I Need a New Father

25 Mar

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I’m 26 and so I’m pretty sure I’m too old to be adopted, but I don’t care. I need a new father. Even if it’s just a nominal title that someone assumes.

The reason is simple: I don’t think my father is a sane man. Sorry, Abba, but someone has to say it.

This epiphany came to me earlier this week. It was Sunday night and I had just gotten home from a wedding. I left early, meaning I got no dessert. I love dessert. Missing it is not something I enjoy, or do very often. Making this even more painful was the site of a table full of those clear plastic wraps that go around warm cookies right outside the wedding hall’s ballroom that you take on your way home. My problem, though, was that I left before the cookies were put into the bags, which is pretty much the equivalent of seeing a turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving day but then leaving before it’s brought out.

This, as you can imagine, led to a crazy craving. I told this to my dad when I got home that night.

“I don’t really like warm chocolate chip cookies,” he said.

After that he informed me that he also hated puppies, America, Rock and Roll, football, cold beer on a warm summer night, sunshine, Batman, the Fast and the Furious movies, Pat Sajak, ice cream, comfortable beds and Disney World.

OK, none of that really happened. But the part about warm chocolate chip cookies did. I had to know more. How could someone not love something so savory and delicious?

“They’re too rich for me,” he said. ” They make me nauseous sometimes.”

Upon realizing that additional questioning would only further shatter the positive image that I had of my father, I decided to cease with the follow-ups. Enough damage had been done. The man who taught me how to throw a baseball, and how to drive, and how to complain about New York sports team, was no longer a man I could look up to or respect, which is why I need a new father. Anyone up for the gig?

Seriously, though: what kind of man doesn’t like warm chocolate chip cookies?! How is that even possible?

Wraps are a Scam

4 Mar

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Was getting a sandwich the other day and couldn’t decide what kind of bread to get it on. If I was purely going by taste, I’d go club or hero every time. To me, the more bread in a sandwich, the more sandwichy the sandwich, the better the sandwich. But, alas, I no longer posses the metabolism of a 17-year-old. Also, if I make it to the gym more than once in a week I consider that a success.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that taste is no longer all I care about when selecting what to eat.

I approached the counter and told them I wanted tuna on a whole wheat wrap. Lots of veggies. Lettuce, cucumbers, onions, pickles and sweet peppers (try adding them next time. They’re fantastic and bring a different flavor to the whole thing). I then patted myself on the back — metaphorically, of course — for going with the healthy, lighter option and resisting the urge to get hero bread. For sandwich lovers like me, that’s a tough feat to pull off, and one that deserves praise.

And then I glanced up at the board that listed how many calories each type of bread had. A whole wheat hero, it said, had 310 calories. Damn, I thought, that’s a lot of calories. Aren’t I glad that I showed some self control and went with the healthier option.

Curious as to how many calories I had saved by being awesome and healthy and going with a wrap, I continued to look at the board.

A whole wheat wrap, it said, was…

280 calories.

30 calories less than a hero. I had sacrificed the taste of my sandwich for an amount of calories that I could burn in one trip to the bathroom.

How is this even possible? How can a something as thin and flimsy as a wrap be similar from a calorie perspective to something as big and fluffy as a hero? Science is not exactly my thing, but I don’t really get how that happens. What am I missing? And why have I been told that wraps are healthy? What a load of crap. I don’t know who’s at fault here — the Whole Foods Crowd? Hipsters? Dr. Oz? Big Wrap? All of the above? But someone is peddling some B.S.

Oh, and next time I’m getting the biggest sandwich I possibly can.

Super In Depth Analysis of the NBA Trade Deadline

20 Feb

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As sports fans everywhere know, yesterday was the NBA trade deadline. ‘Twas a fun time to be on Twitter. A lot happened. Below I Break. It. Down!

Trade: Goran and Zoran Dragic to the Heat; John Salmons, Justin Hamilton, Danny Granger, 2017 and 2019 first-round picks to the Suns; Norris Cole and Shawne Williams to the Pelicans.

Analysis: 

  • John Salmons is still in the NBA? I honestly have no idea which of these teams traded him to the the Heat.
  • Goran and Zoran sounds like the name of a Key and Peele sketch.
  • Only Pat Riley could figure out a way to get an All-Star caliber point guard for a package that includes one player (Justin Hamilton) I’ve never heard of and a 12 year old (the 2019 draft pick). What an ass.

Trade: Brandon Knight to the Suns; Michael Carter-Williams, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis to the Bucks; 2015 first-round pick via Lakers (top-5 protected) to the Sixers.

Analysis: I’m all for the “process,” but what’s the game-plan here with Philly? Who’s coming there? If they don’t hit big in the lottery no star player will ever sign with them. Also, they’re annoying.

Trade: Kevin Garnett to the Timberwolves; Thaddeus Young to the Nets.

Analysis: KG becomes the first person to ever move to Minnesota voluntarily.

Trade: Reggie Jackson to the Pistons; Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak to the Thunder; Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, future OKC first-round pick, future DET second-round pick to the Jazz.

Analysis: 

  • Reggie Jackson says he’s ecstatic about being traded to Detroit.
  • Any player who’s happy about being traded from a contender featuring Kevin Durant to a hapless team like the Pistons sounds like a real keeper.
  • Also, not sure the role player who thinks he’s a star is a guy you want to be bringing in. Jackson in the offseason   turned down a four-year, $48 contract extension in the offseason. If J.R. Smith did that we’d all laugh.
  • Wish Kendrick Perkins actually had to stay in Utah. Would love to see him walking the streets there.

Other Thoughts: 

  • Some dude named Alexey Shved was sent to the Knicks for Pablo Prigioni Was time actually spent negotiating this?
  • Five of the following six names are real and represent players who were traded on Thursday. Can you pick out the fake on? Jonas Jerekbo, Luigi Datone, Daniel Johnson, Cenk Akyol, Victor Claver, Grant Jerrett
  • The answer was Daniel Johnson. If you’ve heard of the other five guys, well, you’re a better basketball fan than me.

Strange News

19 Feb

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This story, via the Times of India, came across my Twitter feed today. The headline: “Groom unwell, bride weds guest in fit of rage.”

Yeah, that got a click from me. I love strange news stories, the types that catch your attention even though they have no business being in a newspaper in the first place. I’m not talking about Kardashian soapy gossip or mawkish tales meant to tug on your heartstrings. What I mean is, well, stories like this:

All was going well at the wedding ceremony of 25-year-old Jugal Kishore, a resident of Moradabad, and his 23-year-old bride Indira from Rampur. That’s until the “varmala” ceremony, where the groom garlands his would-be wife, began.

That sort of lede is going to get me every time. Give me an “all was going well…until” and I’m in. That’s pretty much how I feel about all storytellings clichés. In my head there’s a graph. The horizontal axis represents how banal the cliché is. The vertical axis represents my level of enjoyment. If you were to plot a movie like Fast and the Furious or Taken on it, there would be a dot placed all the way to the right and all the way up. I’m a sucker for that stuff. The other night I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching the latest Liam Neeson film, Non-Stop. It was between that and 12 Years a Slave. I don’t regret my choice.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that, by this point, I was hooked. And then things only got better.

Just as he extended his arms to do that, Kishore had an epileptic fit, falling to the ground in front of the whole gathering.

Go on…

The young bride, angry that her family had been kept in the dark about Kishore’s medical condition, promptly changed her mind and announced that she would happily marry at the same ceremony a guest at the wedding, a man called Harpal Singh. The latter, incidentally, turned out to be her sister’s brother-in-law.

Wait, what?

There’s just so much going on here. So many questions that need answering. First off, how could someone be such a… I’m not sure there’s even a word for it, or at least not one I want to use in this space. But forget that for the moment; if there’s anything mankind has taught us over the years it’s that one should never underestimate its capacity for cruelty. But there’s so much more to unpack here.

How can someone not know their fiancé suffers from epilepsy? And how could that be the deal-breaker? And, most puzzlingly, how could everyone else in attendance just stand around, seemingly nod in agreement with this woman, and allow the wedding with the second dude to take place. Oh, you want to marry someone else in this room because the man you were supposed to marry just have a seizure?. You know, that makes total sense! Who you going with? Did she have pre-prepared rankings on her in case something went wrong? Where there lots of choices for her, or did her callous dismissal of her previous groom dissuade most of eligible bachelors from volunteering to step in.

Maybe those answers are about to come.  Let’s continue.

Singh, caught unawares and dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, fumbled for a moment before declaring he would willingly take Indira as his wife. This time the “varmala” was exchanged between Singh and Indira, which went off without any hitch, with the pandit reciting the mantras and asking the new couple to take the seven “pheras”.

If not for those jeans and the leather jacket, though, he would have been totally prepared for this.

I think that’s my favorite line. My favorite part: that this shotgun wedding somehow “went off without any hitch.” Apparently the original groom having some epileptic episode and effectively getting sent down to the minors, while getting replaced within minutes, doesn’t count as a hitch.

Meanwhile, Kishore, who had been rushed to a doctor by his relatives, went back to the venue after he regained consciousness to see that his wife-to-be was now someone else’s.

Did his family not get the memo that his chance had been blown?

Kishore pleaded with Indira, telling her that he would not be able to face friends and neighbours if he returned without her. His relatives, too, tried to intervene on his behalf. 

So let’s get this straight. This dude collapses at his wedding, receives no empathy from his wife-to-be, gets dumped by her without knowing it and for doing nothing wrong, returns to the wedding hall and finds the woman he was supposed to marry getting set to marry someone else, and after all that he…pleads for her to take him back? And his family was with him on this?

This girl must be REALLY hot.

Where persuasion failed, violence was used — spoons, plates and dishes became weapons as wedding guests tried to force the bride to change her mind. But all in vain. The young woman stood firm.

I’m picturing something along the lines of the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones crossed with the wedding scene from The Graduate. Only this time the woman is fighting off the grim.

Kishore and his relatives later filed an FIR at the Milak police station in Rampur district, which they eventually withdrew after elders intervened. SHO, Milak police station, RP Solanki said on Monday that cops had detained a few people who were there at the wedding.

“Both families have amicably resolved the matter,” Solanki said. “The complaints have been withdrawn. Kishore and his family have now returned in peace to Moradabad.”

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Someone needs to do a follow up here.

House of Cards is Not a Very Good Show

28 Jan

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I think my main problem with House of Cards is that the show is in denial. If, for example, it presented itself as a cartoon rather than a Important Show Trying To Teach Us Important Things, well that would be a show I’d like more. Think of 24, which is insane — and awesome because of it. Jack Bauer is not a three-dimensional character; he’s a superhero. When he (spoiler alert!) takes out 12 machine gun-wielding Russian goons with a single pistol, that’s something I don’t have a problem with, the same way I don’t mind when Batman goes one-on-forty without breaking a sweat. Neither Batman nor Jack Bauer are living in reality. They’re both comic book characters living in comic book worlds. Everyone understands this and is on the same page. That’s why they work.

House of Cards is a whole different story. On the one hand you have this show about the inner working of Washington D.C and how and why decisions get made. The thesis is that everyone is a prick and solely looking out for themselves. Not exactly an original thought — from what I remember from college, the basic premise of the Political Science field is that a politicians’ primary goal is to get elected and that it’s this desire that informs all his or her decisions — but still an important one. And House of Cards does do a good job of showing us how exactly that might look. It’s one thing to say you’re aware of how politicians think. But seeing this thought process put into action — like when one of the congressmen in House of Cards succumbs to blackmail and allows about 5,000 people in his district to lose their jobs — can be jarring. That’s the stuff House of Cards does well.

That’s also not really what the show is about. It’s not like The Wire, which illustrated the problem with institutions and how they affect society. It’s not like The Sopranos, which took us deep into the psyche of a powerful sociopath in a way that no other show had before. It’s not even like Game of Thrones, which isn’t really illustrating anything other than that good things rarely happen to good people. What makes Game of Thrones great, though, is that everyone is on a level playing field. You never know what’s going to happen or who even is winning The Game. The second you think you do the Red Wedding happens and you wind up staring at your TV screen in shock.

There’s very little that shocks in House of Cards (the first murder was easy to see coming; the second one is the outlier here). It takes about four episodes to realize that Kevin Spacey is not only the smartest person in the show, but also the only one in the House of Cards universe with a brain. The President of the United States is a dolt with the personality of a box and the charisma of a brick wall. He makes Mitt Romney look like Kevin Hart. How he got elected is beyond me. He is, by far, the worst fictional president I have ever seen. I’m not sure there’s ever been a less impressive TV character. He’s a moron and the worst.

Thankfully, most of the other characters on the show have a bit more to offer. None of them, however, appear, as they say, to playing with a full deck. Kevin Spacey is allowed to do what he wants, whenever he wants. Not only that, but no one else seems to be aware of what kind of person Frank Underwood (Spacey’s character) is, which would be cool and fine if he wasn’t pulling off the same moves over and over and over and over. At a certain point it gets boring watching him outmaneuver everyone else. And none of this even touches on the ludicrous plot twists, like the thing he does to the person in the subway, and how he apparently knows how to find the subway system’s trap doors and secret passageways. Or that scene that he and his wife have with that guard, which I’m still clueless as to what the point of it was.

Don’t get me wrong — House of Cards is, for the most part, entertaining, and watching Spacey play Frank Underwood is a ton of fun. But lots of entertaining shows and characters have made it on to TV. The difference with House of Cards was that I felt like I was missing out by not watching it; at least that’s how those who watched it made me feel.

Now that I’ve completed the show’s two season, I can’t help but disagree. House of Cards is good but not great, occasionally fun but not memorable. If you have some time to kill there are certainly worse things you can do than start a binge. But there are also at least ten shows I’d recommend before it.

Some Thoughts on Rex Ryan to the Bills

12 Jan

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According to reports, Rex Ryan is about to become the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. I find this interesting for a few reasons, which I felt like sharing (in a rambling manner) in this space because, well, I’m pretty sure that’s the point behind having a space like this. So, with that being said, here goes:

  • This is classic Rex, in good ways and bad. The good: he’s picking a team that he knows already has a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. The Bills, according to Football Outsiders’ metrics, had the NFL’s best pass defense this year and the league’s second best defense overall.
  • That unit led the team to a 9-7 season, which is pretty impressive when you consider the fact that Kyle Orton was the team’s starting quarterback, and that he signed like a week before the regular season because the incumbent, E.J. Manual, stunk in the preseason. The Bills, with Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. They have talent in the secondary, too. All of this is to say that, with Rex in the fold next year, I’d be shocked in Buffalo’s defense isn’t regarded as the AFC’s best.
  • This, no doubt, is what drew Rex to the job. Defense is what matters to him and so he picked the spot where the defense was the best.
  • That said team also happens to play in the same division as the franchise that just fired Rex for sure played a role as well. That’s just how Rex thinks. To him life is about finding those people that don’t agree with you, and then giving them one giant middle finger. That’s what this is. Next year’s Bills-Jets game, and the Ryan quotes that come after his team holds the Jets’ offense to 87 yards, will be great. The decision to take the Bills’ job pretty much puts all of the good of Rex Ryan on display: the confidence, the swagger, the refusal to roll over.
  • It also shows all the bad stuff: the short-sightedness, the ability to let his emotions get the best of him, the belief that defense is all that matters. Ryan is essentially walking into the same situation that he had when he took the Jets job in 2009. A talented defense, but no quarterback, which a team trying to take out Tom Brady and the Patriots needs.
  • Yeah, Sammy Watkins might be the most talented offensive player Ryan’s ever had, but if EJ Manuel is throwing to him it won’t matter. That Ryan is brining over Vic Fangio from San Francisco to be his offensive coordinator is good, but Fangio can’t make a QB appear out of the air. Also, it’s not like the Bills are going to get a QB in this year’s draft. You know who might be Ryan’s starting quarterback this year?
  • Mark Sanchez.
  • That’s right, Mark Sanchez.
  • Let that sink in for a second.
  • If I were advising Rex, I would have told him to hold out for the Atlanta Falcons job. The team already has a good quarterback in Matt Ryan; he and Rex could have been a perfect match.
  • That being said, Rex in Buffalo will be fun. The city and fans will love him, and I do think he’ll be pretty successful. The problem is that in the NFL, having some success is not enough. For a head coach to keep his job he needs to make the Super Bowl. That’s not happening for a team with no quarterback. The Bills will be good the next few years, but in five I expect Ryan to be looking for a new job once again.

The Most Jewish Christmas Eve Movie Experience Ever

24 Dec

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‘Tis the season, which means for me and my fellow Hebrews, it’s movie time. As of this writing I got about three hours to decide what I want to see. Part of me is considering downloading The Interview, just to see what all the fuss is about, but I’m also pretty sure that’s it’s not going to be a good movie and I really don’t want to blow my annual Christmas Eve movie watching experience.

Right now I’m choosing between The Hobbit, Birdman (Jeff Pearlman‘s Christmas Ever recommendation) and Top-Five. I’ll decide later. But as I was thinking about this over the past few days, I was reminded of a previous Christmas Eve movie going experience of mine, one that, dare I say, might be the single most Jewish movie experience (not counting actual Jewish films) anyone has ever had outside of Israel.

First off, the location: the movie theater in Lincoln Square, perhaps the most Jewish movie theater in the land. Now Manhattan’s Upper West Side might not be home to as many Jews as a place like, say, Borough park. But most of the Jews who live there don’t really see movies (and yes, I’m generalizing here), whereas the Jews on the Upper West kinda-sorta live for “cinema.” There are genres of film (hello, Woody Allen) that are seemingly made just for this audience. And where does this group usually go to see a movie? Yep, Lincoln Square.

So that’s where I was. And as if that wasn’t enough, the movie I was seeing was Munich (plus one Jew Point!), a film about the eleven Israeli Olympian who were killed by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. It was directed by Steven Spielberg (plus another Jew Point!). And remember, I’m in the Lincoln Square theater (one more Jew Point!). As we say on Passover, dayenu.

And then the previews started. Eventually one came on about some sort of ancient civilization. It was called Apocalypto. I don’t remember much from the trailer but I certainly remember the reaction — boos, as loud as the ones you hear Jets fans make at MetLife Stadium when Bill Belichick is announced — once the following words popped up on the screen:

FROM MEL GIBSON

All that was missing was a Mel Brooks joke.

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