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« Reply #600 on: May 17, 2012, 06:28:50 AM »

The Fifty Worst Movies of All Time - Harry Medved - One of the pioneering looks at bad cinema, full of amusing trivia and biting sarcasm. Medved's choices are decidedly eclectic, ranging from the obvious (The Conqueror, Robot Monster) to the head-scratching (Alfredo Garcia? Last Year at Marienbad?). It's certainly a fun read though, funny and informative, with plenty of interviews to boot. No book that includes a long chapter on The Trial of Billy Jack can be all bad, save Tom Laughlin's autobiography.

I guess that such a list would actually have to be "the 50 worst movies that some people like" or the "50 worst movies that had big budgets" or something like that. Nobody cares about movies that are so bad that they fall off the map without anyone noticing, it's the big bombs that they care about, right?

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« Reply #601 on: May 17, 2012, 07:02:13 AM »

Robot Monster and Eeegah had big budgets?

Anyway, no. Medved reviews quite a few B-grade turkeys and obscurities alongside the big budget bombs. His chapter on That Hagen Girl (a purportedly wretched Ronald Reagan-Shirley Temple vehicle) details an extensive, nationwide search for any existing prints of the film. He found a single print languishing in a vault at the University of Wisconsin. Apparently Reagan tried to bury the film around the time he first ran for President.

Of course, this book was written before video so it would have been much harder to track such things down unless they played on TV. Apparently the Z grade movies he discusses were on constant late-night rotation back then. Someone a mite older than I am can confirm or deny. I probably wouldn't have seen them if it weren't for MST3K.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2012, 07:07:15 AM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #602 on: May 19, 2012, 07:31:22 AM »

The Hollywood Hall of Shame - Harry and Michael Medved - fascinating book detailing Hollywood's biggest (pre-1985) box office flops, from their ill-gotten conceptions, troubled productions to haphazard releases. The chapters on Heaven's Gate and The Message are especially fascinating.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 07:33:55 AM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #603 on: May 19, 2012, 07:38:59 PM »

Why I Quit Zombie School - R.L. Stine - Longtime Goosebumps fans will find the plot familiar from, oh, any school-set book from earlier serieses. Newbies maybe grossed out by the over-the-top gore and grossness, a bit heavy for a supposed kid's book. Admittedly the later scenes are modestly clever but it's not enough to make up for 130 pages of zombie vomit.

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« Reply #604 on: May 26, 2012, 05:10:48 AM »

The Decline and Fall of the British Empire: 1781-1997 - Piers Brendon - Sprawling look at Brittanic hegemony is entertaining but very flawed. Brendon's scope is limited, focusing mostly on a) the more colorful British imperialists, b) the effect of colonization on the colonized, with little "big picture" discussion. Throughout he prefers interesting anecdote to in-depth analysis, telling a colorful story without a coherent framework or thesis. His inclusion of events is very selective, with long chapters on, say, the Indian Mutiny but nothing about the Anglo-Sikh Wars. This makes comparative analysis of different colonies and policies difficult. Still Brendon's an engaging writer and it's certainly an interesting read, with a variety of vivid incidents and individuals littering the text. He's generally critical of imperialism but not unwilling to acknowledge its achievements, viewing its greatest indictment as the internicine strife Britain left behind almost everywhere. Perhaps not the sum of its parts but a good general history, more readable than Lawrence James' similar tome.

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« Reply #605 on: May 26, 2012, 08:29:28 AM »

"How I helped OJ get away with Murder" by his agent Mike Gilbert.  Gilbert unloads his guilt about impeding justice.

Spoiler: OJ does it.

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« Reply #606 on: May 26, 2012, 08:48:29 AM »

Spoiler: OJ does it.

Damn, you ruined it. Angry

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« Reply #607 on: May 27, 2012, 08:50:38 PM »

Flashman and the Mountain of Light - George Macdonald Fraser - 2nd reading. Eighth Flashman adventure has our wily anti-hero entangled in the Anglo-Sikh Wars. This is easily the dullest Flashman book, a thoroughly rote entry from beginning to end. The locales are familiar (this is Flashy's fourth trip to India), the battle scenes anemic, the characters flat, and even the big erotic set-piece (a jewel-passing orgy) is more strange than sensual. The worst part is that Flashman himself is a passive spectator to most events, resulting in a lot of clinically dry descriptions lacking Fraser's usual flair. Second-worst in the series: Tiger narrowly worsts it through narrative incohesion.

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« Reply #608 on: May 30, 2012, 06:40:25 AM »

Flashman and the Angel of the Lord - George Macdonald Fraser - 2nd reading. After three subpar entries Flashman returns to form in his 10th adventure, another delightfully picaresque romp through antebellum America. The story is absurdly convoluted, with *three* separate conspiracies enlisting Flashman to alternately stop or initiate John Brown's Harper's Ferry raid. Fraser crams the narrative with historical figures (Alan Pinkerton, William Seward) and characters from previous entries (including classics-spouting nemesis John Charity Spring) but his chillingly vivid portrait of John Brown registers strongest. Creaky plot aside, it's fun just to go along for the ride.

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« Reply #609 on: June 01, 2012, 04:02:04 PM »

The October Country - Ray Bradbury - a good collection of short stories. My favorites from this collection are The Scythe and The Small Assassin. Never has a baby seemed scarier.

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« Reply #610 on: June 02, 2012, 03:38:01 PM »

The Crimean War: A History - Orlando Figes - Figes does a better job than any other history I've read in laying out the complicated lead-in to this conflict, and its importance in European history: the war led, directly or indirectly, to the unification of Italy, the eclipse of Austrian power, the rise of German militarism and the rekindling of Islamic extremism within Ottoman Turkey. His use of Russian and Turkish primary sources gives the narrative an added edge and authority over other, generally Anglocentric accounts. Figes' most controversial stance is viewing the Crimea as a religious conflict, though it seems only Russia and France viewed it in these terms. The main deficiency is its near-exclusive focus on the Sevastopol campaign; other recent histories (Ponting, Royle) depict a much broader war. Lacking the narrative punch of Christopher Hibbert or the palpable outrage of Cecil Woodham-Smith, Figes easily bests them as a general history.

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« Reply #611 on: June 03, 2012, 07:09:04 AM »

My local library had a slew of Goosebumps books I never read as a kid. A really nice comedown after the Crimea.

Fright Camp - Every single Goosebumps camp story is essentially the same. This is Welcome to Camp Nightmare without the aliens. Despite the lack of an insultingly stupid twist it's just boring.

Are You Terrified Yet? - A wimpy kid moves to a new school and convinces everyone he's a hero. Certain jerks try to prove he's a loser. It's exactly as exciting and scary as it sounds.

Jekyll and Heidi - Kid moves to live with her scientist uncle. That happens a lot in these books. Uncle may or may not be a mad scientist. About what the title implies, but not bad, with a handful of creepy moments.

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« Reply #612 on: June 05, 2012, 03:05:10 PM »

Guns at the Forks - Walter O'Meara - Highly readable account of the French and Indian War in Western Pennsylvania, especially Fort Duquesne/Pitt. Of interest to me for obvious reasons. 

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« Reply #613 on: June 05, 2012, 05:13:25 PM »

Guns at the Forks - Walter O'Meara - Highly readable account of the French and Indian War in Western Pennsylvania, especially Fort Duquesne/Pitt. Of interest to me for obvious reasons. 

I enjoyed that one too.

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« Reply #614 on: June 06, 2012, 12:18:44 PM »

Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there - Wiseman, Richard

Really interesting book about how and why we are so easily fooled by so-called paranormal events. It even comes with instructions on how to fool your friends, create illusions etc.

« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 12:19:57 PM by Amaze » Logged

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