Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Perv of Teas

I was visiting a friend in the hospital when I saw this tea bag on her food tray. I remember this brand of tea from Passover. When I was younger, nothing seemed amiss about the brand name but that was also before a healthy dose of popular culture, college and a B.A. in English Literature clouded my thinking. By the time I graduated from Penn, I could connect sex to anything.

Anyway, does anyone else agree that "Sweet Touch Nee" is at least a vaguely pervy name for a tea? It sounds like something a horny old man would say to a young girl but maybe that's just my English major talking.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Springtime for Facial Hair

It's spring, which means it's time to talk about beards. No, not like Grace is to Will (or sometimes I am to a few special friends). The type that grow on men's faces (and also on those lucky women of Mediterranean descent). According to Jewish tradition, a lot of men don't shave during the time between Passover and Shavuot (when God delivered the Ten Commandments from on high), which is during the Counting of the Omer. (I won't bore you or myself with the multiple reasons why this is done.)

Now for Hasidic Jewish men, observance will hardly show at all on their faces since beards are their year round look but for those of the Orthodox or Modern Orthodox (or Conservadox, etc.) persuasion, it will drastically change their appearances. Fortunately these men will blend in with the other religious, ethnic groups and hipsters that are also experimenting with facial hair this spring. (And I'm not even talking about the ironic woodsmen beards grow year round in Williamsburg. I'm sure the classic novel of our generation will be A Beard Grows in Brooklyn.)

1. Cinco de Mustache: A festival that originated in Michigan but has spread to New York and Texas. It is celebrated on the Saturday closest to May 5th. Male participants sports mustaches of the "law enforcement" and "handlebar" variety. (Why no pornstache?) For more information on mustache history and varieties, check out the American Mustache Institute. (You should also check out the myriad of possible styles here. I think I want the next guy I date to have a Fu Manchu.)

2. Spring Finals Mustache Competition at Georgetown University Law Center: I couldn't find a lot of info on this one but I think the title pretty says it all. With finals, who has to time to shave their upper lip?I don't and I'm not even in law school.

3. Fans of the Capitals are encouraged to grow beards in support of their hockey team during the spring playoffs. Here is the official site of the Capitals Beard-A-Thon. They start with a clean shaven face at the beginning of the playoffs and cannot shave until the team is either eliminated or wins the Stanley Cup.

The rules stipulate: A goatee and a mustache is not a beard. Don't be fooled by imitations.

To that I add: Don't be fooled into thinking goatees are attractive. They're not.

(A side note: My college roommate's boyfriend began sporting a beard during the Omer but after a week it was gone. When I asked her where it went she smirked, "I told him that if he didn't get rid of it, I would never kiss him again." Her demands were reasonable. Those first few days of growth are the worst time to kiss men. It feels like your chin is getting exfoliated at the Clinique counter. It ain't McDreamy. It's McScratchy.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Camp Firewood vs. Camp Sternberg

Last night I watched the indie classic, Wet Hot American Summer, which is about the last day of summer camp for a bunch of counselors and campers. I've been told that it is representative of every "Jewish summer camp ever." Not that I would know anything about a "traditional" camp experience. At Camp Sternberg, there was no casual sex, illicit druge use or bikinis. Hell, there weren't even any boys. I went there for nine summers. Ah, wasted youth.

Truthfully, I enjoyed most of my time at camp even if I had to play sports in long skirts. (Imagine how difficult it is to dribble a basketball between your legs when there is a large swath of denim in the way.) I even excelled at shiur (the Jewish learning portion of the day) and was twice named "Best in Bunk" in this department. I should hang those certificates next to my undergraduate and graduate degrees, dontcha think?

So, my camp didn't have counselors as cute as Paul Rudd or even Michael Showalter but one thing Sternberg shares in common with Firewood and probably all camps the world over is "Camp Time." As my friend noted, a day in camp can stretch on into eternity but in a good way. You can do a million things in an improbable 24 hour period. And also, going into town is always thrilling even if it just a short trip to Woodbourne for a slice of kosher pizza and even if it came with a warning not to speak to boys at the adjacent table. Our jaunts into town as staff never resulted in muggings and shooting up in a back alley.

I was astounded to discover that Camp Sternberg has a website. My memories of camp are so low tech since I last attended during the summer of 1999. We were not permitted to make or receive calls and we weren't allowed to receive packages. No on had cell phones and not many of us relied on email. At the end of the summer, we exchanged mailing addresses.

Ultimately the reason I stopped going to camp had nothing to do with the lack of boys. (It is hard to miss what you have not experienced.) It was because I refused to wear socks. As staff, I was held to a higher standard than the campers. Back when I was a camper, I traipsed to and from the pool in a long robe and flip flops without socks but as a counselor I was expected to set an example and how could I do that if my ankles were exposed? I was twice reprimanded for my bare ankles. I tried explaining that clean socks were at a premium and it didn't make sense to ruin a pair by putting my wet feet into them after a swim but to no avail. I was not invited back to work at Camp Sternberg for the following summer.

At Camp Firewood, I would've been the model employee because I never shoved a camper from a moving van.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Breaking in the Daily Beast

Breaking makes its debut in the Daily Beast in an article by yours truly. What the gripping, splendidly written tale fails to mention is that I participated in that battle but NO video exists. Yes, you heard me. None.

Please enjoy the article and the accompanying video (provided by Chris at BreakerNYC) and do not fail to notice how enormous my name is at the top of the page. A girl could used to this type of ego fluffing.

“It is morally wrong to wear Puma kicks with a Nike shirt!” emcee Pedro “Cikmode” Morillo boomed into the microphone as a clueless break dancer stepped into the circle wearing this unfortunate sneaker-shirt combination.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sadness Porn

Recently I was watching television late at night and came across this commercial, Sarah McLachlan's commercial for SPCA:

Now many of you know I was a BIG Sarah McLachlan fan in high school, college, etc. mainly because I enjoyed feeling sad. I had been primed for Sarah, Tori, Jonatha, Natalie, by Lurlene McDaniel books, which were about young girls dying of cancer, AIDS, diabetes or waiting for transplants (which I blogged about a year ago here). I'm getting the same sort of sad pleasure watching these ads- not pleasure at imagining abused dogs. I love dogs. Just a little release that comes with being sad. (Building a mystery...)

This video, also set to a somber Sarah tune (is there any other kind?) and also populated by adorable dogs, strikes a decidedly different tone.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An ATM card that helps you save...your "flower"

Michael, of Salon and Knoxville, showed me this card that he was given while a high school student in Tennessee intended to help incentivize abstinence by making it look like a credit card and offering a free drink (and not the stiff one you'd need if the abstinence persisted for too long) with purchase of fast food. The weight gain and pimple causing properties of greasy food was also supposed to help make the abstinence more enduring.

Yes, the Abstinence Til' Marriage card represents the very best of red state sexual and fiscal education.

Hey kids, this looks just like your parents' credit card but instead of helping you spend and consume (as it is your God given right as Americans to do) you get to save your virginity.

But don't forget to read the fine print on the back of this card (unlike the fine print in your subprime mortgage agreement. Feel free to ignore that. It is not nearly as funny as what is printed below.)

The person whose signature appears above agrees to the ATM (Abstinence till Marriage) terms. Sex outside of marriage is an indebtedness that can produce negative returns (i.e. STDs, pregnancy, abortion, unwanted memories, and/or broken heart) and all assets can potentially be lost (death), however the returns of an investment in an ATM can yield greater respect for yourself, others and your future husband/wife. Adherence to the conditions of this ATM card can yield greater rates of return in fidelity between couples in futures mergers and acquisitions (marriage).

So here is what I've learned from the back of the card.

Sex= Death
Respecting your husband/wife= no idea what you're doing when you finally sleep together.
Less sex before marriage= less sex outside of marriage?
Mergers & Acquisition= marriage.

As for proving your virginity, I suppose the two vendors will have to use the honor system unless they want to be sued for sexual harassment. I say even if you're not a virgin, or even if you have kids- I say bring them and claim a virgin birth!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Problem of Yom Tov Sheni: Or Why I will Go Out for Italian Tonight

In a that is unusually scholarly and mature for this blog, guest blogger who wishes to remain anonymous due to the unsavory (and recently published) actions of those associated with this site.

* * *

Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, began this year on the night of Monday, March 29. The Bible is clear (in Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17) that Passover lasts for seven days, which means that it ends tonight (April 5) at sundown. (In the Jewish tradition, a day lasts from sundown to sundown.)

Many—perhaps most—American Jews will celebrate an eighth day of Passover. For them, tomorrow is another day of matzah, macaroons, and other barely edible food products.

Why this discrepancy? The answer is yom tov sheni—the second holy day—that most Jews who live outside Israel observe. In brief, Jewish holidays are observed for an extra day outside of Israel. In ancient times, the priests at the Temple in Jerusalem determined the new month, which fixed the (lunar) Hebrew calendar, by observing the new moon. Because it took time for news of a new month to spread from Jerusalem to other Jewish communities (e.g., Babylonia), outlying Jewish communities did not always know what day of the year it was. These communities began to add an extra day to each holiday, lest, they feared, they would celebrate a holiday on the wrong day.

With reliable Hebrew calendars and virtually instantaneous global communication, the original need for yom tov sheni no longer exists. There is no longer any question as to when the holidays occur. Yet this practice persists in America and in other Jewish communities outside Israel. Moreover, yom tov sheni isn’t even consistently observed: When was the last time you saw a Jew fast for two days of Yom Kippur?

Mature discussions of the problem of yom tov sheni may be found on the excellent blog Mah Rabu. Here, however, I want to issue a manifesto.

For most holidays, observance of yom tov sheni doesn’t impact me. If observant American Jews want to make up holidays and needlessly sit in synagogue pews, then bully for them! If anything, the “eighth day” of Passover provides a golden opportunity to publicize the issue by gleefully eating bread while my coreligionists suffer another day of matzah.

But there is one important exception to this rule: Simchat Torah, a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle, which occurs on the day immediately following the end of Sukkot. Simchat Torah is a fun holiday: an opportunity to drink and party into the wee hours of the morning. Because most Jews foolishly observe an eighth day of Sukkot, they end up celebrating Simchat Torah a day late: the 23rd of Tishrei instead of the 22nd. As a result, all the fun Simchat Torah parties fall on the day after Simchat Torah. This presents a connundrum to right-thinking Jews: celebrate Simchat Torah on the wrong day or drink alone.

No longer! Let this anonymous (and little read) blog post be a clarion call to American Jewry: Toss yom tov sheni into the dustbin of history. I dream of a day in which all Jews celebrate Simchat Torah on its actual day and not a made-up day. A more rational Judaism starts tonight with a seven-day Passover.

I will put my money where my mouth is. As the title of this post declares, I will be going out for Italian tonight. All Jews in the NYC area are welcome to join. And if you are a Jew who has always celebrated eight days of Passover, dinner is on me.