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What a day! - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
February 28th, 2003
06:19 pm

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What a day!
Yesterday was my 26th birthday. I don't care much for birthdays. In particular, I don't like the custom of giving presents to people on their birthday. I do like giving presents! I think presents are great; I just don't like the necessity, created by custom, of finding something nice to give a person on a particular day. I like giving presents on unbirthdays -- the surprise of an unexpected gift on an unbirthday is so much more heartwarming. Accordingly, I never make anything of my own birthday, and often don't make much of other people's birthdays. I try to call and say "happy birthday", or give a birthday hug, but I often don't give presents on a person's birthday, instead giving presents to my friends whenever I find something that I think they'd really like.

Earlier this week, ygurvitz announced that the Angolo School, i.e. Sonis the Incomparable (antinous), Itamar the Proletarian (ravell), Yossi the Sagacious (ygurvitz), and la belle dame sans merci, batilda, invites me to join them on Thursday, to watch the musical Chicago. I graciously accepted. Only on Wednesday did I realize that Thursday would be my birthday. "Hmm", I thought, "that sounds suspiciously like a birthday moosing." A brief conversation with ygurvitz verified my suspicion, but also made it clear to me that recalcitrance is nugatory (hey, goliard!).

On Thursdays my first class at TAU is at 12:00pm, so I usually get to have a relaxed morning (a relaxed morning of doing homework, that is, but still...), but yesterday I was summoned to work for some meeting, so I had to get up early and go to spend a couple of hours at work. Work left me in a good mood, and I arrived in TAU feeling chipper. ravell greeted me with happy birthday wishes, and surprised me by announcing that I have been publicly recommended for the Israel Prize (פרס ישראל) for my involvement with Project Ben-Yehuda (Hebrew; English intro here). That was a bit of a surprise. I asked for details, and it turns out that Dr. Dror Burstein, who teaches Hebrew Literature at HUJI, wrote in his column in the Jerusalem magazine "Kol Ha'Ir" some very nice things about the project, and declared that I deserve the Israel Prize for it. This is not to say that I've been actually nominated for the prize officially, but it was a huge compliment by Dr. Burstein. The project's the thing, of course, and its being there is my best reward, not to mention the e-mail feedback I regularly receive from people who love the project, some quite sentimental.

Nevertheless, this put a big smile on my face for the rest of the day. One class was pretty bad, but the other was fantastic (Auden and Pound and a profound, brilliant professor teaching me -- whee!), and at 18:00 I met with ygurvitz and ravell, we drove to pick up batilda, and headed to the cinema, where we were joined by antinous, passacaglio, and lukkke. The movie was a very good show. The musical numbers starring Gere were my particular favorites. During the break, the perpetually plotting ygurvitz cleared his throat and ceremoniously awarded me a certificate that reads as follows (Hebrew, rough translation follows):

[picture of the flag of Greece]
המועצה לקידום התרבות ההלנית

מעניקה בזאת למר אסף ברטוב את התואר הגבוה ביותר שניתן להעניק לברברי מלוכלך לבן התרבות ההלנית שמוצאו איננו מהלאס גופא:

אב יווני

תואר זה מוענק בשל נטייתו המוכחת, המתועדת והמודעת של מר ברטוב לאתר את המקור היווני של כל מילה, בכל שפה, וזאת תוך שיחת חולין יום-יומית.

התואר אינו מחייב אבהות בפועל.

ולראיה באתי על החתום,
יוספוס גורבציבנוב
ארכימנדריט

translation:
The Hellenic Culture Council hereby awards Mr. Asaf Bartov the highest distinction that may be given a filthy barbarian a Hellene not born in Hellas itself: Greek Father. This distinction is given for the proven, well-documented and intentional habit of Mr. Bartov of tracing the Greek origin of any word, in any language, during everyday discourse.
The distinction does not require actual fatherhood.
Signed,
Yosephus Gurvitzivanov
Archimandrite</div>

Isn't that cool? I was also awarded a similar certificate purportedly in the name of the Israeli Role-Playing Society (which I co-founded with ygurvitz, dotandimet, yggdrasil_, and four others), naming me
חטיאר (בדימוס)
(translation: "Old Geezer (ret.)"). Laughs were had. batilda gave me an adorable little moose figurine. ravell got me a book I wanted (by Ruth Almog).

After the movie, we hit one of my favorite restaurants (Columbus, in Herzlia) and dined (for gaal: doun) sumptuously. Laughs were had. Two margaritas into the fun, we alternated between discussing Levi-Strauss's shortcomings as a theorist, coming up with wacky historical conspiracy theories, and I surprised even my wily mentor ygurvitz when I demanded of him, following its occurring to me in a flash: "Who was Martin Luther's main assistant/pupil, and how do we tie him with alchemy?" For fun, I'll leave that unanswered and see if any of you can come up with something. I'm offering a round of your choice of drink for a convincing answer. (we're talking conspiracy theory logic here; it doesn't have to be completely reasonable, just plausible and interesting enough.)

Then home, for the sleep of the righteous. Ah, what a day! I am blessed and fortunate to have my friends. Thank you.

Current Mood: fortunate
Current Music: Goran Bregovic -- Talijanska

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:passacaglio
Date:February 28th, 2003 08:25 am (UTC)

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From:ukelele
Date:February 28th, 2003 03:58 pm (UTC)
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Yesterday was my 26th birthday

Happy unbirthday!

Also, I love that certificate. Laughter. (Envy. ;)
[User Picture]
From:unfilthy
Date:March 1st, 2003 02:18 am (UTC)

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In holland, a person gives out presents on her/his birthday.

Love the certificate.
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From:wildernesscat
Date:March 2nd, 2003 08:28 pm (UTC)

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I try to call and say "happy birthday", or give a birthday hug,...

I will come and claim the hug next month ;-)
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From:velfadar
Date:March 4th, 2003 02:29 pm (UTC)

כבוד

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Shamefully admitting my ignorance as to The Good Dr.'s greatness (or even existence, for that matter...), but a recommendation for פרס ישראל sounds pretty impressive to me...
No doubt a due compliment.
Happy un-Birthday. :-)
Noa
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