Archive for May, 2008



One Hit Wonder Wednesday

I have been tied up with many issues over the past few days.  I hope to update on everything soon.  In the meantime, I got this joke in email today and it fits in with One Hit Wonder Wednesday.

Two men, sentenced to die in the electric chair on the same
day, were led down to the room in which they would meet
their maker. The priest had given them last rites, the
formal speech had been given by the warden, and a final
prayer had been said among the participants. The warden,
turning to the first man, solemnly asked, "Son, do you have
a last request?"

To which the man replied, "Yes sir, I do. I love dance
music. Could you please play 'The Macarena' for me one last
time?"

"Certainly," replied the warden. He turned to the other man
and asked, "Well, what about you, son? What is your final
request?"

"Please," said the condemned man, "kill me first."

Believe it or not, the Macarana is probably the number one One Hit Wonder of all time!

Enjoy!

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Song of the day

I was never a huge fan of Progressive Rock bands. This is kind of odd, as the concept of “progressive rock” is really great, and based on my love of classical and other forms of music, I should be a big fan of progressive rock. Perhaps my problem is that although the groups seemed to be putting out music that did not conform to the rock “norms” of the time they still had a bit too much of a commercial feel to me.

Just my 3 cents. There are of course exceptions to every rule. and todays song is one of them. Those who know me, know I am a TVaholic. If I am not tivoing shows to watch with my wife, I am downloading them onto my computer and watching during my commute to and from work. I don’t watch everything, but I watch a lot. One of my favorite shows is “Supernatural“. I love the sci-fi and paranormal stuff and this show is right in there. One of the two main characters is a big of 70’s rock and the one song that has been played on this show more than any others is “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas. I don’t know why, but I really like this song. The music is wonderful and the lyrics are great. I thought of this song, because I watched the season finale of “Supernatural” this morning and the song was played.

Enjoy!

Song of the day

Today in music history………..

On this day in 1970, The Beatles last album, “Let It Be” is released in the US.

This album is perhaps the most interesting in terms of its recording and release. You can read all about that on wikipedia, but suffice it to say that when The Beatles were recording this album, they were all but broken up. They were not getting along and the fact that there were film cameras in the sessions made it even worse. I highly recommend the film “Let It Be” as well, and you can see the tension (although there are some times in the film where you can see how much they really love each other).

The album was shelved for about a year, during which time Abbey Road was released (which is a much better album).

Finally the recordings were given to Phil Spector and he put together what may be one of the worst Beatles albums ever produced (in my humble opinion). In 2002 Paul McCartney recruited Abbey Road studio personnel to recreate the album the way the group intended and with the permission of the remaining Beatles they produced “Let It Be… Naked” which I think is a much better treatment of the work. The most striking difference is that of the song “The Long and Winding Road“. Paul had conceived it as a piano ballad, but Phil Spector, using his “wall of sound” technique, overdubbed an orchestra and choir to this song to create what most people think of when they think of this song. The clip below, from the movie, shows the song the way Paul intended. You can also here it this way on the Naked album.

Plus if you are interested in the movie, someone on youtube has uploaded the whole thing (I will not comment on the legality of this). Click here to go to the page that contains the 9 parts.

Enjoy!

Orthodoxy?

Throughout my posts in this blog it is fairly obvious that I am an observant Jew. I am Shomer Shabbat, I eat only kosher food and I try to live my life in accordance with the laws and customs of traditional Judaism. What I have never really talked about my personal Jewish commitment and why I do what I do. As I begin to write this post, I cannot say that that is what I will write, but an article in the New York Times from about a week ago caught my eye and I wanted to comment on it and on my own choices.

The article is entitled “Among Orthodox Jews, More Openness on Sexuality“. I never liked the way newspapers and magazine title their articles. But I understand that they need to sell their product and titles help that (and that is a total different topic). I recommend reading the entire article as it is very interesting, but I will summarize. In the right wing Orthodox Jewish world, there is little talk about sexuality and when young adults are getting married, they really have no idea what to do. Some in the Orthodox world are working to solve this problem and I hope they are successful.

I bring up this article to highlight a reason why I am not an Orthodox Jew. I consider myself a Conservative Jew. To try to explain the differences between Orthodoxy and Conservatism can (and does) take books, so I will not attempt to do that here. In many ways, from the outside, I look no different from a Modern Orthodox Jew. I wear a kippah all the time. I eat only kosher food and I observe Shabbat. The difference is in my beliefs. For example, while I believe in the divinity of the Torah, I see it as a document that records man’s understanding of divine revelation. That is to say that God reveled himself at Sinai to the Israelites and the Torah is their understanding of what they experienced.

Everything else is commentary. I am not saying that the laws that came later have no authority, but I do believe that they are not written in stone and although the earlier interpretations need to be given much weight, I do believe that everything is still open for discussion. A friend of mine, Rabbi Geoff Haber used to explain the difference between Orthodoxy and Conservatism with this simple analogy. It may be a bit too simple, but it works.

Imagine Jewish law as a chess game. Each piece has a specific role in the game. Pawns can only move one square, bishops on the diagonal, etc. Before moves are made, the players will look at every move and what the other player might do based on their move, and they will try to do this as many moves out as they can. Finally, after careful examination, a move is made. In Jewish law this was the way it was for many years. Rabbis would examine everything and after that careful examination, they would make a ruling. But what happened is that by the middle of the last century, when Jews gained a level of freedom they never had before, the Rabbis countered by placing a clear case over the chess game. The game could still be studied, but the moves could no longer be made. Conservative Judaism still proceeds with the game open.

As I said that is simplistic, but it does work. If the Rabbis had chosen to allow certain things, they could have, but they chose not to. I prefer to be involved with Judaism that is still willing to interpret laws based on the changes in society around us, not a Judaism that reacts to the world by closing themselves off from the world.

Getting back to the article, I want to focus on the part where the teacher told her class (women who were about to be married) that sex was horrible and painful. This is an example of an even further reaction by Orthodox today where they are not only closing themselves off, but they are making things even more difficult. The fear is that if people were to think that sex was a beautiful and enjoyable experience, then people might start trying to experience it outside of marriage. Better people should think sex is horrible then the community have to deal with teaching young people sex education.

These stringencies are appearing in every aspect of Jewish life, from kosher laws to sabbath laws. This is why I choose to be involved with Conservatism. Do I agree with everything in the Conservative movement? No, of course not. But I do believe it is the most authentic way to be Jewish. All I can do is try my hardest to live my life the way I think God wants me to. I hope I am doing my best.

I want to end with a joke (this post was a bit serious) and a youtube video.

A man comes to his Rabbi and asks, “Rabbi, is it ok for my wife and me to try different positions when we have sex?” The Rabbi says “of course.” “So it’s ok if she is on top” he asks. “Yes” says the Rabbi. “What about if she is on her knees and I am behind her like a dog?” “Whatever you do in the bedroom is fine” answers the Rabbi again. “Rabbi, what about having sex standing up?” “NO” says the Rabbi sternly. “Absolutely not!” “It might lead to mixed dancing!”

In the same vein, here is a wonderful number from “Fiddler on the Roof”. This number was for whatever reason left out of the movie (and it is too bad, because it perhaps one of the funniest moments in the show!) I added this myself on youtube. Listen to the whole thing, as the “punchline” is at the very end.

One Hit Wonder Wednesday

It’s that time again. One Hit Wonder Wednesday. I have a great song for today, although I am not sure if it is really a One Hit Wonder. In the US, I think for sure it is as I don’t think anyone will ever remember any other song by Katrina and the Waves except “Walking on Sunshine“. They did have a few hits outside of the US including their 1997 Eurovision song contest win.

I loved this song from the first time I heard it. It is fun, upbeat, you can sing along, you can dance to it. It’s just an all around feel good song.

Enjoy!

Song of the day

mkm and I have been watching the HBO mini-series “John Adams“. It is a wonderful and fascinating look at the life of our 2nd president and founding father of the United States. If I were asked what historical figure I would like to meet, I would probably say John Adams (or perhaps his wife!).

I have always loved early American history and I think the first thing that put me on to this was the movie (and later I saw the Broadway show) 1776. This is a classic piece of American musical theater and is a great example of a musical that can put together wonderful songs with a series story.

There are two songs that stick out for me in 1776 and I am going to include them both here. The first appears near the end of the play when it looks like there is little hope for the congress to declare independence. John Adams has a solo where he sings about his vision of the future of America. The second scene is earlier when they are debating the declaration itself. Jefferson had included a paragraph that would have basically abolished slavery in America. We know that this paragraph actually existed and that congress removed it from the final document. What we don’t know is how the debate went. This 2nd scene is one idea.

Enjoy!

Song of the day

Every once in a while you get that song in your head. You know, the one that just wont leave you no matter what you do. You try thinking about something else, or even another song, but still you can’t get it out of your head. Sometimes the best thing to do is take the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach and just go with the song. Sing it, hum it, listen to it.

That is what has happened to me today. Sometimes you can tell why you have the song in your head and sometimes you cannot. In this case I can.

Avi has graduated from wanting to listen to The Beatles all the time to now wanting to listen to Wings instead. He understands that Paul McCartney is in both, but does not get it yet that if a Beatles song is on the live Wings Album it is still a Beatles song.

We were listening to “Wings Over America” in the car and “I’ve Just Seen a Face” came on. It is a song from the album “Help” in the UK and “Rubber Soul” in the US. It is a fun song, very fast paced and makes us remember back to the early Beatles hits. The song is simple yet sophisticated at the same time.

Here are three youtubes of this song! The first is the original recording, the second is Paul singing this live in Russia and the third is the full scene of the cover from the movie “Across the Universe“.

Enjoy!


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