A pair of coyotes at Griffith Park

Nine Animals I’ve Seen in the Wild in 2020

With so much fun stuff shut down in Los Angeles this year, thanks to the pandemic, my wife and I have been trying to make the most of what's available. That means hiking – lots of it – two or three times a week. We're quite fortunate to have so many trails at our disposal: some popular, some hidden, each… read more!

From a 1986 Philip Ashamallah ad

Nine Quotes from Philip Ashamallah

Philip who? No, I haven't joined a cult. Here's the story: In the early 1990s, I would leaf through the LA Weekly and Los Angeles Reader and find large ads filled with colorful quotes by a local character named Philip Ashamallah (1923-2004). An immigrant of apparent Arab extraction, Ashamallah was a structural engineering contractor (i.e. a concrete guy) with hilariously… read more!

Just a few of our unused mugs

Nine Things I Have Too Much of in My House

My wife and I are not hoarders. We're very good at using up what we have and getting rid of what we don't need. Our house is small – 750 square feet, give or take – which means if we acquire something new, we usually need to eliminate something else to make room for it. Even down to my short… read more!

Larry David’s Sour Grapes

Nine Failed Films Directed by TV Series Creators

It's been a while since I wrote a List of 9; my research & writing interests have been focused on a new, non-film-related project called L.A. Street Names. You'll be hearing more about that later. Anyway, for decades, TV was seen as the artistic inferior to theatrical motion pictures. Lately, of course, the tables have turned. Yet TV creators remained… read more!

With Dane Cook in Dan in Real Life

Nine Unlikely Leading Men for Juliette Binoche

This is the most random of lists, I know. My mind has been preoccupied with a big, non-film-related project lately, and I've been neglecting my Lists of 9. At any rate, Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche is renowned for her European elegance and charm. As such, it's no surprise to see her cast opposite elegant and charming Europeans like Daniel Day-Lewis… read more!

Pump Up the Volume

Nine Films Named After Songs (That Aren’t Heard in the Film)

Here's another variation on a theme I've explored off and on: the confluence of song and movie titles. It's no secret that Hollywood studios will steal the title of a beloved pop hit to make a movie more palatable – the famous example is Disney/Touchstone taking a dark drama called 3000 and turning it into a romantic comedy called Pretty… read more!

Rambo III’s “brave mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan”

Nine Movies That Were Made Too Soon

Some movies age like wine; others like milk. Often it can't be helped. As a filmmaker, you don't always have all the facts about your subject matter, not to mention your collaborators; those facts might only surface later, when it's too late. If the following nine films had allowed a little more time for the truth to come to light,… read more!

William H. Macy and Bill Macy

Nine Actors Who Had to Change Their Names Because of Other Famous People

The entertainment world is filled with stage names, from Joan Crawford (née Lucille LeSueur) to Lady Gaga (née Stefani Germanotta). For this list, I chose those actors who, unlike Maurice Micklewhite (a.k.a. Michael Caine) and Frances Gumm (a.k.a. Judy Garland), could have easily worked under their birth names – if only it weren't for other actors already having those names,… read more!

la muchedumbre, a.k.a. much dumb

Nine of My Favorite Spanish Words

Although I took German in high school, I decided to study Spanish, as an adult, from 2006 until 2008, and again from 2017 until the present day. I am still far from fluent, but I have increased my vocabulary somewhat, and along the way I've found a few irresistible words that I'd like to share with you. Some are handy.… read more!

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Nine Films Based on Epistolary Novels

The epistolary novel is the literary equivalent of the found footage film, abandoning a traditional narrative for one cobbled together from fictitious diary entries, personal letters, and so on. Loads of novels have been written in this style, but how many films based on these works manage to capture their epistolary – which, after extensive research, I've concluded is a… read more!

Smart subtitles

Nine Brilliant Ideas of Mine

Every single manmade thing in the world was once just an idea. It didn't exist until someone put said idea to paper, gathered the necessary raw materials, assembled a prototype, tested it, and deemed it functional: a vehicle, an appliance, a textile pattern, a form of government, a book, a song, a vaccine, and so on. Most of us have… read more!

Disposable flashbulbs

Nine Things I Am Not Nostalgic About

As we wade into a new decade, some people believe, as always, that everything's getting worse and that everything used to be so much better. I disagree. For instance, you can't convince me that any era before the advent of indoor plumbing was better than this one. We romanticize the past because we survived it – we gloss over the… read more!