Question: What do you
think are the 100 best novels of all time?
Answer: I don't have a blinking clue. Though I've read far more
than 100 novels in my life, I've been so busy with one project or another over
the past few years that whenever I have had time to read lately, I spend it on
nonfiction kinds of stuff like Popular Mechanics, The Journal of Irreproducible
Results, the newspaper, and user's manuals. My recollections,
therefore, of most of the novels I've digested is a little hazy, but I can tell
you what I think are fourteen pretty good ones. I don't know if they would
qualify for any "100 Best" list. Read them yourself and then you
decide. Here they are in no particular order with their authors, but without comment
(except for one brief one) from me, because I wouldn't know what to say other
than I enjoyed reading them for one reason or another. Some of the authors are
missing their accent marks because I couldn't figure out how to do that.
- A Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole
- Glass Shards by
- Null Set and Game by
- The Path to the Nest
of Spiders by Italo Calvino
- Riddley Walker by
- Did You See the Duck
Anywhere? by Lemuel Heifitz
- One Hundred Years of
Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Grendel by John
- Semprini by Antonio
- Voltaire's Thumb
by Boleslaw Przsczesniewski
- Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
by Stanislaw Lem
- A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M. Miller
- The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Freddy Goes Camping
by Walter R. Brooks (Note: I put this title on my list because there's the
character Mr. Eha based on me in it, not because it's great or even good literature.
Freddyites seem to like it, though, but for the wrong reasons.)
Question: You have written
about the "Face on Mars," but what about that "smiley face" on Mars? What's that
all about? Is it just a crater or s it something the Martians made?
Answer: The "smiley face" on Mars is a smiley face built by the
Martians. It is the second largest artificial structure discovered so far in our
solar system. Just look at the image below and then at the computer enhancement,
and you'll see what is obvious to even the so-called scientists although
they refuse to admit it.
Through some recent chance
fluctuations in the interplanetary ether, I have been able to penetrate the Martian
anti-telepathic security barrier at their central data bank using two of my Telepathy
Skullcaps (still available at the sale price) arranged in a series circuit with
my temporal lobes. I was easily able to access data pertaining to large-scale
architecture and the subcategory of large-scale architecture designed to
frustrate attempts to prove the existence of intelligent life on Mars. You
would think that the best way for the Martians to accomplish that would be to
hide all evidence of intelligence, wouldn't you. But the Martians are much
more ingenious than that, I assure you. We all know that your garden-variety human
being has a propensity to project his expectations and experiences onto the
outer world. And we can't help it. That's what human beings do.
For instance, if someone flashed an inkblot at you, would you say, "That's
a random symmetric pattern generated by smearing ink on paper"? No, of course
you wouldn't. You'd say, "It's a bat," or "It's a butterfly," or "It's an extraterrestrial
about to administer a probe." Well, having observed us for many thousands
of years, the Martians know of this deeply embedded inclination of ours, and they
take full advantage of it. Our scientists have interpreted the original smiley
image as an impact crater acted upon by Martian meteorological and geological
processes. The lunatic fringe, on the other hand, sees the same smiley image and
immediately babbles about irrefutable proof of intelligence on Mars. The huge
majority of humans beings between these two extremes naturally gravitates
toward the lunatic interpretation, which in this case happens to
be absolutely correct. However, the billions of humans constituting
the majority of this majority (i.e., "normal" people), having been indoctrinated
in the scientific method in high school and fearing the ridicule sure to descend
upon them if they say otherwise, go along with the scientific explanation and
say, "Well, it looks like a smiley face, but it can't really be
one." Once that conclusion is accepted, a generalization takes hold in the
average person's mind that there are no intelligent beings on Mars at all.
Just what the Martians want us to think!!! So by using a banal and silly
cultural icon created by human beings, they mask their presence on Mars and have
yet another good laugh (or what passes as a laugh on Mars) on us.
Question: You've mentioned
your yard displays many times, but you haven't shown us any pictures of them.
For those of us unable to visit Centerboro, especially during the holidays, would
you please include a picture or two?
Answer: Pay attention! You missed the photo of last year's Hallowe'en
display on a recent picture page. Go there for a look. Below you will see pictures
of my even more ambitious Hallowe'en display for this year. It took me months
to plan this display, secure the materials, do the welding, recover from a very
nasty burn, and move it to my yard on a flatbed truck from the scrapyard where
I assembled it. The creature which now stands in my front yard is my interpretation
of a yekkat-ant hybrid, a truly horrifying concept. Just imagine
a yekkat, a ferocious solitary Martian predator, crossed with the persistent,
unrelenting ant! On our way to a hike in the Big Woods earlier this fall, Mrs.
Underdunk and I took some pictures of the display before it was transported to
my yard. Mrs. U. was gracious enough to pose next to the project to give you some
idea of its scale. By the way, Mrs. U. wanted me to be sure to tell you
that she never, never wears vulgar dungarees other than and only when
Behold the Yekkant!
This unique display will go on the auction block on 11/1/98. Opening bid is
You'll have to arrange for transportation to your site.
Question: Could you
please show us a picture of your new pet dog "Chloe"?
Answer: I certainly will. Here's "Chloe." The other "Chloe" I owned many
years ago was a wonderful beagle. This Chloe is a Brittany, a breed I recommend
to anyone who wants a playful, loyal companion with a sweet temperament. Please
do not ask for any of her puppies, as I do not intend to breed her.
More Short Answers to Infrequently
- I believe we used
lead-free paint in the hand-carved Martian models, but I can't say for sure.
- Yes, EHA Industries is
- I estimate my readership
to be in the several dozens.
- Mr. Webb's first name was
Hubert, and his wife's name was Emmeline, "Emmy" for short..
- You'll have to ask your
pharmacist. When I can't, I use Valerian root.
- Is the Pope really infallible?
How should I know? What possible difference would it make anyway?
- Usually three eggs.
- Sorry, but I don't understand
your "nondeterministic, polynomial-time--complete" question.
- Mrs. U. and I visit Buffalo
quite frequently, as a matter of fact. We stay with some friends who have
a condo on Delaware Avenue, and our favorite restaurants there are Carmine's
- The doctors say I suffered
a lesion on the right frontal region of my cortex from that frying pan injury.
One of them said that I have "Gourmand Syndrome" as a result.
- I'm not particularly
fond of bagpipes. They usually give me great whanging headaches.
- Five favorite North American
cities in order: Montreal, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, and Asheville, NC.
- I always like to be the
shoe, but the top hat is a close second.
- There isn't a Starbucks
in Centerboro, so I don't know.
- The Voynich
manuscript is actually Martian in origin. I believe the original copy is kept
in Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Follow the
link if you want more "information" on it, but it will be wrong.
- Yes, I agree. Dr. Seuss
was a genius!