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Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Wrapping Up the Entertainment Weekly Movie List

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Okay, after pruning my thoughts from the first half of the EW list, here's where we are:


I have 75 movies in my top 100. So, from the next 50, I can take 25. And that's the name of that tune.


51. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Out. See how easy this is?



52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)

Out. Good movie, but not near this level. I've already been through the films I would add in '88, the '88 comedies I'm adding are A Fish Called Wanda and Midnight Run. I sit at 75.


53. The Truman Show (1998)

In. That gives me 76. I liked this ranking a lot; Truman Show's tended to get forgotten in the last ten years, I thought it deserved this spot exactly. My regards to Amelie (and to Trainspotting, for that matter) neither is going to make my list. My apologies.



54. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Out. Still at 76.


55. Risky Business (1983)
In. 77. I'm...I'm gonna take The Big Chill too from '83. That gives me 78. Oh - The Right Stuff. The Right Stuff is terrific. That's 79.


56. The Lives of Others (2006)
I lied, I haven't seen all the films on the list, in fact, I think there are 3 I have not seen - this is one of them. So, not on the list. I'm just one man. I did see Half Nelson and Borat from '06, they are good films which won't make the list.


57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Aw, hell....the thing is, I prefer Kingpin, and as mentioned, it's not going to make it - so...out. Still at 79.


58. Ghostbusters (1984)

I was 13, so I loved me some Ghostbusters. Bustin' makes me feel good is a solid, under the radar, extra dirty lyric from a kids' movie. But no - it doesn't make it; I don't currently have room for Groundhog Day, a Murray I liked more. No. Still at 79. Better as a kids movie from '84 was Buckaroo Bonzai, which doesn't make my list....but...hmmm...no, doesn't make it. Karate Kid was better and doesn't make it. Starman - Starman was the best film in this paragraph. It doesn't make it. Still at 79.


59. L.A. Confidential (1997)

In. That's 80.


60. Scream (1996)

Out. Instead of '96 movies, let me consider '85, as I've just done '83 and '84 and that makes sense to me as I sit here on 80. Brazil....argh. Argh. Argh. Out. Argh. Prizzi's Honor - in. That's 81.



61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Argh. I'm an Eddie Murphy guy and the result of my list is that I';m not going to have any Eddie Murphy on the list. Out. Argh. Let's consider '86 - of the films I haven't yet discussed...where are we on Stand by Me? Nope. Still out. Sitting on 81.



62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)


In. 82. Of the films I haven't covered in '87...I don't think Roxanne makes it, No Way Out was also really good. I'm gonna stick at 82.



63. Big (1988)

In. I've done '88 talk - Talk Radio is a film that's just gonna miss for me. 83.


64. No Country For Old Men (2007)

In. Lower, however. I think this is it from last year for me. 84.


65. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Out. Way, way, way out. I'm good for other '89 films.



66. Natural Born Killers (1994)

In. And higher. That makes 85. The Grifters gets in from 1990. That's 86. I really liked both Metropolitan and Pump Up the Volume, they don't make it. I'm at 86 after all.




67. Donnie Brasco (1997)

In. I'll say Brasco in and Carlito's Way out. That's 87.



68. Witness (1985)


Argh...out. Yeah, out. I've got the Fugitive in and I'm gonna leave Witness out. Considering 1991, a note should be offered for all of the Michael Apted docs, they don't make it - I wanted to limit myself to ten and I've got 10. So, no. But 35 Up came out in '91. As did Boyz n the Hood - which is in, that's 88. And the Fisher King. Hell. 89.



69. All About My Mother (1999)

Out. Still at 89.



70. Broadcast News (1987)

In. 90. I've already put in Accidental Tourist, as mentioned. I'm gonna get stuck unable to put in either Defending Your Life or Lost in America. This list makes me sad.



71. Unforgiven (1992)

In. 91. And it should be higher. I've mentioned my '92 films.



72. Thelma & Louise (1991)

Yeah. 92. Clearly, I'm going to have to start cutting from my list. Fearless was a good '93 film as were Dave and Searching for Bobby Fischer. Oh - and Flesh and Bone, that was good. And A Perfect World and Bodies, Rest and Motion and Malice. "I am God" - who doesn't love some motherfucking Alec Baldwin? The War Room didn't make my doc. cut down to 10 incidentally.



73. Office Space (1999)

Nope. I'm at 92 and drawing the line! No, I'm not - Quiz Show was a 1994. That's in. I'm at 93.



74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhh. Ahhhhhhh. Out. Kicking and Screaming and Swimming with Sharks are both real good 1995 films.



75. Out of Africa (1985)

Out. Welcome to the Dollhouse and Slingblade miss from '96. Celluloid Closet was a doc that didn't make the ten as was Looking for Richard. I liked Walking and Talking



76. The Departed (2006)
In. 94. The Sweet Hereafter is just going to miss, right along with The Ice Storm from '97. Grosse Point Blank misses...but I'm going to put in In the Company of Men. 95.


77. Sid and Nancy (1986)

No, like Office Space, I don't have the room. Happiness and Gods and Monsters miss from '98, but The Opposite of Sex...no, that misses too. Grumble.




78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Out. I thought I was going to leave out Being John Malkovich, but I'm not. 96. I liked Go a lot from '99....no, I'm putting it in. Go. That's 97. I'm screwed.



79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)

In. 98. You Can Count on Me was really good from 2000. Yeah, it's in and the Fugitive is out, keeping me at 97. Okay, let's take something else out to keep me at 97...I'm going to take out the Thin Red Line. Not the Thin Blue Line, which stays - the Thin Red Line goes, keeping me at 97.



80. Michael Clayton (2007)

This is the second of the three movies I haven't seen, so out. 97. In The Bedroom was a real good 2001 movie that doesn't make it.



81. Moonstruck (1987)

Good film. Out. 97. I liked About a Boy, Igby Goes Down, and Roger Dodger from '02.



82. Lost in Translation (2003)

In. 98. The Cooler is a real good 2003.



83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

The 3rd movie I haven't seen. Out. You know what was good - Ghost World...no, no room. The Notebook was 2004; I feel a little embarassed that I liked it, not enough for the list - but i liked it - and either I'm embarassed because it's manipulative (a good reason) or because we've designated it culturally as belonging to women - and like reality tv and soap operas, entertainment that becomes assigned to the women's sphere is treated with an extra disdain.




84. Sideways (2004)

In. 99.




85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

In. 100. I liked The Aristocrats - although the Seinfeld doc. Comedian is better. Yikes, I'm at 100. That means I have to dip into the original 75 if I'm going to add any of the final 15. A History of Violence was good in '05.




86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)

Out. I'm out of spots!




87. Swingers (1996)

In. 101. That knocks out All the Right Moves. 100.




88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Out. I've run through 2006 and 2007, so we're on the glide path home.




89. Breaking the Waves (1996)

In. I take out Good Will Hunting.




90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Out. No room.




91. Back to the Future (1985)

Out. I saw it and St. Elmo's Fire in the theatre on the same day, by myself, when I was 14. Good times.




92. Menace II Society (1993)

Out.




93. Ed Wood (1994)

Ahhhhhh. Out.




94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

In. And much higher, this is so low I think I mentioned in an earlier post that it wasn't on the EW list. I'll take off Little Man Tate.


95. In the Mood for Love (2001)

Out.



96. Far From Heaven (2002)

Out.




97. Glory (1989)

Out.


98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

I really liked this. Out.




99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Out.


100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

And out. 100. We're good. I'll put the full list of my 100, although probably not in order given time restrictions and my baseball list requirements.


Whew. 100 down. Enjoy your holiday.

Revelation 21 - The Baseball Hall of Fame is No Longer a Museum


In the history of Major League Baseball, there is only one ball which was hit for a ballplayer's 756th home run. Of the arguments made for Congressional intrusion into the affairs of baseball with the steroid hearings was baseball's singular historic role in the fabric of the United States; long running and continuous, we can draw a direct line from games played during Reconstruction to games being played tonight. In my ongoing countdown of the 200 Best Major Leaguers ever, I include ballplayers who began their careers in the 1880s, the ability to adjust statistics for era allows baseball, really more than any other human endeavor, to cross space and time.

I know, I'm going all "if you build it, he will come" on you. I apologize.

But baseball, for a hundred and fifty years, has had a cultural impact on the United States which is undeniable.

And that means that the artifacts of baseball - the material culture which makes up its history - matters.

You know the story about 756; Marc Ecko, a pointless man living a trivial life, purchased the ball, used the media's insatiable need to ridicule Bonds to drum up publicity over an internet poll, and affixed it with an asterisk, a literal branding that reflects the tarnish the sports punditry and Major League Baseball have so assiduously tried to layer upon the home run record.

And now that ball is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The arguments used to support Ecko are that the ball was his personal property (true) and he could do with it what he wished (legally true).

Consider this thought experiment if you would.

Do you know there is more than one original copy of the Declaration of Independence? Not replications - original, hand written by Thomas Jefferson hisownself, copies.

True story. And one you should know, given that Friday is the 4th of July.

Do you know who owns one of those copies?

Norman Lear. Hollywood liberal. All in the Family. People for the American Way. Normal Lear. Part of the counter-culture that Obama attacked this week.

The Declaration of Independence, the birthing document of the United States, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," is owned by Norman Lear.

He bought it.

It's his personal property.

He has the legal right to annotate it - scrawl "Jefferson was a slave owning rapist" or "There is no creator, grow the hell up" or "Sure, all white property owning men are created equal - but you founding fathers sure gave the rest of the people the shaft."

And on and on and on. Right there. He could do it on the 4th of July. Could do it on PPV. Could do it on the Washington Mall.

It's his personal property after all.

And let me suggest that while we can be pretty sure Bonds took steroids, you don't have the slightest idea what impact they had on his ability to hit home runs. If you think his 755 is more tainted than Babe Ruth's 714, given that he didn't have to face African-American pitchers, you and I pray at different churches.

But while we aren't sure about Bonds - we do know about Jefferson. We do know about what "all men are created equal" meant in force and effect of law at the time of the Declaration and then after the Constitution was ratified in 1789. The expanse between the rhetoric of American freedom and the conditions of American reality are a matter of historical record and became embedded in America's game of baseball, which is why, until 1947, every single home run ever hit in the major leagues deserves an asterisk far bigger and bolder than the one the fashion designer chose to attach to Bonds.

But we don't do that. We use statistics to adjust for era, adjust for rule changes, for ballpark effects, for the wide variations in space and time in which baseball has persists. And that allows us, somewhat fictionally, but better, again, let me suggest, than in any other human endeavor, to mathematically quantify events. We don't need asterisks. We can use statistical adjustments.

Facts. Glorious facts.

Ecko's defacement of 756 was treated by the sports punditry as a joke, defended as being his "personal property."

Were Lear to annotate the Declaration - my guess is the very same people would argue that free speech and personal property be damned - he should be locked up - waterboarded - held without charge in Gitmo.

But take it a step further and imagine that the defaced Declaration was then donated to the Smithsonian, for example - and displayed, comments and all, as a symbol of American history.

What would the reaction be to that?

Marc Ecko doesn't get to change facts. His voice doesn't get to speak louder than mine on 756; his view of history doesn't count more even though he had three quarters of a million dollars to spend on a baseball and I'm clipping coupons for diet cheese.

How much will we allow the wealthy to change the truth?

The baseball is no longer the thing that happened. Now, it's a fashion designer's interpretation of the thing that happened.

He's allowed to have his view. You're allowed to have yours. You can think that Barry Bonds's home run records, both career and single season, are tarnished.

I mean, you're wrong. But you can think that.

But what we don't do is solely on the basis of one of those views being backed by money, display that defaced ball in the museum of record for that sport.

Were Norman Lear to scrawl his thoughts on the Declaration of Independence, even though they might be thoughts I agree with, Lear should be shunned from polite society. He has the right to do it, but it is wrong to do.

Marc Ecko should be treated exactly the same way.

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