Friday, July 10, 2009

Top Ten II


We’ve done this before. Here are my new, random and exciting top ten lists:

Guitar Oriented Rock Songs

10 Layla by Derek and the Dominoes (Clapton/Allman)
9 Hocus Pocus by Focus
8 The Harder They Fall by Jerry Garcia (concert version)
7 Wham by Stevie Ray Vaughn
6 Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
5 Legs by ZZ Top
4 Green Grass and High Tides Forever by The Outlaws
3 Jessica by The Allman Brothers
2 Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
1 Sabre Dance – Love Sculptre (Dave Edmunds)

Movie/Television Karate Guys

10 Steven Seagal (His first five, Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice, Under Siege and then a short role in Kurt Russell's Executive Decision were his best)
9 Jackie Chan (unique combination of kung fu and comedy)
8 Jean Claude Van Damme (Bloodsport was his class the classic, but there were many great ones)
7 Keanu Reeves (What? The Matrix trilogy dummies; I don’t care if it was computerized)
6 Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.)
5 Bolo Yeung (a muscle bound Bruce Lee protégé – Enter the Dragon, Chinese Hercules, Bloodsport, etc.)
4 Yuen Biao (I don’t think he ever made a Hollywood movie, but a Bruce Lee type)
3 David Carradine (Kung Fu)
2 Chuck Norris (Walker Texas Ranger and the last standing bad guy in The Way of the Dragon)
1 Bruce Lee (I mean, there’s no question – all the movies plus Kato)

Obviously, I'm not a Jet Li fan. I thought his best role was was as a bad guy in one of the Lethal Weapon movies.

Movie sword fights

10 Rob Roy (Liam Neeson v. Tim Roth)
9 House of Flying Daggers (Takeshi Kaneshiro v. Andy Lau)
8 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Zhang Ziyi v. Michelle Yeoh)
7 Star Wars II (Christopher Lee v. Yoda)
6 The Three Musketeers (Gene Kelly v. Some unknown actors playing one of the Cardinal’s Guard)
5 Pirates of the Caribbean (Orlando Bloom v. Johnny Depp)
4 The Princess Bride (Cary Elwes v. Mandy Patinkin)
3 Robin Hood (Errol Flynn v. Basil Rathbone)
2 The Court Jester (Danny Kaye v. Basil Rathbone – please watch the video; both a great fight and hysterical; Danny Kaye could do anything)
1 The Mark of Zorro (Tyrone Power v. Basil Rathbone – you get the point about Basil Rathbone yet)

Historical Generals preceding Napoleon (non-American)

10 Saladin (the great Kurdish warrior who showed the Crusaders what chivalry meant)
9 Gyllipus (a Spartan general, sent to Sicily, helped the colony beat the supposedly vastly superior Athenian Navy)
8 Julius Caesar (perhaps Rome’s greatest general other than Scipio)
7 Attila the Hun (if not murdered, maybe history would be different and we’d all be speaking modern Hunnish now instead of a Germanic language)
6 Themistocles (maybe the key figure in stopping Persia from conquering Greece in the early 5th century BC)
5 Subotai (Ghengis Khan’s greatest general; used tactics Eurpope hadn’t even thought of; I may be underrating him)
4 Charles XII (Sweden’s King; he was Europe’s greatest general of his era; I've posted on him before)
3 Alexander the Great (lots of old Greeks here, I suppose, but I like old Greeks)
2 Hannibal Barca (he virtually broke the mold and made fools of the Romans)
1 Scipio Africanus (because he beat Hannibal)

lines from Shakespeare

10 Now is the Winter of our discontent. (Richard III)
9 Brevity is the soul of wit. (Hamlet)
8 Et tu, Brute. (Julius Caesar)
7 Hoisted by his own petard. (Hamlet)
6 Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. (Macbeth)
5 Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. (Macbeth)
4 Cry “Havoc” and let slip the dogs of war. (Julius Caesar)
3 This above all: To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst then not be false to any man. (Hamlet)
2 There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Hamlet, again – because it was the best)
1 But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the Sun. (Romeo and Juliet)

historical mysteries that we’d like to know the truth about

10 Did space aliens crash land in Roswell, New Mexico? (no)
9 Are aliens stored at Area 51? (no)
8 Did Shakespeare write his plays? (of course, he did)
7 Who was Jack the Ripper? (I have no idea)
6 Who was Homer, if anyone? Man, women, a group of poets, etc.? (my guess is that there was a Homer, but he is only one of many poets who added to the story or was just a well known singer)
5 Was there an Atlantis? (No; possibly Crete or some other island off an advanced civilization [Egypt? Phoenicia?] inspired the belief. Plato mentions it in two dialogues, but as he places it nearly 10,000 years previous to his time, his account lacks credibility; but; in any event, it wasn’t a continent in the Atlantic Ocean)
4 What happened to Judge Crater? (This is a long and fascinating story, but, essentially, in 1930, this NY Supreme Court Judge had dinner with a couple and disappeared into a cab – forever. I like to think he ran off with a showgirl)
3 Was there an historical Jesus? (I’ve posted on this question and argued yes)
2 Was there an historical Buddha? (a much tougher question; who knows)
1 How did Marilyn Monroe die? If there really was a Kennedy connection, that would make news)

favorite words

10 angel (not a rare word, but I’ve always like it)
9 jeremiad (from the biblical prophet; a long angry complaint)
8 quixotic (a few meanings from Don Quixote’s character, overly romantic or fanciful)
7 sycophant (a suck up)
6. fulgent (very bright or shiny)
5 niddering (a coward)
4 muliebrity (being a woman)
3 velleity (a mild desire to do something)
2 apotheosesis (the sudden breaking off of thought; the last three words I learned from the author Bill Bryson's wonderful The Mother Tongue)
1 mellifluous (something like eloquent, but sweeter – melli means honey)

Mythological characters

10 The two angels from Jehovah who visit Lot in Sodom in the Bible. No names. A great mysterious touch to the story
9 Bellerophon (tamed Pegasus, slew a chimera and other great feats)
8 Skinnr (a servant of the Norse god, Freyr, he goes to woo a giantess for his boss with a few magical instruments)
7 Ganesha (Hindu elephant headed god)
6 Loki (the Norse trickster; he’s what made the Norse saga interesting)
5 Andromache (I have a soft spot for the wife of Hector, whose husband was killed by Achilles in the Iliad; Hector and Andromache are the most sympathetic couple in all mythology)
4 Prometheus (the titan who gave man fire; he was tortured by the gods until freed by Hercules)
3 Enkidu (this half man, half beast from the Epic of Gilgamesh was far more noble than the hero of the epic and paid for his friendship with his life)
2 Odin (the mysterious old one eyed father of the gods, wandering among mortal men with his staff in hand, who sacrified himself more than Zeus would ever consider)
1 Thor (I always loved this incredibly strong, sometimes angry, but heroic Norse god; often ranked below his father, Odin, but at an earlier time before Odin's worship came to Scandinavia, he was a more important god and probably always the favorite)

You might not care, but it bothers me that I had to leave out Beowulf, Sigurd, Pan, Cheiron the centaur and the American Indidan trickster, Coyote.

American Icons

They must be dead, have been born or lived in America for a significant period of time and their image must be imprinted in our heads.

10 Mae West
9 Babe Ruth
8 Teddy Roosevelt
7 Albert Einstein
6 Dan Rice (A 19th century clown who was the model for Uncle Sam)
5 Humphrey Bogart
4 Jackie Onassis
3 Mark Twain
2 Elvis Presley
1 Marilyn Monroe

Sitting Bull almost made the list and Michael Jackson, freshly dead, might put out someone at some point. The list though is probably geered to my age group and older. I don't know if a 35 year old would know many of them. It be a good test.

Places I would love to go to

10 Hawaii (saving it for my honeymoon, so, probably never will)
9 Minnesota (since I’m a kid; why I can’t say)
8 Australia (also since I’m a kid; my first chosen destination and yet I’ve never been there)
7 Rome, Italy (been to Italy thrice, but never there)
6 Scotland (the lure of the moors)
5 Egypt (obvious reasons)
4 Zion National Park, Utah
3 Macchu Picu (I fear it may be ruined by tourism and technology by the time I get there)
2 Canyon de Chelly (you need an Indian guide to go in; a little Grand Canyon featured in the film Contact)
1 New Zealand (a hiking trip, preferably)

Places I’d love to go back to

10 The Black Forest, Germany (one of the two most beautiful forests I’ve ever been in and dotted with Hansel and Gretel little villages, not to mention Heidelberg)
9 Niagara on the Lake, Ontario (not the falls, but a little ways from there; a wonderfully pretty little town)
8 Grand Canyon (maybe the most spectacular place I’ve ever been)
7 New Orleans (exactly what you think it be; I think "fun" covers it)
6 San Francisco (took my breath away first time I saw it from a height; in my mind the prettiest city in America)
5 St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (beautiful and peaceful)
4 Florence, Italy (been there twice and could go back many times – doubt there is a better place to look at Renaissance art)
3 Santa Margherita, Italy (a beautiful town on the Italian Riviera)
2 Galeria, Corsica (a tiny fishing village with a few small hotels; a quiet paradise where you start to recognize the town dogs after a couple of days; not for those who crave night life)
1 Matala, Greece (little tourist town on the Southern Coast of Crete surrounded by little hills riddled with caves)

Powerful Senators who never became president (rated on importance and achievements, not my preferences)

10 Henry Cabot Lodge (Harvard's first history Ph.D and an imperialist, he battled Wilson over the League of Nations; a powerful figure who could never manage his way into a presidential nomination)
9 William Crawford (lost to Monroe and J. Q. Adams; one of those very prominent men we no longer ever discuss)
8 William Seward (wasn’t president because Lincoln beat him in the primaries and he became his secretary of State, serving until the end of Johnson's term, he almost died with Lincoln in the same plot)
7 Thomas Hart Benton (served longer than anyone at that time; a peer of Clay, Calhoun and Webster and quite a career – never ran though. He dueled with Jackson and then became a big supporter)
6 Richard Russell, Jr. (Nearly 40 years in the Senate, this Georgian white supremacist dominated there for decades, opposing civil rights the whole way but very strong on national defense. He tried for the presidency once, but Northern Democrats blocked him)
5 William Jennings Bryan (a great orator, prohibitionist and inventor of the stump speech; he lost twice to McKinley and once to Taft; famous for role in the Scopes Monkey Trial)
4 John C. Calhoun (protector of states rights and slavery, but considered a man of great character; he was twice VP)
3 Henry Clay (The Great Compromisor over slavery and inventor of the American System of infrastructure improvement; he ran thrice; involved in the the "corrupt bargain" that made J. Q. Adams president)
2 Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (once rated by historians as the greatest Senator tied with Henry Clay; ran for president in 1924 as a third party and actually got about one in 6 votes, but Coolidge was in office already after Harding died and ran away with it)
1 Daniel Webster (one of the greatest American orators and of the triumvirate with Clay and Calhoun; admittedly, I like him best because of the short story, The Devil and Daniel Webster, with which he has nothing to do)

Apologies to Michael Mansfield, who should be in there somewhere.


  1. Conchis9:05 AM

    Is there a category in which to place the "karate" scene from Wayne's World 2? One of the funniest scenes on film -- in a movie that has little else to commend itself.

  2. Nothing else to commend itself?

    Kim Basinger!!!! Hellooooo!

  3. Conchis5:08 PM

    All I can say is: "Schwing".

  4. For your consideration, a few additions:
    Guitar Songs:
    1.Whole Lotta love(Led Zeppelin)

    2. Ghost Riders in the Sky (Outlaws or Marshall Tucker versions)
    3.China Grove (Doobie Brothers)

    Karate: How about Sonny Chiba??

    Sword Fight: Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin (Princess Bride)

    Shakespeare: Let's kill the lawyers (naturally)

    Fav Words: Prestidigitate

    Powerful Senators: LBJ

    Mythological Creatures: The attractive and sexy feminist (couldn't resist)


    Didn't see part in Senators about not becoming Prez.

  6. I love Ghost Riders in the Sky and have actually been thinking about that song lately. Top 20 easily.

    Not a Sonny Chiba fan. Believe it or not, I did some research before choosing and looked at some Chiba scenes. Certainly he was a big star in his day. I also didn't have any Mifune sword fights (I watched a bunch to make sure) in there because they were boring. Some one charges, he slashes without moving much and they are dead. And then again, and again and again. Not that exciting.

    Princess Bride sword fight was, in fact, number 4, Magoo. Only the three classic Basil Rathbone fights were rated higher.

    Good line on mythology, although, truth be told, I have met a few gorgeous feminists.

    Glad you caught yourself on LBJ or you would have gotten some end of the year award.

    Presdidigiate? Okay, it is a very subjective category, unlike all the rest.


  7. Sorry about being unclear on Princess Bride. I meant to say it should be (IMAO) number 1.

  8. Just watch the videos on my top three. It can't be first, as good as it was.

    I use IMHO for "in my humble opinion" (I don't know if that is a - thing - I actually thought I made it up). I'm afraid to ask what IMAO might mean, but I know it's not humble.

  9. I just googled it - apparently, I didn't make it up. Reminds me of the time I thought I invented yodeling.

  10. Oh well, you don't get royalties.

    I watched the videos.
    On pure swordsmanship you are right they are superior.
    One of the things I liked about Princess was the (apparent) ambidexterous aspect. Of course I don't know if there was computer help.

  11. God, I love lists. Okay, my biggest beef is with the guitar rock list:
    Hotel California(Eagles) - Joe Walsh's lick is immortal
    Reelin' in the Years(Steely Dan)- the solo in there made Walter Becker famous
    Long Train Runnin'(Doobies)- Even Don realized you can't leave out the Doobies.
    Black Magic Woman(Santana) - you should have been struck by lightning for leaving Carlos off a guitar list.
    mythologicals: Medusa (the most frightening chick of all time, that's saying something)
    karate: BS on leaving off Jet Li and Chiba. Do more research. Any list with Carradine and Reeves on it is insulting, hiiiii-ya!
    swordfights: Chris Guest/Mandy Patimkin,Princess Bride - the fight at the end wherein he avenges his father's death is so emotional and the fight is great.
    icons: my next biggest quibble. Your list is too white - how 'bout Martin Luther King and/or Ray Charles (at the piano singing "America")? No Lincoln or Washington???? Overall, a great post - interesting subjects did I mention that I love lists?

  12. Hey Bear,
    Do you like lists.

    All of your proposed guitar songs are excellent choices.esp Hotel Califonia and Reeling, I should have thought of those also.

    Glad you agree with me on Chiba.
    BTW In light of your Arguello post on your blog what did you think of Gatti's career? Mayby an idea for a follow up.

  13. Don re: ambidextrous. I used to fence in college (no team, just gym). I had no problem fencing lefty and would do it when I was up against a southpaw even though I'm not particularly ambidextrous. Some things it's just not hard to switch on - ping pong is another.

    Bear: You are right, the "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" scene was a brilliant scene, although with very little sword fighting, and I didn't even think of it. Where to put it in though? Somewhere in the bottom five.

    As to guitar music, we just have different tastes. Hotel California to me is like listening to Chris Rock sing the Star Spangled Banner. No. Black Magic Woman was actually my number 11, although, I knew I would get banged for it by you for leaving it off. You are right that MLK and Ray are icons, but, I don't see them as replacing anyone in my ten. It's not about race. If I put them in to be politically correct Don would start hollering about affirmative action.

    As to Chiba and Jet Li, I just didn't get it. Didn't like their fights or their movies (and never paid to see one). For all I know Keanu Reeves didn't know a chop from a suey, but the movie fights with Smith were brilliant, and, because they are movies, editing and special effects count.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .