Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 Rules for Casual Sex

Yesterday I wrote a post about the lies that the rom-com genres tell us. But they sometimes do tell us the truth. This post by Shimon Peres-Hilton, a Jewish blogger, has distilled three rules for Jewish women wishing to have casual, no strings sex from the two recent films, Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached, which star our favorite Jewesses of the moment, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, respectively.

Here's an iota of the wisdom contained therein about the importance of having a great, rollicking career in order to have casual sex:

If they weren’t [successful], this would be viewed as merely pathetic, as we were expected to see Kristen Wiig’s tryst with Jon Hamm in “Bridesmaids.” Her character was broke, living with creepy roommates and working at a terrible job (until she’s fired). Add to that mixture casual sex with a cad and you’ve got one woman scraping the bottom of the barrel (but at least that barrel was lined with Jon Hamm!). So women, fling away but only if everything else in your life is completely under control.

The rest can be read here.

Goebbels and Me

Well it has finally happened. I've been compared to Goebbels, the famous Nazi propaganda minister! This did not stem from an article I wrote about Israel cause I have little interest in real news and am suffering from Israel fatigue, anyway. No, what inspired such ire and comparison to Goebbels was my piece in Tablet about Amy Winehouse.

I'm not particularly troubled by his misguided comparison -- I'm actually rather tickled by it. His logic is as follows -- one who is distant from her "Jewish" values is like a Nazi, who is also quite distant from Jewish values. I understand that this is yet another proof of Godwin's Law, which states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches (100%)."

But what does trouble me is his attitude towards women. The reader, Aaron S. takes issue with Natalie Portman, calling her a "slut" for having premarital sex. Hey Aaron S.-- no slut shaming on my article!

Here is the comment in all of its misogynistic glory:

Aaron S. says:

This article reveals how far removed liberal Jews are from Judaism. Natalie Portman is anything but a nice Jewish girl. She is a slut. She not only had a child out of wedlock – the father is not even Jew! She gave birth to a bastard. Some nice Jewish girl.

As for Amy Winehouse – some role model. She is a shtick of drek.

It would be nice to have writers with Jewish values writing about Jewish values. The writer of this article is so far removed from her Jewish roots that this article might as well have been written by Josef Geobbels. He also would have admired self-destructive Jewish behavior.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lies Romantic Comedies Tell Us

Last night I went to see Friends With Benefits, a pretty funny (no, really!) romantic comedy about guy+girl+friendship+sex that predictably led to a relationship. The leads are played by Justin Timberlake, who can do no wrong, and Mila Kunis, best known as Jackie from That 70s Show and the hot chick that made out with Natalie Portman in Black Swan. (Mila is Jewish, which is why it works on this site.)

As I already mentioned, the movie was thoroughly enjoyable. The dialogue was snappy and mostly funny. I even learned a new phrase that I will use and forever cherish -- "twat block" -- but I do want to call out FWB for perpetuating a myth that can be found in all romantic comedies. No, I am not referring to the unlikely union of the two leads at the end. (Unlikely if it was reality instead of a movie that is.)

My issue is the easy sleep that the woman (in this case, Kunis' Jamie) falls into after having sex with Timberlake. I know that I don't speak for all women but after doing an informal survey of my friends, almost all agree that they rarely fall asleep easily or deeply with a new/different body in the bed. What I would like to see for once onscreen is that after sex, the guy passing out (as is often the case) and the girl tossing and turning until you finally settle into an uneasy sleep, waking up groggily a few hours to see him creep out of bed to find his pants. That's what I want to see in the next rom-com I go to.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amy, Amy, Amy

As everyone knows by now, Amy Winehouse passed away over the weekend from what appears to be a drug overdose (though the toxicology reports will not completed for at least another 2-4 weeks). And as many of my regular readers know, I was a huge fan of Ms. Winehouse -- performing her songs at nearly every karaoke party I attended, dressing up as her for Jewlloween (aka Purim) and writing a 3,000 word story about her bad ass for Tablet.

While I didn't have a whole new piece in me since the one published in April had everything I could muster including the kitchen sink, I did update and adapt that article for JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency) with some new insights. Here is an excerpt:

I had become an instant fan of the singer almost from my first listen to “Back to Black” in 2007, Winehouse’s second and now final album. At first, like many others, I was very taken by the ballsy track “Rehab,” where she famously rejected the help she so clearly needed. Yet at the time of the track’s release, she hadn’t yet spiraled out of control. Her refusal seemed as much a denial of her alcohol and substance abuse problems as an aversion to the type of image rehab that many actors, singers and politicians are forced to undergo in order to make them more palatable to the general public.

The rest can be read here.

And here's, "Amy, Amy, Amy" from her first album.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tattooed in the Times

This Shabbos at shul, a rabbi-friend (who is the blogger over at Frost and Clouds, which you should definitely check out if you're in the mood for something more enlightening than this site) told me that the New York Times was looking for people to submit photos of their tattoos. I just want to note that I am particularly pleased that the rabbis I know would actually encourage me to exhibit my tattoo in an even more public way.

Anyway, I did as he suggested but didn't think the photo would make it up on the site since it's an awful picture. But it was the only one I had so I just went with it. After a few hours, I promptly forgot about the whole thing.

That is until tonight when another inked friend alerted me to presence in the slideshow. I'm number 118 of 153 pictures submitted though most of the others' tattoos are more artistic (and certainly more artistically photographed) than mine. But I don't think any of the others linked to their 1,000+ word article of rationalization, which appeared in Tablet Magazine. Yes, most other people have a little dignity.

Spell It Right

As I was riding home on the subway last night, I came across this passage in Sloane Crosley's hilarious essay collection I Was Told There'd Be Cake, which my building's book fairy left in the mail room. (Thank you book fairy whoever you are!) Ms. Crosley was doing a tally of various things that happen as a result of having an unusual name. (In her case, Sloane.) This particular part resonated with me:

Number of times I have received an email with my name spelled incorrectly in response to an email originating from me and therefore making use of the correct spelling of my name and thus have passive-aggressively retaliated by leaving off the last letter of the sender's name in all future correspondence: 32. "Thanks for getting back to me, Rebecc."

Like Ms. Crosley, my name is somewhat unusual, not in the religious community where I grew up but in the more secular sphere I now inhabit. In addition, my parents chose an atypical spelling of my first name -- "Dvora" instead of the more common "Devorah" or "Devora." As a result, I don't get too riled up when someone spells my name incorrectly. I'm usually just happy if the person can pronounce it correctly. But like Sloane, I do find it rather odd when I initiate an email correspondence and the person spells my name incorrectly in the response. Don't you see how I signed it? I wonder. Or more simply -- look at my email address. It's spelled properly there.

Same puzzlement goes for Facebook messages no matter who they originate with. It is very easy to see how to spell my name since you had to click on my profile or select my name from the list in order to send it. And yet I get many that begin this way: Dear Devorah. How hard is it to look one centimeter above your message to see how I've elected to spell my name? No matter how frustrating/amusing this is, I haven't retaliated as Sloane has by adding an "e" or "h" to people's name though her essay puts me in mind to start.

But "correcting" the spelling of my name predates email and Facebook. It goes all the way back to nursery school. Like any four year old, I was proud that I could write my name and proudly showed off to my teacher, who proceeded to correct me. While I handle this just fine as an adult, four-year-old me when she got home and showed my mother what my teacher had done. My mother sent in a note with me, explaining to my teachers that "this is how we've chosen to spell Dvora's name."

So if you're sending me messages via email, Facebook or any other place where my name is plain as day, please try and spell it right or I'll have to get my mother to send you a strongly worded note! (And this note will arrive via snail mail since she doesn't own a computer.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What does Howard Stern have in common with Orthodox rabbis?

Pants -- and the fact that neither like to see women wearing them.

Stern, who was interviewing Lady Gaga on his show this morning on his show, said this, obviously in response to whatever Gaga was wearing (or wasn't wearing) in the studio. "I've often said that I think most women should not wear pants," Howard Stern said to her. Who woulda thunk that Mr. Stern was so damn conservative?

Of course, Stern doesn't want to replace the pants with anything so this is where he parts ways with rabbinic tradition. (Okay, I guess I'm really grasping for a blog post.)

This is so much more modest than pants
(photo by Nelyfus)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Donald Rumsfeld and I have something in common

No, it's not the desire to kill terrorists. Nor have we both swapped palm sweat with ruthless dictators (unless you count that time I met Oprah at a frozen yogurt shop in Los Angeles). What the former Secretary of Defense and I have in common is titanium.

It apparently takes Rumsfeld a little longer to go through airport security than other mere mortals. "It takes those of us with two titanium hips and a titanium shoulder a bit longer to get through TSA," he commented. Here's a photo from TMZ of Rumsfeld getting a full pat down.

I have a titanium rod with screws running two thirds of my spine yet I rarely run into trouble at airports. When I walk through the scanners, nothing goes off. Though there was one time I did get "full-service" at the checkpoint. I had no jewelry or belt on, no change in my pocket -- nothing that would alert the sensors. Yet I still kept beeping. The female guard whispered, "Are you wearing an underwire?" I bet Rumsfeld never hears that question.

I shook my head. "Don't you think that if I was wearing an underwire they'd appear a little bigger?" I joked. She didn't look convinced and I was afraid she was going to tell me to take my bra off to prove it so I told her about the titanium in my spine. Without checking to see if I was telling the truth, she waved me through.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Israelis

Which would you prefer -- college or kollel (which is where post secondary unmarried and married men spend the whole day studying religious studies)? In Israel, the choice doesn't simply mean a difference in study subject matter. It also means a difference in state funding. Many ultra-Orthodox accept government welfare subsidies in lieu of working since they are spending all day studying Torah while the less religiously inclined need to find jobs (and through their taxes fund the so-called "scholars). This YouTube video designed to look like the old school video games in the tradition of Super Mario Bros. takes us through the lives of a secular Israeli and his haredi counterpart.

(h/t Tablet Magazine)

I'm so glad that nothing like that happens in the U.S. I mean, it's not like we subsidize religious communities and people who don't seem inclined to go to college and find proper jobs. Oh wait, we do. Hello Kiryas Joel.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Responds

A few days ago, I tried unsuccessfully to mimic the Onion's fake news article style with my accusations that the weather is anti-Semitic. Well, today the weather in the guise of "Summer" has its say in the Onion. Summer comes off not so much anti-Semitic as pervy.

Don't be modest. I can see you're wearing a tank top under there, so why don't you go ahead and take off that bulky shirt of yours? Come on, it's natural. Nobody's looking over here anyway. It's just you and me. Other than heatstroke, dehydration, and certain types of skin cancers, you're safe with me, baby. So just relax.

That's it. That's real nice. Just peel that thing right off. Do it slowly. Can you feel me against your body? Feels good, doesn't it? The heat. A pretty little thing like you shouldn't be hiding your body. And by the looks of those tan arms and shoulders, I can tell you've done this before, so why hold back now? That's right, just like that. Why don't you lie down in that chair and let me take a good look at you?

Summer is taking a direct approach similar to the one used in The Donnas video for Take It Off, which I cannot seem to embed but here is the link to the music video. What ever happened to the Donnas anyway?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

NYC Weather is Anti-Semitic

In a surprising move, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed suit against the muggy front that has overtaken New York City, claiming that it is "bad for the Jews' hair."

Though Jews come in all shapes and sizes and their hair in array of textures, thick and curly predominates. This hair type doesn't react well with moisture in the air as it tends to expand exponentially, which has given rise to the Jewfro.

Look at what the anti-Semitic weather did to Jacob Ben Israel.

In fact, some Jews even have to flee the metropolitan area over the summer and live in bungalows and shacks instead of the comfortable homes they own in the city and outer boroughs just to escape the stickiness.

"If this continues," one Jewish New York woman complained, "my hair will grow to be as large as Amy Winehouse's beehive. And then I will get addicted to crack and all of my teeth will fall out. Then who will marry me?"

In response, Abe Foxman has accused the late spring through early fall weather of being anti-Semitic for its disproportionate impact on Jewish appearance. "While this affects other people who have similarly coarse and thick hair, it should be plain to all that the humidity affects Jews in greater numbers than it does the general population, which is why we have gotten involved." He also indicated that if successful against Big Weather, they might pursue Big Nature and springtime for pollen and spores.

The Weather, when reached for comment, insisted that it is not about Jews per se. "It's simply that Jews tend to live in coastal cities, which are more humid. But rest assured, when global warming comes and the sea levels rise, we won't distinguish between Jew and Gentile."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Now I have no more excuses

This is a video posted by Adam Starr, a gymnast who lost his leg to cancer two years ago. This clip shows him back in the gym for the first time since that happened.

This is the kind of video I needed to watch after spending most of last night's breaking practice sitting on my ass in McCarren Park talking to anyone and everyone so I wouldn't have to dance. This kid is doing stand back tucks to one leg. That's amazing. You know I don't use sincerity lightly on this blog (or ever) but he is really inspirational.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and now also the name of arguably one of the most famous Jewish infants in the world -- Natalie Portman's son.

Oh Natalie, I expected more from you. You are sophisticated and intelligent and have probably chortled at some of the more ridiculous baby names that have come out of Hollywood in recent years (Apple anyone? Kal El?) You probably told yourself, "I'd never do that to my child." And yet here we are, discussing this name, which will become the bane of your son's existence if you choose to enroll him in Hebrew school. And if this is what Natalie Portman comes up with, what hope can we hold out that our other Jewish goddess, Amy Winehouse will be able to name her child something normal if she accidentally gets knocked up? We should already start preparing ourselves for some liquor or blow inspired first name.

Of course, the Israeli born, Hebrew fluent Portman (aka Herschlag) has earned the right to give her a child this sort of name since we know that she understands the language and what she's doing. And "Aleph" does have one advantage over the English equivalent "A,"which is more than one syllable.

Yet despite the ludicrousness of the "Aleph," I must thank Portman for forcing People magazine to research the name so thoroughly that they came up with this:

Its esoteric meaning in Judaic Kabbalah, as denoted in the theological treaty Sefer-ha-Bahir, relates to the origin of the universe, the "primordial one that contains all numbers."

Who would've ever expected to see word "sefer" much less the whole phrase "Sefer ha Bahir" on a gossip website? First century sage who wrote the book -- I bet you're wishing you hadn't been so anonymous after all. You could've gotten quoted in People.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mixed Dancing

And from separate seating, we go to mixed dancing, which we all know is the direct result of premarital sex. Or is it sex standing up? I always mess that joke up. Anyway, this time the "mixed" refers to different types of dancing, not commingling of the genders (though there is some of that, too). When I was last in Los Angeles, I participated in a short dance film shoot, directed and choreographed by the talented Amy "Catfox" Campion. It was really fun for me as a writer to pretend to be a real dancer for half a day. (I also got to wear a lot of eye makeup that took several tries to remove.)

The short is called "Pursuit" and features several types of dance, including breaking and salsa. I am only in the breaking scene. It was made for the site, where the full video is available for a small fee.

I can't post the full video but I can promise you that in it you see at least 20 seconds of yours truly. Here is the trailer where I appear ever so briefly in blinding red and orange.

Separate Seating

Another day, another story about increasing gender segregation in Israel. I wish I could get worked up over this article in Haaretz about a new "tradition" (if it's new is it really yet a tradition?) of having separate seating at meals in private homes. Most of the article concerns itself with the particulars of the seating arrangements of Gur Hasidim, who are the most extreme of the ultra-Orthodox when it comes to the separation between the sexes and I won't trouble you with commentary on those details. But I have pulled a couple of quotes that I find particularly illuminating:

Hebrew University lecturer Dr. Benjamin Brown, who specializes in Jewish philosophy and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, notes: "In the Gur Hasidic community, measures are taken to ensure that there is no mutual understanding between men and women, even between husband and wife." (Italics mine.)

How true this is. While I have never put it this way myself, this is exactly what segregation accomplishes, aside from oppression and humiliation -- the total lack of mutual understanding. As the opportunities for meaningful contact between the sexes decreases as more and more public and private space is segregated, the disconnect between the genders will widen.

One Litvak (Lithuanian) ultra-Orthodox Jew was not pleased about the spread of fundamentalism to his community had this to say:

In D.'s opinion, separate tables or seating women at the far end of the table or in the kitchen is a symptom of the oppression of women. "When the women are sent to eat in the kitchen, the young boys in the family learn to treat women with contempt," she notes.

I feel like similar statements can be made when it comes to sending women to the other side of the mechitza. Perhaps this does not garner them the same contempt but it certainly doesn't win them any respect as from the men in the community.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Convert Camp

Last night I was at an impromptu house party in Brooklyn where I was briefly sharing some camp anecdotes, referring to the Camp Sternberg video I posted here a few weeks back and my clash with camp administration over my failure to sometimes wear socks while going to and from the swimming pool. Anyway, this prompted one of the guests in attendance, a woman who had converted to Judaism to marry her husband, to tell us about her crazy camp dream -- Convert Camp.

As many people over the years have noted, it seems like most American Jews go to some kind of sleepaway camp at some point in their lives and it is a very important part of the Jewish socialization process. And, as this woman pointed out, camp is where Jews learn all of the songs, tunes and liturgy that most will use throughout their adult lives. She feels that she needs a camp experience of her own simply to learn all these songs and traditions and assimilate into the Jewish mainstream.

This sounded like a brilliant idea the second she mentioned it. Why hasn't anyone yet done this? I mean, the Jewish community invests in some very silly projects all for the sake of continuity and engagement, trying to get youths who only grudgingly want to participate or are only looking for a trip to Israel or somewhere else. Why not provide an opportunity for converts or Jews by choice to have an experience that would help them acclimate to the Jewish community? Convert Camp totally needs to happen.

Friday, July 1, 2011

In honor of Canada Day

And because I can't get/afford tickets to see The Book of Mormon, here is an excerpt from Trey Parker and Matt Stone's first musical masterpiece, which was about foisting blame onto our neighbors to the north.