Wednesday, August 03, 2005


One of my favorite bloggers ever, The Real Sam Johnson (as with Porsche, there is no substitute), pinged me on a meme. Now, you SSTOL regulars know I don't do memes here generally — I think I've maybe done one in the year-plus SSTOL has been polluting cyberspace, and I must have been desperate that day. However, because Sam is my second-favorite Johnson (after Magic; what did you think I meant?), I'll play along in my own inimitable way.

Here are the first three sections of this five-part meme, and my responses thereto:

Five Light Reads
  1. Any Spenser novel — Robert B. Parker. My favorites are The Judas Goat and Early Autumn. Parker is, quite simply, The Man. Yes, he's gotten lazier and breezier as he's expanded his repertoire with additional series, but for a great speedy read, there's nobody better.
  2. The Comic Book Heroes — Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs. The most-thumbed book in my bathroom, hands down.
  3. The Caves of Steel — Isaac Asimov. Probably my favorite science fiction novel, by one of my favorite authors.
  4. The Straight Dope (or any of its sequel volumes) — Cecil Adams. Many imitators. No equals.
  5. The Great Movies — Roger Ebert. Uncle Roger is the man who made me want to be a film critic.
Five Reads To Make Me Think
  1. The Bible — God. Do I really need to explain this?
  2. The New Historical Baseball Abstract — Bill James. I learn something new every time I open it.
  3. Exit the Rainmaker — Jonathan Coleman. A fascinating real-life character study about a man who had everything and walked away from it all. Twice.
  4. Why Black People Tend to Shout — Ralph Wiley. I miss Ralph. One of the truly majestic voices of this generation.
  5. The Elements of Style — William Strunk and E.B. White. After #1 (okay, a very distant second), maybe the most useful book ever written.
Five Songs That Turn Me On
  1. "In the Air Tonight" — Phil Collins. Two words: Risky Business.
  2. "Here Comes the Rain Again" — Eurythmics. Two words: Annie Lennox.
  3. "More Than Love" — Los Lonely Boys. Quite possibly, the most evocative love song lyrics of the new millennium to date.
  4. "You Send Me" — Sam Cooke. What can I say? I'm old school.
  5. "Fat Bottomed Girls" — Queen. Well... you asked what turned me on.
The last two sections of the meme Sam forwarded ask for Five Best Movie Dramas and Five Best Movie Comedies. The notion that anyone could pick the five "best" examples of any category of film is, in my not-so-humble opinion, presumptuous and silly. Even choosing only five favorites in each category is a stretch — ask me on a dozen days and I'll give you a dozen different lists, depending upon (a) my mood, and (b) my memory that day.

So instead, I'll offer up:

Twenty-Five Movies Uncle Swan Would Want Along If He Were a Character on Lost

These are 25 films I could watch again and again in perpetuity — not necessarily my list of the "best" (whatever that means) 25 films ever made, but 25 I never tire of viewing repeatedly.

In alphabetical order:
  1. The Abyss. 2001, only with water and soul.
  2. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and Big Trouble in Little China. I'm going to fudge and count these as one, because the latter was born from the ashes of the script for the sequel to the former ("Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League").
  3. Blazing Saddles. Quite simply, the funniest movie I've ever seen.
  4. Casablanca. We'll always have Paris.
  5. Die Hard. Welcome to the party, pal -- the only action movie you'll ever need to see.
  6. Double Indemnity. One of the three most seductive female villains in the history of the movies. You'll find the others in The Last Seduction and The Spanish Prisoner, two films that barely missed making this list.
  7. Enter the Dragon. Lee... Bruce Lee. "It's like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all the heavenly glory." More wonderfully cheesy dialogue than you can shake the '70s at. John Saxon does kung fu. Jim Kelly does kung fro. And of course, tons o' Bruce dishing out the jeet kune do.
  8. Fargo. Every time I watch this film, I'm more amazed at just how clever it is.
  9. Heavy Metal. Call it adolescent nostalgia if you must, but I get the jones to watch this at least once a month, like clockwork.
  10. L.A. Confidential. Incredible script, incredible acting, incredible atmosphere. The finest of the neo-noir pastiches, by a Los Angeles mile.
  11. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It's fair, I think, to consider this a single epic film in three parts.
  12. Memento. Had a more profound first-viewing impact on me than any film since I first saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  13. A Mighty Wind. The funniest film since Blazing Saddles.
  14. The Natural. If I can only pick one baseball movie, it's the legend of Roy Hobbs, by a whisker over Bull Durham and Field of Dreams.
  15. Ocean's Eleven. "You're either in or out." Count me in. Just barely ahead of Soderbergh's Out of Sight, only because it's a little more fun.
  16. Once Upon a Time in the West. Greatest. Western. Ever. Though I hate to leave Unforgiven off the list.
  17. On Her Majesty's Secret Service. If I could only have one Bond, it would be this one. Lazenby aside, OHMSS is the best-made film in the series.
  18. The Princess Bride. Perhaps the most perfect family film ever.
  19. Princess Mononoke. Spirited Away is a more monumental cinematic achievement, but Mononoke is a wall-to-wall wonder, and again, more fun.
  20. Psycho. Forty-five years later, horrormeisters are still playing catch-up.
  21. Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can keep the two inferior sequels. The swordsman gag and Karen Allen's bottomless eyes would be worth the honor all by themselves.
  22. Ronin. John Frankenheimer's last masterpiece, and maybe the last time De Niro acted as if he cared about something other than a paycheck.
  23. Streets of Fire. "Tom Cody. Pleased ta meet ya." Wins the Walter Hill spot ahead of 48 Hrs. and The Warriors. Sorry about the career these days, Walter. But you were a giant once.
  24. Tremors. The quintessential monster movie. Whatever happened to Finn Carter, anyway?
  25. The Usual Suspects. One of the cinema's most compelling mysteries, and one of its most amazing ensemble casts.
Are you happy now, Sam?

5 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Sam offered these pearls of wisdom...

I'm glad that this wil be the only meme you do this year. I just feel crappy that I didn't come up with it myself.

Thank you for making me your seconmd favorite Johnson, by the way....I think.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Re: Johnson.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry, Blue Beetle moment there (and may his soul rest in peace. You HAVE been reading Prelude to Infinite Crisis, right?)

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Hi there, Mr. Swan Shadow sir, I'm a relatively new reader and fellow Comic-Art fans member and I've been enjoying your blog entries for a couple of months now. However, I'm prompted to write because of an error in your recent meme.

You said, re: Buckaroo Banzai and Big Trouble: "I'm going to fudge and count these as one, because the latter was born from the ashes of the script for the sequel to the former ("Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League")." This is incorrect.

The original script for Big Trouble was a Western that took place in old San Francisco (replace "truck" with "horse" and you'll see what I mean.), but John Carpenter felt that it was too much to ask the audience to come into the reality of the old west THEN into the mystical reality of Little China. So he hired Banzai director W.D. Richter to rewrite the script in modern day.

The ashes of World Crime League were reborn as a TV pilot script for Fox a few years ago, but Fox passed on the project.

If you are interested, there's a great site for fans of Buckaroo Banzai at I'm not affiliated with it except in spirit.

Keith Holt
(BBI Shadow)

6:10 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Thanks for the correction, Keith.

I'd heard some years ago the account of the genesis of Big Trouble in Little China as I noted it in this post, and I recall having seen it in at least two online resources (one of which was IMDB, if memory serves). I was unaware that a more accurate version of the events had come to light.

Glad to have the straight scoop! Thnaks again!

6:20 PM  
Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

Fat Bottomed Girls turns you on. I think I've officially entered the territory of TMI, Too Much Information.:)

6:25 AM  

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