Thursday, February 26, 2009

100 Books

I totally stole this from Delirious but it just looked too fun not to do. Instead X's, I'm putting numbers so I can add it up when I get to the end.

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Tally your total at the bottom

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien 1
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (I read prob 100 pages)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling 2
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 3
6 The Bible 4
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell 5
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 6
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I haven't read everything but I've probably read at least 20 of his plays and lots of his poetry so I'm putting it down) 7
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 8
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faul
18 Catcher in the Rye -J.D. Salinger 9
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (I read prob 100 pages)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 10
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 11
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 12
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 13
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding 14
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (read about 20 pages)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (read about 100 pages)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 15
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 16
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 17
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac 18
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 19
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 20
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (pretty sure I read this) 21
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom 22
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (read about 100 pages)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare 23
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 24
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I only got 24. I thought I would do better and I probably would have if I had finished most of the books I started. You do it too and see how you matchup!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Things I Used To Hate But Now Like

For some reason I thought it'd be fun to compile a list of things I used to hate but now like. Enough said, here goes:

1. Movies with talking
2. Movies with kissing (I think it always made me uncomfortable to watch this with my Mom or sisters)
3. Crunchy Peanut Butter (my mother has written proof that I didn't like this at one time)
4. Soccer (Chelsea plays Juventus on Wed and I'm so excited)
5. Politics (although part of me still hates it)
6. Movies with subtitles
7. Woody Allen (the man is quite hilarious)
8. School (its quite surprising how much you miss it once you realize every day is the same in the 8-5 grind)
9. The Police (listening to the radio at work all-day everyday makes you realize that their songs were much better than a lot of other crap)
10. Dill pickles (they taste so good on the side of sandwich)
11. Being somewhat healthy (emphasis on "somewhat")
12. Going to bed somewhat early (again, emphasis on "somewhat")
13. Albuquerque (the weather is almost unbeatable-almost)
14. Making fun of strangers (I used to get annoyed that my wife did this but now its our favorite game)
15. Lost In Translation (hated it the first time I saw it-didn't get it- but every time I watch it, it just keeps getting better)
16. Halo (I used to refuse to play it and although I only kind of like the game, I have come a long way from before)
17. Having everyone worry about what I'm going to do with my life (just kidding-I actually still really hate this)
18. Myself (I never had a really strong hate for myself but I never really like myself either-now I find that its a lot more exciting to be me because I have no idea whats around the corner-maybe everything and maybe nothing-or maybe a little bit of something)
19. Talking (Still don't like to do it much but I've come a long way)
20. Having my wife kick me in the pants to get me in gear (actually, I've always liked this)

I could go on but I'm not going to. Hoped this brightened your day a little.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Shooting Star That Faded Too Fast

Whenever I'm in a conversation about the greatest vocalists of all-time, I hear the usual: Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Bono, Elvis Presley, and loads of others I won't go on naming. All of those singers deserve their place among the greatest. But it makes me sad that usually, I never hear Jeff Buckley's name mentioned. This is probably because he never really had a chance to earn his place, though anyone who knows of him puts him up there.
Jeff Buckley was an amazing singer/guitar player/songwriter that came out in the 90's and had an incredible vocal range of four octaves. His guitar playing was very good, influenced by jazz, progressive rock and folk music. Being a guitar player myself, I can honestly say that some of the chords he used are the most interesting and different sounding chords I've seen in any song I've ever played. His music was always beautiful but also haunted, with his impressive vocals often wailing over minor chords to make you feel the emotion and sadness that he was emanating from the stage such as the vocals on songs like "So Real" or "Lilac Wine".
He recorded only one album, titled "Grace". Grace consisted of 10 songs, 7 of which were originals and 3 of which were covers-one of the covers being Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which featured Buckley with only a guitar and his voice. Though the album sold poorly upon release, it received much critical acclaim and has been put on many lists of the greatest albums of all-time (including mine).
So, you are probably thinking, why haven't I ever heard of him? Sadly, at the age of 31, he drown in the Wolf River near Memphis, Tennessee. No drugs or foul play were involved. A friend who was there at the time, but was ashore even said that he was in good spirits before he drown.
In these situations, we often contemplate the question, "Why did he die?" But there is never an answer, at least never an answer that is befitting. In my opinion, no answer that someone could give is befitting of a talented and promising individual's life being cut short. So, instead, we can do them justice by remembering them. That is the highest honor we can show the dead.
I have posted links of his best songs. The first is the link to his solo performance of "Hallelujah". For whatever reason, I can't set up a direct link so just copy it to your address bar. The last two are "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" and "Lilac Wine". Except for "Hallelujah", none of the videos are actual videos and I have just posted them so you can listen to the song. Listen to the earnestness of his voice-thats what I love about it the most, that he sang with so much emotion. It is as if we start to become not just an audience but an active participant in the music, as if we begin to feel deeply what he is singing about to the point that we ARE what he is singing about. I'll stop here. The more I talk about the things I love the less I or anyone else who does the same makes any sense. Anyway, enjoy the songs because all of the songs will change your life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why People Love Sports OR Miracles Do Exist But They're Elusive

Something strange happens to a person when they are watching sports. One starts to feel that if, oh....if we could...just....score...that everything will be better. Things will taste better, you will suddenly look skinnier in the mirror, 2+2 will equal 5 and if you have a dollar and your friend has a dollar, you will somehow have more money than him. I know it sounds crazy but that is sometimes how I, and millions and millions of other people, feel.
It seems that these feelings are always amplified in times of hardship. During the Depression, people rooted on Seabiscuit, not only because he was a great racehorse, but because his small stature compared to the other thoroughbreds seemed to symbolize America's struggle at the time, a great horse who remained great even after all of his troubles. It is a curious thing that America always loves the underdog. Are we the only country that feels this way? I've thought about it for a long time and I think the reason for it is that we have a large capacity to believe in miracles. We know they've happened before. We've chronicled them and discussed them and when ever someone is in need of a miracle, though it is unlikely, we still feel that it CAN happen.
This elation of feelings was something I went through as I watched the Arizona Cardinals play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the most storied franchises in football, tied with the Cowboys and 49ers for the most Super Bowl wins, with the #1 defense in the league and the hot-shot quarterback Ben Roethelsberger who always bravely sacrifices himself to make a play going against the lowly Arizona Cardinals, one of the worst franchises in the NFL, who had never won an NFC Championship much less a Super Bowl, helmed by an old and battered Kurt Warner who, before this season started, had to fight to keep his quarterback position from the young, inexperienced, and frankly not-that-good Matt Leinart. Everyone thought that the Steelers would win but they also thought that maybe...just maybe...the Cardinals could get it done. And what a story that would be! It had to happen. It just had to. God would grant us this small mercy in these times of trouble.
When Arizona took the lead in the 4th quarter, to go up 23-20 with 2:30 left on the clock, they had the momentum and we knew their defense, who had played so well the entire game, could put it away. Couldn't they? Emotions were high and I began to feel that if they could pull it off, then everything would be right with my life. Miracles do exist and it would be proof.
But how deflating and draining it was when, with :35 seconds left, the Steelers scored the game-winning touchdown even though the Cardinals had three guys covering him. It was an amazing play. Even I have to admit that. But the play took everything out of me and everyone else in the room. No one talked. We had believed but our dreams had been dashed by one throw and catch.
How much did the game mean? Probably nothing. I'm not even a Cardinals fan. But, at the time, the game became so much more. Miracles do exist but that night they were elusive. My heart goes out to the Cardinals who played so well when no one gave them a chance and who sadly, will probably not be back to the Super Bowl for a very long time. But the saddest thing of all was to miss seeing something that we knew was in our grasp. We could have held it up in front of everyone's face and said, "That night, no one was better than us. And you can't take that away from us." And though its sad that we cannot say that, we can take comfort that though we were not the best, we hung in there with the best all the way till the end. Never quitting or letting up. Perhaps theres a miracle in that. It'll have to do.