and this idea was brought on because of his studies of the Hong Kong economy.  While it helps to have some understanding of economics to read this it is not imperative (though I may be wrong).  This book has been highly influential on the libertarian philosophy especially in connection with free markets and freedom.  He goes over a litany of issues but usually dealing with his opinion on The Role of Government in a Free Society (the title of the second chapter and the thesis of the book.)  His positions are well thought out and even when I think he is being a bit Utopian in his philosophy (negative income tax; AMA) he does state that we should always test everything he states (if it ever came to be testable which I doubt they will).

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6 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

Thanks for the listings.  This gives me some books to think about in the future.  I've read several books by Howard and almost everything from Poe, but the rest I have not read.

In school I also did not always read what was assigned to me, though I was always reading.  Usually it was books on Vietnam during my 7th and 8th grade and science fiction (some fantasy, men's adventures etc...) well 6th through senior year of high school.  So yeah I would be reading Isaac Asimov when I should have been reading Hawthorne.  Funny enough I read almost all of what I was supposed to later on in college though I did not keep track like DrNgor (or else he has quite a good memory) so I might have missed something (though I could probably recollect them all if I put some thought into it.)  

My goodreads account.

Ah, a man after my own heart. And I don't know of anyone who keeps lists on here like @DrNgor:cool

Hmmm, I may have to look into setting up a Goodreads account. Maybe I'll see the ND books on there one day.:tongueout

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20 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

@DrNgor At my high school Academic Decathlon was only open for Juniors and Seniors.  That was fun though and got a few medals each year.  Right now the only book I remember reading for it was The Sound and the Fury (my Junior year; the main reason I remember this was because I read it up and down, read notes on it and because of that medaled in that category.)

It was an elective 7th period class (only six periods were mandatory at my school). I was a reserve/back-up/whatever during my Freshman and Sophomore Years. I got 3rd and 1st place among the reserves for those years. I was then a starter during my junior and sênior years, and ended up getting 3rd and 1st place overall scores for those years as well.

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The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Omnibus vol. 1 (Marvel, 2016)

First volume of two of this long-awaited reprint.

Collecting roughly half of the much loved 70s B&W magazine, this gorgeous hardcover is a must have for genre fans, as not only does it contain the comics (awesome stuff like Sons of the Dragon, Iron Fist and my man, Shang Chi), but also the letters pages and the articles - on the MA films of the time, as well as lots of writing on Bruce Lee.

An incredible time-capsule of the 70s Kung Fu craze, beautifully presented and worth every cent, True Believers!

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15 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

Ah, a man after my own heart. And I don't know of anyone who keeps lists on here like @DrNgor:cool

Hmmm, I may have to look into setting up a Goodreads account. Maybe I'll see the ND books on there one day.:tongueout

I started my insane list-keeping around 2008 (movies, tv series, books -- though goodreads I have only started using a few years ago, shorts). I was also using listsofbests for several years until the site went down (still pissed about that as I had created many lists.)  Lately I created a database (in Oracle) for my videos/movie watching (for you nerds yes it is in at least 3rd normal form for the RDBMS) and have a user interface done in JEE (using a handmade MVC pattern.)  I also use it to keep track of what I have lent. Of course I only have entered a few hundred in the past few months :) (my collection is  a lot larger)

Just checked Scott and several of your books including ND are on there.  Here is a link you can use to check: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7816642.Scott_Blasingame .  I will read your two books I got next year (this will be one of my New Year's goals which I will post when the year starts; Dr  Ngor's book will be in there as well) and buy the rest.  Have to support our writers.

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3 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

Just checked Scott and several of your books including ND are on there.  Here is a link you can use to check: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7816642.Scott_Blasingame .  I will read your two books I got next year (this will be one of my New Year's goals which I will post when the year starts; Dr  Ngor's book will be in there as well) and buy the rest.  Have to support our writers.

Wow, I didn't know that.:smile Thanks for the link.

Cool beans, I look forward to your reviews! And I certainly appreciate the interest and support. :blush

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The Peter Principle (1969, 2011) by Laurence J. Peter, Raymond Hill, Foreword by Robert I. Sutton.
 
Friends often recommend me books that they have read, mainly because they had read it and found something interesting in it.  It does not have to be necessarily a great book, just one they have read.  That was the case with this book.  It is not a bad little book.  It is funny, has one pertinent issue which the whole book is based on and one can glean from that.  The thesis, of course is the title which is defined as “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”  This has been the basis for countless Dilbert cartoons.* I think I can safely say that this book is nowhere near as well-known as it was among businessmen in the 1970s and 80s.  It is a funny, quick and quotable book that will be more of use to those who have worked in a hierarchical environment to relate to the tales of woe discussed here – though sometimes it is just human nature to try to rise as high as one can until that person is no longer as competent in the higher or different roles.  This is one of the reasons why in the military one is supposed to retire if one does not get say a promotion after a few years or why Michael Jordan was not as successful in baseball.  Laurence Peter creates a decent amount of new diction (which sometimes I found annoying) to refer his new science of Hierarcheology. He is usually quite succinct in his chapters that it does not take long to finish it.  But for those interested in business (and read business books) I think it is a worthy read especially as you might see some of the examples in your own job. 
 
* Scott Adams has read it and has referenced it several times including this quotation: “Lately...the Peter Principle has given way to the "Dilbert Principle." The basic concept of the Dilbert Principle is that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.”  Which is from his book The Dilbert Principle.

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Dismantling America (2010) by Thomas Sowell
 
Sowell has recently retired from writing his Townhall column.  His sagacious essays will be missed.  This book is a collection of essays that were originally published as his syndicated newspaper column.  They are about a plethora of various issues focused on Government Policies, Political Issues, Economic Issues, Cultural Issues, Legal Issues and an end section on Random Thoughts.  This was enjoyable, but I tend to prefer to read his longer, more formal and in-depth writings where he puts a lot more research into and I can thumb through copious amount of endnotes.  This being informal there are no footnotes and it has more of a casual feel.  This might be a good start for someone who has not read Sowell before though.  One aspect that annoyed me was that in did not have the original printing date for each article. I tend to like that when I look at these type of collection like Michael Shermer’s Skeptic (who also got to put the longer version of essays in when he could or he did some rewriting.)  
 
They Got Me Covered (1941) by Bob Hope, Intro by Bing Crosby
 
I was pretty ecstatic when I found this early paperback first-edition release, the first book from Bob Hope (ghostwritten of course), but it had the original Pepsodent wrapper so that was an automatic buy.  At least two million of these books were sold/given away.  It is a humorous “autobiography” that is about as truthful as Leslie Nielsen’s The Naked Truth (a fun book) or any book by Bob Hope.  I have read of a short release hardback copy of this with his autograph (the softback has a printed autograph so that worries me a bit that the small amount of hardback copies might have that instead, and the sellers are wrong in their description, of a legitimate autograph if I were to purchase it.)  A fun book but really more of a curio, plus I could not pass one that had the originally wrapper, which unfortunately is very flimsy so I wonder how the one I had lasted for so many years.  I am a big Bob Hope fan and the introduction by Bing Crosby (or a ghostwriter) is peachy-keen.  Hilarious to see Bing Crosby rip into Hope so early in their careers (though they had both been doing that shtick on the radio.)

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Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method Vol. 1 (1977) by Bruce Lee, Mitoshi Uyehara
 
There are four volumes (these would later be published together in one book) that were published in 1977 (copyright 1976) several years after Lee’s death with the help of Black Belt magazine’s founder Mitoshi Uyehara.  This is my least favorite of the four.  But it was a big success selling and has multiple printings and various languages.  It reminds me too much of his previous book Chinese Gung Fu with too many set patterns and tortured positioning to accomplish the self-defense techniques.  It really is the kind of martial art book he was rallying against later on.  I feel this is one of the big reasons he did not publish this and instead worked on The Tao of Jeet Kune Do which was also released posthumously.  All four volumes state the reason this was not published during Lee’s lifetime as “[Bruce Lee] decided against it when he learned that martial arts instructors were using his name to promote themselves.”* A kind of strange reason to me because you do not need books to pretend to know a particular person’s style/philosophy.  And with this book it has the usual copious amount of groin and eye strikes prevalent in Lee’s philosophy of fighting.  There are seven chapters that deal with defense on Surprise Attack, An Unarmed Assailant, Grabbing, Choke Holds and Hugs (trying to hug him will result in a knee to the groin), An Armed Assailant, Multiple Assailants, A Vulnerable Position. It has a lot of photos that were not previously published of Lee with Dan Inosanto, Ted Wong, and Raymond Huang, most taken around 1966.
 
* Bruce does write about it in his correspondence found in the epistolary Letters of the Dragon and John Little comments on it as well.  What little he says about this correlates, but not definitively, to what I wrote above.

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