Top 100 Album Review: #50 – Here’s Little Richard, Little Richard (1957)

Wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bom-bom!

Little Richard screams, wails and whoops his way through this juke-box-jam of a debut album.

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #50/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I have no idea what the onomatopoeia should be for the Little Richard wail he does in every song. It deserves to have it’s own spelling — it’s infectious and oozes with energy. This whole album is rockin’, making you want to Bop and Jitterbug your night away.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #12 – Sunset Blvd. (1950)

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

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Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, an old washed-up silent movie star.

American Film Institute Ranking: #12/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for eleven, won three including best original screenplay but none of the biggies.
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I really enjoyed this movie. A lot.

There are a lot of different angles, and it’s all packed into a tight presentation: a critique of hollywood; an unintentional period piece; purposeful inside references; old vs. new. The end result is a poignant insight into a time long gone, showing the underbelly of show biz that has been there since the very beginning.

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The Top 100 Book Review: A Death in the Family – James Agee (1957)

Beautiful Writing, Tepid Story

“We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.”

Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star

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I almost hate myself for doing this: a book that is so beautifully written with descriptions of life that burst from the page getting only two stars. There were times I put the book down and really took a moment to live the words. That’s how good this writing is. Take a moment to take in this excerpt below:

“Before long the city thinned out into the darkened evidences of the kind of flea-bitten semi-rurality which always peculiarly depressed him: mean little homes, and other inexplicably new and substantial, set too close together for any satisfying rural privacy or use, too far, too shapelessly apart to have adherences as any kind of community; mean little pieces of ill-cultivated land behind them, and alongside the road, between them, trash and slash and broken sheds and rained-out billboards: he passed a late, late streetcar, no passengers abroad, far out near the end of its run.”

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Top 100 Book Review: Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin (1953)

Electric Writing and Powerful Characters

“There are people in the world for whom “coming along” is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive.”

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Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Somehow as a senior in high school, they decided that it was a good idea to have school only every other day. I was taking community college classes at night, so they put all my other classes a on an “A” day, which left me with way too much free time. Outside of Madden ’06, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II, and creating  a 20×20 mural for the prom theme of a Midsummer Night’s dream, I did a lot of reading.

I’m not even sure how I found Go Tell It on the Mountain back then, but I remember it being a good read full of fiery language had a bizarre ending.

That opinion still stands.

James Baldwin was born in 1924 and grew up in Harlem with a preacher step-father. He ended up moving and living in Paris as he wanted to get away from american racism as well as homophobic culture. Go Tell It on the Mountain can be viewed as a semi-autobiography as the protagonist, John, grows up in Harlem himself in a religious household as Baldwin weaves themes of gender and sexuality into the story.

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