July 2008


Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson taken from the plane

Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson taken from the plane

So, we’re back in Oregon after visiting family (who, apparently, other than Stacy, don’t ever read the blog).

Aside from the stress of dealing with family, and the oddity of attending a wedding that used the same music as my own, there was the considerable added stress of flying with a 4 year old.

Aside from the fact that airlines rip you off and then make you pay for food on top of the ticket, aside from the fact that Logan long term parking costs twice what it used to, there are still other reasons these flights sucked.

First of all, Thomas’ diapers started leaking like crazy. We had a leaky diaper on 3 of our four flights (and ran out of backup shorts, which were down in the cargo). We had flights that boarded early and left late, leaving us sitting with a restless toddler, while not moving, a person who wouldn’t trade and let me sit next to Veronica and Thomas so that he could stay by his girlfriend, but they both spent the whole flight asleep, and we had the horrible experience of flying through the night when neither parent can sleep, so I’m doing this post at midnight because we’re all awake and having horribly messed up internal clocks.

the good kind of pothead

the good kind of pothead

Anyway, we are back in Arlington now, and when we head west again in three weeks it will be in the car, where if he screams, it will only bother us, where $5 will get us more than a crappy snack box, where his clothes will be accessible, where the pillows will be a normal human size, where we choose what time we leave, where leaving the apartment at 4 AM means we’re in New York by 6:30, not waiting for 12 other planes to take off in front of us, and where I am simply more comfortable.

My caring, loving, autistic little boy

My caring, loving, autistic little boy

As it says, we’re off to Oregon for a week to attend a wedding and see my family, so the blog will be skimpy for a week.

Before we leave, a quick note.  If you listen to Michael Savage, you’re reading the wrong blog.  If you believe his ignorant disgusting statement that 99% of autistic children are simply brats, you’re reading the wrong blog.  If you believe it’s because parents aren’t parenting, you are most assuredly reading the wrong blog.

Savage is a blowhard and a jackass who has no business commenting on other people’s ability to parent when he was raised so poorly that he doesn’t know how to be a decent person.  My son is the most loving, most wonderful child I know.  And he’s autistic.

Brilliant!

Brilliant!

Drivel!

Drivel!

A quick note: the following 10 novels will not appear on this list. It’s not your list. You might think these are great. I think they are overrated, whether because they are simply badly written (The Historian, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter), pretentious McSweeney’s-esque prattle (Absurdistan, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Everything is Illuminated), boring (Life of Pi), overrated due to serious subject matter (Lovely Bones), well written but uninteresting (Bee Season, Wickett’s Remedy), or fatally flawed due to oversimplification of a truly horrid situation (The Kite Runner). They’re not here so don’t ask for them.  While I am at it, I should add a few more: A Visit from Goon Squad (an utter mess), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (even being part of its target audience I hated it), The Finkler Question (simply awful).  Those are more recent prize-winning novels that also aren’t here because I couldn’t stand them. Also not here are the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, which are fantastic, but, like Douglas Adams, not quite great writing, or the Jump 225 Trilogy, which I love and was written by a friend of mine, but isn’t quite up there. I have done away with the English language requirement for this list, because my previous list was done to Modern Library standards to match up against their list. Only two of these are foreign language novels anyway.

Before I get to the list, I feel I should point out that it’s now up to 29 35 books.  That’s because I have added some updates over the last couple of years and didn’t feel the need to delete the books at the bottom of the list.

Actually, let me add to that last little paragraph, which was written in 2010.  At the time I was just doing some additions.  This time I have actually changed the title of the list.  Why change the title and not just do a whole new post?  Because I am proud that people keep finding this list and I like all the conversations that the comments have inspired.  So, I decided to up it to 35, add six more books and go with that.  To that end, I had to cut some books I considered, including The Sense of an Ending, The Marriage Plot, Wolf Hall, 1Q84 and even The Casual Vacancy (yes, I thought it was very good – a modern Thomas Hardy).  But something interesting came to me as I was doing the additional titles: five of the six of them were written by females and three of them were first novels.  So let’s be glad for some new blood getting out there and getting noticed (at least by me).

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6 Aug 2005 - Veronica feeding him blueberries in my parents kitchen

6 Aug 2005 - Veronica feeding him blueberries in my parents kitchen

28 August 2007 - in a cabin on Cape Cod (taken by my sister Stacy)

28 August 2007 - in a cabin on Cape Cod (taken by my sister Stacy)

26 June 2004 - the first picture we ever sent out of him
26 June 2004 – the first picture we ever sent out of him

I’m still tired from seeing The Dark Knight (it effectively ends any debate on the greatest superhero film of all time and the only drawback about Ledger’s performance is that it is so good, you don’t think about how good Eckhart, Caine and especially Oldman are), and I’m not ready for my next literature or film post, so, sitting looking at the background of my computer, I have decided to throw up my 5 favorite photos of Thomas. It was very hard to choose just 5 and Veronica would have probably picked a different 5 and the pictures are all older, but it’s hard to limit yourself on lists. Enjoy.

10 Oct 2004 - my all time favorite picture of him, so very tired

10 Oct 2004 - my all time favorite picture of him, so very tired

29 Dec 2005 - with Veronica on the Coronado beach (taken by my brother John)

29 Dec 2005 - with Veronica on the Coronado beach (taken by my brother John)

Akira Kurosawa directing Toshiro Mifune on The Bad Sleep Well

Akira Kurosawa directing Toshiro Mifune on The Bad Sleep Well

You always hear the names linked together: John Ford and John Wayne, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder. But who really are the best combinations in film history. What are the DVD box sets that really should be released? I’m glad you asked. I have the answers.

The first thing that may surprise you (because it surprised me) is which combinations get left off the top 10 list. My list depends only partially on the number of films they made together, and much more on the quality of acting that came out of the films. Robert Redford made a lot of films with Sydney Pollack, but wasn’t all that great in several of them (not on the list). Diane Keaton was great in Annie Hall, but not as memorable in the other Woody Allen films she’s in (not on the list). Hitchcock had a lot of great actors, but none who stuck around long enough. Jimmy Stewart is always thought of with Frank Capra, but he did two great performances (Life and Mr. Smith) and that was pretty much it. And the Ford/Wayne combo doesn’t make the list, because as I said, it’s the strength of the acting. Make your own conclusions.

Now, here’s the list: (more…)

Even though most of our visitors these days are interested in Erik’s lists and articles, I know that there is a devoted following out there waiting on more Thomas pictures. The ones below are from Sunday. Thomas and I went to Harvard Square for a Bastille Day Celebration (okay, it was mostly food stands and it was really rather silly) and Thomas got his face painted for the first time. It’s a blue flower. Sorry the pictures aren’t clearer-he was tired and uncooperative by the time I took them. However, he did do a really good job on the bus ride there and back.

Be warned: your favorite book may not appear here. One of my favorite books doesn’t appear here (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). It’s hilarious and I love it, but it’s not great literature. There’s a difference between my favorite and what I think is the best. Star Wars has long been my favorite film. Sunset Boulevard is the best.

That said, there are several books that I love (I’m going to mention Good Omens, His Dark Materials, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Stand, High Fidelity and The Straight Man) that just don’t measure up. I will read them again and again, but they won’t make the list. And the one book that everyone loves (To Kill a Mockingbird) just doesn’t measure up as literature. And there are no pre-20th century books. There are no short story collections, no non-fiction books, no works of philosophy. And there are no books originally written in a foreign language (that will be an upcoming list). There are no 21st century books (that will also be an upcoming list). What there are, are the 25 best English language novels of the 20th Century. (more…)

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