Friday, February 17, 2012

Spin Class Song Request

One reason I go to spin class is to get motivated by a great instructor with great music and who pushes me in a way I can't do on my own.  Usually the music is new stuff that I would otherwise never hear.  Even if most of it is dreck (unworthy garbage) I appreciate the sentiment, because it keeps me current with popular culture.  But for whatever reason, there is a thought that new music is the only music that people want to hear in spin class and can't grind it out to anything else.

Not me!

Spin instructors of the world:  bring on the classic rock.  Where are Pink Floyd, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin among the your playlists?   I'm not talking Stairway to Heaven, which is slow and drawn out, but tunes like MoneyRag Doll, and Kashmir could get my cadence to 130 just as well as any Jay-Z or Rihanna tune  (not those artists produce garbage-like music; I actually like their stuff.  It's the other dreck that I am talking about).

One instructor told me that jam band tunes are too long, and preferred spin songs are no more than 4 minutes.  Check out this very rocking instrumental Frankenstein, originally by the Edgar Winter Group, and covered by my favorite band.

But if you think it is too jammy, just cut it short.  No one would mind.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tibetan Prayer Flags: Shalom, Janis Joplin.

You've seen 'em, but never before with Jewish prayers.  Tibetan prayer flags are those colorful fabric squares that usually contain traditional Buddist prayers.  A few years ago we saw a Jewish interpretation of them at our friend Jonathan and Gail's very beautiful home, and convinced them to bring one back for us on their next visit to Israel.

from     The prayer is in Hebrew and comes from Rav Natan of Nemerov

The flags are produced by Tevel B'tzedek, which is an Israel-based non-profit organization promoting social and environmental justice and founded by Rabbi Micha Odenheimer.  They do good work in Haiti and Nepal, helping impoverished people benefit from programs addressing education, health, sustainable agriculture and more.  Israelis love to backpack through Nepal after their army service, so it is a win-win.

Finally the flags are available through Tevel B'tzedek directly!

They are $15 each.

You can email directly to order as well.

Tell them the Whole Phamily sent you, and please remember that I have no arrangements with any of the products I promote.  At the moment I am doin' it from the goodness of my heart, and because I have a lot of love for chevre (friends).  And I didn't mean goat cheese.

But with all of my good ideas, I do hope to monetize in the near future.


Kudos to my 11th grade English teacher for playing that one for us on the sleepy Wednesday before Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanks, McWilliams.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm Hot, Sticky Sweet, From My Head To My Feet

Not really much of a Def Leppard fan, that blog title post comes from their popular tune "Pour Some Sugar On Me" which played over and over on the radio when I was in high school.  But what I want to talk about is not sugar, but artificial sweetener.

Specifically, Sucralose.

Unless you are a chemist, healthy-foods advocate, industry expert, or just someone who reads labels, you likely didn't know that.

Some people will only settle for brand names.  Not in my kitchen!

There it is folks:  Splenda.  As its byline says:  The No Calorie Sweetener.  I guess Sucralose isn't sexy.

Up until recently, I pulled the ole' Starbucks-owes-me-something-since-they-overcharge-for-their-beverages routine and snagged a wad of Splendas at each visit.  We all justify it by convincing ourselves that everyone does it (don't they?) and therefore it's built into the cost of their products.  But after thinking about it seriously, I concluded that it is stealing.  No matter how many little old ladies in Delray Beach take Splenda packets, it still is wrong.  Furthermore, I don't drink coffee and rarely get myself to a Starbucks in the first place.

So, I found myself in the predicament of having to (gasp) actually buy Splenda.

Not a huge fan of artificial anyfood, I try to curtail my use of Splenda.  I admit I do use it at times, but I try instead to use maple syrup or Agave nectar as sweeteners for my hot beverages.  This is coming from someone who wrote a college paper for her Chemical Science of Our Daily Lives course (one of the two science/math courses my liberal arts curriculum required for graduation) on Artificial Sweeteners, starting with Cyclymate (now banned in the United States) and ending, at the time, with aspartame (Equal).

But I didn't want to buy Splenda after years of Starbucks petty theft and certainly didn't want to spend top dollar on it.

And I didn't want to support the company itself which produces Splenda:  Tate & Lyl since I think it's healthier to use a real sugar product (like, sugar).

So, I bought the generic instead, and my guests will just have to deal.  It is my way of sticking it to Corporate America.  Or Corporate Britian in this case.  I now have a box brimming full of generic Sucralose that I bought for $3.99 instead of $5.99 for the brand name.

Over the weekend I found myself at the Woodrow Wilson rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.  When no Starbucks employees were looking, you can guess what I did.

Where Is Joel Baum?

This comes from my fellow Brandeisian Pearl Gluck who is an independent film maker.

Set in contemporary Brooklyn (where so many good peeps live these days), it centers around what happens after a tragic accident in one part of the Hasidic community.


Would we ever love to be big-time producers on this one!

For the moment, it won't be the Whole Phamily, but *you* could be it, no?

"Blue Sky" Singers Can Reconcile, Embrace the Love and Each Other!

Dickey Betts wrote the song "Blue Sky" for the Allman Brothers Band that is so lovely and sweet, and on this day of love that we don't really celebrate is a good listen.   I used to play this a lot before Stango and I were married, and "borrowed" a CD of his that I had in my possession when we experienced a couple of years' relationship hiatus.

The band just accepted a Lifetime Achievement Grammy award on Sunday without Dickey.   The band fully deserved this award and worked so hard to get there.  Congratulations, Allmans!  It was a true privilege to see you perform at the Beacon Theater.

But the estrangement bothers me. Naturally I speak from the outside.  I know nothing about the interpersonal relationships.  Dickey hasn't played with the Allmans in many years.  Some say Duane was right.  Some say Dickey is right.  I don't know who is right, who is wrong, and maybe everyone is right and everyone is wrong.  Dead or alive (Duane passed away), we can get beyond the differences, no?

Can't the grown men all embrace the love and get past their issues/egos/pride?  Am I too naive to think a bear hug is the cure-all?  Familial estrangement usually runs deep and complicated, but it always hurts me to hear of it.  If we don't start at home, and our own brothers and sisters, our own flesh and blood can't get along, how exactly will we find world peace?

This video is from the good ole' days.
And the music is stellar.

The lyrics, written by Betts:

Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing.
It don't worry 'bout where it's going, no, no.
Don't fly, Mister Blue bird, I'm just walking down the road,
Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know.

You're my blue sky, you're my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way,
Turn your love my way, yeah.

Good old Sunday morning, bells are ringing everywhere.
Going to Carolina, it won't be long and I'll be there.

Wish I could embed the video from Relix that shows the entire acceptance speech, but I can't figure it out so I present instead this news piece covering the event:


Time to go embrace the loved ones and give Stango a thank-you hug for introducing this into my sphere back in the day. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deadheads have a Shul on the Bowery!

Naturally I eat this right up.  

And while I eat it intellectually, I physically eat some yummy Trader Joe's falafel chips (Kof-k parve).  The late-night snacking thing is not good.

Leave it to Chabad Lubavitch to have a former (or not?  I have to hope they still listen to the good tunes) Deadhead couple open a Chabad house just a few blocks of where CBGB's was.

The only thing this article didn't mention explicitly was that Joey Ramone was born Jeffry Ross Hyman and was Jewish.  That it said he would have kvelled, though, implied the Yiddishe connection.

Hatzlacha Raba (best of luck) to Rabbi Dov Yonah and Sarah Korn!

To you, I toast a l'chayim on a Glendale Farms Organic grape juice and seltzer "juicy beverage"!

Falafel Chips & The BabaGanoush Song

All of you dedicated readers must remember when I first discovered falafel chips last year.  Since then I have been serving them at parties and gatherings.  They are so tasty.  People LOVE them.  My cousin Ruthie was here for our family Chanukah party this year and absolutely fell in love with them.

Problem was, they were hard to find.
And at more than $5 a bag, pretty expensive.
I mean, they're just chips in the end.

But guess what?  I love to sleuth it out at Trader Joe's just as much as any other brand-buster.  I love figuring out who makes what product  (e.g. their yogurt "squishers" are the same exact thing as Stonyfield Farms' "squeezers" which are like GoGurt).  Call it being a TJs nerd:  I'm all good with that.

Looky what I found at Trader Joe's this week!

These were spotted this week at my local Trader Joe's!  $3.49 a bag

You betchyer bottom dollar that these are the SAME EXACT ONES that I discovered last year and are made by Flamous Organics.

I'll take 'em for $3.49 a bag.

They are Organic
Gluten Free
NO trans fat
Soy free
Dairy Free
(but these symbols and confirmations aren't on the TJ's bags...)

Good deal for Flamous Brands, even though it's all a hush hush secret and no one is supposed to know who makes the TJ's private label stuff...I wish them the greatest of success even though they will definitely never confirm this.  Worry not, dear reader, as you know I am quite savvy and can practically guarantee these are the same thing.  

Meantime, my friend Monkey Carey performs with The Funky Monkeys on vocals in this video for the song "Baba Ganoush" which is a condiment used in a felafel sandwich.

Listen to the vocals, as the kids in the video are not the Funky Monkeys..however I thank them for this video since the Funky Monkeys don't even have one!  Very nice job on the video, dudes!

Who Run The World? Girls. And Women. Modest Ones, Too.

Beyonce's "Run the World" came up this morning also at spin class.  Warning: if you aren't one of the more than 100 million people that have already seen the video, both the lyrics and content are racy.  Not x-rated, but if you're coming from Satmar Williamsburg (though if you are here in the first place I imagine you might be able to handle it) you might want to heed some caution.

Sure, I'm not a fan of her hypersexualized style, but I agree with her message:

Behind every wheeler-dealer power broker is an even smarter woman.

I'm more attuned to the vibe offered up by the Grateful Dead when they sang "Women Are Smarter."  Here is Warren Haynes playing that tune with The Dead from a few years ago.

And yet the glass ceiling still exists.  But the women know they still have the power.

While all those vc guys (Venture Capitalists) have been out on boondoggles these past few years,  the women are still wiser and smarter than any private-jet boys club in the friendly skies.  There are plenty of successful female CEOs.  I am thinking Meg Whitman, the former CEO of EBay.  Or Barbara Walters.  Or Irene Rosenfeld, the Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods.

In my post about how the women are smarter from last year, I linked this idea to the Jewish view on this topic.  And now more specifically I would like to recognize one Jewish woman who was so powerful yet so modest in her delivery.  Apologies in advance for posting her photo on the same page as a half-naked pop star...but I am trying to bring it all together to make a point!

the late Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson z'l

They say that there are barely any photos of the late Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson.  She was the wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a man who had great influence in the lives of countless Jewish people whether they realized or not and whose work continues to spread in a most positive way to all corners of the world.  The Rebbetzin was so completely modest that this is one of the few known photos of her, released either late in life or posthumously.  She was a champion of her husband's work, and I imagine that she was always kind and modest in her way.

Here is just one story about the Rebbetzin.

Her yahrtzeit is this coming Wednesday night and Thursday, the 22nd of Shevat.

Here is an article in The Jewish Forward about how many girls are named after her.  Kind of reminds me of being named Rachel in the 1970s and going to Jewish youth group and camp events.  5 girls turn around when they call your name.  You stop turning around because inevitably that cute boy isn't calling your name.

And she was able to help influence the world with nary of photograph of her.

What would BeyoncĂ© think of that?