Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CU Later, Better

Cataract Surgery: This year, Abq Jew will be celebrating Passover, the Festival of Freedom, by freeing (during Chol HaMoed, of course) his good right eye (his left eye

is not, has vishalom, bad; it is merely differently abled) from the cataract that prevents him from seeing the score - or even which teams are playing - when he watches ball games from his not-really-that-distant couch.

Abq Jew is making this announcement in the hope that you, his loyal readers, will not mind if there is a lacuna (gap) in blog posts for a few days.

And speaking of lehavdil minds and gaps, Abq Jew (and The Guardian, The New York Times, and many other news outlets) notes with sorrow the recent and most untimely passing of Phil Sayer. (No, there is no overt Jewish connection here.)
Phil Sayer, famous for his ‘mind the gap’ message on London’s tube stations, has died aged 62. Sayer worked for the BBC in Manchester for 10 years before starting Sayer Hamilton Studios with his wife, fellow voice artist, Elinor Hamilton in 2003.

If we're going to talk about minds and gaps, Abq Jew thinks, why not talk about Bette Midler and Oklahoma? Wikipedia tells us that
Midler was born [December 1, 1945] in Honolulu, Hawaii, where hers was one of the few Jewish families in a mostly Asian neighborhood. 
Her mother, Ruth (née Schindel; b. 1916, New Jersey), was a seamstress and housewife, and her father, Fred Midler (b. 1912, New Jersey), worked at a Navy base in Hawaii as a painter, and was also a housepainter.
She was raised in Aiea and attended Radford High School, in Honolulu. She was voted "Most Talkative" in the 1961 school Hoss Election, and "Most Dramatic" in her senior year (class of 1963). 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Two Songs for Pesach 5776

With More (Billy Nader) Coming: Yes, according to Abq Jew's Abq Jewish Event Calendar, Passover 2016, aka Pesach 5776, is almost upon us.

The Ein Prat Fountainheads have promised (again, Billy Nader), a new Pesach video this week. While we're waiting ... and to put us in the proper Passover mood ... here is Dayenu, Coming Home, their video from 2011.

And for something very different and also very good - here is Vanessa Paloma singing Moses Salio de Misrayim, her 2009 video.

New Mexijews! We're in luck!
Vanessa Paloma will be performing
with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale this summer!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

AFME 2016 Presents

Here's The Lineup!  Abq Jew is happy to announce that the 2016 Albuquerque Film & Media Experience (AFME) is bringing a number of powerful, exciting, thoughtful, thought-provoking, interesting films to Abq later this month.

Monday April 18

The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of a Second Class Hero
75th Anniversary of The Tuskegee Airmen

At 93 years old, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson recalls his trials and tribulations from early childhood racism in America to his segregated military experience and overseas combat deployment in WWII.

He tells of his stay as a P.O.W. in Nazi Germany and recalls his sobering walk through Dachau Concentration Camp, which was liberated only 2 days earlier.

After heroically serving his country in the world’s worst war, Alex joyfully returned home only to be greeted by racism, bigotry and segregation.

Tuesday April 19

The Merry Maids of Madness

After walking out of her wedding for a sandwich, Beatrice decides to take a rest at Stratford Home for Rest and Rehabilition. This is the story of what happened inside those walls. A feature length comedy inspired by the women of Shakespeare.

Wednesday April 20

Rumba de Burque

Rumba de Burque - original Latin music from Albuquerque New Mexico, filmed at the rail yards in 2015. This is the first cut of their first album called "Importados" showing the diversity of the inhabitants of the Burque.

The Horseshoe's Happiness

The Horseshoe's Happiness is about Tijs Groen, a former Dutch athletics champion who gave up his running career to pursue a new and unknown musical adventure in southern Spain.

Tijs has always played the guitar as a hobby but he never really considered to become a musician. While on holiday in Spain he visited the small beach town of La Herradura (Spanish for ‘horseshoe’) in Andalucia. Here he met interesting musicians, an inspiring guitar maker and he learned about flamenco and guitar music in general.

Back home he decides that he wants to live in this special and creative place to explore his musical skills and interests. He buys an old van, refurbishes it and moves to The Horseshoe. From this nomadic home he studies the guitar, meets new friends, like-minded people and arranges gigs in bars, restaurants and simply out on the streets.

The Horseshoe's Happiness follows Tijs during his first year in Spain. A very intense year in which he works hard to discover his musical style as well as his ideal lifestyle after giving up on his secure life in the Netherlands.

With ups-and-downs, Tijs lives through all the seasons in the coastal area, from the cold and abandoned winter to the crowded and touristy summer. During this cycle he is slowly confronted with the consequences of his choices. More and more he has to find answers to questions about where he comes from, and where he’s heading to.

Thursday April 21

The Quest for Suki

A gullible sweepstakes entrant determines something is awry when his big win lands him a meeting with the mayor's evil twin.  Julius lives in a larger-than-life New Mexico, where 70 years ago the bitter War of New Mexico almost destroyed the Southwest, and as a result, everything today is a bit... stranger. A local museum proudly claims to hold 'The Bluest Painting in the World.' Caffeinated Malt Beverages are still legal. Brain-eating amoebas are harvested in glowing syringes. And a sinister plot is out to ruin Julius' life for no good reason. Sometimes life is just absurd.

Friday April 22

What Would Beethoven Do?

The film questions why we create art by looking at the fractured state of the ailing classical music world. Along with a colorful greek chorus of thinkers, three charismatic creators reveal not only why they make music but what it stands for beyond the notes on the page.

Saturday April 23

The Gift 

'The Gift' chronicles three generations starting in the1970's, following an acoustic guitar as its handed down through the years and the gift of music passed along with it.

The Caveman of Atomic City

The story of microMike, a unique man who lived in caves under the famous Los Alamos National Lab, the secretive birthplace of nuclear weapons. He developed a theory of time and space to rival Einstein's, found the most valuable rock on the planet that may help stop a Martian invasion, and challenged the world's brightest minds about what it really means to be a scientist.

Sunday April 24

The Newport Effect

In 1959, a trio of visionaries- Pete Seeger, George Wein and Theo Bikel - created a musical phenomenon known as The Newport Folk Festival. Newport provided the blueprint and stands as the "grandfather" of contemporary music festivals. It is the legendary festival where Bob Dylan "plugged in", though its legacy reaches far beyond that mythical moment.

The Newport Folk festival introduced its audiences to roots music from around the world, freedom songs, prison songs, political anthems and unforgettable artists - blues giants from the deep south like Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt, the Georgia Sea Island Singers, African penny whistle player Spokes Machiani and flat picking legend Doc Watson, among hundreds of others.

The festival resurrected interest in the dying art of Cajun music and - on its new artists stage - introduced the world to James Taylor, Arlo Guthrie and Joni Mitchell.

The Newport Effect celebrates 50 years of musical excellence, explores the rich social activism of the times and honors the deep and lasting impact of the Newport Folk Festival.

AFME is presenting many more films
than the handful that Abq Jew has highlighted.
How many more, which films, and when and where?
Click here to find out!

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Walk of Life Project

Life in Albuquerque: So much for Death in Albuquerque and Kicking the Bucket! Let's get back to The Walk of Life and a project that is near and dear to Abq Jew's heart.

And no, Abq Jew does not now speak of the Chevre Kaddisha of Greater Albuquerque. In this case, Abq Jew speaks of

The Walk of Life Project

The Walk of Life Project was very recently conceived, developed, and launched by Peter Salomone, a (currently) unemployed freelance video editor and comedy writer, to test one simple hypothesis:

Walk of Life by Dire Straits
is the perfect song to end any movie.

Matthew Dessem recently wrote in Slate magazine:
After 120 Years, Cinema Has Finally Achieved Its Full Potential, With the Help of Dire Straits 
It can take a long time for humanity to figure out the best use for a new technology. Hedy Lamarr imagined the radio-frequency–hopping technology she invented would be used for torpedoes, not cell phones. The Internet was around for 30 years before it changed the world forever. 
And now, 120 years after their first public exhibition, Peter Salomone has perfected motion pictures. As is so often the case, the secret turned out to be Dire Straits. 
Salomone is the mad scientist behind the Walk of Life Project, a rigorous experiment designed to test a simple hypothesis: 
Walk of Life by Dire Straits is the perfect song to end any movie.
Although his research is in its infancy, the results have been undeniable.

Just about a year ago, right before Pesach, Abq Jew explicated ad comprehensium about The Walk of Life. Please take a wonderfully invigorating moment to review that blog post, the lyrics above, and the music in performance (Wembley 1985) below.

And now, let's test Mr Salomone's hypothesis.

Where to begin? You may choose to peruse the Walk of Life Project Youtube channel. Or you may choose to trust Abq Jew to find three (3) of the best examples right here. Presented in chronological order by movie release date.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Death in Albuquerque

The Musical: Like so many Burqueños, Abq Jew has been sick for the past few weeks with what some describe as "a cold" and others describe as "the flu."

Whatever this is, it is viral (meaning: no medicine will help) and persistent (meaning: it hasn't gone away yet).

Abq Jew has, over his many years and many illnesses, learned to recognize the two most important symptoms of major disease:
  1. Daytime soap operas make sense.
  2. Death in Venice is a fun movie to watch.
You remember Death in Venice, don't you? Wikipedia tells us:
Death in Venice is a 1971 Italian-French drama film directed by Luchino Visconti and starring Dirk Bogarde and Björn Andrésen. It is based on the novella Death in Venice, first published in 1912 as Der Tod in Venedig by the German author Thomas Mann.
The plot of the movie (and the novella that spawned it) can be summed up succinctly:

Man goes to Venice and dies.

Wikipedia provides a somewhat longer synopsis:
Death in Venice is a novella written by the German author Thomas Mann, first published in 1912 as Der Tod in Venedig. The work presents a great writer suffering writer's block who visits Venice and is liberated, uplifted, and then increasingly obsessed, by the sight of a stunningly beautiful youth. 
Though he never speaks to the boy, much less touches him, the writer finds himself drawn deep into ruinous inward passion; meanwhile, Venice, and finally, the writer himself, succumb to a cholera plague.
Sounds exciting, eh what? But the film is much more exciting than the novella (which Abq Jew has never read), because
While the character Aschenbach in the novella is an author, Visconti changed his profession from writer to composer. This allows the musical score, in particular the Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony by Gustav Mahler, which opens and closes the film, and sections from Mahler's Third Symphony, to represent Aschenbach's writing.
Lots of great scenery - some of it very moving, some of it stationary! And with Marisa Berenson, in her breakout performance (four years before Barry Lyndon)!

Although few have seen Death in Venice the movie (and even fewer Death in Venice the opera), everyone remembers Thomas Mann from Field of Dreams, where he was played by the one and only James Earl Jones.

Actually ... Mr Jones's character was Terrence Mann, Thomas's younger and smarter (and American) brother. But speaking of opera -

Maestro Rabbenu Placido Domingo

recently performed the title role in Verdi’s unwell known ‘Simon Boccanegra’ at the Met, and Anthony Tommasini's review in The New York Times (Abq Jew must tell you) was not entirely complimentary.
Regarding Mr. Domingo, it’s almost unheard of for an opera singer to be performing in his mid-70s, let alone a tenor who has prolonged his career by taking on baritone roles. 
But Mr. Domingo seems to have no intention of retiring, and synagogues including B'nai Israel and companies including the Met have him booked well into the future.
Be that as it may (and it will) ...

As Abq Jew recently announced (see Kicking the Bucket), it's almost time for the Annual Meeting of the Chevre Kaddisha of Greater Albuquerque.

Almost all satire, irony, and humor aside - it's a great chance to get out and meet people who perform a vitally important mitzvah right here in our community.

You can be one of the select few!

Dealing with the dead is usually not even half as frustrating and exhausting as dealing with the living. You can take Abq Jew's word for that.

When the Messiah arrives in Albuquerque - speedily, in our days! - there will be no more need for the Chevre Kaddisha. But if Maestro Rabbenu gets here first, funerals will be a lot more fun. For almost everyone involved.

Here is a forshbite (that's Yiddish for hors d'oeuvres, one of the most-looked-up words on the Internet) of what could await us, may we live long and healthy!