Tag Archives: movies

The Lists: Great Football Books XLV

No, it’s not my 45th post about great football books, but it is Super Bowl Sunday, America’s biggest secular holiday (that’s right – bigger than St. Valentine’s Day), so we’re numbering it this way. The blog may be for you, but it’s by me.

The Best Game Ever

I'd have to agree!

This is a personal list – not a ranking – and is for suggested reading purposes only. Obviously, I have not restricted the list to books about professional football.

The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL
Mark Bowden, best known for Black Hawk Down, not only tells the story of the game itself, which was the first of 2 consecutive NFL championships won by the John Unitas-led Baltimore Colts, but describes the state of the league and of television. I thoroughly enjoyed the way he used the life arc of Colts end Raymond Berry to show the kind of hard work it took to become the best in the league.

— One Step at a Time : A Young Marine’s Story of Courage, Hope and a New Life in the NFL
Josh Bliell, today the community spokesman for the Indianapolis Colts, tells his own story (with Mark Tabb) of the devastating day in October of 2006 when his Humvee was blown up by an improvised explosive device, resulting in the loss of both legs, the choice he made to describe that trauma as “one bad day,” and how that mindset provided him an entree to a career in the NFL. He’ll be in Harrison County next month telling his inspiring story, too.

— Where Dreams Die Hard : A Small American Town and Its Six-Man Football Team
Carlton Stowers reports on how high school football in Penelope, Texas (Pop. 211) serves as a force to unite a community in myriad ways.

I Dream in Blue: Life, Death, and the New York Giants
Roger Director, a television producer, chronicles the 2006-2007 season of the New York Giants, surprise winners of the Super Bowl that year.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
Michael Lewis scored with this story of how football has changed, including Michael Oher’s progression from neglected child of a crack addict to coveted college football recruit. Oher is now a valued pro tackle with the Baltimore Ravens. You may recall the movie of the same name, which earned Sandra Bullock the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy, Oher’s adoptive mother.

The Maisel Report: College Football’s Most Overrated & Underrated
Ivan Maisel, college football columnist for ESPN.com, offers up hours of fodder for bar bets and debates with this fun list of which teams, coaches, and traditions are overrated and underrated.

Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder
Herschel Walker, the greatest college running back this writer has ever seen, comes clean about the mental health problems that plagued his life, including multiple personality disorder. It’s packed with football stories, but illuminates a celebrity’s life with honesty and hope.

This Easter Egg from NPR.org leads you on to a fun site, but read the coverage first.

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Friday Fun Links: Comics Code is No More; Indie Vitality, and more

Link to Archie Comics

The Comics Code, which had been in existence since the 1950s, has dissolved. Out of fear of government regulation prompted by hysterical claims that the violence in comics was creating a generation of juvenile delinquents, the major publishers pledged to follow a self-censoring code of publication.

As one of those exposed to comic books post-code, all I can say is “no, thank you.” I do not believe in censorship and particularly when it is irrational. Next Wednesday, we have an expert in the field of censorship and First Amendment law coming to speak at Destinations Booksellers. Please join us and the Society of Professional Journalists as we host a Media Law Resources Center Institute presentation by attorney Jon Fleischaker on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. The event is, of course, free.

We had an MLRC program last year that was one of our best ever. I expect this one will surpass that one.


The American Booksellers Association commissioned Civic Economics, an economic analysis and consultancy firm, to examine the health of American metro areas when it comes to independent businesses. The Louisville SMSA, in which New Albany and Floyd County are included, ranked 79th among 363 metropolitan statistical areas, with a measure of 109.6. The number represents the inverse of an area’s saturation with national chains, with 100 being a perfect approximation of chain sales as a norm. Cities with numbers above 100 tend to have more retail sales through independent, non-chain businesses than do cities with numbers above 100. You can read the entire study at www.IndieCityIndex.com.


If the largest democracy in the world, with over 1 billion people, is any guide, the future of the book is assured. John Makinson, world head of the Penguin Group, attending the Jaipur Literary Festival, says the book matters more in India than anywhere else they publish them.

“In India books define and create the social conversation,” Makinson said. “In China, the books that sell well are self-improvement titles. Popular books in India are of explanations, explaining the world. The inquisitive nature of India is unique.” — Reuters


If, on the other hand, you’re crestfallen at the end of the physical book, Flavorwire offers some clever recycled uses for books. Oh, and please let me know if you see a Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Terminator heading our way, would you?


Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator

They're coming for you!


Emma Watson (Hermione in the Harry Potter films) and Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) are in talks to co-star in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on Stephen Chbosky’s novel. Chbosky will direct his own script, with Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith producing, Variety reports.

And one more movie tidbit … the first movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is slated for release in March of … 2012.


Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Ohio's Daughters of King Lear?

I can’t read ’em all, but that won’t stop you from finding out about The Weird Sisters, a quirky new novel from Eleanor Brown, via Putnam. I was impressed. Here’s a review from Shelf Awareness.


Have you run across a Web link that ought to be shared with others? Drop us a line by e-mail or in the comments below and we’ll consider it for our Friday Fun Links feature.

Coming tomorrow: A brief discussion and then a link to the Website of an author we’d love to have come for a visit. If you have the chance, leave a comment there and tell them you found it via NewAlbanyBooks.

Sunday, it’s “The Lists,” and Monday I’ll reveal my Best of 2010 lists for fiction and nonfiction just before I head over to the studios of WFPL to discuss Books That Changed Our Lives. Join me, Robin Fisher, and host Julie Kredens live at 1 p.m. for State of Affairs and weigh in with your own choices. Or, listen to the show in rebroadcast at 9 p.m. Monday or later as a podcast.


You probably know by now that we’ve posted every day in 2011. One of the archived posts you would have missed is a write-up of Three Seconds, a Swedish novel that’s a cleverly written noir that compares well with anything you’ve read in the thriller/mystery genre. Read the post from early January here.

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This Just In: Salinger – A Life; 12 Steps to Compassion; The Tourist; and a Preview of a February Release

Just as I would do if you were standing here helping me open the boxes, in “This Just In” I want to share my enthusiasm or curiosity about books that are just coming into the store, usually this very day, but not always. Today I have 3 books: a biography of J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye); a prescriptive book from the leading popular writer on faith, Karen Armstrong; and a hot novel just coming out in paperback.

At the end, I’ll share with you an upcoming book that’s drawing a lot of notice. It, too, is coming out in quality paperback, a perfect book for book clubs to consider in 2011.


J D Salinger: A LifeJ.D. Salinger poured forth with a handful of novels in the mid-20th Century, then never submitted another book for publication. Catcher in the Rye is deservedly placed in the canon of the era, but once Salinger withdrew from the public eye, he guarded his privacy like a terrier. Kenneth Slawenski offers the first definitive biography of the writer since his death in 2010 and reviewers are calling it “superb” and “first-rate” and it apparently is filled with new information. The traumas Salinger endured during combat in World War II draw special attention as influences on his work.

Insights fill every page. Did you know Salinger was friends with Judge Learned Hand, a stalwart of individual liberties and freedom of speech? He was often called the “tenth justice” of the Supreme Court. Hand and Salinger, we’re told, shared personal traits that bonded them together. “Both were intensely fascinated by religion and enjoyed conversations on spiritual topics that often consumed hours.”


Twelve Steps to a Compassionate LifeSpeaking of spirituality, my patrons are clamoring for Karen Armstrong’s latest book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Armstrong was the winner of the 2008 TED prize and she used the cash to establish the Charter for Compassion. In this book, she makes a naked plea that we all take the time for inner reflection and offers us tools to develop a keener sense of compassion within us.

“The religions,” she says, “which should be making a major contribution to one of the chief tasks of our generation — which is to build a global community, where people of all opinions and all ethnicities can live together in harmony — are seen as part of the problem, not as part of the solution.”


The TouristThere’s one movie out right now called The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, which is intended to be comical. It appears that George Clooney is the cinematic force behind bringing a completely different book to the screen. It is The Tourist, by Olen Steinhauer, now out in paperback carrying the label of New York Times Bestseller.

Steinhauer, known for his 5 Cold War novels, beginning with Bridge of Sighs, has left the brinksmanship hugger-mugger behind to tell the story of an operative whose mission is no more.

The title character is Milo Weaver, a professional “tourist” in the employ of the CIA. He’s not forced to retire, but he is recalled to desk duty. When a long-sought assassin is arrested, Milo is forced to return to the undercover world to uncover some unpopular truths.


Next month, Simon & Schuster will release The Postmistress, a period novel that’s sure to strike a tone with fans of The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Kathryn Stockett

The PostmistressIn 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn’t deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can’t touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better…

The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds—one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve—and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history’s tide, it examines how stories are told, and how the fact of war is borne even through everyday life.


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A Movie the Way a Book Should Be Made: True Grit

You probably saw True Grit in theatres back in 1969, or at least on cable during the intervening 40 years. At the time, the aging John Wayne was seeking out roles that he could comfortably occupy, and the film industry awarded him with his only Oscar® during the 1970 awards ceremony. But in 1968, Charles Portis provided the skeleton for that film with his aptly titled novel … yes, you guessed it: True Grit.

True Grit
Charles Portis Rides Again

Wayne’s film is not the equal of the new Coen Brothers iteration of the novel, which hews tightly to the dialogue offered up by Portis. Jeff Bridges (with eyepatch covering the right eye where Wayne covered the left), inhabits the role of U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn. Hailee Steinfeld reprises Kim Darby’s 1969 role of Mattie Ross, and Matt Damon fills in as LeBouef, the Texas Ranger played by Glen Campbell in the first film.

The movie itself has a relaxed intensity. That is, Portis’s intention was to deliver a story about Mattie more than a story about Rooster, and the Coens allow that to come through in the new film without sacrificing Portis’s incisive comic touches. For Rooster Cogburn, very little ruffles him, and this rubs off on the 14-year-old Mattie, too, so that violence and death are not unexpected things for either of them, though Mattie is forced to face a few shocking moments. It is a small story well told.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes for and awards the Golden Globes, do not seem to care for the work of Joel and Ethan Coen, and the 2010 movie received no Golden Globe nominations. That will not be true for the Academy Awards® next month, and maybe Portis will earn some reflected glory in the adapted screenplay category. A nomination seems likely for the movie, the actors, the technical crew, and the writers, and who knows?

May I suggest that you pick up a copy of True Grit whether you’ve seen the movies or not? I recommend it.

True Grit
by Charles Portis
Penguin PB, 1968, reprinted 2010


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Before They Were Movies, Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of our Golden Globes preview (watch Sunday night on NBC). Yesterday, all 4 of the movies we looked at were based on memoirs, biographies, or otherwise true stories. Today’s batch includes 2 books that did not exist until the movie (original screenplays made into book form as shooting scripts), 1 true story, and 1 quirky novel.

Still no love for True Grit by Charles Portis, made into a film by the Coen Brothers.


starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
directed by Christopher Nolan
shooting script by Christopher Nolan

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception. You can read the shooting script, an original by the director.


Kids Are All RightThe Kids Are All Right
starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening
directed by Lisa Cholodenko
shooting script by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg

Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their birth father into their family life in this, a script co-written by the director, available in the store as the shooting script.


The King's SpeechThe King’s Speech
starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
directed by Tom Hooper
book by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi

The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it. The book is based on the journals and diaries of Lionel Logue, the therapist, played by Rush in the film.


Barney's VersionBarney’s Version
starring Paul Giamatti , Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman
directed by Richard J. Lewis
from the book by Mordecai Richler

The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. The book is told in the first person, it gives us the life (and what a life!) of Barney Panofsky–whose trashy TV company, Totally Useless Productions, has made him a small fortune; whose three wives include a martyred feminist icon, a quintessential JCP (Jewish-Canadian Princess), and the incomparable Miriam, the perfect wife, lover, and mother.

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