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Shavuot and parenthood, then and now May. 29th, 2017 @ 04:21 am
[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by rbarenblat@gmail.com (Velveteen Rabbi)

When I think of my last Shavuot of rabbinical school, all I can remember are glimpses. Like the slide shows that I remember my parents used to project on the dining room wall. Most of my memories of my son's first year of life are like that. They're a punctive story told through images. He didn't sleep through the night until he was well over a year old, so my memories of that first year are spotty. The visuals are points on a line that don't quite add up to a whole.

When I try to call up the slideshow of those Shavuot memories, I see the square of light that used to shine when the carousel was first turned on, and then I see disconnected moments. Click: trying to get my kid to sleep in the portacrib in the closet area of my room at Isabella Freedman. Click: walking with the stroller in the middle of the night to the great hall, because if my kid wasn't going to sleep, then by God I wasn't going to miss Reb Zalman's 4am teaching.

Click: pushing the stroller in circles around the back of that room while I listened to the rebbe teach. He taught about the Torah of our mothers. Click: morning davening, singing in harmony with beloved friends. (Have I ever known a more fervent form of prayer than singing in harmony?) Click: morning davening, leaving the room so I could nurse my son in private on the other side of the wall. Nursing him while still immersed in the sounds of the community singing.

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My son and me: Shavuot, Isabella Freedman, 2010.

My son was six months old then. We had survived colic and postpartum depression. Sleep was still hard to come by. When I went to Isabella Freedman for Shavuot that year, I packed the "bouncy seat," the little inclined chair that played music and vibrated gently. I carried it with me. On the second morning of Shavuot I parked him in that seat so I could try to daven my way wholly through shacharit for the first time since he was born. It was harder than I expected.

By the following Shavuot, I was ordained and in the process of negotiating for what would become my first rabbinic position, serving Congregation Beth Israel, where I still serve. In coming years I would occasionally send congregants to Isabella Freedman to hear Reb Zalman teach, but I didn't feel able to go myself. I didn't return to the Shavuot retreat experience until last year, when I took a delegation from my congregation with me. (This year I will do the same.)

The year I took my infant son to Shavuot at Isabella Freedman, I knew that I would someday tell him that over the first Shavuot of his life I took him to hear my rebbe teach, and to receive a blessing from the teacher of my teachers. I wish I could remember the blessing that Reb Zalman gave him. I was still so sleep-deprived that my brain wasn't forming longterm memories, and I didn't know then that if I didn't write it down immediately it would become lost to me.

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My son and me, a few days ago.

I couldn't have imagined, then, what life would be like now. My son is seven and a half now: tall and lanky, funny and sweet. This past Shabbat we played Trivial Pursuit. The first question he drew was one about which day is considered the day of rest in Judaism, and he crowed with delight. He sings me songs, reads aloud, assembles his stuffed animals into elaborate families. (One is a family of stuffed kittens. The other features both Pokémon and giraffes.)

Parenthood has given me new ways to understand the idea that God is constantly revealing Torah. The Kotzker Rebbe taught that Shavuot is called the day of the receiving of the Torah, not the day of its giving, because God is always giving. Shavuot is when we notice the gift that we receive. Parenthood too is an adventure of always-receiving, though I'm not always mindful of the Torah that's coming through. I forget, lose track, and get caught up in ordinary life's minutiae.

And then every now and again I wake up again to the reminder that I can learn from the Torah of every human being I meet, including and especially the tall funny cuddly seven-year-old human being who is in my care and keeping. I'm grateful for what he teaches me about finding God in the presence of change. One of our tradition's names for God is Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, "I Am Becoming Who I Am Becoming." Parenthood is an amazing reminder that in change, we glimpse God.

 



A ‘Postmortem’ about the ‘Ghost Post’ May. 30th, 2017 @ 04:30 am
[syndicated profile] wondermark_feed

Posted by David Malki

About a year ago, reader Sara Thacher (of the above tweet), who works at Disney Imagineering R&D, contacted me for help on a Haunted Mansion-themed subscription box project called the “Ghost Post”.

It was a mystery, a sort of alternate reality game that involved people getting weird things in the mail and using them, plus interactive experiences in the park, to tell a story.

Here’s one of the mystery-solvers receiving and examining his first batch of “Ghost Post” artifacts:

(There are a bunch of unboxing and walkthrough videos of all three boxes on YouTube, for the curious.)

All the artifacts in each box — such as a reflective teacup; a papercraft “radio” with a magnetic dial that interacts with an app on your phone; a music box; Haunted Mansion tarot cards; a bunch of different things each month — were exquisitely designed by Sara and her team at Imagineering R&D.

And they have now won a Thea Award (stands for the Themed Entertainment Association) for the project as a whole, honoring their outstanding achievement! Congratulations to them all.

And to…me??????

All three Ghost Post boxes included an issue of the Grim Gazette, a newspaper for spooks that chronicled the unfolding mystery and offered clues. Sara tapped Cory Doctorow to provide the text for each issue, and had me put it all together with an old-timey design aesthetic.

I did the layout for the papers and created Wondermark-style illustrations and advertisements. (In the video above, the subscriber pulls out the newspaper at around 3:35.) Here’s another subscriber’s pictures of the contents of the first, second, and third box if you want to see more of the cool stuff!

I’m honored to have offered a small contribution to the whole project. Many kudos to the team at Imagineering R&D on a fantastic job, and thanks for thinking of me to be a part of it!



#1316; Home Among the Primitives (Part 4) May. 30th, 2017 @ 05:00 am
[syndicated profile] wondermark_feed

Posted by David Malki

when you look at the picture you can smell the farts. you can choose different farts, or vintage farts, or farts in a funny frame



This is a glorious photo May. 30th, 2017 @ 08:21 am
[personal profile] rydra_wong
TPM: Standing Beside Putin, Macron Blames RT, Sputnik For ‘Lying Propaganda’ (ignore the article -- unless it's of interest to you -- just check out the photo at the top)

Putin looks so suspicious of Macron's hand (not without reason), while Macron is all "PUT IT HERE PAL, I AM SO READY FOR THIS."

For background on this deeply serious issue (and close-ups of the Macron-Trump handshake), see:

The Guardian: The Trump handshake: how world leaders are fighting back

Round the world, I imagine national leaders sitting at their desks covertly squeezing Captains of Crush grippers.

Remember I asked who the BC Greens hated more? May. 29th, 2017 @ 05:23 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
B.C. Green Party agrees to support NDP in the legislature - British Columbia - CBC News

What about Chappaquiddick/her e-mails? May. 29th, 2017 @ 08:04 pm
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Via [personal profile] robynbender, via [twitter.com profile] kristoncapps:

This useful cheat-sheet provided by Art Buchwald in the LA Times in 1973

tag yourself I'm a "paranoid John Dean believer"

Some kind person needs to re-make this as a bingo card. I believe it will come in handy.

I'm an idiot May. 29th, 2017 @ 10:33 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Instead of just futilely bouncing ideas around in my head, I could just ask:

Does there exist a check list of tasks for establishing a small, one-day con?

Books Received, May 20 - 26 May. 29th, 2017 @ 09:53 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Books Received, May 20 - 26

New essay on Modah Ani May. 29th, 2017 @ 06:28 am
[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by rbarenblat@gmail.com (Velveteen Rabbi)

ModehAni_coverA while back I was solicited to contribute an essay to a volume on modeh / modah ani, the morning prayer of gratitude, edited by David Birnbaum and Martin S. Cohen, to be published by Mesorah Matrix. Longtime readers of this blog know that modah ani is one of my very favorite prayers; I said yes immediately! 

The volume is part of a ten-volume series from Mesorah Matrix, of which six books have thus far been published. I just received my contributor's copies, and wow, am I delighted.

I'm in some phenomenal company. Here are glimpses of some of the essays about which I'm most excited: 

David Ellenson wrote about Modeh Ani and the gifts of gratitude and awareness. Elliot Dorff wrote about how the prayer helps us awaken to the new day. Rebecca Sirbu wrote about how the prayer can have a personal impact on one's life. Aubrey Glazer wrote about the prayer in the context of Shoenberg and the Kotzker Rebbe. 

Dalia Marx offered a contemporary Israeli perspective on the prayer, juxtaposing it with Israeli pop songs. José Rolando Matalon wrote about it in the context of Odeh la-El, a sixteenth-century piyyut. Shulamit Thiede wrote about the prayer and gratitude for the presence of death. Orna Triguboff wrote about the nighttime journey of the soul. 

And I wrote about the prayer as a four-worlds tool for personal spiritual transformation. 

You can page through the book online at the Mesorah Matrix website if you are so inclined.

The volume is available on Amazon for $36 -- not cheap, but I think it's absolutely worth it: Modeh Ani: The Transcendent Power of Gratitude. Deep thanks to the editors for including my work!



Opening Crawl May. 29th, 2017 @ 04:00 am
[syndicated profile] xkcd_feed
Using a classic Timothy Zahn EU/Legends novel is bad enough, but at least the style and setting aren't too far off. If you really want to mess with people, try using Splinter of the Mind's Eye.

Reality continues to be too on-the-nose May. 29th, 2017 @ 10:13 am
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Manchester trauma surgeon racially abused on his way to work

Specifically: Yorkshire-born Naveed Yasin -- who had spent the previous two days doing extremely demanding surgery on victims of the Manchester attack, and was heading back into work to do more of the same -- was called a "terrorist" and told to "go back to [his] own country" (with assorted other racial slurs and obscenities, naturally).

Btw May. 29th, 2017 @ 08:28 am
[personal profile] rydra_wong
I am generally ignoring UK politics in favour of US politics because the latter is a fuck of a lot more entertaining right now.

However, this is happening:

The Independent: Conservatives slash election projections as Corbyn surge in polls continues
The Guardian: Tory nerves fray as Jeremy Corbyn narrows Theresa May’s lead in new poll

To be more accurate, I think it's not that Corbyn himself is doing anything spectacularly impressive but that May is fucking up spectacularly. And the Tories still have a solid lead.

(And obviously by this point, we know that polling seems to be broken even if nobody knows why.)

However, just avoiding a Tory landslide would mean a lot. And for the Tories to end up with a reduced majority (and May seen as a liability) would be magical and also hilarious.

(LET ME DREAM. I CAN STILL DREAM DAMMIT.)

not that Fig is a fussbudget May. 28th, 2017 @ 05:32 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But if he notices Ibid is sleeping with his tongue out, he tries to tuck it in.

The Reviewer, Reviewed May. 28th, 2017 @ 05:26 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The reviewer, reviewed

There is nothing quite like May. 28th, 2017 @ 05:21 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
A gaggle of adorable little girls spontaneously charging towards the edge of the stage to divide people into those who freeze in a crisis and those who don't.

Jasmine Mangalaseril's review of local restaurant Marbles May. 28th, 2017 @ 10:53 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Waterloo's Marbles features great service and menu that bridges traditional fare and contemporary tastes

History question May. 28th, 2017 @ 09:55 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
History question: does anyone remember the dates of the 1979 King Tut exhibit in Toronto? Aside from the year?

Star Songs of an Old Primate by James Tiptree, Jr. May. 28th, 2017 @ 09:30 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Star Songs of an Old Primate by James Tiptree, Jr.

If I had a nickel for every cigarette your mom smoked, I'd be dead May. 28th, 2017 @ 03:50 am
[personal profile] sovay
Today has been very social, though not at all unpleasant. My brother's godparents are visiting from the Southwest, so we spent the afternoon with my family and then a sort of pre-Memorial Day dinner, which turned out surf-and-turf. There was way too much zucchini. There was not too much key lime pie. My three-year-old niece has discovered a pair of small stuffed animal rabbits which originally belonged to me and my brother—Bunnicula and Butterscotch—and is carrying them everywhere, even to dinner. She has decided that she wants a goat as a pet. (Suggestions that she ask for a pony instead were met with blank disdain.) I am no help to her parents in this argument. I think a goat in the family would be a great idea.

In the evening I met [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for a sold-out showing of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) at the Brattle Theatre: I thought it was great. It's more overtly supernatural than the series overall—it's focused on the most overtly supernatural strand—but it's also decisively grounded by Sheryl Lee's performance, with Laura Palmer's very realistic anger, damage, and agency (it was not clear in the show that her final status was a choice rather than an inevitable consequence or a weird side effect of the manner of her death; the film offers her no good options, but she absolutely opts for the best of them, which makes it strangely difficult for me to classify the film as horror, even though content-wise I don't know what else it should be) interlocking across registers with the characters who live in the soapier layers of the plot. I was glad to see Harry Dean Stanton turn up in the supporting cast, because he feels existentially like someone who should inhabit a David Lynch universe. Now we just need to finish watching the remaining half of Season Two and figure out what to do about the third-season revival.

A later interlude of placidly watching candymaking videos by Public Displays of Confection with [personal profile] spatch was interrupted by Autolycus violently throwing up all over a box of hardcover Le Guin and Tanith Lee, but fortunately the box had a lid on it, the books have been transplanted to a high shelf, and a very shaken small cat was comforted after we emergency-mopped the floor. (There was much anxious purring. We reassured him that we know he does not throw up maliciously. He never looks like he enjoys it.)

Unless it gets a National Theatre-style broadcast, I don't have a hope of seeing the Crucible's Julius Caesar on account of it being in Sheffield and me being on the other side of an ocean, but it's being done with a diverse, gender-equal cast and I wish I could see it, because Zoë Waites has a hell of a lean and hungry look:

Cassius


We are talking about seeing Jacques Tati's Playtime (1967) tomorrow. I haven't seen the movie since 2010, when it was also on film at the Brattle and I loved it. I should get to bed.

Current Music: Mohamed Karzo, "Tenere"


[personal profile] lizbee in response to [personal profile] skygiants's post on Thick as Thieves May. 28th, 2017 @ 01:37 am
[personal profile] conuly, posting in [community profile] metaquotes
Cut for very minor spoilers )

Context ships 'em.
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