Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yikes! I've been tagged!

As if I haven't already revealed enough about myself in the less than two months I've been blogging, Amanda of the very wonderful, No one should see this (aka Another Wasted Love Story) tagged me. Being tagged, it seems, requires that one reveal six things about oneself, and in turn tag an additional six bloggers to do the same.

I was similarly so-bestowed by Babyrocasmama, who lauded my blog along with eight others, and in turn requested that I do the same to another group of eight. Since I don't actually know eight other bloggers, but am familiar enough with six, I have decided -- if not merely by default -- to lay it on them.

This should be interesting:

1.) I still have a once pink-and-white/now faded-and-of-indeterminable-hue stuffed something or other (I think it was meant to be a dog) I received one Christmas/Hanukkah at the age of three from wonderful friends and neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Schell. I named it Prunella Marshmella. This makes Prunella 45-years-old come next month, which is about as perimenopausal as any plush toy can ever possibly hope to reach.

2.) I believe that of all things in life, one can never have enough bathrooms. I have five.

3.) I believe that diamonds really are a girl's best friend, and at the bank keep a safe deposit box the size of a morgue body vault to prove it (well, not really that big, but almost). However, all I wear almost every day is a watch and a Native American wedding band of silver, and once in a while, a pair of earrings.

4.) When I was 11 or 12, I became close friends with a rag mop my mother kept by the back door. I named her Sharlotta, and had many heart-to-heart talks with her, even after my brother found out and told everyone. I was loyal to the end, or at least until my mother started using a sponge mop.

5.) I slept with a nightlight until I was 26-years-old -- the same year I finally "ran away" from home.

6.) I'm terrified of being homeless. But not so terrified that I would ever live in my mother's house ever again.

I now pass this on to Will, Nancy, Babyrocasmama, Jeannie, Lynn (who, if she answers, will mark her second post ever, the first one being more than a year ago...go Lynn!) and Tara. (Actually, I just realized Babyrocasmama is exempt, because she actually fulfilled this task before she tagged me.) In any case, this is a very diverse group, which you will find out should you dare click on their names.

Ready, set...tag, you're it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My daughter, snarkmeister

I realize that, as a parent, I am probably in the minority when I say that I actually enjoy my children's sarcasm. Not when it's delivered in a sullen or cutting way and directed at me, of course, but when they come up with some clever and totally off-the-cuff remark, my heart practically bursts with pride. I may still reign supreme, but I wouldn't be all that surprised if one day my scepter passes to my daughter, Emma. She's 12-years-old and in middle school; not an easy time, neither for her, nor for me. But we'll get through it all.

Whether she acquired this sarcastic prowess environmentally or genetically, I couldn't say, but damn if she doesn't come up with zingers that do me proud. Certainly, she needs to learn -- and is, in fact, learning -- to know the when and where of it all, as well as the to whom, because it isn't always appropriate, and certainly not always appreciated.

Although she knows that I started a blog, I wasn't all that certain she had actually ever looked at it. Let's face it -- your mother's random ramblings can't exactly compete with the lure of Facebook, or the contents of one's iPod. This afternoon, though, I mentioned to her that I had redesigned my blog a bit, and casually asked if she had ever seen it.

"Oh -- you mean your menopause blog?" she answered. "Yeah, I've seen it."

And that was the end of that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mesmerized by Zims

Okay -- obsessed, really. Ever since I found the album cover featured on the soon-to-be-released book, And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of our Vinyl, and learned that the Mike Bradyberg-like dad was and still is, in fact, a fairly well-known cantor in the New York City area named Sol Zim, I have spent much of my leisure time (of which there is admittedly an excess) searching for more photos of him and his lovely family.

It turns out that Sol Zim (whose real surname is Zimelman; perhaps it sounded too Jewish?) has recorded (and posed) not only with his wife and sons, but also recorded as one half of a duo, The Brothers Zim. His brother Paul is also a cantor. Their mother must have been so proud! (I suppose I shouldn't assume she exists only in past tense, but judging from recent photos I've seen of Solly-boy, his mother would have to be somewhere in the neighborhood of...hmm, I don't know, 112?)

Both separately and together, the Zims recorded a pretty impressive number of albums, if even for a somewhat narrow audience. Keeping in mind that today virtually anyone can record an album or publish their writing without much, if any, cost or need for representation, I'd have to say that these two guys did pretty well for themselves.

I leave you now with the psychedelic image of The Brothers Zim forever imprinted upon your traumatized cerebral cortex.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bagels and synchronicity?


After posting earlier this afternoon, I continued looking for more information on Irving Fields and came across an article and other links to this book -- And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of our Vinyl -- which is scheduled to be released in a mere two days!

The cover photo looks like every Bar Mitzvah ever held during the 1970s. Dig the gangsta Star of David, three-piece polyester threads and Jewfro on dad! The Shirley Jones/Mother Partridge-inspired coif on mom! And the sons -- what catches! It's almost a given that a few years later, at least one of the two -- much to the delight and kvelling of his parents -- surely added initials to his name, most likely "MD," "CPA" or the lowercase and always subtle "esq."

The book features album cover art collected by the authors, Roger Bennett and Josh Kun, which they bravely hunted down at garage and estate sales in the wilderness of Boca.

I can't wait to read it.
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Update: It seems that Bennett and Kun were among the masterminds responsible for the re-release of Irving Fields' Bagels and Bongos and it, along with other recordings, can be found at their website, Reboot Stereophonic. More information about, and a whole lot of cover art from, some of the albums featured in their book can be found at Hippocampus Music.

Bagels and WHAT?

For some reason, this album popped into my mind today. That isn't to say that it doesn't show up there from time to time, along with assorted otherwise bygone detritus, but the sight of trays and trays of bagels set up in the social hall of our synagogue -- also my son's Hebrew school -- definitely brought it to the forefront.

My father, a Slovak by birth, loved Latin music and had quite a collection of records, from Celia Cruz to Xavier Cugat. He also enjoyed traditional Jewish liturgical music, and had several recordings by Jan Peerce. Klezmer was another love -- as it is mine -- although it wasn't known to the general population to the extent that it is today. And then there were the less traditional, but still Jewish-influenced artists -- such as The Barry Sisters.

The album I will always remember him most by, though, is Bagels and Bongos by the Irving Fields Trio, as well as the followup album, More Bagels and Bongos by the Irving Fields Trio. Irving Fields, whose surname, I had surmised, was anglicized from the German "Feld," fused Latin and Jewish tunes and rhythms in an unusual, but very listenable way. His album was frequently played on my father's beloved "Wictrola," which he treated with kid gloves and guarded like "Dragula der Wampir" guarded his castle. (He treated his cameras -- a Leica still and a Bolex 8mm with turret lenses -- with the same veneration.)

So, inspired by this sudden memory upon me, I decided to google Irving Fields, and learned that his album had been re-released back in 2005 and, as these things often go, has gained a whole new audience. It turns out that his name was not originally Irving Feld, but Isadore Schwartz. I guess he liked the sound of Irving Fields better than he liked the sound of Irving Black, and I guess I have to agree -- even though anything with "Irving" hardly sounds assimilated. But assimilation wasn't his focus, and for that I am grateful, if not only for his music but for the memories his albums evoke.

You can read about Irving Fields here, should you be so intrigued.