On A Handy Test for Reddit Users: Are You on the Internet Right Now?

And at night, when i am on Lipitor for my heart condition ever since the attack in 2009, stent now, i often find myself on the internet, lowercase mind you, due to the vivid dreaming that Lipitor induces due to the statins in the meds. Cool.

Posted on October 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm 0

On A Handy Test for Reddit Users: Are You on the Internet Right Now?

I'm in Taiwan a country that does not exist, and I do not own a computer and never have, am at the local internet cafe in south Taiwan, my home office, does that mean i am not on the internet, lowercased mind you, never Uppercase now, because 1. I am in a nation that does not exist and 2. I do not own a computer ?

Posted on October 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm 0

On The Perils Of Storytelling As A Stranger: A Chat With Tom Scocca

Rob Schmitz says revival of Mike Daisey show is ‘a little disturbing’
Andrew Beaujon | Jul. 24, 2012
Pando Daily | The Washington Post | Washington City Paper | DCist | Mike Daisey
Why is Mike Daisey remounting “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” the play that was the basis for his famously retracted “This American… Read more

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm 0

On The Perils Of Storytelling As A Stranger: A Chat With Tom Scocca

One more thing MB and TS , cut the beeswax here. I have lived in Taiwan for 20 years and will never step foot in communist dictatorship China, THAT is what it is, mates, until it becomes a free country, like Taiwan is. Remember the old USSR? China is the new USSR of CHINA, it has all of you fooled. Wake up before it's too late. The people in China are good people, their leaders are thugs. Get over it and wake up. Yuck. How can you both be so naive?

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm 0

On The Perils Of Storytelling As A Stranger: A Chat With Tom Scocca

re your use of the term SCARE QUOTES....

We are all so confused about the real meaning of scare quotes, so
let's jettison the TERM ITSELF and find a better
one for what these quote tools are all about. For example,
Sean says "I am not 100% clear on the difference between quotation
marks and scare
quotes. I mean, yes, I know the difference, but there’s a fine line,


And Mollie replies:
''Sean, In all seriousness, I’m [ALSO] not entirely sure I understand
the difference
between quotation marks and scare quotes. I’ve joked that this must be
what you learn in J-school which I didn't attend ....[or grad schools
in departments such as philosphy or literature, where term is often
used in analyis of "texts"].
....I think my big beef with the scare quotes/quotes issue is that there
is a lot of baggage with them with very little pay off, if any.''

Well said!

So then Kyle says: "Scare quotes is not a made up thing, it’s a real
thing. The Wiki
article on it explains some of the uses and gives some references."

But Kyle, if so real and Wiki, then tell me WHO coined the term scare
quotes, name the year,
and his or her name and what city he or she was in at the time, and
why he or she used the term SCARE as part of the phrase? I bet you
don't know. As none of us know. So why are we all using a stupid,
senseless, ill-coined and meaningless term? Just follow the leader?

Then Jeffrey Weiss in Dallas adds: "As for “scare quotes.” I only have
one set of quote marks on my
keyboard. How do you know when they’re supposed to be scary? I will
gently suggest that some of the instances in which some people are
reading irony is projection of assumed hostility that may not actually

Well said, Mr Weiss.

My conclusion: let's get rid of the term scare quotes and replace it
with a more meaingfull logical and useful term. And then my question
is: what should that new term be? Some have suggested calling them
"smear quotes" or "caveat quotes" or "sneer quotes" or "flag quotes"
or "spot quotes" (for flagging something or spotlighting something.
Whatever the new term is, it must be short and one or two or three
that slip off the tongue smoothly and quickly, such as "caveat" or
"smear" or "flag." SCARE QUOTES has a good sound to it, but it
is essentially a meaningless and mal-coined term with no original
coiner or place of coinage or reason for such coinage. Let's get to
work, people! We have "work" to do on this scare quotes thing. Agree
or disagree?

-- ''Danny'' Bloom

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm 0

On Jewish Joke Revue 100% Holocaust-Free

In connection with my THE SILVERMAN MANIFESTO (2012), google for text, Ted Merwin for JEWISH WEEK follows
my line of thinking in his very good review of the off Broadway review titled OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES.

Headline '''When Humor Stays Below The Belt'', Dr Merwin write, in excerpts here exerpted by me to supprot the SILVERMAN MANIFESTO
points i made two months ago:

1. ''" ''Old Jews” essentially transports its audience “up the mountains” (as my grandmother would say) to the Catskills. In Borscht Belt jokes, Jewish men always felt murderous toward their wives, non-Jewish women were secretly more attractive to Jewish men than Jewish women were, rabbis always offered ridiculous advice, and gentiles occupied a rarefied realm that Jews could never hope to enter. The dated quality of the show is summed up in two of its most inspired routines, which are Susman’s heavily Yiddish-accented, solemn rendering of “Ol’ Man River” and a sing-along with the audience of Tom Lehrer’s “Hanukkah in Santa Monica,” a song about Jews discovering that Jewish life can (big surprise!) actually take root outside of New York.''

2. To compensate for their nagging sense of outsiderness, the show implicitly suggests, Jews turned to humor -- in particular, dirty jokes. Either sex or scatology is thus the underlying theme of almost every gag. Jests about masturbating teenagers, blushing brides, under-endowed grooms, priapic desert-island castaways, lascivious old ladies, flaccid old men, aphrodisiac Jewish foods -- the sex jokes go on and on. Same with the jokes about bodily functions, which embrace everything from women stuck on toilets to men with prostate and bowel complaints.

3. ''This is where one needs to wonder if the show, despite having plenty of heart, has a soul. A non-Jew who wandered into the theater could be forgiven for thinking that Jews, despite being renowned for their intellectual attainments, are in reality obsessed with their lower bodies. Or that upwardly mobile Jews remain stuck in a low-class or unassimilated Jewish past that they have only transcended on the outside, but still inhabit in some nether region of their deepest selves.''

4. ''I wish that “Old Jews Telling Jokes” ..... didn’t insult its audience’s intelligence quite so much. I’m reminded of Bryan Fogel’s and Sam Wolfson’s phenomenally successful “Jewtopia” (which played at the Westside in 2006), which trotted out every Jewish stereotype and excretory joke in the book, as if paradise for Jews is an eternity on the toilet.

5. ....''. I can’t help comparing “Old Jews” to the second act of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park,” the searing play about race relations that is currently running on Broadway. The characters in that play trade the most sexually explicit and utterly offensive jokes that they can muster, leaving the speechless audience to ponder the profound power of jokes to unsettle and provoke. Perhaps I’m asking too much, but I wish that “Old Jews” afforded some kind of new perspective on the place of humor in Jewish life, rather than yet another guilty peep into the bedroom or bathroom window.''

Posted on July 17, 2012 at 6:57 am 0

On Jewish Joke Revue 100% Holocaust-Free

Richard wrote: "Danny, this SILVERMAN MANIFESTO statement was incredible, and I agree 100 percent... , just a perfect piece, I too have these same concerns. There's so much in Yiddishkeit that is funny without being degrading, and usually untrue!
Genoogshein mit the self-deprecating jokes, we don't have to try and "fit in" anymore! ''

Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm 0

On Jewish Joke Revue 100% Holocaust-Free

and yet Choice, Jason Zinoman, another self loathing self hater wrote in the Times: '' ....the absence of one Third Reich joke is a glaring omission [from the play]. '' WHY on EARTH would he revel in Hcaust jokes? A sick sick man, Mr Zinoman is. Sigh.

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 8:55 am 0

On Jewish Joke Revue 100% Holocaust-Free

Okay, maybe I repeated myself a few times here and there, and I was writing fast and can correct the repetition later on. For now, I just want to issue this wake up call and get feedback, pro and con. I have no agenda and I have no dog in this fight. I just feel, I just feel, it’s time to move on. We are no longer living in the ghettoes and we are already third and fourth generation American Jews. Do we still have to wallow in old, stereotyped jokes that were written by comedians of the past?

I asked around, as my wise editor asked me to, and here are some of the comments I got back so far. More to come in the future, as this manifesto finds its footing.

“The jokes, like many of the comedians, might be aging, but a lot of their point is anachronism, and a lot of that humor originated when the movement out of the ghetto neighborhoods began,” a Princeton scholar in his 60s told me. “Read Arthur Miller’s autobiography, ‘Timebends’, about growing up on the Upper West Side and seeing the chauffeur-driven limousines of his father and other factory owners waiting to take them to the garment district, for example.”

“A lot of older Jewish humor from the past is also positive and refers to aspirations for children to be (or to marry) professionals with a good income — in order to aspire get out of the Bronx or Brooklyn ghetto neighborhoods,” he continued. “What you’re referring to with your manifesto is really part of a broader nostalgia wave — itself old by now, and in part the work of Jewish entrepreneurs like Ralph Lauren. You might also compare Jewish humor to Larry the Cable Guy, who is actually from Nebraska and a college graduate but who created a redneck character. You could say that redneck humor came into its own only with the rise of the Sunbelt. It’s certainly okay to attack the trend of negative Jewish humor, but to me the real objection is that this stuff is getting stale by now. Things are more complicated with black comedians, who took over edgier stuff from their Jewish colleagues.”

And not being able to resist a good Jewish joke, and one I approve of, as this is the essence of life-affirming and positive American humor, my Princeton pal adds: “By the way, Danny, did you know what joke Rodney Dangerfield said always got the biggest laughs for him? Goes like this: ‘A new hire meets with boss, who tells him among other things to keep his salary strictly confidential, replies, “Don’t worry, I’m as ashamed of it as you are.”‘

Peter Kubicek, a 80 year old Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia who spent time in six Nazi labor camp as a child and now lives in New York, and a mensch among mensches, agrees with me but also disagrees, saying: “This manifesto is fine, but I think you go too far. Some of the traditional Jewish jokes we here all the time are simply self-deprecating and indicate that we do not have to take ourselves so seriously all the time. Lighten up, Danny.”

When I queried a respected Jewish professor at Michigan State University for her opinion on the sentiments contained in the manifesto, she wrote back to me in Internet time: “So sorry, Danny. My schedule now is crazy — I’m afraid I cannot read this and don’t have time to respond.”

[I love busy professors who don't want to get involved in the very issues they profess to profess about. That's life in the manifesto lane!]

Another friend of mine, who live on Long Island and is a longtime observer of Jewish culture from the perspective of the publishing field and is himself the son of Holocaust survivors, tells me: “Danny, you don’t know my relatives. Normal is not in their vocabulary. Here’s the thing, who’s normal? Jews are as normal or as abnormal as most other civilized ethnic groups. We tend to have a lot more inbreeding than other groups, but what the hell. I just don’t see having to tell anyone that we are now ‘normal’ in 2012 helps any argument. We all have our ways at looking at the same things and not necessarily seeing the same thing. That’s that makes us interesting. And by the way, Danny, just so you know, my opinion is my opinion, and I know I could always be wrong. It’s just that I know I’m right.”

Wayne Hoffman, a drama critic, said this about the play, which he loved, by the way: ”All the usual topics are covered: Jewish mothers, impotence, digestive problems, death, doctors, assimilation, and, of course, oral sex.”

A very good friend in the Berkshires, a novelist, who knows more about Jews than I will ever know, and has the books behind him to show it, tells me: To be honest, Danny, this manifesto is one of your crusades that simply does not grab me. Popular culture has so little lasting impact that it’s not worth your intelligence or energy to go down this path.”

Says a 93 year old friend of mine in Australia, not Jewish but a longtime newspaperman: ”I support your viewpoint, Danny, but I fear you will have an uphill battle with this manifesto!”

Jewish Princess jokes? Are they still around or did they get the axe? Says a Jewish newspaper editor from Manhattan: “Danny, I don’t see what your manifesto is driving at. I myself haven’t heard a JAP joke in 20 years. I suggest you look for a topic that is more current and relevant to these times.”

So maybe those old stale and often tasteless and sexist JAP jokes have been jettisoned. Good! I always hated those JAP jokes and I am glad to hear they have been retired. Still, Marilyn Stasio, reviewing the play for variety, wrote: “By the time the show moves from Birth and Childhood, through Dating and Marriage and Business and Money and lands between Doctors and Death, Weston has tried on more accents than Jewish American Princesses do shoes.”

So the stale and sexist JAP joke is not dead, it seems, thanks to Ms Stasio, who may or may not be Jewish herself (not that it matters, or does it?)

But what about those stale and anti-female Jewish Mother jokes that are still around and even make their way into the Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent co-production of “Old Jews Telling Jokes”?

Ms. Stasio, again for Variety, writes: “Marilyn Sokol …applies her genius for physical comedy to the adorably named Bunny. Her verbal forte is Jewish mother jokes (Question: “Why don’t Jewish mothers drink?” Answer: “They don’t want to dull the pain”).”

Stasio lands one more Jewish Mother punch: “Lenny Wolpe … is the genial guy, the funny uncle who can make even a Jewish mother laugh.”

[Ms Stasio, please! It's 2012, not 1912? Jewish mothers are doing fine, now. Stop the stereotypes!]

Says one critic of the play, Elisabeth Vincentelli, a native of France who has been living in the USA for the past 20 years, and who liked most of the jokes but had some reservations about some of the material: “Unlike the Old Jews Telling Jokes Website, which you can leave after a ba-dum-bump or three, the off-Broadway show holds you hostage. And no matter how funny the material is here, 90 minutes worth of doctor visits and “oy, my wife!” is exhausting.”

Another critic, also a woman, Jessica Shaw, was more critical: “This play, now playing at Off Broadway’s Westside Theatre, [is an add-on] to the simple website concept’s successful franchise and you’ve got a lot of jokes about overbearing wives who don’t want to have sex with their shlemiel husbands…In fact, the performance I attended left the mostly geriatric audience in stitches, often repeating punchlines for their hard-of-hearing seat-mates…Too often, ‘Old Jews Telling Jokes’ feels like a night of community theater put on for an Upper West Side nursing home.”

And another critic, again a woman, Eleanor J. Bader, said she liked the show for “its funny — and yes, sometimes corny — stuff” but added a note of caution: “Occasionally, however, the sexism is glaring and the Jewish mamma stereotypes are more annoying than amusing.”

Got that Gethers and Okrent? The sexism was glaring and the Jewish mother jokes were more annoying than amusing. Eleanor J. Bader, who liked the show as a whole, said that. It’s important to listen to her, too.

Okay, my friendniks: time to close the curtain on this broadside. Here are four jokes from the play to end with, with my comments, and you, dear reader, please, tell me which ones you like or don’t like:

* A Russian man, a French man and a Jewish man are lost in the desert. The Russian says, “Ach, I’m tired and thirsty — I must haf a wodka.” The Frenchman says, “Mon dieu, I am tired and zirsty, I must have some wine.” The Jew says, “Oy, I’m tired and thoisty — I must have diabetes.” [So Jews in 2012 are more likely to be hypochodriacs than other people?]

* I told my mother I was finally getting married. She was thrilled! She wanted to meet my fiancée so I said, “Ma, I’m gonna play a little game with you. I’m gonna bring in three women and you have to guess which one’s gonna be my wife.” She said fine, so the next day I brought in three beautiful women. My mom talks to each of them for 15 seconds and then she turns to me and says, “The one in the middle.” I said, “Ma, that’s amazing! How’d you do that?” She said, “That’s the one I don’t like.” [So Jewish mothers still act like this in 2012?]

* A man goes to see his rabbi. He says, “Rabbi, I think my wife is poisoning me. I don’t know what to do!” The rabbi says, “Give me a chance to talk to her and I’ll get back to you.” The next day, the rabbi calls the guy and says, “I had a long, long talk with your wife. Three hours at least.” The man says, “Yes, yes, so what’s your advice?” “Take the poison.” [This is funny? In 2012? In 1962, yes but now in 2012?]

* Zipkin and Weinstein walk by a Catholic church. A big sign says, “Convert to Catholicism and Get $50.” Weinstein says, “I’m gonna do it.” He strides into the church and comes out 20 minutes later with his head bowed. Zipkin says, “So, did you get your $50?” Weinstein looks at him and says, “Is that all you people think about?” [So Jews, who contribute in major ways to philanthropic organizations that help all people, not just Jews, are still cast as cheap? In 2012?]

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times puts it this way, in reviewing the play: “Of course, the world and its stereotypes have changed, making some wonder if assimilation threatens the future of Jewish humor,” adding: “This show is more interested in honoring the past than refreshing it.”

Then again, Zinoman is the Times man who thinks tasteless and vile Anne Frank jokes are so funny and that Shalom Auslander is a great Jewish writer. He wrote in his review of “Old Jews Telling Jokes: “Exciting new spins on Jewish mother jokes do exist. Shalom Auslander’s inspired novel “Hope: A Tragedy” is a book-length version.” What? That book is sick! Jewish critics have dismissed it for what it is. Wake up, Jason Zinoman!

I emailed the producer of “Old Jews Telling Jokes,” Daniel Okrent — a Daniel to Daniel email exchange (and we are the same age, 64, same generation, but I am third-generation American Jewish man, and he is apparently a second-generation American-Jewish man and that’s a big difference! — and Dan is a friendly and warm man, about my concerns, and he always answered my emails in a warm and pleasant way, and he said: “Danny, please – you and I are on different wavelengths. I’m not going to persuade you, and you’re not going to persuade me. We’re simply going to disagree.”

And with that, let’s end this commentary, and let the comments begin!

And I don’t expect everyone to agree with me here. In fact, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. But a man’s gotta say what a man’s gotta say. There: I said it.

As for that new off-Broadway play being talked about, “Young Jews Telling Jokes,” I wonder if it will be an improvement, or what? And will anyone in that new play take the advice of “The Silverman Manifesto”?

Bloom is a Jewish American freelance wrwiter now living. Later not living. Datestamped: 1949-2032

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 8:52 am 0

On Jewish Joke Revue 100% Holocaust-Free

When I first began to write “The Silverman Manifesto (2012)”, I had some qualms about how it might or might not go over among American Jews, and whether it might be or might not be accepted. Still, struck by some of the God-awful humor that has made its way into so-called “Jewish humor” over the years — most of it good and life-affirming, but some of it tasteless and sexist and even feeding into the Internet hands of neo-Nazis and anti-semites — I decided to push on with the manifesto in order to raise some issues that I hope thoughtful people will address, pro and on. I have no agenda here, and I am all ears. I am sincerely interested in hearing from all points of view on this, and I will censor no one.

The manifesto below is an alarm bell, I hope, a wake up call for Jewish writers, comedians, film directors, artists, screenwriters, producers, actors and others to re-examine the state of Jewish humor in 2012 and where it’s headed. And a look back to the past might not hurt either.

When I proposed this oped commentary to a Jewish editor in California, he told me that it was a good idea but that it needed some work.

“How about interviewing some Jewish comedians on this topic, and perhaps some sociologists and psychologists as well, and give me a report on why some Jews paint false pictures of themselves,” the editor suggested.

What set me off a few weeks ago was the opening of a new play off-Broadway titled “Old Jews Telling Jokes” that was based on a popular video website that was launched in 2008 by some Jewish dudes with good credentials. The website was and is hilarious, and if you’ve never seen it yet, by all means go and check it out. The videos consist of elderly Jewish men and women, over 60, telling one minute jokes they like to tell. Some of them work. Some of them go over like a lead balloon. But all of the videos on the website are fun and funny and offer an interesting window into Jewish life in America.

I was one of the first to sign up for the free weekly website pitches, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I love humor, especially Jewish humor, and I love old people. I’m the bloke who wrote “Bubbie and Zadie Come To My House” in 1985 and I got some street cred, too. But when the website morphed into an off-Broadway play, and I read some of the reviews, I began to worry that maybe the play was going too far with old, out-dated Jewish jokes that are sexist, vile, tasteless and sometimes even defame Jews as a people. So why, I asked myself, are Jews still putting out this dreck, when there is another way that Jewish humor can go in the 21st Century and that is toward life-affirming, positive, constructive, empathetic, loving humor that is at the same time “all in the family” and fun?

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 8:51 am 0