I am a Yid. I like to rock. Veitur!

- [ Tuesday, March 30, 2004 ] -
Joseph Congiusti, 1950-2004
If you've ever shopped at Binny's Beverage Depot on Clark, you might be familiar with a great whiskey expert, named Joe C. Unfortunately, he passed away last week. He was truly talented, knowledgable, and a very nice man. If you bought a bottle from Binny's with a sticker that said, "personally selected by Joe C," you knew it was quality.
Liquor store worker hailed for his knowledge of spirits

By Nikki Usher
Tribune staff reporter
Published March 24, 2004

A day after Joseph Congiusti had called his boss at Binny's Beverage Depot to tell him his lymphoma had taken a turn for the worse, the longtime liquor expert was back at work as usual.

Mike Binstein, the owner of Binny's, found Mr. Congiusti on his knees in the store at 3000 N. Clark St. in December, restocking the bottom shelves with bottles of liquor. One of Mr. Congiusti's pet peeves was an empty shelf, Binstein said.

"He must have been in terrible physical pain, but he still thought it was important to do the small things because he took such pride in his work," he said.

Mr. Congiusti, 54, heralded by industry experts for his expertise and knowledge of spirits, died Sunday, March 21, in Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood of complications after his second bone marrow transplant.

Last October, Mr. Congiusti received the Keeper of the Quaich award from the Scottish whisky industry, one of the most prestigious awards in the business.

"He was a true expert and a pioneer in the spirit industry," said John Hansell, the publisher of Malt Advocate magazine, who has known Mr. Congiusti for 15 years. "He judged in competitions all over the world and was highly regarded."

Mr. Congiusti was a lifetime Chicago resident and lived in his boyhood home in the Jefferson Park neighborhood until his death. He graduated from Taft High School and received a bachelor's degree from Northeastern Illinois University in the early 1970s, said his wife, Lori.

Mr. Congiusti's father introduced him to the liquor business. They worked together at Paterno Liquors, 5303 N. Milwaukee Ave. He spent about 30 years working at other stores, including Sam's Wine & Spirits. He began working at Binny's three years ago.

"He was a student of the brands and had a huge mental database of everything," Binstein said. "It wasn't chugging with him; it was drinking and picking the nuances out, comparing the vintages."

Family and friends said Mr. Congiusti traveled the world, visiting distilleries to learn more about their products. He traveled frequently to the Cognac region of France and enjoyed visiting whisky distilleries on the isle of Islay in Britain, his wife said.

"He also loved the cultural aspect of all of this travel," she said. "Before we'd go, he'd put tapes on in the car to learn the languages, so he could try to do business in them."

Mr. Congiusti also was a sports enthusiast. His jogging partner, Bob Kurtz, remembered that he would always go running in black Army boots.

"He did it because that's the way he said he used to run when he was younger," Kurtz said.

Other survivors include two sons, Vincent and Robert; a daughter, Shirley; his parents, Joseph and Evelyn; three sisters, Lizbeth Congiusti, Lauren Zubert and Claudia Marren; a brother, Dominic; and a granddaughter.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Cumberland Chapels, 8300 W. Lawrence Ave., Norridge. Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, 4646 N. Austin Blvd., Chicago.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune

Welcome to the Tribe!
I would officially like to welcome, our good friend, Nechama Leeba, (which means "source of comfort" and "beloved" respectively) to the Tribe of Israel!

Some of you may know her by her secular name, Denise Jacobs. If you ask me, she always had a Jewish soul. I thought she looked familiar...I do believe I saw her at Mt. Sinai. Mazal tov!

- [ Monday, March 29, 2004 ] -
Jewish Music Concert Review
I was going through some papers in my closet, while cleaning for Pesach and I came across an old issue of Country Yossi: Family Magazine. May 1998/Sivan 5758. The cover story was, "Things Just Got Hotter!" (here is what a Jewish magazine cover looks like without any ads)

Stacks of this particular issue were brought to Chicago in order to launch an advertising campaign for the cover artist. A bunch of them landed in my closet. This is the only issue of the magazine I have ever seen. (We do have a CY rip-off in Chicago called, Jewish Image, So I'm a little familiar with the genre. More on that another time.)

In the letters and comments section, a fed-up Country Yossi reader writes this actual letter which was published in this issue:
Dear Country Yossi,
      As an avid concert-goer, I would like to express my concern over the kind of music making its way into our Yiddishe community. I attended a concert recently and greatly enjoyed the performers. However, I was shocked and offended by the jazzy, rap-style music of one group. Had I wanted a rocky, meaningless and downright repulsive performance, I could have gone to a rock concert or tuned in to some funky FM station.
      Are these the role models we would like for our children? Is this the style of music befitting a frum community?

A concerned concert goer

I have nothing to say about this letter. It is here for your enjoyment.

Buddy Blogroll Update
Total anarchy continues at Merlin's Blog. Now disgruntled, suspended blogger, Darrell, started his very own hefkerblog, Freedom's Blog, where anyone but Merlin is welcome to ask him for a blogging membership.

- [ Thursday, March 25, 2004 ] -
Other Nonsense
Apparently, there is nonsense on the web that doesn't come from Jews. On the right, are a few good examples. I don't have a link to the funniest site on the internet, The Onion, because I think everyone's aware of it, and I don't need to stroke their ego any more.

All Dumb has dumb links. There are infinite dumb links on the internet. They give it to you daily, seven at a time.

Cockeyed is very simple. Rob, the proprietor, is a scientist with unending curiosity and a camera-phone. You can find public pranks and search for advertising truths. My favorite section is How much is inside?. Who hasn't wondered?

Black Table is pretty much a professional-quality team-blog. There are interviews, reader-submitted reviews, and regular features. And it always has top-notch links on the left side.

Daily Snopes this is the only place necessary to get your daily dose of weird news links. It takes the best of all the news wires, cuts out the boring stuff, and serves it up to you with concise, two sentence descriptions so you know what you're clicking. Also, go to the root, Snopes.com and do a search for the "warnings" you have in your outbox before you hit the send button.

Memepool has quality links in good context, almost daily. Real stuff, too. No recycled weird-news here.

Davezilla is a consistently funny blog with original content. An entertaining 30 seconds every day. Who could you ask for more? Except for you, you greedy pig.

Sneeze another quality humor blog. Good features include his eight-year-old son's advice column, what it's like to eat weird things and the Global Schoolyard Rhyme Project.

Straight Dope is where you go if you have a question about anything. They're right about everything with sources. It's a syndicated weekly column with a daily version on this site.

Jewish Nonsense Links
I appreciate a good amount of nonsense. Some of the nonsense you will find here can be funny. No one is better at creating nonsense than Jews. To the right, you will find a few links to some of the finest Jewish nonsense on the web.

Bang-it-Out! is an oft-updated site out of the UWS (upper west side) of Manhattan. Produced by the Galena twins. It has articles on Torah, movie reviews, song parodies, funny pictures and a lot more. My favorite parts to read are the top-ten lists. They are always expanding, finding new ways to present humor and insight for the young adults on the UWS and elsewhere in the world. The design of the site isn't too slick, but it's tons easier to navigate than J-Post.

Jewsweek is a slick, magazine site. I don't think they have a print version, but the production is very magazine-y. They update weekly, and there are plenty of quality articles about current Jewish issues. Most of it is fairly hip, but too polished to be truly cutting edge.

Only Simchas, soon by you. A strangely compelling site. Not comedy, outright, but the very idea is mind-blowing. If you've never heard of it, it's a site that is becoming more popular at a geometric rate. It simply lists announcements of engagements, weddings, births and other occasions to say "mazal tov." It started out being a New York thing, but now it's worldwide. It is the perfect site for the nosy-Jew in all of us. It's unhealthy to check it everyday. Although, it's hard not to go there and look up your ex-girlfriends. Watch out for exclamation point abuse in the comments. Mazal tov!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHABOT 6000 is the only clever Jewish comic strip I've ever seen.

Another Successful Quiz

You're a gryphon. You're very powerful without
needing to brag about it. Creativity is one of
your strong suits. Your outward personality may
change drastically according to your mood,
which is not always a good thing. You're a
loyal guardian when you choose to be and you're
aligned towards *good*.

What mythical beast are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(link courtesy of Sklaro)

MC David in Da House




Sometimes I think that the Psalms that begin with "Mizmor L'David" are very similar to the hip-hop songs of today in which the lead vocalist spends the first minute introducing himself.

UPDATE: LeHavdil...

- [ Monday, March 22, 2004 ] -
A Band for All Ages
Last night, unbeknownst to many, was an evën sh'siyah (one of my Jewish rock bands) concert. It was an annual concert for a traditional shul in West Rogers Park. The usual fare for this shul's concerts is an opera singer, or, as I was told, some old violin player. The membership for this shul has a very high median age. I didn't really 'get' why we were doing this concert. But they wanted to pay us, so I was as game as anyone else.

The room was set up to seat about 250, and it was at least 90% full. There were plenty of septuagenarians there, but there was also a fairly large constituency from the mechitzah minyan that was significantly younger. They all came to have a good time, and they loved every second of it. They loved the music and all the corny between-song banter. They just ate it up.

Also, I would like to say, that almost every single audience member returned for the second set. Normally, at any concert on a school/work night, people tend to leave if given the opportunity. The concert started at 7 pm. Almost everybody returned after the ten minute break for a second 75 minute set.

I saw one of the most beautiful things in my life. Starting from the first song, there was a little old lady who was hippy-dancing in the back. She was doing some twirls and waving her hands around. Of course, it was done very slowly. She took some breaks every now and then, but more often than not, she was up in the back of the room on her own little planet, dancing away in ecstasy. I was truly touched. Kol hakavod! Ad me'ah v'esrim!

Update: I forgot to mention, look for this concert to be on the always entertaining, local cable-access phenomenon, "Taped with Rabbi D." (You know who I'm talking about.) Hopefully, the show will also include amusing portions of our group interview. (I thought it was a very small room to interview a very large band.) The show in general, is something that must be seen to be believed. I'm sure this episode will not disappoint.

- [ Sunday, March 21, 2004 ] -
Good-Guy Blogroll
To your right you will see the "Good-Guy Blogroll." This blogroll is mostly political. These guys are good. Meaning, they're the good guys. The authors of these aren't all Jewish. But at least they seem to like Jews.

Allah is in the House, AKA Allah Pundit, is written from the point of view of the Islamic terrorists' Allah. Funny political commentary, and very funny photoshopped pics (if you can get them past your firewall). When done properly (as is the case with "Allah"), it's very comforting to read jokes about all the really horrible things happening to us.

IsraPundit is a very prolific multiblog with news and views advocating Israel. It's updated about a dozen times a day.

I don't know why Little Green Footballs is called, "Little Green Footballs." I did a Google search, and all I found was some kind of plant whose buds start out looking like little green footballs. LGF points out examples of clear bias in the international press and anti-semitism disguised as political activism. A daily, must-read.

The Politburo Diktat is written from the view of a Jew-hating communist, The Commissar. But as it turns out, he's not actually a Jew-hating communist. His political commentary is more from the standpoint of Islam vs America and the right vs evil. He has some maps of Spain and what it will look like between now and the year 2030. The Commissar is also very savvy when it comes to all things blogosphere. The Party (communist) commands you to learn about blog syndicate feeds. Da. It's saved me hours of procrastinating.

- [ Friday, March 19, 2004 ] -
Live Piamenta Shows Online
Download some great legal music for free!

There are a couple great Piamenta bootlegs (sanctioned by the band) that I have been made aware of by the "PIAMENTABAND" Yahoo Group. Go there for more information.

There are a bunch of shows up already, and they're always putting up more.

Go to Live Music Archive page on Internet Archive. Then look for "Piamenta Band."

- [ Thursday, March 18, 2004 ] -
Bring Back the Jingle
My opinion on selling your music for use in advertisements:

Not only is it annoying, it's wrong.

How can an artist sell something to consumers, and then go ahead and sell it again to advertisers?

Here's an example:
Bob Seger makes music and puts it on an album. Bob Seger sells albums to people. They can listen to the music at their own leisure. The consumer is very careful not to play it too many times, lest he/she gets sick of it.

Bob Seger goes ahead and sells "Like a Rock" to Chevrolet. Everyone who has access to a radio or TV is assaulted by it and subjugated to hearing only the catchy part of the song ad nauseum.

How can anyone possibly stand to put that song on in their CD player? The album consumer has no choice, but to throw out the album.

It's not that I'm a big Seger fan. I picked him out because his problem is very widespread. I could say the same thing about Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life," or a local Chicago radio-plague, BTO's "Let it Ride." Additional offenders are Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Ramones, James "I Feel Good" Brown, and too many others. I'm not blaming them necessarily - who couldn't use the money?

What should be done? Have them write 30 seconds of original music. It's done all the time. All music for commercials should be original jingles. I, for one, am a big fan of the "Save Big Money at Menards" song. Great bluegrass jam. The "Empire" jingle is an a cappella classic. And I love the "Fanta" song ("Wanna Fanta").

- [ Tuesday, March 16, 2004 ] -
My Jewish Blogroll
These blogs are written by/about Jews, mostly. I happen to like Jews and have a vested interest in them.

Blog in Dm rocks. But in a Jewish way. The Hassidic Musician is an anonymous, Orthodox Jew who is a musician on the NYC simcha circuit. This guy has got some strong, controversial opinions and they're all correct. He is very articulate and nails each one of his points home. Highly recommended if you're at all interested in Jewish music. Especially if you don't like Jewish music.

Update (3/20/04): Due to views too far outside the tolerance of this blog (waaaaay too anti-Israel for me.), Jew*School has been removed from the blogroll. I'm sorry to see you go.

Israelly Cool is an Israeli blog written by an Australian expatriate. There is far too much third party scripting on his site and it makes it take forever to load. Aside from that, he is an excellent pundit on news and politics.
Update (4/5/04): Now, it's an excellent site with less clutter and it loads just fine.

Live Journal is kind of a blogging community. It's a network of personal journals and community bulletin boards. The only reason I'm there is to check out the WeirdJews community. It's just like it says. A lot of weird Jews. The assembled Jews are from all walks of Judaism, from Orthodox to vampires. I'll post comments there from time to time.

MO Chassid is a zealous Modern Orthodox man who has some good rants. The world was first introduced to him a week ago by the Hassidic Musician. He likes to point out what's wrong with everybody else and what they should be doing. But somehow, I love to read his stuff. We also happen to be in the middle of an inter-blog discussion. MO-C, you bastard, you rock.

This Normal Life is a blog of neat, little stories about living a family life in Israel. He doesn't post that often. But all his work is quality. He is also published in legitimate Jewish publications.

Protocols is a team-blog out of NYC by a bunch of YU/ex-YU guys. It's kind of an uber-blog in the Orthodox blogosphere. The guy who posts about 90% of it, is Steven I. Weiss. General Jewish news, and infotainment. A guaranteed solid daily read.

The Shaigetz is a really funny, insider view of real Chassidic life in NY. I just read a post where he explains their secret hat code.

Allison Kaplan Sommer, an Israeli housewife, is the author of An Unsealed Room, which was nominated for a 2004 Bloggy. Commentary on living beyond Israeli politics.

The Yada Blog is a Jewish gossip column that basically introduces links with headlines. Most of it ends up in a column for the online magazine, JewsWeek. It reads like the teaser for a Jewish version of Access Hollywood.

YUTopia is written by Rabbi Josh Yuter. He is a Jew living in Chicago, yet I've never met him. He is studying for an advanced degree at U of C and lives far away in Hyde Park. His posts are very intellectual and he has an excellent guitar tablature library for Jewish Music.

Update (5/19/04): An updated version of this is published here.

MO-C: bourbon hata
In response to MO-C's response to my response to his response to my post about a BangItOut list:

"As to the bourbon rather than scotch, I have one word: nebech."

I have tasted plenty of the finest single-malt scotches and I even know a thing or two about them. It's almost impossible to be involved in any kind of shul and not be exposed to it. I like them very much.

I have also tasted some fine bourbons. For you, MO-C, I have the following poem, taken from the Mr. Boston, Official Bartender's and Party Guide.
Some like wines-both white and red
And some like brews from grain.
Some like Scotch and Irish
And plenty choose champagne.

Rum by many is preferred
And brandy makes its boast.
The Dutch and English like their gin
And ale goes well with roast.

Requests for rye in eastern states
Quite frequently are heard;
And the hill folk of the southlands
Make corn a favorite word.

But to folks throughout the nation-
Both rural folks and urban,
The king of distillations
Is the whiskey known as Bourbon.

My Buddy Blogroll
These blogs are written by friends of mine. So I am partial to them whether they have value to you or not.

Cara of Cara's World writes about the mundane nonsense that affects her life. She is smart and witty and notices many minor irritants in the world. I was considering starting my blog for a few weeks, and when I found out she was preserving her nonsense for posterity, there was no reason for me not to start my own.

Chicago WW is a topical blog, written by my wife. It's her online journal she uses to organize her thoughts about the difficulty of losing the last ten pounds towards her goal weight. She worked very hard to lose 45 pounds in the last year, and I am very proud of her. Feel free to visit and leave encouraging comments.

Yaakov Cohen of Cohen Head is a blog close to my heart. Yaakov was a big part of my scene here in Lakeview, always the life of the party. He is a refreshing, dynamic Yid that livens up any situation with his energy. One day, he decided to pick up an move to Israel (Yasher Koach!). He wrote to his ever growing e-mail list with constant updates on his aliyah progress. Many people were probably thinking it, but I went ahead and set up a blog for him. I still tend it today and correct most of the spelling and some of the grammar.

I'm sure Merlin's Blog will be a fine blog once it gets rolling. It's a team-blog based in NYC with multiple authors. The topics are usually about the dating scene in Manhattan, barfing, and Chicago nostalgia. I went to grade school and high school with Dr. Merlin, and he is very smart and funny. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the time to post regularly and his fellow contributors could use a little guidance in writing and in the technical aspects of operating a blog. Two of the other contributors, Jay and Darrell, are also good friends of mine from way back when. Additionally, there are two other contributors, friends of Merlin from NYC, who have introduced themselves to me as complete assholes. Check out the comments and see how this blog develops.

Well, well, well...if it isn't Sklaro World. He doesn't necessarily right to good, but he gets angry very easily and has some valid points. Semi-anonymous blogger and close friend of mine.

Superfly-Shabadoo, or Dino, as I like to call him, is almost a year old and already has a blog with posts about throwing things and boogers.

Total anarchy continues at Merlin's Blog. Now disgruntled, suspended blogger, Darrell, started his very own hefkerblog, Freedom's Blog where anyone but Merlin is welcome to ask him for a blogging membership.

MO Chassid, valid opinion holder
My most recent post generated a lengthy mussar shmooze/comment on MO Chassid's blog, to which I'd like to respond. His blogging style is very heavy-handed, but his opinions are usually poignant.
Update: MO-C, bourbon hata

- [ Friday, March 12, 2004 ] -
Ouch! BangItOut strikes a little too close to home.
BangItOut, a Jewish humor website centered on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, hits a little too close to home this week.
Top Ten Signs You are a Closet Alcoholic on Shabbos

10. To enhance mitzvah of Kiddush, you replace your shot glass with a Super Big Gulp glass.
9. Suddenly found yourself in the yeshivish clique after three weeks of consistently slurring your English words.
8. Two words: Flask Yomi
7. At the annual "Get rid of your Chametz" party, you bring a keg .
6. You told the rabbi his speech was "bitchin'."
5. You've gotten all ready for shul when suddenly realized, it's Wednesday.
4. When you wish people good shabbos, they tell you they don't have any change on them.
3. You found yourself in line for shul candy man hoping to score some breath mints.
2. You have no clue what a haftorah is.
1. It is the real reason you don't drive to synagogue.
A little background: I happen to be a member of at least one kiddush club at my shul. I used to be a member of three, before the shul board "got their panties in a bunch." They banned kiddush clubs, outright. There were town hall meetings, closed door meetings, etc. I'm not going to go into the whole story, but this was the shuls final edict:
On March 10, 2003, the Board passed the following Resolution:

It is the strong sense and belief of [shul name] and [shul rabbi's name] that the meeting of any Kiddush Club (an unofficial gathering on shul premises at which alcohol is served or consumed during services) is not good or desirable, that the meeting of any such Kiddush Club disrupts shul services, that the meeting of any Kiddush is inappropriate in that it occurs during services, and that the meeting of any such Kiddush Club is strongly discouraged. [shul name] and [shul rabbi's name] ask that people refrain from participating in any such Kiddush Club."
So I took that to mean that kiddush clubs are in fact, legal. I would like to note that they used the strongest language possible, without actually banning them. What's mildly interesting is that in all the meetings, the Rabbi was actually not against kiddush clubs. He was really railroaded into putting his name on this. But that's what the people want. The Board has spoken.

Anyway, I would like to sum up my feelings about both the shul's attitude, the Top Ten list, and my conscience.

I have never been a shul person. I like to sleep late. I daven fast and get distracted easily while waiting for the chazan. I like to talk to my neighbors. A lot of services leave me uninspired. It has to do with me, the chazan, the congregation and the Rabbi. I've been inspired by services many times before--a couple times, at my current shul. That is my own thing, and I'm trying to figure out what to do to make shul more meaningful to me.

The one thing I have been able to give back, is ruach (spirit) at Kiddush (ceremonial snack and drink buffet after services). Within the last few years, I have always tried to imbue whatever table I ate at on Shabbos with z'mirot (songs). There was one time, a couple months ago, that my wife and I had no plans for lunch, because we knew there would be the right kind of food there to make it our official meal. There were enough of my friends there that had the proper spirit, so we sang. Now we've stretched that ruach so we can sing at kiddush, every week. My point is, if (when) I drink on Shabbos, I like to keep it in the spirit of Shabbos. I know that my z'mirot are appreciated at the shul kiddush, even though my kiddush club activities might not be.

A lot of people (especially squares) like to talk about the bad things about alcohol. It's very dangerous, and many people have difficulty controlling themselves. That is all true. It obviously needs to be controlled. It is also fun. And whether people want to admit it, or not, alcohol also lends itself to singing and dancing. And a lot of times, that's good.

Update: MO Chassid, valid opinion holder

- [ Thursday, March 11, 2004 ] -
Report on my Purim concerts:
I can't really tell you what it was like to attend the shows, but I can tell you what it was like to play them. And I can also tell you what it's like to ask the people who attended what they thought of it and then to empathize with them.

I remember Saturday night as being three great sets. I have no regrets of not recording them. This way, they will always be remembered as great with no evidence otherwise.

I do have a confession to make. I intentionally took "performance-enhancing drugs." So did most of the party.

Eliyahu Hanavi (Moshav Band)
Aveenu Malkeinu (Alter Rebbe)
Mishenichnas/V'Nahafoch medley (with controversial lyrics)
I am a Jew

This was our group's second concert. We were all very psyched to play. Being that this show started very early, we all had to rush from Shabbos to our various megillah readings to the show. And we had to start drinking as soon as possible.

We had timing issues that screwed up our first song. But we tried it again, Shneur got it right and the song came out adequate. We got loosened up a little for Aveenu Malkeinu. (lechayim, Yidden!) I thought it was a little stiff, but I noticed people that caught what it was. And with the exception of Rabbi Nathan, everyone was digging it. (He didn't hate it, he just thought it needed more work.)

We sang the standard Mishenichnas/V'Nahafoch and then switched to the 1/2 speed version that mimics "Pick a Bail of Cotton." We did it the first time with the standard, "mishenichnas" lyrics. Then we threw in the "Whooah...shikur is the ikur...whooah...have another shot...whooah...liquor does it quicker...whooah...have another shot." We have not received any flack about it, and I think at the time, Rabbi Klein, himself was encouraging drinking as well.

So at least people were dancing around now. We sang our flagship song, "I am a Jew," and blew everyone away. Well, not really, but people developed a taste for Farbrengiton and wanted more. I know the version on the website sucks. That was from our first gig. But you get the idea and see how it can be catchy.

We refilled our whiskey cups and continued veitur! We played most of our usual repertoire. And we really got the room cooking. The highlight of this set, I think, was the Chiddush song, Purim Song. There is a version of this song on the Ra'ashan and Chiddush websites. We really worked ourselves up this set, and by the time we were ready to leave, the main attraction was ready to beat everybody into submission.

even sh'siyah
I couldn't even tell you the set list, I was having my own trouble keeping my "Boruch Mordechais" and "Arrur Hamans" straight. I know there was plenty of hippy-dancing. I also know that our new ska version of Carlebach's "Simcha Le'Artzecha" went over very well. And I also kept the crowd jumping by leading our cover of "Give It Away" with alternate lyrics (I'll see about posting them here).

All in all, an excellent Purim evening.

- [ Wednesday, March 10, 2004 ] -
Baliwood Velvel

From time to time, I will post things that may be old news to some of yous. But now that I have a venue, some interesting posts will be about things in the distant past.

This is an interesting phone-camera-picture taken in front of Golden Video, on California and Devon. What really blows me away is that he's also wearing the same hat.

(For those who don't know me, here's a hint to the madness that is that photo. I'm the guy on the right, and that poster is in some kind of Arabic or Urdu writing.)

- [ Monday, March 08, 2004 ] -
Ra'ashan MP3s
The Ra'ashan MP3s from last night's HotHouse show are up.

"Veitur" means "Furthur," and other thoughts on Purim
* The destination placard of our 15 seat Seuda-Van, A.K.A. "The Veitur Bus":

It's an in-joke for all those who are familiar with Ken Kesey's Merry Prankster bus and also speak a little Yiddish.

* Two quotes of the day which made a lot more sense in context:
"Next year, we need benchers and pudding."

"I am veitur."

* There is a fine line between good ruach and sloppy drunk. On Purim, it's usually around 5 pm.

- [ Sunday, March 07, 2004 ] -
Matthew Saltzman Clip
Hello Matt,
Thanks for sending the link! Glad to see you're enjoying the blog. Also, thank you, Gersh for posting/hosting the video. It's hysterical.

Everybody else, to see Matt on the Jamie Kennedy Experiment, you can click here.

Ad d...
Ad d'lo yada...

- [ Friday, March 05, 2004 ] -
I saw an accident tonight.
On my way home from practice tonight, on Lake Shore Drive, between Wilson and Montrose, I saw an accident scene. It must have been somewhere between 30 seconds and five minutes after the fact. It was raining very hard and there were very few cars on the road. I saw the cars that were ahead of me, way in the distance, put on their brakes and slowed down. As I approached, it looked like a big, dark mass sitting in a cloud of mist. I saw brake lights in the mass but no headlights. As I passed, I could see it was a dark SUV that had it's whole front end smashed in. Both front tires were out and the bumper was swinging way off to the side. There was debris on the left two lanes (lucky I was cruising the lane all the way on the right). And as I pulled away, I could see the SUV in my mirror, cutting slowly across the Drive to the right side to get off the road. I was glad my exit was next.

Sue ruined another episode of Survivor
Note: For Survivor fans only.
I never liked Sue. She was simple minded, rude and most importantly, annoying to watch. She got herself all worked up over something stupid, and she ruined this week's episode by quitting. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's out. I just wish they wouldn't have wasted an entire episode with Sue's personal drama. Screw you, Sue. You made everyone else, on both tribes, very happy. But this week's episode was pointless.

Update: I hate Sue even more. After all the bitching, she didn't even sue anybody. Thanks for throwing a hissy-fit in the middle of prime time. I hope you regretted your decision as much as we all did.

Matthew Saltzman X-ed
Matthew Saltzman was on the Jamie Kennedy Experiment (a hidden camera prank show) last night. I have to find a copy of it, because I missed the beginning. From what I saw, it looked really funny. But it was so weird to see Matthew, my chanich, on TV, interacting with a celebrity who was acting. Matt's a funny guy as it is, but they had him talking to dolphins and the dolphins talking back. What a world.

- [ Wednesday, March 03, 2004 ] -
Dick Schwartz, the Veggy King
In JewSchool, mobius posted the following link: 11 reasons why Purim is a vegetarian holiday

I have nothing against vegetarians. There are many good arguments for being vegetarian. I'm not debating that. It's just this guy's dumb article. According to his logic (using the term extremely loosely) most of these "connections" actually go to show why Purim has nothing to do with vegetarianism. Except by his amazing use of the words, "in contrast," he manages to tack on his pro-vegetarian factoids.
2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" ... In contrast to these acts of sharing and compassion, animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70 percent of the grain in the United States to animals, while an estimate 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually.
So what's the deal? Why am I writing about this? I followed the links in his article and came up with his AOL address. So of course, I tried to engage him in an AIM discussion. Here it is! (Note: My AIM name is changed. You wouldn't want random googlers IMing you throughout the day and hassling you, would you?)

[velvel]: I just read your article about 11 reasons why Purim is a veggy holiday
RSchw12345: what did you think re it?
[velvel]: only #1 was a real association.
[velvel]: did you write it for morons?
[velvel]: the rest of it is cramming your agenda into unrelated and repetative points about Purim
RSchw12345: No, it is designed to get people to think more deeply re our diets. isn't the bigger problem that so many have a diet that endangers their lives and the planet and mistreats so many animals, etc.
[velvel]: that's fine. but it doesn't really have anything to do with Purim.
RSchw12345: Fortunately, I have received positive responses as well to my articles.
[velvel]: by your reasoning, every holiday would be a veggy holiday
RSchw12345: Why not?
Please see my article, "what Diet Does G-d Prefer for Humans?" at JewishVeg.com/schwartz
[velvel]: why did G-d have Noah bring 7 of every kosher animal on the ark?
RSchw12345: If vegetarianism wasn't being ignored by the Jewish establishment, I wouldn't have to write such articles.
[velvel]: it's not about Purim
[velvel]: you have to bridge the gap with some kind of logic
[velvel]: you're missing a few steps
[velvel]: I agree with you somewhat. Veggies=good. good health, good planet, no cruelty
[velvel]: but relating it to Purim makes no sense
RSchw12345: Sorry, no time to debate you now. If you are willing to engage in a public debate perhaps on a radio program, or can get any rabbi to do so, please let me know.
Thanks, and shalom,
You got your wish, Dick. Now, the debate is public.

- [ Tuesday, March 02, 2004 ] -
Farbrengiton tunes
So now you have your chance to hear us, without the inconvenience of getting up from your computer.

I just put one song on the Farbrengiton web site. It is the first song we ever played live on February 7th, our only performance so far.

As a reminder, Farbrengiton is opening for Ra'ashan who is opening for evën sh'siyah on Purim. It's going to be a wild show.