Steven Soderbergh Posts a List of Everything He Watched and Read in 2009

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Following his retirement from filmmaking earlier this year, Steven Soderbergh has filled his time with some interesting endeavors. He tweeted an entire novella, and now he has posted a log of all the films and television shows he watched, and all the books and plays he read, in 2009.

As you will see in the log (below), Soderbergh spent much of that year in preparation for the scheduled June shoot of his adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball, which was abruptly shut down only days before shooting was to begin, due to disagreements over revisions to Steven Zaillian’s screenplay. Soderbergh read the book for the second, third, and fourth time, as well as much of the work of baseball statistician Bill James, including every abstract James published from 1977 to 1988.

The remainder of his 2009 reading is a mix of non-fiction (Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution to Mark Helprin’s Digital Barbarism: A Writer’s Manifesto) and works of fiction by Nicholson Baker, Donald Barthelme, and Thomas Pynchon.

More interesting is his film and television log, which alternates between current Hollywood and indie releases and classic Hollywood titles. The list should be no surprise coming from a filmmaker repeatedly called a stylistic chameleon. Should we be surprised he follows a Ken Russell phase with The Lone Ranger? Or that he’s just like us and binge-watches Breaking Bad?

The log also sheds light on the post-production process of two of his films released in 2009, The Girlfriend Experience and The Informant, the former viewed three times, the latter four. Was his repeated viewing of Being There inspiration? Or is it simply one of his favorite films?

This is not the first time Soderbergh revealed his viewing log. In 2011, he gave Studio 360’s Kurt Anderson his 2010 log, which included twenty viewings of his film Haywire and several Raiders of the Lost Ark, in black and white.

See the full 2009 list below.

SEEN, READ 2009

All caps: MOVIE
All caps, star: TV SERIES*
All caps, italics: BOOK
Quotation marks: "Play"

1/1/09 VALKRYIE, THE GODFATHER

1/4/09 REMAINDER, Tom McCarthy

1/7/09 BURN AFTER READING

1/10/09 MADE IN USA, STATE AND MAIN

1/13/09 BEING THERE

1/14/09 THE INFORMANT, THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

1/15/09 ARSENALS OF FOLLY, Richard Rhodes

1/24/09 THE GRAND, JAWS

1/25/09 THE HOT ROCK

1/27/09 SOLITARY MAN

1/30/09 THE APARTMENT, MONEYBALL (2) Michael Lewis

2/3/09 THE INFORMANT

2/6/09 "The Removalists"

2/7/09 "The War of the Roses, Part One", THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

2/8/09 THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW, Robert Hughes, FIVE EASY PIECES

2/9/09 SOLITARY MAN

2/11/09 MONEYBALL (3)

2/11/09 "The Talking Cure", Christopher Hampton

2/14/09 HISTORICAL BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James. CORALINE, W., REBECCA.

2/15/09 FROZEN RIVER, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COOPERSTOWN, Bill James.

2/18/09 BEING THERE

2/20/09 THE OSCAR

2/21/09 PANIC ROOM, THE PARALLAX VIEW

2/22/09 THE BRIDE WORE BLACK

2/23/09 1977, '78, '79 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

2/23/09 1980 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

2/26/09 1981 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

2/26/09 PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, Mark Harris.

2/27/09 REDS (part one)

2/25/09 thru 2/29/09 1982, '83, '84, '85 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

3/01/09 1986, '87, '88 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

3/02/09 EUROPA

3/04/09 FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

3/06/09 THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH

3/07/09 ELECTION, THE VERDICT

3/08/09 NO WAY OUT

3/09/09 MONEYBALL (4), Michael Lewis

3/10/09 THE INFORMANT, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, THE INFORMANT

3/12/09 BREAKING BAD* (pilot)

3/15/09 BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/16/09 BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/17/09 BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/18/09 IL DIVO, MISSISSIPPI MERMAID

3/19/09 THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR ('68)

3/20/09 DUPLICITY, GOMORRAH

3/21/09 APPETITE FOR SELF-DESTRUCTION, Steve Knopper

3/22/09 GATTACA

3/26/09 THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD, Elyn Saks, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

3/27/09 AGATHA, MADEMOISELLE, BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/29/09 WAS CLARA SCHUMANN A FAG HAG?, David Watkin, POINT BLANK, BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/30/09 LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

3/31/09 FORBIDDEN PLANET

4/02/09 THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

4/05/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), NEXT STOP GREENWICH VILLAGE

4/06/09 AMERICAN GRAFFITI

4/10/09 HOUSE OF GAMES

4/11/09 CARNAL KNOWLEDGE

4/12/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

4/15/09 ANIMAL SPIRITS; HOW HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY DRIVES THE ECONOMY, AND WHY IT MATTERS FOR GLOBAL CAPITALISM, George A. Akerlof & Robert Shiller

4/17/09 ROCKNROLLA

4/18/09 SEXY BEAST

4/19/09 THE FORTUNE, THIS IS WATER, David Foster Wallace, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

4/21/09 GOLDFINGER

4/23/09 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

4/24/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

5/01/09 THE RACE CARD, Richard Thompson Ford

5/02/09 WHERE THE DEAD LAY, David Levien, CONVERSATIONS WITH MARLON BRANDO, Lawrence Grobel.

5/03/09 STRAW; FINDING MY WAY, Darryl Strawberry, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

5/06/08 THE RIDICULOUS RACE, Steve Hely & Vali Chandrasekaran.

5/08/09 CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT EVANS, Lawrence Grobel

5/09/09 SHAMPOO, THE FRENCH LIEUTTENANT'S WOMAN

5/11/09 COLUMBINE, Dave Cullen

5/14/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), JAWS

5/16/09 THE BROTHERS BLOOM

5/18/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), TAKEN, ERASERHEAD

5/20/09 40 STORIES, Donald Barthelme

5/24/09 DIGITAL BARBARISM, Mark Helprin, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), TRANSSIBERIAN

5/31/09 THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, DRAG ME TO HELL, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

6/02/09 THE CULT OF THE AMATEUR, Andrew Keen

6/04/09 3 NIGHTS IN AUGUST, Buzz Bissinger

6/06/09 THE HANGOVER, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

6/21/09 MOON

6/23/09 THE FORTUNE COOKIE

6/26/09 THE HURT LOCKER, BARRY LYNDON

6/27/09 THE GRADUATE

6/28/09 BEING THERE

6/29/09 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

7/01/09 SUNSET BOULEVARD

7/02/09 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

7/03/09 PUBLIC ENEMIES

7/04/09 THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE

7/07/09 TWO LOVERS

7/08/09 THE EMPEROR'S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON, THE FAILURE, James Greer.

7/09/09 HUMAN SMOKE, Nicholson Baker

7/10/09 SLAP SHOT

7/11/09 BRUNO

7/12/09 THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, PERSONA, THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE ('68), ELGAR*, THE DEBUSSY FILM*, PYGMY, Chuck Palahniuk

7/14/09 ALWAYS ON SUNDAY*, ISADORA: THE BIGGEST DANCER IN THE WORLD*

7/15/09 DANTE'S INFERNO*, ALTERED STATES

7/16/09 THE LONE RANGER

7/17/09 THE LONE RANGER AND THE CITY OF LOST GOLD

7/18/09 GET SHORTY

7/26/09 ORPHAN, REPULSION

7/27/09 THE HOSPITAL

7/30/09 THE COLLECTOR ('65)

7/31/09 ZODIAC, SONG OF SUMMER*, MUSICOPHILIA, Oliver Sacks

8/01/09 A PERFECT MURDER

8/02/09 VOX, NIcholson Baker, CACHE

8/03/09 ADVISE AND CONSENT

8/05/09 THE LONG GOODBYE

8/06/09 THE RED SHOES

8/08/09 INHERENT VICE, Thomas Pynchon, UNMAN, WITTERING, AND ZIGO, ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE, THE ASCENT OF MONEY*, THE SHINING

8/13/09 THIEVES LIKE US, REDS (part two)

8/15/09 CHINATOWN, CITIZEN RUTH

8/16/09 DISTRICT 9, MADE MEN* (1 episode)

Justin Alvarez is the digital director of The Paris Review. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Guernica, and Flatmancrooked’s Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics. Follow him at @Alvarez_Justin.

Biblioburro: Library on a Donkey

For more than a decade, Luis Soriano, a primary school teacher, has traveled the rugged terrain of Colombia by donkey, delivering books to children in hundreds of rural villages. The project, powered by his two donkeys Alfa and Beto, goes by the name "Biblioburro." And it seeks to promote literacy in areas where access to books is not always a given. You can find more information and pictures on the homepage of the Biblioburro project and also make a small donation. A video update shows what these donations are actually used for.

Bonus material: The clip above is part of a 60-minute PBS documentary available in full here. If you are a teacher and want to work with the film in class, you will appreciate this related lesson plan. Biblioburro has even been covered by The New York Times, and there is now a similar project underway in Ethiopia.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Vladimir Nabokov Marvels Over Different “Lolita” Book Covers

In this short excerpt from a TV program called "USA: The Novel," Vladimir Nabokov comments on different foreign editions of his novel Lolita. The individual covers he discusses are listed here; the full program is available here, and it contains some memorable quotes by the author (from chapter 1: "Mr Nabokov, would you tell us why it is that you detest Dr. Freud?" - "I think he's crude, I think he's medieval, and I don't want an elderly gentleman from Vienna with an umbrella inflicting his dreams upon me. I don't have the dreams that he discusses in his books, I don't see umbrellas in my dreams or balloons.").

Finding a publisher for Lolita proved to be rather difficult for Nabokov. A December 1953 review of the manuscript said: "It is overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian. To the public, it will be revolting. It will not sell, and will do immeasurable harm to a growing reputation. [...] I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” (Get more information at Stanford's "The Book Haven") Lolita was first published in 1955 (original cover here) and has since been translated into many languages with a wide variety of cover designs (find a good collection at this site).

Shortly after Lolita's publication, Nabokov discussed his novel on the CBC program "Close Up": see part one and part two.

Bonus: Little known detail - Nabokov held the post of curator of lepidoptera at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. He collected many butterflies and developed a theory of butterfly migration which disputed all previous theories and wasn't taken seriously by biologists then. Only recently did genetic studies vindicate his once bold theory. Some of Nabokov's beautiful drawings of the butterflies he studied can be enjoyed courtesy of Flavorwire.

You can find this video housed in our collection of 235 Cultural Icons.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: The Film

Due to its stylistic and linguistic complexity, James Joyce's Finnegans Wake ranks among the most difficult works of fiction. And that is why virtually no filmmaker has ever tried to adapt Joyce's final work for the screen. But after Mary Manning Howe adapted passages from the book for the stage (listen to her reading from Finnegans Wake here), American animator Mary Ellen Bute accepted the challenge and turned Manning's play into a film.

Sadly, Mary Ellen Bute's short films are almost forgotten today, but from the 1930s to 1950s her abstract musical shorts were known to a wide audience. Don't miss her first color film from 1938.

Between 1965 and 1967, Bute created her last film, and only feature film, Passages from Finnegans Wake. The movie was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and named Best Debut of the Year (1965). The video above shows only the opening sequence, but the whole film can be enjoyed online courtesy of UbuWeb.

Bonus: You can read Roger Ebert's 1968 review of Bute's film here. He admits that he didn't enjoy it too much, but concedes this may have been because he hadn't actually read the book.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Disney Kindle Commando Sunday is Here!

kindledisneyToday's free story: When They Were Calling You in for Dinner (listen here) or read it in the Charles River Review [To download the story and listen on your MP3 player, just right-click and "save file as..."]

Dear OC readers,

About a week ago, I posted here about my Publishing Experiment Take 1. I spoke of the need for authors (Yes, Authors!) to make experiments in new media and publishing. Well, now's the time to put my fiction where my mouth is. Today I'm launching my collection of short stories, A Long Way from Disney, on Amazon's Kindle platform at the price of $.99.

Direct link to buy A Long Way from Disney on Amazon.

Please visit SethHarwood.com/kindle for more info. You can buy the book if you have 1) A Kindle 2) an iPhone/iPod Touch or 3) Any PC computer!

Easy! See you soon with more free stories and results from this experiment.

PS: If you'd like to hear more free stories like this, you can check out new posts today at CrimeWAV.com and SethHarwood.com. You can also get the stories directly from iTunes.

Seth Harwood podcasts his ideas on the publishing industry and his fiction for free at sethharwood.com. He will be teaching an online course (The Essential Art: Making Movies in Your Reader’s Mind) with Stanford Continuing Studies starting in January. His first novel, JACK WAKES UP, is in stores now.

In The Nick of Time: Holiday Book Sampler!

This holiday season, I'm happy to have teamed up with eleven fabulous authors in offering a holiday sampler just for book lovers! Here you'll find excerpts of a dozen new novels and nonfiction books by these New York Times bestselling authors, successful entrepreneurs, and talented storytellers. The excerpts can all be found in this nice PDF. Included you will find:

DOWNLOAD THE IN THE NICK OF TIME! HOLIDAY SAMPLER

Spot a great gift opportunity? Order from online retailers directly from the PDF, or print the order form at the end of the document and present it to your local bookseller. Helpful staff will find what you’re looking for.

Dan Note: Check out Seth's upcoming online writing course at Stanford Continuing Studies. The Essential Art: Making Movies in Your Reader's Mind

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