Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 011 The 50 Funniest Movies of All Time A Critic's Ranking

2015 Reading Challenge Book 011 The 50 Funniest Movies of All Time A Critic's Ranking by Kathryn Bernheimer
BOOK TITLE-The 50 Funniest Movies of All Time A Critic's Ranking
AUTHOR-Kathryn Bernheimer
FORMAT-Trade Paperback

I have enjoyed movie reference books and books of best of lists from as far back as my memory goes. And over the decades of my life have built up a decent collection of both types of books. I own who knows how many books that are collections of reviews of horror films. Because the horror genre is my favorite film genre. After getting to know me most people just assume that the science fiction genre is my second favorite genre of film. But it isn't.My second favorite genre is comedy. As I mentioned a few posts back I was in Dirt Cheap looking at the various things for sale. Found this book that ended up being 90% off cover.

These movie review books are hard for me to review. I prefer the ones written by one author. So that way over the course of reading the various reviews you get a nice idea of what parts of the genre the author likes,loves and hates.So when I saw this book had one author I was happy. I actually finished reading this book 4 days ago.But have been trying to figure out how to review it here at my humble blog. Finally deciding on listing the 50 films mentioned in the book. On the ones I have never seen I will say nothing since I haven't seen the movie. If it is a film I have seen I will say if I agree on the film being one of the 50 funniest movies of all time.

The films seem to be listed in the book in no kind of order. So I will go with the order the films are listed in the book.

1.Some Like it Hot-Seen this two times. And it is one of the only films I liked Marilyn Monroe in. I can see why people would consider it a comedy classic.But I don't.
2.City Lights
3.Duck Soup
4.Dr Strangelove-I am a huge Kubrick fan. So of course I have seen this dark dark comedy from Mr Kubrick. And it would find a slot on my top 50 comedies.
5.Bringing Up Baby
6.M*A*S*H*-Being a huge fan of the TV show based on this mid 1970 classic I begged and begged my parents to let me rent it. It being R rated they rented it and watched it first.After seeing that there wasn't anything in it they objected to me seeing I got to watch it. As a kid I just got MASH on the comedy level. After serving in the Army and becoming an adult I see the many many levels the film and show have. And this is another that would make my top 50 list.
7.Annie Hall
8.Tootsie-Saw this in a theater back in 82. Remember it being funny. Haven't seen it since then.Once I read the review I went and put the dvd near the top of my netflix list.
9.The Ladykillers
10.The Lady Eve
11.A Fish Called Wanda-I prefer Fierce Creatures,which has pretty much the same cast as this film. But Fish Called Wanda is a damn funny film.
12.The General
13.Born Yesterday
14.The Producers-Once again this is the original. I enjoy the film,but think Mel Brooks has other films that are much funnier.
15.All of Me-I can remember renting this mid 80s comedy with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin. But I don't think I have seen it since then. I am interested in watching it again soon.
16.After Hours
17.It Happened one Night
18.To Be or Not to be-This is the original. I have only seen the Mel Brooks remake.Which was funny.I plan on giving the original a try one day.
19.This is Spinal Tap-It might be that before I saw this movie I had already had all the funniest moments quoted to me numerous times. But I don't get why so many people call this a comedy classic. I laughed maybe 3 times when I saw it.
20.The Pink Panther Strikes Back-The only one of the classic Pink Panther films I haven't seen.
21.The Sunshine Boys
22.Tom Jones
24.Safety Last
26.Raising Arizona-First saw this when it hit VHS and I didn't care for it. Was forced to rewatch it years later and found it to be a great comedy.And it is one of the few films with Nic Cage as the lead that I enjoy.
27.My Little Chickadee
28.The Full Monty-One of the funniest movies of the 90s. When this came out I was gonna take my paternal grandmother out to see a movie then grab us a pizza as her birthday present. I told her to look in the paper and choose any film. She chose this one. I knew going in what it was about. I thought my elderly grandmother was gonna have a stroke or something from laughing so much.I laughed a bunch but I never heard her laugh as much as she did while watching this film.
29.National Lampoon's Animal House-Credited with starting the 80s trend for raunchy comedies,I have always enjoyed this film. Too bad that the National Lampoon name before a movie titled doesn't mean shit nowadays.
30.The Court Jester
31.King of Hearts
32.Prizzi's Honor
33.The Gods Must be Crazy-My older cousin Charles was always recording movies off HBO for me. We went to visit one weekend and he kept talking about how funny The Gods Must be Crazy was. So I begged him to record it for me. I held onto that tape until it finally got lost in one of my moves in the 2000s. This story about a small African tribe that discovers a glass Coca-Cola bottle and the strife it causes is one of the best physical comedy films I have ever seen.
34.Monty Python and the Holy Grail-Like with Spinal Tap I had had most of this film quoted to me many many years before seeing it. I do enjoy the Monty Python tv show.But have never been much of a fan of this film. I can see why people would place it on a top comedy list.But it would never be on mine.
35.The In-Laws-I didn't get to see this late 70s comedy classic with Peter Falk until the early 2000s.And it would easily get a spot on my top 50 comedies.
36.When Harry met Sally-I have never been big into romantic comedies. So I skipped watching this film when it was the talk of the late 80s/early 90s. Finally watching it in the late 90s I did find it funny. But I doubt it would make my top 50 list.
38.Sons of the Desert
39.What's up,Doc?
40.It's a mad mad mad mad world-I can't think of another film as top heavy with comedians.While it does run a bit long,it is still a great and very funny film.It has a slot in my top 50.
41.Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein-The first of the Abbott and Costello films I saw. And a very funny film. But not what I think is the funniest Abbot and Costello films. I prefer the one with Jekyl and Hyde.
42.Cat Ballou
44.The Bellboy-I do like physically based humor.Unless it is Jerry Lewis doing it.
45.Harold and Maude-One of my favorite dark comedies. About how no matter what there is someone other there for everyone.Thinking about it after reading the well written review this film would make my top 50.
46.Local Hero
47.Airplane-My second favorite of the parody films.I have seen it dozens of times and each viewing I catch something I never noticed before.
48.Beverly Hill Cop-Remember when Eddie Murphy was funny?While not his funniest film,it is one of the best comedies of the 80s.
49.Bull Durham-One of the few sports I have any interest in is baseball. And Bull Durham is the funniest baseball movie I have seen. Normally I don't care for films with Kevin Costner. This is the exception.
50.Smiles of a Summer Night

So lets add it up.Out of the 50 films I have seen 22. Out of those 22,twelve would make my top 50 comedies list. Out of the 28 I haven't seen there is 5 I want to see. With most of those being silent films. Silent era films are one of the huge blindspots in my film viewing experience.

The lady that wrote the book did a good job on the reviews and picking out pictures to go with them. I doubt I would have paid the cover price for this book. But getting it 90% off it was worth it.

The 50 Funniest Movies of All Time A Critics Ranking gets a 2.25 outta 5.

2015 Reading Challenge Book 010 Abadazad The Road to Inconceivable

2015 Reading Challenge Book 010 Abadazad The Road to Inconceivable written by J.M. DeMatteis artwork by Mike Ploog

BOOK TITLE-Abadazad The Road to Inconceivable
AUTHOR-J.M. DeMatteis
COST-25 cents

Well the insomnia is still preventing me from sleeping. So I finished up another book. Been reading this one a few pages at a time for over a week now.

Another find at Dirt Cheap.I might on my next trip there see if they are willing to sponsor my blog. I give them plenty of free advertising.When I found this novel they had a huge stack. Close to 100 copies. I knew Abadazad started off as a comic published by Crossgen. I had heard rumors that the main reason Disney bought up the Crossgen properties was just to get the rights to Abadazad. They thought it would be the next big thing in kids fantasy. Abadazad started off as a series of stories Mr DeMatteis would tell his daughter Kate before bedtime. After many years of this he wanted to turn these stories into a comic book. Teaming up with Mike Ploog,who's artwork I loved on various horror themed comics from Marvel in the 70s.They had 3 issues published,to great acclaim,before Crossgen went bankrupt.I haven't read any of those comics.But if they are even close to how good this novel was I really want to read them.

Now this book is unlike most books. It uses many storytelling tropes.Part of the book is entries in the main females journal. With some of them having nice artwork from Mr Ploog. Then we get sections that are done in traditional comic book style.I would estimate the book is 60% journal entries and 40% comic book style stuff. I did some research after finishing the book. First off I wanted to know how many issues of the comic there was. And if there was any more books. Turns out there is 3 books. Back when I first saw the stack of at least 100 at Dirt Cheap I thought about maybe buying them all and reselling them. I below to a comic book forum that is about comic companies that are out of business. And I remembered there was lots of Crossgen fans there.I went and saw that on the forum this book was selling for between 1 and 2 bucks. So not worth my time and effort to buy a bunch and sell them. Sure even if I just got a buck each I would be making a profit. Well either someone had a similar plan to me or had some need for 100 books for kids. Because I was back in Dirt Cheap 3 days after buying this and they had no copies left.Well since I have some Amazon credit left from gift cards I got for X-mas I went to see how much copies of the other 2 books,of a planned 8 total volumes,would set me back. Book 2 I could get for a penny plus shipping. But the cheapest copies I could find of the third novel were 34 dollars. It seems that volume 3 was only released in the UK and Europe. So getting copies over here in the States isn't easy. I did order the second book. And might one day bite the bullet and get volume 3.

Abadazad is a fantasy world. Which reminds me a whole lot of Frank Braum's OZ.Our narrator is a 14 year old  girl.She lives with her mother and brother. The brother is a huge fan of the Abadazad series of novels. And it is one of the few things the two siblings bond over.Then her brother disappears while they are at a carnival. And isn't found. We skip ahead a few years. The relationship between the mother and our narrator,Kate,is very strained. Then one day Kate has a chance meeting with an older lady who lives in the same apartment building as her. Martha,the old lady,shows Kate her collection of Abadazad stuff. Then tells Kate it is all from the land of Abadazad. Then informs Kate that Martha is really Little Martha who was the lead in the Abadazad novels.Kate believes this older lady is mental and leaves in a huff. The next day she finds out the old lady has died. And fairly soon a package is left for Kate. It contains an orb Martha had shown Kate. And orb that if you believe enough will transport you to the land of Abadazad. After a bad fight with her mother Kate takes the orb and is whisked away to Abadazad. Where she meets up with Martha,who is now a young child again. And Martha tells Kate that her brother is being held prisoner somewhere in Abadazad.

Before reading this novel I was already a fan of Mr DeMatteis,mostly from his work on the Defenders comic. And a huge fan of Mike Ploog's work on Man-thing and the sadly short lived Frankenstein's Monster comic Marvel published. While I have always loved Mr Ploog's artwork I have never seen it look as stunning as it does in this novel.I don't know if he is doing anything different. If maybe it is cause of the type of paper the book is printed on. Or maybe it is because Mr Ploog had longer to work on the art. Having just ordered book 2 about an hour ago,I am gonna be eagerly awaiting it's arrival in my mailbox.

I do wonder why Abadazad seems to have failed. The comic was getting lots of great reviews and supposedly sold very well. But Crossgen was having major money issues at the time. The books seems to have been a minor hit in the UK and Europe. But even then not selling well enough to get all 8 planned volumes published. I think one of the reasons is the price. The book is around 120 pages. I am just guessing cause the pages are not numbered. I hate it when a book doesn't have it pages numbered.And sure the book is a hardcover. Which is full of gorgeous full color artwork. But the cover price is $9.99. I doubt many parents would have paid that much for a book for their child. When this was coming out the Harry Potter books were huge. And the paperbacks of them were about 10 bucks for 400 or more pages.I can see a parent thinking that 10 bucks for such a short book wasn't worth their money. I am hoping that now that Disney owns not only the Crossgen stuff but also Marvel comics,and adding in that a few years back Marvel brought back 2 or three of the old Crossgen properties back for limited series,that Disney might try again to publish Abadazad. So if you have a child that loves the fantasy genre.Or you are an adult that enjoyed the Oz movies or books,go to Amazon and grab a copy of this book. I multiple copies of it selling for a penny plus 3 bucks shipping. Abadazad  The Road to Inconceivable is worth  checking out at those cheap prices.

Abadazad The Road to Inconceivable gets a 4.85 outta 5.

2015 Reading Challenge Book 009 Arkham Woods

2015 Reading Challenge Book 009 Arkham Woods written by Christopher Rowley and art by Jhomar Soriano

BOOK TITLE-Arkham Woods
AUTHOR-Christopher Rowley
FORMAT-Trade paperback

Well folks insomnia has flared up again. So in less than 24 hours I have finished 3 books. This one being the only one I started and finished in those 24 hours.

Back in the mid 80s until around the late 90s I was somewhat into manga. Reading stuff like Mai the Psychic girl,Ranma 1/2,Lone Wolf and Cub and my favorite Battle Angel Alita. This was back when most manga was printed in the American standard of 32 pages published once a month in what is now commonly known as the floppie format. Sometime after I quit reading manga and most comics the companies that published translated manga in the states switched over to the trade paperback format. These trades are slightly taller and wider than a normal paperback novel you grab at the grocery store or whatever. And they don't come out monthly. Since this switch over happened it seems to me like the popularity of manga in the States has sky rocketed.

I was in my local Dollar Tree. Grabbing batteries,Garbage Pail Kids trading cards and as always looking through their selection of books. I saw the cover of this manga and thought "What the hell it is a buck. Seems to be at least partially inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. I read the plot blurb on the back cover and noticed it was rated for older teens.  "Cool if I don't like it I can always give it to my younger cousin." Who at the time was huge into manga. After reading the book I realized that it wasn't apropriate for a kid of the age of 11. Because even though it had a rating for older teens,there is lots of implied tenticle rape. And the book has an overall sleazy feel.

The story is about a teenage girl that moves into an older house her mother owns. The mother has some kind of condition that is causing her to lose her eyesight. And with her being a slowly rising artist this means her career might be over before it really got started properly. The daughter has some friends over and in the basement they found out the house has   a deep dark tenticle rapey secret.

After finishing the book,I looked it up to see if there was a second volume. There doesn't seem to be one,even though the first volume ends in a way that they could easily make a sequel. Also found out that this is what is sometimes referred to as "American Manga". Neither the writer or artist are Asian. And it is pretty much a normal horror comic story,but the artist draws it using all the stylistic touches of manga.

Arkham Woods gets a 1.5 outta 5.

2015 Reading Challenge Book 008 The Story of the Development of NWATNA: A New Concept in Pay-Per-View Programming

2015 Reading Challenge Book 008 The Story of the Development of NWATNA: A New Concept in Pay-Per-View Programming

BOOK TITLE-The Story of the Development of the NWATNA 
AUTHOR-Jerry W. Jarrett

Yep finished up two books in one day. But then as I have mentioned I am usually reading 4 or 5 books at once.

Got this ebook as a gift for X-mas. Had heard good and bad about it. But never was interested enough to bother seeing if the library could get it for me.

But recently with TNA going through all kinds of changes I was a bit more interested in the history of the company. And that is what this book is. Jerry Jarrett kept a diary that starts not that long before him and his son Jeff decide to start up NWATNA. And it goes through the first year or so of the existence of NWATNA.

I had heard various newz items on how Dixie Carter and Panda Energy got involved with TNA.For the first time I got to find out what happened from one of the main people there. And from Jarrett
s side of the story,Panda had them in a situation where Jerry and Jeff had to agree to anything Panda asked for. Mostly because of some shady dealings the first major financier of TNA pulled.

This wouldn't be a good read for someone that isn't into wrestling and even with lots of wrestling fans,I can see them quickly getting bored with this book. I might have gotten bored. But I was reading it a few page at a time over the course of 3 weeks.

The Story of the Development of NWATNA get a 2.75 outta 5

2015 Reading Challenge Book 007 Wizards,Warriors and you volume 7 Challenge of the Wolf Knight

2015 Reading Challenge Book 007 Wizards,Warriors and You volume 7 Challenge of the Wolf Knight
BOOK TITLE-Wizards Warriors and You Book 7 Challenge of the Wolf Knight
FORMAT-Paperback book
COST-1 penny

Once the Choose your own Adventure novels became popular back in the early 80s,I got into the gamebook genre. Starting off reading the CYOA books and then branching off into all the other gamebook series.

It was at one of the Scholastic Book Fairs while I was attending Orange Lake Elementary that I discovered what became my favorite series of gamebooks. That series is Wizard Warriors and You. And the first I read from the series was book 3 Who Kidnapped Princess Saralinda.

What attracted me to this pretty popular series of gamebooks was all the little differences from the Choose your own adventure books I was use to. First off in the WW&Y series you got to choose if you would play the novel as the Wizard or the Warrior.If you chose the Warrior you were instructed to go to the back of the book and pick out 2 or 3 weapons that you carried with you on your adventure. If you picked the Wizard you were told to goto the back of the book and read up on all the spells you has access to. Another thing that made this series stand out was each book was connected to the previous one. With the CYOA novels most of the time you were a completely different person in each book. But you knew when you grabbed a WW&Y novel you were gonna be either the Wizard or the Warrior. The other two things that made this series stand out for me were,first off there was normally just one good ending for each of the heroes. Unlike the CYOA books where you could have many good endings. The other major difference was how the WW&Y added small things to randomize stuff. Like I can remember in one of the novels the success of a spell depended on what day of the week you happened to be reading the novel. I remember in another one of the books where you were chained up in a dungeon. And had to start a fire by throwing at match onto a pile of hay that was in the room with you. So the simulate this the book instructed you to get 2 nickels. You took one and threw it across the room. That nickel was suppose to be the hay. Then you had to take the other nickel ,throw it and manage to hit the nickel that was already on the floor. All these little touches made the WW&Y series really stand out from CYOA and all the subpar clones of that series. And these small things are one of the reasons why I consider WW&Y to be my favorite of the 80s era gamebooks.

This entry in the series is about a werewolf knight that is terrorizing the kingdom that the Wizard and Warrior work for.From my somewhat crappy memory I seem to remember that while the WW&Y series was firmly set in the fantasy genre,out side of the Wizard's Spells there wasn't much else supernatural elements in most of the novels. Well book 7 more than makes up for the lack of spooky stuff. Usually with this series I prefer playing as the Wizard. Because you aren't limited to your sword and 2 or 3 other weapons. The Wizard has access to many spells. Sure some of them are pretty much worthless,but the variety of spells makes up for having a few duds.

Looking a the list of the first 8 novels in the series I think I owned 3 of them before getting book 7.Like I mentioned earlier the only place I ever saw these was at the 2 times a year school book fair. The local Walden's book had a section in the kids books just for all the various gamebook series. But they either never ordered any WW&Y books. Or they sold out before I could get there.

Another reason I loved this series as a child  was because of the mild horror elements in some of the novels and the slightly graphic artwork it felt to me like I was reading something meant for people much older than I was at the time. I never got that feeling from Choose your own Adventure,The Time Machine series,Which Way Books or even the Super Choose your own Adventure books. With the latter being advertised as being written for an older reader. Honestly the only 2 series of gamebooks that had that mature feel to them like WW&Y was the various Marvel superhero gamebooks TSR published and the Lone Wolf series of books. I owned most of the Marvel books. But never saw or even heard of the Lone Wolf series until the mid 2000s when I discovered a great online resource for info on gamebooks.

One neat thing about this novel is it is written by famous children's literature author R. L.Stine. I had just assumed that he started his career when he was writing the Goosebump series. And beside that series the only other series I knew that he had written was the Fear Street books. I am now wondering if maybe the novels in the WW&Y series that have supernatural elements are one written by Mr Stine.

Anytime I am at a place that deals in used books I always go through the kid's section and buy any gamebooks they have that I don't already own.In the over 15 years I have been collecting gamebooks I have never seen any of the Wizard Warriors and You series in a store. Back in August my mother's side of the family asked me to make an Amazon wishlist loaded with items I would like for X-mas. Something made me remember Wizards Warriors and You. Since I never saw them in used bookstores I was expecting copies to be pretty pricey. But the ones I found went from as cheap as 1 penny plus shipping up to $8 a book. Which isn't a bad price range. In the fall of 2014 I had twelve bucks in Amazon gift cards. I was wanting some new stuff to read. Plus wanted to get as much as I could for the 12 bucks. I grabbed this novel for a penny plus $3.99 shipping. It was listed as used but in good shape. For the cheap price I expected the book to be in well read shape. When I got it in it looked to my eyes to be in really good shape. No tears on the cover. Very little stress damage on the spine. And even the corners were still fairly sharp.

I started reading the book on the 2nd of January. With most nights after taking my sleep meds I would lay down and read this book until I hit one of the endings. A few nights I found myself falling asleep but forcing myself to stay awake so I could read one more ending and just maybe get the good ending for whatever character I had chosen. Once I got the good endings for both heroes I was very happy. The endings were satisfying and didn't feel tacked on like some of the endings in CYOA books do.

Wizards Warriors and You Book 7 Challenge of the Wolf Knight gets a 3.75 outta 5.