Monday, July 28, 2008

Two Weeks

We are leaving New Haven in two weeks. Yup. We're moving to the safest city in America: Newton, Massachusetts. (I'd have said "safest in North America, but it's likely that the worst city in Canada is safer than the best of the U.S.) More details later.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Video of the Day: Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona was the first Coen Brothers movie I'd seen (I taped it off HBO back in '87 and subsequently had seen it dozens of times) and it got me hooked for a while [Dec 09 update: until "No Country" which I stopped watching after the second gruesome murder]. Also, it was when Nic Cage wasn't a total joke. So here's the best scene from the movie, which is also the best thing made in the 1980s (slightly NSFW).

Backpost finished 2009-12-06, fixed link.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Poem of the Day

From the genius, Ogden Nash:
The Cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk.
One end is moo, the other, milk.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ho Hum, Another Terror Attack in Israel

It took nearly 18 hours for the NYTimes to report on the second bulldozer terror attack in a month in Jerusalem. This attack took place right next to the hotel where I spent my honeymoon. No worries, right?

My favorite part of the recent terror is this quote from the eventual Times story: "The attack occurred near the Israeli presidential residence, where President Shimon Peres was having lunch with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. It was the first visit by a Palestinian leader to the residence."

So just in case you think this type of perfect timing is only found in movies/TV. The chairman of the PLO was in the Israeli President's house - having lunch - when a terror attack occurred.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Satire Compare and Contrast

Everyone's agog over the New Yorker cover which depicts the biggest smears against the Obamas. I was holding off from writing about it on the blog until I got my copy so I could see the title of the piece, which is "The Politics of Fear." As such, the cover isn't as tasteless as it first appeared. It's just stupid. Or, to put a specific term to it, it is a botched joke. And like other recent botched jokes (cf. John Kerry in 2006, Don Imus, or even Michael Richards) the fact that you WANTED to be funny, doesn't exonerate you from actually not being funny.

A botched joke isn't bad, many comedians suffer through them, but when the subject of the joke is a taboo (Kerry: Democrats talking about soldiers; Imus & Richards: whites about blacks), then the botched-ness shows a maladroitness in not only delivery but in judgement. Taboo humor is like live ammunition. Leave it to the professionals.

Speaking of professionals, compare the cover of the New Yorker to Jib-Jab's latest on the campaign (from Slate). Jib-Jab goes even further into taboo territory than the NYer, but because its so skillfully done, the jokes work:

Pic nicked from gawker.

Argument for Disco

Warning: this is a treatise to defend (some aspects of) Disco. Everyone is entitled to their own sense of taste (as can be seen from the Latin maxim: De gustibus non est disputandum - a.k.a. "there's no accounting for taste.") This is a crucial concept of life and wisdom, and it's well worth remembering. [Yeah, I can be this supercilious even when defending Disco.]

OK. Everybody knows that Disco is an easy musical punchline. However, in my extensive music listening, I have come across quite a few disco songs that are worth salvaging (the rest, like any 'pop' genre, can be ground into guano).

Note, one shouldn't lump the whole "Seventies" into the Disco heap. There were many quality music movements in the 70s, and many purely 70s bands, that redeem the decade (put another way, the decade ain't all the Bee Gees). Funk was basically the R&B version of Disco, and a far superior genre.

And 70s Rock bands are some of the best. For example, while Zeppelin acted as unreformed hippies, they were a pure 70s band. Same with Black Sabbath, Elton John (till 1975 he's incredible), AC/DC (even though they're identified as an 80s band, more on that another time; though the same holds for Aerosmith), Queen, Chicago, The Eagles (yeah, I know, but I like 'em), ELO (technically not disco and if you don't think they're good, listen again to "Evil Woman"), Boston, the best of Springsteen, the Doobie Brothers, Jethro Tull, and the heilige ZZ Top.

Anyway, here's the decent disco list (and this website is the final arbiter as to what counts as Disco, and the list is basically in their order; not every song is on this list, but I'm only one blog):
  1. That's the Way I Like It, K.C. and the Sunshine Band
  2. Stayin' Alive, Bee-Gees [can't use this song to hate on Disco, even if you hate the song, it's very good quality]
  3. Born To Be Alive - Patrick Hernandez
  4. Boogie Wonderland - Earth, Wind and Fire [I actually consider this song 'funk' but I'll include it here to (a) pad out the list, and (b) to prove to you skeptics that funk is just Afro-Disco]
  5. Funkytown - Lipps Inc. [You can still buy shares]
  6. Take Your Time (Do It Right) - S. O. S. Band
  7. Dancing Queen - Abba [sorry, it has to be said, even if they are they Mayors McCheese, many of their songs are good]
  8. Knock On Wood - Ami Stewart
  9. Ring My Bell - Anita Ward
  10. Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry [one of my favorites of all time; it's funny because it's true]
  11. Y.M.C.A. - Village People [It's good, just admit it!]
  12. Get Down Tonight - KC & The Sunshine Band
  13. September - Earth, Wind and Fire [The official song of the 9th month; I just love EWF]
  14. Shake Your Groove Thing - Peaches & Herb [face it, sometimes your groove thing does need shaking]
  15. Your My First, My Last, My Everything - Barry White [yeaaaah. This is not really disco, either, but I ain't arguin']
  16. Thank God It's Friday - Love and Kisses [especially the intro]
  17. Celebration - Kool And The Gang
  18. Macho Man - Village People [or this version]
  19. Open Sesame - Kool And The Gang
  20. Call Me - Blondie [yeah, why not]
  21. Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe - Barry White
  22. Brick House - Commodores [Even the Muppets know]
  23. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
  24. Theme From S.W.A.T. - Rhythm Heritage [neh-neh-neh, neh-neh-neh...]
  25. Upside Down - Diana Ross
  26. It's Raining Men - Weather Girls ["not no more it ain't"]
  27. Flashdance - Irene Cara [Did I ever tell you that I'm a gen-Xer? Well here's proof]
First pic is the album cover for Sesame Street Fever. Second pic from Basic Instructions about the Bee-Gees. Backpost finished 2009-12-06.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey, I Know This Guy!

That's fun, when you know a guy featured on Colbert:

Friday, July 04, 2008

Slifkin blog

As I (hope I've) mentioned before, me and my family are big supporters of Rav Natan Slifkin. He fought the good fight against the forces of intolerance and ignorance. And he now has a blog!

Pic from a website about his book. Backpost finished 2009-12-06.

Victims From July 2 Attack

I'm out of practice for this minhag - something I did almost every week (day?) back a few years ago - keep track of every single victim of the Islamic terror against Jews.

The terror attack on Wednesday was in Jerusalem, in a location I often was in. The three victims:

Batsheva Unterman (33), Jean Relevy (68) and Elizabeth (Lili) Goren-Friedman (58).

Read this about Mrs. Unterman, but prepare your heart to be broken:
Batsheva was born in Israel to Rivka and James Lubenstein, a couple who immigrated from Holland, and was a resident of Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood. She married London-born Ido Unterman, whose grandfather, Isser Yehuda Unterman, was chief rabbi of Liverpool and Tel Aviv before he became Israel's chief rabbi between 1964 and 1973.

For years, the couple underwent fertility treatment until their only child, Efrat, was born six months ago. Batsheva had worked for years in a religious kingergarten in Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood. "Neither of them gave up on their dream to have children," said Meira Schwartz, a family friend. "Before Efrat was born, she treated all the kindergarten children like they were her own. She was a graceful kindergarten teacher with the utmost patience for each and every child."

Batsheva Unterman was buried was buried at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery at Givat Shaul in Jerusalem. She is survived by her husband, Ido, and daughter, Efrat.