Category Archives: Reference

Movies to Seek Out

It’s no mistake that I’ve always been a movie geek. Every Friday in high school we’d head down to the Pickwick Theatre for whatever was showing. When you could rent VHS movies, I became addicted, especially when I lived alone in downtown Chicago – it was my main form of escape. Now, Susan and I look forward to our Sunday matinee in front of our widescreen TV at home.

When done right, a movie is an experience like no other – it can affect you in so many ways, from the plotting to the acting to the writing to the beautiful images and incredible places it takes you.

The list below reflects about thirty-plus years of serious movie watching, but all the movies aren’t serious – far from it. It doesn’t cover every movie I’ve loved, but rather the ones that have remained burned in my mind’s eye as something truly amazing to see.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester

Apocalypse Now (1979) *
Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

Arrival (2016)
Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Baby Driver (2017)
Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm

The Big Sleep (1946)
Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

Blade Runner (1982) *
Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young

The Blues Brothers (1980)
John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cab Calloway

Bridesmaids (2011)
Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren

District 9 (2009)
Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope

Django Unchained (2012)
Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden

Ex Machina (2014)
Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Fargo (1996)
William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi

Gladiator (2000)
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric

The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall

Harold and Maude (1971)
Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles

The Iron Giant (1999)
Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston

Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell

Léon: The Professional (1994)
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman

The Long Goodbye (1973)
Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden

Lost in Translation (2003) *
Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) *
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle

My Dinner with Andre (1981)
Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory

O Lucky Man! (1973) *
Malcolm McDowell, Ralph Richardson, Rachel Roberts

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López

The Princess Bride (1987)
Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright

Pulp Fiction (1994)
John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson

Rogue One (2016)
Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

Snowpiercer (2013)
Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton

Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina

Stop Making Sense (1984)
Talking Heads

Streets of Fire (1984)
Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis

The Thin Man (1934)
William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan

True Stories (1986)
David Byrne, John Goodman

Unforgiven (1992)
Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman

Whiplash (2014)
Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

Wonder Woman (2017)
Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Young Frankenstein (1974)
Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman

Zombieland (2009)
Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson

* – Movies about which I have said “Wow, this is the best movie I’ve ever seen!”

Reading List

Reading is one of the great pleasures in life. Take time, every day is possible, to read, even if it’s only just a few minutes. It’s relaxing, expands your mind and your library of experiences and provides a much-needed challenge to your ideas and values.

Below is an ever-incomplete, always-updated list of fiction and non-fiction that has made a difference in my life. Give a few titles a try! Many thanks to Jess Bybee for requesting this and forcing me to organize this resource and get it posted!


7th Sigma
Steven Gould

American Gods
Neil Gaiman

The Armageddon Rag
George R.R. Martin

Company of Liars
Karen Maitland

Constellation Games
Leonard Richardson

Crooked Little Vein
Warren Ellis

Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury

The Doomsday Book
Connie Willis

The Drowned Cities
Paolo Bacigalupi

Easy in the Islands
Bob Shacochis

Farewell, I’m Bound to Leave You: Stories
Fred Chappell

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogoy)
Mira Grant

Peter Stenson

Freaky Deaky
Elmore Leonard

Gold Bug Variations
Richard Powers

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett

Greasy Lake and Other Stories
T. Coraghessan Boyle

I Am One of You Forever
Fred Chappell

Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino

William S. Burroughs

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
J. Ryan Stradal

The Lady in the Lake
Raymond Chandler

The Last Good Kiss
James Crumly

Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America
Brian Francis Slattery

Liminal States
Zach Parsons

Little Brother
Cory Doctorow

The Long Goodbye
Raymond Chandler

The Milkweed Triptych
Ian Trellis

Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology
Bruce Sterling (editor)

Neuromancer trilogy
William Gibson

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman

On Stranger Tides
Tim Powers

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus
Orson Scott Card

The Peripheral
William Gibson

Playing For Keeps
Mur Lafferty

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline

River of Gods
Ian McDonald

Sandman Slim novels
Richard Kadrey

Paolo Bacigalupi

The Simple Art of Murder
Raymond Chandler

Speaker for the Dead (need to read Ender’s Game first)
Orson Scott Card

Songs of Fire and Ice
George R.R. Martin

Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance
Richard Powers

Time and Again
Jack Finney

The Twenty Year Death
Ariel Winter

Too Like the Lightning
Ada Palmer

Under the Poppy
Kathe Koja

The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi


Architecture: Form, Space, Order
Francis Chin

American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields
Rowan Jacobsen

Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us
Maggie Koerth-Baker

Brain Rules
John Medina

Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism
Richard C. Longworth

The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson

The Education of Henry Adams
Henry Adams

The Elegant Universe
Brian Greene

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Hunter S. Thompson

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
James Gleick

Getting Things Done
David Allen

The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Joseph Campbell

How Music Works
David Byrne

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood
James Gleick

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
Dana Boyd

Justinian’s Flea
William Rosen

Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain

Keith Richards

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Michael Pollan

Parallel Worlds
Michio Kaku

Reality is Broken
Jane McGonigal

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
Matthew Crawford

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman
Richard Feynman

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin

Theodore Roosevelt biography trilogy
Edmund Morris

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Malcolm Gladwell

Understanding Comics
Scott McCloud

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Jared Diamond

Dave Eggers

If you are interested, like I am, in game development, writing and psychology, here is the great “Game Designer’s Bookshelf” list from the Game Designer’s Workshop:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

-Victor Frankl

…and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

-The Beatles

Household Needs


  • Utilities (Gas, Electric, Water)
  • Homeowners or renters insurance
  • TV/video (Do you need it? Cable, satellite or Internet?)
  • Phone (Landline or cell?)
  • How will you get Internet?
  • Laundry (Do you do at home? Where is the best laundromat and dry cleaner?)

Essential inside gear

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom/dust pan
  • Paper towels
  • Duct tape
  • WD-40
  • Basic tool set
  • Trash bags
  • Several boxes of Kleenix
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Candles and matches

Car Needs

  • Know where your car title is (don’t keep in car!)
  • Car insurance (at least $500 deductible)
  • Don’t forget to renew your plates each year
  • Best place in town for repairs?
  • Best place for a quick oil change? (get one every 3,000 miles!)
  • Best place in town for gas?
  • Have insurance info and registration in glove compartment
  • Know how to change a tire
  • Jumper cables in trunk (learn how to jump your car)

Information You’ll Need

  • Phone numbers, emails and addresses of immediate family
  • Password and usernames for online accounts
  • Name, phone number and address of primary-care physician
  • Banking establishments, contact info and account numbers
  • Photocopies of all of your IDs
  • Information on your Internet access account

Basic Needs


  • Where do you get your staples?
  • Where can you get something quick, like milk or eggs?
  • Where can you save the most money?

Health insurance

  • Until it’s a work benefit, get a high deductible, cheap plan (but don’t go without!)

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

-Maya Angelou

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.

-Henry James