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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Radio Interview Podcast

As promised, here are the podcasts from Sunday Morning's MaMaSh radio interview. I really hate my voice.

(Note: Frankenstein Edit: I had some problems with the upload and the posts are out of order. Try to listen to 1 then 2 then 3 for the best effect (click "Posts" to see the names of the podcasts). Also the commercials are in place, so if you like that sort of thing, enjoy. I am told an edited version is coming).

I'm thinking about doing periodic podcasts for PT related shenanigans, so you may want to subscribe if you have an iPod.

Subscribe Free for future posts  Add this player to my Page

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Hebron Trip

This coming week, Jews around the world will be reading from the Torah portion known as Chayei Sarah. I've always found it interesting what the Torah chooses to elaborate on and what it chooses to skip. It glosses completely over the origin and identity of Cain's wife, for example, while it devotes a large portion of the beginning of Chayei Sarah to describing Abraham's negotiation and purchase of the Me'arat Hamachpelah, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and the field in Hebron where it is located, from Efron the Hittite, as a burial site for his wife and family.

It is perhaps the earliest documented deed of sale for a parcel of land. And yet it seems incredible that, 3500 hundred years later, we are still arguing over who actually owns it. The cave, and the city of Hebron itself, home to the first kingdom of David, where he ruled before conquering Jerusalem, is one of the oldest and holiest pieces of Jewish land. And it is also a place that the world has decided must be free of Jews. Naturally, when we planned our trip to Israel over the summer, we decided that it is a place that our children must see.

We were very fortunate to get Jameel from the Muquata and David Bogner from Treppenwitz to be our guides.

Rather than get into a long and boring chronicle of the trip, I'm going to post some pictures and let them speak for themselves.

Driving through Hebron in David Bogner's car. He is dissecting the new Beatles Love CD as we drive past the rubble-strewn environs. Surreal does not begin to describe the moment.

The outside of the compound for the Me'arah. The Cave of the Patriarchs is neither a cave nor a tomb. Discuss.

Jameel and David Bogner approach the enclosure over the Mearah. Note, if you will, the stones used for the bottom half of the structure. These are identifiable by their size, their inset border, and the quality of their construction as Herodian Stone. This places the age of the structure at around the time of the Second Temple.

The stones of the upper half of the structure follow an undulating pattern which simulates waves when viewed from a distance. This same pattern was used in the construction of the Second Temple. Putting it all together, if the Romans had not sacked the Temple in 70 AD, it most likely would still be standing today and would look very much like this.

The entrance to the chamber that houses the Cenotaphs for Abraham and Sarah.

The Cenotaph, or false tomb, of Abraham. This confused me when I came here as a kid. This casket is NOT underground in a cave. But that's OK because Abraham isn't in it. Possibly this marks the geographic spot where the Patriarch is buried in the cave under the structure. Or maybe not.
While we were there, Jameel explained to us the history of the Me'arah and the city of Hebron, and relayed this fascinating story to us.

The very interesting chandelier which hangs over the cenotaph. I'm assuming the Arabs change the light bulbs because Jews aren't allowed in.

The smaller, side shul inside the enclosure. We managed to catch a Mincha prayer while we were there.

The larger main shul in the courtyard.

The ark where the Torah is kept in the larger area.

After the tour we were treated to an amazing meal courtesy of David and Zahava Bogner. Aside from Jameel and the seven bloggers I brought with me, we also met up with some old friends from Milwaukee, Safranit and her husband, who made aliyah a few years ago. From L-R: Jameel, Safranit, David, and me. Notice how Jameel and I are wearing the same outfit. I was truly mortified.

What series of vacation pictures would be complete without an obligatory pose from The PT, here joined by the "other" psychotoddler, son of Treppenwitz.

Below is a movie my son Larry took while we were there. In Jameel's defense, he does not normally sound like he's been inhaling helium. I edited the speed to mask his voice.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Radio Interview

Well, it's time to set your alarm clocks.

I'm scheduled to be interviewed by David Gertler for his Music For Motzai Shabbat (MaMaSh) Radio Programme, this coming Saturday Night (or is it Sunday morning) at 3am-5am EST.

We'll be discussing my "music."

The show airs on WMCA 570 AM in the New York area, and streams from http://www.talklinecommunications.com/

If you're in Israel, you can catch the show live during waking hours!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What I'm Reading

I decided to add the "Library Thing" widget to my sidebar, which I freely admit to pilfering from Jessica's blog. Every so often I've toyed with the idea of blogging about the book I'm currently reading in order to demonstrate how eclectically hip I am, and since this is one of those rare instances when I'm not in the midst of a Asimov/Harry Potter/Tom Clancy book I thought this would be the perfect occasion.

I'm in the middle of The Amazing Story of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, and I have to confess that all I knew about him prior to reading this book was that his wife, Ayelet Waldman, got into some hot water a few years back for writing that she loved him more than their kids.

After spending some time with this book (which means little since I'm such a slow reader), I'm starting to develop an attachment to Chabon of my own. This is a great, great book. I don't really know what it is about, but it makes me feel proud. Proud to be an American, where anything is possible, where you can get off a boat with nothing in your pocket and build an empire, proud to be a Jew, Europe's purge of which led to the end of culture and enlightenment on that darkening continent, proud to have grown up as a scrawny New York kid who read and drew comic books.

This book seems to be about all of that, and maybe more. It's about the American Dream. And at this rate, I may actually finish it in less than six months!

What are you doing Tonight...

...at 11pm EDT?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Go Pack

I was on call this past weekend, and had the occasion to visit a nice elderly lady who was in the hospital suffering from, amongst other things, dementia, heart failure, urosepsis and generalized weakness. While she had just the day before complained about all of these maladies, on Sunday I walked in to her room, and when I asked her how she was doing, she barked: "GO PACK!"

For a brief moment I thought this meant that she was feeling so much better that she was ready to be discharged. That was before I noticed that she was sitting, propped up in her bed, wearing a green and gold sweatshirt, with a napkin tucked in at the collar, eating her pancakes with diabetic syrup and staring at the TV.

"De Packers are playin', an' I feel fine," she elaborated.

I never fail to underestimate the Green Bay Packers' therapeutic medical effects. It is a documented fact that Wisconsin Emergency Rooms are significantly less busy when they play, and become correspondingly overcrowded as soon as the game is over. Although I haven't found statistics yet on whether winning or losing makes a difference.

Which leads me to the interesting article which greeted me from the front page of today's paper, showing a crew of Orthodox Jews, led by local Chabad-guy Shais Taub, davening Shachris at a tailgate party at Lambeau Field.

You can read the whole thing here, but this paragraph really resonated with me (emphasis mine):

"What's the point?" Taub said. "Number one, Judaism is not relegated to the synagogue or the study hall. When you're a Jew, you're a Jew everywhere. If a group of Jews want to go to a Packer game, we do it like Jews."

"Number two, Jewish pride," he added. "Some Jews should see this and say, 'You know what, there is nothing to hide.' I can be openly and boldly Jewish and do that anywhere on earth and go where I want to go."

Go Taub!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't Call Me

There are two reasons why you shouldn't call me:

1. I hate talking on the phone. Ask my mother.

2. Owing to the fact that she is now six and her chair is right below the kitchen wall phone, The PT has been answering all our phone calls.

Here's a sample of a few dinner time calls:


The PT: (Jumps up on her chair and grabs the phone before anyone else can get to it)

The PT:

The PT:

The PT:

Abba: Say "hello"!

The PT: Erg....hewwo?

The PT:

The PT:

Abba: Who is it??

The PT: I don't know!

Mrs B: Hang up.

Abba: Wait--

Mrs B: Nobody's there.

The PT: (hangs up, sits down)


The PT:

The PT:

Abba: Say HELLO!!

The PT: Er....hewwo?

The PT:

Abba: Who is it?

The PT: Sounds wike a computer!

Mrs B: Hang up.

Abba: Maybe you should get on the phone.

Mrs B: Hang up, it's a computer.

The PT: (hangs up, sits down)


The PT: Hewwo?

The PT: We're having hamburgers and fwench fwies and koowaide.

Abba (to Mrs B): It's your mother.

Mrs. B: Hang up.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Haven't Been Blogging

10. The Jewish Holidays

Do I really need to elaborate on this? Check the stats on your favorite J-Blogs and you'll see that Tishrei has not been kind to them. Add in the general trend of blogging around the work-week schedule and and it's small wonder that having half a week off, three weeks out of four, has played havoc with everyone's blogging.

In my case, also factor in the preparation for the holidays, the recovery from the holidays, and overall fatigue from getting up early for slichos and not being able to keep my eyes open much past 9 PM.

So I hope everyone had a healthy and a happy one, and now can we PLEASE return to normality??

9. Work

Being off for so many days means that I need to do that much more work the days that I'm in, which leads to totally packed clinics that start early, go through lunch, and end late. Blogging? What's that?

8. The kids have been home

Which is great and all but for many reasons it cuts down on my blogging. The primary issue is that they use all the computers, so my access to Blogger is quite limited at home. Unless I use the computer that our network lovingly designates as "abba", which, much like C-3P0 to Anakin Skywalker, is the little machine that I tinkered together in my days of youth and innocence, but whose relationship I now refuse to acknowledge, because it is obsolete and eccentric and has the annoying tendency to unceremoniously reboot itself while I'm in the middle of writing my most profound pos/////////////////////////////////////

DANG!! Where was I?! Man it's hard to keep a train of thought going through spontaneous reboots and ten minute restart cycles.

7. Facebook

Oh thank you Mr. Da Jew for inviting me to this enthralling internet experience known as facebook. Who thought up this thing? The Three Stooges? I spend hours a day logging on, getting poked, poking back, and getting poked again. And then people lob cows or pies or pirates at me and I'm supposed to be fascinated by this.

Look, I thought it was cool when fudge came home from college a few years back and showed me her facebook page and all her little friends from school who busily scribbled on her wall and joined clubs like "fudge's Mom is the most Awesomest" and stuff like that. Really, it's nice. And I kinda liked that it was restricted to college kids and that you were supposed to use your real name and that only people whom you really knew would have access to your profile.

But then they opened it up to everyone with an email address and now, correct me if I'm wrong, it's filled with middle-aged bloggers who use aliases (aliasi?) and have obscure Sesame Street characters as their screen icons while they cavort with the college girls. Ahem.

Anyway it seems a little creepy.

On the other hand, I did reconnect with an old college roommate who seems to know a lot of models.

6. The XBOX 360 is finally here!

Yes!! I pined and I pined! And I bought the washer and dryer! And then I got my kids to empty their little bank accounts and chip in on the beast! The 360 ROOLZ! Not that I have time to play it, what with all the blogging I'm supposed to be doing.

OK, there is this one game called Test Drive Unlimited, that's a cross between The Sims and Midnight Club, in which they model the entire island of Oahu and you get a virtual home and you buy cars and race them or just cruise around and enjoy the sights. And it's online so the other cars are sometimes real people from Sheboygan. And also you can shop for shoes. I'm serious!

5. My Musical Career

Haha just kidding. Actually I did play one gig over Sukkos and it was fun.

4. Heroes is back on TV

The best show on TV is back with all new episodes! And I have an HDTV in the basement! My wife and I are totally hooked on this, and I can exercise and spend quality time with her simultaneously. Besides Heroes, there's also Bionic Woman, which I'm having a hard time getting into, but as a child of the 70's I feel obligated to give it a chance. Plus it's by Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick, and Katee Sackhoff is in it, so there's potential. Maybe it'd be better if I watched from a Sleep Number bed. Purely by virtue of momentum, we've tried out Journeyman too, which seems to me like Quantum Leap minus Al.

3. Pinnacle Studio

I'll spare you all the technical details (because I know you won't read them), but my DVD authoring program, which I won't name (except to say that it's Roxio Easy Media Creator 7) suddenly decided to stop functioning, and no amount of defragging/uninstalling/reinstalling/patching would make it work again. And the only helpful advice I got from Roxio was "You can now purchase Easy Media Creator 10!" Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I'm not throwing good money after bad. So after some serious research (thank you, Google), I settled on Pinnacle's Studio software. Also the box looked pretty cool. And it comes with Green Screen. Literally. It comes with a big green screen. Like six by six. So you can eventually look forward to Youtube videos featuring the PT singing Ma Nishtana on the Moon while being stalked by a giant space cat.

Right now I'm focusing on transferring band performances to DVD (and going w i d e s c r e e n !) and putting together a compelling movie out of our 2 hours of Israel footage and some 800 odd pictures. Yeah, look for that real soon.

2. Blog fatigue

I think King Solomon said it best when he wrote, "there is nothing new under the Heavens...it is all futility." Was anyone else paying attention during the reading of Koheleth or is the theme of that thing, "life sucks, and then you die"?

Seriously, I think I've already said everything useful that I'm ever going to have to say, and anything else is pure nonsense. But hey, there's a market for that.

1. Self-censorship

Thank you, Anonymous Lurker, for coming up to me at that Bar Mitzvah the other night and DeLurking in front of my wife! She is now more convinced that ever that I give out too much personal information to total strangers on the internet and that we will one day come home to a completely different family stealing our identities, inhabiting our house, driving our cars, paying our kids' tuition, and writing our blogs. For all you know, I may already be an impostor.

Anyway, bottom line, more and more is becoming taboo. Sigh.

(Seriously, Anonymous Lurker, it was cool to meet you!)

Hey! Maybe I should make this into one of those...now what do they call them...oh! Memes! I guess I should...tag...some people...lessee...whom can I annoy...

I tag Ralphie, Stacey, and Mort the non-blogger!