Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 100 Movies Part II

So, weeks ago, I posted the first 25 movies (#'s 75-100) from my Top-100-Movies-of-All-Time list. You may have read it, or perhaps, not. . . depending on how interested you are in someone else's movie preferences. Anyway, I promised myself I would post the next 25 before the end of November--and I'm only one day late. So, here it is:

51. The Crucible
52. Much Ado About Nothing
53. The Spitfire Grill
54. Brian’s Song (TV)
55. Sliding Doors

Okay. 51-55 make an interesting mix. The Crucible is a good one, and when I teach English III (9 out of my 12 years of teaching) I watch it every year when we study Arthur Miller's play. Daniel Day-Lewis is tremendous in the movie and Joan Allen was great as Elizabeth Proctor. Much Ado About Nothing I saw in college--and immediately loved anything with Emma Thompson. The Spitfire Grill is a poignant movie that left an impact on me, as did Brian's Song--the movie that supposedly leaves every sports-loving jock in tears--yes, I cried. Sliding Doors is one of Gwyneth Paltrow's best movies (in my opinion) and I saw it with my friends Jessica and Gretchen, who also introduced me to number fifty-two. I love pondering whether one incident, decision, or "missed subway ride" could change the entire direction of one's life.

56. Fargo
This is one I thought I would hate. . . but didn't. Frances McDormand, as the pregnant police chief, earned the Best Actress Oscar, and it was well-deserved. The accents are great, Marge is the only competent character in the movie--and she's one of the the only characters in film-history who is pregnant and yet, doesn't give birth the entire movie. "Yah-You betcha."

57. Goldeneye
58. Top Gun
James Bond and Maverick. . .come on.

59. The Parent Trap
60. The Breakfast Club
61. Cast Away
62. Clueless

Both Parent Trap movies--with Lindsay Lohan and Hayley Mills--are pretty sweet. I loved the old Disney version as a kid and enjoyed the version produced 37 years later as well. The Breakfast Club is classic, as is Clueless. Instantly quotable...both of them. And Cast Away is probably the best movie that really involves only one person (and a volleyball)--at least as far as I'm concerned. Tom Hanks is terrific in that movie, although I would like to know what's in that silly package he delivers at the end.

63. Pride and Prejudice
64. Tristan and Isolde
65. Shakespeare in Love

Three great period pieces. Obviously, as an English Literature teacher, they all relate in some way to the reading selections we teach in AP. And they're all well done. Many of my students will mention the movies as we're reading and whenever a film can spark interest in classic literature--well, who doesn't want that?!

66. The Pistol (TV)
I saw this movie about basketball legend Pistol Pete Maravich as a kid; then I practiced his ball-handling moves up and down the sidewalk outside my house for hours. My mom did not appreciate me throwing my basketball off the side of the house endlessly.

67. Grumpy Old Men
Possibly the best movie about curmudgeonly old men ever made. :)

68. The Lion King
69. Hamlet (Mel Gibson version)
Because The Lion King is basically the story of Hamlet, I've put these two together on my list. We're actually studying Shakespeare's Hamlet right now in my AP Lit classes. Every year, one of my students will say, "Did you know that Hamlet is kind of like The Lion King," and my response..."No, really?" Indeed. . . I speak fluent Sarcasm.
70. Footloose--Saw this one at a drive-in movie theatre and was just discussing drive-in memories with a friend yesterday. Red Vines, popcorn and a Coke. (What are your favorite theatre concession choices?)

71. Father of the Bride
72. Rain Man
73. Guarding Tess
74. A Few Good Men
75. The Natural

All of these are fairly well-known and acclaimed movies, except perhaps Guarding Tess; I love them all. Steve Martin as the dad in Father of the Bride--hilarious; Dustin Hoffman-- genius portrayal in Rain Man; Nic Cage and Shirley MacLaine have great chemistry (in a non-romantic way) in Guarding Tess. Tom Cruise is good in A Few Good Men but Jack Nicholson steals the movie. The Natural is great and Robert Redford is great looking.

So there's the list of 51-75. I have a lot more to say about all of these flicks...but no time to elaborate. So, until next time, have a wonderful December--perhaps you can catch some of these films over the holiday season. Take care and Merry Christmas.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Top 100 Movies Part I

So, a new friend of mine is an avid-blogger. . . and we discuss blogs we should/could/would write and read. Many of our conversations have sparked thoughts about topics I could blog about and just whether they'd be very interesting to read. However, part of me doesn't actually care about the readability of my blog, because, oftentimes, I blog for myself (but don't stop reading--'cause part of me loves that too).

I like to record events or experiences or just minutia so that I can look back and remember whatever it is I've learned and experienced. My blog is sortof like my scrapbook of ramblings that, normally, folks would have to look at only if they came over to my house, but instead can read from their own homes. (Did that make any sense to anyone besides me?)

Anyway, I often talk about my favorite movie list--and I thought to myself--I need to publish that list in some format so that I can look back and remember just why I loved the movies I did and what made them special or memorable to me. So, I figured a few blog posts recording my musings on Mardy's Top 100 Movies of All-Time might be in the works.

For Part One of this adventure I will cover movies #100-75, with a little commentary thrown-in here and there. Now, let me say this. . . the list isn't very scientific or scholarly. A person likes movies for different reasons. Some of the movies on my list are there because they're great movies; some make the list because of circumstances surrounding when I saw the movie or connections I've made with friends/family because of the movie itself. And some just make the list because I enjoy watching them over and over again, because they're silly, inspiring, or catch my interest in some way.

So, again, here are #75-100:

75. Forrest Gump-- a Tom Hanks classic, with one of the best soundtracks of all time. Instantly quotable and a movie I could watch 100 times and it wouldn't get old.

76. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure--mentioned this one in my last blog post.

77. Gladiator
78. Dr. No
79. As Good as it Gets
80. Cinderella Man
81. The Bourne Identity

Two Russell Crowe movies make the list from 77-80. Gladiator was great, but I didn't see it in the movie theatre, and therefore, I think I lost some of the overall impact. Cinderella Man was terrific even though you feel a little like you've been beaten up by life while watching it. Dr. No at 78 is the first James Bond movie on the list, but not the last. And the Oscar winner As Good as it Gets was intriguing. I really liked Helen Hunt's performance--and I loved her on Mad About You.

82. With Honors
83. Cadence
84. The Edge

Numbers 82-84 are probably fairly obscure movies for most of you, but I really liked all three--for very different reasons. With Honors stars Brenden Fraser, Moira Kelly, Patrick Dempsey and Joe Pesci. It came out when I was a senior in high school, about some Harvard students and a homeless guy (Pesci) who "schools" them on some life lessons one can't learn even at the best university. Cadence is a movie about a group of guys in an Army stockade with two taglines: "Sometimes you've got to stand out to fit in" and "Some battles are fought off the battlefield." Kindof cliche, but I really like the movie--and Charlie Sheen stars with his dad, Martin. Then there's The Edge with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin...just a good ol' fashioned thriller with Hopkins at his best in "survival" mode--stranded in the wilderness, running from a bear.

85. Erin Brockovich--Julia Roberts Oscar-winning vehicle.
86. Meet Joe Black--Brad Pitt looking extremely handsome--and Anthony Hopkins once again. Some of my friends didn't like this movie at all; but I thought it was an interesting premise. I mean, come on, Brad Pitt as Death personified? And the scene where he eats peanut butter for the first time. . . classic.
87. Who Framed Roger Rabbit--I just love this one.
88. Legends of the Fall--Wow. I have a lot of Anthony Hopkins movies on this list. Oh and Brad Pitt is nice to look at as well. :) And, if I remember correctly, a bear plays a prominent role in this movie too. Weird.

89. Mr. Holland’s Opus--Another great movie with good music, and it's about a teacher reaching his students and making a difference. Inspiration with a little goosebump factor thrown in at the end.

90. Ghost
91. City Slickers
92. Babe
93. The Wizard of Oz
94. The Patriot

Five interesting flicks make up numbers 90-94. . . Whoopi Goldberg is great in Ghost and I loved that the bad dude gets what's coming to him in the end. Oh and the "Ditto" line between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore--gives me chills every time. City Slickers is a great buddy-pic, but also hilarious and I loved the Jack Palance character. I think growing up in good ol' Dubois, Wyoming introduced me to some guys just like Curly. Babe--best movie about a pig ever. The Wizard of Oz--classic, and yet scary too. I was totally freaked by the witch and the flying monkeys. As a nightmare kid, I couldn't appreciate the movie until I was in my twenties. And The Patriot was excellent too.

95. A Perfect World--Ooooh this is an interesting one. Many of you probably haven't heard of this little gem. The movie stars Kevin Coster (who also is in at least 4 other movies on my top 100 list), and is directed by Clint Eastwood. In the film, Costner stars as an escaped convict who kidnaps this kid, and tries to run from officers of the law. It was probably the first movie where Costner played a bad dude and he was very engaging in his relationship with the kid. I need to see this one again to see if it still holds up, since I haven't seen it in awhile.

96. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels--My uncle in Australia introduced me to this one when I was in Adelaide one summer. Lots of violence and swearing, but I found it interesting. Come to think of it, my Uncle Steve introduced me to at least 3 of my top 100 movies.

97. Pirates of the Caribbean--Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow, is one of the greatest characters of all time.
98. Schindler’s List--Not much to say about this one. Oscar winner and Steven Spielberg classic. Haunting movie to say the least.
99. My Dog Skip--Tear jerker but heart-warming. The dog and the kid are too cute for words.

And Finally,
100. Dead Poets’ Society--Robin Williams as a teacher who inspires his students beyond the walls of the classroom.Great movie, great message.
To quote Williams character, Mr. Keating:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? "

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be Excellent to Each Other

So, earlier this week I received an email from a friend that served as a reminder-encouragement message. At the end of the email he signed off with, "Be excellent to each other. . ." and I was stoked! I mean, come on-it's probably been 10 years since I watched my ol' VHS tape of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

That's right--I'm a huge Bill and Ted fan. Besides being one of the iconic movies of my youth, Bill and Ted embodied the personalities of many of the "slackers with potential" who grew up in the late eighties/early nineties. The vernacular of Bill S. Preston Esquire and "Ted" Theodore Logan, will live on forever in the minds of those of us who loved Dr. Martens, acid washed jeans, metal-heads, air guitar solos, and . . . hanging out at the Circle K. :)

There are so many great quotes in that movie. . . classic. And I absolutely loved the fact that these two characters actually used some pretty stellar vocabulary words. Even when discussing their imminent failure of history, they find a way to sound somewhat intelligent.

Bill: "We are in danger of flunking most heinously tomorrow, Ted."
"We are destined to flunk most egregiously tomorrow." Yeah, that's right. . . heinous and egregious. . . that's some serious vocab kids!

And the quips from the guys' history teacher (Mr. Ryan) are even better now that I'm an educator myself.
"What you're telling me, essentially, is that Napoleon was a short, dead dude? = = = It seems to me the only thing you've learned is that Caesar is a "salad dressing dude." Hilarious, and with a straight face the entire movie.

Bill and Ted's actual history report, after they've kidnapped all the famous "historical dudes" is too funny. "Please welcome, for the final report of the afternoon, from all throughout history, some of the greatest people who have ever lived . . . in their 1988 world tour!"

(Sidenote: The second movie, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, was. . .well. . . Bogus.)

And, so, I leave you with President Abraham Lincoln straight from San Dimas High and Bill and Ted's History Adventure: "Fourscore and... [looks at his pocket watch] seven minutes ago... we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill... and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it's true today. Be excellent to each other. And... PARTY ON, DUDES!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Goodbye Ol' Reliable

Today I said Goodbye to an old friend. . . my Cosmo Electronic alarm-clock/radio/cassette-player. That's right, I am mourning the loss of a silly mechanical device, but let me tell you something--this old radio-alarm clock has been with me since 1988. Yep, it's twenty-two years old, and it has never failed me. I repeat. . . NEVER FAILED. (Even this morning, the alarm went off at the correct time, it's just that the horrible alarm noise played over the radio simultaneously. I CANNOT wake up to THAT ever again.)

My radio-alarm clock was what I like to call a "learning responsibility" present from my mother. When I was younger my mom used to get up super-early for her quiet time, then she'd head out on her many-mile morning walk. She would often return home to my sister (already up and ready for her day) watching television and me, in bed, still asleep. So, when I was about twelve, it was time for me to get up on my own so that my mom could finish her morning activities, or have a cup of coffee at the cafe downtown, without having to worry about her elder daughter oversleeping.

So, here she is. . .still working but not highly functional.

I would set my alarm time and then I could choose whether I wanted to wake up to the radio or to a cassette tape ready to go in the tape-player. I rarely woke up to the alarm noise except when I knew I needed to get up abruptly/swiftly without hitting the snooze button. As I mentioned earlier, the alarm noise is that horrible squawking sound so familiar to all, but hated by me. I much prefer the radio--so that music is the first thing I hear in the morning. As a twelve-year-old, I loved having a radio-alarm, and in high school I can still remember waking up to "DJ Ron in the Morning" on the country station out of Riverton, Wyoming. It was about the only radio station we could get in little ol' Dubois--but I didn't mind.

My alarm clock moved with me to Oregon to finish high school, to Fort Hays State for life in college, to eastern Kansas for my first apartment/job, and right into my first home-owning experience. My alarm clock helped me learn responsibility, woke me up in the morning, and helped me with my power-naps in college. If ever there has been a possession I've relied on more than my Cosmo radio-alarm, I'm not sure I know what it is (besides my feather-pillow, which will have to be another post at a later date).

My alarm-clock/radio/tape-player will be missed, and I suppose I'll go out and replace her today with a newer, fancier wake-up device of some kind--like this one on the right.

But that new model will never replace my ol' Cosmo in my heart. *SIGH*

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Birthday Comes and Goes

Last week I celebrated another birthday. . . and because my b-day post from last year was so "popular," I thought I'd share with y'all once again. (I enjoyed writing that one too.)

My birthday started with all those Facebook wishes you get. . . which was a first for me, since I've only been on FB since the beginning of the year. That was cool. And my phone buzzed with text messages once I turned it on at six o'clock in the morning. (Some people either stayed up really late to wish me happy birthday, or they live in a different time zone.)
After getting ready for school (uh, yeah. . .school already. . . can you believe it?) I headed up stairs to grab the CUPCAKES that my friend Megan had prepared for the special occasion. As most of you know, I have an affinity for cupcakes. . .and Megan is an excellent baker--so I was thrilled to get to share 60 cupcakes with my coworkers at school. She also made the cutest little cake just for me, with our school mascot emblazoned on the side. Here are a few pictures of Megan's handiwork!

Pretty cool that she did everything in our school colors. My teacher-friends were very impressed.

So, I'm 34. . .hmmmm. 33 seemed so much more interesting, but a friend of mine, who's a die-hard Minnesota Twins fan reminded me that #34 was Kirby Puckett's number--yes, that's a sports reference, because you know that's where I'd go first. Anyway, here are the nifty things I've found about the number 34.

34 is the traffic code of Istanbul, Turkey--I don't know what a traffic code is, but my student-teacher from last year just moved to Turkey so, I guess there's a connection.

"#34," is a song by the Dave Matthews Band --I am a fan of DMB. Not like, crazy-groupie fan. . . but I have an album or two on my iPod.

+34 is the code for international direct-dial phone calls to Spain--Yeah!!! And I just went to Spain. . . so that's cool.

In the book The Count of Monte Cristo, 34 is Edmond Dant├Ęs's prisoner number. --Terrific book, suspenseful, well-written and made into an fantastic movie as well.

In baseball the number 34 has been retired by the following teams:
The Minnesota Twins in honor of Kirby Puckett.
The Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in honor of Nolan Ryan.
The Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers in honor of Rollie Fingers.

The number 34 is also retired by the Houston Rockets in honor of its most famous wearer, Hakeem Olajuwon. And in American football the Chicago Bears retired #34 in honor of Walter Payton and it is retired by the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans in honor of Earl Campbell.

So, there you have it. #34 is not so boring after all.

Here's one last birthday picture to start my 34th year. Take care. . . and next year I'll write about 35. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Visit from My Pops

So, my dad came to town last Wednesday, and it has been a whirlwind of projects around my house. Some of you may remember that Dad drove out last June to help me construct a new deck in the back yard, since the old one was rotting off the back of the house. Well, this year it was time to stain. Of course, the weather in August isn't quite as nice as late May, so we had to battle the heat a little more this summer. (Day 3 of his stay. . . 112 degree heat warning-ridiculous!) Obviously, it didn't take us as long to stain the deck as it did to build it, but it was good Mard-Dad time and we enjoyed the heat of the day inside--with the air conditioning.

Thought I would show you a few pictures of the finished product, and there are a few of my first-ever grilling adventure on my new grill. Here they are. . .

Part of my dad's "negotiated agreement" included a steak dinner on one of the nights during his stay. Rib-eye, potatoes, asparagus. . .Yum.

Lights, Camera, Action. . . so yeah, come on over and experience a little Robinson handiwork. :)

Cool-huh. My dad's the best. Now I have a finished deck where I can enjoy a good book, or hold a Mardy Party. :) If only the weather would cooperate. . .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Hawk

When I was a kid, I loved one baseball team, and specifically one certain player. My hopes for the game would rise and fall with every hit, stolen base, home run, and strikeout. I collected baseball cards and would get so excited when one of my Topps packs had an Andre Dawson card. The Hawk, was The Man as far as I was concerned. He had a rocket-arm and could throw men out at home from the ivy in right field. When I was 10 years old, Dawson had just joined my beloved Chicago Cubs, and, yes they were horrible. . .as usual. But The Hawk was voted MVP of the National League, even though the Cubbies finished in last place.

And now, this weekend, Andre "The Hawk" Dawson is being enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was regarded as one of the best outfielders, both defensively and offensively, but more importantly, he left a legacy of hard work, perseverance, and loyalty to fans and teammates. His Hall of Fame Speech today was eloquent and sincere. I am proud to call Andre Dawson my favorite player of all time.

As one columnist wrote, "There are players who command respect within the confines of the clubhouse, and others, like Andre Dawson, who exude an almost regal quality when they walk into a room." (You can read the article here.) He is a man to be admired, not just for his baseball exploits, but because of his character and his loyalty.

Here's to #8. . . The Hawk.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Hometown

So, Road Trip 2010 ended on July 6th as I dropped my mom at the airport in Denver and made the trek across Kansas on my way home. In my last post I promised you a full entry on my "original" hometown (I grew up in Wyoming but graduated from high school in Oregon). So here it is. . . First, a few facts about Dubois, Wyoming.

#1-The correct pronunciation of Dubois is not French. . .instead it rhymes with "Sue-voice."

#2-Sitting in the Wind River valley, rimmed by the Absaroka and Wind River mountains, the first homesteaders arrived in the late 1800's.

#3-Dubois sits at nearly 7,000 ft elevation. And here's a picture of Ramshorn Peak, which is visible from all sorts of scenic overlooks.

#4- The Dubois area is home to the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the lower 48 states, and therefore, the high school mascot is the Ram. (And, yes, we were the Lady Rams. . . I know, I know.)

#5- It's at least 70 miles to the nearest city, movie theatre, hospital, bowling alley, Wal-Mart or McDonald's.

#6-Oh, and Matthew Fox (for those of you who are Lost fans) grew up on a ranch just outside of Dubois.

There are many songs that represent interesting parts of the country where folks were born and raised. . .and, yes, they're mostly country songs. John Mellencamp sang Small Town and I thought the third stanza fit the theme of this blog post:

"Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that's me. . . "

Yep. That's me. Couldn't have asked for a better education at Dubois Elementary School (even if it was "sliding down the hill"), and Dubois Middle/High School. Go Rams! Had great teachers, tremendous coaches, and fabulous friends. It was an idyllic childhood actually. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) I was baptized right here at Wilderness Baptist Church, and daydreams, well, everyone daydreams-right? I used to imagine myself growing up to be an actor, a forensic scientist, even the president.

Anyway, I spent the last few days of my Summer 2010 Road Trip Extravaganza in little Dubois, Wyoming. As you can see, there are around 1,000 folks who live in the Valley of the Warm Winds, approximately 55 miles from Yellowstone Park.

Mom and I spent July 1-5th in Dubois, so we had a chance to celebrate our country's Independence Day in a place where they take our country's freedom very seriously. There are so many young people from Dubois who enlist in the armed forces, that everyone is touched in some way by the wars occurring around the globe. Anyway, the 4th of July parade and fireworks extravaganza are always fun and unique experiences. Here are my pictures from the the day.
First some fun on Main Street before the parade.

This is one of our home-grown heroes. . . Sadie. She gets to carry the flag in the parade and she got married over the weekend--Congrats! (Her mom was my 6th grade teacher.)
Everyone gets wet at the Dubois parade thanks to the volunteer fire department.

A little message from your friendly, neighborhood conservative constituency.

And here's the haul one can take in at the parade. The Search and Rescue folks threw out the fireworks which I found to be an interesting choice. And the rest of the stuff, well, it's your normal parade swag--candy, frisbees, a stuffed moose. (You get the idea.)

The Grand Marshals for this year's parade were some old, dear friends of mine: Orv and Donna Landen. Great folks who watched every one of my high school basketball games and even traveled to Chadron, Nebraska to watch me play when I was in college. Here are their pics from the parade and then one of us from a couple of summers ago. Love these sweet people!

And in the evening you can enjoy the fireworks. I'm not the best night photographer, so here are just a few of the shots I was able to capture.

Finally, let me just show you around my Hometown. Here is a short picture tour of some of the sights. . .

Anyway, I'm leaving out a lot of things I could tell/show you. . . but perhaps I'll be able to fill in the blanks on another occasion.

Road Trip 2010 was a success and I hope you enjoyed tagging along with me on all of my adventures.