Thursday, January 29, 2004

Speaking for myself

I've been re-reading Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead (part of my general review of the entire Ender series, one of the best-written pieces of sci-fi out there), and simultaneously read shosh's musings on why ostensibly religious people do things which demonstrate their inherent irreligiosity (it's my blog, dangnabit, I'll mangle the English language as I please).

The question is one of those which my rabbis would say "is far better than the answer," assuming, of course that there is a single reason, which I doubt. The person may, in fact, no longer be religious but feels the need to "front" for family, friends, community, etc. Then again, the person might have a double moral code (which is NOT the same as hypocrisy), or simply weak. In one of the climactic moments of Speaker, the title character eulogizes an unpopular figure without any false praises or critiques, simply telling what the person did, providing some motivation for his actions, and giving the survivors a glimpse into what combination of soul and society created him.

Would that I could truly speak for myself. Would that I knew myself well enough to say: "This is what I believe. This is who I am, and therefore I do this." There are people who know me (or at least parts of me) far better than I know myself. Maybe someday, they'll get together and talk about me and figure me out. When you do, please let me know, ok?

Okay, that seems morose enough for a day's post... later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Great Google-y Moogly!

Making number one on a Google search is always reason to celebrate, and here I am striding atop two searches of the world's most popular search engine. Look for straight theater queen or efrex and this here dandy blog pops up on top! That's right! Number one! Numero Uno! Sound the party horns! Huzzah!

Okay, so maybe it's not such a big deal (far as I can tell, nobody's come in here from a search engine search for either of the above), but it makes me just a bit happier today...

Monday, January 26, 2004


Okay, this cold thing has gotta stop... I feel like my face has been sandblasted from here into next month, and I suspect that tomorrow's snow is not going to improve my temperament one little bit...

I made the mistake, a few months back, of getting The Lovely Wife(tm) to read the first Sandman collection (Preludes & Nocturnes), and now she's addicted. This of course means that I've had to go and get the rest of the collections for her. I was planning on just getting one book at a time as she read 'em, but Vertigo is reprinting the collections with new covers. Not that I'm such a stickler, but if I'm gonna shell out the bucks for a full set, I want 'em to look the same. So yesterday, I went out and got all the ones we diddn't have (except one, which I think I have floating around storage someplace). Between the complete Sandman, the Lucifer spin-off series, 1602, and my Astro City collection, I've spent more on comics in the last five months than I ever have in my entire life previously (it's gonna get worse, too: someday, I'm gonna introduce TLW to Elfquest... ah, well, we need a new bookshelf anyway).

Josh makes some of his usual erudite thoughts on the topic of marriage. I think, however, that there's a major point missed in his analysis. The "Dear Abby" reader looks to marriage as a means "to ensure that the distance between us won't tear up (sic) apart"... you've got your major problem right there. Marriage is not a means to ensure anything. It's a commitment, a promise that you will let the other person be a part of everything you do, and a promise to reciprocate. It's also a crapshoot (note: TLW hates that metaphor). I don't know that it's wrong to commit before a personality-altering experience (if getting hitched ain't a severely personality-altering experience in its own right, I don't know what is), but if you don't see the commitment has being a valuable commodity by itself, regardless of how you change, then you ain't got no business talking tachliss1.

More parsha thoughts: Why are we told of Moshe and Pharaoh's negotiations to let the Jews go to the wilderness (Ex. 8:21-25)? Was the final offer (the Jews could go a little way off, sacrifice and return) a legitimate offer? What if Pharaoh had stuck to his word? Perhaps this passage simply indicates just how unreasonable Pharaoh was (since one could argue that he had a legitimate "beef:" the Israelites were essential to the Egyptian economy, and letting them go would be political suicide). By showing that Pharaoh refused to even consider a reasonable alternative, we are able to reject any compassionate interpretation of his later actions.

1tachliss: Yiddish: lit. "purpose." In certain circles, dating for "Tachliss" means seriously sizing the other person up as a marriage partner.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Living la vida local

Well, the birthday surprises were quite fun. The Lovely Wife(tm) took me to Prime Grill for dinner, followed by tickets to Avenue Q (a riotously funny show, with as excellent an ensemble cast as I have any desire to see). A couple of the jokes were in questionable taste to my mind (I'm not a prude, but Rod's last line in "My Girlfriend" is just a cheap laugh and out of character to boot), but the overall whole is superb. Post-show, we hit Marie's, where I croaked out my usual off-key rendition of "Being Alive" and joined the "All that Jazz" dancing crew (that scratching sound you heard was Bob Fosse trying to claw his way out of his grave to strangle us).

Found out that my textbook for this semester isn't gonna cost me my firstborn. On the other hand, I haven't found out what shift I'm working next month, so who knows if I'll even be able to take the fershlugginer course. Ah, well... such is life.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be...

29 years ago, in a hospital that has since been torn down, yours truly came into the world. 29 years later, I've had four different addresses (not including the year in Israel), all with the same zip code. Not one for much moving and shaking, eh?

The Lovely Wife(tm) and I are doing something tonight, although I'll be durned if I have any clue as to what it might be. Since I failed to do anything for our anniversary (don't throw vegetables, I had a friggin' final that night and she was working), I'm a bit scared as to what she's got in mind.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Hold it steady right there while she hits it

Anybody in the NYC area with any interest in vocal music has got to stop whatever they're doing and catch Natalie Douglas's show at the Laurie Beechman Theater at the West Bank Cafe. Her show, "To Nina: The Songs of Nina Simone" is, quite simply, one of the most fantabulous evenings I have ever had in a cabaret space1.

I confess to not being overly familiar with the work of the late Dr. Simone, but Natalie chose a selection of songs sung and written by the "high priestess of soul" which makes me want to know a heckuva lot more. From a low "Summertime/I Loves You, Porgy" to the playful "Forbidden Fruit," Douglas commanded a crackerjack quartet (including Mark Hartman, working on his day off from conducting Avenue Q on Broadway) that threw everything but the kitchen sink into Simone's jazzy arrangements.

The Beechman itself is a delightful space, with a beautiful wood-beamed ceiling and great sound (except for a slightly noticeable buzz at one point which quickly got cleared up). A full grand piano on stage made for some beautiful music.

The last show of this series is going to be at the Triad. Don't even think about missing it.

1Conflict-of-interest notification: I've known Natalie for a few years now as a singing waitress at Brandy's Piano Bar, and she's been known to comp me a drink or two; however, if you think that I'd sell my critical objectiveness for a couple of free margaritas and Sprites, you're wrong (I'd need at least a couple of Sam Smiths's for that).

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Torah thoughts #1

Okay, so I've made reference to theatrical stuff, guess it's time for some Jewish-type things to happen as well. Let's start with some questions on the parasha1:

  • What exactly is Yocheved's plan in hiding Moshe? The Medrashic interpretation is that she planned to go back and fetch him after the Egyptian guards searched her house and left. How was she to raise him without being noticed? Was she abandoning him and hoping for the best?
  • Is Miriam part of the plan, or is she acting on her own?
  • Moshe is given three signs (stick transmuting to snake, leprosy on hand, and water to blood) to give to the Israelites to win their trust (Ex. 4:9). In 4:29-30, we find that he "did the signs... and the people believed." Did he have to do all three signs? When did they believe?

1parasha: Weekly biblical portion.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Gotcha, my little pretty!

After some five years' worth of hearing about the show, and having both the LP and the CD of the cast recording for almost as long, I finally got to see the legendary Fred Barton as Miss Gulch last night.

Miss Gulch Returns is only moderately about the minor "Wizard of Oz" character, and is much more about the difficulties of growing old and single (something which I know nothing about, but can still empathize with). By turns hysterically funny and simply moving, with the best drink-as-sexual-metaphor double entendres ever written, Gulch is a joy. It's current venue, however, needs a wee bit of work.

Dillon's is a fairly new cabaret space, so I'll cut them some slack (particularly since they have draft beer, an extreme rarity in the piano bar world), but the seats are cramped, the sound system was somewhat out of balance, and the lighting is not ideal. In addition, the service, while friendly, seemed a bit rushed (for some reason, we were billed together with the table next to us. Corrected fairly quickly, but still slightly irritating). I can't complain too much, though: with the loss of the King Kong Room and the final shuttering of the Firebird, I've lost five cabaret spaces that I have fond memories of (for those keeping track, the other three were Arci's Place, Rose's Too, and the eternally beloved Eighty Eight's). Anyone willing to make a go at this crazy cabaret biz is to be encouraged.


Yes, it's bloomin' cold out there... idiot that I am, I shlepped out to work from the bus stop rather than calling in for a ride. There was at least one other moron walking through the side gate for what that's worth. Came in, took inventory (looks like I didn't leave any essential extremeties behind), and am back in business...whoopee!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Painful interview with Israeli historian Benny Morris in Ha'aretz. While I don't know his earlier work well, it seems to me that Morris captures a current sense of despair in Israeli society.

Lots n' lots of ugly hacks going on over here, but I think the site's starting to shape up... the left image bar is not quite my ideal (yoxio's no-frills image hosting seems to be a good thing so far, though), and I don't even want to think about how non-standards-compliant this whole mess is, but it looks good on the machines at work...

Monday, January 12, 2004

T'nu Lashemesh Yad

Listening to the Israeli cast of Hair on my computer at work... (if you haven't heard the "Be-in" ["Hari Krishna"] sung with Israeli accents, then you haven't lived)...

Microsoft Windows Media player
* recognizes the album
* lists the song titles in a Hebrew font
* but lists all the words backwards (it took me much too long to figure out what the heck was written on my screen)

... still, props to the Great Evil(tm) for doing that much

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Me: *cough* sheesh, lookit all the plaster dust over here
Inner Muse/ blog real estate agent: yeah, but it's got potential. You could change the color scheme, put a links section over there on the right, an "about me" bit on the bottom, discuss all kinds of junk that only you would care about, and be read by, oh, five or six people every day!
Me: And how would this would be different than 99.9999% of the other blogs out there clogging up the information superhighway?1
IM: It would be about you, of course.
Me: oh.

1B'li neder (i.e., without making any legally binding promise), this will be the first and last misuse of the "superhighway" metaphor on this site.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

*sigh* so I've wanted to do this "blogging" thing for way too long... I mean, all the cool people in my neighborhood are doing it, and I still haven't gotten around to it. Okay, though: I've got three and a half hours till the end of my inaugural overnight shift, and not much to do, so let's see what we can come up with, shall we?