In 2011, The Mystery Bookshelf posted a four-part series entitled 20 Must Read Hard Boiled Classics (hey, I’m late to the party, but OregonMuse just posted it on the world-famous Ace of Spades HQ Book Thread this week).
So of course I decided to turn it into a quiz to find out how many of them I’ve read.
The results are not pretty. I have highlighted the titles of the ones that I have read.
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane
It’s a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
The Drowning Pool by Ross MacDonald
The Chill by Ross MacDonald
The Deep-Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
Eight Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block
When The Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block
Miami Blues by Charles Willeford
Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
40%, If you throw in movies, I would be all the way up to 45% (unless you counted varied renditions of The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye as extra credit).
I am not sure if I have any of the ones I have not read that I do not have on my to-read shelves. I have some James M. Cain–Mildred Pierce, which I started once but did not finish yet–but not the two listed here. I bought a couple of James Lee Burke books last year, but not Black Cherry Blues.
I would like some extra credit for reading the complete works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald as well as extensively in John D. MacDonald (all the Travis McGee novels, to which the Deep-Blue Goodbye belongs) and Mickey Spillane.
What would I add to this list? I don’t know that I could right away. Perhaps after some thought, reflection, and perusing of my shelves.
But I don’t have time for that now.
I will maybe keep an eye out for some of these books, but I would expect to find many of these out of print, or at least out of the print that would put them on the cheap bookshelves I haunt.
Back in 2012, I posted about some listicle probably long dead about 8 films that a geek should love. Back then, my results were:
Cube (I didn’t like it. Geek demerits for me.)
I am pleased to say I’ve gotten up to 88% in the nine years since.
I’ve also read the synopsis of Moon, so I know its story. And I’ve seen it in the wild on DVD for a couple of bucks because I already know the story. Perhaps my imperfect score on this list will prompt me to pick it up the next time I see it at an antique mall or garage sale.
As is my wont, I took these to be a quiz and looked to see how many of each I’ve read.
On the worst books, it’s 1.something; I read John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage in middle school, and I started Paul Tillich’s The Courage To Bein 2016 but did not finish it (and have since put it back in the stacks instead of leaving it lying around).
Of the best books, I’ve only read one: Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (which, as you know, gentle reader, is one of my favorite books to give away as well–whenever I find it at a book sale, I pick it up and give it to someone).
I would double my scores on both if I I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X as it appears on both the best and the worst list.
I don’t see many on my to-read shelves from the worst list except the aforementioned books (I picked up a copy of Profiles in Courage since I borrowed Mrs. Pickering’s copy in middle school). As to the best, I have Churchill’s history of World War II and Copleston’s History of Philosophy, but these are both series of books and not single volumes. I probably have the C.S. Lewis book The Abolition of Man around in one of the omnibuses and might have the Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man.
I don’t know what that says about me as a reader, but it does track more and more with the more modern lists.
I won’t reproduce the entire list of, what, 67 “technologies” that appear in the listicle. I will, however, point out that I have only used three of them (Adobe Shockwave, Google+, and iTunes on the Macintosh). I have heard of a couple more of them, but most of the others are companies or offerings I’ve never even heard of.
Which I count as a win, as it might mean that I focus on the important things in life, which are in meatspace, or that I am not a young Internet content creator who feels the need to come up with an extensive list of obscure things for $25.
Instead, I’m an old Internet content creator who feels the need to comment on such listicles for free.
Christmas Joy in Latvia – Latvian Christmas Cantatas
Jacob Miller, Natty Christmas
Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart
New Wave Xmas: Just Can
t Get Enough
Cee Lo, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment
She & Him, A She & Him Christmas
Christmas on Death Row
Carpenters, Christmas Collection
Johnny Cash, Christmas With Johnny Cash
A Very Special Christmas
Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra
The Ventures, The Ventures
Willie Nelson, Pretty Paper
Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas
Bing Crosby, White Christmas
Beach Boys, Beach Boys
Louis Armstrong and Friends, The Best of Christmas Songs
A Motown Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
James Brown, James Brown
s Funky Christmas
Elvis Presley, Elvis’ Christmas Album
A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector
Of the ones I’m missing, I might only want a couple. Ella, Louis Armstrong, maybe the Charlie Brown Christmas, the Sinatra, maybe the Phil Spector one. Am I allowed to want the last? He went to jail for murdering his wife. I mean, it’s not the same as touching a woman on the bum who later decided she didn’t want to be touched on the bum.
At any rate, one wonders how many Christmas records a modern journalist has or plays at all.
I won’t bother to type them all out because I am lazy, but allow me to identify the ones I have not seen and why.
Friday the 13th: I think in my slasher movie days, which is to say in the days when my friends wanted to see slasher movies or my friend’s father wanted to watch slasher movies so he rented a couple for us when we slept over at his house, that I might have missed the first in the series although I caught most of the middle of the first ten.
Steel Magnolias because it’s a chick flick and no chick I’ve been with since the 1980s has insisted upon watching it with me.
Raging Bull which is more of a 70s film according to zeitgeist, ainna? At any rate, I just haven’t come across it cheaply at a book sale or anything.
Broadcast News because it looked kinda preachy, and I haven’t sought it out.
Mystic Pizza. See above comment about Steel Magnolias.
Flashdance. A dancing movie. To be honest, I’ve not seen Footloose either. I guess I dodge movies that look to be dancing movies that were made after, what, 1960?
That’s six movies I’ve not seen out of 36, which is 30 of 36 or 83%.
Not bad since the ones I mentioned are chick flicks and whatnot.
I’ve seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Weird Science, and Die Hard within the last year. I’m hoping to see The Goonies and Top Gun with my children soon. A couple others on the list I’ll consider revisiting. A couple, like The Evil Dead and Heathers I’ll probably never need to see again. Of the ones I have not seen, Flashdance and Raging Bull are most likely and Friday the 13th is the most likely to not.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Stretching by Bob Anderson
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
Dynamic Aging by Katy Bowman
The Five Years Before You Retire by Emily Guy Birken
Fear of Dying by Erica Jong
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Old in Art School by Nell Painter
65 Things to Do When You Retire edited by Mark Evan Chimsky
The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier by Peter Spiers
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
The Years of Lyndon Johnson four volumes, by Robert Caro
Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Coming of Age by Simone de Beauvoir
Coming Into Eighty: Poems by May Sarton
Devotions by Mary Oliver
The Summer of a Dormouse by John Mortimer
All the thrillers and mysteries
The Last Unknowns: Deep, Elegant, Profound Unanswered Questions About the Universe, the Mind, the Future of Civilization, and the Meaning of Life edited by John Brockman
Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
King Lear by William Shakespeare
Nearing Ninety: And Other Comedies of Late Life by Judith Viorst
A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing 90 by Donald Hall
Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God by Joe Coomer
Selected Poems: 1988-2013 by Seamus Heaney
Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
Sapiens by Yuval Harari
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite
The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante
Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary
Life Is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
Little Boy by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author by Herman Wouk
Of the books that I don’t have colored in the list above, I don’t expect that I’ll even consider reading. I mean, most of the YA fiction listed above that I haven’t read is message-oriented, as are many of the other novels. I might read Gilead but that’s only because I gave a copy to my beautiful wife and her mother for Christmas a couple years ago, so there’s bound to be one or more floating around by the end of my retirement.
Fun fact: Rabbit, Run and Stretching are both at the chairside book accumulation point. I’ve tried to read Rabbit, Run, but I’ve found it odious. And I got Stretching on the indirect advice of my editor. For years, I’ve meant to take up stretching, but I haven’t yet.
At any rate, make of it what you will, the intersection of my reading habits with that of a photographer.
“Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band” by Meco (on vinyl and CD)
“(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates
“A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band (twice: once on the Saturday Evening Fever soundtrack and on the album of the same name, although it’s credited simply to the Walter Murphy Band there)
“The Streak” by Ray Stevens (also on the videocassette of his greatest hits)
“Muskrat Love” by The Captain and Tennille
“Convoy” by C.W. McCall (although I might have this on an album or single, but it’s not what I listen to on the turntable, so I’m not sure)
“Disco Duck” by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots
I thought I did better because one of the entries mentions the Chipmunks’ “Christmas Song” which I have on single and probably on a Chipmunks or Christmas album somewhere.
Yesterday, I had a second opportunity to kill some time at the Classic Rock Coffee shop after dropping my kids off at school, so I sat at another booth and snapped a picture of the album covers on the walls.
How well did I do?
Well, let me bold the ones I have:
Riptide Robert Palmer
Dream Police Cheap Trick
Rockin’ Into The Night .38 Special
Get the Knack The Knack
Bachman-Turner Overdrive Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Led Zeppelin II Led Zeppelin
Brothers in Arms Dire Straits
Okay, so that’s a whopping 0 out of 8.
Apparently, I am a classic rock poser. I didn’t even recognize two of the covers and couldn’t make them out. This would probably be easier in any month but October without the fake spider-web decorations.
In my defense, I once saw BTO in concert at Summerfest. Also note I do have greatest hits collections from Foreigner and BTO, so I have the hit tracks from each album in my personal collection.
As I mentioned, 25% is likely to be the ceiling for my scores in these quizzes. If you recognize one of the album covers I couldn’t identify, leave it in the comments, and I’ll correct it in the list above. I won’t likely correct it in my music collection, though.
I had a couple of minutes to kill after dropping my children off at school and before I was scheduled to help set up the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale (I’m not just a messy patron; I’m also, sometimes, a volunteer). So I stopped at the local outpost of Classic Rock Coffee for a cup of joe.
If you’re not familiar with it, Classic Rock Coffee is outfitted more like a rock club than Starbucks (and this particular location has a music venue off to the side). There are black lights and music memorabilia on the walls. And several of the booths have a collection of classic rock album covers beside them.
So, because I’m bored (or was during that interim), I’ve decided to make it a quiz. Which of the albums beside the booth do I own?
I was sitting today at the western most booth, which features these album covers:
I’ll bold the ones I own:
Sticky Fingers The Rolling Stones
Now and Zen Robert Plant
Chicago 13 Chicago
52nd Street Billy Joel
Crimes of Passion Pat Benetar
Night Moves Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Private Eyes Hall and Oates
Wheels are Turnin’ REO Speedwagon
25%. Not very good. Given my other experiences at the coffee shop, this is about what I get for every booth.
Note that the albums I own from the above list I first got on audiocassette, but I have since upgraded the Billy Joel to CD.
You know what that looks like to me? A quiz about what things Brian J. still has lying around the house.
So I’ll bold the things I still have and will italicise the things that I had at one point because, hey, there are multiple text styles.
Floppy disk (I have both 5.25″ and 3.5″)
Rotary phone (I still have an old timey wall-mount phone with a cord)
Typewriter (I think I’m down to one old electric typewriter these days)
Stand alone camera (Many)
Atari 2600 (Also many)
Nintendo Game Boy (it’s on the wall, but some Game Boy Advances are in the closet)
Betamax (I might have had one pass through my possession in the old eBay-selling days, but I can’t be sure–I did have some Betamax cassettes though)
VHS tapes (which are on the shelves with the DVDs)
Cathode Ray Tube Monitor (Although at this point, I am down to a boxed Commodore monitor)
Slide projector (I don’t have one, but I do have a little slide viewer and a bunch of old slides)
Game cartridges (for many systems from the aforementioned Atari 2600 to the depicted N64)
Walkie talkies (my children have one or more sets, or at least one of one or more sets)
Pagers (Never had one, but carried one, briefly, when I was ‘on call’ as a technical writer for the Y2K remediation effort)
Polaroid instant camera (Got one for selling Olympic, but I have since divested myself of the one or more I’ve owned)
Answering machine (Not tape-based, but I still have the one that my mother bought me in 1997 so she could leave me messages in my new apartment)
Sony MiniDisc Player (Although I suspect there’s a Sony DiscMan around here somewhere)
Camcorder (Maybe I had one pass through my hands; I don’t know what happened to my mother’s old one)
Edison Gold and Stock Ticker
Fax machine (although I can send faxes with my all-in-one printer, it’s been a year or so since the last stand-alone fax machine passed through Nogglestead as my mother-in-law got rid of one by giving it to me to use or donate–I donated it)
BBC Micro (Never heard of it, but now I want one)
Jeez, I am only 11/21.
I can do better.
Also, note that my children do know many of these old technologies as a result.
A quiz for you, I mean. You’ll notice I have not bolded or italicised things that I store in the garage. Because I don’t want my home insurance rates to go up based on my blog response to a listicle composed by a 23-year-old marketing intern from a series of other Internet postings he/she/it found.
Note that storing extra fuel or solvents in your garage might also violate the contract you signed with your mortgage. What, you didn’t read it?
Not depicted, or detypeted as the case may be, on this list, other things that you might consider storing in your garage:
Automobiles. These things can emit dangerous gases or, based on our marketing intern’s research in watching action films, might be extremely prone to explosions.
Power tools. Which are electrocution dangers at best, death, decapitation, or disfigurement dangers at worst (according to our marketing intern, based on studious research of historical documents 80s slasher films).
Anything not valuable. They’re hazardous to your marriage if you just keep random things (or so I’ve heard) and can be a fire hazard.
Cigarettes. Because smoking is bad, and if you’re not planning to smoke them, you’re smuggling them, which comes with all the attendant organized crime risks.
Toys from the twentieth century. No matter what they are, they are killers of one sort or another. Jarts? Books printed with lead ink? Asbestos-stuffed teddy bears? Chemistry kits with real acids? Just call out the hazmat team or ordinance disposal professionals!
21st Century Nerf Guns. Advances in Nerf technology have made it so you don’t need a BB gun to shoot your eye out. Or, more likely, your brother’s.
I’ll not answer that list, either.
Although if you retitle the article Whatnot to Store in Your Garage, that probably describes the contents of my garage.
Of course I got that. The list included a number of series that I haven’t seen any films from (DC expanded universe, Harry Potter, The Fast and the Furious).
But the quiz did not ask me about my favorite from The Thin Man series, which is a shame. To be honest, it’s either The Thin Man or After the Thin Man, although my favorite Myrna Loy movie might be The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer which also happens to be my favorite Shirley Temple film.
But I digress.
As I comb through the archives, I can’t help but note how quizzes and quiz widgets were quite a bit of my blogging back in the old days, before social media companies took over to use them to mine for your personal information (to better serve you–on a platter!). I should find a way to make it so again to ensure I deliver to you, the valued reader, fresh content often even if it’s not content of the highest quality writing.
Here’s the list (in descending order in the article). I’ve put in italics things I’ve used and in bold things I cannot live without.
The Selfie Stick
Number of things I can’t live without: 0.
Number of things I use regularly: 0.
I mean, I’ve used Airbnb once, and it’s still not my go-to accommodation. I’ve got Spotify installed, and I use it once in a while to try to discover new music (I found Anna Danes and Lauren Meccia on it), but the radio stations I create based on artists I like tend to play the same bands over and over, so once you’ve listened to it for a while, it’s like listening to a radio station with a small playlist). And I have an iPad, but it’s for testing purposes mostly, and it sits on the desk needing a charge until such time as I need it for testing.
I’m getting to a point in my life where I’m becoming a bit of a Luddite. Technology and its toys and trinkets are not the meaning of life, and as I get older I recognize that you get more satisfaction from real life endeavors rather than endless selfies and incomplete games of Civilization.
So I’m proud not to need the things in the list or I’ll die. I feel justified in trying to steer my children from devices and apps as often as possible, or else they might end up writers of twee listicles mistaking the Internet for life or meaning.
Also, I really hope people can live without Tesla, especially the people who have plunked down deposits for cars that might not ever be manufactured.
Of course I have heard of them. I have an English degree, for cryin’ out loud.
It helps that they were all collected in the Walter J. Black edition of A Christmas Carol that I read in 2008. Reading that book nine years ago around Christmas time might have kicked off my mostly annual tradition of reading a Christmas-themed book around this time of year.
Although you can actually vote for Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center, but Feld is only mentioned in the teaser story for the poll and not in the poll itself.
Sorry, Gimlet, you’ll have to choose another, and Johnny Londoff is not available, either.
Although I would not be telling the whole story if I did not admit that I sang, “If you want TDs, say Hundley, and smile,” during the recent period when Green Bay Packers backup quarterback started games during Aaron Rodgers’ recent injury. It’s based on a jingle for Hautly Cheese. No doubt, this selection would be my children’s choice based on my revision.