November 1st, 2007

10-I

Ten random things: November 1

Ten Academy Award winners who served in the military:

  1. Donald Crisp (10th Royal Hussars, Royal Army)
  2. Pierre Boulle (French Army)
  3. George Kennedy (U.S. Army)
  4. Pedro Almodóvar (Spanish Armed Forces)
  5. Ang Lee (Military of the Republic of China)
  6. Michael Curtiz (Austro-Hungarian Army)
  7. Paul Newman (U.S. Navy)
  8. Sean Connery (Royal Navy)
  9. Morgan Freeman (U.S. Air Force)
  10. Maximilian Schell (Swiss Army)

This list has its roots in the list I did for mmaresca last week, which named various people who share his last name. A I was researching Marescas for that list, I saw that Italian actor Angelo Maresca was a veteran of the Aeronautica Militare, the Italian Air Force, and decided them to return to the topic of actors who served in the miliary once Reader Request Month was over. Maresca ended up not making the list, obviously, since he hasn't won an Academy Award.

I would thnk most of these names are familiar to most of you, with two exceptions. Donald Crisp was an English Actor who won the 1941 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for How Green Was My Valley. He actually served in two different armed services. He served with the Hussars in the Boer War and with military intelligence during World War I; during World War II, having moved to Hollywood, he served with the U.S. Army Reserves. Pierre Boulle won an Oscar for adapting his novel The Bridge on the River Kwai for the screen, though in fact he had nothing to do with it. The screenplay was actually written by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman; Boulle was officially credited as screenwriter because Wilson and Foreman were both blacklisted at the time. In 1984, the Academy awarded posthumous Oscars to Wilson and Foreman, but did not revoke the Oscar given to Boulle; he's listed alongside Wilson and Forman in the Academy database as having won. River Kwai, incidentally, was inormed by Boulle's own experience as a prisoner in a forced labor camp in French Indochina during World War II.

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books

Book dump: August, September, October

Fell a little behind in posting these.

August

Whiskey Sour by J. A. Konrath
Police thriller, not as funny as I had been led to believe it would be.
 
Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
This is a few years old, and its thesis -- that the Republican Party has built up an institutional infrastructure dedicated to nothing but keeping themselves in power, and that democracy is suffering as a result -- been overtaken to some degree by recent events, but nonetheless it's a solid work of political analysis.
 
King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Surprisingly enlightened for a 19th century novel about British adventurers in colonial Africa, but the safari chapter is rather sickening to read with modern sensibilities.
 
The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander
This is basically Taran Wanderer relocated to the Middle East. Not bad, but it's too bad that Alexander's last book was yet another Prydain rehash.
 
Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? True Adventures in Internet Geekdom by Allyson Beatrice
You know, I probably could have done another week's worth of posts about this book.
 
My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student by Rebekah Nathan
Nathan's first-hand observations of her "fellow students" made for more compelling reading than her conclusions drawn from research and interviews.
 
Power Play by Joseph Finder
Finder has carved himself a nice little niche writing corporate thrillers, which is a nice change of pace from all the legal and medical thrillers out there.
 
Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez
The American quinceañera celebration is essentially an invented tradition, in that in the majority of cases, the mother of the quinceañera did not herself have a quinceañera celebration. Interesting! ALso, it's Keen-say-ah-NEER-ah, in case you were wondering.
 
Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
I think Stargirl was a more interesting character when seen through Leo Borlock's eyes.

September

Reasonable Doubt by Philip Friedman
Legal thriller. Meh.
 
Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home by Gil Reavill
Interesting portrait of a biohazard remediation company, and not nearly as gross as I might have though.
 
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke
Great title, entertaining book.

October

How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Master America's Favorite Puzzle by Amy Reynaldo
I think this actually did help me improve as a solver, not because of her hints and tips -- which, as a regular solver, I already knew -- but because of the practice puzzles included. Nothing like doing 11 Friday/Saturday puzzles in a row to improve your Friday/Saturday solving skills.
 
God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America by Hanna Rosin
When Michael Farris ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia a few years ago, he seemed like sort of a nut, but having now read this book about him and the evangelical college he founded, I can see that yes, he's definitely nuts.
 
Outside In by Courtney Thorne-Smith
Not bad, but the antagonists are so cartoonishly drawn that t's hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously. Incidentally, this and Getting Over Jack Wagner ought to prove once and for all that I'll read just about anything that's even remorely related to Melrose Place.
 
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs
A surprisingly sincere look at how following the Bible literally led to author to a deeper understanding of his own faith. Big improvement over Jacobs's previous book, The Know-It-All.
 
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
A Chris Crutcher novel with a female character with a tragic past? You don't say!
 
Eternals by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr.
Gaiman's two series for Marvel have both been kind of disappointing. And maybe it's because as a longtime DC guy I was't exposed to it at the right age, but I've never really cared much for John Romita Jr.'s art. Yeah, I said it.
 
Confessions of a Blabbermouth by Mike & Louise Carey and Aaron Alexovich
Pretty good, but a lit down after Carey's previous Minx title, the fabulous Re-Gifters.
 
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
Sharply drawn characters and a sensitive portryal of evangelical Christians, but the ending is kind of flat.
 
Critical Condition by Stephen White
Psychiatric thriller. Meh.
 
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Is Vowell really as much a social retard as she appears to be in the introduction, or is it just some of that exaggeration for humorous effect that always seems inappropriate in works of non-fiction?
 
Drop Shot by Harlen Coben
This is written in the breezy, conversational style so often found in the wise-cracking detective genre, but in third person rather than first, which I don't get. Is the idea that Bolitar is writing about himself in the third person, like Woodward and Bernstein in All the Presidents Men? Also, least surprising surprise revelation about a character ever!
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