Welcome to My Journal

Hello, and welcome to my journal! If you're here through my website, then you're probably interested in my Jewish posts. If so, then please have a look at this list of Torah essays. I've also collected together descriptions of holidays and other Jewish occasions, which include a few wedding descriptions. And if you want my undying love and friendship, read and comment to my fanfic.

Everything on the list is in typical livejournal style; the entries describe the day as I experienced them. Though they contain Torah information, they are not intended as educational tools in the same way the website is. To read about my day-to-day life, just scroll down.

To regular lj-ers: This journal is about 50% friends-locked. I love new lj friends and I usually friend back, though sometimes it takes me a while to realize you're there. I don't have Internet at home, so while I can email posts, I don't get to read my flist as often as I'd like. With that in mind, friend me as you see fit.

What I Learned from Alan Rickman's Voice


Call me a lightweight, but my favorite Alan Rickman role will always be Snape. Snape is the most complex character in the Harry Potter series, and Alan Rickman did a spectacular job with him. Who can forget him holding his arms up to protect Harry and Hermione from Lupin as werewolf, or the scene of him crying over Lily’s dead body? But Snape wasn’t rising to heroics, he was just bitter and angry, and Rickman did that brilliantly, too. So when I heard his voice as Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide,” it kind of threw me through a loop. Rickman can snarl in anger, but he can also moan and quiver under depression and insecurity.

When all the Vogons were felled by a dose of Marvin’s perspective, I had an insight. Anger and depression are often responses to the same stimulus; namely, you’re not getting what you want. Anger riles you up to fight for it, and depression, the dysfunctional twin of sadness, takes away your will to fight. As one of the felled Vogons said, “Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, what’s the point?”

Sometimes it’s right to put up a fight. Sometimes it’s right to surrender. Snape didn’t get Lily, and fighting James couldn’t win her, so his anger was misplaced and self-destructive. He should have surrendered instead. He would have felt sad for a while, perhaps a long while, but the functional approach of sadness means mourning the loss, saying goodbye to that dashed hope, accepting it and moving on. Depression is refusal to say goodbye.

From this distance, it’s easy for me to say goodbye to Alan Rickman. I didn’t know him personally, though like everyone else, I’ll miss out on whatever brilliant work he might have done had he lived longer. His fellow actors are saying how nice a person he was, and that does come across in interviews. So I’m grateful to him for his work, and particularly, the insight he led me to with the power of his voice.


Need, Speed, and Greed: A Devar Torah from a Surprising Source

Normally I wouldn’t do an update for a book of some 250 pages; I’d just finish and write a review. But this one has actually inspired some Torah thoughts, though it is in fact an economics/business book. My Torah thoughts are too tangential to make the final review, so I thought I’d share them now. What better time than these High Holy Days?

The title of this book is Need, Speed, and Greed, and it is about how innovation is not only what drives the economy, it will save it. Many people might say that that’s so obvious a point, there’s no need for a book to explain it, but this author is describing all kinds of innovation going on right now, especially in the emerging economies of China, India, and Brazil. He also argues that not all innovation is necessarily good. He defines “good” by whether or not the innovation adds value to the economy.

The section on “Need,” which is what I’m up to now, explains this very well. As one medical researcher advises his students, it is better to innovate in order to solve a problem at hand than to invent something new and cool and then try and figure out how to make people want to use it. In other words, when inventing, put NEED first.

Believe it or not, this reminded me of a story from that great Hasidic Rebbe, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who said that he learned the meaning of love from two drunks sitting together in the gutter.

“I love you so much, my dear friend!” declared one.

“I love you even more,” exclaimed the other.

“Oh yeah?” said the first. “If you love me, then tell me right now: what is hurting me?”

That, said the great Rebbe, is the meaning of love. To Iove someone is to know what hurts them, what they are lacking, what they need. An even higher level of love, therefore, would be to actually do something to relieve that need. As the Jewish saying goes, “your ticket to the Next World is to improve someone else’s lot in this one.”

May Hashem bless us with the wisdom and ability to see our friends’ needs and take care of them and for our friends to receive the same so that they can help us with our needs. How much better the world would then be! Gmar chasima tova to all!

Millionaire Women Next Door

Good Reads, my very favorite website, is a social website about books. Like with Facebook or lj, you make friends, and sometimes your friends or even strangers "like" your reviews. Here's a review I wrote last year that got "liked" by a new user yesterday. It was interesting to re-read it. Boy, do I get personal in my reviews sometimes!

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Monster Butler cont'd


I sent the author of The Monster Butler a link to my review, and he responded with the following letter:

Dear Ms Housman
Many thanks for your kind comments. I have heard about the plans for a film about Hall, and like yourself, I have reservations about him being unjustifiably glorified. I have nothing to do with the production, and would imagine that my view on Hall's character are not what the producers would want to hear anyway. Please let me know if I can assist you in any way.
Best wishes
Allan ( Nicol )

Of course, if Evanna Lynch actually read my tweet to her the other day, she probably detests this fan by now.