Monday, April 19, 2010

Scarpeta launches word game

Scarpeta will post a new word of the day and 10 words that you can't use to describe it. Your goal is to get 3 people to guess it without realizing that they are playing a game. Or make it a ritualized car pool or lunchtime game. All words are to be about something going on in the daily news. For example:

Icelandic Volcano

Any country in Western or Eastern Europe
Atlantic Ocean
Any word that does or can start with the word Air

Reaction to the Million Dollar Bat Mitzvah

Today on my way to work listening to WGN, the morning show was reading from the New York Post about million dollar bar and bat mitzvah parties.


Bar and Bat Mitzvahs began their out of control spiral in the 1950s when American Jews, during the beginning of national consumerism as we now know it, began celebrating the children’s rite of passage (more boys than girls at the time) with lavish parties to mark not only a Jewish kid’s entry into adulthood, but the fact that Jews finally found a country that, besides a few drinking fountains, park benches, fraternities, sororities and country clubs, let its Jewish community succeed and thrive to be full members of society.

As I listened to the outlandish Bat Mitzvah story, I wondered if there is a defense of this. One of the bat mitzvah parental sponsors said the Bat Mitzvah cost the correct percentage of the family’s income.

Alright, creative answer.

In my attempt to look at the other side, I thought of all the people who are employed because of a lavish Bar or Bat Mitzvah: catering, servers, dancers, choreographers, security, tailors, Jon Bon Jovi (he has a lot of kids!), band members, janitorial staff, florists, dry cleaners, babysitters and plastic surgeons, hair stylists and makeup artists.

After all the Talmud says,

"Give someone a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach someone to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Another reason is that in a religion that marks so many tragedies, Jewish simchas (happy occasions) are notoriously lavish (especially in the Orthodox community) because it’s important to give it your all during the good times. In fact, Jewish people don’t have double weddings, because it’s not right to do a 2 for one party, because you short the community one party.

So then why is the million dollar bat mitzvah so distasteful, more so than a big wedding? And why can’t Rabbis stop one from happening?

The second question is easier than the first. It’s hard not to stop your congregant from throwing a big party when 1. It’s a free country 2. It’s not prohibited by Jewish law 3. The new wing is named after the bat mitzvah girl’s great grandparents, may they rest in peace. The greater good of the new classrooms to teach Jewish values outweighs the problematic pageantry.

One argument is that a big party takes away from the point: a bar or bat mitzvah is a time to enter the covenant as an adult. The celebration detracts from the ritual.

This is true, but it needs to be tweaked.

The ritual is not necessarily so important or meaningful. Ask any kid who tries to draw meaning from a Torah portion about leprosy or archaic sacrifices. Ask the kid whose voice is changing and has to sing in front of 300 people. LOVE THAT KID.

What is important is that the child becomes a full-fledged member of the community and is the best way to teach a kid to enter a communal setting, and Judaism is supposed to be about the community and less about the individual, through extravagance when there are people who have nothing to feed their children or the ability to pay for basic necessities?

It’s just not. I’m sure the same people who spend a million dollar on a bat mitzvah, donate that much or more to charities. And that’s wonderful. But your 13 year old needs to understand, and you have the obligation to ”teach them diligently,” that happiness does not emerge from grossly lavish celebrations, but from the open arms of a community that (should) welcomes you because of who you are, the values you commit to and not the number of ice cream flavors you have on the sundae bar.

The New York Post article

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Party's Kettle has finally boiled over

Scarpetta has uncovered shocking news that the Tea Party movement is not filled with sore loser Republicans who still haven’t gotten over the 2008 election. Rather it is the work again of greedy corporations trying to take advantage of a divided country by promoting their products.

A source who asked to be called “Lief” said the CFOs of Argo Tea, Tazo, Republic of Tea and Lipton will be called before Congress to testify about this unfair scheme to change Americans into tea drinkers to reap profits.

It is no secret that all of the listed companies endorsed John McCain except Celestial Seasons who donated money to the Obama campaign.

The Tea Party Movement came under suspicion when Glenn Beck wrote on his chalkboard:: Everyone needs some honey in their tea. Male bee + female bee = honey. Two male bees = no honey/Nutrasweet.

When a blogger pointed out to Beck that honey isn’t made through reproduction, Rush Limbaugh jumped to Beck’s defense saying that the “honey smear” campaign was just part of the Homosexual agenda and if gay bees start making honey, "I'm moving to Costa Rica."

Meanwhile the Tea Party movement is beginning to splinter. A fascist group called “White Tea For Me” wants to cut the black tea production and ban the sale of Wissotzky tea in the United States.

On the left are the Green Tea and Herbal Tea movements. It is unclear if they are pro environment or pro marijuana or both or too high to know for sure.

Tea Party supporters were hoping to have “tea time” every day to protest the Obama administration, but once dudes tasted tea sandwiches and scones they asked for real food because as Lief said, “That stuff tastes like crap and everyone just pretends to like it so they don’t look uncultured.”

The Tea Party movement has spread to average corporations. A blogger by the name of Beansforever is asking the ACLU for help.

“One day, I got to work, and the only Keurig single cups left were Keurig English Tea. I tore apart the office, and there was no French Roast Keurig to be found,” Beansforever wrote. “Also those weird tea ball strainer things were around the office placed on all our desks. I don’t want to strain stuff to drink it.”

However a coworker of Beansforever discredited him when he posted a picture of Beansforever’s first generation hybrid with bumper stickers of, “Al Gore is my President” and “Kerry/Edwards” still prominently stuck to his car.

Folgers is riding out the controversy. “Yeah, we’ve survived Starbucks, we will survive this, too.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Defense of Men

Boys, I am here to defend you.

You have been attacked in a national magazine by an MD, PHD. And although Dr. Sax is far more qualified to speak on most any matter than I am, it doesn’t make his recent article in Psychology Today entitled “Why are so many girls lesbian or bisexual?” any less sexist (against men) .

Sax’s “wonders ” if more girls are lesbians or bisexual now than ever “because that's truly who they are - or because the guys are such losers?”

Look, I know this hasn’t been a Golden Age for male behavior with Tiger Woods and Jesse James having sex with any woman with a tattoo and a cell phone camera. However, perhaps I’m naive, but I can’t believe all men are dogs, or men turn women gay because of their behavior.

Sax correlated the “Boys are Losers” theory with the rise, access and availability of porn. I agree that porn has a negative impact on boys, but it’s not making them losers who turn women on to other women.

Porn is problematic, as I’ve written about before, because it creates unrealistic expectations for everybody, including girls. The men in porn look and typically perform, um, differently than average guys. Some women enjoy sex less than female porn stars. If anyone expects their sex life to follow the script of a porn, he/she will never have a fulfilled sex life. There is some good news. Probably the music on your IPOD is better than in XXX movies.

However, I don’t think most boys are trading in girls for porn therefore causing girls to turn to each other for love and companionship. I think today it is safer for women to be lesbians or bisexual and therefore they are. There is also societal forgiveness so a woman can be with a female partner one year and a male partner the next, and no one really cares. They just want her to be happy.

My single friends and I joke, “one more bad dating experience and I’m going to switch teams.” But the thing is, we don’t switch teams. Why? Because we don’t want to. Or if someone does want to, they do. Trust me, I have a lot of single friends who are women, if they could be gay, they would be. Being gay is not something a guy can do to you no matter how repulsive a man’s behavior is. You need to be attracted to women to want to have sex with them. Many of us aren't therefore:

Boys, I don’t think you are losers. I do think your dads might need to talk to you more about acting responsibly and ethically in terms of sexuality and not to objectify women as celebrities do. However, you aren’t to blame (or some would say to thank!) for homosexuality. Now get off the computer and go on a real date. Be safe!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Women's Health Article

It's published in this week's Oy Chicago. Might make your head spin a little.