These Final Hours (2013, Australia)

These Final Hours (2013, Australia)What would you do, how would your behavior change if you’d know that you and everyone on Earth would die within a few hours due to an unavoidable catastrophe? Would you let your inhibitions fall down and commit vile acts of abominations no matter how vile society thinks it is? Or would you commit random act of kindness even at the end of the world? The answer may surprise you. This would be the ultimate test of what’s inside you, what kind of person are you at the bottom of your heart. Or find out whether you even have one. Continue reading

Concert videos: The Illumignarly, Standish Hickey, Screaming Mimi’s

Rock n Roll ugly Xmas sweater partyA month ago I went to a concert at Aubergine (now called 755 After Dark) titled “Rock n Roll ugly Xmas sweater party“. This was before Christmas and indeed there were people in ugly sweaters, there was even a competition.  I am proud to say I don’t have such sweater so I was only there as an observer. Four bands played that night, but I missed the first one, The Corner Store Kids. I have a two songs from each of the other 3 bands on my YouTube channel, check out the full playlist. Continue reading

The Giver (2014, USA)

Poster for The Giver (2014, USA)It’s easy to empathize with the obvious lesson of this sci-fi, romance drama: emotions, memory and their interdependence is what makes us human. What I would like to point your attention to is a lesson that is less frequent in movies and books with a target audience and protagonist of teens: what they can learn from elders. The movie’s title is the giver, referring to the older man, who shares wisdom with a young receiver, even though the former gets less screen time. He builds up not just a sense of history and opens up emotions and senses, but by doing so also builds up the receiver’s ego.

Yes, our elders in addition of being vehicle of information and knowledge that can help us understand the world are also mentors, and can shape our very own sense of self. I am in the fortunate situation of being in the middle generation, where I already see that my choices of words, actions and exposure to the wonders of the world that I share with my children will make them become the people they will be, while I finally also have the wisdom to pay attention to folks with more experience and years behind their belts. When I was a teen I was less interested in that. Continue reading

Haldeman: The Accidental Time Machine (2007)

Halderman: The Accidental Time Machine (2007)It was entertaining and left me, the reader, with several notions to ponder upon. It had interesting science with some obviously obfuscated with one. So what’s not to like in Joe Halderman’s The Accidental Time Machine?

You can get the story from many sources, like wikipedia, Amazon or Goodreads, so I will focus only on what I found interesting in the book, including heavy spoilers. It is explicitly about the potential downsides of four things: academia, theocracy,  capitalism and over/abuse of technology. Let’s take them one by one. Continue reading

Films viewed in 2014

It’s the seventh time that I share the list of  movies I watched the previous year:

  • 2008: 153 movies
  • 2009: 140 movies
  • 2010: 142 movies
  • 2011: 243 movies
  • 2012: 210 movies
  • 2013: 204 movies
  • And 2014: 105 movies, see below

Even though the list is probably not complete as I may have forgotten to track every movie, tit is still pretty clear that I watched much less in 2014 than in previous years. Work and growing family are the main reason. Hope I can catch up in 2015.:-) Continue reading

Books read in 2014 (incomplete list)

Below is the incomplete list of books I read (or listened to) in 2014. It is not accurate, because I was tracking my reading inconsistently through the year. (Past list of books I read: 20132010, 2008(The linked titles lead to the particular book at Amazon.)

  1. Az id?utazás napjaBear, Greg, Jay Snyder: War Dogs
  2. Beckett, Samuel: Molloy
  3. Boudinot, Ryan: Blueprints of the Afterlife
  4. Brooks, Terry: The Gypsy Morph
  5. Clarke, Arthur C.: Childhood’s End
  6. Corey, James S.A.: Leviathan Wakes
  7. Doctorow, Cory: Little Brother
  8. Doctorow, Cory: Pirate Cinema
  9. Doctorow, Cory: Homeland
  10. Doctorow, Cory, Charles Stross: The Rapture of the Nerds: A tale of the singularity, posthumanity, and awkward social situations
  11. Gaiman, Neil: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  12. Glukhovsky, Dmitry: Metro 2033
  13. Gould, Steven: Helm
  14. Gould, Steven: Impulse
  15. Gould, Steven: Exo
  16. Hackett, Brandon: Az idoutazas napja
  17. Horn, Dara: A Guide for the Perplexed
  18. Howey, Hugh: Wool
  19. Howey, Hugh: Shift Omnibus Edition
  20. Ingermanson, R.S.: Transgression: A Time-Travel Suspense Novel
  21. Jonasson, Jonas: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
  22. Maleckar, Nicolette: The Lilac Tree
  23. Maron, Marc: The Jerusalem Syndrome
  24. Naam, Ramez: Nexus: mankind gets an upgrade
  25. Rossi, Veronica: Under the Never Sky
  26. Rossi, Veronica: Through the Ever Night
  27. Scalzi, John: The Last Colony
  28. Scalzi, John: The Ghost Brigades
  29. Scalzi, John: Redshirts
  30. Scalzi, John: Lock In
  31. Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman, Yair Hillel Goelman: Ahron’s Heart: The Prayers, Teachings and Letters of Ahrele Roth, a Hasidic Reformer
  32. Szorokin, Vladimir: Hóvihar
  33. Wecker, Helen: The Golem and the Jinni
  34. Weir, Andy: The Martian
  35. Yori Yanover: The Cabalist’s Daughter: A Novel of Messianic Redemption

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in December 2014

I have a blog about Jewish books. Most of the time I post about new books, sometimes about events, book sales or older books. Here is the list of books that made it there during the month of December 2014:

Review of A Movie with Catherine Deneuve

I don’t enjoy movies, or people for that matter, making fun of others’ pain. On the surface “A Movie with Catherine Deneuve“* is not one of films, but if you are like me you get uncomfortable watching this comedy.  For causal viewers it follows an unconventional roadtrip of two friends: men in their fifties who are the opposite of each other. Halperin is shy, hesitant, afraid of decisions and a stereotype of neurosis. Mano, on the other hand seems worldly, loud, outgoing. During the course of their adventures (read the synopsis) though the role of being reluctant goes back and forth between the two of them. As they go through phases of chasing various elusive women they keep switching leadership roles. Continue reading

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in November 2014

I have a blog about Jewish books. Most of the time I post about new books, sometimes about events, book sales or older books. Here is the list of books that made it there during the month of November 2014:

  1. the-synagogues-of-central-and-western-pennsylvania-a-visual-journey-by-julian-h-priesler-book-coverBeyond the Forest: Jewish Presence in Eastern Europe, 2004-2012 by Loli Kantor
  2. Bus on Jaffa Road: A Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice by Mike Kelly
  3. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm
  4. Catch The Jew! by Tuvia Tenenbom
  5. The Cave 4 Apocryphon of Jeremiah and the Qumran Jeremianic Traditions by Kipp Davis
  6. Challah: A Chewish Guide to the Torah by Rabbi Susan Abramson
  7. Choose Light!: Chassidic Tales for Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos, Passover & Shavuos by Libi Astaire
  8. Creation, Covenant, and the Beginnings of Judaism by Ari Mermelstein
  9. Dear Darwish by Morani Kornberg-Weiss
  10. Death by Pastrami by Leonard S. Bernstein
  11. The Early Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings by Dr. Everett Fox
  12. Every Picture Tells a Story, Volume One: Bereishis by Chaim Natan Firszt
  13. A Family of Veterans by Mattityahu Yarom
  14. Four Mothers: Historical Fiction by Shifra Horn
  15. The Gelt Giving Golem by Carolyn Greenwald
  16. The Gender Challenge of Hebrew by Malka Muchnik
  17. GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation by Deborah Dash Moore
  18. God is In My Backpack: A Young Rabbi’s Epic Adventure by Rabbi Ben Tanny
  19. The Innocents by Francesca Segal
  20. The Jewish Confederates by Robert N. Rosen
  21. Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh by Janna Gur
  22. Kuzmino Chronicles: Memoirs of teenage Holocaust Survival by Nathan C. Moskowitz
  23. Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka
  24. Life on the Fringes: A Feminist Journey Toward Traditional Rabbinic Ordination by Haviva Ner-David
  25. Masorah and Text Criticism in the Early Modern Mediterranean by Jordan S. Penkower
  26. The Mitten String by Jennifer Rosner
  27. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen
  28. New York 1, Tel Aviv 0: Stories by Shelly Oria
  29. No Ballyhoo by Mauro Mevlud Martino
  30. Out of the Shoebox by Yaron Reshef
  31. People of the Book: Five Hundred Years of the Hebrew Book from the Beginning of Printing to the Twentieth Century by Akiva Aaronson
  32. The Pomegranate Pendant by Dvora Waysman
  33. The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein
  34. Rivka’s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael
  35. Saxa judaica loquuntur, Lessons from Early Jewish Inscriptions by Pieter W. van der Horst
  36. Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas by Patrick Modiano
  37. The Synagogues of Central and Western Pennsylvania: A Visual Journey by Julian H. Priesler
  38. Three Early Modern Hebrew Scholars on the Mysteries of Song by Don Harran
  39. The Veterans of History: A Young Person’s History of the Jews by Mitchell Silver
  40. Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead

Angry Samoans + 4 bands (Concert videos)

Flyer for Angry Samoans' show in Sebastopol's AubergineI used to go to lots of concerts as a teenager. When I first came to the US in 1990 I was still in that phase and when I learned about a punk club in Berkeley I was happy to frequent it. I’ve seen many bands at 924 Gilman, but don’t remember a lot of them. Somehow, maybe because of their unusual name, Angry Samoans is a band that I know I’ve seen there. So now, 24 years later, when I saw the flyer that they will be playing nearby, at the Aubergine, I couldn’t miss them.

Considering that there were 6 support bands and my stamina isn’t as fresh as a quarter century ago I tried to be as late as I could. I still saw three and a half bands before the headliners. I go there in the middle of Thought Vomit‘s set. I didn’t care for their vulgarity, but I am familiar with the mindset, which dictates that punk equals that. Still I appreciated their energy and classic punk attitude. (I recorded two of their songs.) Next up was Flesh Gordo, more of a hardcore band where the singer was signing in the audience. It  was musically a bit more interesting as you can see from the song I captured. The last local band of the night was No Brainer, which had a local following as the pit became more active. (Check my video out.) Fourth up was Fang from the 1980’s Berkeley scene. They were clearly in a different age and experience group as seen in their mature stage presence. A touch slower, but more melodic. Continue reading