Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Tells me how it feels to be new

Filed under : Judaism,Music
On September 28, 2011
At 10:00 am
Comments : 5

Tonight begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebration, when we take stock of where we are and where we want to be. But wait, you say, year after year, I’m still the same person. I only have this raw material to work with. Fair enough. But I ask you to consider the cover version. You know, you take the bones of the original and make something fresh and exciting and both recognizable and different at the same time. Because the old can be made new! And without anything sold on a late night infomercial. You just take that great inner core of yours and re-imagine it into something modern, fresh, and relevant to today.

Consider this example. I am not really a fan of Duncan Sheik. I do not enjoy his smooth, smooth voice, his easy-listening aesthetic, or his habit of saying “ya” for “you.” Call me picky. But I was intrigued by his new record, a collection of covers of 80’s synth classics, completely divorced from the original synths and just a concentration on the pop songs within. They are all acoustic, sans drums, and filled with unusual instrument choices. Some of them I could take or leave but there are two in particular I really love.

This is a version of The Cure’s Kyoto Song, a song that I not only love but which The Cure themselves reinvent often in concert. I love to hear new takes on it and this one is gorgeous.

Everyone knows that Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It is one of my favorite songs of all time. This one keeps the sweep and the drama while still adding a new flavor. If only he knew how to pronounce the word “you.” But it’s a small quibble here.

Shana tova, a sweet and amazing new year, and here’s to the remake of ourselves which keeps our essence while still adding layers of goodness.

Title comes from Kyoto Song.
Buy Duncan Sheik’s Cover 80’s on Amazon


I can’t imagine, my destination

Filed under : Life in general
On September 22, 2011
At 7:45 pm
Comments : 3

So here’s the deal. I am busier than I have ever been in my life and so tired that my free time is spent staring at the ceiling wishing my feet hurt less. But life is good, or at least I can’t notice if it isn’t. I did get to an OMD concert, which was awesome; thanks, Brother2. Whilst there, I discovered that Andy McCluskey dances like Elaine on Seinfeld. I also ran into someone from my old label… I sometimes forget there actually still is a music industry.

Anyway, I can also tell you that there probably won’t be any more posts until New Year’s. That is, Jewish New Year’s, which is late next week. Probably more likely the week after that, which is the period of repentance where I try to think deep thoughts. So I apologize in advance and leave you with a picture of David Nalbandian pushing his luggage cart through the airport in Buenos Aires. I know you’ll find it as fulfilling as I do.

Title comes from:
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Souvenir


It’s up to me now, turn on the bright lights

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Life in general
On September 12, 2011
At 6:00 am
Comments : 3

Subtitled: Got to be some more change in my life.

I had the title of this post in my head for months, maybe a year, but never the content. Despite all my tennis posts, this will go down for me as the year I couldn’t really pay attention to what was happening once the sessions I actually attended were over. I spent the last week and a half at my new job and each day got progressively more layered with “realness.” First, new staff orientation. Then the return of all faculty. Then the middle school kids started. Then the upper school students joined them. Finally, the lower school kids came, but just their regular classes, not mine. Finally, today, I begin.

I’ve spent a lot of time setting up my computer lab and getting to know my new co-workers. If last year was a total delight in terms of the fun school I was placed at, this year is an extension of that and yet different. It is utterly, utterly surreal to find myself employed in a school. The lab is my classroom and it replaces all the offices I ever had at record labels. It is so different from anything I’ve ever done, from any situation I’ve ever found myself in, that I don’t even know how to approach it. It really feels like those dreams you have where you find yourself called to the board in front of the class to do a problem out of nowhere. It’s like I woke up and I was in front of a class of children and I’m not wholly sure how I came to be here. Sometimes, when people knock on the door of my lab and ask me a tech question, I want to say, “don’t you realize I’m just a music business executive?”

The people I work with are mostly wonderful (no one’s bad! Just some are good and some are great) and finding myself with new co-workers in a new job are things I do have experience with. Even when I went around on the first day of classes to introduce myself to the kids I’d be teaching (“Hi! I’m Ms. Jewball, your new technology teacher. I can’t wait to see you in the lab next week!”) it echoed moments I’d had last year at my old school. But today it will be just me and them.


By the way, today is also the anniversary date of my Bat Mitzvah, so, today I am a woman and all that.

Both the title and subtitle come from this song, which I mentioned yesterday. The post title line doesn’t even appear until the second half of the song and then dominates it. The sweep that comes up behind it, at about 1:40, has always reminded me of a bird taking flight.
[youtube width=”420″ height=”345″][/youtube]


But the fighter still remains

Filed under : New York City
On September 11, 2011
At 8:00 am
Comments : 11

Manhattan in West Side StoryI thought I’d choose today, when people tend to dwell on the negative, to send a love letter to the city that charms, delights, and embraces me, every single day. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t remember how lucky I am to live in this amazing place. So, here are my favorite songs about New York, chosen for how they represent the city, and not because I love them better musically. Although I do love them all.

(Photo is the approach shot in West Side Story)

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West Side Story Cast – America
I like the island, Manhattan! This movie is so New York that when I think of it, the intro graphic of the city map always appears in my head before anything else. This particular song, which is sung on a rooftop, cleverly contrasts the positive and, er, not so positive experiences of the immigrant, all the while underlining the yearning to fit in and be successful.

(The whole scene is great but the song starts about 2:15)

Happyhead – Baby USA
Almost no one here has ever heard this song but it makes me laugh every time I hear the chorus: “Don’t shoot! I love you, Baby USA.” I always imagine the singer who has come over from England to see his love, getting greeted in stereotypical New York fashion. The song never mentions NYC, but it’s clear from the lyrics and sound effects that that’s where the lady lives. If I ever did send an actual mash note to this town, it would say: “Dear NY, Don’t shoot! I love you. xo, Becca”

No video for this, so here’s a stream. It’s the happiest song on this list, so you may want to play it twice.

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Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer
So many good S&G New York songs, but this one, again, tells the story of coming to the city with hope in one’s heart, only to struggle and fall. But as the post title says, still he remains.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling the emotions of this song every time I hear it, it’s that real.

[youtube width=”280″ height=”230″][/youtube]

Billy Joel – Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)
They blew the Bronx away! I really can’t tell you why I love this song. I think in talking about a supposed apocalyptic future for New York, it makes you appreciate what’s here now all the more. And never mind that other song; it’s become a cliche.

[youtube width=”280″ height=”230″][/youtube]

Rolling Stones – Miss You
The Stones aren’t from New York, but when I was young I thought they were. Forget the subject matter, the attitude of this song is pure NYC. It is elegant yet gritty, and full of swagger.

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Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer in the City
Another great sound effects song. I can hear this song in the dead of winter and be brought to a 100 degree/90% humidity subway platform. But in a good way.

Interpol – NYC
More about this song tomorrow, strangely enough. But again, the theme of opportunity and difficulty intermingled are here. Plus, the subway really is a porno.

(The video to this will be in tomorrow’s post.)

[youtube width=”280″ height=”230″][/youtube]

U2 – New York
This is, 100%, my favorite song for representing New York. I think only people who have moved here, maybe, really get it right. It is loud. You are always surrounded by people. Those people are from a hundred different countries and ethnicities. As previously mentioned, it is hot as a hairdryer. There is always something to do. People are always wanting something from you. I used to cry when I heard this song; it came out right around 9/11 and it reminded me of all the things I loved and hoped would still exist. Irish, Italians, Jews and Hispanics…religious nuts, political fanatics… in the stew, living happily not like me and you.

During my orientation at Fancypants, they had teachers come to speak to us to give us advice about working there. Since many of the new people had just moved here, some of the advice was about living in New York. One teacher said something like, “people here aren’t rude, they are just… efficient. You will think they are rude but you just have to get used to the fact that they are in a rush and time is important to them. They don’t have the time to spend on you. It’s not personal.” I had never considered that before, and maybe it’s why most of the songs I picked are downers. It’s not personal, it can just be a grind to live here. But I love it beyond words, which is why I’ll never, ever let anyone make me afraid to live here.


Star tracks, JBall edition

Filed under : Famous People
At 12:05 am
Comments :Comments Off on Star tracks, JBall edition

People, Quinn Freaking Cummings!

[blackbirdpie id=”112703250557452288″]

I think she meant “top,” but whatever! I’m too high on life to care. Quinn Cummings likes my name! (Thanks to Kay, one of my favorite people in the world, for bringing me to her attention.)

I also got answered by one of my tech education heroes, whose works I read all through grad school and is in the bibliography of my thesis. What a night.

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