Friday, December 31, 2010

Year of Bests '10

Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times
"You mustn't be afraid to dream bigger, darling." ~ Eames [Inception]
I was thinking that I would come up with something keenly philosophical about this year in review, but I think I left all of that in whatever posts I published on the blog this year. I guess I should be happy with that.


Anyway, the following are what I consider to have been the best posts and events in the blogs I follow and the interconnections they generated for this year:

The class act that is Jen Forbus (look up the term and you'll see her smiling and warm face right there). Plus, she keeps coming up with great reading series like Audiobook Thursdays. to make the rest of us jealous :-). Plus, I have her to thank for my Walt Longmire addiction, as well as sharing her wonderful company at another L.A. Times Festival of Books.

J.D. over at RADIATOR HEAVEN really knows his films and how to write a review that involves his readers. He brought a smile to my face this year with these posts/events on his blog for 2010: Heat, John Carpenter Blogathon, Midnight Run, Tombstone, Miami Vice

Author John Kenneth Muir's work is one that I continually discover through his Reflections on Film/TV blog. His penetrating and keen understanding regarding the context of where specific shows and film fit in our culture always offers up a thought-provoking ride. His recent list of his top visited posts is its own best category, and his look back at 1979's The Warriors remains one of my high-water marks. Still, I know for fact that I drew particular inspiration from two individualized reviews his this year: Cult Review: The Road and Cult TV Flashback # 111: The X-Files: "Sein Und Zeit"/"Closure". He is a smart and generous man, and I'm proud to call him friend.

I have nothing but praise for John D's (of Nobody MoveGreatest Sci-Fi Movies list (along with his overall taste in film).

Ed from Edward Copeland on Film... and more: brought more joy with his anniversary looks at RAN (25th) and The Grifters (20th).

If you enjoy horror, then you shouldn't have missed B-Sol's Vault of  Horror series, The Lucky 13. Time to catch up.

Jeff's Stuff Running 'Round My Head blog happily draws me to his thoughts on film, family, and song [even though he is a San Francisco Giants fan ;-)], but his look at one of my favorite books, The Use of Flashbacks In "L.A. Requiem", made my year.

The one who lives in Los Feliz and is a writer continues to put out simply wonderful reviews of films (both old and new) at this blog, Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur. Far too many of his movie appraisals would have to be placed here for a bests list and just wouldn't fit (he does so many great ones). So, I'll direct you to one particular and exemplary review to prove my point. His piece on Walter Hill's Wild Bill was great, but it was the last section of the review that affected and pierced me with its words and acuity. And I still consider it the best paragraph I read all year.

Sci-Fi Franatic's movie examination of David Cronenberg's underrated adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone, God's Been a Real Sport to Me post, is the best example of why I'm so glad to have discovered his blog, and in doing so, made another friend.

Jeremy Ritchie's splendid critic defense of director Paul. W.S. Anderson, as well as his Paul Thomas Anderson Blogathon, at Moon in the Gutter shouldn't be missed.

Colonel Mortimer's (of his ... Will Have His Revenge blog) splendid 1980's Project which included favorites The Long Riders and John Carpenter's The Fog was another highlight and finding.

All hail Patricia Abbott's continuing blog and book series, Friday's Forgotten Books. It remains a joy to read, and sometimes to add to.

Naomi Johnson's determination and prowess in bringing off the second annual Watery Grave Invitational cannot be underestimated. If there's any one reason why I continue to enjoy short stories (and her book reviews), it was she and this.

Blogger christian over at Technicolor Dreams never fails at writing something interesting about culture, music, politics and film. For me, the best example of this was his Sci-Fi Dystopia Theatre: Rollerball (1975) post.

Tanya over at Dog Eared Copy weighs in two things near and dear to me. Audiobooks and film. Her recent looks at The Ice Harvest and I Am Legend are not to be missed. But it was her first audiobook review, Matterhorn: A Novel of Vietnam, that caught my eye and put her on the follow list.

I cannot forget to mention the splendid piece for the classic, The Big Country, written by the fine western/noir film blogger who goes by the non de plume of Livius over at Riding the High Country. If you enjoy the genre, don't miss this one.

Will's Secure Immaturity blog was another blue-chip uncovering. That he allowed a less than worthy DS9 fan like myself to join in on his superb Deep Space Nine celebration this year shows he's more than a nice guy. He's also a fine and engaging writer... even though John Kenneth Muir, Sci-Fi Frantic, and I harangue him over his Star Trek: The Next Generation allegiance ;-).

Bryce Wilson (Things That Don't Suck) is another choice find. His review for one of the most startling films of this or any year, Black Swan, left me pointing it out to others to take in. His own review of the year in film is also worth reading.

Chris Voss of Celluloid Moon would be my third on a match, very definitely not unluckily, for new (to me) blog revelation. His review contribution to J.D.'s John Carpenter tribute week, Prince of Darkness, was a thorough blast and stood out to me. His post for the 15 Directors meme was also a great one.

I give full credit and thanks to Rachel of Scientist Gone Wordy for coming up and following up with the idea of doing duo reviews of books and their film adaptations. I'm just happy to ride her coattails with these: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, A Scanner Darkly by Phlip K. Dick, The Children of Men by P. D. James, and The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick. Note: I also praise Naomi Johnson for pointing her out to me in blogosphere and noting her thoughts on Elvis Cole and Joe Pike and review of Stalking the Angel. And hell, she even appreciates a great sci-fi classic like Dune.

While I'll always read her fun and sharp-witted movie and book reviews, and especially pieces like Pop Culture Nerd's take on female action heroes, the posts that really tug at me are those when she opens up about herself. Cases in point, My First Halloween and What Memorial Day Means to Me.

Dennis Cozzalio did his readers a great favor with his fascinating, intellectual discourse on seeing (or choosing not to see) Irreversible (a film I still won't touch). And of course who can forget this year's fabulous and legendary film quizzes from Spring Break, Labor Day and Year-End Holiday time.

Lastly, I must spotlight my dear friend Corey Wilde's last latest book review of Print the Legend. This was the post placed into the ether before he handed The Drowning Machine blog's reins over to the very capable hands of Naomi Johnson. It was published on February 15, 2010 and was typical for the quality of his book examinations and the judgment for the works he deemed essential reading. Besides Jen, who got me started scrawling my thoughts down in a weblog, I also have him to thank for where it is now. Without Corey's encouragement, comments and feedback to nurture it in 2008, I think the recording of my thoughts would have petered out a long time ago. I continue to hope and watch out for the man's return to the surface.

Books (includes Audiobooks)

My books of the year in each category are in bold.
Most enjoyed in fiction
Shutter Island, Elsewhere, The Gentlemen's Hour, A Bad Day for Sorry, The Sentry (ARC), The Lock Artist, The Guards, Death Without Company, Toros and Torsos, California Fire and Life,  Kindness Goes Unpunished, The First Rule, The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death, The Rainy City, The Shawshank Redemption (re-read), Strip, Print the Legend, So Cold the River, Savages, A Red Death (re-read), Echo Burning, The Killing of the Tinkers, Metzger's Dog, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Another Man's Moccassins, Salem's Lot (re-read), The Butcher's Boy, Envy the Night, The Magdalen Martyrs
Most enjoyed in non-fiction
The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder and the Construction of America's First Superhighway, The Films of John Carpenter, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Most enjoyed audiobook narrators
I can't imagine anybody other than Gerry O'Brien as the voice of Jack Taylor (The Guards, The Killing of the Tinkers, Magdalen Martyrs), or someone else's tones for Walt Longmire (Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, Another Man's Moccasins) instead of George Guidall, and Tom Stechschulte simply is Hector Lassiter (Toros and Torsos, Print the Legend). Not surprisingly, more kudos for Ron McLarty (California Fire and Life, Salem's Lot), Dick Hill (Echo Burning), Frank Muller (The Shawshank Redemption), and Simon Vance (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). For me, 2010 brought great audio introductions with the likes of MacLeod Andrews (The Lock Artist), Paul Michael Garcia (The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death), Cassandra Campbell & Bahni Turpin (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), and Michael Kramer (Strip, Savages, Metzger's Dog, The Butcher's Boy).


Films on the big screen I got a kick out of in 2010
  • Inception
  • Toy Story 3
  • Black Swan
  • True Grit
  • Kiss Ass
  • 127 Hours
  • The Tillman Story
  • The Dirty Dozen
  • Chinatown
  • Harry Brown
  • The Uninvited (1944)
  • Inside Job
  • Shutter Island
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Heat
  • TRON: Legacy
  • Machete
  • RED
  • The Expendables
  • The Other Guys
  • The Crazies
  • Hot Tub Time Machine
  • The American
  • Salt
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  • Knight and Day
  • Back to the Future (25th Anniversary)
  • Ghostbusters
  • Unstoppable
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
But I'm still kicking myself for missing Winter's Bone, The Social Network, Hereafter, The Town, Waiting for Superman, Buried, Let Me In, and The King's Speech on the big screen. But, that why Netflix is around.
The list for those that did the same but were on disc or streamed
  • Ip Man
  • Despicable Me
  • Centurion
  • Red Cliff
  • Doomsday
  • The Last Voyage
  • Dante's Peak
  • Volcano
  • Good Hair
  • The Missing Person
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Lathe of Heaven
  • Children of Men
  • The Princess Bride
  • Minority Report
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Freebie and the Bean
  • Red Sun
  • Last Train from Gun Hill
  • Helvetica
  • Hard Target (Director's Cut)
  • Nightmares in Red, White and Blue
  • The Pacific
  • TRON
  • The Third Man
Happy New Year!

John W. Adkisson, Los Angeles Times


  1. Leopard13.  It has been an absolute pleasure to get to know you this past year.  I have been fortunate to add you to a short list of some of the finest people I know.  Truly, you are a good friend and I sincerely appreciate the honor of making your fine look back at the year in review.  Honestly, there's nothing lazy about your thoughts here and it is a worthy place to spend some time on the web.  Thanks so much and Happy New Year my friend. SFF

  2. Thank you for the kind words, lp13. I'm sure I don't deserve any of them.I am happy to note that we both enjoy NOBODY MOVE, as well as several of the other blogs you named. (I do skip the Babe of the Week posts though.)

    I pointed out Rachel's blog to you? I have no recollection of that, in fact, I thought it was you who introduced me to her blog. Anyway, I love the parallel series the two of you have developed.

    And a toast to Corey also. I owe him more than I could ever articulate, though he would probably squash me like a bug if I tried to do so.

    Happy New Year to you, and keep those 'lazy thoughts' coming.

  3. Hey there! Thank you so much for the shout-out and the very kind words, my friend. Through thick and thin, you've always been a vocal and regular commentator on my blog and I really do appreciate that! It's good to know that there are others out there enjoying this stuff. And you're blog is fantastic! I plan to do a year-end post myself and I had a hard time picking just one post from your blog. So many great ones that you've done this year. Thanks again!

  4. Wow! What a great post. And I'm very honored and humbled to be included in it and amonst so many fabulous bloggers. I met and loved a lot of the same new audiobook narrators you did. Of course it's probably because I'm regularly looking to you for audiobook advice and input! :-) Happy New Year my wonderful friend!

  5. <span>¿En qué estás pensando...?</span>
    Amazing post, cousin. You're adding a few blogs for me to check.

    Anyway, this was a great year, indeed. Thanks for it, le0pard, and have a great great New Year!!

  6. This is a great comprehensive list, proof you are a connoisseur of entertainment and the blogosphere. Thanks so much for the mention. I always assume no one wants to read my nerdy personal stories so your generous words mean a lot to me.

    I wish you and your family a fantastic new year full of joy, good health and pleasant surprises.

  7. This is a great list and brought lots of new ideas to me. Thanks for being so well-informed. And what happened to Corey Wilde. I have always wondered.

  8. I hope your site isn't still angry with me... having odd posting issues... anyway...

    Awesome list with some great links to check out! Thanks so much for the round-up and for keeping us all informed! One of my blog highlights is, of course, reading your lazy thoughts!

    Happy New Year!

  9. Always enjoy dropping by to read your post, very good insights to our pop world, keep it up and......................

    Have a Happy 2011!

  10. Thank you so much for the kind inclusion! It's an honor. And the best to you and your great site in 2011!

  11. Hi Michael,

    I just returned from the holiday weekend (away from the Net...) to find this great post; and to read your kind words. 

    It is a great honor and privilege to be included in your Best of Year tally, and it's wonderful to be in such outstanding company too.  Your friendship means a great deal to me as well, my friend.  Thank you so much, and Happy New Year!

    John Kenneth Muir

  12. You are very kind and generous with your words, SFF. It is something I've come to know this past year and feel gifted with your friendship. I very much look forward to what your blog and comradeship have in store for 2011. Many thanks.

  13. You always have perceptive thoughts when you comment on this blog, and you do so often to my great joy. I'm blessed to have you as a friend, Naomi, and look forward to B'con later in the year when you and I both get can raise a glass (mine will have to be ginger ale) to our friend Corey's honor. The best to you and yours for 2011.

  14. Right back at 'ya, J.D. It's easy being a regular at your site. There's always something great to comment on, and I expect no different for 2011. Your John Carpenter Week was a true highlight last year, and introduced me to more great bloggers in the 'sphere. All the best to you and yours.

  15. Jen, you are my longest and dearest friend in the blogosphere, and I'm lucky to have met such classy and generous individual. And even if that wasn't true, I would have listed you here on the quality of the content on your blog site. You always deliver such great reading. Thanks so very much.

  16. Thank you so much, Poncho. I am so very glad we're part of each other's circle, and family.

  17. It is always great to hear from you, Elyse. And the quality of your writing matches your personality to a tee. It's been a great experience in 2010 to follow you. I know 2011 will be even better for your site and you personally. Many thanks.

  18. Thank you very much. We only know Corey Wilde relocated, and we sincerely miss his presence. Online and otherwise.

  19. I'm assuming this might be Rachel (given how my commenting system gives you special attention). The pleasure is all mine. Finding and following your blog was a highlight for me last year, and I'm honored to continue to work with you. Thanks very much for this.

  20. Thanks so much, Herb. It's also been a pleasure following Laura and you travel the world and recording (and imaging) it on your blog.

  21. Thank you so much. I very much appreciate it.

  22. Always glad to hear from you, John. I can honestly say reading your incisive and thoughtful site, along with your books, has brought a greater perspective to the subjects you write about. As I've said before, you are a gentleman and a scholar, and it's good to know you. All the best to you and yours for 2001, my friend.

  23. Thanks, Will. Here's hoping for a new browser at work for you in the coming year, my friend. I hope to hear your comments in 2011  ;) .

  24. Thanks a lot for the shout out, much appreciated. Sorry I've been with family and absent from the ol' blogosphere so I just am catching up with some older post.

    I am jealous you saw The Uninvented on the big screen, where was that? I know it's one of Scorsese's favorite horror films.

    Happy New Year

  25. Glad to do it, Colonel. I very much enjoy the content you produce on your blog site.

    I saw The Uninvited at the New Beverly Cinema back in July. It was great.

    Many thanks, my friend.

  26. Love this post~~your blog is in my top five of blogs to read.
    Happy 2011 to you!

  27. You're a true gentleman Le0pard. Thanks so much for including me in such fine company, for all the great work you do here, and for all the insightful comments you've left on TTDS.

    Here's to 2011!

    (PS. If you want a good audiobook In The Woods. Disturbing content fantastic job.)

  28. Thank you so much, Bev. I don't miss any of your posts, either. Same to you, my friend.

  29. Your site has quickly become a frequent stop for me due its excellent content. Thank you very much for your kind words, and for that audiobook recommendation, Bryce.

  30. Late to the party as usual! Still, better late than never.
    I just want to wish you a Happy New Year and express my appreciation at being included in that marvellous list. Also thanks for your continued support.
    Here's hoping 2011 is a good one my friend.

  31. Thank you very much, Colin. Great to see you back online. The same to you, my friend.