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Category Archives: books

A Beatles Playlist for Lord of the Rings

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Department of Pop Culture Worlds Colliding: Did you know that many years ago, the Beatles wanted to star in a movie version of “The Lord of the Rings” books? And that said film would be directed by Stanley Kubrick? With John Lennon as Gollum? I can only imagine what the soundtrack’s playlist would look like:

I WANT TO HOLD THE PRECIOUS

NORWEGIAN ORCS

SAURON IN THE SKY WITH EYEBALL

I AM THE BALROG

UNCLE ELROND

THE BALLAD OF SAM AND FRODO

GOL-LEM-DI, GOL-LEM-DA

A DAY IN THE SHIRE

TRINKET TO HIDE

AXMAN

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY ENTS

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO MORDOR

This has been your daily Nerd Alert.

Five Unromantic “Hearts”

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Today is a day for hearts: Ones that are given, ones that are won over and ones that are filled with tasty chocolates. But if I may, here are five more hearts that are worthy of consideration. They aren’t romantic, but they’re full of soul.

YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART

There’s a very good reason that everyone from Louis Armstrong to LeAnn Rimes has recorded this song. It has a plaintive purity drenched in heartache. As performed by its author, Hank Williams, it’s also a masterpiece. He reels everyone in by the second line, “You cry and cry and try to sleep,” and has us nodding knowingly by the time he gets to, “Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you.” The song was released in 1953, after Williams’ death.

YOUNG @ HEART

Truly an inspiring piece of work, “Young @ Heart” is a 2007 documentary about a senior citizen chorus in Northampton, Mass. The film is both hilarious and heartbreaking. There is a moment when an old man sits in a chair and sings the Coldplay song, “Fix You,” that will give your emotions a profound workout.

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER

Young artists also inspire. In this case, Carson McCullers was only in her early 20s when her great novel was published in 1940. It is the story of a deaf man, John Singer, and his encounters with various people in a small Georgia town, including an awkward girl and a union organizer. The book was revelatory for me, as it was for so many readers, detailing the degree to which we yearn for human connection while being tragically unable to clearly see even the people directly in our midst.

BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE

If you have kids, at some point or another they come home from high school and mention they’re reading this book for class. You know what this means: In the near future, you will need to sit down with your sweet kid, put an arm around their shoulders and say, “Yes, this happened. It was awful, and it happened.” Dee Brown’s book about what happened to Native American tribes in the late 1800s was published in 1970. It will leave you reeling long before you get to the fate of the Sioux at Wounded Knee, S.D.

THE TELL-TALE HEART

Short stories don’t get any better than Edgar Allan Poe’s classic take on murder and guilt, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” If you haven’t read it since you were a kid, take another look. The writing is miraculous in its pacing and heightened tension. It’s just as effective now as it must have been in 1843.

So that’s five and we’ve barely scratched the surface. What are some of YOUR essential “hearts”?

Charles Dickens 200th Birthday Reboot

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Since today is the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, we here at The Jimbo List are wondering what his novels would be like if he was writing in 2012. “It was the best of puns, it was the worst of puns…”

THE PICKWICK PDFs

THE ONLINE CURIOSITY SHOP

NICHOLAS NICKELBACK

LOWERED EXPECTATIONS

THAT DUDE COPPERFIELD

BLEAK HOUSEWIVES OF PICCADILLY

LOL DORRIT

OLIVER TWEETS

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN’S DROID

A TALE OF TWO DIDDYS

A CHRISTMAS RINGTONE

Forgive me, Mr. D.

Two-By-Two: A List of Twins

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Adam Sandler’s new movie, “Jack and Jill,” has me thinking about famous twins. It’s amazing how many there are. This List could easily have been doubled.

LUKE SKYWALKER & PRINCESS LEIA

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are fictional twin royalty. Their family ties were at the heart of the “Star Wars” mythos, first providing a nice plot twist and then fueling the emotional arc of the main characters.

THE WINKLEVOSS TWINS

You have to give Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss credit for tenacity. First they were (at the very least) outmaneuvered by Mark Zuckerberg for control of Facebook. Then their various lawsuits went nowhere. Then they came off looking less than sympathetic in “The Social Network.” Yet they still held their heads high and got a pistachio commercial.

“THE PARENT TRAP” TWINS

No offense to Lindsay Lohan’s legion of fans, but I prefer the 1961 version of “The Parent Trap,” with Hayley Mills. The craziness of this movie slaps you in the face when you sit there and realize how screwed up the parents are. They each take a twin in the divorce and NEVER TELL THEM. Wow.

THE MINNESOTA TWINS

Named after the Twin Cities, baseball’s Twins began playing in Minneapolis in 1961. This may sound odd, but the thing I kind of loved about them was that their home field for many years had a right field extension wall made of plastic. Everyone called it the “Baggie.”

THE BUSH TWINS

Barbara and Jenna, the daughters of former President George W. Bush, turn 30 later this month, on Nov 25. I think they, like all presidential children, deserve a lifetime of peace, quiet and dignity.

EVIL TWINS

Evil twins are just plain fun. There’s no pretense; it’s simply a group of creative people telling an audience: “We’re taking one of our boring, nice characters and letting her raise some hell. Possibly while wearing a dark wig.” My favorite was Serena, Elizabeth Montgomery’s evil twin on TV’s “Bewitched.”

DOMINICK AND THOMAS BIRDSEY

Connecticut’s own Wally Lamb put twins at the center of his novel, “I Know This Much Is True.” I won’t ruin the plot here for people who want to read this masterful work, but I will say it put the lie to any notion that New Englanders lead boring lives.

THE WONDER TWINS

Let’s see. You’ve got a group of superheroes called the Super Friends, with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. What’s missing? Bingo! A twin brother and sister who can only activate their powers when they touch hands. Thanks, Zan and Jayna. Problem solved.

TIKI & RONDE BARBER

The Barbers were highly enjoyable players to watch, even if Tiki did get a little mouthy about his former teammates after he left the New York Giants. Seeing him and Ronde in opposing uniforms had a way of looking like a promo for a sci-fi movie about cloned athletes.

THE OLSEN TWINS

They make the List for two reasons. One, they were hugely popular from the time they were TV toddlers on “Full House.” And two, their success always baffled me.

ROMULUS & REMUS

Fittingly, the story of Romulus and Remus is like two myths in one. First is the miracle of their survival. They were left to die as infants, only to be nursed by a she-wolf and then adopted by a shepherd. As adults, they discovered they were royalty. So they retake their land in ancient Italy – only to fight over where to build a new city. Remus is killed; Romulus builds the new city and calls it Rome. That’s harsh, man.

THE BOBBSEY TWINS

One set of twins wasn’t enough for this long-running series of children’s books. There were two duos: Nan and Bert, and Freddie and Flossie. They had adventures and solved mysteries, all very mild, in such ripping yarns as “The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore,” and “The Bobbsey Twins at School.” Call me when “The Bobbsey Twins Change Their Smartphone Plan” is published.

THE DOUBLEMINT TWINS

The folks at the Wrigley Company have kept twins gainfully employed as spokeswomen for years. Their ranks include future TV stars Tia and Tamera Mowry and Jean and Elizabeth Sagal, sisters of the terrific actress Katey Sagal.

THE TWIN TOWERS

Ten years on, I still experience very strong, very complicated emotions when I see a photo or film clip of the towers. You do, too.

Peace out.

Hold That Colon (Punctuation Make-overs)

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If you’re like me, you often take your colon for granted. Same goes for your comma, dash, exclamation point and other keyboard hieroglyphics. But with National Punctuation Day coming up later this week (Sept. 24), I decided to see what a few pop culture standards would look like with some punctuation tweaks. Here goes.

DR. WHO?

A GROOVY (KIND OF) LOVE

MOBY: DICK

OH. CALCUTTA.

BLOWIN’ IN: THE WIND

LARRY KING – LIVE?

TURN! TURN! TURN!

BRIDGE > TROUBLED WATER

DANCES, WITH WOLVES

A DAY IN “THE LIFE”

SCHINDLER’S LIST!

M&A&S&H

A TREE GROWS – IN BROOKLYN?

#OKLAHOMA

PLEASE DON’T; EAT THE DAISIES

GOOD…FELLAS?

BRILLIANT DISGUISE!

* AND THE MYSTERIANS

SHAWSHANK: REDEMPTION

BOB/CAROL/TED/ALICE

EASY, RIDER

IT’S A MAD-MAD?MAD(MAD) WORLD

Now it’s your turn. Add to the List!

The Masters of Meek

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You’ve got to admire the meek and mighty. It’s easy for a pretty boy or a musclebound nincompoop to carry a movie or TV show – especially if  there are explosions and sexy co-stars to help. But a successful shy guy needs something else, a certain undercurrent of humanity that carries the day. Here are some classic Masters of Meek.

JOHN FIEDLER

Here we have an absolute titan of timidity. Mr. Fiedler’s diminuitive appearance and whisper of a voice made him indispensable in movies, sitcoms and cartoons for decades. He was Mr. Peterson in “The Bob Newhart Show,” Juror No. ??? in “12 Angry Men,” Attorney Daggett in John Wayne’s “True Grit,” and, best of all, the voice of Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh films.

BOB NEWHART

Speaking of  Newhart, he took a stage stammer, great comic timing and a buttoned-down brilliance and melded them into one of the best comedy careers ever. Hi, Bob! (That’s for all the former “Newhart” college drinking game participants out there.)

WOODY ALLEN

Before he was a  neurotic movie directing legend, before he was a  neurotic tabloid topic, Allen was a neurotic nebbish. People have been copying his nervous gestures, facial expressions and speech patterns for a couple of generations now.

MILLHOUSE

Would Bart Simpson’s antics seem anywhere near as dangerous if we didn’t have Millhouse around to react to them? I think not.

WALLY COX

I suspect the public’s awareness of Wally is waning, and it’s too bad. He was terrific in his deadpan, mild-mannered delivery. Fans will remember him as “Mr. Peepers,” the voice of “Underdog,” and a regular part of “Hollywood Squares.”

PERCY DOVETONSILS

Again with the glasses! But this time, the specs were essential to the character. Percy was the creation of that great TV comedy innovator, Ernie Kovacs.

MAX WRIGHT

He wasn’t a household name, but I’ll bet you recognize him, don’t you? He was the exasperated dad on “ALF” and the exasperated boss on “Buffalo Bill,” among other roles.

WALTER MITTY

The great James Thurber thought up Mitty, a henpecked husband who daydreams his life away with fantasies of grandeur.

DAVID HYDE PIERCE

This guy occupies a special place in meekdom, because his characters are so quick-witted. His years as Niles Crane on “Frasier” neatly coincide with the first big wave of nerd superstars.

TODD LOUISO

If you’ve seen “High Fidelity,” you know why he’s on this list. Mr. Louiso plays many other kinds of roles, as well. Still, he’s awesome as a timid, record store guy.

BASHFUL

Grumpy, Dopey and Doc got all the attention, but you know you loved this dude, too.

JON CRYER

Cryer is a rock of prissy consistency. He endured hideous 1980s fashions and hideous Charlie Sheen headlines with equal aplomb. Some might paint him as a 21st century Tony Randall, but I see him more as a modern…

DON KNOTTS

His bug-eyes and nervous tics made him a superstar of shyness. Imagine – he took the secondary character of Barney Fife and made it one of the enduring bits of TV history. Then he went on to a highly successful movie career, starring in a series of comedy films, such as “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” and “The Shakiest Gun in the West.” Meek and mighty, indeed.

So who did I forget?

A Modern Library of Bad Vacations

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Any summer vacation worth its saltwater has an epic quality to it. This is particularly true for bad summer vacations. Here’s what they might look like in literary form.

ONE FLEW OVER THE RENTAL CAR COUNTER

WATERSLIDE DOWN

ZEN AND THE ART OF LOST LUGGAGE MAINTENANCE

A ROOM WITH A PUGH

SOMETHING WICKER THIS WAY COMES

AS I LAY BURNING

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING IN BEACH TRAFFIC

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S SCREAM

THE CALL OF THE WILD TODDLER IN THE SEAT BEHIND YOU

THE AGE OF JELLYFISH

TENDER IS THE BITE

THE WINNEBAGO OF OUR DISCONTENT

A FAREWELL TO CARBS

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AARP

BLOOD AND SAND

BLEAK HOUSE

THE CONSTIPATED TOURIST

LORD OF THE FLIES, TICKS, MOSQUITOES AND THOSE SPIDERS THAT JUMP

May all of your vacations be good ones. But bring the First Aid kit anyway, just in case.

Dr. Seuss Books Written in a Heat Wave

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You can read them while you melt! You can read them while you smelt!

HORTON HEARS HIS OWN PULSE

HOW THE GRINCH SUDDENLY BURST INTO FLAMES

FOX IN CROCS

OH, THE PLACES YOU CAN’T GO!

HOP ON POP! AGAIN! CLEAR! HOP ON POP!

ONE FAN TWO FANS RED FAN BLUE FAN

THE LORAX IS MELTING

MARVIN K. MOONEY, IF YOU TOUCH THE AC AGAIN I’M GOING TO MESS YOU UP

GREEN EGGS AND HAM FRYING ON THE SIDEWALK

MR. BROWN CAN SWEAT! CAN YOU?

IF I RAN THE POWER GRID

THE SNEETCHES SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST

Stay cool, people!

12 Harry Potter Books We’ll Never Get to Read

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As the final Harry Potter movie makes its way to theaters this week, millions of fans will be reminded all over again that no more stories about the boy wizard are forthcoming. But maybe it’s for the best. Do we really want to see Harry struggle through the adventures of adulthood? Consider these books we’ll never have to read:

Harry Potter and the Wedding Toast Fiasco

Harry Potter and the Proctologist’s Tone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce Picnic

Harry Potter and the Deadly Halitosis

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Ambition

Harry Potter and the Revenge of “Reply All”

Harry Potter and the Sales Conference in Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Price Prints

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Ibuprofen

Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Alumni Fund Phone Calls

Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Coupons

Harry Potter and the Awkward Car Ride With the Babysitter

 

Are there others I’ve left out? Feel free to add a few more!

 

A Dozen Great “Greens”

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In honor of the new Green Lantern movie, here’s a tip of the cap to 12 people, places and things as cool as their emerald hue. Red and blue may get most of the attention, black may be more sophisticated and green itself may have had its name co-opted by the environmental movement, but these 12 are evergreens.

JOLLY GREEN GIANT

Aside from Mr. Clean, what fictional product spokesman is as ominously cool as the J.G. Giant? He barely speaks, we mainly only see his hands, AND we were willing to buy corn from him for years that didn’t even look like real corn!

MOE GREEN

For those unfamiliar with “The Godfather,” Moe is a Vegas casino owner who unwisely rebuffs Michael Corleone’s business offer. Not a week goes by among my circle of friends without at least one Moe Green reference. It’s great shorthand for misplaced indignation. Poor Moe.

NEW HAVEN GREEN

There are centuries of history here, but that’s not why I love the Green. I’ve sat here on a blanket with my wife and listened to music; started and finished road races; met friends for bike rides; strolled past before dinners and after bar hopping; attended more rallies than I can count. Life happens on this Green.

GREEN ONIONS

God bless Booker T & the MGs, and that Hammond organ.

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY

John Ford’s 1941 film is wonderful, but Richard Llewellyn’s book is a rich, soulful look at family, fate, love and hard work in a coal mining village in Wales. I’m a sucker for that stuff.

SETH GREEN

So jealous of this kid. Not only is he part of “Family Guy” and “Robot Chicken,” but he’s been in some of my favorite “Austin Powers” scenes.

GREEN LANTERN

Don’t know if the new movie is any good, but the Hal Jordan of the 1960s and ’70s was super good. I always got a kick out of the fact that he could manifest near-limitless energy into anything he wanted, and he often chose a huge, green boxing glove. Dumb as it sounds, that’s EXACTLY what most guys would do.

THE BIG GREEN MONSTER

I don’t have a horse in the whole Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, being a National League guy, but I have a healthy respect for any ballpark willing to replicate the exciting ricochets my friends and I experienced playing Wiffle Ball next to my parents’ house. There always has to be a Fenway Park.

SYDNEY GREENSTREET

Before there was the Kingpin, before there was Jabba the Hutt, there was Sydney Greenstreet. His voice was like molasses poured on sandpaper. Here’s a scene from a relatively minor work, 1948’s “The Woman in White.”

WINNING THE GREEN JACKET AT THE MASTERS

It’s the ugliest jacket everyone wants to have. I can’t think of a better way to honor it than to show the finish of the 1986 Masters.

SOYLENT GREEN

I forget – what is Soylent Green, again?

IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN

Not easy at all; not easy at all.