Archive for the Funny? Category

Frum Punk Rates Your Humor Column

Posted in Frum, Funny?, Reviews on December 14, 2009 by frumpunk

We are fortunate to live in an age of variety in frum reading material. Whether you want to hear about right-wing opinions, or the even further to the right opinions, everyone is catered for. There’s such a push to provide a frum equivalent for mainstream newspapers and journals that much of our literature even has a resident humor columnist. Just like Newsweek and Time!

With so many choices, how do you know what to spend your valuable time on? Normally I would recommend simply reading my archives over and over but I’ll accept that many of you don’t have internet with you everywhere you go, so you get a pass. So if you must look for a weekly chuckle in a frum paper, let me tell you which are worth a guffaw and which are worth a guff-don’t.

Seriously Speaking – Michpacha:

Let me summarize this one with a peek into the authors mind during brainstorming: “Israeli service is slow! Obama is a liberal! Frum Jews don’t like Obama! Bibi! Israeli politics! Obama! Hahahaha, amirite people? What’s that? My column is due in two minutes? Hang on, let me just mention how this institution could be giving me the prize money instead! In shekels! Cause I live in Israel! Hahaha, amirite? Comedy gold!”

Hamodeia – Mordechai Shmutter:

I haven’t read the Hamodia in so long that I can’t remember the title of this column, but it’s easy to remember the content. Lets see; start off with a mention of something that happened to you recently then… steal one of Dave Barry’s bits from a decade ago. I understand the appeal, you write for a frum paper. Even if someone recognizes the source they won’t say anything because that’s an admission of reading secular material, which means you’re no longer frum. It’s the same way that Lev Tahor can rip off an entire Scorpions song for their second album. If you say anything, you’re a shaygetz. Problem is when I was in yeshiva Dave Barry’s anthologies were passed around like a crack pipe in a ghetto. He’s clean and hilarious. I don’t know how he gets away with plagiarizing him, but it irritates me.

Your Local Jewish Weekly:

“Oh boy, we Jews sure like to eat food and do Jewish things don’t we? Goyim, they don’t do these Jewish things, not like we do!” Oh Jackie Mason, you devil. Curse you for what you’ve spawned upon the world. Here’s a Jackie Mason joke, “Jews do this, Goyim don’t do it like this, and then the Jewish woman complains in this Brooklyn accent”. Trust me, I once did improv where I just made up Jackie Mason jokes on the spot with that formula. As long as you do the voice, you’ve got a punchline. I did it just to prove the point that that’s all there is to it. My dad loves Jackie Mason. I heard enough of it in the car to last a lifetime. Even when I was ten I saw the formula. Problem is it’s so simple that when your local Jewish Times wants a humor column, that’s all they print every week. It’s the law of the lowest common denominator.

The Coffee Room – Yeshiva World News:

Yes, while not strictly a column, I’d like to include a review of it. If only to get to my word count to appease my editor. From topics asking if it’s okay to date someone wearing an off-white shirt, to rants about how women in tight shirts are causing tsunamis in Asia, this is the best humor going in the Jewish world today. Find out if you can eat ice cream on a shidduch date, or does it run the risk of not being tzniyus. Your question will be answered by “numberonetzaddik” who assures you he’s a posek and fluent in all areas of halacha and gemora. And why would he lie?

Watch this space for a how-to on how to write and publish your own frum paper! (Hint: it involves simply printing random articles from AP News that week. Add in a columnist, letters page and some puzzles from the internet for the kids page and you’re good to go. Rinse and repeat weekly.)

I Can’t Eat This

Posted in Food, Frum, Funny?, Heimish, Israel, Me, Yeshiva on November 15, 2009 by frumpunk

I’ve done time. Hard time. Yeshiva time. I went to yeshiva, post high school for multiple years. When it comes to food, I’m a tough battle-hardened son of a gun. I’ve had the month old cholent. And yes, I cooked that cholent in my dorm rooms George Forman. I’ve choked down my fair share of grease based meat substances.  I’ve got stories of rummaging through left over simcha food that could make your intestines curl up and beg for mercy. I once had milk that was four years old. It was a little crunchy, but still good.

Or so I thought.

One of the standout meals I had this past year was a shabbos lunch spent with a chassidic family in Jerusalem. When I say chassidish I mean Chassidish, capital C. The women ate in the kitchen. Everyone but me owned a streimel. Yiddish was flying haphazardly in all directions. The peyos  were swinging and the gartels were tight. For the appetizer, my host was brought a massive tray with about thirty hard boiled eggs and several whole onions. While we watched, he proceeded to shell the eggs and chop the onion, enrapturing us with what was presumably a chassidic tale from his rebbe about how generations before us had prepared their own egg and onion dishes at the shabbos table while the guests waited slavishly wondering if for the main course, he would be brought a live chicken and all the ingredients of a cholent, to prepare it in front of us and tell us more tales in yiddish, leading us to take mental bets on whether or not we would finally be eating by tuesday.

It’s not that I’m spoilt. I can appreciate different customs and foods. It’s that I’m squeamish. Very American, chicken-soup-and-brisket type. I can try new things, I just don’t like to eat them when they’ve been passed hand to hand to reach me. I was polite, I ate my eggs and fish and it wasn’t bad, but seeing it passed under all those beards made me choke it down. Something that was almost reversed when the next course was passed down – boiled cows hoof. They told me it was boiled for a full day until it was just a blob of wobbly gelatin. I can try new things, but not the part of the cow that spends it’s life wading through feces. And it looked… wrong. It doesn’t look like food, and watching people slap it on bread and eat it with a gusto made me reconsider my previous plans to digest my food rather than regurgitate it across the table. (I found out afterwards that it’s more common than I thought. My grandmother knows what it is, but I still don’t understand why you would eat that part of the cow unless forced to by poverty or some sadistic poretz.)

But nothing could have prepared me for the main course. Initially I breathed a sigh of relief when the cholent was served. Finally, something familiar. Meat, beans and potatoes. Nothing can go wrong with this, right? That was until the boy next to me shows me the special delicacy his mother puts in the cholent. A whole chickens foot. Bones, skin and all. The whole thing, sitting right there on his spoon, practically squawking at me a warning to consider what other delights might my cholent contain. I’ve never lost my appetite faster, especially as he described how she cooks it until the bones are soft so it doesn’t crunch that much in your mouth. I’ve nothing against chicken feet per say, but they don’t look like an appetizing part of this complete breakfast. I spent the rest of the meal picking the potatoes in my bowl, too grossed out to eat the meat, but trying not to appear rude.

I’ve never thought before that there were things I simply couldn’t stomach to try and eat. Years of yeshiva food is supposed to steel you for anything. By all rights I should be able to eat anything anywhere. But I learned there’s a difference between spoiled litvish food and properly cooked chassidish delicacies. And I’ll risk the infection of a piece of schnitzel from three months ago thats been sitting under my dorm mates bed, before I’ll attempt to eat a fresh chicken foot, cows hoof or even a fresh piece of salmon passed hand to hand to hand.

No London Love for Sephardi Kashrus

Posted in Food, Funny?, Kashrus on August 31, 2009 by frumpunk

I have relatives in London and travel there at least once every few years. For the uninitiated, London is in England, or so they tell me. Personally, I have my doubts. I’ve been there a few times and I still haven’t seen any royalty tromp through on horses, lopping peasants heads off. Not even so much as a public hanging. But I digress.

Keeping kosher in England is sort of like keeping kosher in Brooklyn in 1930. Almost everything you buy is from a Jewish owned company (who are usually better known for their standards of kashrus than their standards of taste), very few things in general have hechshers, and most of what you buy is kosher by word of mouth. Is this okay? “Of course! Everyone I know buys it!” But it says “boiled in only the finest pig anuses”. And the company is called “Porkeys McTreif”. “You see that guy? See how long his beard is? Well he buys it! You think someone who looks that chashuv would buy treif? Plus, my friend buys this all the time. Are you calling my friend a bad Jew?”

Luckily for the Kosher Konsumer, the London Beis Din publishes a yearly guide to everything on store shelves thats kosher. It’s quite good, and quite comprehensive. Or it looks that way until you realize the duplicates. For example, you can buy veggie/soy meat products from Tivall, Tesco and Sainsburys. But if you check the packaging, you find out that it’s all the exact same thing, made by Tivall. In general, it’s not bad though, and there’s most of the good stuff. By which I mean, they tell me that Ben & Jerrys and Baskin Robbins are kosher, and that’s really all one needs to survive.

Some stuff is sorely missing though, such as fries not made by Rakusens or yogurts not made by Herzl Dairies. I’m sorry, but I like my YoPlait with the candy in the lid. It’s not bad for you when mixed in strawberry yogurt! But going back to the first point, last time I went shopping there with my cousin, I was surprised to see him grab a bag of McCains fries and toss them into the cart. Even more surprised when he picked up a pack of Kingsmill Pancakes for my aunt. It’s a horrible revelation to find out that your Golders Green living, black hat wearing, very chareidi cousins don’t keep kosher. My head was spinning, wondering what the pork content of the cholent on shabbos must have been. Considering the fact that he was my ride and all my stuff was at his house, I decided to try the teshuvah approach before throwing stones. To be safe though, I still grasped a rock behind my back like it was made of gold.

I took out the book and tried to make him aware of the grave sin he was committing, buying products not sanctioned by the London Beis Din. He smiled the gentle smile of the wise man, or maybe he was just trying to disarm me before I hurled my rock, and flipped the packages around to show me the “SKA” printed on the back of each bag. Now I adore ska as a form of music, but whats it doing on the back of these glatt treif products? Turns out it stands for “Sephardi Kashrus Authority”. But if these things were kosher, why weren’t they in the book? Surely everyone should know that they have more options for their culinary delights, if you consider fries and pancakes to be a culinary delight. For the record, I do. But then I’m the type to consider anything edible if it has enough chocolate or melted cheese over it.

The London Beis Dins book lists everything kosher, whether certified by them or not. Hundreds of products are listed under every type of reputable kashrus possible. But apparently not by Londons own Sephardi kashrus. I don’t know what the politics are, but that’s a shame. Because living in kosher England is like being one of those little chassidic kids you feel sorry for on summer days, when you’re sucking down your Iced Mocha Crapachelli Strawberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and all they have to eat is a tub of Kleins Kosher ice cream, made in Brooklyn since 1934, and each batch appears to have been made in 1934. Basically, it’s the color and consistency of frozen pus. You know I’m right.

In The Freezer

Posted in Food, Funny?, Me, Yom Tov on August 19, 2009 by frumpunk

Fooled you, didn’t I? Admit it, you saw the title and thought “oh a shidduch post. He hasn’t done one of those in ages.” Well, nope. If I wrote on that topic, I’d be like a billion other bloggers, and my goal is to be unique. That’s why I blog on wordpress and refuse to wear pants whilst writing, brainstorming or shopping.

I came home this morning to the sweet smell of that most delicate of Ashkenazi foods, the meat boureka. It’s unknown in any other culture, because they’re just not good enough to have it, and it’s a rarity in my parents house because my mother usually refuses to make anything involving pastry, oil, or anything else that might make food, to use a technical term, “delicious”. She saves that stuff for yom tov, and when I tried to “borrow one”, she told me that these were for succos, right after slamming my thieving hand with a rolling pin. The lesson here is not to try and take one when your mother is still rolling out pastry, but the secondary lesson is that the freezer simply stops time. Food does not age in the freezer, as long as it’s both in there, and wrapped in foil.

Whether or not this is true, my mother truly believe it is. She sometimes will look in the freezer and dig out an unidentifiable lump of something, frost-bitten and wrapped in tinfoil. She will then bring it to me to see if I know what it is. If I don’t she takes it to everyone else in the house. If noone is sure what exactly it is, she’ll defrost it and eat it just to find out. I swear I’m not kidding. The number of times I’ve asked her later if she found out what the freezer lump was, only to have her tell me that she microwaved and ate it is staggering. “Oh, it was chicken soup”. “Oh, it was brisket”. “I’m not sure what it was, but it tasted good with a little salt”.

Now that I’m technically an adult, and have gone out into the world a little, I’m starting to realize a lot of strange things about my parents, mostly regarding food. One of my favorite books is “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. (If you haven’t read it, get it. I can’t recommend it highly enough, it’s just plain hilarious). The last story is about how his father hoards food for years, usually in the bathroom cabinet. I found it funny, but creepily familiar. If you check any of my fathers jackets, including suit jackets you will always find chocolate in the inside pocket, usually in the form of Raisinets, but also Kit Kats, Twix and chocolate covered coffee beans. Basically, my dad likes to have chocolate handy at any time. And it has no expiration date for him. They can be there for years and he will still snack on them next time he puts on that jacket. He also shares my mothers freezer mentality (maybe that’s why they married?) as he will buy anything chocolate or snack related and put it in the freezer. There’s nothing better than frostbitten caramel, is there? We all complain, and I don’t know how he eats the stuff. I really don’t because none of us have ever seen my dad eat any of the things he keeps in the freezer. Much like David Sedaris’s father, my dad will buy anything at a discount, then keep it in the freezer for years. Meat that expires the day he buys it goes into the freezer for weeks before he’ll eat it. He doesn’t equate “quick sale” with “immediate consumption”.

This has gone on way too long, considering my original point was meant to be the question: does anyone actually know if things kept in the freezer stay edible forever? Or am I being slowly poisoned by chicken slaughtered in the Roman era, by all probability.

You Can Take It With You

Posted in Food, Frum, Funny?, Heimish, Israel, Uncategorized on August 7, 2009 by frumpunk

It’s an odd time of the year to write this, considering now is the time when the fresh crop is heading to Israel, but I’ve just left my summer inspiration tour, so deal with it. In fact, you should probably print this out and tape it up in your dorm room so you know what to do when you get back home. How do you take the holiness and heimishness of your year in Israel back with you? Here’s what to do when you get homesick:

Burn A Trash Can

Thursday night schwarma just isn’t the same without the sweet smell of burning plastic in the air. Bring a little back with you by tossing your lighter into the first dumpster you see. Crowd around, bring the marshmallows. If someone asks you what you’re doing, simply yell “free the yenta!”, give the black power salute, and run away.

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

Bring the art of negotiating the price of everything back as a keepsake. Before taking the subway, go up to one of the booths and offer them fifteen cents to take you to Long Island. Go as high as forty if you have to. If you reach a standstill just walk away. They’ll call you back.

Bring Some Penguins

You might get sick of seeing colors other than black, white and cholent everywhere. In fact, a leading cause of post Israel hospitalizations is stress shock brought on by depriving the brain of vivid colors for a year and then going to the village (or wherever it is the kids hang out these days. On that note, gettoff my lawn).

Am I saying you should rob a zoo? No. I’m just suggesting you populate the streets with a life form that walks upright and wears only yeshivish colors. I might also be handing you a map of the best back entrances to a zoo, but if you get caught, you never knew me. You can also try pandas, but since they’re not upright you might find yourself more accurately recreating purim.

Add Some Grease

Lets face it. What you’re eating isn’t really food unless you find that when you wrap it in a laffa you have a puddle of grease on your plate from the residue dripping out the bottom. Otherwise, what you have there might be more appropriately be termed “quasi food. Semi food. The Diet Coke of food.”

Furthermore, Israel is widely considered to be the second most heimish place in the world (right after Brooklyn). As you know, I’m something of a heimishologist and while the subject requires further research, I firmly believe that the addition of grease raises the heimish in your average foodstuff by several thousand percent. And heimish means frum. And don’t we all want to be frummer?

How To Throw Stones

Posted in Frum, Funny?, Israel on June 21, 2009 by frumpunk

One thing that becomes immediately obvious being in Israel is the line drawn between those who keep shabbos and those who don’t. Religious neighborhoods do everything they can to keep cars from driving through on shabbos. Some places have fixed gates that swing shut come Friday eve. The more ghetto places have stolen police barriers, plastic fencing, and I’ve even seen uprooted trees and road signs dragged into the road for the sake of shabbos.

The most interesting fixture to me though is the screams of the Israeli kids (and by kids I mean, people into their early twenties) of “SHHHHAAAABBBBBBOOOOSSSSS”  at the passing cars. I’m not sure what the purpose of this is. I have yet to see a car stop, it’s driver get out apologetically explaining how he had no idea, and how grateful he is to them for informing him of this fact. I’m fairly certain they can’t even hear the shouts, what with the engine, the radio and the thrust of a diesel engine moving them past the screams at speeds of thirty miles per hour. Really, all they’re doing is annoying me. Some of those kids can shriek.

Luckily, the shabbos patrol has hit upon another method of carrying out their duties as modern day town criers. The hurling of small blunt objects, such as rocks or unruly children. This makes far more sense to me and heeding the commandment to keep the shabbos day holy, I eagerly join in the launching of these airborne kiruv minerals. Of course, I asked about the proper way to go about this.

For starters, you have to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If you see someone driving on shabbos, you have to assume that his wife is having a baby or someones ill and it’s a matter of life and death. That’s why before shabbos I write “Mazel Tov!” on one side of the rock, and “Get well soon” on the other. Only then do I feel comfortable delivering my message of goodwill right through their windshield.

You also have to keep in mind that not everyone is Jewish. Israel is also populated by Arabs and various Christian groups. That’s why I also wrap a few printouts of Noachide shirum around the rocks with rubber bands before launching my gift of kiruv into the driver.

Don’t call me a hero, I’m just trying to make the world a better place. Okay, you can call me a hero. Just once. Maybe twice. You know I can’t resist adulation from you.

Yeshiva Food

Posted in Food, Funny?, Israel, Me on May 26, 2009 by frumpunk

I forgot what it was like to subsist entirely on yeshiva food. I thought at my age, Mystery Meat and Unidentified Stew were things of the past. Unfortunately I forgot just what yeshiva food is like sometimes. I was ill for the past two days, apparently throwing up the contents of my stomach from the past few months. When I wasn’t hugging the porcelain I was alternating between sweating and being freezing. At one point I seriously considered the possibility that I’d caught swine flu from the yeshiva food. Most people can take it, but they’ve been here long enough that they’re hardened and acclimated to it, like the way a championship boxer thinks nothing of several blows to the skull. I spent forty shek on a bunch of pink tablets that the guy at the pharmacy assured me would make me feel better. Or maybe he was saying it’ll help me grow a third nipple. My Hebrew is terrible and he didn’t speak English, so either one is a possibility. Plus, Israeli medicine… it could be for my stomach with the extra nipple being a side effect. If I could read ivrit I’d probably realize it has “additional nipple” listed as a possible effect, right after “anal leakage”.

Now for my generic Israel complaint. Why can’t you buy juice? I have a Pepsi Max addiction, and I thought I’d hit the perfect drink (tastes great, no calories) until this girl who seems to have this ridiculous ability to make me want to make her happy asked me to healthen (no, not “heathen”) myself up a bit. I told her you can’t drink the tap water here (I have, but it tastes terrible) and bottled water isn’t cheaper than soda. So we agreed on juice, except that the only juices I could find were basically soda or syrup anyway. No normal not-from-concentrate apple juice or anything. I found the prigat apple nectar, but I’ve had it and it’s not the juice I’m looking for. I did find juice later, at the other end of the supermarket. The prigat organic freshly squeezed orange juice. For twenty shek. No thanks. That would buy me four Pepsi Max’s with change left over. I think the prigat company is in cahoots with the sun to make me thirsty all the time. And they’ve paid her to make me feel guilty for loading my body up with sugar. It’s a massive conspiracy against me, I tell ya.