January 15, 2006


We've tried stuff like this before with rather limited success, but 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:

Takk by Sigur Ros

You're equally likely to find this Icelandic group annoyingly fey or oddly hypnotic and soothing. you can check out their best tune here in Quicktime for free.

My favorite recent discovery at Netflix is:

The Maigret Collection

Michael Gambon (who replaced Richard Harris as Dumbledore and is best known from the Singing Detective) is terrific as George Simenon's Chief Inspector of the Paris police.

My favorite recent book discovery is:

Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden

Everything you could ask for in historical fiction, including a healthy disregard for overstrict adherence to fact.

-Sigur Rós (Wikipedia)
Iceland's Ethereal Sigur Ros in Concert (NPR.org, September 11, 2005)
-REVIEW: Sigur Ros (All Things Considered, November 20, 2002)
-REVIEW: of Takk (Amanda Petrusich, September 12, 2005, Pitchfork)

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 15, 2006 8:00 PM

My favorite recent discovery for my iPod is: Ollabelle. Hard-rockin' Gospel music that kicks Satan's butt.

My favorite recent discovery at [Blockbuster] is: Hayo Miyazawa's Kiki's Delivery Service. A sweet, delightful story and some of the best hand-drawn cell animation ever.

My favorite recent book discovery is: Eric Flint's 1632 series. A West Virginia coal town gets sucked through a time warp and ends up in central Germany in the midst of the Thirty Years War. Imaginitive and well thought-out.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 14, 2006 10:56 AM

The weekly Geeks On podcast. Bunch of geeks talking about science fiction, board games and video games. They tend to skew liberal, but I just roll my eyes when they go off on a "Bush = Devil" tear. I don't actually own an iPod, but I still listen to the mp3's.

The Fisher King More of a rediscovery, as I saw it in the theaters back in '91. Like the Coen Brothers, Terry Gilliam is a Liberal who manages to make incredibly conservative films. With its themes of redemption and the imperfectabiliy of man, The Fisher King could easily find a roost in Orrin's Top Conservative Film list.

The Cross-Time Engineer by Leo Frankowski. A Polish engineer from 1986 Poland gets drunk and passes out in a time machine from the 30th century and wakes up to find himself in 13th century Poland, with only 10 years to make Poland into a world power before the Mongols come and wipe everyone out. Goofy in places, but still a lot of fun.

Posted by: Bryan at January 14, 2006 11:00 AM

big thumbs up for Kiki, especially if you've got a daughter:


Posted by: oj at January 14, 2006 11:40 AM

"Soul Meets Body" is well on the way to becoming one of my all-time favorites.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 14, 2006 11:43 AM


Fisher King is certainly worthy, as are Brazil, Munchausen & 12 Monkeys (Lost in La Mancha too, if somewhat slight), though Amanda Plummer is so annoying as to make repeat viewings a challenge.

Here's a good review:


Posted by: oj at January 14, 2006 12:05 PM

book: Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Now that's fun swashbuckling stuff.

Posted by: b at January 14, 2006 12:21 PM


"House of Flying Daggers", now out on DVD, which is as gorgeous as it is over-the-top. Better than "flying tiger, crouching dragon". I mean it's gorgeous fighting choreography.

Posted by: Twn at January 14, 2006 12:29 PM


But what does it ultimately add up to?

My favorite from that batch is Iron Monkey.

Posted by: oj at January 14, 2006 12:31 PM


Ricky Gervais (The Office) has a downloadable show for the BBC. Very funny if you like that sort of stuff.

Asleep at the Wheel's Tribute to Bob Wills is dominating the IPOD right now. A list of A level country stars help Asleep at the Wheel redo some of Wills' best songs. Wonderful.


The Wire. I think it got some run, but I had never heard of it until recently.


Completely accurate portrayal of an attempt to bring down a ghetto Drug Lord by means of wire taps and Pen Registers.

NIP/TUCK: I feel terrible everytime I watch it, but I cannot stop. Great acting and great writing about horrible, self-centered people. You see, I ain't no saint and that Kelly Carlson is impossible to resist.


Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell: A big thick wonderful first novel that is simply hypnotic. The premise seems absurd, but the writing and storyline are so well done that I found myself actually frightened in parts. Surprising, becasue it's not really a horror story. I give it a whoelhearted recommendation.

Posted by: Pepys at January 14, 2006 12:55 PM

I've been downloading and burning from the moving pictures archive at www.archive.org.

Some of the ones I've enjoyed:


Orrin should appreciate that the witch burners defeated at the beginning of the film are vindicated in the end. Plus it has Saruman (Christopher Lee) acting very scary, even back then.


The first Jurassic Park movie, silent, 1929

They also have a fairly complete collection of pre-code betty boop cartoons, and other fleischer studios animation: superman, the full-length animated feature "Gullivers Travels."

They also have a lot of live concert audio (this is where the grateful dead stuff was pulled off and then put back up a coupla months ago), but I haven't checked much of that out.

Posted by: ted welter at January 14, 2006 12:55 PM


The Wire is the only reason I wish we had more than basic cable.

Posted by: oj at January 14, 2006 1:21 PM


How does the downloading go?

Ever seen Chronos, the Vampire Hunter?


Posted by: oj at January 14, 2006 1:22 PM

This has nothing to do with what Orrin asked, but I recently started listening to streaming "radio" through pandora.com The twist is that you create your own station. You start by naming an artist or song you like, and the station plays related songs. They determine the relationship based on a ~400 node classification of the songs done by trained musicians. You refine it by adding other seed songs or artists and approving or disapproving of the choices as they play. A pretty cool way of finding music you've never heard of that suits your tastes.


Posted by: The Other Brother at January 14, 2006 1:30 PM


House of Cards Trilogy: House of Cards,To Play the King, and The Final Cut

Ian Richardson's tour de force as an absolutely ruthless MP in a political satire.


Hatless Jack (The President, the Fedora and the History of an American Style)

More than the story of the tophat and lots of interesting trivia.

Posted by: Rick T. at January 14, 2006 2:56 PM

House of Cards is a hoot.

Posted by: oj at January 14, 2006 3:07 PM

I dig the rats scurrying around in the intro and extro shots.

And that female reporter in season 1, Maddy?, YOWZA!

Posted by: Pepys at January 14, 2006 3:54 PM

Also watching/listening to Volume 3 of the Looney Tunes. Despite what Whoopie says, it was white men who were the fools most of the time. From Hillybilly Hare, Bugs' square dance call for Punkinhead ("I might be Teddy Roosevelt but I ain't!") Martin and his brother. A classic Merrie Melodies moment:

Promenade across the floor
Sashay right on out the door
Out the door and into the glade
And everybody promenade

Step right up youíre doing fine
Iíll pull your beard, youíll pull mine
Yank it again like you did before
Break it up with a tug of war

Now into the brook and fish for the trout
Dive right in and splash about
Trout, trout, pretty little trout
One more splash and come right out

Shake like a hound dog, shake again
Wallow round in the old pigpen
Wallow some more, yíall know how
Roll around like an old fat sow

Allemande left with your left hand
Follow through with a right left brand
Now lead your partner, the dirty old thing
Follow through with an elbow swing

Grab a fence post hold it tight
Whomp your partner with all your might
Hit him in the shin, hit him in the head
Hit him again and the critter is dead.

Wop him low and wop him high
Stick your finger in his eye
Pretty little ring, pretty little sound
Bang your heads against the ground

Promenade all around the room
Promenade like a bride and groom
Open up the door and step right in
Close the door and into a spin

Whirl! Whirl! Twist and twirl
Jump all around like a flying squirrel
Now donít you cuss and donít you swear
Just come right out and form a square

Now right hand over, left hand under
Both join hands and run like thunder
Over the hill and over the dale
Tuck your head and lift your tail

Donít you stray and donít you roam
Turn around and promenade home
Corn in the crib been waiting to sack
Turn your partner, promenade back

And now youíre home. Bow to your partner. Bow to the gent across the hall. And that is all!

Posted by: Rick T. at January 14, 2006 4:52 PM

This American Life

Also on XM radio daily at 6 am and 6pm.

Per OJ, The Wire isn't the only reason I have DirectTV, but it is among the best.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at January 14, 2006 5:19 PM

oj asks, regarding archive.org, "how does downloading go?"

It takes about an hour to download a full-length movie; they have a number of different bandwidth options for most of the movies. I have cable broadband.

Someone mentioned the Looney Tunes collection...may I also recommend the first 5 volumes of the 10-volume complete Tom and Jerry collector's edition? "Yankee Doodle Mouse" and "Zoot Cat" can't be beat.

Posted by: ted welter at January 14, 2006 5:36 PM

OJ, thanks for starting this string and folks, thanks for your recommendations.

Book discoveries:

Forever, by Pete Hamill
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
The Time of our Singing, by Richard Powers
Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary, by Lawrence Kushner

Netflix discovery:

"Rescue Me" -- Dennis Leary's FX TV show

I recall "House of Cards" was delicious, and "The Wire" is fabulous.

Posted by: Jim Siegel at January 14, 2006 6:41 PM

This month TCM has been showing films by Hayao Miyazaki, which have all been excellent.

Bookwise, I've been reading A Child of the Century, the autobiography of Ben Hecht. Fascinating and often very funny. The 1933 Cagney film Picture Snatcher is close to Hecht's first job at a Chicago paper, though it wasn't based on Hecht's experiences.

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 14, 2006 7:11 PM

Don't have an iPod, but favorite new things for my iTunes include Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Down in the Alley," Ben Folds' "Songs for Silverman" and Eric Ewazen's Chamber Symphony.

Netflix discovery: two in the past few months. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Tombstone." The second one's a decade old, now, but I only got around to it recently. Anything (well, almost anything) with Kate Winslett or Kurt Russell in it is worth a look; both elevate anything they're part of.

Books: Just read "The Giver." Devastating. I've always like John Crowley as well, and "Lord Byron's Novel" was typically great.

Posted by: M. Bulger at January 14, 2006 8:51 PM

ipod: Robert Plant's Dreamland cd

DVDs: Serenity, Cinderella Man

Books: anything by Neal Stephenson

Posted by: andrew at January 14, 2006 9:39 PM


Holy the Firm - Annie Dillard

An American Childhood - Annie Dillard

Burning Fence (A Western Memoir
of Fatherhood) - Craig Lesley


Etre et Avoir (To Be and To Have)


Fountains of Wayne - Fountains of Wayne

Posted by: ghostcat at January 14, 2006 11:02 PM

My favorite recent discovery for my iPod is:

Australasia by Pelican

Awe-inspiring, soaring post-rock epic.

My favorite recent discovery at Netflix is:

Frequency starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Cavieziel.

My favorite recent book discovery is:

City of Djinns by Wiliam Dalrymple

Excellent account of modern and historical Delhi.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at January 15, 2006 9:41 AM


1942 The Year That Tried Men's Souls by Winston Groom (he was the guy who wrote Forrest Gump - although I wasn't a big fan of that).


The Winslow Boy (1999 version by David Mamet) the 1950 original is better but not yet available in DVD.

Waxworks by Paul Leni. This is a 1926 German silent movie.


Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus - The best live album ever. There are several CD's available out there; however, you have to get the original recording remastered because it has every song on it.

Posted by: pchuck at January 15, 2006 9:54 PM

Don't Bogart that joint, my friend. (The opening 30 seconds of that album give me goosebumps.)

Posted by: ghostcat at January 16, 2006 1:06 AM



Rugby played by human bumper cars. Who knew that young, single paraplegics likely have a more active sex life than able-bodied, middle-aged men?

Posted by: Rick T. at January 16, 2006 9:29 AM

Movie - His Girl Friday (one of Grant's best - and Roz Russel's)

Music - The Tubes, Young and Rich

Movie - Just received Volumes 1,2, and 3 of Looney Tunes Golden Collection. "Come Back Here You Rab bit!" (from Water, water every Hare).

Posted by: Bartman at January 16, 2006 9:47 AM