Monday, September 29, 2008

Visit Your Grandparents, Save the World

Not to be the only Jewish blogger on the face of the earth who has failed to comment on the latest Sarah Silverman video, here it is, embedded with some commentary. (Special thanks to Avi M. for the input)

To the young, liberal college students and graduates who believe that the election of Barack Obama will heal all societal ills, comedienne Sarah Silverman has a message for you: “I’m making this video to urge all of you to schlep over to Florida and convince your grandparents to vote Obama.”
“The Great Schlep,” a project of JewsVote.org, has received over a million hits on the site by the same name, YouTube and FunnyOrDie. It is perhaps Silverman’s most sincere Internet video ever, at least according to Ari Wallach, one of the co-executive directors of JewsVote.org, who claims, “it is zero percent tongue in cheek.” The federal PAC seeks to answer the following question- why do polls show that Obama’s projected share of the Jewish vote is hovering around 60 percent when typical democratic presidential candidates can expect to receive 72-76 percent of the Jewish electorate?
To raise Obama’s percentages and swing the crucial state of Florida into the Democrat’s column, Wallach and Mik Moore conceived of “The Great Schlep” and enlisted Silverman’s help. Whether the comedienne’s pleas will fall on ipod-clogged ears is anyone’s guess but she makes a good case for understanding based on the similarities between her grandparents and younger black men such as, “tracksuits…they both love tracksuits” and “all their friends are dying.” By my count, that’s two more things that young black men have in common with young Jewish Obama supporters.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

And for the High Holidays...

This classic episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which Larry David buys High Holiday tickets from a scalper.



Shana Tova!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Maybe I'll learn to ride a bike

Though I've often characterized bicycles as "two wheeled instruments of death," I'm thinking of starting to ride one. No, I'm not trying to reduce my carbon footprint. As an avid pedestrian and rider of public transportation, mine is pretty negligible, at least in the commuting department.

But I want to pollute in a different kind of way. I want to corrupt the minds of young Hasidic men with the sight of my bare ankles and knees and elbows as I breeze on by on a beach cruiser. I want them to go crazy with lust that they can't focus on Torah study. According to this article in the New York Post, the Hasidim in Williamsburg want to eliminate bike lanes that invite immodestly dressed female cyclists into the neighborhood.

"I have to admit, it's a major issue, women passing through here in that dress code," Simon Weisser, a member of Community Board 1 in Williamsburg-Greenpoint, told The Post.



(This will soon be me- except without the leggings. I'm not a Lindsay Lohan wannabe.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fraud Alert! Or Hot Frau Alert!

So today I received the phone call every young girl dreams about-

Ma'am, I'm calling about $10 purchase you made at a Best Buy in Michigan.

I flinched, first at the "ma'am" (I'm 25!) and then at the news of my purchase. I've never been to Michigan unless you count a layover in Detroit. And I had not been to a Best Buy in months. In fact the credit card in question hadn't been in use for over a year because the interest rate had skyrocketed.

I told the credit card representative to cancel the card. I then proceeded to call the rest of my credit card companies to check for suspicious charges. And then I ordered a credit check (still waiting on the results of that one).

And then I reminisced.

Aah, the memories.

You see, this was not the first time that my credit card number had been stolen. Back as a nineteen year old sophomore in college, I went to withdraw $20 from an ATM and was informed that there were insufficient funds. This after I had just deposited a check of several hundred dollars. This after I had foolishly purchased something online using my debit card.

I called my bank who informed me that I had bought lots of building supplies. You know, wood, nails, a drill.

For my dorm room? I asked. They got my point (eventually).

And that was not all. In addition to my hardware and lumber purchases," I" also bought a copy of Briana Loves Jenna, a classic piece of lesbian porn. So I'm guessing that I had been victimized by 1. A butch lesbian 2. A lipstick lesbian (likes the ones pictured below) who needed to build a shed. Or 3. A male college student (the last one seems most likely).

I was notified by my purchase via email by Adult DVD Empire (my email address had been connected to the stolen debit card number). And for the next two years, no matter how many times I tried to unsubscribe, I kept receiving weekly emails from the porn site, letting me know about their new releases.

I eventually called the site and told them that I had been the victim of credit card fraud and that I was a very devout O
rthodox Jewish woman who would never watch porn. They removed me from their mailing list.



But now I'm no longer Orthodox. And so to my thieving friend, I must ask- What did you buy yesterday with my credit card? Does Best Buy sell porn? Cause if they do, I'll bring the popcorn :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This was inevitable

Already immensely popular in Korea and Japan, b-boying has now spread to China. This CCTV story briefly profiles the rise of "street dancing" in China, where it has finally taken root despite the fact that the tenets of breaking- spontaneity and individuality- are not (yet) cornerstones of Chinese culture.

(nice baby freeze)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am not alone

So it appears that I am not the only one who weds gymnastics to seemingly unrelated topics. In this clip from last week's Daily Show, my future husband, Jon Stewart (and I know he's married but I'd be willing to make an exception to my No Polygamists rule for him) references the sport at the start of his interview with Newt Gingrich.



If Mr. Stewart thinks that the Republicans are accomplished contortionists, then he should listen to some rabbinic reasoning.

Oh wait- he has.

Scars

To quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer when she learns that her beau bears only emotional scars (and none that are physically manifest like one she sports on her neck, a pair earned after a night of particularly rough sex) she says, "Oh but those are the best kind." Yes, emotional scars makes life interesting and are definitely the meat of memoirs (and I'm writing one of those), but I'm kind of partial to other, more visible type.

Problem is- my scars are not in places that are easy to access in polite society. I have two of note (I'm not counting the tiny scar I have from arthroscopic knee surgery- those look like shaving cuts). One runs down 2/3 of my spine and the other extends from behind my rib cage to a few inches of my navel. They only see the light of day when I wear a bikini on the beach during the summer.

They are the result of spinal fusion surgery I had when I was fourteen to repair my scoliotic spine. When I first saw them I was horrified and made my mother promise to have them covered up through plastic surgery. She agreed though no such procedure exists, counting on the fact that I would eventually get over their presence and forget my request.

Within a few months, I stopped crying at the sight of them since that sight was infrequent. They were almost always covered by clothes and I refrained from looking at the side of my abdomen when I dressed (the one on the back required no such precautions for obvious reasons). And when I thought of the surgery, I didn't think about the scars. I was instead fixated on the immobility those marks signified. A fused spine is a terrible thing for a gymnast. I watched as the remnants of my gymnastics potential were eroded by my rigid back.

But then I stopped doing gymnastics in any organized sort of capacity and began to disrobe. I moved to California and dabbled in tank tops before finally buying my first bikini. I went to the beach wearing an ensemble that a high school teacher had mocked as nothing more than a bra and underwear. As in, "Would you go outside in your bra and underwear?" she asked us rhetorically, all the while ignoring this little thing called context.

In my "bra and underwear," my scars were visible to everyone. Even I started to look. And I liked what I saw. Still unable to easily see the one on my back without a Linda Blair exorcist moment, I thought the one on my side, which years earlier had keep me from sleeping comfortably for at least six months, was cool. Others agreed.

A year ago at the Hadar Shavuot retreat the lifeguard asked me what had happened to me. "Spinal fusion for scoliosis," I replied.

She shook her head. "You've got some bad ass scars. You've gotta come up with a better story than scoliosis. Say it was a shark attack."

Now, though I used her explanation once or twice as a joke, I gotta disagree with her assessment. The scars are bad ass and so is the true explanation (if you want other examples of my bad assness, check out the post, "Cause I do what I want,"). I had my spine fused and can still flip and break dance. When I catch a glimpse of the scars, I feel tough, like an Amazon.

So a few weeks ago as summer started to fade and with it, the opportunties to show off my scars, I set out on a mission. I was going to find a backless shirt. When you dress up to go out, you like to play up your strengths and for a lot women that means cleavage. But I don't really have breasts (thanks to the salesgirl in Victoria's Secret for pointing that out- I hope you work on commission and missed the money you didn't make off of me that day). I have a scarred back. And I want everyone to see it, summer and context be damned.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Response to Sarah Palin's bashing of community organizers

On Friday, my friend's letter was printed in the Boston Globe and while I'm slightly jealous that she, a community organizer, has had her name printed in a much more prestigious newspaper than yours truly, it is a really great letter and excellent retort to the community organizing dissing that we heard at the RNC.

BOTH VICE presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani directed a joke Wednesday night at some of the most dedicated individuals in our country: community organizers. These men and women organize communities in their states for improved housing, healthcare, education, and other social services.

As former fellows in Boston's Jewish Organizing Initiative, we trained with and worked for community organizers across Massachusetts, and we speak for dozens of former fellows in the program who still do this work in the Commonwealth and around the country. Community organizing is not an elitist profession. It's exactly the opposite. It's about asking the people you're serving what they need most in their lives to get by or to take care of their families, and then it's working with those people to build a movement to make their lives better.

We are voting for Senator Barack Obama for president because his work as a community organizer shows that his values run deep and that his promise of change is not a campaign slogan or political joke but an impassioned, moral response to the economic, political, and social challenges of our time.

LEORA MACCABEE
Cambridge


CHAVA HASSAN
Cambridge


And with a special thanks to my blogging friend at Please Judge Me, I give you a picture of the savior of 9-11, Giuliani.




Cause I do what I want...

When you've been raised Orthodox or frum it is very easy to rebel against your parents and the religious establishment without engaging in self-destructive behaviors. You don't need to do drugs or drink copious amounts of alcohol or ride on a motorcycle without a helmet. No, you have many laws you can break, ones that seem rather silly or insignificant to the gentiles but will certainly rankle Members of the Tribe. If you're a girl, you can start out with pants, which I did. This was a gateway drug to more rebellion- tank tops, short and even a two piece swimsuit. For awhile that was enough. And then I fell in with a bad, progressive crowd and I began to experiment further. Down came the mechitza (partition) at synagogue so I could better see women reading from the Torah. And then I started to eat vegetarian food in unkosher restaurants

While it's funny that these kind of actions constitute rebellion, what is even funnier is the badass attitude frequently adopted by many of the transgressing Jews. With the same tone one might use while saying, "I'll cut that bitch," they boast of their crazy exploits. Here are some examples (and special thank you goes to Ari Gleicher for the wording and idea).

I wear tight jeans...cause I do what I want.

I pull blades of grass out on Shabbos...cause I do what I want.

I eat sushi from any restaurant cause it's not cooked (except for the rice, which is cooked separately in a rice cooker)...Cause I do what I want.

And my personal favorite- I eat hot dairy out...cause I do what I want.

This last one is particularly amusing because unless you are acquainted with the particulars of Jewish law and kashrut, you have no idea what this means and how badass it actually is. I mean, he/she/me is eating vegetarian food that has been cooked in an oven next to food that is not kosher (such as pig products, nonkosher meat and chicken, etc.) and has been heated above 113 degrees Farenheit, or above the temperature of duck's blood. When foods are at such a high heat, the treif can contaminate all that is near. Including the slice of vegetable pizza I had just ordered.

I'm so bad.

Dear 3.5 readers- feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Overtraining

After the preliminary round of competition at the Beijing Games, Paul Ziert, the editor of International Gymnast Magazine wrote this column, condemning U.S. National Team Coordinator, Marta Karolyi for overtraining the women's team.

"I personally think that overtraining is the worst thing a coach can do to an athlete, even if it results in winning medals. It is pretty well documented here in the 21st Century that overtraining shortens careers, produces more injuries and can do severe psychological damage. Do any of those three resonate with Marta's program? Note that I said in the 21st Century, because Marta is hanging to the old-school training methods that produced great results in the 70s for Romanian gymnastics. Over time and with the radical changes in the Codes of Points, that model for success no longer holds up, and now should be consider a form of abuse."
He goes onto state the uncharacteristic mistakes the women made in qualifying and the two fluke injuries that happened right before the competition began are evidence of overtraining.

"I believe that these types of mistakes cry out with overtraining. When the mind and body are not in sync because one or both are exhausted, this is what can happen."
While I tend to agree with Mr. Ziert's assessment of the U.S. women's qualifying (and Alicia's finals) performances in Beijing, it is exceedingly difficult to prove overtraining as the culprit. An article in yesterday's New York Times notes that the condition is hard to diagnose.
"There is no definitive test for overtraining. Instead, the diagnosis is reached by exclusion. Besides slower times and fatigue, Dr. Keteyian and others say athletes may notice that their muscles are weaker and that their coordination is poorer. Their heart rates may be higher than they should be with moderate exercise. And their resting heart rates, taken first thing in the morning, can be higher, too...Performance is one indicator, of course, but so is something as simple as a swimmer who has stopped smiling."

(photo from International Gymnast Magazine)

This image seems to bolster Mr. Ziert's case. Consistently absent from this Olympics was Sacramone's sassy grin, which is a real shae, I explained to my non-gymnastics obsessed friends since her fun attitude is part of what makes Alicia such a joy to watch.

How do athletes fall into the overtraining trap?

“Athletes are obsessed and gullible,” Dr. Keteyian said. “They will do anything they can to improve their performance and they don’t know when to stop.”
Gymnasts, like all athletes, fit this bill very nicely and when they're trained by an overzealous coach with little or no regard for the advances of sports science, overtraining is inevitable.

But there is a tried and true solution- rest and recovery.

I only hope that the gymnastics powers that be read the New York Times? Or employ something resembling common sense.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Let's talk about the real victims..

While fans of gymnastics certainly enjoy the added attention their sport receives in an Olympic year, they hate these kind of articles- the ones that warn about how dangerous the sport is to young, developing female bodies or abusive coaches. This ran in the health section of yesterday's New York Times.

"Growing bones can’t handle the same stresses as mature bones. When a child specializes in one sport early in life, certain body parts — the arm of a Little League pitcher, the spine of a gymnast — are subjected to repetitive stress and overuse. Especially among young soccer players, there has been an alarming rise in injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, the main ligament that stabilizes the knee joint — a particular concern because repair involves drilling into a growth plate, an area of developing tissue at the end of the leg bone."

This is all true but haven't we heard this before? Yes, young girls should not be pushed into the sport by parents and coaches with unrealistic Olympic dreams. That their growing bodies shouldn't be pounded. Blah, blah, blah.

But what about the real, rarely heard of victims?

Yes- I'm talking about the adults with the unhealthy preoccupation with the sport of gymnastics. As children their addiction was manifest through hours spent alone in their bedrooms, playing the Olympics with fragile Barbie doll bodies who needed frequent applications of scotch tape to hold their midsections together.

(Unfortunately this flexible waisted Barbie was not available while I was in the throes of Olympic reenactments).

As adults, these victims of the sport lose all productive work hours during World Championships, National Championships and of course, the Olympics. They might also blog about, attempting to fold all aspects of life- faith, religious observance, feminine hygiene- into the sport.