Flurry

Man, busy, busy week. Hotmail is still giving me trouble, guys, so it’s probably easiest to get hold of me by phone.

Had a great time yesterday with mabfan and gnomi; we wandered through the Strand for a few hours and found this great kosher Moroccan restaurant a block from Union Square. Really amazing place, gotta go back there. Sad commentary on modern life, Union Square is near a bunch of student coffeehouses and the like, but I couldn’t think of a good one to go to. Mab asked if I knew where the nearest Starbucks was, and I rattled off four right away.

And I’ve been watching way too many movies with my new Blockbuster pass; saw Supersize Me, Spellbound, Saved, Paycheck, Bubba-ho-tep and Master and Commander this past weekend, and I’m still waiting for them to get Alias season three in before the new season starts. It would help to know what the hell is going on with the characters and all… sigh.

Story I’m working on is giving me trouble; I really like the characters and plot, but it’s not the best work I’ve ever done and I’m fairly sure it’s not of salable quality. Hard to keep working on something when it’s not up to your standards, but I’m trying to keep at it. I like the characters enough that I’d want to write more stories with them, but something’s just not coming together right. Grr. Maybe I should just switch gears and write something else for a little while, mull this one over a bit.

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Judah and Tamar

With the transit strike over, I’m spending the first night of Hannukah at home. Which meant hearing my bat mitzvah portion again for what I think might be the first time since my bat mitzvah. In high school, I rebelled and didn’t go to shul half the time, and in college, I burned out trying to create an inviting kabbalat shabbat every week single-handed, and reading Torah on shabbes mornings fell completely by the wayside. (If it wasn’t for the five people who showed up week after week, two of whom weren’t even Jewish, I would have thrown the towel in, but it was still hard being the one who has to set everything up, lead or solo every prayer, bring the candles and the grape juice and bake the challah, a one-woman show. And at the time, I didn’t know how to draw people into participating more.)

The last few years, I’ve been getting more and more into rediscovering private religious practice–praying shaharit and minhah, keeping kosher, doing a quiet kabbalat shabbat on my own–but I don’t have shabbes mornings free, and I haven’t found a synagogue or minyan I feel comfortable with for Friday night. I do feel the lack, but I don’t enjoy shul-hunting and I’ve pretty much avoided it altogether. (I may be too picky, or I may be seeking an excuse to veg out at the end of the work week. It just feels like the minyanim are all meat markets or closed cliques or gospel revivals. I miss the tunes from my childhood; everyone knows each other and no one makes eye contact with me, or worse, I wander into an older minyan where I feel like the token young person on display. Nothing feels like home.)

I love my parents’ local shul, though, and this was a great opportunity to reconnect with this part of my past, and it was really special getting an aliyah. But as the shul is on a triennial cycle, the only part they read was the part I didn’t have time to learn back then: Judah and Tamar. Which led me to wonder at Judah’s calling Tamar more righteous than himself, and to see the parshah in a new light. Tamar is trapped in an impossible situation, just like Judah and his brothers were, but when she takes matters into her own hands, she only risks her own safety and reputation, she doesn’t sacrifice anyone else. Tamar’s story acts as a foil. For the first time, it made sense that her story appears in the middle of Joseph’s, and the portion came together as a whole.

And to cap off the bat-mitzvah theme of the day, after shabbes we went to see Memoirs of a Geisha. The girl who plays Young Pumpkin just had her bat mitzvah at my parents’ shul, and it was great to see how packed the theater was, even on Christmas Eve. I really hope the movie does well.

Grosse Pointe

College reunion party this weekend, real glass-half-full sort of thing. The invites didn’t say anything about attire, and I figured, “Hey, it’s Bard,” so I wore jeans and a nice top, only to arrive at a black tie, members only club rented out for the night. Maybe three people from my age group were there, aside from that it was professors I didn’t know and aging alums in tuxes and crinoline. (The one professor I had taken a single class with didn’t remember me until I said, “I was the one who tortured you with science fiction you didn’t read!” Then it all came back;) And whoever heard of a stuffy members only club without wheelchair access? One would think that’s where it’s needed most! So John had a hard time getting in.

But on the other hand, it was $5 for a chance to spend three hours hanging out with Susan and John and eat yummy hors doeuvres. And hey, saw Ninja, too, and Ninja had a two year old in tow! (Yes, I know someone named Ninja.)

Got absolutely no work done on any of the stories I’m working on, grrr, but saw House of Flying Daggers with Teresa. It was good, not as good as Hero. Chinese cinema should stay away from love stories, IMO; it’s not what they do best. They’re good at how one individual’s choices affect society, but they’re not so good at emotional landscape for its own sake.

And hey, Gargoyles Season 1 arrived! Good stuff. I’d forgotten just how good and how dark the show was, and the backgrounds were illustrated in Japan, which means such an accurate depiction of New York that you can tell when they’re at the Cloisters or which part of Central Park they’re landing in before they mention it. The character animation, though, was a little weird; it’s clear that they were still figuring out character design for episodes 1-6. Faces look different from frame to frame, and the shading is odd. But after that they really get their game on, and the body movement is really fluid, something I miss when I see children’s cartoons these days. And my favorite lost ep was there, the gun control ep. I never understood why Disney censored something that might actually have done some good.

And now back to the insanity of the work week!