Thursday, September 27, 2007

iDaven, uDaven, we-all-Daven for... oh boy.

Wow. WOW! Wow. Check out the iDaven for iPod. This is for real, my friendschaverim.
With iDaven, there's no need to carry a spare Siddur with you for those Mincha moments – just open your iPod and pray! No need to search your purse for a bentcher – you've got your iPod! Sitting in the plane, Tefilat HaDerech is a breeze - read it on your iPod!
I love it.

It wouldn't be as fantastic as the ChaiPod except that that's a spoof; this is a Real Product for Real Jews! Awesome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oh, the irony!

You may have noticed, depending on what browser you use, when you were last here, if ever, and how observant you are, that this blog has a little helicopter as its "favicon", ever since last week. I was reading someone else's blog that I like and noticed that her favicon wasn't the usual white-B-on-orange-background icon of every other Blogger page and it was instantly clear that if she could change hers, then I had to change mine. So I googled to find some code and the right place to stick it and viewed the page source of a couple of good pages that used favicons, because that's how you learn things about html and xml, by mooching, and I tried for a very short time to design my own icon and gave up on that pretty quickly, and then just decided I'd find one that I liked and steal it. Because that's how you do things on the web, by mooching.

What's so ironic about stealing a helicopter favicon? The page I stole it from is about favicons. Really - here's the post from

Monday, September 24, 2007


Hey, you know that old Fandango trailer, the one from the Land Before Paper Bag Puppets, the one where the guy is trying to weasel his way into a sold-out movie with such clever lines as "I work for Mr. Fandango" and "There's a wild Fandango loose, in the theater. Rraaahh!" ? You know that one?

I want that one.

It's from 2001 or something, so it's not on youtube. What, something exists which isn't on youtube? Well, here's hoping one of you is a better googler than me or whatever, because I WANT THAT TRAILER.

And I've wanted it for a long time. Witness, if you will, the following email exchange, and note the dates on it. Impressive, no?

A query!
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 14:03:12 -0500
From: <RDB's work address, back in the day>
Subject: there's a wild fandango loose... in the theater

Hello. This is a ridiculous message but...
We LOVE the fandango commercial. Is it anywhere on the web that we can download it? We LOVE it. It's ridiculous. All day long.. "rah!". Please can you post the commercial somewhere that we can get it, or send it to me, or something?
thank you.
A reply!
Subject: RE: there's a wild fandango loose... in the theater
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 15:06:21 -0800
From: "SL" <**>

My name is SL and I'm with Thanks for the positive feedback. I'm glad to hear that you like our Mr. Fandango commercial. We actually get quite a few similar requests to post this commercial on our web site for our customers to view.

Unfortunately, we do not have the rights to distribute this commercial digitally. When commercials, tv shows, and films are created, many people involved in the creation of the content reserve the right to determine how the content can be distributed. In this way, actors, directors, etc. ensure that they are fairly compensated for their work and ultimately have more control of how their work is used. We were only given the rights to distribute the commercial for viewing in theaters.

Thanks again for your interest and be on the lookout for a new Fandango commercial.


You have to like this woman for replying at all, even if the message was a little condescending, but you have to LOVE her for closing with ...rah!

So: can you find it for me? You win my undying love and gratitude.

(Yes, I realize that the people who'd be willing to go through any serious effort to find this for me are the same people who already have my undying love and gratitude. So what they get is... um... Coldstone's, my treat? A comparable reward, I think.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

"If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

I have just (and I mean just) read A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut. I found it accidentally today in a used book store (which bookstore I also found accidentally today) and brought it home and then sat down and read it. And loved it. And having just finished it and closed it and glanced at the back (I almost never do this before reading a book, only afterward) I see now that the New York Times Book Review says that reading it is "like sitting down on the couch for a long chat with an old friend."

I'd have to agree.

I'm not even the biggest Vonnegut-head; it's not that I liked it because I am crazy about every book he ever wrote, though I know there are many people out there that do feel that way. It's actually been quite a long while since I read one of his novels.

Anyway, it's a very quick easy read, in the sense that it doesn't have a lot of pages and the printing is very big, plus there are illustrations and Vonnegut doesn't use a lot of long words. But it's good, and I guess what "good" means to me in this context is that it gave me a lot of things to think about and caused me to jump up out of my chair once or twice, and I sure love that feeling.

It's the Eve of Yom Kippur, often said to be the holiest day of the year in Judaism. (I may even go to temple tonight, on my own, for services, something that hasn't happened in... oh, ever.)
Therefore, the quotation I'll give you tonight from KV is religious in nature, sort of:
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break! (p98)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

But it's different from just anything meta...

I love all the egg salads you guys put in the comments. Awesome! Keep going!
I encountered a new one today myself:
When you buy stamps online, the post office charges you shipping. Yes indeed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Egg Salad: a game

So my friends and I used to play a game we called "Egg Salad", and here's how it goes: you try to find things that are new things but are really just combinations of one item and another form of that same item. What is egg salad? It is eggs plus mayonnaise. What is mayonnaise? Eggs! So egg salad is eggs + eggs.

Other basic food examples are things like cucumber salad, which is usually cucumber (and yogurt) sauce on cucumbers. Or ice cream with whipped cream on top. Buttered croissant? Or... well, I can't think of many right now, but you can, and you'll tell them to me in comments.

Anyway, the game got extended to include metaphorical or more figurative things. One of my all-time favorites was this: my ex-boyfriend came running to tell me that he got dental floss stuck between his teeth.

In 2004, I wrote him email to explain that I had just washed my drying rack for dishes. Now that it's clean but wet, I asked, what do I do with it?

He tried karaoke once, in an egg salad kind of way: the song he sang was by Milli Vanilli. (This is kind of reverse-egg salad. It should have been lip-synching, not karaoke, right?)

McSweeney's once had a pretty good one: Thumb

I'm mentioning this now because I just bought a bag of chip clips, you know, those little plastic clips that you use to hold plastic bags of potato chips and the like closed. I think you see where I'm going with this... I used a chip clip to close up a bag of chip clips:

(See how much fun this can be? Get this meme in your head and it will occur to you at extremely odd moments... which you then immediately need to tell me about.)

Look at that! I post this post and then am wasting time reading some new blog I happened on today that I like and the guy has a PERFECT example of egg salad, a really nice one. He has a task to do, a (in his words) "Herculean task". He needs to throw away a garbage can. Oh, the beauty of good egg salad.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Go. To. Bed.         Now.

Seriously? Am I seriously up this late AGAIN for no reason? Ok, am I seriously up this late again reading everything Lore Sjöberg's ever written? I mean, it's not like he's new to me, I was all over Brunching Shuttlecocks way back when. I already *know* Lore Brand Comics, folks, this isn't news. Why am I still awake? Oh, he has six other sites? Great. And I need to read this "Bad Gods" one for sixty zillion hours? Great. For example: The Battle for the Feminist Bookstore

In unrelated news:

Madeleine L'Engle has died. Sigh.

Also, here's more from The New Yorker: Has a remote Amazonian tribe upended our understanding of language? Is Pirahã "a 'severe counterexample' to the theory of universal grammar"? And how funny is the bit about how they enjoyed watching "King Kong"?

Tip of the hat to Philip Greenspun's blog for the link.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Los Angeles, I'm yours.

So, I haven't lived in Los Angeles for even three years yet, but I think I've done pretty well at getting around and doing all the famous LA *stuff*. Let's take an accounting, because Lord knows how much I love lists:

As of last week (thanks, Scot!), I've been to the Hollywood Bowl four times, and I even performed there once (in SummerSounds!). I have not yet been to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

I've seen one concert at the Kodak Theatre (Shlomo Artzi and Shalom Chanoch) and I'VE PERFORMED THERE YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (with Keshet Chaim, opening the show for the Idan Raichel Project concert.)

I've been to movies at the ArcLight (and Universal CityWalk), but not yet at the Chinese or the El Capitan or the Egyptian or the Silent Movie Theatre...

I've seen three shows at UCLA's Royce Hall, none of which I had to pay for. Twice I won tickets to dance performances (one FANTASTIC flamenco show and one pretty lame fusiony modern thing) from KPCC, and the third time my date had won the tickets on K-Mozart.

I saw Wicked at the Pantages, but so far I haven't been to the Ahmanson, the Ford, the Greek, the Mark Taper Forum or the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I *clearly* need to go to more shows. I have been to see the Groundlings.

I've been to Universal Studios, Disneyland, and twice to Magic Mountain. I feel comfortable not even bothering to put California Adventure on my list, from what I've heard. I have fantastic memories of Knott's Berry Farm from when I was a kid, but I haven't been there in over a decade. I've been to the Magic Castle!

I saw Michael Penn and Patton Oswalt at the Largo.

Hell, I was here for hardly a year before I ended up dancing on TV: WEEDS season two, episode six. The creator of the show wrote Israeli dancing into the episode because of me. If that's not a good I-moved-to-LA story, I don't know what is.

I've been to a Dodgers game and a Kings game. I went to a UCLA game at the Rose Bowl (but haven't been to the Tournament of Roses yet). Still to see: Clippers, Angels, Lakers... Galaxy? Sparks?

I've been to the Getty (actually, I did that once before moving here, but also once since. Dying to go to the Getty Villa in Malibu. I've been to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and I saw the Magritte exhibit at LACMA. Nearly went in to the La Brea Tar Pits, but then didn't. Haven't been to the Autry yet.

I've hiked in Griffith Park and Topanga Canyon, but not nearly enough. I haven't been to the Observatory yet, but I really want to go. Also have not been to the Watts Towers yet.

*I've* spent a day on Catalina; have you? I'VE RIDDEN THE SUBWAY! (Turns out it's not just an urban legend that we have one. Who knew?)

The most true proof that I live here now? I've been a member of Bodies in Motion, World Gym, Barry's Bootcamp, and now, 24 Hour Fitness. Sigh.

I love it here; I'm lonely here.
(And I clearly need to spend more time near CalTech, because MY INNER GEEK IS STARVING FOR COMPANY.)

(Seems only appropriate at this point to give a quick shout-out to MetroBlogging LA.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

I swear, Ira Flatow = Alan Alda. Listen to that voice!

I'm a little bit baffled by a segment on Science Friday this week. (God, what could be geekier than "Science Friday"? It's not just science-on-the-radio, it's you're-listening-to-the-radio-on-Friday-night-because-you-have-no-life. And you're listening to SCIENCE. Wow.)

Here's what the piece was about, according to the show's website:
"Ira talks with author Alan Weisman about what the world might be like if humans were suddenly to disappear from the planet. Would a human-free Earth be more environmentally friendly? Would a sudden removal of humans disrupt the planet's ecosystems still more? In his book The World Without Us (St. Martin's Press, 2007), Weisman says that in as little as two days without human intervention, the New York City subway system would be flooded -- and in as little as a year after a mass human disappearance, every nuclear power plant on Earth would have run out of coolant and failed or melted down. How long would it take the planet to heal itself after humans left?"

Now, this sounds mostly reasonable; certainly the bare question of "what happens to the Earth without us" is interesting and the answers seem to be interesting as well. What I don't totally don't understand are the judgments about how the planet would be "better off" without humans, or how the planet would "heal itself", implying we make it sick, or what "more environmentally friendly" from the above blurb can possibly mean.

I've actually wondered about this for decades, since I was in elementary school and there was a "Save the Earth" campaign. Now, I TOTALLY understand that people have a particular impact on the Earth and that we are and have been changing its temperature, rainfall, climate patterns, etc. I am not at all skeptical about global warming; I understand about the hole in the ozone layer; I understand about depleting resources and introducing all kinds of specific chemicals into the environment and cutting down trees and all of these things. ANNNNNNNNND I understand that what we are doing and have done is making the Earth less habitable for humans. WTF does that have to do with the absolute "health" of the planet?? It's clear that there's a particular balance of chemicals and water and temperatures that need to be present to make a planet hospitable to human beings and other life forms that we know and love, but who says that that balance is "good" for the planet? IT'S GOOD FOR US. THAT'S IT. Isn't it? What am I missing?

If "Save the Earth" is shorthand for "Save the Earth in its current state because we need it that way to live comfortably on it" then I accept that and have no beef. But. BUT! But what about this "would the planet heal itself", thing? There are other planets out there. They don't have the same climates as our planet. They're still *fine*, as far as they're concerned, aren't they? They're not inherently unstable or about to break apart or somehow "sick", are they? They just don't support human life. Let's say that if we were to continue polluting/depleting/etc exactly as we are now, in some number of years Earth will get hot and there won't be any water, and living things won't be supported, and let's say Earth becomes exactly like Mars. I know that's bad for US, but how is it bad for EARTH? WTF does Earth care?

"Would a human-free Earth be more environmentally friendly?"

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY TO WHOM?? If the message is something along the lines of "without humans, it would take x years to return to a state of perfectness for supporting humans", who gives a shit, on account of that whole WITHOUT HUMANS part?

I'm confused.

(But damn, I also learned from this show that the wild form of the regular old carrots we know and love is Queen Anne's Lace, a beautiful flower that I remember growing near my Grandmother's house in Queens. Carrots! Who knew?)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Jews live in the city; the Israelis live in the Valley.

Just saw the following on Simple To Remember and thought it was interesting (if a few years old):

Metropolitan Tel Aviv, with 2.5 million Jews, is the world's largest Jewish city. It is followed by New York, with 1.9 million, Haifa 655,000, Los Angeles 621,000, Jerusalem 570,000, and southeast Florida 514,000.

Which is to say, in RDB-centric terms, that outside of Israel, the world's three largest Jewish cities are NY, LA, and SE Florida. I have lived in four places in my life; those are three of them.

No you don't.

Does anyone actually throw spaghetti against a wall to see if it's done? I mean, *actually throw* it? Come on, now.

The definition of yo-yo dieting?

Have you ever heard of the Johnson Upday Downday Diet?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Hapworth 3, 2007

I've never really been a newspaper reader, a fact that has brought me varying levels of embarrassment over the years. Now that I listen to NPR for hours every day, I have no problem with my non-newspaper habits. I also have never subscribed to the New Yorker, although I spent many years living with various people who did, so I got to read it a lot. Now I subscribe to Harper's Magazine, and that's enough for me, thank you; it's monthly and it's dense, and if I attempted to read a weekly or a daily or probably even an additional monthly, I'd never read anything else. I much prefer to continue my book habit as it currently stands.

Anyway, so since I've never read any newspaper regularly, I've of course never read The New York Times regularly, though I've also lived with subscribers to that on and off for many years. For a while, I was very into the Sunday New York Times Magazine, and a lazy Sunday morning spent reading it. I used to joke that I didn't have to read the whole thing; the game was to find the inevitable reference to J D Salinger and then I could stop. Honestly, it was *always* there. Always. Once it was on the very last page, in the crossword puzzle, but it was there.

So, a friend of mine has read New York magazine for years, and every time I look at that one, I sort of sigh and wish that I read it (and that I still lived in New York). It seems to be just my flavor of humor and pseudo-intellectualness and snarkiness and artsiness and well, perhaps if I did live in NY, I'd subscribe. This friend visited me here in LA recently and left behind a few issues for me to read. I was just now finishing up one of them, having enjoyed it but still feeling relieved that I didn't have to do it every week. I felt a sense of total freedom to page very quickly through and past all the "this week in NY" listings, since a) it's from about two months ago and b) I'm not in NY... and then there it was: a call-out box entitled "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". Do *all* publications with NY in their names have to contain a Salinger reference?? Does this really happen every week in this one too? Do I get to play the game again with the other three issues she left me? Oh, the joy :)