The bazaar's specialty was Israeli-made Judaica decoratives -- jewelry, figurines, welcoming, inspirational paintings and prints. For the kiddies, several vendors sold toys, including the Judah Maccabee doll. According to the box, "He's now a huggable Hanukkah hero!" OK.
The center had two shelves of Jewish-themed videos for rent, including one starring "Sesame Street's" The Count called Tel Aviv. The shelf also had Blazing Saddles and Dirty Dancing -- back-to-the-mall stuff. I don't know if you'd call it a decoration or toy, but one table had a stuffed dolphin wearing an Israeli police helmet. They sat on a table next to Israeli police camels. I guess we really do have a lot to learn from Israeli law enforcement.
A little further down the aisle, I found the item I came for -- the shofar, a twisty hollowed-out antelope horn. When you blow into the narrow end, it makes an otherwordly bellow that (pardon my culture-jumping) sounds like something you'd hear through the fog shortly before being conquered by Vikings. Despite the salesman's aggressive sales pitch -- "Pick any shofar. I will blow it for you. Then you have to buy." -- I couldn't justify spending $150 on an object whose sole practical use is bothering my dogs.
I didn't leave the mall empty-handed though. From a table in the next aisle, I bought a Superman T-shirt -- the Superman "S" topped with an Orthodox hat and forelocks. In big black letters below the "S," it says "Super-Jew."
Boo ya!: I couldn't afford tickets to the actual SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome; they were fetching hundreds of dollars apiece. I did, however, manage to scrounge up $8 for the pre-game SEC Fanfare event next door at the World Congress Center. For my money, I got to watch red-and-black-attired drunks yelling, "Go Dawgs," at purple-and-gold-attired drunks yelling, "Go Tigers." Actually, you didn't have to pay to see that. The loudest shouting matches took place on the escalator outside the convention hall.
Less disturbingly, I got to watch families participate in football-themed amusements such as passing contests, tackle-dummied obstacle courses, slam-dunk contests and three-point shootouts. The biggest participatory attraction (drinking excluded) was the inflatable field-goal tent. It was only a 10-yard kick, but it was actually pretty difficult. Mr. Feely and Mr. Bennett, my respect for you has grown.
Jerkin' the gerkhin: On Saturday evening, the Publix on Pleasant Hill Road was the site of a protest by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. Protesters are pressing Publix to pull Mt. Olive pickle products from its shelves, citing the pickle producer's piss-poor labor practices in North Carolina, where the cucumbers are grown. The pickle protest was peaceful, but Publix nevertheless prompted police to place patrols in front of the store. Police persuaded protesters to proceed to the parking lot's perimeter, practically off the Publix property and onto the public pavement.
Prior to the protest, I peeked inside the Publix to see what precautions, if any, Publix was planning in preparation for potential problems from the plainly peaceful pickle protestors that might pop up. I saw three Publix employees poised in the pickle aisle, presumably to protect them from protesters. Pathetic.
Strum for your life: Last Friday night, Eddie's Attic in Decatur held one of its twice-yearly Acoustic Open Mic Shootouts. It's a chance for the club's weekly contest winners to compete against one another, with the winner feasting on the flesh of the losers.
To audiences, it's a treat, but also an endurance test -- not for the ears, but for the ass. With 22 performers doing a song each in the first round alone, the show lasts five hours from beginning to end.
The only non-tantric thing I can do for more than five hours at a time is sleep, so I showed up during the quarterfinals. The acts in the final rounds encompassed a wide range of styles. Nathan Mayberry, with his acoustic guitar and black cowboy hat, was (and presumably still is) a little bit country. Johnny Rockmore didn't live up to his last name, but he did sing a novelty song about Grandma's wooden leg. Mike Willis is a balladeer with a rich, supple voice, flip-flops and a story to tell.
The performers only got one song per round, a format that rewards musicians who can make a quick impact on judges. One of the "notice me" techniques employed more than once was a move I call the "Billy Ocean." One of Ocean's surefire crowd-pandering moves was changing the lyrics of his breakthough hit, "Caribbean Queen," to reflect the city in which he was performing. I can still amuse myself for several minutes at a time imagining the most aurally displeasing city names to the song -- Cleveland Queen, Jackson Hole Queen. (Note: If used on the radio, this technique is known as the "Jefferson Starship.")
In the quarterfinals, the John Frederick Band changed one of its lyrics to, "We got the love down at Eddie's Attic." It didn't work, but that didn't stop Nathan Mayberry from trying it in the finals. But rather than just drop the bar's name in, he sang a rhyming couplet about how singers who perform covers at Eddie's Attic are "suckers." It was a far more cunning pander than JFB's -- and it helped land Mayberry the evening's top prize, $1,000 and free recording time.
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