Saturday, April 30, 2005
59


when any mortal(even the most odd)

can justify the ways of man to God
i'll think it strange that normal mortals can

not justify the ways of God to man

- e. e. cummings
posted by lochan | link
0 comments and fresh takes

Friday, April 29, 2005
kings of leon fashion plates

Tonight we were reading the paper and saw a picture of these guys. Now, I have no idea what their music is like. I've never heard them. I guess it's some sort of retro 70's southern rock. I don't really care. Each of these pretty boys is trying harder to create an image, a look, than anyone I think I've seen. ever.

The gist of our conversation:
Me: The guy on the left is Ryan Adams..
David: meets Beck.
Me: The next guy is Black Crowes meets..
David: Jim Morrison (not the early years).
Me: The next guy is Audrey Hepburn..
David: meets the Beatles.
Me: The guy on the right is Duran Duran..
David: meets Eddie Money (not the later years).
posted by lochan | link
5 comments and fresh takes

konnichiwa


Today we had a great day reading and talking about Japan. The girls wrote haikus.

Grace's:

Delicious sushi
wrapped in seaweed, tasty treat
do you like it too?

Lillie's:

Chicken and soy sauce
chicken and soy sauce are good
eat them with chopsticks

We were pretty hungry for lunch (if you couldn't tell). So, they did some math while I ran to a fancy little market down the street (think Trader Joe's, but more uppity and much more expensive - how does Joe do it? and why won't he offer mail-order?). I picked up some Nori, sticky rice, tuna, cucumber, some rice crackers and Pocky.

We had delicious sushi, teriyaki chicken, and my new personal favorite, sliced cucumbers dipped in rice vinegar.



I showed the girls my dolls that I received as a gift for Doll Day. We were going to make carp kites for Boy's Day, but got distracted. Maybe we'll do it on the real Boy's Day (May 5th).
posted by lochan | link
2 comments and fresh takes

doubt


..doubt itself is a passionate exercise. I think it's perceived in this culture as something weak or denatured, and that's a huge mistake. Conviction is what you do to be comfortable, to write The End on thinking. Doubt keeps you in the present, it keeps you conscious and reacting to and acting on what is going on now. It's work and people like to avoid work.
-John Patrick Shanley

I love this quote. I think in some ways, it is so right-on. But, having spent a lot of time wallowing in Doubt, I think it's missing something, too. You have to realize when doubt is futile. When you've worked that angle, and it's time to move on. When you have doubt about something that is unknowable (God, an afterlife), there's a point at which you have to simply choose what to believe.

A few days ago I wrote to a friend, "I find going to church and believing things in a more traditional way is very comforting to me. When I tried to boil God down to the essence of what I know to be true, I would up with NOTHING - because we can't know anything. Now, that I think of him as a man and I believe in Christ again, I have a peace and a hope that I need. It could just be the comfort of believing with the same faith that I had as a child, but I don't even care."

I have felt God's love strongly and I have felt what I would call "the Spirit". When I was in my doubting-mode, I dismissed these things. But, while dismissing them may seem more rational, is it? I can't conjure up those feelings of love or spirit at my own whim. I can't choose it, so doesn't that leave a door of possibility open? And, when I have experienced them, it really has been incredibly comforting.

I have no idea why these experiences come sometimes and at other times, prayer feels like hitting a brick wall. I'm pretty sure it has to do with my head and my heart, though.

I really enjoyed church last Sunday. I thought back to when going to church was painful for me. When we didn't go to church, that didn't feel right. When we went, I wanted it to help me out, turn me back to something I wasn't anymore. But, instead, I'd find myself fighting tears or getting really angry. Sometimes both.

I know the church hasn't changed. But, somewhere I did. I'm not asking the church to be everything to me anymore. I just want a space to think about the things that really matter. I want my kids to be at church. I want us to learn about Christ and follow him. When I was pretty sure I'd never be a Mormon again, my aunt told me that you've gotta give your kids something to reject. We laughed, but I think that's right. You have to give them (and yourself) something.

Doubting is hard work, but so is believing. But, it's a work that's lighter and has more comfort in it. With doubt, God felt like a impenetrable wall that I couldn't climb or even reach. With belief, God is an open door. And, sometimes, I feel like I'm let in.

posted by lochan | link
3 comments and fresh takes

Thursday, April 28, 2005
blog comments, dooce, and if bono had a blog


When I first started reading blogs, I never commented. Never. Because it didn't even occur to me to comment.

When I started a blog of my own then I started to make comments on other people's blogs. Because when you have a blog and people comment, it makes you feel very nice in your tummy. You think I'm joking a little bit, but I'm not.

(If people don't comment on my blog, my feelings aren't hurt because there are lots of posts that I've read, thoroughly enjoyed, and just walked away. And that still happens more often than not.)

When I first started commenting, I would take a good 15-20 minutes to decide just the right sentence. I didn't comment unless I had something funny or meaningful (or what have you) and then I would take great care in my commenting.

Now, I probably don't take enough care. If I have something to say, I just say it. And, then it's done and I can't take it back most of the time. But, who cares? It's just a blog and no matter what junk you come up with, the blogger will appreciate it. In their tummy.



I wrote that about a month ago and thought it was fairly useless, so I never posted it. But, yesterday I saw something that made me think about blog comments again.

What I saw was dooce (at dooce.com). You've probably heard of her because she's a big name in the blogosphere. She's won bloggies, she gets interviewed in national publications, and she makes money off of her blog (I just got a certificate from Amazon for $10 from this blog and I'm pretty stoked - thank you, blogging-readers-who-purchase-from-Amazon-through-me). She doesn't need my little endorsement when she has Time and Newsweek to do that, but she is good.

Dooce has just the right mix of being a smartass, being in pain, and making you laugh. She swears quite a bit, but she usually does it with great timing, so it works. She's been blogging for four years, so I don't have the time or desire to read through her archives, but I've browsed a bit, and was blown away by how raunchy, confessional, and funny she can be.

But, my point was her comments. She had previously taken them down. I think in part because too many darn people read her blog and what's the point? Probably, too, because she gets a lot of crap for being an irrevent former Mormon (she dishes the dirt pretty good, but no one likes to have it dished back). A few days ago her readers found that she had added comments to her pictures and she had over 300 comments. The weird thing was, the comments were almost all totally inane. At least a third of them were saying Yaay comments are back and I can't believe comments are back and another third were about how they liked her hair.

Which made me think, this is what comments would be like if Bono had a blog. Because everyone would want to feel like they reached out and touched Bono. But, when it comes down to it what does anyone really have to say? I really like your music. I'm your biggest fan. If you just got to know me, I'm sure we'd be best friends.

I love U2, and besides his latest stint as a clothing salesman, I admire and respect Bono (as if I know anything about him really). But, if I actually met the guy, what would I have to say to him - human to human? Nothing.

Still, if he had one, you know I'd read his blog.
posted by lochan | link
7 comments and fresh takes

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
a moment of silence


Thus Spoke Crapples is no more. This was the funniest blog ever, and Crapples is quitting.

And, he didn't even leave up Classic Crapples. Jerkstore. (I guess I'm still in the anger phase of my grief.)

Although I know I shouldn't be mad at Crapples - I should be mad at The Man. If Crapples didn't have a full-time job, you know he'd still be blogging.
posted by lochan | link
2 comments and fresh takes

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
70's TV Catch Phrases
These catchphrases are unforgettable

Fonz
Heyyyyyyy!

Flo
Kiss my grits

JJ Walker
Dynomite!

Arnold
Whachoo talkin' 'bout Willis?

Rerun
Hey! Hey! Hey!

Kojak
Who loves ya, baby

I already made like infinity of these at scout camp

Barbarino
What? Where? (or, I'm so confused)

Chico
Lookin' Good!

Horshack
Hello... how are ya? (or, Ooo! ooo!)

The defect in that one is bleach

Mork
Shazbot (or, Nanoo nanoo)

This tastes like the cow got into an onion patch

Richie
I found my thrill on Blueberry hill
posted by lochan | link
1 comments and fresh takes

Monday, April 25, 2005
Hey, it's good to be back home again

Hassel Smith, Untitled No. 5, 1961.

We've been home for a few days, and it feels good to be back.

We had a great trip going and coming back. The girls are so easy to travel with now. It sounds small, but I'm glad not to be constantly twisting backwards to help them with something or to feel the need to entertain them.

We listened to Story of the World for a while, the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack quite a bit, Paul Simon, and The Killers. The "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier" refrain is now a family favorite (I'm sure that was the intent when it was written).

Thanks to Shea's blog, on the way there David and I discussed the best band names (talking heads, black flag, red hot chili peppers) and the worst (10,000 maniacs, lisa lisa and the cult jam, aztec camera). What's amazing is the number of bands that you can actually pull from memory. There's so much information stored that you rarely access.

On the way back, we came up with an idea for a movie - a film if you will. Although we probably only have enough solid material for a short, at the time it really felt like if we just had filmmaking skills, a budget, actors and the equipment, we had a mega hit (or, at least a cult classic) on our hands. Now that we've shaken off the dust of Nevada, it seems like maybe not so much. Still, I'm going to write it down.

Whenever we go to California, we always feel a little homesick and stupid for ever leaving. It feels like home there and it feels like we belong. But, when we come back to Idaho it feels good here and the feeling dissipates.



When we first moved to Idaho, I thought this is where everyone who went to BYU moved. This is what happened to everyone on campus. I thought going to BYU was like going to college in the 1950s. Living in Idaho is, too.

Here are things I've noticed about Idaho:
  • the honky factor is through the roof
  • the christian factor is through the roof
  • the republican factor is through the roof
  • the kid factor is through the roof


  • I can see why Idaho would be someone else's idea of purgatory or boresville. But, I'm honky, christian, conservative (although I prefer Independent over Republican) and I have kids. I don't need my neighbors to look and act just like me to be satisfied, but I do enjoy the family-friendly environment here. I know some people would say that Idaho is a neopuritanical society (as if that's a bad thing), but I like living in the '50s.
    posted by lochan | link
    0 comments and fresh takes

    Saturday, April 23, 2005
    Small Problems In Living
    Indecisiveness
    Sarah Hobbs, Untitled (Indecisiveness), 1999

    Insomnia
    Sarah Hobbs, Untitled (Insomnia), 2000

    Perfectionist
    Sarah Hobbs, Untitled (Perfectionist), 2002
    posted by lochan | link
    4 comments and fresh takes

    Friday, April 22, 2005
    stuff I don't get - part II

    Stuff I don't get - part I

    1. bald heads with ponytails
    2. Tyra Banks when she whispers "You're on your way to becoming America's Next Top Model"
    3. that "adult" and "mature" have become synonymous with "skanky".
    4. people that purchase from spammers. There are people out there who actually slap down a credit card after they read an email titled "Don't think. Just act." or "This stuff not really expensive as before."
    5. Gene Simmons - this guy is living proof that fame can seriously. mess. you. up.
    posted by lochan | link
    2 comments and fresh takes

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005
    engrish.com
    I found a funny website, engrish.com. It shows bad english translations in Japanese products and ads. When we were in Japan, we saw some of the worst stuff. Of course, I remember none of it now. Here are some of my personal favorites from the site.









    posted by lochan | link
    3 comments and fresh takes

    Monday, April 18, 2005
    you can't make this stuff up
    We just got back from In-n-Out Burger. Lillie shared a shake and a 7-UP with Grace and I think got herself pretty hopped up on sugar. She was sitting on her grandma's lap, who started to complain about Lillie's bony bum.

    Lillie: "I know. Isn't that the best?"
    Grandma: "You are a nit wit."
    Lillie: "I'm not a nip whip. [bursts into song] I am not a nip whip. I am just a child with three problems. One, a bone problem. Two, I'm annoying. Three, my feet stink."

    She sang this over and over and with repetition it became more funny. Truly classic.
    posted by lochan | link
    3 comments and fresh takes

    Saturday, April 16, 2005
    i'm so boring i won't even do this


    I've been itching to get out of town lately. We've been talking about a trip to Denmark, DC, or Texas but nothing comes of the talk. I brought up the idea of a visit to Yellowstone, which is much closer, and it just made David cranky. This is why work sucks. A vacation isn't even fun when you have to come back to the stress of that much more work that has to be done.

    So, I've decided to take a vacation that doesn't even involve leaving home. I'm going to take a vacation from my values. I'm going to get hopped up on No-Doz and coffee and start talking really loudly no matter where I go. I will wear blue eyeshadow and leopard prints and cuss people out for no apparent reason, and then get stupid drunk and pass out.

    Except that doesn't even sound fun. Because there's no way I could pull off a leopard print.

    And, actually, we are going to California tomorrow. David's got business there, and we're going to visit the in-laws and some friends. It should be fun. It's not exactly what I have had in mind, but I'm excited to go because it's a different view and a different state.

    I may or may not blog while I'm gone.
    posted by lochan | link
    6 comments and fresh takes

    Friday, April 15, 2005
    Latin: why and what


    We started learning Latin this year. We like it. When I first discovered The Well Trained Mind, I liked most everything about it, but it was History that intrigued me the most. And, as far as Latin, I wasn't going to do that. It's a dead language, it's boring, what's the point?

    As the years went by, it seemed like the more closely I followed The Well Trained Mind, the more smoothly things went. I was also reading the WTM boards and there were a lot of people talking about Latin. I started thinking about it. But, I knew I wanted to study Spanish and Sign Language with the girls and I was having a hard enough time getting that done, so I just couldn't see trying to heap Latin on top of everything else.

    Then, last year we bought La Clase Divertida (a Spanish curriculum on videotape) and really loved it. I found as I scheduled more carefully, and found programs that worked for us, we were finding the time to get everything done.

    I did a lot of reading, and I decided that learning Latin would reinforce English vocabulary (because over 50% of English words have Latin roots) and English grammar, it would be helpful (I hoped) in learning Spanish because of the commonalities there, and it would be a good intellectual exercise. That, and I think Susan Wise Bauer is like, sooo super smart, and she thinks it's a good idea.

    Then, I had the task of choosing a curriculum. On the WTM boards there are a lot of discussions and comparisons, but it's really hard to know what would work for you because one person will love a program and another will hate it. I knew I wanted something with video instruction, because I was pretty intimidated about teaching something that I would be learning myself.

    After reading several people who were happy with Latin for Children and looking at their website, I bought it. We have really enjoyed it. I didn't expect my 6 year old to study Latin, but she has wanted to do it (I wouldn't buy this for a 6 year old, though. I'd wait until at least 8 or 9). Lillie does the maxims and the chants, and has learned quite a bit of vocabulary, but she is not old enough for learning the noun jobs or working on translations.

    The Latin for Children curriculum follows the 4-year history cycle, uses the classical pronunciation (although it explains ecclesiastical) and has DVD lessons. Each week, we watch a father teach his daughters the lesson. The lesson includes a chapter maxim ("In principio erat verbum. In the beginning was the word. John 1:1" is the first chapter maxim), noun declensions or verb conjugations, and then a list of vocab words. There is usually a grammar page as well. We review each day (and sometimes create Latin flash cards, but lately we haven't been). On the second or third day, Grace completes a worksheet and on the third or fourth day, she completes the last worksheet.

    The curriculum reviews the previous lessons every five chapters. The program is secular except for the first chapter maxim, and the Apostle's Creed listed in English and Latin at the end of the text. The program has lots of fun chants and songs and we've been very happy with it.

    We have kept up with Spanish, too, and it hasn't been confusing. The approaches are very different. With Latin, there is a lot of chanting and vocab memorization and with Spanish (we're waiting for Level 3 to come out with La Clase, so we are using Symtalk now, which is a great program) is geared toward conversation.

    If I had to choose between Spanish and Latin, I'd choose Spanish. But, I like doing both. We are learning different things, in different ways, and they compliment each other. Neither the girls or I want to do an hour of Spanish every day, but we like doing 20-30 minutes of Latin and then 20-30 minutes of Spanish.

    And, while I was intimidated by it, Latin has turned out to be FUN. Latin is less stressful than Spanish (for me, I don't think the kids care one way or the other) because anything we learn feels like something accomplished. Whereas with Spanish, we have a goal of actually being able to converse. It's a good goal, I like that goal, but Latin is more fun than I thought it'd be.
    posted by lochan | link
    0 comments and fresh takes

    Thursday, April 14, 2005
    no cheesing on the dance floor, baby


    My girls just found out this year what 'fart' means. Not that they didn't know what a fart was, or make daily fart-related jokes, but in our home we like to add a touch of sophistication to our comedy. We call them cheesers (as in 'cutting the cheese'). Cheese is the verb. Cheeser the noun.

    There are two songs that the girls like to sing, "I like to cheese it up 24/7 in my short-shorts" and "No cheesing baby. No cheesing on the dance floor, baby." (Growing up my family called them farts, flatus, and flatulence. Our song was "Flatus in the air" song to the tune of "Strangers in the Night". I knew more Latin then I thought.)

    Cheesers are funny because how bad the smell is depends on who laid it. You can be totally objective about your own cheesers and not be repulsed. You know it's really bad, but you are unphased. If I smell a random cheeser in a public place, I am relieved when one of the girls gives me a sly smile. Although it's much worse than my own, it's still comes no where near the utter gross-out of smelling the gasses that have eeked out of a complete stranger's person.

    The weirdest thing about cheesers is they are still funny. I've been laying, hearing, and smelling them for over 30 years now, and they still crack me up.
    posted by lochan | link
    3 comments and fresh takes

    our next american idol


    We usually just watch the trainwrecks on American Idol and enough of the show to know who the winner is. We've watched a little more this season, but I had no idea who the real contender was until Tuesday night. Now I know. Not only does Constantine have a rock-star name, but he can actually rock the house. Although I hope Scott Savol sticks around for awhile, I think Bo and Carrie are the only other people who might take it home.
    posted by lochan | link
    3 comments and fresh takes

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005
    good friends


    I got back in touch with a great friend from high school recently. We talked about all the great times we had, and laughed really hard. Just her laugh brought back memories. I was talking with husband about our different friends, and I realized what my teen years would have been like without the great friends I made in junior high and high school.

    Growing up, my best friend and I were really close and we were a lot like each other. When we got into junior high, she started shoplifting. I tried it once (classic peer pressure situation - I stole some eyeshadow) and I hated it. I hated how nervous I felt before, I hated how guilty I felt afterwards. My friend didn't have the same problem with it, because she started with make-up and moved up to clothes, and took stuff pretty regularly. A group of us were interrogated by the Dayton's Shoplifting Police because Heidi (name has been changed to protect those who Google their own name) stole a swimsuit. I had to sign some form that stated I intended to shoplift. I didn't, I just wanted to get out of there.

    That was a not a death-blow to our friendship, though. I just decided not to do it again, and I didn't. Heidi could make her own choices. What was a problem was Heidi kept bringing me to these parties and ditching me and I'd end up bored out of my mind talking to some drunk guy named Bob slurring "I come to parties like this so I can meet a nice girl like you" or some other drunk guy, probably named Mike or Steve, who kept singing "Laura Bora fa fee fora, da dee zora. Loh-ra." and thinks he clever.

    This is boring, ugly crap. It felt dark, greasy, lame, and mind-numbingly boring (I know there were kids in high school who drank and had fun, but that wasn't my experience). I had other friends at school and church friends who were not into this kind of scene, and after the episode with the Laura-Bora guy, I decided not to hang out with Heidi anymore. There were other issues going on with her, too, but I don't think I need to get into the gritty details.

    With my church friends (and school friends) I had a blast in high school. We went to stake dances, Super Saturdays, hung out at our houses, went to high school dances, we ran around Valley Fair, we had a blast at Youth Conferences, we went dancing at Widget's (a Chuck E. Cheese, I kid you not, that was turned into a dance club on the weekends), we went to the movies, had so much fun at girls camp, we ran around the mall, we went to Ragstock, we hung out at Perkin's, we went to concerts, we went to Second Avenue in St. Cloud, we just had fun. Some of it was silly or whatever, but it was always so much fun. I just laughed my head off with these people.

    None of us got drunk. None of us slunk off into bedrooms with people we shouldn't have. Sure, we made out in parked cars. We followed guys home when we probably shouldn't have (the guys would always say, "Come to a party" which was pretty funny 'cause there was never a party - one time we were all sitting around at one of these "parties" and this one guy bursts out "Who wants to make out with me? Any one of you. Right now." Yeah, that didn't work). But it never got dark or heavy. It never got too stupid, ugly or boring.

    If I hadn't had the great friends I did, it might not have been as easy for me to shrug off the loser high school scene. I'm so glad I did.
    posted by lochan | link
    0 comments and fresh takes

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005
    the S-word


    We all have our own priorities. Growing up, it was important to me not to drink or smoke. I have never smoked a cigarette. Ever. It hasn't been hard to abstain, because I'm not a big fan of cancer.

    Throughout high school and college, I only drank once. I was 16. I told my bishop, he said it was no big deal, just don't do it again. And I didn't. I think that's pretty cool that I did what I set out to do, but it surprises me a little.

    What I didn't give a flying flip about was swearing. Which is weird because in many ways I was a hard core mormon. I didn't swear in every day conversation all that often, but I told three of my teachers off (every member a missionary), I swore when I was upset, I swore when I was mad at my sister or my brothers. I had good friends who were sisters who would get into fights and they'd say stuff to each like, "Jerk!" or "You make me so mad!" And, I'd think what is that?? You aren't mad if you don't swear. Now, that I think about it, "jerk" is a lot more appropriate for a 14 year old than "You f-ing be-otch" but my siblings and I had some anger issues, I guess.

    I broke myself of swearing while I was at BYU. Whenever I'd hear other people swear, it just seemed so common. Swearing is supposed to pack a big punch, but it's used so often, it usually doesn't. Most the time it's just tired. If you use real language, you'll usually come closer to what you really meant. Although, there are exceptions (and, at the end of the day "follow your heart. That's what I do." )

    I rarely swear now, and when I do it's generally because of a computer malfunction. If I read a book that has a good amount of swearing in it, I'll find myself swearing in my head for awhile. Which is odd, it's a response almost outside of my control. Everytime I re-read Catcher in the Rye, I get this sarcastic, swearing monologue going on in my head about the most mundane things.

    My husband and I still use words like suck, crap, and the occasional ass will slip out. Our girls do not approve.

    A few weeks ago, Lillie was reading a story about a ship. She had to sound out ship, so she says sh-ih- And, then she stops. "Mom, that sounds like the S-word." I laughed. "I know, honey, but it's not. It's okay." Then, I thought for second. "Where did you hear that word?" She said, "You said it." Oh no, I think. But then, I think again. So, I say, "Whisper the word in my ear." After a little coaxing, she whispers in my ear: Shush.

    I simply cannot convince her that this word is actually okay.
    posted by lochan | link
    1 comments and fresh takes

    Monday, April 11, 2005
    The Bono I believe in isn't short of cash, mister!

    Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Bono is now hawking a collection of jeans, T-shirts, chiffon dresses and shrunken blazers? He's out there pushing it while sporting his own pair of Edun jeans.

    Of course, this is Bono, so the mission is larger than selling expensive jeans with metallic stitching and Rainer Maria Rilke's poems embroidered inside their pockets. It's "a marriage of social activism and aesthetic innovation."

    Says Bono: "Larry Mullen is hard to please in terms of quality, and for years, rock 'n' roll bands have been putting out T-shirts that fall apart, and we've always had good-quality shirts. So we had to prove to the band that this was better quality than what we're used to, and we did."

    Mary-Kate and Ashley couldn't have said it better. I can't wait for the infomercials.

    posted by lochan | link
    2 comments and fresh takes

    Philip Roth


    The whole content of my being shrieks in contradiction against itself. Existence is surely a debate... - Kierkegaard

    Philip Roth is one of my favorite living writers. I also enjoy Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, Anne LaMott, J.D. Salinger (does he count?), and I used to love Kurt Vonnegut, but I haven't read anything new in years.

    Portnoy's Complaint
    The thing about Philip Roth is I love the way he writes, and I really enjoy his books, but I haven't read everything of his, and I'm not even sure I want to. Portnoy's Complaint is supposed to be one of his best, but from what I hear it's a cross between Literature and American Pie. I don't really want to read about some guy getting (uh-hum) intimate with a piece of liver. The Breast is about a guy who wakes up and, much like Gregor Samsa, finds he has turned into a huge human breast. I may be missing out on something, but I think I'll read Austen instead.

    American Pastoral
    The first book I read of Roth's was American Pastoral, and the book blew me away. It was a seriously fabulous book. It was real. It was devastating. It was about the American Dream - a great kid with a nice life who marries a nice girl and has a daughter. He lives his life well, he's a good dad. But, despite all of that, his life crumbles. His daughter becomes a protester, a fanatic, and a terrorist. It was similar to a Jane Smiley book (where she takes something good and then smashes it) or Anne Tyler (it doesn't sum up nicely or have a good ending, but it's real), but with a different edge.

    The Human Stain
    I started The Human Stain and quit. It was very dark, and although really well written, I chose something lighter. My mother read it and when I told her I had stopped, she said, "Oh, Laura" in her perfect Relief Society President voice and explained how it was what made the book great, and let you understand the characters (or something along those lines). I get all that (and that is one book I do want to pick up again), but sometimes you don't want to read about people with their secrets and their compulsion to hurt other people.

    Ghost Writer Counterlife
    I read The Ghost Writer and The Counterlife. I think I may have read another Zuckerman book in there, but I'm not sure. They were great books. His sexuality plays a bigger role in these books and they were harder to relate to. But, well written and worth reading.

    Letting Go When She Was Good Goodbye Columbus
    Then, I read three of his early works: Letting Go, When She Was Good, and Goodbye Columbus. They were all truly phenomenal. You could hear the youth in his voice, you could sense the lack of cynicism (he's still cynical, but it's the cynicism of youth). But, that wasn't what made them great. They were great because they sucked you in, and you believed them.

    Operation Shylock
    You know what's at the heart of the misery of a breakdown? Me-itis. Microcosmosis. Drowning in the tiny tub of yourself. -Operation Shylock

    I just finished Operation Shylock. Great book. Sort of. I mean, it made me think, and laugh, and think some more. It was really well written and the themes explored are truly genius. But, I got this feeling now that he is "PHILIP ROTH: GREAT LIVING WRITER" he doesn't have to edit anymore. The book is 398 pages and there are times I thought this guy is just rolling, he's just letting it all come out and he isn't looking back. Sometimes that's really great. And, sometimes it's just tedious. People in this book are constantly monologuing to each other. One monologue ran on for eight pages. I felt like saying, take a breath. But, then he says something brilliant or funny and you forgive him.
      ...there are occasional anti-Semites, who engage in nothing more really than a little anti-Semitism as a social lubricant at parties and business lunches; moderate anti-Semites, who can control their anti-Semitism and even keep it a secret when they have to; and then there are the all-out anti-Semites, the real career haters, who may perhaps have begun as moderate anti-Semites but who eventually are consumed by what turns out in them to be a progressively debilitating disease.
      -Operation Shylock
    In the book (which is fiction), he writes about himself Philip Roth the writer meeting another man also named Philip Roth who happens to look like him and is posing as Philip Roth the writer. He explores issues about his self as a writer and as a Jew, his loyalties to America and Israel. He explores Zionism and Diasporism. He explores the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. He attends the court proceedings for John Demjanjuk and muses on whether or not this man is Ivan the Terrible (and if he WAS, is it possible that he is no longer that same man). Name a dichotomy, he explores it. Name a Jewish issue, he explores it.

      "You are that marvelous, unlikely, most magnificent phenomenon, the truly liberated Jew. The Jew who is not accountable. The Jew who finds the world perfectly to his liking. The comfortable Jew. The happy Jew. Go. Choose. Take. Have. You are the blessed Jew condemned to nothing, least of all to our historical struggle."

      "No. I said, "not a hundred percent true. I am a happy Jew condemned to nothing who is condemned, however, from time to time to listen to superior Jewish windbags reveling in how they are condemned to everything. Is the show finally over?"
      -Operation Shylock
    There are sections in the book where you can't go for more than two or three sentences and not read the word jewish or jew. It's a very Jewish Book. It sounds like a weird thing to say, but it is the most Jewish Book I've ever read. Which, I found interesting. As a Mormon, I feel like my religion is a huge part of me. A part I couldn't let go if I wanted to. I used to think it might be similar to what Catholics and Jews feel like. After reading this, I really don't think so. I think it's very different when race and religion are not distinguished, and your history is incredibly complex and long.

      I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you - it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.
      -Philip Roth
    Despite some of my reservations (which, if you notice, are about books I haven't read or finished), Roth is a great writer. Everything that I have read has impacted me. I think I'll try some of his non-fiction next.
    posted by lochan | link
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