Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Two Things- both based on love and whimsy

Syd Barrett: RIP
One of those uncles that may have disappointed our parents, but brought us great delight. Thanks for having been who you were, doing what you did, when you did it.

Frozen Custard:
My pal, cb, has been updating us daily on what the Flavor of the Day is at Rosati's Frozen Custard up here in northern Ohio. This place, for your information, makes stuff that can't be properly described. None of that grainy Dairy Queen crap. It's soft, and filled with, as Dolli puts it, "sweet, creamy goodness." I eat the stuff and lose weight, for God's sake!!! I don't want to say we have a cure for cancer here, but I can't say I'd be surprised. Thank you, Chris!

Anyway, also courtesy of Dolli, a little tutorial on this gift from the gods:

Frozen custard
is a type of cold dessert similar to
ice cream, made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar. It typically contains 10% butterfat and 1.4% egg yolk. Air is blended into the mixture of ingredients until its volume increases by approximately 20%; this increase is called the overrun. By comparison, ice cream may have an overrun as large as 100%, which means that the final product is half air. This gives the ice cream a coarser texture. A custard will have a thick creamy texture compared to ice cream. Frozen custard must be served at 26 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warmer than the 10 degrees Fahrenheit at which ice cream is served. Some people feel that modern frozen custard machines whip too much air into the product, and therefore put a premium on stands that use old machines.

Frozen custard originated in Coney Island, New York, by Archie C. Kohr. He brought the first frozen custard machine there in 1919 and sold approximately 18,000 cones during his first weekend there. During the 1933 World’s Fair, frozen custard was brought to Chicago. By the 1940s, frozen custard stands could be found throughout the East and Midwest of the United States.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Getting My Religion

I received a great quotation from Ralph Carney this morning:

"Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics
to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them.

This is, of course, a mistake.

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china
teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be
able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the
teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful

But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be
disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to
doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient
books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the
minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence
would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the
attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the
Inquisitor in an earlier time."

Bertrand Russell, "Is There a God?",1952

This, about religious POV, has inspired me to respond here with a recent, rather telling experience for me:

In 2000,when I moved back to Akron after 20 years in New York, my Orthodox Jewish brother, Larry, declared I was most certainly invited to his home, but NOT with Dolli (a gentile) as it's 'influence' (a big word with these folks) would be too strong. He claimed this to NOT be Larry's law, but Jewish law.

I sadly accepted this, having neither the background, nor the inclination to dive in deep enough to be able to intelligently argue the point, if there was even an argument to be had. I also took the position that I wouldn't go anywhere Dolli would not be accepted. She is the love of my life and one of the kindest people I've ever met.

So I hadn't seen my brother who loves me as I love him, or his wife (my 'big sister') or his 5 kids or his 287,439 grandchildren since my mother passed almost three years ago.

He and I talk periodically, and he will readily reference Dolli conversationally. This estrangement has actually been more painful based on his and Sandi having met and spent time with Dolli when mom was ill. We're all from the old neighborhood (Rankin Elementary, West or Perkins Jr. Highs, and Buchtel High School) so there is much in common, and everyone got along famously. Everyone felt it and it was great, but made the situation forced by 'Jewish Law' all that much more painful.
from (appropriately) r to l: Sandra Gayle and Dr. Larry Gold , Fundamental in Kenneth Cole Harv , and Faux Sabra Dolli

Then recently we received an invitation to my niece's wedding (Dolli had been excluded from a previous invite, at which time I told Larry that I'd prefer a phone call and no invitation to a solo one. He understood and agreed). This one, however, read to "Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Gold." My, my, my.

I e-mailed my sister-in-law, as in the world of orthodoxy, there are times you don't want a hard and fast answer that could very well actually be forcing a 'pronouncement' from the elder male, to inquire if this had been an address label printed in error. Better to function with a little confusion than a spoken dictate that becomes the 'word' for the rest of your lives. Anyway, Larry called back a few days later and said it wasn't a mistake. He said that while he didn't want to go into it (see above note about the consequences of having the wrong thing uttered), and while he truly hadn't been searching until he found an opinion that met his liking or needs ... well ... he's getting older (11 years older than me), this is his last daughter to be married, I'm his brother, and he just wanted us to be there for it.

So we attended, a little nervous, given that we're about as secular as they come without being proactively anti ritual, but also quite excited. Dolli dressed appropriately (skirt covering the knees, sleeves covering the arms. Even wore a hat), as did I (black suit, white shirt, black tie and a yarmulke), and ... we had the BEST TIME IN THE WORLD!!!!

We saw all the kids and grandkids, other relatives by marriage, old acquaintances from the pre orthodox days and otherwise. I played with the grandnephews. My oldest nephew, Eric, the Rabbi, talked me through the wedding ceremony as it went, though Sandi and Larry had sent a sheet for the uninitiated, explaining the ritual and the requirements. Larry also provided a relaxing telephone tutorial by phone, the day of.

I sat at a table of men and boys I knew (nephews, Sandi's non orthodox brother and his two son-in-laws ... one of which came to the last Half Cleveland show at Musica), and when the traditional dancing started, I heartily threw in. After 45 minutes of dancing with crazy men, (at least 3 or 4 times with my brother) I was happily soaking wet. When we sat down to eat, I had to tell Larry that if the check in the card I handed him was ruined by sweat causing the ink to run, I'd issue a new one. It was exhilarating!!!

On the other side of the partition, Dolli spent a lot of time with Sandi (who could easily be HER big sister), Sandi's sister-in-law, niece, and cousin, and she too had a wonderful time. Women are allowed to peek to the other side of the room, though men aren't allowed to do same. She found the sight of all these men in black suits with beards and black hats dancing as intensely, athletically and with such fervor a surreal and remarkable thing. On her side of the wall, dancing exploded as well. She later observed that she had never been to any party of any nature that displayed such unabashed JOY... and that these guys (oh my God, I was one of them) made Krunkers look tame!

So Cool!

Dolli also spoke to Moshi, My nephew's wife, about what had happened here. Moshi suggested we speak to Sandi (not Larry) about perhaps meeting them at a Kosher restaurant for dinner, or inviting ourselves over to their house. Sandi because, as she put it, some people see shades of gray, others see things in black and white. This might have been a moment of weakness, allowing a little gray to sneak in, but while I truly wish this breakthrough meant the years in the desert for us were over, I have a feeling this was just a stop at an oasis. This is telling, as it wasn't until I was faced with actually seeing and being with my big brother and my family again that I realized how painful it is to NOT do so. I'll letcha know if things change.
The Happy Couple