Thursday, December 16, 2004

Oy-Humbug to Chrismukkah and A Rant from The Suburban Job-Hunting Wasteland


- I think I fixed the blog so anyone can now add comments if they so choose.

- Been watching the ALI G Show on DVD, and it is great - hilarious. Check it out if you haven't seen this. It's funny cuz I think I am really on the same comedic wavelength as actor Sasha Baron Cohen who plays all the characters. He chose three of my favorite types of characters to do in his show. The wannabe gangsta (a classic target for ridicule), the strange Russian foreigner (another personal favorite comedic character), and the weirdo ambiguously German Euro-trash dude (a popular one when I was in London and my roommates and I would do that weird Euro voice all the time and crack ourselves up, and, see the Nihilists in The Big Lebowski for reference). Respeck.

- Also picked up a hidden gem at Best Buy in their 5.99 shelf - a DVD with 12 episodes of the 1980's anthology show Ray Bradbury Theater. Being a huge Ray Bradbury fan (I wrote my senior thesis on him in high school!) I snatched this up and upon checking it out realized I had some fond memories of this show from watching it being rerun on the scifi channel way back in the day. It's got some good Bradbury adaptations, some quality actors like Jeff Goldblum and Leslie Nielson and even William Shatner, and some great 80's style synth soundtracks. Check it out if you see it in the store for cheap. Also, the intros featuring Bradbury himself are really cool, they make you want to go tuck yourself away and think up some cool story of your own.

- Great O.C. tonight. Nice to see more drama back in the show, and the twists are really piling up. And the previews for the future episodes : all I can say is "DAAAAAAAAAAAAMN!" Boys, you know what I mean.


A comment: Chrismukkah, while funny on the show, really should not be as talked about as it has been in real life (they just did an article on it in the Hartford Courant) as a viable form of holiday celebration, ESPECIALLY for families who are not inter-married, but 100 percent Jewish. I hope that Jews around the country don't feel the need to mix Chanukah and Christmas just because they feel they're somehow missing out. If there's any holiday Jews probably should not celebrate, it's the one where Christians remember the birth of their messiah. Although the sad part is, how many Christians even remember and/or care that that's the reason for the holiday. I say it's all a plot by the Christian Right to have all Americans celebrating Christmas, under the guise of "oh, but it's a national holiday about joy and happiness." Sorry, that's what the Greeks did to the Jews in the story of Chanukah, which is why we went to war rather than be forcibly assimilated, and now celebrate that event with a festival of lights. So once the entire nation has been convinced that if you don't celebrate Christmas you're not a patriot and such, THAT'S when they'll remind everyone that yes, we are all celebrating the birth of Jesus and yep, it's official, goodbye separation of church and state and hello United States of Jesus. Sure, the pundits complain NOW that Christmas is commercialized, but it's just so we can all be spoonfed our yearly dose of Jesus love with a sugary side of Santa Claus. And THEN, once we're all Rudolphed and Jingle-Belled into a pacified state of ambivalence, that's when they'll really get us. Okay, so that might be A LITTLE far-fetched (but ONLY a little, if you ask me), but the point is - Jews - celebrate Chanukah, and all other Jewish holidays that DON'T coincide with the Christian ones, and use Christmas as a time to catch up on movies, sleep late, or whatever. But please, are you that desperate to assimilate completely that you need to bastardize your religion by pulling a Chrismmukah? This is one tradition that I hope we can all agree to leave that to the fictional TV families, who ALSO happen to have illegitimate children, weekly extramarital affairs, and kids dating people who they will most likely, in a week or so, find out that they are, in fact, RELATED TO.


It is frustrating, with all the effort I have made to get a foot in the door of the entertainment industry, to hear people talk to me about my job search as if I've just been sitting around doing nothing and hoping that something magical would come along. This is the problem with living in a close-knit community where people's kids are often the topic of conversation. "My kid is doing this, my kid is working here, my kid is studying there." In such an environment, in this puritanical, New-England Jewish place, the college dropout making a career at Burger King is somehow held in higher regard than me, the college graduate trying to make it in entertainment. Because whenever Parent X asks my parents what and how I'm doing, my parents, still very confused and in denial about my career choice, are never quite sure how to respond, except by projecting their own hopes for me into their answers ("Well, he might still go to law school." NO. "If he doesn't have a job by Tuesday he's joining your son at Burger King." Please, God no.) In the daily suburban grind of phone chatter and gossip, telling someone there's nothing new to report gets excruciatingly old very fast. So the mere fact that "he's still working at Burger King" is such a consistent, reliable answer to "how's your son doing" makes it one that, here at least, is comfortably satisfying. The truth is that man of us recent college grads are under a lot of pressure by parents (pressed by other parents) to hurry up and make some money. The financial pressures are real and the social pressures not so much, but the sad truth is that most of the 23 year olds working in entertainment are able to do so because a.) their parents had a direct contact in the industry, and/or b.) their parents were able to throw money their way and say "okay, move to NY or LA, we'll pay for it until you find a job." For anyone else, getting that foot in the door is going to be difficult, take time and persistance, and probably make your parents think that getting a job at BK, for appearance's sake, isn't such a bad idea. But if I can and do make it into "the biz" (which I'm still very much planning on doing), I admit that it will be great fun to run into Parents X, Y, and Z, and tell them in crystal clear words that even they can understand what exactly it is that I'm doing. But I can be sure that their kid will still be working at Burger King, so really, what's the big deal anyway?


Christine said...

As a member of the "Christian Right" I am struck by your harsh words about Christians and Christmas.

You wrote, "I say it's all a plot by the Christian Right to have all Americans celebrating Christmas, under the guise of "oh, but it's a national holiday about joy and happiness." ... So once the entire nation has been convinced that if you don't celebrate Christmas you're not a patriot and such, THAT'S when they'll remind everyone that yes, we are all celebrating the birth of Jesus and yep, it's official, goodbye separation of church and state and hello United States of Jesus."

What? You make it sound like all Christians are trying to convert you. That is absolutely ridiculous. I am not forcing anyone to celebrate Chrismukkah. In fact, I am deeply troubled that there are nominal Christians who celebrate the secularization of the holiday. I do not look at the secularization of Christmas as one step toward forming the "United States of Jesus." If some Jews are celebrating Christmas, my guess is it's the very secular Santa Claus part that has very little to do with Jesus.

You're missing something important here: All Christians are not the same.

There are two main attitudes toward Christmas that you are combining into one in your argument:
1. Christians who believe Christmas is all about Santa, presents and loving everybody. Perhaps they do not see the harm in everyone celebrating the holiday.
2. Christians who understand the deeper meaning of this important holiday - that God gave His only son to us for our salvation, i.e. the most important gift of all. It's a mind-blowing concept that deserves deep thought and celebration this time of year. I remember what this holiday is all about, and I have plenty of friends and family who do too.

You also mention that Jews should celebrate holidays that "DON'T coincide with the Christian ones." What about Passover and Easter? The Last Supper was a Seder dinner, and Jesus was a Jew.

Just because I remember the importance of Christmas does not mean I shouldn't get my Jewish roommate a "holiday" gift. I’m giving her a gift because it’s Christmas, but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to convert her or even make her celebrate the holiday. I think it's important to show her that I care about her as much as I care about my Christian roommates.

During the holiday season I don't think it's so bad to remember the things we have in common, while understanding our differences.

Danny B said...

Hey Christine,

Thanks for the comment. My first comment - nice! Anyways, I pretty much agree with what you said, so I don't think we were really disagreeing. I definitely don't think there's anything wrong with giving a holiday or even a Christmas present to a non-Christian friend for example. And the comments you quoted about the Christian Right were meant to be an exaggeration to illustrate my point, which was mostly aimed not at Christians but at Jews who feel compelled to celebrate Christmas. Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with "being in the holiday spirit" around Christmas-time or whatever, but I think that a Jew's main priority around this time of year should be celebrating Chanukah, I mean maybe take the time to learn more about our holiday, and not concentrate on someone else's. I also think that your comments show how the line is dangerously blurring between Christmas as a national holiday and as a religious one. If a new national holiday was made for December called "Goodwill Day" or something, then great, everyone should celebrate. But the holiday remains CHRISTmas, despite it's secularization, and it is troubling that Jews would want to celebrate a holiday that is contrary to our own beliefs in its real meaning. No, I don't really think there's some crazy plot to convert all the Jews. But I do think that there are still many people among the Christian community (probably a small minority, but who knows) who just don't understand why the Jews have to be different. They get upset that they are supposed to be inclusive and say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas, in case someone is Jewish. They get upset that Jewish kids ruin everyone's fun by not wanting to sing Christmas songs in school choirs. They get upset that religion is being taken out of public life, because they don't understand - WHO are these spoil-sports who have to take these things away in the name of being PC? To find such a person listen to Pat Buchanan on MSNBC - and believe me, there are plenty others who share his views. That's why Jews need to maintain a distinct Jewish identity, even though they are a vast minority in America, a country that is supposed to be about protecting minorities and allowing them to thrive. Jews should be proud of each of their holidays (not just ones that get national attention like Hannukah, which is in fact one of the least "important" Jewish holidays), and do what they can to make sure that these traditions can thrive, even in a country where there is currently a large backlash against the full acceptance and representation of non-Christian religions or ways of thinking.