Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch
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All My Favorites Now Weigh Less Than a Hardcover
There was a time earlier in my career as an editor and publisher that I read, on average, more than two books a week. Reading was, and still is, my preferred form of relaxation.
I've always indulged my voracious appetite for reading: historical fiction, biographies, contemporary and classic novels, and lots more. My appetite has never dwindled and I flew around with a lot of heavy hardcovers in my day. When I take a break from books, I listen to music: classical, Dixieland, '60s and '70s oldies. Occasionally, I'll watch a movie, too.
It's better today by far. I can access thousands of my favorite music, movies, TV shows and books anywhere I roam. I can download them to a laptop, tablet and/or smartphone, tech tools that may weigh less than one best-selling hardcover.
With so much from which to choose--a virtual international multimedia library, in fact--who can limit takealongs to one favorite? And "favorite" is a relative term. What I want to read, hear or watch on one trip could change on the next. Preferred is a fluid, not fixed, moment in time.
What follows are a few favorites I turn to when I want to take it easy on the road.
Music can soothe, energize or simply transport you. Here are three different types and some of my favorites for listening anywhere, anytime.
Classical Piano The majestic "Beethoven's Fifth," aka The Emperor, will stay with you. I've never tired of it. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the other four of his piano concerti, either.
Classical Violin Max Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy" is obscure, but addictive. I liked it so much that one summer, working as the editor of a local paper, I played it incessantly during work hours for my staff.
Jazz Try "Louis Armstrong: Early Satch, 1923-1929." This highly enjoyable 65-minute, 21-track disc highlights the work of his early years. It includes some of the essential early jazz offerings of his Hot Five and Hot Seven combos. Of special note: Heebie Jeebies, which also features Armstrong's unique vocals. Some of the tracks include Johnny Dodds on clarinet and Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano.
What makes for a worthy cinematic companion on the road? For me, it's multidimensional characters, compelling storylines and top-notch actors, something all five of my picks share.
The Third Man A noir thriller set in post-war Vienna, this 1949 gem is considered by many to be among the top, if not the best, British films of all time. The music (zither), the stars (Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles and Alida Valli) and the direction (Carol Reed) are all nearly perfect. It's available in a variety of formats from Amazon.com.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips Flashbacks recount the story of a retired school teacher and his impact on generations of students. The 1939 original is an emotionally satisfying profile of a life well spent.
The Shawshank Redemption Some might think this 1994 movie too bleak for repeated viewing. After all, the film revolves around the harsh realities of prison life for an innocent man. But this transformative--and inspiring--tale of the power of hope to triumph over the most dire circumstances is one of the most critically acclaimed and popular American films.
Casablanca I love the great cast, I love the evocative mood of an early wartime city and I love the occasional interludes of humor that give this legendary 1942 flick its universal appeal. We'll always have Casablanca.
Les Diaboliques (Diabolique) I must include this 1955 French classic on my list. It stars the sublime Simone Signoret and is easily my mystery/thriller favorite. A brilliant plot engenders goose-bump doings among a private boy's school headmaster, his wife and his mistress.
THE BOOK NOOK
Anyone who reads a lot will likely end up with a roster of favorite authors who have written multiple works that capture our interest time and again. Here are three to whom I keep returning.
Dick Francis If you enjoy horse racing and mysteries, take your pick from more than two dozen novels penned by this fine British crime writer. They all feature the dark world of equine racing that outsiders rarely see. His thrillers are anything but formulaic.
Alan Furst I'm a huge fan of Alan Furst's many low-key and evocative espionage novels set before and during World War II. They're well-researched, well-written and, most of all, very entertaining.
Tony Hillerman The mystical aspect of Native American life and culture in the Southwest is deftly interwoven into Tony Hillerman's series of crime fiction books. They center around the Navajo Tribal Police and the exploits of Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn.
There's a category of entertainment that's always on my devices but isn't included here: opera. When you love opera as much as I do, you can't pick just a few traveling companions. So next month I'll offer you a baker's dozen of choices to consider.
This column is Copyright © 2018 by Martin B. Deutsch. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Martin B. Deutsch. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.