Friday, April 29, 2005

How I Spent My Chol Hamoed Vacation

Chol Hamoed!

My father took my youngest brother mountain biking upstate and my mother decided that she wanted to see waterfalls. So I hopped on the internet to find a waterfalls place nearby and stumble upon this place on Route 202--about 15 minutes from my house!
My mother, younger brother, and I popped over to hike to waterfalls. They weren't the nicest, biggest, most beautiful waterfalls I'd ever seen, but they were nice and refreshing. And practically in my backyard! And I took some nice pictures:

We walked a little further and found that this was a park for all people...even those obvious-impaired:

And bears:

Unfazed, we continued on:

Yes, that's right, I just kept taking pictures...

Fine--it's an addiction!

At night, I went over to a friend to watch a movie.

My father took my two brothers bright and early and descended upon Virginia with the digital camera. Don't ask.
I was supposed to meet Randy, Doni, Moshe, Aaron, Tova, Deborah, Nukes, Eliana, Eliana's cousin, and Ian to go hiking (at the waterfalls). Only Randy, Doni, Moishele, and Aaron ended up coming. Wonderful.
Aaron and I walked across this dead tree and founded Wetbutt Island (which I named Wetbutt Island later).

We saw that up ahead there was a narrow way from the island onto the mainland (where the wussy guys were) so we walked up the island. Only, our perception was off because we were too far away to see. There was actually a very big gap between our land and other land. We found some dead trees and built an underwater bridge, so that we could step on something steady instead of slippery rocks.
We hiked on--sopping wet shoes and all--until we got to the waterfalls. The waterfalls were even more beautiful on Wednesday because it had been raining all night and morning. Plus, because we were just a bunch of stupid kids, we practically went into the waterfalls (this is when the inspiration for "Wetbutt Island" hit me).
Then, since the guys left their food in the car, we had a picnic near the lake instead of at the waterfall.
My mom and I went to see The Interpreter at night. 'Twas bleh but there were a couple of stunning shots of the city.

I slept late!
Now, The Raging Bull, one of my Betas, has bulimia. It's really sad, because I think it's involuntary. He'll just put a pellet into his mouth, crunch for a minute or so, and then--ploop--it comes right back out of his mouth! And he's clearly still hungry because he'll try to eat it again. And again. And again! The Raging Bull is not my first Beta and even he's been good for months, so I drove over to the fish store to ask them what to do. The pet store man told me that even when that happens, they get some of the food into their mouths, and showed me a different kind of Beta food I could try. This one was flakes. Then I heard chirping.
I went further back in the store and saw these adorable birds. Totally, shmotally adorable. Needless to say, I fell in love with the sprightliest one of the parakeet bunch.
I left the store with the new fish food, a cage, seeds and gravel, and a Parakeet!
His name's Babaganoush and in a past life he was a Turkish sultan. Do they have sultans? Regardless, he's a total hottie!
Then later, a friend went with me (which was really nice cause he totally didn't want to come) up to Peekskill to see Raging Bull, the Scorsese film, at this old and beautiful theater called The Paramount. I've been wanting to go back to the theater for a while, and Raging Bull was a film I'd wanted to see for months now. There were so many close-ups it was a little dizzying at times, but I really enjoyed the film. N
Recently, I've been thinking about how films are really like a wine. If you just gulp down wine it's like nothing, but if you let it sit in your mouth for a second or two, if you inhale while drinking, if you let the taste of it sit in your mouth a bit before speaking again, you can get the full flavor. Likewise, there are films that you leave the theater saying, "wow! That was amazing!" But you know what? That usually passes in a few hours and then you're left with nothing. Other films take a while to sink in. But you remember them. There are shots that were so powerful, you still remember how they were and how you felt about them. That's why I made a new policy for myself. I don't discuss films right after seeing them.
Anyway, then I came home and tried writing a bit because I tend to think in write now. I heard crickets the other day and my first thought wasn't, "crickets!" it was, "crickets never sing to an empty auditorium. They wait until the weather thaws and people start spending time outside to sound their noise." Yeah.

I woke up with a headache after a really strange dream, and went downstairs to bake more cookies. First, when I was whisking the egg whites, I didn't notice that I made it too fast for that many eggs and it started splattering all around the tiny Pesach kitchen. Then I realized that I separated the eggs--egg whites into the mixer, yolks into the regular batter part. Only, the recipe only called for the egg whites. And it was all downhill from there.

NMy experience at the second film I went to see was markedly different than my first. Wanting to see a film closer to where I live than in the city, I drove up to Peekskill in Bear Mountains to the Paramount Theatre. The highway I took to get up there, route 9, curved around the mountains right on the Hudson. At mid-afternoon, the view was stunning. After missing my exit, getting back on the highway in the same direction I had been going, finding an exit to turn around at again, and nearly running out of gas, I would have to say that getting to the theatre was far more an adventure than the film itself.
Before even seeing the theatre itself, I noticed a beautiful mural painted on the side of the building (I parked around the corner from the entrance) portraying the Paramount gloriously. The Paramount, I would find out after entering, is an old and beautifully restored theatre. As the setting for the film I was about to see, “Bu Jian Bu San” or “Goodbye Dragon Inn,” the place could not be any more perfect.
“Goodbye Dragon Inn” is a Taiwanese film by Tsai Ming Laing. The film is about the last showing of a film at a closing movie theater in Japan. Between the freezing theatre, there not being any coffee at the popcorn counter, and the slow pacing of the film, it is amazing I stayed up through the whole film. The film’s title comes from the film that was being shown at the theater throughout the film.
Using drab colors in every scene, pouring rain in every exterior shot and slow flooding inside, no sudden movements (but once), and barely any camera movement, the film achieved total stillness. The lives of those in the film seemed still. Almost every action looked arduous and pointless. This idea of nothing moving was done by what looked like one camera set-up per scene. The end result was that we would watch an empty, wet hallway on screen. Then we would see someone walk by and stop. Eventually, the person would move on--but the camera would wait in the same spot before the next scene for a number of minutes.
Everything came together for me in the first dialogue of the film, which occurred near the end. One character put his cigarette out for a light. While lighting the cigarette, the second character asks, “did you know that this theater is haunted?” The other character does not respond. “The theater’s haunted,” he repeats. The other character does not respond again. “Ghosts!” he exclaims to emphasis his point before walking away. As the first character watches the second one retreat, he shouts after him, “I’m Japanese!”
The next dialogue in the film comes at the very end of the film. There are two patrons of the theater having a discussion in the front lobby about how no one goes to the theaters anymore. One man had been the other’s teacher at some point and the student, I am not sure because I cannot remember the name since it was Taiwanese, was the creator of the film, “Goodbye Dragon Inn,” that had just been playing.
Aside from the four characters who spoke (and the little boy holding “the teacher’s” hand) were a few other characters. The ticket lady’s limp and hunger pains were too sharp for me to believe it was intended for her to be a ghost. The other characters, who sat scattered throughout the audience at the theater, were definitely not real. I felt left out during the film because I am not familiar with Taiwanese culture. I am still unsure as to whether the food the ticket lady was eating was a cooked vegetable or a snack. I also did not understand what the first man’s only outcry--“I’m Japanese”--had to do with ghosts and figured it was something cultural I would not understand. Regardless of my understanding all the nuances, the film “Goodbye Dragon Inn” is such a cinematic beauty that while the narrative seemed arduous at times, some of the frames still haunt me.
-From my essay, "The First Three Real Films of a Cinephile-in-Training" for my film class last semester.

Friday, April 22, 2005


You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."
Gotta Serve Somebody
" by HaRav Bob Dylan

It's erev Pesach. I want to write a dvar Torah for Pesach, but I just read something so eloquently simple in my favorite hagadah (Lehmann's Passover Hagadah) that I want to just say what Rabbi Dr. Marcus Lehmann (of Mainz) over to you. Only, it's about a page and a half of tiny font, so I'm just going to give you highlights...
We are celebrating the festival of liberation, liberation from the yoke of slavery. Our forefathers left the land of slavery as free men. Freedom is man's valued possession since only through it does he become a real man...But apart from this "bodily" freedom there are other kinds of freedom which must be attained to achieve true personality, namely freedom of mind and freedom of action. He who languishes in the bonds of ignorance is not free, even if he is seated on the highest throne; he who cannot subdue his passions is not free, even if he rules over countries and peoples.

Not to point fingers at anyone, but to a couple of particular people who have used similar arguments with me: "He who languishes in the bonds of ignorance is not free" means that those who say, "well, if I can't see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it, or know of its existance through scientific studies, it doesn't exist" are just allowing themselves to be bound by their human capabilities which is, aside from limiting, a form of bondage. You're really just a stupid human being, you two, if you think that you are the be all and end all. But that's my opinion...and I'm sure people think I'm just stupid for that. I continue...
Freedom of mind, however, consists neither of great learning nor of the amassing of vast stores of knowledge; there have been many great scholars whose minds were not free. Freedom of mankind requires the proper knowledge of what is essential for mankind to know. What we are, why are we on earth, what is the meaning of our life and our activities, for what should we strive, what is the ultimate purpose of our existence?

Rabbi Dr. Lehmann then goes on to explain that these questions have, of course, been pondered on by many great minds through out time. But that often, the truth is lost because, "their outward appearance is often misleading. There are things that appear to be immutable and permanent, whereas in fact they are mutable and impermanent." He argues that to us, "the truth has been revealed about the nature and origin of things. The one Almighty God is the Creator of the universe, which He [sic :)] created for His glorification; and man's task on earth is to live according to the will of the Holy One...It is only when we have grasped this concept that our minds and thoughts are truely free." Now, whether you agree with him or not...and I have a few problems with his phrasings, he at least gives a great starting point.
Let's see how much of his best 'graph I can manage to type before losing feeling in my fingers:
Freedom of the body and of the mind only acquires their true value through freesom of action, freedom to do good and avoid evil. Great thinkers of all times have denied this freedom of action because they have not attained true freedom of mind.

No sources here, but just read it for his ideas, I guess...
According to them everything, including man, merely obeys the laws of necessity; an upright man is not good, nor a vicious man bad, of his own free will, but because he has to be so. According to this concept, no man is responsible for his actions; and the ideas of virtue and vice, of right and wrong, must cease to exist. This sorry attitude is unfortunately prevalent in our times in the form of so-called determinism. It arises from the fact that its adherents do not believe in a personal God. A personal God is the source of all freedom of choise. He created the world of His own free will, and man, endowed with a soul and free-will, is its most important element. Only that God, who is alone free, for whom there is no compelling necessity, could endow His creation, mankind, with free-will. And that is why the Hagadah adds, "Blessed be Hi." We must think of the All-embracing Ever-present God, not as a sort of godhead without intention or design that would be subject, like the whole of nature, to the laws of necessity. God is not only in the whole world, but the whole world without compelling necessity as it emerged from His creative Hands. He imposed the laws of nature, and can at any time displace or alter them, according to His holy will and wise judgment. He is not only the Creator but also the Governor of the universe. He altered the laws of nature when He liberated His people from Egypt, by temporarily removing the great mass of water so that His people might go dry-shod through the sea, and then letting the floods rush back to bury empty and uncultivated land; He caused...He revealed Himself to the whole people in His glory and majesty and proclaimed to them the basis of all freedom of mind and of action, "Bless be He who hath given the Torah to His people Israel."

Through the Torah we have aquired a firm basis and foundation for every form of investigation. It teaches the nature and origin of things; through it, our thoughts arise to God; through it, we acquire knowledge of our own nature, the purpose of our existence, and the objective of our efforts.
...Belief in the one personal God must form the basis of our existence, for if this basis is lacking, even study of Torah and the compliance with its commandments are of no real value. It is only through this recognition, this belief in the one personal God, that we are human beings, that we are Jews.

Another interesting concept:

The Natziv says that in the intro to sefer Shemot, it is referred to as the "second book." Shemot, he explains, is the second half of Beresheit. Beresheit is about the physical creation of the world and Shemot is about the spiritual completion, or fulfillment, of creation. Beresheit is full of independent people while Shemot has a clear lacking of a "main character." Pesach is not about celebrating an individual relationship with HaShem, because you can't celebrate alone. It's about the time when we become a real nation (note that the first time we're referred to as one, is when Paroah is talking about us. Strange how we need our enemies to identify us, isn't it?) and now is a time for recognizing and celebrating that.
Anyway...have a chag kasher v'sameach filled with fun, love, and lots of wine!

Sometimes It's Hopeless

Well, it's official. I used to think that my father had scrambled brains because he smoked too much when he was younger or something. I was wrong. His brains are just scrambled. I know this because it's genetic.

My mother just walked into her room and picked up a shopping bag.
"Why is this on my bed?"
"Oh," I said. "Ari probably put it there. It's daddy's scarf."

Earlier today:
"Mommy, there's something in the dishwasher that's staining my clothes."
"Washing machine."
"Right," I said. "See, I know it's not a specific piece of clothing because my pink skirt got stained with blue and my khaki skirt got something blue, too."
"Those are both dark, aren't they?"
"No, the khaki was in white water."
After crying from laughter (or was it sadness?), my mother told me that I should stop trying to speak English.

Monday, April 18, 2005

And I Still Don't Know Geography!

After scoring a 63/111 on a European Geography Quiz online, I realized that when there are countries like "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.)" you REALLY can't be expected to know geography. I mean, c'mon, if they want me to take them seriously they have to start taking themselves seriously.

...At least I scored a higher percentage of correct answers (56.8%) than I did on US geography (52%). I'm not sure if this is something I should be celebrating or crying over. HOWEVER, I did score a 57/87 on the Middle East! That's 65.5% correct. Damn, I'm good!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Haha! between photographing a cup and writing a 5.25 page essay titled "A History of Fish and Me," I think it's official that I have lost all traces of sanity I had.

Ah...So Profound

Why I Love Spring
by Dina
Because the city becomes more beautiful than ever

and because everything becomes more beautiful!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Needed Proof of My Weirdness?

When I was in high school, I had issues focusing during class (yes, still do), so I adapted a new method of note-taking for myself:
The One Directional Writing
I was sick and tired of always leaving these huge gaps when I'd have to write a Hebrew phrase or not leaving enough room and having to squeeze the Hebrew in, so I just decided to write in one direction--right to left--for both Hebrew and English. And now, for the sample I found while cleaning my room tonight:

Yups. That's backwards English with spatterings of Hebrew! (and if you click on it, it'll go bigger.)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

In Theaters Soon!

Shidduch Wars: a New Hope - The Moishele Dorkwacker teams up with Don Solo and a bunch of hippies to take on the evil empire of Dorkiness.

The Fashionistas Strike Back - Darth Dina and her trusty stormtrooper Mir team up to cut up Dorkwacker's 90s jeans.

Return of the Moishele - Moishele Dorkwacker returns to defeat Darth Dina in a decisive battle battle between Obnoxious and Dorkiness

Attack of the Clones (Stern Girls) -

Sherminator II: Yom HaDin

Meet the Yentes

Dina in Babywonderland

D.B. Bond: Goldfinger - senseless ashki bashing

Harry Pothead: and the Philosophy Room - what's that smell?

Revenge of the Dorks

Indiana Miryam and the Temple of Boots

Nina the Ninja Princess Gone Wild

The Passion of Kahane (no offense)


You're all in, aren't you?

We've Been Found Out

It's official: our cover has been blown! Yup, word about our clandestine organization is spreading faster than Randy's contagious laugh in hillel. They know who we are, they know what we do, and more importantly, they know what our logo looks like. Who are “they” you ask? I have no idea. But what I do know is that they found us about three weeks ago and have been monitoring us since.
And no, it’s not the Hunter administration I’m talking about. It’s the real “them.” The them from Lithuania, Peru, somewhere in the Pacific time zone, Netherlands, Columbia, somewhere in the Mountain time zone, somewhere in the Central European time zone, Mexico, Central and South America, United Kingdom, and Poland. How am I privy to this kind of insider information? Well, I have an addiction to checking out how people were referred to Punks on our site meter. A fascinating pastime, those of you who read
Michael's blog would know.
If it's a challenge they want, we are ready to pick up the gauntlet. But let this serve as a warning to our enemies: the Punks of Zion will prevail! It will be a long, hard battle, but in the end, we shall remain as untouched as the cake at an orthodox sweet sixteen party.
For a while, I’ve noticed an alarming trend of people from Russia googling thepunksofzion in images and finding our OLD logo. (Yeah, the uglier one.) What made them think to do this? No idea. And yet, the trend has spread all the way to the Netherlands, the UK, Peru, Mexico, and many other countries.
I know what you're thinking: what the f&%$?!?! Let us delve into this together. To begin with, Russia is understandable considering that they published the original book depicting the protocols of the elders of zion. That piece of literature almost spelled the end of us. Thank G-d it was swept under the rug by the world media we have so conscientously dominated. As for Latin America, we can only assume this is the work of the our arch nemesis Odessa.

We don't know who informed them (I'm looking at you, Google!) or why they are on our case. They know and they’re coming for us.

(This was written by me and Coops.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Why I Love School

Why I Love Hunter Hillel
by Dina

Because we are dorks...

Because we are famous...
Because people use our room as a dumping ground...
because we bake awesome cookies...

But most of all....
Because we have the coolest, awesomest O-Girls in the world!!!
...and also because the girl to guy ratio can range from 1:6 to 4:10 on any given day (a miracle in the 70% female Hunter College).

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow, the Nobel laureate and self-proclaimed historian of society whose fictional heroes - and whose scathing, unrelenting and darkly comic examination of their struggle for meaning - gave new immediacy to the American novel in the second half of the 20th century, died today at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.
Saul Bellow was pretty genius. I took Jewish American Literature last semester and of all the writers we studied and works we read, I took a liking to Bellow the most. Granted, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral had some great passages (one of which has become my favorite quote), but Bellow’s whole Ravelstein is incomparable.
The book Ravelstein was written as if it were fiction. Ravelstein asks Chick, the narrator, to write his biography when he dies:

"You could do a really fine memoir. It's not just a request," he added. "I'm laying this on you as an obligation. Do it in your after-supper-reminiscence manner, when you've had a few glasses of wine and you're laid back and making remarks. I love listening when you are freewheeling about Edmund Wilson or John Berryman or Whittaker Chambers when you were hired at Time in the morning and fired by him before lunch. I've often thought how well you deal with a story when you're laid back."
There was no way I could refuse to do this. He clearly didn't want me to write about his ideas.

Only, this wasn't a fictional character. Ravelstein is based on his friend Allan Bloom because Bloom really had asked Bellow to write his biography. It seems, after reading the book, that Bloom's character was so intense that Bellow was a genius for having framed the biography in the way he had--as a narrator asked to write a biography on a friend but not his ideas when the friend who had asked was all about ideas. Comprende? I think I lost my point.
Regardless, any Elder in training is required to read Bellow's Ravelstein because if there ever was a real Elder, it was Bloom--the character "played by Ravelstein." Although, he'd probably cringe if he heard me say that because as he put it (in a quote I tend to reuse often)...

"And there's a difference standard for Americans. And you're a Jew, besides. The Jews had better understand their status with respect to myth. Why should they have any truck with myth? It was myth that demonized them. The Jew myth is connected with conspiracy theory. The Protocols of Zion for instance. And your Radu has written books, endless books, about myth. So what do you want with mythology, anyway, Chick? Do you expect to be tapped one of these days and be told that you have now become an elder of Zion? Just give a thought now and then to those people on the meat hooks."

But my intention was not to write about Bloom, but to write about Bellow. So I will quote once more from Ravelstein, the only Bellow work I've studied, with something I think works well here:

Anyway . . . this was the world. I had never seen it before. Its first gift was the gift of itself. Objects gathered you to themselves and held you by a magnetic imperative that was simply there. Is was a privilege to be permitted to see--to see, touch, hear.

Baruch Dayan emet and rest in peace Saul Bellow.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Divinely Delicious

This morning, I wrote a post for Punks that went like this...

No need to wait for olam ha'bah for a heavenly experience...M&M's now comes in dark chocolate, too! reports, "for the first time in the company's 64-year history, M&M's Brand Candies is introducing a dark chocolate version of its famous candy." For the first time in its 64-year history? And as if that isn't enough--it's with peanuts! Damn, I was born at the right time.

But for some reason, blogger was giving me issues with publishing it. So I decided the time had come to venture out of my house and hit the library and any store with ice cream in its inventory.
After collecting some books and tapes, I was ready for the ice cream. There's a PathMark pretty close to the library, but I hate PathMark. There's a ShopRite just straight down the road from the library...but I don't really like ShopRite anymore. So I decided to go to the Stop and Shop all the way across town on route 202. This move was, without a doubt, divinely inspired.
What are the chances that I should see an entire thingy dedicated to M&M's and their new dark chocolate with peanuts right in front of the check-out lines? Slim. Or, none, considering that AP claims, "the new dark chocolate peanut M&Ms candy will be available April 2," and today is April 1st. But there they were screaming in their best Dylan impersonations, "come baby, shake me, come baby, take me, I would be satisfied!" And what was I to do but grab a bag???
And I tell you now: They are goooooooooood.
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