Concert video: Destruction Unit, Gag, White Wards, The Coltranes, Health Problems

Destruction Unit, Gag, White Wards, The Coltranes, Health ProblemsCouple of months ago (on September 3, 2015) I went to another concert organized by Pizza Punx at the Arlene Francis Center, where I didn’t know any of the bands. I tried to check them out online in advance, but you only get a basic impression when you listen to them at bandcamp which often doesn’t com[pare to their sound when live. I’ve already seen The Coltranes once and knew what to expect. Three of the other four bands playing that night (Health Problems, White Wards and Gag) were different varieties of punk, which I like to listen to in general but didn’t find too interesting. The only surprise was the Destruction Unit, “headliner”, who ended up playing something like I used to dream of when I was a teenager: improvisational noisy jazz-punk. Admittedly more punk than jazz, but just the fact that they were not afraid to have long, open-ended songs and include noise as part of their repertoire made them stand out from the lineup. I am glad I took earplugs with me though. I videoed most of the show, see the 4-6 song from each band in this playlist below. This was the first time I had a chance to use my monopod and it was fun, but made the beginning and end of the footage of some of the songs shaky.

Help get one of the best Hungarian sci-fi books translated to English

csodaidokI read all volumes of the Hungarian sci-fi book series Csodaidok (Wondertimes). Almost six years ago , in my review of the first three books I wrote:

I am hoping that the books will be translated into English as I would love to share this treasure with my friends and family. These were the most exciting books I read in Hungarian for some time.

Now the author is running a crowdfunding campaign at IndieGogo and I hope that she will reach her goal. Don’t be shy donating to her, the books are excellent, but if you can’t read Hungarian you would never know.

Read more and contribute here:

Films added in October 2015 to

My Beloved UnclesIn October I managed to add 100 films to Jewish Film Festivals. Some of them are old, others are new. There are shorts, feature films, documentaries and TV series among them. In the list below I used the English title for all them, but many of them are from other countries. the only thing common in them is that they were all shown at one more Jewish Film Festival this year. I hope you will find some interesting one films here:

    1. 10% My Child (2014)
    2. 77:78 On The Map (2015)
    3. Afterthought (2015)
    4. The Age of Love (2014)
    5. Arab Movie (2015)
    6. The Armor of Light (2015)
    7. The Arrest (2014)
    8. Atalle (2012)
    9. Atomic Falafel (2015)
    10. Band of Bowlers (2015)
    11. Beyond the Fear (2015)
    12. The Blaumlich Canal (1969)
    13. The Boys from Porcelain Alley (Die Porzellangassenbuben) (2012)
    14. The Boys of Nitzana (2015)
    15. Breakfast at Ina’s (2015)
    16. By Sidney Lumet (2015)
    17. Crossing The Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus (2014)
    18. Day 40 (2014)
    19. Dégradé (2015)
    20. Dirty Business (2015)
    21. The Disobedient Consul (2015)
    22. Drawing Against Oblivion (Zeichnen gegen das Vergessen) (2014)
    23. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
    24. Einstein in the Holy Land (2015)
    25. Etched in My Body (2015)
    26. Eva Hesse (2015)
    27. Experimenter (2015)
    28. Freak Out (2015)
    29. Gitel (2014)
    30. Grand Hotel (1932)
    31. Guardians of Remembrance (2014)
    32. Hagiga — the Story of Israeli Cinema (2015)
    33. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
    34. His Wife’s Lover (1931)
    35. Holocaust Survivor Band (2014)
    36. How to Win Enemies (2014)
    37. Imaginary Feasts (2015)
    38. In the Footsteps of Regina Jonas (2014)
    39. Jerusalem Boxing Club (2015)
    40. JeruZalem (2015)
    41. The Kind Words (2015)
    42. A Kiss to This Land (1995)
    43. Kisses to the Children/Children in Hiding (2012)
    44. The Kozalchik Affair (2015)
    45. Ladies First (2013)
    46. The Lady With a Movie Camera (2009)
    47. The Last Chance (1945)
    48. The Last Train (1973)
    49. The Law (2014)
    50. Line of Grace (2014)
    51. The Man in the Funny Suit (1960)
    52. The Man in the Wall (2015)
    53. Manhattan (1979)
    54. Meet the Hitlers (2014)
    55. My Beloved Uncles (2015)
    56. My Shortest Love Affair / Ma Plus Courte Histoire d’Amour (2015)
    57. Nan Goldin: I Remember Your Face (2013)
    58. Natasha (2015)
    59. Nichols and May: Take Two (1996)
    60. The Nobelists (2015)
    61. Note (2015)
    62. On the Banks of the Tigris: The Hidden Story of Iraqi Music (2015)
    63. The Other Dreamers (2013)
    64. The Other War (2008)
    65. Papa Was Not a Rolling Stone (2014)
    66. Paris On The Water (2014)
    67. Peacecamp 2015 (2015)
    68. People of the Graphic Novel (2012)
    69. The People vs. Fritz Bauer (2015)
    70. Phantom of Memory (Das Phantom der Erinnerung) (2012)
    71. The Plan of Time (Der Riss der Zeit) (2015)
    72. Pockets of Hope (2015)
    73. The Price of Sugar (2013)
    74. Projections of America (2014)
    75. Rabin in His Own Words (2015)
    76. Red Leaves (2014)
    77. Religions of the World (2008)
    78. Remember (2015)
    79. Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956)
    80. Sabena Hijacking: My Version (2015)
    81. Seed of Life (2014)
    82. Shoah, The Forgotten Souls of History (2015)
    83. Spadina (1984)
    84. Stardust Memories (1980)
    85. A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015)
    86. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
    87. This Night (2008)
    88. Those People (2015)
    89. Till Day’s End (2014)
    90. To Life! (Auf das Leben!) (2014)
    91. Tormus (2013)
    92. Twilight of a Life (2015)
    93. Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt (2015)
    94. Wandering Rabbi (2014)
    95. What Cheer? (2014)
    96. What Doesn’t Kill You (2015)
    97. Where is Elle Kari and What Happened to Noriko-san? (2014)
    98. The Window Doctor (2015)
    99. Yitzhak Rabin: a Soldier Devoted To Peace (2015)
    100. Zelig (1983)

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in October 2015

Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community by Ron WolfsonI 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 October 2015:

  1. 94 Maidens by Rhonda Fink-Whitman
  2. Akiva: Life, Legend, Legacy by Reuven Hammer
  3. Auschwitz #34207: The Joe Rubinstein Story by Nancy Sprowell Geise
  4. A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin
  5. Between Gods: A Memoir by Alison Pick
  6. The Columbus Code by Mike Evans
  7. The Crime and the Silence by Anna Bikont
  8. A Damaged Mirror: A story of memory and redemption by Yael Shahar and Ovadya ben Malka
  9. The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen
  10. Everyone Has Their Reasons by Joseph Matthews
  11. The Feet of the Messenger by Yehoash (Solomon Blumgarten)
  12. From the Banks of the Rhine to the Banks of the Mississippi: The History of Jewish Immigrants and their Individual Stories by Anny Bloch-Raymond
  13. Hebrew of the Late Second Temple Period by Eibert Tigchelaar, Pierre Van Hecke
  14. Here and There: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family by Chaya Deitsch
  15. Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith by Heidi B. Neumark
  16. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
  17. The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor
  18. In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust by Dan J. Puckett
  19. Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds by Kenneth Wishnia
  20. Jewish Responses to Persecution by Leah Wolfson
  21. Jews and Christians in Denmark From the Middle Ages to Recent Times, ca. 1100-1948 by Martin Schwarz Lausten
  22. Judaism as Philosophy: Studies in Maimonides and the Medieval Jewish Philosophers of Provence by Howard Kreisel
  23. Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson
  24. Kvetching and Shpritzing: Jewish Humor in American Popular Culture by Joseph Dorinson
  25. Michael Fishbane: Jewish Hermeneutical Theology by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Aaron W. Hughes
  26. Musical Exodus: Al-Andalus and Its Jewish Diasporas by Ruth F. Davis
  27. My Father’s Guitar & Other Imaginary Things: True Stories by Joseph Skibell
  28. The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel
  29. The Name of God in Jewish Thought: A Philosophical Analysis of Mystical Traditions from Apocalyptic to Kabbalah by Michael T Miller
  30. Nine Dancers of Light by Shannon Silverstein
  31. No Mission is Impossible by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal
  32. Okay, So Look: A Humorous Retelling of the Book of Genesis by Micah Edwards
  33. Paleo Kosher: 18 Easy Diet Cooking Recipes for Fast Weight Loss, Energy Boosting, and Better Health by Alf Forrman
  34. Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli by Ted Merwin
  35. The Peace Process: A Novella and Stories by Bruce Jay Friedman
  36. Peggy Guggenheim: The Shock of the Modern by Francine Prose
  37. A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding
  38. Politics, Faith, and the Making of American Judaism by Peter Adams
  39. Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community by Ron Wolfson
  40. Roman Vishniac Rediscovered by Maya Benton
  41. The Sea Beach Line by Ben Nadler
  42. Searching for Bubbe Fischer: The Path to Mah Jongg Wisdom by Karen Gooen
  43. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  44. Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18 Berlin by Dina Gold
  45. The Strangers We Became by Cynthia Kaplan Shamash
  46. Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert
  47. TheUnfinished Diary: A Chronicle of Tears by Rabbi Chaim Yitzchok Wolgelernter
  48. The War Scroll, Violence, War and Peace in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature by Kipp Davis, Kyung S. Baek, Peter W. Flint, and Dorothy M. Peters
  49. The Wayward Moon by Janice Weizman
  50. Where You Go, I Go: The Astonishing Life of Dr. Jacob Eisenbach, Holocaust Survivor and 92-year-old Full-Time Dentist by Karen McCartney
  51. Winegarden by Anthony Ferner
  52. Winning the War of Words: Essays on Zionism and Israel by Einat Wilf
  53. Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen by Vincent Brook, Marat Grinberg

More or less 40 days without more or less sugar

SugarI stopped eating refined sugar on September 1. I’ve known for a long time vaguely  that it is not good for my body, but what prompted me to do so was this article in Fast Company. This explained to me that (over)consuming it is not just relates to weight and metabolism issues, but also affects the brain, including cognitive abilities. I think of myself as being good in that area so I decided I want to keep it that way by giving up refined sugar for an indefinite time.

I ate sugar knowingly only 4 days in the last 40 days, including a wedding and a birthday. (The two other days I just couldn’t capitulated to the craving.) But not once in the last 20 days. Even on the other days I might have had some trace amount of sugar. E.g. I had ketchup the first week, as I forgot that it contains sugar and more recently ragu for my pasta. Now I know better.

The article mentioned that the withdrawal syndromes would be the worst between day 2 and 6.  Knowing this was a double edge sword. On one hand it prepared me for the worst. On the other hand maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, because indeed, those days I could barely think of anything else than sugar. But now that time period is way behind me I feel much better. I still crave it quite often, but not that bad. Easy to resist, just need to think of my personal fear of addiction to other kind of drugs.

Some people who were aware of my sugarlessness asked me whether I feel different. I know that I am not the best person at self-observance, so I couldn’t give them an answer on the spot. Now that I think about it, I think there are 3 parts of the answer:

  1. Yes, my body feels cleaner, but it might be just a mental thing. Either way it feels good.
  2. I still eat sweets in the form of fruits and honey. As a matter of fact my consumption of these increased. Part of the reason for giving sugar was trying to lose weight. That didn’t happen and it might have to do with me having more “natural” sweets and lack of portion control. So I clearly have more work to do.
  3. I feel proud of my accomplishment. I would have never thought that I can do it.  Compared to a certain stereotypical or even the average Americans I didn’t consume that much. E.g. I had one or two sodas a week and not a gallon, like the average (source for the “gallon”). I didn’t drink sugared fruity drinks and usually have 1-3 candy bars a week. (I admit sometimes more). All of that is gone now from my diet.

A final note. I decided to write this little summary after 40 days of (imperfect) abstinence, because 40 days has spiritual/religious significance. Moses was on Mount Sinai (working on the Ten Commandments with God, see Exodus 34:28), Jesus was in the wilderness (and got tempted by Satan, e.g. Matthew 4:1-11), Muhammad prayed and fasted for the same amount days in a cave. I am not comparing myself to them (or my tribulations to theirs), just borrowed the idea of forty days from these traditions. However I will keep not eating refined sugar, albeit won’t stick to it religiously. Every once in a while, on special occasions, I won’t deny myself from it.

RIP Árpád Göncz and László Lugosi

Árpád GönczTwo famous Hungarians passed away today, that I know of. Árpád Göncz was the president of Hungary for ten years, between 1990 and 2000. Before, and possibly more importantly, he was a writer and translator. Some of his notable translations include E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime,  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and many more. As the commentators and obits mention He might have been one of the last politicians in Hungary who was respected and even liked across the political aisles.

László LugosiLászló Lugosi was the guitar player in the band called Beatrice. It’s a famous/infamous band with a rich history, see the linked wikipedia page. One of the first LP’s I ever got, probably when I was around 13-14, had 4 songs from by them. I listened to it repeatedly and that probably influenced me quite a bit in my formative years. The song below has Lugosi’s signature guitar sound. After the video I share the lyrics in Hungarian and my attempt of a translation. The song is called “Meditation” and a good one to reflect upon passings.

May the memory of both of them be a blessing.

Ha elnémul a város, oly magam vagyok
és egyedül sokszor rámtör; a depresszió,
Ó, nem, ó én nem tudom, hogy ki vagyok
Minek születtem választ nem kapok.
Mond miért él az ember és hol van a cél?
… és tényleg van-e Isten, mely bennünk él?
Ó nem, ó én nem tudom, hogy ki vagyok
Minek születtem választ nem kapok.
És sokszor sírnom kellett, ha nem bírtam már,
a cinizmus mögé rejtem, ha valaki bánt,
Ó nem, ó nem tudom, hogy ki vagyok
Az álarc lehullt, hát itt vagyok.
Ha elnémul a város, oly magam vagyok,
és egyedül sokszor rám tör a depresszió,
egy könny lefolyik az arcomon,
ha elhagy minden; hát meghalok…

When the city quiets down I am so myself
and when alone it often attacks me: depression.
Oh no, oh I don’t know who I am
What was I born for – I won’t get an answer.
Tell me why do we live and where’s the purpose?
… and is there really a God, who lives in us?
Oh no, oh I don’t know who I am
What was I born for – I won’t get an answer.
And I often had to cry, when I couldn’t stand it any more,
I hide behind cynicism, if someone hurts me,
Oh no, oh I don’t know who I am
The mask has fallen, so here I am.
When the city quiets down I am so myself
and alone it often attacks me: depression,
A teardrop runs down my face
If everything leaves me behind, then I die.

Films added in September 2015 to

Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy?In September I managed to add 43 films to Jewish Film Festivals. Some of them are old, others are new. There are shorts, feature films, documentaries and TV series among them. In the list below I used the English title for all them, but many of them are from other countries. the only thing common in them is that they were all shown at one more Jewish Film Festival this year. I hope you will find some interesting one films here:

  1. The Accidental Activist: Whoever Saves a Life… (2015)
  2. The Anarchist Rabbi (2014)
  3. Atlit (2014)
  4. Bess Myerson: Portrait of an Activist (1994)
  5. Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy? (2014)
  6. Casablanca (1942)
  7. TheCelluloid Closet (1995)
  8. Censored Voices (2015)
  9. The Chaos Within (2014)
  10. The Dowry (1969)
  11. Encirclements (2014)
  12. Every Face Has a Name (2015)
  13. Famous Nathan (2014)
  14. Five Broken Cameras (2011)
  15. Free to Be… You & Me (1974)
  16. A Fuller Life (2013)
  17. Good Luck/East and West (1923)
  18. Hebrew Superheroes (2015)
  19. Hefts Gets Screwed (2014)
  20. Here One Day (2013)
  21. TheHidden Spring (2012)
  22. Hirsch (2010)
  23. Imagine… Philip Roth Unleashed (2014)
  24. In The Presence of Mine Enemies (1960)
  25. Irwin & Fran (2013)
  26. It Takes a Shtetl: Leonard Nimoy’s Boston (2014)
  27. Josef et Aimée (2014)
  28. King Of Kensington (1975)
  29. The Last American Virgin (1982)
  30. Laura Adler’s Last Love Affair (1990)
  31. Lemon Popsicle (1978)
  32. The Loner: The Homecoming of Lemuel Stove (1965)
  33. Look at Us Now, Mother! (2015)
  34. Lookout (2014)
  35. Make Me a Match (2013)
  36. Mom and Dad, I Have Something to Tell You (2010)
  37. Phoenix (2014)
  38. There and Here (2014)
  39. Tightrope (2014)
  40. The Train (2015)
  41. Transport XX to Auschwitz (2012)
  42. Very Semi-Serious (2015)
  43. Women in Sink (2015)

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in September 2015

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 September 2015:

  1. All About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline WiklerAll About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler
  2. The Ambassador by Yehuda Avner and Matt Rees
  3. Avigail by Chana Zauderer
  4. Black Earth by Timothy Snyder
  5. The Colors of Israel by Rachel Raz
  6. Days of Awe by Lauren Fox
  7. The Debate Over Jewish Achievement: Exploring the Nature and Nurture of Human Accomplishment by Steven L. Pease
  8. Forever Torn by Jason Greenfield
  9. Gersonides: Judaism within the Limits of Reason by Seymour Feldman
  10. The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner
  11. Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times by Anne C. Heller
  12. High Holiday Porn: A Memoir by Eytan Bayme
  13. The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
  14. How’s Your Faith? An Unlikely Spiritual Journey by David Gregory
  15. Jewish Spiritual Parenting by Rabbi Paul J. Kipnes, Michelle November MSSW
  16. Jewish Stories of Love and Marriage: Folktales, Legends, and Letters by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Peninnah Schram
  17. King David & Akavish the Spider by Sylvia Rouss
  18. Let There Be Water by Seth M. Siegel
  19. Maimonides the Rationalist by Herbert A. Davidson
  20. The Mental Yentl: Stories from a Lifelong Student of Crazy by Sally Fingerett
  21. Oedipus in Jerusalem by Kalman J. Kaplan
  22. A Of Many Generations: Judaica and Hebraica from the Taube/Baron Collection by David L. Langenberg
  23. On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
  24. Out of Jordan: A Sabra in the Peace Corps Tells Her Story by Dalya Cohen-Mor
  25. Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
  26. ThePeriodic Table by Primo Levi
  27. Renewal: Inspirational Lessons of Rosh Hashanah by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld
  28. The Salt Mine: The Trail of Nazi Blood Money by Patrick Nolan Clark
  29. Saving Sophie by Ronald H. Balson
  30. The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition by Amelia Saltsman
  31. The Secret of Chabad by David Eliezrie
  32. Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde
  33. Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman
  34. Summer Haven: The Catskills, the Holocaust, and the Literary Imagination by Holli Levitsky & Phil Brown
  35. Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Jewish Dynasty by Michael Karpin
  36. Un bon fils (A Good Son) by Pascal Bruckner
  37. Underground in Berlin by Marie Jalowicz Simon
  38. When God is Near: On the High Holidays by Yehuda Amital
  39. White Matter by Janet Sternburg
  40. Why This Black Woman Married a Jewish Man by Nazaree Hines-Starr
  41. Yom Kippur – For Children by Rachel Mintz

Cost and automation of weapons (Lem vs Credit Suisse)

Today’s connection* is between a book and an article.

Stanislaw Lem's science-fiction piece "Peace on EarthOne of the books I am reading is Stanislaw Lem‘s science-fiction piecePeace on Earth from 1987. In it he envisions a future where warfare’s methods, locations and even actors are different. One detail of Lem’s complex vision is that because war machines are becoming more and more expensive only superpowers can afford them and even they only in limited numbers. Another aspect he predicted was that due to the increased pace of automatization “robots” (really, any sophisticated non-human machines) will do the actual fighting and then later will be in charge of strategy too.

As I was taking a break from reading it this article popped up on my screen. It is from Business Insider, summarizing a Credit Suisse‘s research paper titled “The End of Globalization or a More Multipolar World“. It is a fascinating and mostly depressing document. The BI article includes this quote:

“The growing automation sector could lead to robotics warfare, which will lower casualties and the risk to human life. It could also make war seem less costly than it is now, since robots are more replaceable than people.”

Lem’s novel from 28 years ago and the fresh report provides an interesting contrast. They both agree that there will be less humans on the frontlines of war. But they diverge on the cost aspect. Lem didn’t put a figure in his calculation on the value of human life and for him the cost of a few** big machine would result in the overall rise of expenses for war. But if you consider that robots are easier to replace and the cost of production is continuously going down robotic warfare is getting cheaper. That is a scary thought for me because we humans proved that if something is cheap we are more willing to use/abuse/waste it. I wish war would be so expensive that everybody would see that it is such a waste that could be spent better on constructive problem resolution and resource allocation.

*”Connections” are ideas that occur to me as I read books, watch movies and TV shows and sometimes even connect them to current events.

** In Lem’s estimate a superpower would be able to afford on 18-22 of the top of the line war machines, while other none or only a few.