Sweat Pea’s Desert Island Movies

I wonder what my top 10 movies were when I was nine. More live action I think – I seem to remember Herbie the Love Bug, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, even The Ugly Dachshund. But my favorites were mostly animated movies then, too – Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, The Jungle Book. Sweet Pea is only nine, and she already has a list of Desert Island Movies. I’ll keep watching and see how her list evolves.

Film Director
1 The Nightmare Before Christmas Henry Selick
2 Alice in Wonderland (2010) Tim Burton
3 Wall-E Andrew Stanton
4 Toy Story 3 Lee Unkrich
5 Megamind Tom McGrath
6 Bambi James Algar & Samuel Armstrong
7 Lady and the Tramp Clyde Geronimi
8 Madagascar Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath
9 Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath
10 Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam Paul Hoen

Book Excerpt: White Fang

Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean towards each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness – a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen- hearted Northland Wild.

But there WAS life, abroad in the land and defiant. Down the frozen waterway toiled a string of wolfish dogs. Their bristly fur was rimed with frost. Their breath froze in the air as it left their mouths, spouting forth in spumes of vapour that settled upon the hair of their bodies and formed into crystals of frost. Leather harness was on the dogs, and leather traces attached them to a sled which dragged along behind. The sled was without runners. It was made of stout birch-bark, and its full surface rested on the snow. The front end of the sled was turned up, like a scroll, in order to force down and under the bore of soft snow that surged like a wave before it. On the sled, securely lashed, was a long and narrow oblong box. There were other things on the sled – blankets, an axe, and a coffee-pot and frying-pan; but prominent, occupying most of the space, was the long and narrow oblong box.

In advance of the dogs, on wide snowshoes, toiled a man. At the rear of the sled toiled a second man. On the sled, in the box, lay a third man whose toil was over, – a man whom the Wild had conquered and beaten down until he would never move nor struggle again. It is not the way of the Wild to like movement. Life is an offence to it, for life is movement; and the Wild aims always to destroy movement. It freezes the water to prevent it running to the sea; it drives the sap out of the trees till they are frozen to their mighty hearts; and most ferociously and terribly of all does the Wild harry and crush into submission man – man who is the most restless of life, ever in revolt against the dictum that all movement must in the end come to the cessation of movement.

But at front and rear, unawed and indomitable, toiled the two men who were not yet dead. Their bodies were covered with fur and soft-tanned leather. Eyelashes and cheeks and lips were so coated with the crystals from their frozen breath that their faces were not discernible. This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost. But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.

They travelled on without speech, saving their breath for the work of their bodies. On every side was the silence, pressing upon them with a tangible presence. It affected their minds as the many atmospheres of deep water affect the body of the diver. It crushed them with the weight of unending vastness and unalterable decree. It crushed them into the remotest recesses of their own minds, pressing out of them, like juices from the grape, all the false ardours and exaltations and undue self-values of the human soul, until they perceived themselves finite and small, specks and motes, moving with weak cunning and little wisdom amidst the play and inter-play of the great blind elements and forces.

An hour went by, and a second hour. The pale light of the short sunless day was beginning to fade, when a faint far cry arose on the still air. It soared upward with a swift rush, till it reached its topmost note, where it persisted, palpitant and tense, and then slowly died away. It might have been a lost soul wailing, had it not been invested with a certain sad fierceness and hungry eagerness. The front man turned his head until his eyes met the eyes of the man behind. And then, across the narrow oblong box, each nodded to the other.

A second cry arose, piercing the silence with needle-like shrillness. Both men located the sound. It was to the rear, somewhere in the snow expanse they had just traversed. A third and answering cry arose, also to the rear and to the left of the second cry.

“They’re after us, Bill,” said the man at the front.

His voice sounded hoarse and unreal, and he had spoken with apparent effort.

“Meat is scarce,” answered his comrade. “I ain’t seen a rabbit sign for days.”

Thereafter they spoke no more, though their ears were keen for the hunting-cries that continued to rise behind them.

– White Fang by Jack London

White Fang
is available in print and electronic editions from Amazon.com

That’s Life

It’s life!
Just a joke to those who don’t know.
Just a moving picture show,
Predestined differently by individual forces.
That’s life.

It’s life!
A miraculous mirage always in the distance.
A Fellini film for instance,
Shaped subtly by individual directors.
That’s life.

A magical movie of experience.
A mythical madness of reverence.
A solid something formed by your own hands.
A surreal soundstage where you perform the history of man.
That’s life.

It’s life!
A funny story with a purpose.
A particular impression in a farce,
Quietly collected for better or worse.
That’s life.

Real life – the creation of substance.
Your life – born of floating forms.

A magical movie of experience.
A mythical madness of reverence.
A solid something formed by your own hands.
A surreal soundstage where you perform the history of man.
That’s life.

Exercise in Futility

What did you learn today?
Anything important?
Anything you’ll remember?
Then it wasn’t worth it.
Was it?

What did you do today?
Anything earth shattering?
Anything anybody else will recall?
Then it wasn’t worth it.
Was it?

What you learn and do may not seem too important,
But if you use it when the time comes for important things
Then it was worth it.
Wasn’t it?

© 2011 Wasted Space Publishing

Brittany’s Desert Island Books

I like the mix or old and new in this list. Me, I’m stuck in the past, so maybe I’ll have to try some of the newer ones here.

Title Author
1 All the Pretty Horses Cormac McCarthy
2 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
3 The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
4 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson
5 El Laberinto de la Soledad Octavio Paz
6 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
7 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J.K. Rowling
8 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
9 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
10 The Man of Mode George Etherege

Brittany’s Desert Island Movies

At least I’ve seen all of these films, too, except for Como Ague Para Chocolate. They didn’t make my Desert Island Movies, but I guess if I got stuck on an island with these films I’d be okay with that.

Film Director
1 Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino
2 Kill Bill Volume One Quentin Tarantino
3 The Joy Luck Club Wayne Wang
4 The Shawshank Redemption Frank Darabont
5 Beauty and the Beast Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
6 Como Agua Para Chocolate Alfonso Arau
7 Almost Famous Cameron Crowe
8 Rashomon Akira Kurosawa
9 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence John Ford
10 Dogville Lars von Trier

Brittany’s Desert Island Records

Brittany is still barely in her twenties. It’s great to see what college kids are listening to, and reassuring to me that some of it is actually already in my iTunes. Not sure how much influence her dad has on that, but my guess is a lot (whether Brittany will admit it or not – you know how college kids are).

Album Artist
1 Californication Red Hot Chili Peppers
2 Sleeping With Ghosts Placebo
3 Hybrid Theory Linkin Park
4 Led Zeppelin IV Led Zeppelin
5 Black Holes and Revelations Muse
6 The White Album The Beatles
7 Stadium Arcadium Red Hot Chili Peppers
8 Fallen Evanescence
9 The Greatest Hits (1971-1975) The Eagles
10 Almost Here The Academy Is. . .

Mark’s Top Ten of the Decade

Here is Mark’s top 10 films of the decade with 10 runners-up (cheater). Some of his choices seem perfectly reasonable, and others are completely baffling; pretty much his reaction to my list.

Film Director
1 The Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson
2 The Incredibles Brad Bird
3 The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan
4 United 93 Paul Greengrass
5 Billy Elliot Stephen Daldry
6 Inglourious Basterds Quentin Tarantino
7 Black Hawk Down Ridley Scott
8 The Departed Martin Scorsese
9 Amélie Jean-Pierre Jeunet
10 Speed Racer The Wachowski Brothers

Ten spots are not nearly enough so here are my 10 runners-up:

300 Zack Snyder
Catch Me If You Can Steven Spielberg
The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow
In America Jim Sheridan
In Bruges Martin McDonagh
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Peter Weir
No Country For Old Men The Coen Brothers
Ocean’s Eleven Steven Soderbergh
Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo del Toro
There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson

iPhone Photos

When the only camera you have is your iPhone, still take the picture. You might get lucky. Add a filter or two or not, and voila – iPhone art. Some of these filters were applied right on my phone, some on my computer. They’re all too grainy, but they each have a beauty all their own, too.


That’s enough. An American tragedy happened several days ago, a member of the United States House of Representatives was shot by someone from her district at a political rally. This type of violence against our government is in fact extremely rare. Only 6 members of the United States Congress have been assassinated in the history of our country. The last was Leo Ryan, a California Congressman who was assassinated by followers of the certifiable Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978. That’s over 40 years ago. Sometimes the perpetrators of these murders are politically motivated, like John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Most often, however, they are not, unless you believe Jodie Foster was the political lightning rod that caused John Hinckley, Jr. to shoot Ronald Reagan. The recent attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, a member of the House of Representatives from Arizona, falls into the not politically motivated category.

So, why then are Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, et al. responsible for this heinous act of violence? Apparently it is because they are conservative. Oops, sorry. I mean because their hateful rhetoric incites violence. Guess that means hateful rhetoric doth never pass the lips of liberals. What a crock.

But wait. Now we must control our political discourse through legislation. No more targeting a district in an election, someone could get hurt. Have to regulate the airwaves, someone might say something conservative. Guess it was right to quit calling it the War on Terror. How insightful. Starting to see a pattern here? Liberal politicians and pundits believe disagreement with their world view is hate speech and must not be tolerated. It will cause someone else to shoot another member of Congress. Never mind the facts. Never mind that Jared Loughner was not motivated to shoot Gabrielle Giffords because of something Sarah Palin or Fox News or anyone else conservative or liberal said or posted on their website. Never mind that political violence rarely happens in this country, and that, left alone, the American people will continue to meet and discuss their views with their elected officials at shopping malls and school gymnasiums and town halls across the country.

I’m sorry, it’s enough. Politicians with a D after their name can not be allowed to stifle any opposition to their view, and that’s all their posturing amounts to as they illustrate the narrow-minded, superior attitude that caused such a landslide election last November. Just get back to work. Let the families of the victims grieve. Let America grieve. And if we do not believe what you believe, it does not make us assassins.