Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


PSA: Yom Kippur

Filed under : Baseball,Judaism
On September 27, 2009
At 2:00 pm
Comments : 11

People always ask me, what’s the proper greeting for Yom Kippur? So if I see Suzyn Waldman, hurrying out of the WCBS booth at today’s delayed Yankee game to get to services, what should I say? Happy Yom Kippur? Happy Holidays? Seasons Greetings? (Well, it is a season, the season of repentance… but that’s a stretch.)

There are several options. Yom Kippur isn’t a holiday in the secular, Madonna sense. Celebraaaate! It’s a holy day, in the old-timey, Biblical sense. It’s the last piece in a period of reflection that begins over a month before, where we think about ourselves, what we have done wrong, how we can make those wrong things right, and hope that God shows mercy. On Yom Kippur, we fast and spend nearly twenty-four hours in continuous prayer. At the beginning we ask God to inscribe us in the “book of life” a metaphor for forgiving our sins and allowing us to have a good life for another year. At the end of Yom Kippur, the “book” is closed and sealed. So the most traditional greeting is:

Gmar chatimah tovah (Gmahr ha-tee-mah toe-vah) = may your finished sealing be good
That is, may you be sealed in the book of life with a good outcome.

This can be shortened to Gmar tov (gmahr tove), literally, “a good finish,” but really a shorter way of saying the above.

You can also still say, “Shana tova” (shah-nah toe-vah), or, a good new year.

There is also “have an easy fast,” which I’ve inherited a non-fondness for, because my mother used to say, quite rightly, that the point of Yom Kippur is to suffer so that one really turns inward to think of their behavior and past actions. So having an easy fast defeats the purpose, really. She used to say (and others do too), “have a meaningful fast.” Of course, you can cover all bases by saying, “have an easy and meaningful fast.” But it’s perfectly acceptable to go with the standard, “have an easy fast,” and I promise, no Jew will ever answer you, “don’t tell me what kind of fast to have!”

Not to mention, this is all easy for me to say, since I’m on medication that doesn’t allow me to fast. But I’m not eating steak frites either.

Anyhoo, thanks for the good wishes, and thanks to the Yankees for having an early game so Suzyn and I can attend evening services without missing the game. I’d also like to say that I’m sorry for anything I might have done to hurt anyone this year and I hope that you’ll forgive me. In conclusion, clinch early and clinch often.

Hothouse Flowers – I’m Sorry


Coming to a continent near you

Filed under : Life in general
On September 23, 2009
At 9:30 pm
Comments : 6

Oh my, am I busy. Thanks to all who ordered treats from my Etsy shop and thanks (in advance) to all who plan to. Between that, my job, my classes, and hundreds of pages of reading a day, I’ve pretty much eliminated sleep. And blogging, as you may have noticed. As a matter of fact, what I’d really like to post about is all the things I should be doing instead of posting. Instead, just a few tidbits from the week.

1. You don’t need to out yourself, but one of my readers (I believe you are in Michigan, but I could be wrong) has a delightful daughter who used my blog as an example of blogging. She dubbed JBall hilarious! Yes! You may think I’m biased, but I find your ninth-grader to be a lovely writer. Really. I wish I could have written so cogently at that age. And I am excited that a teacher would ask students to do that as an assignment. If I’m misunderstanding what the blog’s about, don’t disillusion me!

2. If you would like to know how busy I really am, beyond my usual, “I have 3,365 unread items in my feed reader” statement, consider this: there has been Push Gmail for the iPhone/iPod Touch for two days now (about 30% of my feeds would have remarked on this) and I didn’t know! There’s something wrong with being a tech student who no longer has time to read tech news. Positive item: there is now Push Gmail for my iPod Touch. Also, since I read that, I only have 3,364 unread items in my feed reader.

3. You know, I always am nice to tourists. I ask them if they need help. I give them directions. Sometimes I even walk them to their destinations and chat them up. I worry about them, in case they get lost. Because, once upon a time when I had money to travel, I was a tourist, so I know. Today, the tourists paid me back. On the way into the subway, a sweet European family gave me their Metrocard because they were going home and no longer needed it. Could they tell I was a poor student? Probably! Either way, I’m so happy to have it. Free rides through Friday!

4. Oh look! Editors have a show near me! Honestly, I was terribly excited to see that (no offense to U2 but I’ve seen them ten times and besides, I didn’t like the last three albums… no, maybe they should be offended) because I adore Editors and have never seen them live. Except, the phrase “near you” has a slightly different meaning to the folks at iLike, Facebook’s music program. Oops!

I wonder which subway line I should take…

By the way, I discovered an exciting benefit of using all twenty-four hours of my day: I no longer need Ambien. Remember, always look at the bright side of life! I would if I could still see.

The Cure – Sleep When I’m Dead


Even puppets want you to have a good year

Filed under : Judaism
On September 18, 2009
At 9:00 am
Comments : 3

The lyrics to this are a little raunchier than your usual Holy New Year ditty but they’re hard to catch even if you do understand Hebrew. So if you’re a fan of the Muppets or having a good and sweet upcoming year, please do have a listen. Me, I’ll be stuffing my face with honey cake.

Shana tova!



I guess the joke’s on me, she said

Filed under : Student Life
On September 14, 2009
At 10:30 pm
Comments : 2

When I was in High School, I was not the biggest math and science fan in the world (not so much now either, I have to admit, even though I’m in the Math and Science department, ironically). In our senior year, we were allowed to drop one or the other because the actual requirements were fulfilled. I dropped science but I said to my adviser, “trust me, after I graduate, I’ll never do a math problem again.” No, seriously, one of the reasons I chose Johns Hopkins was that it had no real math or science requirement and what it did have could be checked off by taking things like “The History of Math.” Which I took. I also took Statistics but I was a social science major and would have had to take that anyway.

Then I left and worked for a record label where I proceeded to do math every day. I told this story to Lisa Tagio, my favorite math teacher, so she could tell her students. Anyhoo, one of the things I hated and found most soul-sucking about marketing music was the Powerpoint presentation and its useless bullet points of nothingness. I vowed I would never do a stupidass Powerpoint presentation again.

I know, I know. But did it have to be so soon? In one of my classes, our first project is to be done in groups and the bossiest person in the group said, “OK, I’ll do the essay, Joan, you do the oral part, and Becca, you do the Powerpoint.”

Next Powerpoint presentation: how to become the bossiest person in the group.

Title comes from yet another Nine Inch Nails song, but it’s not available on Napster. And it’s my favorite one! D’oh!


iPod song of the week – I wish

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week,Music
On September 13, 2009
At 7:00 pm
Comments :1

Last week you may have seen me Tweet that Amazon was giving away a free mp3 track of your choice. Like most giftcards and freebies where you can pick something, this somehow paralyzes me. Choose something now! NOW! I spent about an hour picking a song, I kid you not. But along the way, I found several songs I could not get as they’re still not available for legal download.

So, record labels and artist management, consider this your request letter.

Not since Kashmir…. oh, I really can’t get away with this. But seriously, Blancmange were such a genius band for combining Middle Eastern melodies with synth pop. Why are they not on the major download services?????

I don’t know why no songs from this band are available (they were my example about how to import cassettes into mp3’s, that’s how desperate I am) but this is my true favorite of theirs. It’s so gentle and pretty. This guy knew how to write a tune. And look like a butch gay woman.

I saved the best for last. This was a side project of Michael Hutchence of INXS and much more political than his stuff there. SO good. Why, label, why? I can’t be the only person who still remembers this song.

So there you have it. These would have been the iPod songs of the week… if only.