Top 10 Actors

After much ado by me I have finally compiled my all time favorite actors list. After several attempts at trying to write why they were my favorite actors, I decided just to list the movies that make them my favorite. There are of course many other fine actors out there and everyone is incouraged to make their own lists.

1. Humphrey Bogart
Casablanca, Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep, African Queen….

2. Tom Hanks
Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, Big, Road to Perdition, Toy Story

3. Jimmy Stewart
You Can't Take it With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window Vertigo

4. Marlon Brando
A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, Godfather, Apocalypse Now

5. Harrison Ford
Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Frantic, Mosquito Coast

6. Gregory Peck
To Kill a Mockingbird, Roman Holiday, Cape Fear

7. Cary Grant
Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious, North by Northwest

8. Robert Deniro
Godfather II, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Deer Hunter

9. Toshiro Mifune
Seven Samauri, High and Low, Yojimbo, Hidden Fortress

10. Al Pacino
Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Glengarry Glen Ross, Insomnia

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Long Time Gone

"There were days
and there were days
and there were days between
Summer flies and August dies
the world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
on black infested trees
the singing man is at his song
the holy on their knees
the reckless are out wrecking
the timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
than anyone can see anyone can see"

-Robert Hunter

Sorry I have been away for a bit my blogger friends. There was Thanksgiving and then our friend Kate came over for the weekend, so I have been rather busy and unable to sit at the computer and blog.

Our second Thanksgiving was quite wonderful. We had Thanksgiving proper with the American misisonaries, Daniel and Tammy and various folks from the Church. We had it at Fabienne's apartment. It was quite an adventure getting there. Amy and I first took the tram to Ann and Mohammad's flat. Then we all took another tram to a bus stop. We weren't sure what bus to take so we just jumped on one we thought might go the righ way, then looked at the map to see where it went. We quickly decided that bus was the wrong one so we took it to another stop and got out. After some confusion which was cleared up by asking a random bus driver we found the correct bus stop and hopped that bus. This bus took us to Daniel and Tammy's house where we awaited Daniel to drive us to Fabienne's. All of this was with me lugging our big cart around stuffed with food and Mohammed carrying a big heavy box!

We arrived at Fabienne's with me realizing that the turky breast I had been carrying in Daniel's van had dripped juices all over me. It soaked my coat and my sweater, so I spend the rest of the evening smelling like turkey! The food was lovely and the company pleasant. We did another round of hand turkeys. Jill even brought feathers in various bright colors which added to the festive turkeys.

Kate is our friend from Indiana who is doing an exchange in a little town south of France. We had a lovely weekend with here visiting. Friday and Saturday we spend wandering around the city taking in all of the Marche Noel. Stasbourg has many Christmas markets throughout the city. They have lots of ornaments and your basic assortment of Christmas stuff on sale. Plus they have a very nice variety of foods and drinks as well. They sell a malt wine that is wine heated on a stove (so that the alcohol is pretty much burned out) and mixed with lemon, orange and various spices. It is quite tasty. We also had a waffle covered in Nutella and a hot orange drink.

Sunday we had our third Thanksgiving dinner. Amy and Kate cooked a full chicken and made yummy dressing with sweet potatoes, and gravy. I tell you I have eaten so much delicious food the last few days I'll have to diet for months to get back into shape!

Well that's my story of not writing for a bit. I'm still working on my list of favorite movie actors and some other things to blog. So, I should be back tomorrow with more bloggings.

Gobble Gobble

Turkey day is here tomorrow. It doesn't seem possible because a) it just can't be the end of November, can it? and b) it's France and they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so there aren't any markings of the holiday anywhere. And of course no day after sales.

I wish the half dozen who read this a very Happy Thanksgiving though.

We went to the library today and I got some more books. I updated my little homepage with this. I never did finnish the Kesey book. It was very large and difficult to get into and my check out time was running out so I just gave up. This is something I often do with books. Usually it is a mood thing. Where I just can't get in the mood for that particular book and put it aside, hoping I'll come back to it.

I've once again picked up a Chanlder. I'm quicly going through all the classic detective books. I looked for some Agathe Christie, but I could not find anything. The Shipping News is a book I picked up a few years ago, read 50 pages or so and then had to turn it back into the library. I liked what I read and I can't remember now why I didn't finnish it. I'm often a very slow reader and I suspect I just didn't have time to get through it with library deadlines. I know I know you get three weeks on first check out and then you can recheck, but still…I often get distracted by other books, tv, movies, life.

I've read good things about The Corrections, and frankly my choices of books that both interest me and seem like something I would actually sit down a read are getting much smaller at the language library I've been going to. Luckily I have another big library at the university and the big public library to still go to.

I'm working on another list like the Cover Songs list just posted. This time it is greatest film actors. Start making your own lists now.

Cover Me

Top 10 Cover Songs

A few rules. To be a cover song the song could not have been written specifically for that artist. Therefore the Monkees "I'm a Believer" will not work because Neil Diamond wrote it for their TV show. Likewise Neil Diamond's version of that song doesn't count even though many think of it as a cover, because well, he wrote it. To count for my list the cover has to be of a already generally known song. So Jimmy Hendrix version of "Hey Joe" doesn't count. Because there's a dispute over who actually wrote the song and whoever heard the versions by any of those guys?

1. Satisfaction by Otis Redding.
Original by the Rolling Stones

Many people consider the Devo version to be a much better cover, and I totally dig it too, but Otis just blows it away. He's got that killer Otis soul, jumping rhythm and even horns! Keith Richards has been quoted as saying the Otis version is how he meant the song to sound.

2. All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix.
Original by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan himself changed his way of playing this song after he heard Hendrix

3. I Will by Alison Krauss.
Original by the Beatles

We played this song at our wedding. Its a beautiful McCartney number slowed down, and sung even more beautifully by Ms Krauss.

4. Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies.
Original by the Velvet Underground

I actually prefer Lou Reeds solo live versions of this song more than the original Velvet Underground's studio recording. But the Junkies make what is a rowdy, dirty rock and roller into a softer, peaceful lullabye.

5. Not Fade Away by the Grateful Dead.
Original by Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly's sweet rockabilly tune is turned on its head by the masters of jam. Often the Dead would churn this tune into a grinding 15 minute spectacle.

6. RESPECT by Aretha Franklin
Original by Otis Redding

Aretha gets back at Otis here. Otis does some amazing vocals on his version, but Aretha takes it a step further and nails it on its head.

7. Cold, Cold Heart by Norah Jones
Original by Hank Williams

Norah turns this forelorn country song into a sultry, sexy croon.

8. Stardust by Willie Nelson.
Original by Hoagy Carmichael

Transforming a huge big band tune into its most simplistic melody Willie Nelson makes this song his own.

09. Bizarre Love Triangle by Frente
Original by New Order

The orignal was a big dance hit, but Frente break it down into a beautiful acoustic number.

10. Hurt by Johnny Cash
Original by Nine Inch Nails

The hearbreaking video adds a lot of texture to this version, but in the end its Johnny Cash's voice that brings out more meaning into this song than ever meant by Trent Reznor.

There are certainly many more great covers out there that I thought of and didn't think of that could have been included. I tried to pick songs that followed my mentioned rules and that broke away from the original. For instance I think the harmonies on CSN's version of "Blackbird" elevate if far above the Beatles version, however they didn't make it a different song and thus it wasn't included. Got covers not on my list? Comment them!

A Few Changes

I have been periodically reviewing my old posts to edit them. I am trying to not make any real changes in meaning, but have been cleaning up their spelling and grammar. I have also been adding periodic links. I have always liked the internet concept of linking to various topics within a certain post. It's like an annotated thought. To find more information on this subject click here. In doing this I have noticed some minor changes in my blog concept and have wondered about the future of this blog.

Initially I meant the blog to be a journal of my experiences in France. I wanted to keep track of the places I went, the sights I saw, and perhaps, keep track of my feelings during all of these expeirences. I had no idea if I would allow anyone to read it at all. Slowly I did allow people to read it. First my friends were allowed to view the blog then acquaintances were allowed, and finally I have made efforts to let anyone and everyone to read it. On this end I have been visiting a lot of strangers blogs and commenting on them. Figuring the owners and any visitors would read my comment then click to see my blog and they I would have more visitors. This has actually worked to some degree and now I have some regular visitors.

By visiting other blogs I have also seen how other people are putting together their blogs. I've found that I am rather bored with play by play experiences of daily life. Most of those are quite dull. This doesn't mean that I won't continue doing some play by play of my own life, even though it may be rather dull as well. I have too many family members reading this and they like to be kept up on what the heck I'm doing here in France. And at least I am abroad and therefore, a little more exciting than writing about being in Indiana 🙂 I'm also not going to get into political blogging. Politics drives me bonkers most of the time, and there are plenty of political commenntators out there if thats your schtick. And I don't plan on making this a real personal diary, discussing the details of every mood and thought. Nor do I plan on getting into religion or philosophy. That's just not my style. I do plan on adding some different things to my blog. I recently added the book review of sorts and got a little bit of positive feedback from it. I think I will begin adding various other reviews and 'top whatever' lists.

Well that's all I wanted to say. Kind of a dull post, but I wanted to throw out some changes to the blog and to say 'THANKS' to all my devoted readers. All 4 of you!

A Great Mystery?

So I finnished my Chandler and the Mary Higgins Clark book. I had thought of reviewing the books, but I've never given a real review of a book, and frankly, I'm not sure how. These two books were very similar and yet vastly different in quality. I found Chandler's "The High Window" to be very good and Clarks "All Around the Town" to be quite awful. So hear I will try to describe why I liked one and not the other.

I say they are both similar and they are. Both are in the mystery/suspense genre. Both involve murders and the subsequent investigations to solve them. Yet in terms of how they are written and how they get to the solution is vastly different.

As always Chanlder write in the first person from the perspective of his classic detective, Phillip Marlowe. Clark writes in the third person. As a reader of "The High Window" you only know as much as Marlowe does. We see the world threw his eyes, follow his clues and do not know who the culprit is until the very end. Or at least I didn't. Which is not all that odd for me since I tend to let mysteries take me where they want without spending a lot of time trying to determine who the culprit is before I am given the final solution. But Chanlder never points the reader in a specific way to misdirect. You meet new and often suspicious characters throughout the story, but never see what they are doing when they are not with Marlowe. This leads to a more realistic story. You read along with the one man and thus are him in a sense. You are given no special insight into what is happening.

Clark writes in a nearly all knowing third person. As a reader you learn information that not any one character knows. Several times you are misdirected into believing one person or another commited the crime only to be later led to beleive you were mistaken. This happens until the final few pages when SURPRISE it wasn't who you thought. I literally groaned in disbelief when given several plot points. The general story involves a kidnapping, the kidnappee who later develops multiple personality disorder, and some villains who are also teleevangelists. All three are plot points that are so cliched and over used it makes me ill. While Chandler writes different and interesting characters who act realistically, if often brutal, Clark writes cardboard characters with stock personalities and then manipulates them to rush the reader along to a final pinnacle.

My biggest objection is one that I find hard to define. I want to say that both writers give ample details about their characters and settings, but Chanlder gives the right details where Clark gives the wrong ones. To better reveal this I have chosen two selections from the books below.

Chandler:

"A long limbed languorous type of showgirl blonde lay at her ease in one of the chairs, with her feet raised on a padded rest and a tall misted glass at her elbow, near a silver ice bucket and a Scotch bottle. She looked at us lazily as we came over the grass. From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. Her mouth was too wide, her eyes were too blue, her make-up was too vivid, the thin arch of her eyebrows was almost fantastic in its curve and spread, and the mascara was so thick on her eyelashes that they looked like miniature iron railings.

She wore white duck slacks, blue and whit open-toed sandals over bare feet and crimson lake toenails, a white silk blouse and a necklace of green stones that were not square-cut emeralds. Her hair was as artificial as a night-club lobby."

Clark:

"His office was deliberately cozy: pale green walls, tieback draperies in tones of green and white, a mahogany desk with a cluster of small flowering plants, a roomy wine-colored leather armchair opposite his swivel chair, a matching couch facing away from the windows.

When Sarah was ushered in by his secretary, Carpenter studied the attractive young woman in the simple blue suit. Her lean, athletic body moved with ease. She wore no makeup, and a smattering of freckles was visible across her nose. Charcoal brown brows and lashes accentuated the sadness in her luminous gray eyes. Her hair was pulled severely back from her face and held by a narrow blue band. Behind the band a cloud of dark red waves floated, ending just below her ears."

Clark tells us how we're supposed to feel about the setting and character before she actually describes it. "His office was cozy" she says and then describes it in bland, descriptive terms. Or Sarah is attractive to Dr. Carpenter, yet she is also sad because it tells us so: "sadness in her luminous gray eyes." It's as if it is written by a first year writing student, who has been told to supply lots of descriptive details. The details seem taken from a big box labled "character details."

Chanlder gives some of the same details describing the type of clothes she has on and that there is a bottle of Scotch nearby, but he doesn't tell us how to feel about it. He doesn't tell us the lady is an out of luck alcoholic showgirl. He gives us the details of having the Scotch nearby, of how shabbily she is made up that let us know what type of person she is without actually stating so in bold type. Chandler's style is also laid out. Within the physical details is a sarcastic wit that shines.

With all of this I don't care if anyone reads Mary Higgins Clark or even really likes her. The written word like any art is often in the eye of the beholder. Truth be told I couldn't write a book as good as Ms. Clark did. Now I wouldn't have evil evangelists or multiple personalities in my book, but the quality would be just as shabby I suspect. But just because I cannot produce a good novel doesn't mean I cannot critique them. Honestly, I don't know who is going to be interested in my critiques of novels that were written in 1942 and 1992 anyway. I write them to try to hone some of my limited writing skills and to get a better understanding of why I find certain books really good, and others quite terrible.

Party

We had our first party last night. We invited all the AIMers over for snacks and fun. Amy has been wanting to hold a party for ages but we have neglected to actually do one until now. Mainly because Amy gets the idea in here head and wants to make it absolutely perfect which means a lot of preparation. We're both slackers so the preparation never actually materializes into reality so we never have the party. Finally I said let's just do the inviting and then we'll prepare whatever we can and still have fun. So it was pretty tame. We had snacks and drinks and sat around chatting until Balderdash was brought. Unfortunately the tram line to our place was down this week and the last bus left at 10:30 so everyone had to split pretty early. All in all it was fun, and nice to actually have people over to our cave.

Tonight we go to Elizabeths for her turkey party. Well I should say chicken party since you can't really find turkey here until December. Being France they don't celebrate Thanksgiving so the turkeys don't come out until Christmas time. But the chicken should be grand. Next week on Thanksgiving proper we are having a turkey party at Fabiennes. And then on Friday Kate is coming over for the weekend so we'll have to do a little meal for her. That's a lot of good Thanksgiving eating!