Archive | March, 2016

Purim and Hamentashens

23 Mar

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Purim is, I think, my favorite Jewish holiday, mostly because it’s got everything you could possibly want.

Alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.

And it’s only one day.

And you get to eat a lot. Actually, that pretty much applies to every Jewish holiday. On Purim, though, there are no restrictions on using electricity—meaning that when you finish stuffing your face you can them migrate over to the couch and digest while watching TV.

Purim also has the best story of all the Jewish holidays—and to me, of the entire Hebrew Bible. The Book of Esther is pretty much a  biblical version of Game of Thrones. There’s blood and sex and war and death and more blood and more sex  and no mention of God or the supernatural, which to me makes it a more entertaining tale to read than, say, those involving impossible-to-believe miracles like the splitting of an entire sea.

So yeah, I’m excited about Purim’s arrival. I love everything about it.

Everything, that is, except, hamentashens. Those I just don’t get.

For those non-Tribespeople unfamiliar with the food, a hamentashen is a cookie, usually filled with jelly—though if you’re lucky you get your hands on a chocolate chip one—that is rolled into a three-corner shape. Why three corners? Because Haman, the evil villain from the Book of Esther who was essentially Hitler 1.0, supposedly wore a three-cornered hat while prancing around town.

Well, that’s not really the why, and this—and jelly, I don’t like jelly!—is what bothers me about these cookies. That why illuminates what the three-corner shape represents. What it does not do is explain why in the hell we celebrate a holiday and the Jewish people surviving an attempted genocide by making a delicious cookie in the shape of the villain’s hat. This would be like celebrating the downfall of Hitler by baking swastika-shaped cake. It just doesn’t make sense.

Make a cookie in the shape of a crown, to honor Queen Esther. Or a horse, for Mordechai. If you want to incorporate Haman into the ritual do so in a way that mocks him (like booing during the reading of the Book of Esther, which is already done), or makes people think about the vile person that he was. Don’t hand him the honor of dessert.

Perhaps I’m missing something here—if I am please let me know—but to me, none of this makes sense and so this Purim I will be taking a stand against Hamentashens. It’s time to put an end to this nonsense.

(Unless someone brings some chocolate ones. Or chocolate and peanut butter. Those are delicious and I’m sucker for pastries.)

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Iona Basketball Players, Ranked

17 Mar

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It’s March, which mean’s it’s March Madness time, which means it’s bracket season, which means it’s time for everyone to lay claim to their favorite Cinderella.

This year Iona is a popular pick. And for good reason. The Gaels play fast, shoot a ton of 3s and are, generally, a ton of fun to watch. Iona also happens to be located about a mile away from my childhood home. I grew up watching the team, learned how to play at the college’s basketball camp. Yeah, the school might have bought out and demolished my favorite local diner. But, hey, no one’s perfect.

Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to do an unofficial ranking of the 10 best players to ever come through New Rochelle. And there have been some good ones over the years. The school, after all, has made the NCAA Tournament 11 times (though it’s never advanced to the round of 32) and has won the MAAC tournament nine times. So, without further ado, here are my top-10.

  1. Jeff Ruland: Kind of a no-brainer. A two-time NBA All-Star and the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer. The 1980 team led by him and coached by Jim Valvano is probably the school’s greatest ever.
  2. Richie Guerin: Just 22nd on the school’s all-time scoring list. But he was a six-time NBA All-Star.
  3. Steve Burtt, Sr.: The school’s all-time leading scorer and averaged 24.2 points per game as a senior.
  4. AJ English: Now we get to the dude’s I’ve actually seen play. English, the star of the current team, is one of the best scorers in the country but is a really good passer, too. He has a shot at making the NBA.
  5. Scott Machado: I really thought this guy was going to make the NBA. He’s the best point guard to ever come through Iona. He couldn’t shoot but was a great point guard/team leader. He played with two other guys on this list, and Arizona tranfer MoMo Jones. That was the best Iona team I’ve ever seen.
  6. Steve Burtt, Jr.: Until English came along this guy was the best scorer I’d seen in a Gaels uniform. Dude averaged 25.2 points per game as a senior.
  7. Tariq Kirksay: Wasn’t as explosive as Burtt, but did end up having a nice career oversees.
  8. Sean Armand: The team’s all-time leader in three-pointers made. Could also put the ball on the floor a bit and was part of that Machado team that, I believe, led the nation in scoring.
  9. David Laury: Had a nice career and is now in the D-League, according to Wikipedia.
  10. Mike Glover: The rare talented big man to come through the MAAC.