Friday, August 31, 2007

Harry Potter and the Very Hot Jews

"Cheeky Blog’s Jewish Obsession Strikes a Funny Bone of Contention."

When we read the title of that article, we thought for sure they meant us! Cheeky? Check! Blog? Check! Jewish Obsession? Pass the Paxil!

Turns out the blog in question is Gawker, which made some not very funny Jew jokes while hashing out a recent controversy. Then, when called on it, the blog made more Jew jokes, in that defensively "ironic" way that clues you in on the author's vague understanding of what irony might be. So, Jewish Daily Forward: The next time you're looking for a cheeky blog with a Jewish obsession you'll do a little better, no?

Oh, the aforementioned controversy? It's about Israeli booksellers breaking the sabbath in order to put the final installment of Harry Potter into the country's hot little Hebraic hands the very nanosecond it was released. Apparently, certain among the Orthodox made a big-ass mountain out of what seems to us a tiny little shmidge of breakin' da law of God. I mean, it isn't like the youth of Israel were indulging in murder or mishandling holy scrolls or surgically reconstructing their foreskins. But we, like, don't really get the Orthodox thing anyway, so who are we to say?

Well, duh, we're us, so we're gonna say lots.

First of all, the fact that Harry Potter is responsible for more tsunamis than that fucking butterfly in China with its insistence on flapping its wings cannot be denied. Oh, the endless issues people take with poor rich happy blonde J.K. Rowling — for not being literary enough, for not making kids read other books besides her own, for spreading the word of Satan, for spitting on the Sabbath. We at VHJ disapprove of her excessive use of the adverb, but otherwise have found her work charming and benign.

Until recently. Recently, those fanciful books have become an interesting study in perceived-anti-Semitism sensitivity. As in: If enough people tell you that something is anti-Semitic, can you avoid seeing the hate yourself?

The verdict: not entirely. It bears mentioning that we have no idea how J.K. really feels about Jews. We've never met her. We concede that this could be a case of widespread misunderstanding. All we really know for sure is that she thinks goblins are very culturally different from magicians.

And yet, reading Harry Potter has come to feel eerily reminiscent of college Women's Studies classes. By the end of a good lecture, every billboard in town seems to be screaming sexism, sexism, sexism. Every magazine is exploitative. Every miniskirt is a lightning rod. So too with The Noses Of Harry Potter.

I (Sera) have a dear friend, a hip and secular tribesmember, who insists that Harry Potter is deeply anti-Semitic. He believes the goblins described therein are based on caricaturized Jewish moneylenders, and equates Rowling with Mel Gibson in her obvious hatred of our peeps. Here is a quote from the email he sent me in response to the above-mentioned article:

HOWever, lost in this gerbil-in-a-wheel argument is the true problem with the harry potter books. it's not when they go on sale, young sera, but what's inside...

Believe me when i tell you, the harry potter books are so stereotypically and virulently jew hating as to be dickensian in scope.

the bankers, sera. they're small, grunting, hunchbacked little men with big noses and crooked teeth who care about nothing but money. sound familiar?

I initially scoffed at his assertion. "In your head!" I cried. "Paranoid! Lay off the wacky tobacky!" I exclaimed.

Until I cracked open the last tome and got to this description of possible-bad-guy Severus Snape wherein Rowling calls Mr. Evil (Or At Least Gross) Dude "hooknosed."

Something in me bristled. "Oh REALLY?" I thought. "Is that the shorthand for untrustworthy? Gosh, it's been a while since I've read that word. Probably because people avoid it because it seems, how you say, not very cool in light of the long history of anti-Jewish propaganda featuring evil noses that hook?"

Having been sensitized to the possibility of anti-Semitism, I zeroed in on that, my stomach turned ... and I didn't really enjoy the rest of the book as much as a wanted to. Those banker goblins pissed me the fuck off. I tried to let it go. I mean, I really like the Harry Potter books, and I've been looking forward to the finale for eons. I tried to decide it was nothing. But, in the end, my sudden fear that all you non-Jewish folk hate the shit out of the Jews won. Bad for reading pleasure — but, hey! Good for blogging!

My imagination, all this? I dunno. All I do know is, I'm leading a by and large sheltered, Jew-friendly existence here in LA-LA land. I interact with lots of secular Hebes, my social circle is a multi-culti gaystravaganza, and nary a spraypainted swastika confronts me on my daily dogwalks. I'm able to pretty well convince myself that anti-Semitism is way '06, that it's just not of the now, that it's o-vah, babycakes. And then someone points out a perceived, subtle prejudice, and when I behold it ... well, at the very least I understand a little better what it must be like to walk around being all foreign or not white or lesbionic. Casual jabs coming at you from all sorts of unexpected places, like bland TV or children's books.

(Okay, so this Amber chick — from Cameras-In-A-Locked-Whorehouse reality show "Big Brother 8"— is a raging fucktard, but still, it's the obvious bland-TV example of anti-Semitism. I found this girl's words shocking. And it hurt my feelings, Amber. I think you should apologize. Or henceforth wear a t shirt that clearly warns viewing audiences that you're an uneducated bigot with bad hair. Oh, wait, everyone already sees that last part.)

Here's what AIN'T my imagination. The people that commented on the article linked at the start of this here entry? Some of those bitches need schooling. Look at this:

Bill said:

Perhaps if Jews were not the 'average New York media professional', and some other ethnicities were allowed to amass in any real numbers in media professions; they would be ridiculed as well. But we'll never know, will we? I guess Jews will have to be satisfied with world domination, and work on mind control in their free time (if they wish).

Thu. Jul 26, 2007

I'm not here to get all indignant. I hear it speeds up wrinkles, and I'm too vain for that shit. But, um, allowed to amass? Excuse me? Now, I know I happen to be a Jew working in a media profession. But I nevertheless must call not only foul but also asshole on young Bill, if that is in fact his real name.

Bill, my darling? If there were some kind of Jewish media mafia holding deserving goyische pros — like, I assume, yourself — down? In order to hoist less-deserving Jewlicious pros like Simon and myself up, up, up? Then God knows the VHJ would have gotten some kind of phone call by now, inviting us to come, like, control the media. And I promise you, had we gotten such a call, we'd have blogged about it by now. We're nothing if not blabbermouths. Forget invited - I'd gatecrash, if only I'd heard of such a thing, which I haven't for some reason that I assure you is unrelated to my hardy Hebrew heritage. Perhaps I should call some of my most intelligent friends to ask them to explain it to me. Oh, wait — they're struggling Jewish media professionals. It's been hard for them to break in. That's odd. You'd think they'd get in quick on that Chosen Folk Fast-track. Oh well.

At least we've got our world domination to fall back on.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Just Think About It—No Rosh

There will be dancing, courtesy of incredibly hot DJs from both coasts.

There will be drinking, with cocktails augmented by thematically appropriate sponsor Pom Wonderful.

There will be schmoozing, courtesy of Jews and their Chai-curious friends.

There will be incredible nosh from new catering phenom Provision L.A.

It will go down on Tues., Sept. 18 at The Echoplex, in the basement of the fabulous Echo in Echo Park.

It is Dip't in Honey, a dazzling night of Rosh Hashanah debauchery and introspection co-sponsored by Reboot, Very Hot Jews, Pom and local public-radio giant KCRW.

Another thing the event will feature: New Year's resolutions from you. So submit 'em, baby! Let's hear what you've got. How are you going to expand your horizons, deepen your soul, soften your heart and harden your resolve? These Jews wanna know.

So mark your calendars, put Yellow Cab on speed dial and burnish your dancing shoes, and we'll see you on the 18th.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Breaking: Simon Gets Older, Hotter.

The Very Hot Jews are in need of Advil and a fatty breakfast this morning, my friends, because last night we celebrated the birth of our masculine half.

Many knuckle-bitingly attractive Jews (and reasonably appealing Gentiles, we might add) attended the festivities, several bacon-themed gifts were bestowed, and a methuselah of mysterious mixed beverage called "Geisha's Kiss" was consumed.

We thought you might enjoy some photographic proof of Simon's ever-deepening hottitude. Snaps by smoldering Hebe Josh Pickering. (Just goes to show you, your mama was right when she said, "Honey, some things you leave to professionals.")

Oh, and the mustache, while slightly reminiscent of the trademark lip-garnish of He To Whom We Stick It, is emphatically not a Hitler 'stache. If we cut it in half, maybe. As it is, it's a hirsute hybrid of Inspector Clouseau, You Bet Your Life-era Groucho and a smidge of Edgar Allan Poe; on this chart, it probably falls somewhere between "box car" and "business man."

Let's just say that a ride on this puppy'll cost you more than five cents.

Speaking of which: When Sera wears it? Extremely porn-o-rific. Who knew she bore such a striking resemblance to generously endowed tribesman Ron Jeremy?

Unsurprisingly, Sime's Semitic goddess wife looks positively edible rocking the Coffee Strainer Of Hotness:

We wanted to photograph each party attendant In 'Stache Delicto, but it stopped sticking. Plus everyone was in the hot tub by then.

We don't offer this slideshow merely as proof that the Yin and Yang of VHJ are genuine pals and more than a partnership forged by Hollywood dealmakers, or to vouchsafe that our communication is not always by IM. We present these photos as a tribute to the most important thing in life: Having a loving mishpuchah.

Because when you come right down to it, there's nothing quite like having friends who just "get you," friends who can detect your tiniest eyebrow movement and chime in with "I know, right?"

This is what it's all about. We are blessed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why The Internet Doesn't Suck.

Hi, Sera here. I just spent the last two weeks thinking about how the Internet really sucks ass.

I think it's because I reached saturation about Britney Spears, finally, after all this time. I got to work, did my usual morning round of the gossip blogs, and there was a picture of her, out at night in clothes she hemmed with a pair of cuticle scissors, wig askew, gum lodged in the edge of her maniacal laugh. And I had this sudden moment of clarity: that young woman is seriously mentally ill.

I mean, here's a thought exercise: Think of a dear friend or family member, someone you adore. Got it? OK, now picture that person engaging in all the same droolingly oblivious self-destruction we've seen from Britsay Lospears et al. Horrific, right? Now imagine that your dear one's every intoxicated misstep is chronicled everywhere for the amusement of the general public, with whole industries springing up based on poking fun of said beloved person as he/she swirls down the drain.

Some among you might wonder what took me so long. Others might be shaking their heads, thinking, "That Sera, what a goodhearted sucker. Brit's just drunk and acting out."

Whatever: two Jews, three opinions. I'm just saying that, as someone who has never met Britney Spears, is not a mental health professional, and is in no other way qualified to make this assessment, I believe the chickie has biopolar disorder. She has that look about her. I've seen people having that kind of episode. They tend to do a lot of drugs and shave their heads and stuff.

And when I realized that without serious help the only people fucked-er than Brit are her kids, the whole enjoyment-of-trash-blogs went sour for me. Not that I stopped looking. I just felt nauseous and unsatisfied while I smoked my fix of Perez-- who, by the way, logged something like 8 million hits the day Lindsay got arrested.

Let's not mince words: I'm in the fix-it cycle of tabloid addiction. The highs aren't fun anymore, because I'm having them at the expense of people who are actually in serious trouble. For a long time, I was cool with that, because they're driving drunk in fabulous clothes surrounded by a hilarious entourage. But now, I'm going back to a well that's run toxic.

I thought about this here blog. How it's so much easier for me to discuss Amy Winehouse's jailhouse tattoos, dime-sized pupils, nickel-sized ass and white-hot death wish than pick a new Jew topic of substance to write about. I mean, Amy's Hebraic, but she's not exactly an example plucked from from the median average of our people. And, oh, how I'd rather discuss deeply non-Chosen preacher's daughter Ashlee Simpson's surgery than the kerfuckety Middle East clusterbang going on even now. And I though, well, I suppose I'm part of the problem. Might as well throw in the proverbial blogging towel.

Then, while clicking vaguely from celebretard site to celebretard site on my embarrassingly long list of Bookmarked Fave Sites That Prove My Liberal Arts Education Was For Naught, I accidentally clicked postsecret. I played the little video below, and I rememebered that the Internet, when used for good, has as-yet-unmeasured power.

So, enjoy the vid, ruminate about how alike all us weird weird weird odd strange Jews and non-Jews are, and check back in soon. We've got a thing or two to say about the fucktard anti-Semites on Big Brother 8.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Bringing the Funny

A lot of y'all have been asking Sera about how to get into TV writing, because you envision a candy-flavored world of inspiration and fame and nice clothes and nonstop validation from strangers.

You are mistaken, of course; like any other comparatively gainful employment, writing a show involves a lot of squinting at your monitor with a feeling in your gut that's not unlike the grind of threshing spikes, along with a lot of weird politics that leave you distinctly uncomfortable; bouts of sleeplessness; prodigious ingestion of alcohol; occasional feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, friendlessness and fatness; and periodic bouts of homicidal rage.

And that's on the good days.

Now, we know that many of you apple-cheeked show-biz aspirants won't be deterred in the slightest by such non-utopian testimony, and that's just fine. Just fine. But the really good news is this: You can stop asking Sera for advice, because your nice Jewish pals are gonna give you the hook-up.

That's right: We're going to tell you where to send your comedy script so that influential professional funnyfolk will look at it and give you feedback.

Oh, that is so sweet, but please, put your clothes back on. A simple thank-you will do.

Here's the deal. There's this thing called The Un-Cabaret here in La-La Land. It goes down at M Bar in Hollywood and features comedians and comedy writers doing a very intimate, personal kind of performance. It's not about setups and punchlines; the Uncab performers get personal, finding the funny (and sometimes the poignant, and more often the foignant) in the most difficult, challenging areas of life. It's always inspiring, even when the featured performers aren't comedy superstars like Margaret Cho, Patton Oswalt and Julia Sweeney or writers of shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sex and the City and The Simpsons.

Uncab was founded by two amazing people, Beth Lapides and Greg Miller. They came here from New York with an idea that comedy could be deeper, more meaningful and just plain better than the dude-with-microphone-in-front-of-brick-wall monotony that had prevailed since the '80s.

Soon their events grew so popular that they expanded, offering Uncab Labs for fledgling comedic performers, putting out CDs, gathering brilliant un-aired pilots for exhibition via The Other Network, and much more. Beth herself is a wonderful performer and writer and motivator; during Uncab nights she serves as a hilarious foil to the featured artists. She writes haikus and does yoga and is, in general, what you'd call a peach. Greg is a brilliant producer, organizer and evaluator of comedy talent, not to mention a funny, wonderful guy.

Together they run a little thing called the Other Network Comedy Contest. For a nominal entry fee (and please, no tirades about entry fees — no one owes you a freakin' contest, you whiny baby, and by the way, if you want to be in TV you'd better get a thicker skin), you can submit your stuff if it follows the following Other Network guidelines:

- Can be an original piece of writing or a 'spec' of a TV series that has aired

- Any comedy format on paper, tape, disc or file (sketch, short, animation, monolog, etc.)

- Multiple submissions & re-submissions OK (but please do a serious re-write!)

- Material that's been optioned by another network is NOT OK (this contest is about opening a pipeline for people who don't already have access to the business).

Once your work has been received, it'll be evaluated by people who actually know what the hell comedy is, because they make their living at it. This is not the Kamp Komedy Kollege of Ha-Ha. Recent winners of the contest got scripts into the hands of key execs at Comedy Central and got notes from showrunners who said they'd like to be attached to the projects. Yeah, baby. Others had their work reviewed by agents at William Morris and UTA, managers at Brillstein-Grey and TV comedy wizards like:
  • Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, SNL, Tenacious D)
  • Cindy Chupack(Sex and the City, Everybody Loves Raymond)
  • Brent Forrester (The Office, King of The Hill, Undeclared)
  • Rob Cohen (The Ben Stiller Show, The Simpsons)
  • Jon Kinnally (Will & Grace)
and tons of others.

These folks don't promise you riches and fame. But no matter what happens, you'll get genuine feedback that actually means something from people who know what the hell they're talking about.

Nu, enough already. Just go to the contest page and follow the instructions. Just don't forget us if you get, like, all famous and junk.

Full disclosure: Very Hot Jews are an affiliate of the contest. Call us pisher.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Whither Hotness?

A bittersweet incantation by Simon

So, my birthday's coming up and I'll be 43 years old. And I co-write a blog called Very Hot Jews and lately we haven't talked very much about hotness, though we have talked about stuff like interest-free loans and TV writing and repairing sewage pumps.

I've started to feel a little guilty (I know, try to stifle your disbelief) that our little Jewblog wasn't really living up to its name. After all, do people really come to this site to read about our petty foibles? Do we have regular readers (or at least momentary visitors) in Iran and Saudi Arabia and China and Norway and Tuscaloosa because we write so tellingly about the myriad headaches and meager rewards of modern existence? No, I say! Folks from all over the world click over our way because they long for tall tales of Semitic hotness.

And yet. And yet.

Well, here's the thing. As the hooded specter of advancing age swings its razory scythe over my form, graying my hair (fuck me, even the chest hair), inscribing ever-deeper crevices into my once-pillowy flesh, I feel my cherished sexual vanity dissolving like a bar of Irish Spring in a volcano.

I know! Unbelievable, right? But it's a thing with guys. Bear with me.

Look, I'm an educated man. Probably too educated. I recognize that most of the capering image-circus known as pop culture is, for reals, a vast truckload of perfumed pigshit. Do I understand that the seamy fakeworld of advertising cultivates our insecurities the way ants corral aphids? I write ad copy for a living, fucker! Do I realize that all publicity photos are airbrushed, that perfection is a matter of lighting and camera angles, that the glistening fleshpots in all torrid love scenes are daubed with Vaseline by pot-bellied union guys? I do!

And yet.

I want to feel hot like the hot people on the hot shows! I want to be a sparkling object of desire! I want my wobbling midsection to be taut as a snare drum — not as a result of agonizing daily crunches but simply because I'm young and supple, though I consume multiple cheeseburgers at a sitting! I want that terrifying avatar of a double chin to revert permanently to singlehood!

Most of all, I want the look from babes in the street. I want that hungry slide of female eyes over my chest. I want to be openly fantasized about on girlblogs. I want to be surreptitiously phone-surveilled and texted about by desiring co-eds. Is that so terribly much to ask?

Cut to shot of once-chunky Irish Spring bar, now a pale-green sliver.

I am at some upscale shopping mall in a commercial neighborhood that bears a striking resemblance to Pasadena. At every turn there are fair-haired hotties who sport the all-knowing mien of the sophomore. Their skirts are microscopic. Double entendres stretch enticingly across their T-shirts. Their satiny feet are shod in flip-flops made of solid gold. They smell like gardenias and vanilla.

And I look down and realize that — for reasons having to do with my having been too preoccupied to do laundry of late — I am wearing shorts with black socks.

This is, to employ the technical term, the attire of the gross old guy. And if these terrestrial angels notice me at all, it is to mark my shorts and black socks with a snort of derision.

Not, as they say, too hot.

Here's the question caroming around the spongy interior of my brain like a queasy drunk: Have I passed the point of no return? Am I consigned to either invisibility or gross-old-guyhood from here on out?

And the answer should itself be a question — something like, Why, silly man, do you give one solitary shit whether or not you're appealing to a bunch of nattering girls at the mall? And yet.

I see all the forty-plus guys on TV who still look great, like David Duchovny, who's in a new show all about being a writer of a certain age swimming in pussy, and the little caged monster of diminishing self-regard shrieks Why not me? When the answer should be: That is a TV show, a fiction to stoke the dreams of premium-cable subscribers.

This is the madness that causes men, silly, vain men of a certain age who used to be objects of lust, who were once a coveted demo but now see the gilded surface of their erotic confidence flaking away and revealing a dull, lead-colored redundancy, to plunge headlong into midlife crisis. You know the story: One day, receding hairline or limp dick or, heaven forfend, black socks with shorts. Next day, ill-advised cherry-red convertible in which to troll for pneumatic girlfriend.

I have stared into this abyss, people, and been rescued. Hallelujah.

How? By love, of course. Because I share my life with someone who celebrates my birthday all month long, who sees me stumble into the muddy pool of my own wounded ego and pulls me out.

She looks at me and, apropos of nothing, says: "You're hotter now than you've ever been."

And you know what? Fuck it. She's right. Happy Birthday to me.