Pass the Guilt

davidmametAre you a self-hating Jew? David Mamet would like to kick your ass.

In his new book The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews, Mamet has an interesting take on my favorite guilty pleasure, which is, of course, guilt:

“‘Jewish Guilt’ is not a side effect of being Jewish, but of being insufficiently Jewish. Buddhism will not cure it, self-help will not cure it, good works will not cure it, A Course in Miracles will not cure it — all of these, ranging from religion to nostrum, cannot eradicate the lapsed Jew’s sense of being lost. For he is lost.”

He could be right; nobody ever heard of Buddhist guilt, right? Personally, when I’m experiencing guilt I turn to a hot bowl of matzoh ball soup; it’s not a cure, but I’m telling ya, it will ameliorate the symptoms.

Elsewhere on the super-sufficiently Jewish Alan Dershowitz thinks Jimmy Carter’s an asshole.

The Definition of Schmeck?

Yo, Yenta Advice Reader Dave Reason (who admits to not being Jewish, but I have reason to believe may be Canadian) wants to know if I, of much useless linguistical knowledge, can help him with a wordsmithing challenge:

I have always used the expression “schmecks,” meaning “fits” or “works
for me.” For example, “I have been thinking about what to do on my
vacation, and the idea of going to Mexico schmecks.” A certain person here says there no such word or
expression, and gee, even the sainted Wikipedia seems to know nothing of
it. Have you ever heard of it?

Dave, I gotta say I never hoid of “schmeck,” though of course it sounds an awful lot like “schmuck,” so at first I was thinking “oy, this poor goy, he’s been telling people he wants to go act like a dickhead in Mexico.” But I put my researching skills (and picking through Google results is a skill, people) to work:

While there wasn’t an exact match on the Yiddish Dictionary, “shmek” translates into a “whiff,” as in “I opened the hamper and got a shmek of your socks; dude, use the Melaleuca foot spray already.” However, on the same search the YidDic lists “shmekele” as “little penis,” which isn’t the direction in which we’re wanting to travel, my mamaloshen-luvin’ mishpotechen.

I then found my way to Edna Staebler’s popular Mennonite cookbook
More Food That Really Schmecks
, leading to me to believe schmecks might be a synonym for “may cause a heart attack.” Tasty-lookin’ fare, but a little on the beige side for my taste, and not matching Dave’s usage.

Since Yiddish and German overlap linguistically at times, I thought to take a gander at the German permutations of “schmeck,” all of which have gastronomical connotations like “tasty,” “lip-smackin’,” and “that tastes like scheissdreck.”
In this context Miz Edna’s title makes sense, but fails even further to support Dave’s definition. contains an entry for “schmeck,” but I’m guessing it’s about as far from validating our friend Dave as one could get:

(n.) Gay motherfucker, frequently the object of affection of the men of Boston. Frequently plays with PuBEs. (There is no further clarification to be found on the term “PuBe;” perhaps my boys in Boston can elucidate?)

So Dave — sorry, man. All I came up with is penis whiff, tasty potato pie and bottoms from Beantown. But language is a fluid thing, always changing, some words dropping out of the lexicon from neglect and others gaining momentum. The future of “schmeck” is in your hands, friend — go make your definition official!

Smells Like Censorship, Mr. Foxman

abe foxmanY’all know I love the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman. He and his squadron of righteous folk are always just so on it when some dipshit celebrity slips an anti-Jewish slur into conversation or Nazi graffiti appears at the local junior high. I sleep better at night knowing that if anyone ever gives me or my family a single ounce of guff about being Jewish, I can sic the ADL on their asses (and if their strong words don’t work, there’s always the stronger methods of the JDL.)

But I have a bone to pick with Mr. Foxy. It seems he was instrumental in helping ban Valley of Wolves, a hideously violent Turkish film starring American actors that was supposed to screen in Los Angeles and San Francisco this week. Heavy on the anti-American and Jew-hating sentiments, the movie stars the always creepy Billy Zane as a crazy Christian soldier with a penchant for killing Iraqi civilians and the ever-disturbing Gary Busey as a Jewish doctor who’s running an organ farm out of Abu Ghraib.

Unlikely to cut into the profits of The Santa Clause 2. Probably nothing you or anyone you know would put on their Netflix list, although you can bet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s propping his feet up with a big bowl of popcorn just about now. Certainly not something you’d want to show a group of rabid skinheads jacked up on meth. But squashing its piddly three-theater release? C’mon, Abe! You have enough media savvy to know that making something verboten is to make it wildly attractive.

Remember the last time you came out against a film — that dumb little Jesus movie? Well, friend, it went on to become one of the biggest grossing films in history. Learn, Foxy, learn: If you don’t want anyone to see a film, send out one of your fabulous press releases about how though you may not agree with its message, you support the right of American citizens to see it.

Listen, I can’t even get it together to go see Borat, so you know I’d never find my way into a theater to see this piece of crap. But isn’t better to let people sit through it, be repulsed and at the very worst, have it become a jokey cult classic than to give it power by roiling up yet another ADL media storm? Be a clever fox, Abe — not the boy who cried wolf.

Speaking of Borat, the anticipation of LMAO really is killing me (I’m springing for a babysitter for El Yenta Man’s birthday next week) but this ouchy satire-on-satire column from the New Yorker has put some pucker in the chuckle.

*A large tenkyuberrymuch to JewishBlogmeister for the tip.

Like We Don’t Have Enough Problems

michael richardsSo are the Jews going to claim Kramer?

After Michael Richards’ self-destructing N-bomb tirade (you can’t appreciate its power until you see the video) landed him on the exclusive list of Celebrities Not Smart/Sober Enough To Keep Their Prejudices To Themselves, rumours abounded that he also liked to verbally abuse Jews.

Ridiculous, said his publicist. He can’t possibly be anti-Semitic, he’s Jewish, dontcha know!

Oh hell no he’s not, sayeth the Jewish Journal. Dude was born to a Catholic mother and eshews organized religion for the mysterious religion-like practices of Freemasonry.

K’, so he’s not officially Jewish, says the publicist. But he’d really like to be.

Very convenient, nu? Sorry, Mike — too little, too late, but maybe you and Jesse Jackson can get together for an apology tour through Himeytown?

New German Film Gives The Fuhrer The Treatment He Deserves

hitlerThe very first comedy about Hitler from Germany takes poetic license to its giddy hilt by exposing Adolf’s bed-wetting tendencies, drug addiction and predilection for dressing his pet in Nazi costumes.

Mein Fuhrer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler is a state-funded project and is based – um, just a little — on actual historical material. Swiss director and MOT Dani Levy doesn’t feel even a twinge of guilt for manipulating facts for his farce.

“I don’t want to give this cynical, psychological wreck of a person the honor of a realistic portrayal,” he says in an interview with The Washington Times. And while there are many who will never, ever find Hitler funny, Levy believes his film has value in its ability to show history’s most evil character for what he was. “Comedy is more subversive than tragedy. It can assert things that aren’t possible in an authentic, serious portrayal.”

The film has already caused tsuris last March when it transported Berlin’s Lustgarten square back to the swastika-waving times, but it looks like the Germans are finally ready to laugh at Hitler. ‘Course, some Jews have already been cracking Nazi jokes for years…

Snot Shot

netipotDuring the cold and flu season I’ve always sworn by my trusty neti pot to keep my sinuses clear. Yeah, it’s one of those weird hippie things one picks up living in California, but it works. Even El Yenta Man, a violent anti-hippie who gags at the first whiff of patchouli, can be seen over the sink every winter with water pouring from his nostrils.

For those of you still popping the Claritin, a neti pot is a small ceramic dish that resembles something one’s small daughter might abscond with to make a tea party for her teddy bears but is actually for the purpose of washing one’s nasal passages with warm salt water. Click here to read about the many health bennies of neti cleansing.

Neti pots come in a variety of porcelain and ceramic models, but leave it to a Jewish doctor to improve upon the basic variation of the model the yogis of India have used for millenia:

According to the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, Dr. Hana Solomon of Missouri has created a “new twist” on nasal cleansing with Nasopure, a soft blue bottle that comes with salt packets. It’s convenient and inexpensive with an angled neck and wide tip for comfort and cleanliness. Plus, it’s safe to take in the shower.

And it’s much less likely that you’ll find it filled with grape juice in the hands of stuffed animal when you need it.

Dem Viral Yids

Black-hatted breakdancer David Lavon broke out of the yeshiva and became a quite the sensation when his superhot “L’Cha” video hit broadband last year. (It disappeared from the Web for a bit, but it’s back on Jew- YouTube, albeit in compromised quality.)

I had never heard of Orthodox boy band The Chevra until Lavon lipsynched their single with such passion in his little movie, and I couldn’t get “L’Cha” outta my head for months. I don’t even know what the song means, and I’m sure I’ve completely butchered it while trying out some of his dance moves in the mirror (Note to Self: A 35 year-old with pom-poms is one of the definitions of ridiculous.) But now I know I’m not the only one who’s tried to emulate this Lavon’s iconic clip:

Here’s a group of frum girls who attempt to match their own “L’Cha” scene for scene — including an attempt at the tree flip and the supergeeky Matrix fight sequence — in honor of their roommate’s bridal shower. Go, girlz!

Hat tip to Jewtastic!

Spinning, Limping, Shopping

blaineMeshugeneh magician David Blaine added a stomach-twisting twist to his latest death-defying escape stunt: A shopping spree at Target.

After spending two days suspended 40 feet above Times Square in a gyroscope (one of those contraptions used on potential astronauts to gauge their vomit threshold), Blaine broke the ties that bound him and fell into a wooden stage. He walked away from the wreckage with a noticeable limp, but that didn’t stop him from fulfilling the next part of the caper by appearing this morning to accompany the lucky 100 kids who received $500 gift certificates from Target on this Mother of All Shopping Days.

I can understand the whole tzedakeh aspect — rather than the usual glory and adoration of his fans, Blaine’s wacko Houdini interpretations actually benefit someone other than himself. But somehow the corporate shilling is more nauseating that the stunt itself. Let’s see him pry off the association of the big red iconic symbol when he tries to recreate the illusion of “street magician” ever again…

Are Men Obsolete?

rachelsarahPerhaps only a woman raising a child on her own is qualified to answer that one.

Single Mom Seeking author and proudly unmarried Jewish mama Rachel Sarah responds on camera to a new study that shows a surge in out-of-wedlock births.

The reporter interviews a couple of other shlumpy moms who extol the importance of marriage to a child’s well-being, but Rachel ought to be the sassy single mother poster girl with her tall boots and confident grin. Girlfriend plays it calm and cool, and damn if I don’t kinda believe her not having a partner doesn’t mean not having a life.

‘Specially after having pulled off an entire Thanksgiving dinner — including pecan pie from scratch — for 11 all by myself.

femenorahAll you (four) regular readers know that the Yenta family relocated from California to Georgia this summer; what I have not revealed is that our stuff did not come with us. Yup, we’re still shnorring in the in-laws’ beach house out of the same suitcases with which we arrived, and now that the weather’s changed from hot n’ humid to chilly n’ windy, I sure wish I had more than an under-sized hoodie from Wet Seal and one pair of jeans.

What plagues me most is that my box of beloved Judiaca is still in storage. We’ve got a menorah for every member of the family (because it’s just not Chanukah unless it’s a really stellar fire hazard) somewhere in Boxland, but we’re either going to have to make a ghetto tinfoil dealio (um, or not) for this year’s Festival of Lights or make a purchase.

Enter the “Femenorah” by Notschlock, a hypnotically sparkly, yet pragmatic composition of PVC-pipe and Swarovski crystals. Designers Alyssa Zukas and Josh Korwin have rebelled against the hordes of hideous Judaica available, and “are trying to start a judaica revolution towards appealing and tasteful design for the Modern Jew.” And at $68, it’s a design within reach.

Match flick to Jewschool, who posted the Femenorah’s manly counterpart, the galvazined steel pipe Man-orah.