...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Monday, August 28, 2006

There's a reason it's not called "the pearl of low price"

Yesterday I was in Border's, browsing around their religion books. On one bookcases in the Christian Inspiration section, there was an advirtisement for their membership card: "Join now! It's free and easy!" It struck me as appropriate, in a funny way, for that shelf, because living a Christian life can be at once both the easiest and most free thing in the world and the most difficult and costly.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Officially off the Shit List: the Eugene Public Library. See, they've been insisting for weeks that I have out an issue of Bitch and a GRE prep book, and I've been ignoring their emails because I was positive that I had turned those in before the due date--I mean, I had a sense memory of putting them in the slot!--and I guess I hoped that the library would find them and sort out the problem itself, since clearly I didn't have the materials. So, I guess I waited a little too long because I got a letter the other day saying they're officially suspending my borrowing privileges until I return the stuff. And I was mad, because I knew that I already had! Except for not, because I just found the GRE book and the magazine in a pile of stuff that I never unpacked from when we went camping in July. Now I'm remembering that I checked out a different GRE book, Princeton Review not Kaplan, and that what I'm remembering turning back in.

Conclusion: Thank God!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I don't study religion just for the hot guys...

...but they are an undeniable perk. Exhibit A: Reza Aslan.

An MTS from Harvard Divinity and an MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop? Is he the perfect man? IS REZA ASLAN THE MESSIAH?

(via Tara Ariano.)

For some reason I thought goats weren't kosher

Quote of the Day, from Holy Days: The World of a Hasidic Family by Lis Harris:

"I asked Mirian if she ever read the classic fairy tales to her children, or any other secular books. She said she didn't, because she wanted the villains and heroes her children grew up with to be Jewish ones. On the coffee table in front of her was a small pile of gaily illustrated books. These were the sort of books that she read to her children at bedtime, she said, handing two small books to me. One was called The Double Decker Purple Shul Bus, the other The Three Little Goats Who Went Shopping for Shabbos."

So I'm picturing the Double Decker Purple Shul Bus ("shul" is the Yiddish word for synagogue) as more or less the Magic School Bus. I wonder if there is a Hasidic version of Wishbone? For some reason I'm thinking there's a ruling in the Halacha (Jewish law) about talking animals, but I'm not sure.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"I've got shiksappeal!" Part 1

Today at Powell's (Yes! Becca and I went up to Portland to do some shopping, but only for a few hours, which is why I didn't contact any one up there) I bought Holy Days: The Life of a Hasidic Family. While I was browsing the Hasidic section (er, shelf) I came across an old glossy book about the history of Hasidism. I didn't get it, because it was kind of expensive and not exactly what I'm interested in--I'm more into books about the lives of Hasids today and especially in the US, not so much the historical evolution of the tradition or the ninety thousand "Tales of the Hasidic Masters" kinds of books. Towards the end of this glossy book, though, there were brief descriptions of the four main Hasidic groups in the US back when this was written (maybe the 1970s?) My guess is that the author was most sympathetic to the Lubavitchers, who were written up glowingly. About the Satmars, the author talked about how antagonistic they are towards other Jews, how they drove a Modern Orthodox rabbi from his home, how they're anti-Zionist and their Rebbe ordered Israeli Satmars not to vote in elections, and how they hate the Lubavitchers. He finished off with something like:

"One does not glimpse much of the love of the Baal Shem Tov ["Master of the Good Name," the 18th century (I think) founder of the Hasidic movement in Eastern Europe] within the Satmar community today."

Whoa! Passive-agressive Hasidic snark. Now that, I can really get behind.

Amy asked a really good question in the comments on my last post: Why am I so drawn to Hasidism, especially since I'm not Jewish? I'll be thinking about that tomorrow and I'll try to get back to you on that soon.

Friday, August 18, 2006

"You are Lisa Simpson."

Some wisdom from the Hasidic masters, as recorded in Back to the Sources: Reading the Classical Jewish Texts, edited by Barry W. Holtz:

"...We are here reminded of a famous quip attributed to Rabbi Zusya of Anipolye: 'When I reach the true world,' he said, 'they will not ask me why I wasn't Moses. They will ask me why I wasn't Zusya.'"

I like that a lot. We don't have to be Moses, or Jesus: we need to be ourselves, as God created us and intended for us to be and to become, and the rest will follow.

May we all cultivate and realize our true selves.

The other day when I checked my referral logs I found that someone had reached my blog by searching "Anipolye"--I'm one of about three results. I couldn't remember when I had possibly written anything about Anipolye, whatever that is (my guess is an Eastern European shtetl), so I re-searched and came across this post from spring 2005, back when I was taking Intro to Judaism. I was happy to reread it and to prayerfully reconsider what Rabbi Zusya is saying to us here.

There's a lot of profound wisdom in Hasidism. Since I'm not Jewish I can't appreciate it on the level of it coming from my own faith tradition, but reading about Hasidism and especially the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I'm always left in awe. Even if I were Jewish, I don't think I could be Hasidic. It's too conservative of a tradition, and I disagree with pretty much all of its treatment of gender. Still, there's something there that's deep and profound and very, very true.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Peter Pan Syndrome

Andy and I were watching Jeopardy this evening. It was some college tournament, and they were broadcasting from some open ampitheater, I guess at one of the kids' universities. Because they were outdoors, they didn't have the normal sound equipment and the kids all had to yell the answers (excuse me, the "questions") to Alex. Two of the three had strong regional accents and their voices were especially grating when they raised them.

Me: "God, I hate these kids."
Andy: "Yeah. Plus, they're dumb."
Me: "God."
Andy: "You know...you're probably older than all three of them."
Me: "No, I'm not...wait. Oh. Crap."

It's true, probably--I'm going into my senior year, which means that, unless one of the contestants was a non-traditional student or took a year off somewhere along the way, I'm either as old or older than all of them.

It's a weird feeling, always, when someone significantly younger than me accomplishes something I never will, like win sixteen thousand dollars on Jeopardy or be an Olympic pairs skater. It's sort of the same feeling as when I look back on someone or some figure from my childhood, someone who seemed really old, unimaginably old, completely adult, and realize that that person was either the same age I am now or younger, for crissakes.

For the past twelve or thirteen years, we've been regular supporters of local minor-leage baseball team. It wasn't until this year, actually, that I realized that almost all of the players--professional athletes, all--are either my age or younger. I mean, on the one hand, it's obvious, but on the other, it kind of blew my mind when my dad mentioned that most of the new players are either nineteen or twenty. "What about Steve Hacker?" I asked. Steve Hacker was one of the star players (relatively speaking--remember, this is a Single A division team) when I was eleven or twelve; in my mind, he was Babe Ruth. "Steve Hacker was, like, forty, right?" Dad looked at me and laughed. "He was twenty, J. Maybe twenty-two, tops."


Sometimes I regret being too young to remember the '80s

"Now Don is trying to act "weak and disoriented." Don is not doing very well with this task, although he's hitting "inebriated clown at a child's birthday party" right on the sweet spot."

Soooo funny.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

They grow up so fast

My little brother is now on FaceBoook. Sniff! Look him up and send him a friend request, if you're so inclined; he's the only other person in the country with my last name.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Wow, you can really tell I'm a blue-stater

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

That map reminds me of a priceless exchange one time in Chile during an all-night carrete:

Jon: "Wait...you don't have a driver's license?!"
Julia: "Nope."
Carla: "Me neither."
Me: "Me neither."
Jon: "Oh, that's right...you guys are from that side of the country."

At least the country map is more respectable:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Edit: My own shame at having been to so few states forces me to clarify that I'm only counting states I've spent significant time in. I've been in airports in Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey, but I'm not counting those, although I'm tempted to to boost my average. I guess I'm kind of afraid of the middle of the country.