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

- [ Friday, April 30, 2004 ] -
Spring Forward L'Chayim Advisory
Last week was the first huge Shabbat dinner that my wife and I have hosted in a long time (I'd have to say it was she that cooked everything and all the food was VERY VERY AWESOME). We happened to invite the party crowd this week and there was some drinking. But we made sure to raise the mundane to a level of holiness and there were plenty of z'mirot and excellent ruach.

The next morning, almost everybody was late (later than usual) to shul. A lot of people were feeling the effects of the previous night more than usual. I got a few complaints.

We are blessed with a marvelous group of friends and on there can be lively Shabbat dinners more often than not. We are no strangers to waking up a little groggy. So why did everybody feel so much worse than usual?

The answer is changing the clocks.

The night is always getting shorter this time of year. In addition, when we changed the clocks, morning arrives one hour earlier. This was the first one that we did after the time change.

Less night = less sleep. Less sleep = less recovery time.

So people, let's recall this lesson next year and be prepared. Start earlier, and drink more cautiously as the hour gets later. And as usual, drink plenty of water.

- [ Thursday, April 29, 2004 ] -
Jew York Rock II
Hassidisco, AKA Jew York Rock, AKA Boro Park Rock, AKA Crown Heights Rock, AKA Shiny Shoe Music, is slick, over-produced pop music that is engineered to sell to the masses.

One could argue about the kedusha (holiness) that goes into making of this music. Arguing intentions is very difficult. Only G-d can know the inspirations of a person's soul. The one thing we know for sure is that the words are holy. Aside from the words, the only difference between that and secular pop is the demographic of the consumer.

Most of the world, no matter what race, religion or country, will buy the first kind of music that is pushed on them through advertising. Maybe they trust ads on TV or buses. Maybe they trust ads in their shul bulletins. That's pop. Pop culture and pop music. It's guaranteed to be consumable, but not guaranteed to be quality. The better things get filtered through time, but the world as a whole, likes crap and will consume what they are fed.

Please find people who immerse themselves in music and culture and ask for guidance. Find someone whose taste you find unusual, but pleasant. You can learn about lots of music by asking for recommendations. Return to that person and tell them what you liked and what you didn't. You will get more recommendations. Repeat until you find good music.

I'm not saying there's no merit to pop. I enjoy my share. But pop is the equivalent to mac'n'cheese, pizza and hot dogs. As we get older, our tastes evolve, not to the exclusion of the children's menu, but just to include more sophisticated tastes. You can sustain yourself on the children's menu, but there is so much more out there.

Jew York Rock
There has been some hullabaloo about some Jewish musical terminology which may be offensive to people who aren't directly involved in the music scene.

On some sheet music, in the area where it's noted what the beat is (eg - "disco"), I have seen a label "Crown Heights Rock" actually printed on the sheet. We all know exactly what that means.

Maybe Heimish is offended, but the fact is in the JM industry, this is a common nomenclature. And I would venture to say, that although they may be different neighborhoods, "Crown Heights Rock" and "Boro Park Rock" mean the same thing. I feel comfortable using either term, although I enjoy using "Hassidisco," a term I learned from BlogInDm.

Maybe the residents of Boro Park or Crown Heights don't actually make the music, but as far as I know, it's widely enjoyed there.

I can certainly say that I think Disco sucks just as easily as I can say that "Boro Park Rock" sucks.

- [ Wednesday, April 28, 2004 ] -
The bassist has arrived
I would like to welcome Neer Spinner to Farbrengiton.

We had practice tonight and it was friggin' awesome. What a match.

The original qualities we were looking for in a bassist were being moderately competent and moderately interested. Neer happens to be very competent. I need a few more practices to determine if he has amazing chops, but I suspect that he may. And you could not ask for more interest in playing with this band. For reasons unknown, he is very interested.

Now we are ready to rock out.

- [ Tuesday, April 27, 2004 ] -
Mo'adim Lesimha Legeulah Sheleima
(Thanks to YUTopia for text of the proper greeting)

I would like to wish all the Jews a happy Independence Day.

This message is for all Jews, including those who may not like the current State of Israel:All the Jews want is to live in peace. A lot of us don't even care where. But we cannot count on any nation to defend us. During every stage of our history, we have been targets of hate. I can't think of any other nation that has been kicked out of as many countries as we have. I can't think of any other nation that has been the target of genocide as many times as we have. There are a lot of countries today where we are not welcome.

There are still a few countries where we are welcome. Right now, the United States may appear very hospitable. But as we also know from history, things can change. We were very welcome in Germany before the Holocaust. We were welcome in ancient Egypt before we were enslaved and had our male children thrown into the Nile.

The State of Israel, as a country with our own army, is the best thing to ever happen to the Jews. We can always count on having a place of refuge, our homeland, the Land that was promised to us about 3800 years ago.

G-d bless the State of Israel, and its people.
As long as deep in the heart,
The soul of a Jew yearns,
And forward to the East
To Zion, an eye looks
Our hope will not be lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
-Hatikva, "The Hope"
The Israeli National Anthem
(Translation courtesy of The Israel Science and Technology Directory)

- [ Wednesday, April 21, 2004 ] -
Upcoming Jewish Rock Concert
The hard-working people at Kfar have given the Jews of Chicago another chance to rock out.

The Piamenta Band
The Moshe Skier Band
Lag B'Omer
Saturday Nite, May 8, 2004 - 9:30 pm
The Note, 1565 N Milwaukee Ave
(Wicker Park - Milwaukee, North and Damen)

I've been hearing some amazing things on the (legal) bootlegs of recent Piamenta shows.

And I know that you are going to see a great live performance out of The Moshe Skier Band.

If you are going to be in Chicago for Lag B'Omer, and you like to rock, do yourself and the Chicago Jewish Rock scene a favor and see this show.

- [ Monday, April 19, 2004 ] -
Good Timing
As is usually the case, when I mess up some kind of performance, I have had the Carlebach "Shifchi KaMayim" stuck in my head since yesterday. And I know the whole thing.

- [ Saturday, April 17, 2004 ] -
How does that go, again?
I neglected my own rules this afternoon.

My wife, somehow, managed to trick me into waking up from my afternoon nap before Shabbos was over and brought me to shul for se'udah shlishit. I haven't been to shul in the afternoon for a long time. As much as this displeased me at the time, she makes me a better person and I thank her for that.

After the usual word from our sponsor and small D'var Torah, we all sang the first two usual z'mirot, (Mizmor L'David) Hashem Ro'i Lo Echsor and Yedid Nefesh. Towards the end of Yedid Nefesh, the Rabbi came up to me and asked me in a very non-committal way to start another song when it ends. "You know, if you want, you can start whatever song you want after this one." I was very flattered by this opportunity, and pleased that the Rabbi wanted to encourage ruach at this point, even if it was late enough that we could have skipped it and gone right into bentching. He's a fairly musical person himself, and enjoys it when I push the ruach of the shul a little veitur.

I was feeling a little pressure for what should have been a no-brainer. Pick a slow song from the back of the bentcher and start singing. Now here is where my rule comes in. The rule is: If you are going to lead the congregation in a song that may not be their normal fare, only use a tune that you feel comfortable singing in its entirety by yourself. Do not depend on members of the congregation to join in.

I picked the slow Carlebach tune, Shifchi KaMayim, and I did not know it as well as I thought I did. The tune did not come to me. I tried in vain to sing it for a few painful minutes, while some brave souls occasionally tried to help me. I'm sure there were a few people there who would be able to sing along on this simple melody, myself included, if there was only one capable person who both knew the melody and could carry a tune. Being familiar with the melody is not knowing it.

Another caveat: the second part (also called "the high part") of a Jewish song is usually catchy. The first part might not be. You have to get through the first part to get to the second part. Make sure you know both parts.

It was a very forgiving atmosphere. In that spirit, I apologize to everyone who was there and vow to have three solid tunes in my pocket next time I show up for se'udah shlishit.

- [ Thursday, April 15, 2004 ] -
Mazal Tov!
My brother and sister-in-law just had a baby girl yesterday! For those keeping score, it's now boy, girl, boy, girl (b'li ayin hora).

Female readers may be interested to know that she came into this world weighing 7 lbs, 7 oz and was 19 inches long. Male readers won't be as interested.

UPDATE: Her name is Michal Mindel. Mindel was my father's mother's (zt"l) name. The obvious bad nickname here is Micky Minnie. I didn't make it up. I heard it from my mother.

- [ Wednesday, April 14, 2004 ] -
Ringing Blog Endorsement
Apparently, I'm "more Orthodox" than Ari Davidow at Klezmershack. Read all about it in the article entitled, "Right Wing Orthodox Jewish Rocker has interesting blog."

- [ Thursday, April 08, 2004 ] -
Liven Up Your Next Seder
Here's an idea to liven up your next seder:

When someone opens the door to let Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah, the prophet) in, arrange to have someone actually come in.

For both seders this year, my wife and I ate by my parents. Their next door neighbors (and mine, while growing up), the S family, hosted their extended family (about 30 in total) over for seder #2. Earlier in the day, ES, the mother of the S household, discussed an idea with my brother, A, of someone coming into their house when the door is opened for Eliyahu.

Now A is all over this. He is so into scaring the crap out of people. He started getting antsy during the meal, and we were all watching our neighbors to try and see through their windows, trying to estimate what course of seder they were up to. He invented an excuse for something to borrow and went over during Shulchan Orech (the meal portion of the order) to arrange a signal with E.

While deciding what A should wear, we ruled out my father's Santa hat and beard because we didn't want to offend a non-Jew which we knew was seated at their table. It ended up being a "Scream" mask/hood with a kittel while being barefoot.

When A got the shades signal, we all went to the back porch to watch as A crouched at the bottom of their back steps.

S cousin, AS, opened the door, saw A and said, "ohmyG-d!" and jumped back. Then A ran into the house, around their seder tables, making the same noise as the bad-guy in a rubber mask on Scooby-Doo and tackled easy target and good sport, MS. Everyone was laughing. We could hear it from outside. The two youngest kids, both pretty close to 5 years old, ran away screaming, but then came back when A's mask was ripped off.

I'm pretty sure this had nothing to do with Pesach, but it was pretty funny to catch some people off-guard during the second, and the often-lesser, seder.

Open Your Soul to the Noise of Steve Lieberman
If you really want to listen to bleeding edge Jewish music (I don't know anyone who does), see if you're hip enough to understand Steve Lieberman. I hope you are. If not, OPEN YOUR MINDS, PEOPLE! It may hurt, at first, but it gets better.

G-d bless him and everyone else who tries to bring a little bit of G-d to this world.

- [ Monday, April 05, 2004 ] -
New e"s Lead Gonger
My shver (father-in-law) was in South Korea a couple weeks ago on business. He went to a street market in Seoul and bought me a gong. It's awesome! (picture and sound file coming soon) Perfect for those songs requiring a gong. With enough practice, I'm sure to reach the level of gong-virtuosity in no time. Look forward to many evën sh'siyah gong solos!

(gong, gong, gong)

Slow Blogging
Blogging has been a little slow due to the wonderful world of doing Pesach at home for the first time as a married couple. Who knew you could kasher your kitchen? Apparently, it's possible to be kosher for Pesach without eating all your meals at your parents' house. Now I feel just like a grown-up.

- [ Friday, April 02, 2004 ] -
Dumb Quiz Friday
Apparently, it's dumb quiz Friday again. Prodly started it, and I have decided to jump on the bandwagon so you can know me a little better.

Not really a "personality quiz," I took the "How Grammatically Sound are You?" quiz. I am very proud to announce that I am a...
Grammar God!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla