What Are You Reading

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Interesting case; proving the Establishment Clause still eludes constant interpretation however well intentioned.
    Madison desired this particular passage as a bulwark for the human conscience, and juxtaposed near its ratification
    wrought the Reign of Terror which unsheathed a philosophic sword against innate human decency.
     
  2. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    When I read all the recent SCOTUS decisions, I thought to myself, Harp will be busy the next several days.
     
  3. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Location:
    New York City
    Diary of a Mad Old Man
    by
    Jun'ichirĊ Tanizaki
    Published 1961

    An elderly, wealthy, Japanese stroke victim - a man trapped in a broken-down body (limited ability to walk, this, that and everything hurts, round-the-clock nursing, multiple daily pills and weekly shots and doctor visits - you get it) - develops erotic urges for his pretty, sexual and not-of-his-class daughter-in-law who, seemingly willingly, allows for a very, very modest amount of physical contact to take place to arouse and content the "old man."

    Hey, don't judge me, I found this book via a WSJ recommendation and Tanizaki is one of Japan's most notable 20th Century authors with his book "The Makioka Sisters" considered a modern classic (my comments on it here: https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/what-are-you-reading.10557/page-380#post-2302937). And, to be honest, the story is much less creepy than it sound.

    At its best, in Dairy of a Mad Old Man, you feel the frustration and sadness of a once robust life reduced to an almost baby-like daily routine and supervision. A man of wealth, culture and influence is treated respectfully, but like the invalid that he's become, by a family who, as the months wear on, go about their daily lives while the old, sick man - again, not at all neglected - suffers daily disappointment and sadness.

    That his coquettish and somewhat conniving daughter-in-law senses and sometimes plays up to his sexual desires is, God yes, awkward but believable and poignantly sad more than anything else. You can understand how this broken-down man, with few sensual pleasures left, can look forward to catching a glimpse of - or having brief contact with - his scantily clad fantasy. You also sense Tanizaki's comments on class and social issues as none of those matter anymore to this once-proud old man who isn't now thinking about status or background as he simply wants something to give his failing mind and body joy.

    To be honest, had I known the plot beforehand, I would have passed on it, but I'm glad I didn't as this quick read did touch me, did remind me of how quickly a vibrant life can be destroyed and, weird or not (okay, it's weird), showed how a dying man could garner a modicum of pleasure out of the embers of his sexual desires.
     
  4. Just Jim

    Just Jim One of the Regulars

    I've been dipping back into the works of Tony Hillerman. Getting over some injuries in 2001-2002, I read all of his output up to them. I ran across a few of his later work a couple weeks ago, and couldn't resist, currently reading The Fallen Man.
     
  5. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    I followed the Bladensburg Cross case through SCOTUS docket relisting and was surprised that six or seven
    separate opinions resulted; Justice Ginsburg has a rather constricted view of the Establishment Clause,
    and Justice Kagan refused to jettison Lemon altogether.
     
    Fading Fast likes this.
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "All The Answers," by Michael Kupperman

    When I was a little kid, I always felt a certain discomfort at the circus or a zoo when I saw animals doing tricks -- because I sensed that the animals themselves were doing something unnatural and that therefore there had to be a hidden element of compulsion behind it. It bothered me a lot, and I feel that same sense of unease when listening to a radio program called "The Quiz Kids."

    This was one of the most popular radio features of its era, a short-pants version of "Information Please" in which superintelligent children displayed their knowledge of math, science, literature, and the arts, but I've never been able to listen to it without the feeling that there was something off. Reading the accounts of various grown-up Quiz Kids whose lives ended unhappily or who grew up to feel their childhood had been one of exploitation filled in some of the blanks for me, but I'd never really thought hard about the subject until I came across this book -- a "graphic novel" adaptation of the life of the most famous of all Quiz Kids, Joel Kupperman, as written and drawn by his son.

    The elder Kupperman had a long, distinguished career as a philosophy professor at the University of Connecticut -- but his childhood career in radio has remained a closed book. He gave his last show-business interview in 1957, and since then has refused to speak publicly about his experiences as a Quiz Kid, or to appear at reunions of the program's alumni, or to interact in any way with any aspect of that time of his life. The younger Kupperman, a cartoonist well known for his New Yorker work, has struggled all his own life with the mystery of his father's past, and this book is his attempt to deal with those unanswered questions, supported by the discovery of scrapbooks and memorabilia saved by his grandmother.

    The story emerges as that of a man who has spent his entire adult life trying to escape from what was, essentially, a deep childhood trauma. One might not think that a childhood as a beloved celebrity, hobnobbing with the biggest names in show business, touring the country, and otherwise living the 1940s high life would be all that traumatic, but for a child like young Joel, it was -- profoundly so. He early on realized that he was being exploited -- in part as a living piece of wartime propaganda: "See the nice, smart Jewish boy! You wouldn't like the Nazis to kill him!" But, pressured by his mother, he decided, in his own words, to simply "go with the flow." He stayed on the program long after he'd ceased being cute -- growing into what his son refers to as a "grim nerd" -- and he was a gawky, uncomfortable young man ready for college by the time it ended. A brief reappearance on the public eye on a rigged TV game show masterminded by the former Quiz Kids producer was an even greater trauma -- and that was the end of Joel Kupperman's celebrity career.

    Michael remembers his father as an odd, emotionally-repressed man -- who once told him that he hadn't been more involved in raising his son because nobody ever told him he should -- and in reviewing his father's life, he sees that as a natural result of what had happened to him as a child, always following the orders of his mother, of radio producers, of sponsors, of quizmasters, of road managers, of movie directors and never learning to make his own decisions. He never mentions the possibility that his father might have fallen somewhere along the autistic spectrum, but it seems rather likely from the portrait painted here. But in those days, such children weren't diagnosed, they were more often put on exhibit as "prodigies," and Joel Kupperman was just the most prominent of many such young people.

    The story is a profoundly sad one, and Michael Kupperman draws in in a thick, brooding line, creating gloomy black-and-white panels that look a bit like woodcuts. Many of the panels are recreations of actual items from the family scrapbooks, traced over into blurry caricatures of the originals that tie in with Joel Kupperman's own suppressed, locked-away memories of a life he could never fully escape.

    Joel Kupperman is still alive, but dementia has claimed his mind, and Michael will never know what he thinks of this book. Which is perhaps just as well, because creating it seems to have been as much about understanding the mystery of his own life as that of his father.
     
    ChiTownScion likes this.
  7. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,745
    Location:
    Midwest America
    Saw this on YouTube:


     
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  8. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,745
    Location:
    Midwest America
  9. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,383
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Caught an excellent New York Times 07/16 article, For Modern Strikeouts Pitchers Veer Outside The Strike Zone

    Avoidance and plate marksmanship, and analytics too.
     

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