In honor of this Season of Joy and New Beginnings, I offer this free read and song to you, my all my Best Belovéd Readers.
UPDATE: OMFG! In late December a frozen tardigrade became the first ‘quantum entangled’ animal in history (researchers claim). If you’re a child of the 1970s, you no doubt appreciate the fact that this is the first ever successful creation of artificial extra-sensory perception (ESP) in an animal!!!1!
(Meanwhile, if you are a scientist or someone who read the entire article, you more likely appreciate that these researchers “did not entangle a tardigrade with a qubit in any meaningful sense”—but it’s still neat that they took a tardigrade down to nearly absolute zero and successfully revived it. Hearty lil fellas, right?)
yeah, we’re back to involuntary homeschool again here in Ann Arbor, MI. *sighs*
This was presented by choreographer Sadeck Waff (in white) as part of the the closing ceremonies at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games (the 2024 games will be in Paris).
Last year, during the pandemic, I eavesdropped the most brilliant piece of classroom third-rail navigation I’ve ever seen in my life.
This was in my then-third grader’s Zoom music class (we’ll leave for another day any discussion of the crime against humanity that is “grade-school Zoom music class”).
This is always a fraught time of year for grade-school music teachers: They wanna sing Xmas songs, most of the kids wanna sing Xmas songs, but the constant Othering definitely grinds away at the Jewish kids (esp. when they try and “include” you be singing the “Dreidel Song”; that song is crap, and we know it. The Xmas songs are way better).
So in my daughter’s class, the teacher shows this slide: it’s an unremarkable middle-aged White dude, “Mitchell Parish.” Who the heck is Mitchell Parish? Well, he was born in Lithuania, and brought here by his parents, who were Jews (my daughter immediately perks up; Jews! Like us!) and he was a popular songwriter in New York in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s—and he wrote the lyrics to “Sleigh Ride”!
*advance to next slide*
*kids sing “Sleigh Ride”*
*EVERYONE IS A WINNER!*
My daughter felt seen, gentiles got their Christmas carol, and no one had to sing the goddamned “Dreidel Song.”
So there’s the trick to getting to sing Christmas carols in public school:
Start out with a brief bio of the Jews who wrote your Xmas song
(all your favorite Xmas songs were written by Jews; you’re welcome).
Heck, you can do a whole Winter Concert—featuring “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “Run, Run Rudolph”—on just a single bio slide: All four of those classics were written by the same Jew (the inimitable Johnny Marks, whose Jewish brother-in-law was the guy who created Rudolph to begin with).
I probably can’t tell you anything much, but I can show you the work of sculptor Ronit Baranja, which I love.
I’m a child of the 1980s, so most of my nostalgic holiday memories are TV-related. 🤷♀️
1. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”
(Yeah, I repost this every year, because I love this gag, and because watching this on TV—and rehashing it with my mom and sisters each year—is one of my fondest holiday memories. But it is, in my humble, a damn-near perfect gag. That’s saying something, because I find single-camera laugh-track situation comedies almost entirely unbearable to watch. If you wanna read more of my thoughts on this specific gag and what it can teach writers, you can do so here.)
2. “…your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs; we will sell our bracelets by the road sides…”
3. ♬♫♪ “Caught his eye on turkey day / As we both ate Pumpkin Pie … ” ♬♫♪
4. “What do Jews do on Thanksgiving?”
(I wrote this essay a few years back; every word is both true and factual—which is a harder trick than you’d think.)
You’ll be 15 minutes into that Lesser Family Feast in Michigan when your mother-in-law will turn to you and ask:
“What do Jews do on Thanksgiving?”
You should be prepared for this sort of thing in Michigan. But even though I’m warning you in advance, you still won’t be prepared.…(excerpt from IN MICHIGAN: A PRIMER, A TRAVELOGUE)
I hope your day is good and sweet. Gobblegobble! 🦃💀