Browsing the archives for the Lily's notes category.


The 34th Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival NOVEMBER 11–14, 2010

Film, Lily's notes

The 34th Annual Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival, held at the AMNH, will screen films chosen from more than 1,000 submissions. The selected films feature exceptional story-telling. The Mead Festival strives to  evolve beyond ethnographic filmmaking and screens innovative films that they hope represent the best in documentary, animation, experimental nonfiction, and archival footage.

The festival is a unique showcase for films that illuminate the complexity and diversity of peoples and cultures around the world, and features  post-screening discussions that include visiting filmmakers and experts.

Films that will have U.S. premieres at the Mead Festival and feature the filmmakers in person following the screenings include

  • Roscoe Holcomb. John Cohen uses intimate footage as well as interviews with family and community members to trace the life of this seminal banjo player’s early years. Roscoe was featured in Cohen’s first film The High Lonesome Sound, which will also be shown during the festival. (world premiere). Cohen will also play live music with his band the Dust Busters at the after-screening discussion.

  • Eisenwurzen: Das Musical (A Mountain Musical). Filmmaker Eva Eckert tells the humorous and fascinating story of how the Austrian tradition of yodeling is carried on in the warbling of an aging population.
  • The Electric Mind. Nadav Harel’s film is an intimate portrait of an octogenarian widow, a middle-aged artist, and a pre-teen girl looking for relief from their brain disorders through cutting edge technologies and “awake” brain surgeries.
  • My Beautiful Dacia. On a road trip from communism to capitalism, filmmakers Stefan Constantinescu and Julio Soto follow different generations of Romanians with one common love: the Dacia car.

  • Nel Giardino dei Suoni (In the Garden of Sounds). Nicola Bellucci tells the extraordinary story of Wolfgang Fasser, a blind musician and therapist who uses sound to initiate dialogues with severely handicapped children, helping them uncover ways to express themselves and find a place in a world not designed for them.
  • Tankograd. Directed by Boris Bertram, the film tells the story of Chelyabinsk, Russia. Once the site of a top-secret Cold War atomic bomb factory, the town is now the most radioactively polluted city in the world. But it’s also the unlikely hometown of a unique cultural institution: the vibrant, inspiring Chelyabinsk Contemporary Dance Theatre.


Special Presentation

The festival will feature a special presentation of the Museum’s collection of original glass lantern slides, some of which were recently rediscovered in the home of a former Museum library archivist. In the 19th century, these unique slides formed the foundation of a popular series of lectures conducted by Albert Bickmore, the Museum’s founder. With over 40,000 original glass lantern slides in the Museum Library’s collection, the breadth of subjects includes landscapes, scientific specimens, and expedition photography. Many were painstakingly hand-painted, and each is a stunning work of art.

  • American Museum of Natural History, on Central Park West,  77th ST -81 St
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Surveying Judy Chicago:1970-2010 at the ACA Gallery

Art, Lily's notes, exhibit

Judy Chicago at the ACA Gallery by Jeff French Segall

Judy Chicago at the ACA Gallery by Jeff French Segall

Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970-2010 at the ACA Gallery is a small exhibit with excellent examples of Ms Chicago’s creative, extensive and very personal works in several media. It is very clear why she has been an important influence in the art world, and for women especially. Her humanist and feminist portrayal of women and their physical essence  stands out as a beacon of light against the usual art world’s women as either pretty (or sometimes “mysterious”) sex objects, or still life dolls.

Ms Chicago delicately explained to the opening attendees, that the lithograph called “The Crowning” referred to the moment that a baby’s head first appears during birth, those us us who have had children needed no explanation, it is probably the kind of piece that makes some uncomfortable, really unfortunately, since it is strong and powerful visual statement.

It is so important to have a woman depict women and their experience of the world.

Judy Chicago has had the outstanding courage to deal with topics such as sexual abuse during the Shoa. For more on this ignored topic, please see Remember The Women Institute and the new, impotant book edited by Sonja M Hedgepeth and Rochelle G Saidel titled SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST JEWISH WOMEN DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

Judy Chicago’s most moving work in this exhibit is her acrylic and oil on canvas called “The Fall”, which depicts a summation of history from prehistoric times through the evil of the Shoa.

I also love her newer work in glass and included in the exhibit is a set of lithographs which are a mini-survey in themselves. There is an example of her “life-saver” paintings, as well.

Ms Chicago commented at the opening, that her art teachers didn’t like her subject matter which at the time was feminine “butterflies” and that they did not like her color choices: they wanted her to become an abstract expressionist. It is a great example of how art schools can have a tremendous damper to creativity…something really new is often not appreciated…But Judy Chicago survived that experience and clearly many more challenges.

She may be best known for her The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum, and this current exhibit has many fine works you should get to know and enjoy by this unique artist and person. Ms Chicago is an author of over 12 books, and her latest book is Frida Kahlo: Face to Face, written with Frances Borzello.

ACA Gallery, October 14, 2010 – November 27, 2010, 529 West 20th Street, 5th floor.


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The New York Finger Lakes- It’s Lakes, Gorges, and Wine

Lily's notes, Uncategorized

We drove from New York city north and west through NY state,  passing through some of the lower Hudson valley, through the Catskills and further up to Ithaca,  about 4 1/2 hours. We  Gothamites forget that most of our state is made up of small towns, mountains, lakes and rivers. We went so far from the city that no one was discussing the proposed Islamic Center…amazing…and a relief.

The Finger Lakes were created by the receding glaciers of about 20,000 years ago. The glacial movement carved out the 11 Finger Lakes from older river banks, and simultaneously created absolutely astounding gorges complete with many many waterfalls.

Watkins Glen State Park by Jeff French Segall

Watkins Glen State Park by Jeff French Segall

Today, the gorges are long narrow state parks which you can walk through either at rim level and/ or nearly at ground level. They are 40 stories of deep, jagged, slashes into the earth, with sides made of layers of slate with trees hanging on to the ledges, and waterfalls, waterfalls and waterfalls, all along their routes. The gorges are cool, breezy and astonishing.

Here is a waterfall map of NY State..pretty amazing.

The water runs NORTH through the gorges, which is a bit disorienting for a Gothamite, until they run into the Finger Lakes which eventually, slowly feed into Lake Ontario.

The Lakes are lovely, with vineyards, farms, and state parks along their shores.

In 5 days we:

explored Cornell campus in Ithaca on Lake Cayuga, a city unto itself with a gorge running right through campus, visited the Cornell Ornithology Lab and walked Sapsucker Woods, enjoyed the Ithaca downtown “mall” filled with restaurants shops and very young students, visited Buttermilk Falls State Park, and Tremon State Marine Park,  Taughannock Falls, visited 2 vineyards, searched for the White White-Tailed Deer of Cayuga ( fat chance to actually see one- the former army base is closed, new housing is there, only a prison is fenced in and it is not recommended to try to search for the white deer there! If you want to know, this is the story: the army fenced in a large area between Lake Cayuga and Lake Seneca, the deer population was trapped, over time white coated deer emerged, about 200 out of a population of 800, here’s link to photos of the white deer, but the info on this site is dated ), and we visited other parks along the Cayuga lake shores.

We drove up to Seneca Falls, through real  farm land, past Amish in horse drawn wagons, tractors on

Lake Seneca Marina by Jeff French Segall

Lake Seneca Marina by Jeff French Segall

the road, cows and sheep and horses, about 40 minutes, and visited the birthplace of the women’s suffragist movement and the very fine Women’s Rights National Park Museum, which tells the story of  how 5 women changed the world. Very special, do not miss this.

We drove to Watkins Glen, about 30 minutes, and visited Watkins Glen State Park,  which is right  in town with a truly awesome, waterfall filled gorge,  visited 3 more wineries and purchased white wine,walked around the marina and watched the sun set on Lake Seneca……

Lake Seneca from Chateau Lafayette Reneau Winery by Jeff French Segall

Lake Seneca from Chateau Lafayette Reneau Winery by Jeff French Segall

We drove south for about 30 minutes to Corning New York and spent a day in the Corning Museum of Glass. If you go to the Finger Lakes region, do not miss this museum. It has a world class collection of  historic glass and the most spectacular collection of modern American and some European Art glass. There are glass blowing demos and a large shop and cafe. My friend who was born upstate in Glens Falls, says that it is not nice to say that this museum should be in New York City.

We returned happy and tired. This is what we could have done more of: fishing, we went to a few wineries but some of you would do more of this, more hanging around the lakes and swimming, and boating.

It is a worthwhile trip. If it were somewhere far away, you would be amazed and tell all of your friends..also, people were friendly, and  took their time to speak with us.

it’s not that far so go and visit….

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Fall Bird Walks in Central Park

Lily's notes, Uncategorized

This hot  summer has slipped away and it is time to enjoy the glorious Fall in in New York City.

Walks Led by Experts from the American Museum of Natural History

Observe more than 50 different species of birds—including resident and migrant birds, water birds, song birds, and birds of prey— during this eight-week bird-watching adventure in Central Park. Join naturalists Stephen C. Quinn (Tuesdays and Fridays), Joseph DiCostanzo (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 am), and Harold Feinberg (Thursdays, 9 am) on tours through the park, one of the premier places locally to watch birds during spring and fall migrations. Participants will learn how to use field marks, habitat, behavior, and song as aids in identification. Interested birders, from beginners to the advanced, are invite

Eight Tuesdays: September 7–October 26, 7–9 am

Eight Wednesdays: September 8–October 27, 7–9 am

Eight Thursdays: September 9–October 28, 7–9 am
Eight Thursdays: September 9–October 28, 9–11 am
Eight Fridays: September 10–October 29, 7–9 am

$85 for eight walks.

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Israeli Comedy and a Moving Personal Portrait

Film, Lily's notes

A Matter of Size, is a fun Israeli comedy, about the revolt of overweight people who find their new positive self-image and self confidence as Sumo wrestlers, yes, Sumo wrestlers in Israel. Sumo is a sport where fat people are honored.

This comedy is so perfectly over the top that we frequently squirmed as we laughed: the scene at a Weight Watchers type meeting led by an hysterical raving critical monster of a group leader was any one’s nightmare! And funny! Sumo wrestlers walking barefoot in their Sumo “diapers” followed by the pe0ple of the small town taking photos with their cells was hilarious.

This film could travel and be enjoyed by audiences here in the US, we  just need  Americans to agree to read sub-titles; it is a well-made comedy.

In contrast, Fiestaremos, is an intimate, moving portrait of  the musician and musicologist, Judith Frankel. This is an American film. Judith Frankel painstakingly researched Sephardic songs sung in Ladino,  by meeting with families and learning their songs, pronunciation and building long-term friendships.

This personal collecting in the field is a  very specialized form of musicology, and Frankel was a fine singer and guitarist, who was able to collect and play these songs beautifully. It was a complete pleasure to be  embraced by this warm and lovely film. The American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House had her excellent CDs on sale and we have been enjoying listening to them.

Fiestaremos and A Matter of Size were both screened at The Sephardic Film Festival of 2010, and illustrate well the spectrum of films which were shown.

This is a small, but fine festival which I would recommend you put on your list for next year.

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ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, “Mary and Max”

Film, Lily's notes

ReelAbilities film festival is a completely unique festival and describes itself as “devoted to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities.

They will screen award winning films in various locations throughout the NYC metropolitan area. Discussions and programs are also planned.

GothamGirl attended the screening of one of the films in this festival which was included in the  recent Jewish Film Festival at the Walter Reade Theater, and if this film  is any indication of the quality of the films in this festival, then select a few to see.

We saw MARY & MAX, a claymated, award-winning,  feature film by Adam Elliot. Claymation is a demanding form of stop-motion animation and this film is a absolutely terrific example of the technique.

New York City, Australia the characters etc, etc are all formed of “clay” and the result is it’s own unique universe of action. If you go to the film’s site, there is a section which shows their behind-the-scenes technique.

It is based on a story of pen-pal  friendship between two very different people; Mary Dinkle, a  lonely, eight year old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44 year old, lonely Jewish man with Aspergers Syndrome, living on his own, coping as best as he can with his situation,  in New York City. We see NYC through his eyes. He is “voiced” by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Mary and Max’s friendship endures for 20 years, and the story explores the nature of friendship, autism, and communication. It also mentions: taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, kleptomania, sexual difference, depression, trust, agoraphobia and more.

Try not to miss this one but please remember that this is a film for adults.

This is a sad film and it is not for children.

Please see the ReelAbilities site for tickets, showtimes, programs and venue.

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Cosmic Ocean Trip at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater

Events, Film, Lily's notes, exhibit

Travel through the  the COSMIC OCEAN at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater at the AMNH with their program: Virtual Universe: The Farthest Reaches of the Cosmic Ocean with Jason Kendall.

The museum says that this is the  world’s largest cosmic atlas, and that we can cruise through intergalactic space, and explore the immense distances between galaxies,  learning about the universe and how it has changed with time. We New Yorkers will just have to accept that the program begins and ends in the Himalayas and not in Manhattan.

Virtual Universe, travels through our solar system and beyond in live, interactive programs that include question-and-answer on the first Tuesday of each month.

A preview is available on YouTube.  Some of the viewers comments on YouTube following the Virtual Universe video are so inane and weird that they seem to map the inner  infinity of the universe of human strangeness, you may enjoy those too.

Tuesday, February 2, 6:30 pm, $15 Adults $13.50 Members, students, seniors

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Live at Martha Stewart Blog Show

Events, Lily's notes

The bloggers who came to be in the audience do not seem to be a political or edgy bunch but are very domestic: mom’s who write about motherhood, grandmothers about their grandchildren, and urban gardening. Many say they hope to promote their blogs, and others hope to receive gifts.

I heard no politicos or discussion about what a blog is, or the effect of blogs on news and society…not in the audience nor on stage.

We were welcomed and treated very cordially, as guests, and it was really fun to attend this show.

The atmosphere  is a very special and refined small slice of mild living. A welcome one hour vacation  from the current reality of terrible world news and problems.

Martha carefully crafted with focus: gluing “left-over” yarn onto decorations…but there is nothing left-over about the show. It is fascinating to watch this relaxed, successful, pleasant woman promote her enterprises.

After the show, and off-camera, Martha took several questions from the audience. Very nice.

A perfectly frosted and sliced piece of cake has been served!

And we all enjoyed it.

Thank you, Martha. You are a perfect host.

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Martha Stewart Blog Show

Events, Lily's notes, Uncategorized

GothamGirl  is fortunate to receive many invitations, most are to film festivals, concerts, art openings, museum shows and restaurants. Recently we were surprised by an invitation from The Martha Stewart show asking us to join the audience  on January 14 in New York City.

The topic is bloggers and blogging, and they have requested that all of the invited bloggers come ready to blog live during the broadcast. This sounded like just too much fun to pass up and I will be there on Thursday all ready to blog live.

Rebecca-Wallace Segall, the founder and director of WritopiaLab will be there as well. The WritopiaLab’s blog is excellent: it is the spectacular work of the young writers of WritopiaLab. Rebecca is the  Scholastic Golden Apple National Award winner (2008 and 2009).

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14th Sephardic Film Festival

Events, Film, Lily's notes

It seems to be film festival season. Don’t mix this festival up with the NY Jewish Film Festival (see previous posts),  the Sephardic festival is the only  annual film festival in America devoted solely to the rich and colorful stories, customs and culture of Sephardic Jewry. Thirteen films, including three American and seven New York premieres will be shown. Also, there are talk backs with directors scheduled.

We always enjoy this festival, especial the variety of countries encountered, the music in the films, Sephardim in the audience greeting each other with warm smiles, and the variety of languages, this year: English, Hebrew, Ladino, Amharic, French, Japanese, Bulgarian, Moraccan, Spanish, etc …Yiddish….. ok, ok,  probably not Yiddish. But some of us are “Ashke-Phardic ” and enjoy all of the possibilities.

Please see The Sephardic Film for screening details and tickets.

Sponsored by the  American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House (ASF) and Yeshiva University Museum. Supported by the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Here is their schedule at a glance.

Thursday
Opening Night
Feb. 4th @ 7:30pm COCO
Followed by Opening Night Reception
Saturday Feb. 6th @ 7:30pm A MATTER OF SIZE
Feb. 6th @ 9:30pm HONOR
Sunday Feb. 7th @1:00pm LÉON- A NEW ENCOUNTER
Feb. 7th @ 3:30pm MASHALA
Feb. 7th @ 3:30pm FIESTAREMOS!
Feb. 7th @ 5:30pm REVIVRE – PART 1
Feb. 7th @9:00pm REVIVRE – PART 2
Monday Feb. 8th @ 2:00pm COCO
Feb. 8th @ 6:30pm ACROSS THE RIVER
Feb. 8th @ 8:30pm SALVADOR: THE SHIP OF SHATTERED HOPES
Tuesday Feb. 9th @ 6:30pm REVIVRE – PART 2
Feb. 9th @ 7:30pm QUEEN KHANTARISHA / AT THE JCC – MANHATTAN
Feb. 9th @ 9:30pm PILLAR OF SALT
Wednesday Feb. 10th @ 2:00pm SALVADOR
Feb. 10th @ 6:30pm AZI AYIMA
Feb. 10th @ 7:30pm HONOR / AT THE JCC – MANHATTAN
Feb. 10th @ 8:30pm QUEEN KHANTARISHA
Thursday
Closing Night
Feb. 11th @ 7:00pm CHILDREN OF THE BIBLE
Followed by Closing Night Reception
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Protektor and Leap of Faith

Film, Lily's notes

Protektor, a film by Marek Najbrt, is a sophisticated, artful and  intelligent film which takes place in Prague during the Nazi occupation. It is an unusually nuanced film which feels truer to what it must have felt like to live through that time period…it is heads and shoulders above the many films produced in a “heroic”, or even worse , the new “vengeful mode” .

The cross currents of the love story intertwined with the severe time period, the ambivalence of some of the characters, and the aspect of chance in life is completely absorbing. Also, this film has a film-within-a-film,  which evokes the films of the 40’s perfectly. The film visually makes reference to art of the 40’s, and is in Czech.

I would put Protektor on my must-see list.

********

Leap of Faith, a documentary About Converting to Orthodox Judaism in America, follows four diverse families, who live in the United States, as they consider conversion to Orthodox Judaism.

Since Judaism does not seeks converts,  those of us who were born Jewish are frequently fascinated by converts to Judaism and want to know a great deal about their attraction, decision, experiences and the reaction of their families. This film will satisfy a some of that interest, without having to be tempted to be rude and actually ask a convert you may know any overly personal questions.   The film examines only a very specific part of the story: converts to Orthodox Judaism in the  US. This particular scope is quite understandable considering that the film-makers themselves are Orthodox Jews married to women who have converted to Judaism.

We meet  a lovely Trinidadian woman raised in a warm religious Christian home.  Her loving family, her story of attraction to Judaism, her personal struggle,  and the reactions and kindness of her supportive family are a lovely example of the best of family values. There is a single mother and her son, an elderly couple, and a once devout Christian family with teenage children who all convert.

All of the families are fascinating to watch. In one family, we meet a woman so upset by the conversation of a relative, that she asks the interviewer “What do you call your religion” and she says that even the name “sounds ugly” to her. Makes you squirm, we really do not expect such a blatant anti-Semitic remark.

The most revealing question of all is never verbally answered: the interviewer asks one of the Hasidic Rabbis involved in the conversions if he would like a child of his to marry a convert.

I left with the feeling that although this is a fascinating and worthwhile film, I had seen only an extremely limited picture of people who convert to Judaism in the US.

These films are included in the current 19th Annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. More details are on the festival site.

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“Eyes Wide Open” (Eynaim Pekukhot)

Film, Lily's notes

Eyes Wide Open (Eynaim Pekukhot) directed by Haim Tabakman opens the viewers eyes, with insight, to see into the attitudes and complications of being gay within the ultra-Orthodox community in contemporary Jerusalem.  There is no possible hiding from the eyes of this community or from ones’ family. No light ever enters this film which could guide a path to acceptance which includes remaining within the community. The attitude towards gayness in this community is not identical with the attitude among ultra-right wing Christians. In the ultra-orthodox community, gayness is not a “sin” but an “evil urge” which should be resisted.

This fine point does not help much at all to relieve an individual’s suffering , especially when you consider how any scandal, shame or any myriad of other problems can have a terrible effect on the future acceptance and happiness of a person’s innocent children and other family members within the ultra-orthodox community.

In Jewish tradition, lesbians are not even mentioned as a possibility, (and therefore sexual relationships between women are not prohibited), and this film makes very little reference to women at all. We meet a long-suffering, kind wife and a young women marrying a man she does not love. We see the face of the extremists of this community and the kindness and caring of others, including the Rabbi.

This is a strong, quiet and painful film, well acted and well made, starring Zohar Strauss and Ran Danker.

In an interview, Haim Tabakman is quoted as saying, “The film can be part of the evolution in the orthodox world”.

Let’s hope so.

This will be shown at the Jewish Film Festival on January 19 (at the Manhattan JCC) and January 23rd (at the Walter Reade Theater). See schedule in my previous post and buy tickets in advance.


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Handel’s Messiah at the NY Philharmonic

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

This is a performance of Handel’s Messiah, not a sing-along, and the soloists, chorus and musicians made it all truly worthwhile. The countertenor, Daniel Taylor was stunning, a clear beautiful voice with such clear diction that one could understand the words as they were sung. The Bass is a singer originally from China with just one name, Shenyang , and he was excellent as was the James Taylor (not THAT tenor named James Taylor, silly), the soprano, Annette Dasch was very fine. We all loved the trumpets featuring Philip Smith, one of our favorite NY Phil musicians. The chorus is the Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart and they were an excellent chorus, blending as one voice and forming clear sectional parts.  This runs through Saturday, December 19, 2009.

It is most interesting to examine the text of the oratorio, just like a cut and paste, a line from here and a line from there from Isaiah, the psalms, and the Christian bible, which has been interpreted and arranged  to “tell”  the story of  the nativity, suffering  and crucifixion.  How different these lines sound when they are sung or chanted in Hebrew with the traditional Jewish cantilation. There are no trumpets in my synagogue.

And then there is the question of whether the audience should stand, supposedly as did the King of England for reasons unknown, or should remain seated for the splendid Hallelujah chorus. I sat, my friend was the first in the audience to stand.

There are so many seasonal music events in New York City and last week we were at  another holiday concert: A Twisted Christmas at the Nokia theater on Times Square, by our favorite metal band, Twisted Sister. This was a lot, lot, lot of fun.  They performed old and new songs and their metal versions of Christmas songs, and the stage show was a riot. This is not at all the Radio City version of Christmas. They have done a Christmas show each year for the last four or five years. Look for it next year.

It is tremendous fun to take in a wide sample of musical styles, so break out of your rut and see something very different.

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Coming soon:The 19th Annual Jewish Film Festival

Film, Lily's notes

We always enjoy this film festival immensely and would encourage you to get your tickets to the screening in advance since many screenings sellout.  GothamGirl will be attending some preview screenings and write about them shortly.

Presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum, Jan. 13-28

Here is a preview of their schedule:

Screenings at the Walter Reade Theater unless otherwise indicated.

165 West 65th Street close to Amsterdam Avenue

Wednesday, Jan. 13

1:00          Saviors in the Night

3:45          Gruber’s Journey

6:15          Saviors in the Night

9:00          Gruber’s Journey

Thursday, Jan. 14

1:15          Bar Mitzvah

3:30          Gruber’s Journey

6:15          Ahead of Time with Making the Crooked Straight

9:00          Ajami

Saturday, Jan. 16

6:30          Ajami

9:15          The Jazz Baroness

Sunday, Jan. 17

1:30          The Axe of Wandsbek

4:15          The Jazz Baroness

6:30          Happy End with Point of View

9:00          Protector with With a Little Patience

Monday, Jan. 18

12:30        Leon Blum with Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

3:30          Protector with With a Little Patience

6:15          Forgotten Transports: To Poland

8:30          The Jazz Baroness

Tuesday, Jan. 19

1:00          Happy End with Point of View

3:30          Protector with With a Little Patience

6:15          Happy End with Point of View

7:30          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah*

8:45          Leon Blum with Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

Wednesday, Jan. 20

1:00          Forgotten Transports: To Poland

3:30          Leon Blum with Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

6:30          Einsatzgruppen

Thursday, Jan. 21

1:00          Human Failure

3:30          Berlin ’36

6:15          Human Failure

8:45          The Peretzniks with Happy Jews

Saturday, Jan. 23

6:30          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah

9:00          Mary and Max

Sunday, Jan. 24

1:00          Bar Mitzvah

3:15          Berlin ’36

6:00          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah

8:45          Mary and Max

Monday, Jan. 25

1:00          Gevald! with Chronicle of a Kidnap

3:00          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas**

3:30          Leap of Faith

6:15          Gevald! with Chronicle of a Kidnap

8:30          Leap of Faith

Tuesday, Jan. 26

1:30          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas

4:00          Human Failure

6:30          A History of Israeli Cinema

Wednesday, Jan. 27

1:00          Within the Whirlwind

3:30          The Peretzniks with Happy Jews

6:15          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas

8:45          The Peretzniks with Happy Jews

Thursday, Jan. 28

1:00          Ultimatum with Prrrride

3:45          Within the Whirlwind

6:15          Ultimatum with Prrrride

8:45          Within the Whirlwind

*At The JCC in Manhattan

334 Amsterdam Avenue at West 76th Street

646.505.5708

www.jccmanhattan.org

Tuesday, Jan. 19

7:30          Eyes Wide Open with Kallah

**At The Jewish Museum

1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street

www.TheJewishMuseum.org

Monday, Jan. 25

3:00          Valentina’s Mother with Pinhas

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2009 Gotham Girl’s Gift Giving Ideas

Concert, Lily's notes

Here are some simple, creative ideas for this strained financial time: go towards quality and enjoyment of life.

The most wonderful DVD we have seen and heard is by Jazz at Lincoln Center: Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis Play the Music of Ray Charles. Norah Jones appears and sings like a sweet angel. “Hit the Road Jack”, “Unchain My Heart”, Hallelujah I Love Her So”…mmmm…..just music magic…This was filmed excellently at the concert at the Rose Hall in Lincoln Center, it feels very intimate, and it is a pure pleasure.   I saw this on Blue Ray, it is luscious in sound and beautifully filmed. Give this to someone!

Give a gift membership to the MoMA, Jewish Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art or any other museum, usually about $75 for annual single membership.

Give a gift membership to Symphony Space, or the Film Society/Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

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Halloween Block Party October 31 on West 90th Street

Events, Lily's notes

Each year the Park West 90th Street Park Association  organizes a lovely, welcoming event for children and adults who would love to enjoy seeing the kids have a great time.

West 90th Street between CentralPark West and Columbus Avenue will be filled with spooky decorations, glowing carved pumpkins on brownstone stoops, lighted displays, and a welcome table in front of #35. The residents of the block , many in costume, give out candy in front of the buildings. A few lobbies welcome trick or treat visitors inside as well.

This  has the wonderful, old-fashioned spirit of a child’s Halloween party and attracts many, many neighborhood families. It is  also a lovely display of the variety of families who live on the Upper West Side.

Many of the doggies on the block turn out in costume as well. Please remember: do not let the dogs eat chocolate. These are the same dogs who take part in the West 90th Street Dog Parade during the clean-up/planting party each Spring.

The street will be closed to traffic at 4 pm. Residents will decorate the block from that time on and  from 5:30 to 7pm  the goblins etc are welcome.

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Central Park Storm Damage Update

Events, Lily's notes

In case you missed this news, on August 18, 2009, Central Park was it by an intense storm with of winds up to 80 miles per hour.

This short,  intense event damaged about 1000 trees north of 90th Street, and 400 hundred trees were completely lost. The oldest tree which was removed  was 159 years old and the tallest was 100 feet tall.

The Central Park Conservancy says that, “Many of the trees removed were among the tallest, largest, and finest specimens in Central Park.”  Their site has many photos and details about the storm.

Now is the time to step up and help restore our well-loved park by volunteering and /or donating.

We must do our part now so that  future generations will have a lovely park, just as we enjoy today.

Please see the Central Park Conservancy site for more details and photos about the storm, the damage, and to learn about volunteering/donation.

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Procrastination: Thoughts For Rosh haShanah

Guest Author: Natasha Hirschhorn, Lily's notes

The Jewish month of Elul, which preceeds Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, is a time of reflection, self-evaluation and  and return.  I want to share with you this wonderful piece written by Hazzan (cantor) Natasha Hirschhorn of Congregation Ansche Chesed in Manhattan:

There is a story about Satan, known as an “accuser” in Jewish tradition, who gathered his assistants together one day to talk about the most effective method of destroying the meaning of people’s lives.

One said, “Tell them there is no God.” Another suggested, “Tell them there is no judgment for sin and they need not worry.” A third proposed, “Tell them their sins are so great they will never be forgiven.”

“No,” Satan replied, “none of these things will matter to them. I think we should simply tell them,There is plenty of time.’”(Chasidic)

 
When I first read this story, I felt the proverbial finger pointing straight at me – an accomplished procrastinator…  But while I’ve always experienced a fair amount of guilt accompanying my shifting deadlines and to-do lists that never see their items crossed off, I felt the Satan’s judgment was too harsh… Can my delays in action truly be affecting the very meaning of my life?

This year as I was doing physical therapy for my back, I discovered an unpleasant truth.  It turned out that the very exercises I found the most difficult and painful were the ones my body needed the most in order to heal and get stronger.  According to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, our souls going through Teshuvah, repentance, must operate on a similar principle – “To give money, for instance, is for some of us a molehill, whereas to apologize for having offended someone is a mountain. Now beware if you offer a sacrifice to God, make sure that you offer what really costs you dear, for God would not appreciate a fool’s deal”.

We may feel the need for a personal Teshuvah all year long, but our tradition really makes us face the challenge in the 40 day stretch from the beginning of Elul until Neilah* . This time period seems to highlight both a search for the meaning of it all, and a sense of urgency – the Book will be sealed, the Gates will be closed… In other words, our process of introspection must be honest and thorough, but it has a deadline!

The understanding that the task of true Teshuvah can’t be easy by definition, combined with the finite amount of time to accomplish it, can feel simply overwhelming.  The one Gate that is the most difficult for me to enter, may be the only one leading me to my higher self… Even with 40 days to go, how can I hope to find a way in before the Gates close?  

Perhaps, given the not uncommon propensity for procrastination, the very existence of a deadline ensures that we begin the process at all… The circular nature of the calendar reminds us that having made it at the last Neilah doesn’t guarantee us the coveted insider’s spot in the coming year.  Each time we must begin anew; to enter the last month of the year ready to challenge our souls and to seek the Gate – ever elusive and yet, ultimately, within our reach.  Each Elul, we must begin the spiritual labor with both a sense of urgency and a feeling of hope.  And, through this difficult journey, we pray, to rediscover the meaning of our lives.

Hazzan Natasha Hirschhorn

Congregation Ansche Chesed of New York

* Neila is part of the end of the service on Yom Kippur

Shanah Tovah

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Remember September 11, 2001

Lily's notes

We remember this day many more times each year than just on the anniversary of the actual date of the attack and we always remember the people who were lost who we personally knew.

The media may have dubbed the Trade Center site  “Ground Zero” but we should not call part of our vibrant and recovered city by this clever, false title.

The 16 acres are correctly called the World Trade Center site.

The site is being rebuilt much, much too slowly but there is some progress and the anniversary of he attack has become a day of community service. 

This is a perfect way to actualize what we learned on that day and the days that followed: how we are joined in community and responsible for each other. Remember.

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The Bacchae at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park

Events, Lily's notes, Theater

Euripides’ complex and disturbing ancient play, The Bacchae,  about disrupting the so-called “natural” order in society, personal delusion vs reality,  and the consequences is produced movingly by the Public Theatre in Central Park as the second play for this season of  “Shakespeare in the Park”.

The score is by Philip Glass and  the play is given its bone-chilling, gripping life by a spectacular women’s chorus.  The score and chorus would be reason enough to see the play, and there is a very fine cast and production, as well. Try not to miss this production.

As a reminder if you haven’t read your classics in a while, the Bacchae are women who have entered a state of ecstasy and delusion by following the charismatic, seductive, handsome, pitiless, vengeful, god Dionysus. They destroy society by leaving their so-called natural subservient place in society and going up into the mountains for the “worship” of Dionysus: that is Bacchanalia which are orgies with hideous and murderous details. This is quite something for a summer play in the park.    

Do not miss the excellent notes and explanations in the Playbill about the  Bacchae, Euripides and His Times, and the Royal House of  Thebes, which will make you very appreciative that you are not a relative of the Royal House of  Thebes expected at up-coming  holiday dinners.

We left the park discussing the production and the complex issues raised by the play itself. There is plenty for all points of  view to discuss. That is the mark of a terrific production.

We saw this last night, in the open air of the Delacorte Theater, and as the actors invoked Dionysus, the god of Thunder, we were surrounded by nature’s spectacular lightning and  an approaching intense summer thunder storm.  The audience remained gripped by the play and left the park quickly due to the impending weather. Shortly after the end of the play, this storm hit Manhattan with terrific force, even toppling mature trees  into the streets as on West 88th St,  throwing branches onto the streets, sidewalks and cars,  sent cafe chairs sliding up Columbus Avenue,  and wrecked awnings around the Upper West Side.     

How to get your FREE TICKETS: arrive early in the day and wait on line (BTW: New Yorkers wait “on line”, it is a localism, the rest of you wait “in line”).  Seniors  65 and above have their own line, and there is now a Virtual Line. See the Public’s website for full details.

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Will Sarah Palin leave Alaska for New York?

Lily's notes

Sarah Palin has been looking at houses to buy around Hampton Bays (Long Island) according to a  “very reliable source” who knows real estate in the area .

It seems that she started looking at smaller houses and has now graduated to looking at larger homes. Her husband is said to like the good fishing on Long Island. Perhaps the speculation about her planning a possition with right wing  Fox news is correct too.

Just a friendly note for a potential new New Yorker: In New York State, we do not hunt animals from airplanes. And Montauk may be the better fishing area.

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Elie Wiesel at the Zamir Choral Festival 2009

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

As Elie Wiesel the novelist, journalist and Nobel Prize for Peace winner was honored at the final event of the Zamir Choral Festival 2009, and he did much more than merely accept  an award of recognition from the Zamir Choral - he stood on the stage and sang alone.

He sang a few niggunim from his hometown of Sighet to the 450 participants in the Festival.

The participants had learned these niggunim during the festival and then sang with him in four part harmony. It was very moving to hear him sing, and then to sing together…it was an emotional musical bridge from the Europe of the past to the Jewish community of the present  in America.

He stayed afterwards and very graciously shook people’s hands and accepted their good wishes and thanks. It felt like a visit from a respected, beloved, close relative.

Dr Ruth Westheimer had arrived at the Festival and was honored as well.

Dear tiny dynamo Dr Ruth, is now a film-maker and had her new film about Bedouin women with her; her ongoing creativity is an inspiration.

There are many so many ways to be a witness.

The Festival was an exciting and fulfilling experience: so many fine musically talented and knowledgeable people, such all-over good spirit, excellent workshops and classes, late night jam sessions,  schmoozing laughter-filled meals with new and old friends, and wonderful choral concerts!

At one late night jam, the terrifically talented singer, Magda Fishman, sang and played the trumpet(!) with 2 guitars, a piano and several flutes. Fun!

We returned home happily exhausted and would attend again next year.

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Hudson Valley Resort and Zamir Choral

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

We drove up the  NY State Thruway through the Hudson Valley to the Catskill Mountains on this glorious, sunny day…finally the month of rains has ended. We have arrived at the Hudson Valley Resort for the 20th annual Zamir Choral Festival, July 12-16.

The mountains are glorious, we drove past  the Mohonk Mountain Preserve with it’s rough ridge; it has a wall of stone like the Palisades. At the foot of the ridge, we stopped and watched rock climbers getting ready to ascend the cliffs.

But our destination is the Zamir Choral Festival and here the rooms, hallways and dining room are all filled with truly fine music, and nice company.

The entire atmosphere is lovely. If you are reading this because you are considering attending a future Zamir Choral Festival, I would encourage you to attend. See their site  for program specifics.

The resort is run by very helpful and pleasant staff, the pools are lovely, and the rooms are pleasant and very adequate.

We met participants who have come from, Australia, Toronto, Milwaukee, and from the greater New York City area. Nice mix of people, different ages and life-styles. I think that there are about 450 participants, not sure.

I attended a class given by Velvel Pasternak of  Tara Music on the history of Jewish music which was absolutely fun and excellent. He is a great authority on Jewish music and funny story-teller.

Tonight we will attened a choral concert.

More on the specifics later…I want to take another walk around the grounds and through the shuk of vendors with my doggie who has come along.

Yes, this resort is both pet-friendly and it is people friendly.

Very unusual.

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Golem Stories and Cities of Light

Events, Lily's notes, Literary event, Theater

I just can’t get enough of that Golem. The many forms, retellings and spin-off s are always fascinating. 

In the best known version of  legend, The Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Judah Loew, created a living man out of clay with the intention that this creature would protect the Jews of Prague from anti-Semitic attacks.

Things get quite out of hand with this golem just going much too far, and The Maharal has to find a way to kill this creature he created. This story is very moving and works on all  levels, both the allegorical and literal.  Many plays and stories have been based on the Golem, or are a re-telling of the story. Frankenstein’s Monster and  Supermanand other super-heroes owe a great deal of their lineage to The Golem.

The idea of a golem has an extremely long history in Jewish culture:  it  is a living,  human-like creature but lacks a soul, it is always made of clay by a  holy man and implies a good deal of hubris in imitating the divine creation. It always gets out of hand. In some versions, the creator of the golem must write on the forehead of the golemor written place notes inside of its mouth to get it under control or to even kill the  wild,  out of control Golem! 

 Golem Stories is a staged retelling of the golem story by on  May 27, 2009 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St, at 7pm, followed by a discussion of Jewish legends and midrash. This evening is free but you must register in advance.

While on the CJH site check out their cabaret night called Cities of Light scheduled for June 10 at 6:30pm.

Both of these evening are part of the  Untitled Theater Company’s  Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas May 20 through June 14. They will have over 100 performances at many venues throughout the city.

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Alice Tully Hall and Julliard Composers

Concert, Lily's notes

We walked over to the spectacularly newly rebuilt Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center at Broadway and 65th St. The new construction is part of the extensive renovation of Lincoln Center and this part of the renovation has created:  a beautiful new facade of triangles of glass and metal, a just-below-street level cafe called at65 Cafe, an appealing and welcoming entryway for Alice Tully Hall, which previously did not have an entrance lobby to speak of, and additional space for the Julliard School. They did a splendid job in this renovation!

We slipped into the Starr Theatre at Alice Tully Hall and enjoyed a free concert of new music which was  composed and performed by Julliard students. Free student concerts happen often-check their schedule. This is a pleasant hall and has new lovely wood interior, and wood is always lovely for music. Impressive job of renovation.

Later, we sat in the new, at65Cafe, (which serves drinks and desserts and a few other items), and thoroughly enjoyed the view of the surrounding buildings and busy streets. As you look out onto the street, the bars sparkling colored liquor bottles are reflected in the glass which makes it appear  that there is a a glimmering bar on the sidewalk.

This new Alice Tully renovation is terrific addition to Lincoln Center and a stunning gift for us New Yorkers.

Thanks!

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