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fauxklore
Life is still busy. I will do a separate entry for this past weekend, but here is what I did last week.


Celebrity Death Watch: Alice Rivlin was an economist who, among other things, was the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office. Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991.

Tim Conway was a comedian, best known for his work with Carol Burnett. He earned me 18 ghoul pool points. I reloaded with Tom Kennedy (host of Name That Tune).

I.M. Pei was an architect. I had him on my ghoul pool list this year but took him off in favor of someone else and forgot about him when it came to reloads. Some of his work (e.g. the pyramid at the Louvre) was interesting. But he had lots of trouble with wind. The Green Building (aka Building 54) at MIT, for example, had to have revolving doors installed so people could get in and out on windy days. And, of course, there were the years that the Hancock Building in Boston kept losing windows, causing it to be referred to as the Plywood Palace.

Herman Wouk was a novelist, whose works included The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar. I will admit that I have never read anything by him. But he did earn me 16 ghoul pool points.

This is slightly belated (he died May 2nd, but I didn’t learn that until this past Wednesday) but I had a personal connection to David Gordon Wilson. He was an MIT professor in the Mechanical Engineering department and a designer of recumbent bicycles. I did a UROP (i.e. undergrad research project) in his lab the second semester my sophomore year, working on an exercise system for disabled patients. He was a really nice guy and genuinely interested in helping students learn and grow. I did not know this until reading a couple of his obituaries, but he was also the inventor of the carbon tax. It's been lot of years since I even thought about him, but he is one of the many people at MIT who helped make me an engineer.


JxJ – Zalman Mlotek: I went to two events in the JxJ Festival last week. Monday night was a talk about Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish by Zalman Mlotek of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. He was accompanied by Jennifer Babiak (who plays Golde) and Bruce Sabath (who plays Leyzer-Volf and understudies Tevye). The conversation was moderated by Celeste Headlee, who asked all three of them questions about the production. A lot of what they talked about had to do with actors learning Yiddish for the production. Mlotek had an interesting story about some of his dicussions with Sheldon Harnick re: the choice of lyrics. They also sang a couple of songs from the production and closed with a sing-along to "Sunrise, Sunset. Overall, it was a fun evening.

By the way, Fiddler was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. My parents also had a cast recording of an Israeli production of it in Yiddish. And I am seeing this current production in August.

JxJ – Yemen Blues / Nani: The other JxJ event I went to last week was a concert on Thursday night by Yemen Blues and Nani. Actually, Nani was the opening act. The friend I went with had looked up Yemen Blues on youtube and didn’t quite understand when Nani appeared and looked and sounded quite different.

Anyway, Nani sang some traditional songs in Ladino, along with some of her own compositions and other odds and ends. I thought the Ladino songs were more appealing, especially "Los Guisados de la Berendjena" which describes seven ways to cook eggplant. The most familiar song she did (which she saved for the end of her set) was "Cuando e Rey Nimrod," which I admit has never made sense to me since I don’t understand how there was a Jewish quarter before Abraham was born.

As for Yemen Blues, they did about what I expected – Middle Eastern fusion music. I had seen them before and categorized their material as music I can’t sit still listening to. Unfortunately, things were running late and we were concerned about catching the metro, which stops running at 11:30 on weekdays. So we couldn’t stay for their entire set.

Also, the concert was at Union Stage on the Wharf, which I had not been to before. I was glad we got there early enough to grab a table. But why did they put high tables in front of the low tables, effectively blocking the view of the stage?

Masala Art: We had dinner before Yemen Blues at Masala Art, an Indian restaurant by the Waterfront metro station. Oddly, I got a notice from Open Table at about 5:15 saying that the restaurant had canceled our 6 p.m. reservation. When I asked them about it, they had no idea what had happened and they did, in fact, honor the reservation.

As for the food, we got bhune bhutte ki tikki, which was described as patties of grated sweet corn, coated with sesame seeds. I thought this was just okay – I couldn’t really taste the corn, but it came with an interesting spicy sauce. For the main course, I got bhaingan bharta (eggplant with onion, tomato, and cilantro), which is something I often order in Indian restaurants. Their version was not as good as I’ve had at other places, with the flavors not especially well-balanced. It wasn’t terrible, but I would probably try something else if I were to go there again. (My friend got saag paneer, which I gathered she had a similar reaction to.) We also ordered pilau rice, so we were annoyed to discover that the entrees came with rice already. The waiter should have told us that. And we ordered naan, which was also just okay – a bit overcooked, in my opinion. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible meal, but there are better Indian restaurants around.

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