MT VOID 11/27/98 (Vol. 17, Number 22)

MT VOID 11/27/98 (Vol. 17, Number 22)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 11/27/98 -- Vol. 17, No. 22

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-447-3652 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
  Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  732-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
  Rob Mitchell  MT 2E-537  732-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070
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URL of the Week: Does this really need a description? But I will note it has the trailer. [-ecl]

Holidays: (Last week we were talking about how serious Jewish holidays are observed more than the fun ones)

Purim is another supposedly joyous holiday. You read the Book of Esther (in Hebrew--it is your responsibility to know Hebrew so you can enjoy the story). Kids get to play with noisemakers. You have a special pastry, sort of a triangular prune Danish called a Hamentashen. Up to about age seven I think I did get noisemakers. Some day I think I may try a Hamentashen, but I have no memories of ever eating one when I was growing up or since. Groceries carry them now so they are available. But that should give you some idea how the much Jews get into their joyous holidays. Even the celebrating is awkward and frequently it is foregone altogether.

You know how there are activities like egg hunts to get kids in the spirit of Easter? About that time we had Passover which is a happy holiday, presumably. The festivity is really just a couple of special rituals and a restricted set of foods. They call it a festival but Jewish kids it was about as festive as having a doctor put you on a special diet. As I was saying Jews just don't do their happy holidays very well.

There is Jewish New Year. If Jews want fun celebrating a New Year, they wait for the secular New Year. Jewish New Year is a very serious occasion. The first two days you spend half a day praying. Then you have seven days off and then you have the most somber day of the year. You go from sundown to sundown fasting. And fasting for Jews is REALLY fasting. No water, no nothing. You don't even brush your teeth. You spend the whole day in temple where if your mind wanders it is usually to how hungry you are. For your mouth nothing goes in but air and little but prayers come out. Fasting is a lot easier for me as an adult. But when you are nine and ten years and in temple, that day lasts longer than most months. The idea is that you spend the day atoning for sins, praising God, and asking God to fate it that you live another year. When I was growing up there were roughly four and a half billion non-Jews in the world who you could count on would also be fated to live the next year without having gone hungry and spending the day in temple. Statistically, this Day of Atonement seemed to very little affect the likelihood that you would live through the year.

I am told that there are some people who are trying change the approach of the religion, but there were whole generations when the best thing the Jewish calendar could do for you was just not have any holidays or festive occasions for a while.

I am sure that someone will point out that a lot of these are petty complaints. But, you know it is a serious problem. All religions have responsibilities and also have rewards. Judaism for a long time has stressed the responsibilities and skimped on the temporal rewards. Then you had generations of young who were very lukewarm on the religion and very assimilationist. Nominally they were Jewish, but their commitment was very weak. I remember about the time I was in grad school going to temple and hearing one of my father's friends complain that her child was looking seriously at Buddhism. They are looking at all kinds of exotic religions, but not at Judaism. If they want mysticism, they can find that in Judaism. If they want ritual, they can find that also. So why are some, more than we like to admit, Jewish kids looking to other religions? Why do so they want to get out? Why are they going in for Wicca or Buddhism? And this is a question that has bothered me for years. And I don't have the whole answer but I have I think are pieces of an answer.

(And I will go into why next week.) [-mrl]

1998 Toronto International Film Festival: (film reviews and commentary by Mark R. Leeper) (part 8 of 10)

Lunch was at a Korean-Japanese restaurant called Sushi and Noodle. I had something like a Seafood Bebimbap. I like Korean and the names of the dishes really rock.

HOME FRIES (United States)

CAPSULE: Black comedy set in part in and around a burger restaurant that serves French fries not Home Fries. So the title doesn't really work and neither does the film. Drew Barrymore and Catherine O'Hara star. Rating: 5 (0 to 10), high 0 (-4 to +4) Minor spoilers in this review.

We had been planning to get over to the Japan Center to see their display of Japanese film posters in honor of the festival. They had posters for many of the films of the festival plus a number of Japanese films that had been popular in the US and Canada like TAMPOPO and A TAXING WOMAN. The also had a collection of the classic posters of the recently deceased Akira Kurasawa like THE SEVEN SAMURAI, YOJIMBO, SANJURO, KAGEMUSHA, and RAN. Not a big collection but one worth seeing. Sadly, no Kaiju films.

THE IMPOSTERS (United States)

CAPSULE: Roughly 60 years after its heyday, the farce returns. Stanley Tucci wrote, directed, and stars in a very funny movie about two out of work actors on a boat. It is not exactly like Laurel and Hardy, not just like the Marx Brothers, but it is in that vein. And I did laugh, which is rare these days. Rating: 7 (0 to 10), 2 (-4 to +4)