Archive for January, 2009

Frum Satire Is Now Heshy Fried

Posted in blogs on January 30, 2009 by frumpunk

If you haven’t heard (and where have you been?) Frum Satires facebook account was closed and he’s now fully under his real name, Heshy Fried. Like many others, I’ve been asked to pass it along as he’s concerned about the drop in readers since 8% of his hits were through facebook. How does he even calculate that? Anyways, go ahead and add him. And add me, while you’re at it. What am I doing wrong? I have 98 facebook friends from the blog! Thats about a third of the hits I get in a day.

In related news, Frum Punk is now Chaim Tyrone McJewberg.

The Revolving Door

Posted in blogs on January 28, 2009 by frumpunk

There’s two major blog subjects that I’m seeing more often these days. First is “I was raised frum, but I’m abandoning that lifestyle and here’s my blog about it“.

On the other side, we have “I’m converting to Judaism, Yay!

Population replacement? Not quite, but it should hopefully sort out some of those genetic bottlenecks. To be fair, the “off the derech” blog theme is probably one of the oldest Jewish blog types, but there’s a wave of newer ones along the old standards. Worst thing is, all the catchy names are taken.

Living In Lucid Dreams

Posted in Me on January 28, 2009 by frumpunk

Sleep is when most of us have our best ideas. Do you know how many great films, songs and works of art are built on visions and stories from the authors dreams? Usually most of us don’t remember our dreams beyond the first minute after waking up, which is a pity. I read recently that some great authors used to keep a pen and paper by their bed to write down their dreams when they woke up in order to keep the ideas and stories they’d invented during the night. I decided to do the same thing.

Monday night I had the most amazing dream. It would have made a fantastic short story, I lived the whole plot during the night. As soon as I woke up I wrote everything down, or tried to. I kept the dream in my head but kept getting interrupted by stupid things. Eventually, I managed to get every idea down, and went back to sleep feeling proud of myself. Then I woke up and realized I’d just had a dream about writing down my dream. It was so vivid too, but all I can remember is how great the first dream was with no details. I have a perfect memory of the second dream though. This kind of irony is the story of my life. I’ve done more mundane things in dreams than in my waking time. In seventh grade my mom would wake me up for carpool at 6.45am, I would then get up, brush my teeth, take a shower, and get dressed, only to be woken up by my mother when the car was beeping outside. I remember dreams about getting dressed in the morning and writing down other dreams, but the dreams that could make my fortune as a writer are lost to the ether.

Here’s an interesting fact: the random strangers and characters that inhabit your dreams are made up of the faces you see every day. All the random people you pass in the street, you don’t register them on any level, but your subconscious does and uses those faces when you dream, because it doesn’t have the ability to create faces that you’ve never seen before.

A Chossid, A Mikvah and the P-Word

Posted in Frum, Heimish, Me, Yom Tov on January 18, 2009 by frumpunk

I’ve been helping out for a few days in a small kosher business, basically just me and a fifty something Gerrer chossid. It was my turn to wash up, but that water was too hot for me (I don’t like hot water, seriously, I take lukewarm showers). Someone else mentioned how he likes to start the day with a scalding hot bath. The chossid nods and says, (heavy yiddish accent) yeah, I like to start the day right in a hot mikvah. I joked at the differences between us, we take baths, while he takes a mikvah. I then mention that I don’t like going to mikvos. And why not? You’re a yid, you go to the mikvah. But I don’t like going to the mikvah I tell him, for one it’s gross. Nu, you go early in the morning before anyone and the water’s clean. Isn’t it the same water from the day before? A mikvah is rainwater and it doesn’t rain enough to replenish the mikvah everyday. Nu, its clean water every day.” He couldn’t explain how though.

He’s basically insisting that a mikvah is a requirement for a frum yid. I play along, and ask him if Moshe Rabbeinu went to the mikvah. Of course he did. There were mikvas in the desert? Nu, obviously. But it’s a desert. Where was the mikvah in a desert?

I then ask him if Moshe was a chossid or litvish. He thinks for a moment, and decides Moshe must have been a chossid. I ask him if Moshe was Ashkanazi or Sephardi. He didn’t have to think about that one, and says Moshe was Ashkenazi. I could have gone into the genetics and history of that one, but what’s the point?

Now, you’re in for a treat. I’m going to explain what I didn’t want to explain to him, why I don’t like the mikvah. And I’m going to have to use a word that is almost never used on a J-Blog. Penis. I’m setting a new standard here, and probably assuring that nothing I write will ever get reprinted in The Jewish Press. May as well say it again. Penis. My aversion to mikvos started from the very first time I went to one. I was about nine, I think. And my dad took me with him on erev Rosh Hashonah. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the sight of every adult male in the neighborhood naked, just chilling. I remember this next bit very clearly. I found a closet to change in, and wrapped myself in my towel because I just wasn’t feeling as carefree as everyone else seemed to be. I stepped out of the closet, with my modesty intact, only to discover that someone had decided to change right outside the door. Now I was a short kid, so I stepped out that closet only to be greeted by Reb Happyowitz’s Mister Happy dangling at eye level.

It was years before I went to a mikvah again. I was in high school, and feeling all pumped full of frumkeit for the new year I decided to go to the mikvah on another fateful erev yom tov. Nothing quite as traumatic as what happened all those years before, but as I came out of the mikavh, I noted that while I was supposed to be spiritually clean, it was hard to focus on that while picking other peoples pubic hair off my shoulder. I then glanced back into the murky green water and noted with horror the sheer amount of shedding that appeared to have taken place by everyone before me. I decided no amount of spiritual cleansing was worth the amount of physical cleansing I would have to do afterwards.

Outtatownin Aint Easy

Posted in blogs, Me, New York on January 15, 2009 by frumpunk

As Kermit so nearly said, it’s not easy being from out-of-town. Everyones from New York, or as Moshe said when he friended me on Facebook: “You’re not from NY? I thought everyone was from New York?”

See, I was reading some blogs tonight, as is my want, and I started taking note of the content for once, instead of doing what I normally do and I assume I know what they’re talking about after reading the first few words then skipping to the end to leave a comment on how they’re wrong. And I realized how easy everyone has it. Everyone but me can blog about something that takes no effort. They can rant about Glatt Mart, or chassidim, or, I dunno, something else Brooklyn related or whatever. That’s the point, everything in New York, and even more-so in Jewish New York is bloggable. Brooklyn is a bloggers paradise! Remember when I was there for a week? I was blogging every day! You can go out for pizza and come back with blog material. You can blog about people, the food, the newspapers, the politics. Then you can blog about places afar and compare them to New York. Because as Frank Sinatra so nearly sang, it’s New. Bloody. York.

And I just don’t have that. I don’t have these Jewish social issues to blog about much. When I do, it’s normally because of something I read on a New Yorkers blog and it seemed odd to me. My blogging takes effort. I have to blog on something personal, or interesting, or I just try to be humorous. I can’t write something about a rude yeshiva guy on the subway, because we don’t have a subway, we have a train, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen another Jew on it at the same time as me. And noones ever been rude to me on it anyway.

Point is, I feel completely lost when Jewish issues get blogged on. I get envious when Frum Satire blogs about kiddushes. This wonderful place where the average shul kiddush involves more than cake, bisseli and crackers? Can it really exist. Weddings sound ridiculously over the top to me. I remember when I went to my first Brooklyn wedding, and it was ridiculously over the top. There was something in the realm of five different rooms, each with a different food group, replenished all night.

I’m going to end this post before it turns into a rant and rave about Brooklyn. But first, let me just insult you all for a minute, and probably lose all my readers: your accents. Speech patterns. Slang. What the h-e-double hockey stick? Not everyone sounds like it, but the stereotypical New York accent grates on me. That whiny stereotypical Brooklyn accent… why does it exist? My voice isn’t a musical symphony, but there’s something about New York accents from many strata’s that assaults the eardrum. From the Jewish Brooklyn to the buzzsaw Italian, it doesn’t work for me. I reached this epiphany last Shabbos while walking home with someone. We were discussing American girls, and I said, and he agreed, that the worst thing for me about raising my kids in New York would be to have kids who sound like New Yorkers.

You all hate me now, don’t you?

The Baby Writes

Posted in Me on January 12, 2009 by frumpunk

(I don’t usually get personal but I wanted to write this and what’s the point of having a blog if you don’t get to indulge yourself once in a while?)

My family moved house about six months ago and we’ve only just recently gotten all the furniture and shelves needed to store things, so we’ve been bringing boxes out of storage. Naturally, this means we’re finding random things that noone even knew we had, such as a letter written by me and my brothers that was probably written when I was eleven or so apologizing for being bad (doesn’t say what our crime was though) to our parents. It’s a terrible thing to read, because all I see is my spelling and grammar mistakes (“were sorry we shuldnt have been bad”) What was I thinking!?

I’ve found some awesome stuff too, mostly in the form of old photo albums. I love looking at old photos, a glimpse into the past, seeing how people were before you were there to know them. I’ve found and scanned what is now my favorite picture ever. I’d never seen it before last shabbos. It’s my dad and I on a train, with my dad pointing my attention to the camera my mother (I assume) was holding. It’s very weird to look at, because it’s a picture of my dad at around my age, he was a few years older then than I am now. I’ve never really seen pics of my parents early married life. And my dad had some funky sunglasses, but I can forgive that. It was the eighties after all. But still it’s a snapshot at two people, one at the start of his life and one near the start of his adult life. It just makes me ponder all the things that have happened since then and the things neither of us could have known or expected, in this fleeting moment of innocence. To me it’s a picture of a world where nothing exists but the love of a father for his son. And they’re on a train, which ties into my idea of both being caught in a moment not knowing where life will take them from here.

medadglasses1

As you can see, my hairstyle hasn’t changed a great deal, though those of you who’ve met me know that my hair is considerably darker now. True story: when we had to give in our baby pictures for my high school yearbook, noone believed my picture was me.

By the way, the title for this is both the obvious and also a tie in to the fact that The Babysitter had a very similar post where she found some letters she’d written to her mother years before. I don’t think hers were apologies for misbehaving though… (I’d link it, but I’ve looked through both her blogs and I can’t find the post.)

Edit: The Babysitters post is here.

Facebook Status Generator

Posted in Facebook, Funny?, Shidduchim on January 12, 2009 by frumpunk

I’m just popping in here to tell you about an exciting new product that will revolutionize your live. Try new Vaxicil an.. wait, sorry. Scratch all that. I just want to let you know about a time saving website called Generatus. Basically, you just put in your name and it spits out a funny Facebook status for you to use. This will change everything. For one, you can have people think you’re somewhat funny or off-kilter when you’re not really.

This could land you in trouble of course. For example, suppose you go on a date with someone you met through Facebook. Your status that day was “Frum Punx never takes life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.” (Yes, that’s what it gave me just now). So the date is expecting someone funny, or at least vaguely cynical. And then they get you. And the shidduch is ruined, since if they can’t trust your status to be a reflection of you, what else about you is a lie?

So in conclusion, it’s a powerful tool. Use it wisely.

Fast Fast Days

Posted in Me on January 7, 2009 by frumpunk

I’m not a great fan of winter. Or rather, not a great fan of real winter. I enjoy a Miami winter, for example, but real winter with its icy roads and freezing temperatures just ain’t much fun. Unless it snows, fresh snow is always fun. But the one nice thing about winter is short days. It’s not normally a nice thing, as the number of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder can point out, but at least a fast day is really just cut down to a skip breakfast and lunch day. The perfect fast is one that’s over just in time for an early dinner, and I enjoyed that.

Didn’t enjoy the rest of the day though. I’ve had the worst cold/flu in ages, so I spent the fast day waiting until I could take some Co-Codamol and cough medicine. I know it’s just a minor fast day, but I can’t bring myself to break them. Old habits and Jewish guilt. Today hasn’t been much better, I’m almost done with a second box of tissues and my skin is all sensitive.

But hey, I changed by Facebook picture. Yup, drew that myself, with a GIMP filter. Although I didn’t realize my kippa was falling off the side of my head until it was up. I hate wearing clips, so I have a real problem with kippa slippage. My hair is quite slidey, so when I lean over my kippa starts sliding. At least once a day I make the grab before it lands in the toilet while flushing, and it nearly always lands in the sink while brushing my teeth. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my kippa is the Dr David Livingstone of kippas. While most will spend their days in the relative quiet of staying on someones head, my kippa has been places, usually of it’s own free will.

When Free Isn’t Enough

Posted in Me, Rants on January 3, 2009 by frumpunk

This is basically a follow-up to my now classic “When Meshulchim Attack” post.

I answered the door after Shabbos to find two men in shabby black coats, reeking of cigarettes. First thing I ask is if they were together, so I can estimate how much this will cost me. They say no, and the one in front pushes a laminated letter on me saying how he’s come all the way from Stamford Hill and his daughter is getting married. I read the letter to be polite, although it doesn’t affect how much I’ll give. When it comes to door-to-door tzedokah everyones got a sad story or a worthy cause and I only have so much money. The letter, true to his word, says, in badly scrawled Engrish that he’s from Stamford Hill and his daughter is getting married and he has no money. The one in back has been quiet the whole time, but when I asked if they were together the one from Stamford Hill had said that he was collecting for a Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. He then added that he though, was from Stamford Hill.

I ask them to wait for a minute, and go to the kitchen to inform my mother we had meshulchim. She gets her purse, only to find she’s got no available cash or change, so I go to check my wallet. I come back to the door and give them each what I feel is a reasonable amount, equivalent to around a couple of dollars each. Bear in mind, I’ve been out of work for a while, so I’m not exactly rolling in it. The quiet one in back accepts it, but the one from Stamford Hill is upset. “This is all you have? But I’ve come all the way from Stamford Hill!”

He then asks why I can’t write him a cheque, and also mentions he saw my mother digging in her purse, what about that money? After all, he says, he’s come all the way from Stamford Hill. I tersely tell him I’m out of work and that’s all the money I have. (Which is true).

At that point you want to take the money back, but you can’t. Whats the level of chutzpah required to complain about how much free money you’re getting? And the fact he reeked of cigarettes just topped it off for me. I hate when I smell smoke on meshulchim because I know how much a pack costs, and I hate to think that my money might just be financing your smoking rather than your daughters wedding. I would love to see the rabbanim put some rule in place that you can’t ask for money until you stop spending money on things that aren’t essential to living. Don’t complain about money when you’ve got a habit to finance. Even if you’ve come all the way from Stamford Hill.

Is New Years Kosher?

Posted in Chanukah, Heimish, Me, Politics on January 1, 2009 by frumpunk

I came out of my room this morning and wished my mother a happy new year. She responded that it wasn’t the new year, the new year was back in September. I’ve never really heard it discussed whether new years is technically allowed to be celebrated. On the one hand, it’s just the start of another calender year on the calender we all use, on the other hand, it’s celebrating another year since the birth of Jesus.

Yeshivos never bother to deal with this subject. New years for them is a cop-out, they lump it in with the Chanukah vacation so they don’t ever have to deal with whether there should be school on December 31st or January 1st. Honestly, it’s not an issue I ever thought about before this morning and I got that reply, but I’m hoping those of you from more heimishe communities can shed some light on whether it’s even an issue. Most people have parties, or at least watch the ball drop, right?

I didn’t even bother celebrating anything last night anyways. Just didn’t feel like it. I chose to avoid all parties, and spent the night rebuilding an ancient laptop so I would have a Windows machine to sync my Zune with. Only to find out my Zune was broken due to an error in the system clock where it doesn’t understand what a leap year is and couldn’t reconcile what yesterdays date was. It started working at midday today though.

I’m trying to decide if its been better than last year where I went to a house party I disliked, a club I hated and watched the fireworks with a girl I didn’t have any interest in.