How Do You Jew An educational, informational, conversational blog and (someday) podcast about Judaism, Jewish practices, customs, and rituals, Israel, and whatever else we decide to talk about.

February 19, 2010

I did it!

Filed under: entertainment,fun,humor,movies,random,sci-fi,technology,television,video — howdoyoujew @ 12:56

OK, in the grand scheme of things, and even in my own life, this doesn’t count as a HUGE deal, but it was an amusing distraction for a couple of days that kept my mind off much less fun things for at least a few minutes:

In the middle of last week, I brought up hulu.com on my laptop at home (probably to watch House with my lovely wife). On the front page was this promo for Ghostbusters, which had just been added to the Hulu catalog:
Ghostbusters screencap
The first thing I noticed, after thinking, “Huh, it’d probably be fun to see that again” was that the name of one of the stars was misspelled. I’ll give you a minute.

After verifying my suspicion (I knew I was right, but I needed independent confirmation, of course) with IMDB, I shot off this mildly snarky feedback email to Hulu:

He is one of the biggest names in American film/TV comedy history.

You are THE biggest name in online film/TV content delivery. You really shouldn’t make mistakes this egregious.

It’s spelled Aykroyd, not ACKroyd. Yes, it’s not spelled the way it sounds, but he’s been around long enough that I’d think you guys, at least, would know this.

Otherwise: keep up the great work!

A little over a week later, I got a response asking where I’d seen the error. After telling them (it was now on the Movies homepage, not the site’s front page), it took only 24 more hours to correct. Voila:
It's AYKroyd dammit!

September 7, 2008

Someone please tell me again why anyone would vote for this guy or anyone in his party?

Filed under: Christianity,Commentary,Family,history,Politics,television,video — howdoyoujew @ 20:36

Also, how much do you think the Obama people would have to spend to buy this from The Daily Show and use it as the basis for their ad campaign from now until November?

and

July 17, 2008

A Day In Israel: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 – 13th of Tamuz, 5768

0830 We got up and started getting ready for our day. This included a light breakfast for us and Hadarya.

0900 My friend, roommate, and rabbi Scott, called to tell me that Channel 10 News was covering the prisoner exchange in the north, in case I was interested. I was, of course, so I turned on the (fancy flat panel) TV in our flat and started watching.
Within a short time, the feed switched to the Lebanese side of the border, where the Hizballah spokesman began his remarks in preparation for the exchange. With the posturing typical of Arab representatives of years ago (and still all too common today) when the Arab leadership spoke of pushing the Jews into the sea, he spoke in grandiose and pompous terms about the “war of aggression started against” Hizballah by Israel in 2006, and the “intense international pressure” Hizballah withstood regarding the prisoner exchange. Despite the pressure, he said, on their own schedule, his organization was now ready to turn over the captured Israeli soldiers, Ehud “Udi” Goldwasser and Eldad Regev (he of course did not use Goldwasser’s nickname).

A bit of background is appropriate here: the 2006 Lebanon War was in fact instigated by a Hizballah ambush on the convoy Goldwasser and Regev were part of, along with a Katyusha rocket attack on northern Israeli civilian targets timed to coincide with the ambush. The IDF operation in Lebanon to try to neutralize Hizballah, which lasted just over a month, cost hundreds of lives on both sides of the border, and failed to accomplish its secondary objective, returning the kidnapped soldiers (I will not address here whether the primary objective of neutralizing Hizballah, was accomplished or not).
Israel’s policy and military code has always held that we do not leave a man in the field of battle, be he wounded, dead, or otherwise, so the only kind of negotiation Israel has ever undertaken with terrorist groups has been in the form of prisoner exchanges. These deals have historically been ridiculously lopsided, partly because it is rare for Israeli soldiers to be captured by the enemy in any condition, and largely because Israel places such a high value on the lives of its soldiers and citizens. Thus, we have in the past released dozens, sometimes hundreds of prisoners in exchange for one or two or three missing or captured men.
Two things stood out about the deal for Goldwasser and Regev: First, we didn’t know for certain whether our men were dead or alive. We knew from forensic evidence at the scene of the ambush that they’d been seriously wounded, enough that IDF officials publicly stated that they needed immediate medical attention in order to survive. We obviously had no way of knowing if Hizballah provided any, let alone adequate, medical care to our men, so the nation, and the two families, were left mostly in the dark these last two years, although IDF Intelligence had told the families that the two were “most likely” dead.
More significantly, the second thing that made this deal different is that, for the first time, Israel had agreed to release a captured terrorist with blood on his hands, that is, one who had murdered Israelis. This had always been a well-defined and well-known line that Israel didn’t cross in prisoner exchanges with any party, but our position in this case was weakened by a variety of factors. Thus it was that in exchange for the two soldiers whose fate we did not definitively know, we agreed to release Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze terrorist directly responsible for the deaths of four Israelis, including two children, in an attack on the northern coast city of Nahariya in 1979. In addition to him, four other Lebanese prisoners and the remains of 199 Lebanese killed in fighting with Israel were included in the deal.

Back to the morning of the exchange: After the Hizballah rep announced they were returning the soldiers, a reporter shouted out, “Are they alive or dead?” and the terrorist representative said, “You will see in a moment.”
It was then that a couple of goons pulled a black coffin out of a waiting vehicle and laid it on the ground in front of the assembled media and Hizballah and Red Cross personnel. Then they brought out a second coffin.

The Israeli commentators on television who were narrating and translating the action were noticeably moved and shaken by the revelation that the two reservists, who were just 31 (Udi) and 26 (Eldad) when they were kidnapped, were dead. Among other comments, they pointed out that it was impossible to tell (at least at that point) when the soldiers had actually died, but that hardly mattered.

I sat and watched the coverage for over an hour: I saw the same footage over and over again of those coffins being laid on the ground by people unfit for the task; I watched cutaway live footage from outside the home of the Regev family in the small town of Kiryat Motzkin; I listened to the commentators and pundits talk until they had nothing more to say; and I cried.

I started crying very unexpectedly (at least I didn’t expect it), and very hard, and I kept crying for several long minutes as that footage of the coffins played over and over again in the living room of our rented flat in Jerusalem with my wife and toddler daughter watching me. My lovely wife brought over a box of tissues, and my darling daughter noticed rather quickly that something was wrong and began saying, “Aba…Aba!” in a plaintive, sympathetic tone that made me fall in love with her all over again for the umpteenth time this week. (I wrote out a draft of this entry in longhand before typing it, and choked up as I wrote that last bit, and I just got teary AGAIN typing it in.)

1030-ish We left the flat and got a cab to the city center, where the Jerusalem office of the Ministry of Interior is located, to begin the process of registering Hadarya as an Israeli citizen and applying for her passport. We got new passport pictures taken at the kiosk (the Hebrew word for bodega) next door to the office, and went upstairs to wait in what I was sure was going to be the first of many long lines that day. My suspicions were not helped by the receptionist, who told me that we’d first have to go to one office for the citizen registry, then go to another area entirely for the passport application. But I knew the nature of the bureaucracy we were dealing with, so I went along with it, knowing we could always split the two tasks up and come back if it took too long.

We got into the first office after a not-too-long-at-all 10 minutes, and sat down to explain to Malka the clerk what we needed to do. While she remained somewhat surly throughout the process, I’ll just say that we left Malka’s office less than half an hour later, with my new Israeli ID card supplement papers listing my correct and current marital and parental status, and with Hadarya’s passport application already in the pipeline, with the passport expected at my aunt’s in Ra’anana (the only permanent address I can reasonably claim in Israel) within a week – that is, in time for us to get it before we leave back for the States. Malka didn’t HAVE to process the passport app in addition to the citizen registration; she chose to help us out, I know not why. But it is not my place to question such acts of charity; I merely accept them when they are given.

Around lunchtime We walked the block and a half to the Ben Yehuda promenade and enjoyed lunch at McDonald’s, a singular pleasure we can only partake of in Israel. We then walked up and down the busy shopping thoroughfare and did what tourists do, but with the added flavor and advantage of some authentic Middle Eastern bargaining and haggling over prices. This helped us complete much of our gift shopping for family, friends, and ourselves without feeling like we spent too much money.

1530 After yummy frozen yogurt with mix-ins, we headed back to the flat and met up with the Meltzers for a trip to Malha Mall for dinner (and a movie for the Meltzers; Hadarya can’t sit through a feature film yet) and some more shopping. Jenn scored a couple of beautiful new hats for shul, we had kosher KFC for dinner, and Hadarya cavorted with a couple of dozen other kids at a little play area in the mall before we left to go home for bedtime.

I realized on the way home (and on the nightly stroll through the neighborhood putting Hadarya to sleep) what a powerful, emotion-filled, fun, difficult, hot, typically Israeli day it had been, and I felt so at home.

June 26, 2008

Movie review: You Don’t Mess With the Zohan

Hilarious. Chock full of Adam Sandler’s typical bathroom jokes and 80s-centric humor, this movie (Flash heavy site) won’t disappoint his enormous day-to-day fan base. But the movie is also packed with tons of audience-specific gags that are only truly funny if you a) speak decent colloquial Hebrew, b) spent time in Israel in the 80s and early 90s, c) are otherwise familiar with Israeli culture, d) are familiar with the NY Israeli scene, or e) all of the above. Jenn and I laughed nonstop, but there were definitely lots of moments that we looked at each other and thought, “Is anyone else getting this?”

To give you a taste, check out this old SNL sketch, which undoubtedly helped germinate Zohan:

There are several motifs at play in that bit that appear, in more or less polished form, in Zohan.

Wait, did I just refer to “motifs” while talking about an Adam Sandler comedy? BWAHAHAHAHA!

Go see it. There are a lot of fun cameos, there’s even a nice underlying message, and you’ll laugh a bunch. It’ll be good for you.

June 4, 2008

Something…something…COMPLETE!

I’ve been wearing a kippah full time now for three years, I think (somebody can check me on this; I’m pretty sure I have previously blogged about this), and that one little mitzvah definitely has me thinking more consciously about all the other mitzvot I observe and those I don’t.

There are some mitzvot that I can observe daily, others that present themselves less frequently but with some regularity (various Shabbat observances, for instance), and then there are those that only occur irregularly and that I have no control over – namely, those related to life cycle events that are not my own. I’ve had the honor of being a kvatter at a bris (the person who carries the baby boy to the sandak, the person who will hold him during the circumcision), I’ve held the chuppah and signed the ketubah in a wedding, I’ve participated in taharat ha-met, and this week, I witnessed the delivery of a get.

I was recruited for this last task in typically impromptu fashion by my friend and teacher Rabbi Scott Meltzer, with no question posed as to my willingness to participate nor warning given as to the purpose for which he was pulling me (and a fellow congregant) out of the congregational meeting for which we had gathered at our shul. Since I’m not entirely daft, I guessed what we were doing when the Rabbi walked us up to his office accompanied by a couple who didn’t display the kind of joy you reserve for, well, joyous occasions. We all stood in the Rabbi’s office and listened to him read the document in Aramaic, translate/explain it in English, then instruct the man on the proper procedure of delivering it to his soon-to-be-ex-wife, and finally guide her in the final steps (literally – the woman takes 4 steps away after taking possession of the get to signify that she accepts it), making the deed official.

I was uncomfortable for a bit, feeling like I was standing in this couple’s personal space, witnessing something so intensely private and painful. But I recognized, too, that, just as the wedding is a communal event, so this too must be. After all, these two individuals deserve their own happiness, and they could not find it with each other. Just as witnesses were required when they declared their commitment to each other, they had to go through this ritual, witnessed by two unrelated members of the community, to free them to seek that happiness with someone else, both times according to the laws of Moses and Israel.

And, like with my previous opportunities to fulfill life cycle mitzvot, I got a chance to reflect on and marvel at the wisdom of the sages who framed these rules, and thank God that I am part of this tradition.

Oh, and Paul: Yes, I purposely waited until the end of this post to acknowledge our in-joke just to force you to read all the way through it so that maybe you’d learn something. Yeah, I know it’s not really our in-joke if Family Guy has lampooned it.

May 20, 2008

Punchline looking for a joke

Yeah, yeah, so I’m a parent now, so that’s supposed to make me all “mature” and “grown up” and blahblahblah?!

HA!

We took our daughter to the doctor yesterday, as she’s had a rash on her torso for several days that turned out NOT to be heat rash; she also displayed a decreased appetite over the last couple of days and was sneezing a lot, so we thought it was time. The nice people at Kaiser agreed it was time, but exactly WHAT time was still a matter of some argument (they gave me a 7:15 PM appointment, neglecting to mention that it was actually a 7:30 appointment and that they ask you to check in 15 min. ahead of time. Really? My daughter is 19 months old and we’ve made every appointment the same way for the last year and a half; I KNOW about the 15 min. rule, jackass. Thus we were at the clinic 30 minutes early instead of just 15, and the doctor still didn’t come in until after 8 PM, but who’s counting?).

Anyway, our angelic daughter again behaved perfectly and amazingly well for a toddler well past her bedtime and in a foreign environment, and when the doc (a very nice man with three names AND a roman numeral after his name!) finally checked her out, he quickly (after a peek at her rash and down her throat) diagnosed “hand, foot and mouth disease.”

I’ll let that sink in.

This is the same girl who’s had not one, but TWO perforated eardrums in the last month or so, as well as a bout of roseola. She can’t just get a common cold. No, she has to pick up the virus that sounds a lot like the one that causes Mad Cow Disease (it’s not the same; I’m just sayin’…).

The doc gave us this news with the sort of demeanor that kept me somewhat calm despite myself. He said it’s a viral infection and will go away by itself. Then he identified the virus by its official name, and I… well, I immediately knew I’d be blogging about it, for one thing.

Coxsackie.

Come on! Really?! Cock-sacky?

Now I don’t want to make fun of historically significant place names (OK, maybe I do, but let that go for a minute), and I understand that it’s derived from a Native American term, but there are limits to my restraint, people! I’m only human.

It strikes me that my generation of geeks is going to run into this more and more – life situations that make us giggle inwardly (or out loud) because of some pop culture association we make with an otherwise innocuous word, phrase, or visual. For me, it’ll usually be a Monty Python scene or line that’ll come up, or something from HHGTTG, Star Wars, or one of the other big- or little-screen or hardbound companions from my childhood/adolescence. But other times, like last night at the doctor’s office, it’ll just be a silly-sounding word that’ll make me turn into one of the boys from South Park, forever laughing at bathroom humor.

Coxsackie.
Coxsackie.
CoxsackieCoxsackieCoxsackie.

Heh.

May 13, 2008

Brain dump, Tuesday night

I have to blog a thousand things, but I’ll just keep this to the top that I’m able to think of, in no particular order, before my fingers get tired:

  1. The evil bastards who control the food packaging disaster that is hot dogs and buns are even more devious than I previously suspected: We recently got Hadarya a play kitchen (and PLEASE don’t start with the sexism/promoting gender stereotypes/etc. arguments – she is a very well-rounded child who spends time doing lots of other things, but she sees us both working in the kitchen and loves to pretend to do so on her own), and Grandma Bonnie came through with a ginormous vat of play food to fill the kitchen. The play food container has, I kid you not, six hot dogs and TWO buns. What the???
  2. I’m completely engrossed in the audio recording of Wil Wheaton‘s Just A Geek. His writing is excellent – the stories of his time on TNG, including the hindsight on what a bonehead he was to not appreciate it at the time (he WAS a teenager, after all; it would have been more surprising if he HAD appreciated it); working the con circuit with fellow cast members; his brutal honesty and openness about his emotional fragility over the lack of work, with the concomitant ups and downs of auditions and wasted hours waiting for phone calls; his beautiful stories about his family and his struggles to support them; all of this is good source material, and it’s well put together on paper. But his performance of his own material is evocative, moving, funny, and true, with occasional asides and deviations from the written source that make this feel at once like the special edition of the book with extra features and like he’s performing it exclusively for me (it helps that I’m listening to it in the car when I’m either alone or with a sleeping toddler in the back).
    I’m able to relate to virtually everything he talks about because I grew up with a father who worked in “the industry” (what people who work in the movie/television business call their line of work), so the terms are familiar, and so are many of the settings (walking around studio backlots and sets, the peculiar hurry-up-and-wait schedule of a typical shoot, etc.). In some of the stories, the empathy is even stronger because our paths were even closer – growing up geeky, playing role-playing and video games, seeing all the same movies and listening to much of the same music.
    Then there’s his audition for the co-host spot on Win Ben Stein’s Money. Listening to that chapter was amazing, since I was a contestant on the show. Wil was up for the co-host spot after Jimmy Kimmel’s first replacement, but that wasn’t clear from his description, and since I stopped watching the show after I played on it (that story will get its own post), I didn’t even know there WAS another co-host, nor that he was Jimmy Kimmel’s cousin. That was all cleared up by Wikipedia, thankyouverymuch.
  3. It’s been a very long time since I was as wrapped up in a television show as I was in this week’s House, the penultimate episode of the season. I started watching the series when the strike took my other vegout shows off the air, and haven’t been disappointed, but they really nailed it this week. I’m going to catch up on last week’s episode via Hulu before enjoying the season finale next week. Then Veronique and I can discuss amongst ourselves, dahling.
  4. Is it just me, or is it weird that Hillary Clinton is ignoring the fact that her base, according to all the data I’m hearing, is essentially uneducated white people, while Barack Obama’s core supporters tend to be college-educated? I guess that explains some stuff, like her pandering to people with the proposed gas tax holiday, and how she can get away with calling him “elitist,” and other things. Meh. I so don’t want this blog to be about politics.
  5. I’ve got basic show notes written up for like a dozen How Do You Jew podcast episodes. I just need to put some music together, do a little research on each of my core topics, and start recording. Actually, here are some of the things I want to cover. Any suggestions for straightforward sources of good, solid information about them would be appreciated. The idea is that I’ll introduce and briefly discuss/explain a specific Jewish tradition or halachic practice each episode:
    • Torah scroll, sofer, filling in letters to fulfill mitzvah
    • Kippot/yarmulkes – where is rule to wear, who’s obligated/allowed, different styles and their connotations in different communities
    • Yahrzeit/shloshim/shiva
    • Hamantaschen – Haman’s ears vs. Haman’s hat & possibly other traditional Jewish holiday foods
    • Pikuach nefesh
    • Alright, Jenn should be home soon from the synagogue board meeting, and I need to fill out Hebrew High report cards, so that’s it for tonight… Also, Hadarya is restless and needs some comforting, so off I go.

May 4, 2008

A million kinds of awesome

Wil Wheaton is living the grown-up geek life. Since growing up geeky in LA, kickin’ butt as a writer in Stand By Me, then being the butt of countless jokes in Star Trek: TNG, Wil got to writing. Specifically, blogging. He’s got the gift, as a writer and a performer, not only to transport his audience to the setting of his stories (familiar snapshots of coming of age in LA in the 80s, playing video games & D&D, getting in on the ground floor of the PC revolution, and more, except for me without the acting bits), but to inspire people to tell their own stories.

He was in San Diego this weekend, and I got to enjoy his reading at Mysterious Galaxy and get his autograph on my brand new copy of his latest, The Happiest Days of Our Lives (a collection of posts from his blog). The setting allowed me to chat with him for a few minutes, letting him know about my absent friends (Stephen [who told me about Wil’s visit in the first place; thanks!], McHank, Paul, Cousin Alli… am I missing anyone?) who were bummed not to be there, and the theory Paul & I have about the Emperor’s limited vocabulary in the Star Wars movies, and my discovery of where the limitation came from (I think we’re all in agreement that “limited” is a good word for George Lucas’s writing aptitude, regardless of his other talents). Wil laughed easily and genuinely, like me. He talks like me, is excited about the same things I am, and I’m super excited to dive into his brain and explore the parts I know so well and those I don’t…

Awesome.

February 8, 2008

Blasphemy has never been so funny.

The thing about Israelis is, they we are equal opportunity offenders.
Christians? No problem:
If Mary had been a modern Israeli woman (5 MB WMV download)

Chasidic and other ultra-orthodox Jews? We got you covered:

I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff out there to cover Muslims and others, too, but I’ll leave it to others to find (and point me to, of course).

December 19, 2007

Coincidence? Perhaps…

Filed under: entertainment,fun,humor,Life Online,sci-fi,technology,television,video — howdoyoujew @ 22:59

1. At a party over the weekend, I met Mark Christopher Lawrence, a prolific actor who’s currently appearing in NBC’s prime-time hit Chuck. I don’t usually drop names, but then, I don’t usually run into successful actors, either.

I’d never watched Chuck, mostly because I haven’t been watching much TV at all, but I’d heard of it and liked the concept, and…

2. The next day, I got in on the private beta of Hulu.com, the video on demand site backed by NBC and Fox. Conveniently enough, Chuck is one of the shows available pretty much in its entirety on Hulu, so I checked out the pilot, and liked it enough that I’m now totally into the show. I’ve watched the first 4 episodes, and I’ll catch up on the rest before the writers’ strike ends.

I love it when a plan comes together.

By the way, did I mention that some of the other shows available on Hulu are The A-Team, Airwolf, Emergency!, and Battlestar Galactica (both incarnations, thank you!)? It’s like a little TV playground created just for me and all my raised-on-cheesy-80s-television brethren and sistern. Yay!

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