Thursday, December 20, 2012

Goldberg Family: Top Five Songs of 2012

1. "Yeah! Hey! We are the Goldbergs!" by Kira and Elijah

What's not to love about a song where the title and the complete lyrics are identical? From the first time I heard Kira and Elijah singing this in the driveway, I knew it was a hit. And sure enough--it's topped charts in Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Andorra. Even the censored Saudi version, "Yeah! Hey! We are the ---!" has done quite well.

2. "Child of God" by Naomi W. Randall, adapted slightly by the Goldbergs

In addition to being Elijah's suggestion for Leif's name, "Child of God" has been Leif's favorite song for quite some time. Or at least: it's the one his brother and sister and father and mother sang to him regularly in the womb and through his hospital stay. This is also the #1 most requested Family Home Evening song in our house. The Goldberg family has made two changes to the standard text: Elijah has truncated the title from "I am a child of God" to "Child of God" for referencing ease, and James typically replaces the phrase "parents kind and dear" with the more fitting "parents kind of dear."

3. "Apple Cinnamon Cheerios" by James

This breakfast classic accidentally changed the eating habits of our children. It was the most requested song in the house through most of November, and was only recently supplanted by the somewhat more lyrically complex Apple Cinnamon Chex song ("When I wake up in the morning / hungry as an old T-Rex / what do I want to fill my belly? / Just my Apple Cinnamon Chex")

4. "Let Her Dance" by the Bobby Fuller Four

This song is so good, Wes Anderson let it into the greatest film of the new century--The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It doesn't matter whether Elijah is sitting on the couch, eating, or climbing up the side of a piece of furniture when this song comes on at the end of the movie: he will invariably get down and dance. And then ask where his bandit hat went.

5. "Red River Valley" as performed by Kira

Of all the songs Kira played on her guitar this year, this was the one most likely to get James to stop staring at a blank digital page on his computer to listen. If you have never heard an eight year old sing a wistful folk song while playing her three-quarters size guitar, you don't know what true brokenhearted beauty is. Just sayin'.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Mood Quiz

Today I feel defeated:
a) in a thousand different tiny ways
b) utterly
c) by my own incompetence
d) by the universe

When I think of winter's return, I feel:
a) like crying
b) too tired to cry
c) like Kafka
d) cold to the bone, though I am sitting inside

My stomach feels like:
a) it has been run through a washing machine
b) it is currently being run through a washing machine
c) a badger is chewing on it
d) a cow is chewing on it with slow, grinding motions that will never end

 If I had a million dollars:
b) the very thought of spending it would exhaust me
a) someone would probably steal it
d) none of my problems would be solved anyway

If I were trying to finish something:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lapses of Attention -- A Review of James Goldberg's The Five Books of Jesus

by James Goldberg

Not long ago, I gave you (my dear readers), some advice on how to review The Five Books of Jesus without even having to read it. If you have not put one of the recommended glowing reviews up on Amazon yet, please do so before you read my actual review of this book.

Done? OK. Let's proceed.

The Five Books of Jesus by James Goldberg is one of the most engaging and sloppy books I have read in a long time--and not just because I read very few books.

Take the title itself. It's pretty clearly a play on the five books of Moses--and sure enough, this book is split into five "books:" "In the Beginning," "The Gathering," "And He Called," "Sinai," and "Words." Since "In the Beginning" is the Hebrew title of the Book of Genesis, it seems like everything matches. But if you actually go to check, you'll notice that the author only gets the first, third, and fifth books right.  The second book should be "Names," not "The Gathering," and the fourth should be "In the Desert," not "Sinai." Sloppy! What is he thinking?

Focusing on a few naming mistakes may sound nit-picky, but they're part of a larger pattern. Take the story where an apostle cuts off someone's ear and Jesus says that "Whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword." In the Gospel of John, that apostle is identified as Peter. But for some reason Goldberg identifies the chopper as James instead. Is this author just careless? Or actively crazy?

Take another example. After fleeing to the ten cities to avoid Herod, Jesus decides to send his twelve apostles back across the Jordan River into Galilee as missionaries--and miraculously, the waters of the river divide for them to cross. Miracles are common in stories about Jesus, of course, but Goldberg has the wrong miracle here--he seems to have confused Jesus with Joshua!

I could go on at some length, giving countless examples of the sloppiness in this book, from the 70 vs. 72 issue to the sudden absence of chapter numbers in Book Three. But I think you get the point.

This book has been called a "marred masterpiece," but it's mostly just a pile of mar. Whatever that means. Remember: just because an author is reasonably good-looking and has won a national award doesn't mean you should trust all his work.

(But, you know--buy the book anyway. The writer's kids are cute, and they deserve to have Christmas this year.)
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