Twitter Search for 'Coffee'
Popular Coffee Websites

Cafes by Zip Code
Coffee Podcasts


Locations of visitors to this page




43 Folders
Anders Fagerjord
Bay Area Bloggers
Berkeley Blogs
Blue Bottle Clown College
Denver Coffeehouses
Doug Miller
Emily Chang's eHub
Hewn & Hammered
Jill's Definition of Weblog
Jonas Luster
Laughing Squid
Le Blaugue à Beleg
Loïc Le Meur Blog
Mark Bernstein
Seesmic Blog
Tant Mieux
The Dynamist
Tonx Dot Org


Send Me Email:

coffeeblogger (at) doublesquids.com

Other Berkeley Blogs

SF Bay Bloggers
Blogs That Flickr
Blogcritics: news and reviews
Who Links Here

Jonathan's Coffeeblog: Yiddish

"The meaning of life and other trivia." Copyright ©2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Jonathan David Leavitt. All rights reserved.

Every page now has Seesmic/Disqus video commenting. Scroll to the bottom to see or post video comments. To read a text-only version of Jonathan's Coffeeblog on your iPhone or other mobile phone, click here. Or to see the graphics with less text, click here.

Go: [ Home | Previous | Archive | Gods & Myths | Cafes | Coffee | Nations & Empires | People | Arts ]
[ Words | New Media | Cinema | Gastronomy | Productivity | Yiddish ]

Kvetching - 2:53 PM Thursday, December 4, 2008
[It's the economy, stupid.]

What, Me Kvetch (Coffeeblog)

A joke: Somewhere, back in Russia, a traveler gets on a train and sits down next to an old Jewish man. Before long, the old Jewish man starts muttering, "Oy, am I thirsty." The traveler ignores him, for a while, but the old man persists: "Oy, am I thirsty. Oy, am I thirsty." He keeps it up and finally the traveler can stand it no longer. He gets up, walks to a car where drinks are sold, and buys a bottle of water. The old man accepts it gratefully, drinks it, and settles down. A few minutes pass. The traveler can feel the tension building up in the old man sitting next to him. Finally, the tension gets the best of the old man, and he blurts out, "Oy, was I thirsty!"

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Seltzer - 8:00 PM Monday, October 20, 2008
[Better for my health than the milk]

Seltzer (Coffeeblog)

Old-timers like me remember an early TV show featuring a marionette named Howdy Doody and a malicious clown named Clarabell who, once per show, spritzed the emcee, Buffalo Bob Smith, with pressurized carbonated water from a bottle. All Howdy Doody fans, and most Jewish kids of the era knew what was in that bottle: seltzer. It wasn't until a few decades later that I learned that my maternal grandmother's forebears earned their living selling that very same beverage, which was dubbed, in the New York of the 1930's, "Jewish Champagne." Although my mother served milk, not seltzer, with every meal, I still love to drink effervescent mineral water, preferably the kind bottled at Italy's Pellegrino source, or in the interest of saving money, our local California seltzer, Crystal Geyser. It turnes out it's a lot better for my health than the milk.

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Less Ausgeschmueckt, More Aufgeputzt - 2:29 PM Wednesday, July 23, 2008
[And the vocabulary of New York cabdrivers.]

Coffeeblog Makeover

I've tried it before. I changed the background color of the page templates for Jonathan's Coffeeblog, and found a color I didn't totally hate. And now, finally, I've taken the bull by the horms and, hopefully, made the ol' C'blog more useful and readable. In large measure I was able to do this due to the tactful guidance of a friend who is an interface designer for the Web and mobile devices. The Coffeeblog has grown organically and incrementally, like a huge fungus, although I prefer the metaphor of Rome and Paris which also grew organically from small beginnings. It has always been, and still is, my toy to play with powerful and interesting software for integrating text and images.

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Nations and Empires - 9:51 PM Saturday, May 3, 2008
[Can we all get along?]

Empires and Nations

I've added a new category to the Coffeeblog: Nations and Empires. Originally I had thought of adding a "history" category. Then I realized that everything I post to the Coffeeblog is some kind of history: the history of Bettie Page and the Kefauver Commission, or the history of Andres Serrano and his "Piss Christ" image with the resulting kerfuffle. Even a movie review is a history of sorts. Thinking it over, I realized that the kind of history that has begun to interest me lately is the history of empires and the nations, peoples, tribes, ethnic groups, language groups, and other societal entities engulfed, absorbed, or instrumental in the development of such empires. I would have never predicted such an interest as a college freshman who felt overwhelmed by the huge reading assignments of my required basic history course. But back then there was no hypertext, Internet, or Wikipedia. Why such a powerful interest now, so late in life? It has to do with the world events swirling around us about which the dead tree media and the idiot box generally keep us in abysmal ignorance. Why do Shia and Sunni Muslims attack each other in Mesopotamia (the dead tree pundits call it Iraq)? There are reasons for it. "Civil war" the treekillers call it. Sort of like Antietam or the Battle of Bull Run? Please. And then there's Central Asia, the route of the Silk Road, where the focus is not silk any more but petroleum., land of many fallen empires. To paraphrase George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to write for CNN."

... [Read More | Top of Page]

The Whole Megillah - 5:42 PM Thursday, March 20, 2008
[Recited every day. It has never ended.]

The Whole Megillah (Coffeeblog)

At sundown this evening it will be Purim again, the Jewish festival when Jews read from the biblical Book of Esther, traditionally recorded on a scroll of rolled-up parchment, papyrus, or paper. A Hebrew word for "scroll" is megillah, and the holiday has given rise to the Yiddish phrase, the "gantze (whole) Megillah." Since the rabbi reads the whole scroll aloud to the congregation in an ancient tongue, and seeming, for children at least, to go on forever, the "whole Megillah" refers to a prolonged, predictable litany which we have heard before, and are banefully expecting to hear over and over again. As it happens, "the whole Megillah" is a very timely topic today, and not just because it's Purim.

... [Read More | Top of Page]

The Gefilte Fish Line - 11:00 PM Monday, February 18, 2008
[Sugar? In fish?]

Litvaks v Galitzianer

The plot, like the jelly which surrounds a piece of gefilte fish, thickens. I am referring, of course, to knowledge I have gained since my post about Yiddish. It appears that my mother's parents, both Jews, were each born on the other side of a great linguistic-religious-culinary divide known to mavens of Ashkenazi gastronomy as the Gefilte Fish Line. (Thank you, Michael Steinlauf.) All right. I realize that some of my readers are vegans, Shia or Sunni Muslims, and possibly High Church Episcopalians. Therefore I must explain what gefilte fish is before I go any further: The Jewish holiday of Passover will be coming up soon (April 20, to be exact), and in those stores which sell Passover food (most urban California supermarkets do), you will find jars of lozenge-shaped fish patties swimming in juice or jelly. That is the mass market version. To the Jewish women from whom we are descended, however, gefilte fish was a delicacy made from fresh-water fish, bones carefully removed, then lovingly shaped into fish-like shapes, cooked, and served with horseradish. The most fanatical gefilte fish makers would actually stuff the skins of the fish used to make the delicacy with the fish mixture: hence gefilte, or "filled." However, my own eyes have never observed an actual stuffed fish version of the dish....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Yiddish - 1:11 PM Wednesday, January 30, 2008
[Oy, is it Jewish!]

Yiddish (and Yiddish Literature)

What chutzpah! I should schmooze with that schmegeggie? Oy, vey! Yes, we're talking Yiddish here, the fershlugginer Jewish language that refused to die. After being urged by Ksenya Gurshtein, an up-and-coming blogger, curator, and art historian, I added a Yiddish page to the Coffeeblog. As a kid, however, I was encouraged to avoid the use of Yiddish around starchy white Protestant Anglo-Saxons and other neighbors who might look down on this all-too-colorful linguistic remnant of the East European ghetto, or at the very least, find it bizarre, very foreign, and well, too Jewish. And they should have found it very, very Jewish. Because Yiddish is, you should pardon me for saying so, very, very Jewish. Oy, is it Jewish! In fact, Yiddish means "Jewish." In Yiddish. As a kid I heard some adults call the language "Jewish" rather than Yiddish. They were speaking English when they said that, of course.

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Schmegeggie - 5:45 PM Saturday, April 21, 2007
[A harrowing fershlugginer Internet search.]


It all began when I was putzing around the Internet when I should have been in bed. I had encountered a German word Schmiege, which, with various spellings, is a recurring surname in Jewish genealogical research in Poland and nearby areas. What does it mean? You would think something common and utilitarian. If you're a woodworker, it is. In eighth-grade shop class we used one, and we called it a "sliding T-bevel." It is related to a German verb schmiegen, which means to nestle up against something, which is what a sliding T-bevel does to your piece of wood if you sawed, planed, and sanded it properly....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Tsatskes - 4:14 PM Friday, March 2, 2007
[Is an RSS feed a toy? ]

Tsatskes (Tchotchkes)

When I was a kid my father often used a wonderful Yiddish word, tsatskes. When he used it, it was usually in the sense of the current term "collectible, " an object valued for its novelty and appeal, but lacking in gravitas (this.) In other words, a tsatske, according to him, was rather trivial, a knick-knack, a bibelot, a gewgaw, a gimcrack, an item of kitsch or schwag, a trinket, a low-end curio. My mother tastefully collected antiques and other curios, and I acquired from her a passion to collect all of the ephemera and linkable stuff which adorn this Coffeeblog (and which clutters my living space). However, I believe that my father's frequent use of the term tsatske was a warning to her that collectibles which did not rise above the level of tsatskes were not terribly welcome in the house....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Schmoozer, Spammer, or Squirrel? - 9:18 PM Friday, February 23, 2007
[Are 3000 contacts about 2600 too many?]

Is XFN the future of social software?

Almost two years ago I wrote an item for Jonathan's Coffeeblog about online social networking, which I called cyberschmoozing. Later I blogged about photo-sharing sites such as Flickr, and about "Web 2.0", a somewhat controversial catchall term for websites which enhance networking of people by enabling tagging and social relationship technology. In Flickr, for example, each member can designate contacts, who may or may not be friends or family members....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Chaos - 12:54 PM Friday, February 9, 2007
[Eppes gornisht?]

Chaos: the Mindmap

I started out writing about mindmapping, a popular technique for making notes and structuring ideas, when I realized that in order to structure something, you had to have something to structure. And that something, in its purest and most extreme form, would be chaos. And that's when I decided that I'd need to write about chaos before I wrote about mindmapping....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Christmas, Moravian Style - 3:33 PM Friday, December 22, 2006
[Yes, Virginia, there is a Putz.]

In 1415, a century before Martin Luther, Western Europe was already beginning to be torn apart by sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. That year, Jan Hus, a Czech priest, was burned at the stake for heresy. His followers, initially protected by King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia (that's right, it's the guy in the Christmas carol), carried on the early Protestant tradition; many went underground. Fast forward to 1700, when a German count named Zinzendorf gave refuge to stealth Protestant refugees from Moravia, the eastern part of what is now the Czech Republic. In 1741, on Christmas Eve, Zinzendorf and a group of Moravians founded a community in Pennsylvania, which they named Bethlehem ("House of Bread") after the village in the Judean hills where Jesus was born....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Search and You Shall Find... - 7:53 PM Sunday, November 12, 2006
[...this fershlugginer blog.]

Fershlugginer. Yes, fershlugginer.

Go figure. My statistical service tells me that the large majority of site visits to Jonathan's Coffeeblog come from search engines like Google and Google Images. Some folks come to stay and read more, others move on....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Putzing 2.0 - 5:01 PM Friday, September 15, 2006
[The Devil's Workflow.]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Fluff? - 1:30 PM Saturday, August 12, 2006
[Michigan mishegoss and more.]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Fershlugginer - 1:13 PM Wednesday, May 24, 2006
[A Jewish version of the blues, perhaps?]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

Purim - 4:38 PM Friday, March 10, 2006
[Thanks to a Jewish woman named Myrtle]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

The Role of Chutzpah in Art - 2:23 PM Friday, February 17, 2006
[What was Andres Serrano really trying to say?]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

The Golem of Prague - 5:43 PM Sunday, September 18, 2005
[And his (ulp!) ilk]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

The Other Giotto - 1:40 PM Friday, June 17, 2005
[Since when is "Schmaltz" Italian?]

... [Read More | Top of Page]

So Much to Procrastinate, So Little Time - 11:04 PM Thursday, March 10, 2005
[When is putzing around not putzing around?]

The Italians call it dolce far niente, sweetly doing nothing. In the Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora it's called putzing around. Today is a good day for it. It's a preview of spring, the Espresso Roma terrace is replete with gay chatter (not that kind of gay, the other kind of gay), and, as I write these words, it's three minutes before 3:00 PM—the hour at which most of the day has been shot to hell....

[Read More | Top of Page]

Yule for Jews? - 1:57 PM Friday, December 24, 2004
[The festival which dare not speak its name]

As a kid I was raised as a Jewish Socialist, meaning that I got a double-dose of Christmas guilt. As a Jewish child I was not supposed to get sucked into Christian proselytizing and as a Socialist I was not supposed to get sucked into the "opium of the masses." But I lived only a few miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the "Christmas City" and site of one of the world's most spectacular nativity scenes, the Moravian Putz. (That's right, it's called the Putz. The word has radically different connotations in Yiddish and Moravian German.)...

[Read More | Top of Page]

blog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)

Add to Technorati Favorites

Copyright ©2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Jonathan David Leavitt. All rights reserved.