Terror by Night

1946. I enjoyed this film, but there were fewer standout moments than I’ve seen in some of the other 100 movies. I liked seeing Basil Rathbone in his signature role as Sherlock Holmes, and it was funny to see how inept filmmakers continue to make poor LeStrade.

Worth my 38 cents:
Dr. Watson excitedly exclaims that he’s solved the theft, only to find the mousey old couple was confessing to having made off with a hotel teapot. The 1946 version of towel theft, I guess.

Topper Returns

(1941) I found it hard to get past the stereotypically racist depiction of the sole black man in the film (the chauffeur). Topper’s wife was hilarious, but also not very flattering. In fact, hardly anyone but Taxi drivers come off looking good in Topper Returns.

Worth my 38 cents:
“I don’t have to think! I’m from city hall!”

38-cent moments

I bought a set of old movies on DVD from Best Buy today– a collection of B mysteries and “thrillers” from the 30s through the 50s. The collection includes a couple classics, but mostly unremembered (but not unwatchable) movies. The intriguing part is that the entire collection, 100 movies on 24 double-sided DVDs, was $37.99. Jenny and I have watched a few, and I’ve decided that each will be worth it if we get at least one 38-cent moment out of the movie. Thus, I inaugurate a new category for my blog–the 38-cent moment.

It’s interesting to be in a place where the cost of seeing these movies approaches the cost moviegoers would have paid to see them in the years they premiered. According to the interwebs, the average price for seeing a movie would have hit $.38 somewhere between 1945 and 1948. This is also quite close to the average year for the movies in this collection (probably 1940 would be a good guess). Of course, I get to watch these movies as many times as I want.

(Photo by Eye of Einstein)

Television crack

Andy Barker, P.I.

Part 2 in the ongoing series about how I waste my time.

Andy Barker, P.I.
Boston Legal
Studio 60
(if it continues)
Veronica Mars (though it won’t continue for long)
the occasional Law & Order or LO: Criminal Intent
The Daily Show
The Colbert Report

From Andy Barker last night:

You can’t make fun of a man for being afraid of chickens! Look at them! They’re prehistoric, for God’s sake.

Internet Crack

As I fall hard into my latest internet addiction, I reflect on my long history of sad addictions… in reverse chronology
You’re the Man Now, Dog (just addicted)
BoingBoing (still addicted)
Consumerist (still addicted)
The Comics Curmudgeon (still addicted)
Something Awful
Homestar Runner
All Your Base Are Belong to Us
I do not provide links. I’m no enabler.

The Illusionist

I enjoyed it.  Paul Giamatti rules, as always.  Spoilers and interesting discussion (HA!) below the fold.

Continue reading The Illusionist

Ponzi’s Scheme

By Mitchell Zuckoff

Ponzi's SchemeI guess I should have realized that the phrase “Ponzi Scheme” came from somewhere, but it was interesting to learn just how this bold Italian immigrant became so infamous. An interesting “read.”

(Read as an audio book)


I’ve never watched AQTF before, but I got the first disc via Netflix.  It was okay so far, but now that I’ve met Ignignokt and Err, I’m hooked.  That’s some funny stuff.

The Current

In case you’d forgotten, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current rules.  Today I heard Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hotrod.”

Ragged Dick

Or: Life Among the Bootblacks in New York
by Horatio Alger Jr. (1867)

This up-by-your-bootstraps story was surprisingly entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the section where Dick learns that his bankbook (recording his $100+ savings) has been swiped by the disreputable bartender renting the room next door to Dick’s. Dick gets to the bank first and foils the ne’er-do-well. All is as it should be.

I feel properly edified by the story, and feel like I should manage my time and money better. 150 years old, and it still works.

Read as an Audiobook recording from Librivox

American Dreamz

I’ve discovered that I enjoy failed-but-ambitious comedies more than I enjoy timid yet properly executed ones.  Hugh Grant’s self-loathing Tweed and Randy Quaid’s President Stanton both worked for me.  Trite depiction of Islamic terrorists was, of course, terrible.

Joys of shuffle

Tommy the catMy favorite part of iPod’s shuffle is the way it finds old music you haven’t listened to in ages and pulls it out again. Playing right now: “Tommy the Cat”, by Primus. Images in my brain, working backward chronologically:

CBD also likes Primus.

I played “Highball with the Devil” on my radio show in college.

Primus was, for my junior and senior years in high school, what They Might Be Giants had been the two years previous, and Weird Al was before that. Of the three, TMBG remains prominent in my collection.

(Photo by Mr Savoury)

Bearing an Hourglass

by Piers Anthony

Bearing an HourglassI ran into a colleague on my way up from the train and groused about how I enjoyed this book, the second in the “Incarnations” series, but found that the main character seemed a bit slow. Like the incarnation of Death in Rides a Pale Horse, the incarnation of Time, Chronos, usually spends several sentences longer than the reader pondering his problems before he moves on.

My colleague suggested that Anthony, whose books I haven’t read outside of these two, perhaps underestimates his audience’s intelligence. A stranger walking next to us commented, “Actually, he’s writing for High Schoolers.” The clarification made sense, but I found myself doubting for other reasons–primarily that he sells far too many books to be aiming only at the youth market. But I don’t know for sure.

Read as an audiobook.

The Big Over Easy

by Jasper Fforde

The Big Over EasyThis tangent to the Thursday Next series ties much more closely with my interest in detective novels. The story of DI Jack Spratt and his investigation of Humpty Dumpty’s murder amused me, and Fforde’s play with the conventions of the detective genre was works well. In particular, I like the idea that, in a world where a detective’s fame comes from having his adventures detailed in popular crime fiction (ala Sherlock Holmes), the unscrupulous will let their desire for solid narrative overwhelm the desire to resolve their cases well.

Fforde also adds an element of destiny to the stories, as the characters, who often don’t realize they’re part of nursery rhymes, act out their age-old desires again and again. When Spratt’s mother, for example, sends him to sell a painting of a cow, he settles for some magic beans.