I wish I was better at explaining things…
I love books and like lists. As we roll into a new year, I thought I’d mention a list I came across recently and the top 21 books that are placed there.
The list may be located on a website entitled The Greatest Books. Shane Sherman took 43 “best of” lists (such as Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, Great Books Foundation, Harvard Bookstore, National Book Foundation… you get the idea) and generated a website to track the lists and keep track of those read. Shane was kind enough to share the list with the rest of us. You can see the entire list and links to the “best of” lists at The Greatest Books.
I’ll list the top 21 to read as we enter 2011, but please go the The Greatest Books site to check it out for yourself. I won’t include brief descriptions or links, since the site is such a wonderful resource. Please check it out for yourself here: The Greatest Books.
It really is a remarkable work and runs 21 pages with 1005 books listed. I’m sure many people would argue with the placement of many novels on the list, but that is exactly what makes “best of” book lists fun (at least for me). There is also a search function on the site, but I was disappointed to discover that it simply displays the novel, not its placement on the list – just about my only disappointment with the site – it didn’t even bother me (too much… for too long) that my favorite novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany is only #616 on this list (not even in the top half… really?).
Here are the top 21:
#21 – Moby Dick by Herman Melville
#20 – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#19 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#18 – On the Road by Jack Kerouac
#17 – To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe
#16 – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
#15 – Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#14 – The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
#13 – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
#12 – Middlemarch by George Eliot
#11 – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
#10 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#9 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
#8 – In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
#7 – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
#6 – 1984 by George Orwell
#5 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
#4 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#2 – Ulysses by James Joyce
#1 – Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
I started thinking about Christmas and my thoughts turned to great Christmas songs that nobody else seems to like, yet are among my favorites. How can one go wrong with Dr. Demento, Stan Freberg, Weird Al, Spike Jones…?
With that in mind, here’s a Five for Friday – Five Festive Funnies (and it’s only Tuesday):
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth – Spike Jones & His City Slickers
The Singing Dogs’ Jingle Bells – Dr. Demento
I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas – Gayla Peevey
Green Christmas – Stan Freberg
Christmas at Ground Zero – Weird Al Yankovic
Christmas is coming… very soon. With that in mind – a (very early) Five for Friday – Five Festive Films (I haven’t done this in quite a while, so consider this an early – or late – gift):
According to Moviefone, these are the top five Christmas films. My tastes are similar to those of the Moviefone family, but in a (somewhat) different order:
5. White Christmas – (Moviefone description) Aren’t we all dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’? The movie starring Bing “Mr. Christmas” Crosby and Danny Kaye is as charming as the tune, with all the elements to warm the heart: Two GIs come home from WWII, fall in love with singing-and-dancing sisters and help their general with his failing Vermont inn. Awww.
My thought: I’m good with this one. My family has watched this together for years on Christmas Eve. It’s a classic. I also like the film that introduced the song White Christmas – Holiday Inn.
4. Scrooged – (Moviefone description) Only Bill Murray could so expertly walk the fine line between pathos and hilarity, as he does playing miserly TV exec Frank Cross. Complete with a taxi-driving Ghost of Christmas Past and a (literally) ball-busting Ghost of Christmas Present, this Dickens send-up is so offbeat and fun, Yule love it!
My thought: I’m pretty good with this one too. I love Bill Murray’s humor – Groundhog Day and What About Bob are among my favorite films. Plus, I have a soft spot for almost anything Dickens.
3. Miracle on 34th Street – (Moviefone description) If this ’47 classic doesn’t make you a Santa believer, nothing (especially the ’94 remake) will. It’s dark stuff for a Christmas flick — Kris Kringle is put on trail to determine if he’s legally insane — but the endgame (in which the US Postal Service saves the day!) is utterly heartwarming.
My thought: This is probably my spot for A Christmas Story (see #1), but ‘Miracle’ would likely still be in my top 15. I love it when he bops the psychologist on the head.
2. It’s A Wonderful Life – (Moviefone description) A tale of depression and almost-suicide doesn’t exactly scream “Christmas classic” — which is probably why Frank Capra’s flick flopped at the box office. But more than 30 years later, it endures as a beloved testament to everything Christmas embodies: family, friends and the joy of life.
My thought: This is a movie that really caught on with the advent of TV and a need to fill time during the Christmas holidays. Enough airplay and it became a classic. My son and I love it, my wife and daughter hate it – not much of a barometer to go by, because that is true of most movies in our home. ‘Wonderful Life’ is still in my top 10, but my number 2 is Moviefone’s number 16 – Die Hard. Nothing gets one in the holiday mood like terrorists/thieves battling the entire Los Angeles police force and FBI, but being brought down by one New York cop (well, he is played by Bruce Willis).
1. A Christmas Story – (Moviefone description) There’s nary a scene to forget in this near-perfect nostalgic look at where Americana and Christmastime meet. The story of a young boy’s epic quest to get his hands on a Red Ryder BB gun provides the hilarious backdrop for a timeless tale rife with family hijinks, frozen tongues and, of course, sex-oozing leg lamps.
My thought: I think it is a funny film and very well done, but not quite up to number one – maybe third. Watch for yourself on TBS on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it will make an annual 24 hour run. My number 1 is Moviefone’s number 11 – Alastair Sim as Scrooge in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.
Honorable Mention: Elf. (Moviefone description) Frank Ricard. Ron Burgundy. Ricky Bobby. They’re all unforgettable Will Ferrell personas, but the role he might be remembered for most in 50 years is Buddy the Elf (what’s your favorite color?) from ’03’s instant holiday classic. This non-stop laugher exemplifies all-ages entertainment.
My thought: Elf is on the edge and may very soon make it into my top five. It is humorous, charming, and very nearly innocent fun.
I have many USB storage devices (or memory sticks, or thumb drives, or…), but I don’t have any of these:
A “real” thumb drive:
My favorite – the teddy bear:
My least favorite – sushi (I don’t like fish):
Can I has a cheezburger:
A technogeek’s dream:
And a bonus –
These dogs apparently have mistaken your computer for a leg:
I’ve been collecting the photos and just realized that I didn’t write down any of the sites from which I retrieved them. Sorry. I know it’s frustrating to find a photo of something you would like to buy, then find the location is missing. Again, sorry.
It’s Saturday… which means Five for Friday is a day late (and several dollars short – you know, the economy and all).
I spend much of my day online as I do a variety of work-related tasks (primarily communicating through email, reading articles, and researching for courses I teach), but now and then I need a break. That’s when I go to my favorite Internet sites to waste time:
WordPress– that’s right. I’m here now (obviously). I have really enjoyed getting to know you (well, those of you who comment or write one of the blogs I frequent) through this blogging community. Thanks for your encouraging comments and your interesting blogs. I don’t comment as often as I should, but I do read.
Facebook. Much less anonymous than blogging, but I’ve had people find me who I haven’t heard from in years. I really hadn’t much interest in Facebook, but was receiving referrals to this blog from a Facebook site and wanted to see who it was. I was required to join, so did so, then began to be found by people from my past. It’s been fun to reconnect. I also have four or five timewasters on Facebook alone (like Speedracing and Might of Many – my nerd games, as my wife likes to call them).
Yahoo Fantasy. I like fantasy baseball and football. Several of my friends and I form a league and play against each other each year. I also enter two or three public leagues. My favorite part of managing a fantasy team is picking up and cutting players, so although I don’t always win the league, I do usually lead in the number of players I go through during a season.
YouTube. I like it primarily for the music videos, but there are some amazing things to be found.
FreeRice. Build your vocabulary and feed people at the same time. How can you go wrong?
This is likely just a cheesy attempt to highlight some of my favorite bands, so I thought I should also include something scholarly, therefore… Five for Friday – Impressive Rock Formations:
Wave Rock – Australia
This 15 meters high and 110 meters long impressive natural rock formation is located in Western Australia. It derives its name from the fact that it is shaped like a large, smooth wave. The total outcrop covers several hectares. The unusual shape of the rock is greatly highlighted by vertical darker streaks of algae, which grow on the surface of the wave, and by dark black stains which change to brown during the dry season.
The Beatles – England
The Beatles were a pop and rock band from Liverpool, England: John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Former members included Pete Best (drums, vocals) and Stuart Sutcliffe (bass, vocals). Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and skiffle, the group worked with different musical genres, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, style and statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. After the band broke up in 1970, all four members embarked upon successful solo careers.
The Wave – USA
Aerosmith – USA
Aerosmith is an American hard rock band, sometimes referred to as “The Bad Boys from Boston” and “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”. Their style, rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, glam, and rhythm and blues, which has inspired many subsequent rock artists. The band was formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton, originally in a band together called the Jam Band, met up with singer Steven Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer, and guitarist Ray Tabano, and formed Aerosmith. By 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, and the band began developing a following in Boston. They were signed to Columbia Records in 1972 and released a string of multi-platinum albums, beginning with their 1973 eponymous debut album. In 1975, the band broke into the mainstream with the album Toys in the Attic, and their 1976 follow-up Rocks cemented their status as hard rock superstars. By the end of the 1970s, they were among the most popular hard rock bands in the world and developed a loyal following of fans, often referred to as the “Blue Army.”
Brimham Rock – England
This 300 meters high incredible rock formation located on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England is part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
…and a bonus:
The Traveling Wilburys – Earth
Traveling Wilburys was a supergroup consisting of George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. The band recorded two albums during the two years they were together. “Wilburys” was a slang term coined by Harrison and Lynne during the recording of Cloud Nine as a pet name for various types of equipment in the recording studio. The term was used again when the entire group was together. Harrison suggested “The Trembling Wilburys” as the group’s name; instead, Lynne suggested “Traveling”, which was agreed on by the group.
Does the English language sometimes drive you nuts? We have done some fascinating things with this language. You really must be almost a native speaker to understand all the nuances of the language. For example, I had a friend of mine from Chile who had trouble understanding the concept of “breaking wind.”
The examples below might be even more subtle that that. You can find the original here:
1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
2. The farm was used to produce produce.
3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10. I did not object to the object.
11. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
12. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
13. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
14. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
15. They were too close to the door to close it.
16. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
17. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
18. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
19. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
20. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
21. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
Our family enjoys Christmas music and we have it playing on our stereo from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, but these are the songs that (for various reasons) my wife won’t let me play during Christmas:
One of my all time favorites – David Bowie and Bing Crosby:
Bing (again), this time with White Christmas, which originated in the film Holiday Inn:
Karen Carpenter – an incredibly unique voice – singing Merry Christmas Darling:
Elvis – Blue Christmas (enough said):
Casting Crowns with Silent Night:
And a (Christmas) bonus – Relient K’s version of the 12 Days of Christmas:
Merry Christmas. This always gets me into the Christmas spirit: