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Stories that moved me...

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My life as you know by now was influenced by my love of stories, ones that others created and ones that I brought forth. They in a sense were a thought stream that was always in the background that contributed to how I was thinking, how I was feeling and how I acted in the world. Stories function like that for us humans. They let us process the past, shape the present and dream the future. Without our stories that give a meaning to everything we experience we would not be able to get out of bed in the morning. They are also a curious human invention

(as far as we know) that fantasizes about alternative life experiences that take us away from the reality of our lives, but also can be dangerous if we choose to live in our stories instead of the present moment.

 

When I am asked who are my favorite songwriters, filmmakers and writers, I have to say I have favorite creations not artists. If we are lucky as artists we may have a creative stream that lasts for a time that gets close to the source of what is downloading through us. It is the artists curse. To feel, hear or experience something that we try to being forth but very rarely get all of it in our expression of it. I don’t know how the artists that created the works on this list felt about them, but they moved me at some deeper level than just appreciation of their craft. Whether they meant too or not, their creations inspired me in ways that sometimes I wouldn’t discover for a long time.

The Songs 1963-1979 (when I paid attention)

Music was obviously a big influence in my life beginning around age 14 and ending at the close of the 1970’s when I was done with my recording career. It’s not that I stopped listening to the music at the end of the 70’s, but the soundtrack of my coming of age had run its course and music/radio had begun to change. By the time the 80’s began I had moved on to film and storytelling in other mediums. But what a two decades it was.

 

I have always said the late sixties and seventies were the best time to be in music as rock and roll emerged. All these artists were writing and recording the stories that reflected something in our lives as boomers coming of age. They would eventually inspire me to write songs and record my own records.

 

Like I said, I prefer to focus on particular songs where even the most successful of artists achieved something new, novel and enduring. They also wrote a lot of forgettable stuff. We all did.

 

Here you GO...

 

Songs - 1963-65

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Kingston Trio – MTA, One More Town

 

 

                            

Peter Paul and Mary – If I had a Hammer, Blowing in the Wind

 

 

 

Sam Cooke – What a Wonderful World, You Send Me

I really started paying attention to records and songs around the beginning of high school. Growing up in Berkeley we had two influences – the public one which was folk music and the more hidden one which was R&B.  My friend Mark and I were already playing folks songs at school talent shows and hootenannies while the best of the white artists were on Top 40 radio. But the R&B songs that snuck into my awareness came through 45’s someone would buy at obscure records stores. That’s when I first heard Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Otis Redding and Fats Domino. I had never heard music like they were creating.

 

The interesting thing about this time was that in England the British bands were listening to these same R&B pioneers too and would end up parroting them back to white audiences when they first came to the US. For years, Chuck Berry and Little Richard would complain the “white” boys stole their songs. Something to be said for that. Eventually, they would all be honored for their contributions to the emergence of “rock and roll.” I was lucky enough to have played concerts with Chuck Berry and BB King when it was my turn in the seventies. 

 

The summer of 65 I was working at Berkeley Tuolumne Camp after graduating from high school in June. The crew at the camp were all young musicians, singers, and actors etc. That summer I heard the front edge of what was coming. Mr. Tambourine Man showed up first on the Byrds album and then the original on Dylans, Bringing it All Back Home. This was folk music “electrified.” I wanted in.

 

I resonated with the Beatles as they emerged during high school but the Rolling Stones were something else. They were billed then as the “bad” boys of rock as compared to then Beatles carefully crafted image. That summer we listened to the Stones “Out of Our Heads” album until the grooves wore off. That album contained “Satisfaction” and “The Spider and the Fly” just to name a few. It was dangerous music that would not be contained.

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Bob Dylan –Just Like a Woman, Like a Rolling Stone

 

 

 

Beatles – Entire Sgt Pepper Album – I remember the day Sgt Peppers came out. I bought a copy and because I was home visiting, I listened on earphones. What unfolded was such a leap in what I thought could be created it took my breath away about what was possible in music. Interestingly, Sgt. Peppers was not a favorite album of John Lennon, or George Harrison.

 

The other songs of theirs: I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Long and Winding Road – Yesterday - Ticket to Ride – Help –Drive My Car -Blackbird –Hide Your Love  Away – Here Comes the Sun – In My Life – Let it Be – Something.

 

The songs above were the Beatles music that inspired me to write and make records. And we forget all this happened in a very short 6-7 years. With the exception of “Imagine” the individual Beatles never got to me like these songs did. And two of them “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something” were written by George Harrison, begrudging allowed by Lennon and McCartney. Who would have ever thought?

 

BB King – The Thrill is Gone

 

 

 

 

Otis Redding – Sitting by the Dock of the Bay

 

 

 

 

Beach Boys – Surfing - California girls – In My Room – God Only Knows

The Beach Boys were so Southern California. The ocean, the beach, the surf, the woodies, the bikini girls, the innocence. Only one of them actually surfed it turned out. That would have been enough to put them on my list, but Brian Wilson, like the Beatles, heard something more. “In My Room” and “God Only Knows” are the two that grabbed me when he came all the way out of his sandbox.

 

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

 

 

 

Rolling Stones –Satisfaction, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Honky Tonk Woman

 

 

 

 

Byrds-  – Turn, Turn, Turn - Eight Miles High

 

 

 

Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love, White Rabbit, Coming Back to Me

 

 

 

 

 

Doors - Light My Fire – The Crystal Ship – The End – Riders on the Storm. The Doors in a sense were a surprise. They were the house band at the Whiskey A Go Go forever, but no one heard then what eventually emerged from Morrisons poems on their first album. Dark, deep and eventually tragic.

 

Buffalo Spring Field - For What’s Its Worth – Bluebird

I remember driving at night into LA after I got back from Mount Rushmore. We had seen the Sunset Strip riots on the news, but the first time I heard “For What It’s Worth” on AM radio I knew songs could be more than just entertainment.

 

Jackson Brown - Take it Easy – Before the Deluge – Running on Empty

 

 

 

Van Morrison - Crazy Love – Into the Mystic

 

 

 

CSN - Suite Judy Blue Eyes - Wooden Ships – Helpless – Love the One Your With. I had been a big fan of Buffalo Springfield, so when the first Crosby, Stills and Nash super group album came out I bought it. From the first harmonies of Suite Judy Blue Eyes it was a revelation of something new.

 

Neil Young - Old Man – Heart of Gold – Cinnamon Girl

 

 

 

Joni Mitchel –River – Woodstock – A Case of You – Help Me

Joni Mitchel songs always seem to show up when I needed music to pull me through some troubles or tribulations. She wrote about the ups and downs of relationships like no one else. She even wrote the ballad of Woodstock without being there.

 

Carol King - You’ve Got a Friend

In my days as a songwriter at Claridge Music I heard demos of songs that would come in from two NY songwriters, Carol King and  Gerry Goffin. I always thought they had an interesting sound to them that would later emerge when she became a solo artist. Of all her songs, “You’ve Got a Friend” always brings tears to my eyes in recognition of all the close friends I’ve had on this journey.

 

Creedence Clearwater - Born On The Bayou – Proud Mary – Greatest bar band ever. Just try not dancing when they start up.

 

 

Moody Blues – Nights in White Satin

 

 

 

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way

 

 

 

Stevie Wonder - Superstition - Sunshine of My Life

 

 

 

 

Eagles - Peaceful Easy Feeling - Desperado – Hotel California

The Eagles were the blue print for folk rock when they broke out. First with stories from the Southwest and then evolving to the greatest lovers lament ever written in "Desperado"and the movie that was Hotel California. What people forget is that they were not an overnight success. They played for 3 years in bars and small halls while being told they didn’t have a unique sound. Needless to say they found it.

 

Steely Dan - Reelin’ in the Years - My Old School - Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – Steely Dan wrote unusual lyrics and music like no one else. Their smart ass approach to the stories they told was perfect for illuminating their perspective on life’s events and the eclectic nature of some of mine. 

Films

The one quality that all these movies share is that when I was watching them I forgot I was watching a movie. They drew me into whatever world they were offering as they plugged themselves into my psyche that would often unfold later in my dreams. Some of those “seeds” would stay with me for all my life. 

 

I obviously did not see these first films when they were originally released. I saw them later as they played on television.

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1939 - Mr Smith Goes To Washington

 

 

 

 

1939 - Wizard of Oz

 

 

 

 

1946 - A Wonderful Life

 

 

 

 

1954 - Rear Window – This is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film. It is what inspired me to create our award winning interactive movie “Voyeur.” As I was studying the film I bought a laserdisc of the movie. It allowed me to step through the film frame by frame. That is where I discovered that every time we looked at a POV of the back of the building where the action was taking place, Hitchcock double printed the frames, so that our eyes picked up something disturbing that we couldn’t see when the film was running at 24 frames per second. He was a master of audience manipulation. I actually got to meet him once when I delivered him his mail on the Universal Studio lot. He was as we saw on television. Gruff, mumbling and distracted.

 

1954 – Them! This pioneering film was the inspiration for the “It Came From the Desert” series of interactive movies I would create in the late 80’s at Cinemaware. Them also established a new genre of atomic radiated “big bug” films.

 

 

 

1956 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original) For some reason this movie haunted me. The notion that someone would replace me in my sleep with a “pod” was terrifying as a child. They did a couple of remakes later of this story but for me they did not touch the creepiness of this original.

 

 

 

1957 – Spirit of St. Louis – This was the first film my parents took me to in a one of the big movie palaces in Berkeley. They are all gone now. It literally took me into the skies with Lindberg, and was catalogued for later as something I might want to look into… making films.

 

 

 

1960 - Magnificent Seven (original) This story has been re-made a bunch of times, but this original with Yule Brenner, Steve McQueen and Eli Wallch based on the Japanese classic “ The Seventh Samuri” is the one that still is the most interesting to me. Steve McQueen emerged from this movie as a star and as the story goes added to the few lines he had in the script by doing something in every scene that pulled the audience’s attention away from the principles. Yul Brenner really hated him for that. They did make up later when McQueen was dying.

 

1963 – From Russia With Love – This second Bond film for me was the perfect mix of the 007 elements with Sean Connery at his best. Many more Bond films would be made, some actually quite entertaining, but this was the prototype of this type of spy film.

 

 

1967 -Cool Hand Luke – We get to experience a young Paul Newman and George Kennedy in this steamy southern prison story. I could feel the heat as I watched it. It also birthed the classic line from those in charge when challenged by rebels …  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

 

 

Dirty Dozen – I watched a lot of war films during my youth. There was something about the World War 2 that attracted me. Although the Dirty Dozen was a complete fantasy it represented a story of a bunch of misfits assigned an impossible mission as was the case for many during the actual war.

Heat of the Night – Again, the hot steamy Southern drama and the gritty exploration of racism. Even though I grew up in Berkeley and was exposed to the beginning of the civil rights movement, this movie got to the heart of systemic racism in America that is still with us today.

 

1968 - 2001: A Space Odyssey – By all accounts 2001 is a “slow” movie not typical of the more active 60’s fast cut style. It lingered on a vision of the future that I found engaging. I loved that Pan American was flying the shuttle that the astronauts took to the moon. The nature of this “first contact with an alien culture” would be done many times going forward, but this one left us with the mystery of the monolith that we could fill in for ourselves. I also saw it twice sitting in the front row of the theater totally stoned. Quite an experience of the ground breaking computer visuals that are one of the signatures of this film. The sequel 2010 (not directed by Kubrick) was awful.

 

Once Upon a time in the West – Westerns were the stock and trade of Hollywood from the beginning of moving pictures. Directors like John Ford and Howard Hawks created a western American film architype that is still in play today as the fable of the rugged individualist. That’s why it was so odd that my favorite western was created by an Italian director.. Sergio Leone. The over the top America western architypes inhabited by Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Jack Elam and Italian actress Claudia Cardinale were a strange mirroring of American western epics. It even featured Henry Fonda as a very, convincing dark villain. The only time he played a bad guy. You could feel the dirt and sweat in every scene. Leone would also make Clint Eastwood a star in the “Dollars Trilogy” but Once Upon a Time in the West for me was the one.

 

Planet of the Apes – Speaking of novel. This first ape film was initially marketed as a sleezy Hollywood send up, but there was something about the alternative future it depicted that was one of the first to comment on the possible demise of the United States. Charlton Heston was also iconic as the astronaut that battles to survive in the ape culture. I found the insensitivity and bias that the apes exhibited towards the humans in the film as fitting commentary on how we humans treat the other species on this planet.

 

1969 - Easy Rider – A surprise hit that in some ways signaled the end of the old Hollywood studio system and the dawning of a new age of independent film. Their journey reminded me of many of the road trips I took with my bands where we would wander into some commune and get a taste of how they lived in this seemingly utopian vision of the future. Of course, most of those communities collapsed for many reasons, but my experience of the freedom and joy while engaged there would stay with me, reminding there was something more than the way the world seemed at that point.

 

Midnight Cowboy – Growing up on the West Coast I didn’t make it to New York until I was 20. I remember not being able to see the sky unless I looked straight up between the tall buildings. But there was a creative energy thereI was attracted to. Most of these experiments would fail, but there were always something interesting to consider. I also saw the poor state that many New Yorkers lived on the low end of the pecking order. It was the first time I witnessed people stepping over an unconscious homeless person on the sidewalk.

Midnight Cowboy captured that world of hustlers, desperados and broken dreamers. I would return to New York many times because of my media work, but I would only stay a week at most to sample what was emerging. Never had any desire to live there.

 

1970s - Patton – A classic war film written by Francis Coppola. Its commercial success kept Francis going as he developed his original work that would include the Godfather, The Conversation and Tucker. Patton was an interesting historical character. Just the kind you wanted leading an army of desperate men against all odds. However, as soon as the danger passed, you had no use for his single focus on winning. Churchill was another of these war time leaders that was dumped by the UK citizens he saved when the war ended.  They had their moment and then history moved on as it does sometimes. For me, the war depicted in this film was the last of the “good” wars (if such a thing exists) where you knew who the enemy was and why you were fighting. Although, I thought it also did a good job of depicting the terror of when the bullets start flying and you are just trying to survive the day. The conflicts in Korea, Viet Nam and later Iraq were something else.

 

Woodstock – In the late sixties, there were quite a few “gatherings of the tribe” at outdoor festivals. Particularly, in the summer months. We played quite a few of them. Although there was a certain kind of rush playing to a sea of faces, for me there was a kind of disconnect with an audience that size.

Woodstock began as just another festival, but in one of those unexplainable moments it became the signature event for our generation. Many thought the community that emerged there was the beginning of something new. In actuality it was the end of an era. Not that many months later Altamont happened. The deaths of concert goers at the hands of the Hells Angel “security” personnel announced a dark shift that was the wind with the end of the sixties innocence.

 

A Fish Called Wanda –An oddly comedic vehicle for John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Klien and Michael Palin was Monty Python all grown up.

 

 

 

 

National Lampoon’s Animal House – Another comedic milestone of the seventies. The FRAT life depicted in the film reminded me of the scene at Cal Poly where we played the wild parties depicted in the film. If he was not already, it made John Belushi a star.

 

 

 

American Graffiti – I saw this film while on tour with my band in the mid-west. I had no expectations going in, but found it a brilliant homage to the life of the California valley where we played lots of gigs during college. I had no idea who George Lucas was at the time but that would change later on. I always thought that Graffiti was the best of George as a director. We also get to see Harrison Ford early on. And it featured Wolf Man Jack, that crazy pirate radio celeb, (Ordinarily 50,000 watts out of Mexico beamed into the United States.) I would

actually meet him later on one of our tours. A very nice man.   

 

Network – This Paddy Chayefsky commentary on network television would be something I would experience in the 90’s working for Time Warner. Although, it was very over the top, it wasn’t that far off the mark. The almighty ratings didn’t care what it was as long as the audience watched. That era is now over with streaming becoming the thing, but in those days, the three networks had a dangerous influence over the culture.

 

 

Rocky – There have been lots of boxing movies. Good ones like Raging Bull and Cinderella Man, but Rocky was a surprise for me. Written by an unknown actor it would shamelessly take us into the dark world of boxing that I experienced when we were doing our Caesars World of Boxing game in the 90’s. Of course the punishment that Rocky took in the ring was a fantasy, but the story of the underdog against all odds was compelling. It also got me interested in jogging before there was a running craze.

 

 

The Poseidon Adventure – The first of a genre of disaster films directly by British director Ronald Neame. It set the stage for a string of these types of films. Neame had to invent a dynamic rolling sound stage to film the ship turning over. Neame was actually a “small” relationship movie director in the 40’s but when I took a directing class from him in the 90’s he explained Poseidon was his “fuck you money” film that got him off the merry go round of studio influence. That always stayed with me.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest –Produced by Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records fame in Berkeley (Creedance) and a very young Michael Douglas. The film had been in development for 13 years as a vehicle for Michaels father Kirk Douglas to star it but ended up being a star vehicle for Jack Nickelson and Louise Fletcher.

I would experience a version of this “crazy” hospital when I was fighting the draft and was taken to a posh mental facility when I freaked out. I remember the longer I stayed, the more the institution tried to convince you of your craziness. I came close to getting electro-shock treatment depicted in the film but thankfully was spared unlike by Grandfather on my Dad’s side.

 

Star Wars – When I witnessed the opening scene of the Star Destroyer passing over camera POV, I knew this was something new. Little did I know at the time how involved I would get with Lucasfilm with Jane.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind – a feel good alien contact film that accurately depicts “the government” trying to suppress the information with the public to no avail.

 

 

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – The best of the “boys” films. Classic bits that would be repeated many times at parties.

 

 

 

 

The Conversation – A small film from Francis Coppola that gets right to the heart of government surveillance in our culture. What it depicted seems pale in comparison to what big tech is doing these days.

 

 

 

 

The Godfather – I never could have imagined that a movie about the mafia would have such an impact. When you look into the process of the film actually getting made, you just can’t write the stuff that happened to them.

 

 

 

The Godfather Part II – One of a few sequels that was better than the original. The device of moving backwards and forwards in time was brilliant. There was eventually a third Godfather film that was merely a shadow of the first two.

 

 

 

Duel – TV movie – A early Steven Spielberg made for TV movie that starred Dennis Weaver. This story could have been a TV hack, but Spielberg made something novel out of it. I remember it because it was on television the night before I had my final encounter with the draft system. As I was kept in an “observation” room I could hear the army techs talking about it.

 

Logans Run – A cheesy look at the future but so 70’s it can’t be ignored. It made use of a story device that you could not trust anyone over thirty.

 

 

 

1980’s -The Terminator – This film was a total surprise to me when I first saw it. I expected a B quality action adventure movie, but got something much more that would herald James Cameron as a director to watch.

 

 

 

Cinema Paradiso – This was one of those lovely small, foreign films about why we love movies.

 

 

 

 

Sex, Lies and Videotape – Unexpected emotional performances from a young Andie McDowell and James Spader. Proof positive it does not take a lavish production budget to elicit powerful emotions about our obsessions.

 

 

1990’s - Galaxy Quest – Still watch this sometimes. It was one of those rare parody films that got it exactly right about Star Trek. Having worked with some of the original Star Trek actors I thought this film nailed the Trekkie zeitgeist. Inspired performances from Tim Allen,  Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, Enrico Colantoni and Missi Pyle.

 

The Crying Game – One those “small” films depicting an unexpected journey into the life of a transgender individual rapped up with the IRA. Go figure.

 

 

 

 

Being John Malkovich – Inspired performance by Malkovich, John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, and Orson Bean commenting on the nature of celebrityhood.

 

 

 

L.A. Confidential – an ohmage to the noir detective films of the 40’s set in the 1950’s in LA depicting LAPD corruption. Convincing performances from Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce. James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito

 

Jurassic Park – A wonder of digital effects as dinosaurs walked among humans on the island. All the signature Spielberg touches.

 

 

 

Good Will Hunting – Robin Williams was outstanding in this dramatic role in this story developed by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. For me it got to the heart of the deep wounding we can’t escape from childhood.

 

 

The Matrix – A true original for its time. When I worked for Ken Wilbur I would meet Lana Wachowski while producing Ken’s 2012 tribute. She was very helpful in us shaping the Ken Wilber biography project. The other two Matrix films delivered on the story and allowed Lana to make the more esoteric films she loved.

 

 

Toy Story – A revolution in animation, Toy Story broke all the rules and proved what John Lasiter always insisted on, compute graphic characters could elicit emotional reactions in the audience. Toy Story put Pixar on the map, run by Ed Catmul who was a friend of mine from Lucasfilm days. Pixar would be so successful that it would eventually absorb Disney animation. I think Walt would have approved.

 

Saving Private Ryan – One of Steven’s best “serious” films.

The Shawshank Redemption – A tour de force for Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in what could have been just another prison movie but was so much more.

 

 

Blair Witch Project – A strange little homemade project that was one of the first Internet projects to go viral. For awhile there was speculation that the tapes were real. It set the stage for many more Internet “films.”

5th Element – Just pure fun, great special effects, Bruce Willis being Bruce, Gary being Gary and Milla a breath of fresh air.

 

2000-2010 - Memento – This film's non-linear narrative was very unique for the time. It is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order (simulating for the audience the mental state of the protagonist). The two sequences meet at the end of the film, producing one complete and cohesive narrative. I used some of these same story devices when I designed interactive movies.

 

Children Of Men - A 2006 dystopian action thriller film of my second genre of future films. Ones that depict a world much like where ours is going but with some interesting twists.

 

 

 

District 9 – A totally original story by unknown writer/director Neill Blomkamp, who was part of Peter Jacksons studio in New Zealand. The film is partially presented in a found footage format by featuring fictional interviews, news footage, and video from surveillance cameras. It is a very unique take on alien visitors and a classic exercise of standing in the others shoes.

 

Avatar – Fairly typical eco-story, but a major step forward in motion graphics. Finally, they were able to get the eyes of the digital characters to have life in them.

 

 

 

High Fidelity – A total celebration of the vinyl records I grew up with.

 

 

 

 

2010-2020 - Ex Machina – an interesting take on AI development. Although the villain is fairly heavy handed and predictable, it presents a popular prediction of the seduction by a female AI of a human male. Particularly one who has no social graces or relationship experience. 

 

 

The Shape of Water – a magical tale of a “monster” amphibian creature that bonds with a mute female custodian in a secret government lab. In some ways it has elements of the odd couple of Ex Machina without the AI. Very original and a promise of things to come from director Guillermo del Toro

 

2020-2024 - Dune Part 1/ Part 2 – A very dramatic re-telling of Frank Hubert's classic sci-fi epic. It utilizes all the latest in digital film techniques without them getting in the way or calling attention to themselves. It promotes the story of revolution against the ruling class.

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Television Shows

 

1960’s

The Flintstones – animation for whole family -honeymooners

 

 

 

Leave It to Beaver – the all American fantasy family

 

 

 

77 Sunset Strip – 60’s cool featuring Ed "Kooky" Burns

 

 

 

Route 66 – Road Trip

 

 

 

Rocky and His Friends – adult animation Jay Ward

 

 

 

 

Mission: Impossible – The TV series with a the twist – tape will destruct

 

 

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In – Late 60's comedy

 

 

 

Sesame Street – classic children's television that inspired

 

 

Star Trek – original - where no man has gone before

 

 

 

Monty Python's Flying Circus – The boys at their best

 

 

 

The Twilight Zone – To Serve Man – Nightmare on Elm Street among others

 

 

 

 

1970’s

All in the Family - The rule breaker - what needed to be said out loud

 

 

 

Sanford and Son - Redd Fox of raunchy party record fame goes mainstream. Very funny.

 

 

 

Saturday Night Live – Original consistently funny - Belushi- Steve Martin Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Dan Ackroid  etc. Later years... not so much.

 

 

1980’s

V - inventive alien invasion story.

 

 

 

Max Headroom - acid comes to television.

 

 

 

 

Married… With Children - the sexual things said out loud

 

 

 

 

It’s Garry Shandling’s Show - brilliant parody of talk show architype

 

 

 

60 Minutes - the news goes somewhat deeper.

 

 

 

 

SCTV - for my money the most brilliant comedy assemble - most go on to greatness

 

 

 

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse - the weirdest children's show for adults

 

 

 

 

The Day After - Terrifying. The television movie that got Reagan scared enough to negotiate with Gorbachev about reducing our insane nuclear arsenals.

 

 

 

At the Movies - Gene Siskel, Roget Ebert - the original and best television film reviewers

 

 

Cheers - everyone's fantasy bar - When Sam and Diane got together it lost its energy.

 

 

 

 

1990’s

Stargate SG-1 - Televison series that was better than the movie. The only Sci-FI story that featured reptilian bad guys that were eating humans the logical reason for doing so.

 

 

Beavis and Butt-Head - Giving voice to the things that our low life selves couldn't.

 

 

 

In Living Color - the black version of Laugh-In featuring a very young Jim Carey as the token white guy

 

 

 

The Simpsons - Brilliant exploration of family and cultural archetypes.

 

 

 

The X-Files - At its best a brilliant exploration of unknown phenomena. Was less good when it became a "monster show." 

 

 

Seinfeld - At its best when the characters parodied our weird wonderful foibles. Was less good when it gave into mean and cynical behavior. The artificial laugh track was one of the worst. One of the worst final shows in television history. So bad, Seinfeld is still talking about it.

 

Twin Peaks – David Lynch - a dark small town murder mystery worthy of our attention. The sequel was terrible.

 

 

 

Southpark - Still some of the best irreverent writing on television. Not afraid to take on sacred cows. I originally saw the little Christmas card film that Trey and Matt sent to their friends - The Spirit of Christmas in 1995. It  featured Santa Claus and Jesus in a fight to the death that the series humor was based on. One of the funniest things I have ever experienced. I never thought they would get it on television.

 2000-2010

The Office - Classic remake of the British hit. As long as Michael was the lead we cared about this show. When he left and Andy became the lead it just got mean.

 

 

 

 

Band of Brothers - Right up there with Patton as a touching war story. Only this one was on the ground and in the trenches with the 101st Airborne. Their efforts to survive (many of them didn't) and finding a way to cope with the horror of their experience was something I have watched more than once. I have enjoyed watching the interviews with the real soldiers the book was based on. It reminds me that if you are ever thinking about going to war ask someone who has been through ground combat. They will say only as a last resort.

 

2010-2020

Veep - the only Seifeld alum that ever did anything worth something afterwords. Julia Dreyfus's comedic timing is spot on and its hard to imagine if even Seinfeld would have been half a successful without her.

 

 

 

Halt and Catch Fire - a really interesting dramatization of how the personal computer business began with companies making computer kits for hobbyists. Also a good case study of what success means with all its gifts and challenges.

 

 

Game of Thrones - took a while for me to get into this but ultimately it delivered.

 

 

 

 

The Americans - A fascinating case study of how culture can change your beliefs overtime.

 

Blacklist - an interesting twist on good guys/bad guys is not black and white but infinite shades of grey.

 

 

 

 

2020-2024

For All Mankind - a stimulating alternative history IF the Russians beat us to the moon. Makes the case that we will export some of our worst human qualities as we head out into space.

 

 

 

Homeland - an intricate look at the dirty world of spy craft and shifting loyalties.

 

 

 

Man in the High Castle - a terrifying look at an alternative history IF Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won world war II. It reminds us of how close we came to a different outcome. And could again.

 

 

 

Billions - an interesting journey into the world of high finance and the forces of justice. As in most things, the good and the bad are not black and white but so many shades of grey its hard to tell who is winning.

 

 

 

Three Body Problem - the latest in alien invasion tomes from a very interesting Chinese sci-fi writer. It offers two or three new twists on what humans can become in the future. The most interesting to me was the concept of feminisation of the violent part of the male archetype as humanities as the only hope for us homo-sapiens  evolving beyond our mad apes.

Books

These books played some part in expanding and stretching my view of the world beyond what I already thought I knew. Each contained a novel concept at the time I first read them. The novel concepts that stuck became part of my larger explanation of myself and Kosmos. They expanded my sense of how the universe fits together and the history of humans on this planet.

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1869 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne

I first came into contact with Jules Verne and his classic “Twenty Thousand Leagues”  as a kid. Later Verne became an interesting “future” predictor character for me. How could he have seen so much of the future if he had not lived it was the question I explored.

 

 

1933 – Shape of the Things To Come - HG Wells

My introduction to what the world might be like if scientists ran it. It turns out… not such a good thing. Their leadership required having superior technology to keep the masses in line. That ultimately turns into fascism.

 

 

 

1960’s

Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

A fictionalized account of the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden written by an American POW who lived through it. The more I learned about these allied air raids during WWII that killed many more civilians than when we dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

 

 

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

Novel concept of a Tesseract. – An individual capable of folding of time and space. This would foreshadow future knowledge that came to me about how the universe works. This book was a glimpse into the war between light and darkness, and good and evil, as the young characters wrestle with questions of spirituality and purpose, as they are often thrown into conflicts of love, divinity, and goodness.

(The movie they made of the book was awful)

 

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold - John le Carré.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold portrays Western espionage methods as morally inconsistent with Western democracy and values. Following WWII we gauged our involvement in other nations based on if it was in our best interest no matter the politics of our partner. Maybe that is why we have not advanced in our pursuit of freedom and justice. Its hard to hold the high ground if your rooting around in the mud.

 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X - Alex Haley

He turned out not to be who white culture said he was – he had exhausted his violent rhetoric and was circling back at time of his death Martin Luther King after his life changing pilgrimage to Mecca.

 

 

 

Silent Spring – Rachel Carlson

My introduction to the impact us modern humans were having on the natural world. Carson's scientific perspective and rigor created a work of substantial depth and credibility that sparked widespread debate within the scientific community and the broader public about the effect of pesticides on the natural world.

 

 

The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick

I love alternative histories of what could have been. Man in the High Castle was one of the best for me in that it portrayed a world where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won the second world war. Absolutely frightening and a reminder about how close we came to loosing. The television series made from the book was riveting.

 

On Death and Dying – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Introduced me to the five psychological/emotional stages leading up to death. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This began a long journey into the question... what happens when we die.

 

 

 

1970’s

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M Pirsig

            A penetrating examination of how we live and how to live better on a road trip

 

 

 

 

The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe

 

 

 

 

Another Roadside Attraction - Tom Robbins

            Amanda Ziller, dialogue between Jesus and Tarzan

 

 

 

 

Seven Arrows - Hyemeyohsts Storm

medicine wheel/medicine cards

 

 

1980s

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera,

 

 

 

 

 

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer

 

 

 

 

The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel

 

 

 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes - Fannie Flagg

 

 

 

 

 

Contact - Carl Sagan

            Robert Zemeckis clumsy send up of religion and science

 

 

 

A Brief History of Time - Stephen William Hawking

 

 

 

 

 

The Tracker: The True Story of Tom Brown Jr. – Tom Brown

 

 

 

 

1990’s

The Green Mile – Stephen King

 

 

 

 

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings - Charles H. Hapgood

 

 

 

 

Red Mars - Green Mars - Blue Mars – Classic trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

 

 

 

 

Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact - Vine Deloria Jr.

            Crossing the Bering strait

 

2000’s

 

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

 

 

 

 

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

            Alternative jesus mary magdelyn history

 

 

 

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

 

 

 

The Shack - William P. Young

 

 

 

 

The Singularity Is Near - Ray Kurzweil

 

 

 

 

Up From Eden – Ken Wilber

 

 

 

 

Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening – Father Thomas Keating

 

 

 

 

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond

 

 

 

 

2010s

Proof of Heaven - Eben Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost City of the Monkey God - Douglas Preston.

used LiDAR to search for archaeological sites in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

 

 

 

River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon - Buddy Levy

 

 

 

Life 3.0 - Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence- Max Tegmark

            How will Artificial Intelligence affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human? The rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology

 

 

Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security - Sarah Chayes

 

 

 

 

2021-2024

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity - David Graeber David Wengrow

            A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution―from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality―and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation.

 

Ministry of the Future – Kim Stanley Robinson

 

 

 

3 Body Problem Trilogy - Cixin Liu

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