All Yomtoved Out

Posted in Frum, Kashrus, Me, Rants, Yom Tov on April 16, 2010 by frumpunk

Yes, it took me that long to recover from Pesach 2010. I’m a procrastinator by nature so I spent the last few days before doing all my cleaning and shopping according to halacha, then of course doing the modern post-halachic practices of checking my fruit for chometz, installing a grain filter to my pipes so no chometz would be pumped in through my tapwater and shooting all the pigeons on my roof because they’re notorious for eating grain and you can’t be too careful these days.

Of course, I also had to make sure all my paper plates and toilet paper had enough hechsharim on. Three different ones is considered the machmir standard but most poskim hold you’re not really doing your histadlus unless you have at least five hechsharim from three different countries. I think the worse part of pre-pesach preperations are the laxatives you have to take these days, to make sure your system is completely flushed out of chometz. I don’t enjoy it, but who am I to argue against halacha?

Also, it’s official. I can’t drink any wine without getting a stomach-ache. It’s even worse than Purim, because you don’t eat for hours before the seder, then you drink two cups of red wine. I don’t know what it is, but I usually spend half the seder on the couch groaning while the middle bits of the seder pass me by. I had mostly grape juice the second night, but even the light kedem is so sugary and sweet I feel ill. Maybe I just have a week stomach? All I know is, I need to talk to someone for next year. It’s hardly celebrating yomtov in the proper spirit when what you’re obligated to do by halacha ruins the rest of the stuff you’re meant to do.

It’s always a little jarring when a long yom tov ends. The previous eight days all start to run into each other in a steady routine of put on suit, go to shul, come home and eat, take a nap/read/walk/hang out go back to shul, eat again, go to sleep, repeat. It becomes a week of shul/eat/shul/eat and having shabbos take up most of chol hamoed didn’t help. It’s the one time of year I wish I lived in Israel where I hear rumors that they just have one seder, five days of chol hamoed and then one day of yomtov which sounds like the way it should be. The first seder is nice. When you start to do it all again the second night it begins to get tiresome, especially for me with my wine issues, and the kids questions switch from “why is this night different”, to “why is this night the same as last night?”

Well, now that I got my Pesach post typed up it’s smooth sailing from here until Rosh Hashonah. Although, now that I think about it I’m not sure the lettuce I used for my marror had enough hechsharim. Do I need to do it all over again just to make sure?

Ugh, better safe than sorry. See you in eight days.

A Steaming Bowl of Heimishness

Posted in Food, Frum, Heimish on March 18, 2010 by frumpunk

If you ever need to explain to someone what makes cholent so cholenty, start with this pic.

The Other Side

Posted in Funny?, Girls, Rants, shidduch, Shidduchim, Yeshiva on March 17, 2010 by frumpunk

In my estimitation, there are over eleventy million blogs out there written by single girls about dating. In fact, studies show that blogging about dates (or lack thereof) has overtaken tzedaka-based square dancing to become the number one pre-marriage activity for frum single girls. But while they’re writing (complaining) about how hard it is to know how to act around boys, people don’t get to see a date from a boys perspective.

Where does she want to go?

You can’t just ask her. The onus is on you to make sure it’s interesting, not too showy, not too boring and leads to a good first impression of the type of person you are. And this is when you know very little about her. You can end up trying too hard. If she’s described as “outdoorsy” that doesn’t mean a five mile nature hike was a good idea. She might be described as “quirky” but taking her for a walk through the markolet just makes her think you have an unusual attachment to the smell of fish, rather than the intended impression that you want to look at interesting things while talking. She might be a reader, but used bookstores don’t smell very nice, not to mention they don’t facilitate much conversation when other people are trying to read their vintage copies of ‘Simple Truths’. You could take her to a hotel lobby, but then you’re just boring and conventional. I know someone who tried a boat ride for a first date. The lesson he learned was, boats can capsize and so can relationships. Can you take her bowling, or will she think you just want to see her from behind? If you offer to go for a walk around a mall does that mean she thinks you’ll spend money on her, or will she appreciate having an air-conditioned place to walk through with a food court?

What should you wear?

This is an easy one if you’re yeshivish or chareidi. Black, white, black, black. (Yarmulka, shirt, pants, shoes). But what if you’re frum yet not yeshivish? What if you want her to understand that you don’t dress a certain way, yet are a certain type? Wearing a white shirt on the first date might lead to a surprise if you wear a colored shirt on the second. Do you wear a bright shirt on the first date to make it clear you like having choice in your wardrobe or will that scare her off by making her think you’re a loud hippy type? Is a suit too formal? Is just a shirt and pants too casual? Will a polo make you look underdressed or will it make you look neat, confident and relaxed? Tzitzis out or in? What if you planned on taking her on a picnic? Do you wear older pants that can get dirty, or will you shock her by looking sloppy? What if it’s the summer? Black wool in the Israeli sun in July? White pants after labor day?

How much can you spend?

Do you spend a lot to show you’re a good provider or will she take that as you being a show-off? Do you spend a little to show you’re thoughtful with money or does that make you look cheap? Do you take out cash to show you can spend money on her, or do you use a card to show you’re careful and possibly have a good line of credit? Do you take her to a nice restaurant or are you trying too hard? Do you take her out to pizza because it’s just a first date or does that make you seem like an inconsiderate schmuck? Can you offer to split the bill so that she doesn’t feel she owes you anything or is that ungentlemanly of you? If it is a nice place do you surprise her and run the risk she already ate, or do you spoil the surprise by telling her what’s happening? What if you do tell her and you get the impression you made the wrong choice? Is it then alright to switch on her to something you think she’d like better, or does that make you appear indecisive? What if you don’t tell her and she feels bad that she either overdressed for pizza or underdressed for steak? Should you ask about food allergies on the first phone call just in case? What if she’s vegan? (Happened to me once at a shabbos table when the brisket was served. Awk-ward.)

Where to look?

You know what I mean. Can you let her know you find her attractive? Will she be flattered and more likely to warm to you, or will she take you as a creep because it’s too early for you to be looking at her like that? (Pro-tip for girls: we’re looking at you like that from the first second. We’re visual creatures and attractiveness is important. We just have to pretend like it isn’t.) When can you compliment her on her appearance? End of the first date? Beginning of the third? (Tip: Compliment the shoes. She’ll think you’re gay and let down her guard.) Is it a faux-pas to have your silk heart boxers peeking out? What if they’re cotton? (Polyester is a no-no. Poly-blend is only okay if the ratio is 30-70 or less.)

Music in the car?

This obviously only applies if you’re driving. Will playing Jewish music while you drive give her the impression that you only listen to that or are a certain “type”? Will she be turned off if you play secular music, thereby not even giving you a chance on the rest of the date? Is speed metal a bad idea in any circumstance (Answer: yes). Will talk radio bring out her strange political views or reveal her as a simpleton who has no idea what’s going on in the world? Which is better? Will no radio create an awkward silence? Should you play Weird Al on the chance that she likes him and therefore solidifies her in your mind as the woman you better marry, pronto?

What do you talk about?

If you give a devar torah are you being preachy? If you talk about college are you being a show-off? (If you attend anything at Landers or any other Touro affiliate, don’t worry about the last one. Knock yourselves out.) What if you get so nervous you forget the ending to the devar torah? Do you flub it and hope she doesn’t notice? (Really? That pasuk is referring to how we should try to be like the chocolate chip and not like the cookie?) Do you try to have topics written beforehand or is that trying too hard? I know someone who went with a whole list in his pocket of conversational topics that people had recommended. Do you want to be the guy who during a moment of silence fishes a crumpled up piece of paper from his pocket and asks “so tell me about your fascism. I mean, famine? Sorry, family!”

This was a long post, wasn’t it? And you know what? We’ve barely covered half the things to think about when planning a date. So next time you’re fussing about what shoes to wear based on how tall he’s expected to be, please, spare a thought for the boys. It’s no picnic either. Do you want to go on a picnic? Can we sit on the same blanket or will you take that the wrong way?

Spotting The Greenhorn

Posted in Frum, Funny?, Heimish, Israel, New York on March 7, 2010 by frumpunk

So there he was, spotted as soon as I entered the shul. Couldn’t have been more obvious if he’d been wrapped in neon and fitted with the bass system from a riced out Honda Civic. He eyed me the same and proffered an Ashkanazi siddur, one of the rare ones in this little nusach Sefard chassidic place. I accepted the siddur and sat down next to him. He asked where I was from, I told him. He apologized for not recognizing me, offering by way of explanation, “I’ve been in yeshiva for the past few months, this is my first time back since Elul.” I smiled at him. “I know,” I said. “I know.”

You can spot them everywhere at certain times of the year. Many greenhorn spotters (or “grotters” as we prefer to be known) will tell you that chanukah is the best time for this widely practiced, yet little talked about sport. Others, the ones with less finesse, you might say, will dig out the binoculars and set up camp only at pesach time. Not to be too arrogant, but they’re amateurs. My preferred game is the unexpected. It takes more skill to find them, but when you do they’re unawares and therefore easier prey. I tag the species and the location in my little book and release them back into the wild. Just this past week I saw a fantastic example of a Medrash at J2. Perfect specimen, a prize catch. He was talking about how he’s just recently started to buckle down and work on himself. It really made my week. I eschew the obviousness of catching them when they come back for yom tov in favor of spotting the ones who trickle in here and there for the family bris or wedding. It makes them more of a catch because you never know if there will be many, if any at all.

They’re an interesting species to be sure. This time last year they were just another batch of seniors obsessed with pog cards and their hippety-hop music (I think. I have no idea what the kids are into these days), totally unaware of the evolution that would soon transform them. They head off to Israel to their chosen (or not so chosen) yeshivas and then, I wait. When they start to trickle back, the season begins.

 There are certain signs to start your hunt with. My favorite is the linear siddur. You know the one, the hebrew is on one line with the english below it so the words match up rather than the block of english text being on the opposite side of the block of hebrew text. These siddurim are used by only two people; those becoming frum who are trying to learn hebrew, and newly minted yeshiva guys trying to learn the meaning of all those words they’ve been mumbling daily since they were eight. You could also look for the copy of Pathway to Prayer, that little book where it goes into detail about one part of the davening (the greenhorns tend to prefer the shemonai esrei one), but I think that’s too easy. Other things to note: the white shirt. Is it crisp, like it’s new to him and he still takes pride in his appearance? A favorite tactic of mine is to check the collar if it’s on shabbos. Is it buttoned up to the neck, with the tie properly done? See, if it looks like it fits correctly, then he’s new to this. Look at the ex-yeshiva guys in their late twenties and thirties. They’ve been wearing it for so long that the neck hasn’t fit in years, so they simply go to the second button and pull the tie up partly, for comfort. If he’s more Mad Men than Hocker, you’ve got a greenhorn on your hands, my friend. Other things to look for are shoes, belt, glasses and type and frequency of chumash used for leining, but this has become a wall of text so those, my friends, are for the next installment.

Father June Is The Hottest

Posted in Funny?, Heimish on March 5, 2010 by frumpunk

Just while I’m still at the computer, I’d like to show you my two favorite pictures from Italy. The front and back covers of the, *ahem* Sexy Priests Calender. Yours for only six euro. Now when do we get the heimish equivalent?

Mi Scusi

Posted in Funny?, Me, Vanish, Weddings on March 5, 2010 by frumpunk

I’m sorry. So so sorry. This has been a very difficult time for all of you, I imagine. This long without a Frum Punk post? With no warning or hints as to my sudden disappearance? Sure, there were signs here and there. You knew my brother was getting married. You all know about my exploits and celebrity romances. I’m sure you’ve all seen the tabloids and that embarrassing video that a certain paparazzi website that shall remain nameless had up. I’m a very busy man, what can I say?

Well you’re partially right. It’s not that I didn’t want to post, far from it. But between the familial obligations that a simcha magnifies, the test taking obligations that midterms throughout December don’t deny, and the travelling obligations that I can’t deny myself, I simply havent been near enough to a computer in the past two months or so to give you what you want. Nay, need.

Yes, I got to do a bit of travelling. Spain, Italy, France… if there was a cheap flight there, an available list of kosher eateries and/or the promise that it would be sunny and potentially blizzard-free, I was there, tried to be there, or at least suggestively fondled a map of the place. But do you think I had fun? No! Picture me in Madrid, tanned and sun-blessed, holding a cup of coffee and trying my darndest to look European. It’s a pretty picture, but you couldn’t see the tormented man behind the curtain, racked with guilt, knowing the pleasure of the moment for me was at the cost of giving you, the people, what you want. Because you want me, you need me. I lift your spirits and tickle that special spot beneath your chin with my words, anecdotes, stories and terrible metaphors. You need me like an ant needs a wheel of cheese. Like a rebbetzin needs to model her husbands streimel when he leaves the house. Like a kosher lamp needs a shabbos clock to talk to at night when you go to sleep. (What, you don’t think they come alive at night?)

So I’m going to give it to you. Sure, I’ve missed the pre-purim season which is the best time of the year for bloggers to write all those things that don’t fit the rest of the year, but you’re getting it anyway. This is going to be some hot bloggeration. Shield the kids eyes.

In conclusion; thank you, thank you. You’re the best readers ever. Thank you for your support and patience. You’re the real winners here. These roses are for you. Thank you again, and good night. *Exit stage left*

A Quick Brag

Posted in Me, Reviews on January 12, 2010 by frumpunk

If I haven’t been posting (and I haven’t) it’s because I’ve been on vacation for the past three weeks. And if I’m posting now (which I am) it’s merely to brag about my current status in life, for I (Frum Punk) and just this much better than you. Or at least I feel this much better, mainly because I’m writing this from the complimentary computer in the private office located in the British Airways First Class Lounge, a place so nice I want to stay here twice.

Who would have thought that I, a simple country boy from Bumbleweed, Nebraska would someday be rubbing elbows with the upper crust of air travel? I didn’t expect so either, but then BA messed me around so many times that they apparently felt compelled to bump me to the upper crust of air travel society. And sitting in this ergonomic chair listening to the smooth jazz sounds and sipping my complimentary beverages, I no longer feel any animosity towards them.

Pretending to be rich reminds you of just how nice the service industry can be when they’re paid to suck up to certain passengers. I bypassed the initial check-in line with a contemptuous glance at all the poor people queuing up like insects while I stepped right up the the counter in my exclusive section. While my bags were taken care of I exchanged light banter with the friendly lady behind the counter. Then I was wisked through security, all of whom asked me how my stay was and expressed their sincere wishes to meet me again, sooner rather than later. Then with time to kill before my flight I stepped into the private lounge area and with a second contemptuous glance at all the people flying business I was escorted into my private lounge, with its computer setup, comfortable chairs, bar and choice of almost any drink I could desire, all on the house of course. In a short while I shall be stepping into my first class, fully reclinable seat, where I shall change into my complimentary pyjamas and settle down for a restful overnight flight.

You too could be flying this way, if only you’d worked as hard as I have to earn this level of luxury I’m accustomed to. It’ll be difficult though when the flight is done and it’s time to leave and go back home, a place without helpful attendants and smooth jazz. I’m grabbing onto my seat. They can’t make me go. Don’t make me go back there. I like it here…