13

Random Thought of the Day: Word Choice 2

As I was researching today, I read a paragraph, immediately went yoggity-yoggity-yoggity a la Scooby Doo, and then read it again. I could not think of anything that wasn’t dirty, so I knew I had to share it with the world.

It was, of course, the fundamental purpose of Zionism to make the Jews autonomous, not only in their political institutions but also in their social and economic institutions. Nevertheless, success in achieving sovereignty brought with it unexpected problems arising from the sudden erection of a state apparatus. So, too, even as Zionism achieved an intrinsic aim by freeing Israel from the subordination of its judiciary to British legal practices and legal authorities, it encountered the unexplored difficulties of living according to Jewish law.

I don’t know about you, but if your state apparatus is erect from more than four hours, seek medical help.

Thanks, Jehuda Reinharz, for your insights on “Transition from Yishuv to State.”

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4

Wisdom from Pleasant Diversions

This past week in Chinese and Japanese drama class, we read portions of an ancient dramaturgical text entitled Xianqing Ouji, or Pleasant Diversions, by Li Yu. Li Yu was an author and theatre theorist who lived in China in the 17th century, and Pleasant Diversions centers on his thoughts and theories on drama. He also seemingly had a way with words; maybe the translation helps bring out the humor, but nobody else in class spoke up against the translation and almost all of them speak Chinese. So, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom I learned from Li Yu,

Section 1: On Dramatic Structure

Though one’s ability may be limited, if skill is honed and put to good use,  one can still achieve distinction. Otherwise one might boast of huge talent  and claim vast learning, but if one’s essays are full of allusions to the dead  and gone and one’s books are only useful for covering sauce jars, all is in vain (33).

Not everyone can write a play.

Section 2: On Forgoing Satire

The sword of the warrior and the pen of the literary man are both instruments for killing people. Everybody knows that swords can kill. It is not widely known that pens can kill, but still some do know (37).

Yeah writers!

For a long time I feared I would have no sons to carry on my line, now I have five sons and two daughters, wives who are pregnant, wives who have given birth but will be pregnant again. Although none of my progeny show promise, yet  they give me comfort in my declining years, and relieve me of the worry of having no kin to turn to (40).

My kids suck.

Section 4: On Getting Out of the Rut

There is an old saying, ‘the most expensive fur coat is made from the fuzz from more than one fox’s armpit’, which is most apt to commend the new plays of our contemporaries (43).

You had me at “fox’s armpit.”

Section 9: On Plot and Personality

If his speech is not dull and predictable, one or two sentences out of ten will break the mould; if his writing is not prosaic, one or two passages in a composition will be creative. This will be someone capable of writing plays. Otherwise he should look for some other occupation, not expend useful energies on a profitless pursuit (54).

If you can’t write a play, get a job.

Section 13: On Wordliness versus Conciseness

I would in fact prefer to save my energy by giving latitude to the actors; the problem is, there are intelligent actors and stupid ones: can I be sure that their amplifications all accord with the author’s intentions, and they will not introduce irrelevant and superfluous stuff (59).

Don’t allow actors to fuck your shit up.

Section 16: On ke hun (light relief)

If your diction is good, your plot good, but your light relief bad, then not merely will your vulgar playgoers be turned away, even your gentlemen of high culture will nod off. The dramatist must be adept at driving away the demon of sleep. Once the demon of sleep has come, though what ensues may be celestial music or the divine ‘Dance of the Rainbow Skirt’, they will still fall on stopped ears and closed eyes. It will be like bowing to statues, discussing the sutras with a clay Buddha (65).

Don’t be boring, but if you are, make sure you have a topless scene; chances are the audience won’t notice.

4

An Alphabet of Stereotypes

So, I was having a conversation with myself today about names, and I came across the name Summer. Summer. It’s a great word and a lovely name, but how many ways can you really slice a Summer? There’s never been a Queen Summer or a President Summer or even a Grandma Summer. I thought about adding it to my list of potential daughters’ names, but it’s just too…Summer. There are very few places you can go with a Summer, and most of them involve being in a bikini.

Since everyone’s blogging about Scotland’s independence referendum today, I thought I’d do something different and present to you an alphabet of name stereotypes. These are not common names like John and Mary, and not timeless names like Michael, Katherine, and Elizabeth that have too much history to be placed in one category. Rather, these are names that are uncommon but not unusual, but at least for me they have a certain way about them. To be fair, I’ll just do one random name per letter, per gender, skipping Q and X for obvious reasons. Join me, y’all.

And welcome, first visitor from Kyrgyzstan! You were always my favorite Stan.

Disclaimer: This list is meant to be read in complete jest, so Jacquelyn, the coffee is fine.

If your name is Albert, don’t get any piercings. This will only work against you.

If your name is Brook, have a headshot on your faculty website.

If your name is Chuck, you probably spit a lot when you talk and collect things.

If your name is Dallas, you probably own a ten-gallon hat but have never had the opportunity to wear it.

If your name is Eddie, be my drinking buddy. But not Ed. He can go and sit in the back of the closet.

If your name is Fred, you have a lot to live up to. Same for the Wilmas, Mickeys, and Minnies of the world.

If your name is Gilbert, you probably watched Howdy Doody in its first run.

If your name is Harrison, you probably have your hair parted on the side. Oh, and don’t go to China to teach English.

If your name is Ira, don’t be surprised if in the near future you get mistaken for a girl.

If your name is Jacob, be cool about it. Don’t toss that name around willy-nilly. Taylor Lautner did a number for us; unfortunately it was a negative number. And be friendly. If you want to be a jerk (and if I am), be Jake.

If your name is Kevin, take a break and sit down.

If your name is Lorenzo, eat some graham crackers.

If your name is Mickey, you better be cuddly or else.

If your name is Nathan, I really enjoyed those hard, wooden chairs you made me.

If your name is Ozzy, get that bat out of your mouth, I do not want to buy candy from you, and pull your shorts above your butt crack.

If your name is Peter, my deepest sympathies for the inappropriate jokes you have encountered in your life.

If your name is Ray, chill out. You’re much too intense.

If your name is Scott, I never want to see you wearing anything but underwear.

If your name is Timothy, and you haven’t heard the song, your life is incomplete. Also, if you shorten to Timmy don’t expect anything for your birthday other than Tonka trucks.

If your name is Ulysses, be prepared to work hard because you will be called useless at least once a day.

If your name is Victor, don’t make me walk into your magic cabinet.

If your name is Wilbur, your mother’s favorite book was Charlotte’s Web.

If your name is Yorick, I knew him well.

If your name is Zzzzybrrqahh, please don’t eat my brain.

If your name is Alice, you will probably have a husband named Al and move to Alabama where you’ll sell ant farms.

If your name is Bella, avoid used bookstores.

If your name is Carol, you probably either sing in a folk rock band or own a large collection of fuzzy sweaters.

If your name is Donna, you’re an asset to the secretarial pool. Maybe you’ll be an executive assistant one day.

If your name is Edith, thanks for the peanut brittle.

If your name is Frances, you probably need to lighten up.

If your name is Georgia, watch where you’re swingin’ that hoop skirt.

If your name is Helen, I hope you like cats.

If your name is Isabella, you probably can’t read this because you were born sometime this decade.

If your name is Jacquelyn, I may or may not have spit in your coffee this morning.

If your name is Kimberley, congratulations, you’re the head of the cheerleading squad and the top of the pyramid.

If your name is Lola, you were a showgirl.

If your name is Marni, you really got the short end of the stick. That is not a real name. And don’t stomp your platforms at me.

If your name is Nancy, you have an unhealthy relationship with yarn.

If your name is Olga, I am putting all my hope in you at the next Olympics.

If your name is Penelope…yeah, no one’s cool enough to pull off Penelope.

If your name is Summer, you have damaged skin, hair, or both.

If your name is Tiffany, you are never going to give up the 80s, are you?

If your name is Ursula, you either rule a sea kingdom or are in fact a Kodiak bear.

If your name is Velvet, you have served prison time and have the tattoos to prove it.

If your name is Willow, you have either participated in or led a women’s retreat.

If your name is Yolanda, you thoroughly enjoy the conveniences of a convenience store.

If your name is Zona, my seventh-grade Bible teacher gave me permission to shoot your parents.

0

Punintentional: The Obtuseness That is My Life

When people tell me I’m funny, I tell them that I’m not. I tell them that I am the least funny person they will ever meet in their lives.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s moments like these that I feel like I’m a few steps behind the world.

This time last week, at Shabbat dinner, the topic of conversation was nails. Someone (Carly, maybe?) had gotten a manicure before Shabbat, and people were talking about crazy manicures and nail designs. I mentioned a friend of mine from college who painted a different design on her nails every week, according to the zodiac or something. Somebody mentioned how that was commitment, and I was like…

“Yeah, she must have had a lot of time on her hands.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

People laugh, and about two minutes pass before I understand what I just said.

I realized that I’ve done this from time to time. Back in high school, we watched the movie version of The Crucible after reading it in English class. The ending of the movie is much different than the ending of the play. After we watched it, we discussed it, and my first thought?

“I didn’t like this ending. It kinda leaves you hanging.”

I think a full five minutes passed before I got that one.

The third story is one that’s a bit more contextual, so apologies in advance if you don’t get it.

So, in my sophomore year of high school, we put on Les Miserables. Yes, that one. At our Orthodox Jewish high school. It goes without saying that it was pretty terrible, but we had a few great rehearsal moments. One time, early in the rehearsal process, we were all sitting around chatting during a break, and someone remarked on the lack of “Lovely Ladies” and the characters in that number, and people suddenly started asking questions like “where are the lovely ladies?” And some idiot said, “Do we have a Pimp?”

Without blinking, my drama teacher goes:

“No. Not anymore.”

For a split-second she looked up and around, and then laughed. Fortunately, I think she was making a joke.

I hope she was making a joke.

I have Diane to thank for this post. Thanks, Diane!

Also, hooray for being a five-continent day, all but Africa.

 

1

Book Review: Tina Fey, Bossypants

A few weeks ago, I crossed another book off my “to-read” list when, upon the suggestion of my friend Julie, I went to the library and got out Bossypants, the (relatively) new memoir of funny lady Tina Fey. I made the excuse that I needed to read it for a project (which I actually did, incorporating one of the chapters of the book into my paper – thanks, Tina!) and I did not regret it.

Cover

Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t know that much about Tina Fey before, but now that I’ve read this book, I feel like we’re best friends. Her artful and hilarious way of illustrating stories of her childhood woes was touching (but not in a sexual way), and it made me feel like my blog posts in the “random memories” category might mean something to somebody someday. After several chapters about her early days, she starts going off on wild and wonderful tangents about all the different factors that make her the person whom we see today. Her topics include weight, makeup, photo shoot tips, and how to interact with your boss/employees. I knew that prior to her bit as Sarah Palin, she’d been off the show for a little while, but I didn’t know that even though she was in the cast for awhile, she did way more behind the scenes as a writer than as an actress. Thinking about it…she’s totally right, with her years having much more visible women in them (Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph to name a few) with more memorable characters. Aside from Palin, Tina Fey’s main point of reference was as a foil to Jimmy Fallon on Weekend Update, which she did flawlessly, but as herself. That’s another thing that kind of surprised me: she didn’t see herself as anything other than Tina. True, to a certain extent, given that she usually appeared as herself on the show, but she also revealed that she didn’t think she looked like Sarah Palin other than sharing brown hair and a similar taste in glasses, from which I beg to differ. People around the country were drawing comparisons between the two even before Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate. And really, it’s more than hair and face – they have the same height and build, prominent cheekbones and big smiles. Tina Fey wasn’t Sarah Palin in a wig; for most Americans, Tina Fey was Sarah Palin. And for some confused foreign media outlets as well. More than the actual politician herself, Fey provided more than enough humor to what was a very tense election, and may have ultimately been a factor in deciding the future trajectory of the leadership of the United States of America.

The best part of the book was the complete script of Tina Fey’s first appearance as Sarah Palin, alongside Amy Poehler’s Hillary Clinton. This hilarious cold open, known as “A Non-Partisan Message from Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Hillary Clinton,” featured the two talking about sex and the media, with Clinton making constant jabs at Palin, which she completely deflected with a combination of confusion and charm. Though Fey would continue to impersonate Palin over the coming weeks, these few minutes were, I believe, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin at her finest. She had a great scene partner in Amy Poehler to bounce off of, and set a standard for comediennes everywhere to step up their game, and to jump right into political humor because “it’s time for a woman to make it to the White House.”

Though many parts of the book had me smiling and/or laughing out loud, my particular favorite was in a section where she gives advice on how to navigate motherhood entitled “Me Time”, on page 243:

‘Sleep when your baby sleeps.’ Everyone knows this classic tip, but I say why stop there? Scream when your baby screams. Take Benadryl when your baby takes Benadryl. And walk around pantless when your baby walks around pantless.”

Upon reading that again, now I can see why my friend Julie enjoyed the book so much. Maybe a little too much.

The only downsides to this book were that now I feel incredibly guilty for having not watched 30 Rock during its original run, and that now I have to wait until next year’s Golden Globe Awards for more Tina Fey in my life.