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Friday, October 30, 2015

Where Do Ghost Stories Come From?

It's that time of year once again, Halloween u...
It's that time of year once again, Halloween ushers in the best holiday of the Holiday season! Taken at La Mesa Oktoberfest in 2007 but still relevant every Halloween. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


        This post did not turn out like I had planned.  I was putting together a post about evil, but when I started correlating the concept not only to Halloween, but to the world in general my mind began to drift to more pleasantness.  Then I started thinking back on the Halloweens of my past.  I have some interesting memories if not totally fun ones.  Maybe the real evil can wait until another post because it's out there whether we can name it or not. No, not in this post.

        And sorry if my title led you here to read ghost stories.  I don't have any special chillers to tell you, but I just wanted to ruminate a bit on memories.  As some of you know I also have a memoir blog called Wrote By Rote which posts every Saturday (except in unique circumstances perhaps). Coming to that blog on October 31 (tomorrow on the day of this post's publication) I'll be discussing the impact that memories can have on who we are and how those memories can be channeled into writing memoir.   In other words I'll be tossing out ideas to the readers just like I do on this blog you're reading now and then hopefully we have a conversation about the topic.

        Think about how "ghosts" are often a metaphor for our memories of bygone people, things, and events.   When I think of it that way I kind of wonder how many ghost stories are actually allegories or symbolic representations of things in the author's own life.

          Oh, if you want to think on that a moment then here's some background music.   "Memories" from the musical Cats is even more beautiful than I remember.




        If you really got into that song like I did, you might want to hear it again.  How about the following version by Barbra Streisand.   I must be in some strange mellow mood tonight as I write this post.  Anyway, here's Barbra.





          Gosh this is almost like a Battle of the Bands post!  I guess you can vote on one of these if you want, but for my real official Battle of the Bands be sure to come back here this Sunday November 1st.   My song for this next round will be another one about memories, aging, and ghosts.  The song will be a far different style--and a bit scarier--than this song from Cats.  It's a song by one of my favorite rock artists.

          See you Sunday!

         What kinds of memories tend to haunt you the most?  What are the most tangible and sensate memories that you hold?    How do your memories communicate with you?







Monday, October 26, 2015

Stephen Tremp on Narrative Identity

      Today I'm participating in the Listing Blog Hop which is hosted by Bish Denham and Alex J Cavanaugh.  You can check out the details and list of participants by visiting their sites (links in previous sentence).   For my list post please click here.

      And now I'd like to introduce a special guest who is standing in for me today.   Most of you undoubtedly know author Stephen Tremp.  He's been a long time blog friend of mine as well as having written one of my favorite book series which includes Breakthrough, Opening, and Escalation.    Talk to us, Stephen.




"Narrative Identity is a person's internalized and evolving life story, integrating the reconstructed past and imagined future to provide life with some degree of unity and purpose." (sagepub) Often I hear writers integrating their family history and memories into their story. 

Plot, setting, characters, events, dialogue, and imagery are weaved in part or in whole into a story as a way to honor parents or grandparents, capturing a time gone by they do not want to disappear. "Narrative Identity is the focus of interdisciplinary research, with deep roots in psychology." (Wiki

The inspiration for Salem’s Daughters came from three sources. 

First the nocturnal cats at my parents’ house who learned to stand and use their paws to open doors. Sleeping in my old bedroom while visiting on vacation, all I saw and heard was the old glass style door knobs rattling, then the door opening. I didn’t see the cats because they immediately dropped to the carpeted floor. And it was night. Spooky! 

Second came as my parents drove us through the two-lane roads of southern Michigan. The scenery along the north branch of the Kalamazoo River is absolutely beautiful. With vivid imagery they told us of their childhood and their life and times as kids growing up. I wanted to capture everything and took a lot of notes and pictures. 

Third we happened onto a very old broken down dilapidated farmhouse and barn. I wondered what it would take to buy the land and rebuild. But the place looked so spooky I thought the property might very well be haunted. During that twenty-four period the cats, the incredible imagery along the Kalamazoo River, and the spooky old ramshackle house and barn was all it took and Salem’s Daughters was born. 

I wanted to describe much of the incredible countryside and events when my parents and grandparents were raised, and wrote much of what I recorded here and there throughout Salem’s Daughters. Narrative Identity; a great tool for writing a novel. 
Spooky Fun for Halloween

Question: Have you incorporated any Narrative Identity into your books? Moving forward, are there family memories you might want to include in a future work? 

Short Blurb: A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast. 

Stephen Tremp writes Speculative Fiction and embraces science and the supernatural to help explain the universe, our place in it, and write one of a kind thrillers. 

Meeting Author Dean Koontz
You can read a full synopsis and download Salem’s Daughters by Clicking Here

Stephen Tremp posts weekly blogs at his website Breakthrough Blogs

Next Stop: Friday October 30th Chrys Fey at Writing With Fey.



Thanks for stopping by, Stephen!

Now please visit my post for The Listing Hop.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Does the Law Apply to Me?

English: Speed Limit 80MPH on Interstate Highw...
 Speed Limit 80MPH on Interstate Highway 15 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       Here's something I thought I'd just toss out to you.

        After many years of driving for miles and miles, and even a stint of driving professionally for a limousine service, I consider myself to be an excellent driver.  I have a good driving record and keep my vehicles well maintained.

        With these factors in mind I wonder if traffic laws should necessarily apply to me?   Since I sometimes take lengthy road trips I could save a fair amount of time if I were able to drive 100 MPH or more when I deemed road conditions to be safe.   I'm not talking in urban areas, but on those long low traffic stretches in places like the deserts of CA, AZ, and NM and the barren lands of West Texas.  On other interstates where speed limits are 65 or 75 MPH I feel I can capably drive at 80 MPH or even 90 MPH if all conditions are safe for driving at higher speeds.

        The speed laws are but one example. I think there are plenty of laws that would be okay for me to break.  I'm an intelligent and reasonable kind of guy who can make good decisions as to when it's okay for me to disregard existing laws.

         Sure, I understand that we are a nation of laws and all of those other cliches we hear.  But really, do laws make that much difference any more?   I am a decent citizen who is respectful to my community.  Why can't I break the laws that I want to disregard?

         Just wondering and thought I'd toss it out to you to see what you had to say on the matter.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's Getting Scarier (BOTB Results)

Scared child
Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's Getting Scarier
       
       Halloween is nothing when it comes to scary.  It's just a time when we make scary an entertaining thing and poke fun at fear.   Horror movies have long been a popular genre and ghost stories probably go back to the beginning of time.   It's a wonder that so many of us relish hearing about scary fantasy when we've got more than enough scary in real life to turn all of our hair white and make us want to lock ourselves away forever.

       One need only watch the television news or read about events happening in the world, in the nations in which they live, or right in their own communities.   There are plenty of frightening stories that are real and sometimes it seems like things just keep getting scarier.  Health issues, climate change threats, cyber-terrorism as well as the dark clouds looming over the economic horizon are enough to stimulate doubts and fears within us.  We never know when violence will strike where we are.

         Uncertainty about what tomorrow holds and what the forces of evil are cooking up around the world might be driving some of you to feelings of insecurity and anxiety.   Personally I don't feel too threatened by a lot of what I hear about other than issues that are most likely to affect me directly.  Each day though it does seem like there is more to fear.   Especially when my imagination starts going a bit wild.

     


"I Scare Myself"

       My recent Battle of the Bands was a contest between Thomas Dolby and a Dan Hicks/Rickie Lee Jones duo performing Dan Hicks' own song "I Scare Myself".   These were both outstanding performances for my taste in music.  I was on a seesaw at first with these versions.  The Dan Hicks version had the violin and I typically gravitate toward anything with a violin in it.  I loved that hot jazz sound and I'm just a big fan of the campy Dan Hicks style.

        However in the final analysis Dolby's dark ethereal smoky jazz version won me over.  I've been a Dolby fan since I first heard his music in the 80's.   He's a talented guy who is very musically innovative.  My vote went to Dolby's version as did the majority of those of you who voted.  Still, Hicks managed a credible showing with several voters boosting his numbers toward the end of the voting.
   
        Thank you all for your votes on this excellent match.


Final Vote Tally:

Thomas Dolby                                        19 Votes                  

Dan Hicks and Rickie Lee Jones          11 Votes

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Coming soon!

         Another Battle of the Bands post will be appearing on Sunday November 1st.  Since it comes during Halloween weekend and on the Day of the Dead, I'm going to continue with another scary themed song by one of my favorite artists.   It's a song that you might enjoy better as a cover than as the original which most of you probably haven't heard anyway.  Hope you come this grand musical haunting and cast your vote.   


 Do you think the world around you is getting scarier?   Do your fears tend to be rational or more toward the irrational?   Do you ever secretly hope for something really scary to happen like a zombie uprising, a nuclear attack, or the breakout of utter chaos?

Monday, October 19, 2015

WHAT I LEARNED FROM WRITING MY FIRST NOVEL

       Karen Walker joins me with a guest post as she stirs awareness for her upcoming novel which is now available (see details below).  As one of my earliest blogging friends, Karen has appeared on my blogs as my guest a few times.  She's back with some timely advice as we approach National Novel Writing Month in November.  And now here's Karen:

WHAT I LEARNED FROM WRITING MY FIRST NOVEL AFTER 35+ YEARS OF WRITING NONFICTION
By Karen Helene Walker

Thank you, Lee, for hosting me today.
Writing a novel is the hardest thing I’ve ever tackled. No kidding. There are so many things you have to think about. First, you have to have a story that is of interest to some segment of the population. Then you have to have a plot with twists and turns that will keep your audience turning the pages. Then you have to have characters. Interesting characters. Characters with flaws. Characters that your readers will hopefully care about. And as if that isn’t enough, you have to be able to describe settings and show, not tell, what happens to these characters. And of course, your novel must contain similes and metaphors and other literary devices that make the story richer and more readable.
Before I wrote and published my memoir in 2009, I’d written essays and articles in my career as a public relations professional in the health care industry. Those things are so much easier than a novel. You think of a topic, you research facts and figures, you find an expert you can quote, you write a good hook, put in the background info, put in a call to action, if required, and voila, you’re done. I don’t mean to imply this kind of writing doesn’t require skill. It does. It’s just simpler than writing a novel.
My novel did require some research, especially in the middle section, which takes place during the middle ages. But my novel is not historical fiction, thank goodness, so I didn’t have to be accurate with details. For example, there are wishing steps surrounding Blarney Castle in Ireland, but the wishing steps in my novel became something altogether different. Still, I needed to imagine what life might have been like for a wise woman during that era when the Inquisition was happening -- not an easy feat for someone who has difficulty visualizing what isn’t there. When we were building our house in 1998, it wasn’t until the dry wall went up that I actually knew what the house would look like. See what I mean? Novelists need a good imagination. I had to work at this. Hard.
So, what did I learn from this experience? Several things, actually. One, when I set out to do something, no matter how hard it is, I do it. And that feels wonderful. So, if you’ve always wanted to do something, go ahead and do it. You won’t be sorry. Secretly, in the depths of my soul, I’d always wanted to write a novel. Just didn’t think I could. Well, I could and I did.
Two, there is always help when you are working on something, anything, if you’re only willing and able to ask for it. I had wonderful support from my writing coach, editor, Mark David Gerson (www.markdavidgerson.com). Without him, this book wouldn’t exist.
And lastly, listening to the whispers (which was the theme of my memoir, Following the Whispers) is crucial to my well-being. Writing this book became a deeply moving and profoundly healing spiritual journey. I needed to write this book. And I am so grateful I did.
Here’s the scoop on the story:
Three Women and a Single Story That Unites Them Across the Millennia
“Totally engrossing. A must-read for today’s wise woman!”
Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, minister/priestess
Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women must face soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.
“Guaranteed to inspire you to a deeper level of spirituality and a new appreciation for Goddess.”
Rev. Clara Z. Alexander


About the Author:
Karen Helene Walker is a widely published essayist and author of the 2009 memoir, Following the Whispers. When she isn’t writing, you will often find Karen performing in nursing homes and retirement communities as part of the Sugartime or Sophisticated Ladies musical groups, traveling with her husband of 20 years, Gary, or relaxing with a good book at their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit the author’s website at www.karenhelenewalker.com

The Wishing Steps is  available now in both print and ebook versions at: Amazon.com. You can also purchase it as an ebook on Kobo, I Tunes, and at Barnes and Noble.

Don't Forget to Vote!



        And I'm not talking about any political election.   If you haven't taken the time to visit my Battle of the Bands post I hope you will now and vote on your favorite version of my song pick for the Halloween season. 






Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Scare Myself (BOTB)

Halloween
Halloween (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There can be no courage unless you're scared."
-- Eddie Rickenbacker,
fighter pilot and business leader


       Halloween is coming upon us.  This is a celebration that has particular significance to Tossing It Out since this blog began a little over six years ago as a Halloween blog.  That's the industry that I was working in prior to starting this blog so it stood to reason at that time to start writing about what I knew as writers are often recommended to do.  I knew Halloween.

        My blogging interest in Halloween dissipated pretty quickly as I became more interested in the writing process itself.  That's where my real interests lie.  In reality I'm no big fan of Halloween anymore--not like I was when I was a kid.  Moving Halloween products into stores was an enjoyable job in many ways, but the event day itself was more of a let down for me as the real excitement was in the months leading up to Halloween itself.  Now Halloween is a fun memory of the past and no longer particularly relevant to my present time.

        This doesn't mean I'm going to ignore Halloween completely.  For this Battle of the Bands edition I present a "scary" song to celebrate the scary season.

Battle of the Bands!

        Battle of the Bands needs no introduction for most of my readers, but just in case anyone is wondering, this is an event that takes place on the 1st and 15th of each month.  Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series gets the credit for first conceiving this now popular event.  Blogger Stephen T McCarthy maintains the participant list and answers your questions about the event--you can find his blog with a list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   

        This is not at all complicated:  Listen to the song versions presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battles to vote on.

"I Scare Myself"

        This song was written by campy eclectic artist Dan Hicks.  It was originally recorded by his band Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks--one of the best and most diverse bands of the past 50 years.  The band is difficult to categorize, but Hicks calls his music "folk jazz" which seems like an appropriate label.  

         Don't vote on this, but for reference purposes for those who are interested here is the original version.  And the following are your voting selections:

Thomas Dolby "I Scare Myself"  (1984)

         Music artist and record producer Thomas Dolby covered "I Scare Myself" on his second album The Flat Earth (1984).  I particularly enjoy the jazzy piano and trombone near the halfway point of this recording.  While staying true to the original, Dolby adds a cool feel to his version of the song.






Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks with Rickie Lee Jones  "I Scare Myself"  (2000)

      The alternative version that I'm offering is actually Dan Hicks doing a cover version of his own song.   He's joined by Rickie Lee Jones as they step up the tempo with a sort of hip-hop world music sound.  The jazziness is still evident in the vocals and the signature Hot Licks jazz style violin.   Enjoy!






Time to Vote!

         Don't be scared to vote on this Battle.  I hope you'll add your vote to this contest. Which song version do you like the best?  Judge what you hear in the above videos. Which version do you prefer? It's up to you to help determine the winner.

       Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ 

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Women:  We Shall Overcome  

Book Lover

J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers

NovelBrews


Results on Wednesday October 21st

     I'll be back with the final tally and the winner on Wednesday October 21st. Also, join me this Saturday on Wrote By Rote when I present another Soundtrack of My Life segment based on a song by the great Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.

        Are your fears mostly based on external threats or what is in your mind?  What are your biggest fears?   Are you familiar with the music of Dan Hicks?   



Monday, October 12, 2015

Refugees, Migrants, or Invaders?


       There has been much debate concerning issues of immigration of late.  Donald Trump unleashed a firestorm of controversy about illegal immigrants in the United States, but now much of this story has been superseded by the waves of humanity flooding into Europe.  Who are these people that we are hearing about?

         The U.S. network news media sources seem to portray this as mostly a humanitarian crisis spawned by the war in Syria.  Most of the news footage that I've been seeing shows a preponderance of young males.  Oh, sure, they'll focus on the occasional female in Muslim attire and the innocent looking children, but when they show the masses, most of those shown are young men.  Often they aren't behaving very peaceably.   Why aren't these men fighting to defend their countries and preserve their own heritages?

         Many of those coming to Europe are from countries other than Syria.  They also hail from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Libya, and other predominately Muslim countries.  Can we truly refer to all of these groups as "refugees"?   Or are they migrants "looking for a better life"?   Or might they be invaders settling in to prepare for the future Islamization of Europe?

       Consider some of the following quotes by Muslim leaders if you will:
   
       Islam will take over Europe without violent force within a few decades.We have 50 million Muslims in Europe.  There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.
      Europe is in a predicament, and so is America.  They should agree to become Islamic in the course of time, or else declare war on the Muslims.
      Muslims view Muhammad the prophet not only of the Arabs or Muslims but of all people.   He superseded all previous religions.  If Jesus were alive when Muhammad was sent, he would have followed him. All people must be Muslims.
 Late Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi in a speech aired on the Arab satellite network Al Jazeera on April 10, 2006.




"Islam must win and Westerners will be destroyed...If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam.  Muslims who don’t hate America sin.  There is no iman [belief] if one doesn’t hate America."
Abu Bakar Bashir, a leading Muslim cleric

Sheikh Muhammad Ayed called on the refugees to “breed children with them (the Europeans),” and by doing so, “we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you.”
“Take the refugees! We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming Caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you,” he concluded.
---As cited by The Daily Mail and other sources.

        Just something to consider on this Columbus Day.  You can draw your own conclusions.  Feel free to leave your thoughts about this in the comment section.



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shift Happens--I Hope (#IWSG & BOTB Results)

      On the first Wednesday of each month Tossing It Out participates in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who convene to discuss the struggles as well as the triumphs of pursuing the literary life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog.  It's an extensive list which will lead you to much worthwhile information. 



Shift Happens--I Hope

       Insecurity doesn't apply to me so much these days as far as writing goes.   Maybe ambivalence might be a more appropriate term to use for the way I feel.   Knowing what I really probably should do is not enough to make me do it.  A calumnious spirit of my inner writer seems to be trying to talk me out of wasting my time on an activity that might not reap that many benefits.   Or maybe a deleterious attack of apathy is keeping me from doing much of anything in regard to writing.

        On Tuesday an unexpectedly long wait at an auto dealer gave me some time to read a book that I had had the foresight to bring with me.  These days I try to remember to bring a book with me whenever I think I might have a wait somewhere.  For this wait I grabbed an old paperback that was from my junior year in high school.  The book was The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder.  The last time I read this was nearly fifty years ago--the price on the book was forty five cents.   While waiting I read over half of this relatively short book.  I'll finish it tonight.

        Maybe I need to read some more so I can spark my enthusiasm for writing.   Or maybe by reading more I'll get discouraged about my own writing after reading someone else's good writing.   I don't think so, but I do need a recharge.

          Hopefully this is just a passing phase that will be over soon.  Then maybe I'll shift into high gear and get back on that writing road.  I hope that's what happens.






"La Cucaracha" Battle Results

         When Louis Armstrong is one of the combatants in a Battle of the Bands contest he is likely to be the winner.   I haven't been keeping records on this, but I believe Armstrong has been used more than once in various past Battles that BOTB participants have put up and I'm pretty sure he has always won.  With my most recent Battle we can hand Satchmo another victory.

          The Battle was between the ever popular jazz man Louis Armstrong and Mexican-American eclectic artist Lila Downs performing very different versions of the old song "La Cucaracha".    These versions couldn't have been much different.   There are many reasons other than simple taste or musical preference why Armstrong won this one.  I won't speculate on any of these reasons, but I can offer a defense for my own reason for voting as I did.

         No doubt that Armstrong's version is quite good, but to me he took what is often a trite song presentation and turned it into a somewhat trite hot jazz novelty tune which includes some scat singing (of which I am not particularly a fan) and mostly unintelligible lyrics that seem to say little if anything.  When the sax and trumpet solos kick in at the end it's kind of cool, but nothing musically groundbreaking.   Don't get me wrong;  I like Armstrong's version just fine.  It's fun and it's well performed.

          However, Lila Downs actually gives "La Cucaracha" a sense of musical importance.  The lyrics are complex, meaningful, and intelligible (if you understand Spanish).  The minor key creates a sense of gravitas rather then making the song mere silly passing fun.   Lila's vocal is far superior to Armstrong's and the musicianship is equal to the hot jazz band as well as being more interesting--to my ears at least. 

          My vote goes to Lila Downs with a nod of respect to the efforts of Louis Armstrong.  Many of the voters felt similarly.  The race was a very close one with Lila ahead at times and a near tie toward the end.  But in the final stretch Louis Armstrong captured the votes he needed to score the win in this Battle.

Final Vote Tally:

Louis Armstrong       16 votes

Lila Downs                13 votes

          My next Battle of the Bands post will be a special for the Halloween season.  Be here on Thursday October 15th for the scary showdown.

      Do you remember to bring reading material when you expect to wait somewhere?  What required reading from your school days have you revisited in more recent years?   What is your response to the outcome of my Battle between Louis Armstrong and Lila Downs?      


Monday, October 5, 2015

Who Is the Star of Me? and Top 25 Favorite Movies



         I'm linking to this post as my participation in The Listing Hop hosted by Bish Denham.  Since I'd already put together this list someone had suggested that I should participate in the blog hop so here it is again for those who missed the list the first time around.

         Scroll down for my list of my top 25 favorite films.






  The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined.  The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day.  Click on the link to his blog for more participants.   

      Here is this month's question:

 “Who would play you in a movie of your life?” 

       This is not a good question to ask me.  For one thing I don't keep up with many newer actors and that's obviously the crop from which I'd have to pick unless we were talking about actors from all time.   Even then I'm not sure who I'd think would play me well because I can't remember their names.  

        Since my life has been neither particularly heroic, tragic, or even all that romantic, I'd probably want to see my life as a comedy.  But who to choose?   Damn, I'd make a lousy casting director.  

          I guess I'll just go with that guy--you know, the funny guy who was in that funny movie--what was it called?   Aw, you know.   The funny movie with that uproariously funny actor what's-his-name.   Maybe I'll think of it later.   Or maybe you can tell me.

          Bad answer I suppose, but it's the best I've got.



One of the twin movie theaters at Casino Theat...
One of the twin movie theaters at Casino Theatre Entertainment Center, Mount Pocono, Pa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 25 FAVORITE MOVIES EVER MADE?

      This question was asked at Stephen T McCarthy's blog and since we're on the subject of movies I thought that this would be a good time for me to post my list.  You too can join in with your own list by linking your post to Stephen's blog or by answering in the comment section of his post on the topic.

        Here are the rules in part:
Top 25 lists should be in TWO PARTSThe Top Ten, and The Next Fifteen. You don't need to order them as #1, #2, #3, etc. You can alphabetize them if you want (that's helpful), or you can just list them in any random order, so long as we can tell the Top Ten from The Next Fifteen (because 'Top 10' movies will receive 3 points, while 'The Next Fifteen' movies - in your Top 25 list - will receive 2 points).
And, according to our old rules, a person can list singly a movie from a series, or they can take the ENTIRE SERIES and list it in one spot. 


       For more details, again, visit Stephen T McCarthy's blog to get the complete story on this.  I'll be listing my films in no particular order other than what comes to my mind first.  This was more difficult than I expected.   My list today might vary next time I'd think about it, but this is a good overview of some films I tend to have enjoyed over the years and still enjoy watching.  Some of my listed films will be unlikely to show up on the bigger list of the generally most favorite films, but I've been told I have some odd taste in films.  That's okay because I know that I'm right.  My choices are all quality films.  For more information about each film in my list you can click on the title.

My Top Ten


Fellini's Roma (1972)--There is so much to this film and I find it to be a visual delight as well as an interesting social and historical commentary.   Since there is not much in the way of story or strict continuity to this film, I can watch it all in one sitting or just specific parts and always enjoy it.

Apocalypse Now (1979) --Not necessarily the best war movie ever made, but probably the best war allegory.   Those who dismiss the film as being "unrealistic" are missing the point I think.

The Wizard of Oz  (1939)--I've been enjoying this since I was a kid.  Some things never get old.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)--This is one of the eeriest scariest films I've seen.  A masterpiece of film making minimalism.   George Romero proved that you don't need a massive budget, big stars, and extreme effects to create a film with lasting impact.



Kiss Me Deadly (1955)--One of the best film noir films ever.  I've gotta have at least one film noir on this list and I can't think of one I like much more than this one.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)--A wonderful surrealistic western with so much going on that it seems like three movies.   I guess that's why it has three titles.



Mulholland Drive  (2001)--It's weird and I like weird.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)--An interesting film that might be more relevant now than when it was released.  One of those what-if films that might make you think a bit.  Also, more evidence that big effects and CGI don't necessarily make a great film.  A good film maker can do a lot with a small budget.

On the Beach (1959)--This one scared me when I was a kid, but also fascinated me to the extent that I never forgot it.  Now that I have the DVD I watch this at least once a year.  An outstanding film that has a lot of impact.  I get chills whenever I even just think of the closing scene of this film.


Intolerance (1916)--For a film made nearly 100 years ago this is pretty darn amazing.  I'll put this up against just about any film made in the past 10 or 20 years.  Yes, it's silent so that will be a turn off for a good many people.  Those with the patience and aesthetic appreciation of great film art will be rewarded by managing to hang in for over three hours to see this film through to its conclusion.





Next Fifteen 
(most of these could easily be fitted into my top 10)


8 1/2 (1963)--A great film about writing, film making, relationships, and inspiration.  It has all the elements that most modern movie goers hate--black and white, foreign language with subtitles, little in the way of action, puzzling story line at times, and so on.  This film stirs my emotions.  It does require some intellectual investment for those who are willing to spare the time and effort.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)--A favorite since my childhood.  Now I see it in a much different more spiritual way and like it even better as an adult.  Yeah, black and white, low budget, limited special effects--modern audiences might want more, but for me this film is just about perfect as it is.

Evita (1996)--I am a big fan of musicals.  I enjoy the music in this one and I thought Madonna did an excellent job in the lead role.  It's a gorgeous cinematic experience.

Ed Wood (1994)--Fun and optimistic.  When you think of it, director Tim Burton achieved a rather incredible feat with this film:  He made us love and admire one of filmdom's greatest losers.



Dames (1934)--Since I tend to watch Busby Berkeley films repeatedly, I have to include one on my list and this is among his best. 

North By Northwest (1959)--A film by Hitchcock has to be on my list.  This one is among my favorites.

The Gay Divorcee (1934)--Fred Astaire is one of my all time favorites so it stands to reason that one of his films has to be on my list.  This film is a lot of fun.   "The Continental" dance number is a tour-de-force that makes this film of special appeal to me.

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)--W.C. Fields was one of comedy's geniuses and this film is proof of that.  This movie is as outlandish as they come as well as being surrealistically absurd.  Watching this film makes me think that this is where Fellini must have gotten inspiration for some of his films.  The car chase near the end is madcap fun.



Gladiator  (2000)--Epic film making in the 21st century.   Rousing entertainment in the old fashioned tradition.

The Ten Commandments   (1956)--I love the Biblical epic films, especially those of the 1950's. This is one of the best of them.

The Matrix Trilogy  (1999 & 2003)--Thoughtful science fiction.   Always worth revisiting for me.

Knowing (2009)--This one's a real guilty pleasure for me.  I'm a Nick Cage fan and I'm fascinated by apocalyptic films. This is among my favorites in the genre.  Besides my 2009 review on Amazon for this film spawned a conversation thread that has continued for six years now.


Mad Max Trilogy (1979, 1981, 1985)--The newest "Mad Max" movie was a disappointment for me.  It just goes to show that excess in film making does not necessarily make for better films.  The original trilogy is the best.  Filled with action, but allowing for decent character development and good story telling, these are films I watch with more frequency that the average film I've seen.



Pulp Fiction (1994)--Inspired in part by the film Kiss Me Deadly (see my top ten), Pulp Fiction provides a unique story telling film experience.  If it's on TV, I stop to watch.  Otherwise, I've got the DVD and the video so I can watch it whenever I want.

It's a Wonderful Life    (1946) --A Christmas tradition that never fails to bring me a smile and perhaps a tear.  A reaffirmation that even when things seem to be going to the crapper, ultimately life can be wonderful.

       So how about you?  Who would play you in a movie about your life?   Do any of your favorite films agree with those on my list?   Is there any such thing as a Federico Fellini fan in this blogging crowd?