Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jewish Renaissance music

I'll be hosting the Yiddish Hour Sunday at 10 a.m on KBOO. This week I'll be temporarily renaming the show the Sephardic Hour, and I'll be playing Jewish music from the Renaissance, as well as a lot of Sephardic and Ladino tunes.

If you're wondering what the heck Jewish Renaissance music is, well, it's Jewish music written during the Renaissance. Wanna know more? Great! Tune in Sunday. 

If you know anyone outside the Portland area who would enjoy the show, please let them know they can hear it free online at The show cannot be podcasted or downloaded for copyright reasons.

Remember, all you devotees of This American Life in Portland who are conflicted because TAL is on at the same time as The Yiddish Hour, you can catch that show on Wednesday nights at 8pm on OPB, or download it as a free podcast to listen to anytime you like. So you have no (legitimate) excuse for not checking out the Yiddish Hour. How's that for a little Jewish guilt?

Hope you can join me this Sunday. If you do catch the show, I and the other hosts would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to check out our Web site and let us know what you think of the show, the site, the new hosts, etc. etc. We also post playlists and links to musicians and CDs, if you want to know more about the music. All comments, positive and otherwise (although we prefer the negatives be constructive, please), are welcome.

Zei gezunt!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I've been meaning to post these pictures for awhile, but got caught up with the election and job stuff. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Interview update

So much for hitting it out of the park.

I got an email yesterday saying that the interviewer had been impressed with my skill set and my knowledge of relevant issues, but was unable to offer me a second interview.

I don't know what to make of that exactly, especially since I got a really good vibe from him on the phone and I felt the interview went well. I asked him if he could give me some feedback as to why I was not selected for the second round of the process, so that I could improve my interview skills for future job opportunities, but haven't heard back from him. I doubt I will.

It would be really helpful for me to know if there was something I did or didn't do that affected his decision, because what he did tell me makes me doubt my own judgment as to whether the interview went well, and it also makes me wonder if there was some personality facet that factored into his decision. Of course, it could just as easily mean that there were simply more qualified people than I and he had a limited number of second interview slots.

I realize I can quickly make myself nuts thinking like this, and I won't indulge in it indefinitely, but I can't help wondering. Since I'm left with a lack of pertinent information, I am trying to fill in the blanks. Nature (and I) abhor a vacuum.

I am of course disappointed, but surprisingly not devastated, perhaps because there's another job that interests me more that I will be applying for next week, perhaps because it hasn't fully hit me yet, or perhaps because I'm in total denial :-)

I have sometimes wished I were the kind of person who didn't get so heavily emotionally invested, so that negative outcomes don't hit me so hard. I suppose there are advantages to being able to compartmentalize and remain imperturable, but I am not that sort of person, never have been and never will be. I accept that. One of the great things about being in your forties is accepting who you are, warts and all. 

It was fun to fantasize about all the things I'd do with a salary, even things as mundane as getting our vacuum cleaner serviced. And I will do that someday, with some other salary from some other job. Still, as this was my first interview in nine months, it is certainly a blow.

Thanks for sending all your good thoughts my way. Keep 'em coming.

Riding the Obama wave into unexpected places

Check out my friend Marty's latest post on her blog, Scanning the Dial, for a thoughtful take on what Obama's election could do for classical music.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The day after the day after

Am still enjoying the rosy glow from Tuesday, not to mention we found out today that Jeff Merkley will be Oregon's newest senator, and that means we'll have two Democrats representing us. What a change from 20 years ago when I arrived here. Then we had two Republicans, Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood. Hatfield I could live with, although I disagreed with his positions on abortion and his cozy relationship with the timber industry. He was generally a man of honestly-held principles and I could respect that, even if I didn't share them. Also, a rarity for an anti-choicer, he believed in sex education and access to contraception as the best means to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As for Bob Packwood, I don't need to say anything, do I? (If you aren't sure what that means, leave me a comment and I'll explain more fully).

I still wish Steve Novick had been the Democratic choice for senator, rather than Merkley, but I'm confident he'll be back on the political scene soon. He's too much of a firebrand to languish in obscurity (read: private life) for long.

Of course the passage of Prop. 8 in California and the other same-sex marriage bans is disappointing, but I'm not surprised; I am taking the long view. The fact that gay marriage is even being discussed and debated and voted on makes it an inescapable topic of public discourse, and it will never be shunted off to the margins again. That is important to remember. It will take the less-progressive majority of the American people time to get used to even thinking about the idea of same-sex marriage, but at least they are now required to think about it. Gay marriage is on the national radar now and it is only a matter of time before our courts recognize the legal impossibility of denying basic civil rights to a specific group of citizens. How much time it will take I couldn't say, and I only hope that no gay marriage cases appear before the Supreme Court before President-elect Obama has a chance to appoint some more humane and progressive judges, but I am confident that I will see the legalization of same-sex marriage in my lifetime. We just elected our first bi-racial president; anything is possible.

I am feeling such a mixture of things: relief that it's all over, relief at the results, but I am concerned that all the energy and inspiration Obama summoned from people around the country will simply dissipate. On NPR this morning they aired a vox populi segment, interviewing people about the election, and several people said things like, "We'll be okay now that Obama is President." One person even said, "I'm hoping he'll do some magic." Oy. This kind of stuff gives me a pain in an unmentionable place.

Wake up, people! Obama is not the Alpha and Omega and his election will not magically solve all the serious problems we face. I have little hope of seeing any material change in my life circumstances any time soon as a result of this election. Obama won't be able to immediately make good on all the promises he made because there's no money to pay for them. We are facing a long period of belt-tightening. Time to buck up, stop investing Obama with supernatural powers and continue doing what we can as individuals to effect positive change. That's what "Si, se puede" is really all about.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

Like most (if not all) of you, I am walking around today in a euphoric daze. Every time I hear the words "President-elect Obama" on the news I can't help breaking out into a big shit-eating grin. It's really true. It happened. America and Americans have turned a page in our ugly history of race relations. Not to mention we elected the right person for the job, someone with intelligence, insight, a deliberate (and-yes, I'll dare to say it-nuanced) approach to problem-solving, intellectual curiosity and enough sense of self to not be threatened by differences, whether among people or ideas.

Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Neil Conan interviewed Bernice Johnson Reagon, best known as a founding member of the a capella group Sweet Honey in the Rock; she's also a cultural historian and an amazing woman of many other talents. (I like to paraphrase something she said once about coalition-building: "If you are comfortable with the positions and ideas of everyone in your coalition, your coalition isn't big enough.")

Today she talked about her pride and joy in bearing witness to this moment in history. The phrase struck me; it's the title of an anthology of selections taken from different Afro-American biographies by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our nation's foremost scholars of Afro-American and African history. To me, bearing witness suggests not only seeing or experiencing something first-hand, but proclaiming it publicly. It is both passive and active. 

As a nation, we have just borne witness to something many believed would never happen in their lifetime. It is, by any measure, astonishing. But we didn't just see this happen; we helped make it happen. This could arguably be called the first DIY presidential election in American history.

Okay, okay, so I'm guzzling the Kool-Aid a bit; sorry about that. Despite my high-flown rhetoric, I still have reservations about Obama. He's not as progressive as I'd like, particularly on energy issues and gay marriage. I have no real hope he'll be able to implement his health care program, not because he isn't sincere about prioritizing it, but because I have no idea how he'll finance it. All that notwithstanding, his election is amazing. The way he mobilized and inspired and fired up voters of all ages and backgrounds and the way he navigated through the shark-infested waters of a two-year campaign fills me with wonder.

And I got to see it happen, and even participate in it (I phone banked last weekend) in my own small way. I have no illusions about the uphill climb we as a nation face right now. Obama is not the Messiah. His election doesn't put an end to our problems, but I'd like to think his election is the first step towards resolving them.

Si se puede.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Post-phone interview

I know the rest of the planet is focused on the election, and I am too, but I also had my phone interview for the aforementioned non-profit (see previous post) this morning, and just wanted to let you all know...


I think.

The interviewer was quite personable and warm and he responded by saying, "Great!" or "Good answer" to several of my responses. But I really hit it out of the park with this gem:

I asked the interviewer, "In your job as ________, what are your most pressing goals and needs for the next six months, and, if I were hired for this position, how could I best help you meet those goals?"

There was a bit of silence, and then he said, "Wow, that's a really good question."


Thanks for all those of you who responded to my cry for help. I'll find out by end of business Friday if they want to meet me in person.

Stay tuned...