Tuesday, August 04, 2009

For Me, A Taste Of Heaven

I think there are two types of people in the world. The first category are those who rush even when there's no reason. The second group is those who don't rush even when there is a reason. The first group, the rushers, includes people who cut you off on the highway so they can get home a minute earlier, turn on the TV, and do nothing. The second category, the moseyers, includes people who will keep talking to one person while another waits for them.

I want to re-mention an interview I did with child actress Quinn Cummings, in case you missed it. I've been following her blog tour with great interest. I was honored that she stopped by here on her way to "The Huffington Post."

I remember being a kid and watching a specific skit on the Carol Burnett show that struck me. I hate to sound old, but why don't they make them like they used to? Man that show was something! The skit that re-entered my mind today was called "Morton of the Movies" and co-starred Burnett and Alan Alda. I vaguely remember being in my grandparents' apartment when I watched and was blown away by the sketch. I remember it vividly, although I only saw it once at young age, because I experienced it so strongly. (It reminds me a bit of a film I synopsize in the middle of this post.) I don't want to give away too much but I think this skit was funny, touching, and smart - all in the best senses of these words. (Although, I think that the last line could have been cut. That's one thing I noticed as I did some youtube hopping through old CB shows, they tend do an sophisticated skit and then tag an incongruous punchline onto the end. An extreme example of that phenomenon is this lovely skit called Day Shift/Night Shift) featuring Carol along with Tim Conway. It is like a mime act or silent movie with beautiful music in the background and elegant movement and rhythm displayed by the performers. Then out of no-where there's a clunky punchline spoken at the end.) It aired on December 21, 1974. Don't walk, run to a youtube site near you and check it out.

Netflix has taught me an interesting lesson. There is nothing intrinsically better about a new movie over an old one. I admit that I am biased to modern era color films with contemporary actors over ones made shortly after sound and speech were introduced to the process. In this context when I say new I mean within the last ten or twenty years. They make so many movies today, and they're pretty much all available on netflix. And there's nothing better about a movie presently being advertised than one that was advertised five years ago. Yet it's so easy to fall prey to the advertising, forgetting that the only reason we think we're interested in a film is that it's been so put in our face. It's a pleasure to skim through myriad titles on netflix and pick what sounds interesting and worthwhile, although I may never have heard of it before.)

When I was a kid my brother had a can on a high shelf in his room, a gift from college friends. I think it's still there with stuff left behind shrine-like. The can was light, empty, and the label had a bright label on it declaring that the contents were 100% Florida sunshine. I wish that I could package and store the moments right after I wake up. Those moments (they are moments more than minutes) are so lucid yet ephemeral. Within minutes the brilliance I emerged with from sleep is usually flushed away (I don't know how that technically works).

This is kind of a rambling post. I guess I could tighten it up, but I feel no such need. I've been written since long before blogs. I write - not only, but to a large extent - for me. When I say "for me" it means different things. I write because I have a need to get things out. As you can imagine, much of that doesn't appear here. I also like sharing ideas with others, if anyone happens to be interested. I've been offered ads here and turned them down. This is not about money. Similarly, I hope to get a poetry book together one day - and in the footsteps of Rabbi David Ebner my dream is to have the book so that I can give it to people. He self published and never looked back. Did I mention that I'm rambling, kind of the written equivalent of moseying. It's like continuing to talk to one person while another waits.

I write because I have what to say. You can take it or leave it. I have a friend who guest posted on a well known blog. All he wanted was to share Torah. He really could have lived without the many comments that the piece garnered. I don't think he'll be writing there again any time soon. One thing I am thankful for is that is that my commenters are generally very kind and gentle in their comments. And my readers who don't comment are generally kind too. Early on when I wondered if anyone was out there Esther Kustanowitz said, "Put in a stat counter and you'll know." Now I know. People read, and appreciate. And I appreciate that.

There's a conference coming up for J-bloggers. One of the presentations is called No-One Cares What You Had For Lunch. I disagree. A teacher of mine had us read Frank Conroy's Stop Time, and one of the main reasons was to learn that if you make it interesting you can write about anything. There's a chapter in there about his learning to use a the yo-yo that's well written and pulls you in. Earlier this summer I read a book about the circus during The Depression. It's a topic I never thought I was interested but the storytelling pulled me in. I don't know if I can pull it off or want to at this moment - but there are plenty of writers (Billy Collins, Chris Buckley, Quinn Cummings, Phillip Roth, Dara Horn to name a few) who I could see working literary wonders with their lunch.

I could sit here for hours and write and write. It is a taste of heaven. Still, somehow, I feel the need to tend to other things. First (and last), as Columbo used to say, "Just one more thing..."

Miniature fish
Breaded by Dr. Prager
That was today's lunch
Hopefully, unlike last week
This week I will lose some weight


Anonymous Eric said...

Is the Depression-era book you mentioned "Water for Elephants"? I read it 2 summers ago, not a bad read.

Also, i love the idea you mentioned about self publishing and handing out copies of your book. It reminds me of this idea i always had but never came around to actually executing, of making a blank cd of my 10 favorite songs and taping to the inside of my favorite books in the library, hoping to turn some unknown reader onto the music that really gets me.
I dont know, something so lovely...

August 5, 2009 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

there's a book that i consider special called encyclopedia of an ordinary life. when it came out the author put the book in various, somewhat arbitrary places, like a freezer section of a store, etc. she asked people to let her know who they were who received the book. there's a video of this project on youtube. your idea reminded me of this.

the book was water for elephants - kind of a guilty pleasure. i have to say that the circus stuff and the story were interesting and pulled me along.

August 5, 2009 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger kishke said...

I did not enjoy Water for Elephants. It read as if written by a kid in high school.

Eric, why not post a list of your 10 favorite songs? Include links if you like. So much easier than taping CDs to books, and probably more effective.

August 5, 2009 at 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Right now there's one song i cant escape. it's about the collapse of marriage and trying to stay above the wreckage that follows, at least that's what i take away from it. If i were to do the book idea, I'd for sure include this song. It's called "Abandoned Love"


August 5, 2009 at 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

(sorry you have to copy and paste it - i dont know how to make it accessible by a click)

August 5, 2009 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

Thanks. It's nice.

August 5, 2009 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

The song is playing as I type. I listened to the version you linked to, Eric. Now I'm listening to the recorded version. I generally like studio versions better. One thing with Dylan is that it's hard to make out the words The plus of the live performance, in this case, is that you can hear the words better. It's interesting that people laugh when he sings, "My heart is telling me - I love you, but you're strange." As it's playing I'm realizing that I do like the studio version better - the richness of it.

Dylan in a gifted singer/songwriter. The lyrics here, as is often the case with his words, are out of reach for me. I recently heard a song of his on the radio called Sarah and the DJ suggested that it was a rare example of Dylan saying things straight out.

Here's the URL of a song (I don't know how to link here either) that really struck me and stuck with me from the first time I heard it. Al ta'am ve'reich ein lehitvakeach (and Kishke, that relates to Water For Elephants too). I raved about this song to a colleague/friend and when she finally heard it she was let down- having been led to expect the best song EVER.


August 5, 2009 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

Nice! Very pretty song.

Yes, al hataam v'al harei'ach, but that doesn't shut off all objective criticism. There was a certain clunkiness in her plotting and descriptiveness that left me cold. I didn't love the story either, though that I suppose could be called subjective.

August 5, 2009 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

Here's a song I love, for its cleverness, among other things. (I like the studio version a bit better, though):


And here's one I really like. Clever too, and a bit subversive, but full of living:


August 5, 2009 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Yeah, like I said originally, it was a guilty pleasure - probably the closest I'll get to reading a Harloquin (sp?) romance. Still the story pulled me in.

I wasn't crazy about the Blondie song, though I am a fan of a bunch of their early songs; they were in the air when I was a kid. The David Byrne song used to come with computers. It came with mine and I liked it at first but it lost its charm (so sad when that happens in any context).

August 5, 2009 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

BTW - Harry was i this movie and was really good and different in it:


August 5, 2009 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

That's actually where I learned the Byrne song; on my computer. Never saw the movie; maybe one day.

A lot of what I like about the song is the way Harry sings it on the studio version, and the idea and words struck me as smart: a struggle between the person and his skin.

August 6, 2009 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm reading Water for Elephants right now... only a few chapters into it.

August 6, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

yeah, i hear what you're saying that's Dylan's lyrics can be a little out of reach, i think that's what i love about them.
Two of the best songs he wrote about his wife, who was his most evocative muse, are (in my humble opinion) "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"


and "Sara"


- two songs which are supposedly about the same topic (his love for Sara Dylan) but could not be more different in their approach and how they feel. It's also interesting to note that the subject of the former was a mystery until Dylan revealed it in the latter.

August 6, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I'm glad you didn't grow tired of the Byrne song, Kishke.

Anne, let us here at the blog know what you think of the book.

Kishke, Here's a song by Byrne that I like, accompanied by a nice slide show of changing seasons:


Eric, thanks for the elucidation (sp?) about Dylan - really interesting. I mentioned Sara above and how it's pretty straight forward. I'm
listening to the other song now - it's pretty and also dark.

August 6, 2009 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger SuperRaizy said...

Try the Dr. Prager's fish fillets. They're much better than the miniature "fishies" ( :

August 8, 2009 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

SuperRaizy, I've had them both and I like the fishies much more. Al ta'am va'reiach ein lehitvakeiach - there's no arguing about taste.

August 8, 2009 at 9:58 PM  

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