Saturday, November 30, 2013

House Calls

"Daddy, guess what?
"A doctor is coming over soon."
"A real doctor?"
"That's nice."
"Daddy, guess what his name is?"
"You won't believe it."
"Try me."
"His name is Dr. Goy."
"Dr. Goy is coming to the house?"
"That's funny."

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Friendly Public Shaming

Nothing nicer than going to my cousin Andy's gorgeous home for Thanksgiving.  Delicious food, a lovely setting, and best of all, I don't have to do anything but show up and eat and of course, at some point, endure a brief public shaming.  If your relatives don't feel comfortable shaming you, mercilessly, and vice versa, it's time to find a new group. Just latch onto some random folks and see if you fit in or not. Bolt if no one is laughing.  Get out while you can, these people aren't going to bring you comfort and joy.  Oh, look, the SJG just made a Christmas reference.  Please forgive me, I'm still digesting my food and too tired to throw a driedel reference your way.

Speaking off dreidels, I didn't see any at Andy and Allison's house. What's wrong with them?  Frankly, I'm a little bereft. But they did light a nice menorah, which triggered my first brief public shaming.  On the phone with Andy Wednesday, he told me he was going to a First Night of Hanukkah party.  I actually questioned the logic of that. "Why? The first night isn't till Thursday." A heated argument between cousins followed, filled with ridicule and the lightening-fast arrival of fancy Internet links to prove the SJG was wrong and helpful suggestions to go back to schul for a refresher course.  "You can't make me," I said, and hung up, only to be shamed about my lack of Hanukkah chronology during the Second Night lighting ceremony.

My next public shaming, a lengthier one, I might add, came later, when a critical topic arose and the SJG was once again out of the loop.  "Hey gang, let's watch 'Glee,'" someone else I'm related to said.  "'Glee' is on?!  Oh eff, I didn't record it." Cue a spirited lecture, delivered simultaneously by Andy and Allison and their adorable, recently Bar Mitzvahed son Levi, about Season Passes and Apps and Hulu and iTunes and Apple TV and God only knows what else, I stopped listening. The essence of this group rant was that clearly, from a global media standpoint, I deserved a friendly flogging.  "Just... leave me alone!" I said, in self-defense, shoving more pie in my face to fill up the emptiness inside. A few hours after I waddled out the door, Andy tried to undue the shaming via text.  "'Glee' sucked." Nice try, Cuzzie.  Nice try.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Even Then

Even at Cedars, with a gash on his head after a stunt man fall,
Perfect for a bar room fight in an old western,
Not good in the hallway of his condo.
Even at 5 a.m., with the ER doctors and the orderlies
And the beeping of machines.
Even when he's in and out of it
And not sure what's what...
Even as the cute blonde nurse calls him pet names,
Like pumpkin and peach and sweetie pie.
Even when this latest turn of events
Lacks a punchline.
Even then, my 92-year-old dad is still funny.
"Are you comfortable?" the nurse asks,
Propping him up with a nice pillow.
"I make a living," he says.
Even then, he makes me laugh.
For that, and so much more, I'm grateful.
Exhausted, worried, angst-ridden,
And yet, still grateful.
It's one of those Thanksgivings.
We've had a few of them before.
A serving of bad news
Between dinner and dessert.
Even on days like this one,
Thanksgiving means Thanks Living.
So, what else can I say, but...
Happy Thanksgiving,
And Happy Hanukkah,
To you and yours.
Eat a latke.
Light a menorah,
And a turkey-shaped candle.
Save me a wishbone.
I'm looking for a miracle.
Praying my favorite altacocker
Lasts a lot longer
Than eight days.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Funny You Should Ask

Dear SJG,
How long do you plan to milk the whole Thanksgiving-Hanukkah coinky-dink?
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
I plan to milk it for another two days.  Then I'm done for at least 75,000 years.  Promise.  In the meantime, I cordially invite you to shove a sweet potato latke up your butt.
You're welcome,
Dear SJG,
I've been spritzing my Hanukkah bush religiously with Manischewitz, per your instructions, for an entire year, and it still hasn't sprouted gelt. What am I doing wrong?

Dear Disappointed,
Your first mistake was listening to me.
You're welcome,
Dear SJG,
My friend told me if I bury a dreidel in the backyard, I'll wake up to find a giant Golden Menorah.  Should I try it?
Susie Shamash

Dear Susie,
It couldn't hurt.
You're welcome,
This cat scares me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

That's Just Silly

Oh, Turkey Day!  Oh, Turkey Day!
Don't act like a schnorr-ah
Scarf all the stuffing
Beg for some more-ah
Gather 'round the kitchen
We'll give you a knife
You carve the birdy, ignore your  ex-wife

And while we are fressing
The oven is burning low
Who made this pie, who started that fight?
To remind us that you need to go-oh-oh-oh!
Who made this pie, who started that fight?
To remind us that you need to go

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Oh, Turkey, Turkey, Turkey

I have a 12-pound turkey
I brined you for eight days
And when you're moist and ready
I'll gobble you Thursday

Oh, turkey, turkey, turkey
I brined you for eight days
And when you're moist and ready
I'll gobble you Thursday
Impress your people with a festive Hanukkopia

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Girl Astronaut

Last night, hubby and I watched "Gravity" at home.  I know, I know, it's better in 3-D in a movie theater. The problem with that? You have to leave the house. You have sit with people you don't know and probably wouldn't like if you did know them. At home, I know everyone.  If they talk, I can shush them.  At home, I can pause the movie, go to the bathroom and when I come back, I haven't missed anything. At the movies, I can get up and go to the bathroom and when I come back, I've missed the whole point of the movie.  Why do I have a copy of "Gravity," you ask?  Because I am special.  So, we watched "Gravity" and I was riveted, I tell ya.  Riveted.  Floating around space with George Clooney. Please. How bad could that be? You get the greatest view of the universe, plus a former Sexiest Man of Alive checking every few minutes to see if you're alive. But then, things go a little bit south for George and Sandy B. That's all I'll say, in case you haven't seen it.  Sandy B. does a wonderful job projecting panic from outer space.  I totally bought that she was 100 percent petrified.  And yet, after watching "Gravity" at home, I realized I'd made the right career decision.  Oh, sure, NASA tried to recruit me many times. They wouldn't leave me alone. They told me I had the right stuff. They said I'd make a bitchin' Girl Astronaut.  It was very flattering. "Listen, guys, I'm honored, but I just don't see it. The thought of the space suit makes me claustrophobic. I don't think I'd do great up there with the planets. Better you should ask someone else a little more qualified. But thanks for stopping by." So, the SJG passed on the opportunity of a lifetime. I decided to reach for the stars from my safe perch, tethered to a computer.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bambi Meets The SJG

Let's check in with the bamboo, pre-flooring, to see how it's acclimating.  Bamboo needs a couple days to breathe before installation.  But then, who doesn't?"
"How's it going, Bambi?"
"I've asked you never to call me that."
"Forgive me.  What do you prefer?"
"Ralph sounds more macho."
"I guess that'll do all right.  So, you settling into your new environment, Ralph?"
"It's nice downstairs.  The temperature's just right."
"Don't get too comfortable.  You're going in the bedroom upstairs."
"Makes sense.  I was hot stuff in the forest."
"And now you're about to get laid... permanently."
"Oh no, you didn't."
"Yeah, I went there."
"Is it too late to request another house?"
"You're stuck with us, literally."
"Mother!  Mother!"
"Your mother can't be with you anymore.  I'm your mother now, Ralph."
"In that case, call me Bambi."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sexiest Jew Alive

It can now be revealed that People Mag gave me, the SJG, the honor of informing Adam Levine that he is, in fact, the Sexiest Man Alive.  The people at People heard about the slight crush I've been harboring on the rock star, and generously handed over the task with a warning.  "We don't trust you to do it in person.  Call him."  Our conversation went something like this:
"Hello, is this the hot boychick to whom I am speaking?"
"Mom?  I asked you never to call me this early."
"It's not Mom, Adam, it's me, the Short Jewish Gal."
"How did you get my number?"
"I have my ways."
"You sound cute.  But I can't date you.  I'm engaged."
"Mazel tov."
"She's a model."
"Big surprise.  So, listen, handsome, I've got some news."
"Oy, I hope no one's hurt."
"This is why I love you.  You're such a nice guy."
"Awww.  I love you, too."
"Can I have that in writing?"
"So, guess who's the Sexiest Man Alive?"
"You.  A Jew.  They picked a Jew as Sexiest Man Alive."
"Sweet.  I've wanted this since my Bar Mitzvah."
"I'm kvelling on your behalf."
"You're welcome.  Come for brunch sometime.  I make a nice spread."
"You have to ask?"
"Cool.  Text me your address."
"I'd rather tattoo it on your arm with my teeth."
"Dude, this just got weird."
"I went one bagel too far."
"Shalom, SJG."
"Keep in touch."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Excuse Me, Aren't We Related?

Excuse me, aren't we related?
Why yes, I believe we are!
At last, Sherman Oaks has turned chilly.  So why not make chili?  Last night, I went for it.  I made Giada's white chili,  as opposed to Rachel Ray's turkey chili, which I made on Halloween.  Important to branch out every now and then, don't you agree?  Well, I must tell you, Giada's white chili was positively D.Vine. I've never cooked anything with Swiss Chard before, but Giada has converted this Jew.  From now on, the SJG is a worshipper of this big leafy cousin of the Spinach Family .  Without further delay, I give you the recipe.  Just don't tell Giada.  She's still upset with me for dissing her wheat pasta concoction a while back. 

 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground chicken
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon fennel seeds (next time, I'm using less)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces (I tore them recklessly and threw them in the pot and made a big Swiss Chard mess)
11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Early Retirement

Hold on to your season tickets.  I'm about to make a sports reference. This is a rare occurrence in the SJG blogosphere. Are you ready? Here it comes: In sports, they retire Jerseys. I applaud this trend.  I would like to see a certain TV plot device retired, too. In the past few weeks, two of the shows I watch for Escape Purposes, as opposed to Intellectual Stimulation, have used this plot device. I can always see this plot device coming a mile away, and it makes me cranky. Last night, I was subjected to this plot device again, while watching "Revenge."  Don't judge me.  It's a fun show full of pretty people who dress nicely and have tons of money.  Nothing wrong with that.
Funny, she doesn't look queasy
All was going well until the main character Emily Thorne, who isn't really Emily Thorne, she's Amanda Clarke, faked that she was pregnant so her cute fiance Daniel, who sounds American but is really British in real life, wouldn't cancel their wedding just because he's in love with his old girlfriend, the one he almost killed when he was drunk. Emily needs to marry Daniel so she can fake her death and frame Daniel's evil mother Victoria Grayson, who in real life is Madelyn Stowe, a real sweetheart, according to my inside sources.  Emily even showed Daniel a fake ultrasound to prove she's pregnant, even though she isn't. Another character on another show I watch, "Nashville," is also pretending to be pregnant.  I would like to go on record as saying that faking pregnancy on TV, let alone in real life (although, I've never met a woman who would fake morning sickness, have you?) is the dumbest plot device, unworthy of my time. It's been done, people. Let's retire it, like a sports Jersey.  Let's put it out to pasture, once and for all. Please, no more lame-ass fake pregnancies. I feel strongly about it.  Who's with me?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dad, Where's Your Car?

So it hasn't been the greatest week, let's just get that out of the way.  Tuesday, the nice Jewish occupational therapist at Cedars recommended Driving Cessation.  Why sugarcoat it?  Why not cut to the chase and say, "Stop driving, it's enough already."  Too easy.  That job fell to the family.  How did that go?  Not well, but thanks for asking. The Old Brooklyn Jew we adore so much is stuck in denial.  Driving cessation?  Please.  Not happening.  To prove it, he went out on Wednesday and lost the car.   Lost it.  As in gone.  My brother John informed me of this latest development via text. "Dad lost the car.  Going to pick him up now and look for it."  My first reaction: God willing, you don't find it.  This is divine intervention.  This is what we've been waiting for.  God getting involved, prompted by Mom, who's been watching this whole fiasco unfold and said, "We'll take it from here."  Literally... take the car.  But no.  The resolution didn't play out in Biblical fashion.  "We found the car," John reported.  "@#$%!" I said.  "I was hoping it was stolen, never to be seen again."  Is this a healthy SJG response?  Well, let me think about it.  Maybe not.  By Thursday, the Old Brooklyn Jew started to veer ever-so-slightly.  Denial gave way to sadness.  Acceptance?  No.  Not there yet.  By Friday, he was taking a cab to have dinner with his longtime lady friend.  How did that go?  Not well, but thanks for asking.  This is a work in progress.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Say What?

1.  Oy:   Reserved for mild frustration.  "Oy, I can't remember if I took my anti-depressant."
2.  Oy vey:  Mandatory for pre-panic.  "Oy vey, I can't remember if I left the stove on."
3.  Oy veysmere:  Excellent for self-flagellation.  "Oy veysmere, I'm such a porker."
4.  Oy freakin' gevalt:  Best uttered in the presence of animals:  "Oy freakin' gevalt, Dusty, what is it with you and cat poop?"
5.  Oy effin' vey:  When nothing else will suffice.  "Oy effin' vey, there's a squirrel in the kitchen."

Friday, November 15, 2013


When I woke up this morning, here's what popped into my head:  "Oh, no, I left my lunch in my locker." I wonder what else I left in there. Maybe a few notes from friends. Notes were very big back then.  Getting a note from a friend, especially a new friend, was thrilling. There was a special way of folding notes, too.  They arrived in a triangle shape.  I wonder if I could still fold a note like that now. Notes were much cooler than text messages.  I wish I'd saved one.  Too bad I can't go back and check my junior high locker.  I still remember the combination.  32 - 14 - 0. Wait. Was that my bike lock combination?  32 - 14 - 0.  32 - 14 - 0.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's my locker combination.  Then again, it could be my bike.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

You're So Invited

With the richness of tradition
and the promise of
fewer mortgages payments
we invite you to share
a special moment in our lives
when our Tuscan-style mini-mansion
with the solar panels
and the eco-friendly
bamboo flooring
celebrates its Bar Mitzvah.

To help us pay for all the expenses
we've incurred in the past 13 years
we welcome large sums of cash
checks, credit cards, and of course,
Israeli Bonds.

An elegant nosh will follow the ceremony.
So please, don't be a stranger.
Bring whatever you've got in the fridge,
stop by any time you like, we're home,
and help us celebrate this joyous event.

Black-tie optional
with a hint
of how much
you're giving us.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Unwise Sayings

Go to bed with wet hair, wake up looking like a goofy monkey.
The early bird poops on more cars.
As you kvetch, you whine.
A mother picks up more socks with two hands.
Nice short gals have trouble reaching tall shelves.
A neighbor who blocks your driveway deserves a dented door.
Brag all you want, I stopped listening an hour ago.
That store bought coffee cake didn't fool anyone.
If the shoe doesn't fit, don't buy it.
Never eat anything your dog wouldn't steal off your plate.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Turn Left At Oy Vey

As opposed to what?
Today I'll be making an early morning outing.  Did I say early?  Make that very early.  I'm leaving the house around 6:15 to pick up a certain someone who needs to be somewhere by 8.  Maybe I should leave at 6, just in case. Try to contain your jealousy.  I know, I know.  You wish you could join me at Cedars for the much-dreaded driving assessment.  No, not mine.  I've just about figured out how to parallel park.  "It'll be fun," I keep telling my dad.  For some reason, he doesn't believe me.  "They're going to put you in a simulator and test your vision and your reflexes.  It'll be just like when you were in the Air Force, training to be a navigator."  He's not buying that, either.  He thinks his driving is just fine.  After all, he took the DMV test again a few years ago, and he passed.  But listen, things have changed a bit.  The navigational skills have gone slightly south, and I say that with love.  Better to be safe, etc.  And so, today's assessment.  Doctor's orders.  I keep telling him that, too.  Not that he believes me.  At 92, the Old Stubborn Brooklyn Jew wants to keep driving.  He's not ready to admit defeat, not willing to give up an iota of independence.  I get it.  I applaud it.  It drives me crazy. These days, my brothers and I find ourselves in tricky paternal territory with no road map to guide us.  All we can do is proceed with caution and wait for the light to change. So please, wave hellody if you see me drive by.  I'll be the one listening to NPR, wondering where everyone's going so early in the morning.  Did I say early?  Make that very early.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hey, Sisyphus

"Hey, Sisyphus.  It's the SJG.  Been a while since I checked in.  What's up?"
"A very big rock."
"Again with the rock?"
"It's a living."
"Dude, your biceps must be amazing by now."
"I'm pretty buff."
"So, what else is new?"
"Not much."
"You sound a little down, Sis."
"Sometimes, I feel like I'm just not getting anywhere."
"I hear ya.  We've all been there.  Don't give up."
"I'll try not to.  Some days are better than others."
"So, you got any plans for the holidays?"
"Same ol' same ol'."
"Listen, stop by if you want a nosh."
"Love to... if I ever make it off this hill."
"I'll save you a latke, just in case."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oh, Nathan

There he was at the counter, paying for his food at the hip cafe where hip Valley-types like the SJG go.   I know, I know.  Hip and Valley -- two words that don't necessarily go together.  Hip and the SJG?  Please. I was born hip.  Oh, fine.  No, I wasn't.  But you'll have to trust me on this.  There are a few hip hangs in the area of Studio City, and Nathan Fillion, star of "Castle," a show I don't watch, but many others do, was just a few feet away from me.  I won't lie, it gave me a thrill.  I blurted out, "It's Nathan Fillion.  I love him," to Carla.  "I just saw him in 'Much Ado About Nothing," I told her, as though this celeb sighting had been prearranged just for my benefit.  Of course, I'd already told Carla about my home viewing of "Much Ado."  But I do tend to repeat myself.  Carla knows this about me.  She's very tolerant of my many foibles.  Plus, she was a little too focused on Nathan to worry about my repetitious ways. Just then, I saw her reaching for the iPhone.  "I have to tell my sister," she said.  "She loves him."  A series of excited texts flew back and forth, from the Valley to the Westside, with the following sentiment: "I'm dying!  Dying!" "She wants me to take a photo of him," Carla said.  "No," I scolded.  "No, no, no.  We are not paparazzi.  We must retain our decorum." Yeah, okay, I didn't say that.  I said this, in between giggling like a little girl.  "Yes!  We just have to find the right time." Well, friends, that time presented itself a while later, when we were leaving. There he was, Nathan, Nathan Fillion, star of "Waitress," and other things I can't remember, walking away from the cafe, with a pretty woman.  Where did she come from? She hadn't been there at the counter.  Hmmm.  We didn't need her in the shot, but unless we shoved her out of the way, we were stuck with her. Carla whipped out the iPhone, took a backside shot of Nathan and the anonymous woman we already resented, and sent it off to her sister.  The text came back, full of exclamatory glee.  "Dying!  Dying!!!"  Oh, Nathan.  Next time, Nathan, walk backwards so we can get a better shot.  And please, ditch the pretty woman.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It Is What It Is

"It is what it is."  One of my favorite go-to non-statements.   So highly philosophical.  So vague and yet reassuring.  According to some very sketchy research (mine), "It is what it is," was first uttered by Mr. Leo Schwartz, the first Jewish caveman, who came back home after a long day of hunting and gathering, to find his priceless rock collection gone. All those big rocks he'd schlepped into the cave by himself.  He'd planned to retire on those rocks.  How many backaches had come from lifting and dragging those rocks into the cave?  Plenty.  And this was before the birth of heating pads and Extra Strength Tylenol.  So, where did those rocks go?  A priceless rock collection doesn't just get up and leave on its own.  Leo looked at his rock-free cave, and sighed.  "It is what it is," he said.  Leo was screwed.  But he wasn't an idiot.  He wasn't about to track down the vicious gang of thieves that stole his beloved rocks.  Leo still had a few good years left in him.  He preferred to live those years in one piece.  Leo's wife Yetta wasn't quite as accepting.  "What the hell does 'it is what it is' mean?"  "It means I'll go out and get us more rocks."  The next day, Yetta filed for divorce.  I'm with Leo Schwartz. I couldn't have said it better myself.  Sometimes, we're just eff'd and there's nothing we can do about it. Things happen. Why?  Who knows? There's no explanation.  It is what it is. You can either go out and get more rocks, or drive yourself (and everyone around you) completely meshuggah. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gimme An "L"

Not an "E"
Why do people want to put an "e" on the end of my first name?  Why, I ask you, why?   Must I make up a song about it?  I thought you'd never ask.

I'm Carol with an L, not Carole with an E
Subtract that letter, if you wanna get with me
Why you put an E where an E don't need to be?
I'm Carol with an L, not Carole with an E

Oh fine, we can't all be Carole King.  Tell that to my brother John.  In an email, he referred to me, his longtime sister, his only sister, as Carole.  Carole with an E!  Naturally, I was offended, outraged, mortified and appalled by his careless, hurtful neglect.  After everything I've done for him!  It was a slap in the face, a kick in the tush.  What else could I do but respond in a cutting, unsisterly way? "How could you? How?  Could?  You?" His response, I must tell you, was a little weak:  "That was auto spell check. Whoops." "Don't let it happen again, Jon," I replied, "or I will take legal action." Important to threaten the ones you love every now and then, don't you agree? Keeps them in their place.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You Have Two Messages

I used to love my answering machine.  I used to love the blinking light that meant someone had called me with life-changing information. Maybe even two someones.  That little blinking light gave me such a lift.  It was the precursor to getting "likes" on Facebook.  A "like" on Facebook releases positive endorphins, raises self-esteem and offers validation.  Facebook is an on-going Sally Field Oscar speech.  "You like me, you really like me."  But let's get back to that blinking light, the so-called point of today's blog that I hope you'll "like," but if you don't, keep it to yourself, I'm a delicate soul.

The SJG traded in the answering machine years ago.  Now, we have a tricky voicemail system that involves lengthy codes and witchcraft. Now, I don't even know if I have a message until I pick up the phone and hear a harassing beepity-beep-beep that does nothing for my self-esteem .  If I get the code wrong, which happens often, an automated lady comes on and chastises me.  "What's wrong with you?  That's not the code. Try again, loser."  By the time I finally get my messages, I'm so agitated, so emotionally depleted, I don't care who called me, I just wish they'd leave me alone.

And yet, every now and then, the messages are worth cracking the complicated code to hear, especially if they're from my father, who'd be the first to tell you that lately, certain basic tasks aren't going as smoothly as they once did.  Every day involves a search for something lost.  A pair of glasses.  A cell phone.  A chunk of memory.  I'm learning to roll with it.  What choice do I have?  So when I heard the following messages, I had to laugh.  The tone of his voice told me he found it funny, too.

First message, received at 12:04 p.m:  "This is your father Ben.  I can't make the dryer work.  I'm pushing the button and nothing is happening.  What am I doing wrong?  Drop everything you're doing right now and call me back.  I'm a desperate man."

Second message, received at 12:06 p.m.  "This is your father Ben. Please disregard the previous message."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy What?

Have you bought your "menurkey" yet?  
There are still graveyards in my neighborhood, skeletons hanging from trees, candy wrappers on the ground.  Halloween is over, people.  Move on.  Let's clean this place up and make way for the next holiday: Thanksgivukkah. Such a clunky phase.  It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it says what it has to say, which is this:  The first night of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, a rare occurrence, a once-in-a-lifetime collision of calories and tradition. Pilgrims. Maccabees. Turkey-shaped menorahs. Cranberry-chocolate cakes and cookies. Sweet potato latkes. Oh, dreidel, dreidel.  Oh, gobble, gobble. Make it stop.  No good can come from this. My stomach is still digesting all the candy I promised myself I wouldn't eat.  I'm not sure I can handle this next onslaught of food. On the plus side, my sons will be too busy stuffing their faces to notice that the first night of Hanukkah went by and they got bupkis.  Sometime around the eighth night, if we remember, we'll slip them each a nice check, and say, "Go spend. You're welcome."

Thanksgivukkah.  Not a fan.  I would've given Hanukkah first position out of alphabetic, not to mention, Hebraic respect.  Happy Hanukkey! See. That just sounds better. You get the Hanukkah. You get the best part of the turkey.  What more do you need?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Paula Goes To Israel

There's nothing the SJG likes better than to give a shout out to another SJG.  So it is with a high degree of kvelling that I say Mazel Tov to Paula Abdul, my favorite wacky dancer-choreographer and former "American Idol" judge.  The ex-Laker Girl schlepped to Israel to explore her Jewish roots and plan a belated Bat Mitzvah.  When this Bat Mitzvah is taking place is a little vague, but according to news sources, she hopes to rent out the Western Wall and decorate it tastefully with a disco ball.  You go, girl.  "Beyond being Jewish, I've always found myself to be very much in tune with spirituality," she says.  Who knew?  "I feel very grateful coming to Israel now, where as a woman I know who I am a lot more than even 10 years ago."

When the SJG made a pilgrimage to Israel some 35 years ago, it never occurred to me to reserve the Western Wall for my Bat Mitzvah.  I wanted to meet cute Israeli boys, float in the Dead Sea and eat hummus. But then, I dropped out of shul at the tender age of 12, after what I'll lovingly refer to as "the incident with the assistant rabbi."  Let's just say it ended badly.  Apparently, dancing the Funky Chicken across the bima during services was a no-no.  Lesson learned.  And yet, I think Paula would've appreciated my moves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jewish Time

It's true.  Jews keep time differently than other people.  Here's how it all starts.  You sit in temple, fidgeting.  You're a kid.  You want to get out of there, already.  All you keep hearing throughout the service is this:  "There was evening, and there was morning."  Let's be honest.  It's a little vague.  You figure, "Great, I'm stuck here for eternity." A few specifics would be helpful, but do you get them?  No.  "It was 6 p.m. and Moses said, 'My God, these tablets are heavy.'"  You don't get that.  "It was 7:15 a.m., Eastern Biblical Time, and King David turned to Queen Esther and said, 'You call this breakfast?'" You don't get that, either. This explains so much, historically, that I'm surprised I haven't been asked to help craft an updated Old Testament.  I'm convinced this iffy approach to time has permanently rejiggered the internal Jewish clock to one, and only one setting:

Run.  Run for you life.  Keep running.

This makes for an anxious people.  It is and has always been the Jewish objective to get up and get the eff out of whatever situation we're in that might be a little dangerous. Seriously. Why stick around?  Get. Out.  Now. This internal setting may also explain why Jewish time tells us to arrive early, so we can sit there and worry till you finally show up, then make some excuse and leave early, so you have to sit there, feeling bad about yourself.

This internal setting may also explain why even if we're not running late, we still call and tell you we might be late.  We know we're not going to be late, but we'd like to punish you, somehow, for always keeping us waiting.

So. If I'm ever late to meet you, start worrying.  I'm never late. Something is wrong. Please notify TMZ, immediately.

Which brings us back to the main reason for today's Torah portion. Tonight we turn the clocks back one hour.  Not me.  I plan to turn the clock back two hours.  That way, I'll be even earlier for everything and can spend even more time fretting about my own existence and maybe yours, if there's still time.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Quest for Beauty

The quest for beauty:  does it ever end?  Based on my own scientific research, uh, no.  It's on-going.  Luckily for me, I have my own beauty team at my beck and call.  Sadly, the numbers have dwindled.  There used to be four involved with the maintenance of the SJG.  A while back, my facialist quit in a huff.  "I can't deal with these pores any longer," she said.  "Plus, it would be nice if you paid for my services."

"Isn't my delightful presence payment enough?"  The answer, post-expletive:  N followed by O.  Next to go:  my pedicurist.  "Your toes insult my intelligence," she said in Vietnamese.  "Plus, I told you no freebies after the first visit.  It's been three years without even a tip.  A girl needs to eat."  Fine.  Be that way.  Somehow my face and my feet have held on to their assigned positions without the help of experts.  I handle my own punim now.  I do my own damn pedicures.  No one has made a citizen's arrest yet.  My 'do, however, requires constant attention.  

Once dubbed "baby fine thin kaka hair" by an ex-member of my team, this short, choppy, flyaway mess baffles the majority of licensed professionals.  Many have thrown their scissors in the air and bolted in fear.  Only Renee has the courage and skill to make my hair obey.  There are potions and chants, candles and a lengthy ceremonial dance involved.  Beyond that, it's anyone's guess how she turns my impossible hair into freakin' art.  By the time I'm out the door, the spell breaks and my hair reverts to its usual state of disaster.  While I'm in Renee's chair, trust me, I look amazing.  The second member of the team:  Lenny.  He colors me, he highlights me, he puts me into bankruptcy.  I'm so worth it.  Wouldn't you agree?  The Beauty Team.  Two strong and holding.  It's a big responsibility, keeping me gorgeous, month after month.  Thanks, guys.  You done good.