Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Publishers Weekly's 'All-Time Bestselling Children's Books' list

(This post was originally meant for yesterday, but unforseen events have caused me to post it late.)

I love reading to my kids and the other day I ran across another interesting list of childrens books – Publishers Weekly’s list of “All-Time Bestselling Children’s Books.”

The list is a ranking of hardcover children’s books that have sold at least 750,000 copies. The figures used were also based only on sales in the US and only includes books published before the close of 2000.

The list originally ran in the Dec. 17, 2001 edition of Publishers Weekly and was composed of 355 books. For the sake of brevity, I give you tonight the first 35 books on the list.

Without further ado, here they are:

1. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
3. Tootle by Gertrude Crampton
4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

6. Pat the Bunny by Golden Books
7. The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn Jackson
8. Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton
9. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
12. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
13. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
14. The Giving Tree
15. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell

16. Hop on Pop
17. Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
18. Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
19. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

21. The Golden Children’s Bible by Golden Books
22. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
23. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
24. Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman
25. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

26. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
27. Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
28. Disney’s the Lion King by Justine Korman
29. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter
30. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

31. Fox in Socks
32. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
33. The Real Mother Goose
34. Go, Dog, Go
35. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Do you recognize any of your favorites from your childhood? Which of these books have you read to your kids? What do you think about them? Which do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

How many high school football stadiums have you visited?

Back in November 2005, two days after the birth of my first child, I went on the road to cover a high school football playoff game in Linden, Ala.

While there, I ran into another reporter/photographer and his “spotter.” These guys were older – in their mid-fifties – and during halftime, we got to talking. Turns out, that even though they worked for a major state newspaper, they’d requested the assignment of covering two small high schools, Frisco City and Linden.

They told me that years ago, they’d set out to try to watch ever high school football team in the state play at least once. They update their list ever couple of years to account for school closings and new schools. The chance to cover Frisco and Linden allowed them to scratch two schools they’d never seen play from their list.

High school football season is now in full swing in Alabama, and I got to thinking about all the high school stadiums that I’ve visited in my decade of covering high school football in Alabama.

Here’s a list of all the high schools that I know I’ve visited to cover games or have visited in the past for other reasons.
1. Gulf Shores High School
2. UMS-Wright in Mobile
3. Fruitdale High School
4. Millry High School
5. Leroy High School
6. Jackson High School
7. Escambia County High School in Atmore
8. Escambia Academy at Canoe
9. Flomaton High School
10. J.U. Blacksher High School at Uriah
11. T.R. Miller High School in Brewton
12. W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton
13. J.F. Shields High School in Beatrice
14. Monroe County High School in Monroeville
15. Frisco City High School
16. Excel High School
17. Hillcrest High School in Evergreen
18. Sparta Academy in Evergreen
19. Red Level High School
20. Andalusia High School
21. Geneva High School
22. Houston Academy in Dothan
23. G.W. Long High School in Skipperville
24. Ariton High School
25. Crenshaw Academy in Luverne
26. Greenville High School
27. Georgiana High School
28. McKenzie High School
29. Chambers Academy in Lafayette
30. Beulah High School in Lee County
31. Notasulga High School
32. Reeltown High School
33. Autauga Academy in Prattville
34. Chilton County High School in Clanton
35. Maplesville High School
36. Francis Marion High School in Marion
37. Keith High School in Orrville
38. A.L. Johnson High School in Thomaston
39. Linden High School
40. Sweet Water High School
41. Thomasville High School
42. Clarke County High School in Grove Hill
43. Coffeeville High School
44. South Choctaw Academy in Toxey
45. Carrollton High School
46. Hale County High School in Moundville
47. Jackson Academy
48. Monroe Academy in Monroeville

In the end, how many high school stadiums have you had a chance to visit? I’m sure that there are other reporters out there with much longer lists. (I’d like to see the lists of veteran sports reporters like Ross Wood at The Clarke County Democrat or Mike Qualls at The Monroe Journal.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

'The Postcard Killers' tops fiction best-seller list

The calendar tells me that it’s Sunday all over again, and that means it’s time for a run down of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List. According to the list, we’ve got two new books at the top of two of the four major best-seller lists.

“The Postcard Killers” by James Patterson and Liza Marklund, pictured at right, replaced "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson as the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction list. Also this week, "The Power" by Rhonda Byrne replaced "Women, Food and God" by Geneen Roth as the top book on the hardcover nonfiction list.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” by Steig Larsson retained the top spot on the mass market paperback list. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert also retained the No. 1 spot on the trade paperbacks best seller list.

There are five books on this week’s hardcover fiction best seller list that weren’t on that list last week. Those books (and their positions on this week’s list) include “The Postcard Killers” by James Patterson and Liza Marklund (1), "The Cobra" by Frederick Forsyth (5), "Three Stations: An Arkady Renko Novel" by Martin Cruz Smith (8), "Last Night at Chateau Moarmont: A Novel" by Lauren Weisberger (10) and "Crossfire" by Dick Francis and Felix Francis (11).

There are three books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best seller list that weren’t on that list last week. Those books are "The Power" by Rhonda Byrne (1), "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne (11) and "Through a Dog's Eyes" by Jennifer Arnold (12).

There are four books on this week’s mass market paperbacks list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Ford County: Stories" by John Grisham (3), "Don't Cry" by Beverly Barton (10), "Dead and Gone" by Charlaine Harris (12) and "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks (14).

Two books that weren’t on the trade paperbacks list last week made the list this week. They are "Ford County: Stories" by John Grisham (5) and "Are You Vodka? It's Me, chelsea" by Chelsea Handler (12).

Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists. As a reminder, I’m posting these lists each Sunday because they, as a whole, represent a great, contemporary recommended reading list. They are initially released each week on Thursday, and if you’re interested in reading them then, visit Publishers Weekly’s Web site at www.publishersweekly.com.

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "The Postcard Killers” by James Patterson and Liza Marklund (Little, Brown)
2. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)
3. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam/Amy Einhorn)
4. "Tough Customer: A Novel: by Sandra Brown (Simon & Schuster)
5. "The Cobra" by Frederick Forsyth (Putnam Adult)
6. "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
7. "The Red Queen: A Novel" by Phillipa Gregory (Touchstone)
8. "Three Stations: An Arkady Renko Novel" by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster)
9. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva (Putnam Adult)
10. "Last Night at Chateau Moarmont: A Novel" by Lauren Weisberger (Atria)
11. "Crossfire" by Dick Francis and Felix Francis (Putnam)
12. "The Vigilantes" by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Putnam)
13. "Veil of Night: A Novel" by Linda Howard (Ballantine)
14. "Private" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown)
15. "Fly Away Home: A Novel" by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "The Power" by Rhonda Byrne (Atria)
2. "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth (Scribner)
3. "Sh t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern (It Books)
4. "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking)
5. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)
6. "The Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingraham (Threshold Editions)
7. "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler (Grand Central Publishing)
8. "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis (Norton)
9. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)
10. "Angelina: An Unathorized Biography" by Andrew Morton (St. Martin's Press)
11. "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne (Atria/Beyond Words)
12. "Through a Dog's Eyes" by Jennifer Arnold (Spiegel & Grau)
13. "Sliding Into Home" by Kendra Wilkinson (Gallery)
14. "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" by Mary Roach (Norton)
15. "The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases" by Mike Capuzzo (Gotham)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
2. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
3. "Ford County: Stories" by John Grisham (Dell)
4. "Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood (Bantam)
5. "The 8th Confession" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)
6. "Nine Dragons" by Michael Connelly (Vision)
7. "Smash Cut: A Novel" by Sandra Brown (Pocket)
8. "World Without End" by Ken Follett (Signet)
9. "Running Scared" by Lisa Jackson (Zebra)
10. "Don't Cry" by Beverly Barton (Zebra)
11. "Water Bound" by Christine Feehan (Jove)
12. "Dead and Gone" by Charlaine Harris (Ace)
13. "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett (Signet)
14. "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)
15. "The Paris Vendetta: A Novel" by Steve Berry (Ballantine)

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)
2. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
4. "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster)
5. "Ford County: Stories" by John Grisham (Dell)
6. "The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel" by Garth Stein (Harper)
7. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (Penguin)
8. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese (Vintage)
9. "Best Friends Forever" by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press)
10. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Pocket)
11. "The Lacuna: A Novel" by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial)
12. "Are You Vodka? It's Me, chelsea" by Chelsea Handler (Gallery)
13. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho (Harper)
14. "My Horizontal Life" by Chelsea Handler (Vintage)
15. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin's Griffin)

In the end, let me know if you’ve had a chance to read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

'Twilight' series makes most challenged books list

My wife and her friends are like a lot of women these days. They're all big fans of the “Twilight” book series by Stephenie Meyer, which I admittedly have never read and don’t know much about, aside from what I’ve seen in the movie adaptations of the books.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “Twilight” series, it’s about vampires in the Pacific Northwest and their interactions and relationships with the good folks that live in that part of the world. By all accounts, these books fall into the category of young adult fiction.

That was why I was more than a little surprised to find that the entire “Twilight” series made the American Library Association’s list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2009.

Below you’ll find the complete list, and folks from the Monroeville area may be a little steamed to learn that Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” was No. 4 on the list. After the title and author of each book are the reasons cited for the challenges in parentheses.

1. “ttyl,” “ttfn,” “l8r, g8r” (series) by Lauren Myracle (Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs)

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (Homosexuality)

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky (Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide)

4. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper (Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)

5. “Twilight” (series) by Stephenie Meyer (Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group)

6. “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger (Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)

7. “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult (Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence)

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler (Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)

9. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker (Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)

10. “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier (Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)

In the end, how many of these books have you read? What did you think about them? Were you offended by them? Which would you recommend to a friend? Let us know in the comments section below.

'Apt Pupil' is one of King's best

I scratched another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Film off my list yesterday, and this time around, it was the 1998 winner, “Apt Pupil.”

This movie was released in October 1998 and stars Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, David Schwimmer and Elias Koteas.

For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, it’s about a teenage boy who’s obsessed with Nazis and the Holocaust. He pours over books about these subjects and spends hours studying old World War II photos. One day, while riding the bus, he recognizes a 75-year-old former Nazi who’s been on the run since the end of the war. The boy begins to blackmail the old man in hopes of learning from a first hand source all he can about the Nazis and their death camps. However, it doesn’t take long for the wily old SS officer to turn the tables on the boy, and that’s when things get interesting.

One interesting bit of trivia about this movie is that it is based on a long short story written by Stephen King. It originally appeared in “Different Seasons,” a book of short stories that also included “The Body” and “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” Both of those stories were also turned into movies, “Stand by Me” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” respectively. The only story in the book not to have been made into a movie, so far, is “The Breathing Method.”

King is not only known for his awesome stories, but he’s also known for making cameos in the film adaptations of his books. “Apt Pupil” is no exception, and if you look closely, you can see him at the graduation ceremony at the end of the movie.

For those of you who have read the book and seen the movie, you probably noticed a number of key differences between the two. The novel is set in 1974, and the movie is set in 1984. Also, the endings of both are very different, but I won’t go into that here for fear of spoiling the ending for anyone out there who’s never read or seen the book or movie.

In the end, it was fun re-watching “Apt Pupil” and from here, it’s on to the 1999 winner, “The Sixth Sense.” Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this movie stars Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment. Many of you will likely remember it for having one of the greatest all time twist endings.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Close, but no cigar for 'The Road' movie

There are only two books that I regret having read – “The Future of an Illusion” by Sigmund Freud and “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.

This isn’t because either one of these books is bad or poorly written. It’s because they are two of the most powerful books I’ve ever read, and I know that they forever changed my outlook on life and not necessarily in a positive way.

Today, I'm writing about the 2009 film adaptation of “The Road,” which I finally got around to watching a few days ago. I read the novel, which won a Pulitzer Prize, over a year ago, and I just knew deep down that there was no way that a movie could capture this story. I was actually so affected by the novel, that about five minutes into the movie, I almost turned it off out of want not to revive the feelings the novel gave me.

While I feel that the movie does come up short of the novel, it was closer than I expected. They hit all the high points, but still come up short of the novel’s overall tone and effect.

The movie stars Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duval and Charlize Theron and was released in November 2009.

For those of you who have not seen the movie or read the book, it’s about a father and son who are traveling south through a bleak, cold, post-apocalyptic America after some unnamed cataclysm has struck the world. The sky is perpetually grey. Ash covers everything, and all the plants and animals have died off. The few people who are left have either turned cannibal or are barely surviving by scavenging for food.

On a positive note, “The Road” is likely the greatest father-and-son book/movie ever written/made. I figure that those of us with children can’t help but put ourselves in the place of the story’s characters and ask yourself, “What would I do?” Doing so makes reading the novel and watching this movie an all the more personal experience. Both will definitely move you out of your mental comfort zone, and if you’re reading this, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My pick of the week is 'The Last Exorcism'

It’s Wednesday, so today I give you my weekly list of movies that will open in theatres this week as well as my list of movies that will be released on DVD.

I hope this will serve as a useful guide as to what’s going this week if you happen to be near a movie theatre or if you’re looking for something to drop into your NetFlix queue.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this Friday include:
- The Last Exorcism (PG-13)
- Takers (PG-13): Matt Dillon
- Centurion (R)
- Mesrine: Killer Instinct (R)
- Change of Plans (Not Rated)

New DVD releases for the week of August 24 include:
- George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead (R)
- The Square (R)
- Dorian Gray (R): Colin Firth, Ben Barnes
- $5 a Day (PG-13): Christopher Walken, Sharon Stone
- City Island (PG-13): Andy Garcia, Alan Arkin
- The Back-Up Plan (PG-13): Jennifer Lopez
- The Bad Mother’s Handbook (Not Yet Rated): Catherine Tate

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “The Last Exorcism,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead.”

In the end, let us know if you get a chance to watch any of the new movies in theatres this week or if you’ve already seen any of the movies that have just been released on DVD. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

World Fantasy Awards nominees announced today

I learned on Reader’s Almanac earlier today that the World Fantasy Awards nominees for works published in 2009 have been announced. The winners will be announced Oct. 28-31 during this year's World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio.

The World Fantasy Awards, an example of which is pictured at right, are given annually to authors and artists that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy. The overall winners are selected by a panel of judges, which changes every year.

This year’s nominees for Best Novel are as follows:

- Blood of Ambrose by James Enge (Pyr)

- The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)

- The City & The City by China Miéville (Macmillan UK/ Del Rey)

- Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Underland)

- In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield (Jonathan Cape UK/Del Rey).

Awards are also given each year in the categories of best novella, best short story, best anthology, best collection, best artist, and special award-professional and special award–non-professional. To see the nominees in each of these categories, visit http://www.locusmag.com/News/2010/08/2009-world-fantasy-awards-nominees/.

The World Fantasy Awards were first given in 1975, and the award statue itself is a bust of H.P. Lovecraft, in honor of his prolific work and contributions to the world of fantasy.

Before I cut out of here for tonight, here’s a complete list of all the novels that have won the World Fantasy Award:

1975 – The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
1976 – Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson
1977 – Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle
1978 – Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
1979 – Gloriana by Michael Moorcock
1980 – Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn

1981 – The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
1982 – Little, Big by John Crowley
1983 – Nifft the Lean by Michael Shea
1984 – The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford
1985 – Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock and Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

1986 – Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
1987 – Perfume by Patrick Susking
1988 – Replay by Ken Grimwood
1989 – Koko by Peter Straub
1990 – Lyonesse: Madouc by Jack Vance

1991 – Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow and Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
1992 – Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon
1993 – Last Call by Tim Powers
1994 – Glimpses by Lewis Shiner
1995 – Towing Jehovah by James Morrow

1996 – The Prestige by Christopher Priest
1997 – Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack
1998 – The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford
1999 – The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdich
2000 – Thraxas by Martin Scott

2001 – Declare by Tim Powers and Galveston by Sean Stewart
2002 – The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin
2003 – The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce and Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
2004 – Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
2005 – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

2006 – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
2007 – Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe
2008 – Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
2009 – The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

In the end, how many of these books have you had a chance to read? What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy birthday, Richard DeMille...

I saw on Writer’s Almanac earlier today that Nelson Richard DeMille, pictured at right, was born on this day in 1943.

DeMille, a novelist who writes his first drafts by hand on legal pads using a pencil, is most famous for his books “Word of Honor,” The Charm School,” The Gold Coast,” and “Night Fall.” Many of you will be familiar with his book “The General’s Daughter,” which was turned into a major motion picture that starred John Travolta.

I’ve never read any of DeMille’s books, but I’ve always wanted to. Tonight, I give you a complete list of his novels, in order of publication.

Here they are:
- The Sniper (1974)
- The Hammer of God (1974)
- The Agent of Death (1975)
- The Smack Man (1975)
- The Cannibal (1975)
- The Night of the Phoenix (1975)
- Hitler's Children: The True Story of Nazi Human Stud Farms (1976) (as Kurt Ladner)
- Killer Sharks: The Real Story (1977) (as Brad Mathews)
- The Quest
- By the Rivers of Babylon (1978)
- Mayday (1979, updated 1998) (with Thomas Block)
- Cathedral (1981)
- The Talbot Odyssey (1984)
- Word of Honor (1985)
- The Charm School (1988)
- The Gold Coast (1990)
- The General's Daughter (1992)
- Spencerville (1994)
- Plum Island (1997)
- "Revenge and Rebellion", in The Plot Thickens, ed. by Mary Higgins Clark (1997)
- The Lion's Game (2000)
- Up Country (2002)
- Night Fall (2004)
- Wild Fire (2006)
- The Gate House (2008)

In the end, how many of these books have you had a chance to read? What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

'Women, Food and God' takes top spot on nonfiction bestseller list

It’s Sunday all over again, and according to this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List, we’ve got one new book at the top of one of the four major best seller lists.

“Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth, pictured at right, replaced "Sh*t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern as the No. 1 book on the hardcover nonfiction list.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson retained the No. 1 spot on the hardcover fiction list. His book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo,” also retained the top spot on the mass market paperback list. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert also retained the No. 1 spot on the trade paperbacks best seller list.

There are five books on this week’s hardcover fiction best seller list that weren’t on that list last week. Those books (and their positions on this week’s list) include "Tough Customer: A Novel: by Sandra Brown (2), "Veil of Night: A Novel" by Linda Howard (5), "The Vigilantes" by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (7), "Cure" by Robin Cook (13), "Death on the D-List" by Nancy Grace (14) and "The Glass Rainbow: A Dave Robicheaux Novel" by James Lee Burke (15).

There are four books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best seller list that weren’t on that list last week. Those books include "Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers" by Stan Slap (3), "It's Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life by Turning Colleagues and Contacts in Lasting, Genuine Relationships" by Tommy Spaulding (4), "The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases" by Mike Capuzzo (14) and "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" by Elizabeth Gilbert (15).

There are three books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best seller list that weren’t on that list last week. Those books are "Fantasy in Death" by J.D. Robb (9), "Running Scared" by Lisa Jackson (11) and "Orchard Valley Brides" by Debbie Macomber (13).

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is No. 15 on this week’s trade paperback best seller list, and it’s the only book that wasn’t on that list last week.
Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists. As a reminder, I’m posting these lists each Sunday because they, as a whole, represent a great, contemporary recommended reading list. They are initially released each week on Thursday, and if you’re interested in reading them then, visit Publishers Weekly’s Web site at www.publishersweekly.com.

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
2. "Tough Customer: A Novel: by Sandra Brown
3. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
4. "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen
5. "Veil of Night: A Novel" by Linda Howard
6. "The Red Queen: A Novel" by Phillipa Gregory
7. "The Vigilantes" by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
8. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva
9. "Private" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
10. "Fly Away Home: A Novel" by Jennifer Weiner
11. "The Search" by Nora Roberts
12. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich
13. "Cure" by Robin Cook
14. "Death on the D-List" by Nancy Grace
15. "The Glass Rainbow: A Dave Robicheaux Novel" by James Lee Burke

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Women, Food and God" by Geneen Roth
2. "Sh t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern
3. "Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers" by Stan Slap
4. "It's Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life by Turning Colleagues and Contacts in Lasting, Genuine Relationships" by Tommy Spaulding
5. "The Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingraham
6. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne
7. "Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang" by Chelsea Handler
8. "The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Bu78ilding People & Teams That Win Consistently" by Tony Dungy
9. "Angelina: An Unathorized Biography" by Andrew Morton
10. "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis
11. "Sliding Into Home" by Kendra Wilkinson
12. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell
13. "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" by Mary Roach
14. "The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases" by Mike Capuzzo
15. "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" by Elizabeth Gilbert

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
2. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson
3. "Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood
4. "Water Bound" by Christine Feehan
5. "Smash Cut: A Novel" by Sandra Brown
6. "The 8th Confession" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
7. "Nine Dragons" by Michael Connelly
8. "World Without End" by Ken Follett
9. "Fantasy in Death" by J.D. Robb
10. "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks
11. "Running Scared" by Lisa Jackson
12. "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett
13. "Orchard Valley Brides" by Debbie Macomber
14. "Days of Gold: A Novel" by Jude Deveraux
15. "The Paris Vendetta: A Novel" by Steve Berry

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson
4. "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave
5. "Best Friends Forever" by Jennifer Weiner
6. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
7. "The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel" by Garth Stein
8. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
9. "One Day" by David Nicholls
10. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King
11. "The Lacuna: A Novel" by Barbara Kingsolver
12. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay
13. "My Horizontal Life" by Chelsea Handler
14. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho
15. "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini

In the end, let me know if you’ve had a chance to read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sports Illustrated’s 'Greatest Sports Movies'

In the spirit of the upcoming football season, I gave you on Monday the Sports Illustrated list of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, and tonight, I offer you a similar list – Sports Illustrated’s “Greatest Sports Movies.”

Originally published in the Aug. 4, 2003 edition of Sports Illustrated, this is a list of the top 50 sports movies of all time, as selected by the magazine’s editors. How did they pick the list? This into from the original article says it all:

“Our process was democratic and unscientific. We solicited nominations from our staff, then lateraled them back and forth in meetings, in e-mails and around the Goobers dispenser until reaching consensus -- which, naturally, provoked more debate.”

Without further ado, here’s the list. Where possible I’ve attempted to note the year in which the movie came out and the sport that it involves.

1. Bull Durham (1988, baseball)
2. Rocky (1976, boxing)
3. Raging Bull (1980, boxing)
4. Hoop Dreams (1994, basketball)
5. Slap Shot (1977, hockey)
6. Hoosiers (1986, basketball)
7. Olympia (1936, Olympics)
8. Breaking Away (1979, cycling)
9. Chariots of Fire (1981, Olympics)
10. When We Were Kings (1996, boxing)

11. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973, baseball)
12. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001, skating, skateboarding)
13. A League of Their Own (1992, baseball)
14. The Freshman (1925, football)
15. The Endless Summer (1966, surfing)
16. North Dallas Forty (1979, football)
17. Brian’s Song (1971, football)
18. Caddyshack (1980, golf)
19. Downhill Racer (1969, skiing)
20. Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962, boxing)

21. Pumping Iron (1977, bodybuilding)
22. The Set Up (1949, boxing)
23. The Hustler (1961, pool)
24. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993, chess)
25. Horse Feathers (1932, football)
26. The Bad News Bears (1976, baseball)
27. National Velvet (1944, horse racing)
28. Eight Men Out (1988, baseball)
29. Rollerball (1975, fictional sport)
30. The Rookie (2002, baseball)

31. Baseball – A Film by Ken Burns (1994, baseball)
32. Vision Quest (1985, wrestling)
33. Fat City (1972, boxing)
34. Everybody’s All-American (1988, football)
35. Million Dollar Legs (1932, Olympics)
36. Jerry Maguire (1996, mostly football)
37. The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1972, soccer)
38. Field of Dreams (1989, baseball)
39. The Harder They Fall (1956, boxing)
40. The Longest Yard (1974, football)

41. Remember the Titans (2000, football)
42. The Pride of the Yankees (1942, baseball)
43. Fists of Fury (1972, martial arts)
44. The Deadliest Season (1977, hockey)
45. Grand Prix (1966, racing)
46. Any Given Sunday (1999, football)
47. It Happens Every Spring (1949, baseball)
48. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976, baseball)
49. Phar Lap (1983, horse racing)
50. Best in Show (2000, dog shows)

In the end, how many of these movies have you seen? What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Steinbeck's 'The Pearl' is a good, quick read

I recently finished reading John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Pearl,” and I wasn’t disappointed by this outstanding book.

I’ve been a big fan of Steinbeck ever since I read “Of Mice and Men” in high school, and have always felt a small twinge of regret that I’d never taken the time to read “The Pearl.”

“The Pearl,” which was published in 1947, is a quick read. I read the 1972 Bantam Pathfinder edition, and it was only 119 pages long.

For those of you who have never read “The Pearl,” it’s based on a Mexican folktale about a poor family of three that has fabulous wealth fall into their laps. The book’s main character is Kino, a young husband who earns a living as a pearl diver. One day, while out diving with his wife and infant son, Kino finds the mother of all pearls, one so large that he is sure that he’d receive enough money for it to become fabulously wealthy.

Instead of bringing Kino and his family untold wealth, the pearl turns their lives upside down and eventually leads to fear for their lives, attacks in the night, murder, flight from the law and the near destruction of their small family. When it’s all said and done, their lives are ruined by the pearl and they end up much worse off than before their discovery of the pearl.

This is the third or fourth Steinbeck book that I’ve had a chance to read, and they were all very good. Others I would recommend would be “Of Mice and Men,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Winter of Our Discontent.” My dad is a big fan of “East of Eden,” a huge, intimidating book that I own but have yet to tackle.

In the end, how many of you have read “The Pearl” or are fans of Steinbeck? Which of his books have you read? Which are your favorites and which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

John Grisham meets 'Rosemary's Baby' comes off the Saturn Awards list

I removed another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Movie off my list yesterday, and this time it was 1997 winner, “The Devil’s Advocate.”

Many of you will likely remember this horror movie, which starred Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron.

For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, which was released in October 1997, it’s about an ambitious Florida defense attorney, who’s recruited to work for a big time law firm in New York City. The lawyer, Kevin Lomax (played by Reeves), takes the job and his life slowly falls apart despite his swanky new Manhattan apartment and fat paycheck.

In the end, he discovers that something’s not quite right about the firm and eventually learns that it’s actually being run by the devil himself. Think John Grisham meets “Rosemary’s Baby.”

I didn’t realize that this movie was based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman, who became the ghost writer for V.C. Andrews after her death in 1986. In all, Neiderman has written 42 novels, a few of which have been made into movies.

In the end, I enjoyed rewatching this 1997 classic and moving forward in my quest to watch all of the Saturn Award winners for Best Horror Movie. From here, it’s on to the 1998 winner, “Apt Pupil,” which is based on the short story by the same name written by Stephen King.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My pick of the week is 'Piranha 3D'

It’s Wednesday, so today I give you my weekly list of movies that will open in theatres this week as well as my list of movies that will be released on DVD. I hope this will serve as a useful guide as to what’s going this week if you happen to be near a movie theatre or if you’re looking for something to drop into your NetFlix queue.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this Friday include:
- Piranha 3D (R): Elisabeth Shue, Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames and Jerry O’Connell.
- The Switch (PG-13): Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis.
- Nanny McPhee Returns (PG): Emma Thompson.
- Lottery Ticket (PG-13): Ice Cube.
- The Tillman Story(R): Josh Brolin.

New DVD releases for the week of August 17 include:
- The Last Song (PG): Miley Cyrus.
- Furry Vengeance (PG): Brendan Fraser and Brooke Shields.
- City of Your Final Destination (PG-13): Anthony Hopkins.
- Cemetery Junction (R)
In the end, let us know if you get a chance to watch any of the new movies in theatres this week or if you’ve already seen any of the movies that have just been released on DVD. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Please don't kill me, Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!

Yesterday I scratched another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Film off my list of movies to watch when I rewatched one of my all-time favorite movies, the 1996 winner, “Scream.”

Released in December 1996 and directed by Wes Craven, this movie features a number of well-known actors, including David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and Drew Barrymore.

For those of you who’ve never seen the movie, which is actually based on a Florida serial killer, the “Gainesville Ripper, it’s about a masked killer who terrorizes the fictional town of Woodsboro, Calif. The movie includes scores of in-jokes and references to other horror movies and has spawned two sequels as well as a number of “Scary Movie” parodies.

Not only did “Scream” win the 1996 Saturn Award for Best Horror Movie, but it also won Saturn Awards that year for Best Actress (Neve Campbell) and Best Writer (Kevin Williamson). “Scream” also received the Best Movie Award during the 1997 MTV Movie Awards.

Entertainment Weekly also ranked “Scream” No. 32 in its list of 50 Best High School Movies, and Bravo ranked it No. 13 in its list of 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

The movie has achieved permanent pop culture status, and the mask worn by the killer is now a Halloween staple. There are more than a few interesting bits of trivia about the mask used in the movie. According to the Internet Movie Database, the mask is supposedly based on the painting “Scream” by Edvard Munch and director Wes Craven found the mask while scouting out locations in California.

The use of the mask almost actually brought the film to an early end. When executive producer Robert Weinstein saw rough cuts of the first few scenes filmed, he thought the mask was “idiotic.” He supposedly asked the producers to film one scene with seven different masks, so that he could choose the one he liked the most. The other producers bucked at this and threatened to halt the film’s production.

According to the IMDB, they asked Weinstein to wait until the first sequence – the opening 12 minutes starring Drew Barrymore – was finished and then he could make up his mind. It’s said that after he watched that footage that he happily agreed to the mask that was ultimately used and he didn’t say another word about the mask from there on out.

In the end, I enjoyed rewatching this classic horror film, and from here it’s on to the 1997 winner, “The Devil’s Advocate.” Many of you will remember this movie, which starred Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron and Craig T. Nelson.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sports Illustrated's Top 100 Sports Books of All Time

Another football season kicks off this month and with that in mind tonight, I’m posting one of my all-time favorite recommended reading lists - Sports Illustrated's Top 100 Sports Books of All Time.

Sports Illustrated released this list in its Dec. 16, 2002 issue, and I still have the original, dog-eared clipping in my “reading lists” folder in my desk at home. The list was compiled by the magazine’s editors “with love and reason, out of intense and sometimes unruly discussions,” and I’m passing it along to you tonight.

I’ve marked those that I’ve had a chance to read in bold italics. Have you had a chance to read any of them? If so, what did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below. Here’s the list:

1. The Sweet Science by A.J. Liebling
2. The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
3. Ball Four by Jim Bouton
4. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
5. You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner
6. A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein
7. Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins
8. Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback by George Plimpton
9. The Game by Ken Dryden
10. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

11. A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
12. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
13. Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association – As Told by the Players, Coaches and Movers and Shakers Who Made I Happen by Terry Pluto
14. Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris
15. Heaven Is a Playground by Rick Telander
16. Levels of the Game by John McPhee
17. The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
18. The Summer Game by Roger Angell
19. The Long Season by Jim Brosnan
20. Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer by Jerry Kramer

21. Everybody’s All-American by Frank Deford
22. Fat City by Leonard Gardner
23. The City Game: Basketball from the Garden to the Playgrounds by Pete Axthelm
24. The Natural by Bernard Malamud
25. North Dallas Forty by Peter Gent
26. When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss
27. Babe: The Legend Comes to Life by Robert Creamer
28. The Golf Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse
29. About Three Bricks Shy… And the Load Filled Up by Roy Blount Jr.
30. A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley

31. Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer
32. The Game They Played by Stanley Cohen
33. Veeck as in Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck by Bill Veeck
34. Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan and Herbert W. Wind
35. The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrad
36. Beyond a Boundary by C.L.R. James
37. A False Spring by Pat Jordan
38. Life on the Run by Bill Bradley
39. The Red Smith Reader by Red Smith
40. An Outside Chance: Classic and New Essays on Sport by Thomas McGuane

41. The Unforgettable Season by Gordon H. Fleming
42. The Celebrant by Eric Rolfe Greenberg
43. Big Red of Meadow Stable: Secretariat, The Making of a Champion by William Nack
44. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James
45. End Zone by Don Delillo
46. Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story by David Wolf
47. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
48. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
49. Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof
50. Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy by Jules Tygiel

51. Laughing in the Hills by Bill Barich
52. Dollar Sign on the Muscle: The World of Baseball Scouting by Keving Kerrane
53. The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock
54. The Professional by W.C. Heinz
55. The Baseball Encyclopedia: The Complete and Definitive Record of Major League Baseball by Macmillan Publishing
56. A Savage Business: The Comeback and Comedown of Mike Tyson by Richard Hoffer
57. The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence S. Ritter
58. The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball: An All-Star Lineup Celebrates America’s National Pastime by John Thorn
59. Among the Thugs by Bill Buford
60. Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball by John Helyar

61. The Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh, Prop. By Robert Coover
62. Days of Grace by Arthur Ashe
63. Out of Their League by Dave Meggyesy
64. Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf by John Updike
65. In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle by Madeleine Blais
66. They Call Me Coach by John Wooden with Jack Tobin
67. Cosell by Howard Cosell
68. Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler
69. Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure by Alexander Wolff
70. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey

71. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger
72. Out of the Bunker and Into the Trees by Rex Lardner
73. The Fight by Normal Mailer
74. Only the Ball Was White by Robert W. Peterson
75. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime of Golf by Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake
76. Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George by Joe Jares
77. Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum
78. The Great American Novel by Philip Roth
79. Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano
80. The Story of American Golf: Its Champions and its Championships by Herbert Warren Wind

81. Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating by Christine Brennan
82. Farewell to Sport by Paul Gallico
83. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser
84. Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?: The Improbably Saga of of the New York Met’s First Year By Jimmy Breslin
85. The Complete Book of Running by James F. Fixx
86. The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams
87. Only a Game by Robert Daley
88. The Joy of Sports: Endzones, Bases, Baskets, Balls and the Consecration of the American Spirit by Michael
89. The Lord of the Rings: Power, Money and Drugs in the Modern Olympics by Vyv Simson and Andrew Jennings
90. Road Swing: One Fan’s Journey into the Soul of American Sports by Steve Rushin

91. Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy
92. Game Misconduct by Russ Conway
93. No Cheering in the Press Box by Jerome Holtzman
94. Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports is Crippling Undergraduate Education by Murray Sperber
95. The Harder They Fall by Budd Schulbert
96. The Tumult and the Shouting: My Life in Sport by Grantland Rice
97. SportsWorld: An American Dreamland by Robert Lipsyte
98. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings: A Novel by William Brashler
99. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy by Joe McGinniss
100. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters by Joan Ryan

It’s my understanding that several of these books are no longer in print, so don’t feel too bad if you can’t find some of them on Amazon. You might want to try eBay instead. For more detailed information about these books, read the original Sports Illustrated story at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/si_online/features/2002/top_sports_books/1/.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

'Eat, Pray, Love' bumps off 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Another week has come and gone in the world of books, and according to this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List, we’ve got one new book at the top of one of the four major best-seller lists.

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, pictured at right, replaced “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson as the No. 1 book on the trade paperbacks list.

Larsson’s book, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” retained the No. 1 spots on the hardcover fiction list. The mass market paperback edition of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” also retained the top spot on the mass market paperback list.

"Sh*t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern remained the No. 1 book on the hardcover nonfiction list.
Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists. As a reminder, I’m posting these lists each Sunday because they, as a whole, represent a great, contemporary recommended reading list. They are initially released each week on Thursday, and if you’re interested in reading them then, visit Publishers Weekly’s Web site at www.publishersweekly.com.

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)
2. "The Red Queen: A Novel" by Phillipa Gregory (Touchstone)
3. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam/Amy Einhorn)
4. "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
5. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva (Putnam Adult)
6. "Fly Away Home: A Novel" by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)
7. "Private" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown)
8. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)
9. "The Search" by Nora Roberts (Putnam)
10. "Death's Excellent Vacation" by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner (Ace)
11. "Hangman: A Decker/Lazarus Novel" by Faye Kellerman (Morrow)
12. "Queen of the Night: A Novel of Suspense" by J.A. Jance (Morrow)
13. "Dead in the Family" by Charlaine Harris (Ace)
14. "Scarlet Nights: An Edilean Novel" by Jude Deveraux (Atria)
15. "Burn: An Anna Pegeon Novel" by Nevada Barr (Minotaur)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Sh t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern (It Books)
2. "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth (Scribner)
3. "Angelina: An Unathorized Biography" by Andrew Morton (St. Martin's Press)
4. "The Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingraham (Threshold Editions)
5. "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler (Grand Central Publishing)
6. "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis (Norton)
7. "The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Bu78ilding People & Teams That Win Consistently" by Tony Dungy (Tyndale House)
8. "Sliding Into Home" by Kendra Wilkinson (Gallery)
9. "Medium Raw" by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco)
10. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)
11. "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" by Mary Roach (Norton)
12. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)
13. "War" by Sebastian Junger (Twelve)
14. "Coming Back Stronger" by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry (Tyndale)
15. "Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of Modern Woman" by Sam Wasson (Harper)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
2. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
3. "Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood (Bantam)
4. "Water Bound" by Christine Feehan (Jove)
5. "Nine Dragons" by Michael Connelly (Vision)
6. "The 8th Confession" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)
7. "Smash Cut: A Novel" by Sandra Brown (Pocket)
8. "Days of Gold: A Novel" by Jude Deveraux (Pocket Star)
9. "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks (Vision)
10. "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett (Signet)
11. "World Without End" by Ken Follett (Signet)
12. "The Paris Vendetta: A Novel" by Steve Berry (Ballantine)
13. "Eternal Kiss of Darkness" by Jeaniene Frost (Avon)
14. "Infamous" by Suzanne Brockmann (Ballantine)
15. "Chapter and Hearse" by Lorna Barrett (Berkley)

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)
2. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
4. "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster)
5. "One Day" by David Nicholls (Vintage)
6. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Pocket)
7. "Best Friends Forever" by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press)
8. "The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel" by Garth Stein (Harper)
9. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (Penguin)
10. "The Lacuna: A Novel" by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial)
11. "Nauti and Wild" by Lora Leigh and Jaci Burton (Berkley)
12. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese (Vintage)
13. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho (Harper)
14. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin's Griffin)
15. "My Horizontal Life" by Chelsea Handler (Vintage)

In the end, let me know if you’ve had a chance to read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I don't blame Logan. I would have run too!

Earlier today, I finished reading the classic science fiction novel, “Logan’s Run” by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson.

I’ve wanted to read this novel ever since my brother-in-law, Kenny, told me about Logan’s Run-themed birthday parties that he and my sister attended while living in Seattle. At these parties, which were in celebration of the guest of honor’s 30th birthday, those in attendance would watch the 1976 movie based on the 1967 novel.

For those of you who have never read the book or seen the movie, “Logan’s Run” is set in the year 2116, a year in which the world’s population is kept in check by the government, which requires the death of everyone that reaches a particular age. In the book, citizens aren’t allowed to live beyond the age of 21. In the movie, citizens aren’t allowed to live beyond the age of 30.

Both the novel and the movie, which I haven’t seen (yet), follow the story of Logan 3, a Deep Sleep Operative. These operatives, also known as Sandmen, are armed government killers who enforce the societal age limit by tracking down and killing citizens who don’t allow themselves to be willingly executed on their 21st birthdays. Logan ends up being one of these “runners,” and the story follows his exploits as he and a female companion make their way to a nigh-mythical place of escape called Sanctuary.

I’ve always enjoyed novels of this type, that is, that betray a dystopian future. I guess it’s a childhood thing, but when I read or watch something like this, I can’t help but wonder what my hometown is like in the world of the book or movie.

If you’ve never read “Logan’s Run” and enjoy science fiction, then I recommend that you check it out when you get a chance. In the end, let me know if any of you have ever had a chance to read this book? Did you like it? If so, what did you like about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You don't want to mess with no Aztec vampires

I knocked out another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Movie yesterday, and this time it was 1995 winner, “From Dusk till Dawn.” I’d seen the theatrical release of this movie years ago, but it had been a while since I’d seen the film in its entirety.

Directed by Robert Rodriquez, this movie starred a number of big name actors, including George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino (who also wrote the script), Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin and Salma Hayek.

If you’ve never seen this gory vampire movie before, here’s the plot in a nutshell. The Gecko brothers (played by Clooney and Tarantino) rob a bank and kill what sounds like a dump truck full of people in the process. They’ve arranged to escape to Mexico, where they have to meet a gangster and pay a percentage of their robbery take for his protection. They’ve agreed to meet this gangster at dawn at a strip club with the absurd name of “The Titty Twister.” Unbeknownst to the Gecko brothers and their gangster friends, this bar is actually a front used by vampires to lure truckers and bikers in for the kill.

There’s something about this movie that makes it cool, but I have to say that it ranks low on my list of favorite Saturn Award winners because of all the profanity, gore and violence. I’m a “less is more” kind of guy, and this movie is just way over the top in those areas. This movie is definitely not suitable for anyone too young to join the Army.

Before I wrap this thing up, I do want to add that this movie contains one of my all-time favorite horror movie scenes. At the very end of the movie, only Clooney’s character (Seth Gecko) and Juliette Lewis’ character (Kate) have survived the night in the strip club and they both share a moment alone in the sunny parking lot before the end of the movie. Kate offers to go with Seth to the town of El Rey, but Seth turns her down. He gives her some money to help her get back to the States and then they go their separate ways. As they leave, the camera draws back to show that the strip club was actually the very top of a partially buried Aztec or Mayan temple and that there are scores of discarded big rigs and other vehicles scattered down the backside of the temple.

From here, it’s on to the 1996 winner, the iconic horror movie, “Scream.” After “Scream,” I have 13 more movies to go to finish the list. From there, I’ll either tackle the Saturn Award winners for Best Science Fiction Movie or for Best Fantasy Movie. Which do you guys think I should watch first? Let me know in the comments section below.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

'Interview with the Vampire' is a 'masterpiece.' Just ask Anne Rice.

I marked another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Movie off my list yesterday and this time it was 1994 winner, “Interview with the Vampire.”

Based on the 1976 novel by Anne Rice, this movie stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater. I read Rice’s novel several years ago, and it’s one of the best vampire novels I’ve ever read. Rice was so pleased with the movie adaptation of her book that she placed two-page ads in Vanity Fair and The New York Times, calling the movie “a masterpiece.” (Keep in mind that she did write the screenplay.)

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it begins with Pitt in the role of vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac. Louis’s giving a late night interview to a San Francisco reporter, played by Christian Slater, and the main topic of conversation concerns Louis’ life as a vampire.

Way back in 1791, Louis was the master of a plantation outside New Orleans, but became a member of the undead after he was bitten by the vampire, Lestat de Lioncourt, who was played by Tom Cruise. The two roam the night together for some time and eventually are joined by a third vampire, this time a young girl named Claudia, played by Kirsten Dunst.

Claudia and Louis eventually have a bloody split with Lestat, who they leave for dead before departing for Europe in search of answers about vampires and their origins.

This is one of my favorite vampire movies of all time, and it’s one of my favorites because it’s set in large part in New Orleans, a city that I love. The movie’s New Orleans riverfront scenes were shot on a false front built on the levee down the Mississippi River from the French Quarter. The set was built around the old section of Jackson Barracks, which is a Louisiana National Guard post.

Louis’ plantation house is actually the Oak Alley Plantation, which is located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Vacherie, La. If you go there today, you’ll see the home’s guestbook, which is signed by Pitt and Cruise.

Some of you may have also recognized New Orleans Old Coliseum Theatre, where Louis goes to watch the movie, “Tequila Sunrise.” Unfortunately, there theatre’s not there anymore because it burned down in 2006.

In the end, this movie was a lot of fun to rewatch and from here, it’s on to the 1995 Saturn Award winner, “From Dusk till Dawn,” which starred George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If I had to pick just one to watch this week, it'd be 'The Expendables'

It’s Wednesday, so today I give you my weekly list of movies that will open in theatres this week as well as my list of movies that will be released on DVD. This will serve as a useful guide as to what’s going this week if you happen to be near a movie theatre or if you’re looking for something to drop into your NetFlix queue.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this Friday include:
- The Expendables (R): Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li
- Eat, Pray, Love (PG-13): Julia Roberts
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (PG-13)
- Animal Kingdom (R)
- Tales from Earthsea (PG-13): Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe
- Neshoba (Not Yet Rated)
- Peepli Live (Not Rated)

New DVD releases for the week of August 10 include:
- Death at a Funeral (R): Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan
- Harry Brown (R): Michael Caine
- The Joneses (R): David Duchovny, Demi Moore
- Date Night (PG-13): Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg
- Letters to God (PG)
- The Good Heart (R)
- The Diplomat
- Helen (Not Yet Rated): Ashley Judd
- Triage (Not Yet Rated)
- Under the Mountain (Not Yet Rated)


In the end, let us know if you get a chance to watch any of the new movies in theatres this week or if you’ve already seen any of the movies that have just been released on DVD. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

'Army of Darkness' no match for Bruce Campbell

Yesterday, I scratched another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Movie of my list when I watched the 1993 winner, “Army of Darkness.”

Released in February 1993 and directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman, Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3), this horror comedy stars cult movie icon, Bruce Campbell in the lead role of Ash Williams.

“Army of Darkness” is the third movie in the “Evil Dead” series of films, and in this installment, Ash, who works as a clerk at S-Mart, is transported back through time to the Middle Ages, where he must battle an army of the undead to return home to his own time.

There are several interesting bits of trivia about this movie, including a little known cameo appearance by Bridget Fonda as Linda.

Also, during one of the movie’s most memorable scene, Ash must speak a series of magic words before seizing a copy of a book called the Necronomicon, which he must use to travel back to his own time. Even though he makes a mess of saying them, the magic words that Ash is supposed to say is “Clatto Verata Nicto,” which is said to be a reference to “Klaatu, Barada, Nikto,” the words used to control the robot, Gort, in the classic 1951 sci-fi film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

One funny gag in the movie concerns a beat up, 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 car that travels back in time with Ash. The car actually belonged to director Sam Raimi, who included it in a number of his early movies. The contents of the trunk are shown more than a few times, and they were actually what Raimi had in his trunk. An issue of “Fangoria” magazine can be seen in one shot, and in another shot, you can see a copy of “Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special,” which was published in April 1991 and includes the first installment of Frank Miller’s “Sin City.”

In the end, this movie was fun to watch, especially if you know going in that it’s a comedy and not to be taken too seriously. It’s full of a lot of childish gags, so be prepared if you’ve never seen it.

From here, it’s on to the 1994 Saturn Award winner, “The Interview with the Vampire.” Based on the Anne Rice novel, this movie stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater.

Monday, August 9, 2010

'Bram Stoker's Dracula' is 'instant' classic thanks to NetFlix

I scratched another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Movie off my list of movies to watch yesterday, and this time around, it was the 1992 winner, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

I’m sure that I’d seen the theatrical release of this awesome movie before, but, for the sake of this little project, I decided to watch it again. However, I did do something a little different with it this time around. More on that later.

For those of you who haven’t seen this version of Stoker’s classic vampire tale, it was released in November 1992 and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It featured an all-star cast of actors, including Gary Oldman (Dracula), Winona Ryder (Mina Harker), Anthony Hopkins (Professor Abraham Van Helsing) and Keanu Reeves (Jonathan Harker).

Hopkins was fresh off his performance as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” and this was back in the days when Reeves was more well known for his appearance in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” than for his portrayal of Neo in The Matrix trilogy of movies.

Not only did this movie with the 1992 Saturn Award for Best Horror Movie, but it also won three Academy Awards (Best Costume Design, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Makeup).

When I looked this movie up on NetFlix, I noticed that it was available for instant viewing, in other words, with the click of a mouse, I could watch the entire movie instantly on my desktop computer at home. That beat putting it in my queue and waiting several days for it to arrive by mail.

So I figured what the heck and started the movie on my desktop. It took a few minutes for my computer to sync up with the NetFlix movie server, but once the movie got going, it was just like watching it on my television. Four or five times during the first 30 minutes or so, the movie was briefly interrupted because my “internet connection had slowed.” The problem eventually went away, and I don’t remember it happening again after the first half hour of the movie.

The movie did appear overly dark on my desktop screen, but I think that had more to do with the screen than the movie. I tried making every adjustment I could think of, but I could find little to improve this slight problem.

My biggest problem with watching the movie instantly was that it didn’t allow me to turn on the subtitles, like I would normally do with a DVD. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I like watching movies with the English subtitles turned on. For me, it adds another visual element to the movie and I find that I actually get more out of the overall experience by being able to read and hear the dialogue. Again, this was only a slight inconvenience.

In the end, I enjoyed the movie and was more than a little impressed with NetFlix’s instant viewing option. I’ve little doubt that I’ll be watching more movies instantly in the future.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Larsson claims top spot on three best-seller lists

Another week has passed us by in the wide world of books, and according to this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List, we’ve got two new books at the top of the hardcover fiction and hardcover nonfiction best-seller lists.

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson, pictured at right, replaced “The Rembrandt Affair” by Daniel Silva as the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction list. Larsson’s book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” retained the No. 1 spots on the best-seller lists for mass market paperbacks and trade paperbacks.

"Sh t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern replaced “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth as the No. 1 book on the hardcover nonfiction list.

Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists. Let us know if you’ve read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend?

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)
2. "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
3. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva (Putnam Adult)
4. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam/Amy Einhorn)
5. "Fly Away Home: A Novel" by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)
6. "Private" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown)
7. "The Search" by Nora Roberts (Putnam)
8. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)
9. "The Glass Rainbow: A Dave Robicheaux Novel" by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
10. "Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel" by Gary Shteyngart (Random House)
11. "The Overton Window" by Glenn Beck (Threshold Editions)
12. "Queen of the Night: A Novel of Suspense" by J.A. Jance (Morrow)
13. "The Passage" by Justin Cronin (Ballantine)
14. "Star Wars: The Old Repubic: Fatal Alliance" by Sean Williams (Del Rey/LucasBooks)
15. "Waking the Witch" by Kelley Armstrong (Dutton)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Sh t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern (It Books)
2. "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth (Scribner)
3. "The Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingraham (Threshold Editions)
4. "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler (Grand Central Publishing)
5. "Coming Back Stronger" by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry (Tyndale)
6. "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis (Norton)
7. "Medium Raw" by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco)
8. "Sliding into Home" by Kendra Wilkinson (Gallery)
9. "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh (Business Plus)
10. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)
11. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)
12. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot (Crown)
13. "War" by Sebastian Junger (Twelve)
14. "The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements" by Sam Kean (Little, Brown)
15. "Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of Modern Woman" by Sam Wasson (Harper)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
2. "Water Bound" by Christine Feehan (Jove)
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
4. "Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood (Bantam)
5. "Smash Cut: A Novel" by Sandra Brown (Pocket)
6. "Nine Dragons" by Michael Connelly (Vision)
7. "Eternal Kiss of Darkness" by Jeaniene Frost (Avon)
8. "Running Scared" by Lisa Jackson (Zebra)
9. "Fantasy in Death" by J.D. Robb (Berkley)
10. "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks (Vision)
11. "Orchard Valley Brides" by Debbie Macomber (MIRA)
12. "Infamous" by Suzanne Brockmann (Ballantine)
13. "The 8th Confession" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)
14. "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett (Signet)
15. "A Kiss at Midnight" by Eloisa James (Avon)

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
2. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
4. "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster)
5. "One Day" by David Nicholls (Vintage)
6. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Pocket)
7. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (Penguin)
8. "Best Friends Forever" by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press)
9. "The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel" by Garth Stein (Harper)
10. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese (Vintage)
11. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin's Griffin)
12. "My Horizontal Life" by Chelsea Handler (Vintage)
13. "The Lacuna: A Novel" by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial)
14. "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" by Chelsea Handler (Gallery)
15. "Swimsuit" by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wind-powered beer? What will they think of next?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been making my way through this month’s “Beer of the Month Club” selections and during the past few days, I’ve had a chance to sample two new types of beer – Uinta Brewery’s Solstice Kolsch and King’s Peak Porter.

Here’s what this month’s issue of “Beer Expeditions” has to say about Uinta Brewery, which is located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The goal of Uinta Brewing when it was established in 1993 was to produce fresh, full-flavored beers for distribution. Uinta was the first distributing craft brewed brewery in the city, and their brews quickly gained a strong following, as no other brewery was concentrating on supplying the demands of Utah’s many pubs and restaurants. Requests for bottled beer became louder and more frequent, so in 1996 Uinta began bottling its award-winning beers. It became the biggest craft brewery in Utah. Uinta’s flagship Cutthroat Pale Ale is the No. 1 selling craft beer in the state and Uinta is one of the top 50 volume-producing craft breweries in the U.S.

“They moved to a new 26,000 square foot facility in 2001, and each of those square feet is dedicated to reducing negative impact on the environment by using renewable energy. The Brewery is 100 percent wind powered, and they re-use six pack carriers. Spent grain is donated to local ranchers for cattle feed, further reducing waste. This is a sampling of how they protect the environment. Proud of its many mottos, including ‘Keeping Utah the Way We Found It – Except with Beer,’ and ‘Improving Utah’s Environment – Starting with Beer.’ They provide comic relief during a major drought by coining the phrase, ‘Save Water – Drink Beer.’”

The brewery’s King’s Peak Porter is “flavorful and complex. Dark mahogany with a creamy head, it’s rich with dark chocolate, fruit and coffee nuances. It brought home the coveted Gold Medal three years in a row, and is still going strong.”

Porter-style beers were “England’s first national beer, deriving its name from its popularity with street-market porters who drank it for its nourishment. Dark in color and robust, top-fermented porters are excellent with fresh raw oysters, shellfish, Porterhouse steak, chocolate and creamy fruit desserts.”

Uinta’s Solstice Kolsch Style Ale “is a lighter style German ale, with refreshing light, crisp hop character. Its subtle bitterness is invigorating!”

Kolsch style ales are “light, crisp, top-fermented beer that uses a touch of bitterness to attain its spirited flavor. These beers of antiquity are known for the expressiveness and complexity. Enjoy this brew with grilled chicken or your favorite seafood.”

In the end, both of these beers were pretty good, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the King’s Peak Porter.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Outside Magazine's 'Best Watering Holes' List

Outside Magazine is one of my favorite magazines, and the July 2010 issue was its annual “water issue,” that is, dedicated to water activities like scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, etc.

That issue also included a cool list of “watering holes” that was put together by “writers, athletes, friends, spouses and readers.

The opening paragraph for this “best of” list of bars and restaurants summed the whole thing up nicely.

“If experience has taught us one thing, it’s that sun and adventure make you thirsty. But where to ‘rehydrate’? We asked our writers, athletes, friends, spouses and readers – all of whom were quite eager to help us research our first-ever roundup of the best places for people like us to relax and refuel.”

Without further ado, here’s the list:

1. The Alchemist Pub and Brewery (Waterbury, Vermont)
2. The Beachcomber (Wellfeet, Mass.)
3. Brouwer’s Café (Seattle)
4. City View Tavern (Cincinnati)
5. Claim Jumper Saloon (Ennis, Montana)
6. Cowgirl BBQ (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
7. Deep Eddy Cabaret (Austin, Texas)
8. Elbow Inn Bar and Barbecue (Devils Elbow, Missouri)
9. Frog Level Oyster Bar (Apalachicola, Fla.)
10. The Frying Pan (New York City)
11. Grandma’s Saloon and Grill (Duluth, Minnesota)
12. Haleiwa Joe’s (Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii)
13. Fort Seward Lodge & Restaurant (Haines, Alaska)
14. Highlander Steakhouse (Ashford, Wash.)
15. La Kiva Bar (Terlingua, Texas)
16. Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, Oregon)
17. Iron Door Saloon (Groveland, Calif.)
18. Jack of the Wood (Asheville, N.C.)
19. Jerry’s Bait Shop (Lenexa, Kansas)
20. The Lander Bar (Lander, Wyoming)
21. Le Chamois (Olympic Valley, Calif.)
22. Lucky Bar (Washington, D.C.)
23. The Map Room (Chicago)
24. The Minturn Saloon (Minturn, Colorado)
25. Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery (Lyons, Colorado)
26. Pies and Pints (Fayetteville, W.V.)
27. Powerhouse Bike Café (Hailey, Idaho)
28. The Rack BBQ (Carrabassett Valley, Maine)
29. Ray’s Tavern (Green River, Utah)
30. Salty Dawg Saloon (Homer, Alaska)
31. Oak Creek Tavern (Sedona, Ariz.)
32. Schooner Wharf Bar (Key West, Fla.)
33. The Stagecoach (Wilson, Wyoming)
34. Surf Bar (Folly Beach, S.C.)
35. The Terrace at Memorial Union (Madison, Wisc.)
36. Zeitgeist (San Francisco)

The magazine article contains more information about each of these locales, and if you’d like to read the entire article, visit http://outsideonline.com/adventure/travel-ta-wine-beer-and-spirits-portland-seattle-san-francisco-sedona-sidwcmdev_150509.html.

In the end, I’d be interested to know if any of you have ever been to any of these places. If so, what did you think about them? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

'Liquid Sunshine' does not disappoint

On Sunday, I mentioned that I sampled a bottle of Virgin Islands Brand Island Summer Ale, which arrived at my house recently as part of my “Beer of the Month Club” shipment.

This was one of two beers in the shipment that’s produced by Virgin Island St. John Brewers. The other beer is called Virgin Islands Brand Liquid Sunshine Belgian-Style Ale. I sampled a bottle of it today and was not disappointed.

According to this month’s issue of “Beer Expeditions,” Liquid Sunshine “presents refreshing flavors with notes of coriander and orange. You’ll like the smooth wheat mouthfeel.”

As a Belgian-style pale ale, these types of beers don’t “fit neatly into any classic styles, but are in a top-fermented class of their own. They are brewed with herbs and spices, with light to medium body and a wide range of hop and malt levels. Excellent with salads, steamed mussels, light seafoods.”

Virgin Islands St. John Brewers, located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, sounds like an interesting brewery. Here’s what “Beer Expeditions” had to say about this company.

“The Tap Room is St. John Brewery’s island microbrewery, and if you are fortunate enough to visit the Islands, don’t pass up the chance to visit. Located in Cruz Bay on St. John, it is the only craft beer draft bar on St. John or St. Thomas, home to the largest selection of microbrewed beers in the Caribbean. (They also offer their own root and ginger beers, and Green Flash energy drink.)

“So how did it all get started? Two college buddies (one a NASA scientist, the other a physical therapist) quit their jobs, seeking the island life of St. John. Their first few weeks were spent bussing tables and calling an old boat with no electricity ‘home.’ They graduated to being bartenders, and rented a tiny apartment. Then boredom set in – not with island life, but with island beer. Using internet pointers and a $50 beer-making kit, they experimented with a mango pale ale and other brews, still keeping their bartending jobs.

“By 2004, their brews were being noticed, and they knew they were filling a void. The increased demand meant they needed to expand, needing a way to bottle and distribute the beer. (Early brews were housed in hand-sterilized glass water bottles; distribution was via a temperamental old Toyota.) Piece by piece it all fell into place, and today they make killer brews, while maintaining the joy of island life and all it has to offer.”

For more information about St. John Brewers, visit their Web site at www.stjohnbrewers.com.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Will Ferrell movie hits theatres on Friday

It’s Wednesday all over again, so tonight I give you my weekly list of movies that will open in theatres this week as well as my list of movies that will be released on DVD. This will serve as a useful guide as to what’s going this week if you happen to be near a movie theatre or if you’re looking for something to drop into your NetFlix queue.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this Friday include:
- The Other Guys (Not yet rated): Stars Will Ferrell, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton.
- Middle Men (R): Stars Luke Wilson, James Caan and Kelsey Grammer.
- Step Up 3D (PG-13)
- Flipped (PG): Directed by Rob Reiner.
- The Oxford Murders (R): Stars Elijah Wood.
- Twelve (R): Directed by Joel Schumacher and stars Kiefer Sutherland and 50 Cent.
- Cario Time (Not Yet Rated)

New DVD releases for the week of August 3 include:
- Kick-Ass (R): Stars Nicholas Cage.
- Happiness Runs (Not Rated)
- To Save a Life (PG-13)
- The Ghost Writer (PG-13)
- A Prophet (R)
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid (PG)

In the end, let us know if you get a chance to watch any of the new movies in theatres this week or if you’ve already seen any of the movies that have just been released on DVD. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

'Retirement' = blasted with a laser tube

Earlier today, I finished reading a classic science fiction novel that I’ve always wanted to read, but had just never gotten around to, Philip K. Dick’s “Blade Runner,” aka, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

First published in 1968, this book is about Rick Deckard. He’s a former San Francisco police officer, who now works as a Blade Runner, that is, a bounty hunter that “retires” runaway androids.

The novel is set in the year 2021, years after the world has been ravaged by an all-out nuclear war. Many types of animals are extinct, and many humans have already left Earth for colonies on places like Mars and beyond. Off world, humans keep androids as slaves, but every so often, these androids go rouge and find their way back to Earth. That’s when Blade Runners like Deckard are given contracts to seek out and take down these escaped androids.

Many of you will be familiar with this novel because of the 1982 movie, “Blade Runner,” which starred Harrison Ford as Deckard. Ridley Scott directed the movie, which also featured Daryl Hannah. The movie, which was released in June 1982, brought renewed attention to author, Philip K. Dick. Unfortunately, Dick died in March of that year, three months before the movie came out.

“Blade Runner” is often found on many recommended reading lists and “best-of” science fiction lists. As you might imagine, it has received several awards over the years, including a Nebula Award nomination in 1968. In 1998, the novel was voted No. 51 in the Locus Poll Award for best science fiction novel before 1990.

In the end, this novel was a lot of fun to read, and I took more than a little pleasure in scratching it off my list of books that I’ve always wanted to read. Have any of you ever read this book? If so, what did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Would you say that 'TSOTL' is a 'horror' movie?

I scratched another Saturn Award winner for Best Horror Movie off of my list of movies to watch yesterday, and, this time around, it was 1991 winner, “The Silence of the Lambs.”

If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s about FBI agent Clarice Starling, who seeks the aid of confined serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in order to bring another serial killer, “Buffalo Bill,” to justice.

Based on Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel, “TSOTL” is one of the best movies of all time and is one of only three movies to win the top five Oscar awards – best actor, best actress, best director, best picture and best screenplay. (The other two films to pull it off are 1934’s “It Happened One Night” and 1975’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”)

“TSOTL” stars Jodie Foster as Agent Starling and Anthony Hopkins as Lecter. Hopkins, who appears on screen just over 16 minutes, put on such a powerful performance as Lecter that Lecter was chosen No. 1 in the American Film Institution’s list of Top 50 Greatest Film Villains. Starling was chosen No. 6 on the AFI’s list of Top 50 Greatest Film Heroes and was the highest ranked female on the list.

“TSOTL” was also the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar that was widely available on home video at the time of the Oscar ceremony. Prior to “TSOTL,” only two other horror films - 1973’s “The Exorcist” and 1975’s “Jaws” - were ever nominated for a Best Picture Award. As of this writing, “TSOTL” is still the only horror film to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Many of you will recognize the movie’s poster, pictured above. It was voted No. 16 in Premiere magazine’s list of “The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever.”

Released in February 1991, “TSOTL” amassed worldwide revenues of $272,742,922. (Yes, that’s over a quarter of a billion dollars.)

From here, it’s on to 1992 Saturn Award winner, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” which starred Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

'The Rembrandt Affair' moves in to No. 1 spot on best-seller list

Another week has come and gone in the world of books, and according to this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List, a new book has climbed to the top of this week’s hardcover fiction list.

“The Rembrandt Affair” by Daniel Silva replaced “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson as the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction list.

“Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth retained the top spot on the hardcover nonfiction list.

Larsson probably shouldn’t feel too bad about falling to No. 2 on the hardcover fiction list. After all, his book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” retained the No. 1 spots on the best-seller lists for mass market paperbacks and trade paperbacks. His book, “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” is also ranked No. 3 on each of those lists.

Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists. Let us know if you’ve read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend?

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva (Putnam Adult)
2. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)
3. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam/Amy Einhorn)
4. "Fly Away Home: A Novel" by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)
5. "Private" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown)
6. "The Search" by Nora Roberts (Putnam
7. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)
8. "The Glass Rainbow: A Dave Robicheaux Novel" by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
9. "The Overton Window" by Glenn Beck (Threshold Editions)
10. "The Lion" by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central Publishing)
11. "Star Wars: The Old Repubic: Fatal Alliance" by Sean Williams (Del Rey/LucasBooks)
12. "The Passage" by Justin Cronin (Ballantine)
13. "Foreign Influence: A Thriller" by Brad Thor (Atria)
14. "Faithful Place: A Novel" by Tana French (Viking Adult)
15. "Live to Tell: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel" by Lisa Gardner (Bantam)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth (Scribner)
2. "The Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingraham (Threshold Editions)
3. "Sh t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern (It Books)
4. "Coming Back Stronger" by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry (Tyndale)
5. "Medium Raw" by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco)
6. "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis (Norton)
7. "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler (Grand Central Publishing)
8. "Sliding into Home" by Kendra Wilkinson (Gallery)
9. "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh (Business Plus)
10. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)
11. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot (Crown)
12. "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch (Hyperion)
13. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)
14. "In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving" by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins (Holt)
15. "War" by Sebastian Junger (Twelve)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
2. "Nine Dragons" by Michael Connelly (Vision)
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
4. "Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood (Bantam)
5. "Smash Cut: A Novel" by Sandra Brown (Pocket)
6. "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks (Vision)
7. "Knockout" by Catherine Coulter (Jove)
8. "The Defector" by Daniel Silva (Signet)
9. "The Neighbor" by Lisa Gardner (Bantam)
10. "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)
11. "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett (Signet)
12. "Love in the Afternoon" by Lisa Kleypas (St. Martin's)
13. "McKettricks of Texas: Austin" by Linda Lael Miller (HQN)
14. "Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel" by Charlaine Harris (Ace)
15. "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
2. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)
3. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
4. "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster)
5. "One Day" by David Nicholls (Vintage)
6. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Pocket)
7. "Best Friends Forever" by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press)
8. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (Penguin)
9. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese (Vintage)
10. "Swimsuit" by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)
11. "The Lacuna: A Novel" by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial)
12. "The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel" by Garth Stein (Harper)
13. "My Horizontal Life" by Chelsea Handler (Vintage)
14. "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" by Chelsea Handler (Gallery)
15. "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)