media: table of contents
A little disclaimer. There are many links on this page to favorite products, and many of them point to particular Amazon pages. Since I was going to provide such links anyway, I decided to sign up for Amazon's "associates" program, which gives me a small cut for the reference (if someone actually buys as a result of clicking the link!). Well, I do like Amazon, and am happy to send them business, especially if they make it (at least potentially) worth my while. But of course I don't mean to endorse them exclusively. I do not pretend to have searched exhaustively for the best edition or price (though I did try to pick favored editions). You might find better deals elsewhere. Try Froogle, say!
You can see some of the media I'm considering trying on my Amazon wish list. I'm just saying.
booksI only list fiction here. I do read non-fiction, of course, but somehow it seems so tiresome and embarrassing; not quite as telling about one's personality. (Or maybe too telling?)
young adult fictionI've always especially liked quality young adult fiction, such as Newbery Award winners. There's something about getting all the quality and emotional wisdom of a good writer, with the relaxing comfort and ease of books for the younger. Here's some of my favorites; I think I've reread each as an adult and continued to find great value in them.
- I love Lloyd Alexander books, especially his Prydain chronicles, from The Book of Three to The High King.
- I also recently loved Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy; Pullman narrates the dramatized book on cd himself.
- Even though I disagree almost completely with his politics, I think C.S. Lewis is an amazing writer. You gotta love The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Don't forget The Wind in the Willows! Something about those early 20th-century Brits...
- And well, Lewis Carroll is probably a lot of the reason I became a philosopher (I started in logic). Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is the essential of course - and check out Martin Gardner's classic annotated version.
- Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and such of course, but nostalgic and more obscure favorites include Danny, the Champion of the World and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. (Am I the only one who thinks this new Puffin illustrator, Quentin Blake, is a little too cheery for Dahl?) I like his (adult) short stories too - creepy.
- Madeleine L'Engle stands up to re-reading; the series that starts with A Wrinkle in Time of course, but also the Austin family series that ends with the moving A Ring of Endless Light.
- Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea Quartet. Apparently it's hard to find a boxed set now! A real pity. Her science fiction is good, too.
- Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince still seems wise to me.
- Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia.
- E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
- Robert Cormier's books weirded me out and got me thinking as a kid - especially I Am the Cheese.
- Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game.
- I only recently discovered Andrew Lang's delightful Chronicles of Pantouflia. This is the same guy who collected lots of "real" fairy tales, such as in The Blue Fairy Book (and a bunch of other colors!).
- Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted is thoroughly enchanting.
- Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events Series is clever, funny, and it really is kinda ennobling. I've been listening to the dramatizations by Tim Curry, which adds just that extra something only Tim Curry can add.
- Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Sequence.
- T.H. White's The Once and Future King.
- Yes, though not at all underrated, I would mention that I do like
Potter books too.
- The books on cd, read by Jim Dale, are fantastic. (Sometimes it's better to have it read to you!)
- I like to remind the HP skeptics that these books get more interesting to adults as they go; Rowling deliberately geared the first for 11-year-olds, the second for 12-year-olds, and so on.
- Finally, don't get me started on how the first book is properly, in civilized countries, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. This title makes much more sense, since that is the proper name for the thing the book is about - something old alchemists and such actually sought. But naturally putting the word "philosopher" in the title of a popular book is a no-go for Americans! That sounds far too intellectual and thinky!
"grown-up" fictionI guess my tastes tend toward the comic and the "magically real".
- My very favorite, underrated, "grown-up" book - the one I would memorize in Farenheit 451 World - is Denis Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist. So modern! So funny! So appreciative of the importance of story!
- Another great and deeply underrated book is G.V. Desani's All About H. Hatterr. He is one of Rushdie's influences, and I think I like him better.
- Marquez, especially Love in the Time of Cholera.
- Calvino, especially If on a winter's night a traveler.
- Oh, you know, Twain is awesome.
- And Homer's Odyssey. An old, sweet classics prof (Greg Nagy) insists that we're really supposed to like The Iliad better, since the Greeks did. But I can't help it - I like the "resourceful / clever / multi-faceted" (polytropos) Odysseus.
- I read a great deal of science fiction and fantasy when
younger; some I still would endorse today (though my perception is
tainted by nostalgia).
- I especially like the funny stuff. You can't beat The Hitchhiker's Guide 5-book "trilogy". (And don't miss the original BBC radio series - which distressingly I can't find anywhere online - or the amazing Infocom game!)
- Speaking of funny, I've only recently been getting into Terry Pratchett. So far Small Gods is my favorite, maybe just because of his treatment of philosophers.
- Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land practically defines classic science fiction for me.
- Orson Scott Card is pretty great, especially Ender's Game.
- On rereading, Frank Herbert's style in the Dune series isn't that great, but the intricate and detailed world and plots are still amazing. I "only" read as far as God Emperor of Dune (the fourth book), and I probably could have stopped sooner.
- Yes, of course J.R.R. Tolkien.
- Does this fun book count? It sure captured my imagination as a kid!
- Shakespeare, duh. In college I took a lot of off-major classes in reading and acting the guy. And I especially can't help but identify with that 30-year-old, indecisive, ethnically Danish philosophy grad student.
- Mamet, especially Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The Woods, and naturally Glengarry Glen Ross (don't miss the good movie version).
- Pinter, especially Betrayal and The Homecoming.
- Michael Frayn, though I must confess I like the hilarious Noises Off more than the critically acclaimed Copenhagen. (Also, don't miss his Wittgenstein spoof! Those Brits really know their philosophy, somehow.)
- Yeah, Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
- I'm a bit torn on Stoppard - sometimes he seems too clever somehow - but I do like some of the plays in this collection, especially The Real Thing.
- Chekhov, especially the ones that came through Mamet into their final form.
moviesThese aren't really in any order. More and more keep occurring to me.
- The Philadelphia Story, and other George Cukor movies.
- Stanley Kubrick movies, especially the dark comedies like Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Lolita, and A Clockwork Orange.
- The Muppet Movie.
- Frank Capra - especially It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and, what can I say, It's a Wonderful Life.
- Jimmy Stewart reminds me - Harvey.
- Bringing Up Baby is, I think, my favorite Howard Hawks movie.
- Mary Poppins.
- Woody Allen, especially Annie Hall.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
- Chaplin, especially The Gold Rush.
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Burton-Depp version is fine, but my loyalty lies with Gene Wilder).
- Being John Malkovich.
- The Awful Truth (the Cary Grant movie - not the Michael Moore TV series!)
- Older, less heavy-handed Miyazaki movies, like Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) and Majo no Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service).
- The Sting.
- Which reminds me, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
- Predictably, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (the extended versions, of course). I'm so glad the dark Jackson was the one to do this series! I'm also really pleased he gave Ian Holm the role of Bilbo, as a nod to the good BBC Radio Dramatization, where Holm played Frodo.
- Older Terry Gilliam - especially Time Bandits and Brazil.
- Blade Runner (director's cut, naturally!).
- South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
- Fight Club.
- Ordinary People.
- I really liked Garden State.
- And Natalie Portman reminds me, Closer.
- Not only was Serenity as good a closer as one might request for the incredible Firefly TV series, but I also think it stands on its own as a remarkable movie.
- Disney animations: I saw The Little Mermaid something like seven times in the theater. Well, it was a weird time in my life. Other favorite Disney movies include Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Robin Hood.
- The Big Lebowski.
musicI'm proud of my eclectic taste.
Incidentally, I love my mp3 player (no, it's not an iPod; it's much uglier and much cheaper). The many-gig ones really are worth the hype. I can carry much of my music collection - not to mention whole mp3-ripped audio books and Pimsleur language lessons - anywhere I go! Even at home, I hardly ever listen to CD's any more; I just plug my mp3 into the stereo or decent computer speakers, and let it play randomly through songs for me.
- here are my ten tentative desert-island CD's:
- John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.
- The Grateful Dead's Reckoning, or this amazing bootleg, from a show I saw (download it free!). Incidentally the show from the night before was good too - it became this concert dvd.
- Of the Beatles, I think it would have to be Abbey Road.
- Some typical Frank Zappa, maybe Läther or Joe's Garage.
- I'd have to say Radiohead has already earned a spot; probably their Ok Computer.
- Some Kingston Trio CD, maybe the double-CD At Large/Here We Go Again!.
- Some good Bach, probably the Brandenburg Concertos. I'm not a huge classical-music guy, but I do like a fair amount.
- I think I'd have to include a Joni Mitchell CD, probably Blue or Ladies of the Canyon.
- A quirky long-standing favorite is The English Beat's What Is Beat?.
- Hmn, only one left already? I'd love to include some hiphop, but most albums I know are inconsistent - great tunes mixed with the so-so. Maybe the now old Heavy Rhyme Experience, a collaboration between The Brand New Heavies, a 90's acid jazz group, and many good hiphop artists. Or maybe instead Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom? Or the odd and delightful Stay Awake, a collection of Disney covers.
- Some favorite artists, recent and old:
* John Ackermann
* Laurie Anderson
* Louis Armstrong
* J.S. Bach
* Badly Drawn Boy
* The Beatles
* Brand New Heavies
* Bright Eyes
* Marc Broussard
* Greg Brown
* Dana Bryant
* Jeff Buckley
* Cibo Matto
* Citizen Cope
* George Clinton and Parliament
* John Coltrane
* Shawn Colvin
* Elvis Costello
* Jim Croce
* Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
* Miles Davis
* Kimya Dawson
* Etienne de Rocher
* Nick Drake
* Bob Dylan
* English Beat
* Ella Fitzgerald
* The Flaming Lips
* Ben Folds Five
* Garcia & Grisman
* The Grateful Dead
* Imogen Heap
* Jimi Hendrix
* Lauren Hill
* Iron & Wine
* Jack Johnson
* Jethro Tull
* Louis Jordan
* King Crimson
* Led Zeppelin
* Curtis Mayfield
* Charles Mingus
* Joni Mitchell
* Modest Mouse
* Thelonious Monk
* The Monkees
* Randy Newman
* Non Phixion
* Charlie Parker
* Peter, Paul, and Mary
* Pink Floyd
* Pink Martini
* Pizzicato Five
* The Police
* The Polyphonic Spree
* Cole Porter
* Rolling Stones
* The Roots
* Simon and Garfunkel
* Paul Simon
* Sly and the Family Stone
* Elliot Smith
* Soul Coughing
* Regina Spektor
* Devon Sproule
* Sufjan Stevens
* Sun Ra
* Super Furry Animals
* Swamp Thing
* Taj Mahal
* Tenacious D
* Richard Thompson
* Tribe Called Quest
* Violent Femmes
* Tom Waits
* Joe Walsh
* The Who
* David Wilcox
* Yonder Mountain String Band
* Frank Zappa
internetHere are a selected few favorite links:
- Bloglines is in my view the only way to keep track of your RSS feeds across multiple computers. We don't need no stinking newspapers!
- Wikipedia, of course.
- The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- The Kingdom of Loathing is a very funny way to pass time. I like that they limit the amount of time I can waste there per day.
- Pandora can play customized new radio stations for you! This is a great way to learn new music.
- Some webcomics I've recently begun to enjoy:
- My wishlists!
tvDid I fool you by listing this last into thinking that I hardly look at the thing? I don't know why TV gets such a bad rap. Of course there's lots of rotten TV, but there's also lots of rotten books and movies and radio. The medium itself is not to blame; there's some good stuff out there.
I love my TiVo, by the way. Like mp3 players, it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have one why it might be cool to have a DVR. But once you have one, oh man! TV watching is so much more ... efficient!
- Some longtime favorites:
- An old TV show that was (and is) totally obscure, and yet is completely awesome, man, is Jim Henson's short-lived The Storyteller. It stars the venerable and versatile John Hurt as the Storyteller, and it reworks real old gritty European fairytales via Anthony Minghella's remarkable screenwriting flair. If you like Henson, Hurt, or Minghella, you must not miss this! (There are many great cameos by people now more famous, too.)
- I miss Sifl and Olly so much. You might be able to find their Third Season on DVD (MTV never showed this season, and let the creators sell it on DVD, but the distributor screwed them over).
- I also miss Dr. Katz a lot - I've bought the complete DVDs and have been rewatching. The related Soup2Nuts productions, like Home Movies and Hey Monie! are also fantastic.
- The Muppet Show. I seriously think Jim Henson was one of the geniuses of our time.
- Nostalgic DVD releases: The Best of the Best of Electric Company and Schoolhouse Rock!.
- I'm bitter about all those viewers who got Futurama cancelled because it wasn't exactly like The Simpsons. Sure, The Simpsons is great, but I actually think Futurama was better in many ways, especially compared to the later Simpsons. And The Simpsons isn't going to run forever, people! Even if you weren't a big Futurama fan, wouldn't you have rather had some Groening on TV than none?
- Sports Night is very good. I think the title was unfortunate for its target demo - it's not about sports.
- Family Guy is back on the air with new episodes! Miracles can happen! American Dad is plenty good too, I think.
- Rocky & Bullwinkle - classic dry kids' comedy.
- I've loved The Dick Van Dyke Show for as long as I can remember. That was some consistently impressive comedy writing, still funny today - and some great performers, too.
- Speaking of consistently impressive comedy writing, I don't know how those South Park guys do it. I like their movies, too.
- I occasionally go through a phase avidly watching My So-Called Life reruns.
- Of the Star Trek oeuvre, my favorite series is Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
- I thought Wonderfalls was a good show even before I started teaching in the area.
- More recent favorites:
- How I Met Your Mother. It's classic sitcom format, but cleverly written and well-performed.
- A student turned me on to the short-lived but absolutely awesome Firefly series, far too late to join the campaign to save it. I wish I could have helped in time.
- A discovery (for me): So You Think You Can Dance! Holy crap did I enjoy this show this summer! I'm no American Idol fan, but this was just amazing; gave me more shivers per hour than anything I can remember in a long time. I would keep the episodes on TiVo and rewatch them. As a merely added bonus, I think I'm in love with host Cat Deeley. She seems so natural and fun - just adorable.
- Honestly, I like the American casting of The Office at least as much as the British version.
- A recently-discovered guilty pleasure is What I Like About You. It's a light, well-written sitcom from the Friends folks, with a very strong cast. Jennie Garth (yes, of Beverly Hills 90210) has surprisingly good comic instincts. It ran four seasons and is now in syndication.
- I've finally caught on to the Battlestar Galactica re-imaging. It took a number of episodes for me to get into it, but now I'm hooked. As you can imagine, the issues of robot rights are especially interesting to me.
- Yes of course 30 Rock.
- Slings and Arrows is a remarkable Canadian dark comedy about life in the theater.