Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


De partout…jusqu’à vous

Filed under : International,Meta/Blognews
On July 26, 2010
At 8:15 pm
Comments : 4

I meant to make special mention of my 5,000th comment and to toot the horn (so to speak) of said commenter except… it was me. Whoops. I mean, go me! What are the odds? But then I realized that 5000 = 5001 in Canadian, what with our poor exchange rate and so…. Woot! Go, Deas! You were my 5,001st commenter! Your prize is: a gorgeous program from Wimbledon and some delightful Canadian chocolate. Oh wait, did you think I’d be sending you that?

Hahahahaha, that would be ridonculous to expect Deas to send me that, wouldn’t it? Except she already did and for no reason except that she’s teh awesome, as we say in the US with our lesser educations. I mean, look at this bounty!*

*there was no Bounty. But look at the Coffee Crisps!

How classy does this program look? Even the tennis is fancier in England.

And you can’t see from this angle, but this thing is like a book, with big glossy pages. It is seriously stunning, like the sun shining on Centre Court. Which never happens but you follow me, I’m sure.

Here are the three best aspects of receiving this in my mailbox today.

1. I was really hungry and desiring of chocolate (but that could have been any day, admittedly).
2. The heatwave just broke and so I did not find a chocopuddle at the bottom of said mailbox.
3. I sort of knew Canadian food items would be coming but I had NO IDEA there would be a Wimbledon program! I was so excited that I clutched it to my chest and hugged it. I’m a little embarrassed about this, so let’s just keep that part between us.

Anyway, xoxo and thanks so much, Deas (and Mr. Deas, who I assume toted it home). I owe you 5,001 expired Metrocards!

And to the writers of my 4,999 other comments (if you’re wondering why the comment count is higher, it counts crazy spam comments, too), thank you all for being the other half if not more of this blog! Because if a post is published in the forest and no one comments… the computer is probably being eaten by monkeys.

Title is the slogan of Canada Post and means, according to the handy Queen’s English provided, “From anywhere… to anyone.” Which could also be the slogan of this blog. Or Measles/Mumps/Rubella.

It is true, I will use any excuse to link to this exciting Canadian artist.
Loverboy – Turn Me Loose.


The $40 lesson

Filed under : Life in general,Travel
On July 22, 2010
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 14

Sometimes I forget that as a car-free American, I’m unusual. I totally tune out car commercials and people’s online discussions over things like handicapped parking spaces and road rage. I don’t really encounter these issues. I actually enjoy public transportation. Well, mostly. It is hot in the subway this time of year and on those days when the bus or subway stops for no particular reason and you are mashed against other humans with no idea of when you’ll reach your destination, well, I think about cars. But then I also think about traffic and gas prices and having to watch the road ahead of me instead of my app or my book. I think about getting lost, which I always seem to do while driving. That moment of panic as you wonder if this is your exit, with no bus driver to ask. And flat tires and roadside breakdowns. No thanks!

I was already planning this post when, while discussing a possible excursion of mine to an area a few states away, North of the City asked me, “have you researched the transportation there?” Well, of course I have researched it. Down to every possible permutation. Greyhound or Bolt Bus or Chinatown bus or regional rail? Which is the cheapest? Which is the fastest? Which meets up with the local bus of a city in which I have spent no more than five minutes of my life? Researching local buses is by far the most complicated yet interesting part of any trip I plan, in any state or country. The websites of local bus networks are meant for locals and they read that way. Even my own Metro-North site organizes its local trains by “East of the Hudson” and “West of the Hudson.” If I told you to meet me in Croton or in Hawthorne, how would you know which of those to choose? This is what you’re up against when you plan trips by public transport.

But I love doing it. I love the challenge and the planning and the novelty. And then, of course, you have to do the whole process again for the way back. That’s the most important part, really, and I discovered that two decades ago in college, planning a trip to a mall in the suburbs of Baltimore. I loved malls and the one in White Plains, where I grew up, was easily accessible by public transportation. The Bee Line, Westchester’s system of buses, has actually won awards for its coverage and organization. And then I came to the Baltimore area where things weren’t quite so good. I remember phoning the Capital Center in Landover and asking them how to get there by public transportation so I could see the Rangers play. “You can’t,” the guy said to me matter-of-factly. “I mean, you could take a taxi here, but no cab would come pick you up.” That sort of stunned me. How could there be a place not accessible by public transportation? That’s when I became a Baltimore Skipjacks fan. You could get to the Baltimore Arena easily on the #3. You still can, even though the Skipjacks left long ago and they keep talking about replacing it. The Cap Center is gone, though, replaced by an arena that is situated on top of a transit stop. Ha!

But back to the malls. I found that this mall (and I honestly cannot remember which one – White Marsh? Hunt Valley? Who knows) could be reached by bus and I planned my trip. Except somehow, I missed that there was only one bus in the afternoon that returned. Naturally, I figured that out after I had done my shopping and needed to get back to school. And then, and then, I had to go to the ATM and withdraw $40 which was what the cab cost to go home. That may not seem like a lot now, but back then, I had so little cash in my account that I usually couldn’t even use the ATM because it only dispensed twenties and I never had $20. I think I used my credit card to take a cash advance. The only way I could keep from mentally berating myself all the way home was to tell myself that it was a $40 lesson. The lesson was, always plan the way back, too. And I always do now. It seems pretty cheap if you average it over the years that it has stood me well. Good as gold.

I also learned to stick with Owings Mills or Mondawmin as far as malls went. In Mondawmin, which was the closest mall to campus, I was the only white person I ever saw. I remember thinking, “do no other Hopkins students know there’s this mall right here?” And you could take the bus or the subway, a rarity in Baltimore. Weird! Once, on the bus, in which I was also always the only white person who got on west of Hampden, I was walking down the aisle to get to my seat when a guy I had passed sitting in front called out, “I got jungle fever!” Later, I starred in the Baby Got Back video.

Anyway, I may still take this trip, it’s not been decided yet, but either way, it was fun to plan. The way back, too.

Stan Ridgway – Stranded



Filed under : Life in general
On July 14, 2010
At 11:00 pm
Comments : 9

I’m a bit late with this post, that is, I meant to write it this morning where it could have basked in its anniversary moment. But I was busy with six hours of classes and then the library so I could avoid buying a book which is available there free online. And that’s as it should be, because that’s what I chose to do and this is the day I let the world know about that decision. A year ago today, I gave my notice at work after thirteen years at the company and sixteen in the business. I really chose it because it was the only day with sufficient advance time to the day I wanted to leave that had everyone I needed to tell not on vacation. Summer is hard. And it wasn’t a Monday so I couldn’t worry about it all weekend. But I liked that it was Bastille Day, the day the prisoners were freed from their chains. A year later, I realize that if I had chosen July 10th or 15th, I never would have remembered. It was because I saw that it was Bastille Day on the news this morning (naturally, there were deals to be had at French restaurants; that was the angle) that I suddenly recalled it.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t feel like a year but in fact, it feels like ten years. I barely remember what it’s like to lead a 9 to 5 (or 9 to 7, really) life or to answer to a boss or to care whether music is selling or what’s #1. If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d scarcely even remember the people. It seems like such a long time ago and worlds away from the way I live now. I’m hesitant to give a full on status report when it’s not really a year since I left (that’s in about five weeks) but suffice to say, I am thankful every day for the opportunity to do what I am now. In fact, I decided to stay on another year (I was supposed to finish in May 2010) because, quite frankly, this is like a vacation and who wants to go home? Also, because I feel like I just haven’t learned enough and am not quite prepared to start a new career. So onward we go to May 2011. Money will be even tighter and we’ll see just how far I can take a bag of dried beans. But it will be worth it, I know. Even if I lost everything today, it would be worth it. It’s just that good.

The funniest part, to me, is that I’ve always hated school. I used to say, after I was working, that my worst day at work was better than my best day at school. But maybe like youth, school is wasted on the young. When you’re an adult and you get to answer only to yourself and study things you like with other people who love it as much as you do and professors who are passionate about it, too, I mean, how much fun could putting together a spreadsheet for The Man be in comparison? Well, no, I still love spreadsheets. That’s a bad example. But I do remember calling Sarpon and crying to her on the phone on the night of the 13th that I was making a giant mistake and what the hell was I doing? I can’t remember anything she said but I do know one thing for sure: she was right.

I hope when the next stage comes along, I remember this part well. I have a feeling I’ll really miss it. Except for the beans.

The Plimsouls – A Million Miles Away


Lots of people talk and few of them quote

Filed under : Judaism,Music
On July 11, 2010
At 12:00 am
Comments : 4

About how many things can you say, “I have been obsessed with that since I was a child?” I think some things are just inborn and they follow you around throughout your life. For me, one of these things has always been “this song sounds like that song.” I remember being fascinated by the George Harrison My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine case as a little kid and just about any other music plagiarism case I came across. I just find it freaky and strange when two songs sound remarkably alike. By a stroke of luck, when I grew up and ended up in the music business, I sat for ten years in an office next to the one of the legal clearance person, who had the job of both clearing our artists’ samples (those are the pieces of other songs that an artist will deliberately build his/her song upon) and reaching out to the violators of our copyrights. What I found from sitting there is that the legal department counted on the honesty of the artist in reporting whose work the song was based on… to a degree. But then the clearance person would sit and listen to all the songs and try to figure it out. if she couldn’t, the song was sent to a musicologist. So there was always a lot of repeating of passages of loud music and a lot of me jumping up and running next door to say, “this sounds just like Paranoid Android!” and so forth. Since it wasn’t my job, I found it great fun.

Today is my mother’s fifth yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death, and as usual, I like to impart a lesson from her. My mother was something of a Led Zeppelin fan. These days, it isn’t unusual to say, “my mother is a Led Zeppelin fan” because mothers today had the chance of growing up in the late 60’s or in the 70’s or 80’s. My mother grew up in the 40’s and 50’s and liked classical music. And Led Zeppelin. She was proud of the fact that she liked something hip with the young people and once corrected a student who mixed up Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in a picture. She told that story all the time; she loved that she was able to do that.

But she wasn’t really a metal or hard rock fan. She liked the Middle Eastern melodies and she liked Robert Plant’s lyrics. In fact, she started to build a lesson plan around Stairway to Heaven but never finished it, which is too bad, because that would have been this post. But it’s OK because I still have a something to say about what she taught me and have it relate to Led Zeppelin. You may have heard (and if you know me, you definitely have heard) that Jimmy Page is finally being sued by Jake Holmes over the song Dazed and Confused. Now, I should first say that I have always loved Zeppelin and that Dazed and Confused has always been one of my favorites of their songs. I liked LZ so much that I went to see The Firm in concert in the mid-80’s just so I could say I had seen Jimmy Page on stage. Wow, was he…. in concert. So you can imagine my dismay when in the age of the Internet I found that LZ had “borrowed” many of their songs from others, including lots of poor Folk and Blues musicians.

Several of them have sued and won and now appear on the credits of LZ’s songs. But I simply can’t begin to describe the chutzpah of taking someone’s music or lyrics, basing your song on it, and then simply putting your own name as the sole credit. And I think the most egregious example of this is the Jake Holmes one. Jake Holmes was a folk singer in the 60’s (and later a jingle writer – he came up with the “I’m A Pepper” and “Be All You Can Be” commercials) and when you listen to his version of Dazed and Confused, which came out a few years earlier, it’s clear that the LZ version is simply a copy with new lyrics, a different arrangement, and some instrumental additions. Further, he was the opening act for Jimmy Page’s previous band, the Yardbirds, who proceeded to do a cover of Dazed and Confused live with Jake Holmes’ original lyrics. Awkward! I am not sure why it took Holmes so long to sue. He has expressed bitterness and dismay over the years in interviews and said he attempted to contact Page to no avail. I hope he comes forward and explains but in the meantime, I am cheering for him.

Many people say that this was something artists of the 60’s did all the time: reference roots music in their songs. “Variations on a theme,” if you will. Not to mention, as Kohelet says in Ecclesiastes, there’s nothing new under the sun. All songs kind of sound like some other song. But here’s the important part: since I knew Kohelet said that and I know where it comes from, I began my sentence with “as Kohelet says….” Luckily, I don’t owe Kohelet any royalties. But this is something my mother taught me and it comes from Pirkei Avot, or “Ethics of the Fathers” in the Mishnah. The maxim goes, “whoever says something in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world.” We learn this from the Megillah of Esther (you remember that one from Purim, I’m sure) where Queen Esther tells the King in the name of Mordechai, that traitors are plotting against him.

My mother never quoted anyone else without saying, “I have to say this b’shem omro [in the name of the one who said it].” It was hugely important to her that the original writer or speaker got credit. Writing papers every week as I do, I constantly have to be aware of this and I wish Led Zeppelin had been, too. Because it’s OK to base our work on that of others; that’s how our society has always functioned. You just have to say so and let the world know who said it first.

Hear Jake Holmes’ Dazed and Confused on YouTube.
Hear Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused on YouTube.

Title adapted from the Led Zeppelin version.

בזכות מרים נחמה בת הרב יצחק
זכרונה לברכה


I’m sorry, I left my brain in my other purse

Filed under : Life in general
On July 9, 2010
At 12:30 am
Comments : 6

When you have a bad day or a crazy day or an interesting day and you want to tell people about it, they all say, get a blog! Yesterday I had one of those days (crazy and bad, we’ll see about interesting) and I considered tweeting about it or making it my Facebook status or starting a thread on my forum and then I realized: this is why I have a blog!

Behold, the day where everything went wrong! It began in the morning when I made myself an egg & cheese on an English muffin. This might remind you of a sandwich sold by a purveyor of less Kosher sandwiches, but rest assured, this one is made by me. Then I ate it and went back to my bedroom where I am holed up during this heat wave and can get away with using the smaller air conditioner which only costs a leg to run, as opposed to two extremities. Of course, I closed the door to keep the cold, cold air in. This also kept me from noticing that I had left the fire on under the eggless frying pan, the oil had all burned up, and the fumes of nonstick pan and burned oil and egg remnants filled the air. Some people might say, holy Jesus fuck. I am one of those people. That’s what I say when I realize I almost burned my apartment down while enjoying frigid air in ignorance. Good thing I got thirsty at some point and wandered out for water.

Later, I began my first day of classes. As I was packing up my bag at the end of the last one, I realized I was missing my phone. You know the one: my shiny new, same as the Queen’s, BlackBerry. Holy Jesus fuck! Where was my phone? I even had the professor brainstorming. I told her I had turned it off before my first class (I never use my phone as a phone but my one call a week always seems to arrive during a class) but she insisted on calling it to see if it would ring. It did not. I felt sick. I retraced my steps between the classroom and the last place I had seen it, the library. All along the way I asked every security guard if he had found it. One even called all the others. Nope. I asked someone at the library, where I had sat between classes, if anyone had turned it in. Nope. Wait, was it a Nokia? Nope. I went back up to my seat and there it was sitting in plain sight on the table where I had been. Does no one turn things in to the lost and found anymore? On the other hand, no one had taken it home in three hours, either, so that was pleasant. But more importantly, how does a person just walk away and leave their phone on a table that contains nothing but that phone and not notice? And how could that person be me?

That was bad. But I was on my way home and only a half hour later than planned. I waited for the bus even though it takes a bit longer, because it’s 500 degrees in the subway. Then I waited some more. And then more. Finally, just as I was about to think flameproof thoughts and head for the IRT, the bus arrived. I reached into my pocket for my Metrocard and… nothing. My pocket was empty. Holy Jesus fuck! Everyone who had been waiting with me looked at me curiously as I didn’t manage to actually get on the bus. No thanks! I just enjoy the wait. I wish I had an explanatory story for this but I don’t. I still have no idea what happened and where that card is. My pockets are pretty deep. So all that waiting for nothing and the loss of about $20 on the card itself, plus the case I use to carry it, which I like very much. Er, liked very much.

I decided that all of this occurred because I have been unable to sleep lately and my mind was utterly gone. But with actual Things To Tire Me Out happening, I felt very tired last night. Yes, thank goodness I was finally exhausted enough to fall asleep at 11pm so none of this would recur the following day. Naturally, I woke up two and a half hours later. That gave me plenty of quality time to scrub all the burned bits out of my blackened frying pan. Don’t you love a happy ending?

Garbage – Stupid Girl