Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That's What I Said...Booby Traps

How can I resist!

Phish Summer Tour 2012 Announcement from Phish on Vimeo.

Jonathan Fishman, you are the one and only.

And in case you had a jonesing due to the blog title post...

Music in Preschool

If you haven't yet caught Portlandia, here is your chance, you music lovers with young children!

Fine, it's a lot of punk references (and as you might know I am into classic rock and jam bands), but it is too funny to hide from you.

Did you catch the recent profile of Carrie Brownstein in The New Yorker a few weeks ago?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jan Berenstain, 88, Co-Creator of Berenstain Bears, Passes Away

The wife of the husband-wife duo that created the beloved childrens book series The Berenstain Bears, which teach about ethics and morals, has passed away at the age of 88.

Further to my discussion of the Berenstains a few weeks ago, research revealed that the Berenstains were secular and the books they wrote for most of their career were based on their secular ethical values.  Jan was a Christian and Stan was a secular Jew.  Their son Mike became closer to his Christianity and, in 2008, signed a deal with a publisher of Christian books for spiritual and faith-based books.  So, that explains what I saw in the supermarket that day.  I was pleased to know there was no hidden message (since, well, I am Jewish) in the books my sister had as a little girl.

Why was I even registering the Berenstains a few weeks ago, and why did I blog about them?

May Jan and Stan Berenstain now enjoy life together in Gan Eden (garden of eden).  Baruch dayan emet (blessed is the truthful ruler).

From the LA Times obituary:  Jan Berenstain displays a copy of the first book, left, that she and her husband, Stan Berenstain, created and their second book, which was the first to actually call the characters Berenstain Bears. (Mel Evans/Associated Press/January 25, 2011)

Paradise Isn't That Home Across the Road

Always being thankful looking for the good I have in my own life is something I am constantly striving towards.  And worrying about my own daled amot (life's sphere).  I heard this idea reflected in a tune this morning at the gym.

"Well, the moral of the story
The moral of the song
Is simply that one should never be
Where one does not belong
So when you see your neighbor carryin' somethin'
Help him with his load
And don't go mistaking Paradise
For that home across the road."

-Bob Dylan, "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest."

Thanks for the reminder, Bob, Jerry and Dave.

Vitamin H...Kind of Like an Amp Goes to 11, But It Works!

You've heard about Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin E...

but Vitamin H???

I bought this duty free in Tegel Airport duty free a few years ago

My nails are feeling a little brittle.  Cuticles are peeling.  I broke out my shmancy Bio-H-Tin Nail Cream (nagelcreme) that I bought in Germany a few years ago, and my cuticles have relief.  What exactly is Vitamin H, anyway?

It is actually called Biotin, and is a complex B vitamin.  According to this online medical dictionary, it no longer goes by the name Vitamin H.  It is a "colorless, crystalline, water-soluble B complex vitamin that acts as a coenzyme in fatty acid production and in the oxidation of fatty acids and carbohydrates...Rich sources are egg yolk, beef liver, kidney, unpolished rice, brewer's yeast, peanuts, cauliflower, and mushrooms." 

The University of Maryland states  "very weak evidence suggests that biotin supplements may improve thin, splitting, or brittle toe and fingernails," but I applied the cream directly to the cuticle, and I feel a difference already.  So, if you want to just chalk it up to psychological effects, so be it.  Anyway, there are a whole host of things that exist in nature, help people get better, and yet have no scientific evidence to back up the proof.  If it works, I use it. Sorry, Terps, you guys can't convince me.  Or German skin care professionals, evidently.

When I heard about Vitamin H, of course I thought, wait, this is going like to the next level, but in a good way.  Sure, I have heard of Vitamin K, but only for its controversial use in newborns.

And going to the next level is classic Spinal Tap.

Obviously Rob Reiner and Christopher Guest don't want folks to embed this clip, since every single clip of the Amp scene that goes to 11 on YouTube of this scene is disabled, so I ask you, dear reader, to click any of these links and you will see the awesome scene.  C'mon, Rob, why are you being such a meathead?

Vitamin H not only goes to 11 but if you take out the little horizontal line in the letter, it actually IS ELEVEN!!!  You do know that I love the 11:11 phenomenon, right?

Since I referenced the Maryland Terps, which is an abbreviation for their mascot the Terrapins, at least I can leave you with a classic Terrapin Station by The Grateful Dead.  Jerry and his friends haven't disabled any embedding, and that plays to the spirit of the band, which always was about sharing.

And, Rob Reiner, I apologize for relying too obviously on your past by calling you a meathead for not allowing video embedding by the little folk like me who take time out of their busy schedules to write their blogs.  I am sure you are a great guy.  Maybe you will enjoy this Meatstick from last year as a peace offering.  And for any of you who kept reading to the end of this lengthy blog (make yourself known with a comment below!), I reiterate that I am not writing a Phish blog

Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter is Almost Gone, But Not Snowglobes

With winter almost gone, and all this talk about Austria, Christopher Plummer and The Sound of Music, there is no time like the present to talk about a beloved object of many that never goes out of style:

The Snow Globe.

The New Yorker had a funny article a couple of months ago about school cancellations in the winter.  It was accompanied by this illustration, which got me thinking it is about time I talked about snow globes and what I learned about them on a trip to Vienna a few years ago.

 They are called schneekugeln in Austrian.

That might look foreign to you, dear English speaker, but think about it:

Schnee:  snow
Kugeln:  mixed up

Like, a kugel you might eat be it noodle, potato, apple, is a mixture of a lot of ingredients.  When the snow gets shaken inside a snow globe, it gets all mixed up.  See, German isn't so hard!

According to its Wiki entry, snow globes were founded in France around the turn of the last century.  I find that hard to believe, after having visited what is purported to be the original snow globe factory, owned by Edwin Perzy III, in Vienna.

Mr. Perzy showed me around his factory and showroom, and told me that it is because of Vienna's high quality water that the snow globes produced there work so well.  This is a family business, and they have special-made snow globes for big events like President Clinton's inauguration.  The little figurines inside get outsourced to small home-based artisans.  Mostly everything used in the snow globe's production is Austrian-produced (I forget to be sure, but I believe is either the glass globe or the black base that is produced in Belgium)

I bought one for my daughter based on an Austrian fairy tale.  A poor girl goes out to the mountains and everything she touches turns to gold.  So, in this snow globe, the snow is gold flakes.  I have yet to find out the name of the fairy tale.  Mr. Perzy told me but I didn't write it down.  Austria is a small place so it's not like this story is a Barnes & Noble best seller.

This is the one I brought back for my daughter.  Unfortunately, the other two I brought back were used as baseballs by my then-2 year old, and he smashed them to the floor.

I wonder why the Wikipedia entry doesn't mention the Austrian connection.  I imagine that the Perzy family is hard-working and they don't have the time or interest to correct the Wiki entry.  I do know that if you look at any well-made snow globe these days and flip it over and see it is Made in Austria, you will know you are getting an original.

The Snow Globe selection was immense!

Why does any of this matter, you ask?

 Because I seek out truth and knowledge, and I feel good knowing that I was where it all started!  And now you know one more piece of trivia.  Who knows, if you meet Bill Clinton one day, you can ask him all about his schneekugel.

I took a subway and a street trolley to get to this off-the-beaten track location in Vienna, and boy am I glad that I went!  Next time you are planning to visit Vienna, give them a visit!

Original Vienna Snowglobes
Schummanngasse 87
A-1170 Vienna
0043(1) 486 43 41-9

And remember, folks, I received no payment for this review.  I just wrote it because I wanted to!  But if the Perzy family wants to send me a thank-you with a schneekugel as a token of their appreciation, I won't say no.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Edelweiss Pays Off

Congratulations to Christopher Plummer on his first Academy Award!

I still haven't seen the film The Beginners, but I did blog about a book I received over New Year's based on the film and I am forever grateful for this limited edition art book which I was told was given to me because I knew a thing or two about culture and stuff like that.  I was pretty flattered.

Did you know that Austrians get a real kick out the fact that many Americans think that Edelweiss, which Plummer sang in "The Sound of Music," is a national Austrian folk anthem?   As a child, my friend Rachel's dad Larry used to sing that one at their shabbat dinner table and on long drives up to their family's farm house.  Good times, good times.

One day I will share here some of the other things I learned on a trip to Vienna a few years ago.

Until then...

 And from the Golden Globes about a month or so ago