November, 2004

Nov 04

Men and Cartoons, by Jonathan Lethem

One of my 3 or 4 favorite authors, Jonathan Lethem has written a couple of stunningly good books in the past few years: Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude. He’s been writing quirky sci-fi noir books for a while, and has a history of writing short fiction as well. Lately, like some other notable authors, he’s been interested in comics and comic book heroes — that formed the basis of Fortress.

Men and Comics is a new collection of short fiction that really spans the styles of his career — some of the stories harken back to the noir-Kangaroos in Gun, with Occassional Music, others feel more like his current, more literary work.

Anyway, this is an okay collection — a little bit like popcorn at the movies. A nice-to-read, but not really a must have like his other work.

Nov 04

A History of God, by Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is a very interesting woman — she calls herself a "freelance monotheist." She spent seven yeras as a catholic num, but eventually left, and has taught on a number of topics, including Judaism and Islam.

I read her monograph Islam maybe three years ago — a very interesting, but brief and readable introduction at 200 pages.

This book, A History of God, chronicles the history of the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — goes through the similar origins, points of divergence, and parallel trends.

I found the idea of the book super-compelling, but the content was tough for me. Pretty deep and esoteric theology. I’m going to wait for a bit, then try to read her more recent book, The Battle for God — a look at the fundamentalism that has hijacked each of these three religions. Hopefully it’ll be a little bit easier for me to read.

Nov 04

Old picture from Mac Band.

Old picture from Mac Band. It’s a nice look for me, I think. Posted by Hello

Nov 04

Me in a hat. Nice.

Me in a hat. Nice. Posted by Hello

Nov 04

If this isn’t nice, what is?

Just thought that I’d write down here that it’s been a very very good week. No one thing in particular, just a lot of things with work, family & friends just went very very well this week.

Brings to mind one of my favorite little passages from a not-very-well-known book of Kurt Vonnegut: God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian:

My late Uncle Alex Vonnegut, my father’s kid brother,
a Harvard-educated life insurance agent in Indianapolis
who was well read and wise, was a humanist like all the
rest of the family. What Uncle Alex found particularly
objectionable about human beings in general was that
they so seldom noticed it when they were happy.

He himself did his best to acknowledge it when
times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in
the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and
Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If
this isn’t nice, what is?”

I myself say that out loud at times of easy, natural
bliss: “If this isn’t nice, what is?” Perhaps others can
also make use of that heirloom from Uncle Alex. I find
it really cheers me up to keep score out loud that way.

If this isn’t nice, what is?