You also probably know that fantasy humorist Terry Pratchett died. I enjoyed much of the Discworld series, though I found it wildly uneven. His handling of Death in the books was particularly delightful and many of the obituaries of him I’ve seen picked up on that.
You are much less likely to have heard that Issachar Miron, the composer of the Israeli song "Tzena Tzena" died.
Heckman’s Deli: I went to the first outing of a meetup group for Jewish delis in the greater Washington area. This was at a year-old place in Bethesda called Heckman’s. Short version of my review is that the matzoh ball soup was very good (though, of course, not as good as my mother’s), tongue sandwich was okay but the rye bread was cut too thick and the mustard wasn’t spicy enough, cole slaw was a bland failure. Service was friendly and reasonably efficient. Conversation was excellent and I will definitely go to future meetups, schedule permitting.
Travel Show: The Travel and Adventure Show was the weekend before last. I should not really be allowed to go to this, but I did. I listened to one talk, which didn’t really tell me anything knew, and collected a bunch of brochures. I also stocked up on cloth grocery bags, since those are now the gimmes of choice. (Oddly, only one booth was giving out hand sanitizer this year.) The Sea World people had an adorable black and white ruffed lemur there – along with its trainer explaining why you don’t want one as a pet. In short, they can’t really be housebroken. Most useful info I got was from a guy I talked to about Brazil, who had some specifics on neighborhoods to check out in Rio and places to hear good music.
Afterwards, the friend I went with and I went out to brunch at Acadiana. Good food, interesting drink with basil in it, and good service, but I needed a 2 hour nap when I got home. At least, I didn’t need supper.
What Do Liberals Want? I was reading Harry Golden’s Ess, Ess, Mein Kind recently and he had an essay on what liberals want. This was written in the mid-1960’s and his list was:
- A broad program of federal aid to education
- Medical and hospital insurance for the entire American population, every man, woman and child
- A federal Fair Employment Practices Act (this had to do with what we now call Equal Employment Opportunity, and was focused on preventing racial discrimination)
- "Right to Work" laws repealed
Plus ça change …
This Past Weekend: I had intended to go to a storytelling house concert on Saturday night, but between the pollen count and the dust I stirred up in a housecleaning blitz, I was felled by a sinus headache. Sigh. At least the housecleaning turned up a few things I’d been looking for. For example, the yarn for my purple sweater, the needles and the pattern are all now safely cohabiting in one of those cloth bags from the travel show.
I did make it to knitting group on Sunday. We’re finally in the new building. It’s nice enough, but the lighting could be better. And the windows don’t open. I expect they will overdo the air conditioning in the summer.
Storytelling and Genealogy: Something I’ve wanted to write about for a while was an area of frustration I have with respect to genealogy as a pursuit. Tracking down lists of names is interesting as a puzzle, but hardly compelling to anyone else. I want to know the stories behind the people. It’s much more interesting to hear about things like my grandmother mailing her engagement ring back to her fiancé in New York when she met my grandfather or about the cousin we no longer see because his drunkenness at a wedding caused the groom’s mother to break her leg or about my great-grandmother’s sister’s father-in-law dying when a box of goods fell on him on the railroad than to read lists of begats. But finding those stories is challenging for anything beyond the past couple of generations.
There is also a broader issue that comes up with other types of historical stories. Namely, history has to be true. When I tell personal or family stories for an audience, that isn’t necessarily the case, but I have to be up front about when what I am telling is based on a true story and not entirely factual. For example, I tell a story about weddings in my family. Every incident in the story is true, but some of them – like the officiant dressed in a kimono and Spock ears - were things at friend’s weddings, not those of cousins. I like to make a distinction between facts and emotional truths. For genealogy, one needs facts.