February 19, 2006


This worked surprisingly well last time, so maybe we'll try it every few weeks: for a long weekend with not much going on, how about some discussion and recommendations?

Here are three questions about what you've found especially good to read, listen to, or watch recently--the less well-known your discovery the better since I'm really just fishing for ideas (we'll phrase the questions for maximum hippness, but don't fret if you still use a Betamax and an 8-track player):

My favorite recent discovery for my iPod is:

Thunderbirds are Go! (Busted)

It wasn't just the film that rocked--ask any 4 year old.

My favorite recent discovery at Netflix is:

Hamish MacBeth

Robert Carlyle, who had a star turn as an overenthusiastic Liverpool fan in the great series Cracker, plays M. C. Beaton's Scottish constable in a village that'll remind you of Local Hero. Carlyle later worked in a couple of Danny Boyle's flicks and Boyle wrote and directed a couple episodes of this tv series.

My favorite recent book discovery is:

Prayers for the Assassin (Robert Ferrigno)

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2006 10:27 AM

music: just ordered 3x albums by "Steeleye Span", a british folk-rock group. other recent purchases include 2x albums by "Marillion" and a group called "Mor Cheeba". on the lookout for any jazz albums with a middle eastern influence.

tv: "Criminal Minds" a superb crime drama without gore, and a willingness to have some happy endings.

"House" an excellent medical drama starring hugh laurie ("Bertie Wooster") without much gore. he plays a very acerbic character that is one of the top diagnosticians in the country, but has many personal demons to battle.

film: ebay has many oop titles (bootlegs of varying quality); two recent huge scores were "Midnight Man" a great but little known burt lancaster crime drama from '72, and "Female On The Beach" a very entertaining joan crawford title, filmed and set in my home town.

books: AOG put me onto a new sci-fi author, Stephen Baxter; just ordered "Vacuum Diagrams" and "Ring". favorite sci-fi authors are PKD and Frank Herbert. favorite book ever: "The True Believer" by Hoffer.

topic i would like to see discussed here: manifesto for a new political party.

Posted by: toe at February 17, 2006 8:16 PM

I have been enjoying the encore season of The Closer on TNT. I love Criminal Minds, as well.

Posted by: Stormy70 at February 17, 2006 9:19 PM

iPod, who needs?
DVD, Steve McQueens "LeMans"
Book(s), so far, George R.R. Martins first four volumes of "The Song of Fire and Ice"
Music, "Elko" by Railroad Earth
Saw "Thunderbirds, Go", OK, and have "Prayers for the Assassin" on order.
For a great Netflix bargain, buy the 50's TV series "Naked City".

Posted by: Mike Daley at February 17, 2006 9:32 PM

I've only heard the 30-sec iTunes samples, but "Graciasland" by "El Vez" sounds like it could be entertaining, especially if you have strong feelings about Tom Tancredo.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 17, 2006 9:48 PM

1. CD: Soundtrack to Wong Kar Wai's hauntingly beautiful latest, 2046.


Also do not miss his masterpiece, In the Mood for Love, available on DVD.

2. Book: re-reading Chandler's novels (tonight: The Long Goodbye, his masterpiece). Brilliant plots and perfect, intelligent prose. The Mark Twain of his century.

3. DVD: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Korea 2002) Director: Chan-wook Park. (Rated H for Heavy)


4. Magnificat: http://www.magnificat.net/us/indexus.htm

Posted by: Brother Qiao at February 17, 2006 10:05 PM


Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit

Funniest movie from beginning to end I've seen in a long time.

Posted by: Rick T. at February 17, 2006 10:08 PM

Just saw the Limey, Sexy Beast and L4yer Cake, three British gangster films that I can highly recommend.

Brian Setzer Orchestra's Ultimate Collection is a live album that is very good. Upbeat, swinging and full-bore on every song.

Jack's Skillet is an average book about the author's love affair with home cooking and the cast iron skillet in particular. However, the recipes are far better than the "book" and worth the price of admission, especially the biscuits and lard pie crust. Gotta love the lard.

My mother gave me Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton and I am 2/3 through. Wonderful book, mesmerising. Chesterton seems like the kind of guy I would like to have as a friend. A friend who was 100 times smarter than me.

On the weird front, there is a documentary on TV now called The Man Whose Arms Exploded. It is about a bodybuilder who injected inert oils into his arms so that they became freakishly huge. Fascinating.

Posted by: Pepys at February 17, 2006 10:23 PM

DVD should maybe be John Wayne's best, "The Quiet Man". Watching now on TCM, probably umpteenth viewing, and it is always is sooo good!
Apologies to all that I'm still so computer illiterate I can't post html code in comments.

Posted by: Mike Daley at February 17, 2006 10:26 PM

My favorite recent discovery for my iPod is:

Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire
Greatest hits of the Man in Black. Turned on to his music thanks to the recent movie.

My favorite recent discovery at Netflix is:

Arrested Development
Pure genius.

My favorite recent book discovery is:

Understanding The Muslim Mind by Rajmohan Gandhi
8 excellent portraits of noted Indian Muslims by Gandhi's grandson.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at February 17, 2006 10:53 PM

If Ring of Fire is on your list, then you have to find, iPod or not, Cash's great three CD "Murder-Love-God".

Posted by: Mike Daley at February 17, 2006 11:16 PM

john wayne's best is indisputably "The Searchers".

Posted by: toe at February 18, 2006 12:43 AM


Ever check out the Chesterton program on EWTN?:


Posted by: oj at February 18, 2006 8:01 AM

Recent discovery for my [iTunes]: Delerium, Poem

Recent discovery at [Blockbuster]: the only movie I've seen in the past couple months was Chronicles of Narnia, in the theatre, and I'm not sure that counts

Recent book discovery: Stephen Vincent, In the Red Zone: a Journey Into the Soul of Iraq

Posted by: Mike Morley at February 18, 2006 9:13 AM

The Searchers is one of the Duke's best, but The Shootist is undeniably the best of Wayne's films. Although I personally prefer his westerns like Rio Bravo and Big Jake, or the Ford Trilogy (Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Grande).

Posted by: Robert Modean at February 18, 2006 10:16 AM


Legends of the Ukelele (Rhino Records). You can skip Tiny Tim, but Johnny Marvin's 12 Street Rag rocks.

Nordic Roots Volume 3. If I knew how to type umlauts, I'd list more of the band names. I like Vasen (umlaut on the a) in particular, and the sound of the nyckelharpa (keyed like an autoharp, bowed like a fiddle) somehow fits the gray winter we've been having.

Video: Southpark Seasons 1 through 4. I don't have cable, so I hadn't seen any of these. Those dudes are seriously sick geniuses.

Posted by: Ted Welter at February 18, 2006 10:18 AM

i will have to re-watch "The Shootist" as i haven't seen it since it's theatrical release.

another movie i meant to put in my original posting is "The Empty Mirror" a unique take on hitler. the movie is set in ambiguous surroundings that look like it might be underground. i can't really do it justice in a short post here, but look it up on imdb.com and check it out for yourself.

Posted by: toe at February 18, 2006 12:49 PM

Book: The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery and Invention by Robert Temple


DVD: The Clash: West Way to the World

CD: Talk Talk: Laughingstock (1991)

Posted by: Mike at February 18, 2006 1:51 PM


Teaching A Stone To Talk (Annie Dillard)
Shakey: Neil Young's Biography (James McDonough)


Steely Dan/Greatest Hits (MCI Canada version)
American Beauty (Grateful Dead)


Waiting for Guffman
Stand By Me

Posted by: ghostcat at February 18, 2006 2:28 PM

ghost: i thing the comment function is hiccuping a bit today. the same thing happened to me and i am pretty sure it wasn't because i was in the wrong thread.

Posted by: toe at February 18, 2006 2:59 PM


If you're looking for Middle Eastern jazz, I've got two suggestions: ARAM OF THE TWO RIVERS by Jonas Hellborg, the Swedish bassist (available at www.bardorecords.com ; listen to the MP3 samples to see if it's up your alley). It's a live album, recorded in Syria with local percussionists; soothing drones and slowly developing themes, much like the raga in many ways. Speaking of which, Hellborg has also recorded with Indian musicians, with similar results; I've liked everything I've heard by him so far.

My other pick goes back to 1958, and might be out of print now. (Try a search on www.concordmusicgroup.com ; this had been available on Fantasy, but a lot of their older titles seem to have been dropped when the label was purchased by Concord.) JAZZ SAHARA was recorded by Ahmed Abdul-Malik, a Syrian-American who in the 'Fifties played afternoons at a Middle Eastern restaurant (on oud) and the evenings with Thelonious Monk (on bass). This set finds him on oud with his restaurant band, playing traditional melodies behind Johnny Griffin, doing his typical throaty, grit-imbued tenor. The band does not improvise and Griffin makes no attempt to "sound Eastern" - the styles, played together, remain entirely separate, and somehow it still works. If you like Griffin (and he is one of my favorites), this album is an unexpected treat.

Tell me what you think of the Steeleye Span albums when you get to hear them. Recently I've picked up PLEASE TO SEE THE KING, their 1971 album, on vinyl at a local thrift shop, but have yet to hear it. That's how it is for a collector: endless time spent getting new stuff, no time spent actually doing anything with what you get!

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 18, 2006 4:23 PM

jbj: thanks for the music tip. hopefully i will get the cd's before this post scrolls off the bottom of the blog, so i can let you know about the Steeley Span albums -- one of which is the same as your album purchase (wish i had the vinyl version, too :)

Posted by: toe at February 19, 2006 11:10 AM

Looks like I made a mistake on the above reviews; Ahmed Abdul-Malik was Sudanese, not Syrian. Everything else I said about JAZZ SAHARA remains true, and it apparently can be purchased on Amazon right now, complete with sound samples. They also have a CD I didn't know about called JAZZ SOUNDS OF AFRICA: based on the sound samples this is a far more conventional album, and I'd argue a weaker one. Most of it seems like standard jazz with a few Eastern instruments playing along; on several tunes Abdul-Malik plays normal walking-bass patterns, only on oud. There is also a German CD reissue of Abdul-Malik's 1959 album for RCA, EAST MEETS WEST, about which I know nothing. That one is not available at Amazon and may be out of print, but could still be obtained from a mail-order jazz specialist.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 20, 2006 6:41 AM

book: Ian McEwan's "Saturday"

London neurosurgeon leaves home Saturay morning for his weekend squash game. Things happen.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at February 20, 2006 8:07 PM