Inspired by the always entertaining Tom the Dog in this post, I thought I'd do the same, as he suggests. Herewith, my abecedary of things I like and appreciate in this world. There's a lot for many of us who gripe perhaps a bit too much to be thankful for.
Asterix. I was raised on these albums. The combined genius of Udzero's illustrations and Goscinny's writing (and in English, Anthea Bell's unsurpassed translations) influenced me a lot as a kid, and bring me joy still.
Brubaker, Ed. The man writes some damn fine comic stories. I recently finished Coward, the first "Criminal" collection. Terrific, ultra-gritty noir stuff. And I'm getting into "Sleeper."
Children. I love kids; always have. Almost every single one of them has the potential to become the greatest human being in history. If only society wasn't so hard on them.
Dylan, Bob. I count myself very lucky to have lived in the time of his second greatest creative streak. He's never been better in concert, and in this modern age of CDRs I can hear a lot of those concerts without having to follow him around. Thanks for the music, Bob.
Evan Tanner novels back in print.
Friends. I have a few --- very few --- but they're good people and I love them.
"Good Vibrations." This is the best song ever written.
The Hold Steady. I can't begin to express how much this band means to me. Seeing them in concert was almost a mystical experience; not because they were so good (though they are the best band in the world), but because of the feeling of camaraderie and good-will they emanate.
The Internet. I truly believe that it is the greatest invention in human history, more important than the printing press or the airplane or television or electricity --- but we're too stupid to use it right.
The Jungle Book. A superb book adapted into the Disney film that, if not the best drawn or most resonant, is in my opinion the most fun. Baloo in King Louie's court. George Sanders as Shere Kahn. "The Bear Necessities." Just pure amusement, this.
Kucinich, Dennis. The tough-talking Democrat gives me hope that someone with power cares, even when deep down I know the Bastards are in control. "If people want to know what kind of president I'll be, they only have to know my background to know who I'm in government to represent: those who aspire to decent jobs, a decent wage, health care, a roof over their heads, education for their children."
Literacy. Whether it's Moby-Dick or a comic book or a Newbery winner or a magazine article or "Pericles," reading is one of my life's greatest pleasures. It separates us from the beasts.
Mangoes. The fruit of the gods, the apple of the east, nature's nectar.
Netflix. Truly, one of the best ideas of the last ten years. A very easy way to mainline old TV series (like "The Wire," "The Shield," "Rome," "Entourage," etc). I absolutely love it. And, they keep lowering the price! Crazy!
Order of the Stick. A webcomic created by Rich Burlew. I'm hooked, and I don't even like D&D.
Pogo by Walt Kelly. The best comic strip ever created: insanely original in its use of language, always a feast for the eyes visually, genuinely loving in message. Some of its political jibes are as sharp as ever today.
Queen. Not exactly in regular rotation on my playlists, but a damn fine band that starts with Q.
Rhino Records. The kings of reissues. I gladly buy albums I already own when Rhino comes out with the definitive deluxe editions. (I like real rhinos more than the record label, but thinking about their status worldwide makes me sad.)
"The Simpsons." After all these years, some of the sheen has worn off and some of the joints are creaking, but there's more to it than that: it's a monolith of popular culture. I honestly don't think a day goes by when I don't, consciously or unconsciously, slip a reference or inflexion borrowed from the series into my speech with friends and family. And the movie --- excellent.
This is Spinal Tap. Another cultural monolith. And the popular legacy of this one --- you know it --- goes up to eleven.
Unbreakable. M. Night Shyamalan made the movie that was in my head!
Verne, Jules. The grandfather of science fiction.
Women. Boy, some of them are attractive, aren't they? They're like the Grand Canyon or the Mona Lisa, some of them. "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." Song of Solomon: Biblical erotica.
X-Men, the movie by Bryan Singer. Good stuff. It's not Casablanca, but it is as well done as a movie about mutants fighting can be, and it starts with X. I liked the sequel just as much.
Yay! Being almost done with long lists is nice.
Zulu. One of my very favorite war movies, a tale of heroism (and some panic) in the face of overwhelming odds, based on a true story.
Compiling this list was an exercise in positive thinking, but sometimes it backfired. For example, I wanted J to be for Jusitice, but I realized I couldn't think of any high-profile examples of justice, rather the opposite. That unrepentant criminal Alberto Gonzales refusing to remove his corrupt ass from the seat of power, some of the finest young Americans getting their limbs blown off in the name of nothing in particular; child killers getting ten years instead of a quick bullet in the brain, and so forth. In the same vein, I would have liked to have something in there about clean water and air, but again, the environment's been losing a war against Big Government and Business, Conglomerated for about six years now. I may enjoy Fiji bottled water, but it's a shame that I feel I need to buy it.