Charlie Sheen and Other Topics

March 1, 2011

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Charlie Sheen

Yesterday, in the midst of the disaster that his life has become, Charlie Sheen demanded a 50% raise, to $3 million per episode, to continue starring in 2 1/2 Men.  I’ve never been one to begrudge entertainers and athletes their millions, but at some point, the producers have to decided whether it’s worth the headache at this point.    As it stands, the show is in end game, as Angus T. Jones (the kid) isn’t getting any younger – he won’t be half a man for many more years.  Perhaps it’s best to pull up stakes and reap the cash cow that is syndication.

Among the many strange comments Sheen has made during this time is his assertion that producer Chuck Lorre uses that name to hid his Jewish ancentry (his given name is Charles Michael Levine).  Apparently, nobody else in Hollywood uses screen names that mask their ancestry.  Good call, Charlie Sheen (given name Carlos Irwin Estevez).

Fact is, Chuck Lorre was a success before he began working with Charlie Sheen and he’ll continue to be a success after their partnership ends.  Can we can we say the same for Sheen?

(OK, time to catch your breath before the flood of Amazon affiliate links begin …)

The Oscars

I hear that the Academy Awards were held the other night.  I get bored to tears by award shows, so I only caught snippets of the broadcast.  I should probably make an effort to watch The King’s Speech at some point.  It seems like the type of flick I would like, in spite of the paucity of serial killers in the movie.  Another movie I wouldn’t mind seeing is Princess Ka’iulani – has anyone seen it?

Avril Lavigne

I generall y don’t get that excited about cd releases, but I am eagerly anticipating Avril Lavigne’s new disc, Goodbye Lullaby, which is due out on March 8.  Although my music tastes run very heavily toward country (Alabama, in particular), I’m also a fan of good music, regardless of genre, from Tchaikovsky to Jimmy Buffett to Bon Jovi.  Despite not being in her target demographic, I’ve been a fan of Lavigne’s since the first time I heard Sk8ter Boi, nearly a decade ago.

You might also want to check out the new country group The Band Perry.  You can find good prices on their disc everywhere (I paid $7.99 for my copy).  I’m a big fan of the song “If I Die Young.”

On the bookshelf

The time I spend writing means that I generally have limited time to read these days.  I finally finished up Jeffery Deaver’s newest Lincoln Rhyme book,  The Burning Wire.  The book features a villain who uses electricity as his weapon.  The book fell a bit short of expectations, but that’s more because of how high the previous books set the bar than a shortcoming of The Burning Wire.

I finally bit the bullet and bought the late Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, just to see what the fuss was about.  I don’t usually grab the popular books without a good reason, but when Silicon Valley Blogger over at The Digerati Life mentioned the book, I decided it was time to read it, since SVB and I have quite similar interests when it comes to literature and cinema.

I’ve also been attempting to read J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye.  I really wanted to appreciate it as being a seminal American work, but it’s really not grabbing me.  If I didn’t “know” that the book was a classic, I would have long since abandoned it.

Speaking of abandoned tomes … I have been reading The Fountainhead since 1992 (very slowly).  After a recent restructuring of my library, the book has turned up missing.  If I can’t find it, maybe I’ll buy a new copy in another decade or so …

Am I having A Literary Mid-Life Crisis?

August 21, 2010

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Note to my RSS and email subscribers: an unfinished version of this slipped out a few days ago, so this is going to appear to be a duplicate article. My apologies.

In recent months, I am often having urges to re-read books that I read long ago – or pick up a copy of a contemporary classic that I’ve missed along the way. So I’m taking a short break from my typical diet of mystery novels to indulge myself a bit. Here are some of the books I will be reading.

To Kill a Mockingbird – I don’t remember exactly when or why I first read Harper Lee’s classic, but Mockingbird is probably the first book I read that had a substantial impact on my life. The message of tolerance and to avoid judgment without the facts really hit home – and I hope has formed a foundation for my life. At some point, I know that I had two copies of the book, but I managed to lose them over the years. I have a tendency to lend books pretty freely, and it’s likely that the copies are in someone else’s collection now (hey, whoever has them – enjoy!). I recently bought a hardcover copy of the 50th anniversary edition and am reading it now for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Catcher in the Rye – I have never read J.D. Salinger’s classic.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the connection to the movie Field of Dreams (in the book, the angry 60’s author is Salinger) I probably wouldn’t have picked up a copy.  But now that I have a copy, I should really give it a read, especially with the passing of Salinger to that great rye field in the sky.

The Day of the Jackal – This book probably wouldn’t make most people’s list of classic, but it was one of my earliest introductions to suspense novels.  The protagonist in the novel takes the job of assassinating French leader Charles DeGaulle.  I originally read this in a Reader’s Digest condensed collection, and I wonder what I missed by reading the abridged edition.  I recently snagged a copy for six bucks at Barnes & Noble and it’s on my must-read list.

Fahrenheit 451 – Until recently, I really wasn’t very familiar with the subject of this book.  I picked up an audio version at the library and really liked it.  The main character in the story is a professional book burner – it now illegal to possess books.  His wife lives in a fantasy world surrounded by electronic screens that immerse a person in the lives of soap opera-like dramas.  Abandoning the learning opportunities of books in favor of the cheap thrills of reality TV?  That could NEVER happen …

The Thirteenth Trick – Another gem that I first read in a Reader’s Digest condensed volume.  The novel is based in England and features a paraplegic archer who trades barbs with a detective investigating the murders of several young women.  I’m betting that the abridgement left out a lot of the story.  This is by far the least famous book I’m going to mention in this article – but it’s a very entertaining read.

The Fountainhead – I have been reading this book since 1992 – at a glacial pace.  Time to jump back into the life and times of Howard Roark again.  When I finish, I can grab Atlas Shrugged.  I’ve been waiting to finish Fountainhead before starting Atlas.  These books explain Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism and are pretty heavy reading – but I hate to stop reading a book halfway through.  (I haven’t stopped, I’m just enjoying an intermission.)  Note – I’m not attempting to promote objectivisim, I’m simply trying to finish reading the books …

War and Peace – Maybe.  I probably won’t get to it in this cycle of reading (and probably won’t finish the Ayn Rand novels either), but I’ll put it on my to-do list.  I tend to like novels that teach me some history, and I suspect that I would learn an awful lot about Russian history by reading War and Peace.

I have most of these books, but will need to pick up copies of Fahrenheit 451 and War And Peace at some point.  I’m thinking of setting up reading cycles for my lifetime, with goals of reading certain books at age 35 (now), another set of books at age 40, etc.

If you are interested in buying any of these books, I have provided links below.  Yes, I’ll make a small commission if you buy one of the books (this does not increase the price you pay).

So, what are YOU reading these days?

To Kill a Mockingbird

Catcher in the Rye

The Day of the Jackal

Fahrenheit 451

The Thirteenth Trick

The Fountainhead / Atlas Shrugged
(Boxed set)

War and Peace