Coming Out of Left Field

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Catie Curtis helps prove that "It Gets Better"

Usually I don't post YouTube videos here, but I'm making an exception for this. One of my favorite musicians, Catie Curtis, and her wife Liz have just made their own "It Gets Better" video":



As someone who didn't grow up with any gay role models (they were pretty scarce in Western Pennsylvania), and is now happily married (at least as far as Massachusetts is concerned), I can also attest that things definitely do get better -- though they obviously have a ways to go. Hence, Catie's video and the other videos at YouTube's
"It Gets Better" channel.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Shopping advice

The other day was Purim dress-up day at preschool. One of the kids came in this great astronaut outfit, and I complimented him on it and said I wished I had one too. The following dialogue ensued:

Child: My safta (Hebrew for grandma) bought this ... but you have to go to a mall near you.
Me: A mall near me?
Child: Yes, a mall near you, and you have to go to all the stores.
Me: All the stores? Even the ones that sell chocolate?
Child: Yes, all the stores. And you have to get up very early and drive there. And if no stores have it, you have to go to a store not near you.
Me: How early do I have to get up? 2 a.m.?
Child: 0 a.m.!
Me: Wow, 0 a.m.? I'll have to bring some food with me, because I might get really hungry waiting for the mall to open.
Child: Yes, you have to bring breakfast and lunch and dinner with you.
Me: You know, maybe I should call the stores first and see if they have it. So then if they didn't have it, I wouldn't have to get up at 0 a.m. and go to the mall.
Child: That's a good idea!

I later told the child's mother, who appreciated the story as much as I did!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Some holiday humor

With Jewish holidays in full gear, it seemed like a good time to pass on a list of food "definitions" that's been circulating in e-mail. Enjoy!

~snip~

Latkes
A pancake-like structure not to be confused with anything a first class health restaurant would put out.. In a latka, the oil remains inside the pancake. It is made with potatoes, onions, eggs and matzo meal. Latkas can be eaten with apple sauce but COULD also be used to comb your hair, shine your shoes or lubricate your automobile. There is a rumor that in the time of the Maccabees, they lit a latka by mistake and it burned for eight months. What is certain is that you will have heart burn for the same amount of time It tastes GOOD, but will stop your heart if the grease gets cold..

Matzoh
The Israeli's punishment for escaping slavery. It consists of a simple mix of flour and water - no eggs or flavor at all. When made especially well, it could actually taste like a cardboard box recycled from the Tel Aviv city dump. Its redeeming value is that it does fill you up and stays with you for a long time. Sometimes for too long and it is recommended that you eat lots of prunes with it. If the prunes do not work, try castor oil....or even gun powder as a last resort before a surgeon has to mine it out..

Kasha Varnishkes
One of the little-known "delicacies" which is even more difficult to pronounce than to cook.. It has nothing to do with varnish, but is basically a mixture of buckwheat and bow-tie noodles (not macaroni). Why a bow-tie? Many sages discussed this in the Old Testament and agreed that an ancient Jewish mother decided, 'Son, you can't come to the table without a tie' or, G-d forbid, put an elbow on my table?' If Mamma said "bow ties', you better believe that's what the family used, even if they had to invent them on the spot.

Blintzes
Not to be confused with the German war machine's: 'blintzkreig'. Can you imagine the Jerusalem Post in '39 with huge headlines announcing: 'Germans drop tons of cheese and blueberry blintzes on Poland - shortage of sour cream expected.' Basically this is the Jewish answer to Crepe Suzette. They are actually offered on the menu at the local International House of Pancakes, but no one there knows what the hell they are. In ignorant bliss, they often serve them frozen from the blintz factory. No modern American woman will take time to make them if she can find a grocery store selling frozen ones. (Assuming she can find someone in that store that knows where they are stored.)

Kishka
You know from Scottish Haggis? Well, this ain't it. Remember what I say if you should go to the highlands. You do not want to eat Haggis....no matter how much Scotch you've downed. In the old days they would take an intestine and stuff it. Today we use parchment paper or plastic (made in China ). And what do you stuff it with? Carrots, celery, onions, flour and spices. But the skill is not to cook it alone but to add it to the cholent (see below) and let it simmer for 24 hours until there is no chance whatsoever that there is any nutritional value left. The gravy can be purchased in bulk at all southern Bisquitville drive-thrus.

Kreplach
It sounds worse than it tastes. There is a Rabbinical debate on its origins. One Rabbi claims it began when a fortune cookie fell into the chicken soup. Another claims it started in an Italian restaurant, and the owner yelled at the chef, 'Dis apasta testes lika krep!'. Either way it can be soft, hard, or soggy and the amount of meat inside depends on whether it is your mother or your mother-in-law who cooked it. Tastes best if made in a Manhatten deli where they serve the soup by the barrel load.

Cholent
This combination of noxious gases had been the secret weapon of Jews for centuries. The unique combination of beans, barley, potatoes, and bones or meat is meant to stick to your ribs and anything else it comes into contact with. Precusor of the invention of Superglue. At a fancy Mexican restaurant (kosher of course) I once heard this comment from a youngster who had just had his first taste of Mexican fried beans: 'What, they serve leftover cholent here too? A Jewish American Princess once came up with something original for guests (her first and probably last cooking attempt at the age of 25): she made cholent burgers for Sunday night supper. The guests never came back. The dogs ate the burgers....but later threw up and had to be taken by ambulance to the pet emergency room.

Gefilte Fish
A few years ago, an Israeli politician had problems with the filter in his fish pond and a few of his fish got rather stuck and mangled. His son (5 years old at the time) looked at them and asked 'Is that why we call it 'Ge-filtered Fish'?' Originally, it was a carp stuffed with a minced fish and vegetable mixture.. Today it usually comprises of small fish balls eaten with horse radish (pronounced, 'chrain' to rhyme with 'insane', which you have to be to inflict it on your innards) is judged on its relative strength in bringing tears to your eyes at 100 paces.The VERY NAME OF THIS DISH FRIGHTENS FULLY GROWN AND SOPHISTICATED GENTILES and they actually run when it is merely mentioned.

Bagels
How can we finish without the quintessential Jewish defense weapon, the bagel? Like most foods, there are legends surrounding the bagel although I don't know any other than it was first discovered when unsugared donuts accidentally petrified. There have been persistent rumors that the inventors of the bagel were the Norwegians who couldn't get anyone to buy smoked lox. Think about it: Can you picture yourself eating smoked salmon or trout on white bread? Rye ? A cracker? Naaa! The Israeli Defense Forces research lab looked for something hard and almost indigestible which could take the spread of cream cheese and which doesn't take up too much room in desert-maneuvers-ration kits. And why the hole? The truth is that many philosophers believe the hole is the essence and the dough is only there to indicate where the hole is placed. It remains an eternal existential discussion topic. Meanwhile the Gentiles discovered they like them and are now getting as fat as the Jews eating at McDonalds.

~snip~

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mitzvah moments -- and a Sox game!

Received: My wife got a pair of Red Sox tickets as an end-of-year class gift -- and shared them with me!

Given: Helped sort and deliver food for Family Table; donated school supplies to Housing Inc.'s annual backpack drive.

Planned: Hope to raise funds for the 2009 Jimmy Fund Walk (virtually, since we plan to be at Family Table the actual day of the walk).

As for the Sox game, it was fun, particularly the five-run inning where the Sox rapped out hit after hit. The only lowlight: leaving the game 6-3, spending an hour getting back to where we'd parked the car, and turning on the radio to find the A's had just tied the game, 7-7, on the way to a 9-8 loss.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Redefining identity ...

... or, thanks to the kids at summer camp, having it redefined for me:

Me (at lunchtime, to a child): Look, you have Chinese noodles for lunch. Hey, I'm Chinese, and those are Chinese noodles, so I can eat them.

Girl #1: No, you can't! You're not Chinese!

Me (puzzled): Um ... why?

Girl #1: Because you live with [soxfanwife]!

Girl #2: Yeah, and you don't speak Chinese! I speak Chinese! Ni hao!

This leads to a number of girls taking turns saying "Ni hao!" (hello in Mandarin) to each other. A boy had his own objection to my self-definition:

Boy #1: Chinese is a store, and you're not a store!

Soxfanwife (to Girl #1): Well, if we're not Chinese, what are we?

Girl #1 (shrugs): I don't know.

Soxfanwife: Maybe we're Jewish.

Girl #2: Yeah! You're Jewish! And I'm Jewish too! (leading to "I'm Jewish!" "I'm Jewish too!" all around the room)

Have I mentioned that my wife's class always has the funniest kids ever?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mitzvah moments

The first entry in a continuing series, now that I'm officially Jewish:

Received: Friends helped out in various ways with our recent chuppah ceremony; other friends made a donation to the preschool in our honor.

Given: Donated a bunch of used books to More Than Words, and bought some more.

Planned: The wife and I will volunteer at Family Table's upcoming distribution day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More stories from preschool

I'm used to the kids at school asking whether Kate and I are sisters, since they know we live together and share things (and they apparently can't see race). But it's still funny anyway when it happens:

Kid: Excuse me, [soxfan], do you and [soxfanwife] live in the same house?
Me: Yes, we do.
Kid: Is your mom the same as [soxfanwife's] mom?
Me (trying not to laugh): No, she's not.
Kid (mystified): Why?
Me: Well, [soxfanwife] and I aren't sisters, we're married.
Kid: Oh!

The other day I was also invited to someone's house for a playdate:

Kid: You can come to my house, [soxfan].
Me: I'd like that, that'd be really nice.
Kid: Yeah, you can come and vacuum and play basketball and look at our air conditioner!

Seeing as how, between my conversion (yep, I'm officially Jewish now) and everything else, we haven't had a whole lot of time to just be social, this sounds pretty good to me!