Archive for December, 2008

The New Year

Posted in Me on December 30, 2008 by frumpunk

moreoptimismI do intend to be more optimistic, but then I get pessimistic about my ability to be an optimist. The glass isn’t half full, the water to glass ratio is just skewed.

It’s Funny How We Don’t Talk Anymore

Posted in blogs, Facebook on December 30, 2008 by frumpunk


I’ll Do Your Meme… This Time

Posted in Me on December 29, 2008 by frumpunk

Now that I’ve been tagged by three separate people I’ll give in and do the meme.

First one is:

“Here are the rules: reach for the nearest book and write the 5th sentence, plus the next two to five, on page 56.” (I already did this on Facebook though).

“Whoever thought you’d read: “No famine in Ethiopia”? Now the bad news. That doesn’t mean they’re not starving. Hardly anyones got the cash for a mouldy banana.” That’s from ‘AA Gill is away’ by AA Gill.

Now I’m meant to do seven facts about myself. Which is difficult, because I don’t like talking about myself.

1) In 12th grade, I was able to recite almost every line of dialogue from ‘The Matrix’ by heart. I lost track of how many times I’ve seen it years ago.

2) I have at least fifty t-shirts. (Just counted forty just on my shelf.)

3) One of the most impressive things a Rebbe ever said to me was this time in 9th grade when I spent recess explaining the plot of a certain video game and book series to a friend who was getting into it. I spent twenty minutes going through all these intricate plot and character details. When I finished I turned around and saw that the Rebbe had been listening to me the whole time. He said “so how come you can remember all that, but you have trouble with a daf gemora?”

4) Only about half the blog posts I think of ever get written, due to a combination of time, laziness, content concerns, and the fact that I have my best ideas on Friday night, which are usually lost to the ether by havdalah.

5) Cats love me.

6) My favorite childhood move was Aladdin.

7) I once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you want to do it, tell ’em I sent you.

Reviews You Can Use: The KosherClock

Posted in Frum, Me, Reviews on December 23, 2008 by frumpunk

‘Tis the season to get things for free, or give out lots of things, depending what side of the fence you’re on. For the sake of the public good, I’m going to review things people give me. You’re welcome.

Gift number one is the KosherClock, from the people who brought you the Shabbos Lamp (slogan: “One great idea, loads of ridiculous ones”). It’s difficult for me to own a KosherClock, because I made fun of it when it came out. A cheap travel alarm clock, re-branded as “kosher” and overpriced? But here it is, so onwards with the review:

The design is simple. A Chinese made molded plastic clock, with a hinge connecting a picture frame. Speaker on the back, a side switch changes the ring sound from mute, to message (more on that in a bit) to a buzzer. The picture frame comes with a picture of a little frum boy, who judging from his body posture and expression, really needs to pee, or just has a stomacheache. I haven’t yet figured out how to change the picture. Looks like you have to pry the inner frame out with a screwdriver or something. Just as well, because I don’t have a picture of anyone to put in. I guess I’ll just keep the little boy, and use it to remind myself to pee when I wake up.

The clock comes with a prerecorded message that you can change. The message is thirty seconds of what I think is music. It sounds like when you try to record a song from the radio by pressing record on your phone, then trying to play it back through a dead rabbit inside a garbage can, only worse fidelity. And its at an ear-splitting volume. Did I mention there’s no volume button? The puny speaker sounds like its screaming for mercy everytime I hit play. The music itself sounds like the middle part of any random Jewish song. I’d change it, but like the picture of the little boy, I don’t have anything to change it to. The box suggests “It’s Monday Abba, time for early minyan” but if I woke up to that, I’d be more concerned when I became a father than making it to early minyan.

The big selling point of the clock is that it has five, count ’em, five alarms. Unfortunately, I don’t really lead an existence that involves going to sleep four times during the day between getting up in the morning and bedtime. The ring turns off after one minute, which is the selling point of it being a Shabbos clock. Which begs the question, why didn’t they call it the “ShabbosClock”? KosherClock to me seems to imply that pedestrian alarm clocks are somehow treif.

It’s a nice gift, and for those of you needing a clock with multiple alarms and an incontinent little boy, I highly recommend it.

The Gift Guide

Posted in Funny?, Yom Tov on December 21, 2008 by frumpunk

I won’t bore you with a verbose introduction. Here’s my pick of stuff that is awesome, practical and not boring.

Radioactive Uranium Marbles

A full write up can be found here. Radiation is fun. Every man, and most will never admit this even to themselves, hopes to someday get irradiated in just the right way so he ends up with superpowers instead of cancer. These marbles are filled with enough uranium to set off a Geiger counter and will glow under UV light. But it’s safely concealed in glass, so you can hold the power of possible mutation safely. Plus, marbles are the classic kosher game, so these even work as gifts for chassidishe kids!

Donald Trump Wig

For the hocker in your life. Any hocker worth his Acura would admit that The Donald is essentially their role model. Professionally, you have to always seem to be involved in real estate deals while nothing seems to ever really happen. Success is 99% about having the appearance of being important. As these guys hit their late twenties and thirties they tend to go balder than the average male Jew, probably due to the stress of keeping up appearances and flipping car loans to be able to have the newest Acura or Lexus. Allow these aging heroes to maintain their self-respect with a Donald Trump hairpiece. If that hair helped The Donald build New York, imagine what it can do for Chezky (Charlie).

A T-Shirt

Clothing? On this list? Well this isn’t a pair of socks. Get your loved ones something that can express how they’d imagine they’d present their personality as written by an underpaid lemming at a tshirt pressing plant. Or sewing. I don’t claim to know how they make tshirts.

For the stoner otd roomate: You know these guys, they’re either students or low wage workers, just making enough money to buy more chronic. Probably otd, they love Shabbos because they can spend the day smoking without having to worry about work. And if you get the munchies, nothing like cholent. “I Don’t Roll On Shabbos” gets them to reference The Big Lebowski, which they love, its bascially an unwritten rule for their type, along with their love of the green and a quick mussar reminder than maybe use Shabbos as a day of rest and increased intellectual activity beyond Futurama while baked?

For the chasidish rocker: These guys are solid chassidim, but they hide a little of the headbanging spirit. If you look under the seat of their 1995 Chevy station wagon you’re sure to find a few G’n’R tapes, maybe some AC/DC, maybe even some Metallica? When these guys give it up they listen to Metallish to get their fill. While they could never wear a tshirt in public, this probably works great under a wool tallis and white shirt, allowing them to keep the spirit close to heart while maintaining appearances.

Bacon Flavored Coffee

I’m mostly including this because I just read the post on “The Treifa Dilemma” by Frum Satire. This coffee is, in the words of its makers “Reminiscent of a hearty Saturday morning breakfast around the table”. Presumably that breakfast includes bacon and maybe maple syrup. So find out what it’s like to eat bacon while getting your morning caffeine buzz! I can’t imagine a stupider sounding flavor! Seriously, a meat flavored drink? Disclaimer: May not be kosher.

Ninja Throwing Star Magnets

Every guy loves Japanese weaponry. Give any guy a cheap “samurai” sword to hold, and he’ll get a look in his eye like he belongs in Tekken. These magnets pretty much give the appearance of being a throwing star stuck in a (metal) surface. Keep em on the cholent pot. Tell guests you like to cut the meat when it’s already inside the pot. Adds to the flavor.

A Foot Powered Laptop Charger

This might be the only thing on the list that’s both practical and awesome. Using your foot to pump a lever that generates energy to charge your laptop. It gives you the ability to keep blogging without being near an outlet while also providing some exercise to people who sit at their laptop all day. Constant reps on this could probably get you decent calves after a while. See the demonstration here. It will apparently charge any electronics, including cameras and iPods. Just a matter of having the right plug.

A Solid Gold Throne

I see this as simply the ultimate pesach chair. The head of the house is supposed to be the king on his throne. So what do you do? You probably load some old pillows on it to make it seem plusher. Maybe you drag over the La-Z-Boy for him. But do you think real kings sat on plush chairs? No, their chairs were uncomfortable and hard. Because they were made of solid gold, and you didn’t put cushions over them, because then you have less gold visible. This solid gold beauty costs $3000. And isn’t it worth it for yom tov?

The iPosture

I’m kinda seeing this one for the shidduch girls crowd. They all have iPods anyway, and if you ask any yenta, they’ll tell you the reason these girls aren’t married is due to thier poor posture, gained from years of sleeping hunched over those school desks at Beis Yaakov. I’m not totally certain how it works, but these girls are desperate enough to try anything. The fact that it’s an iPod accessory is just a bonus.


Posted in Facebook, Girls, Shidduchim on December 18, 2008 by frumpunk

Facebook is the single greatest shidduch tool since the invention of the yenta.

It allows people to find out for sure who’s single without the old embarrassing system of having to ask. It allows singles to network, organize events and meet other singles through groups. And when you do get hitched, Facebook is the first place most people will hear of it. Now that most people have internet on their phones, you can change your relationship status seconds after the proposal. Eg: “Ohmigosh! yes!” “Hang on a sec, I just have to change my status”. A relationship isn’t official until you can link your Facebook with someone elses.

It allows you to get a sneak peek. Everyone, whether you admit it or not, as soon as you have name being bandied around for you, you go to search their name, squinting at tiny pics, wondering if messaging them before the phone call would be too awkward, just so you can see a normal size picture. You try the workarounds, changing your network to theirs in the hopes that they won’t have “friends only” privacy settings on, so you can check out their favorite quotes and movies. It’s a great way to plan conversations, drop the name of movie she has listed for an instant connection. “…You Got Served changed my life…”

It allows you to respond to news of an engagement without having to find their number and call them yourself. After all, you’re not really such close friends that a phone call is expected. And personally, I’m just glad I live in a world where I can respond to an engagement with “lol” and noone bats an eyelash.

Chanukah Kicks Tuchus

Posted in Chanukah, Purim, Yom Tov on December 18, 2008 by frumpunk

Chanukah is the single greatest yom tov we have. And not just because it gave me a reason to use the word “tuchus” in a title.

Finally, we have a yom tov that doesn’t involve massive amounts of over-consumption. It doesn’t stop us from driving, using the computer or (G-D forbid), Facebooking. It doesn’t involve any whining, for once we came out the victors. Its the “tough-Jew” holiday, the perennial favorite of the JDF and Kahanists.

But what about Purim, you ask? I’m not a fan of Purim. If you’re one of the few people still around from when I began, you’ll remember that one of my first posts was how I don’t like Purim. Drunk people and fifteen year olds peeing in the streets do nothing for me, especially when I had to explain to a local Irish family why the kids from the Yeshiva near them in their small town were kicking fences and peeing. They were just watching like it was the best show in ages, which considering where they lived, might have been true.

But back to Chanukah, it makes no heavy demands on you, it’s basically an after school/work yom tov. You get to eat chocolate money and eat latkes. Everyone has an excuse to eat doughnuts. I actually feel odd if I eat a jelly doughnut during the year, because it’s so tied in with chanukah to me.

Just a few gripes: We need new songs. Even Y-Love and Erran Cohens take does little to really spice it up for me anymore. Where’s the chanukah equivalent of “White Christmas”? Is it maybe because its so hard to rhyme “chanukah”? Next; We need a mascot. Chanukah Chaim is just a cheap imitation of Santa. How about a new story for the kids? Yehuda Maccabi comes out of the oil and gives jelly doughnuts too all the erlich boys and girls? Decorations. I can’t stand the fact that Jewish houses look so dull while “goyish” but we all do that as well. On that note, this might be just my family, but does anyone else decorate the succah with Christmas fairy lights and stuff?

Bush Vindicated; Claims Iraq Had Shoes All Along

Posted in Funny?, Politics on December 16, 2008 by frumpunk

President Bush last night claimed his decision to invade Iraq had been vindicated after US troops uncovered an arsenal of shoes on the outskirts of Fallujah.

More than 400 lethal shoes including sandals, pumps, desert boots and a solitary brogue were revealed as Mr Bush paid a final visit to Iraq to see if there was anything left. A White House spokesman immediately dismissed claims the US invasion had been based on Saddam Hussein’s alleged stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, adding: “No we didn’t, we said shoes.” “We did and if you heard weapons of mass destruction, that’s your problem. You might want to try using a Q-Tip. “The spokesman added: “We believe that many of these shoes would have been built in China with Russian laces, French-made heels and odor-absorbing insoles purchased through back channels via the west African state of Niger.”

British Prime minister Gordon Brown backed Mr Bush insisting many of Iraq’s shoes were slip-ons that could activated in less than 45 minutes. But France denied supplying Iraq with shoe components insisting its only exports to Saddam’s regime had been a 1994 shipment of humanitarian espadrilles.

Meanwhile the Kremlin said most of Iraq’s shoes had actually been bought from ex-US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he worked for Hush Puppies in the early 1980s.

For those of you who haven’t seen the video yet:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Bush Vindicated; Claims Iraq Had Shoe…“, posted with vodpod

Introducing The KPhone

Posted in Frum, Funny?, Girls, Heimish, Politics on December 14, 2008 by frumpunk

The lowly phone has made great strides in the past decade or so. What used to be able to double as a murder weapon in a game of Clue has become a complete media device that does everything but make calls and is small enough to choke a goldfish. But the problem with phones, as we know is that they’re trief. Everything about them is trief. The phone feature allows boys and girls to talk to each other, the text message feature is even more insidious, allowing boys and girls to write (badly) to each other, the camera allows boys to take pictures of girls, the alarm clock allows boys to wake up to go see girls, the calculator allows boys to work out how much money they need to take a girl out (this is also the reason bochrim aren’t taught math. The phone destroys all that hard work). I could go on. And I will; the wallpaper allows the boys to set the picture of the girl to look at constantly, the FM radio (only with added headset usually) allows boys to listen to girls sing, the world clock allows boys to figure out the optimal time to call girls who live far away, and internet allows people to visit this blog.

Previous attempts at a kosher phone have only been met half way. They did not include a camera, text messaging or color screen, but they did allow boys and girls to talk to each other. But now the next generation of technological advances has brought us the KPhone, the result of four years labor by the most hemish scientists at the Institute for Advanced Heimishness. I was given one of the first production models to try out. At first glance it seems to be the answer to everything. It is well constructed, the aluminum seems durable and fashionable. An attempt to type a text message on its smooth rounded surface yielded no results. It requires no batteries and does not require a cell phone tower to receive a signal. I made a call and was surprised at the overall fidelity and signal cleanliness. It has no camera or radio option, and internet is out of the question. This truly seems like an excellent device.

Some gripes though; the string, while giving excellent audio fidelity is not really long enough to facilitate long distance calls abroad, so calling Israel or Canada from it seems to be out of the question. Secondly, if your call is lasting a long time, it gets tiring holding the headset to your ear. This problem is exacerbated if the headset previously held pickles or garlic, as this can leave a lingering odor. I was later informed that this was actually a feature, part of a method to keep the sexes apart using a new trial of unattractive smells. Also, if the headset edge wasn’t fully rounded off by the can opener, you may experience some cutting and bleeding around the ear and head area. Bulkiness is also an issue. Due to the lack of wireless, you are required to keep both headsets with you at all times, as well as keeping the person you wish to call close to you.

Overall, its an excellent first attempt and I look forward to the second revision, which I’m told may include a third string and headset to allow three way calling.

Hat tip to Mikeinmidwood for the inspiration. This started life as a mere comment on his post.

If You Can’t, Don’t

Posted in Rants, Weddings on December 14, 2008 by frumpunk

In Shul after mincha I saw a flyer that read like a modern piyut from Tishe B’av. A man telling how his life has been a living hell and now it’s his daughters wedding and it’s all he’s ever dreamed about, but he can’t afford it. He’ll be available for donations at the house of a prominant member of the community. In a local flyer I saw another solicitation for four separate couples, all of whom can’t afford the cost of their weddings.

And while I have all the sympathy in the world, I can’t understand what the cost of a wedding is. I understand the cost of making a wedding. I’ve been to enough lavish weddings, and worked at even more to know the costs can run into the hundreds of thousands. But if you can’t afford it, don’t. There’s no halacha to have a wedding dress, flowers, a hall, a full three course meal, a band, etc. All of these are things that make a wedding special and joyous, but if you can’t afford them why are you trying to? In the halachic sense, you just need something worth a perutah and a bride and groom. The chosson gives her the object and says “harey as mekudeshes li” and biblically, you’re married! Add to that a kesubah and two kosher eidim and there’s no disputing that fact.

I understand the emotions and the want to have a wedding the couple will remember. But even if you are soliciting money for a wedding, don’t make the wedding. If they’re so poor, give them the money to put a down payment on an apartment or other basic marital necessities. Blowing it on a one day party that will live only in photographs and cheesily recorded video is ludicrous.

There’s more wedding insanity that I’ve heard about recently, including the idea of renting a van to bring bochrim that I’d like to talk about, but that’s enough for discussion for now.

But then, maybe I’m just too emotionally detached from this? The glare of cold hard logic ruins my understanding of simchas and the finances involved?