Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Few Reviews

I am putting on my amateur critic’s hat and giving you my review of some movies and books I have recently seen and read.  Inasmuch as very few people agree with my opinions and views as to any subject, this blog entry will have limited appeal to anyone except the criminally insane.  I doubt the criminally insane will agree with my views but since they are in fact insane that may find appeal in just reading them and discussing them with the voices inside their head.   The “Bud Rating Scale” is a 0 through 10 point scale as opposed to the normal 4 star scale the professional critics sometime use.  With that preamble here we go:

Movies
Midnight in Paris.  This movie was written and directed by Woody Allen.  Woody does not act in the film.  I have wanted to see the movie for quite a while but for some reason I never took the time to see it at the theater.  I watched it on cable on demand over the holidays.  I loved the filmt but the Lovely Sharon thought it was just “ok”.  I give Midnight in Paris 7 points.  I liked the opening of the movie which was several minutes of shots of Paris accompanied by Sidney Bechet's jazzy “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere”.  I like the movie’s sound track which includes songs by Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, Louis Armstrong and Glen Miller among others.  I like the midnight time travel to the 1920’s Paris.  Paris in the 1920’s has always been one of my favorite time periods and locations.  I have read a number of books and articles about the artists, writers and philosophers who congregated in Paris between World War I and World War II.  Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald (and his wife Zelda), Salvador Dali, Josephine Baker and other personalities from Paris of the 1920’s are characters in the movie.  I liked the cinematography and I liked the dialogue.  I liked the movie so much I am going to buy the dvd and also download the sound track from Itunes.

My Week with Marilyn. This film is based upon two books written by Colin Clark about his interaction with Marilyn Monroe during the 1957 filming of the Prince and the Show Girl.  This was another film I ranked a 7 Pointer, almost 8 points.  I have been to England 5 or 6 times and it is one of my favorite destinations.  So I am inclined to like things English.  I loved the period automobiles in the film. I have been watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theater.  The actor who plays the head butler in Downton Abbey, Jim Carson, plays the pub owner in My Week with Marilyn.  Now that is interesting.   Michelle Williams portrayal of Marilyn is terrific.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I have not read the book but I did see the Swedish version of this film and have now seen the English language version. I thought Daniel Craig and the rest of cast did a fine job, but the plot and the cinematography were equally dark.  I suppose the film is a favorite of the professional critics but for me I give it 5 points.  The tattooed and body pierced investigator, was smart but seemed to have had a dark and miserable life.  The whole thing was depressing for me.

Book
Lucking Out (My Life Getting Down and Semi Dirty in Seventies New York) – James Wolcott.  Mr. Wolcott writes a column about film, books and other cultural events for Vanity Fair Magazine. He is a good writer and I enjoy his magazine columns but this book gets 3 points from me.  I was glad when I arrived at the last page.  There are no chapters in the book, instead there are several long sections so even the layout of the book was a source of irritation for me.  The book was a description of Mr. Wolcott’s interaction with various writers, critics, musicians, theater people and dancers during the 1970’s when he wrote for the Village Voice.  I suppose if you were one of the in-crowd of these cultural “giants” the book might have been more significant.. But for this Podunk lawyer from Utah, the 1970’s was the time I graduated from high school, graduated from college, graduated from law school and started law practice. I was very busy in that decade.   Pauline Kael, the film critic for the New Yorker during the 1970’s, who is the subject of an entire section of the book, was not someone I knew of during this period and now that I have read about her, it strikes me that I did not miss much.  The book has significant section describing the punk music scene and the porno scene in 1970’s New York.   I have read a few reviews of this book that were highly favorable, I did not particularly like it, did not feel it enhanced my life and did not find it entertaining.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Movies

I like movies.  I watch them at theaters and I watch them at home.  I don’t like the blood and guts movies and while I am not prudish, I don’t like movies with and overabundance of profanity.   I like action movies, I like mysteries, I like chick flicks (by this I mean movies like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle”), I like film noir, I like movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s, I like comedies.  It is hard to create a list of favorite movies since I can’t remember all of them, but here are some I have enjoyed over the years:

 Bogie Movies: Casa Blanca; Maltese Falcon; The Big Sleep; and Key Largo

Tom Hanks Movies: You’ve Got Mail; Sleepless in Seattle; Cast Away; The Man with One Red Shoe; Saving Private Ryan, Angels and Demons; The Da Vinci Code; Philadelphia; and Forest Gump

 The Thin Man Movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy

Most but not all of the James Bond Movies

The Indian Jones Movies

Clint Eastwood Movies: Grand Torino; all of the Dirty Harry Movies; Absolute Power; In the Line of Fire, Play Misty for Me

 Movies with Book Themes: The Jane Austin Book Club; and 84 Charing Cross Road

Denzel Washington Movies: The Pelican Brief; Remember the Titans; The Bone Collector; and John Q

Robert Redford Movies: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; The Way We Were, Barefoot in the Park; All the President’s Men; Three Days of Condor, Havana; Out of Africa; A River Runs Through It (he did not act in this film)

Foreign Language Films: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; Belle de Jour

Most but Not All Woody Allen Movies

Kevin Kline Movies:  The Big Chill; Silverado; Dave; Life as a House; The Emperor’s Club; French Kiss; and In and Out

 This is only my first batch of Favorite Movies.  I will come up with some additional movies and categories and post again.  If you have some favorite movies or favorite categories, post them on this blog or email them to me.  Happy Holidays


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas

Christmas time.  It is already here and it gets here faster each year.  I have been thinking about what I like about Christmas and what I don’t like about Chruistmas.  I will start with the negatives.

I don’t like the fact the retailers start their Christmas push at Halloween.  It always bothers me that when I go to Kmart wearing a skeleton outfit to pick up Jaclyn Smith household item, like an 8 inch fry pan, there are already artificial Christmas trees out.

I don’t like the entire gift buying process.  If I had my druthers, I would do away with the entire gift buying tradition.  I would limit gifts to something you personally make, to words (letters, poems and stories) you personally put together and to good deeds you personally do.  So in the “Bud Christmas World”, the gifts you give would come from your own hands, from your own brain, or from your own heart. You can buy toys, electronic and gift cards anytime of the year.  For Christmas it would be nice to give and receive gifts of your own creation.

I don’t like it when Christmas Trees are called Holiday Trees.  They are Christmas Trees so call then Christmas Trees.  I have many Jewish friends and I work at the “Jewish” law firm in Salt Lake City. I respect and admire my Jewish friends and the Jewish culture and history.  But a Christmas Tree is a Christmas Tree it is not a Holiday Tree.  This time of year is also Hanukkah (‘Chanukkah, or Chanuka”), also known as the Festival of Lights, an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. This is a special and important time for my Jewish friends.  The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of the Menorah. I respect and appreciate this tradition. The Menorah is a Menorah, it is not a Holiday candle stand.  A Christmas Tree is a Christmas Tree.

Ok, now for the things I like about Christmas.

I like Christmas music.  I don’t want it to start in November, but in last week or two before Christmas I like to hear it.  In the few days before Christmas I like to sing Christmas songs at Church, in the stores, with friends and family or just by myself.  I like Christmas songs sung their traditional way.  I don’t like Silent Night or White Christmas jazzed up.  When I hear them I want them to sound just as they sounded when I was a boy. 

I like to go to Church during the Christmas season.  Not just once but a couple of times.  I like to hear the speakers talk about being a better person, helping those who need help and about having joy in your heart.  I like to sit in the Church and think about what I should do to be a better person, to help the unfortunate, to be nicer to the Lovely Sharon, to family friends and even strangers.

I like to hear someone read the biblical description of the birth of Jesus.  It’s a simple story.  The words are not fancy, but there is a warmth and peace in the words that I never tire of.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world and everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at ight. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told.

I like to hug my friends and family and say “Merry Christmas”.  For me it is just another way of saying I love you and I am so fortunate to be your friend or relative.

I like to watch Christmas movies.  I like the old ones and I like many of the newer ones.  I like the Christmas movies that are on the Lifetime TV network.  In all of these movies, there is conflict or disaster or some other tragic thing or event.  The main characters are sad or angry.  Things are bad.  But events unfold in the movie and life becomes better.  New love is found, families reunite, people begin to understand the true meaning of Christmas.  As the viewer of Christmas movies, I always feel good at the end of the movie.  Remember the sheer excitement and joy Jimmy Stewart portrayed at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, that is what Christmas is about.

I like that people wear red and put on Santa hats and wear them to the grocery store. I like to see a Christmas wreath attached to the front of a car.
 
I like that in most years I have some time between Christmas and New Year to relax, to be with the Lovely Sharon for more than 3 or 4 days at a time.

To my friends and family and to those I come in contact with I say:

Silent night, holy night
All is calm all is bright
round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ the Saviour is born!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This Stuff Bounces All Over Like a Ping Pong Ball

I have not written for a while and this entry is a potpourri of random thoughts.

1.  Last night I had a wonderful dinner with my Hidden Valley Country Club men’s golf group.  I have written before about these wonderful men and dear friends.   Wives joined the men last night for a festive dinner.  Unfortunately, the Lovely Sharon is in Palm Desert so I attended the dinner on my own.  We had dinner at an American Legion hall that I had never been to.  It is a blue collar facility that serves great steaks in a festive Christmas atmosphere.  The place was packed.  There were about 17 of us in our group and we talked, sang karaoke and just had a wonderful time. Our pal Steve got hold of the karaoke mike and it was impossible to get him off of the floor.  At one point, he even had three young women (not part of our group) acting as his backup singers.  Steve, and his wife Cathy are dear friends and wonderful people.  Cathy just started a new blog, check it out 

2.  Although I am not a huge Mitt Romney fan, today’s New York Time Magazine had a pretty good article about Mitt. Look at   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/magazine/mitt-romney-bot.html?ref=magazine

3.  Only in Utah (from the Salt Lake Tribune):

Utah duck hunter shot in buttocks by his dog
By Bob Mims, The Salt Lake Tribune.  Published: November 30, 2011 02:05PM

There’s probably not a whole lot more humiliating than being shot in the buttocks by your canine buddy. Box Elder County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Kevin Potter says that’s what happened at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge while two duck hunters were getting set up for a morning on the water.

"One of the hunters was inside the boat with the dog, and the other hunter was in the water,” Potter said. “The guy in the water had put his 12-gauge shotgun across the bow of their boat.”

It turned out to be a doggone recipe for a painful end to the day’s outing.

“The dog got excited, was jumping around inside the boat and then it jumped on the gun. It went off, shooting the [decoy setter] in the buttocks,” Potter said.

The wounded hunter was transported to Brigham City Community Hospital about 9 a.m. Sunday, where doctors removed the bird shot and released the 46-year-old Brigham City man to nurse his wounds — and pride.  The dog and any ducks within range at the time of the accident were uninjured.

4.  I am going to read Noel Coward's play "Private Lives", a 1930 comedy.  I don't know what made me want to read the play but I am going to track down a copy and read it.



5.  I like Guitarist Stevie Ray Vaugh who tragically died in a plan crash in 1990.  I have some buddies in Chicago who attended his last concert. Check out the following vido clip of his terriffic Pride and Joy -
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU0MF8pwktg

6.  My book list at the top of this blog does not include all of the books I read.  I probably read or listen to 8 or 10 books for each one I list above.  I just finished reading  "Garden of Secrets Past" by Anthony Elgrin.  It was a fairly good read and is his fifth mystery, all of which are related to English Gardens. His web site is http://web.mac.com/speedboat1/Site_2/Welcome.html

7.  I watched one of the great "Chick Flicks" yesterday, "An Affair to Remember" with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.  I have watched this movie at least 10 times in the last 30 years. I still get teary eyed in the climatic final scene in which Cary Grant real izes that Deborag Kerr had been hit by a car on was unable to walk.

8. I have two wonderful nieces (both of whom, I might add, are University of Utah graduates).  Samantha's husband Tim is an accomplished birder and has a fantastic website.  Check out:

The listing of these totally unrelated topics probably made your head spin.  That is how my goofy brain works.

Best Wishes