Saturday, April 12, 2003

Perhaps I went a little over the top yesterday. Today though, I will provide a little underwhelming entertainment for anyone who isn't a fan of CURLING . This venerable sport, first captured on canvas in 1565 by Bruegel (Him again!), was formalized by the Scottish peoples in the 1600s. And why not? Pushing really big stones(44 lbs to be exact) across the ice towards a target is both fun and non-lethal, unlike other ice sports.

Instead of watching the Iraqi's looting the achaelogical Museums in Baghdad today (Curse you Bush, sending troops in, and then ONLY PROTECTING THE FLIPPING OIL MINISTRY?!!!), I watched the women's world championship curling finals. It was a showdown between the US and Canada, an already difficult fight, even without the political tension between the two countries. The Americans are a crack team of four young women in training pants. The father of the best player (Debbie McCormick) is the team manager. The Canadians are a tough, middle-aged bunch in field hockey skirts that look like they could seize their opponents by the teeth and tear them to shreds. Their lead player is the curly haired demon from the north, Colleen Jones.

I was watching the Canadian TV station, so you can get the array of commentary I listened to. Canadians usually win. Their team is rock solid. They have a history of coming from behind and creaming the competition. The Americans may be ahead, but that won't last. But they did last. In fact, they played flawlessly in a stadium filled to capacity with Canadians.

For those who haven't watched curling, there's a lot of screaming. "HARD!!" "Whoa!" "Clean, just clean." These are the instructions to the teammates with brooms. Yes, the sport doesn't stop with just throwing the stone, you have to use your brooms to control the stone's curl. Once you let go, the rock takes on a life of its own. And Colleen's rock kept on doing exactly what she didn't want: Missing the other team's rocks. McCormick's rock, on the other hand, curled beatifully around other rocks to take positions closest to the red bull's eye. That's how points are earned. I won't bore you with the details. We won. It rocked.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Hello, faithful followers. I am finally feeling better. And I have found something to write about.

I recieved this email late this evening.

"Essentially it's a chain letter for free underwear -- only no bad luck if you don't follow through! Essentially, I send you a letter with instructions and my name and address, as well as the name and address of the person who sent the letter to me. You buy one (1) pair of underwear for that other person (she's specified desired size and style) and mail them off to her. Then you forward the letter with your name and address to six of your friends. If they follow through and send the letter to six friends, you should end up with 36 pairs of underwear -- for just the price of one and a few stamps. "

umm.. who thought that was a good idea? I just think its scary. I only accept bras by mail.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Hildegard of Bingen rocks my world. I actually hate that expression, but in this case it's appropriate. I stare at the illustrations to her Scivias [or at least the copies of the illustration; the original survived into the twentieth century but was lost in the firebombing of Dresden] and feel literally shaken from the foundations of self. My emotion approaches Emily Dickinson's reaction towards the written word: "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."

In the illumination I am currently trying to comprehend, Hildegard depicts God as a circular flame in reds and oranges, with a blue flame in the center. The blue flame apparently represents Jesus, integrally part of the nature of God the Father. Don't ask me about the theological details; this is an Interfaith Nunnery and I'm Jewish.1 The part that really shook me, though, was the fact that the same flame, or half the circle, appears again at the bottom of the image. I think Hildegard is trying to manipulate time and show several moments in history simultaneously, but it's not what I expect to see... anyway, I am joyfully boggled. There are some kinds of confusion, like the one I am currently experiencing, which approach mystical experience. Hildegard obviously didn't need to approach mystical experience. She just lived there.

1Unfortunately my professor is going to ask me about the theological details. It's a Medieval Art and Theology course, after all. Why don't they ever mean Maimonides or Rashi when they say "Medieval Theology"? Or how about Muslim theologians? I'm sure there were Muslim theologians in the Middle Ages.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

What were you saying, Mother Superior, about March going out like a lamb? It seems that April is coming in like a lion. I'm sorry, I don't think it's right that when I walk outside at 1 in the afternoon on the ninth of April in a temperate zone, my breath freezes.
Yet the hyacinths I left out in the snow the other day (so as not to trigger major allergic reactions in my roommate) seem still to be alive and healthy. I hope your seeds sprout, Mother Iris. Niki, how's the weather in London?

Yesterday I invested a full $30 in photocopying at three different major libraries of New York City. I think I came up with several hundred pages of material for that money, including at least one complete book and four articles, but nevertheless, this is ridiculous...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Welcome, Anchoress Niki, we sympathize with you over the loss of Tim to Dublin. It amazes me to realize I am the only one in our trio who is away from the ivory tower.. I'm taking my hiatus out on the country estate. As I look out the back window, I am surprised by the depth of snow out there. Today I will make little paper pots to start seeds. Its certainly not too late!

I am sick again from yet another icky GI bug. I feel better today though.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Welcome Niki!

I have a snow day today, classes canceled.

It is the seventh of friggin' April!

I'm not going to argue too much though, I can definitely use the time to finish the thesis chapter my advisor wants to have next to her this afternoon.

Devon sounds delightful. The ivory tower... sounds less delightful, but I've been stuck in it for the last several weeks so it's nothing new and cheery to me.

Hmmm, having just been to Devon and Cornwall and experiencing no saffron laden cakes, I am inclined to agree with the honorable Sister Andrea. I sympathize with the need to expell green streaks.......the convent of 38 Temple Fortune, Golders Green, is currently under seige of its landlord Buphendra(known as 'Pip'), computer consultant and avid DIY man. I have been relegated to going to the local pub for the use of the lavatories and for nourishment, as the kitchen is now a workshop for the cutting of tiles, wood and so on. Thus, I am spending more time in that house of sin than ever before and am fearing, together with my innocent housemates, that I will become a corrupted regular and addicted to fish n' chips..

My trip to Devon was lovely and lazy. The wheather decided to act as if it was July ( bright sunshine and warm), quite mad for the time of year. It was lovely to spend a few days with Tim, who has left this morning for Dublin, leaving me to be an anchoress ( for him). Ah, well, such is life. I must now turn my mind to my work, after a week of hedonistic enjoyement and travelling. The ivory tower looms, but I have to admit, that a stay in it will be pleasurable.

Ah, I hear the books calling me know.....

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Some scholars are less rational than others. I offer for your reading pleasure this piece of brilliant logic:

Writers on Anglo-Jewish history from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries have suggested that Jews first visited England in company with the Phoenicians about the time of King Solomon....That there may have been some connection between the inhabitants of Devon and Cornwall and the dwellers on the Palestinian coast line is shown by food habits which they still hold in common. Both areas use saffron in cooking, particularly in the baking of cakes. -Rabbi Dr. Bernard Susser

Since I discovered when flipping around the above-linked webpage that the Rabbi has passed on, I will attempt to be merciful in my commentary. Nevertheless, I do feel obliged to point out that the common use of saffron is not conclusive proof of the arrival of Jews on the island of Britain during the Roman period.

Meanwhile, all my apartment needs is a good priest to prove that it has leprosy. We will have to find a Kohen (hereditary Jewish caste of priests; anyone you know by the name of Cohen almost certainly belongs to the caste) to inspect the greenish streaks on the walls. Now, of course, the cleansing is a messy process involving wood, bird-blood and red yarn, with demolition in the most extreme cases. I suspect they don't actually know what species of bird the Hebrew word belongs to, so the apartment is pretty safe from bird-blood. (Better not to do it at all than to do it wrong, Jewish custom says... we stopped putting blue threads in our tallitot, prayer shawls, because we forgot how to make the specific dye the Bible calls t'cheilet.) That still leaves the green streaks..

No birds have been harmed in the writing of this entry.