Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


iPod song of the week – Erasure

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On December 31, 2006
At 12:45 pm
Comments :Comments Off

I didn’t set out to have something cheery in particular for the first week of the new year but I’m happy it ended up that way. Is there any band chirpier than this one? If there
was, could you even bear to listen? Most of you will see the name of this band and groan; they are already too chirpy and annoying for you. But after a break of about ten years I can actually bear to listen to them again.

I recently got into the show Scrubs (I know, I’m always late to these parties) but as much as the show is hysterical and genius, the episode based on this song is particularly genius. It demonstrates what I’ve known all along. Once this song gets into your head it will take ten years to leave.

But let’s evaluate it seriously. Beyond it’s bright catchiness, does any lover sound as passionately wronged as Andy Bell? Yes, it’s all camp but you never doubt for a moment that he means every word. And there is no one like Vince Clarke for the memorable electronic melody. Ready? Start singing along.

Erasure – A Little Respect


Never be the same

Filed under : Life in general
On December 29, 2006
At 4:15 am
Comments : 18

As much as I’d like to do a blogyear wrap-up, my blog is only nine months old. So look for that in March. We’ll just call March to February the blogyear, shall we? Instead, why don’t I just be a little self-centered (it’s my blog and I am omnipotent!) and wrap up my own year. Here’s a confession which many people already know and others have figured out (my readers are smart, S-M-R-T): lots of things went on in my life this year about which I did not write. Many days, it was all I could do to write something innocuous when several bizarre and dramatic and realityshowesque things were happening to me. This was easily the strangest year of my life which isn’t hard as, despite my tales of getting sampled on people’s CD’s and meeting famous people, I consider my life pretty humdrum. Not this year, however. I’m free to tell you this because my drama is now over. Parts of it were really good and parts of it were really bad, just like American Idol.

So about the whole New Year’s thing. Everyone loves New Year’s. I mean, there’s the party aspect but it’s really because if you had a good year, you’re looking forward to more of the same and if you had a bad year, you’re looking forward to a whole new start. I’m not really sure which I had. How do you sum that up? Is it how you finished compared to how you started? Is it an averaging of all the happy and unhappy moments of your year?

I’m going to go ahead and use the criteria that politicians use when they want you to vote for them or against the other guy (I suppose it’s always one of the two or both). That is, am I better off now than I was one year ago? The answer is, yes, I absolutely am. And why is that? Because I’m a different and better person based on my experiences this year. Of course you change every year but the changes aren’t always as obvious as mine are to me this particular year. I’d share what they are but this is far as guts-spilling JBall style gets.

So what made this year so psyche-changing? First off, naturally, is that this year brought me this blog. It’s changed my life in so many fantastic ways and enabled me to do something I’ve dreamed of since I was a child (I think maybe one or two of my readers can testify to this although they are lurkers so don’t look for a comment), that is, entertain people with my writing. Luckily for you, the novels I wrote as a teenager and early twenty-something will not be dragged out for your perusal.

My year was split pretty much into two parts. The first half was spent mourning my mother which in Jewish tradition entails abstaining from parties, movies, live music, TV (although I still watched sports, news, and dramas), and generally not being part of the flow of life. If you’ve been reading since then, you also know that I said special prayers every day, necessitating a trip to synagogue and further curtailing my lifestyle.

Just as that was finishing up, smack at the midpoint of the year, the dramatic things started to happen and they pulled me out of that and yanked me right back into the flow of life. I’m really grateful for that. But beyond that, it changed me as a person in ways I’m just beginning to realize. Perhaps most astoundingly, I inadvertently helped change someone else’s life completely and learned the powerful effect people can have on each other’s lives. Or maybe I learned that from It’s A Wonderful Life

But anyway, just now, as that event was ending, something’s just happened to redirect things once again. Because sometimes when one person leaves your life, another enters or re-enters, just like your life is a play. Since you know I’m a person of faith, you know I’m grateful to the Director for that.

And to you, my much-appreciated audience, I say: it’s been a good year, bring on 2007.

Crowded House – Never Be The Same


All night long

Filed under : Life in general
On December 27, 2006
At 2:25 am
Comments : 12

I would just like to start by saying this is a filler post. You know how you are sure that some songs on an album are so formulaic that they must have been written in five minutes and just included to make the CD 42 minutes? This is one of those posts. You see, no one’s reading this week and I’m, so to speak, on vacation. Plus the post that’s really in my head is my yearly wrap-up (first annual!) and it’s not quite the end of the year yet. But I’m awake and the MacBook is on my lap, so why the hell not?

Speaking of, did you ever wonder what would happen if your life was free of alarm clocks and all responsibilities? Not when you were traveling because being away doesn’t count. I mean at home, in your own environment. I know for myself what it would be like from two methods. First when I was unemployed for 3 weeks before my present job and second my previously mentioned annual 9 days off in December. What happens to me is that I revert back to the sleep schedule that my body really wants to have, which is to go to sleep at dawn and sleep until one or two pm.

Luckily we live in a world where there are 300 channels and TiVo. I can’t imagine living this lifestyle in the age of the network sign-off. You know those old movies where they play the national anthem on the TV and then there’s a high-pitched noise and a test-pattern comes on? Of course, I couldn’t be blogging at 2am in that scenario either but you get me. Most of my friends already know not to call me before noon (I’m willing to be woken up after that if it’s important) and any activity will take place in the safe confines of the afternoon or evening. Tomorrow and Thursday I have early afternoon plans so I may actually have to set an alarm. Yes, life is tough.

The only real problem with this, naturally, is going back to work and then you are totally jetlagged even though you’ve remained in the same time zone the entire time. And then when you can’t stay awake during meetings, people will ask you what exciting place you visited in which case you are free to say, “I was watching ‘I Love the 90′s’ and blogging at 3am!”

Gotta go, they’re doing 1992.

Peter Murphy – All Night Long


Chag Sameach, Goyim!

Filed under : Etc.
On December 25, 2006
At 1:45 am
Comments : 8

That is to say, “Happy Holiday, Gentiles!”

You’ll probably be reading this tomorrow, long after you’ve overeaten and oohed and aaahed over your presents (hopefully) but let it be stated: JBall wished you a good day in a timely fashion. But maybe, once your thoughts drift away from how you got a sweater and not an iPod, you will wonder, “Gee, what do non Christmas-celebrators do on this magical day?” I mean, besides blogging, which I am clearly doing.

Let me step back a moment and reminisce about my friend Kim, with whom I worked at Sam Goody’s at The Gallery in Baltimore many years ago. She was terribly concerned that I would be alone for Christmas. She begged me to join her and her family. “But Kim,” I said. “All the machines will be free – I have laundry to do!” She never really got that.

There is a stereotype that Jews eat Chinese food and go to the movies on Christmas, which are two things that seem to be open that day. In fact, I did have Chinese food for dinner (I’m writing this at 1am so I suppose it now qualifies as last night) and the place was packed, but I swear, it was only because an errand took me close to my favorite Chinese place. I don’t plan to be at the movie theatre, though, as far as I know. I mean, there are so many great Christmas movies on TV, how could I? (I’m actually serious about that; I love holiday movies) Except MSNBC which inexplicably is having a marathon of crime documentaries. Cheery!

I once saw a calendar from a Jewish school which had December 25th marked as “Jewish Family Day.” Bwah! But in some ways it is, as the whole family is indeed off, usually, which is why I have such fond memories of watching Miracle on 34th Street as a child.

Another excellent way to utilize the day is to travel, because Christmas is one of the cheapest days to fly ever and the security lines are refreshingly short as well. That’s been an especial habit of mine as the entire music industry shuts down the week between Christmas and New Year’s; radio stations don’t change their playlists, labels don’t ship CD’s, Billboard doesn’t publish charts, etc. And so you can go away and not even worry about work piling up on your desk. It’s heavenly. I was supposed to go away this week, in fact, but maybe that’s a story for some other day. But that’s OK, I managed to have plans every single day, I’m not sure how that happened to my leisurely week of chill, but it did.

And, in similarity with children everywhere, I am currently playing with my new toy, that is, my shiny MacBook Pro. Here’s the interactive part of the post where Mac using JBall readers get to help me out. I do love the way this thing boots up in 17 seconds and never crashes, but I can’t stand the way the screen looks, in particular the fonts. Everything is soft and fuzzy and round, like you’re actually dreaming of computing rather than doing it. Oh, and let me apologize to you because you Mac people have been seeing my site in Lucida, which I think was designed by a blind person. Or maybe he went blind from using Lucida for several days. I mean, everything in OS X seems to be in Lucida so maybe you like it, but I hate it. And if you switch to something else it comes out so soft and blurry that it may as well be Lucida. I am actually considering returning it. Someone tell me why I shouldn’t…please!

Anyway, hope you all are enjoying your holiday week as much as I am and that Fred Gwynn brought you everything you your heart desired and didn’t want to return.

Gang of Four – Return the Gift


iPod song of the week – Holiday

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On December 24, 2006
At 2:30 pm
Comments :Comments Off

I have quite a few favorite Christmas songs, but this is easily at the top of my list. I mean it’s catchy and fun but it’s the lyrics that make the song. Could there be a cuter holiday scenario than this one? The girl and the guy spend the year trying to get together but hectic schedules and crazy circumstances intervene. But then, on Christmas Eve, all alone, she discovers she’s missing something for her dinner. And then….

So on with the boots, back out in the snow
To the only all-night grocery,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
In the line is that guy I’ve been chasing all year!

“I’m spending this one alone,” he said.
“Need a break; this year’s been crazy.”
I said, “Me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?”

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic’s brought this tale
To a very happy ending!


The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping