too easy to cave in

Dave H. visited with us last night to talk about the inbound ND moving experience. We had a great time. [I couldn't immediately conjure up a better way to use the word "inbound" in a sentence. Perhaps I could have said, "...the bogey is inbound over the Arctic ice cap and will detonate over Las Vegas in 0300 hours." Inbound seemed to get a lot of use in the 80s. Ever notice how in movies like Spies Like Us, at the height of the Cold War, "inbound" was thrown around casually in the context of thermonuclear annihilation and no one so much as batted an eye? Maybe we all had some strange resignation that when the Soviet Union finally decided to invade, the beginning of the end would be signaled by some well-protected and nearly unknown but vastly important and powerful white man announcing from a bunker in Utah, "...bogeys inbound from northern Asia...." And we'd all just somehow know that the next thing to do would be find one of those blocky, industrial concrete buildings with a "Radiation Fallout Shelter" sign bolted to an out-of-the-way corner and get in there before Something Bad happened. But now, in a perpetual state between Yellow and Red on the Homeland Security DefCom scale, no one uses the word "inbound." It's fallen out of common parlance. No one shouts out "We've got MiGs inbound on your six!" anymore. This whole small-scale terrorism thing has really punished the vernacular. Call me conservative, but I think it's high time that we started using terms like "bogey" and "inbound" to refer to various enemy forces in movies and video games again.] So Dave comes over last night and he thrusts this copy of Pinback's Blue Screen Life into my hands. I've never heard of them, so we pop it in the CD player. And it's good; it's not The Wrens, but it's really good. Therefore, I was forced to purchase a copy of their new EP Off Cell and Modest Mouse's The Moon & Antarctica re-release, which I missed the first time because I was a pastoral intern and only made $200 a month. Shame on you for your spendthrift ways, you say. I can't help it: we have a baby inbound, I say. And then it hits me: I am about to be a dad and purchases like the above will become irresponsible. My eminently rational train of thought immediately throws up the following bit of genius: I guess I only have a few days to blow cash like it was my job and then I have to buckle down and not get new music when the fancy strikes me. I wonder what my swansong should be? I want to keep my options open.... The roughly-a-book-per-week project is going well thus far. Endo's The Final Martyrs is tremendous. I read Endo's Silence in 2002 and I have trouble putting his books down to sleep or eat or go to work. I fear Japanese literature as a whole might be incomprehensible to the average Caucasian American male, but Endo is very simple and repetitive and haunting and haiku-like. Many, if not most, of his stories revolve around the awkward collision between Christianity and Japan from the 1500s through the present--the unbelievable persecutions, the reluctance of Japanese to adopt Western culture as well as religion, the selflessness of priest after priest who came as missionaries to Japan and were tortured and slaughtered, the endemic materialism of urban Japan that renders Christianity unappetizing to modern Japanese. Every time I read one of his books, I am dreading the moment that I can see the text stop short of the bottom of the next page. I hate ending a story and when I get toward the end of his novels, I want to turn the pages slower and slower to prolong the inevitable. I guess that's how you know you like someone's writing. Either that or you just know that I'm a geek who likes to live in the alternate universes created in books. What to read next? I thought after the sad, delicate writing of Endo, I might go for the upbeat Elie Wiesel....


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