Kobe Bryant: “I Wouldn’t Mind Being Jewish”

kobe bryantWell, isn’t that nice, but maybe I mind.

As reported by the JPost, after the Lakers’ victory over the Kings last Thursday, a television reporter tried to engage Kobe in an offhand locker room discussion about the “dearth of Jewish athletes in professional sports,” a claim to which Bryant responded with skepticism.

“Not too many Jews in professional sports? Hmmm,” Bryant said. “That sounds kind of weird to me. Who did your research?”

After several other reporters chimed in with Jewish names in sports (though none in the NBA, of course), Kobe said “I don’t know if I’m converting, but if I do, you can definitely add another athlete to the pool.”

Me, if we’re having a fantasy draft here, I’d rather have Yao Ming, because there just aren’t enough Chinese Jews who kick ass on the court.

Joe Eskenazi at j. votes for Warriors’ center Adonal Foyle, ’cause “he’s the smartest and most humantarian player in the league.” (Foyle’s official site includes a poetry corner and political action links.)

If you could have any pro athlete convert to the Tribe, who’d be your first pick?

My Own Private Carnival

trapezeThanks to Esther and JDaters Anonymous, I no longer believe a blog carnival to be something that requires hand-painted Spandex and a trapeze.

While it seems that official blog carnivals have bloggers submit their own posts, lack of time and publicity dictate that I compile a “homemade” carnival of this week’s Jewish news, which is a lot like the homemade bird costume I sewed my son last week: It won’t win any awards, but like those blue wings made from a pair of outgrown shiny warm-up pants, it’ll provide hours of entertainment:

This week in the JBlogosphere, Esther’s review of the world’s only Ecstacy seder movie, “When Do We We Eat?” is over at Jewlicious.

The Yada Blog directs us to an IM interview with Matisyahu, in which he expressing his wish to discuss Midrash with Madonna, but doesn’t mention his recent status as pariah for dumping his long-time managers at non-profit JDub Records for the guy who discovered Nirvana.

The Jewish Ledger does not include the Yenta in its Beginner’s Guide to Jewish Blogging, but does mention our buddy the Jewish Blogmeister.

Dan Pine’s column in this week’s j. addresses the cattiness of the Jewish people, which touched on my own personal neurosis about comparing myself to other Jews.

Finally, this week’s Torah portion, a double whammy about the role of Shabbat and the building of the tabernacle that housed the tablets, helps us understand that every single one of us, even little ol’ you, matters.

That ought to keep you swinging from the ceiling for awhile. Shabbat Shalom, friends.

The Reality of Relativity Between Naps And Blog Posts

pizzaThere comes a time in every writing mother’s life when the near-perfect balance she has created must come to an end. The hours of the day, meticulously parsed like a pizza of tiny slivers rather than really satisfying pieces, once accomodated the attendant chores of childrearing and housekeeping while leaving one of two of those skinny portions for other, more fulfilling activities.

But one day, without warning, the whole freakin’ pizza that the mother’s been spinning comes flying out the air and splats cheese and tomato sauce all over the walls and in the hard-to-reach crevices, which not only destroys the schedule but leaves yet another damn mess to clean.

I am speaking, of course, of The End of the Nap.

Any mother of a small child will tell you that she depends on The Nap for sanity. This several-hour chunk of peace and quiet in the afternoon, when the adorable monster has finally spun him/herself into temporary exhaustion to recharge for another session of toy-breaking and pot-banging before dinner, is the time when mothers check email, work on their fabulous blogs or, quite often, stare into space for an hour while trying to remember where the clean dish towels go.

If there is no Nap, there is no Mommy Time. And if there is no Mommy Time, there is Hell To Pay. (Usually paid by Daddy, who doesn’t have much of a credit line himself.)

Eventually, however, human development requires that little people no longer sleep for long portions of the afternoon, and Child Protective Services frowns upon strapping them to the bed. This transition usually happens suddenly, when a mother has put her little angel in her bed with her baba after a morning of sing-alongs and refereeing who had the green ball first, just as she has for the last four hundred-plus afternoons. Except this time, instead of two uninterrupted hours of Bloggy Mommy Time, five minutes pass before a little voice peeps from behind my desk chair: “What doin’, Mama?” Then: “Baby ‘puter! Mine!”

Since Baby has a history of flipping the keys of the laptop, Bloggy Mommy Time is over. And since experience tells that once the Nap is gone, it’s gone for good. A mother is left to rearrange those pieces of pizza, which were never really enough to feed her soul anyway. But even crumbs can stave of starvation.

As this Yenta’s two-year blogging anniversary approaches (not mention an impending cross-country move in June,) posting may get spotty on certain days. But like any good Jewish mother, I’ll never be far from the kitchen.

Book Review: My One-Night Stand With Cancer

one night stand with cancerIf I saw Tania Katan right now, I’d give her a big sloppy kiss, which I hope her girlfriend wouldn’t take the wrong way. It’s just that I loved her book so much, y’know, being about cancer and boobs and Jews and all.

The odds — one in seven — have it that if you’ve got boobs or know someone with a set, it’s likely that you’re going to have to stare breast cancer in its mean, ugly face. If diagnosed, those beloved boobs will be subjected to a variety of evils, including — but by no means limited to — being poked, pricked, smushed between two plastic plates or horribly, removed. The body the boobs came with might have to endure poisoning in the forms of radiation and/or chemotherapy, hair loss (including eyebrows and eyelashes), lots of vomit and unfairly — after all that — possible death.

Breast cancer is way f*d up, yo. And so not funny. Yet somehow there are a helluva lot of laughs within the pages of “My One-Night Stand With Cancer,” a memoir chronicling Miz Katan’s diagnosis, her neurotic Jewish family, her psycho girlfriends, her treatment and her healing.

Katan, whose first confrontation with the Big C in 1992 at the age of 21 resulted in a mastectomy, wrote an award-winning play about her experience, “Stages,” that ran all over the country, including New York. She went on to pen more plays, live in San Francisco and enjoy life with one breast.

However, ten years later, just when life was starting to get boring being a starving writer, that bitch Cancer showed up again in her remaining boob. It had to go, too. It turns out that Tania is the carrier of the BRCA-1 gene, as are many women of Ashkenazic descent, which also means her ovaries have a 40 percent chance of “having a touch of the cancer” in her lifetime.

While this much bad news might make anyone else catch the express train to Prozactown, Tania has turned it into a pee-in-the-pants-hilarious account that still holds space for the gritty truth. The pacing reflects real talent; it takes a deft hand to keep jumping back and forth through the years (and boobs) to weave a cohesive story that resists self-pity but doesn’t fall into the cloying self-deprecation so many writers use to make a sad situation entertaining. Rather, a quiet spirituality emerges without a trace of preachery as the final chapters wind down; a reader would have to have polyester stuffing instead of a heart if there weren’t tears when love, chemo and performance art all coalesce.

The book’s last act of bravery is at once shocking and beautiful; see for yourself how a woman with no breasts can claim her strength and beauty while kicking ass.

(I have to offer up a disclaimer here: I went to high school with Tania, who was absolutely correct in describing our campus as an overwhelmingly Christian-jock-Heathers-type atmosphere. But I take umbrage at her book’s claim that she didn’t have friends. Girl, what was I to you, chopped f*n liver? All those years in Temple youth group making fun of Mormons ring a bell? Don’t you remember the time I made you drive us all over town on your moped chasing a spotlight that I was sure was some fantastic party but turned out to be a midnight madness sale at the Scottsdale La-Z-Boy furniture store? Also, I really appreciated it when you took me ’round the gay scene when I was in my questioning phase.)

Anyway. Even if you don’t know anyone with breast cancer (kinehora!), you’re not a lesbian and heck — even if you’re not Jewish — “My One-Night Stand With Cancer” is worth your time. Buy it!

P.S. Tania, I filed this under “Hippie Jews” ’cause I knew how much you’d like that. Lotsa love.

The Best Kinky Friedman Interview. Ever.

ajlMason Lerner’s cover story for Atlanta Jewish Life contains some gorgeous quotable gems for us Kinkophiles:

The walls are decorated with pictures of Jesus and Ghandi. Books and papers are splayed about his desk and shelves. There’s a plaque from the Jewish Defense League hanging over his desk with his name engraved on it.

‘What did you get that for?’ I ask.

‘I don’t know,’ Kinky replies. ‘You’d have to ask them.’


Kinky is not only the sole Jewish cowboy you’ll ever meet. He’s probably the only Jew you’ll ever meet that will tell you he has Jesus in his heart. “What I say is that I’m a Judeo-Christian,” he admits. “I have Jesus and Moses in my heart. They were both good Jewish boys who got in trouble with the government.”

Read the whole chinchilla; the Yenta tol’ you Kinky was serious ’bout grabbing the guv’ners seat.

More TV You’re Glad You’re Missing

evan and jaronEvan and Jaron Lowenstein, the pop duo who set off a butterfly effect caused by the fluttering eyelashes of Jewish girls everywhere with their cute fruminess way back in early 2000, are back to life, back to reality — reality TV, that is.

Unfortunately, the show, American Inventor, is by all accounts a crap rip-off of American Idol.

Their invention? The PitPort. A bowl that hides pits, like one of those ashtrays that hides stinky butts. Like, when you’ve got a bunch of Jews noshing on olives, or maybe dates, or even cherries if it’s summer, you’ve got this issue of where to spit the pits. And Evan and Jaron have solved this issue as a way to get their pretty punims back in the spotlight, because their last album failed to capture the hormonal urgings of those same Jewish girls, who have all moved on to Matisyahu.

“We’re gonna be famous again!” shouted Evan on the show.

Eww. I’d rather carry a hundred olive pits around in my underpants than watch these once-innocent boys whore themselves like this.

Jews In The Real World

svetlanaSvetlana, the sultry Russian party girl on MTV’s “The Real World, Season 17” (already? I haven’t had cable since the very first one when that dancer guy from Queens slept with the dancer girl from the Midwest and everyone was wearing Flashdance sweatshirts) has caught the eye of Nextbook’s Josh Lambert:

As the latest season of The Real World rolls out in Key West, Odessa-born Svetlana (“We’re not Russian, we’re Jewish,” she tells the camera) is the babe to watch. Sure, she’s got a boyfriend back home, but he’s several thousand miles away now and comes off as a meathead; the teasers for Tuesday’s episode suggest he’ll be out of the picture imminently. If that’s true, two of the roommates would be happy to replace him: John, the less-than-subtle frat boy who arrived with an inflatable woman under his arm, and Zack, the “Jew from Seattle,” who couldn’t be more of a mensch—that is, from a parent’s perspective: he doesn’t drink or smoke, his mother and father are his best friends, and he can count the number of times he’s had sex on the fingers of one hand. That might win him points on JDate, but this is MTV.

While the antics of the alcohol-steeped horndogs on these shows isn’t my cup of chai, I appreciate Lambert’s serious-but-never-stodgy approach to bed-hopping and Jewish love. Read the rest of his feature or (and!) see if Svetlana recognizes Zack’s delicious menschy goodness tonight. (I’ll be … reading. No commericals, y’know?)

‘Jewish’ Shakespeare Stands Out

jewish shakespeareThough the picture below is the one all of us with remedial high school English associate with the Bard, it’s this sexy top one that has been decided as the “prime contender for the exalted position of authentic lifetime portrait of William Shakespeare.”

That’s fancyspeak for this is what the dude really looked like. Probably.

However, a critic named J.H. Friswell, writing in 1864, disagreed:

“One cannot readily imagine our essentially English Shakespeare to have been a dark, heavy man, with a foreign expression, of decidedly Jewish physiognomy, thin curly hair, a somewhat lubricious mouth, red-edged eyes, wanton lips, with a coarse expression and his ears tricked out with earrings.”

droeshoutWell, Mr. Frizzy, as part of London’s National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition, “Searching for Shakespeare,” the hot, pierced Jewish-looking Shakespeare (also known as the Chandos portrait) beat out five other representations, including the ever-popular Droeshout engraving (heretofore to be referred to as the “Shaygetz Shakespeare.”)

Speaking of Shakesperean Jews, has anyone caught Al Pacino as “The Merchant of Venice” on DVD yet?

Watch Out For Those Semitic Semantics

got chutzpah?Bless this free country where we have eagle eyes like the Americablog, who spotted
this little nugget
on Media Matters’ transcript of the March 8 edition of American Family Radio’s American Family Report about homosexuality:

RUSTY BENSON: Yeah, I mean, this is — this is what you call — what? — chutzpah. This is — this is —

DONALD WILDMON: That’s a Jewish word, right? Be careful.

Given the context of the conversation, was Wildmon warning Benson that he should be careful because using — *ahem* — dem “Jewish” words might make him turn … gay?

I mean, I’m not really fluent in “Jewish,” maybe I should talk to one of them priests with the beanies?

In case you weren’t aware of the AFA’s tendency towards the anti-Semitic semantics, Americablog has kindly compiled a list of jewels.