Archive for June 14, 2009

Oy Vey

June 14, 2009 Leave a comment


I haven’t had occasion to mention this before, but I’m a big fan of Vows, the weekly featured wedding announcement in the NYT Sunday Styles section. You’re guaranteed a great story every week. And there’s a style to the pieces that I find difficult to describe but that Claire Messud parodied so perfectly in her novel The Emperor’s Children. That alone makes the novel worth reading.

Today we meet Elizabeth Wood and Gabriel Nussbaum. What got my attention wasn’t their story as much as the identity of Gabriel’s grandfather. As part of their story, we learn that Elizabeth and Gabriel made a trip to LA to visit Gabriel’s 97-year-old grandmother Ruth, whose husband Max is described as the rabbi in Hollywood who converted Elizabeth Taylor to Judaism. But that’s the least of his achievements. For more about his extraordinary life, see excerpts I’ve included after the jump from his biographical sketch at the American Jewish Archives website.

I couldn’t help but wonder, once I learned who Gabriel’s grandfather was, whether Elizabeth is Jewish. Could Gabriel marry a gentile? Well, yes. Three sentences later, we learn that

They were wed on June 6, as a nippy fog rolled in and 200 guests, including Ruth Nussbaum, gathered under a cherry tree in the garden of his parents’ Amagansett home. The ceremony was led by Dr. Arlis Wood, Ms. Wood’s father and a Church of Christ minister, and Cantor Debra Stein sang blessings.

The bride, wearing a pale mocha silk gown with peacock blue straps and a temporary “Elizabeth-Gabriel” tattoo on her arm, giggled and shouted, “I do.”

After a buffet of pulled-pork sliders and fried macaroni and cheese balls, friends and family paid tribute to the couple with a song and dance revue.

Pulled-pork sliders? I’m guessing that when Rabbi Nussbaum headed over to Cantor’s Deli after Temple Israel’s Shabbos services, he didn’t have pulled pork sliders. Chopped liver, maybe. Tongue, maybe. But pulled pork sliders?

I wonder what Ruth ate.

Read more…

Categories: Culture, Food, Religion

Saucepan Reasoning

June 14, 2009 Leave a comment


Two weeks ago, I wrote again post about the edible idiom feature at Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog Chocolate & Zucchini, in which she discusses a French idiom related in some way to food or cooking. Once more I can’t resist writing about her latest, which this week is “Raisonner comme une casserole.” Clotilde offers the translation “reasoning like a saucepan” and the explanation that “it means demonstrating poor logic, formulating arguments that are evidently flawed. It is a colloquial expression that should only be used in informal conversation.” She goes on to reveal the underlying pun, which becomes merely a near-pun in English:

It’s not hard to imagine that debating philosophical matters with a saucepan would lead you nowhere, but there is actually a little more to this idiom than that: it is in fact a pun that plays upon two homophonous verbs, raisonner, which means to reason, and résonner, which means to resound. So when you say, “il raisonne comme une casserole,” it is really a double entendre, meaning that the person has as much sense as a saucepan, but also implying that if you banged him on the head, it would likely echo.

I should explain that I may have been particularly charmed by this expression because I graded the last homework assignment and the final exams for my spring quarter course in the two days before Clotilde’s post appeared. The course is named Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning. It is intended to prepare students who have taken our standard lower-level math courses (calculus, linear algebra, differential equations) for the more rigorous courses that lie ahead. I had something to do with the department’s decision to introduce this course a decade ago, but by the time we started offering it, I had begun my multi-year teaching hiatus. Now that I’m back in the classroom, teaching it seemed like a good idea.

I would prefer to adhere to my general policy of not discussing my teaching experiences here at ronsview. I’ll restrict myself to two points. First, I’ve been humbled by the discovery (or, really, re-discovery) of how hard it is to teach reasoning. Second, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot of saucepan reasoning. My ears are still resounding.

Categories: Language, Math, Teaching