#7 of 10Q: Self Improvement

The seventh question of 10Q*:  How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My answer: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#6 of 10Q: Achievement by Next Year

The sixth question of 10Q*:  Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

My answer: I have a minimalist and optimist goal. The minimal is to keep my family afloat financially in a way that I can enjoy my days and my connection with them. This means creating and keeping  a work-family-life balance. Right now it is hard or me to imagine how I will achieve it, but I believe it is possible with the right kind of focus and priority setting and consistency.

The optimist goal is a variation of this: work only 40 hours a week and make more than enough money in a way that includes lots of fun and learning. That would allow spending more time with aforementioned family and other interests.

Security (or a sense of it) is important for me and so is family. Why? These are more core values and these make me happy.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#5 of 10Q: Spiritual Experience

The fifth question of 10Q*:  Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My answer: For four months I ran a diary earlier this year. In it I answered three questions on most days: What did I do to be/stay cheerful? What did I accomplish? How did I feel? This exercise made me more self-aware, in touch with my emotions and happier.

During the last 12 months I took and finished four online courses (1. Creativity, Innovation, and Change, 2. Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought, 3. The Camera Never Lies, 4. Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects) and am in the middle of doing the fifth one (Scandinavian Film and Television). (I also started two courses that I didn’t finish.) These series of independent studies stimulated me, reminded me of my capacity of learning and encouraged my growth.

I am aware that the question focused on the spiritual and my answer refers to changes in my emotional and mental state. However these are the defining experiences of my life that contributed to my well-being. No, I didn’t have a spectacular spiritual experience that I could recall now. However during the course of my journaling and studies I had lots of moments that felt like little awakenings.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#4 of 10Q: World Event

The fourth question of 10Q*:  Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My answer: The Gaza conflict, the situation in Hungary, Putin’s activities in Russia and the Tea Party in the US. I see a common worrisome tendency in these three: the “truth” is defined (and defiled) by how media savvy the media spin doctors and their masses are. I am concerned that if the basic facts are covered up and distorted than there isn’t even a chance for shared reality and to have a civil political discussion. Let’s see one by one.

Yes, there were lots of civilian Palestinian casualties in the Gaza conflict and that’s terrible and the images are heart-wrenching. But due to the successful (social) media campaign of Gazan most of the world doesn’t even think about why, what and how the Israeli army attacked. Why: because Hamas made great strides to their declared goal of destroying Israel with the building of the tunnel system. What: localized, military targets, that were often hiding amidst civilians on purpose, so they could use the images of casualties in their propaganda war.  How: The Israelis called ahead the targets and let them know about the coming attack to minimize losses in human lives. It saddens me that millions of people are incapable of seeing the whole picture and take only one side.

The same (lack of) logic the government owns the tax-supported public media and dictates what appear there. As a result people who only get their news from there live in an alternative reality, that, in my opinion, has little resemblance to the real political landscape. They, the prim-minster and his lackeys are in the constant process of redefining not just such words as “nation” but also basic economical and political terms, like liberalism, expenses, debt, honor… Again, the result is that people on the two side of the divide are incapable of communicating with each other, because the part of their mental reality that can be shared is shrinking.

Same in Russia. Majorities of Russian believe that the Ukrainians were the aggressors, while it was Russian soldiers in disguise who invaded the Eastern part of the country and forced its questionable independence. The truth that we on the west know is the polar opposite of what the Russian populace knows.

The US is not an exception from this kind of distortion either. Riding on Benghazi, coffee-cup salute and other non-issues fuels the hatred of the far-right with a steady support of lies by Faux News. We , who don’t swallow in whole what that channel spews no longer share the same space or even country with its followers.

So how/why does this affect me? I care for the people of all of these nations I mentioned for different reasons. I am a Hungarian Jew living in the US, who’s been to Ukraine a long time ago. I don’t mind ideological differences. I think it is natural that people have different values system. I enjoy intelligent conversation and analysis that comes out of confronting them. But when they don’t know/believe the foundational facts the chance for such progress is limited. It scares me for the future as I don’t know how to bring the lines closer to each other.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#3 of 10Q: Major Milestone

The third question of 10Q*:  Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

My answer: The biggest change in my family is the birth of my second daughter and nothing else comes close to it. However I mentioned her in the answer to the first question, so now I feel pressed to give another answer. That would be the passing of Ron, my wife’s godfather, of essentially cancer. He was a major figure in her life. He was not jst present in the room, when she was born, but was also my father-in-law’s best friend and musical partner. Ron was present at every stage of my wife’s life, like a second father. I only met him a couple of dozen times or so and found him a sweet and funny guy. My wife went through a serious mourning after his passing and I supported her as much as I could. She still regularly dreams of/with him.

My maternal grandmother’s brother-in-law, Jancsi bacsi, also passed away, of old age. When I heard the news my feeling was that she was last of his generation in his family and with him a connection to the past and the stories are lost now for forever. I wasn’t that c;lose with him, but throughout my childhood I saw him at almost every Sunday family lunch. That first feeling isn’t fully true though. One of my grandmother’s cousin is still around, but I rarely saw her, even when I lived in Hungary. And on my father side one of his aunt is also with us. I saw her more often and even visited a few times on my return trips to Hungary. She has three daughters and lots of grandkids and great-grandchildren. A lot of them on facebook, so I keep in touch with them to some extent. On the other hand my maternal grandmother’s cousin has no kids, not on facebook and her political and literary interests are very far from mine. So I only know about her through the accounts of my mother’s visits.

The point is that Ron’s passing affected our family too a greater extent than Jancsi bacsi. Neverthless it is a good point to stop for a moment and think of their lives, celebrate what they gave to us and their beloved

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#2 of 10Q: Differently Done Wish

The second question of 10Q*:  Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life,My answer: Sweating the small stuff. I wish I would do it less. I know that worrying about possible negative future outcomes and being annoyed by past things doesn’t help me, my cause, my health and my family’s mood. But too often I spiral into that.  I even read the book (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life) . Still having a hard time putting it into practice. Conclusion: find tools and keep using them.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#1 of 10Q: Significant Experience

This year, like last year, I will answer the 10 questions, one a day for each day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, provided by the 10Q project/space.

The first question: Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

And my answer: My second daughter was born 4 days ago. This means that the whole of 2014 was in anticipation of her birth. It affected me on multiple level, From the daily routine — as in I spent more time with our first duaghter prepping her for school and picking her up –, through financing — as in trying to save up some money so I wouldn’t have to work that hard when the second one is born, to the self-reflective — as in my responsibilities grew, I have to be more of an adult in that regard and have to work even smarter to create a better future not just for myself, but for my children too.

I am grateful. We were blessed with a beautiful, healthy child, born under ideal circumstances, into a nurturing home in a safe part of the world. I am also relieved. We’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while and the fruit of our love is nothing less than exhilarating. We don’t have to try again. (She is our last planned child.) Resentment never came into the picture.  I sometimes think about how my life would be different without a second child. But no matter what answer I feel any moment I always know that it would be less rich. As far as inspiration goes she bring different kind of humor out of me, than the first child, who is now six. I joke with both, but differently. It may be a low level inspiration, but I enjoy it every day.

What and where do I post on the internet?

When my schedule allows it I am quite an active curator and producer of content on the internet. It helps me to collect some of the online spaces where I am the most active. I also read lots of forums and occasionally post there, but I won’t mention those in this post. So here is the incomplete list, in a mostly alphabetical order:

Where and what Social Media
 This site: pgabor.com

Follow on Facebook
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 filmandreligion-logo-v3FilmandReligion.com *

  • A resource to support the study of the religion in films
  • I mostly curate links to online news pieces I find interesting and related to the topic of film and religion. I try to post 1-3 every workday
  • I do occasionally write my own reflection of a movie or TV show I’ve seen. Those can be found here.
  • I collect related books, articles and syllabi too
  • History: started the site October 2004 as a school project and had its blog section since September 2011
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Read RSS feed
 Forestvilleca.blogspot.com

  • Job postings and events announcements and links to articles when the town of Forestville CA is in the news.
  • History: Opened the site in 2010 July
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 jewish-books-logo-250JewishBookWorld.org *

  • 1-3 posts a workday, mostly to new books related to Jews and Judaism.
  • Book summaries or descriptions provided
  • Links to sources provided when available
  • Curated from multiple sources
  • History: started as a Tumblr blog November 2013, moved to its own domain as an independent site August 2014
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Read RSS feed
jff-logo-3aJewishFilmFestivals.org *

  • Collecting information of Jewish film festivals around the world and the films they show
  • As of now 900+ festivals and 1600+ films
  • Listing of festivals by year, quite comprehensive since 2011 (i.e. 150+ festivals/per year)
  • Listing films by year and country made in and genre
  • Blog has 2-3 message a week mostly links to current news items.
  • Once a day I go through the Facebook pages of dozens of film festivals and share the more interesting Facebook posts/pictures/links they posted
  • When I write something (as opposed to just pointing to other people’s writings) I post it here
  • History: started January 2011 (in Drupal), moved to WordPress and its own domain September 2013
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 jewsomeJewSoMe.tumblr.com

  • Sharing Social Media as used by Jews and Jewish organizations.
  • History: started August 2009, but rarely post to it any more, due to lack of time

 

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kbc-logo-200-squareKabbalahBooks.co *

  • Resources for the Academic Study of Kabbalah
  • It used to have 600+ books in 7 categories, but since the latest rebuild I didn’t have time to re-import all of them. Currently it only has about 420
  • The blog section is also inactive, but when it is I add links to new books, articles and people
  • History: started as sefarim.net September 2007 and migrated to current domain July 2010
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 SocRelig.com *

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 favicon-160x160VisionNest.com *

  • My business site with the tagline: Effective websites built and maintained for your internet presence
  • Site has my services listed (Site Building and Maintenance, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Presence), portfolio and a blog, where I mostly post technical tips I found useful
  • History: We founded with my father Vision Nest Publishing in 1995. Once I decided to have my own clients I span off my own Vision Nest Media in 1996. Original domain was vision-nest.com, but lost it due to a mix up in renewal procedure. On its current domain (without dash in it) since August 2009. Hosts copies of two of the old VNP projects: Community in the Workplace Website and Business Transformation Book Café
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 Other:

* blog posts fromsites marked with asterisks automatically appear on the sites Facebook, Twitter and Google+ page

** With the exception of the last one all the logos here were created by me

Scandinavian Film course #4: Main trends lecture notes

Here are the notes/summary from the lectures of the first segment of the course titled “Contemporary Scandinavian Film and Television Culture: Main Trends”. This was Professor Ib Bondebjerg’s lecture

Scandinavian cinema and the welfare state

  • All Scandinavian countries have a quite strong and diverse production of film and television genres.
  • And national audiences tend to like the film and television they get.
  • Sweden has 9.5 million inhabitants, Denmark 5.6 million, Finland 5.4 million and Norway 4.9 million.
  • Europe is fragmented, USA is a unified and very firmly organized market with a strong tradition for international distribution. Smaller nations, such as the Scandinavian, cannot produce films on the budget American films can.
  • All Scandinavian countries also produce proper main stream genres. But only the national audiences watch them.
  • We are known for our auteurs, for our contribution to the social and physchological realism, for putting existential and social problems on the agenda.
  • Perhaps some form of Scandinavian design is also visible in the film and television products we export successfully.
  • Scandinavian countries are characterized by being highly developed welfare states. A core value is to secure equal opportunities for all; social solidarity and security.
  • People in the Scandinavian countries pay a relatively high tax, but as a result of that, many things are free. Health service, education and also many cultural offers.
  • The welfare state doesn’t eliminate market forces and free enterprise. But the collaboration between the public and the private sector aims at securing the individual in the best possible way.
  • Public support for cultural production in general and for film and television has a prominent place.
  • As early as 1917, Norway established a municipal public cinema system. And in the 1930’s, some countries established public funded film support.
  • National Film Institutes, in Sweden, in 1963, in Denmark in 1972, and in Norway in 1988.
  • In a small country with between 5 to 10 million people film production companies cannot survive without some public support.
  • We need to make sure that the films made, cover different genres, drama, comedy, historical films, documentary film, children’s films, et cetera.
  • American films clearly dominate in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.
  • If we look just at the film history of Scandinavia, it is in fact rather unique, that such small nations have contributed to so much, to the world film history.
  • Before movies began to speak and language barriers became a problem, especially Denmark and Sweden had a strong voice in world film culture.

Scandinavian cinema: trends and international impact

  • American films have become a kind of global, mass culture for all audiences all over the world. Even in America, we find an independent film culture. The global American dominance has been a fact since the 1930s.
  • But in the silent era, Scandinavian film, and especially Danish films were much stronger in the world film culture.
  • Between 1907 and 10, Nordic Film produces no less than 560 films. Films of around five to fifteen minutes each.
  • Asta Nielsen one of the biggest stars.
  • But what really started the Danish international film adventure was the development of the long film, thirty to forty-five minutes. A major breakthrough with especially social and erotic melodramas, like The White Slave Trade, The Abyss, or the Flying Devils.
  • For a short period between 1910 and 1920, Danish and also Swedish silent cinema had a strong world position. Not just with artistic auteur films but with films covering all genres.
  • The First World War and the following years paved the way for the global American era.
  • Around 1970, all Scandinavian countries had developed the system where public support for films supplemented the still very important role of pirate production companies.
  • In Scandinavia very few films since the 1980s have been made without some sort of public support.
  • A number of films can be very popular with a national audience but never shown outside its own country of production. Whereas other films can have a much broader international profile, even without necessarily having a big national audience.
  • Of the 40 Danish films from those 2009-10, two films stand out as having an international strong profile: Susanne Bier’s In a Better World from 2010 and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, from 2009
  • The number four on this list, My Sister’s Kids In Jutland, is only nationally financed and only has a national audience.
  • The auteur is definitely an important international brand for Scandinavian cinema. World audiences hardly expect to find blockbuster movies from any of these countries. The Millennium Trilogy in 2009 is an exception.
  • The very concept of auteur was coined by the French and the European New Wave film generation of the 1960s: opposition to the American form of filmmaking.
  • This young generation of film makers, for instance, Jean Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Francois Truffaut wanted films that were original, based on life, not literature, and where the director was in artistic control.
  • Some of their icons were Scandinavian, like Carl Th .Dreyer and Ingmar Bergman. Directors that redefined the language of cinema.
  • A group of Danish directors launched Dogme 95 in Paris where also the first attack on mainstream cinema took place.
  • Inspired by the new wave generation, Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg called for a new kind of international cinema. To bring cinema back to its artistic roots and engagement with reality.
  • Creating alternatives to the global mainstream cinema: Lukas Moodysson, the harsh global, Swedish, realist; Norwegian European art cinema director Bent Hamer who makes humorous images of life in Norway in Kitchen Stories; Finnish Aki Kaurismäki, with his portrait of Finnish life in, for instance, Drifting Clouds.

Scandinavian television culture

  • Scandinavian television is dominated by pubic service stations, or PSB stations
  • The Danish PSB main station DR started to broadcast in October 1951 and was followed in 1956 by the Swedish SVT, in 1958 by Finnish YLE and in 1960 by Norwegian NRK.
  • Paid by the tax or license fee and not by commercials: independent of commercial interests and of the state and the political system.
  • Obligation to serve all parts of the population and develop programs that cater to all sorts of taste, including minorities.
  • Danish law:
    • 1. to secure a broad variety of programs and services, including news, information, education, art and entertainment.
    • 2. to secure quality, versatility, and diversity.
    • 3. to secure freedom of information and speech and impartiality and objectivity.
    • 4. to secure special obligations towards Danish language and culture.
    • 5. to secure a broad representation of art and culture, reflecting the diversity of cultural interests in the Danish society.
  • In Finland: first commercial channel in Europe: MTV3 in 1957.
  • Dividing its PSB channels into several
  • In the 1980s: a dual system of commercial and PSB television
  • Since 1990 the number of television channels in Scandinavia has exploded.
  • Long tradition for both Scandinavian and European collaboration and co-production of television.
  • NordvisionNordvision was established in 1959, to further co-production and collaboration between the Nordic countries. And in 1990, the Nordic Film and Television Fund grew out of this cooperation between the Nordic countries.
  • A similar development can be seen on a European level, where the European Broadcasting Union, EBU, was formed already in 1954,
  • This year the European Union gathered all its cultural and media programs under the name Creative Europe.
  • Much more than cinema and film, television drama has been important in gathering the nation in front of the screen. E.g. the Danish series in 24 parts, Matador, broadcast for the first time from 1978 to 1981 on DR. An instant success with a huge Danish audience. One episode was seen by 3.6 million in Denmark, out of a population of 5.5 million
  • Historical drama series on television often get very high viewing figures. E.g. In Sweden, for instance, Jan Troell’s series The Emigrants and New Land from 1971 to 2
  • Television can gather the nation, and create a feeling of being together of a national community
  • Strong television; e.g. Ingmar Bergman challenging series Scenes from a Marriage, one to six, from 1973. By showing us the tearing apart of a marriage this series challenged its audience. In 1982 Bergman did it again with Fanny and Alexander.
  • Lars von Trier in 1994 released all his talents onto television, the result was a gorgeous genre mix called The Kingdom, where thriller, ghost story, satire and comedy met the supernatural.
  • Danish television drama, is experiencing an unprecedented international success. But also, Swedish crime series are popular abroad, e.g. Wallander
  • But Danish television drama, since 2000, has received five Emmys: crime series Unit 1, romantic comedy series Nikolaj and Julie, crime series The Eagle, political thriller series The Protectors, historical biopic on Hans Christian Andersen. The Killing furthermore won the BAFTA prize for the best foreign television drama.

 

* This blog entry is part of my series on the “Scandinavian Film and Television” course I am taking.