Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday in the Park

Art Institute of Chicago: “Bedlam,” “scandal,” and “hilarity” were among the epithets used to describe what is now considered Georges Seurat’s greatest work, and one of the most remarkable paintings of the nineteenth century, when it was first exhibited in Paris.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, Georges Seurat

Abq Jew is proud to announce that he has just learned that the website of the Art Institute of Chicago has recently been redesigned.

Actually, Abq Jew is just thrilled to announce that he is capable, at his advanced age, of learning anything. But Abq Jew digresses.

Famed art blogger Jason Kottke informs us that, as part of their first website design upgrade in 6 years -
The Art Institute has placed more than 52,000 high-resolution images from their collection online, available to all comers without restriction.
Which means that you can see La Grande Jatte - depending on your device, of course - at a resolution of 1692 x 1127, instead of the above 468 x 312.

Of La Grande Jatte, the Art Institute tells us
Seurat labored extensively over A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, reworking the original as well as completing numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches (the Art Institute has one such sketch and two drawings). 
With what resembles scientific precision, the artist tackled the issues of color, light, and form. Inspired by research in optical and color theory, he juxtaposed tiny dabs of colors that, through optical blending, form a single and, he believed, more brilliantly luminous hue. 
To make the experience of the painting even more intense, he surrounded the canvas with a frame of painted dashes and dots, which he, in turn, enclosed with a pure white wood frame, similar to the one with which the painting is exhibited today. 
The very immobility of the figures and the shadows they cast makes them forever silent and enigmatic. Like all great master-pieces, La Grande Jatte continues to fascinate and elude.
The Touch, Linda Apple

Which, for better or for worse, reminds Abq Jew of a story ....
A young couple, Wilbur and Kay, were exploring the exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago one Sunday afternoon, when they came upon George Seurat's masterpiece of pointillism, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte-1884.

Wilbur, excited to experience this famous painting up close, immediately called his wife over and exclaimed -
Kay, Seurat! Seurat!

More impressed with the Art Institute's other collections, she took one bored look at the painting and replied -
Whatever, Wilby, Wilby.

Abq Jew would like to apologize to everyone he has offended with this old, obscure reference to old, but hardly obscure, Doris Day. And her famous song.
"Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", first published in 1956, is a popular song written by the songwriting team of Jay Livingston (born Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (born Raymond Bernard Evans). 
The song was introduced in the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), starring Doris Day [born Doris Mary Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, and still going strong, Ken O'Hara] and James Stewart (born James Maitland Stewart)in the lead roles.

To show how Abq Jew's mind works these days - when it works at all ....

Abq Jew learned about the Art Institute of Chicago's web redesign etc from Jill Wine-Banks (born Jill Wine and raised in Chicago, where her father was a CPA), whom he follows (@JillWineBanks) on Twitter.

ICYMI - She is a United States lawyer who was one of the prosecutors during the Watergate scandal, and is now an NBC News and MSNBC Contributor. Who tweeted -
The Chicago Art Institute has a great treasure trove of beauty that I have enjoyed from childhood to today. Thanks [Pleasantville (@watercooler13)]for sharing this link so you don't have to be in Chicago to see the collection. It's one of the best museums in the world.
This turns out to be a very Jewish story ....

Sunday, December 2, 2018

From Darkness to Lights

Hanukkah Lights, That Is: Alas, Mr & Mrs Abq Jew are just now standing up after a non-traditional yet solemn week of sitting shiva for Great Grand Mama.

Only to discover that light will tonight overtake the darkness, as we and Jews all over the world begin our celebration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.

There is a story in the Talmud of two processions – a wedding procession and a funeral procession – that meet at an intersection too narrow to allow both to pass. One of the processions will need to step aside to allow the other to progress; but which one should go first? 
The rabbis concluded that the wedding procession should get the right of way. Why? Because hope and optimism about the future (as represented by the bride and groom) should always take precedence over the past. We are a people who believe in the future – even in the face of sadness.

And thus we celebrate!

1. Lior Zalzman of Hey Alma reminds us that 
Gal Gadot as a Singing Mermaid is the Best Hanukkah Present 
Ten years ago, a Hanukkah miracle took place. I would’ve gone my whole life without knowing about it, but then I put “Hanukkah” and “Gal Gadot” into Google (don’t ask), and my life changed forever, through one glorious music video of… 

This song is from the Festigal, Israel’s most theatrical event for kids: Parents pay the big bucks for their kids to attend this musical theatrical event, which takes place once a year, always during Hanukkah. It features a bunch of Israeli celebs (not all professional singers) all singing songs on one theme, which is how I discovered that… 
This song is from 2008: Looking back at the themes of Festigals through the years, the 2008 one had a nautical theme. It was titled “Tfos Ta’Festigal” which is a play on words on the Hebrew saying “tfos ta’gal” which means to catch a wave. Or catch a Gal — a Gal Gadot! (That’s right, Gal Gadot’s first name literally means wave, and Gadot is riverbanks, so she was obviously born for this!!!)
And BTW - Hey Alma is "for ladies with chutzpah. A new place for women to talk about working, dating, TV-binging, yummy eating, bat mitzvah reminiscing, quasi-adulting, and the world around us." Abq Jew knows quite a few such ladies. Many, blessedly, in his own family.

2. Students at the Technion shows us
Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah the Hard Way at Technion 
Happy Hanukkah from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Students from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering don't take the the easy way out when lighting the menorah this year.

3. Jewish a capella group Six13 presents
Bohemian Chanukah 
Is this just fantasy? No, it's our Chanukah tribute to one of the greatest and most epic songs of all time. Ready, Freddie? Kindle the lights, remember the Maccabees, and rock on. CHAG SAMEACH!

According to other faith traditions, the month of December may (or may not) bring a variety of non-Hanukkahish holidays. In recognition thereof, yet knowing that once you see this you cannot unsee it, Abq Jew presents -

Monday, November 26, 2018

Glorified and Sanctified

Farewell, Great Grand Mama: More, Abq Jew hopes, to follow. But for now -

1991 | Grandma Fran; Great Aunt Lil; Great Grand Mama | Together Again

Glorified and sanctified 

be God’s great name throughout the world
which He has created according to His will.

May He establish His kingdom
in your lifetime and during your days,

and within the life of the entire House of Israel,
speedily and soon; 
and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted,
extolled and honored, 
adored and lauded be the name
of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond

all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations
are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life,
for us 
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights,
may He create peace for us and for all Israel;
and for all who dwell on Earth;

and say, Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Onomatopoeia and The Jews III

Say That One More Time?  First posted on November 14, 2011, reposted on November 24, 2014, Onomatopoeia and The Jews has become an Abq Jew Thanksgiving classic for everyone who remembers it.

For those of you dear readers who don't, and for those of you who were inexplicably or even explicably not yet following Abq Jew - here it is again! You're welcome!

An onomatopoeia (or onomatopœia, from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία), is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes.

Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as "oink" or "meow" or "roar".

Animal names - especially bird names - are often onomatopoeic. For example: Winnie the Pooh got his name from the sound he made when trying to blow a bee off of his nose.

The turkey's name, however, is not onomatopoeic - although he onomatopoeically says"gobble, gobble".  At least in English.  There are several opinions as to what a turkey says in Turkey.

But speaking of turkey - it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving!  For some of us this means lining up a kosher bird from Trader Joe's, which goes great with kosher pareve stuffing from Natural Grocers.  But that's only for those of us who eat meat.

Now, there are several good, Jewish reasons not to eat meat.  Humans were, before all, intended to be vegetarians.  It was only after Noah and the Flood that God allowed us to eat meat.  And even kosher animal slaughter is still - well, the slaughter of animals.

On the other hand, how's this for onomatopoeia:  m-m-m-m-m-m-meat!

But what to do if there are vegetarians in your family who will be at your Thanksgiving table?   Or worse - vegans? 

(Abq Jew apologizes for claiming that vegans are from a planet orbiting the star of that name.  That was wrong, and ... insensitive.)

But how's this for onomatopoeia:  TO-FU!

Oops!  Insensitive again!  And speaking of insensitive - here is the famous (well, Abq Jew remembers it) Tofu Turkey Thanksgiving scene from Everybody Loves Raymond.

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Stan Lee, Jewish Literary Hero, 95

Jews & Comics: In the midst of what has turned out to truly be a Blue Wave (see Reflections On The Elections), there has been some sadness this week.

Observing Armistice Day (now Veterans Day); worrying about the hundreds of rockets fired on Ashkelon and Southern Israel; and remembering Stan Lee.

Tablet Magazine's Jacob Siegel tells us:
Stan Lee, who was almost certainly the most famous man in comics, has died at 95 ... Over the course of his life, Lee worked as a writer, editor, and publisher of Marvel Comics and became the face of the company. 
He created or had a hand in creating titles like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Incredible Hulk among countless others. 
Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City in 1922, a first generation son of Romanian Jewish parents. In 1940 he entered the comics business by going to work at Timely Publishing. 
There, he met and worked alongside the artist Jack Kirby, another son of New York City and Jewish immigrant parents whose name would become legendary among followers of comic books and American popular culture.
But you knew that, didn't you?

While we mourn his passing, we also recognize that Stan Lee lived a good, long life. Not a perfect life - but a good one. Tablet Magazine's Liel Leibovitz concludes his tribute:
But if you’re looking to understand what makes Judaism’s edicts eternal, what makes American popular culture so widely resonant, and how the two intersect, you could do much worse than picking up a Stan Lee comic book and following it into a world where good and evil still do battle, even if down here they’ve settled into a dance of mutual convenience. 
We’ve had great comics masters before Lee and since; what we’ve never had is one so adept at breathing new life into old ideas, so attuned to the ancient stories and so wise to realize how much they still matter.

Since his passing, tributes to Stan Lee have been published and broadcast ... well, almost everywhere. Here is just one example - a video tribute from CBS News.