Category: Popular Culture

“Dozens of people are gunned down each day in Springfield,but until now none of them was important.” – The Simpsons In the immediate aftermath of the horrific shootings at Sandy…

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From the looks of things I’m not the only one sorely disappointed in LOST’s final episode (LGT spoilers). Now I don’t consider myself one of those annoying sci-fi fanboys who insists that everything line up in accordance with their own fan fiction, but I did consider myself a fan of the show. I liked the writing, the references, the thought and intelligence of the writers in crafting the story, and like many fans I trusted the writers in bringing the story to a logical, or at least reasonable, conclusion.

Now I freely admit I’ve watched bad TV – copious amounts of absolute drivel that LOST’s worst episode could not compare – so I’m in no place to write as a TV snob. But if I’m going to follow an extended dramatic narrative I do have expectations of coherency and consistency, which was sorely lacking in the LOST finale.

Popular Culture

Whoever cites something in the name of the original source brings redemption to the world1

In my religious and academic lives I have an affinity for tracking down the original sources of ideas. Not surprisingly, this trait extends to other areas of geekdom including music. While there are no shortage of cover songs – with more coming every day – there are times when the cover version so completely overshadows the original that only few know whence it came.
In the interests of promoting music education, I’ve collected some of my favorite lost originals.

Popular Culture

During Sefirat Ha’Omer, many Jews observe some customs of morning in memory of R. Akiva’s students. According to Wikipedia:

The period of counting the Omer is also a time of semi-mourning, during which the Halakha forbids haircuts, shaving, listening to live instrumental music, or conducting weddings, parties, and dinners with dancing.

Of course, Halakha does not “forbid” any such actions – in fact the hakahic basis for mourning during the ‘Omer is even more tenuous than mourning during – the three weeks and nine days, but rather they are at best matters of custom.
But even in matters of custom there can be multple opinions. For example, every year I get several e-mails asking about what types of music are permitted during the ‘Omer. Some distinguish between live and recorded music, others avoid music with instruments. While I personally find these distinctions inconsequential since the entire practice is a matter of custom, let it not be said that here at YUTOPIA we are completely intolerant of minhagim. And so in honor of Sefirat Ha’Omer, I’ve decided this year to compile my favorite a capella videos from YouTube.1

Popular Culture

This apocryphal factoid seemed appropriate for Yom Ha’atzmaut. From a 2003 Hadassah article: According to Jewish educator and comics fan and writer Alan Oirich, artist Gil Kane based his design…

Popular Culture

Ex-Roommate Yossi is planning a movie night for the shul. In one of this typically creative ideas he’s arranging for showing at a local theater on Christmas Eve (no word…

Popular Culture

In what should be no surprise revalation to Loyal Readers, I have a bit of an eclectic taste in movies. However, this doesn’t mean that I actually *go* to many in the theater since “eclectic” should never be confused with “bad.” There have been years where I didn’t see any movie in the theater simply because there was nothing interesting playing. For some reason I found myself seeing more movies this summer than I have in many years. So I figured I might as well innaugurate the “Movie Reviews” category with my thoughts on some of this past summers offerings.
There are spoilers abound in this post, so if you’re interested in seeing any of the following movies, you might want to skip this post (also skip A Scanner Darkly while you’re at it).

Popular Culture

Rabbi Josh Yuter keeps a running list of songs he’s personally heard at weddings which are not quite in the spirit of the day.

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Last night’s 60 Minutes covered the psychic talents of mentalist Marc Salem. Most people have heard of him by now as he’s been performing in several shows and appearing on…

Popular Culture