The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarian), a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools.
Although adherents describe Pastafarianism as a genuine religion, it is generally seen by the media as a parody religion.
And the media - what do they know about religious truth? (Or any truth, for that matter.) Wikipedia continues:
The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.\
In that letter, Henderson satirized creationism by professing his belief that whenever a scientist carbon-dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there "changing the results with His Noodly Appendage."
Henderson argued that his beliefs were just as valid as intelligent design, and called for equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution.
After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.
Lindsay Miller of Lowell, Mass.
Which brings us to Lindsay Miller of Lowell, Mass. - a courageous Pastafiarian who insisted upon and achieved her right to be photographed for her Massachusetts driver's license with a colander (that's a spaghetti strainer, by the way) on her head.
Ms Miller (says the New York Daily News) was previously denied a license renewal in August under Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles policy that does not permit hats or head coverings except for religious reasons.
"I thought of other religions and women and thought that this was not fair. I thought, 'Just because you haven't heard of this belief system, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license," she said.
"The fact that many see this is as a satirical religion doesn't change the fact that by any standard one can come up with our religion is as legitimate as any other. And *that* is the point,” according to a posting on the church’s web site.
So you want to join the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster yourself and become a Pastafarian? Well, you can start with the entertaining and informative WikiHow article How to Become a Pastafarian.
Or you can visit the Church's website and view this entertaining and informative video:
And then there's the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led by New Mexico's own Mikey Weinstein, which actually fights for religious freedom in the US military. But only because it has to.
The MRFF's latest victory involves this sign at a Hawaii Army base -
which the MRFF strongly suggested should be taken down - that it's an affront to the Muslims who are our friends (and members of the US Army) as well as an unnecessary provocation to the Muslims who are our enemies.
Plus offensive to Jews (who remember the Crusades differently than Muslims or Christians) and plenty of others.
The sign was taken down.
New Jersey Jets vs Buffalo Bills
And that brings us to Abq Jew's final entry in this week's What Were They Thinking? competition - the game between the "New York" Jets and the Buffalo Bills played last Thursday - November 12 (Rosh Hodesh Kislev!) that The New York Times even wrote about.
The Jets (Gang Green) wore their usual plain green uniforms, with two white stripes down the leg, two white stripes at the shoulder, and white helmets.
The Bills, for the NFL's Color Rush promotion, wore red uniforms, with one white stripe down the leg, two white stripes at the shoulder, and white helmets.
To the colorblind (8% of males, 0.5% of females), the game was in good old black and white. As The Times reported:
“It was just a shock to my system,” [E. J. Arnold] said.
Arnold is among that subset of the population with red-green colorblindness, and the all-green uniforms worn by the Jets and the all-red ones of the Bills turned the viewing experience into headache-inducing misery.
The Jets’ green looked green to Arnold. But so did the Bills’ red. To him, everyone looked like a Jet, even though they were never penalized for having too many men on the field.
On punts, he did not know who was blocking whom. When a pass was caught, he did not know if it was a reception or an interception.
“I’d watch for three, four minutes and then I’d just say, ‘I can’t figure it out’ and change the channel,” said Arnold, the special teams coordinator at Division II Northwood University in Midland, Mich.
“If the graphics from the NFL Network weren’t on the bottom of the screen, I couldn’t tell if the Jets or the Bills had the ball.”
It was not what he had expected when he turned on the television after putting his three children to bed. He said he asked his wife, Mandy, to watch “to make sure I wasn’t going crazy."
Acoma Pueblo Governor: Acoma Pueblo, the oldest inhabited community in the United States, has an unusual tie to Judaism - Solomon Bibo, about whom Abq Jew wrote in Moses On The Mesa.
As it turns out, the current Acoma Pueblo Governor, Fred S. Vallo, Jr. will be the featured guest at Congregation Albert Brotherhood’s monthly brunch on Sunday November 22.
Vallo will speak about Acoma Pueblo’s history, as well as the pueblo’s current concerns with rural electrification, gaming contracts, energy development and water concerns.
Back in August 2012, Abq Jew wrote:
Every Jew in New Mexico (claims Abq Jew) knows the story of Solomon Bibo, the German-Jewish immigrant who came to the Land of Enchantment in the 1800s, married a NAP (Native American Princess), and became a real macher in Acoma, his wife's pueblo.
No Jew outside New Mexico (claims Abq Jew) knows the story. But (claims Abq Jew) they will soon. That's because a team led by Paul Ratner (and including his wife, Petra Ratner; noted NM actor Ron Weisberg; and Abq Jew's son,Dov Yellin the Film Editor) are about to release ... wait for it ...
Moses On The Mesa is inspired by the real life of a man named Solomon Bibo. He was a Jewish boy from Germany who came to the Wild West in the late 1800s. He learned how to ride a horse, how to shoot a gun, how to play poker with the outlaws and make friends with the "Indians" from his grandpa's tall tales.
He married a pueblo beauty, battled against crooked government agents and became the governor of the oldest settlement in North America. Life threw him many curves after that - he fought for progress but lost to tradition, his friends turned against him, great earthquakes and great depressions wiped him out, but he always fought back... and always remained a Jew... a Moses on the Mesa.
In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees to Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire art collector, in a packed sales room at Christie’s.
It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction.
The painting became the 10th work of art to reach nine figures under the hammer. The bidding was palpably tense, with six people vying for the lot, and it took nine minutes to sell, with the winning bid coming from the phone.
Mr. Liu, who with his wife Wang Wei is among China’s most visible art collectors, confirmed on Tuesday that he is the buyer. He said he planned to bring the work back to Shanghai, where he and his wife have two private museums.
As a teenager growing up in Shanghai during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Liu sold handbags on the street and later worked as a taxi driver.
After dropping out of middle school, he went on to ride the wave of China’s economic opening and reform, making a fortune through stock trading in real estate and pharmaceuticals in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to the 2015 Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr. Liu is worth at least $1.5 billion.
And for a short and Jewish bio of Modigliani, Abq Jew turns (as he almost always does) to Wikipedia:
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (12 July 1884 – 24 January 1920) was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France.
He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces and figures, that were not received well during his lifetime, but later found acceptance.
Modigliani was born into a Sephardic Jewish family in Livorno, Italy.
A port city, Livorno had long served as a refuge for those persecuted for their religion, and was home to a large Jewish community. His maternal great-great-grandfather, Solomon Garsin, had immigrated to Livorno in the 18th century as a refugee.
Modigliani's mother (Eugénie Garsin), who was born and grew up in Marseille, was descended from an intellectual, scholarly family of Sephardic descent, generations of whom had resided along the Mediterranean coastline.
Her ancestors were learned people, fluent in many languages, known authorities on sacred Jewish texts, and founders of a school of Talmudic studies. Family legend traced the Garsins' lineage to the 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
Modigliani’s father, Flaminio, hailed from a family of successful businessmen and entrepreneurs.
How much, Abq Jew hears you ask, have other paintings sold for at auction?
The New York Times has a delightful interactive article about, that, too!
Here are a few highlights.
$179.4 million (2015) “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” Pablo Picasso, 1955
$119.9 million (2012) “The Scream,” Edvard Munch, 1895
$87 million (2012) “Orange, Red, Yellow,” Mark Rothko, 1961
And that's not even counting Gustav Klimt's "Lady in Gold" (see Adele in Gold).
$135 million (2006) "The Lady in Gold," Gustav Klimt, 1907
Which brings us, naturally, to Stonehenge. The New York Times has a great article about Stonehenge and Woodhenge, The Cursus and The Avenue.
AMESBURY, England — About 6,300 years ago, a tree here toppled over.
For the ancients in this part of southern England, it created a prime real estate opportunity — next to a spring and near attractive hunting grounds.
According to David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham, mud was pressed into the pulled-up roots, turning them into a wall. Nearby, a post was inserted into a hole, and that may have held up a roof of reeds or animal skin.
It was, he said, a house, one of the earliest in England.
Last month, in the latest excavation at a site known as Blick Mead, Mr. Jacques and his team dug a trench 40 feet long, 23 feet wide and 5 feet deep, examining this structure and its surroundings.
They found a hearth with chunks of heat-cracked flint, pieces of bone, flakes of flint used for arrowheads and cutting tools, and ocher pods that may have been used as a pigment.
“There’s noise here,” Mr. Jacques said, imagining the goings-on in 4300 B.C. “There’s people here doing stuff. Just like us. Same kids and worries.”
About a mile away is Stonehenge.
It turns out (Abq Jew is paraphrasing here) that Stonehenge started out as a breakaway (you should pardon the pun) minyan.
And that there are plenty of other henges around. Says The Times:
The defining characteristic of a henge is not the rocks or timbers sticking upward, but a circular ditch surrounded by a raised bank. In this sense, Stonehenge today is not a true henge; its raised bank is inside the ditch.
Who knew? And that there's a whole community of sacred structures - one for Orthodox Druids, one for Conservative, one for Reform.
And one that no one ever entered. Even on the Solstices and Equinoxes.
Abq Jew has always loved this song, mostly - take note! - because of the bright accordion riffs and happy, jaunty beat. And has Abq Jew mentioned that he doesn't speak (or read, or sing, or in any other way comprehend) French?
But that's OK. Here are the original French lyrics, and here are the lyrics translated.
A Japanese girl group who play weirdo klezmer mash-ups that sound [like] David Krakauer blowing on a ramen noodle.
They dress in the kinds of technicolor costumes you expect from a J-Pop duo on the rise, with lead singer Momo Matsunaga usually grasping a stuffed pig while her sister Koharu absolutely slays on accordion.
And while their songs glide exuberantly across the Judeo-Balkan-Gypsy spectrum, their musical foundation is fundamentally Klezmer.
Abq Jew strongly encourages you to read Mr Silow-Carroll's column in its entirety. But if you haven't the strength to click here, here are a few highlights.
Davening at the House of Brooks
In 1975, National Lampoon writer Gerald Sussman proposed The Mel Brooks Religion. It would meet in chapels called Houses of Brooks, which were “perfect replicas of the old neighborhood movie theaters Brooks used to attend as a child.”
The faithful would chant prayers, blessings, and hymns all derived from the Brooks oeuvre — “his jokes, shticks, skits, and pieces of business from his movies, records, and TV shows.”
After the showing of one of his films, Brooks himself would appear to deliver a sermon, an “indescribable, unpredictable piece of comic material that goes beyond comedy, into something truly ecstatic.”
Last week, I think I attended a House of Brooks. In Newark.
On Thursday, Oct. 15, I joined some 3,000 people at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for a wide-screen showing of his 1974 Western parody Blazing Saddles, followed by an onstage interview with the director, writer, actor, and all-around tummler himself.
At one point in the day, I had considered staying home to watch Game 5 of the Mets-Dodgers series. I don’t know what I was thinking; had I gone with the game I would have missed an astonishing and delightful night.
Mr Silow-Carroll ends with
On the way out I ran into a rabbi friend, who said, “I felt I was part of something historic.” I knew just what he meant.
In Lampoon, Sussman described how services at the Houses of Brooks would end: “Several prayers to Brooks are offered, to his everlasting health, so he can bring humor and laughter to our troubled world.”
This is a photograph of the interior of NJPAC's Prudential Hall, which is used for all types of big performances and major events. It seats - as shown - 2,868. And it is often sold out, filled to capacity, standing room only. And it's in Newark.
How is your synagogue doing?
Temple Beth Mel fills the seats. Temple Beth El - probably not so much.