For quite some year now, I’ve been posting articles ranking discographies from many of my favorite musicians and bands. But what do I think are the best albums of all time? Well, that’s far from easy! My list changes often, especially as I’ve been going through the book 1001 Albums You Must Before You Die. (I’ve only listened to over 260 of those so far.) So, here’s a new annual feature: My 10 Favorite Albums series!
ABC has a TV series that I think will be a force for good in autism advocacy: The Good Doctor. Based on the Korean TV series of the same name, its main character is Dr. Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore. Dr. Shaun Murphy is an autistic doctor who is working at St. Bonaventure Hospital.
Now I want to stress a few things. First, I have no knowledge of the Korean version of this show. Second, medial dramas are not something I normally watch. I tend to watch science fiction, superhero, action, and fantasy programs.
I’ve heard this show has been accused of being “inspiration porn”, or at least a borderline example of it. I’m not sure if I agree. When I think of “inspiration porn”, I think of something that presents a disability as an obstacle, as if to say “If only the main character was normal, his/her life would be better.” Or “Look how cool this person is because of his special disability!” I don’t see either of these.
Dr. Murphy got his position because of Dr. Glassman, the president of St. Bonaventure Hospital. Dr. Glassman has been a mentor for Shaun since his teen years. Shaun did not have an easy childhood. He was often bullied or ridiculed by both his peers and adults. Glassman, however, saw potential and nurtured that potential into the man Dr. Murphy is today. In the pilot, the other staff members are unsure if they should let him work there, but Glassman reminds them that there was a time when black people and women also had difficulty getting medical careers. To him, Shaun is no different.
In 1979, The Cure released their debut Three Imaginary Boys. Although Bauhaus predates them as the first Goth Rock band, The Cure is probably one of the most well-known. This time around, I’m ranking all of The Cure’s studio albums.
1) Three Imaginary Boys (1979) ***
Single: “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”
(Note: The United States had a different debut, Boys Don’t Cry, which yielded them their first US hit with its title track. The track list for this is mostly the same as their UK debut)
Although Robert Smith would disagree, I find this debut isn’t bad. There a few tracks that miss the mark, but it’s overall a great start.
Best Tracks: “10:15 Saturday Night”, “Foxy Lady”, “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”
2) Seventeen Seconds (1980) ****
Single: “A Forest”
This is The Cure’s first true Goth Rock album, and is still considered one of their strongest. Not bad for an album this early in their run. It totally averts the “Sophomore Slump”, but fame would not be on their side yet.
Best tracks: “Play For Today”, “Secrets”, “A Forest”
3) Faith (1981) **1/2
Single: “The Holy Hour”
This album seems like a few steps down despite Robert Smith still showing his strengths as a vocalist. I wasn’t too impressed.
Best Tracks: “The Holy Hour”
4) Pornography (1982) ****1/2
Single: “The Hanging Garden”
This is a true early success, containing “One Hundred Years”, which would become a live favorite. Simon Gallup’s bass line accents Robert’s vocals well.
Best tracks: “One Hundred Years”, “The Hanging Garden”, “Siamese Twins”
5. The Top (1984) *
Single: “The Caterpillar”
This is the first real dud for the band. It’s mostly forgettable, save for a couple tracks.
Best Tracks: “Wailing Wall”, “The Top”
6. Head on the Door (1985) ***
Singles: “In Between Days”, “Close to Me”
Founding drummer Lol Tolhurst left before this album, becoming the first founder to leave (although he would return for a brief period later on) This album also marks Porl Thompson’s introduction, turning the band into a quintet. The album sold modestly in the US thanks to its singles.
Best Tracks: “In Between Days”, “Six Different Ways”, “Close To Me”
7) Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) ***1/2
Singles: “Why Can’t I Be You”, “Just Like Heaven”, “Hot Hot Hot”
This was The Cure’s first true breakthrough, with three big hits. It started a big wave that would continue for two more albums.
Best Tracks: “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep”, “Why Can’t I Be You”, “Just Like Heaven”, “Hot Hot Hot”, “Shiver and Shake”
A few years back, I conducted an interview with Annah, the main character from Clay Gilbert’s book of the same name, and the first in his series, Children of Evohe. In that time, he has had to change publishers from the now-defunct PDMI to Dark Moon Press. He has now published two books simultaneously. This time, I interview her two “sister-friends”, Chelries and Liara. To Annah and her people, friends who are especially intimate are considered family, so they are both her sisters and her friends.
- It’s been a year since Holder and Annah have married. How are you adjusting to coexistence with humanity? *both laugh* We have never really had any difficulty “coexisting” with humans, at least those who are willing to coexist with us. Yes, there are terrible images of what humans did to Evohe in our people’s shared Memories of what we call the Breaking of the World, but Holder, Goodman, the Maestro, Maria Cantriel, and even Brian Stelson–so many humans never personally treated us badly. I think we both agree that misunderstanding is harder one on one.
- I’m told Annah has started a group called “The Circle” and one of its members is autistic. What is your impression of him? Chelries: “Our circle is a thing that does not really have a name–unless Annah is talking about it, she does pronounce it with that sound you give it, that “thing” sound–but even she just thinks of it in terms of what it does, and not so formally. Liara: “That is not the point of what he is asking, sister. He is asking, I think, about friend Jason. Jason Treader. That’s a subject I know you like. Chelries: “Oh! I do like him, very much He is less guarded than other humans sometimes, even less so than Holder. That is very comforting. And he does not mind dancing with me, and can even keep up. Liara: (smiles) I like him too. He likes stories, and has even told me some of his own, and those of his world. This ‘autism’–I have heard him speak of it as well, but I do not think of it as separate from him, or a thing he ‘has’. It is merely a part of who he is, and that is all.
- What other members of the Circle have you found the most challenging to teach and learn from? (Liara and Chelries look at each other, as if trying to decide who’s going to answer first) Chelries: I think we both had some difficulties adjusting to Maria Cantrell, when she was with us. Liara: Yes. We were not entirely sure what to make of her in the beginning, but we trusted her, because Annah did. And then we came to see what Annah saw in her, and we loved her. And then she was gone. But we remember her fondly. Chelries: There has also been Brian Stelson. It is truly remarkable how much he changed, even more so than Maraia did. Liara: Sister, that may be because there was even more in friend Brian that needed chaning. Chelries: I suppose that is true, and I suppose that is the point.
- Your culture seems to place great emphasis on music. What is your favorite thing about human music? Chelries: The rhythms! Human culture seems to have found many more ways to make a beat than we have, but then I suppose they have more ways to do it. It is wonderful, anyway. Liara; The fusion of melody and verse. We do not have so many songs with words here on our world, not ones of our own. Song-shapers like Annah, and word-shapers, like myself if I may say so, may one day change that. Chelries: And then I will dance to those new songs! *laughs*
- What is your opinion of our food? Chelries: Very tasty. Holder and Anah talked Llew and Danae, Annah’s parents into making a human meal called ‘pizza’ from a recipe he had found. It was delicious. Liara: I agree! I could have eaten at least half of it by myself. Chelries: Hmph! I would not have let you
This month’s interview is with a Catholic woman named Jennifer Lynn Bolt, who I met through a FaceBook group called Catholic Geeks. She has a son named Jakob, who has cerebral palsy. I asked her questions about how her faith helps her cope with such a wonderful child.
1) What was your childhood like? Were you raised as a Christian?
I had a mostly fun-filled childhood. My parents, my brother , and I were happy, other than the fairly normal sibling conflicts, made a bit more challenging due to my brother having dyslexia and failing at school while I excelled. I loved to learn, and I still do. I attended public school, and religious education classes weekly at our church as well. The whole family went to mass on Sundays and all holy days, sometimes more often.
2) What’s your occupation?
I previously earned my degree in history and worked in museums and living history, as well as in banking and in retail clothing sales. I even was an independent Mary Kay cosmetics consultant for a while.
But now I call myself a Professional Mother. Others may say housewife, stay at home mom, or homeschooling mom. While those are true for me, I also have for the past twelve years, implemented a home-based treatment program for my sixteen-year-old son, who is severely challenged by a neurological condition called cerebral palsy.
3) Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Why?
I have several favorites, and the ones I draw inspiration from have changed at different times of my life. But here are three of them that have continually impacted my life.
MARY–I love and revere Mary, for her beautiful, beatific example of absolute faith despite God’s plan for her being so radical and scary. She of all people knows. She really gets it.
DAVID–I will always love David for the psalms he wrote. He taught me that even if you really get angry, even if you yell at God, He can handle it. He will always be there for us if we turn to him. Yeah, David could really be a rascal, and he made some HUGE mistakes, but he always came back to God with true contrition. David also taught me the beauty of God and his love for us through the Psalms, and that God’s mercy is boundless.
PAUL–Paul’s life is an AWESOME testament to what God can do for anyone. He was originally Saul, a Pharisee who persecuted Christians, and thanks to God’s miraculous, radical changes in him, he became the most important teacher of all Early Christians, writing all those letters of guidance to the scattered Christian communities. I thank God for Paul, for his history and teachings that formed the pillars of my Church and my faith.
4. Favorite Biblical verse or passage and Why?
1st Thessalonians, Chapter 5, verses 8-11. Especially verse 11: “But since we are aware of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.
5. How did you feel when you learned Jakob has cerebral palsy?
At the actual moment of diagnosis, I was relieved to have a name for whatever it was so that I could find out more about what I could expect. I was a planner. I wanted to know when he would be able to walk, talk, feed himself, etc, in comparison to the normal developmental milestone growth charts everyone was always talking about in regards to child-rearing. To tell the truth, I could not recall ever hearing of cerebral palsy before. However, when I researched it, for a while I was very frustrated and angry. I was really upset that there weren’t more definitive answers.
I know now that almost all neurological conditions, there are more questions than answers, and more variety within the diagnoses than most will ever know. So, this diagnosis gave me none of the answers I was seeking. I had to throw “the plan” I had in my head out the window, and embark on this journey with no road map at all. It was overwhelming, to say the least. Thank God that my family and my faith were there to support me.
6. Can you explain how you cope with his disabilities?
My faith in God and the redemptive nature of struggles has pulled me through many difficult times with Joshua, however I am most grateful that God has given me the grace be able to see Joshua for the blessing he is, and to see his intelligence and his progress, how far he has come versus how far he still has to go. So I am able to focus on the joys of his bright personality, and regarding the difficult stuff, just prioritize quickly and do what needs to be done moment by moment.
In order to learn best how to help him, I have taken many courses on child brain development at The Institutes of Human Potential, http://www.iahp.org. Thanks to taking Joshua to them regularly for over ten years, I have been able to help design and implement a home-based intensive treatment program, with the goal of physiological, physical, intellectual, and social excellence.
I also recruit and manage a team of volunteers from our parish, our community, and our local University who help him, mainly with the physical components of that program. These wonderful and generous people have not only helped Joshua, but also have taught me how allowing them to help has blessed them. That when I ask for help, it is not just for my family, but it is also giving them a priceless opportunity. Assisting us, and getting to know Joshua teaches them far more about life and the value and dignity of every person than any regular college course or even theology course could, I think.
This year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated 19 musicians for the Class of 2018 Induction ceremony. The nominees are as follows. My picks are in orange.
Bon Jovi: The 80’s glam rock superstars from New Jersey still have an avid fanbase to this day. They are one of the few artists on this list still recording, and their latest album, This House Is Not For Sale, was released last year.
Kate Bush: The innovative alternative rock musician has collaborated with Peter Gabriel and is best known for her song “Running Up That Hill”.
The Cars: This new wave act was a big hit in both Classic Rock and New Wave, with such classics as “Let The Good Times Roll”, “You Might Think”, and “My Best Friend’s Girl.
Depeche Mode: The innovative “dark wave” band managed to have a following that continues to this day with their latest album Spirit.
Dire Straits: Mark Knopfler’s band is best known for their commentary on the rise of music videos, “Money For Nothing”.
Eurythmics: This new wave duo of Annie Lennox and producer Dave Stewart was a big hit in the 80’s, with their most famous single “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, later ruined by Marilyn Manson.
The J. Geils Band: One of the best rock bands of the 80’s, this band is best known for songs like “Love Stinks” and “Centerfold”.
Judas Priest: One of the big 4 Heavy metal bands (along with Metallica, Megadeath, and Slayer), Judas Priest is one of the biggest acts in the genre.
LL Cool J: Although today he is known for his acting in NCIS: Los Angeles and Toys, LL Cool J was one of the earliest “Old school” rappers, famous for his song “Mamma Said Knock You Out”
MC5: A prototype for punk rock that came out of Detroit. Their name means Motor City 5.
When Disney acquired Star Wars from George Lucas, they decided to release one movie each year at Christmas. This started with Episode 7, The Force Awakens. In addition to the main movies (the “episodes”), we would also get movies that touch up more on the mythos of the franchise. Rogue One was just the first of these. Because it is the most recent Star Wars movie released, I have chosen it to end my retrospective. I don’t think I’ll be able to see The Last Jedi before the end of the year, so I will wait for the DVD.
Rogue One takes place before the very first Star Wars movie and follows a team of rebels attempting to retrieve the plans for the first Death Star (because Return of the Jedi has a Death Star too).