You know when a dude dumps a chick…

… because he “thinks he can do better”, but then it turns out that

  1. He can’t “do better” and
  2. She just kept getting hotter and more awesome?

I feel like that’s gentiles’ relationship with Paganism.  You cats backed the wrong fucking horse, is all I’m saying:

Merry Xmasnacht!!! 🎅🏿⛄️🎄🔥💀🌞

Xappy XmanuLUBBA-DUB-DUUUUB-ukah!!! ♪♫♪♬🎅🏿🎄✡️🐲🔥🇺🇸⛄️🕎

I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now).  My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian.  Both my maternal grandparents—with whom I spent a lot of time growing up—were practicing Christians. Far from shockingly, my own marriage is mixed (my wife was raised Catholic, our kids are Jews who end up participating in a lot of Xtian traditions).  Interfaith families are really common now, but were much less so when I was young.

As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. But there were at least some. Meanehle, there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.

So, listen, America: As a rule, we’re a nation that always wants everyone to be one thing or another thing—black or white, nerd or jock, Jew or Gentile, girl or boy. We don’t have much patience for things that are mixed and ambiguous and a lil-o’-both, neither hot or cold. Subsequently, most of us neither-fish-nor-fowl spend a(n un)healthy portion of our lives aggresively trying to be One True Thing.  I was in my 20s, and in a Women’s Studies class, before I learned what the hell “intersectionality” was, and my identity began to finally start to make any sense to me.

Anyway, there weren’t many mixed kids like me when I was growing up—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what I saw and felt and loved about wintertime.

So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.

Enjoy!

Xappy Xanukah! ♪♫♪♬

I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now).  My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian.  Both my maternal grandparents—with whom I spent a lot of time growing up—were practicing Christians. Far from shockingly, my own marriage is mixed (my wife was raised Catholic, our kids are Jews who end up participating in a lot of Xtian traditions).  Interfaith families are really common now, but were much less so when I was young.

As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. There weren’t many songs for Jewish kids, but there were some; there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re sort of a nation that always wants everyone to be one thing or another thing—black or white, nerd or jock, Jew or Gentile, girl or boy—and doesn’t have much patience for things that are mixed and ambiguous and a lil-o’-both.  I was in my 20s, and in a Women’s Studies class, before I learned what the hell “intersectionality” was, and my identity began to make any sense to me.

This year—for the third year running—my local Jewish Community Center is collecting donations of Christmas presents, to be given to the Syrian refugees relocated here.

On the one hand, that sounds almost too perfectly absurd: Jews giving Muslims Christmas presents.  On the other, it feels like basically the most perfect possible introduction to America.🕎🎄☪🇺🇸

Anyway, there weren’t many mixed kids like me when I was growing up—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what I saw and felt and loved about wintertime.

So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.

Enjoy!

Beats per Week 10: Merry Xanukristallmas!

I’ve been woefully lax on the beats this month. All apologies; my event schedule, plus holiday prep and holidays, has had me running like the proverbial chicken.  To make it up, I’m posting three deep-cuts today, all from back when I used to record annual Xmanukah Songs and had not yet developed crippling shame at my core musical incompetencies.  Enjoy!

Happy Non-Denominational Gift Giving Holiday Season, Mofos!

(NOTE: If you’re feeling deja vu, don’t sweat it; I post this every year, because I love you)

I’m a mixed Jew who’s lived in the American Midwest for his entire life. I think these songs, more than anything else I’ve ever written, are honest about that experience.

  • Another Dark Xmastime (FUN FACT: I wrote this during my first year as a fundamentally unemployable stay-at-home dad; my son believes it is an accepted part of the general Xmas Music Canon.)
  • Dreidel Bells (FUN FACT: The beat here is an original GameBoy running an early German Nanoloop cartridge. Both voices are obviously me, but the filters for the robot voice badly overburdened my iBook, causing significant lag–which is why Mr. Roboto struggles so badly to hit his marks.)
  • DreidelDreidelDreidel (FUN FACT: The beat here is a vintage analog Boss DR-55 once owned by POE, crammed through a heavy-metal distortion stompbox.)

DIE HARD (its Origins), Violence, Redemption, and Xmas (Plus a Bonus Writing Tip!)

Good pal Mojo got me thinking about DIE HARD again the other day, and it brought to mind the novel that movie is based on, NOTHING LASTS FOREVER by Roderick Thorpe–which I read over Xmas last year. Below I’ve pasted a slight polishing-up of my Goodreads review of NOTHING LASTS FOREVER (which I gave 4 of 5 stars) from early this year.

Takeaway: “Xmas stories are inherently about redemption, as is Xmas, which for so many families seems to be the Hail Mary pass of the emotional calendar.”

And also this fact: As Americans we have quietly accepted–in our narratives, and in our government actions, and in our news stories, and in our lives–that the truest Redemption comes through Violence. I don’t state that as media criticism, but as Fact: The Big Win if we want to reduce the amount of high-speed lead going into bodies in this country won’t come from bickering about banning X or buying back Y or screaming about Z’s right to keep and bear As, or screeching that all the Bs are a bunch of Cs for valuing their Ds more than the lives of Es . . . or whatever. It won’t come from threats (no matter how dire) or from punishments (no matter how sever). We will significantly curb our violence when we start telling each other new stories about how to address problems with something other than Force. Full stop.

So, please, be gently–with yourself and with everyone else–on these Days of Awe.

Anyway, that got harsh, and I apologize; it’s Funseasoneveryonehappytime! So, the review:

Here’s the caveat on that rating: This book is actually 5+ for fans of DIE HARD (not the franchise, which God willing *has no fans*, but the original movie), but probably something like 3 stars for Normal Humans Not Already Wrapped Up in an Exploration of Crime Fiction and 1970s Nihilism (for those touring American crime fiction looking to get the lay of the land, I give this an honest 4 stars–and there we sit).

This book is sturdy enough–the pace is good, the bigotry relatively muted, the writing basically stays out of the way–but I’m going to go out on a limb and says that the only thing that makes it remotely interesting to the vast bulk of modern readers is that it’s the basis for DIE HARD (which, incidentally, is my favorite Christmas movie. In case it can’t go without saying, I’m not Christian–but nonetheless feel this film, both in content and mood, captures something ineffable but central to the Xmases of my youth. I can even go so far as to let DIE HARD 2 in on Xmas. But it stops there, Bruce Willy, despite you being my shiznt. For real.) But it’s NOTHING LASTS and DIE HARD taken *together* that’s so fascinating, because they’re basically Dark Twins.

DIE HARD retains the structure of NOTHING LASTS: The basic formula is the same (Problem Solver arrives to CA via plane, ends up sucked into loved one’s raucous office Xmas party, thugs invade, elevators, machine guns, cops and walkie-talkies, ho-ho-ho, &c.), all of the set-piece action sequences that make DIE HARD a delight are carried over from the movie, and both are similarly rooted in a downright iron-clad commitment to the Aristotelian Unities of time/space/action[*] They are, in essence, the same fundamental story told differently, like two bands’ alternate covers of the same ur-song. (I know, it sounds like I’m bizarrely claiming that somehow NOTHING LASTS–which came first and is the *cited source* for DIE HARD doesn’t have primacy. I am, in fact, claiming just that. Like STAR WARS vs. WHATEVER SOURCE YOU FAVOR, this story hits a Deep Place in the American psyche).

But DIE HARD and NOTHING LASTS are twins separated at birth and raised in different homes and in different time periods. DIE HARD–and this is why the DH version of the story has legs that NOTHING LASTS doesn’t–is fundamentally about the Redemptive Power of Violence (both enacting and enduring violence) in the New Year Birth Season of what, in all honesty, is sort of the craziest God you could make up. It makes the ur-story seem like some Norse myth lit only by fire in the darkest depths of the dying time. NOTHING LASTS is no less violent, no less grueling for protagonist or thrilling for the reader, but it is deeply cynical (in the way only America of the ’70s could be) and fundamentally nihilistic. It’s not about the Redemptive Power of Violence because it exists in a universe where there can be no redemption–which is also why, in contrast to DH, it doesn’t *read* as a Christmas story, despite having exactly the same timing and setting.

Xmas stories are inherently about redemption, as is Xmas, which for so many families seems to be the Hail Mary pass of the emotional calendar.

By itself, NOTHING LASTS is the sorta book you find abandoned in a beach rental, read over the course of a couple days while your kids get sunburned, then re-abandon in a motel lobby once you’ve finished the final page. But reading it against DIE HARD lets you see what’s really making DIE HARD work as an essential Xtian American text about how Violence–absorbing it and meting it out–is *the* Way to Solve Our Problems. Frankly, having them side by side answers a helluva lotta questions raised by the daily news.

Recommended, especially in this time of Giving and Receiving.

On Micro-agression and Macro-depression and Xmas/Xanukah (with bonus tracks!!!)

Hey All,
I continue to write a monthly column for the Ann Arbor Chronicle. This time around it’s on math and Jews and *The Holidays* and microagression and Thoth and Ganeesh and Hobby Lobby and so on. Somewhere in the later half I say something like this:

The Ann Arbor Chronicle | In It For The Money: Happy Holidays!

. . .
This is incredibly frustrating – because the equivalence, driven by a well-intentioned desire to be inclusive – is so needless. Xanukah isn’t a “Jewish Xmas.” It’s Xanukah – a relatively minor religious holiday celebrating a military victory. If anything, it’s sort of a Jewish Fourth of July – which is more apt, but just as nonsensical. Similarly, Ramadan isn’t a “Muslim Lent,” Diwali isn’t “Hindu Halloween” – or even a “Hindu Xanukah,” despite the fact that Diwali is also the “Festival of Lights.”
Inclusion is nice, but you do it by including others in the stuff you are doing, not by arguing that their things are sub-functions of yours. We’re not idiots; we haven’t failed to notice that the entirely secular “Holiday Break” from school conveniently centers around Xmas and the Gregorian calendar roll-over date, and that “Spring Break” is aimed to coincide with Easter – not Passover.
One of the principal privileges of being in the Majority is that you get to be, by definition, “normal.” You don’t find yourself constantly contradicted by outsiders – well-meaning television shows and well-wishers and folks planning office parties – as to what your holy days mean. You don’t have to wrestle with autocorrect about the spelling of your holidays and well wishes. You don’t have to disclose a lot of personal details to explain why this or that day is no good for a meeting, because no one schedules a meeting for December 25th.
. . .

BONUS GIFT! Back in the day I used to record Holiday Music of my Own Devising, because it was fun, and because when push comes to shove, from a strumming-and-singing-and-programming-sequencers perspective, there are *a lot* of great Xmas songs. Here are my offerings, in reverse chronological order. Enjoy!

(FUN FACT: I wrote this while hanging out with my infant son all day, and have played it annually ever since; my son believes it is an accepted part of the general Xmas Music Canon.)

  • Dreidel Bells (FUN FACT: The beat here is an original GameBoy running an early German Nanoloop cartridge. Both voices are obviously me, but the filters for the robot voice badly overburdened my iBook, causing significant lag–which is why Mr. Roboto struggles so badly to hit his marks.)
  • DreidelDreidelDreidel (FUN FACT: The beat here is a vintage analog Boss DR-55 once owned by POE, crammed through a heavy-metal distortion stompbox.)