I enjoy seeing how good architects are able to combine visual artistry with engineering innovations. Skyscrapers are a good example of how the two fields blend together, and you can see some more information and pictures at

Some famous architects that I like include:

Lately a lot of computer science departments around the country have been getting lots of money for new buildings. Here's a couple of them.

I notice they don't make "buildings" or "offices" anymore. Now people only make "centers."


One of my favorite paintings is Van Gogh's Road with Cypress and Star, but the only place I've ever seen it is on a poster in the men's restroom at Bixby's Bagels here in Urbana. Compounding the problem is that Bixby's has since closed. Luckily, I finally found an image of the painting on the Web, so now you too can enjoy it, but without having to be a man in Urbana breaking into a closed restaurant. I like several other Van Goghs too, such as the ubiquitous Starry Night.

Everybody should go to Washington, D.C. sometime and check out the Smithsonian Institution, which runs nearly a dozen museums.


My favorite Chicago restaurant is Everest, where you can get a grand seven-course dinner called, quite grandly, the "degustation." You also get a superb view of Chicago from the restaurant's 40th-floor location. On the downside, it was so expensive that I had to eat nothing but Twinkies for the next few months.

Michael Jordan's Restaurant is good, but there's always a long wait. I especially like the banana pudding and the clam chowder, which is better than some of the chowders I've had in New England. The upstairs dining room is quiet and comfortable, in contrast to the noisy bar downstairs which is a great place to watch Bulls games. There's a gift shop too, but the stuff isn't all that nice. Luckily, Niketown is just a few blocks away!

In Boston, Bertucci's is a good pizza chain. Toscanini's is the place for ice cream, but I also like Herrell's, and I liked Emack and Bolio's when they were around. Jasper's must have made the best lobster in the world, but they've unfortunately closed. You can still find Jasper White's cookbook in some bookstores, however, and he's moved on to work for Legal Seafoods.


I haven't read any non-computer science books for a while, but recently I read some of J.D. Salinger's books. They're all short and easy to finish, although not necessarily easy to understand. Actually Salinger has really written only one novel, and the rest of his books are collections of previously published short stories. Anyway, here are some of my thoughts:

More recently, I started reading a story about the CIA by Norman Mailer, called Harlot's Ghost. I don't know why I chose that book, because the darned thing is like 1,300 pages long. And when I went to see how many pages there were, I saw the last three words of the novel: "To be continued." Yeah. I read and read and read and finally got up to page 201, but by then the book was about four weeks overdue. It was a very good 201 pages, though. You should try reading Mailer if you have the time.

One of my favorite poems is e. e. cummings's anyone lived in a pretty how town, and one favorite short story is It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.


One way to judge how much I enjoyed a movie is by counting the number of lines in the movie that have found their way into my daily speaking. From that perspective, some of my favorite movies are, in no particular order:

A Few Good Men
Col. Nathan Jessop: "You want answers?"
Lt. Daniel Kaffee: "I think I'm entitled."
Jessop: "You want answers?"
Kaffee: "I want the truth!"
Jessop: "You can't handle the truth!"

The Godfather, Part II
Michael Corleone: "In my house! In my house! Where my wife sleeps, and where my children come to play with their toys!"

Jack: "There's a bomb on the bus!"

Jack Dawson: "I'm the king of the woooooorrrrrrrld!"
Rose DeWitt Bukater: "Look, Jack! I'm flying!"

Okay, so maybe that's a bad way to judge movies. Other movies that I like range from Chungking Express to most Jean Claude Van Damme movies.

The following are links to random comments about a few movies that I've seen. Some of them are intended for people who have already seen the movies, so they might contain spoilers. If you're looking for regular, saner movie reviews, you can try the Internet Movie Database.

Here are Robert Irie's thoughts on movies and books. You can take a look at all the things we disagree on, but be warned that he uses big words like "frame of reference" and "conundrum," and he actually knows (I think) how to spell "McConaghey."


My two favorite groups are probably U2 and Pink Floyd. Shine On You Crazy Diamond is one of my favorite guitar works.

Here is a test with some lyrics from a song in Chinese.



You have to cheer for the Chicago Bulls if you live in Illinois (even though Urbana is probably closer to Indianapolis). Of course they haven't been doing as well recently, ever since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen left. Hopefully the Indiana Pacers will have some better luck now that Larry Bird has returned to Indiana as their team president.

Hicham El-Guerrouj is the most incredible middle-distance runner (1500m to 5000m) that we've ever seen. Watching this guy run is scary. "Economy of movement" is Roger Bannister's description of El-Guerrouj's running. He just doesn't look like he's working very hard, even when he's breaking records.

Switching from pure speed to pure strength, you can check out Bill Kazmaier, one of the earlier winners of the World's Strongest Man contest that you can see on ESPN at odd hours of the day. Bill Kazmaier sometimes appears as an announcer on the show. He still looks huge.


I don't watch much TV, except for some sports and an occasional late night show. But I do have a strange fascination with infomercials. There seem to be two kinds of infomercials: those that sell exercise equipment, and those that feature a host with a British accent. The ads always have at least two hosts, one of whose jobs is solely to present information in the form of questions, like some perverted Jeopardy game. "Bob, you mean to tell me that I can get the exercise machine and car wax for only $29.95??"

My latest favorite infomercial is the one for "Slam Man," a blue plastic and foam human-shaped dummy that you hit for exercise. The newer model also has lights embedded in the dummy, which act as targets. When the light flashes, you have to hit that spot on the dummy ("Just like whack-the-froggy!" said Jacqueline).

Where did the idea of 30-minute long commercials come from? How do these companies get endorsers like Chuck Norris, Christie Brinkley and Sugar Ray Leonard? Why do people like me actually watch such shows?

Here are 25 things you wouldn't know if it wasn't for TV, a list of many of the things I've always wondered about movies and TV.