Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We Need to Talk.

Nîmen hâo, Beijing!

Howdy, Plano, Texas! Bienvenidos, Coro, Venezuela! Hej, Speke, Sweden! Shalom and Greetings, Tel Aviv, London and Indianapolis!

OK, yes, we’ve been digging on the VHJ blog statistics, and kvelling just a smidge because folks from all over the planet (Aloha, Honolulu!) are peeping our humble Semitic scribblings.

You know how it is: You work on something and you put it out there, and you’re happy if a few of your friends get a chuckle out of it. But when people all over the world (Namaskar, New Delhi!) check it out, well, sue us if we’re excited about it.

Khush amadeed, Tehran.

Tehran? Really?

We don’t know if there are Iranian Jews out there reading up on their American mishpuchah, or non-Jews seeking a perspective outside the locally available offerings. Perhaps a few were drawn to the title but expected something a tad more, shall we say, explicit.

(It should be noted here that while Simon was instantly tickled to hear that Iranians were reading this, Sera experienced a momentary shock of fear. What if someone high up in some funadmentalist group is reading this and basing their opinions of all Jews on our oversexed, nasty-minded, sailor-mouthed, inebriated, über-über-liberal, evil-TV-writing Jew asses? We're totally going to be responsible for some kind of attack! It should further be noted that is also Sera's first thought when she sees that we have readers in Mississippi. First comes the vision of a guy in a pointy white sheet sharpening a pig-sticker by the glow of the Very Hot Jews homepage ... then comes the realization that it's statistically likelier that (a) whoever is reading our blog, anywhere in the world, is awesome, because our readers by and large are unusually awesome, and also (b) the people who actually do hate Jews and want to attack us probably don't need a joke-tastic blog for motivation. But it should also be noted that the infantile, superstitious view of Hollywood Jews as sacreligious libertines who dine on the blood of fair-haired children is not so very far from the vulgar, dumbfuck stereotypes we've casually absorbed about people in other parts of the world. So, to reiterate: If you're reading this, wherever you are, whatever you are, you're awesome. And we thank you.)

But here’s our official statement – especially for the DOJ watchdogs monitoring the Internets for seditious signals, whose little ears perked up at the mention of Iran: The Very Hot Jews are all about peace, love and understanding. Put another way, we think dressing humans up in uniforms and giving them bombs to throw at other humans is so fucking stupid it makes Britney Spears look like Stephen Hawking. It makes Zalman King look like Martin Scorsese. It makes the hosts of Entertainment Tonight look like Roland Barthes. Bombs are for rap songs.

When we hear anyone (let alone our fellow Jews, who really should know better) talking blithely about dropping bombs on people, we’re fully horrified. In fact, we suppress the urge to do a double-take, like, are you serious? Did you just say we should drop a giant explosive device on a location where people are? Did you just justify that dumb-ass idea by saying some other genius in the past did it, so that justifies it? What the fuck is wrong with you?

Bombs don’t just magically fall on the heads of bad guys – they kill kids in front of their parents, parents in front of their kids, scores of shopkeepers and bicyclists and people in cafes and doctors and their patients. Forgive us if we're preaching to the choir here. Yes, it seems like a no-brainer, but nary a week goes by where we don't hear some geopolitical wizard in a Starbucks line waxing rhapsodic about his or her revolutionary idea that we can stop war by killing people. It is the primary reason that we eschew cable news. Well, that and the fact that the commentators actually get spittle on the camera lens. But even the sound bites that make it onto the Daily Show are enough to make us want to tear off our own skin in exasperation and despair.

Everybody seems to have a plan for the Middle East that involves more explosions – it’s the one thing most of the participants seem to agree on. Call us old-fashioned, dewy-eyed idealists, but we tend to think that if we communicated with each other, the worldwide tension level might dissipate slightly. (Ahlan, Amman and Riyadh!)

OK, straight up? Now that we've clarified the necessity of everybody sitting down and, like, opening up to each other over some baba ghanouj and Diet Fanta, we should put our cards on the table and admit that we’re a little nervous. Because we’re about dialogue, but the stakes seem incredibly high.

We thought this might be a good time to stop just marveling at human stupidity and give some clear and concise pointers to the powers that be. We realized there was much that we did not know about Iran and its honchos, so we hit up Wikipedia, that fountain of truth. We expected to find little to nothing in common with various and sundry highest-ups over there who have been known to deny certain events that occured in our families' recent history. But boy, were we surprised. Turns out we have so much in common we'd probably be insta-matched by the love computer at!

You know how you meet somebody and you totally hit it off right away? You admire their blazer, and they compliment your shoes. And they say, I'm totally obsessed with my blog, and you reply, no way — I'm obsessed with my blog! And they’re like, my birthday’s October 28, and you’re like, omigod, that’s my sister’s birthday! And they go, I have a Ph.D in transportation and engineering, and you go, no way, I’m from L.A. and we need that! And they say, I was mayor of Tehran, and you say, what a coincidence, my mom once knew the mayor of L.A.! And then they go, the Holocaust never happened, and you’re like, um … what?

Yes, we’re looking at you, President Ahmadinejad. Seriously. You gotta cancel that shit, along with that tired line of garbage about wiping Israel off the map. We know you don’t really mean it, because you also talked about how much respect you have for Jews. The fact is, we know what it’s like when a President says something incredibly offensive and stupid and hurtful while playing to his base.

But our President has an excuse: He’s a blithering fucktard. What’s yours?

Remember when you told the BBC that you had nothing but respect for Jews? Well, we choose to believe this is the real you. You can't blame a lot of our friends for being skeptical, given all that Holocaust denial and wiping-you-know-who-off-the-map nonsense. But maybe you were just going through a difficult phase. Under a lot of pressure, sleep-deprived, maybe hitting the Xanax a little hard? You're listening to the wrong people. You've read your history; you know the way to be a player over the long term is to broker agreements, not drop antisemitic bullshit.

Prove us right, bubby, so we can get back to that enchanting conversation about your blazer and our shoes and the engineering of urban traffic.

We saw a news story today that says talks between the U.S., Iran and Syria are finally going forward. Great news! Remember to speak slowly and clearly, so our guys can understand.

(The news is so awesome, it even makes up for the other major news story of the day, that contract talks have completely broken down between Grey's Anatomy and angelically breasticled shiksa goddess Katherine Heigl. Grey's. Come on. I know you fear that if you give Katie a raise you'll have to give every homophobe and homo in the cast a raise, but she's the eye-candiest little weeper in a cast full of nails-on-chalkboard whiny-ass bitches. You should be slipping her and Sara Ramirez some extra cash just for assiduously avoiding the highly infectious TV disease of skeletal lollipop-headedness. Pay the bitch, would you? Also, we don't want to hear it about budget, since you are clearly shooting on the set of a daytime hospital drama circa 1983 and it shows. You're making House look like a science-fiction movie.)

And President Ahmadinejad, don't pretend like you don't watch Grey's. We know what you're going to say: It's totally manipulative, and a lot of the characters are poorly developed, and Katherine Heigl's ravishing ta-tas are, like, the only reason to tune in. But we also know you're hooked. We just know it, and so does the love computer. And don't try to front like you don't have time to watch it because, like, you're entering into serious, complex negotiations with the world's only remaining superpower.

We can read you like a book: You're gonna TiVo that shit.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Obligatory Very Hot Oscar Post

Last night, the Very Hot Jews indulged in their annual celebration of the pat-your-own-back-iest night in Hollywood. Sera brought a bottle of Chandon, Simon provided slightly burnt vegetables and perfectly prepared (read: ordered-in) Caesar salad, a comfy couch and a big-ass TV. Julia, Very Hot Wife Of Simon, wore a fetching striped pirate cap and obligingly researched our every question (Sera and Simon: "Who is this Randy Stone who died two weeks ago, causing Jodie Foster to mist up during her introduction of the Dead Guys segment?" Julia: "Why, let me just Google him here. Hold on one short moment, won't you? Ah yes, Randy Stone. Producer believed to have provided the sperm that generated at least one Foster Junior.").

The Internet and TV at the same time? Sacre bleu, the future, she has arrived, n'est-ce pas?

All in all, pretty good Oscars, right? The MC was engaging; the musical numbers were amusing; Christ, even Al Gore was funny. Ups to Ellen for saying that without Jews, blacks and gays there wouldn’t be any Academy Awards (and therefore, implicitly, no reason to corset yourself into a Vera Wang gown … it’s over now, girls, so eat a freakin’ sandwich). So apart from the grisly spectacle of a few actresses who looked like they’d been whittled from tree branches, it was a better-than-average night.

You will be unsurprised to hear that we got tearful not once but twice during the telecast. By the end of the night we were as pliable and emo as a claque of drunken housewives at a Steel Magnolias/Grey's Anatomy cryathon. Simon is fond of remarking, as a trailer for the latest factory-assembled chick flick draws to a close, "My vagina is weeping. Pass me a tissue; I need to dab." But even he couldn't conceal the occasional lump in his throat during the Oscarcast.

So it goes without saying that Forest Whitaker got us kinda choked up, what with his assertion that he'd not only love on this fantastic moment of Best Actor-ness for the rest of this life, he'd do his damnedest to lug the statue — spiritually if not physically — into his next one. Awesome sentiment, Forry, but did you not get the memo that Oscar winners don't have to reincarnate? Score a gold one in this life, sup with Odin and Thor for all eternity.

Earlier in the evening, Simon and Sera were not yet sloppy with sparkling wine, but merely tipsy. More like slurringly optimistic. Sera in particular felt invested. She does love to see a big girl win an Oscar, even if said zaftig Ms. arrives for the festivities wearing the top half of a baked-potato wrapper. Oh, Jennifer Hudson. Banish that giant, giant gay man who helped you pick out that first-wave Battlestar Galactica jacket-oid thing. We know he, like, means something in fashion. Of course we know that — we read Vogue on the crapper same as everyone else, but still. Mr. Leon Talley is known for showing up in an entire bear's worth of fur and a giant LV-emblazoned manpurse of supreme Russian-mobster-wife unsubtlety. He's too much woman for you. Put down the shiny snakeskin. Don't go into the light.

Anyway, the moment that most interested the VHJ et entourage (i.e. Julia, her Very Hot Sister Jo, and Jo's Very Hot Wiener Dog, Wiener) was the short film category. Wherein we were introduced to one Ari Sandel, director and co-writer of West Bank Story, an apparently delightful little homage to West Side Story in which a forbidden love between an Israeli and a Palestinian blossoms against a backdrop of rival falafel joints.

We've only been able to see the trailer and one scene, but it looks hilarious. Sandel's speech was especially moving (see the reaction of his mishpuchah here) and proof that a five-minute musical spoof with good jokes can often make a better case for peace and understanding than, say, an overlong, convoluted bummer co-starring Brad Pitt. We're just sayin'.

But let's just skip all the political rhetoric about the road map to Mideast disarmament and cut right to the chase, which is holy mother of Jebus, that Ari guy is hot. He is juicy and delicious. He is so totally the apple of every single, nice Jewish girl's eye after standing up there, all tall and cheekboney with good hair, and delivering that fantastic speech about we have no idea what because we were busy screaming that he shall be ours, ours, ours. At least that's the plan. Julia was the first to notice Ari wasn't wearing a wedding ring. Sera was the first to say she was gon' hit that.

(Simon would like you to know that while he agrees Ari is a perfectly presentable-looking young man, the intensely hormonal statement above is all Sera. Sera would like you to know that if you meet Ari, stay the fuck away from her man.)

Ellen's right: Jews — some very hot, some just, ahem, talented — played a huge role in building this garish empire of dreams. And we felt shiny-eyed with pride, not just because we're making world peace with our short-form comedic spoofs and solving the climate crisis with our tastefully appointed hybrid vehicles and cloth bags from Whole Foods. We felt hot naches for all the VHJs making movies (not least of them zaydeh supreme Alan Arkin, who scored his own old man gold man). And we felt grateful for one another and the chance to spend another Oscar night swilling bubbly in our PJs and watching it all float by like a shiny, pretty, crazy, eminently fashionable, utterly delicious baked potato.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Interview With The Very Hot Jew.

A story Sera wrote has been anthologized in The Best American Erotica 2007.

The main character is named Ari; draw your own conclusions.

Susie Bright is the BAE series editor. Do you know who she is? Put it this way: if the Catholic church were suddenly all about sex education, freedom, artistic expression and common sense? Susie would be canonized. Susie writes fantastic things on a regular basis in her site. She interviewed each author included in the anthology.

Susie checked out this here blog; long story short, lots of her questions were less about erotica and more about Very Hot Jews. Wouldn't you like to read yet more about us?

Thought so. The interview is riiiiiight here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dona Go There

(Brought to you by Simon)

Though I never went to temple except to go to my friends’ Bar Mitzvahs, I did regularly attend the local Jewish Community Center, as well as Jewish summer camp (yes, our parents voluntarily shipped us off to camps – it’s amazing that they didn’t come up with a different word, come to think of it).

We’d do arts and crafts, have our meals in a big mess hall, order candy from the canteen and probably engage in some other activities that I’ve blocked out. But I do remember that we spent a lot of time singing.

Thanks to the predominance of hippie counselors, we sang a lot of tunefully mellow pop songs by Joni Mitchell and John Denver alongside the occasional vigorous round of “Shabbat Shalom,” which was fine by me; unfortunately, the necessity of including other explicitly Jewy numbers meant we had to warble our way through a little ditty called “Dona Dona.”

Although it received some mainstream attention back in the day – due to an inexplicable rendition by Joan Baez – and remains oddly popular in Japan, where awards are given out for "best achievment in sadness," most non-Jews don’t know this song nowadays, which is just another of the myriad social advantages enjoyed by Gentiles. So let me school you: over a minor-key melody that can only be described as doleful, we dutiful campers crooned thusly:

On a wagon bound for market
There’s a calf with a mournful eye
High above him there’s a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer’s night
Dona dona dona dona dona dona
Dona dona dona don …

Over the course of this lugubrious composition we hear the farmer chastise the calf for being born a calf and therefore destined for slaughter rather than for the fabulous life guaranteed to "the swallow, so wild and free."

It will not surprise you that this song was written during the Holocaust, and that it is not much better in the original Yiddish. Suffice to say that singing it at camp always struck me as some kind of penance.

You see, the calf is the Jew, bound for the ovens! The farmer lugging it to market is the Nazi! The swallow is the rest of the world, indifferent to the Jew’s suffering … or perhaps it’s the Jew’s spirit, flying free despite worldly woes! However the allegory lines up, it sure is a bummer – presented in that overwrought, funereal Jewish style that has always made me want to go on a Manson-eyed shooting spree.

How does a self-conscious little Jew – with pale countenance, large proboscis and mournful eye – navigate the turbulent waters of puberty, amid his/her confident, tan, blonde and blue-eyed peers, those graceful swallows whose own childhood singalongs were invariably redolent of chestnuts roasting rather than the blood of sacrifice? Why must the junior Hebrew steep in such melancholy brine, that dark-ringleted brow heavy with existential knowledge, even as his confreres are discovering oral sex and the life-affirming cadences of AC/DC in the back of a Camaro?

In addition to cementing the morbidly low self-esteem of tiny Jews – who could not help but see their kinship to the mournful-eyed calf and therefore spend their lives implicitly viewing themselves as doomed hunks of veal rolling toward the blades of fate – "Dona" committed the equal crime of making us think Jewish music sucked ass.

Only later would I realize that Bob Dylan and Randy Newman and KISS and David Lee Roth and Carole King and Paul Simon were all Jewish, and take refuge in their rockin’ goodness, far from that fucking awful song.

Much as we decried the too-early Holocaust indoctrination routinely foisted on the moppets of Judah, we denounce the dreary solemnity of all calf-to-market recitations at summer camp, when wide-eyed youngsters ought to be yelping along with “Yellow Submarine” and gamboling in the noonday sun.

Friday, February 16, 2007

What Makes A Very Hot Jew?

This is a question the Very Hot Jews have been asking ourselves (when we're not too hung-over to care). One of the aims of our little blog is to bottle the lightning: to quantify for you, our dearest reader, the factors that contribute to hotness of Jew.

We're full-on scientific and shit. We're devising experiments and collecting data.

fig 1: Julianna Margulies: Jew, Very Hot.

Today, we're welcoming you into our lab. Grab a white coat and a martini, kick off your Jimmy Choos, and take a seat right there on the chaise by the piano. (Best lab ever, right? Well, duh, you're dealing with the sexiest scholars this side of that "atomic scientist" played by Sheen's hookerlicious ex-wife in that one Bond movie.)

So, did you Tivo that Oprah about The Secret?

For those of you who don't worship at the Altar of Winfrey, or hang out at the Bodhi Tree, or linger after Power Hatha Fusion listening to everyone talk about their special spiritual belief system and nodding absently whilst trying to catch the eye of Mr./Ms. Hot Yoga Bod Flavor Of The Week.... there's this DVD, and this book, and they're both called The Secret. Apparently, The Secret has changed roughly one zillion lives.

The Very Hot Jews wish for you to have the secret without spending 40 bucks, so here it is: Like Attracts Like.

Feel that for a hot second. Feel your like attracting other like just like it.

Do you feel it? Or are you just sitting there patiently, wondering why we'd bring up the latest hit repackaging of Quantum Physics for Dummies? If you are like us, you are doing the latter, except impatiently. So we'll get to the point.

If you are down with the principle of Like Attracts Like, you will be totally unsurprised to hear that the Very Hot Jews know a whole fuckload of smoldering specimens of Jewishness. Our little black book spontaneously combusted ages ago.

We hope that by turning the microscope on some of our loin-achingly smart, funny, cute, Jewy friends, we can discover the secret ingredients that cook up hot Jew. In other words, discover the Hot Jew Secret. (Somebody call Oprah quick, before Tyra beats her to us.)

And so, we present to you: a regularly irregular new feature called Profiles In Hotness.

Provided we get around to it, and providing our Very Hot Subjects are less hung over than we are, we plan to arouse you repeatedly with sassy little interviews of some of today's hottest Jews. Onward!

Francesca Lia Block: Profile In Hotness

photo by Luiz Calado, Very Hot Brazilian

Francesca Lia Block isn't just built like a supermodel, she's also a world famous novelist. Not that we need to tell you this, especially if you've been an even marginally book-minded teenage girl anytime in the past ten or twenty years. Sera'd read all of Francesca's books long before she realized that the hot chick she'd been ogling in dance class looked an awful lot like the author photo on the back of Necklace of Kisses.

Francesca is perhaps best known for her series Dangerous Angels, which chronicles the magical adventures of a punky L.A girl named Weetzie Bat. We are not exaggerating when we report that many people actually packed up and moved to Los Angeles after reading Francesca's descriptions of the canyons and the nightlife and the fantastic, fantastic hot dogs.

Not a Jew to rest on her laurels, Francesca keeps on popping out bestsellers. Get this: she's published 19 books. (Including at least one featuring a mermaid who gives blowjobs). So, yeah, all you writer types out there with your excuses and your writer's block and your whining over sangria? Shut up.

Francesca recently sat down to chat with the Very Hot Jews (by which we mean, she answered our email) on the subject of her hotness. Here's what she revealed.

Were you always a Hot Jew, or did you go through an awkward phase/convert?

Long awkward phase, but not necessarily anything having to do with Jewness.

When others praise your hotness, what particular attribute do they most often talk about?

Passion/compassion, dancing, fashion sense, ass, sexy writing.
[ed. note: she's not kidding about the ass.]

What do you believe is the key to your hotness?

See above.

Did you have a bat mitzvah? If so, what did you wear? What was the most embarrassing thing about it?

No bat mitzvah. When I was twelve I had a birthday party at The Great American Food And Beverage Company. The waiter sang a Cat Stevens song to me. I wore blue ditto's, blue zip-up sweatshirt and korkees. I ate a cobb salad. Does that count? Oh, I guess not. You have to be thirteen and not eat ham.

If you didn't have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, how did you get whatever knowledge you have about Jewish tradition?

My parents who considered themselves "cultural Jews," although now my mom is more a Tibetan Buddhist.

What kind of Jew are you, besides hot? Are you observant, just unusually witty and smart, or other? Please explain.

Lapsed (though I no longer touch ham). I also like to shmush the faces of people I love and make shhhushhy ushy sounds at them.

Who is your favorite Hot Jew, besides us?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Caron Post--Hot Jew Therapist. Cheryl Moss of Goda Yoga. Joanna Cotler, my editor. Rachel Resnick--half Jew, whole Hot. Hillary Carlip. Karen Hilsberg. Sara (Bett Williams' girlfriend, I don't know her last name).

Have you ever experienced antisemitism? If so, what was your very hot response?

In junior high I had a short German history teacher with hair slicked to the side who taught us about Hitler. I was convinced he hated me but now I believe it was what Sera's mom calls "transgenerational post-traumatic stress syndrome."

Was your family observant?

We ate latkes and brisket and lit candles on the high holidays. I kept my finger on the wine glass to catch my dad sneaking Elijah's wine.

How would you describe your religious or spiritual feelings, if any?

There are no words to properly explain but it has to do with creativity, love, poetry and babies.

Do you think your (hot) Jewishness played a role in your career path?

I'm a writer so I suppose I'm following in that whole "tradition of letters" thing.

How frequently do you pepper your speech and/or writing with Yiddishisms?

Rarely, bubbeleh!

Do you have children? If so, what specifically Jewish neuroses are you helping them cultivate?

High anxiety.

Give us a hint about your most secret Hot Jew Fanstasy.

Lately my Hot Jew fantasy has to do with a hot Brazilian ...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Terra Cognita: A Non-Prayer by Simon

This piece was written a while ago, so no condolences are necessary — the VHJ just wanted to wait a while before laying something this heavy on you. But we've gotten to know each other better and, well, we're ready, dear reader, to take it to another level.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

– T.S. Eliot

Someone has died and it’s three in the morning. I’m standing in the kitchen, listening to the micro-sounds of the wee hours – the contented hum of the fridge, the sparkly tink of the fluorescent light, some insane bird that should, by rights, have tucked its head under its wing ages ago.

This is life’s backstage, all dusty and functional and quintessentially elsewhere. I open the someday-we’ll-remodel-and-get-rid-of-these cabinet doors and gaze at a world’s tour of spices: Turkish oregano, Hungarian paprika, Jamaican allspice. I wish I’d traveled more. Objects, with their steely lack of affect, provide a helpful reminder that there is no big smiling presence in the sky. There is now and maybe tomorrow. Maybe not tomorrow.

I’m testing out my new embrace of Atheism in the face of loss. It’s surprisingly sturdy. I cannot beseech God to change fate, and the universe’s indifference to my entreaties doesn’t say anything about my worthiness or that of my prayers.

I am setting aside so many dusty myths, and it’s strangely liberating. Julia makes me throw away the things I’ve accumulated but don’t need any longer – this is a thing we do for people we love. We say that it’s alright to let things go. It’s a lot like faith.

I have not only let go of a deity or a caring universe or a cosmic oneness. I have also set adrift the idea of the spirit I’ve toted around. The spirit is not the seat of love or compassion or creativity because it doesn’t exist. We once believed that our connection to others was centered in our hearts, but the heart only pumps our blood. All those things are functions of our mind.

The mind loves, is compassionate, is courageous. Just so, what we call the spirit is a function of mind. The mind believes, dreams, redeems. The mind does it all, and yet we relentlessly downplay its importance. We’re told we’re too cerebral. We’re enjoined to place heart above mind, spirit above mind, even body above mind. But mind is where the action is. Mind is what separates us from creatures that only eat, shit, fuck and die. Mind invented “heart” and “spirit” but these are places within it, not terra incognita but home. It is time for the mind to rediscover its own primacy.

This is why I’ve set aside God and spirit and cosmic whatever. This is the reality I am now embracing: We have only so many days, but each one can be filled with countless real wonders. What miracles do you need? Ravishing flowers of every eye-melting hue push their way out of the shit-covered ground! Hummingbirds dip their needle-beaks into the cups of these flowers, iridescent in the afternoon sunlight! Your loved ones comfort you in your distress. Each year they celebrate your having been born. Your dog looks up at you when your world is in tatters and seems to understand.

There is red wine and bacon and Mozart and Stevie Wonder (well, at least pre-1980s Stevie Wonder). There is the gold-rose sky at twilight, and the Gold-Rose wedding in the banquet hall. There’s a nice lady in a leather apron to spank you until your cares fade away. I have her phone number if you need it.

You want miracles? You’re alive. Your blood circulates. Your mind makes complex decisions, navigates abstract ideas and savors hilarious wit (I make these assumptions because you’ve gotten this far in the blog without trying to put the keyboard in your mouth). Living, for all of its downsides, is preferable to not living. I can only argue for this point; I can’t prove it. But consider the extremes we’ll go to in avoiding death. Every sterling principle goes out the window. Hell, principles take a hike long before that – ever watch Survivor?

What’s this got to do with being a hot Jew, you ask? Where are the Hitler jokes, the sassy, self-referential pirouettes? Why should you read this melancholy twaddle, when you could be howling with derisive laughter at Evan Rachel Wood’s latest fashion gaffe on I honestly don’t have an answer for that, except to say that we Jews – yes, even the hot ones – are like this sometimes. But I might add that secularism, the life of the mind, is as much a Jewish religion as The Jewish Religion – and that now I’m wrapping it around me like a prayer shawl, and it’s keeping me warm.

I grow old … I grow old. I won’t get into how I’ll wear my trousers (and I will dare to eat a peach, though not metaphorically). Let’s just say that trousers will be worn, unless I forget. But my hair will turn ever more gray; my bones will creak and complain; my irritation at reality TV will spike, resulting in crotchety pronouncements about the sorry state of humanity shouted at ever-increasing volume so my spouse can hear them. If all goes as planned, I’ll continue to fall apart until the whole system is kaput. This too, despite my protests to the contrary, is a miracle.

Why? Because it’s what’s supposed to happen. Just as those gorgeous flowers wither and become mulch. Just as the jackhammer hearts of those glittery hummingbirds go still, making way for new hummingbirds. Those closest to us will depart – and while we will believe we feel their spirits, we will just be remembering with our whole selves.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

The Very Hot Jews planned not to wish you a happy Valentine's Day, because we think too highly of you.

In our not-so-humble opinion, Valentine's Day is about as fantastic as month-old bologna — an opportunity for creatively challenged, time-crunched lovers to buy each other mass-produced cards inscribed with tooth-achingly hackneyed verse. (We suspect, by the by, that said treacly messages are written by Third World sweatshop workers earning mere pennies per sentiment.)

It is no less than an agonizing grade-school popularity contest wherein Garfield valentine cards stand in for votes cast.

It is no more than a caloric orgy for the single folk who buy themselves a giant velevet heart full of chocolates because, damn it, they deserve one, even if they don't have some lame boyfriend to buy one for them that they don't even get around to eating because they're too busy having crazy, passionate sex with him until they both pass out (not that Sera would do that).

It is, furthermore (to the best of Wikipedia's knowledge), a commemoration of this canonized dude named St. Valentine from the Roman era who died rather than give up his passionate Christianity. So, yeah, not our cup of tea, and by cup we mean pint, and by tea we mean beer.

The Very Hot Jews were all set to ignore Valentine's Day, but then it occured to us: We love you.

Seriously, we love you. We love you for reading our weird little blog. We love you for posting your comments, and directing your friends to our site, and erecting small yet intricate shrines to us in your bedrooms. And even if you do none of the things listed in the previous sentence, we still love you. We love you just for laughing at us.

You know what we love you almost as much as? Bacon.

That is why we're taking this opportunity to share our love of bacon with you.

It probably bears mentioning that the Very Hot Jews are super-secular when it comes to the antique dietary laws of the Hebrews. No Kosher bacon, turkey bacon, vegan soy facon or other pig-free palimpsests for us.

Simon, in particular, believes that the manna from heaven referred to in Exodus must have rained down in crispy pink strips. He even subscribes to the exclusive Bacon of the Month Club. At times, his eyes glazing over slightly, he dreams aloud of "Judaism 2.0," with its more modern attitude toward Farmer John products and pornography.

Sera may be a more fickle lover of that sweetest of breakfast meats, but she did have an entire plate of bacon for breakfast this morning — so clearly, when it's on between her and bacon, it's on.

And so we present to you on this, the occasion of St. Valentine sitting in a jail cell waiting to get his head chopped off by the Romans, Simon's sestina on the tender and intimate subject of his Passion of the Pork.

Bacon Sestina

I’ve gripped with trembling fingers luscious pork
The golden, tender flesh of long-banned swine
Reflecting all the while upon the law
Forbidding me from chewing on this fat.
What hateful ancient dictum could declare
A fatwa on this salty meat so crisp?

Myself, I’d best try making my thoughts crisp,
With clarity proclaiming love of pork
And with my greasy lips proudly declare
My gratitude to tasty slaughtered swine
For offering so selflessly its fat
and savory self – there oughta be a law!

Well, so there is. But I’ll defy that law
And any that would bar me from this crisp
Deliciousness, bestreaked with tender fat.
Jehovah would not quarantine the pork,
Brave product of the noble trotting swine.
And this I’ll toward bright heaven now declare!

And as I scan the buffet, too, declare
That flavor is its own unbending law.
And so atop the pantheon go swine,
Their pinkly marbled pieces done up crisp;
A true apotheosis of the pork,
Illuminated manuscripts of fat.

All days, not just one Tuesday, should be fat,
We pleasure-loving creatures now declare,
With Mardi Gras beads fashioned out of pork!
For chewy, crunchy lust is now my law,
And never was a morning ever crisp
That lacked a heaping helping of the swine.

I’ll slap the face of any human swine
Who asks me if I want to chew the fat
But fails to serve me anything that’s crisp —
Then runs to his accountant, to declare
Deductions, loss and income, per the law,
Of which old Caesar makes his barreled pork.

Such metaphors do insult to this pork.
Let us instead heap blessings on the swine!
Speak not to me of the Mosaic law;
All renderings are useless, but for fat.
Let skillets, with their cracklings, declare
Your ban on trayf has been burned to a crisp.

O noble fat! O skillet's sizzling law!
Declare me but an acolyte of swine.
Crisp logic fails — all falls in thrall to pork.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Chicks With Balls: Why the Grammys Mattered This Year.

Your friendly Jews tend not to comment on the day’s events, following the frenzied calendars of publicists and TV producers. Do you expect a special Valentine’s Day entry, bubbling with cinnamon-scented love tips and bittersweet reminiscences of our fumbling, horny youth? You’ll be sorely disappointed, my friend. We barely even remember when the high holidays fall (thank goodness for that free calendar from the delicatessen, with its towering, food-porn photo of a pastrami sandwich).

And of all the greeting-card hypefests and pop-cultural ephemera about which we’re disinclined to blog, awards shows probably elicit the most resounding cry of “feh.” Or is it “meh”? They’re both good. But handicapping Oscar races and the sartorial digressions of cousin Selma are not our bag.

Well, that’s a lie – they are. We consume record-breaking quantities of sparkling wine, laugh openly at Teleprompter gaffes and rend our garments in lamentation when an overly self-serious, middlebrow epic wins Best Picture (as it usually does). We just don’t do these things in a public forum, because it’s unseemly. And because we’re too drunk to type.

So why are your smokin’ hot Semite pals devoting this steamin’ hot slab of online real estate to the guitar-slinging clown-off known as the Grammys? Because this year they made us think about how pop culture can actually make a difference — not by warbling sleepy ballads about suffering in the Third World, but by telling right-wing assholes to fuck off at the top of one’s lungs.

If you think we’re talking about the Dixie Chicks, you’re right. The point is this: They were fully vindicated after speaking the truth in 2003 and being shat on by a coterie of cowardly, venal, mendacious power brokers from Nashville to D.C.

They were tarred as Osama-coddling America-haters by the bloviating crypto-fascists of Fox News, shunned by the craven bootlickers in the country establishment (down whose collective throat Karl Rove’s titanium phallus was irrevocably jammed), quashed by the evangelical Resmuglicans who own the media conglomerate Clear Channel (ditto re: Rovecock) and — most painfully — pelted with illiterate death threats from mouth-breathing jingoists belonging (ever so loosely) to the “general public.”

It was an ordeal no one should have to endure, let alone three smart, lovely babes who sing, write and play like angels.

Now, of course, the Christian Louboutin is very much on the other foot.

About 70% of the public now shares the Bush-related shame that Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines so bravely voiced in 2003. Everybody wants this abomination of a war to be over. And the Chicks’ Grammy windfall – following a performance of the defiant smash hit “Not Ready to Make Nice” that gave us Jewy goose bumps – was a fiery rebuke to the cabal of creeps who once had this nation by the throat and who are now, we prefer to believe, scuttling back to their caves and bunkers in fear.

It wasn’t just Maines’ full-throated plaint about the despair of getting heartland hate letters but the look on her face when she sang “It turned my whole world around/And I kinda like it.” Hot.

Considering that most of the aforementioned Chicks-bashing ghouls are also casually anti-Semitic fuckwits, this is indisputably great news for the chosen peeps. But the VHJ are about humanity, baby. And this year’s Grammys offered several examples of humanity’s nascent comeback against religio-political tyrants.

Does that sound extreme, overreaching, pompous? Good; we’re not the freakin’ New Yorker. But as the Chicks say (and as we tunelessly wail along, with our earbuds jammed tight), we’re not ready to back down.

Pop culture — our pop culture — is routinely derided as a cesspool of iniquity, a pagan temple erected to the fleeting gods of fame and beauty. And much of this is deserved. But our songs and movies and stories and blogs can also, from time to time, shove a righteous thunderbolt up the oppressor’s ass.

To be sure, the Chicks are one such pop-cultural missile, but the political might and timeliness of their message shouldn’t entirely eclipse another powerful female presence. Shakira’s Grammy-night performance of “Hips Don’t Lie” (featuring a superfluous Wyclef) was volcanic, and these Jews could feel it reverberating around the world.

The song doesn’t really “say” much — it’s a sexy come-on — but that’s often when pop culture is truly powerful. The impact of Shakira’s performance was, in fact, all in the hips. Her joyous gyrations took place against a backdrop of Eastern tropes (she’s of Colombian-Lebanese descent, and her name means "graceful" in Arabic); each undulation of that mesmerizing torso seemed to strike at ayatollahs and Elmer Gantrys around the world.

Sex-positive, life-affirming, joyously, loudly female, Shakira’s performance was not a lecture but a burst of sunlight streaming into every moldy, woman-hating sanctum. Hips don’t lie, and that’s why hypocrites hate them.

So these Jews, so often mortified by the worst of pop culture, today celebrate the best. Because sometimes the best way to strike back at the legions of soul-dead power mongers who tell women to shut up, pray up and cover up is with a big chorus and a slammin’ beat.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Learn From This, Or History Will Repeat Itself And It'll Be All Your Fault.
(the fine line between education and fucking your kid’s head up)

A Public Service Blog Entry by Sera.

Imagine, if you will, coming to school on what you mistakenly believe to be just an ordinary day.

You are six, and you are in the first grade. This is because you got skipped up a grade. Years from now, you will really teach those extra IQ points who’s boss in one whirlwind semester spent smoking whatever gets passed to you at parties while simultaneously disposing of the sheet-and-a-half of acid your roommate forgot she stashed in the freezer. But at age six you’re reading at a fifth grade level. That’s because you found Daddy’s stash of Penthouse in the closet and couldn’t rest until you understood the captions. (What was “spelunking”? You had to know.)

Lest anyone think your special abilities will make life easy, never fear: You’ll be the brunt of every classmate’s prank during your six-year tenure as resident tiny geek at Yavneh Day School. (Turns out writing extra-credit poetry in Hebrew and shouting out the answers in geography class don’t automatically make one more popular. Maybe they should teach that.)

Your folks are working overtime to send you to this expensive private sanctuary of learning, because much as they’d like to enjoy a vacation once in a while, their priority is to fund your Jewish education. Why? Because they are sticking it to Hitler. Duh.

So there you are, in your unfashionable clothes and regrettable Supercuts kiddie mullet, ducking as the cool kids barrage you with extra-juicy spitballs, when the teacher instructs the class to line up to go to the chapel.

Why chapel now, on a Tuesday in the middle of the morning? Why, because today is a very special day. It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

At this point, I feel I should stop the narrative for a second and warn you: this isn’t the most hilarious blog entry in Very Hot Jew History. It’s a true story from my childhood, and while it’s occasionally funny, it’s mostly poignant. It’s foignant, if you will. I would like nothing better than to devote myself entirely to Jewy fart jokes for your pleasure, but this thing I'm talking about? It really happened. And this is my chance to warn you not to pull that shit on your own kids. I feel some slight actual responsibility – pathos even – towards the next generation of Day School students. So if you just want to hit the bong and snort up your milkshake laughing at our Luftwaffe gags, skip to the next entry. But if you care about children, maybe you should keep reading. The choice is yours. All right, carrying on (in second person so you, like, really feel it):

In commemoration of the day, a presentation awaits you. And so you stand obediently, waiting for the chapel doors to open. Teachers begin to make their way down the line, stopping to pin something to the shirt of each child: A Star of David cut out of yellow construction paper.

Unlike the gold foil stars affixed to one’s chirpy essays along with the de rigueur smiley face, these are bestowed with an appalling gravity. Any student caught attempting to remove his star because the pin is poking him in the chest receives a sharp teacherly reprimand: “They didn’t get to take them off, and neither do you.” Once every student is Juden-ed out like it’s 1939, you’re allowed into the chapel.

Which is decked out in poster after poster of concentration camp photos.

Okay, you’re six. This is the first you’ve heard about any of it. You’re supposed to take your seat but you’ve frozen, staring in confusion and creeping nausea at a black and white photo depicting a triple bunk bed housing no less than six skeletal and clearly very unhappy men in stripy prison garb.

Your teacher gently pushes you onward. You resist, pointing at the photo. “What’s that?” you demand. Your teacher replies that those skeletons are Jews in “concentration camps.” Oh, okay. You get it now. Jews have always been really into learning. This is the day where they warn you that if you concentrate too hard, you lose a lot of weight. So don’t be too ambitious. There are health risks involved in, say, going to camp, especially for really intense concentrators.

So then you sit in the uncomfy chapel seats and get lectured about this time which was after the dinosaurs but before Duran Duran – so, a while ago -- when this group of people called Germans went completely apeshit and decided to wipe us out. Trains and tattoos were involved. Also a ghetto, but not the kind with ghetto boxes. Maybe if you were blonde you could blend in, and maybe you could hide in someone’s silverware drawer for six years, but more likely you were killed. Killed in the ghetto by disease, or if not then in the train, or if not then in the camp, or if not then by the American liberators who didn’t know that chocolate kills people who haven’t eaten recently. Seriously, you have never experienced such horror as you feel right now, sitting in between two classmates who are taking turns kicking you in the legs, listening to this crazy shit.

And then the clincher: your principal gets real quiet. He uses his Three Day Suspension voice. And he tells you what amounts to this: it’s all on you. Yes, you, little six-year-old Jewish person. If you don’t learn and remember every single detail of this, it will all happen again. The Nazis will come back. He doesn’t specify how, but you envision B-movie scenes of hands bursting through the earth. SS zombies escaping their coffins to roam the streets of Cincinnati, eager to feast upon the tender flesh of your defenseless little immigrant family.

The moral of this story, in case you need me to spell it out for you, is this: lay off with the rated-R Holocaust scares while your children still have their baby teeth. Hitler ain’t gonna kick your door down tonight if you let your kid have a couple years of actual childhood. You can probably pause for a sec before you start filling their brains with images of towering piles of bulldozed corpses. They will understand soon enough how our people’s travails made it into the Top Five Atrocities of All Time.

Dude. Six. Six years old. SO uncool.

And if Der Fuhrer does pay you a visit, what difference will it really make if your child fully gets how much it sucks? It’s not like they’re going to be able to take Hitler on, Ultimate-Fighting-Champion-style. What exactly are you expecting – that they’ll repair to their flower-wallpapered bedrooms with the complete works of Elie Wiesel and a pair of nunchaku, emerging months later as Nazi-slaying commandos? Spare them. Just for a little while. I had nightmares for years after seeing those photos, and even postponed my requisite bout of prom-related anorexia for several weeks because of my deep-seated ambivalence about skinny Jews. Is that fair? No, it isn’t.

My suggestion is this: when they’re old enough to learn about sex, they’re old enough to learn about the Nazis. In fact, you can combine the two conversations. They’ll be so traumatized they won’t dare fuck for years to come!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Life Lessons: May the Sticking of It to Hitler Be Unbroken

We’re all, like, avuncular and shit. That means “uncle-like,” and while there’s no word for “aunt-like” (because language is patriarchal, blah, blah, blah), it’s important for us, as non-reproducing advocates of reproduction, to seize any platform available to drop science on the domes of the young. We therefore enjoy cluing our nephews and nieces in to the real nitty-gritty – simultaneously baring crucial truths to their impressionable minds and showing how much cooler we are than their haggard, soccer-weary parents, for whom the nightly jeroboam of Chardonnay has become akin to an oxygen mask.

But by “cluing them in” we don’t mean corrupting young souls with the depraved joys of Plushie porn or bebop music; that’s what college is for.

We mean talking to them as honestly as possible about the things that concern them, and answering their questions with compassion and fearlessness. For example: if Superman fought a dinosaur, who would win? (Superman would win, but for reasons too complex to enumerate here. They might surprise you.)

As kids grow up, though, their questions become more sensitive. Eventually your child will ask you about the Holocaust. About Hitler. About Anne Frank, and the terrifying reality that they turned her diary into a musical. About why it happened, and if it could happen again. They will ask these questions because their Jewish identities burn bright – and also because they saw those awful fucking movies at school, without you getting so much as a warning flyer.

The Big Talk
So, the day has come. Your kid has heard tell that Absolute Evil exists, and it tends to gun for our people specifically. Little Mordechai needs your help. It is time to do what we assume parents hate even more than monitoring fever with a rectal thermometer: Have a Big Talk.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re probably the biggest relativists on the block. But believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to talk to your kids about history’s greatest bummer. That’s why we’ve prepared some helpful, highly realistic scripts to guide you in exactly what (and what NOT ) to say:

Please bear in mind that we’re experts who work in the entertainment industry; don’t try this at home. Well, no, do try reading the dialogue. That part you should definitely do. At home. But for fuck’s sake, don’t ad lib – you’ll wind up buying apology sundaes until Tish A’bov. Just remember that we’re the writers, and everything will be fine.


Child: Mommy …
You: Not now, honey. Mommy’s having her special energy drink.
Child: Can I have some?
You: When you’re older. Besides, Mommy needs to drink every drop, or Mommy will be mad and it will be your fault.
Child: Sorry, Mommy. Mommy?
You: What is it now?
Child: We saw a movie at school and the mean Germans killed all the Jews and now I’m scared and I can’t sleep.
You: Take one of the blue-and-white pills on Mommy’s dresser. They’ll knock you right out.
Child: Um … Okay …
You: Hey! Just one.


Child: Mommy …
You: Yes, my perfect darling?
Child: We saw a terrible movie and all the Jews were dead and Hitler and death and blood and ovens.
You: Sweetheart, I know you were traumatized, but syntax is still important.
Child: You’re right, of course, Mommy. But why did it happen? I’m ever so frightened.
You: My dearest, Hitler was a very bad man. A sick man. And like a lot of sick people, he was looking for someone to blame for his own problems. So he blamed the Jews.
Child: Why us?
You: Well, he had a tiny, tiny penis, and he was mad about that, because Jewish men have much larger penises than he did. But it’s also because he wanted to use the ignorance and fear of ordinary voters as a way to get lots of power, so he chose a small group of people to use as a scapegoat. Fortunately, that could never happen in America.
Child: Why didn’t anybody stop him from killing 6 million Jews?
You: Well, sweetheart, it took a long time, but many people believe that Hitler was stopped.
Child: At school they told us he shot himself with his girlfriend.
You: Yes, that’s one theory. And it’s a good one. Others believe that he was cloned, and that even now he’s plotting a Fourth Reich from his underground bunker beneath the pampas of Argentina. Still others believe his head was salvaged and kept in a secret lab, where it continued to issue orders, mostly by gesticulating with its eyebrows. This theory formed the basis for the non-fiction film They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Why don’t we watch it right now?
Child: Yay!

Next time: How to avoid destroying your child's mind with holocaust imagery.