In a relatively quiet day around the KSR offices, where the biggest story was about a Playboy bunny’s fall at Indiana, it seemed like a good time to dust off the old KSR Pick machine and give another round of suggestions for your entertainment pleasure. To kick them off, why not one of my favorite pictures in UK sports history.. Back in the heady late 90s time of Kentucky basketball, the rise of the Cats corresponded with the rise of WCW and led to this picture of the “Kentucky World Order.” Now having your picture made with Lex Luger might not seem like a big accomplishment, but at the time it was quite the coup. Had the KSR world been in full effect then, this picture would have taken on an “Adam Sandler wearing a UK t-shirt in ‘Funny People’ type life of its own”, but unfortunately it has often been forgotten in the dustpan of UK history. No more…Padgett, Evans and Turner mixing it up with the former heir to the Ric Flair throne should remain a classic piece of UK lore.
Now to the recommendations:
Again, my requirement is that these movies be available streaming on Netflix, so that in theory you could watch them right now. Some suggestions:
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: You probably know about the book and chances are you know that its big movie adaption is coming out next week to take over America. But you may not know about this earlier Swedish version of the film that is the highest grossing Scandinavian movie in history. As a minor fan of the book, I was thoroughly impressed with the movie’s ability to bring the story to life and hold my interest through 150 minutes of subtitles. I am rooting for the American version to be good, but I might suggest watching this one first, especially if you have never been introduced to the series.
HARLAN COUNTY USA: One of the best documentaries I have ever encountered was filmed just miles from where I grew up. Harlan County USA is the story of a coal miner’s strike in the 1970s and showcases some of the most vivid imagery I have ever remember seeing on the screen. You have company men and their scab workers with guns, while coal miners on strike and their supportive wives battle on the other side. It is a fascinating look at an oft-forgotten part of our state’s history and is a must watch for any Kentuckian.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOW’S YOUR DEAD: The final film by Director Sidney Lumet stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke. The two brothers attempt to find a way to make needed cash and come up a plan to set up a robbery of their parents’ jewelry store. Their plan goes wrong and the next 90 minutes showcase their attempts to avoid the disaster of their missed opportunity. Hoffman is one of my five favorite actors and this is him at his smarmy best.
BEFORE SUNRISE: This movie has a very specific recommendation attached to it. The Ethan Hawke film is wordy and should never be taken in by a male alone. However, if you are on a date and are interested in setting the mood or have a female that you would truly like to impress/woo, put this on. It isn’t going to give you any new insight on life, but as far as a date movie, you cannot do better. Trust me.
FRANK SINATRA HAS A COLD: Written in 1966, this portrait of Frank Sinatra is, in my opinion, the best profile of anyone that I have ever read. Even though it is now 45 years old, the article will make you believe Sinatra is right in front of you, and possibly the coolest man in the world. It is one of the best examples of what was then called “New Journalism” and is a piece I read once a year to remind myself how it should be done.
TIGHT COLLAR: If you are a fan, as I am, of Greg Norman, the the subject of choking is one of fascination. This piece from 2011 looks at choking from the biological perspective to see if there is anything to the phenomenon that we all accept as a reality. Very interesting to read and worth remembering the next time we have a key free throw up one on the road with 5.6 seconds remaining.
THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS DECADENT AND DEPRAVED: I would assume you have read this, but if not, it is a must. Kentuckian Hunter S Thompson details a trip to the Kentucky Derby in 1970 that is just as the title suggests. If you are like me and a sucker for anything well-done about your home state, then this is the most important piece on this list. It is also an example of descriptive writing at its best. Every time I read it, I feel like I am hanging with Thompson and his odd friend, and I wonder what is wrong with my trips to Churchill.
CAN YOU SAY…HERO?: A profile of Mr. Rogers. I never thought the PBS star would be worth reading even two paragraphs about, much less an entire article. But it turns out that Mr. Rogers is not only a good neighbor, but also very interesting.
For reasons that aren’t clear, Will Ferrell decided he wanted to do commercials for Old Milwaukee Beer. The company apparently had no interest in paying him, so he volunteered to do them so long as Old Milwaukee would run them in one location. The company and Ferrell apparently chose Davenport, Iowa, and thus the three commercials below are apparently running on local television there. They are brilliant and the bizarre story of how they were made makes them even better:
THE IMPERFECTIONISTS: I tend to have a bit of a scatter brain, thus I often read 4 or 5 books at once and space them over the course of a couple of weeks. But recently I got through the novel “The Imperfectionists” in 24 hours, and loved every minute of it. The story of 10 employees of an English language newspaper in Rome is great for those interested in what it is like behind the scenes of a newsroom. However, its biggest strength is telling 10 vivid stories, each of which could have been their own novel and having them all wrap together along the way. Well worth a pickup.
HELLHOUND ON HIS TRAIL: The best pieces of nonfiction can read like novels and this account of the lead-up to the Martin Luther King assassination and the subsequent search for the killer is as good as any piece of fiction. Even though I knew who did it and what his final fate will be, I was mesmerized by the story and captivated by the international manhunt created to find King’s killer. A great piece of history that everyone will like.
THE DEVIL AND SONNY LISTON: Most people reading this know little of Sonny Liston but his name, however this biography will make him a figure you will not forget. Liston grew up poor in rural Arkansas and ended up in state prison. There he became a massive fighter who upon his release rose to Heavyweight champion of the world. He was illiterate and those with sinister motives took advantage of him from day one in order to make him into a tragic and compelling figure. I read this book for the first time nearly a decade ago, but scenes from it still come back to me vividly to this day.
There you go…some stuff to help you pass the time. If you have any suggestions for future editions, let me know.