Archive for December, 2008

Youse Amuse Me

When I was seven, I watched the cartoon where the gangster was going to kill Bugs Bunny. Just before we was about to shoot Bugs, he said “I’d kill yas, but ya amuse me.” I’m sure something hit my subconscious at that point, because
ever since that moment, I became amusing to save my life. I decided that if anyone ever came in the house to kill me
(though it was more likely someone from inside the house would do the deed) I had to be amusing- or be killed.
It’s served me well over the years. And I not dead, so I must be amusing. Or I just haven’t met the gangster yet.


December 31, 2008 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

This Sucks Don’t Change the Channel

At a Christmas party, my husband and I found ourselves sitting at a table with people we met only an hour before. The discussion was far from muted-the addition of alcohol gave it that je ne sais quoi-but it really jacked up when I mentioned I was so bored on Christmas Eve, I watched Eddie and the Cruisers ll-Eddie Lives on Showtime. Immediately, four voices yelled  “I watched that, too!”

What followed was a long discussion interspersed with one of us singing or acting out scenes from the movie.

Eddie: I gotta to do my music my way this time!
Cut to: Eddie doing his new music the exact same way he did his old music.

Eddie and The Cruisers ll, Eddie Lives, (Tagline: The Legend. The Movie. The Man.) was the 1989 sequel to 1983’s Eddie and the Cruisers, (Tagline: Rebel. Rocker. Lover. Idol. Vanished.) a thinly disguised biography of Bruce Springsteen, complete with hardscrabble, dead-end New Jersey shore town. In the original, Eddie Wilson finds fame as a rocker, then disappears. ECll follows Eddie’s new life in Canada as the mysterious Joe West, a construction worker with a bad mustache and a band. The music, by Springsteen’s movie doppelganger, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, resulted in a top ten single “On The Dark Side.” The plots are predictable, the music derivative, and the acting pedestrian- not quite bad enough to be funny.

So why did five out of five of us at that table sit though the entire thing? My husband said he was compelled to watch it, and the rest of us agreed. Apparently we were not the only ones hypnotized by the film, as evidenced by this quote I found on from a ECll fan from Easton, PA.: This movie held me spellbound right up to the end.

WTF? The movie sucked, pure and simple. Eddie 20 years later isn’t even that cute, although he does have an artistic-loser quality I would have found attractive years ago. The chick was too stupid looking to be hot, and the guys in the band were idiots. His Jersey band looked vaguely ethnic in that “I could be Jewish or Italian” way, with an angry non-ethnic high-school dropout thrown in as a garnish. “Canada” consisted of an exterior shot of water and pine trees, and a log cabin for band practice.

But none of us-from the M.D. at the party, to the guy from Easton-couldn’t stop watching. I became so obsessed with Eddie that I came home that night, listened to “On the Dark Side” and a whole bunch of lesser Eddie songs on YouTube, Googled, Wikipedia’d and IMDB’d both movies, and even blogged about it. I’m still fixated.

Is it the spellbinding nature of ECll that kept us watching, or just the dead time between Christmas week and New Years’ when we don’t know what to do with all that time we say we want? We don’t milk cows, tell stories, or play pianoforte for the gathered guests, we watch TV. And those bastards at the premium channels know all too well that this is the one time of year we give a damn that Eddie Lives.

December 27, 2008 at 12:25 pm Leave a comment

Voted Most Popular Virtual Friend

When I was a kid I didn’t have many friends for a multitude of reasons-from having zero sports skills, which forced the teacher in my fifth grade class to assign me to a groaning softball team, to being so manic the school shrink wanted my mom to sign me up for a trial of an experimental drug for what was then called “Hyperkinetic Reaction,” to having the kind of family that was dysfunctional before the term existed, to the sentence invoked by my parents and punishable by shunning, for the crime of being Jewish in a non-Jewish neighborhood.

Which explains why I not only say “yes” to every friend request on Facebook, but go trolling for friends as if my survival depends on the days’ catch.

Facebook is presumably a more collegial version of Linked In or Plaxo, (that last which I mistook as a networking site for fellow hypochondriacs and a less annoying version of Twitter, which sounds like something you want to swat until it lies flat and lifeless on your kitchen counter.

But Facebook is as old fashioned as fruitcake and just as useless. Except to me and hundreds of thousands of other attention-starved childhood losers who really do want to know that right now Jim is changing his son’s diaper, or Kimberly is stranded at JFK because of an ice storm.

I started with friends-real friends-people I know and would actually pick up the phone to talk to. Then I moved on to acquaintances-those I met once or twice somewhere at some convention or something. Then things really began to deteriorate. I would not only accept anyone who was thrown my way by friends of friends, but I actively searched for people who I may have heard of, or who were friends of friends of friends-or even complete strangers who had nice pictures and decent-sounding names.

Once I broke my Facebook cherry, I quickly deteriorated into slutdom. Someone asked-no matter how dorky or fat or dumb or hillbilly- and I confirmed them.

One day, it was there. A friend request from Tom Petty. Not Tom L. Petty from Chattanooga who works for the Tennessee Valley Authority, but the Tom Petty. I thought he really wanted to be friends with me because he read my profile and thought I was cool. Tom Petty picked me for his softball team! My shaking hand grabbed the mouse and left-clicked “confirm”. “Dave-I’m friends with Tom Petty!” I screamed into the next room.

“God, are you naive,” he said. “Tom didn’t ask you. His 17-year-old web nerd did.”

Wow. What a heartsink. But not enough to keep confirming total strangers and pathetically searching for “friends.”

One day, this hyperkinetic Jew with no spacial acuity, no hand-eye coordination, congenital clumsiness, and positional dyslexia (a fancy term for being too dumb to figure out left from right,) will be the first one picked for the intrepid Facebook team. Put me in, social networking coach, I’m ready to play, today.

December 24, 2008 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

I Feel Like Crap Today, Thanks for Asking!

Sometimes, despite our best efforts to the contrary, our day just sucks. Nothing in particular brings about such a day-it’s not cloudy, no one died, we still have a job, we didn’t spend two hours on the phone to trying to deal with a package promised but never delivered-we just feel bad. And once we realize we feel bad for no particular reason, we feel bad about feeling bad for nothing.

After all, horrible days must go with horrible events, right? And having a horrible day for nothing is a cause for alarm-time for all those self-help books, and sayings on posters of eagles flying, to kick in with some memorable phrase that will yank us up, dust us off, and get us on with our day. That is, until something we’ve programmed ourselves to think is really worthy of being bummed out comes along.

But why can’t feeling depressed be a luxury-sort of a soul spa where we can stop pretending that we’re happy just to be alive?

A slovenly day when we toss whatever is holding us together on the floor and don’t pick it up? A day when we can actually indulge in the inherent shitiness of life when it comes our way?

Thinking about it makes me feel better already.

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica-a great place to throw rocks when you want to feel good about feeling bad.

December 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Merry Whatever-You-Heathens-Celebrate

I’m probably the only Jew you’ll ever meet who knows the words to O Come All Ye Faithful in Latin. Don’t believe me? Adeste Fideles Laeti triumphantes… I learned it in school back in the day when December meant Christmas. Christmas pageants. Christmas songs. Christmas break. Christmas parties. Christmas Cookies. Christmas gifts. Jesus was coming to my school and I didn’t even bat an eye.

I never would have gotten to know Jesus so intimately had my parents decided to stay in the comfortable shtetl of East Orange, New Jersey, where we Yids lived a comfortable distance from them-the gentiles. Eaters of cheap bologna and mandarin orange slices with mini-marshmallows and mayonnaise, pink people rarely crossed my path.

But mom and dad selfishly lit out for fresh air and enemy territory-rural Warren Township, New Jersey, where I never had a seatmate on the school bus, and our cars were spray-painted with swastikas. Where the lit menorah in our front window served as target practice for BB guns. Where I  perpetually suffered from cooties and the sin of killing Jesus. Where my mother told me to respond to kids who tried me on the spot by responding “Jesus was Jewish,” and hearing “but he didn’t want to be” echoed back. Jesus was not my friend-he wasn’t even my acquaintance-so why couldn’t he leave me alone?

As I got older, traveling all over and living across the country, my hatred for Jesus came along with me. It intensified every December to the point where any kind of Christmas decoration, or even a whiff of pine, would send me into a tsunami of anger. Most intolerable of all, was when a stranger wished me “Merry Christmas!”

“I don’t celebrate Christmas! I snarled, staring down the offender until she turned away.

Outsiders attempts to acknowledge my existence as a non-gentile were met with even more bile. Whenever I spied a Happy Chanukah To Our Jewish Friends sign in a store, I vowed never to shop there again. It seemed like nothing more than anti-semitism cloaked in ecumenicalism-us vs. them with them making sure they weren’t mistaken for us.

I’ve mellowed out in the last few years and no longer think that anyone who’s wishing me a Merry Christmas is a Jew-hater. In hindsight, yelling at someone who was just trying to be pleasant was an asinine thing to do. Why the shift? Maybe I’ve come to realize that intolerance rarely hides in the voice of one human being wishing another something good. Maybe I want to save my anger for those who deserve it. Maybe I’ve moved on to another persecution obsession.

But I still beware of gentiles bearing dreidels.

December 18, 2008 at 5:57 pm Leave a comment

When I was in high school, one of my favorite stoned conversation topics was space. As in big, black and outer. In an altered state, I tried my best to get my head around “what was beyond space but more space but didn’t space have to end at some point but if it ended where was the space that came beyond the space of space and if it kept going forever, how would anyone know if they’ve never been there” but the answer always failed to approach whatever orbit I was in at the time.

Now older and THC-less, I find myself suffering through a similar existential quandary involving cyberspace. Where the hell does all the crap go? Galaxies upon galaxies of failed dotcoms, abandoned web businesses, family photo albums, that email that told me I won the UK National Lottery-are they still hanging out on some celestial server, waiting to come around in 100 years and explode like a Supernova? Will groups of people in purple robes pray for the day when Web 1.0 will return and we’ll all go back to Usenet? Have all the newsgroup posts I typed in ’87 on that newfangled keyboard thing from my 20MB DOS-accessed computer co-mingled with last weeks’ online health insurance application in a black data hole?

I’m starting to getting creepy images of the movie Pleasantville.

Some say it started with the Big Bang for your Buck Theory– the idea that cyber-commerce exploded and the world began.

I just hope that all that cybercrap won’t lead to the dreaded Greenlaptop Effect– the cloying of the earth caused by too many Dell computers.

Now I know why I want to throttle the neo-pixie that sings “I am green today.”

December 15, 2008 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

A Quilt for Women Who Don’t Sew

I decided to start a “Women Who Would Never Join a Women’s Group.” group. Something that would mix n’ match the balls of the suffragette movement, the acerbic wit of the Algonquin round table, the unshaven salad days of the women’s lib movement, the practicality of high school secretarial clubs, the one-dimensional camaraderie of Tupperware and sex toy parties, the retro pragmatism of group baking, the reading is FUN-dimensional chick-lit book clubs, the ceiling-banging execu-broad networking groups, the spirituality of a woman’s sangha, the capitalism of a women’s investment club, the controlled creativity of a women’s chorus, the hedonism of chicks who meet for happy hour, the deep discussions of a women’s hiking club where someone just happens to have a joint, woman’s improv theater, the endless self-analysis of “women’s issues” groups, women’s’ recovery groups, groups of chicks without a shred of drug, sexual or other kind of impulse control, women who journal, women who want to journal but don’t, women who retch at the thought or journaling, and those two chicks who used to do comedy routines using their breasts as puppets.

The kind of group that everyone from that woman you see in Smithsonian pointing to strands of DNA, to wonkettes, rock grrrllls, addicts, bloggers, vloggers, YouTube-ers, podcasters, Jitterbug users, Calvinists, techo-phobes, compulsive networkers, introverts, PHD’s, GED’s, stay-at-home-moms, stay-at-home blobs, and my husband’s favorite bartender at Sam’s could join. A little Rusty Warren, a little Oprah. A little Tina Fey, A little Delilah. A little Hillary, a little Britney.

Hell, with enough party favors from all decades, we’d be able to get along-maybe even forge the kind of fun and truly life-changing ideas that a homogeneous group never could. And I bet guys would would be falling all over themselves for an invite to our holiday bacchanal.

December 13, 2008 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

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Roberta Gale

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