All posts by Jon

Numb in the Bookstore

Something’s wrong. I went to the Harvard Coop Bookstore and nothing interested me. For the past few years, I’ve found it hard to sit through novels, movies, and TV shows that wallow in the frustration and hopelessness all too common in everyday life. Why slog through hundreds of pages of suffering in the hope of merely restoring the status quo and the end of the book? Seems simpler not to take the journey at all.

Despite my disinterest, I liked movies and TV shows such as The Great Beauty, 20th Century Women, Florence Foster Jenkins, War Dogs, What We Do in the Shadows, The Assets, and Narcos. Some of this has to do with protagonists having at least a fighting chance but I have some other ideas for my fiction likes and dislikes in the following list. This is a personal list of my current preferences. Also, as with all rules about fiction, someone could break every rule, do it well, and write something truly outstanding.

Likes Dislikes
Intriguing mystery Formulaic plot
Sense of wonder Too many defeats
Capable characters Dreariness/ hopelessness/ frustration
Goal that’s bigger than the status quo Abuse of authority
Progress toward that goal Overwhelming corruption
Logical sequence of events Stereotypical characters
Characters I’d want as friends Incompetent characters
Smart, open-minded characters Pettiness
Honest emotions Stupidity
Originality/ surprise Betrayals
Insight “inspiring” stories of sickness and handicaps
Humor/ quirkiness  
Peek into a forbidden world  
For comedy have everyday people in the former.  


This Llama is a Con Man

I paid 10 pesos to take this picture of Lauren with the llama in Santiago. As we were walking away, the llama’s owner came running after us waiving a 10-peso bill and yelling “Falso!” He said I paid him with counterfeit money so I gave him another 10. Only later did I realize he’d swapped my original, real 10-peso bill with the counterfeit one and conned me out of another 10.

Dog Names and Nature’s Balance


I think Emerson said that nature balances living beings’ character and abilities. Consider the shark. Small ones are vicious while the 20-foot whale shark eats only plankton. Aggressiveness and the ability to cause mayhem tend to balance. Fortunately, the same holds true with people. I’ve known several 200-pound weightlifter types but all had sweet dispositions.

I suggest keeping this in mind when naming a dog. Balance the name’s machismo the viciousness of the breed. Attila the Corgi and Cuddles the Pit Bull would be in harmony while Daisy the Yorkie or Heinrich the Doberman would not.