Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tea: vignettes with my sister

My sister and her friends have been talking about writing to Operah to get her to donate air conditioners to her high school (why do they deserve such a gift? "We totally deserve it bc we're so modest!We have to wear buttons!" so they won't get pneumonia from wearing tank tops and short-shorts in the air conditioned rooms. a nice safe bet for the health insurance companies. "You totally took the buttons out of context! You're making me sound like an idiot. I definitely think you should put in abt how cool I am. that's very important.")
They're very modest.

"Ever notice how peas smell like feet?"
"Lots of things smell like feet. and feet smell like lots of things."
"but if peas smell like feet, then maybe we used to be peas. now here's my theory. in the olden days, we all lived. and it was dirty. and there was a massacre, where they chopped off all our feet and cooked them, and they turned green before they were cooked, bc rotting flesh turns green. and they called them 'peas.' and that's why peas smell like feet."
"peas come in peapods."
"but when they cook, they're connecting to their past. and that's why they smell like feet when we cook them."

I hereby propose a contest. quote: It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes. -Douglas Adams. funniest context in which this quote could have been said in a casual conversation. do it. do it now.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Walking outside to the car earlier this evening, my Mom called me over to look at the tree that we planted in front of the house when we moved in, abt twenty yrs ago.
"Here, Miri, see these leaves? Where they grew in?"
"See, even where they grew in, they're dying."
"Thank you for that cheery piece of news."
"Look, there's more." (pointing.) "This tree's toast."

I know snippy non-chalance is my Mom's particular method of dealing with things that frustrate or depress her. But still, need she be quite so flip right in front of the tree itself? I mean, deny a thing of hope, and what's it got left to live for, right? This tree has been slowly dying in front of us a little more every spring for years. But it's still kickin', at least for the time being. I for one see no reason to drag it down even further with unneccessary negativity.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Geek Discussion

I'm going to brave what may be something of a touchy subject. I don't want to offend anyone, please bear this in mind; I only want to start a friendly argument/discussion. I want to be clear here, and I want to start with a bit of personal background. When I got to high school, with a class more than twice the size of the one I'd just left (from a whopping 16 to a staggering 35 girls), not one of whom was from my former class, and only one of whom I was actually friendly with, I found myself immediately drawn into a group of girls, many new to each other that yr, yet all instinctively pulled together, like objects being sucked into a black hole. over the course of the ninth grade, a grace period where the social patterns were at their most fluid as ppl were still getting to know each other, it became clear that these girls were not only the nicest and brightest of my grade, but quite simply the most interesting to talk to. They actually had thoughts abt stuff and liked to get into heated arguments over silly things like politics, philosophy, science, or literature. they were the ones who made all the horrible chemistry jokes that you had to laugh at bc, well, they were funny. they even argued abt math. I don't know how or why, but they did. I could not partake of that particular pastime mostly, but they did it with such spirit that it was fun just to watch.
Now these girls, my close core group of friends throughout high school, were also slightly oblivious to social cues and accepted structures. to a few of them, the idea of a geek was something new. to others of them, it was something negative and stigmatic. it took some time (and I wasn't fully successful with everyone) to explain to them all that being a geek was a truly wonderful thing, a banner they should fly proudly, and flaunt for all to see with trumpets and confetti. Thank G-d, I was able to show some of the unconvinced that geek pride was an essential thing to all geeks, and we skipped happily through our high school days officially calling each other "the geeks" and nicknaming our ritual hang-outs as "geek-fests." (we still do, come to think of it.)
I have since given the matter a great deal of thought and come up with the following definitions, or rather categories, to help one figure out what exactly does or does not qualify one as a geek. I am aware that not even all geeks agree with me on this, and that is why I am putting this in a forum that is open to discussion and a free and friendly exchange of opinions.
Geeks may fall into one, usually more than one, of the following categories, and please beware that many of the categories overlap each other: 1) ppl overly interested in/good at math or science. 2)ppl who are into scifi/fantasy almost anything.(includes but not limited to Trekkies, Star WArs fanatics, Lord of the Rings Fanatics, DandDers.) 3)ppl overly into/good at computers/cell phones/ any or every kind of funky new technological toy. 4)anyone overly into anything animation related; including computer graphics, comic books, cartoons, comic strips, graphic novels, anime - also overlaps with fantasy. sub-categories include a)music geeks- usually mainly interested in jazz or classical, and frequently play music themselves. b)chess fanatics. c)gamers of any kind, which includes computer games, arcade games, video games, DDR, and DandD; also heavy overlap with fantasy and computer obsession. this is the basic breakdown. Nerds have a somewhat different breakdown, being a more or less seperate category, although again, with a lot of overlap. Nerds can fall into one (or more) of the following categories: 1)history/literature obsessed. 2)politically obsessed or 3)philosophy obsessed. there are a lot of these in the artsy area of life, too, but it's only some of them. you have to be on the watch-out for those. again, there's a lot of overlap; many geeks are also literature and politics obsessed, frequently philosophy also; and many nerds are also into fantasy or animation related topics. Cultural earmarks of a geek/nerd (not necessarily universal to all geek/nrds, nor are they limited to geeks/ nerds): Princess Bride, Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the works of Tom Lear, Monty Python.
Dorks are ppl who are socially inept without any redeeming qualities whatsoever. they're kind of rare, and usually have issues of some kind.
again, this is my basic breakdown, and I know there are many who disagree with me. I may have left some stuff off, for limited amt of time and space, and also bc I just had my wisdom teeth removed and am still on painkillers. let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

My father is abusing my monkey muse.
we have this little red and blue bean-bag monkey named Bobo. I forget where exactly he came from now, but he's been hanging around the public computer/tv area(they sit right next to each other) since I was in tenth grade, which is abt four yrs ago now. he used to sit on my head when I needed inspiration, and when I was busily typing away, sit in amusing positions and watch me with a sympathetic expression on his face. now, since I am mostly not home, he spends his days atop the television, usually next to the antennae. and my father has taken to passing by, putting him in vaguely torturous positions, walking away, and seeing how long it takes us to notice. for example, with his hind legs over his head, or various limbs twisted painfully round each other, or wrapped around the antennae as though trying to eloctrocute himself.
tonight, my father took Bobo's legs in hand and started to play with them. "I think Bobo's lost weight," he said.
"Dad!" said I. "Leave poor Bobo alone."
"Must be all that excercise he's doing. There, can you do that?"
I looked over and agreed that no, I could not wrap my feet over my ears the way Bobo, stuffed with beans as he is, could do. I then extricated Bobo from my father's hands and he is now contentedly frozen in happy-dance position at my elbow.
I know you'll all say that he is only cloth and beans and so doesn't feel pain, but I'm sure the emotional trauma will haunt him for life, even if he isn't flesh and blood. I'm thinking seriously of removing him from this environment and taking him to Israel with me the next time I leave.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Broccoli Bar

I don't plan to post much poetry here, but I've got nothing else at the moment. Also - this is not really one of my better poems; it's just this side of the line between embarassing and decent. but despite it's qualitatve shortcomings, I enjoy it because it's quite silly and has absolutely no basis in reality. so enjoy. or not.

Once I had a karaoke bar
and we served lots of broccoli

Moms loved us.

But the neighbors didn't.
We got lots of complaints that our customers couldn't sing
and we were breaking all the neighborhood windows and beer bottles

mostly we ignored them, unless they called the cops and
things got ugly.
that was fun.

But then there was this one lady
she wore the look of one in eternal spiritual pain
and torturing mental anguish,
and that was during the day. At night she would sit on her second-story balcony
across the way, with her head in her hands
and her long dark hair curtaining her face
and she would mourn.

No one ever knew what was wrong with her, or
why she'd chosen to live across the street from a
karaoke bar she apparently hated so much
and then one night
when the moon was full and lead-heavy
and the customers were all singing off-key
suddenly there broke into the thudding of the beat
that no one could keep time to
a wild banshee yelling cry
hurtling like a boomerang into the night sky

and outside the woman was yelling into the wind
crying and screaming and hair blowing evreywhere
"Please stop singing and let me freakin' SLEEP!"

After that, my partner Mikey said to me,
"Joe, let's pack it up and find somewhere new.
I don't like this part of town anymore."
and I said "Okay, Mikey." so we moved.

Only, a bunch of our stuff never got here, and we
got bored and decided to tour Europe with backpacks instead.

But once - once I had a karaoke bar
and we served lots of broccoli.

Monday, May 08, 2006

conversations with me father

and now for something completely different...okay well, maybe not completely. or, actually, yes, completely. be warned, this might scare the kids. for all those of you vaguely familiar with various incidents of my high school history, who ever wondered why I asked so many questions on the story...this might explain that a bit.
some background on my Dad; currently a lawyer at a fairly successful downtown law firm; but, like so many others of his breed, got himself a masters in English first, and futzed around with the idea of writing the great American novel, and called himself a poet. in truth, he is a poet, and he may yet write the great American novel. meanwhile, he amuses himself coming up with acronyms for diets and phone numbers and twisting anologies around until they cry uncle.

Dad:Life's all in how you look at things. I mean, if you stood on your hands, then everything that was going down is now going up.
Sister:But then all the blood rushes to your head and you black out.
Mom: And after that nothing much matters anyway.
F: Unless you're under water, and then the bubbles go up no matter what you do. so then you can just follow the bubbles to the surface. unless it's dark, in which case you can't see the bubbles.
S: But you can still feel the bubbles. so you can blow some out, feel which way they're going, and then head that way.
F:Yes, but then you have to be careful not to blow all your air out blowing bubbles to see which way to go.
M: Because then you'd black out. and after that, it doesn't really matter anymore.
S: we talk too much.
F:yes well, but you know if you can be a one-eyed man in the land of the blind...well...and then sometimes you find another one-eyed man in the land of the blind...and then you can be...two one-eyed men in the land of the blind. or you can link arms and be a two-eyed two-men man in the land of the long as you're facing the same way, because if you're facing opposite directions you'll just go around in circles.
S: but if you face the same way, then you might have some depth perception.
M: unless you're underwater, and it's dark.
S: then, uh...bubbles?
F:Yeah..only, if you can be a man with an oxygen know, in a world of two oxygen tanks...or rather, an oxygen tank in a world of no oxygen tanks..that is, if you can be an oxygen tank...
S: in a world of blind men?
F: yeah, better to be an oxygen tank.

Moral of the story: the heart of a woman is an icy-cold, upside-down, airless, one-eyed tank.

Disclaimer:Some artistic license has been taken in the preceding recreated conversation, however the essence remains true to the life and spirit of everyone who allegedly partook in said events. It's really more or less exactly accurate. kind of.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Mattisyahu Debate

Allright, new rant. was with a friend last night, and we got into a myriad of ridiculous discussions, the results of which will be most of the posts on this blog so far. topic of debate for the evening: Mattisyahu- savior of the disaffected, nearly-assimilated American Jewish youth, or the downfall of our nation?
arguments for Mattisyahu: awesome to have an Orthodox, committed Jew as a role model in mainstream American culture. the fact that he's making non-affiliated Jewish young ppl aware of basic Jewish concepts and proud of their heritage can only be a positive thing. think of outreach on a massive scale, directed at and succeding with a segment of the population that is nearly imposssible to reach in almost any other format.
against: being in such a mainstream and secular environment is a dangerous position to be in, and not just for reasons of culteral influence. such a visible position is a huge responsibility. every single action is examined, analyzed, picked to pieces. and one small mistake could spell disaster, even things that aren't your fault. for example, would anyone really have wanted Leiberman in the White House during and after 9/11? being high-profile has major consequences.
here's the thing. Leiberman didn't make it into office. and Mattisyahu did make it to international stardom. which is not the simplest thing for anyone, whatever your affiliation, beliefs, or strata in the entertainment industry. there's dozens of Jewish artists and musicians, even with albums out, who no one's ever heard of; and dozens more who aren't even that successful. than there are those who are moderately successful in the Jewish world, but who the greater secular world has no idea exist. this is also true of secualr musicians and artists- dozens of whom enjoy success on a modest scale, even enough to make a living off of, but who just never quite make it to the big-time. so the fact that Mattisyahu is currently working with high-profile performers from the secular music world, and who's music is also on the top-ten list of ipod downloads, did not come from nowhere. these things do not happen to just anyone, every day, in anyone's world. what I'm saying is, assuming the existence of G-d, and that He's actually in control of things (which I do assume), we've got to give Him some credit for placing people where He does, right? this kind of a position is a tool that, like any other, can be used for good or evil. If G-d chose to give this man this kind of astronomical success, then there is potential to say there's a reason for it. not to say that there's no danger in the situation. G-d's put men in high-power positions before, and they've made a mess of it. look at Bar Kochba, or Shabtai Tzvi, or any other number of influential political, social, or religious leaders. the potential for disaster is definitely there. that said - since G-d put him there, there's also clearly tremendous potential for good. the positive influence he's capable of having is unlimited. it is not up to us, who are not in control of these things, to decide that it is wrong for him to be where he is. he did not put himself there. the One who put him there clearly has a better idea of what's going on than we do. and since he has as of yet done nothing to shame or damage the Jewish community, done nothing but create positive images of our community in the greater secular world and create pride and a sense of connection in Jewish unaffiliated youth, I cannot see where we would get off, at the moment, saying he has no right to be where G-d has placed him.
that's my personal view. commentary is, as always, welcome.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why I hate Historical Fiction

hey, I figured something out on my own! baby steps maybe, but any progress is a personal victory, in my opinion. okay, I'd like to do a rant on several things, but I can only do one at a time, and I need to sleep so I'll pick the shortest one.
Art. the definition of art involves something about it's being a reflection of life. fine. when it comes to the art of writing, this definition leads to a well-known rule: WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. as in, things you yourself have seen, done, experienced, places/situations you've been to/in, stuff you yourself have gone through or witnessed firsthand. it makes the best writing. when I was involved in a summer creative writing program, the thing our group leaders kept telling us was "write what is hardest for you to write. go to the places that make you uncomfortable. it'll be your strongest writing." this message was mutated into "write abt sex, drugs, and violence, bc we are against censorship, and this would get you censored, and so we are being rebellious and cool." it was interpereted by my fellow writers to mean "write the stuff that makes you squeamish and giggly; it'll be good because that's what sells." Now, their theory, in theory, was sound. it works because it works in tandem with that golden rule of writing, to write what you know. the stuff that is hardest for you to write is the stuff that is the most personal, the most guarded, the most cherished. and that will be your best writing bc that is WHAT YOU KNOW best. now, I have a lot more to my general rant abt art, and how all people who consider themselves artists in any sort of capacity should familiarize themselves with as many different "artistic forms of expression" as possible -eg, writers should also spend some time studying paintings, dancing, and listening to music (a lot of music, and all kinds), and dancers and painters and musicians should all do the same thing; being aware of various ways of expressing and reflecting life broadens artistic ability, understanding, expression, etc. okay, all that for another time.
what I'm particularly ticked off at is how the genre of historical fiction ignores all of these rules. the same sort of thing tends to annoy me in various fantasy settings. here's a time, and sometimes place, completely different from the one you know. yes you've seen movies, and read books, and done research. (ever done research on something you knew abt from personal experience and been amazed at the innacuracy with which it was portrayed?) it never fails in these settings that the characters end up using expressions from modern-day jargon; that characters are imbued with sensibilities that people weren't even vaguely concious of at the time that this story is supposed to take place; that the political situations are unavoidably modeled on pesent-day tensions and situations. the result is something not only non-believable, non-realistic, and inauthentic, but often times, ridiculously boring and poorly written. if you like a theme, adress it in a modern-day situation like one you have experienced, and do not romanticize it by sticking it in a long skirt and a bonnet. this especially bugs me when people write about a culture they are not from. different cultures are different cultures because they value different things, or structure them differently. therefore, your values were proobably never as important to them as they are to you.
It's after two in the morning, and I've lost the ability to continue this with anything resembling clarity. I would, for example, cite books I've read that do this that bother me (Wicked, A Great and Terrible Beauty, some horrible thing I just saw in a bookstore which is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice); or, anticipate comments such as"Well, Mark Twain (and other authors of classic literature) did the same thing," which is true, and I think it was bad of him to do it as well, but at least he got stuff right with his other books and was mostly speaking in parable anyway (I'm thinking of Prince and the Pauper here); and other such things, but I have neither time nor patience. so, any comments welcome here.

Monday, May 01, 2006


hey. like so many others I have managed to acquire a blog by accident (yet again) while innocently trying to post on someone else's. the original title of this space was going to be "Ididntwantablog", but that was taken; then it was going to be "purpleelephants"but that too was taken. so I'm pretty sure no one else has done spoonicus yet, at least, maybe only 18 people have. that's all I have to say for the moment; except that this all is getting slightly ridiculous.