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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

[Hannah]: I Don't Need a Bath, Just a New Shirt.

For a long time, if an individual smelt, that meant he was strong and prosperous, as many proverbs testify. Plague was combated with the mustiness of night soil, dungheaps at the door did not inconvenience anyone and showed how well-off a household was... People feared losing their strength in bathwater if they washed too much, and babies grew all the better if they had a thick crust of dirt on their heads. Taking warm baths was linked to lasciviousness.... To conclude, the French, associating a strong smell with good health, kept up a long-lasting collective distrust regarding all ablutions...

Two great movements are observable ... between the seventeenth century and the nineteenth. On the one hand, the civilisation of manners gradually imposed on everyone some new constraints in bodily habits. On the other, the consumption of water remained stable for a long time, whereas that of linen increased in line with the standards of the new propriety.

- Daniel Roche, A History of Everyday Things

Call your congress people right now to support the DREAM Act! It's time! Right now!

support the dream act
The DREAM Act is coming up for a vote perhaps this week. If it doesn't pass now, how will it possibly pass after the changing of the guard? I know a lot of great kids who came to America when they were very young. They want to grow up and go to college and become wonderful members of our society. They want to be nurses, teachers, they want to serve in the armed forces. Why would our country not want these kids, their gifts and energy, enriching our communities?

I called my Congressman David Price: 202-225-1784 and our senators, Hagan 202-224-6342 and Burr (202) 224-3154. You can call ANY congressperson and they will give you the phone numbers for your own congress folks and the calls just take a minute.

Each year, about 65,000 U.S.-raised students who would qualify for the DREAM Act graduate from high school. These include honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists, homecoming queens, and aspiring teachers, doctors, and U.S. soldiers. They are young people who have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives and desire only to call this country their home. Even though they were brought to the U.S. years ago as children, they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the United States, and often live in constant fear of detection by immigration authorities.

Our immigration laws currently have no mechanism to consider the special equities and circumstances of such students. The DREAM Act would eliminate this flaw. It is un-American to indefinitely and irremediably punish immigrant youth for decisions made by adults many years ago. By enacting the DREAM Act, Congress would legally recognize what is de facto true: these young people belong here. DREAM Act students should be allowed to get on with their lives.

If Congress fails to act this year, another entire class of outstanding, law-abiding high school students will graduate without being able to plan for the future, and some will be removed from their homes to countries they barely know. This tragedy will cause America to lose a vital asset: an educated class of promising immigrant students who have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and a strong desire to be contributing members of our society.

Let's bring these students out of the shadows, out from underground. Tell President Obama and Congress to pass the DREAM Act in 2010. Talented students and their families living in fear of raids and ripped apart by deportations, cannot afford to wait for change.

And from
Give me the DREAM Act in the lame duck session, says Obama

After a year of unfulfilled hopes and promises of immigration reform, it might finally be time for dreams to come true. Delivering on the promise he made during his hard-fought re-election campaign, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid announced on Wednesday that he will bring the DREAM Act up for vote (as a stand-alone measure) during the final days of the 111th Congress.

While this is not the first time that Sen. Reid has made such an commitment, this time the announcement comes with the added backing of President Obama. Obama has always been a supporter of the DREAM Act, but has never publicly or actively worked on pushing for it to be passed. This is why it came as a surprise when he told Democrats on Tuesday that he wanted the DREAM Act passed during the lame duck session of Congress

Passage of the DREAM Act is achievable right now. With the White House, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and every Democratic Leader in the House and Senate pulling in the same direction, we can pass the DREAM Act before the end of the 111th Congress.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jethro the donkey does breakfast yoga

donkey concentrating on breakfast 
Doesn't anybody remember May Sarton's book "The Fur Person," in which her cat does "cat yoga" - concentrating all its energies so that somebody will come by and open the door. Well? Every morning when we wake up, Jethro is staring through the window concentrating his forces on the first person standing. Breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast.

But note that Superman the miniature horse has the opposite approach. He is concentrating on the back fence hoping a hole will appear in it and he can escape and eat the neighbor's back lawns.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What the poor state of American manufactury has reduced me to.

This is how to fix a toaster when the catch doesn't work any more.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

"I Can't Complain (But Sometimes I Still Do) got a huge review in the Yiddish Forward!!

Yiddish review by Itzik Gottesman of Jane Peppler's cd I Can't ComplainMy Yiddish teacher, Sheva Zucker, gave me this copy of Itsik Gottesman's review of the cd Aviva Enoch and I just made. He is editor of the Jewish Forverts.

Yiddish songs cd by Jane Peppler & Aviva Enoch, I Can't ComplainHere's what he wrote:

From the town of Chapel Hill in the state of North Carolina we have received a cd of Yiddish songs with the charming name, "I Can't Complain - but sometimes I still do" (Ikh darf zikh nisht baklogn, ober baklog zikh fundestvegn). Jane Peppler sings and plays fiddle and Aviva Enoch plays piano. Chapel Hill is more known as the home of the University of North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina is a center of traditional American music - but it's no longer a surprise to hear a Yiddish word from there. It's been taught for years at the university, and the annual "Charlotte Yiddish Institute" has become an important undertaking in the Yiddish culture calendar.

Jane Peppler began to sing Yiddish songs in 1979. She directed the Triangle Jewish Chorale for 14 years. Before that, she participated in the Slavic chorus at Yale University and also played violin in the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Yale School of Music. She is interested in folk music from around the world and is now a musician in "Mappamundi," a group which plays international folk music.

Peppler studies Yiddish with Dr. Sheva Zucker and has already translated a number of stories and Jacob Dineson's classic novel "Yosele." She learned some of the songs on the compact disc at KlezKamp, which takes place in the Catskill Mountains every December, in the Vocal Master Classes with the teachers Zalmen Mlotek and Adrienne Cooper.

The recording's greatest virtues are the selection of songs and the well-tailored folkish arrangements. We liked that the duo presented songs from various genres: songs which are rarely sung and even more rarely recorded. But information about the songs, lyricists and composers is lacking in the recording's liner notes, and even on the website.

This is the first time we have heard the songs "Zing, Brider, Zing" (Sing, brothers, sing) and "Birobidzhan." The melody for "Birobidzhan" is utterly beautiful and the piano and fiddle twine in and out, creating a noble spirit. The usual songs about Birobidzhan are faster and more jolly, but this song, full of hope for tomorrow, has a completely different sentiment.

Itsik Fefer's song "Di Elter" (Old Age) was also new to us - we knew it only with the melody Chava Alberstein created and recorded with the Klezmatics on the recording "The Well."

Peppler composed a fine original melody for the folk song "Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl" (I Have a Coat) and added a new verse to the song "Gris, Bagris" (Greet, greet) which Lazar Veyner and Leybush Lerer created for Camp Boyberik in the 1920s. She learned the song from Zalmen Mlotek at KlezKamp. Another original composition is "Hilda's Waltz" by the pianist Aviva Enoch - it's the only instrumental piece on the compact disc.

They learned "Don un Donye" (verses by H. Royzenblat, music by Mikhl Gelbart) from the songbook "Pearls of Yiddish Song" by Hannah and Yosl Mlotek. Jane Peppler clearly loves folksongs or art songs like "Don un Donye" which have a folklike character. The duo doesn't, however, avoid theater songs - like Molly Picon's "A Bisl Libe" (A Little Love) by Josef Rumshinski, which comes from the theater production "Tsipke" of 1924. The Milkin Archive contains the song in its collection, sung by a singer with a strong voice and an orchestral accompaniment. Peppler's simpler version also has charm.

The comic folksong "Fraytig oyf der nakht" (Friday night) was very popular in the "old country" and it's a pleasure to hear it with Enokh's piano accompaniment. Peppler's voice rushes a bit too quickly here; her voice is not strong or trained enough for this tempo. It would be better sung more slowly and sweetly. In "Harbstlid" by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, she sings with heart, but also too quickly.

On the other hand, when one hears the prayer "Got fun Avrom", sung without accompaniment, and "Bobenyu," in which she sings more slowly, one feels clearly that the singer doesn't strain and she sings these songs as they should be sung.

The recording concludes with the theater song "Glik" (Luck), Fefer and Yampolski's "Yidishe Khasene" (Jewish wedding), and a Hebrew song, "Ta-am Haman."

Jane Peppler and Aviva Enoch have worked carefully on their arrangements, and the two musicians capably present the songs. One wants to hear them again.

Since the majority of compact discs these days emphasize klezmer music, and not Yiddish songs, it's wonderful to hear a recording like this, which expresses such love of the Yiddish word and song.

Click here to go to the Skylark Productions site and buy the album.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

[Hannah]: philosophy?

Found by a friend on a male dorm room wall at Yale. Who knew graffiti by college-age men could be so domestic?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

[Hannah]: everyone gets defensive

"To the Soure Reader"

If thou dislik'st the Piece thou light'st on first;
Thinke that of All, that I have writ, the worst:
But if thou read'st my Book unto the end,
And still do'st this, and that verse, reprehend:
O Perverse man! If All disgustfull be,
The Extreame Scabbe take thee, and thine, for me.

-Robert Herrick, Hesperides, quoted in Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book.

Monday, November 01, 2010

[Hannah]: the Federalist

"Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency planning it."

- Alexander Hamilton