Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


This one goes to eleven

Filed under : Judaism
On June 26, 2006
At 10:14 am
Comments : 22

OK, this one’s going to be a bit more serious than usual. Apologies in advance and I swear, we’ll soon be right back to the funny.

You may remember that I told you that I go to synagogue every day to say a prayer for my mother. Since I never elaborated on that and tomorrow is the last day I’ll be doing it, I thought I would.

The name of the prayer is Kaddish and even though you say it in memory of a dead person, it has nothing at all to do with death, doesn’t mention your loved one, and is said routinely throughout every service for other reasons. It isn’t even in Hebrew, it’s in Aramaic, that special language popularized by Mel Gibson. I hear he chats with his friends in Aramaic all the time, just to confuse the paparazzi.

Anyway, what makes it the prayer for dead people, is that once or twice at every service, usually at the end, all the people in mourning stand up and say it together in unison. Sort of. See, I’ve been to a lot of services this year, and without someone leading, the mourners sometimes have a terrible time getting it together to be in unison. At one service I frequent, there’s a guy who kind of yells it, as though he thinks maybe his loved one or God can’t quite hear him. Other people go really fast, because their loved ones clearly should know that they have an appointment to go to. Others kind of sing it. I think I hate that most. At the service I went to last night they went really slow. I had to constantly slow down my recitation so I wouldn’t get ahead of them. People! I’ve been saying this for eleven months already. Let’s go now.

The Kaddish is just a few paragraphs stating with lots of adjectives how great God is (the Aramaic thesaurus seems to have been just worn out by the guy who wrote this). This doesn’t seem very powerful but if you have ever had someone in your life upon whom you are greatly dependant and who was, in actuality, a part of your very being, never ever be there anymore, well, it’s quite a challenge to stand up each and every day and tell God that He just rocks your world. I think the line that had the most influence on me is the one that states that God is greater than any song. I think they mean hymn by this but for me it was more powerful to think song. Because you all know that for me, well, songs are the building blocks of life. What could be greater than a song? Oh right.

But I started to think about how many places I’ve said it this last eleven months. I guess that’s the statistician’s daughter in me. I came up with:

5 synagogues in Manhattan
4 synagogues called Young Israel of Suburbia
3 people’s houses (during a shiva, or mourning week, you have services in people’s houses)
2 synagogues in Israel
2 shteebels (little informal synagogues)
1 office (some people’s offices have services if they have enough people who want it)
1 store (seriously)
1 hotel
1 school
1 airport

Sometimes, I’m the only one saying it, often I’m the only woman saying it (men are required, for women it’s considered more optional), usually, I’m the youngest one saying it. Lots of times, I had to rearrange my schedule. Sometimes, I barely made it in time. It’s been a crazy near-year. Why not a whole year? Well, that’s the maximum it takes for a person to make it to the next world. You know, the most evil souls take that long. We all like to hope our parents don’t fall into that category so we don’t go the whole year, just 11 months.

Now that I’ll have an extra hour in my day I’m sure I’ll use it for something terrifically important like the gym or volunteer work. Or, more likely, I’ll watch a little more TV. It’ll be nice to finally be able to see the first hour of the Yankee game and hey, Wimbledon starts this week. Yes, I’m SO going to be a better person with my newfound hour. I may even blog four times a week instead of three. And there’s that whole “Plan for World Peace” I’ve been meaning to work on. That or more Netflix videos. It’s going to be a tough call, I can see.

XTC – Dear God
This song is about questioning God, but Judaism is all about that. My mother loved this song.


This header is longer than the actual post

Filed under : Meta/Blognews
On June 23, 2006
At 6:11 pm
Comments : 10

Just wanted to leave a quick post to tell you all that what I told you before is no longer true. Why did you even listen to me? No one else does!

Anyway, no longer connects to this site as the J-ball’s move to the big time inches a bit closer to fruition. So, in the meantime, please just use to get here and I promise to confuse you one last time in the near future as I move to WordPress and away from Blogger. Most of you were just doing that anyway so I’ve probably confused you even more. That’s my mission, really.

All righty then, instead of posting about something of no consequence whatsoever, I’m off to pick colors for the new ‘n’ improved J-Ball.

Since the post is so short, let’s have a really long song, shall we?

Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead


Who invented graduations and why do they hate people so much?

Filed under : Rants
On June 21, 2006
At 3:55 pm
Comments : 16

Two rants in a row. I am on a freaking roll! But see, this is really an appendix to the last one. Because the other thing to hate about summer, or pre-summer, is the glut of graduation ceremonies. But let me distinguish.

Graduation – a fine, fine thing
Graduation ceremony – torture that makes people envy the inmates at Abu Ghraib

I realize why graduations have to be long and speech-filled. Unlike a wedding or Bar Mitzvah, there is no actual ceremony. The second you hand in your last paper or, in the case of the high school and grade school graduations I just attended, take your last exam or attend your last class, bingo bango, it’s done. So they just sort of artificially inflate the moment to make it last longer.


Since they can’t do that, they have lots of speeches. Then they give each person their diploma while the rest of the class, as well as the people who love them but aren’t so sure anymore, cool their heels. Is this really efficient? Why not just hand over the rolled up scroll on the way in? Oh right, it might not seem like four or eight years was worth it if the ceremony was too short. You know how people say, “My whole wedding just went by in a blur – the time just flew?” Do you ever hear a graduate say that? So it’s not just me, the excruciatingly bored audience member, who feels this way.

And while I’m ranting, why are graduations called commencements? Sure, I get it, you’re beginning a new stage in your life. But have you ever heard of something that has two names, each of which has the exact opposite meaning?

But at least with college graduations there are often interesting speakers. At my graduation, there was a morning and an afternoon part. At one we had Brian Mulroney, then the prime minister of Canada (luckily I had been to enough hockey games to know all the words to “O Canada”) and at the other was Lee Iacoca. Lee Iacoca. You know you’re going to have an auspicious career in business when they get the guy responsible for the biggest bankruptcy ever to give you advice. This year they had Jon Stewart. Why didn’t I get Jon Stewart? I mean, he was hosting Remote Control on MTV back then and everything!

I guess it would have been too much to ask to have Jon speak at my niece’s grade school ceremony, wouldn’t it? Right. Thought so.

Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson


My Own Summer (Shove It)

Filed under : New York City,Rants
On June 19, 2006
At 4:15 pm
Comments : 19

This is going to be one of those rants. Sorry. But I did warn you. Those who are not in a ranty mood can go look at porn now. No complaining later.

Anyway, I hate summer. I think I’m the only one, based on that whole “yay it’s summer” vibe you get everywhere you look. But all the great things people say about it are all myths!

1. Easy & laid back times
Someone forgot to tell my company about this. We have no summer hours and the pace of work goes unabated during this period. And why not? It’s not like people stop buying music because it suddenly got hot. I’d like to know, other than schools, what business exactly does slow down over the summer? Who are these people who just get to lie around in hammocks?

2. Delightful weather
Again, just not seeing this. Not in my circumstances anyway. New York seems to go from rainy/damp/cool straight to 95 degrees and 75% humidity. It makes doing anything besides sitting in an air-conditioned room unbearable, like the strength has completely left your body and nothing seems important except getting out of whatever place you happen to be.

3. Fun days at the beach
People who know me are already rolling their eyes. Yes, I hate the beach. What is the point of the beach? Lying around in baking heat? Squinting uncomfortably at a book and eating mushy sandwiches? The long drive? The exhausted long drive back? This is something I will never understand.

4. Vacation
Because everywhere one goes is four times as expensive during the summer, I never travel at this time of year. I like May or September when I can get a good deal and the rest of the known universe isn’t also vacationing right there. Instead, I get to stay at work, doing the labor of several other absent people.

5. Summer music

Now, I’m sure the fact that I just spent $1500 on new air conditioners and that said air conditioners couldn’t be installed due to me not having some part I never heard of has just a little to do with the timing of this rant. See, the idiots who designed my building decided it’d be fun to have not one iota of choice for those living in the units, so they stuck wall-through holes in the living and bedrooms. They decided with the one in the bedroom that they should cut that chunk into the size of a unit whose smallest incarnation has twice as much power as that size room needs to be cooled. High five!

But it’s OK, the AC units I had before date to the Reagan administration so I’m sure these will last at least until we find Osama. Of course, should the terrorists bomb Manhattan into oblivion, air conditioners will be the least of my worries. See? I’m always looking on the bright side of things.

What are all these songs about summer breezes and winds anyway? Here, any breeze just blows humid air into your face and warm dirt into your contact lenses.

Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove It) [Clean]


Come in here, dear boy, have a plaque

Filed under : Music
On June 16, 2006
At 12:01 pm
Comments : 13

Despite being tired and not just a little hung over, I thought I’d tell you about My Fun Week in the Music Biz. Earlier this week I attended a press conference for the new RIAA Master Ringtone Award. Let me back up and define all my terms here.

Sort of like the Yankees, this is an organization in my life that I deeply adore, but yet, is reviled by all of you. I understand. They sued your grandmother and stopped Napster from being free (it is again, but it’s not the Napster you knew in 2000, is it?). The RIAA is our lobbying organization in DC. I’m sure your industry has its own politically astute people in DC to look after your interests and you are pleased that they are doing so. I have good personal friends over there but that’s not why I’m saying this. The RIAA rocks, sorry. Downloading is theft and your grandmother deserved it. [/end rant]

Master Ringtones
You know when you’re sitting in Starbucks, peacefully sipping your twelve dollar latte, musing about the vagaries of life, when suddenly, the most irritating tune imaginable emanates from someone’s messenger bag? And the person seems shocked, just shocked, that the fact that they carry a cell phone has led to an actual call, so they have to go digging deep into the nether regions of said messenger bag to retrieve it so that you end up hearing the whole damn song twice? Right, well you pay a few dollars for those ringtones and the sales are tracked.

When you hear the phrase “Gold record,” what do you think? You think, “that sold a lot but I don’t know how many. I think it’s a lot.” You probably think that when a CD reaches that level of sales, whatever that level may be, it just automatically becomes Gold or Platinum. Wrong! One of the ways the RIAA promotes our industry is to advertise high sales with these awards. When a CD reaches 500,000 in sales, the label submits evidence of this to an auditing agency which then makes a decision and reports back to the RIAA. Then the RIAA officially certifies it Gold (500k), Platinum (1 million) multi-Platinum (multiples of 1 million) or Diamond (10 million).

So lets put that all together, shall we? If you’re now thinking of those people on the Electric Company making words (a, ward, award) then you’re about the same age as me. Anyway, the RIAA will now be certifying ringtones with Gold and Platinum awards. Yay!

So the press conference was held in the Time Warner Center and had lots of press (they had pads and cameras), cell phone company execs (they wore suits), label execs (they wore funky suits), and other industry people (we were casual). First the announcement was made and then a few artists were given big fancy plaques. They were kind of B-list. They had Bow Wow, Bubba Sparxx, Dem Franchize Boys, and Rick Ross. That’s the thing about ringtones. If you have a big song, you’ll sell a lot of ringtones. Career artists have lots of songs, not always frantically catchy ones. Many times, a popular catchy hit comes from a one hit or five hit wonder.

But it was OK, Dem Franchize Boys’ matching sunny shirts made up for everything. They made me want a glass of fruit juice. Luckily, Whole Foods was two floors below us.

Anyway, later on in the week, I went to a show by one of our artists. Lots of people think this is an amazing fringe benefit of working at a label, and it is. But really, it’s work. First off, I don’t love all our artists and many of them I’d never choose to go see on my own dime or with my own free time. Also, you are there to show the artist to people who need to see them, so you have to schmooze. The publicity department brings press people. Promotion people bring radio station programmers. Sales people bring retail buyers. Then you have to be “on” the whole show.

But here’s the part of shows that I love no matter who is playing. You get to see the audience. We at the label toil all day, trying in any way possible to reach you people and get you to discover this artist who we think you’d love if you only knew they existed. But I never see you. You buy the CD at Tower or iTunes and listen in your car or in your room, and I never see who you are. You’re just a number on my spreadsheet. But when I go to a show and you’re there and your eyes are fixed on the singer and you’re waving your arms and your face is shining and you’re singing every word, I’m watching you. Don’t freak out, I’m just happy that maybe something we did helped you to reach this moment. Of course, I can see you because you’re sweating on the floor and I’m up on the balcony. But don’t feel envious. You’re cuddling with your SO and I’m schmoozing some rep. But I do get free drink tickets. Don’t hate me because I’m hung over.

Think labels suck? Musicians seem to share your opinion. And yet, they keep signing those contracts.

Pink Floyd – Have A Cigar

Everclear – You Make Me Feel Like A Whore

The Byrds – So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star [Live]

(Title comes from Have a Cigar, for you youngsters.)