First Impressions of Lonely Avenue by Ben Folds: Revelation
September 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm, by Jonah Rank
I have to write about this from a few perspectives: one personal and one Jewish—and I’m not sure that these are such different angles.
Having pre-ordered the album, I got to download a digital copy of it today, its day of release.
Before I listen to it, I want to write down some preliminary thoughts about this. (I do want to reserve the right though to proofread what I’ve written afterwards—so that you don’t have to read a stream of consciousness piece of trash I thought up way too late one night.)
I was introduced to the music of Ben Folds probably about halfway through 6th Grade. My brother introduced me to Whatever And Ever Amen and said that I would enjoy listening to this CD on our train-ride from Penn Station to Short Hills, New Jersey to visit our grandparents in Springfield. I remember, blow-by-blow, how my 12-year old consciousness responded to each track:
“One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” – I thought the piano was amazing: such passion in the lower end of the keyboard, and such fluidity during that piano solo in the middle. I could tell that Ben Folds’ cuss words came from a place of passion. (I don’t swear in my own speech; this is something I believed in then and believe in now—shemirat lashon, literally “watching” my “tongue.” I am very conscious of the language that I use in my everyday speech, and I have yet to find myself in a situation where a curse word has been my only way out.)
I could empathize with Ben Folds. He didn’t want to have to say these words, but there was real anger he felt about a childhood where he was misunderstood, and he now had gained some power of his own. (I later found out just how much Ben Folds curses—not out of anger though; it’s simply how he speaks.)
“Fair”—I remember being mesmerized by the wide open spaces created by the bass (which, at the time I thought was a guitar) in that long drawn out opening; I was being pulled into another dimension: a dimension wherein I could be one with the story that Ben Folds was telling. I became inseparable from the characters in the story. I had not directly experienced any particular piece of the narrative Ben Folds told, but I could still somewhat relate to all of the emotional subtext beneath these words.
There was something further hypnotizing in that transition that happened, with the help of some fills on the drums, between “All is fair in love” and the carefree attitude of the scatted “bababa”s. I remember my entire head feeling surrounded by the question of “Am I right?” during that sweeping bridge.
I remember having a giddiness inside of me as I heard the “Oom-pa” of the lower notes beneath the honky-tonk right hand of the outro in the piano. There was a certain awe that grabbed me in the architecture of this song.
- “Brick”—I remember feeling cold as soon as the acoustic aura of the song was marked from the first notes and bars. It felt to me just like the “day after Christmas” (a funny feeling for a Jew by the way—when younger, I often felt was Christmas as an empty, dull day for us non-Christians; TV was relatively dull, the Internet was young, and the physical world was largely closed). Every word of the song spoke to me—even though I had no clue what it was about (abortion, I later found out).
- “Song for the Dumped”—What a wild opening! This was a crazy song, with a catchy but simple melody. Again, the cussing. Ben Folds was mad, and he didn’t need to be this mad. But he somehow could wipe away some of that fury in a blur of honky-tonk riffs. Music was the treatment for the symptom of Dumped.
“Selfless, Cold & Composed”—This song had a reserved, wintry sound about it—I realize now, because of the ride cymbals in the beginning. I remember feeling carried along—very comfortably!—in a sea of troubles building up to the peaks of the bridges as Ben sang “Come on baby, now, throw me a right to the chin” and still even higher at the final repetitions of the eponymous hook.
I realize why now, but the ending of that song sounded to me like a decomposition of the supposedly “composed:” the ascending dynamics with the descending bass tones that come to a halt and return to the very simple beginning riffs where the song began.
Somehow today this very explicit concept of artistic design feels very synonymous with Akavya ven Mahalal’el’s teaching that humanity begins at humble origins (a “putrid drop” he says) and ends in a debased low of dust and worms and the like (Pirkei Avot 3:1).
- “Kate”—A good old-fashioned kind of song: with some explicitly not old-fashioned-sounding lyrics like “I think she smokes pot/She’s everything I want/She’s everything I’m not.” The percussion on this song made me feel like I was listening to a sequel to Billy Joel’s “Don’t Ask Me Why.” (Today I know better.) I was enjoying this free ride through the universe of worthy music: this was a song for the canon of good music for all sorts of crowds.
- “Smoke”—A song of despair: tearing out and burning the pages of the book of stories: the chronicles: to me, the Bible. NOTE: IT IS NOW PAST MIDNIGHT AND IT IS TECHNICALLY SEPTEMBER 29, 2010 NOW. THE RELEVANCE OF THIS OBSERVATION WILL BE CLEARER LATER. I did not know why a sweet guy like Ben Folds would be singing about burning away the past. Morality, history, the Bible, and tradition, to me, had always been very intimately linked.
- “Cigarette”—An unusual song of short length: the song was at the same time one of the slowest songs I had ever heard and one of the fastest; the entire story had been told so quickly. The topography of the song was so pristine, and so expressive, and it set me up to be ready for draying, but…
“Steven’s Last Night in Town”—WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was the Revelation of Rock and Roll to me at Mount Sinai. Yes, the song might not be rock and roll per se, but this was jazzy and swingy with a distortion pedal and an absolutely crazy clarinet and violin, among all sorts of other sounds.
I wish that I had words to describe what happened when I listened to this song, but it was in a sense ineffable. I had never heard anything like it before, and nothing like it before preceded by something so humbling as the solo piano and voice of “Cigarette.”
From the wild glissando at the beginning I could tell that I was getting myself into some exciting territory: a bumpy ride and a story about one peculiar Steven. “Every night now will be Steven’s last night in town.”
This song brought me into an ecstatic state that I hoped would be eternal, every night now.
The energy of the beginning took very smooth shapes to simultaneously diminish and ascend during the instrumental and the scats, and, even when the drums were the most prominent instruments (defeating the volume of the instruments just holding a select few notes), the energy never quite died.
When the instruments broke so Ben could sing the words “last night in town” for the last time, somehow the energy of the band hovered behind his voice: the party, like that shofar described in Exodus 19:19, “holekh vechazek” (“goes on and goes on strong”).
- “Battle of Who Could Care Less”—After “Steven’s Last Night in Town,” it was hard honestly to pay attention to the rest of the album; all I could hope for was one more ecstatic experience. Fortunately, Ben offered another fun canonize-able, memorable song.
- “Missing the War”—Again, I could hardly pay attention, but I thought that this ballad was nonetheless beautiful and beautifully articulated in the intense drumming.
- “Evaporated”—I found this song mysterious: the hook hauntingly beautiful, but I could not figure out where tonally the song was heading at first; and the end (a IV 2-5 chord) simply did not resolve. It was not clear to me what the aim of the song was and whether or not I had caught it. This was a song that only proved to me the necessity of hearing this album again.
So, in 2000, I listened to this 1997 album not just once or twice or three times, but probably literally dozens of times. I had to catch up on popular sonorities. Note: It is now October 15 as I continue to write this. There was something very poignant two weeks ago about writing this circa Simchat Torah, the holiday when Jews around the world complete their annual cycle through reading the whole Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). We complete Deuteronomy—the final moments of the words mythically revealed at Sinai—and we return to Genesis—those first few moments of Sinaitic revelation which we now renew and reenact by starting all over again. Again, it is October 15, and I still have not listened to Lonely Avenue. As a Ben Folds fan, this is a bit painful. I have heard a mix of positive and negative comments about the album, and I am willing to believe that this will be a good album. I am a Hasid, a devotee, of Ben Folds’. I have a feeling that I will give this album a positive outlook. I might be one of the few Ben Folds fans who find immense beauty in Way to Normal, and that is a conversation for another time. Anyway, back to the subject:
Whatever and Ever Amen was not simply an awesome album to my ears. It opened up my ears, my aural eyes. I had previously been convinced that there was no good rock music and no relatable rock music in my life. Ben Folds Five’s sophomore album was somehow a gateway for me to enter the world of accepting rock and roll. Up until that point, the only CDs I personally owned were Billy Joel (he was the one exception to rock and roll being bad because Billy Joel was awesome—keep in mind that I was still a sixth grader who was in the very slow process of giving up on video games, an addiction that lasted about 5 wonderful years).
Whatever and Ever Amen happened into my life just before I turned 13, when I would become a Bar Mitzvah, and accept my responsibilities as an adult member of the Jewish community.
I immediately spent time searching for more Ben Folds Five music, searching record store catalogs for the other Ben Folds Five CDs: Ben Folds Five, Naked Baby Photos, and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (and Ben Folds’ solo album Fear of Pop: Volume I). I read up on Ben Folds Five and became a regular reader of the band’s official message board. And, in that era of Napster, I downloaded every bootleg and rarity I could find. I was mesmerized.
Although their new songs “Prince Charming,” “Tell Me What I Did” and “Amelia Bright” promised me that their next album would be awesome, in October of 2000, Ben Folds Five announced their disbanding.
I had not even seen this band live, and I was only a month away from the ceremony in which I would publicly be recognized as a Bar Mitzvah, a Jewish adult. (The way things worked out with my moving at the age of 12 is that I was assigned a later date to become a Bar Mitzvah. Though one automatically becomes a Bar Mitzvah at the age of 13, I was almost 13 ½ at the celebration.)
Despite the breakup, not all hope was lost: Ben Folds had a solo song coming out for the soundtrack of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which was released just a few days before my big day (and the song was amazing: I couldn’t believe that Ben Folds could play this multidimensional song on so many instruments). And in that same time, Ben Folds wrote a letter promising fans that his new and first solo album (under his own name anyway—not the name of Fear of Pop) would be coming out.
Then, 9/11 changed my life.
9/11 was an unusual day for all of the reasons that anyone can recognize it as a day unique in American history.
I went to the Carvel I usually go to and spoke to the kind Muslim man who always gave me ice cream; this was a hard day for him, and he told me briefly about how his family is always subject to discrimination. Nobody knew what was going on that early in the day (my mother had picked me up from school early). I thought that this could be the onset of a war in America. The music was comforting and inspiring, but the truest inspiration caught me in the evening.
I was scared and frightened and, after reciting the Shema as I normally did before going to bed, I recited an additional prayer, like I usually did before going to bed. I don’t recall my actual prayer, but I was concerned for my own safety. This has never exactly happened to me since then, but on that day I heard some Divine Voice speak into my inner ear—this is something that I cannot articulate too much more eloquently—and I found comfort in its four words: “It will be alright.”
Schizophrenia? Prophecy? Synesthesia? An actual encounter with the Divine? I don’t know what it was, and I am hesitant to label it as anything other than a moment that was, to me, Divine, and, to me, all the spiritual evidence that I will need for the rest of my life to believe that God doesn’t not exist—even if I do not understand God. This moment in my life seemed less significant to me than it does today, and I had become a different spiritual person on that same day that Ben Folds had been reborn as a solo artist.
Over the next few years—that drag known as “high school”—I became extremely introverted, focusing more and more on my musical identity and kept following Ben Folds ardently (taking possession of all of his new EPs, including his collaboration with The Bens, and then purchasing his Songs for Silverman and Songs for Goldfish).
High school was a difficult time in my life for all sorts of reasons—psychological, theological and otherwise—but Ben Folds’ music helped keep me going. I would only hear a few years after high school that Ben Folds had been simultaneously struggling through other issues (largely related to marital difficulties).
College started, and Ben Folds released a collection of B-sides, alternative takes, and songs from the EPs: not necessarily a full-fledged CD, but still worth my appreciation.
In my Junior year, Ben Folds released a real Way to Normal and a fake album of the same name, and then Ben Folds rereleased theses tracks in the form of Stems and Seeds so that fans could make the album into something they wanted to listen to: fortuitous timing for my assignment to create a remix for my Recording class I took in the spring of 2009. (I remixed “You Don’t Know Me” with, doing among other things, raising Ben Folds’ voice an octave and lowering Regina Spektor’s an octave, so as to create a gender reversal in the song.) In that spring, I began producing an album for Ghanaian poet Ishmael Osekre and I also began considering leaving Conservative Judaism for Modern Orthodox Judaism. (I didn’t leave Conservative Judaism for Modern Orthodoxy, and Osekre’s album No Turning Back From Here is, in my opinion, fantastic!)
So, here I am: again standing at a liminal moment of sorts. I have just begun Rabbinical School and, in a sense, am still testing the waters. I happen to be in Rabbinical School in the same school where I did about half of my undergraduate studies. In that sense, I have read the entire Torah; I have seen this building through-and-through for four years, and now I’m starting this building again—for another 4-5 years. And, as is often the time for me when I am starting a new part of my journey, Ben Folds seems to have embarked on a new journey in life: a collaboration with British novelist Nick Hornby. This collaboration comes too as I begin a program where I spend almost every day working with a Chevruta, study-partner, as pairs of us Rabbinical students approach Jewish texts, reminding me of Ben Folds’ and Nick Hornby’s collaborative process of seeking crafted pop and rock art.
(Having said all of this, keep in mind that this piece that I’m writing is a stream of consciousness—written so far only during moments when I’ve been overtired.)
It’s time for me to listen to this CD, to experience it, and to stenograph my stream of consciousness as it relates to that Jewish lens through which I am inclined to see everything in my own life.
A Working Day: WOW! I love this intro. The Moog and clav are an awesome soundsphere! This makes me feel good, as this stream of consciousness reminds me that I am not alone. Wow… total shift! And this is classic old Ben Folds, with him doing all of the instruments! I missed this on the last few albums when he’d record with a band. I feel it’s always important to be independent. Gaining the capability to be independent I believe is something important to me both Jewishly and in all facets of my life. It’s the impetus to study.
Ben Folds’ determination to play all instruments inspired me to do the same on my first album and other albums as well. It’s been a goal of mine to study as much as I can. Eyzehu chakham? Hallomed Mikkol Adam. What indicates a wise person? One who learns from all of humanity (Pirkei Avot 4:1)…
Picture Window: This orchestration is beautiful! I was disappointed the first time I heard this piano intro though in snippets I had heard from the album. I had heard poppier cuts of this song from live performances and a demo that was released of this song. Focusing on the lyric, something of a fatalism about it, there’s something very beautiful about it I didn’t realize the first few times I had heard other versions of it. “He’ll still be sick in 2009.” Eyn Kol Chadash Tachat Hashamesh: there is nothing new under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). So Ecclesiastic. Hope is a liar. Hakkol Havel. All is futile (Ecclesiastes 1:3).
Levi Johnston’s Blues: Again, a song I’ve cheated with… I’ve heard demos and live versions of this. I really enjoy the soundscape I’m hearing this time, which I had not previously heard.
There’s something very seductive about the shakers: an instrument whose name suggests the wildness of movement. Interestingly enough, I was reading this morning about a seemingly Kabbalistic, mystical, association of dance with shame: that mecholot (dances) are somehow associated with a mystical quality of Ma’adim (the shaming) (commentary of Rabbenu Bachyey on Exodus 15:20 s.v. “Vattikkach Miryam Hannevi’ah”). I can’t say that I understand (or agree with) that necessarily, but there’s something very transgressive indeed that I hear both in the shakers and the music (“sex outside marriage is against our religion,” sings Folds). This is the music of “sin” and confusion. Now this is art! Especially for something with such a potentially inane chorus (taken from Levi Johnston’s MySpace profile). The shakers from Chad Chapin and Paul Buckmaster’s string arrangements have somehow revealed the inner drama of what could otherwise be deemed stupid.
There is something very resonant within comedy in that, because things are funny because they’re true, I sincerely believe that humor reveals inner truths of humanity. And this track somehow has captured all of those layers: both the inner troubles of sin, and the outer hilarity of the controversial lifestyle of Levi Johnston, impregnator of the teenage Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, opposed to abortions on religious grounds.
Doc Pomus: WOAH! I LOVE THIS DRUM THING AND THE PIANO! I have not heard a song like this in a while! This makes me think of a mellow “Dog” or something, yet with somehow more energy at a slower beat.
I am trying to decide how I feel about the shortened “2” of “1962.” I suppose it captures that moment in time.
There’s something very magical about music: the ability to turn every second into an art of something between sound and silence. There’s something very holy about every second, about every moment in time: a classmate of mine in rabbinical school recently put it, that this is the time that God has given her and she can never get it back when she loses time. I am not sure if I can agree necessarily 100% with that Hashkafah (outlook), but something in there certainly rings true within me. This is the story of the genius who does not relate to society. Certainly this story is there. I recall once hearing Rabbi Menachem Creditor telling the story of a particular rabbi whose colleagues never understood his brilliance because he had so much passion that overtook his words.
Your Dogs: There’s something so excitingly hilarious about this “Woah!” Oh God… this song is amazing! I love these words! Great narrative…
I love the synthesizer replacing a hypothetical line like “Maybe I can go get my gun” after “And sometimes I let my fantasies run.” There is something very powerful about verbal silence, even if it is replaced by synthesizer. Rabban Shim’on ben Gamli’el taught that there’s nothing more becoming of humanity than silence (Pirkei Avot 1:17). I love the offbeat-ness of this song. The complex time signatures are amazing. This is a talent of Ben Folds he often underplays. His song “Bastard” excelled in this, and he has had a few other songs here and there where the time signatures just are out of wack. I love that.
Practical Amanda: This song has something of a different feel that I think will require some repetition for me to better comprehend. “I’ve got no time” however is giving me the contrast that I need. This chorus has a nice hook. “Saved one life and made two others:” words resonant with the words of Genesis 12:5 when Sarai and Abram are remembered as having literally made souls: perhaps the livelihoods they chose, perhaps they taught monotheistic ways to others, perhaps they imparted their values to others. What does this have to do with Practical Amanda? Perhaps there is something about collaboration (over individual living) that has greater potential for creating lives and saves them from detrimental lifestyles.
Claire’s Ninth: I love this intro and this acoustic guitar. There’s such a beautiful soundscape on this album: something I haven’t heard on a Ben Folds album in this way. “I wish you knew how this all got twisted.” I am reminded of two things: Dave Matthews Band’s “Raven” talks about the father (seemingly a religious figure, seemingly a priest) and a boy, twisting. There’s something very twisted in DMB’s song, and “twisting” is such a strange word: it’s like screwing. How everything gets screwed up. And the author of Ecclesiastes takes a negative turn towards the twists: that which is twisted cannot be fixed, he (or she?) says (Ecclesiastes 1:15). Marital difficulties involve some, crudely put (but not as crudely as possible), screwing—twisting.
Password: An interesting piano part. There’s something more mechanical about the beginning of this piano than Ben Folds usually offers.
Now that the second stanza has entered, there seems to be something very mathematical and less mechanical and repetitive about the piano, but something brilliant really.
I love this.
The playing with passwords: so personal. They reveal some of those most profoundly personal instincts of people. Of course, Judaism speaks of two polar instincts: the yetzer hattov and the yetzer hara, the good inclination, and the bad inclination, respectively. In life we learn to recognize each other’s tendencies and the way that we react instinctively.
The strings on this song are beautiful! And there’s something so beautiful about the way that this song about machines follows some sort of mechanic arrangement on the piano and … these lyrics are beautiful, discovering the inner self of people through extrapolating the passwords within the secret chambers of the soul, and revealing them in a song for the entire public. WOAH! WHAT AN ENDING!
From Above: I recently cheated and watched the music video that was directed by someone involved with The Simpsons. It’s beautiful. The song itself did not reveal as much to me as the video, serving as a Midrash, a secondary explanation of the original text, the song.
There’s something very eschatological and something very Divinely conscious about this song, more so than any other song heard so far on this record I believe. The images of angels in the music video sort of pointed this out to me. But the chorus of “It’s so easy from above,” that all things could be so easily known in Heaven points to that classic paradox in Judaism, that, even though Hakkol Tzafuy (all is foreseen by the Divine), there is still free will in the world (Pirkei Avot 3:15).
“Maybe that’s how books get written. Maybe that’s how songs get sung.” Wow… the exertion of the experience into the art that gives civilization some extra meaning in life. And I can’t believe Ben Folds played this entire song on his own again!
Saskia Hamilton: I found out that this song is about a Columbia professor! I never had her. This song is NUTS! I love it! Again, these crazy time signatures!
“Gonna live with her”: here my mind wanders to Halakhah, Jewish law. Sexual mores in the eyes of rock and roll. Something I must explore more.
This song makes me want to find out more about Saskia Hamilton’s poetry. Apparently it’s awesome, but I should probably explore some for myself.
From a Jewish perspective, I must admit that this song just bewilders me because it bewilders me from a humanistic perspective devoid of a Judaic lens. BUT WHAT A SONG!
Belinda: Oh… this song… I love! I have a bootleg mp3 of this song from a concert. I love the brilliance of the structure.
The chorus of “She had big breasts” always reminds me of the superficiality so often associated with physicality praised in song—whether poetry or music. Al tistakkel bakkankan ella bemah sheyyesh bo: do not look at the bottle but what is inside of it (Pirkei Avot 4:20): do not judge a book by its cover.
This album has Ben Folds playing a lot of acoustic guitar. I’m very impressed actually. He talks a lot about how he can’t play guitar, but he’s doing a fine job on this album.
Wow, this orchestration is nuts! Go Buckmaster! And the integration of the sound effects from audio production… plus the whir of the synthesizer from the Live at MySpace performance! There’s something very majestic—Divine confusion—about the final lines of “She gave me complimentary champagne” ending with the flatted 6th going eventually into a perfect resolution at the tonic. Wow, what a song! Wait… there’s 1:25 left, and it’s silent.
What’s going on? A bonus track? I LOVE BONUS TRACKS! (Probably too much.)
It’s back into a 70s song… this is hilarious!
The consciousness emerges.
Things You Think: Nick Hornby speaking… hearing the author’s voice. Finally.
There’s something very fulfilling in revelation about hearing the author. Although the Torah is assumed to be Divine in traditional Judaism, there is a quest that has happened for centuries to seek out the most Divine words of the Bible.
In contemporary scholarship, academics often look out for portions of the Bible that are earlier than others. Some voices may resonate more deeply with the Author than others.
There’s a magic in this track about hearing the voice of the author. There’s something almost even more sincere hearing it come from the author than from the musician—even when they can relate to each other’s experiences.
Christian Life: Woah! That deep bass synth!
I love this chordal piano thing, and the Synth sounds.
“Movie actors do it all the time.” The worship of American Idols? “Avoiding the subject of what’s down below….” “It’s just a job…” I suppose that religion is a crazy business. I am going into it too. How does one balance honesty of the negative and the positive in a world where the favored values of religion, in my eyes as a future preacher, may be those values that are most inspiring and changing for the better?
Picture Window (Pop Version): This is more similar to the version that I know. But this song seems to be the same song. I really love the bass pulse in this one. And there is something so bucolic about the sound of the French horn here. Why the French horn? The picture window… “Hope’s got no place in days like these.” Hope cannot even be in the rural fields?
Ooh, this synthesizer! Awesome! I love this overlaying of the synthesizer, and the glockenspiel is amazing too!
Wow, the distortion on this version’s second chorus is so powerful and overwhelming!
The instrumental: the French horn is repetitive a little bit for the sake seemingly of explaining the static status of the environs.
A “bright crown…” “Spirits rise…” Rising to see the Sovereign above? Is elevation good or bad? I don’t know how to respond to so many of the questions tackling me upon my first listen…
Y’know I think that this album is not outside of the realm of religion, just not always very friendly to it. And it’s okay to struggle: Yisra’el does mean “The one who wrestles with God.”
THE END: I guess that’s it. That’s the revelation of the first album of a Ben Folds/Nick Horny collaboration. As you can tell, I suppose that my first reactions are never EXTREMELY coherent (having said that, I will come back and fill in a few citations above that I couldn’t recall offhand). I guess that what you do after you finish that Torah, literally “projection,” that has been revealed to you is you start it all over again: that’s Simchat Torah. I think it’s time to listen to the album again. I have a new favorite album for some time now…
Tags: 1997, 2010, 9/11, A Working Day, Abram, Al tistakkel bakkankan ella bemah sheyyesh bo, Album, Amelia Bright, Angels, Bar Mitzvah, Bastard, Battle of Who Could Care Less, Ben Folds, Ben Folds Five, Bizarre Christmas Incident, Bob Dylan, boy, Brick, Bristol Palin, Carvel, Chad Chapin, Chevruta, Christian Life, Cigarette, Claire's Ninth, Cold and Composed, Columbia University, Conservative Judaism, Darren Jessee, Dave Matthews Band, Divinity, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastic, EPs, Evaporated, eyzehu chakham, Fair, Fear of Pop: Volume I, From Above, Gender reversal, Genesis 12:5, Hakkol havel, Halakhah, hallomed mikkol adam, holekh vechazek, hope, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Israel, Jared Reynolds, Jewish law, Jewish Theological Seminary, Kate, Levi Johnston, Levi Johnston's Blues, Lonely Christmas Eve, Love & Theft, Missing the War, Modern Orthodoxy, Music Video, Naked Baby Photos, Napster, Nick Hornby, One Angry Dward and 200 Solemn Faces, Open Orthodox Judaism, Osekre, Password, Paul Buckmaster, piano, Picture Window, Pirkei Avot, Pirkei Avot 1:17, Pirkei Avot 4:20, Pirkey Avot, Practical Amanda, Priest, Prince Charming, Raven, Revelation, Robert Sledge, Sarah Palin, Sarai, Saskia Hamilton, Schizophrenia, Selfless, Simchat Torah, Simhat Torah, Smoke, Song for the Dumped, Songs for Goldfish, Songs for Silverman, Stems and Seeds, Steven's Last Night In Town, Synesthesia, Tell Me What I Did, The Simpsons, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, there is nothing new under the sun, Torah, twisting, Video games, Way to Normal, Whatever And Ever Amen, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Yisra'el, איזהו חכם, אין כל חדש תחת השמש, אל תסתכל בקנקן אלא במה שיש בו, הולך וחזק, הכל הבל, הלומד מכל אדם