mojosmom: (Default)
Our "mild" winter has disappeared with a vengeance, now that spring is just a few weeks away. We got about 10" of snow yesterday (yes, New Englanders, I know that's nothing compared to what you've been dealing with!). It started in the early morning and just kept snowing into the night. Both things I had planned for yesterday were cancelled by mutual agreement, as was an event for this morning. I did go out in the morning before things got really bad, just to pick up some produce, but other than that I stayed inside, warm and dry.

What was cancelled (well, postponed, really) today was some additional training for Robie House tours. There's a young adult book by Blue Balliett, The Wright 3, which involves mysterious goings on at Robie House, and the Trust does a special tour for kids based on the book. I'm going to do the training to give that tour as well as the regular one. I've given a couple of the regular tours already, and I am really enjoying it. One of the perks of doing this is that there is a lot of additional education available, seminars and lectures, etc.

We had one bad day last week, too, but not bad enough to stop me from going to the Art Institute for a talk about chocolate and the Mayan culture, accompanied by a couple of kinds of hot chocolate, finger sandwiches and cookies. Yum!

I tried to accomplish some stuff on Monday, but was stymied. My hair is growing out, so I decided to treat myself to some shampoo from The Body Shop. But when I got there, I discovered they're closed for renovations and won't re-open until next month! Then I went to the bank to transfer some funds for the deposit on housing for my trip to France, and they needed one bit of info I didn't have. So I couldn't do that, either. (I have the info now and will go back tomorrow.) I then went up to Gilda's Club, contending with the alternate transit routes, as the Brown Line train, which I usually take to and from downtown to the club, couldn't cross the river as the bridge is out for repairs. The CTA, however, had free shuttle buses running so it worked out, though on the way to the bus coming back, I was forced to walk past the Anti-Cruelty Society's windows and admire the kitties up for adoption.

Also for the France trip, I've decided to get some tutoring to brush up my French, which I haven't used to any extent in about 30 years! Ack! I start next week. I have a feeling that I'll be mixing up French and Italian.

Over the last couple of weeks, since my last post, there have been a lot of interesting cultural events. A big Picasso show just opened at the Art Institute, and I went to a lecture about that. Two days later, I was back at the AIOC for a curator's talk with Kara Walker, whose installation, Rise Up Ye Mighty Race!, also just opened.

In between, I went to hear Garry Wills talk about his latest book, Why Priests?, over at Seminary Co-op.

And opera! I got to go to a dress rehearsal for Lyric's production of Rigoletto, which I'm seeing tomorrow. (Fabulous soprano, not so fabulous tenor.) Also went to Die Meistersinger on Sunday, which was all around excellent. It's Wagner's bicentennial year, so the Symphony did a program of the prelude and Act II of Tristan und Isolde. Chicago Opera Theater just did a production of Philip Glass' The House of Usher, which I liked a lot. The director gave it a homoerotic slant that served the production well. In the midst of all this, it was time to renew Lyric and CSO for next year! Time does fly.

My older sister has gotten involved in a new art gallery in Cleveland, which will have its grand opening the first weekend in April, so I'm thinking of driving out for a few days for that.

It's a rather odd coincidence, but before the Pope announced his retirement, I had been reading a couple of papal-related books. Two were books on the Borgias, and it's been interesting to see how journalists doing their obligatory potted histories of the papacy have been uncritically repeating all the old unsubstantiated gossip. I also read the extremely odd Hadrian the Seventh, about a failed priest who is unexpectedly elected Pope, by the extremely odd Frederick William Rolfe (he liked to abbreviate his name as "Fr. Rolfe", so that people would think he was a priest, but, according to one book blurb, "his vices were considered spectacular, even in Venice, where he died.").

The Latke-Hamentashen debate finally happened. It's usually the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but there was a brouhaha at Hillel, which had always sponsored the debate in the past. The Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, took it over, so it was delayed until mid-February, close to Purim. That, however, did not help the hamentashen; as always, latkes won the popularity contest!

Y'know, if I updated more often, these posts wouldn't be so long.
mojosmom: (Oy vey!)
Last night, I attended the 63rd Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate at the University of Chicago. This time, however, there were protestors! As we waited to go inside, a woman approached us, asking us to sign a petition decrying the discrimination against other traditional Jewish foods, specifically: gefilte fish.
Give Me Fish or Give Me Death
Later, just before the start of the debate, she and her cohorts stormed the stage, aided and abetted by sign-carrying stooges in the audience.

But matters calmed down, and Daniel Libenson, Director of Hillel, again tried, and again failed, to use numerology to settle the age-old question, latkes or hamentashen? Due to the coincidence(?) that the debate fell on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, he, and other speakers, incorporated information and speculation about Darwin into his analysis. Interestingly, he showed that the 100th anniversary of the publication of that work actually fell on the bar mitzvah of the Latke-Hamentash debate! Astounding! Perhaps not. After all, the organizer of the centennial celebration at the University was also one of the founders of the debate, anthropologist Sol Tax. And one of the organizers of this year's reprise of that celebration, Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science and Medicine and a bunch of other academic titles, Robert Richards, was also a participant in tonight's debate. I smell a conspiracy.

Other speakers included Peggy Mason, a professor of Neurobiology, whose experiment to determine whether squirrels preferred latkes or hamentashen went sadly awry when she and her partner devoured the delicacies, rather than leave them out for the wildlife. Salikoko Mufwene, professor of Linguistics and member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, declared that linguistics was also unable to solve this issue. But the highlight of the evening was a stealth member of the Gefilte Fish Brigade, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, professor in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, who studies terrorism and political violence, clearly the man to ferret out a conspiracy if one exists. And ferret he did. You will, perhaps, realize from his name that he is a Sephardic Jew, and it seems that for many years he has harbored a deep resentment against the Ashkenazic domination of this annual event. He showed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the latke and hamentash forces, far from being rivals, were actually members of a conspiracy to prevent traditional Sephardic pastries from participation, and presented a Venn diagram showing that participants would favor such pastries over the Ashkenazic varieties!

As usual, a good time was had by all.

2009 Latke - Hamentashen Debate
mojosmom: (Oy vey!)
Last night, I attended the 63rd Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate at the University of Chicago. This time, however, there were protestors! As we waited to go inside, a woman approached us, asking us to sign a petition decrying the discrimination against other traditional Jewish foods, specifically: gefilte fish.
Give Me Fish or Give Me Death
Later, just before the start of the debate, she and her cohorts stormed the stage, aided and abetted by sign-carrying stooges in the audience.

But matters calmed down, and Daniel Libenson, Director of Hillel, again tried, and again failed, to use numerology to settle the age-old question, latkes or hamentashen? Due to the coincidence(?) that the debate fell on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, he, and other speakers, incorporated information and speculation about Darwin into his analysis. Interestingly, he showed that the 100th anniversary of the publication of that work actually fell on the bar mitzvah of the Latke-Hamentash debate! Astounding! Perhaps not. After all, the organizer of the centennial celebration at the University was also one of the founders of the debate, anthropologist Sol Tax. And one of the organizers of this year's reprise of that celebration, Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science and Medicine and a bunch of other academic titles, Robert Richards, was also a participant in tonight's debate. I smell a conspiracy.

Other speakers included Peggy Mason, a professor of Neurobiology, whose experiment to determine whether squirrels preferred latkes or hamentashen went sadly awry when she and her partner devoured the delicacies, rather than leave them out for the wildlife. Salikoko Mufwene, professor of Linguistics and member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, declared that linguistics was also unable to solve this issue. But the highlight of the evening was a stealth member of the Gefilte Fish Brigade, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, professor in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, who studies terrorism and political violence, clearly the man to ferret out a conspiracy if one exists. And ferret he did. You will, perhaps, realize from his name that he is a Sephardic Jew, and it seems that for many years he has harbored a deep resentment against the Ashkenazic domination of this annual event. He showed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the latke and hamentash forces, far from being rivals, were actually members of a conspiracy to prevent traditional Sephardic pastries from participation, and presented a Venn diagram showing that participants would favor such pastries over the Ashkenazic varieties!

As usual, a good time was had by all.

2009 Latke - Hamentashen Debate
mojosmom: (Theatre)
Two events at the U. of Chicago, one "meh", one lots of fun!

Let's get the "meh" out of the way first, Radio Macbeth, at Court Theatre, by SITI Company, adapted (i.e. chopped up into bits, it's only 90 minutes long) from Shakespeare. The conceit is that it's a group of actors, each in multiple roles, doing a radio version of the Scottish Play in an abandoned theatre. The problem is that it's not a straight out performance of Macbeth (actors flub their lines, get themselves coffee, etc.) nor is it a real radio play (there are mikes, but they're used only occasionally). As a result, it doesn't work on either level. The best moments were those that transcended the gimmick, specifically, the sleepwalking scene and parts of "double, double toil and trouble". The worst were those with actress Akiko Aizawa. I don't know whether she really has a heavy accent or if it was put on/exaggerated, but it was nearly impossible to understand her.

Now the fun:

2008 Latke-Hamentashen Debate

Of course, much was made of the recent election of a former Senior Lecturer at the Law School to a somewhat more prestigious job (and of the fact that he had latkes with his corned beef sandwich from Manny's). Daniel Libenson, Executive Director of Hillel, analyzed the question using gematria (Hebrew numerology) to determine the relationships of McCain and Obama to hamentashen and latkes. The distinguished panel of debaters, moderated by philosophy professor Ted Cohen, included Tom Ginsburg, a former colleague of the President-elect from the Law School (with disclaimer):
Legal Disclaimer;
Elizabeth J.L. Davenport, Dean of Rockefeller Chapel (who opined during her comments that the notorious statement in Leviticus "thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind" is actually advice from a lesbian to a lesbian); and Gary Tubb, of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, resplendent in scarlet turban to match his academic robes, who came to his answer through Sanskrit grammar. But the highlight of the evening was endocrinologist Roy E. Weiss, whose paper describing a study on the differing effects of the ingestion of latkes and hamentashen on the body's levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin had everyone in stitches. He then regaled us with "The Latke Song" (he claimed it was an old Yiddish folk song, but the tune was vaguely familiar from somewhere else):

Latkes hamentashen ex-pe ali docious
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious
If you eat enough of them your bowels will be precocious
Latkes hamentashen ex-pe ali docious.

Hamentash and latkes are really quite delicious
But we know that latkelehs are really more nutritious
Have a latke every day -- maybe two or more
Nisht geferlach ah bei gzunt, just take more Lipitor!

When I was just a lad of 2 or maybe even three
I was given latkes intravenously
And that is why until this day I sing this song with glee
Latkes are delicious mit a glassen tea.

Kreplach, kishke, cholent, Ptcha and brisket, too,
Are Jewish foods that just can't hold a candle to
My love for Latkes some may say is really very sick
That is why I eat them with lots of Prilosec.

By now you must all agree that Latkes are the winner
Eat them religiously in summer or in winter
I know that we all will say oh yes oh yes we can
A kosher endocrinologist can also be a ham.


And which Jewish delicacy won? You have to ask?

Potatoes for Change
mojosmom: (My House)
So I went to the 60th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate tonight. It began with a bit of a cappella singing from the Chicago Rhythm and Jews, followed by the panelists and moderator processing in full academic regalia. We learned, from a philosophy professor, that the Hebrew letter which represents the number 60 can, depending on how it's written, look like either a circle (latke) or a triangle (hamantash), thereby proving something or other. The psychiatry department then chimed in, discussing the Ur-myth of Esther, in which the chimps and the humans fought over her, the humans using a circular, discus-type weapon to defeat the triangular-weapon-wielding apes. The next speaker (another philosophy professor, citing Spinoza) argued that the whole debate was moot, that hamantashen don't exist! Really! Because triangles can't exist and as hamantashen are triangles, they can't exist. Q.E.D. But wait! The Dean of Rockefeller Chapel then showed that hamantashen are in the Bible and latkes aren't. Well, what does she know, she's a goy. Oh, dear. I guess the debate still hasn't solved anything. But it was great fun. I didn't stay for the latke-hamantash reception, because I hadn't had dinner, and that really didn't appeal as a meal, so I went to the Medici for steak frites.

Oh! I nearly forgot to say that, if there are any academics out there (Dr. Zugenia?), a new academic journal is about to be launched. It's working title is "The Journal of Latke and Hamantash Studies", and they're looking for papers! So if you are aching to publish your scholarly work on the question of the "superiority of latkes, hamantashen, or other Jewish holiday foods", now's your chance!

Autre stuff

When I got home, there was an SUV parked in my neighbor's spot in such a way as to prevent me from squeezing into mine. It didn't look familiar, but I thought they might have bought a new car (it happens), so I knocked on their door to ask them to move it. Rashid looked and said, "that's not our car". I knocked on the other neighbors' doors, but none admitted to the car or to having visitors. So I called the towing people. Naturally, a couple of minutes later, someone was out there moving the car. I figure somebody heard me and a neighbor talking. Why do people do this shit? If you have to park where you shouldn't, at least leave a note saying where you are. Would have served them right if they'd been towed.

I'm going back to the doctor tomorrow to see about this pain in my arm. I'd almost rather that it were constantly sore, rather than having sudden pain when I move it the wrong way. I get lulled into a false sense of security, if you know what I mean.

I need to go buy some booze for the open house. Fortunately, my liquor store delivers, so I won't need to strain my arm hauling a case of wine up three flights of stairs.

June 2017

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