Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Don't you ever wish you could go back with all the knowledge you have now?" - Uncle Rico

I turned 16 in 1985. When I first got my license, I took off alone in my 1970's blue Granada to visit friends in Annandale. I turned right onto Highway 10 and then turned left onto a road that we called Airport Road. I crossed the train tracks and suddenly had an incredible feeling of freedom and independence.

Being by myself in the car was completely different. I realized that I could go anywhere. I could drive until I ran out of gas, if I wanted to. Going to see my friends was even better.

Driving alone now is old hat. But I'm glad I can remember that rush.

I loved that car. It was kind of crappy, but it was mine. It never died on me. Driving to school instead of taking the bus was great. Almost every weekend I was driving somewhere to see somebody or do something.

Good times. Sometimes I do wish I could go back, but I wouldn't do one thing differently. Well, maybe my hair.
posted by lochan | link
7 comments and fresh takes

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The Simpson's Quotable Quotes

Marge: Oh, it's so cozy.
Velma: You're insincere. I like that.

Prison Boss: No listening! You hear me?
Homer: Uh... no?

Lisa: Yeah, well, no offense, but maybe I need a little more instruction than just "tappa-tappa-tappa".
Little Vicki: Why, back when I was your age, I had 43 movies under my belt, and I had to do it without tappa-tappa-tappa. I would've killed for tappa-tappa-tappa.

Little Vicki: Self-tapping shoes? I'm ever so pissed!

Lisa: Dad, we're the MTV generation. We feel neither highs nor lows.
Homer: Really? What's that like?
Bart and Lisa: meh.

Homer: So you think you know better than this family, eh? Well as long as you're in my house you'll do what I do and believe what I believe! So butter your bacon!
Bart: Yes father.
Homer: ... Bacon up that sausage, boy!
Bart: But dad, my heart hurts!

Homer: [reading Ned Flanders' letter] You are my brother.
[Homer, Lisa, and Bart giggle]
Homer: I love you.
[Homer, Lisa, and Bart laugh]
Homer: And yet, I feel a great sadness... in my bosom.
[Homer, Lisa, and Bart laugh uproariously]
Marge: I think that's terrible! A man opens his heart to you and you make fun of him!

Legs: Johnny Tightlips, where'd they hit ya?
Johnny Tightlips: I ain't sayin' nothin'.
Legs: But what'll I tell the doctor?
Johnny Tightlips: Tell him to suck a lemon.

Reverend Lovejoy: Marge, get a divorce.
Marge: But Reverend, isn't divorce a sin?
Reverend Lovejoy: [holding up a Bible] Have you ever read this thing? Everything's a sin. Technically we're not allowed to go to the bathroom.

Native girl: Mr Homer, there are so many religions in the world-which is the correct one?
Homer: Well, I'm not's definitely not the Unitarians though...if it's them I'll eat my hat! Next question."


Dentist: Lisa, so you won't be scared, I'll show you some of the tools I'll be using. This is the scraper, this is the poker, and this happy little fellow is called the gouger. Now the first thing I'll be doing is chiseling some teeth out of your jawbone. Hold still while I gas you.

Grandpa Simpson: I used to be With IT. But then they changed what IT was. Now what I'm with isn't IT, and what's IT seems scary and weird. It'll happen to YOU.

Carl: If I didn't have inner peace, I'd completely go psycho on all you guys, all the time.
posted by lochan | link
3 comments and fresh takes

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
tom cruise is a freak

I know you already know. I really didn't plan on blogging about Tom Cruise today. But, for some reason today I've got nothing. Just too much other stuff on my mind to be original, I suppose. So, today I'm just sharing.

There's a really funny post with the Matt Lauer interview at You Can't Make It Up

If you missed the freak show on Oprah.

To see the Tom Cruise as a Sith clip, go here.

I'm sure this is a sign I have spent too much time on the internet.
posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

Monday, June 27, 2005
if you want to be the ultimate non-conformist, you're probably not

I wrote this in a comment on Shea's blog already, I was just thinking about it and wanted to post it here.

Back in the late 80's I saw four guys walking through the Minneapolis Skywalk. They were dressed identically - black leather jackets, plaid flannel shirts wrapped around their waists, jeans tucked into doc martens. They even had matching mohawks.

On the back of their leather jackets, they had each written: CONFORMITY SUCKS.

I'm not making this up. I swear.
posted by lochan | link
7 comments and fresh takes

i'm back, baby

We went to Salt Lake for a few days. It was fun. We went out to eat a lot, went swimming, and hung out in downtown Utah. We were with David's brother and there were a lot of jokes to enjoy. David's comedy tends to repeat itself. The recurring themes for this weekend were "get a room" ("I think a bald head is more attractive than a balding head." "Get a room.") and "I can't take my eyes off the passion" (unoriginal Seinfeld joke, but it has a lot of different applications).

There were more freaks and bums than I remembered hanging around Temple Square. There was the type that approached you directly, the type that simply held up a sign and didn't make eye contact, and there was one guy singing the blues. We were also approached by a couple of punks. By punks, I mean they were punk kids who were trying very hard to gain Sid Vicious' approval. I didn't even think twice about turning them down. First, they asked for money for food. They both looked very well nourished. Second, I'm sure it takes a good chunk of change to look that fashionably anarchistic.

We passed one bum who looked very odd. His gut was hanging out of his shirt and I think he was wearing a stuffed bra. David's brother kept turning back to look at him, trying to figure out his gender. We made a couple of jokes (see recurring themes above) and then Grace asked what we were talking about. I thought for a second and said, "One of God's children." Which changed the whole direction of our conversation. That guy is somebody's child, was somebody's baby, and God loves him now. Even though he's messed up. That made me feel more compassionate.

I love downtown SLC. There is a nice variety of architecture, a great new train system, and lots of good nostalgia. In college, we'd head up to Salt Lake to go dancing, thrifting, go to a concert, or just do something different. We lived in Salt Lake for six months back in 1992 when we first got back from Japan. I remember walking home from a friend's place and just soaking up the fact that we were in America. Everything seemed so wide open and familiar and just, like, home.

It's nice how it's good to get away and it's good to be home.
posted by lochan | link
3 comments and fresh takes

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
short break

I'll be out of town for a couple of days, so I'll talk to you (and I mean you) on Sunday or Monday.
posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

The DaVinci Code

This is from an email I wrote a group of friends last year. We had an email book club, and this was my take on The Da Vinci Code. This won't make that much sense if you haven't actually read the book.

I totally enjoyed the book, but I thought a lot of the guy's "research" was one-sided, funneled only to uphold his argument and a lot of it his logic had big holes. His argument about Disney being a Priory member was a good example of the leaps he makes that don't always connect. When you actually know something about it, it doesn't quite hold up. "The Little Mermaid's name, Ariel, possess powerful ties to the sacred feminine, and in the Book of Isaiah, was synonymous with 'the Holy City besieged.' Of course, the Little Mermaid's flowing red hair was no coincidence either." Oh, of course! It's obvious, now.

I thought one of the most ridiculous scenes in the book was when they were looking at The Last Supper. They almost seemed to think they were looking at a photograph of the actual event instead of a painting done almost 1500 years after the fact. If you look at John the Beloved sitting next to Jesus (or, Mary, if you buy the theory), you'll see he does look very feminine.

The Last Supper, John the Beloved, detail

The Last Supper, John the Beloved and Christ, detail

However, you have to realize that this is John the Beloved, the youngest of the apostles. He is traditionally shown more feminized. Christ's face looks somewhat feminine as well.

John the Baptist

If you compare it to a painting the DaVinci did of John the Baptist, you'll see it's almost the same face. And the second picture is obviously a man. In Albrecht Durer's engraving of the Last Supper, John has fallen into the arms of Jesus. From a modern perspective, it looks a little strange, but it doesn't make John Mary.

Another thing to know about DaVinci's Last Supper is that it depicts the moment that Jesus has just announced that someone will betray him. This would explain why Peter is looking menacingly at John. The hand and knife is right in front of Judas (the guy on the left with both of his hands up looking like 'I didn't do it"). I think this has a lot more to do with Judas' betrayal of Jesus than the church's betrayal of Mary Magdalene. Plus, the hand is not disembodied - both a preliminary drawing by Leonardo and early copies of "The Last Supper" show that the hand and dagger belong to Peter - a reference to Peter drawing a sword in defense of Jesus.

The Last Supper (click to embiggen)

The fact that Jesus and John form a V was obviously done on purpose (I don't quite see the M), but to say that that negative space represents the sacred feminine and the chalice is reaching. It could be (because it could be anything), but it seems more likely that it is an optical trick, to draw your eye to the center of the painting. To me, the fact that there were 13 cups is not strange at all. It's only strange if your whole focus is on a fancy Holy Grail.

Madonna of the Rocks

His description of the Madonna of the Rocks was also inaccurate. I looked at both versions and, to me, Mary's hand does not look like eagle talons and the angel's hand appears to simply be pointing at John, not slicing off a head. Also, when he says that Jesus is "presumably" the child next to Mary, he is not. Anytime you have a baby with his fingers up in blessing, that is "presumably" Jesus. Also, anyone who has read the New Testament knows that John the Baptist is older than Jesus. The child kneeling looks older than Jesus.

Madonna of the Rocks, second version

The second painting has the same set up, it just adds halos and the angel is no longer pointing to John.

The assertions that Christ's divinity was simply voted on at the Nicaean council and wasn't a part of Christianity before Constantine is ridiculous. The idea that the Catholic church was trying to eradicate the sacred feminine is ludicrous. This is a church that prays to Mary and had the cult of St. Anne (Mary's mother). The sacred feminine is deeply entrenched - just not in a pagan sense. This is a very modern idea that if our god was a woman we would respect women more. I have a tough time believing that tribal, pagan communities that worshipped goddesses (and gods) were so progressive. These are the same people who sacrificed young virgins. Although, the word pagan is actually a Christian term for anyone who is not Christian, so you're talking about a wide variety of religions.

I read an interesting book called The Gift of the Jews and it asserts that western culture has evolved as it has and is great because we moved away from the goddess culture and earth religions. Judaism gave us the concept of the individual, the idea that you can create your destiny and basically laid the foundation for ideas like democracy and justice. Anyway, to get into that book is probably too off the mark, but it was interesting for me to have read that in light of this book.

I liked how fast paced the book was. In the end, things got a little predictable and tied up a little too neatly, but overall it was a fun read.
James C. Christensen

Burden of the Responsible Man by James C. Christensen

I love James Christensen's work. This painting is typical of his work. I don't normally like the word whimsy, but his art is whimsical in the best way.

I love all the crap weighing this guy down. His briefcase is a prickly porcupine, too many keys hang from his belt, a whole family of people perch on top of his head, there's even a fish tagging along. You have to appreciate the dangling carrot.

The Responsible Woman by James C. Christensen

"The reason it isn't called The Burden of the Responsible Woman is that she's so busy she doesn't have time to be burdened! When I asked my wife, Carole, about her burdens, she gave me a funny look and said, 'I don't have time to be burdened.' When you've got so many things going, you might not have time to ponder."

"Specifically, what you have here is 'woman as a spiritual leader,'" says Christensen. "She has a candle, which is my way of showing that she is carrying the torch, leading the way. You notice that she has spare candles. Candles are symbols of light and wisdom. She also has a many-handed clock, which could mean several things, and then there is a compass, I put that in at the last minute, because today's woman really has to try to find her direction. The compass is there to help her figure out which way she's trying to go."

At first, I wasn't sure about this one. Of course I like it, but it is so much more idealized than the Responsible Man. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole woman-on-a-pedestal aspect. But, when I thought about my mom, it seemed right.

View more art by James Christensen.
posted by lochan | link
1 comments and fresh takes

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
public parenting
First Steps by Vincent Van Gogh

The other day I was in church and a mom was talking to her one year old. "You're not choosing the right. No, no. That's not choosing the right. We have to choose the right. You're not choosing the right. Choose the right."

This is a classic example of self-conscious public parenting. This one year old probably doesn't have any idea what choosing the right means. I'm pretty sure that mom doesn't talk that way to her at home.

There are different types of public parenting. The first type is trying to show you what a good parent they are. "I love you so much. You are such a cutie. Yes, you are. Yes, you are. You are." With the sappy voice and the sidelong glances my way. (Without the sidelong glances, this can simply be parental affection. I'm fine with that).

Then, there's the type that's disciplining for my sake. Even though it appears they are talking to their kid, they are really talking to me. "You've never done this before. I don't understand why you aren't sitting still like you always do. You are usually such a happy little camper."

Then, there's the type that is just talking to me through their child. Nothing they are saying is actually directed at their kid. "I'm not buying these cookies for me. They're for you. Mommy can't have them because mommy. on. a. diet."

Have you run into these people? Is their whole life one big imaginary audience? I don't get it.
Monday, June 20, 2005
who's the garfunkel?

No, this post isn't about honky afros (although that's not a bad idea). It's a listing of the Garfunkels of the world. You know what I mean. The one along for the ride. The Garfunkel has talent, but without the other side of the duo, they'd be singing in a hotel bar.

Simon and Garfunkel. Garfunkel is the Garfunkel.
Hall and Oates. Oates is the Garfunkel.
Ike and Tina Turner. Ike is the Garfunkel.
Sonny and Cher. Cher is the Garfunkel.
Cap'n and Tennille. Cap'n is the Garfunkel (I think).
Kid 'n Play. Kid is the Garfunkel. Play is the Garfunkel.

This can be extended to other categories of duos. Mork and Mindy? Mindy is the Garfunkel. John Lennon and Yoko Ono? Yoko is the Garfunkel. Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan? Pippen is the Garfunkel.

Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow was Brad Pitt's Garfunkel? And then Ben Affleck was her Garfunkel? After that, there's no clear Garfunkel. Because J. Lo should be the Garfunkel. Even though she doesn't even have the talent of a Garfunkel, she made it all on her own. Go figure.
Friday, June 17, 2005
spiritual pudding (or, proof of my long standing status as a dingus)

I was reading through some of my old emails and found this little ditty:

Mon, 11 Dec 1995 13:41:08

so i was singing "we all need figgy pudding" when it dawned on me that i need to feed my spiritual self as well. what kind of figgy pudding can i feed my soul? we all need figgy pudding, yes, but we also all need SPIRITUAL figgy pudding.

For some, spiritual figgy pudding may be prayer, for others attending our meetings & for others, figgy pudding.
posted by lochan | link
2 comments and fresh takes

friday poetry
Dylan Thomas
Was There A Time
Dylan Thomas

Was there a time when dancers with their fiddles
In children's circuses could stay their troubles?
There was a time they could cry over books,
But time has set its maggot on their track.
Under the arc of the sky they are unsafe.
What's never known is safest in this life.
Under the skysigns they who have no arms
Have cleanest hands, and, as the heartless ghost
Alone's unhurt, so the blind man sees best.

William Carlos Williams
To A Poor Old Woman
William Carlos Williams

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

Syliva Plath
Soliloquy of the Solipsist
Sylvia Plath

I walk alone;
The midnight street
Spins itself from under my feet;
When my eyes shut
These dreaming houses all snuff out;
Through a whim of mine
Over gables the moon's celestial onion
Hangs high.

Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look's leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.

When in good humor,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott any color and forbid any flower
To be.

Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it's quite clear
All your beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

e.e. cummings
If you can't eat you got to
e.e. cummings

If you can't eat you got to

smoke and we aint got
nothing to smoke:come on kid

let's go to sleep
if you can't smoke you got to

Sing and we aint got

nothing to sing;come on kid
let's go to sleep

if you can't sing you got to
die and we aint got

Nothing to die,come on kid

let's go to sleep
if you can't die you got to

dream and we aint got
nothing to dream(come on kid

Let's go to sleep)
posted by lochan | link
3 comments and fresh takes

Thursday, June 16, 2005
i'm me i'm me i'm me

Susan has a wonderful post about wonder. It makes me think of being a kid on a family trip and passing through a little town in the dark and looking into all the lighted houses and imagining the lives being played out behind the windows. Or, driving through Chicago and peering into the other cars and thinking What's going on in their universe?

I still do that sometimes when I'm driving down the road.

Another thing I remember doing on trips more than other times was wallowing in the whole crazy idea that I'm me. I would say it to myself over and over I'm me I'm me I'm me. I could really freak myself out with this notion of actually being myself.

Maybe it sounds ridiculous, but it's kind of a strange fact to ground yourself in. This is my face I am behind, these are my thoughts, they belong to no one else. I am Laura. I am me. I can't be anyone else if I want to be, and no one can be me. Everyone else is looking at the world through their face with their thoughts. It's trippy.

Late at night I can still get that child-like sense of wonder about the simple fact that I. am. me.
posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
wrong lyrics

So, I always thought in the song In the Air Tonight Phil Collins was singing "Hold on". Turns out it's "Oh Lord". Huh? I seriously just figured that out.

In Bette Davis Eyes, I could swear Kim Carnes said "All the boys think she's a spaz", but I guess they thought she was a spy.

I looked up the lyrics to Blinded by the Light (by Manfred Mann's Earth Band) and man, I got it all wrong. I mean, I knew I got it all wrong. Who would say that anything was wrapped up like a douche?

I looked up ELO's Don't Me Bring Me Down and one site said that the lyrics were "Don't Bring me Down, Grossss" and another said "Don't Bring me Down, Bruce". I always heard Bruce, but I thought it was wrong. Maybe I wasn't.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
worst radio catch-phrase

So, who has the worst talk radio catch phrase with their callers?

Is it Rush with "Mega-Dittoes"?
Is it Dr. Laura with "I am my kid's mom"?
Is it Glenn Beck with "How ya doing, ya sick freak"?
Is it Sean Hannity with "You are a Great American"?

I don't think Savage has one. He likes to say "red diaper doper babies" and "infidels", but he and his callers don't have one tired thing they say to each other. I don't think Laura Ingraham does, either, but I don't catch her much.

I don't get Air America around here, so I have no clue if they have cutesy, rehearsed banter with their callers.
posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

the pretenders

We've been listening to Learning to Crawl. It's a great album.

I love these lines:
    I can’t get from the cab to the curb
    Without some little jerk on my back
    Don’t harass me, can’t you tell
    I’m going home, I’m tired as hell
    I’m not the cat I used to be
    I got a kid, I’m thirty-three, baby
David remembers thinking that was really old to still be rockin'. I just remember thinking 33 was freaking old.

What I want to know is why in the name of all that is good and holy did they sell My City Was Gone to Rush? As soon as it came on, David started in, "With Talent On Loan From God.." It's a good song, but now it just makes me think of mega-dittoes.
posted by lochan | link
2 comments and fresh takes

Monday, June 13, 2005
the ultimate non-conformist

Over the weekend we went looking for outdoor furniture. We are planning on buying a grill for Father's Day. If you knew us, you would be very proud that we are contemplating such a grown-up purchase. For us, thinking about buying something is always more satisfying than actually purchasing, so we'll see if it really happens.

So, we're sitting in Pier 1 on some comfortable patio furniture. And, I realize that what we should really be shopping for is a new kitchen table, because ours is getting pretty crappy.

I say, "The ultimate non-conformist wouldn't buy this. They'd buy a new kitchen table and put our old kitchen table outside." (The ultimate non-conformist has been a topic for David and his friends for years - this is not my brain child).

David says, "The ultimate non-conformist would just drag the old table outside when they wanted to eat outside."

I say, "The ultimate non-conformist wouldn't own a kitchen table in the first place."

Yeah, we didn't buy anything.
posted by lochan | link
3 comments and fresh takes


We saw a sweet and quirky movie over the weekend, millions. It is about two kids in England who find a bag full of money in pounds just a week before the switch to the euro. Anything they don't spend or exchange will be worthless.

The younger boy, Damian, is obsessed with saints and is visited by them regularly. He believes the money was a gift from God. When he realizes it wasn't, he is confused about what to do. His faith in God is unwavering and he has a sweet intensity.

There is a funny scene in the movie where they meet some Mormons and when they mention that they are "Latter Day Saints", Damian perks up. "Saints? I know all about saints." Damian later asks one of them if he's poor, and when he eventually decides that he is, Damian (with St. Nicholas) shoves money into their mail slot. The Mormons come home with new purchases strapped to their bikes the next day. They didn't quite hit the right note with the missionaries (I think they were supposed to be missionaries), but it was funny.

When it first started, I felt like we needed subtitles to get us through some of the language barriers (which is funny, because it's English), but I got used to it pretty quickly. There were a few things I missed out on, though, I'm sure.

If you get a chance to see it, do.

There are a few scary scenes, so I wouldn't recommend it for younger kids.
Besides the scary scenes, there are two quick things that contribute to the PG rating. If you're interested in specifics, gives a detailed breakdown of the movie.
posted by lochan | link
2 comments and fresh takes

Saturday, June 11, 2005
more on prayer

“The truth is that life is both random and on purpose, although not in equal measure.”
, by Stephen King

When Elizabeth Smart was first missing, I prayed for her. As the months went by, I would still pray sometimes but I often forgot about it.

One night, I started thinking about Elizabeth. It had been a long time since I had thought about her. I wondered if she was really dead, and if she wasn't, where was she? So, I prayed.

I prayed that if she were not alive, her parents could know and have closure. To bless them with peace even now, not knowing. Then I prayed for Elizabeth, that if she were alive she would be comforted and feel that God loved her. I imagined her sleeping on a dirty floor, lonely and scared. And then I imagined her being surrounded by the love of God, taking away all the hurt. And I prayed that she would come home. It was a very intense prayer, and I vividly remember it.

A few days later, Elizabeth Smart was found. I was happy and relieved and kind of amazed. I didn't think that my one prayer had brought her home, but I thought that maybe like a drop in an ocean of other people's prayers, I had helped in some small way.

It's nice to think of when you just focus on the happy ending. But when you think about all the sad endings, I really don't know what I think.

I read a Stephen King book (Insomnia) once where he says that in life there is the Random and then there is Purpose. That made sense to me. Of course, it's easier for it to make sense when your own life is good and you haven't been hit over the head with the Random.

Re-reading this, I think it is ungrateful not to recognize God's hand. He doesn't intervene all the time, He doesn't make it right every time, but we should be thankful when He does.
posted by lochan | link
1 comments and fresh takes

Friday, June 10, 2005
power of prayer

I have always believed in the power of prayer. I think its main purpose is to bring me closer to God. But, I have also believed there is the possibility of healing or helping others with prayer. I regularly pray for my children, family and friends.

I don't think of God as being someone who can be bribed or manipulated. I offer some good deeds, some tithing, and in exchange, CHA CHING, here's all those blessings I've earned. I don't think of it that way.

That bad things happen to good people (and good to bad) has never shook my belief in God. Part of making our own choices is that we each can make mistakes. Obviously, some of us make really horrendous choices and it affects innocent people, too. Terrible accidents or disease happen to people every day. I think these things are random.

But, I do want to believe I can help someone else with a prayer. I am not looking for a miracle (although I wouldn't turn one down), but maybe my prayer can make some small difference - bring someone peace, or help someone find the right answer somewhere.

I have been praying for two women I don't even know (yes, I found them through blogs). One just went through IVF for the umpteenth time and I have been praying that she will get and stay pregnant. Another woman is pregnant and her baby is threatening to come too early. I'm touched by their stories, I want to do something, so I pray. I know others are praying for them, too.

This got me thinking. Do these women have an edge over someone who doesn't have a network of people praying for them? Does God take stock in how many people pray? Is expecting my prayers to make a difference, to "work", the same as expecting a blessing in exchange for a good deed?

I'm not trying to be cynical with this question. I likely won't even find an answer and that's okay. I am not going to stop praying. I am not going to stop believing in God. But, I'm starting to think that maybe prayer doesn't work the way I thought. Or maybe it does, and it's alright that it's not fair. Life certainly isn't.
posted by lochan | link
6 comments and fresh takes

Thursday, June 09, 2005
The Butterfly

At the end of November 1941, Jews were transported to the newly established concentration camp at Theresienstadt (also called Terezin), 60 km north-west of Prague, where the Nazis aimed to establish a "model ghetto" as propaganda against international opinion. In reality, Terezin was a way station and most of its prisoners were later transported to Auschwitz.

To give the children at Terezin as normal a life as possible while they were in the camp, the Jewish leaders established a school of sorts, taught by the talented writers, scientists, artists and musicians imprisoned there.

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, a Bauhaus-trained Viennese painter taught art lessons. She enabled the children to describe their pain and sadness, but she also helped them to transcend them. There are sad pictures, but there are also colorful flowers, butterflies, rainbows, and pictures of life at home before Terezin.

In autumn 1944 Dicker-Brandeis was deported to Auschwitz, leaving behind two suitcases containing more than 4,000 works done by the children, now preserved by the Jewish Museum in Prague.

The Red Cross was allowed to visit Terezin once. The village of Terezin was fixed up for the visit. One young mother remembers seeing the bakery window and shelves suddenly filled with baked goods the inmates had never seen before. Even the candy shop window was filled with bon bons creating an illusion she would never forget.

The Red Cross reported that while war time conditions made all life difficult, life at Terezin was acceptable. The Red Cross concluded that the Jews were being treated all right.

In the town of Terezin, the population had normally been around 5,000 people before the war. At the height of the war, the ghetto/concentration camp Terezin held over 55,000 Jews. Starvation and disease were rampant. Thousands died and their bodies were cremated at the small crematorium with four gas ovens. This was not a death camp, by the usual definition. There is no way to compare Terezin to Auschwitz-Birkenau or Treblinka or any of the other death camps where hundreds of thousands were murdered each year.

Terezin was liberated by the Russian army on May 10, 1945. Of the more than 140,000 people who had entered Terezin, only 23,000 survived. Of the 15,000 children who passed through Terezin, only 132 survived.

Pavel Friedman was born on January 7, 1921, in Prague and deported to Terezin on April 26, 1942. He died in Auschwitz on September 29, 1944. He wrote the poem The Butterfly while in Terezin.

The Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing against a white stone...

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly way up high
It went away
I' m sure because it wished to
kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
but I have found my people here
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one,
Butterflies don't live in here,
In the ghetto.
posted by lochan | link
7 comments and fresh takes

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

When I started my blog I didn't put a lot of thought into my url. I knew I wanted something short. I also didn't care if it made any sense or had any good keywords in it. I liked the idea of just picking whatever and not worrying, because who was really going to read it besides myself?

Sometimes my husband calls me Lo-chan. We taught English in Japan when we were first married and you call kids their name plus -chan. It's also a term of affection. So, I tried out lochan. It was taken. So, lchan.

Lchan is fine, I don't regret lchan. But, sometimes it feels a little ridicurous (like Donna Chang on Seinfeld). There's nothing asian about me, but online you don't know much about me, so a person might assume. Although alone lchan doesn't really even seem asian, maybe just huh?

I've tried to think what I would do if I actually tried to put some real thought into it. And, really, I'm just not that creative. Or, I'm too critical. Everything I think of is lame. The unablogger is creepy, shut your bloghole comes off too angry, Scribere (latin for 'to write') is okay but too pretentious. Scribbler? Scribble? Hmmm, maybe.

It doesn't really matter because I'm not changing it now.

In a way, the internet has transformed us all into a bunch of nickname-choosing junior high kids. Hi, I'm sxysadi72 or stampin-mom or catfreak. I mean, you have to pick something.

But, you have to admit. It's a little ridicurous.
Monday, June 06, 2005
D-Day: June 6, 1944

"You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely. . . The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower giving the D-Day order on June 6, 1944.

Assault landing. One of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

"There was another guy beside me and we were the first two off that boat. I went immediately into the water. It was shallow enough that I was able to get up. There was nothing. No bodies - because we were the bodies." - Michael Accordino, who landed in the first wave on Omaha with Company A of U.S. Army's 299th Engineer Combat Battalion.

Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to other members of their organization whose landing craft was sunk be enemy action of the coast of France. These survivors reached Omaha Beach by using a life raft.

Over 160,000 Allied troops and 30,000 vehicles are landed along a 50-mile stretch of fortified French coastline and begin fighting on the beaches of Normandy.

The build-up of Omaha Beach. Reinforcements of men and equipment moving inland.

A group of paratroopers in a French village at St. Marcouf, Utah Beach, France

"The joy of liberation was extraordinary."- Lucy David-Pellerin, aged 17 when Allied troops reached Lisieux in late August 1944.

In April and May 1944, the Allied air forces lost nearly 12,000 men and over 2,000 aircraft in operations which paved the way for D-Day.

Total Allied casualties on D-Day are estimated at 10,000, including 2,500 dead. British casualties on D-Day have been estimated at approximately 2,700. The Canadians lost 946 casualties. The US forces lost 6,603 men.

Casualties on the British beaches were roughly 1,000 on Gold Beach and the same number on Sword Beach. The remainder of the British losses were amongst the airborne troops: some 600 were killed or wounded, and 600 more were missing; 100 glider pilots also became casualties. The losses of 3rd Canadian Division at Juno Beach have been given as 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner.

The breakdown of US casualties was 1,465 dead, 3,184 wounded, 1,928 missing and 26 captured. Of the total US figure, 2,499 casualties were from the US airborne troops (238 of them being deaths). The casualties at Utah Beach were relatively light: 197, including 60 missing. However, the US 1st and 29th Divisions together suffered around 2,000 casualties at Omaha Beach.

The total German casualties on D-Day are not known, but are estimated as being between 4,000 and 9,000 men.

Statistics from
View More Photos
posted by lochan | link
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Sunday, June 05, 2005
i dreamt about blogging last night and i fell out of bed twice

Yeah, so, I thought the whole blogging thing was becoming a little more of a nice hobby and less of an obsession. I dreamt about blogging last night. Which makes makes me think I might actually be cracking up.

I don't really remember it, but I do remember I came up with the most classic blog entry of all time and it was just a one liner. I'm pretty sure it looked nothing like this post.
posted by lochan | link
6 comments and fresh takes

Saturday, June 04, 2005
more on chuck close: grid painting
"When Chuck Close began painting in the early 1970’s, he created works that were photorealistic. Photorealism was a method of painting that was so detailed the finished works looked like photographs. Chuck Close took large polaroid photos of his family, friends, and fellow artists, then used a grid method to enlarge them to mural size. (Most of his paintings were 9 feet tall!) Each section of the grid was treated as a unique painting and was painted separately.

In 1988, Close’s style changed. He suffered a spinal blood clot and became a quadriplegic. He became unable to control his tools with as much detail as he could before, so he had to adapt his painting style. Using a special holster on his wrist to hold a brush he learned to paint a new kind of portrait. Instead of photorealistic work, his paintings are now representational and are based more on pointillism. He still treats the sections of the grid individually, but they are less detailed. Each section has separate colors that blend visually when a viewer steps back from the painting."

This is from a handout I found at Waunakee Community School . I knew that Close was in a wheelchair, but I had no idea what kind of obstacles he had overcome to keep working. He initially painted with his teeth and then recovered some movement in his arm.

The handout also has instructions for kids to do a Chuck Close-inspired self portrait (or anyone! I did one and had so much fun - I'm going to help my girls do one this next week). The students used oil pastels to complete their drawings, but you could also use acrylic paints, colored pencil, even crayons.

Here are some examples of the students' work:

See More Examples.

Project Instructions:
For this assignment, you will be creating a self-portrait based on Close’s later work. As a class you will take digital photos of one another. You will learn how to grid the photo and your paper so you are able to enlarge your portrait. Once you have sketched in the proportions of your face (using the grid for accuracy), you will begin filling in each box using bright colors and designs.

Please follow the guidelines below for a successful project.

  • When having your photo taken, choose an interesting expression. (Photos should be of your face only!)
  • Number and letter the grid on your photo and your paper so everything is aligned. (Make sure you have the same number of boxes in both grids!)
  • Keep pencil lines light when drawing your portrait. Use TWO or THREE colors in the designs or patterns in each box.
  • Use similar colors in the different areas of your portrait. (Repeat colors throughout the background, hair, skin, etc. The repetition will help with the optical/visual blending.)
  • Work on one square at a time, making sure it is colored in neatly and completely. (Use good craftsmanship!)
  • Trim off extra boxes when you are finished!

  • posted by lochan | link
    2 comments and fresh takes

    Friday, June 03, 2005
    chuck close
    Chuck Close is known for large-scale, detailed paintings of portrait heads. Close is the master of photo-realism, but he also creates incredible pictures from finger prints, etchings, and abstract circles and squares. His work is amazing. Seeing it in person is the real way to do it. These pieces are huge and you get the full impact when you see it on a large scale.

    "I don't do commissioned portraits and I don't paint college presidents. I can't imagine what kind of ego it would take to want to have a 9-foot-high picture of yourself. "
    - Chuck Close

    I love that quote - especially when you consider that Close has done so many self-portraits.

    (You can view many of the photos larger if you click on them.)

    Self-Portrait, 1967-68

    Self-Portrait, 1967-68, detail

    Here you see hyper-realism at it's best. This is incredibly detailed. I love the whole mood of this. He looks so haphazard, so bare, and so darn '70s (I know it's the end of the '60s).

    Self-Portrait, 1977

    This has such cool texture. It looks like a computerized photograph.

    Self-Portrait, 1991

    Again, great texture. This is a nearly mono-chromatic take on the circles and squares that look so abstract close up.

    Self-Portrait, 1997

    This is my favorite style of Close's. Up close, this is beautiful abstract circles and squares. The farther away you get, the more realistic it looks.

    Self-Portrait, 1999

    This is a cool black and white variation on the circles and squares.

    Self-Portrait Scribble Etching, 2001

    Self-Portrait, 2004

    Frank, 1969

    This is amazingly huge and incredibly detailed.

    Georgia Fingerprints, 1985

    Phil, 1991

    "Certain images are just more interesting, more compelling than others, and some of those are the ones that I've recycled the most. Sometimes it's formal issues, like Philip Glass with his curly dendritic locks that look like Medusa or something. "
    - Chuck Close

    This is a tapestry featuring the composer Philip Glass. Close did a number of variations on this same portrait.

    Kiki, 1993

    Kiki detail, 1993

    Here you can see the detail of the Kiki painting. It's beautiful as an abstract work, but even this close, you can see that it is her eye.

    This gives you an idea of the scale of the paintings.

    "It's the tension between the marks on a flat surface, and then the image built, that interested me. And I was always a dyed-in-the-wool formalist anyway. I think process sets you free, because you know you don't have good days or bad days. You just show up. You don't wait for inspiration. "
    - Chuck Close

    I love that quote. I like sketching and painting (I was a Fine Arts major my first year of college), but somewhere along the way I got scared of making mistakes. Which is simply whack, because I enjoy the process of trying even when it doesn't quite work out.

    Look at more artwork by Chuck Close.
    posted by lochan | link
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