PRATIE PLACE

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Recipe: cranberry muffins

I developed this recipe from a blueberry muffin recipe. I dealt with the problem that cranberries take so long to cook - and also, that they're a little gross when they pop in your mouth - by chopping them up.

Cranberry muffins (makes a dozen)

1-1/2 cups cranberries chopped in a food processor or blender with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Don't pulverize them, just get them in littler pieces.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons oil or unsalted melted butter
3 more tablespoons of sugar

Stir dry ingredients and the chopped cranberries together. In another bowl beat the egg, add the milk and butter. Stir all together and drop into the muffin tins. Cook at 425 degrees about 12 minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A nerdy problem (only Yiddish enthusiasts should take note)

I have a lot of paperback books for sale at Amazon's Createspace, and in general it's a great resource for authors and readers alike.

But what a problem I have with my Yiddish titles! They don't allow Hebrew characters in the titles or descriptions (if I try, it comes out gobbledygook)

That makes the books hard for people to search for.

For instance, take one of my favorite Yiddish books, by Mendele Moykher Sforim (whose name is spelled at wikipedia Mendele Mocher Sforim and as brittania.com says:
Mendele Moykher Sforim, Moykher also spelled Mokher or Mocher, Sforim also spelled Seforim or Sefarim, pseudonym of Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh

So when you can't even figure out how to spell the author's name, that's a problem.

The name of this beloved book, which I put out as a paperback with larger print than you can otherwise get it, is in Yiddish (or rather, Hebrew)

מסועת בנימין השלישי

It means The Travels of Benjamin III but it's often translated The Brief Travels of Benjamin the Third

And that is variously transliterated as Masoes Binyamin Hashlishi or Masoes Benyomen Hashlishi or even Masoes Benyumen Hashlishi

If you don't guess right, you don't find the book.

Anyway, since blogger at least will allow me to use Hebrew letters, I'm leaving this post here to help people who're looking for a new, well-bound copy of this book. You can get it by clicking here:

$8.00

Masoes Benyomen Hashlishi by Mendele Mocher Sforim

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thoughts on Election 2016

The human race does not deserve this planet. The squirrels, rats, and cockroaches will inherit it and do a better job than we do.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"What's Not to Like?" - a Yiddish songfest in Durham NC November 6 2016

Many years ago Gary Berman decided to throw a benefit concert for Urban Ministries of Durham: he worked for months preparing a fabulous selection of Yiddish songs arranged for quite a few local singers plus piano and string trio (including viola da gamba).

Gary and Beth Berman have now been doing this concert annually for a long time. World renowned Yiddishist Sheva Zucker is Master of Ceremonies. It's a great cause and if you're local I hope you'll attend. Advance tickets are $15 and now you can buy them in advance via paypal, click here:



(You can also get them in advance by contacting Gary and Beth at YiddishSongFest@aol.com)

This year the theme is "Work." I'll be singing three songs. Everybody's song lyrics, translated, will be up on the wall so you'll be able to enjoy them all even if you've never heard of Yiddish before!

Concert is 3 pm on Sunday, November 6, 2016, at Beth El Synagogue (1004 Watts Street, Durham NC 27701). Contact the Bermans at 919-682-7468 for more information.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In which talisman maker Rabbi Azulai fails his customer, Dragan Janjić

Update September 2016: Six years after I first posted this article, I have been contacted by Rabbi Azulai AGAIN. This time he is asking me to remove the quotes from his website. Reluctantly I am complying.

Update July 2013: There has been a firestorm of blog comments on this post. It started with a dissatisfied customer, Dragan, whose first response to me I incorporated into this blog post (see below). The rabbi or his assistant wrote to ask me to remove Dragan's complaint (that the amulet did not work), as it was bad for his business.

In subsequent months and years Dragan wrote me several more times, with additional complaints. Evidently the rabbi had convinced him that the failure of the first amulet was due to Dragan's not having spent enough money. So Dragon bought more amulets, but they didn't work either.

So Dragan wanted his money back but was refused. Then, in 2013, he got a refund from Rabbi Azulai in exchange for removing his comments from this post.

Also in 2013 several anonymous "I am thrilled with the magical efficacy of the rabbi's amulets" types of comments were posted. Then I heard from the rabbi's assistant, and finally supposedly from the rabbi himself who wrote: "Recently, I have been asked by several of my clients about this post and whether the talismans actually work. I plan on sending an email to my clients asking them to share their experiences on your blog so people can have access to a variety of testimonials."

I decided I would not be a mouthpiece for poor gullible Dragan nor for the rabbi and his assistant. This post is closed for comments. You will have to look on Yelp or elsewhere if you want to figure out whether it is worth your money to buy a magical talisman.

This all started when in March of 2009 Google served me an ad from kabalatalisman.com and I posted quotes from the rabbi's website on my blog. Imagine, a guy that old knowing how to use Google AdWords!

Last week a dissatisfied Azulai customer, Dragan Janjić, posted a complaint about the $360 he paid the Rabbi for failed talismans. I feel he should be heard. So if you already know all about Reb Azulai and his talismans, scroll down to read the piteous tale of his customer Dragan.

Since Rabbi Azulai has asked me to remove all quotes from his website, I paraphrase:

Rabbi Azulai converts the negative energy from the curse laid upon you into energy full of love and purity. He claims his "healing method" is profound. He discovers the patterns which cause imbalance and efficiently releases them from your very core.


Reb Azulai and a talismanThe rabbi says he is in possession of mystic powers. For instance, he connects with "the world of truth". According to him, he has a unique gift awarded to very few.

With purchases from the rabbi you will, he states, be "activated" with an innate ability to generate wholeness, wellness and balance. You will achieve your soul's mission and achieve contentment, joy, and fulfillment.


magical Jewish talisman rune symbols


Rabbi Azulai incribes his amulets by hand with special kosher ink on deerskin. Upon the parchment he writes "virtues and Solomon signatories" with the power to bring success in all arenas: the rabbi avers he can not only elevate you spiritually but also procure for you excellent health and he can cure barrenness. His amulet will bring you a sweetheart and "ultimately anything you may ask for." He can heal your marriage and protect you from the evil eye. His talisman, he avers, will protect you from poverty and improve your personality, your charisma, and your self confidence.

He warns you may be a victim of black magic and voodoo; he can protect you from such sabotage of your happiness. Without his professional help, if voodoo dolls have been put into play your life can be damaged in a matter of seconds.

After 30 years of practice, the Rabbi claims, he can make you a talisman holding all the secrets of the Kabbalah and other holy works which "track the source of evil from the voodoo religion."

On Rabbi Azulai's website is a story about someone who was getting sicker and sicker. The Rabbi said an evil eye curse had been upon him for a long time. Rabbi Azulai made a talisman and asked the fellow to bring a glass of water. The Rabbi dipped the talisman into the glass and told the man to drink the water. Ever since, the Rabbi avers, the man has been healthy and successful.

Here is the response posted by Dragan Janjić, an employee of Radio & Television in Montenegro, on my original Rabbi Azulai post. Moshe is, evidently, the rabbi's assistant.

Moshe, unfortunately, the time confirmed my doubts about the success of Rabbi's talisman.

My position in Radio and Television of Montenegro is becoming increasingly difficult. Mobbing managers above me are left to receptionists and physical security of radio and television that we often make it impossible to enter and exit the buildings making up the formal obstacles.

The Administration does not issue me an electronic card that I was forcefully abducted just before I was illegally fired 2008.

The Administration does not issue me an electronic card with which an employee enters and exits the building Radio and Television by me forcibly abducted from the same security agents shortly before I was illegally fired 2008th.

In vain I sought to be appealed to the competent inspection ...

So, after months of wearing your talisman I perceive only the deterioration of my living and working conditions.

At the beginning of our communication, I warned you that the $300 is the big money for local conditions in Montenegro! Do not even talk about the two prayers of the $30 with no results!

I have hopes in knowledge and talent of Rabbi David Azulai…

Sincerely disappointed,
D. J.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Thoughts on the recording process and something being good enough (vs not being there at all)

A musician friend (a virtual friend, actually, I've never met her in real life) was torturing herself on Facebook about getting her current recording project finished. She wrote:
 I need to ask: does everyone else - ANYone else - get overwhelmed with this process? I get lost even with taking notes about which take to use and how much. Then I change my mind the next day! 
I left her this comment, which kind of distills my current view of recording in general and my own current work in particular:
 
"I am a queen of pushing things through the chute. I've put more than 200 mostly unknown Yiddish songs on youtube, songs that I learned the same day I recorded them. Are they great? No. Do they stink? No. Am I glad they're there? Yes. I think the key is to be realistic and abandon vanity. You know how some people say "there is never a good picture of me" - it's because they have an idealized vision of how they should look, or how they looked at one golden moment on one golden day and they're dissatisfied they don't look that way all the time. It's the same with recording. If you wait until it's perfect, you'll be waiting a long time ... 

"Be happy with who you are and how your ensemble sounds, and remember your recording is a slice of life that's happening right now, it is not a one-time distillation of your life's work. Good luck! Bring somebody else to the studio with you, someone who is less invested, and listen to  their opinions and advice."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

T-shirt: "Fate of the cigarette fiend" from Merch by Amazon

Click the picture to visit the shirt at Amazon (only $14.99) - below, see the image itself in a larger size. I love it, it's from an engraving by John Held Jr. around 1921.

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Gimpel Beynish, famous Jewish matchmaker of the Lower East Side in the early 1900s, on t-shirts

One of my recent projects has been to clean up, translate, and publish the daily Yiddish comic strip called "Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker," which was illustrated by Samuel Zagat. His wife wrote a book about him in which she wrote that he never copyrighted any of his work. You can visit the blog I made for Gimpel, who was an irrepressible, grouchy, incompetent, curious, delightful fellow who was wildly popular on the Bowery back in the day: GimpelBeynish.com and there are two books of his comics which I've published.

I cast about for ways to increase Gimpel's fame in the modern era. Maybe t-shirts? Click on either of these pictures to visit the tshirts at "Merch by Amazon," only $14.99...

I'm trying out some Gimpel t-shirts on Amazon. Click to go have a look. Just $14.99 for a fine Jewish t-shirt experience! I'm wondering if I should add his name in Yiddish below the picture. 




Here is the other t-shirt design I'm trying out. Click the picture to go visit the tshirt in several colors. Just $14.99.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Unique concert of Yiddish music in Durham NC on March 5, 2016

Hi friends, mark your calendars, this is going to be a one-time-ever event!

Roger Lynn Spears and Jane Peppler (me) are doing a 45-minute set of very funny music from the turn of the twentieth century (in Yiddish but with subtitles on the wall so you get all the jokes). These are my favorite songs from the Morris Rund American Yiddish Penny Songs collection.

Then a famous singer all the way from Ukraine, Zhenya Lopatnik (she has an AMAZING sultry voice) is doing a 45-minute set of traditional Yiddish song and her own great compositions. We're projecting her subtitles too.

Please come! Tickets at the door $10 doors open at 7:30 pm that night, Saturday March 5.
At the JCC 1937 West Cornwallis Road, Durham, NC (long driveway, second to last building, on right, plenty of parking.

Click for a larger view:

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Hanukkah concert at the Carrboro ArtsCenter, December 13 2015, 4:30 pm

I think this is the fourth year Mappamundi and friends are presenting a Hannukah concert at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Joining us this year is Roger Lynn Spears on piano. We'll be doing music from our Cabaret Warsaw cd, from Mrs Maccabee's Kitchen (which features new funny lyrics set to folk tunes, ragtime and blues, tangos, swing tunes, even a lonesome cowboy ballad), and some new things altogether. We project all the words as subtitles on the wall so you don't miss any of the jokes.


We're doing the show in the afternoon so you can have time for other Chanukah shows on the same day!

Tickets are $10 at the door or $7 in advance from CabaretWarsaw.com.

For more information contact me at jane@mappamundi.com.


You can also click on picture below to order tickets:


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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Aggressive church name incites violence.

"Go ahead, just do it! You know you want to!"

This Cast the First Stone Ministry is in a strip mall across from the Iredell County Fairground.

Dixie Draft Horse Mule and Carriage Auction November 2015

Yesterday I went to the Iredell County Fairground to the big auction that happens twice a year. Here are some pictures I took.





This vendor of Confederate flags and paraphernalia had a "Going Out For Business" sale. Did he mean "Going Out Of Business" or was it a clever play on words?









This was the loudest animal at the auction, an adorable big orange spotted mule. She'd open her mouth wide, twist it into ridiculous shapes, and let out a long, deafening honk.













First you stand in a long line to get your buyer's number. These folks were blisteringly fast.

















This year there was far less of the "gigantic rusty farm equipment" I love and a lot more of these decorative mushrooms, elves, Sambos, etc.









These guys sat in the same place for a couple hours at least.













This man raises dogs of the kind he has tucked in his jacket here.


My favorite auctioneer, and the only woman.





























You can't see the tiny American bulldog in the lap of this kid with the orange hat. There were so many puppies being sold all around the fairgrounds, and some given away. In fact I was tempted to pick one up myself. Notice Buddha in this picture.

















The old dude gazing down at what the auctioneer called a "rebel bench" won the auction.





























An exhausted family. Many of the Mennonites came down from Pennsylvania and were selling everything from carriages and horses to fried pies.


































This donkey is anatomically correct.




I bought this excavator for my grandson.


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