Thursday, May 26, 2011

Where can the Pacific Northwest be found in New York?

Answer: Brooklyn

About a year ago, I wrote about how annoying some of the denizens of Brooklyn can be and politely suggested that were turning the borough into the "Pacific Northwest cities they originally came from." (By the way, the response to this suggestion was not at all polite but it was definitely fun to read.)

Well in the Battle of the Borough Posters between Manhattan and Brooklyn (instigated by the latter, more pugnacious of the two), the Pacific Northwest jibe is restated. Check out the duel below.

Photo from Gothamist

Frankly I'm disappointed in Brooklyn. Don't the majority of New York writers live here these days and yet the jibe reads like a schoolyard taunt by a six year old kid. The hands down winner is Manhattan for the use of "twee."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Shidduch Crisis Solved?

As I have noted in a previous post, most of the response to my denim skirt slideshow has been very positive and fun for me to read. And even some of the negative response has been rather humorous. Like this post I came across yesterday on Beyond BT called, "The Ascent to Haute Boro Park." This piece was written as an open letter to the wonderful Life and Religion editor at Tablet, Ellen Umansky in response to my own item. (Which the author failed to link to, perhaps out of a desire to keep my pernicious influence away from their heimishe readers.) Of course, I will link to Anxious Ima's post because I want you to be able to read the silliness for yourself. This is how it begins:

Dear Ms.Umansky,

If you can run an entire piece plus a slide show on Dvora Meyer’s evolution (devolution?) from jeanskirt wearing into jeans, than I’d like to propose the opposite side.

Of course, Anxious Ima doesn't know how to write a proper pitch letter, doesn't suggest how she would tell her story of skirt wearing, or why it would be interesting to Tablet readers.

She then offers me some sage advice that I really rather like:

Maybe this part of the story will be of interest to Meyers. Fed up with the prospects of a permanently single life–that’s how it seemed to be heading, Prince Charming was off my radar, I headed off to Israel in hopes of finding my bashert. And of course, I ditched my pants, You can’t show up at a shadchan’s office in khaki’s.

So that's why I'm single -- pants. It makes sense if you think about it. Pants signal unavailability to men because they're so much harder to fiddle around with. Skirts are simpler. And you know what they say -- the longer the skirt, the faster it goes up. Maybe I will switch back to skirts. And perhaps this advice will end the so-called marriage crisis in the Jewish world. Ladies, just don skirts. It's like hanging a "OPEN" placard round your neck, letting the fellas know you're ready and waiting...for a ring. (Or perhaps she was advising me to move to Israel where I can have my veritable pick of Jewish men. I've given that some thought in the past but decided that the experience would be much like watching cable television -- 200 channels and still, there's nothing on.)

Anxious Ima (and why so anxious -- is your daughter 22 and unmarried?) signs off with a plea to the Powers That Be over at Tablet to "show fealty to authentic Jewish culture." (Emphasis mine.) First of all, I want to point out that they have given space to the Orthodox viewpoint in the past, even allowing Avi Shafran of the Agudah to write an op-ed about the poor, oppressed, haredi Jews. And don't the "authentic" Jews have publications in which to read their viewpoints parroted back at them? What about The Jewish Press (or as my late zaidie jokingly called it -- The Jewish Mess)? Mishpachah? When was the last time the "fake" Jews got to have their say in those publications?

Maybe I should start pitching them and see if they'll take my next story about a Jewish girl gone wrong.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The History of the Scrunchie

On this blog, I've noted that gymnastics isn't the most highbrow and sophisticated of sports, especially when it comes to fashion. At the core of the sport's fashion backwards sensibility is the scrunchie, which is used by the majority of gymnasts to hold their hair of their faces. Frequently, the scrunchie is made to match the leotard a little too perfectly.

Since we (former) gymnasts and fans hold the scrunchie in the highest esteem, we should all watch "Interpreting the Scrunchie," a discussion of the hair item brought to us by DIS Magazine. The speaker, David Riley takes on a hilarious trip down scrunchie memory lane from the fall of Berlin Wall to Tiffany and Heathers to Sex and the City. He even noted that "there is a definite connection between the scrunchie and sports dominated by females. Gymnastics, figure skating, horseback riding. These are sports that couple intense athleticism with curious aesthetics. There is a dissonance between the athleticism, precision and training required and the naive lack of artistry, the chintziness of the costumes." (Check 5:34 in Part 3 to see if you can guess who the gymnast pictured is.)

Prepare to have your mind blown.

In Part 3, the discussion actually focuses on gymnastics. Riley even includes video of Shannon Miller's 1992 all around vault and asks, "What other hair accessory can do that?"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Somebody Should Look Into This Sport

This is a clip from a recently aired episode of Family Guy in which Peter recalls his attempt to become an Olympic gymnast. (Shout out to the awesome posters over at the IG Message Board for posting the link.)

Of course, Peter is using the old vault, which would make sense since it stands to reason he made his run before 2001, but why is he vaulting on a horizontally laid vault when the men used a vertical apparatus? On a related note: am I reading too much into the one of the Family Guy's throwaway clips?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Response to Skirt Shorts

I'll admit that I have been paying attention to the response to my recent slideshow at Tablet and for the most part, it has been extremely positive, which is very gratifying. But obviously, not everyone feels warmly about the slideshow and my own personal religious arc. The article was reposted at A Mother In Israel, which is a site I have never heard of before, and this was the first among the comments:

I went to college with Dvora. I find that sometimes she is really sensational. I still remember when I was a sophmore and she was a freshman she would camp out in my dorm room in horror when her roomate had her boyfriend spend the night. She’s drifted very far from that tmimut.

The commenter wrote under I assume are her initials and based off of the details she provided about our interaction, I am pretty sure I know who it is. I have nothing but good things to say about her. She was very kind to me during my first year at Penn, which was a very difficult one for me.

What she mentions is true. During the first semester of my freshman year, I lived with a girl I euphemistically called, "The Evil Bitch Monster of Death," (anyone get the reference?) because she locked me out of the room when I went to the bathroom, unplugged my fridge when I went away for the weekend so all my food spoiled and had sex while I was in the room without informing me first. (I should note that according to all of my hall mates, she also did a prodigious amount of drugs, and not marijuana.) So while I was probably more traumatized by this situation than your average college freshman since I had just arrived from a very sheltered environment at an all girls school, I would think that present day me would also find this troubling.

Also, her characterization of me being "sensational" is probably also true. Anyone who has read this blog or met me would probably agree. I am certainly not mild-mannered. As for my former tmimut -- I am inclined to disagree with the commenter. I mean, I was "innocent" as she stated but we all lose that, whether or not we stay Orthodox. And I'm glad that I'm no longer so easily shocked by what I quickly learned is the way things are.

Also, I don't look back so fondly on this innocence. In fact, I view that "tmimut" as naivete. Not just about the world and sex but also about myself. I had just arrived at college and was only starting to explore who I was and what I believe in. After the first year of school, I no longer had much meaningful contact with the commenter. As I settled in, I realized that I didn't have as much common ground with her and her chevra. Though we both came from the same communities with similar standards, I was beginning to realize that I didn't want to stay in that world indefinitely. Whereas many Orthodox students at Penn come there with the express desire to excel academically but not be changed religiously by campus life, I was beginning to realize that I wanted the opposite. I wanted to be changed by new ideas and experiences. By the end of the second semester, I had found a group of friends that I remained close with until the end of college. These friends had a more open, liberal attitude when it came to halacha and the secular world.

As I moved further away from Orthodoxy and tzniut, I've gotten happier. Not because Orthodoxy is inherently bad or modesty is evil, but they were never the right fit for me. A couple of commenters on Tablet's site noted that they are more comfortable in more conservative style clothing, which is perfectly acceptable. As long as you are honoring your own impulses and not simply listening to an interpretation of Jewish law that you don't entirely believe in then I have no problem with people who adopt a more modest form of dress. This was not the case for me. After I got over the initial shock of wearing jeans or tank tops, I realized just how comfortable I felt in this new attire, how much more like myself. I felt more at home in this type of clothing than I ever did in long skirts. I finally came to accept that I wasn't blessed with the modesty gene. It took a lot of trial and error to learn those sort of things about myself.

So perhaps, as the commenter noted, I have lost my tmimut. Good riddance, I say. I much prefer self-knowledge.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Down the YouTube Rabbit Hole

Back in December, I saw this hilarious comic entitled, "The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity," which seeks to compare the notorious geographic region where planes and ships have disappeared to the three websites where most of our productive hours have been sunk. Too true, I thought, except for the Twitter part. Personally, I can't seem to get into Twitter. I have an account that I rarely check. I'm always surprised to get an email announcing a new follower. Why, I wonder. I never update.

If I could, I would replace the Twitter corner of the triangle with YouTube. When I log onto YouTube to watch one video, I end up staying for several more due to the cursed "related videos" feature. I call this phenomenon "Falling Down the YouTube Gymnastics Rabbit Hole."

For instance, I'll start with Brittani McCullough's fabulous and fierce floor routine from the 2010 NCAA floor finals:

And then follow it up with Vanessa Zamarripa's equally sassy floor routine from the same competition:

Which brings me to her performances at the 2010 Cover Girl Classic:

From there it's a hop, skip and jump to her routines at Nationals, and before I know it, I've watched all -- not just Zamarripa's -- of the 2010 National Championship routines, all of which I have previously seen.

And that's how you fall down the YouTube Gymnastics Rabbit Hole. I wonder if aficionados of other sports and activities also lose many hours of their lives stumbling this way through YouTube.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shlooby Kitten Always Gets It Right

Anna over at Shlooby Kitten really knows how to reduce dating, sex and relationships to hilarious statements, which she then pairs with the face of a cat. Don't ask me why but this really works. I don't think I would accept the wisdom posted below if it were not for the "smiling" cat. Maybe the animal softens the truth-blow.

(How do I learn how to do this? I have many pithy sound bites that should be paired with adorable animals. Surely this cannot be so difficult.)

I'm Too Sexy For My Skirts

For some reason, Blogger removed my post from yesterday about my jean skirt slideshow for reasons that are unclear. Did I somehow offend my Blogger and Google overlords? Did Jeffrey Wiesenfeld accuse me of being anti-Semitic and demand the post's removal?

Anyway, here's a brief repost from yesterday so those of you who haven't seen the embarrassing photos of me modeling skirts get a chance to view them. (I hope they don't give you nightmares.) As I previously wrote, my good friend Holly came with me to Midwood to find some of the skirts since approximately half of the ones that appear in the slideshow are from my original collection.

Here are the hilarious results of the shopping excursion. (The hat was worn for reasons of warmth, not religiosity. I do realize that paired with the jean skirts, it does make me look married.)




Is Too A Sport!

While I was recently babysitting for an adorable and intelligent five year old, I was asked about sports I had participated in as a child. We were watching a baseball game and I explained that I had never done anything like that -- I tragically lack hand-eye coordination-- but I mentioned gymnastics. "Well," he said skeptically, and then shrugged. I had heard this before though never from one so young.

"I will not take this from a five year old," I responded with a tone of mock offense. It's hard to get peeved at one so cute and freckled.

Anyway, I wish I had known about this video from ESPN, which explores the science of sports because I would've shown it to him and then proclaimed, "Ha!" because I'm incredibly mature. Since I don't think he reads this blog (though he does read prodigiously), I'll just say "Ha!" to all of you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lets Photoshop The Men!

As most of you by now know, Der Tzitung,a Hasidic newspaper based in New York digitally removed Secretary of State from the famous Situation Room photo where she had been sitting with the president and the rest of the national security/counter-terrorism team watching as Navy SEALs assassinated Osama Bin Laden. The reason for hers (and Audrey Thomason's) removal -- modesty. Merely looking at an image of a woman, no matter the context, can cause an otherwise pious man to get a boner. Yes, it's that easy.

As are the jokes. Stephen Colbert did an admirable job last night and since so many bloggers had gotten there first and done it better than I thought I could, I thought I would leave the matter alone. Also, my Photoshop skills leave much to be desired so I would not be able to pull of a slideshow as hilarious as Heeb's, which rubbed other famous women out of history.

But then I thought of a unique way I could contribute and also show my appreciation to rabbis and other religious figures that seek to protect my dignity -- we should remove the men from photos!

Despite being told taught repeatedly that only men can be distracted by thoughts of sex, I must confess that I am also sometimes preoccupied with sex. Images of attractive men can cause my mind to wander to the "bad" place. Of course, my thoughts aren't being distracted from pondering matters of Torah because as a woman, it is well know that these ideas exceed my intellectual grasp.

(For weddings, we can have separate albums -- one for female viewing where only the bride appears and another for male consumption, which features only the groom. Doesn't that sound great? I mean, seeing a bride and groom together in the same picture is highly suggestive. We know that what they're going to get up to later that evening.)

I am sure that other women will admit to the same sort of shameful objectification. When we look at men, we don't always see fathers, sons, breadwinners, Torah scholars and persons with more facial hair. Sometimes we see a one night stand. And that's wrong. It's time that we address this indignity and make all photos mannrein. Let the only "objects" in pictures be, well, objects.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jezebel -- how fitting

I came home from teaching the kinderlach today to find that a friend had posted a link on my Facebook wall. (I don't have a smart phone so new emails and Facebook posts are still a delicious surprise after hours spent away from my computer.) It was a link to a Jezebel article -- my own about Amy Winehouse from over a week ago, originally published at Tablet. I had no idea this was going to happen so I was pleased as punch.

Anyway, as one of my friends noted, it is quite fitting for my work to be posted Jezebel since the name recalls one of the less than pure women of the Old Testaments. In fact, when you look up "Jezebel" in the (online) dictionary, you get some variation of this: a shameless, impudent, scheming woman.

Yup, that sounds about right both for me and Amy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


File this under: Does not live up to the hype.

I rarely eat in kosher restaurants these days. There are very few in my area (Pardes being the only one that is truly in the vicinity) and ever since I stopped eating in hechshered establishments, I haven't really looked hard for kosher places to eat since the world is now my restaurant oyster. (But I don't eat oysters -- I haven't yet crossed the shellfish line.) I can eat everywhere and it sometimes still makes me giddy to think about.

Anyway, today I went with my mom with the much talked about Basil in Crown Heights because she does not share my liberal view of kashrut. We thought that this restaurant would meet both of our needs -- my mother's for a strictly kosher meal and my desire for pleasing decor and food. Sadly, it was not to be.

The service was excruciatingly slow. We were seated a table that had not been cleaned from the previous patrons. It would take 20 minutes and several attempts to flag down someone before the dishes were cleared and we were given menus. It would be another 15 minutes until someone took our order. And at least 30 until we received our food. The coffees we had ordered with the meal and asked to receive immediately came at the end of the meal and only after we asked the waiter again for them. Twice. They arrived at our table sans milk and spoons to stir. Rather than wait for the server to bring these goods while our coffees cooled, I got up and went and asked for these items. When it came time to pay the check, I had to corner the waiter in order to get him

The food was decent but certainly not worth the price. And by the time our minuscule portions arrived, we were both so famished that we wolfed down most of it without paying very close attention to the taste. Even my mom, who doesn't have much dining experience outside of the kosher sphere, was visibly annoyed. I'll admit I took an extra degree of glee filling out the comments card that came with out bill. I wrote on both sides of the index size card.

I have often griped both to my friends and on this blog how I can't stand eating in kosher restaurants because the proprietors don't try very hard. It seems that after salting the meat and searching for bugs in my salad, they don't have any energy left to invest in making the dining experience pleasurable. Unfortunately, though aspires to be more than the average kosher restaurant -- I am willing to admit that the decor was lovely -- ultimately, it still seems to operate with the motto of most other kosher establishments -- We're kosher. Isn't that enough for you? (Someone should print that on a t-shirt and put it on the waitstaff of all kosher restaurants -- truth in advertising.)