Sunday, September 28, 2008

HNY

How meaningless will it be if I wish you all a general Shana Tova?

Ok, pretty meaningless.

I don't care, gonna do it anyway. I do mean it.

So to you, my little group of constant readers about eighty or so strong, no matter where you are on the belief scale, no matter what religion or non-religion you choose to run your lives by, may you have a very happy and meaningful New Year. May God grant us all the strength to deal with our challenges, and the opportunity to appreciate His many gifts to us. May He deal mercifully with us and justly with our enemies. And may we all find our own way to Him.

Take it as you will. I do mean it. As Rosh Hashana approaches, my heart is full. See you on the other side of the new year. Thank you for sticking with me through my little dramas.

-WG

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Francesco Mugnai

For those of you who are into beautiful design (all types, print, online, etc.), look at Francesco Mugnai's blog. Italians are design geniuses. Must be something in the wine or sumthin. I spent hours at this site.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Charlie Rangel Needs to Go.

Rangel is an insulting, amoral, criminal, classless, tasteless ass. Am I being clear about this?

On Friday, he called Sarah Palin "disabled."

In a CBS 2 HD exclusive interview, Rep. Rangel called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "disabled."

The question was simple: Why are the Democrats so afraid of Palin and her popularity?

The answer was astonishing.

"You got to be kind to the disabled," Rangel said.

That's right. The chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee called Palin disabled -- even when CBS 2 HD called him on it.

CBS 2 HD: "You got to be kind to the disabled?"

Rangel: "Yes."

CBS 2 HD: "She's disabled?"

Rangel: "There's no question about it politically. It's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live."

Later Friday, Rangel issued a statement saying "disabled" wasn't the word he meant to use.
Rangel is an ass, and is repeatedly shooting off his mouth in a childish, idiotic manner. He's an embarrassment. He is a boil on the buttocks of the body politic. Now that he has finally been caught engaging in criminal activity abusing the rent-stabilized status of his four apartments and using congressional stationery to solicit money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service (Lordy Lord Lord, this man is as stupid as wood), perhaps it's time to throw this jackass out of Congress?

John Cole is a genius.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "Other" Orthodox Jews

In practice, dress, belief and observance, I am probably what you would call a mainstream, centrist, middle-of-the-road Orthodox Jew. Whatever the hell that might be. Everyone thinks they are mainstream and centrist, right? It's the other guy who is way off to the left or way frummed out to the right. I am perfectly balanced. Hah. If only.

But objectively speaking, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say I'm truly somewhere in the middle. I think something like 95% of Jews who call themselves Ortho would feel comfortable eating in my home after spending 10 minutes with me [swing to the right] But I've got a tv and listen to rock music [swing to the left]. I daven every day [swing to the right]. I went away to a secular college and lived in a co-ed dorm freshman year. [swing to the left] I covered my hair when I was married [swing to the right]. I let my bangs show when I wore baseball caps [swing to the left]. I don't wear pants [swing to the right]. I wear pants when I'm rafting, skiing, and on more advanced hikes [swing to the left]. I think the noblest job a woman could hold is a stay-at-home Mom [swing to the right]. I think that a frum woman should be encouraged to pursue virtually any career she chooses [swing to the left]. I wear sleeves to my elbow, scrupulously [swing to the right]. I don't bother wearing sleeves over my elbow, unless I'm somewhere where that would be disrespectful [swing to the left]. I give occasional shiurim, to women only [swing to the right]. I think secular learning is really important and I think just about everyone should go to college [swing to the left]. I respect guys who observe the prohibition of Kol Isha [swing to the right]. I respect guys who think the prohibition of Kol Isha is too much for them and go to concerts and musicals [swing to the left]. Etc.

You get the idea. I'm everywhere and nowhere. Which puts me squarely in the middle. I think.

But I am drawn to a particular culture of Ortho Jews, not so much as a personal choice for me, but just as people I really enjoy hanging with and observing. Call em hippie Orthos or Carlebach Jews, or whatever you like. They are Orthodox Jews that find their spiritual home outside of the mainstream. You've seen them. They are the guys with the ponytails or earrings, who wear a kippah srugah all the time. They are the women with the flowy skirts who are the first ones to get up and dance at a Neshamah Carlebach concert. They are offbeat and interesting and pretty religious. They are sometimes misguided, but that's rare. They really love music, or dressing unconventionally. They are almost always volunteers at chessed organizations or involved in some other organized way to show kindness to other people. They often sound spaced out, but they aren't. They just sound that way. I used to think most if not all of them were ba'alei teshuvah, but this not so. Some FFB's end up in their ranks as well.

I love their confidence in themselves, their style, their utter freedom from conventional thinking. They have taken real Jewish values and infused them with creativity and off-center implementation. In a way, they bring in the best of the sixties and leave the shmutz behind. I love this sort of stuff.

But strictly as a spectator. I'd never marry a guy with a kippah and an earring (though I might be tempted to date him). That's just not my style. But I'll go to the Carlebach concerts and those strange frummie jam sessions in Park Slope and just wallow in the culture. Recently, I spent an hour on the phone with an Ortho Hippie friend dissecting a very cool section of Tehillim. He learns Tehillim with such love and passion, something I wish I could do, but know I never will. He is a true student of Reb Shlomo in his love of God and constant celebration of life. He owns like 2 pairs of pants. He never eats bleached flour. He's a little bit of a wack job.

I love that kinda guy. I love that kinda stuff. I love that kinda Jew.

20% off at Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, PiperLime. Do it through Ebates and get another 3% cash back.

OldNavy.com, Gap.com, BananaRepublic.com, and Piperlime.com are having a 20% off, free shipping sale, until midnight Sunday (today). Enter BFF at checkout. This is an unbelievable sale.

I got a whole buncha long sleeve tees for less than ten bucks each! If you shop these stores through Ebates, you'll save an additional 3%. First-timers at Ebates will get $5 and save 3%.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Comparing apples to apples

Could Charlie Gibson's utter contempt for Sarah Palin be more obvious? Let's compare him asking Palin and Obama virtually identical questions. I've transcribed the interview snippets, but do watch the YouTube clips for the apparent visual cues of his hatred of Palin and his love for Obama.

First Palin (about 38 seconds in):

Gibson: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

Palin: Well first, we are friends of Israel and I don't think that we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

Gibson: So if we wouldn't second-guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would be cooperative or agreeable/agree with that?

Palin: I don't think we can second-guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

Gibson: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right?

Palin: We cannot second-guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.
Now, Obama (5:07 in):
Gibson: So what if Israel decides in the name of its own security that it needs to make strikes on Iran?

Obama: Well, it is not my job, certainly as a candidate for president to tell Israelis what their defense posture should be. Um, I have said that I would not take military options off the table when it comes to Iran and dealing with their nuclear capacity. Beyond that, I think that we have to make sure that we are doing everything we can to avoid having to make that choice.

Gibson: Senator, good to talk to you.
Both Obama and Palin answered by saying that it wasn't appropriate for the US to tell Israel how to defend herself. Gibson responded to Palin by drilling at her, asking the question not twice but three times, implying that she was giving a non-answer. And when Obama gives virtually the identical answer? Gibson responds with acceptance and makes kissyface.

Gee Charlie, as long as your reporting remains unbiased and balanced.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Before you bail...

Excellent, common sense post from My Money Blog.

New system of logic

Ok. So the word is:

If Obama\Biden lose, it will be because the country is overwhelmingly racist.

I see. So:

If McCain\Palin lose, it will be because the country is overwhelmingly agist and exist.

Yes?

Hackers Publish Palin's Email

I have always, ALWAYS believed that when it comes to politics, All is Fair. If you don't want your past exposed, your life examined under a microscope by people who don't like you and aren't going to be fair to you, well, don't run for office. As Dennis Miller once told a candidate, "if you're in the race, wear a cup." It's brutal, and it's one of the costs of the fame and celebrity of public service. Frankly, I don't really know why anyone would run for President.

This said, I can't stand it when candidates whine. When they are reproached on their record, when their sometimes stupid words are quoted back at them, when they are raked over the coals because of something they did, said, voted on, or supported, well, it's too bad. If you want the power of representing the people, you better be able to defend yourself, your past and your record.

But what was done to Sarah Palin this week was WAY outside of the borders of All is Fair. Hacking a candidate's personal email and publishing the contents is heinous. There is simply no justification for that. It's like rummaging through their underwear drawer on national television or putting a webcam in their bathroom. Public service also entitles you to a private life. Shame on those hackers. Disgusting.

Wall Street and the Economy. Oy.

Well, I guess I didn't see this coming.

It's scary. Under the radar, Wall Street has allowed a few unofficial monopolies to form: major mega-brokerage firms, major banks holding huge amounts of assets, major insurance firms. The size of these institutions has given us a certain amount of warm and fuzzy security; after all, how can they fail when they hold billions of dollars of assets, affecting hundreds of thousands of people? When these institutions do fail, we stand there with our jaws gaping, powerless, wondering what's going to happen next and worrying and panicking about our money and our futures.

Since there's a major presidential election going on, the blame game is going on in full swing. Democrats, of course, blame the incumbent administration, and warn the American public that the future holds more of the same if McCain gets into office. McCain blames greed and the old boys network of Wall Street.

So who is right? Here's the thing. No one knows. Really. This Wall Street mess is a complex one. Does it have to do with the mortgage disaster? Absolutely. The failing banks and brokerage firms overextended themselves on risky, ridiculous mortgage deals. But it goes far deeper than that. It has to do with the falling dollar. It has to do with risky securities called derivatives. It has to do with greed and it has to do with deregulation and under-monitoring. It has to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It even has to do with some things that Alan Greenspan did way back when. But the bottom line is that even the financial and economic experts are scratching their heads on this one and scrambling in their analysis of the situation. Why this is happening now and why all these formerly sound entities are falling simultaneously is not easily determined. I think it's pretty funny when I read blogs and articles that definitively point to one thing or another as THE reason for the Wall Street mess. These are often expressed by writers who have never bought a security in their lives. It's complicated, people. We're still in the middle of it. It'll probably get a little worse before it gets better. We are still bleeding and we've got a few more bullets coming. One of the reason the politicians are speaking in such enormous generalities is because no one really knows for certain what has happened here and no one knows for certain what will fix it.

That said, I don't think it's the End of the World As We Know It. I'm not pulling a dime out of the stock market. (Unless, God forbid, Obama wins the election. Then I will have to rethink things.) It makes no sense to sell stocks in companies that are fundamentally sound, just because the market is so low. I never invest money that I need immediately, and I am willing to let things ride, settle down, and come back. I'm also not pulling my money out of my bank accounts. I've got the bulk of my money in Chase, Coutrywide, and WaMu, and all accounts hold less than $100,000, so they are covered by FDIC insurance. If WaMu fails, my money is still safe, and even if I have to wait to get it back, I've got money in the other banks. If you have all of your cash in one bank, I strongly advise you to spread it around just a bit, and certainly don't keep more than $100,000 in one bank. Sign up for online banking so that you can exert more immediate control over your money.

Fasten your seat belts. Let's see what today holds. Let's see what this week holds. Hang on to your blame and watch closely. Here we go.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Free stuff for the little ones

Free diapers.

Adventures in Facebook

Wow. Facebook rocks.

A guy I went out very causually with sixteen years ago Friended me. Sixteen! I remember this guy well, even though we went out only three or four times, because it was one of the few times in my dating career that I acted really badly.

I don't remember at all where I met Ethan. Must have been some party, maybe? He was definitely a lot less religiously observant, if at all, and I probably should have never agreed to go out with him. For our first date, he took me to Fantasia, which had just coming out in some remastered digital form, and he held my hand captive in his sweaty one throughout the entire movie. I remember being yucked out by that. And then, the next day at work, he sent me a dozen roses, which I gave to my secretary. There was no reason to send me roses. We had one stupid date. Overkill. The ones that followed were pity dates, until I finally dumped him, rather nastily, I'm ashamed to say. It was Halloween, and he showed up at my door without calling, fresh from some party, dressed in some smoking jacket costume-outfit. I have never celebrated Halloween in my entire life, and was frankly a little grossed out that he did. It was so utterly nerdy and unJewish. Not only did I not let him into my apartment, but I told him to leave and not call me again. He did, repeatedly throughout the next two weeks, and I screened through my answering machine, never picked up and never called back. Not very nice.

I think we were in touch once or twice since then through email. But it was so weird to see his name on Facebook! He is married and based on his Facebook groups, he has devolved into an utter and complete leftist, greenie, granola-head, enviro-socialist. He is four years younger than I am, and his wife is ten years younger than I am, and very pretty and cheery-looking. He has 489 Facebook Friends, so he is one of those people.

So, should I accept his Friend invitation? It's a little surreal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Free flight on Delta

Apply for a Delta American Express card. The fee is waived for the first year (cancel the card after that). You get 20,000 miles for the first purchase and then another 5,000 for adding two additional cardholders (just add two family members or friends and you don't actually need to give the card to them). 25,000 miles is already a free round trip ticket on Delta! So that's basically a free round trip flight for doing almost nothing. Sweet. And free. I love American Express.

Ki Bah Moed

Ok, who else is having cognitive dissonance?


Much thanks to Saul for this one.

Putting your personal money where your political mouth is.

How much charity have our Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates given? Actually, quite a lot. I'm impressed.

Even though Obama looks comparatively bad here, I'm going to cut him some slack and try to be fair. McCain is married to a very wealthy woman, and even though according to the terms of their pre-nup they keep their finances separate and also file separate tax returns, Senator McCain can obviously afford to give a larger portion of his salary to charity because of his wife's wealth.

And Joe Biden? See below. Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving (to the Republicans). What an embarrassment. Care about the poor much Joe? Ah, that's okay, we'll just tax the working class and let the government take care of them.


I'll update this when the Sarah Palin charity info becomes public.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Efficient and Green

I've been a long-time advocate of doing EVERYTHING online, bill paying, charity giving, purchasing nearly everything, etc.

If only 20% of U.S. households switched to online bills, statements and payments, the impact every year would:*

  • Avoid using 102,945,600 gallons of gasoline.
  • Avoid 1,960,402 tons of greenhouse gas.
  • Save 150,939,615 pounds of paper.
  • Save 1,811,275 trees.

*Source: PayItGreen.org

For me, the advantage is the incredible convenience, saving postage, getting credit card points, cutting down on paper clutter, much easier record keeping, and making it easier to look up and document tax-deductible expenses in April. I write maybe a total of 25 checks a year.

Of course, you need to be somewhat organized to track this stuff, but if you keep it simple (just a few accounts), it can make your life a whole lot easier. And apparently greener.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Oprah controversy


Let me be perfectly clear: Oprah Winfrey can have whomever she damn well pleases on her talk show. It's her show. If she doesn't want to have Sarah Palin on, so be it. (See, this is why the "Fairness Doctrine" is ridiculous.) But Oprah, do us a favor and be honest about your reasons not to have her on. Says the Great O:

"The item in today’s Drudge Report is categorically untrue. There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over." — Oprah Winfrey, September 5, 2008

Barack Obama has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" twice to discuss his books, once in January 2005 and once in October 2006. Both of Senator Obama's appearances were made before he announced his candidacy and he has not appeared since."
Obama appeared on Oprah on January 19, 2005 ("Man of the Moment" episode) and October 18, 2006 ("Barack Obama on the Tough Questions" episode). Interesting that there are no YouTube clips of the shows, but the edited transcripts on the Oprah site are revealing. Apparently these appearances are kosher because Senator Obama did not officially announce his candidacy until February 10, 2007. Of course, contrary to Ms. Winfrey's press release, Senator Obama did not just discuss his books on these episodes. Senator Obama's potential candidacy was widely and freely discussed, especially on the 2006 episode. Oprah actually asked Obama to announce his candidacy on her show. Game over, Oprah. If that is not using her show as a political springboard, someone explain to me what is.

And further, while Oprah objects to her show being used as a platform for any of the candidates, it seems there is no problem with using her women's magazine, "O" as a political tool. The November 2007 issue featured a lovely article and spread on "The Heart and Mind of Michelle Obama." Uh, wasn't November 2007 after the Obama announcement in February?

Oprah is traveling all over the place campaigning and fundraising for Obama. She has no trouble going all-out endorsing him. The line she draws seems to be using her show, as opposed to her self, to support an official candidate. Really?

Even if you buy this argument, what is totally disingenuous about this is that Oprah is who she is because of her show. Her endorsement is valuable, not because of her personally, but because her show is so powerful and has millions of viewers and devotees. Making the distinction between the celebrity of her person and the celebrity of her show is pretty meaningless. If she was sincere about wanting "not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates," she wouldn't endorse or campaign for any candidate. A little intellectual honesty please, Oprah.

Why doesn't Oprah just come out and say she doesn't want Palin on her show because Oprah is for Obama and because she finds her support of Obama and everything he stands for to be of greater value than having fascinating strong women in leadership roles as guests? So? Wouldn't everyone be okay with that? At least it's honest. Of course, it makes a clear statement of what is really important to Oprah. And that might disillusion millions of adoring fans.

And by the way, I would be shocked if Vice President Palin ever graced the Oprah show with an appearance after November. When pigs fly, Oprah.

Bugs. Ich.

1. My usually immaculate kitchen is swarming with fruit flies. You know, those tiny little gnat things. Help.

2. My unfinished basement has got enormous crickets. Those things can jump about four feet and are freaking me out. Help.

I really need help. If you've got any experience exorcising these creatures without much fuss, please write to me at theroadtaken613@gmail.com. Any good advice is welcome. Thanks.

-WG

Saturday night sushi with progressives

I went out for sushi last night with a bunch of Upper West Siders. Two humanities graduate students, one lawyer, one oral surgeon, one special ed. teacher, one web designer, one chiropractor. And me.

I was the only Republican in the bunch. I wasn't really part of this crowd...the lawyer brought me. The lawyer is an old friend from high school with whom I recently caught up on Facebook.

I got a great education last night. I found out the following:

1) Republicans hate children. Unless they are unborn.
2) Sarah Palin is a bitch because she hunts animals but won't abort fetuses. She values potential human life more than actual animal life. How screwed up is that.
3) John McCain is near death. He's also brain-damaged from his time spent as a POW.
4) While being a POW is a bad thing, why is it noble? It's not noble. What's the big deal?
5) The only way a government is going to run properly is if they raise taxes significantly. For the rich. There was a brief argument over what constituted rich (the lawyer and oral surgeon duked it out with the grad students and I giggled).
6) The only way to solve social problems is to have government take them over.
7) If Obama lost, it would be because everyone who is religious is also a racist. If there were race riots following the McCain victory, they would be almost (almost) justified. McCain is the worst racist of all...look how many times the issue of race has come up in the election. Typical white man. Republicans never promote African Americans to high offices.
8) Palin is against free speech and she has repeatedly banned books. She is a fascist who will take away this country's birth control. She doesn't believe in dinosaurs.
9) Republicans love war and death. They like drafting (drafting!!) ignorant young boys off to war and are growing rich off it from all the oil that we are getting in return.
10) The Earth is about a year away from imploding from all the global warming/climate change that the Republicans are causing.
11) Dr. Martin Luther King was a community organizer.

I chewed my ginger slowly as I wondered when to tear off my mask and reveal myself as..... Republican Girl!! Conservative Chick! Voila! C'est moi! I have infiltrated your ranks!

So I sat there listening to this, wondering how much more of it I could take, being thankful that one of the grad students, although a complete blithering idiot, was really cute. If you're going to have to share a meal with a moron, it helps if they are eye candy.

The camel's back broke finally, when they started talking about their feelings, how they just felt that Obama was going to help the poor and how they felt that he cared about them much more than McCain, after all he was raised by a welfare mother....

I let it out. Couldn't help it. It was like lava.

Obama wasn't raised by a welfare mother. He was raised by a rather wealthy grandmother. The science "proving" global warming is shaky at best and is being disavowed by many renowned scientists. Sarah Palin never banned books and doesn't not believe in dinosaurs. Check Snopes.com and Factcheck.org. There is no draft. No one was forced to go serve in Iraq. Believing that there are things in life worth fighting for and yes, dying for, is not the same thing as "liking war and death" forchrissake. McCain is a racist? Really? As I recall, one of his adopted children is not white. Republicans never promote African Americans to high offices? Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell...do they count? The only candidate inserting the race issue into this campaign is Obama. It is perfectly ethical to value human life over animal life and I applaud that point of view and frankly I seriously question the moral compass of people who don't. If Republicans hate children why do they have so many? McCain is healthy, physically and mentally. Period. Frankly, the gaffe-meister in this election is middle-aged Obama. Musta been all that community organizing. The only thing Senator Obama has in common with Martin Luther King is the color of their skin. That's it. Dr. King was not a community organizer any more than I am. He was a civil rights leader and activist who actually accomplished things. Every single solitary time the government has lowered taxes, tax revenues have increased. Yes. Fact. The government of the United States is not in the oil business and did not capture oil wells in Iraq. Being a prisoner of war is noble because you have placed yourself in a position of sacrifice in order to defend your country. Putting your love of country before your love of self is noble as All Freakin Hell. Uh huh.

I let the more ridiculous stuff fly. Even I have limits as to what I will dignify by defending. I knew I wasn't about to win any popularity contests that night. I batted my eyelashes at the cute grad student, who sadly, didn't flirt back. The sushi was really good...Sushi Metsuyan on Central Avenue. Yum. Love that dragon roll.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Free mp3s (legally)

Free music. I haven't listened to any of it yet, so I have no idea if it's good, but I do like free:

1) On Facebook, join the Apple Student group. Click on the "20 Free Songs Back to Music Sampler." The songs will download into Itunes.

2) On Amazon, download the Six Degrees sampler. You'll need to download the Amazon mp3 downloader first (I deleted it right after the download was done), but the songs will also show up in Itunes.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rabbi Abraham Abraham

Winner of the "Best Beard" contest. I would love to know where this guy got his semicha. His jewelry is very rabbinical looking, n'est ce pas?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wow. The nutters abound.

Thanks much to Saul for this one.

Hippies wail for lost, dead trees. Wow. Wackadoo.

Nice post from The Dating Dad

More ruminations on dating and what a slice of heaven it can be.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Political Fashion

There are four beautiful women in the spotlight this political season: Michelle Obama (44), Jill Biden (57), Cindy McCain (54), and Sarah Palin (44). Because the American people love to glamorize their politicians and their spouses, those among us (myself included) who have a more shallow and materialistic side to them/us are frankly fascinated by, yup, what they are wearing. Ah, all my straight male blog readers just clicked somewhere else, yes? I don't care. This one's for the chicks.

I think Palin is going to bring back glasses and piled up hair. She is one of those rare public women who wears glasses all the time and can look great in them. The piled up hair thing is also a surprise...what an old fashioned hairstyle, and it looks fantastic on her. It's nice to see all four women avoiding that stick-straight long hair look that's the current dream style. It just doesn't seem to work on middle-aged women. I do like the longer hair trend though...definitely makes women look a little younger.

While Palin, Biden and McCain gravitate towards cute suits with knee length skirts and peter-pan lapels, Obama tends to favor those elegant sheath dresses. Pearls and pins are de rigeur for all four of them...very demure. I've also seen all of them wearing very conservative light pink or white manicures. Biden and McCain are bottle blondes and look incredible in pastels like the blue suit Cindy wore to introduce her husband at the RNC. I wish I could wear that color. All four women are quite, quite thin, with Palin being the most athletic looking. Interesting and not surprising. More proof that regardless of what Mommy tells you, thin is in.

It must be amazing to be a candidate or candidate's spouse. Suddenly you have a stylist and people pay close attention to everything you wear and how you wear it. You really do become sort of a rock star. I wonder how Palin will talk her stylist into letting her keep the glasses.


WebGirl Radio

According to the stats software I use for this blog, about half of my blog readership resides in or around New York. So if you're here in the area or if you're not but you enjoy listening to Internet radio, here are my two current favorite radio stations, both of which have sprung up in the past year:

101.9RXP plays good rock music, a nice mixture of old and new, perfect for an old decrepit woman like me. I actually seem to like a lot of their new music. I am entering that phase of life where "the oldies" stations play eighties music, which, frighteningly, is the stuff I listened to in high school and college. Sometimes I hear new music in the car, especially the poppy stuff, and I get the classic "old person's thought:" what kinda crap are the youngins listening to today. I will readily admit that I could not pick out a Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake song in a lineup. But this station plays new stuff from bands I enjoy and makes me feel a little less ancient.

AM 970, The Apple is a mega-conservative station. Liberal progressives will hate this station. They play my three favorite talk show hosts: Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt. I used to listen to these guys all the time when I lived Out-of-Town, and then upon moving to New York, I would podcast Prager and Hewitt. Medved, who is actually my favorite among the three, makes you pay for his podcasts, which I find very irritating. Now, when I'm not mainlining my music, I've got these dudes on.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Dog and My Dinner

So tonight, I'm sitting in front of the computer, in the middle of my gourmet dinner, Honey Nut Cheerios and milk. I paused mid spoonful to read something on my screen with the bowl in one hand and the spoon in another. Bonnie, my sweet little well-behaved dog, in one fluid movement, hauled herself up on my lap and proceeded to bury her head in my cereal bowl. She just started slorping the stuff down.

I started shouting "Bonnie, no, bad girl, off, Bonnie no, no, no!" Bonnie stopped, looked up at me, and then continued slorping. She almost finished the whole thing. In about fifteen seconds flat.

I threw her off my lap and she turned her little head sideways, looked up at me and gave me the stinkeye. "What did I do? Why did you take away my cereal? Why are you so mean?"

I just poured the rest in her bowl. Damn dog.

Michaels coupon

20% off at Michaels crafts stores.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Finally, an election we don't have to fight about! My fellow Americans, do click here. I am torn. I love peanut nougat ice cream but I also like it crunchy. What to do, what to do...

Or you can just vote for McCain/Palin over on the top right side of the blog.... Heh heh.

Free ziplocs, why not? Who couldn't use free ziplocs?

Click.

Does Palin support Israel?

Well, because she is not a legislator, she really has no voting record. So I don't know.

But here's something interesting. Watch this video: http://alaskapodshow.com/index.php/2008/02/20/my-visit-to-juneau-alaska. It has absolutely nothing to do with Israel...it seems like it's just a tourism promo for Juneau. But pay attention to a) what Palin is wearing in her lapel and b) what is in her office window, over her shoulder. Interesting, huh? And it's not like she has an actual reason to be wearing an Israeli flag lapel pin or to have an Israeli flag in the Alaskan governor's office.

Out of the Park

Sarah Palin hit a home run tonight. So much has been said already, I'm just going to put in my $.02 enough to make a dime:

1) For all you liberal progressives who are claiming to be shocked at her 17 year-old unmarried daughter's pregnancy, please give me a freakin break. This offends you. Pre-marital teenage sex offends you. Oh, ok.

2) For all you liberal progressive feminists who are concerned with Palin's ability to serve as Vice President and simultaneously raise her children, uh, please see above. This one really blows my mind. Seriously. No one said boo when John Edwards decided to run for President (an infinitely more demanding position than Veep) when his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. But Palin gets crap for "abandoning" her special-needs child. Pass the barf bag, please.

3) I love the fact that she wore a skirt on stage. I love it. This is a woman who has absolutely nothing to prove. She was a point guard in high school, is a sportsman, fisherman and hunter, hikes and runs...she is an athlete and tomboy extraordinaire. But she is also a former Miss Alaska, and is beautiful and poised without being glamorous and overdone. Pantsuits are not necessary for Sarah...she is totally comfortable with her femininity and understands that women can be strong and powerful and still be women. I love that. She is a true feminist. What a role model.

4) I don't think anyone will be putting "community organizer" on their resume too soon in the near future. She sliced and diced that one.

5) I cannot wait to hear her debate with Joe Biden. Not that debating Joe Biden is difficult; I mean, frankly, even I could debate Joe Biden on foreign policy. This is the man who proposed partitioning Iraq. But a debate will seal the argument once and for all. A McCain vs. Obama debate is a done deal and wouldn't be as enjoyable; after all, there are no teleprompters in a debate, so that won't be much of a show. But a Palin vs Biden debate could be a great launching pad; given that Biden is so seasoned and Palin is so unknown, a debate could be a real showcase for her.

Palin is the new Rock Star of the Presidential race. But unlike Obama, she is a Rock Star with substance, with things that she actually accomplished on her resume. She is a person who lives by her principles. Honestly, I can't imagine voting for a Presidential candidate based on his choice for Veep, and I can't imagine voting for someone because she is a woman (or a black, or a Jew or a _______). Vote for someone because (s)he is the right person for the job. Period. But I believe that John McCain was the right choice to begin with; choosing Palin has given his campaign the much-needed fire and electricity it needed to energize the American people. I was always going to vote for McCain, but now I'm excited to be doing it. Yeah.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hair

When the Moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then Peace will guide the planet,
And Love will steer the Stars.
The music was stupendous. The singing and dancing were beyond great. What a spectacle. It was really, really good. Get the picture?

What I really could have done without was the politics. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hair (the play, which has a completely different plotline from the 1979 movie), it's a musical that takes place in 1968. It's about a group of young hippies in New York City who basically spend their days living on the streets, having sex, smoking dope, expounding on life and cosmic consciousness and battling authority. The men are drafted and all but one, Claude, burn their draft cards. Claude goes to Vietnam and is killed. And that's it in a nutshell. Hair was powerful in the seventies because the message of Vietnam was fresh and relevant. America bears the scars of Vietnam even today.

So of course, Miss Liberal Shakespeareintheparkofficial comes out on stage before the play begins, and starts talking about how Hair resonates so strongly today because Iraq is Vietnam and how we are still battling a president who is killing our boys and fighting in an unjust war blah blah blah.

No matter what flavor of politics you subscribe to and no matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, here is the deal:

1. Iraq is not Vietnam.
2. We have no draft.

Period. End of story. The only thing Vietnam and Iraq have in common is that in both cases, American forces fought/are fighting revolutionaries. That's it. The situation in Iraq is completely different from the way things were in Vietnam. The start and cause of the conflict, the nature of the enemy, their governments, the strength of their military power, are all so different from Vietnam so as to make meaningful comparisons almost impossible. If you don't agree, then I'll do a whole separate boring history post and you can comment your brains out. Say the word.

But even more important is the fact that our army today is composed entirely of volunteers. If you don't want to fight for your country, you don't have to. No young men being forcefully plucked out of their childhood to shoot guns in a foxhole. No more draft.

So shutup
Miss Liberal Shakespeareintheparkofficial. And leave your politics out of the arts. And let me enjoy this unfreakingbelievably good music and dancing and karma.

On to The Things I Enjoyed the Most and The Things I Really Didn't Like. The latter first.

There is some real nudity in Hair. I know there was some in the original Broadway play, which I didn't see, and I saw the movie when I was really young, so I barely remember it. But in the very beginning of the show, Berger (one of the two main characters) removes his pants and pretty much prances around with nothing around his waist but some tastefully placed beads hanging from a belt. I'm really not a prude and Berger was a hottie, but honestly, I kept thinking throughout the scene, I really wish he would put his pants back on. It's just not necessary. The plotline would have been fine with him wearing pants. But then there is this one part where EVERYONE in the cast removes all their clothes at the end of a musical number. They dim the stage lights and the whole thing lasts 5 seconds, but let me tell you, it's still a little disturbing. Don't forget this is live theater. There is just no reason for them to be doing this. It doesn't even fit in with the plot. It's supposed to be laden with meaning, but I really don't know what. Frankly, it's just weird. And lest you think that this is just WebGirl the repressed Orthodox Yeshiva Girl talking here, my friends, two of whom were not even Jewish, all independently expressed the same thought. I really don't mind nudity in movies and plays, as long as it fits in. And also, geez, did they have to get completely nude? All of them? TMI.

The other thing was the endless humping and mime-humping. Hair, at least this version, is a pure musical...there is almost no talking at all...everything is sung (unlike the movie). So in the background of every single song, the other actors are humping and bumping and grinding. It's all sort of tastefully done and playacted, and I realize they are trying to convey the non-stop-free-love of the Sixties, but really, enough already. I get it, you are all having sex with each other. Ok. Enough with the groping and humping and slithering.

There is one pretty amusing part in the play where the characters all light up joints. Of course, it's not actual marijuana (at least I hope not); they just rolled tobacco into gigantic doobie props. But they do actually light and smoke them. And the one pregnant character in the play, Jeannie, makes a huge show of lighting up as well, delivering this zinger: "Like Mary Magdalena once said: 'Jesus, I'm getting stoned.'" I kept thinking, gee, if they were portraying lighting up cigarettes instead of joints, there would be all sorts of protests and petitions but because it's pot being portrayed instead of tobacco, it's cool. Not a word.

The Things I Enjoyed the Most? Have I mentioned the music? Yeah. First thing I did when I came home was buy the album from Itunes. It's such great, great stuff. And classic. The Age of Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, How Can People Be So Heartless, Donna, Hair, and of course, Let the Sunshine In. I love the Sixties, at least the music. Tomorrow I'm going to try to rent the DVD of the movie from the library.

If you've never been to Shakespeare in the Park, let me try to give you a little slice of the atmosphere. The Delacorte Theatre is an open-air arena style theater. There is not a bad seat in the house. It was a breezy and beautiful night, and the sound system was stupendous. And at the very end of the show, which closes with Let the Sunshine In, the actors invite the audience to get up on stage and dance with them, which pretty much everyone in the front does. It's incredible. Wild. I didn't go up to dance, but I still felt swept away by the music. I saw these real former hippies (now in their fifties and sixties) wearing tie-dyed stuff and flower dresses shaking their moneymakers with the cast and everyone was really concentrating on not concentrating and getting into the fun. And people start to lose themselves in the music and dancing. Which is ultimately what the play is also about: letting go of everything enough to lose yourself to some very, very good music. I love that sort of stuff. We all need to let go of ourselves every now and then.

It was a great evening. If you're in NY, it's still going to be around for another two weeks, so try to see it. If you can't wait in line in Central Park for tickets, try waiting on their Virtual Line for tickets. Very worthwhile. I might even go again. Leave the kids at home though. Just in case you dread waiting in line, let me reassure you that it's really not so bad. If you go with a friend on a Sunday and bring sandwiches and Ipods and a deck of cards, you will have fun.

For you trivia buffs, I went to IMDB to look up the 1979 movie, and guess who played Berger and Claude? The very gorgeous Treat Williams and John Savage, respectively. I only vaguely remember the film, but I definitely didn't realize who the actors were. Here's a little thirty year old montage Treat treat for ya.

And while we're utubing, here's the opening from the movie. This is so good.

Have I mentioned the music? Yeah, it's really, really good.
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Yeshiva Vs. Public School

Guest-posted by Nice Jewish Guy:

The following message came in one the copious digests from one of the local community shul mailing lists that I subscribe to:
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HELP Family sending frum kids to PUBLIC SCHOOL because can't afford


Mon Sep 1, 2008 12:53 pm (PDT)

I know a frum couple in [town in Eastern Nassau County] that are sending their 3 kids to public school because they can't afford to pay tuition!!!!

Any suggestions? I am afraid they are going to lose their children in the public school system. This is terrible. HELP!

I don't know how many frum people end up sending their kids to public school and the kids end up remaining frum.

Their oldest kid, a girl, is 10 years old and the 2 younger ones are 4 year old twins. 4 year olds don't even have to go to school, Don't know if the mother if maybe the mother is working during the day and that is why she would be looking for somewhere to put them. I know the parents are frum.

Please contact me,with suggestions, ideas.

Thanks. Tizku L'mitzvos.

Sincerely,

[Name Deleted]

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Now, this bothered me on a couple of levels. First, and most obvious, is the simple fact that indeed, especially in the current economy, Yeshiva tuition has gotten to the point where it is a crisis for many people. But let's put that aside.

I don't particularly care for the frantic, breathless, and overwrought tone of the message. And while I would generally agree that, all things considered, it is better for frum kids to be in a yeshiva, the writer practically treats as a foregone conclusion that her kids will be "lost"-- i.e., no longer frum as a result of going through the public school system; she has basically written them off if they remain there.

While as I said, I believe that it would be better for a frum kid to be in a Jewish educational environment, it is by no means whatsoever a guarantee that he or she will remain frum-- any more than a kid from a yeshiva is guaranteed to remain frum. In fact, I know more than a handful of people who went through the yeshiva system-- with me, with friends, in black-hat yeshivas, in Modern Orthodox day schools, across the spectrum-- and there are statistics from all demographics who did not remain frum. I think that at least as important as the school environment is the home environment. Kids are going to follow their parents' example if they are imbued with it with love and tolerance and if they don't witness hypocrisy. Kids leave frumkeit because they rebel against what they precieve as hypocrisy and an oppressive environment. If the child is told that he is "bad" because he watches movies or does something else innoccuous, he might say, "so I'm already bad, what's the difference what else I do"; or if he sees his father harangue him to go to daven every day and wear a black hat, but sees his father cheat in business and treat his mother or business associates like crap, he may chuck it all and say, "who needs this". Being in public school, in and of itself, does not necessarily mean he will be lost to frumkeit. If his parents are as frum as they supposedly are, they can learn with the kids, arrange tutoring, etc. I know many parents with special needs kids who send their kids to public school because the Yeshivas just don't have the services and resources for some of these kids.

Whatever the situation, something must be done. Yeshivas (some of them) are notoriously heartless when it comes to their tuition boards and scholarship committees, subjecting applicants for tuition assistance to embarrassing financial records scrutinizations that would put the IRS to shame. I know one family whose six year old was undergoing chemo for malignant bone cancer (thank God he survived) and who were strained enough financially because of the medical bills, lost workdays, and other related expenses that they applied for tuition breaks. The answer? No. a flat No. And what about familes with 3 or 4 or 5 kids that are going through raging divorces, where the money is tied up or just isnt there? Think it's not so common? You'd be shocked.

What's amazing is that we see ads and flyers all the time for the "poor in Eretz Yisrael". There are poor people right here! Their school education is virtually free. Doesn't charity begin at home? And aren't many poor in Israel poor becauee they have chosen a lifestyle of not working? Shouldn't we be trying to make sure that every Jewish kid has a yeshiva education here before we suport those who really can support themselves?

I don't have any glib solutions to solve the tuition crisis. But let's not write kids off because they might have to go to public school.