Friday, January 24, 2020


Happy Friday everybody!

Awright, awright, awright, check out my "Friday Flicks" column, online at Phoenix Magazine, for my review of Guy Ritchie's The Gentleman.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020


Your Humble Narrator made a quick trip this past weekend to Seattle with The Wife and The Kid; more a family errand than a vacation, but after we did what we went there to do we also managed a fair amount of touristy stuff including the Space Needle (I apologize in advance for my abject photography skills)...

The Kid and I went up by night...

...the view was magnificent but the more than usually imbecilic look on my face is reflective of my terror of heights. In one area of the spire the floor is glass, and I attempted to step out onto it and found that my body simply rebelled. I was disgusted with my inability to rule myself through reason, and at last was able to stand on it for, I would guess, a second and a half before retreating to the security of an opaque floor.

In the gift shop I obtained this nostalgic extruded plastic dingus in the shape of the Needle... well as this hat reading "1962," the year of the Needle's nativity and also, less auspiciously, of Your Humble Narrator's...

We also made it to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) across the street from the Space Needle, where I was able to behold, among much, much else, a real Dalek from Dr. Who...

...Billy Mumy's costume from Lost in Space...

 ...some of Ken Strickfaden's electrical equipment from the original 1931 Frankenstein...

...some Star Wars props and costumes including a Jawa...

...Captain Nemo's jacket from the Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea...

...a Martian war machine from the George Pal War of the Worlds...

...and the Witch's hat from The Wizard of Oz...

Quite the nerd reliquary, no doubt.

All this and more plus a quick visit to the breathtaking University of Washington library... two sublime seafood dinners, plus on the ride home, a postcard-worthy view of Mt. Rainier...

...and, further south, of the Grand Canyon...

Tuesday, January 7, 2020


Last Friday I presented a Top Ten List for 2019. But let’s not forget that, as of last Wednesday, the 2000-‘Teens are also in the rearview.

Here’s a Top 10 for the ‘Teens:

The Act of Killing (2012) —Joshua Oppenheimer’s shocking nonfiction film, in which participants in killings during the Indonesian massacres of the mid-‘60s re-enact their crimes for the camera, is hard to watch, but probably the movie of the decade.

The Other Side of the Wind (2018) —Released four decades belatedly, the final directorial feature of Orson Welles—shot in the ‘70s, much of it here in the Valley—is a send-up of both old-Hollywood machismo and new-Hollywood artsy posing. Superficially chaotic, it’s full of bravura sequences and fine, funny acting.

The Tree of Life (2011) —Terrence Malick takes on The Meaning of Life through the prism of a midcentury Texas family. A strange, difficult symphony of fractured narrative and beautiful acting.

Get Out (2017) —Jordan Peele’s horror comedy-melodrama about race as a hijack-able commodity was a knockout.

Moneyball (2011) —A superbly re-watchable, improbably touching sports movie, about Billy Beane using “Sabermetrics” to rebuild the Oakland A’s. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill make a great Don Quixote and Sancho of baseball.

Fruitvale Station (2013) —This heartbreaking, infuriating drama about a police shooting at the title BART station marked a spectacular debut for director Ryan Coogler and potent star turns by Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer.

American Animals (2018) —Bart Layton’s docudrama, about four college-age nitwits plotting to rob the rare books room at a Kentucky library, is unforgettable in its depiction of movie-driven criminal fantasy, and of the privileged status of the conspirators. 

November (2017) —This black-and-white Estonian gothic, directed by Rainer Sarnet from a novel by Andrus Kivirahk, has a low-key magic all its own. 

Black Panther (2018) —Having debuted with Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler went on to direct the most fun of the Marvel movies.

The Lovers (2017) —Hardly anyone seemed to pay any attention to this low-key comedy-drama about adultery turned on its head, so, modest though it may be as a piece of cinema, I’m going to put it on the list. Hope it gets discovered one of these years. 

Here are 10 more that came close: The Skin I Live In, Moonlight, Lincoln, Spotlight, The Shape of Water, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Inside Out, The Town, Attack the Block and Ant-Man. 

By the way, after a nearly twenty-year hiatus, Your Humble Narrator finds himself back on Rotten Tomatoes; you can check out my page here.

Friday, January 3, 2020


Happy New Year everybody! Check out my Top Ten Movies for 2019.

Also, Happy January! Check out the January issue of Phoenix Magazine...

...for the Top 100 Restaurants in the Valley of the Sun, several of them selected by Your Humble Narrator.

Also, here's the list of books (embarrassingly short this year!) I read in 2019 (as always, it excludes short stories, articles, comic books, poems, blog posts, movie credits, rejection slips, banners towed by airplanes, fine print, etc):

The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life by Richard Russo

The Alteration by Kingsley Amis

Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Prelude to Space by Arthur C. Clarke

Joyland by Stephen King

Chances Are by Richard Russo

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

Lady, Be Bad by Brett Halliday

The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan